Category Archives: This Sucks

Dirty Words: Race Talk

Jeffrey Phelps / AP

Two years ago, I blogged my thoughts on race in America in my super awkward / uncomfortable Super Chocolate Brown Bear post. And in it, I say:

“Sometimes, I still feel like a secondary citizen, socially.

Not secondary in the sense that “you’re brown, you can’t frequent this establishment” – more like, you’re brown and not really American. … It’s not too far off for me to think that way, is it? The way a frighteningly large number of Americans are reacting to our President?

This race thing largely wasn’t an issue until I got older, of course. I like to blame the last good ole’ Dubya for teaching our country that difference is to be feared and rejected. We joke about being called terrorists and being looked at funny in the airport – but the fact remains: there’s truth behind it. I only started laughing about being called a terrorist after I heard a group of kids in college walk by and say: “Yo, check out that terrorist.”’

In light of the shooting that happened this weekend, I’m forced to reckon with this feeling again. Only this time, there’s more anger and confusion. Those of us who were old enough to remember just after 9/11 know that the first man to be killed in a hate crime was Sikh. They’re in the unfortunate position of playing “Muslim” to modern racists / extremists who don’t know the difference. And of course I’m not saying it would have been okay if he had been Muslim. It just shines the light on the first of two big issues here:

A Lack of Education and Understanding

We all hear about Arizona, who, for the past few years with their uneducated governor Jan Brewer, have consistently been anti-minority. Sorry are you brown, I need to see your papers because you might be illegally living here. No, no, I don’t care if you were here first. We believe in white people in Arizona. Where they’ve cut what they are calling “Racially divisive ethnic-studies classes” (also-known-as Mexican Studies.

We hear about Texas, where they’ve voted to downplay the civil rights movement in text books that will be used across the country.

These are not outright attacks on a particular ethnicity or culture, but they are designed to promote the White-is-Right attitude, and that anything that is different doesn’t need to be understood, it just needs to go away. And unfortunately, we’re all kind of sitting back and taking it. This brings me to my second issue:

Why Bother Talking About It?

A few weeks ago there was a terrible incident in Aurora, Colorado. The reaction was immediate. It was all over my newsfeed, all over my tweet stream, everywhere everyone was talking about this thing that had happened. As they should have been! It was a senseless act of violence and needed to be discussed and shared if only so we could create a conversation on how to make it better. One day after the shooting, the Huffington Post posted the reactions of politicians. There are 57 slides of reactions. Within three days of the shooting, there were hundreds of articles about it.

The Wisconsin shooting happened yesterday morning. I didn’t hear about it until yesterday evening. As of this post, I’ve read the reactions of six politicians, one of whom is the executive director of the Sikh Coalition. Most of the people who are talking about it on social media seem to be of South Asian descent. Which makes me think: Do people just feel like this isn’t all that big of a deal?

A man walks into a house of worship and shoots and kills these Asian-Americans. The lack of reaction is disheartening. Why aren’t we worth the same anger and confusion that people felt weeks ago? Is it old news? Is it because it’s more expected?

I’m genuinely struggling with this. After the Aurora shootings, it was all people I knew were talking about. It came up frequently in conversation at home, at work, and everywhere else. Not a single person has brought up this Wisconsin shooting in my office today.

Roger Ebert wrote an op-ed for the Times after the Aurora shooting that because of this act of violence, we should be able to discuss Gun Control in a rational way. I agree. And I think that because of the Wisconsin shootings, we should be able to discuss race and ethnicity in a rational way.

6 Comments

Filed under This Sucks

I Swear I Don’t Blow My Nose with a Hundred Dollar Bill

But I cannot make that promise about Jeff Bezos.

We all know that there was an article in the NY Times about us evil, evil, horrible publishers colluding against the poor, wittle book seller innocent Amazon. (I may be simplifying things a bit.)

Sue me, I’m feeling mean today.

When things like this happen, and the news comes out, every blog and every article (barring some industry specific ones) make publishers out to be these money hungry monsters. Like we’re all sitting on big piles of money laughing about all those dumb customers buying expensive eBooks.

Oh, would that our lives look like that.

Really, we’re sitting around trying to figure out how to get our rapidly dwindling audience of readers to a) keep reading and b) read more. I know, I know. How could we??

So when Amazon comes along, with its “Oh, we’re selling eBooks at a loss to keep our customers happy you evil publishers!” it’s more than little offensive to those of us who honestly love reading and want to spread the good words among the populace, but can’t, because we don’t have any money to do so. Because you know what happens? Amazon knows that they can come back and say: This is the standard; we are now going to give you less money for the same product so that we can sell it for a cheap price.

I realize that the way we do business is not working. And there are many, many problems within the publishing industry. We’re doing our best to catch up.

However, I think that with most book stores, publishers feel a sense of partnership. Amazon is a bully. They want to get their grubby little paws on every aspect of an industry they honestly don’t care all that much about. I keep saying “they” but I should say “Bezos.”

I’ve been talking about him for years, I know. But seriously. Do you know what’s going to happen when Amazon slashes the eBook prices of those books you love so much?

Independents will not be able to compete. Brick and Mortar will not be able to compete. None of us will be able to compete. Because they are a behemoth. Did you know that the agency model actually made Amazon more money? What does that tell you? This isn’t about the profit for them. It’s about the power and squashing the competition.

But we need competition! Do you really want one company controlling what kind of books you do or don’t see? I understand that it shouldn’t be on the shoulder of the readers to see through all of this… that you should be able to just buy the cheapest and have that be that. But if you care about the books you read and the authors who write them and the people who help get them into your hands, think twice about where you’re buying your book. It matters. Books aren’t such a huge moneymaker that we can disregard our customers. Every single book buyer has an effect on all of us. This industry is not doing so well. But we all got into books because we love them. I can personally guarantee that it was not for the money.

And that brings me what is most terrifying about this episode. It’s just another instance of the government supporting Big Business. Not to say, of course, that the Publishers are mom and pops. But, I have a strong feeling that Amazon lobbyists had quite a bit to do with this investigation. This outcome will have a huge effect on independents, as well. In a nation where being a corporation means you have more rights than I do, it’s not all that surprising. Money talks, people. I just wish it wasn’t saying such hateful things.

Leave a comment

Filed under This Sucks

Sigh. And big moves are made.

So there’s a whole to-do going on in my workworld right now – not that many of you will care, because c’mon, how many people really even read now days anyway, right? (You’ll excuse me if I’m bitter).

Anyhoo – so, here are the basics. Amazon sells e-books for their e-reader, the Kindle. K, that’s cool. Their Kindle is closed format. Still, good for them, their company, their rules. Unfortunately, because they are the biggest book seller, this puts them in a position of habitualizing people who read electronically. They are creating the norms for e-publishing, and it seems that this doesn’t really matter to them. It’s more about Mr. Bezos’ control and bank account than it is about literature they’re selling. Which is very un-book-like. Rarely has publishing been about the profit, the reason that there are 8 billion books published a year is because hopefully one of them will take off and make us enough money that we can publish the other 7 billion blahblahblah and 99  without making a profit because we love them and they deserve to be out there… even if only a few people will ever really even read them. Sorry, /rambling.

So, this past week, Macmillan (a publishing house that includes Tor, FSG, :01 to name a few) went to Amazon to be like hey what’s up, let’s work on this pricing strategy you guys have. Right now, Amazon prices e-books at 9.99, often times selling them at a loss. This doesn’t matter to Amazon because while they are taking a loss, they’re also gaining customers who will read on their kindle as well as buy other things from Amazon. This matters to book publishing because if you price every book (regardless of cost of production) at 9.99, what does that mean for the future when e-books make up more than 3% of our market? So, Macmillan goes to Amazon with a new suggestion like hey, let’s maybe think about:

“Publishers would like to be able to set eBooks at a higher price, say $15, then degrade the price over time to a much lower price. How much? CEO of Macmillan says “Our plan is to price the digital edition of most adult trade books in a price range from $14.99 to $5.99.”

Not every book costs the same to make, why pretend they all cost the same to read.

Ah, but any way – this is not about the pricing. This is about Amazon’s response…

WHICH WAS TO TAKE EVERY MACMILLAN BOOK OFF THEIR WEBSITE AND ONLY MAKE THEM AVAILABLE THROUGH THIRD PARTY VENDORS.

What in the absolutely stupendously ridiculous flying fuck, Amazon?!

For a pretty great explanation as to why this is bad on a point by point front, check out this guy.

Now, I’ve been bitching about Amazon forevz and evz. But this is a big bully move, like seriously. Think about going into an indie book store, there’s a personality there – an understanding that this literature is important to people.

Yes, Amazon is hurting (“giant conglomerate evil”) Macmillan by doing this, but it is also hurting the writers and the editors and all the people who put a ton of work into a book to be made. Amazon wants to be considered a book seller by the customer and a book publisher by the publisher. They consider e-books “licenses.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Amazon’s made their point very clear with this move, monopoly is most important to this company. Monopoly of the publisher’s business as well as the customer’s business. And no fucking publisher is going to tell them what to do. Tobias Bell sums up the author issue pretty well in his crazy long post about this shiz:

“I’m not trying to exhort anyone to do anything, but to explain the situation I’m in, and to educate. I’m seeing a lot of people state things with certainty (points I try to knock down above) who have no involvement in the trade. A lot of readers are going to take this out on authors, and I wanted to basically show my homework to explain things that people may not be aware of. People toss out prices of what eBooks ’should be’ who’ve never even stopped to understand how the math of something like this works. They demand things they’d never demand of a jacket salesman, just because they think economics and supply and demand and volume don’t apply to eBooks. They do. Seriously. I’ve thought about these things a lot. Mostly because I have a novel series that has not been renewed, and I keep running the numbers to see if I could write it as an eBook, and when I run these numbers, I come up looking at making a few thousand dollars for half a year’s worth of work based on how eBook sell now. Yes, there are a few J.A. Konrath’s selling well on Amazon, but as I’ve linked, other authors aren’t automagically selling thousands of eBooks there. Most who follow these footsteps sell hundreds. Not everyone becomes JK Rowling.”

Apple’s outlook is a little better – though they have their hangups as well. (Can’t put your iBook on your iPhone?! Lame.)

It’s really more scary than anything. Sigh. I can’t rant about it anymore.

What’s troubling is that people don’t seem to care… even readers. You keep buying your kindles and your books off amazon, despite their big brotherness. What the hell, man.

This really is an opportunity for Indies and for Indie enthusiasts.

Buy stuff from independents. Do it! Indiebound will help you locate indie book stores and even specific books you want IN YOUR AREA. Or just go to Barnes & Noble. At least they remember that they’re in the business of books and not just in the business of business.

There are a lot of words in this post and not a lot of pictures. I was totally going to shop a Devil Bezos and put him in here, but meh. Not worth it. Instead, I’ll put in a video about what book publishing used to be like in 1947:

And a photo because I’ve habitualized you people in expecting such things from me:

Teh end.

If you are interesting in what’s going on, follow DigitalBookWorld on twitter, they’re recapping the situation nicely.

1 Comment

Filed under Life, Things I Find Interesting, This Sucks

this has got to be the twilight zone

’cause shit, son – I don’t know what to say if it’s not.

I wasn’t really sure how to start this post – mostly because there’s so, so much anger and frustration and complete confusion as to how we could have fucked up so royally. Equality was denied once again. Only this time it was in what is supposed to be the most accepting place in the country.

I know, I know, that’s just the city. Well, what the hell do you have without us, New York? The rest of you should move to Kansas with the Phelps family, where you belong. Iowa is better than you, do you understand that? Iowa. Is. Better. Than. You. You used to be cool New York. I used to really dig you. You’ve been my home, my goal for so long, I can barely think of another place on earth I’d rather be (ahem, Iowa). You are coming dangerously close to losing the best thing about you. Everyone has (had?) a place here. It’s your go to if you don’t fit in, or even if you do – there is something for everyone in New Yo’k Citay. (Again, I know, that’s just the city). We are hip and trendy and smart and we KNOW that there is a distinct separation between church and state.

… At least, some of us do. Not so much the following democratic leaders who voted against equality: Carl Kruger, Bill Stachowski, Ruben Diaz Sr., Joe Addabbo, Darrel Aubertine, Hiram Monserrate, Shirley Huntley and George Onorato. You obviously do not represent me. I spent eight years not being represented by my federal and my state government, so I don’t know why I’m so lost now that it’s happened again.

Where were you today, New York? Did you get stoned and forget that we’re supposed to represent America as it should be and not as it is?

I wonder if this is how intelligent people in California feel.

I realize that I’m not quite as close to this issue as some of my friends, you know, being a straight woman and all. And I’ve been asked before: Why the huge interest in gay rights when it has nothing to do with you. To that I say, um hai. BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO RESPOND TO SUCH RIDICULOUSNESS.

Or this.

But seriously. The key words are Civil Rights (say it with me now, Ciiiiviiil Riiiiights). This is something that belongs to everyone. Who the hell are you to decide what goes on in my life just because I don’t adhere to your belief system. Growing up, we all learn that America is a “melting pot” – many different cultures and religions all thrown together in a giant bowl or something. Whatever. Then you get older and realize what bullshit that is, because the guys in charge, if you are not white and Christian… well kid, they just don’t give a fuck. So when you decide you can’t be for a cause, or don’t care about a cause, because it’s not your particular minority that’s getting beat down – don’t forget, we’ve all been there.

Every time equality loses, we’re going back in time. It was just recently that some dickhole judge denied a couple a marriage license because they were two different races. And yeah, he got ridiculed and mocked and all sorts of good fun by the shitty journalists we have left – but his state’s representative said nothing. Which is to say either he agreed with him and so didn’t want to chastise him or the higher ups agreed with him and wouldn’t let this guy talk. Either way, that’s a problem. Um hello, I want to marry Louis Garrell and have little indo-franco bebes. That is not going to happen if some dickhole judge decides I can only marry an Indian guy. What the eff. INDO-FRANCO BEBES. Je repeat.

Like this adorable baby who may or may not be French or Indian but came up in the Google search when I typed in “French Indian Baby” so there.

We are being represented by people who do not give two shits about us and who do not understand that religion has very little place in our government. You’ve turned religion into something ugly you crazy bastards. And it is not.

If you are lucky enough to be one of the few who can consider themselves a “true American” (Priveleged, White, Straight, Christian, Male) – then kudos to you. You got the genetic goldmine! If you weren’t doing this already, you should pat yourself on the back, twatbomb. I’m sure you just don’t know what it means to be excluded or treated strangely because you’ve always “fit in.”

This really is a cause that is close to my heart, because if one group can have their rights taken away for being different, not a single one of us is safe. Remember that a vote for inequality means we are saying that in America difference is to be feared and rejected.

Civl rights are human rights. How can you disagree with that?

There’s more to be said, as ever, on the subject – but I’m playing myself out with Senator Diane Savino’s speech. She says it better than I ever could:

P.S. To all the kids out protesting today and to the marriage equality team – amazing. You made the day a little better.

2 Comments

Filed under Life, This Sucks

People don’t understand the interwebz

In which I discuss how the internet is “liek blowin’ pplz minds omg.”

Everything in my world right now is telling me that people don’t know how to use the internet. And by people I mean companies. And by companies, I mean the publishing industry.

First we’re scared of it. Oh god, no, we couldn’t get on the (hushed whisper) internet. It will eat books aliiiive! Then we’d be all:

Then the weather changed. Days grew long, then short, then long, and then short (x infinity). Time went on. People got old (but certainly did not retire). Some of them died, I’m sure. May they RIP. But ideas did. not. change.

Mostly because we fear change like the Birthers fear intelligence and Obama. In a crazy, crazy frantic kind of way. Just imagine that the Birthers:Obama::Publishing:Internet!

Who woulda  thunk it.

So fastforward, skipping a few steps because while kinda important, they can’t really compare to this guy (as much as I want them to. sigh):

i ... edited this photo a little.

ohai Jeff Bezos. He brought us [the Almighty, All Powerful] Amazon. Which was great for us lazy, Amuhricans. (I jest, I loved it at first site as well). GEDDIT? ho, ho, ho. Anyhow, so Jeffy brought us Amazon. Those of us who could read, well… those of us who chose to read (we, the minority) could find a shit ton of books and have it come to OUR HOUSE. omg. it was like ebay. but better. I bought all my GRE books on Amazon, what. It was cheap, it was convenient. And you know what, who cares about brick & mortor stores anyway? I mean, really. (o hay thar key stroke!) I mean, the only people who hung out at Barnes & Noble were scraggly emo kids who wanted Starbucks and dirty photobooks. Or music theory. Whatever.

And then the Kindle. This is where the Orwellian Mr. Bezos (we weren’t friends anymore) stepped on the wrong game. We readers generally don’t have a problem with e-readers. I don’t mind the Sony Reader, for example. But shoot, this isn’t supposed to turn into an evisceration of B-dawg. No, no. Nothin’ but … a vehement dislike on my end. Just some fist shaking, etc. (if you do want further info on why he scares me and my love of literary difference within our world, take a hard read here.)

It’s more that, when this happened. Perhaps we should have figured out, hey, maybe we should work with this new thing called: Teh Int-er-net?

… Of course not. We were still pretty much:

But instead of crawling slowly back into the dark, we figured a better idea would be to LETS  OMG GUYS WE HAVE TO GET ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB RIGHT NOW DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WE HAVE TO BE ON EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW?!… Which is fine, okay, whatever. But this is done without any real understanding the medium that we all decided was perfect. Social networking. AKA social media. (“It has Media in its title, obviously we’re supposed to use it. Duh.”)

Welcome to Publishing: Facebook groups, Twitter accounts, blogs, et cetera et cetera et cetera. So quoth the king. (of And I fame). Oh, and let’s not forget how journalism has devolved into blogging. In print. Which I whole heartedly feel is hurting them even more than the internet is. They’re just pansies.

It’s nauseating. So, now people are harping on how print is dead and that the world is changing and so on and so forth. There will be changes, yes. The internet is not, however, our savior. It’s too unbridled, too big, and too intangible to completely fix everything that is wrong with this business. I say, PRINT WILL HAVE IT’S REVENGE. MWHA HA HA HA HA. (/evil laughter)

Wow, got a little serious for a hot minute over here.

(I’ll fix that): It keeping with this post, it’s funny and sad at the same time. Not that I think I’m that funny. Obviously. Shoot. I just ruined this blog by being an asshole, didn’t I?

I was going to end it right there, but WordPress just told me that there were six hundred and sixty-six words in the post. I both don’t like the thought of it because why tempt fate and I don’t need any more reasons for my friends (The Christians) to think I’m a crazy heathen who thwarts God’s will by existing. And tempting fate.

Uh, yeah. Awkward. Peace, guys.

And a video because I know you guys like things that are flashy:

11 Comments

Filed under This Sucks

i think i’m falling apart

like, literally.

Before I begin, it should be noted that there will be pictures / videos in this post not pertaining to the subject at hand. I just know how much you kids like pictures and videos.

look how creepily alike Zac Efron is to Death Notes Serial Killer Light. WEIRD.

look how creepily alike Zac Efron is to Death Note's Serial Killer Light. WEIRD.

i think my foot is going to fall off at the ankle. my right ankle’s been hurting for the past few days – but not in a sprained kind of a way. in a, i’m fine walking on it for a few minutes, and then the shooting pain starts.

i’m less of a panic!doctor kind of person and more of a “let’s sleep on it and see if it goes away” kinda gal. of course, this is why i spent four days in bed w/ bronchitis in June, wondering why oh WHY wasn’t the nyquil and the mucinex and the orange juice making the cold just die. (… because it wasn’t a cold. geddit?).  Any how, having not sufficiently learned my lesson, I keep sleeping on it – well not on it per say, that would be counter productive – you know what I mean – expecting it to get better.

Oh GQMFs, yer awesome. Next time: Lord Byron. Srsly.

Oh GQMFs, yer awesome. Next time: Lord Byron. Srsly.

I’m starting think I should change my name to one of the following:

a) Quasimoto
b) Tiny Tim
c) Crutchy

So, that’s my right foot story – capiche?

This morning, my company sent out a “Free Flu Shot” internal memo alerting that we, the employees, were welcome to parttake in free chemicals being shoved into our arms by way of a tiny, tiny needle. I ask you, how could I resist?


this hamster is insane and i wish i could move that fast in real life. instead of in my dreams. of being the flash.

What I’d forgotten, is that flu shots make your arm hurt all day. So my left arm is killing me. And my right foot is kind of useless. I may as well have phantom limbs. … Except that I’m typing with my left hand, so that’s not entirely true.

Maybe this whole post was a lie. How about that? I’m an unreliable narrator. Ever think of that? Hmmm?

and we’re out. I’m droppin’ the mic’, yall.

12 Comments

Filed under Life, This Sucks

haters gon’ hate.

Gotta love the reflective lenses.

Gotta love the reflective lenses.

The westboro church is being kind enough to come to this, the great free liberal hellhole: New York City. (But not the Bronx.) They’re going to picket at the Yale Student’s Memorial because they are The Most Hated Family in America.

Speaking of which, here’s part one of the documentary by Louis Theroux, The Most Hated Family in America:

hope you all enjoyed that crash course in crazy.

Leave a comment

Filed under This Sucks