Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, writer, and possessed by cats

Author: Amanda (Page 1 of 66)

When the writer brain is tired

Over the weekend, I spent some time painting part of the inside of the house as well as doing other “chores”. Very little writing was done because, to be honest, the writer brain was tired. I’d spent the week before doing prep work for the next several projects, as well as updating my promotions plan and more. So, because I didn’t have the brain power to read or write, I watched movies. To be specific, I watched some really bad movies. The lesson learned was I really do need to pay attention when my friends tell me a movie is so bad you don’t even want to watch it when it’s free on TV.

The first was a short, perhaps part of a series. I’m not sure and not interested enough to find out. The premise wasn’t unique by a long shot. The world is coming to an end soon and it is up to one martial artist to prove himself worthy and to save us all. We’ve seen it a million times. The difference this time was that the martial artist was an African-American government agent of some sort. The plot itself wasn’t bad but the fight scenes were so poorly choreographed as to be laughable. Anyone knowing anything about fighting, much less martial arts, would be able to spot the problems with what they were doing. Because of the way these sequences were filmed, the tension of the fights, the excitement that comes with a well-done fight scene was lacking. If the short had been anything longer than half an hour, I would not have kept watching.

The second was the first of several movies I watched — or tried to watch. It was the new version of Ghostbusters. Now, I loved the original. It was fun and didn’t take itself seriously. This new one, nope. I didn’t think it possible to make a movie with effects worse now than they were 30 years ago but you can. And they did. The writing was anything but inspired and it was not funny. Sure, I may have smiled, slightly, in a couple of places but it was nothing close to the original.

There were some talented actors (male and female) in the movie and that is what makes it such a crime. I blame Hollyweird for not being creative. It is easier to take something that was a hit years ago and remake it or rebrand it ot whatever. The problem is, that rarely works. We’ve decades of examples the bean counters should have looked at but didn’t. All they saw was that the original worked so surely this would.

Nope and nope and nope. The best thing about the movie was knowing it was over and I had the option of deleting it from my DVR. Which I did.

The biggest disappointment was another movie I’d heard was a disappointment but I had to see for myself.

Independence Day: Resurgence had the potential of being awesome. The original, despite screwing the science up so badly, was a fun flick that I have watched more than once. Part of that was the “we can and will prevail or die trying” attitude of the main characters. Part was the relationship between some of the characters. Then there was the comic relief of Randy Quaid. There was enough fun in the movie as well as explosions and evil aliens, etc.

This new installment. Nope and nope and nope again. If I had paid to see it in the theater, I’d have asked for my money back. The acting was, on the whole, second and third rate. The plot, which could have been great, was predictable and, there’s not way around it, If they explained what happened to some of the characters from the earlier movie, I missed it. (I think I dozed during part of the film. Either that or my mind shut down out of self-protection,)

It comes down to this, if you are going to do a sequel to a much-loved movie — and it doesn’t matter how cheesy the movie is — you need to do the original justice. You can’t simply slowly stroll through the plot and hope folks will stay with you just because they expect aliens and explosions at some point. For example, the original ID4 opened with that great sequence of something passing by the moon. You saw the footprints on the surface and the flag and then it was darkened as something very big and ominous passed by. That immediately signaled something big was about to happen and it might not be a good thing. In the newest installment, you don’t have that. There is no hook, nothing to keep you — or at least me — interested.

So, in a way, I guess the weekend viewing was a lesson for me to remember as a writer. Hook the reader right out of the gate. On that happy note, it is time to get to work. Later!

Busy, busy, busy and more

This week has been, in a word, busy. Hence the silence on the blog. One thing I’ve learned over the last several years is that when the fiction flows, the non-fiction (blog) takes a backseat. For that, I apologize, sort of. But I now have several short stories/novellas  (Battle Wounds, and two in the Eerie Side of the Tracks universe) rough drafted but I also have basic plot notes for several more novels. Add in the current works-in-progress and I know what I’m going to be doing for the next year or so  and that all assumes Myrtle the Evil Muse doesn’t hijack me with something along the way.

I’ll be honest, another reason I’ve stayed away from the blog is the fact that I did not want to go ballistic over some of the things I’ve seen in the headlines. Between Bill O’Reilly and some of the accusations against him to the Antifa protesters at Berkeley and just Berkeley itself, not to mention a local city council candidate, I sometimes wonder who in the hell we managed to claw our way out of the sea, much less the caves.

When you have (allegedly) college professors donning hoods or masks and attacking unarmed people just because they don’t agree with you, you have to wonder what those profs are teaching our children. When you have a university that prides itself on backing freedom of speech finding what seem like spurious reasons to prevent conservatives from speaking on campus, you have to wonder if they interpret the First Amendment the same way you and I do. When you have the media and public forgetting that we are assumed innocent until proven guilty, you have to wonder how far we are from the lynch mobs.

But the cake goes to the candidate who, allegedly, said that people who don’t feel they can afford to pay the taxes in our town should move to one of the neighboring towns. On the surface, the statement doesn’t appear too bad. However, the cities named might have lower tax rates than we do but, if you look at property valuations there, someone moving from here to there, even if they moved into comparable homes, would wind up paying more. While I understand the point the candidate attempted to make, the lack of knowledge of what is going on in our surrounding communities is dumbfounding.

Then there is the candidate who wonders why the city isn’t handing out — for free, one assumes — special food so people can feed the ducks at the local pond. Let’s forget about the cost to the city to provide the food, find a way to dispense and to clean up after it is put everywhere in the park but in the ducks’ mouths, I can certainly think of other things our town needs more than free duck food. The fact is the city passed the no feeding ordinance based on recommendations and, iirc, regulations from the state’s Parks and Wildlife Department.  The city spent thousands of dollars updating and cleaning the “lake” where the ducks live, and one of the driving reasons for that was the health of the ducks. But, damn, to hear it from a very small part of our populace, you’d think the city council hated all animals and were all named Grinch because they could no longer go feed the ducks.

Yet this is their big concern. Not the fact we are landlocked with very little area to expand our tax base. They want our town to be more than a bedroom community but they cry because they can’t feed the ducks and want the city to pay more for it. Where the hell are the priorities? Worse, why is this sort of mindset — attention on the very small and irrelevant details — what seems to be driving so many today?

Okay, enough of this. Deep breath and remember that just because a few yell the loudest, it doesn’t mean the majority backs them. In fact, my guess is that the majority is busy keeping their heads down and trying to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads. Like me, they would rather those running for office — and those reporting on them — looked outside their small bubbles and realized there were others out there besides their own echo chambers. If they had before the last election, they might have realized not only that none of the usual suspects, er candidates, were going to win the presidency but that a TV personality and millionaire would.

Now, I’m going to put my head back down and get back to trying to put food on the table and keep a roof over my head.

Business

This is going to be a short post today. Over the weekend, I had a long talk with myself and one of the things I need to do is take care of business. In this case, it means more than writing, although that’s a big part of it. I need to go back and check my sales trends for the last quarter, six months and year. If adjustments need to be made, I need to figure out what they are and start taking steps in the right direction. That might mean changing the price on some items and updating covers on others.

It also means looking at my marketing plan and bringing it up-to-date. For those of you who have been following me here and at Mad Genius Club, you know I hate promoting my own work. I know. I know. It’s silly. I’m a writer. That means I ought to be shouting from the rooftops when I have a new book coming out. It also means I should be reminding everyone about my books and short stories that are already out. Unfortunately, like so many writers, I’d rather keep my head down and just write.

Part of that is how I was raised. My folks would have smacked me up side the head, figuratively if not literally, if I started bragging about my accomplishments. Oh, it was okay for them to brag on me but not for me to do it. So, after that upbringing, it’s hard to break the habit. But, I have to remember that I’m not bragging on myself when I promote my books. They are my business and that promotion is advertising.

So, I need to look at what I’ve been doing and deciding what works, what doesn’t and what would if I was really doing it the way I should. That means adulting and being businesslike and that makes for a grumpy Amanda. 😉

In the meantime, I have a favor to ask. If you’ve read my books, please go to Amazon and leave a review. Believe it or not, reviews really do help with the promotion end of the business because Amazon has certain levels we have to reach on the number of reviews and how many stars before they start including the books on the “if you liked this, you might like that” sort of recommendations.

Now, I’m off to be businesslike today. Back tomorrow.

Readin’ and Writin’

Five or so years ago, I wandered into an online discussion where a wannabe writer was doing a perfect imitation of a stubborn two-year-old. You could see this person stomping his foot, arms folded across his chest and all but threatening to hold his breath until he turned blue. The reason wasn’t because he’d gotten a bad critique. It was much more basic. This wanna be was pitching a fit because he didn’t understand why others were telling him it was important to read.

Yes, a writer didn’t understand why it was important to read.

But it gets better. This writer, and I use that term loosely, didn’t understand that it’s important to read the genre you want to write. Now, on the surface, the excuse might seem reasonable. According to this person, they were afraid their “unique” voice would be contaminated by anything they might read. We tried explaining that the voice wouldn’t be, not if it was solidly entrenched in the writer’s mind. We explained how a writer needed to know what current trends and tropes were. There was more and none of it got through to this wanna be. He kicked and he stomped and he pitched a fit before gathering up his toys and going home, figuratively. What he did was leave the group and not return.

It isn’t the only time I’ve encountered writers who truly believe they don’t need to read in the genre they write. When asked, some give similar answers to the writer above. Others will say they don’t like reading that genre. That last answer always throws me. How can you write a genre you don’t like to read? I guess some folks can but not me.

And I do read. Mind you, I don’t always read the genre I’m writing WHILE I’m writing. That’s one of the nice things about writing in several different genres. While writing sf, I can read mysteries. While writing mysteries, I can read sf. You get the picture.

It is rare to find me without reading material close at hand. I love e-books for that reason. I can read on my phone, my tablet or my laptop. Six or eight months ago, I bought myself a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader. I had always loved my e-ink Kindles but they had the drawback of not being lit. It meant I had to have an external light source at night or in ill-lit areas. Friends had suggested a Paperwhite and, when it went on sale, I splurged.

I’ll be honest, I loved the lit screen. What I had problems with was the touchscreen. I missed the page turn buttons and it wasn’t always easy to get the control bar to come up. It was me, not the device. But it kept me from using it as much as I would have. So I continued reading more often than not on my tablet — and getting the accompanying eye strain. (More on that later)

Earlier this week, I was wandering through Amazon and saw they had the Kindle Oasis E-reader with Leather Charging Cover for sale where you could pay it out over several months. I hesitated. The price of the Oasis was still much more than I wanted to pay for a dedicated e-book reader. I could buy a cheap Chromebook or a decent tablet for it. But, the pull to buy it was there. It was the reader in me. I wanted to read a book — and, yes, and e-book is a book — without the distractions offered by tablets or laptops or phones.

So I did some research and talked to some friends who already owned the Oasis. Finally, after a couple of days of back-and-forth, I ordered it. I knew I could return it if I decided I didn’t like it. So I waited for the delivery to arrive, wondering what I had gotten myself into.

All I can say is, “WOW!”

Even though the screen is the same size as the Paperwhite — or near enough to make no difference — the actual footprint of the Oasis is much smaller. With the leather charging case, included in the cost of the reader, it feels more like a “real” reading experience. Better yet, the case has navigation buttons. Actual buttons.

But there is more to set it apart from the Paperwhite. Like its predecessor, the Oasis has screen lights. What makes it better is the number of lights on the Oasis number more than on the Paperwhite. Coupled with the glass screen instead of paper, it helps make the text appear sharper. The overall lighting of the entire screen seems to be more uniform than on the Paperwhite. Better yet, because of the smaller size and weight, I find myself taking the Oasis with me everywhere and I am reading more than I had been.

And that brings me back to my previous comment about eye strain. Like most writers — heck, like most anyone who works in an office — my days is spent looking at computer screens. A couple of years ago, my mother’s retinologist talked with her about how the flickering of screens (admittedly much better now than in years past) as well as reflection off of a computer or tablet screen, is a prime cause of eye strain and headaches. He preferred she read using an e-ink display. He preferred e-ink over print as well.

While working on my last book, I realized something. I wasn’t reading as much after I finished writing for the day. It didn’t take long to realize a big part of it was eye strain. After hours at the laptop, my eyes hurt and my head hurt. Changing the lighting or where I worked helped a little but the source of the problem was still there — the screen.

Since getting the Oasis, I’m back to reading. So I’m keeping the Oasis and going to give the Paperwhite to my mother. And I highly recommend for anyone who finds themselves not wanting to read e-books after a long day at the computer to consider one of the e-ink readers. Amazon has a line of them as do other merchants. Besides not having the reflection problem tablets have they have the added benefit of no distraction. No email. No games. No internet. You simply get lost in your book.

What a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

Head, meet desk

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last two days, you’ve probably heard more about the United Airlines kerfluffle than you ever wanted to know. It’s a given that the incident in Chicago is a public perception nightmare for the airline. No one, at least none that I know of, thinks the airline handled the original situation or the pr nightmare that followed in anything close to the right way. However, that’s not what this post is about — at least not completely.

Yesterday, as well as the day before, I blogged about how we need to be careful about what we do and say on social media. Those posts were mainly about how authors and editors present themselves to the reading public and to potential clients. Today’s post, however, comes via a series of comments in response to a FB post made by a friend of mine.

Now the post itself wasn’t that much different from many others I’ve seen over the last 24 hours or so. My friend discussed what happened on the flight and then talked about how the media not only named the passenger involved but how some outlets were attempting to smear his name in what looked like an attempt to make United appear to be the wronged party instead of the other way around. At some point, Sarah — and others — made the comment that they felt United might have been behind leaking the passenger’s name to the press.

And that is where the idiocy from a third-party came in. You see, this person read an opinion as a statement of fact and got all hot and bothered, demanding sources for such an outrageous statement. It didn’t matter that the people making it said it was their opinion. They had said it and he wanted proof.

No matter what anyone said, no matter how they tried to approach the situation, he kept wanting sources cited.

Now remember, this is in response to a personal opinion on FB, not a story released by a major media outlet. It was an opinion based on personal experience, on the reading and listening to a number of different sources reporting on the incident and more.

What gets me about how this person dug in and refused to let go of the demand for a source to back up the personal opinion is how they continue to ignore the fact that opinions and decisions are made all the time based on information from a number of different sources and that is colored through the lens of personal opinion. It is rare when we can point to something and say “THIS!” is the reason why something happened and have that, whatever it is, be the only factor involved.

In this particular case, I can see how United very well might have been the source of the leak of the passenger’s name to the media. After all, they knew who they had “picked” to be removed from the plane because they needed four seats for crew members. They knew who they had told security to remove. They knew who had tried to reboard and who had to be removed again. In other words, it all begins with United.

Now, it is also possible the security team leaked the man’s identity. However, usually when the media gets a suspect’s name from law enforcement, they tell us something along the lines of “as identified by”. I have seen none of that so far. In fact, the media is excruciatingly silent on how they identified the passenger.

One of the possible explanations thrown out by the person taking umbrage to the opinion United might have been involved was that the passenger had been in the news before and someone local might have recognized him and called the media to make the ID. Again, where is the confirmation of this. Media outlets aren’t hesitant to let us know how they came to identify someone — unless their source doesn’t want to be named. Then it is “an unnamed source” in the report.

Considering how some of the media reports have been trying to pain the passenger as being a “bad” person based on past behavior — which has nothing to do with what happened — I doubt a member of the reading/viewing public made the ID. No, this smacks of someone either at United or with airport security telling the press who the passenger was and the press trying to pain the airline in the best possible light by digging up events from the doctor’s life that had nothing to do with what happened onboard that jet.

So here’s the thing. While the person was demanding everyone give sources for their OPINION United was behind leaking the passenger’s name, he had no problem bringing up other scenarios about how it could have happened — without offering proof. Worse, and what brought about this post, was his inability or whatever to actually discuss the issue. He dug his heels in and wouldn’t let go.

Now, I love me a good debate. I’ve even been known to dig my heels in a time or two. But I also know I have to listen to what the other side is saying and make sure I understand their position. If they ask a question, I need to be prepared to answer it — not ignore it and continue to hold to my position without wavering. Hell, I have to be ready to admit I might be wrong or I might have misunderstood the original premise.

That is especially true when dealing with social media. One of my biggest pet peeves about it — and with email, texting and the like — is that we don’t get the human interaction. We see only words, not inflection or facial expression. What we might mean one way can be easily interpreted another because the person reading our words don’t see us or hear us as we speak them. They are nothing but words on the screen and in social media we tend to take shortcuts that don’t help get the real message across.

There is another thing to consider. If most of the commenters in a thread are taking you to task for something, whether you are right or wrong, you have to ask yourself if it is worth your time to keep coming back to the thread and trying to justify what you said. It is so very easy to fall down the time pit that is social media as it is. Do any of us need to add to the time we spend there?

In other words, think before you hit enter. Make sure you understand what someone said and ask for clarification if you don’t. Don’t waste time if the person has shown themselves to be incapable of engaging in discussion. And, most of all, follow Jim Baen’s main rule for Baen’s Bar — Don’t be a butthead.

A quick note

Just a quick note to remind everyone that I’m blogging over at Mad Genius Club today. Also, I’m hip deep in writing Battle Bound, the next short story in the Honor and Duty universe. I’m excited about the story, which falls between Taking Flight (Honor and Duty) and Battle Bound (Honor and Duty). I hadn’t started out planning it that way but that’s the story demanding to be written. It’s going to cover one of Ashlyn’s first missions as a Devil Dog.

I’ll be done with the rough draft of the story this week. Then it will be back to Nocturnal Rebellion. Then on to Victory from Ashes and the rest of the year’s schedule. Yep, think I’m going to be busy. For now, it’s time to get back to writing.

Later!

Taking Responsibility

Sometimes, the last thing I want to do is adult. I would much rather go back to the time when the most stressful thing I had to do was make sure my room was picked up to my mother’s standards. Back then, I didn’t have to worry about being responsible or, well, being an adult. But, like it or not, I grew up and real life smacked me in the face. So, I adult. I might grouse about it from time to time, but adulting happens. It has to if I want to make sure there’s food on the table and a roof over my head.

Sure, I could sit back and go on the dole but that’s not me. I’m not saying it would never happen. I learned a long time ago never to say never. But what it does mean is I’m not going to do so as long as I am able to work and do whatever I can to bring in money. You see, I don’t believe anyone owes me anything and that goes doubly for the government. I don’t want to have to rely upon the idiots in Austin or Washington for my well-being. I see the strings that come attached with their “help” and those strings aren’t something I want to deal with.

No, this isn’t going to be a screed against the welfare system. What it is is me trying to make sense of all the whining I’ve seen of late — hell, let’s be honest, since the election — by folks who simply can’t understand why others can’t be nice and throw money their way. These folks offer to do work at a certain price and then take to social media when they aren’t paid extra — or if they aren’t given the appropriate words of thanks for their efforts.

Years ago, long before I went into business for myself, I did my research. I listened to those in the profession — and this wasn’t writing but the lessons apply to it or to any other form of self-employment. They told me to make sure I had enough capital on hand to meet expenses, plus reasonable extras, for a minimum of 12 months. They preferred at least 18 months. Why? Because it would take time to build the business up to a point where it was bringing in profit. Until that happened, I needed to have money on hand to pay my bills, not just for the business but personally as well. I needed to make sure I had money for insurance and utilities. I needed to be able to handle an emergency if it happened. And believe me, emergencies happen.

Even now, when I write for a living, I have extra sources of income I tap into because I know some months won’t have the same level of income as others. I edit, I do consulting in my former “real life” job. There are others things I do. I don’t always like it but I don’t take to social media to bitch and moan — in public — about it.

It amazes me the number of people who do just that. Oh, they might not name names but they give enough detail that the “offending” person would recognizes himself should he see the post. Even if he doesn’t, someone does and, if they’re like me, they make a mental note not to ever do work with the person complaining. Sure, the complainer might have ever reason to be upset but you don’t air the dirty laundry in public. It isn’t good form when it comes to your business. You especially don’t do it when you are then whining because you aren’t getting any new customers.

Believe it or not, I had at least half a dozen of these sorts of stories come across my morning Twitter and Facebook feeds this morning. Not one of them showed a bit of personal reflection where the poster wondered if maybe they were the problem. Not one admitted that maybe they shouldn’t have taken the job they were complaining about. Nope, it was always the other guy’s fault. They didn’t understand the amount of work put in. They didn’t get that the tips were a necessary part of survival. They didn’t get. . .  well, you get the idea.

Here’s something we all need to remember if we’re in business for ourselves. Don’t bitch in public.

I know not every person on social media understands just how insecure their comments are. They think they have security locked down and then they never check their settings again. Well guess what? Facebook is notorious for glitching and setting your security at lower levels. There’s even a way that if a “friend” comments on your post, their “friends” an then see it. So that bitch session you thought was private is suddenly being viewed by hundreds or thousands of potential clients. Clients who are most definitely not seeing you in a favoring light.

There’s something else to consider. If you are so dependent on clients paying you above the contracted price, and if you expect them to do so, you are going about pricing wrong. The only business where most people will tip without thinking about it is the food service industry. Why? Because we know tips are the majority of our server’s income.

That’s not the case for contracted services. Do you tip your HVAC repair man? I don’t. Nor do I tip my plumber or my roofer. I don’t tip my lawyer or my accountant. Hell, my accountant would probably skin me alive if I brought in receipts showing I had tipped anyone except my waiter or waitress. I bet most of you are the same way.

In other words, if you have your contracted (legal) services — editing or painting or whatever — offered at a certain price and both sides agree to it, then it is assumed by the other party that you have priced your work at what you think is the appropriate level. We rely upon the person we are making the contract with to know how much money they need to meet their expenses. Then it is up to us to determine if those services are worth the cost BEFORE we enter into the contract.

This is all a roundabout way of saying we each need to take responsibility for what we do and what we charge if we are in business for ourselves. We can’t expect our clients to know that we are being nice — or desperate — when we offer a rate that really is lower than it should be. We can’t expect those clients to then give us more money than we asked for in the contract.

In short, it is time to adult and take responsibility — not for what anyone else is doing but for ourselves. And, with that, I am going to adult by making another mug of coffee and starting to work on Battle Wounds, the third short story in the Honor and Duty universe. Links are below to the Taking Flight and Battle Bound, the first two shorts.

Taking Flight (Honor and Duty)

Duty, honor, sacrifice. That motto meant everything to newly commissioned Second Lieutenant Ashlyn Shaw. She thought she understood the meaning of those simple words. Little did she know.

Challenged by those who believed she made it through the Academy on her family’s coattails, a roommate who just wants to see “some action” and a gunnery sergeant determined to make a real Marine out of her, Ash soon realizes what it means to be a Marine. As the signs point to war on the horizon, she is determined to do everything she can to serve Fuercon and do the Corps proud.

Battle Bound (Honor and Duty)

Newly promoted, Captain Ashlyn Shaw has been ordered to take Delta Company to the Bennington System. Their mission is simple: secure groundside defenses and seek out the Callusian invaders. It should be a simple assignment. The Fuerconese Navy had proven itself time and again since war had been declared to be more than a match for the Callusians. Once Taskforce Liberator, under the command of Admiral Tremayne, secured the system approaches, Ash and her Devil Dogs could get to work.

Except no battle plan ever survives the first encounter with the enemy. This time the Callusians are breaking pattern and it will take everything Tremayne and Ashlyn have to lead their people to victory.

The Devil Dogs will get the mission done, no matter what the cost.

But he never got into trouble

How many times have we seen someone say that after a loved one has been killed doing something he — or she — shouldn’t have been doing? In the latest case, three Oklahoma teens, ranging in age from 16 – 19, broke into a home. Dressed in black, wearing masks and with at least one sporting brass knuckles, they chose the wrong house to rob. The house was not unoccupied at the time. Instead of finding easy pickings, the teens were confronted by one of the residents of the home.

The young man who came face-to-face with the three did so armed and he protected himself and the other occupants of the house. He opened fire and the three who broke in were killed. In the time since, a 21-year-old young woman has been arrested. Her alleged role in what happened was as planner and getaway driver. The possible charges against her include three counts of murder because Oklahoma, like other states, has a statue that allows for the charging of someone with murder if someone is killed in the course of a crime in which they are involved. It doesn’t matter if they pulled the trigger or not.

Now, there’s been some debate since this incident about whether or not it was right for the young man to defend his home with an AR-15. You know the weapon I mean. It’s one of those “evil” assault rifles. Fortunately, those condemning him for the use of the AR have been few and far between. Most of them are smart enough to understand that he did what I think most of us would in his situation — he protected himself and his family from masked intruders.

What prompted this post, however, was an interview I read with one of the so-called victim’s grandfather’s. I understand that he is hurting and he wishes his grandson had not been killed. But the so-called excuse that the teen had never gotten into trouble before rings hollow. Most “good” kids don’t dress in black, wear masks and don brass knuckles before breaking into someone else’s house have never done anything wrong. It usually means they’ve never been caught or the family member had never been advised of the trouble their kin had gotten into.

My question is this: what was the young man supposed to do when confronted with three masked intruders? He could, presumably, see the brass knuckles. One could also assume there was a threat from the three — or at least that the young man felt threatened. I know I certainly would have were I to walk into my kitchen and find three intruders there.

Was the young man supposed to wait until they struck him with the brass knuckles? If he had, what sort of condition would he have been in? Would he have been able to protect himself, much less anyone else in the house?

Or was he supposed to wait to see if the intruders had other weapons?

Or maybe he should have just winged one of the intruders on the hope that, while doing so, the other two didn’t pull their own guns and shoot him or someone else?

The young man acted legally, at least as far as I can tell from media reports. It is a shame that three teens lost their lives but they did so solely because of decisions they made. Had they not listened to the young woman who is currently charged as their accomplice, they wouldn’t have broken into the house. Had they not worn masks and carried brass knucks, they might not have been shot. Instead, the young man who confronted them might have not felt so threatened he saw only one way out.

Choices have consequences and, in this one, those consequences were fatal. It doesn’t matter if the grandfather knew of no other problems his grandson might have experienced. What matters are the choices the young man made that night. I feel for his family, and for the families of the others who died with him that night. But I also feel for the young man who found himself faced with the decision of either protecting himself and his loved ones or standing aside and letting three masked intruders do who knew what to him and them.

However, saying the young man had never before been in trouble rings too close to the defense set forth for Ethan Couch after he killed and injured a number of young people while driving drunk. It was argued he shouldn’t be held as accountable as others because his parents had never taught him that actions have consequences. Isn’t it time to quit coddling our kids and teaching him that, in real life, what we do will have an impact on ourselves and others and that it might not always be good?

Say what?

Earlier this morning, I came across a story about a law suit filed by a California college student. It seems this young man attends a state college and had tried to hand out Spanish language versions of the Constitution on campus one day. He wasn’t inside any of the buildings. Far from it, in fact. He was in the public areas and, according to the suit, he wasn’t trying to convince anyone to think a certain way. He simply wanted to help students inform themselves on what was in the Constitution.

Except he wasn’t allowed to. As he was getting started, a member of the administration came up to him and told him he wasn’t allowed to hand out copies of the Constitution, be they in Spanish or English or any other language. The only place he could do so was in the “free speech zone” on campus. The zone, by the way, was described in one of the articles I read about the incident as follows: if the campus was the size of a standard tennis court, the free speech zone would be the size of a cellphone. That should give you an idea of how “valued” free speech is on this campus.

But it gets better. Even if he wanted to use the free speech zone, he couldn’t do so until he went to the powers-that-be and filed for approval — and received it — to use it and hand out his copies of the Constitution. .

Now think about that for a moment. A so-called free speech zone that required permission to be used. Hmmm. Maybe it speech wasn’t so free after all. What do you think?

Now we aren’t talking about a Speaker’s Corner ala Hyde Park in London. For those of you not familiar with Speaker’s Corner there, it is a large area in the park near the famed marble arch. There speakers can hold forth on just about anything they want as long as they aren’t inciting violence, etc. While not everything is legally allowed, the police are usually very tolerant. A quick search of some of the people who have taken advantage of Speaker’s Corner there throughout history shows they range from Karl Marx to Lenin to George Orwell to the Catholic Evidence Guild. Wikipedia lists many, many more.

Apparently, this particular California college system doesn’t believe its faculty and students can handle hearing diverse points of view. So, instead of facilitating such discussions, it shunts them off to remote parts of its various campuses. I’m sure when the system files its response to the law suit, we will see such things as protecting students from hateful speech, etc. The problem with this is that the world is full of opinions that don’t fall into lockstep with what any one person believes. Some of those opinions are hurtful. Others are hysterical. No one ever said the world is fair. It isn’t and never will be, not so long as there are humans on the planet.

When are we finally going to realize that we aren’t helping anyone by trying to protect them from speech they might find offensive or hurtful or just plain dumb? Shouldn’t we instead be teaching them how to counter it effectively? Instead of hiding heads in the sand, they should be able to look the offender in the eye and speak logically, persuasively and with facts to back them up as they offer a counter-argument. But no, our colleges would rather pamper them and let them continue the false belief begun in public school that they have a right not to be offended.

Free speech isn’t something that should be relegated to a small, isolated area of a public college campus. It isn’t something that should have to be approved by college administration to be able to make use of the “free speech zone”. If approval is needed, it isn’t free speech. It’s time the nanny state understood that.

College ‘Free Speech Zones’ In Spotlight After Student’s Lawsuit

http://www.latimes.com/local/education/la-essential-education-updates-southern-pierce-college-student-files-lawsuit-1490737382-htmlstory.html

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/03/29/la-college-sued-by-student-for-allegedly-curbing-his-free-speech-rights.html

Taking Responsibility

This morning, a couple of things caught my eye, and not in a good way. Both also center on social media. The first is a prime example of how we need to always be aware of the potential for anything we say or do being captured on someone else’s smart phone, either via video or through their social media accounts. The second is an prime example of the faux outrage that is gripping part of our country right now.

The first is actually getting more media coverage than the second. I first became aware of the situation when I saw it being retweeted on Facebook, along with all the accompanying outrage. Very simply put, over the weekend, a gate agent in Denver refused to allow an 11-year-old to board a United flight unless she put a dress (or, I’m sure, any other “appropriate” form of clothing”) on over her leggings.

Another passenger, waiting in line behind the girl, was outraged. So she took to social media to chastise the airline for what was happening. I’ll admit, my initial reaction was basically to wonder why leggings weren’t appropriate. But, as I read more about the situation, I soon realized there was more to the story than what the initial tweets, the ones raising all the outrage, told.

First of all, let’s be clear here. Most airlines have a provision in their terms of service that gives them the right to refuse boarding to anyone who violates those ToS. I know I’ve never read all the fine print and I doubt most of the rest of you have either. It would surprise me if the woman behind the tweets had.

Second, what isn’t clear in the initial tweets is the fact that the girl was flying non-rev. What that means is that either someone in her family or a third party works, or worked, for United, and gave her a pass to fly free. Most airlines have a separate set of rules for their non-rev passengers. These rules include provisions about what clothing is appropriate for the trip.

So, at least in the mind of the gate agent, the leggings the girl wore were in violation of the dress code.

When that provision was pointed out to some of those on FB who were condemning the airline and the gate agent, they shifted the goal posts. Suddenly, it became an issue of United and the agent applying a double standard because the girl’s father was allowed to board while wearing shorts. He was in casual clothes, so why couldn’t she?

I have two issues with this line of argument without further information being given. The first is a logic issue. Those making the argument assume the father was also flying non-rev. He may have been, but I’ve not seen that reported. The second is the assumption that the rules weren’t being applied to him when they were to the girl. What this second assumption fails to take into account is that some airlines, and I assume United is included in this, allow for shorts to be worn by non-rev passengers if the shorts meet certain standards. Because the father was allowed to board without changing clothes, and assuming he was also flying non-rev, it is safe to assume his clothing met the standard of the dress code.

Now, do I think an 11-year-old wearing leggings should have been denied boarding, non-rev or not? No. However, I get tired of situations being twisted just to fit a certain view point so they can be used to argue something that might not even be an issue. I do think United needs to review their non-rev dress code and make sure it is fair to both genders (oops, will I get in trouble for that?) But to make a federal case out of something, especially when you don’t know all the details and when you admit you are doing it because you assume a bias, helps no one.

It also shows the problem with the easy access to social media and the way one tweet can be taken viral — and how those following the original tweet on someone else’s social media feed may never see the follow-ups and learn the entire story.

The second example also came from Facebook and is a prime example of the Trump Derangement Syndrome that seems to have infected some of those on the left. I see it every morning with the Dallas Morning News. Reminiscent of the early days of ABC’s Nightline during the Iran hostage crisis where the show opened with “Day X”, the Dallas Morning News has an ongoing post of “Day Y of the Trump Presidency” (or words to that effect).

The Facebook post bringing it all to mind this morning was dated 18 hours before I first saw it. Someone was condemning Trump because he hadn’t issued a statement about the protests and arrests in Russia. The implication being he hadn’t issued a statement because he is a Russian mole in the White House. The only problem was I’d been up for more than an hour and hadn’t seen anything about the protests in my wandering through the interwebs, nor had I seen anything about it the night before when I watched the news.

So, I went strolling through the internet, looking at the homepages of some of the major news outlets and other sites where such a story might show up. It took me four sites before I found anything and, even then, I had to scroll down three screens or more before I found the story.

Funny, there had been no condemnation of the media for not carrying the story, only of Trump because he hadn’t been vocal in condemning the Russian handling of the situation as soon as he learned of it. Oh the horror because Russia did something and Trump didn’t instantly jump in to say Russia needed to stop being, well, Russia.

But let’s not consider the fact Trump might be waiting for more information about what really happened in Russia. Information not only from media sources and Russia itself but form our own intelligence community. Oh no, let’s immediately respond. How much you want to bet the person condemning him on Facebook would have a different view if the protest and arrests had occurred in London or Paris — or even Beijing? The fact it was Russia and Trump is president was enough of a connection for her to condemn him.

That’s the problem with social media. Well, one of the problems. We can do or say anything we want and hit enter without thinking. Too many of us tend to do so. We post things without considering that we might not have all the facts. We forget that once something hits the internet, it is there forever. Social media is the modern day version of walking out of the restroom with toilet paper trailing behind you, tucked into your pants or stuck on your heels.

But there is another problem with social media, one we are all guilty of. We are too quick to accept as accurate what we see posted on Twitter or FB or whatever our favorite platform might be. It is up to us to ask the same questions of those “sources” we do of the media and of our politicians, etc. If we don’t, then we hold at least some of the responsibility if a story is later clarified or proven to be false and we shared the false or misleading information without disclaimers or questions. It is time for each of us to start taking responsibility for what we put out into cyberspace.

In other words, it is time we start thinking before hitting the “share” button.

Page 1 of 66

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén