Based on my experience with writing novels and screenplays, I knew that when I started this blog that it would take time and patience to build readership. These days, with barriers to publishing words, music and video all but eliminated, the sheer volume of material now available to consumers renders it très difficile to stand out in the crowd. Writers must work diligently not only on the development of their material, but also on crass promotion, and dogged cultivation of followers. So it truly brasses me off when scumbags I refer to as “blog trolls” infest my comments section with pitches to buy fake luxury goods, links to virus-infected websites, and spouts of moronic commentary in unintelligible pidgin-English. Sadly, to prevent these trespassers from sullying my blog property with mindless garbage I have to establish walls that could also stifle participation from bona-fide followers.
And to what extent do these blog trolls succeed? Consider. Would anyone on the planet actually follow the advice of a guy named NVptFcFJ and proceed to a website based in Uzbekistan to purchase hair restoration products made from female yak semen? Could JEcKvcdT convince a single pliable soul to wire money to an offshore outpost in Somalia (aka. Pirate skiff) to share in the riches of a kidnapped prince? The answer must be “yes;” otherwise the scammers would move on to other tactics. All it takes is the actions of a couple feeble-minded compliant fools to ensure that 10 billion bogus blog posts turned a profit. In some ways, I despise the fools more than the blog trolls.
Perhaps some gifted programmer will one day develop a reverse heat-seeking cyber missile that innocent bloggers could turn on their tormentors. I wonder if it’s possible to remotely turn a computer server’s internal components into radioactive strontium? NSA – are you listening? (I know you are.)
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I was perusing Esquire magazine the other day and read an article titled “The 20 Immutable Laws of Personal Finance.” Esquire loves to write in lists (as do I). One of the so-called immutable laws is Never Catch a Falling Knife. The basic gist is that investors should refrain from making decisions based on past performance. Which is what virtually all investment banks tell you in their TV advertisements – nothing earth-shattering there. Anyway, I read this passage from Esquire, and pricked up my eyes.
“Two guys are watching a roulette wheel. Red comes up four times in a row. The first guy concludes, “Red is hot. I’m putting it all on red.” The second guy says, “Black is due. I’m putting it all on black.” The fair end to this story would be the wheel landing on 0 or 00, so they both lose.” (For those who are illiterate on Roulette, 0 and 00 are two slots on the wheel that are green; ie. neither red nor black.)
The reason the passage caught my attention is that I wrote the following observation in my short story collection published in 2011, “Sometimes the Sun Does Shine There” in a chapter titled “22 Black.”
“Half the gamblers who see five consecutive red outcomes will conclude red is hot, and destined to win once again. The other half will study the exact same information and conclude black is overdue, and certain to win next. It’s at times like these that the ball inevitably falls into a green slot.”
Not calling plagiarism – that would mean the Esquire stringer had read my book, and as we all know by now that would be virtually impossible given the million-plus choices available to him in the Amazon.com Zoo courtesy of a barrier-free publishing environment. Let’s call it “co-plagiar-incidence” for lack of a better word.