Tag Archives: politics

Going On The Account: Reality Checked

So the last time I pitched Red Jenny, the person I was describing to said, “You mean, you really think climate change will make a war possible between the US and Canada?”

Had that happened after this post, I could have held up Syria as a case study in climate change geopolitics.

Which makes what may happen there soon all the more tragically ironic, as we’d be going back to the Middle East so soon because of oil, although not for oil.  If anything, we have less reason to go to war there to fight for new petroleum, and instead are looking at intervening thanks to our overusing this resource over the last few decades.

So no, I don’t think what I set up is all that far fetched; the consequences that thematically built the book did come and bite everyone’s asses pretty well.  Depending on how Syria plays out, I might look back and think I didn’t go far enough…

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Going on The Account: Go West, Young Seadog… (Where the Pickings are Easy)

And it looks like while things have calmed down to the east, that piracy off the coast of Nigeria  is becoming a hot topic.

A less humble, more boisterous person might note that this shouldn’t be real news, especially if one looks at notices about action here from July of 2012 or July of 2010 or March of 2010 or even June of 2008, though in all fairness there was a lot to distract people out there; didn’t the Kardassians have some kerfuffle or something…?

What makes this of note now is the fact that action in this theater is affected by the dreaded sequester, also known as “failure to embrace Keynesian principles like we used to.”  Buried in the AP piece that finally recognized West African piracy was word that the US Navy may not have the resources to patrol the Gulf of Guinea, which considering the potential such actions have to destabilize a member of OPEC could be considered either (a) an act of wanton folly, or (b) betting heavily on projected US crude output figures making us a net exporter sooner rather than later…

The idea that we might not be able to afford projecting our power on the sea lanes is a little unsettling.  I’m not entirely sure Jefferson was all that worried about going after the Barbary pirates 200 years ago, but recognized it as a good investment worth making at that time.  The idea that we have come to the point where we look at our ability to do things the way the dystopia in George Lucas’ THX 1138 used to consider their actions makes me sweat as I consider it:

Hell, the idea that THX 1138 is an appropriate metaphor for American power projection in my lifetime is scary enough, almost as scary as how few other people out there may have actually seen this picture; futility is trying to discuss this with anyone I know for more than a few seconds before the blank stares stop me like the gaze of Medusa…

What would it take for Nigeria to get the same level of interest in time before it got bad the way it did off Somalia?  A few civilian hostages?  Maybe if the Nigerians took a Kardasian or someone else from the over-privileged class(less)?

How much will we allow before it becomes unbearable?  And why in hell can’t we do something before it’s needlessly too late?

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – What Are We Thankful For?

This is the twenty second day of Blogtober, which this year coincides with Thanksgiving Day in the US.

It’s a  time for family to get together, air their grievances, eat and drink too much, and pretend not to care about who the Lions and Cowboys are playing.

It’s a time we go on about the traditions the Pilgrims brought about, even though our Thanksgiving owes more to Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt than it does Miles Standish.

It’s a time that came about in remembrance of Union victories in the American Civil War, which makes me wonder how many self-conscious folks in the Deep South might be having problems eating a deep fried turkey today.

It’s a time when people who complain about their traditions and customs being impinged upon have nothing to say about a New York tradition being rebranded as the “Macy’s Day Parade,” because apparently a company wanting your money taking over your holiday is somehow better than others trying not to be exclusive.

It’s a time when some families will have members having to leave early to report for their retail jobs tonight for employers who forget what “holiday” means.

It’s a time when some families are so messed up that a few members wish they had jobs they had to show up at 5 PM for that night.

It’s a time some folks wish they had jobs, period.

It’s a time when some households will be thankful for how things are, while some insist everyone at the table signs their secession petition.

It’s a time we complain about the pain of going through this day, the travel, the cooking, the relatives we have to sit with, and yet we do it every year.

It’s a time when no matter how much we bitch about it, when we are at the table and can say a few words, we find that yes, we have at least something to be thankful for.

And if you find yourself at this time without anything to be thankful for, you’re in my thoughts and have my wishes for better times to come your way soon.


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Going On The Account: Blogtober – The Pirates of New York – Four

Welcome to the eighteenth day of Blogtober, where we try and recall the glories of the past.  I remember how glorious it was getting sleep at regular intervals; next time Speaker7 and Sips of Jen and Tonic suggest something crazy like a post a day all month, I should just ask the Lovely and Talented Susan to keelhaul me.  Twice!


Which has a plus in that, now we’d have an excuse to get a boat…




And speaking of getting something to go to sea with, the next part of our miniseries THE PRIATES OF NEW YORK continues, as we cover a lot of different ships, from frigates to aircraft carriers, many of whom are involved directly in the Sweet Trade…


Part the Fourth: From Privateers to Professionals, or Taking Care of Business


New York’s involvement with the Sweet Trade can be compared with Henry Morgan’s career, in that like the captain the city started off with a wild side that encouraged all sorts of rowdiness, but as they both matured they stopped going on the account, and later had a hand in reigning in the pirates on the seas.


They also both got heavily involved in having their names and likeness associated with major product branding, but that’s a post for another time…


When the United States was formed, New York was already established as a major port city where many of the goods from the newly formed United States.  So important was the city that it served as the new nation’s capital from 1785 through 1790, which was convenient for those looking for jobs as privateers; under Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution, Congress has the power to grant letters of marque and reprisal, which were probably sought with great frequency to go after the first foreign powers the United States went to war overseas with:  The Barbary Pirates of North Africa.


Unlike the Revolution, however, the United States this time went with professionals to do most of the fighting.  Ironically, a nation that owed its birth to privateers used regulars to go after pirates themselves, which gave Stephen Decatur his baptism by fire and gave the US Marine Corps something to sing about, having marched to the shores of Tripoli during this action.


This was not to say, however, that we were done with such rogue.  Came the War of 1812, aka Round 2 of our issues with Great Brittan, or as the British thought of it, “that damnable sideshow keeping us from fully dealing with Napoleon,” and suddenly letters or marque were being issued with greater  frequency, nationally as well as on the state level.


It was inevitable that a war whose causes included impressing American sailors at sea, an act that required the seizure of ships in open water and removing content (in this case compliment) off board, would result in calling up privateers.  One survey of the privateers of the War of 1812 indicated that out of 518 vessels logged, 100 claimed New York as her home port.  The only port to have more vessels claim her as their home port was Baltimore, and only by a thin margin.


Let’s keep two things in mind with regards to the rush to issue letters of marque, one verifiable and one assumed.  What we do know is that many of the ships issued license were sloops or schooners, many with no more than eight guns on their decks, often less.  A look at the actions listed in the link above shows that not all of these vessels running out with the “naval militia” were successful in patrolling the seas; quite a number were more prey than predator.


The second, an assumption, is that with the large number of sloops and schooners claiming some form of authorization to board and seize vessels, that a number of captains and ship masters may have tried to use the crisis to their advantage to engage in their own boarding actions, who when asked for their letters of marque might have claimed any number of excuses as to why they could not produce their paperwork.  The opportunity and temptation was probably too great for a number of potential pirates to not hoist the colors and engage in their own actions, though at this point there is no verification of this, merely an understanding of human greed that allows for such to be a possibility.


Regardless of who was a privateer and who was an out-and-out pirate, there were more small boats willing to go up against a professional foreign navy than there were small boats in the climax of The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming (which frankly is a great film, if you have a moment to watch it).  This proved to be an issue with the British, especially to Vice-Admiral Alexander Cochrane, who was stationed in Bermuda and tasked with putting down the American naval presence.


Cochrane had a number of options before him, which included going into the known pirate dens and taking out these centers.  (Bear in mind, to the British any vessel engaged in seizure, letter of marque or not, was considered a ‘pirate.’  Hell, they still thought John Paul Jones was a pirate back then…)  And given the fact at sea, he had to consider the possibility of coming for New York, which was filled with such raiders as well as being a major economic target.


Unfortunately, there was the matter of the just completed Castle Williams, built to insure that the British would not repeat what happened in 1776.  Placed on Governors Island, her two tiers outfitted with a combination of 32-, 42- and 52-pounder guns enabled the fortress to take out just about any vessel that got between her and Manhattan, with heavy direct fire shot on a stable platform that would have taken out even the heaviest first-rate designated vessel.


Castle Williams, New York Harbor
Photo Courtesy of Susan Ryan


The alternative for Cochrane was the other great hub of pirates that plagued the seas, Baltimore, which was less well protected by a smaller-grade set of defenses, a set of works call Fort McHenry…


Fort McHenry, Baltimore


As a result of New York’s defenses, the British decided not to come here, instead going south, losing a major ship-to-shore engagement, in addition to losing a favorite drinking song, “Anaceron in Heav’n”.  Yes, New York’s pirates lost some of their cred because of Castle Williams, though as no one wanted to go through repeats of what happened 40 years before they were more than willing to forego a little reputation for some safety…


What would remind people of the potential pirates found on the wharfs here was an incident that changed how the US Navy trained its recruits.  In 1842, the brig USS Somers was launched from the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and served as a school ship for potential seamen by giving them “on-the-job” training.


This “school” wasn’t exactly Fordham Prep, unfortunately.  The vessel was badly over-crowded with too many young men given intimate exposure of some of the worst elements of a sailor’s lot, which drove some of the midshipmen to discuss what it would take to mutiny and become pirates.  They may or may not have been joking when they discussed this, depending on whom you asked and when.  Considering the recruits were probably not used to the harsh realities of naval service and thought they could cashier out when they got ashore, versus how truly ugly a sailor’s lot was then, the truth may have been somewhere in the middle.


Unfortunately for the pirate wannabes, her captain Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, a native of New York and a 27 year veteran who fought Barbary and West Indian pirates and witnessed atrocities in the fight against them during his service,  was probably not the person who should have been in command when some of his midshipmen discussed mutiny.  A combination of low tolerance and bad fortune saw members of the crew placed in irons for discussing becoming cutthroats; ultimately, Mackenzie used his prerogative to execute three of the mutineers while thirteen days out of New York, where a court martial could have been held for the mutineers there.  When Mackenzie pulled into harbor, the court of inquiry held in the matter concluded by a split vote that while the captain was within his rights to do so, they did not endorse his actions, which effectively ended Mackenzie’s naval career.


It also ended the experiment in “on-the-job” training, and encouraged the War Department to consider a new way to train seamen.  One of the condemned conspirators, Philip Spencer, was the son of Secretary of War John Spencer, whose experience may have helped berth and launch the United States Naval Academy, founded at Annapolis, Maryland, a convenient trip from Washington even in the 1840s that would have insured that had another Cabinet member’s son discussed going pirate he could be visited by his dad quickly and talked out of such foolishness.


It may also have been the inspiration for Herman Melville’s Billy Buddyet one more legacy to come out of either a failed mutiny or a bungled command, depending on where you stand on the incident…


Once again, something touched by pirates leads to some business heading south.  There’s no apparent record if they ever considered putting a naval academy here in New York, but it’s probably for the best; imagine the chaos the Army-Navy Game would engender every time if the two campuses were only an hour’s drive away from each other…


Speaking of pirates, southerners and New Yorkers, we come to an unfortunate set of facts in the continuing narrative, how New Yorkers came to be involved with the blockade runners of the Confederate States of America.


Before the American Civil War, there was a lot of money to be made by New Yorkers willing to deal with King Cotton.  The ROI on trading cotton, buying it from Mississippi and selling it to England, could be between six to seven cents for every penny paid out, which made the product very desirable and a lot of New Yorkers rich, in particular the shareholders of John Fraser & Co.


While the US had moved away from relying on privateers since the last war with the British, and had established a professional navy that was being led by graduates from Annapolis, the seceding states were in desperate need of a navy, especially as the Union blockade cut off the southern coastline.  What resources they had went more into R&D (resulting in such vessels as the CSS Virginia and the CSS H L Hunley) in order to break the hold on them, leaving few ships to go up against the US Navy itself.  This led to President Jefferson Davis requesting from the Confederate Congress the power to issue letters of marque, to grant to ships to run the blockade, sell goods to England and France, use the money to buy munitions to bring back, and if they had a chance to take out a Yankee merchant vessel or two.

In short, the plan was to encourage a new generation of pirates and smugglers to ride the waves again on behalf of the new nation, much the same way the first war for independence relied on a private navy.


And a major  agent on the business side representing the Confederacy was John Fraser & Co., which through offices in New York, as well as Liverpool and Charleston, handled not just trades as shipping agents between Richmond and the European capitals, but provided a ship for the cause.  The CSS Kate Dale was a steamer originally intended for customer service before the war between New York and Charleston, funded by John Fraser & Co., which joined the rebellion when hostilities broke out.  She had 20 successful runs through the line before she was captured off Tortugas in 1863, ending her career.


Also of note was the CSS Nashville, whose hull was also laid in Brooklyn and became the first CSN warship to raise her colors in the English Channel in 1861.  After she captured two prizes, she changed name twice before her sinking in Georgia, brought down by the USS Montauk.


The ship that brought her down is worth note here, as it is indicative of how New York found its way into both sides if the conflict, for the Montauk was also built in Brooklyn.  In fact, her entire class of vessels, the Monitor-class (named for her most famous namesake, USS Monitor), was developed at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which would go on from there to provide more warships for the navy than raiders for pirates come 1865.  Among the more famous ships launched into the East River from there would be the USS Arizona, the USS Missouri and USS Constellation, none of which were ever in danger of mutiny the way the USS Somers had been…


Despite the sympathies a number of business leaders had for the Southern cause, or more precisely for the profit to be made from the Southern cause, by the 1860s respectable New York did not engage in the widespread funding of pirate ventures the way their ancestors had before the Revolution.  Upper class New Yorkers were decent, law-abiding citizens, who were above such foolishness.


Their lower class neighbors, on the other hand, were about to make one last grand going on the account…


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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Something NOT Sailing With The Tide…

Welcome to the fourteenth day of Blogtober, where we waste my time and yours (but mostly mine) with doing more work to ignore NaNoWriMo through blogging than it would have taken to just, you know, ignore it  maybe…

As I keep reminding everyone by reposting the same damn intro every entry, I get reminded that I did sort-of commit myself to one topic right off the bat; to quote:

Heck, at least one piece will be how what happens November 6th is going to impact the Modern Age of Piracy…

Funny, that I used the word “commit” to discuss this…

To be honest, I figured this was going to be an easy one; I pretty well knew how November 6th was going to be, thanks to a certain core faith I held, and reading lots of Nate Silver’s posts since May, so getting the piece up and ready should have been a slam dunk.  Unfortunately, the last person to call anything like this a “slam dunk” was George Tenet, and we all saw how that turned out…

It seemed so easy, I thought; Obama was going to continue with coalition actions, using Combined Task Force 151 as a model for further activities, wrapping up Somalia and getting ready for dealing with actions elsewhere, such as off Nigeria where actions have recently gotten more heated, and the waters of Indonesia which has seen a rise in actions.  And with the announced basing of 2,500 Marines in Australia announced last year, the odds of Indonesia going the way of Somalia seemed remote.  Nice simple piece, write it in my sleep…

Sleep; I remember sleep…

Funny, talking about “sleeping with” here…

OK, I delayed the “but” long enough here; speaking of “bu-”

[SFX: Getting slapped for the delays]

Okay.  So what went wrong?  The Petraeus Affair, that’s what.  Yes, I am calling it an “Affair” without the slightest  irony whatsoever; anyone using the word “Scandal” wishes it were a lot bigger than it was, in order to justify their worldview that they are on the way out thanks to nefarious dealings against them as opposed to, oh… say, a bad message for the wrong audience, poorly delivered…

The thing of it is, this is an ongoing story that takes more twists than a sloop in the middle of a Cat 5 hurricane; by the time I post this, some new facet will reveal itself and put everything stated before in an entirely different context.  And the steam which is running the boiler for this craft does not look to be petering out any time soon; we could be dealing with revelations throughout the rest of the month the way this is going.

And until that plays out, a major component of American power projection can’t be honestly assessed from without, and maybe not from within as well.  Even if it all comes to a tidy end right now the way Kevin Clash’s ordeal just did**, there’s still the matter of picking up the pieces; a new director for the CIA needs to be found and vetted, which could change some of the key people and focus tracking piracy worldwide.  The fact that General John Allen is also caught up in this, a man who on his way to commanding NATO, which was conducting Operation Ocean Shield off the Somali coast, makes the picture even cloudier.

Having a new Secretary of Defense as assumed might happen with the Cabinet shuffle would not have had as dramatic an impact on these efforts as the changes closer to the field has had, at least before this.  Without the Patraeus Affair, finding a new head at DoD would have been a bit less of a circus than it will be now, as legislators start looking for ground from which to build upon, ground composed of ruined careers and reputations.

Let’s be clear here:  The people involved may not have compromised national security or weakened this country through their actions, but they were just too f’n’ stupid in how they conducted themselves.  They will probably all get what’s coming to them, which is all going to be short of a turn in the brig, but within that limitation very likely deserved.

And until this all plays out, until every tear has been cried, every scream has been screamed, every bad feeling felt, until then we can’t really know what’s next in pirate interdiction.  And if anything, something like this should serve as a reminder that the more we think we know, the more we assume that we have it all figured out, that it’s that moment that a black swan comes in for a landing on the water, reminding us all to check our egos at the hatch and be careful what we say…


** EDIT:  So much for tidy; Kevin Clash has just resigned from Sesame Workshop to deal with further allegations regarding his personal life, which will probably take up the majority of his time from now on.  What was that about black swans, again…?

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Lest We Forget…

It’s the eleventh day of Blogtober, a month that so far has not been one without anything dramatic to write about, between the weather and the election.


A month that also has in it the eleventh day of the eleventh month: Armistice Day, which became Veterans Day for those who didn’t log in as much time on the inappropriately-named “War to End All Wars,” and Remembrance Day for those who were there from the beginning.


I wish I had more to say, but there’s the looming fear of being glib and wounding some folks close to me.  I have by way of very, very few degrees of separation folks who are veterans who should be taking advantage of all the free meals being offered today for active personnel.


Save for the fact that despite their prior service, their country still needs them.


This is one of those “don’t hate the player, hate the game” moments you see thrown around elsewhere, where in those cases the stakes are far smaller than life, death, national security and geopolitics.  One of the results of putting war on a credit card was similar to deferring maintenance on the car:  You keep with the old parts until you absolutely have to replace them.  They applied the same principle you would to your break pads and put in place stop gaps to keep active units and federalized national guard on the front lines for multiple tours of duty.


People, unfortunately, aren’t brake pads, and treating them as such does no service to them or their cause.  Our cause, I should say, though in order to fight the wars of the last decade the home front was kept as far from actual contact with it as possible, forcing us to take the blue pill and not ask the serious questions a people going to war should ask their leaders.

Would we have gone into these wars the way we did if we owned more of them?  If we had a more active stake, maybe a bond drive, or even a draft the way there had been during the First World War and the other long engagements before this, would things have come to this point?


My hope for those waiting to finish their tours as I remember them and everyone else who gave the ultimate service is that, if we don’t end all wars this time around, that we at least shut them down for the near term, and not need to send anyone else for a while.  Do take a moment, if you can, to remember those who’ve gone out, whether they came back or not.


And if you can, offer a hope that those still out there can come home soon.

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Coincidence or Consequence?

Welcome to day ten of the continuing Blogtober crisis, where before the end of this we’ll find some way to justify keeping Ted Koppel on the air long after it’s finished


Speaking of crisis impact, I’ve had a few folks ask me how what we just went through compared with what I’m writing now, which is a fair question, all said.


Yes, it’s easy to see that there’s much of my work that echoes a lot of what we just went through.  The situation in the Midwest does seem like the “Big Dry” and the storm does seem to have done similar damage to what Hurricane Alejandro had wrought when he came ashore in the novel, although he swiped a little to the east of where Sandy had been.  And if the normal sea levels where the novel has set them were the same height as where the surges that came with Sandy that took out the tunnels, making the flooding we saw permanent (which seems possible when you have Governor Cuomo stating his belief that we’re going to get storms like this a lot more often),  then yes, I could probably claim to be the next Morgan Robertson, whose book Futility about a giant ship being  christened Titan sunk in the Atlantic by an iceberg just did not sell all that well until the Titanic disaster14 years later…


Of course, it’s not all radical climate shift we have to worry about.  Part of what sends this time our children will know better into such a calamitous state is a shift in the balance of power after Korea reunifies, which may not happen soon.


Although President  Lee Myung-Bak of South Korea doesn’t seem resigned to a long wait; in fact, minister for reunification Yu Woo-ik is drawing up a sensible roadmap for it, trying to avoid some of the issues the Germans faced when they came back together…


Well, there was also that part about an Arab-Israeli Cyber War I threw in there…


…which admittedly was written after word about Struxnet hit the wires, although this does not seem to be the end of the story…


O-kaaaa-a-a-a-a-y….  I think I’m going to make this a quick post; I have to see about talking to some folks and let them know that, yes, I do want to see those southern Ontario listings after all…


And maybe download some Morgan Robertson while I’m at it…

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Going On The Account: Blogtober – Vote Early And…

This is the sixth day of Blogtober, and it just so happens this year to fallon Election Day in the United States.

I’m not sure I need state my opinions about the day, as anyone who has been reading these missives for almost five years now (Good Lord! Really?) has a decent idea as to where I’d like things to end up.  The statement of my leanings here have been as subtle as Christopher Moody‘s Pirate Colours.

As of this moment, I’m not that worried.  Despite a few people with their own sinister agendas claiming otherwise, I’m confident how the election will go, and look forward to the future.  Or at the least, the end of this rancorous campaign; I’m looking forward to the three months of peace we’ll have before we start politicking for 2016…

That all said, if there’s one thing I learned from my encounter with Sandy, it’s that you should probably have a back up plan ready just in case.

Not that I’ll need it, regardless of the outcome, but if it does start to look truly dire in the days after the polls close, I could maybe solicit some recommendations for online listings of apartments and jobs in southern Ontario…


Whatever you do in the States today, however you intend to, please vote.  This republic only works when we put in the time needed to do what we must.


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Going On The Account: Sunset To The East

According to a piece in today’s NY TIMES, the number of pirate attacks reported off the Horn of Africa are down over 80% comparing this year so far versus all of 2011.


So far, Combined Task Force 151 is not claiming victory, which is never a good idea in any event, but they are citing improved security measures as the reason for the drop off.  The article above does discuss how the Navy is citing better enforcement as the the reason for the greater security for shipping.


No mention in the article is made about Somalia’s improving domestic stability, although passing mention is made about renewed political turmoil possibly spiking the figures should it occur.


Yeah, even the bad jokes sometimes try to write themselves…

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Going On The Account: What, Me Worried…? Um, Kinda…

Well, I have to admit, as I put together the notes for the current book, I was willing to imagine that I could have not considered everything as I looked at that time our children would know better.  Apparently, the idea of droughts leading directly to blackouts as Michael Webber points out in the NY TIMES fits in that category; there may be time to throw that in as things get even messier for Jenny…


Speaking of pirate messes, apparently the bulk of the action is now heading west, as attacks are down off Somalia but up around Nigeria.  Considering the similarities between the two theaters, in terms of instability ashore amid rampant poverty, there’s plenty to worry about; as the main difference between the two is that Nigeria is a member of OPEC, I’m damn near deep in insomnia…

Not a bad idea, that; got to get some sleep.  Suffering for your art is so pre-housing bubble…

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Going On The Account: More Heartless Than Blackbeard?

So word comes in today from two different articles on the Gawker sites regarding Dara Lynn-Weiss, a socialite who wrote an article in  Vogue about how she put her seven-year-old daughter on a diet in the worst possible way:

* Berating her daughter for her choice of foods, in public before her friends

* Keeping her from social activities based around food

* Screaming at her kid for accepting snacks and treats offered by other kids’ parents

* Belittling and berating her at every turn


Nope, no potential  long term psychological scarring here;, no negative body issue reinforcement coming out of this, no sir…

And after a year of doing this to her child, she not only gets an article in Vogue but a book deal at Ballantine.

A book deal, for being a complete out-and-out so-n-so.  What the fu…?

Sure, there are plenty of heartless folks who get the chance to write books, but usually for showing  depraved indifference in a position that affects whole populations.  In order to understand why such leaders showed depraved indifference at the helm, and in the hope of preventing this from happening again, we give these folks a chance to speak (what passes for) their mind to learn from that.  So it makes perfect sense that we’d give, say, Dick Cheney a book deal to understand how that all went down.

Giving him a new heart, on the other hand, not so much sense.  Some folks might ask when they read the news, “He had a heart to replace?”  but well…

An abusive parent, however, I can’t see rewarding with a book deal.  Did she get her daughter to lose weight?  Sure she did.  So too did Carlotta Brett-Pierce, who starved her four-year-old daughter Marchella in 2010 to death.  She’s facing a murder charge for the death of her daughter, though I doubt that if Marchella had lived that her mother would be getting a book deal.  Likewise, if Bea Lynn-Weiss had not survived her mother Dara’s bullying, it would be hoped that Vogue and Ballantine would not have been that quick to offer her ink and paper.  We can thank David Berkowitz for something, all said…

Still, how is it all right to laud  some truly horrible behavior like this?  What parent would give complexes to such young children, and how do we keep such bad parenting from being rewarded with a book advance?  If she met our expectations and did things the way they have always been done, then Dara Lynn-Weiss could not be given a forum unless she’d starved every child in Darfur (which is sadly no joke); the fact that she can now get published for only abusing her own kid is a development I’m not sure we really want to see in our bookstores.

Excuse me for a moment while I make sure my son’s OK…


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Going On The Account: We Don’t Need No Education…?

I had someone take me aside after I posted a chapter in Red Jenny and the Pirates of Buffalo where I point out that one of the factors involved in the collapse of civilization as we knew it was eliminating state funding for higher education.  That person told me that I was being unrealistic, that no one in charge of government would ever go to that extreme in the future.

Today, there’s a piece on Gawker that cites an article from the Los Angeles Times where they discuss new tuition rates at Santa Monica College, part of the community college system in California.  Normally, I don’t block quote, but this just has to be read to be believed:

Faced with deep funding cuts and strong student demand, Santa Monica College is pursuing a plan to offer a selection of higher-cost classes to students who need them, provoking protests from some who question the fairness of such a two-tiered education system.


Under the plan, approved by the governing board and believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, the two-year college would create a nonprofit foundation to offer such in-demand classes as English and math at a cost of about $200 per unit. Currently, fees are $36 per unit, set by the Legislature for California community college students. That fee will rise to $46 this summer.


So let’s consider this:  The essentials are going to be tier priced at a rate about six times higher than a class in…  Geeze, what the hell can you get at that rate?  What would fall into the “not in-demand” category?  Do we want to know…?


Sadly, I didn’t have anything riding on my contention, because that person would now owe me a drink.  And after reading this news, boy could I use one…


Filed under Fiction