Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Double Upchuck

I have been following the release of the newest book by the highly acclaimed authors, Chuck Heath Sr. & Jr., for several weeks. You can apply the title of this story however you wish. Here are a few examples to get you started: (a) the two clowns pictured at left, (b) what the person who made this deal at the publisher has been doing with his time since the book's release, (c) what anyone who has scheduled a book signing for this bomb is doing about now, or (d) what you will feel like if you read even the Look Inside parts of Our Sarah at Amazon.

Our Sarah was first offered at Amazon in a pre-release mode several months ago. From April until yesterday, the official release date, the sales of Our Sarah dribbled. Twenty-five copies of the book were sold at Amazon on the 25th, its opening day. It is now the 26th and the last copy was sold from Amazon sixteen hours ago (and counting). The lowest Amazon ranking I have seen is 505. It might have been 585; I did not look closely enough to verify it. Currently the ranking is 1108. The total Amazon sales according to NovelRank is 104, including one at Amazon UK, the only copy sold outside the U.S. so far.

For contrast, let's look at another book released on the same day, September 25, and marketed to almost the exactly the same right-wing delusional readership. Ann Coulter's Mugged has sold 53 since late yesterday. I was not aware of the book until then so I do not have any tracking numbers throughout its pre-release period, however long that might have been. From watching the figures since yesterday evening, I can ascertain that the sales of Mugged were far beyond those of Our Sarah, as in out in the stratosfear! The NovelRank charts clearly show, for instance, that Ann's book has sold 28 copies since midnight while Chuckie & Chuckie's has bombed with a goose egg over the same time period. Mugged is currently ranked at #39, and I saw it as low as #25 yesterday.

As Bob Dylan once said, "Everybody must get mugged!" Whoever set up the publishing deal for Our Sarah must not have looked too closely at the sales charts of the many pro-Palin books as they have slid slowly down the drain. From the explosive boom of Going Rogue to the stumbling mumbles of Bristlebutt's pack of lies to Levi's ghostwritten nonsense, the downhill slide of the sales figures of each release has been inevitable. If I remember correctly, Going Rogue sold 2.3 million and Sarah's book signing at the Mall of America was a stupendous success. Two years later the signing of Not Afraid of Life and America by Heart by both Palin celebrities at the same venue was a bust with a couple hundred diehard fans showing up for signatures. Maybe someone should have kept her mouth shut after the Gabby Giffords shooting, you think?

Watching this dud slowly grind to a screeching halt has been a lot of fun. The dud is Our Sarah, the whole Palin phenomenon, and of course Sarah herself. I did read most of the Look Inside portions of Our Sarah, and it really is a dud. The font is large and the margins wide, so it is not a book with a high word count. Most of the words that are present are just one big baloney sandwich, anyway. A good example is Chuck Jr. complaining about the media questioning Sarah's college career. He spins the question off into something that it never was, as if we care that Sarah did not attend a fancy Ivy League school. Pass the baloney sandwich, please. Why did she return to the dipshit MatSu Valley college between two semesters at the University of Idaho? Just before that bit of horse puckey, he stated that she left the first Hawaii location because it rained too much. He claimed that she wanted to enjoy the sun and surf of Hawaii, and that's why she and her friends went there in the first place. But then he does a one-eighty and claims that she left the fun and sun for the snow of Idaho after only one semester. Does this make any sense to anyone?

Aside from this bit of balogna sandwich making, much of the book seems to suddenly and repeatedly veer off into an oblivion of anecdotes about various friends and family of the Palins. If you are a Palin fan at the depth of lunacy you might enjoy these little side trips, but I seriously doubt the mass appeal of such a book. Chuckie & Chuckie appeared on Fox & Friends early yesterday morning to promote this tale of nonsense, but it seems to have had minimal effect on the buying audience. I am waiting with bated breath to see what happens with the book tour planned for the next few weeks. My best guess is that the most likely sound we will hear from it is SPLAT!!   

Monday, September 24, 2012

Digital Aquarium

Long-range plans are one of my specialties. Sometimes I wait years for the technology to catch up to my ideas at an affordable cost. A few examples of these have been the audio and video collages I created from 1972 through about 1998. The book projects I began to publish in late 2000 began more examples. My Tiddlerosis website is yet another one. Now there is finally a new kid on the block in the form of computer aquarium programs now on the market at affordable prices.

These latest programs are actually quite stupendous in their capabilities. A few very primitive such programs were first marketed more than a decade ago. These were quite disappointing to me from many angles, from the limitations of the fish to the simplicity of the tank layouts. In the early 2000's, Encore Software first released its Marine Aquarium. The program was developed through several versions and the latest one is called Serene Screen Marine Aquarium Version 3. This latest version of a saltwater tank is three years old, but its visual impact is stunning! Soon after the saltwater program hit the marketplace, a competing firm developed a freshwater system called Dream Aquarium. Both of these magnificent programs offer many ways and styles to develop a beautiful aquarium. You can buy the CD-ROM of Marine Aquarium from Office Depot or other sources, but the Dream Aquarium is available only via direct download. You will need a decently modern computer to power either of these programs more than adequately. At least two GB of RAM with XP, as well as a significant level of Video RAM, would be a good start. I am running 8 GB of RAM and 1 GB of VRAM on a 64-bit Windows 7 and the fifty tanks I have set up run flawlessly.

Yes, I said fifty tanks! There is no official limit on the number of tanks you can develop in Dream Aquarium. You can choose 23 fish species and several backgrounds and other details. An additional ten fish have just recently been added as an upgrade for about $10. The most interesting choice to me is the camera angle. You can view a tank in a standard widescreen format or one that slowly pans through the tank as if you were following fish with your eyes with your nose pressed against the glass! You can add a free downloadable Size Editor that allows you to create baby fish or large examples of the species. Another free download allows you to add more backgrounds than the basic four that come in the original program. Here is yet another group of backgrounds. This second batch of twenty-one backgrounds is composed of zipped files of approximately 1.5 MB each. You save each file to your computer, unzip it to its full size, and add it to your Dream Aquarium program files. Right now I am still running the free demo version of Marine Aquarium. It is considerably more usable as a basic tank than is the free version of Dream Aquarium. I intend to buy the full version of Marine Aquarium after I get bored with playing with all the freshwater tanks.

A neighbor gave me three Guppies in a fish bowl back about 1961 and that began my aquarium hobby. Over the years I progressed up through a 2.5-gallon tank, a three-gallon, and then wowie zowie a ten-gallon! Since moving into my present location, I have never set up any of my multiple aquariums, a twenty-wide, a thirteen-tall, and various smaller tanks. Now that my computer is doing the job, I have already put the whole array of tanks and equipment for sale on Craigs List.

No matter how many years and tank setups I stumbled my way through, I never was very good at keeping fish healthy and happy. The well-read books are still on my library shelf. I read and I practiced, but I still sucked at it! I have never had a green thumb and I suppose I do not have a wet, soggy one either, except out on a boat. The disgusting, disappointing fact is that any aquarium in my care, much less that of the average kid in Walmart begging his mom for fish, is nothing much above fish torture! I have wanted for years to finally get out of the fish torturing hobby and now I am completely cured of my addiction. No tropical fish will ever suffer under my care again. I am going Cold Turkey Digital!

When I mentioned audio and video collages, these included many hours of experimenting with videography of my various fish tank setups. I have hours of tape edited and set to music. The problem is that you cannot videotape tropical fish in a tank in any manner that exudes a quality product. The fish are too small, they swim wherever they damn well please when you are trying to photograph them, and the lighting available leaves a lot to be desired. None of my camcorder tapes look even remotely as beautiful as these computer-generated fish!

There is a bit of bad news with these programs. My favorite species are totally unavailable in the freshwater Dream Aquarium. There are no Guppies, Bettas, or catfish species! The photo above is of real Guppies, although this is about how good the computer-generated fish look. I would also like to have even more variety in the backgrounds available. As for the saltwater program, I have no complaints yet. Since all my familiarity lies with freshwater species, I am more easily amused by the beauty of most saltwater species, even while understanding very little of their real-life characteristics.

Both programs are set up from quickly downloadable free samples of each. The free version of Marine Aquarium is quite usable as it arrives, but you will want to graduate to the full $20 version of Dream Aquarium soon after viewing the free sample version. The free Dream Aquarium goes to a blank background and only two fish after a few minutes, but the Marine Aquarium continues indefinitely until you stop it. Click the Dream Aquarium link and download the free version. When you are ready, purchase the full version and DA will send you a long code that you can copy and paste into the appropriate box on the free version to fully expand it. The Marine Aquarium can currently be downloaded like the free version or purchased on a disc from Amazon or Office Depot. Notice that the downloadable MA is Version 3.2, but the most recent CD version seems to be Version 3.0. Both the free and full version of the freshwater tanks can be downloaded at Dream Aquarium. No CD-ROM version of DA is available.

Please stop the tropical fish torture and set up these programs on your computers. They are everything you would like fish tanks to be except heavy, messy, noisy, stinky, deadly (for the plants and fish) and generally troublesome. Let's free the enslaved and tortured tropical fish forever!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Progressive Middle

Always Looking Forward... 
                         ...Never Backward

The Platform:

1. Support all forms of birth control as a right of all Americans and provide the necessary funding.
2. Legalize marijuana and begin a downsizing of the effects and funding of the War on Drugs.
3. Downsize the overseas military empire in peaceful locations.
4. Begin a retraction of troops involved in all current wars and don't start any more.
5. Put a cap on ethanol production for fuel.
6. Decrease agricultural subsidies.
7. No increases in drilling for oil or gas will be allowed in national parks, offshore, or other sensitive areas.
8. Overturn Citizens United.
9. Close Guantanamo Bay and cease all uses of torture of prisoners anywhere.
10. Delete the death penalty for any and all prisoners.
11. Remove all tax breaks from corporations who shelter income offshore.
12. Give tax credits to employers who hire Americans and retract any applicable tax credits from those who seek labor from outside the U.S.
13. Encourage all forms of green building and infrastructure replenishment with proper funding and tax breaks wherever appropriate.
14. Raise the national minimum wage and enforce it vigorously, and this includes all agricultural, seasonal, and undocumented workers.
15. Levy a small federal tax on all securities transactions.
16. Allow an unlimited Mortgage Interest Deduction on any single main residence of any taxpayer with no income level restrictions outside the already established Schedule A limitations.
17. Remove the cap on Social Security and Medicare Tax calculations.
18. Remove the distinction of Earned and Unearned Income from the IRS rules in all applications, including changing the Earned  Income Credit to a simple Income Child Care Credit based on all income of all types.
19. Repeal the special capital gains rate and tax all income at the same level.
20. Increase the income tax rate on all income from the $250,000 to $1,000,000 Taxable Income Level to 40%.
21. Increase the income tax rate on all income above the $1,000,000 Taxable Income Level to 50%.

Friday, September 14, 2012

An Interpretation of Reality

Sarah Palin is not a stupid person. She may be angrier than a swarm of killer bees and mad as a hatter, yet she remains about as smart as the average bear. Within the depth of her innermost thoughts, if not outright verbally with whatever management team she still employs, she must currently be facing a political and economic reality that haunts her dreams. She must hope like hell that President Obama remains in The White House until 2016! Any alternative future leads inevitably to a painfully slow demise of her special gift for either making large sums of money or influencing a significant number of voters.

Let's review how her particular dilemma reached this impasse. I covered most of the wide-reaching details and motivations concerning her rise to power in The Palin Matrix. Dr. Brad Scharlott has presented a particularly concise, and most likely accurate, description of exactly how she orchestrated the beginning of Babygate. As anyone who reads my work knows, I have been influenced in my opinion of the origins of Babygate particularly by Mrs, Palin's unprecedented athleticism as a considerably pregnant woman. Few people in the general public may have recognized John Heilemann's cameo in Game Change, but my perception is that this was another dog whistle message to the viewers that the insiders, such as the authors of the book, do indeed know. No telling how many others know, too. The truth is out there and too many influential Republicans know it for Sarah to ever sleep truly soundly again.

At this point Republicans are the people who concern Sarah the most. Democrats like me are cheering her on! Go, Sarah, go! The only thing you can do to me is make a few more people interested in my book about you. All you can do to the Democrats in general is to make them all look more sane and rational than the Republicans. You want to start a third party and lead it to victory in either 2012 or 2016? Go ahead, be my guest. There is no prayer strong enough to get you or anyone else in a third party elected. So what else might you do? You can throw tacky bombshells full of fighting words and salad dressing at the politicians who are winning and you are not. Let's see, who could that be? You better hope in the deepest depth of your black heart that our President stays in his chair! I am sure that Fox News will renew your contract and continue to pay you next year to continue bashing President Romney. Yeah, that's the ticket! Everybody knows that Fox News was created to bash Republican politicians.

Your daddy's biography of you isn't selling too well so far, is it?  The figures I have been tracking at Novel Rank show 36 sales so far at Amazon. Yes, I know that the book will not be released for another ten days, but how many copies of Going Rogue had sold by the same equivalent time? By my calculation, the only book on a similar subject that possibly sold less was Levi's Deer in the Headlights. Bristol's book stomped the sales record so far of Our Sarah, even with that disastrous book signing event at the Mall of America where only a few hundred fans showed up to meet both you and Bristol. I guess you might expect at least 20,000 copies to be printed and shipped to Wal-Mart, Target, and B&N stores at the wholesale level, but how many million did your first book sell? Methinks somebody's popularity is swirling the drain!

Sarah can run for President in 2016. She can try to talk Ryan or whatever other candidate the Republican establishment actually likes to add her to the VP slot one more time... or she can crown herself Queen of the Tea Party and run against the massive Republican machine. There is little stopping her from running anything she chooses to run. The dilemma is that she knows she cannot win at any of it. She can only try to stay relevant enough to continue expanding her bank balance. She can risk Fox News not renewing her lucrative contract and continue to toss her verbal brickbats from whatever backwater network or AM radio host will have her. She could even swallow her relentless pride with a big gulp of ego drain and appear on channels that are at least pretending to be something other than Republican propaganda outlets.

If President Obama wins, I am afraid that we shall not have the screechy one out of our ears or faces for at least four more years. If Romney wins, Sarah may face the biggest decision of her career, or at least what's left of it.