Archive for month: December, 2013

Metal Tuesday – Pantera – Walk

31 Dec
December 31, 2013

This week’s Metal Tuesday is probably my favorite Pantera song “Walk.”

Lyrics:

Can’t you see I’m easily bothered by persistance
One step from lashing out at you…
You want in to get under my skin
And call yourself a friend
I’ve got more friends like you
What do I do?

Is there no standard anymore?
What it takes, who I am, where I’ve been
Belong
You can’t be something you’re not
Be yourself, by yourself
Stay away from me
A lesson learned in life
Known from the dawn of time

Re-spect, walk, what did you say??
Re-spect, walk, are you talking to me???
Are you talking to me??

Run your mouth when I’m not around
It’s easy to achieve
You cry to weak friends that sympathize

Can you hear the violins playing your song?
Those same friends tell me your every word

Is there no standard anymore?
What it takes, who I am, where I’ve been
Belong
You can’t be something you’re not
Be yourself, by yourself
Stay away from me
A lesson learned in life
Known from the dawn of time

(Chorus)X 2
Re-spect walk, what did you say??
Re-spect walk, are you talking to me???

Are you talking to me??

No way punk

(Chorus)X 2

Are you talking to me?
Walk on home boy

Deal Alert – Audible

30 Dec
December 30, 2013

If you like Zombie Apocalypse stories, then I highly recommend Day By Day Armageddon,

And it’s on sale at Audible.

Monday Fiction – Avalon – Book 1 Chapter 11

30 Dec
December 30, 2013

Anne

Anne Hearst glared at Erik as he removed his hand from the butt of his pistol. Damn it all to hell, Arem had been just about to tell her about her sister’s murder. Anne wasn’t sure how the elf knew anything about it, but she was sure that Arem was telling her the truth. Erik stepped into the alcove and took a seat across from Anne as if nothing had happened. Veronica was right behind him. The small Indian woman looked almost disappointed.

“Arem told you how we were the invaders into his peoples’ lands, and that we are responsible for conducting a war of genocide,” Erik said as he took a sip from the glass of juice in front of him.

“Something like that,” Anne said, keeping her voice tight.

“I assume you know the old adage that a good lie is at least three-quarters truth?” Erik asked. Anne nodded. “The truth is that we humans did show up on lands that the Dark Towers claimed. We didn’t invade. Something brought us to those lands. That’s something we still don’t understand.”

“And the genocidal war?” Anne asked.

“Neither side has a particularly good track record on that,” Erik answered, “As soon as the fighting began between the Avalonian Empire and the Dark Towers, it became savage. That said, at the end of the day, the Avalonian Empire must prevail in our war. If we don’t, those monsters will invade this world, and they will continue their slaughter here.” Anne sat back in her chair. She’d expected Erik to claim the Avalonians were innocent and that they were only defending themselves against the evil hordes.

“When you get to Avalon, you’ll understand,” Veronica chimed in. Anne could tell by her tone that Veronica was trying to be helpful. From the look Erik shot Veronica, he knew that Anne didn’t want to go to Avalon. Well, maybe if Kurt came with her it wouldn’t be too bad. Almost as if she’d summoned him, Kurt strode into the alcove. His eyes seemed to glow with a fierceness Anne didn’t know he was capable of. Kurt noticeably calmed as he saw that Anne was safe.

“May I sit here?” Kurt asked, pulling out the chair next to Anne.

“Um, sure,” Anne answered. If any of the other guys in her life were that protective of her, she’d have smacked them. She’d proven that she could take care of herself enough times. Kurt’s protectiveness, on the other hand, just made her feel– Anne shook her head. This wasn’t the time to be thinking about that. At that time, Samantha walked into the alcove. She was far more composed than Kurt. The brunette gave Anne a warm smile before sitting down next to Erik.

“Okay, here’s what we have on the three murders,” Anne said, pulling out three thick manilla folders from her briefcase. Erik and Samantha opened the folders. The initial crime scene photos were on top. “Sorry. Some of these are pretty graphic.”

“Very,” Erik answered with a clinical detachment. “I’ve never seen a murder like this done solely by human hands.”

“I keep them on top to help push me,” Anne explained.

“We do something similar,” Samantha said, “Because we don’t want to forget the horror of what we’re fighting.” Anne felt a wave of relief from Samantha’s tone. Her frustration with these Avalonians was pushed back as Anne went into full homicide detective mode.

“What’s bothering me is that there is no discernible pattern to them,” Anne said, “Other than the pure savagery and the end result, nothing is the same. No similarities between the victims, the weapons used were different, the method of killing was different. My partner and I are stumped.”

“Can I see all three photographs of the murders?” Veronica asked, her cheerfulness replaced by a somewhat disturbing solemness. Samantha handed her the pictures. Veronica studied them intently as Erik and Samantha went through the scanty forensic evidence. Kurt just sipped a cup of coffee.

“Is there anything you’d like to see?” Anne asked.

“Of the case, no,” Kurt said, “I am not an investigator. I am more of the muscle of this team.” He gave her a mischievous smile. “There are other things I would like to see.” Anne felt her cheeks warm. She covered it by taking a long sip from her own coffee.

“Do you have a map of these locations?” Veronica asked, setting down the pictures.

“Here,” Samantha produced a tablet and brought up a map of the city and its suburbs. With a few touches, the three murders were highlighted. Veronica studied the map.

“Well, these aren’t random, and there is one major similarity among your victims,” Veronica said. She picked up a stylus and drew a half-dozen lines across the map. All three murders were where at least two of the lines intersected.

“Your murders were rituals to ignite the lines of wild magic,” Veronica said, “I think they are called ley lines on this world.”

“Dammit,” Anne swore. She’d been hoping this was just simply a human psycho and not somehow connected to the Avalonians or the Dark Towers.

“Summoner or bargainer?” Erik asked.

“What’s the difference?” Anne asked.

“A summoner uses magic to bring something from another world into this one,” Veronica explained, “Usually one of the Dark Towers’ lesser minions. Those can be controlled by the summoner as long as they remain on this side of the gate. Bargainers create a hole between the two worlds to make a bargain with the Dark Towers. Usually for magic power or knowledge of magic.” Veronica turned to Erik. “I can’t tell which these were from the pics. I think that was part of the reason the victims were torn apart. I’ll need to get to one of the murder sites and try to recreate it.”

“What? Try to recreate the murder?” Anne asked.

“No, recreate the spell,” Veronica said, “Anytime magic is used, it will create what we in the magic community call a ‘ghost’. I can use my own magic to see the ghost and determine what kind of spell was done.”

“We can get you to the warehouse pretty quickly,” Erik said.

“That won’t work. Arem was throwing around too much magic from what you told me,” Veronica said, “I’d never be able to find the ghost in all that noise.”

“It will have to be the second one then,” Anne said, “The first was in a home, and there’s a new family that’s living in there now.”

“Great! When can we go?” Veronica asked.

“We can go tonight,” Anne said.

“Why not now?” Erik asked. It wasn’t an accusation. Just a simple query for knowledge.

“Technically, I’m not supposed to be working the case,” Anne answered. “So, I’d kind of like not to be parading around a crime scene in broad daylight when I’m not supposed to be.”

“Perfectly understandable,” Erik said, “In light of that, this is our current plan. After we finish eating, Kurt will go with Sam and Veronica back to the safe house. I will take Anne back to her apartment and take over guard duty until sunset. At that point, the three of you will come pick us up and we will proceed to the crime scene.”

“Why not Kurt?” Anne blurted out before she could stop herself.

“Because he’s been going for almost two days, and I’d like to get him rested before we head out again,” Erik answered. Anne looked over at the blond German, who just shrugged in response.

“Anne is not supposed to be driving,” Samantha reminded Erik, “Are you going to remember which side of the road you’re supposed to be on?”

“Is that going to be a problem?” Anne asked. Instead of answering, Erik just scowled. Anne was forced to hide a smile. So, the consummate spy had a weakness after all. That made him slightly less annoying.

“Just try not to distract him too much,” Samantha answered, “It would be a silly way to blow an operation.”

Friday Quote – 12/27/13

27 Dec
December 27, 2013
There are two ways to enslave and conquer a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.

John Adams, Founding Father and second President of the United States

On an individual level, debt represents both a risk and a cost. A risk because the debt can be called, and if unable to pay, assets can be seized. A cost because a premium must be paid on the money borrowed in the form of interest.

On a national level, the costs (interest) represent services not rendered or additional money pulled out of private hands while the risks represent danger to the economy.

H/t reader David

Multivitamins Don’t Help

26 Dec
December 26, 2013

According to three new studies, multivitamins don’t work against heart disease, cancer, early death, or declining cognitive ability. This just adds to the evidence that multivitamins do little more than give you expensive pee.

“Enough is enough,” declares an editorial accompanying the studies in Annals of Internal Medicine. “Stop wasting money on vitamin and mineral supplements.”

Why? Because most people get enough vitamins through the foods that they eat.

Better nutrition and vitamin-fortified foods have made these problems pretty much history.

Now when public health officials talk about vitamin deficiencies and health, they’re talking about specific populations and specific vitamins. Young women tend to be low on iodine, which is key for brain development in a fetus, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And Mexican-American women and young children are more likely to be iron deficient. But even in that group, we’re talking about 11 percent of the children, and 13 percent of the women.

So, unless your doctor (doctor, not woo-practitioner) prescribes a vitamin for a specific deficiency, quit wasting your money.

Metal Tuesday – Death Metal Christmas

24 Dec
December 24, 2013

Everyone does Savatage’s “Sarajevo 24/7” (yes, I know that TSO made it famous, but it was originally Savatage). So, I decided to do something different. Follow the link!

Okay, I had some help from my brother, since he tends to listen to that end of the metal spectrum.

Monday Fiction – Avalon – Book 1 Chapter 10

23 Dec
December 23, 2013

Erik

In the thirteen years Erik had been working for Blackguard, he’d developed a sense for when he could chalk up adverse events up to bad luck or to enemy action. It was a useful thing for an intelligence operative to possess. It didn’t make those adverse events any less frustrating.

The hassle getting the reservation at the restaurant was simply a matter of bad luck. Lady Maritza was less than pleased to hear from Erik so soon, much less for the task of setting up a simple brunch reservation. Erik wasn’t going to leverage his Blackguard status with Lady Maritza this time, so he’d been forced to haggle. So, for the price of setting up the reservation, he owed the American Chief of Station one favor to be named later. It was annoying, but Erik could hardly blame the Dark Towers for Lady Maritza’s actions. By contrast, the accident backing up traffic in front of Samantha and him was pinging his “enemy action” instincts.

“Stay here,” Erik told Samantha as he stepped out of the car. He’d asked Samantha to drive because he had a hard time wrapping his mind around driving on the right side of the road. Bloody Americans. Why couldn’t they drive on the proper side of the street like civilized people? Samantha, for some reason, could do it smoothly.

“Where are you going?” Samantha asked, concern in her voice.

“I need to see the holdup,” Erik answered. “I don’t think this accident was chance.”

“Cool! Do you want me to back you up?” Veronica asked from the backseat. Erik gave the sorceress a stern look. Why had the Saint forced Erik to take her through the gate? Granted, the young woman was more than a fair magic slinger, but she was still so new to Blackguard that the shine hadn’t worn off. Add to that her fascination with his old exploits.

“If I wanted your assistance, I would have told you so,” Erik said, “Your orders stand. Protect Samantha.” Veronica nodded, her enthusiasm not diminished a whit. Samantha shot him a warning look. Erik ignored it and walked down the sidewalk. After all, Samantha was surprisingly good at tamping down Veronica and giving the young woman much needed nudges.

About thirty meters down the street, the intersection was crowded with cars. He wasn’t even sure how the ambulance and two police cars had managed to squeeze in. In the center of the commotion was an overturned lorry and at least three cars that hadn’t been able to stop fast enough. Erik turned to the man next to him. From the man’s emotions, he was dying to tell someone of his account of the accident.

“What happened?” Erik asked, remembering to use his American accent.

“Oh man, you should have seen it,” the short man said excitedly, “I was standing on the corner waiting for the light to change when this huge-ass dog comes barreling through the street. Biggest dog I’d ever seen. And then it stopped in front of that truck. Like it was waiting to get hit or make the truck crash. Well, the truck driver stood on his brakes and slid that rig around. I guess the driver misjudged, because then the truck tipped over and slid for like twenty feet. when I looked back, that dog was gone. Just gone.”

“Wow, that sounds insane,” Erik said, before turning back to the street. Erik reached out with his power. The raw emotions of everyone in the intersection went from a dull hum to a roar in an instant. Erik sifted through the morass of emotions, looking for the tell-tale feel of a Dark Towers minion. He felt a whiff of Dark Towers’ scent and focused. He found the psi-scent, but there was something very wrong. The psi-scent had a shade of the Dark Towers, like a summoner or a bargainer, but the underlying psi-scent wasn’t human. It had some hints of human, much like it had hints of the Dark Towers, but the base psi-scent wasn’t human. It wasn’t like anything Erik had encountered on Earth or Avalon. With the psi-scent fixed firmly in his mind, Erik started hunting around the people in the intersection. His eyes locked onto a tall, dark-haired man who looked back at Erik with a knowing grin on his bearded face. Erik fixed the man’s face and psi-scent firmly in his mind. He couldn’t chase the man – or whatever that person was – at the moment, but there would be other ways to find him later. Almost as if his job was done, the man tapped his fingers to his forehead in a mocking salute and vanished. Erik fished the small cell phone out of his pocket. Okay, there were somethings they had here on Earth that made his job easier.

“Sam, tell Kurt to stay close to Anne. This accident was a set-up,” Erik said, as he walked back to the car. He closed the phone without waiting for a response. Was that man part of Arem’s forces trying to snatch Anne, or was there another faction operating in the city? After this morning’s session with Anne, Erik was going to have Sam and Veronica yank that man out of his mind and try to find him. He probably should also talk to Lady Maritza and see if she knew anything about the man.

“Erik, get in the car!” Sam yelled as Erik approached, “Kurt was forced to leave Anne alone at the restaurant.” Erik sprinted the last twenty feet and bounded through the open car door. Samantha wheeled the car onto the sidewalk. Honking at the few pedestrians to get out of her way, Samantha drove for half a block and then dropped onto a side street. Two fast turns and Sam smoothly merged into traffic.

“What about the cops?” Veronica said, looking back.

“Stop that,” Erik told her, “We’re driving a silver nondescript sedan. Hard to pick us out of all the cars that the Americans drive.”

“Careful Erik, your prejudices are showing,” Samantha chided him. “Now, what’s going on?”

“That accident was staged to delay us,” Erik answered, “I think I saw the person responsible. He was odd.”

“What do you mean odd?” Samantha asked.

“After we finish this morning’s adventures, I’ll need to sit down with you and the sorceress back there to yank the man out of my head. It’s hard for me to explain. Whoever he is, I’m not sure if he’s working for, with, or against Arem.”

“How the hell could they have set that up?” Veronica asked.

“We’re being watched,” Erik answered, a hint of anger and frustration in his voice.

“That’s impossible,” Veronica said,”I put up wards against the Dark Towers detecting our presence. We should’ve been essentially invisible to any that might have tailed you or Kurt last night.”

“Magic’s weak on this side of the gate,” Erik said, “Maybe your wards just aren’t strong enough in this environment. I know my own abilities are more limited.”

“If I used normal wards, that would be true,” Veronica said, “But that wasn’t how the wards I used work. Mine were designed to work by subtly shifting our auras to something the Dark Towers wouldn’t be able to see properly. Imagine if Dark Towers were colorblind. I shifted us to a color they can’t see clearly.”

“Then that means a local faction,” Erik said.

“Restaurant coming up on the right,” Samantha said, pointing at the building. “I haven’t heard from Kurt and I can’t park in front of the building.”

“Okay, just drop Veronica and me at the curb,” Erik said, “Veronica, we will approach quickly, as if we are late. Do not do anything that would unduly draw attention, but prep for a fight.”

“Don’t worry, Erik, I’ve got just the thing,” the small sorceress said, with a wicked grin spreading across her face.

“Follow my lead, and don’t do anything until I give you the signal,” Erik said.

“What’s the signal?” Veronica asked.

“Either gunfire or me dropping dead,” Erik said, “You can never tell.” Veronica’s smile became wary, as if she couldn’t tell if Erik was being serious.

Samantha paused the car just long enough for the pair to hit the sidewalk before she sped off in search of a parking spot. Erik strode up to the restaurant with Veronica struggling to keep up. The maitre d intercepted them as they stepped inside. Erik gave the man the name of the reservation and opened up his powers. The stench of Dark Towers filled the restaurant. Seeing Erik’s expression, the maitre d quickly led them to the table.

“Arem,” Erik growled as he stepped into the alcove’s entrance. Thankfully, Anne was still in her seat. The detective spun around to look at Erik. The woman radiated extreme frustration.

“Jaegar, you always have the most annoying timing,” Arem said, and then looked at Anne, “Detective, we’ll talk again.” Before Erik could draw his weapon, Arem slashed a line in the air and vanished.

Friday Quote – 12/20/13

20 Dec
December 20, 2013
Capitalism was doomed-not by its failures, as in Marxian analysis, but by its successes. For according to Schumpeter, capitalism alienated intellectuals, who were unhappy because they are not important players in a decentralized free-market system. Moreover, intellectuals do not like the profit motive that drives this system. But Schumpeter greatly exaggerated the long-run influence of intellectuals on public policy.

-Gary S. Becker, review of Joseph Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy.

Another book to add to the pile.

Metal Tuesday – Dragonforce – Give Me The Night

17 Dec
December 17, 2013

This is a quickie, because I’m sick. So, without further ado, Dragonforce’s “Give Me The Night.”

Friday Quote – 12/13/13

13 Dec
December 13, 2013

Sometimes the thoughts in my head get so bored they go out for a stroll through my mouth.

This is rarely a good thing.

Scott Westerfield, author

If you like steampunk, I highly recommend Scott’s Leviathan series.