Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Gun Guns Guns:  More news from Portland's murder-mystery convention

     I just read an article stating that despite what we constantly see advertized on TV, the three major hot-selling commodities in the world right now aren't sexy new cars, cool new clothes at the mall or even hot new apps for your iPhone.  They are guns, steel and oil. 

     China has almost a monopoly on steel production, the U.S. and Saudis are currently fighting over who can undercut the price of oil the most, and America has been getting all piss-y lately because its monopoly on gun production is being challenged by Russia.  http://journal-neo.org/2015/03/25/the-global-crisis-of-exports-oil-steel-and-guns/

      Guns or butter?  Looks like guns are surely winning out.  But just tell that to your kid the next time she asks for a piece of toast.  "Let them eat RPGs!" you can shout.  Nothing but dry toast for you, Missy.

       Which nicely brings us to the subject of social justice and a panel discussion of it that I recently attended at a murder-mystery readers and writers convention in Portland, Oregon http://www.leftcoastcrime.org/2015/.  But right before the panel started, a bunch of us went off on a tour of southeast Portland, which is famous for its food carts, strip clubs, craft breweries and vodka distilleries.  Who knew that the New Deal distillery produced vodka made from wheat, not potatoes?  http://www.newdealdistillery.com/our-products/  "Vodka is the name of a process, not an ingredient." 

        Then we finished the tour with lunch at Lardo, a BBQ joint, and got back to the convention just in time to attend the panel on the role of crime novels as instruments of social justice.

       Author J. David Osbourne was raised in a trailer park in Oklahoma.  "And as a result of my upbringing, I always try to humanize the lives and motives of societal scum.  I don't write about the lives of the rich and powerful because, like most other Americans, I don't even know how that works."  So he writes about the hard-scrabble anti-heroes that he does know about -- and their victimization by the larger criminals behind that victimization.

       Then author Mette Ivie Harrison gave me a free copy of her audio-book, "The Bishop's Wife" -- about being a Mormon in Utah.  She said, "I became an atheist for years because after my sixth baby died, people in my church kept saying, 'When bad things happen, it's because there is a lesson to be learned,' thus putting all the onus on the victim.  That's where religions go wrong."

        Author Lisa Brackmann speaks Mandarin and spends time in China, writing about the inner workings of China's rich and powerful.  I love, love, love Brackmann's books.  Her sense of timing always has me on the edge of my seat.  Read "Rock Paper Tiger" and see what I mean.  I was also lucky enough to score a draft copy of her next book, "Dragon Day," coming out next August.  http://www.randomhouse.com/book/250619/dragon-day-by-lisa-brackmann

       "If you are writing crime fiction," stated Brackmann, "you can't be didactic.  The larger issues that you want to bring to your reader's attention need to be woven into an exciting story.  And I myself always need to understand what drives things like the Iraq war or the prison system before I can explain it to others."

       And I myself also need to understand what drives Portland before I can explain it to others as well.  Basically, Portland appears to be a city that doesn't take any crap!  Portlanders fight climate change, have a fabulous transportation system, are pro-choice and anti-war and against napalming babies in the Middle East, don't fluoridate their water, actually smile at strangers, don't give a damn about Fox News and do yoga in the park in the rain.

       Next, I attended an interview with Timothy Hallinan and won a copy of his book, "The Fame Thief," in a raffle.  And, OMG, speaking of guns.  There are a hecka lot of shots fired in this book.  But it is quite humorous too -- when the hero isn't dodging bullets that is.  But Hallinan loves to write.  "I write and I eat and I talk to my wife.  That's all I do."  Sounds like my kind of guy.

       And Hallinan also has a hard time finishing books.  Me too!  I've been editing my historical novel, "Pictures of a Future World," for over ten years now.  But Hallinan has an app for that on his website.  It's called "Finishing Your Novel" http://www.timothyhallinan.com/writers.php   So who knows?  I may even finish my novel about the present, past and future at some time in the nearer (not farther) future, thanks to him.

PS:  Here's another mystery:  When that young Airbus co-pilot (allegedly) seized control of a airplane and flew it into a mountain last week, he (allegedly) took the lives of all of the passengers of that plane with him as well -- and everyone who read this news was horrified by this (alleged) mass murder!  http://www.sott.net/article/294482-Germanwings-crash-Not-the-full-story#
    Yet when the elite and uber-wealthy co-pilots who have (actually) seized control of our planet, (actually) locked themselves into the cockpit of Airbus Earth, and are (actually) trying to fly it into an even higher mountain of murderous destruction by way of their greed, climate-change denial and unnecessary wars, almost none of my fellow passengers on this Airbus Earth seem to hardly even notice or care.

PPS:  Just to make it perfectly clear that, even though I'm currently having trouble getting to places like Libya, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Egypt and Gaza, I still haven't forgotten about all those other guns, guns, guns, the ones being constantly being shipped to the Middle East from America -- and here are two links on that subject to prove it. 
     First there's this link:  "Saudis, Allies plan massive invasion of Yemen: 150,000 Saudi Troops, Unknown Number of Egyptians Mass on Yemen Border."  http://news.antiwar.com/2015/03/26/saudis-allies-plan-massive-invasion-of-yemen/

     And then there's this link:  https://medium.com/@SumerRising/anti-shiism-western-media-foreign-policy-islamic-state-and-blatant-lies-122cd5742afb  The author of "Anti-Shiism, Western media, the Islamic State and blatant lies" states:

     "I am a Shiite.  I am an Iraqi.  There is no single group on this planet who has as much to lose from ISIS as myself.  Christian men are asked to pay jizya or leave, Yezidi men are given the opportunity to 'repent' and convert, but Shiite men are actively hunted out, tortured, and executed with no other option on the table.  Even the choice to convert — as disgusting as it is — is not offered. 

     "What makes it worse, however, is that the rest of the world seems to go on a victim-blaming tangent of how Shiites should be held responsible for their own oppression.  Throughout this conflict, I have maintained my position:  I am not anti-Sunni, I am anti-sectarianism, I am anti-exploitation, anti-oppression and anti-destruction."

      Sounds like this author has social justice in mind too.  And it's still a mystery to me why so many psychopaths keep trying to kill him in real life -- not in just crime fiction.

     And if any newspaper editor out there wants to pay my way to the Middle East as a war correspondent, to report on Yemen as well as on Portland, then I'm your person!

PPPS:  And then of course there are all the guns, guns, guns that are currently loose on the streets of America.  And as for the police needing all those new weapons to control their cities and towns, "If the police don't have the confidence of the community, they will fail no matter what they do or don't do," to quote one survivor of The Troubles in Belfast.  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/7-biggest-reasons-america-screwed?akid=12956.1838163.k5KfIP&rd=1&src=newsletter1034088&t=5