Communion Of Dreams

Don’t lose your head.
June 30, 2009, 3:30 pm
Filed under: Bad Astronomy, Humor, Phil Plait, Science, YouTube

Via Phil Plait, a delightful illusion:

Just had to share that.

Jim Downey

(Yes, I am still frightfully busy. But in mostly good ways.)

Love it.
June 29, 2009, 11:34 am
Filed under: Comics

Ah, today’s Diesel Sweeties is perfect for my upcoming 51st.

Jim Downey

Closing in on a million.
June 27, 2009, 11:20 am
Filed under: 2nd Amendment, Ballistics, Science

Just under a month ago I wrote about launching the major upgrade to BBTI. Since then, we’ve had 217,390 hits to the site, bringing us to just shy of one million hits (986,999) as of midnight. Given how things have been going the last couple of days, I expect we’ll break a million today or tomorrow. [edited to add: we had over 21 thousand hits on 6/27, thereby crossing a million.]

And that’s kinda cool.

So, thanks to all who passed along word of our project. In particularly, our top ten referrers have been:


I find it interesting that the top referrer (by a long shot) isn’t even a firearms-related site.  That we’ve risen high in Google searches comes as very little surprise, and I’m pleased that the BBTI blog itself has such a prominent spot, just after five of the best known gun forums/blogs. That’s kinda cool, too.

Anyway, thought I would pass this bit of good news along.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to the BBTI blog.)

Is there something wrong with me . . .
June 26, 2009, 11:37 am
Filed under: Humor, Music

. . . that the news of the death of Michael Jackson has had this song playing in my head all morning?

Jim Downey

Oh, Al Gore uses it?? Sign me up!
June 24, 2009, 8:28 am
Filed under: Google, Humor, Marketing

Got this in my inbox this morning (happily, my spam filter caught it):

What is Mind Mapping

Mind Mapping is a great technique that will enhance your thinking skills and memory. A Mind Map uses key words, colours and images to stimulate your brain.

Your brain has the ability to learn and remember large amounts of information. It works by linking ideas together. When you think, your brain starts off from one idea and radiates outwards to other ideas. This radiant thinking ability is natural and automatic.

For your brain to function effectively, it must express itself in a radiant form that reflects its thought processes. In other words, to use your brain effectively, you have to think radiantly. A Mind Map, when drawn, radiates from a central idea and can be considered an expression of the radiant thinking brain.
This workshop will show you how to use Mind Mapping techniques to boost your productivity. It will give you the knowledge and techniques to be a more effective manager.


By the end of the workshop, you will be able to:

* Use your brain effectively
* Increase your concentration
* Achieve a higher level of creativity
* Get a clearer organisation of thoughts
* Enhance your memory
* Boost your productivity
* Use Mind Maps for presentations, report writing, project planning and more

Just for giggles, I Googled the “institute” behind this, and came up with this site, where I also found the following paragraph:

Mind Maps ~
Al Gore, the former US Vice President, is counted amongst those who use Mind Mapping guidelines to support them in their disciplines. The May/June 07 issue of Time Magazine, which features Al Gore on the cover, includes a feature article with a photograph of Al Gore with his project Mind Map in front of him. The article points out that he uses Mind Mapping to help him keep control of his thoughts and that he used Mind Mapping software when working on his recent book.

Wow – Al Gore uses it?? Man, sign me up for that! Who’s with me? All we have to do is send an email to (no, seriously, that is the domain name, though not the specific address . . . though it might as well be) and hand over our credit card information to these great people, and we will soon be enlightened . . .

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)

(It looks like) TEOTWAWKI.

In the 1970s I used to love to go high into the mountains of Colorado, looking for Ghost Towns. In fact, most of one whole summer during college me and a couple of buddies poked around in my old Scout II, using a well worn copy of Jeep Trails to Colorado Ghost Towns and a complete set of good topo maps for the state. We traveled slowly, camped, hitting a state park every few days to get a shower and stopping in towns long enough for food, beer, and more gas. It was an amazing summer.

So, you might say I have a thing for ghost towns.

I just love the melancholy nature of abandoned places. Fits my personality, I suppose. Somehow, I have always felt more “at home” in a place which seemed to be empty. Post war. Post pandemic. Post natural disaster. Post human.

Sorta explains Communion of Dreams, doesn’t it?

Anyway, this is just background explanation to say that I really enjoyed this post, which contains a lot of really great pictures:

Abandoned Places In The World

When starting on this post for some reason I was thinking that there are not many abandoned places in the world, at least the cities. I knew there are many villages, farms and just lonely houses all around the world but when thousands of people leave, leaving the whole city dead that’s a real tragedy. There are mainly two reasons why people suddenly or little by little leave the place where they used to live for years or even generations: that’s the danger and economic factors. The biggest number of abandoned villages and farms can be found in Unites States and the countries of the former USSR.

Visiting abandoned places is getting more and more popular these days and many tourist agencies offer special tours where people can meet the ghost cities and villages face to face. I have never been to any of these and frankly speaking I don’t want to. I thinks we should leave the ghosts in peace, especially in the places like Pripyat where the horrible tragedy took place.

Still hobbies differ and surfing online we can find photographer’s websites fully devoted to abandoned places like this one or Lost America photo stream.

Have fun. You know, in a melancholy sort of way.

Jim Downey

Via Mefi.

Hey, what are those funny characters?
June 21, 2009, 10:13 am
Filed under: Google, Humor, Marketing, Promotion, Travel, Writing stuff

This is a little weird – evidently, a Japanese site did some kind of mention/review of Communion of Dreams, and in the last couple of days I’ve had thousands of hits and about 200 downloads of the book because of it.

I say “evidently” because the site is in Japanese, and even The Mighty Google fails to give any real translation. Here’s the site:


And here’s the page from whence the traffic has come.  Odd thing is, while the “MP3” is clearly in the title, only about a quarter of the downloads have been the audio files, and the rest the .pdf of the book.

Anyway, if anyone can read Japanese and would like to let me know what the site says, I’d appreciate it.  Who knows, maybe I can wheedle a trip to Japan as a “famous American author” or something out of this.

Jim Downey

The best and the worst.
June 20, 2009, 1:52 pm
Filed under: Brave New World, Civil Rights, Government, Politics, Society, Violence

If you only follow the mainstream news outlets, there’s a fair chance that you have missed what is likely the biggest story this year – the current mass protests in Iran over the fraud of their recent election. From what I have seen and heard, it is being covered only in passing, and with absurd efforts to connect it to our own narrow political squabbles. But if you want to get a sense of what is really going on, I suggest poking around a bit – Andrew Sullivan is probably the best place to start. Though be warned, a lot of the material he is posting is pretty raw – meaning that it is bloody and violent, and much of it of indeterminate accuracy.

But given Iran’s history (both recent and over the long scope of human civilization) and critical position in a volatile part of the world, what is happening there now is incredibly important. And in many ways, it shows both the best and the worst of humanity – the twin aspects of a quest for freedom and a dedicated hold on power no matter the cost.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)

The 700 Club

By the numbers: this is the 700th post for this blog. We’ve had over 42,000 visitors, and almost 1000 comments. I have no idea how many people get a feed of the thing.

In the last 5 weeks, another 1,300 people have downloaded the novel, bringing the total to 15,500. I really need to figure out a way to sell copies of the damned thing, since interest continues to chug along.

Part of the bump up in downloads last month was no doubt due to the BBTI project. That has now had over 935,000 hits since the initial launch last Thanksgiving, and is up 165,000 since the ‘relaunch’ just three weeks ago. Wow – it seems like it has been longer than that. But then, I’ve been busy.

And I am going to be busier still – got started on the next round of books for a big institutional client yesterday. And I figure I have about 160 billable hours to do in the next three weeks or so. So forgive me if posting a bit sporadic for a little while.


Jim Downey

Hahahahahaha! *sniff* Hehehehehehehe!!
June 16, 2009, 1:47 pm
Filed under: Civil Rights, Failure, Government, Violence

Damn, this is funny:

First ‘anti-stab’ knife to go on sale in Britain

The first “anti-stab” knife is to go on sale in Britain, designed to work as normal in the kitchen but to be ineffective as a weapon.

The knife has a rounded edge instead of a point and will snag on clothing and skin to make it more difficult to stab someone.

It was invented by industrial designer John Cornock, who was inspired by a documentary in which doctors advocated banning traditional knives.

No, seriously, this is not a joke. Here’s a bit from the company’s website:

In May 2005, my wife Liz watched a BBC TV news feature regarding a report produced by three UK doctors calling for a ban on long pointed kitchen knives. The report, written by Mike Beckett, Emma Hern and Will Glazebrook, cited long kitchen knives as the ‘weapon of choice in a high proportion of serious stabbings.’ The research they carried out in to the justification of a potentially lethal sharp point, led him to one conclusion – a ban was needed on all long pointed kitchen knives.

I wouldn’t advocate a complete ban though their observations made perfect sense – remove the lethal weapons from our kitchen drawers and you will undoubtedly witness a drop in serious knife injuries. However, this raises a pivotal question; what else do we use? Introducing an outright ban would create an immediate knee-jerk reaction, therefore the solution must be more considered.

Being keen home cooks, Liz and I considered how many times we needed a long pointed knife when preparing and serving a meal. After much thought, we realized that in the home, we could see virtually no justification for this type of knife point. Liz then gave me a completely novel idea – why not design a knife point which can be used for everyday cooking but without the dangerous long sharp point?

Wow. I wonder if they’ll outlaw files and sharpening stones, too.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to UTI.)