You Know You’re a Writer When

you know you're a writer

Thanks to Cronin Detzz, who posted this on Google +. It serves as a reminder that May 1, the next edition of Eagle Peak Quarterly will include the next instalment on writing techniques. As it happens, I am still working on it. Haven’t quite totally defeated the devil known as procrastination, although I have him subdued most of the time, allowing him freedom only on my most tired or brain-dead days. By the way, there will be other wonderful things in the next edition. I will say more about that next week.

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152 Death Row Inmates Exonerated in US Since 1973

A startling statistic. Almost a 10-1 ratio of executions to exonerations during the same time period. There were 10 prisoners freed from 1973-1976. So it’s 142 freed versus 1,404 executed. The average time spent on death row was 11.2 years among those who were exonerated. So who can say how many of the 1,404 who were put to death were actually innocent? A scary and disturbing thought. “Oh, but we only execute those who were actually guilty?” Well, probably not, given these statistics. Does this give anyone pause who fully supports the death penalty? “Well, if a few innocent people (who probably really are guilty of something) die in order to ensure that the  really evil people are executed, that is the price of justice”–is that a reasonable  counter argument? No, I don’t think so. But if you still believe in capital punishment, keep this in mind the next time someone is given a death sentence in America. Continue reading 152 Death Row Inmates Exonerated in US Since 1973

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Obscure Author Wins Award for Trump Expose

The Pumpkinskin Press announced today that it is awarding its half-decade prize for investigative journalism to little-known writer Ulysses X. Binnick. Through an exhaustive series of secret interviews  with warehouse workers at Mattel, Binnick confirmed his suspicion that certain employees had been supplying Donald Trump with rejected strands of the artificial hair used on the head of the famous Barbie dolls. Spokespersons for Mattel insisted that the company had no knowledge of the unauthorized removal and sale to Trump of the “hair,” nor its use by Trump on the billionaire’s own head. Casual observers of “The Donald,” during his frequent appearances around the country had voiced their suspicions on the origins of Trump’s “hair” for some time. Until now, no one had come up with the “smoking flat iron.” Now the story has come out.  Unfortunately, for legal reasons, a side-by-side photo comparison of Barbie and Donald to verify the Binnick investigation cannot be included with this special April 1st post.

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New Blog Schedule Coming

Just in case you are paying attention, I am moving from a new post every five days to a once a week schedule.  The NEXT post HERE will come on Wednesday, April 1 and each Wednesday thereafter.

Since I have two blogs, this will afford me more time for quality content while providing more time for working on my novel and other writing projects.   As always, your comments are most welcome as are subscriptions.

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Time–It’s All in Our Minds

It’s always refreshing when people confirm what we think we know. Time is relative–just ask Albert Einstein. But I’m not talking about his theories. I’m talking about what our minds do with time. Doesn’t it always seem to take longer getting somewhere, especially when you’re running late, than it does going home? Time is, of course, what the clocks we live with say it is. But we don’t just live with clocks, we live with memories and perceptions. Waiting in an airport or a doctor’s office can take forever. The birthday bliss or other times of exceeding joy in bedrooms  are over in no time at all. Claudia, rather than Clarissa, explains it all in her book, Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception. The reviews, as you will see in this link to Goodreads, are quite good. You can find the book at the usual online sources. It also may be available at a public library near you. Maria Popova, in turn, has an excellent explication of Claudia Hammond’s book on her own site, BrainpickingsContinue reading Time–It’s All in Our Minds

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Top Federal Agencies for Partiers

Did that get your attention? A whole host of websites annually rank the top party schools. That may be a plus for some or a minor for others on choosing a college. I tried surfing a variety of terms to find a similar ranking for government agencies to work for, but to no surprise didn’t find one. With the news coverage of embarrassing Secret Service scandals, one could be excused for thinking that the agency might rank in the top ten–if not number one. If the Department of Agriculture were on top of such a list (no offense to the workers there, this is just a hypothetical) would it be newsworthy? Doubtful.

Incompetence is bad enough–the Kardashian style wannabes, the Salahis,  who managed to attend a White House dinner without proper credentials; people scaling the fence and actually getting way inside the White House itself; a bullet(s) hitting a window (bullet proof, but still); the drone on the grounds and the list goes one. But worse is the sex and the booze. Agents hiring prostitutes in Cartagena. Passing out drunk in hotel corridors. Crashing into a fence at the White House in an official vehicle.  So yes, there seems that an oft heard phrase among agents might be, “Let’s party!”

But as we all know, or should know, scandal is way more “newsworthy” than humdrum events. So maybe the news media unfairly tars the agency. Successful protection of presidents does get coverage. But even there, the central mission of the agency has been far from perfect. How successful are security agencies in protecting leaders around the world compared to America? I don’t know. Perhaps given the number of public appearances the agency does a fantastic job. Undoubtedly having the mission to take a bullet for someone and do a good job at preventing the bullet from ever being fired is a stressful job. But so is being an air traffic controller. Are there news reports out about a culture of sex and boozing among their employees? No, I don’t think so.

While living in a Virginia suburb home to employees for various federal agencies, particularly law enforcement ones, several inquiries came from investigators every year updating the security clearances of current or prospective employees. There were, at one time or another Secret Service agents both uniformed and plain clothes living on my block. They had families with children; none were hard partiers (the investigators always asked that, along with any disturbances–loud music, fights, etc. and about their loyalty to the United States). So I have no personal knowledge of bad behavior. But then, whether married or single, one might conclude that the activity reported on might not be something happening in the backyard or front porch of suburban homes either. More likely it comes as frat boy peer influenced conduct while out of town. How really rotten is the core of this agency apple? As bad, not as bad or worse than what news reports lead one to conclude? The tip of the iceberg or not, the fact is that the events reported happened. The fact is that they keep happening.

There shouldn’t be a report on the top Federal agencies for partying. If there were, the Secret Service shouldn’t be near the top of that list. Surely there are individuals who are not prone to such behavior; they need to step up to the task of changing the culture. More importantly, the supervisors who fail to discipline or properly evaluate such behavior need to go. It is difficult to get rid of Federal employees, but It needs to happen. And it needs to happen now, not later, before things get worse and a president or a member of his or her family dies as a result.

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Frankl versus Liddy; Dueling Book Reviews

Man's Search for Meaning book cover
Will, by G. Gordon Liddy, book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

This came to me the other day, from where I don’t know, to review two books in the same post for purposes of contrast. One is Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning (1946; 10 million copies sold) and the other is Will, G. Gordon Liddy’s autobiography (1980; 1 million copies sold).  I read Frankl’s book while in college in the 70s. I read Will in  2002, in preparation for writing my own book, Waiting for Westmoreland. Continue reading Frankl versus Liddy; Dueling Book Reviews

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A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Words–Sometimes

A day late on this. Searching for inspiration. Got it. It all started, I think, with the ridiculous hyperbolic aggrandizement of calling comic books “graphic novels.” If the art were removed, the word content might equal what–microfiction? At the highest page count a very short story? Do the images really amount to 1,000 words each? If they did, would the total amount to a novel of 100,000 words? Then it spread to websites. Now, every news site has increasingly more images.

Here are two examples, both from March 9, 2015. One is CNN and the other MSNBC. To be fair, I captured a smaller part of MSNBC’s home page but that’s because their images are SO  much larger. I leave it to you to form your own opinion of which is better. Continue reading A Picture Is Worth a 1,000 Words–Sometimes

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Lower Pump Prices Can Cause Foolish Vehicle Purchases

Tundra

The price at the American gas pump is creeping back up, but it’s still at least a dollar a gallon below last year. That’s $15-20 a fillup of regular. Savings add up quickly. Still, over the course of a year of driving say, 15,000 miles it is not an enormous sum–depending on the vehicle being fueled. Let’s say it’s a (relatively) fuel-efficient car that gets 25 miles per gallon. That’s 600 gallons or $600 in savings. So what happens when the gasoline cost drops? People rush out to buy that pickup they really wanted but were avoiding when pump prices went up. So now they get 15 miles per gallon. That’s 1,000 gallons. So let’s say the price at the pump is now $2.50. With the pickup, the driver spends $2,500 on gas; with the car he or she spends $1,500. So instead of saving money, the driver spends $1,000 more! What happens when the fuel costs rise back up further, which we all know they will? That’s right, the driver is further behind.  How many years will the driver own the pickup? Well, if the gas cost goes WAY up, they will sell it sooner. But when they do, they will lose out there too, because of depreciation on the truck. Consumer psychology is a strange and marvelous thing, if you are a manufacturer or dealer; not so much if you are a reflexive buyer. Many people are now keeping vehicles for 8-10 years or even more. Buying and keeping more fuel efficient vehicles really makes a difference over that time span! Yes, there are reasons why you might need a pickup. Living in rural or semi-rural environment it may be essential. Ditto for hauling stuff. But no one really needs a high performance vehicle for street use.

Bill the Bombastic–Is There a Cure for What Ailes Him?

So it has come to pass lo these many years after becoming King of Fox News, AKA False News, Bill the Bombastic has been brought low, to the brink of ignominious defeat by a guttersnipe son of the Mother Jones. What will become of him? Will Roger the Dodger be able to cure what Ailes Bill? Will there come a rescue or reprieve from Saint Rupert of Murdoch, the patriarch of the unfair and unbalanced network? Only his brother in bluster Rush matches Bill’s zeal lambasting lefties and delighting the right. All is true, he says, everything he has ever said during his entire repertorial career. Yet his words on tape, his memories in print in his own books defy reality and the truths of others present when his stories unfold. The Bombastic never set foot in a combat zone in the Falklands; he covered the affair from 1,200 miles away in Buenos Aires. He never saw nuns being killed, except possibly by viewing video coverage later; he arrived a year after the killings. He couldn’t have been outside the door when George de Mohrenschildt, JFK killer Harvey Oswald’s friend, shot himself to death in Florida; Bill was in Dallas at the time. Bill takes nothing back; it’s just the way he told the stories of the events, just the way he wrote it in his book about Kennedy’s death. Neither Roger nor Rupert can help him now, he is on his own. One who skewers  by the word is skewered by the word–his own word.

I have been trying to reduce the political posts here, but this one was too sweet to pass by.  Here is the back story: Once we write down or record our recollections, they become our memories as they are recorded. At one time, they may have been different–not necessarily more accurate, but possibly. The act of compiling and editing them itself alters them, rearranges and replaces the original. So, without excusing Bill, despite what I have just explained, here is the stylized version of current affairs, influenced perhaps just a little by the wizard’s opening narration to Conan the Barbarian. From my political perspective, of course.

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