Its GLORIOUS COVER REVEAL happens April 3, 2017 on the DARK PARADISE: Mysteries in the Land of Aloha Facebook page (which will dramatically descend from the heavens and appear on said date, all glory be to god and editor Gail M Baugniet of the Aloha Sisters in Crime Hawaii chapter, amen).

Along with the cover, there will be tidbits about plot lines, the authors (one of them my awesome wife Shauna) and writing information we’ve picked up along the way. Like the best way to find typos is to put your story into a book layout program? Of course, when you PUBLISH it, grammar nazis will still scream that you used a jot when you should have used a tittle. (Note to grammar nazis: “jot” and “tittle” are SYNONYMOUS.)

The anthology offers 17 mysteries set in Hawaii, including my 5.9% contribution (yes I can do math despite being an English major) humble (but GLORIOUSLY so!) story about a young Japanese woman with the kind of embarrassing problem everyone has – a greedy blackmailer.

You’ll also find Shauna’s glorious story, “The Stranger,” in which a happily-married Jenelle learns some shocking and deadly information about her husband – like just WHY they’re dashing to the airport to flee the islands.

So on Monday, April 3, pop in at the Facebook page and have a glorious visit with everyone. Then I think you’ll agree with me that the cover is the NUMBER ONE CANDIDATE for greatest book cover of 2017. It would win the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes for book covers hands down. When it appears on bookshelves, all other covers will bow in adoration. (Can you tell that I really like this cover? I am PROUD to have a story behind a cover this great.)

Find out more about it and its other stories from some of the other authors appearing in the anthology. They’ll also post about the cover reveal today and I’m sure many will be hanging out at the Facebook page when it goes live:

So be there and be GLORIOUS!

NOTE: This is not the “IT” mentioned in the previous post. THAT is still coming. IT IS COMING IT IS COMING!

Hollywood IT

Hollywood IT is what you see in movies. What Hollywood scriptwriters and directors think is Information Technology. The only connection between Hollywood IT and real IT is they both use the word “computer”.

Here’s some Hollywood IT: Any password for a hypersecure system can be guessed in only 2 tries. Even though such systems don’t allow their users to use easily-guessed passwords like the user’s first name, somehow the user’s password is their first name. Failing that, all you need to do is type OVERRIDE and you’re in.

But here’s an example that pertains to the real world.

When we saw the most recent Bourne movie, a whistleblower stole a flash drive of super-secret information from the CIA. It held 3D animations, video, full documentation, plans, scans of all project reports, etc, all about the project that produced Bourne and the other assassins. Maybe a gigabyte total?

Once plugged into a computer, a virus on the drive notified the CIA that someone was reading the flash drive. Worse: Sharing the files with someone else. This Must Be Stopped or we’ll be un-CYAed, bringing about The End of the Free World.

In the movie, the CIA’s computer whiz hacker remotely finds a hackable smartphone near the laptop, somehow uses that to hack the laptop, and starts erasing the flash drive. (Why didn’t they just use the laptop’s wifi connection that the virus used to report in the first place? Eludes me.)

A few minutes later, it was done. I presume to full government disk wiping standards. Not just sequentially translated through 256 random languages on Google Translate into unreadable gibberish.

(Technical note: Encryption via Google Translate cannot be cracked. But you may find the output in the instruction manual for that cheap MP3 player you picked up at a garage sale.)

A real world situation

When I see something that still works, my first few reactions are: “It still works. Someone else could use it.” (Actually, that’s my second reaction. My first reaction is: “How can I still use it?” I’m that sort of person. I HATE throwing away things that still work. Or could be fixed. Explains the junk I’ve collected.)

So when I recently replaced a 1TB hard drive with a 2TB drive, I found it very difficult to apply the Sacred Hammer of Divine Data Destruction to it. That would be sacrilegious.

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According to my wonderfully-Aspbergian godson, New York City and Washington DC are two of the most popular strike points during Alien invasions.

I don’t keep much track of Alien invasions. But even I remember Marvel’s Avengers demolishing big chunks of NYC. And the aliens in Independence Day blasted Washington, D.C.

(A distraction: This article at VH1.com lists all the cities that Godzilla destroyed. NYC is #2 on the list.)

Let’s add some more cities, and other beings that seem to like to attack cities:

  • Los Angeles:

    • Attacked by Martians in all 3 of the War of the World movies

    • Attacked repeatedly by Terminators (being from Earth, they’re not aliens)

    • Destroyed by the Independence Day aliens

    • Attacked by aliens in Skyline

    • Attacked by Cylons in 1981’s Battlestar Galactica: Conquest of the Earth

  • Tokyo:

    • The favorite of Godzilla and her other monstrous accomplices/enemies

  • San Francisco:

    • Another of Godzilla’s targets (particularly the Golden Gate Bridge)

    • Attacked by aliens in Pacific Rim

Some other cities around the world destroyed by aliens: Rio De Janeiro, Toronto (Canada), Singapore, Beijing, Jerusalem, Tehran, Moscow, Rome, Berlin, London, Paris and many many others. (Thanks to this complete list of destroyed cities on Reddit.)

So why do movie makers seem obsessed with destroying or demolishing NYC and Washington, D.C.?

  • Movie makers want to appeal to the biggest audiences.

  • Movies are visual media.

  • Bad-ass aliens and monsters only really look bad-ass when they take down another bad-ass power.

Cities contain big audiences. 8.5 million in NYC. 6 million in Washington, D.C. 8.9 million in Mexico City, another city that’s been destroyed a lot in movies. 13 million in Rio De Janeiro, blasted by a meteor sent by the alien bugs in Starship Troopers.

But why NYC?

NYC is known world-wide. Set your movie there and most everyone in the world has heard of it.

Many people in the world see NYC as the symbol of American financial dominance. That was why Al-Qaida attacked the World Trade Center. According to the Institute for Global Analysis of Security, that cost $100 billion. Big impact for financiers.

Another reason to set alien invasion/monster movies in NYC is … skyscrapers.

The NYC skyline is nothing BUT skyscrapers. Destroying a skyscraper is an easy way to get the visual kicks movies require:

  • Chunks fly off to crash onto streets full of panicked, screaming people (and a traffic jam, of course).

  • Ignite one with your alien’s favorite flame weapon and watch the giant torch burn as terrified people jump to their deaths onto the streets full of panicked, screaming people (and a traffic jam, of course).

  • Have a giant monster topple one and trigger a domino cascade of building after building, toppling onto streets full of etc., etc., etc.

For low-budget film makers, there’s probably so much stock footage of NYC that you could make an entire movie using stock footage. Just film your alien/monster on a green screen, add stock background. (You’re welcome, if your next low-budget movie wins an Oscar.)

So since NYC is such a wonderful target, why target Washington, D.C.?

D.C. is chockful of politicians and lawyers, probably not very high on many people’s list of “Those who must be saved at all costs”. So destroying Washington, D.C., might be popular amongst some of the audience. But then, NYC is also chockful of lawyers, and something even worse: financiers. Many of us have not forgiven financiers for crashing the economy a few years ago.

I think we can really blame its popularity (as a target for destruction) on the USA itself.

The USA has been a world superpower since the end of World War Two. (Which it ended by inventing the ultimate bomb of all human war weapons, the atomic bomb.)

Washington, D.C., is THE symbol of American political power. also in the city is the Pentagon, THE iconic symbol of American military supremacy. Plus I’ve always loved the Washington Memorial: Tall, thin, just begging to be a target.

Want your city-destroying aliens to look like the ultimate bad-ass power? Have them destroy D.C. Specifically the White House and the Pentagon. Then topple the Washington Monument as a casual afterthought.

Or have your hero in his giant robot fighting suit grab it and spear the giant alien monster he’s fighting.

Have fun blasting movie cities!

Another year further from the high school freshman who had discovered writing the summer before and bravely started sending out his poetry and stories. Didn’t sell any stories, but won a couple of cash-paying poetry contests, so he managed a $400 profit that first year.

Yay me.

Advice to musicians, writers, artists and creative people everywhere: Pursue your dreams when you’re young. It’s much easier!

​”Mistake, mishap, and disaster are socially organized and systematically produced by social structures.” – Diane Vaughan

“It is Christ Himself, not the Bible, who is the true Word of God. The Bible, read in the right spirit and with the guidance of good teachers will bring us to Him. When it becomes really necessary (i.e. for our spiritual life, not for controversy or curiosity) to know whether a particular passage is rightly translated or is Myth (but of course Myth specially chosen by God from among countless Myths to carry a spiritual truth) or history, we shall no doubt be guided to the right answer. But we must not use the Bible (our ancestors too often did) as a sort of Encyclopedia out of which texts (isolated from their context and read without attention to the whole nature and purport of the books in which they occur) can be taken for use as weapons.” – C. S. Lewis in a letter to Mrs. Johnson, written on November 8th 1952

“I think post-singularity AI is more likely to keep us as pets than exterminate us. They’ll have been initially programmed to help and protect humans, and will probably pass that imperative down to their descendants as a part of their culture. Based on this reasoning I conclude that cats invented humans.” – CarrieVS (@xaade) at thedailywtf.com

“In the name of Jesus, go forth and piss off the wolves wherever they show up; in your home, your school, the streets, the church, in City Hall—or in the White House.” – John Pavlovitz, Stuff That Needs To Be Said