Wednesday, October 31, 2007

War - It's Not Just For People Anymore

When I heard George Carlin comment that people are the only species on earth that kill other members of our species, I sort of wrote it off as artistic license, not a scientific statement. He's a comedian, so the things he says don't have to meet the same standards as, say, a document from RAND.

So, imagine my surprise when I was reading a part of a report from RAND, and it said that humans are the only species that has wars. Um, doesn't anyone else watch Meerkat Manor? Those little buggers charge into another meerkat group's territory, kill the babies and drive away the grownups, then make themselves at home. If that's not war, what is it?

My sister might not want to read this next line, but chimps are even more warlike. Here's an excerpt from a NY Times article about a chimp war:

Logging of tropical forests in the central African country of Gabon appears to have touched off a savage territorial war among chimpanzees in which four of every five chimps die, says a field biologist for the Wildlife Conservation Society. ...chimps, the animals most closely related to humans, are known to be highly jealous of territory, patrolling and defending borders constantly. Even without logging, violent clashes are known to erupt in which chimps kill each other with their bare hands and feet. In at least two documented cases, large communities of chimpanzees have systematically hunted down smaller ones and killed all members.

And another one from the Telegraph (British newspaper):

In the Seventies, Prof Wrangham and Dr Goodall watched a group of chimpanzees split into two factions. One group killed every male and some of the females in the other group. The victims had recently been their companions.

I'm not trying to pick on chimps or meerkats or any other fuzzy, adorable little creature. I'm just trying to set the record straight. Humans aren't the only ones who fight wars. I suppose we could define war so tightly that the term only applies to people, but what would be the point of that?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Share the Love...

I've mentioned The Real Tuesday Weld before, and continue to be mesmerized by this music. I heard "Bathtime in Clerkenwell" in Wordplay, a film about the NY Times crossword puzzle. That was a cool surprise (and a fun movie - made me want to do crossword puzzles!).

Anyway, I just left a review on Amazon, because there was only one review there for the new CD, The London Book of the Dead, and I wanted to speak up and say "Hey, this is good stuff! I appreciate it! People should check it out!"

I mean, how can you not love lyrics like "I believe in people who I believe believe in love...", right? Or how about these lyrics, from Bathtime:


How about you? When you encounter music/movies/books/etc that you love, who do you tell? Ever write a fan letter or leave a review somewhere?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Real Meaning of Halloween

I'm probably already considered a heretic in some circles, so I've decided it's time to come out of the closet entirely and seal my fate as a lost soul. What's my grave theological flaw, you ask? What heretical position have I embraced, risking my eternal destiny? In a nutshell: I don't think Halloween is evil. In fact, I rather enjoy it.

Here's the thing: when small children dress up as princesses or Power Rangers or Apple iPhones or whatever the cool costumes are this year, then run through the neighborhood asking for candy, they aren't engaging in some sort of satanic ritual. They're just looking for candy, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Now, I'm not a big fan of the grotesque, bloody, oozing-eyeball kind of mask for people of any age. Further, I really think kids costumes should be kid friendly (what a concept!). I don't want my daughters dressing up as demons or anything like that (they're Pocahontas and Madeline this year), but I also think it's perfectly fine for them to celebrate Halloween. We carve pumpkins, dress up, and eat too much candy. It's fun for everyone.

I've become used to churches having "fall harvest parties," complete with costumes, bobbing for apples and lots of candy, but it sort of bugs me the way they shun the name "Halloween." (God forbid we celebrate All Hallow's Eve - the Eve of All Saint's Day!) Around here, they call it "Beggar's Night," - which for my neighborhood, will be on Tuesday, Oct 30th! I can't believe it. It's just sad.

You can read the whole history of Halloween over at Wikipedia, but the history isn't really the point. Yes, Halloween has origins in an old pagan celebration, but that doesn't mean it is an old pagan celebration. It's a modern celebration, so the real issue (in my mind) is this: what are the kids doing today? And the answer is: they're dressing up in costumes and eating candy.

I don't have a problem with that.

Book Sales

The first book I ever wrote was titled "The Radical Elements of Radical Success." I spent 5 years writing it, and am mostly proud of it. It got some very nice reviews and was even excerpted in a book on organizational storytelling, but as I've mentioned before, I do have somewhat mixed feeling about it.

It's definitely not the typical success-lit kind of book (which I can't stand)- in fact, I tried to turn the success genre on it's head. (although I think there is probably too little humor and too much earnestness in it - classic success-lit errors!). But my feelings aside, the doggone thing continues to sell!

I'm not talking about large quanties or daily purchases, but there is a regular trickle of sales, a handful or so each month (sometimes I earn enough royalties to buy a pizza... so I do).

I'm glad people are buying it, but these purchases mystifies me. Who is buying these books? How did they hear about it (I haven't done much in the way of marketing, spreading the word, etc)? What made them decide to buy it?

Of course, I also wonder what they think of it after they read it, but that thought comes later.
The question I would most like to have answered is simply "Why?"

(You can get your copy at RoguePress or on Amazon)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Later" (a true story)

Time: 9am, yesterday
Location: on the phone

"Good afternoon, this is the dental clinic."

"Hi, I'm experiencing some tooth pain and would like an appointment."

"The next available appointment is 1200."

"Oh, I've got class at that time. Do you have an available appointment for some time after 1:00?"

"Sir, I can only offer you the next available appointment. If you want a later appointment, you will have to call back later."


"Really? But I'm on the phone with you right now."

"Yes sir, that is our policy. I can only offer you the next available appointment. You'll have to call back later if you want a later appointment."

"How do I know you'll have an opening later when I call back?"

"Oh, I'm pretty sure there will be an opening."

"Then doesn't that mean there's an opening now? Why don't you just give it to me this time, instead of later?"

"Sir, it's our policy that I can only give you the next available appointment. You will have to call back later to get a later appointment."

"Actually, I can't call back later. I'm going to be in class from 10 until 1, and this is already the second time I called to try to make this appointment. Did I mention the tooth pain?"

"Do you want to talk with a supervisor?"

"Yes please..."

(Supervisor gets on the phone - a different person than the supervisor I spoke with on Wed, who gave me the same "it's our policy" line. I re-explain the situation.)

"Sure, I can get you in at 1:40 - that's the last appointment for the day."

"That would be great. Thank you so much."

Questions for discussion
Can you imagine any reason whatsoever for the policy on appointments?
What sort of magical powers are required to become a supervisor, enabling one to disregard the reasons from the previous question?
Do you think the supervisor knows about the policy, or is the phone person just making it up?
Who is responsible for this situation: the person who makes the policy, the person who follows the policy, both, neither, or someone else (me, perhaps)?
Bonus Zen Question: If the only appointment offered is at a time the patient cannot attend, has an appointment actually been offered?

(PS - They checked me out, took some X-rays, and I'm scheduled for a 90-minute filling replacement on 7 Nov. Yippee!)

Friday, October 26, 2007

NaNo- No Go...

Well, it looks like I'm not going to be able to do National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. Kinda bummed about it, but I know it's the right decision.

Previous years I ended up spending around an hour a day, usually very early in the morning. Well, my "very early mornings" are already spoken for, and the rest of the day is pretty doggone full this quarter.

Now, that doesn't mean I'm not going to write - in fact, I'm probably writing more now than ever... but a lot of it is for class.

I'm still hoping to do some work on The Helper In The Sun, but finishing it during the month of November isn't the goal anymore. Maybe next quarter will be easier...

Thursday, October 25, 2007


Welcome to my new blog! It's really just a continuation of the old one at a new address...


Love and Sin

You've probably heard the old addage "Love the sinner, hate the sin."

It hit me the other day that, if you have to chose only one of the two, go with the first part...