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text 2019-05-11 18:24
So...

my internet was out for 8 days. 8. DAYS. 192 hours. I am playing a serious game of Catch Up today. I've managed my emails and I'm working on my books now. I'm still working on the mess that is my blog. I've had to rearrange posts and...it's just a mess.

 

Long story short, NCDOT came along and mowed the roadsides which they do about once a month now that the grass is growing. However, the asshole who did it on the Fri the 3rd chewed up the box on the corner. I mean, DESTROYED it. Then AT&T is so fucking huge with their fucking call centers in Mexico and India (I'm guessing) that don't have clue one what is going on over here telling me that techs are fixing the problem. NO THEY WEREN'T. I have fucking eyes. There were no techs out here in this area until Tues afternoon and he didn't do shit. Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked. The box was destroyed Fri 5/3 at 10:00am. We finally got our internet back at 10:24am today. So there you have it. 8 days. 192 LONG hours without anything except my tiny smartphone. We saved the mobile data (for hotspots) for important things like watching the Carolina Hurricanes in the playoffs and Game of Thrones. My hubby used it to do his fantasy baseball. But that's about it. Ok, back to work I go.

 

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review 2018-04-15 09:11
Brontosaurus Shit: "On Bullshit" by Harry G. Frankfurt
On Bullshit - Harry G. Frankfurt

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share."

 

In “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt

 

"’a person who undertakes to bullshit his way through has much more freedom. His focus is panoramic rather than particular. He does not limit himself to inserting a certain falsehood at a specific point, and thus he is not constrained by the truths surrounding that point or intersecting it. He is prepared to take the context as well, so far as need requires. This freedom from the constraints to which the liar must submit does not necessarily mean, of course, that his task is easier than the task of the liar. But the mode of creativity upon which it relies is less analytical and less deliberate than that which is mobilized in lying. It is more expansive and independent with more spacious opportunities for improvisation, color, and imaginative play. This is less a matter of craft than of art. Hence the familiar notion of the 'bullshit artist'"

 

In “On Bullshit” by Harry G. Frankfurt

 

 

 

The current state-of-affairs (I won't name any more names) is not b... s... It is elephant shit! Or is it chicken shit? I know! It's Brontosaurus shit! Let's start by dropping the euphemisms. Not bullshit, not alternative facts, nor post-truth - but lies. Lies, lies, lies, lies. That's all we know how to do. The difference is important between a liar and a bullshitter. All politicians for instance, bend or interpret their own version of the truth but it is possible for us to take a view on their reasoning and motives. A bullshitter like Trump, Farage, Socrates (a former Portuguese Prime-Minister) literally couldn't care less and will say absolutely anything to anyone to get what they want and pivot 180 º in an instant.

 

 

If you want to Bullshit Your Way Into Any Situation, read on.

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review 2018-02-14 05:44
Not all things are lights
The Night’s Dark Shade: A Novel of the Cathars - Elena Maria Vidal

Disclosure:  I downloaded only the free sample preview of the Kindle edition of this book.  I do not know the author nor have I had any personal direct communication with her about this book or any other matter, but I am aware of her through discussions here on BookLikes.  I have also read reviews of her books and her comments regarding those reviews.  I am an author of contemporary and historical romance novels.

 

The Amazon preview feature is an option afforded to self-publishing authors so that they can give potential readers the opportunity to look at the opening of the book the way they would if they were browsing the shelves in a brick and mortar book store or a library. If the reader likes the beginning, they can buy or borrow the book and take it home to read the rest.  If the beginning isn't quite so intriguing, the reader puts the book back on the shelf and moves on.

 

Elena Maria Vidal's book is, in my opinion, outrageously over-priced at $9.99 for a Kindle edition of approximately 228 pages.  A writer with no professional credentials or writing track record would be well advised to lower the price and hope to get some readership.  At the current price, however, it had to be one hell of a fine book to tempt me.  In truth, if not for the fracas surrounding Ms. Vidal, I would never even have considered this book.

 

I've been interested in the Cathar "heresy" at least since my first reading of Frank Yerby's The Saracen Blade when I was in high school in the 1960s.  This was about the same time as the popular song "Dominique" was topping the charts, sung by a Belgian Dominican nun.  The song chronicles the life of Saint Dominic.  Although the English lyrics

 

At a time when Johnny Lackland
Over England was the King
Dominique was in the backland
Fighting sin like anything

 

seem innocuous enough, the original French words reflect more of Dominic's history:

 

A l'e poque ou Jean-sans-Terre de' Angleterre etait Roi
Dominique, notre Pere, combattit les Albigeois

 

"Combattit les Albigeois" does not mean "fighting sin like anything."  It means "fought the Albigensian(s)."''

 

I already knew what that meant.  I knew who the Albigensians were -- the Cathars -- and I knew why the Catholic Church was determined to exterminate them.

 

Years later, I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, the allegedly non-fiction account of Knights Templars and Cathars and the hilltop village of Rennes-le-Chateau in the south of France.  I also picked up Robert Shea's novel, All Things Are Lights, about the Cathars.  Right now it's on the top shelf of the big bookcase or I'd get it down and add a photo.

 

So I'm not totally ignorant of the history of the Languedoc and the Cathar heresy.

 

Oh, and one other thing.  In early February 1969, I hitchhiked from Paris to the Spanish border.  My journey took me through Cahors, Limoges, Montauban, and Toulouse before heading into the Pyrenees via Pamiers, Foix, and Col de Puymorens.

 

 

With this personal background, I downloaded the sample of The Night's Dark Shades.

 

For one thing, it's very short, hardly enough to get much of a taste of the story.  But, as I've noted often enough before, it's not difficult to determine a writer's skill at writing in just a few pages.

 

Elena Maria Vidal is not the greatest writer in the world.  Millions of murex snails would have to be sacrificed to produce so much purple prose.  It's not just the extravagance of adjectives and speech tags that make my eyes roll while reading, however.  It's also the fact that the text is boring. 

 

Lady Rafaelle is heading to her uncle's chateau where she will probably wed his son, her cousin, after the deaths of her father and her betrothed in . . . some war.  There's a lot of info dumping, but not much else.  Well, there are questions raised that should be answered right away.  They aren't.

 

Lady Rafaelle seems to be the heir to the estate of Miramande, in the somewhat distant region of Auvergne.  Her father is dead and there's no mention of any brothers or other siblings who would have inherited the estate and its chateau.  So, why is Rafaelle leaving her estate to go to her uncle's? Why did she initially consider entering a convent? Who is minding Miramande in her absence?

 

We get more information about Jehanette, the peasant who serves as Lady Rafaelle's handmaiden, than about why Rafaelle has seemingly abandoned her chateau.

 

That bothered me.  It seemed like that should have been an important plot point.

 

What also bothered me was that there's no description of the "rabble" of pilgrims who are accompanying Rafaelle and her troupe on the journey.  Well, no, that's not quite right.  There is some description, but it's not adequate.  How many are there?  I thought at first it must be a hundred or more, but apparently it's less than 20.  I would have liked to know that sooner.

 

Who else is in this train?  Two attending women, a couple of knights, and . . . . that's it?

 

This is important because one of the knights, in a tedious little info dump, informs Rafaelle that there are bandits in the mountains, murderous renegades of the religious war, I guess.  Because of the bandits, the knights advise against stopping for a brief rest.

 

Wait a minute.  What difference would stopping for a rest make?  I mean, if bandits are going to attack, couldn't they attack while the company from Miramande are on the move?  After all, they aren't moving very fast, because some of the pilgrims and men-at-arms are on foot.

 

If I as a reader think this, why didn't Rafaelle?  Why didn't she ask about this?  Well, of course she didn't because that wouldn't be good for the story, I suppose.  And also of course, Rafaelle prevails in demanding a brief rest and the bandits attack.

 

That's when I quit reading.

 

Purple prose for the sake of purple prose turns me off.  The opening paragraph that describes the pass in the Pyrenees would almost have been enough to make me put this book back on the figurative shelf.  But further reading didn't really improve my opinion.

 

There's no real sense of the historical period established.  Oh, the history is given: one king is dead, the new king is a minor, France is under the rule of the king's mother Queen Blanche, blah, blah, blah.  But it takes more than a few data points to make the reader feel as if she is in the scene.  Author Vidal wasn't able to bring me into that mountain pass.  She didn't give me a full sense of Rafaelle as a character, someone I could identify with as the story progressed.  I didn't know what she looked like, or even how old she was. 

 

Writers are free to write their stories any way they want.  Once they put their stories into the public marketplace, however, they must also accept the judgment of the readers who choose to look at those stories.  And readers are free to form and express their opinions on the writing, the stories, and yes, even the authors themselves.

 

As a reader, I'm not inclined to read any further into The Night's Dark Shade.  I'm more inclined to climb on a stepstool and pull All Things Are Lights down for a re-read.  Vidal's writing is insufficiently professional to command the price she's put on the book, but more importantly, it's insufficiently professional to command my attention.

 

One-half star and a Do Not Want to Read.

 

 

 

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text 2018-02-13 18:51
Vidal Update: Feb 13, 2018

On her Facebook Page:

 

 

Repeated on her blog:

 

Poor thing is stubbornly refusing to even consider the fact that her own actions and words are the cause of her troubles.

 

Also, in case you missed my updates on yesterday's post, all the comments posted by Stephen yesterday on GoodReads and Amazon are now deleted.

 

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text 2018-02-11 22:58
Vidal Update: Feb 11, 2018

Update posted to the end of her Trolls & Negative Reviews blog post:

 

Please note: Only one of the people shown in these screenshots is known to be a teacher.  I am not.  Although Ms. M. has been, she also is not.

 

Her utter lack of self-awareness when accusing others of indulging "in behavior worthy of high school bullies" and "acting in such a juvenile manner" is almost deliciously ironic, and flagrantly hypocritical.

 

She's the bully crying "victim" when her targets refuse to be intimidated.  She is the one functioning in a professional capacity gleefully spewing unprofessional garbage on her author's blog, and author's Facebook page.

 

Add this to the list of things Ms. Vidal is apparently unaware of: Readers have more of an interest than simply "merits or demerits of the books."  Authors targeting and harassing readers over negative book reviews is an interest to readers and is a valid consumer issue.  YES, readers are going to take note and share with each other about authors that target readers and attempt to intimidate them into removing reviews.

 

The first two screenshots are of Ms. M.'s reviews and the comments on those reviews (minus those that were deleted for GR TOS violations).

 

First link: https://screenshots.firefox.com/Bq1A2Bb8UqMwbHAO/www.goodreads.com

Second link: https://screenshots.firefox.com/DxNbjaezlqsj7mNB/www.goodreads.com

 

The third link is to a "Discussion" of one of her books. What she fails to mention is that this "Discussion" that is not about the "merits or demerits of the book" was started by one of her supporters, using the name "Soraya". At the time of this screenshot the original post had already been deleted by GoodReads, and the poster had been booted from GoodReads.

 

Therefore the posts that remain are in response to the original post started by one of her supporters. 

 

I don't have a screenshot of that OP, but I do have the text:

 

"It is shameful how Mrs. Vidal has been treated by certain trolls on Goodreads and Amazon. Read about it here: http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2017.."

 

Here's the link to her screenshot: https://screenshots.firefox.com/JLDvvI7tR2uVzJpm/www.goodreads.com

 

In the comments of her blog, Ms. Vidal seems to think a lot of hits to this blog post is a good thing.  She's apparently unaware of how many are checking it out to verify she's really posted the awful things that have been reported, and wait with their popcorn handy for the next bat shit crazy thing she comes up with (good idea to use Proxy Servers when visiting folks!).

 

She reports 1638 hits to date, and yet has only a handful willing to post in support on her blog and/or on her Facebook page.  Although she also mirrors over on Twitter, and has over 1,000 followers there, she's getting 0 responses, retweets, or likes.

 

I'm not sure those high numbers are in your favor, Vidal.

 

 

 

She also cross posted this to her Facebook page:

 

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