Russian hackers file DMCA complaint against Bolingbrook (Fiction)

A Russian hacker group tried to obliterate Bolingbrook by filing a Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint. The complaint falsely claimed that Bolingbrook, Illinois, is an illegal copy of the Russian village of Bolingbrook, Belgorod. The complaint not only demanded purging the Internet of any reference to Bolingbrook, but also demanded the state of Illinois demolish the village.

“This is an insult to the proud residents of Bolingbrook!” said Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta. “We will not let a frivolous DMCA complaint destroy over fifty years of progress.”

The complaint references an alleged website for the Russian Bolingbrook village. The site, which was created in March 2023, claims Bolingbrook, Belgorod is “proud community with a thousand years of history.” Yet, all the photos appear to have been downloaded from the Village of Bolingbrook’s Facebook page, or from residents of Bolingbrook. Most are unaltered, but some have been crudely Photoshopped to add polar bears.

State officials, who asked not be identified, confirmed they won’t enforce the takedown request. One said the complaint was the worst abuse of copyright law since Negativeland was forced to destroy copies of their song “U2.” Another claimed the complaint is invalid because the complainant didn’t provide their read name and address.

The Russian hacker group Super Patriotic Americans for Orange Man claimed responsibility for the DMCA complaint. Part of their statement read, “Why create when we can use American copyright law to take?”

YouTube personality and private intelligence analyst Ryan McBeth believes the DMCA attack will be the first of many unconventional attacks against the United States. “All it takes is one ill-intentioned governor to use a Russian DMCA complaint as an excuse to destroy a major city.” He later added, “Damn it. YouTube just demonetized another one of my videos!”

Alexander-Basta said she’s working with covert social media operative Charlene Spencer to protect the village from future DMCA attacks. “I used to wonder why I let her inside Village Center instead of arresting her. I guess an amoral person can do the right thing occasionally.”

Also in the Babbler:

Bolingbrook cracks down on aliens shoplifters
Strike averted at Peotone UFO Base
Mind Flyer spotted near Palatine
God to smite Bolingbrook on 9/22/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer. 

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories.  You can also buy me a coffee.

Podish-Sortacast: Redemption Arcs

This month’s Podish-Sortacast covers real life redemption arcs.

This episode is the mirror image of #17. That month, we discussed things we like that have… “issues;” this month, we talk about the creators who made something problematic, realized their mistake, and tried to make up for it. We’re both stepping through the other side of the looking glass, and taking a more optimistic view of screwing up. You really can do better!

I can’t make this one because I have to be a caretaker this weekend. It will be streamed live this Saturday at 4 PM CST on YouTube. I might catch it if I’m awake.

What creators do you think went though a real life creation arc?



Video: Pirated books used to teach LLM AIs (Non-Fiction)

This video by Alyssa Matesic has a good overview on the subject of AI companies using pirated books to teach their programs:

I played around with an AI program while working on my next book. While the rephrase functions gave me some ideas, the purely generated text was laughable at best. I stopped using the program when the company added a function to generate entire books in minutes. I didn’t want to support flooding retailers with port quality books.

I’m not opposed to LLM AIs in general, but there are many quality, legal, and ethical issues to be sorted out.

What are your thoughts?

Troll army attacks Bolingbrook book reviewer (Fiction)

After giving a horror author’s book a one star review, Bolingbrook resident Jeanne Z. Rushmore worried about being targeted by Internet trolls. She didn’t expect an army of real trolls to attack her home.

According to Rushmore, the trolls jumped out of primitive hot air balloons and landed in her front yard. Before they charged at her home, she moved her family upstairs and called 911.

“The operator said I shouldn’t make prank phone calls,” said Rushmore. “But I knew the Department of Paranormal Affairs would be listening to our call. I just had to hope they would arrive in time.”

While waiting for the DPA, Rushmore claimed the trolls demolished her living room and kitchen. One troll tried to climb up the stairs, but got pinned in the narrow stairwell.

“Who knows what would have happened if they were smarter?”

According to a statement released by the DPA, a cryptid strike team arrived five minutes after the phone call. The team defeated the trolls seconds later.

“The DPA keeps every resident safe from trolls and other monsters. Just remember that every time you feel like complaining about your property taxes.”

Some eyewitnesses disputed the DPA’s account. According to them, the strike team spent several seconds determining the trolls’ weaknesses.

Said one eyewitness, “They started out by playing the sound of thunder over loud speakers. One operative pulled out a knife, and his supervisor told him it was the most thoughtless thing he’d ever seen. Flame throwers did some damage. Someone on the team noticed the trolls had cybernetic implants. An EMP weapon killed the trolls. I guess Shadowrun really predicted the future.”

Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta released a statement saying the village is working with the New World Order to investigate the attack. She also issued a warning to everyone involved in independent publishing: “I don’t care if a one star review hurts your feelings. I don’t care if I Miblart criticized your book cover design. If you send any trolls into our village, we will find you. Every Bolingbrook resident has the right to post a review on Goodreads without fearing for their lives!”

The League of Horrific Authors released a statement defending an author’s right to send monsters after reviewers: “We built our reputations on scaring readers. If our books don’t scare you, we’ll find another way to scare you! Call us selfish. Call us entitled! Call us creepy! Just don’t call us harmless!”

Rushmore says the attack will not deter her from posting reviews. “There are terrible books out there written by terrible people. It’s my job as a Goodreads reviewer to hunt them down and punish them with a one star review!”

Also in the Babbler:

Martian Colonial Ambassador named Bolingbrook’s Alien of the year
Palatine’s Village Manager approves UFO base expansion
Bears coach Matt Eberflus rejects using Chat GPT to call plays
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8/31/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer. 

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories. You can also buy me a coffee.

Aliens students go back to school (Fiction)

By Reporter X

Like many human parents, Lozo Gozok struggled to get her son ready for the first day of school. Gozok’s struggle involved getting her son into her human suit.

“You can’t go to Bolingbrook High School with your tentacles sticking out.”

“But my friends—”

“Are going to meet the Men in Blue. If your friends passed an event horizon, would you follow them?.”

Gozok’s son protested as she pushed the last tentacles down and closed the suit. She smiled. “You look like a handsome, typical human teenager.”

“Why do we have to wear these suits? Why do we still call Clow a UFO Base when the new term is UAP? Can’t we just be honest?”

“Most humans want to kill us because they can’t see in a dark forest. Clow UFO Base is an acceptable name. Humans aren’t honest beings. Why should we be honest with them?”

Gozok’s son is among the dozens of alien students attending classes in school districts 365U and D11. For decades, alien human students have intermingled at 365U’s schools. Alien students learn about human culture and make connections with future leaders. Human students might get tutoring, if an alien likes the human.

“People wonder why aliens haven’t annihilated us,” said Steve Quigley, president of the 365U school board. “I wish I could tell them it’s because of our visitor exchange program. Think of us as a light in the dark forest. If you can see the animals, you won’t fear the animals. Well, most of the animals. You still want to stay away from bears.”

D211 board member Tim McGowan also supports alien exchange students. “I believe in the benefits of a diverse student body, and having classmates from another world can only broaden our students’ experiences. There you go! Now, will you stop bugging me?”

Some human and alien parents are concerned about the programs in each school district.

One D211 parent, who asked to remain anonymous, said, “I want my children to feel special when they go to school. Having aliens in the classroom makes them feel like uneducated savages. It’s almost as unforgivable as teaching students that slavery was bad, gay people exist, and it’s okay to read fiction. I can’t wait to move to Florida.”

Zelgozot Olo, who runs an interstellar logistics company, worries when his children go to school. “Observing an event horizon spinning civilization is fun until someone shoots metal projectiles at you. I’m not surprised some humans are afraid we’re going to obliterate them. Because they’d obliterate us if we gave them the opportunity.”

One of Olo’s children up to his dad and said he was off to school.

“Have fun,” Olo replied. “And don’t make the Fremd students feel inferior.”

“Inferior? Fremd is just as hard as the hive mind. If a human can succeed at Fremd, they can succeed anywhere in the galaxy!”

“Impressive. I guess Fremd High School is humanity’s redeeming achievement.”

Also in the Babbler:

Bolingbrook man says aliens probed him because of his Uranus joke
Naperville City Council rejects Gunkata martial arts studio
Elon Musk offers billions of dollars to rename Joliet X, Romeoville Y, and Bolingbrook Z
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8 20/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer. 

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories.  You can also buy me a coffee.

Podish-Sortacast Episode 21: Transphobia

Transphobia is the subject of this month’s Podish-Sortacast. Catch it this Saturday at 4 PM US Central.

As atheists, we’ve noticed how the religious right has chosen to demonize transgender people; as skeptics, we’ve noticed how they’ve “secularized” their rhetoric to have more universal appeal. Unfortunately, a lot of our fellow atheists and skeptics have been suckered in by the latter. We’ve covered this quite a bit on our blogs, but so far we haven’t covered it via the vodcast. Let’s change that.

I plan on joining my fellow FTB members on Saturday to discuss Trans panic occurring in the UK and the US. Even if I can’t make it, you should still watch it because I’m sure it will be a lively and important episode.

UFO crashes into Long Grove’s covered bridge (Fiction)

By Reporter X

A spacecraft attempting to land at Palatine’s Sherman Base crashed into Long Grove’s Robert Coffin Bridge. The crew and the bridge were unharmed, but the collision caused extensive damage to the craft.

The pilot, XoiGon, claims the collision wasn’t her fault. “The bridge made me do it! As we flew our the town, I felt compelled to fly through a space that was too narrow. It had nothing to do with the Blue Cheese I was snacking on. I can handle that. I can’t handle a cursed human structure!”

This is the 51st time a vehicle has struck the covered bridge. It is the first time a spacecraft crashed into it. A local official, who asked not to be identified, denied the bridge is cursed. 

“There are lots of signs warning people about the height restriction. Drivers either ignore them and want to test the bridge’s reinforced roof. I think that alien did it on purpose and learned a valuable lesson.”

An anonymous resident disagrees. “The bridge by a demon. That demon demands a sacrifice of vehicles in exchange for its protection. I think it now has a taste for alien spaceships!”

Investigators from the New World Order doubt the bridge is possessed. “We have detected no divine or infernal energy within the bridge. We’re leaning towards magnetism. Maybe the steel used to reinforce the bridge randomly magnetizes itself.”

Beth Z. Carson, a spokesperson for Sherman UFO Base, says the base is fully cooperating with the NWO. “I think this investigation will show the Illuminati were involved. They know Clow UFO Base can’t compete with us!”

Bolingbrook’s Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta denied any involvement in the accident. “Why would we want to give Long Grove more free publicity? They may have their truck devouring bridge, but we have the Golf Club and WeatherTech.”

In the background, a woman who sounded like covert social media operative Charlene Spencer said, “So, is it true D2D is going to buy BookBub?”

A man over the phone replied, “Of course not. We just bought Smashwords and Do you realize how much it is going to cost to clean up both sites?”

“Kevin. You know you could worry about that after D2D becomes the Amazon of self-publishing.”

“Amazon? D2D is the anthesis of Amazon. We’re just providing the tools to help our wide authors succeed.”

Another man yelled over the phone, “Dear Lord! Please forgive us for distributing a book with the word ‘Daddy.’ And forgive our trespass for distributing a Godless Urban Fantasy!”

“Of course, not every author can be a D2D author.”

Also in the Babbler:

Egypt denies conquering Bolingbrook
Mayor will not rename Clow UFO Base
Rep. Bill Foster campaigns on the moon
God to smite Bolingbrook on 8/5/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories.  You can also buy me a coffee.

Some good news for a change (Non-fiction)

As some of you may recall, my company laid me off back in March. Fortunately, they rehired me last week. I went back to the office on Monday. It was surreal in some ways, but  I appreciated that my former teammates made my return possible. It’s not my old position, but it is a position.

Over the past four months, I learned more than I ever expected to about LinkedIn, job interviews, and how to produce an ATS friendly resume. I also discovered how good my company’s health care policy is. As much as I would love to be a full-time writer, I didn’t have the savings or the killer marketing instinct necessary to make it possible. I’ll have to wait for my retirement for that to happen.

There were lots of difficulties during my job hunt. Though too many would credit a higher power, I feel I got this point with the help of other people. I appreciated the support from my friends and family. The advice and training I received from JVS/JCFS pointed me in the right direction, and kept my spirits up whenever an interview didn’t go well. Being part of the Kol Hadash and Freethought Blogs community also encouraged me through the stressful times. We are in this together.

Now I need to adjust to my new work hours and my new creative writing schedule. I’m making progress towards finishing the next book in my secular Urban Fantasy series. I might beat George RR Martin to publication again. 🙂





Center for Inquiry and Richard Dawkins filming ‘The Sound of Reason’ in Bolingbrook (Fiction)

The only movie production still operating in the United States is currently shooting scenes in Bolingbrook. Currently titled The Sound of Reason, controversial Professor Richard Dawkins and the equally controversial Center for Inquiry are producing what they claim will be the atheist version of The Sound of Freedom.

Said a production manager, who asked not to be identified, “If you can’t beat them, copy them. They’re not the only ones who can make vile accusations against our opponents.”

The movie is about a young British Home Office employee named Richard who uncovers a sinister cabal planning to infect a mind virus on the Western World. When his supervisor, Peter Zed, threatens to reprimand Richard for his dangerous ideas, Richard resigns and sets out to stop the “Broke” mind virus.

Because most of the actors are British, and most of the scenes are being filmed in Oxford, UK, The Sound of Reason is exempt from the SAG/SWG strike. CFI, according to sources, insisted on filming part of the movie in the United States. The production, however, does not have a permit from the Village of Bolingbrook. As a result, the crew film at night with hidden cameras.

Paul X. Cooper, a Bolingbrook resident, claims the crew drafted him into being an extra. “Some guy handed me a $100 and told me to watch the actors and pretend to be offended. When they said Christianity was a symptom of the Broke Mind Virus, I didn’t need to act offend. I was offended.”

According to a source within Village Hall, Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta refused to grant a film permit. The sources claim she objected to this scene that was going to be filmed in front of the Bolingbrook Community Center. The sources provided a copy of the scene.

Richard: It’s hideous the way they infect children with the Broke Mind Virus. Parents are fooled into sending their children into special schools, where they are groomed to accept the mind infection.

Average American character to be named later: That’s terrible! Who should I shoot first?

Richard: But that’s not the worst part?

Average: It’s not?

Richard: The worst part is what they do to the children who resist the virus. They’re labeled “At Risk Youth” and forced to attend special sessions where infectors devise individual behavior modification programs for each sweet, innocent little child. Once infected with the Broke Mind Virus at such a young age, the condition is almost incurable!

Average: Outrageous! I must jump on social media and post about the radical gender identity cultural Marxists!

Richard: Gender identity? No. I’m talking about delusional religious leaders. 

Alexander-Basta denied meeting with a film crew. She urged all residents to remain calm during the strike. “There’s lots of content on the streaming platforms. HBO can revive all the programs they pulled. But in the unlikely event you finish watching all the platforms, we have lots of books you can check out at the library.”

A spokesperson for CFI denied they were producing a movie. The spokesperson started crying and said, “I survived Covid only to be interviewed by the Babbler. There is a secular hell, and I’m in it!”

In the background, a man who sounded like Richard Dawkins said, “My Twitter feed isn’t what it used to be. How will you fix it?”

A man who sounded like Elon Musk said, “I will come up with something and it will work because I’m a billionaire!”

Also in the Babbler

Chicagoland survives Russian tornado attack
Fire elementals devastate Canada
Gender critical feminists attack person critical of gender
God to smite Bolingbrook on 7/20/23

Note: This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer. 

Want to support my creative work? Check out my Urban Fantasy series, the Bolingbrook Babbler Stories.  You can also buy me a coffee.