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Shoplifting in the Marketplace of Ideas
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17th-Jul-2014 03:09 am - Free Promo
So just to test out the KDP Select promotional tools, I've set it up so that one can get Kiwi for free on August 1st and 2nd.

Remember, you don't need a Kindle to read eBooks, you can do it on phones, tablets, PC's, whatever. Amazon has free reader programs for them all.

So mark your calendar and go to Kiwi (Long-ass link because I'm getting into the Amazon Affiliate program now too).

Or you could go now and spend a buck, I won't mind.
16th-Jul-2014 02:52 am - Propane at 2 AM?
Self-serve Kiosk at Home Depot. $21 with tax. A bit more than refilling at the Co-op store, but they aren't open at 2AM.

Also, stuck with an out-of-date cylinder? Trade it in at the self-service station. They get to re-certify or junk it. Probably why it's not as cheap. Although somehow I got an expired cylinder this trip. I also got one made in 2012. That one I'll keep.
15th-Jul-2014 01:48 pm - THIS!!!
14th-Jul-2014 01:08 am - That's my baby!

That part with the big 9 on it? I put that on.

(I also had to tear the left side of it open to replace one tiny nutplate, but it's fine now.)

It's amazing how maneuverable an empty airliner is. They REALLY should do a repeat of the 707 Barrel Roll.

Anyway, it LOOKS marvelous.
28th-Jun-2014 02:39 am - So here's an ethical question
While preparing to book my hotel for the Reno Air Races, I thought I'd look to see if there were any "Coupon Codes" posted online to get a lower rate. Google reveals a lot of outdated ones. But I found one current one that would save a lot of money. However, it's one for the Sport Class Pilots.

On the one hand, they posted it in the clear on their website.
On the other, clearly it's meant for the pilots.

On the first hand again, if the code doesn't cost the organization anything per user, just the hotel, does it harm the organization?
On the other hand, if they did kick in something to get that discount, that would harm them.

Back to the first hand, if the hotel is willing to rent that room on the same day for half the cost, why pay the full price?
On the other hand, it would be dishonest to misrepresent oneself. (And what happens if they later want proof that you qualify?)

What would you do?

And is it cheaper to book by phone? By Web? By third party site?
26th-May-2014 03:23 am - Price increase
In a discussion on a writer's blog I participate on, Sarah Hoyt (yes, THAT Sarah Hoyt) said to me:

If it's 14k words put it at 2.99 or I'll come through the screen and beat you.
Also, write the next one. It's the best way to raise your sales.
I'm not quite sure I have that kind of confidence, but the discussion pointed out that the .99 cent price point is considered the bottom of the barrel. Sure, some people buy there, but I'm only getting one or two a month.

So I said I'd do it, but that I'd run an experiment, bumping it up 50 cents at a time every couple of months to see what it does.

So the Kiwi ebook is now $1.49, or the equivalent in other currencies. Find it here: Kiwi Get it within the next two months if you want to beat the next hike.

And remember, you don't NEED a Kindle to read eBooks, Amazon has free reader programs for virtually every platform, and free cloud storage of your books.

As for the next thing, I just finished the first draft of my entry into the Baen Fantasy short story contest. I have another month before the deadline to futz around with it, but I am very pleased. I don't expect to win, considering some of the heavy-hitters who have mentioned they are doing it too, but hey, once it's over in August, I'll have a new story all ready to post.

(p.s. I've got a line-numbered PDF available for beta-readers, as long as you're not involved in the contest at all).

(Update: I gave up on the idea and went back to 99 cents)
Inexplicable K-pop animated video:  (in real life, the girls are pretty hot, like any other pre-fab four, but this is totally NOT my kind of music.)

It does have some really good bits, my favorite being at 1:54. And the hints of one girl kinda falling for the bad guy, like in the preview frame.
(How on earth did I find this? It was the follow-up to some very odd J-pop video that was in some article Instapundit linked to, so I blame Glenn Reynolds.)
22nd-Apr-2014 01:09 am - Not Pathe-tic at all
British Pathe, a newsreal archive company, has put their ENTIRE LIBRARY on Youtube, in HD, and Free.  This material dates back to 1896 through 1976.
Bookmark this for future reference.:  http://www.youtube.com/user/britishpathe
h/t Ann Althouse via Instapundit.
19th-Apr-2014 10:22 pm - Reduction
Wow, 4.8 pounds of apples dries into a mere 8.9 ounces of dried apple slices. Anyone think I should put up a picture?

Takes a while though.

I always dry a couple cans worth of pineapple chunks at the same time, because if you dip the apple slices into pineapple juice, they don't turn brown. The pineapple itself takes even longer to dry, mainly because it hold a lot of moisture, but also because the high sugar content keeps that moisture in.

One nice thing about having a meat slicer, you can slice meat with it. By that I mean, you can slice meat really thin, as opposed to say carving off thick hunks with a Chef's knife.

A week or so ago, I had the urge to have a roast beef sandwich, and it stayed with me for a while. So, the next time I went shopping, I picked up an Eye of Round roast, and was suddenly confronted with the fact that I'd never roasted a roast before, other than making pot roast in the Crock Pot. Fortunately, I have a Betty Crocker cookbook (although not one as fantastic as my Mom's old one), and the chapter on meat laid it out pretty simply - put it on a rack over a pan and roast it. I have a nice digital meat thermometer that can alarm at a certain temperature, And thus I stuck the roast in the oven at 325° and it took around an hour or so to get to an internal temperature of 135°, at which point I pulled it out, wrapped it in foil, and let it "coast" to 140°. Except it overshot, so the next time I stopped at 130°, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

It's been a while since I baked bread, but I had some hamburger buns in the pantry, and so, equipped with fresh roast beef, sliced thinly, a bun, and some mustard, I satisfied that Roast Beef Sandwich urge. Over and over until I ran out of beef and buns.

This week I made another roast, although this time I liberally coated the roast with my favorite spice blend, McCormick "Montreal Steak". And fresh after "resting" in foil, the smell was so tempting, I first sliced off a big hunk to eat plain. It was exquisite. Seriously, it was a foodgasm. I had to cut the other end off the roast and eat that too, it was so good.

Tonight, I took the remaining two thirds of that roast and put it in the freezer long enough to firm it up for slicing, and rendered it lunchmeat. Hamburger buns were procured, and I repeated the meal, and now I'm a happy Mauser.

6th-Apr-2014 08:12 pm - Apple chips
My last order from Amazon included one of these: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004NPM3NU/

It's a little device that's probably been around for a century that peels, slices, and cores apples in one go. You stab an apple onto the prongs on the end of the screw, and turn the screw, which spins the apple under the peeling blade, forces it to spiral through the slicing blade, and cuts the core out as it forces the apple through a ring blade in the middle.

It took some fiddling with the get it into serviceable condition, the blades needed better sharpening, and some alignment, but for $13 and coming from somewhere in Asia, I'm not going to complain - much. I'm sure the antique versions would be much heavier duty, made of cast iron, and have a huge crank and a c-clamp to attach it to the table. I prefer the suction cup.

It's not perfect, since apples aren't perfect, but it does what it says on the tin (box, whatever). I sliced up a bunch of apples for the dehydrator in a fraction of the time it would take normally, and they came out much more even, which is important for drying. It would be awesome for doing an apple pie.

You can peel potatoes with it if you really want to.  Although it makes no sense to core a potato. For that you can take the coring blade off.
5th-Apr-2014 05:38 pm - Evolutionary Theory of Politics
One of the big things making the rounds is r/K theory and how these evolutionary strategies are reflected in political ideology.  Bill Whittle discusses it in one episode of his roughly weekly show The Stratosphere Lounge (If the offset link doesn't work, jump to 0:58.  Hmmm, offsets don't work in the embeds, so pure link.):


The book is offered on Kindle, and occasionally it's set to free, like it is today.  (And remember, you don't need a Kindle to read kindle books, Amazon has a free reader for almost every platform)


It's interesting to read the negative reviews from Liberals who haven't read the book, because the anonymous author comes in and explains how they are wrong with passages from the book, and it's absolutely devastating.  Although frankly, folks who go around posting negative reviews of conservative books they haven't read are not typically the brightest curly-bulbs in the shed.

I just got it, and haven't read it, so I'm NOT going to post a review yet.

4th-Apr-2014 04:03 am - Kiwi
Got another review. Yay! Three stars. Boo. But any review is a good thing really, right?

The guy says the main character is a Jerk.  Yeah, he's supposed to be, He says the plot depends on the captors not telling him something (He doesn't say what he thinks they should have told him, which is okay, so it's not spoilery) but what those two THINK they want him to do is NOT necessarily what they want him to do, that all came from Aniti (which is explicitly mentioned). It's also possible to surmise that they don't tell him to do that because that would make them complicit, and it's bad enough they engineered the situation.

Still pondering the whole "You shouldn't answer reviews" thing.
2nd-Apr-2014 02:32 am - The classic gun mistake that wasn't.
The latest episode of Marvel's Agents of Shield for a moment had me going. You see, there's a classic gun-handling mistake you see in movies. One of the best examples of which was Stallone in Demolition Man.

In the climactic shootout, after shooting loads and loads of bullets, for dramatic purposes Stallone's gun finally runs out, and the slide locks back. This is normal. He then drops the empty magazine out of the gun, inserts a fresh one, and releases the slide. This action will take the first bullet off the magazine and load it into the chamber. At this point, the gun is ready to fire. But that's not dramatic enough, so after closing the slide, Stallone grabs the slide and yanks it back and lets it close again. You can see that first unfired bullet go flying away, wasted.

In this week's episode, an agent is being attacked by a cyborg, and after shooting him half a dozen times, the agent takes cover, pulls the magazine from his gun (Which already struck me as odd, since he should have had shots left, and the gun hadn't locked back) puts in a new magazine, and racks the slide, wasting the bullet currently in the chamber. He fires one more time before getting clobbered by the cyborg.

At first, I thought they were repeating the classic mistake, BUT, in a later scene, it's revealed that the second magazine had bullets that actually contained tracking devices. Suddenly, the gun-handling makes sense.  He switched to trackers, and needed to get rid of the unneeded regular round.

About the only weak point is they seemed to be confused about the number of rounds fired and the number of rounds missing from the magazine, they either didn't account for the round wasted, or if he had "One up the spout" when he started.
30th-Mar-2014 09:51 pm - Physics jokes
Heisenberg was speeding down the highway. Cop pulled him over and says, “Son, do you have any idea how fast your were going back there?”

Heisenberg said, “No, but I knew where I was.”


Erwin Schrödinger was in the car behind Heisenberg’s and he got pulled over too and his car was searched.

“Did you know you have a dead cat in there?” the cop asked Schrödinger.

“Well, now I do.”
22nd-Mar-2014 01:23 am - How to use a Slide Rule
If you ever knew and forgot, or if you had no idea.
16th-Mar-2014 07:03 pm - For the record
I guess it was several years ago now, in some discussion on Megan Giles' LJ, that in a moment of anger Elin Winkler let slip something she'd been holding against me for years, decades even, something that made me think "What the fuck are you talking about?" Basically she said I had accused her once of stealing from me, had gone around saying as much, and had never apologized to her. I didn't have an answer for her then because this literally hit me out of the blue, and had no resemblance to any reality I was aware of. I thought it was very unfair.

The only apology possible would be one of those phony Democrat non-apologies that puts the blame on the person being apologized to. You know, the kind that start "I'm sorry you feel that way". I don't make those kinds of fake apologies, and I don't respect people who make them because they are not sincere. And it certainly would be insincere to apologize for something that NEVER HAPPENED.

Eventually, I figured out what she might talking about, and so I'll put it out there to be clear. I think this is it, because there is no incident that exactly resembles what she accuses me of, but this is the closest match.

It dates all the way back to ConFurEnce 4. She and I were set up on a table just outside the Dealer's Room. I had a few copies each of three issues of Gallery with me, and I think she had some AP stuff, or something else. Anyway, I realized I needed to go back to the room to get more stock, and I asked her to watch my stuff. When I got back, a stack on the corner of the table, one of each issue I had there, was gone. This was before I started the practice of printing up spares for replacements, so I was pissed that I would be out of pocket in my accounting to make up for it. I was a bit naive at the time of what scumbags some furries could be.

So certainly I was not happy at having been stolen from, and I did direct some anger at Elin because I had asked her to watch my stuff and in the maybe 10 minutes I was away, something got stolen, but I did not at any point accuse HER of having taken the books. That idea never would have occurred to me, and I still don't even consider it a possibility.

To summarize, If this is the event she's been holding against me all these years, I think she is mistaken.

  • Yes, I may have had some harsh words because she failed to watch my stuff when she said she would but then, it's a chaotic environment and she had her own things to watch, and people will do shit like put their stuff on top of books and then pick up a "little extra" when they're done. I don't blame her for it. Shit happens, and I learned from it.

  • No, I never for a moment thought that Elin had taken the books.

  • No, I never accused her of taking the books.

  • No, I never spent the intervening years accusing her of having stolen from me because I never thought she had.

And it's sad that this thing she had in the back of her mind poisoned our interactions ever since, because I had no idea that she felt that way, and that she ascribed those thoughts to me, and viewed things through that particularly distorted lens.

Frankly, I'd pretty much forgotten the incident, other than it taught me that I couldn't go exactly zero-sum on production, and that I needed to print extras to replace damaged, lost and stolen merchandise, and that at Cons, I had to put books out one at a time so that it would be more obvious that something was not where it was supposed to be.

If there's anything for me to apologize for, I'm sorry I got mad at her because I had unrealistic expectations about how rampant and sneaky theft of merchandise at cons is, it was literally the first time I'd been selling anything at a table at a con, and so it was unfair to expect her to have been able to prevent that. But seriously, that was water under the bridge before the Con was over, and I never once thought of it or blamed her for it ever afterwards. Any anger I had was directed at the thief, whoever he was.

As for the other things she accused me of, I'm just chalking it up to distorted impressions that all trace back to this one misunderstanding which I wasn't even aware of. I certainly did make some open criticism of the way she handled Radio Comics, but I didn't conduct some extended whispering/sabotage campaign to undermine her, and I never told any artists not to publish with her (Indeed, I often suggested they submit things to her). People who know me know I only critique things I care about enough that I want them to improve. I wanted things to go well for her, and ordered every single title through my comic shop, right up until I just couldn't justify it any more. ("Skunk School" was the "Gnuff" of Genus.) If she interpreted anything I said or did in light of her misunderstanding of that first incident, well, that is out of my power to change.

And frankly, I washed my hands of all that stuff over a decade ago now. As far as I'm concerned, that chapter of my life has been closed, and several others after that.
13th-Mar-2014 03:34 am - Alas, the Pasta Pot
Everyone has one, I assume. It's old, probably the first large pot you bought. A simple thing made of aluminum with a couple of plastic handles on the side. Eventually you get a nice stock pot made out of stainless or something, but the old, slightly tinged white with corrosion aluminum pot, maybe stained dark on the bottom, possibly dented, and maybe with mineral stains near the top, lives on, used for nothing beyond boiling pasta (Because you don't want to do that in your nice pot).

Well, apparently another thing you don't want to do is marinade meat in it. My ancient Aluminum Pasta Pot is going to pot-heaven now because it has a hole in it, and a pretty good sized one too - maybe a 16th of an inch. Amazingly, it didn't leak and dump a gallon or so of marinade inside my fridge. But after I dumped it out and cleaned it, I must have freed whatever was plugging the hole, and the next batch I mixed up surprised me by appearing on the counter outside its intended confines.

I dunno, do I want another cheap as crap aluminum pot for boiling pasta in, or will I end up doing it in the stainless pots now?

(And yes, I know all the stuff about Aluminum pots now being bad for you, if you cook acidic things like tomato sauce in them. But boiling pasta is perfectly safe.)
8th-Mar-2014 12:25 am - A Comment
I kinda wanted to preserve this comment that I made over at According to Hoyt. I'm rather proud of it. Although if you need the context, the original is over here.


Reading this, I had a reminder of the old adage "The Map is not the Terrain", or in this case, we're having trouble with words because the meaning has changed over time (and sometimes that change has been steered deliberately to advance an agenda).

Take for example the word "Race" which is now almost functionally equivalent to "Racism", in that you can't even mention the former without invoking the latter. And for that to work, the current definition of Race has evolved to mean "Damn near to speciation" and therefore WRONG! (And EVIL, and Politically Incorrect). (Of course, BEING Politically Correct, it's okay to use the term if you're handing out bennies in exchange for votes from the poor benighted bastards.) And because the term has been forced into this new meaning, the OLD tribal usage, e.g. The English Race, The French Race makes no sense. You can't even talk about race as a tribal thing because someone will point out that the races are inter-fertile, when you were never implying anything of the sort. The fact of the matter is that regional differences in the human genome are naturally going to occur when you cover the planet on foot as your species expands. It's only the advent of sailing ships and jet airplanes that have thrown those regional differences into more extreme contrast. But even when we were on foot, we could tell the subtle differences that meant someone was not from around here.

Go look at that average face photoset again, and you can see how the average face from two close countries is similar, but still subtly different, but the more geographically distant, the more different they are. At some point you can draw a line, usually at a geographic barrier, and say there's enough distinction here to call it an ethnicity, but the folks on either side of that line are going to still be awfully close.

But with the new PC that border is both IMPORTANT, and UNMENTIONABLE, depending on the context. And it has to be treated as something inflexible, rather than the topographic line in the gradation of some human physical trait.

Back to the language thing, I'm reminded of another bit, where an Alien, dealing with human language, comments to his colleague, "They call their planet dirt." And all of the words for the Earth in pretty much every language are synonyms for the surface, Terra = Terrain, Earth = Soil, one could go on. I'm sure it's the same in any language. So I discount the importance of the statement people make about “All words for themselves translate to "the People"" because that's making too much out of the symbol, the word, when in either language, that symbol refers to the same concept. But most languages attach a word to several concepts, but they aren't necessarily the same set. So building some huge logical structure out of English's word for the concept of "us" (people), implying they regard others as "Not people" and thus "Not human" and thus "We can kill them because they aren't human and don't matter." when that isn't attached to the idea in the original language is an exercise in the Noam Chomsky textbook.

"Not our tribe" does NOT necessarily imply the thinking "Not our species". Forcing that implication in order to critique humanity might fly in Critical Theory, but it ain't reality.

This is not a Pipe.
3rd-Mar-2014 06:03 am - AD&D
So, who ended up with my old Monster Manual? I'm missing that from my bag of D&D books.
1st-Mar-2014 01:06 am - Asking for More
"So, you won the right to force yourselves on people who don't like you. Of course, forcing yourself on someone unwilling always makes them like you eventually. Just ask date-rapists."

Rats, what was the other one?
23rd-Feb-2014 01:15 am - Asking for it
I was looking at a friend's Facebook, and he had commented on some post by George Takei about some proposed law in Arizona that would allow businesses to refuse service to anyone they chose to.

It was very hard to keep my trap shut, but the last thing I wanted to do was incur the facebook wrath of 10,000 George Takei fans. But it still bugs me, so I'll dig my hole here and shout "The Czar has the ears of a goat!" into it.

"So, basically you're arguing against this law because you want to secure your right to give bigots your money?"

"Does this work both ways? Do you want to allow Christians to force gay bookstores to order bibles and Fred Phelps books for them or face lawsuits for discrimination?" (They give me hot buttons, I just have to push 'em). "Or is this one of those one-way rights that only protected classes get to sue?"

"I understand it's pretty easy for a Black person to show that they're black and have been discriminated against, but how do you prove to a court that you are, in fact, verifiably gay? How do you prove the business knew this?"

"This is very anti-freedom. You're basically demanding the law say that if someone waves money at you, regardless of any principles you may have, you are absolutely obligated to do what they want or they can sue you. Again, unless this is one of those one-way rights, somebody could contract George to play some horrible gay child molester for a political ad, and he would not be allowed to refuse them on the basis of discrimination and their legitimate offer to pay. I mean, if you think it's okay for some baker to be compelled to give up her principles when someone waves money in her face, it really has to work both ways for it to be fair, right? After all, what are principles when someone waves God Money in your face?"
21st-Feb-2014 02:23 am - Now what?
Embedded videos that worked fine last night are coming up black.

New Flash update didn't help. Reinstalling it didn't help either. But it can't be flash, because if you click on the videos to open them on YouTube, they work fine.

I'm guessing in the next few days either it'll turn out to be a problem with the latest Mozilla (it just updated) or Flash, or more jigger-fuckery by Google.

I guess it depends on if I'm the only one.
19th-Feb-2014 04:53 pm - Seems to be video day
Since I'm home sick from work.
The Slow-Mo guys take on a full-auto M4 rifle. And if you watch, not only is it cool (watching things happen like the bolt bouncing before it fully settles into battery) but it also shows why you can't hit shit in full auto. (Hollywood is full of shit, but for some reason people believe them).

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