Nuts in high places




Is it just my perception, or is being at least a little crazy a prerequisite for modern dictatorships?

Exhibit A: Foreign Policy's list of the ten craziest things ever said at the UN.
Iran, nukes, and sanctions


Sanctions have less than zero chance of stopping Iran's development and final testing of a nuclear weapon, which is probably less than a year away.

With perhaps one exception - if no one buys Iran's oil, its economy will collapse within three months.

If we're not talking about that, we're not serious about sanctions.

Draw your own conclusions
Rogue Warrior underground




. . . or at least on the subway.

The game will be available Dec. 1 in the States - but apparently earlier in Japan, and Australia. So if you're out that way . . .
Missile defense

It's interesting that in the fallout from the decision to shift the focus of the U.S.'s anti-ballistic missile system, no one has really commented on how it moves the Navy to the key position, not only now but in the future.

This may just be the start of a radical strategic makeover for the service. While the Air Force has led the way with UAVs (not necessarily willingly), the Navy has seemed, publicly at least, to be slightly behind the curve. The reality is that new technologies are rapidly increasing the reach and effectiveness of sea forces. When some of what is on the drawing boards reaches the ocean battlefront over the next few years, perception and reality should merge.
Preemptive strike



Because it's going to be that kind of week . . .
Seize the Day


So not to steal anyone's thunder or step on the marketing committee, which is doing its marketing thing, but the next Rogue Warrior is set in Cuba. Getting the story right involved the usual research and fun, legal and ... whatever it is I'm supposed to say that the lawyers said I'm supposed to say for doing things we're not supposed to have done, which of course we didn't do.

Which may have included visiting said country, which we didn't do, because if we did it, we wouldn't be allowed to, or say, even if we didn't do what were not going to do.

I hope that's clear.

Anyway, I got to smoke the cigars, cause Dick don't smoke.
The new Rogue Warrior: Seize the Day



The Spanish lessons paid off.
Injustice


It's bad enough that the hoi poli in the press box at Yankee Stadium get all sorts of eats at below diner prices; now comes word that they can get Oreo crumbles on their soft serve ice cream, while the plebes below have to make do with plain old sprinkles.

But at least you can now get cheese with your garlic fries. And they don't have garlic fries in the press box.
Humility and its time


It’s funny how the nation’s mood was at its most humble when its actual achievements were at their most extraordinary.

-David Brooks.


Column here.
Google, continued


To get around objections about Google having a monopoly on books, the company Friday made this "offer" or "promise" or whatever other word you want to use for something that completely misses the point:

He [Google's legal counsel] announced that for the out-of-print books (including orphan works) being made available through the Google Books settlement, we will let any book retailer sell access to those books. Google will host the digital books online, and retailers such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local bookstore will be able to sell access to users on any Internet-connected device they choose. Retailers can also pursue their own digitization efforts of out-of-print books in parallel.

So what's the problem? Well, there's the obvious one that Google has used illegal means to set itself up as a wholesaler - while generously allowing others to steal books as well. More insidiously if you're an author: just because a book is out of print does NOT meant that it is out of copyright. On the contrary. But Google wants to act as if it does, and the settlement basically says that's peachy keen fine okay.

Hey, the book's not in print, so we're going to take it and put it on sale and these are the terms, take it or leave it.

Think of it this way: I'm going away for a few weeks, and my house will be vacant. Can a real estate company move in and sell it without my permission?

Under the Google settlement precedent, they can.
The settlement


Earlier this week:

(From Publisher's Weekly, an industry trade magazine)

In testimony before the House Judiciary subcommittee this morning, Marybeth Peters, U.S. Register of Copyrights, in her first detailed comments on the subject, blasted the Google Book Search Settlement as “fundamentally at odds with the law.” In a blistering assessment of the deal, Peters told lawmakers that the settlement is in essence a compulsory license that would give Google the ability to engage in activities, such as text display and sale of downloads, that are “indisputable acts of copyright infringement.”

Most damaging, however, was Peters’s insistence that only Congress—not the courts—could enact such licenses, and her repeated assessments that the settlement deprived Congress of its role. “By permitting Google to engage in a wide array of new uses of most books in existence the settlement would alter the landscape of copyright law,” Peters said. “That is the role of Congress, not the courts.” She said that by allowing out-of-print works to be swept into the settlement, the deal “makes a mockery of Article I of the Constitution.” Only Congress, she stressed, after a full public debate, can set such new rules.

Excellent points - so why weren't they made, say, months ago, rather than almost a week after authors had to decide whether to opt into the agreement or not?

Google's digitization was a clear violation of copyright law - piracy, pure and simple. And the agreement negotiated by the Authors' Guild is a piss poor solution.

Unfortunately, unless you're in a position to sue Google, the only practical way for an author to even attempt to get Google to stop abusing your copyright is to opt in, and then tell them they have to obey the law. Which is kind of like having to get murdered to get someone to enforce traffic laws.

And you can't even object to the settlement, unless you're part of it.

For the record, I opted in, after long debate. But I still think it stinks.
First person, limited


I'm reading a book that's written in first-person, and it's really well written, etc., but I have a dilemma . . . the protagonist/narrator is in her early 20s, but her sensibility is clearly that of a woman in her fifties.

Which actually makes sense, since I happen to know that the writer is as well.

Should that ruin it for me?
Edit letters

Overheard at the far end of the bar...

Writer One (semi-angry, though that may have been because of the lousy drinks): You ever get an eighteen page edit letter?

Writer Two: There's an editor in New York who has time to write an eighteen page edit letter?
Nuclear duds . . .

There's a controversy raging in India following a statement by a scientist the the country's nuclear test in 1998 was a fizzle. The scientist was involved in the country's nuclear weapons program at the time.

The gist of what he claims is that the Indian government pushed up the tests because of intelligence that Pakistan was about to test its own device. There is ample circumstantial evidence that the test was not everything India wanted at the time, since the yield it announced was more than half the yield estimated in non-classified sources. But the official response has been that he's wrong.

The irony is that the Pakistanis also have had nuclear "fizzles," as the Indian press put it. The yield on their weapons has generally been below expectations.

But perhaps some perspective would be useful - the Indian explosion was measured by outside experts at 20 kilotons. That's in the neighborhood of the yield of the bombs the U.S. used in World War II.