June 16th, 2008

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

It's a fake...warning for writers

SFWA is not running a writing contest.  SFWA isn't going to run a writing contest.  The contest described on Craigslist and FLiXER is a fake, a scam, intended to bring in money for the person who posted it.


If you've heard of this contest, were thinking of entering, or *have* entered...go read the WriterBeware blog entry on it at the above URL.  It's a fraud, a scam, a total 100% lie. 

You'd think such scams would be obvious even to the most eager not-yet-published writer, but they're not--wishful thinking can obscure the warning signs.   I was taken  in by a poetry contest while in high school--used up my allowance for a month for the entry fee without telling my mother, but she caught on when they wanted an incredibly high price for a copy of the book my poem was in.  

While SFWA tries to track down and deal with the person who perpetrated this scam, don't any of you fall for it.

woods, Elizabeth, camera, April

A Message to my Congressman

My Congressman is John R. Carter, a Republican.   Over the weekend, we had phone calls (both lines) with an automated "constituent survey"--I loathe automated phone calls, so did not participate (besides, the first question was so leading that it was obvious where this was going.)  Carter and I are opposite on most issues (I expect we agree that torturing small children is wrong, but since that's not a national issue, I'm not sure even on that.)

At any rate, I sent him an email this morning, relevant to both the survey and its initial question and I'm sharing it here.   It is a rant, because, you know, I'm seriously annoyed with him and his fellow Elephants (you'd think it would be hard for elephants to stick their heads in the sand or up their butts, but they keep managing...)   Rant rules apply here: troll and hornet comments will be removed.   My space, my  money that paid for it, my rules. 

Your office sent an automated telephone survey to our phone.  I do not answer automated telephone surveys.

But your first question was whether I was upset by high gas prices.  Somewhat, yes--but more upset that you and your party have consistently, for three or four decades, in the face of obvious signals that this day was coming, REFUSED to take any of the steps that would have eased our transition from an oil-based economy to one based on renewable energy sources.

Not only have Republicans refused take those steps, the Republican Party has consistently obstructed attempts to take them, ridiculed those who pointed out the energy cliff ahead, and simply taken the oil companies' word that if we only let them destroy every ecosystem in the world, they'd take care of it for us.  Not true. 

The high gas prices were coming anyway, but the economic problems this will cause every American are YOUR FAULT--yours, and that of every other Republican (and some Dems) who blindly denied reality.

Your claim that the Republican energy policy is sensible and environmentally sound is wrong--and if you don't know that, you've simply dug your head in the sand or some other dark place to avoid the facts.

The Arctic National Wildlife Reserve is NOT the source of quick oil to solve this crisis.  Ripping the top off the land to get at oil shales is not the source of quick oil to solve this crisis.  Building a lot of nuclear power plants really fast isn't a quick solution.  There is no quick solution.  The refusal of politicians like you to look ahead and think strategically put this nation (and the world, for that matter) into a position where there is no quick easy "solution."  Changing course now will be harder on more people, and cost more, than if you (both individually and as the Republican Party) had accepted reality and started the changeover back in the '70s.  But here's the deal: if you don't at least try, you will  be held responsible for this country's complete collapse.  You Republicans have done more damage to this country--its natural and human resources, its economy, its international prestige--than any official "enemy" has or could.  We are poorer and weaker as a nation because you got control of Congress and then the Presidency...of course, the people who lobbied you are richer and more powerful, but as a citizen, a military veteran, and someone who actually cares about this country, I don't think that's a fair trade. 

Here's what needs to happen: no more aid, tax breaks, or concessions to the oil companies.  No more pussy-footing with the auto industry: fuel efficiency now, period.  Other countries can do it--we could too.  Immediate funding and tax breaks to encourage energy efficiency and generation of power from renewable sources...and research  to continue to make those more efficient.  Again, other countries are far ahead of the US.  In 2000, I saw solar-heated buildings in western Wales--in January.  So why, in Texas, do we not use our abundant sunshine for solar power, solar heating?  You know why, if you're at all honest: because you let the existing energy suppliers talk you out of it, sneering at "environmentalists" and "junk science."  Mass transit: all over Europe and in much of New Zealand and Australia (esp. cities) you don't need a car to get around.  We could have had commuter rail in central Texas and linking cities up and down the I-35 corridor, if moving from highways to other forms of transport had been seen as a strategic priority.  (Would I personally ride a train into Austin?  Sure, just as when in the UK I rode trains from London to Cambridge or York or Edinburgh.)

It will now cost more than it would have thirty-forty years ago to implement large-scale solar and wind power generation and revitalize efficient ground transportation...but that's your fault, yours and the others who chose to listen to the oil lobby and auto lobby.

So though I don't enjoy paying $3.89 a gallon for gas (yesterday's price everywhere, on the way home from church) any more than anyone else, I know who's to blame for it: YOU are.  The Republicans and the Libertarians.  The anti-environmentalists.  The wastrels.  Those who prate about fiscal responsibility while running up a huge deficit and getting us involved in an endless war that wastes millions of barrels of fuel and billions of dollars while costing us allies and national prestige. 

You, come up with a sound, sensible, energy policy?  It is to laugh bitterly.  You don't want a sound energy policy.  You want profit for your friends and to hell with the rest of us.

It won't change his mind, of course.  I don't expect that: he's getting too  much butter on the other side of his bread.    It merely relieves my feelings.   The first inklings of all this were known in the oil bidness even during the 1940s...were openly discussed in the 1950s and early '60s...a time when (since adults tend to forget that teenage kids have ears and brains) I heard a lot of it.   The political implications, the economic implications, all of it.  But it made more profits for the few, and created the least need for change, for educating people to understand the issues, to pretend there was no problem, that the day would never come.  And to that end, the "energy industry" made sure politicians understood and approved its agenda.   The established industry, the companies that already existed, were to get the profits, as long as possible from fossil fuels, and then (when they'd had ample time to take over the unsupported and thus vulnerable new technology companies) the new stuff.  (BP, which was British Petroleum, was first to jump on the alternative energy source bandwagon: they now manufacture solar panels, among other things.)