Wednesday, September 12, 2012

eBook Avalanche

With the explosion of e-books and e-readers, free e-books are available just about anywhere on the Internet. I have downloaded 30 to 35 free e-books, some highly recommended, and have deleted almost all of them.  There are very few diamonds to be found in the avalanche of free, easily downloaded e-books. Many had not even been spell-checked.

From spelling errors, bad grammar, blatant plagiarism, unsupported assertions, and egotistical, self-indulgent mental wanderings, the spectrum of bad writing is well covered by the free downloads! More than a few self-proclaimed e-book authors and experts have spoiled the resource of free downloads for me, it will be a while before I bother downloading more of them.

Many supposedly non-fiction books are just plain nonsense, creations of someone's ability to simply type at a keyboard and hit the upload button without using any of the reference features of their word processor or the Internet. One non-fiction book I downloaded, and almost immediately erased, was supposedly chock full of hints about getting your e-book published. It was filled with assumptions and incorrect information, spelling errors that any word processor should have caught, and a naive assumption that everything the author wrote was cast in stone. I'm surprised the author actually had the e-book published especially if he followed his own recommendations.

On the fiction side of the free e-book world, every possible combination of unlikely, politically incorrect heroine or unwashed, distasteful, outcast hero has been exhausted. Fiction books seem to be in the same realm as comic books, which may actually be better written. If I read the phrases “special agent,” or “steal the formula” one more time, I'll put my Kindle on the shelf and go back to the classics.

Editors and publishers must be wondering what the literary world is coming to. In the free e-book world, mankind is always saved by some maverick/outcast/sociopath who doesn't follow the rules/laws/covenants of civilization, but is smarter/stronger/swifter and more resourceful/clever/ingenious than any government/religion/corporation on earth.

The protagonist agency/commission/office is always sinister/incompetent/inept in some way that the unlikely hero/heroine always masters because his/her dad/mother was a scientist/genius/prisoner who inspired his/her offspring to rise above the elitist/plebeian masses, and in the process, endowed them with the luck of a cat with nine lives. I like to strike out every third word from the main character's dialog just to make the book interesting. Sometimes, though, I find it really doesn't make much difference.

Almost all literary best-sellers are available from as e-books from reputable on-line vendors for a fee, although sometimes at quite exorbitant prices. One recent best-seller cost more for the e-book than the print version! The often unrealistically high prices asked by some authors or publishers for e-books may actually be the key to the popularity of the free downloads.

There are many old classics out there for those who want only free e-books. Even Strunk and White's Elements of Style is available. Well, obviously that one doesn't get downloaded often. At least, not often enough by the most writers of the free e-books.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

British Ineptitude

That is the new name of the organization formerly known as British Intelligence. The name change slipped through quietly with the recent revelation that the famous home of James Bond has a very serious problem. They thought one of their top young mathematicians, a 31-year-old single man named Gareth Williams, may have committed suicide by scrunching into a red canvas duffel bag in his bathtub while naked, closing the zipper and somehow locking it with a padlock. [Author's note: Per British Authorities - it should be noted the padlock was outside the canvas bag

He then proceeded to either suffocate or starve to death, but the British authorities, however, aren't sure of the real cause of death. According to television news reports on CNN, “the body was too decomposed to determine the cause of death.” Sounded almost plausible to that point, but then they announced Gareth's body was discovered by police immediately after British Ineptitude reported him missing from work. Oddly, he missed a complete week of work before someone at BI noticed he wasn't there. To be so seriously decomposed in only a week as to preclude autopsy simply doesn't work. At least not without extenuating circumstances, as say, perhaps dipped in acid.

No one in the media, however, blinked an eye as they dutifully reported BI hired experts who climbed into the bag (hopefully they used a similar bag, not the original, but, with BI, who knows) and although they managed to zip the bag closed while in it, individually, of course, they found they could not latch the padlock. British Ineptitude now has a real problem on their hands: “just exactly how did Gareth climb into the bag and kill himself?” That was an exact quote from a television news broadcast.

But the revelations just keep coming! On May 2nd, 2012, according to the Associated Press, Coroner Fiona Wilcox said, ”Gareth was likely killed either by suffocation or poisoning in a "criminally meditated act" and acknowledged it was possible that an intelligence agency colleague may have been involved.” “It is likely that Gareth entered the bag alive and then died very soon afterward," the coroner continued.

To help facilitate the name change, the infamous agency also announced Williams was found dead in August of 2010. The incident has been under investigation for 21 months! The coroner's inquest took over a week! In addition, the agency still hasn't commented on the flaming orange woman's wig found hanging on a dining room chair. 

The agency still doesn't have a clue, just a new name. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Launch

It's been a long, long time since I worked on missiles. Not rockets, but missiles. Guided cruise missiles that each carried over a million tons of TNT to someplace we didn't want to exist once a shooting war started. I have seen rocket-powered ballistic missiles, but the missiles I worked on were far less dramatic, too boring for most U.S. media coverage.

It was with great interest that I watched the American media do its best to scare the living daylights out of the public with its amateurish and shallow reporting about the North Korean ballistic missile test in April, 2012.  Gone are the days when actual experts described what could be seen, replaced by news readers intent on whatever script is handed them.

When shown for the first time on television, I was surprised at the small size of the primary lift section, the first stage of the missile. I had already learned from a serious, concerned reporter from a cable news network I honestly hadn't identified, that the missile was a liquid-fueled missile. That would make the diameter of the first stage too small too lift any serious, space station type payloads.  The size might be comparable to the latest Minuteman or Poseidon first stages which are both solid-fueled.  Solid fueled rockets don't have to be fueled before use: they already are! That makes the North Korean missile a generational throwback if it is to be used as a weapon.  

Next, the payload was supposedly a primitive rectangular satellite vaguely reminiscent of the square space ship used by the Borg in the television series, “Star Trek, The Next Generation.” I leaned forward in my chair. This was getting interesting, but not for the reasons being blathered by the talkathon coming from the newscast.

As I replayed the recording over and over again, I thought to myself, “DoD must be laughing its ass off.” This thing is not much bigger than a Thor, an IRBM we retired some 40 years ago. The payload section, a reentry vehicle which contains the warhead in a weapon, or the satellite if the unit is to go into orbit, appeared to be far too small to house the rectangular satellite displayed as the payload by the North Koreans. Who is kidding whom here? And why? I dismissed the missile as a disaster waiting to happen, or at best, a really expensive propaganda exercise to bolster their massive egos.  At best, the program is akin to American ballistic missile progress in the late 50s or early 60s.

Several days later I was fortunate enough to catch Richard Engels of NBC reporting from North Korea. He, or someone on his news team, had been allowed access to the launch center control room and had taken videos of the supposed nerve center. Big mistake for the North Koreans. Perhaps they were impressed with oscilloscope displays of analog signals, probably the North Korean Military band playing patriotic marches, but I simply stared at three large-screen displays showing absolute nonsense in utter amazement. The control room was barren by anyone who has launched a missile's standards. Sixteen technicians, or actors pretending to be technicians, sat in pairs at consoles arranged in two rows like a school room. A single, large screen display dominated the center of the room. It looked exactly like a set from an old James Bond movie. My first impression was that the real control room was located somewhere else, probably China. I could hardly wait to see the launch, if it ever proceeded that far.

So, on April 12th, it was with mild amusement I listened to frowning, serious American newscasters explain the North Korean missile lifted off but destroyed itself less than 90 seconds into its flight. I'm surprised it got that far. Perhaps the band quit playing and the displays in the control room went blank.

The question isn't why it failed, but rather why they bothered in the first place.

George Mindling

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Election Industry

U.S. unemployment numbers are down for the first time in four years! The new figures haven't been felt in all industries, however, as mostly electronic and print media companies, and button manufacturers seem to be cranking up the presses, so to speak. The rapid rise in employment seems to be fueled by revenues coming from unannounced, even secretive sources that appear to have only U.S. origins. The increase in U.S. employment has not yet been matched by any International fluctuations as far as the IMF can tell.

Greece, for example, has shown no such drastic increase, nor has Spain, with its chronic unemployment for anyone under the age of thirty. In addition, neither Ireland nor Portugal has shown any such employment surge. China, however, is singular in its recent manufacturing increases as several large U.S. Button manufacturers recently shipped new orders overseas to increase profits and avoid U.S. Taxes. These companies have told their overseas manufacturers to prepare for drastic increases in the third quarter of this year.  Chinese officials say they are absorbing the increased orders without increasing manufacturing capabilities as they are not convinced the cycle is sustainable, at least not for more than the end of this year. 

The United States is apparently alone in this drastic, unexpected rise in employment.  Oddly, only certain segments of the economy are feeling the growth, particularly those involved in consulting, advertising, teeth whitening, bumper sticker distribution, and ghost writing, which has shown an astonishing 400 percent growth since last December. Florida led the way recently with an unaccountable twenty-five million dollar surge that unfortunately dissipated soon after January 31st

State officials hurriedly pointed out the indicators for increased spending are on the horizon for the middle of this year that they hope will possibly surpass the huge amount seen the first part of this year. State officials also hope Tampa, for reasons not disclosed, will be the economic “Start Button” for Florida, but those same officials, off-the-record, indicated past histories have shown that Tampa can not sustain either the enthusiasm for unbridled spending or a winning NFL football team.

Republican pundits dismissed the economic growth, which reflects well on the Obama administration, saying they have seen this kind of election trickery before. One House of Representative member commented from the first Tee at Doral's, Blue Monster “I have never seen so many caddies here before in my life, but that doesn't always translate into sustainable growth! I know that after the beginning of next year things will fall back like they always do. We need to cut Social Security and Medicare as soon as possible!  ...Fore!”

While the White House denies any specific Federal program can be attributed to the increased spending, it states emphatically the White House can not be responsible for decisions made by other branches of the government that allow people, such as General Motors, Pfizer, Boeing, or any other person, from revitalizing any industry they choose to invest in.

The White House says it will continue to do its part to reduce unemployment by encouraging use of radio, television, surfing the Internet, and wearing buttons. 


Friday, February 17, 2012

Conservative Leaders Criticize Obama

Conservative Leaders Criticize Obama ‘Attack’ on Religion

In a rare display of religious unity, both Mullahs of the ruling Iranian Party and the Taliban of Afghanistan, joined with the Republican Party of the United States in the unanimously denouncing President Obama's January 20th announcement requiring sectarian schools and hospitals to provide birth-control coverage to employees. Republican leaders, seeking to rally conservatives at an annual gathering, accused President Barack Obama of assaulting religious liberty by requiring sectarian schools and hospitals to provide birth-control coverage to employees.

The Mullahs scoffed at the Obama policy, saying they handled the birth control issue quickly and fairly, pointing out the execution of Atefah Ali, a 16 year old Iranian Girl for “Crimes against Chastity.” “We don't need no stinking contraceptives,” sneered one young Mullah. We have an endless supply of stones which we throw accurately and with great fervor to support our laws about Chastity.

Spurred by the religious fervor and unexpected support, the Senate Minority Leader Republican Mitch McConnell said, “The Obama administration has crossed a dangerous line,” addressing hundreds of Republican activists who attended the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.  “We will fight this attack on the fundamental right to religious freedom until the courts overturn it,” said McConnell, Senator from Kentucky.

According to the Associated Press, “The administration’s decision, announced Jan. 20, has quickly entered the presidential campaign. Catholic bishops ordered lectures from pulpits across the country. Republicans view the ruling as a potential liability for Obama, particularly in swing states including Michigan and Pennsylvania with large populations of Catholic voters.”

The Taliban said the ruling would not affect areas of Afghanistan they now control, or will overrun in the near future, but were meeting only to show their unanimous support for God taking control of any government. The Iranian Mullahs were as united in their support of the American conservatives as well, demanding Mattel quit making an insidious instrument to defeat God's laws, the Barbie Doll. In support of their January 12th ban on the sale of Barbie Dolls, the 'Trojan horse' that the Mullahs claim sneaks in western influences like makeup and revealing clothes and helps undermine God's laws, the Mullahs showed a flickering black and white silent movie showing what appeared to be a young girl holding a Barbie doll instead of a Koran!

House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, has promised that his chamber will pass legislation to overturn Obama's rule.


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