Saturday, October 10, 2015

My take on H.P. Lovecraft (reader question)

A reader asks,

“Ed, Have you read any H.P. Lovecraft? What do you think of his stories? Did he influence Eleven Miles of Night, 12 Hours of Halloween, or any of the short stories in your Hay Moon collection?”

Let’s begin with the first question.

Yes, I’ve read him—a lot of him, in fact. I discovered Lovecraft while I was in college, when I was about twenty years old. I was in that “bulk reading” stage of my life. I was reading everything I could get my hands on—from contemporary pop fiction to classical literature.

I knew that I wanted to do at least some of my future writing in the horror genre. I had already read everything that Stephen King had written to that time (this was circa 1988); and I was ready to move on to some other horror novelists. I also wanted to read some horror fiction that was a bit more “academic”, if I could find it.

I gave Edgar Allan Poe a try. While I enjoyed some of Poe’s stories, I definitely found his florid, nineteenth-century prose off-putting at that stage of my life. I needed something a bit more modern.

As this was a full decade before the Internet, research was a catch-as-catch-can endeavor. I learned of Lovecraft’s existence through some scattered essays of literary criticism I had read. (Stephen King also mentions him in several of the introductory essays to his own works.) I knew that Lovecraft had done most of his writing in the 1920s and 1930s. He was roughly contemporaneous with Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, whose fiction I had read and liked.

Lovecraft, I thought, might be what I was looking for. And he was. Sort of…

But Lovecraft didn't entirely meet my expectations. The first thing I noticed was that Lovecraft was more of a short story writer than a novelist. Only four of his works can be fairly described as novels: At the Mountains of Madness, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, The Lurker at the Threshold. And they are short novels at that—really better described as novellas. Most of what Lovecraft wrote would be classified as long short stories.

Lovecraft’s worldview also differed from what I’d anticipated. Not all horror fiction addresses spiritual concerns; but much of it does. Roughly eighty percent of the genre touches upon the supernatural, and that means the portrayal of some sort of a spiritual reality, often along Judeo-Christian lines.

H.P. Lovecraft—somewhat unique among horror writers—was an atheist, for all practical purposes (though his beliefs are more often described as cosmicism, or “cosmic indifference”).

While I don’t exactly wear my religious beliefs on my sleeve when I write, there is a discernible belief in a “spiritual force for good out there” in my novel Eleven Miles of Night, and several of the short stories in Hay Moon (especially the title short story). Although I wouldn't characterize my horror stories as “Christian fiction” by any means, they are written within a largely Judeo-Christian framework of good and evil.

Lovecraft’s fiction, by contrast, is naturalistic—except for the fact that there are extra-dimensional monsters, the so-called “old ones” out there. (The old ones inhabited the earth long before the ascent of humankind, and they are always threatening to come back.)

Lovecraft presents a universe in which human beings are the mostly unwitting victims of these “old ones”, which have a lot more in common with science fiction aliens than with ghosts, vampires, or demons. Although the old ones have special powers, they are not exactly spiritual in nature.

Perhaps this is why Lovecraft has been classified as a horror writer only by default. Publishers and bookstores need to fit literature into neat categories, after all. Many diehard Lovecraft fans are apt to bristle at the horror label, preferring the more vague moniker, “weird fiction” instead.

Whatever it was, exactly, that Lovecraft wrote, you have to admire the scope of his imagination. His stories (and he wrote a lot of them, by the way—many of which are now available only in electronic form) reveal a creativity that was truly profound in the early twentieth century. (We must remember that Lovecraft did not have Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Ray Bradbury to build upon. Nor did he have access to the science fiction films of television’s golden age.) Lovecraft’s stories were and remain unique and inimitable. Though his work has spawned a subgenre dedicated to its imitation, the products of the Lovecraft imitators continue to pale in comparison to the real McCoy.

That having been said, it must be noted that Lovecraft’s stories are relentlessly plot- and monster-driven—not character-driven. Even Lovecraft’s most ardent fans admit that character development was not his strong suit. His human protagonists are notoriously two-dimensional. Most are either young men who are driven to madness by their interactions with “the old ones”, or academic types who spend all of their time puttering around in the dank and dusty library shelves at Miskatonic University.

I suspect that this is the main reason for Lovecraft’s overwhelming emphasis on short fiction: A two-dimensional character can work in a 5,000-word short story. But over the course of a 100,000-word novel, a stock character falls flat.

Lovecraft has also been criticized for his lack of “meaningful female characters”. (Actually, it would be more accurate to say that he doesn't have any female characters—or almost no female characters.)

As I’ve stated elsewhere, I have little patience with those who insist on bringing their ideological crusades into the analysis of fiction. But this particular critique of Lovecraft is not mere political correctness. It isn’t so much that Lovecraft’s depictions of women are stereotyped, or sexist, or misogynistic, as it is that he doesn't acknowledge women’s existence at all.

I’m willing to tolerate fiction that doesn't have suitably “strong women” in the contemporary usage of that term. Fiction that contains zero women is something else entirely. A writer who can only write one half of the human race (and superficially at that) is a writer with a major handicap.

By all accounts, Lovecraft was more than a bit of a recluse. He didn't get out much, and he didn't have many conversation partners. This shows not only in his arrested character development, but also in his stilted dialogue.

Here is an excerpt of dialogue from “The Colour Out of Space”, which is often cited to illustrate Lovecraft’s struggle to reproduce authentic human speech:

"Nothin'... nothin'... the colour... it burns... cold an' wet, but it burns... it lived in the well... I seen it... a kind of smoke... jest like the flowers last spring... the well shone at night... Thad an' Merwin an' Zenas... everything alive... suckin' the life out of everything... in that stone... it must a' come in that stone pizened the whole place... dun't know what it wants... that round thing them men from the college dug outen the stone... they smashed it... it was the same colour... jest the same, like the flowers an' plants... must a' ben more of 'em... seeds... seeds... they growed... I seen it the fust time this week... must a' got strong on Zenas... he was a big boy, full o' life... it beats down your mind an' then gets ye... burns ye up... in the well water... you was right about that... evil water... Zenas never come back from the well... can't git away... draws ye... ye know summ'at's comin' but tain't no use... I seen it time an' agin senct Zenas was took... whar's Nabby, Ammi?... my head's no good... dun't know how long sense I fed her... it'll git her ef we ain't keerful... jest a colour... her face is gittin' to hev that colour sometimes towards night... an' it burns an' sucks... it come from some place whar things ain't as they is here... one o' them professors said so... he was right... look out, Ammi, it'll do suthin' more... sucks the life out..."

(Perhaps recognizing this gap in his own skills, Lovecraft consistently minimizes dialogue in his stories, by the way.)

Overall, then, the human side of Lovecraft’s fiction is extremely weak; and that is a severely limiting factor for any author. Fiction should ultimately be about people—even if those people inhabit a universe filled with supernatural terrors.

This is why Stephen King succeeds brilliantly where Lovecraft falls short. Stephen King’s supernatural villains are not especially innovative: King writes about vampires, ghosts, and serial killers—the antagonists that have been filling horror fiction for years. Readers love King because they identify with his characters—Ben Mears of Salem’s Lot, the Torrance family of The Shining, Stuart Redman of The Stand, and, of course, the eponymous Carrie. If King’s characters were as flat as Lovecraft’s, King would not be where he is today.

In summary, then, I admire Lovecraft for his undeniable creative strengths. (Oh, I might also mention in passing his prodigious vocabulary, which includes SAT exam stumpers like cyclopean and antediluvian).

Nevertheless, if I had to select a list of ten fiction writers whose works would sustain me for life on a remote Pacific island, H.P. Lovecraft wouldn't make the cut.  And to the extent that he is an influence of mine, he is a minor and mostly technical one. 

Haunted roads in the U.S.

In the spirt of Eleven Miles of Night, my novel about a haunted road, 8 Haunted Roads That Scaredy Cats Should Avoid At All Costs

Friday, October 9, 2015

Lessons from the summer of Trump

Will the candidacy of Donald Trump ultimately crash and burn? No one can say for certain. But MJ’s Lee’s article on CNN contains a revealing paragraph about why Trump—an unlikely candidate in many ways—has been so successful thus far:

“Passionate Trump fans in Iowa said they're fed up with politically correct politicians, want a candidate who can inject a jolt of energy into the party, and they are certainly not interested in a third President Bush. Many of them echoed Trump's alarm about what they perceive to be an America being overtaken by outsiders — from foreigners entering the country illegally to refugees seeking shelter in the United States.”

Yes, I’m going to talk about political correctness again. Political correctness is so pernicious because it prevents us from discussing facts and data that should be included in national debates about economics, crime, and national security.

Following some recent news stories involving terrorism (this summer’s Chattanooga shootings) and lawlessness (riots in Missouri and Maryland) political correctness has reached a saturation point.

A sizable number of Americans are fed up with PC doubletalk. They want a president who will actually say ‘Islamic terrorism’, for starters.

Likewise, after vandals tear apart an American city, most of us realize that the immediate need is for law and order, not another lecture about ‘the legacy of racism’ from a half-century ago.

There is also a widespread desire to rethink the premises of globalization on which the “New World Order” of the post-Cold War 1990s was based.

Let’s start with Mexico: We all agree that Mexico is a miserable place. (Ditto for most of Latin America, with a few exceptions like Chile.)

But wouldn't it be simpler for Mexico to get its act together, rather than all of us trying to figure out how we can resettle half of the Mexican population here? (It is worth noting that this solution would be much better for Mexicans, as well as Americans.)

Unfettered free trade and open borders have been profitable for large corporations—who benefit from race-to-the-bottom wages. Economic refugees from Latin America, and workers in the developing world have also benefitted.

The results for working-class Americans have been less than stellar. The net effects of globalization have been lower blue-collar wages, and receding opportunities in many sectors of the white-collar job market.

Americans want a president who isn’t afraid to broach these topics, for fear of a backlash from corporate interests, or a dread of being called ‘xenophobic’. The exercise of national sovereignty—including border control—does not equal xenophobia. A ‘nation’ should be more than just another node on the global economy.

My belief is that Donald Trump will be a transitional figure in the GOP. As acknowledged here before, his flaws as a presidential candidate are many. But he has tapped into the zeitgeist of the long-ignored Republican base.

Hopefully the other GOP candidates will take note, and change accordingly.  

P.J. O’ Rourke vs. Ann Coulter, and the arms race of provocation

Anne Coulter was recently attacked in a high-profile online essay. The author of the Coulter critique was not a leftwing editor of the DailyKos or the Huffington Post, but none other than P.J. Rourke, a conservative essayist usually known for his wicked satire of liberals and the Democratic Party:

O’Rourke took issue with a recent Anne Coulter Tweet:

Cruz, Huckabee Rubio all mentioned ISRAEL in their response to: “What will AMERICA look like after you are president.” 

How many f—ing Jews do these people think there are in the United States?

O’Rourke began his case against Coulter as follows:

But, first, my contempt is moral. Antisemitism is evil. Per se, as you lawyers like to put it.

It is highly unlikely that Anne Coulter is a closet Nazi. Also, her remark needs to be considered in context. She wasn't primarily talking about Jews or Jewish issues. Coulter was drawing attention to the fact that Republican candidates were going out of their way to mention Israel, in an effort to appeal to certain constituencies in the Republican Party. (This would include not only American Jews, but also Evangelical Christians.)

That said, the use of the phrase “f—ing Jews” was unnecessary, uncalled for, and calculated to be inflammatory and attention-grabbing.

But wasn't that the point? You’re almost certainly familiar with Anne Coulter. But unless you are a conservative news and commentary junkie, it’s quite possible that you haven’t heard of P.J. O’Rourke.

This is because Anne Coulter is well known for engaging in unfiltered, inflammatory speech. She makes outlandish statements, and they’re quoted everywhere—sometimes in admiration, sometimes in denunciation and disgust.

I was a fan of the late William F. Buckley Jr. (1925-2008). Buckley was often mordant when attacking liberals, but he was always polite. He rarely used slang, let alone profanity. It is almost impossible to conceive of Buckley talking like Anne Coulter.

Buckley also got his start when there were three television networks, a handful of national daily newspapers and weekly magazines, and no Internet.

Today the field of would-be pundits (on the Right and the Left) is a lot more crowded. This has led to an “arms race”: Who will be the most provocative?

And lest you be mistaken, this isn’t limited to the Right. When Sandra Bernhard joked about Sarah Palin being gang-raped by her “big black brothers” a few years ago, she was trying to grab the attention of the media and the Internet.

And she succeeded.

Modes and styles of communication must, to a certain degree, change with the times. In an era of short attention spans and Twitter, it may no longer be effective to always speak and write in the measured, urbane language of William F. Buckley. There is a place for the snappy one-liner.

Nevertheless, political commentary that relies solely on shock value quickly becomes a meaningless carnival show. There is also a built-in expectation of constant escalation. The ultra-edgy quickly becomes business-as-usual. Constantly using the “F-word” in your blog doesn't distinguish you when every blogger uses it. The net result, rather, is that you all look stupid.

When I was a kid, a teacher once cautioned me against the use of profanity with the following admonition: “When you use profanity, you draw attention to your words, not what you have to say.”

Well put. Some of today’s political commentators and bloggers would do well to heed my old teacher’s advice.

Palestinians peacefully protest...

By stabbing eight Israelis:

...including one (unarmed, of course) pregnant young woman who was stabbed in the neck.

This has actually been occurring for several weeks now, but you probably haven’t heard about it in the mainstream American news media.

Journalists rarely create outright fabrications. But news stories are almost always selected and pushed to serve a particular narrative.

News stories can also be conveniently ignored when they contradict the narrative that the media wants to promote.

Palestinian terror against Israelis is no longer “newsworthy”, it seems.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Blood Flats" and Gulf War history

As readers of the novel will know, one of the main characters in Blood Flats (Sheriff Steven Phelps) is a veteran of the Persian Gulf War of 1990-1991. 

During one scene fairly early in the book, Phelps recalls a particular incident from the war. A few of you have asked me if this incident is real. This is the U.S. bombing of the highway running between Iraq and Kuwait, the so-called "Highway of Death." 

Below is an excerpt from the scene in the book (the opening scene of Chapter 8):


"The sight of the two bodies struck him like a sudden physical blow. Phelps had been expecting them, of course; but seeing them was something else entirely.

Fitzsimmons, ex-con and probable drug dealer though he was, made a pitiable spectacle, sprawled on the floor of his living room with half of his head missing. The woman was worse: Phelps stared at her mutilated body and thought of her wasted youth. Whoever she was, she should not have ended up this way.
He looked away, suddenly disgusted—with the scene but also with himself. A sheriff was not supposed to be sensitive. A sheriff was supposed to be insensitive so that regular people would not have to view images such as this.
Phelps had seen corpses before. Nearly twenty years earlier, he had been a young Marine in Operation Desert Storm, the last major American war of the twentieth century. One morning in the late February of 1991, Sergeant Phelps had witnessed the aftermath of a vast killing, and he still saw it from time to time in his dreams.
By late February of that year, the short war had been winding down, and Saddam Hussein’s ignominious but temporary defeat had been all but a given. Phelps’s platoon had been ordered to secure a portion of the northern Kuwaiti desert. This section of the vast dunescape was sundered by the six lanes of Highway 80, the main conduit for vehicle traffic between Iraq and Kuwait.
When the U.S.-led coalition drove the Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, the invaders had exited Kuwait City in a makeshift fleet of military transports and stolen civilian cars. They loaded these conveyances with as much looted property as they could. And so the Iraqis had fled, the rape and plunder of their southern neighbor finally at an end, the U.S.-led coalition pursuing them.
Near a portion of the highway known as the Mutla Ridge, American aircraft had attacked the long Iraqi convoy. Hundreds—perhaps thousands—of Iraqi soldiers were incinerated inside their escape vehicles. Western journalists had wasted no time in dubbing this scene “the Highway of Death.”  
By the time Phelps and his men had arrived, the charred corpses and blackened machine wreckage had cooled. Phelps had walked among the vehicles, staring into the empty eye sockets of leering skulls. The men inside the stolen BMWs and Mercedes were little more than skeletons now. In the end, their rape of Kuwait and their desperate trek through the desert had been for nothing. What had they been thinking? Their delusion had been vast: Some of the Iraqi dead still wore the blackened remains of Rolexes taken from Kuwaiti department stores.   
Phelps pushed the memories away. The two corpses before him now troubled him more than those hundreds of corpses from two decades prior. That had been war, after all; and if not all of those men had deserved to die in such a fashion, they had certainly been complicit in their own fate. This was no war zone; it was a residential trailer park in Phelps’s hometown, a community that he had sworn to protect and serve. He could not escape the fact that he bore some responsibility for those two bodies on the floor...."

*     *     *

To answer the question: Yes, this is an account of an actual event from the Persian Gulf War.  As the above paragraphs indicate, the bombing of the Highway of Death occurred rather late in the war, when the situation had already turned south for the Iraqis--who were busy fleeing back to the north.

U.S.-Russian clash in Syria?

A very real possibility exists. Relations between Washington and Moscow have not been so tense since the early 1980s, when Yuri Andropov, a former KGB chief, was in charge at the Kremlin.

In 1983, amid dysfunctional communications between NATO and the Warsaw Pact countries, a routine NATO exercise known as "Able Archer" nearly triggered an accidental nuclear exchange. (This near miss wasn't widely known at the time; almost no one living in 1983 grasped how close we had come to Armageddon.)

Now, once again, a former KGB man heads the Kremlin. Putin's Russia, like Yuri Andropov's USSR, has no compunction about resorting to the shooting down of civilian airliners, and similar acts of barbarism.

And this time the main theater of confrontation is not the relatively stable Cold War Europe of 1983, but the chaotic and fratricidal Muslim Middle East.

Moreover, in 1983 the West was in capable hands, with Ronald Reagan in the White House, and Margaret Thatcher at 10 Downing Street. Today's Britain is less confident and assertive, and the White House has become an on-the-job training facility for an affirmative action amateur.

So yes, the risks of a U.S.-Russian confrontation are very real.

Satanist shenanigans in Detroit (and what they mean)

I shall have more to say about this at a later date, but a few salient points will suffice for the moment.

First of all, this is not really about "creating a safe space for Satanism" in American society. (A spokesperson for this particular Satanist group goes out of her way to note that the group does not believe "in a personal Satan". Therefore, the whole Satanist schtick is basically a canard.)

This is rather about degrading Christianity and its foundational role in Western Civilization—which the folks who are giggling with glee about this incident do not understand at any meaningful level.

Basically, the argument goes something like this: Western Civilization is religion-neutral, so Satanism is “just as good” as Christianity.

Or to put it another way, Christianity is no more significant in the United States than any other religion (including—but not limited to—Satanism).

Even the organizers of this event grasp that Satanism, when practically applied in society, would be nihilistic and result in all sorts of behaviors that would be incompatible with even the most basic standards of law and order. Therefore (I reminder reader yet again) The whole Satanism thing is a canard.

But if Christianity can be made equivalent with Satanism, then Christianity is degraded by implication, which (once again) is the whole point of this exercise.

This is the sort of smirking, debunking quasi-logic that is prevalent on the Internet nowadays, where there is little deep understanding of culture or history amid the adolescent muck that passes for serious analysis.

At a cultural level, Western Civilization is most emphatically not religion-neutral. Sorry to disappoint some of you, but the facts of history do not support such an argument. On the contrary:

Judeo-Christian values, along with Enlightenment rationality and Greco-Roman concepts of representational democracy, comprise one of the key foundational elements of our civilization. Satanism does not. Hence the cultural significance of the Ten Commandments—but not the Baphomet statue.

If you live anywhere in the west, then your life has been influenced by Judeo-Christian thought in positive ways, whether or not you believe in God.

Our notions of individual rights, the protection of weaker members of society, and the separation of religion and state (while still preserving a space for freedom of conscience), these are all Judeo-Christian values.

Look around the world today, and you'll see that these values are by no means taken as self-evident in many non-Western cultures.

What self-styled freethinkers refer to as "secular humanism" is really little more then Judeo-Christian values stripped of their overt spiritual references. Even those who self-consciously seek to separate themselves from Judeo-Christian values are hopelessly bound to them. This is because Judeo-Christianity is one of the key reference points of our civilization.

The main problem with the "New Atheists" is that they have attempted to debunk Christianity without first understanding it—and its larger historical significance.

So what of this nonsense in Detroit?

What takes place on private property is, of course, private, as long as no laws are violated. If the Satanists attempt to place the statue in a public venue, however, then that is another matter.

For the time being, though, I am less concerned about the existence of the statue than by the fact that so many mainstream journalists and opinion-makers fail to grasp the fundamental issues involved in the larger debate about Western Civilization's Christian roots.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Joe Biden is not a crook

Ana Navarro makes the nonpartisan case for a Joe Biden candidacy on

“As much as I disagree with Joe Biden on many policy issues, I like the guy. Whether it be in expressing joy or deep sorrow, he is authentic and unafraid to show human emotion. Part of a president's job is to be the consoler-in-chief in times of national grief. Joe Biden knows how to help people pick themselves up again after tragedy. 
 Unlike Hillary Clinton, he is unscripted and spontaneous. Yes, he's verbose. Left unchecked, his interactions can often turn into monologues peppered with Irish poetry and occasional bad words. He is prone to gaffes. But we never doubt that he is saying what he actually believes.”

Indeed. I’ll almost certainly be voting against Joe Biden thirteen months from now. But Biden is a decent man who deserves to be heard. 

Biden is not disconnected from reality, like the addled socialist Bernie Sanders.

And unlike the current Democratic frontrunner, Biden is not a crook who would be an embarrassment to the nation should he win the White House.

Doctors without Borders and our Middle Eastern quagmire

“The medical aid group Doctors Without Borders, which has condemned a U.S. air strike on a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan as a possible "war crime," called Wednesday for an independent investigation into the attack under the terms of the Geneva Conventions.  
Joanne Liu, the group's international president, told reporters Wednesday that the strike “was not just an attack on our hospital, it was an attack on the Geneva Conventions. This cannot be tolerated.” 
Here is the problem: Islamist militants, from Palestine to Afghanistan, have shown a brazen willingness to hide among civilians. This is the Islamic way of fighting: If you have to meet Allah on the glorious field of jihadist battle, then take as many civilians with you as you can. Allahu akbhar and all that jazz.

This means that wherever we intervene in the Muslim Middle East, we will eventually kill civilians whom the glorious and courageous Muslim fighters have used as human shields.

I have no doubt that Doctors without Borders has a leftwing political agenda. Nevertheless, they have a point: The bombing of a hospital is an intolerable situation. But this is what inevitably happens when the enemy is a cowardly jihadist movement.

So what is the solution? The solution (and this will displease readers of both a left- and a rightwing political bent) is to let the Middle East hit rock bottom. Until political Islam is categorically rejected by the vast majority of the population, the Muslim Middle East will always be a basket case, in every way imaginable.

That is why the phrase “peaceful and prosperous Muslim country” is basically an oxymoron. When Muslims are the minority, they fight Christians and Jews (or Buddhists, or whomever is conveniently available).

When Muslims are the majority, then Muslims start fighting other Muslims.

This is also why is Islam is best kept out of the West.

Carly Fiorina, Hillary destroyer?

If the trend set by a recent poll in Iowa is any indication, Carly Fiorina may be guaranteed a spot on the GOP ticket, if not as the presidential nominee, then as VP.

As the Clinton scandals continue to abound, Hillary will increasingly play the feminist card, pushing herself as America's second affirmative action president. 

Fiorina neutralizes the feminist card, of course. If Hillary focuses on her genitalia as a qualification, Carly can say, "Hey, I've got one, too!"

If not Carly, then look for Rubio in the VP slot, for el voto latino. Or maybe it will be a Fiorina-Rubio ticket, which will check all of the appropriate boxes.

This is both new news and old news. In the past, the focus was on regional balance. Abraham Lincoln's 1860 running mate, Hannibal Hamlin, was selected by party elders for one reason: the Maine Republican prevented the ticket from being too centered on the Midwest.

Today, as Americans have fewer regional loyalties, the focus is not on regional balance, but on skin color, last names ending with vowels, and gender. In other words: identity group politics.

My disdain for identity group politics is well noted and need not be rehashed in this post. Nevertheless, identity group politics has become a key factor in winning the White House. Barack Obama would still be a virtually unknown Democratic state Senator from Illinois if his father had been Irish rather than Kenyan.

So reality being what it is, the GOP would probably be well advised to take a hard look at both Rubio and Fiorina. 

Thumbs down on the clouds: regarding software subscriptions

If consumer reviews are any indication, there is considerable backlash against the recent moves by Microsoft, Adobe, and others to migrate all consumer software purchases to "cloud"-based monthly subscriptions. 

Personal software used to be something that you bought every 3 to 5 years and then forgot about. Now you have purchase a monthly subscription and pay in perpetuity. This is the case not just for specialty products like Adobe's Photoshop, but even Microsoft Office.

Here we have yet again (as is so often the case with tech firms and dotcoms) a solution in search of a problem. 

Most subscription plans include "cloud" storage as part of the sales pitch. But why would this be necessary, when hard drives on desktops, laptops, and even mobile devices are larger than ever? I will never use all the space on my iPhone 6 +, let alone my desktop computer.

Most "cloud" nonsense is simply a scheme to extract more money from consumers for services they don't want or need. Within a few weeks of purchasing my iPhone 6+, I turned off my "iCloud" settings when I learned that my iPhone was automatically sending every video and photo to the Apple iCloud. 

The catch? As my free space filled up, I was continually bombarded with exhortations to purchase more storage space on a subscription plan.

In the case of Microsoft Office, the backlash seems especially severe. Reviewers have long been asking why we even need MS Office at all anymore, when there are free alternatives like Google Docs available.

Consumers haven't bought into the hype regarding clouds and subscription services. Software should be a one-time, periodic purchase, not an ongoing monthly bill.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

'No Borders' sacrificing women’s rights for multiculturalist ideology

“A young, female ‘No Borders’ activist working in a migrant camp on the France-Italy border remained silent about her gang rape by Sudanese migrants for over a month because “the others asked me to keep quiet.”  
Colleagues are alleged to have said that reporting the crime would set back their struggle for a borderless world. 
 The ‘No Borders’ activist had dedicated a month of her life to helping migrants. Her group was stationed between Italy and France in Ponte San Ludovico in Ventimiglia when the atrocity occurred, according to reports from local papers La Stampa and Il Secolo XIX, and now reported in the major Italian national Corriere Della Serra.  
One Saturday night, as loud music played at a nearby party, the woman was reportedly trapped in a shower block set up near the camp in a pine forest know as Red Leap.  
A gang of African migrants allegedly raped her there, and her cries for help are said to have gone unheard because of the music.

Simply put, the gang rape of a young, idealistic European woman at the hands of African migrants is inconvenient. It does not support the greater leftwing narrative about the migrant invasion presently taking place in Europe.

If two skinheads had shown up outside the migrant camp with a sign that said, “Africans go home”, you can bet that the story would have been all over CNN. That would have been an international incident and a crisis.

But the media doesn't want to report about rapes like this.

Lenin once said, “The truth is whatever is good for the revolution.” The folks at “No Borders” have obviously learned that lesson well.