Friday, April 30, 2010

It’s a Happy Friday, Thanks Everyone

At the beginning of the year I had a bout of Writers Block. I posted about it here and got great advice as to how to get passed it.

Just to get the creative juices flowing I banged out a little short story, “The Genie and The Breadsticks”. When I started writing it I never intended to show it to anyone, just write a little piece to get back into the flow of writing.

When I read it after I finished I thought it was kind of good, so I didn’t delete but shared it with the readers of this blog and got positive feedback so I looked around to humor magazines and submitted it.

The Cynic Online Magazine liked it and accepted it.

I’d like to thank everyone who offered me advice for my Writers Block and let them know that because of their advice another one of my stories has been published. Thanks again.

Darrell B Nelson author of “Invasive Thoughts

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Writing Wednesday: A neat editing trick

Reading my own writing objectively is impossible for me. I get too caught up in my own stories and know what I meant to say instead of what I said to seriously break my writing down and look at it objectively.

I came across a tip, at IO9, that really helps. Use the find feature on your word processor.

The author suggested 4 things to look for:

1) Adverbs (look to make sure they are not overused) do this by searching for “ly”.
My adverb use is decent about one in every three paragraphs. But it caught the fact that all my characters use the word “Really” a lot. I’ve been using this to go back through and change this to make the characters talk different from each other.

2) “It” It is a very flexible pronoun and because of that it must be used carefully.
This is a problem of mine, although I mostly manage to keep it consistent within a sentence, I seriously overuse the word and using the find feature helps me correct this.

3) “There was” This is a pretty weak verb that some people easily put in place of the “real” action verb.
Luckily this isn’t a problem of mine, searching the first 5 chapters of my book I used it once. There was no reason for me to run that search (lol).

4) “Was Being” A common mixed tense phrase.
This is another common mistake that I don’t seem to make but I know a lot of writers do.

The really nice thing about using the find feature is not only does it catch what you are looking for but also it brings up random paragraphs that you can read and see if they make sense on their own. If they don’t they might need to fixed.

I’m really liking the results I’m getting using this technique and I’ve been trying more searches like character names to see if they are overused, pronoun searches to see if they are consistent within paragraphs and so on.

If anyone can think of other things to search for let me know. I’m amazed at how this simple thing has made my revisions so much easier and better.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: Hawking vs. Alien

Rarely do I get a chance to disagree with Stephen Hawkings, that’s my wife’s job (I can’t do math at that high a level). But he recently made a statement that I feel is wrong.

He said that we should avoid getting the attention of any Extra-Terrestrial Life because they might come to Earth to pillage us for our resources.

This might sound strange coming from the author of a book about Aliens taking over the Earth, but an advanced civilization wouldn’t need our resources. The Earth is a rich planet but as far as metals, gems, and minerals it can’t beat the asteroid belt.

A small asteroid 1-kilometer in diameter has more than twice the nickel/iron than we extract from the Earth’s crust in a year. All of the precious metals that we use for our industrial society originally came from asteroids hitting the Earth. So it would be foolish for an Alien society to raid our planet for stuff they would have to fly by to get.

If there is an advanced civilization close enough to worry about us the reason for them to come by and say, “Hi” is a little different. That reason comes from some of the mathematics done by Stephen Hawking.

In Newtonian Physics momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object (p = mv). If a one-ton object were to hit a planet the size of the Earth at one-third the speed of light, that planet would be broken to pieces.

Hawking looked at the effects that an object moving at that speed would have on space-time and noticed that it would cause gravimetric ripples. Currently we don’t have equipment sensitive enough to detect these ripples, but there is no physical reason they can’t be built.

Achieving the ability to send a spacecraft at one-third the speed of light would be the inter-stellar equivalent to nuclear power, it has great power that can be used for both good and evil.

In my book, Invasive Thoughts, the reason the Aliens came to Earth was to preemptively prevent us from developing this ability.

If there is an advanced civilization with inhibited planets within 100 light-years of Earth a major concern of theirs will be making sure we don’t use the power to send objects at one-third the speed of light at their planets. The best-case scenario is they will be like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and force us to abide to treaties we never took part of. The worst-case scenario is they just take over like in my book.

At the moment we are simply not worth the trouble for aliens to invade us, but in the next few centuries we could have the power to get their attention. The most likely way we’ll get the attention of an advanced civilization comes from something Hawking envisioned, a small stable black hole that “leaks” Hawking Radiation to power a spacecraft at near the speed of light.

So Hawking is wrong about Aliens wanting to invade for our resources, but they might invade to save themselves from something based on the equations done by Stephen Hawking.

Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Aborting Mohammed

When I was in college I lived in a house that was surrounded by three churches. In New England you can’t have three churches that close together without having them get into competition. Why? I don’t know the Catholics always won. Still they got the loudest bells possible to try and out do each other. They were so loud it wasn’t until Monday mornings that my ears would stop ringing.

In this same town we had a noise ordinance, so if one of our stereos was playing loud enough to be heard from the sidewalk, we would get a $250 fine.

When we asked why our neighbors could make enough noise to cause hearing damage, but we couldn’t listen to music at a loud enough volume so our damaged ears could hear it, we got the answer, “Because they are churches.”

Somehow in this country Judge Oliver Wendell Holmes declaration, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Doesn’t apply to matters of religion.

Comedy Central mangled the latest episode of South Park because of death threats from radical Islamists. Earlier this year Elected Representatives were called baby killers for not putting language in the Healthcare Bill that would stop women from buying, with their own money, insurance that covered abortions. The Obama administration is fighting the ruling that a national day of prayer violates the establishment clause, which it does.

Then there is gay marriage, not allowing two people to get married because some religious orders, not all, don’t approve.

If you want to be religious that’s fine, but your religion has to stop where my nose begins. You can deny evolution all you want, but when it comes to teaching science don’t force kids to be stupid. You can say that missionary position is the only way god approves of sex, but don’t get between another couple having sex in a different position unless you’re going to join them. You can feel that sex before marriage is against your religion, but don’t force that view on kids from other religions that don’t share that view, and stop them from getting real sex-ed.

So to all the people that think their religion is a reason to tell me how to live my life I say, “Shut up Stupid, Your right to swing your fist in religious anger ends where my nose begins.”

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fantastic Present

The cool thing about science is it is all based on observation. The more something is observed the more you can find out about it. As long as the observer has an open mind and reports things as they really are and not how they’d like them to be then anyone can help advance science.

The big thing is directing peoples focus to science projects. That’s where Science for Citizens helps. It allows everyone to post science projects and get involved with science, making this a fantastic present (as well as future).

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Writing Wednesday: Too Much Pressure

Ack!! I’m closing in on the 40,000-word mark of my latest novel. The characters are in their final stages of their transformation from being dysfunctional in their own opposite ways to being the well-rounded emotional beings that can take on the evil ones. I’ve got 4 chapters to finish this transformation or about 10,000 words then I can start the action filled finale that will be 15,000 to 20,000 words.

At the same time I need to pump up promoting my book, plant the garden, finish all the spring projects around the house and I’m being asked to put in more hours at work.

Plus, the world keeps insisting on doing things that I feel compelled to blog about.

One nice thing is writing is supposed to relieve stress.

Darrell B Nelson author of "Invasive Thoughts".

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: The SEC

The SEC (Securities Exchange Commission) has finally, finally brought civil charges against Goldman-Sacs. To sum up the case Goldman-Sacs made mortgage derivatives that they knew would fail (legal) and sold them to their investors (legal) and used their own money to bet against them (legal) but didn’t disclose in the prospectuses that might bet against the securities they were selling (illegal).

I’ve actually had to deal with the SEC and when the company I worked for was audited there was only one criteria, our prospectuses needed to be self consistent. That was it, we didn’t need to show any proof of what we were selling only that the prospectuses didn’t contradict themselves. At the time I thought it was down right amazing that any company got caught, and they did bag one of our competitors each year.

In order to go farther than that an investor would actually have to start the investigation themselves and provide evidence that we didn’t attempt to honor our prospectus, in our case it was oil wells and if we drilled the number of holes we said we would more than 200ft (below the water table) we were legally clear.

Amazingly, we were under STRICTER rules than big banks like Goldman-Sacs. They were able to legally pick who would be investigating them.

It was no secret then that the large investment firms were doing things to rip off their customers, The classic rounding scheme was to delay processing customers orders for several minutes (credit checks and the like) and when the computers saw enough orders to push the price of the stock up they would buy large amounts of that stock so when the customers orders went through they would be buying at a higher price, giving the investment firms a quick 1-2% profit. Sometimes the day-traders would pick up on this and send the price even higher so a stock could bounce 5-10% in a few hours and the investment firm could pull out at the top pocketing the cash, the day traders would do the same and the stock would be back to where it started. The wild ride the stock took during the day would actually devalue the stock in the future. So as good investors invested in good companies the investment firms would work to devalue those companies.

They could get away with this because no one was allowed to examine their accounting books. If Bernie Maddoff had his books looked over for 10 minutes a CPA fresh out of college would be able catch what he was doing. The scheme I described wouldn’t be able to take place. And closer to home for me, they would have caught the fact that my boss was spending more than our 50% administration cost on personal stuff.

It wouldn’t need to be a lengthy investigation, an allowing an accountant a few hours per $10 million raised for investment projects would make investment companies put some effort into being crooked. And if they had to work to make money crookedly they might want to put that work into doing it legitimately.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: My mom’s horrible children

I love my mom dearly and I’ve had a continuing fear about something that our legal system could do to her.

I’ve known for a long time about the horrible laws and hospital rules aimed at gays and lesbians to punish them for being loving human beings, that could also impact people like my mom. This post on “The Swivet” (also see the above post) reinforced my nightmare.

Under the old laws my sister and I are horrible children for moving thousands of miles away from my mother, even though she has dozens of close friends and is quite happy keeping in contact with us through the phone and email.

Under the old laws, hospitals could bar everyone who wasn’t immediate family from visiting a sick person. So the fact that my sister and I live in different states from my mom would mean if she were to get a prolonged illness the only company that the hospital was forced to let her see would be the two of us when we could travel up to see her. So there was a real possibility that she could die alone with all her possessions taken by the state. All due to laws aimed at punishing gays and lesbians for the audacity to pick a partner out of love instead of peer pressure.

With the new regulation that President Obama signed my nightmare is relieved a bit. Now a person can sign a statement saying who they want to visit them in the hospital so not only does this regulation give partners of gays and lesbians more rights than that persons household pet as opposed to less, it also gives basic human rights to people whose family has moved away or died.

Now if my mom gets a prolonged illness, she can have one of her many friends visit her in hospital and give her a link to the outside world. I don’t have to worry about her being locked away not given the minimum shred of human dignity that a human being is entitled to.

Allowing sick people this minimum human right is well worth it, even if it means allowing people to go unpunished for the crime of not being a sociopath and actually loving someone.

So to anyone who don’t approve of this new regulation and think that people whose families don’t live in same town should be made to sacrifice their basic human dignity in order to punish gays and lesbians for crime of picking a partner out of love, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, everyone has the right to have someone with them in their final hours.”

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Kick Asteroids

It’s not Friday but stuff comes up.

It’s been interesting reading all the Buzz about President Obama’s new plans for NASA. They cover a wide range of… well, lets call them ideas.

First I need to throw in a few facts:

Obama was born in Hawaii, not the moon. This is not an attempt to hide his birth records.

Obama didn’t cancel the Space Shuttle, GW Bush did that.

The Shuttle didn’t have a replacement vehicle ready when GW Bush announced its retirement because Bill Clinton cut the funding for research into a replacement vehicle.

Obama actually increased NASA’s budget to the point where they can get useful work done. He didn’t “gut” NASA as some republicans say.

In order to keep the Shuttle flying it would need a major upgrade, taking it out of service for at least a year.

NASA has always had one huge problem, it’s a government agency that is directed by the President. So it has to work on an 8-year time frame. Unfortunately science doesn’t like short timeframes.

An other problem it has is its funding is dictated by congress. Which means, technical decisions are often overturned by idiots.

The Constellation program to replace the Shuttle was given some severe handicaps. It had to be built using parts from the Space Shuttle, this was not a technical decision but a political decision geared to keep the same people who work on the Space Shuttle working on Constellation.

A lot of the early costs of Constellation were due to the fact they were trying to use the existing hardware in ways that it was never designed for. A lot of the original budget went to trying to get the Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSME) to work as a second stage when they were designed to fired up on the ground. Finally they went with the RS-68 engines which were built using the research that went into SSME, but were designed to be simpler and could be used as a second stage.

Although it seemed to make sense to build the Ares rockets using existing parts, most of those parts were designed in the 70s with a single purpose in mind.

By canceling the Constellation program and starting fresh NASA can build a heavy lift rocket that uses parts designed later that are more versatile. Like the RS-83 which was designed to replace the SSME but had its funding canceled when the decision to keep the Shuttle flying long after its intended lifespan was made.

So Obama’s decision will probably push the future of US manned space exploration back a few years but his successor in 2016 will have a lot more tools at their disposal.

Increasing the funding to COTS (commercial orbital transport services) will boost the private sector space exploration and should have private companies have at least one rocket that can lift the Orion capsule to orbit (if the Dragon Capsule doesn’t work). Whereas the Ares I probably wouldn’t be ready by that time.

The development of newer rocket engines will make it possible to design a heavy lift launcher with a much lower cost per pound and reliability.

So the next president will have a space program based on hardware developed in the 21st century as opposed to hardware developed in the 60s and 70s.

As far as Obama’s stated goals, they don’t really matter. Without an absolutely huge amount of funding like the amount used on the war on drugs, or the war on terrorism NASA wouldn’t be able to have a manned space program during his presidency. So instead of stating a goal for his replacement to cancel (like most presidents) he decided to leave the goal for next president and give them the tools to get it done.

I would personally like everything to be done, now. But as it’s unlikely the war on drugs or the war on terrorism will be canceled tomorrow this approach will leave NASA and manned space flight stronger in the next administration. So if the next President decides to go to the moon, or an asteroid, or even Mars by 2024. NASA will have the tools to make that happen.

Just like how if Eisenhower hadn’t formed NASA and done a great job in combining all of America’s many different rocket programs, Kennedy wouldn’t have been able to set the goal of sending a man to the Moon in a decade; The next president will have several rocket options available all based on 21st century technology.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Writing Wednesday: It is the worst of Times, It is the Best of Times

Ever since my book, “Invasive Thoughts” was accepted by PublishAmerica I’ve tried to give myself a crash course in book promotion. I thought it was more important to learn this going through PublishAmerica than with other publishers as PublishAmerica states that they DO NOT do more than the most minimum promotion.

After reading what other authors have to say on book promotion I found that yes going through PublishAmerica does leave you behind the curve, but not much. A big Publisher will give a first time author a $2,000 advance and spend another $2,000 in promotion themselves. So I am $4,000 in promotion behind the big guys.

That’s not much considering it’s mostly the author getting the word out themselves and the free promotions do more than the stuff you pay for. So I researched free promotions and what authors had to say about them.

Book Signings, Some authors think they are great, some find them a waste of time.

Radio Interviews, Some authors think they are great, some think they actually hurt.

Giving your writing away free, Some authors feel the exposure is worth it, Some feel they are giving away their valuable writing.

One thing all authors agree on is the individual book needs its own website as well as the author’s site. So now I have another site “Invasive Thoughts” where I will talk only about my book. So far I’ve got information about the book, Some of the Easter Eggs I put in the book and Questions and Answers to what interviewers ask. I’ll hopefully expand on all of those.

As far as book signings that is an area where a bigger publisher would be an advantage as I’ve read a lot of times the bookstore “forgets” to order your book and you need to have a few copies on hand.

I’m trying to line up some Radio Interviews but haven’t gotten any responses yet.

Finally, giving away my writing, I earn between $0.05 and $20 for my writing right now so I’m happy to give it away. I’m looking around for sites that want it.

The great and horrible thing I have found about book promotion is that the publishing industry is in complete chaos and nobody knows what works right now. So I have as much chance of hitting the winning formula as anyone else.

So right now is the greatest time to have a new book out and the worst time to have a new book out.

Darrell B Nelson
Author of “Invasive Thoughts”

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: The Terminator Movies

Looking at the Terminator movies and all the contradictions in them, I have found a simple explanation for all of them. Identity Theft.

Jose Barrera was the original savior of mankind and John Connor was a putz.

Terminator 1: The machines are no match for Jose’s forces

In the first movie Reese told Sarah Connor that humanity had the machines on the run and sending the Terminator back in time to kill her was the machines final “Hail Mary Pass”. If they didn’t kill her then the machines would be doomed and humanity would win.

He traveled back in time to save her with only her name and an old photograph, taken by a Mexican boy, to guide him. That Mexican boy was Jose Barrera.

In the future, Jose had grown up met with all the humans who could launch a resistance to the machines and overthrew them. He had an old Polaroid of some chick named Sarah Connor that had stopped by his Uncle’s gas station one day. During his adolescent days he used to use it for fantasy material.

Letting Skynet know of his true identity would endanger everyone in the resistance so he took her last name and added “John” to it. Thus the identity of John Connor was born.

As Jose broke down Skynet they used the last of their resources to send the T-800 back in time to kill Sarah Connor. Jose thought, “Check and Mate.” Unfortunately, he had an assistant that was too impatient and he only kept him around for laughs. The assistant’s name was Kyle Reese.

Reese followed the T-800 back in time determined to stop him, as Jose hadn’t filled him in on the game plan.

Reese did stop the T-800, fathered the real John Connor who didn’t exist before, and convinced Sarah Connor that her son would grow up to be the savior of humanity. This changed the timeline.

John Connor was born and Sarah Connor spent the his early years training him to be “a great military leader.” Unfortunately, he was still a putz. He did manage to lead a band of rebels, but he led them badly. This wasted the resources that Jose had used in the original timeline, so the victory over the machines was delayed long enough for the machines to develop the T-1000.

Terminator 2: John Connor betrays Jose

Jose still managed to defeat Skynet despite the fact that John Connor was using up his resources with bad strategies. Jose realizes that victory would have happened much sooner if John Connor wasn’t around. So he reprograms a T-1000 to take care of this torn in his side.

The added benefit of this plan was if the T-1000 could destroy the parts from the T-800 that were left behind the original invention of Skynet would be placed back on track saving humanity a decade of warfare.

John Connor didn’t like that idea and as Jose was on the verge of defeating the machines he sent a T-850 back in time to save his younger self, not only to save his life but to make him the top dog in the future without the machines.

His plan works and 10-year-old John Connor stops spending all his time at Orgies in Mike Kripke’s basement and devotes his life to stopping the machines.

Terminator 3: The rise of John Connor

Because of the events in the previous movies, John Connor becomes able to be a powerful military leader, but still a putz. Under his leadership victory is delayed and the machines are able to create the TX. They even have the spare resources to make it growl when faced with momentary set-backs.

After easily killing John Connor in battle, the machines know this putz wasn’t the brains behind the operation to overthrow them; but Jose is too crafty to let them know his true position in the resistance so they send the TX back in time to kill all the people who partook in the Orgies in Mike Kripke’s basement, except for Mike Kripke oddly enough.

The TX shoots Jose Barrera times and severely wounds him, but doesn’t kill him. He goes to the hospital in a sheltered part of LA and survives the nuclear holocaust but the radiation cripples him, leaving him only able to play a minor role in the resistance.

Katherine Brewster, a survivor of the initial nuclear holocaust, had tried to hook up with Jose but was unsuccessful so settled for John Connor. Her hopes of marriage to her boyfriend Scott were sidetracked by the nuclear war. She realizes her only hope to be first lady of the new world order lays in having John Connor be the leader of humanity, even if it prolongs humanities struggle, so she sends the T-880 back in time to secure her position as leader.

This leads to the all out war in Terminator 4 wiping out most of humanity, instead of the stealth warfare in the original timeline that had humanity suffer for a decade or so.

So the Terminator movies do make sense, but only if John Connor’s is a complete smuck and Katherine Brewster is willing to sacrifice most of humanity, billions of lives, in order to be queen of the remaining survivors.

Darrell B. Nelson

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Tax Time Edition

My buddy Grant Lawrence over at Bodhi Thunder posted this mind blowing graph which solidified a few things I had been thinking about:

Original Source trueslant

I’ve heard a lot of Conservatives (Most who make less than $50,000) complaining that under Obama’s tax policy half of the US population, those making under $50,000 a year, won’t pay any federal income tax. Their complaint seems to be that taking the section of the US population that has 2.5% of the countries wealth off the tax rolls turns this country into a “secular, socialist machine" in the words of Newt Gingrich.

The federal income tax on the bottom third of the country has from the beginning been a social engineering tool, you pay in a small percentage of your wages and then get it back, so as you move up the economic ladder to the point you do start paying in it’s barely noticeable. Obama has merely pushed this up so the bottom half, instead of a third get all their money back.

How this is part of a “secular” machine is beyond me, but as far as the “Socialist” complaint I can address that.

Taking 2.5% of the nations wealth off the tax rolls won’t do jack to affect the Federal Budget, even if they were taxed at 18% that would still only send less than half a percent of the nations wealth to the federal government, a raise of 1.3% on taxes on the top 1% would more than cover it.

The top 1% of the nation will be paying their fair share because they get more benefits from the government. Besides the direct corporate welfare in the form of subsidies to industries, businesses in America get a lot of benefits, like stability, a fairly educated workforce (although that has been under attack) and cheap oil.

Having the bottom half of the country not paying Federal Income Tax so they can spend more on things they need (and not revolting) is not socialism it is a way to balance out who pays for the benefits of our society.

So to all the people upset about Obama’s tax cuts for the bottom 95% of the country and making it so the bottom half don’t pay any federal taxes at all, especially those making under $50,000 a year, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, putting money in the hands of people who need it most helps the country to be stronger.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Swarm Intelligence

In a lot of my writing I like to look at engineering projects of vast scale, like placing the planet Mercury in the shadow of a 10,000 square kilometer solar panel placed at the Lagrange point between the Sun Mercury.

Projects on this scale are beyond human’s ability to do using current construction management techniques. The details and logistics would either simply overwhelm the planners or slow the project down to the point it would take generations to complete. So in order for it to be done in a reasonable time, a new way of getting things done needs to be developed.

Like most things nature has already beat us to the answer. If you take the common ant that crawls along your kitchen floor it's pretty retarded. In the movie Antz they showed a fairly realistic depiction of an individual ant’s intelligence when a line of ants were walking through the forest and a leaf fell down breaking the line in half. The first ant that came to the leaf screamed out, “I’m lost!”

As retarded as these ants are as individuals they manage to build incredible colonies that are as complex as some of our greatest cities. They do this through something called Swarm Intelligence.

Instead of the Central Planning models that humans use they have a very simple pattern of “If-Then” commands that they use. If they run across a path laid down by another ant they follow it. If that ant has found food it will leave a stronger path as it moves back and forth between the food and colony. This attracts more ants to the path who follow it to the food making the path a stronger attractant, getting more ants to follow it to the food. This feedback continues until the food source is swarmed and no more ants can get to the food. At this point the second set of If-Then statements kicks in and the newest ants see they can’t get at the food and resume scavenging for more food. All of this is done with no central planning just individuals carrying out some very simple instructions.

This same concept could be used by humans to do huge projects, like strip-mining the Moon, on a very short time scale.

With 3-D printing, the ability to take the raw molecules and place them molecule by molecule on top of each other to build complex machines, and simple computer chips the Moon could be strip mined in a generation.

A small ship could bring a 3-D printer and crude refiner, and the raw materials to build a few explorer/mining robots. These robots would look for the raw materials to build more explorer/mining robots. When one of them found a rich source of materials the others could follow mining it and bringing it back to the refiner that would turn the raw ore into material to make more explorer/mining robots.

When the refiner got a backlog of raw ore it would trigger the 3-D printer to make another refiner, then go back to making explorer/mining robots. When the amount of refined material became too great the 3-D printer would make a carbon copy of itself that the explorer/mining robots would take along with a refiner to the richest source of raw ore. This process would continue without any human intervention.

As they built more and more copies of themselves they would spread across the Moon turning the raw ore into highly processed materials that could then be used by humans, without humans having to take part in the mining process.

This idea of Swarm Intelligence could be modified to practically any massive scale engineering project and transform the entire Solar System into a playground for humanity. That will lead to a fantastic future.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Author vs. Writer

I foolishly thought that being a Writer and being an Author was the same thing. I have found out they are very, very different things needing almost opposite skills.

As a writer you envision your own little world and move in, totally ignoring the real world around you. You need to be happy being alone with your thoughts in order to get those thoughts on to paper. The very definition of an introvert.

As an Author you have to sell your book to everyone you meet, shamelessly self promoting yourself to strangers and friends alike. The very definition of an extrovert.

I’ve sold other peoples stuff in the past and had no problem, but when it comes to pushing my own novel I feel like I’m being pushy. I’ve read from other authors that they feel the same way.

One effective way that I know of to promote yourself without being pushy is with a business card. Nobody minds getting a business card, at worse they’ll just toss it in the nearest trash can, but if they are interested they have a way to find out more.

So I put together a cheap card and I’ll start handing them out to everyone I meet. Hopefully it will get some people interested to look at my book. If not I’ll have wasted a whole $5 and people will wonder if I’m the real life Patrick Bateman from American Psycho.

I’m trying to come up with other low cost ways to promote my book, without being obnoxious. If anyone has any ideas please let me know.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Temper Tantrum Tuesday: Spring

You’re probably wondering how I can bitch about Spring, everyone loves the Springtime.

I’m not so much bitching about Springtime just a lack of it. Back in the North Country New York spring would be a time when the temperature would be in the 50s and 60s and the snow would still be on the ground in some places. This weather would last from the end of March to the beginning of May. Plenty of time to adjust from winter to summer.

Now, I live in Kentucky and Spring lasts from the end of March to the beginning of April. So now we are into Summer, and I have to do the millions of things around the house to be summer ready.

The garden needs tilling, the grass needs mowing, the AC units have to be put in the windows, I have to set-up the solar hot water heater, and sometime before the temperatures get so high I have to seal the house back up I need to strip, stain and varnish the hardwood floors in the kitchen.

All of this is a pain and I wish I had the few months to do it in like I had up north, instead of the couple weeks I have down here.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Angelina Jolie and PETA

Sometimes stupid rises to a new level, and the story of Angelina’s new purse made of horsehair really pushes the envelope for stupid.

If you haven’t heard about this, good for you. You’ve spared your brain from some idiotic swill. Basically Angelina received a gift of an Akris ecru horsehair bag, a bag made from horsehair. PETA raised a fuss over that.

I had two ponies when I was young, so I know I little bit more than I want to about horsehair. Horses and Ponies grow a winter coat of hair during the winter just like dogs and many other animals. In the spring they shed this coat, with dogs the amount hair can be annoying, with horses and ponies the hair filled the barn in the spring and we had to rake it up (not a metaphor we had to use an actual rake) and put it out in a pile for the birds to use for their nests.

For the longer hair on their manes they got mats and tangles just like human hair and had to either be braided or cut to stay straight. My one pony loved having his hair braided and tied off with red ribbons. He would prance around all proud for a few days after. My other pony would do everything possible to get rid of the braids so we ended up giving him a trim instead.

Making a bag or any other garment out of horsehair is merely taking the hair that would have to be thrown away and using it for another purpose, if it replaces fur all the better.

So to anyone upset over Angelina Jolie accepting a horsehair bag I say, “Shut-up Stupid, the horsehair is something you get from taking care of your horse.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

Fantastic Future Friday: Easter Edition

Easter is a time to celebrate the original Zombie Holocaust, idea that someone could die and be revived as the living dead three days later. But can it happen in real life?

The answer turns out to be yes. Between Embryonic Stem Cell research, cell cloning, and nano-technology medical researchers are finding new ways to replace dead cells and organs with new ones that are made the persons own cells and therefore don’t need to have intensive anti-rejection drug therapy.

But what about the brain? What good is having a perfect body and nothing upstairs, so to speak? Outside of being a Republican spokeswoman.

Alzheimer’s researchers have found out that like most things in science the death of brain cells is far more interesting than we originally thought. It turns out brain cells don’t just go from being live cells to dead cells, when they first “die” they merely turn themselves off and go dormant. When they go dormant they stop receiving “nerve growth factor” or NGF and act dead. When given NGF these “dead” brain cells come back to life. Using nano-technology it should be possible to administer NGF directly into the dead brain cells and revive them.

With the ability to replace organs throughout the body and revive the brain it should soon be possible to revive a person who has been dead for awhile, under the right circumstances. So the classic horror tale that we celebrate at this time of year of someone dieing and coming back to life three days later could become a reality.

As we push back against finality of death, it will lead to a fantastic future.