More on Borders Books

More information and better written articles are slowly appearing. Writer Beware has an excellent (as always) post about it that has good links to further explanations and opinions.

Borders isn’t the only bookstore to announce bankruptcy. There’s one in Canada (which came as a surprise as opposed to the slow shipwreck crash of Borders) and a huge chain in Australia.

What is interesting are the comments to the post. I was going to quote some of them and decided not to. My theories on the self-publish mentality belong in another post/rant for another time.

A Note about E-book Piracy

Let’s say you buy a printed book. You read it. You think it is great. You pass it on to a friend who also reads it who then passes it on to another friend, etc. By the end of the year, 7 hypothetical people have read that book. Yet, the author got paid for just one.

But that’s how it goes. Authors on the whole don’t mind you sharing your book. It spreads our name around and perhaps get some more sales later. Perhaps one of that 7 decided she wanted the book on her shelf so went and bought one.

Now here comes the e-books. That’s the digital form of books (electronic books) for those who don’t know. There are now a plethora of e-book readers out there which is good! People reading is always good. Except when it is a pirated book.

Back to that first scenario. You buy an e-book and you love it so you send the electronic format via email to all of your friends. Who then send it to their friends. And by the end of the year, umpteen have read it yet that same author has sold one book. And this time, those that perhaps wanted to keep it, can. They can send out copies vs the original.

Just so you know, that is illegal. In nearly all cases, all e-books are copyrighted and cannot be copied except as a backup copy for your own use.

But e-book piracy goes further. There are website specifically set up to display books for free. Tons of books. Sometimes an author’s entire collection. Sometimes even scanned in copies of printed books. This happens a lot. And it is all so very illegal.

People say it is good for the author. It spreads her name around and people buy her books. But do they? Why should they, really, when it will be up free just like this one?

In Big Name Publishing, they may not notice the sales difference. And unless they have a dedicated staff to track down these sites and watch them for pirated book re-distribution, they don’t do anything about it. But with lesbian fiction being such a niche market (read: small), we notice.

Like I said, people reading books is good. People reading illegal books is not. The author is trying to make a living, the publisher too. The editor. The cover artist. The distributor. The bookstore. All of these people depend on sales of books. But if the book is being given away free by the thousands (yes, thousands), it is noticed.

Work is being done to educate readers. Many have no clue it is illegal. Many think they are doing the author a favor by reading her book. And while myself and others think it is wonderful, we wish you had paid for that book. Else, we may decide to go flip burgers instead and you’ll not get to read another by us, paid for or not.

Karin Kallmaker, a wonderful writing and an advocate for fighting book piracy, has had several posts about this. And she says it much better than I do. As a writer of many books (vs my one), she has a vested interest in getting this stopped. Her way with words is amazing and she puts forth the problem both subtle and with the grace of a Mack truck trying to the next drop before the timer runs out. Here are some of her posts, in chronological order:

    Pirates Avast!
    Ye Olde Myths of Piracy
    Lesbian Fiction Fans—To the Rescue?
    Sunday, Day of Leisure
    “Appropriate Royalties” are Paid?
    No Bang. Lots of Whimpering.

So if you frequent any of those places. If you don’t see a problem with uploading or downloading pirated (ie stolen) books, then, well, I feel sorry for you. Karma’s a bitch and some day it and the law will catch up to you.

And Now, Something Serious

My brother sent me a link to something which led me to search for something else which led me to yet something else. Amazing thing, this Internet.

Bro sent me a link to Fagbug.com, a site dedicated to a victim of a (mild form of) hate crime. Erin Davies had her car vandalized because she had a rainbow sticker on it. No other reason. They wrote “fag” and “u r gay” on her Volkswagen Beetle. Hence the “fagbug” term. She got mad (yes!) and drove around the US and parts of Canada with the graffiti still on the car. There’s a documentary about her journey, some cool stickers, and some t-shirts to support anti-hate crime groups.

What got me on a search was that her car was vandalized on the 11th Annual National Day of Silence (2007). One, I hate it when I hear about ‘day/year/month of’ events the day after, at the end of the month, or near the end of the year. Two, that day was the ELEVENTH and I’d never ever heard of it. So I looked it up. The National Day of Silence (it is April 16th this year) is geared toward schools to stop verbal and physical bullying toward LGBT kids.

The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year the event has grown, now with hundreds of thousands of students coming together to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior.

That site (and it’s great!) led me to Think Before You Speak. This site is dedicated to word usage that is degrading to others. Such as using words like ‘fag’ and ‘dyke’ and phases such as ‘that’s so gay’. I’d heard that phrase many times but wasn’t sure what it meant exactly. I knew it wasn’t a good thing but it wasn’t an all out bad thing either. They have some public service announcements that make it clear just what it means. My fave is the one with Wanda Sykes. They also have doohickeys to add to websites and posters you can download. I like the posters a lot, especially the That’s so “Cheerleader who can’t like, say smart stuff” one. (posters are at the bottom of the page)

Frankly, it is about time something is done about bullying in school. Because it has always happened, it’s just become accepted, a kind of rite of passage. Except some kids don’t make it through. Some kids, like Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover can’t take it anymore and commit suicide. At age 11, Carl hung himself. Eleven years old. Think about that. Any time an 11 yr old kid kills himself because he was being daily bullied and humiliated, that ain’t normal. It should never be accepted. Sadly, Carl wasn’t the only one. There were at least four other middle school age kids who committed suicide due to constant bullying.

You a kid? Stop bullying. When you see someone doing it or suffering it, step in. Yeah, you’ll get bullied, too, but now there’s two of you. Talk to your friends and soon there’ll be more of you. Make it stop. It is easier to stop bullying than it is to attend a funeral.

You an adult? What the fuck are we doing? Carl’s mom repeatedly talked to the school, trying to get them to do something about the bullying. Nothing was ever done. Carl had to die to make it stop. We need to talk to our kids, our nieces and nephews, our neighbors, our friends’ kids. We need to make them aware that bullying isn’t good for anyone. It doesn’t matter if a kid is being bullied because they are small or because they are Hispanic or fat or smart or dumb or whatever. Feeling belittled for whatever reason feels the same.

More On Custody Case

I’m in love. I found an article today in the Washington Post about the Jenkins/Miller custody battle. And I’m in love with the article writer, Petula Dvorak. Why? Read the excerpts below:

Miller told Newsweek two years ago that letting Isabella live with Jenkins would be like giving her child to the milkman.

Well, yeah — if you lived with the milkman, made love to him, bought a house with him, entered a civil union with him at a quaint resort blanketed in snow and bedecked with greenery, sat through fertility treatments that he helped pay for, let him catch the baby as you pushed and shared midnight burping and diaper duties — it would be just like giving your child to the milkman.

(…)

Miller has a right to her beliefs, certainly, but she also has a moral and legal obligation to keep the people who love Isabella and are legally bound to her in her life.

Miller’s legal team said in court that a move to Vermont, with a new school and new friends, would be disruptive for a 7-year-old.

And going into hiding isn’t?

I think it’ll be a lot trickier to explain to a child why one mommy is in jail than why another mommy likes girls.

Lisa Miller, come out of hiding and face this like a mom.

Sigh. I wish I could write like that. Oh, wait, I do! That’s why I love this writer so much. She’s a sarcastic smartypants who is not afraid to say it like it is. May we be a breed that never dies.

Rights vs Privileges

I recently read about a couple who had a civil union in VT. They’d previously lived in VA. After being together for several years, they decided to have a baby. One of them became pregnant via artificial insemination and gave birth to a daughter. Then, a little over a year later, the couple splits and the mother (Miller) moves to VA. She seeks to have the civil union dissolved and the partner (Jenkins) agrees. In court, the birth mother acknowledges that the other is considered a parent to the child.

Perfectly normal situation. People marry, have kids, divorce, argue over the kids, etc. It happens a lot.

Should it matter that the couple in this case are both women? Their VT civil union makes them as legal a couple as one with mixed-gender couples. The non-birth mother has the same rights as a non-birth father in the case of artificial insemination.

Except this case has exploded and dragged on for years. Miller has continually denied Jenkins visitation rights despite the court orders. On and on it has gone until finally, fed up, the VT judge grants Jenkins custody based on Miller’s continual contempt of court. Now Miller, who is an “ex-gay” and an Evangelical Christian, has disappeared with the kid.

The Virginia appeals court and state supreme court have all said that their Vermont civil union, at least in terms of the child custody, should be honored. Virginia has a law that specifically does not recognize same gender marriages/civil unions from other states. However, due to other federal laws designed to keep a parent from abducting children, they cannot ignore that Jenkins has legal rights as the other parent. The federal supreme court refused to hear the case.

Vermont law says that Jenkins has the same rights as the non-biological father in artificial insemination. The judge, the same judge has been with the case since it first started, is known as a conservative but a strict follower of the law. He granted Miller custody in the beginning but stipulated that, like any divorce and custody case, Jenkins is to be allowed visitation. Jenkins’ parents live close to where Miller lives. She traveled to VA every weekend for a long time although most times Miller wouldn’t let her see the kid or wouldn’t allow unsupervised visits. Miller even got VA Social Services involved saying the kid was acting wrong after any unsupervised visits. The case workers could find nothing wrong. Imagine that.

There’s a lot on the ‘net about this case. There’s rumors that when Miller’s attorneys next meet with the VT judge he will slap them with contempt of court charges. They’ve not made any statement about the location of Miller. I’ve been keeping up with it, hoping that Miller shows up and honors the court order. Today, I see an article titled “Custody Case Highlights Artificiality of Same Sex Marriage“. I should have known better than to click it but, alas, I did.

The article continually bounces back and forth, presenting facts one minute and propaganda the next. I prefer articles about facts with some emotional aspects and opinions thrown in to keep me interested. Another article, “Who’s Your Daddy? Or Your Other Daddy? Or Your Mommy?” deals with parental rights and mentions three twisted cases.

In comes down to this, in my opinion: We cannot ask for the cake and then ignore the calories. There, I said it.

We ask for equal rights (it’s on our agenda, ya know) and that includes the right to marry. And with the right to marry comes the right to divorce. And the right to have a nasty divorce. And to argue over who really owns that fugly lamp that cost far too much money. Yet, divorce is not something we discuss. For millennia, a marriage certificate was the signature on the UHaul rental contract and divorce meant we got boxes and moved out. Not any more. Boxes won’t do it. We demanded the right for equal rights in marriage now we need to demand the right for equal rights in divorce.

The Gay Agenda and Stonewall

It seems that there really and truly is one. Not the joke one (which I found a looong, quite Queeny version and finally the shorter, better version) but a real one.

I started some research because I once again saw that phrase “gay agenda” and wanted to know more about it.

I did a Google search. There’s a news clearing house place called Gay Agenda, by the way.

Next was Wikipedia with an article titled “homosexual agenda“. That’s where I hit pay dirt. It was first used in 1992 so it is a fairly new term and has been used a lot since then. But I was really intrigued by this:

In 2003 Alan Sears and Craig Osten, president and vice-president of the Alliance Defense Fund, an American conservative Christian non-profit organization, offered another characterization:

It is an agenda that they basically set in the late 1980s, in a book called After the Ball,[15] where they laid out a six-point plan for how they could transform the beliefs of ordinary Americans with regard to homosexual behavior — in a decade-long time frame…. They admit it privately, but they will not say that publicly. In their private publications, homosexual activists make it very clear that there is an agenda. The six-point agenda that they laid out in 1989 was explicit:

1. Talk about gays and gayness as loudly and as often as possible(…)
2. Portray gays as victims, not as aggressive challengers(…)
3. Give homosexual protectors a just cause(…)
4. Make gays look good(…)
5. Make the victimizers look bad(…)
6. Get funds from corporate America(…)[1]

After the Ball[15] is a book published in 1989 by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen. It argues that after the gay liberation phase of the 1970s and 1980s, gay rights groups should adopt more professional public relations techniques to convey their message. It was published by Doubleday and was generally available.

According to a Christian Broadcasting Network article by Paul Strand, Sears and Osten argue that After the Ball follows from “a 1988 summit of gay leaders in Warrenton, Virginia, who came together to agree on the agenda” and that

“the two men (Kirk and Madsen) proposed using tactics on ‘straight’ America that are remarkably similar to the brainwashing methods of Mao Tse-Tung’s Communist Chinese — mixed with Madison Avenue’s most persuasive selling techniques.”[16]

(source)

There is a real agenda. A 6-point list and everything! How cool is that!

But there’s a problem. If that is “our” agenda, it is kinda boring. I mean, isn’t that what religious groups have been doing for eons? Can’t we come up with something more original? Replace ‘gay’ with ‘Christian’ or ‘Baptist’ and you’ve got what I was being taught by the Baptist Student Union way back in ’85. (golly, that was nearly 25 yrs ago! i am so old)

I have a theory. Ready for it?

I think that as long as we LGBTQ folks keep being wusses, we ain’t ever gonna get civil rights. We keep trying one state at a time, quietly, somberly, accepting defeat after defeat. Sure, there’s civilized protests, there’s crying, there’s bitching and moaning. But there’s no real action. We need to be uncivilized. We need to stop crying, bitching, and moaning and DO something.

What if folks had voted to take blacks’ right to vote away? What if they were given that right only to lose it again, gain it again, lose it here and gain it there? Do you think for one single second they would be raising money for the next attempt? Making YouTube videos and Twitter-ing? Hell to the no! There’d be riots, protests, screaming anger in the streets. Blacks gained their rights because they truly believed they were entitled to them. As a group, they’d had enough and fought. Where’s the gay version of King? Of Rosa Parks? Of even Malcom X? Where’s our Maya Angelou? Our Jackie Robinson?

We queers need another Stonewall. We need another riot in the streets. We need to stand up and shout. Loudly. We need to come out of the closets and make our real numbers known. If every person who was truly gay were to wake up in the morning with purple skin, I betcha there’d be some changes. We wouldn’t be able to hide anymore. Our Clark Kent Cloak would be gone and we’d be forced to DO something. With hiding comes the luxury of civility and silence. We can’t afford either of those anymore.

There are groups out there who are Doing. There’s Soulforce but, bless their hearts, they are just too polite even while being arrested. UFMCC had great potential to do more but lacked the initiative gumption care balls/ovaries. (noooo, I’m not still bitter and angry)

Our agenda is wrong. If it is true that they come up with this Great Plan, then they must be have thought it would not take this long. ‘Cause it ain’t working. It is too gentle. It set the stage for us to continue to be gentle and polite and oh so civilized. We need to stop doing that. We need some queen to smack a cop with her purse again. We need a dyke to get fed up with being screamed at by women in the ladies room thinking she’s a guy. We need to put down the Wall Street Journal and take up the On Our Backs. We need to turn the television off of L Word and go outside to the Real World. We need to stop planning and be spontaneous. We need to stop blending in and stand out.

We need another Stonewall.