Monthly Archives: September 2013

Patty Murray Gives Biden a Run for His Money

AS THE STUPIDEST man in the Senate when she says Congress wouldn’t be such a mess if women were in charge.

Such as… Nancy Pelosi? Oh, well, she’s not in charge at the moment, right. And thank God for that.

But it also occurs to me to ask, “You mean they’re not?” Ried? Boehner? A couple of more girls-blouse wimps I can’t imagine.

By the way… Local readers will know this but you national and international folk may not — Boehner’s being primaried. Guy’s name is Eric Gurr. Just FYI.

Quote of the Day

Only a child, a moron, or a Democrat could believe that you could take a system as complex as medical care/insurance, impose a collectivist solution to a non-existent problem upon it, and expect the markets to function as before, only this time cheaper.

— Michael Walsh at PJ Media

Oh, Please, Br’er Fox!

PLEASE DON’T TOSS ME in that briar patch!

So… I Got Squirrelled Yesterday

cvr hi-t sm 0913BY AN INTERESTING post and discussion of Human Wave self-and-mutual promotion over at Sarah Hoyt’s blog (not to mention grocery shopping, which seems to take it out of me more than it should), so I didn’t get nearly all the work done on re-drafting Chapter 3 of The High T Affair, but I’m real close, now.

In the meantime, I had a few bored minutes near the end of the day and I opened up the cover art, which I’ve been staring at on and off for the requisite days, in Photoshop and messed around with a few things at the margin — mostly adding a muzzle flash to Dolly’s gun and putting the old map of the East family demesne in the background. The whole overall still looks to action-adventury and cartoony to me, and not enough dark-and-gritty urban science fantasy-y. But, as I review each characteristic, I don’t see an alternative that moves in that direction. So — to quote Pooh — bother.

The question cropped up in the above-alluded-to discussion, “Why is this work Human Wave?” Good question, and more than a little bothersome. But, here goes.

First off, the lead character in the Baby Troll Chronicles, the eponymous Baby Troll (a.k.a., Gabrielle Francesca “Dolly” East) is an anarchist. She doesn’t think so — she may be the most relentlessly apolitical character you’ll ever meet. But she is. As I describe her (in the perspective of her lover, Mitchell Cary Drummond), she is a teleological chaos machine. But she also resents anything or anyone who gets in her way, which makes her a natural anarchist, even if she wouldn’t respond to the description. So, while not a libertarian per se, she acts in a manner that reflects a core belief in the supremacy of the individual human mind.

She gets that in large part from Drummond. While she is the reincarnation of the Hero of a Thousand Generations, in this lifetime, her early development was greatly influenced not only by Drummond himself, but by his influences. In her time as a dolly (whence comes her nickname), she was confined largely to Drummond’s Over the Rhine loft in Cincinnati and limited for her input to Drummond’s cable subscription and his library, which took up an entire floor of his building. She had to struggle to deal with books that, in many cases, were larger than she, but there were so many of them. And, from Adam Smith to Ayn Rand, Lysander Spooner to Murray Rothbard, she steeped in the philosophers of liberty.

And put her own spin on it.

And Drummond is a dyed-in-the-wool libertarian. Agonizes over it. Goes overboard in his respect for individual autonomy to the point he wonders whether he has the right to urge Dolly to get medical treatment.

And the larger situation. Upothesa, the vast, global conspiracy to which both owe fealty of a sorts is a supra-national un-governed organization. Involved in commerce, it almost inevitably engages in smuggling, albeit never of arms, drugs, or humans. Being supra-national and pre-existing all nations, it has little respect for government and goes its own way on the “Do what you like, just don’t let the policeman on the corner see you doing it” principle.

Upothesa started back in the Stone Age as a partnership between Gods and a family of Men. Since the Twilight of the Gods, which began with Zarathustra and continues to this day, the Gods themselves have diminished and Men have become greater. At the time in which Dolly and Drummond swim in these waters, great changes in the power structures of Upothesa portend. I can’t say much without spoilage, but the Trolls — traditionally very xenophobic — have begun to admit select members of other hominid species into their secret worlds. Gods are increasingly withdrawing from the daily affairs of Upothesa. There is a great conflict brewing between Trolls and Elves. And the very edifice of Upothesa is threatened. All of which means that mankind — if it can sieze the day — faces a future fraught with possibility.

The very definition of the Human Wave.

Not that I intended it. When I began writing the Dolly stories fourteen years ago this winter, the Human Wave wasn’t even a glimmer in Sarah Hoyt’s eyes, though in retrospect, it would seem to be inevitable. But, then, historical moments almost always do. But, as I think on it and work through the issues of getting the stories on the page and screen, it seems a natural fit. Mankind is shedding its gods and marching toward a future in which we must stand alone, masters of our own destiny. That’s Human Wave. That’s why the Baby Troll Chronicles are Human Wave.

WTF IS Obama Smoking?

THE ACA IS HELPING businesses deal with the escalating cost of — not health care, but health insurance (which, we’ve pointed out myriad times before is NOT insurance)? I suppose. If shedding the cost onto the taxpayer is dealing with it. But… really? That’s the best you can do?

Insufficient Evidence Even

FOR AN INDICTMENT, let alone a conviction.

So. When will the prosecutor be brought up on charges? How about the original trial judge?

Hey, Democrats!

THE SECOND AMENDMENT is not only the Law of the Land, it’s the SUPREME Law of the Land.

So get out your checkbook, Senator. Belly up to the cash register, Congressman. The fine for civil rights violations under color of law is $10,000. That’s FOUR zeroes.

Or did you not vote for an “assault weapons” ban?

Let’s hear no more of this witlessness on the matter of the flatly un-constitutional, deeply flawed, overwhelmingly unpopular, (and mendaciously-named) — scorn quotes — “Affordable Care Act.”

ONBTW: We the People think a government shut-down would be a Good Thing.

On The One Hand, I Agree With Warren Buffet

ON THE OTHER HAND, I think he’s full of it. He begins with a fallacy when he says, “We have a health system that, in terms of costs, is really out of control.” I’m sorry, “WE” don’t have shit. “WE” needn’t and probably shouldn’t (though I’m chary of using the word should) have anything — in common. Each of us is unique, has our own needs, wants, desires, diseases, and foibles. Nor should it be any different.That’s the way God planned it, to quote that old song. (Yes, boomers, it is an old song. Get over it.) Why any one-size-fits-all solution (if solution it is) should be put forward in the first place ought to make you suspect any such and anyone who WOULD put it forward. If you get my drift.

And that leads to the flaw in this thinking:

“Attack the costs first, and then worry about expanding coverage,” he said. “I would much rather see another plan that really attacks costs. And I think that’s what the American public wants to see. I mean, the American public is not behind this bill.”

Why anyone so well enriched by the market should be so ignorant of how markets work is beyond amazing and falls into the flabbergastion zone. It is, in matter of fact, the very attacks on the pricing and distribution of medical goods and services that has so badly distorted the market, so horribly perverted incentives in the market, as to put all but the most basic care beyond the reach of ordinary Americans. (Or so they think.) And the NUMBER ONE cause is the use of — so-miscalled (scorn quotes) — “insurance”.

Are you aware that a little less than half of what you spend or is spent on your behalf on medical goods and services goes, not to pay for those services, but to pay for insurance, including (but not limited to) the overhead (call it an unfunded mandate) required to DEAL WITH insurance? (Pardon me: “insurance.” (It’s not.))

If you really want to lower the costs of medicine and medical care, here’s the prescription.

1. Eliminate tax deductions for “employer-paid” “insurance” coverage. (And, as you do, admit that it is neither employer-paid NOR insurance. Make it WELL known that, if the value of the labor were not there, the “insurance” would not be available, and that if it is, the employee is better off getting the price of the insurance in his pay packet.)

2. End Medicare and Medicaid. (Pay subsidies to those who really need it. Pay them from the general fund, as an on-budget item. Get rid of the slush funds that politicians use to buy votes, but which otherwise only warp the marketplace out of all reason.)

3. Allow “Major Medical” carriers to sell across state lines. (Yes, it’s a blow to states rights. Boo hoo. They shouldn’t be allowed to meddle in the buying options of the people regardless. Think of it as a counter-blow FOR the rights of the People.)

4. Remove tax disincentives for savings, including medical savings accounts. (Don’t try to incentivize or subsidize them; just get the Hell out of the way and let the People solve what government has broken. Trust me; they will.)

5. Run a clock on the FDA. Enough with the endless delays and blockage of new drugs and devices. (Better yet: privatize the whole thing. Follow the UL model. Give the regulators incentives to ALLOW, rather than block, new drugs and devices.)

6. Having limited the time it takes to GET a patent on a drug, push for quicker generics. (Lantus insulin is out of patent. Why is there no generic long-acting insulin glargine? (Hint: it’s a three-letter agency of the government.))

7. Two words: tort reform. (‘Nuff said.)

There might be more. Probably is. But this would be a good start. Problem is there are too few opportunities for fraud, graft, corruption, and vote-buying in it. But youthepeople would be well-advised to, if you DON’T get this or something very much like it, to vote ALL the bastards out of office. At least.

The World According to Vlad

BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, there’s all those people all over the world struggling to get in to Russia.

This Business Will Chew You Up and Spit You Out

IF IT WERE ABOUT THE MUSIC, these guys would still be a band, touring, and making records. But it’s not, and more’s the pity. There’s a good deal more business than music in the music business. Some might say it’s best that way. Only the strong survive. The problem is that the wrong strengths are selected for. The talent, sensitivity, creativity, ability, and heart get abraded away until all you get are the ones who can stand that, or have only that which can withstand all the bullshit you have to go through just to work at your art.

I love this song. Of all the numbers on their eponymous album, it’s the one that can make me cry, singing along with Natasha: …When going home feels like movin’ on. But the rest show an abundance of talent, sensitivity, creative ability, and heart on the part of everyone in the band. Watching their concert footage makes you understand how much joy they took from playing music together.

It was their misfortune to get caught up in a time of transition, in a foreign country, held hostage to corporate maneuverings, and so ground down that, I would suspect, the tax that the business side levies against the creative side just got to be too much. I’ve seen it happen a brazilian times over my forty-plus years in the music business. You have to be tough to make it in this business we call show — not even to the top: just to make it to where you can earn a living at it can take all you’ve got.

Of course, things are better, now. For one, it’s becoming possible for musicians of independent spirit to make a living without a major label contract. Not easy, mind, but possible. In fact, the members of Bering Strait are building careers, together and separately, either as independent artists or on boutique labels, courtesy of the Internet and the indie music scene.

Which bodes well, I think, for all manner of artists. The future seems bright with promise for artists and those who would partake of the art, the music, the cinema, the literature. In the future, we may look back on this as a watershed moment when everything changed in ways we couldn’t anticipate beforehand, but saw as nearly inevitable afterwards.

Overheard at the Patch Factory, Thursday, September 12, 2013

“JUST CLOSE THE CAGE DOOR and walk away.”

Have to say, it’s probably the most sage advice I’ve heard in many a long year.

Now I Have to Stare at It For a Few Days

cvr hi-t 0913BUT, FOR THE MOMENT at least, it answers most of my concerns about earlier design attempts. Click through the category link to compare and contrast the changes.

Ohmigod

I JUST CHANGED the entire first quarter of my novel. In one of those Disney moves. You know, where the painbrush waves across the screen like a magic wand and — hey! presto! — the scene changes from winter to spring in a waterfall of paint colors. The challenge is to make all the changes in two chapters. OK. Not a quarter. A Twelfth. But still… By next Sunday.

Think I can do it?

And, yes, it should improve things immensely. First Reader agrees it should be an improvement in pacing, if nothing else.

I Remember Back in the Early ’70s

JOHN W. CAMPBELL, shortly before he died, saying something to the effect of, “All those space-ships and time-travel and telepathy, and not one of us anticipated the digital computer.”

And it’s true. Even as late as 1964-65, when Heinlein was inventing that Dinkum Thinkum, Mike, one gets the impression that computers a hundred years down the road would still be made of massive steel frames holding racks and rows of racks of vacuum tubes manipulating limited computing resources in an arcane art and science managed by engineer-priests.

And, even so, the state of the art just then was the DEC PDP11, if memory serves. The VAX, 8088, and the microcomputer were still in the future.

My point being not to disparage the greats of the Golden Age of science fiction, but to point out (for the billionth time) the futility of trying to predict surprises in so chaotic a space as the enterprises of men.

You wanted a flying car? How about a flying truck?

Play with that notion for a moment. How far down the — pun intended — road do you suppose this development will come? Get ready to defend your flyover rights.

Two Stars Who Last Had Shows

IN THE DISCO ’70S inform the American people that the reason Hollywood isn’t speaking out more stridently is because they’re afraid of being labeled racists for criticizing The Won.

Live by the race card, die by the race card.

(Hat tip: Ace)

How I Spent My End-of-Summer Vacation

cvr hi-t 0813SO I TOOK A COUPLE of extra days off to extend the three-day weekend to five. Days, that is. My intent was to, by the end of the weekend, have a copy of my ebook edition of The High T Affair that I could send to beta readers, and to have made contact with all those who have volunteered or been roped into volunteering to beta-read this thing. (Apparently, none of them read BTB on a holiday weekend or they haven’t taken the hint, because none of them have gotten in touch with me.)

Well, just after bedtime on Tuesday (before going back to work at the Patch Factory on Wednesday), I have a nearly-perfect conversion (sans table-of-contents and with an extra scene separator) to show around. Yay, me.

So, the first lesson here is to never give up until you win. Because you will always — ALWAYS — lose until you win. So, if you give up before you win, guess what? You lose. And that, my dear readers, may just be the canonical definition of a loser: someone who gives up before they win.

Take me, for example. At dinnertime, I was in the depths of despair. I had been beaten by a primitive (open source, yet) word processor. But then, I remembered that word processors leave tons of cruft in their files. (Most programs do. Modern, well-made programs clean up after themselves when they save. Progams made by teenage wonks don’t. Let that be a lesson for you. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs may have been heroes to their mothers, but they were teenaged wonks and couldn’t code for shit.

The second — and final for this post — lesson is to NEVER, NEVER, NEVER involve Microsoft Word or any Word emulator in a production workflow in which consistent results are needed time and again. There’s a reason why pro graphics houses WILL NOT accept ANY input from Microsoft — and that includes their mis-named (dis-named, as in disinformation?) MS Publisher. And that is, if your livelihood depends on it, Word will let you down every. Single. Time. Now, in my case, it was Open Office, but the principle holds, whether it’s Word, Word Perfect, Atlantis, Open Office or Sigil or any of the myriad other out there whic MAY be used to provide input to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. They embrace fundamentally flawed premises. And why on earth the engineers at Amazon decided to depend on — or to permit or accept dependence on — Microsoft products for what is essentially a graphic-arts process is beyond me. As we say about Stupid Engineer Tricks day after day at the Patch Factory, “Why would you want to do that?”

As for me, I’ve somehow gotten my clock adjusted to Vacation Time and I have to get up early as all fuck in the morning. Say, “Good night,” Gracie.

Good night, Gracie.

So What’s Been Going On

cvr hi-t sm 0913IN THE WORLD since I’ve been gone?

You were gone?

Ha! Ha! Very funny. No. BSN. I spent all day Friday and Saturday combing through the final edit of The High T Affair and setting named styles for EVERY. SINGLE. CHARACTER. (Including spaces.) (Especially spaces.)

I have this to conclude: Word processors are aggravating as hell. They never get it right. You tell them to do something and they get it wrong. You tell them to do something the same way twice in a row and you get two different results. The rituals required to get ANY results are arcane and inconsistent. Asking for consistency is asking for the blood to go back in the moon. The documentation sucks. For example: In Open Office (version 4) — TRY to find a list of what all the special characters mean. Just TRY.

And then, output. Why are supposedly modern word processors STILL using a brute-force, inline-style driven approach to rolling HTML? Why are they still rolling HTML 2.x? WHY ARE THEY STILL USING UPPERCASE TAGS?

On the other hand, I have gotten a fairly clean and elegant build in both MOBI and ePub of the book. A few minor tweaks (which Murphy tells me will take all day TODAY) and I should have something to send to betas.

Oh! And I’ve changed the cover. Not final, but a radical departure from where I was before. I need to write post or posts about THAT. Don’t know when I’ll be able to find the time.

Looks like pub date will be pushed back a week.