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A tisket, a tasket, a basket of publishing news

I doubt there is anyone who writes or works in publishing who doubts the industry is changing. They might not like it. They might throw themselves down on the floor and kick their feet and pound their fists in protest. None of that will stop the change. It might slow it down for awhile as legacy publishers delay some very necessary changes, but change is coming. Heck, it’s already here. We just don’t know how far it’s going to go.

The first indication that change is here is the latest in the “class action” suit filed against Amazon and the big six publishers. The key element in the suit revolves around Amazon’s proprietary DRM that is applied to some of the e-books sold through its site. The plaintiffs in the suit, independent booksellers, basically allege in their suit that there is a conspiracy between Amazon and the publishers to use the DRM to prevent third parties from selling their e-books. That’s a bit over-simplified but it’s morning and I haven’t had my caffeine yet.

The key is the allegation of “conspiracy” between Amazon and the publishers. Now, those of you who have followed my posts here on MGC can guess my reaction to an allegation of conspiracy between these particular parties. These are the same publishers who really do NOT like Amazon, or at least Amazon’s sales tactics. These are the same publishers, on the whole, who bought into Steve Job’s agency pricing model hook, line and sinker and have been facing price fixing allegations from the Department of Justice as a result, allegations raised by Amazon and others. So the first reaction of anyone alleging a conspiracy between Amazon and the big six has me chuckling.

But then, as I continued to read this article from Publishers Weekly, my chuckles turned to almost sad shakes of the head. The plantiffs’ attorney has basically admitted that “the publisher contracts merely ‘allowed’ Amazon to use its proprietary platform.” In other words, Amazon doesn’t demand DRM be applied and the publishers are the ones who determine whether or not DRM will be included in the final product. All it takes is a quick perusal of Amazon’s e-book offerings to find that there are major publishers who don’t apply DRM to their kindle offerings. TOR and Baen are the first two that come to mind.

So, absent an agreement made between the parties, it is hard to have a conspiracy. That becomes even more hard to prove when you add in the next part — that the parties add the proprietary DRM in an attempt to harm the plaintiffs. If there is no underlying conspiracy, there can be no intent to harm. As a result, it is now looking like the court is about to throw out the suit. If that happens, I hope these booksellers focus on trying forge connections with the publishers and find ways to sell their e-books in-store (and there are easy ways to do it once the substructure is in place) instead of spending yet more money on law suits they really don’t have the deep pockets for.

In the next bit of news, “Judge Denise Cote shot down Penguin’s request for a jury trial to hear the remaining state and the consumer class action cases against them.” Basically, before entering into an agreement with the DoJ in the price fixing lawsuit, Penguin had agreed to have the suits in question heard in a bench trial. Specifically, back in October, Penguin waived its right to a jury trial. Furthermore, its actions in subsequent conferences, hearings, etc., confirmed this decision. So, come June 3rd, the trial will begin — barring any unforeseen delays — and, hopefully, an end to yet another drawn-out round of litigation centering on the way the industry giants conduct business.

It has also been announced that Macmillan has agreed to pay a $26 million settlement in the state and consumer class action cases against them. All that is needed is for Judge Cote to approve the settlement. “The final settlement includes $20 million for consumer compensation; $3 million to cover the costs of the “investigation” and litigation; $2.475 million for plaintiff’s attorneys’ fees; and $1,000 for each of the named plaintiffs in the consumer class as a ‘service award’.” Now, like most such agreements, Macmillan is not admitting any guilt, which isn’t a surprise. But, if I’m remembering correctly, it leaves only Apple and Penguin as the remaining defendants in the state and consumer class action cases. So, as I noted earlier, hopefully this chapter will soon be over.

I’ll admit that this next piece first had me wondering how to respond. In case you missed it, last weekend James Patterson took out full page ads on the cover of Publishers Weekly, the New York Times Book Review and Kirkus. I saw the NYTBR ad and, frankly, it had me shaking my head and wondering what Patterson was smoking. In the ad, he asks three questions: Who will save our books? Our bookstores? Our libraries? Then he went on to note that the federal government has stepped in to save banks and other industries and he wonders where it is when it comes to books (publishing). In the NYT ad, he then lists a number of books such as All the President’s Men and The Sound and The Fury. He ended with this: “If there are no bookstores, no libraries, no serious publishers with passionate, dedicated, idealistic editors, what will happen to our literature? Who will discover and mentor new writers? Who will publish our important books? What will happen if there are no more books like these?”

Now, you can imagine my initial reaction: here’s another “best seller” who doesn’t really understand all the avenues out there for authors, avenues that can and will bring these sorts of books to the reader. But then I found a follow-up by Patterson that clarified his position.

This is an unusual and different time for books, the most unusual in the history of this country. E-books are fine and dandy, but it’s all happening so quickly, and I don’t think anyone thought through the consequences of having many fewer bookstores, of libraries being shut down or limited, of publishers going out of business — possibly in the future, many publishers going out of business.

That much is certainly true. It is a time when the industry is changing, whether it wants to or not. I also agree that too many folks didn’t think through the consequences of what fewer bookstores, libraries, etc., would have on readers. Now, do I think the sudden popularity of e-books is to blame? Not entirely. In fact, not by a long shot. There are fewer bookstores for a number of different reasons, including the fact the super box stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble ran the mom and pop indie stores out of business. Then the big stores over-expanded and, instead of adapting when times got hard, they stayed the course until it was too late — for Borders at least. They failed to accept the e-book trade as a major part of their business until Amazon already had a major hold on the industry.

Do we need publishers? Yeah, we do. I just don’t think we need them in the form the legacy publishers are currently in. Print isn’t going to die any time soon. There will be a niche market for it for years, perhaps centuries, to come. But that means old ways have to be changed and new ones adopted.

As for libraries, well, here is where I have a bit of a bone to pick with Patterson. Libraries are constrained not only by what is happening in the industry but by a decrease in funding from their sponsoring governmental entity. I know of at least one county here in Texas where the county budget will allow the library to stay open. However, there is no money in the budget for books. Yep, that’s right, unless the library finds some creative ways of raising funds, for the next budget year they will be unable to buy any new books or replace books from their collection that are lost or stolen or damaged.

However, publishers are also part of the problem where libraries are concerned. Even as libraries continue to buy print books and other media, they are also trying to have e-books for their patrons to check out. They hold classes on how to use e-book readers and tablets. The problem comes with the cost of e-books. And that is when libraries can get them. Some publishers don’t even make their e-books available to libraries for fear someone might pirate the book or, gasp, if they read the e-book they won’t buy the print book. Others charge what can only be called extortion rate fees for e-books. I’ve seen example of an e-book I could buy for $9.99 being sold to libraries at more then $150. Then there are limits to the number of times an e-book can be loaned out before the library has to buy a new copy — a number much lower than the life of a print book.

I’m not even going to get into the call for a government bail-out. That gets too close to politics and I promised Sarah I wouldn’t bring it here. Just know that I.DO.NOT.APPROVE. of a bailout by the government of any industry that has already proven it can’t and won’t adapt to changing business trends.

Finally, in case you missed it, Naked Reader Press (my boss) brought out two new titles last week.

allthatisgoldThe first is All That is Gold by Jessica Schlenker.

In this short story, a beautiful and curious heirloom is entrusted to a new family line when Cassandra’s sister purchases a particularly well-chosen gift for her. Still, even daydreamers require time to adjust their notions of reality when confronted with a variation of their dearest desire.

The second is Hunted (Book 1 in Hunter’s Moon Series) by Ellie Ferguson.

huntedcoverWhen Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what.

Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?

Both are available through Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes. Other outlets will be coming soon. Hunted is also available through All Romance E-Books.

How to taunt your pet writer

And other charming things to do…
“Even better fun than force-feeding diabetics candy-canes, leading blind people over open manholes, and telling kids and Dave Freer there is no Santa Claus” -Ima Meeni (the late Ima Meeni. How dare he say that about someone I’ve been good* all year** for.)

I think the best is telling them that writing is the easy life, and they should try doing a real job. You get really cool purple smoke out of their ears with that one.

It’s almost as good as “I wish I had as much free time as you.”

Mind you for really really explosive reactions try the the well-tested “I’ve got a great idea for a fantasy/sf thriller etc. I don’t have the time to research it or write it, but you do it and give me 50 (0r 70 or 90%) (yeah, like authors are short of ideas. Well, maybe some are, but they just rehash the current politically correct garbage and no one raises an eyebrow. Try money or sales. They are really interested in those. I’m looking for just one more of AMW this month.
Make that two. Someone returned it. I hope not after copying it:-( Not a lot I can do about that except hope they have the fleas of 1000 camels infesting their armpits and fingernails which turn to fishhooks.)

An injured “I’ve just bought your book. (because I know you, not because I want to read such tosh). At $26 for a paperback don’t you think you’re a bit greedy!” Don’t listen or reply when they point out they get 64 cents and are in danger of starvation.

Another great reaction can be got with “You’re my second favorite author, after (Insert someone suitably despised#).

Tell them if you’re a first reader: “Your lead character has the same name as in a really well known book, I just can’t place it.” And then when they change it, tell them you were wrong

Tell them they ought to do some research about something they cannot help knowing, and you plainly don’t. Tell Sarah Hoyt her Portuguese character/ setting would benefit from research, tell Kate Paulk it’s a pity she knows nothing about Autralians or computers, tell Dave Freer that his South African character is just too American to be believable.

Finally tell the world that the book they worked long and hard on making entertaining but layered and complex with just about everything having multiple meanings and stories within stories… is a good airplane read because it is light.

By this time they’ll be gnawing the legs off concrete tables, joining the Finnish Foreign Legion or shooting themselves messily on the lounge carpet, which is such fun to watch.

And yes, all repeated examples taken from life. So: how about a few of your finest?

*for certain values of ‘good’.
** Time is an illusion. And I can’t remember before yesterday.
# I have, among others, got Atwood – gahhhhhhhhhh! Must be the lack of squids in space, which I will rapidly have to remedy rather than have that fate again.

Supanova Pictures

Hi, Everyone. Here are some pictures of Supanova Gold Coast from last weekend. As usual I did not have my brain screwed on and forgot to get someone to take a picture of me (doh!)

Here’s one of the best costumes I saw – from V for Vendetta (awesome movie!).


Here are some zombies who wandered by. . .


Batman & Robin


Guy with a really cool crow. . .


And a pink person. . .


And just to prove I can remember to get a picture of myself, here is me at last year’s Gold Coast Supanova with my son Aedan:


The things I will never write

Like I suspect every other writer ever, I have a collection of stories of sorts that will never be written. This is – trust me – a good thing.

See, writers, whether plotter or pantser, tap into a kind of cultural gestalt, usually at a subconscious level. We can’t help it. Sometimes what emerges is so completely opposite our actual beliefs we look at it and go “huh?”. Or, like J.K. Rowling has done, try to explain it in a way that does fit our beliefs.

Let’s face it, what happens at the subconscious level is weird at best. The current theory is that most of what we do at any time is entirely driven by our subconscious with kibitzing added from the conscious mind. Certainly, a big chunk of writing works that way. I sit down, futz about a bit over getting started, then the rest just pours out without much in the way of conscious input from me. (Yes, yes, this does explain a lot). Every writer I know does this. And the subconscious doesn’t filter the same way the conscious mind does. It doesn’t parse out whether something seen is real or seen on TV. If it looks real it is real. The filters are a whole lot deeper, and probably not what you think they are (this is why in vino veritas and such sayings emerge. You loosen the control the conscious mind has and what comes out of the mouth is closer to the subconscious.

All of which is a long way around to saying that some of these never-to-be written stories are that way because (confession alert. Please leave now if confessions make you feel all icky) they serve to exorcise the worst of a particularly dark aspect of my subconscious. And by “dark” I mean dark. Evil.

It’s there in everyone, but we all choose to deal with it differently. In my writing I’m often exploring that shadowy area where evil can be harnessed to the service of good. Not surprisingly this tends to attract the attention of my darker side. If I let that out, I’d be writing the kind of thing that has no light. I refuse to do this. There’s enough evil in the world without it.

That doesn’t stop the story-seeds trying to emerge, although so far I’ve been able to keep them firmly inside my skull. I’m not entirely sure what would happen if they got out, but I am sure it wouldn’t do good things for me. Letting it out normalizes it, making the evil seem more mundane, more normal.

I’ve seen writers who’ve done this. It hasn’t ended well for any of them.

Doctor Strange Writer, Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Pantsing*

*Pantsing is short hand for “flying by the seat of the pants” as you write.  I.e. the opposite of plotting in advance.


Last week I got a mayday from a friend who is a new writer.  You see, she had outlined her book, and it died in the outlining.  She now knows what is happening, and doesn’t want to write it anymore.

I killed at least three books that way when I was a newby, so I was all sympathy.  (Shuddup.  I can too be all sympathy.)

We gave her some strategies for resurrecting a book you’ve killed that way, including but not limited to “go sideways”; “do something you haven’t plotted”; “introduce a new villain.”

She was very confused though because, as she put it “I’m an organized person.  I wanted to outline it all up front.”

And I realized that like her and for the longest time, I had this idea that plotters are more organized/adult/professional than those writers who fly by the seat of the pants.  I know a lot of my colleagues have the same idea, including those who told me I really needed to become a plotter when I already was (actually I was an extreme plotter) and those who say it’s the only way to write fast.

Like many things about writing, it’s a myth.  The problem is that, like other myths, it can hurt you, if you’re not the sort of writer who SHOULD be plotting in advance.

If you’re someone who gets your characters for free: i.e. they just show up in your head uninvited; or for whom stories start with this situation that just shows up in your head and demands to be written, or even someone who gets snatches of scenes from a story and tries to figure out where they fit – more importantly, if you’re someone who might not realize what your story “means” or is trying to say till you finish it, you might be a natural pantser.

I have all these symptoms, notwithstanding which, because I thought that I HAD to to be a grown up writer, I spent most of my writing life, until very recent years, writing from strict plot.

Then a few years ago I “broke.”  Ie I burned out.  I don’t know if it was as a result of that that my subconscious finally got the upper hand and got to control things.  All I know is that when you’re blocked so tight that you can’t even write a note to your family, you’ll take writing in any form it comes.  And if the novels and stories insist on not letting you see ahead more than a paragraph or a chapter, but the stuff still keeps pouring out, then you just write it.  And then you shock yourself by finding out your pantser stuff is better and more tight than your carefully plotted stuff.

I suspect, btw, Agatha Christie underwent a similar process, simply because in her bio she talks about plotting whole books carefully before writing, but later on in life she said her writing was like driving a car down a winding road at night, never able to see more than what was shown in the headlights.

Having done it both ways now, I will talk to you about he advantages and disadvantages of giving up on plot and flying by the seat of the pants.

The only disadvantage I can think of is that you might have to discard a lot of the story/writing when you get to the end and are editing for coherency and flow.  Mind you, I did that a lot as a newby, even when I was plotting tightly.  (One of the skills you learn as a writer is what to put in and what to leave out.) And right now I don’t do that a lot (a paragraph here and there) even when the book is totally pansted.

I suppose there might be another disadvantage to not outlining if you’re a relatively new published or unpublished writer and going traditional publishing.  Publishers LIKE outlines.  They want you to tell them exactly what you’re going to deliver so they know what in heck to put on the schedule.  This of course becomes less important if you are more published and it completely goes out the window if you’re either going indie, or if your stuff is so uniformly publishable that you can just write on spec, then send it in.

But for me at least the disadvantages of plotting greatly outweigh those of pantsing disadvantages.  So, here is – what is wrong with outlining:


1-      I find, particularly if you’re new to the game, that if you’re outlining – that is, trying to lay down the whole plot before you know these characters very intimately – that you tend to reach for the trite plot turn or the clichéd denouement.  You feel under pressure to come up with something, and of course you’re not very immersed in the world yet.  It’s natural.

2-      It’s very hard to include subplots in the outlining, so that it will tend to strip these away in either importance or in actual fact of existence.

3-      You’re more likely to make your characters into little puppets with no personalities of their own if you try to stick too tightly to the plot.

4-      You remove yourself from the experience the reader will have reading the book.  In the worst case, like my friend, you’ll find that your subconscious thinks you’ve already written the book.  In the milder case, it just makes you bored.  You know what is going to happen and writing becomes “just work.”  It is impossible for some of that not to bleed through to the page, unless you have WAY more discipline than I do.

5-      It’s easy for you to convince yourself that you have a tight plot, because “look, tons of things happens.”  The problem is that many times what happens has no relevance to the central problem/emotional impact, which is, after all, what a book is about.  (No, really, trust me.)


But Sarah, you say, isn’t plotting more professional/cleaner/more grownup?

I don’t know about that.  I finally gave myself permission to pantse when I heard Terry Pratchett talk about how, until the climax scene in Tiffany Aching, he had no clue how (or if) she should prevail.

If Terry Pratchett is a pantser, how much more professional would I want to be?

But Sarah, you say, wouldn’t pantsying take more time?

Well, it doesn’t to me, and yesterday I came across an interview with Rex Stout in an old magazine.  Rex Stout, famously, wrote his books in about a week (and usually in Winter.  Is John Ringo his reincarnation?  Curious minds want to know – runs.)  He was also an extreme pantser.  The interview included such gems as “until the character said that, I didn’t know Nero Wolfe had  a son” and his explaining that the fun of writing was to discover the book the same way the reader would.  And he wrote a novel in a week, and required almost no editing.


Now, understand me, I’m not saying this means you shouldn’t work at your plotting or learn your writing.  Even the most gifted among us paint with a very limited palet and will start to sound boring if we don’t learn the craft enough to know how to diversify.


Just because you’re pulling from the subconscious, doesn’t mean your subconscious doesn’t have to be trained.  Read the good how to books (and the bad ones, till they go against the wall when they tell you anyone who writes genre is sub-normal.) Read books in the genre you’re trying to write in.  In your off time diagram the novels that you really enjoy.


All of this goes into the subconscious, as well as the conscious, and if you do that, you’ll find that your plotting will improve, even if you are a pure pantser.


This doesn’t mean you should absolutely never plot.  I have friends who are plotters and excellent writers, and heck, I might yet come across a novel that demands I plot it tightly in advance.


What I mean is: Learn your craft.  And then trust yourself.

Facts, figures and scams. Oh my!

After last week’s non-post, I spent some time last night and this morning trying to figure out just what to  write about in today’s post. There’s a lot going on in the industry and yet so much of it is the same old same old. You have the report from AAP (Association of American Publishers) confirming what most of us suspected: e-book sales have risen past the 20% mark. At the same time, others are predicting the resurgence of print or the death of e-books because their rate of sales increase. Then there are the new and more imaginative ways to scam writers desperate to see their name “in print”. Of course, there is also the continuing story of the Night Shade Books sale. And that’s only scratching the surface.

According to the AAP, e-book sales accounted for 22.5% of all sales in 2012. Ten years ago, e-books accounted for 0.05% of all sales. In the last few years, there’s been a great deal of discussion about where the tipping point would be with e-books. I suggest we have reached it. For one thing, the figures reported by AAP are about as accurate as those reported by Bookscan. AAP is a voluntary organization that is reporting sales reported to it by its members. It doesn’t take into account, as far as I can tell, sales by any number of small and micro presses, nor does it report sales by self-published authors. If we were to take all of those potential sales into account, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see that e-book sales accounted for over 30% of all new “book” sales last year.

But there is another reason why I say we’ve reached the tipping point. I’m hearing more and more authors talking about how their legacy publishers are refusing to release rights e-books rights back to them even though these same publishers are reporting digital sales on the titles in question that are well below the “in print” figures necessary to maintain the rights. Now, there are several possible reasons for this. The first is that the publishers know the e-books in question are selling more than they are reporting to the authors and are, therefore, an active participant in fraud. Since I’m sure there is no one in publishing who would willingly and knowingly — much less carelessly and negligently — defraud an author, we won’t spend any real time on this. (Besides, I need to quit laughing before continuing.)

What I feel is the truth of the matter is that publishers know just how important a role e-books will play in their continued survival and, like someone afraid of drowning, they are clinging to anything to stay afloat. So they drag their feet when they receive notice from an author demanding their rights back. They’ve learned over the years that authors are hesitant to hire attorneys to protect their rights. There’s still that mentality among too many of us that tells us that if we rock the boat, we’ll go on some blacklist publishers share amongst themselves and will never be published again. The only problem with this is that those authors demanding their rights back are the ones who have figured out that they can make money without having the “big name publisher” putting out their e-books.

Does this increase in market share mean the death of print? Not yet, and probably not for a very long time. I can foresee a niche market for print for years to come. But it does mean we will see a steady movement away from print as the medium of choice. That’s pretty much a no brainer because our kids are more tech savvy than we are. Their kids will be even more so. They will be much more comfortable reading on their screens than we are and that will be their “comfort” read, just as a print book is for so many of us.

All that said, there are those who are saying that because e-books sales grew “only” 41% last year that it has reached the saturation point in the market. Now, let’s face it, that’s just silly on the face of it. But the same qualifiers I put on the figures reported by AAP on the market share held by e-books apply here. Besides, a 41% increase is still a major indicator that e-books are here to stay and will continue to be the major force in publishing sales. This is particularly true when you consider that print sales continue to be flat or, in many areas, fall.

If all that isn’t enough to make your head spin, then the lengths some folks will go to get money out of authors ought to. Anyone who want to call themselves a writer or an author ought to know the first law of writing: money flows to the author not from it. We’ve all heard the horror stories of vanity presses that would guarantee to publish your book as long as you paid a few hundred to many thousands of dollars to buy and sell X-number of the books afterwards. The result was usually that the poor author was out the money and had a garage full of books that he couldn’t give away.

Over the years, these vanity presses have found new ways to market themselves. Unfortunately, they still exists. But now there’s a new twist out there: crowd sourcing. Writer Beware pointed to one that, at least on the surface, appears to be questionable at the very least. Fifty Shades of London is an anthology being touted by Endeavour Press. They are looking for fifty short stories or essays to go into the book. Their project page claims Endeavour Press is “the UK’s leading independent publisher of digital books.” All you have to do is submit your short story or essay of 2,000 words. Oh, wait, there’s another little catch: you have to pay to be included.

That’s right, you pay to be included. What do you get for your money, you ask? You get your work proofed and published in the anthology. No editing. Nothing more than proofing and editing in a book you have to pay to get into. Sounds like a deal to me — NOT!

At least there are only two backers for the project so far. But those two are guaranteed to be two of the first five stories in the anthology, should it be published. How do I know this? Because it is one of the “perks” of being a first backer. For the first five backers at a MERE 50 GBP, you guarantee your place as one of the first five stories. After that, your 50 GBP gets you a place someone in the anthology. Now, what is interesting reading their pledge levels, they are all the same price. You can choose to be among the first five stories, or to simply be included in the anthology, or to be part of the anthology AND receive one of only 10 printed copies of the book, or be part of the anthology and receive five — that’s right FIVE — e-books from Endeavour.

Folks, I repeat, money runs to the author and not from him.

And that brings us back to the Night Shade proposed sale. I wrote several weeks about about how the terms they were presenting to their authors (which really amounted to nothing more than blackmail, imo) were horrid. I wasn’t the only one to do so. Nor was I the only one to question why SFWA seemed okay with them. Since then, the terms have been amended and they are better. Not great, mind you, but at least better. Michael Stackpole has a post here about why he is now going to sign the new contract. While I understand his decision — and would probably have done the same thing — it’s still not a great deal for the authors. But it does beat having your novels, and future novels based on those currently held by Night Shade, from languishing in bankruptcy hell.

The lesson of all these stories is to be sure you know the terms of any contract you sign. Don’t just rely on the fact that your editor or publisher is “a nice guy”.  Failure to pay royalties in a timely manner is a breach of contract. Failure to do so on a regular basis is a warning sign that ought to tell you to start whatever process you have to in order to get your rights back. Stop thinking about your career as something other than a business, because that is what it is. It is your business and you wouldn’t let a distributor of your goods fail to pay you for items they’d already shipped and been paid for if you were a farmer or manufacturer. So why do it when you are a writer?

Money flows to the writer and not from him.

teh stupid

I must say I found myself profoundly depressed about my future as writer after reading a facebook post in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing.Some (un-named) but shall we say exceptionally politically correct author put up a post by some… person. I think. Could be a miniture pink elephant controlling a human frame, floating on a cork in the rotting mush that was brain, poking roach antennae into the relevant nerves. You think that crazy? then you never read his article on ‘White privilege‘ – a privilege according to him that means that if the bomber turned out to be white “White privilege is knowing that even if the Boston Marathon bomber turns out to be white, his or her identity will not result in persons like yourself being singled out for suspicion by law enforcement, or the TSA, or the FBI.

White privilege is knowing that even if the bomber turns out to be white, no one will call for your group to be profiled as terrorists as a result, subjected to special screening, or threatened with deportation.” and could just be classified as a nutbar with a long list of other nutbars who according to him were all ‘white’.

At which point I could barely stop myself rolling my eyes. Demographics, maths or even elementary logic never crossed this threshhold. Look, more than 80% of the US population is ‘white’. If you profile 8 out 10 people… it doesn’t help much. You can’t single 80% for special suspicion. If you try to deport 80% of your population, not only will they laugh at you, but if you succeeded the other 20% would starve. And all of this would apply as much to an Indian bomber in India – where, quelle surprise a large majority of the population is Indian, or in Chinese bomber in China, or a black bomber in Kenya. That’s NOT privilege, or white. If red-heads make 0.6% of the population, and red-heads make up 6% of skin cancer victims, can anyone out there who has passed high school math (or hell, junior school maths) NOT work out that red-heads are 10 times more prone to skin cancer and should be watched for it? Would you call that discrimination against red-heads, or an outbreak of logic and common sense? Or would you demand that your limited resources go to screening even people who have lots of melanin and wear hats from birth? Right. Now if a certain religous sect make 0.6%… Do you, by some bizarre piece of cockroach antennae nerve twitching conclude they’re victims of discrimination?

Mind you it’s not just mathematics he has problems with. Genetics isn’t his strong suite either ‘Muslim decent’. Religion as a heritable trait is a frightening idea even for an SF writer.

When it came to this “And white privilege is knowing that if this bomber turns out to be white, the United States government will not bomb whatever corn field or mountain town or stale suburb from which said bomber came, just to ensure that others like him or her don’t get any ideas.”

I had to either throw up or start laughing. Does anyone in their right mind think that if the bomber came from a village in Nebraska, and the locals refused to co-operate, or allow access, and danced in the street handing out candy to strangers to celebrate, and boasted on the internet about it… they’d get ‘white privilege’?

I thought “No one with a grey cell functioning, let alone having passed junior high maths, can possibly take this seriously. It’s so racist, and so stupid, it’s due for pillory.”

And this why I wonder if I have a future in writing. Because it had at that stage attracted 90 likes – presumably at least mostly from readers. And the last few were authors. One person – moi – actually said it was a load of fetid dingoes kidneys.

I can try to write entertaining stories. I can try to make them accessable. But if this is the audience… teh stupid it burns, and I’m toast.

Please tell me it ain’t so.