Sunday, November 17, 2013

Josh Marshall continues to be a douche

"Where Are We On Obamacare?
What's your gut tell about where this is going, going on seven weeks in?

You're an optimist? A pessimist? Or maybe like some, you know it's the law and one that President Obama is highly unlikely to allow Congress to mettle with, so it's just going to plow on, bumps or not. That's what we're discussing at The Hive (sub req). Join us and let us know what you think."


I'm honestly looking for feedback here -- am I the only one who finds it incredibly inappropriate and tacky for a guy who runs a website to pose a question to his general readership, ask them to join the discussion... and then require a subscription fee from them before they can do so?

Marshall and I went around and around on this via email one day last week. He is, to say the least, somewhat defensive about moving all the discussion threads on his Talking Points Memo site behind a paywall. He's also very defensive about the incredibly intrusive ads he cluster bombs his readers with -- they are, literally, everywhere (despite his insistence that he decided to stop doing pop ups, a 'stop the Republicans' full page ad still pops up over every page there when I click on a link).

He advised me in no uncertain terms that (a) he needs to generate $200K a month to keep that site up and (b) the paywall only pays for about 5% of that. (He did not tell me how much the ads actually generate every month, nor did he tell me how much of that $200K a month goes to his own salary and bennies. And of course he's not obligated to, but as he began his side of the discussion by calling me 'unhinged', well, I'd find his further hectoring about how hard he has it and how tough it is and how he needs to do these things to pay his bills to be more convincing if he'd also told me exactly how much he really DOES make from the ads, instead of just how much he needs to make, and how much of that money goes to him personally.)

What started it all was me sending him a somewhat irate email after I read a little blurb inviting me to "be part of the team" and "join the discussion"... and when I clicked on that link, it led me to a page shilling me for a $50/year subscription.

He strongly implied he had no idea where that particular piece of verbiage was, near hysterically advised me that there were declaimers all over the site about how TMP Prime required a subscription, and also strongly implied that he had not written the "be part of the team join the discussion" lead in to the subscription pitch.

And yet, here he is, doing it even more explicitly, and signing his name to it. He's posing a question, asking everyone who reads his site to join in the discussion... and then, say hey and by the way, you need to subscribe to do so.

This just seems, to me, to be tacky bordering on immoral. But maybe I'm crazy. Certainly Mr. Marshall thinks I'm 'unhinged'.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Josh Marshall, the Classiest Guy On The Internet

So today, I was over at Talking Points Memo, one of my favorite kneejerk liberal political sites, and I clicked on an article that sounded interesting.  Instead of getting the article, I got a page telling me all about the wonders of TPMPrime.  At the bottom of the page, it said:

""Become a part of our team. Join TPMPrime today."

And I thought, omigod, I'd LOVE to become part of the TPM team!  What are they going to pay me?  What are the benefits?  I mean, that would be AWESOME!!!

So I clicked on the link and... uh... no.  No, not so much.  To 'become part of the team' and 'join TPMPrime', I need to pony up fifty bucks a year as a subscription fee.

So, I sent off this email to the site:

* * * * *

"Become a part of our team. Join TPMPrime today."

That's what it says, at the bottom of the page that came up when I clicked on an interesting sound article (I think it was "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going") listed in the right margin of another TPM article I'd just finished.

"Become a part of our team."  I swooned!

But then, after another click, and much reading, I discovered... I'm supposed to pay for the privilege of doing this.

Yep.  "Become part of our team.  Join TPMPrime today."

Nowhere in those calculated to appeal,  wonderful sounding words, does it say anything about money.  Nowhere does it use the word 'subscribe' or 'fork it over' or 'yeah, happy to have you, just haul out that credit card, bitch'.  Nowhere.

Just 'Become part of our team.'

You know what?  Fuck you.  And your team.

I've been an avid reader of Talking Points Memo for a decade now.  I used to be a pretty regular contributor to the reader forums, under the name Doc Nebula.  I got a lot of likes, a lot of dislikes, stirred up some controversy, took part in a lot of good conversations.

And now, to be 'part of your team', I need to give you some money.

I'll be unliking your Facebook page to get you the fuck out of my Facebook stream.  And I won't be dropping by your page any more.  Whatever microscopic income may have been generated by my 10 or 20 hits a day, is now gone.

You want me to subscribe?  Ask me to subscribe.  Use those words.  Or words that otherwise indicate you're putting your hand in my pocket, groping for my wallet.

Don't ask me to 'become part of your team' by 'joining TPMPrime'.

That's just low.

Once again, a very cheery and unprofessional 'fuck you' to every single one of you.  Yes, you and you and you and YOU!



D.A. Madigan

* * * * * *

And then, wonder of wonders, I got an email back!  From the head honcho at TPM his damn self, Josh Marshall!  And he said:

* * * * ** *

Dear Darren,

I think you win the award for the whackiest and most unhinged email in some time.  The site is positively plastered with the fact that Prime is a membership program.  Look at the top of the site where it says "Subscribe to Prime".  It takes you to this page.

You will notice the blaring "Subscribe to Prime" $50 / Year.

If there's a part of the site as opposed to the top of the site and the bottom of the site and basically everywhere else where this doesn't clear, it would be help if you could say where that it is as opposed to launch off on this tirade.

You are clearly under the impression that some rich person pays the millions of dollars a year it costs to create TPM.  Sorry to disabuse you of that illusion.  TPM is a company.  It requires revenue to pay its employees.  Our membership system costs $50 and this you apparently see as a major conspiracy against you because you didn't see quickly enough that there's a subscription fee and that's driven you on a wild rant against everyone here.

I think you need to take a deep breath and probably focus on how completely inappropriate and bizarre this email is.


* * * * * * *

So then I said:

* * * * * *

Well, at least I won an award.

While advising me of how whacky I am, you might perhaps take a moment to reflect, not on how many different places you have different messages plastered, but just how disagreeable the message 'join our team' is, as a lead in to a delayed pitch for money.

But, again, as long as I'm the best at something, I'll declare victory and retire from the field, and you go on and continue to ignore my opinions.  Cuz I don't matter.  Not unless I give you fifty bucks, anyway.

Were you ever not a sell  out?  I'm just wondering.

* * * * * * * *

Now... I get that Talking Points Memo, like every other breathing bipedal semi sentient mammal on this planet, wants my money.  I do.  I get hammered with that knowledge every time I go over to TPM and get barraged with pop up ads every time I click on a link or scroll down or even look sideways at any of their pages.

And I guess I don't object to it.  I mean, everyone wants money. I want money.  TPM employs lots of people, Josh has to pay those people, he's got rent and ISP fees and all kinds of other stuff.   He needs to generate revenue.   Apparently, he needs more revenue than is generated by the ubiquitous and exasperating array of ads he puts on his site, and so, he is reserving some of the site's 'better' content behind a pay wall.

That's great.  That's fabulous.  That's all well and good and hunky motherfucking dory.  Absolutely.

My protest, and I think I made this clear, was directed directly towards the language used to try to entice me to subscribe.  Namely:

"Become a part of our team. Join TPMPrime today."

This does not sound like "Give us money".  This sounds like "We value you and want to pay you".

And I'm reasonably sure that this phrasing is not accidental.

So, I sent him a nastygram.  And for doing this, for taking the time to voice my feelings about this almost cruelly deceptive phrasing on his website, what do I get?

I get called 'whacky' and 'unhinged'.

You're a class act, Mr. Marshall.

Friday, November 08, 2013



Christian values. American values. Family values. These are all emotionally evocative phrases, employed pretty much interchangeably by those who use such terms without irony or sarcasm. 

Because to those who champion such 'values', the words 'Christian', 'American', and 'family' are also pretty much interchangeable. Christian means American, American means Christian, and family means both. 

Yet what sort of values are such people talking about? What, exactly, are 'Christian/American/family values'?

I don't know. Apparently, these values are entirely subjective, and largely defined in the negative. We may not be sure what these values are, but we certainly know what they are not -- they are not homosexual, they are not Muslim, they are not feminist, they are not about immigrants or non-English speakers or weirdos or hippies. 

They are not even remotely tolerant. 

They are about 'decency'. They are about 'patriotism'. They are about puppies and kittens and NASCAR races and proud soldiers carrying our flag across bullet torn, bombed out battlefields and church on Sunday morning and prayer in schools. 

And they are about internment camps in World War II and Guantanamo Bay, and firebombed Planned Parenthood clinics, and Abu Ghraib, and 'rendition', and fagbashing, and slut shaming, and hate. Always, always, always the hate. The liberals want to take our guns. We hate them. The one world United Nations government wants to steal all our water and ruin our golf courses. We hate them. The Kenyan Muslim Socialist pretender Nobama with his invisible black helicopters wants to force everybody to have health insurance and buy votes with his free Nobama phones. And we hate him. 

And that hatred, of course, is born of fear -- fear that our sons will be gay, our daughters will be sluts, people in turbans will blow up our houses, people who don't speak our language will move in and play loud Mexican music at all hours of the day and night, foreigners in black helicopters will force us to ration our water so that some dumb fucking raghead somewhere can have a drink without getting malaria. 

And most of all, what we hate and fear most, is the thought that people who don't look like us will be treated with the same respect that we feel we are entitled to. That we will no longer be deferred to, that we will no longer be a privileged class here in our own nation, that our ancestors built with their own hands, with their own toil, and blood, and sweat, and tears. That ours will no longer be the only voice that anyone hears, that our ideas and our values and our choices and our lifestyles will no longer be the only ones allowed here, in Christian family America. 

Because America is a nation that was built by white Christian heterosexuals -- and the bodies and blood of enslaved blacks and Asians and Hispanics, and murdered and displaced Native Americans, are the bricks and mortar that nation was built on. 

Christian/American/family values are, essentially, hate and fear. And the murderous violence those things seem to inevitably lead to, when indulged.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

In Which The Knight Agency Goes And Fucks Itself

I had completely forgotten that the Knight Agency was on the list of places I sent my DERBY CITY DEAD announcement to.

Until I got this in the ol' email box today, anyway.

* * * * 

Dear Darren:

Thank you so much for allowing our agency to consider your material. Unfortunately, after carefully reviewing your query, we’ve determined that this particular project isn’t the right fit for our agency at this time. As I’m sure you know, the publishing industry changes swiftly now, as do readers’ tastes and trends. As a result, our own agents’ needs shift and change, as well; therefore, we would like to encourage you to consider querying us with future projects as you may deem appropriate.

Again, thank you very much for allowing us this chance to consider your material, and we wish you all the best in your publishing endeavors.

The Knight Agency
Submissions Coordinator

* * * * * *

I responded as follows:

* * * * * * *

No, thank YOU. It was kind of you to take a nanosecond out of your day to reject me absolutely out of hand with no consideration whatsoever. YOU and your great generosity of spirit are the reason why this world is the wonderful place it is, so full of opportunities for anyone with talent and a willingness to work hard. Really. Thank YOU.

* * * * * * * *

You know what? I would honestly rather be ignored than rejected. Especially when I know that if Stephen King had sent them the exact same email, they'd have fallen all over themselves begging for a manuscript. Fuckers.

Warriors... stay home and play with yourselves

I'm a big comics fan. A phrase you used to read a lot in the comics of the 80s and 90s was "a warrior born". Starfire of the New Teen Titans was "a warrior born". Wolverine was "a warrior born". Batman was "a warrior born". The Punisher was "a warrior born". Ms. Marvel was "a warrior born". Etc, etc, etc.

Leaving aside the probably ridiculous notion that anyone is ANYthing at birth besides bloody and squirming and crying, the notion of someone being "a warrior born" is actually kind of scary.

The posted quotation, above, bothers me because it pretty much directly compares 'warrior' and 'really nice guy' and states that 'warrior' is better. And it's not.

Warriors break things and hurt or kill people. They may have a good reason, they may not, but that's what they do. Really Nice Guys... are really nice guys. They don't break things or hurt or kill people. At least, not on purpose, and if they do, they don't throw back their heads and yell "FREEEEEEDOMMMMMM!!!" or something retarded like that, they feel bad and they apologize and if they can replace whatever it was they broke, well, that's what they do.

I do not in any way argue with the concept that many many women PREFER a 'warrior' to a 'really nice guy'. Many many woman do really like great big manly chunks of violent testosterone strutting around all hairy and belligerent and shit. I know this is true. I do not deny it.

Still, I am troubled by the claim that what women NEED is a warrior instead of a really nice guy. Because that's just bullshit. The women I know who couple up with Captain Macho are usually pretty miserable, and spend much of their time lamenting that they can't ever seem to meet a 'really nice guy'.

This concept -- women need a 'warrior', not a 'really nice guy'... seems to me to be akin to our culture's insane fetish for the military. I've been in the military, and the military is an organization where they spend a great deal of time uncivilizing their recruits. Why? Because when you grow up in a civilized culture, you gain an instinctive aversion to violence. The process is called 'socialization' and it's probably the greatest emotional advance the human race has ever made. The military is all about violence, they need their people to be violent -- on command -- so what the military does is, it takes civilized people ('civil' is the root word of both 'civilization' and 'civilian' for a reason) and turns them into folks who will blow things up, or hurt people, or kill them, just because someone with a decoration on their sleeve tells them to. This is not admirable. It is certainly not something that we should fetishize or worship.

Very Nice Guys... hell, Very Nice People... are what we are all supposed to be, and far too few of us are... and it's attitudes like the one below that cause people to think that being 'nice' is something that is foolish or futile or laughable or ridiculous or not cool. It is an attitude that encourages a culture of selfishness, of mean spiritedness, of bullying, of... well, of violence.

Very Nice People are far, far more important than Warriors. If there were more Very Nice People in the world and fewer Warriors (or people filled with contempt for the former and drooling worshipful awe for the latter) the world would be a far, far better place.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Derby City Dead


D.A. Madigan, Louisville's Best Local Author (LEO 2011 Reader's Choice), has produced a dozen previous novels of fantasy and science fiction, including

ZAP FORCE ("If you love Silver Age comics, and what decent person doesn't, Darren Madigan has recreated what you love in 'Zap Force.' It's nostalgic, it moves fast, and you can almost see the colored pages as you read. Tons of fun." - Daniel Keys Moran, author of EMERALD EYES, THE LONG RUN, and THE LAST DANCER)

THE FEAR MASTERS ("...a visual, energetic style..." - John DeChancie, bestselling author of CASTLE PERILOUS and SKYRIGGER )

and UNIVERSAL MAINTENANCE (“If you like well written science fiction by an intelligent and talented author this book is for you.” - Allyson Young).

Now for the first time he ventures into the bleakest, blackest reaches of urban horror with DERBY CITY DEAD, the story of a small group of people living in Louisville, Kentucky, who find themselves surrounded and besieged by hordes of screaming flesh eating ghouls, when the dead rise from the grave and begin to attack and devour the living.

As civilization crumbles and Derby City becomes an open urban grave overrun with legions of the hungry damned, a handful of survivors must pull together to endure the unending horror and terror of existence in the empty, death haunted ruins of a once thriving metropolis.