China vs. Vietnam

We were working on the new Red Dragon the other day, and I happened to come across a series of videos on the 1979 War between Vietnam and China. That war forms part of the historical basis for the series.

These are from the Vietnamese side, and celebrate David vs. Goliath nature of the conflict. Some of the images are intense.
Red Dragon #2

The second installment in the Red Dragon Rising series will be out this November. The cover image is a bit of a different look for Tor/Forge, which I like. (Not that they asked before releasing it to the world, of course . . .)

In the series, rapid climate change has created a desperate situation for the Chinese, who attempt to solve some of their problems by invading Vietnam. The U.S. president realizes that if they're not stopped, Chinese aggression will lead to a new world war. But the congress and the rest of the country are adamantly opposed to any U.S. involvement....

You can pre-order the book here or here or here. (The last link is to my local bookstore, Merritt Bookstore in Millbrook.)
More on Intel's taxes . . .

And for the record (see the next post below) - yes, the U.S. has a high maximum (aka marginal) corporate tax rate. The thing is, once you actually look at the rules for figuring that tax and calculate things like depreciation and other legitimate deductions, the effective tax rate is right in the middle of the pack for modern industrial countries.

But I guess that's the point. The CEO of Intel wants to make the U.S. a third world country.

Taxes? Intel pays taxes?

Intel CEO Paul Otellini has been getting quite a lot of press lately complaining about the outrageous U.S. corporate tax rates (which have been the same since Intel was making the 386 chip).

Guess he missed this story in Bloomberg last year - or rather, hopes the rest of us did . . .

Red Cell

So now the CIA is using the term? Without the Rogue Warrior's permission?

Heads are gonna roll!

Or maybe we'll just thank 'em for the plug.

(Item: CIA Red Cell Memorandum on Wikileaks. Check it out here.)
The way a book ought to be written . . .

From the acknowledgements to My Three Years with Eisenhower, by Harry Butcher:

Possibly not a single entry was made in the diary without the aid of one or more cigars. These came from a variety of courses including friends at home, such as . . . .

Of course, Butcher goes on to say that he smoked Burns Panatelas, but maybe they were better back then.
Ripley or not

I somehow missed Ripley Underwater when I went on a Patricia Highsmith jag a few years ago.

God, she's good. Only woman I know who can get you rooting for a serial killer.

And no, I'm reading it in English . . .
Pakistan and the Taliban

“We picked up Baradar and the others because they were trying to make a deal without us,” said a Pakistani security official, who, like numerous people interviewed about the operation, spoke anonymously because of the delicacy of relations between Pakistan, Afghanistan and the United States. “We protect the Taliban. They are dependent on us. We are not going to allow them to make a deal with Karzai and the Indians.”

Full story.

The U.S. version of the V-1, aka "The Loon."

Iran's Ambassador of Death

Ahmadinjad in front of Iran's alleged long-range unmanned bomber.

Admittedly, it's tough to take them seriously sometimes.

(Story here, in Al Jazeera.)

How writers waste time . . .

A friend of mine is on deadline:

Me: How's it going?

Him: I spent this morning reading the blog of an anti-government post-smoking reformed Democrat racist with a serious rape complex who's raising his three-year-old adopted daughter with the help of two girlfriends, one of whom is a closet lesbian.

Me: Productive day.

Him: One of the best.
Sleep writing . . .

Dream last night: Editor calls me up and starts giving me notes about one of my books... except that the characters he's talking about aren't familiar... nor is the plot... which isn't necessarily unusual (I often forget what the hell I'm doing after I've done it)... ... but the notes are tight ... I understand exactly what to do... I'm raring to go ... then I wake up and it's a book I haven't written; it only exists in the dream.

Bummer. It seemed like a pretty good book.

Kinda makes me want to go back to sleep and get to work.
Sooner, not later . . .

Story in tomorrow's New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration, citing evidence of continued troubles inside Iran's nuclear program, has persuaded Israel that it would take roughly a year — and perhaps longer — for Iran to complete what one senior official called a “dash” for a nuclear weapon, according to American officials.

Uh, and after that?

The Times' take is that this makes it less likely the Israelis will attack. I'm not quite connecting the dots here. The idea is to attack before, not after. No?*

Story here.

* Yeah, yeah, I know - "outside agencies" have been messing with the program, doing everything from assassinating scientists to delivering crap equipment. But sooner or later . . .
Don't cry for me, American Express

Canceled my Amex account today, not because of the fee - though that wasn't a plus - but because they kept sending the bill less than a week before it was due.

Which just pissed me off.

Is it only me, or does the fact that both sides in the movie are using post-WW II American tanks* make that movie completely unwatchable?

*M47s and M48s - Pattons, actually. Which is guess is kind of ironic in itself.
No sitting between acts . . .

. . . er, At bats -

They've instituted something new at Yankee Stadium this homestand - little signs for the security guards asking people not to go down the aisle during an at-bat. Grace was in her glory up on level 200. I thought I was at a play.

It's just another part of the Tourist-if-i-cation of the Stadium, which at least during the summer hosts a significant number of tourists who come - well, I don't know why they come, exactly. Last night a couple with a seven or eight month old sat in front of us and didn't look at the field the whole time. People got up in the middle of one of the few Yankee rallies (well, semi-rallies) of the night. I'd say a good twenty to forty percent of the people around us were completely oblivious to the game. (One of the diehards did manage to shout down the wave. Points for that.)

Seems like it's a lot of money to waste if you're not a baseball fan, but what do I know? Given the outcome of the game, maybe I shouldn't have watched either...
Good deals in real estate

North Korea is posting videos on YouTube explaining how it's actually Paradise on Earth.

Nice visuals. Love the music. (Seriously.)

Even better are the denunciations of American and South Korean policies, like the one below. Thing is if you don't speak Korean, they look pretty positive, no?

(Search for your own with this term: uriminzokkiri. There are a bunch of satires of the U.S., including Hillary Clinton, but again you really have to know the language to get it. Or maybe not even then. NY Times story on the phenomenon here.)

I'll see your hedge and raise you a Sherman . . .

Bocage? I don't give a @#$#$ for your bocage . . .

(A month after the Normandy landings, Bradley's armies were slowed by the German defenses in the bocage or hedgerow area away from the beaches. The popular myth is that they were saved by the invention (and others like it) on the front of the tank seen here, which gave the tanks a way to get through the mounded dirt and foliage. Actually, the reality was considerably more complicated. But it's still a heck of a story.)
Music to the ears . . .

Yankee fans click here.

What Twain said . . .

An idle (I guess) question: Why do you think the official Army history of the Hurtgen battles lists more causalities than the entire First Army experienced at that point in the war?


(The battles were a small part of the action in the First Army sector, and even if they had a disproportionate share of the casualties, they didn't account for them all. Right? Right? And the killer is I'm looking at the source referenced in the history.)

First person: I'm so disgusted.
Second person: Why's that?
First person: Just people - they think because they're media savvy that they're intelligent.
Second person: Huh?
First person: You know what I mean. It's like thinking, Hey, I can use a cell phone. That means I can build one.
Second person: Oh, uh-huh.
First person: That reminds me -- you should get a new phone.
ODing . . .

You know you've been spending too much time on WWII when everything reminds you of Hurtgen Forest* . . .

Cool game, though . . .

* Hurtgen Forest = Hürtgenwald, scene of bloody battles during WWII. Nothing like the Xbox Live game Limbo, except in every important way.
Jet blues . . .

On Monday, on the tarmac at John F. Kennedy Airport, a JetBlue attendant named Steven Slater decided he had had enough, the authorities said.

After a dispute with a passenger who stood to fetch luggage too soon on a full flight just in from Pittsburgh, Mr. Slater, 38 and a career flight attendant, got on the public-address intercom and let loose a string of invective.

Then, the authorities said, he pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and slid down, making a dramatic exit not only from the plane but, one imagines, also from his airline career.

On his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart. Then he ran to the employee parking lot and drove off, the authorities said.

I know how he feels.

Story here. The idiot passenger who sent him over the edge will no doubt be sitting next to me next time I fly.

Madame Curie

Another random Bradley story:

One night in 1945, a British journalist visiting Bradley told of having had dinner with Madame Cure during the first war. The journalist -- Henry Wales, if the name means anything to you -- had been hired by MGM later to write a treatment based on the incident.

He never did, he told Bradley's staff. Radiation didn't have a pay off for the story. "Now with Pasteur, there was rabies and pasteurized milk," he said. "You see, there's a payoff. But with radium: You can see your watch at night. So what?"

Bradley, who knew the atomic bomb was on the way, said nothing.
Dubious distinctions dept.

The cell phone company included a circular in the latest bill claiming they're number one in customer service.

Isn't that like an executioner claiming to have the sharpest guillotine?

Or maybe the Titanic claiming to be the luxury liner with the most lifeboats.
An A Bomb . . .

And oh yes, A Rod finally hit number 600.

* For those of you who don't follow the Yankees, it's a reference to radio announcer John Sterling's radio call for Alex Rodriguez's home runs. And yes, this is a revision of an earlier post.
Annotating books

I took Donald Burgett's Seven Roads to Hell out from the library the other day. (It's an excellent first-person account from the Battle of the Bulge; highly recommended.) I took it home and started to read. After a few pages I noticed someone had written in the book.

How could they do that, I thought, write in a library book? That's pretty terrible.

Then as I looked at the notes I realized that they were adding to the account - that some reader had put his own experiences in the margins and between the lines. (From what he saw and what he commented on, I'm guessing he served in CCB of the 10th Armored, probably as part of a scout unit.)

And instantly my feelings changed.

I do kind of wonder how I'd cite the notes, though.

On drinking . . .

. . . er, writing:

You could also substitute “drink” for “write” in these well-known examples of writerly wisdom. “An author ought to write for the youth of his generation” (Fitzgerald). “Write, damn you! What else are you good for?” (Joyce). “Writing is finally a series of permissions you give yourself to be expressive in certain ways. To leap. To fly. To fail” (Sontag).

Great essay in the NY Times book section by Geoff Nicholson. Read it here.