Sunday, January 30, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Government Funding for NPR

Since the very earliest times governments have sponsored the arts. I am greatly in favor of this, the small amount of money that the government spends to support the arts is more than made up for by what the arts inspire out of the people. So with that attitude you would think that I'd be all in favor for funding of the National Public Radio, but I'm not.

Don't get me wrong I love NPR, they report on a lot of things the corporate owned media can't. But they are severely limited because they receive 1.5% of their budget from the government (Not even directly but through “The Corporation for Public Broadcasting). In any other company a 1.5% stake means shut up, you have no say in how we run things.

With NPR it means that they have 535 people thinking that they are the boss of NPR.

If a Republican wants to appeal to their base they just mention how they are shock at how NPR appeals to the “Reality Based Community” as Bush used to call the liberals.

If NPR lost the government funding it would would barely hit their bottom line and I would put my money where my mouth is and donate a couple bucks to make up the difference. I'm sure a lot of others in the reality based community would do the same, freeing NPR from the people who want to kill it.

The result would be that NPR would change its name to Non-Profit Radio and they could do whatever the hell their listeners want. This would make them a better radio station and they would get more listeners that are sick of the corporate media.

So to all the fans of NPR that want congress to continue funding the Corporation for Public Broadcasting's 1.5% share in NPR, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, the federal government is the anchor around NPR's neck. Getting rid of it would make the NPR stronger."

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

First Paragraphs

Ex-Super Agent (Literary, not a combo of Jason Bourne and James Bond) Nathan Bransford is holding a sort of annual contest were he judges writers first paragraphs. I entered because it is a 1 in 1,078 chance to win. That's good odds in the publishing world.

I picked between the opening paragraphs of six of my books. If I can get the poll function to work I'll test to see if I picked the right one. Tell me which of these opening paragraphs you think is strongest.

The poll box is in the top left corner.
<------------- Right here.

1) Project Spare-Rib:

The letter smelled green, always a good sign. Tom looked to see if any of the remaining letters smelled a passionate red, but disappointingly only the stale gray of passionless corporate correspondence. He loved getting letters, even though most people he knew preferred to communicate through email, there was something more real about holding an actual letter in his hands when reading something as opposed to just having words flash up on the screen.

2) The Setting Earth:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference,” Sam thought as his left hand gripped the small pistol in his pocket aimed at his lover. He forced himself to look at his right hand, his thumb poised over the button that would decide the fate of all humanity. Both fates would bring an end to civilization as he knew it. One fate would destroy all human poverty and suffering along with the struggles and redemptions that all humans must go through, the other would destroy all human life. He didn’t know if his action, or inaction, would bring on which fate.

3) The Pizza Diaries:

Brian was a little taken back by the note that the customer handed him. The customer was female but he couldn’t make out much else as she was wearing a wide brimmed leather hat pulled down to almost touch her dark sunglasses. She was several inches shorter than Brian so the hat hid her face from his view. She had the collar of her heavy leather jacket pulled up hiding her jaw. Brian thought that odd, as it was a warm summer night. But she had given him a dollar tip just for handing the pizza to her so he opened her note gladly.

4) Mind Thief:

Howie walked into his family shrink’s lobby and couldn’t help notice the redhead who was sitting on one of the couches reading a magazine. To say she was a knockout was an understatement. She had large breasts, at least double Ds, and the top she was wearing showed them off nicely. But what really stunned him were her gorgeous brown eyes, there was something about them that expressed that she was intelligent and able to size people up in an instant but at the same time playful.

5) Ask Not:

Bill Stickers heard the invasion siren go off and automatically looked for the nearest shelter as he had been trained to do since elementary school. All around him people were panicking and running in random directions hoping to find a shelter. He saw most of the crowd had noticed the large shelter sign in front of the maglev station. Turning around he saw a small shelter sign on the community theater and calmly strolled towards it. To confirm his idea that this was just a drill like the last 700 times he had heard the siren go off, he looked at the nearest countdown clock. TIME TO ALIEN INVASION: 10 Years, 3 Months, 14 Days. Plenty of time to stroll the two blocks to the shelter.

6) Earth Strike:

Sam looked up as the orderlies opened the door to his hospital room. He looked them over carefully and determined that they were real people. He took a deep breath before asking, “When is this?”

The lead orderly gave him a knowing smile, “It’s 2011. You’re in the beginning of the twenty-first century.”

“Oh, pity.” Sam sighed, “I like the mid-twenty-second so much better.”

“I’m sure you do.” The orderly humored him.

(Technically that's 4 paragraphs but it is one train of thought.)

It will be interesting to see if people think I picked the right one.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Monday, January 24, 2011

How much of a prick can the Main Character be?

I've been writing a YA/Sci-Fi thriller for a while, a long while. I knocked out the first 35,000 words in less than a month, back in July of 2010. Six months later I'm at the 45,000 word mark. Two things have been dragging me down.

First I'm really liking my characters and I've got to have them be really, really mean and hurt each other really bad. That way they show their true emotions to each other. It's something I'm dreading but I can plow through it knowing that it will get better after.

Second, In order to have my main character be realistic, I'm drawing from my experience in college. I've learned a bit about myself; I was a total prick. Sometimes adding bad character traits helps a character be more likable. In THE PIZZA DIARIES I started only having Brain have a good characteristic of mine, being totally unfazed by weird stuff going on around him. That was good but made him a little boring. I added a not so good characteristic of mine and that is drawing a line in my head as to exactly how far I will go, but not sharing that until the line is crossed then being stubborn as a mule about it. I can see now why some people think I have mood swings, but also why people like me.

With my main character in this novel the main character is sort of a dick to this one girl and although he apologizes to her he isn't in the least bit regretful. Throughout the book he is interesting and likable enough, but when it comes to how he acts with her he is pretty despicable.

So I was wondering what everyone thinks, if you're reading a novel and the main character has a really bad side to him, even though he's likable enough the rest of the time would that turn you off from the book? And how bad would a character have to act in one situation to turn you off from his being likable in the rest of the novel?

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Jesus is my co-pilot stickers

The absolute stupidest argument that Fundamentalist love to make is that the belief in science is the same as the belief in god. If they want to make this argument it's easy to shoot down, go to a city you've never been to and see who is a better co-pilot a GPS or Jesus.

I'm guessing the science based GPS will give you better directions than faith based directions. Yes I recently had someone with a “Jesus is my co-pilot” bumpersticker ask me directions and it was hard to keep from laughing.

So to everyone with those, “Jesus is my co-pilot” sticker on their car, I say, “Shut-up Stupid and get a GPS. It will give you better directions and won't tell you the shortest route is over a lake.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Are these Eyeballs? A Review

Are These Eyeballs?
by Garry Charles

Price: Free
Length: 7045 words
Formating Quality: Poor
Spelling and Grammar: Spelling was hurt as the author is British, and as Bernard Shaw commented the English can't speak (or write) English. A few grammatical errors brought the reader out of the story.

It was the best of eBooks, it was the worst of eBooks. ARE THESE EYEBALLS? Is a great example of what both fans of eBooks and critics of eBooks like to point to when talking about eBooks.

What fans can point to.

The two short stories in this book, ARE THESE EYEBALLS? And THE CUBICLE, have a raw passion and excellent imagery that often get washed out in the editorial process. In both short stories you can really feel the passion that the author has for the scenes he is writing and that makes up for the shortcomings.

What critics can point to.

First off the formating is all over the place. Some paragraphs are single line some are double, some paragraphs start with a tab others separated by a line, some have both. If the writing wasn't as good as it was I wouldn't have been able to get through it because of the formating.

Second, it is written in British English. So center becomes centre and so forth. If these stories were in a magazine or anthology the publisher would hire someone to translate it from British to English. This isn't a huge problem, getting a few pages in the story overpowers this and it is hardly noticeable. Still until the British learn to speak and write in English this is going to be a problem of eBooks going global.

Grammatical errors, I'm not that picky about grammar unless it pulls me out of the story. There were a couple places, two I think, where the author switched from present to past tense in the same sentence. This always brings my reading to an abrupt halt. It's also something any good copy editor spots.

I'm glad I read this eBook, the voice and passion for telling the story outweigh the formating and language problems. Garry Charles obviously has talent for writing great gruesome imagery. If he had taken the extra time to do a really good job at formating this book it would be a must read.

A final note:
I looked at the sample of one of his books he has for sale, as opposed to free, HAMMERHEAD and it didn't have the formating problems that this free one had.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Writing Wednesday: On Editing and Critiquing

I've spent a great part of last year editing and critiquing both my own work and other peoples work. People seem to like my critiques of their work so I must be doing something right. I have just three rules set in stone when it comes to Editing and Critiquing everything else just comes off these three rules.

Rule #1: The story is the most important thing!
Rule #2: The story is the most important thing!
Rule #3: If in doubt refer to #1 and #2.

As far as everything else a writer needs to focus on those are secondary, the most important thing that a writer and editor must focus on is the story.

Making a great character.
Having powerful, interesting characters is great, unless it pulls the reader out of the story in which case the character needs to be written in to the story in smaller pieces that doesn't pull the reader out of the story.

Showing vs. Telling.
Arthur C. Clarke could tell a great story, he couldn't show it but he could tell it. On the other hand I read someone's short story the other day where she lovingly showed everything that was going on. Every scene was shown as if the reader was an invisible person following the main character around the house. Two-Thirds of the way through the story she wrote, “When the clock said 11:45...” It was just one sentence in the entire story that was telling rather than showing. In any other story it would go unnoticed as most writers do a little of both telling and showing, in this case as it was the only time the writer told something as opposed to showing it, it pulled the reader out of the story.

Excessive adjectives/adverbs.
A lot of agents and editors say you should use adjectives and adverbs as little as possible, I'm a little different, I feel if a writer uses a lot of adjectives and adverbs it can give the reader a greater sense of the scene, but only if they are the right ones. The wrong ones can bring the story to a screeching halt, as the reader is wondering how it can be fragrantly cold. So when editing look over your words and use Rule #3, if in doubt refer to Rule #1 and #2, if something can cause confusion and take the reader out of the story get rid of it.

Conflicts, Story Arcs, Comedy vs. Tragedy, and everything I learned as an English Major.
Can a story be interesting with no conflict, no story arc, and not fit into the classical comedy or tragedy definition? Absolutely, a great story can be written around an interesting idea, it can be someone's unique look at the world around them, it can just be someone's passionate description of something surreal. Obviously it can't hurt to know about the classical elements of storytelling, but if you try and force them on a story where it doesn't work, you will take the reader out of the story.

So when editing your own writing or someone else's work, always remember that the story is the most important thing.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Monday, January 17, 2011

500th Post and an Evil Scheme

First I'd like to thank everyone who has read this blog and my last 499 hit or miss posts. What I like about having this blog is I can look back and see my evolution as a writer.

So as a writer, I have come up with an Evil Scheme. I've almost got my free ebook ready to post on Smashwords and Kindle, so I thought I'd look at other free ebooks and review them, generating interest in free ebooks. The second phase in my Evil Scheme is to release my free ebook and then the fourth phase is to rule the world. I'm thinking something is missing in this plan but I'm not sure what.

Here is my first ebooks review. This review will be a little different than a “Traditional” book review as it will address several things that critics have said about self-published ebooks in general.

H.D. Timmons

Price: Free
Length: 1107 words (This is obviously a short story not a book)
Ebook Description: For anyone who has felt they were vanishing from existence.
Formating Quality: Very Good.
Spelling and Grammar: I saw no glaring problems that would take me out of the story.

Stages of Invisibility is a quick short story told in the first person about a man who is being ignored by everyone around him and draws the obvious conclusion, that he is slowly turning invisible. The idea is not unique and luckily Timmons doesn't overdo the telling of that part of it and focuses on showing through examples how the man interacts with the other people in his life as he turns invisible.

It is a fun little story and at 1107 words obviously doesn't aim for any depth in the characters, moods, or settings. If you take it for what it is, a quick fun read, and aren't looking more it is very enjoyable.

The author H.D. Timmons says he has more works in progress. I look forward to seeing how he handles longer in-depth stories.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: The both sides accusation

In the call for more civil discussions, the people who have been filling the media with hate have been saying that “both sides do it.” First off that doesn't make it right and second it's hardly true.

It is true that you can point to individual cases of Democrats and Progressives saying things that an unstable mind could use as a cry for violence, but the Conservatives and Republicans have made it their platform. Whenever people get worked up over something they are going to say things they are going to regret, but when that happens they need to learn from it and not do it again. For examples of how this happens I looked at my own blog, with nearly 500 posts I knew I could find something.

Last Week:
In my last Shut-up Stupid Sunday, I put up a borderline illegal picture of Sarah Palin in the cross hairs of a gun sight with the saying, “Sarah says this doesn't promote violence.” While irresponsible I did have a reason. I know she reads a lot of blogs and I'm sure that image has made its way to her computer screen.

I had figured she would see that and what people are saying about her and use that to show a simple human emotion. She wouldn't need to admit any guilt or take any blame just state how she must have felt that someone might have used images she made, and it might have played in some small part of their decision to take a human life. It is something she must have felt and for at least a second any thoughts of monetary gain or meanness must have left her mind and she must have felt sorry if there was even a possibility that she contributed to the shooter selecting his target.

I was planning to point to that post and offer her some sympathy as I would genuinely feel horrible if someone used any of my posts to justify taking a humans life. Instead she doubled down on her crazy and said that she was the real victim of this tragedy and compared the media looking at her “Don't Retreat, Instead Reload” poster to the thousands of years of persecution of Eastern European Jews.

It's unbelievable I had such low expectations of Sarah Palin, and she let me down. Don't worry Sarah I think you've gone so far down the crazy road that even the 24 hour news channels will stop covering your facebook page and you won't have to worry about critics.

I also looked at other things I might have said. In December I had an article I wrote about how families on food stamps could use Cannibalism to help lower food costs, gained a lot of popularity. The article itself was so over the top in satire it can't be taken as a call for anything. However I was slightly irresponsible when I posted how that article came back to life and said, “If you are planning on using this method to feed your family I would suggest going to the high schools in the financial district to employ this method.”

Now I was joking when I wrote that, but if a serial killer were to eat a child of a banker or hedge fund manager I would feel sick about it. So I am stating here that I do not approve of eating the children of anyone, even if they have done you wrong.

The worst thing I have said on this blog was in a post dealing with the fact that 30 Republican Senators voted against allowing victims of rape who work for US Military Contractors overseas to sue in US courts, I wrote in the comments:

Both my senators are on that list. When I first read this story I was thinking of sending them a picture of their daughters (they both have daughters about that age) and asking if they were in favor of having them gang-raped, but that could be taken as a threat.

I truly regret having written that. As despicable as I find the Senators that voted against that bill I would not wish that on anyone in the world. So that is a case where I absolutely wish I could go back in time and advise myself against writing that.

In the political debate, people will say inappropriate things and I am not an exception. The big difference is when Progressives cross the line they can accept the fact that they did it and apologize. Olbermann, Maher, Cenk and just about ever other Progressive commentator has apologized for taking things too far on occasion. Very few conservatives have done the same, most have doubled down on their defense of saying hateful things that cross the line.

So to all those saying both sides are doing it, I say, “Shut-up Stupid. Not only is hateful speech almost the standard for those on the right where as it is the exception for those on the left. The voices on the left have expressed their remorse at slipping into the language of violence while the voices on the right are proud of it.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fantastic Future Friday: Mental Health

One undeniable fact of the Arizona tragedy is that the shooter was mentally ill. If he hadn't decided on a political assassination he might have targeted a school or a mall. I unfortunately know quite a few people who struggle with mental illnesses (not to the point that they are dangerous) so I have done a bit of research on this topic in the past.

What is a mental illness?

This question sounds stupid but it really isn't. A lot of the mental illnesses that make people anti-social are actually evolutionary hold overs from a time when anti-social behavior was a benefit to society. That sounds strange but when humans lived in small tribes of hunter/gatherers having an anti-social couple helped to ensure tribe survived, by casting those members out. When an anti-social couple left a tribe they would then have to create a new settlement and humans spread around the world. Naturally if every member of the new settlement was anti-social the society would break down, so for it to be beneficial anti-social thinking had to skip a generation or two so it is tied to many different genes that turn violent when combined. So there is a large genetic component to the mental illnesses that lead to anti-social behaviors.

What is the historical treatment of mental illness?

Crazy people have been around throughout history, when we were hunter/gatherers they were cast out. As the human population grew to the point that this wasn't an option they were locked up. In the 1800's Sigmund Freud developed a more clinical way of dealing with mental illness. Even though most of his ideas were wrong, in psych class I loved when his name popped up on a test as I knew the answer was he was wrong, the idea of talking to a person with a mental illness and finding ways for the person to cope in society has benefited many people.

After World War II we began looking at mental illnesses the same way we did physical illnesses. We started analyzing what physical reactions were taking place in the brain and developed “cures” for the chemical imbalances. This lead to the discovery of some promising drugs from 1950 to 1980. Unfortunately this approach stalled in the 1980s for a number of reasons. First, the chemical imbalances in the brain are only part of what makes a person mentally ill. Second, the amount of chemicals is small so getting the right balance takes years of experimentation to find what drugs work for the individual. Finally, as our medical system went from being a private low profit industry to a private for profit industry, research into drugs that help people that have a hard time keeping a job became the most unprofitable sector for drug makers. Most drug makers are getting out of researching drugs for mental illnesses.

For most people suffering from mental illnesses medical treatment for it is out of reach. The best method we have at this time for treating people with a mental illness is regular sessions of psychotherapy and medication. Naturally people who have trouble holding a job also have trouble paying a $100 or more for a therapy session and $600 to $1,000 a month for medication. So most turn to self medicating themselves with Valium or Marijuana, which for people that are Bi-Polar or Schizophrenic have a lot of the same benefits of the prescription drugs but make them a lot less productive.

What does the future bring?

Since this is Fantastic Future Friday talking about the future might be a good idea. New treatments for mental illnesses are currently stalled as we've gotten the about the point where we can't do much more to help with drugs and psychotherapy. For most people these treatments are like putting a bandaid on a gunshot wound, they help but not enough. To do more we have to examine the genetic component of anti-social mental illnesses. Genetic medicine is at its infancy and genetic research into mental illness is non-existent. Optimistically, Genetic therapy for mental illness will take at least 50 years of research. This amount of research is off the table in a for-profit model. Companies simply don't spend money on a product that they know won't pay for itself in less than a century.

If any thing good is to come out of the shooting in Arizona, we can use it to push for two things:

1)Increase access to mental health treatment.
2)The Government can start funding research into the genetic causes of mental illnesses, this third approach to treating people with mental illness won't show any results for at least half a century and will need another half century of refinement but when it is finally done it will mean that tragedies like Arizona, Columbine, Virginia Tech and a whole list of other events will be relic of our, and our children's, age but not something that our grandchildren will ever have to witness.

It is tough to make a plea for something that won't help the current generation and will take a hundred years to help society but in this case I believe it is worth it.

If we can do this then our grandchildren will live in a world free of random violence that is an evolutionary hold over from when we had a whole world to conquer, and that will give our grandkids a fantastic future.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Power of Words

Obviously as a writer, I am a believer in the power of words to move people's emotions, to persuade them in their thoughts, and touch their hearts. So I am absolutely sickened when someone retreats away from taking responsibility for their words.

The tragic attempted Political Assassination in Tuscon has left me sick. Watching the people that are using the violent imagery in the political process, denying that their words had anything to do with it makes me sicker.

As they try denying that calling for violence against their political opponents might lead a mentally unstable person to act in violence against the person they target, they say no one could have seen that coming. I guess they are calling me no one.

The odd thing about that post is I purposefully stayed away from some of the more disgusting things that the right wing has been saying that gets mentally unstable people to act violently. Like how Glenn Beck talked about Progressive Churches bringing are Socialism to America and should be taken out. He targeted a specific religion and only had to wait for an unhinged person to act on his words. On July 27, 2008 Jim Adkisson shot and killed two people in a Unitarian/Universalist Church, he said he wanted to kill all democrats in the House and Senate but it was too far of a drive. Glenn Beck said his calling my Religion a threat to America and the shooting couldn't possibly be related. Sick.

Bill O'Reilly on fox news referred over a hundred times to Dr. Tiller, a doctor that performs late term abortions rather than have the mother risk her life to deliver a stillborn, as Tiller the Baby Killer. On May 31, 2009 Scott P. Roeder shot and killed the doctor outside Dr. Tiller's church. Bill O'Reilly couldn't see where Roeder might have gotten the idea to do that. Sick.

The commentators at fox have been calling the ACLU and the Tides Foundations menaces to the country. On July 18, 2010 Byron Williams opened fire on police officers firing over 60 rounds. It was later revealed that he was on his way to the Tides Foundation to “start a revolution”. Fox news can't see how they can be blamed for that. Sick.

November 10, 2010—Public schools in Broward County, Florida, go into lockdown after an email threat is received by WFTL 850 AM. The email is sent to conservative radio host Joyce Kaufman in response to remarks she made at a Tea Party event in July ("If ballots don't work, bullets will"). The email expresses support for her view of the Second Amendment and says that to further "their cause...something big will happen at a government building in Broward County, maybe a post office maybe even a school." A phone call is then received at the station, allegedly from the emailer's wife, warning that he is preparing to go to a Pembroke Pines school and open fire. Sick.

Now a congresswoman and fourteen others are in the hospital and six people are dead, including a 9-year-old girl that was born on 9/11/01.

Words have power. They should not be used irresponsibly.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Tuesday Temper Tantrum: Rational Debate

I was talking to a friend about the violent rhetoric that led to the shooting of Rep. Gifford, she said we all must be civil and work towards compromise. I disagreed with part of her statement, that does not mean I think she is Hitler.

The part about civil discussion is totally right, the part about compromise is not 100% correct. In a civil debate there has to be a time when compromise is impossible. If you are talking to someone who believes that the Earth is flat, and you believe that it is round a compromise saying that it is a semi-sphere isn't going to allow you to navigate around the world.

That being said there is no reason you can't be civil about it. One of the nicest videos I've seen was of a bunch of Atheists toured the Creationist Museum. Obviously compromise is out of the question between these two groups. In today's era of overheated rhetoric you would expect these groups to yell and scream at each other, but instead they calmly listened to each others points and agreed to disagree. They didn't mock each other as it was unnecessary, each group knew people of their own group would draw their own conclusions. It would be nice if differing groups showed the same respect towards each other as the creationists and the atheists in that video.

There are a few things that people can do to help create a civil discussion.

First: Remember that even if you disagree with someone they are probably not Hitler. I truly believe that only Hitler was Hitler.

Second: Online, let people know that you can understand them perfectly well in lower case and that Caps aren't necessary, unless they really like them in which case that's fine too.

Third: It is physically impossible to listen and talk at the same time. This is an area where multi-tasking is not a good idea.

Fourth: To err is human. Expertize is a funny thing, when you know a little about a subject you can talk about it confidently. After you've put in 10,000 hours on that subject you are actually less confident as you know how much you don't know. For example last year I was pretty confident in my ability as a writer, several magazines published my stories so I had some validation. Now I'm putting together those stories for an ebook and I have to rewrite all of them, just because they were good enough for an editor to pay me for them doesn't mean they are good enough for my book. It's the same with almost any field, so remember that when someone says, “In most cases” and “Usually” it doesn't mean they know less than the person who proclaims, “Every time” or “It always”. In fact the person who makes the small disclaimers probably knows more about the subject than the person who talks in absolutes.

Fifth: Remember that there are crazy people out their that take violent imagery seriously. So use this for entertainment. Tell people that Rush Limbaugh should be smacked with a pillow. If a nutjob takes you serious and goes on a pillow fighting spree it would be funny and no one would get hurt.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Standing up

Yesterday Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot while meeting with her constituents at a local Costco. She was one of the twenty Democrats targeted in Sarah Palin's “Don't Retreat, Reload” ad that was shown on this site and just about every other site that has advertisers.

The shooter was mentally unstable and the teabaggers are trying to use that to show there was no connection between them and the shooting. They say how could they have known that calling for “Second Amendment Solutions” and placing a gun sight on a person would make an unstable person take them seriously.

In two of my books I dealt with a totalitarian state and had to research mind control so I learned a bit about what makes a tyrant think. It is basically the same techniques as a bully or a wife beater, and the escalation to violence is a feedback loop.

We've all heard the phrase, “If you stand up to bully, they'll back down.” This isn't really true in reality that will probably lead to a fight, however win or lose the bully will respect you and will stop bullying you and move on to someone else. If someone doesn't stand up the bully will begin to hate that person, really hate them, and blame the victim for all their problems. As long as this cycle continues it can only lead to one outcome greater violence.

Over the last two years the Democrats have backed down to the Republicans when it came to fighting for the middle class so that they would only fight for something if over 75% of the country wants it and even then they will compromise for the sake of “bipartisanship”. By bowing down to the Republicans it makes the Republicans hate them even more and the political bullying grows.

Before the shooting I was going to talk about how my Congressman Ben Chandler, a democrat who voted with the republicans on almost every issue, was rewarded by the Republicans by having them take away his seat on the House Spending Panel. This is the classic behavior of an abuser, if you enable them they are going to hate you and use that as excuse to abuse you more.

This is also what happened on Healthcare Reform. 75% of people wanted at least the Public Option. Obama and the Democrats looked for a preemptive compromise with the Republicans and the Democrats surrendering on this issue made them hate the Democrats leading them to use the violent rhetoric in opposition. If the Democrats had stuck to their guns on this the response of the Republicans as the abusers would actually have been more civil.

By enabling the Republicans to be bullies and abusers the Republicans didn't gain respect for the Democrats letting them participate in the legislation, it made them hate the Democrats more. This lead to more and more hateful rhetoric leading to an unstable person taking in all the hate and vile that was spewed out across the airwaves and going on a shooting spree.

So instead of doing my usual closing line, I will offer a bit of advise to everyone especially the Blue Dogs in Congress. Fight the good fight and stand up for what you believe in. It would seem like making nice and reaching out to your opponent would be a path towards civil discussion but the Republicans are not being rational people at this point, they have fallen into the abusers mentality. If you reach out to them, they will hate you. The only way to stop this escalating hatred is to stand firm, win or lose if you fight the abuser he will hate you less.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Death of Print Magazines

I've been going through some of my old short stories to put together an ebook and as I edit them I've noticed a pattern that spells death to the old print magazines that I loved as a child.

In a modern short story the reader wants, well developed characters, a good description of the setting, an interesting plot, and a great overall concept.

What a print magazine wants is a story under 3,000 words.

How can those things work together? Not easily.

In the old days, when we walked two miles to school uphill both ways, the writers would cheat. You would have floating heads, just two characters talking with nothing to let the reader know what they looked like or even where they were. One dimensional characters and stories that were thrown together to bookend an interesting idea. I loved them.

Today readers want more and although it is possible to put all that in 3,000 words, it's not easy. With most of my work I can easily see where I sacrificed some of the elements readers want in order to stay under the word limit.

With my work in order to incorporate all those elements I need to go more towards the 5,000 word range. I've had some of my stuff held by magazines for two or even three cycles because the editor liked it, but they would have to bump two other stories for it.

Now it would be possible to write an excellent 5,000 word story and carefully trim and trim and then trim some more until it was a mediocre 3,000 word story but then writing and revising time would shoot up from a couple days to several weeks and even the biggest magazines don't pay enough for short stories to be written on that type of schedule, and why go through all the extra work to make something worse.

So I have a feeling that on-line magazines are going to be the way to go. On-line it's just as cheap to publish a 5,000 to 7,000 word story as it is to publish a 3,000 word story. These stories that are longer than the print magazines can afford will be better than what can be put in print because they will be written to length the story needs to be and not the mandatory 3,000 word limit.

It's a shame, I loved the quirky stories that the old pulp magazines published. Stories where an awesome idea or image was the focus of the story and everything else was just an afterthought. But times change and I'm sure there will be a place where those quirky tales will find a home.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: Satan's PR firm

One of the revelations in the Wikileaks dump was that the Afgan government, complained to the assistant US Ambassador that a private security company DynCorp was doing something that could cause outrage with the citizens of Afghanistan. The Ambassador told him that the US has no authority over the private companies the US hires and that the media is so lame that it won't be a problem.

What was DynCorp doing? Here's how the Guardian covered it:

A scandal involving foreign contractors employed to train Afghan policemen who took drugs and paid for young "dancing boys" to entertain them in northern Afghanistan caused such panic that the interior minister begged the US embassy to try and "quash" the story, according to one of the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks.

In a meeting with the assistant US ambassador, a panicked Hanif Atmar, the interior minister at the time of the episode last June, warned that the story would "endanger lives" and was particularly concerned that a video of the incident might be made public.

The episode helped to fuel Afghan demands that contractors and private security companies be brought under much tighter government control. However, the US embassy was legally incapable of honouring a request by Atmar that the US military should assume authority over training centres managed by DynCorp, the US company whose employees were involved in the incident in the northern province of Kunduz.

There is a long tradition of young boys dressing up as girls and dancing for men in Afghanistan, an activity that sometimes crosses the line into child abuse with Afghans keeping boys as possessions.

The Guardian

The US Ambassador was right that the Western Media was so lame that it wouldn't be a problem.

As they reported it the story sounds a little strange but not something that would get an entire nation of stoners up in arms, well they already are up in arms as they consider AK-47's fashion accessories but you know what I mean.

What the Guardian, and US newspapers, didn't say was that the long tradition of that one tribe (not a tradition in most of Afghanistan) was for the men of village to have sex with the boys after they danced and then auction them off as possessions.

Our Ambassador to Afghanistan has said that the US has no authority to stop US companies, that are hired and paid by us, from pimping out little boys as sex toys and that the corporate owned media in this country won't report on these abuses.

At one time I called the reporters of the US Corporate owned media, “Corporate Whores” but I stopped when I realized that was demeaning to Whores.

If the reporters in the mainstream media were to do some soul searching they would be gone for six months and still come back without finding one.

At one time being a reporter meant trying to find and expose the truth, today what being a reporter means is that you are member of Satan's Personal Public Relations Firm.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Monday, January 3, 2011

My Blog is two years old

Its been two years and almost 500 posts (492 to be exact) since I first started this blog. I thought it would be a good time to think back on why I started it. So I looked at some of the reviews I've gotten.

At EntreCard I got this review:

Comedy does not seem strong enough a word for, but it's all I've got in this limited English language :) I don't just chuckle, or chortle but rather feel heart burn from the laughter this site induces. While that may not sound like a desired outcome for many, remember, good comedy hurts. Come and get your hurt on at Project Savior :)”

Tax Tips for DemoRats

At BlogCatalog I've received these reviews:

greg1647 love your blog!



Petalac30 Great Blog, funny posts, love your writing style, Keep up the good work!



risomsr I love it and I hate it - great blog!



TriciaFM Fantastic blog, many secrets revealed here. Fascinating, interesting and funny.



xanderkale The best kind of funny - smart and edgy. Great work here.



WoFat Somewhere, Robert A. Heinlein is smiling.



annalefler Snappy and smart - very entertaining! Love the edge...



WARSHOCK love his articles and unique satirical writing style on diverse topics.


There seems to be a pattern, people seem to like my comedy stuff. Somehow I've gotten away from that so I thought I'd brush up on the rules of writing comedy. I looked at two of the funniest places in the media the fake news network (fox) FNN and WorldnetDaily

Rule #1: Exaggerate Everything!

From crowd sizes at Rallies to saying that Obama's trip to India cost more per day than the war in Iraq to their polls showing over 100% of those surveyed are against something, Fox's Fake News Network does a fantastic job at exaggerating anything they report on.

Rule #88: Present the Absurd as Logical

No one and I mean no one does this better than the folks over at World Net Daily, they recently ran a piece showing how Obama is a secret Native American because Obama being secretly a Kenyan is so 2010. They detail the secret plot of how Obama as leader of the country will give back America to the Native Americans so that as a secret Native American he can become leader of America. It all makes perfect sense.

Rule #348: Contradict yourself in the same sentence.

From Glenn Beck warning that if we make laws to keep companies from putting lead in our children's toys we will become like China, the country that puts lead in our children's toys, to the entire network being outraged that the “Ground Zero Mosque” was being funded by a Saudi Prince, who happened to own 7% of Fox's parent company News Corp no one contradicts themselves better than Fox news.

Rule #758: Treat the most Idiotic Person's opinion as equal to a sane and thought out opinion.

Fox News Contributer Sarah Palin attacked Michelle Obama's anti childhood obesity campaign, nuff said.

So in the future I will have to remember these 10,000 rules and treat Sarah Palin's statements as logical while making sure to ignore these rules and make fun of the idiotic rantings of Sarah Palin and the teabaggers.

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Going Nuclear

The energy crisis is going to be making a come back this year and naturally politicians will be calling for more Nuclear power stations to be built. Most of the anti-nuke talking heads will protest this citing safety reasons, the safety issue is a straw man argument that can easily be knocked down and obscures the real problem with nuclear power plants in this country.

The Safety Issue.

The worst nuclear disaster in this country was Three Mile Island in 1979. It was a disaster in which no one died, the increase in radiation in the surrounding community was so low it was hard to detect over the normal background radiation, and of the people exposed there hasn't been a measurable increase in cancer of other deaths that exposure might cause. As far as Disasters go it was less harmful to human life than most car accidents.

What the Three Mile Island Disaster did show is that poor safety control design, bad training, and badly written instructions can turn a minor problem into a major one. New regulations have dealt with a lot of these problems.

The Real Problem with Nuclear Power.

There are two types of Nuclear Power Plants, Closed Systems and Open Systems. The differences are in how they use water to cool the reactor.

In a closed system water is heated in the reactor core to 375 degrees turning it into steam that drives a turbine and then cooled down and used again. The water used to cool the water went through the reactor is then cooled in the huge cooling towers that are the iconic symbol of the nuclear power industry.

Open systems use surrounding bodies of water to cool the plant or at least the water that cooled the water that went through the core.

In a nuclear power plant two thirds of the heat generated by the core is wasted and has to be released into the environment. This isn't a global warming problem as the amount of heat released is a tiny fraction of what the Earth receives from the Sun. What is a problem is the effect the heat has on the local environment.

Some nuclear power plants use local lakes to shed this excess heat and over time they make the lake water rise by a few degrees. Although that doesn't sound like much it has a devastating effect on the lake ecosystem.

Global Warming problems that some are pushing as reason for nuclear power actually spell disaster for using nuclear power. One of the effects of Global Warming is more severe weather patterns including droughts. Open system Nuclear Power need huge amounts of water to shed the excess heat. So any power plants that rely on local river and lakes face major problems as those water sources dry up in the summer. Already we've had situations where major cities like Atlanta have had to go on water restrictions so nuclear power plants could continue to operate and this is only going to get worse.

The Solution

If we are going to use nuclear as a way to combat the energy crisis two things will have to be done. Only allow open or partially open systems on the coastlines where they can shed the excess heat into the ocean (or the great lakes). We also need to improve the efficiency of closed system Nuclear power plants so they don't need all the available water in the case of a drought.

So to everyone saying that the solution to the energy crisis is nuclear power and that less regulation is the way to get more power plants built, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, because of the water issue that Nuclear Plants face we need more regulations as to how the plants deal with this issue so we aren't making people die of thirst so the lights can stay on.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Alien Thoughts