Friday, November 25, 2016

Fake News makes faking Fake News easier

    In fake news today, the fake news media faked the news.  That may not be quite so easy to say, coming from a fake news source.  I mean, how could a fake news source make fake faking the fake news easy? Wouldn't pretending to produce fake news result in real news?  Or would it result in a parody of fake news, even faker than what we are accustomed to now--a farce, as it were?  A farce of fake news, produced by fake news media outlets trying to fake the fakeness of their own fake news--as if they were trying to out-FOX themselves.

    Beyond the jokes, let's be honest here for a moment, and try to make real news the news for a moment.  News produced with any intent of conforming to any notion of narrative is an act of propaganda. Also, any effort to produce anything but real news is also an act of propaganda, even when it is accidentally produced or results from ignorance.  Yes, I said that.  The act of journalism is a very narrowly constrained and objective reporting style which is corrupted by any attempt to mesh opinion or interpretation into its reportage.  Subjectivism of any type, even at the word level, should be kept separate fro the reportage--it's the reason there's always been an Editorial Section in newspapers.

    Journalists are allowed to express their opinions, just not in the same part of the paper where there reporting is being done.  It's not that problematic a notion.  It's the same thing as separation of Church and State--an idea that we all claim to pay lip-service to, but cannot fathom allowing to actually occur.  But it's the law!  We must keep our religious convictions out of our lawmaking.  It's also the same thing as keeping personal preferences out of the workplace.  Employers are all-too-eager to tell their employees not to put their personal choices into communications when they are working, and that eventually spills over into all actions taken by employees when they are working.  Every time you hear expressions which result in the assessment that employees represent their employers in their personal lives, you are being told that people are nothing more than their jobs.  You wouldn't want to know that your 401K portfolio was being managed by a punk rock fan who enjoys The Dead Kennedys as much as he does The Clash, would you?  Or a country bumpkin who likes Dixie Chicks as much as he likes Dolly Parton?  But, you might have noticed that I am favoring the male pronoun at the expense of the female portion of my reading market.  Sorry, it's because I'm a guy who cannot be permitted to represent the female portion of my audience because I would probably misrepresent them--Guys are inherently wrong. So, it is better to remain silent in order to prevent rampant offenses at the mere utterance of any off-color suggestion, right?  Amirite?  After all, it's the same thing as employees being told to do nothing more than represent their employers when they are acting as spokespersons for the company.

Comment with things that need to be added to this rant, but please try to remain civil.  Hateful and profane comments will be blocked, but their content will probably be added to future revisions of this text.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The EpiPen Edition of my Novella, This and That

    I have released a special hardback edition of my novella, This and That, at the alarming price of $798.00.  I have priced it that high so that if I ever need an EpiPen, I will be able to afford to buy one.  With logic like that, I should need to only sell one copy in order to fulfill my need.  However, in the effort of making a statement about the rampant greed in the pharmaceutical industry, I will need to report one additional detail about the corporation that prompted this effort.  The CEO of that corporation gave herself an $18 Million bonus.  I am just as frustrated as the rest of you, but nowhere near as frustrated as she is--clearly, she can afford to corner the market on frustration!  So, in order for my statement to be successful, I will need to sell almost 29,000 copies from the publisher's website (or almost 60,000 copies from Amazon.com--when I finally release it there), so that I can give my CEO (me) an $18 Million bonus.

  Let me offer a few statements that may encourage you or even further offend you.  Like Henry Ford, I believe that my employees should be able to afford to purchase the products they make.  Since I cannot afford to buy a copy of the book that I have produced, I need a raise.  That will happen when this book sells--Duh!

    Once I have earned enough to provide myself with the massive and unnecessary bonus that I so richly deserve (tongue-in-cheek), I will lobby Congress to pass laws which require that my book be placed in school libraries all over the country, because this is such an important book in the development of students' appreciation of literature.  (You know, I have to ask myself, did that corporation lobby Congress to pass laws in favor of placing EpiPens in schools all across the country before they acquired the rights to produce the product?  Did they care about it before they could make any money from the product's success?  I'm going to guess not.)

    However, if you actually want a copy of the book but can't afford the hardback edition, the paperback edition of This and That: A Novella (and other prose writings) is available (with the identical text inside) for a reasonable price of $19.99, because unlike the pharmaceutical companies, I won't prohibit the affordable edition from being sold to people who can't afford the hardback edition.  Maybe here would be a good place to tell you a bit about the book I am trying to convince you to buy.

   I wrote the first draft of This and That in the summer of 1988.  I knew that it would need to be rewritten, so I roughed it out to the end so that I could see where the plot would lead.  Once I finished it, I printed out copies and started handing them around to friends.  I didn't think about the concluding message of Chapter Four for several years.  But then in 2010, I published Mangled Doves primarily with the intent of making the novella available in a published book.  I realized that it was the novella's first publication--so I excised the narrative text of Chapter Four and included it in the Appendices at the end of the book.

    In this edition , I have restored the narrative text of Chapter Four to its proper place between Chapters Three and Five.  I have also restored a passage to Chapter Eight which I had excluded from the version which was published in Mangled Doves.  Two rather simple differences, I know.  An owner of Mangled Doves could easily jump to the Appendix after Chapter Three and read Chapter Four in its proper context instead of buying this horribly over-priced hardback.  But I have included a previously unpublished second draft of six chapters plus three ending chapters, extensive notes for developing the second draft with much more content and research, and an outline for a planned third draft--which was never fleshed out.

    After publishing Mangled Doves, I attempted to advertise the book's listing at Amazon.com in this blog, but eventually, the story I began to tell in the blog became a narrative on its own, so I completed and expanded that story, and published it as Appearing to Study Particle Physics.  This book is also available in a paperback edition.

    During the effort to arrange the complex plot of my next project, Captain of the Watch, I published a collection of my poetry, Verses for the Vixen (and other poems).  Not only does it contain all the best poems from Mangled Doves, it also contains the charming "Pumpkinification of Brash" verses from Appearing to Study Particle Physics, along with the drafted verses from the work-in-progress, The River of Silence.

    I made the cover of the poetry collection all-white, so the natural choice for the special edition of This and That was all-black.  But as a writer, it is now time to turn my attention back to Captain of the Watch and fulfill a few promises while renewing my faith in my ability to write something new and creative.

    But you didn't read this to hear about my other books and the efforts to write them, you wanted to see my justifications for jacking up the price of the hardback edition of my novella.  I have already mentioned the standard proposed by Henry Ford, that his employees should be able to afford to purchase the product they make, but I haven't truly stood behind it yet.  Clearly, this is not a universally-held opinion.  Most corporations will happily pay their employees as little as they can get away with, not concerning themselves with whether or not their employees can afford to purchase the products they make because there are a sufficient number of consumers out there who can afford to purchase they products made by these increasingly underpaid workers.  As I stated in Appearing to Study Particle Physics, that's all fine and dandy in specific jobs where the nature of the work requires contractual restrictions, but when such perspectives are boiler-plated across the board, horrible market changes are looming on the horizon.  When a corporation does not consider its own employees to deserve to live at least as well as its consumers, an ethical breach has taken place and nobody seems to think there's anything wrong with that.  So, in order to treat myself as well as I wish to treat you, I need to get paid as much as it takes to purchase my own product.  But this leads me to my other point.

    Passing on the cost is probably the primary complaint that will be leveled against this elevated price.  How dare an author who is not writing about any medical mystery base his price on the cost of a medicinal product he does not even have a need for!!  Perhaps its a way of reminding you that we as consumers have been asked to accept such treatment for as long as we can remember--in fact, we really don't know any different.  One of my chief gripes against University Fees is that the other campus-related fees often exceeded the amount of my tuition, and the fees for international students being charged to local students was exorbitant.  I had to pay parking lot fees when I was taking a bus to the campus, and dorm fees when I was not using one.  It is a very common practice in many fields.  Most doctors charge a nominal fee to cover their malpractice insurance, and the jokes about dentists who redesign their waiting rooms after looking in a patient's mouth is not entirely untrue.

       But when it all comes down to a simple justification, all I have to say is that J.P.Morgan once answered the question of how much he was willing to charge for a ticket on his trains, "As much as the market will bear."  In other words, a corporation will charge its consumers as much as they are willing to pay, just so long as enough of its consumers are paid well enough to afford the higher prices.  In the example of Henry Ford's employees, the Ford Model A was marketed as a working man's car, but most factory workers were not paid enough to afford the purchase of a car.  There's a vast difference between working class and working poor.  Henry Ford did not want his employees to be considered the be among the working poor.  It depends on which market sector you are addressing with your product.  Clearly most corporations do not consider their own employees to be in the market sector of their own products.

    Another criticism that can be leveled at my over-priced novella is that it is a shot-self-in-foot effort.  Nobody's going to buy a book (a recreational one at that) for a huge amount over its cost, they'll just ignore it and move on to the next, more reasonably priced, book.  That, however is not the case with products like EpiPen.  There is no other product like it on the market, so those who need it will have no choice but to pay the high price that is being charged for it.  Also, the corporation that produced it will likely be pushing legislation to keep competition out of its market, so that even if a choice were possible, the consumer can be prevented from having access to it.  An indie author doesn't have clout like that, so a political statement against the corporate price-gouging and industry-side greed will not be noticed.