October 24th, 2010


Why Kids Hate Their Parents

Keep in mind, once I wake up, it is nearly impossible for me to immediately fall back asleep.  So I might as well write this up here while waiting for the body to shift back into sleep mode.

I lay down and go to sleep about 1100PM.

At 1215AM, the phone rings.  I pull myself out of sleep and force my eyes to focus on the caller ID so I can read.

It's my parents.

I hype.  When I get a call from family in the middle of the night, only one thought comes to mind -- death in the family.

I answer.  Hello?!?

"Hi, Pete!  It's your mom.  What was that movie out earlier this year?"

Long long loooooong beat.  ...whut?

"It had Steven Colbert in it."

From my mom's side, I hear my dad say, "It was Date Night.  Wait...who are you on the phone with?"

My mom asks, "Were you doing something, honey?"

Somehow, I manage to say, I was sleeping.

Long beat.  "Oh.  I woke you?"

Yeah.  To ask me about a movie.

"Well, we wanted to buy it tomorrow."

And you couldn't have asked me in the morning?

The rest of the conversation was extremely short.

So now, I'm sitting here, drinking a cup of chamomile tea and trying to get my heart rate back to normal.  Jesus....

Naked Lust

I remember watching HBO and the first Sports Illustrated Swimsuit documentary.  It was actually a revelation.  It wasn't just the photographers, but Elle Macpherson.  Listening to them discuss how they did things just to get the best reaction out of the guys looking at the pictures triggered an epiphany.  Up to that point, I had sort of worried that SI and Playboy and such exploited women, even if they volunteered and didn't have a problem with it.  I started wondering who exactly was exploiting whom.  I suddenly realized that it wasn't the women being exploited, it was the men.  As Trey Parker's characters pointed out years later in Orgazmo, "The men are the ones who want the product so much.  They're the victims."  Movies have to have a chick for the guys to crush out on, and they usually get prominent billing.  They make sure guys know she's in there.  Admittedly, when it comes to exploitation, there's plenty of blame to go around.  I just think it's too easy to oversimplify the debate.

Sex makes people do weird things.  We live in an era with unparalleled access to sexual knowledge and experiences.  However, society has not become more enlightened, understanding, and accepting of sex, they've only gotten dumber.  There's just a wider variety of knee-jerk reactions.  I recently discovered a classic arcade game called Magical Drop 3.  It's a great puzzle game.  The characters in the game are modeled on characters from the tarot deck.  I did an image search, and the first thing that came up?  One of the characters, Justice, tied to a stone pillar, panties down, and in a state of sexual excitement.  Don't get me wrong, I fully expect to run into Rule 34 within the first page of search results.  I just don't expect it to be the very first Google hit.

We have an unhealthy interest in sex, one that enables us to be really taken advantage of.  Further evidence is here on the right.  This picture is of Jessica Alba as she appeared in the recent Robert Rodriguez movie Machete.  Alba has long had a reputation that she will not appear nude.  She will dress sexy.  She will dress nearly nude.  But she won't due nude.  Period.  Finito.  The end.  She even sued Playboy because how they put her on the cover made her worry people would think she was posing nude inside.  She and Rodriguez, however, are old friends.  So, guys started thinking they got their wish.

Not exactly.

Turns out, Jessica Alba wasn't actually nude.  This picture here on the left is what she wore in the scene.  Please notice, not naked.  It was digitally removed (I also note that it looks like they slimmed Alba down a smidge as well).

Now, does this go against Alba's longstanding assertion that she doesn't appear nude?  Technically, no, but then again, we are seeing a nude Jessica Alba.  Longtime netizens know about "fakes", how people will use Photoshop to make the images they want to see (Ami Dolenz and Alyssa Milano were among the people who sued sites to stop their distribution).  And once again, if people want to see something sexual, from artistic nudes to humilation, they will find a way to get it, whether by creating the images themselves or getting someone else to do it for them.

It comes down to who is exploiting whom again.  Fakes have long existed, but usually that was done without the consent of whoever the fake was being made of.  Now, we have official fakes being made.  Not that those consuming it care.  Guys looking for sexy women to oogle don't care about the airbrushing and plastic surgery and other stuff, they just want someone who looks hot.  And as long as they are willing to surrender their money, they will be given what they want.

Sex makes us do stupid things.  Things we never seem to learn from.
Peter G

War! Good God, Y'all!

In the days to build up to Desert Storm, I realized I had a decision to make.  Would I support the war, or would I oppose it?  The simple answer was, we had the right to act in our own interest.  The hesitation, however, came from the notion of what war entails.  There is no such thing as a "clean war".  Civilians were going to get killed.  American soldiers risking their lives for our freedom were going to be treated like shit when they got home, either from people who opposed the war effort or things like VA hospitals that were underfunded or politicians looking for a quick photo op and then forgetting about them.  War unleashes the dark side of humanity.  You'd have people reveling in horrendous acts because it is how you survive in such an environment.  You'll have defense contractors looking to make a quick buck on the bloodshed.  This was the debate in my mind:  is acting in our own interest worth unleashing all this darkness and evil?  Is there any other way that will keep our troops safe (a Marine told me, "Our job is to die."  That doesn't mean I want that to happen) and keep these opportunists safely locked away?

I concluded at the time, no.  It had to be done.  I wanted our troops to get everything they could so they could be as safe as possible, complete the mission, and get home safely.

Since then, information about the Iraqi war has been a mess.  There were discoveries that supported the idea that Hussein was cooking up something very bad, like the aluminum firing pins.  There were things that suggested blatant stupidity (plans for a nuclear bomb that were discovered to have come from a humor web site).  But countering all this was the eventual revelations about how poorly planned things were.  I knew trouble would happen because the different factions in Iraqi were allowed to remain as they were.  With Hussein out of the way, the longstanding grudges and paybacks would rage out of control unless coalition forces kept things together.  They didn't, and the region has yet to recover.  American troops are given insufficient gear (there were fundraisers in the Chicago area for armor for Marine divisions.  Originally, it was for the one trooper the person setting things up knew, but the Marine would invariably refuse because, if one in the platoon gets something, everyone should.  There were instances of the armor being rejected by the brass, too).  Contractors made money.  Suicides among stateside troops went through the roof.  Pat Tillman and Jessica Lynch.  And a few military people who made all Americans look horrible and tried to hush it up.

With the new docs dropped on Wikileaks, people are upset because "it might put American troops at risk."  Sorry, but your poor planning has been far more hazardous than that.  It's really sad that, I considered the horrors of war, and it was still dwarfed by reality.

If I had known then what I know now, would I still support the war?  I honestly don't know anymore.  I got nothing but love for our troops, and I'm enraged by people in authority who regard them as resources instead of brave people risking their lives while they sit in their offices far away from danger.  My dad did multiple tours of duty in Vietnam.  I promised myself I would never treat a soldier the way he was treated when he returned home.

Here is my message for the people upset over Wikileaks -- if you don't want dirty secrets to get out, don't make dirty secrets.  I'm not talking military ones, I'm talking about ego-driven ones.  People were already losing confidence in those in charge between Blackwater, the Tillman investigation, and more.  This isn't going to convert anyone, just reinforce what we already believe.  It's not Wikileaks that's the problem, it's you.
Epic Fail

Getcher Motor Runnin'!

In the days when the auto makers were asking Congress for bailout funds, one of the photo ops concerned the guy representing Chevy showing up in the prototype for the Chevy Volt, an electric car.  However, a quick check of his route showed that he actually rode there in an SUV and switched to the Volt when he got close to the Capitol Building.  Why?  It has a range of maybe 50 miles.

Since then, Obama has touted the Volt as the future of automotive technology.  Detractors like myself dismissed it as a bad hybrid.  The car itself will be hitting showrooms next month, $41K.  However, some automotive writers have tested it.  So, what do they think of the electric car?

The selling point is that you could drive 50 miles on a single charge of the litium battery.  Concerns about how you would keep it charged without a plug in station were met by adding a small gas engine to maintain the charge as it starts running down.  Okay, sounds like your generic hybrid, right?  Wrong.  Engineers who worked on the Volt have revealed that, when the lith-ion battery pack is running down AND at speeds of about 70MPH, the gas engine will directly drive the front wheels along with the electric motors.  Yes.  The gas engine will be powering the car, not the battery.

Needless to say, you ain't gonna get the 230MPG that Fritz Henderson, then CEO of GM, claimed you'd get.  Popular Mechanics' tests concluded the Volt gets about 37.5MPG in the city, and Motor Trend got between the high 30's and low 40's.  My car already gets 34MPG and cost less than half that brand new.

Hey, at least it will help end our dependence on foreign oil, right?  Well, yeah, but the lithium for the batteries is coming from Bolivia, and no other options are being sought.  And if this thing is a hit, between the sudden increase in demands for electricity (and no new nuke plants being built) and Obama's fondness for cap and trade, costs to charge this thing up are going up.  You drive somewhere, and it needs three to four hours to fully load the battery.  Plan those trips accordingly.

Meanwhile, liquified hydrogen, a real solution to the problem with all the practicalities of gas but none of the political downside, continues to be ignored....
Worms Ready For Battle

Doo-Doo-Dooooooo! THEY'RE OFF!

Well, that's that.

Just uploaded the book to CreateSpace.  Hannah Singer, Celestial Advocate will now be reviewed by the staff to make sure my files are compliant and my material isn't too objectionable.  Went with the Pro Plan and selected every distribution channel I could.

Here's how the stats shake out:

Hannah Singer, Celestial Advocate
7 stories (okay, so maybe "short stories" is a misnomer)
83,500 words (give or take)
184 pages
6X9 size
Price point:  $15

Regular sales under Pro Plan:
Cost to print:  $3.03 each.
Amazon's cut of sales:  $9.03
My cut of sales:  $5.97

Distribution channels:
Amazon's cut:  $12 and change
My cut:  a little under $3

Keep in mind, it is print on demand, so of course, you'll be paying more than a traditional publisher.  But those also require a LOT more cash up front.  For $39, if the book flops, I'm not out anything.

Once they verify the files, I need to order a copy of the book as a proof.  If it checks out, the book goes on sale.  I'm hoping to have it ready to go by next weekend.  Wish me luck.