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I Just Quit Watching the NFL

Sports and politics don't mix. (image via wikimedia)

Sports and politics don’t mix. (image via wikimedia)

I decided to quit watching the NFL for a while.  I like watching football, so this was a tough decision to make.  A few years ago, I wrote a blog post titled  6 Reasons Why Football Is The Best Sport Ever, so by quitting football, I’ll be depriving myself of the best sport ever.  I don’t want to deprive myself, but the NFL has ticked me off.

Me quitting the NFL might be like my wife quitting Facebook.  My wife could last only a few weeks.  That’s why I hesitate making a grand announcement.  I’ve quit smoking, drinking, and reading comic books, but giving up on the NFL might be the toughest addiction to overcome.

One thing I love about football is that it was the great unifier at work.  The office environment is a diverse place, but everybody has a good-natured opinion about our local football team.  It’s better than talking about the weather.  Whenever the office has been rocked by a divisive political disagreement, I (and a couple coworkers) have always been able to use football to bring everybody back together.

But a while ago I noticed too many sports shows were talking politics instead of football.  There have been several issues going on recently that I don’t want to get into because I’m not that kind of blogger, but a bunch of sports broadcasters have been expressing their political opinions on their sports shows.  That was no big deal.  I just stopped watching those sports shows.

Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t like it when political shows talk about football either.  Everything has its proper time and place.  But now the politics has seeped into the football games themselves and the game broadcasts.  I don’t care about players’ political opinions (they don’t care about mine, so we’re even), and I don’t care what the broadcasters think about politics either.  I just wanted to watch football, and too much of the time they’re not talking about football.

This isn’t just sports.  I don’t watch entertainment or awards shows either because half the time they get political.  Celebrities sometimes believe that since they have access to more people that they have a responsibility to use their voice to promote their political causes.  I disagree.  I believe celebrities have a responsibility to NOT use their voices for their political purposes.

I see it as an abuse of goodwill.  Since we normal people pay money to see/watch them perform, they should be gracious enough to keep their mouths shut about political stuff while they’re doing their jobs.  If anything, they should be forced to listen to our political views since we pay them money (but that might be logistically difficult).  Even if I agree with the cause (which I sometimes do), I don’t want to hear about it during a sports or entertainment show.

I try to be consistent about this.  I’m not going to tell you what I think about political issues because you probably don’t care what I really think.  And if you care what I think and disagree with me, then you might get mad and stop reading my blog.

I like it when people read my blog, so I’m not going to piss them off by spouting off about something that isn’t a normal topic for my blog.  If somebody stops reading my blog because I make fun of James Patterson, then that’s a risk I’m willing to take.  If somebody stops reading my blog because I discuss the etymology of profane words, then I’m okay with that.  If people stop reading my blog because they think my writing is crap (Crap Is NOT A Bad Word, by the way), that’s the price I pay for writing crap.

But I don’t want to drive people away with political stuff.  People take political stuff seriously, and everybody thinks they’re on the correct side.  If I want to discuss politics, I go to political websites.  I don’t watch sports channels to hear politics, and I’m guessing you don’t want to read political commentary from a guy like me who makes Moby Dick jokes.

*****

It was tough not paying attention to football today.  It’s easy to not watch football when it’s not on, but when you know a bunch of games are on, it’s almost impossible not to check for scores.  When my wife noticed that I wasn’t watching any games (I was reading with the television off), I told her there weren’t any good match-ups today, except for our local team, and they’re okay but very flawed.  The networks kill games with commercials anyway, so it was easy to say I wasn’t feeling it.

Then my wife piled some chores on me and wanted me to go with her and my daughters to a movie that I didn’t want to see.  I got out of seeing the movie, but it was tough to do without my family feeling like I didn’t want to spend time with them.  I explained that they don’t want to spend time with me while I’m watching football, and I don’t take that personally.

Plus, I found a couple good books to read.  At least, I think they’re good.  I don’t know for sure because I haven’t finished reading them yet.  But so far nobody in these books has interrupted my reading to force their political views on me.

*****

If you’re tired of people spouting off about politics, you might like my ebook.

Why Is Fuck Such a Bad Word?

If you’re easily offended, I apologize for what you are about to read. (image via wikimedia)

If you’re easily offended, I apologize for what you are about to read. (image via wikimedia)

It should be obvious why fuck is a bad word.  In fact, fuck is such a bad word that I don’t want to write about it.  I feel a bit uncomfortable writing about fuck because I usually try to keep profanity off my blog.  Every once in a while, though, I write about mature topics, and fuck is about as mature as it gets.  Besides, I’m writing about fuck from the perspective of etymology, so that makes it okay.

First of all, fuck is a one-syllable word that refers to a sensitive subject matter.  Most one syllable words that refer to sensitive topics or body functions are considered bad words.  It’s not polite to talk about sexual acts, so when doing so, you must use delicate language, like carnal relations, adult situation, romantic interlude, fornication, mating, or couplingFuck, at the very least, is blunt and impolite.

Plus, fuck ends with –uck.  Every one-syllable word that ends with -uck should be profane (even if it isn’t).  Muck, suck, cuck, Huck, Chuck all should be put on the banned words list just because of their sounds.  Anything that ends with –uck just sounds wrong.  Add f- to the mix, and you have the perfect bad word.

The word fuck goes back a long time.  That makes sense because the action goes back a long time too.  According to the dictionary, the Dutch in the 1500s had the word fokken which meant “to breed cattle.”

Example- “The cattle are fokken in the fields again.”

The Swedes at that time also had a word fokka, which meant “to copulate.”  Even though “to copulate” makes fokka verb, it sounds like a noun to me.

Example- “Quit looking at me funny, you fokka.”

Somewhere along the way, the fokkens and the fokkas became fuck.

The word fuck is flexible and can be used as several parts of speech.  Fuck is technically meant to be a verb (Fuck you!), but it can be used a noun (You fucker), an adjective (That’s fucked up), an adverb (That’s fucking awesome!), or merely as an exclamation (Fuck!).

Adding the word mother to fucker can also make the word even more insulting.  Adding the word mother makes any insult more effective because it’s impolite to ever mention another person’s mother.

Fuck is considered to be the worst of the bad words, with maybe a couple exceptions.  Fuck is worse than shit because shit is just poop and everybody poops so it’s not a big deal.  Damn isn’t so bad (unless you put God in front of it) because, depending on what religion you belong to, you’re either damned or you’re not.  Bitch isn’t so bad because it just means “female dog,” and everybody loves dogs so being called a bitch might be sexist but otherwise it’s not so bad.

Cunt is a close call because it refers to a female body part, so that makes it sexist and it ends with –unt which is almost as bad as –uck.  Even though dick is also a body part, it’s a male body part, and a lot of women think you can’t be sexist against men because men have been the power holders in the patriarchy for so long and Dick is a guy’s name, so dick is funny while cunt is sexist and vulgar.

If anybody wrote a sequel to Moby Dick called Moby Cunt, it would probably get banned.  Moby Fuck could be the third book in the Moby Trilogy, but it might get banned too.

Some people claim that words are just words and that no words should be considered bad.  I understand that, but if words didn’t have meaning, then words would have no point.  I don’t want to live in a world where words have no meaning.  Therefore, there has to be a word which is the most profane, and the worst word might just might be fuck.

*****

If you made it this far without being offended, you might love my ebook.

Is There Really Anything Wrong with Millennials?

If he'd been a Millennial, he could have googled the answer by now. (image via wikimedia)

If he’d been a Millennial, he could have googled the answer by now. (image via wikimedia)

Millennials have a bad reputation among older people like me.  According to popular opinion (maybe not so popular with Millennials), they get their feelings hurt easily and have to be coddled. Millennials live with their parents (usually in the basement). Millennials are addicted to technology.  Some people my age think these are bad qualities, but I’m not so sure.

I like Millennials.  In fact, I have nothing against any generation, whether it’s Baby Boomers or Gen Xers.  I think the Greatest Generation might be a little overrated.  If they’d been so great, they might have prevented the Great Depression or World War II instead of having to overcome them.  I know it’s not their fault somebody else gave them the nickname “Greatest,” but it doesn’t make them look good that they accepted it.  I’d expect more humility from the Greatest Generation.  Then again, maybe I’m quibbling.

Millennials are looked down upon because they’re always looking down at their phones.  The complaint about them is that they are addicted to technology.  Of course, they are.  How could they not be?  They were raised with computers and the internet, so that’s what they’re addicted to.  My generation was addicted to television because that was what we were raised on.  We actually set our schedules around shows like The Brady Bunch and Welcome Back, Kotter.  We have no room to malign other generations.  If I had a choice between being addicted to technology or my TV, I’d choose technology.  We shouldn’t feel pity or contempt for Millennials because of their technology addictions.  Instead, they should mock us for liking shows such as The Brady Bunch.

Supposedly, Millennials have less sex than previous generations.  I’m not sure any accurate survey has ever been done about sex, especially if the data is based on self-reporting.  Maybe Millennials have less sex because certain kinds of images and videos are more accessible than in the past, and that leads to more self-gratifying behavior.  Self-gratifying behavior existed well before the internet, but the videos were more difficult to obtain decades ago.

But I’m still not convinced that Millennials are having less sex than any previous generations.  I know my generation (especially men) lied about how much sex we were having.  If my generation lied about it, then I’m sure other generations did too.  Men usually multiply their sexual experiences by three.  We want to multiply it by ten, but most of us try to keep things believable.

I think Millennials who were surveyed are more honest about the lack of sex in their lives than previous generations.  Maybe it’s because they’re used to sharing everything on their phones now that they don’t care if everybody knows they’re sexual losers.  I don’t mean to sound insulting.  I was a sexual loser too, and I couldn’t even blame it on technology addiction.  Instead, I lied about my sexual exploits.  That made me a loser and a liar, so I was worse than a typical Millennial who doesn’t have sex.

Millennials supposedly live with their parents in the basement.  I have no idea if this is true or not.  When I was a kid, very few adults lived with their parents because everybody got kicked out of the house the day after their 18th birthday. If you were 18 but still in high school, maybe you were allowed to graduate before you got kicked out, but that was the most extra time you’d get.  If you went to college, you might be allowed to live at home during the summer.  Otherwise, you were on your own.  Anything less made you a slacker.

But the job market has changed since then.  I’d say it’s getting worse, but then I’d be accused of being judgmental, and a political fight would start, so I’ll just say the job market has changed.  Millennials didn’t grow up in a time where most teenagers worked part-time jobs after school.  Working after school sucked, but it taught us to be disciplined with our time.  But the job market has changed, and it’s been more difficult for a young person to find a good job since then.

On the other hand, Millennials have more opportunities to start their own businesses.  Crowdfunding is a great way to get your idea going without having to go through the old channels that took too long and probably screwed you over even if an investor liked your idea.  Authors can self-publish without having to go through agents and book publishers who would also rip you off.  Being successful in these new unconventional ways is still a long shot, but a long shot is better than impossible.

Some people think Millennials need to be coddled, but the only group of young coworkers I have an issue with is Ivy Leaguers.  They tend to listen only to other Ivy Leaguers and take any non-Ivy League criticism as an insult.  They also think that creating a new acronym for an old idea will make the old idea work better.  This might be my own biases kicking in.  I’ve never trusted the Ivy League.  Most of our prominent politicians, including several recent U.S. presidents, have been Ivy Leaguers, so you can criticize the Ivy League without getting into the usual partisan insult contest.  Ivy League incompetence transcends partisan politics and generations.

Most importantly, I really like Millennials because they don’t talk to me unless it’s something important.  They’re usually too absorbed in their technology to notice that I’m even there.  For decades, I’ve tried to avoid meaningless conversations, and I’ve finally found a group who will ignore me.  It almost makes me wish I’d been born a Millennial, but I’m glad I wasn’t.  I like yelling at kids to get off my lawn.  I’d never give that up.

*****

Readers of all generations love my ebook.  Even Ivy Leaguers think it’s okay.

5 Reasons Why School Sucks

(image via wikimedia)

The classroom seems peaceful now, but some kid just farted.  (image via wikimedia)

If you’re a student and you think school sucks, you’re not alone.  There’s a certain point where all kids start to hate school.  Most kids like school during their early elementary years, but something happens around 4th or 5th grade.  Kids start being aware of other things around them.  And at some point, kids realize school isn’t that great.  In fact, it sucks.

Even teachers agree that school sucks.  Teachers are mostly there because they’re getting paid (which is reasonable), and even money can’t make them enjoy the experience.  If you’re in school (student or teacher) and you’re depressed, don’t worry about it.  It’s normal to be depressed at school.

Famous author JRR Tolkien got depressed when he taught, and he was a college professor.  His negative feelings from teaching inspired him to write The Hobbit (which ironically depressed a bunch of students who generations later had to read it).  If a college professor gets depressed while he’s at a college, then what are public school kids going through?

What makes school so bad?  Everybody has to do it, so it can’t be that horrible.  Except it is.

1.   Kids sit all day.

People weren’t designed to sit all day, especially kids.  When kids have to be still, they fidget.  Nowadays, if they fidget too much, they get medicated.  So kids are getting medicated for being kids.  Back in the old days, if we fidgeted too much, we got beaten.  That might seem abusive now, but it kept us off medication.  The fear of getting beaten was enough to keep us from being fidgety.  Living with a little fear isn’t bad, especially if it keeps kids from getting addicted to prescription drugs.

2.  There are too many kids.

If you put hundreds (or even thousands) of people together in a confined space for 7-8 hours a day, bad things are going to happen.  If it’s kids, it will be worse.  It might be miraculous that school isn’t worse than it is.  Between bad hygiene, bad manners,  bad intentions, and low intelligence, every day at school is a disaster waiting to happen.

Going to work with the same adults can be difficult, and I only have to deal with a dozen people on any given day.  Between the hallways, lockers, classes, lunches, and buses, a kid has to deal with maybe hundreds of people.  That’s a lot of social navigation, and that isn’t easy.

3.  There aren’t enough bathrooms

It sucks not being able to go to the bathroom whenever you want to.  I’d take universal bathroom privileges over sleeping in .  If you have to go during class, the teacher will probably say no and throw in a sarcastic comment (which might be deserved).  Teachers who say yes are seen as weak, and teachers can’t afford to be seen as weak.  A teacher would rather have a kid pee in his/her pants than let him/her go to the bathroom and appear weak.

Without bathroom privileges, kids fart.  At least a teacher can move around the classroom to avoid farts, but kids are stuck at their desks.  If you’re next to a farter, you have to suffer through the smells.  Plus, you can be falsely accused of being the farter.  Few accusations are worse than that of being a farter.  During vacations, you can sit at home and fart all day.  But at school, you have to hold it in… unless you’re a social deviant who loves the chaos that follows a smelly fart.  In that case, you deserve to be in school.

4.  It’s like prison.

Everybody who’s been in school understands how school is like a prison.  Just add uniforms (maybe orange or gray with stripes) and a license-plate making class.  If you can succeed in this prison-like environment, then you’re far more likely NOT to go to prison as an adult.  But if you suck at school, then you might want to get used to that environment.

5.  There’s too much criticism.

There is no way to get through school without being criticized.  You’re going to make a mistake sometime.  You’re going to talk without permission.  You’ll choose B instead of A.  You’ll leave materials in your locker (or your previous class).  And if you get caught, you’ll get criticized.

Nobody likes being criticized, but teachers have to do it.  If they don’t, you’ll just keep repeating your mistakes.  It would be nice if they could criticize you in a pleasant way, but life doesn’t work like that.  Nice criticism would be like giving trophies out just for participating.  We can’t have a bunch of kids growing up worthless and weak.

As an adult, I probably should be more positive about school.  I survived it and got myself a pretty good job because of (or despite) it.  If anything, school prepares you for work.  You learn to get there on time.  You learn to follow the rules, and do what you’re supposed to do, and to try to learn something new every day.  Those aren’t bad things to do.  But it sucks that we have to go to school first to learn them.

*****

Here’s some great news!  Even if you hate school, you’ll love this ebook .

I’m Going To Buy Truman Capote’s Ashes

He might be rolling in his grave… if he was buried. (image via wikimedia)

 (image via wikimedia)

Truman Capote’s ashes are for sale.  Most of the literary community might not have known that the famous author’s remains were available at all, but now we know they’re going up on  auction next month in California with an opening bid of over $2,000.  Nobody knows how much the bidding will go up for a writer’s ashes, but I’m going to find out.  After all, I’m going to win this auction.

When I say I’m going to win Truman Capote’s ashes, I don’t mean I’m going to “try” to win them.  I’m thinking positive.  I’m actually going to buy Truman Capote’s ashes.  I’m really going to do it.  I don’t have a lot of money, so I’m pooling all my resources.  I’m taking out loans.  I’m raiding my daughters’ college funds.  I’m cashing out all my 401Ks (what’s left of them).  I’m going all out.  I’m going to own Truman Capote’s ashes.

The great thing about an auction is that you can determine your own outcome.  If you’re willing to spend more money than anybody else, you win.  The only thing you can’t control is whether or not somebody else with more money will decide to get involved.  So unless some rich eccentric gets involved, I’m going to own these ashes.

I’m not really a Truman Capote fan.  I’ve never read In Cold Blood.  I’ve seen Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but all I remember is Mickey Rooney.  I’ve read To Kill A Mockingbird a few times.  Truman Capote supposedly helped Harper Lee write it.  Maybe he wrote it himself and let Harper Lee get the credit.  That would explain why she never wrote anything else, except Go Set a Watchman if you count that.

I’m sure Capote had nothing to do with Go Set A Watchman.  I haven’t read it either, but I’ve heard there’s a huge difference between To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman.  I don’t believe everything I’ve heard, but I believe this.  Maybe I should read a sample just to make sure.

Even though I’m not a fan, I want Truman Capote’s ashes.  You don’t get many chances at life to be connected with greatness.  I’ve never met a universally respected literary author.  I’ve met a couple celebrities, but I was disappointed in both of them.  One yawned in my face, and another hit on my wife.  I’m pretty sure Truman Capote’s ashes won’t do either.  If he was alive, he’d probably yawn in my face, but he wouldn’t hit on my wife.  He might hit on me, though, and I’m okay with that.  When I was younger, I got hit on a lot.  I was even offered a significant amount of money (not by a celebrity).  I turned him down, but looking back, I could sure use that money now.

Winning the auction might break me financially, but I could always resell Truman Capote’s ashes later.  I could even split his ashes into smaller sections and sell them and probably make a decent profit.  A lot of people who couldn’t pay for all of Truman Capote could afford to pay for a portion of him.  I could even advertise each ashy portion as part of Truman Capote’s brain.  Everybody would want part of his brain.  With all the ashes mixed up for decades, his brain has to be all over the place.  Any body part you want, I’m sure it’s mixed in.

Owning ashes isn’t a strange concept to me.  My wife and I have kept ashes of family members when we weren’t sure what to do with them.  Sometimes people want their ashes spread in a certain location, but these family members never told us what to do, so we’re waiting for inspiration.

Don’t get me wrong.  My wife and I don’t go around collecting family ashes just for the sake of collecting.  That would be creepy.  We just weren’t sure what else to do.  Once you spread ashes in the wrong place, you can’t take it back.  Maybe these family members wanted their ashes to be together.  And maybe they’d like Truman Capote to keep them company.

I’m not sure what I’d want done with my ashes.  It seems so permanent.  I wouldn’t mind them spread out around someplace scenic like Yellowstone Park.  There’s a spot near the canyon waterfall where a valley sprawls open, and it was my favorite spot in the park to drive.  My wife wants to get dumped into the ocean.  If I’m going to stay with my wife, then I have to go into the ocean too.  The problem is that I get extremely nauseous in open water.  I don’t want to be nauseous for all of eternity, so I have a dilemma.

But if I have Truman Capote’s ashes, I could spend eternity with Truman Capote.  I hope he’s not a jerk.  I’d hate to spend eternity with a jerk.  Literary geniuses can be arrogant, and I can’t stand arrogance.  I’d rather be nauseous in open water than have to listen to arrogance for eternity, even if it’s Truman Capote’s arrogant ashes.  I’m going to have to make a decision about this sometime because I know I’m going to win Truman Capote’s ashes.

*****

If you enjoyed this blog post, you’ll really like my ebook.  Ashes are not included with the purchase.

Bring Back the Comments Section!!

 (image via wikimedia)

He’s probably not saying anything nice. (image via wikimedia)

Most news websites don’t have comments sections anymore, and it’s easy to understand why.  People call each other names and curse at each other.  Commenters hurl sexist bigoted racist insults.  Even worse, people brag about making $850 a day working from home.

National Public Radio recently made news by announcing it was removing the comment sections from its website.  For some, it was news that NPR had a website.  NPR’s website is a lot like its radio, except you can add inflection when you read NPR’s articles aloud.  If you read NPR material with a FOX News voice, then you have something that average Americans can listen to.

I can understand NPR closing its comments because everyone on their radio stations speaks in such calm, monotone voices that they don’t know how to handle all the arguing that a comments section brings.  NPR employees don’t know how to handle the raw emotion.  At least, I’ve never heard NPR hosts express emotion.  It must baffle the NPR website moderator to feel the emotion from commenters calling NPR left-wing socialist shills who couldn’t be successful without government funding and public donations.

It’s too bad that it’s so difficult to find a good  comments section on a news website anymore.  In the old days, I could scroll through CNN, FOX News, Associated Press, USA Today, Reuters, and a bunch of other traditional news websites.  The comments were more fun than the stories.  I could be well-informed on the latest current events and up-to-date on on all the new fashionable insults.

Now I have to read Twitter or Facebook for comments, and that’s inconvenient because comments are about scattered topics, and you have to follow the right hashtags.  The comments, though as vulgar and asinine, are more disjointed and disorganized.  If I’m going to read political vitriol, I want it to be organized.

News sites admit they don’t like dealing with the negativity of comments sections anymore.  Maybe it costs too much to hire a moderator to delete all the offensive material.  Then when commenters get deleted or banned, they complain about getting censored, and that causes websites even more headaches.  Maybe it was these trolls who forced news websites to get rid of comment sections, but if that’s true, then they let somebody else’s bad behavior dictate policy.

I’ve deleted comments from my own blog, but I don’t do it often.  Since I usually write about books, I don’t get too much of the controversial stuff.  If I get a “You suck!” comment, I leave it alone.  In fact, I appreciate the “You suck!” comment.   I’ve deleted comments only for extreme profanity.  And one time I deleted a lewd comment some guy made to a female blogger.  At least, I’m pretty sure the blogger was female.  On the internet, you never know for sure.  Anyway, I’m the only guy who’s allowed to make lewd remarks in my comments section.

Closing the comments section shows the reader that the website owner thinks communication should be one-way.  The reader is supposed to take in whatever the website says and like it, no matter what.  If I wanted to read something with no opportunity for immediate response, I’d buy a newspaper.  I gave up newspapers over a decade ago, partially because I couldn’t respond to it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I rarely write comments.  I only leave a comment if I have something to add that hasn’t already been said.  I don’t write comments just to say I agree or disagree, though maybe I should.  But I appreciate the chance to write a comment if I choose to.

Closing the comments means that the political arguing has moved on to other outlets.  All those arguments that are destroying friendships on Facebook?  I blame the news sites.  Arguing in a comments section might have been pointless, but anonymous rants can cleanse the soul.  Now when you rant, you lose friends.  I don’t have many friends, so I don’t talk politics to anymore, but not everybody can as good at conflict avoidance as I am.  It’s a talent.

If there’s been a breakdown of civility on social media and in our personal lives, it’s CNN’s fault.  It’s Fox News’s fault.  It’s Associated Press’s fault.  It’s USA Today’s fault.   All that hostility should have been confined to their comments sections of their websites.  Instead, it’s crept into our personal lives in social media.  For the sake of families and friendships, please… please… please… bring back the comments sections.

*****

If you’re tired of political stuff and negative comments, you’ll probably enjoy my book .

Book Publishers Might Be Spying on You

(image via wikimedia)

(image via wikimedia)

The world doesn’t need more ways to spy on normal people.  Governments spy on us.  Tech companies and corporations spy on us.  Pervert neighbors with drones spy on us.  This spying is called data collection now, but it’s still spying.  Even the publishing industry is in on it.

Book publishers have a good reason to spy from their point of view.  They want to accumulate book readers’ data to predict what future books will sell. For example, whenever I read an ebook on my Kindle app, I know Amazon is collecting the data and putting it into algorithms.

Amazon then recommends books to me using the algorithm, but the algorithm isn’t very good because I rarely want to read the books Amazon recommends.  Most of the recommended books are by the author whose book I’ve just finished reading or a book about the same topic or from the same genre, but I rarely want to read the same author, topic, or genre again for a while.

I don’t mean to sound paranoid (which means I probably sound paranoid), but book publishers might be spying on us without us even knowing about it.  When I skim through a book at B&M Booksellers, a camera COULD be watching me, logging each page that I turn, tracking which books I read, which books I buy, and which books I then check on my Amazon app.  It might be unlikely, but it could happen.  I don’t have proof, and that’s what makes it paranoia.

The book publishers are spying on us… “for our own good.”  They just want to… “help”… us by providing us with the books we want to read.  And if the book publishers happen to make a little money, that’s a bonus.  Whenever a powerful entity like government or a corporation (or a parent) tells us it’s “for our own good,” I get paranoid again.

Spying on me while I read would be pretty boring.  Reaction videos are popular on YouTube, but reactions while reading a book would be dull, at least if I were the focus.  Even when a book excites me, I just stare blankly at the pages.  Staring vacantly is my excited look when I’m reading.  If I curse or fidget or say funny stuff while I’m reading, that means the book sucks, and I’m probably very entertaining, but I still don’t want to be watched.

Not all spying makes me paranoid though.  Websites like Jellybooks allows consumers to read ebooks for free so that publishers can track reading habits.  If an entity is upfront about spying, then it’s not really spying, and that can decrease the paranoia (but nothing truly gets rid of it).

Publishers have learned so far that most people don’t get to the halfway point of most free books.  That makes sense.  If I have a free book, I don’t mind not finishing it.  If I purchased a book, I’m more likely to complete it because I spent my own money on it.  I have a financial stake in finishing it and not finishing it.

If books are free, I might not mind if a publisher spies on my reading habits.  But I’d get ticked off if I paid for a book and still got spied on.  If I pay for something, I shouldn’t get spied on.  The cash (or credit) should buy my privacy.  It’s not that I have anything to hide.  It’s just that most stuff is nobody else’s business.

Once I buy a book, it’s not the publisher’s business to know how much I read.  If it’s on Amazon Kindle Unlimited, it’s Amazon’s business because their payment to authors depends on how many pages of each book gets read.  But if I buy an entire book, then it’s my business.

I feel the same way about government and taxes.  If I pay taxes, then the government shouldn’t get to spy on me.  In fact, if I pay taxes, I should get to spy on the government.  I bet more people would be willing to pay taxes if that meant they could spy on government officials.  In fact, I’d be willing to let book publishers spy on me while I’m reading their books if I could spy on them while they’re deciding what books to publish.

To be honest, I wouldn’t spy on people even if I were allowed to. I’m a writer.  I don’t want to watch people just to collect data.  I watch people so I can write books and make up stories.  And you don’t need to be a spy to do that.

*****

Speaking of books, here is one of mine.   Just so you know, Amazon might spy on you, but I won’t.

Reading Makes You Live Longer… but is it worth it?

Get up and live your life, you bookworm!! (image via wikimedia)

Get up and live your life, you bookworm!! (image via wikimedia)

Everybody who enjoys reading knows there are a lot of benefits from it.  People can become more knowledgeable when they read.  People who read fiction have more empathy than people who don’t read.  Reading can also improve our critical thinking skills.  Now a study shows that reading makes us live longer too.

The study shows (supposedly) that people who read 3 ½  hours a week or more live at least two years longer than people who don’t.  There are a few more numbers in this study, but I don’t like numbers, even though I probably should like numbers because I like to read.  Then again, I don’t like to read math books, so it makes sense that I don’t like numbers.  Still, it seems like two years is the average extended lifespan for people who read books.

Wait a minute.

Two years?  That’s all we get for reading?

I feel cheated.  I’m kind of ticked off the number isn’t higher.  All that time and effort I’ve put into reading, and all I get is two years?  That sucks!

“That sucks!” is something some of my friends would say about reading.  Even though I’ve always been a reader, I’ve had friends who weren’t, and they often thought I was wasting my time by reading so much.  There were other things I could have been doing, according to them, like drinking, getting into trouble, and sleeping around.  Every minute that I was reading kept me from living my life, they said.  My most gracious of friends would admit it was okay to read, but only when drinking, smoking, getting into trouble, and sleeping around weren’t options.

It’s tough to explain reading to somebody who hates to read.  It’s not as fun explaining as getting drunk and getting into trouble and sleeping around.  Those activities are easy and fun to explain.  I can tell great stories about getting drunk, sleeping around, and getting into trouble, and I don’t even get drunk, sleep around, or get into trouble.

If I tell stories about reading, people give me blank stares.  If I explain how awesome a book is, they give me blank stares.  But if I describe my weekend of fictional debauchery, they listen, even if they don’t believe me.

I’ll be honest, I don’t always trust “studies” because researchers can always find a way to support an agenda if they want.  But I like reading, and I want to encourage others to read, so I’m less likely to find fault with a study that I hope is true.  It makes sense to me that people who read live longer (if it’s indeed true), but maybe it’s the lifestyle which goes into reading that makes readers live longer.

Maybe the study isn’t even true.  Some of us might have sedentary habits that could make us unhealthy.  We might sit around while we read.  Sitting too much is unhealthy and can subtract years from our lives.  We also might read in public, increasing the likelihood that we get our heads bashed in by evildoers looking for easy victims, and that’s unhealthy too.  But if you’re going to sit anyway, reading is probably the best activity for you.

I actually believe the study because of what I’ve seen in my own life.  Reading can be a sedentary activity, but my friends who don’t/didn’t read books have/had far more bad habits.  They tend to be the risk takers.  Like I mentioned earlier, they drink too much, smoke, get into fights, drive their cars too fast.  When they were kids, they were the ones who skateboarded off of rooftops or somersaulted off of playground equipment or rode bikes down hill through busy intersections with their eyes closed and hands up in the air.

I tell you, no kid who reads books would ever do crazy stuff like that.  We tend to play the odds more wisely.  And book reading is about the safest thing you can do.  We can read about all that crazy stuff instead of being involved in the crazy stuff.

But two years?  It just seems like we readers should get more extra time than that.

Even if we didn’t get the extra years, I’d still read.  I enjoy reading.  Two extra years doesn’t seem to be enough, but I’ll take them.  It’s better than two fewer years.  And I can read a lot of books in two years.

*****

If you enjoyed this blog post, and you want to live longer by reading even more, you’ll probably love this ebook.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter vs. George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones

JK Rowling is "done" with Harry Potter.

JK Rowling is “done” with Harry Potter.

Ned Stark might be "done," but Game of Thrones isn't.

Ned Stark might be “done,” but Game of Thrones isn’t.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin probably don’t attract quite the same audience.  Both sets of books have magic and shocking sequences, but Game of Thrones has a bit more “adult” material in it and can be a little more difficult to follow, with a bunch of minor characters and meandering subplots.

When I talk about Game of Thrones, book readers get mad and remind me that the series is called A Song of Ice and Fire.  If I say A Song of Ice and Fire, people who don’t read the books get confused, and then I have to say Game of Thrones anyway.  With J.K. Rowling, all I have to say is Harry Potter, and everybody knows what I’m talking about.

The series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin is not even done yet.  There are still two books left, and nobody really knows when these books will be completed and published.  Even though there have been deadlines, George R.R. Martin hasn’t been able to meet them.  Martin is lucky he’s a fantastic writer because otherwise no publisher would tolerate him.

Some fans are worried that A Song of Ice and Fire might never get finished, that George R.R. Martin will pass on before he’s done.  I don’t like to judge other people (even though I write a blog), but Martin looks like he might have some… issues.  I don’t want to list what those issues could be because I’m not a doctor, but if you look at the guy, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

If Martin dies before finishing A Song of Ice and Fire, a lot of readers will be ticked off.  Some will be angry that he didn’t write the novels quickly enough.  Others will point out that if he had lived a more healthy lifestyle, he would have given himself more time to finish his novels.

George R.R. Martin spends a lot of time writing stuff that isn’t A Song of Ice and Fire.  He writes Dunk and Egg stories.  He writes histories of his fantasy world.  To me, those are things he should write AFTER he’s done with A Song of Ice and Fire.  Dunk and Egg stories are okay, but I want to know what happens in Westeros.

Now that everybody has had the chance to read (if not see) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling claims that she is “done” with Harry Potter .  There are no more Harry Potter stories to tell.  The series is complete.  There might be other tales in the Potter universe, but that’s it for Potter.

“Done” might mean something different in the U.K.  In the United States, “done” means you’re finished with it, you’re through, you’re never going back, it’s dead to you.  Maybe in the UK, “done” means we’ll revisit it in a few years.  I don’t know.

J.K Rowling might be “done” with Harry Potter, but not all her readers are satisfied.  Some say she wrote the series too quickly and didn’t think through some of the plot developments and characterization.  In other words, they claim she should have taken her time.    Other readers complain that Cursed Child feels like fan fiction.  This shows that no matter what a successful authors does, readers are going to complain.  Then again, J.K. Rowling looks pretty healthy.  It seems like she is putting herself in a position to write a lot more books.  I guess that’s judging (which I try not to do, even though I’m a blogger), but at least it’s positive judging.

I’m not a betting man, but I’d wager that J.K. Rowling will write another Harry Potter book/script/something within the next 20 years.  I’m not talking about a Tolkien-like Silmarillion.  I don’t mean something related to the Harry Potter universe.   I mean, J.K. Rowling will write something new and significant about Harry Potter.

Cormoran Strike books are okay, but they would not have been best sellers if J.K. Rowling hadn’t admitted she was Robert Galbraith.  I don’t think Strike novels will sustain her own interest for the next 20 years and beyond.  At some point, Rowling will think of another idea for a Harry Potter book.  And I bet she’d rather change her mind than NOT write a new book just to stay true to her word.

When it comes to George R.R. Martin finishing A Song of Ice and Fire, I’m not sure how I’d bet.

*****

What do you think?  Is J.K. Rowling really done with Harry Potter?  When (as in what year) do you think George R.R. Martin will finally finish writing A Song of Ice and Fire?

*****

If you enjoyed this blog post, you’ll probably like this ebook too.  It’s not a series.  Plus, it’s short and done.

Social Media Is Impossible To Keep Up With

Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest? Tumbl’r? I’m not bitter; I’m just lost. (image via Wikimedia)

Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Pinterest? Tumblr?  I’m so lost. (image via Wikimedia)

Social media is a constant mess.  Facebook and Twitter promote pointless political feuds.  Instagram causes headaches.  Tumblr sets off motion sickness.  If a social media platform leads to a physical ailment, it’s best to stay off of it.  And I haven’t even mentioned YouTube yet.

As an aspiring author, I’m supposed to do more than write. Literary agents and publishers want authors who already have a social media following.  I guess that makes sense.  A social media following means guaranteed book sales, and nothing appeals to publishers more than guaranteed book sales.

I always thought that the book publisher was supposed to provide the hype and media attention to promote books, but I guess times have changed.  But if authors have already done the hyping themselves, then the publisher is just paying for the publication and then giving the author a low percentage of profits.

If I had a following large enough to attract a book publisher’s attention, I’d wonder… why do I even need a book publisher?  I could get money from a loan to publish the book myself and keep all the profits.

Whether independent or backed by a publisher, writers need to promote, and to do that, we have to immerse ourselves in various types of social media.  But most social media platforms suck.  Suck is an imprecise word, and I actually enjoy using social media for entertainment purposes, but as a writer, I don’t want to rely on it.

It takes a long time to get good at each social media platform.  I blog and I use Twitter, and these require almost completely different skills.  I enjoy blogging and I’m okay at it, and if I spent more time on Twitter, I might be successful at it too, but I don’t have the time.  I work at a job which has nothing to do with writing.  I’m married with two daughters, and I actually pay attention to them some of the time.  That doesn’t leave much time to create new content and self-promote it.  Even on a weekend or a day off, it’s difficult to find the energy/creativity to do all of that.

I’m not complaining.  I’m just trying to figure this out, and I know other writers/bloggers are going through the same experience.

Once you get good at some aspect of social media, there’s the chance/likelihood that the site will become obsolete.  I wasn’t aware of MySpace until Facebook had already destroyed it.  I didn’t start blogging until 2011.  I didn’t get a Twitter account until 2014.  I didn’t try publishing an ebook until 2013.   I haven’t even bothered to start a YouTube channel.  When it comes to social media, I’m way behind the trends, and that’s no way to be successful.

Since videos are easy to make, I thought about becoming a YouTube star, but I’m too old, I’m not attractive and my voice is monotone.  Then again, a lot of YouTubers are bland with unappealing voices.  I was surprised how bland a lot of prominent YouTubers are.  And they’re not that articulate either.  If I were younger, more attractive and articulate, I’d really have an advantage over them.

YouTube is awesome, but most new YouTube content has little appeal for somebody my age.  The majority of original videos are too long with 30 seconds of  substance per 7 minutes of video (I came up with those numbers myself, but I’m sure they’re accurate).  I’d rather read about what YouTubers are talking about than watch/listen to YouTubers talk.  Blogs take longer to write than it does to make a video, but it takes longer to watch a YouTube video than it does to read a blog post.  Therefore, YouTube is not for me.  I watch old content (football games and pre-1980s comedians), but not much of the new stuff.

The younger YouTubers often use apps like Vine and Musicl.Ly, all of which would be useless to me as a writer.  Being a star on one of those platforms looks like fun though.    It just takes a few minutes to create and edit a 6-second video that gets millions of hits.  That must be awesome, to make a 6-second video and become famous, but if I tried, it would just be creepy. Nobody could watch me on those apps without cringing.  And I don’t want to be associated with cringing.  Plus, nobody who uses those apps would be interested in buying my ebooks, so I’d be humiliating myself for nothing.

I’ve seen authors/bloggers with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, and even more accounts than that, and I wonder… how do they do it?  I guess when I see all those millenials staring at their phones while they’re in public, they’re managing their multiple social media accounts.  It probably takes up every moment of their spare time.  I’m not willing to stare at my phone in public, so I guess I shouldn’t have multiple accounts.  That might keep me from being a successful blogger/writer.

But at least I know where my children are.  They’re both watching YouTube videos.

*****

What do you think?  Which social media sites do you use the most?  Which ones are the biggest wastes of time?  Which sites help you the most as a writer?

*****

While you’re staring at your phone or tablet, you can read  one of my ebooks that has nothing to do with social media.