Nocturnal Lives

Musings from the mind of Amanda S. Green – Mother, Writer, Possessed by Cats

Tag: consequences (Page 1 of 2)

Poor Babies

Yes, the snark is running wild this afternoon. I’ve spent most of the day working and took a break a few minutes ago. As I usually do, I scanned the headlines on various sites and came across one off of Yahoo that simply had me shaking my head. Let’s see what you think.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with HGTV and some of their offerings, one of thier most well-known shows is Fixer Upper. Chip and Joanna Gaines help their clients find homes in the Waco, TX area and then renovate them according to the clients’ tastes and how much money is to be spent. Pretty basic stuff for networks like this.

Now, the Gaineses have helped make Waco know for more than just Baylor University. They have opened their own store, bakery and who knows what else. The show has been great promotion for the city and has brought in not only business but has helped increase tourism. Believe it or not, people go to Waco just to visit the Gaines’ store.

So, on to the article. I’ll let you read all the details but the basic facts are this. A couple appeared on the show and bought one of the houses the Gaineses showed them. Purchase price for the house was $35,000 and they spent approximately $215,000 on the renovation. Now, I don’t know about you, but that right there would be my first clue that the house might not be located in the best part of town.

Anyway, moving forward.

According to the homeowners, they feel like they were used, even lied to, by the Gaineses and by Waco. You see, they claim to have been harassed by others in their neighborhood and even by business owners because their house raised property taxes in the area. Now a drunk driver has plowed into their house and it is all Chip and Joanna’s fault.

Not only no but hell no. For one thing, no one twisted their arms and forced them to sign the purchase contract. My guess is they saw the potential problems of the area but they were outweighed by the low cost of buying the house and by the fact they would have their 30 seconds of fame on national TV. Now that the shine has worn off some, they are having buyer’s remorse.

That is no one’s fault but their own.

My son bought his first house a year ago. He did his homework. He took time to not only tour the house but to drive through the neighborhood several times and at different times of the day. He wanted to see what the neighborhood was like. He had a title search done and he checked the crime reports for the area. He checked how often houses in the area sold and he researched the HOA. In other words, he educated himself before signing on the dotted line.

Something these folks either didn’t do or they didn’t take seriously what they claim has been happening since before they moved in.

Hell’s bells, I would have had concerns before moving in just based on what I’ve seen of the show. Yes, a lot of the houses Chip and Joanna show are in better neighborhoods but there are those that just cry that they have been neglected and aren’t in the best of locations. If you can see that on TV, surely these folks could have seen it in real life.

Anyway, as I noted in an earlier blog post, it seems like I’ve been blogging a lot about consequences. This is another such post. In this one, the people are reaping the consequences of their decision to take part in a TV show and buy very cheaply so they could renovate and have the “house of their dreams”. In doing so, they apparently ignored all the warning signals. To come back now and blame Waco and Chip and Joanna — and probably HGTV — is foolish and disingenuous.

This is a prime example of “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

You did what?

I’ve written a lot this year about consequences. It seems there are a number of folks out there who simply don’t consider the consequences of their actions. It doesn’t matter if those consequences are direct to the person involved or indirect and aimed at someone else. Sometimes that lack of concern about consequences comes from carelessness, from simply not thinking through what they are about to do. Other times, too many times, it is because the person involved simply doesn’t care. They are entitled, you see, at least in their own mind.

What has me thinking about it again today is this story. It’s a simple enough story and one that should have been one of those feel good stories the news all too rarely covers. Simple really. A teen is making money by working at a food kiosk at the local mall. While on duty, a police officer comes up and orders a cookie. The teen recognizes the officer, who works at the mall, and wants to do something nice for him. So he buys the officer the cookie. It’s his way of telling the officer that he appreciates all the man, and those like him, do.

Pretty cool, especially when you consider the fact the young man paid full price for the cookie instead of using his employee discount.

Fast forward to the next customers. They’d been behind the officer in line and saw what the young man did. Instead of thanking him or commenting about what a nice gesture it had been, they did the opposite. They wanted a free cookie too. When they didn’t get it, they did not go gently into the night. They caused a commotion and, if I remember correctly, at one point it looked as if one of them might actually try to get into a physical confrontation with the teen.

Because they wanted a free cookie too.

Because they were special. Or entitled. Or just selfish pricks.

It doesn’t end there. The young man was called onto the carpet by his employer and suspended. Fortunately, his mother wasn’t about to take it lying down. She posted what happened to social media and pressure was put on the employer, Great American Cookies at Katy Mills Mall. Great American Cookies has backed off the suspension, saying finally that the young man did nothing wrong. Corporate has issued a statement in support of police officers.

But what would have happened had the young man’s mother not taken to social media? It was easier to suspend the young man than it was to fully review the situation and come to an informed decision. Sounds familiar, especially this weekend.

In another case, this one involving a public personality, consequences should come to bear. Early last week, police issued a statement laying the fault for a fatal crash directly at Venus Williams’ feet. No charges, fortunately, had been filed yet but the public statement was out there and being carried by every major news organization and sports channel.

Then, several days later, the police are having to backtrack and basically retract their initial statement. They had seen another video of the crash, one from a different angle. This video apparently shows Ms. Williams was not at fault in the crash. In fact, the video shows she had the green light.

But, in the rush to lay blame in a somewhat high profile case, the police also rushed in the collection and processing of evidence. Whether it was for political reasons or something else, they accused a woman who now, looking at the evidence, was not in the wrong. Will there be consequences? There should, and not just civil consequences coming from whatever action Ms. Williams might take against the police department.

There should also be employment consequences for those involved in making the hasty judgment and releasing it as a proven fact to the media. There are times when the police should simply say, “we are still investigating and will update you once we are through.” This was one of those cases.

It is not an easy decision, especially when the locals and the media are demanding fast action. They forget that real life isn’t like cop shows on TV. DNA results aren’t returned in mere minutes. Every cop shop does not have a fully equipped forensic lab and more. Evidence isn’t always processed in the local police station but is instead sent off somewhere else where that evidence joins the long line of items to be tested and reported on.

It is a situation the local cops in the town where I live face right now. Two weeks or so ago, a young teen girl disappeared. Several days later, she was found dead in a landfill a few miles away. Our cops have been doing exactly what they should. They have been investigating the case, asking for help from other agencies when needed and keeping their mouths shut in public. The police chief has been hammered because an Amber Alert wasn’t issued when the girl went missing. Never mind the fact that her case didn’t meet the legal criterion for such action to be taken. The criticism continued.

Others have complained because the cause of death has not yet been released. The truth is, as confirmed by the police in a short statement yesterday (maybe the day before), the ME hasn’t yet concluded what the COD was. They are waiting for tests to come back and that may take another month or more. Until then, or until more evidence is uncovered, the police will not be making any further statements. They do this out of respect for the family and because there is no sense to fuel media speculation.

Will there be consequences for this action? Possibly because, while the police chief is hired by the city manager, both he and the city manager basically hold their jobs at the behest of the city council. If the politicians decide the only way they can stay in office is to sacrifice someone, they might do so. Fortunately, our city council isn’t that mercenary. They really do have the best of the town at heart. So the only consequences I foresee right now are a demand that we find a quicker way to process evidence and find out why people died.

Three different situations, three different sets of potential or real consequences. In the first, a very real example of someone’s sense of entitlement negatively — and needlessly — impacting another person’s livelihood. In the second, an example of where the “need” to reassure the public that the police are working quickly to determine responsibility not only backfired but could be said to have negatively impacted a celebrity’s earning ability. I don’t think there was any malice involved, just a lack of foresight and a backbone. In the third, we have an example of a police force accepting the consequence of having public questions and some doubt leveled at them instead of potentially damaging any case that might arise out of the investigation. Looking at all three, I would much rather take the last example than the previous two.

When are we, as a people and as individuals, stop bulling ahead and take long enough to consider the consequences of our actions?

Another case of open mouth, insert foot

This morning, I saw a meme that made me smile. It basically said “I don’t think about what I’m going to say before I open my mouth because I want to be as surprised as everyone else.” Unfortunately, it seems there are far too many people who actually adhere to this mantra. Then, when their words come back to bite them in the butt, they don’t understand what went wrong.

The first instance of this that caught my eye over the weekend happened when I saw a clip from Tucker Carlson’s show. In it, Lisa Durden, a professor from Essex County College in Newark, went off on white privilege and more with regard to keeping whites off campus for the BLM commemoration of Memorial Day. (I think I got that right. You can check the clip linked above) Carlson called her on it, noting that what she advocated was just as bad as a whites-only gathering.

Now, don’t get me wrong. Durden had every right to express her opinion. But, as I’ve discussed before, we have to be aware of the very real fact that our words have consequences. In this particular case, she might not have mentioned her association with the college but she was on a nationally televised news program. It was reasonable to expect that either her students or fellow faculty members or college supporters would see the interview. The fact the college placed her on leave two days after the segment aired was proof of the negative impact her words had on her situation. Three days after that, she was let go.

In this case, the college has to weigh the good of the institution, as well as its students and faculty, against Durden’s right to voice her opinion. This isn’t anything new. Employers have always taken a dim view of anything an employee might do or say that could bring negative publicity to the employer. That is particularly true in the education sector. Today’s headlines are a perfect example. Not only do we have stories about Durden but there is another professor in trouble as well. On the local level, a kindergarten teacher has been fired for keeping her second job — that of porn actress. So, yeah, if you are working for someone else, you have to always consider if your behavior or your words are such that your employer could be negatively impacted.

The second professor to find herself without a job comes from the University of Delaware. Again, this professor, one Kathy Dettwyler, had every right to say what she did. She just wasn’t very wise to do so and especially not on social media. According to DelawareOnline, Dettwyler posted on her personal Facebook page that Otto Warmbier “deserved” to die for stealing a propaganda poster in North Korea. She went on to talk about white privilege, his parents’ failure to raise him right and more.

Now, I’ll admit, when I first heard about Warmbier’s trouble in North Korea, my first reaction was, “why in hell would anyone, especially an American, want to go there?” My second was that Warmbier was a dumb fuck for trying to take the poster. Then I remembered he was really nothing more than a kid and some of the less than smart — okay, downright stupid — things I did at that age.

But right or wrong, he didn’t deserve to die for what would, in most places on Earth, be a misdemeanor. It doesn’t matter what his skin color or nationality is. His death is a tragedy and something that never should have happened.

The University of Delaware, where Dettwyler was an adjunct professor of anthropology, has issued a statement saying she won’t be returning to the school as an employee. Prior to announcing that her contract would not be renewed, the university issued the following statement:

“The comments of Katherine Dettwyler do not reflect the values or position of the University of Delaware. We condemn any and all messages that endorse hatred and convey insensitivity toward a tragic event such as the one that Otto Warmbier and his family suffered.”

The fact she had made similar comments about Warmbier’s death in the comment section of an article in the National Review probably didn’t help her case any either.

Again, another instance of opening mouth and inserting foot all the way to the pink slip.

I’m all for freedom to say what you want but you have to remember that what you say reflects on more than just yourself. Those words you just spewed onto Twitter or Facebook, in an interview be it print or audio, also splash back on your family and friends, your business and your customers. If your words are inflammatory or contrary to common decency, the impact will be negative.

We’re not talking about whistle-blowers here. We’re talking about two women who got up on their soapboxes and spoke without thinking. Now I wonder how long it will be before they start attacking the institutions that released them. I also wonder what they had been teaching their students and this, my friends, is what bothers me the most. We have an entire generation where all too many feel they are entitled to do or say whatever they want and damn the consequences because the consequences don’t apply to them.

Then reality hits and they find they aren’t prepared for how much suckage that can be. That’s a lesson these two professors have learned the hard way. Hopefully, others will look at what happened and take it as a lesson in common sense. Unfortunately, I fear there will be those who will look at what happened and take it as a rallying cry to attack the universities involved for trying to “silence” the professors’ voices.

If the universities reverse their decisions, they very well may find themselves in the same circumstances as the University of Missouri after faculty member Melissa Clark called for “muscle” to help remove cameramen/journalists from a protest. Missou is suffering a decline in enrollment that has led to budget cuts, closing of dorms and more. Again, a perfect example of actions — in this case, more than just Clark’s but hers were the culmination — having consequences.

So, while the meme mentioned at the beginning of the blog is humorous and while it is all too tempting at times to say exactly what we feel and damn the consequences, stop for a moment and think. Ask yourself if you are ready to face those consequences, be they the lecture you’ll get at home or the loss of your job. If you can’t say yes and mean it, then keep your mouth firmly closed and move on. Or at least pause long enough to phrase your comments in such a way you speak with facts and reason instead of emotion only.

Of leaks and oaths and voter lists

So we have yet another government contractor accused of leaking top secret documents to the media or other persons. In this case, Reality Winner now finds herself arrested and charged. According to media reports, the government narrowed it down to Winner being one of only six who printed out the documents in question and the only one in e-mail contact with the journalist in question. More, the media reports that she has admitted to being the leak. Even so, her attorney says she will plead not guilty and looks forward to her day in court.

Now, tell me this, am I the only one hearing Charlie Sheen in the back of my mind yelling, “Winner!”?

This revelation, if you can call it that, comes on the heels of a discussion I had with someone not long ago about what it means to make and oath and who will actually feel the moral need to stick to said oath.

Every member of the military, every person holding a top secret clearance pledges to uphold their oaths to the United States. The oaths may be different in verbiage but they all come down to one simple premise: the person taking them pledges to act in a certain way. In Winner’s case, she pledged not to violate the trust placed in her by her employer and by the United States not to reveal top secret information without prior authorization. If the media reports are accurate, she not only violated those oaths but she did so willingly and knowingly and has admitted to doing so.

So what is it she is alleged to have leaked?

From what I can tell, she supposedly leaked information that the NSA (or one of the other alphabet agencies) had proof the Russians attempted to hack voter registration rolls shortly before the election. Two things struck me when I heard that. First, that the Russians attempted to hack to rolls. Second, that the information they were after is, at least in Texas, available to any candidate. How do you think you get those targeted phone calls and mailings each election cycle? The candidates can ask for a list of those who voted in the previous election or primary. That gives the candidate not only the voters’ names but much more, including their voting history (limited but yes).

Something else to consider. If the Russians really wanted to influence the election, they would have been doing this much earlier and would have been doing more than “attempting” to hack. After all, early voting now comprises in many states the majority of votes cast. I know that here in Texas, you no longer have to present one of a limited number of statutorily recognized reasons to be allowed to cast an early ballot. Instead, polls are open for approximately 2 weeks prior to the election to allow anyone who wants to avoid the lines on election day the chance to vote.

Now, if the Russians were trying to hack in to see how the vote was going, that’s a different thing. But none of the reports I’ve seen or heard have said that. Even if they were trying to see how the vote was going, it was a too little too late. Unless, of course, they are playing a long game — something that wouldn’t surprise me one bit.

Still, are we ready to admit the Russians understood better what was happening in our country than the Democratic Party’s candidate and long-time politico Hillary Clinton? I don’t know about you but it worries me that a supposed ally, a country we have been at loggerheads with more often than not, might understand our country and our voters more than a woman who was First Lady, senator, Secretary of State and presidential nominee for a major party.

If that was the case, it should be a wake-up call not only to both the Democratic and Republican Parties but to all of us.

But getting back to Reality Winner.

If the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that she did violate her oaths, she should not only be prosecuted but she should feel the full force of the law coming down on her head. Her own political beliefs matter not. Nor does her concern about any particular issue. She pledged to do a certain job and, as part of the job, not to reveal national secrets and she violated that oath. She can’t claim she didn’t know what she was doing. She served six years in the military and held a top secret clearance there. In the private contractors sector she held a similar clearance. She would have been told exactly what that meant and she willingly agreed to uphold the oath.

If she violated it, and it appears she did, she should now pay the consequences.

Of course, this being the day and age where a certain segment of our populace seems to believe themselves above consequences, you can expect to hear them coming to her defense because Trump! or Bush! or whatever.

The time has come to tighten security and to make sure those who violate it and break their oaths learn there are consequences and they will rain down on them and there is no umbrella, figurative or literal, capable of protecting them.

Back to Work

Just a quick post this morning. Since it’s Tuesday, it’s my day over at Mad Genius Club. Today’s post is about inspiration and how it can hit when you least expect it.

To go along with the the posts I’ve written over the last few weeks about how we have to look at, and face, the consequences of our actions, Marvel had to do just that over the weekend. If you want to see not only an epic fail but what happens when you do something to alienate your core fan base, check this out. Click on through to the Twitter comments. They are perfect examples of consequences coming home to roost.

Today, I’m going to finish the final draft of Nocturnal Rebellion. I have the last scene already written in my head and it perfectly sets up the next book — which will be the final book in the current story arc. What that means for future books featuring Mac and company, I haven’t figured out yet. I doubt they are going away. But just how I’ll continue on with them and what the new story arc will be, I’m not sure. However, there will be one more novel after Rebellion. Hopefully by the time I get to it, I’ll know where the future books will go.

And, just to prove my muse is an evil bitch — as if we didn’t already know that — THIS is what kept me awake most of the night, trying to figure out where it is going and praying this isn’t the start of yet another series.

I was five when they came for my brother. Two men, one tall and thin the other short and stocky. Both wore uniforms I had never seen before with lots of medals shining on their chests. Mom cried. I’d never seen her cry before and Dad’s hands shook as he read the paper the tall man handed him. Then, with tears in his eyes, he told Mom there was nothing they could do. Before I knew what was happening, Aiden was gone and I haven’t seen him since.

I was thirteen when they came for me.

See, I told you my muse is evil.

 

 

A few thoughts.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a storyteller. I made up stories when I was young to entertain myself and, later, my friends. Once I learned how to write, I started putting my stories on paper. Somewhere, I have an old spiral notebook with what would now be called fanfic (I didn’t know the term back then) that I showed my 7th grade English teacher. I’ve kept it all these years because she was the first to actually see my creative writing. That was important all on it own. Making it more so is the fact she encouraged me to keep writing.

Now that I write as my profession, I face the same challenge every other writer and want-to-be writer faces — how to get my work out in front of the public. There is no one right way to do so. What works for one person might not work for the next. It is also hard work and something we have to dedicate time to doing. Because self-promotion isn’t something that comes easy to a lot of us, the temptation to take shortcuts is very real. Some authors, and even some publishers, succumb to it. They might get away with it for awhile but they are eventually caught.

Authors have had their accounts closed at Amazon and other e-stores for buying reviews or for creating sock puppet accounts and posting reviews of their own work. It is clearly written out in the rules, and easily found if you search the FAQs at Author Central that an author can’t review his own work. I’ve seen reports of Amazon not allowing friends and family post reviews — those reports have not been substantiated, at least not that I’ve seen but it is something to think about. Amazon has even initiated a rule, iirc, where paid reviews have to be noted as such.

Why has Amazon taken this stance? I can’t speak for them but my guess is it is two-fold. The first is that there is a very definite ethical issue with an author posting reviews for his own work. The second is probably more important to Amazon. It comes down to the bottom line. False reviews, be their bought or straw man reviews, impact the number of books sold and the last thing Amazon wants to do is deal with returns when the customer realizes they’ve been had.

So, when I see authors wanting to review their own work (and, at last count, I’d seen approximately half a dozen contemplating it in the last six weeks or so), my radar goes off. If you are so worried about your ranking that you are contemplating reviewing your own work to get said ranking up, you need to step back and consider why readers aren’t liking your book — or why they aren’t leaving reviews. It’s hard, I know, to look at your baby and admit it might be ugly. But it is necessary sometimes.

Facebook groups and mailing lists are another sore point for a lot of people. Authors, usually indies and that pains me to say it, all too often add people to their groups or pages or mailing lists without asking permission. Don’t. Just don’t. When folks find out they’ve been added without permission you risk not only having them leaving the group but blocking you. That means they won’t see your announcements about upcoming projects or sales. It might also mean they tell their friends what happened, leading to more bad PR for you. The same goes with mailing lists.

This morning, I woke to a couple of emails from the same author but from two different mailing lists. Both had the same message. I posted a generic message on Facebook about how I didn’t want to be added to groups or pages or lists without being asked and that if you have a mailing list, make sure you aren’t sending out multiple copies of the same message to people. Considering the number of folks I’ve seen similar posts from recently, I’m not the only one having this sort of trouble, whether with the same authors or others.

Anyway, the author saw my post and admitted he was the guilty party. That’s his right. Just as it is his right to be a bit defensive about what I said and his own motivations. However, in the end, he asked what he could do to promote his work if it wasn’t by doing this sort of thing.

My first reaction, one I didn’t follow because I was on my way out the door, was to say not to own up to being the guilty party in public. For one, we are in a private writers group on FB where he could ask. If he didn’t want to do that, he could have PM’d me. No, he wanted to do it in public and he is going to have to deal with the consequences of it.

Now, I’ll admit, none of the instances I’ve mentioned rise to the “OMFG, have you lost your mind” level of bad author behavior we’ve seen some folks do. There have been cases of traditionally published authors going off on their editors in public, commenting on not only the editor’s work but getting profane about other aspects as well. Talk about killing one’s career. Then there are the authors who have made it their life’s work to rebut, usually with a full head of steam and no thought to the consequences, every negative review given on their work.

So, no, these two scenarios are nowhere near that level. However, as indie authors we fight an uphill battle. Part of that is a battle of appearances. As I discovered last week, using one word you didn’t mean to can bring down an avalanche of condemnation. Doing anything that doesn’t appear to be on the up-and-up does the same thing. So when I see an author saying she’s putting a book up for a certain award of hers up for an award and wants you to vote for it and spread the word, I take a step back from that author. Sure, ask your fans to nominate the book if they think it worthy, but don’t nominate yourself. That’s like reviewing your own work.

But that’s just me. To each his own.

Shrug. Just remember that people might not remember an author’s name if they dislike what that person does but they will remember the author was an indie. That is changing but that stigma that we aren’t quite good enough, haven’t paid our dues and are taking shortcuts still exists in the minds of all too many. So let’s not play into their hands.

 

Think before speaking — or hitting the enter button

This morning, it was announced that Roger Ailes died. Over the last year or so, Ailes has been in the news, not for his contribution to the industry but because of allegations lodged against him that he had sexually harassed (and more) certain female employees over the years. This isn’t a post about Ailes and whether or not he was guilty of the allegations against him. That is for another day.

No, this post is about what is happening right now on social media and how that same sort of behavior is being played out in the real world.

Go onto Facebook or Twitter and you will find numerous posts praising the fact that Ailes is dead. Unfortunately, the posts don’t end there. Those hitting the enter button are spewing invective and more at Ailes and all but dancing on his grave. Why? Because he was accused of behavior in the media that is abhorrent. But it is more than that. He is being vilified for being white and rich. He is being called a sexual predator — which he probably was. But mainly, it is because he was rich, white and of a certain age and, therefore, inherently evil.

Oh, and let’s not forget male.

When anyone tries to comment that it is a bit unseemly to act this way when someone has just died, those people are attacked. There is no concern for what Ailes’ family or friends might see. There is no compassion for those who cared for the man. Because this group of people decided he was evil, we must all agree — or at least hold our tongues and nod as they pillory him at the time of his death. Yet, if the deceased had been one of their favorites and the other side was acting as they are, they’d be outraged. Why do they get to act in one way and insist everyone acts in another? It’s that sense of entitlement and the knowledge that they are right and the rest of the world is wrong.

Not that this behavior is surprising. Something has happened with this country over the last decade or three. We have become a country where there is an increasing number of those who think they are entitled to do or say whatever they want without fear of consequence. Common courtesy is something of the past with them. Don’t believe me, go sit for a few hours in a restaurant or coffee shop. Or go to the mall or simply watch what happens in your own office.

Here’s an example.

Yesterday I was sitting in the local Panera’s, trying to get some work done. Music was playing overhead. There were at least another dozen or so people in the dining area, all talking or typing away on their laptops. In other words, it wasn’t quiet. Also, I was not sitting anywhere close to the cash registers. So, when I hear a woman raising hell, it caught my attention.

It seems this woman didn’t like what she had gotten as her order when she went through the drive-through and, by God, she was going to get satisfaction. There was no carefully explaining what she ordered and what was wrong. Oh no. What there was was a woman who just knew she was right and she wanted everyone, including those two buildings over, to know.

I slid my chair back so I could get a look at what was going on. Hey, I’m a writer. It’s what I do to get inspiration. Anyway, from where I sat, I couldn’t get a clear view. There were others in my way as well as part of the partition separating the dining area from the order area. Not that I needed to see. I could hear every word she said.

When the assistant manager tried to help her, she didn’t want to deal with him. You see, he wasn’t bending and scraping and kissing her feet. He wanted to know what she had ordered and if he could see her receipt. That’s pretty standard, especially if you claim to have gone through the drive-through. Oh, how her tone and voice level went up. How dare he question her!

Long story short. When he didn’t immediately do as she wanted, she demanded to see the manager. When he came forward, she proceeded to rip the assistant manager a new one. While she didn’t call him every name in the book, it was implied. She did say he had been unprofessional, etc., and that he should not have a job there.

And why?

Because she had gotten the right order. She had been the one to make the mistake. She ordered something without reading the description and got bread she didn’t want. But did she apologize? Oh hell no. Because, I guess, they should have read her mind. Instead, she once again voiced her negative opinion of the assistant manager and the restaurant and stormed out, swearing to never darken their doors again.

This woman was in the wrong and yet she still had to have the last work and she still expected them to bow to her will. Even when the manager offered to make her a new sandwich with the bread she wanted, she wasn’t satisfied. They’d had their one chance — a chance she screwed up — and would get no other.

Not enough proof? Look at Ethan Couch and his family. Look at our schools where teachers aren’t allowed to grade homework — or, in some districts — even assign it. Or where students are allowed to take tests over and over again instead of having to do something radical like study.

No consequences have, well, negative consequences.

Hell’s bells, even in writing they have them. I know there will be some folks who are not going to agree with me, especially when it comes to what I wrote at the beginning of the article. I recognize that fact and hope they understand I am not commenting one way or the other on whether or not Ailes was guilty of the allegations against him. I am talking solely about the behavior now being displayed by people online.

There are other ways what we do as authors can have a negative impact on not only ourselves but others we might work with. If you become an ass about just about anything, you can and probably will drive off readers. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t mean it or not. If you troll other sites and social media accounts because you think it’s fun, there will be push back. If you spam with promo posts your mailing lists or other people’s social media accounts, there will be push back. What you have to think about is that it will impact your sales but it can also impact any project you are a part of.

How many of us have seen people not only say they won’t read or watch something because so-and-so is in it but that they will do all they can to keep others from doing so as well? Well, they do and it does work. I found myself this morning looking at an anthology I have been waiting for and hesitating. Why? Because of at least one of the authors involved. No, I won’t name the antho, nor will I say when it was published or by whom. It isn’t the first time it has happened nor will it be the last. The question I have to answer is whether I will reward the author(s) I swore I wouldn’t buy or penalize the other authors in the antho. So, the actions of a small number of those involved in the antho may have a negative impact on the majority.

So, even as I consider the possible consequences of my pushing the publish button for this post, I urge each and every one of you to think about the consequences of that email you’re writing or the Tweet you are about to send or how you are about to deal with the guy who just shoved past you in line at the grocery.

And now, because I am an author and have a new story out,  check out Battle Wounds, the third short story set in the Honor and Duty universe. The stories all take place before the events of the first book, Vengeance from Ashes. The short stories came about because some of you wanted to know what happened to make Ashlyn Shaw into the women we meet in Vengeance. They’ve been fun to write and there is at least one more planned.

 

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?

Think

It seems easy enough. Before you hit the “enter” button, you should stop and think about what you just wrote. That’s especially true in this age of the internet where nothing ever really goes away. Yet so many people simply refuse — or don’t think — before posting. They don’t think that future employers will look at their online presence. They don’t think about their friends and neighbors googling what they posted. They don’t think about college admission officers doing the same. Then they wonder why it blows up in their face later.

What brought this up is a discussion, and I use that term loosely, I came across yesterday. Someone decided it would be a good thing to go onto another’s wall and proceed to tell everyone that 1) raising the minimum wage to $15/hr would not negatively impact employment numbers, 2) business owners are all liars and cheats, 3) businesses should be forced to spread their money around to everyone else and 4) raising the minimum wage to that magical $15/hr rate would lead to more entry level jobs.

Now, think about that for a moment.

I’m no master’s level economist but even I understand that if you increase the cost of producing goods — and the monies paid to employees does just that — then you will see that increase in production cost passed on to the customer. If that cost increase isn’t passed along to the customer, the business owner has to find another way to cut costs. CUT costs. Quite often, that is done by decreasing the number of employees.  So, already, you have impacted the price of goods and, potentially, the number of people employed.

As for all business owners being lairs and cheats, my only conclusion is that either the OP had a really bad experience with someone or, since he proclaimed himself a former business owner, he was projecting. The fact he had no problem painting all owners with such a broad brush weakens any other arguments he might have put forth to support his argument. When called on it, he refused to back down from this stance. Instead, he started shifting the goal posts, claiming he didn’t mean they broke laws and trying to play rhetoric games with the meanings of liar, cheat, laws, and ethics.

I can’t even grasp the idea that businesses, no matter how successful they might be or how large their cash reserves, should be forced to basically redistribute their money to those who have risked nothing to help make the business successful. As I read his comments along this line, I kept thinking about Jim Taggart, Wesely Mouch and others from Atlas Shrugged. You know the characters I mean. The ones who were the moochers, who didn’t want to put forth the effort or take the risk to make money. I even found myself wanting to pick up my copy of the book and start posting quotes from John Galt’s speech.

Mind you, I’m not a fanatic about Atlas Shrugged. But when I start seeing folks talking about taking money from one and redistributing it, I can’t help but think about what Rand wrote. Nor can I help thinking about the good old communist way of life where there are the “more equal among equals”.

Here’s the thing. I’m not against people making a living wage. However, I am against blindly choosing a number and requiring every business in the country to abide by it without first taking into consideration all the factors. A living wage in San Francisco is much higher than it would be for small town Iowa. If you want to live and work in San Fran, you should understand that you may have to work two or three jobs, while going to school to get the education you need to qualify for a higher paying position. I have little sympathy for the darlings who work at a coffee shop in San Fran and then bemoan the fact that they are barely making enough to cover rent, the same darlings who then say they don’t have a roommate because they don’t want anyone in their space. Sorry, sweetheart, you made the decision to live in one of the most expensive cities in the nation and you chose to live by yourself. Your employer should not be penalized because you aren’t taking reasonable steps to cut your expenses until you can find a better paying job.

But I digress.

The OP yesterday also said something that so blew my mind in a discussion about improving our economy and taking care of the workforce that it still amazes me. In the same point in the conversation where he was proudly proclaiming that all business owners were liars and cheats, he said he didn’t care if the higher minimum wage caused businesses to close their doors. In fact, he would have no problem if that happened to most businesses because, I guess, businesses are evil too.

Now, think about this. He wants the government to raise the minimum wage to $15/hr in order for the entry level workers to make a “livable” wage. But he has no problem with businesses closing down. He doesn’t see the impact that will have on the economy or on those workers he was just championing. That sort of cognitive disconnect is hard for me to fathom.

What is the answer about the minimum wage? I’m not sure. All I know for sure is that you have to look at not only how the increase will impact the workers but also the businesses, their customers and everyone else down the supply chain. You do no one any good if the wage increase winds up hurting the local economy more than it helps.

Look at what has been happening in those cities where local governments have mandated such increases. Businesses have closed. Others have let employees go or cut their hours. Still others have moved to automate more. Prices for goods have gone up and the unemployment rate for entry level workers has not, to the best of my knowledge, decreased.

Something has to be done — yes. Is raising the minimum wage to $15/hr the answer? Not necessarily. All I know for sure is that you have to look at the complete picture and not just those parts you think important.

***

Here’s a reminder that Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2) is available for pre-order.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Happy New Year, Affluenza Boy

A little more than two years ago, we ended the year with the news that Ethan Couch, then 16, had been given 10 years probation for after killing four and injuring nine in a drunk driving accident. Part of Couch’s sentence included the requirement that he undergo intensive counseling for his alcohol problem at a long term facility. What made Couch’s case so unusual was the use of the “affluenza” defense to keep him out of prison. Poor Ethan, we were told. He wasn’t responsible for what he did. He was a child of privilege, one who had never been made to face the consequences of his actions. It simply wouldn’t be right to put him in jail for what he did. So sorry that people died and more were injured. It wasn’t his fault. (You can see my initial reaction to this here.)

That really should have been the end of it. After all, Couch did go to the long term facility and presumably met the court requirements before he was released. However, it seems that two years didn’t do anything to teach Couch — or his mother — the error of their ways. Once again the now eighteen year old made his way into the public eye. The first instance happened when a Youtube video allegedly showing Couch looking on while other played beer pong went viral. Shortly after that, poor little Ethan failed to report to his probation officer. Funny thing about that, he probably would have been tested to see if he had been drinking or doing other things. Hmmm, do you think he might have been doing more than just watching his friends play beer pong?

Even then, Couch could have stepped up and shown he had learned from his past mistakes. It would have been easy to contact his attorney and arrange to report to his probation officer. He may have gotten a slap on the wrist but not much more. However, affluenza-boy and his over-protective and enabling mother did something else. They left.

I don’t just mean they left the party or they left the city. Apparently Tonya Couch, a modern day version of mommy dearest because she has done nothing to help her son grow up, sold her house. Then it seems like she and Ethan threw a going away party. After that, they dropped off the face of the Earth. At least that is what it appears they hoped to do. They fled the city, county, state and in very short order the country.

Needless to say, the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department, the agency first on the scene of the accident and the agency tasked with investigating what happened, wasn’t amused. Nor was the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office. Once they learned what happened, an investigation was launched. The Texas Rangers, U. S. Marshalls, and other law enforcement agencies across the nation helped Tarrant County track down numerous leads. Even as they did, we all knew there was the chance it would be a very long time before we ever saw Ethan and his mother in a court of law. They had a head start of days and, more likely, weeks. Then there was the fact they had money — or at least that was the assumption.

Fast forward to earlier this week. News broke that they Terrible Duo of Affluenza had been captured in Puerto Vallarta. These two people, whose photos had been plastered across local and national — and even international — media, had fled to a popular tourist locale for Americans. Their attempt to change their appearance boiled down to Couch dying his light hair and beard dark and his mother changing her hair style. Keystone cops meet affluenza.

This morning, Tonya Couch is back on US soil. The Mexican government deported her yesterday, releasing her to the U. S. Marshals. She should be back in the DFW area in a few days. It is likely she will spend the long New Year’s weekend in a holding cell in the Los Angeles area before being brought back home to face one, if not two, felony charges. She is currently charged with hindering apprehension and hindering prosecution. The mood the Tarrant County DA is in, she will be lucky of she is offered a plea bargain for less the the 10 year maximum.

And that is the irony of this entire sad circus. Right now, because he is still under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court system, the maximum amount of time Ethan could spent in jail for violating his probation is 120 days, if I remember correctly. Not a lot of time when you consider the number of lives he ruined that night in 2013. Now, however, the DA has filed to transfer the case out of juvenile court. If that happens, the result will be a continuation of Couch’s probation and the very real probability that another slip up will mean he gets to see what life in Huntsville is like.

For now, however, he remains in Mexico. It seems that he and his mother once again decided to do everything they could to make sure Ethan didn’t have to face the consequences of his actions — and inaction. They filed motions in the Mexican courts to prevent his extradition. Those same motions were denied for Tonya, which is why she is now back on U. S. soil. The judge postponed Ethan’s extradition for three days to give him time to rule on the motion to deny extradition. In the meantime, Ethan has been transferred to his third city and his third holding cell, this latest one in Mexico City.

This could almost be humorous in a sad sort of way if it wasn’t for the fact that this young man continues to show that he has an utter lack of respect for anything but his own wants and desires. There has been no showing of remorse and certainly no contrition. Not that it is surprising. Here is a partial timeline of his life over the last few years as compiled by the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

  • Feb. 19, 2013 – Couch is found in a pickup with a beer and a bottle of vodka. The result of this is a citation for minor in possession of alcohol.
  • June 15, 2013 — Couch first steals alcohol from a local convenience store. Then the accident that killed four and injured nine occurs. His blood alcohol content measured at more than three times the legal limit.
  • Dec. 10, 2013 — Couch is sentenced to 10 years probation, in-house treatment.
  • Feb. 19, 2014 — Couch begins his in-house treatment at taxpayer expense.
  • Aug. 14, 2014 — his father is arrested for impersonating a police officer. (Another indication that his parents have more than a few issues of their own?)
  • Dec. 2, 2015 — the Youtube video goes viral.
  • Dec. 11, 2015 — arrest warrant issued after authorities learn Couch failed to report as ordered to his probation officer and after finding the home he shared with his mother empty.
  • Dec. 18, 2015 — U. S. Marshals join the search for Couch and his mother.
  • Dec. 28, 2015 — Couch and his mother arrested in Puerto Vallarta.

Now, instead of coming back and facing the consequences of his actions, Couch is fighting to remain in Mexico. One of his Texas attorneys has pretty much set out his mother’s defense in an interview I heard this morning. Claiming Ethan is one of the most hated people in the country, she asked what anyone would do if they were in Tonya’s position. Would you want your son to go to jail, knowing how badly people hated him or would you do your best to secret him away? Affluenza strikes again. This time in the form of “he can’t go to prison because he might be hurt”. Again, excuses to keep him from having to face the consequences of his actions.

Eventually, he will be returned to the United States. Either that or he will find himself afoul of the law in Mexico or another country where the jails there make what he would face here look like Club Fed. Part of me hopes that is the case. Talk about a crash course in facing the consequences.

However, when he does finally make it back to Texas and is made to face the court and explain why he did what he did, he won’t find a sympathetic ear, either in the media or in the court. He chose to violate the terms of his probation. He might have been able to use the affluenza defense in his initial trial but I doubt it will fly a second time. Unfortunately, he will only face 120 days for the parole violation. I just hope the court does transfer the case to adult court and the State keeps a very close eye on him for the next 10 years.

As for his mother, well, she needs to have the book thrown at her. Even if her son doesn’t ever have to face the full consequences for his actions that night in 2013 when he drove his car into a group of people, she should face the consequences of her actions in trying to help him flee the jurisdiction. In the meantime, I hope she is thinking long and hard about what hear darling baby boy is facing all by his lonesome in that Mexico City holding cell.

Happy New Year, Ethan Couch. May 2016 bring you all the consequences you’ve thumbed your nose at for so long.

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