Review: Struggle Reading

I am struggling.  I am struggling soooo hard with this book right now.  In general, I like Brandon Sanderson’s books, but I picked up Way of Kings from the library and…. I am slogging.

I blame his editor.  His editor needed to look him in the face and say “Dude. You don’t need to say everything six times.  It’s one book.  and four main characters? FOUR?  You need to work up to that kind of multi-protagonist shit.”  Seriously, that doesn’t count the like 8 times there have been little aside-sort of things.

I can tell this book was written post-Wheel of Time… I think he picked up some of Jordan’s bad habits.

It’s an interesting world and the protagonists are well-written (it is still Sanderson and he does write interesting characters).  The magic is kind of fascinating and I will drag myself through it, but LAWD, I am struggling with it.

Writing: Emotional Intelligence

It’s a weird cross-over that I want to make a professional presentation dressed as Batman’s Harly Quinn (the full suit version from the 90’s cartoon).  I want to talk to the managers in the company and stand up and say, “Hello puddin’!”

And then talk about manipulation of emotional intelligence. We all do it to some degree or another. In my professional life I talk about emotional intelligence (EI) on a regular basis. Not always in the terms of EI, but helping managers read body language and use their body language – that’s emotional intelligence. I find it harder to always apply it to my writing, but I certainly try.

And really, Joker is terrifying because he IS so manipulative.  Not just the latest iteration of Jared Leto (and whatever sick writer made him… might be my hero).  Joker has always been a sick manipulative terror of the night, and the relationship portrayed with Harly is to me just a manifestation of that manipulation. She was his shrink. She was supposed to be keeping a distance from him, but he manipulated her with his usual mixture of lies and truths and drove her psychotic (sociopathic? something where she is slightly disconnected from empathy and reality).

The best books for my taste are the books where characters have a slight level of EI (can read body language imperfectly) but they don’t dwell on it and rarely (if ever) manipulate each other. Except maybe the villain.  A manipulative villain should have crazy-strong EI.  I can cite probably 5 examples of this level of manipulation in literature, and they make awesome and terrifying villains.

Hell, Twilight could have been a million times better if there had been some of this conflict.  It felt insipid because none of the characters were liars.  Oh, there were a few who told lies – but when someone was evil they said they were evil.  No one said “I love you” unless they meant it!  A better conflict would have been for someone to say those three “precious” words and they were a lie.  And part of the growth would be learning that emotional intelligence….  just saying there could have been some realistic depth to the characters – people lie!

I am highly aware of EI partly because I am writer, but also because it’s something I’ve always struggled with.  I tend to take trust people’s words. I’ve had to learn to read body language partially because I trust too much.  It is a hard line to walk between “I want to trust” and “I can’t trust anyone” in this world and that is the knife’s edge which can make for an excellent plot.

Manners: Why we need Feminism for Men

I still think this is a topic we need to be having. Like constantly tell men they don’t have to have sex to be vulnerable shouldn’t be shocking.

Dream by Day

Yes, I think this is a topic on manners as much as politics.  There has recently been a kerfuffle about “Nice guys” and feminists and how the two shall never meet!

In case you missed it, this one started with a “Nice Guy” named Scott Aaronson blogging on the difficulty Nice Guys have with feminism. The responses (#1 and #2) I have read both are neither bashing nor justifying but trying to re-frame the questions, and both link to even further responses which are either trying to “teach” Mr. Aaronson how to “get over it” or why he IS still priviledged or…. the rabbit hole is deep my friends.

I could easily talk about Nice Guys, but this guy does a good job of it.  I’ll have to write up my explanation of Schrödinger’s Rapist another day because I don’t like that imagery (although there is something important about…

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SCOTUS: Searching Cars

There are two cases this year dealing with cars and the fourth amendment in front of the Supreme Court.  My little SCOTUS nerdy heart is a little excited.  Both of them will be argued today.

Byrd v. United States

So I can see the argument in this case (here is a professional write up if you want a longer version) where a woman (Reed) let her significant other (Byrd) drive her rental car.  Not only was he NOT on the rental, she wasn’t even in the car with him.  He got pulled over and the cops searched the car without a warrant (and without probable cause) arguing that because he wasn’t on the agreement – they don’t need a warrant.  They convicted him for the heroin in the trunk.

I can’t wait to (a) hear what the professional attorneys argue and then (b) how the court falls on this case.  I am also really glad I don’t have to rule on it!  There could be some interesting fall-out on “possession and control” being required (or not) for warrants.

So on the one hand Byrd wasn’t on the rental agreement – much like if I let my sister (or friend or whoever) borrow my car they aren’t on my registration.  Does that mean if I let my friend borrow my pickup truck (as every pickup truck constantly lends out their trucks!) and they hide a stash of heroin under the driver’s seat or in a cooler (can’t be seen) could the cops pull them over for a routine stop and then search (and impound) MY TRUCK because I let a friend borrow it?  And what about if someone steals my car – do they have fourth amendment rights because they “possess and control” my car at this moment?

On the other hand, rental companies make you sign an agreement saying ALL drivers must be “registered” and anyone not registered is…. illegally (?) driving the vehicle.  Technically, Reed (Bryd’s SO & mother of his children) signed an agreement saying other drivers are only permitted with “prior written consent” (and paying a daily fee). The government contends this prior contract dismisses Byrd’s fourth amendment rights.

And it gets complicated because there ARE rules about “even if someone is doing something illegal it doesn’t waive rights” (hence cops can’t JUST search your car when you ran that red light – they still have to have probable cause).  And can Byrd be held responsible for Reed breaking the contract between herself and car rental company? (there are rules about people who don’t know they are being used in crimes too).

I am looking forward to hearing the court rule on this one – HOW they phrase their ruling can shift this in a lot of directions.  They COULD strike the provisions (and extra fees) on car rental contracts.  They COULD argue that the contract creates a binding clause and means Byrd “stole” the car (I doubt they would – I might have been told “yeah, I totally paid for you too” and then… ugh!).  They COULD rule that  warrant/probable cause is still required when a contract has been broken OR when someone isn’t registered on a vehicle (so my husband could get my car searched ’cause he isn’t on the registration!)

Collins v. Virginia

This case also has to do with the fourth amendment and vehicles – with the addition of “private property.”  I’m not going to say I understand the previous rulings as well as I should to explain when/why vehicles can be searched with exemptions.  I do understand there are already rulings on exemptions to the warrant requirements (it’s called the “automobile exemption.” (professional write up here)

So in this case the cops were searching for a motorcyclist.  They narrowed down their search area using social media & a cop saw a motorcycle under a tarp-like cover next to a house. He went up and looked under the tarp-thing and found out the motorcycle was stolen. Should the cop have needed a warrant to lift the tarp?

Again, I want to hear how the justices rule on this – it isn’t black & white. On the most basic brush there is “cop came on private property” and “cop lifted the tarp” (not readily visible)  but there is also “is the land I own safe from warrantless search” and “my car parked on my driveway” (yes, even though in this case it’s “stolen car”).

Previous rulings have protected cars parked in/around the home lot (and searching on the land around a home).  But is does open quite the can of worms about when/how cops might be allowed to search vehicles.

So will the court expand the officers’ ability to search vehicles?  Will they uphold that private property is (for lack of a better word in my vocabulary here) sacred from this type of search and demand warrants?  I am curious to see how the court falls out on this issue and what they say about it.

Reading Challenge!

Goodreads does an annual reading challenge (if you aren’t on Goodreads yet – GET THERE)

Last year I set myself 52 books – a book a week.   I ended up with 57 according to Goodreads.  So this year I said 60.  That’s 5 books a month.   Whew, I better get cracking!

Now, last year I pretty much only tracked books I read “for the first time” – there were a few books I picked up as an “afternoon read” (books I know so well I brush over the details and jump to the juicy parts).  Wheel of Time is the only one I think I made an exception because I tracked all 14 – but I was working my way through the whole series and I hadn’t gotten past book 9 previously….

So this year I am going to try to track every book I read – even the little “I only read my favorite parts but cover-to-cover” books I go back to over and over (I still feel like I “read” the whole book, I just know I graze over the lulls in the plot).

So expect to see more reviews this year!

New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t do normal resolutions.  By normal I mean the list of “this year I’m gonna lose 20 lbs” or “I’m saving $1 every day”

I aim for my resolutions to change me; change my outlook or my philosophy or some aspect of me.  They really become more than just one-year resolutions.

For 2018, my resolution is to be bolder. To fight harder against the voice that says “no” and to look it in the eyes and say “then yes damnit!”

In the world today there is a lot of “no” going around and so many artists said it in 2017 – stress makes art hard.  Fear makes art painful. Most artists can’t separate art and life (I say most because if I say “all” someone will point out some exception….) One informs and influences the other.

I had a dream in the early hours of Jan 1st and it was terrifying.  I woke panting, wanting to spring up and run away.  But you can’t run away from your mind – you have to turn and face it.

So I am facing myself this year.  I have started on medication because the nightmares, the stress, the anxiety in 2017 got to a point where I wasn’t coping – I was hiding.  I felt like I was barely functioning.  And there is too much I want to do in life for me to spend all my time hiding under my covers because my brain wants to say “no.”

2018 is the year I say “yes.” This is the paradigm shift I want to make: say yes instead of no.  Instead of saying “I won’t be on Facebook as much” I want to say “I will work out more.”  Yes!

Yes, I will send that novel manuscript to a publisher or agent even though I think it’s imperfect.

Yes, I will write more short stories.

Yes, I will try new restaurants.

Yes, I will work out more even though I’m terrified of my asthma.

Yes, I’m going to spend my money wiser.

Yes, I’m going to donate my time and talents.

Yes, I will travel outside my comfort zone to new places.

Yes….

Yes…

Yes…