Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Model 271 a hot seller

Muntader al-Zaidi, the Iraqi broadcast journalist who threw his shoes at George W. Bush recently, has created a hot market. According to Istanbul-based Baydan Shoes, al-Zaidi hurled one of their products, model 271, at the neocon U.S. president and has since received tens of thousands of orders worldwide for the shoe, which it has renamed the Bush shoe. Durgham al-Zaidi, the journalist's brother, disputes the claim of the Turkish firm, saying he believes the shoes were made and purchased in Iraq. He also criticized people for trying to make money from his brother's act of protest.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Happy Birthday, PC!


Without the personal computer, the status of liberty in today's government-dominated world would be much lower than it is. I'm sure there's controversy over when the PC was born, but December 19, 1974 is certainly a significant date in its history. On that day, the January, 1975 issue of Popular Electronics made its appearance with the Altair 8800 on its cover and caught the attention of Paul Allen and Bill Gates. The Harvard freshmen dropped out of school to write programs for the Altair and went on to found a software company.

Today's "This Day in Tech History" feature at Wired.com commemorates the Altair and that landmark issue of Popular Electronics.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Michael Crichton's "perfect writing environment"

Michael Crichton was a fascinating writer and I'm still saddened that he's no longer living, though I never met him. Amazon published a short quiz they gave him and I was particularly fond of one of his replies.
Q: Describe the perfect writing environment.
A: Small room. Shades down. No daylight. No disturbances. Macintosh with a big screen. Plenty of coffee. Quiet.
State of Fear has had 1,273 reviews on Amazon, with an average rating of three stars. The breakdown is as follows:
1,273 Reviews
5 star: (381)
4 star: (246)
3 star: (170)
2 star: (171)
1 star: (305)
It blasts the environmental movement for its political character. The book deserves five stars.





It deserves five stars.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Real Meaning of Thanksgiving

Richard Ebeling explains that when the first settlers tried communism, most of them died. There was incentive to shirk, not work. What saved them?

Gary Galles also has a piece on the real meaning of Thanksgiving, as does Gary North, who relates the event to marginal utility theory.

Unlikely friends

A friend sent me a link to this YouTube video, which has over 5 million views. There's no indication of how this "friendship" ends, but it's amazing to see.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Armistice Day Slaughter

As economist Bill Anderson notes, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month is memorable for one more eleven: There were 11,000 casualties that day, including 320 Americans killed in action. His great-uncle was one of the fallen.

John Hayes-Fisher writes:
The respected American author Joseph E Persico has calculated a shocking figure that the final day of WWI would produce nearly 11,000 casualties, more than those killed, wounded or missing on D-Day, when Allied forces landed en masse on the shores of occupied France almost 27 years later.

What is worse is that hundreds of these soldiers would lose their lives thrown into action by generals who knew that the Armistice had already been signed.
Of course, the myth persists that these and the millions of others who lost their lives were "serving their countries." They were pawns whom the politicians and their banker buddies manipulated and eagerly sacrificed. Commenting after the war, H. L. Mencken observed:
The Government hospitals are now full of one-legged soldiers who gallantly protected [J. P. Morgan’s] investments then, and the public schools are full of boys who will protect his investments tomorrow.
And the Federal Reserve was behind that lovely war, too [p. 124].

Friday, November 7, 2008

Michael Crichton

I was shocked this week to learn of the death of Michael Crichton, 66, from cancer. Thirteen of Crichton's books became films, including the blockbuster hit, Jurassic Park. The Harvard medical school graduate also published under pseudonyms, John Lange and Jeffery Hudson. His Jeffery Hudson novel, A Case of Need, won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Novel, 1969. He created the hit TV show, ER, and directed or wrote several movies, including Coma, a Robin Cook bestseller.

As his Wikipedia biography states, "In December 1994, he achieved the unique distinction of having the #1 movie (Jurassic Park), the #1 TV show (ER), and the #1 book (Disclosure, atop the paperback list)."

Crichton was rumored to have written 10,000 words a day at his peak. "He wrote seven days a week and would hide himself away in a sparsely furnished room to minimise distraction, eating the same thing for lunch every day . . . He would break off from his labours only to take exercise or to see his family. As each work progressed, he would wake up earlier and earlier until towards the end of each book he would be at his computer at 2am."

His books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide. As Jurassic Park director Steven Spielberg commented, “Michael was a gentle soul who reserved his flamboyant side for his novels. There is no one in the wings that will ever take his place.”

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Notes on Democracy review

My review of Dissident Books' new edition of Mencken's classic Notes on Democracy appears today on Strike the Root. The case against government as we know it is overwhelming, and as Mencken makes vividly clear, democracy is but another way to grow the state. Democratic Man, accordng to Mencken, is someone who
can imagine and even esteem, in his way, certain false forms of liberty – for example, the right to choose between two political mountebanks, and to yell for the more obviously dishonest -- but the reality is incomprehensible to him.
And Democratic Man will be going to the polls November 4 to express his false conception of liberty.

Monday, September 1, 2008

iPatriot Act is ready and waiting

The government's war against freedom will one day include the internet.  The only thing needed for the iPatriot Act to pass is a web Pearl Harbor.  

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Why supermarket tomatoes taste flat

It's not because Florida tomato growers can't produce good-tasting tomatoes.

Art Carden explains:
Florida tomato grower Joe Procacci came up with a tomato that tasted great and could be produced economically. After intervention by the Florida Tomato Commission, however, Procacci was barred from selling his tomatoes to willing buyers.
After a decade of experimenting with Heirloom tomatoes, Procacci developed what he called the UglyRipe tomato, which the Florida Tomato Commission barred from export because it didn't meet its standards for roundness.

Gary Galles wrote in 2005:
In effect, the government has delegated [the FTC] the power to criminalize selling fruit other growers deem unfit to sell or selling it in ways they don’t approve of, even when buyers, fully in­formed about any shortcomings, would be eager customers. (Procacci had to turn away out-of-state buyers and take about $3 million in losses when denied an exemption from the roundness rules in January [2005].)
Whatever this is, it's not the free market at work. The FTC apparently wanted to protect the reputation of the state's tomato growers by limiting export to lousy-tasting tomatoes that were round.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Phelps vs. Cavic

I salute Michael Phelps for his incredible accomplishments at the Beijing Olympics. I also salute Milorad Cavic, whom Phelps beat by .01 seconds in the 100 meter butterfly to win his seventh gold medal, tying him with Mark Spitz. It was the closest race Phelps has had, with one more to go. According to what I've read, it is the smallest margin of victory possible in the Olympics.

But I am nagged by doubt. I watched the race and the video replays immediately after. The replays were far from conclusive. The Serbs filed a protest, but Olympic officials stood by the results, in spite of what the video showed. From a Reuters report:
Serb Olympic team officials believed Cavic had touched first and the timing system may have failed but Ben Ekumbo, the race referee, ruled the result should stand.

FINA [the sport's governing body] also said Phelps would not have lost the gold medal if the Serb protest had been upheld.

"It was a question to share or not share first place," said Cornel Marculescu, FINA's executive director. "With everything we saw, the first arrival was Michael Phelps."
According to race referee Ben Ekumbo of Kenya:
"I personally looked at the video footage and it was very clear that the Serbian swimmer touched second after Michael Phelps," said the Kenyan.

"It was clear from the video that it was an issue of stroking. One was stroking and the other was gliding.
If these officials saw video that convinced them I would like to see it. Michael Phelps is Big Money -- big money for more than Michael Phelps. A loss in his quest for a seventh gold medal would have deflated his market value considerably. It would have deflated interest in watching the Games. There were too many people in positions of power who stood to lose too much money if Phelps lost.

I don't know if the race results were fixed in any way. Maybe Phelps won because he really touched first. Maybe Phelps won because Cavic was too soft on his touch, as Ekumbo claimed. But saying Cavic was too soft on his touch is different than claiming Phelps touched first. Marculescu said "the first arrival" was Phelps. Ekumbo agreed. It sounds like the officials want to say Cavic touched first but not hard enough to register, and that he didn't touch first, Phelps did. Which is it, guys?

Given all the politics and money involved with the Olympics, this case is far from settled, for me, at least. But regardless, Michael Phelps is still a great champion, and I wish him well.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Tomatoes, anyone?


I have ten tomato plants growing in my backyard and today's haul was the best ever - 35 tomatoes, with more ripening on the plants.

Growing your own tomatoes (or other crops) can be very satisfying.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lobbyists spend billions

The U.S. government's 2008 fiscal year budget is $3 trillion.  Should we be surprised that there are over 15,600 registered lobbyists trying to snatch a portion of this loot?  Who are the biggest lobbyists?  According to AIER writer Richard Ebeling, the biggest industry lobbyist is pharmaceuticals and health care, followed by insurance, computers, and electric utilities. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the largest individual lobbyist, having spent over $52 million in 2007 attempting to shape government to its advantage.  Southern Company, my former employer, ranks No. 10, with 2007 expenditures of $14,560,000.

Freddie Mac ($8.5 million) and Fannie Mae ($5.6 million) have seen their bribes pay handsomely, securing for themselves a government bailout.  Or more precisely, a bailout provided by taxpayers. 

The taxpayers, of course, are always the forgotten ones

Kindle or Kindling?

According to an article on Wired.com, Amazon has sold 240,000 Kindles since the hand-held reading device went on sale last November, for a revenue of $100 million.  But what is the future of e-readers like Kindle?  Is the market saturated?  The heaviest readers are females 50 or over.  (Book writers, take note.) Quite possibly Amazon can get more customers by lowering the price significantly and making textbooks available as Kindle downloads.  They might also consider talking to Apple about redesigning it.  It's too clunky to get excited about.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hurricanes frequently happen

The politically-correct and taxpayer-funded global warming movement has critics who say, essentially, that the conclusion is not supported by the evidence.  But the critics don't get the funding.  


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Scriptwriting in one page

Wired has published a short article about how to write a script.  Called Turn Anything Into a Screenplay, its utter simplicity could serve to keep new writers on track.  If you feel inspired after finishing the article, be sure to check out Screenwriting Sanctuary.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

G8, not Olympics, real threat

As Bush and other world leaders gather in Japan for their annual G8 conference, some reporters are asking them why they aren't boycotting the Olympic Games in China next month.

Critics have called for world leaders to boycott the ceremony to protest China's repression of dissidents and support for pariah states Burma and Sudan.

Boycotting the Olympics would hurt the Chinese not the Chinese leaders, nor would it make the government loosen its restraints on domestic freedom. As for China's support of pariah states, they have plenty of company.

If people want to protest an abominable event, they should rise in opposition to the G8 itself. Consider:
Meeting in a resort on the northern Japanese island Hokkaido, the leaders of the G-8 nations – the United States, Japan, Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia, Canada and Italy — will work through a packed three-day agenda: global warming; soaring energy and food prices; economic uncertainty and financial turmoil following the collapse of the U.S. housing market; and the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran.
When world governments gather to "do something" about any problem, the results are predictably bad. Governments treat problems through the force of decree or legislation -- or sometimes war. Such intervention is the common pedigree of most problems facing us today. Politicians like the phrase "all options are on the table," but that's just another lie. "All options" never means de-controlling, never means free markets and free trade, never means staying free of foreign entanglements.

"I am for free commerce with all nations, political connection with none, and little or no diplomatic establishment. And I am not for linking ourselves by new treaties with the quarrels of Europe, entering that field of slaughter to preserve their balance, or joining in the confederacy of Kings to war against the principles of liberty." --Thomas Jefferson to Elbridge Gerry, 1799. ME 10:77

The problems G8 members will discuss are largely creatures of government meddling.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Headlines

I was greeted this afternoon by these headlines on my iGoogle page:
Navy's newest attack sub christened
and below it,
How to be safe in a foreign country
I have some questions:

1. Isn't there something unholy, or at least contradictory, about "christening" an attack sub? When was the last time we needed a super-duper attack sub to defend our country?
2. It's nice to know how to be safe in any country, so why limit the discussion to foreign countries? Does the article tell us how to be safe in a country that repudiates its constitution?




Saturday, May 3, 2008

A second book by Halloween?

When you're trying to sell a product you think of as many ways as you can to attract customer interest. Of course, there's nothing like a highly desirable product that sells itself, right? But then, even an intriguing product like Amazon's Kindle has to be priced right to generate huge sales. Amazon claims the Kindle sells as fast as they can get it, but I know they won't sell to me until the price takes a big nosedive.

I have several things in mind to increase sales of Flight. One, of course, is to lower the price. I cut the price the other day then noticed Amazon had tacked on a "sourcing fee" equal to amount I had lowered it, $2. I intended the $2 reduction to benefit customers and boost sales, but Amazon has scooped it up. They've scooped up nothing so far. I've contacted CreateSpace for an explanation. I really hope it's a mistake.

[If it's not a mistake, it might be a penalty for not using BookSurge for creating and editing the book. I did everything through CreateSpace -- another Amazon company -- but BookSurge apparently doesn't like people bypassing them. In doing a Google search I found discussions about that and about certain books getting hit with huge sourcing fees that Amazon claims are difficult to obtain. But my book had been with Amazon for a month without a sourcing fee. It's in stock, requiring no additional work on their part that I'm aware of. And I perused a list of other CreateSpace books for sale on Amazon and couldn't find any that had a "sourcing fee." Quite possibly all the books I looked at took the pricey path through BookSurge. At any rate, I'm hoping Amazon removes the penalty fee on my book. It benefits no one.]

Another thing that would help sales is good reviews. I've mailed complimentary copies to several people hoping for a good word somewhere but so far nothing. I will continue looking for potential reviewers.

Third, it would help if my book were paired under Amazon's "Better Together" promotion with another that sells well, so . . .

Why not write another one myself? I'm tentatively planning a nonfiction book based on the research and writing I've been doing on money and banking.

Both books would have a better chance if they were ready for the year-end shopping season. Having them both "Better Together" by Halloween would be ideal.

Yet another possibility is to contact traditional publishers. With the popularity of Revolution, which has moved up to No. 1 on Amazon, I might be able to get one or two of them to take a look at mine.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Amazon No. 16: Ron Paul's Revolution

The demand for Ron Paul's new book is enormous, today sitting at No. 16 on Amazon among all books, and holding the top spot in these categories:

#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Political
#1 in Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Political
#1 in Books > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Political Science > Political Doctrines

Congratulations, Dr. Paul. Even if you're not a Ron Paul fan, his book is worth reading if only for the government corruption it exposes. My review of Paul's book can be found here.
We have lost our belief that freedom works, because we no longer have the imagination to conceive of how a free people might solve its problems without introducing threats of violence -- which is what government solutions ultimately amount to. [p. 85]

Monday, April 7, 2008

CreateSpace

About two weeks ago I was exploring ways to get my book listed on Amazon and discovered CreateSpace, one of Amazon's companies. CreateSpace has no upfront charge for posting a book and will even get you an ISBN for no charge. If you already have an ISBN, fine. I didn't.

I was able to upload my manuscript and have it accepted immediately because the specs (6x9") were the same as Lulu's.

The challenge was the cover. It took me three days of trial and error to get it accepted, but I like the results better than the one I made for Lulu. I'm not a layout artist, nor do I have software that lets me do anything fancy.

Once the cover and contents were accepted, I ordered a proof copy and it looked good. I signed off on it and first noticed its listing on Amazon late Thursday, April 3. It looks good. And it's posted at a competitive $16.95.

So, with CreateSpace as my publisher I've obtained an Amazon listing for my book, for no upfront charge. Lulu was unclear about whether they could get an Amazon listing, and they wanted $100 for an ISBN. If someone wants a hardbound copy, I'll have to order through Lulu because CreateSpace doesn't do hardbound books. At the moment I'm not concerned that I don't have a hardbound offering on Amazon.

On Saturday, April 5, I noticed the book had already sold four copies through Amazon. I don't know who ordered them, and I never will know because of Amazon's privacy policy. I just know it wasn't me. I'm pleasantly amazed at the quick sales. I would make almost nothing on any book I sold through Lulu. Under my agreement with CreateSpace, I make a decent royalty on each book sold.

I'm very happy with CreateSpace and Amazon.

If you really write well and have a way of marketing your work, you could make good money this way.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Barbarous Relic Blog


Fortunately, the new 36-hour day allows me enough time to add another blog to my plate, this one devoted to "the world of monopoly money and central banking." The blog is part of my barbarous relic website.

I'm using Apple's iWeb to manage the blog, which so far has been satisfactory. It would be nice if it worked like this one, where all I have to do is click a button that says create post, then another called publish post when I'm done. Since I don't have a .Mac account, I have to FTP the updates myself. I use Panic Software's Transmit for that task. No real complaints about either iWeb or Transmit so far. I'm a big fan of easy-to-use yet powerful software that is low on bugs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Ordering prints through Apple's iPhoto



Yesterday (Tuesday) I decided to order prints from Preston's party and other events and send them to my mom in Pennsylvania. I selected 75 high-res photos and uploaded the order a little before noon. They were processed in California and flown to Memphis during the night. They were then flown to Philadelphia a little later. At 10 this morning a FedEx driver handed the prints to her. For less than $20, 75 photos of my choosing went from images on my computer to prints in my mom's hand in less than 24 hours. And I could've saved $6 if I had sent them standard shipping instead of express. The price per 4x6" print has dropped from 19 cents to 12 cents, and overnight shipping is $9.99. Don't these people know about inflation?

What a great deal.

Preston's birthday

My grandson Preston turned three on Monday, coincidentally the birthday of the great anarchist - economist, Gustave de Molinari. He had a party on Saturday and received some special gifts on Monday.


The monster truck moonwalk . . .


. . . was a big hit with the kids.


Testing his new bike, which has both front and rear brakes.


After doing a spin-out in his new car.


Beating granddad to the finish line.

I also took some video:

They made it



The cover looks pretty good, for the most part. But check out the margins below.



I have some work to do.

Monday, February 25, 2008

The Books are Coming

The first two hardbound copies of my novel that Lulu shipped last Friday are in transit and on-time for UPS delivery Wednesday 2/27/2008. Last night I couldn't sleep thinking about all the possible problems with the whole project. I imagine the formatting of the published book to be messed up to the point of being unreadable, or that I'll see killer flaws in the story that had stayed hidden until their emergence in book form.

But I calmed myself with the reminder that I ordered these copies for the very purpose of seeing what needs fixing. Only when I'm satisfied will I apply for an ISBN, make it available in paperback, etc.

I can't wait for the books to arrive.

Family videos on YouTube

Not all my videos are political. Today's is one of several that feature my grandson Preston, who'll be three in a week. This one shows him playing hoops with a door-hanging basket and a soccer ball. For music I used Brother Bones and His Shadows' incomparable version of Sweet Georgia Brown.



I managed to edit and upload the video while he napped. Thank God for children's naps.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

BookSurge

Amazon's publish-on-demand company is BookSurge, which I emailed last weekend to see what they do and what they charge.

According to a reply I received they don't publish hardbound books. My effort at Lulu, therefore, has not been completely wasted. If I can get a hardbound copy of my novel into a reviewer's hands I think my chances for a positive review will be high. I think my chances for getting it reviewed, period, will be strongest if the reviewer has a hardbound to read.

But I still need a trade paperback available for the retail sales on Amazon and B&N. The hardbound edition is too costly to compete at the retail level, where I'm already at a disadvantage because of my obscurity. I would guess the paperback will be higher than traditionally published paperbacks but at least the price will be lower than the hardbound . . . I hope.

If I can't bring the price down by having it sold directly through online bookstores I'll see if I can set myself up as a reseller on their sites. That way, I can bring the price down considerably. Here's how I see it working: I buy a number of copies from a POD publisher. I get the book listed on Amazon, B&N at a price lower than what people would pay if they bought it directly from them. That part is attractive to potential buyers. That part that isn't is the statement that goes something like, "ususally ships in 2-3 days." Maybe I can get that changed, though. I would ship ASAP, that day or next day.

BookSurge had not replied to my last query in which I asked about the projected retail price for a 6x9" trade paperback version of my novel. I emailed them again a short while ago asking for a reply.

Maybe I'll have to do everything through Lulu.

My goal in using publish-on-demand is to show a potential traditional publisher that my book has commercial potential.

Meanwhile, I received an email from Lulu yesterday telling me the two copies I ordered have shipped. UPS has a projected delivery date of Wednesday, February 27. The copies I'm getting are comparable to proof sheets (I believe they're called) sent from a regular publisher.

If the copies look good I'll get an ISBN and go from there.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Ron Paul's Popularity

Using a highly unscientific measure, I've concluded that interest in Ron Paul has dropped significantly since last Tuesday's primaries. The video I created over the weekend - "Rocky" Ron Paul -- is languishing on YouTube, whereas a video I made two days before Super Tuesday -- Good Reasons to Vote for Ron Paul -- had hundreds of hits before the election results started rolling in.

Of course, this is hardly surprising.

Waning interest is one consequence of looking at poor numbers. Paul hasn't been getting the votes, ergo he's all but eliminated.

But Ron is the front man for a freedom movement that should never quit. Even if he bows out of the campaign his supporters need to stay together -- like the original Sons of Liberty -- and look ahead.

I say these things about Ron Paul from a position of total rejection of the state. I have little admiration for the Constitution because the convention that created it was itself a step in the direction of big government. In his campaign Ron frequently explains his positions on issues by referring to the Constitution. His comments have a rational pro-life ring only because government has long abandoned even the pretense of adhering to the Constitution, which is to say government is on a much higher rung of statism than the law of the land allows.

Ron Paul's views on the income tax, federal reserve, war, and government spending are being heard around the world. He is bringing people together who agree with his views. That is the great value of his campaign. That his views are, in some cases, consistent with the Constitution is coincidental.

His popularity should never diminish because his views were not made up or watered-down for his run for the presidency; they are long-held personal convictions. He really wants to bring the troops home. He really wants to kill the IRS and end the income tax. He really wants to abolish the Fed. People should study and adopt these positions. They should fight for them in every way possible. We need freedom desperately. It's a matter of survival.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Reviewer wanted

How nice it would be if I could get someone to read and endorse the story before I bind it up in a book. I could add the reviewer's comments to the dust jacket, just like a real book.

The question is, Who would give me the time of day?

I've already tried James Turk and G. Edward Griffin, but there are others.

It might be better to get the book published, offer to send someone a free review copy, then go from there. If someone reviews and likes it, I can change the dust jacket copy to include relevant quotes. When you publish books one or a few at a time, you can make changes on the fly. I might be able to get the reviewer to post his/her comments on Amazon.

What a life. And I gave up computer support for this?

blog on barbarous-relic.com

I think I should add a blog of current monetary news to barbarous-relic.com. It needs current news to get people to come back to it, and a blog could be a good idea.

I'm using iWeb as my site builder, and it has blog capability.

That will have to wait, however. Blogs are time-consuming, and I want my book out as a hardbound before I add the blog.

YouTube Videos

As part of my promotional efforts I've created some videos and posted them on YouTube. I've posted on YouTube before but my most recent ones are Keynote presentations promoting Ron Paul's run for the presidency. My latest one is called "Rocky" Ron Paul.



If you run the video you'll notice the score is not Bill Conti's version of Gonna Fly Now, the one from the original Rocky movie. I tried uploading it with Conti's, which I had purchased on iTunes, but somewhere in the process it was denied. The presentation uploaded without music.

I went to Amazon and picked a different version of Gonna Fly Now. It's decent, but lacks the power of Conti's. YouTube was happy with that. That's what you hear if you click on the embedded video above.

As an aside, I did succeed somewhat in uploading my presentation with Conti's version. I deleted the music background from the presentation and saved it as a high-quality movie. I uploaded the movie to iMovie HD, added the Conti background and saved it as a Quicktime file.

I uploaded the Quicktime version to YouTube and everything was intact. I call it test. Someone actually rated it - five stars. I'm surprised anyone bothered to view it. The music plays well but the video stutters terribly. It's unacceptable, and I'll delete it soon.

Uploading to Kindle

Making the book available on Amazon for Kindle readers was not easy.

Amazon recommends uploading the file in HTML format, which I did. They strongly encourage you to review the uploaded file, which I also did. And when I reviewed mine, I saw all the quotes had been replaced by other characters. Amazon says that if there are problems with the uploaded file, download it and clean it up, then upload it again in HTML format.

The clean-up task is to be performed at the HTML level. How many writers are familiar with HTML? I would guess there are many who aren't.

I rejected that approach out of hand and read their instructions again. They said sometimes Word files upload without a hitch. Since my manuscript does nothing fancy in Word, I decided to try uploading it as it was, a .doc file. It uploaded with the quotes fixed but with extra spacing between paragraphs.

Better, but still not acceptable.

I abutted the paragraphs in my Word file and tried uploading it again. It made no difference.

I tried uploading the abutted version as a text file. Same extra spacing.

I thought maybe the font was the problem, so I did a global change from Palatino to Times New Roman. The extra spacing persisted.

Since I write on a Mac, I thought I might have better results if I did the uploading from one of the ubiquitous Windows machines. Same big gaps between paragraphs.

I went back to my Mac. I tried uploading the Times New Roman version in HTML. Same weird characters replaced my quotes.

I used to code in HTML. Nothing fancy, just the basics. But I thought if I could get the uploaded Word file downloaded maybe I could fix the extra spacing with an HTML editor.

I tried TextEdit as my editor. TextEdit was overwhelmed.

I searched my hard drive for an old copy of Bare Bones Software's HTML editor. I must've deleted it.

I Googled for an HTML editor. After looking at various possibilities I came up with Panic Software's Coda. You can download it for a free 15-day trial. I did and opened the Kindle HTML version of my novel, with the quotes fixed but too much spacing.

Fortunately, the fix was easy. All I needed to do, after examining the file closely, was issue a global find and replace. Find the line break command (
) and replace it with nothing. In other words, I deleted the extra line breaks.

Coda has a window in its editor where you can preview your HTML code as it wouuld appear in a browser. After issuing the global find & replace, I went through the entire file and checked every paragraph. Everything was in order. Quotes looked good, as did the spacing. Amazing.

I saved it then wondered how I would get it uploaded to Amazon.

Amazon's instructions say to upload the edited Kindle HTML file as a zip file. On the Mac, that's the Archive command in the Finder. I zipped my edited file then uploaded again. My confidence level was low but the darn thing worked.

I wasn't quite through. In my joy at seeing a clean file I had overlooked the book image I had uploaded earlier. This is what it should look like:



This is what actually uploaded:



I felt cheated. I had dragged the correct image file from BRC to the Desktop, but somewhere in the copy process everything but the thunderstorm was lost.

The problem was made worse because I had already clicked "publish" to tell Amazon to publish it with the bad image. The publishing process takes 12 hours or more. So I had wait until it was finished, make the change, and publish it again.

Now I'm working on making a hardbound book available.

New Title

A lot has happened since my last entry.

I decided on The Flight of the Barbarous Relic. Title choice is not trivial. Yes, Stephen King and a few others can get away with any title. I can't.

It is not a great title, by any means, but it connects with the story both literally and symbolically. And as my brother said, it has a higher street value than JR$.

It's available now on Amazon, for Kindle owners. I look at that page on Amazon and feel like I've reached a milestone. Anyone can upload any collection of bytes they wish to Amazon and call it a book. But it's still a milestone for me because of the work I've put in on it, and because I think it's an interesting read. Of course, no one will read it until I do a lot more work, but at least it's out there.

The prolog and first three chapters are available as a PDF download here.

Friday, January 25, 2008

New Title?

Yesterday while editing my manuscript yet one more time, a new title came to mind: The Flight of the Barbarous Relic.

Pros: 1. For fiction, titles are almost always symbolic rather than literal, and this would better fulfill that expectation than the current title. 2. No one has used it yet, according to a Google search. 3. It calls attention to the story's opening action, which is the foundation for the rest of the novel. In this sense, "The Flight of the Barbarous Relic" is a better fit to what I've actually written.

Cons: 1. "The Flight of the ___" is a prosaic pattern for titles. It sounds almost computer generated. 2. Though it connects strongly to the story, it doesn't convey my message as directly as "Jolly Roger Dollar." 3. Not only does it fail to reveal my message as well, it serves to hide it. How many laymen have heard of the phrase "barbarous relic"? My guess is, not many. So, if they see the "Flight of" title they will be left scratching their heads. If they see JR$, they could conceivably make the connection between piracy and the federal reserve note. I'm assuming most people understand what "Jolly Roger" means.

I'm still thinking about it. For the record, I ditched my original title because it was too sentimental and prosaic - The Crimson Rose.

Also for the record, I've added some more family videos to my YouTube collection, which now stands at 10.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Barbarous-relic.com

For the past week I've been using iWeb 2.0.2 to create the new barbarous-relic.com (BRC). Since iWeb is built to work with .Mac, I had to acquire a new version of Panic's Transmit to use as my FTP client. It works beautifully with iWeb development and is worth the $30 price.

There are limitations to iWeb, but none too serious for what I want to accomplish. iWeb gives you a broad selection of themes to build from, but I haven't seen a way to modify the underlying layouts of those themes or create your own. But I've been working in a hurry and have consulted the help and tutorials only briefly when I was stuck, so I may have missed something. You can't group (or ungroup) objects in iWeb, but you can paste grouped objects from other apps. If you attempt to drag an object outside the current layout, it gradually disappears, though the selection handles still show. Given that my last experience with creating a website was coding my own HTML, I find iWeb very pleasant and efficient. This version comes with iLife '08.

Inasmuch as my web site is dedicated to exposing the fraud of fiat money and central banking, and given Ron Paul's current popularity and our intellectual alignment on money and banking, I've added a special Ron Paul section to BRC. I already have a stub for Rothbard and may do sections for others, including the guy sitting here typing this.

I'm having some trouble with fonts. I'm using Helvetica, which works fine in most cases but in others the text appears squashed, as if it's in a small font size. There are variations of Helvetica to choose from, and I will try one of those to see if I get consistent results.

After I get my novel uploaded, I will make the prolog and first three chapters available as a free PDF download from BRC.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Google videos

Posted "It shouldn't be like this" on Google videos today, which is available here. The video window on Google is twice as big as the one on YouTube, so that part is nice. Google videos is still in beta, though I had no trouble uploading. The poster frame can't be changed, however. I'm sure Google will get around to making that an option.

I'm planning to do at least one more presentation and post it far and wide. Perhaps something on the order of "Common fallacies about the Fed."

Came up with a temporary image for my Kindle upload. Used iDVD from iLife 8 to acquire the theme, though the particular theme I chose was available on iDVD 6, which I never owned.

iLife 8 arrived early afternoon, and I was able to install everything except iMovie 8, which was no surprise. iPhoto is much nicer than the version I had been using, and of course iDVD, with the help of Grab, allowed me to come up with something to fill in the blank for the book image on Amazon.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

It Shouldn't Be This Way

Using Apple's Keynote '08 with support from iMovie HD, I put together a presentation about the fiat dollar and posted it on YouTube last evening. Called It Shouldn't Be This Way, it features a clip of Ron Paul telling Ben Bernanke he can't lower interest rates without creating more money, which depreciates the dollar and cheats savers, among other things. It also includes two brief excepts from the Why We Fight trailer.

A link to the video is also posted on Barbarous-relic.com.

I wish the quality of the YouTube video matched the quality of the Keynote presentation on the computer. Originally, I tried saving a portion of the presentation as a QuickTime file, but the results were unacceptable -- the embedded videos especially. By choosing File > Send To > YouTube directly from Keynote I had much better resuilts, though still far from ideal. I'm quite pleased with Keynote at this point. I found only a couple of quirks, which for a package that does so much is more than I expected. It ran fine on my 1 Ghz G4, too.

The second-last slide of the presentation features a promotion for my about-to-be-uploaded novel to Amazon, The Jolly Roger Dollar.