Archive for October, 2009


Jackson’s This is it – No it Isn’t

With the release of the late Michael Jackson’s “This is It” movie I felt it was time to revisit a blog I wrote about a disturbing trend in American culture that continues with the release of the movie:

enabler– one that enables another to achieve an end ; especially : one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behavior (Definition from Merriam-Webster)

The publicity stemming around Michael Jackson’s memorial service today at the Staples Center forced me to acknowledge MJ’s fans enabling ways in my column today. Michael Jackson always left me bemused by his incredible talent, his strange behavior and his fans blind acceptance of all things Michael. And make no mistake about it but the adoring fans did enable Michael Jackson’s bizarre behavior. Their blind acceptance of Michael Jackson enabled his bizarre behavior and hastened his very death. Had the fans reacted early on in his career in repulsion to MJ’s bizarre self-mutilation with numerous plastic surgeries, germaphobic behavior, skin bleaching, his predilection for young boys perhaps Michael Jackson would have tempered his behavior and would not have been so deviant later on in his life. But if you are an enabler and accepting of bad behavior it is not surprising that the aberrant behavior often spirals into new and ever more grotesque and destructive gyrations.

To assume that enabling is a one way street is also wrong. Fans and sycophants, such as the Reverend Al Sharpton, took advantage of Michael Jackson’s foibles while seemingly championing his cause. In general, the enabler or codependent wants to feel needed and enabling validates their own existence or in some instances serves their own selfish goals such as a hefty contribution to one’s church. Moreover, enablers don’t want to change the dependent behavior nor do they want to participate in the exercise of self-sacrifice.

Fan’s often argue that Michael Jackson’s excesses were the idiosyncratic behavior of an eccentric musical genius as though being a genius exonerates you from acknowledging the norms of a society. I’m sorry, Einstein and Mozart were geniuses, Michael Jackson was just a very talented entertainer, perhaps the best of his generation but he was still just an entertainer. Okay, Einstein married his cousin and he did have that wild hair style yet he didn’t go off the deep-end but, in fact, Einstein became a great humanist in his later years long after his intellectual skills had peaked. Michael Jackson could have done the same, after all he had the following but instead he just sung deeper and deeper into his drug induced haze enabled by an adoring fan base that could see no wrong in their self-proclaimed king of pop. For one to suggest otherwise one would have to incur shrill, vituperative rebuttals from those very same adoring fan base.

But Michael Jackson is just the tip of the American enabling iceberg. Americans are engaging in enabling like they never had before. Obesity runs rampant as children and later the morbidly obese adults are enabled by numerous family members. When somebody weighs close to half a ton you know somebody is diligently shopping, buying and shoveling a never ending supply of food into the obese shut-ins mouth. It’s so easy to say to someone here eat this and watch television, it’s not your fault your overweight and then pass off the enabling as love! You can weigh in pounds their enabling love!

Moreover, American enabling has a far darker side than just Michael Jackson and obesity, just witness the drug cartel wars that plaque Mexico. What the hell does that have to do with enabling you may ask? Any fool can argue that the failed political and judicial systems of Mexico are the root cause of the drug violence but our drug habits and the ensuing money enable this corruption. Without the billions of American drug dollars you can’t buy a Mexican judge nor can you corrupt a local politician or police chief. Yet we smoke our pot as though there is no consequence to our seemingly benign but cool drug usage and go into instant denial when somebody has the temerity to suggest otherwise. In any case, a successful war on drugs is an impossibility when so many of our fellow Americans are collaborating with the enemy, enabling the enemy so to speak. (By the way, the libertarian in me says legalize the dope to take away the corrupting influence of the drug money while the social conscious part of me recognizes the vast pitfalls of what legalizing drugs will do to an addictive personality.)

The enabling and denials don’t end there. Our love of cheap oil, of course, enables all sorts of horrendous behavior in the Middle East. Without our oil dollars to fuel a building boom in Saudi Arabia Osama Bin Laden would never have the money to fund the Taliban and 9/11. Instead of selling the rope to hang ourselves, as the communists had hoped, we instead send oil dollars to fuel the terrorist engines. Why? Because we don’t want to, or have the willpower, to kick the SUV habit no matter how many polar caps we may melt in the process. Enablers have a tough time in making the hard decisions for themselves and the others they enable.

Furthermore, American dollars funding abhorrent terrorist behavior is nothing new for this country. For years Irish-Americans supported the activities of the IRA while Cuban Americans continue to funnel much needed dollars to Cuban relatives and into Castro’s failed regime. By golly, enabling is an American tradition just like apple pie!

I don’t expect this to change any time soon nor do I expect our greatest enablers, our brave politicians, to lead the way out of the land of enabling. So Michael Jackson rest in peace, you’re sad destiny was determined by your own neuroses and your enablers alike! What a depressing day and such a waste of a great talent but not surprising when your paramount interest is just to be entertained!

Erik John Bertel

I know this is tacky but speaking of enabling try these sites for the free Flores Girl novel download:
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Help Windows 7 Ate My Vista Twitter Laptop

Okay, from the title as you can guess this is going to be a cautionary tale, one you should perhaps heed. I should know better about being bleeding edge but last night I did something really, really stupid: I made the dreadful mistake of installing Windows 7 on perfectly good Compaq Vista laptop. It was so shiny and new I just had to take a peek and I had a perfectly good candidate to try the new release. Now I should tell you that I have two machines running Vista, that much maligned operating system that I have never had a serious problem with.

Wait, that can’t be right? Doesn’t Vista blow as per the Internet and popular media? No, if you threw enough memory I found it to be the best performing Windows to date (back off Mac boys) and I never experienced a BSD to date that I can recall on the almost two year old Quad processor desktop. Okay, the laptop had a couple of weird BSDs with the closing of its lid but those disappeared after an update and it too has also been running great.

Anyway I got my Windows 7 CD yesterday and for kicks and giggles I sacrificed my new HP Compaq CQ60-420 that ran Vista for the install. That wasn’t a critical production machine, I use it mostly for Word, Twitter and Bing searches,  so I didn’t give a second thought about the decision. After all, I knew I could lose everything on the laptop and still survive using my desktop. I popped it into the DVD drive and I answered three question and we off to the install. This was not a wipe and clean install but a true upgrade and I did have apps and data on the laptop. The upgrade took two and half hours with 3 reboots, no big deal and little interaction on my part other than waiting for a pot to boil. It started up after the third reboot and all looked well as I brought up a number of key applications including IE and Firefox. So far so good, right?

With my laptop I like to use a second external monitor and I noticed that I didn’t have two separate screens going and that the external monitor was just a mirror of the laptop. I had already created a scheme to support two monitors and I blithely right click the desktop to get to my scheme. Opps! New dialog box and worse none of my schemes made it through the upgrade. In fact Windows 7 had no clue what external monitor I had attached. Not a good sign since I had a very exotic Acer 22 inch LCD monitor attached (that’s a joke, there’s nothing exotic they are just cheap and work). Okay, I’ll tackle that in the morning after all how hard is it to create a new scheme.

Morning came and I booted the laptop up, signed in and went about having my crappy breakfast. I returned to the laptop and it was busily doing something and I was thinking that screwball indexing was it again. No problem, right click on the desktop and let’s create that new monitor scheme. Nothing. Tried again but more nothing. One more click and the desktop faded and a message was given about Windows Explorer having a heart attack. Not good!

Rebooted the computer and more of the same behavior. Yikes! My best guess it’s a video driver issue with the laptop. I went to the HP site and downloaded their Driver Robot. Whoa, not HP’s but some crapware or malware that is guaranteed to mess fubar your PC.  Be sure to go to the HP site and get the new drivers.  Let’s see if that addresses the issue.

So you ask why install Windows 7? It’s now and wow, shiny and new plus I’m in the business. I should add that I am not your average noob when it comes to computers. People who follow or stumble upon the blog know I am also a writer of a science fiction adventure trilogy called Flores Girl. Like most writers with the exception of Rollins and Stephen King, I support myself with a second paying job. In fact, for the past 20 years I have been a computer geek selling, marketing, developing and installing personal computers of the Windows persuasion to thousand of customers.

Besides my main source of income like most authors so I can afford shelter for my family I also wear a marketing hat for my novel. Publishers do less and less for authors and we novice authors really have to pickup the slack. Like most writers I have a novel web site, blog and I create the pages including the art work for everything. I ineffectively use a rendering program called Poser to create the Flores Girl Characters and I have created scenes from the next novel to be released with Sequel to Hell with Heroes. The Quad Core PC I mentioned earlier is my production machine and it does my rendering and runs my Photoshop.

The laptop is used as a portable computer to write the novel. It’s a HP Compaq CQ60-420, an inexpensive but not a cheap laptop. I got a deal for $349 and it replaces my 4 year old Compaq laptop that I used to write. That oldie still runs and is getting a second life with one of the kids so I had high hope for this laptop that is until I installed Windows 7 on it.

I’ll keep you updated with my ongoing travails regarding Windows 7. Hopefully, it’s just a video driver issue and not the beginning of some bizarre computer odyssey. My Ubuntu machine is looking good now and I can hear the Mac fan boys laughing right now!


10/28 – All is well in the world, just as I was ready to uninstall Windows 7 I did what I should have done right from the start and I went to the HP  site and install an updated video driver for Windows.  Its running fine now and I’ll give you some updates.

10/29 – Oops spoke too soon,  the Windows Explorer bug resurfaced and it continues to crash when it wants.  It runs fast, I just can’t get to the desktop.  Normally I don’t upgrade but stick with the original OS the computer came with which was easy to when XP had its 8 year run.  These are the pitfalls with an upgrade.   I know get a Mac!


Blogger Comes Clean to the FTC

Okay, I surrender, I give up! I admit to taking… wait a minute why am I feeling guilty?  Isn’t it amusing that the FTC is going after bloggers with $11,000 fines for testimonial advertisements and undisclosed freebies when you consider the sheer volume of misinformation and outright fraud that bombards the air waves of both radio and television never mind the Internet. Let us count the ways the FTC looks the other way when it comes to these numerous assaults to your common sense and wallet:

  • Self-help financial gurus and their craptacular seminars
  • Credit Reconstruction Services that put you into even bigger hole
  • Mortgage Refi Services by the same crooks that got us into this mess in the first place
  • Outright Ponzi schemes –  didn’t Bernie Madoff advertise his services?
  • Diet ads or supplements of more than dubious value
  • Baldness cures-  yikes!
  • Male Virility ads for supplements that are not Viagra or Levitra – enuf said buy the good stuff will you!
  • Exorbitant Shipping and handling charges on so called free merchandise
  • $19.95 doodads – just what the hell is a doodad?- that well, suck! Hey where did I put my Snuggy?
  • All sports drinks – hey people it’s mostly water with a disgusting taste and a nauseating color

Why does the FTC look the other way at these media charlatans  while its feels a pressing need to address unethical bloggers?  Because these crooks pay big ad dollars to the corporate media machine to peddle their crap but bloggers, well we kinda of live off the land!  Blogger are basically ma and pa shops with no big bucks and no special interests and hence no big campaign dollars to line the politicos pockets. Okay, I got my novel to sell and the bozo author owes me!  Anyway share with me your favorite worthless product or service that you see on the airwaves or is that cable?


Erik John Bertel

Get the Free Flores Girl e-Book at

Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot is an exciting speculative adventure story about the discovery of a new prehistoric people by two scientists, Sarah and Richard. Their discovery is threatened by both religious zealots and marauding industrialists. Download the e-Book in PDF, Mobi and Microsoft Reader formats. Honest it is free at Just click the chick!

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October 2009
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  • Exodus - The Final Chapter
    Sarah and Richard must fight their way off the island in this final installment of the podcast.
  • Your Hands are Stained with Blood.
    As death and chaos overtakes the island, Sarah and Richard try to escape Reggie.
  • An Unlikely Ally
    Reggie begins a reign of terror on the island that will leave nobody, including the Ebu, safe from his murderous schemes. Reggie's only challenge will be a visit from the biggest murderer in human history.
  • The Capture
    Sarah and Richard must make their escape after witnessing Reggie's brutal capture of the Ebu.
  • The Guardian Meets the Lab Rat
    Bill is presuaded by Reggie to meet with Karl.
  • The Guardian
    Karl's fever starts to takes a toll on his sanity as his efforts to contact the Ebu becomes a religious quest for him
  • New Friends
    Sarah's relationships with both Richard and Flo take a surprising turn.
  • Christian Soldier
    Reggies discovers the island of the Ebu and begins his assault but not before Karl makes his move.
  • The Cost of Weakness
    A senseless act of violence challenges Sarah and her tenuous relationships with the inhabitants of the island.
  • Weakness
    Sarah is stricken by a life threatening illness that triggers a strange personal odyssey for her.
  • The Princess Meets Flo
    While observing the troop, Sarah forms a friendship with one of the Ebu that she names Flo.
  • By the Sea
    Sarah makes a risky first contact with the Ebu.
  • 14. The Wait - Flores Girl: The Children God Forgot
    -In this episode: Sarah and Richard wait for the Ebu at a small pond.
  • Discovery
    Sarah and Richard begin their exploration of the island in search of the Ebu.
  • Resolve
    After losing everything to the pirates, Sarah and Richard face their own personal failure and decide whether or not they should return to the states.
  • Pirates of the Flores Sea
    As they begin to set out for Sarah's island, Sarah's and Richard's boat is boarded by dangerous high-sea pirates.
  • All Work and No Play
    Before leaving for Sarah's mysterious island Sarah and Richard head out for a night on the town in Flores.
  • The Boss
    Sarah and Richard put their expedition together and travel to Flores Island in search of the Ebu Gogo.
  • Higher Calling
    Unbeknownst to Reggie and Bill, Karl, the head lab assistant at GenTech, is busily sabotaging the pharmaceutical giant's controversial stem cell research.
  • Corporate Citizen
    Ruthless elements within a large pharmaceutical company make their own plans for the Ebu.