The Catch 22 of Journalism

An idea came to me recently and for some reason I felt the urge to follow it to its ultimate conclusion of disappointment. There is a debated scheduled for April 19th between Jordan B Peterson and Slovaj Zizek regarding Happiness: Capitalism vs Marxism and it’s being broadcast live online. The idea that came to me was covering the event for a magazine or some kind of online source. While it has been a while since I have done such a thing, the last I can remember is the series of articles I wrote about my daughter being born and staying in the NICU for 90 days, I realized that things like this are not being covered by the media anymore. I never saw a write up about the two times that Peterson had a discussion with Sam Harris, a sold-out event with millions of views online.
I thought about the historical aspect of magazines over the years and the part they played in cultural events. Rolling Stone once featured writers like Hunter S Thompson and David Foster Wallace. Esquire had the rebuttle to the Buckley and Vidal debate where the men continued their argument in the pages of their magazine. I could go on but let’s be honest and say that magazines played a big role in out culture during the last century.
When I did a little bit of research into what magazines would cover a story like Peterson vs Zizek I was stunned to find none. I knew things had gotten bad but I didn’t think it was that bad. Rolling Stone is now a victim of the click bate bullshit market and I have a feeling it will go the way of the dodo soon. Esquire has become the homepage of the SJW propaganda for men, not real men, just the men who hang out in the crowd and still try to get laid without appearing aggressive about it. Let’s face it they don’t get laid. Maxim is click bate with testosterone. GQ I can’t figure out, it says its for men but more like what women want men to look like while complaining they no longer look like men. The Atlantic, well the Atlantic appears to be real journalism but has never touched the subject of Jordan Peterson.
When I reached out to these magazines the first night was a complete waste of time. I spent an hour writing the query or pitch email and when I hit send I received a reply right away from the Rolling Stone address stating the inbox was full. The Atlantic got back to me but decided they would pass, I wasn’t surprised. With no responses from other magazines I have come to the conclusion that I am on my own.
A part of me can not blame them for this. Recently the New York Times published an investigative piece into the financial history of Donald Trump. The piece took over a year to put together and write. It was the top story for a day, one day. Then Trump tweeted something stupid and everyone forgot. A year’s worth of work had been forgotten before it was really discussed. It’s our fault, and the media’s fault for what is happening. Our brains have become soft, obese things that no longer function as they should. They live on a shitty diet of click bate and victim porn that only makes us more lazy and less likely to think. We have done this to ourselves snacking all day on garbage instead of sitting down to have a meal.
Media has forgotten what made it worth watching. There were talented writers that brought the reader in and hooked them to finish the story asking the question “where are you taking me.” Instead articles are limited to 50-500 word sound bites that only give the reader enough to feel like they know what is going on and in all likelihood giving them a dose of bullshit. In depth reporting is a thing of the past and out society is feeding off the same circle of trash that it once despised. Media is eating itself into a grave.
I have to think that somebody out there is trying to stay relevant and not go down the rabbit hole of fake readership numbers, click bate, and SJW porn that is the new chic. Trends come and go but if you are running adds that appear sexist or patriarchal good luck having those readers come to your page. And if you stop running those adds you aren’t making money. Welcome to the catch 22 of journalism, try to attract your readers while not offending them. Good fucking luck.
Two great minds from opposing worlds are going to face off and talk about what should be the topic of the day. Our next election will likely have a far-right capitalist and a socialist of one form or another. These two ideas are going to be featured whether we like it or not and the country will have to decide which road to take without really thinking about it. The debate that is going to take place is the conversation we should be having but we don’t talk to one another. There was a time when our media would show a side to the public that had not been considered. Stories weren’t just written for shock value but to help the public think. These days thinking is not required and from what I can tell not desired for publication.
Rolling Stone was recently sold and the magazine overwent an overhaul. The biweekly publication changed to monthly and sections changed for the new management. The first cover featured a pregnant rapper and the man who might be her baby daddy. I say might because, well, we know how these things go.
Meanwhile, I have never seen Peterson on the cover of a magazine. A man who wrote a book selling 3 million copies with the idea of personal responsibility A self help book that put the responsibility of the individual in their hands sold 3 million copies, and nobody wants to talk about this. When you built your marketing model around selling victim porn the best thing to do is not sell responsibility or as I like to call it the social condom.
Maybe I should apologize at this point, I didn’t include a number in the title of my article. The subject wasn’t about sex or how men fucked up the world. The story didn’t have an equal number of women in the topic. Instead of focusing on one side the story would have included thoughts from both sides of the debate. The people the article was about have an education and deep background on the subjects they would be discussing. The story was clearly racist because it featured to middle aged white males. Did I mention the two guys are straight?
Our media is fucked and until somebody stands up and says we are no longer publishing garbage it will continue this way. On our end we need to stop looking at the bullshit they are feeding us and demand some kind of real content. I remember a time when writing was a skill not something that could be mass produce from a sweat shop in idea. It is only a matter of time until our news article sound like the customer service rep from a cell phone company. We will see names like John Smith, Jim Anderson, and Mike Dunhill writing our story with stock photos used to show people who are not real. Companies will write articles for women to sell items with titles like: top 10 eye liner colors, the three sexiest outfits to get him in bed, five ways to cook with butter, 1 in the loneliest number so come to match.cum.
I will still write my article. I still have my blog and I love all five of you for reading it. We might not have the media that we want but we do have the media that we deserve.

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Why the World Needs Jordan Peterson

I first came across Jordan Peterson on the Joe Rogan Experience. The college professor who made waves talking about free speech and fought against a bill that was going to be signed into law mandating language on a public who didn’t want it. Since then he has helped millions of people around the world through a commonsense program of personal responsibility and no non-sense lectures pointing out what man kind knew to be true only decades before. Somewhere along the way mankind lost its way and found itself in a desert without a compass or any hope of finding a way out.
As soon as I heard the first interview, I started to find Peterson’s lectures on YouTube and went down a rabbit hole that had my brain working again, asking questions like what was my purpose in life and could I really accomplish the goals that I had set out for myself. This came with the realization that other parts of my life needed to change and that up to this point I was responsible for my current position in life. Many people like to play the victim in the story of their life but when you learn that you can make a difference you are responsible for how your future turns out.
Peterson’s book was released last year and I went out and bought it for the cover price, something I never do, and ate the contents for a few weeks. Some of the things in it reminded me of choices I had made earlier in my life, stop hanging out with people who don’t have your best interest at heart. Clean your room, take care of yourself like you are somebody you are responsible for, and pet a cat when you see one are things I did back in my twenties but lost due to peer pressure by people who I thought knew better than me. This was a mistake I would come to regret and wonder why I didn’t listen to myself instead of people who were a complete mess in their own lives.
I followed the stories online regarding what was happening at universities with students demanding safe spaces and having people fired for not teaching what they thought was politically correct behavior. As a former college student, I remember seeing some of this coming down the pipeline with some of my professors talking about white privilege and trying to make a white trash child of the ghetto feel like I was at the top of the world while cleaning toilets to pay for tuition. Needless to say, the sociology class didn’t connect with me and the teacher had no idea what she was talking about, but she was a person in a position of power who could influence those that sat in her class.
People are not taught how to think for themselves anymore. Asking questions was taboo in class and debate was not an option when it came to discussing these ideas. It took a guy from Canada who said this is enough to make a dent in what had become the new normal on college campuses. The idea of arguing against what was the new standard had finally been brought to light and the world one all sides started to listen. Growing up I was taught to always listen to people in a position of authority while keeping in mind that if you were being told something morally or ethically wrong you should speak up. In my own life when I did this it never turned out good, for me. In the end the people with power are the ultimate judges of what is wrong and right and in the end these people are rarely found guilty of any wrongdoing, sometimes they are even rewarded. People tried to punish Peterson for speaking up and in the end, with his band of loyal followers and a press that continually failed to bring him down, it was Peterson that was rewarded for the work he was doing and not the establishment who was trying to design the world in their own dystopian way.
Changes to my own life happened as a result of Peterson’s work. I have a better job, less self-doubt than what I was raised with, I no longer hang out with people that don’t have my best interest at heart, and I try to take care of myself when I had given up and decided to just enjoy the food and drink because who knows what tomorrow will bring. This was a pessimistic view of the world that I still struggle with and I have to admit it is difficult to argue against with the type of people we have in charge. The world can feel like a truly gloomy place most of the time.
Looking back, I think Peterson hit his peak with the release of his book 12 rules for life. I hope this isn’t so. I know he is working on his next book with more rules and has been on tour for over a year now, and while I am glad he is out there still making a difference in people’s lives, I wonder how it will end. There have been a few great minds during my lifetime, Joseph Campbell, Christopher Hitchens, and now Jordan Peterson and while this may not apply to Campbell who died at old age, there is a tendency for these men to burn out and die earlier than anyone would like. I was watching a lecture that was recorded three days ago with Peterson where a man rushed the stage screaming that he was mentally ill and wanted to know Peterson better. This had me worried knowing that a person with Peterson’s stature will attract nutjobs and people who are mentally insane. Let’s not forget that John Lennon was shot by a fan.
The world needs Jordan Peterson and while that is easy to say the question I have is how much the world with get out of him. Has he already made his impact? Is there more for him to do? Clearly he thinks there is more to accomplish. The hours of YouTube material will be studied for years to come. I impact that one made has made so far in the world can never be measured. While he touched millions of people those fans will go out and do the same I their own communities and the message goes on from there. It would appear that I’m putting a lot of faith into Peterson and I am. This isn’t difficult to do considering what I can’t remember feeling better about myself because of changing my use of pronouns or the times I “checked my white privilege at the door.” These social justice policies have not made the world a better place and turned itself into a breeding ground for bullies and the socially inept. Someone finally spoke up and while people try to discredit Peterson because of his sex or race the easiest question to ask them is how racist can you be? Life isn’t a one-way street and thankfully those who oppose thinkers like Peterson only have control of a small part of the population. We need conversation. We need debate. There was a time when Gore Vidal and Buckley sat across from one another and had a conversation. There was a finical in our society that has declined to almost dueling status for the privilege of being right. The further we go into the future the more ideas regress into the primitive tribal behaviors of long ago. Bubbles need to be popped. Society can not function on victim porn. Men need to crawl out of the basements of their father’s house and make a road for themselves. The world is not a meme, it is a place to discover oneself and that journey is never over.

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Reading the Classics

A few months ago, I purchased a set of the Harvard Classics, also known at as the five-foot reading list. When the books are stacked, they are five feet tall. So far I have read The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, and the Dialogues of Plato. There are 50 books all together but well over a hundred titles that fill the volumes.
There are two books that cause me to cringe when I think about reading them. The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith and The Origin of Species by Darwin are some of the longest titles in the series and could be some of the dullest reading I will ever experience. Did Adam Smith consider how to make economics fun when he wrote his book, I doubt it. Stuck on a boat in the Pacific Ocean would be the best place for someone like Darwin to write about some birds out of boredom and accidently write a classic.
I always hated required reading when I was in school but I will point out that having high school students reading old English isn’t the best way to introduce the classics or good literature for that matter. I could not stand The Scarlett Letter and As I Lay Dying was only readable to those who were familiar with southern white trash. I met some of these characters later in life and had moments where I thought “oh I get it now.” I remember thinking to myself that no one could be that dumb and then life proved me wrong. As for the Scarlett Letter I saw more than my fair share of affairs over the years and the only thing missing was the culture of shame that didn’t exist. This kind of behavior had become a new normal in certain work environments.
In order for a great book to have staying power it has to be written in a way that it will hold up a hundred years after it was written. I often think about Gatsby for an example of this, having known men to fake their lifestyles in order to attract women who were not really into them. Since the Harvard Classics were printed in 1909 Gatsby is not on the list along with all the other classics written during the 20th century. I’m sure I can find a list for those later on.
Some of the classics I am having a difficult time with include poetry and plays, something I always considered separate from literature. I can think of a handful of writers who were successful play writes during their lives, A.A. Milne, Tennessee Williams, and Oscar Wilde all paid their bills by writing plays and having them be a success in the local theaters. For most of these men their fame was later remembered from other literary works like The Picture of Dorian Gray and the Winnie the Pooh series.
When I recently read The Inklings by Humphrey Carpenter, I learned how Tolkien and Lewis used poetry as a mental exercise for writing. Publishing such works was still common and people could make a living at it if they had talent. These days the readers don’t exist and writing such things is viewed at the intellectual version of writing rap lyrics in the ghetto, except less successful. While I say all of these horrible things about poetry I will admit there is an advantage to those who do it. It will expand vocabulary as you search for the right word for a line. There is a sense of rhythm that is missing from todays books and the only writers who still have this skill are slowly dying off. The symbolism and descriptions used in poetry is something that is missing from todays books. When a person writes a line such as “that morning he was dehydrated and his pee was the same color it would be an hour after taking a multivitamin” they could use a course or two of poetry.
I will eventually read The Wealth of Nations but I will always have in the back of my mind knowing that Smith lived with his mother, without a job, and was catered daily by her as he wrote. He was living the life of royalty with a serf caring for his needs while writing about capitalism. It would be like Ron Jeremy writing a book about celibacy and having it become a huge hit. The most interesting thing about Adam Smith’s book is that it is regarded as the standard for economics, and it would appear he was very bad at it and this was the only beacon of success he had in his life. I’m sure at some point an adult man still living with their parents, playing World of Warcraft or Minecraft, could write the next big book on relationships or personal responsibility. It could happen, I suppose.

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Losing my voice and finding it again

Last week I came down with a cold, that turned into a sinus infection, that turned into a throat infection, and as of Sunday I lost my voice. My daughter who is turning two I May has run of the house now with a dad chasing behind her trying to say “no” but only managing a funny squeak that she ignores. When I returned to work yesterday most of my conversations were managed with shoulder shrugs and head nods. Communication with the world has become difficult but at the same time the burden of trying to express myself is gone leaving me to walk around and observe without interfering.
Last week I was almost half way through recording an audiobook version of Hobbit Baby until I became sick. I diverted my time towards things I could still work on, this blog and the rewrite of After the Day. Schedules have shifted and with my voice still gone I have no idea when I will be able to start recording again. I haven’t posted a YouTube video in about a week and I am starting to wonder if someone is trying to tell me something or if I just want to view this as a mandatory break from the usual chaos that is my life.
With being sick family time over the weekend was limited to a few things and had me napping along with the kiddo while my wife tried to do things around the house. One thing that I miss and look forward to trying again for the first time is smoking my pipe. At an antique outside of town, I came across a 14 oz tin of George Washington pipe tobacco that hasn’t been in production since 1974. The tine was sealed, it was heavy, and when I snuck into a booth and pried open the top, I discovered it was still filled with the original contents never before touched. It was the one thing I bought at the shop and I have since stashed it away to try one day when I’m not feeling like a walking pile of crap.
To make matters worse I found out on Friday that my father had a heart attack and went to visit him in the hospital. It wasn’t until I went to see him, I found out he had been there since Tuesday and I hadn’t learned about it until one of my aunts called me. I don’t know why these life lessons always hit me hard in the face like a huge flashing billboard but it could tone things down a bit. Talk less, listen more, okay I think I got it. Take better care of yourself before YOU have a heart attack, that one I can check off the list. Work will still function if you are not there, I’m still learning this one. I think most people use work to feel important in their lives. Find better ways to talk to your kid, when you can’t say “no” what can you do? If you weren’t doing your usual time-wasting shit what would you be concentrating on?
As I continue on and try to navigate the world without a voice, I start to think more about the things I am write and working on. What is the best way to say this or that? Is this really three sentences or one? Is this character truly that much of an asshole?
My choice of entertainment has changed a bit, listening to audiobooks instead of the usual podcast that I have since unsubscribed to. I’m almost finished with Marcus Aurelius The Meditations and last week I finished Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography. I’m slowly working my way through the Harvard Classics, a set of books I picked up for $40 at the used bookstore. Mark Twain once said that classics are something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read. As I go through these books, many of which are no longer discussed or printed to the point where audiobooks are not available, I wonder where society is going. I have met people who will only read the latest of a certain field, arguing that it is the best up to date information about a topic. When I throw away books that had been donated to the library, I find the old up to date books that have gone the way of the dodo. Nobody reads Dr. Spock anymore. Authors that were once at the peak for literature are now tossed into the recycling bin. Gore Vidal and Norman Mailer are names never discussed these days. The Great generation is now becoming the forgotten generation. I have heard people say that Socrates and Plato are hokey Greek fags that need to be forgotten, while the democracy these people enjoy was modeled on the civilization those fags lived in. People are converting to Flat Earth theory because of YouTube videos while a guy where silk robes in ancient Greece was able to predict the size of the earth by measuring shadows at the same time of day and he was not far off from the actual number.
As the world goes on, science takes us further expanding our lives it is also making things so easy we’re are becoming dumber by the minute. The classics were talked about in school but it was never required reading. I read the Great Gatsby a few years ago for the first time, and found myself thinking about it weeks later, pissed off at Daisy, wanting to smack Gatsby for being a fool, and in the end realizing that is why it is such a great book. And yet, even when it was first released, it was never read. Copies sat in warehouses and never saw the light of day. People have replaced bed time books with toilet tweets and we wonder why things have gone to shit.
Daylight is burning, for the first time in weeks the sun is out and it is warm enough to take the little one out for a walk. I don’t want to have a heart attack and I don’t want to look back thinking I should have spent more time with her. She knows about ten words now and the last thing she needs is me repeating one of them all the time. The best thing I can do today is take her for a walk and listen while she explores the world.

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After the Day for the last time

This book saved my life. Poorly written, and breaking barriers no one wanted to see broken, what started out as a way to kill long lonely nights turned into a gateway to freedom that I needed. Five years ago, I put a book on Amazon before knowing what it was. It was raw, filled with misspelled words, bad grammar, and horrible dialogue and somehow it sold.
At that time in my life I was divorce, living alone, dating life had a bunch of downs and no ups, and debt was pulling me down. I had branched out into various hobbies, things that I had wanted to do early on in life but held back by different things which no longer influenced my life. Included in these hobbies was writing.
One of the first things I did after my wife and I split was going to best buy and picking up a laptop to write on. It sat in a closet for a year before I took it out and started pecking the keys. I had many adventures after my thirtieth birthday. Fishing, hunting, and gardening took up a good portion of my free time. Once hunting season was over and winter was in full throttle I was stuck inside, without a television and the radio my only outside friend. Sitting in my dining room with a bottle of red wine and a pipe filled with captain black gold I started to write a short story. I had lost track of where it was going and so I wrote another. I continued this process until I had three or our stories in front of me and realized I was writing them all in the same world.
The last couple of days have taken me back to that time. Sitting at a dining room table like I do now and listening to classical music from NPR, I go over my first novel and rewrite the work for the last time. I found the original version, the one I uploaded with all of its horrible flaws, before the suggestions, edits, and critics took over. Starting from scratch I’m turning it into what it could have been all along and something that is truly mine again. I have learned some lessons along the way. Don’t look at sales figures. Don’t read the reviews. Don’t let people distract you with other projects that are not your own. Drink less beer. Write drunk. Edit sober… sometimes. So maybe I haven’t learned my lessons on a lot of things or maybe some of those things are myths to begin with. You don’t have to always enjoy what it is that you are doing but it helps.
As I go through these pages and play with the words, slowly transforming this thing into something else entirely, I know that I will still come back to it a few times. Reading an audiobook will point out a few more changes along the way and that is okay. After this year I will no longer come back to this book. My life has changed since that time and I have written several things since then that nobody wants to read or talk about. After the Day has turned into my white whale and it is time to put it down for good.

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Daisy and other projects for this year

Yesterday I posted three sections of my upcoming book Daisy. The purpose is to encourage people to comment and add thoughts to what works, what is missing, and what to cut out. As I write and rewrite the book I will post more for feedback along the way. This isn’t the only thing I am working on at the moment.

Last night, I started recording the audiobook version of a previous book titled Hobbit Baby; a Father’s journey through the NICU. This is a short book and journals the 91 days my daughter spend in a NICU when she was born four months early and weighed 1 pound 5 ounces. I’m using this as a practice run to relearn the ins and outs of using Audacity again and editing sound files for an audiobook. I had used Audacity in the past for podcast that no longer exist but the last time was a year ago. Recording audiobooks is not as labor intensive as writing a book from scratch so I am hoping to put a large dent in my catalogue this year. That leads me to my other project.

This is the five year anniversary of my first book After the Day. I was never happy with how that book started out, unedited, poorly written, and never truly fixed along the way. For the five year anniversary I am working on a complete rewrite of the first three books and releasing them with audiobooks, something else I missed out on when I first publish. I hope to get things right this time and enable myself to move on and forget about that series once and for all without regret.

I will post updates on here when things are scheduled for release. Audiobooks will be something new for me and while I have some experience I will be selling them for a reasonable price since I am recording at home. My house is quiet in the middle of the night when I record but my equipment isn’t exactly the best for such projects.

So, there it is, my year in a nutshell. You’re welcome to come along for the ride.

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Daisy: CHAPTER TEN

 

The mall was bustling with people shopping, eating, exploring, flirting, stealing, and doing their five laps through the mall for their senior citizen workout. Bill and Daisy sat at a table in the sky court eating orange chicken and fried rice, the only decent meal to be found in the entire building. They were the only white people eating their food with chop sticks.
“Do they sprinkle crack on this?” Daisy asked eating the sauce covered breaded chicken.
“Why do you ask?”
“I could eat this every day.”
Daisy took the leftover sauce and piled the rice on top, mixing the two, unwilling to let any of it go to waste.
The two of them walked through the mall looking at shops with teeny boppers running around laughing about anything they could find. Victoria’s secret was filled with desperate housewives and young couples where the guy was clearly uncomfortable in the store. The sky court was the place for parents and senior citizens to eat their food and people watch for an hour or so.
“Who just walked by?” Bill asked Daisy.
Daisy sighed. “Young guy in his twenties, red jacket, blue jeans and Nike shoes.”
“Young guy?” Bill asked.
“Black male, light skin. Athletic, 175-180 pounds.”
“That’s better.” Bill glanced back and spotted the man right away. “Who is at the Asian drink shop at the moment?”
Daisy glanced at the picture window for an African fair-trade store. The reflection showed her an elderly woman in her seventies with a walker trying to hold her drink with one hand.
“Old woman, white, in her seventies with a walker. She’s going to drop her drink.” A second later the drink spilled all over the floor and the woman grabbed the walker, racing away from the scene of the crime, embarrassed by the accident.
“Very good,” Bill said. “You didn’t do that from memory.” He pointed out.
“No, I used the window.” Daisy nodded to the glass.
“Where did you learn that?”
“Bangkok Dangerous, you have eyes all around you.” Daisy looked at the Asian market and hoped to go inside.
“Alright pumpkin where to?”
Daisy led him to the shop and started to look at the swords behind the counter. As expected, they were all trash, cheap 440 steel that would bend on the first use.
“What are you getting pumpkin?” Bill asked.
“Dad stop,” She started to act irritated. Bill wasn’t sure what had just happened until he noticed the young man behind the counter looking at Daisy and then him. It was obvious that Daisy liked this boy and so Bill wandered around the store on his own while Daisy picked out a set of stainless-steel throwing stars and a new legal to carry folding knife.
“So, do you know how to use these things?” the young man behind the counter asked while Daisy paid in cash.
“Of course, who doesn’t?” the answer was obvious and Daisy left smiling wondering if the young man would buy his own to learn how to use them. When they returned a few weeks later the young man no longer worked there.

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