Category Archives: errata

A Writer’s Toolbox (Part 2)

This is a three-part post.

The first focuses on software and websites that offer Software as a Service. The second is focused on people, the third on building a WordPress site.

People and Groups

The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers Association, (SFWA)
runs a semi-annual mentoring program. I was fortunate to have a mentor for the first 3 months of 2023. It’s not just for members (I’m an Associate Member, the lowest level), and anyone can apply, not just science fiction  or fantasy writers. (There’s a large romance community within SFWA).

I used to be a member of the British Science Fiction Association (BSFA), but it didn’t compare to the SFWA, so I’ve let that lapse. I know next to nothing about the Society of Authors, perhaps someone here knows about them? I understand that they’re a good ally.

Brandon Sanderson is one of the best-known active fantasy authors. He was also a lecturer at Brigham Young University. All of his lectures are on YouTube. It’s a lot, but if you have time, they can be very informative.

Writing Excuses is a podcast I mentioned elsewhere. It was created by the aforementioned Brandon Sanderson and Mary Robinette Kowal (current President of the SFWA) among others and is in season 18. Each episode is about 15 minutes long. it’s fun and informative, and develops a real sense of community as you listen to it. If you wish, there’s writing prompts at the end of each lesson. I found seasons 6-13 to be very beneficial.

Janice Hardy runs a website called Fiction University. They dissect craft, focussing on what does and doesn’t work. They also occasionally post writing prompts where you can post your effort for feedback. 

Need some motivation to write, or at least an external goal?

Jane Friedman‘s newsletter is considered a must-read in the publishing world, and it’s free.

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a free challenge to join, every November. You’ll be assigned a team, based on geography, and you’ll each be challenged to complete 50,000 words in one month (Making the goal isn’t as important as attempting). Of note, participants often get real discounts on software like Scrivener, Plottr, Atticus, etc. If you’re looking to form a writing group that’s all local to you, this can be a great way to find writers.

They’ve also added Camp NaNoWriMo, a July run of the same program.

As you get further in your writing career, you might want to pay attention to the following sites. 

Victoria Strauss’ Writers Beware (sponsored by the SFWA) helps writers avoid scammers trying to separate you from your money. 

The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) is a very helpful organisation (I’m a member) that vets service suppliers (like editors) and will also give you advice on any publishing contract you’re offered. When Disney started underpaying writers, and withholding royalties, ALLi and SFWA were on the front line raising awareness in the media and hiring lawyers to pressure Disney into honouring its contractual obligations.

At some point, you’re probably going to want to build a newsletter so you have some form of direct link to your fans (they subscribe to it). There are many newsletter delivery services that offer a free option if your newsletter is below a certain number of subscribers (usually 1,000).. Mailerlite, Convertkit, and Mailchimp are the ones usually recommended. If you have money to burn, Constant Contact is great (I used it for a client). A friend swears by Email Octopus, but I’d never heard of it.

BookFunnel will help you find readers for your newsletter, and help give them a digital gift. BookFunnel works well with most if not all of the newsletter services mentioned above.

Draft2Digital and its subsidiary, Books2Read are very helpful in distributing and selling books, if you self-publish.

Additions from friends in the writing community:

As well as Email Octopus, my friend recommends “a great book on newsletters, Newsletter Ninja by Tammi LaBrecque.”

David Gaughran has an email list, a series of classes on advertising and many books on creating a fan base, and how to work with Amazon, Bookbub, etc, and overall thoughts on marketing. 

The annual Inkers Conference ( both virtual and in person). This is a writing conference that provides tons of topics like craft, marketing, etc. You can then watch all the sessions at your leisure for three years post event as they are all filmed and posted. This is also a very active community on facebook. You will also get invited to some free one-off sessions.

The Editorial Freelancers Association is where you can search for a professional editor.

That’s it for Part 2. Go to Part 1. Go to Part 3.

A Writer’s Toolbox (Part 1)

This is a three-part post.

The first focuses on software and websites that offer Software as a Service. The second is focused on people, the third on building a WordPress site.

Software and Websites

For note-taking almost any app will do. Don’t overlook your email app. I often write or dictate notes on the go directly into my iPhone email app and send them to myself. I use the story title as subject to make it easier to search them later on my laptop.

When it comes to writing, long form, I love Scrivener. I was about 80,000 words into a novel when I found that Word just couldn’t give me what I needed – the ability to re-arrange scenes, find specific points in the story, try different flows for pacing. Scrivener makes all of that easy (and so much I don’t use, like research, timelines, plotting tools). It has a 30-day free trial. I bought it on day 6. I can use it to write the scene that is the set up and the scene that is the pay-off at the same time, then move them to their respective places in the story. Within 6 months, I had a 135,000 word draft of a complete story. (It still needs revision, but that’s on me, not the software)

If you’re a more linear writer, then Word may work fine for you. I know other writers who swear by Google Docs, but I’ve not used it.

Plottr is a relatively recent piece of software that helps writer who are plotters, well, plot out their novels. Again, I’ve not used it, but I’m told it works for many types of plotting, like linear and snowflake plotting.

Grammarly advertises everywhere, and it can be very useful for discovering your mistakes, but it can also over-power your voice. That’s also true for these next two recommendations. I don’t use Grammarly, I use the free levels of both Hemingway App and ProWritingAid. And I use them both, in that order, as they do slightly different things, and catch slightly different mistakes. Hemingway will tell you how readable your text is, and at what grade level, as well as flagging complex sentences. It also catches passive voice.

ProWritingAid will catch many more grammatical and spelling errors. You don’t need the paid versions, in my experience, as long as you’re not offline when you need them. None of these supplant the need for a human editor.

If you’re a self-pubber, you’re going to want to format ebooks at some point. Scrivener does this quite nicely, but there are some specialized tools that may be better. Vellum and Atticus are the two that come to mind. I’ve not used either, as I know Scrivener well enough for my needs, but they both have a high profile in the self-pubbing community. 

Canva lets you make decent covers without needing to know Photoshop, but if you’re serious, you’ll end up using (or hiring someone who is using) Photoshop .

I do my print layouts in InDesign, but Vellum or Atticus should be able to do those also. Technically, you can do those layouts in Word, but I wouldn’t expect to get good results without a lot of pain.

I want to mention BookBrush. this is for creating ads for self-published works. Again, there are many paid tiers, but the free tier offers a lot of good stuff. You upload your book cover, select from a generous listing of free mock-ups and download the image of your cover embedded in the mock-up. A much more limited version of this, but also free, is DIY Book Covers.

That’s it for Part 1. Go to Part 2. Go to Part 3.

No Opinion is the Safest Opinion

Since the rise of social media and the polarization of all public discourse (they are one and the same, no?), it’s become imperative that everyone have an opinion about everything. But not just an opinion, you must have the Correct Opinion™ whatever that may be.

There are issues where I care enough to have read multiple perspectives, and developed a specific (I would like to think “informed”) opinion. But there are many areas where I just don’t know enough, and honestly, offering an opinion is unwise.

But you’re not allowed to not have an opinion these days. Not if you’re anywhere on social media or those who want you to have an opinion are anywhere on social media.

This is where I envy my wife. She does have a facebook account (and no other social media), but she only visits it maybe once every few years. She uses the account so rarely that we were married before she accepted my “friend” request. The totality of our relationship to that point had happened between times she’d checked her social media.

Sometimes I try to tell her about whatever shitstorm is eating Twitter or Threads and she just asks why am I there?

As someone who is trying to build an audience for my stories, I have no choice but to be on social media to some extent. If you go to almost any social media platform, you’ll find I’m there in name, if not much in presence. But as someone who wants to be seen, I also don’t want to be seen when it comes to being dragged into certain issues.

I could make a list here of issues I do have opinions about, and those I don’t, but why set myself up? Why risk pissing off someone I’ve never met, and risk them calling on legions that again I’ve never met, to harass me for not sharing their defined Correct Opinion™?

So I use social media less and less, reducing my footprint, my reach, and any hope of building an audience. But if you have “the Correct Opinion™” you have nothing to fear, so why not make your voice heard, someone right now is thinking.

That’s not true.

Once you’ve stated an opinion on a crucial topic, you will be forced to stick with it forever, even if your opinion changes.

Here I will state an example. As someone who has done a lot of charitable work within Africa, I am a big fan of solar power and internet by satellite. For a while, this made me a big fan of Elon Musk. He was making something that the underdeveloped world needed into a profitable venture, not charity. That’s huge.

I’m not a fan now, he’s embraced so many extreme(ly stupid) people and causes. But that’s irrelevant. Anyone who wishes can drag up posts of mine from five or six years ago and use them against me.

I do stand by what those opinions represented at the time. I still think that changing the improvement of underdeveloped societies from a charitable activity to an economically sound activity is the cornerstone to pulling more people out of poverty.

I don’t stand by the man who was this movement’s poster child. And I don’t stand by a revisionist interpretation of my ideas through the lens of the Correct Opinion™ on social media.

In this polarized age, once you’ve stated an opinion, you’re simply not allowed to change. Not in today’s discourse, not on social media. So why do it?

I can’t be alone. Self-censorship, withdrawal form the public discourse, emboldens extremism. But what’s the option? Be sacrificed by people you may support for not being extreme enough in your voice?

Naming Names

In a series that I’m developing, I’ve got a bunch of characters from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. But … the story is set thousands of years in the future and the cultures aren’t the same as what we know.

Even given that, some names sound like cultures that exist today, but others sound exotic to our ears.

One of the characters, who I don’t want to sound too exotic to a western reader, is Brett Westmoreland, head of security on the IUDV Chaucer (Interplanetary Union Diplomatic Vessel).

While that name has withstood any number of revisions and edits, it’s started to cause a conflict. You see in the latest round of layering edits, I’m adding a weapons officer, and her first name is definitely Brita.

But Brita and Brett, two people who are on the bridge of the ship, speaking important info, during crises, may cause confusion in the reader’s mind. So I’ve been looking for an alternative for Brita.

Instead, I found one for Brett.

I’ve been re-reading golden age science fiction, and I’ve just finished The Naked Sun by Isaac Asimov. This murder mystery culture clash of the future is an interesting story to deconstruct in its own right, but for our needs today, there’s only one element I need to discuss: the name of the murder victim, Rikaine Delmarre.

Rikaine is an interesting name. It jumped out at me every time it occurred. Maybe it could replace Brett.

Rikaine Westmoreland.

Why Westmoreland? In my lifetime there has been a high profile American general named Westmoreland. I like the connotation of the name in the reader’s mind, for my chief of security.

I have another character whose name I want to mention, Char Osbaldiston. This character started out as a man, but Char is an ambiguous name, and once I’d written a bit more, it made more sense to flip the character to female.

Here’s where it gets fun. As I’ve been developing Char, I’ve given her a lover, a younger, male crew member of a lower rank (it’s a scandal). But in the prequel story that I’d started mapping out before I switched Char to female, Char has a girlfriend.

I’ve decided I’m going to leave both as is, without any commentary from crew or narrator (except for the lower-rank scandal). I feel that’s the right way to write this character; she’s comfortable with who she is, so no one challenges her lifestyle.

FYI, the name “Osbaldiston” comes to me from a Canadian Football League kicker, although his name may have been Osbaldistan. I don’t care which it was, this is the name as I’ve decided it exists in that universe and fits Char.

Marketing on Instagram vs Twitter

Two months ago, I started selling my own clothes online as “Skrap Apparel on Etsy.” I don’t have a marketing budget per se, so I’m trying to find organic reach through Twitter and Instagram. I set up new accounts on each (Insta. Twitter.) and I have about the same amount of followers (less than 20).

Recent ad on Twitter

Whenever I have a new article of clothing to promote, I make a post and put it on both Twitter and Instagram. As my accounts are new, and I’m not paying to promote, I only get a dozen or so views on each platform.


My results so far have been surprising and not at all equal.

According to Etsy, my store has gotten 84 visits from people “visiting directly”, which means they’ve had to type out or copy/paste the URL. And only 4 from clicks from Twitter, which Etsy can identify because they are clickable links. Now those 84 ‘direct visits’, where someone has had to copy-paste the URL, are, I believe, from the only place I’m posting my URL in an clickable format: Instagram posts.

So, with the same minimal exposure, I’m getting 21 visits to my shop from Instagram users for every 1 visit from a Twitter user, even though it’s easier to click and visit from Twitter.

Same ad on isntagram

Now one obvious advantage of Instagram is the character limit. With a message geared towards Twitter, I have a lot of room for hashtags on Instagram, and I keep lists of ones that work.

So maybe I’m finding my audience there, whereas I’m not on finding them on Twitter. That’s possible, but that’s also because Twitter chooses to constrain my ability to reach out, forcing me to do more work there to hopefully find a similar result. It’s not worth my time right now to do that.

So, how dos this all convert to sales? It hasn’t much yet, not enough to make any conclusions. I’ve had some problems with Etsy and pricing, you can read about it all here.

The Problem with Etsy

Ok, I’m trying to sell clothes on Etsy.

The key word here is Trying, because Etsy makes it almost impossible for me to know if I’ll ever make money on a sale or if selling on Etsy is a losing game.

So let’s start with a product, Men’s Swimming Trunks. These have a unique design of my own making. The cost to me for each one is $35 (all prices US$).

Etsy’s going to charge me 20¢ to list each item, including each time an item sells and I want it to remain listed.

Ok, now my total cost per sale is $35.20 (this will change).

Etsy also has a transaction fee, which does make sense, they are after all processing the credit card and in essence taking that risk. But the actual transaction fee is hard to calculate. It may be $3.50 per sale, but as a new operator, it is either $6.50 per sale or $6.50 per sale on top of the $3.50 (they’re very much NOT clear which).

So now my cost is somewhere between $38.70-$45.20 for each item sold.

But wait, there’s more.

As my item’s list price needs to be over $35 (or I lose money), Etsy won’t promote it unless I absorb the shipping cost for US customers (“Free Shipping”). This cost is at a minimum $4. it can be as high as $6.00 per item.

So now each sale of my swimming trunks cost me $42.70-51.20 to sell. If I charge anything less than $51.20, I may lose money.

But wait, there’s more.

Etsy automatically enrolled me in their “offsite ads” program. This allows them to promote my products on Google and Facebook. If any sale comes from one of those ads, Etsy will charge me an addition 15% on the sale. That’s another $7.68 on a sale of $51.20. So the cost to me to sell $35 board shorts could be as high as $58.88 per unit.

That’s with me breaking even, making neither a profit nor taking a loss.

If I want to make even $2 per sale, I have to charge $61.

First, who’s going to buy swimming trunks at $61?

Second, is $2 per sale worth it? Maybe to start. It is a 3.2% profit margin. Retail is supposed to target 7%, which would mean my price would have to be $64. That’s unrealistic.

Possible solutions, cost cutting.

It isn’t easy to get unenrolled from the “offsite ads” program. The link they send you in an email telling you that they’ve enrolled you, doesn’t work. To opt out, you need to find it. It’s not under Marketing, Finances, or Integrations. I found it under Settings. I’m out.

That allows me to get down to a $51.20 break even point.

I’m assuming that they’re charging me $6.50 per sale, not $10. That gets my break even down to $47.70 (and eventually $44.70 if the fee goes down to $3.50).

I’ll also project my shipping cost as $4 (not $6) for now. That brings my cost down to $45.70 ($42.70 eventually). I’m currently listing those swimming trunks at $46.95. I’d love the sticker price to be lower, but then Etsy won’t let me make any money.

Possible solutions, go elsewhere.

My best solution would be “Don’t be on Etsy.” I never intended to be on Etsy.

I built my own store in WordPress, using WooCommerce and Stripe. I connected it to my production partner in California. Things worked. We were about to launch. Then WooCommerce updated their WordPress plugin and (coincidentally?) everything broke. I can’t sell. The link between my partner and my store is broken. No one can tell me if or when it will be fixed (it’s been 10 days). I’m dead in the water.

I explored moving to Shopify. What a nightmare they are. Their “free trial” is only 3 days long and doesn’t fully work until you buy a plan. Even in the exceedingly frustrating and limited ‘actually free’ trial it became obvious that if I wanted my store to look and function as it had in WordPress, I’d have to pay way more than the lowest plan. Losses I’d either have to absorb or pass on in higher prices.

So I’m stuck on Etsy, charging more than I want and making less for it.

Cranberry Wizard Swimming Trunks, only available at Etsy (for now)

Of Peacocks and Practical Jokes

I’m not sure how vague I need to keep this one, but I’ll try to write it so that if you were there you’ll either know the story or be able to recognise the events. If you weren’t there, hopefully this will still be an amusing anecdote.

I had an employer who encouraged practical jokes. He wasn’t very good at them himself, but he saw them as a sign of a healthy work environment. Usually they were small things and not very memorable.

Then there was the time we created a news network, a revolution, and a plot to kidnap a person. All because of peacocks.

This was a school, and it had peacocks. They’re pretty birds, but they poop a lot and often in doorways or on sidewalks. The school decided to get rid of them (not knowing that the peacocks were killing the snakes – we’d learn that too late).

Many of us objected to the culling of the peacocks, and we decided to protest by making our own t-shirts, the Peacock Liberation Front. This is the photo I took and the graphic I made.

We decided that as a protest, we would kidnap the student-body president from the cafeteria at lunch time and “hold him hostage” until he had finished having lunch with us (we ordered pizza). We had flyers and we had a link to the Peacock News Network, a page put up on the school website (see image below).

Our demands were, of course, return the peacocks, for which we’d exchange the student.

We put this whole thing in motion, then…

The night before, our target, the student president, violated a major school rule and spent lunch in the Dean’s office as punishment. We couldn’t make a public “kidnapping” of him and we really couldn’t reward him with pizza when he was being punished.

So the “joke” collapsed.

Other than a few of us having t-shirts, I don’t think there’s any remnant of the story at the school.

I still have my t-shirt, in storage in Canada. I have the graphic here, and may reprint it for myself or even sell it on t-shirts again.

The Shadow of Steve Jobs, Part 1

We weren’t very big, but our clients were. There were the names you all would know – BMW, Subaru, GlaxoSmithKline, Corning, Dr. Scholls, Gallo Wines – and big names that only Canadians would be familiar with – Bank of Montreal, Scotiabank, Loblaws.

Steve Jobs in 1995

The company owner was an absolute devotee of Steve Jobs and everything Apple (as was I at the time). He was also the point man on the sales team (we were a small shop).

Apple announced a new and much improved MacBook. Then they announced the caveat: only available in America.

The owner called me into his office, upset at this apparent snub. (This was 25 years ago, I’m not going to quote what was said, because memory isn’t accurate at that range) The gist of the conversation was that he wanted this shiny new toy and he wanted me to help him get it.

We discussed and discarded the idea of going to the States to buy one. No, he wanted it delivered here.

So we worked out an email, addressed to Steve Jobs.

We stated that although we were very small, we were a trusted service supplier to, and in the boardrooms of, companies Apple was trying to court.

Currently, we explained, we went in and did our presentations with MacBooks, which was often noted and discussed. We were very enthusiastic about Apple.

But our IT department wanted the whole shop to standardise onto Windows (which was true). If we couldn’t go into these boardrooms with state-of-the-art Macs, we’d be forced to do it with state-of-the-art Windows laptops, and Apple would lose an evangelical edge in those boardrooms.

We sent it to

About a week later, we got a call from the largest Apple dealer in Toronto (this was way before Apple stores) telling us that one of these brand new, not-available-in-Canada laptops had been sent to them with specific instructions to sell it to us and only us (There was an underlying tone that this transaction was being scrutinized).

I got to go with the boss to the store to buy the laptop. The whole sales staff gathered around as we unboxed it, registered everything and gave it a test boot. There was lots of ‘ooh’ing and ‘aaw’ing.

Finally, one of the staff asked the question they were all holding back, “Who are you?”

I don’t know that we had a satisfying answer for them except that we were the guys Steve Jobs listened to.

It felt good.

The Research Is In: Cats Know Their Names

I wish she’d learn “get out of the bloody way!”

The science is in: cats know their names. New research proves what every human slave has known for centuries. In science-speak: “We conclude that cats can discriminate the content of human utterances based on phonemic differences.”

As someone who has lived with cats for most of my life (and occasionally dogs) this seems like a forgone conclusion, but I guess we needed the science to make it official.

I have a cat right now, and she understands a lot more than just her name. Here’s a list:

No. If she’s contemplating something that I don’t want, I can tell her ‘no’ and she’ll object, but won’t do it.

Her name. She knows her name applies to her.

Belly rubs. Say “belly rubs?” and the cat meows, moves to the middle of the kitchen floor and rolls over so you can rub her belly.

Food. When the cat is insistently meowing, I can say a bunch of words to her and gauge her reaction. If she’s hungry, when I say ‘food?” she changes her meow and walks to her dish.

Second scoop. Her first food is wet meat, delivered on a plastic lid in the back, her second scoop is dry food delivered in the kitchen. She knows the difference between ‘food’ and ‘second scoop’ and will lead me to the appropriate place.

Beautiful girl, love you lots, hope you enjoy it. She won’t start eating her food (wet or dry) until I say these “the magic words.”

Show Me. If I can’t figure out her needs, I say “show me” and she walks me to whatever is bothering her (her dish, her water, her box, a door she wants to get through).

(edited to add these two)
I can ask her ‘play?’ and if she wants to play, she springs off to a corner and I’m supposed to chase her. Sometimes, rarely, she chases back, but usually it’s up to me to ‘catch’ her.

Treats. Each afternoon, around 5pm, she gets three small treats. When the time is right (often in her head, that’s two hours early) she asks for them by sitting in the middle of he kitchen and meowing until I say the word “treats?” then she heads to the fridge where they’re kept.

My favourite picture of her

And here are a few that I’m not sure she understands, or that she sometimes appears to understand (but that may be coincidental):

Dig. when she wants to scratch something, she has limited places that it’s allowed. I’ll put her on a spot and say “dig” and she does.

Stretch. This one I say when she’s doing it, but a couple of times I’ve said it and she’s looked at me, then done it. Again could just be coincidental, more me predicting what she’s going to do than suggesting it to her.

Sshhh! My wife works shifts. When the cat’s making noise, I can say “sshh,” and she will lower the volume, but not shut up. This one has taken a long time and I still don’t know that she gets it.

My wife’s name. The cat also seems to know that my wife’s name applies to my wife. It’s worth noting that my wife and my cat don’t get along all that well, so it’s hard to judge if my cat always recognizes my wife’s name and only choses to react some times or if she doesn’t quite get that one yet.

I know that she also recognizes a lot of body-language clues and physical gestures. If I snap my fingers three times, moving my hand from her towards me, she knows it means come to me.

So, what does your cat know? How many words or expressions can he or she process successfully?

From the Information Age to the Manipulation Age in Three Easy Steps

The information age was supposed to be the great liberator, making the concept of workplace and even nationality moot. Of course it didn’t turn out that way.

The main proponents of this ideology seem to have been Americans, a people who are ironically also very national in nature. People such as Richard Florida have made a living out of looking at the trends that grew out of the information age, notably the mobility of a certain kind of person.

Image from Pixabay.

Florida, in particular had ideas. Known as the creative class, Florida saw a generation raised on freedom of information, thought and creativity. This non-homogenous group crosses political spectrums, although tolerance for differences is a key element of the class definition. They should be guided by a “higher” calling, a belief that transcends the body politic, a sense of empowerment and guardianship of truth, equality and creativity. He saw people congregating where these ideals were best preserved. He didn’t foresee Karl Rove.

The naiveté of the creative class, or at least those epitomized by Florida, is encapsulated by the belief that information is without bias. Rove (and I am using him here to represent his whole clan: Wolfowitz, Frum, Cheney, Feith, Perle, Clarke in his heyday and others, many of whom I wouldn’t recognize the name of I’m sure) had what amounted to a brilliant insight. Control the flow of information and you control the perception of reality.

The Rove Agenda seems to have a three-part strategy, although the final goal is either still obscure (some kind of political hegemony) or blatantly obvious (lots of money from oil).

Hand pick and promote your own “facts.” This is where Stephen Colbert gets to the idea of “truthiness.” If it sounds like a fact, it must be a fact, therefore it is a fact. More than any other time, what is fact and what is common knowledge are at odds with each other, especially inside America. That’s what the firing of district attorneys has been about, that’s what the
To read an interesting deconstruction of this methodology, read Freakonomics, a book that is not in any way about politics. It is about the hidden connections between apparently unrelated elements, and works well as a guiding methodology for looking at any activity.

Deny awkward facts. Iraq has never successfully produced weapons of mass destruction. Yes, they had them in 1989 – they bought them from the U.S. (Donald Rumsfeld led the negotiations, and there is an embarrassing picture of him shaking Saddam’s hand.). Iraq has never successfully produced weapons of mass destruction. Yet a majority of Republicans in America think that they have. Facts have been denied and replaced with a comfortable truthiness. The average temperature of the oceans is going up. This might be because of human causes or it might be a cyclical planetary thing, but the facts are there. The ice caps are shrinking. Yet the U.S. government not only denies this, they try to suppress evidence. Which leads us to the third part …

Discredit the factfinders. Many of the people who hold key positions in the Bush administration are very young and inexperienced. But that’s OK, because they all graduated from Pat Robertson’s Christian university and law school. I’m not saying that people of faith automatically fear facts or science, but Robertson’s brand of faith is based on apocalyptical visions of a world that has to go to hell so that his kind can go to Heaven. The sooner the better. Top NASA and NOAA scientists are having their research edited by evangelicals to make it conform with religious teachings instead of the facts.

Further Reading

Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class is on my list of want-to-reads. He also has a website about exploring this group’s impact here.

Hand pick and promote your own “facts.”
Four years after admitting there was no Al Qaeda-Iraq link, Bush now says there was, but with no new evidence. Condi Rice claims that UN inspectors agreed with US intelligence about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, even though they clearly didn’t. According to Bush’s stats, “Violence” is down in Iraq, but only if you don’t count car bombs. Bush: Army commanders came up with “surge” idea. Army commanders: No we didn’t. We don’t like it. White House uses former Exxon employee to edit global warming research, downplays links between oil and global warming. Let’s not forget the “Downing Street Memo” “ Top down pressure” on climate scientists to change their findings about global warming.

Deny awkward facts.
Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand on the trip where the US sold WMDs to Iraq. Bush interprets public opinion differently – don’t like the war? Me too! Let’s stay and fight it! Gonzales denies (too much of everything really) having Republican-friendly lawyers appointed, documents show otherwise. Bush admin reduces the number of satellites used for monitoring global warming.

Discredit (or kill) the factfinders.
White House attacks Democrats for talking to Syrians (thus supporting terrorism) at the same time that Republicans were talking to Syrians. NASA’s politically appointed leader doesn’t think we should worry about global warming, even if his scientists do Journalist killed for reporting anti-American facts in Iraq. British journalist killed by US troops. American sniper kills Reuters reporter. US intentionally bombed Al Jazeera (Arabic CNN-equivlanet) TV station.