Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
April 30th, 2008

The TiECON/Chitika Blogpreneur Contest 2008

Blogging has evolved into a small but powerful force in cyberspace. Harnessing this force is more difficult than one would expect, and this is due to the great variety of Blogs. It is not like an entrepreneur can devise a plan to utilize blogging in a business plan and expect it to succeed. Motivating bloggers is like herding cats.

Blogs are not usually started with a conscious goal. Bloggers are not coldly rational businessmen. Blogs are not read to simply acquire information. Blogs, in short, are not work related.

Blogs are driven by passion.

I’ve seen the blogs with the scan of a Google check proving some blogger made thousands of dollars. Bloggers, though, seldom make much money and blogs started with the express intent to generate income are generally failures.

The blogs that are read are the blogs that inspire passion. The blogs that inspire passion are written with passion. Blogging is not a mechanical process where a blogger can follow a dozen simple steps and create a blog that people will read. Good blogs are written by people who deeply care about their subject matter and who can translate their care into exciting blog entries.

For a blog to be successful, it must have a new entry every day or so. Readers do not return to a static page more than a few times, but a reader will bookmark a blog that has a unique and interesting entry posted on a regular basis. For a blogger to come up with an interesting entry every day or so, the blogger must feel passion for his entries. It is too much trouble to find a boring entry for a boring blog on a regular basis.

If a blogger feels strongly about something, no matter how silly, stupid or odd, there is a certainty that there are several thousand people who also feel strongly about the same stupid, silly or odd stuff. It is just a matter of time before all these people find each other. The internet is so large and Googling is so powerful that it would be impossible to keep them apart.

There is no secret formula. There is no methodology that makes blogs good. There is just passion and a willingness to communicate that passion.

If you have any ideas or clues as to what makes a good blog. You can enter the Chitika Blogpreneur Contest by creating a blog entry and putting the badge below on your blog.

TiECON Blogpreneur Contest 2008

The Chitika Blog » The TiECON/Chitika Blogpreneur Contest 2008






April 30th, 2008

Baskin-Robbins 31 Cent Scoop Night

I don’t know, but I thought that Erica might be interested in going out tonight:

Baskin-Robbins 31 Cent Scoop Night






April 29th, 2008

The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches

I received a spat of new cliches for the list. Since I am only giving the list a temporary home, I was reluctant to alter it.

I gave in and created a form where users could add to the list. The list is now open for spam and abuse, so I will have to monitor it for a while. I used my little antispam CAPTCHA image to test for humans, but even real humans put stupid stuff on the page. I will have to check for a variety of bad things that are not sciencefictional. This may be a bad idea.






April 25th, 2008

Friday at Work

It’s about 4pm, I have nothing I want to work on, and I have to kill some time before I can sneak out.

I just finished Zane Grey’s Riders of the Purple Sage. I must confess that I’ve read a Zane Grey book or two before and was not impressed. I am a big fan of Louis L’Amour, and I felt that Louis did a better job with the western genre.

But, Riders is not much like any western that I’ve ever read. It is about a group of men and women struggling against the corruption and greed of the Mormon Church in 1871. Mormons are not treated well in this book. This was before Mormonism gave up polygamy and part of the plot is about a pious Mormon woman who does not want to marry a Mormon Bishop who has other wives, not because of the wives, but because she doesn’t love him.

The plains of northern Utah are covered with purple sage and part of the charm of the book is the wonderful descriptions of the purple sage and the romantic landscape. The descriptions take your breath away at times.

The characters are very compelling. There is a young rider who accidentally shoots a girl who is riding with some rustlers and nurses her back to life. There is the mysterious gunfighter named Lassiter. There is the beautiful and rich Mormon woman struggling with her faith.

This is all wonderfully told and woven together with a plot that could have been a Greek tragedy or a play by Shakespeare. It is absolutely riveting. Grey takes a while to bring the plot up to speed, but the second half of the book, with its awesome imagery and breathtaking pace is as good as I’ve ever read.

TV and Movie westerns have probably prejudiced us against the western genre. When I had written a western story, I couldn’t find even one online ezine publishing western stories, yet there are hundreds of spec-fic ezines. This is a great loss because I think that the Western is a very basic and essential genre and worth reading and writing.

I suggest your put your preconceived notions away for a few days and give Riders of the Purple Sage a chance. If you’re like me you’ll find yourself Googling the the internet for the sequel. There must be a sequel – I want to find out what happened to these people!






April 25th, 2008

GoogleSyndication.com blocked

My workplace uses WebSense.com to “protect” its employees from bad sites. It blocks YouTube, MySpace, Flickr, and other websites. It seems to block sites with the word Download or Hack in the HTML title. Naturally, I take offense to this, because I would love to spend my day watching YouTube or browsing Flickr.

I just noticed that there were no ads appearing on my websites the last time I checked them and traced it to WebSense blocking googlesyndication.com. Googlesyndication is the web site that delivers AdSense ads. I think that the county may be in trouble with this decision. They are in actuality allowing its employees to surf websites without allowing them to see the ads. In effect they are cheating the websites out of a portion of the revenue that the surfing would normally incur.

The county is probably trying to cut down on the bandwidth of its network pipes. If they can cut ads and some other traffic, their internet gateway expense may be lower in the long run. This is good for the county and good for the tax payers.

It is bad for anyone who is running a free service subsidized by Adsense ads. The county is stealing from these sites.

Many people run FireFox just so they can run AdBlock with it and avoid seeing the dancing baloney that slows down so many websites. I even recommend it. This is different than an entire county, that is supposed to serve all of the people in the county, denying web site owners the ability to make a few cents.

I wonder how much more money my websites would make if corporate, educational and governemental networks did not block advertising.






April 25th, 2008

SpecFicL Mailing List – Speculations Replacement?

Back before the web, when all I had was email, I joined Blues-L. This is a mailing list. I signed up and I received messages from Blues lovers all over the world. If I answered a message, rather than going to the message author, the response was sent to the list server and got sent to everyone on the list.

The advantages of a list server is that there is no central web page. You get individual messages or a daily digest of all messages for the day right in your email in basket. No one actually knows your personal email address, so you are relatively anonymous.

Email lists are usually lively and more immediate than web pages. They encourage discussion in the way a BBS cannot do. Spammers have not yet infiltrated list servers because you have to sign up and wait for approval and have a valid email address.

I started the SpecFicL list. It seems odd to me that no one has done this, but after a little Googling, I could not find an active list for science fiction. There is a mostly dead list for Science Fiction movies, but nothing currently active.

I decided to do this because Speculations.com closed. Speculations was the liveliest discussion forum that I have ever been on, but the spammers killed it. I also suspect that they may have been sued by the Publish America, because there was so much discussion about them.

If you are interested in SF and writing SF, please try out the list. We’ll see if anything comes of it. It is easy to unsubscribe if you don’t like it. A word of warning, that if this becomes popular, there will be a good deal of traffic. A friend once described a List as trying to drink from a fire hose. This probably won’t take off, but then again it just might.

Join the SpecFicL List






April 25th, 2008

Justine’s MacBook Air

Justine sent pictures. Her iPhone camera is pretty poor, but you get the idea. The other computer is her older one, which I am lobbying to get. It might require me to drive to the city with my brother and rough her up, though.








April 25th, 2008

Cult Book List

The London Telegraph listed the top 50 cult books, and I am blogging it because I have determined from the list that I must belong to a cult.

Of the 50, I have read more than a few of these. Often, I find these are lists of books made popular in the last 10 years and I am not a reader of popular books. I have read more than half. I have not read many recent books, so the newer ones on the list are a mystery to me.

Here are the ones that are on the list that I like.

- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut – Probably the best Vonnegut – It leaves you in a cold sweat
- The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell – I think the it is the most intensely beautiful book(s) that ever written. I re-read it recently and have been inspired by ideas in the book.
- Catch-22 by Joseph Heller – I haven’t read this in 35 years, but it did change my views on war and society.
- The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger – I felt that I was Holden Caulfield when I read this as a teenager.
- The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley – This book explains how to think about our senses. It was a hippie book.
- Dune by Frank Herbert – Maybe the best all around SF book. I have read it at least 10 times by my count.
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – As a programmer I am intrigued by the number 42.
- The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe – Turned me on to Kerouac and the Beats.
- Gödel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas R Hofstadter – brain candy.
- Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon – Good, very intense book, but I was not as impressed as some. I must read it again.
- Iron John: a Book About Men by Robert Bly – repackaging of Jung, but a good way to look at our cultural DNA.
- On The Road by Jack Kerouac – What an asshole, but I read and re-read it.
- The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran – I haven’t thought about this for years. It is romantic fluff, but it sticks with you.
- The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám tr by Edward FitzGerald – I love the existential beauty of this.
- Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse – Another book read as a teenager that seems to echo on and on.
- The Stranger by Albert Camus – I read this when I was a depressed 14 year old and it struck home.
- Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche – hard work, and unpleasant conclusions, but full of brilliant moments.
- Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: an Inquiry into Values by Robert M Pirsig – Pirsig’s philosophical journey is wonderful, even if the arrival point is dissapointing.

It is near unbelievable that I have read more than half on the list and that I agree with these 18 at least as being very important books.

These books should be on the list.

- Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein – This is still a cult book and a good read.
- Rats Lice and History by Hans Zinsser – My Dad gave me this. It is the history of Plagues done very very well. I keep finding people who include this on their top 10 list.
- One Two Three Infinity by George Gamow – Seriously turned me on to Science and Math. This book has influenced more modern scientists than you can believe.
- Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien – It was a cult book until they made those awful movies.
- Neuromancer by William Gibson – The only book where I started over again on page one when I finished the last page. In 1990s I had decided that SF was dead. When I read this book I started plotting out stories that I eventually wrote down. Gibson made me want to write again. It is a very hard book to read and I don’t casually recommend it, but it is well worth the effort.

I am at work and have to look busy. Someday I’ll make a longer list of influential books.

Bloggers, you might want to check out the list on the telegraph and see if you agree with any of them.

50 best cult books – Telegraph






April 24th, 2008

Being an only child, Nyack is not use to sharing

I received a google alert about a Flikr photo set about a family of Lions at the San Diego Zoo and one feisty kitten in particular named Nyack.






April 24th, 2008

Southern Fried Weirdness

I was born in North Carolina and spent summers in Garden City, South Carolina when I was a kid. I stayed up the street from Mickey Spillane’s house. (Years later I met Spillane’s niece who claimed to remember me.) Although I’ve lived most of my life within an easy bus ride from New York City and talk like a noo yawker, I have these well hidden southern roots.

A while back I sent a story to Southern Fried Weirdness. It was a very weird flash story with a southern theme. They never published it and I chalked it up to my bad luck with editors. Too many times they either lose my story, or if they buy it, forget that they have it.

Well T.J. over at SFW lost the story. I made the mistake of asking him what’s up this week (about nine months after the sale). He found the story and upped my pay rate. He told me the story would appear in his new eZine and also appear in the print anthology coming out by the end of the year.

I have this feeling that if I just concentrate I can figure out this writing and publishing stuff, but mostly it just confuses me.

Southern Fried Weirdness | Southern Speculations






April 24th, 2008

Justine’s new MacBook Air

Justine just sent me an email message from her brand new MacBook Air. She does this to annoy me.

It works.

Pictures to follow.






April 24th, 2008

50 Things You Should Not Blog About on Squidoo

If you remember, I blogged this list a while ago and it picked up some del.icio.us bookmarks, but it hasn’t gone anywhere in a while. I revised the list and put it on Squidoo.com and they picked it up as a feature page. Please click on the link below so I can get a few impressions on the page and bump up the rank.

If you have a del.icio.us account, click on the bookmark on the right when you get to the page. Squidoo has actually paid me a small amount for the 13 Ghost Movies Page that I put there and it is still ranked pretty high.

50 Things You Should Not Blog About on Squidoo






April 24th, 2008

I have found the worst web site on the internet

I once thought about making a blog carnival about really really bad websites. While checking my log files for who was clicking on Freenameastar.com, I came to this one. Dogster.com is like a social networking site for dogs.

I have given up on the blog carnival idea, even though it probably would have made money. After all, now I have seen the ultimate bad website. My eyes are still burning.

Dog profile for ZEKE THE GROOM TO BE






April 23rd, 2008

Priest attached to party balloons vanishes in Brazil

I am not sure why I blogged this. It is so bizarre that I just can’t ignore it. The image demands to be written up as a flash fiction story about alien abduction or Fortean disappearance. If AstoundingTales.com was still running, I’d make this the monthly flash challenge.

A Roman Catholic priest who floated off under hundreds of helium party balloons was missing today off the southern coast of Brazil.

Priest attached to party balloons vanishes in Brazil – Los Angeles Times