Sunday, January 25, 2015

Leonard Pitts, Jr. Puts Fox News In Its Place

Most thinking people know it as Faux News and trust it less than Wikipedia (after all, Wikipedia often has valid information; Fox rarely has anything more than the sorts of things one used to read in The National Enquirer).
Scarily enough, many people are duped by Fox, and that's why I loved this article from The Miami Herald, reprinted in today's Salt Lake Tribune.

Pitts: Why serious people discount Fox News
Tucker Carlson said on Fox that more children die of bathtub drownings than of accidental shootings. They don’t.
Steve Doocy said on Fox that NASA scientists faked data to make the case for global warming. They didn’t.
Rudy Giuliani said on Fox that President Obama has issued propaganda asking everybody to “hate the police.” He hasn’t.
John Stossel said on Fox that there is “no good data” proving secondhand cigarette smoke kills nonsmokers. There is.
So maybe you can see why serious people — a category excluding those who rely upon it for news and information — do not take Fox, well ... seriously, why they dub it Pox News and Fakes News, to name two of the printable variations. Fox is, after all, the network of death panels, terrorist fist jabs, birtherism, anchor babies, victory mosques, wars on Christmas and Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi. It’s not just that it is the chief global distributor of unfact and untruth but that it distributes unfact and untruth with a bluster, an arrogance, a gonad-grabbing swagger, that implicitly and intentionally dares you to believe fact and truth matter.
Many of us have gotten used to this. We don’t even bother to protest Fox being Fox. Might as well protest a sewer for stinking.
But the French and the British, being French and British, see it differently. And that’s what produced the scenario that recently floored many of us.
There was Fox, doing what Fox does, in this case hosting one Steve Emerson, a supposed expert on Islamic extremist terrorism, who spoke about so-called “no go” zones in Europe — i.e., areas of Germany, Sweden, France and Great Britain — where non-Muslims are banned, the government has no control and sharia law is in effect. Naturally, Fox did not question this outrageous assertion — in fact, it repeated it throughout the week — and most of us, long ago benumbed by the network’s serial mendacities, did not challenge Fox.
Then, there erupted from Europe the jarring sound of a continent laughing. British Prime Minister David Cameron called Emerson an “idiot.” A French program in the mold of “The Daily Show” sent correspondents — in helmets! — to interview people peaceably sipping coffee in the no-go zones. Twitter went medieval on Fox’s backside. And the mayor of Paris threatened to sue.
Last week, Fox did something Fox almost never does. It apologized. Indeed, it apologized profusely, multiple times, on air.
The most important takeaway here is not the admittedly startling news that Fox, contrary to all indications, is capable of shame. Rather, it is what the European response tells us about ourselves and our waning capacity for moral indignation with this sort of garbage.
It’s amazing, the things you can get used to, that can come to seem normal. In America, it has come to seem normal that a major news organization functions as the propaganda arm of an extremist political ideology, that it spews a constant stream of racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, paranoia and manufactured outrage, and that it does so with brazen disregard for what is factual, what is right, what is fair, what is balanced — virtues that are supposed to be the sine qua non of anything calling itself a newsroom.
If you live with aberrance long enough, you can forget it’s aberrance. You can forget that facts matter, that logic is important, that science is critical, that he who speaks claptrap loudly still speaks claptrap — and that claptrap has no place in reasoned and informed debate. Sometimes, it takes someone from outside to hold up a mirror and allow you to see more clearly what you have grown accustomed to.
This is what the French and the British did for America last week.
For that, Fox owed them an apology. But serious people owe them thanks.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Writing Prompt Photo: The Shoe Tree

(Yes, Max already posted about this.  I know.)

West of the Salt Lake Valley, out past Tooele (if you're not from Utah, you probably can't pronounce that correctly), we have the West Desert.  On the highway to the abandoned town of Iosepa (colonized by Hawaiians in the 1800s -- because somehow that made sense to someone at the time, putting folks used to tropical weather in a desert and asking them to farm productively), there is a shoe tree.  And this, folks, is a picture of the shoe tree is a snow storm.
Yup, a tree hung with shoes in the middle of the desert in the snow.  Looks like a good writing prompt to me. :)

(Don't forget to click on the photo if you want to enlarge it.)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

What I Read And What I Rejected in 2014

I usually try to read 120 books a year, which is 10 books a month.  Some years I do far more, but this year I didn't quite make it.  Of course, if you add in time wasted on books I rejected and add in time spent on my manuscripts, then I more than made that goal. :)
As usual, I read more mysteries than anything else.
Below is the list of what I read, followed by the list of what I rejected -- the latter of which tends to interest more people. :)
In 2014, I began rating the books with stars.

  1. The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer ***** non-fiction, history. 1/4/14
  2. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley ***** mystery. 1/4/14
  3. The Weed That Strings The Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley ***** mystery. 1/7/14
  4. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley ***** mystery 1/10/14
  5. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley ***** mystery 1/11/14
  6. A Study In Silks by Emma Jane Holloway **** mystery, steampunk 1/14/14
  7. Speaking From Among The Bones by Alan Bradley ***** mystery, 1/16/14
  8. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches by Alan Bradley ***** mystery 1/17/14
  9. Time Bound by Rysa Walker *** sci-fi, time travel. 1/19/14
  10. Raiders of the Lost Ark *** YA action/adventure 2/2/14
  11. Temple of Doom *** YA action/adventure 2/3/14
  12. Gated by Amy Christine Parker ***** YA dystopia 2/4/14
  13. The Last Crusade. YA action/adventure *** 2/5/14
  14. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull *** YA action/adventure 2/6/14
  15. Standing in Another Man’s Grave by Ian Rankin ***** tartan noir/crime/mystery 2/7/14
  16. The Hidden History of Utah by Eileen Hallet Stone *** non-fiction 2/9/14
  17. The Time-Traveler’s Guide To Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer ***** non-fiction. 2/20/14
  18. Poison Pen by Sheila Lowe *** crime, 2/23/14
  19. Outcasts by Adrienne Kress **** YA paranormal (angels) romance 3/9/14
  20. Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin ***** crime 3/25/24
  21. Farm Chicks’ Christmas by Serena Thompson **** non-fiction, crafts, antiques 3/15/14
  22. Farm Chicks in the Kitchen by Serena Thompson **** non-fiction, recipes, crafts 3/18/14
  23. All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen ***** New Adult steampunk (2nd read) 3/27/14
  24. The Abused Werewolf Rescue Group by Catherine Jinks *** YA, sort of paranormal, a/a 4/6/14.
  25. A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey **** YA paranormal witchcraft 4/15/14
  26. Eats by Arnold Adoff ***** children’s poetry 4/17/14
  27. Pacific Graveyard by James A. Gibbs **** non-fiction 4/20/14
  28. St. Nick by Alan Russell **** Christmas sort-of cozy mystery 4/21/14
  29. Side Effects May Vary  by Julie Murphy **** YA realistic fiction/romance 4/27/14
  30. All Things Shakespeare Vol. 2 by Kirstin Olsen **** non-fiction 5/1/14.
  31. My Family For The War by Anne C. Voorhoeve **** sort of YA historical fiction 5/6/14
  32. Noggin by John Corey Whaley *** sort of sci-fi/realistic YA 5/10/14
  33. Good Times Travel Agency: Ancient China **** MG time travel + non-fiction. 5/16/14.
  34. The Falconer by Elizabeth May *** YA steampunk in Edinburgh but NO ending! 5/23/14
  35. Evil Under The Sun by Agatha Christie **** mystery 5/24/14
  36. Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie **** mystery 5/26/14
  37. The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki *** YA ghost story 5/27/14
  38. Appointment With Death by Agatha Christie *** mystery 5/30/14
  39. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas by Agatha Christie *** mystery 5/31/24
  40. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie ***** mystery 6/1/14
  41. Mrs. McGinty’s Dead by Agatha Christie **** mystery 6/1/14
  42. Taken At The Flood by Agatha Christie ** mystery 6/2/14
  43. Cards on the Table by Agatha Christie *** mystery 6/6/14
  44. Seven Dials Mystery by Agatha Christie ***** mystery 6/8/14
  45. The Secret of Chimneys by Agatha Christie **** mystery 6/11/14
  46. By The Pricking of My Thumbs by Agatha Christie **** mystery 6/13/14
  47. Crooked House by Agatha Christie *** mystery 6/14/14
  48. The Hallowe’en Party by Agatha Christie *** mystery (not her best) 6/19/14
  49. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson ** horror (silly, weak protagonist) 6/20/14
  50. A Touch of Gold by Joyce and Jim Lavine ***mystery 6/21/14
  51. The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie *** mystery 6/22/14
  52. The Regatta Mystery and Other Stories by Agatha Christie **** mystery 6/23/14
  53. A Sinister Sense by Allison Kingsley ** mystery 6/25/14
  54. Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch *** YA sort-of dystopian romance 7/3/14
  55. Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid ***** parody, suitable for YA 7/4/14
  56. Everything I Need To Know I Learned From A Little Golden Book by Dianna Muldrow *** gift book/coffee table book 7/5/14
  57. Superfood Smoothies by Julie Morris ** cookbook, so ridiculous it was funny! 7/6/14
  58. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen ***** romance 7/9/14
  59. Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope **** romance, updated Austen 7/10/14
  60. Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie **** mystery, short stories 7/12/14
  61. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie *****mystery 7/13/14
  62. Dr. Mutter’s Marvels by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz **** narrative non-fiction, medical history 7/18/14
  63. The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy by Kate Hattemer ***** realistic YA, NOT romance, funny 7/18/14
  64. Soulless by Gail Carriger (2nd read)***** humorous paranormal steampunk 7/22/14
  65. Changeless by Gail Carriger (2nd read) ****** humorous paranormal steampunk 7/23/14
  66. Blameless by Gail Carriger (2nd read) ***** humorous paranormal steampunk 7/24/14
  67. Heartless by Gail Carriger (2nd read) ***** humorous paranormal steampunk 7/26/14
  68. Timeless by Gail Carriger (2nd read) ***** humorous paranormal steampunk 7/29/14
  69. Dead Man’s Murder (4 novellas) by Agatha Christie **** mystery 8/3/14
  70. Third Girl by Agatha Christie ****mystery 8/4/14
  71. If Catfish Had Nine Lives by Paige Shelton **** 8/8/14
  72. The Edge of the Woods by Ceinwen Langely **** paranormal fairytale 8/16/14
  73. Red blazer girls by Michael w Biel.  *** YA mystery 8/27/14
  74. Plain But Wholesome: Foodways of the Mormon Pioneers by  *** non-fiction 8/31/14
  75. The Lewis Man by Peter May **** crime/mystery (Scottish author) 9/9/14
  76. A Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodward ***** non-fiction 9/13/14
  77. The White Magic Five &Dime by Steve Hockensmith ***** cozy mystery 9/19/14/
  78. Popular by Maya Van Wagenen **** memoir 9/20/14
  79. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper *** YA paranormal, witches 9/25/ 14
  80. Retronaut by Chris Wild **** non-fiction, 9/27/14
  81. Vault of Dreamers by Caragh O’Brien **** YA dystopia 9/29/14
  82. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie *** YA, Realistic 10/1/14
  83. Winterspell by Claire Legrand **** new adult fantasy/steampunk 10/5/14
  84. Strange Angel: The Otherworldy Life Of Rocket Scientist John Whiteside Parsons by George Pendie **** non-fiction, biography. 10/13/14
  85. Arches and Canyonlands in Pictures. ***** non-fiction, travel souvenir book. 10/18/14
  86. The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place **** YA/MG mystery 10/23/14
  87. Sweet Unrest by Lisa Maxwell *** YA paranormal romance- ghosts, voodoo 10/29/14
  88. The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah ****mystery in style of A.Christie 11/1/14
  89. Harriet, The Spy by Louise Fitzhugh ***** MG feminist realistic 11/2/14
  90. The Cure For Dreaming by Cat Winters ***** easy YA feminist historical paranormal 11/4/14
  91. The Penguin Book of Witches ed by Katherine How **** history, non-fiction 11/8/14
  92. A Corpse For Yew by Jim and Julie Levine *** cozy mystery 11/10/14
  93. The DaVinci Code by Dan Brown **** thriller 11/16/14 (2nd reading)
  94. Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger ***** YA steampunk 11/22/14
  95. Deadly Secrets by Terry Odell ***** cozy mystery 11/27/14
  96. The Inventor’s Secret by Andrea Cremer *** YA steampunk 11/28/14
  97. The 3 Investigators: The Mystery of the Haunted Mirror by MV Carey *****MG mystery 11/29/14
  98. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch *****YA fantasy 12/1/14
  99. Ramona The Brave by Beverly Cleary *****MG realistic, humor 12/3/14
  100. Ramona And Her Father by Beverly Cleary *****MG realistic, humor 12/3/14
  101. Ramona And Her Mother by Beverly Cleary *****MG realistic, humor 12/3/14
  102. Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary *****MG realistic, humor 12/4/14
  103. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz **** mystery 12/8/14
  104. “The Curious Case of the Copper Corpse” by Alan Bradley *** mystery 12/10/14
  105. “The Three Monarchs” by Anthony Horowitz ***** mystery 12/11/14
  106. Maple Mayhem by Jessie Crocket *** cozy 12/13/14
  107. Moriarty by Anthony Horowitz *** mystery 12/18/14
  108. The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Stanford **** bio (of Dickens) 12/20/14
  109. Home For Christmas by Jan Brett. Children’s ***** 12/21/14
  110. The Secret Language of Color ***** non-fiction 12/30/14

At this point, I spent way too much time playing on pottermore. :)

Manuscripts read in 2014:

  1. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 6/7/14
  2. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 6/19/14
  3. The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay 7/29/14

Books rejected in 2014:

  1. Copernicus Legacy: Forbidden Stone by Tony Abbott Too many characters, too stereotyped.  They all felt fake.  Plus, the book was condescending, even for MG.  Zilpha Keatley Snyder always managed to respect her audience, why can’t current MG writers do that?  Ugh.  about 3 chapters. 2/22/14.
  2. Deadly Magic by Elisabeth Crabtree.   so dumb.  sometime in Feb. 
  3. Cress by Marissa Meyer about 100 pages.  I’ve grown to hate all the characters but Cinder.  Cress is an idiot.  I cannot read books wherein the protagonist is an idiot.  3/1/14
  4. Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond.  For 50 pages he’s done nothing but repeat himself.  He also completely ignores the fact that isolated groups of people who may have discouraged differences, creativity, and/or innovation were less likely to progress than those living in areas with more trade and/or contact with different groups of people.  3/17/14
  5. The Atlantis Gene by AG Riddle.  200 pages and the author just keeps killing any character with whom the reader feels empathy.  The 2 remaining protagonists are idiots.  Plus, the whole book so far is like reading an Old Spice commercial with ADHD; all we do is bounce from one scene to another.  gag!  Glad I got it on a 99¢ sale instead of wasting even more money on it.  3/17/14.
  6. We Have Always Lived At The Castle by Shirley Jackson.  It’s just so filled with hatred.  I’ve tried to get past the first 30 pages for days, and I can’t.  6/25/14
  7. Thornyhold by Mary Stewart. 1/3 way into the book and NOTHING has happened except the story is TOLD, not SHOWN, of how the protagonist with the weirdest spelling of “Jill” I’ve ever seen is a poor-me little victim-mentality with zero ambition and even less personality.  This is NOT the Mary Stewart I know. 8/6/14.
  8. UnEnchanted by Chanda Hahn. 16 pages of total crap.  Author needs proofreader, and switches back and forth three times over whether the protagonist is going on a completely unexplained field trip to a bakery or a candy factory.  Horrid.  8/7/14
  9. The Italian Secretary by   Caleb Carr    6 chapters in and it’s STILL all exposition.  Plus, author has Holmes believing in ghosts, which does not fit with his character type at all.  8/11/14
  10. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.  Vulgar.  He writes the way 9th grade boys talk. 8/16/14
  11. The Bones of Paris by Laurie King.  I read about 12 chapters, then realized the author had already given away the fate of the victim and the identity of the villain.  What’s the point of reading further in a mystery novel? 8/29/14
  12. Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan I read 248 pages before I got tired, not of Pollan, but of the anarchistic rebel born-again Protestant isolationist farmer with whom he deals for several chapters.  Sept., 2014.
  13. Atlantia by Allie Condie.  This woman has MAJOR SDT issues.  The characters are so flat.  The plot sounded great, but it’s so flat.   Bleah.  7 chapters.  I gave up on 11/6/14
  14. The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman.  This was worse than Thomas Hardy.  Every character is stuck in a hopeless and depressing life.  There is no way out.  Even in love, they are corrupted and will see no salvation.  Life is meaningless; go kill yourself.  This sort of book is why so many adults read YA fiction; adults who read to escape this kind of depression and hopelessness do not appreciate reading it.  3/4 the book. December 2, 2014.
  15. Napoleon’s Buttons.   It was okay, but not as interesting as it might have been. After 100 pages or so, I forgot about it until it was due at the library. dull.  12/15-ish/14.