In 2006 I had an essay on teaching about sexual orientation published in a book in the “Opposing Viewpoints” series.

Upper Michigan, 2019-9

I had almost overlooked that in 2006 an essay of mine was officially published by a trade publisher (not self-published). It was published under my nickname (then pen-name) “Bill”.

The essay is “Editorial: Teaching about Homosexuality in Public High Schools”, originally posted in late 2004, after I had been subbing for a while.  (That would come to a head in late 2005, but that’s another discussion, and also the plot for a screenplay I am working on now, already embedded as a subordinate background incident in my completed “Second Epiphany”). 

The essay was picked up for the 2006 anthology “Teenage Sexuality: Opposing Viewpoints”, in a series published by Greenhaven Press of Thomson Gale in Farmington Hills, MI, ISBN 0-7377-3362-4 library hardcover, 224 pages.  There are 22 essays, divided into four chapters that pose a debate question.  Mine is the third essay, a “pro” answer to the Chapter 4 question, “What Should Teens Be Taught About Sex?”  The Amazon Site Stripe is this link, and the book now is rather pricey.  The other questions in that Chapter deal with abstinence and condoms.

The con response to my essay is by Linda P. Harvey.

My pro answer included teaching the science and anthropology, which by high school teens should be understand when they take biology.  But my essay also stressed that a lot of homophobia in the past is cultural, beyond merely religious:  it is about the expectation that everyone should be socialized to fit into a family structure as a supposedly necessary part of social stability, surrounding the sharing of otherwise individualized risks and burdens for a common good and lineage.

Today that is what the alt-right believes, more or less.  The far Left, however, as we know, from other postings, is challenging the idea of behavioral sexual orientation in cis-men, and seems to believe that everything comes down to “choosing” a gender idea that suits your inborn capabilities.

Video about the right-wing, sexuality, and especially the incel issue

At the time of publication of this book, no one seriously thought you could introduce these topics to younger children or soften their future critical attitudes.  Things have really changed.

The concept of presenting opposing viewpoints is also the mission of a group called Braver Angels, and I have attended and reported on their debates. At one time, I wanted to set up an opposing viewpoints “database” on my own “doaskdotell” legacy site.

For my own progress, I visited (for the first time in over two years), an overpacked storage locker (Extra Space) to see what kind of inventory of my books I might have.  The locker was so overstuffed I could not tell yet. 

(Posted: Monday, June 13, 2022 at 11 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Some remarks supporting my upcoming Facebook book ad campaign

Chesapeake Beach, MD toy train 2022-6-8

Here are some comments I made recently to support setting up a Facebook ad campaign soon for my books. I’ll have more details probably during the week of June 20. 

Before going further, a new video:

First, understand that there are three books.

Do Ask, Do Tell: A Gay Conservative Lashes Back” was first published on July 11, 1997 (registered that day with the Copyright Office) with a print run of about 400 copies under my own imprint called “High Productivity Publishing”.  It did sell reasonably well in the first 18 months or (including to some bookstores) and I ran out of the printing by early 2000.  I gave two lectures on the book, one at Hamline University (St. Paul, MN) on Feb. 25, 2998, and another one at the University of Minnesota in March 1999.

In the summer of 2000, I entered into a POD arrangement with iUniverse, and I believe the book became available from iUniverse in Aug. 2000.

The book is known largely for presenting a detailed argument regarding the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gays in the military, which had come into being at the end of 1993 under President Bill Clinton, when codified into law in December 1993 by the Defense Authorization Act.  The book is organized largely as a “memoir”, and I’ll explain my connection to it below.

The second book is “Do Ask, Do Tell: When Liberty Is Stressed” which iUniverse published POD at the end of 2002.  This book is a set of ten essays on personal liberty topics, the longest of which deals with 9/11.  Another essay deals with the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which should not be confused with COPPA (which became controversial at YouTube at the end of 2019).

The third book is “Do Ask, Do Tell: Speech Is a Fundamental Right; Being Listened to Is a Privilege”, published POD by Xlibris (also Author Solutions) in late February 2014.  The book comprises two parts, “Non-Fiction” (seven more essays to keep up with various topics), and “Fiction” (three items:  a narrative of my experience in Army Basic training in 1968; then two stories set in 1972 and then the near future intended to run in parallel as “Two Road Trips”, and I have developed a screenplay treatment as to how this could be filmed (was not part of pitchfest).  In this book, in Chapter 2 (non-fiction), on pp. 58-59 the (2010-2011) repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is discussed, as is the 2003 SCOTUS opinion Lawrence v. Texas on sodomy laws.  The publication precedes the June 2015 opinion on gay marriage, as well as the more recent culture wars now focused more on gender identity than on sexual orientation in the more customary sense of the past.

As a note, the DADT policy should not be confused with Trump’s attempt to ban most transgender people from the military (as announced in 2017) and Biden’s repeal of Trump’s orders.

Second: 

Let me focus again on the first (largest) book.

My argument is based on the idea of an individual living under the rule of law but who has values or apparent character traits that seem at odds with many social norms.  I ask, how far do we want to go with the meritocratic idea of absolute personal responsibility (within libertarianism)?  The more current trend is for someone in “my shoes” to claim they belong to a “marginalized group” and deal with this in terms of the political or social power of various (“intersected”) groups    My presentation puts all the load on the individual person, as the only center of gravity.  I will be responsible for handling all my issues, regardless of any intersectional groups I might belong to.  It’s still up to me.

The historical ban on gays in the military and the compromise DADT policy was based on the idea that the presence of (usually) homosexual men in close quarters with other (straight) men (this would apply to women and was less common)  would make straight men uncomfortable and make them feel that their privacy (whatever that can mean in the military) was violated – and therefore interfere with “unit cohesion” and damage the military mission.   Surely during past wars, we all know that when actual combat occurred, no one really cared much about this, and sometimes this idea could be turned around by men wanting to avoid military service whenever there was a (male-only) draft.  Of course, experience since 2010 (DADT repeal) reinforces the idea that there seems to be very little trouble in practice.

We do not have an active draft now, but we still have male-only Selective Service registration (with transgender, it is by given sex at birth).  Congress may well take up this issue.  For me, the importance of the issue centers around the idea that, as a general moral matter, individual citizens (sometimes based on gender) still may be called upon to take existential risks with their own personal “agency” and lives for the long-term demands of a greater good for all their superordinate communities. The most obvious example (internationally) in recent current events is that all men 18-60 were suddenly required to stay behind in Ukraine (as of late Feb. 2022) to fight the invading Russians (even though many of these men had no experience with weapons or the military).

So, we come back to how we think about morality, and the “philosophical beliefs” people have and how they change with time and especially external challenges.  The fact that people’s “philosophical beliefs” get challenged by unpredictable events generates the character arcs and story circles of most good films (like what I hope I proposed in the recent Pitchfest).  As individuals, when we go through the tween, teen and early adulthood years, we may have started with the idea that morality is a matter of “don’ts”:  particularly, don’t create a baby you will not be able to support (and when not married).   But morality seems bidirectional, as it is also a matter of “do’s”  (you could say the “Ten Commandments” expresses both sides).  Generally, in the past (but less so in the past three decades or so) young people grew up with the idea that participation in providing a new generation is an intrinsic moral expectation of everyone.  The past bans on homosexuality had a “don’t side” to be sure  (which in the 80s got tied to public health with the AIDS crisis), but also seemed to be related to the idea that homosexuals were walking out on the responsibility to provide for future generations, which could come back to haunt them with eldercare in the future.  More current ideas of morality seem to focus on inequities at the group level, particularly having to do with biological “traits”, whether superficial (race), or some aspects of gender (definitely biological) that people may be born with.  Group level morality leads us to “critical theory” (both race and now gender).

The issue of gays in the military could logically have been connected to security clearances for all LGBTQ persons, including civilian employees of government and contractors.  In fact, during the immediate post WWII period gays were considered security risks because of “mental illness”, which got reinforced by an executive order in 1953 demanding exclusion of gays from all federal civilian employment.  It slowly got better in the mid 1960s with the Civil Rights movement, until after Stonewall in 1969.  The exclusion seemed trumped up in association with McCarthyism, but one major reason may have been that it seemed like a good racket for the psychiatric profession to run, until 1973 when the APA dropped its designation. (Another reason had been self-sustaining circular thinking surround fear of “blackmail”).  Nevertheless, psychiatrists ran around in circles over whether homosexuality was a developmental or character disorder, sometimes associated with dyspraxia in young men.  The biological science would not get well developed until perhaps the 90s. 

There are practical economic issues that and correlated to the DADT debate.  For lower income people (including minorities) the military may present an outsized employment opportunity.  More significant is the growing expense, in the middle class, of raising kids.  Until much more recently, gay men (if of professional income, like in tech) were much more likely to live alone or in small households, not have responsibility for children, and need less housing and not need to take on as much (if any) debt, a kind of perverse side to the gay marriage debate of the past.  People are having fewer children now because they can’t afford them.  (Ironically, in a kind of moral twist from the history of HIV, many gay men were much less exposed to the risks of COVID early in the pandemic if they lived in smaller households, as there was relatively little in their communities. It’s even conceivable that some PrEP medications may have had a coincidental deterrent effect on the coronavirus, a possibility worth exploring in developing and approving more medications)

Other incidental issues could incidentally “stigmatize” gay men, such as the ban on blood donations, as when a workplace blood drive comes around.

So, the discussion of DADT leads to discussion of many correlated issues, in what you could say is an exercise in “connecting the dots”, which could become another acronym.

Over history, most people have lived in tribal or extended family structures, which would tend to be concerned about their long-term survivals.  This would extend to entire ethnicities or religious groups or to even nations.  Generally, moral systems would require individuals to allocate some sacrifice, even of assets related to their own personal agency, for the well-being of the group.  This might involve, for example, contributing to the support of other parents’ children in the family if they could not have their own.  Homosexuality, especially among men and especially when connected to the military, seemed to challenge these tribal expectations in some unique ways.

The sharing of substantial sacrifices for others in a larger society occurs with novel issues, as we experienced with COVID (the lockdown issue). In a severe enough future pandemic, the militarism of ordinary citizens (as with hygiene) could be quite extreme (as China gives a hint).  And the idea of giving things up could arrive in the future with climate change abatement, and it may with some people with respect to gun control.

Third:

My own history relates to the issues.  Chapter 1 of the first DADT book describes how I was expelled from William and Mary as a freshman over Thanksgiving in 1961, with background details of the incident bizarre and unexplained, to say the least.  But part of the explanation might be, simply having a suspected “homosexual” in a (crowded) men’s dormitory is like having a girl in there (or vice versa).  Another possibility is that knowing that someone in your (male) dorm (maybe a roommate) harbors opinions about your own sexual attractiveness as a male could undermine your own personal self-confidence soon in life as you start to court women and plan to marry and start a family. This sounds parallel to the arguments that those advanced to oppose lifting the ban in gays in the military, three-plus decades later. 

My own narrative continues to parallel the large issue. I would spend some time as an inpatient at NIG in 1962, where a form of mild conversion therapy was attempted – to make me more willing to accept the idea of dating and forming a family within my own limitations.    In grad school, I taught math, and was in a position to give grade which could cause male students to wind up being drafted if they flunked (which with math turns out to be likely).  My experience in the Army, where in Basic Training I wound up in “Special Training Company” for a few weeks in the spring of 1968 (the time of Martin Luther King’s assassination) was certainly provocative. 

Later on, when I started working, I would “come out” a second time, leading into the period a decade later when the community was hit by AIDS; and I, in a pre-Internet time, tried to become a voice of caution and realism in the face of a very polarized political response in Texas, where I was living then.

It would then surprise me that ‘gays in the military’ would come up as an issue so quickly.  The Persian Gulf War in 1991 set the stage, and in 1992 some men who were on active duty started coming out in the media.  After I read particularly Joe Steffan’s book “Honor Bound” (related to his 1987 expulsion from the Naval Academy just before graduation) I talked to the liberal minister (Dr. Goodwin) at the First Baptist Church of the City of Washington DC, who had contacts with President Clinton in the White House, in the spring of 1993.  To make things more complicated personally, I had started, in 1990, working for an insurance company that specialized in selling life insurance to military officers, although in a technical (computer programming) nonpublic way.  Nevertheless, after I announced the book, I transferred to another part of the company in Minneapolis when it got bought, right after publication in 1997.

So, my own life became a series of episodes (analogous to “story circles”) where each step gets something and costs something. 

But my involvement in self-publishing, especially online, drew me into all the controversies associated with “freedom of reach” (to borrow a term coined by CNN’s Brian Stelter).  These include various efforts at censorship (I was involved in the litigation against COPA which ended in 2007), and the various laws to shield social media companies and hosting companies from downstream liability for user-generated content (Section 230, and DMCA Safe Harbor for copyright torts).  The ease with which user-posted content can be found around the world was starting to produce sporadic controversies in the earliest years of the Internet, and indeed this particular aspect of user content was obviously making DADT impossible to enforce well before 2010.  I found myself in the odd position of commenting publicly on many issues when I no longer had personal “skin in the game” but had the resources to self-publish. (Inheritance after mother’s death at the end of 2010 figured into this.) I have never done well socially when it is important to bond emotionally to others in a group with “solidarity”.  You can see how this could be seen as creating an ethical problem.  Yet it wasn’t until about 2014 that the “algorithmic” business model of social media companies (that sold the end user as a product whose information is “sold” to customer advertisers) began to feed the social and political polarization (and even cancel culture) that we see today.  This started to happen right after the publication of the third book (early 2014).  But algorithms aren’t the only source of trouble.  I can see how “extreme capitalism” and the hyperindividualism (or absolute meritocracy) that I espoused even in the Introduction of my first book, which seems at first to promise libertarianism, can eventually feed fascism (as we saw with Trump, Jan. 6, etc.).  The problem is that without more social cohesion, many individuals (sometimes but not always belonging to marginalized groups) simply fall too far behind, when one mistake can destroy them, and they snap (and feeds into the gun crisis – and I haven’t talked about the Second Amendment much my writings as much as the First, but I do understand the dilemma).

So, Fourth, the real philosophical conflict in people (including me): 

There seems to be a problem with personal liberty where it swallows itself.  People sometimes find a false liberty in knowing that others will be held to the same standards of purity that they think have been expected of them (to function in family creation and sustenance).  There seems to be a problem with idolizing others and then not being open to really being needed by others – when this is widespread, we all tend to migrate toward authoritarianism, as if we always had a craving for it.  But there is also a problem with being open to allowing others to bond with you when they claim the basis for their personal identity is group oppression.

Indeed, it is very striking to me, I don’t seem to have ever had the emotional bonds for people in a close-knit family or tribe that others have.  Everyone has to keep some distance (usually).

Appendix:

Here are a few films that have dealt with gays in the military

The Strange History of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (2011), directed by Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, HBO Documentary. (Recovered review).

The next three films are reviewed currently on doaskdotell.com, but reviews will be removed soon, may be reposted.

Soldier’s Girl” (2003), directed by Frank Pierson, Showtime

Any Mother’s Son” (1997), directed by David Burton Morris, Lifetime

Serving in Silence: The Magaret Cammermeyer Story”, directed by Jeff Blecker, with Glenn Close, Sony Pictures television.

(Posted: Friday, June 10, 2022 at 10 AM EDT by John W Boushka)

Could it be ‘illegal’ to film or livesteam a noisy protest at a SCOTUS justice’s house?

SCOTUS fence protest 2022-5-5

Recently the mainstream media have reported numerous protests near the homes (DC area) of US Supreme Court justices in light of the Politico leak of Justice Alito’s draft of an opinion (from February) that would reverse Roe v. Wade (after almost 50 years).

Numerous observers have also noted that protesting loudly near a SCOTUS Justice’s home is illegal, under US Code 18 paragraph 1507 (Cornell Law), which makes it an offense to picket or parade at a judge’s residence or business (although not outside a large government building like SCOTUS) with the intention of changing an outcome (the same applies to picketing jurors).  That may be one reason why grand jury proceedings are in secret.

Washington Post columnist notes all this with an op-ed (paywall) by Marc A. Thiessen, May 10, “Protesting at justices’ homes is illegal. What is Biden doing about it?”.  Guest articles about this question have shown up in my mail inbox. 

I want to pose another question.  If I went to film it (not participate) but then post it on social media, should it be taken down (especially if livestreamed)?  Would that violate a TOS rule? 

If a “legitimate” media company does it to report the news, that is one thing.  But does the First Amendment protect my right to do this as an amateur however gratuitously as a form of self-expression?   You can, normally, after all, videotape the police (and it’s a good thing a teenager did at the Floyd incident in Minneapolis).

Maybe the critical issue would be, does the content creator do this for a living (and can ‘e’ show it with accounting?) 

I’m presuming that the content creators or videographers did not participate in the protest by carrying a sign or screaming in unison themselves. That makes it a “skin in the game” kind of problem, which is particularly how the “Left” sees it. This reflects back to the reasons for my own web simplification, which I’ll get into more detail later.

(Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2022 at 9 PM EDT by John W. Boushka)

Changes to my web setup today

36th St area, Brooklyn, 2022-4

Today, my domain names “billsmediacommentary” and “billsnewscommentary” expired.  They will go through the normal expiration processing and disappear (as a practical matter I doubt anyone would try to get them).  Access to those sites on Bluehost is now disabled.  Access to the “billsmediareviews” and “doaskdotellnotes” will expire with the hosting contract on June 20.  The actual domain names will become orphaned but technically belong to me until Dec, 26, 2022.

All the content has been saved and I will repost some of the more popular or important movie and book reviews on the non-WP part of this site.  News stories, not so much, because I will generally write a new article on this blog when something happens of interest, like with Section 230, climate change, national security, censorship, or “critical gender theory” (yes, DeSantis, Disney, and Florida, how else to put it?)

I’ve written a summary interpretation of the current events as of today, as a new starting point, link. As far as the SCOTUS leak, it sounds like an inside job to encourage the Court to soften the originalist opinion before it becomes official.  Biden has characterized the MAGA movement as extreme (essentially soft-fascist nationalism) and warned they could try to pass laws segregating “LGBTQ” students from others in public school (according to some readings of Alito’s logic). That idea would seem to jeopardize the political peace agreement in 2010 to lift DADT in the military (that was done by Congress, not SCOTUS or the courts). 

The doaskdotell site will be pared down to contain (1) the text of the four books (2) the footnote files, including some considerable volume of new notes from the doaskdotellnotes file, which I have saved offline  (3) some materials regarding my “completed” and in-process scripts (4) index to 3rd party publications of stuff by me (5) payment processing for book copy purchases.  The latter will require fixing a problem there with the https (it is an old domain with one domain registrar and a different host, and there seems to be a problem with the CSR which makes the https fail sometimes;  that needs to be fixed technically).  However, other “gratuitous content” will be removed.  That includes the movie, book and plays reviews.  They are saved off line and more important reviews (for example some films about 9/11) will gradually be extracted for this site.

The setup I aim to have is one website for personal opinions, non-commercial, under my legal name, with the nickname used as a subdomain or separate directory.  The doaskdotell site will have mainly “commercially” related content.

Here are a couple videos from my weekend in NYC

Manhattan Bridge ride

36th street in Brooklyn (April 29, 2022, around noon), near the site of a subway attack (April 12, 2022, wiki). Had lunch in a Korean sandwich shop and the owner described the day with the police in detail to me.

(Posted: Wednesday, May 4, 2022 at 7 PM EDT)

A report on my Pitchfest experience in New York City this past weekend

Marquis Marriott hotel lobby with sci-fi like elevators, looks like the interior of a “Rama”

This past weekend I attended a pitchfest for authors of self-published POD books published by Author Solutions in Bloomington IN. The event was held in the gigantic Marquis Marriott hotel on Broadway at 46th St near Times Square in Manhattan in NYC.  Ironically HRC (Human Rights Campaign) was holding a formal event in the same hotel a few ballroom levels below.

The final pitch is like a “speed dating” event where the participant rotates to a number of tables (seven) and makes a two-minute pitch (under bell) for filming their book.

There are practice sessions before.  The whole event started late Friday afternoon, with a break for the night (clubbing was discouraged) and an early start at breakfast Saturday morning.  The pitch session ran for four hours Saturday afternoon.  You have a card and number, and waiting for your exact time to come up is like waiting for surgery.

Media companies now have a need for more content for streamed films and shows and even for some novel podcast formats.  Sometimes books are introduced as podcasts online first.

Participants were encouraged to tell the best story they could imagine from their books when non-fiction.  They were not presumed to know screenwriting conventions in detail.

Book adaptations typically go through a staged process with an “option” (sort of like for a baseball player), a “greenlight”, and then finally a formal budget and shooting plans.  In practice finding suitable actors is often more difficult than the public typically realized.  (Honestly, who would play an 18-year-old version of me?  Timothee Chalamet, after being king of Dune already and being initiated by a gom jabbar?  It’s awfully easy to imagine Max Reisinger (a very popular 19-year-old YouTuber) in the movies (but he has made his own short films all over the world, even in former Soviet republics, a bit dangerous now). I would suspect that the “Greenlight” phase (remember the Miramax “Project Greenlight” contests in the early 2000’s?) will require more travel and detailed research by me on certain factual historical matters and other parties who were involved with past incidents. I am prepared for that.

For many non-fiction works, documentary may be more practical.  That certainly makes sense for me.  But I did pitch an acted treatment (7 pitches, starting at 3:45 PM; I did not stumble or freeze).

Simulated pitch, through Zoom at home, approximately my actual pitch

A couple reactions were interesting.  The second station suggested that the plot for a first-person story should be pitched in the third person (with pronouns) so for the rest of the pitches I did that. One station (as did the coach before the pitches) picked up the idea that the “protagonist’ (an mandatory idea since ‘TENET”) seems to change from my parents (in the sonata-form-like first act) to me (in the fanned-out last act which is rather like closing a symphony with a theme and variations, and maybe a brief triumphant fugue for the ending).  (Rather like the early Dohnanyi symphony reviewed here April 17.  Seriously, Beethoven’s Op. 111 sonata has that kind of format, which seems to dilute the ending by drawing it out, which leads to the saying, “an Op. 111 kind of day”.  Well, that could apply to Prokofiev too.)

We were not told the companies the reps came from.  But they seemed quite familiar with my content, maybe from having reviewed it online before (even my own blogs).  And they seemed to realize I was familiar with screenwriting concepts, like story circles and protagonist-antagonist.

Generally, the attendees were represented toward being older adults.  They were diverse.  Some of the other topics I heard people had written about included artificial consciousness and self-awareness., forgiveness of those who cause harm, unusual personal relationships, child development, and generally international history (especially some concerns with communism specifically). There is also some fantasy and probably animation.  Red State legislation (especially Florida) seemed to have some attention.

I will soon be discussing how I plan to remove remaining extraneous material from the doaskdotell site and make it more business friendly.  There is an issue with the https (the translation of a CSR) which I have to get resolved before financial transactions (like book sales) can happen on the site.

In my new environment, I will soon bring over some material explaining the various treatments possible from the DADT books (at least four, and the remaining two that I have not written scripts for come closer to Harmon story circle conventions than the first two, and would be more suitable for the Black List submission).

(Posted: Sunday, May 1, 2022, by John W. Boushka)

More about “Demands of Others”

OK, I have to walk back, or “walk away” (Dr. Karyln’s phrase) or around a couple of comments yesterday to delve deeper.

First, Volodymyr Oleksandrovych Zelenskyy makes “demands” of the west.  He is reported to be “demanding” that NATO take the nuclear risk of a no-fly zone.  (“You fly, you die.” It worked in 1991 against Saddam Hussein.)  In all honesty, CNN today has pointed out some ways to interpret this “concept” so that it would not be interpreted as actual military engagement by NATO and the US.  But the underlying idea is troubling, especially to those geographically farther from the conflict in stable democracies.  By the way, have we already forgotten already how close we came on January 6. 2021?  If you escalate, you risk nuclear or electromagnetic pulse attacks, and at least the destruction of many “innocent” lives for months or years. We all benefit from “liberal civilization”.  But it presents more risks to other individuals in more exposed parts of the world than we personally want to be accountable for. This is a moral debate that involves critical theory (not race, just in general).  By the way, Putin is saying that the “sanctions” are a form of warfare, so where does that go? 

Second, I compared the “relevance” of a “gray area” country to me like Ukraine to other more primitive countries.  For example, we wouldn’t go to war over China’s deprivation of independence to Tibet.  Taiwan (and Hong Kong) present more troubling questions.  And the risks may be other than military – like even more supply chain disruption.  (How about rare earth metals needed by high tech?) We just don’t make enough of our own stuff to “buy” our lifestyles forever.  There is some point to autarky.

But I then also said I am anti-tribal – I don’t have the feeling of belonging to a “people” – at least in the sense that this would penetrate my personal life (family life or even sexual commitments in relationships).  That does get into the population demographic winter thing that obsesses the political Right.   Yet, in my mind, there is a difference between, say, Tibet, and Ukraine.  Not morally, but practically.

But the biggest concern I have is the point of a lot of Internet speech, including mine, especially when it is gratuitous – that is, it doesn’t even earn money through algorithms and a hooked commercial audience, but it is simply found by search engines.  This approach was particularly effective with the “gays in the military” issue from the late 1990s well into the 2000’s (with the repeal in 2011 of “don’t ask don’t tell”).  I did, with the books and websites, focus attention to some aspects of the debate that many conventional activists find disquieting, such as the “privacy in the barracks” and “unit cohesion” problems, and directed attention away from ideas like intersectionality or minority groups.  I also connected the problem to the moral quandaries associated with a military draft (as in the Vietnam war) in a democratic society.   I have good reason to believe that I did influence the debate over the years, although I can’t prove it with analytics.  There is something logically troubling about a claim like this (and it logically contradicts “anti-tribalism”). I don’t have specific people to be accountable to where I have some “skin in the game” as to what the outcome really was.  I think it is good to be non-tribal and own your own work completely (rather than lose access to it, as when you quit a job) but the possibility that it may, in unusual circumstances, lead to unpredictable behavior by others should indeed be troubling.  I know of situations where both good things and where bad things happened because of other unusual connections that I had and perhaps didn’t even  know about.  This risk may be exacerbated when there is warfare and attempted access blackouts in some countries which many users will work around.   That general risk is unpredictable when someone publishes original interpretations of controversial problems without accountability to a group, perhaps due to accumulated or even inherited assets (and it may undermine established activism). One risk, that got discussed in the months after 9/11 and then publicly forgotten, could comprise hacking and steganography. All of this is one reason why I decided, in 2019, that I would eventually have to migrate back to a system where, when expressing my own views on something personally, it would have to be under my own legal name only.

I do want to insist on something however.  I cannot speak for a group or let it speak for me, or approach the public trying to raise money for a group (for example) without having my own voice independent voice first.  (Consider how the “anti-racism” debate plays into this.)  Facebook has tried to encourage users to run fundraisers for “established” charities, but beyond a small effort, my doing this is problematic.

One other sidekick observation: I’ve often make jokes about media visible content creator friends of mine running for office, even president (in the US). A few of them could do the job. Well, Ronald Reagan had been a Hollywood star, and so had Arnold Schwarzenegger (CA governor), as well as Jesse Ventura (MN). It’s ironic that Zelenskyy, a former actor and comedian, has inspired his people to resist under such unprecedented (in modern times) conditions.

But a bit of warning. Yes, in my circumstances, I do take some statements made my representatives of foreign adversaries or sometimes domestic, personally, sometimes. I have no choice.

(Posted: Saturday, March 5, 2022 at 6:45 PM EST)

The Demands of Others

I wrote my previous post on “personal agency” earlier on the first day Russia’s big invasion, not knowing it would happen (coincidence).

But the question comes up, when does a world-wide emergency and massive suffering by others place moral or even practical demands that someone in my course respond and change plans.  Personally, I see it as “’The Demands of Others’ Problem”.  You can’t play Ayn Rand forever.

I have seen tweets, from individuals I like and correspond with on this question, about staying on course, because there is really zero one can do about it anyway.

Let me first just reiterate my current course. I, for reasons I have discussed earlier and with changes that started late last year (but especially January 3, 2022) paring down my sites so there will be just two sites, a personal one based on my legal name with this blog, and a business one that retains “doaskdotell” as a name.  By late in June (at the very latest) 2022 there should be only this one WordPress blog, and all new posts will go on it, grouped by carefully chosen labels.  I will also work on the screenwriting opportunities (tied to the books and a pitch-fest in NYC in April, and to participating in a Facebook group). The work on the large novel “Angel’s Brother” is halted for now because actual events (the Covid pandemic and at least indirectly Russia’s invasion of Ukraine) hamper the integrity of the storyline.

Let me reiterate than in a practical sense, there are limits on what I, or probably most Americans in my situation, might feel obligated or inclined to personally respond to.  Generally, we don’t feel we need to respond to terrible events in authoritarian countries around the world.  These might include a long list, starting with North Korea (the Warmbier incident was horrible), Myanmar, various communist countries (like Venezuela) or countries where many conditions are primitive, and this includes much of central Asia and Africa and where horrible and brutal stuff for ordinary civilians happens (like Nigeria).  With Afghanistan (more so than there was a few years ago with Iraq and Syria) there seems to be considerable interest in helping refugees, as there has been (with controversy) with the Mexican border issue throughout the Trump years. I am protestant, and I have not become personally involved with the religious violence that occurs in the Middle East, or between Israel and Palestinians (and the settlements), for example.

There is also a constant churning about which enemies are most dangerous to our way of life (and this is outside the debate on climate change and some other threats like solar storms that we could all face).  After 9/11, it was radical Islam, and it stayed that way until the Trump candidacy.  Then it was North Korea, maybe with China’s help; then it was the far Right and white Supremacy in the United States and maybe parts of Europe and some other smaller nations, leading to January 6 (Antifa does pretty bad stuff to small businesses and some property owners and even the stability of some cities, but it is not quite the existential threat Trump became at the end).  Now quite suddenly (although we have had plenty of warning, if we think back about it, particularly to 2014) it’s Vladimir Putin.  I won’t elaborate further the crisis if Putin does move on to NATO allies (which include the three Baltic states, former Soviet republics).  To rephrase a friend. I have no “30 point plan”.

But it is true that the current crisis, as is, still lies within a part of the world I have perceived as authoritarian (essentially Communist) until recently, and not generally regarded as a personal concern.

But it does seem that in Europe right now, ordinary people are encouraged to house sudden refugees (or asylum seekers – the status is unclear) in their homes (especially in Poland, Germany, perhaps Romania).  If the crisis lasts, it would sound likely that some families (but that is normally only women and children) would come to the US and Canada.  Biden is likely to try to make it easier, and Canada already does (with advanced private sponsorship programs).  There would be a question as to whether the wives and children would return to Ukraine quickly if somehow peace is settled (no, again, no 30 point plan).  There are risks involved to the hosts now, including Covid (especially new strains).

Back in 2016-2017 considering the possibility of housing one or more LGBT asylum seekers.  The necessary discissions never quite happened.  I wound up selling the house in late 2017 and now live in a one bedroom condo, and I would not normally offer housing.

But if there were a push to house a large number of temporary “refugees” from Ukraine in North America, I could see supporting rental for them in apartments or housing units, not living with me.  This has already happened with Afghanistan (although I have not participated in that specific effort). 

A sizable portion of my assets were inherited (I discuss this monthly on my “DADTnotesblog” but that will end in April.  Moral logic would say I do have some responsibility to respond to sudden crises. In fact, I have made regular monthly organizations to a number of non-profits, some of which are legal beneficiaries of the trust and which participate in efforts to respond to crises. I try to make these steady and ample so I don’t have to make major changes in priorities when something happens, and respond to a flood of email and snail-mail requests.  With the Trust (especially the part with my mother’s name on it), there may be an opportunity to help, but it would require building a (“sponsorship”) bond with a specific refugee family (ies) who hopefully would be able to return home eventually. Trust disbursement is predicated on existing relationships, not abstract social causes.

I do like to speak with my own voice, as followers know.  I do not like to allow organizations to speak for me.  But that kind of attitude can sometimes interfere or dilute necessary social justice activism that others have started. 

Then there is the issue of volunteering time.  Yes, that is difficult as I have already set out my own priorities.  I have found that occasional piecemeal volunteering (which I did for a local community assistance at an Arlington church when I was in the “Drogheda” house) not very effective unless there is a minimum mass of commitment and engagement of other people somewhat personally. I do not see myself as belonging to a “people” or intersectional group

I often hear revanchist warnings of forceful destruction of our way of life, with the end of individualism, and a particularly shameful end for people with backgrounds like mine which may have been inappropriately “privileged”  (I won’t rehearse the details here, or how CRT — and demands for “proactive anti-racism” distorts them).  No, I am not going to become a doomsday prepper.   But I can think of situations where it would have been easier to volunteer if I also had more capability to defend myself personally than I do. 

(Posted: Friday, March 4, 2022 at 3 PM EST by John W. Boushka)

Note on the setup of my sites after restructuring (esp. for “business”)

Me (he, him, his)

I have gotten some questions about advertising, making announcements for others, and possible other business ideas in conjunction with the reorganization and downsizing of my web presence (at least the “1.0” static portion) so I thought I would state what I think I can do,

To recoup:  The 16 blogs on Blogger were removed on Jan. 3, 2022.  However select postings are gradually being restored to the “legacy” portion of this side (that is, flat html without content management) reachable at this link.  Users can contact me at the email address below if they want to request anything be reposted.

The four WordPress blogs hosted  by Bluehost are set to expire in early May, 2022.  It is a little bit complicated to explain here, and there is a chance that the two older blogs (set up in Dec. 2013;  the other two were set up in May 2016, almost six years ago) might remain until mid June.

The site “doaskdotell” remains as a “business site”, and is reserved through December 2023.  The business activities to be supported include direct book sales, links to main sites (POD at Author Solutions and also Amazon (Kindle) and Barnes and Noble (Nook).  They also include commentary on screenwriting activities as I am pursuing the possibility of films (documentary and/or conventionally casted and acted) based on the material in the books (including a pitch-fest at the end of April), support for work on music (in the sense that it might get performed), as well as new business ideas (startup support) such as data tracking or paywall consolidation.  

This site will not have its own blog.  I am finding that running multiple WordPress blogs on concurrent accounts can lead to complications. 

Instead I expect to set up a label like “doaskdotell-business” for the blog (which comes up directly from johnwboushka.com).  I may create “music” and “books” subcategories on this blog.

It would be possible to make courtesy announcements under another subcategory for this label, call it “announcements”. 

But in the meantime, right now, these “business” functions are being documented on my doaskdotellnotes.com blog, which will not be available after mid June 2022, after which it all migrates to the “doaskdotell-business” categories on the johnwboushka.com blog. 

The end result of the simplification will be at most two sites, “johnwoushka.com” (with a WordPress blog component and a legacy flat-file component) and “doaskdotell.com”.  With the exception of the “doaskdotell” label and possibly page, the johnwboushka site is the “personal” site based on a legal identity, for offering personal views on things, without too much gratuitousness.

“Business” in my context means, activity resulting in financial or “pseudo-financial” contact with consumers (which can be businesses, and which can involve crytocurrency or “likeconomics” or analytics), or activity intended to result in such. A business entity can be a non-profit and still be a “business” in this sense because it still needs to raise money or be paid somehow (for example, normally a non-profit can have a trademark).  But a business entity is separate from an individual who speaks publicly strictly under his/her (or “eir”) own personal agency. I need a grammatically singular pronoun and possessive case to define this concept!

(Posted: Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 10:30 PM EST)