Archive for January, 2011

Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Hi, it’s me again.

I try not to harp on about crap everyone is tired of hearing about, but – I promise – this is probably the last you’ll hear about my thrilling and exciting first novel, Mendacities, for quite a while.

Here’s the deal: I badly need your help.

For kicks and giggles more than any honest hope of winning, I’ve decided to enter Mendacities into this year’s Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, a/k/a ABNA, contest. In fact, I have entered Mendacities into the contest, though I can edit the submission through February 6th.

This is where you, dear reader, can help.
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Published in: Geekiness, Meta | on January 31st, 2011 | Comments Off on Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Fountain Pens 102

A year ago, I wrote an introduction to fountain pens, followed, sort of, by a a review of my most-used pen in November.

Today, then, Fountain Pens 102: What parts of a pen actually matter?

98% of pen reviews on the internet seem to concentrate on the same two aspects: aesthetics, and cachet. That’s great if you’re a snobbish pen-fondling lawyer trying to impress your fellow partners at work, I suppose – “I say, darling, doesn’t the luxurious precious resin on my new Starwalker nicely complement the texture of this Armani suit?” – but absolutely irrelevant if you care about functional tools meant to be written with. “Insert_Pen_Manufacturer_Here have a rich tradition of crafstmanship stretching back generations…” So? Kraft have been making “Macaroni and Cheese” / “Kraft Dinner” since 1937, but that doesn’t mean it’s great… or even good.

Anyway, what most reviews – and most pen users – overlook is that there are really just three parts to a pen that actually matter – and two of ’em you normally don’t even see.
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Published in: Geekiness, History | on January 28th, 2011 | Comments Off on Fountain Pens 102

Terrorism in Ramsey County, Redux

Back in November, you may recall, I gently mocked the shock horror(!) that sleepy little Ramsey County, Minnesota was, as some would-be journalists wanted to believe, home to thirty-three terrorist groups.

Yesterday, this anti-saga continued with the shocking discovery that no records seem to exist to back up some of the claims the whole “33 terrorist groups” thing was based on. “A very big lie” was how a spokesperson described it.

It is of course no surprise to anyone that Bob Fletcher would have lied or engaged in any sort of wrongdoing. (Not the world’s most popular Sheriff, lemme tell ya.) But here again the “alternative media” are spending more time being “alternative” than proper journalists, as the sordid details aren’t quite as shockingly dramatic and exciting as activists might wish.

The whole gist of the explanation, such as it is, seems to be that the Sheriff’s Department made presentations or verbal reports to other agencies, rather than producing written documents.

I still maintain that the “journalist” pursuing this “story” is looking for some sort of exciting and outrage-provoking scandal, so assume that she and like-minded compatriots are going to be developing outrage that the Ramsey County Sheriff clearly had something to hide. Otherwise, I imagine them sputtering, why make intangible presentations that cannot be requested under open-records laws?!

Here’s why.
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Published in: Geekiness, General | on January 25th, 2011 | Comments Off on Terrorism in Ramsey County, Redux

The Eternal Facepalm of the Mind

At the moment, there is an animated television show airing in Japan called Fractale. (See here for certain details.) Until yesterday, you could legally view it outside of Japan, with English subtitles, on Crunchyroll, and perhaps elsewhere.

Then, the Fractale Production Committee discovered that – SHOCK HORROR! – people on the internet were illegally distributing copies of the show, and forbade the distribution of the show on Crunchyroll until the license-holder, Funimation, removed all copies from the internet, regardless of whether they were “ripped” from Crunchyroll et al or recorded off-the-air on television in Japan.

“Dear rights holder: because of the uncivilized actions of assorted third parties, in countries other than your own, having no connection to you whatsoever, and unknown to any of us, you can no has the product you paid for until such time as you satisfy us that you have stopped these unknown third parties from doing things you have no control over, kthxbai.”

On the one hand, I am always a little bit depressed whenever I discover that people demonstrably dumber than I have become reasonably successful in life, so this sort of thing is a bit of a downer. However, I am slightly by this sort of thing proving that America, love it or hate it, may be losing its position as the global superpower par excellence of mind-bogglingly facepalm-worthy stupidity.

Come, noble people of the Internet who I am privileged to call brethren-in-bytes, let us embark on a crusade – we shall call it the Asshat Crusade – to purge the world of the tyranny and evil of digital media piracy by, collectively, through strength of heart and purity of soul, eliminating all legal and legitimate media outlets. Our cause, though fucking ginormous, is just and righteous; if we can but cast aside our fast food and our apathy and our collective grasp on reality, my friends, then victory shall surely be ours!

Let this be a reminder that there is nothing in life so straightforward that it cannot be completely screwed up by a committee.

Published in: 'D' for 'Dumb', Geekiness, General | on January 20th, 2011 | 1 Comment »

A Modest Funding Proposal for the State

Minnesotans recently elected a new Governor – Mark Dayton – which freed us from the tyrrany of Tim Pawlenty (but, regrettably, freed up Pawlenty to go pursue national ambitions, alas). He faces an unenviable position; not just by being a Democrat governor with a Republican-controlled state Congress, but because he’s inherited a mighty large defecit in a state where all the fat (and much of the meat…) has long since been trimmed from the budget.

Pawlenty, you see, made a point of not raising taxes, something which helped make him a darling of the Right. Never mind his creation or increase of every fee, service charge, assessment, levy, duty, or toll he could think of; people will just gloss over that.

I mean, it’s gotten to where, if you want the state to screw you, you’d have to pay something like $943.28 for the privilege:
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Published in: General | on January 20th, 2011 | Comments Off on A Modest Funding Proposal for the State