The so-called Democratic debate

Even with my policy of not following the news or keeping up with the latest political fiasco I found myself listening to the second democratic debate. Joe Biden sounded like a paranoid patient in a retirement home with the same fake tan of a California body builder. Kamala Harris let her ghetto side out and started to “keep it real” as she attacked her opponents. Andrew Yang’s microphone kept being turned off. Pete received all the attention from NBC like he was on a date from Grinder. Then there was Bernie Sanders standing on a soap box muttering his nonsense like he was at the park hoping for loose change to be thrown into his hat.
The Democratic debate, round two, was as much of a disappointment as I expected it to be. There was the hippie chick that talked about defeating Trump with love, whatever the fuck that means, and Biden wouldn’t know what a gun was if he pulled one out of his ass. The issues were kept on subjects that have been argued about for the last thirty years and have nothing to do with the current state of the country. The party as a whole is a lost cause.
We will end up have another four years of Trump, as incompetent as he is, he has a fan base that will blindly follow him as the country goes over the edge into an abyss, we will not find ourselves out of. The joke four years ago was that ten people running for president as Republicans was too much, a sign they didn’t have anybody qualified for the job and yet one person was able to beat Hillary Clinton out of the bunch. The sad thing is that regardless of who ends up running against trump the party will not come together to vote him out of office. There was nobody on stage worth voting into office. Granted a lot of this is the result of the press running the debate, something that needs to change if there is going to be any real progress in the country. I had to wait on YouTube as the station ran their adds and kept the candidates limited to their responses. Andrew Yang might have had three minutes to talk the entire evening. Meanwhile Biden, Bernie, and Harris were given several minutes apiece. Pete was treated like the stations darling as he spoke in different languages and bragged about his time overseas. The debate, like any political arena, was rigged. Questions were designed to accommodate certain people and others were left out of the discussion. Just like 2016 the party had an agenda to keep certain people from being noticed.
I don’t know where things will go from here. Harris handed Biden his ass and he never realized it fell off. Bernie sounded like a broken record in front of an audience who didn’t know what records are. Pete sounds good but try running a gay man against the Christian right and see how far that will get you. I wanted one person who would tell Trump to “go fuck himself” but that isn’t going to happen with the bunch of impotent morons running for office. There were no answers for immigration. The gun debate is a dead horse they continue to beat. Healthcare is a joke. While they are talking about half of this stuff it becomes obvious that they are disconnected from the country. Trump, for all of his idiotic comments, kept it simple and had a phrase to rally around. The democrats are like the Occupy Wall Street movement, unorganized with a list of hundreds of demands trying to say that all of them are equally important. They are the ADD child that can not accomplish anything because they are too busy moving onto the next thing. The democratic party has nothing to focus on except for Trump and doing that only puts more spotlights on Trump. The left has nothing to offer and if this keeps going the way that it is the country as a whole will have nothing to offer the rest of the world.

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Early 1930s Smith-Corona portable

I came across this little portable yesterday while trying to ignore a hole in my mouth from a tooth that was pulled. In an antique shop out of town I spotted a burgundy Smith-Corona with a tiny medallion on the ribbon cover. Its medallion stood out to me and I could remember that it meant something but not exactly what it was. There wasn’t a label for Silent, Silent Super, or Standard. I was at a loss for what it was.
I bought the Smith-Corona and carried it out in its case that still had the original leather covered handle. The carriage worked, there was some scratching from the ribbon cover not being put all the way down before typing, and the platen is rock hard. At home I had a better look at my find and found that most of the body was in great shape and the machine worked smoothly only needing some dust cleaned out.

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Smith-Corona with a layer of turtle wax.

This morning I rubbed a layer of turtle wax on the body and let it sit for 30 minutes before polishing it to a shine. Some of the keys were bent and whomever owned it last was a little rough on this machine. Who am I kidding? It was probably some kids smashing their fingers against the keys at the antique mall.
The Smith-Corona now has a new shine to it. I learned that the medallion was put on the machine to mark the first portable model made by Smith-Corona after the two companies merged together. It didn’t have a name yet and I learned that they made 350 silver bodied models in that first batch. The article also talked about how these machines were likely melted down for the silver and who knows how many still exist. I will likely try to sell the Smith-Corona. While it is a beautiful machine, I already have the ones that I truly enjoy. There is the Remington portable model 1, an Underwood four bank, and of course the Hermes 3000 that sit on my shelves. Should the burgundy Smith-Corona find a home here? Only time will tell.

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Typewriters: portables versus desktops

It is not everyday you hear someone try to argue the benefits of working on a desktop typewriter, the clunky, heavy, space demanding writing utensils that collect dust in the local antique shops, but I’m willing to give it a shot.
I have been writing on typewriters for a few years now and while I own both portables and desktops I have to say I prefer the desktops. These are a difficult thing to collect and an even harder thing to sell. The space taken is more than the series of carrying cases that neatly fit onto a shelf. One has to be careful when stacking desktop models because the return levers can break when thirty pounds is dropped onto them. The sheer weight of the machines is enough to turn anybody off considering that once you put the thing down you don’t ever want to move it again.
Now that we have all the complaints out of the way lets talk about the benefits of desktops shall we. I have come across most of the highly sought after typewriters in our subculture and typed on them all. While we look at the cross between visual appeal and function I will be concentrating on function. The best machine I ever typed on, and still own, is a 1947 Royal KMG. It was a machine well maintained for a typing class in a rural classroom. Under the paper shelf the dates of maintenance were written in crayon and the platen is still soft. After hours of work being done on this machine I have never had a problem with it. The keys never stick and I can type 70-80 words a minute without a problem.
The next machine on the list of desktops I enjoy would be the older sister, the later 1930s Royal KMM. The noticeable difference between these models is the round keys on the KMM instead of the tombstone keys and the KMM is black instead of grey. Other than those differences the machines work almost identical and when working on the KMM I also had no issues with the machine. The typeface is larger and therefore each line fits fewer works but I guess it all depends on what you are looking for in your manuscript.
My fondness has carried on in the Royal family. The HH and the FP came my way in the last year and while they are built internally much like their predecessors the outside bodies are much different. The HH has green plastic keys that you will usually find missing from machines out in the wild. While the bodies are durable the keys were not made as well. The FP on the other hand was more stylish and had color options for the paint. Gray is the usual color you will find these in and with the other changes made in design you will find square keys much like a computer keyboard. The action of a FP is similar to the KMG in the sense that it runs smooth and has no issues while typing.
These machines were built to be work horses. They took a pounding for decades and still keep going with little or no maintenance needed. To only issues I have ever come across is the use of correction ribbon and eraser bits jamming the comb and other parts. Like a car this is due more to operator error than a problem with the machine. I have come across machines that had bent rods and other issues that were easily fixed and had the machine working like new when the seller had a sign on it saying, For Parts Only. Nothing is made these days that works as well or is as loyal as a Royal. My last laptop computer lasted ten years before the hard drive burned out. My 1947 KMG will never stop working unless I run out of ribbon because it is no longer produced. I should probably stock up.
Some of my complaints about portable typewriters feed into my love of desktops. When I’m writing on my Hermes 3000 I hate how the machine turns and slides as I move the return lever over. Sure, it’s light weight and looks cool when you are at the local bar but I hate it when I have to readjust the machine to keep writing. With a desktop this isn’t an issue, it stays in place and doesn’t move. You and the machine are stuck in place only concentrating on the work.
The desktop makes your writing area into what it is. It won’t be moved. That place has one purpose and one purpose only. There is no other use for a typewriter. When you place a desktop on a table or a desk that space only has one purpose after that.
The desktop is a machine of power, it demands respect and attention. It is the muscle car of the typewriter world. It may not be small, light weight and fast like some Japanese rice burner. The almighty desktop, the heavy boat anchor that sits in the back of the antique shop, is the one machine that if treated properly will be your best friend for life. Some say that a dog is man’s best friend. I am allergic to dogs and while I am a writer I have found that the best substitute is a nice heavy desktop typewriter.

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The Myths of Self-Publishing

Before you go out and try to publish your first book there are few things that you should know. This shit is hard. There are people who will try to sell you things with adds that say they guarantee sales and that you will be able to leave your job in no time. My advice, do your homework. I came across an article about a self-publishing school that will teach you how to have a best seller. There were examples of how a college dropout became rich and now has several bestselling books on places like amazon. Curious, I went to amazon and looked up this man’s books. All of the titles were the same thing, how to become a best-selling author, how to become a successful author, how to make money writing short books, and the list went on and on. He didn’t write the great American novel, or go through the pain of writing a dozen novels in the hopes that one of them would take off, propelling him to stardom. He wrote a book on how to write a book about writing books.
Self-publishing has become a cesspool of predatory scammers who prey on the hopes and dreams of people that want a different life, taking their money with no guarantee of a return. If their system doesn’t work then you must have done something wrong. We have seen this before, the companies that would print your books but you have to sell them and put the work in. While you have boxes of books you were talked into buying, they have your money and eventually the books, like your dreams, rot away.
Sure, there is success. The people who put in the time, the ones that figured out how to build a fan base through other means. There are YouTube stars that are best selling authors now. Podcast host plug their book to an audience they built up over years. There is even a self-publishing podcast with two host, one traditional author and a new indie author that is still working on his first book, that explain how to be a successful author. The catch is the indie author will be a success, he built his fan base over several years and they will buy his book. They plug ideas about spending ungodly amounts of money on advertising, plugging sites you have to pay for to have your book seen, in the meantime the real selling point is the podcast itself.
Either road you take will be hard. You can spend years trying to find an agent or go the self-publishing route finding disappointment with only one or two readers here or there for your books, hi mom. In the meantime, watch out for the scam artist who make promises and try to make you think things are easier than they are.
There was a podcast I used to listen to. The woman had guests on that had become successful in self-publishing and over the years she learned, like her listeners, how to promote books and make a living at self-publishing. I had a conversation with her during a time she was trying to figure out how to monetize her podcast. I said the best way for her to sell a course on self-publishing was to do the work herself. Have a product that shows the process works. She stated that it was too hard, she already tried it and didn’t want to write another book only to be disappointed. Welcome to the world of the writer. Don’t try to sell something that you are unwilling to do yourself. I stopped listening to the show and it went through a renaming, podcasting overhaul, and as far as I know it no longer exist.
Everyone is jumping on this band wagon these days and having your book seen is even harder with a flood of people promised riches while unable to figure out how their world changing vampire manga serial killer romantic thriller isn’t being optioned by every studio on the planet. Here is a lesson for you, write your book for you, edit so that somebody else can read it, and in the end let the readers decide if it’s something they like. In the meantime, work on your next book. Most of the titles you will find on amazon are the only books that person wrote, leaving after their hopes were dashed with nobody lining up to buy it. Your competition is literally a bunch of losers that gave up. If you want to stand out keep on working.
I had some success with one of my first books. I made some money and kept writing. Since then nothing has happened. I have 18 books on amazon and while the majority of them remain unread I keep writing, not for the money or the hopes of becoming the next Hemingway, but because I enjoy it. If you think this is an easy way out of your current situation then get out now, go to Wallstreet, the writing world is not for you. Stay away from the money hungry leeches on the web and hang out with real like-minded people to keep going. Save your money because in this industry everyone is out to take the little that you have.

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Jordan Peterson solves the Twitter problem

Appropriately enough, Jordan Peterson announced on Twitter that he is backing the formation of a new platform called Thinkspot. There are several hopes and purposes for this platform, providing a town forum where people can comment and have conversations without the threat of being banned or kicked off, and a new payment system to replace Patreon after they started banning creators due to public outcry. The internet is still the wild west and Peterson just started a new town with its own rules and a new sheriff. Criticism has already started to flood in through various news outlets claiming that Peterson will be shadow banning users from having their comments seen in threads. What they fail to see is that this policy solves the Twitter problem. Twitter will remove a person from their platform completely if comments are made that violate their policies, however policies are always changing and they are not uniformly enforced across the platform. Thinkspot has two things going for it that take this kind of policing out of the equation. Users will have to pay to participate, that alone will eliminate many trolls from using the site. Comments will be voted on by other members as to their importance in the conversation. If you have more likes you move up to the top of the thread, if you have move dislikes you move down likely never to be seen. People paying for a site will have an interest to have less of their time spent reading trolling comments and want more content in line with what the conversation is about. To survive on the site like this, trolls will either have to be creative and funny or have a valid point that other people will recognize. Posting comments like “your mom should have swallowed” will likely disappear and the thrill of being a douchebag on the internet will disappear on this site.
People I know have compared Thinkspot to Reddit but I have a feeling that the subjects discussed will be more concentrated on certain subjects as opposed to having everything under the sun discussed. In a sense Thinkspot might have brought democracy to the internet. It acknowledges that not every voice is equal, especially if someone is speaking without any substance behind their words, and the public can choose as to who is able to be heard more. This could literally be the opposite of our current news channels where the person who brings in ratings has more airtime. The users have a hand in filtering comments and therefore have a better experience online without needing to shuffle through garbage to find a gem.
I hope that more sites like this are created in the future, I can’t imagine that they won’t. even with Donald trump being the poster boy of Twitter the company has failed to make a profit in the last three years. Facebook might want to lookout as well. They haven’t made any friends with their policies over the past three years and with their involvement in the last election its not difficult to see why. I can’t see the Kremlin investing in infiltrating a site like Thinkspot only to have their content shuffled to the bottom of the feed and never seen.
The big question is whether or not people will be willing to pay to use a site like this. I am already on the waiting list and hope to have an invite to the beta version. If Facebook and Twitter have no interest in fixing their sites its nice to see that an alternative is on the way. Welcome to the new town of the Dark web. Read a book, have something to say, or your voice will not matter.

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Let the shootings begin

The same year I moved into my house there was a series of fatal shootings across the city. I was looking for a new job in the hospital because my hours had gone to shit and I wanted something different. The nurses on my old unit were complete bitches that had nothing better to do than start rumors and enact draconian rules on the cleaning staff letting us know we were not like them. One of the unit clerks, a young black girl named Kesha, was pregnant and we would have lunch together because we didn’t want to be stuck with the wenches on the floor. Soon I was declared the baby daddy even though I knew the father and worked with him for over a year at the hospital. The staff knew this too but a white guy and a black girl eating lunch and talking can only mean one thing…
I wasn’t in my house long before I learned how rowdy the neighborhood can get. There were fist fights, stabbings, windows being broken, and open prostitution on the corner. My wife and I had met a couple from the street over and were enjoying some drinks in the back yard when we heard the gunshots. Craig and I went out front to check it out and saw two girls and a guy walking in front of the house. Then the girl in the middle fell to the pavement and they picked her up carrying her to a house. We would learn later that the girl had been shot, by accident. A car from the north side of town had driven through the southside and a guy standing on the corner took notice. He pulled his gun and shot at the car as it drove by, missing the car completely but hitting the girl half a block down walking home from school. The girl lived and a few days later the shooter was found in hiding in the town of Galesburg, a white community that bragged about shagging sheep and who’s sister was the hottest. It was the perfect town for a young black man to hide in. the girl who was shot would later go on TV and declare that she forgave the shooter because he didn’t mean to shoot her and that it was an accident.
A week or two later another shooting happened, this time on Reed St. there was a birthday party happening and while the celebration was taking place in the backyard, the birthday boy sat at a picnic table enjoying the food and company when two young men walked up behind him and shot him in the back of the head. The body was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The back of his skull had been blown wide open and there was zero chance of saving him. The people working the ER at the time were John and Cassie. The family had arrived to the ER and were demanding to view the body. The staff tried to tell them “you don’t want to see him like this” but after hearing “fuck you” a few times the staff changed their minds. Some of the nurses went into the room and started cleaning things up to make it ore presentable and John was asked if he could help with the clean-up. The pool of blood on the floor was the biggest concern. John went in with a mop and started removing the blood. The cords to the EKG machine and pulse Ox got in the way and John bumped the stretcher. Something heavy hit his foot and when he looked down there was the sight of a human brain resting on his shoe. The scream that followed was described as that “of a girl” and one of the nurses turned around to see John throwing the mop and unable to move. “get it off, get it off, get it off.” The nurse ran over and soccer kicked the brain off John’s shoe and watched him leap out of the room yelling “I’m done, I’m done, I’m done.” He left the ER and went straight to the supervisor’s office to tell them to put him somewhere else. That was how I ended up working the ER.
I took the job on second shift and left the General Medical Unit. The hours weren’t the best but I figured the ER staff were too busy to be bitches. This place was a whole new ball game. It was fast paced. You didn’t get a lunch and had to snack when you could. I quickly learned that the city had more shootings in a week than were reported on the news. Between the patients and the staff there was always entertainment. To work in an ER is to have a reckless personality and a need for adrenaline. Partying was a way of life and the same people who referred to bikers as organ donors also rode motorcycles in their spare time. There was a desire for adventure and everyone, married or not, was fair game. This would be my home for the next couple of years.

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The rumble in the jungle

I got into the habit of paintballing cars that drove by my house with loud stereo systems blaring. If my windows shook, you got a new paintjob. It wasn’t difficult to time the shots with the bass and nobody ever noticed as they sat at the stop sign trying to figure out where to cruise next.
Spring was here again and the cars were out loosening the foundation of every house they drove past and I sat on the porch with a pump action paintball gun waiting for my next victim. A 1980s Chevy Oldsmobile drove past and sat at the stop sign for a few minutes. The back of the car was covered in green paint that stood out with the beige color of the car. Once I was out of paintballs the stereo was turned off and I wondered if they had heard the thuds of the paintballs. The car turned the corner and stopped on the intersecting street in full view of my house. I sat and waited. Was I finally caught? Was this going to turn into a street fight?
The guy stepped out of the car and went to a house where he was greeted on the porch and hung out for thirty minutes. When he went back to his car, he walked around the back admiring his vehicle until he saw the new green paint that had been added.
“What the fuck!” he yelled as he tried to wipe off the dry paint that had sat there too long. “Oh hell no, some motherfucker paintballed my car. Motherfucker! I know who did this. I’m going to get that motherfucker.” The man jumped in his car and sped off down the street. I grabbed more paintballs from inside the house and waited for the next car.
A few days later there were sirens and flashing lights reflecting through the neighborhood. One street over smoke ascended into the air as a fire raged at 6 am. I learned later from some neighbors that a car had been firebombed and the whole thing was a loss. It looked like something you would see in Somalia or after a riot. The next week things became even more crazy.
The beige car was back with new chrome rims and the green paint was gone. It parked in the same spot as before and I sat on the porch reading a book. An hour later all hell broke loose. A different man, tall and skinny wearing a black wife beater, walked over to the car screaming all kinds of incoherent gibberish, and proceeded to smash out the windows, headlights, tail lights, he kicked in the doors and jumped on the hood. The grill was ripped out by his bare hands. When the police finally arrived, he was trying to tear the rims off the car.
The police stepped out and walked towards the man. “having a bad day?” and officer asked.
“bad day? Am I having a motherfuckin bad day? Ya I’m having a bad day.”
“Is this your car?”
“Hell no, it ain’t my car.”
“Whose car is it?”
“This motherfucker shoots up my momma’s house. So, I shoot up his fuckin house. Then he comes over and sets my motherfuckin car on fire. He burned my fucking car so I’m fucking his shit up.”
“where is he at?”
“he went out with some other guys to buy beer.”
“You think he’s going to be pissed when he gets back?”
“Fuck ya!”
They talk for a few more minutes. I have to give the cops credit, they just talked to the guy. He committed some felonies; the other guys committed some felonies. I guess the question was, who do you arrest in a situation like this. The cops left. They didn’t arrest the guy. They had to wait and see if the other guy wanted to press charges. Odds were he wasn’t going to call. The guy in the wife beater left and I continued to sit on the porch and wait for the next chapter of the story to unfold. This was like watch Days of our lives on crack.
A hour later, with the car sitting on the side of the street in pieces the group of guys came back to the party with their drinks.
“What the FUCK!” and the rumble in the jungle continued.

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