Upcoming Episodes; and Sunday Shrine

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

St Aubin Church in Treves. By Rensi at German Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

UPCOMING POSTS

Soon we are going to do something that we haven’t done in a long time…  A Margot’s Wino Night. Instead of babbling about wine I’ve had in the privacy of my own humble abode, I actually went to a Winery in that place that isn’t The Hamptons.  I went to a great place, with wines I both liked and didn’t.  Stay tuned…

800px-st-aubin_innenansicht

St Aubin Church in Treves.

I’m also going to be reviewing the second in Declan Finn’s  “Codename” Series, Codename: Unsub.  But that might take me a week or so. I’m in the middle of other reading projects that are taking a lot longer than expected.

I also have a GF recipe that I want to try out… it partially comes from a mix, so we’ll see.   Hint: It’s a dessert, and it’s not pumpkin pie spice related. But it is a good representative of the essence of Fall, so be not afraid.  IT will be seasonal.

St Aubin Church in Treves.

St Aubin Church in Treves.

Today I cheated with the Sunday Shrine.  The pictures are from Nortre Dame church in St Aubin’s, or L’église Notre-Dame à Cunault. The Church dates from the 12th Century.  To put that in perspective, Thomas Aquinas might have known about this church.

800px-notredamecunault

St Aubin Church in Treves.

Also, I’m looking for suggestions. I figure I have about three people reading me at this point.  If there’s something you want to see here, please post.

Comments? Please? Hell, I wouldn’t mind tomatoes thrown at this point.

No canned tomatoes, however. I have to draw the line somewhere.

527px-Cherubs-on-book-1100x1252

Announcement

By Jaume Meneses (Flickr: Barris – Gòtic) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Turns out my hubby has cancer. It’s not the worst form of cancer, and it’s not a death sentence. But it’s going to be a real challenge.

That’s why I’ve been gone for a few days.

So…

I will do my best.

Thankfully, “Random File” got me something interesting, as you see above. I really like the cherubim and the scalloped detailing on this facade.  Then again, it is Baroque architecture in Barcelona. Can’t get much better than that!

Still Here…

Dealing with a lot of crazy issues these days. Such as… my husband was in the hospital, and I had to prevent a threat to my housing situation. Long story, very very exhausting. I should be blogging still… and yet, I spaced on it for almost a week.

Abrissarbeiten_der_Kaserne_Adjt._Brasseur_an_der_Westhovener_Aue_Str_(anderer_Blickwinkel)

By Jotpe (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Yeah, it’s been that kind of week.

On the upside, I uploaded a bunch of pictures I took of a local shrine, and some other surprises.

Stay tuned. I Taint Dead Yet.

 

What is Freedom? Of Speech? (Part I)

What is Freedom? Freedom of Speech?

Before we get into Freedom of Speech, Let’s look at Freedom first.  My reason? Too many people do not know what freedom is.

Illustrative of this is a Chesterton quote, who sums it up neatly.

“Most modern freedom is at root fear. It is not so much that we are too bold to endure rules; it is rather that we are too timid to endure responsibilities.”
What’s Wrong With the World, GK Chesterton

What isn’t a bid to avoid responsibility is an attempt to avoid suffering at all costs.  This explains how the Left can simultaneously claim to support “free speech” and decry anyone who speaks and is threatened– or killed.  I mean, it’s easy to decry a dead man when he isn’t there to refute what you say.  And… now we understand.

Rights aren’t issued by consensus.  If they were, the strongest arm would always win.   Rights are God given– innate, if you prefer.

It’s not just me.  Let’s look at the definition in detail.

1. the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:
He won his freedom after a retrial.
2. exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.
3.the power to determine action without restraint.
4. political or national independence.
5. personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery:
a slave who bought his freedom.
6.exemption from the presence of anything specified (usually followed by from):
freedom from fear.

Does that really sound like something that is under the shadow of a death threat?  Sure, speaking your mind can be dangerous. You know what? When it becomes that dangerous, that means you have to escalate beyond words to defend your rights. There are other options outside of giving up because it’s scary or hard.

Oh, and here’s my personal favorite definition of freedom:

14.civil liberty, as opposed to subjection to an arbitrary or despotic government.

Hint: killing people over ugly words or pictures is not only despotism, but barbarism.  You want to live under such a government? Make haste and move there. Please. We just might rescue this faltering republic that much more quickly without your…”help”.

Some people only think they can revoke the right to free speech by censorship, threats or taking lives.  They are gravely mistaken. Free American mouthpieces that pander to those who would put  our freedom to the sword aren’t any better.  These are not citizens but mewling slaves for hire, ratting their self-imposed chains so they can force them on the rest of us.

Drama Llama comes home to roost

The Drama Llama comes home to roost.

Remember when I said…

 

I have a fair degree of experience with the whole feminist culture warrior shtick, and I took my leave based on experience. I was also not born in an echo chamber. My family spanned the culture war from both ends, so I had a good look at the best and worst of both worlds​”?

I had relatives arming themselves against the attack on Idlewild, defending the rights of black people, even though they were not. I had relatives wearing white hoods– even blood relatives shooting at each other in the middle of it all. I had relatives running for office on a Communist Party platform in the 1930’s. I had lots of family fleeing Germany– both the poisonous fallout from the Weimar republic and the guns and gas chambers of the Gestapo. I have a relative who was quoted extensively by the NAACP, yet was a republican icon for most of his life. I have relatives who have served with honor for the military and with distinction in the clandestine service. I had relatives on both sides of the pro-life debate, and I spent my formative years caught in the middle.

My mother was a leftist, and a radical feminist. She knew enough about Aristotle to criticize him and sound like she knew what she was talking about. It would take a scholar to refute her, mostly because much of the so called Enlightenment agrees with her.

My father was a fiscal conservative, but would have been called a social liberal, before we started forcing businesses to go against their consciences. He had a certain preference for ‘leave me alone’ standard of law that has a long glorious history in this country, that would find sympathy among the tea party. So if dinner time conversation ever meandered into politics, things got… exciting, to put it charitably.

It was a blessing, because the madness that has struck our country is for me, merely deja vu. I can’t run away from it by running away from home. It is as if a family disease leaked into the aquifer and now affects millions.

I used to pretend there is a place where I can go where it is not a factor. That place used to be the internet. I am so old I even remember when SF fandom was a shelter against politics. Well, now what it has affected both , and neither can seem to let go of it. Like the Drama Llama, it goes looking for you, even if you don’t seek it.

7fd74c76eee830004c96304d355752e11d79a27152c6744778ea9c50fb9ac3f4

I went off to become a writer in the safest place I could think of– in Science Fiction. And lo, the disease has found me still, and affects dear friends both past and present. Though it appears to be about the Hugos, it is about far more than that– it is about whether or not the umbilical fannish culture that birthed me will survive, or simply be supplanted by consumerist fandom. Come to find I have some friends on both sides, here, too.  Since it has decided not to engage or embrace the large influx of new people, is it will be starved to death by it’s staunchest defenders. It is worth pointing out that only one side is still talking to me. And that was true even before I declared a side. Running only changes the scenery. Hiding is an illusion.

Cuidado e Llamas, homes. That’s all I’m saying.

Keep in mind: being careful is not the same thing as hiding, giving up, or giving in.

The Economics of Piracy

consider-piracy

Read this.  Below is a comment on the same link from masgramondou, who fortunately weighs in at the first comment. It’s important enough, I re-posted the whole thing.

Piracy. Yes you want to stop it but, yes, it may be the best marketing tool you have as an unknown author.

Eric Flint (and others, e.g. Cory Doctorow) said it originally about a decade ago but it still remains the case. Remember the average reader is not in fact a criminal and, these days, understands that authors need the royalties to survive.

If you make it easy to purchase and consume then the majority of people who might consider pirating your work will buy it. However the price has to be right (i.e. $4.99 not $14.99 or $24.99) and you have to make it so that they can easily get it on the device(s) they want. Do that and most people will buy not steal. And the ones who will steal, probably wouldn’t pay no matter what you did so if the piracy is electronic you aren’t losing anything

 

 

This reflects some data I’ve seen from folks in the ad industry, who normally study what makes an on-line ad effective. What is interesting is that the numbers reflect very nicely, except that pirated works (especially text based fiction) are a better return on investment than internet advertising. Think on that a moment.

In the Tabletop Role Playing business, where razor thin margins are a way of life, there are companies who upload free copies of their games into torrent as an advertising strategy. They say that it is by far the best advertising dollars they spend– by a long mile.

FWIW, the company used something like paper chase to collect data on where their copies went. Only they weren’t hunting for pirate 0. (Or, in this case, pirates 1-500+)They did a distribution survey and how much pattern matching they got in their purchase database. The numbers they reported on that return were absurdly high. I mean, sure, they make good games, but… would you base your economic model on that unless the numbers were definitive?

Also, professional musicians are known to upload free videos to youtube, with full production quality sound. Everybody knows there is a way to download and strip away the video. More often than not, if somebody likes it, they will fire up Amazon or iTunes and pay up to get the produced version, even if there is little practical difference.

Remember: MTV and terrestrial radio were started on the theory that people buy what they like when they hear it for free. Note that MTV started in the 1980’s, when it had been established that the radio music sales model works.

artists without audiences

Johann_Heinrich_Füssli_036

So, I was reading this, and it got me to thinking.

How can there be art without an audience? To whom do you speak? Sure, you can just write or draw and put it in a desk drawer and it never sees the light of day. But… is that really being an artist?

Without an audience an artist is as isolated as a corpse. Sadly, he is not fertile to other forms of life, because he gives nothing of himself but shock and vitriol. At least a corpse is made of the same basic chemistry it is surrounded by, and is eventually reclaimed to the firmament. Modern art is indigestible even by the composting forces of culture. This is why we have had little more than zombie art for the last 100+ plus years.

But seriously– an artist without an audience, who yet earns bread, is less natural than a unicorn. At least the latter is self sustaining and has the virtue of treasuring purity.

By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Pearson Scott Foresman [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The War on Fandom– By Fandom

The War on Fandom– By Fandom

Comikaze_Expo_2011_-_Cyberman_from_Doctor_Who_(6324615505)

By The Conmunity – Pop Culture Geek from Los Angeles, CA, USA (Comikaze Expo 2011 – Cyberman from Doctor Who) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

This.

Background here. And this. And this. And this.

Sigh. What happened to that happy amoeba of “we all share our weirdness together”?

I matriculated in the fan culture that built fan run conventions. Yes, I’m talking about cons like Worldcon. Working from the inside, the original culture of fandom was inclusive, welcoming– a veritable melting pot of shared love of our various obsessions. There are many obsessions, but these are mine! See, this is how I enjoy them and we can be our geeky awkward selves in a shared space! For a time, those values overtook barriers of politics, false identity and economic differences and put all that BS aside to have a special place. Then, somewhere along the line, fandom got… popular.

We weren’t really sure what to do about it.

Since then, some values from the outside our ranks have gotten their way in.

They say sinister things, like:

  • Some fans are more fannish than others. They don’t belong among us.
  • You aren’t safe here. We’ll make separate, safe spaces under our broad tent, so you will not be harmed/tainted by these other nobs.
  • You aren’t really inclusive if you don’t specifically check all the check-boxes we say you need to check.

 

All of this boils down to one toxic message:

People who are different from each other cannot hope to get along. Strangers will attack you. Separate into your comfort zones and be safe.

Let me give some people who claim to be our leading lights some insight.

THESE ARE NOT THE VALUES THAT DIY FANDOM STARTED WITH. If they were, mass fandom would not exist.

Why?

First: you live or die by how many people you could entice into the community.  These awesome cons cannot survive without attendees– and fresh blood.  And while families do come to cons, there aren’t enough to support us– or replace us.

Well, if we really believed the new school, why would be bother creating big diverse organizations to begin with? Who would bother to attend conventions in hotels surrounded by people? We’d invite those safe people to our homes, and tell the rest of the universe to go hang. We would be content with local clubs. Under circumstances like these, who would bother inventing WORLD CON?

Why do I go to conventions? I go to MEET OTHER FANS. I could care less what the vast majority of these media conglomerates want to sell me. If I want to buy something? I will go and find that thing on the internet. I don’t need to stand in line for hours for a brief glimpse of some movie star I’m in love with. I can write fan fic in the privacy of my own basement.

Honestly, it is the characters I care about, full stop. The actor wears the visage for a brief shining moment (he or she calls it work) and shares himself with that character so we may all love him. This is awesome, but not my area of interest.

The second thing I want, is meet the minds who came up with these characters, and script their lives. I’d like to buy them a drink (doesn’t even have to be alcoholic) and have a social chat with them. That is why I chose to join fannish society– and that is why I still love the idea of Worldcon.

Maybe DIY fandom can’t scale the way Media West and Dragon Con can. You know what? Unequal numbers don’t bother me. Local smaller groups just makes it easier to find time to spend with the folks who socialize in consuite. I’ve talked to some incredibly famous writers– including Terry Pratchett even a hand full of movie stars. I have truly been blessed to be part of Fandom. And my old stomping ground convention wasn’t even that big, or that rich. We just had a good culture that ran a reliable con, so we got some big names for treating everybody well.

But if the big tent is divided into ever smaller warring factions– all these cool things won’t even be possible.

What bothers me is that these apparent leading lights of DIY fandom have forgotten their roots, their purpose– and that is a threat to ALL fandom. Because, once we forget our roots, we forget who we are, period.

This divide and conquer strategy is lethal. Because sooner or later, folks will realize they don’t have the money to be a part of this global social club where they only meet the people they are comfortable with. Why can’t they just meet those safe approved people somewhere cheaper? Aren’t there a hundred different ways to have a private safe gathering that exclude people we don’t like? Suddenly, you don’t need a con anymore.

Because, surprise, the con is SUPPOSED TO BE THE SAFE PLACE FOR ALL OF US. Not just the special ones, but everybody.

Take a risk and meet someone new.