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Month: December 2016

Digital Libraries

Digital Libraries


If you’re lucky enough, your county’s library system might have a “digital library” or a website where you can check out eBooks (usually with DRM applied).  I have a library card from my previous residence (on the West Coast), and that county library uses Over Drive.  My local library has a digital library but they use something else (someone stole my local library card, amongst my other things, grrr).

So, since I no longer have my local library card, I’ve been poking around at the Over Drive site for my former county of residence, and I wanted to talk about something that’s been bothering me for a long time.  Almost all of the books, save for classics, have DRM.  Those limitations are very steep.  Only one person can check out a book at a time, never mind the fact that the average ePub or MOBI file is about 300 KB.  It wouldn’t be a huge bandwidth drain to let several patrons check out a book simultaneously.

The reason for this is copyright law.  The library has to purchase a license for a given title, and that license is only good for a certain number of checkouts.  Then they have to purchase it again.

I found an blog post called “Why borrowing an eBook from your library is so difficult” that explains the wretched situation:

Once you get past the technical hoops of connecting your library to your e-reader, you’ll figure out fast that publishers have decided to force libraries to treat e-books like paper books, so only one person can check them out at a time. The library can only check out as many copies of an e-book as they’ve purchased or licensed from publishers. Seems like an antiquated way of going about things, right? It gets worse.

Publishers also decided that since e-books don’t wear out the way paper books do, they need to put limits on how many times a title can be lent before the library has to buy a new copy. For some publishers, the e-book “wears out” after 26 uses. Other publishers put a time limit on it, allowing a library to loan an e-book for a year before having to renew what amounts to a license fee. The publishers that still allow libraries to buy an e-book and loan it out forever without restrictions often charge a very high price for each book.

Note:  the blog post is from 2013, but is still pretty relevant.  This, of course, is the publishers’ fault.  They’re greedy and they think this kind of crap will prevent piracy (hint:  it does not.  At all.  Trust me, I know).

What astonishes me is that there are some people (mostly on Mobileread) who actually defend this practice!  They’re all, “but, it’s a library.  It only makes sense.  I mean, more than one person cannot check out the same hardcover copy of a book!”

No, it’s not the same!  We’re talking about a small digital file that can be anywhere from 300 KB to 2 MB!  It doesn’t take a whole lot to host such files, and it doesn’t take a whole lot to allow people to download the files!  Even simultaneously!  The whole point of ePub and MOBI files (and PDFs, of which tend to be larger and are only really any good on a desktop PC or a ten inch tablet like an iPad) is that they are small and cheap to reproduce!  One hundred people could easily check out a copy of, I dunno, My Awesome Book by Jane Doe simply because the technology makes it possible to do so.  eBook libraries should be the future, and yet they are not because the publishing industry is completely greedy and unwilling to change.

So I’m looking at the library on Tuesday – New Release Tuesday – and I would have no chance of checking out a new release because some other patron has already checked it out, even though, technically, it can be done even with DRM restrictions on the file (of which can still limit the amount of time I can actually read the file, depending on my account settings).

A waiting list for a digital file that can easily be replicated is just absurd.  It’s antiquated and completely ridiculous.

Oh hell no!

Oh hell no!


nope grumpy cat

Oh no no no no no.  NO.  I read the following paragraph a few days ago and saw red:

That said, it does seem counterintuitive to advocate that there be less sex in YA and I worry that people will lump me in with the moralistic, puritanical voices of those who are likely to censor books containing sexual content due to their fear of sexuality. Of course I disagree with censorship and am all for sex positivity and the presence of sex and romance in YA novels – I just think that there’s room for multiplicity. That maybe, not every single narrative should contain sex and that maybe more YA characters should be able to get through a novel without having a single love interest or thinking that they’re freaks of nature for this reason.

This is from a blog post at BookRiot called “On Normalizing Teen Singlehood in YA” and as I said, it pissed me off.

First of all, the whole notion of “book banning” and the kind of censorship the idiot author is talking about is complete and utter bullshit.  Books are not being “banned” in the US.  Books that some people feel are inapprorpiate for children and teenagers are being “challenged” (complained about by parents and/or teachers, and in rare cases, students) and some are removed from the library shelves or school reading lists and curricula.

That does not mean the possession and consumption of said books are illegal.  NO.  That is not what’s happening. A book being pulled off of the shelf will not stop a given person from reading it.  This is hardly censorship.

A lot has been happening for me lately, and I added this to my Safari reading list with the intent of writing a post about how much it enraged me.  Then other stuff happened, and this post from Glenn Beck’s The Blaze caught my eye (and no, I do not like Glenn Beck anymore but I’ll link it anyway):  Pedophilia, Incest, and Graphic Sex: Excerpts from a Common Core Reading List Book for 11th-Graders That Will Make You Blush.

No, I did not blush.  I got angrier, and was reminded of that stupid post I read on BookRiot.  I just had to say something.  The book in question is The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  At first glance it seems like it would be an interesting novel, given that it’s about a black girl that basically wishes for blue eyes so she can be “pretty.”  Timely, too.  This book is recommended by the odious Common Core program.

Then you read the excerpts (I’m not putting that crap on my blog; that excerpt from the BookRiot post is enough garbage for one post) and you’re like, “naaaah, that’s quite alright.  Kids should at least read, I dunno, Mark Twain or something before reading this contemporary smutfest.”  There’s incest and pedophilia in that book, which might be a tad advanced for a bunch of high school juniors.

Now, if I ever finish my novel and publish it, you’ll probably think I’m a raging hypocrite.  My main character, Tara, is captured by the US government for the purposes of exploiting her psychic abilities and in the course of her captivity, is sexually abused.  She also has consensual sex with her boyfriend (but it’s not graphic or gross).  I don’t think that being “puritanical” and “moralistic” about sexuality or anything is a bad thing.  Quite the opposite. People like me are not “afraid” of sex.  I’m angry about how sex has been CHEAPENED by idiots like the BookRiot blogger.  Sex is more than just some need that has to be fulfilled.  It’s not like hunger or thirst.  It’s more than that.  It isn’t some random thing people do on a Friday night because they’re boring people with no other interests or hobbies.  It’s how the human race exists.  It’s the strengthening of the bond between a husband and a wife.  It’s the ultimate expression of love between two people (well, one of the ultimate expressions of love).  It is not a fucking political statement and it’s not, and should not, be a goddamn hobby.  Stamp collecting is a hobby.  Basket weaving is a hobby.  Sex is not, and should not be a hobby.

I read a lot of YA.  I don’t like the way sex is portrayed in very much of the genre.  The girl just can’t wait until she loses her virginity, and is magically a better person once she loses it, and becomes even better the more random partners she has.  There’s no word on the true purpose of sex – procreation – unless the author wants to promote contracpetion or abortion.

So we’ve got Common Core advocates pushing for kids to read stuff like The Bluest Eye and they wonder why people like me complain.  Nothing Toni Morrison has written could possibly be considered exemplary literature.  Nothing.  Kids should read the classics FIRST, because THESE are excellent examples of literature – they’re classics for a reason.  Many of today’s authors have basically taken the plots of those classics and have put their own spin on it.  To have a full appreication of writing and literature, you have to read and understand the greats first.

Oh, and another thing.  The difference between what I’ve written in my as-yet unpublished novel and The Bluest Eye is this:

The presence of the book on Common Core’s list, combined with Morrison’s descriptions of incest, rape, and pedophilia as “friendly,” “innocent,” and “tender” have sparked outrage in some communities.

I don’t glorify rape.  I don’t make it seem friendly or innocent or tender or any other wonderful adjective you could possibly throw at it.  Not just no, but HELL NO.  I show it for the horror it is.  Writing about these contentious subjects is a good thing, but one shouldn’t glorify or glamorize it.  I cannot believe someone like Toni Morrison can write shit like that and just go about her business like nothing’s wrong.

Mainstream literature – whether it be contemporary fiction, historical fiction, or YA should not glorify stuff like this.  This stuff is also too explicit for high schoolers.  If that makes me a preening, moralistic busybody then so be it.  I don’t care.

Unhappy Endings

Unhappy Endings

I’m sure you’ve all heard of the Divergent saga.  You’ve probably heard of the films, but they were based on a trilogy by Veronica Roth.  The premise – teenage girl lives in heavily segregated post-apocalyptic Chicago, learns to fit in with another group while learning how to “fight” and falling in love with some guy – sounded like Lois Lowery’s The Giver and…well, probaby Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games trilogy but that book’s premise wasn’t entirely original (see Stephen King’s The Running Man and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami).

The first film adaptation did fairly well, but the other two films in the saga did not.  Now the final part of the film saga, Ascendant, is in limbo because the studio does not want to blow a lot of money on a movie that won’t do well (as of right now, it’s going to be a TV movie).  I thought this was interesting.  The last two films of the saga are based on one book, Allegiant, which is an annoying trend, and the ending of Allegiant may be one reason the film didn’t do so well, and might also be one reason for the studio’s hesitance in making a theater-quality film (as opposed to a made for TV movie).

Spoilers ahead….

Read More Read More

On writing tough things

On writing tough things

So I need to get back to writing.  I really do.  I did do some work on Nemesis yesterday, but then got sidetracked into doing a related side-project.  In Nemesis, the main character, Tara, is captured by the US government and is taken to an underground facility.  She has a number of amazing abilities, including the ability to communicate with others through her dreams (which, I realized some time ago, sounds an awful lot like astral projection).

Well, when she’s down there, she is experimented on and observed by scientists.  The side-project consists of the notes and observations written by the scientists.  The side-project is really fun because one of the scientists is a snobby European who is a lot of fun to write.

That scientist also happens to be a sex-addict and a rapist.  This is actually important to the story, I promise, but I don’t want to spoil it.  There are rape scenes, and all of them were pretty graphic, but I toned most of them down, except for the last one.  I felt, and feel so bad for writing them, but on the other hand, why sweep these issues under the rug?  I don’t want people to get off on these scenes…I just want people to see them for the horror they are, I guess.

I’m also scared to let my fellow conservatives read those scenes, if I ever get around to finishing it enough to send it out to beta readers.  And I am definitely kind of scared to let anyone in my family read them (they can’t wait to read the finished novel).  I don’t want to censor myself or chicken out either, though.

Even an Austrian can be completely ignorant

Even an Austrian can be completely ignorant

This is kind of late, but I just had to write some kind of response.  It’s been on my mind, off and on, ever since the election, basically.

I’m just going to leave off how I found this.  I just found it, and it bothered me.  Austrian actor and prime Eurosnob Christoph Waltz went on Austrian TV to lament the election of Donald Trump. It is entirely in German, and this blogger was kind enough to offer this translation:  “This piss-stupid insanity

Now note, this is all a translation.  I do not speak or read German, because I’m a hopelessly ignorant American.  I just wanted to respond to some of the comments he made.

G: You live in Los Angeles, which has been and continues to be Democrat, but it borders on Mexico, where Trump plans to build a wall. You live in Los Angeles. Do you personally experience this division in the city?

W: No. Fortunately not. But in California, support for Trump is more in the North-East. At the border to Mexico, it’s solidly Democrat. The wall for me … I don’t know, it remains to be seen. But I can only say that for me personally, the presence of the many Latinos in Los Angeles is fortunate, because they have a completely different way of life, and a much more direct relationship with life, and with humanity.

I have bolded the bit I found offensive.  Why the hell does he even remain in the US if he thinks Americans don’t have a direct relationship with life and humanity?  What is that supposed to even mean anyway?  What, do we use our iPhones too much?  This is typical Eurosnob speak.  Of course, those poor brown non-Americans are so much better than those fat, disgusting pig Yankees who spend too much money and eat too much food.

I am actually Latino, and I guess I should be flattered by this, but I am not.  Instead, I am pissed off.  And another thing – I highly doubt this two-time Oscar winner even has many “Latino” friends and the only “Latinos” he meets are the ones that come around to fix his plumbing or mow his lawn.

Americans want the wall because there are too many Mexicans (and other non-Americans) in this country.  They aren’t just “taking our jobs” – they’re costing the taxpayers billions of dollars every year.  We have to feed them, clothe them, shelter them and educate their children – in their native language no less.  The United States is already in deep financial shit as it is, and these people, who have absolutely nothing but contempt for American laws and cultrue, are not helping.

A great deal of these illegals are also pretty violent, but I’ll get to that later.  Did Kate Steinle’s killer have a more direct relationship with life and humanity, Mr. Waltz?  I’d pay good money to have him answer that one.

G: Much has been said about social networks and the media in the US. There was massive campaigning there, and every one of Trump’s utterances was re-hashed. What is the significance of this? As an actor, you know how important PR is. Did social networks, the media, make Trump even bigger than he already was?

W: Absolutely. Absolutely, because the so-called social networks have, there are now a number of studies about this, they also have a high anti-democratic and undemocratic energy. And I doubt that this piss-stupid insanity would have been able to spread that quickly without the so-called social networks. Because it would always have gone through a bit of a critical filter. As much as one can deplore the degeneration of journalism in the digital age. If there is a critical mind in the background that does not even edit, but just filters, it already looks different. If it needs to be printed or finished for television. On the internet, everyone can spread everything immediately, no matter what it’s based on. And obviously, that makes it much easier to spread negative content, because it’s always like that.

I just chuckle at this one.  He’s an old man who is terrified of social media – after all, he stated that Facebook is a step towads fascism.  Sigh, yet another person who misuses the word “fascism.”  Look, I’m not that enthusiastic about social media either, but I’m not stupid.  If I read something, I verify it.  Instead of blaming “fake news” sites, he blames it on social media spreading all this “piss-stupid insanity.”  God, he lives in quite the bubble.  Christoph Waltz is a true SJW.  Instead of questioning what he’s read about the election so far, he doubles down.  It’s obviously someone else’s fault.  He, and all the other “moderate” liberals (in another interview, he actually called himself a moderate liberal, which is a laugh, considering how he enthusiastically defended Roman Polanski, of all people) still believe they’re right.

Anti-democratic?  Undemocratic?  Does he not realize that first of all, the United States government is not a democracy?  We are a republic, with democratic elements.  Democracy is nothing more than mob rule.  Note how he does not elaborate on the nature of this anti-democratic nature.  Or what this “piss-stupid” insanity is.  Just that someone on this earth does not think like him, so therefore they must be insane, stupid and anti-democratic.

And he goes to defend the traditional media, because they can shape the message before it goes to print, and that somehow makes it better.  The guy is either deluded or clueless.

G: Does this result in a responsibility for the culture industry or for stars who have hundreds of thousands or even more than a million followers? To call for moderation in social networks and prevent further division?

W: Of course I see a responsibility. But I always see a responsibility. I don’t see more of a responsibility than usual, just because of Trump. I argue that if we had been conscious of this responsibility earlier, then maybe we could have … maybe not changed anything, but maybe at least raise awareness. Because honestly, I see it as a deficit in awareness to fall for this kind of demagoguery.

Here’s where it gets a little scary.  He does not like social media at all, and has absolutely no social media accounts.  That might possibly be due to the fact that he’s no good with computers anyway.

I bolded the part that really concerns me.  And what would that awareness be?  Supporting Hillary?  Once again, he does not elaborate, and the interviewer just lets it go, without pressing him to defend his crazy opinions.

The scary part is that he, like every other liberal Hollywood asshat, feels he has the responsibility to “raise awareness” – also known as “promoting propaganda.”  So he’s apparently totally okay with being a propagandist.  God forbid any American expect our government to enforce its immigration laws.

Oh, but he must be butthurt about all the mean things Trump said.

G: In his first speech, Trump has appeared conciliatory. It was a bit of a change that he went through there on stage. Do we not have to presume his innocence, give him a bit of time and say we have to wait and see, and we judge him by what he actually does?

W: You mean we declare everything he has said so far as unsaid and say forget it, it does not matter? He did not call for torture, he did not say that if one has atomic weapons, one might as well use them, he did not say Mexicans are rapists and drug dealers? I mean, the list goes on forever. We just pretend this has never been mentioned and say maybe he’s actually a fun guy? Why? What has been said cannot be unsaid. And Obama himself said in his meeting with Trump that we have to work on making Trump feel welcome and that if he succeeds, the country succeeds. Really? If Trump succeeds with what he announced during his campaign, then we have reached the end.

Liberals are completely incapable of avoiding hypocrisy.  They are unable to be anything but hypocrites.  He is very much the kind of “subjective morals” kind of guy, especially given that ever since his Oscar-winning turn in Inglorious Basterds, he’s been typecast as a villain.

First of all, no, Trump did not call for torture, did not say that if one has atomic weapons that one should just use them, and he did not say that all Mexicans were rapists and drug dealers.

Question.  Why is it okay for you to automatically write off Donald Trump (and Dick Cheney, who he believes is an “evil” Vice President) as a complex human being, but we’re not supposed to care that Roman Polanski has evaded justice for over thirty fucking years after drugging and anally raping a teenage girl?  Why must I pretend that Polanski has never raped a teenage girl and that he’s a really fun guy?  What Polanski has done cannot be undone.  Why should any of us ignore it?  Because you worked with him?  Excuse me, but no.  Not just no, but fuck no.

Yes, if Trump does succeed, the country will be better off.  Hell, Trump’s not even in office and he’s saved 1,000 jobs.  He’s getting shit done.  Maybe it’s the end for your brand of libertine globalism, but it isn’t the end for America.

G: The first people to congratulate Trump were right-wing populists and despots. They were jubilant and they now expect a boost from Trump’s victory in America. You are what one could call a wanderer between cultures: you live in America, but you also live in London and in Berlin. You know Brexit, you know both those systems. As someone who really knows both sides well, do you think there is going to be this boost for right-wing populists in Europe?

W: Yes, those right-wing populists are sure to try and benefit from this media hype. That pathetic Brexit person Farage has already presented himself here and has tried to somehow heat up opinions by saying it would be a “Brexit plus plus”. Unfortunately, he was effectively right, there is no arguing with that. But the political systems are so different that it’s impossible to compare one and the other. And Mr Farage would have to explain to me again what organisation it is that the USA want to leave for their own benefit. I know that Trump has announced he would cancel or even just ignore trade agreements, to destabilise NATO if the partners don’t pay – which effectively means that he wants to turn the United States Army into an army of mercenaries. All those things … It is only tempting to make a comparison if one is after a headline.

I suppose that “despot” would happen to be Vladimir Putin.  Fair enough.  But it’s not like Kim Jong-Un is calling Trump and offering his congratulations.  I’ll get to the bolded bit in a minute.  That one also pissed me off real good.

Okay, this bit makes it painfully obvious that he just does not know what he’s talking about.  Waltz does not think that Brexit has anything to do with Trump’s victory.  Uh, yes it does.  The two events have one important thing in common:  the people’s rejection of globalism.  DUH.  How could you not know that?  I’m not saying you have to agree with it or approve of either Trump’s victory or Brexit, but how can you not know what drove these events in the first place?

And he has some bizarre, personal vendetta against Nigel Farage.  He needs to get over it.  Jesus.

So, on to the bolded bit.  Waltz clearly has no respect for the US armed forces.  He is already on record stating that, as far as he’s concerned, the US Marine uniform has the same significance to him as the Nazi uniform.  My advice to you, Mr. Waltz, if you figured out how to turn on your computer and navigate to my humble little blog:  don’t say that shit to any American.  You never know if the person you’re talking to is a veteran, and if they are, and you say that in their presence, they’ll kick your scrawny ass back to Vienna.

But NO, that’s not what Trump meant.  At all.  Trump expects the NATO nations that aren’t actually paying the money they agreed to pay when they joined the pact in the first place to, oh, I dunno, PAY UP.  Are you at all aware of his actual postion on the matter?  The United States is BROKE.  I don’t know how many times I have to say it.  We can’t afford this shit anymore.  We certainly can’t afford the archaic and obsolete NATO anyway, and no, we shouldn’t have to send our troops to go bail out some European country when they aren’t even paying their fair share.  Trump said that until these countries start paying what they promised to pay, we might not bother anymore.  They’ll have to defend themselves.  That hardly makes the US armed forces a fucking mercenary force, you asshole.

And the very last bit – get scared, y’all.

G: One more question to Hollywood: Hollywood is an opinion maker. Does the film industry need to have a stronger and more courageous way of dealing with the topic of right-wing populism?

W: Yes. Absolutely. We all need a stronger and more sensible approach to this topic. We all need to start to carefully think about how we want to shape our community and what we can bring to the table. Hollywood is an opinion maker, but Hollywood is also a multi-billion-dollar business. Hollywood has not been led by responsible opinion makers and critical thinkers for a long time. Instead, it is led by multinational corporations whose accountants and business managers dictate more or less where it’s heading. Now, that sounds worse than it is … Or maybe it is worse than it sounds, I don’t know. In any case, a lot will happen within the so-called independent scene in reaction to this.

Vox Day was RIGHT!!!  SJWs, after they lie, they double down!  They always fucking double down!  This is WHY Trump won!  Or at least one of the many reasons he won!  Nobody but snotty liberals on either coast is interested in Hollywood as an opinion maker.  Of course, opinion making is code for propagandizing.

Okay okay, so in another interview, he complained about people complaining about how the public expects historical films and films based on true stories to be accurate.  He said this mostly during the promotion of the film Big Eyes.  No, Walter Keane did not speak with a nasal Austrian accent, and yet the director, Tim Burton, felt that expecting Waltz to actually speak like an American when playing an American was unnecessary.  Waltz also felt that it was unnecessary to acknowledge that yes, Walter Keane actually did some of his own artwork.

So when he performs in films like Django Unchained and Big Eyes, he’s not making historical documentaries or biographies.  Nah, accuracy be damned, and yet, he now expects film studios to continue to promote the inaccurate garbage they’ve been promoting for decades because there are still people in the US capable of thinking for themselves regardless of what Hollywood has to say about anything.

So,  less comic-book blockbusters and more stupid propaganda like Selma and Django Unchained and 12 Years a Slave and Obvious Child and The Butler (especially this one, as the titular character didn’t actually hate the Reagans at all) and all those dreary anti-war films of the Bush era.  There’s loads of films I could list, but you get the point.  There’s so many it’s hard to keep track of them all, and before you freak out about Selma, my grandfather is black and grew up in the segregated South, and even he said that that movie was a load of crap.

He believes that independent films will continue to push the decidedly false liberal narrative and hopefully save the day, or some such nonsense.

One of the absolute worst aspects of American society is how much power Hollywood has, and how overwhelmingly leftist our public education is (from kindergarten all the way through graduate school).  That shit got Obama elected.  That shit also got Trump elected in a way because people are sick of it.

Hollywood was firmly in the tank for Hillary.  They worked so hard to get her elected – for decades now, almost every single female president character was inspired by her.  A great deal of positive political female characters were inspired by her.  Hillary got celebrity endorsements left and right.  Dozens of newspapes across the nation endorsed her.  Hell, fashion magazines like Vogue endorsed her!

And yet it amounted to absolutely nothing.  She lost in an electoral landslide.  You must be a special kind of stupid to think that doubling-down is going to improve your situation.  Spoiler alert:  it won’t.

These people won’t stop.  They won’t rest.  They’ll continue putting out this stupid toxic crap and they’ll attack us and call us bigots who don’t have a direct relationship with life and humanity.  They’ll never learn.  The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.  That’s what Ida B. Wells said.  She’s so right.  This isn’t over, and we’ve got to keep fighting.

Hey snobs – you’re on notice!

Hey snobs – you’re on notice!

One of the things that pleases me greatly about this past election is the complete and utter repudiation of the snobs in our society.  You know.  The ones that live in big cities and on either coasts.  Some of them are Canadians living in Toronto or wherever.  Any cosmopolitan, brightly lit city – that’s where they’re born and bred.

I like cities, by the way.  I don’t hate them but what I do hate is the preening, self-righteous snobbery that some people carry in their black little hearts.

Trump is loud, obnoxious, plain-spoken, boorish, arrogant, etc.  Oh, he’s so awful!  Nobody thought he would win.  I didn’t think he would win.  In fact, I was so scared of the election that I didn’t even watch the results on election night (and I wish I had).  I spent the evening playing Elder Scrolls Online.  I had my iPad with me, and I checked it every now and then, so I knew it was happening, but kept myself distracted.

Anyway, he won and I spent the entire week being completely shocked.  It happened.  It really happened, and all the bullshit slung from the mainstream media and assorted leftist snobs (and the obnoxious NeverTrumpers) amounted to absolutely nothing.

You can sneer at our pro-life avatars, our tri-corn hats and our flag-waving all you want.  At the end of the day, you’re still a loser.  President Trump is our middle finger to you and your delicate sensibilities.  Now go away into obscurity where you belong.  We don’t need your approval.