Monthly Archives: November 2010

Smart Thoughts About Stupidity

We have a culture that looks down on or is bigoted about stupidity. Maybe it’s a natural thing, a survival of the fittest and most intelligent, or maybe it’s a way of feeling more superior, and therefore the fittest. We of course shake our heads at the stupid things people do. What an idiot, we think. How can people be so stupid? You dummy. He’s the village idiot. She’s as smart as a sack of potatoes. The names go on.

There is a natural derision for the stupidity that people exhibit. And yet we know we all have momentary lapses where we do or say stupid things. Perhaps it’s because of that human fallibility that we scoff so loudly at others, trying to cover up our own stupidity. At its worst stupidity will kill you; at the least it will embarrass you.

I remember back to years ago when in a group of friends we knew too many Daves. There was Dave the engineer, Dave the store owner, Dave the grunt, etc. Dave the grunt was in the army, a perennial private because he just wasn’t very bright. He wasn’t a bad looking guy but he was a few marbles short of a bag. People made fun of him all the time. It began to disturb me because we can learn some things but only if our brains have the capacity to do so. People are born with different levels of intelligence. There is nothing they can do about that and it’s not their fault. Making fun of a person’s stupidity is the same as making fun of them because of their height, or eye color, or skin color, or nose shape. They cannot help it. It’s what genetics tossed into the bag when they were being made.

It is wisdom that we learn and you can have a stupid but wise person, or an intelligent yet unwise person. As people continued to deride the grunt I observed the interactions. What I started to realize was that we didn’t make fun of him because he was stupid; we made fun of him because he wasn’t very nice and he was stupid. He was nasty to women and just very rude in general.

Years later I had another friend who is intelligent enough but not overly bright and given to some very wrong concepts about the world. Another person once said some very insulting words to her face, about, “well you’re just not very bright,” or, “you’re stupid. What do you know.” I thought this was terrible because the very witty and intelligent person making such comments was smart enough to not need to say this but she was just very mean. The person who was stupid in some senses was also a very nice person. In fact, she let the comment slide right off of her. She had tons of compassion, worked well, was diligent and talented in her own way. She had enough friends because she was nice.

So I learned stupidity doesn’t necessarily lose you friends, but nastiness does. The above example works for the intelligent but unwise (and spiteful person) and the stupid but wise person, who can not think beyond a certain level but learns from life’s lessons. Stupid people may not create the next world-saving device but it’s smart people who will be more likely to use it for destroying. I’m not saying that stupid people can’t do the same (George Bush is a good example of powerful stupidity) but stupidity alone does not make a person a failure.

We often laugh or shake our heads in wonderment at someone’s stupid actions, even our own. But sometimes that is a momentary thing. However, the next time you make fun of a person’s intelligence, think about why you’re doing so and if you’ve ever had a stupid moment. May we all use the smarts we have and use it well. Happy Friday.

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Tonsil Tales

Back in the good ole days, or so I remember being told, tonsils were removed as often as wisdom teeth, as a matter of course, as an extraneous appendage we no longer needed. I don’t know if that’s true or not but I was scheduled to have my tonsils out at age six. However, my family, always running on the dysfunction track, was derailed the day I was supposed to go in for surgery. My parents were fighting and I never did get my tonsils out for a very very long time.

Creative Commons--Knol

I spent my childhood and teen years getting colds like every other child but I as often got tonsilitis, involving very painful and swollen throat and bouts of antibiotics. By my teen years I averaged four colds/tonsilitis episodes a year. Some of the symptoms can be headache, fever, cough, trouble swallowing, sore throat and chills.  I think I was 18 or 19 when I started to noticed it felt odd when I swallowed, like something was stuck in my throat. When I opened my mouth wide, I could see small lumps of white at the back of my throat that sometimes I could remove with a finger. Basically food was getting caught in the holes in my tonsils. This did nothing for my breath either.

Finally, in art college the tonsillitis got so bad that even my tongue was swollen. I had cankers all over my gums and I couldn’t really eat a thing. Of course I’d let it get too bad, being a student, trying to finish projects and not getting enough sleep. So eventually I went in to the school clinic, telling them I had tonsillitis. They told me, you don’t know that. We’ll take a look. And they took a look and said, you have tonsillitis; why did you take so long?

More antibiotics but that finally decided it for me. I made an appointment to see my family doctor, the one I had had since I was about ten, who had seen me go through bouts of this over the years. I mentioned the holes and the food sticking in them. My doctor didn’t even look in my throat but told me it was nerves. I said it absolutely was not. I’m not a nervous person. Then he told me that lots of people got this. I said, they do? It was this incident of incompetence, plus the one where my doctor told me I didn’t clean myself properly when I went to him about a bladder infection, that I tossed him by the wayside and went to a new doctor. That doctor couldn’t see much in my throat but he sent me to a specialist. The specialist took less than a minute to look at my tonsils and say, “You have holes in your tonsils. When do you want them out?”

And so, at the tender age of 22 I had my tonsils out. And something I realized once I healed from the surgery was that I had never ever been able to swallow correctly. My throat had always been swollen. If I’d had my tonsils out at six, like I was supposed to, I would have missed a lot less school as a kid and not been subjected to so many antibiotics. Luckily I didn’t take the incompetent advice of a doctor who should have retired, and I sought out another opinion. I don’t  miss those tonsils at all.

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Vancouver’s Misquided Transportation Woes

Vancouver seems to have its head up the exhaust pipe when it comes to transportation. World class city, right? World class transportation? Not yet. Okay, they tried with the new Canada line from downtown to the airport and that’s great for the long distance traveler and it does service a couple of campuses so that’s a plus. Of course they’ve been putting off the line going east that would run to Maple Ridge, Burnaby and Coquitlam where a majority of commuters come from.

When we look at the cost of riding public transportation the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) works under the belief of punishing people for distance. The farther out you live the more you pay. Of course the farther out you live the more beneficial it would be for you to take public transit. On a cost to the consumer basis Greater Vancouver runs on three zones. I don’t take public transit if I can help it for the following reasons: it’s more expensive than putting gas in my car, which of course makes driving my car more convenient as I don’t have to get up as early, struggle to find space or wait, should I miss the bus/ or it be too full. I also don’t have to worry about sitting beside drunks, perverts or thugs (and I have had experiences with two of those on public transit in the past), and I don’t have to worry about getting mugged at a station.

Places like Mexico City, with a population over 20 million, make their transit fairly cheap because they don’t want even 10 million cars driving into the center (the pollution alone is enough to take people down). But not all cities are that big. Still, places like Calgary and other large cities have either free transit in the downtown core or one price for all areas. The cheaper you make it, the more people will use it. The more expensive it is guarantees that people will stick to their cars. But Vancouver doesn’t seem to see that. Sure there is a cost to running these services but I think lower rates and increased users would work better and still cover the same budget if not increase the revenues.

The other major stupidity in transportation planning as far as SkyTrain goes is that they cut service to it at 12:30 on all evenings. If I wanted to go downtown and not  drive, I would be left with the very sporadic bus service or expensive taxis. People coming from farther out of town are less likely to take transit to go drinking. It would be the safest thing if Translink ran the SkyTrain through the night, maybe on the hour and the half hour. Then, no matter what time you leave a club you know you can get home quickly. Somehow the great minds of Translink have never figured this out.

Now Vancouver has also gone on a green kick, which is not a bad thing. However being green or “eco” has become a catch phrase for popularity and sometimes the thinking behind it is lacking. Vancouver decided to put in bike lanes, not a small lane,  with a painted line that runs beside the car lanes, but a full car lane, girded with concrete blocks for the masses of bicyclists to ride through in relative safety. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself. After all, it’s a pretty scary prospect to bike through commuter traffic every day.

The problem stems partly from the fact that downtown Vancouver is accessible mostly by bridges: Burrard St., Cambie St., and the Georgia viaduct ramps. There are a couple of other ways into downtown but those three are the major routes. Two of the bike lanes use two of these routes, though one is more after the ramp.  The Burrard St. bike lane doesn’t seem to have affected much but the one that runs along Hornby St. closed off accessibility to certain business, such as the Railway Club, making it difficult for deliveries, or musicians setting up. And now you cannot turn right to go to the BCIT campus but must do a loop de loop around. Why they didn’t pick one of the other streets that are less traffic laden, I don’t know. They want to encourage people to use bikes but there are numerous people who must use cars whether for health or the vagaries of their jobs and making driving more inconvenient isn’t the way to go.

The other odd thing about all these proactive bike lanes is that there are very few cyclists using them. I’ve been downtown in the morning and afternoon rush hours and times in between and I’ve never seen more than three cyclists in the lane. Now I don’t work downtown regularly so maybe every time I’ve been down it’s been an exception. However, a friend who does work downtown says they are empty most of the time. These lanes are the size of a car lane and they seem to be very spacious for a so few cyclists. So why is Vancouver, burdened with a $20 million dollar debt, thinking of building yet another one? Do we really need it? It’s eco-friendly, it’s cyclist friendly but is it really going to make a difference or just making commuting more difficult?

I’ve already outlined the issues with people coming in from the eastern cities and the reluctance with the cost of public transit. Those same people have to deal with empty bike lanes on major arteries helping to clog the city’s heart. It’s not the way to make it work. Put up large transit lots in a few areas outside the downtown core where people can park and take free transit or nominally priced transit into the city core, or even rent a bike. Make transit cheaper for those farther out. That would help, but going backwards and charging people more and more the farther they must commute will never get people on the side of commuting with public transit. Vancouver has to learn how to dangle a carrot and make public transit and commuting a pleasant experience.

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Writing: Sunburst Awards & CZP

A little Friday update on some things Canadian and some things writerly.

The Sunburst Awards is Canada’s equivalent of a high end literary award but for speculative fiction. As with meny things, especially culture, which the federal government decided isn’t very important, they are hoping to continue giving this award but need donors. Here is a little youtube piece with excerpts by a few Canadian authors. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQuBSrUkAo0

And Chizine Publications has a little animation up for People Still Live in Cashtown Corners, by Tony Burgess, which is receiving good reviews. I find the little bear creatures somewhat disturbing, but then I get that way when things are too cutesy. Gah, death by sugar coating. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6hfVFkjUwZU

Chizine Publications http://chizine.com/chizinepub/ is going strong and watch for a new web design for the online magazine Chizine in the new year. Other than that, rewriting continues and slush reading. A note to the wise; don’t slur the intelligence or the nationality (and get it wrong) of your slush reader. You’re bound to be banned from ever submitting again. Just sayin’.

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Royalty, Royalty, Blah Blah Blah!

Queen Bess might have been the last needed monarch, but then there was Cromwell.

This came out in a conversation recently, even before the whole Kate+William brouhaha, and I can say I was almost treated like a troglodyte for being an anti-monarchist (and the only one I  think) amongst monarchists. I actually was very surprised. I expected a few to be monarchists but I thought the strong monarchist movement was more of my parents’ generation than mine, or even younger people.But obviously I’m wrong.

I’ll back up a bit here. Canada is a sovereign nation. We have our independence; we have our own government. However, we are a commonwealth country, one of those countries that was once conquered by the great British Empire. Once called the British Commonwealth there are now 54 countries in this union. From Wikipedia: The member states co-operate within a framework of common values and goals as outlined in the Singapore Declaration.[1] These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace.[2] The Commonwealth is not a political union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social, political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status.

These supposed independent member states still seem to pay a lot of lip service to the British royalty. The queen’s head adorns Canada’s coins. We have a governor-general who represents the queen in Canada and actually is head of the military. And heaven and hell forbid if we actually still pay tithes to Great Britain. Even in the British Isles, the royalty is not the governing body because there is a parliament and a prime minister. To some, we’re probably still considered the “colonies” though that ended with confederation in 1867. Interestingly those former members of the Commonwealth who did not join in this web of goodwill, and most likely because of the extended obeisance, were many of the Arab or Middle Eastern countries. Some of them still have their own royalty.

So…back to Kate and William’s engagement. The media is already referring to her as a commoner, which means common people, the masses, the hoi polloi, or you and me. It means everyone who has not gained their position by blood, inherited it through some divine right. Family business is one thing but even new popes are voted upon, but royalty are not. I could be the stupidest bump on a log or even a murdering rapist and if my parents were kings and queens, then I too would be royalty. There were rumors, never substantiated, that Jack the Ripper was the Duke of Clarence at the time. However since Jack was never caught we can speculate forever.

What we have are people who are idolized and fawned over because they are royalty. And royalty these days are people who get to be so because mummy and daddy were. No working for the position, nor being elected to it. Just because their great great ancestor had a bigger army or poisoned more people makes them royalty forever. Wow. When someone names me royalty I’ll get to make my heirs royal and make their life hell (note Princess Diana’s unhappiness while she was alive) as they live up to royal expectations. There are a few hoops, even for the rich (unless you’re Paris Hilton).

Wallis Simpson, an American, a divorcee, a commoner, could only marry King Edward if he abdicated. Princess Di wasn’t a commoner but that didn’t save her. Didn’t help Fergie either. So the royal reigns have relaxed to let a “commoner” marry Prince Willy. Of course she’s a commoner in the millionaire model because some working class slob would probably not do. And she’s of a good line of obedient Christians attending the right church. I doubt William would be allowed to marry a Buddhist, Muslim or Wiccan. They live the high life but it’s not all fun.

My biggest beef: tons of money wasted on an obsolete dynasty that can still get all sorts of special treatment because they’re royal. “Ooh, I don’t have a life so I’ll submerge mine in these land-based gods.” Oh and their wedding, like Prince Chuck  and Princess Di’s, it will cost millions and millions and the taxpayers will probably pick up a hefty tab for it, even if it will supposedly boost tourism, while many people won’t be able to pay their mortgages or keep their jobs in Britain’s down-turned economy. But don’t worry, William and Kate promise austerity. I’ll do the same if taxpayers want to pay for my wedding or my vacation too.

I should say I have two beefs. The second is that this is England’s royalty, not Canada’s. If we’re truly of our own governance and reconnaissance, then we shouldn’t owe anyone lip service. And just because the British were in parts of Canada (which was something completely different geographically) in the good ole days does not mean we owe them much over any other country that explored or settled in these lands. (Not that the French or the Spaniards didn’t have their play here too.) The native peoples of Canada might see that whole invasion and British rule thing through slightly different eyes as well.

Maybe if I lived in England I wouldn’t be an anti-monarchist but it makes no sense to keep someone else’s royalty as our own desperate attempt at dignity and venerability. If we truly need royalty in Canada, then let’s make me the queen, or hold a lottery. It’s as valid as saying someone else has blue blood and letting them interbreed to keep their blood pure. So what do I think of Kate and William’s engagement? Great. Wonderful. People should be happy but I’m not going to swoon over it, watch it or buy the souvenir napkins, just as I wouldn’t for our prime minister, any rock star or even a NASA astronaut’s wedding (the last being the most likely for me to buy into). Go get married but stop (to paraphrase past Prime Minister’s Trudeau’s words) getting the nation involved in the bedrooms of the royalty.

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Trench Party: Remembering WWI

News from the war: I spent Thursday November 11 Remembrance Day (Veterans Day in the US) in the trenches with the men (and the women) of our nation. Just like those terrible times of World War I I was told, “You’ll have to spend time in the trenches, maybe even storm the barbed wire before you can go to the home front. The home front will be cold and after that you can go to the French bistro” (which one person interpreted as brothel).

As a war correspondent I actually didn’t have gumboots or true mudsy rain gear. To prepare for this run of Vimy Ridge, where the Canadian Corps defeats the German Sixth Army, I dressed warmly and interviewed the soldiers. The roles of women do include being in the trenches but more as nurses, entertainers, drivers and war correspondents. Some women wore pants but I was wearing a respectful nearly ankle length linen dress and a wool, double-breasted trench coat. For food, I brought a baguette, a cheese round with a slice out of it, two apples and a bottle of wine. After all, during the war, one would have to scrounge and take what was available. It’s fall so the applesWWI, war, trench party, remembrance, death, homefront, Vimy Ridge would be greatly appreciated. I also brought little squares of chocolate (2 to a package) wrapped in foil and handed them out as rations. (I don’t know what was rationed in WWI but chocolate, bread, rubber were just a few in WWII.)

As can be seen by the above pictures there was indeed a trench with barbwire. It wasn’t very deep, nor very wide and sandbags were too expensive to bring in. On the wall (a canvas sheet) of the home front there played images of the war and sound effects abounded. You would think those muddy trenches would be empty but in fact there were many people in them throughout the night. When I asked Captain Gilchrist, a doctor on the front lines what the most prevalent injuries were, he told me, “Scurvy, trenchfoot and the French disease.” Trenchfoot is a terrible rotting that happens from perpetually wet and enclosed feet. The French disease, this correspondent cannot speak of here.

Spirits were generally high in the trenches with a good pot of coffee and tea, as well as some other spirits cheering the soldiers. One young lad who might have snuck into the army told me, “It’s very muddy in the trenches and I had to dig.”  Another said, “We had to bail a lot and sleep in them.” Not all sentiments were as hardy with another saying, “Don’t do it!” and “Fodder, that’s what they feel they are.” An unnamed commander was more jovial. “The men are doing a cracking job…a victory for democracy. By George!”

Probably the most popular feeling was expressed by one soldier. “We’re going to give ’em high hell, were giving 110% and we’ll be home by Christmas. God is on our side.” I had brought some poems by famous poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox and read a few to the troops in the trenches. They clamor for her poems as it makes them think of home and better times.

On the home front people were eating squirrel pie, corned beef stew, with bread, hot tea and some Screech to keep them warm. It was dry but chilly though the old stove worked valiantly against the cold November night. Gas masks lay at the ready, along with copies of the newspapers whose headlines are all about the war. The sentiments on the home front varied as people are thinking more about the future and not just surviving the elements and the enemy. Several troops home from the war reported “War is horrid,” as well as the feverish lad who told me “I miss my mommy almost as much as I miss my left leg.”  Other returning soldiers shared their revulsion with “The trenches are like graves,” “They’re fetid,” or such epithets as “The Italians suck seagulls,” and the rest is not printable.

Another doctor sadly reported that, “It’s a tragedy but it’s the mental scars that will ruin this generation. Shell shock is everywhere.” The home front also holds militant thinkers who would like to see the war ended any way they can. “When the waking masses organize against this blood bath we’ll overthrow the imperialist war mongers and put an end to war forever!” The man refused to give his name.

For those who get leave, officers and others stationed near the towns, a night in the French bistro can bring good cheer. Food was abundant in the ways that the French appreciate it. A variety of breads and cheeses, even some pate’ was available. As well, someone must have found a hidden store of wine because we drank heartily that night. A rumor was on the wind of the war coming to an end. One soldier badly affected by the French disease kept mumbling that no one understood his jokes. With a bit of wine everyone laughed wholeheartedly with him. Another war-assaulted victim told me that the rats were good with salt and a bit like gopher. We were lucky to be fed so well and have enough lanterns to light the place.

WWI lasted from 1914-1918. It was a defining war for the role of Canadians, and my friend Sam, who organized the party, said it was more important in the aspects of Remembrance Day than WWII was. He’s right of course since Remembrance Day came in to commemorate the end of the war on November 11, 1918. Unfortunately, we’ve had many wars since and the wars continue. Sometimes they are wars of the masses but most often they are wars of ideals caused by a very few but with a deadly fallout. I find it eternally sad that people can’t just let each other live in peace and that so many have died needlessly. This is what I remembered.

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Writing: The Convention Circuit

This last weekend I took the journey to Portland for Orycon, Oregon’s science fiction and fantasy convention. I traveled down with writer Donna McMahon, Clint Budd, the Aurora Awards administrator and their friend Heidi. The drive from Vancouver can take 5-7 hours so it’s much more fun to travel with others and gave me a chance to catch and talk shop.

Like many fan oriented conventions (there are professional conventions that don’t always have fan tracks) there are panels and workshops in the area of gaming (from live action, roleplaying, to board and card games), costuming, writing/publishing and media. Some cons focus more on one area over another. There can be a Star Trek con or a Star Gate, which would have a heavy media track.

Orycon’s theme this year was dark fantasy. They usually invite pros, giving them a free membership in exchange for serving on several panels. I had a midnight horror reading, where I read “Exegesis of the Insecta Apocrypha” newly out by Cutting Block Press and in Horror Library Vol. 4. At one point I think there was supposed to be three readers but one never showed. Instead S.D. Perry read from her novel, as yet unpublished. She is the author of many Resident Evil and Star Trek books. As is the case with a horror reading her piece was visceral and horrific, in the sense of the crimes of the people and what they are driven to. Of course, a writer must describe the scene enough that we can see it and S.D.’s excerpt did that very well. We had a small audience, but one of the con’s few foibles was to not include the readings in the lists of the panels. There were about five or six panels on at any time from about 10am to midnight. The readings were on  a separate page, which meant many people missed them.

This probably explains why, for my second reading, no one showed up. Also, I had questioned the con in putting me down for two readings, as I’m not a big name author and won’t reach even the minor notoriety of people wanting my autograph until I sell a book. My second reading was at 1pm and you would think that it would get more people but there are just too many panels to attend and people already have to pick and choose. The panel range did seem to be quite good, with everything from the usual fan and filk tracks to workshops (in writing, costuming and other aspects) and covering various sciences or how to write/publish.

Some cons are also great for meeting new people or reconnecting. I re-met Mike Drindenberg, a very good Portland artist who I had last seen at a World Fantasy con. I ran into old friend and writer Dave Smeds and met Steve Perry. I also got a chance to see a couple of friends who live in Portland. One is a fan and the other a fan and film student who wants to get into more writing.

I also did two panels, though some people do more. They were on urban fantasy and on gore vs. terror. Good panels have good moderators who keep the flow going and keep one or two people from monopolizing or getting off track. The moderators for these panels did a great job. They were different as suits the topic and the first had more audience participation than the second, but I think the audience enjoyed them. I find that these panels sometimes get my gears turning on old stories and how to rework them or on new stories to create. Also every writer needs to let the reading community know who they are and this is one way for people to become familiar with your name. In the era of tight financial constraints usually writers have to do some self promo even if the publishers are advertising.

The con had a dance and sometimes, like VCon’s tiny one, they’re very bad. This one had a large space with an okay blend of music from those classics like Rocky Horror songs, to German technopunk…something for everyone. I got a chance to dance with a lot of space to move, which I love doing. All in all the convention was a very pleasant experience and if the con can just fix their program guides to have a better font and include the readings in the main section, it will continue to be a popular convention.

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Publishing: Trials of a Slush Reader

There will probably be more than one post like this as I dig through the various manuscripts that I’m reading for CZP. Slush reading novels is far different from stories or poems, in some ways. You’d think it would be straightforward but it’s not.

The best way to irritate the hell out of a slush reader is to do some silly things like go for an artsy font; bold it, italicize it in spots, change the size. The publisher will decide in the long run on the look and while some italics or bolding are required in a story, too much of it on nearly every line is like eating a whole cake at one sitting.

Easy to read fonts are the way to go because we’re not reading one of these things, we’re reading dozens. Our eyes get tired, we have pages and pages to read and if something other than the story gets in the way, then we don’t get to reading the story without already being annoyed. Times New Roman if you’re not sure.

Double spacing is standard manuscript submission format (there are some exceptions). There is a good reason for this. It used to be, when everything was hard copy, that the editor would have to make notes and edit on the page, and there was no space if it was single spaced. Besides that mechanical consideration, it is easier to read when double spaced and when you have to read many manuscripts and sometimes skim through paragraphs to see if the plot is progressing it’s the best default.

Why can’t people read the instructions, or submission guidelines as we call them? It’s one thing to fudge your font or your border margins slightly. If we ask for three chapters only, don’t send the full manuscript. If we say we want a synopsis too, then send one because we won’t know the full arc of your story with only those sample chapters and we won’t read the full book on spec. If we say send it in .doc or .rtf, we mean it.

The final thing, if we reject you, is not to write back insulting our nationality (or what you think it is) insulting our education level (or what you think it is) and basically telling us that we haven’t realized your edgy genius. I try to say something nice when rejecting a manuscript as well as some reasons why it didn’t work. Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint or narrow down nicely without a more thorough reading. There may be several reasons that it’s not right for a publisher from style to readability. But the next person that insults me for rejecting their manuscript will get blacklisted as well as get a very pointed smackdown as to why exactly their manuscript sucked so badly that it would never be bought.

Sure, you might be rejected a hundred times and then go on to have a best seller. Go for it, but if you piss off the publisher and their slush readers, you’ll have to go elsewhere. When I submit pieces to publishers I understand the busy-ness of editors and I appreciate any comments. If I get a rejection that says, “It wasn’t right for us” I know it might be a form letter, they may not have time to say more, or they didn’t like it for whatever reason but didn’t want to go into it. I accept it. If I get even a sentence saying what was good or bad I appreciate it because any insight helps and it’s rare.

Most of the people I’ve had to reject have been thankful for the comments. The whiny and bitchy ones are becoming memorable and they will not get much of my time the second time around. Should CZP still accept submissions from them they better hope they go to a different slush reader. Of course, we all talk amongst ourselves so we’re aware of the buttheads out there. Be forewarned and do it right the first time.

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Women: Neither Poison Nor Possession

I’m getting extremely tired and pissed off with women getting blamed for a helluva lot. In fact it’s almost enough to turn me into a rabid feminazi. The only problem is that I’m an egalitarian and I don’t believe one race or gender or religion should get special rights over another.

Creative Commons "Her Eyes" by Ranoush (flickr)

With that in mind, women are not your property. They don’t belong to you, or me or any man or any religion. They belong to themselves. On a good day we’re called the fairer sex. On a bad day we’re called the weaker sex and taken advantage of, raped, murdered, abused, locked away and chastised, to name a few. I’d like to think we live in a world where women are treated equally and get equal pay for equal work. Unfortunately that would only be a microcosm and even in Vancouver women are raped and murdered, or considered the chattels of men.

Here are just a few ways in which women have not yet been accorded equality as human beings:

  • Honor killings–rarely do you hear of the man being killed but it does happen in conjunction with the woman’s death and seems specific to certain cultures (but I’m not a cultural anthropologist). The woman is interested in someone not of her station and the family, usually the father or brothers kill her to avenge the wrongs to their honor. What BS that is. Honor is what you make it and you’re responsible for your own not for anyone else’s.
  • Adultery–like the famous Ashtiani case in Iran, which isn’t exactly treating many of their people fairly, women get charged with adultery in certain countries where they will be stoned or likewise killed for their indiscretion. Again, rarely do you ever hear of the man being called to task whether he’s the one married or the one with a married woman. Regardless of such draconian measures it’s always the woman’s fault and she suffers the brunt. Adultery takes two as does sex. In these countries a woman rarely can even say she was raped because the men have more rights and say she was loose or cheating, not matter what they did to her.
  • Female circumcision–don’t get me wrong, women are also responsible for this because they’ve bought into this dominance over women and castrating them so they get no enjoyment from sex. Because gosh, yet again it’s only men who get to be the ones sowing their wild oats all over the place.
  • Murder–it’s such a large category, from such monsters like Picton preying on women to a man who kills his wife because she’s leaving him, as if she ever belonged to him, as if murder ever makes sense for such an offense should she even have just been a bitch. If we killed every bitch and bastard out there, we certainly wouldn’t be worried about overpopulating the earth.
  • Seductress–she dressed like she was asking for it. She deserved it the way she was dressed. This of course puts the judging of women’s fashion into the eyes of the beholder and one person’s acceptable clothing (think Amish) is not another’s. This presumes an attitude based on clothing that can be completely false.
  • Hiding, cloistering or veiling women–Yeah we hear about the burkah and the naqib and women locked away where only their men can see them. But I ask as always, why don’t the men have to veil themselves. It’s no affront to whatever god a person worships. It’s a way for a man to control or own a woman, and be jealous enough he wants to covet her. I don’t care what any woman says; at heart is a gender different treating them like their poison or possession.
  • Poison–a woman’s period is filthy and bad and of the underworld. She taints things. I went to some Native (First Nations/Indian) healing circles through one year. Women who had a period had to wrap their lower extremities in a blanket because their energy would “ground out” the energy of the eagle feather. If it’s that powerful, can’t it be used to loft things higher too? And sweats; a man could go in, in just shorts. A woman had to wear something down to the ground (in some sweats their arms must be covered to the wrist too) because they might entice men. These sweats were 3-feet high, black as pitch and hotter than hell. No one is thinking of touching anyone let alone themselves. Yet again, the onus was on the woman to hide herself but the men could be half naked.

Eve’s lot in life wasn’t being weaker or inferior. What it was, was having to bear the brunt for the fact men can’t control themselves and are animals to women. Do I believe this? Not really. But it’s what’s put out there, if you lift the veil.

Again, I am an egalitarian and I think each person should be judged on their own merits, not their skin color, gender or religion. All of any group isn’t bad or good or evil or stupid or whatever. I love men but not the stupid, bigoted, racist, misogynist ones. The list above is by no means complete but I’m seriously getting pissed off hearing over and over how women are the ones who suffer the worst for crimes of the male or for just being female. It’s up to each of us to stand up against this sort of attitude.

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Publishing: How To End Your Career In Five Easy Steps

Here’s how you do it:

  1. Steal articles from other writers
  2. Publish those articles
  3. When the writer finds out and asks for an apology and compensation send an arrogant reply
  4. Have a Facebook page where people start posting, because that writer wrote about it on her blog
  5. Don’t say anything and watch your career go up in smoke in 24 hours

The internet has sped up the access to information but it has also sped up karma. On November 3rd, Monica Gaudio http://illadore.livejournal.com/30674.html posted on her Live Journal how she’d been ripped off. A magazine called Cooks Source took her article,which she posted on this website: http://www.godecookery.com/twotarts/twotarts.html and wholesale printed it in their magazine, without her permission and without compensation. When she found out she contacted the editor Judith Griggs and had a bit of to and fro in emails. Next, she says:

After the first couple of emails, the editor of Cooks Source asked me what I wanted — I responded that I wanted an apology on Facebook, a printed apology in the magazine and $130 donation (which turns out to be about $0.10 per word of the original article) to be given to the Columbia School of Journalism.

What I got instead was this (I am just quoting a piece of it here:)

“Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.

But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!”

Let’s break down this lovely and arrogant reply:

  1. She claims she knows copyright laws, however they are long and complicated and as she goes on, she doesn’t know the first thing about copyright, let alone its convolutions.
  2. She says the web is considered public domain. Again, that is absolutely wrong as there is original graphic art, books, songs, magazines, etc. posted on the web and many people’s personal blogs like this one, and none of it is public domain unless it says so.
  3. She claims “it” as in copyright infringement happens a lot especially in the workplace and on college campuses. Perhaps it does, but workplaces fire people and campuses boot students who are caught plagiarizing someone else’s works.
  4. She says Monica should be happy they didn’t lift the article and put someone else’s name on it. So I guess it’s okay to lift an article and keep Monica’s name on it.
  5. She tells Monica her article needed editing and now Monica can use it for her portfolio, forgetting that in most cases the author can still approve edits, should the author know the magazine is using the story.
  6. As well, she can’t understand why Monica would want money if they edited her article, forgetting that this is the job of an editor, when they have bought a piece and that the author is still paid. Though somehow, this editor thinks Monica should pay her because she stole the article, printed it, edited it without permission and then Monica should be grateful.
  7. She then goes on to say she never charges writers for advice. Thank god for that because her advice sucks.
  8. Oh and the writers always write for her for free. Wow, because writing is worth so little and no one should be paid and she is so mighty and her magazine so godlike they should just grovel in the mud and feel blessed to be noticed by such an entity.

Wow. The sheer arrogance in this and lack of any real apology or understanding of copyright or the editing process has buried this woman in hellfire. How do I know? As I post this, I think back to only 24 hours ago when I first read Monica’s piece, then checked out Cooks Source’s meager webpage and their Facebook page. I was the third person to post there in regards to their appalling behavior.

In the last day about 3,000 people have posted and Cooks Source is the laughing stock (just like soup but with less taste) in many writing circles, not to mention the newspapers. How to kill your mag. Of course, good ole Judith thinks it’s great. Here’s what she posted about 16 hours after the debacle ensued:

Well, here I am with egg on my face! I did apologise to Monica via email, but aparently it wasnt enough for her. To all of you, thank you for your interest in Cooks Source and Again, to Monica, I am sorry — my bad!
You did find a way to get your “pound of flesh…” we used to have 110 “friends,” we now have 1,870… wow!

Best to all, Judith

(Should we edit her supposed apology and point out she misspelled “apparently” and then get her to pay us for it?) I guess she doesn’t realize that most of us don’t give a damn about the magazine, that she owes Monica more than an apology, not to mention all the other authors that she’s stolen from, which has come to light because of this. These friends should be enemies and the magazine has sunk itself or at least Griggs’ career. Will she surface again? Oh sure, just like the scum in the proverbial barrel. But any smart writer will not come within 100 feet of anything she’s involved in. Interestingly, their meager webpage now has nothing listed under the “About” or “Contact Us” pages.

Karma is a bitch.

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Filed under crime, Culture, news, people, Publishing, Writing