Writing, publishing, geekdom, and errata.

Time for the bi-weekly flash writing!

You've seen the posts every other week, so you know the deal.  Write something (poetry, flash fiction, whatever) under 1500 words based on the prompt (see below).  Post it at  (click the forum button and register; it should be mostly painless).   That means that your work hasn't been "previously published".

The deadline is midnight tomorrow (2/17/2018), and critiques 24 hours after that.

You can see the prompt at .  Fair warning: it's definitely aimed at horror writers and might be disturbing.  (Though I would be delighted if someone did something other than horror with it!)

The GOP plan to destroy local businesses - while shaming people who need help.

The GOP administration's plan to replace SNAP (food stamps) with food boxes isn't just about eliminating food choices, or eliminating fresh fruits and vegetables and meats from poor people's diets.

The proposed SNAP change will take $200,000,000,000 away from working people and local economies.

It's about making lower-income neighborhoods even worse, keeping poor people poor, and destroying working-class people.

Photo by Kai Oberhäuser on Unsplash
Let's break it down.

That there are restrictions on what you can buy with SNAP: essentially just food items. 

They're things you'd find in a grocery - probably one close to where you live.  And then you use those benefits at the grocery.  Sure, you get fresh food that way, but you also are spending money at a store in that community. 

If it's a locally owned store, then there's a huge local multiplier effect (tl;dr: money spent locally improves the local economy a lot more.)  Even if it's just a store that employs local people, those benefits have helped not only the person who gets the benefits, but others in the community when those benefits are used.

That isn't the case with these "Harvest boxes".  The money that creates those benefits goes only to the (presumably) large companies that make those boxes and ships them out.  (Since they're nonperishable items, it's reasonable to expect that it will be massively centralized.)  

This program's impact is going to be much greater on people who are not receiving SNAP benefits. They, at least, will still be getting food.

This proposed change will take $200,000,000,000 away from farmers, grocers, and local economies.

And while big retailers like Wal*Mart (who gets a goodly chunk of these monies) will lose the most in raw dollars, they have enough centralization of their own (and other products) to survive.  

Who will lose the greatest percentage of their income?  Local grocers - and that will not only be a blow to local economies, but will create even more food deserts in our country.  (I live and work near one.)

The biggest impact of this program will not be on SNAP recipients.

The biggest impact will be on our local businesses and economies.

And the GOP is doing it by trying to heap shame on people who need help.

An hour of your life is worth a bit less than a pack of incontinence pads.

An hour of your life is worth a bit less than a pack of incontinence pads.

Admittedly, they're 30-count and "created for heaviest leakage", so maybe it would be a more palatable deal to think two to five minutes of your life would be worth a single one of these pads.

But probably not.

My friends and I were talking about cryptocurrency, and we quickly got to how pretty much all currency was "fiat" currency.  That is, it has value because someone (usually a government) says that it has value.  Typically ,when someone thinks of a "backed" currency, they think of it being backed by precious metals - gold and silver.

...but if you think about it hard enough, those are fiat currencies as well.  If everyone suddenly had a bunch of gold, the price would totally drop - because it wouldn't be as scarce.  (And before the tech industry, it wasn't particularly useful.)  Which means that gold doesn't have some kind of absolute value either.1

The only thing that makes sense as an absolute is time.1

Which means, quite simply, that our minimum wage is literally saying what the minimum cost of an hour of someone's life is worth.

And that's less than the value of a pack of incontinence pads from Wal*Mart.

Remember that.

1 Example: It takes time to extract precious metals (leading to their rarity and "value"); if it was easier to get them due to better extraction techniques or a new supply, then the amount of time needed to collect the same amount would go down, and so would the price.

Screw getting news and updates from Facebook. Get it from the source, easily.

You're rethinking how you get your news, information, and just general internet.

Photo by on Unsplash
Maybe it's because of the way Facebook has been pointed at for influencing the election, how it spreads and profits from fake news (and still does, since folks are already finding ways around "safeguards"), how it's reportedly banning/blocking independent creators for sharing their work and crowdfunding projects (instead of buying ads), or the way it's trying to become the next AOL and killing off independent sites like Funny Or Die in the process.

But at the same time, you don't want to go to a bunch of different sites.

Well, friends, let me (re)introduce you to RSS - short for Really Simple Syndication.

Here's the short form: Lots of websites and blogs (including this one) produce a stream of information called an RSS feed.  You can subscribe to these, kinda like you would subscribe to a newsletter, except there's a few big advantages:

You don't give away your e-mail address to scammy marketers.
You know when your favorite websites update.
You don't clog up your e-mail with articles.
Someone at Facebook doesn't decide what you see (and where you see it).
You can open it up and read when you want...
...and if you choose a cloud service, wherever you want.

Sound good?  Then you want to get yourself going with an RSS reader.

Lifewire has more about what RSS is, and how it works

The most aggressively cross-platform one I can find is The Old Reader (it even has a Kindle app) which also has a built-in social aspect.  RSSOwl is one of the more popular cross-platform desktop feed readers; SharpReader is free for Windows, I use Liferea for Linux, Reeder is available for the Mac (though it costs $), Feedly is based on the web (though slightly limited on the basic plan), and there's plenty of other readers out there for web and mobile services as well as self-hosted ones.

I'm loyal to nothing...except the dream.

I've seen some of my friends and acquaintances say it before now, but this... this is my tipping point.
U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday accused Democrats of being “un-American” and “treasonous” for their lack of applause during his State of the Union address last week when he spoke of rising wages and historically low African-American unemployment.

I served alongside soldiers of many different political stripes. Sometimes we agreed. Sometimes we disagreed.

One thing we all agreed on was this core philosophy1:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

By labeling disagreement - not even that, just mere lack of loud approval of Trump - as "un-American" and "treasonous", there is no defense of this administration.


There is no pretending there's a silver lining, that this is a matter of simple disagreements on policy. This, here, is when Trump has openly declared himself to be against America.2

We have a man who wants to be dictator in the White House, surrounded by his cronies and enablers.

He is right about one thing - this is not a time to be silent, not a time to be civil and restrained.

This is a time to roar our loathing of dictators and fascists.

We will not be silent.  We are your bad conscience.

Take us home, Cap.

Listen to me — all of you out there! You were told by this man — your hero — that America is the greatest country in the world! He told you that Americans were the greatest people — that America could be refined like silver, could have the impurities hammered out of it, and shine more brightly! He went on about how precious America was — how you needed to make sure it remained great! And he told you anything was justified to preserve that great treasure, that pearl of great price that is America!

Well, I saw America is nothing! Without its ideals — its commitment to the freedom of all men, America is a piece of trash! A nation is nothing! A flag is a piece of cloth!

I fought Adolf Hitler not because America was great, but because it was fragile! I knew that liberty could as easily be snuffed out here as in Nazi Germany! As a people, we were no different from them! When I returned, I saw that you nearly did turn America into nothing! And the only reason you're not less than nothing — is that it's still possible for you to bring freedom back to America!"

1The quote is often attributed to Voltaire, but is actually by Evelyn Beatrice Hall.

2There were lots and lots of reasons to oppose Trump before now; this one is fundamentally against every last shred of American life.