Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Rag Blog: BOOKS / Speak English! by Mike Palecek

My company CWG Press is publishing Mike Palecek's latest novel. Here's a review from Joan Wile of The Rag Blog:

Sci-fi, conspiracy theories and politics merge:

Speak English! is a wild journey

By Joan Wile / The Rag Blog / October 10, 2009

[Speak English! by Mike Palecek. Trade paperback, 322 pp. Published by CWG Press; to be released November, 2009.]

Speak English, by Michael Palecek, speaks the truth, and in English.

Combination road story, sci-fi mystery, philosophical consideration, and political castigation of just about everything, Mr. Palecek's book is a must-read for all who seek justice, peace, accountability of elected officials, and penetration of the myths that cloud our political vista.

With unique and dazzling style, Mr. Palecek takes us with him on a cross-country book tour during which we encounter many of the gutsy anti-establishment heroes and heroines of our times.

This account is book-ended by an intriguing tale of country boys engaging with aliens and flying saucers.

The seeming disparity between the extra-terrestrial yarn and the contemplative trek across the United States is resolved, finally, in a surprising twist which leaves the reader awestruck yet satisfied.

...see the whole review at the following link:

The Rag Blog: BOOKS / Speak English! by Mike Palecek

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


This morning I'm learning how to add a feed into the World News Trust site. VERRRRY Interesting.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

World News Trust launches new site

For some time now I've been helping out at World News Trust. It's a great site for progressive news from around the world; it's well respected, well edited, thorough, and diverse. All in all a very good site and I'm proud to be associated with it.

Today, there's news. We've launched the new version! It's based on the latest version of Joomla, and it includes everything from the old site plus some new features. It's definitely worth a look.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Two Churches in one day

Lorraine and I took Mom to two celebrations of worship today. First we went to her church--well, our church, I guess--The Church of the Intercession, where we enjoyed a very nice Episcopal service led by Father Roger. Then, we got a ride to Northstar Community Church, just a few blocks from Mom's house, listened there to legless VietNam veteran Bob Wieland describing his ordeal as a blessing (and meaning it!), and finally enjoyed music and fellowship with some hot dogs and hamburgers (also at Northstar). It was a whirlwind of varied experiences, each one fun and inspiring in its own way.

The church was a big part of my life when I was growing up, but I don't get there often anymore. I think I'll try to change that. The Episcopal ceremony at Intercession woke old memories but at the same time made me think. Father Roger, in his sermon, said, "Shift Happens." Please note there is an F in there--that's a rather important difference from the saying that was popular a few years back. Our world, and our whole life, is constantly changing; we can marvel at how God makes things happen, and try to be a part of it, or we can sit back and complain about everything changing, fight the shift, and generally end up unhappy most of the time. He recommended the former... Later at that service we prayed for lots of different people, and one gentleman read the names of American soldiers who had died this week. I wanted to jump up and say, "What about the victims of the American soldiers, the people overseas who have been killed because we are fighting on their soil?" But I kept that thought to myself, although I did pray for them when the time came for us each to add our own silent prayers. I guess that means I shared the thought with God, at least, and now perhaps I'm sharing it with anyone who reads this far. I have very mixed feelings about patriotism, about governments and armies and countries. I used to condemn those who would fight for our country, thinking they were murderers; now I see that they are truly doing what they believe, just as I in opposing them am doing what I believe. And one of the things I so strongly believe is that everyone has the right to say what they feel and to be the person that they want to be, so I can't very well condemn them for having different beliefs. That doesn't make me feel any better about wars though. And when I see people being hurt simply because someone is trying to get more power or more money I still get very angry indeed.

Northstar is a lot more popular than Intercession. There were hundreds of people there, compared with about 20. The people are nice, too, and they truly reach out into the community to help those in need. The presentation from Bob Wieland was more like theater than a church service, but it was quite interesting and inspirational nonetheless. Wieland described how his platoon walked into an ambush, and people were screaming for help, and he had to decide whether to run away to safety or run toward his fellow soldiers and try to make a difference. Then suddenly he wasn't thinking a whole lot when he stepped on a mine big enough to take out everyone in a 30 yard radius. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, and even zipped into a body bag before someone noticed he was still alive somehow. Months later his goals were as simple as sitting up in bed--that one took days or maybe weeks to achieve. After a while they gave him some 5 pound weights and challenged him to lift them--and he swore he would not only lift those (that also took weeks) but that he would eventually set records in weightlifting. Years later he bench pressed over 500 pounds but they disqualified him from the competition because he didn't have legs. Then he learned how to walk using his hands, and one day he set off on a trip across the country. He thought it might take a year or so, but it turned out to be nearly four years before he made it to Washington D.C. from California. Pretty inspirational guy, to say the least.

The show, and the food, and the people, were great at Northstar. Since we had put all the money we had (a couple dollars in change) into the collection plate at Intercession, it was truly gratifying that someone we did not even know, sitting next to Mom and me at Northstar (Lorraine had to sit a few rows away due to the crowd), handed us some money so that we could in turn give it back to the church. Actually, I don't think she would have minded if we chose to keep it for ourselves, but I think she was very happy to see us put it in the collection plate. I noticed she had a peace sign on her purse; it happened that I wore my peace sign pin today, and that gave us something in common on a day that celebrated patriotism and the military more than it encouraged peace.

More nice people made a point of sitting near us at the long outside tables where we enjoyed our hamburgers. I may even have some computer business as a result, or at least I may be able to help some people with their computer related issues. I like doing that. Pastor Jay and his flock are a wonderful group of people, and if I'm not comfortable raising my hand to show that I've given my life to the Lord, or to show that I'm seeking His forgiveness, or whatever, it doesn't mean I don't respect them. Them meaning the people in the church, and the church itself, and God. I just have a little bit quieter and more personal way of showing it.

We walked back to Mom's house. I'd been worried that it might be too far for Mom, but I think she could easily have gone three or four times that far and I'd have probably been tired before she was. We watched a movie at her house before Lorraine and I returned home, where I promptly fell asleep for an hour.

All in all it was a great day, and I give thanks for it. I'm a bit surprised to be rambling on about religious stuff here, for the second post in a row. Don't get used to it, I'll probably write about something completely different next time. But these recent experiences have been quite wonderful.


Friday, June 12, 2009

A Special Birthday for my Mom

Yesterday was the 11th of June, 2009. It was a special day because it was my mother's 94th birthday. Lorraine (my wife) and I went over to Mom's house at about 1 pm and didn't come home till around 6. All three of us had a great time.

Lorraine had arranged a special 'birthday wish' for Mom:

For some years now, Mom has not been able to get to church on Sundays; people used to pick her up to take her there but some moved, some died, and Mom was in the hospital for awhile so that they just got out of the habit. Some very nice and well meaning Jehovah's witness ladies have been visiting her but she's always been Episcopalian and it's just not quite the same. So, Lorraine decided to arrange a special visit—a birthday wish.

She called the Church of the Intercession, where Mom had gone since she and Dad moved down here in the late '70s. The call was transferred to All Saints Episcopal Church, a somewhat bigger one up near the Intracoastal Waterway, and she spoke to Father Roger, who told her that the churches had merged and he was priest-in-charge for Intercession. He agreed to visit Mom at 2 pm on her birthday. Lorraine called several more times to make sure...

Lorraine and I showed up at Mom's and I started setting up the computer. Denise, a paid caregiver who helps Mom with meals, medicine, and companionship four days a week, had taken Mom to a restaurant to celebrate, and they were resting when we arrived. Lorraine urged Mom to get up, while I started setting up my laptop so that we could watch a movie. I was surprised to find a digital converter box next to Mom's TV; I started to set that up, too. Flipper started to bark, and Lorraine went to the door to discover that Father Roger had arrived a bit early. So I cleared a table for him and we sat down to talk.

This was the first time any of us had met Roger. He is a personable man who clearly cares about people. He had taken it upon himself to have an old friend of Mom's visit yesterday morning (Mom didn't remember to tell us about that until he reminded her) and has now agreed to do what he can to help her get to church at least some Sundays. He led us in a birthday service—when asked what special prayer might be offered Mom asked for World Peace—and he gave Holy Communion. It was the first time in many years for Lorraine and me to participate in a church service; we had joined a Lutheran church (Lorraine grew up in that faith) in the '80s when we had our farm in Felton, Pennsylvania, but had not been active in any church since that time although we'd go to services once in a while. It was quite a special moment for us all. I hope that Mom will be able to attend some services now, and perhaps Lorraine and I will join her upon occasion.

After Roger left, I set up the laptop and we watched Hello, Dolly. A month or two ago we had watched Brigadoon and there were a few too many memories of my Dad; it made Mom cry, missing him, even though it's been 25 years since he died. There were memories with Hello, Dolly, too, but I thought that these might be easier ones for her because I'd been there along with her and Dad. It turned out to be an excellent choice, as we sang along to most of the songs and reminisced about the three great performers we had seen in this classic. We were lucky to have seen Carol Channing, Mary Martin, and Pearl Bailey as Dolly in three productions during the '60s, and they were all superb yet each one was unique. For the movie, Barbra Streisand lent her own bit of magic, and the brief bit with Louis Armstrong was great fun.

We enjoyed some shrimp, a Greek salad, and most of all each other's company during the movie. It was a special day, and I am so grateful to Lorraine for 'arranging things' just like Dolly Levi. We rode home feeling that the 'birthday wish' had been a birthday present not just for Mom but for all of us.

Just before leaving to visit Mom, I'd gotten $25 from one of my consulting clients, that had been somewhat contested, so I had already gotten one present; the second and biggest was the whole visit with Mom and the service with Roger. When I arrived home and checked my e-mail I found the third: a new part-time job, 15 hours a week for now, starting Monday. I hope to make this opportunity work for a long time. It's not easy to live on Lorraine's SSI check and the occasional consulting job.

There was even a fourth gift—a book in the mail, called Push Comes to Shove, that is given away by its publishers, with the condition that the recipient will donate something, somewhere, and will pass the book on to someone else with the same restriction. I'll have to get reading that! And I plan to donate some computer work to Father Roger if he'll let me.

I share Mom's prayer for World Peace, and hope that anyone reading this will try just a little harder to help someone today. I know I will.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Check out Corbin Fowler's new site

I'm now hosting Corbin Fowler's FowlerMania site at CWG Services. Corbin wrote Searching for Truth, Justice, and the American Way which my company, CWG Press, published last year. It's an excellent collection of essays and letters that prove philosophy is not only alive but highly relevant. Check out his site at

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Has it only been a week? Ubuntu rocks.

Ubuntu doesn't feel like a radical departure from my normal way of working, anymore. It feels like home.

I had used Windows for ten years; I tried Ubuntu and a couple of other Linux distros, in dual-boot setups, but I never got the guts to switch, to make something that was not Windows my main operating system.

Until a week ago, that is. Why is it that I now spend time working with my computer, using my computer, being creative with my computer, letting myself do what I want to do without the constraints of what others have provided for me? It's because it's become fun again. I don't have to live with Windows any more and I have gained freedom rather than giving up functionality. It's fun to play with the computer now. It's fun again, and as a result I can do far more.

Has it been only a week? It feels like I've had this setup forever. It feels so normal.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Should Windows 7 be a free upgrade to all Vista Ultimate users? | TalkBack on ZDNet

Should Windows 7 be a free upgrade to all Vista Ultimate users? | TalkBack on ZDNet: "Windows 7 is Vista
My puters came with Vista Home Premium preinstalled. They worked pretty well, and I never jumped on the anti-Vista bandwagon. However, I've noticed that Microsoft likes to release things before they are ready, and then sell upgrades to a version that (mostly) works right. That's unethical. That's unacceptable. That's common practice in the world of software and I've worked for companies that did it.

I think the recent move by Microsoft to allow users to download and use the Windows 7 RC1 for a full ywar is a step in the right direction. However, I've taken the precaution of installing it in a virtual machine, running inside Ubuntu, which is now my operating system of choice. I have this vm with Windows 7 so that I can help clients who actually use Windows as their operating system of choice, or who use Internet Explorer as their browser of choice. Also there is still some website software out there that only works under Internet Explorer, so I need an environment where I can use it. I prefer the full-virtual-machine solution to using Wine because it provides a degree of separation from my native Linux software. There won't be any 'glitches' where Microsoft destroys the competition's environment, or at least the accidents are more likely"

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


I've switched to Ubuntu as my primary operating system on all my computers. An initial install is just about as easy as installing Windows; a seriously customized version like mine is a bit tricky at least until you get the hang of it. I have added a virtualbox that runs the Windows 7 release candidte, and that was surprisingly easy.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Feedback I posted about Windows 7 Beta

It now occurs to me that I should have posted every single bit of feedback I've given to Windows 7. There have probably been upwards of 20. Oh well. Here's the latest, sent to Microsoft today.

I posted the following feedback on the Windows 7 beta on 21 April 2009

I'm not sure if this is the right category--my feedback is actually for the backup system. Also, I'm not sure if you track feedback by computer, but I hope so because this is a followup to a problem I reported a couple of days ago.

Following a major problem (my own fault, too) with the main partition on my laptop (this computer), I ended up having to start practically from scratch. The only one of my 6 partitions that I kept more or less as is was the one for Windows 7, because that is the only one that was able to recover itself gracefully. There were issues with the libraries pointing to devices that no longer existed, and I did end up having to fix the startup more than once, but in the end it kept on truckin'. The preinstalled Vista was not recoverable, nor were Ubuntu or OpenSuse. But Windows 7 came back as is.

Even with this remarkable recovery, I would not be so happy today if I had not also been able to restore the data I had backed up from both Vista and Windows 7 into a newly created NTFS partition in the area where Vista used to reside. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I'll try to get Vista running again so that I won't be in too much of a mess when the beta test for 7 runs out, but in the meantime I'll just use 7 to get my work done. I had previously written to complain that the backup was not working at all once I had restored the system; I think that problem went away on the subsequent reboot, although that might have been one of the times I had to repair the startup files. That problem is the reason this rating is 6 instead of 7. However, once backup did work, I was very impressed to be able to pick files not only from my backups of Windows 7, but also from two installlations of Vista, the one that used to exist on this machine and the one on my desktop (Dell Dimension 8521 which btw was not able to run the Windows 7 beta--that's where I was going to put it first because I do most of my work on this laptop).

I still don't feel like Windows 7 is a new operating system; it still feels like a version of Vista that finally works right. Actually, there is a lot about Vista that works right already; I've been one of its champions rather than one who jumped on the bandwagon that was trying to send it to oblivion. But that is another issue entirely. The reason for this feedback, which I'm also posting on my blog, is that I am very impressed with the restore capabilities of the backup program and the overall resiliency of Windows 7.


Saturday, April 18, 2009

Feminist Review: No Innocent Bystanders: Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial

Feminist Review: No Innocent Bystanders: Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial: "I love it when a writer unapologetically calls out the things that you aren’t supposed to, the kid pointing out the emperor’s (lack of) new clothes. Mickey calls out the “hypocritical white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” of the United States and writes with a natural sarcastic humor that leads me to nod my head in recognition at the absurdity of the systems that prevail in “the land of the free.”

Mickey Z. questions the assumptions and causes blindly supported by the average American, quietly eating what the Government is feeding. He muses on dissent, advocacy for animals, the planet and our selves and challenges the symbols we assign to speak for us. He asks if we can be anti-war but pro-troops and parallels war to “the morally indefensible and scientifically fraudulent enterprise of animal experimentation.”

from a Review by Matsya Siosal

Note that it is my business venture CWG Press that published "No Innocent Bystanders" and I am proud to see the continuing great reviews. Check it out today!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Maybe I am finally 'getting it'

No, this post is not about sex.

What I'm getting is some sort of understanding of blogging. I had thought that keeping a blog going meant that I had to write something on a daily or at least weekly basis. But lately, just for fun, I've been using the Google toolbar to push content to my blog. When I come across something interesting on the Internet, instead of just emailing it to a selected group of friends or keeping it to myself, I add it to this blog. It certainly seems to fit into the theme of this blog, after all.

So, dear readers, if there are actually any of you out there, I think I'll be able to make it worth your while to visit this blog once in a while. Thanks again to Sydney J. Harris for the idea; I think he would have loved the capability to post things he found, right away and without too much work. Not that he would have been lazy about it, like me.

Now I'm going to play with the technology a bit more, and put a link here on twitter. I wonder if anyone will visit. [Inquiring minds want to know...]

Signals 19

Signals 19

There's a lot of fear in the country right now. Much of it makes sense. The future is uncertain. But some of the fear comes from the careless hyperbole of our news media. For example, on the night that I write this column (in late February), Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, called the current economic crisis "the worst ever."

Now I'm not sure if he skipped a phrase from the TelePrompTer—"the worst ever in our lifetimes" or "the worst ever in the past twenty years"—but whatever he meant, what he said is completely incorrect.

There have been a lot of "economic downturns" in American history. Until regulations were put into place during the New Deal of the 1930s, Americans lived on a continual boom-and-bust cycle.

The busts were catastrophic: bank closures—not dozens as we've been experiencing—but in the thousands. Entire fortunes disappearing overnight, currency becoming worthless, property losing all of its value.

Such things happened regularly. In the 19th century, the decade to own the title of the Great Depression was the 1870s. And let's not even discuss what happened economically to the American South as a result of losing the Civil War.

The problem with our media's coverage of this current crisis is not just caused by the occasional mistaken phrase. Part of the problem is a lack of education among journalists. If some day trader tells them it's the worst crisis ever, the modern journalist doesn't know how to check that fact (and, with the 24-hour news cycle, might not have time to do so).

The other part of the problem is that many of the people covering this crisis are under forty. Most of them don't remember the recession of the early 1980s, let alone the horrible economic conditions of the early 1970s. For a lot of the journalists and talking heads, this is the worst crisis ever.

Ooops. Missing a phrase there. The worst crisis ever in their lifetime.

It colors how they report the news. The way they report the news colors how we react to it.

[cwg: this is a well written and insighful article. I recommend it.] Signals 19

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Argument With a Mirror

Argument With a Mirror: "Argument With a Mirror
by Jeffrey Barnes

In this 'poem,' every exchange of dialogue is palindromic at the word level—they read the same backwards as forwards. The man arguing with his reverse image sometimes intrudes into the other's domain, risking nasty cuts and seven years bad luck.

'Reality is what is.'

'What is reality?'

'It is obvious.'

'Is it?'

'There are observable laws.'

'Observable? Are there?'

Chuck says, "This is fun."
"Is this?" says Chuck.

'Don't you see? I do.'

'I see you don't.'"

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Software, The Internet, and The One Man Show - Novelr - Making People Read

Software, The Internet, and The One Man Show - Novelr - Making People Read: "March 28, 2009 – 5:29 am

Panic Software ProductsBefore the Internet, software companies plied their wares through brick-and-mortar stores, in handy little diskette drives the size of folded pocket-handkerchiefs. It was a smaller industry, back then - Microsoft was still getting a start in IBM’s god-forsaken armpit, Apple had yet to discover the GUI, and almost everyone was working with a command line interface. It was also a simpler time. It wasn’t too hard for a well-placed, lone programmer to whip up some fancy app and pass it on - via diskettes, perhaps, with a healthy dose of door-to-door spit - and land himself a nice contract at some new-fangled, pre-bubble Valley startup. And that was, for a few years, enough to live by."

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Building a 1,000 mph car | Richard Nobles builds another car to set a world land speed record at over 1,000 mph | Machine Design

Building a 1,000 mph car | Richard Nobles builds another car to set a world land speed record at over 1,000 mph | Machine Design: "Building a 1,000 mph car

March 3, 2009

Stephen J. Mraz

Designing a car to go 1,000 mph is a constant lesson in compromise.
Printer-friendly version

Authored by:
Stephen J. Mraz
Senior Editor

When it comes to world land-speed records, few people are as experienced and successful as Richard Noble, a Scotsman who has been directly involved in two record-breaking cars, Thrust2 (633 mph) and Thrust SSC (763 mph or Mach 1.02, the current record). So it should come as no surprise that he’s right in the middle of a project to develop a new land-speed record-setting car, the Bloodhound. And he hopes the Bloodhound will make a quantum leap over the current record, taking it to over 1,000 mph."

Where to stick your digital camera (and how) | Digital Cameras |

Where to stick your digital camera (and how) | Digital Cameras |

Saturday, February 21, 2009

New Look for this Blog

If you have stopped by--an unusual event to say the least--you may notice that things have changed a bit around here.
  • For one thing, I tried to make it a little easier to see. Don't know what had possessed me to use a black background before!
  • For another, I decided to add a list over on the right, of the websites I've been building or modifying for various clients. Except where indicated otherwise, I built these from scratch, usually using my favorite content management system, Joomla! I didn't include my own sites here, just those for my customers. Please keep in mind that many design choices were made by the client, not by me!
  • I added a banner for you to click if you need webhosting. LunarPages is really good.
  • I added a few more blogs and sites in the respective lists.
Thanks for visiting.