Dear Professional Entertainer,
Your opinion matters. Your ability to express that opinion matters. It is thoroughly unacceptable for critics to suggest that you "shut up and" do whatever it is you do to entertain the world.
Your opinion is not the only one that matters. The caterer that provides food for your events has an opinion as well. The person makes sure that electricity makes it to your home has an opinion. The person building/repairing our nation's highways and byways has an opinion. The person that monitors inmates at the local jail has an opinion.
And all of those opinions matter as well.
The primary difference is that the caterer, the power company employee, the road construction worker, and the jailer do not enjoy a prominent platform from which to offer their opinion to the world. Instead, those very same people enable the privilege of your very prominent platform that you use to present your thoughts on passing events. They buy your books. They buy your albums. They buy tickets to your concerts, movies, and theater performances. And they help create that platform by being fans that are interested in the life behind the creative efforts that they so frequently enjoy.
So instead of reflexively reaching for snark, instead of using that most over used tool of sarcasm, perhaps it would be better to have a bit of restraint. Instead of painting people who possess a different opinion with a broad, tar-laden brush, it might be better to exercise a bit more precision.
Instead of denigrating those that create your privileged position while not similarly enjoying a equal opportunity to comment on passing events, perhaps you should demonstrate a modicum of leadership. Show us how people that disagree can do so with a modicum of civility.
Dear Professional Entertainer,
The first factor is that I love the genre and have hopes (more probably ethereal ravings) of writing in the field some day. Even if I never get a chance to pursue that interest, it is always interesting to hear about authors, their writing process, and their challenges within the industry.
The other factor at the time was in learning more about the industry due to my interest in the Sad Puppies imbroglio. I didn't learn as much about that, but it was an early motivating factor.
My podcast list grew from there due to my continuing interest in a few public radio programs.
While I know that the trend is to make everything seem to be larger than life these days, this list really, really isn't indispensable. It isn't huge. Or huuuuuuge! in modern presidential parlance, I suppose.
However, it is a great starting point for people that are curious about podcasting. Take a look, and then give a listen.
I have scored each podcast in three areas; Production Values, Entertainment, and Information. Production values represent the recording quality, the voice quality of the participants, and the general organization of the podcast. Entertainment is pretty self-explanatory; how much does the podcast engage me from an entertainment perspective. Essentially, the giggle factor. Information is equally self-explanatory; how much new information does the podcast present.
There may be some bleed-through from one category to another. For example, a regular participant with a less than entertaining voice may drag down both the production values and the entertainment scores.
I don't listen to all of these podcasts every week. Some are on hiatus. Some come out on an irregular basis. A few of the podcasts will provide re-runs to fill in on weeks when they don't have something new.
I have filtered through some podcasts and dropped many that just were not worth the effort. While there are some overtly political podcasts on the list, I think that most of these programs are worthy of consideration. For someone new to podcasts, this list is a decent place to start.
So my social media is being infested with stories about President Obama granting a large number of pardons and clemencies yesterday. It made me a little curious, so I did a little digging.
First, it is useful to know the difference. A "pardon" essentially sets aside all of the facts of the case as well as the verdict and punishment. It is a complete forgiveness that erases the act from the criminal record. A pardoned person recovers all of their rights and is no longer considered convicted of any crime.
Clemency involves ending or reducing the sentence of a convicted individual. Their crime remains a matter of public record. However, their punishment, typically confinement, is reduced or terminated. This is frequently granted to individuals where the President (or state Governor) feels that the sentence imposed by the court far exceeded what the conditions of the crime merited.
Mr. Obama apparently did set a record for the number of combined pardons/clemencies granted by a President in a single day. But what is the larger context? (Special note, the statistics on the site were last updated in October and therefore do not reflect actions since then.)
Mr. Obama has been quite frugal with respect to granting pardons. Prior to yesterday's actions, he actually had granted the fewest pardons of any President dating back to the 19th century. Now he is just at the low end of the range. He has granted a little over 100 full pardons. As a comparison, Richard Nixon granted 863 full pardons and Dwight Eisenhower granted 1110.
Mr. Obama has been far more generous with granting clemency. Given how much our legislatures have taken to creating statutory sentencing minimum, it is no surprise to learn that we are giving lengthy prison sentences to people who either cannot afford a good attorney or who simply are not able to assist in other prosecutions. Essentially, these people cannot get the sort of "deal" that is routinely offered to other defendants. Also, Mr. Obama has correctly questioned the results of a system that offers disparate punishments for the possession of powdered cocaine and the possession of crack cocaine. The drug is the same in both cases.
And so he has been far more generous in granting clemency. Properly so.
There is a bit of hypocrisy here as one might expect. One of the sentencing modifiers created by the Congress is the presence of a weapon; specifically some sort of gun. The intent is to give prosecutors the ability to put extra bad people in prison for extra long periods of time based on factors that have little to do with the actual crime that was committed.
For example, the DEA busts into an apartment and arrests everyone on drug charges due to the boxes of criminalized drugs stacked up along the walls. The find a gun and are able to add more prison time onto the sentence(s). People who intend to do bad things being kept in prison for a longer period of time is probably better for society.
Unfortunately, such laws get twisted into serving injustice. For example, someone hides a gun in their girlfriend's apartment. She smokes some weed from time to time and gets busted. The cops find the gun and multiply the girlfriend's sentence. The result is certainly more expensive for society but in a non-trivial number of cases it probably doesn't make society better as a result.
So where is the hypocrisy? Most of the folks that are appalled at Mr. Obama's use of his clemency powers for cases involving gun possession would probably be apoplectic at the prospect of someone in possession of a couple of ducks/fish/etc. over the legal limit being given an extra long sentence due to the presence of a gun. Yet that can and does happen just as well.
Correcting prosecutorial indiscretion is an appropriate use of Presidential powers.
In any case, this really isn't that big of a deal. Mr. Obama has granted far fewer pardons that most Presidents. When you take it down to a per-year and per-capita consideration, he has been downright stingy in his use of that Presidential prerogative. He has granted clemency at a much higher rate. Combining pardons with clemency, he isn't really doing anything that differs from other Presidents.
Due to several requests, I am going to provide a list of books that I would like to receive for Christmas. Naturally, I do not expect to get them all. However, I think it would be good if people were to check with one another to ensure that people are not duplicating efforts.
As always, you can check out my open Amazon wish list for other ideas.
On to the books. This is going to be graphic novel heavy. I have been reading quite a few of them this year and am enjoying these series immensely. The print versions are highly preferred.
East of West
- Volume 3 - Own it now.
- Volume 4
ETA - well crap. You always forget a couple things.
On those threatening to leave: So you have threatened to leave the U.S. if your candidate doesn't win the Presidency. Samuel Adams covered this quite well.
"...May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
I enjoy a wealth of acquaintances and friends from across the political spectrum. We argue. We fight...rhetorically. To a person, every single one of them is an American in their heart and in their head. The(y) love freedom even though we disagree on the best means of pursuing that freedom.
There are millions of people that have immigrated to the U.S. in pursuit of that freedom. People from Iran and Iraq and other parts of the Middle East that are fed up with living under various flavor of dictatorship; theocratic or otherwise. Millions more have come from south of our border to escape dictatorships, oligarchies, kleptocracies and other offenses to the cause of individual liberty.
And you know what? Millions more have the same unquenchable thirst for freedom. They have in their heads and in their hearts the desire to be left to live their lives in peace and liberty and away from the bullying nose of government.
And if you lack that thirst, then please find the nearest exit. Leave your citizenship at the door. You don't have what it takes.
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen. - Samuel Adams"
It is ignorant in that Canada has some pretty strict rules for immigration when compared with the U.S. They want young people with skills and/or education to be in their labor force for a long time. The old, uneducated, and unskilled need not apply. The election of either of the major candidates will not qualify you as a political refugee in any place beyond your imagination.
It is racist in that these folks never threaten to move to Mexico. As most of the "or I'm moving to Canada" folks seem to be quite a bit left of center, I'm also surprised that they don't want to move to the Chavista paradise that is Venezuela. They have bucket loads of that "democratic socialism" down there. And yet they almost always offer to move to Canada.....or less often to "Europe".
They never offer to move to a place where they could use their skills and education to improve life for the people in their new country. Must be too many brown skinned people for their taste.
The Grim Company by Luke Scull
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
2 stars. Did not finish. Made it about 12% through. Mostly cardboard characters. Lots of telling without much showing. Standard adventure fare without any compelling character or plot lines to hold my attention.
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The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A fair book that does not compare well with the Hobbit or LotR. So if you are looking for that level of Tolkien story-telling, this book will be a bit of a disappointment.
It presents a couple of good stories that contain an excess amount of exposition. It also presents some story fragments that were clearly not previously published for good reason.
A good book for hard core Tolkien fans. Not so good for a casual reader expecting a fully developed story.
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