Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
July 31st, 2007

Amazon Context Links

Amazon lets you put a little code snippet on your web page that sets up context links. Keywords that Amazon recognizes are formatted as links and if someone clicks on it and buys stuff, you get a few percent back in their affiliate program. This sounds simple and painless.

I just did a link-type report for July 1-30 and this is the result of having Amazon links on my main web sites:

Imps. Click Thr. Rate Clicks Items Ordered Referral Fees
232055 1.16% 2691 33 $18.58

As you see this is 232,055 impressions.

The unanswered question here is the Earnings per page impression. That number is just about 8 cents per thousand links. Comparing this to the competition, I get over $2 per thousand clicks from my context sensitive text ads (a mix of YPN, MSN, Google and a few others). I get 5700 clicks on these ads, which is about twice as many as the Amazon clicks, but they pay 0ver 30 times better.

So the question is this: is the $18 worth it? By placing these context links did I loose a click to the more lucrative text ads on my site? Is Amazon diverting clicks that could have gone to the text ads?

The Amazon context links are getting better. I think that the system is learning about my web pages and highlighting better keywords as the preferences of my readers are analyzed. They are about twice as good this month as they were last month. I will try another month and see if they produce over $30 next month. If this is a trend it might be worth it.

I wonder why Yahoo, Google or Microsoft don’t create the same kind of link strategy? I would like to put pay-per-click keyword context links on my pages, I think that it would pay well. I wonder why they don’t have a product that will scan my pages for keywords the way Amazon does?

Here’s a link that hit Del.icio.us a few days ago.
Make Money Online: 100+ Tools and Resources

This has an interesting section on sites that will pay you to review products and websites. You get about $6 per review, but you can do a couple a day, every day and have to have a blog that you reserve for this. It has to have a good Google Page Rank, but you can usually get a good rank if you have interesting content and a you link to it from your other pages and a few dozen other people link to it. I am thinking that you could make $400 a month reviewing stuff. Your regular readers will forgive you if each good blog post is separated by a couple of evil capitalistic blog posts.

I have signed up with a few of these sites. They have to approve you and so far no have contacted me back. You have to have an established blog with at least two entries a week for over a year. I hope that they will want reviews of musical gear. I don’t have my hopes up that they will want reviews of SF novels, but they may want movie reviews. I can knock off a 500 word review of a movie that I’ve never seen in about 5 minutes. That comes to $180 an hour!

I will review the review process as soon as I can get an assignment from one of these sites.






July 31st, 2007

Poker Jim’s Comedy List

Jim sent me his list. I will wait to see if anyone else comes up with a list and then I’ll take a consensus.

His Girl Friday
Raising Arizona
Miracle at Morgan’s Creek
My Man Godfrey
Strangelove
Nothing Sacred
Diner
Manhattan
Annie Hall
Philadelphia Story
The Awful Truth
Sullivan’s Travels
Some Like It Hot
Spinal Tap
Bringing Up Baby
The Princess Bride
City Lights
Duck Soup
The Ref
The Road to Morocco






July 30th, 2007

John’s top 20 Comedy list

This is Johnny B’s response to my previous post:

Top 20 Comedies in no particular order — (I’m assuming by “funniest” you
mean the best comedies as works of art as there are plenty of mediocre films
that have a lot of funny lines in them, while at the same time there are
also great comedies before which you may hardly ever break a smile):

His Girl Friday (the liveliest, best-directed, sharpest and greatest comedy
ever)

Sunset Boulevard (best black comedy)

Eating Raoul (my “camp” entry)

Dr. Strangelove (prophetic masterpiece)

South Park movie (generally not my brand of humor either, but still
enormously funny)

Victor/Victoria (like all great art creates an alternative universe)

Dinner at Eight (incredible cast)

Christmas in July (minor Preston Sturgis masterpiece usually overlooked)

My Man Godfrey (Carol Lombard version)

To Be or Not to Be (amazing chemistry between Barrymore and Lombard)

Broadway Danny Rose (an overlooked gem and Woody Allen’s most masterful
straight comedy)

Born Yesterday

The Bank Dick

Horse Feathers

Zelig (Forrest Gump ripped off the idea but not the brilliance)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Duck Soup

Being There

The Producers

The Apartment (Billy Wilder is amazing in that he produced two great dark
comedies — this one and Avanti — that have hearts






July 30th, 2007

Top 20 Funniest Movies of All Time

John asked me if I liked the Simpsons and he said that someone that he trusted told him that the Simpsons movie was the funniest film of all time. I doubt it. It may be funny, but it is not my kind of humor. I don’t like physical or dumb-ass humor. I like clever and smart humor. I could think of a hundred comedies that I would rather watch than the Simpsons Movie.

I decided to make a list of my own favorite comedies. I used Google to find a variety of lists on the net and I picked over those. I did not find “The Bride Came C.O.D” on any list, neither did I find Peter Boyle’s truly awful and disturbing movie (but still funny) “Joe” on any list. These movies mean something special to me, so I had to include them. This is a personal list. Each movie touches me in some way. The Simpsons Movie will never touch me. Cat Ballou is on the list because it is my mother’s favorite comedy. I enjoy it mainly because my mother fell off her seat in the theater the first time that she saw it, she laughed so hard.

Here is the list:

1) Bringing Up Baby (1938)
2) His Girl Friday (1940)
3) The Bride Came C.O.D. (1941)
4) Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948)
5) Harvey (1950)
6) Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
7) The Graduate (1967)
8) Joe (1970)
9) Adam’s Rib (1949)
10) My Man Godfrey (1936)
11) Cat Ballou (1965)
12) The Producers (1968)
13) Harold and Maude (1972)
14) Born Yesterday (1950)
15) The Trouble With Harry (1955)
16) It’s a Gift (1934)
17) She Done Him Wrong (1933)
18) Sleeper (1973)
19) Dinner at Eight (1933)
20) Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

I had a dozen more good movies on the list and on any given day, the order of these movies would change and other movies could appear in the top 20. The order is only approximate. I will think of others that should be on the list.

I know Bringing Up Baby will always be the greatest comedy of all time. You’ll notice that I am not a Marx Brothers or Laurel and Hardy fan. There is only one W.C. Fields and only one Mae West on the list, because although their movies are funny, they are not really good movies. In addition to being funny, a comedy has to have a good, more or less realistic plot and stand alone as a good movie. A movie that is just an excuse for gags is not a good comedy.

There are no comedies after 1973 on the list. Somewhere in the early 1970s, Hollywood lost its sense of humor. I blame cocaine. I wanted to include “Sweet Sweetback’s Badass Song”, but it really doesn’t belong on any list, except the one in my head.

The funniest line in any movie on the list is Bette Davis kissing Jimmy Cagney and then shouting “Mustard!” in the Bride Came C.O.D. This is even funnier than “George, Here George” in Bringing up Baby.






July 27th, 2007

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair

I finished Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Repair by Robert Pirsig on the way to work this morning. I had a long email discussion with Johnny B. about this book and the the sophists. He was reading what he could find of Heraclitus and we were discussing the Socratic philosophers and the break between Plato and Aristotle. I look at this historically because I took several courses in Medieval philosophy and science in my short ill-fated stay at Hunter College in the early 70s.

I viewed the first three quarters of the book as a rehash of the stuff that I enjoyed back then. I saw Aristotelian thought as the scientific realist approach and the enemy was the neoplatonism that had been developed during the middle ages. The trial of Galileo is the culmination of this, and although Galileo lost and recanted his science, the trial is the point where Aristotelian thought predominates and science is able to start building the modern world.

Unfortunately, religion has never given up its Platonist origins and seeks for the absolute in great abstract structures. Persig seems to go off in another direction in a silly kind of new age wifty discussion of quality. It seems all sort of pointless and and abstraction of abstractions. The end of the book is sad and disappointing. I was enjoying all the discussion until the last chapter. Persig makes it worse by giving us a follow up about his tragic life. The book wound up on such a down note that I am sorry I spent the time on it.

If no one wants to listen to it, I will put it out in eBay this weekend.






July 26th, 2007

Potter tape

According to the tracking information from Amazon, my Potter tape arrived in the West Nyack Post Office today. It should be in the mailbox when I get home. I am currently listening to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which I think is a very good read. I have four tapes to go, but I don’t know if I will put off listening until after Potter.

The postponement of gratification is the very foundation of western civilization. Who said this? (besides Poker Jim.)

Potter Porn Clicks:
Last month I closed down my Britney Naked spoof pages. I immediately saw a drop of almost 50% in my web ad revenue. I could not figure out how this happened. Formerly, my most lucrative site was harpamps.com, where the spoof site started, but the traffic there dropped by 75% where at the same time JT30.com doubled. I could not figure out how the spoof pages changed all of this. I figured it was just the search engines reindexing my site and page rankings had changed.

I finally figured out that in the redesign of HarpAmps, I took out the links to my generated landing pages. These are keyword pages – for instance dumble.php, which is made up of only links to Dumble amp references on my site. (Dumble made guitar amps, which are very collectible.) I wrote a program a while back to analyze my keywords and generate these landing pages designed to attract the search engines. It must have been important, because after a few weeks of them being deleted, my traffic dropped in half!

It wasn’t Britney that caused me to loose money, but my own mistake at deleting these links. About two weeks ago, I put them back. The spiders have indexed my site, and today, my stats are coming back to the way they were. I am back over $30 a day and heading towards the $100 figure – which is where I retire.

Strangely enough, though, my biggest keyword for all of my sites is still “Potter Porn”. I used this in on one of my spoof pages and I am still getting thousands of people looking for Potter porn. I don’t understand this. Who wants to see Potter porn? I just don’t get it.






July 25th, 2007

Hope for the younger generation

I play harp. Not all harp players are old guys. Check out this lesson from harp player Jason Ricci. Other than the fact that he needs a haircut, I totally get this guy, even though I am old enough to be his grandfather.






July 23rd, 2007

Potter Anxiety

I ordered the Potter book through Amazon, who promised to get it to me at or near the release date. The projected delivery date, however is August 1. The promised date applied only to the book and not to the the book on tape. I stopped at B&N to see if they had it, but they wanted $55 for it. Walmart, on their website, said that they had it for $44, so I stopped at a Walmart (only the second time in my life that I’ve set foot in one of these places), but they did not have it in stock. It reminds me of a Yiddish joke – “I’d charge only $35 for it if I didn’t have it in stock”.

I will have to wait until August first to start listening to it. In the mean time, I will have to try to ignore Ward’s critic emails. His last email was just “Owl Dead”. I don’t want to know, and this is making me afraid that I don’t actually want to listen to it. Ward is downloading the chapters from the internet and using his iPod clone to listen to it. I don’t really like this. Rowling has done something very unique in the Potter books, and Jim Dale is the best narrator one could imagine. They deserve my cash.






July 23rd, 2007

Another lost submission

My submissions stats show editors loosing exactly 50% of my stories since I started subbing the latest pieces in May. This last one was from a gmail Address to a gmail Address. I can look at the messages and see that it was sent – I used the same email for the query and got the response. I sent it out again, but this jinxes this market: all it will mean is that I get a super fast reject when the reader recognizes it. I have one last story out at 71 days – I suspect that this one is a lost soul also.
I haven’t used snail mail to sub in about two years. Maybe I’ll send some of this last batch of stories to F&SF, Weird Tales, etc. It will be a strange thing if the Post Office is more reliable than the internet.






July 20th, 2007

Unidentified Man killed outside Colo. governor’s office

Unidentified Man killed outside Colorado governor’s office
He reportedly claimed to be ‘emperor’ taking over state government

J hasn’t updated his blog lately. I’m a little worried.

Man killed outside Colo. governor’s office






July 20th, 2007

Generation Chickenhawk – Young Republicans

I like this video – Max Blumenthal took a camera into a convention of young Republicans. The mendacity sort of makes you sick to your stomach.

I can remember not understanding the Young Republicans back in 1968 when I saw these crew-cutted guys trying to act like activists. Now, unfortunately, I understand them better. They are sad cases. They are white Uncle Tom’s, suffering from some kind of Stockholm Syndrome, where they kiss the hand that would destroy them. They have, through some perverse reaction to stress, learned to love their enslavers.

Generation Chickenhawk: The Unauthorized College Republican Convention Tour from huffpost and Vimeo.






July 19th, 2007

Heinlein Short Story Contest

The Heinlein Society is hosting a Centennial Short Story Contest for the best original story expressing the spirit, ideas, and philosophy of Robert A. Heinlein.

I am a child of Heinlein in many ways. I have written many (bad) stories where I try to copy his style, mood and philosophy. I need to get together a few good ideas and enter one of them.

It looks like we have a few months to ponder this. The winners will be announced in July of 2008, so I figure the closing date around the end of the year.

Centennial Short Story Contest:
“All stories must employ an original universe of characters and locations (sorry, no Lazarus Long stories), and should be fewer than 15,000 words in length. Entries shall be judged by a most august panel of professional writers, editors, and Heinlein scholars.”






July 18th, 2007

Habitable Planets for Man

I got this from Bob Sawyer’s Blog (very much worth reading once in a while).

The Rand Corporation is a think tank. They produce high quality analysis on different problems and corporations and governments spend quite a bit of money for these reports. They have made some of their older documents available as downloads.

This PDF file for Habitable Planets for Man is an very good introduction into what it would take for man to survive on another planet or artificial environment. Sawyer claims that this is his main text book for world building. I have gone through about 30 pages so far and I believe him. There is a wealth of very technical information presented with good explanations. If you ever write a story where men will drop down onto a planet then you need this book.

The book is a scan of the original document and there are many minor problems with it, including, what looks like a lost page. It is about 40 or more years out of date on some things. It was written in 1948 and it was updated, but not recently. It is still a very good read. Scan through it now so when you write that space adventure and come up with a question, you will know exactly where to go to find the answer.

Habitable Planets for Man






July 17th, 2007

Lost Story Update

My bad luck is holding. Coyote Wild, after buying my story and holding it for ten months, has told me that it doesn’t fit and they won’t be publishing it. They released it back to me. I had warned them that I thought that it was a tough fit in any magazine – not sf or fantasy – neither hare nor hound, but they bought it anyway. It is more of an early Weird Tales Bradbury style story without Ray’s brilliant use of language.

I’ll send it out again, of course, but I am deeply disappointed. The story itself was suggested by an article in BoingBoing and I was going to tell BoingBoing about it because a link there is worth 10,000 hits – so much for marketing strategies.