Stuff I don’t know

This post has received some nice attention from WordPress and the many supportive comments have done me good. I’m glad people are reading. It presented me for a moment with a dilemma: if more people are reading this blog now, what do I write about?

Then I realized that’s the dodge of a mind that likes to work against itself on a regular basis–which mine does, especially where writing is concerned. That is, I think about it a lot, then cycle into a form of self-doubt that has me not writing much at all. Which is funny, because an initial foray into blogging 10 years ago this year was made without hesitation and that led to my first professional work as a writer. In 2000 or so I began blogging, and by 2004 I was a little bored with what I was doing there (noodling, making mostly unconnected personal posts or writing experiments with poetry and fiction as the spirit moved me). I decided then to make a leap into a long-held interest that had also been a bit of a secret embarrassment–true crime. I made that leap into true crime blogging around the time social media as we know it today began to explode. Years before the likes of Gawker and Daily Beast were plumbing mass killers’ online profiles, I found the intersection of the two–criminals and their victims having public blogs, profiles, etc–and that became my “angle.” Within 6 months of starting that first true crime blog on a lark, I was offered freelance work with the Crime Library. From there things went a little crazy and I ended up being a talking head and eventually getting opportunities to cover other subjects for a variety of publications, though when people contacted me sight unseen to do a TV appearance or contribute to their publication, it was usually true crime-related.

My point is that it really hit me today that when I first began a specific effort to blog about crime, I did it with zero self-doubt. And whatever regrets I may have about that now (I have a few, as my perception of reporting on and writing about crime has evolved a great deal in the last 5 years in particular), it seems like I may have identified my main enemy as a writer–the “why am I even bothering” impulse.

What I don’t know on any given day is what I’ll blog about. I don’t mind admitting insecurity with my tendency to have rapidly shifting interests. I do have medically diagnosed (as opposed to self-diagnosed, like too many other people I’ve met) attention deficit disorder, but that’s not a good excuse. The insecurity is that anyone who might read or subscribe to this site might check it one day and say, “what the hell happened to the dude blogging about his fitness journey? This post is about murder,” and find that not just ADD, but kind of crazy.

Well, yeah. That’s probably going to happen. Here’s what’s already here, and what anyone reading might find in the future:

  • Fitness stuff–diet, exercise, even exercise routines. Commentary on the way others write about fitness online and in print–since there are some major flaws there.
  • Crime–it’s not like I really lost the interest. It’s just much more specific now. I’m never going to just globally cover every weird crime story I see. I might tweet a link, but it will have to be a story that strikes a deeper chord for me to blog about it. Even then I might not, if I feel it’s a story I could publish as a freelance writer for pay. That’s just practical.
  • Weird stuff. Everyone’s definition of weird is a little different–but not too different, is my bet. I’m a skeptic but will still write about any unusually compelling tale of UFOs, cryptids or things that go bump in the you know when.
  • Social media–maybe not so much, as the subject feels played. Still, I embraced it pretty solidly and don’t feel bad about that.
  • Rants on what I hate or what annoys me. What? It’s a blog, fer chrissakes.
  • Comedy stuff–I love comedy and comedians and have a lot of funny friends online. It’ll end up here sometimes.
  • History–I edited this post to add this in. I have an abiding interest in history, especially the early 20th century. I’ve already written several posts in that vein.
  • Less common (though my interest in good health and fitness is arguably personal) –personal stuff. I save what little truly personal writing I do for pen and paper, like it’s the 19th century or something.

Oddly enough, it occurs to me that I’m saying I’m going to treat this site exactly as I treated blogs I wrote before I focused mainly on crime writing, and I guess I’m apologizing in advance if that gives anyone a case of mental whiplash.

I don’t know what I’ll say next, and I’m fine with that.

Winter Was a Bitch 100 Years Ago Today, Too

Winter Was a Bitch 100 Years Ago Today, Too
The Abbeville (SC) Press and Banner, published 3/4/1914

The Winter of 2013/2014 has been pretty tough, hitting the south and mid-Atlantic a little harder than usual. (About the same here in New England, perhaps a little colder.) Apparently it was a bear 100 years ago today, too. And that storm a century ago didn’t even have some lame-ass name assigned as a marketing ploy by a weather forecasting service.

Neo-Nazis on the rise in Europe

Golden Dawn's flag. Looks vaguely familiar, huh?
Golden Dawn’s flag. Looks vaguely familiar, huh?

Filed under: “Shit Americans Won’t Pay Enough Attention to Until it’s Almost Too Late”–A new sort of fascism, not particularly different from the old kind, is making a bit of a comeback in Europe.

The Golden Dawn Party achieved a foothold in Greek government first. They took advantage of Weimar Republic-like economic woes and did just what the Nazis did in the late 20s and early 30s in Germany–they began providing what extremely distressed, impoverished households needed: scapegoats (immigrants); and assistance. Golden Dawn members made it into Parliament and were regularly appearing on Greek talk shows. With a recent spate of prosecutions against high-ranking Golden Dawn members for stuff like, you know, murder, the party’s power in Greece may be on the wane.

But that’s okay–from the fascist point-of-view, I mean–because International Business Times reports that extreme right wingers are doing just fine, elsewhere:

Since the rise of Golden Dawn in Greece, far-right parties have gathered momentum across the continent carrying with them a disturbing brand of fascism and xenophobia.

The collapse of confidence in institutions after the 2008 financial crisis, the widening gap between rich and poor, and the spread of populist and nationalist sentiment has acted as recruitment magnet for the dissafected and the angry.

At the forefront of the protest against the European Union – perceived as a bureaucratic, useless apparatus made to suck up growth -, neo-Nazis have focussed their action on the wave of migrants coming to Europe to escape from civil wars, genocides and poverty.

The article goes on to report about Slovakian Marian Kotleba, a former high school teacher who wears straight-up SS gear and who was recently elected governor of a region in the country on a campaign platform of hating the Roma. It then mentions the Swedish Resistance Movement. Just last December, 40 members of that group went in on anti-racist demonstrators in Stockholm, hurling rocks and fireworks at 200 demonstrators. The Swedish Resistance is just fine with using the old-fashioned Swastika, by the way.

And so on. There’s a Nationalist Party of Bulgaria. They want to “cleanse” their country of “foreign and alien immigrant scum.” In Hungary, they have the “ultra-nationalist” and Jew-hating Jobbik party, which holds down 43 seats in that country’s parliament and–more worrisome, if you actually think about it–two in the EU parliament.

This quote has been attributed to Mark Twain: “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” The quote is used often enough to approach becoming a cliche, but cliches sometimes come into being because they’re full of truth.

Having read history with at least a quarter of my brain switched on most of the time, it’s hard for me to learn about the renewed rise of fascism in any western country and not wonder where the rhyme scheme of this particular verse is headed, and if anyone capable of doing something about it will pay enough attention to try, before it’s too late.