Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not for Everbody (Apparently)

Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, but I ran across a review for Rolling Thunder on Goodreads and have opened a discussion with the reviewer. Poor reviews are part of the game I have to play, so I try to have a little fun with it. Go here to see what that can lead to...

Whether I get a good review or not, it still indicates people are reading and I am grateful for that. Thanks to all who read my stuff!

Edit: After the fun, Tom from Kansas made some deletions and changes to his posts. I guess he didn't like the attention. The lesson I've learned here is that even amateur reviewers need to be nice.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

Radio Bubblehead

When I was a kid growing up in Texas, I remember when my family got our first television, and thus began my lost years. In the evenings, the family would gather around this marvelous new invention and watch Ed Sullivan, Jack Benny, Milton Berle, and a host of other performers. The broadcasts themselves were free. All one had to do was set up an antenna and attach a wire to the rear of the television set. No cable fee, no subscription fee, just turn it on and switch the dial to 4, 5, 8, or 11 (Don't forget 11, Slam-bang Theatre is on with host Icky Twerp).

Before dad brought home the TV, we sat in the same room and listened to radio programming. It too was free and even the commercials seemed to be enjoyable, but I was just a little kid, so what did I know?

Later, when we couldn't find the ball game or the boxing match on TV, we returned to the radio and, sure enough, we almost always found what we wanted somewhere on the dial. Sadly, those days are long gone. You can still catch the news at the top and bottom of every hour, but other than politically-fueled talk shows, there's very little solid entertainment on the radio anymore.

As a teen, music took over my life and my interest in radio programming was revived. I awoke to the mersey beat and fell asleep to motown. "Turn off that %&#^* music and go to sleep!" said dad. I discovered transistor radios and earplugs and slept through first period most school days.

The lure of the television was strong though, and soon I was spending more time in front of the tube than practically any other activity. Saturdays were my favorite time. Cartoons from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, then outside for football or baseball, depending on the season, then in for dinner at 6, sitting with the folks through Lawrence Welk and other variety shows until mom and dad retired at 10. Then it was my turn again in the form of late night 50s horror and science fiction. A sleeping bag, a bowl of popcorn, and Vincent Price.

Those were indeed the good old days. Fast-forward fifty years. I have televisions in my humble abode, yet I rarely watch anything other than an occasional DVD. I have cable, but it is for internet only, so sometimes I'll stream movies online (for free). Other than that, I haven't watched "regular" television programming for nearly ten years. I admit that I've tried, but what I see is just not very entertaining. Sometimes, I even doubt the veracity of the Discovery channel, or the History channel. The comedies aren't funny and the cop shows are too gory. Plus, if you want to watch that stuff, you have to pony up to Dish or Communicomm every month. TV is not free.

Well, the radio is still free and sometimes you can still catch a ball game. Weekends on the radio, however, are taken up with all-day infomercials and I can't possibly find it in my miniscule budget to invest in gold or annuities.

I guess that's OK. Instead of watching, I read, and write, and go for the occasional walk. I don't think I'm missing much -- even when a co-worker asks if I saw the game last night. "Listened on the radio," I reply.

When I was teaching school, I admitted to one of the other teachers that I didn't watch television. "Hmm," she said, "I wouldn't let that get around."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Quotes To Live By


1. Do not walk behind me, for I may not lead. Do not walk ahead of me, for I may not follow. Do not walk beside me either. Just pretty much leave me the hell alone.
2. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a broken fan belt and leaky tire.
3. It's always darkest before dawn. So if you're going to steal your neighbor's newspaper, that's the time to do it.
4. Don't be irreplaceable. If you can't be replaced, you can't be promoted.
5. Always remember that you're unique. Just like everyone else.
6. Never test the depth of the water with both feet.
7. If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments.
8. Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes.
9. If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.
10. Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish, and he will sit in a boat and drink beer all day.
11. If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it.
12. If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
13. Some days you're the pigeon; some days you're the statue.
14. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.
15. The quickest way to double your money is to fold it in half and put it back in your pocket.
16. A closed mouth gathers no foot.
17. Never miss a good chance to shut up.
18. There are two theories to arguing with women. Neither one works.
19. Generally speaking, you aren't learning much when your lips are moving.
20. Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Smashwords Summer Book Sale


This is the last weekend for the Summer Book Sale at Smashwords. Go here to see books by yours truly.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

To The Stars #1 at Amazon


To The Stars ranked #1 on Amazon Top 100 Free Science Fiction eBooks! Go here.

To The Stars may be downloaded for free at Amazon or Smashwords.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Book Babe Reviews The Gender Wars


The Book Babe has given The Gender Wars a "Hit" rating along with a nice review posted on her website at Book Babe. Thanks, Book Babe!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July Discounts

During the month of July, all my books are available through Smashwards at a 25% discount. To The Stars, first book of the Harry Irons Trilogy, is still being offered for free. Here is the link to Smashwords: Thomas Stone

Samples of all books may be downloaded free of charge. Thanks for reading and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Doomed Dollar


“You can ignore reality, but you can’t ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” -- Ayn Rand

What has not been said about the current economic situation? From pie-in-the-sky optimists to dire warnings from those who see an approaching apocalypse, we have prognosticators from all sides who claim one thing for certain: there will be significant changes in our way of life and these changes will be preceded by the devaluation of the American dollar.

A dollar collapse would be the single largest economic event in human history. It would be the first economic event that would influence every living person in the world. No denomination in human history has had as much influence upon the world as the dollar. It is the de facto world currency. While there have been other economic collapses in history, all pale in comparison to the dollar's predicted collapse. The reason is that the other historical currency crises were regional and there were other currencies available for people to switch to. The dollar's collapse, however, would be global and it would bring down not only the dollar but all other fiat currencies. Some economists even predict that the collapse of currencies would lead to the collapse of all paper assets.

Thanks to globalization, the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. It supports the global economy in matters pertaining to foreign trade, most importantly, in oil dollars. This money is recycled through London and New York where corporate and/or government forces take out huge shares through taxation, fees, and profit. The model is driven by the knowledge that a consistently growing economy matches an increasing population with ever more requirements for resources. As long as economies are growing, whether global or regional, it is reasoned, there will be enough (money, jobs, food, housing) to sustain people.

Barring a miracle, the cycle as described above will end with the inevitable collapse of the U.S. dollar. In order for our debt-based money to function we must increase the debt every year in excess of the debt as well as the interest accrued the year before or we will enter a deflationary spiral. When debt is created, money is created. When debt is paid off, money is destroyed. There is never enough to pay off the debt.

So, we can either default on the debt altogether or create more money (debt) to maintain the status quo a while longer. The problem is, we are approaching a compound interest moment when the debt exceeds the principal -- hyperinflation will be the result. That is the scenario where it will take a wheelbarrow of money to purchase a loaf of bread.

There are other options, if our leaders are bold enough. Beyond politics and Wall Street’s typical ways of doing business, debt forgiveness should be an option. And China and the other countries who hold America’s mortgage? Ask them to forgive our debts (similar to how we forgave theirs after the World Wars of the twentieth century) with the understanding that if they don’t, we will default in any case. What if there was a national day of debt forgiveness? Following a clearing of the books for every loan institution in the country, imagine the vigor of a re-start. Maybe even fix the rules while we’re stalled.

A friend once asked where was the best place to be in case of a nuclear attack? The answer is, it’s where you can say, “What was that?” The same holds true for surviving an economic collapse as well as the inevitable re-arranging of banking and government. I favor the notion that people will persevere as they always have -- through community connections and by the use of their wits.

So what to do in the meantime? Opt for a soft landing. Prepare as best you can and trust in whatever greater power you believe to protect you. Remember, people have been around a lot longer than either money or governments.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hmmm...

"If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it. And, you'll do it, despite rejection and the worst odds. And it will be better than anything else you can imagine. If you're going to try, go all the way. There is no other feeling like that. You will be alone with the gods, and the nights will flame with fire. You will ride life straight to perfect laughter. It's the only good fight there is."

-- Charles Bukowski (Factotum)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reality -- What a Concept

We make decisions based upon our perceptions of the world and our perceptions are irrevocably linked with our expectations. In other words, we define the world according to our beliefs and act in response to established procedures. That’s how we discriminate between right and wrong. Therefore, every day is filled with decision-making moments that delve into what is best for ourselves balanced with what is best for those around us.

Now, at this point in my discussion, it would be easy to simply shrug and say, keep the faith, trust in God, and these matters will sort themselves out. That is wise and true, but bear with me a moment as I force a little deeper exploration.

Even for the most faithful, there are problems with sorting out the mere appearance of truth with truth itself. To help make the best decisions, we utilize and depend on trusted information resources. This is where problems often arise -- how to not be fooled by appearances.

Appearance versus reality. It’s an old question and one of the most fundamental in philosophy. What is genuinely real and what is merely appearance? Assuming there is a difference between the two, how do we distinguish between them in any reliable way when there are so many slick, mass marketing techniques and smooth-talking salesmen who establish and sell to our desires and fears rather than our needs?

Many years ago when I was working as a research analyst and had too much money, I thought I needed to upgrade my transportation. In large part, my desire was brought about by watching too many seductive advertisements for vehicles. Additionally, I drove a pick-up and my colleagues drove Beamers and Mercedes. Peer pressure and desire is a dangerous combination. I ended up making a quick decision and purchased a Nissan 300ZX which, in those times, was one of the slickest, sexiest vehicles on the market. To cut to the chase, I came to my senses overnight and, much to the dealership’s consternation, reneged on the deal the next day. The reality of the situation is that I didn’t need new wheels for transportation. Instead, I had allowed myself to be talked into the deal.

By extension of that reasoning, most, if not all of us, are influenced by advertising and news reports. Come on. Does a salesman really care whether or not you need a particular product as long as you buy the product from him? So, the salesman’s job is to create an appearance of reality that appeals to our more prurient senses.

This stuff extends way past deciding what toothpaste to use or what car to purchase. It also goes for political campaigns and national philosophies (global warming, the green movement, anti-gun, pro-gun -- well, you get the point) -- anywhere mass consensus can be influenced.

In that context and as if there wasn't enough doubt already, there's a new software application that allows a user to remove images from digital videos. That means if you wanted to remove someone or something from a movie you've made, well, you could do it on your computer by utilizing the new software. The kicker is that the new software is able to do its magic in real time via a video feed.

The computer technique has been dubbed, "diminished reality," because that's what it is -- a subtraction of something from our perception. In movie lingo, it would be called special effects, but movies are not shown in real time.

Reports say the application is intended for city planning, interactive film and television, and engineering design. Also, it will be available for Windows.

It doesn't take a newspaper reporter to figure out the opportunity for misuse of this computer package is compelling. The release of diminished reality software could call into question the validity of any video feed.

If this report has captured your interest, there's a sample video (if you can believe your eyes) and a report at this web address: www.kurzweilai.net/diminished-reality-software-removes-objects-from-video-in-real-time.

Diminished reality software was introduced at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality (ISMAR) in Seoul, South Korea on October 13 to 16 of the past year.

Is it real or is it Memorex? You decide.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

eBooks Available on Amazon

Books by Thomas C. Stone are now available at the Amazon Kindle Store. TO THE STARS can be downloaded sans gratis (for free!) at Smashwords. Go here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

To The Stars Free Download

The 1st book of The Harry Irons Trilogy can be downloaded for free at its Smashwords home.

TO THE STARS is the first book in a trilogy concerning an intrepid group of space explorers in 2107. Harry Irons dreams of escaping an over-crowded Earth by working for one of the giant corporations. He gets his wish and soon enough finds himself struggling to survive on an alien world.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A New Year

I'm happy to report my books have passed the 1,000 download mark for the year. That's a good number for an indie writer, however what has me jazzed up is my next story. I'm currently working on another sci-fi piece that will be a slight departure from my usual stuff although it promises to provide plenty of action inside a tale of contrasting cultures. Stay tuned for updates and while you're waiting, please check out The Harry Irons Trilogy, available directly from Smashwords.com.