Category Archives: non-fiction

General rambling and opinion about real things – probably things that piss me off, more often than not.

Gassing the Children

Mainstream news sources are telling us that Bashar al-Assad recently decided to kill children with sarin gas. I can’t imagine anyone stupid enough to think that Assad or one of his generals said, “Now that we’re winning the war, let’s gas some children,” and so they did.

What isn’t being reported is any information that would put anything about this situation in context. Syria is still engaged in a civil war. The area where people died from exposure to chemical weapons is enemy territory.

In a worst-case scenario, gas was used to attack the al-Nusra forces in Khan Shaykhun, and the children were collateral damage. But even that doesn’t make sense. After taking control of Aleppo, what reason would Assad have to use gas against the rebels in Khan Shaykhun?

The only thing that does make sense is exactly what Russia and Syria are saying. Yes, they bombed their enemies in that area, but they hit a chemical weapons stockpile they didn’t know was there, and that shouldn’t have been there. The collateral damage from the attack on an enemy stronghold was far worse than they had reason to expect. But no matter what happened, they certainly did not set out to simply “attack children” as the U.S. news media would apparently have you believe.

After the gas attack in Ghouta in 2013, which the Syrian government also said they didn’t do, and would never do, they agreed to turn over all chemical weapons in their possession. But what about those not in their possession because they were in enemy-controlled areas?

In 2013, Russia said the Ghouta (and other) gas attacks were a false flag operation by anti-Assad forces designed to get outside countries involved in the conflict. But no one could prove that Assad was behind the attacks then, and Obama took no action.

Look what’s happening now. We have “evidence” that planes took off from the Shayrat Airbase and dropped bombs on Khan Shaykhun. That’s it. And that doesn’t prove that those planes dropped gas, while it does fit the claim of Syria that they unknowingly bombed a chemical stockpile. So far, we can only speculate and guess at what actually happened. When speculating, we should strive for a theory that actually makes sense.

There’s a ridiculous propaganda line being repeated endlessly: “Assad attacked and killed his own people.” Out of any context whatsoever, this says absolutely nothing sensible. The exact same thing could be said of Abraham Lincoln. It makes as much as sense as saying that Trump is Hitler. It’s an outrageous claim, with zero evidence, designed to evoke a visceral emotional reaction. And it’s working. Incidentally, the same people who hate Trump and give voice to the Hitlerian accusations are leading the cheer that Assad gassed children.

Now that Trump attacked the Shayrat Airbase, pissing off the Russians, how does that fit with the narrative that Russia installed Trump has president and everything he does is for the benefit of the Russians? Will the most extreme anti-Trump crowd now claim that Putin, Assad, and Trump planned this entire scenario to just to prove he’s not really Putin’s puppet? The Trump-Russia narrative doesn’t work anymore without a theory like this. And if someone does propose this theory, that would mean that Trump was equally guilty of gassing the children. And if Trump is Hitler™ he’d have no problem with that. Right?

Will the craziest of the anti-Trumpers go that far to keep the narrative alive and working? Would Trump and Putin go so far as to have a naval stand-off, which appears to be happening now as Russia sends a warship to confront our ships that were used to attack Shayrat Airbase?

Consider this: Hillary was in favor of military action in Syria. She and others wanted to go against Russia, creating a no-fly zone that would involve shooting down Russian fighter jets that crossed into Syrian airspace. Now that Trump has taken military action in Syria, many of Trumps former critics are praising him.

(Conspiracy theorists should take note that this gas attack has wiped Susan Rice and her guilt/lies about Trump surveillance from the news. Remember Monica Lewinsky and Clinton bombing Iraq when evidence came out that he was lying? Makes a person wonder.)

We can theorize anything, but what we need are facts. Images of children foaming at the mouth and dying are powerful and evocative, but we need to know not just that they died, but how, and by whose hand. Unfortunately, everyone is talking, but no one is looking for facts or anything that makes sense. CNN tells us that witnesses saw “chemical bombs dropped from the air.” Could the average Syrian citizen actually identify the exact type of bomb that is falling from a plane? Could you?

Trump’s supporters are upset with his actions, and his critics are pleased. That alone gives me reason to question what we’re being told. We have no interests in Syria, and no reason to go to war with Russia or anyone else over Syria. I liked Trump’s position that we should work with Russia to eradicate ISIS in the area, and provide safe havens for refugees. And that’s it. Trump’s opposition wanted us to be more militarily involved in Syria, and militarily at odds with Russia. That’s what is happening now.

If you’ve noticed a lot of fake news, outright lies, and propaganda from the mainstream news outlets, you shouldn’t suddenly assume that everything those same discredited sources are telling you now. The same pundits who normally shriek, “Where’s the evidence?” for anything Trump claims, from the size of inauguration crowds to being illegally wiretapped, are now quite content to praise actions that could lead to us being at war with Russia, without any evidence.

The Art of Not Marketing on Social Media

Intl' Authors' DayThis blog post is a part of the blog hop, created by b00kr3vi3ws.

The Art of Not Marketing on Social Media

Here’s something you might find refreshing, especially if you’re at the tail of the Baby Boomers and among the first of the GenX’ers and aren’t really all that hip to the whole idea of “building a platform” and plugging in to social media like Facebook and Twitter. Many authors who buy books and/or read blogs about how to self-promote their self-published books are constantly told that they need to get on these two huge social media venues. Once there, you now need to build a huge following so you can then promote your book to that eager crowd.

The truth is, it’s actually a catch-22. If you had the means to get thousands of people to “Like” you Facebook page, or to follow you on Twitter, then you’d simply promote your book to those thousands, wouldn’t you?

Here’s an example of how this works (or doesn’t, actually) via silly dialogue:

The Catch-22

Author: How can I get people to notice my book?

Helper: You need to create a website.

Author: Okay, I have a website now. How do I get traffic to it?

Helper: For that, you need a blog.

Author: Okay, now I have a blog. How do I get people to read it?

Helper: You should promote it on Facebook.

Author: Okay, now I have an author page on Facebook. How do I get people to Like the page?

Helper: Are you on Twitter?

Author: I’m on Twitter now. How do I get people to follow me?

Helper: Have you linked to your Twitter account on your website?

 

You should see at least one problem with this approach, but there are actually two. The first is that it’s circular and the “solution” just recreates the same problem on another platform. The second is that the author is attempting to use social hangouts to sell his or her book.

Imagine you’re at a party enjoying a good time with some close friends. You and two friends are having a very interesting conversation A guy walks up, rudely interrupts the three of you and says, “Hey, you should buy these vitamins! They’re on sale this weekend only, and several people have said they really love them. Here, let me know show them to you.”

Would you be inclined to buy some? Or would you be annoyed and irritated at the interruption and tune the person out so you could continue talking with your friends? That’s what happens when you promote your book on social media sites. The bad news I have for you is that you’re an annoyance. A spammer. Someone who just crashed the party, hoping to make a profit.

The good news is, a really good way to promote your book and to generate interest in it, and sales, is to stop promoting it on social media.

Isn’t that a relief? You don’t have to do that anymore. You probably hated it anyway and felt like it was a chore, but all of the “experts” said you had to, so you did, but nothing seemed to come of it, so you suspected you were doing it wrong, or not enough, and so you tried harder and got the same results. Right?

So what should you do then to get people interested in your book if you’re not blasting away on the Holy Grail of social media? The answer is that you should *use* social media the way it was intended.

About your Facebook

If you’ve been trying to develop a following or a fan-base there, you may have engaged in a practice of exchanging Likes with other authors. It doesn’t say a lot about you or your books if you only have 10 likes, so everyone wants more. That’s understandable. But here’s where the problem comes in. If you Like the pages of five hundred authors and they Like yours in exchange, what do you do next? You post about your book to your larger “fan base” that you’ve established. The problem there is that you don’t have a fan base yet – not aside from the original 10 Likes from people who really like your work. And they already bought your book, so now when you promote it on your Facebook page, the people most likely to buy it, already did!

As for those other 490 people – they already gave you something of fair value in exchange for getting something back. They got your Like, and you got theirs. That’s all they wanted from you. They’re not interested in your book. They’re trying to promote theirs. Did you buy all of their books? Of course not. You have no idea what they wrote or if you’d even like it. You were just exchanging Likes. Your new “fan-base” has equally little interest in what you wrote.

The way to use Facebook is the way it was intended. Connect with friends and family. See what they’re up to. Congratulate them on their accomplishments; cheer them up when they’re down; share photos of you and your wacky pets; pass on the funny meme that cracked you up. Whatever you’d ordinarily do on Facebook is what you should be doing on Facebook. And that includes talking about your book on occasion. Post about your writer’s block, or pass on a meme image that address it. Post a link to your book when you publish it, or get a good review. These are important things in your life and your friends and family will celebrate with you.

You should also make a Facebook Author page, just to have one. I don’t think it will do you a lot of good and I would discourage you from buying Facebook advertising or paying to “Boost” your Author page.

The Funny Thing about Twitter

With 255 million active daily users, this surely seems like a place you need to be. So you sign up and some friends to follow you. Now what? You need new followers who don’t already know about your book. If you’re smart, you start following new people, and a good number of them will follow you back.

This is a long and slow process, so maybe you’ve bought some followers. You paid out $30 and now have 5 or 10 thousand followers. So you Tweet to them, and you find that it’s still not helping your sales any. You might have noticed with all of the people that you’ve followed that their tweets come pouring in constantly. If you’re following a few thousand people, the incoming tweets are non-stop. If you were smart enough to realize that the same thing applies to your followers, then you also realized that there’s very little likelihood of them ever seeing your tweets. They’re drowned out by the mass quantity of incoming messages. Just realize that when you sent a tweet, it does not necessarily reach the people it went out to. It’s sent to them, but if thousands of others are sent to them daily also, why would anyone assume that one particular tweet will even be seen?

This is where some people get creative and use software to auto-tweet for them every few minutes in the hopes that a cup of red wine poured into the waterfall will get noticed on its way down past the follower’s face – if he just happens to be sitting on his home page and looking at all of the incoming tweets. Some of you are probably doing your recommended “one tweet every eight minutes” manually because you couldn’t figure out the software. Either approach is wrong-headed, ridiculous, and isn’t worth the effort at all. Here’s what you should do instead. Use Twitter the way it was intended. But first, set an image of one or more of your books as your cover image. (The big, wide one.) In your bio, talk about yourself the way you would if you were writing a super brief bio that was going to be used to introduce you to others at a party. Include a link to your website, or your Amazon author page, or your book’s website! Don’t leave this out. Now tweet occasionally about something you’d like to tell the world. Or go find an interesting topic by doing a hashtag search and join the conversation that’s taking place. Do NOT mention your book. People who find you interesting will find it on their own when they visit your page to follow you. Or to follow you back. And when people visit your page to follow you, it’s a thousand times more effective if they see a page full of interesting tweets instead of seeing a page filled with ads for your book for as far as the page will scroll. Think of your Twitter page as a website home page. Whatever you tweet will be the content of that home page.

Be social on social media!

If you act like a person on social media, people will find you interesting. Some of them will develop an interest in your book. And by finding it themselves, they’re far more likely to buy it than they would be if you’d urged them to. This approach is crucial if you’re on Goodreads. Establish your author page, then do nothing but socialize as the site was meant for you to do.

I’ve sold over 500 books this year with my non-selling approach and my $0 marketing budget. Consider giving it a try. It’s not a fast advertising approach, but if you’re an author, I would assume you’re in this for the long haul, you want to develop a fan-base, and you’re not just trying to make money.

If you read this entire blog post, you just won a free copy of my latest novel, “Kendra’s Spirit.” (Also known as “Reaching Kendra.” Congratulations! Click  the link below this sentence to download the Kindle version in a zip file. Kendra’s_Spirit_by_Edward-M-Wolfe If you’d like to have the book in another format, just let me know, and I’ll send it to you. You can also view the book on Amazon to read the description and find out how awesome reviewers say it is.  Thanks for reading!

Elliot Rodger: Clueless Psychopath

If you look at his FB page, you can see that for years he posted mainly pictures of himself and his cars. The one time he actually used words, he said, “Damn, I look good.”

It’s not hard to see that he was a shallow narcissist. And that just had to drive him crazy. He was convinced he was a god (for apparently nothing more than being born wealthy,) and yet the evidence made it abundantly clear that he was a total loser, piece of shit.

He was incapable of finding fault with himself, like a true psychopath/sociopath, so he concluded that everyone else was wrong. Only he was right. And everyone else would have to pay for their “unforgivable crime” against him.

Some other sick bastard created a Facebook page, using Elliot’s name, and is calling him a god and condoning everything Elliot did. Facebook won’t remove it.

I and others have reported it to the police. Maybe they’ll at least talk to this guy and make sure he doesn’t have any guns – and if people grow brains, they’ll come up with a new database to be checked before selling someone a gun.

When we see totally fucked in the head people, we need to be able to put them away. I know people cry out, “But then that will be used against people.” But we need to not be stupid about it. If some douchebag is divorcing his wife and tries to get her committed, we can see what the play is there.

We just need to use common sense and not continue to act like blithering idiots, which is the standard today.

So many things that plague society are so easily remedied, but we just forge ahead like morons.

The guy who is worshiping this psycho needs to be put in a mental hospital. But, nope. Can’t do that. It would deny him his rights. Only after he copycat murders a bunch of people and denies them their right to life, then we can wring our hands and say, “If only we had known there was something wrong with him.”

But the fact is, we do know in advance. And we either do nothing, or we try and can’t get through the barriers, as was the case with Nancy Lanza trying to get Adam committed before he slaughtered a bunch of children.

But all we’ll do is say we need another hundred laws against the type of tool that was used. Because it obviously makes sense that some day we’ll reach the magic number of laws against guns that will prevent people from using them to commit murder.

How many more people have to die before we actually do something sensible?

“Humanity, you never had it.” – Charles Bukowski