Monthly Archives: June 2012

You Can Now Follow Me On Twitter

I am not a heavy tweeter, but I do now have my own Twitter account – @mbtimetraveler

I promise not to be a twit with my tweets.

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Filed under Uncategorized, Writing

The “Big Six” Publishing Houses

As an author I always hear about the big six houses, but being out here in Arizona, I never really knew which six they were referring to.  It is funny, because I am not the only one, but when someone says “the big six” we all nod as if we know.  It is further complicated in that many publishing houses use different names for different types of books, so you might think it is another publisher, but it is a division of one of the big six.  So, as usual, I did some research so I would know for sure.  Here it is for me, and fellow authors who wonder.

Hachette Book Group

A profile of Hachette Book Group USA (HBGUSA for short), which is owned by French company Hachette Livre.


This house, under the News Corp umbrella, is based in midtown Manhattan and publishes a lengthy list of bestsellers


A profile of the publishing house, Macmillan.

Penguin Group

A profile of he second largest trade book publisher in the world.

Random House

One of the biggest publishing houses on the block, Random House is a subsidiary of media conglomerate, Bertelsmann.

Simon & Schuster

Another member of the “big six,” the major trade house based in NYC goes back to the early 1920s and was home to one of the industry’s most famous editors, Maxwell Perkins.
Yes folks, those are the golden gooses, the Holy Grails, the Arc of the Covenant.  The mighty houses we all yearn to accept our awesome stories.  Although I am also independently published as well, one day…one day…

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I Added a Shorter Name

Since my site has become somewhat successful, with over 6,000 hits this year, I decided to splurge and pay the extra $18 per year, so you don’t have to type in wordpress anymore.  You can now access my blog with just:

If you forget this, no worries, if you type in the old way, it will still get you to the same place.  I hope this makes it easier for those looking for me and typing in the domain name.  The internet is one of the few places that shorter and smaller are better.  Thanks for all your support!


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Facebook Timeline – Why???

I hate the timeline format.  It bunches together your posts out of order, randomly pops up crap to the right, changes pictures around.  Does anyone else hate it?  I think the following says it all for me:

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Filed under Humor and Observations

My Personal View On Immigration

Immigration is one of the most controversial topics I can discuss, next to maybe religion, abortion, and gender preferences.  Still, as an Arizonan who spent 14 years of my life working for the Legislature and various Governors in differing capacities and several years as a lobbyist, it is hard not to comment on the recent decision on HB 1070 by the Supreme Court.

I am not going to rehash any of the legal issues.  I think people are overwhelmed with tenth amendment states’ rights, state sovereignty, federal pre-emption and federal inaction on enforcement.  Instead, I hope to provide just my own personal view on what we should do with immigration.

First – Some Facts As I Was Able to Research Them:

675,000 legal permanent residents (LPRs) are allowed into the United States each year, with a backlog of about 5 million.  However, in addition to that number admitted, you can have 480,000 family sponsored preference immigrants; 140,000 employment-based immigrants, and 55,000 refugees or political asylum people that do NOT count against the 675,000.  This means about 1.3 million can come here legally per year as residents.  That also does not include any work programs or student visas.

The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)  established per-country levels at 7% of the worldwide level.  For a dependent foreign state, the per-country ceiling is 2%. The per-country level is not a “quota” set aside for individual countries, as each country in the world, of course, could not receive 7% of the overall limit. As the State Department describes, the per-country level “is not an entitlement but a barrier against monopolization.

Currently in the United States there are an estimated 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens (people not here under any recognized US program).  Many are from Mexico, but border apprehensions include up to 10% non-Mexican nationals, predominantly from Central and South America, but also from all over the world.  Port authorities more frequently apprehend  illegal entrants from Pacific Rim countries.

My classifications of Immigrants – Both Legal and Illegal

I think there are three types of immigrants:

1)  Those who want to become Americans;

2) Those who don’t want to become Americans, but who want to live and work here for the opportunities;

3)  People coming here to commit crimes or terrorism.

If I had to guess percentages, I would say 70% number 1, 28% number 2, and 1 to 2% number 3.

My solution

A)  Control all entry points to the United States completely, so we know every single person who is here.

B) Hunt down all those expired student visa folks.  All the 9-1-1 perpetrators were expired student visas to my remembrance.

C)  Let EVERYONE in that fits categories 1 and 2.

D)  EVERYONE in category 1 and 2 that is here, has to come forward and sign up and let us know who they are.

E)  If you do not want to be a citizen, you have to have papers and cannot stay if out of work for more than six months.

F)  Know everyone who is here and who enters, so we can weed out the Number 3 folks.

G)  New immigrants need to learn English and become part of the melting pot, adding their flavor and culture to all the others, not living apart.

I am a conservative and wrestle with the fact that people came here illegally while others waited in line.  At the same time I am a human and know if I lived in a crappy place I would be very tempted to move my family to America for freedom.  I have never had a problem with honest hard working immigrants.  My family is Irish, we were hated.  My family moved to California during the Great Depression/Dust Bowl and were viewed as vagrants and scum.

As a teenager, I waited on illegal farm workers in California’s San Jauquin Valley who had to carry their whole life savings with them because they could not open a bank account.  They were very nice and polite, but locals would try to rob them.  As a kid, I worked next to them picking fruit and vegetables because I was poor.

It is sounds easy to say, let’s find and deport up to 20 million people, but I  no longer believe that is feasible.  My hero Ronald Reagan gave amnesty to over 2 million illegals.  I have questioned that decision to this very day, but now I understand.

Remember, all of this is contingent on strictly keeping out that 1 to 2% of criminals.  We have to have a process like the old Ellis Island system, to screen folks, then let them in.


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Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer – Book Versus Movie

I will try not to have any spoilers here.  For a complete review of my thoughts on the book, you can find them under my comments on  The movie and the book are almost completely different stories, with the exception of Abraham Lincoln killing vampires.

Strengths of the Book – Tons of back story on Lincoln as a child, growing up, his struggles to make money, friends, girlfriend, business, law and politics.  In the movie, almost all of this historical background with Lincoln is gone.  The book also has written journal entries from Lincoln that leave you wondering if he really wrote them and they were incorporated ,or if they are made up.  The fight scenes are realistic.  Abraham Lincoln is a strong woodsmen, but not superhuman.

Weaknesses of the Book – The first part is never revisited.  Henry is not explained, either where he comes from, why he works through human surrogates, or anything.  It jumps around, skipping huge chunks of time.  In the book, the vampires are about four times stronger than a man, but otherwise pretty easy to kill.  The ending leaves the vampires running around, so Abraham Lincoln was really only partially successful.

Strengths of the Movie – Great production values, you get to see scenery from 1818 to 1865 which is very well done.  The movie has a great steampunk feel to it, where the book is simply historical vampire fiction.  The vampires are stronger and the fight scenes are much better as a result.  They can go invisible, etc.  I personally also think that the movie strikes a good balance between campy humor and taking it seriously.  People who read the book might like less drama over ten hours.  People seeing a movie want to see President Lincoln kicking vampire butt, which they accomplish well.  The top strength of all – they drop the weak beginning, and actually explain a plausible back story for Henry.

Weaknesses of the Movie – It takes out one of Lincoln’s two friends and replaces him with a slave.  It makes the other friend seem unreliable.  It adds a super villain vampire named Adam that is not existent in the book.  There are a few scenes where Lincoln is wounded, that show wounds from earlier in the movie.  The make up folks or editors got some in the wrong order.  It is mostly special effects and almost no character development.  In truth, you learn very little about Lincoln and the actor portraying him was better at looking like Lincoln than acting like him.  He feels like Captain America before the transformation.  They also make Abraham Lincoln and his new slave sidekick look supernatural in their abilities.  Including, chopping down a tree over a foot thick with one blow.  Training is one thing, super powers another.

Movie Comment – The character Henry, played by Dominic Cooper steals the whole show, relegating Lincoln’s wooden acted character to second fiddle.  Henry is so well played the other performances suffer from, in my opinion, poor casting or acting.

There, you have my own personal views.  I recommend you both read the book and see the movie.  After all, it’s Abraham Lincoln killing vampires, you got to see that right?


Filed under Humor and Observations, Writing

Recent Films, A new look

This post is about some random thoughts about pictures and movies.

Aren’t you glad they waited until we have computer graphics to make this film?














A star is born.  There is no evolution, there are only those animals that Chuck Norris allowed to live.










Great ideas.  Amazing to be able to think such deep thoughts while cleaning the vampire blood off your axe.








Hitchcock predicted this would happen.  Anyone remember The Birds?








Scene from the recent blockbuster movie Battleship.  They edited out the profanity, but the rest is still in the movie.

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I am now a Goodreads Author

I just joined as an author and posted two of my books to it.  If you are a member, and you have read either or both of my books, please feel free to rate them.  I must say I had a very pleasant experience with the Goodreads staff.  I sent them an email that I was unsure how to load my books and sent them the ISBN numbers and they did it all for me in a few hours.  Then I told them thank you and I would be joining as an author.  Ten minutes later, they had done that for me too.  I have never seen such good service before.  Thanks to the people at Goodreads and for all of you who take the time to comment on my book(s).

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Bitcoins Becoming Popular During European Financial Crisis

What are bitcoins you might ask?  They are basically fake monopoly money taken as real tender.  They are growing in popularity, but first, some basic economics:









Economics 101 Primer – It works like this, currency is backed by the government that issues it.  It used to be backed by gold and silver.  In fact, early currency was simply gold, silver or bronze stamped with the King’s face.  Then it turned to paper.  When it was backed by gold and silver, you could take the paper version to the bank and get actual metal.  This stabilized its value.  However, there is more economic activity than there is gold and silver in the world, so people switched to paper that is no longer backed by anything, other than faith that when you use it, you can buy stuff.

If there are 100 things to buy and 100 dollars, each costs around $1.  If you print more money, say $200, but the economy does not grow, things cost $2 a piece and your dollar is worth only half as much.  This is called inflation, which is bad for everyone.

If things keep growing in production (GDP growth) and money does not grow, you get deflation and it is difficult to do business.  In that case, the now 200 items chasing $100 would only be able to get 50 cents each.  The producers lose half their value.

So, a government is supposed to try to stabilize currency by having its supply go up and down as economic growth goes up and down, so their currency remains stable and so do prices.  When governments run high deficits, borrow money, and print money for their own purpose rather than matching growth, bad things happen, like runs on banks and lack of faith that the currency ‘means” anything.  That is one of the reason real gold prices have skyrocketed in the US.

Back to Bitcoins – People in Europe are losing faith in the British Pound Stirling and the Euro.  So, someone created the Bitcoin, a currency on the Internet which is NOT issued by any government.  It is simply issued in exchange for real money like euros, dollars and pounds, and then used as currency.  The fact that it is NOT backed by a government also means it is not increased to pay for government purchases.  People are so desperate that they are taking their Euros out of ATMs so fast that several governments are limiting withdrawals now.  Italy closed its banks for a week.  So, as they can, people in Italy, Greece and other places are turning in their euros for bitcoins.  So far, the bitcoins have more faith and value than regular money, gaining in value by 1700% against regular currency since 2009.  They cannot be used everywhere, but increasingly producers like restaurants and stores are taking them.

Can a privately held company through the internet successfully launch and maintain its own currency for the world better than governments?  I would have told you no ten years ago, but lots has changed.  In video games, there is an exchange rate now for fake game gold or credits to real cash.  There are millionaires who have sold imaginary retail space to people in Second Life.  Now, not in a video game, but in real life, we have fake money worth more than real money.  Amazing.

Here is a piece of a story from AOL Daily Finance, posted by Ross Kenneth Urken:

Is Bitcoin a Panacea For the Euro’s Woes?

Quite simply, Bitcoins are an encrypted digital currency that can be freely exchanged between people or between consumers and merchants. Businesses like Bitcoin because it allows them to avoid paying credit card fees of up to 3% on transactions. Consumers get to dodge the costs normally associated with currency exchanges. It’s only available for use in a handful of physical locations in cities around the world (it’s mostly used via Internet), but a major use for it has been for conversions — you can buy Bitcoins and then exchange them for another currency at no charge.

Bitcoin is in some senses a financial island removed from the vicissitudes and consequences of a traditional banking system. It’s neither controlled by central banks nor governments, and thus not vulnerable to larger-scale shifts like changing interest rates or the rampant inflation of countries in decline.

But Bitcoin’s isolation from geopolitical turmoil has been its true selling point for those in Europe.


Filed under Humor and Observations, Uncategorized

Dogs in Trouble for a Monday

Sometimes our furry friends make messes…   Sorry for the double post on one of them.

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