Friday, October 24, 2008
Steve "Carpy" Carpenter is an artist (there's no other word for it), living in SoCal. An ex-pat Brit, he's loved, and built, cafe racer-style bikes for decades.
I ran across his web site, cb750cafe.com the other day, and ever since then I've been daydreaming about buying, and riding, one of his bikes. They are, in a word, sexy.
I have no idea how I'll pay for one, but his rates are reasonable (if you're not looking for a full-bore show bike anyway) and he ships anywhere in the Lower 48 for only $600. Check out these photos!!
(Click the image for the full version - sorry about the funky formatting)
I've loved the cafe look and style (race-inspired dropped handlebars, cut-out gas tank, single seat, stripped-down instrumentation, etc.) since I saw my first modded CB750 at RPM Honda in Chicago, where I worked as a service writer in the late 80's. I had no idea that anyone was actually keeping the cafe style alive, and Carpy's not only doing so but improving on the look - many of his signature items like his tanks, seats, tail lights and handlebar hardware are custom made.
There are many, many more on his site - please do check it out. Carpy documents the rebuilds, start to finish, which is and of itself really something. So, so cool!
If the video is even still up, take a look at THIS.
According to the email I just got from MoveOn.org:
It's not like they hate voting. They want to do it. They know they should. And mostly, they intend to. But some of your friends won't get around to actually voting because they haven't been reminded vividly enough.
That's why we developed this funny, scary video. It shows people what it might look like if we lose the election by a single vote: theirs.
In the video (in case you can't see it), a fake news reporter tells the world how McCain won the election because I "forgot to vote". there's even a page after the video where you can list your unsuspecting friends' names and send them personalized copies, making them feel like shit too!
I'm sorry, but this is pure douche-baggery. I've heard other people tell me that they won't deal with MoveOn any more because they left a bad taste in their mouth. Guess I know why now, huh? Ever since I purchased a set of Obama campaign buttons from them, they've barraged me with daily emails, most of which I don't read. Now they send me this, a fear-mongering ad that tries to scare me into something I was going to do anyway??
I know emotions run high close to an election, but... damn. Seriously- whoever had this bright idea at MoveOn should help the Republicans next election - they're the people that have to reply on fear and guilt to get out the vote. What a bunch of nimrods ((shakes head)).
I've removed myself from their email lists and wrote them a scathing letter, denouncing their actions.
I also want to point out that the buttons I got from MoveOn were total pieces of shit - they fell apart within 10 minutes of being removed from the packaging and would have been lost if I hadn't took them home and filled the back of the button with silicone.
Bottom line - if you want to contribute to a campaign, do it direct through the candidates' web sites (copied below), and don't use MoveOn.org. Their stuff is crap, they'll barrage you with email, and they do crap like shame and guilt you instead of appealing to your better nature.
Candidate donation web sites:
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
CLICK HERE FOR THE HUFFPO ARTICLE
From the article:
For the record... I congratulate ACORN for their continued work to register voters in traditionally under-served and disenfranchised communities. You guys are doing good work and I see and acknowledge your... well I guess in light of this, the only word I can use for what you're showing is "bravery". Be safe and know that this American citizen applauds your efforts.
"...Henderson-James also provided reporters with examples of emails sent to ACORN employees since the Republican barrage of allegations began. In one, an ACORN manager in Ohio is told that she is "going to have her life ended."
Another refers to "corrupt ni**er Muslims." A third, with the subject line "You blue gums," says, "You blue gums are not going to steal the election. All of you porch monkeys need to go back to Africa."
ACORN, a membership organization, works largely in lower-income and minority communities but engages in outreach to all demographics, including white, African-American, Hispanic, elderly, and college student groups."
To anyone that's run across this as a result of a blind web spider search: ACORN does nothing but register voters. They don't sign up voters "for" a certain candidate and they definitely will not be in the voting booth with those folks when they go to pull the lever. Also, for those screaming "election fraud" - election fraud only occurs when someone appears at a voting location and attempts to submit a fraudulent ballot. Nobody's turned up at a polling station with a fake ID in the name of "Micky Mouse" or "Bart Simpson of Fumundamyballs Lane" that I know of. If you have such evidence, please let me know. Better let the FBI know, as that would indeed be a crime.
In other words:
"ACORN denies trying to falsify voter registrations and asserts that any falsified forms were submitted by dishonest employees trying to avoid work. The group also notes that fraudulent registrations seldom are used to cast actual ballots. Independent studies show that cases of actual vote fraud are extremely rare. For example, a report coauthored by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters found only four fraudulent votes out of 9 million cast in Ohio between 2002 and 2004. That report concluded that fraudulent voting was statistically rarer than being hit by lightning. This year, despite claiming widespread fraud, the only evidence Republican officials have been able to point to of fraudulent voting itself is one man whose allegedly ineligible early vote was caught by Ohio authorities last week. Late last week, G.O.P. representatives also claimed to have discovered evidence that 28 primarily Hispanic New Mexico voters had cast illegal votes in this year's primary election, but ACORN representatives on a conference call Monday morning claimed to have made contact with four of those voters, discovering that while all had registered for the first time this year (three were young voters and the fourth was an elderly immigrant who recently became a naturalized citizen), all had cast their votes legally. After learning of ACORN's findings, the RNC appeared to abandon its claim. " (Same source)
It seems obvious that some people listed joke nanes on registration rolls. And, seriously... it wasn't smart to pay people based on the number of signatures they turned in - obvoiusly that tempted some unscrupulous ACORN employees to pad their lists. Big mistake.
But that's no reason to threaten poeple's lives and call them "corrupt". That's the result of McCain's fear-mongering. Plus, keep in mind that in calmer, saner times, even McCain and other key Republican office holders supported ACORN as well.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Oct. 13: Rachel Re: Even though a bi-partisan panel found that Gov. Sarah Palin abused her power by firing former police commissioner Walt Monegan, she’s telling the media that she was cleared of any wrong doing? Really? Can this be true?
The bad news? Nobody seems to care.
Hello? Hello??? The best-case scenario here is that Palin's simply too delusional or feeble to understand clearly worded decision against her. This isn't a politician saying "Well, they had their opinion and I disagree and I'll be sure to appeal that, as is my right. Until then watch me shoot this wolf from a helicopter! Pew! Pew! Pew!" This is flat-out refusal to state the reality of the finding.
My take on it is that she's certainly smart enough to understand that she's lying. What's sad is that so few people seem to care that she has zero respect for the people she claims to want t0 lead. Such obvious falsehoods (unless they're inspired by insanity) bespeak an attitude that says "I know y'all are too stoopid to realize I'm lyin'".
While I was researching the Kindle, I ran across something called Stanza.
What is it? It's basically an e-book reader application, available for free, for the iPhone and iPod Touch. According to the Lexcycle Stanza web site:
Featuring a clean, well-organized interface, Stanza is expressly designed for reading digital publications, including electronic books, newspapers, PDFs, and general web content. Stanza is built from the ground up to make reading on your Macintosh or Windows laptop or desktop an enjoyable and hassle-free experience. It gives special attention to details that are usually overlooked in other software readers such as hyphenation, text columnation, automatic text scrolling, and user-friendly page and chapter navigation. Lengthy content that can be tedious to read using a web browser or PDF viewer is easy and natural with Stanza.
Stanza features built-in support for HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word, and Rich Text Format reading, as well as all the major eBook standards: unprotected Amazon Kindle and Mobipocket, Microsoft LIT, Palm doc, and the International Digital Publishing Forum's new epub Open eBook standard. In addition to supporting a plethora of formats, Stanza features an open API that allows developers to implement support for their own document formats. Stanza is more than just a reader: it is a reading platform!
This is huge, huge news. As cool as the Kindle is (I love the "electronic paper" that makes it unique), it's still basically a dedicated device. Not so Stanza. It's an application, one that runs alongside the iPhone's other functions. With Stanza, I can (and will) listen to music while reading a book, and then hop onto a web site, all while sending and receiving text messages, for instance. And since I'm sure that I'll be carrying my iPhone with me everywhere, I'll also be carrying my books along with me at the same time, all in the shared device.
Even better, Stanza will export other files into Kindle's proprietary format. Again from the Lexcycle Stanza site:
Stanza is also the first program that has a built-in export feature especially for the Amazon Kindle. Your PDFs, Word documents, and other eBooks can all be exported to the Kindle's native format and copied over to the device using a USB cable. Get a paper-quality reading experience for all your electronic documents with this innovative new device!
..as well as other formats...
Last, but not least, Stanza has an experimental new feature that allows you to export your books to MP3 audiobooks. Your entire audiobook can then be added to iTunes and synchronized with your iPod or other digital music player. This technology enables the blind and visually impaired to enjoy a wealth of electronic documents.
For me, the ability to to word searches and to drop multiple bookmarks in a single text is a really sweet option - I know from experience that I'd use this all the time. I also like that text can be scaled in size, the fonts can be changed, and even the background color and text color can be changed on the fly.
Yep... I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this one.
Have any Kindle or Stanza stories to share (good or bad)? Be sure to leave a Comment below!
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I also was, and still am, a person that vehemently opposes DRM (basically, copy guard) on music. I begged and pleaded, along with tens of thousands of others, way back in the mid-90's, for the Sony's and BMI's and Virgin's of the world to grant users access to their master song files in digital format at a reasonable price (we suggested a quarter each). This was in the days when the only way to "share" music files was to search FTP directories in the (often vain) hope of finding a complete song, ripped at some horrendously low bitrate. The recording industry, knowing that "sharing" was beyind the technical capabilities of 99.99% of music consumers, basically laughed and mocked us and more or less dared us to scale the walls of their ivory towers.
Then came Napster, and, well... you know the rest. Who's laughing now?
Why am I telling you this? Because if you're a writer OR someone interested in intellectual property distribution via electronic channels, then I suggest reading this interesting article over on HufPo, titled "What Publishing Can Learn From Music". Good stuff, filled with many chewy links.
PS - Did I mention that my first novel, Blood Magic, is available in eBook format at Fictionwise.com? if you'd like to see Blood Magic or Nights of Sin on Amazon's Kindle, be sure to click on the links below and look for the "Request This Book On Kindle" links just below the main cover photo!
Nights of Sin
In a word: ROTFLMAO.
"I think there are three things all citizens should do: Smoke cigarettes. Vote for John McCain. And not wear seatbelts..."
NOTE: NSFW. The hawt chik uses the "F" word, like, 3 times. You have been warned.
This one's for Amy...
Now, before you do anything, go HERE and watch this movie on the making and design philosophy of the new 13-inch Mac Book Air. Go on... I'll wait.
OK, so the mellow, hippy music aside, that's pretty effing sexy. A unibody shell machined from a solid brick of aluminum? Are you shitting me? Reduction in PVCs and other emitted gasses right down to the teensy-weenie internal cables used? Sensitivity to wasted space in shipping palettes, which led to increased capacity in cargo planes, hence a reduction in carbon footprint via less jet fuel used? Wow.
To say that's "drool-worthy" is an understatement, to put it mildly.
For those that don't know it, I've been a die-hard PC user for many, many years. I still think that gaming on the PC is the best... the truest... gaming experience, the one with the most flexibility and capacity to extend and empower a game's fan-based development as widely as possible.
All that aside, I admit that I recently purchased a Mac Book Air for my writing.
Even though I love my PCs, I positively adore the Mac. It's small. Sleek. Sexy. It goes to sleep and wakes up in about 3 seconds, tops. It's cool and smooth and metallic and I like to run my fingertips along its case, like one would touch an expensive Italian sports car.
I also have some complaints about the Mac, all of which revolve around their software and their OS's "quirks" (to put it mildly) and, at the end of the day, the more-or-less totalitarian control that Mac imposes on their users. In short, when one works on a Mac, one has to work within a set of pre-defined constraints.
It's not as if Mac is saying "it's our way or the highway" (although this is, in effect, what happens), but rather that they honestly and truly believe that you wouldn't want to work any other way than theirs. This is an idea alien to the PC world, where high-end users don't request but demand a host of customization options and the freedom to, in effect, develop whatever they want.
This "philosophy" bleeds into Mac users groups, where my honest questions and requests for customization advice or tips and tricks designed to streamline the pre-defined workflow of a Mac program were more often than not met with incomprehension if not outright hostility.
I ran into this, for example, when I tried synchronizing my MP3s between my Air and my iPod. My 30 gig 'Pod is modified, and is loaded with the non-Apple Rockbox operating system. Why? because I want it to be that way, and it's my iPod.
Of course, the player will not sync with the Air. Why? Because, according to the errors thrown by the computer, iTunes cannot "recognize" an iPod loaded with a non-Apple OS. Macs (or so I'm told) can interface with any other manufacturer's MP3 players, but it can't read its sister hardware after it's been violated with a replacement OS?
Stuck, I did what any good PC user would do: I hit the Mac users' forums. Of the few people on those boards that even understood what I was trying to do (and there weren't many), the ones that replied to me generally led with an honest and puzzled "why in the world would you want to do that? Just use iTunes."
"Because I have like 200 playlists I made in WinAmp that are stored in .M3U files, and iTunes diesn't like them the way I use them," I replied.
"So just use iTunes and remake them. It'll only take you an evening or two."
"But I don't want to spend hours remaking 200 playlists. I want to use what I have! They work great in Windows and Rockbox loads them flawlessly."
"Well you can't use a Mac for that. Mac's are easy."
"They're not easy in this case, are they?"
"But why do you want to do that anyway???"
...and around and around it went. to date, I still cannot use my "easy" Mac with my Rockboxed iPod. Sigh...
All that aside, I must admit that the quality of Apple's products and designs really are top-drawer. Sure I resent it when I have to pay more than $80 for a spare power adapter, or almost $100 for a keyboard (a keyboard? really????), but those really are secondary considerations when held up against things like an all-glass, LED backlit display and that sexy, sexy machined case.
So go ahead and drool. I know I was. And I plan to keep my Mac. I just don't think that, even as sexy and competently egineered as they are, that Macs are flawless.
And if I get really frustrated, I can always load Vista on it - that'll fix those pesky usability problems... "Easy" Mac, indeed... (( ducking ))...
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Between the recent Rolling Stone expose on McCain's history of temper and nepotism and today's article on the Daily Beast, (hat tip: HuffPo), I'm wondering if I should get my passport in order and a plane ticket to, say, London pre-purchased in case of an election day upset. Seriously... is this the kind of guy you want sitting behind the highest-stress desk in thew world?
From the Daily Beast article, linked to in the first paragraph:
McCain’s game is craps. So is Jeff Dearth’s. Jeff was at the table when McCain showed up and happily made room for him. Apparently there is some kind of rule or tradition in craps that everyone’s hands are supposed to be above the table when the dice are about to be thrown. McCain—“very likely distracted by one of the many people who approached him that evening,” Jeff says charitably—apparently was violating this rule. A small middle-aged woman at the table, apparently a “regular,” reached out and pulled McCain’s arm away. I’ll let Jeff take over the story:
“McCain immediately turned to the woman and said between clenched teeth: ‘DON’T TOUCH ME.’ The woman started to explain...McCain interrupted her: ‘DON’T TOUCH ME,’ he repeated viciously. The woman again tried to explain. ‘DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO?’ McCain continued, his voice rising and his hands now raised in the ‘bring it on’ position. He was red-faced. By this time all the action at the table had stopped. I was completely shocked. McCain had totally lost it, and in the space of about ten seconds. ‘Sir, you must be courteous to the other players at the table,’ the pit boss said to McCain. “DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? ASK ANYBODY AROUND HERE WHO I AM.”
This being Puerto Rico, the pit boss might not have known McCain. But the senator continued in full fury—“DO YOU KNOW WHO YOU’RE TALKING TO? DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?”—and crisis was avoided only when Jeff offered to change places and stand between McCain and the woman who had touched his arm.
Wow... He's quite the tough guy against a "small, middle-aged woman", ain't he? This sort of behavior is nothing new for McCain. According to McCain's own admission he does have a bit of an explosive temper. This is from the Rolling Stone article, titled "Make-Believe Maverick":
John Sidney McCain III has spent most of his life trying to escape the shadow of greater men. His grandfather Adm. John Sidney "Slew" McCain earned his four stars commanding a U.S. carrier force in World War II. His deeply ambitious father, Adm. "Junior" McCain, reached the same rank, commanding America's forces in the Pacific during Vietnam.
The youngest McCain was not cut from the same cloth. Even as a toddler, McCain recalls in Faith of My Fathers, his volcanic temper was on display. "At the smallest provocation," he would hold his breath until he passed out: "I would go off in a mad frenzy, and then, suddenly, crash to the floor unconscious." His parents cured him of this habit in a way only a CIA interrogator could appreciate: by dropping their blue-faced boy in a bathtub of ice-cold water.
Trailing his hard-charging, hard-drinking father from post to post, McCain didn't play well with others. Indeed, he concedes, his runty physique inspired a Napoleon complex: "My small stature motivated me to . . . fight the first kid who provoked me."
This behavior was not limited to his child years, however:
Over the years, John McCain has demonstrated a streak of anger so nasty that even his former flacks make no effort to spin it away. "If I tried to convince you he does not have a temper, you should hang up on me and ridicule me in print," says Dan Schnur, who served as McCain's press man during the 2000 campaign. Even McCain admits to an "immature and unprofessional reaction to slights" that is "little changed from the reactions to such provocations I had as a schoolboy."
McCain is sensitive about his physical appearance, especially his height. The candidate is only five-feet-nine, making him the shortest party nominee since Michael Dukakis. On the night he was elected senator in 1986, McCain exploded after discovering that the stage setup for his victory speech was too low; television viewers saw his head bobbing at the bottom of the screen, his chin frequently cropped from view. Enraged, McCain tracked down the young Republican who had set up the podium, prodding the volunteer in the chest while screaming that he was an "incompetent little shit." Jon Hinz, the director of the Arizona GOP, separated the senator from the young man, promising to get him a milk crate to stand on for his next public appearance.
Is this the kind of President you want? Someone will a well-documented Achilles' Heel, one that opposition world leaders can potentially manipulate? Plus, can you even begin to imagine what the GOP's flacks and spin-doctors would be doing with this same sort of material if Obama were as hot-blooded? They'd be playing the "angry black man" card every 15 seconds on Fox News from here until election day, just as they tried to do with Michelle Obama.
Now, to be perfectly fair... Bill Clinton was said to have a temper as well, and I think he was in many ways a fine President. But, he was obviously a man that allowed his passions to overcome his common sense as well, which led to his second term in office being dominated by discussions of spotted dresses and cigars.
Hotheaded President McCain? No thanks. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a passport to apply for - you know, before they seal the borders.
Remember to vote on Tuesday, November 4th!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
This has to be the coolest thing I've seen this month, hands-down. Thanks, Amy, for finding this on eBay. Too bad I can't afford it... (sigh).
Turns out, there's a whole web site, Comics Industry for Obama - find it HERE. While there, you can browse for one-of-a-kind art like the Hellboy image above, register to vote or donate to the campaign.
From their "Welcome" section:
Whether you’re an artist, a writer, a publisher, an editor, a retailer, a fan, or all of the above, this is the place to show your support. In the words of Senator Barack Obama, let’s bring about the change we need by helping to elect him as President of the United States this November!
Film studios, television networks, gaming companies, and more have long since turned to the graphic novels industry to find the hottest content and leverage influential comics fans to build buzz (we present the extensive growth of and exposure for Comic-Con International as Exhibit A). If we can make such an impact on Hollywood box office, network ratings, and merchandise sales, surely we can make a difference in this election as well!
HERE is another piece, this one from Tim Seely:
Friday, October 3, 2008
Here's a sample of the ruling:
Page Two details the extensive misconduct of respondent and his complete lack of remorse. In her report, the referee states: Over a very extended period of time involving a number of totally unrelated cases and individuals, [r]espondent has demonstrated a pattern of conduct to strike out harshly, extensively, repeatedly and willfully to simply try to bring as much difficulty, distraction and anguish to those he considers in opposition to his causes. He does not proceed within the guidelines of appropriate professional behavior, but rather uses other means available to intimidate, harass, or bring public disrepute to those whom he perceives oppose him.
In other words, for those of you not up on lawyer-ese: he's lower than dog vomit and they're telling him he can't practice law any more.
The lovely Rachel Weisz said it best in The Mummy:
"You know, nasty little fellows such as yourself always get their comeuppance. Always."
- Spot the book, and take a photo of yourself with it!
- Send it to me at email@example.com
- I'll put it up in my Photobucket contest folder so everyone can see you with the book.
- Everyone that sends me a photo will be entered in a contest for a set of autographed cover flats for Nights of Sin and Blood Magic! Cover flats are the actual book covers, unfolded and uncut, and are great for framing or displayining on your wall, in your office cubicle or wherever.
So, get out there and spot Nights of Sin! If you end up reading it and like what you see, I'd be forever in your debt if you took the time to write up a review, a blog post or even a mention of it on your MySpace or Facebook page.
If you do put up something, be sure to drop me a line, so I can cross-link to your entry on this site.
Thanks and good luck!!
Thursday, October 2, 2008
People are goin’ out and getting’ raped left and right… I can’t pay for all that! We had an arena to build. A hockey arena! That brings families joy... a lot more joy than rape!
(( Pinches bridge of nose ))
Oh... she did. Yow.
So very, very cool. For more info, check out Wired's article here.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I've debated Governor Palin more than two dozen times. And she's a master, not of facts, figures, or insightful policy recommendations, but at the fine art of the nonanswer, the glittering generality. Against such charms there is little Senator Biden, or anyone, can do.
Source: Jed Lewison at HuffPo, who goes on to say (righfully I think, based on the past Palin n0n-speeches I've seen):
I don't think she'll display much in the way of specifics, but she will get the values-oriented language right, and that should be good enough at least for a draw, and that will mean she beats expectations.
(( Sigh ))... Looks like Dave will be right again. Damn you, Dave... hurry up and predict that NoS will sell 3 million copies, willya???
Here's Amy, reading Nights of Sin, taken late last week just before ConText (yes, a full report will be coming soon).
This makes me happy. When she finished the book, she cried. I, being the doofus I am, had already accidentally spilled the beans and given away the ending, and still it got to her. As a creative person, that's hands-down the best compliment she could have possibly given me. Evoking a pure, genuine emotion simply through some words on a piece of paper is better than anything else, and it's why I crawl (sometimes literally) out of bed 90 minutes early every morning to write.