Supply chain crunch leads to spam shortages

New York, NY, Star-Gazer News Service, October 25, 2021–As warnings about new shortages in grocery store items and potential supply problems in publishing float through Wall Street’s top-floor corner offices, analysts are noticing scattered shortages in spam, sources said here today.

While most prominent bloggers and e-mail newsletter outlet managers say spam still seems to be flowing freely throughout the Internet, small-scale operations believe spammers have targeted their operations 20% less than last year. Spam, some say, has become thinner, smaller, and less rich.

Spam concept illustration. hacking or advertising emails on computer. |  CanStockAccording to Maverick Jones, chairman and CEO of the All American Phishing and Spamming Association, “Higher production costs and the reduced availability of spurious content have led many practitioners to reduce the size and quality of their materials rather like candy bar companies that reduced the size of their products rather than raising prices.”

Wall Street analyst Algernon Moncrieff said that while readers detest spam and phishing, the practices are indicative of an economy’s health. “Deteriorating spam of reduced quality is a warning sign that the federal government is trying to micromanange private industry in the name of so-called ‘common good’ policies.”

As of press time, both major parties were blaming each other for the spam boondoggle while splinter parties said the whole problem was yet another “horror caused by Facebook.”

Blog readers such as Gwendolen Fairfax believe posts aren’t as much fun as they used to be without the sport of dodging spam. Dr Chasuble believes aggressive spam provides a learning experience for young adults. Cecily Cardew thinks the “creative lights have gone out all over the multiverse.”

Informed sources warn that hoarding spam will only lead to increased shortages and more intense supply chain disruptions from fake Viagra to ineffective vitamin supplements.

“Old people will be first to suffer,” said Jones, “followed by Congressmen and women.”

Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

The Universal Soldier

He is five feet two, and he’s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He is all of thirty-one, and he’s only seventeen
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years
— Buffy Sainte Marie

Donovan sang the song well, probably had the largest audience for it, but I liked Buffy’s version of “The Universal Soldier” better. The Public Affairs Office (PAO) onboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61) played the Donovan version while on station off the coast of Vietnam during that waste of time, money, and life war. We loved the irony of that song aboard a warship.

The folk singers–Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Eric Bogle–have always told the truth straight about war and other injustices. We play their songs and sometimes we protest the war of the day, but I think we worship the Universal Soldier because s/he makes damn sure we are always fighting somewhere and extolling the patriotism and glory of it and keeping that defense budget high enough to create the expensive toys of war that war profitable and necessary for the economy to such a large extent that weall have blood on our hands.

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your mask”

–Bob Dylan

In a few days, a lot of folks will Blog4Peace like children going up against monsters with sticks and posters and songs. Will these bloggers defeat the military industrial establishment. I doubt it. Will they raise our consciouness and or belief that some day, somewhere we will find better ways of conflict resolution that break the chains typing us to the universal soldier. Yes. Meanwhile, how many lifetimes will it take until we know that too many people have died, until we seriously look around and ask where have all the flowers gone and why are the graveyards full to overflowing.

Did they Beat the drum slowly, did the play the pipes lowly?
Did the rifles fir o’er you as they lowered you down?
Did the bugles sound The Last Post in chorus?
Did the pipes play the Flowers of the Forest?

–Eric Bogle

Those who march away, at once tin soldiers (canon fodder) and the best and the brightest (flowers of the forest) pay with their lives (and more) for the country’s love of the universal soldier. When it comes to fixing the problem, Presidents promise while allowing the cycle of war to turn again and again. They’re powerless, aren’t they? Our love of battle is our universal need even though it’s fool’s gold.

–Malcolm

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Drop-Dead Gorgeous and other hideous word combinations

Drop Dead Gorgeous poster.jpgHow many times a year do you read the words “drop dead gorgeous” in a novel or short story? If the answer is zero, then I’m jealous. I just stumbled across the cliché again today in a book written by a writer who probably makes at least $100000000000000 a year and it pissed me off. For that kind of money he can do better than trotting out a lame cliche to describe (usually) a beauiful woman. Let’s stipulate here that the author wasn’t talking about the 1999 dark comedy. I wish he had been.

We can’t blame the film for the cliché. It showed up in the 1930s as a way of ramping up what you were talking about. The phrase is, then, considered an “intensifier.” It’s almost as bad as saying “the shrimp salad was to die for” (and not because the shrimp had gone bad, though in real life, that’s probably the case).

Frankly–and I know this is unsolicited advice–if you’re the kind of person whose blood pressure is so high that you’re likely to drop dead when you see a stunning woman/car/house/horse, then you need to see a doctor or start buying Lisinopril BP meds on the street.

So, to suggest a standard, when a phrase show up every which way but loose, then if you’re a writer, don’t use it. Or if you want other people you converse with to respect you in the morning, don’t use it. Don’t look at something bad and say “what goes around comes around.” Or tell a factory fresh widow “time heals all wounds” or “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Or tell people your spouse is “ugly as sin” or that your grandmother is “as old as the hills.”

My mother used to tell me that using profanity was a sign of a weak vocabulary or a weak mind. Actually, profanity is more fun than clichés, more versatile, perhaps, though it you start describing everyone you meet as “shit for brains,” you have gone too far. In fact, you’re out in left field.

Let’s just sum up this essay by saying that if, at the end of the day, you find yourself speaking/writing overused words, then you need to start thinking outside the box and get some fresh words that give you more bang for the buck.

Malcolm

Special Investigative Reporter by [Malcolm R. Campbell]Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” a novel in which figures of speech are taken literally and clichés are seen as a way of life. Frankly, I hope you’ll laugh your ass off. Oops, I should have just said it’s drop-dead funny.

Written ten years ago and still getting visitors

When I posted Heave Out and Trice Up in 2010, I thought it would get five or ten readers and then fade away. Apparently, it’s never going away, often getting more readers that current posts. I don’t know if today’s aircaft carriers and other ships still broadcast via the public address system (1MC) the ringing of the ship’s bell and a string of daily events like heave out and trice up. When I reported aboard the USS Ranger (CVA-61) for duty in 1968, I had no idea what I was supposed to do with heave out and trice up.

What are the dimensions of navy ship bunks? - QuoraBasically, it meant wake up and secure your hammock of rack (bunk). Mama taught us to make our beds every morning. We forgot this wisdom when we went away to college. Suffice it to say, when you join the military, you start doing it again.

Our berthing areas and racks looked like those in this photo. As you can see, there’s not a lot of room. I don’t even want to know what the accommodations on a submarine looked like.

Every part of the navy has its own set of slang and technical phrases. On a carrier, it wasn’t possible to know all of it, for when the air wing was aboard, the ship carried about 5,000 people in multile disciplines and divisions. Needless to say, the most humorous and profane slang never got broadcast over the 1MC, like “bent shitcan” (disreputable sailor) and “buddy fucker” (a sailor who can’t be trusted because s/he sells out his/her friends.

Most professions have their inscrutable slang and jargon, but I suspect the military takes the cake with a slew of words that has evolved over the years, with special categories for each war. The Vietman war (Disneyland Far East) had its own collection of especially graphic stuff, most of it incomprehensible to those of us aboard the big ships. It’s amazing how quickly a new recruit starts using a vocabulary that mama don’t allow.

Malcolm

The slang alone would probably ban this book from most school systems.

At Sea by [Malcolm R. Campbell]Na

Getting adopted by a cat

Six or eight months ago, possibly more, some sh_thead dumped a heathy male cat off near our house. He was in such good physical shape, we thought he must be a lost pet. We asked neighbors on and off facebook if they knew of the black and white shorthair cat that was missing. None did. The weather was cold then, so we set him up with upside down box with a door in it, filled it with old towels, wrapped plastic around it to keep the wind out, and placed a microwavable heating sack in their every night to keep him warm. We gave him plenty of food and water.

Waiting to go outside.

We finally took him to the vet and heard that his age was 3-8, got him a rabies shot, and a feline leukemia test because we had known for sometime he would end up in the house and we didn’t need that disease transmitted to either of our two 18-year-old cats. The test cam back negative. Okay, so now he’s an indoor-outdoor cat, in at night and out during the day. His name is Robbie and he’s slowly starting to recognize it.

Here’s what we’ve learned so far:

  1. He brings fleas inside which the other cats get but that don’t seem to stay on him. We’re buying more FrontLine flea protection than usual.
  2. Robbie has to be fed first because he’s large enough to shove our other cats away from their bowls if Katy or Marlo get their food a nanosecond before he does. Marlo, our lightest weight cat stands up to Robbie when there’s food involved.
  3. Robbie has been a house cat. He knows the sound of a poptop cat food can being opened, knows where the litter box is and what it’s for, and knows that towels on the bed or the sofa are places designed for cats to sleep.
  4. Like the other two cats, he comes in the bedroom at night but knows he’s not supposed to stand on top of us while we’re asleep.
  5. Like the other two cats, he tends to fall asleep when Lesa and I are in the livingroom watching TV. He (usually) doesn’t try to get the food off our plates when we’re sitting at TV trays.
  6. If he ever sees a room he’s never been in, he wants to go in there.
  7. It’s been amusing watching a new-to-the-household cat adapting to our routines as well as the mood and habits of Katy and Marlo. Lesa and I have been together since 1980. We’ve always had one or more cats. Even so, every day brings something new. Sometimes it’s good. Sometimes it’s, well, not so good. But we soldier on with our scratches and claw marks with critters underfoot and on the furniture.

Malcolm

When people ask how I get my cat details right in the folk magic series beginning with Conjure Woman’s Cat. I say “forty years of experience.”

A second blog?

My website has a blog setting, but I’ve ignored it up to now because (as far as I can tell) the blog has to be created on the site rather than imported as I have done on my previous author sites.

Wikipedia graphic

With apparently nothing better to do this afternoon, I created a second blog on my author’s website. One thing I don’t want to do is copy posts back and forth between the two blogs. Yes, that would save time, but it seems like cheating, especially for those who read both blogs. The first post on the second blog has been written. And yet, just what the hell have I done?

Right, one blog is okay. Two blogs = lunacy. But then, I’ve never claimed to be sane except when I wrote my will and had to begin by saying that I was of sound mind. Ha. So here we are with an annoucement about the new blog. Wow. Yay. Allrighty. And yet, I think you can be sure that if I realize I can’t handle two blogs, the second blog will disappear without any fanfare. Yep, we’ll play like it never happened.

For now, the new blog exists. Will it exist tomorrow? I don’t know.

–Malcolm

T

A Glacier Park Novel

Malcolm R. Campbell has been the author of blogs on Typepad, Blogger, Writing Up, and several other sites that no longer exist. Oh, and when he’s not blogging, he writes novels like “The Sun Singer.”

Some authors are getting sloppy with their point of View, and the sad thing is, they don’t even know it

Third-Person Limited: This POV is characterized by the use of “he” or “she” and the character’s name, as in, “John hated math. He hated it immensely.” Unlike third-person omniscient, the third limited spends the entirety of the story in only one character’s perspective, sometimes as if looking over that character’s shoulder and sometimes going inside the character’s mind, and the events are filtered through that character’s perception (though less directly than first-person singular). – Jane Friedman

I write in third person restricted (limited) most of the time and tend to like novels that also use this POV. (Jane Friedman–in the link above–lists points of view, how the function, and the pros and cons of each.) I feel like I should e-mail this link to some of my favorite authors because they cheat, knowingly or unknowingly, when they write in third person restricted. I’m not sure how their editors miss it,

Fortunately–for those of us who are purists–these authors don’t include the thoughts of other characters (unless they alternate the POV chapter by chapter–which is okay). Usually it’s something small, done to keep the reader reading.

Let’s say the main character is named “Bob.” This means that if Bob doesn’t see it or hear it or learn about it from another person, readers can’t know about it.

What I see most often is something like this:

Bob closed and locked the front door to his house, fired up the fishing car he used when following bad guys, and drove down third street toward the waterfront. He didn’t see the dark figure standing in the woods across the street.

This is when I want to shout OBJECTION and hear the judge say SUSTAINED, followed by, “The reader will disregard the dark figure across the street.”

If Bob didn’t see the dark figure, s/he can’t be in the book. This is a cheap trick authors use to tip off the reader that the main character is being watched/followed.

I also see this:

Bob watched the Benton house on a dark night with a cold moon. They did normal Benton things, cooked hamburgers on their Weber grill, watched the TV news, and went to bed early. They didn’t know this was the last night of their lives.

Oh, so Bob is a psychic is he? Well, that should have been established earlier in the story. If he’s not a psychic, then this sentence can’t be in the book.

I want to shout OBJECTION, NO FOUNDATION and hear the judge say SUSTAINED, followed by, “The reader will disregard the motion that one or more of the Bentons is about to kick the bucket.”

Sure, we all know why the author did this. Even though we know, we also know that it’s unnecessary. It’s a cheap trick that’s supposed to ramp up the suspense by killing the suspense.

We need better editors.

Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of the Florida Folk Magic Series, featuring a cat, a conjure woman, and things that go bump in the night

 

 

Captain Kirk Did a Brave Thing Today

Captain Kirk, aka William Shatner, was absolutely fearless when he flew aboard a Blue Origin mission nearly 350,000 feet above the Earth’s surface. The risk wasn’t his age–the oldest guy to ride a rocket into space–but all the villains waiting for him to let his guard down.

Let’s look at what Kirk did not have:

  • Warp Drive
  • Shields
  • Phasers or photon torpedoes
  • Spock
  • Scotty who could recalibrate anything into something else

Bird of Prey

Who was out there?

  • Khan
  • The Borg
  • Dominion
  • Q
  • Xindi
  • Romulans
  • Klingons
  • Nero

Shatner would have been a sitting duck if a Klingon War Bird had suddenly de-cloaked over in the West Texas blue sky and beamed Shatner into another story. Jeff Bezos would have had a lot of explaining to do if the capsule and come down empty. Heaven help us if Congress had gotten involved.

In fact, had Shatner, Dr. Chris Boshuizen, Glen de Vries, and Audrey Powers been beamed aboard a Klingon ship, a wormhole would have opened up between the Star Trek reality and our consensus reality, allowing all kinds of stuff into our world.  The Borg Queen would have been running for Congress and Q would have been appointed Secretary of State. Needless to say, Boeing would be coming out with a new line of ships.

We were lucky today. Shatner’s presence in space could have changed everything. Perhaps it did.

Malcolm

Happy Indigenous People’s Day

Day 286- Indigenous Peoples Day (8084917906).jpgIndigenous Peoples’ Day is a holiday that celebrates and honors Native American peoples and commemorates their histories and cultures. On October 8, 2021, U.S. President Joe Biden became the first U.S. President to formally recognize the holiday, by signing a presidential proclamation declaring October 11 to be a national holiday – Wikipedia

We were taught something else in school, one version or another of the poem credited to Jean Marzolo that began:

IN 1492

In fourteen hundred ninety-two
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

He had three ships and left from Spain;
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

Later we learned that Columbus wasn’t a nice guy, and yet, we kept giving him credit for discovering a continent where there were might have been as many as ten to 50 million people living in 600 tribes.

When students asked teachers how somebody could discover a place that was already settled, the answer was that savages don’t count. The nation bought into that absurd notion for years. In fact people still believe it. Sure, they’re giving up on Columbus in favor of, say–the Vikings even though that still begs the question of the continent’s residents whenever the first Europeans showed up.

“We” are slowly trying to clean up our act, at least in terms of politically correct rhetoric. Real change is another matter that’s slower than Christmas. Celebrating this day in honor of the people who lived here when “we” showed up and took over North America by force is progress of a sort. It falls short of what we need to do.

First, I think we should be honest about what we did, what the proud words “manifest destiny” meant to the people in our way. Most of the world was conquered over and over by somebody, and trying to return boundaries to what they were 100, 1000, or 10,000 years ago sounds like a recipe for chaos.

Second, we need to look at Indigenous Peoples as they are now rather than romanticizing them as they were several hundrfed years ago. We, those of us of European extraction, are not who we were in the 1600s, 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s and neither are Native Americans. Most of us of European extraction would take offense if we were portayed as no more advanced then we were many generations ago, and yet, we keep “celebrating” Native Americans as a people purportedly stuck in the past.

Third, we need to legalize in every possible way our statements that reservations are sovereign Indian Nations that owe no allegiance to the patriarchal “Great White Father” in Washington. They are just as sovereign as Canada and Mexico and their rights extend a lot farther than being able to run gambling casinos. The reservations need the power of the states and the voting rights that go along with that power.

Doing such things will create a mess and yet that will be positive progress.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

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Action or Speculation: what drives the plot?

When you read a novel like Clive Cussler’s 2021 Marauder in the Oregon Files series, you know you’re reading unapolgetic commercial fiction designed for readers of “page-turner” novels who appreciate high-stakes danger and lots of stuff that gets blown up, shot up, or shot down. I’m a fan of the books in the Oregon Files series and enjoy them for what they are: books in which action drives the plot.

I prefer suspense thrillers when they’re written by authors such as John Hart, like The Last Child and The Hush that place more emphasis on the location and the characters but still include high-stakes action. The Hush is, perhaps, one of the darkest books I’ve ever read, filled with mystery and a pervasive feeling of menace which I find more memorable than unvarnished commercial fiction.

The Hush: A Novel by [John Hart]Lately, I’ve been disappointed in several suspense books, the names of which I won’t mention here, that had interesting and compelling mysteries that might have been memorable novels had the authors not relied so heavily on speculation. That is to say, too much time was spent with the duller aspects of police work (the paperwork and the phone calls) and long chapters in which the main characters sat around over several bottles of wine and speculated about that was behind the mysterious events and what the bad guys have done and might be planning to do next. They’ve been warned not to look into these matters, but unlike the characters in Maurauder and The Hush, this danger isn’t overt or urgent.

While these speculation-driven plots might be more realistic to most of us since they focus on everyday people who are suddenly plunged into a mess, they don’t really engage the reader’s wont to be scared or to feel the rush of “nail-biting” danger. The result isn’t very satisfactory. Now, one need not sell his/her soul and fill a novel with nothing but sex and violence on every page. The characters can face other issues such as personal trials, ethical/moral questions based on their past or on what the future migh demand, family entanglements, and other plot- and theme-driven storylines that keep the reader interested and, when all is said and done, can be viewed as a substantial and satisfying book.

Sitting around and speculating about the cruel world outside the livingroom door is seldom as compelling or intersting to readers as being engaged in the cruel world outside that door–unless the characters have other kinds of challenges to face.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell

Publisher: Thomas-Jacob Publishing

Website

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Amazon Author’s Page

Listen or read, and I promise to keep you interested unless you’re, well, dead.