Monday, December 28, 2009

The only way to prevent terrorism on airplanes

The latest terrorist attempt to take down an airplane has me once again kicking around my radical idea of how far we have to go if we want to make sure that no terrorist can ever take down a plane while being a passenger.

Basically, what we need to do is to have all passengers strip down buck naked. Then they must be poked and prodded...all of them...no exceptations. They must fly to their destination this way.

Their luggage must be flown on a different plane. No one is allowed carry-ons of any sort. And the buggage plane can only be used for baggage; it cannot carry passengers.

Furthermore, all passengers must be given drugs, so that they sleep during the entire flight.

All passengers must be subjected to xrays, and other assorted scans; we do not want people hiding bombs in body cavities.

Of course, the flaw in this plan is that it leaves the door open to biological terrorism. It also does not prevent terrorist organizations from recruiting airlane employees.

Oh, on second thought, let's ban just all airtravel and go back to trains and steamboats. After all, it is the only way to make airlanes perfectly safe. And that is what we all want, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

I am confused by healthcare reform

Something I realized recently is that I have absolutely no clue what the current healthcare reform bill looks like. All I know is that taking a cue from Dan Carlin, I suspect that it is going to cause more harm than good; the people who should be complaining about it, and fighting it every inch of the way, are not concerned about it. So what is in the bill that helps them (and hurts us)?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Presidential Lottery Spam

As most of my regular readers know, periodically I criticize the spam mail that I recieve. Often this happens when I am trying to get into writing mode (today my wife is home sick; all attached writers know how disruptive that is).

Today's winner was from the United States of America International Lottery Program (whoever they are). Supposely, my email address was partially responsible for me having the winning numbers. Hmmm, I am paranoid; I bet everyone who got the email was told the same thing, down to the exact same numbers.

But that is not why it was chosen as today's winner. Here is the best line from this particular piece of spam:

This Lottery was promoted and sponsored by the New American President (Barrack Obama) as part of his social responsibility to the citizens in the communities where they have operational base and you are entitled with a huge lump sum of One Million United States Dollars ($1,000.000.00USD).

Huh?

Ok, the person writing the email has less than perfect knowledge of grammar rules. And what exactly is an "operational base"? Won't it be a lack of an operational base? (Ok, I am bluffing; I have no idea what an operational base is.)

And more importantly, exactly how does running a internet lottery help fulfill the President's social responsibilty? I imagine each of my readers can come with a dozen things that he should be doing that would sooner fulfill his social responsibility.

Fixing the economy, funding higher education, making us safer, etc., add you personal favorites in the comment section.

Once again, I find myself wondering who writes this stuff; and more importantly, who exactly is falling for it.

Oh wait...evil thought...what if this is the same email that was sent to the companies who were "too big to fail"? That give-away was lumped under social responsibility, wasn't it? Maybe I should answer it; after all, it would hurt so many people if I fail, won't it?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Quote of the day: Reagan on the Economy

The government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.
Ronald Reagan

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Only 3026 words so far, many more to go

Well, I have only done 3,026 words so far for NaNoWriMo. I should be almost at twelve thousand words (11,669 to be exact) at the end of the day if I was on schedule. Basically I have written six nights for a little while each day, and have only accomplished like two days worth (a touch short actually from even that short goal of 3,334 words).

It is enourgh to drive home the point that I might not even be capable of being a hack. But then again, I had homework, newspaper articles and finished off reading Dracula. I might not be a great writer, but even on a busy week I hacked out three thousand words. I guess that is something to smile about.

In the old days, we used to travel by couch and buggy, or maybe horse and buggy, horses, boat, or just on foot. There are some that believe that we used to (and still do) travel by fairy circle, stone hedges and by flying around on broomsticks. The latter has always puzzled me. Why would anyone trust their existence to a slender piece of wood with straw tied to the end? I do not care how strong of a candle you light, the rarity of the feathers that you tie onto it, or the awesome power of your charms; it is still just a stick being held up by the power of positive thinking. I will stick with mechanical means of travel, thank you no. Then again, given the security line and the reliability of pilots nowadays, going to a broom closet and selecting your own means of travel might be preferable if it wasn’t for the exhaustion that making a broom fly would result in.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Days 2009

The last couple of days, I have been snowed in. Oh, I could have gotten someplace if I really wanted to, but I am finding that as I grown older that the urge to brave the weather lessens every year.

I have discovered that you can tell a lot by how someone spends a snow day. In my case, I napped a lot. My wife, Toni, spent the day napping also (she thought she was coming down with some bug).

I could have spent it working, but my heart was not into it. The same goes for homework. I am still having days when I hear my sister's opinion of my entire life in my head (basically, she thinks that I am doing everything wrong and generally wasting my time while leeching off of others).

It is for that fact that I really do not feel guilty about not accomplishing anything on these snow days; after all, I am not expected to. There is also the little fact that I am doing National Novel Writing Month starting on November 1st. I figure that considering that I am going to be attempting to write 50,000 words in thirty days, plus do everything else that I need to do in November, that a couple of naps while being snowed in are not the end of the world. In fact, I might actually earn them next month.

Early warning---most of my posts that I do in November are going to read: Day X of NaNoWriMo, Y words done, Z words to go.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quote of the day: Sontag on Art and Morals

Much of modern art is devoted to lowering the threshold of what is terrible. By getting us used to what, formerly, we could not bear to see or hear, because it was too shocking, painful, or embarrassing, art changes morals.
Susan Sontag
1933-
American Essayist

Friday, September 18, 2009

RAEBNC

Earlier this month, I had a comment on one of my blog entries saying that she (Kate) wished that she could give it a simple thumbs up like we do on facebook (without having to leave an actual comment).

And I understood exactly what she was saying. There are times I wish that option was available also.

I have a friend whose blog I have quit commenting on because he wants comments, and good comments at that: no repeating what other people have said, constructive and insightful comments. I rarely comment on his blog simply because of time schedules, I am like the twentieth comment (and it is hard work to come up with something that he will tolerate from me). He hates (or maybe loathes) what I am about to suggest to my own readers.

If you want to give me a thumbs up, but do not want to leave a full comment, just say "RAEBNC."

For those people who have never been a member of an amateur press association (APA): RAEBNC is shorthand for "Read and enjoyed, but no comment."

Interestingly enourgh, the same APA that I picked up an appreciation for RAEBNC is the same place that my friend picked his hatred for the term. But in all fairness, we were at different places in our development as writers when we were members of that APA (Phoenix---a science fiction/fantasy APA).

Go ahead and RAEBNC me; I won't be insulted.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Occult price index

I was just reading a blog (Luke Sidewalker) and realized that I do not remember the last time that someone mentioned the consumer price index on the news. Sidewalker, whose blog is mainly about picking up loose change, is starting a new monthly feature on his blog where he tracks the price changes of twenty items. He feels that this is a better indicator of inflation/deflation than using car and housing prices.

For those who took economics, this is a "price index" and the set of items that is tracked every month is referred to as a "basket". (Yes, I took a couple of economics classes over the past couple of years.)

Reading his list, and the suggestions of his readers, I realized not only do I gauge the state of the economy like this, but I have some weird things in my basket. Besides the normal milk, eggs, bread, cat food and printer ink, I also have occult books, candles and incense that I also buy on a regular basis.

I know that I am using them in my own personal index, besides complaining about the rising cost of cat food all summer, I think everyone has heard my complaints about the rising costs of occult books.

But it made me wonder what type of things would end up in a basket for an occult price index. What types of things do all occultists pay for on a regular basis? Incense? Candles? Tarot decks? Lodge dues? Virgin chickens?

The world may never know.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ten Years for Stealing Library Books

Tonight, I was watching a news story about Thomas Pilaar, the book bandit. He is the man who got sentenced to ten years and $53, 549 restitution for stealing books and DVDs from several library systems in the Denver metro area.

Pilaar was using multiple cards (at least seven) and borrowing up to three hundred items per card. He admitted in the interview that he was taking out three to five hundred items a day, and making five to six hundred dollars a day doing so. He would remove all the stickers and book stamps from the books, then unload them though an online book seller. Denver Public Library alone suffered at least $35,000 in losses though his actions (he was doing this in several other of the local counties library systems). A missed book stamp is what lead someone to call the police.

All to support a drug habit.

Now I will admit that he is right about ten years being a lot for stealing library books. Other criminals doing far worse have gotten far less time. Tommorrow night, Fox31 is going to be running a story investigating whether his lawyer is partially to blame for his long sentence.

I wonder how much time I would get for not paying my lost book fines. For those who do not knowthe story: an ex-roommate of mine left with quite a few library books taken out under my library card. I owe a touch over a thousand dollars. The only reason I have not paid off the fines is simply because money has been tight forever.

I just hope that I can get the money to pay off my library fines before I am sent to jail. But then again, I truly lost the books; I am not guilty of selling them.

So how bad is the theft of books? Or the loss of books for that matter? Looking at my lost book fines, I must admit that if the library was willing to let me just replace the books, I could do it cheaper than what they have fined me.

Could it be that the library system is more sacred than pension funds and human life? Based on my library fines and the sentence of Pilaar, I would have to say that someone thinks so.

(Ok, I will admit that as a writer and a book collector [occult books] that some part of me might believe that. But I realize that is not how I am supposed to think.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cats going to the vet today





Two cats are going to the vet today. One is getting fixed, and both are being tested for FL (hopefully they do not have it---if they do: they will have to be put to sleep). Both are sweet boys that were abandoned.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

RIP Charlie

To add to the troubles of this week, on Thursday, we had to take one of the cats to the vet. Charlie had gotten injuried in a cat fight and the wound was not healing. Given the fact that she was eighteen years plus in age, we decided that putting her to sleep was more merciful than attempting mutliple operations and trying to keep the other cats away from her. I ended up crying a lot; after all, she was one of my cats and I had her for eighteen plus years. RIP Charlie.


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Computer Crash of June 2009

Yesterday was the only day this month that I did not have my wife, or someone else, scheduled to interrupt my workday as a writer.

So what happens...

Yep, that is right. A computer crash. Some dll got corrupted and Windows would not start; I was forced to hit system recovery.

So an eight hour writing day, a bunch of free time, and I have finally got Windows back up to date; my anti-virus reinstalled; two of my web browsers back up and MSN messenger.

I have yet to get the printer driver installed. Nor have I set up a different user section for my wife (mainly because she needs different settings for her Spanish homework and iTunes). And I haven't even thought about trying to recover my own files.

So I am at least a couple of more days away from doing any more writing.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Letterman under fire by Palin

Today, I was reading the latest in the Letterman--Palin comedy fight. And again, I am reminded how certain politicans would like to see all comedians disappear. I swore that she was still running for political office based on her reaction.

I think that Letterman made an honest mistake. And I think that he was sincere in his apology.

But to hear Palin tell it, you would swore that he was encouraging people to do bad things. Let me buy you a hint: bad people do not need encouragement to do bad things; they are going to do them anyways, no matter what you say, good or bad.

I think this is more about Letterman being a part of the hidden media (late night talk show hosts as the source of so many people's news) than it is about anything else. Palin was never good around the media, and she hates being made fun of. Just one more reason for her not to ever run for a national office if you ask me.

Imagine Sarah Palin in the White House in 2012: Letterman will be taken outside and shot.

Opps, maybe I shouldn't say things like that; it might encourage bad people.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Joined Bukisa

Now that I am done with the Open Full Moon ritual, I finally had time to do a couple of things that I have been putting off.

I checked my grades: two As (Shakespeare; History: Theory and Practice), one A- (Literature: Cather Willa) and one B+ (Rome: City and Empire). I am going to have to go online later and see if I can figure out what is up with my aid for the fall semester.

On the writing end, I am working on three book reviews.

And I finally got around to joining Bukisa. An online writer friend told me about the site a couple of months ago, but I just did not have time to go look at it until today.

Bukisa is another site that you can post articles to and earn income from. It reminds me of Associated Content except that you can earn referral income from Bukisa, a whole three levels worth. There are no upfront payments, but the rate for thousand unique pageviews is higher than Associated Content. The payout threshold is ten dollars, payable though Paypal (net plus 30). The site is open to non-US residents.

Bukisa may be worth the time for an online writer to check out. One knows that those who are good at getting referrals are going to flock to it, simply because they will do better there than on Helium and Associated Content.

Monday, April 27, 2009

I wished I would have wrote this

There are times, both as a college student and as a freelance writer, that I read something and say "Gee, I wished that I would have wrote that; it is so much better than what I wrote." Today, over at Helium, I had one of those moments.

The other day, I wrote a review of a gaming suppliment that I had stumbled over: The Book of Erotic Fantasy. I suggested the title to Helium and it was approved. It is one of those titles that you hope becomes competitive, just so you can read the comments that others are making.

And this morning, I discovered that someone else had looked at the book and commented on it: Carrie Schutrick.

I am green with envy. I really wished that my review of this gaming suppliment was as good as hers. She said everything I wanted to, and some stuff I should have.

Here is the link to her review of The Book of Erotic Fantasy. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Short Story Link: Voodoo Economics

Voodoo Economics (The Lodestone Mine Incident)

Before you take money away from someone, you should ask yourself what they did to earn it. You may also want to ask yourself what are they likely to do when they get upset. Congressman Kelley forgot to ask both of these questions.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Are fair book reviews possible?

While I was working on my latest book review, I found myself wondering if it was even possible to do a fair and unbiased book review.

It might have been the fact that I could hear a voice in the back of my head saying "If you can not say anything nice, then do not say anything at all." I am not sure what one of my relatives said that, but I am sure that the voice is one from my childhood.

And with this particular book, it was natural to hear it.

The reason I considered writing a review for the book is simply the fact that the author rants and raves about a couple of bad book reviews that he recieved when the book came out; as in he gives links to the bad reviews...the freelance writer in me goes if I write a bad book review, will he give me free advertising too?

Probably not: my book review ended being a lot more favorable than I expected it to be. I actually found some merit in his book. Sigh. I am going to have to do my own advertising.

(My regular readers know how sad that makes me; I have never been really good at advertising.)

But over the years, I have done a lot of bad book reviews.

A few years ago, one writer that I know said that he would send a free copy of his book to legitimate book reviewers. What exactly is a legitimate book reviewer? I am betting it is one that you are sure is going to give you a favorable review.

Or at least it is if you do not know how books actually get sold. It is not the reviews that sell books, it is the word of mouth. Even a bad book review can sell books (calling something a train wreck makes people curious for some reason).

So it probably does not matter what my opinion of your book is, you just have to get people curious enourgh about it to sell copies.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Pirate Bay Trial

One of the news stories that I have been following recently is The Pirate Bay Trial.

I will admit that as a writer, I have mixed feelings about The Pirate Bay and peer to peer file sharing. On one hand, I do not like the thought that someone could rob me of potential income from my copyrights. On the other hand, there is a lot of junk published in the occult field that should not recieve the dignity of generating income for their creator.

Hopefully, I do not fall into that last category. But I probably do; remember I set the price of one of my works, the Three Officer Version of the Golden Dawn Neophyte Ritual, based on the fact that I figure that I would sell a single copy to a new budding lodge and then it would met a photocopier.

There is also the fact that many of the out-of-print books that I seek out end up going for hundreds of dollars on eBay. If they were really that special, the publishers would reprint them.

Now, I will admit using some torrents for video files. In my defense, I would like to point out that I could not find a copy of StarCops for anything close to a reasonable price.

There is also the fact that the fan generated content of Star Trek Phase II (formerly Star Trek New Voyages) is accessible though torrents. Of course, that is a non-profit operation, so they really don't care about peer to peer file sharing.

So maybe, I am a secret pirate supporter. Of course, this is like being a secret Regardie supporter. Some people understand it; other people will not.

Of course, the big argument behind the Pirate Bay trial is that the Pirate Bay is robbing movie, TV and music companies of income (I don't think that the publishing houses are terribly concerned with file sharing, but I could be wrong).

I am sorry, but the honest truth is that the companies are still not going to get the income even if they somehow manage to shut down all torrent sites. We will just have people doing this in other ways---"Bring your flash drives and I will give you a copy of the lastest season of Prison Break..."

We are living the opening days of a brand new business model (think of the days of rampant copying of other people work during the days of the early printing press). Newspapers, such as the Rocky Mountain News are going to fall due to losing classified ads to the internet, and mass media companies are going to have to figure out ways to sell their stuff on the internet despite the fact that the internet is as secure as an unguarded chicken in the same room as my cat.

Looking into my cracked crystal ball, I can make a prediction: twenty years from now, none of us will believe that the Pirate Bay was a real issue considering the new business model that we will end up with when media creators catch onto how to make money despite the internet file sharing capabilities.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Car Thief Transforms into a Goat

Here is a weird news story from Nigera. According to a newspaper in Nigera, two men tried to steal a car; and when the citizens chased them, one of them turned into a goat (the other man got away).

Reading this story, I must admit that I am amazed that anyone can believe this. But then again, we are talking Nigera where witches are still being hunted and killed.

I don't know any magician, witch or lunatic that can do it in the western world. Maybe we don't have strong enourgh magic to do such, or maybe I just have not encountered it.

The historian in me asks what type of drugs and toxins are in their food supply. Or is it just religion that makes them believe this.

Then again, in recent days, we saw a bad president try to turn himself into a good one; not that it worked, in my opinion.

Of course, one has to wonder if we don't have criminals who can do this in the western world. Makes one wonder what type of animals some of our disgraced politicians will turn themselves into.

The AP article that brought this weirdness up is:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090123/ap_on_fe_st/odd_goat_thief