Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog - November2011
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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Monthly Blog.
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Subjects this month: Great Idea For Economy--and you, Early Christmas Shopping, Government too big or just too complicated?, Book Reports, Short Story With Legs, Progress Report, The More Times Change The More They Are The Same, Alien Seeds, A Quote Worth Reading, The Complete Toppers, Newspaper Surprise, Bring Back the Nerva!, Continuing Series, The State of America: Our Idiotic Income Tax Laws, New Political Correctness Term, A program For Mystery Lovers, Excerpt from Alien Seeds.
Great idea For The Economy--And You
Here’s an idea to improve our economy. We know consumer confidence is way down and many of us displeased with our big corporations. An easy and effective way to get back into our good graces, provide some new jobs and improve the economy at least marginally would be for the corporations to bring customer service back to America. There is nothing more encouraging when calling customer service than hearing an American voice and getting to talk to a person who can understand you and understands your problem. Doing this wouldn’t cost the corporations that much. For Dell, for example, suppose it did add a couple of bucks to every PC they make. Wouldn’t the better corporate image and improvement of customer service be worth it? And we wouldn’t mind paying that extra couple of bucks if we could get an American to answer our complaints or requests for service. The corporations might actually wind up making more money. Take Dell as an example again. I bought Dell computers every three or four years for three cycles but I will never buy another one and the reason is simple: Absolutely horrible customer service. People in Banglafarawayistan I can’t understand and who half the time can do nothing but follow a service tree when attempting to solve a problem. They can’t think outside the box like we do nearly as well. I spend three times as long asking them to repeat and speak slowly as I do with the problem. It’s no wonder me and millions others hate outsourced customer service. All in all, corporations would greatly benefit by this simple step, the country would benefit by increased jobs, the economy would benefit by increased consumer confidence in the corporations that thought enough of we who buy from them to bring customer service back here and it might even send some of our students into more technical fields where the jobs are. As is we have positions going begging because we can’t get the techs to fill them.
How about it? If you agree, write the corporations you do business with and complain until they change! Pass this idea on to everyone you know. Create a ground swell for American customer service. Use Twitter and Facebook. Hell, tell the OWS ers to use this as a talking phrase so long as they are complaining. Make your voices heard! Get going!!!!
Early Christmas Shopping
It’s never too early to do your Christmas Shopping! May I suggest Books for your friends and family? How about some Christmas Humor with Life On Santa Claus Lane or Doggie Biscuit!. Both are available right now at Amazon and Barnes & Noble on line.
Laughing All The Way is another Christmas Humor book, sort of a sequel to Life On Santa Claus Lane. The expanded edition by Twilight Times books is going to the printer’s now and should be available by the last week of November!
These three books have received excellent reviews and any one of them or even all three will make Christmas gifts that the whole family can enjoy, especially since they are all interrelated! Just read the reviews! And then go shopping!
All three books are by your friendly author, Darrell Bain.
Government too big or too complicated?
Ask anyone how much government is too big and you’ll get a different answer form different persons. Ask anyone if the government is too complicated and I suspect most people would agree that it is, especially if they’ve had much dealing with any segment of our lovable feds.
Here are a few illustrative examples for you. It is three years after Hurricane Ike and many homeowners (or previous homeowners) are still trying to weave a path through the various arms of FEMA trying to access money that’s been appropriated for years. And here it is four years after the big financial crash and the SEC is still investigating Standard & Poor’s excellent rating of mortgage debt offerings that turned out to be worthless. Maybe they’ll finish by the time the next recession comes around but I wouldn’t count on it. The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was a couple of years ago but people are still unemployed waiting on the government to get their act together on new regulations. The Social Security Administration winds up sending checks out to people who have been dead for years and years because their bureaucracy doesn’t talk to other bureaucracies. The World Trade centers were demolished by terrorists because The FBI, CIA and other agencies wouldn’t or couldn’t talk to each other. That was ten years ago and the problem was supposed to be fixed. Guess what? They still aren’t speaking! And let’s not even talk about the Environment Protection act, or Species Protection act, or whatever it’s called. We could go crazy trying to sort through all the different agencies that are involved.
I could go on and on but I believe I’ve cited enough examples. I don’t know how big or little our government should be but I am sure of one thing: it has become far too big and/or complicated to function efficiently.
I may have posted this before but even if I have it’s worth reading again.,
“The fate of the world economy is now totally dependent on the growth of the U.S. economy, which is dependent on the stock market, whose growth is dependent upon about 50 stocks, half of which have never reported any earnings.”
Now that’s scary if completely true!!
Finally you can read all of Toppers in one book. Hilarious tales between me and Will Stafford taken from correspondence soon after my first book, Medics Wild, was published. Will is a former helicopter pilot from the VN era who won a battlefield commission. Those folks who think I write good humor, e.g., Life On Santa Claus Lane, haven’t read the tales Will told me during those three years we wrote each other almost every day. He swears all the stories are true, but, well…read him yourself, with me as the stooge. Complete Toppers is available at all the usual ebook stores and will be out in Trade Paperback soon. Don’t miss this one! Betty and I both howled with laughter every day as we read his email. Now you can, too!
Two of my most original and oddball science fiction/adventure/suspense protagonists appear in Alien Seeds. The Strake brothers aren’t scientists. They are vagabond adventurers with itchy feet, never able to settle down in one profession or with one woman for very long. John and Gary Strake aren’t dummies, though. They use their innate common sense, political incorrectness and refusal to back down in order to fight back when they inadvertently become involved in an invasion by xenophobic aliens. With the help of two female scientists the brothers risk their lives over and over again while trying to contain the invasion. It began with the horrible murder of Gary’s girl friend and from there... Available now in print and at kindle and nook and most ebook stores.
I just re-read Alien Seeds and I sincerely think it is one of my best science ficition/suspense novels. When I read one of my books that I wrote 5 years ago or thereabouts as with Alien Seeds it always makes me wonder how I came up with all the plot twists and derring-do and memorable protagonists when I clearly remember writing it with no outline and never knowing from page to page what I would come up with next. Every author does things differently and that’s my usual style.
Program For Mystery Lovers
One of my short stories, “The Good Book” had a short movie made from it titled “The Book”. Now a radio station wants to also do a program using the story. The script is already being written. It will be broadcast Sunday, November 6 at 8PM from the show “The Woman In Black” at Station KTRT in Winthrop, Washington. You may also listen to the show from the Dropbox at url xxxx
Note: I do not write negative reviews. The only books I write about and recommend are the ones that appealed to me and that I think would appeal to many of my readers. If I don’t like a book, I never mention it. I don’t think it is fair to the author since reading is such a subjective experience. I truly like the following books:
It has been a good long while since I’ve picked up a book by Phillip Margolin. Lost Lake is an old one I hadn’t read before. A woman is certain her Father, who is running for President, killed her Mother and broke up a budding teenage romance among other misdeeds. It is all hidden though. He has had her committed to one institution in order to keep her quiet, she says.
When she runs across her old boyfriend, who she finds is accused of murder and an AWOL soldier who once worked for her Father she thinks she might have found a way to bring her Father down. But who is telling the truth? A very complicated plot by a talented author makes a good read. Recommended.
I re-read all five of my Williard Brothers (Medics Wild) books, beginning with Medics Wild then in order, Postwar Dinosaur Blues, Bigfoot Crazy, Three For The Money, and Space For Sale. In Three for the Money the brothers finally wind up with permanent girl friends and all the money they can ever use, but more importantly, they gain the necessary youth to keep them going for decades to come, at least. In Space For Sale, we left the brothers with their uncompleted spaceship still intact but the alien lander has gotten away, along with the human operative carrying out alien wishes. They don’t know that, though.
I re-read all the books in preparation for beginning the last book in the series, tentatively titled Mars and the Universe, or maybe Mars and the Galaxy, or perhaps Mars or Bust. Anyway, they are going to Mars, aiming to capture the alien mothership before the aliens find a way to repair their lander and beat them to it. It should be fun to write, but then all these books have been fun and they have a lot of fans. Surprisingly, even though the Williard Brothers are about the most macho, politically incorrect characters in the world, women like the books, too. In fact, the most devoted fans of the series are women.
Patricia Brady has written a very good history of President Andrew Jackson and his wife Rachel’s lives. The title, A Being So Gentle is sort of a misnomer because the book is as much about Jackson as her. I learned a hell of a lot of history I hadn’t known about from the fairly short but extremely interesting history. It reads almost like a novel but is very much a history. The life and times of many characters in the years from 1790 until 1830 have been meticulously researched. For instance, I had no idea that the ladies in the upper gentry class smoked pipes! Nor did I know how divorce worked back then, and adoption and many other mores and facts. Read this book. I predict you’ll enjoy it--and if you think politics are dirty and corrupt today, you should have lived back in those times! The more things change the more they stay the same, it seems.
David Weber has done it again, expanding a short story (or novella, actually) into a very good novel set in the Honor Harrington universe, titled A beautiful Friendship. It is advertised as a young adult novel but anyone should like it. I know I did. In fact, I shed some tears, especially during the first half of the book.
So far as I’m concerned, Tom Clancy reached the height of his prowess as a writer with Red Storm Rising. This is a novel in the “What if?” category of history. Younger readers reading this review won’t remember the Cold War but it was the epoch after WWII which led to much of the polito-socio-economic scenario we find ourselves in today. It’s hard to imagine now, but we had millions of men under arms and a plethora of weapons, planes, tanks, submarines and huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons and were facing a Russian empire of Communism which had the same kind of weaponry and was intent on converting the rest of the world to Communism. About the only remnant of that now is Cuba and our continuing senseless embargo against that little nation long after the events that precipitated it have ceased to matter. Red Storm Rising assumes that the Soviet Union (as it was called in those days prior to 1991) precipitated a conventional war, intending to take over Germany and negate the NATO alliance and then invade the Arab oil producing states and grab their oil to keep their empire rolling. Clancy encompasses the whole gamut of weapons, from submarines to tanks to aircraft carriers and fighters and bombers and infantry and armor units in a huge conventional war. The United States, as the major power attempts to hold the line with Nato help in Europe while reinforcing by sea. The Soviet Union uses its air power and submarines to try preventing it and all the while the ground war in Europe rages on. I won’t go into all the details but Clancy created a scenario so compelling that when I read the book I can imagine it all really happened. Whether you’re my age or don’t’ remember the Cold War, this is a book worth reading. It is pure excitement and could all very well have happened just as he depicted it. Or it could have gone another way. Whatever, I highly recommend this book. It is, IMHO, his absolute best!
Short Story With Legs!
My favorite short story, the one I like best of all that I’ve written is The Good Book. It was first published in a chapbook, then became one of the stories in my first collection, Around The Bend, then had a short movie made form it and now is the basis for a mystery radio program (see Program for Mystery Lovers, in this issue of Bainstorming). That little story has legs!
More the change more the same
It was back in the 1960s that I got my first pair of glasses. I was in the army at the time so of course I got the standard issue frames for back then, a pinkish-gray color with a small frame. I didn’t like them as as soon as I could afford it I changed them to a heavy black frame. Over the next ten years or so I got a couple more pair and chose the heavy black frames for them, too. Then they went out of style, but I continued using them. Whenever my prescription changed I had the glasses put in my heavy black frames, out of style or not. Then lo and behold, recently I’ve noticed that the heavy black frames are now in style again. Sometimes keeping old items pays off! I did have three pair of frames but one pair got broken during shipment. I still have the two that I use, one at my easy chair and one at my computer desk in the office. I have no idea if they’ll last my lifetime but they’ve held up for over forty years now. Not bad. And as the old adage goes, The more things change the more they stay the same. All I have to do is pull out my forty year old frames to prove it. They are right in style again.
One of my dependable laughs occurs when I look at the fashion page. I see models scowling as if they are mad at the world and I can’t blame them for it because I’d be scowling, too, if I were a model and had to wear those crazy outfits that no woman in her sane mind would be caught dead in. But one day last week I opened the paper and got the surprise of my life. Not only did the models have very pleased expressions on their faces but the outfits they were displaying were very attractive and made the models look attractive, too. I would never mind being seen with a woman wearing the ensemble paraded in the paper that day! I suspect it will be a long hot day in December before that ever happens again, though.
Bring back the Nerva!
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
…To date, no nuclear thermal rocket has flown, although the NERVA NRX/EST and NRX/XE were built and tested with flight design components. The highly successful U.S. Project Rover which ran from 1955 through 1972 accumulated over 17 hours of run time. The NERVA NRX/XE, judged by SNPO to be the last "technology development" reactor necessary before proceeding to flight prototypes, accumulated over 2 hours of run time, including 28 minutes at full power.
End of Wikipedia article.
The Nerva nuclear rocket worked. Why didn’t we build them? Hell, we could have colonies on Mars and the Moon and be exploring the moons of Jupiter with manned spaceships right now, considering how many improvements would have been made in the last four decades if we had continued development and use of nuclear power for space flight. Why didn’t we? Because short-sighted politicians let the anti-nuclear nutcases scare them silly. Just because atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons was a bad idea didn’t mean everything nuclear was bad. And the Nerva was good, safe and would not only have given us a manned space program far advanced over the anemic program we have today, it would have enabled us to move a lot of pollution-causing industry into space.
BRING BACK THE NEVERA!!!!!!
Alien Seeds and Apertures Two: Allies and Enemies have both been best sellers at www.fictionwise.com . They have already been published as ebooks and are now out in print at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I just completed the third and last book in the Apertures trilogy, titled Apertures Three: A World lost, A World Gained. It is with an editor now and should be out as an ebook by sometime in November and in print shortly thereafter.
Would anyone like to see me write a book titled Children of the Sex Gates? I’m thinking seriously about it.
And a special treat for all those people who like humor: the complete Toppers is now available all in one book under the title, what else but Complete Toppers. Written with Will Stafford. Available now at all ebook stores and soon available in print as Trade Paperback.
New Political Incorrectness Term
This may not be really new but for the first time this past month I saw “food insecurity” used in place of poverty. What will the political correctness police come up with next?
Series, State of America: Our Idiotic Income Tax Code
Taxes are a good way to tell how things ought to be since they affect everyone. I’m talking about federal taxes now, not state or local. Maybe I’ll get into them later on. Right now let’s just stick to the income taxes that are paid to the federal government by individuals like you and me so there’s money to run the country. Run it into the ground, some would say. They wouldn’t be that far wrong in my opinion. No one really likes paying taxes but we wouldn’t mind so much if everyone paid their fair share, would we? I know I wouldn’t. It doesn’t work that way, though. The great majority of middle class working men and women pay a higher proportion of their income than the rich do. Why? Because of our byzantine, labyrinthine maze of a tax code that no one, not a single soul in the whole country, understands. The newest, biggest, fastest main frame computer manufactured by IBM might can beat a chess master but it can’t even come close to figuring out the incredible tangle of IRS regulations concerning our taxes.
Don’t believe me? Okay. I’m an author. I want to use part of my home as an office and deduct the expenses. Below is an excerpt of a 35 page government publication pertaining to this deduction. Note that it isn’t even the code or regulations, merely an attempt to tell you when you can use your home office as a deduction. Also note all the forms and publications referred to. And this is just a random excerpt of a 35 page publication attempting to explain to a poor author when he can use a part of his home as an office.
If you can understand even a fraction of this mess of gobbledygook you have no business reading this book. You have a future in Washington as a tax lawyer. Or perhaps you don’t even have to understand it to become a tax lawyer. No one else does!
· The requirements for qualifying to deduct expenses Useful Items
Now that I’ve given an example of just how arcane our tax system is, let me explain how it got that way. Politicians are continually adding, changing and revising the IRS laws and regulations in order to favor certain segments of the public. They do this in order to attract votes. Want the home owners to vote for you? Give them a mortgage deduction. Want the oil companies to contribute money to your campaigns? Give them some depletion allowances, whatever the hell that means. It’s a tax break of some sort. I know that much because I read about it in the paper so often when one party or the other proposes changing them.
According to the US Government Printing Office, it's 13,458 pages in total. The full text of Title 26 of the United States Code (the part written by Congress--available for an additional $179) is a mere 3,387 printed pages, bringing the adjusted gross page count to 16,845.
And just as a sidebar here, how much room does that leave for cheating and avoiding paying the taxes the law says you should? Bunches, that’s how much! Name me someone making one million dollars a year who paid $390,000.00 dollars income tax last year as the law specifies. I bet you can’t. There may be one here and there but I doubt it. Cheating, deductions, loopholes and hell, just plain failure to bother with that piece of shit that is our tax code probably costs us about a quarter of all the income taxes that are supposed to be paid. And that doesn’t even include the giant black market of cash transactions where no records are kept and no taxes of any kind are paid! With a sales tax they couldn’t avoid paying taxes if they wanted to! Well, there could be cheats, naturally, but the simpler a system is the less room for cheating.
One more sidebar and we’ll move on. How much money does the IRS spend to enforce those 16,000 pages of income tax regulations? Only eleven billion dollars! And how many people does it take to enforce them? Something approaching 100,000 employees! And even so, how much money does the IRS not collect that is owed? Oh, somewhere over 300 billion dollars! Is it any wonder no one likes the IRS or the income tax?
Okay, enough examples, but I could write ten or a dozen books just listing all the special breaks written into our tax codes by our leaders going after votes. How about instead I talk about how it ought to be, huh? I’ll make it real simple.
So what’s fair? Personally, I think a consumption tax would be fair to everyone, rich and poor alike. It has been proposed before but our congress critters are all so scared of losing votes that they aren’t about to pass a sensible tax system like the consumption tax.
Look at it this way. I’m poor and can only afford a $20,000 dollar car. I’ll pay an extra $2,000 tax. A rich person, on the other hand, buys a Lincoln for $50,000 dollars. That person will pay a $5,000 dollar tax, two and a half times as much as the poorer person. If I buy a home for $100,000 dollars I’ll pay $10,000 dollars tax. If a rich person buys a million dollar mansion, they’ll pay $100,000 extra in tax, ten times as much as I paid when I bought a home. See how it works? The more you buy, the more taxes you pay. The people who buy the most things in life will pay the most taxes but never a higher percent than anyone else. Now what could be fairer?
And look at it this way. Your paycheck would automatically go up because there would be no more withholding of income tax. Sure, you’d pay it back in the 10% consumption tax but at least you’d know everyone was paying their fair share!
Of course we’d still have to have an enforcement system but it would almost have to be better to police about 5 million businesses than 150 million wage earners! Or whatever the figures are. But it would sure be better than what we have now.
Now let’s hear from the bleeding hearts who will tell me that the 10% penalizes the poorest segment of our population. Suppose it does? They’re being penalized anyway by those who are better off and who use legal loopholes to avoid taxes, which in turn means those poorer pay more. One way or another, the money has to be collected to run the country.
And consider this. How about all the illegal aliens in the country earning money but not filing income taxes. Hell, they can’t even if they wanted to (which I’m sure they don’t) because they don’t even have SS numbers! So at present all that money is lost. But with a consumption tax instead of an income tax the illegal aliens would have to pay their taxes just like the rest of us, a 10% tax on everything they buy! Now doesn’t that make you feel better? How many millions of those illegal aliens are there in the country and how many billions and billions in taxes would they pay with a consumption tax? Bunches and bunches!
I know someone is bound to say But what about black market sales? No taxes would be collected then! They would be perfectly right. But consider how hard it is to conceal very many sales or heck, conceal a store! Any place that sells anything has to be licensed and would be pretty hard to hide, especially if it sold enough goods to amount to anything. Sure, there’d be some loss but nothing like what is going down the drain under the present system!
So there you have it. That’s how I believe it should be. So long as we have to pay taxes, let’s at least be fair about it. And I’m perfectly willing to change my mind if anyone can tell me of a system that’s any fairer than this one!
Excerpt From Alien Seeds
This fiction novel is for my brother Gary. I've given one of the
My brother Gary has always been the adventurous one of the family, although anyone who doesn't know about him might think it's me who loves living on the edge. I've been involved in a few escapades, including one real war and one that never made the headlines but was real enough to those of us being shot at all the same. And I've traveled a lot, itchy feet being something all the men of our family have in common. I was something of a rounder in my younger days, drinking and gambling and bouncing from woman to woman and place to place while thinking I'd never find that true love the romance novels tell about.
* * *
I couldn't get any time off, so I quit, very reluctantly, telling myself Gary was going to owe me big time for this little trip, especially since I swiped one of the lab microscopes from the storeroom to take with me and would probably wind up in jail if I ever came back that way. Or maybe not--it was an older scope, relegated to the storeroom when the lab bought new ones. Besides, that goddamn intern Bonnie was seeing when I wasn't around would probably have her locked up by the time I got back, even if finding out what was going on didn't take that much time. I've got it figured out. God just doesn't like me, any more than that intern does, so screw them both.
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