Friday, October 24, 2014

I'm Not Done Writing

So I just wrote like 3 pages but I'm not done yet.  So I am going to write some more.  This is good though.  I've been writing more fiction recently.  Nothing coherent mostly stuff  on scratch paper on my lunch breaks to get me into the groove of fiction writing again.  National Novel Writing Month is around the corner and I want to participate this year.

I thought I had an idea of a novel all planned out and ready to go.  This is something I wanted to do and I was ready to do it.  Then all the sudden a couple of weeks ago I was like, "but what if I don't".  What if I write something else?  So I've been planning for that.  I want to do a noir style book where a guy starts with a normal happy every day life and then it all gets flipped upside down and by the end of it he's in thick with the wrong crowd but he decides to stay.  Part Black Lagoon, part Sin City, part Fatale, part American Tabloid, part Cold in July, and a dash of creativity.  I hope I like it.  I've decided to write it in the first person.

One of my favorite authors, James Ellroy, once said, "If you don't have an interesting perspective then don't bother with the 1st person.  Just stick to 3rd".  That's always stuck with me and as a result all of my novels and stories have been in the third person,  When he said that he was eluding to White Jazz which is the one book that people seem to hate the most.  It is very different than his other works but man it just drew me in and took me along for the ride.  I loved every page of it and yeah he's right.  If you aren't going to get in your character's head and I mean really get into it then don't fucking bother.  Stick to third person.  I've been trying out various characters in first person and it is a hell of a ride.  Here's an extended quote.  To give you the set up the main character is trying to track down a murderer and set up a prostitution sting operation to help find someone who might know the killer.

"Bluesuits out in force: popping tricks, impounding trick cars.
Prostie vans behind Cooper's Donuts; Vice bulls bagging IDs. Men stationed southbound and northbound- hot to foil sex prowlers hot to rabbit.
My perch: Cooper's roof.  Ordnance: binoculars, a bullhorn.
Dig the panic:
Johns soliciting whores-cops grabbing them.  Vehicles impounded, van detainment- fourteen fis bagged so far, prelim Q&A:
"You married?"
"You on parole or probation"
"You like it white or colored?  Sign this waiver, we might cut you loose at the station."
No Lucille K.
Some clown tried to run- a rookie plugged his back tires.
Epidemic boo-hoo- "DON'T TELL MY WIFE!" Leg-shackle clangs-the prostie vans shook.
Luck-whores mixed fifty-fifty: white gils, coons.  Fourteen tricks arrested- all Caucasian.
Panic down below: Shriners bagged en masse.  Five men, fez hats flying- a whore grabbe one and pranced.
I hit the bullhorn: "We've got nineteen! Let's close it down!"

This along with the description of Catch-22, just before the execution of  Colonel Aureliano Buendia, and a certain passage out of Nightwood make up my pantheon of favorite literary moments.  Anyway you see what I mean by making first person work and I mean really work.  It isn't worth it unless you get into someone's head.  Someone who think and acts differently than you.  I'm not going to go quite that far.  I am going to use him as kind of an unreliable narrator.  He is also going to undergo some signifigant changes.  If I take the time to do it right the style of writing would be different from the first and second half of the book but it is NaNoWriMo so what will more than likely happen is that I'll just be frenzily hammering out the plot.  Speaking of the plot I have the beginning and the end pretty well thought out and part of the first part of the middle.  So I am actually pretty excited about this novel.  I hope it turns out well.  Last years novel was fun but easy.  I set it in an rpg universe and while I had a blast writing it and it turned out surprisingly well it wasn't challenging.  It was the most complex plot I've ever tackled but still it all clicked together a little to well.  That said I do very much want to edit it up and do something with it.  This one I am really looking forwards to.

They say not to compare yourself to others and just do your own thing but Gérard de Villiers wrote 3 novels a year for most of his life.  Granted they aren't very good but they certainly are fun to read which is all he wanted really.  It gives you pause to think.  Anywho the self comparison always inspired me to do better and reach for more and not be to self satisfied which is something I am prone to.  However, I have fits of depression that make getting out of bed and not being cruel to people and unbelievably difficult task so sometimes I earn it.

I don't want to dwell here lets move on.

I am going to get an ebook reader in November.  I am getting a Kindle.  I could just order it now.  Right now.  I have Amazon open in a tab because I needed to look up the spelling of Gérard de Villiers's name and it has an add for the kindle.  I could one click order that shit.  However, I am waiting till black friday/cyber monday in hopes of a good sale on the things.  Whenever I mention my Kindle quest people always say, "printed books are awesome" and they are right.  I am with these people 100% but damnit I am out of room for books.  I have books everywhere.  I have shelves of books.  I could sell them at a used book store but I have a rather "distinctive" taste in books.  Most of my prefered books aren't even carried by Barns a Million let alone a used book store so giving them a milk crate of books in exchange for 5 bucks credit doesn't do me any good.  That and a lot of books I want to read are political in nature and those books have a shelf life of maybe 5 years before the information is out dated and needs updating.  These books are a third of the price digitally.  Mostly though it is the space issue.  It is just a pain in the ass.

The thing is though is that the Kindle or the idea of the Kindle is quaint.  I've put off getting an ebook reader for awhile.  Me?  I hate reading off the computer screen.  There is something about it that sends my reading comprehension into the shitter.  Even when I unplug from the internet and my book is the only thing on the screen my comprehension goes in the shitter.  Don't know why.  The reason I say the idea of the Kindle is quaint though is because it is a dedicated electronic device and those are going the way of the dinosaur.

Back in the day a computer with a net connection was your gateway to the world.  Then it was if you had a lap top you could take your world anywhere.  Now?  Now people hold the internet in the palm of their hands.  Cellphones have procession power that wasn't even dreamed of 20 years ago let alone in the palm of your hand.  Kindles are quaint in the same way desktop computers are quaint.  The vast majority of the things most people do with a desktop pc can be done on a cell phone or a tablet.  Heck with Skype, Facetime, and Facebook messenger you almost don't need a cell plan anymore.  So why get a dedicated device when for the same amount of money I could get a phone, internet browser, mini multimedia station?  The plain and simple answer is that the Kindle's screen is better for reading than a cell phone one.  That's all and I am willing to overpay for a nice screen and cheaper books that won't clutter up my house but would break my heart to throw away.  Perhaps there is somewhere I could donate them.  It is strange though.  I had a baby laptop and I loved it until it died.  I mostly interneted and wrote on it.  If I hadn't decided to use my PC as a gaming platform I prolly would of just invested in another baby laptop and a stream box for my tv.  One day having a desktop PC will be completely outdated.  I don't know what the work space will look like but I do know I'll still need a keyboard to type on.

I just can't seem to organize my thoughts as well when I use text to type.  I can also type faster than I can talk so there's that.  I just think it is a little funny.  All my life I've had a desktop PC in one form or another in my house from the ancient commador 64 to my custom built gaming rig.  It just seems odd that in the next 20 years they might not even be a thing any more.  It is also odd to think of me living 20 more years but that's a different topic for another time.

I keep seeing more and more about how we are addicted to technology and it is rewiring our brains and blah blah blah.  Me?  I think that most of it is a load of crap.  I think that blaming our problems on technology is a convenient way of putting the chicken before the egg.  People claim we are now more isolated than ever before but we have 50 thousand different ways to fucking talk to each other so I don't see the problem.  There is that endless meme of the people all sitting near each other on their phones instead of having conversations with each other but let me tell you before we all had cell phones we all didn't live in some mystical fucking fantasy land were we all sat around and talked to each other for hours on end.  That never happened.  The only time that happens is when you are in a bar because that's part of what being in a bar is all about.

People aren't addicted to technology they are addicted to themselves.  Hell they aren't even addicted to themselves they are addicted to things that validate themselves.  That's what the whole gamer's gate thing is self validation of some stupid identity that doesn't matter.  That is what the like button on facebook is.  It is a non verbal one click way for you to validate other people's posts.  It lets you say, "I support this message" without actually typing the words.  It is also why you are a chode when you like your own posts.  Communication over facebook is secondary to the idea of self validation.  The comercialization of the internet just made it easier for groups of like minded people to gather and exchange idea that they already agree on.  The reason why this happens is because people like to talk to people they already agree with.  So why not monetize it.  This is why certain tumbler groups get really weird.  Or why forums become overly policed so everyone stays on message.  This policing can be either formal or informal.  It is also why some people talk in memes.

The other day at work Cory and I were discussing Gamer's Gate and he made the comment that the Chans are the most horrible thing to come out of the internet.  I disagree.  Other than the specifically illeagal stuff like child pornography I kind of accept the Chans.  I've met a lot of people over the course of my life and as a result I've gained an understanding of the chans.  I don't like them but like most internet communities if you leave them alone they are happy to exist in a self perpetuating circle jerk.  No the worst thing to come out of the internet is the meme.  The picture with the white words.  This picture can then be shared over and over again without any thought from the person who shares it.  People can then "like" it and even optionally share it again.  Memes intrinsically have no value.  Oftentimes they only require a modicum of creativity and effort to make and distribute.  That's okay though because in general people spend a minimum amount of time processing the information within the meme, usually in the form of retension and then they move on.  Meme's are essentially short hand for thought proceeses but what is horrible about them is that because of the way they are distributed they are perfectly preserved.  A meme can be shared hundreds or millions of times.  I can go viral and when that happens it penetrates the national consciousness and everyone knows what this meme is and yet it is perfectly preserved the entire time.

Things need to change in order to improve.  Sometimes they change for the worst.  Sometimes they change for the best.  The point is that things need to change.  If things remain static that is just what they are.  Static.  Static thoughts are the worst and that is exactly what a meme is.  For the most part they are fun, like grumpy cat.  But more and more they are being used to boil down complex issues into easily digestable and believable facts.  On large comment threads on facebook, after a certain point it degrades into people tagging their friends and people posting pictures of Michael Jackson eating popcorn.  When people want to make charged statements they pull out that fucking Willy Wonka picture instead of just saying what they think and lord if you ever feel like taking a trip down a conspiracy theory rabbit hole one day the comment threads are littered with pictures that have words on them.  Memes are an actual honest to god horror.  Sure in moderation they are fun but I've listened to multiple groups of people have entire conversations in memes in real life for hours.

Why?  Well Memes are a quick and simple nugget of thought.  You can throw one up and quickly get validation as to whether or not people agree with it.  If they do then score you can post related memes and it is cruise control for having a thought process.  The more meme's you know the easier it is to fit in with other people who know their memes.  After awhile it allows people to talk in shorthand.  Jargon laden specialties in acedemia lets you do the same thing.  The difference is that jargon lets you expand ideas quickly while memes preserve ideas indefinitly.  When people talk in memes they aren't really talking to each other but instead it is like a preverse call and responce.

This is a topic I'd like to revisit another time however.  It is 1:30 in the morning and I've been writing since like 9ish.  I'd also like to bring in some literary theory to this dicussion.  Marxists are usually technophobic which is ironic because currently technology has out paced the means of production in many areas.  However, the meme plays directly into a lot of their fears specfically the fears of Walter Benjamin so I want to reread one of his essays and use that to frame my thoughts.

This was good thought I got a nice rough draft of what I wanna say right here.

Something Else

It has been a very long month.  When my pay check came in the mail and I saw that I had 10 hours of overtime on it I got physical proof that I was tired because I'd been working a lot and not because I'd become some tremendous sissy in the past couple of years.  My relief was tangible so much so that it caused a gentle rain to grace a drought stricken land.  It wasn't enough of a rain to do anyone any good.  It just made some mud which got tracked into a house and caused a fight which spun out of control.  The police got involved.  But I am sure in the end it will work out alright.  The lesson here is that I very much need to take some time off and I will!

That is not what I wanted to write about though.  I just wanted a little bit to warm up.  However, seeing as how I haven't picked a topic yet I'm just going to go through things  that are on my surface thoughts.  I have at least 4.

1)  Sometimes when I come up across a thing I don't understand I don't research the solution to said problem.  Instead I keep it in the back of my mind, mull it over, and try to unravel it for myself.  I know full well that the solution to my problem is a well asked question away or in most cases 45 minutes with google but sometimes it is best to put your problem solving skills to work especially when they are big concept problems that greatly affect our every day lives.  I am ashamed to admit that this particular problem took my a couple of years to unravel.  Now granted I didn't spend several years in a row puzzling over it.  In fact I went for months without thinking about it.  However, it is one of those things that should of been much simpler to solve and it wasn't due to my fundamental lack of understanding of how our monetary system works.  This pisses me off a little bit but that's a different topic.

The problem was, "Why did President Clinton merge investment banking and personal banking?".  See before Clinton a law was passed by someone, I don't remember who and I don't feel like looking it up.  The law stated that there would be a separation of investment and personal banking.  Personal banking is what you use when you want  a loan, a savings account and a checking account.  The bank is supposed to take part of your savings account, turn them into safe loans.  This keeps your money in the community and offers up some safe guards against financial crisis.  An investment bank does all the crazy fucking stockmarket shit.

So why on god's green earth would we merge the two.  During the great depression people lost everything when the banks folded.  We have institutions which are to big to fail.  By the by our pathetic excuse for a media organization has been using that phrase wrong.  To big to fail means that should the institution fail it would take enough of our ecconomy with it that the results would be catastrophic.  They are a thing that legally shouldn't excist and yet there they are.

Anyway the reason for the merge is simple.  Like bloody simple.  One most of us belong to national bank chains like Bank of America, or Wells Fargo or something similar.  So it isn't like our savings and loan comes from and goes to local sources anyway.  Two money in a savings account is, ecconmically speaking, useless.  It might as well be shoved under a mattress, buried in your back yard, or even burned.  Money that doesn't circulate has no purpose.  It has to move through the system in order to grow.  By opening our savings accounts to the risks of investment banking now all that money we tuck away for a rainy day is free to circulate around the ecconomy which helps stimulate growth.

I am unable to verify this, because I lack the research material but I am willing to bet there are links to the explosion of the financial markets and this law.  Has it been a bad law?  Well that's still up for debate but I am leaning no but until I can explain it I can't really have an opinion.  Oh well.  That is something I can't just magically figure out for myself.  I'd need to do some heavy reading and it is a question that is still being answered to this day.  Is it a good law or not?  Oh well.  Yeah I am nerd.  But whatever nerds are in.

2) I was doing the same process with the problem of minimum wage being 15 monies an hour.  I figured both of these problems out in the same week!  YAY!  I may be tired and have most of the joy sucked out of me but damnit I am thinking about shit.  WOO!  *removes top* *then gets shy and puts top back on and sits back down a little red faced*.  Anyway yeah some people want the minimum wage to be 15 monies.  They keep siting the law that states the minimum wage should provide a working wage.

Now opponents to this have mostly been really dismissive and nasty.  Basically you are poor and you work a shitty job so go fuck yourselves.  Or less agressivley, "Well why don't you hire a lawyer and...OH WAIT we don't pay you enough to do that HA!  Fuckers".  If I had the energy I'd go find a quote from the CEO of Applebee's I never really ate their because their food is a bunch of bland overpriced piles of shit but holy crap did that man  make an ass of himself during the passing of the Affordable Care Act.  I've hated him ever since.

Back to the topic at hand as a poor worker, I and the people around me would benefit greatly from a 15 dollar per hour pay check but it is a bad idea and I finally fucking figured out why.  This one only took a could of months.  Okay so here's the skinny.  The minimum wage was started in 1938 and back then the world was a very different place than it is today.  Hell the world back in the 50's was a different place that it is today.  When manufacturing was America's major source of jobs the American economy was a very different place than it is today.  The main reason being is that just about everyone who was working was working for their lives.  By that I mean these folks worked while they were either in high school or immediately after in factories, stores, farms, salesmen, for the rest of their lives.  Summer break still existed so kids could help out on the farm or get a job to help their family raise money to get through the winter.  College was reserved for those who were already rich and planned on entering into business or law.  It was also the year Superman made his first appearance.  The specter of WW2 loomed writ large though no one really knew it yet.  Most families subsisted off of a single income provided by the man while the woman stayed at home to take care of the house and children.  This point is important because our work force was 51% smaller as a result.

Things are very different now.  Hell things are different now then they were ten years ago.  NOW there are kids who get a job in high school because they are bored and they just want some spending money.  There are people who are getting jobs as a form of recreation I can't fucking fathom what is wrong with people like that but they are out there.  I've met them.  There are kids who get jobs because their parents believe that having a job will help teach them responsibility.  College is something that everyone can now go to.  Granted the student debt thing is fucked and something to be tackled latter but the point is that you can at least get in the door.  Women are part of our workforce now and they are holding more and more positions of power every year.  Good on them I say.

The point being is that 15 dollars an hour for a minimum wage is silly because not every person in the workforce is working for their lives.  Some of them are just passing through.  Do they need 15 bucks an hour to pay for school?  Yeah absolutely but lets not muddy the waters here.  Lets stick to two basic things.  One in 1938 when people entered into the workforce they were generally there for good.  Today that is not so much the case.

By setting our wages to 15 dollars an hour it kills our ability to negotiate and there.  Right motherfucking there is the problem.  I got it.  See 10 bucks an hour is a pretty reasonable minimum wage.  I've yet to see an actual job that doesn't deserve 10 bucks an hour.  It also still allows employers to hire on people at 12-15 and more marginally skilled positions without melting the budget.

Lets be very clear when you are paid the minimum wage it is because that is the least amount they are legally allowed to pay you.  If they could get away with less they most likely would and in the past they did.  The minimum wage wasn't enough to protect workers.  That's why they formed unions.  This way workers of similar jobs could band together in a large enough group to force their employers to do horrible things like pay them a living wage or have better working conditions.  I hate to put it this way but people don't want a 15 dollar minimum wage.  What they want is the ability to negotiate their wages in a legal way that avoids retaliation on the behalf of the employers.  Let's use me as an example.  I make X amount of money.  Because of the next sentence I can't say the exact amount.  Now lets say my friend Corey makes X+2 amounts of money.  Corey got hired after me and was made full time almost immediately while my boss dicked me around instead of making me full time.

Had I put down the actual amounts of money we make and it got back to my bosses I could be fired.  Hell I could be reprimanded for talking about the full time situation.  What this does is that it shields my bosses from having to pay us fairly.  To be clear I am not talking about Chef, or the head of Culinary I am talking about their corporate overlords.  They don't have to worry about pus organizing because they can auto fire us for discussing our wages.  This is true for every job.  If the retail workforce were to unionize in a big way they'd have to undertake a serious risk.  Most of us are way to poor and have people who rely on us so we can't afford to take risks.  Our corporate overlords know this.  They know they have us between a rock and a hard place.  They know the one hard worker who is worth the three shit workers will work for the same meger pay as the shit workers so why bother giving anyone merit based raises and yeah that's that son.

The 15 dollar and hour minimum wage is an attempt to circumnavigate this and it isn't a bad one.  Unions have had to fight for their existence for a long time.  They are portrayed as the bad guys and they've had their fair share of problems but they are important for keeping their employers in check.  But they come with a risk.

So what's the solution?  Well it isn't the 15 buck minimum wage.  As much as I'd like it it would slaughter small to mid sized businesses along with some small to mid sized corporations.  It is easy to look at the 1% and say, "Well just give us part of that" but that is a very small population getting a very big piece of pie.  The 15 min wage would fuck everyone over except them and the poor who got to keep their jobs.  At the same time there needs to be a better format for dealing with our bosses than unions.  Unions are the right idea but the wrong methodology.  I can't prove that but it feels right.  We can't use the legal system because, well, it is to slow and to expensive.  Workers do need a better outside arbitration system to quickly and safely air their concerns it needs to happen outside the corporate structure and possibly anonymously but yeah.

I get the problem though.  I understand the feeling but we can't loose sight of the bigger picture.

Well that's enough for one night.  There did something productive.  Imma gonna go eat candy now.