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Anybody can find fault

28 Aug

Anybody can find fault.  Fault doesn’t seem to get lost very often, and it usually doesn’t really hide that well either.  Sooner or later, fault always comes marching out, demanding to be recognized by someone, anyone, guilty or innocent.

But there sure are a lot of people who devote their lives to seeking out something that never was lost to begin with.  Why are so many people absolutely thrilled to find those faults and be the first (or even among the hundreds) to point out those faults so that everyone knows that they spotted them and recognized them.

Like get a life, dude.  (Or dudette!)

You don’t need a degree or any special training or even to be above average in intelligence (or anything else) to find those faults that weren’t really hiding.  These internet trolls that seem to delight in exposing each and every flaw and then dissecting it with minute attention to detail seriously have some issues.  Above all, they remind me of chickens.

I’m not being a smart alec about that.  Seriously, they do act like chickens.  I realize that most of America has never been intimately acquainted with chickens.  For many people, their closest exposure has been at a petting zoo or even just a news clip on television.  In reality, there’s nothing cute about a flock of chickens, especially if they have decided that they don’t like one of their flock mates.

It’s horrifying to see what they will do then.  They will literally, over a period of time, peck that chicken to death, while also driving it away from food and water and otherwise making their lives as miserable as possible.  It isn’t all of the chickens in the flock that do this, just a handful out of the group participating in this “troll” behavior is enough to result in the pecked chicken’s death.

Hence the expression of “henpecked” that we have often heard used to refer to a husband who is being micromanaged by his wife to an oppressive degree.

Sure, there are lots of theories about why these chickens will do this.  Usually, overcrowding and other stress factors will get the behavior started.  It can happen in free range chickens, but it’s far less common.  As a country person would say, “once in a blue moon.”  In confined and crowded conditions, even when the chickens have the recommended space and ability to go outdoors into the sunshine, it can really get started though.  The more stress and crowding, the more the behavior shows up.

Maybe mankind is just like a flock of chickens.  We’re getting more crowded and stressed, and we’re seeing more outbreaks of “troll” behavior.  On occasion, this behavior accelerates and becomes violent rather than just verbal (or written) attacks.  When this happens, the usual cry is to restrict access to potential weapons.

Gun control isn’t going to change the behavior, folks.  Chickens commit homicide regularly, and have never figured out how to use firearms.  I have a gun and have had guns most of my life, yet I have not committed murder, nor even shot at anyone.

I have worked armed positions in my lifetime.  I’ve also been threatened with a gun on more than one occasion, although not while working.  Usually, the threat was by a police officer of some kind.  Was the threat warranted? No, I wasn’t armed, wasn’t threatening the officer, was not committing a crime, and usually had no idea what was going on or why I had a gun in my face.  Each time, it turned out to be some kind of mistake, quickly resolved, and I was not handcuffed or arrested.

I must have some caveman DNA floating around and connected to my violent genes.  My weapon of choice has always been throwing rocks.  I’m pretty good at chucking them too or was before I got hurt.  Southern Mississippi, however, is starved for rocks.  Our rocks have to be imported from elsewhere.  I guess that’s why I haven’t done any rock chucking in a long time.

But I digress…

This troll behavior is an indicator of a deeper problem or fault in our society, one that we need to address.  It’s just as real as any tectonic plate’s fault on our planet’s crust, and indicative of an equally deep flaw in our society.  Fault in this sense is a very real concept regarding what is happening today.  This fault is an early sign of henpecking that can and eventually will turn homicidal in some individuals.  Granted, not all of these individuals will ever become physically violent in person.  Many of them may be too intimidated in person to even say “boo!” to a stranger, let alone become verbally confrontational.  Even so, they feel that they have the right to do so, often in very unpleasant ways, on the internet.

I’m not sure that the spirit of the right to free speech includes the right to say things just to hurt other people, whether it is merely an emotional hurt or any other kind of hurt, even if it is commentary based on truth.  I certainly do not think that condoning troll behavior and allowing them to surf the cyber world in search of fault which they can then use as their war cry as they begin yet another flaming attack on some unwitting soul.

Do I think I would turn homicidal? Not with the current level of stress and crowding, but I know that even I have certain points where I may well rationalize violent behavior if I am honest about myself.  Remember, the word stress is just another word for stimuli.  Breaking into my house when I am home is going to qualify as a stress.  So is attacking a family member.  Heck, even attacking my dogs is a stressor!  I also tend to get rather confrontational if I feel my home turf (aka house and yard) is being intruded upon, something I came to grips with last year when a neighbor’s dog tried to claim our backyard as his personal turf.

We have to find new ways of adapting to living in smaller spaces, to working closely with others, to living closely with them.  We have to identify individuals that have reached that magic red line that defines when they are going to become violent, and then come up with appropriate intervention.  All of that without causing new stress by stripping away personal freedoms and rights.

It’s a tall order, but the end result is worthwhile.  It means creating a society that encourages supportive and nurturing behavior rather than glorifying confrontational and violent behavior.  It means doing away, worldwide, with the concept of war too.  It means creating a worldwide society that encourages growth, on each and every level, as well as celebrating diversity and individualism.

Yeah, I know—it sounds like Utopia.

It really is Utopia, I suppose.  It’s not impossible  though.  Gene Roddenberry  dreamed of it with his Star Trek world.  I’m not the only dreamer.  The world just needs a lot more dreamers, a lot more people who are willing to ostracize and discourage those who want to be trolls, and willing to encourage people to be something they all possess the ability to be.

With a heart.

Maybe we need to remind everyone of our mothers’ old adage while we’re at it.

“If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Don’t forget to visit our new location for this blog at www.exogenynetwork.com!

Dear Troll, a letter to internet trolls

27 Aug

Dear Troll,

I know that you enjoy cruising the cyber universe to deposit your droppings of wisdom on everything from news to reviews.  You probably don’t care if you hurt others, but for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to pretend that you do.

My sanity has had a precarious hold lately.

Oh I know it’s not your fault.  You haven’t attacked me directly.  That is much too direct and confrontational for your tastes.  You would not dream of looking at your victim in the eye and behaving that way.   It is only on the internet that you feel so brave and faultless.  The truth is, you are the kind of coward that makes me fear the future of humanity.

To put it in language that even a troll can understand, here it goes…

Troll, you are a lily livered chickenshit yellow backed prick without the manners of a herd of hogs at a hog trough.  You don’t care who you hurt, as long as you are the very first hog that wallows in that trough of delicious destruction.

You are the very lowest of mankind, and I am ashamed to be from the same species as you.  In fact, your continued existence is the only reason I am sincerely hoping that I am really an alien hybrid resulting from my mother being kidnapped and inseminated with alien sperm.

Okay, that would horrify my mother too.  But seriously, I’d not mind finding out that I was not really from the same species.

These trolls are appearing everywhere, and now, with the continued spiraling out of control of governments and religions warring on the innocent, I am half-convinced that trolls are taken over military and governments across the globe.

Once upon a time, the country of Israel was created to create a homeland for Jews.  Now, we need to create a country, I guess we’d call it dungeon since Trolls are supposed to like dark and dank places anyhow, just for the world’s trolls.  There, they could snipe and find fault with each other, and do whatever else keeps trolls happy.  I have no idea if they reproduce or not.

Some things, I just don’t want to actually think about.

Like troll sex.

Spelling counts

16 Jul

No, it’s not some new hybridization of spelling and mathematics in the latest educational fad.

Despite that, spelling can count and is more likely to count against the independent or self-published authors we see prolifically producing non-fiction digital books in the explosion of titles we see, especially on Amazon.

I’m a self-published author, and I’ve had my moments with typos and misspelled words slipping through the editing process.  That’s not a good thing, when it is missed until readers catch them and get the giggles over soaking biscuits in a bear instead of beer.

Yep, that was my most infamous “oops” moment. Embarrassing, but humorous, right?

It’s not always humorous.

Sometimes, it’s just plain a road sign indicating awful ahead, especially when it is in the title or the description of the book.  I wish it was rare, but start scanning through the lists of low cost non-fiction digital edition of books, and guess what?

It’s a lot more common than it should be.

Sometimes, what we first perceive as a misspelling turns out to be a case of different dialect–American English spells things differently on occasion, like with color-colour.  We can get over that, even when the book is being marketed to the American audience.  Most Americans are capable of understanding even with the difference in spelling.

I am also aggravated by is profiles for social media.  These are short pieces and I’m referring to the pieces written in connection with the promotion of the book(s) an author is written.  Sometimes, the authors are NOT self-published, and yet have glaring errors in their profile because they didn’t particularly regard it as important.  

Bullshit.

These short profiles, like are used on Twitter, are very important.  Leaving typos and misspelled words in those short profiles is potentially more damaging than showing up drunk and in your underwear to a public book signing!

Surely not, you think?

Surely yes, they are!  Thousands of people see those profiles, whether you are aware of them or not.  With that poor profile, you are telling each one of them that you don’t regard that glance as important.  They may think you are as careless in your writing as you were with the profile you wrote too.

No, that short profile is not going to be the best example of your writing–it’s seriously short, like the posts on Twitter, and everyone is trying to cram in as much information as possible while remaining coherent.  The same thing with the other profiles that one sprinkles around the internet, from LinkedIn, About.me, Facebook, Pinterest, Skype, instant message profiles, etc.

Proofread it.  Not just when you write it, but go back again.  Update it periodically, how often depends on how much change is occurring in your life or with regards to your writing.  Choose a day, whether the first Sunday or the seventeenth day of the month, when you take a look at each and every profile, tweaking them as necessary.

On your book titles, especially on the cover art, just plain pay attention!  If you are an uncertain speller, double check each word.  Ultimately, it is YOUR responsibility, not the artist, editor, or even publisher, to make sure that your name is not associated with a misspelled title.  A misspelled title on the cover is going to cost you credibility and respectability in a way that is difficult to recover from because as a non-fiction author, you are presenting yourself as an expert on the topic.

What expert cannot even spell the name of their area of expertise?

In your book description, spelling also critical.  Far more people are going to read the back cover and catalog description than will ever read your book, and that is a cold hard fact.  This is true of both non-fiction and fiction books as well.  It’s often your one opportunity to convince that person that reading your book is the most important thing they have to do in the near future, and as a result, buy your book.

To illustrate this, I’m going to write a description of my own latest book and leave in common misspellings and typos.  Then, I’ll show the difference by writing it properly.

The Big Book of A-Z Muffisn is a colletcion of recpies to make muffins.  EAch lettre of the alhpabet has been used, with a divers assotrment of receipis that are sure to temtp our appetie and make every body smile weather its brakefast or super.  They are all eazy to make to! Fast, they go from ovne to tabel in half an our or less, and with a choise betwen savory or sweat, tehy can be great snacks or deserts too.  The recipes are ritton with eazy direcktions that you are shure to be abel to foller, even if you are a novise in the kitchin.  Experenced backers are also going to injoy making these simple recpies.

Now while that has an exagerated number of typos and misspelled words, it does show that it’s not only hard to read, but is not even humorous so much as embarrassing.  The reader can’t help but feel sorry for the writer while simultaneously (and probably correctly) assuming that the interior of the book will be as horrific of an experience to try and enjoy.

The Big Book of A-Z Muffins is a collection of recipes to make muffins.  Each letter of the alphabet has been used, with a divers assortment of receipts that are sure to tempt our appetite and make every body smile weather its breakfast or super.  They are all easy to make to! Fast, they go from ovne to table in half an our or less, and with a choice between savory or sweat, tehy can be great snacks or desserts too.  The recipes are written with easy directions that you are sure to be able to follow, even if you are a novice in the kitchen.  Experienced bakers are also going to enjoy making these simple recipes.

This one isn’t so bad, but it isn’t perfect either.  With just two typos, and a couple of cases of the wrong word spelled right, it may slip past the casual reader unnoticed, but the critical reader isn’t going to miss “divers” instead of “diverse” or “sweat” instead of “sweet”, even if they could forgive the typos that still remain.  (Yes, I know there are  more wrong word issues, but we’ll get to that…)

The Big Book of A-Z Muffins is a collection of recipes to make muffins.  Each letter of the alphabet has been used, with a diverse assortment of receipts that are sure to tempt our appetite and make every body smile whether its breakfast or supper.  They are all easy to make too! Fast, they go from oven to table in half an hour or less, and with a choice between savory or sweet, they can be great snacks or desserts too.  The recipes are written with easy directions that you are sure to be able to follow, even if you are a novice in the kitchen.  Experienced bakers are also going to enjoy making these simple recipes.

I hope you can see the difference in the level of credibility that each one has.  Presenting myself as an expert on the topic of muffin baking, it is equally important that I be able to spell the words that pertain to the topic, as well as proofread the material well enough to know that weather is not the same as whether, desert is a far different thing than dessert, etc.

  1. Pay attention.
  2. Use spell check.
  3. Proof read it again.
  4. Have someone else proof read it, even if it’s just a friend who skims over it!
  5. Read it yourself again, and then look at it periodically to make sure it doesn’t need a bit of tweaking to improve it.
  6. Profiles, cover art titles, and descriptions are your billboards.  Take them seriously.

If I’ve missed something you think is important, please comment to add it to the post!

Social media & politics

12 Oct

I have been seeing a lot of political commentary posted to Facebook, as well as receiving a fair amount of political based commentary on things I post to my timeline. It’s made me realize something.

A lot of people are pretty clueless about how our political system works, not that I’m an expert on it.

Many people truly do not understand that the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) was not passed by the President. Presidents cannot legislate, so unless it was an executive order, he cannot be the one responsible. The ones responsible are the senators and representatives in Congress who passed it. The only direct action on that health care bill that was an option for the president was to veto it when it landed on his desk afterwards.

The government shut down was not orchestrated by the president either. That was the direct result of Congress’ inability to compromise on a budget. They knew it would happen when a budget was not agreed upon. They knew the deadline too.  In private industry, we call that “incompetent” and “irresponsible”.

I understand that there is a lot of conflicting ideology around the budget.  There is the rising debt and the continual stream of tax credits and government hand outs to a wide assortment of corporations and industries, let alone foreign countries’ aid packages.  There is the Affordable Health Care Act, with its confusing assortment of rules and regulations, as well as rampant rumors that affordable is the last thing it will be in practice.  If half of it is true, I will be destitute and homeless within two years of it going into effect.  Average citizens, such as myself, are left without answers about what is actually true and what is just one more piece of fear-mongering propaganda being tossed about by the anti-healthcare faction.

Most of all, I’m seeing an increase in dissatisfaction with the federal government.  I’m also seeing an increase in fear of the government and a perception of it as a totalitarian force.  I hear more  about secession than I would have ever dreamed of hearing too.  I look back to history, to the antebellum era, and I’m seeing a frightening parallel.

If you don’t like it, whatever the it is, do something about it. Write your congressmen & women. Call them. Don’t vote for their re-election. Work to get them recalled if necessary. Ignore the continual and useless online petitions.

Whether you like or hate Obama, he can’t be re-elected. That is courtesy of an actual amendment to the constitution, the same thing that a lot of people have been ranting about lately.  It’s the 22nd amendment.    That means that Obama is on his way out with the end of this term. In the meantime, we’ve still got a corrupt & incompetent Congress…being re-elected over and over.

Maybe we need to limit terms as a senator or representative too, and put an end to the career politicians.  Of course, that could be a problem.

We’d have to have the same ones we want to put an end to vote to pass it.

Right now, it’s a great job.  You get to vote on your own benefits and pay.  You can take off time as you please.  You can take bribes and distribute favors.  If people don’t like what you do or don’t do,  you simply point your finger at the POTUS and pass the buck.

So, give up on the useless online petitions–they are not going to do a darned thing.  Give up the chain emails and shares and likes–they don’t do anything either.  Neither do blog posts like this one, other than to urge others to take some sort of useful action.

DO write and call Congress. Be loud.  Be persistent.

DO vote!  It does make a difference.  Voter apathy bought this Congress, folks!

If you don’t like what Congress is doing, we have a system in place to do something about it.  Use it.

Solution is advertising!

23 Aug

I’ve made some posts lately about the struggles of keeping an internet radio program up and running, as well as free for listeners by pleading for donations.  I really hate doing that, and while I greatly appreciate the handful of people that have responded, we felt we needed a better solution, especially since we’ve had some equipment failures lately too.

So what did we come up with?

Advertising.  But, it’s still advertising with a difference, as well as with a look back to old time (pre-television) radio programs.  Remember how the old time hosts would say something about their sponsor’s products during the program?  It’s the same concept.

We’ve just modernized it.  It’s low cost, we’re debuting the concept at just $20 per “mention”, making it affordable for everyone from new independent authors that want to get the word out about a book launch to someone sponsoring a program segment in lieu of a traditional (and somewhat mundane) birthday card.  It’s also a bargain, considering that the Dawn of Shades has over 250,000 logged in listeners each week, with the numbers steadily increasing.

This way, instead of just getting a thank  you for donating, it becomes a totally different beast as an actual purchase of advertising.  For businesses, it then becomes an actual business expense too.

It’s just a short piece that will be read by the host (almost always me!) on the air, and there are only four slots per program available, so once they are gone…they are gone.  There is also only one discount available, and to receive that, you would have to be a member of the group on Facebook.  (It’s a closed group, but all legitimate appearing accounts are granted membership.)  The group is found here, if you are interested.

The same program is available for Greg’s show, the Voice of the People, on Saturdays too.

There are a few rules.  We won’t lie and say we use/endorse something if we really don’t have a clue.  We can’t advertise illegal items. We also cannot advertise porn websites or shady commercial ventures with offshore businesses.  You can only advertise a website if you own the domain too, except for a few exceptions such as Amazon & other familiar retailers selling books, audio recordings, videos, etc.  (Indie authors & artists, as well as more traditional writers/musicians, all use these sellers.)  You can promote a cause, but we also will not accept one that advocates illegal actions, such as overthrow of the government, etc.

We will only accept payment via PayPal.  It’s easy and secure for both parties, as well as a minimally difficult process for everyone.  There are deadlines too–we can’t arrange for an ad during the last hour before we go on the air!  We have to agree on the message, vet the website, etc. before the advertisement is accepted.  A particular slot is never guaranteed before payment is received either.

Want more information or to buy a slot for yourself?  It’s easy–just email me at giascott at exogenynetwork.com!

Does anyone hear?

8 Aug

Yesterday, I swallowed my pride and admitted we are at the end of the rope.  We have a short time to figure out how to pay the internet connection bill before it is cut off.

I haven’t heard from anyone indicating that they even care that the shows are looking at possibly coming to an end.

Out of over half a million listeners, surely someone cares whether or not we continue doing the programs?

I had scheduled a series featuring Native American writers and I am genuinely excited about the series, but I’m also genuinely afraid we won’t get to do all 9 programs we had planned.

We still need a miracle, but it isn’t a huge miracle.  It shouldn’t be impossible to have it happen either.

All we need is a very small number of fans who care enough to contribute about what it costs to go buy one fast food meal to make an equivalent donation via Paypal.

That means if just a dozen people, less than is usually standing in line at lunch time to buy that burger and fries, to donate $10 each…and we’ve bought more time to stay on the air.

Just twelve.

Twelve seems like an awful lot right now, with the deadline breathing down my neck.  Twelve seems impossible when you don’t even have a single donation yet.  Twelve seems like a vast number when it seems as though no one seems to really care whether we’re on by the end of the month or not.

Do you honestly enjoy independent talk shows like we do?  Do you look forward to the programs?  Do you ever download one to listen on your mp3 player while you are doing something else?  How many hours of entertainment have the programs given you?  Has it broadened your horizons?  Introduced new & interesting ideas?  Made you laugh?

Isn’t that worth something?

At this point, even a comment or email indicating you appreciate what we do is better than nothing.  At least we’d know we’d not wasted our time entirely.  Instead, so far we have had nothing more than stony silence.

Help make a difference.  Be the first to donate.  You don’t have to drop us an email, we’ll appreciate you anyhow.

If you want to be that first donor, use Paypal and just send it to giascott (at) exogenynetwork.com

I’ll even thank you on the air (unless  you prefer to remain anonymous).

A cry for help

7 Aug

Sad stories are a dime a dozen these days.  It seems that everyone is telling one.  That’s part of why I hate to start on ours.

But, it is necessary, there is a lot at stake.

For years, Greg & I have paid for the expenses of the radio programs we host.  We have had some very much appreciated donations along the way, but the truth is…they are few and far between.  Years of donations, if lumped together, would cover a single month of expenses.  We don’t spend a lot of time soliciting donations though, and we certainly don’t hire someone to do it for us, unlike major charities.

The truth of the matter is, despite having a new series of shows featuring Native American writers scheduled to start on August 13th, we’re looking at it all coming to an end in less than two weeks.

We are looking at a shut off notice for non-payment for internet access if we don’t come up with $120 by then.  We couldn’t pay the bill last month.

To us, it looks like a vast number.  We’ve had our fair share of “bad luck” lately.  Greg had a major heart attack in the spring, resulting in a long hospital stay, as well as expensive medication, weekly blood tests, and regular doctor visits—all of which are financially challenging.  We couldn’t afford his medicine last month.  We couldn’t afford mine either, but I did have a month’s worth of one medication on hand.

We’ve also had mechanical break downs.  Our primary vehicle is broke down and its tags are now expired, rendering it undrivable on two fronts.  Our lawn mower sputtered out.  We’re having electrical problems with the house.  The mini-van we’re driving is worn out, the a/c doesn’t work, and the suspension system soon has me in agony.  Our badly needed all-in-one scanner/printer/fax machine died this week.

Everything has drained our resources.  There is no light at the end of the tunnel, and we’re treading water as fast as we can.  But there is no choice, we have to have donations or we’re facing going off the air.  We just can’t cover this bill.

Here are some numbers, just to show how many people do listen.

Last week, on the Dawn of Shades, we had over 260,000 listeners log in to listen to the program.  It was another record setting audience, but that’s just about every week.  We seem to have more and more listeners each week, and that tells me that I must be doing something right.

Greg has about 400,000 listeners log in each Saturday to listen to the Voice of the People.  He must be doing something right too.

That means that roughly 660,000 people are listening to us each week.  Free.  More people listen by downloading or streaming the archived show, and others listen when the shows are re-run on the network.  It’s all free, too.

We have no sponsors, no advertising revenue, and we’re not paid by the station either.  We not only don’t make a living doing it, we don’t even make a starving doing it—we receive no funding from anyone to support what we do.  Because of the station’s rules, we are not even able to ask for donations on the air.  We can only do so through our blogs and websites.

We pay for the radio programs.  We do occasionally ask for donations, but we have never counted on them before.  Right now, it’s critical that we get those necessary donations though.  Even though we’re crippled by being restricted from asking on the air, we are asking all of our most loyal listeners to “show us some love” by helping us stay on the air.

We aren’t asking for a lot.  We know that a lot of our listeners can’t afford to donate and are struggling to just stay afloat too.  All we’re asking is for you to give up the equivalent of ONE fast food meal, just $5 or $10, and show us some support for what we do as an independent media outlet.  If you can afford it, donate more to make up for all of those listeners who are living on fixed incomes or can’t afford even a trip to a fast food joint.  Even a movie usually costs more.  Besides, your waist will not mind exchanging that cheap burger for a couple of hours of fun, interesting, and upbeat programming each week.

It’s easy to make a donation through Paypal.  Just go to www.Paypal.com and click on “send money.”  Then put in the amount, and my email address, giascott at exogenynetwork.com (just replace the at with an @ and eliminate the spaces—spammers are everywhere!  Please don’t wait until the last minute—it takes about a week to move the money through Paypal and then into the bank to pay the bill.

Independent media outlets are important.  Programs you like and enjoy are also important.  Please support Exogeny Network’s programs today.