My thoughts on conventions

So, I’ve got some thoughts.

Some of those thoughts are meaningless to some of my friends, so if they don’t seem to apply to you then let it pass by.

I’m thinking about conventions, and whether I’m really of a desire to attend one.

The closest I’ve ever been to attending a convention (science-fiction, gaming, book, movie, whatever) would be to visit the Gulf Coast Renaissance Faire in Pensacola, in years past. To be honest, I’m unsure if that would be considered a ‘convention’ per se, but for the purposes of these thoughts I’ll go with ‘no.’ At least for now. I enjoyed it.

I have quite a few friends in The Royal Manticoran Navy – which is an official fan club for David Weber’s Honorverse series, and I want to attend a convention with them in full cosplay – time, money, and most importantly health allowing.

I also have friends in corresponding fandoms following the novels of Larry Correia and John Ringo. I’d like to attend cons with them, as well, with the same preconditions I have listed above.

Other authors, as well. I do admit that I’d love to find myself at a book signing for my books, too, but that’s a looooooooong way off – and irrelevant to my thoughts here.

Recent events give me pause to think about that desire. As you (meaning my friends in general) may known both Larry and John have not attended conventions that they had been expected at. One was disinvited, one was an agreement due to fears about personal security. Both were done as a result of online outcry of those with strong opinions.

Opinions that – and this is *my* opinion on the opinions – were wrong.

In today’s world, if there’s a public figure that someone disagrees with then there must be a posting, a Tweet, an email, and various other ways to express that disagreement. I don’t think there’s a single public figure of any stripe that has no dissent following them around.

Go look at politics, religion, or sports if you don’t believe me. If you can name one or even two, you’re doing better than me.

So Larry and John expected to attend those conventions. I’m not going to name which ones. Use your Google-fu to get that information, if you’re wondering. They decided to attend to meet fans, discuss their craft and hobbies, have family along, have fun. You know, hopefully like anyone going to something like that.

Before the events’ starting dates rolled around, quite a few with metaphorical axes to grind decided to avail themselves of the postings, Tweets, emails, and various other ways to make the people in charge of the conventions think twice. Unproven allegations, outright lies, and straight innuendo.

One didn’t give the best impression, and the other did have extenuating circumstances which have been ironed out. My concern isn’t really with them.

It’s with the ‘backlash.’

As the last few years have worn on, I’ve been watching protests, of varying degrees, actions from civil disobedience to outright riots, and verbiage from civil discussions to almost knock-down-drag-outs. Come to think of it, there comes to mind that there has been a time or two locally where the cops have been called over for-real fights started over things started online. Rough fights, too. Bloody, bent, bowed, and bad.

What reassurance do I have? Should I decide that I have the ability to go see my friends, assume my persona as Captain Barrow, Grayson Space Navy, or get my books signed by the authors that wrote them, what reassurance do I have that some unknown persons won’t try to wreak havoc like what was done in Berkeley, with the speaker and the supposed Antifa riot?

Or for that matter, after some basketball team won a game? That still makes absolutely no sense to me.

I’m not as strong as I used to be. I’ve got physical problems that’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, and a chance of others popping up as I age. I do have a concealed carry license, plus training from previous employment, that in certain situations would allow me to efficiently defend myself or others. In a convention’s venue, I would adhere to their rules and not avail myself of my weapons. Like any school, bar, airport and so on. Still, I really don’t want to have to be creative in protecting. This sheepdog isn’t in the best form to do it.

I don’t like the thought of going to see a certain author or entertainer with the intent of having fun, and then getting caught up in burning stuff, a riot, things getting thrown that could hurt me or others, just because people don’t like the certain author or entertainer.

Think I’m going straight to worse-case-scenario? Imagine how the security people feel about crap like this. Especially with past incidences and the very real possibility of ‘copy-cat syndrome.’

I don’t like it.

Oh, sure, I know the world is not safe and isn’t the best. I know I can’t hunker down and be a hermit. I’m saying people shouldn’t be jerks.

Yeah, I know. They will be anyway. Too many people on social media and the comment sections of online sources are… ‘judgemental’ is the best term I can think of. I can think of other terms, but like I said to Sharon, I’m usually civil. This doesn’t mean I don’t want to call a spade a spade.

So, sure. I can feel the joy and anticipation of attending a con sucked out by seeing what others do and justifying it as the Right Thing. I’ve seen the phrase “Hit ’em where it hurts – in the wallet” thrown around. The bullying of sponsors, too. That’s another thing. The vendors – just like at a Renaissance Faire – depend on people visiting their stalls or spaces and sampling their wares. How can someone justify steering potentally paying customers from a convention that they might not even be a part of anyway? If a man that handmakes widgets and a woman that handmakes gizmos make it part of their business plan to make the rounds – and takes unsold inventory back to the shop because of people online availing themselves of the posting, Tweets, emails, and various other ways to dampen enthusiasm because they don’t like a guest of the convention, then what exact point are they making?

That the small business owner is cannon fodder in the battle over What’s Pure and Right in the World?

Please.

I went to the Renaissance Faire for a few things. See the jousts, browse the stalls and buy stuff, get food I really enjoyed, watch the bellydancers (I liked this part,) and be entertained. I’d be willing to bet that those that visit conventions do it for just about the same reasons, depending on what kind of venue.

Not to be unwitting pawns in somebody else’s arguments.

So, yeah. I’ve decided to have my say on this. I don’t appreciate having to say it.

Respects

American Flag
See this flag?

It’s not as old as some of the other flags in the world. Like all the other flags, it’s loved by some, hated by others, ignored by the rest.

It’s my flag, though, and like all the others that denote nationalities, it is a part of the uniform of the military under it.

Memorial Day is coming up, and like I often do, I want to pay my respects to those in the service.

Wikipedia describes it as “Memorial Day or Decoration Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.” It’s observed every year on the last Monday of May.

As those who follow me know, I didn’t serve in the military. I wasn’t able to go in, and the closest I ever got was Army JROTC in high school. Still, I am very aware of the sacrifices made in my stead.

There’s a monument in my hometown that lists the people from there who have died while serving, just as the description says a little earlier. It’s not a stupendous thing, since it’s a ‘small town’ and there’s not as many names to put on it. That’s not to say that there hasn’t been a lot of people to have served, because that’s not true.

One of the names on that list is someone that attended high school with me. Come to think of it, he may have been in one of my JROTC classes with me but frankly I can’t remember for sure. It’s been a looong time since then, but I do remember talking with him. As I recall now, his death came from the Khobar Towers bombing as a part of Hezbollah activities. Joseph Rimkus, I think of you wherever you may be and I thank you for making that decision to raise your right hand to swear your oath.

It’s not just him. It’s other service members, too. The US Flag has changed over time, its configuration modified as States entered the Union and the stripes changing in number. It is still the Flag we as schoolkids pledged allegiance to, generation by generation by generation.

As far as generations go, I’m thinking of all of them. From the Revolutionary War on down, there have been those that have given their lives for this country. I bow my head in respect for them, and my writer’s imagination can see the specters as they gather. In battlefields, in national cemeteries, on the seas, in the air, and in space. The specters observe the changes in our country, the changes in uniform from the newer ones to stand silent watch and the changes in the military from the beginning of the Republic to now.

Thank you, and I will not forget.

Red Poppies

Steele Writing Enterprises will be observing Memorial Day. The plugin I used to darken the website was removed, so I may have to do it manually.

Thoughts on Civility, random

Thoughts for today.

I’m sitting up with my wireless keyboard and it’s still working well. I decided to be lazy and hook my laptop up to the TV and use that big screen. The older I get, the harder it is to look at the relatively small screen. And, yes, it’s nice to be able to view from across the room.

Alexa is playing 80’s country music – Keith Whitley – and there’s a couple of the younger cats asleep by my feet. It’s quiet outside, with only the occasional vehicle going by. The new neighbor’s kids are playing in their yard and Sirius goes to the fence every so often to check on them and the puppies. He likes people, except at night when I put him on guard duty.

So my thoughts are on the state of the world. Here where I am, it’s quiet and I don’t want it to be otherwise. Aside from the kids going down the road blasting music. I did that at that age, so I really can’t complain too much. Maybe the kind of music I could.

Elsewhere, well, there’s strife. I deliberately have not checked the news channels or newspapers today. Don’t really want to, honestly. People fighting over land, water, various insults both perceived and real. The Korean War might actually be over – there were documents signed at any rate, so we will see what happens. I hope so. I’ve heard about the residents not being able to really see family for the longest time, or work, or whatever. It’s not something that we as Americans may have experience with at home. I mean to say, we aren’t technically in a civil war.

We’re incivil to each other a lot, but that’s for another day and another set of thoughts.

Our Civil War from 1861 to 1865 was bad enough. I really don’t want another one to come around, and that’s why I worry about the things that happen here. People get nasty to each other. Sure, I could mention the role or roles social media and the 24-hour news cycle play. That isn’t insignificant, but my thoughts are with civility. It’s defined as “formal politeness and courtesy in behavior or speech,” and it’s something I fear is disappearing in day-to-day interactions. As yes, I am as guilty of this as the next person. Work with me here as I explore this thought.

  • ‘Formal.’
  • ‘Politeness and courtesy.’
  • ‘Behavior.’
  • ‘Speech.’

There’s been a lot made about the anonymity of the Internet. Twenty years ago, that was certainly the case. Someone insulted you online, and all you really had was an username and maybe an avatar of some type.

Now, with Google and various information aggregators, not to mention law enforcement resources, that’s not so much the case.

Insult someone on Facebook or something, well then there’s a distinct possibility that the someone might pull a detective cap out of the drawer, put it on and start tracking. Once your information has been ferreted out, then stuff could happen. Personal visits, getting SWATted, doxxed, one-star reviews if you own a business, lots of things.

Knowledge is power, you know.

Another thing I’m guilty of is taking things personally. I’m still aggravated about being called a slaver once when I mentioned that I used to work in the corrections field. The person in question that said that to me is not on my friends list anymore, and I haven’t tried to reestablish contact. That conversations was pretty fiery in a dripping-with-sarcasm way.

I try not to, and I suspect many other people try not too. When there’s a button or ten that can get pushed, best believe that there’s going to be someone that delights in pushing them.

Sometimes, those people are called trolls, sometimes they simply don’t care what your position on a given matter is.

‘Formal’ comes to mind. I’ve noticed a trend of people using Latin terms as one would in a debate. Some can do it and be evenminded and fair, but the ones that do it and use them as a cudgel to dismiss the opinions of others – well, there’s no point in continuing the fight a conversation has become. I listed four items in quotes above, and frankly, all four should be present to have civil discourse.

I had the idea once to start a website where people could argue all kinds of things, but Monty Python and Facebook beat me to the idea and the execution. One was parody and one wasn’t intended, but it is what it’s become.

I worry that the forked tongues out there will overrun the upstanding ones out there.

I’ve been keeping a mental list of topics that people feel particularly strong about and will be nasty about.

  • Politics or lack thereof.
  • Divisions of the above.
  • Religion or lack thereof.
  • Divisions of the above.
  • Gender or perception thereof, self or otherwise.
  • Orientation, sexual or otherwise.
  • Romantic prowess or lack thereof.
  • Color/Race/Ethnicity.
  • Sports.
  • Work/Job/Career.
  • Where one lives or comes from.
  • Leisure activities.
  • Amount or presence of ‘formal education.’
  • Appearance.
  • Clothes.
  • Pets.
  • Food choices, whether by desire or restrictions for diet or religion.
  • Guns.
  • Knives/Swords.
  • Language, whether natively spoken or otherwise.

I’m sure there’s others. In fact, I’m positive there’s others. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a bunch I’ve never heard of. We’ve gotten insular, even with worldwide telecommunications and associated technology, and there’s the whole ‘fear of stranger’ thing, too. Or maybe the word ‘disdain’ is a better fit.

I could say ‘we need to improve’ but I fear that’s a lot easier said that done. And I’ll bet that there will be comments to these thoughts for today that involve sneering at anything listed above as causes for the need for improvement.

I think I’ll go check on my sunflowers. Be kind to each other, okay?

Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day.

It is a time for solemn reflection.

It isn’t easy to put words to paper or screen for those like me, who was not able to serve in the military. I’m not privy to a lot of the traditions or the habits of the military personnel, except for those in my family that have served or those of my friends that tell me of this or that.

Still, some things come through anyway.

In my hometown, there’s a structure for the veterans from home that have lost their lives in service. It stands silently, day after day, under the hot Florida sun and hurricanes and other conditions. Many of the names are those who went on before I was even born, and some not. One is someone that I went to school with, others after that. It isn’t a happy place, isn’t something to celebrate or rejoice in, but it is something to remind those still living of the sacifice made by others for us.

Today, when you hear “The Star Spangled Banner” play with all the majesty of its history, put your hand over your heart. When “Taps” is blown, if there’s a tear in your eye, don’t be ashamed. I wasn’t.

I will remember those that sacrifice made for me, for the Gold Star families bereaved, for those that live in freedom – because of what they gave.

I have not forgotten.

I will not forget.

JB Steele Ebooks and Paperbacks

From JB Steele

 

Wizard’s Apostasy and Unknown Worlds have been released in paperback.

Links below.

Wizard’s Apostasy Unknown Worlds
About this Book About this Book
Paperback Paperback

 

The Wizard’s Apostasy audiobook is currently in production, with a projected release of January 2018.

The Fog

The fog.

The filmy blanket muffled sound, dampened windows and refused to leave right away. Even when the sun stumbles up out of bed, driving in it was never fun. Even worse in rush traffic, but the kicker was the people with lead feet and no sleep. Like me. I stay in the median, waiting for a break in traffic. I wanted to cross the street, and get to work. I’m running late.

Zoom. Zip. Whoosh.

“What is this,” I think, “NASCAR tryouts?”

A car blazes by, inches from my pickup’s nose, riding the line and rocking my little Ford with only his Doppler shift. Finally, a break. I saw no headlights on the road, finally. I look at the dash mounted clock and grimace. Twelve minutes to be standing at the time clock to punch in, or I would be late.

I ease off my brakes and pull out onto the road. Only to slam back onto my brakes, very quickly. Materializing out of the fog, side by side, a custom van and a lifted F250 with mud grippers! No headlights on either! They blaze past me into the qualifying lap of their little minds, with only the twinkle of chrome and the roar of engines to mark the winning lap.

I sit, shaking in anger and the accompany grip of the fear stoked adrenaline rush, cursing the damn-fool drivers wouldn’t recognize a headlight switch if it bit them. And the fog laughs at me, as I finally cross the street. It sneaks away on its little cat feet, and is gone when I get to work.

I hate fog.

Unknown Worlds – JB Steele

Unknown Worlds

Do you ever feel like you’ve awakened from a dream in which you visited an unknown world? Some of the best dreams stayed with you whether you realized it or not. Here are five stories from the mind of JB Steele, ranging from the days of yore to a time far from now. Sit back with a mug of steaming cocoa on a cool night, or a cold drink on a hot night, adjust the light over that comfortable reading chair and dive into these stories.
The Falls of Beta Tucanae – Humans fight on in a long war that no one knows when the end will come. Can Captain Quinn finish his patrol and bring his crew home alive?
Attack on the Castle – Aleister Greyblade has a problem. It’s one thing to handle the day to day running of the Castle Guard. That’s his job. It’s when someone tries to attack his King in more than one way, that’s when he has a problem. How does he solve it? As directly as possible.
Tenuous Voyages – Perfidy reigns, and the Felin have to find a way to stop the attack. Maybe it’s time to be more careful who they do business with.
An Onslaught Antagonized – She’s had all she can stand and she’s not going to take any more. Major Felicia Màrtainn is done, and there’s going to be hell to pay. She’s not the only one, either.
Waves – Being police detectives on the Gulf Coast is sometimes busy work. Sure, there are tourists walking the white sands and buying things the locals wouldn’t be caught dead with. When people turn up dead in different ways, Detectives Alex Rountree and Stephanie Loenen get a bit busy trying to catch a killer.

 

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Smashwords

Scribd

Kobo

Inktera

Overdrive

iTunes

The Birth of Ebony Jackson – ML Steele

The Birth of Ebony Jackson

Travel on a journey with M.L. Steele as she takes you back in time and into the deep south. The McCafferty’s Nanny will tell you the tale of the arrival of a new young slave girl, Eula Mae Jackson, on their plantation, and how life for everyone there changed.
Lifelong bonds are created as Eula and Stella McCafferty, the plantation owner’s daughter, take over the plantation themselves.

Find at:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Scribd

Kobo

Inktera

Smashwords

Overdrive

iTunes

Wizard’s Apostasy by JB Steele

Wizard’s Apostasy, by JB Steele is now available!

 

Here’s the blurb:

The Realm of Cadealith is under attack. An evil stranger is looking for something, and attacking everything in his path. He doesn’t care who or what gets in his way.
King’s Master Ranger Cuileán Abel has been on his trail for a long time, trying to stop him.
Abiradon, an Elven Warrior Monk, barely survived one of the brutal attacks and is now seeking vengeance, too.
Others in the realm are affected by the mad dash to power, and they all have different views that come to light as the Master Ranger and the warrior monk race against time.
Can Cuileán Abel and Abiradon be successful in their quest and restore safety and peace to Cadealith?
Or, will the Wizard’s Apostasy destroy them all?

Also in this book, “King’s Ranger,” a Cadealith short story.

 

Please check with these ebook retailers to get your copy.

Unknown Worlds is also available, as well.

Here’s the blurb for Unknown Worlds:

Do you ever feel like you’ve awakened from a dream in which you visited an unknown world? Some of the best dreams stayed with you whether you realized it or not. Here are five stories from the mind of JB Steele, ranging from the days of yore to a time far from now. Sit back with a mug of steaming cocoa on a cool night, or a cold drink on a hot night, adjust the light over that comfortable reading chair and dive into these stories.

The Falls of Beta Tucanae – Humans fight on in a long war that no one knows when the end will come. Can Captain Quinn finish his patrol and bring his crew home alive?

Attack on the Castle – Aleister Greyblade has a problem. It’s one thing to handle the day to day running of the Castle Guard. That’s his job. It’s when someone tries to attack his King in more than one way, that’s when he has a problem. How does he solve it? As directly as possible.

Tenuous Voyages – Perfidy reigns, and the Felin have to find a way to stop the attack. Maybe it’s time to be more careful who they do business with.

An Onslaught Antagonized – She’s had all she can stand and she’s not going to take any more. Major Felicia Màrtainn is done, and there’s going to be hell to pay. She’s not the only one, either.

Waves – Being police detectives on the Gulf Coast is sometimes busy work. Sure, there are tourists walking the white sands and buying things the locals wouldn’t be caught dead with. When people turn up dead in different ways, Detectives Alex Rountree and Stephanie Loenen get a bit busy trying to catch a killer.

 

Please follow these links.