Quote of the day

“I feel for those guys,” said Mr. Elleman, who visited the factory repeatedly a decade ago while working on federal projects to curb weapon threats. “They don’t want to do bad things.”

- about the Ukrainian engineers suspected of supplying North Korea with its rocket technology, and thereby taking the world close to WWIII.

Story.



Charlottesville

I’ve been trying for more than twenty-four hours to come up with an adequate expression of my outrage at the events perpetrated by the nazis on the people of Charlottesville, Va. and all good Americans Friday and Saturday. There is so much wrong that starting in on one aspect seems to distort all the others. Evil has come out of its hell to mock us all.
Maybe it’s just ironic, but the most optimistic conversation I had about Charlottesville and what it represents came with a black friend who took the events almost in stride. It’s like chemo working on cancer, he said; the country has to suffer before the evil is completely beaten off. We’re sick, but eventually getting better. Without this struggle, without seeing evil and facing it directly, we can’t ever get to that better place.
I hope so. And if a person who was born in South Central L.A. can find a way to be hopeful, surely everyone should be. But at just this moment, the battle seems overwhelming to many.
This country was founded on brave ideals. Its greatness has come not because it achieved those ideals, but because it has striven toward them. We’re not there yet; some of us may never be.
But we fight on.
More on Dieppe . . .

The Rangers book is being reissued soon, which has given me the opportunity to correct some of the dumb mistakes that got past me the first time around. (Submarine rather than Supermarine? Ouch! And let's not get into the M1 fiasco! But as I always say, the only original thing I own are my mistakes.)

I appreciate people pointing out the mistakes, especially when they are polite and forgiving. But I've always been amazed at the sharp reactions to things that aren’t in the book. For some odd reason, (an admittedly tiny percentage of) readers seem to believe that a book focusing on the small contribution that Americans made to the battle denigrates the larger Canadian effort and sacrifice. And then there are the folks who think I said the newly formed Ranger unit was the equivalent of the British Commandos. (Eventually, yes, as one of the surviving commandos told me when I worked on the book. But at the time of Dieppe, they were still very much learning.)

I could view it as some people looking for a fight. But I prefer to think of it as another riff on one of the book's themes: History is always filtered by the framework we bring to it. That is, after all, one of the main themes of the book.

Many brave men died on that city beach, and many others were captured. Most were Canadian, who were mentoring part of the Ranger contingent. Three Americans died alongside them, and others were awarded medals for bravery. For the small but brave contingent of Americans involved, it was an important baptism in fire, the first American blood-letting in Europe. The lessons learned were applied immediately in Africa, then Sicily, Italy, and beyond.



Honoring the brave . . .





This is the 75th anniversary of Operation Jubilee, the assault on German-held Dieppe, France.

I’ve been honored with an invitation from the Canadian embassy and the mayor to attend ceremonies commemorating the bravery of the Canadian, British, and American troops who fought there.

I'm humbled to be able to add my prayers and thoughts to the memory of those brave men.


Say, what?

Here’s a lesson in critiques –

I’ve been working on a particular screenplay for a while now. Gave it to my film agent/manager, who came back with one note in particular: No one wants flashbacks.

Hmmmm….

Revised the script without flashbacks. Everyone is happy, until . . .

Feedback from (famous) director: Try doing this with flashbacks.

Just goes to show. . . .


Baseball . . .


One of the worst things about sports “reporting” is the manufactured hype around baseball’s trade deadlines. The endless and breathless speculation is bad enough, but giving the teams “grades” on them is idiotic.

I understand why commentators – I won’t call them reporters – do it. Fans and even team officials buying into it, though . . .

Speaking of winning and losing, one of the worst possible pseudo-statistics floating around these days are the “chances of making the playoffs” guesstimates. I’m a big believer in real statistics – with the caveat that they are not a substitute for actually watching the players and games, but rather a tool for enriching that process. But predictions based on what other teams have done in the past . . . this is baseball, not bingo.

All of which is to say - the Yankees' acquisitions at the July trading deadline will not give them the pennant, and their value won't be apparent for several years.

And I wouldn't have made the trades, but then nobody asked . . .


Syria shutdown

From an op ed:
Syria adds another chapter to the star-crossed history of CIA paramilitary action. These efforts begin with the worthy objective of giving presidents policy options short of all-out war. But they often end with an untidy mess, in which rebels feel they have been “seduced and abandoned” by the promise of U.S. support that disappears when the political winds change.

Article.


Most important point (low in the piece): you need a geo-political plan for the military component to make any sense. But we knew that, right?