First review!

The first review for How the World Ends.

“If you enjoy reading books that make you ponder for days later–why are we here, what does it mean to have a soul, what is our purpose in life, why does anything matter–then you will probably enjoy the journey this book takes you on.”


If you love it, give it away.

Cover art for How the World Ends

I have taken the plunge in the Kindle Select program that Amazon is using to promote readership for independent authors. This means my first novel, how the world ends, is available in the US Lending Library, and to Amazon Prime members. Instead of getting paid the full price, the author (me) will now get a royalty when the book is consumed in this way.

Also, it allows the author to promote the title for free for up to five days.

Therefore, as of February 24th (my birthday), how the world ends is free in the Kindle Store until the 29th.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.


Joel Varty

Technology and Patents: It’s like asking if the murderer was guilty

iPhone 4SGalaxy Nexus - Android Phone

From Ars Technica: If Android is a “stolen product,” then so was the iPhone

Unfortunately, in the last 20 years, the courts have made it much easier to acquire software patents. Apple now has more powerful legal weapons at its disposal this time around, as do its competitors. Together, there’s a real danger that the smartphone wars will end by stifling competition.

It’s my opinion that these arguments are pretty much moot at this point. It’s like asking if the murderer was guilty or not, when the verdict itself is only very slim veil over the truth: you don’t need to prove guilt or innocence, you only need to prove or disprove reasonable doubt. How the heck do us folks keep forgetting that? Do you think there will be any sweeping changes in our western justice systems that will cause us to change to a guilt based system instead of a doubt based system? No.

Back to patents, and whether the iPhone or Android were stolen. The only comment can EVER be is that the truth doesn’t matter, only the patents matter.  Actually, that’s not true either, to a certain extent, because before the patent litigation goes through, all of the conjecture and press around the products in question can cause a huge swing in the markets that control these things anyway.

Take an even closer look at the iPhone/Android debate and you get into a very murky situation.

Jobs called Android a “stolen product,” but theft can be a tricky concept when talking about innovation. The iPhone didn’t emerge fully formed from Jobs’s head. Rather, it represented the culmination of incremental innovation over decades—much of which occurred outside of Cupertino.

Really, when you get right down to it, we are arguing about why Steve Jobs was angry. Ironically enough, Google CEO Eric Schmidt used to sit on Apple’s board of directors, ostensibly during the development of Android itself, and Google was a prominent presence at the unveiling of the first iPhone in early 2007.

So why was Jobs so pissed at Google about Android?

I have reasonable doubt that it wasn’t as much a personal feeling of abandonment and betrayal. The stealing was secondary.

more later – joel


Colt 45

There really isn’t anything very subtle about a Colt 45.

It’s a hell of a weapon, and it has a single purpose; to think about it any differently would be foolish, at best.

It’s a weapon that demands respect.

In the hands of Jud Fry, it ought to put the fear of God into a man.

But is Curly afraid of it? Does he flinch when Jud flashes that six shooter across his face? Does he cower like a dog when Jud fires that thing off? Maybe. He might even show it, a little, if you watch him real close. But are you watching Curly then? Or are you fixated on the face of the man who’s battling all his nerve just to keep it together with his nemesis in his house?

Isn’t it just a couple of fellas making noises to satisfy their oversized egos? Or are they daring each other to do what the other one hasn’t done yet?

As you might have guessed we rehearsed the smokehouse scene last night. Possibly the strangest scene I have ever encountered in any story. It was both exhilarating and exhausting. Steve and I had already been throwing punches at each other in the afternoon (more on that next week…) and we were set for a bit of a standoff, so to speak. We said our piece to each other, and then the guns came out. All I can say, is that it’s a good thing Steve and I are such good friends, cause he’s a hell of an enemy on stage.

Why is it that the American persona has been so obsessed with the wild west for the past hundred years? Can it possibly be that we’ve never been able to get past that little bit of madness, that dark, pre-historic instinct to over-power something with brute force? We might veil it in rhetoric, or hide behind our civilized mannerisms, but is it ever really gone?

And when we turn to that darkness, can you tell when it happened? Was it when the fear gave way to anger? Can you tell when we came back from the edge? Or when we leapt from it with no abandon?

As Curly, I ask, what else would have me do? But I wonder if you’ll be able to answer.

‘Cause you’ll just be staring at the gun, wide-eyed, wondering if it’ll be the end of one of those men.

It demands respect, but it never earns it.

Only with great and subtle power can the force of that weapon be leashed and held in check.

Where will you be watching?

Act 2, Scene 1

The thing about Oklahoma is the scenes are ridiculously long, and are actually comprised, usually, of several scenes. So Act 2, Scene 1, is actually between 3 and 5 scenes, depending on how you split it up. The fact that we pretty much got through this in it’s entirety yesterday is pretty good. There’s a ton of dancin’, spinnin’, chuggin’, and fightin’ going on, as well as some wheelin’ and dealin’ in the auction.
Steve and I had a chance to do a stare-down during the bidding as Jud and Curly and I think it’ll be tense as all get out when everything settles down a bit. There was certainly a lot of energy hurtling around the room. I think most of us had spinny eyes by the time we were finished.
It brings to mind a few thoughts that I’d like to have out there in the wide world – some stuff that I’ve been thinking about that I find useful when thinking about my own behaviour onstage and off.

Kill the ego

If you think you haven’t got an ego problem, look at all the people who you think do have a problem, and think about how better much than them you are, because you don’t have an ego. Good. Now you’ve got an ego problem, just like me and everyone else. Give yourself a kick in the rumplestiltskin and get back to work.

Get outta’ yer comfort zone

If it’s easy, if you don’t even have to try, than how can you ever grow? You put in what you get out, and killing your ego and getting out of the comfort zone is the first steps, I think, on the path.

Don’t forgit which direction yer looking from

This is my worst bad habit. You think you have a better view than the director? You think you have the right to tell another actor how to do their job? Do you have the capability of being in 2 places at once? Nope. I didn’t think so. Learn your lines and your steps and get your entrances and exits, and sing the right notes in the right rhythm, and you’re almost getting starting on taking care of yourself. It’s a big step from their to make it into a performance, a work of art, you know? And that’s just you, looking after yourself. Leave it at that, and I figure you’ll be a lot happier about the effort everyone is putting in.

The truth is the truth

Until you’ve heard and understood a truth that wasn’t the version of the truth that you wanted to hear, you don’t know what truth is. And if you think you know that, maybe you don’t. Maybe the truth is part of that whole journey versus destination thing? Isn’t it more fun when you’re going somewhere, than being at a dead-end? Even if you’re where you wanted to be, it’s a dead end if you don’t have anywhere else to go.

I’ve got a few more, but the train’s just about at the station, and I’ve got to see a man about a horse.
More later – joel

The Path


Stand at the bottom of the stairs, look down the hallway, through the doorway.
Walk that way and get outside.

Sidewalk Perspective

Stand on the sidewalk and choose a direction. Left or right. Cross the street or stay on this side. Don’t step in the shit and vomit.
Ignore the smell, if you can.

Village road
Walk a long, long way. When the sidewalks disappear, and the road is just road. The gravel crunches. How far can you go? The choices grow at the crossroads, and one of them is giving up.
Another choice is not staying on the road.

Harvest is Coming
Into some fields now, filled with last year’s corn stalks, or maybe just coming up with wheat. You’re alive and it’s quiet. Stop for a minute and just breathe. Can you feel it? The fields roll on an on, if you want, and you can maybe forget that there was ever a direction, or a place you wanted to get to.
But the fields always come to end sometime.

Dark forest
The forest looms, sometimes with darkness, sometimes with sunbeams, or both. You can wander the pathways, you can meander, or you can become afraid, and run. It always get’s harder when you run. It becomes a jungle. You take out some sort of tool and hack away at the vegetation, but it might not be enough, so you never know if it’s the right move, not until later. If you live.
But the forest doesn’t last either.

endless desert
The desert. You’ve made it. The destination with no pathways in or out of it, only to passing of the heavens above. The sun whose light you either cling to or scurry away from. The moon whose coming you either celebrate, or ignore, at your peril. The stars. Whose significance I can’t guess at, except to follow.
In the dream, when I walk the path, it always ends in the desert, from whence there is no escape.
open doorway
But I keep going out the door anyways.
Just to see.

UPDATED – A Response from my father:

A path takes me between the hill and the water, along the sediment.
I dig there, looking for the line from the old folk song.
Under my feet crack the empty exoskeletons buried there, layered under the molecules that sifted in, like dust through a stone wall.
The soil is soft there, held together by strands of something ripe and dry, once illuminated above  the rocks buried in the field on the hill.
Tiny things take root in front of me beckoning for attention.
My travel is a slow thing.
I have to caress these things for they need attention and care.
A sweet breeze takes me up through cedars to the oak and alder and others of smooth bark and thorn.
Through a frame of vine and limb the water bathes the air above it, buoyant in the sky.