A Bevy of Concerns

It’s beginning to look a lot like xmas, and these days that means a news media chocked full of horror stories. Yes, they took a blind kid’s cane away in Kansas, American’s can now fuck with Cuba directly, a robot on Mars smelled an alien fart, and terrorists are running amuck in Afghanistan. Oh me, oh my have I forgotten anything? Why the mainstream media isn’t worried about an ebola epidemic anymore may be indicative of why they were so worried about it in the first place, but I digress because man are they concerned about the DPRK.

Another piece of troubling news gobbling up the airwaves. Possibly North Koreans a) have computers, b) potentially know how to use them well enough to penetrate Sony’s firewall, and c) they feel American Seth Rogen now qualifies as a “high value target.” Chuck Wendig is making too much sense over at Terrible Minds about this one. While I too am shaking in my slippers — I mean North Korea is a scary place — I don’t think this incident represents a credible “threat to our ability to create and share art.”

Truth be told, media distribution companies such as Sony, have been holding back plenty of art with far less cause. In fact, great heaps of stories never get told because they lack something critical. “Is it the quality of the art? The subject matter? The connections of the artist telling the story? Why?” you ask, “Why would anyone hold back a movie or a book from me?” It could be any number of components that Rogen and Franco seemingly had taken care of before a country which, while lacking orange juice, took it upon itself to hack the crap out of one of the world’s biggest, most financially capable, multi-national companies.

Not to give North Korea too much credit, but I think they may understand something basic about nouveau economic liberalism and the power of consumer culture that we, living in the thick of it, have seemingly missed. They have managed to pull our chain on this one and the funny thing is, we just let them.

DPRK hasn’t “won” anything, unless you’re a network security specialist looking for a new job. I hear Sony is hiring. No, parody movies mocking Kim Jung Un and his chubby, lovable, despotic cheeks will continue to be made. In fact, I imagine right now the writing staff at Saturday Night Live and College Humor are feverishly hacking together entertaining scripts on the topic of any number of ridiculous aspects of the “Supreme Leader.” And Sony will sit on this asset of a while, or they’ll sell it off. I predict that The Interview will eventually make it to the cinema.

Personally, I think what is scary about this situation is the news that we’re vulnerable to manipulative control. Sony didn’t withhold The Interview because they wanted to protect the consumer public. The threats of violence against their customers are an interesting pretext to the crumbling of this film, but I anticipate a rousing comeback in the near future. And funnily enough I don’t believe that it’s a potential revenue stream this company is protecting, it’s just not that important. Rather Sony and all those cinema companies refusing to show the film are suffering from a sever case of hypengyophobia. They’re shocked by the craziness of this whole cluster event in the first place and I believe that they’re trying to preempt any more crazy, in particular, they want to avoid responsibility for crazy, before it happens. Eventually, someone at Sony, or where ever the film gets passed, will realize that the heroic spin on this story demands that they get this comedy on screens.

So, meh. If you want DPRK to “win” then continue to crow that message. Otherwise, fly the bird for Sony and find a Kim Jung Un video on YouTube. Then play the crap out’ta that because freedom man. Laugh and laugh and know that you’re not living under the thumb of a petty, ridiculous commercial dictatorship who has the power to control your taste in media nor do you live in North Korea.

Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2014, Day Two: Non-Traditionally Published Books

FeetForBrains:

“The Big Red Buckle is a quick and decidedly satisfying read, and I look forward to seeing what Thyer comes up with next. And you know what? Even if it’s sports related, this couch potato is going to read it.” Andrea Johnson of Little Red Reviewer

“Mr. Thyer’s spare prose, to me, is reminiscent of Ray Bradbury’s work, in which I was never so clear about the scenery as I was about the characters and actions taking place in the story. After all, the characters must exist inside of suits, helmets, small vehicles, and domes that insulate the characters from a planet which is not yet hospitable to its new residents.” Zane Kinney of Rodeo City Graphics

THE BIG RED BUCKLE

KDP_BRBThumb

Humanity has begun to move out into the stars. Sport still plays a vital role in our day-to-day affairs. The Big Red Buckle recounts an episode of a single-stage endurance race held between two shield volcanoes on a Mars that is slowly being terraformed. Participants must run and soar over 1,500 kilometers while the solar system watches.

Available from Amazon & Smashwords.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Today is Day Two of the Whatever Shopping Guide 2014, and today the focus is on Non-Traditionally Published Books: Self-published works, electronically-exclusive books, books from micro presses, books released outside the usual environs of the publishing world, and so on. Hey, I put my first novel up on this very Web site fifteen years ago and told people to send me a dollar if they liked it. Look where it got me. I hope you find some good stuff today.

Please note that the comment thread today is only for non-traditional authors and editors to post about their books; please do not leave other comments, as they will be snipped out to keep the thread from getting cluttered. Thanks!

Authors/editors: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Authors and editors of non-traditionally published books only. This includes comics and graphic novels, as well as non-fiction books…

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Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide 2014 Starts Monday!

FeetForBrains:

Oh my favorite time of year. Incidentally, Lock In was excellent in both Wil and Amber narrated renditions.

Originally posted on Whatever:

Every year in the first full week of December I run a shopping guide for the holidays, and over the years it’s been quite successful: Lots of people have found out about excellent books and crafts and charities and what have you, making for excellent gift-giving opportunities during the holiday season. I’ve decided to do it again this year.

So: Starting Monday, December 1, the Whatever Holiday Shopping Guide Returns! If you’re a writer or other creator, this will be an excellent time to promote your work on a site which gets up to 50,000 visitors daily, almost all of whom will be interested in stuff for the holidays. If you’re someone looking to give gifts, you’ll see lots of excellent ideas. And you’ll also have a day to suggest stuff to other folks too. Everybody wins!

To give you all time to prepare, here’s the schedule of what will…

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Limited Exposure

Way to go America, you done fucked this goat rodeo. On election night I was vaguely aware of the fact that some percentage of America voiced their dissatisfaction with the symptoms of this modern life by knowingly and voluntarily voting for more of the cause.

The morning after election night, while taking A-bear to school, I listened to someone opine that this election cycle was not an election on the issues of the day, but a referendum on the performance of the President and his policies. If that’s truly the case then the election results are an indication of what a colossal pack of idiots we all must be. This piece by Jon Talton of the Seattle Times I think correctly lays blame for much of what has gone before and cogently uses that data to paint an accurate picture of what we should now expect. And this as if the economy and its woes were the only issue on America’s rather large plate of problems.

My problem with the midterm election results has less to do with the economics of our collective plight and more to do with the long term geophysical impacts our national politics will present to my kids. Sure, I’m not going to enjoy the next two years of a self-righteous political majority claiming a mandate to do whatever the fuck they want, but my chief concerns are the long term consequences of all the poorly informed, near-sighted, and repressive decisions they will ram through the political process. This scares the poop out of me.

The International Energy Agency warns that if we do not get our emissions under control by a rather terrifying 2017, our fossil fuel economy will “lock-in” extremely dangerous warming. “The energy-related infrastructure then in place will generate all the CO2 emissions allowed” in our carbon budget for limiting warming to 2 degrees Celsius—“ leaving no room for additional power plants, factories and other infrastructure unless they are zero-carbon, which would be extremely costly.” This assumes, probably accurately, that governments would be unwilling to force the closure of still-profitable power plants and factories. As Fatih Birol, the IEA’s chief economist, bluntly put it: “The door to reach two degrees is about to close. In 2017 it will be closed forever.” In short, we have reached what some activists have started calling “Decade Zero” of the climate crisis: we either change now or we lose our chance. 29

Klein, Naomi (2014-09-16). This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate (pp. 23-24). Simon & Schuster. Kindle Edition.

For the moment, I imagine that the door to maintain a climate with some passing resemblance to the Holocene has just closed. What we’ll call “limited climate change”, an Earth with only 2° C average increase in global average temperature, would still be a challenge to endure. Given the results of this latest cluster event of pea brained foolishness I think the United States of America just voted to crap on even this tiny concession to their own children. Our heartland is heartless.

Tar Sands in Utah

Karl Marx was right, capitalism will fail, but wrong about the reason. We should begin by acknowledging where we’re at. Last year, while everyone was arguing about some distracting and meaningless scandal, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management leased some 800,000 acres for tar sands extraction. To put this in perspective that’s a great deal of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. The Green River Formation, the Bitumen fossil remnants of an ancient, shallow inland sea, will be brought to the surface, processed and spat into the atmosphere. The fuse to this carbon bomb was lit while the the prevailing elected head of the Bureau had some power to prevent or delay such action. How big and scary is this climate forcing already underway going to be now that this friction has been removed? Consider this quote from Taylor McKinnon in this 2013 Esquire piece FORGET KEYSTONE. TAR SANDS DRILLING IS ON IN UTAH.

These lands may hold more recoverable oil than has been used so far in human history — 3 trillion barrels, according to a U.S. government report. They also contain two to seven times the oil — and potential green house gas emissions — as Alberta’s tar sands and could set off a “carbon bomb” that would hasten climate change, said McKinnon.

This is why I relish the anxieties of my youth. How much easier it would have been to die in a nuclear armageddon. Gone in an instant, leaving nothing but a shadow. But no, Capitalism won’t end because of the violent dissatisfaction of the proletariat. The remaining socio-economic model co-opted any meaningful resistance communist doctrine might allow. Capitalism will end itself, slowly killing the planet that plays host to its exponential madness.

And to those that will invariably suggest something regrettable, like handing the GOP both bits of congress is somehow nothing to worry about or might actually be a good thing, let me cut you off at the pass. Even in our former political situation we’ve made increasingly less headway toward a sustainable, nay livable, future than is outlined by the most modest of non-binding national or international agreements to which we’re signatory. Humanity was losing ground while there was still some resistance within our body of our government capable of adding friction.

Now what? We can plan on the worst of the worst assuming seats of power. Senator James “I’m a fucktard” Inhofe, for instance, is expected to lead the Environment and Public Works Committee beginning next January. Yeah, the poster child of willful ignorance who’s strings are pulled by the same Titans that drilled so many holes in Oklahoma it now has more earthquakes than California. Add Lisa “Drill it till its dry” Murkowski, she will be chairing Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. So tell me again, how is this all going to be okay? Please explain how putting a bunch of madmen in control of climate mitigation policy will help mankind stay below 2° C?

So, while I sit here enjoying my last bits of easy energy and privilege at the expense of my grand kids, I feel precariously perched on the edge of something horrible. I am not optimistic knowing that it is very likely I will witness significant climate forcings in my lifetime. I am not optimistic that the rest of you fuckers will wake up or even acknowledge the reality of our situations. It’s likely already too late. I’m not even optimistic that cogent economic arguments based on cheap, sustainable and clean energy can prevail against the institutional inertia of the fossil fuel industry. Solar has already reached grid parity with all fossil fuels and while there is growth in that market, any carbon offsets achieved have already been rendered irrelevant by way of All of the Above energy policy.

I hope they’re paying a premium to Lamar, but I doubt it.

Instead I’m looking for a way out, I am searching for a way to limit my exposure. I’m doing this with an increasingly sick heart, because, lets face facts, this shit is depressing. I want, very desperately, to live a mindful life of compassion and in some way atone for my past transgressions. Yet, I feel constantly swept away by a flood of human behavior in the aggregate; “normalize or die” should be mankind’s motto. Harden your heart, duck march with the rest of us, all the important decisions have already been made.

If you can’t tell I’m more than a little upset by this turn of events. My trust in humanity has been once again violated, you guys are so disappointing.

Teaching

I can no longer remember his name, but for two years, where I attended East Middle School in my home town, I regularly took Industrial Arts classes with a guy that made a real difference in my life. I can’t recall his name, but I can clearly see him in my mind’s eye. He was tall, lanky and perpetually wore a beard and safety glasses. He also taught me how to turn a lath, pour molten metal using a couple of casting techniques, as well as several sorts of welding.

Back then I was in love with learning, mostly because of its nature. Concept applied to things I could understand or wanted to know more about. Each semester I had to come up with a new project for that Industrial Arts program and I can recall it consuming me even before the classes began.

My friend Michael Glane is teaching some heavy concepts through demonstration. I watched this video and felt moved to experiment myself.

Bite Me Apple

Last night, during a typical Pacific Northwestern wind storm, the transformer for our neighborhood popped and power has been subsequently out of service for the duration. Fortunately, I was awake to witness the power outage and then turned off all my devices which I had recently charged.

This morning, after locating a coffee shop with juice and wi-fi, I came back home intending to top everything off using my handy dandy Suntactics sCharger-12 High Performance Solar Charger. I opened some blinds, plugged my standard issue Apple certified lightning cable into the PV panel and my iPhone 5s and was surprised when, for the first time ever, iOS 8 let me know that I wasn’t using a certified cord.

Just to be perfectly clear, the chord in question **is** an Apple product. The cord came in the box with the phone. The problem is likely the product of their proprietary MFi chip detecting a voltage drop specific to the PV panel or fluctuation caused by periodic cloud cover. But here in lies the biggest problem with black box bullshit development. Someone at Apple decided that they could make a bit more money to add to their heaps of the stuff if they embedded a fairly stupid method of ensuring that you only charge your phone using their proprietary system.

The license is for the cable, not the power source. Their detection method is too dumb to know the difference and thus it pushes good people (like me) into a situation where they have to do bad things. Right now I’m looking for ways to hack the fuck out of this system so that I am no longer subject to its ridiculousness. I’m doing this on a limited charge, doing my best MattGyver impression, in the hope that I can bump my battery while the sun still shines. Here comes the next big, mean, dark cloud.