In Which Jim Retires To His Cave

That’s it for fresh material, unless, of course, I get enough requests to fill the month.  I may poke my head up during the next month to let you know how the new project is progressing.  If you still have a topic request for me to blog about during the month of August, email me or hit me up on Facebook by August 8.

Otherwise, see you after Labor Day.

A Tech Tip Every Writer Should Know…

Never ever EVER keep your critical data on the computer’s built in hard drive.


ALWAYS use at least one external drive.  That way, when your computer goes kerplewie, it matters not that your OS defiantly reloads to factory settings.  All YOUR data is on that external drive.

Always keep working files on a  flash drive and back it up every one to two days.

Ideally, you should have a second drive to back things up.  More ideally, you should have three:  your main external drive where you should be storing your data, one hooked up to the computer to back up the main drive , and a second spare drive is kept in a fire-proof safe, safe deposit box, your Aunt Clara’s house, or your desk at work (assuming you trust your coworkers and cleaning crew to stay out of your desk or you lock it.)

Do this, and at most, you should lose only a day or a week’s worth of work when things go to hell in a bucket.

Now, for those of you Apple snobs snickering that this does not apply to them because they have Macs, all I can say is “You poor befuddled fools!”  For lo, the Mac is more reliable and easier to configure, a bad hard drive will still destroy any data still on it when it doth go kerplewie.  and it will go kerplewie.  And yea, verily, neither PC nor Mac shall be saved from weeping nor gnashing of teeth ‘cept do they heed my words of wisdom.

Of course, if you have a Mac AND a PC or multiple Macs or multiple PC’s, you can always use one computer to back up the other.

I still recommend the external drives.

It’s On!

Paid my fee this weekend.  Got my hotel reserved.

It’s on, friends and neighbors.

I am off to Bouchercon in Indianapolis, October 15-18.

Be there!

Moron… Er, Um, More On Letting The Wingnuts Burn Themselves To Death*

Last Friday, I suggested conservatives let the Republican Party collapse under the weight of the wingnuttery that’s taken it over.  My suggestion was to either join the Libertarian Party or become Blue Dog Dems, maybe nudging the more liberal Dems off the the Green Party to drive a stake through the heart of the abomination known as the two-party system.  (I’m with Washington.  I prefer the no-party system, unless someone’s bringing Jamie and Bass to the party.)

In the comment section, someone else hit on an idea that seems more in line with the Eisenhower brand of conservative thought.  A gent calling himself Lee suggests:

“May I respectfully suggest that, instead of the Libertarian party (where the inmates are *also* running the asylum unchecked, they just display different symptoms), moderate conservatives might want to check out the Modern Whig Party?

For one thing, the Whigs don’t have the last 20 years of the loony-Libertarian reputation to overcome before anyone will take them seriously. And as a progressive, I’d like to see a legitimate political party take up the cause of the traditional conservatives; public debate on policies is a *good* thing if honestly conducted, because it can expose hidden pitfalls in time to fix them *before* a plan is implemented.”

Not a bad idea, as long as the new Whigs don’t develop the habit of electing frail retired generals president.  (See Harrison, William Henry; Taylor, Zachary.)  Seriously, though, Lee hits it on the head.  There’s no debate right now in DC, other than the Blue Dogs going up to Pelosi (not one of my favorite moonbats) and saying, “Um, hang on a second.  Let’s tweak this before we make things worse.”

Let’s face it.  The old way of doing things has burned itself out over the last twenty years.  Technology made us giddy with the idea, and the current economic mustard-cluck has made us afraid of it.

Embrace it.  Europe has.  You may shudder at the thought of a European-style system in America, but aside from Milosevic developing his Napoleon complex, when was the last time you saw some genocidal psychopath with daddy issues terrorize that continent?

*Their last words will be about it being a liberal Marxist plot hatched by Barack Obama.**

**And I wouldn’t piss on them to put the fire out.

MTM Cincinnati: Queen City Square Still Rising

If you were wondering how construction on Cincinnati’s next tallest building was progressing, have a look.


Taken from two blocks away in front of the Chiquita Center along Main St.

[More My Town Monday posts at the My Town Monday Blog.]

Hey, My Town Mondays fans, I’m taking August off.  To avoid a glut of reruns, I’m letting you run the blog.  I need four more MTM suggestions.  Email me or hit me up on Facebook.

Dear True Conservatives: Let The Wingnuts Burn…

If you’re a conservative, and I mean a true conservative, this is not a good time for you.  Small government and trimming regulations are generally a good thing, but the wingnut wing of the Republican Party counted on the invisible hand of Adam Smith to keep the ship of state afloat.  Instead, the cold dead hand of Ken Lay reached from the grave (or the South American city where Kenny Boy’s hiding out under an assumed name*) and smacked the markets around like an drunken stepdad** smacks his wife’s kids around for whispering too loud during his hangover.

Meanwhile, as you ponder how best to pursue your principles of small, hands-off government while President Obama keeps nervously checking the balance on the national credit card as he cleans up the mess, the wingnuts want to focus on what’s really important:  Gay marriage, Obama’s birth certificate, and submitting budget proposals with no actual numbers.

Worse, your intellectual leader, William F. Buckley, and your icon, Ronald Reagan, are dead.  You’re stuck with Limbaugh (drug-addicted racist) and Dick Cheney (who didn’t even wait for Bush’s plane to land before talking smack about his ex-boss).  Oh, and lest we forget, Carribou Barbie’s become a bit of a trainwreck, hasn’t she?  (Will I get sued for that?  Settle down, sweetie.  It’s called an opinion, and you’re fully entitled to mine.)  What to do?  What to do?

Here’s my suggestion.  Let the Republican ship burn and take the wingnuts down with it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Where will you go?  For starters, there’s a Libertarian Party who would love to have the more fiscally conservative among you.  You’ll like the Libs.  They have a sense of humor.  They even make fun of themselves.  When do wingnuts do that?  Never.  Anything outside the wingnut ideology is treason to them, which is one more reason to let them burn the Republican Party down around them.  You won’t miss it.  Trust me.

“But, Jim, I’m more of moderate than conservative.  What about me?”

OK, don’t take this the wrong way, but you are free to become a Democrat.  They have a nice big tent and already some conservatives hang out under it.  Join them.  Besides, the Dems do centrism better than the Republicans, and they’re more successful in the center than the left.  You’ll not only do yourselves a favor, you’ll do them one as well.

“But what about them hardline liberals?”

Politely invite them to go to the Green Party.  And I don’t mean that as a slam.  Ever notice the more extreme liberal positions sound more reasonable coming from a Green than a Democrat?  By all means, send them on their way.  With your more conservative brethren swelling the ranks of the Libertarians and giving them the long-sought legitimacy they’ve craved, you’ll do America the biggest favor anyone could do short of banning all political parties:  Kill the two-party system and make this a three-party nation.  More would be even better.

Of course, we’ll have to rethink the way we elect officials to account for the long-overdue death of the two-party system, but hell.  We’re Americans.  We beat the Russians to the moon, invented the Internet, and managed to stop the spread of Paulie Shore beyond North America***.  We can surely figure this one out.

Like I said, forget the Republican Party.  You won’t miss it.  And when you look back on it, you’ll think fondly of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Eisenhower and Reagan.  You won’t have Rush Limbaugh to overmedicate anymore.

Good riddance.

*No, I don’t believe it.  But being wrong on Ken Lay’s death would not surprise me in the least.

**I have been drunk as a stepdad, but the most abuse I could muster was singing “Where O Where Are You Tonight?” at the top of my lungs.

***Sorry, Canada, but with MTV causing most of the trouble, there’s only so much we could do.

In A Post-Cronkite World

When I was a kid, you had a choice between John Chancellor on NBC; Harry Reasoner and, later, Frank Reynolds on ABC; and Walter Cronkite on CBS.  Though my parents were partial to John Chancellor, I always preferred Walter Cronkite, who died last Friday at the age of 92.

In the pre-24-hour news world, you didn’t confuse news with opinion.  Cronkite delivered the facts.  If the facts were ugly, Uncle Walter gave it to you straight.  Sometimes, he didn’t bother hiding its effect on him.  Uncle Walter told you JFK and RFK and Dr. King were gone, as were the Apollo 1 astronauts.  He told you Vietnam was a mess and held our hands when Apollo 13 came home by the skin of its crew’s teeth.  Uncle Walter was a reassuring voice when President Nixon turned out to be something less than a Lincoln or a Washington (or, really, a Rutherford Hayes or Grover Cleveland).

But I do have one really clear memory of Walter Cronkite.  Believe it or not, I was only 3 at the time.  I remember sitting in front of my parents’ tiny black-and-white Crosley on a hot summer night in 1969 watching those grainy images of Neil Armstrong coming down the lunar module ladder.

And now?

CBS started to annoy the hell out of me when Dan Rather took over for Walter.  In 1988, Rather took it upon himself to try and bully the elder George Bush during an interview.  Whether Rather’s questions were justified or not, his manner was less-than-professional, the sort of crap you expect to hear from Sean Hannity or Michael Moore.

9/11?  We needed Cronkite then, than calm, reassuring voice telling us the cold hard facts.  Instead, I flipped back and forth between CNN and Fox to get as much news as possible as the nation went nuts.  CNN somehow decided it was a good idea to get James Carville’s take.  So I flipped to Fox.  This was when it became clear to me Fox News was many things, unbiased not one of them.  Not when they have Al Haig saying to America “We’re going to lose some civil liberties, and Americans are just going to have to get over it.”  The last thing I needed that terrible day was that bayou whack job waxing nostalgic for the good ol’ days of Bill Clinton or possibly the most egotistical right-winger born before Ann Coulter telling us sorry, but it’s a police state now.

But Cronkite did a half-hour newscast in a world that only got its national news on television once or twice a day.  Today, Fox, CNN, and MSNBC have to fill 24 hours of news.  Every time someone complains that the mainstream media isn’t covering their pet issue, I have to laugh in that person’s face and tell them I’m actually sick of hearing about it.

We live in a world now where opinion is mistaken for journalism and where every move a celebrity or politician makes is screamed at us from possible corner.  The most horrific events of the day are covered in such minute detail that even the people affected are sick of hearing about it.

Jessica Simpson’s weight gain is not news.  Mark Sanford’s roving member is not news.  I doubt Cronkite would have bothered with it.

But if it was wondrous and historic or terrible and earth-shattering, Walter Cronkite is still the one guy you’d want to hear it from.

He will be missed.

And That’s A Rap…

As you probably noticed, it’s been a while since I posted an audio chapter of Road Rules.  The sad fact is it takes a lot of time to record, edit, and process a podcast, time I just don’t have anymore.  Between being a middle-aged college freshman, writing new material, and ye olde day job, I can no longer justify putting the effort into an existing novel that isn’t actively being shopped.

Road Rules will continue in blog format until its end.  But for now, the audio version is a wash.  Sorry.

Any Given Day


My reviews are all done for the month.  I should be finished with work for at least two of my classes by the end of next week.  Oh, and you people owe me some reader requests.  So if you’re reading this, start requestin’.

In the meantime, whilst I prepare to dive into the new novel, hereinafter referred to as The New Novel (TM), I plan to treat myself.  I’m going to be reading Dennis Lehane’s big ass magnum opus, The Given Day.

Yes, it’s been out a while, and at 700 pages, it’s not something that fits easily into my TBR stack.  But it’s time.  Besides, the last Lehane I read was Sacred, which was not the best of the Patrick and Angie novels.  (I leave that to Darkness Take My Hand.)

So what will I be reading once I commence to writing?  Oh, I dunno.  Likely, it’ll be Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and Starship Troopers, a lot of history, and maybe a Hemingway.  No crime fiction.  I don’t want to read crime fiction while I’m writing it.