Is OVER everyone jumping off the Republican cliff

All right, boys and girls, I don't usually make political statement posts but enough is enough. People are losing their empty minds over a presidential speech to students (which EVERY President has done BEFORE Obama, in case some missed that over the decades) that hasn't even been made yet. They're calling it "indoctrinatined our children against their family values". I'm sorry but since when has it been against family values to encourage kids to stay in school, reach for the stars and never give up? Are the Republicans and far rights conservatives really that desperate to have Obama be the failure that Bush was? Seriously, is this all you've got? As per the whitehouse.gov site, this is what many people are afraid of. The world can continue to keep laughing at us. We have really gotten to be that ridiculously stupid:



It's been a long while....

...I've not had the time, energy or motivation to blog lately. Too much has been going on....while hundreds of my co-workers are being ground into powder and spat out by the corporate machine, people are losing their minds over misinformation in regards to universal healthcare, our basic rights, other people's rights and how we really affect the world around us.

I've been reading more these days, mostly because the charm of Facebook is wearing thin, my interest in MySpace waned a LONG time ago and I needed something to calm my mind.

Do pick up Ruth Downie's series of books featuring Gaius Petreius Ruso, Roman military doctor turned unwilling sleuth (Medicus, Terra Incognita and Persona Non Grata). Entertaining stuff. It's about time that I do something a bit more constructive....perhaps it's time to get back into writing.

Amazon de-listing LGBT books considered "adult" (read: AMAZON FAIL)

It seems that Jeff Bezos and the folks at Amazon have failed the way no other bookseller can fail (hell, this fail was even worse that the LJ fail). Let's take a look at some of the firestorm this little bit of idiocy has touched off, shall we?

An Open Letter to Jeff Bezos

Dear Jeff,

I don’t know if you use Twitter, but you might be aware of something called #amazonfail, currently the most talked-about topic among the network of 5m+ users. This is an online expression of dismay at Amazon’s new and apparently discriminatory censorship policy.

If the version circulating on the Internet is correct, your new policy of excluding ‘adult’ material from Amazon searches by removing their sales ranking runs as follows:

“In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.”

The idea of protecting us from ‘adult’ material seems unnecessary, when your own Conditions of Use (USA / UK) restrict Amazon purchases to adults. But my concern - and that of the many people tweeting with the #amazonfail tag - is how you define ‘adult material’.

In my country, a few years before you were born, a book was published following a notorious obscenity trial. The prosecution was ridiculed for being out of touch with changing social norms when the chief prosecutor asked if it was the kind of book “you would wish your wife or servants to read”. Publication went ahead, 32 years after the book was written, and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” has since become regarded as a classic work of English literature.

Overnight, you appear to have overturned that hard-won decision and reclassified it as filth that we should be protected from.

Worse still, D.H. Lawrence notwithstanding, your definition of ‘adult material’ appears mainly to apply to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender books. Non-explicit LGBT literature, history and biography is censored, while explicit hetero books are not. No longer can we find Jeanette Winterson’s “Oranges are not the Only Fruit” or Annie Proulx’s “Brokeback Mountain” by sales rank. But we may still find “Playboy: The Complete Centerfolds” and Alan Moore’s “Lost Girls”, a graphic novel in every sense. Even our National Treasure, Stephen Fry, appears to have had his autobiography de-ranked, while it it all too easy to find Jackie Collins.

You can see many more examples of this curious inconsistency listed on the online petition that many of us are currently signing, and on this handy list.

This looks very much like blatant homophobia. Would you care to share your selection criteria with us? Or have you simply gone through your Gay & Lesbian section with a red pen?

This approach to what is deemed obscene and what is not takes publishing on a backward step that makes you seem as out of touch with modern social norms as Mervyn Griffith-Jones. As Kasia Krozier points out, we can freely find “Mein Kampf”, books on training fighting dogs, and other offensive material. But the works of E.M. Forster and D.H. Lawrence appear not to be the kind of books you would wish us to read.

Well, you have your wish. We will not buy them - from Amazon at least. As well as signing the online petition, joining the Facebook Group and redefining “Amazon rank“, we shall boycott Amazon until this policy is reversed. Other online retailers are available, other highstreet chains - maybe we shall even support our local independent bookshop.

I hope this is a mistake that will be quickly corrected, and not a conscious policy of discrimination. I look forward to a public response to the many blog posts and tweets on the subject that have been written this weekend.


Jon Reed, Publishing Talk

Many more have come to fore and offered up their own opinions, observations, etc:

Online censorship? Amazon strips ranking of Gay and Lesbian books

Amazon Follies

and, of course, the Amazon Petition

The takeaway here is: it's not wise to brass off your investors, your customers (both present, past and future) and even less wise to assume that all are too stupid enough to filter their own content. Methinks someone's head is going to be on the chopping block tomorrow. Thankfully, it won't be mine.
badass Lang

When your employer is being a jerk....

...sell your mad skillz on Ebay! Look, if a guy can sell his whole LIFE on Ebay and have something positive come out of it, why not give it a shot? And sooooo, she did. I think it's the first time Diana ever took my ramblings seriously.

Baku-ten hotties

This proves that Darwin was just wrong wrong wrong ALL WRONG

Survival of the fittest, my butt. It's hard to know how to react to this....should I be sad that there are people who are this pathetic or should I simply laugh my head off at just how stupid people can be? Choices, choices *bangs head on desk*

*The 2007 Darwin Awards*

*Yes, it's that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are
bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.*

*Here is the glorious winner:*

*When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim
during a hold-up in Long Beach , California , would-be robber James
Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the
barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.*

*And now, the honorable mentions:*

*The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat-cutting
machine and, after a little shopping around, submitted a claim to his
insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent out one of its
men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a
finger. The chef's claim was approved.*

*A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car
during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman
had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.*

*After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver
found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting
from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his
incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone
waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the
mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable
and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn't discovered for 3

*An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head
wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the
injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close
he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.*

*A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter,
and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man
pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk
promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled,
leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got
from the drawer... $15.

[If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime

*Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that
he'd just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some
booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his
head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be
thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was
made of Plexiglas. The whole event was caught on videotape.*

*As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed
her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was
able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within
minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car
and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and
told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, "Yes,
officer, that's her. That's the lady I stole the purse from."*

*The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a
Burger King in Ypsilanti , Michigan, at 5 A.M., flashed a gun, and
demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn't open the cash
register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the
clerk said they weren't available for breakfast. The man, frustrated,

*When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a
Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived
at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near
spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying
to steal gasoline and plugged his siphon hose into the motor home's
sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press
charges saying that it was the best laugh he'd ever had.*

Happy New Year 2008!

Yeah, I'm late, as usual. Sue me. :p Happy New Year, folks. Do yourselves a favour: love the one you're with, love the ones you're NOT with, give away the change in that hitherto unnoticed pocket of your jeans (with pocket lint and all....show's that you care and such ;-) ), cherish the little things like a spontaneous origami gift from a Japanese stranger you sat next to on your cruise, remember that life really is too short to sweat the small stuff (hell, even the big stuff is a pain in the ass) and hope travels far.

Peace, y'all.


I'm a doubting thomas, I don't keep my promises

Warm humid breezes whip my hair, caress my face.....lights flicker and fade in clouds that are pregnant with moisture. Summer's coming. Really, when I think about it, she's already here, isn't she? That fickle season that feels so much more special when you're living here in the South amongst the honeysuckle and sakura. Mandolins are playing in my ears, in my head, that hard strum that leaves my chest heavy but not. It's hard to describe what it's like to be alone but not necessarily lonely. I've got books, television but it's always music that has all of my attention, from the time I wake up until I close my eyes deep into the warm inky darkness.

Summer...her arrival is fortuitous...I can't think of a better way to spend it than on the porch
a starless night for company
haunting voices to remind me that I still have a soul.

What will be left when I've drawn my last breath
Besides the folks I've met and the folks who've known me
Will I discover a soul-saving love
Or just the dirt above and below me

I'm a doubting Thomas
I took a promise
But I do not feel safe
Oh me of little faith

Sometimes I pray for a slap in the face
Then I beg to be spared cause I'm a coward
If there's a master of death
I bet he's holding his breath
As I show the blind and tell the deaf about his power

I'm a doubting Thomas
I can't keep my promises
Cause I don't know what's safe
Oh me of little faith

Can I be used to help others find truth
When I'm scared I'll find proof that it's a lie
Can I be led down a trail dropping bread crumbs
That prove I'm not ready to die

Please give me time to decipher the signs
Please forgive me for time that I've wasted

I'm a doubting Thomas
I'll take your promise
Though I know nothin's safe
Oh me of little faith

For still I run...

Dreams...they're very fickle things. They're either amazingly detailed or just plain odd. I think this falls in both categories, strangely enough, but I didn't want to make it a full fledged story so...I improvised...and truncated...and left out a LOT. It gave me a headache just trying to resurrect the details from my sleep-fogged brain. Anyway, I dreamt it so I felt some obligation to share....get rid of it so it wouldn't keep worrying at me like a boo-boo on a child's knee.

Morning dawns slowly in the southern half of the province as the sun makes its slow stride across the heavens. The landscape is blanketed with near silence; no chirping birds, no lowing of cattle or bleating of sheep. Nothing save for the occasional rusty hoots and chugs of machinery clearly past its prime.

Minutes drag by as the lonely sounds can be heard coming inexorably closer until a large object shadows the horizon. Two figures can be seen riding atop a sleek, ancient diesel engine as it speeds down an (until recently) unused stretch of dual rails.

“We’re going really fast!”

“What?” the driver yells to be heard above the din in the engine room below him.

“Fast! I said really fast!” his passenger shouts in reply.

The boy-man engineer nods emphatically. Orange earplugs bob in both ears as his head moves to respond. “Oh yeah, well Uncle and Grand-Uncle started scrubbin’ these rails ‘bout five years ago. Brother-boy clears weeds and carcasses from the track and they scrub.” He pats the newly painted skin of the bullet-shaped engine with obvious pride. Both engineer and passenger sit in silence for a time, enjoying the chill wind rushing through the open cockpit wheelroom as the sun’s rays bathe the countryside in orangish-silvery light.

“Ah found this beauty outside o’ the city. You saw it a ways back,” he continues in his thick, rhythmic dialect, cocking a calloused thumb behind him. His equally youthful-looking passenger is half-listening as his bright eyes dart to and fro in an effort to take in as much of this new world as possible.

He starts in surprise when he feels a strong poke in his side. “Ker, are you still a-listenin’?” The young man sits ramrod straight and waves his hands in denial.

“No, no! I heard everything you said, Millen. It’s just…” Ker’s voice trails off. “I’ve never been this far outside of the Compound before. I never knew any of this existed.”

Millen snorts in derision at Ker’s mention of his home. “Ain’t never understood why anyone would want ta live all closed in like chickens in a pen. What were yer elders thinkin’?”

The inquisitive light in Ker’s eyes is replaced by wistful contemplation at the comment. “I don’t know,” he admits. “They told us that there was nothing left out here…that we were safer all in one place, together. Saying there was strength in numbers.”

“Hmph, sounds like brain-sick nonsense to me. A man’s got ta have his space. That’s what my elders say,” Millen growls as he adjusts one of the valves nearest to his hand and tugs on the throttle. “Hang on, kid. Gonna give us a bit more gas.”

Ker gripped the rails on his perch in the wheelroom a little tighter at suggestion of his new friend. “Gas?” he inquires, his freckled nose wrinkling with curiousity.

The engineer flashes him a wolfish grin. “Speed, son! Speed!” Excited laughs fill the air as the sudden rush of acceleration nearly throws them both to the metal-plated floor.

Hours later, when both boys were fatigued from their journey and the mid-afternoon heat shimmered off the rails, they would swear they heard a song on the wind, one that possibly came from the train itself:

“Though years have left me bare
And my tracks they will have shunned
When no one is left to care
It matters not, for still I run.”


If only..

If only you weren't in my mind, randomly shocking me out of my self-induced torpor
Perhaps my thoughts would be quieter, less inquisitive.

If only you weren't in my life, taking up the space inside me that would have otherwise been

If only you weren't that something I've grown to look forward to
In my otherwise chaotic world filled with people I don't wish to know
and events I'd rather not be involved in

If only I lacked the genetic wherewithal to have feelings, to care
Perhaps things would not be quite so difficult

There are so many could-haves, would-haves, should-haves
but no answers
only more questions that draw me deeper into myself
As the light above me grows dimmer

Who would have thought that these things could affect me so much?