Friday, September 19, 2014

History is not History

I don't write about politics. For the most part, anyway, because it's pointless. But some chump somewhere signed me up for Democratic Party notifications from North Carolina, so I'm constantly forced to unsubscribe/spam/delete my address from email lists. Normally, I don't even bother to skim the emails, but I found the latest one laughably stupid because it contravenes rationality.

Apparently, someone named Kay Hagen is running against someone named Thom Tillis for a seat in the US senate from North Carolina. Hagen is a Democrat, and is attacking Tillis for not voting to "apologize" for a race riot of some sort in 1898. Yeah, you read that right: something that happened in 1898 needs Republican apologies in 2014. Not at all surprising is that Tillis, the speaker of the NC house of representatives, voted not to apologize for something that had nothing to do with him when a measure came before the house.

And Hagen's team is all over that shit as proof that Tillis is a racist or something.


But what? Oh, right, here's the Wikipedia entry: "Originally described by whites as a race riot (suggesting blacks were at fault), the events are now classified as a coup d'etat, as white Democratic insurgents overthrew the legitimately elected local government.[2][3] A mob of nearly 2000 men attacked the only black newspaper in the state, and persons and property in black neighborhoods, killing an estimated 15 to more than 60 victims."

So, Democrat Kay Hagen wants Republican Thom Tillis to apologize for the sins of white Democrats, and if he doesn't, he's a modern-day racist. Or something.

I haven't figured out how the Democratic Party has managed to trick people into thinking the South was ruled by racist Republicans, but it's a good trick. You'd think the Republicans would have some way to counter this trick - you know, by using history or something - but then, Republicans are stupid.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Goals

At this point in my writing career, I had expected to have a career like, say, Brad Thor or Neal Stephenson or any other fiction writer who can live off his writing - and then some - would have been fine for me. Hell, by now, I'd settle for a mid-list moderately successful fiction career where I made $50,000 per year.

Yeah, I'd probably settle for less than that at this point.

But I can lay claim to having sold fiction and made some money at it, and, even odder, more unexpected and somewhat gratifying, I can lay claim to being an internationally known writer. However insignificant and tiny my share of that claim is. But it's true. For the most part, my work has sold in English speaking countries - the UK, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and, of course the USA. However, it's also sold copies in Spain, Germany and a couple of other European countries, and I think Mexico, too.

Today, we add Brasil. Or Brazil. Whichever. I know this because Amazon Brasil sent me a royalty check for a kindle sale. I don't know what I'm going to do with the 28 cents...

For the curious, I've been working of the third story of The Divine World series. I'm in chapter three or four at the moment and hoping to have the first draft done by Christmas, and the final draft out by the end of winter.

But the really exciting part of today is going to be using the palm sander to smooth the joint compound on the sheetrock I put over the hole the plumber put in the wall in the kitchen to get at the return pipe from the bathroom on the second floor.

A writer's life for me...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Movie Reviews, of a Sort

Okay, I'll just thumbnail the last few movies I've seen:

Cloud Atlas: Visually interesting. No idea what the plot was about, but it kept me watching through to the end with the hopes of finding out. Alas, I was never rewarded with a plot or a main character to root for. It was just a self-indulgent bit of movie-making that went for three hours (over two nights, as the wife and I had to stop half-way through on Saturday out of sleepiness).

Life of Pi: Completely pointless. No need to watch this "movie." It's a guy on a boat with a tiger.

Stuck in Love: An interesting little character-driven examination of love and trust and hope (and stupidity and idiocy). Nice acting all the way around, and the movie just had a certain kind of coziness to it that, done wrong, would have been a "blech" response

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Apple Watch

Okay, so Apple invented a watch, which is not really a ground-breaking thing to invent. A friend of mine strapped an iPod shuffle onto a strap a few years ago and invented an iWatch, if you will, which I thought was almost sorta cool at the time. I'm sure he wasn't the only one (if only because I've since become convinced that he probably bought the band somewhere, even though I've never seen them sold retail [and never looked]).

Would I wear an Apple watch? Sure. They're in my wheelhouse as far as watch-looking watches look (I currently wear daily Casio over-sized semi-digital "crush proof" watch which has a common name that I can't remember as I type this). I started wearing watches - again - after realizing that I was checking the time on my iPhone too often and irrationally fearing that I would drop it and shatter the screen (hence, maybe, the "crush proof" watch?).

Would I buy an Apple watch? Uhh, no. I don't even know why I upgraded my dumb phone to a smart phone all those years ago. The dumb phone did everything I needed it to do, and the smart phone now does everything I don't do with it, which includes using it as a phone. And, I pay a lot more for the privilege of having a phone that does tons of stuff I never do on it.

But, once-in-a-while, those apps do come in handy. Rarely. But, sometimes.

Now, if someone gave me an Apple watch, I'd wear it. Probably: as long as the battery kept it working from the time I put it on in the morning to the time I took it off at the end of the day. If it needed re-charging in-between, I'd be back to the Casio, which takes one battery every year or three.

I'm not sure where this wearable technology is going (there's Google Glass, for instance), but the tech world sure thinks we need to have access to info everywhere, all-the-time, even though most of us probably have little need for it. My guess is that until they can invent a chip that can be hard-wired into your skull and do all this unseen by others, few people will want it.

Although we'll see for sure next year when the Applephiles have the chance to get this gadget.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Walking Dead Gets Spin-off Series

It's official: AMC is moving forward with its companion series to mega-hit The Walking Dead. 
The network on Friday announced it has ordered a pilot episode of the project from Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and producers Gale Anne Hurd and Dave Alpert. As previously announced, Dave Erickson, who co-created and co-wrote the pilot with Kirkman, will serve as exec producer and showrunner.
Now, I like the show, but it's not a terribly well-written or well-plotted show, and I don't know if that's because it does or does not follow the comic book story (which I've never read). But, the show is just good enough that I happily watch it each episode.

Now, if you want a well-plotted, well-written story set in the zombie apocalypse, I shall point you to one: Cities of the Dead. That's a link to Amazon, but it's available at Barnes and Noble and everywhere eBooks are sold.

And a note to television producers who might look at my book and wonder how to translate it into a television show: I've already thought about how to do it, so contact me and I'll pitch it.

The New Strike Zone

Apparently, watching the watchers works:
Better incentives make better workers. As economist Edward Lazear has shown, organizations become more productive when a job well done is rewarded with extra money and dumb mistakes are punished. So we shouldn’t be surprised that, after the introduction of cameras, umpires have called the strike zone more consistently and more accurately each year since 2007
Now, if we could just find a way to do this to government.

Friday, September 05, 2014

What I'm Reading

Okay, at some point this year I basically stopped reading. Kinda. Sorta. Mostly. Usually, I've got a book or three going (and, really, I've kinda, sorta got two going, now), but for the last couple of months, I haven't been "reading. " Weird, I know.

Firstly, I've been reading Flight of the Eagle by Conrad Black for almost a year, now. It's a ten-thousand page long book about how the different presidents of America have used US diplomacy to forge the America we live in today. Interesting. Fascinating. And, too many details. So, like, three pages a day, maybe.

Secondly, I've been buying my fiction at the thrift shop, just because. I picked up a copy of William Gibson's Zero History because I liked some other stuff I've read by him. This book, though ... well, I'm about a third of the way through it (in, say, three months of reading) and it leaves me flat. I'm not sure what the story is about, and the characters are, well, not really worth the journey of finding out what the story is about. If you get my drift.

I'm also sort-of reading Gated, which was gifted to me by a neighbor who is related to the author and who knows I'm a writer. It's YA fiction, which leaves me flat, mostly. So far, no tension, and it's a thriller, of sorts. I get a page or four in every once-in-a-while.

So, my reading list is depressing my desire to read, because none of it really grabs me. What about you?

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

The Reset Button, Pushed

So, yesterday my kids went back to school and I couldn't believe another summer had evaporated so quickly. They seemed longer when I was younger. Pretty good summer, though: a week at Bethany Beach, MD, for the annual beach vacaction; a long weekend in Point Lookout, NY, for the end-of-sunmmer catch-up with an old flight school buddy and our families; a day of batting cages/mini-golf; a trip to a trampoline park the name-of-which-I-can't-rmember; and, a long weekend traveling by RV to Oshkosh, WI for the EAA airshow where I saw the Thunderbirds perform, which was cool.

Did I mention I wrote the first chapter to the third installment of The Divine World? I have to get back on the stick with that.

I also started doing P90X again. Today was plyo. Bleh. Although, I have to say, several years ago when I was doing it daily, I was in the best shape of my life and sporting a nice trim figure. Then I switched over to barbell training and became kinda strong but pudgy. We'll see where I am in 88 more days...