September 1st, 2013

#3957: Cover art fail.

Well, I located--after much consideration--a royalty-free stock photograph that would fit for the cover of Hypnogogia fairly well, IMO. I checked out the terms of service, decided they would do, and signed up for an account.

...and promptly downloaded the wrong bleeding photograph. Only to find out that (of course) only the first download is free; subsequent downloads cost money.

Found a different, but almost as good, photograph on a different site that promised two weeks' worth of free downloads. I abandoned signing up for the account when I discovered--to my complete lack of surprise--that those "free" downloads required that I give them my credit card info. (Also because it's likely that you can't use those free downloads in a published work if you don't buy something from them.)

Look: I get that these are companies which expect to make some kind of profit on their services, and I am not begrudging them that. What I'm begrudging is the "HEY THIS IS FREE FREE FREE!" come-on that turns into "OKAY NOW PAY US!" as soon as you decide there's something you want.

I do think I can use the art I downloaded, even though it's not what I wanted; and according to the legalese the license is good for up to 10,000 copies, and if I manage to sell 10,000 copies of anything it'll be a miracle. (The number "100,000" is also in the legalese as an upper limit, but I'm not worried about that.) I still have to buy an ISBN* for the book and do a host of other legal/business fettling before I can put the book up for sale, and everything costs money, which is in perilously tight supply right now.

*sigh*

*Bet ya can't buy just one!

* * *

Speaking of the book, while showering I was thinking about one of the stories, and realized that I need to change something.

See, one of the characters (several of them, really) are military or ex-military, and in one case a character's call sign is mentioned. His surname is "Sanders" and I thought it would be cute if his call sign was "Colonel", but today I realized that actual military ranks are probably verboten in call signs and therefore Colonel Sanders (his real rank) needed a new one.

I decided it would be "KFC", which meant that he has to be a black man. The upper echelons of the military are PC; they have to be--but the upper echelons do not assign call signs, and a pilot's call sign is frequently derogatory in one way or another. A pilot earns his call sign, after all, which is why--when a friend of mine was taking flight lessons and bounced the airplane off the tarmac upon landing--his instructor said, "Your call sign is gonna be 'Bounce'."

...and so Colonel "KFC" Sanders has to be a black man. You see?

I had not assigned any particular race to the character, originally. I don't, in general, unless it's relevant to the plot or setting; simply put any of my characters could be any race and the story would be the same, except for certain very limited circumstances. (Okay, the main character in the story with the bisonoids? He's black--very black--because he comes from a world orbiting Achernar and the UV flux at his homeworld's surface is pretty intense. But his race is otherwise irrelevant to the story.)

So, Colonel Sanders can suddenly turn into a black man without me having to make any serious changes to the story; I probably have to insert a little bit here and there, and otherwise can leave everything else alone--but since I have to edit the story anyway to fix his errant call sign, it's an incremental cost at best. Otherwise I am bound and determined to leave it the hell alone from this point onward.

* * *

So, Syria, again.

Alan Caruba on the issue mentions that Obama was half an hour late to his Rose Garden announcement of his inaction.
This is a President who could not put together a coalition of nations to support his proposed action. His predecessor (“It’s all Bush’s fault”) had some forty nations on board for his attack on Iraq. Obama could not get a United Nations’ resolution. His predecessor had some sixteen UN resolutions. He has been told that Congress would have to authorize covering the cost of the action and of replacing the missiles because his administration has cut the Defense Department budget to the bone.

There’s a word to describe someone who would get himself into such a fix: JERK.

Obama will fly off to a G-20 conference where the other world leaders will no doubt treat him like the witless fool he has proved himself to be time after time. What other president would announce a surge into Afghanistan in 2011 at the same time he announces when the troops would be leaving? What other president has managed in increase Russia’s influence in the Middle East while diminishing our own?

France has offered to hold his coat while he engages the U.S. in an utterly futile military attack on Syria, but the British concluded that they wanted no part of it. The whole of the NATO pact nations have made that plain as well. Obama couldn’t organize a weekend camping trip for a pack of Boy Scouts.
So Congress has to authorize Obamawar not because of the whole "division of power" thing but because of budgetary concerns?

Perhaps now Obama is beginning--barely--to understand why dissing Britain earlier in his administration was such a bad idea: "Here, this is the bloke what sent back the bust of Churchill and gave the Queen Mother an iPod wif his speeches on it? Now 'e's comin' here, hat in hand, askin' us to help him wif something? Tell 'im he can go scratch!"

More likely, Obama is sitting there, stunned: "What the hell? I thought those guys were our allies!" Because someone like Obama is incapable of admitting error or looking at his actions and seeing how they might have led to the situation he's in, it's very unlikely he'll take any kind of lesson from this other than, "Everyone is always so mean to me!"

To say nothing, of course, of the fact that attacking Syria is a bad idea ANYWAY. There's no point to it, no justification other than, "Well, Obams said we would, so we kinda have to...." Obama went off the teleprompter and said use of poison gas was a red-line issue, and since someone used gas over there, guess what?

Up until this fiasco, I honestly didn't think Obama was stupid, you know? I figure that it takes some brains to be able to rise to the highest office in the land, that all the free passes and careful non-scrutiny merely helped him get there faster and easier than otherwise. But now?

Now I'm coming to realize that all the hands up he got, the hagiographic press, the career boosts, the moneyed friends, the prestigious positions, the expensive schooling--all of it--all of it was just handed to him and all he had to do was not fuck up egregiously to end up where he is now. All he had to do was to listen to what his intellectual superiors told him, and do what they said, and now he's sitting in the Oval Office. The ultimate expression of the Peter Principle.

All he had to do was to not get caught with a dead hooker or a live boy, not get caught doing drugs, not get divorced, not drive drunk--all things 90% of Americans manage for most of their lives--and the press helped this by being completley incurious about rumors of aberrant behavior (see also "Reggie Love") and dismissing his past (see also "Choom Gang").

(The same press which was extremely interested in Bush's alcoholism, I might add, even though Bush quit alcohol long before Obama quit marajuana and cocaine.)

But the media is apparently less than impressed with Obama's latest performance.

There is no good answer to the dilemma Obama has saddled us with. If we go to war, it's a fruitless expense of money and blood; if we don't, we look weak. But of the two alternatives I think the latter is preferable, because it won't be the first time a Democrat President has made us look weak and we know that playbook fairly well. The alternative is waging war to save face, and that is never a good idea--because how do you determine when you've done enough? How far does a war have to be prosecuted to make it look as if Obama means what he says and says what he means, when the opposite is true?

We are at this impasse because Obama flapped his stupid gums on a topic about which he knew nothing whatsoever, assuming that everyone would give him a pass for saying something empathetic and progressive about the use of horrible weapons of war. Now, suddenly, he has to put up or shut up, and he cannot vote present even though that's always been his refuge when confronted with a tough choice. No one's going to let him off on this; our enemies are certainly not going to laugh, clap him on the shoulder, and say, "Yeah, you can just take a mulligan on that one, old boy."

This isn't an f-ing game of golf.

I've seen references to "the Affirmative Action President" and--until now--thought that was a bit much, for the same reasons I resisted the notion that Obama was actually stupid. But strangely like the story about the ghetto kid failing college we're seeing a highly similar dynamic playing out in the Oval Office.

Obama is only doing as well as he is because he's hired people who are much smarter than he is to advise him. That's why he can't speak off-the-cuff, that's why he needs a teleprompter at press conferences, that's why everything he does has to be scripted and controlled. And when it's not, it's a disaster. Especially when he says something the press cannot carefully ignore.

* * *

Tomorrow is the socialist holiday, Labor Day. Thrillsville.