Thursday, July 31, 2014

Please Recycle. I Do.

     Sorry I haven't been posting of late, guys. It's not as if I'm not aware of what's going on in the Ukraine and Palestine and, the biggest news of all, Lebron's return to Cleveland and Jon Lester's trade to Oakland. But this revision of Tatterdemalion's still kicking my ass and I still have more than 30,000 words to excise before I can even think of resubmitting it to that agency that'd asked for it last March. If it's any consolation, I haven't invested much time this summer on Twitter, either. These are some of my more noteworthy tweets from the last three weeks.

Friday, July 25, 2014


     ...aka the insatiably curious folks at IP Address
      I know you've been to my place today, specifically at 1:09 EST. I know that you are located not at the USAISC headquarters of Little Rock, Arkanas but at Fort Benning, Georgia, the home of the 101st Airborne (The Screaming Eagles).
     And, if I so chose, I could track your GPS coordinates with such frightening exactitude I could pinpoint your position to within a few inches or at least to the work station you use to spy on me and other bloggers of, apparently, all political stripes. I know: I did it to my ex when she was trolling my blog back in the first half of 2009.
     I do not know how I've suddenly excited your liveliest interest, considering that one day recently I'd garnered all of 98 hits, a small fraction of the traffic I'd enjoyed up until a few years ago. I used to be a B list blogger, one who'd posted several times a day and had an average daily hit count in four figures. Now, I struggle just to get three figures a day.
     But according to one guy who'd noted your IP address at his own site:
     A new scanning program has revealed that Wikipedia entries on the School of the Americas, renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (SOA/WHINSEC) have been edited from an IP address from Fort Benning to omit all references to human rights abuses connected to the school.
     WikiScanner, developed by CalTech graduate student Virgil Griffith, has traced the editorial changes made to the online encyclopedia to Fort Benning computers. The IP address used was Any IP address that begins with 150.226 belongs to Fort Benning. That IP address has the name of, which is via the Directorate of Information Management at Fort Benning.
     The program also revealed that an entry about Fort Benning was altered to delete all mention of SOA Watch. Graduates of the School of the Americas have a documented track record of using the skills they were taught at the SOA/WHINSEC against union organizers, social justice activists, faith leaders and everyone who speaks out for social change and the rights of the poor.
     The School of the Americas is also active against human rights groups within our borders. The school has not only monitored civilian groups and individuals who are working for a just U.S. foreign policy and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC, but they are also using our tax dollars to actively interfere in the political process. Military officials at the SOA/WHINSEC are spreading misinformation to Congress, flooding the media with letters to the editor, and approaching student groups who are planning events on the SOA/WHINSEC to demand access to the campus.
     The SOA/WHINSEC is propagating a mindset that is not in line with the role of the military in a democratic society. In this light, it does not come as a surprise that SOA/WHINSEC instructors who taught "democratic sustainment" at the school from 2003-2004 were arrested earlier this month in Colombia for their involvement in one of Colombia's most notorious drug cartels.  
     In other words, you're engaging in the whiteboarding of history by rewriting Wikipedia entries and seeking the suppression or censorship of any mention to the anti-American and borderline fascist SOA/WHINSEC, which seems to have produced drug lords from within our own Department of Defense a la Gary Webb.
     Further investigation into just this IP Address shows you are attempting to hack into peoples' Google accounts and trolling on a daily basis so-called Family Values blogs screaming about our government's nonexistent "homosexual agenda", including one troubled individual from FreeperLand.
     While my sympathies for those right wing hind leg chewers don't extend much beyond my own nose, I do have to empathize on an abstract level on what is obviously a fascistic mission creep that seeks to chill, expunge, suppress, oppress or otherwise moderate any dialogue, however true or however misguided, aimed at addressing and improving the social fabric. This post is to call you on it and to let you know that there are at least as many black hats as there are white hats (although the rise of the Big Brother state and the good things done by Anonymous are making it increasingly difficult to assign white hats to you and black hats to them).
     You, too, can be tracked, you, too can be traced and your internet travels, including the version of which Operating System you use (Windows 7), what your monitor's resolution is (1680x1050x24) and which browser you use (Firefox 24.0, this time, although you've also used, against all rhyme or reason, IE). I can even determine where you've been today because for a bunch of super spooks, you guys sure suck at covering up your tracks. You leave behind a lot of bread crumbs for others to follow.
     And I'm just an ordinary guy, not even an amateur black hat but one with extraordinary skills of detection who does have indirect access to the black hats you justifiably fear so very, very much.
     It bothers me enough I get hits from staffers of right wing Congressmen who also love to alter Wikipedia. It almost amuses me that now I'm up to at least four hits a day from the DoD Network Information Center Monday through Friday (which, through some rudimentary ratiocination, I've divined is not a spider bot as previously thought but a person as I never seem to get hits on weekends or in the evening, making their recon of my blog a creepily casual 9-5 day job).
     But now I see I'm getting hits from a bunch of redneck fascists who work to subvert and undermine the American democratic system (or what's left of it) and the very first amendment (again, what's left of it), a cybernetic goon squad that not only tries to rewrite history like so many Winston Smiths with equally horrible haircuts who create criminals in the drug trade. Perhaps your craven curiosity has been piqued because of my opposition to the aforementioned fascist mission creep that's predicated on the insane and ultimately self-destructive supposition that America is a nation of 315,000,000 potential criminals and terrorists. If so, you are less than a joke: You are a self-fulfilling prophecy.
     You Fort Benning boys seem to take an unhealthy interest in those who even mention, much oppose, the SOA (The patriotic-sounding School of the Americas). Considering the SOA's history (One strongly tied to Pinochet's Chile and Operation Condor), one can begin to understand the paranoid mindset. On top of whiteboarding Wikipedia and altering history, you've also been suspected of killing American citizens such as 27 year-old Peter Jessup, an experienced climber and hiker who died in 2007 after he supposedly fell off a mountain. Peter, you no doubt remember, was an active and vocal opponent of the School of the Americas and even won an award for his courageous efforts the year before his sudden and untimely death.
     All the same, your sudden interest in me is inexplicable since in nearly a decade of catch-as-catch-can, all purpose blogging across three blogs and guest-posting on many others, I had never once mentioned the SOA/WHINSEC. Well, obviously, all that's changed. Leave it to Uncle Sam to excite curiosity in the very act of trying to suppress it.
     Bottom line: You, too, are being watched. Do not let my low hit count fool you. I am still here after a decade, others know I'm here and you'd be astounded to know who I know. You want to smirk at that, Geek Boy? Then let's have at it. Hit me again and I'll do some Kung Fu that'd make Aaron Swartz weep with envy.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/23/14

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/22/14

Monday, July 21, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/21/14

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville #21

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Good Times at Pottersville, 7/19/14

Sunday, July 13, 2014

World Cup Live Tweeting

     OK, so I'm sure everyone knows it's Argentina vs Germany in the World Cup Final (In Red Sox Nation, that means the other game besides the Red Sox/Houston matchup). A few quick peeks into the Pope's Twitter account shows Francis and Benedict are watching the game together at Frankie's place and the two aren't getting along so well.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Amazon Seriously Needs to Go Fuck Itself, Posthaste

     To those of you who've been paying attention, you know that Hachette, the nation's fourth biggest publisher, is engaged in a battle of wills with over the pricing of ebooks. In fact, I'd written about it last month (not that anyone gave a shit because I'm supposed to be completely ignored as a political pundit, not as a publishing pundit, which I am.).
     Well, the reason why I'm again writing about this two giant tug-o-war with authors and readers in the middle is because of Amazon's newest brilliant proposal: Let's let all Hachette authors keep 100% of the revenue of their ebooks (after we get to cut the price to the bone). Hachette, typically, said No and they were correct in doing so. Here's why:
     Amazon is cynically trying to win over the very authors they've been victimizing since at least last January when their ongoing pissing match with Hachette resulted in missing early ordering buttons and artificially delayed shipping times. This includes JK Rowling and Stephen Colbert, who raked Amazon over the coals on his show for hindering sales of his book.
     Missed by a maddeningly huge segment of the book world is the, one would think, obvious fact they're using the same tactic used time and again by the Republican Party in their so-called good faith "negotiations" with the White House. Throw in a poison pill you know the other guy won't go for and then scream bloody murder about how the other side isn't acting in good faith. Typically, Amazon reacted immediately to Hachette rejecting their latest hare-brained scheme by pissing and moaning, "We call baloney." They also said (hold your hats, folks, because this took some major league douchebaggery), "Hachette is part of a $10 billion global conglomerate," it said. "It wouldn't be 'suicide.' They can afford it."
     Of course, what the corporate sons and daughters of Jeff Bezos elected to delete from the record is the fact that, according to Amazon's NASDAQ filings from last year, they pulled down $74.5 billion last year in total revenue. Considering all their business is done online and they cheap out their own temp workers in their fulfillment centers sweat shops, meaning far lower overhead expenses than a meat world corporation like Hachette, that means a much higher rate of pure profit. Part of that ever-widening profit margin has been skinned off the backs of authors while crowing about how great they are for readers.
     But their pure profit margin notwithstanding, what Amazon also chooses to ignore is the very fact that Hachette ebooks would account for only a small fraction of their bottom line. Amazon controls literally half the book market and 60% of Hachette's book sales. Not that they ever expected Hachette to go along with such an insane scheme of handing 100% of ebook revenue to authors but even if Hachette called their bluff, it certainly wouldn't hurt the larger corporation's bottom line because #1 they can withstand the hit much better than can Hachette and, #2 unlike Hachette, which is a publisher, Amazon's diversified to the point where if you look hard enough you can buy remains of Jimmy Hoffa's skeleton.
     Plus, if Hachette authors get to keep 100% of their revenues, then it'll only take about two nanoseconds before authors of other major publishers will want the same sweet deal. A 100% royalty rate may sound attractive to overrated success stories like Hugh Howey but in the real world it makes for a horrible business model and it's designed purely to pull, pardon the pun, the wool over the eyes of people like Howey.
     But at bottom of this so-called "offer" is Amazon's nakedly pathetic attempt to elicit sympathy for itself by pretending to partner with authors (not the indies, however. No one give a shit how we feel about anything... yet) and penny-pinching consumers while pre-emptively positioning Hachette as the bad guy for saying no this week.
     If Amazon depresses ebook revenue to the point where it's no longer viable for Hachette to continue that format, it's going to hurt authors and, eventually, readers. Without the advance ordering buttons, which largely if not entirely determine the success of unpublished books that'll be another way Amazon will hurt readers and authors alike. And they won't care. Like the planet-consuming megavillain Galactus, they'll just move on to another publisher to victimize and use their enormous market share as leverage.
     And mark my words: They don't wish to use their nuclear option just yet on account of all the bad publicity it's gotten them in the recent past. That nuclear option is, of course, simply deep sixing the publisher's entire catalog altogether. They're loath to use that option since it will finally wake up a lot of people who aren't already clued in as to what a huge, arrogant bully they are. But it's on the table, hidden under a napkin and always will be.
     Again, for clarity's sake: Amazon is a corporation and quite an evil one, at that, in a planet full of such evil corporate entities. As I said in my last post on the subject, profit isn't enough: The ultimate goal is global domination and they're already halfway there. In less than 20 years, they've victimized and alienated their own customers, publishers, authors both traditional and independent, they victimize their own employees (although, technically,. they're low-paid, overworked temps).
     Once more, with feeling: Amazon is not your friend whether you're a customer, a publisher or an author. And corporations as big as Amazon never do anything that would seriously hurt their bottom line out of the goodness of their "hearts", for want of a better word. This is just a PR stunt, shadow boxing between two corporate entities where one just happens to be five times the size of the other.
     I don't have any great love for publishers that still skeeve me and other talented indies. But the Hachette Book Group isn't trying to corner the global market. They're just trying to make a buck, which is the right of every corporation.
     For Amazon, all the money in the world just isn't enough and they will step on the face of anyone who gets in their way and that includes you, Constant Reader.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Open Thread: Hello Kitty edition

     Because only real manly, masculine men like Islamic Front leader Zahran Alloush can get away with using Hello Kitty notebooks.
     Today's Mrs. JP's birthday and we're going to be busy celebrating that, making this one of the most time- and money-consuming times of the year (yesterday was #2 son's birthday, one he unfortunately shares with right wing meatheads Sylvester Stallone and George W. Bush). Anyway, I wanted to let you know that weeds aren't sprouting up between the floorboards at Casa de Pottersville just yet. I'm researching a post about our dreadful, underpublicized practice of... Well, I'll just make you wait until it comes out. I'm not going to spoil the unpleasant surprise. I've got pleasant surprises I have to spring on Mrs. JP.
     So, until then... laterz.

Friday, July 4, 2014

I'm Celebrating Independence Day by Watching INDEPENDENCE DAY

(By Cyril Blubberpuss, Esq.)

     Just today I was telling one of my junior vice presidents as we opened the office (Oh, quit your liberal bellyaching- we only work eight hours on July 4th) that this is one great country.
     Now, granted, I'll admit my patriotism usually peaks on July 4th by watching Independence Day with Will Smith and wishing that Bill Pullman was our president before stuffing pieces of roasted animal carcasses in my mouth. Because, let's face it, that and killing irreplaceable brain cells by swilling alcohol perfectly defines what it means to be an American.
     But to me, Independence Day means more than even that. To me, July 4th was the beginning of the transition between black people and Indians replacing the oppression of white British aristocrats for that of white American oligarchs. And, as a Commie comic once said, "America! What a country!"
     We've outlived the Roman, Greek and Ottoman Empires (although the Ottoman's furniture still, thankfully, endures) and it looks as if there's no end in sight. While I still have to tamp down my gag reflex at having a president who isn't sufficiently white, the numbers don't lie: Wall Street is doing better than ever, the outsourcing of jobs spearheaded by the Chamber of Commerce continues unabated and we're finally tackling the problem of homelessness by criminalizing indigence and charity.
     The homeless spikes, also, are really taking off.
     We're floating like bloated whales on a sea of cash totaling $2,000,000,000,000. Scrooge McDuck? He was a fucking piker. His swimming pool of gold coins is smaller than my hot tub.
     Now, granted, it wasn't all wine and roses. About 80 years ago, some crippled liberal apostate named Roosevelt started fucking shit up by cultivating this unnatural sympathy for the bottom 99%. Less than 30 years after that, another rich liberal named Kennedy started handing out civil rights like Rockefeller tossing dimes to the poor.
     But now we're finding our true north again by returning to our capitalist roots. Do not think for a minute that we're the democratic republic that the politically pious keep telling you. We're a capitalist, oligarchical collection of corporations, always have been and always will be. From the slave-owning cotton merchants who founded this country all the way on down to their descendants who own the tomato and lettuce fields in California, America was never founded with the actual intention of giving inalienable rights to Americans of all walks of life, all races, creeds and religions.
     That's horseshit and you all know it.
     Otherwise, how can you explain us oppressing one minority after another in some white man's round robin tournament of Manifest Destiny and Eminent Domain? First it was the blacks, the Indians, then the land grabs and annexing huge swaths of land from Mexico to bloat the size of Texas, to our persecution of the Catholics. Back in the 60's, Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty. But now, with the rise of real patriots like the Canadian-born Ted Cruz we're finally waging the war we should have been waging all along: A War on the Poverty-Stricken.
     It took us long enough but now we're finally peeling back the misguided liberal bullshit of a century ago that resulted in child labor and antitrust laws, Glass Steagall, bringing back Jim Crow. And, like Glass Steagall, God willing, soon the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts will also be a thing of the past.
     Now, if we can only just do something about all those fags getting married...

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tweets From the Edge

Saturday, June 28, 2014

"For Me, Not For Thee"

"Hey, kid, c'mere. Aren't you glad your mother didn't have you yanked with a coathanger?"
      In the midst of this past week, with the fundraising drive to mitigate our financial circumstances, getting my three ebooks ready for the relaunch, the interview, editing Tatterdemalion, and attending to thousands of details that make up modern life, I neglected to write about the one big story that directly affected my adopted state of Massachusetts. Actually, there were two, the other being Gov Deval Patrick signing into law a bill raising the minimum wage to $11 ph by 2017, which would be the highest in the nation.
     But this is about the Supreme Court's recent 9-0 decision to essentially evaporate the 35 foot buffer zone around family planning centers in Massachusetts that were created seven years ago, giving evangelical bozos unrestricted access to women seeking family planning services. What makes this ruling even more depressing is that the so-called liberals on the court, including the three women that make up a third of the High Court, sided with the reliably right wing nut jobs in this issue.
     This is the same judicial body, don't forget, that 20 years ago had supported buffer zones around abortion clinics. In fact,
Buffer zones exist in numerous states — the newest, in New Hampshire, takes effect next month and specifies a 25-foot zone — and have often been controversial. Others also have made their way to the Supreme Court. In 1994, the justices upheld a buffer zone for abortion clinics in Florida. Three years later, they upheld a 15-foot buffer zone around the entrances of abortion facilities in New York state but struck a 15-foot floating zone.
     This is the same court that was led by William Rehnquist, don't forget, and had on its bench Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy. But having all nine justices agree that the Massachusetts buffer zone that had somewhat protected women from right wing harassment violated the First Amendment (even if they were split as to how) is a huge disappointment.
     It ought to be noted the SCOTUS benefits from a rigidly enforced 300 foot buffer zone protecting them from the distant din of protesters of both political stripes, which is perfectly in keeping of right wingers and One Percenters who have no problem not living under the same rules as the rest of us.
A yellow line is painted on the sidewalk and pavement surrounding Planned Parenthood Clinics at 1055 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, Jan. 15, 2014.
     It appears as if all nine justices, especially the five right wingers, need a refresher course as to what free speech really means. Thirteen years before the buffer zones were erected, an anti abortion lunatic named John Salvi (who later committed suicide in prison) shot to death 22 year-old Shannon Lowney, who was merely the receptionist who'd opened the doors at a Brookline Planned Parenthood and didn't directly participate in any of the procedures. Salvi and his fellow lunatics had unanimously declared Lowney "Public Enemy #1" and the girl lost her life just for opening a door.
     I guess free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment isn't good enough. You have to be able to lay your hands on these women, scream in their faces what murderers they are and to strip them of their last vestige of dignity, safety and privacy (which is what Roe vs Wade was all about) and to even threaten their lives in their insane quest for the sanctity of life. Of course, they pushed before the court a sweet-looking grandmotherly type who bemoaned the fact that she couldn't spread like milk and honey her message of love.
     Because these Protestant Pennywhistles knew better than to be repped by another maniac like John Salvi, who was so mentally deranged by the time of his suicide he was convinced liberals were poisoning his food.
     The Rude One had a pretty good idea a couple of days ago: Since the SCOTUS had essentially abolished buffer zones for women seeking family planning counseling and services, let's troll them at church, starting with their headquarters at their church in nearby Grafton. Let's block their entry into their church, mock them for their Sky Wizard, shove atheist literature in their faces. Because, fuck, tit for fucking tat, as the Rude One would say.
     After all, you never see pro-choice folks blowing up churches and killing their docents and priests. Isn't free speech free for everyone and not just one narrow faction so twisted up in intolerance and hatred that they inevitably turn to murder and violence?

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fucking Off at Pottersville

     If you have a stats checker as I do, it can give you a rough or limited idea of the internet habits of those who work in the government sector. As I've written of late, I've taken to tracking who comes to Pottersville either through a search engine or, as in yesterday's case, another site to which I've been linked. And sometimes, some of the results have been surprising.
     The ones that actually interest me the most are the ones I get from the academic world. I've recently gotten hits, some of them regular readers, from Texas A&M, Iowa State, Rutgers, University of Nebraska, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Auburn and even some Ivy League universities such as Cornell, Princeton, etc. Naturally, I have no idea how many of these hits are from the faculty and which ones from the student body.
     But the second-most interesting hits come from the government itself. Among the hits of late, some by way of Crooks and Liars and the Rude Pundit, are:
     The US House of Representatives
     The DoD Network Information Center (at least three hits a day, probably from a spider bot looking for flagged words)
     The Defense Intelligence Agency
    The National Archives
    Really, I guess I should be grateful for any legitimate traffic that comes my way as long as it doesn't come from the CIA, FBI or the NSA. But, c'mon, guys, you're doing the nation's work. At least try to cover your tracks a little better.
    Maybe later on, I'll start listing the companies that also come here, like Charles Schwabb, Google and Microsoft...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Book Promotion


      Oh, one more thing before I forget:
      Over a month and a half ago, I was interviewed via email by Florida-based thriller novelist and Twitter follower Marcia Meara. Yesterday, the interview went live and, as these past two days have been rather hectic at Casa de Pottersville, I'd neglected to tell you you can find the interview here.
     Part of the reason it was so hectic these past couple of days is because I wanted to coordinate the interview with a book promo (or more like a relaunch) I'm doing for all three of my books, American Zen, The Toy Cop and the Misanthrope's Manual. For some reason, I had June 28th on the brain and I thought the interview would go live later than it had so I had to do some fancy footwork and discount all three books in time for the interview.
     So, for a limited time (from now to July 31st), my two novels will be on sale on Kindle for $1.99 each and the dictionary will go for .99¢. Considering American Zen is 150,000 words long and The Toy Cop a heftier 175,000 words, that's some pretty inexpensive entertainment. And, at 120 pages, the Misanthrope's Manual would cost far under a penny a page. If you ask me, I think that's a pretty good deal.
     Also, while I can't do anything about the pricing, physical copies of all three of these books can be had here, here and here if you don't have or like Kindles. I'm currently investigating the possibility of putting them on Smashwords and other platforms.

Cavuto Completely Loses it on Michele Bachmann

     There's something morbidly delightful about seeing right wingers eating their own. It brings to mind snake cults like Set, with the snake consuming itself with its tail in its mouth. or Paul Krendler being fed his own brains by Hannibal Lecter. And, to paraphrase the inimitable Egberto Willies, when you've lost Fox "News", you done lost middle 'Murrica.
     Mind you, now, this is Neil Cavuto we're talking about here, not some deer-in-the-headlights "liberal" wondering what the fuck he's doing on a Fox sound stage. This isn't Shep Smith or Alan Colmes or The Five's Bob Beckel. This is the creator, says Jon Stewart, of "the Cavuto Mark", the punctuation mark that isn't quite a question mark but nonetheless finds itself shat out the end of an irresponsible inquiry like an interrupted dog turd.
     In other words, kiddies, we're not talking about some fire-breathing liberal like Rachel Maddow here.
     So, it was with particular glee to be treated to the sight yesterday of Cavuto verbally body slam Michele Bachmann (R-Land of 1000 Lakes and the 1000 Yard Stare) back onto the lame couch from which she'd valiantly tried to struggle. It was all about Jon Boehner's hare-brained scheme to take the President to court over, get this, exercising his presidential prerogative to issue Executive Orders.
     You know, those little memos the President sometimes issues, like the 381 President Reagan issued between 1981-1989 and the 291 by Bush II. In fact, the current Chief Executive has handed down fewer Executive Orders than any president in our lifetimes, or 168 in his first five and a half years in office. To put that in more concrete terms, President Reagan created an Executive Order about once a week, whereas President Obama averages an Executive Order about once every 11 days.
     Not exactly the kind of unilateral decision-making process one would come to expect from a Banana Republic strong man the Republicans have been trying to paint him as since 2009 (Like the one FDR was when he'd issued 3522 during his 12 years in office).
     Undeterred, the House Speaker will sally forth with his lawsuit and he'll, uh, let us know exactly which laws the President has broken. Yeah, there's that pesky little matter first. The Republican House leadership is absolutely convinced Mr. Obama has violated the Constitution somehow. We know it in our guts. We just don't know precisely how he'd done it. But a lawsuit feels right.
     Into the fray sails Michele Bachmann, fully expecting to be lobbed one helpful underhanded softball after another by Neil Cavuto and instead found herself the target of a batting practice pitching machine set to 200 mph.
     Cavuto started out by asking Bachmann what the GOP is thinking in taking the president to court for exercising his presidential prerogatives when there were so many bigger things in this country to fix (Obviously, repealing ObamaCare was on the tip of his tongue but he chose not to go there). Bachmann began her usual blathering, conflating this with that, looking like a frustrated circus chimp trying to pound a square peg into a round hole in a laboratory.
     By the end of this four minute segment, Cavuto was so exasperated with Bachmann, he was practically screaming like a banshee with its tit caught in a wringer and said twice, "ROME IS BURNING."
     Which, of course, it is.
     Cavuto didn't go as far as claiming this was a partisan exercise, some substitute for leadership by way of Republican Kabuki Theater just before an unusually important midterm in which the President's entire agenda both foreign and domestic is on the line and non-Nate Silvers have been unctuously and confidently prognosticating for months the GOP will take both chambers despite a 7% Congressional approval rating.
     Poor Michele the Merciless didn't know what hit her and Cavuto laid into her with one body and head shot after another, not letting Bachmann finish her typically vapid talking points. Even better, it was delivered with a viciousness you'll never see from the ladylike Ms. Maddow or the more measured and methodical Lawrence O'Donnell.
     This was Fox "News", since 1996 the cheerleader for the GOP. And now poor pompom-waving bastards like Neil Cavuto has to deal with the teabagger Frankensteins they largely help create now that they're staggering into the Arctic wasteland and dragging America with them. By the end of the segment, this was essentially what we were seeing:

     Reap the whirlwind, motherfuckers.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bury the Hachette and Jeff Bezos, While We're at it

     Those of you who've stuck with me since the beginning of this blog in July 2008 are well aware this is mainly a political/social blog and not one dedicated to the publishing business (I had a blog for that but it never took off). But I often do write about the unimaginable evil in today's corporations in this 21st century of ours. And the standoff between the Hachette Book Group and is something that strikes near and dear to my heart because as well as being a political/social commentator, I'm also an independent author.
     Now, for those of you who are aware of things taking place during my so-called writing career (although it may be fairer to say, what's not going on in it), you'll know at least the abstracts of how I feel about Amazon. I loathe and despise with a screaming, unholy passion despite them publishing three of my books. Their crappy Kindle platform is purely a mercenary operation, one of a two-pronged attempt (the other being the even crappier Create Space) to corner the publishing aspect of the book business, since they've already essentially cornered the distribution and online sales market. When they publish my or your books, they're not doing you any favors. You're merely an afterthought, an ancillary concern at best.
     So, when I'd read about their ongoing war with the Hachette Book Group and at how they're essentially sabotaging their ability to sell their titles on Amazon's monopolistic website, I almost yawned. For years now, Amazon's been using their bully pulpit to strongarm publishers into giving the deep-cutting discounts they feel they deserve and have come to expect. But in this particular case, Amazon's been showing how nasty they truly are:
     Essentially, they're demanding Hachette has to buy early ordering buttons and timely shipping times through those discounts they're demanding, discounts that are so drastic, they're noticeably impacting on Hachette's bottom line. And until Hachette heels to, the early order buttons will stay gone, shipping times will be artificially delayed and customers will be given incredibly inappropriate recommendations by other publishers, i.e. Hachette's competitors. The next step, obviously, a hole card they've used in the past, is to disappear their entire catalog altogether.
     Amazon's public position is, "Readers love the deeply discounted books and we're doing this for them!" In reality, it's nothing as Altrustically noble as that, just a PR fig leaf intended to position themselves as the good guys, the poor victims (although it's hard to see how Amazon reasonably expected anyone to see their monopoly as a victim in anything). In fact, it's quite the contrary, something Ayn Rand would've publicly applauded. Because Amazon's private position is, "There are plenty of fish in the sea (meaning publishers) and while we may be hurting our bottom line a little bit, we're hurting their bottom line a lot more."
     It's kind of like allowing yourself to suffer a non-fatal gunshot wound in order to kill the bad guy behind them with a head shot.
     Except, while I have no love nor loyalty for them, Hachette's not the bad guy here. Being a corporate entity, they're just looking out for their bottom line like any other company. Hachette's not the monopoly thumbing its nose at antitrust laws and allowed to run afoul of them while the impotent Federal Trade Commission looks on. The business of business is business, as I always say, and what's so bad about a corporation such as Hachette Book Group wanting to maintain a fair profit margin?
     But Amazon is doing more than just that. Their goal, obviously, is to own and control everything, including, as I'd said above, the sales, distribution and publication of books. Maintaining a healthy bottom line isn't nearly enough. In fact, when you get as big as Amazon, it's just the beginning. And it isn't enough that you succeed. Everyone else must fail or get bought out.
     So, this is old hat. or you would think. You baseball fans out there may remember the MLB strike 20 years ago in which Montreal's bid for the World Series and the late Tony Gwynn's chase for a .400 batting average were cut short when billionaires went to war with millionaires and fans were caught in the middle. While we may have eventually sided with the players, there wasn't much sympathy to be had for either from Joe Lunchpail.
     Ergo, in some ways, we're seeing the same here: Billionaire Jeff Bezos, taking a break from playing the bored rich man salvaging shipwrecks from his luxury ocean liner, is waging war on the millionaire executives at the Hachette Book Group and Grand Central Publishing, with readers, typically, caught in the middle.
     And what brought me into the fray, albeit briefly, is a question someone had asked yesterday. In a particularly condescending piece of tripe from Melville House, Dennis Johnson asked, Should Self-Published authors side with Hachette?
     My short answer is, Why should we? We don't have a dog in the fight and since when do the Powers That Be in the publishing world give a flying rat fuck what we think?
     The real answer, the long one, is more nuanced and deserves some unpacking.
     First off, the indie author reading this piece is tempted to hit the backspace button when Johnson says (emphasis mine),
It’s bittersweet stuff, but her most recent column — regarding the Hachette – Amazon standoff — is, to this publisher, not only notably insightful, but dares to say things publishing commentators have been understandably timid to discuss.  That is, she has the nerve to discuss the role of the so-called “independent writers” — and to depict them as perhaps independent only of reason.
Note that Miller isn’t the first to dare to speak about vanity press authors critically — last year Andrew Franklin, head of the terrific UK indie Profile Books famously declared “The overwhelming majority [of self-published books] are terrible — unutterable rubbish. They don’t enhance anything in the world.”
     Excuse me? Vanity Press? Amazon's Kindle and Create Space programs are a lot of things but "vanity presses" (aka subsidy publishers) aren't among them. Same goes for Kobo, Smashwords, LuLu and other outlets for indie authors.
     Writers, especially we independent authors, are like human schefflera or ficus plants- We can and will endure and perhaps even thrive even if we're neglected. Technically, whether we're talking desk top publishing or self publication through a corporate entity such as (Which, again, is no friend of yours whether you're a reader, author, employee or publisher. Its only friends are their top executives and shareholders), we're all micropublishers trying to put our product and brand out there like so many microbrewers.
     And while Miller may be incidentally correct in saying some indie writers hate traditional publishing with a vengeance, it's the height of arrogance to assume and to tell us that all indie authors loath tradpub. That's simply not true and I'm one case. Just as virtually every rock'n'roll group's goal is to sign with a legit record label, the ultimate goal of virtually any independent author is to sign with a traditional publisher. Regardless of what some may say outwardly, they still yearn to be part of the establishment.
    So, fuck you, Ms. Miller, but you don't speak for us all.
    No more than Amazon speaks for all its authors and customers. Even if Amazon hadn't banned me for life across all their domains, I'd still revile them with a burning passion just based on their treatment of their own customers, authors both trad and indie, their temp workers all the way up to the Five Big Houses. Amazon's cynically using their customers (We, the Readers) and Hachette authors as human shields much in the same way the GOP uses workers, veterans and unemployed workers as a way to cudgel the Democrats, in a despicable and transparent show of fake empathy.
     When Amazon bleats its usual corporate spiel about forcing lower wholesale prices from publishers so we can pass on the savings to you, the customer, I hear Wal-Mart almost in the foreground. Isn't that how Wal-Mart became the top retailer in the world and the #1 private employer in the nation? By having sweat shops make cheaper and cheaper goods, paying their workers poverty wages and passing the savings onto you, the customer?
     And look at how reviled Wal-Mart is now.
     So when will it be Amazon's turn?
     Look, traditional publishers like Hachette don't give a fuck what you have to say or if you take their side in this latest millionaire vs billionaire battle. If they actually gave two shits about you, they'd be looking at or publishing your Great American Novel.
     But they don't give a shit because you're just angry, frustrated, second rate scum to them and they will never even invite you to the kiddie table.
     But publishers are still honestly trying to learn how to strike a deal that works best for all parties concerned in what is still, 18 years after Amazon's founding, a very volatile and Protean business. While consolidation and mergers are a reality of the business and always will be until all print publishing is just one gigantic conglomerate while the FTC continues impotently looking on, they are not the monopoly. Amazon is and they are the Wal-Mart of the online retail world.
     People like Miller are telling us indie authors we should cynically support traditional publishing even if only because their higher prices make our work look more desirable, at least as far as price points go. But that's not going to happen until and unless readers as independent as independent writers are willing to dive headfirst into the slush pile that traditional publishers nor literary agencies dare not tread and to start seriously separating the wheat from the chaff and supporting those worthy of support.
     And that necessarily involves skeeving both traditional publishing and Amazon.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Hitting the Wall

     Well, I guess this is it, then.
     It won't even be worth putting the air conditioner in the bedroom window because, barring a miracle, it looks as if we'll be evicted during the summer.
     I'm sorry I was such a burden and a constant aggravation to my regular and former readers as well as the one-timers who surf in once and leave. It seems if I stay in any one person's life long enough, I wind up alienating them for a bewilderingly eclectic variety of reasons. Why should the political blogosphere of which I've been a part for going on a decade be any exception?
     Yesterday, I'd made a direct appeal to 129 current and former contributors to Pottersville over the years whom I thought would be the likeliest to help us out this month. With one exception, everyone had ignored my plea. The public appeals I've been making here and on Twitter this past week have hardly been more successful. And it seems we've lost our second, and final, big benefactor, someone who's been more than generous with us these past couple of years. And, without that particular person, we are truly screwed.
     So it looks as if we've finally hit that dreaded wall. It's not as if I didn't know this day would come. It's a miracle that people hadn't turned their backs on us sooner. And you have to try to understand how much I'd cringe inwardly, if not outwardly, every time I'd made a public or private appeal. I know what it's like: My middling acts of charity in the past have earned me more begs from those same organizations as well as having my contact information sold to other charity organizations so it seems as if I've been put on everyone's hit list. Feeding stray dogs and all.
     But I would not have been such a pain in the ass if I didn't have a fiancee and a cat to worry about. The prospect of living in a shelter is one no one ever relishes. I know- I've been there twice before. But even if there was a shelter in our locality (and there isn't), I still have Popeye to worry about. I know of nobody who can take him in.
     I defy you to tell me you would've done things differently if you were in my place, if you had someone completely dependent on you to satisfy their every need because you said over five years ago that you could do it then failed to establish self-sufficiency.
     Neither Mrs. JP nor I lost our last jobs through any fault of our own. We didn't want to live on food stamps these past three plus years nor have our applications for the Affordable Care Act get lost in a bureaucratic maze of paperwork months after submitting them. And it's not our fault we're both in our mid-late 50's and that no one in this youth-obsessed country wants to hire people our age.
     Yet, regardless of my having a girlfriend and a cat to care for and the tremendous pressure I live with day in and day out to keep this household running and viable, to keep the lights and gas on, food in the pantry, the car on the road, keeping a roof over our heads, I still haven't the right to make my problems yours.
     And for that, you have my deepest and most profound apologies. These past five plus years, applications and resumes have been dropping into the black hole of apathy and ageism. I haven't sold a single copy of any of my books in over a month. Literary agents and editors still treat me as if I'm a gnat in their ear and I've finally reached the point where I can say with absolute authority that I am now officially expendable and I've reached the end of my value to anybody and anything like a once-used Kleenex.
     I don't know how this happened. Piss poor prior planning, as Mrs. JP says, doesn't explain it all because who knew we'd live in a country where once a person hits 50 they stand virtually zero chance of getting a job or that credit background checks would become standard in the hiring process? My Dad told me years ago if I worked hard and paid cash for everything and didn't live beyond my means, I'd be OK and I believed him. Why shouldn't I have? He was my Dad.
     As contentious as our relationship has been these past 34 years or so, I began thinking about what had happened to him in the early 90's, when Digital had laid him off. He'd been with them for 15 years then got fired after rising to the level of Project Manager. He'd put 20 honorable years in the USAF then went right to work for DEC. He'd done everything he was supposed to do, was trained to do, and he got a swift kick in the ass when Ken Olsen decided to call it quits and sell out to Intel.
     Then, in an inverse revelation in that Harry Chapin song, I realized I'd turned into my father. We were both failures and after playing by the rules that had been drummed into our heads when we were young men. So I wrote to him last year and told him that. He didn't answer me back, of course, but I still wanted to let him know that he'd sent me out into the world in 1978 with sound ideas and advice. It's the world that's no longer sound.
     So, bottom line, I don't know where we'll end up after this summer but where ever that is and if I never find my way online again, please know that I have each and every one of you in my thoughts (some a little more than others and you know who you are). I am so sorry to have to been a burden on you these past five years. And I wouldn't have too regularly dumped my problems in your laps if I didn't have extraordinary responsibilities to others to fulfill with so little to honor them with.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Top 10 Suggestions That Should be Made by the North Carolina Black Advisory Board

     Yesterday, the Republican National Committee announced it was forming a Black Advisory Board in North Carolina. Chairman Reince Priebus said, “We are fortunate to have this accomplished group of leaders to help guide our engagement efforts in North Carolina. Their knowledge and roots in black communities across the state will be invaluable as we share our message of empowerment and expanding access to the American Dream.” However, just last February, that same state passed one of the most restrictive voter ID laws in the nation in light of the Supreme Court essentially gutting the Voting Rights Act of 1965, a law that seems to target African American voters. Once the Black Advisory Board is formed, what are some of the suggestions they can put to the RNC?

  • 10) Getting Don Yelton on The Daily Show at least once a week.
  • 9) Having more than one voting machine for every 100,000 black voters would be really nice.
  • 8) Plantation-themed Election Days in black districts may not be such a good idea.
  • 7) Muzzled attack dogs? Just an idea.
  • 6) DNA test on black voters to determine any evidence of Caucasian ancestry may not be cost-effective.
  • 5) Suspension of loyalty oath to uphold ideals of the Confederacy and the abolition of the 13th Amendment.
  • 4) Fliers sent to African American voters to please stop laughing when we ask them to vote for Republican candidates.
  • 3) Black Advisory Board shouldn't need to take Underground Railroad to convene meetings.
  • 2) Seriously. Make them stop laughing at us.
  • 1) Return of a civics test may be counterproductive when it's shown Tea Party voters will get the lowest scores.
    (Editor's note: Mrs. JP and I are not out of the woods, yet, and still need some assistance to help keep us indoors through the summer. Please consider donating what you can.)
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