What is thomasdocheri.com all about?

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What you will find here
Who I am
Guest authors
Comment guidelines
Internet comment spam

What you will find here

Mostly I write fiction. The major premise of my four novels, subōrnāre, Affirmative Action, The Seventh Circle and Rogue Elephants, is the existential threat the male protagonist faces posed by an organized crime family’s efforts to prevent him from being a witness against one of its members. The story spans eighteen months and is spread over four novels that can be read in any order, the first two of which are synopsized as:

The Tosca brothers – Francesco and Jimmy – the dominant purveyors of cocaine, illegal gambling and loan sharking in the San Francisco Bay Area, believe that Jonathan Tyne could be a witness against one of theirs, Frank Jr.  Tyne was present at a gangland double-homicide but he can’t identify the last man standing, the one who was wounded but got away.  The shooter left behind his DNA and an unscrupulous assistant district attorney willing to suborn perjury, Elizabeth Sullivan, attempts to compel Jonathan to say that Frank Jr. could be the shooter.  All Jonathan has to do to get a walk for his part in the fracas is to pick three or four likely-looking faces from an array of the usual suspects as long as #8, Frank the Younger, is among the chosen set.  If he will she can compel all those chosen to give up a sample of their spit.  She already has a familial match of the DNA to a distant cousin of Junior’s but he’s never been arrested so no sample of his exists in any known database.

Tyne refuses but he makes sure the Toscas know what Sullivan was up to.  They don’t care.  Jonathan is a loose end and as long as he is alive he can recant.  Dead he can’t.  But after two near fatal attempts on his life, with little help from the police, Jonathan tires of the game.  He decides being the hunter rather than the prey promises a better outcome, especially since in another life he was well trained by the Navy in the black arts.  After OCS, his aptitude for languages netted him a stint learning Vietnamese.  Next was a year that included the Tet Offensive serving in Swifts at Cat Lo in IV Corps, then back to D.C. for intelligence officer school followed by a tour in the Mekong Delta as a Naval Intelligence Liaison Officer (NILO.)  He survived ten months in combat, mostly alone, his ass way out on a limb with only his wits and his language skills to keep him alive, until wounded, running a network of double agents.  If the Toscas insist on pursuing him he will accommodate them – take Affirmative Action – by taking matters into his own hands, until…

The characters and the events are products of my imagination but it isn’t all just make-believe. There is a message, a sub-plot, if you will, where the two protagonists say what I believe about the Vietnam War. The man fought, as did I, and then afterwards came to understand how wrong it was, as wrong as the Iraq War was but for different reasons, and not as most veterans of that war do, that they were sacrificed by a politically corrupt government but as a student of history – a person who has read about colonialism in general and the French experience in particular and rejects it out of hand. This is not a popular view. The majority of Americans believe anything the U.S. government decides to do is okay and they are ready to sign up… or at least they are ready to have their neighbor’s kid sign up to kill whomever the government decides needs killing. Dick Cheney said he “had other priorities.”

The woman in the story is Canadian and was active in the international peace movement. Arrested for civil disobedience too many times to count, including at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago, she worked in a youth hostel in Montreal and assisted American draft evaders to make a life in Canada. She helped them but she hated them because all they wanted, as she puts it, was “to save their shitty little lives. They were perfectly happy to let others do the killing as long as they didn’t have to serve.” The conflict between these two characters provides some of the novel’s tension. The woman, when dealing with Americans of a certain age, can’t really put any of this behind her. The man is alive, so he managed to come to grips with his guilt. Now he must convince the woman that he is no longer the person who was a willing part of the big green killing machine. Excerpts of my novels are available for your reading enjoyment.

Another piece of writing you will find is a short story entitled When Devils Advocacy Fails… Bad Things Happen. I wrote this in the fall of 2013 for several reasons. First, it was submitted to Mystery Writers of America anonymously, to be included, so I hoped, in an annual anthology. The way these submissions work, a distinguished panel of authors review the works without knowing the authors’ names. I felt this was a way to get my work reviewed, on a equal footing with the likes of Leonard or Patterson, since it is very difficult to get useful literary criticism in the normal course of efforts to get published. Well, my short was not selected and I received no feedback, which is the norm.

The second reason I wrote this piece is because 2014 is the fiftieth anniversary of the Tonkin Gulf Incidents and the Resolution they spawned. The work is historical fiction. What I mean by that is the events it depicts actually happened but the characters’ words and deeds are products of my imagination. That someone or someones at the National Security Agency manipulated North Vietnamese radio intercepts to serve a political end is indisputable. The NSA itself admits this was done although the principal researcher refused to name names. I’m certain his research would have revealed the names of every person who had access to those intercepts and to the methods by which they were published to those with a need to know, but for his own reasons, let that sleeping dog lie. I invented two characters that, acting for their own misguided ideological reasons (a lot of that was going around at the time… and still is), caused the misinterpreted messages to enter the political decision making process as fact. I also invented a technical mechanism, the TROPE system, to feed misinformation into the ether so that it can be detected, and processed, as real. I’m sure NSA had such a system, by whatever name they chose to call it.

Of all the things I’ve written, I am proudest of this short story. Not only does it remind all who read it of the terrible things this country did in Southeast Asia in 1964 and thereafter, but it is a harbinger of the weapons of mass destruction lies that were used to justify going to war in Iraq. I wonder if folks in the Bush Administration reviewed events surrounding the Tonkin Gulf Incidents and followed them as a model for their own ignominious program of misinformation? The short story is circa 1964 but it is as timely as PRISM and Edward Snowden. I invented TROPE but NSA invented Thin Thread, aspects of which are important attributes in several of my novels. See you soon in the blogs…

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If there were a rating system for books similar to the oft-criticized MPAA rating system for film my fiction would probably be R-rated. My dialogue contains profanity, always in context because that’s the way people talk. I abhor censorship of any kind. I don’t think there is any word in the English language that is inappropriate in English dialogue. I occasionally write a line or two in Spanish and French, again in context, and those expressions may contain profanity too. After all, non-English speakers curse too in their native languages.  There is also some violence, including torture, again in context, none gratuitous. If this sort of writing offends you, perhaps what I write is not for you.

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Who I am

I’m told by agents I’ve been trying to get to represent my work that a fiction writer’s bio is unimportant. You can leave it out of your queries. They won’t object. In fact, it will make them shorter; easier for agents to assign them to the slush pile. One agent told me she can decide in fifteen seconds whether to read a query beyond the first paragraph. Imagine that, if you can. Fifteen seconds to decide whether a 400 page novel is worth reading. Agents are the publishing industry’s gatekeepers (someone has to do it) and each one thinks she’s god. Well, that’s okay; a writer is a kind of god too to his readers. In ancient times there were many gods.

Agents who may be reading this: I mean no disrespect. I understand the issues from your points of view. I’m sure all of you are more aware than I how time consuming and costly it is to provide feedback. To get some I paid for a first-10-pages critique but I understand your professional association, Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) prohibits its members from charging reading or evaluation fees.  The folks I dealt with found a clever way around this proscription. I could self-publish but the vanity press is not for me. I have no brief against those that use this method, and I understand the industry may have migrated to a model to let first-time authors assume all publication risk while focusing the traditional pathways on established authors. Self-publishing, in my view is self-deception. For you, dear agents and others in publishing, my site is an online query tool to supplement a discrete query to further demonstrate how well I write.

Not so for non-fiction authors. Then, your bio is crucial, since then you have to convince them you’re an expert in the field you’re writing about. With fiction, you have to be a good story teller and know your way around a fiction writer’s keyboard, but who you are isn’t all that important unless you’re already published. Then they may try to poach you away from your present agent.

Suffice it to say, I am a retired software engineer now a full-time writer. Enough said.

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Site content copyright © 2013 – 2019 by Thomas Docheri.

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication (anything that appears on this site) may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review. Since I use Google and Bing Webmaster tools to track the activity on this site, the use of those tools by me implies that I have granted to Google and Microsoft permission to copy, store and briefly excerpt, but not to modify anything found herein.

I hate writing this page, …which is the reason it has lain dormant lo these many months this site has been operational. I hate writing it because it will contain some rules, just a few, but nevertheless… rules… and I hate rules. However, the world we live in and in particular, the Internet as a vehicle for communication (I call it the fever swamp) makes rules necessary. Some folks seem to believe the Internet is a total free market of ideas, as in the freedom personified by the open-source movement. Others believe anything published on the Internet is in the public domain and is therefore free as in free beer. Well, it is and it isn’t.

You are free to say whatever you please on the Internet, so in that sense it is a free market, but you are not free to use what I’ve written and call it your own. For example, all of the information on this site, in whatever form it may take, is copyrighted. The theme: the appearance of the widgets, the manner in which they relate to each other and the navigation methods for moving around the site were written by WordPress, which means the folks at Automattic, Inc., own the rights to it. The text, all of it, every word, comma, semicolon and typo are mine. Those components, the pieces that comprise the human readable content are protected by statute and may not be copied, in any form and by any method without my permission. Can I enforce this by making my content technically impossible to copy? Unfortunately, this appears not to be possible. Therefore, I must rely on the good will and basic honesty of most people to refrain from intellectual piracy. Most will, some will not, which is the way the world works.

I will come after you, legally, if I catch you.

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Most but not all of what will be found on this site is fiction. It should be obvious in context which is and which is not. The novels and short stories found herein are works of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Occasionally, when I get bored with writing fiction I will fall back to my comfort zone: software engineering. One of my posts discussing how to set up a WordPress sandbox, My excellent adventure in MAMP and XAMPP lands, is more popular than anything else I’ve written. Go figure.

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Guest authors

Sorry, I have zero interest in collaboration with other bloggers, or in exchanging gratuitous I’ll scratch your back if you’ll scratch mine links with other site owners. I am seriously interested in collaborating with another author (distaff only) of fiction who writes in my genres and would be interested in improving my depiction of women (see my earlier post Cross-gender character development and male-female writing teams on this subject).

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Comment guidelines

I moderate all comments but any legitimate (see discussion re comment spam below) comment is welcome. I may correct spelling or grammatical errors, as long as doing so does not change the writer’s intent but I will not otherwise edit or alter what anyone chooses to write. I may discard the entire comment but if I choose to post it (my absolute right), it will be complete. If you wish to edit a comment previously made please use my CONTACT form to discuss the nature of your edits. I may close a comment thread if the writer is hostile or defamatory (once he makes his point) but will not remove the thread. All comments remain the views of their authors and posting them to this site does not imply agreement with their content.

Valid email addresses are required (the WordPress plug-in I’m using requires them) but under no circumstances will they be disclosed to anyone.

This site is chiefly about my writing, almost exclusively fiction. Comments that are off point or are meant to promote or advertise the commenter’s website or contain commercial product or service advertising will be deleted.

For any issue I haven’t explicitly covered, remember, I own this site so I may do whatever I please with your comment other than claim authorship of it: My site – my rules.

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Internet comment spam

The delivery of comment spam seems to be the largest contribution by type of those who visit this site. My Akismet spam-count now exceeds 60,000 pieces (circa January 2015) after just over a year. I’m not sure what to make of this. I’d like to think that at least that many visitors believe my site is visible and prominent enough they can leverage it to improve the search rank of their own sites. They can’t, because none of it is or ever will be visible but the sheer volume of this stuff surely signifies something.

Comment spammers are wasting their time targeting me. I moderate all comments that Akismet doesn’t filter out and my antennae for detecting spam in comments are acute.

For example: there seems to be an entire industry created to broadcast generic comments in the hope that a site/blog owner will accept them, thus making their links visible. Once upon a time, in another galaxy far, far away I worked for DoubleClick/Google. At DC, and by implication rather than design, our claim to fame before we became Nooglers (I still have the propeller beanie to prove it (alas, I lost the propeller – or removed it because it was so dumb)), was that we would put your Internet keyword ad campaign on any search engine with our API’s so that you would not have to know the details of any particular engine’s API (they were and are all different). We were agnostic with respect to the engines and favored none over any other, not even after the Google acquisition. That seems to be the model these spam agents are using.

The comment author or agent writes something so generic it could apply to any post or page at any site on the Internet and the agent distributes it, for a fee. Indeed, I have seen comments I’ve rejected as spam in the comment archives of sites I visit, the language, including spelling and grammar errors exactly as sent to me. Many are obviously written by spammers whose first language is not English. The translations, replete with pathetic errors and lacking any English idiomatic expressions – or butchering them – leave much to be desired. And when I look up the IP addresses I find many are coming from Florida, China, Russia or Eastern Europe. Some arrive from these places at a time when the site has no visitors, the comments being sent by scripts (spam bots). This is ridiculously easy to do in Perl with LWP (Library for World Wide Web in Perl, which has been around in non-beta form since at least 1996). Here are some examples that illustrate how stupid this process is. All have been received many times from many sources:

  • One of my posts, an excerpt from my novel Rogue Elephants is entitled: How to get rid of three dead bodies. I frequently get a spam message from China, seemingly coming from many different real people, that thanks me for posting such a useful How-To. Well hot damn, it just occurred to me. Many of my readers in China may actually need to get rid of dead bodies… ya think?
  • Hey dude, your site won’t display properly in my {Chrome|Mozilla|Safari|Android} [pick one] – you may want to try and fix that.
  • One points out that my videos are great but since I write so well, I should write more and use videos less. There are no videos on my site, zero, nada, none, and only one JPEG image.
  • I get one pretty much daily that is an absolutely humungous template with fill-in-the-blanks choices for customizing the comment, targeted perhaps at a spam agent’s customers. Examples: “Greetings from {Idaho|Carolina|Ohio|Colorado|Florida|Los angeles[sic]|California}!
    I’m {bored to tears|bored to death|bored} at work so I decided to {check
    out|browse} your {site|website|blog} on my iphone during lunch
    and “You have touched some {nice|pleasant|good|fastidious}{points|factors|things} here. Any way keep up wrinting [sic].” This fool doesn’t even spell check. How this one escaped into the wild from Ukraine is anyone’s guess.
  • The one I hate the most promises to teach me how to steal site content from any website and change it making it 100% unique such that it will pass Copyscape plagiarism tests.
  • Another asserts my blog deserves a much bigger audience and promises to make it go viral (WTF does that mean?) by using a certain tool (link thoughtfully provided).
  • One asserts one of my adverts (is that ads? I have none) triggered his browser to resize and I might want to put that on my blacklist. Man, if I could, I’d make your fucking browser explode in your face, you stupid cretin.
  • Some contain smiley faces that include hidden embedded links.
  • Some want to know what blog platform I’m using. Hey dudes, look at the bottom of every page and post for attribution.
  • Folks hawking knock-off NFL jerseys, payday loans and the ever-popular uggs are ubiquitous.

And so on and so on… I call the Internet the fever swamp. Another apt name is cesspool. Think about how much bandwidth is wasted transporting and dealing with this garbage. Needless to say, none of this shit will ever see the light of day on my site.

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