Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Worst. Ex-President. Ever.

It’s never too early to start looking forward to the end of the Obama reign. As that blessed day draws near, let’s take a look at what his ex-Presidency holds in store for the world. Traditionally, out of respect for the newly inaugurated President, history, and the American people, ex-presidents shut up and get out of the way. On those rare occasions that an ex-President does come out of the shadows to make a public appearance or to give a speech for donations to a “foundation” (heh), they generally stay out of the public political fracas of the time. When on those even more rare occasions that they do get involved, the press has generally rolled their eyes and lent very little credence to it.

That is a generalization, of course. Reasonably justifiable exceptions occur. Bill Clinton campaigning for his wife serves as a timely example.

For a host of reasons, this makes sense. It helps to maintain the peaceful transfer of power that plays such an important role in the smooth functioning of the nation. It reinforces the trust between the populace and the government they serve. It’s a way for an ex-President to signal recognition that his time on the stage is over, and that the responsibility for rule now falls on the shoulders of another man. There are more, but you get the idea.

 Does anyone really expect President Obama to pull a slow fade?

The narcissism he has displayed throughout his Presidency provides countless clues to his behavior post-rule. Surely the weight of tradition, the importance of a transition of power, and the smooth functioning of the FedGov are vastly outweighed by Obama’s supreme intellect and the world’s need for his gentle command. He may have to turn most of the reins of power over to President Trump, but it’s a safe bet that he clings to the powers of the bully pulpit with a death grip.

Does anyone really expect the press to call him out on it?

The media has called out former presidents Carter and Bush the Elder for shooting off their mouth about policy set by current Presidents, but after eight years applauding Obama for breaking tradition, it’s hard to believe they would grow a spine and call him out for breaking with tradition. Even if they wanted to, any desire to criticize ex-President Obama would have to break past that tiny voice in their belly whispering the R-word into their psyches.

More to the point, the election of Trump marks a sea change in that for once the transition won't be from one wing of the uniparty to the other.  The tradition only holds because for decades the transition from Red to Blue has marked a change in direction for the ship of state of mere degrees.  The uniparty expects President Trump to grab the wheel and give it a good solid spin.  There's less incentive than ever for an ex-President to behave himself, secure in the knowledge that his legacy is safely ensconsed in the policies of his replacment. Especially when that President's policy rests on ground as shaky as Obama's.

Of all the ex-Presidents, Obama's legacy has been built on the sandy beach of executive orders and executive branch seat fillers.  A President Trump can wipe out the vast bulk of Obama's legacy with the right Cabinet appointees and a few sweeps of a pen.  The normal process of writing history while the ex-President is still around to reward his water carriers in academia is going to have work overtime to get that first pass written as fast as possible, and they'll need all the help they can get.  Which is where Obama's attempts to cling to the spotlight will be directed - establish all the good of his term that is being summarily strangled in the cradle by a successor too stupid to wait the five years until Obama's policies could really take effect. Or 10 years.  Or 20.  It's like global warming - it'll happen if we just waited long enough.

All that bluster will be great fun to watch. More grist for the meme mill. You won’t see any jokes about this from Saturday Night Live or The Daily Show, but these days all the best humor comes burbling up from the dank corners of the internet anyway. That’s one thing that isn’t likely to change for a few years yet.

Bookmark this page. Come back mid-2017. Tell me I’m wrong.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

On Fiverr

If you are an independent writer, and you’re chucking self-edited works into the marketplace, then you should be ashamed. Professional editors are some of the easiest things in the world to find. Here’s what you do:
  1. Go to Fiverr.
  2. Search for Editing.
  3. Pay around five bucks per 2,000 words you have to edit.
  4. Release a book free of typos and stupid grammatical errors.
  5. Retire to your own private island.
Fiverr is a website for quick and dirty jobs done cheap. Most of the editors on the site want to work a quick job, make a few bucks, and move on. The ads all proclaim quick turn around on small jobs, but the first step in each transaction is contacting the seller to let them know what you want. You can always ask for more or less, and negotiate terms on your budget and timescale.

For my work, time was not of the essence, so the message sent to my preferred editor was a request for a little more editing done at a much slower rate. In my case it was edit 12,000 words over a week at a ‘buy five get one free’ rate. Of the two editors priced this way, one was going on vacation and wasn’t taking orders over 2,000 words, and the other accepted within eight hours. Deal.

How do you pick an editor? Maybe one editor is as good as another – I’m new at this, so what do I know? I’ll tell you what: my story is a fast-paced men’s adventure yarn, so I waded through a lake of women and soft jawed gentlemen to find a couple of blokes who looked like they’d maybe seen the ugly end of a punch at least once in their lives.

That may not be fair, and may be a bit sexist, but for a quick job like this, it’s as good a reason as any. In the end, that strategy worked out great. The editing was solid, and professional, and he will be getting more work from me in the future.

His name is daveyboy312005.  Here’s his Fiverr profile. If you have any editing work, you should throw it his way – you won’t regret it.

Sidebar: No blog posts were edited in the creation of this blog.  I pay for editing only when I charge for my writing.

Friday, May 27, 2016

On the Alt-Right and Being Your Own Man

This Evil Has Many Axes
You're reading a guy who spent half a decade languishing in one of the internet's ghetto's, poking the proto-SJWs until they finally ran him off for not conforming to the "Diversity Uber Alles" party line.  After a few months of wandering the internet wilderness, he somehow lucked into the counter-culture of disaffected types who happily dwell somewhere in that smeared venn-diagram that encapsulates the manosphere, alt-right, Trump Train, and OSR* gaming of both the RPG and wargaming variety.

A year or so later, I'm in the best shape of my life, working on a second (and third!) career, own a house, and am enjoying a new found freedom to let my little light shine on like a harvest moon.

Say what you want about a Cernovich's hucksterism or Vox's aloof megalomania or even a Roosh's hedonism, those guys have done more to encourage a rock solid delta like me to push harder and get better, than all the SJW types put together. 

Forget John Galt, those guys are working like the devils to show me how to cut my Harrison Bergeron chains, all the while the Diana Moon Glampers of the world, like the one shown in the photo above, are busy cocking shotguns.  The alt right pushes average Joes to get better for themselves while the SJWs demand people get worse for their the sake of others.

The great part about the alt-right is the genuine diversity it contains.  You get everybody from raw hedonists to near Puritanical "white buns => white ovens" and hard-core Catholics who look askance at this new-age Vatican II silliness.  Aside from the sort of good natured head-butting between guys who subscribe to differing subcultures - the sort that occurs any time a group of guys gets together - the divisions matter far less than the common thread of, "Be your own man," that runs through the lot of them.

Yeah, everybody is selling their own brand, but purity just ain't our bag, baby.

So which one am I?  Like most guys in the counter-culture, I'm me.  The sense you get from reading most commenters in the various blogs is that everybody picks and chooses and builds their own identity that incorporates elements of each one.  In short, every man in the movement is his own man.  You can bet there's more variety even among the Vile Faceless Minions of the Supreme Dark Lord than there is at any BLM meeting.

That's just the sort of not-really-group that a horde of not-really-much-of-a-joiner types can get into.

We'll leave the purity tests for the libertarians.

*Old School Renaissance.  Google it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Deep Breath Before The Plunge

Soon my first honest-to-goodness for sale on its own merits title goes up for sale on Amazon.com.  Hot Sun, Cold Fury is the first in a series of men's adventure stories featuring Karl Barber, a regular man of action who dives into trouble to save those who most need saving.  Nicknamed for the knife he carries, it's a two fisted tale of bad guys, pretty girls, and one man who won't be stopped.  You should try it, it's only a buck.

This isn't my first paid writing gig (my day job consists largely of writing technical reports,) nor is it my first sale of fiction work (Steve Jackson games published a couple of my articles in Pyramid Online a decade ago).  It is, however, the first time one of my baby birds has been pushed out of the nest into the cold, hard world to fly or not based on its own merits.

A ten year younger version of me would have waited and revised this story a dozen more times and then sat on it, fearful of all the negative reactions that might occur.  The fool.  Game savvy me knows that the reaction is irrelevant.  The important thing is to execute this story violently rather than wait for the perfect story next week. 

Call it the professional version of approach anxiety.  The only way past it is through it.
And that's the curious thing about learning Game and taking the Red Pill.  For all the press it gets about being a manipulative way to bang hot chicks, it is so much more than that.  It really is a complete attitude shift.  Learning to stop fearing negative reactions from women is only one benefit that arises from shifting your approach to life, the universe, and everything.  It teaches a fearlessness and independence that surely makes the powerful men - the ones who need good little obedient children for taxpayers - so nervous.  For this writer, those days are over.

So what do you say, internet?  Howzabout you and I get together sometime?

Monday, May 23, 2016

Why Appeasement Never Works

The following discussion was seen on G+, where a significant portion of the most interesting discussions on the internet is taking place outside the view of most of SF/F fandom.  The impetus for the discussion was GenCon's list of Featured Presenters for 2016, which consisted of 50 percent women, and 10 percent people you've heard of.  Blogs such as gomakemeasammich (Google it yourself, we don't link to whiners here) were lamenting that this huge win was actually a sign of how bad things are because all too many people questioned the wisdom of putting no-names, activists, and community organizers on panels at a game convention instead of, you know, actual game designers and writers.

At any rate, Misha Burnett (linked to because we do link to excellent writers here) hit a grand slam, out of the park home run with this observation about the insidious forces at work within the culture:

Jeffro Johnson
Yesterday 2:05 PM

Rick, these people are there for scalps. It's not lack of management. It's lack of spine.

Misha Burnett
Yesterday 2:19 PM

Yeah, it's not about wanting something, it's about wanting to take something from someone else. 

We could start a group devoted to men carrying buckets of mud around, start posting pictures of ourselves lifting buckets of mud and walking from place to place with them, start writing columns about mud-carrying, with arguments about which kinds of mud are best to carry around, and what kind of buckets are the coolest, and make up an award for the guy who carries the most mud and another for the guy who carries the mud the farthest, and so on. 

Inside six months we'll get an outraged group of SJWs who are insisting that we recognize them as being mud-carriers and award the mud-carrying award to their designated person, and if we don't it's proof that we're racist/sexist/homophobic. 

These people don't care about games, what they care about is proving that they can take away anything that we can build.
Show less

Jeffro Johnson
Yesterday 2:24 PM
I have withdrawn from the arts, academia, journalism, and entertainment because of these people. Now they want gaming. There's no place else to retreat to.

Jeffro's shot is included as a firm endorsement. I'm honored to play a small role in the fight to retake ground from the perennial sourpusses that have come to dominate our modern culture.

Note also that conversations like this flourish in areas where the SJWs have very little penetration.  Some social media sites are going to be a lot harder for them to converge than others.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

On Authenticity, Part One

No thank you, you don't look like
you believed me the first time.
One of the less fortunate aspects of this modern world is it's overwhelming reliance on sarcasm and irony.  Much like the Red Pill itself, once you notice the pervasive use of sarcasm in modern conversation, you can't NOT notice that it is everywhere.  As a dullard, the source, reason, and rhyme behind the modern tendency to lean heavily on sarcasm is beyond my ken and analysis.  What is clear, even to a dullard like me, is that most of the men most deserving of respect tended to use sarcasm sparingly.  They spoken plainly and meant what they said. 

For men like Cincinnatus, George Washington, and H.L. Mencken, sarcasm was a spice best used carefully and in moderation.  Compare to today's constant conversation as typified in places like Facebook, Twitter, and what the kids call IRL.  You can't swing a birthday cat gif without stumbling across a clever sarcastic bit like this one.
The genesis of my own feelings on this matter started when working a stint in San Francisco where a co-worker recommended checking out a long-running stage musical called, "Beach Blanket Babylon".  My response was as follows:
No, because it sounds pretty gay.  And I don't mean that in the pejorative sense, just in the descriptive sense.  The radio ad sounds extremely campy and tongue in cheek, as though the producers, stars, and everyone involved lacks enough faith in what they are doing to simply present it for what it is.
That's a problem for me.  I like stage musicals.  For their own sake.  Not because they are silly and work despite the goofy conventions like people breaking into song and dance at the drop of a hat.  I like them because when done well, the conventions fade and allow the story and the art to take center stage.  People who produce campy musicals lack the elegance necessary to pull off that trick and use camp to disguise their incompetence.
An odd speech to give a co-worker on the way to lunch, but he was warned before I launched into it.  Hopefully it was presented with enough charm and humor that he didn't think it too terribly strange.

Lately, it seems like more and more people are using sarcasm as a way of avoiding making an actual argument.  To borrow a demonstration from Maddox, this short video on the use of the word, "Really," as a shortcut to dismissive discourse is illuminating.

Preach it, Brother Maddox.

As a guy whose mid-life crisis seems to be one focused on making himself a better man physically, mentally, and emotionally, this one is a no brainer.  Stand tall, be yourself, and be more forthright.  It's right there in the Scout's Code for a reason, after all.

Turns out it is a lot harder to break the habit than expected. 

It's very easy to just parrot back or rephrase a stupid argument and follow up with a figurative or literal, "Really?"  At first, you catch yourself mid-phrase, stop, and recalibrate.  After a while your brain stalls out before you shoot off your damn fool mouth, and that's an interesting feeling.  To think, "This is my first instinct, but let's see if we can turn that around and do it without the snark."  It puts your arguments on much more solid ground, and leaves no doubt about where you stand.

Not a bad feeling.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Making America Great Again is Making My Head Great Again

For years now, your humble author has been a 'no words on my clothes' kind of guy.  My body is not your billboard*.

And then a t-shirt showed up under the Christmas tree that changed everything.

Everybody loves Vault Boy.
That t-shirt is a simple black shirt featuring Fallout's Vault Boy giving the ol' two-finger-gun-salute.  People compliment this shirt all the time.  This shirt is so relentlessly optimistic and fun, people can't help but get caught up in the feeling.  No doubt wearing this shirt inspires a man to walk a little taller, smile a little more, and just generally be more pleasant to be around.  Which inspires compliments, which makes a man feel more energy, which...

It's a positive feedback cycle in all the best ways.

Funny thing, I don't even play the game.  Love to, no time.  No matter - some people recognize it and some don't, but you don't have to recognize it to love the feeling it inspires.

The other article of clothing that inspires that feeling is my #MAGA hat.  It is so relentless optimistic and fun that it makes a man feel two inches taller.  The comments one gets - good or bad - are worth the price of admission alone.

Rando: "More like, 'Making America HATE Again,'"
Jon: "Whatever it takes to make it great, brother."

Rando: "Are you wearing that hat ironically?"
Jon: "Irony is for chumps!  Chumps don't want to make America great again."

Rando: "Nice hat!"
Jon: "It's a great hat, a beautiful hat.  Believe me, this hat is so great, you can't even believe how great it is.  I gotta tell ya, it's so great...I'm getting tired of how great it is!"

For a guy who has never voted for a Republican in his life, it's a very strange feeling. 

I think they call it 'hope', but not having experienced such an emotion since Reagan, it's hard to say what it is.

*Okay, I wear race t-shirts for events that I've run.  Those are more braggadocio for having done a thing than to advertise a thing.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Brief Introduction

Welcome to one man’s attempt to cast off the shackles of the corporate cubicle farm and start a new life as an independent author, voice talent, and freethinker. There are a host of articles smeared across the internet providing inspiration, advice, and nuts and bolts instructions on every step of the process, and this blog is happy to join in the chorus. It is an informal log of the ups and downs, the blind alleys and dead ends, and the victories won and treasures earned by a random guy in the suburbs with a good job, a great wife, and the happy life.

As a just-starting-out kind of guy the blog is a bit sparse at the moment, but stick with me, here, people.  We're just getting warmed up. 

What Does a Seagull Have to Do With All This?

In the early 1970s Richard Bach published a book about a seagull who turned its back on the day to day grind of life in the flock to pursue his true passion - the art of flight. After mastering both flight and himself, he returns to the flock to teach and guide other seagulls so that they too might leave the flock to pursue passions of their own. The book was a sensation, spending 38 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. It may not have aged well, but in its day it was a novel approach to the sort of inspirational self-help fiction that the Oprah Book of the Month Club takes for granted today.

This blog seeks to emulate Jonathan’s own journey by slowly breaking away from the flock, finding new avenues of satisfaction, and helping to guide others to turn their backs on the role society has tried to thrust upon them.

Thank you for being a part of the story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Hello, World!

The default way of introducing programs to the world has long been a traditional, "Hello, World!"  As a quick test post, there is no reason not to continue in the time honored fashion.