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Friday, December 30, 2011

The Economics of Ebooks

I'm a noted skeptic of the ebook revolution, but I have to say that since I joined it with my Kindle Fire, I'm a dedicated convert. I still wish ebook prices were a bit lower...but I think that will eventually normal out. As a lover of books, I hope it will, at any rate.

Example. Richard Stark's Parker novels. They're all available in ebook format. Until a couple years ago (when they were reprinted in nice trade editions), the Parker novels were hard to find, especially the older ones. Now they can all be had at the click of a button. But the pricing is weird.

The Kindle edition of the first book in the series, The Hunter, is $2.66, spare change really. It's slightly more than bus fare, but cheaper than a latte.

But I'm an obsessive. I don't just want The Hunter. I want all of them. The Man With the Getaway Face. The Score. The Mourner. They're all $2.66? Bam, bam, and bam. But wait, The Sour Lemon Score is $9.99?

At that price, I don't even have to think of it. It goes directly on my "Might Buy Someday But Not Really Gonna Sweat It If I Never Do" list. At $2.66, it goes on my "Add to Cart" list and money then flies out of my wallet and into someone else's.

Besides, perusing the Kindle store quickly disabused me of the notion that I might download some books I already have (and I have a lot of books). Every single Tony Hillerman book is $9.99, which is ridiculous. The guy is dead now and I'm pretty sure everything he's written has made it to paperback, little mass market paperbacks that cost $7.99 retail. And not only that, but they printed so many Tony Hillerman books over the years that in nearly any stack of used books for sale anywhere, chances are good that it will contain a Hillerman.

Even if I had Mitt Romney money, I'm not sure I would be willing to drop $9.99 for an ebook version of a book I already have on the shelf. That just seems...well, dumb.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Okay...Now I'm Just Piling On

I found this account of Ron Paul eating breakfast alone in Des Moines:
Asked if he's concerned that if he doesn't win his followers will not rally behind the GOP nominee, he looks up from his plate of cantaloupe, honeydew, eggs, sausage and biscuit and says brusquely, "Right now, the only thing that bothers me is people who don't respect my privacy enough to leave me alone for five minutes when I'm eating breakfast." And then he goes back to reading his USA Today.
Very presidential...
A few minutes later, he tries to get the waitress's attention and fails. Oh bother, he shrugs. And that's exactly why the people who love the Texas congressman/tea party icon/libertarian standard-bearer love him so intensely. He's just a cranky old man who wants to eat his eggs in peace before he sets out to save the world.
Save the world? He can't even get the waitress's attention!

Duped

Not to pile on...but Andrew Sullivan is being a dumbass.

His "Quote of the Day:"
I voted for Obama in 2008 but we need a change. Dr Paul is consistent and honest, which is very hard to find. He is not just telling us what we have heard before."
Honest???? Fucking honest??

Paul still hasn't admitted who wrote his racist/homophobic newsletters and worse, continues to maintain that someone else wrote it. Those incendiary fundraising letters signed Ron Paul? "I didn't do it."

Honest?

Does an honest man do something like this?

Honest?

Look, there are a lot of words I would use to describe Ron Paul. Honest is not one of them.

More Ron Paul Nonsense

Sometimes I wonder about Andrew Sullivan. He got bit by the Ron Paul bug hard, which is weird. He was an Obama supporter until he started buying the hype.

Take this:
The mindset that the world is our plaything remains entrenched. Only Paul has moved beyond that. If you ask me, that's the core of his appeal to the young.
I submit that the "core of [Paul's] appeal to the young is ignorance.

Exhibit A.

I love it...
"I have never heard that he's a racist?"
That's because, my dear, you haven't been paying attention. Not really. You're hearing the stuff about bringing the troops home and reducing the size of the government, but you're totally ignoring that he wants to take us back to the gold standard, doesn't believe in the Civil Rights Act, and --oh yeah-- spent the 90s publishing newsletters with racist and homophobic conspiracy theories.

Sadly, I can forgive Kelly Clarkson. She's just a singer. Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, should know better...

Note to Self

Pick up a Nene jersey.

Through a quirk of scheduling, I managed to catch both of the Nuggets's regular season games, beating the Mavs a few days ago and beating the Jazz in the home opener last night.

Impressive, very impressive. Lots of passing and alley oops, steals and rebounds. Who needs a big shot when you have a team?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Die Hard and Professionalism

You can't say Die Hard is a bad film because it spawned a catalog of lesser imitations, some of them with Die Hard in the title even. It holds up to this day. Part of that is due to Bruce Willis's performance, some to the humor, Alan Rickman made an impression, too, didn't he?

But I think what holds it all together is the subtext. Even though you think you're watching just another action movie with big explosions and gunshots, it contains multitudes. Yes, we know it talks about greed and heart, but it's also a hefty meditation on professionalism.

The terrorists, who aren't terrorists at all, take the Nakatomi plaza with a professional efficiency. They are not like this crew at all.

They have a plan, man. Not only are they going to break into a company's headquarters, they're going to break into the vault, stage it as a terrorist attack, then escape in an ambulance as the building blows up and destroys all the evidence.

And it would have worked, too...

Consider how they storm the building. They know every twist and turn, the exact route to the phone closet, exactly which wires to cut. They've done their homework. Their computer guy, Theo, knows their computer system, if only Takagi had given him the code key. But since he didn't, Theo's going to drill into the vault, and hey, if you need him to monitor the security cameras when the SWAT team comes in, he can do that too. He's a pro.

And when the SWAT team comes in, watch how they set-up the missile launcher. Pros!

Karl, using hand signals to coordinate trapping McClane on the roof? A pro!

John McClane? He's just an off-duty cop, barefoot even. But a pro.

Al Powell? Pro.

The prick journalist? A slimeball, but a pro.

The unfortunate FBI guys? You can tell they're pros from the way he turns his hat backwards on the helicopter. After all, one of them says, "Just like fucking Saigon." In 1988. A pro.

The captain who gets buttfucked on national TV? Okay, so he's a schmoe...

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Just wrapped up my Christmas shopping...so I'd like to wish anyone who sees this a Merry Fucking Christmas.

Yes, I'll be watching Die Hard again this year. Best Christmas movie ever!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Thoughts on Ron Paul

I'm starting to get bummed out by all the people who have fallen in love with Ron Paul. The diehards who have loved him all these years, I can understand. But some of these others, man, I don't know...

"I don't care if he's racist," they say, "I like his foreign policy. He wants to the end the wars. He's for peace!"

Hey, so am I and the only wars I like I can view safely on TV and preferably, it's a Hollywood production. But I ain't no pacifist.

I'm sorry about all the civilians killed in drone attacks, too, but I'm pretty sure that most of the time, it's a mistake. A mistake caused by the machinery of war, no doubt, collateral damage of the worst sort, and never something to take lightly. But consider how wars used to be fought. Not just in the 20th Century when technology allowed innumerable horrors, but back in the sticks and stones days.

If a civilian was killed, it most certainly was by design. Oops, didn't mean to slaughter that village and burn their huts. Sorry, I was looking for this other guy...

What we did in Iraq was a travesty. How we got into the war, how it was fought, what it resulted in, the whole thing. I endorse none of it, and I'm glad we're out. Afghanistan is a little more complicated. Invading might not have been a good idea. Sticking around for so long, even less. But at least we had a reason...

And that brings me to Osama. And his buddy, what's his face, the American. (Al-awaki.) Even Gaddafi and the airstrikes in Libya. The drones in Pakistan? Same thing.

Ron Paul wants none of that. He wants us to aw shucks it home, not because the job is done, but because he believes on principle that the job shouldn't be done. Ever.

Forget current circumstances. He's standing on principle. Nazis invade Poland? Not my problem. Soviets put nukes in Cuba? Not my problem. Iranians torch the embassy and take hostages? Not my problem. That might have worked in Vietnam and Iraq, but for every circumstance that may befall us?

"Not my problem" ain't gonna do it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Just Saying

Hey, I get it. Some people are better than others at troubleshooting. It's a scientific, logical process, often a process of elimination.

One sentence you never want to utter while troubleshooting is "Well, everything looks alright."

Because the follow-up question at that point is, "Is it working?"

"No."

"Then despite all appearances, everything is not alright!"

Imagine, you call a plumber to find out why your toilet won't flush. He says with a shrug, "Well, everything looks alright."

You go to the doctor because you're coughing up blood and you have this lump on your lymph nodes. He says, "Well, everything looks alright."

Your car won't start, so you take it to the mechanic. "Well, everything looks alright."

An unsatisfactory answer? To say the least.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

What I've Been Reading Lately

The Hunter, by Richard Stark (a pen name of Donald E. Westlake) featuring his legendary anti-hero, Parker.

Here he is, interrogating a goon:
Stegman licked his lips. He turned his head and nodded at the small stone buildings out at the end of the pier. "There's people there," he said. "All I got to do is holler."

"You'd never get it out. Take a deep breath and you're dead. Open your mouth wide and you're dead."

Stegman looked back at him. "I don't see no gun," he said. "I don't see no weapon."

Parker held up his hands. "You see two of them," he said. "They're all I need."
This book is the first in a long line of Parker novels and it also provided the basis for the Mel Gibson flick, Payback.

Only in the movie they called him Porter for some reason.

Justice

This made me laugh:
Anti-tax advocate Douglas Bruce has been found guilty of tax evasion.
At least he's got the courage of his convictions.

He's facing 12 years in the slammer, a dubious end to a dubious guy.

I Heart America

Context here.
A Navy tradition caught up with the repeal of the U.S. military's "don't ask, don't tell" rule on Wednesday when two women sailors became the first to share the coveted "first kiss" on the pier after one of them returned from 80 days at sea.
I hope this photo makes John Boehner cry...

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Kill Her

If it wasn't for my nephew, I would have never heard of Hopsin. He played this video for me, and I don't know...

Sound-wise, it's alright. The beats are dark and menacing and he does have flow, but...

Like most hip-hop, the lyrics are stupid. Oh, they're clever in places, but in the end this song is about how he wants to kill the head of his record company for not promoting his record.

A murder fantasy...about the lack of a marketing plan.

Turn that around in your mind a little bit. First of all, who cares? Bitch about your record deal if you want, but do you have to do it on your record? Just gimme some music, man.

Secondly, who would want to do business with a guy like this? A deal doesn't work out, happens all the time. The professional response is to shake hands and move on. The immature response is "Bitch, how come it flopped?" (Which is actually a line from the song.)

How come it flopped? I shall quote Kanye West:
That's why we hear your music hitting fast fo'
Cuz we don't wanna hear that weak shit no mo'

Monday, December 19, 2011

What I've Been Reading Lately

Dead in the West, by Joe R. Lansdale, for this sumptuous goofiness:
Zombies began to push their way through the windows all around the church.

The Reverend lifted his shotgun to his shoulder. "Hallowed by thy name, oh Lord -- and shotgun do your stuff."

The Reverend blew the head off one of the zombies who was writhing through. The decapitated creature slide backwards out he window and out of view. And the siege began.
It's a "zombie western," perhaps the first of its kind. Thou shalt not take it seriously.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Announcement

I was wrong. Smoke is, indeed, a boy. I just hope all these months of calling him a pretty little girl doesn't give him gender confusion.
Medical confirmation later as I take both kitties to get snipped later this morning.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Ouch

Gregg Rosenthal of NBC Sports is pithy:
Asked for his thoughts on Tebow after the game, Brian Urlacher was succinct.

“He’s a good running back, man. He runs the ball well,” Urlacher said.

The Bears mostly kept Tebow’s running in check; he had 49 rushing yards. It was Tebow’s 18 completions in the fourth quarter and overtime that really hurt Chicago.

Not bad for a running back.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Lindsey Let Down

When word of Lindsey Lohan's Playboy shoot hit, my reaction was similar to what other insensitive straight males thought: Finally.

I let my subscription lapse and haven't really missed it too much. Truth be told, I read the interviews and the advice column, but not much else. I hate flipping to page 134 for the rest of the story. Sometimes they'd have perfume ads and smell funny. The pictorials are tame and obviously over-processed, the print job half-assed. (They joke about Playboy pages sticking together. I can assure you, it's because they use too much ink on cheap ass paper more than any purported dick glue alleged to drip on its pages.)

But I was going to buy the Lindsey issue. Until the pictures leaked.

First, I thought they said she'd go full-frontal.

Second, ewwww.

Keanu Reeves - Gentleman

I don't think I'd post this were it not for the fact that Keanu Reeves gives up his seat on the train to a lady.

Yes, he's taking the subway. By himself. And then he offers his seat to a fairly unattractive lady for no good reason other than to be nice.

Now that's one cool dude.

The Internet Rules

Rick Perry produces a lame ad hyping his Christiness and dogging on gays and liberals. Parodies across the globe spontaneously erupt.


Here's the original, which I include for documentary purposes. (Almost didn't post it because I don't want to give Perry free adspace, but let's face it...Rick Perry ain't going anywhere but back to Austin and this dumb ad should dog him for the rest of his days, regardless.)

Friday, December 09, 2011

Kitties!

They don't try too hard.
They do cute stuff like this all on their own. I don't even have to tell them.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Newt

The Republican nomination process has been, for someone outside the bubble and opposed to the agenda, quite humorous to watch. The flameout of Donald Trump was the first embarrassment. Then came Bachmann, Perry, Cain, and now Newt?

Conor Friedersdorf is as confused about Newt's resurgence as I am. He asks:
Are they [Republican primary voters] ignorant of the true Gingrich, perhaps due to the propagandistic media universe they inhabit? Or are they in fact not all that committed to authentic conservatism?
Can't it be both?

The "propagandist media universe" is most definitely a problem, in that it relies on misinforming people, but it doesn't explain the Newtmentum. With very little tilting, the propagandists can be used to crush Newt in favor of Romney just as easily as they can be used to elevate Newt over Romney. (Of course, it goes without saying that the propagandist right-wing media universe circa 2011 makes it impossible for any reasonable candidate to get traction on the right. Things are so bad that the clowns make fringey characters like Ron Paul sound near-reasonable.)

The second question, I think, is the most salient. Are modern Republicans committed to "authentic conservatism?" Not really. This is why they're so desperate to kick out a fairly moderate president so they can install a whacko.

Update: It's occurred to me several times over the last few years that if conservatives, true conservatives, want to implement a conservative agenda in this imperfect democracy of ours, they are better served by voting for conservative Democrats. Yes, they may be Democrats, but they at least have the benefit of not being crazy.

Friday, December 02, 2011

New Features

I was bragging about this feature on my Kindle that tells you how much of a book you've read, how precise the measurements are. "I read 38% of this one," I said.

And I'm reading, can't put the thing down, 39%, 40%, 45%, 50%, halfway there! And then "Appendix." Sure, there's a couple of them, then the index, then the bibliography. Half the book is sources.

Good book, sure, but damn thing said 50% and here I read the whole thing.

The Ride

I've been flirting with the idea of taking the train on Fridays and Mondays. It's the only days I have to tangle with traffic, and I hate traffic. It huwts my feewings. It huwts my feewings very bad.

Besides, the train has its benefits. I can sit back and enjoy the ride, as I did today by watching Justified on my Kindle Fire. I got a little car sick, it's true, but it passed the time.

And then there's the walk, which I did listening to James Elroy's The Cold Six Thousand. (Damn you, Elroy!) It was cold as hell, but I was bundled up. I kind of miss those walks. It's about a mile and the parking lots are the only terrain that's flat. All in all, it's not a bad hike, hiking through the canyons of Corporatesville.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stuff

Here's Stephen King being interviewed by Errol Morris. Read the whole thing, but this part caught my eye:
I grew up in a Republican household, though my mother cried her eyes out when Kennedy got shot. Little John-John salutes the casket when it goes by. You couldn’t help it, whether you were Republican or Democrat. I don’t know what would happen now, but I do know one of the reasons to write the book was because there’s so much hate in the air now, so much hate. A lot of it’s directed at Obama. I think I decided I wanted to write this book when Obama was giving the State of the Union speech and that guy shouted, “You lie!”
Speaking of right wing outbursts, the guys at OTB highlighted a particularly funny one. If you run your business like a joke rather than an enterprise designed to make money, that is.

A dude in Atlanta, who's going to be having a going-out-of-business-soon sign hanging next, posted this on all his trucks:
New Company Policy: We are not hiring until Obama is gone.
Brilliant business strategy.

Posting company policy on your trucks, for one, but seriously? The way things are looking, Obama's not going to be "gone" for a while and even when he is, he'll still be a shadow that haunts the history books. Too late for all that.

I'll repeat a part of my comment on OTB:
I suspect many successful right-wing businessmen would love to do something like this but won’t because it doesn’t make any business sense. It may make them feel good and express their 1st amendment rights, but it will limit their customer base and have negative implications for their bottom line.
If your business isn't politics, it's best just to keep calm and carry on. Don't let the Obama paranoia ruin your day.

Also, Herb got first place in the Caption Contest. The winning quip? "Pete Zah is a vegetable." Click to see the pic.

And now...Black Friday.

In some ways, today was a black Friday for me. It was dark when I got to work, and it was dark when I left. This is how my weekends will be for the foreseeable future. Friday through Monday, I'll get maybe 15 minutes of daylight and that's if I take all my smokebreaks. It's like I'll be living in Antarctica or something.

But all day at work we kept seeing footage of hon-gry crowds defiling Wal-Marts and Best Buys all across the country. And it's weird, weird! I remember when Black Friday was just a phenomenon. No one knew about it except for the bean counters, and even then it was no big deal. That was just the day they could start writing the figures in black ink. But then something happened, the marketers got a hold of it. It became this shopping event, limited time deals with cut rate prices on name brand electronics.

One talking head on CNN called the people going nuts at the stores "mentally unhinged." It may seem like that, but let's look at the environment they're put in. Get it while you can? Do these stores even know what that means?

Someday, maybe not this year or next year, but something really bad is going to happen, even more shocking than a lady macing her shopping "competition." These stores are going to feel the pinch. (Sorry, Target dude, but your petition is going nowhere. They don't care about a bunch of signatures, unless they're on checks endorsed to them.) Some jury is going to get punitive, and these stores might chill out.

I'm sure they'll still open early, have big sales on the junk they're trying to peddle, but I bet their marketing departments do it with a whisper and a kind word. Or not.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lulu

I'm a Metallica fan from way back, and even in the dark years, I've managed to find something I like about them. The Load and Re-Load period was embarrassing, yes, but those records do have some good music on them. I even grew to appreciate St. Anger.

But I'm not on board with their collaboration with Lou Reed, Lulu. It sucks. I couldn't even make it all the way through this song, and there's no way I'm picking up the record.

So it was with some smugness that I read this from Lars:
"We have read a lot of reviews. They were quite interesting, as people haven't focused on what the album really is."
And what is that exactly? An album for people who don't like music?

Unneccesary Verbs and Misused Prepositions

I haven't even had my Kindle for a fortnight and it's already proving to be inspirational.

I "purchased" a free story from this guy, and, hey, I like free things and I like stories, but...things didn't start off well. Second sentence:
"He was wearing a button-up shirt and jeans, way too hot of clothing for an Oklahoma July."
Woah, stop right there.

I don't like that "of." Not one bit. It's bad writing. Not because it eschews "proper usage" --a lot of good writing does that-- but because it's likely this guy doesn't even realize that he's not even writing a word.

He's writing a sound. In written form, the sound he's writing would look like this:
He was wearing a button-up shirt and jeans, way too hot've clothing for an Oklahoma July.
That's right, he's using the old non-standard contraction version of "have" in the way that many people use when actually speaking.

The most famous example of this is the coulda, woulda, shoulda. When you get a gift, you say "You shouldn't have." You don't say, "You shouldn't of," even though when it comes out of your mouth, that's what it sounds like.

And that's the mistake this writer made, confusing the sound with the word and not even realizing that in a written sentence, the word is unnecessary and nonsensical. Get rid of the contraction and the sentence reads like this:
"Way too hot have clothing for an Oklahoma July."
Say what?

I would "of" wrote this sentence to read like this:
"clothing way too hot for an Oklahoma July."
You lose nothing in this formulation except for the misused word.

Anyway, I didn't even make it to the third sentence. I thought, this dude needs an editor and went on to read something else.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

You Can't Sit There

Clearly, he had to do it.
That's an unnecessary mace...to the face.

Occupy Wall Street

Oh what a big man you are. Lemme buy you a pack of gum. I'll show you how to chew it.
Seriously, the images of police attacking these people are shocking.

There's no cause for this kind of treatment for a peaceful protest. And if this is the kind of treatment you're getting, there's no reason to be peaceful.

Early Adopter

Lookee what I got for my birthday.
A Kindle Fire!

I only got it yesterday, so I haven't had a chance to play with it too much, but I have not only joined the exciting world of tablet computing (snark) I can now read e-books. And yeah, I feel cool.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Man Up Already

I don't know a nice way of putting this, but John Boehner is a fucking embarrassment. And I don't say that because he's a Republican who supports policies I disagree with. Oh, no, it's not the policies. It's the tears.

On Wednesday, he honored Neil Armstrong with a Congressional Gold Medal...and another good cry. What the hell, man? He's the Speaker of the House and a grown man. And yet he can't give a speech without crying like a baby?

And I don't mean to question his manhood. Just his emotional maturity. Look at this photo.

Would you want to get a medal from this emotional wreck? Would you even want to stand next to this guy?

Tooting My Own Horn

I'm not a conservative, but I'm a big fan of Outside the Beltway, a right-of-center blog run by James Joyner and company. I comment a lot over there under my nom de guerre Herb, but I've never had a comment get such truck.
The full discussion can be found here.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oh Hell YES!

Here's Down rocking Sao Paulo.

I love this song.

This verse makes me want to smoke weed, and yet reminds me why I shouldn't:
Crumbling world falls through my hands
In my mouth tastes bitter sand
Grass is burning, pulse is slow
Drip by drip my backwards growth
And this verse is just awesome:

Wine, song, women, birth
This deflowered mother earth
Planting, plowing, how she grieves
The seed that grow these dying trees.

More Highway Talk....Noooooo!

Just as I can't read anything Sullivan says about God and take it seriously, I can't read anything about urban planning from Matt Yglesias and take him seriously. Yglesias, for some reason, has this hard-on for urban density (I think it comes from living in NYC and Washington DC his whole life) and a real hatred for suburban sprawl.

Here he is crying about a new highway in Berlin:
Now the plan is to finally finish the thing which will damage the neighborhoods directly afflicted by construction and, by speeding automobile commutes, encourage commuters to sprawl out into the surrounding suburbs.
So...what's wrong with that?

There's no reason why a cross-town journey should take hours in the 21st Century. And with the population growing at an exponential pace (7 billion people on the planet now, compared with 1.6 billion in 1900) there's no reason we should all be piled on top of each other in dense urban clusters.

Not More God Talk.....Nooooooo!

Andrew Sullivan is writing a book...about God, and if it's in this vein, I ain't reading it.
I am not inventing a new religion, like Joseph Smith. I am explaining what I see as the truths of Christianity in language that is not encrusted with myth and irrational literalism, a Christianity that incorporates the unprecedented amount of knowledge that mankind has now acquired about the universe, history, science and indeed the flawed human origins of the Scriptures themselves. To say that God is everywhere, as orthodox Christians believe, is precisely to say he is not some grey-bearded man in the sky. God is neither male nor female. God is hidden. God cannot be grasped by our human minds. But God is the force behind everything, and good.
A Christianity without myth? How's that going to work?

I always thought you had to buy onto a few things in order to be a Christian and all of those things are a bit "myth"-y. Even if you reject the virgin birth and the miracles, the prophecies and the resurrection, don't you have to accept at the very least the divinity of Jesus, who by all accounts was most definitely male?

Take all that out and you're left with a warmed-over spiritualism that is most definitely NOT Christianity as its been understood and practiced for centuries.

At any rate, I'm not a Christian, just raised as one, so what do I know? I have no choice but to reject hogwash like this:
That the universe loves us.
Especially after reading this:
God cannot be grasped by our human minds.
Which one is it? If "God/the Universe" is so incomprehensible, how can we be so sure that's its principle property is love?

The universe doesn't care about you because the universe doesn't care about anything. It can't. It's not an emotional being. It's merely the totality of everything that exists.

Maynard said it best:
The universe is hostile, so impersonal
Devour to survive, so it is, so it's always been.
I mean, I love hamburgers...but cows? I hate cows more than I hate coppers. Stupid cows.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Jimmy Fallon Does Morrison

And cracks me up.

When I was a kid, we used to watch Reading Rainbow at school all the time...

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Football Kittie

My kitties don't really care about the TV unless I'm watching football.

Kitties!

They're growing up...
I got this super-plush blanket for me, but my kitties have claimed it as their own.
Here's Sadie playing. Smoke's glowing eyes look on from the sidelines.

Tree Killer

Three down...three to go.
I have managed, through no small effort, to successfully cut down and stump three of the trees growing in my neighbor's fence and over my house. My method: dig a hole around the stump, cut off as many roots as I can, then cut off anything that's above ground. Drill holes in the stump, fill the holes with kosher salt. Bury the stump and wait for the slow death.

It's not without side effects. As you can see here, I actually had to cut away some of the fence to get the stump out.
I'm not sure how I'm going to handle this one.
Much less this one.
But however I do it, these trees will be gone.

More OWS

I really don't want to sound like I'm bagging hard on these people, but they have to get their shit together.

The Denver Post reports:
Denver police in riot gear forced stubborn protestors out of Civic Center park early this evening, tearing down illegally pitched tents.
The OWS response:
At least half of the protesters started to leave Lincoln Park and Civic Center after a 4:30 p.m. parlay with police, but many voted to stay and some of them blocked Broadway about 5:15 p.m.

Police moved quickly to clear Broadway. At 5:30 p.m., Broadway was closed by police between Colfax and 14th avenues.
Half wanted no part of a confrontation, and the other half were under control in fifteen minutes.

Some strategery you guys got there.

And here's the icing on the cake:
A city garbage truck pulled up as some protesters continued to chant anti-police slogans: "You look stupid in your helmets and with your clubs .... This a peaceful assembly — no weapons allowed."
The lack of self-awareness is staggering.

The police look stupid? You're the one sleeping on the sidewalk. The helmets and the clubs? The easier to crush you, my dear. The no weapons allowed policy? You're facing dudes with helmets and clubs. Is that really wise?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Peace Sells...But Who's Buying?

Just saw this video on Boing Boing and it further convinced me that the OWS protesters need to hold a serious strategy meeting. Watch the vid first.

You can't tell what proceeded this event in the video, but from the get-go you can see a guy who is clearly being braced by several cops. His response: "I'm not doing anything wrong."

That may be true, bud, but righteousness couldn't save Jesus. It's not going to save you.

Then the cops start choking him. Cue the ineffectual dissents from bystanders. A guy says, "What's the chokehold for?" Answer: Control.

Later, same guy says, "You're choking him," and a woman says, "You're hurting him." Thank you, Captain Obvious. Force is surprisingly effective, innit?

Of course, the guy getting arrested tells the cops "You're an enemy of the state. Fuck you!" Actually, Bob, the cops choking you out? They're tools of the state. At this unfortunate moment, you're the enemy of the state.

Bob is then carted off and sent to jail, while the crowd yells and records the encounter for the eventual upload to Youtube. Not one of them steps in to help Bob. Considering the consequences, I can't really blame them. They would only suffer Bob's fate...or worse.

I just wish they would extend their definition of "peaceful protest" beyond submitting to authority. Gandhi didn't do that. Martin Luther King didn't do that. One can be peaceful and still fight back.

So fight back!

Less Activists, More Action

I went to lunch downtown with my Mom today and ran smack dab into the Occupy Wall Street protestors marching down the 16th Street Mall. On approach, we saw riot squads geared up on both 15th and 17th, but they didn't move in.

By sheer coincidence, we happened to be on the same block as the new H&M store that opened up, the first one ever in town. There was a line around the corner and they were letting people in like a club, really milking the pent-up demand.

And then here comes Occupy Wall Street, holding signs, shouting slogans, the guys with megaphones yelling at the people in line. At one point the crowd started chanting about child slaves. It was quite the spectacle.

And after having witnessed it, I wish I could say I support the movement. But I don't.

Oh, I support their goals if it means addressing income inequality and the many ways corporations fuck us over, but I can't condone the methods. Some of the protesters were harassing the girls in line for H&M and I felt like telling those guys to buzz off, say, "Look, dude, they just want to buy cute clothes. Leave them alone."

One of the girls threw it right back. "Where'd you get your clothes?" she asked one of the more obnoxious ones, and c'mon, we know the answer to that one. He got his clothes from the same place we all get our clothes: some Asian country.

And this is why I can't really get behind OWS. The ire is all over the place. They're mad at the government, at corporations, at the cops, all for good reasons, but then they're also bitching out teen girls who are only guilty of a a Saturday afternoon shopping trip. How is that productive?

I'm staring to wonder how effective non-violent protests like this can be in the 21st Century. The authorities aren't scared, I can tell you that. If there had been any kind of confrontation, the protesters would have been crushed. I saw bandanas and Guy Fawkes masks on the protesters. Body armor, helmets, and weapons on the riot squads. Guess who showed up with winning a fight on their minds.

This is what the protesters thought they were doing: registering their disapproval, taking a stand, raising awareness.

This is what they were actually doing: They were being herded like sheep down the Mall until they could be set out to pasture at Civic Center Park. Let me repeat the point for emphasis: Herded like fucking sheep.

Now I'm not saying they should be more violent, but they should be less docile. And by "less docile" I don't mean "more obnoxious." I mean, think strategically. Take actions with a desired result in mind. If the desired result is to feel good about yourself for doing essentially nothing, then by all means...follow the shepherds with the rest of the herd.

If the desired result is to change the world, well, that's hard work and it will take time. You can't do the work and you won't have the time if you're too busy waving signs and marching.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day Shoutout

Speaking of self-sacrifice...

Suck it, Objectivists.

Atlas Smugged

Ha! This is funny:
The company behind the film Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is replacing 100,000 title sheets from the film's newly released DVD and Blue Ray versions because the copy writer incorrectly described the late Ayn Rand's 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, as a story of "self-sacrifice."
Ayn Rand famously believed that self-sacrifice is a moral failing and that self-interest is the grease that lubricates the world. Oh, sorry. Rational self-interest.

Point to an example of raging self-interest that's not so great --say Moamar Gaddafi or Bernie Madoff-- and the average Randian will say, "Well, that's not rational." Of course it's not.

Neither is having children, and yet people have kids all the time.

Of course, I once knew a raging Objectivist who argued that having children was a self-interested activity. "You're spreading your genes," he said. Yes, that's true, but I don't see how that's exactly self interested.

After all, my genes are not my "self." They are, in a very literal way, a record of all the other "selves" that proceeded me. You want to get real technical about it, there's very little of "me" in my genetic code and spreading my genes around doesn't do me any favors. Oh, great...

Another mouth to feed. A separate, individual mouth that (oh shit, irrational lizard brain kicking in) that I might think more important than my own.

Self-sacrifice isn't a moral failing. It's the strength of our species. It's the strength of any species.

The Power of the Drums

It's taken me several years to realize that the reason I love heavy metal is the drumming. Vocally, metal leaves a lot to be desired. And while I do like guitar riffs and muddy bass lines, the truth is that I love the pounding, explosive quality of metal drumming. Love it.

And so it is that I must give a huge shout-out to Mastodon's Brann Dailor. I haven't been able to put their new record down, it's that good. If you're looking for hit singles, yeah...look elsewhere. But if you're looking for something that sounds like a machine gun shooting up a metal factory, you found it.

I've had this little bit of vocal swimming in my head for days. The lyric isn't so original; you've heard it before:
Heavy weighs the crown, low hangs the head who wears it.
But listen to those drums. It is a full-on furious assault of some awesome-ass drumming.

Just face it. His hands are moving faster than your brain can process it.

Pointless

I don't see the point to this story. We all know Brett Ratner is a douchebag with a big mouth. He also happens to be a spectacularly talentless director.

Quentin Tarrantino, on the other hand, may be a douchebag with a big mouth...but he has actually made a few good films.

And if you've ever seen one of his movies, you will not be surprised that he once used the word "faggot" in front of polite company. This is, after all, the same guy who cast himself in Pulp Fiction as a guy who rants about how his house should not be used for "dead nigger storage."

He said faggot too? OMG.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Last Circus

I watched The Last Circus Sad Trumpet Ballad last night, the Spanish movie I heard about in June, and I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

It was a visually stunning film but like most films, there's a whole cultural context it takes place in, and in this case, I don't know enough about Franco's Spain to truly "get it." All I had were the images, the characters, the story, but the images are dark, the characters nearly inscrutable, and the story is unevenly paced. I kept seeing glimpses of things that would probably resonate with meaning if it weren't for my own damn ignorance about the subject matter, but alas I didn't "get it."

Never Again

Today's my birthday and while I resolved some years ago never to work on my birthday, I violated that principle today and worked a half day. Last time I'll do that...

I spent 15 minutes trying to get this guy to plug his shit into a hot power outlet and the whole time I'm thinking, why am I doing this on my birthday? Oh, that's right. It's the whole work ethic thing. Damn work ethic...

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Don't Be a Freakshow

Check out this pic of a fat guy shaving.
Yes, that's Chaz Bono and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in her...I mean, him.

I think at heart there's a semi-benign motive behind this photo. It's meant to be humanizing, and it is in its own way. But behind all those good intentions is this strange freakshow quality that I'm not sure I'm fully support.

Would Chastity Bono have been invited to be on Dancing With the Stars if she he hadn't begun the whole female-to-male transition thing? Doubt it.

Would this photo be published? Again, doubt it.

I could show you a picture of me shirtless and shaving and it wouldn't humanize me in the slightest. It would just be a picture of a dude shaving: mundane, boring, the kind of thing that happens in bathrooms on a daily basis for every cleanshaven male on the planet.

Add the breast-removal scars and the hormone-induced stubble, though, and you're getting pretty close to PT Barnum territory...

Gaylord

The city of Aurora is the asshole of this state. By that, I mean it smells like shit and looks like a wound. Since I moved here, there hasn't been a day that I haven't regretted it. You go anywhere in the Denver-Metro area and say the word "Aurora," you will be met with a crinkled nose and a frown as if someone just farted.

That's because Aurora is the asshole of this state...but I repeat myself.

If you or I wanted to build a hotel, or even a house, do you think the city government is going to give you money to do it? Do you think they'll declare vacant land "blighted" so they can hand it over to you at a discount?

Hell no. Not even grudgingly.

But if you're a big entertainment company that owns hotels and TV stations, they will bend over backwards to "hook a brotha up." And hey, I get it. Shopping around for the most desperate community with the most generous tax breaks is a proven recipe for success. Just say you're going to create some jobs and watch the gubmint money roll in.

And that shit is starting to bug me. Yes, I too confess to getting stars in my eyes when we're talking about creating new jobs, but it must be remembered that creating "new" jobs doesn't mean creating new positions. IT administrator? That's a "new" job, considering that 50 years ago there was no such thing. A hotel maid? That's just a new position.

So I'm glad that Denver is doing their best to break up Gaylord's rent-seeking "entrepreneurship." These corporations need to know. You want to be a capitalist, be a fucking capitalist. Borrow your funding from investors. Use your own revenues. Pay market rates. If the numbers don't work, the numbers don't work.

Just stop trying to rip us all off.

Asking taxpayers to contribute $300 million to a private company so they can build their hotel? That's ripping us off. Stop it.

No one in this town is going to even stay at your crappy hotel. So why you want us to pay for it? Pay for it your own damn self.

Monday, November 07, 2011

American Horror Story

Speaking of Dracula, if you've been watching the FX series American Horror Story (it's pretty good, so you should be) you might have noticed a familiar musical cue...

Courtesy of Wojciech Kilar and his score for Coppolla's film:

I recognized it immediately because, well, I love that score.

Original Notes for Dracula

For today's glimpse into the writing process, I give you some of Bram Stoker's initial notes for his novel Dracula.
What's interesting about this document is how Stoker's ideas evolved. Here he has Dr. Seward as Lucy Westenra's fiance, and while Dr. Seward is one of her suitors in the book, Lucy is actually engaged to Arthur Holmwood (who is missing from the list entirely).

Renfield is there, identified only as "Mad Patient."

Count Dracula's original name was "Count Wamphyr." (Imagine if that one stuck!)

Also interesting is that it seems that the character of Van Helsing is a composite of some of these characters, my guess would be "A German Professor - Max Windsfoeffel" and "A Psychical Research Agent - Alfred Singleton." The "Texan" is not "Brutus Maris," but Quincey P. Morris. And am I to believe that Arthur Holmwood (who in the course of the story is declared a British Lord) started out as a painter named Francis?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Stealing...What Exactly?

I love Scott Ian, but he's going to have a hard time convincing me of the integrity of this argument:
There is no argument. I'm not even going to get into that conversation. You're stealing! It's stealing, that's what it is. It's not free for us to make these records. These records are on sale in many, many places where you can pay your money to buy the product that we are selling. Anything outside of that is stealing. There is no conversation to be had. There's no, "Well, I just wanted to check it out, and then I liked it so I bought the record." I don't give a fuck. It's stealing. Everyone can say that, "I just wanted to check it out," or "There's no way for me to get music where I live." That's bullshit. It's fucking bullshit! I've been doing this for way too long. I sold records in the '80s and '90s before there was an Internet, and no one seemed to have a problem going out and buying a shit ton of records back then. The whole record industry has collapsed because people are stealing. That's the end of the story.
Actually, the whole record industry has collapsed because the market has determined that the product they are selling is not worth very much. This whole time, musicians seem to have convinced themselves that their product was their music.

Not so. Their product was their brand, and the most valuable thing about it was the packaging. Thanks to technology and changing social attitudes, the packaging of music just isn't as valuable as it used to be. Absent the packaging, what are you getting exactly? A copy of a recording, and it's not even a true copy. It's a copy made up of little slices of the original sound, and your ear is so dumb it can't tell the difference.

You want me to pay you for that? Well, alright...but don't expect very much for it.

The Sparrow

I haven't listened to Mastodon's new record enough to give a detailed review, but I like it. I like the fact that it's not a concept album. I like the fact that it's heavy and musical. I've already had the chorus of "The Curl of the Burl" burrowing in my ear a few times, and I like the fact that there's a song called "All the Heavy Lifting."

But I really, really like this solo from "The Sparrow." It's got a slow-burning intensity that's as patient as it is deliberate. Great stuff.
(PS. I made this video myself and it provided me the dangerous notion that I need to clutter up Youtube with others just like it.)

Updated:

I also really, really like this verse from "The Curl of the Burl."
I killed a man cuz he killed my goat
I put my hands around his throat
He tried to reason with the sky and the clouds
But it didn't matter cuz they can't hear a sound
Now that may seem silly at first glance, but once you consider that all of Mastodon's lyrics inhabit a literary world that is not exactly our own, it has a certain poetry to it.

He tried to reason with the sky and the clouds...


Yeah, that's tight.

Going Out of Style

America's worst sheriff, birther. Seriously, Maricopa County, do you want this guy to be your sheriff? This guy?

With his fixation on illegal immigrants of Mexican origin and his continuing birtherism, the guy's a borderline racist. Great if you're white and have no morals, but does Maricopa County wish to make us think they're a bunch of white people with no morals?

Snow Day

It snowed all night last night. This morning, the roads were a mess. I pulled off into a King Soopers parking lot and took the fucking bus. (It was just like old times.*) I was twenty minutes late, but it could have been worse. A co-worker slammed into a curb, broke a tie rod, and never made it in.

* It was very similar to this, actually...

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Grapes of Wrath

I went to a production of Grapes of Wrath at the Vintage Theater this afternoon. I read the book several years ago and was blown away, particularly with the character of Reverend Jim Casy. I guess I identified with his loss of faith and his subsequent struggle to find moral clarity.

He was played by a guy that looked like Bruce Willis in the play, but the character was watered down a bit to make room for all the other goings on, which including a full-on four-square number. (Hey, it's theater.) I liked the play. But I liked the book so much more.

And it's with thoughts of the book (and the play, hell, even the movie and the Springsteen song) in my head that I scan the headlines and read this one:
Michele Bachmann Wouldn't Do 'Anything' To Help Children Of Undocumented Immigrants
In the article, she says:
"We do not owe people who broke our laws to come into the country. We don't owe them anything."
There's a whole context about government benefits that quote comes from, so I don't want to distort her point.

But contrary to the Bachmann's all-encompassing "anything," there are a few a things that we owe them. Among them is the right to be treated like a human being.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Giant

New favorite song off the new Anthrax record. It's called The Giant and while there's nothing special about the verse, the chorus soars. The first go round is pretty straight forward, but the second round has some additional vocals. Sounds great. Take a listen.

The lyrics:
Caught between the line between right and wrong
Caught between the things I don't know
Up and down the mountain climbing, climbing
Drowning in the ocean to find my soul
PS. After giving the record a few listens, I wondered if it was clipped...and it is. But I think I've decided that not all clipping is bad. Don't clip my Led Zeppelin records, but if Anthrax -a heavy metal band reliant on distortion- wants to write a record which they later intend to clip in the final mix? Sounds good to me.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Reading Material

After finishing The Poet, I've been going on a bit of an Elmore Leonard and James Lee Burke kick. Went through Tishomingo Blues and a little bit of Pronto, and I'm almost done with Burke's non-Robicheaux book Cimmaron Rose. Like Connelly, I've read enough from these guys to know a little about their style.

Connelly: police procedurals, modern technology, Bosch fighting with his supervisor, nicknames for everyone, that "ripped from the headlines" feel. Lots of "he knew" and "meant that" stuff. ("He knew that Eleanor would never eat bacon for breakfast. The presence bacon in the frying pan meant that someone else was in the house!)

Leonard: Lots of dialogue from lots of characters of diverse racial backgrounds, a scheme that unravels, usually involving a betrayal of some sorts, some romance, some comedy, very spare but at the same time very dense.

Burke: Weather reports, descriptions of flora and fauna, poetic detail and colorful metaphor. Vibrant verbs, spot-on adjectives. Everybody talks tough, death is omnipresent, the treatment of minorities and women always a major theme.

I'm onto all of them, and yet, I still like them.

Even as I'm reading one of Burke's weather reports, it's awesome. Here's a direct quote from Burning Angel: "I gazed out the window at the fine morning and the fronds on the palm trees lifting against the windswept sky." How can you not love that?

Dead Trees

I'm a mean old bastard. When the first big snow (I guess it snowed when I was up in Glenwood but I missed it) hit, I hoped it would break some of the branches on the junk trees growing in the fence of my neighbor's house.

Mission accomplished.
As long as that house is abandoned, I'm resolved of ridding the world of these trees. It's a favor really. They're growing through their fence.

I would just like to walk beside my house without having to endure bushwhack city.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fantasy Football

It's been a pretty good year so far...

In one league, the Shivakamini Somakandarkam Bowl*, I'm in first place.

(* Yep, the theme this year is from The League. My team is called the Herdsmen. Hyah!)

In the other, the Denver Football Stars, my team is currently in second place. It's not a comfortable spot, though, as a loss next week could bump me down three or even four places.

One guy, who probably watched the Sunday night game like I did, wanted to trade me Percy Harvin, Dustin Keller, and Stevie Johnson for Jimmy Graham, but I said no. Harvin's hurt, and while I'd take Keller and consider Johnson, I need a quarterback this week, not some limpy receiver who's a week to week liability.

So instead of taking that trade, I'm dropping Devery Henderson (ain't doing shit) and picking up Matt Hasselbeck. Hasselbeck's going back to the bench next week, but this week he's facing the Colts. Last week Henderson was good for a single fucking point when the Saints blew out the Colts 62-7 last week. Hasselbeck's going to be facing those same sorry Colts. I'm betting he's going to score more than 1 point.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Anonymous

Years ago I had an idea for a writing project. The idea I still like, but the project I swiftly abandoned because a big Oscar-winning movie came out about a similar subject. The idea: What if Shakespeare didn't write his plays? What if Christopher Marlowe faked his own death and used this guy named Will as a frontman?

It wasn't an original idea, I know, but I thought I could do it justice. I wasn't going to be faithful to history at all and I was going to make it funny: a comedy about a con-job that was never discovered. But then Shakespeare in Love came out and after that, Shakespeare as a main character was out.

So when I saw the trailer for Anonymous, my first thought was "Yeah, I've seen that movie already...in my head." My second thought was, well, at least somebody made the "Shakespeare is a fraud" movie.

But too bad Roland Emmerich is the guy who made it, not because he makes bad movies (alright, not sure he's ever made a "good" one), but because his sensibility is all wrong for the material. He takes some weird ideas way too seriously and you almost get the sense that he half-believes some of it. I bet if you got him drunk and talking, he'd admit to believing Area 51 is where they keep the aliens (Independence Day), that the aliens created civilization (Stargate, 10,000 BC), that a global ecological disaster will suddenly hit us (The Day After Tomorrow, 2012).

And he'd probably confess to believing his Shakespeare theory, too, which sucks because if he's too evangelical about it, the movie's probably not going to be very good.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Naive Knaves

From a commenter named James K over at the League of Ordinary Gentleman regarding this post:
If a solution [to global warming] is to come, it will be technological, not political. If zero-carbon energies get cheap enough, it will become politically feasible to move away from coal and oil. Until then, I predict politicians will continue to either deny the problem, or sound concerned but do nothing substantial.
More technology? I don't know, man. I'm getting a little dubious that the answer to our ecological problems is going to come from a factory stamped Made in China.

But hey, if you don't like Al Gore, I can see why you don't favor a "political" solution. But whatever "solution" we come up with, it's going to have a political aspect because, well...that's just how this are in the modern, industrial world.

Which leads me to this comment:
I pretty much agree. We should have been investing heavily in research on alt energy for the past few decades and we should doing the same now clean energy. We are pretty good at developing all sorts of high tech stuff.
Um...every time "we" (I mean, the people) tried to invest "heavily in research on alt energy" we were called hoaxers and were advised to drill, baby, drill.

But I do like the sheer dumbassness of this guy's last statement: "We are pretty good at developing all sorts of high tech stuff." I know, huh? We have computers, plasma TVs, hair dryers, washing machines, dishwashers, air conditioners, and game consoles. All kinds of awesome "high tech stuff" that needs lots of energy, energy we get from burning fossil fuels, the burning of which is contributing to the problem in the first place.

Scoreless

It's the 4th quarter and the Broncos are scoreless against the mighty (ha!) Dolphins. My orange and blue blood doesn't blind me from the fact that the team that I love stinks.

The Josh McDaniels era may be over, but the damage continues!

Updated:
Oh, finally! They score. And this was just a few minutes after the first 3rd down conversion of the game. 55 minutes of football was played before a 3rd down conversion.

My goggle....

Updated again:

And now the game is tied and we're going to OT???

Updated again:

And the Broncos win! In traditional 4th quarter comeback style. Elway should be proud.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Jumpmaster Jason

Went down to Canon City, slept in an airplane hangar, and watched my brother jump out an airplane.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Nobody Gives a Shit

This video cracked me up. I think this dude should be doing this for a living.

Put an act together, girl. Take that shit on the road.

Revolution Screams

I dedicate this song to Moamar Gaddafi.

It also happens to be my favorite track from the new Anthrax record.

"Revolution calls and empires fall."

Monday, October 17, 2011

Profanity

I'm a big believer in it.

And I think it's totally lame for Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to complain about the "profanity" on the field during his confrontation with 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Especially when my resident lip-reader swore he saw Schwartz say "What the fuck?"

Look at the tape again. Yeah, that's a fuck.

Bad Terms

It's been a long evolving process, but I've pretty much given up on my dream of becoming a pro writer. I'll be a writer till I die, but will I ever do it for money? Probably not.

Not because I'm not "good enough" or whatever, but mostly because I don't want to play the game. And if you want to make any money at it, you have to play the game.

And what is the game, you ask? It's called getting ripped off, a notion that's only reinforced when I read stuff like this guy's story about self-publishing. Here he explains his "self"-publishing arrangement with Amazon:
Like Paulie Cicero’s crew in Goodfellas, they’d get theirs first, off the top. The floor for the paperback edition of my book was $7.49; I set an introductory selling price of $7.99, yielding a profit to me of $0.30 per book. Then I priced the the Kindle edition and the iBooks edition at a cheap-as-possible $0.99 each, which yielded per-unit profits to me of $0.30 and $0.35 respectively.
Seriously, these are the terms? Thirty cents a book?

For a print-on-demand book, I can see it. There's paper costs, ink, glue, packaging, design, shipping, all the other stuff.

But why do the eBook publishers get to keep two-thirds of the take? They can't claim to be doing two-thirds of the work. And hey, I get the whole "proprietary network as a profit center" thing, but that doesn't mean I have to fall to bended knee and say, "Oh, Pwease, Amazon, pwease put my book on your hardware. I'll give you two-thirds of the profits. Pwetty pwease."

In a perfect world, the introduction of e-books into the publishing world should result in lower prices for books and higher profits for the people writing them. Maybe that's even the world Amazon wants, if only the old school publishers would let them. (Maybe. I mean, someone else dreams...and you get 70% of the proceeds? I wish I would have thought of it first.)

But I don't think that's the world we're going to get. Too many juiced in interests want to keep riding the gravy train.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Turn Off The Radio

So I left work early (wasn't even supposed to be there today) and hopped in the truck, tuned to 850 KOA, your home of the Denver Broncos, hoping to catch kick-off...

But it was some dude talking about racist President Obama is towards white people.

Then I remembered the Broncos have a bye this week, so there would be no more game. Just more right-wing kvetching.

Yesterday I had a dose of it when I was changing out a tape. Rush Limbaugh talking about Wall Street.

I'm sure it all makes more sense if you listen to it the entire time you're driving, but in little snatches it sounds dumb as shit.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Cain Vs Obama

In some alternate universe, you know this is happening...

Herman Cain wins the Republican nomination for president. If no third party candidate jumps into the race, everyone in America will be forced, if they vote at all, to vote for a black man.

Now I've already done it, and if you've voted the last couple years you've probably done it too. I'm not just talking about Obama, neither. That judge you picked could be black...you don't know.

I wonder how that's playing out in that alternate universe.

Monday, October 10, 2011

View of Glenwood Canyon

From the gondola up to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.
Same view, but from on top of the mountain.

View of Glenwood Canyon

From atop Doc Holliday's gravesite.
Click to embiggen (to not much larger, actually; the stitching renders it down a notch).

And Doc Holliday's memorial.
Memorial...probably not his grave.

On the Bandwagon

Alright, I guess I'm on the Tebow bandwagon. The guy nearly single-handedly scored a comeback victory.

I still don't think the quarterback situation is why the Broncos suck this year. I still think all of this can be traced back to Pat Bowlen's decision to fire Shanahan. The ghost of Josh McDaniels haunts our nightmares. John Fox wants to join him.

The team has a lot of problems, a loosey-goosey defense with holes you could fly a 747 through, a running game that scares no one, and the receivers? They're not bad if you'd throw them the ball.

A guy at work was slamming fantasy football because it chisels away at team loyalty. He caught me celebrating last week after Aaron Rodgers shamed the Broncos D with two running TDs and several more passing. Was I mad? Yeah...kinda. Well, not really.

Don't get me wrong. The Broncos are still my team. But I'm glad I can divert some of my attention and my sports adulation, if you will, towards other players much more deserving of it.

Besides, I picked up Eric Decker after the season started, and this week, he didn't get me shit!

PS. If you want to read really good football commentary (rather than this shite), you gotta read Peter King.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Upside Down Land

I know Andrew Sullivan is Catholic and Catholics have different ideas about the inerrancy of the Bible than Protestants, but he's off his rocker here:
There's no evidence that the Garden of Eden was always regarded as figurative? Really? Has Coyne read the fucking thing? I defy anyone with a brain (or who hasn;t had his brain turned off by fundamentalism) to think it's meant literally. It's obviously meant metaphorically. It screams parable.
Hey, man, I agree. Don't take the Garden of Eden story literally. It's a metaphor. It's a parable. It didn't happen.

But then again, I'm an atheist and those beliefs are consistent with atheism. They are not, however, consistent with large swaths of Christian belief, which insist on a literal interpretation of scripture. Eve did bite the apple, Noah did survive the flood, Moses did part the Red Sea, etc.

Now there are some enlightened Christians who don't believe that stuff, but surely they believe in some of the most fantastic stuff in the Christ story, especially since without the miracles or the resurrection, Jesus would be just another rabbi from Nazareth.

Read Sullivan's blog on Sundays and you can see him swooning in the reality of the Christ myth, which I would expect most religious people to do on a Sunday.

I just don't expect them to argue on Wednesday to start calling the whole enterprise a "metaphor."

Who worships a metaphor? Christians don't.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Done With That

I am done, thank God, listening to the audiobook of Michael Connelly's The Poet, and man...it's just not a very strong book. I can't believe it helped make his career.

It actually started out promising, a reporter looking into his brother's death, which looked like suicide but turns out to be murder. A serial killer is on the loose, and in what turns out to be a big red herring (I'm spoiling this, so...) he even introduces one, a pedophile photographer recently released from prison.

But somewhere along the line, something went wrong. Instead of a story about a guy hunting down the serial killer who killed his brother, it became this story about a reporter who wants to fuck this hot FBI agent. And to go along with this bad romance, there's a jealousy subplot about the FBI agent's ex-husband, also an FBI agent, also on the team. (Of course, he dies later. If you were God of your own universe, you'd kill him shortly after creating him too.)

And then, it's almost as if Connelly changed his mind about who he was going to make the bad guy. He started ticking off the rules. Gotta have a red herring. Okay, I'll make it my pedophile. He's a creep, but he's not the Poet killer. Good. Oh, shit. You're supposed to introduce the killer early in the story so the audience recognizes him. You can't just have him spring out early.

I got it. I'll make the hot FBI agent the killer. Give her some messed up history. Set her up with a few clues. Yeah...

But then he started writing the romance section. He found himself kind of falling in love with this FBI agent character. (She shows up in later books, so yeah...love.) So he decides he can't make her the killer.

So his great idea? Make it her boss! The guy who's in charge of the investigation. The guy who is sitting in meetings going, "Okay, people, this is what we need to do." (The character really talks like that.)

Yeah, make it a big reveal. Just like the movies. Give it some scenic backdrop, in this case a damaged house on stilts in the Hollywood Hills, and some corny "this is why I did it" dialogue. Tie it all up nicely.

Ooh, wait, better idea! Make the hot FBI agent show up in the nick of time and shoot the bad guy, after he gives his speech, of course.

Now I don't know for sure if this was the thought process behind the writing of The Poet, but it sure seemed like it. Not a satisfying "read."

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Death Metal Politician

If I lived in Poland, I'd vote for this guy, and I don't even like death metal.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday Night

Gah, I hate working Friday nights. Nothing but part-timers who either don't know or don't care.

And there's always some silly complaint. Tonight it was about the ads in front of a new movie called Courageous. It's a Christian movie about firefighters, the kind of movie entire congregations go see en masse. (Hey, you don't have to tell me about the cinema being a semi-religious experience. I already know.)

Anyway, it's a PG-13 movie, probably for "intense action scenes" or "language." You know, firefighters falling through burning floors in slow motion, yelling "Shiiiiiit!" Nothing the youngsters couldn't handle.

But the ads? An OMG would be appropriate. They have those weird dudes from "The Big Bang Theory" trying to be funny. They're cracking jokes, promoting their show, and one of them says "bitches." Bitches! Can you believe that?

You can't say bitches in front of a PG-13 movie! You can show two tits, say one fuck, show hundreds of people dying (as long you don't show any blood), but bitches? That's drawing the line, man.

Better Late than Never

The Aurora Police killed another guy on Thursday.

And finally, the Chief is going to order everyone to go to "don't shoot people" training.
Aurora Police Chief Dan Oates has ordered every officer to attend safety and use of force training following the city's eighth officer-involved shooting of the year.
I do take issue with Oates on this though:
"In the letter, Oates noted a "disproportionately high number of officer-involved shootings" this year.

"These events have mirrored national trends," Oates said. "Officers across the nation have been threatened, shot at, wounded and murdered at higher rates than in the past.""
I suspect that if Chief Oates didn't pull that directly out of his ass, then he's quoting from The Journal of Made-Up Statistics.

The Aurora PD isn't the victim of some national surge of crime against cops. They're the victim of their own incompetence. That's why they're getting more training instead of better body armor.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It Slices, It Dices...


Tonight I crossed something off my bucket list. I sat in the front row at a Gallagher show.

So what if it was latter day Gallagher. He brought his sledge-o-matic with him. I'll never look at soy milk and strawberry syrup the same.

And I took my picture with him.

Stripping the Mall

Yes, I'm reading Matt Yglesias this morning...

He ponders the fate of America's strip malls:
My assumption is that the broadband share will increase over time, and that getting broadband will make people shift on the margin away from physical retailing.
I'm not sure that assumption is correct as some goods are more suitable to "broadband" shopping than others. It might be better to say that this marginal shift will affect some physical retailers, leave others untouched, and may yet improve business for others as less-nimble larger retailers fold. (Local example: With both CompUSA and Circuit City out of the picture, Micro Center is doing gangbusters.)

But for the sake of argument, let's say the assumption holds:
So what’s going to take up that space? In urban locations, I expect we’ll see a lot of bars and restaurants insofar as local regulators are willing to hand out the liquor licenses. But IN the suburban malls where the majority of the retail is located, there isn’t as much demand for bar and restaurant uses, and many of the big box locations seem implausibly large. Malls that are big enough to be spectacles unto themselves like the Mall of America should stay as attractive locations for the physical retail that remains, and in a place like Houston, the population is growing enough that you can just slow the pace of mall construction. But it seems overall like you’re going to have a fair amount of excess space unless it can be usefully repurposed for some kind of health care function.
Now this strikes me as a relatively unimaginative response. Healthcare? That's it?

In my hometown, there's an old mall that was dead twenty years ago. It was repurposed and though it does contain a health clinic, it also has a data center, a call center, a trade school, and probably some other stuff. And that was a large building, a mall. Strip mall-wise, you could put in a health clinic (many of them already do) or you could put in a church, which I've seen, or another store.

Down the street, there used to be a Big Lots. Now it's a clothing store.

Now I'm not advocating for building more box stores. From the empty storefronts in this town left by all the failed corporations, we really do have too many that need to be "repurposed." It's just silly to think that they must serve some kind of health care function. And hey, I get it.

"Health care" is going to be the big growth engine. It's the one thing that can't be outsourced. We're going to be, through the sheer force of will, the only first world country to make it's living providing and consuming health care from each other.

Come on, man. There's going to be more to it than that, even if we go Mad Max.

Part of the problem with big box stores is that they were made for corporations. National chains. Companies with big pockets and bigger ambitions. This is store #156, not their main concern, just one of many.

When those guys pull out, who can step in? Not the locals, because the locals don't have any money. If they ever got any, they'd be scooped up by the big corporate interests and go national. Then we start the whole process again. It's the business cycle.

So maybe these properties should sit idle for a while. If I had the dough and this were a perfect world, I'd take over a Linens and Things or an old Circuit City, set up a sweet apartment in the back half, a sweet bookstore/coffee shop in the front half with an attached theater for movie screenings and performances.

Would it be a viable business? I dunno. But you can't outsource culture either.

Happy New Year

One of the most interesting things about life is that there are things I do not know. And I find out about them all the time.

For instance, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to Judaica. I don't know Rosh Hashanah from Yom Kippur, and until recently I had no clue that American Jews eat Chinese food on Christmas.

I chalk this up to a life lived starkly free of Jewish influences and while an anti-semite might think that's great, at heart, I'm a multi-culturalist --nay, a culturist-- so I think it's something to be remedied.

So I watch this silly video...

And wonder where I've been the last ten years. (Seriously, that song...it's dated by ten years. At least.)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Polamalu

My boy comes through again.
Simple rule in the fantasy draft. If it's time to draft my defensive player, and Polamalu is available...pick him up.

I got some shit this year in the draft, but I think I put together a decent team. Rodgers at QB, Ray Rice from Rutgers running, Tom Brady's favorite target Gronkowski on TE.

And my boy Polamalu, scoring touchdowns like he's on offense.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

On Football and Sexism

During the preseason sometime, I was watching highlights on NFL.com, having a good time, enjoying the football, no care in the world. The commentators consisted of a woman (can't remember who) doing the play-by-play and two former players doing the color.

This would not be notable under normal circumstances. We've advanced to that post-feminist state where a female sportscaster just doesn't raise eyebrows anymore. If you were say something like, "She never played a down in her life" or "I bet she can't even throw a sprial," you would be revealing yourself to be a knuckle-dragging neanderthal whose nuts should be clipped.

But then what happens when the play-by-play girl gets snippy, as she did with her co-hosts? I can't remember what was said exactly, but she chided them for wandering off into a private joke with something like, "Are you gonna let me call the next play?" And I get it, she's doing the play by play and these two other guys are geeking out on college ball. But did she have to be so bitchy about it?

Now I'm using the term "bitchy" in its neutral form. It wasn't "bitchy" because she's got a vagina. It was legitimately, objectively bitchy. I tried to imagine a male play-by-play guy in the same situation and in no scenario could I come up with the guy reacting with such a "Rawwwwr." And that bothers me.

Am I sexist? I wonder. Or is the world sexist? Mary Strong is a nice lady, I'm sure, and she probably loves football just as much as any dude. But she's never played it. Her color guys? They played it in high school, in college, at a pro level. They have an understanding of the game that Mary Strong will never have simply by virtue of having access to areas of it that Mary Strong does not. That's not me being sexist. That's the institutional state of football.

So put Mary Strong on the stool and have her tell us about football? That's obvious. We need more women. (Tokenism) And they have to look alright. (Beautyism.) Is it sexist of me to notice this? Erin Andrews would not be where she's at if she was ugly or a man. If she were ugly, she wouldn't be in front of the camera. If she were a man, she'd be expected to have some deeper connection to football than showing up at the press conferences as a pool reporter.

Again, does that make me sexist? Would I be even more sexist if I said that the girls in Lingerie Football are doing more for "women in football" than all the ESPN hotties combined?

"Oh, right," the feminist says, "putting women in lingerie so you can leer at them is just sooooo liberating, huh?"

Actually, if you've ever watched any of the games...yeah, it is. First off, they're not in lingerie. They do have pads and helmets and the uniforms aren't as revealing as you think. (You see more skin at the Summer Olympics.)

The football, though, the football is real, full contact bone-crushing play-making football. The token hire is the ugly girl who can throw a big block. They don't need to cutaway for a 30 second sideline report because the eye candy is on the field the whole time. These women don't have to wonder what it feels like to be in a huddle on 3rd and long. They know.

It's only a matter of time before one of these derided Lingerie Bowlers takes Mary Strong's job. And ten bucks says it won't be because she's "cute."