Thursday, November 30, 2006

11/30: Casting bread upon the waters

Two months ago I decided I needed to have some more income coming in, since my various websites aren't generating as much as I'd hoped. I visited the blog of someone who was going to show people how to make money on the web, and they provided the link to Elance.

It cost $60 to join, at the level I wanted - bare minimum! - and they take a $10 commission minimum on each job, which I wasn't too happy about. Nevertheless, I looked at the dozens of jobs offered in my field - editing, rewriting, etc., and decided that it had possibilities. So I decided to chance that $60. I lowballed a few projects, got one response, and have done work for that individual ever since. And I've got two more projects I'm working on - one of which I *think* is going to lead to long-term freelance employment. So I'm pretty pleased with Elance.

The reason why I bring this up is because I can't help laughing at the short-sightedness of some people. Along about the time I joined Elance, I also placed an ad on a different site, looking for writers for my various websites - science fiction, Virginia history. I specified that I could pay nothing, but they'd get nickels and dimes from my links to on their pages, etc.

Nevertheless, I got quite a few responses from people, whom, when I reiterated the compensation package, never got back to me, so I can only assume that they didn't pay any attention to what I'd written the first time around.

One woman, I think in her late 20s, emailed me, offering her services. She had a blog, which I looked at, and I confess I wasn't impressed with her writing skills. (I myself am somewhat careless with my grammar on this blog, but I hope people can tell the difference between someone who knows grammar and skips it on occasion, and someone who doesn't know grammar, period.)

Anyway, her blog made her sound a bit desperate for money, so I suggested she try Elance. "All it takes is a $60 investment," I told her, and there's lots of jobs there. [I know she has *some* money, and $60 isn't that much - get it from a relative or friend or something if nothing else!]

She emailed me back and said she "wanted to make money, not spend it." In other words, she didn't like that $60 fee. Well, I emailed her back and pointed out that I had earned back that $60 fee on my first job, plus $40 over that, and everything else I'd earn in the course of the year was gravy.

"I'll think about it," she replied, which I understood very well to mean that she was going to do nothing. She was going to continue to haunt the writing sites where people could post for free, and email people looking for paying jobs - when Elance is right there.

I'm willing to bet that this woman hasn't made a dime doing any writing in the last two months, whereas I've made quite a bit. Relatively speaking, of course.

And I just don't understand it. I don't think her writing skills were such that she could do any of the jobs on offer at Elance, but she seemed to think she did have skills...

If it had been a question of a $100 fee to join...I confess I would have hesitated at that myself. But $60? With the rule that the minimum bid you can make is $50? It's obvious that you'd make back that fee in one job alone, plus Elance is a well-known site, thus quite safe to join and trust.

So, all I can say is I cast my bread upon the waters, and I ended up not with soggy bread but with some fresh bread!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Nancy Lynn Memorial video

Nancy Lynn, stunt pilot, was killed in an accident at the Culpepper Air Show earlier this year.

I just visited Youtube and there were two videos there, which I thought I'd share here. (Youtube provides the code so that people can embed videos into their blogs or webpages.)

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tennesse Lady Vols win today

I'm not a really big fan of basketball - football and baseball are my games of choice...but I keep an eye on the Tennesse Lady Vols because of their great history. Their coach, Pat Summitt, has won more NCAA games than any coach, male or female, in history. (Although there's much debate as to whether she deserves to have the "or men" phrase in that announcement. Basically because the men's program has been a lot stronger than the woman's program over the last 20 years - hardly surprising...)

I watched a few games last year, and frankly I thought the Vols style of play was boring...they'd walk the ball up the court, throw it to Candace Parker or someone, and everyone would stand around until the seconds ticked down...then someone would make a move...the shot'd go up, miss, be rebounded hopefully by a Vol and put back in.

Whereas the style of...I think it was LSU...memory's going on me..anyway it was a run and gun offense and a lot more fun to watch.

So, this year the Vols have a couple of new guards (last year their point guard, Sade Wiley-Gatewood, decided halfway through the season to transfer to Maryland, where she'll sit until next semester...), leaving them without a true point guard. Anyway, haven't seen them on TV yet but from what I've read on the Summitt message boards the team is very fast and has a very different offense. So that's nice to hear.

Anyway, in one of my visits to Youtube I did a search on Candace Parker and found a couple of videos of her dunking, and one with her and Michelle Snow dunking. (Frankly, I didn't see as many videos as I thought I would.)

Anyway, I decided to start a Lady Vols appreciation website and put those videos on it, and then announce it on the Summitt, and hits to that page have been going through the roof.

Not translating into clicks on my Adsense ads...but I guess we can't have everything.

Anyway, the Vols, who are ranked 4th in the nation by ESPN, play a tough schedule - 13 games against ranked teams. Meanwhile #1 Maryland and #2 North Carolina play a grand total of 5 ranked teams each. That's just ridiculous. They should probably go undefeated considering their cream-puff schedules, but I won't be too impressed with the feat. Meanwhile, if the Vols manage to do it, it will really be an achievement.

I hope they do, because that will generate a great deal of interest in the game. It's always an undefeated season that grabs the interest of the 'casual' fan as opposed to the dedicated fan. (Indeed, that's how I got into it a few years ago.)

And I hope my website, which will be full of info for the first-time fan, will draw 'em like flies...

The Lady Vols - WCBB Standard Bearers

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Quatermass and the Pit - the trailer

This is a really fun trailer for the movie Quatermass and the Pit (1967).

The movie starred Andrew Keir as Quatermass, James Donald as the actual hero of the piece, Barbara Shelley and Julian Glover.

There's an homage to the movie Them! here. In one scene a terrified man screams, "They're coming. Them! Them!" he's referring to the Martians of course, not giant ants.

Robby the Robot Jeep - clip

Only 30 seconds long, but kind of amusing.

This was posted by a robot store,, to which I am not affiliated, however it looks like it's got some fun stuff.

Obviously this robot is not yet able to really drive a vehicle as the real Robby was, but perhaps one day...

I myself am a fan of the classic robots - Gort from The Day The Earth Stood Still, Robby from Forbidden Planet, Robot from Lost in Space, etc.

Isaac Asimov speaks on computers - clips

He doesn't say anything new, it's directed towards children, looks like - but I've never heard him speak before so it was interesting to hear his voice. Looks like this was done during the last two or three years of his life.

Isaac Asimov: 1920 - 1992

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Star Wars trilogy light saber duels - clip

And here's another clip.

Several light saber duels set to the music of O Fortuna (from Carmine Burana - most people know it from the classic Excalibur or, perhaps these days from Sean Hannity's radio show intro...)

Yoda comes in at the end (it's an eight minute clip) fighting Duku and then the Emporer. Unfortunately I think the action is speeding up so you don't get the full impact of "his" moves.

As a connoisseur of cinematic duels I'd say that some of the scenes hold up and some don't. Obi Wan vs Darth Vader in the original Star Wars is perhaps the poorest - I really, really hate it when they make one opponent perform a spin move - turning his/her back to his opponent - when there is absolutely no reason to do so.

Metropolis clip

To get this blog back to its original intention, which was to discuss science fiction in all media, I present this clip from Youtube, of the robot Hel being turned into Maria. Or vice versa. Whatever!

Brigitte Helm as Maria. Of course starred Alfred Abel, Rudolph Kleine-Rogge as Rotwang, was written by Thea von Harbou and directed by Fritz Lang.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Beta Blogger - horror story

I wanted to start a new political issues blog, and because it's a blog about political issues I wanted to change my photo to something other than the GG that is now ghost guns. So I decided to create a new account. And if you create a new account, you don't get to go to Blogger, you're taken to their Beta Blogger.

And it sucks, big time.

They treat people like idiots. They have all these "elements" that you can arrange on your new template. And they're boxes which you can cut and paste, I guess because most people don't want to learn Html to do their own additions, modifications, etc.

Well, I know html, so I went into the template to add a counter for my new blog, and it won't let me. I don't have the time or inclination to find out why.

Basically what they've done is make is sssssssssso simple that people who don't know what they're doing can do things - but won't be able to modify what they do afterwards and will never understand what they've done. It's idiotic and as you can tell, I'm kind of annoyed.

The main thing that has me angry is that apparently, pretty soon ALL blogs will be migrated over to the new system whether they want to be or not. And since the new feauturs suck 90% of the people at Blogger Help forums are screaming about it, but of course you can't email anyone directly, and no one from Blogger looks at these complaints, obviously...

Of course it's a free service so who am I to complain, eh. If I don't have to pay for it I don't have the right to complain, I suppose, except that it's just symptomatic with what's wrong with the computer world today. There's all these programmers out there who have to earn their salaries by breaking things that weren't broken to begin with, and no one talks to the people who actually *use* the things....;

Friday, November 10, 2006

Opnion Polls America

I've never been happy with the questions asked in polls and questionaires. As the critics say, it's easy to skew results by asking questions in such a way that you get the results you want. Or, the questions are so vague that the answers aren't really representative of what people would like to say.

So I've started a new website called Opinion Polls America that features polls on political issues. One poll I put up was opinons on Rush Limbaugh. I announced this on various usenet political boards, expecting thousands of responses, and got ....zilch.

After going more thoroughly into these things, like and alt.politics.bush, I'm really not surprised. If there are any people there who'd like to have a calm, rational discussion on politics, they are snowed under by people - undoubtedly 99% guys! - who just want to call each other, and the party opposed to theirs, names.

So, I guess I'll wait for the domain name to "resolve" and then try to interest political bloggers and websites in it.

Anyone interested?
is the URL right now.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Morning After

I have to confess I'm eagerly awaiting Rush Limbaugh's program this morning. On his website he's got his usual smarmy questions, including 'What Happens if the Democrats Lose?"

Looks like he should have asked, "What happens if the Republicans lose?" For it looks like they've lost control of both House and Senate, and that Nancy Pelosi will indeed become the first female Speaker of the House.

When the Democrats had lost, Limbaugh was saying how they always pretended as if they'd won. We'll see what he has to say about Republican losses, now, and how they deal with it. And how he deals with it.

Have to confess I voted a Republican ticket except for James Webb. That ridiculous fuss about writing in his fiction books made by George Allen and propigated by Sean Hannity really disgusted me.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Uber sensitive people

A couple of weeks ago I advertised in various places for writers for my new website, Ghost Guns. I got a reply from one woman who said she'd like to give it a try, so I gave her the assignment of looking up the 1st Rhode Island, a Revolutionary War light infantry regiment composed of African-Americans.

She sent me back 500 words. She obviously hadn't put it through a spell-checker, or a grammar checker. I had a second look at her resume and it still said the same thing, she'd graduated with a degree in journalism.

Well, I figured, no problem, she's eager, she's willing to do the work, I'll work with her. So I sent her an email asking for a clarification on one point. She sent me something back.

Things have intervened, and its been about 3 days since I've had contact with her. I wanted to ask her to do a re-write on her story. Since this is the first thing we've worked on, I wanted to show my good faith, so I sent her a paypal payment for the article, even though I had told her previously that I'd only pay when the article went online. I figured that by paying her (a ridiculously low amount, admittedly, but it's all I can afford and she had agreed to it) I'd make it clear to her that I was operating in 'good faith' and not trying to stiff her.

Did my plan work? Nope.

I got an email from her today, a few hours after I had sent her payment and a request for the rewrite, in which she gives me a curt one sentence, "I guess you didn't like the article then, since I haven't seen it up yet."

I responded asking her if she hadn't gotten my previous email of the day. She says no, resend, so I did.

Then, also to try to show her that she was valued and that I wanted to work with her, I asked her if she was a member of MagWeb, a site where this one article she had referenced originated. My intent was to say, "if this is so, great, because there's lots of good stuff there ...and if not, I'll pay for it so we can all use it." But it never got that far.

She's just sent me an absolute rocket, saying that I'm accusing her of cheating (because I require that all articles submitted to me have bibliographies). No she isn't a member of MagWeb, and apparently my asking this question was another instance of me accusing her of cheating, although how she worked that out I can't fathom.

"Journalism doesnt' require bibliographies, and none of the articles on your site have them," she says. Well..the articles currently at Ghost Guns are travel articles recounting my experiences at various sites, and an interview with a living history re-enactor, and don't need bibliographies. But when I'm trying to publish factual articles, to be read by people who actually know their history backwards and forwards, I need a bibliography, and so I told her.

I sent her a final email telling her the above. What I would have liked to have told her, but didn't, is that the article she sent me was amateurish - poorly written and not spell-checked, and if she's an example of what journalism schools allow to graduate today with degrees, it doesn't say much for schools. And that she's showing signs of incipient paranoia or low self esteem or something!

I'm really tempted to try to unsend my $5, since to make her article usable there's quite a bit more work to be done on it, but I guess I'll let that go and chalk it up to a learning experience.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

No November issue for The Thunder Child

I spent so much time working on the Clive Francis website, and on my new Ghost Guns Virginia site, that the November issue of The Thunder Child simply didn't get done in time. I've got a lot of material, though, so should be enough for the December issue already, plus a few thing left over for the January issue, further to my goal of having each issue done a month ahead of time.

On the political front, listened to bits of Neal Boortz, Limbaugh and Sean Hannity on Friday. They're all saying the same thing - Kerry insulted the troops. Well, he didn't. I thought about emailing each of 'em and requesting that they play the *entire* clip - which would include the Bush in a state of denial comment which he made before he made the 'stuck in Iraq' comment, which makes it clear what he was talking about.

And also contrasting their attitudes. They all rose to Limbaugh's defense when he critizized - and was misquoted - about his statements about Michael J. Fox. Kerry was subject to the same attack but on the other side.

Other than that...I'm getting one of my dehibilitating headaches so don't think I'll be able to accomplish much today, on any project.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Limbaugh's at it again

It really is amusing, if infuriating, to listen to Rush Limbaugh at times. Today, he's hammering on John Kerry again. It's been 3 days since Kerry made his unfortunate comment, it's over, but Limbaugh doesn't follow his own rules. When the Foley case broke and Foley resigned, according to Limbaugh that should have been it, story over.

But Kerry's apologized, he's no longer campaigning for Dems, story over, but not for Limbaugh, who's apparently been spending the whole morning quoting from comments Kerry made in the 1970s about an all volunteer army. He persists in saying Kerry was lying when he says he was talking about Bush, not the troops, but I say again if you see the whole clip it is *obvious* that that is what he is talking about. He'd just insulted Bush once, he was just doing it again. But of course the only thing people ever see or hear is the statement about 'stuck in Iraq,' much as Limbaugh was pilloried for his Michael J. Fox 'acting' comments taken out of context from the rest of what he was saying.

So...they all do it... pot, kettle, black. Limbaugh is just more annoying because of course he has to call Kerry 'Lurch' to insult him. (Never mind the fact that Lurch was a much loved character on the Adams family).

Then Limbaugh says that unlike Kerry, Bush doesn't suffer from "foot-in-mouth" disease. Limbaugh is conveniently forgetting Bush's comments post-Katrinia, when he asked somebody, "What went wrong?" after they'd said, "Nothing had gone right for FEMA." I can't quite remember the context but basically he came across as not realizing that lots of people had unneccesariliy suffered and died because FEMA hadn't reacted promptly (although much of that can be traced to the incompetentness of the Louisiana and New Orleans politicians, too.)

Then, Bush is talking with one of his wealthy friends, and says, "We're going to have your house built back here in just a few months," meanwhile the poor are still waiting for the city to be rebuilt.

The above are vague references...if you search on Bush's speeches and actions post Katrina you'll get the complete stories in more detail.

Anyway, I have to admit I'm leaning towards voting for Webb, even though I am a Republican. I believe in abortion, I believe in the right to gay marriage, and if the ads are to be believed Webb believes in those things too. And the attack on his writings is frankly what persuades me to vote for him.