Monday 25 December 2023

MAGA, Anger, and Critical Thinking

If one thing has struck me over these past years, it's that MAGA is angry. Although, the word angry seems insufficient: livid, furious, raging, foaming at the mouth, I could go on but I'm trying to express that this anger is right off the charts. And because this anger is so out of control, I believe MAGA can no longer think straight. It's not about finding "the truth" in air quotes, it's about winning any and all arguments. I'm right, and everybody else is wrong. Evidence? Schmevidence! I don't have to prove anything because I'm right, and you're just a stupid sheeple!

I'm suspicious that MAGA knows they're wrong but they've got so much invested in this, to back out now would be not just embarrassing but humiliating. The thought of losing is out of the question. And in saying that, I want to point out that any 3rd party players like Fox News, various conservative, alt-right, and conspiracy theorist commentators, plus foreign entities like the Russian government are having a field day manipulating MAGA and their anger. Yes, that's right, I said manipulating. MAGA is being made a fool of but they are oblivious to it.

Zelensky and the Yachts
A week ago, M, a social media friend who seems to be a full-blown MAGA supporter, tweets that President Zelensky of Ukraine had stolen over a billion dollars in aid money and had recently purchased two yachts. My first impression is that this story couldn't be true but I Google it, curious to see what pops up. Out of all the hits, I only see two legitimate sources, Newsweek (Nov 30/2023) and France 24 (YouTube, Dec 5/2023, 4:43), debunking this rumor. Now, I'm thinking this has to be Russian propaganda. The supposed documentation for the sale has been falsified. The yachts in question have not been sold but are still for sale.

I present my findings to my friend M and she responds, "The very fact mainstream media has investigated this tells me there's something to the story." Well, yes, there is something to it. It's Russian propaganda. And sure enough, not three days later, another article from a reputable sources describes how this social media blitz was orchestrated by the Russian government to cast doubt in the minds of the American public about support for Ukraine. And sure enough, some Republican politicians took the bait and began objecting to continuation of aid for the war effort. (How pro-Russian 'yacht' propaganda influenced US debate over Ukraine aid, BBC, Dec 20/2023)

Why did my friend tweet such a story? Why was her first inclination to believe it was one hundred percent verifiably true? M also calls Zelensky a Nazi. Where does that come from? Putin and the Russian government. But why would she believe it? First off, Zelensky is Jewish. Plus he lost his great-grandparents to the Nazis. Calling him a Nazi is illogical which is politely saying, this is just plain crazy.

M is an example of how Putin is winning the propaganda war. But this is an example of what seems to be a far bigger problem in America and perhaps all countries.

Critical Thinking
I use the definition of Eoghan Ryan from Scribber: Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment, while remaining aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and applying consistent standards when evaluating sources.

In my simple terms, it's about having a good bullsh*t detector. The more I know, the less I know. I'm not afraid to ask questions, and I'm not afraid to revise my opinion based on new evidence with a compelling argument. But I'm not going to blindly accept what anybody tells me without double checking what they're saying. Is there something wrong with proof?

My favourite example is Pizzagate. In 2016, there was a wild conspiracy theory floating around that Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were running a child sex ring out of the basement of a pizzeria in a Washington suburb. I just wrote that last sentence and I still shake my head. There is nothing, absolutely nothing in that statement which makes me think it is even remotely possible it could be true. It is pure, unadulterated bullsh*t. And yet, the Right went absolutely apesh*t over this story, even sending death threats to the pizzeria.

On December 4, 2016, Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old man from Salisbury, North Carolina, arrived at Comet Ping Pong and fired three shots from an AR-15 style rifle that struck the restaurant's walls, a desk, and a door. Welch later told police that he had planned to "self-investigate" the conspiracy theory. Welch saw himself as the potential hero of the story—a rescuer of children. He surrendered after officers surrounded the restaurant and was arrested without incident; no one was injured.

I'm sorry, but just how f*cking stupid do you have to be? What in Heaven's name is wrong with people? Where in your wildest dreams would you think any of this is true? Are these people completely incapable of distinguishing between reality and made-up, stupid, B.S. spouted by nutjobs, claiming to have inside dirt on the rich illuminati running the world? I will end with Marjorie Taylor Greene and her Jewish space lasers. (Forbes, Jan 30, 2021) While I'm sure many people question Ms. Greene's faculties or lack thereof, I do have to give her credit for the entertainment value of her utterances. John Cleese amusingly pointed out that you have to have a certain degree of smarts to understand you're dumb, and that truly stupid people have no idea they are, in fact, stupid. (YouTube, Apr 11/2014, 0:58)

Leading vs Pandering
I have contended in previous articles that the average voter knows very little about the issues, politics, and how their country and the world works. Their vote is not an informed vote but more of a gut instinct based on whatever the latest sound bite has influenced their opinion. Fox News uses this as their business model. They zero in on the fears and biases of their target audience to capture their attention and gain a loyal viewership.

Leading is finding out the electorate thinks two plus two equals five and implementing policies so everyone learns that (and benefits from) two plus two equals four. Pandering is finding out the electorate thinks two plus two equals five then repeating the incorrect statement in order to capture the interest of the people so they follow you. Hello, Fox News, t****, and the rest of the rightwing conspiracy theorists.

Where does this anger come from?
Life isn't fair. We are all not equal. The rich fly around in their private jets while the rest of us merely scrap by, trying to pay our rent and put food on the table. People have no idea how the world works, so they make sh*t up. Those illuminati bastards must be taking all the spoils for themselves and leaving the rest of us with the scraps.

I Googled "MAGA anger" and found a number of explanations.

Twitter: Tom Nichols @RadioFreeTom, Dec 2/2023, Staff writer at The Atlantic
I know it's obvious that Trump changes positions on a dime and how it's mystifying that his cult doesn't care, but picking all this apart is a fool's errand. They stick with him because he channels their diffuse anger about their lives at other Americans. But it's worse now.

After 2016, Trump voters thought they'd really made their point, pushed back change in America, and gained respect by electing a POTUS. All that blew up in their faces: They found out they're not a majority, and worse, the disdain of their fellow citizens only intensified.

2020 and J6 compounded their sense of humiliation and grievance. The know Trump is making fools of them, but they will never admit it. And Biden winning was like a national slap in the face. So now they're with him no matter what. They don't care about policy or positions.

And this time, they'll support him as he does even more desperate and hideous things. He could call for open borders and free abortions and most of them wouldn't care. All they care about is that he's promising to go after people they hate even more now than in 2016.

Talking about how he and Biden "differ on Issues X/Y/Z" is pointless and a distraction. It's all part of the "normal political horse race" narrative that is blinding people to the danger ahead.


Why Conservative Parts of the U.S. Are So Angry, Yes! Magazine, Mar 21/2022
Republican America is poorer, more violent, and less healthy than Democratic America. But Republicans’ blame is misplaced.

There is a significant swath of White America who is poorer, less educated, and with fewer opportunities and the statistics show a remarkable correlation with the Republican Party. It has been ofttimes said that Republicans vote against their own best interests, and I return to the average voter has no idea what's going on. They don't make an informed vote, they vote on pure gut instinct. And politicians like t**** tap into that frustration to gain power. Unfortunately, while they vote in the hopes of making life better for themselves, they are actually shooting themselves in the foot because their savior doesn't care about saving them and, in fact, doesn't know how to save them.

Where does all this conspiracy theory bullsh*t come from?
From the beginning of time, if man didn't know the right answer, he made stuff up. Nature abhors a vacuum as they say, and the concept of a god fills in all the blanks.

Karen M. Douglas is Professor of Social Psychology at the University of Kent in England. She studies the psychology of conspiracy theories. Her research examines why conspiracy theories appeal to so many people, and the consequences of conspiracy theories for individuals, groups, and society. In an interview and a research paper, she points out how people may gravitate toward conspiracies when they are anxious or feel powerless in an attempt to make sense of it all.

People with lower levels of education tend to be drawn to conspiracy theories. And we don't argue that's because people are not intelligent. It's simply that they haven't been allowed to have, or haven't been given access to the tools to allow them to differentiate between good sources and bad sources or credible sources and non-credible sources. So they're looking for that knowledge and certainty, but not necessarily looking in the right places.

I point out the above quote to refer back to the idea of a lack of critical thinking. This isn't simply a lack of intelligence but a lack of (intellectual) tools. If you've never been out of your own backyard, it may be impossible to conceive of what exists in the rest of the world.

While Prof. Douglas doesn't use the term confirmation bias, she certainly infers it in how people once fixated on an idea, seek out other sources of information which confirm that original idea, ignoring anything contradictory.

Using critical thinking on Alex Jones
Alex Jones chats with Tucker Carlson on X. The following link takes you to the 2:50 mark. Watch about 20 seconds.

Alex Jones & Tucker Carlson Team Up To Talk About Naked Joe Biden, The Young Turks, Dec 15/2023, 12:45

I mull over this claim: Joe Biden is wandering around the White House naked and has been doing so for years.

There are apparently 1,800 people working at the White House. Count that off: one thousand, eight hundred people. And during all this time, no one has ever revealed this to the press. Not one single person. I'm reminded of the conspiracy theory that the moon landing was faked. My research reveals that the Apollo Moon Landing employed 400,000 people and required the support of over 20,000 industrial firms and universities. (Wikipedia) Now think about this for a sec. In order to fake the moon landing, you have to get all of those people to keep their mouth shut. What are the chances of that happening? I return to Biden walking around naked. Eighteen hundred people all have to agree that mum's the word, and what are the chances of pulling that one off?

Without even delving into this any further, my bullsh*t detector has hit a Spinal Tap eleven out of ten. But let's add that I know that Alex Jones is prone to say outrageous, unproveable claims all for the express purpose of keeping the spotlight on him. In his divorce trial, his defense attorney explained that his client said crazy shit (my words) because his client was an entertainer. I thought that succinctly explained the whole Alex Jones phenomenon. He's not a journalist. He's not a seeker of the truth. He wants to capture our attention, and get and maintain a loyal following so he can cash in either through advertising or endorsements. And from what I understand, life has been pretty profitable for Alex.

I mention this because I first saw this clip of Alex with Tucker on a conspiracy theorist's YouTube channel. After playing the clip about Biden walking around naked, the YouTuber said, "I didn't know that." You didn't know that? Wait! What? You actually believe this horsesh*t? You trust the word of Alex Jones? Are you insane?

In researching the fake moon landing idea, one commentator wrote:

The moon landing was faked. But the director was such a perfectionist, he decided to film on location.

Final Word
Is this a comprehensive analysis? Heck, I suppose I could go on and on. But I think I can sum it all up in a few points:
  • Voters are not informed. They vote with their gut.
  • As a consequence, there is this dichotomy between reality and perceptions. People react to their perception of reality, not reality itself.
  • People don't check their information sources. In fact, they begin to rely on one news source while excluding anything else, blindly accepting whatever they're told.
  • People leave themselves vulnerable to manipulation by politicians and entities who stand to gain from their support.
One news source. I'm sure you may have figured out I'm talking about Fox News and those viewers would say that other news sources, like CNN, are just as guilty. Here's the problem. CNN says A. I look further and discover ABC, NBC, CBC in Canada, BBC in Britain, and France24 in France all say A. Fox News says B. Why is Fox the only one saying B? Is a Fox viewer asking me to believe that Fox is right while the rest of the world, yes, the rest of the world is wrong? What are the chances of that being correct, especially since it's now been proven in a court of law that Fox panders (lies) to its audience to make money?

I'm Canadian. My sister married an American, a great guy, a 25 year marriage. But she confessed her husband went down the Fox News rabbit hole and became a rabid t**** supporter. She told me she kept the peace in her household by never discussing politics. He once said to me that he had learned to keep his political views to himself because he kept getting negative responses from people. I'm sorry I wasn't around to talk him through this. I believe I could have convinced him otherwise. I'm amused that it never dawned on him to question his own political views if he was getting negative feedback. I return to the idea of I'm right and the rest of you sheeple are wrong.

Returning to my social media friend M. I wonder what her household is like. What does her husband have to put up with? I never talk with M about politics; there are other things in life more pleasant to talk about. I created a second Twitter account about a year and a half ago to tweet only about amusing things I had run across. M created her own Twitter account to follow me. We had some amusing interactions. But then I noticed she was replying to political tweets and her anger was palpable. At times, the craziness of some of her statements scared me. Was this the same woman? Was this the same fun personality? It was like Jekyll and Hyde, and the difference between the two was startling. And as I said, scary!

Anger clouds our judgment. Like intoxication, it can make us say or do stupid things, things which we may wind up regretting. There's a time to talk but there is also a time to shut up. Unfortunately, anger makes us forget that and we just can't resist getting in that final, decisive one-two punch which is supposed to win the argument but ends up making us new enemies and losing friends.

I like to say I'm a peace, love, and understanding type of guy. I am open to a clear, logical, and convincing argument supported by documented evidence. But don't come to me with your pizzagate, Jewish space lasers, or cockamamie yacht story. You know damn well you are blindly repeating sh*t you saw on social media and you have no proof that any of this crap is true. I plead with you; I beg you; please look further than the latest conspiracy theory YouTube video before making a pronouncement that you've figured everything out. You look foolish, and I'm embarrassed for you.


References

my blog: Politics: pandering not leading - Jan 14/2023

my blog: Cancel Culture, Supposedly - Oct 20/2021

2023-12-25

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Saturday 16 December 2023

Harry Roy and His Orchestra: My Girl's Pussy



Published Jun 26/2014 by iKnowBadeaux
YouTube: Harry Roy and His Orchestra My Girls Pussy 1931 (3:16)

There's one pet I like to pet
And every evening we get set
I stroke it every chance I get
It's my girl's pussy

Seldom plays and never purrs
And I love the thoughts it stirs
But I don't mind because it's hers
My girl's pussy

Often it goes out at night
Returns at break of dawn
No matter what the weather's like
It's always nice and warm

It's never dirty, always clean
In giving thrills, never mean
But it's the best I've ever seen
It's my girl's pussy

There's one pet I like to pet
And every evening we get set
I stroke it every chance I get
It's my girl's pussy

Seldom plays, never purrs
And I love thoughts it stirs
But I don't mind because it's hers
It's my girl's pussy

Though often it goes out at night
And returns at break of dawn, break of dawn
No matter what the weather's like
It's always dry and warm

I bring tid-bits that it loves
We spoon like two turtle-doves
I take care to remove my gloves
When stroking my girl's pussy



References

Wikipedia: My Girl's Pussy
"My Girl's Pussy" (or simply "Pussy!") is a 1931 vocal jazz song recorded by the British bandleader and clarinetist Harry Roy and His Bat Club Boys.

The lyrics play on the two meanings of the word pussy (i.e. cat/female genitalia) in a series of double entendres.

Harry Roy is credited for both the lyrics and the music; he performed the clarinet part and the singing.

The song was released in August 1931 by Oriole Records (UK), described by the record company as a "fox trot with vocal chorus". It was the A-side of the record, with 'If You Haven't Got Love' on the B-side.


Postscript
I posted this on social media saying, In an era when you would think things would be sedate, it's surprising to hear something so risqué. I guess Grandma and Grandpa weren't so stuffy after all. A friend responded with the following meme.

2023-12-16

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Tuesday 28 November 2023

Niall Horan: Heaven



Published Feb 24/2023 by Niall Horan
YouTube: Niall Horan - Heaven (Official Video) (3:20)

Strange light revolves around you
You float across the room
Your touch is made of something
Heaven can't hold a candle to
You're made of something new

Let's not get complicated
Let's just enjoy the view
It's hard to be a human
So much to put an answer to
But that's just what we do

God only knows where this could go
And even if our love starts to grow out of control
And you and me go up in flames
Heaven won't be the same

I'm having revelations
You dance across the floor
Beyond infatuation
How I obsessively adore you
That's what I do

I believe, I believe, I could die in your kiss
No, it doesn't get, doesn't get better than this

God only knows where this could go
And even if our love starts to grow out of control
And you and me go up in flames
Heaven won't be the same

God only knows where this could go
And even if our love starts to grow out of control
And you and me go up in flames
Heaven won't be the same

Heaven won't be the same

I believe, I believe, I could die in your kiss
No, it doesn't get, doesn't get better than, better than this

God only knows where this could go
And even if our love starts to grow out of control
And you and me go up in flames
Heaven won't be the same

God only knows where this could go
And even if our love starts to grow out of control
And you and me go up in flames
Heaven won't be the same


References


Wikipedia: Heaven (Niall Horan song)
"Heaven" is a song by Irish singer Niall Horan, released through Capitol Records as the lead single from his third studio album The Show on 17 February 2023.

Wikipedia: Niall Horan
Niall James Horan (b 1993) is an Irish singer-songwriter. He rose to prominence as a member of the boy band One Direction, formed in 2010 on the singing competition The X Factor. The group released five albums and went on to become one of the best-selling boy bands of all time.

Following the band's hiatus in 2016, Horan signed a recording deal as a solo artist with Capitol Records and has since released three albums: Flicker (2017), Heartbreak Weather (2020) and The Show (2023). Flicker debuted at number one in Ireland and the US, and reached the top three in Australia and the UK. The album's first two singles, "This Town" and "Slow Hands", reached the top twenty in several countries. Heartbreak Weather was released in March 2020, and debuted at number one in the UK, Ireland and Mexico, and at number four in the US.

Horan's third studio album, titled The Show, was released in June 2023.[4] It was preceded by the singles "Heaven" and "Meltdown", which were released in February and April 2023, respectively.


2023-11-29

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Freedom of Speech: Facebook vs X (Twitter)

As of late, I've seen a number of posts on Facebook and Twitter of Nazi rallies in the United States, usually captioned with something like, "This is America?"

I've heard it said that t**** has given permission to so many on the Far Right to come out of the closet and say what they knew was socially unacceptable: sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia. This is my moment, and I'm going to speak my mind, to Hell with your weak social justice bullsh*t. "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" (nod to the character Howard Beale of the 1976 film Network)

Never have so many knowing so little said so much.

Unfortunately, people open their mouths and let fly with whatever crosses their mind, regardless of whether it's correct and makes sense. Stupid is as stupid says. I hear complaints about Cancel Culture but ofttimes when I investigate the complainer, I find they never should have said what they said. (see link in References below)

On Facebook, a friend posted a video of a Nazi rally in Florida. I commented with the following meme:


Facebook removed my comment, saying I was promoting a hate group, blocking some of my functions until January 17, 2024, and threatening further action if I again violated their Community Standards. I asked for a review. Shortly thereafter, I got a response that their ruling remained in effect, and my comment would not be allowed.

First off, I know this was not the doing of a human being. Facebook has crossed the three billion mark in the number of users, and there is no way they have the manpower to be supervising that many accounts. All of this is the result of automated routines scanning accounts for questionable material. Secondly, this is not the first time Facebook has taken exception to one of my postings. They may have image recognition and be able to detect a Nazi flag but do not have the interpretative ability to distinguish between the promotion of Nazism and the criticism of it.

A curious difference
Elon Musk has said that Twitter, now X, would be a bastion of free speech. He's gotten himself into trouble for opening the flood gates as an unsupervised Twitter has turned into a free-for-all to say whatever the heck you want. Right? Wrong? As I've said elsewhere, it's not so much what people say, it's that other people are listening, and I mean listening without any critical thinking. Freedom of speech means you can say that two plus two equals five but the problem is that a significant portion of the population never do the math, heck, they don't even know math, and blindly repeat five, oblivious to the right answer. Now, we end up in this strange situation where if something is repeated often enough, it becomes true. Well, not in the eyes of science as the old saying is: The truth doesn't give a f*ck about your opinion. But a significant portion of the population represents a political force, and that force could drive our bus right off the cliff, themselves included. The answer ain't five!

My point is that while Facebook censored my meme, I know that Twitter would not. Zuckerberg holds me accountable while Musk lets me speak my mind. Who's right? Which is the correct approach? Collectively, we are trying to hold social media responsible to supervise the content published on their platform because we can't control ourselves. I looked at some of the videos of Nazi rallies and noted people were parading wearing masks to hide their identity. Obviously, they know that what they're doing is not right. Or they're not yet ready to own it and be responsible for it, facing the consequences of their stance. Musk and Twitter or X have been bleeding advertisers who've decided they don't want to be seen in the same company as who they've decided are deplorable. Elon may allow Nazi flags but companies who risk being seen in their company have said no.

Final Word
Freedom of speech. But with freedom comes responsibility. Before opening/ your mouth, have you verified that what you're going to say is true, factual, and logical? It seems odd that we must require our social media to police us because we have no self-control.

Do I think censorship is going to work? If everybody was on the same page and agreed that two plus two equals four which, by the way, is true and factual, why would we need social media to supervise us? Unfortunately, I have no idea when we all will end up on the same page. It certainly is not going to happen in my lifetime.

So, here we are Zuckerberg or Musk, Facebook jail or X freedom. Who's right? If we measure success by ad revenue, Elon may want to reconsider, but I leave his $44 billion experiment to him. It seems that being "right" in the eyes of the world may not be all that easy.

References

my blog: Cancel Culutre, Supposedly - Oct 20, 2021
I hear people complaining about being so-called cancelled. Woe is me! Of course, Godwin's Law takes over and now, it's the "Gestapo of Political Correctness" subjugating the masses to make them conform to what those G.D. libtards feel is socially acceptable.

Fine. Then I go look at the complainant and see what's been suppressed. I find racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, along with lies, misinformation, distortion of the facts, conspiracy theories and outright stupidity, coupled with an attitude of anti-education, anti-science, anti-expertise, anti-government, and anti-authority goddamnit, nobody's gonna tell me what to do! Fifty years ago, a nut would stand on a soapbox at a street corner with a megaphone. The potential audience was limited. Today, that same person can get their message out to millions.

We’re back to a fundamental question: We all want freedom, but should anyone be free to falsely yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater?


2023-11-28

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Sunday 26 November 2023

Harry Styles: Late Night Talking



Published Sep 2/2022 by Harry Styles
YouTube: Harry Styles - Late Night Talking (Live from One Night Only in New York) (3:47)

Things haven’t been quite the same,
There’s a haze on the horizon babe,
It’s only been a couple of days and I miss you,
Mmm yeah,
When nothing really goes to plan,
You stub your toe, or break your camera,
I’ll do everything I can to help you through,

If you’re feeling down,
I just wanna make you happier baby,
Wish I was around,
I just wanna make you happier baby,

We’ve been doing all this late night talking,
About anything you want until the morning,
Now you’re in my life,
I can’t get you off my mind,

I’ve never been a fan of change,
But I’d follow you to any place,
If it’s Hollywood or Bishopsgate, I’m coming too,

If you’re feeling down,
I just want to make you happier baby,
Wish I was around,
I just wanna make you happier baby,

We’ve been doing all this late night talking,
About anything you want until the morning,
Now you’re in my life,
I can’t get you off my mind,

Can’t get you off my mind,
Can’t get you off my mind,
I won’t even try,
To get you off my mind,
Get you off my mind,

We’ve been doing all this late night talking,
About anything you want until the morning,
Now you’re in my life,
I can’t get you off my mind,

Can’t get you off my mind,
(All this late night talking),
Can’t get you off my mind,
(All this late night talking),
I won’t even try,
(All this late night talking),
Can’t get you off my,
(All this late night talking),

References

Wikipedia: Late Night Talking
"Late Night Talking" is a song by English singer Harry Styles. The song was released to US pop radio as the second single from his third studio album Harry's House on 21 June 2022. A music video for the song was later released on 13 July 2022, in which Styles is shown exploring the world on different beds.

Wikipedia: Harry Styles
Harry Edward Styles (born 1 February 1994) is an English singer. His musical career began in 2010 as part of One Direction, a boy band formed on the British music competition series The X Factor after each member of the band had been eliminated from the solo contest. They became one of the best-selling boy groups of all time before going on an indefinite hiatus in 2016.

Styles released his self-titled debut solo album through Columbia Records in 2017. It debuted at number one in the UK and the US and was one of the world's top-ten best-selling albums of the year, while its lead single, "Sign of the Times", topped the UK Singles Chart. Styles' second album, Fine Line (2019), debuted atop the US Billboard 200 with the biggest ever first-week sales by an English male artist, and was the most recent album to be included in Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time" in 2020. Its fourth single, "Watermelon Sugar", topped the US Billboard Hot 100. Styles' third album, Harry's House (2022), broke several records and was widely acclaimed, receiving the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 2023. Its lead single, "As It Was", became the number-one song of 2022 globally according to Billboard.

Styles has received various accolades, including six Brit Awards, three Grammy Awards, an Ivor Novello Award, and three American Music Awards. His film roles include Dunkirk (2017), Don't Worry Darling (2022), and My Policeman (2022). Aside from music and acting, Styles is known for his flamboyant fashion. He is the first man to appear solo on the cover of Vogue.


My Comment
I liked the live version more than the official video. I enjoyed watching the band play. And by the way, I found it interesting that female musicians were part of the band just like any other musician, as opposed to an all-female group. The gals can be just as good as the guys. The drummer Sarah Jones lays down a good beat for the song.

Published Jul 13/2022 by Harry Styles
YouTube: Harry Styles - Late Night Talking (Official Video) (3:15)


2023-11-26

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Saturday 18 November 2023

Less Critical, More Compassionate

I'm older and questionably wiser, but definitely older.

But I've noted that with age, I've become less critical and more compassionate. I don't rush to judgment. Everybody is trying to figure things out, and they don't necessarily come to the same conclusions as me because of their life experiences, their upbringing, and their education. It's hard to understand that two plus two equals four if you have no understanding of mathematics.

Certainly now, more than ever, the state of the world seems very precarious. As the 1960s hippies said,: Make Love Not War. If we all spent more time between the sheets, there would be far less time for fighting. And I would add that there would be far less desire to fight. Nothing like a good orgasm with a good partner to give you a glow and make you feel that all is right with the world.

compassion (n):
  sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.


As I've said elsewhere on this blog, I've made this observation over the years:

Happy people are kind, generous, and sympathetic, if not empathetic.

Unhappy people are mean, cruel, and always find fault with others never with themselves.

Unfortunately, the world has far too many unhappy people. They could be having a bad day, but I've heard stories which made me conclude some people are having a bad life. I feel sorry for them. I may try to help, but I also realize some people are beyond my help and the best I can do for all of us is to stay away. I'll be compassionate but must carefully assess if I, personally, can do any good and if not, move on for my own protection and sanity.

To again borrow from the 1960s hippies, I like to say that I'm a peace, love, and understanding type of guy. I like to think I'm open and honest, nonjudgmental and accepting.

Recently, I chatted with a very nice black woman on social media. We had a most interesting conversation. She did, however, recount some not so agreeable times. Apparently, not everyone is nonjudgmental and accepting, and racism exists. While she was dancing at a club, a man said to her out of the blue, "Beautiful n-".

Wait! What? Where in this man's wildest imagination did he think such an opening line was acceptable and would lead him into the good graces of the woman in question? I was astounded by her story. I find it incredible that a person could be so lacking in social skills, unaware of manners, and apparently incapable of any empathy whatsoever. Who are these people? How many of them are there? And how prevalent is this behavior?

Concerned by the polarization of politics and the awakening of all that is wrong in society, sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia, several years ago, I created the following meme in order to best describe my stance about other people, especially those people some may label as "different".


I think diversity is a good thing. Our differences make us stronger. Variety is the spice of life. United we stand. However, I know full well that not everyone feels as I do. They do not like anybody who is not identical to them. Too bad. They're missing out.

I'm less critical and more compassionate. But that doesn't mean I agree and am willing to let others dictate the terms for how our society is to be run. If what somebody believes in disenfranchises people or "punches down", they need to rethink their beliefs. If you're critical of other people, if you make fun of others, what does that say about you?

Somebody asking for their rights is not asking to take away my rights. We all deserve a place in the sun.

You can easily judge the character of a man
by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
—Malcolm S. Forbes

I am not here to be king of the hill. I have no need to win over others. We're all in this together, and it can be personally satisfying to help others. Yes, I climb the ladder because I want to be a success but I can also lend a hand to help others climb the ladder, too.

Final Word
As I like to say, will there ever be a final word? I've heard it said that while we have modern advances like the Internet, computers, and AI, the human race has not progressed one iota spiritually in two thousand years. We're just as stupid except now, with broadband, we can be stupid faster and for a wider audience.

Notice what I said at the beginning of this article.

I've become less critical and more compassionate. I don't rush to judgment. Everybody is trying to figure things out, and they don't necessarily come to the same conclusions as me because of their life experiences, their upbringing, and their education. It's hard to understand that two plus two equals four if you have no understanding of mathematics.

I calling you ignorant. I'm not calling you stupid. Believe me, in the heat of an argument, it's a temptation to call you stupid but I'm trying to be compassionate. I do hope, however, that the ignorant don't get hold of the reins of power as they could very well sink the entire ship, them included, because they don't understand.

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." -Hanlon's Razor

Like it or not, we're all in this together. Those people are not going away. Compassion: We're all just trying to find our place in the world.


References

Click on the site map of my blog for more of my ramblings about everything under the sun.

2023-11-18

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Tuesday 14 November 2023

Brad Paisley: Online



Published Oct 3/2009 by BRADPAISLEY
YouTube: Brad Paisley - Online (5:51)

I work down at the pizza pit
And I drive an old Hyundai
I still live with my mom and dad
I'm 5'3 and overweight

I'm a Sci-Fi fanatic
Mild asthmatic
Never been to 2nd base
But there's a whole another me
That you need to see
Go check out MySpace

'Cause online I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6'5 and I look damn good
I drive a Maserati
I'm a black belt in Karate
And I love a good glass of wine

It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell 'em I don't want nothing serious
'Cause even on a slow day I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
So much cooler online

I get home, I kiss my mom
And she fixes me a snack
I head down to my basement bedroom
And fire up my Mac

In real life the only time I
Ever even been to L.A.
Was when I got the chance with the marching band
To play tuba in the Rose Parade.

Online I live in Malibu
I posed for Calvin Klein, I've been in GQ
I'm single and I'm rich
And I got a set of six pack abs that'll blow your mind

It turns girls on that I'm mysterious
I tell 'em I don't want nothing serious
'Cause even on a slow day I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online

When you got my kinda stats, it's hard to get a date
Let alone a real girlfriend
But I grow another foot
And I lose a bunch of weight every time I log in

Online I'm out in Hollywood
I'm 6'5 and I look damn good
Even on a slow day, I can have a three way
Chat with two women at one time

I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online
I'm so much cooler online
Yeah I'm cooler online

References

Wikipedia: Online (Brad Paisley song)
"Online" is a song by American country music artist Brad Paisley. It was released on July 2, 2007, as the second single from the album 5th Gear. The single is Paisley's ninth overall Number One single on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, as well as his fifth consecutive Number One. In addition, the song's music video won a Video of the Year award for Paisley at the 2007 Country Music Association awards.

Music Video
The music video is directed by actor Jason Alexander, who also plays the geek in the song's music video; William Shatner and Estelle Harris play his parents. Patrick Warburton has a cameo as a car dealer, Shane West has a cameo as a photographer, and Maureen McCormick is featured as the geek's next door neighbor. The marching band from Brentwood High School in Brentwood, Tennessee (who also perform at the end of the album version) makes an appearance at the end, and country music artists Taylor Swift and Kellie Pickler appear as Paisley's backup dancers. The concert portions of the video were shot at the White River Amphitheatre in Auburn, Washington, during Brad Paisley's tour, during which Swift and Pickler served as opening acts. The Matrix digital rain can be seen falling on the screen behind the band's performance.


Wikipedia: Brad Paisley
Bradley Douglas Paisley (born October 28, 1972) is an American country music singer, songwriter, and guitarist. Starting with his 1999 debut album Who Needs Pictures, he has released eleven studio albums and a Christmas compilation on the Arista Nashville label, with all of his albums certified Gold or higher by the RIAA. He has scored 35 Top 10 singles on the US Billboard Country Airplay chart, 20 of which have reached number one. He set a new record in 2009 for the most consecutive singles (10) reaching the top spot on that chart.

Paisley has sold over 11 million albums and has won three Grammy Awards, 14 Academy of Country Music Awards, 14 Country Music Association Awards, and two American Music Awards. He has also earned country music's crowning achievement, becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Paisley also wrote songs for Pixar's Cars franchise ("Behind the Clouds", "Find Yourself", "Collision of Worlds" with Robbie Williams, "Nobody's Fool", etc.).


2023-11-14

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Friday 20 October 2023

Freedom of Speech, Jordan Peterson, and I believe therefore it's true.

Never have so many knowing so little said so much.

At first glance, the cartoon by Shovel seems amusing. But the more I look at it, the more I see a strange transformation of the public dialog. Maybe it's always existed, but it seems more pronounced with electronic communications and the proliferation of social media. Years ago, your average nutjob stood at the corner on a soapbox with a megaphone, spouting whatever nonsense he wanted. Now, he's on Facebook or Twitter with a reach of millions, sometimes tens of millions if not more. Studies have revealed that rumors spread faster than the truth. It's almost as if the design of human communications is geared toward the bad, not the good.

How common is common knowledge? Two plus two equals four. The Earth is not flat. I've been struck over the past few years in this era of t****, MAGA, and Qanon conspiracists, that what I thought was common has turned out to be not so common. On top of it, the Dunning-Kruger Effect has proven that those with so-called uncommon knowledge are very much convinced they're right. Referring back to bad winning over good, people seem to be more accepting of rumored information than questioning anything. They make little effort to confirm what they hear as true or not. I make mention of Pizzagate: Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee were running a child sex ring out of basement of a pizzeria in a suburb of Washington DC. I heard this and immediately dismissed it as false, however, one man, from North Carolina, loaded up his car with guns, drove to the pizzeria and shot a lock off a door, looking for the children. At his trial, he admitted he had been duped. Upon hearing all this, I was startled by this man's lack of critical thinking. There is bad in the world. Unfortunately, so many people are running around blaming all sorts of unrelated things. I think of Marjorie Taylor Greene saying that Jewish space lasers caused the wildfires in California. Or the supposed perversion of American children by drag queens. These people are lacking so much real-world knowledge, they lash out with wild, unfounded theories, trying to make sense of the world.

Jordan Peterson
Full disclosure: I don't know Jordan Peterson. I've never read his books, attended his lectures, or looked at his YouTube videos. My acquaintance with this controversial Canadian comes from him popping up in newspaper articles about the umbrage over some public statement he's pronounced about the latest issue. I've been curious as to why he always seems to get himself into hot water but it seems evident to me now that his problem is that he's arrogant. He's so sure he's right, he can't see when he's wrong. That seems to pretty much sum up the attitude of the Right, including conservatives, Qanon conspiracy theorists, and MAGA followers.
Yumi Nu, cover model for Sports Illustrated
On May 16, 2022, Jordan Peterson declared a Sports Illustrated model "not beautiful" and sparked quite a backlash. (source, source, Peterson's tweet)


Sample responses:

Man: "Sheesh. Big fan here. I find my girlfriend with a body type like this quite beautiful. Dial it back a bit homie."

Woman: "Why do men feel it's their duty to publicly pronounce their view on the attractiveness of women? Couldn't you just keep it to yourself?"

Over the years, in this blog, I've discussed body image of both women and men. We live in a society very much affected by some sort of idealized body type published in various media. Women are supposed to look like a Victoria Secrets model; anything less is "not beautiful" as Peterson put it. But is that actually true?

Years ago, a fellow blogger Erica Jagger published a series of boudoir shoots of various women. I found each woman attractive in their own right. They weren't models per se, but they were attractive. How startling to read their struggles with self-image and the ensuing lack of confidence. I would have loved to have coffee with each one of them as yes, each one of them was attractive. Old saying: Confidence is the sexiest of all characteristics.

I'm fond of the saying: "Does a goldfish know its living in a fishbowl?" Do any of us fully understand the society we live in where we are bombarded with messages both overt and subliminal, inculcating us with a value system we have no say about and do not necessarily understand?

Peterson, in declaring himself the arbiter of female beauty, is oblivious to how his own tastes have been formulated by the traditions of Victoria Secrets. Like others on the right, he has a laser-like focus on this supposed evil of "wokeness". He's arguing against Sports Illustrated being woke by putting a plus-sized model on the cover, not realizing the magazine was only giving women other than Victoria Secrets models their due. Woke means being fair and inclusive but critics think that's a bad thing. Well, it's a bad thing until people are unfair or not inclusive to these critics. It amuses me how critics hate being criticized.

Elliot Page, transgender man
Page came out in December 2020. In June 2022, Peterson had his Twitter account suspended when he tweeted: "Remember when pride was a sin? And Ellen Page just had her breasts removed by a criminal physician.” (source) Apparently, Peterson is "infamous for his anti-trans stance. He once claimed on Joe Rogan’s podcast that being transgender is a result of a 'contagion' and similar to 'satanic ritual abuse.'".

On July 12/2022, I wrote Dave Chappelle, Ricky Gervais, J. K. Rowling, and the Third Gender, a 3,125 words, 10-minute read examination of transgender. I discovered that transgender has existed for thousands of years and been readily accepted in other cultures. but which is, according to Wikipedia (referencing Anthropological Theory: An Introductory History (2007) by Richard Warms, Richard L. Warms, R. Jon McGee), still somewhat new to mainstream western culture and conceptual thought. And what do we do when confronted with something new, outside our own experience? We don't believe it and we mock it. If you haven't personally experienced it, it can't be true.

Rowling has gotten herself into trouble by declaring there are only two sexes, the sex with which you are born. For her, there is no distinction between the physical and the psychological. In my analysis, I enumerate numerous examples I've encountered which led me to conclude that transgender is very real. Just because I'm not transgender doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Once again, Peterson hasn't done his homework, knowing nothing about history, knowing nothing outside the realm of his own life.

Canada's response to Covid
In an opinion piece (National Post, January 10, 2022), Peterson explained the inconveniences he’s had to suffer due to restrictions related to the responses of various governments to Covid. After a visit to Tennessee during which he enjoyed the openness of the Covid-related rules, he wondered why Canada couldn't open itself up like Tennessee or Florida. Fair enough. I compared the death rates from Covid of the two countries (my blog) and discovered that the United States and all of its individual states had death rates several times greater than Canada. In fact, I estimated that if the United States had responded to Covid the same way Canada had, over 600,000 Americans would have been alive, but they were dead from Covid. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis loves to brag about how his state has handled the pandemic, I estimated than over 40,000 Floridians had needlessly died from Covid due to his lack of preventative measures. Peterson, in a fit of self-centeredness, paid no heed to the benefits of Canada's policies but only looked at his own inconvenience. The joke was that if Peterson had got his wish and Canada had opened up and consequently, more Canadians died, he didn't know he could have very well been one of those who died from the disease.

The College of Psychologists of Ontario
In November 2022, the College ordered Peterson to undergo a coaching program on professionalism in public statements after the College received a number of complaints about Peterson's online comments about the above issues. (source) There was a hue and a cry, especially from Peterson about his freedom of speech, but the CBC as of August 2023 reports an Ontario court upheld the ruling against Peterson. Was his freedom of speech infringed? Does he have the right to say what he said?

Protecting the Brand
Back in the early 2000s, the company I worked for decided to put in place a social media policy. I conducted part of the preliminary investigation and discovered the following. A company or an organisation has the right to protect itself, its brand or its reputation. The most obvious case I ran across had Company X firing employee Y after it discovered Y was running a neo-Nazi website. A subsequent court battle saw the firing upheld after it determined that Company X had the right to distance itself from Nazism as it would threaten its sales since the vast majority of the population were against Nazism.

If I take that and apply it to The College of Psychologists, the College has the right to protect its brand or its credibility in the eyes of the public. I suppose Peterson has the right to say what he wants to say but the public also has the right to voice their opinion and criticize Peterson for his, well, unorthodox views. Anybody has the right to say two plus two equals five but everybody else has the right to disagree. And like Company X, the public can decide to shop elsewhere where Nazism is not promoted.

Freedom of Speech
Do any of us have the right to shout "Fire!" in a crowded theater? (Wikipedia) The part of the debate which seems to be always missing is whether or not what somebody says is causing harm. If the two of us are sitting in a bar on a Saturday night, you can say anything you want. Who are you going to harm? It's only the two of us. But what if you're a public figure with an audience of millions of viewers? Your word is influential, and the question of your freedom of speech and even offhanded comments must include whether or not you're doing good or causing harm.

The president of the United States has to one of, if not the most influential person on the planet. When the president speaks, people listen.

Donald J. t**** took every opportunity to downplay the pandemic, to call it a hoax, to convince people not to take preventative measures, not to wear masks, not social distance, not get vaccinated, not follow vaccine mandates, and not get boosted. I believe t**** should be held criminally negligent for the needless deaths of over 600,000 Americans. Unlike you or me, the president has the ear of all Americans with the power to influence them in their daily lives. What he says counts.

I would add that anybody who's in the public eye, Jordan Peterson, others like Joe Rogan, Fox News and its minions, etc. do not have so-called freedom of speech, they can't say what they think; they can't just give their opinion. They have a responsibility to research their ideas because of the influential power over their audience. t**** asked if disinfectants could be used against Covid. Reports then popped up about people poisoning themselves trying to self-medicate with bleach. Sure, you can easily dismiss these people as stupid but let me repeat: The president of the United States suggested it; it's got to be true!

Peterson like many confuse the issue of the freedom of speech, their freedom, with their responsibility as a public figure. Even an offhanded comment may be taken as the gospel, and some people could follow through with the idea. Joe Rogan, professional comic and podcaster, was a strong proponent of ivermectin as a means to fight Covid. (my blog) This was disproven but Joe ignored the science, along with many others including t****. The Washington Poison Center, Seattle, Washington, reported a five-fold increase in calls regarding ivermectin. People look at those in the public eye with trust and will follow their recommendations even if those recommendations are pure, unadulterated bullsh*t.

Am I being fair in my criticism of Peterson?
Just now, I re-read the following Wikipedia articles: Jordan Peterson, 12 Rules for Life, and Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life. I note the following:

Believing Peterson to be famous for his personality rather than his "bonkers" philosophy, [James Marriott of The Times] said that Peterson "may have mistaken his personality for a philosophical system".

I can't help feeling there's something wrong here. The very fact he wrote 12 Rules for Life then 12 More Rules smacks of a certain pretentiousness. He does have his fans but I have no intention of rushing out to buy his books or start watching his YouTube channel.

I see that Peterson has used the term "woke". I'm sorry, once I hear somebody use this term I know they are not objectively looking at the world. They are closed-minded with an ideological slant on life. During a court case between Gov. Ron DeSantis and Disney where DeSantis accused Disney of being woke, the judge asked for a definition of the word, and an attorney for DeSantis said that it referred to being aware of social injustices. I don't understand. Why is being aware of social injustices a bad thing? How did this term become a catch-all for everything The Right supposedly hates? And I have to ask: What's the opposite of woke? Asleep? Unconscious? Dead? I'd rather be woke than any of those things.

I stand by my comments on the above issues. Peterson was wrong. He should not have said what he said. And The College is right to demand he take remedial training.

Final Word
I'm fond of the line attributed to Socrates: "I know nothing". I'm also fond of the aphorism: "The more I know the less I know." However, in this era of t**** and MAGA, I've been surprised, shocked, and sometimes appalled at those clearly demonstrating the Dunning-Kruger Effect. They couldn't possibly know the right answer and yet, they are so very convinced they do. They're missing pieces of the puzzle; they're not asking the right questions; and they're ignoring holes in their argumentation. It is far more important to these people to win the debate than to be right. In fact, finding "the truth" in quotation marks is of no importance. Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing.

In my piece on Cancel Culture (2,600 words, 10-minute read), I discovered that those who scream about the injustice of being so-called cancelled, have opened their mouths and let fly with racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, along with lies, misinformation, distortion of the facts, conspiracy theories and outright stupidity, coupled with an attitude of anti-education, anti-science, anti-expertise, anti-government, and anti-authority goddamnit, nobody's gonna tell me what to do! In other words, they deserved to be slapped silly. It's freedom of speech; it's not freedom to be stupid.

Peterson's stance against transgender shows he knows nothing about history. His take on Covid ignores science and statistics. And his comment about the Sports Illustrated model is just mean. Like so many today on the Right, he's arrogant, so convinced he's right, he can't see when he's wrong. He's supposedly going to take whatever remedial course was prescribed by the College, but I feel certain he's not going to "get it". He feels he has the right to say what he wants to say because of freedom of speech not realising that his opinion is not "The Truth".

I said I don't know Peterson and don't follow him other than the stories which pop up in my news feed. However, my interest right now is how Peterson is representative of everything wrong with today's modern world: "I believe therefore it's true." We all want to understand. We all want a comforting explanation of what's going on in the world, but we must be cautious. In desiring that comforting explanation, we can jump to conclusions rather than making the effort to uncover "The Truth". I ran across a meme which humorously explains it all:

Science doesn't give a f*ck about your opinion.


References

Wikipedia: Jordan Peterson
Jordan Bernt Peterson (born 12 June 1962) is a Canadian psychologist, author, and media commentator. Often described as conservative, he began to receive widespread attention in the late 2010s for his views on cultural and political issues. Peterson has described himself as a classic British liberal and a traditionalist.

During the pandemic, outraged by the B.S. being passed around as scientific fact, I wrote a number of articles on various issues, carefully researching what I claimed as "fact" so as to be able to back up my so-called opinion with scientific evidence.

Ivermectin: I'm not taking medical advice from Joe Rogan. - Nov 9/2021
From the outset of the pandemic, the supposed antiviral properties of the antiparasitic drug ivermectin has been bandied about left, right, and center. Even if expert sources of information like the CDC and the FDA said not to use it, people, especially those on the right led by Fox News, kept pushing ivermectin “propaganda”. Has anybody read the science, and if they did, did they understand what they were looking at? The slightest hint of anything positive has turned into possibility and if it doesn’t kill you, what the heck, what harm could it do? Who knows? It may very well do something!

The problem isn’t so much what people say, it’s that we listen. - Feb 14/2022
I don’t listen to Joe Rogan. I never have listened to him, and I have no intention of doing so. Problem solved.

In fact, I don’t listen and never have listened to t****, Fox News, whether it be Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Jeannine Piro, Jesse Waters, et al., or any other source on the Right such as Alex Jones, Ben Shapiro, Candace Owens, formerly Rush Limbaugh, etc. Of course, clips crop up in newscasts, but I never tune into any of these people. Problem solved.

It occurs to me that the problem isn’t so much that any of these people are talking, it’s that we’re, I mean, you’re listening. Why are you listening?


Covid: What if the U.S. was like Canada? - Feb 3/2022
Comparing the death rate of Canada with the U.S. and its individual states as of February 3, 2022. I believe t**** and Ron DeSantis should be held criminally negligent for their handling of the Covid pandemic.



2023-10-20

Site Map - William Quincy BelleFollow me on Twitter

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Marketing My Writing: So far, a bust!

I'll start with the classic joke: Look at what I've done, and now do the exact opposite, the supposition being that what I'm doing is wrong. I published my first book on September 22, 2016, and so far, any efforts on my part to market my work has been a bust. Research had turned up an article claiming that indie authors earn on average about $500 a year, and I'd say that just about describes my situation. There are supposedly 2.2 million new books published each year in the world so over the past 7 years as of this writing, there have been 15.4 million of them and not one of my works has caught the interest of the public. ARC programs, paid reviews, book tours, advertising campaigns on social media either by myself or by companies with for-pay services, Amazon's own paid ads, none of these marketing methods has led to any substantial number of sales. Considering each one of my books has involved money out of my own pocket for beta reads, copy editing, and proofreading, I'm so far in the red that it's ridiculous. Never mind a profit, I'd be happy at this stage of the game just to break even.

Ecosystems
I first noticed this in paying for book tours. In looking at the interactions of the various participants, it became clear to me the purpose of the tour was not my book, it was the tour. People interacted with each other. Comments were about the superficial of the tour, the book cover, the book blurb, what other people said or did, the host or hostess of the tour, etc., but it became clear nobody was buying the book and actually reading it.

Recently, I tried out Instagram and discovered the same phenomenon. I paid for two ad services: each of them posting about my book. Each post got around 15,000 likes which seems like a good thing but I note that I may have gotten only one or two sales. In other words, Instagram is about Instagram, liking a post, not about buying my book. Sidebar: I join Instagram, post about my books, and then my Inbox is flooded with messages from publicity services! In fact, most of my followers seem to be people wanting me to pay them money! Ha!

There's an old saying (with many variations): If you throw enough Jell-O at the wall, eventually something is going to stick. So far, I haven't gotten much to stick.

During the summer of 2023, wondering just what horrible thing I had been doing, I paid $200 for a one-hour session with a marketing consultant. He told me a number of mistakes I had made and convinced me to slap down another $800 for his services. I did precisely what he asked then redid my ad campaigns on Amazon. Results? A bust. No better than what I had done by myself. If I search for expertise in marketing, I can find all sorts of advice. However, I've now come to the conclusion that this advice is like throwing Jell-O. While I'm sure experts in marketing are better than me, I'm not sure that anything I've done so far has been totally wrong. My biggest problem as I see it is that I'm unknown, and nobody wants to take a chance on an unknown.

I wouldn't buy my book.
I've looked at how I select a book to read. First off, I don't have much time, and I don't want to waste it. Consequently, my selection process is aiming to guarantee that my choice is a good one. I'll pick a well-known author, one whose opus matches my taste. The book blurb will confirm whether the story will pique my interest. I can't say the cover art is a factor in my choice which contradicts some marketing experts who say the cover is everything.

In other words, I would never choose one of my own books. Maybe, just maybe if I was at the cottage on a rainy day with nothing better to do, I might look at the bookshelf and somewhat randomly choose a book I would otherwise never read. This is the humor of my marketing situation. I wouldn't buy my book but I'm trying to figure out how to get people interested in it. Ha, ha!

Amazon Ad Campaigns
Out of all the marketing endeavors, I think this one deserves special mention as it is built into the sales mechanism many of us use when publishing on Amazon.

After playing with this system for years, my conclusion is this: Amazon has a really good system for themselves. Despite my best efforts, I've never been in the black. While I do manage to get the occasional sale, for the most part I am spending far more than I'm earning. My impression is that Amazon has built themselves a guaranteed money maker while I am wildly throwing Jell-O around in a hope springs eternal manner and having nothing stick. There have been periods when I left the system turned off as it was merely sucking up money and giving me pretty much nothing in return. But every once in a while, I'd try out a new idea, a new book blurb, a new tag line, new keyword targeting, etc. but to no avail. As I mentioned above, I hired a marketing consultant who re-wrote all my book blurbs and my taglines but that still didn't work. Damn if I know what the trick is. But I repeat: The biggest thing I've got going against me is that I'm just another name and there are just so many choices out there, why would anybody take risk on a complete unknown?

The Literary Lottery
I jokingly use this term to describe being discovered. It's not the marketing campaign per se, not the book blurb, not the cover, not the placement of an ad on social media, it's the point of self-combustion when the book takes on a life of its own, and interest snowballs. It's like wining the (literary) lottery! The public keeps talking about the work, passing around their enthusiasm for it and inciting others to take a look.

By all expert accounts, 50 Shades of Grey was a poorly written book. I've read numerous reviews criticizing E. L. James as a writer but after now having passed 150 million copies of her novels, she must be laughing all the way to the bank. Go figure. As odd as it sounds, quality may not always be the key to success. However, there's no doubt in my mind that Ms. James did indeed win the literary lottery. Even if her work had had critical praise, she still could have remained unknown. The old saying goes: You can work very hard and still lose.

The Numbers Game
The other week I was discussing this idea with a friend, and she gave me some example numbers.

An ad is displayed 1,000 times. Maybe 10% of the readers or 100 people look at the ad. Out of that, maybe 10% or 10 people click to view the details. Out of that, maybe 10% or 1 person actually acts on the ad as in purchasing something.

Those numbers, however, express the concept but the actual numbers would be tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands. Maybe even millions. And the percentages wouldn't be 10% but possibly 1% or even a percentage of a percent. In other words, if the ad is displayed enough times, even a 0.01% success rate could lead to sales.

I'm reminded of an old joke: A man walking down the street comes across a beggar who has a cup of pencils with a sign saying $1 million. The man chuckles and says, "You're not going to sell a lot of pencils at that price." The beggar responds, "I only have to sell one."

Shawn Warner strikes gold
This first-time author was sitting in a store, signing books when a passer-by filmed him and posted it on TikTok. It went viral and Warner's book shot up to become the number one seller on Amazon. He's now been interviewed on NBC's Today Show. (link to article) This is the type of out of the box marketing I've long suspected is what makes winning the literary lottery possible. I've jokingly said I need to go down to the city central square with a box of my books, take off all of my clothes and pass them out with the hope, before the police arrest me for indecent exposure, that the media would get wind of my story and write about it. I may spend the night behind bars but I would get publicity! Ha, ha!

Final Word
Since I was putting my name on the book, I wanted to make sure I didn't embarrass myself. I hired professional editorial help to ensure my work was in the best shape possible. I haven't exactly followed the same approach when it's come to marketing, although I have spent time researching the topic. Should I have turned more to experts? The definition of an expert: Somebody who knows just a little bit more than you.

I'm sure marketing people look at me like a sucker. My two Instagram marketers got 15,000 likes each on their ads, so in a way, they did live up to their promises. But those ads gave me no sales and in the end, sales are the only thing that counts.

Am I flailing? The supposedly made-up story of Thomas Edison has a journalist asking him to comment on his failure to invent the light bulb. Edison replies, "I haven't failed. I've merely come up with 999 ways to NOT make a light bulb."

I have concluded that marketing is not an exact science. It's very much hit and miss. But I am also convinced that my biggest stumbling block is that I am but a mere grain of sand on the beach of life. There is quite literally so much going on in the world, why would anybody take the time to look at my stuff? I go through the Amazon ad campaign statistics, studying CTR (Click-through Rate) and CPC (Cost-per-click), tweaking taglines and book blurbs while realizing the customer has a tsunami of information flying by their eyes, and I only have a millisecond to pique their curiosity. Fat chance.

My conclusion is that I continue with two possible roads to success.
  1. Eventually by sheer number of ads, something catches the public's eye.
  2. Something unusual happens like a TikTok video (or me naked), and that catches the public's eye.

Only time will tell. But I'm reminded of an author who described her approach by saying that she wasn't going to fuss too much about marketing; it would eventually take care of itself, and she was going back to writing her next novel.

Amen.


References

my blog: I wrote a book. So what? - Oct 24/2021
I clicked on the Publish button on September 22, 2016. "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my closeup." I'm sitting here, five years later, realising, "So, what?"

Book Review: On Writing by Stephen King - Dec 27/2010
Who on this planet doesn't know the name Stephen King? Born in 1947, this American author has written and published 49 novels including 5 nonfiction which have sold over 350 million copies. Of course, his fame has spread even further as a number of these books have been turned into successful films: Carrie, The Shining, It and Misery to name but a few.

2023-09-26

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