Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A checkpoint on my "fiction" development, and on my "blogger journalism", and even music: where I am headed

I just wanted to provide a checkpoint on where I am with my plans to “promote” by “DADT III” book (that is, “Do Ask, Do Tell: Speech Is a Fundamental Right, Being Listened to Is a Privilege”, on Amazon and inexpensive on Kindle, Books blog, Apr. 21), get a reasonable movie treatment circulated, and maybe look into ways to make my publishing more efficient, and get back closer to the “real world” of actually interfacing more with people.
Right now, I am reviewing all of my “fiction” documents – that is, manuscripts and outlines of unpublished novels and screenplays, going all the way back to 1969, starting with “The Proles”, a chapter of which (dealing with Vietnam-era Army Basic Training of draftees)  is reproduced in my DADT III book.  There are about ten of these (see the checklist here ).  There are a number of screenplays (features and shorts), of which at least three features right now are important.  The characters and plot lines (and time sequences) of many of these works intersect, so it is important to me to get a grip in quite a bit of detail on just what I was attempting to do all of these years.  All of this will probably take another month or so.
I also have composed some piano music (“classical”), which I want to get produced in a professional manner, particularly a Piano Sonata from 1962, and some other smaller works.  I’ve discussed that on my “Drama and Music News” blog.   

I am quite impressed by the recent expansion of the site “Vox” media, which Ezra Klein and now Timothy B Lee have charged up since moving over to the company.

The site often takes a topic and consolidates the current knowledge on the topic, with the approach “what you need to know about…”.   Here’s a typical example, by MatthewYglesias, “Is buying a house a better investment than buying stock”, link. (Tim Lee tweeted today that he used to think that buying house was for suckers, until… -- well, don’t buy them to flip them, as did one of Dr. Phil’s guests.)  A typical article will link to the middle of a "Conversation" with yellow cards (apparently from Power Point) that explain all the talking points about a particular public policy issue. 
That is something what I do with all my blogs.  If you go to any of them and navigate to the Blogger label for an important topic, you can find all the posts about that topic since 2006, and get a feel for what the issue is about.  There is an issue with connecting this material to essays (and book and movie reviews) on my older sites (“”) efficiently – I don’t have the “programming skills” to do this easily.  But here’s an example of how far I have gotten with one topic, “filial responsibility”, link here. I see that I could play with HTML tabs and make this better quickly – but then what happens for mobile users? A related idea would be “opposing viewpoints” (Feb. 29, 2012).

 I usually don’t try to write a summary of “all you need to know about …” because it’s always a moving target.  Some topics are just too big and volatile for such an approach to work right now – for example, climate change, or gay marriage.  Some are a bit more fixed now, like “gays in the military”, since “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed in 2011.  But there’s a value to presenting (like to high school or college students) why the issue was perceived as a problem, and what perils could still remain.

I do know of a few topics that seem to be inadequately covered by the media, and where a strategy like that of Vox could be very beneficial, even game-changing in the public’s grasp of a problem.  One of these would be filial responsibility laws (as connected to increasing life spans and possibly lower birth rates in some communities).  Another would be the murky and upcoming problem of asylum for lesbians and gays from some increasingly hostile countries, including whether individual Americans can do anything about this (whether sponsorship could become an issue) and whether the dissemination of “hyper-individualistic” values in western websites (even like mine) have provided fuel overseas. Still another very critical area is how “downstream liability” protection for service providers is for spontaneity of speech on the Internet – and how this could all be lost suddenly. (That refers to Section 230 and the DMCA Safe Harbor, different but similar concepts).  And most of all might be the issue of power grid vulnerability -- to solar storms, EMP, and cyberterror. 

Okay, here’s an obvious question.  Could I help them?  Down the road, I think so, but I have to become more efficient in getting my own homework done. I’m quite shocked at how, in “retirement”, there simply isn’t enough time to get everything done “by myself”.  Part of the problem is hardiness and stability of infrastructure, and the ability of one person acting independently to procure the level of customer service he needs when something breaks, even if he has warranty or the money to pay for it. My "effectiveness" is "what it is", regardless of the cause of fault, so it really matters to me whether others can do their jobs! I use a wide variety of software products in my work, and I simply don’t have time for complicated updates and interruptions for every new version of a product that a company offers.  I also don’t have time for telemarketing or random sales calls or personalized appeals for donations (which I have automated through my bank).  I do need to go “on the road” (like Jack Kerouac) and remain wired and efficient, more easily than I can now.  I want to start playing better chess (in tournaments) again.  And yes, I need to interface with real people more, and that is problematic (see Aug 25, 2013 and April 1, 2014).  Yet, there must be some way to do this with “indirect” benefit and synergy (sorry about that, service really should invoke self-interest, I rather disagree with the pastor on the April 1 posting).  One obvious idea, working with youth on “online reputation” and cyberbullying issues.  

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