"This country, which has given to the world the example of physical liberty, owes to it that of moral emancipation also. For as yet, it is but nominal with us. The inquisition of public opinion overwhelms in practice the freedom asserted by the laws in theory." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1821.
I am not one to cry for the elder, better days. I believe in that depths of my soul that we, as a nation, a planet and a species, have continually made strides in the direction of maturity. There is no doubt, despite those who oppose anything which violates their own interest, that we have made great strides towards the ideals which Jefferson and Adams discussed at great length in their letters as they evaluated the results of their labors.
Yet this morning all I can think of is how well the quoted statement applies to the news from Maine.
"The inquisition of public opinion overwhelms in practice the freedom asserted by the laws in theory."
This very concept that the rights of a minority are subject to the whim of public opinion is diametrically opposed to the intent, words and public statements of the men who this country so reveres as the Founding Fathers.
Men who fought a war with arguably the most powerful military entity on the planet in order to avoid the tyranny of the majority would not in any way approve of what has happened in Maine, or what happened in California.
After all, do you think that the Stamp Act was unpopular with the great majority of the British Empire? Of course not. To them, it was right that the colonies should bear the expense of the recent war with France that, in the MAJORITY opinion, was fought on behalf of those colonies.
The fathers of this country risked death not to establish majority rule, but to oppose it. They put the checks and balances in our constitution to prevent exactly the kind of thing that is now happening. It has ever been the role of the courts to protect the rights of the minority. To have the efforts of those courts subject to the "whim of public opinion" is both shameful and harmful to the very cause of Freedom.
"The Gothic idea that we were to look backwards instead of forwards for the improvement of the human mind, and to recur to the annals of our ancestors for what is most perfect in government, in religion and in learning, is worthy of those bigots in religion and government by whom it has been recommended, and whose purposes it would answer. But it is not an idea which this country will endure." --Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, 1800.
Unfortunately, it does endure. It is the burden of those who have embraced reason over fear and superstition to persist in trying to achieve those ideals set down by our founders more than 200 years ago.
The cause of Marriage Equality has suffered another setback. Yet the odds for the eventual triumph of Freedom in this cause are still better than those faced by the handful of brave souls who sacrificed in pursuit of the establishment of an independent nation on these shores.
We must continue to fight, and we must continue to answer fear with reason, hatred with love, and superstition and loathing with common sense and forgiveness.
I hang my head at the results from Maine and wish they had been otherwise. Our citizens have proven that they yet have growth to achieve if they wish to truly reach the heights this nation once aspired to.
Yet, we must continue. "[Let us] go on in doing with [the] pen what in other times was done with the sword, [and] show that reformation is more practicable by operating on the mind than on the body of man." --Thomas Jefferson to Thomas Paine, 1792
Wow, and I thought Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest?
On this last Sunday in August, I have three exciting things happening. My first solo release from Phaze in over a year was made available late last night, although the official release date is tomorrow. <span style="font-style:italic;">En Garde</span> is the story about a man who thinks he is past being surprised by life and the woman that proves him wrong. It isn't my longest work, but the price reflects that and I have to say that Kelly is one of my favorite characters ever.
Its an intriguing and erotic adventure on many levels and I am very proud that this story is kicking off the Phaze Scores line of sports-related erotica. <span style="font-style:italic;">En Garde</span> is available now at <a href="http://www.king-cart.com/Phaze/product=En+Garde/exact_match=exact">Phaze.com </a>for the low price of two dollars. I promise you'll will it far more than a couple of dirty, crinkled bucks in your pocket.
Today is also the day we are proud to announce the next step in the evolution of <a href="http://eroticanthology.blogspot.com/">Coming Together</a> and erotic altruism with the launch of <span style="font-style:italic;">Coming Together: Neat</span>. This single story line will shocase works between 10K and 50K, give authors who aren't comfortable writing short stories a way to contribute and also is CT's first venture into Micro-lending, a type of program that I personally believe will help maximize the impact of Coming Together. Let's face it, $50 doesn't mean much to the Red Cross. But in Afghanistan, it is an annual income for some people. Follow the link to the Coming Together blog for more details!
And last but certainly not least, Alessia and I are headed to the car to drive a few hours so that I can watch Park View Little League, where I coached and my son plays, take on Chinese Taipei for the championship of the world. There are a lot of endeavors in this country where we call it a world title and yet all the participants are from the US. This is NOT one of them. These kids, some of whom I've known since they were five or six years old, have a chance to accomplish something truly special. I have to go, I just have to. Once in a lifetime opportunity and all that, even though most of them won't know me unless I tell them whose Dad I am. And Alessia is coming along because she thinks its cute how excited I am about this. I love that she is willing to skip an entire day of productivity so that I can scream "P-V-L-L!" for a couple hours.
First things first. I didn't coin that, Jon Stewart did. If you aren't watching him...well, then this column will probably piss you off.
See, I remain utterly amazed at the ability of certain individuals and *cough* "news" networks to complete ignore the facts in order to pursue the spreading of misinformation. The saddest thing? The reason they are able to continue doing it is because, compared to some of their target audience, these programs sound intelligent.
We are now almost a year removed from the point where the Republicans lost the election, when they named Sarah Palin their candidate for Vice-President. And in that year, what has happened is that the same people who trumpeted her selection have gone out of their way to make the craziest and most shockingly ill-informed of her comments look....well, moderate.
We've had the Tea-baggers, a movement so absolutely ridiculous and out-of-touch with the current state of the country that even after they became aware that the name of their movement had certain...other....meanings, they stuck with it. I mean, these are people who are so wacky that they are equating 4% bumps in tax rates to people who own the companies that pay them minimum wage with a time when a foreign power with an honest-to-god King was the ruler of 13 colonies. The Boston Tea Party was a protest against the Stamp Act of 1765, which was basically a way to make Americans pay for the expenses of British Troops stationed here. 4% tax hike on your boss vs. being made to pay the expenses of the troops occupying your soil to keep you under control. Yes, I see how that equates. *shakes head in disbelief*
We have the people that say Obama is stupid (um, Magna Cum Laude at Havard?) We have the ones that still think he is a muslim (like it should make any difference anyway.) We have the ones that say he is weak and unwilling to stand up to the foes of America (you know, like Somali pirates.)
We have the ones that actually think a forgery of a Kenyan Birth certificate from a time when the city named wasn't in Kenya somehow trumps the one from Hawaii and even try to explain how birth announcements were "planted" in Hawaii papers... because after all, everybody back in 1961 just knew we would have a black President from Hawaii. I mean, of all the crackpot conspiracy theories I have ever heard... even the Holocaust deniers are in awe of the ability of Birthers to ignore facts.
And now we have that Palin woman again, throwing out words about "death boards" that are rabidly echoed by the Glenn Becks of the world.
People, please! Back away from the kkkool aid and have some Kenyan coffee. The man isn't a socialist (please READ the definition before using that word!) He is not the anti-christ. He isn't even that much of a liberal! He is a politician. An intelligent one for once, who is actually pissing off some of us on the far left (yes, by their definition I am a member)because he is making too many compromises on health care, prosecuting those who tortured and the repeal of DOMA.
So quit with the panic already. Get a dictionary and read the definitions of socialism and tyranny. And while you are at it, look up xenophobia. Then look in the mirror and slap yourself in the face. I hope you are better than this. I really do.
I've noticed a small trend in the publishing world. A rather dismaying one and one that I feel may be linked to the plethora of new places where you can publish, including but not limited to websites, CafePress, Lulu and of course the growing industry of e-book publishing.
For better or worse, there is a small subset of authors who are redefining (in their minds, anyway) the role of editor. Basically, the change that they are assuming can be summed up in one sentence.
The editor is there to catch and fix my mistakes.
On the surface, this does not sound bad. It actually sounds exactly correct. The problem is that the emphasis has changed. Most authors, whether born in 1950 or 1980 or at any other time, do feel that an editor's job is to catch mistakes. They are not wrong. The problem is this... a small subset of authors out there feel that it is the editors job to catch all the mistakes.
In other words, they don't don't worry about self-editing first. They just throw it out there and trust that someone else will check and double check. Some of this I blame on a lack of education, not in traditional schooling but in the craft of writing. Some of it I blame on the pressures of a growth market; where companies who are struggling to stay on the crest of a wave that will eventually break on the beach of maturity buy things to keep other companies from buying them first. And some of it I blame on the authors themselves, who have fallen prey to a cultural expectation that anything wrong must be able to be blamed on someone else.
It's sad really. And completely beyond my understanding. I can not personally conceive of turning in a work that was as rife with problems as some of things not only out there being edited, but even already published.
It has to stop somewhere. So, a word of warning. If I am your editor and you write about King George receiving a telegram of anger concerning the Boston Tea Party? Or if your African-American hero from the south side of Chicago constantly proclaims things to be "bloody annoying" and no one finds it strange? Or if your baseball player hits eighty home runs in 2004 and never has to deal with a steroid accusation and never gets interrupted at dinner for an autograph request and can easily hide that he is actually an alien from Arcturus Prime complete with a tail that somehow never got noticed by teammates or the ESPN reporters in the locker room?
Expect me to call you on it.
You can use Google as easily as I. You can look up when the telegraph was invented, or the year Germany invaded Poland. And you know that a kid from Chicago will use the F word and a thinly disguised Mr. Darby clone in Victorian England will not.
As your editor, I am there to help you change there into their or point out that the brown sweater was red three pages ago. I have no problem with things like that. We all lose track of things over the course of months writing a book. I'm not perfect. I screw up,too. All the time actually. Both as an author and as an editor. But even so...
As an editor,it is not my job to do your homework. It is not my job to do your basics. It is my job to tweak and prod and try to help you be the best you can possibly be. I am not supposed to build the engine. Just tune it up. That's why I get one-tenth the royalty percentage you do. Because you are supposed to have already done the big job. I'm supposed to help with the details... and maybe keep you off Twitter's #romfail.
I've always questioned the value of them... if you need an arbitrary "new year" to give you the impetus, what are the odds you'll pursue the new goals beyond the first 30 days or so... still...
1) Edit 25 pages a day, 5 days a week (all work and no play, blah blah blah)
2) Put myself back into a physical state where I am happy to take my shirt off in front of a woman.
3) Rise a minimum of four ranks in my new endeavor, Taekwondo.
4) Finish at least one solo novel every six months. So, that's two for the year. Notice I said FINISH. Which means my current WIP's count for this.
5) Spend as much time as possible in the presence of my children.
Sure, the last one is a gimme. I mean, that would be a priority no matter what. And with number 3 I am giving myself room for travel complications and/or an illness or something. But goals need to be achievable while still requiring you to stretch a bit, right?
Before Mandy Long and Bruce Winfield began their globetrotting stewardship of the most unique retail establishment in Philadelphia, there was a woman who built the foundation for Erotique. Built it with her will and her sense of adventure. A woman who was ahead of her time in many ways.
Vivian Long's life was full of triumphs and tragedies. As we celebrate the beginning of a new era in America, come back with us and experience the beginning of the Erotique era for the Long family.
On a historic day in Washington D.C., Vivian Long and Eduardo Rojas Aguliar make some history of their own. And like this country, their lives will never be the same.
Walking along 17th Street with his mind firmly in the past and oblivious to the historic present, Eduardo Rojas collided with his future. Not metaphorically, but quite literally.
Both his stack of books and the woman in the yellow dress tumbled to the ground.
“¡Madre de Dios! My apologies, señorita. I did not see…”
His breath caught, his words drifted into a stammer as the woman turned and he saw her eyes for the first time. Though he considered himself a romantic, Eduardo had never believed in the concept of love at first sight until that moment.
She settled on her elbows, smiling at the slightly open-mouthed stare of her unwitting attacker. Though he had seemed quite determined to keep moving before their impact, he was currently motionless. Torn between wanting to see how long he would stay that way and a desire to get back on her feet, she decided to flip the switch on his internal circuit breaker.
“Usually, it would be considered polite to help a lady up—especially when you’re the one who just sent her sprawling.” The harsh content of the words was belied by their light-hearted delivery. Vivian Long was far less upset about being knocked down than she was interested in the man who had done so. He wore a brown suit that was the height of fashion…decades ago. The collection of books he had been carrying was now split between the pavement and a precarious perch in his crooked elbow, save the one in her lap. She lifted it and glanced at the spine while her handsome assailant stammered another apology, letting the rest of his armload fall in his haste to offer her a hand.
“I am very sorry, señorita. I was trying to make my way through this crowd as quickly and as gently as possible, and I somehow did not notice you, though how that was possible, I truly do not know.” Eduardo blushed as he realized what he had just said. It was, however, exactly what he was thinking. Her creamy skin stood out in a sea of predominantly darker tones. Brown hair in braids, deep eyes of hazel that had trapped him momentarily, and a figure that filled out her summery dress in ways that he had best not consider if he wanted to avoid further embarrassment.
“Perhaps your mind was in the Andes of the 1500s instead of Washington in August of 1963.” Vivian took the proffered hand, pulled herself up, then placed the book, Marriage and Courting Rituals among Classes in Incan Society and Their Effect on Warfare and Politics, in the hand she released after gaining her feet. She retrieved her sign and helped him gather the other scattered volumes, which carried similarly scholarly titles in both English and Spanish. “Do you work at the Smithsonian?”
“No, I am merely a student. I did several years in the field after obtaining my master’s degree in Chile and am now working on my doctorate through an exchange program at Georgetown College. I apologize again for my carelessness and would…”
His words were drowned out as the surrounding crowd cheered the comments from the current speaker. The noise quickly died down as the people once again began to concentrate on the speech.
Vivian smiled again as she pieced together what she thought he had said. “I’m sorry, are you asking me on a date? I don’t even know your name!” She struggled to keep a straight face as the man’s handsome features contorted in shame, and he immediately began a new apology.
“No, no. I simply meant that I felt I should make amends and would like to….”
“Hush.” Vivian placed a finger on his lips. A visible shiver passed through him at her touch, but he did not withdraw. “Have you a specific meeting that you were hurrying to reach?” She lifted her finger slightly to allow his reply, and his tongue darted, subconsciously sampling the site of her touch. Vivian felt the imaginary rasp of it against a distant part of her body.
“Well, no. I simply had not anticipated the immensity of this event and…”
With the heat of his breath brushing her fingertip, she realized he was not the only one stunned by an inexplicably powerful connection. In that moment, it became more necessity than amusement to maintain contact.
Once again, Vivian placed the finger on his lips. “Then you can make amends by standing with me and listening to the next speaker. Witness some history as it happens instead of reading about it hundreds of years later. Then you can take me for that cup of coffee, señor…” Her voice trailed off in an interrogatory tone.
“Rojas. Eduardo Rojas Aguilar.”
“What a mouthful! Eddie, it is. Please, call me Vivian. Now, stand here and listen with me. Then you can buy me that drink, and I’ll consider your debt repaid. Deal?”
Eduardo started to correct her undignified shortening of his name, but thought better of it. There would be time for that later, he realized, still shocked both at his own forwardness and that he had put himself in a situation where it could come into play. He decided that it would be a more interesting evening than he had expected, although he still had reading to do. Hearing the name of the next speaker and realizing it was familiar from the newspaper, he decided that he would indeed listen. Afterward, the companionship promised to be, at the very least, intellectually stimulating.
Vivian watched the conflict play across Eddie’s face before he quieted. She thought she recognized it, both from her own experiences and those of acquaintances. She also noticed the quiet intensity that took over as he glanced down at her sign, then turned his attention toward the stage erected on the monument steps. He might not be up to speed on current events, but he knew something of the struggle, she realized. While his clothes were out of date, there was a fierce intelligence in those eyes. She was very interested to hear his reaction to the speech, which, by all accounts, would be similar to one she’d heard the speaker deliver months ago.
“Very well, miss…Vivian,” he finished, looking at her and stammering over her given name as if it was an inappropriately glimpsed undergarment. Since she’d not supplied her surname, he had no choice but to use the more personal form of address. There was something titillating about the man’s discomfiture, she realized. He made her feel like a forbidden fruit, ripe and juicy and begging to be…
“I take it this is a cause about which you are passionate?”
Vivian cocked an eyebrow, causing him to blush at his use of a word with such sexual overtones.
“I mean,” Eduardo continued, “with which you are intimate?”
For those of you who have been craving more Bruce and Mandy...
Well, you'll have to keep re-reading ArtiFactual. We will return to those two beloved characters, but their next adventure is still in the plotting phaze. *wink*
Throughout this election season we have seen wild accusations, strong feelings and deceitful advertising on many issues. Nationally, this is focused on the Presidential race, but here in California we are seeing the same kind of bitter focus on a piece of legislation that, for a large portion of our population, is equally important.
I am among those with strong feelings about the proposal to amend the state constitution to define legal marriage as being between a man and a woman. Simply put, I must tell you that I am categorically against any law which denies any citizen their civil rights.
The primary opposition to that view is being based in the churches. It’s predictable. It is also, from my point of view, incredibly sad.
Approximately two thousand years ago, a transformational figure emerged from a small town called Nazareth. This man’s teachings and morality were so revolutionary that they have literally transformed the globe. He was an incredible pioneer… not in the area of religion, although that certainly applies. But in civil rights.
Let’s look at the man, his actions and his teaching. I am restraining this discussion to the actual words and deeds of the man Jesus. I am not, for the purposes of this piece, interested in the epistles of his followers. Also, I am taking the Gospels at face value, ignoring the questions about the literal truth of the document and focusing on the man they describe.
Jesus of Nazareth was the one of the first major western figures to propose such revolutionary concepts as the separation of church and state, pacifism in the face of persecution and a commitment to care for the poor, sick and disabled. But the leadership position I wish to emphasize here is his belief in equality.
If you examine the teachings and words of Jesus, you find a dramatic difference between him and his contemporaries. One that is less obvious to us because of the very changes his teachings helped bring about.
In that time, it was an accepted truth that a king was in all ways superior to his subjects, that only a priest could speak to God and that people who were different were inferior. Women were chattel. Children were an expendable commodity. Slavery was common. Those who worked in certain professions were not only misguided, but evil and sub-human.
Jesus rejected all of the above. He recruited his disciples from the ranks of fishermen. Laborers, whose lack of formal education was appalling to the men who sat in the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem. He dared to suggest that a common man was as valuable as a king or priest. He not only suffered the attentions of children, he adored them. He sought out the companionship of women, not as sexual vessels, but as his intellectual equal. He healed lepers, who were considered to have been afflicted by God for their sins. He comforted the insane, who were considered to be possessed by demons.
And perhaps most shocking of all, he preached that Samaritans and Gentiles of all sorts, even Romans, were worthy of respect. Just as were such “scum” as tax collectors and prostitutes.
When he would not desist from these teachings, he was considered so incredibly dangerous that he was put to death. Not by the civil authorities. According to most accounts, they did everything they could to avoid condemning him. He was condemned by the religious establishment of his own country. By those viewed by the masses he preached to as closest to God. By the men who should most have embraced his message, were they truly concerned with souls instead of shekels.
Now, those who occupy the same place in the consciousness of California are arguing that a group of God’s children are somehow less deserving of civil rights. That granting these civil rights, despite not changing a single thing about their own lives, will somehow reduce the value of marriage. They are arguing that a “true believer” has no choice but to vote yes on Proposition Eight.
In doing so, they take a direct stand against the ideals of Jesus of Nazareth. They betray the very concepts this man died a horrible death to defend. They deny his example. Note that I am not talking about sin. I am talking about the legal principles that Jesus pioneered.
Peter denied his Lord three times. These people prepare to follow the example of Peter on November fourth. Peter’s guilt, by all accounts, followed him for the rest of his days and even influenced the manner of his death.
There is no doubt in my mind that if Jesus of Nazareth were to cast a ballot this November, he would vote against this measure to disenfranchise a portion of the masses. Every position of his ministry expresses this. He died rather than reject his convictions.
If you truly honor this man, how can you betray the principles of his life?
Ignore your personal Sanhedrin. Vote no on Proposition Eight.
Seven years since the world stopped moving and stared at their televisions in shock and tears. Seven years since those horrible images and unimaginable bravery. Seven years since the United States got a better understanding of how people in Europe and Israel have felt for so very long.
To this day, I remain in awe of the way that the Police and Fire Departments of New York performed in the face of terror. Of how those brave individuals went up those stairs while everyone else was running down. Of the men and women who rushed to help at the Pentagon. Of the passengers and flight attendants of Flight 93 who realized what was happening and chose to go down fighting, ordinary people without training or a duty to perform, who chose death rather than allow anyone else to be hurt.
To this day, simply murmuring "Let's Roll" brings a flush of emotion to my face and forces me to choke down both tears and overwhelming pride in my fellow Americans.
I will not politicize this day, although the part of me that feels we have strayed from a path that would prevent another attack wants me to do so. But there are no men and women in service to this nation who do not want to prevent that horror from reoccurring. That we may differ on how to achieve that goal is very normal, and let's face it, very American.
But we should also realize that September 11 is not a day when only America grieves. It was called the World Trading Center for a good reason. Nationals of over 90 countries died that day. The attack may have been on America, but it impacted the entire world.
Over 200,000 Germans marched in support of both the United States and all who lost citizens and friends; wives, husbands and children. Le Monde's headline read "We Are All Americans."
Today is not a day about the red stripes in our flag, but about the red blood shed from all over the world. Yes, it is also right and proper that we honor our own and also that we celebrate the spirit of our nation.
Let us never forget any of the victims, regardless of their citizenship. September 11, 2001 was a horrible day for all of the human race.
My thoughts and prayers are with all of us who were hurt that day and most especially with the families and friends of all those whose lives ended that day, whether doing their duty or just their job.