Welcome …

Posted: June 23, 2014 in Author Comments

Welcome to the Café Palermo. A couple of years ago I decided to publish some of my stories online. Originally I had planned to post them here, but later I changed my mind and moved them over to The Annex.

This site became mostly a blog for some of my online ramblings about this, that, and the other thing. I used to post here fairly regularly, but eventually came to realize just how rigged the American political system is against meaningful change.

In truth the system exists to serve the rich and the powerful and to keep the rest of us in check through continuous surveillance by agencies like the NSA. The difference between the two major political parties are at the margins and only certain points of view are tolerated or permitted by the mainstream media, which are only interested in elite opinion in any event.

Don’t believe it? Just check out Meet The Press, Face The Nation, and the rest of the Sunday morning talk shows. Do you really think anyone with a truly alternative point of view gets invited to appear on those shows? What we get are the same old tired voices committed to the status quo in America and protecting their privileges.

So I’ve pretty much given up on blogging and the American political system and should probably merge my two web sites. At the moment, however, I’m on an extended vacation and too lazy to do something like that so you’ll have to settle for this modest update.

But if you’re gay or gay friendly and like reading free stories about people like yourself, I would encourage you to visit The Annex. You’re also welcome to read my previous blog postings, but I doubt you’ll find them as interesting as the stories :-)

Whatever the case, thanks for stopping by. If you look at either the stories or some of my blog postings, feel free to drop me an e-mail to let me know what you think. I always like hearing from new people, whether they live in America or elsewhere.

Disappointed

Posted: May 22, 2014 in Author Comments

sad and embarrassed

What else is there to say about passage of the USA Freedom Act today by the House of Representatives? Like so many previous efforts to reign in the excesses of the intelligence community, what started out as an effort to end the bulk collection of data about Americans has now morphed into still another legal rationale designed to justify those abuses.

I doubt anyone is paying attention to any of this, especially as we head into the Memorial Day weekend here in the United States, so I won’t go into a lot of detail about what happened today in Washington. You can read more about that here, here and here. The main thing to avoid is deluding yourself into believing this is a step in the right direction as so many of the news stories in the mainstream media are attempting to portray it.

In reality, this is just another effort to provide new legal authority for the NSA to continue business as usual in the event it’s not able to secure renewal of the legal authorities it has been relying on, which are set to expire next year; and, as usual, Barack Obama was the cheerleader in the effort to defang this new legislation of any meaningful reforms.

To me Obama is the worst Democratic President in a century and perhaps the worst of all time. Along with George W. Bush, he’s done more to destroy what America once stood for and one can only hope history will judge him accordingly.

For those of you who care about things like this and may be still reading this blog, here is a link to how the different members of the House of Representatives voted today. A yea vote is a vote to permit the NSA to interpret the legislation any way it choose so don’t be surprised if your congressman is among those who voted once again to gut the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

In the event you forgot, the Fourth Amendment reads as follows: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Epilogue . . .

Posted: April 21, 2014 in Author Comments

going, going . . . gone

Tonight is about a couple of things. For one we’ll catch a a glimpse of what the future holds for Ethan and Hunter, but only a glimpse. Not everything will be decided by the time you finish reading the Epilogue. There may be some things you’ll be left wondering about and that’s the way it should be.

What fun would it be after all if we knew everything that’s going to happen in the future . . . to Hunter and Ethan, D.W. and Brady, Cameron and Zachary, Gina and Marie, or to all of the other characters we’ve met along the way like Riley and Dennis?

Tonight is also about saying good-bye, at least for now and perhaps forever. It’s been fun sharing my stories with you, but life is filled with lots of exciting things and there’s never quite enough time to do everything one would like. I enjoy writing, but there are many other things I enjoy as well so I’m kind of like the characters in my stories. I’m not sure exactly what’ll come next.

In a couple of weeks I’ll probably post an updated welcome message so that any new readers who stumble upon this site will have a better sense of what it and the blog are about. If you get a notice from WordPress saying I’ve posted a new message, you don’t have to stop by to check it out. But you’re always welcome to stay in touch, of course, and you’re also welcome to stop by at any point and take another look at the stories.

I’ve never done it myself so I have no idea how they hold up on a second reading. But I’m planning to leave them up for now and I’ll definitely let you know if I ever decide to take them down; and I also understand there may be a few people who’ve been waiting for the story to finish before reading it. If you’re one of those, I would be interested in hearing from you once you do.

Thanks again for reading my stories, for your encouragement and support, and for being such a faithful audience. I did my best with this story and I’m glad you made it this far with me.

In any event, have fun reading the epilogue. You can find it here. It begins with a newspaper story so pull up a chair, sit down, open your paper and read on; and, as as always, feel free to let me know what you think.

Chapter 48 . . .

Posted: April 14, 2014 in Author Comments

red sky at night . . .

So this is it, the final chapter of our little saga of baseball and love. Like I’ve mentioned before, I tend to prefer my endings understated; although when I finished the original draft of this chapter, I recall thinking it was probably too understated. That’s why I pulled together an epilogue and you’re welcome to come back and read it next week if you’re looking for an ending that’s a little more exciting and to learn a bit more about what happened next.

For now I’ll just thank you again for reading the story. I appreciate it; and I would also like to say a special word of thanks to everyone who commented at any point or sent me an e-mail letting me know how you felt about our tale. It’s the only reward I get for the time invested and I thank those of you who let me know what you were thinking.

Speaking of e-mails, this is my final call for yours should you wish to be notified if I decide to publish any more stories online. Just send me an e-mail and let me know you would like to be added to my mailing list.

In the meantime, Chapter 48 is up. You can find it here. Have fun reading; and, of course, it’s never too late to let me know what you think. It would be nice to hear from you.

Chapter 47 . . .

Posted: April 7, 2014 in Author Comments

going home . . .

So we’re getting pretty close to the end of the story and I realize everyone is anxiously looking for a particular ending and that would be nice I suppose. But if you’ve read my other stories you’ll see I’ve tended toward understated endings in the past, not dramatic ones.

That’s partly because endings are only endings for us, not for the characters themselves. To be sure, we stop peeking into their lives, but their lives do go on; and sometimes, if we’re fortunate, we may even catch a glimpse of where their lives are headed.

The other important thing to remember about endings is that they happen on their own schedule, not ours. They can’t be rushed and require patience. Tonight’s chapter is not the ending, but it does move us close to the end. Recognizing what it isn’t, try to enjoy it for what it is.

With that I’ll just say I’ve posted Chapter 47. You can find it here. Have fun reading and thanks again for sticking with me through what’s turned out to be a rather long journey.

Chapter 46 . . .

Posted: March 31, 2014 in Author Comments

serious too :-)

I’ve been in and out of town the last couple of days and probably won’t be home until a little later this evening, but hopefully you’re reading this post and we’ve scheduled Chapter 46 to appear at the usual time.

There’s a lot going on in my life at the moment and I haven’t been able to spend as much time as I would have liked editing this week’s chapter. Nor has my young friend, the budding author, so it may be a little rough, especially since I’ve had to make some adjustments to the chapter based on what was deleted earlier. Like the saying goes, it is what it is.

It’s probably also time for me to start thinking about revising and updating my mailing list. I never used to have one of those, but I pulled one together after Nifty decided not to publish Summer Boys, Summer Dreams. I think that’s how some of you learned about this story; and while the current list is not very comprehensive and I’m not planning on posting another story anytime soon, you never can be certain what life has in store for you.

The point is that now is the time to revise or add your e-mail address to the mailing list if you want to be sure you’ll be notified if I eventually decide to post another story online. You can do that by e-mailing me directly. You’re also welcome to have your name removed from the list if you like.

I don’t sell the list or share it with anyone; the only thing it’s ever been used for is to let you know I’m about to publish another story online (and I’ve only done that the one time). But you’re also welcome to subscribe here or over at the Annex to get notices whenever I post. WordPress maintains those lists, not me, and I’m not promising I’ll be posting either here or at the Annex very much.

But I am planning to leave both sites up for now. If I change my mind about that, I’ll give advanced notice before taking them down. So that’s another way of staying in touch that doesn’t require you to give me your e-mail address if you prefer not to do that. Or you can just check back here or at the Annex on your own periodically to see if anything new is in the works.

In any event, Chapter 46 is up. You can find it here. Although I plan to publish an epilogue that I personally think will be worth reading, this is the first of the final three chapters.

but not really funny

March 27 update: The Washington Post is reporting today that President Obama and his cronies are looking for quick action by Congress to approve changes in the bulk data collection program that spies on you.

“We really hope that the Congress can act swiftly,” it quotes a “senior administration official, who spoke in a conference call with reporters, but on the condition of anonymity.” This is the way Obama does things. He doesn’t have the guts to come out publicly and say what he wants. But that doesn’t really come as a surprise I suppose.

In any event, this should tell you two things. First, the Administration is lying again. If it wanted to end the bulk data collection program, the President could do it today. He could just tell the NSA to stop collecting the data. But Obama didn’t do that. Instead, he authorized the program’s continuation for another ninety days and now he wants Congress to pass “reforms” the Administration refuses to spell out in detail so you can actually see what they amount to.

The other thing this should tell you is that neither Obama nor the Administration are looking for serious reform. They want to stampede Congress into enacting “reforms” that may not be reforms at all, but an effort to actually expand the program. See the original post below for more on that.

The point is the Administration understands that a serious, genuine, and prolonged debate of these matters would be embarrassing to it. That’s the reason it’s pressing for swift action.

We’ll have to see what Congress does in the days ahead, but don’t count on it to stand up to the President or to pass real reform. All of these clowns are part of the same cabal who continue to rape the Constitution every day. They don’t give a shit about your privacy or your security. They only care about stampeding Congress into ratifying something that will likely expand their spying authorities.

Like I’ve said below, if their lips are moving, they’re lying to you. And you need to tell your own Representatives and Senators to find some backbone and stand up to the Administration. The way to do that is through prolonged hearings that get all the facts out on the table. Anything short of that is a disservice to you and to the very idea of what America is all about.

March 25 original post

You may have seen a lot of stories in the press today about the latest set of alleged reforms designed to reign in the National Security Agency (NSA), one from President Obama and another from the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. If you have any sense at all, you’ll take most of what you read with a grain of salt.

Obama’s proposals come from the NSA itself and Attorney General Eric Holder, one the worst Attorney Generals in memory. Obama assigned them to come up with a new set of reforms after he had rejected another set of reforms from an earlier group of hand-picked toadies. Do you really trust people who have repeatedly raped the Constitution and lied to Congress to come up with serious reforms?

The other set of proposals come from Congressmen Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland), the chairman and ranking minority member of the House Intelligence Committee. Rogers is an especially odious and loathsome creature. He’s been the NSA’s biggest defender in the House of Representatives and has a long history of lying about matters large and small.

Rather than overseeing the intelligence community, he prefers to spend his time slandering Edward Snowden, one of the genuine heroes in this whole debate. Nothing these two clowns propose will ever pass the laugh test.

By the way, it’s important to recognize that neither Obama nor Rogers & Ruppersberger have an actual legislative proposal we can look at. What we mostly have is their own self-description of their proposals leaked to a selective group of friendly reporters who are mainly cheerleaders for the intelligence community.

What’s beyond doubt is that the bulk data collection program will continue under both sets of proposals. The data itself will reportedly be held by the telephone companies and be made available on demand. Under the proposal from the two congressional clowns “the government could search data from those companies based on a reasonable articulable suspicion that someone is an agent of a foreign power, associated with an agent of a foreign power, or in contact with, or known to, a suspected agent of a foreign power.”

This actually seems to be an expansion of the NSA’s authority as its current phone records program is restricted to a reasonable articulable suspicion of terrorism.

Wondering what a “reasonable articulable suspicion” is? It’s not probable cause, that’s for sure. It’s just a phony, made up term that means someone in the NSA thinks you may be involved in terrorism and is willing to say that out loud, nothing more.

It’s basically a stupid attempt by the government to make you think there is some elaborate standard in place against which suspicion can be tested. But that’s just another lie from a government accustomed to lying to the American people all the time and anxious for something much looser than probable cause.

Equally important, “a judge would reportedly not have to approve the collection beforehand;” and “the language suggests the government could obtain the phone records on citizens at least two hops away from the suspect, meaning if you talked to someone who talked to a suspect, your records could be searched by the NSA” as well. All of that is from The Guardian, which apparently has seen a draft of the Rogers/Ruppersberger proposal.

The Guardian goes on to note that “the administration’s plan would supposedly end the collection of phone records by the NSA, without requiring a dangerous new data retention mandate for the phone companies, while restricting analysis to the current rules around terrorism and, importantly, still requiring a judge to sign off on each phone-record search made to the phone companies – under what the New York Times described as a new kind of court order.”

But, again, we can’t be sure of anything really because the actual legislative proposals are not available for review. Indeed, if the Los Angeles Times is correct, the bulk data collection program might actually expand exponentially under Obama’s proposal.

“The National Security Agency would lose its authority to collect and hold years’ worth of telephone calling records but gain access to cellphone information it currently lacks under an Obama administration proposal aimed at quieting controversy over the spy agency’s data archive,” the Times reported today.

It then went on to explain in more detail: “Most importantly, it [the Obama proposal] would expand the universe of calling records the agency can access. After months of suggesting that they were collecting all the calling metadata, U.S. officials disclosed last month that a large segment of mobile phone calls were not covered by the program, and that as a result the NSA may only collect 30% of all call data in the country.”

Under Obama’s new proposal, everything would be collected, stored and available for review. In Obama speak, that’s what’s known as change you can believe in. The fact that it’s also a violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution apparently is no concern to the ex-law school professor.

I could go on, of course, but let’s be honest, people. When have any of these clowns showed any concern for your privacy or for the Constitution either? Rogers and Ruppersberger are the NSA’s congressional pet poodles, men who’ve repeatedly lied to us.

And Obama is hardly any better. But one thing all three share in common is a recognition that the Patriot Act, one of the pillars of the surveillance state, is due to expire in the next eighteen months. If it does, all of this nonsense would have to end, at least theoretically, until a new law could be debated and put in place.

They don’t want that to happen. They want to pass new legislation now under the guise of reform that will actually continue the spying and the rape of the Constitution; and now they’ve come to realize the only way to do that is to sell you on how concerned they are about your privacy rights.

If you believe these people, I have a bridge to sell. These are the people who have damaged America; the people who have made us less safe and who can’t be trusted to do the right thing. At least that’s my view.

The bottom line is I would urge you to be cautious, very cautious, as you read all these stories. A large part of the media is part of the very same Washington cabal that foisted all of this shit on us and they’re adept at the language of 1984:

WAR IS PEACE, FREEDOM IS SLAVERY, IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

That’s what they’re counting on, especially that last slogan. I would encourage you not to fall for any of it. These people are liars. They can’t be trusted. And if you take what they say on faith, don’t be surprised to find yourself fooled again.

As the Guardian put it: “The White House and the House Intelligence Committee leaked dueling proposals last night that are supposedly aimed at ending the mass collection of all Americans’ phone records. But the devil is in the details, and when it comes to the National Security Agency’s unique ability to twist and distort the English language, the devil tends to wrap his horns around every word.”

Or, to put it more simply, if their lips move, they’re lying to you.

Chapter 45 . . .

Posted: March 24, 2014 in Author Comments

another budding author . . . among other talents :-)

I’m not actually around tonight, but you should be reading this introduction if I didn’t screw things up. This week I left a special guest author in charge of editing Chapter 45 and scheduling it to appear at the usual time. Hopefully it’s up along with this introduction. If not, never mind; I’ll get to it sometime on Tuesday when I get back and punish the little cutie appropriately :-)

Not being around also means I won’t get to post any comments or respond to e-mails until Tuesday evening at the earliest, but don’t let that deter you from letting me know what you think of the chapter and how good a job our budding young author did.

I’m kind of biased myself, but I think he did very well. Not only did he edit a rough draft, he also expanded a couple of topics within the chapter in a very nice way. He did such a good job I may have to bring him back next week for a much longer run.

In any event, Chapter 45 is (hopefully) up. You can find it here. This chapter finishes up what the last one began and sets the stage for the conclusion of the story. I hope you enjoy it.

Chapter 44 . . .

Posted: March 17, 2014 in Author Comments

holy only because it's so full of holes

Tonight we begin wrapping the story up. As I mentioned last week, I originally planned for Part V to consist of five chapters and an epilogue. The question was whether to retain or eliminate the first two of those chapters.

As I suspected, there weren’t a lot of votes cast. However, no one said they supported eliminating the chapters in question while some favored retaining them. Since I promised I would go by majority vote, I’ve decided to leave them in.

In any event, Chapter 44 is up. You can find it here. Feel free to decide for yourself whether leaving it in was a plus or a minus.

Chapter 42 . . .

Posted: March 10, 2014 in Author Comments

nothing happened here

As some keep urging, I’ve decided to move the story along at a much quicker pace; how much quicker remains to be seen, but for now I’ve decided to conclude Part IV of the story tonight with this chapter. That will spare you at least five weeks of reading and more cuts are possible if that’s your preference.

What I’ve done is replace the six chapters and 29,000 words that would have concluded Part IV with the 6000 words in this new chapter. I apologize if it comes across as a bit rough, but I had to pull it together quickly this past week after it became apparent there’s no interest or enthusiasm for Riley, Gina and Marie as characters . . . or really for anything except a much quicker resolution of the story that ends with Ethan and Hunter living happily ever after.

Still to be determined is how much you would like the conclusion of the story to be scaled back. Currently, Part V, which will begin next week, consists of five chapters and an epilogue. Of those, the first two were originally designed to wrap up a loose detail, but neither moves us much closer to the resolution everyone is looking for.

They could be eliminated as well to move things along if you want. If we do that, we could be done with the story by the end of this month except for the epilogue and that can be skipped entirely as well. It was written primarily for those of you interested in the baseball, but it’s not mandatory by any means.

I’ll do whatever you decide at this point. If you want the next two chapters eliminated, send me an e-mail to that effect; if not, let me know you would like them to be retained. I realize it may be hard to decide without knowing more about the two chapters in question, but that’s the point after all, isn’t it? You can’t really miss something you’ve never seen and we would get to the end the story at least two weeks quicker if I delete them.

In any event, we’ll go with majority rule on this even if the vote count is ten or less as I expect it will be. If you care one way or the other, let me know by Friday at the latest since I’ll need the weekend to rework whatever the next chapter turns out to be. Normally I would start working on that tomorrow so this pause will free up some time for me to do other things. Yeah for me!

In the meantime, I’ve posted Chapter 43. You can find it here. Keep in mind this isn’t a boiled down version of the six chapters I eliminated. It’s a transition I improvised on the fly this week to get us to the conclusion as best as I could.