Who I Am
My SCA Pages
Article and cartoon reprints, photographs, news clippings, and reminiscences.
Period Inks and Pigments Revisited, 12/11/2013
(follow-up article to Period Inks and Pigments from the Modern Kitchen)
GPG Public Key
A special request regarding the tip jar.
Licenses, batteries, inspection, registration, web hosting, and food, oh my.
7:30PM: More pain; giving up
Last chance to email me. Once I post this, I'll do a last set of checks, then hobble back to my bed, where I hope I can find a leg position that doesn't make me want to scream.
Found some old aspirin, but... it's old, and there's five tablets left.
(As promised, the NRA column. Moving from bed to computer hurts, so I'll stay here a while. Once I move from the computer, don't expect me back for a while. If you're sending email, do it now, please.)
It's once again time to wonder who the hell is the NRA?. And why?
Several years ago, I answered L. Neil Smith's question, "Am I the NRA?" My personal conclusion was pretty easy, since the NRA itself had in its never-ending quest for more money for LaPierre killed my membership (repeatedly,starting in 1994),expecting me to passively send them more money to jumpstart it again. But after trying to play their game a few times, I backed off and wondered if the NRA was worth supporting. It wasn't then, so I stopped trying to get the magazines I'd paid for.
Fast forward ten years to 2009: The NRA hadn't improved. I made the mistake of mentioning that in a comment on one of David Codrea's Examiner columns. I ran down a few of the reasons I still wasn't the NRA. Funny thing: Back then, not a single NRA koolaid drinker challenged even one of the examples I gave for not supporting the NRA; and yet, they did still insist that it was helping "gun rights".
So here we are in 2014. And the NRA weenie-eaters are still at it, telling the world that the National Republican Asslickers will save us from the evil gun grabbers. Even if they are a little vague on the "how" part.
Pain, pain, pain, pain....
Blew out my left knee this afternoon, while bringing in firewood. Had a large arm-load of wood and slipped/tripped/snagged/something my foot and went down. I could feel my leg twisting ways in which that hinge joint was never meant to go. Yes, it did hurt. A lot. Unfortunately, I was putting most of my effort into preventing that large arm-load of firewood coming down on my skull. Which was doubly a mistake, since my skull is demonstrably the
Also unfortunately, pain doesn't make winter temperatures turn into springy sorts. The wood stilll had to come in. A bit of a problem, since getting me back in was a contestable issue. But got me in, taped my knee (yes, duct tape; what did you expect?), found my cane (yes, a sword cane; what did you expect?), and went back to work.
This involved hobbling out to the wood pile, painfully bending over to pick up sticks, and throwing them towards the door. Lather, rinse, repeat, until wood reaches box.
I'll be posting a full column about the NRA in a few minutes. I was working on that when I foolishly thought bringing in some fuel would stave off hypothermia this evening. Hypothermia is looking pretty good right now.
Ow. Emergency contributions of analgesics welcome.
Oh, crap. The dryer stopped. I have to fold clothes and carry them upstairs now.
Added: Oh, frack me. Reports vary, but range as high as 17 inches. Not only do I have to hope my knee lets me bring in enough wood that I don't have to bring in more through a foot-plus of snow, I'll have to try running a shovel and snowblower.
Day by Day; read the rest
Just in case you aren't familar with the context...
Who would ever fall for a line of crap like that?
Derek Lowe comments on the spate of Sci-Gen produced gobbledy-gook papers that have been getting accepted by outfits that should know better.
We Are Pleased To Publish Your Senseless Ravings Email This EntryFact is... it isn't just academic publications that fall for sheer crap. No... the real fact is that some industries select for crap. I should know.
As I've probably mentioned once or twice over the years [eyes roll, grin], I've done some science fiction writing. Not great SF, but SF. Some people professed to like it.
Sadly for me, that class of folks who lied it didn't include any reputable publishing houses. For some value of "reputable," as we shall see.
I submitted manuscripts to various publishers and agents. I stopped with the agents after the closest thing to a sane response I got from them was a reject notice for someone else's Mossad-saves-the-world-from-Cthulhuoid-alien-shapeshifting-telepaths masterpiece. I've sometimes wondered if that author got swapped my rejection, or if that big name agent simply shifted the inserts by one envelope some everyone got the wrong stuff.
But I digress. Publishing house were less responsive. As in: no response. At all. Not even my enclosed SASEs coming back empty. No emails. I rewrote the books and kept trying. I never got a response.
Fast forward: I gave up on being published and ever making any money. My books are here for free download (and hopefully an occasional tip jar donation). But I couldn't help noticing the sort of crap that was getting published. There's a thematic nay, lurid trend. And I wondered. And decided to try something.
Now, I still didn't expect to get published. This was just a test of the screening process. I opened up Bargaining Position and did some more rewrites. Stados became very much darker. Casso was not a nice person. I added about ten thousand words to the story. And I retitled it.
"Undead Alien Space Invader In the Trojan Machine". Really. I had it all. Undead/zombies. Alien reference. AvsP reference. Dumbass literary reference... Luridness. I included lurid cover art. Crappy cover art (I may have spent 20 minutes on it).
Note that I dusted off one of my old pen names. I set up a new contact address for it, in case they had "Carl Bussjaeger" on file. And I sent it off to Baen Books.
Who replied for the first time ever, mind you almost at once (by publisher standards- a few weeks). True, they didn't accept it (their loss, since even as is, it's better than a hell of a lot better than most of what they are printing for the past few years). But they reviewed it and responded. Something they had never, ever done before with some six or seven other manuscripts.
I took this a little farther. This was before Amazon booted me off their system, so I published UDASIITTM as a Kindle ebook. It moved faster than all my other books. Combined.
You wanna-be SF writers, learn the lesson. This is what Baen (and presumably other houses) and your hoped-for readers want to see.
So... No, I'm not surprised by anything that gets past publishers these days.
Keurig: Unsafe at any temperature?
In the peculiar universe inhabited by yuppies, hipsters, and other trendoid androids, news of the plans of by-the-cup coffee maker Keurig have eclipsed minor matters like revolution and invasion in the Ukraine, or even rebellion closer to home in Connecticut. Yes, people who buy over-priced single-serving coffeemakers to brew single cups of coffee using over-priced,"untouched by human hands" single-serve plastic pods of pulverized plant products are angry that Keurig "updating their system so that only Keurig coffee pods will work in Keurig coffee pots. Ink jet printer owners are familiar with this system of a little coded electronic ID tag expensively embedded in each disposable pack of grounds.*
While everyone including K's CEO knows this is being done for the same reason printer manufacturers did it (to lock in customers to their own hugely profitable line of crap), someone forgot to tell the marketing weasels. Those idiots claim... um.. well... in their own words:
Interactive coffee? First thing in the morning, the only interactive effect I want from my brew is a caffeine rush. Anything more
Folks, release the litiginous hounds of war. Keurig has just admitted to a "critical", previously undisclosed, safety defect in their product. No recalls. No restitution for damaged users. No responsibility.
Sue the [$@#(%] out of them.
Disclosure: I have used Green Mountain/Keurig K-cup coffee. Once just to see what the fuss was all about, and then in a workplace where the freaking idiots in mmanage got the idea in the pointy heads that OSHA rules forbade any other coffee makers in the building. Seriously. It was FairPoint. I suspect it was a contributing factor in their bankruptcy.
* You know, that isn't very "green". All that waste packaging. Inefficiently and repeatedly cycling the brewer for single cups all day. The toxic byproducts of manufacturing those electronic tags... Somebody call Greenpeace.
You know... it's just possible people aren't taking the courts seriously anymore
"After all, where would we be without the knowledge that Democrats are pinko-communist flag-burners who want to tax churches and use the money to fund abortions sothey can use the fetal stem cells to create pot-smoking lesbian ATF agents who will steal all the guns and invite the UN to take over America? "Can't imagine why people would be reacting that way. It isn't as if the legal system is a [sick] joke... oh... Wait.
(Hat tip to Radley Balko.)
Bitcoin = goldbuggery?
How to put this...
Goldbugs want a currency backed by a desirable, physical commodity* (or better yet, a pocketful of clinking metal) as opposed to a fiat currency backed by the wishful thinking of and for a government. In theory, this is a stabilizing influence that prevents inflationary manipulation of the money supply. (Yes, that's simplified. This is a semi-blog, not an economics textbook. Although it is more accurate and precise that most crap written by Keynesians.)
Bitcoin is another make-believe currency backed by wishful thinking instead of a tangible commodity, a la Fed Reserve Notes. Its value is that people are willing to accept it; exactly the same worth of the U$FRN. Bitcoin cheerleaders believe that their crowd-sourced, voluntary "fiat" currency is better than the state-issued-and-manipulated sort because it's subject only to market forces, not.... state manipulation, and is "limited" in the total number of bitcoins that can exist. YMMV.
Bitcoin is about as far from "goldbuggery" as one can get without advocating Monopoly money as a reasonable replacement for the US dollar.
* "Goldbug" is a misnomer, naturally, since reasonable people recognize that many tangible commodities can serve to back a currency. "Currency" would essentially be a warehouse receipt for anything people value and are willing to barter: oil, rare earth elements, tritium, real estate... OK, I said this wasn't an economic text. Move along.
It's probably just as well that I don't have a cat now...
...since I can't afford the Pop Rocks anyway.
Mob Wife Suing Rockstar Over Supposed Likeness In GTA5I've long been fascinated by the willingness of people to identify with unsavory, unsympathetic, fictional characters. Why would Gravano want people to think that's her? (Aside from the money that she isn't going to get anyway, that is.)
Oddly enough, as I coincidentally was recently reminded, I've had my own run-ins with folks who think I'm writing about them. A woman was apparently convinced that one of my characters was her. But she never said which one, leaving me to hope it wasn’t the the pissed off lady with the .357 Magnum and a box of explosives.*
At least she didn't sue me.**
* "Point of Honor", which those interested can find in The Anarchy Belt.
** For the record, I'm pretty sure that I never used that woman as a character at all, in any story.
Book envy and publishing
Because I've written a few books, I'm semi-often asked to comment on something in the publishing world. Claire Wolfe noted an astonishingly stupid screed at HuffPo; I haven't been asked yet, but I'll get a head start on it.
If JK Rowling Cares About Writing, She Should Stop Doing It
Universal HuffPo Translation: -whine-whine-whine- I'm not good enough. Stop making me look bad. It's all your fault I write for shit. -whine-whine-whine-
I could fisk it out for you, but Correia did that already. I'll just note that: I suppose that my books might’ve sold if I could have just eliminated everyone better than me.
But then… what the hell would I read?
From what I can tell about Ms. Shepherd's books, she'd have to engage in Stalin-scale extermination to clear enough field for her books. True, I haven't actually read her novels. I did a little research, hoping to find excerpts, but nothing I found could induce me to read further. Her descriptions put me off.
As is usual on the Internet, this led to other comments, which in turn led to... Well, this; a collection of links and observations on the traditional mainstream publishing houses. And why they're doomed. Sadly, I can confirm some of that, at least in the SF market.
Publishing houses served a useful purpose and added value to manuscripts. At one time, when affordable access to printing presses simply did not exist, the houses got authors to the presses. The houses added value in the form of proofreading, copy editing, and formatting for readability. Publishing houses were also positioned to publicize works.
These days, if you decide to self-publish on Amazon, either in dead tree or Kindle format, you'll need to proofread and edit your own book (which can be tough for many authors since our brains know what's supposed to be there and tend to "see" just that past the errors actually on the page). You'll need to format it, right down to making sure linespacing and margins are correct for the book size you chose. You'll be converting all that to a file format acceptable to the printing system.
Gee, sounds almost like vanity press, except you aren't paying for the dubious privilege of doing all that work for the publisher. Right?
In fact, that sounds a lot like submitting a manuscript to a modern mainstream publishing house. Unless you're an A-lister routinely hitting the NYT bestseller list, you'll be doing all that work for the publisher. Publicity? Expect to line up your own signings. Send notices to newspapers. Start a blog. Because unless you're an A-lister routinely hitting the NYT bestseller list publicity from the publisher will consist of an entry in one or two trade mags, and a catalog listing for the booksellers.
But they'll send your completed and formatted manuscript to the printer, just... like... you... would send it to Amazon... and Amazon will put it in their online listings just... like...
No wonder self-publishing is catching on, now that affordable print services exist.
True, publishing houses provided useful filtering, keeping unreadable crap from being published (it took me a long time to admit that my own books fell into that category). But... they also filtered out excellent works like L. Neil Smith's, which weren't politically acceptable to the editor. Take a close look at mainstream SF: 99% is either Star Drek socialist utopias or fascist the-state-will-protect-you (military SF is the blatant offender here, but look closely at some of the other big gov apologists).
Sel-publishing eliminates both filters. A lot of crap (like mine) will get through. Discriminating readers will simply have to be discriminating. It'll be (and already is) worth it for the expansion of works that the houses blocked because they got some neurotic editor's panties in a wad. (I was hit with a double jinx; my books were crap, and they pissed off state-worshipping editors. Or so I was told, and some of my own observations tended to confirm it.)
Shepherd's books are apparently dreary PC fluff that made it past the filters, but simpy can'y compete for house editorial resources with the likes of Rowling. Maybe she should try her hand at self-publishing, where she can finally learn that her real problem is discriminating readers.
Red Dots: NH HB 1264 Background checks are back... already
I knew it would happen, but I'd hoped that they'd at least wait until the month was over.
Hoped. Not "expected".
Background checks for gun buyers to be studiedRead that carefully. The SOBs replaced the entire language of HB 1264, which would have extended carry reciprocity to residents of states that recognize the Second Amendment, to turn it into a stacked commission to rationalize more victim disarmament.
Stacked? The commission would consist of three House reps selected by the rabidly anti-gun Democrat House Speaker, one member of a gun control group selected by the anti-gun rights Dem governor one retail business owner (with a vested interest in charging noncustomers for his mandatory services) selected by the same governor, one member from the anti-gun (are you seeing a trend here yet?) National Alliance for Mental Illness, one member from the notoriously anti-rights New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police (they previously backed a bill to allow police chiefs to unilaterally declare anyone terrrorist without anything resembling due process), and one member from the anti-gun (is this a trend yet?) Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.
On the pro-human/civil rights side, we'd get one senator appointed by the Republican Senate President, and one person from Gun Owners of New Hampshire. Lest you think that last one is any guarantee of a voice for gun owners, please recall that GONH is the state affiliate of the very same NRA that torpedoed constitutional carry a couple of years back. GONH is the same group that's having trouble getting their Minute Man Alerts out to life members on things like HB 1589 (my landlord has to rely on notices from Pro-Gun New Hampshire, which I think he finds extremely annoying).
With our luck, anti-liberty threat-maker Andy Sanborn* will be the selected senator.
Basically, I don't see anyone there that I can truly rely upon to represent my views.
So contact your House reps (if you still don't know who yours is, look it up and keep a record) and demand that the amended HB 1264 establishing the victim disarming commission be killed. Tactfully or not; like me, you may be getting tired of this red dot chasing point out that they're up for reelection this year. (That's not much of a carrot/stick for me, since "my" House reps are so bad that I've already established they have to go.)
* In fairness to Sanborn, when I saw the reports of the threat and yes, I do consider what he said to be a threat I tried to contact Sanborn get his his version of events, to be sure the reports I saw were accurate. He declined to answer me, but made further statements to the lamestream press that confirmed the allegations and reinforced the unfavorable impression.
And we let the dot-gov do long range economic forecasts and planning?
The Official Forecast of the U.S. Government Never Saw This Winter Coming
On the other hand, pretty much everyone else predicted:
It's not a drought. It's climate. You live in a freaking desert.
Buy some stillsuits and STFU.
The universe hates me.
Really. That's not paranoia; that's fact. I've seen paranoia and this ain't it.
I knew this year would be trouble. Aside from the usual outlay for web hosting, vehicle inspection, and registration, this is also the year my driver license expires. There goes another fifty bucks. But downloads of my books have picked up quite a bit (it's a slow month if the book downloads alone are under 500, let alone the other articles), so I was hoping to see a corresponding uptick in the ol' tip jar. Note: Hoping; not expecting. My hopes have dashed, but expections fufilled. Damn it.
So of course, my truck battery is crapping out (sound familiar, Joel?). Won't hold a charge.
And I need more minutes on my Tracfone, lest it expire and shut down. Minutes cards would be great.
So if you know of anyone who downloaded Net Assets, Bargaining Position, or any other books and articles, yet somehow resisted the compulsion to do the right thing, please pick up a 2X4 and encourage them.
Those who have donated... I get to feeling very guilty about repeat donors, so consider our moral accounts to be balanced. Except those to whom I'm frankly indebted already. I'll see what I can do.
Added, 2/16/14: That was interesting
Thursday night, my Internet connection suddenly bogged down. We're talking sub-dialup data rates... on what's supposed to be decent DSL. This has happened before; it's generally just a matter of power cycling the DSL modem.
Not this time. So I started going into the diagnostics looking for line problems. Huh. Looked good. Modem insisted it was getting acceptable S/N margin, transmit levels, etc... yadda... and so forth. And I realized my landlord wasn't screaming about the rate.
Not good. Could it be my computer? That would suck. I had discounted the possibility because 1) up to now it had always been the DSL, and 2) my computer was reporting good Ethernet status. Time for full diagnostics. Ethernet looked good. Driver... check. Enable/Disable... power cycle... loopback tests... the works. My computer insisted it was fine. So I
But wait! I have a second computer sitting around. Hooked it up, went online... Zoom! Excellent (for my DSL) speeds. OK, my other computer is hosed. Time to get this beast loaded up to do my usual work..
This is a Dell I bought several years ago, when I actually had money. While it was far from top of the line even then, hardware-wise it's actually a lot better than the little netbook I've been relying upon. There's a reason I nonetheless stuck with the netbook.
Windows Vista. My netbook ran XP. I was used to it. It did what I want, when I want (until Ethernet crapped out). Vista is an abomination that shouldn't have ever been inflicted on the world. I installed Ubuntu (dual boot); for some of what I did, that was acceptable (for one thing, I've been shifting apps over to things like GIMP and LibreOffice which have Win and Linux versions). But not everything. Some of what I do is with Win apps that I'm very used to, and that I haven't found Linux versions that are quite right. Plus, Ubuntu will not recognize my acoustic modem (yeah, this goes back to when I was still limited to dialup only), and it has reliability issues with the Dell's Ethernet adapter. Weird.
But Vista works with all that, so I bit the bullet and migrated over. I even got around to deleting the Ubuntu partitions and the dual boot (don't do that at home kids, unless you know what you're doing, in which case it's actually pretty quick and easy). The other problem is the keyboard; expect typos (more than usual, especially with 's' and 'c') while I get used to it.
On the bright side, I lost zero data. I am a greater believer in, and practioner of, backup. It paid off. Again.
-sigh- The universe really does hate me. Everything hits all at once.
In short, if you like what you see, I'd appreciate it very much if you would consider dropping a little something in my Tip Jar. It's the only money I'll ever get out of all that work. It would be great if I could get enough to keep me in beans and rice. If nothing else, remember that it costs me money to maintain this site and provide the bandwidth for the free (to you) downloads.
By special request, I can also provide these in other formats (Kindle, EPUB, etc.)