Oh damn it, is it time for an unscheduled trainwreck? YES

I should remember that because I have a reputation for humor and sarcasm, I need to start some entries with “I’m totally not joking” and possibly even end on it. The problem with this theory is, I’d inevitably corrupt the sentence and strip it of meaning by using it around a sarcastic post.

Never mind, the point it, I’m really, really just about done here. I’m coming up on the end of my contract with my ISP, but I’ll pay for the storage for another year, and I’ll re-up the domain name. But I’m going to wander away from the online world from now on and go back to talking to myself. And, if I’m being honest, I think y’all have just about convinced me to give up writing for good. Special thanks go out to Jerrod Balzer, Michele Lee, and Gef Fox for pushing me to consider quitting more seriously.

Five years I been at this, and my wrists are sore. I’ve worked long into every night. I JUST bought Dragon Naturally Speaking, not for the voice recognition, but for the text to speech editor, so I could fix more typos. And for a while, y’all won’t notice that I’m done if all you look at is releases. That’s because I’m dropping stuff I’ve already written, after editing it so it doesn’t read like shit. I’m going to try to finish Ginger’s story, and Peter’s. I’m going to try and write another few books for myself. But I don’t guess there’s much point to writing more Mystical World Wars books if everyone is going to keep asking me “Where’s the good guys?” I told you, I DON’T DO heroes. I don’t believe in them, and that’s not how I write. And yet every time I turn around, my books and characters are judged based on a checklist of what heroes should do.

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I’ve been having issues…

…as outlined in previous posts, but my latest efforts to phone Microsoft’s local tech support via their 800 number still got nothing. So I got on Twitter and asked @XboxSupport if there was some way that I could just email a report to the staff and hope for the best in the next update. @XboxSupport sent me a link to a chat support, and during last night, I found out that one of my problems could not be resolved due to a setting that was way, way outside the tech’s power to change. The chat ended with us both smiling, and I filled out my survey with positive input. I really wished I’d save that chat with Gina too, but I didn’t think about it until after closing the window.

Today, I realized I’d lost the ability to play videos through the Xbox Zune player after the update, and this WAS SO NOT COOL. So I got back onto chat support, this time getting in contact with Darragh in Ireland. What followed was a tech support chat that starts testy on my part and veers into an interview and a book sale, with me selling two copies of Peter the Wolf, one print copy to the tech, and the other a Kindle copy to the higher level tech “listening” in to our chat. The conversation got so twisted that near the end I asked for permission to do a copy-pasta of our tech chat. It’s too good not to share.

If you don’t notice it among the jargon and topics shifts, Darragh does fix the problem I came to him with, and then addresses another problem I’m having. So despite me having spent two DAYS talking to Microsoft tech support, I’m actually in a great mood. Apple, you only WISH you had customer service this awesome. (Amazon…just, no.)

So, without further ado, the TL;DR tech chat with all our typos and foul language unedited. (Sensitive readers are advised to avoid this whole thing or to cover their eyes with one hand, but peek through their fingers):

You are now chatting with ‘Darragh’.
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Last review I’ll ever post…

So, here’s a two star review for Peter, by yet another reader who somehow expected Clark Kent morality from my writing. The final line about the reader wishing for a “more age appropriate relationship” stung almost as much as their complete misinterpretation of Peter, Alice, both sets of parents, and the purpose of the story itself. Which makes this review really hard to take because Peter’s book wasn’t judged by the writing, which the reviewer said was good. Peter was judged on the reader’s preconceived notions about how abuse victims should behave. So it wasn’t my book that was unrealistic. It was the reader’s expectations. Doesn’t matter. I lose, here’s two stars, and fuck Peter, again.

I’m not thanking Gef for this review. I feel gutted and defeated. I can’t get you people to talk about abuse and bullying using non-fiction in my blog posts, and based on most of the reactions to my writing, I don’t think I’ll generate any conversation with my fiction either. So “thanks” to Gef, I’m serious contemplating giving up altogether.

Fuck it. I’m not giving books away for Christmas. I’m not promoting anything. I’m not talking about other issues. I’m just walking away. Fuck it. Maybe I’ll come back someday, when I feel like wanting to be misunderstood again.

I’m muddled on the March for Muff…

I got this next story from another writer on Twitter, N. K. Jemisin, about a protest against unneeded vaginal surgery. I want to point out first that what I’m about to talk about has nothing to do with Nora or her views on this topic, only with my interpretation of the article and its presentation of the topic. I also want to make clear that Muff March may have a more complex message that I’m not getting, and this could be a problem with bad reporting. If this is bad reporting, and I can find a better presentation of the message, or if someone can link me to one, I will update this topic.

The Muff March protest sounds good on the surface, being opposed to unneeded genital procedures, but the problem is the tone of the article doesn’t make this issue clear, as in which procedures are being done for the “wrong” reasons, and it goes into some uses of sexism and fear mongering in its presentation. The article uses language meant to cast all surgeries in a bad light like: (emphasis mine)

“At its most modest, the Muff March is against the pornography-influenced obsession with removing pubic hair. But it’s also about protesting against the sort of surgery that makes you cross your legs.”

And:

“In the US this industry is worth $6.8m (£4.4m). In the UK the latest figures come from a 2009 report in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. It revealed that in 2008 the number of operations increased by 70% compared with the previous year: 1,118 labiaplasty operations on the NHS. (There were 669 in 2007 and 404 in 2006.) And that’s just the NHS. The Harley Medical Group reported over 5,000 inquiries about cosmetic gynaecology last year, 65% for labial reduction.”

Oh, my god, it’s an epidemic of insane pussy tightening! Grab your genitals in fear of scalpels! The porn industry wants you to shave your genitals! The filth! The fear! (O_0)

The fuck?

Note how the statistics are trumpeted to declare how many labiaplasty operations there were, and how many more were done this year than the last, but doesn’t say how many were medically necessary and how many were for soothing minor vanity issues. It doesn’t say how many were transsexual women going in for their second stage labiaplasty, or how many were women coming in after having their vaginas cut during a birthing, and now need cosmetic corrections to reduce scarring. (Because scars lack enough nerve endings for proper tactile sensation and may hinder sexual function.) There is no assumption that some of these are for the right reasons. The assumption is made that most aren’t needed, and therefore this epidemic must be protested.

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The ultimate in adult hypocrisy…

Let me set the scene for you before I give you the link. Imagine your child’s school announces a “Stand Up to Bullying” day, and they encouraged all kids to wear a pink shirt for the day. Imagine your kid signs up for a pink shirt, and on the day of the event, he gets bullied for wearing pink by ALL the kids.

So, what would you imagine is the response of the adults who organized this event? Did you pick “be hypocrites and let the person who took a stand be bullied without standing up for them”? Because that’s the correct answer: the adults who organized this event DID NOTHING to stop bullying. They set this event up—I guess to give the bullies new targets for the rest of the year—and they let it happen.

I am not the least bit surprised. With only a few exceptions, I’ve found most Texas teachers to be lazy about their job, apathetic in dealing with student problems, and in many cases unapologetically prejudiced. (I had a guidance counselor show me her gun and tell me she wasn’t afraid to shoot niggers.) So when a story comes along that says “Teachers did nothing to stop bullies,” I consider it par for the course for a group of people who think they’re the most important resource in the world, but won’t admit they’re doing a fucking lousy job.

But the blame shouldn’t all go on them. Peoples, even when you try to fake concern for the children, you can’t back it up with a convincing performance for so much as one fucking day. I swear, I write down something mean and bitter about you folks one day, and the next day, I get up and think “Maybe I was a little harsh.” Then I see a news story that reminds me; I’m not harsh. You’re just hypocrites. There’s no real concern or morality in most of you. (Doubly true for you church people. You have false morality, which is even worse than no morality.) I have a hard time believing half of you have ever spoken to your conscience for more than five minutes. Because if you did, the words “I don’t owe those people nothing” would never come out of your mouths, or spring from your fingers to attack an unsuspecting keyboard with your shallow thoughts.

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So…what is it I’m supposed to be doing?

This is going to be a depressed post. I’m sorry for that, and if you wanted to read something positive, I posted one good story for you today. Just scroll down two posts.

I’m not sure if it’s the weather or just a number of glitches and arbitrary decisions that have left me feeling helpless and defeated with most of my problems. Y’all already know about the problem I had with Smashwords, and you should know how depressing it is for me to put my books up at Amazon and wait to see which ones they’ll decide to lose to a “glitch”. (Blood Relations is a given, but there may be others.) There’s also been news that they’re going to stop making CDs in 2012, and here in Italy we’re still not allowed to have digital music downloads or video streaming from the US or the UK. So my access to new legal music is in jeopardy. Today, I decided to download the new Xbox update, and my machine and games will only run in Italian now. Microsoft Xbox support on Twitter tried to help me out with no success, and the tech support number they gave isn’t working. Even if it was working, I suspect my game box has just been taken offline for at least 2-3 months due to it speaking the wrong language at me.

So, short recap, all of my hobbies, the things meant to take my mind off my issues, are now being hindered or threatened by problems that are all completely out of my control. I can’t undo the update, so I can’t game until Microsoft sorts out what’s wrong. My writing hobby is a fucking joke thanks to the constant “help” of my vendors, and sometime next year, the music companies will force me to begin constant piracy of music instead of letting me support the artists legally. It’s the most ludicrous idea ever, that I will be forced to steal from these people because they flat out refuse to open any legal digital markets to me. I was getting around that by buying CDs, and now they’ve decided “No, we don’t even like having your money that way!” It’s like living in Bizarro World, where not selling to people equals huge profits.

It’s more than just these first world issues depressing me, but all of these problem share the same theme. I have to contact people and say “Hey, this isn’t going to be helpful or fair for me. Can’t you please reconsider or at least offer a workaround for someone like me?” And for my troubles, I get back a reply like: “Thank you (client name) for your interest in us and/or our product. Unfortunately, you’re not good enough to deserve our concern. If you have other problems that you’d like us to give you the same automated answer on, feel free to try again.” And unlike Regretsy, no one is going to go to bat for me with iTunes, PayPal, Amazon, Smashwords…pretty much every online company I have to deal with where I’ve dared to need actual customer service instead of rude condescension.

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Another suicide victim…

This is going to be a shorter post. First, here is the link to a story about a former victim of sexual abuse who committed suicide, but not before tweeting 144 times talking about her depression and her choice to take her life. No one reached out to her during this flood. She screamed into the void long and hard looking for someone to rescue her, and everyone was too busy tweeting about comic books and the latest TV shows.

People are losing their empathy in the physical world too, but here in the online world, I’m frequently left shaken to my core by how little people care. Lots of people will say they do. They will toss around the word love easily, claiming things like “Oh, that’s why I love you! Cause you’re so fun!” But there’s no love here, no real emotion or connection at all.

Stories like this trouble me because I think about my past, when I had not Internet, and when the only thing that stopped me from suicide was an encyclopedia entry on transsexualism that confirmed that I wasn’t crazy, even if I couldn’t find anyone else like me. I had no allies in Texas, no support net. I had no allies in my family, and while my parents neglected me, my brother attacked me and convinced bullies to beat me for him in staged ambushes. I survived all of that based on the strength of two paragraphs that confirmed I wasn’t alone. Somewhere out there was someone else like me.

And now on the internet, I’m connect to thousand of people, and yet, I’ve never felt more isolated in my whole life. So I get how these teens feel, when they’ve got 500 followers, but no one is talking. I have an inner strength that keep me alive, even on my most depressed days when I talking out load to myself and asking, “why don’t I just walk out the window?”

And really, why don’t I? I’ll die, and people will spend one day wondering why I “just gave up”. Then they’ll go back to talking about themselves. After I die, my book store will probably close, and there will be no one interested in maintaining the library of titles, or in promoting my name. So my writing can be erased the day after my death, and all of the abuse and experiences that people claim they want to learn from will slip into the void with people intentionally ignoring me on the way out.

And, thinking like this may not be healthy, but it’s a side effect of going online and talking all day to a full room, only to have one person respond to you. And then, they only showed up to say “You’re way too negative. Why don’t you just go away until you can improve your tone?”

Which is actually one more reply than this girl got. Society keeps failing victims of abuse in this way. Not because we didn’t reach out for help. But because you people don’t ever listen.

11th Ciruit decision could negate the need for ENDA…

Today I’m not in a great mood, but instead of dumping that here or the next post. I’m going to do a couple short posts and then ramble, to keep my words in separate piles. So first, I want to highlight this decision by the 11th Circuit Court that found that gender discrimination counts as sex discrimination. This case is noteworthy because all three justices concurred on this point, including William H. Pryor. Quoting the article:

Pryor’s nomination to the bench was opposed by LGBT groups, who noted that he had filed an amicus brief supporting sodomy laws in Lawrence v. Texas. He also cast the deciding vote to oppose hearing a challenge to Florida’s law that banned gay people from adopting.

So this is someone who is very conservative finding that indeed, the existing laws on sex discrimination should already protect us, but has not because companies claimed it’s not the same thing to discriminate against trans workers as it is to discriminate a cisgendered employee. Well the judges don’t agree, even the judge who doesn’t like us. So that’s a victory with huge impact all over the country already.

At this point, however, there is a high chance that this will go to the last appeal, the Supreme Court. But, based on Pryor’s decision to concur, I feel optimistic that current sex discrimination laws could be found adequate gender protection. So we can use that federal precedent to start knocking some kuckleheads into complying with the law. With a legal precedent like this, the need for ENDA would be made obsolete.

This is another wait and see case, much like the Mayo patent suit I reported on a few posts back, but as the rest of my news today is grim, I want to bring this to your attention first and say “But it’s not all bad.”

No sale, but there will be freebies…

Well, it’s now official: there won’t be a holiday sale after all. To accomplish what I wanted, Smashwords wants me to generate one coupon code per book. There is no option for me to make up a coupon code that is relevant to my sale, only a random character generator that I must use for every title, and then keep a huge list of coupon codes straight during only a few weeks of promotion. This would end up confusing customers and sending them away, and this is why I wrote to Smashwords to ask for help. First of all, they didn’t answer me for a week, and when they did, they told me that they can’t make coupon codes for my books. Then they ended their letter ruining my plans with ;). I’m not sure if they realized how flippant that came across as, but I was so mad that I had to point out that it was that smiley at the end that convinced me to never write for tech support again.

Please note that Smashwords CAN make coupon codes for site-wide sales, and that those coupon codes are not random letters. A 25% Summer Sale code for this year’s sale used SSW025. (The code expired, but will likely be used next Summer too.) Very straightforward, easy to remember, and what’s more, easy to tell how much the discount is good for. So it would be GREAT if I could have had them generate a code like HO099 for my sale. Instead, I would have given you a list of 32 codes like C0XUP, MY4S5, RH4RD, 0MGN0, WA1W4T, W41D0, UH8M3, SM5HWRD5, UDU05H3, and whatnot.

My liaison also added insult to injury by claiming that Smashwords had plans to “fix that soon.” Mark Coker said the same thing about problems I had with the site in 2009. Those problems are still there, including the one Mark claims they fixed, the limited book blurb size. (Every other vendor will give you 4,000 characters to write a blurb. Smashwords added an “extended blurb” to their site design, but the one they send to other vendors is still the 400 character version.) When I complained in 2010 that they were still no where closer to fixing those problems, Mark said I wasn’t cutting them enough slack cause they’re just a little company. But he assured me again, they really had plans to update the site to address my problems. One year later when my liaison makes the same claim, I’m at my limits for suspension of disbelief because nothing Mark claimed would be fixed ever was. I wouldn’t rightly call it lying. The company just doesn’t have a history of delivering anything they’ve claimed was “coming soon.” Two years later is not soon by any reasonable definition of time, and in any case, I don’t believe these problems will be fixed in 2013 either.

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The uglier side of Occupy…

I’ve talked before about how I was happy to see people rising up in protest against corporate corruption with the Occupy movements, and I’m still in full support of the anti-corruption spirit behind the movement. However, as time has gone by, I’ve been reading the blogs of people who aren’t so enamored with the name Occupy serving as the slogan for the entire protest. There’s some other problems lurking within the movement as well, and so today I’d like to talk about some of these problems. I want to stress, I’m not saying, “I can’t support this movement because…” I’m bringing these issues to your attention to make you aware that even a movement created with good intentions can become hindered by poor decision making. I’m bringing this up so we can fix this together, not so I can walk off in a huffing tizzy. Huffing tizzies come next month.

First of all let’s talk about Occupy. When the idea was just Occupy Wall Street, the word Occupy didn’t seem so bad. But as the first phase of the protests close and people shift to other tactics, the name Occupy remains as the apparent goal of the protestors. Occupy what? Well, that changes with each group and location. People might occupy political rallies, or libraries, or foreclosed homes. But the idea is to keep the protest alive by occupying someplace.

Which, again, doesn’t seem so bad on the surface. It’s sums up the majority of the movement’s tactics, right? Except the word Occupy ignores that most of the Occupiers are white, and as such are descendants of people who occupied America and stole the land from the indigenous people. The natural defense from most people is, “You can’t blame me for that, and I’m just trying to defend what’s mine.” Problem with that logic is, you don’t really own what you’re occupying. You also don’t have a legal leg to stand on, but you were silent when these decisions were made.

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