Saturday, October 28, 2017

Self-Selected Segregation: A Think Piece

In the U.S., I’ve noted a phenomenon I call Self-Selected Segregation. In the physical world, there are enclaves defined by ethnicity, language, race, heritage and other parameters. Throughout nearly the entire country, anyone able to live in an enclave usually can afford to live somewhere else. Not everywhere else, of course, but somewhere outside the enclave. Yet, the enclaves survive because of self-selected segregation.

In the physical world, there are social and legal barriers to enclaves becoming exclusive and hostile to "the other." Regardless of race,age, sex, gender identification, sexual orientation, ethnicity, language or heritage, the law forbids owners and landlords from excluding "the other," to include the chilling effect of bias-based harassment. Social pressure dampens group actions hostile to "the other," but does not eliminate it. I've been the only native-English speaker in a a hundred square kilometers, the only one of my race in a hundred square kilometers, and elsewise "the other" on multiple occasions. Only once did I encounter hostility, but that was directed at my accompanying friend, who was a member of the area's racial majority.

The internet is an entirely different world. I participate in multiple online fora, each with its own focus. For those fora with a widely-inclusive focus, such as application of technology, discussion of music and arts, or discussion of literature, there is no "other." That is not true for those with self-selected segregation of a political orientation, or of the marginalized.. Many declare their purpose to be awareness and education, which is too often stymied by the members themselves..

These fora regularly devolve into echo chambers, with every member agreeing on everything with everybody else. "The other" is viewed with suspicion,and almost inevitably treated with hostility. When joining such fora, I have taken to stating "I am not one of you; I am here to learn." Members of most political fora immediately become hostile, many telling me to leave. Self-segregated fora of the marginalized typically tolerate me, until I trip over a term or mention something I believe relevant, but is an agreed apostasy among the members. The reaction is almost always extreme hostility.

Most recently, in a forum of a specific margenalized group, I searched my vocabulary and used a thesaurus to find the least-threatening/most neutral word to describe something, and chose "phenomenon." Another member replied that the word meant weird or strange, and was an insult. The member went on to find other words in the post to prove that I was biased against the marginalized, and another member piled on. The accusations became heinous. This did not disturb me. What disturbed me was that no one came to my defense.

I had been a prolific contributor to the forum, as well as one of its primary financial backers, for two years. I had stood up for every element of the group, and voiced regular condemnation of abuse directed at any part of the group. I was "the other," and abuse of me was tolerated, by people claiming to oppose abuse.

I submit that such groups are harmful to the cause of the marginalized. Abuse of the marginalized should be obliterated. It cannot be so long as a large number of people tolerate their abuse. When the marginalize silently tolerate abuse of "the other," they are approving of the precise behavior that allows them to be abused.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Sequel to Four Seconds on the Clock

The draft manuscript of Four Seconds on the Clock: College Freshmen is finished. It is in the hands of beta readers, and the cover design is largely complete. My editor, Cassie Edits from, is getting married, and won't be available until mid-November. I anticipate release of the sequel in December 2017.

When it is released, there will be a short free book special on Amazon for the original volume, which thereafter will be reduced in price from $2.99 to $0.99.

Other books still in the queue include Did You Ever See Allegro?; Life Creates, volume three of the Life Stories series; and Kyle Randolph's Life of Kyle, Volume II.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Review of Roger Stelljes's "Deadly Stillwater"

The plot has been done before, but rarely this well. Stelljes's writing is superb. This is told as a police procedural, and is largely an accurate depiction of a large-city local police force's activities.Stelljes is a master of both thrillers and suspense, and did an excellent job telling this can't-put-it-down page-turner. He enthralls us at every twist and turn, with a finely-honed craft of story-telling. This booki is my first read of his writing; it won't be my last;

The book is written in third person, which opens the material to many ways of telling the story, and many ways to treat the multiple characters. My only disappointment was in passing up a great chance to showcase his superb writing in the difficult style of an ensemble story. The book is a "star vehicle" for Mac, the lead character, who appears to be an amalgam of Superman, Sherlock Holmes, Captain America, and various other super-heroes. Everyone defers to him for leadership and decisions. He is an expert in everything. That doesn't work for me; the characters rapidly becomes cardboard.

I believe that this tale would have worked better as an ensemble story. We get glimpses of other characters, but they appear to exist solely for the purpose of pointing out Mac's superpowers and sainthood. Their characters are painted in soft tones, and thinly. I'd like a bit less of Mac leaping tall buildings in a single bound, and more development of the other characters.
If you enjoy great writing and story-telling, you'll love Deadly Stillwater.