Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Analog Science Fiction And Fact Database

Analog Science Fiction and Fact, at one time had a database, but in the course of events it dissolved into the void. Fortunately, Dave Baranyi has been keeping up the index on an Excel Spreadsheet. This is seventy (70) + years of data!

For several years, as an occasional project, I have been working on my own personal database of Science Fiction Stories. In the hopes of getting the Analog stories back on-line, sometime in the future, I have developed an Access database based on Dave's spreadsheet. This database is a prototype, there is still a lot of work to do, mainly getting the database moved over to MySQL (which I do not yet know) and learning PHP. So it will be a long time before this really becomes usable, in terms of the internet.

Below is the opening screen. This is not meant to be "pretty", since this is a prototype. The Analog cover to the left is meant to show that the cover art can be added when this gets closer to being completed. Some of the boxes that are currently visible will disappear in the final version (whenever it gets done) since they are only needed temporarily for programming purposes.

If any Analog subscribers would like a copy of the database leave me a message on the readers forum. (Click on the images to see them better.)

When you click on an authors name, all stories by that author in Analog are displayed.

Below is a screen image, from my existing book database, that cycles the cover art with the magazine issue.

Hopefully, the current Analog project can be expanded to include all magazines, especially those out of print. Sample below from my existing book database.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Inconvient Truths

A couple of cartoons on the abysmal state of our legal system and the ethics of our non-representing representatives. The first one: Dilbert, by Scott Adams.

The second one: Help Desk by Christopher Wright.

Click on the images or the links to see them better.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Internet Appreciation - Manuals and Spare Parts

Yes an anti-gripe. One of the unappreciated benefits of the internet is the ability to easily get manuals and spare parts. In the past few days I was able to download two manuals for some electronic gadgets where the paper manuals were eaten by the void. I also appreciated the ability to enlarge the text. The manuals, are now stored on my computer for easier retrieval.

Our lawnmower broke, a week ago. I was able to find the schematic at the company's website. I was able to easily select the parts to be ordered. The on-line ordering process went exceptionally well. The parts arrived today, and the lawn mower was fixed in 15 minutes!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Legalizing Theft - The New Capitalism III

Seems to be a rash of content related to "Capitalism: A Love Story" by Michael Moore. Steve Forbes, in the October 19, 2009, edition of Forbes had his own take, "Capitalism: A True Love Story". Steve's "Fact and Comment" is an excellent read. Positive points that he has made, which I have been harping on is that Capitalism is built on several fundamental principles. One is trust. Another is that both parties to a transaction walk away with a net benefit. While these are points that I can agree with, Steve continues to perpetuate the myth that the collapse of our financial system was caused by government regulation. Government regulation may have had a contributory relationship, but Steve overlooks the fact that it was the free-will of corporate leaders that created the bogus financial instruments and who also had the laws changed to allow them to work their "magic" with less regulatory oversight.

I have yet to hear of any regulation that "forces" someone to take a multimillion dollar bonus for issuing what has turned out to be almost worthless paper. A least Steve recognizes that "... a sizable portion of the assets created in recent years turned out to be "make believe," the result of an unsustainable, ephemeral bubble in housing and the churning out of increasingly exotic financial instruments. ... that created stuff ends up undermining the global financial system and battering the lives of hundreds of millions of other people. ... Even those individuals not normally hostile to free markets now hold suspicions that capitalism is fundamentally based on greed and is immoral ... "

Tom Toles, in the Washington Post published this cartoon, which is an excellent summary. (Click on the image to get a better picture.)

Monday, October 5, 2009

Legalizing Theft - The New Capitalism II

A confluence of events may have just occurred. Recently, by accident, I saw Michael Moore being interviewed by CNBC on his new movie "Capitalism: A Love Story". In that interview Michael noted that we have lost our moral compass when it comes to making money. Today, I ran across a New York Times article and video: "Profits for Buyout Firms as Company Debt Soared". This article concerns the buying and selling of the Simmons Bedding Company. With each buying and selling action, the private venture firms would increase the debt of Simmons and pay themselves. In that article, the Times is reporting that Simmons will be soon filing for bankruptcy protection. The Times notes that the employees and bondholders will lose but the private venture firm will be making a profit when this is all over.

What the Times is reporting is unfortunately not new, private equity firms have been buying companies and stripping them of there assets for many years. What is telling in this situation is that this article appeared just after the release of "Caplitalism: A Love Story". Now I don't know if the congruence of these two events is a coincidence or not, but they both further highlight that we have a corrupt form of Capitalism. How corrupt Capitalism has become was illustrated just over a year ago with the housing bubble and the use of Collateralized Debt Obligations that proved virtually worthless. We need to restore a moral balance to Capitalism. Furthermore, our corporate and elected leaders need to make decisions with the public interest in mind.

In summary, Rick A. in the reader comments section of the Times article remarked that:
"So in their supposed mission of making companies more efficient, and supposedly, more profitable, PE has actually succeeded in making companies grossly inefficient, and has destroyed lives, families and communities in the process, all while profiting from their shell games and paper-pushing. Then they avoid paying their fair share of taxes using lawyers, accountants and more shell games. All while our country sinks like a rock.

This is capitalism at its worst, and plainly indicates that business needs more regulation to do what's morally right, since the PE people have proven themselves to be morally bankrupt while they bankrupt the rest of us.

Ain't that America?"