The SDS Challenge — Fourth Gluttony Voting Reminder

Just a quick reminder that the voting for the SDS Challenge Guttony Stories will close in three days (Tuesday).

If you are new to the SDS Challenge, a little background.

Three writers will each write one story a month going down the list of deadly sins. The stories can be anywhere from 666 words to 6,666 words in length, although those numbers are not set in stone. If ambitious, the writers will provide accompanying graphics. These stories will not be anonymous because some writers may want to use the same characters for each story and write a series — or book — encompassing all seven sins. Finally, interpretation of the titular sin is up to the writer. Meaning, each ‘sin’ can take multiple forms.

Disclaimer: The writing challenge has no restrictions and the stories will likely span a wide gamut of genres. The majority of the stories fall in the PG-rating range with a few perhaps pushing into the soft R-rating. Some readers might find a few of the stories disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, and if so, stop reading and move on.

If you want to read the Seven Deadly Sins submissions for the Sin of Gluttony, and then vote, your gateway is THIS POST <<link. There, you’ll find links to each of the three stories and a poll for you to vote after you finish them (if you be so moved).

With three days left, we sit at 19 votes cast. The Twins are neck-and-neck and vying for the top spot.

As for the next group of stories (Greed), I’ll have mine done by Monday, but I’ve not heard from the Twins.

Let’s see . . . what else is going on? Oh, yeah . . . I read THIS<<link article that further disincentivizes my motivation to get published.

The thing is, just like on Amazon (who owns Goodreads), there’s a huge problem with people posting fake reviews. On Amazon, I no longer trust the reviews, even when I check them out with FakeSpot<<link. FakeSpot is supposed to give you a measure of the number of “legitimate” reviews, but even that’s not exactly confidence-inspiring. All they’re doing is checking the reviewers to see if they posted elsewhere. In other words, if they have a history of making reviews.

The problem is that’s not a guarantee the reviews are legitimate. You can hire people to write favorable reviews, and — per the article — there are groups who will attempt to extort money from individuals and companies to not write bad reviews. Plus, there are what are “professional reviewers” and “amateur reviewers” . . . people who are given a product (for free) so they could try it and write a review. Sorry, I no be trusting your review.

But, for writing in particular, I think I’ve touched on this before. A few years ago I was reading lots of books to get a feel for the current landscape of mystery writing. Guess what? Some of the highly-rated books were pure crap. This wasn’t just me not liking them for reasons of preference; some of those books were terrible. They had weak plots or huge plot holes, unrealistic characters, and the writing skill was not evident. Often, those books (despite being recently released) had many, many reviews. Now, I can understand that for famous authors, but not for lesser-known authors, even if we assume everyone who reads a book will write a review of it (I’d be surprised if the ratio is more than 10-to-1).

Still Life

I may be a little late with this, but I figure I would bring a little relief to the oppressive heat with a few photos from our winters in Colorado.

Of course, this does nothing to help people on the wrong side of the world who are currently experiencing winter weather. Note: I fully expect some comments from my use of the word “wrong”.

Anyway, back to writing. Leaving aside my recent piece that peripherally touched — and perhaps demonstrated — how difficult it is to have one’s views correctly interpreted (especially when purposefully misinterpreted), I’ve recently heard a few discussions about cancel culture.

I’m especially interested in the propensity of them whom I consider ‘bad actors’ to hunt for anything they can use to attack others. I’m sure you’ve heard of examples where someone will dig up something so-and-so wrote 20 years before and use it (often, by intentionally misinterpreting the context) to ruin someone’s life.

Is it something I concern myself with? Well . . . not overly, but, yeah. You see, in today’s world of extreme left and right politics, it’s actually somewhat dangerous to get on someone’s radar even if you’ve done nothing wrong and even if you’re not overtly political.

So, let’s say I get a book published (unlikely) and it’s a huge success (extremely unlikely) and the spotlight of public interest swings my way (a practical impossibility) . . . well, there are always people who — for whatever demented reason — will take exception to you doing well, and they’ll make it their mission in life to “fuck you up!”, but good.

Frost, Winter,

Now, personally, I would not be worried (I can handle it, and probably even give something back) . . . but the way things are these days — what with cowardice being so prevalent — it’s likely (and it has happened) that said bad actors will (and have) gone after people’s family and friends.

And, let’s be even more honest . . . I’m approaching 3,000 blog posts and FSM knows how many comments, both here, and on other people’s blogs.

As secure as I am in my view, it’s conceivable — even likely — someone could comb through those posts and find something that could be construed to support whatever they want to accuse me of, especially given my propensity for flippancy.

As odious a tactic as that might be, I think it’s effective because no one wants to be the cause of grief to one’s family and friends.

Disclaimer: this is just me using what I see happening to others, and it’s not something that’s actually happened to me (I’m not that important or on anyone’s radar). It’s also NOT the reason why I’m not actively trying to get published. The actual reason is more mundane; I’m lazy. I want to clarify this to keep people from giving me the usual encouragement. Don’t construe any of this as me playing victim, me being hampered from doing anything I want, and me holding back. I’m lazy, is all.

But, let me swing it back around to the fake reviews … it all stems from the same fountain. Anonymity. All of the major platforms massively fail to police their members. I know people who have multiple accounts under different credentials. I saw comments and tweets and posts— when I was active on Tweets and Facebook — written mostly by entities who don’t use their real names.

Anonymity promotes bad behavior (why lots of crime happens at night). Not by people who are inherently honorable and honest, but by slimelords who have lives too pathetic for any light to shine on them. Their otherwise worthless flesh gains a measure of self-importance and relevancy — in their twisted minds — by them acting as supreme assholes. I mean, they have a choice; they can either use their energy and resources to do good or to be trolls.

And, because the big tech companies (and various platforms) make it so much easier and rewarding, Troll it is.

Frost buildup on metal.

People often wonder why this behavior is allowed. Money.

They may be trolls, they may be the scum of the Earth, but they count toward advertisement revenue. A bad Twitter actor — literally an abuser — can generate a lot of traffic on the platform, and that’s in addition to counting toward total membership numbers.

I fully expect that — were Twitter and Facebook to crack down on multiple accounts and anonymity — shining a light on them would have nine-tenths of the internet’s trolls scurry back under the rocks they came from.

Same with Google who insists on knowing and verifying everything about me but can’t seem to do anything about temporary GMail accounts whose emails are used to spam, threaten, and otherwise make the Internet an unpleasant place to be.

And that’s in addition to the verifiable assholes patrolling the InterWeb.

No, she’s not freezing at all.

As a faux non-sequitur, I was recently listening to an interview with Ezra Klein (LINK). Klein is someone for whom — over time — I’ve lost a fair amount of respect (not that he would care).

In this interview (LINK), while speaking with Coleman Hughes about Cancel Culture, he exemplified what I find wrong with the current level of discourse AND the messages from anyone with any influence. A message steeped in dishonesty.

Namely, I not only think they’re dishonest, but that they have no choice but to be dishonest, both to themselves and their listeners.

Let me clarify . . . at one point during the interview, Klein took great pains to differentiate between “Cancel Culture” and “Cancel Behavior”. You see, apparently, it’s not the assholes who pile onto people to the point of ruining their lives . . . it’s that the companies worry about their bottom lines and hence engage in Cancel Behavior. He made the same point in his Opinion piece in the New York Times. See, it’s the fault of greedy companies!

And all the while, he minimized the Left’s engagement with Cancel Culture (and abuse of it) while bringing up examples of the Right’s engagement with Cancel Culture. This is despite the fact that it’s the Left that overwhelmingly engages in it.

Yes, it will eventually swing to the Right doing more of it than the Left, but at least admit that it’s a ‘Left’ problem right now.

But, more than that, admit that ruining a person’s life is indeed the aim and the expected result of the practice, and not just the unfortunate result of bringing attention to what someone said or did, and have companies act to safeguard their financial interests.

See, that’s the problem. I mean, I don’t know for sure, but I regularly observe it; once someone reaches a certain number of followers, your position, your worth (financial or otherwise), depends on you keeping those followers happy. No way are you going to call them malicious slimelords. Well, you would . . . if you had any integrity.

Take Tucker Carlson (please). I’m sure he’s not an idiot, so what would cause him to make idiotic arguments during his opinion pieces?

Well, heck, there’s a shitload of incentive (money) to keeping his base happy. There’s just no way he would ever admit to being wrong or — gasp! — to having distorted the facts on a given issue or event to promote and reinforce ideas that just happen to be sacred to his followers.

Same for Klein . . . with false modesty, he mentions he has 2M+ followers in the same breath he mentions that he thinks Twitter is — on balance — bad.

Well, shit, Klein! You have, by your own admission, a huge platform from which to fight against the abuses of Cancel Culture, the abuses of your own followers, and the toxicity of Twitter . . . You also now write for The New York Times. That’s an even bigger platform . . . wouldn’t it be logical to at least occasionally shine a spotlight on the Left’s behavior? How about shaming the dog turds making people’s lives miserable and endangering their families and friends? How about coming to the rescue of people being shamed into oblivion?

Do you like how I addressed him personally?

Yeah . . . it’s just a literary tool; it’s not like he’s actually gonna read this post. And, even if he did, I already know what he would say. I’ve listened to him rationalize all sorts of bad arguments.

Full disclosure: I too rationalize my arguments. It’s what people do when debating a given topic. The question is how honestly one does it (how well one understands the opposing view) and the willingness to be convinced, to be swayed from one’s position, and then admit it.

But enough . . . if 3,000 posts have taught me anything, it’s that people are even less interested in my opinions than they are in my fiction. So, let me lighten the mood by linking two scenes from a show (and character) that I immensely enjoyed during the four years of Taxi.

OK, I think this post is long enough so as to lose all but two readers. Time to wrap this up.

Here’s a small gallery of the above photos along with artsified versions of them. As usual, you can find the full-size version on SmugMug HERE<<link. 

Anyway, if at all interested in reading three tales about gluttony, you now know where to find them (and where to vote for the one you like best or hate least) . . . you be got about three days left.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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