Publications

March 22, 2013

A full list of my publications is available at kaufmanwrites.com.

The Need for Police Body Cameras in the Wake of Ferguson

November 26, 2014

One thing I noticed while watching mainstream coverage of Ferguson was how any place reporters had set up a stationary camera, the police would shine a bright light at the camera. One CNN reporter actually commented on it, and said he didn’t know why the cops were shining a light at reporters. Seems obvious to me: at night, the light messes with the camera’s light meter, and essentially makes everything on the far side of the light source invisible to the camera. The police do not want to be watched. They want their activities to go unrecorded. They want the activities of the people they are policing to go unrecorded. They know that if anything that happens leads to legal action, they will be completely protected so long as there is no recorded proof of the incident itself. It’s the same reason the airspace over Ferguson was declared a no-fly zone, and media aircraft were kicked out.

Thankfully, the courts have decided that it is not unlawful to record the police, but why should it be incumbent on the policed to make those recordings? The White House issued a bullshit response to the original petition calling for police to be required to wear body cameras. Make no mistake, it is a bullshit response, one that boils down to, “we will do nothing,” because no politician wants to be on the wrong side of the police unions when election time rolls around.

Police need to be held accountable for criminal actions. There is a preponderance of evidence that, if nothing else, the investigation into Mike Brown’s murder was massively mishandled, to a degree that conspiracy seems much more likely than incompetence. At every step along the way, from the crime-scene tech with a dead camera battery to the prosecutor who seemed to be working for the defense, there was an absolute unwillingness to challenge the police. The people who work closely with the police, who rely on the police for their jobs and personal success, will always be unwilling to challenge the police in any situation where there could be even a whiff of subjectivity.

And this makes a police officer’s uniform a symbol of otherness, of immunity from the laws they enforce, of unchecked authority, and power without balance. It demeans the uniform, it undermines the ideas of protection, service, and justice. It makes the police an invading force, operating from a different culture, morality, and rule of law than the people they police.

Body cameras should be required for all on-duty police officers. They should be a part of the uniform. Not as a symbol of mistrust. Not as a way of saying that the police must be watched. But because the police should be representatives of the people. So that the police and the policed know that when they stand before each other they are equal in their accountability. The actions of the police are not the actions of some other, but the actions of the community. No more than a criminal should believe himself in opposition solely to the badge and gun, but not the community he preys on, or than an innocent man and his community should fear victimization by outsiders, should any community be allowed to choose ignorance, to turn away when vile things are done in its name.

Justice is not a game of cops and robbers, it is the accountability of the community to itself. Unjust laws and policies can not change, and the just ones will forever lack credibility, so long as they are enforced out of sight.

Shits and Giggles: It’s “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers” Season, Motherfuckers

October 21, 2014

gourdthumb

This is the fifth year in a row that people have posted, en masse, “It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers,” to teh internetz, so I thought I’d write my own take on this annual tradition. I sent it off to McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, who published the original article (and my own Open Letter to Jif Peanut Butter), but they said it was “too meta, even for [them].” So, for shits and giggles, I went and posted “It’s ‘It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers’ Season, Motherfuckers” to Buzzfeed Community. Because why the fuck not. After all, if you prick me, am I not still a hack?

So follow this link, and enjoy “It’s ‘It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers’ Season, Motherfuckers.”

Publishing Updates: Unstuck, Daily Science Fiction, Lightspeed, Unlikely Story, and Bonus PANK Interview

September 10, 2014

I will probably never not neglect this blog. I know that some non-self-promotional-blogging is called for, but that’s not what I’m going to do today. Today I’m going to catch up on all the self-promotional news I haven’t blogged on my blog yet.

First, Unstuck 3 came out, and it includes my story “The Beginning of Peace.” The issue is already out of print, but can be purchased as an ebook from Amazon. Getting published in Unstuck was really, really exciting for me. They’ve published a whole host of authors who I love, and who have influenced my writing. It’s a wonderful feeling to share paper with such talented people. I also had a wonderful experience with the Unstuck editorial staff, who saw the potential in my story and had me write a whole second half for it. I’ve never before engaged in such extensive revision with an editor, but I can’t wait to do it again. If “The Beginning of Peace” is any good, half the credit goes to Josh Rolnick and the rest of the Unstuck editors.

Picture

If it sucks, please blame them.

Second, I made my first professional sci-fi/fantasy story sale to Daily Science Fiction. “Chapter One” is available to read free on their website. I can’t say I’m entirely happy with the formatting, but I am ecstatic that they liked the story enough to publish it.

Third and Fourth, I recently made two more professional-rate sci-fi/fantasy story sales: one to Lightspeed, and the other to Unlikely Story for the Journal of Unlikely Entomology. The story in JUE will be out in November, the story in Lightspeed doesn’t have a release date yet. Again, very exciting stuff for me. All I want from life is to be a professional writer, and to make a living doing it. This feels like a solid step towards that goal.

These three pro sales are also a testament to the effectiveness of the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Workshop. Seriously, if you want to write science fiction and/or fantasy, apply to Clarion. I originally wrote the story Lightspeed bought for week five of Clarion, and the story in Daily Science Fiction was my week six effort. Unlikely Story bought my first post-Clarion effort. I owe Clarion a debt of gratitude, and I particularly owe Karen Joy Fowler and Kelly Link, who taught week five and six as a team, for their guidance and encouragement. They are amazing people, teachers, and authors. Buy their books.

Lastly, PANK interviewed me for their Lightning Room after publishing my story “Selling the Fall” (which is neither sci-fi nor fantasy, though it is weird). If you care what I think about, like, writing and shit, check it out.

/self promotion

Spaceship, Spaceship, Rick Rude: HappySad Link Round Up, March 18, 2014

March 18, 2014

When I woke up today I trolled the social networks, as I am wont to do, and wanted to share a few things with, like, whoever mistakenly arrives at this blog looking for recipes that use Eurasian Black Salt. Read the rest of this entry »

The Complete Results of My Zimbio Quizzes

February 28, 2014

I have decided to post the results to all of my Zimbio quizzes in one spot, rather than flood social media with separate posts for each delightful quiz. So here, without further ado, is the stuff. Read the rest of this entry »

New Fiction in GS 5.1 Out Now!

February 15, 2014

image

I was very excited to find the new Gigantic Sequins in my mailbox today. Octopi!
It’s filled with wonderful things, the least of which is flash fiction from yours truly. You should totally support this wonderful journal, and fill your brain with wonderful: buy a copy here.
Also, start loving giganticsequins.com.

Features = Normalization Re: Masturbation

February 14, 2014

So, someone shared this article via social media (I swear, I wasn’t googling, “How to turn a thousand dollars of VR immersion equipment into a masturbation aid”).  I’ll post a link, but the upshot is that a Japanese company that makes fake vaginas (faux-vaginas? Fauxginas! Nailed it!) that look like Neuro bottles has jury-rigged a set of Oculus Rift goggles, a Novint Falcon 3D haptic controller thing, and said fauxgina, into a gizmo to make you believe you’re being jerked off by a cartoon girl.

Here’s the link to the article.

There’s nothing surprising to me about people figuring out how to use technology for sexual gratification. The technology exists, so we will figure out how to use it most effectively for porn. Least. Shocking. Thing. Ever.

No, I’m compelled to write a blog post because of this line: “‘I think that there’s a taboo with male masturbation,’ Sato [the CEO of the fauxgina company] said. ‘We want to normalize it, that’s why we design features for it.'”

That. That right there. To normalize a taboo, all you have to do is add features. Because if it’s a grand of technology instead of sixty cents of rubber tubing, it ain’t weird. Read the rest of this entry »

Writers, Don’t Mind Your Mind

January 11, 2014

I work in a bookstore, so I come across a whole lot of books. Some of them I’m interested in, some of them I judge immediately, harshly, and generally, correctly, by their covers, and some of them I peruse innocently because maybe, just maybe, they’ll having something to say.

So it is that found myself opening Making Your Creative Mark. Let me share with you what I read:

Your first task as a creative person is to “mind your mind” and think thoughts that serve you. Doesn’t it make sense to speak to yourself in ways that help you create more deeply and more regularly, that allow you to detach more effectively from the everyday chaos of life…

At this point a deep rage overcame me, and I had to stop.  Read the rest of this entry »

A Working Theory of How My Shower Faucet Functions

January 2, 2014

I suspect the the faucet in my shower is not connected to a simple arrangement of valves in the wall. No, I believe that the handle is connected, via a series of strings and pulleys, to a pair of bells on the roof of my apartment building. On the roof, around the bells, lies a village full of tiny elves, amidst a forest of tiny trees, at the foot of a tiny mountain. In the middle of the village is a large cauldron that holds the water that feeds into my shower. Read the rest of this entry »

The Actual Death of the American Author: On the Granularity of Genre

August 22, 2013

A few months back I responded to Scott Turow’s arguments about how copyright infringement and digital distribution would be the death of the American author. But it got me thinking about what other pernicious threats the American author might be facing.

First, to be clear, I think an integral part of Turow’s “American Author” is that the author subsists on income from his or her writing. Hence Turow’s concern over his perceived elision of the value of copyright. An author willing to work two other jobs while writing just for the chance to tell his or her stories doesn’t really count, because this author shouldn’t give one damn about copyright — payment is a bonus, being read is the reward. So let’s take this as rote: when we talk about the death of the American author, we’re talking about the death of the American author who earns his or her income through writing.

To my mind the biggest threat to this incarnation of the American author (after our our failing education system) is the fact that marketing departments have the final say in whether or not a title will be pushed by the publisher. Most publishers will only seriously market one or two of their titles every year, the rest are orphaned almost immediately by marketing departments. If an author wants attention for his or her book, the author must take up that responsibility. This is especially true if the marketing department doesn’t have a very clear idea of how, where, and to who to market the book. Read the rest of this entry »


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 678 other followers