Saturday, May 18, 2013

Wartime Propaganda in Canada.

Is it really news or are you trying to send a message?

In World War One and WW II our free and open society used propaganda to forward the war effort and motivate the Canadian people. Most readers would agree if they’ve ever read any kind of book on the subject of Canada at war.

Propaganda was carried out by the mainstream media of the day, which included newspapers, magazines, books, newsreels, radio and speeches. We’re all aware of the propaganda by Nazi Germany in the period 1933-1945, and Soviet propaganda machines.

So it would appear that if we are indeed at war in Afghanistan, then perhaps it’s not such a giant intuitive leap of the imagination to ask, “Is there propaganda in the data-stream coming out of the media?”

The answer is self-evident, but we’ll ask the following questions on behalf of today’s young men who apparently have some kind of a literacy problem, good educations notwithstanding.

What form would it take? What would it look like? Who would be doing it? Why are they doing it? What is the purpose? How is it being done? What effect is it having? Who pays for it?

If every TV journalist in the nation starts wearing a poppy in late September and keeps it on until early January, is this a free choice, or some kind of policy? Please state the message in exact words. I don't find the symbology valid anymore.

When a CTV Newsnet journalist looks a guest advocating withdrawal from Afghanistan in the eyes and asks, (we had about 38 casualties at the time,) “Did they all die in vain, then?” that’s pretty heavy stuff.

The only time they ask tough questions is when dissent is offered? Nice.

The propaganda is out there once you become aware of the possibility. It’s not seamless, not unless you accept it as the truth without question.

“Perception is reality.”

If you believe it to be true, then it becomes truth. In the end, truth really doesn’t matter. What matters is public opinion. And that can be ‘managed,’ from time to time.

The first law of human communication is this: “No matter who you’re talking to, you’re only getting half a story.”

The second law of human communication states: “The government will tell you what it wants you to think.”

The third law of human communications states, “The mainstream media of the day are either self-regulating, or regulated by the government. It’s their choice.

The fourth law of human communications goes like this: “You don’t have to believe everything you read in a newspaper, hear on the radio, see on TV, or get off the internet.”

I’ve just scooped all the mainstream big-bucks media in the land on this wartime propaganda thing.

We all have our little role to play.

Anyhow, to engage in idle speculation is the mark of a free man. (And never try to argue with an idiot.)

I often thought I’d make a good propagandist, but you really need to get inside the subject’s head. In order to do that you need to understand human nature. You also need to understand his culture, his attitudes. You have to know what makes them tick. All human beings have a sense of justice, and a sense of humour. Virtually all men like true words, honestly spoken with a flair.

My problem as a Canadian, is that I kind of got used to trying to make informed choices. Well, the fog of war is legendary—it’s also true. If our own government is generating a big smokescreen, I have to ask why? Where is the threat? Where is it coming from? What is its nature? And why should I care? I got enough problems of my own to deal with.

I see Mr. Harper’s government as a kind of tragicomedy of errors. Mr. Trudeau’s government will be a light slapstick comedy with a host of zany characters. Just what the viewers need to wind up a long and interminable interlude. And let’s try to have our boys and girls home by the year 2014. Uh, that’s Christmas, 2014.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A sight for sore eyes.

A sight for sore eyes, eh.

A friend of mine asked me for a lift to the liquor store as the LCBO may be going on strike.
He went to college for four years. He studied Early Childhood Education and even has some letters after his name.
He earns minimum wage. He and his wife both work in the same field. They have a kid and they live in geared to income housing which is pegged at one-third of your income in terms of rent.
This involves an agreement between the Housing Authority, the landlord or developer, and the tenants. They are lucky to have it, as you may well imagine.
The folks at the LCBO, and this is why I bring it up, are supposedly, according to him, in dispute with the employer due to the fact there are no (or very few) full-time employees.
These employees make $25.00 an hour according to my buddy, which sounds like a pretty good rate if you’re on minimum wage, pensioned off or just plain out of work.
It’s all part-time work.
That way, the employer—the Province of Ontario, doesn’t have to provide all kinds of employment benefits, which on sheer speculation might include group life insurance, health and dental plans, more vacation time after so many years of service, burial benefits, death in the workplace benefits, late shift premiums, increased vacation pay, matching contributions to retirement; or education plans for dependents, the list of potential benefits goes on. The exact same benefits as other full-time provincial employees currently receive, for example.
There’s more to it than that. If they get laid off, and liquor sales do have some seasonal aspects, their unemployment benefits, at whatever rate, perhaps 55 % of base pay according to the calculation, the fact that they have never worked full time, it kills them. It takes longer to even qualify, for it’s pegged to the number of hours worked in the last time period, often six months or a year.
My buddy and his wife mentioned some astronomical figures in terms of student debt.
I went back to college a couple of time and racked up some debt myself along the way.
But I find the whole thing a bit amusing because in the story, ‘The Note,’ the author mentioned with some exaggeration that the protagonist moved six hundred kilometres from home to earn $140.00 a week plus expenses.
They work twenty-eight hours a week so they can’t call it a full-time job. They all went to college or university…there’s a dress code, where the protag’s mom, who is so proud of her son’s new career, buys him a bunch of nice clothes and puts it on her credit card. He's got some college too.
They’re white collar workers. They have a career rather than just a job. And that’s an important social distinction.
Certain fields of endeavor look good up front, it’s only once you really get into it that you realize it’s not all a bed of roses.
I’d take $25.00 an hour part-time, and the liquor store’s not a bad place to work.
When the strike’s over I’ll get my ass over there and put in a resume.
I didn’t pick up any booze myself as I’m out of work and flat broke. Anyhow, at least I now know someone with a forty-pounder of Crown Royal.

Friday, May 10, 2013

A checklist for electronic self-publishing.

A checklist is a plan of action in sequential order.

Before publishing that first story electronically, having a checklist and following it may be helpful.
Proofread the manuscript with spell check and grammar check turned on.
Have proper end matter in the front of the book, and an author bio either at the front (conventional) or end of the book, (for ease of customer sampling online, as it wastes less space in the preview.)
Check all paragraphs including scene breaks, titles and chapter numbers for normal paragraph style.
Put the proper ISBN number in the front matter. Once you have an ISBN account, and a block of ten numbers, (Canada) it takes about three minutes to generate your own number. It’s also very easy to use Smashwords’ free ISBNs and on Amazon ISBNs are optional. As far as I’m concerned it’s more professional to have them.
Make or get a marketing image. Ensure that it is the proper size. Mine are all 300 dpi these days and usually about 1600 x 2100 or thereabouts.
You want all your stuff ready to go, which is better than writing a hasty blurb in the heat of the moment.
Write a blurb for the book and save it in a .doc file. Write an author bio for yourself and save as a .doc.
Get yourself a good, clean profile pic with some display of personality but also show some restraint. You’re not a circus act, a hip-hop crew or whatever. You’re a serious author.
Sign up for a fresh free e-mail service. Use this e-mail to sign up for Smashwords and Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. Use this account for all business associated with your name and book or story business dealings. You’ll be using this account to manage Twitter, and other social platforms where you start to get followers. You can follow back from the inbox. (Always check to see what account you’re signed into when following back if you have more than one pen-name.) Personal business can easily get lost in the rash of notifications that we sometimes get.
Use the e-mail to sign up for Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc. Get a free blog, and set it up with your bio, your picture, your name on the header. Use the image widget to link to your book, you can set all this up and call it ‘Coming Soon.’ Write something in a general sense about your book, bearing in mind no spoilers and also that it will be people’s first impression of you as a writer.
Once in Smashwords or Amazon, before you even publish the first book, click around and get a feel for the place. Learn how to make a coupon, or even just find out what ‘distribution channels’ actually are.
Use tags in the product description. I already know The Note will be tagged erotica, memoir, fiction, novelette, Ian Cooper…five to seven tags will be sufficient for any book without going into overkill mode.
Log into Smashwords with your username and password and upload the file, filling in the blanks as you go. Even if the autovetter doesn’t notify you of any errors, download Kindle and Epub files from your new book page, immediately as they go live. Use your desktop versions of Kindle reader and in my case Nook reader apps and check for errors in the formatting of the book. Pretty much all online bookstores have a reading app and you can find one you like with a little shopping around.
If you don’t have them on your machine, make sure you write that into your checklist. Canadians can sign up for ISBN numbers, (free) but it takes a few days to become active, so do it in good time.
(For me, I like to publish on Friday night, Saturday night, or maybe Saturday or Sunday mornings. Publishing on a Tuesday at six a.m. isn’t exactly prime time but if that’s the only time you have, so be it. It takes up to 12 hours to go live on Amazon (U.S.) so if you publish it early in the morning it might pop out into the new releases during the evening hours. Plan accordingly, right? Also, once the book is live, copy the link at the top of the page. Go to your new blog and past the link into the image widget so people who read the blog can click on the link and see it in the store.)
Assuming everything looks good in the Smashwords downloads, wait for it to go through for Premium Distribution (Smashwords) before going too nuts with the promotion. It takes a few days but it gives you some peace of mind about the formatting. (They do not edit your work, your blurb, or your bio.)
Once satisfied with the file, take out references to Smashwords and their disclaimer. Save that version as an .html (web page) and upload that to Amazon. When closing the .doc file, it will revert to the original .doc version you uploaded to Smashwords, who keep a copy on file anyway. It’s at the bottom of your book page.
Doing things in sequential order and checking them off as you go along just makes things a whole lot easier.

Comments are always welcome.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Note. Ian Cooper.

by Ian Cooper.

The literary erotic novelette entitled ‘The Note’ is based on some experiences that happened to me many years ago. It’s not really autobiographical in nature because of all the changes made to the basic story line, and in fact things up ended a lot differently in my case.
Devlin, whose last name is never given in the story, is young, he’s a long ways away from home, and he’s lonely and inexperienced. He kills a lot of time driving around or drinking in his room. He seems a bit immature. These bits are autobiographical.
This was a fun story to write. And it’s true: there was a place where I lived and worked, some interesting things happened, and I still think about that place today. I still refer back to those experiences, those people, that particular time and place in my life, and yes, back to a time when I was young. My whole life lay ahead of me and it seemed the world was my oyster.
It seems to me that no fear equates with no experience. Perhaps that’s the difference. As we get older we’re less likely to take those risks, and perhaps to seek those joys which are the province of the young, and those with not much to lose and possibly everything to gain.
There is no beating the optimism of youth. It’s true I made some mistakes, pretty much the same ones Devlin made.
Those experiences helped me to become who I am today and perhaps it is wise to keep that in perspective.