Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Reagan Coefficient (apologies to Art Buchwald)

I met my friend Mitch Normey for lunch yesterday.
"You're looking remarkably tan, Mitch," I told him.
"Yes," he replied. "I'm going to be meeting with a delegation of tan voters today."
"I'm sure they will be impressed," I told him.
"You should have seen how impressed the little people I met with yesterday were. My knees are still sore from that," he said.
"Was Grover Norquist there?" I asked as the waiter brought my soup.
"Grover Norquist?" He asked with some befuddlement. "He's not a little person."
I was embarrassed. Not being sensitive to the all newfangled ways we have found to point out the differences between ourselves and others, I had momentarily forgotten that when politicians say 'little people' they are often referring to unusually short people. I had to cover..."Oh," I said thinking quickly, "I'm sorry. It's just that when you said your knees were sore, I just assumed that Grover Norquist...well, never mind."
"Its all right, old friend," Mitch reassured me, "its a common mistake."
I was relieved. Mitch has never been anything if not polite. I decided to quickly change the subject. "I've heard that your campaign contributions have tapered off."
"No, no, no, my friend," he said smiling as I bit into my sandwich, "you must have misunderstood. You see I intentionally decreased the amount of money my campaign takes in. I told all my biggest contributors to contribute less."
"Why would you do that?" I asked incredulously. "Doesn't your campaign need money?
Mitch gave me a broad and reassuring smile. "Oh yes, we need money very badly. In fact, my campaign is in deep, deep debt."
"Then why would you reduce the contributions you are receiving?" I asked as I finished off the last of my french fries.
"Its simple arithmetic, Bob. If you reduce your income, you also reduce your debt."
"I don't understand," I said, feeling very, very ignorant.
"Let me show you," Mitch said, writing a formula on a napkin to show me. It looked like this:
Money in - Money out=Net    
Net * -1/R = 2 * Money in"
"So lets say you make $500 a month," Mitch said, guessing very accurately, "that's your 'money in'. If you spend $600 per month, then your net is -100 every month. That's why my campaign is in debt. Now if you only look at the first formula it looks like the only way to get out of debt is to either get more money in or put less money out."
I was proud of myself for having followed his logic so far. "But then, if you're in debt, why would you purposely reduce your income?" I asked thinking it to be a very reasonable question.
"That's where the second formula comes in. See, if you multiply your net income by negative one divided by 'R', you always end up with a positive number equal to twice the amount of income you put in. So the the higher the negative number your net is, the more money in you're going to have."
He was starting to lose me, I pretended to be preoccupied with my coffee. I nodded and repeated back to him, hoping to look smart, "So you have to multiply your net income by negative 1 divided by 'R'."
"That's right, you multiply by the Reagan coefficient." 
"What is the Reagan coefficient?" I asked, starting to feel terribly outclassed.
"Oh, that would be very difficult to explain, its sort of in the same class of numbers as the square root of negative 1," he said leaning back in his chair. "You'll just have to trust me on this."
Mitch was a very successful businessman before he became a politician, so clearly he knew the secret to making money. It would have been foolish of me not to trust him.
I paid the bill and suggested he leave the tip. 
"Absolutely not!" He said, standing up to leave. "If I pay this waiter how will I have the money to hire another waiter? This waiter's just going to have to suffer a little if he expects me to create jobs."
His logic seemed unassailable, notwithstanding that fact that he didn't own a restaurant.
I tipped the waiter myself, because I don't create jobs. As I left the restaurant, I resolved to take care of my own debt too. I marched straight into my boss's office and said, "Boss, I want a pay cut!"
My wife will be so proud that I'm finally taking financial responsibility.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Take Me Into the Waves Print Version Available Now!

Helene Farber's "novel of short stories" TAKE ME INTO THE WAVES is (finally) available in print.

Excellently reviewed on Amazon, TAKE ME INTO THE WAVES is a bittersweet journey of a contemporary woman, with whom both men and women will readily identify as she vacillates from strength to confusion to weakness and to redemption. Farber imbues her words with dark and occasionally cold humor as her characters navigate through their relationships in a universe that ultimately follows no one's rules.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Kirkus Review of Human

HUMAN (reviewed on May 1, 2012)

First-time novelist Berke examines the tenuous relationship between the mental and the corporeal in a tale of political tug-of-war between the secret operatives of two world superpowers.

Elijah Smith, the founder of the scientific company SmithCorp, appears to have crested in old age and begun his descent into death. With the help of the precocious but scarred Dr. Bayron and Hermelinda—Smith’s nurse and lover—death isn’t the only option for Smith. Using materials imported from a Russian researcher who attempted to recreate the mind of a deceased government agent, Bayron sets out to reconstruct a digital model of Smith’s brain that effectively preserves his consciousness in a “prosthetic mind.” Though the experiment accomplishes its goal, both Smith and Bayron soon discover the dangerous knowledge contained in Smith’s hybrid mind: The Russian operative, whose memories Smith inherited, was one of three individuals who knew a code necessary to unlock an extensive nuclear warhead arsenal. What follows is a rollicking traipse through espionage stings, gunfights, and meetings between friends and enemies as two covert units, one American and one Russian, go to great lengths to protect their national—and, as it turns out, personal—interests. Despite the violence and manpower, however, it is the disembodied Smith who plays the biggest role, in a way that makes a strong claim about the potential drawbacks of immortality in a world where “once you are quantifiable, you aren’t human anymore.” Berke’s prose alternates between straightforwardness and meditation; in spite of its clockworklike plot, the novel manages to speak directly to the philosophical, theological, and biological paradoxes inherent in the idea of a human living past physical death. By the end of the novel, it’s clear that, at least for Smith, being human is not merely a matter of chemical processes, but a matter of doing the right thing.

A rough-and-tumble combination of science fiction, crime and romance that ultimately succeeds in salvaging the best from each genre to comment meaningfully on the perplexing—and often uncertain—nature of human identity.

Pub Date: Dec. 18th, 2011
ISBN: 978-0984950706
Page count: 346pp
Publisher: MultiModoMedia
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online: April 12th, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2012

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Helene Farber's Take Me Into the Waves

For release: March 15, 2012

MultiModoMedia Press has published its second trade paperback, Take Me Into the Waves, by Helene Farber to spectacular reviews: 

Available now for Kindle, Nook, and other e-readers

5.0 out of 5 stars InsightMarch 16, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Take Me Into the Waves (Kindle Edition)
I found some of the stories reflect insight into the expectation of everyday life and the resulting disappointment reality metes out to us all.

5.0 out of 5 stars You're So VainMarch 15, 2012
This review is from: Take Me Into the Waves (Kindle Edition)
A powerful voice that demands to be heard. At times heart breaking then funny then insightful. I couldn't help recognize some of my own foibles and felt a bit sheepish. A must read confessional by a brillant new writer.

5.0 out of 5 stars an original voiceMarch 14, 2012
Avi Stachenfeld (Berkeley, California USA) - See all my reviews
Amazon Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Take Me Into the Waves (Kindle Edition)
Ms farber... a penetrating eye, an original voice... insightful, passionate, and always empathic... i am looking forward to more from her mind and pen!!!

5.0 out of 5 stars Great discovery!March 14, 2012
This review is from: Take Me Into the Waves (Kindle Edition)
I loved this book---kept me hooked to the very end. Finally, characters with depth---human frailties and relationships full of sexuality and love that repels and attracts. Compelling stories that psychologically draw you in and don't let you go. The writer is able to give a voice to people and their world that you want to be part of and feel what they feel even if it is scary and passionate.
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Awesome review of "Human"

"Robert, I'm about half way through "Human". I really, really like it. F*** those hacks like Tom Clancey or Stephen King. You just might be the next superstar author if there's anyone in the publshing world with a fraction of a brain. It's a page turner as well as dealing with some very deep themes (the God paradox for instance got me into a state of troubled contemplation for days). Way to go! Pete"

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Really a great blog post by Chuck Wendig

Felt terribly obligated to repost the link to this superb and entertaining post by Chuck Wendig.
When I first announced that I completed my novel, a lot of people asked, how did you do it, how did you find the time, etc.
As Chuck Wendig advises, I just sat down and wrote. I wrote a lot on the bus. I wrote a lot late at night when I should have been sleeping, I wrote while I was waiting for my wife to finish putting on her makeup.
There is no magic to moving from aspiring writer to writer: just write.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A "Taste" of Artist, slated for May 30, 2012 release

My second novel, Artist, has a tentative release date of May 30, 2012, which means it probably won't be available until November. Here's a snippet, just for fun: 
        If one could, for even a moment, ignore the fact that the dinner guests were corpses and the main course was a plate of severed human hands, then it would have appeared as if they had crashed a perfectly pleasant dinner party. The dead diners were all neatly dressed and well-groomed.  There was no rot and barely a smell of death at all.  In fact, Cos wondered if he were just imagining the smell of death. The corpses looked relatively fresh.
          “I don’t know, Frankie,” Cos said, “but if I had to guess, I’d say that three hours ago all these people were still alive and those hands were still raw. I got a ten spot says forensics confirms that.”

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Opening the Box to the Community

Independent authors are a rising force within the publishing industry. Having recently joined those ranks, I confess to being very pleasantly surprised how supportive the community of independent authors is. Accordingly, I will be beginning a blog roll on the right side of this page and I will be creating a link at the top for self-publishers to promote their full-length works. I am also making the main page available to independent authors to publish short stories or opinion pieces. I'll make some rules for self-promotion on the main page and I will follow them myself.

Friday, January 27, 2012


    President Obama has clearly been listening. If you watched his recent State of the Union Address you would have noticed that he has incorporated many of my key points into his agenda for the coming years. I will leave this site up as proof that our President still hears progressive voices and as evidence that our agendas now appear to overlap in every respect but one. The one disagreement we have is that unlike President Obama, I would continue to push for single-payer health care instead of the sloppy compromise currently in place. Perhaps we can continue to urge him to make this a priority.
    Nonetheless, at this time, I perceive my continued candidacy to be redundant.
    To all of those who supported me and helped me spread my ideas, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Though my campaign is likely at an end, it has clearly ended in victory. 
    I feel we can all take comfort in the knowledge that everything we believe in and everything we were fighting for will make it into the national debate with our President, Barack Obama, recommitted to our ideals and bravely leading us into the future.
    I am giving my full support to President Obama in his reelection campaign.

Robert G. Berke

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Unlimited Energy Sci-FI

I am contemplating a new book to start where "Human" leaves off, after I finish "Artist" (which is unrelated to Human). In the new book, I will have Dr. Bayron stumble upon a mechanism for creating unlimited, unexhaustable energy. His discovery will put the power companies, the oil companies, the coal mining industry, and many others out of business. Furthermore, the discovery will make possible all kinds of new technologies from light sabers to insterstellar travel literally overnight.

I think a great action/suspense story can be built around the efforts of any number of groups to prevent the technology getting out. I also think there would be tremendous food for thought in the implications of such an energy source.

I am sharing this idea here now because a lot of people came to me with wonderful thoughts about Human after it was completed and too late to incorporate some of those ideas. I figured, I would do an experiment with crowdsourcing, by publishing my idea long before I can take pen to paper on it and getting the feed back first.

Please share your thoughts with me in the comments section or wherever.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Grateful Dead Business Model

The Grateful Dead. Their imagery and the passion of their fans has never diminished in the years since they first started performing. In these two books, some very brilliant and educated guys have studied the phenomenon of the Dead and in doing so have uncovered some extremely powerful business methods that can--in fact SHOULD-- be replicated by every business. The Deadheads are not mere loyal consumers, they are active partners in the band's success. Can you say the same about your customers?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FREE E-Book! (aka is pleased to announce the pre-release of the new novel, Human, by Robert G. Berke.

Mr. Berke is a frequent contributor to this blog. Though he has been a prolific writer of short stories and articles, Human is his first full length novel. The novel is 330 pages long (approximately 96,000 words).

Human tells the story of Elijah Smith, a wealthy entrepreneur who is beset by an unnamed disease which has been slowly eating away at his nervous system. In an effort to preserve his life notwithstanding the inevitable death of his body, Smith recruits a brilliant neurosurgeon to lead a team in creating a detailed virtualization of every part of his brain.

The project is successful, but it quickly proves to have had an unforeseen consequence as Smith--or at least the virtual Smith--discovers that he now possesses some very powerful and very dangerous information. When Smith reveals this information to his friend he sets a string of events in motion which immediately imperils all of his friends and family, and possibly millions of other people.

Through powerful storytelling, Berke confronts the question of what it actually means to be human and whether an individual's humanity is necessarily trapped within a corporeal body or whether it can be extracted and installed like software onto a technological platform.

Ultimately, the fate of the world depends on the answer to the question, "is Smith still human?"

"This is a book you will find yourself discussing long after you have put it down."

The author's publisher, MultiModoMedia Press, has authorized us to give away 10 copies of the electronic version of the book in either Kindle, I-Pad (I-Books), or Nook format to any reader of this blog who will agree to read it and submit a review.

For details on this give-away, send an inquiry to:

We have also been asked to spread the word that multimodomedia press is seeking submissions according to its submission guidelines.