You Tube comments . . .

Sorry guys, but obvious spam from people posting porno and-or links to porno and the related . . . just have to delete those.

Not that there's anything wrong with that . . .
Edge of War

Coming this fall - Red Dragon #2 . . .

(See any typos? Let me know . . .)
Doctors . . .

So I screwed up my knee. The official diagnosis: Screwed up knee.

Prescription: Don't screw it up more. (Stay off it, more or less, for as long as possible. I.E., no soccer, no workouts, etc.)

Just once I'd like to get a prescription that said: Have more sex.


Aliens have deactivated British and US nuclear missiles, say US military pilots

Aliens have landed, infiltrated British nuclear missile sites and deactivated the weapons, according to US military pilots.


Hiding the truth

In a letter obtained by Fox News, the DIA says national security could be breached if "Operation Dark Heart" is published in its current form. The agency also attempted to block key portions of the book that claim "Able Danger" successfully identified hijacker Mohammed Atta as a threat to the United States before the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Story here.

Kinda makes you want to be 4 again, no?

(News item: Sesame Street censors Katy. Story complete with lurid headline here.)
Random WWII moment . . .

My informant said he had lived in contact with German officials close to Hitler and suspected that in remote parts of the cavern, which had been cemented shut by the Germans, there may be new secret weapons. He spoke vaguely about conversations with Germans who hinted at atomic energy and the "bomb that freezes."

- Diary entry, November 12, 1944
Harry C. Butcher
My Three Years with Eisenhower
Woulda shoulda dept. . . .

When D&P were in town last week for Urbanworld, HBO, etc., D kept asking if we were going anywhere we might be mugged.*

These West Coast guys have the wrong idea about New York.

I told him we didn't have time. Today I realized I could have taken him down to Wall Street.

Next time.

*Admittedly, you'd have to be pretty dumb or brave AND heavily armed to rob him. He's a big fellow.


Intelligent Integration Systems Inc. (IISI), a Boston software company, is asking a judge to immediately stop customers, including the CIA, from using proprietary geospatial software that it says another company illegally reverse engineered.

Oh come on - we all know the spooks stole the software from the Russians . . .
Fact repeating fiction . . .

In the news:

A physicist and his wife, who both once worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, were arrested Friday and charged with a criminal conspiracy to help Venezuela build an atom bomb.

Payback was set in Peru, but of course was inspired by Venezuela. (Peru's more interesting.)

Another interesting (only to me) bit of trivia: It was originally called Blowback, and changed for reasons it'll cost you a beer to find out . . .
Speaking of the Battle of Britain . . .

A quick outline of some of the fighters in the early days . . .
A hero, an ace - and a reminder of war's tragedies

RIP John Freeborn, WWII RAF pilot and hero.

The NY Times does an excellent job of giving his story here.
I finally figured out . . .

. . . how to be surrounded by beautiful women - just stand next to a couple of game producers at a film festival.

If I had only known earlier . . .

(Shoutout and thanks to HBO, Urbanworld, and all the other nice folks who snuck me in and said hi, etc.)
More on that . . .

Yes, I understand that it's hard for some to accept that video games are art. But really, there shouldn't be an argument: They passed the threshold when they started involving emotions beyond winning and losing.

This was directly involved with the rise of narrative within the games, though that's not the entire story. Using narrative within the games made it possible to deepen the emotional response and take it into different directions. Even some of the earliest role playing games (admittedly computer based, but still) were on this track.

Incorporating the "real" world into the narrative has been a strategy in art at least since man started drawing on cave walls. Whether the "real" world is contemporary or historic, you're really doing the same thing. (A point that was missed in the NYT story I'm referring to below.)

Yes, the form has a long way to go. Right now, there's too much separation in most games between narration and gameplay, removing the player from the experience and reminding him that he's playing Red Dead Redemption a game, rather than leaving him totally immersed. Check out the number of cut scenes in Red, considered by many one of the best contemporary narrative shooters. The next hurdle will be to find a way to tell the story entirely through continuous gameplay, keeping the player, ever restoring the fourth wall until the end of the experience.

That was one of the ideas that we started with when we were working on Ace. There are a number of limitations, technical and in storytelling. But it will be nailed soon. And then games will get to a whole new level.
Art and the first-person shooter

Chris Suellentrop has an interesting story in Sunday's New York Times Magazine (read it here) about video console war games. The story wrestles around the concept but has trouble closing with the heart of the matter - neither he nor anyone he interviews (at least as presented in the story) can fully articulate what is going on in the games. let alone what the attraction is.

Part of the reason is that the story, and perhaps many of those interviewed, start from a false premise - it and they see the games purely as entertainment, rather than art.

When I write a novel set in Afghanistan - Leopards Kill, for example - no one is confusing their experience of reading the book with living through the reality of the battle. Even if I write a nonfiction book on a war - Rangers at Dieppe, for example - it's very clear that the experience the reader has is related to reading, not war fighting. One certainly gains knowledge and understanding about real events, but the primary goal of the experience has to do with entertainment, emotion, and (with luck) insight into the human condition.

In other words, it's art.

I don't have to spell that out on the cover of the book. There's a long tradition going back beyond Homer that makes that clear.

But if I tell a story within the context of a video console game - as I've just done in Ace Combat - I don't have that long tradition behind me. What I have are people's perceptions that games are only entertainment. Everything else that's important about them is either suspect or completely disregarded, at least in discussions.

Which is kind of ironic, given how many people are actually having that experience every day. In some ways, the problem is as much about the perception of what art is as what video games are.

That will eventually change; Suellentrop's story, in fact, is one sign that it is.

Courtney Hodges as a pinup?

Why would anyone go through and cut out the headshots of historic figures in Charles MacDonald's The Last Offensive (Part of the official history of the U.S. Army in WWII)? From a library book, no less?

An illustrated book report? Or is some kid's bedroom plastered with grainy images of famous (and not-so-famous) generals of WWII?

(The book was also de-mapped, which is annoying as well.)
Will North Korea collapse?

. . . or will riots break out as a new leader is selected this week?

Nah on both counts.

But things will no doubt continue to be "interesting." There's a lot of creative tension (heh) with China, and the outcome of the party meetings that began the other day may only deepen the mysteries of the Hermit Kingdom. Utter chaos, though, is unlikely.

Good primer in New Republic, here.
(Almost) Great books

Toons: I just read this fantastic book on the Battle of the Bulge.
Me: Which one?
Toons [Redacted, to protect the guilty]
Me: That's a terrible book. It totally misreads the documents, caricatures Bradley and the other American generals, fails to analyze the tactical situation, mis-states the sources, and has a large number of factual errors besides. The author claims to have used sources he couldn't possibly have, and uses look-through citations without citing the middle source. Plus the prose is as leaden as instructions for assemble-it-yourself furniture.
Toons:Sure, but it's a great book.
Wrap rage

Finally, an Amazon initiative we can all get behind:

For nearly two years, Amazon has been trying to get manufacturers to adopt “frustration-free packaging” that gets rid of plastic cases and air-bubble wrap — major irritants for consumers and one of Amazon’s biggest sources of customer complaints.

But the frustration persists.

Story here.

Grisham's birth story

. . .during the summer of my 16th year, I found a job with a plumbing contractor. I crawled under houses, into the cramped darkness, with a shovel, to somehow find the buried pipes, to dig until I found the problem, then crawl back out and report what I had found. I vowed to get a desk job. . . .

I'm not sure why the NY Times is running it, but John Grisham talks about how he became a writer here.
World War II, the tabloid version

Sooner or later, anyone who's doing any sort of reading on World War II comes across at least one book by Charles Whiting. The British author was a veritable factory, publishing some 350 works during his lifetime, and a large number were about the war.

Unfortunately, Whiting is not exactly a reliable source. Besides a fairly pronounced prejudice against American generals*, his books have a tendency to slant details in the most dramatic way possible, facts be damned. It's like reading the Sun, with maybe a little more of a slant and a lot less sexy babes. Thus the First Army divisions that were rotated from fighting in the Huertgen Forest area become the "forgotten army" in the Ardennes in Ghost Front, as the title above puts it.

As history, Whiting is unreliable. But he's definitely entertaining. A few lines at random from The Battle of Hurtgen Forest: The Untold Story of a Disastrous Campaign:

A whine. A groan. A sound like a diamond being scratched along a piece of glass. Then the frieghteningly familar, baleful shriek of the German multiple morar was heard. Fingers of black smoke poked their way up into the leaden sky, and suddenly, all was chaos and confusion. The rockets ripped great steaming holes in the earth like the work of gigantic moles. They snapped the trees, flinging their crowns high into the air, and sent huge shards of jagged metal hissing lethally to all sides.
Gotta love it. Just don't necessarily take his word for it.

* Actually, he almost likes Omar Bradley, at least to judge his magazine-article length book on him. But then Brad can be a hard general not to like, even for the British.
Women trouble . . .

JayRoam got me in trouble with Grace, our section guard at the Stadium last night, and so for the foreseeable future I'm going to have to wait for the next at-bat before getting down to my seat, even though it's on the aisle right next to the concourse.

I was already on the outs with the Guinness girl, who discovered that I had left her for the McSorley's Woman. It's only temporary - you need a lighter beer on 100 degree nights - but now I have to worry if she'll take me back.

At least Cousin Brewski understands. Vendor Number 22 was in fine fettle last night, still slinging like he did thirty years ago. (He claims thirty. I think it's probably at least forty, but we'll use his numbers.) Only thing is, the Cuz goes where the money is these days, so we rarely see him.

The complications of a pennant drive . . .
China & Vietnam (cont.)

Problems have flared along the Vietnamese-Chinese border periodically following the 1979 war. A series of You Tube postings taken from Chinese TV broadcasts show portions of the 1984 conflict.

(I have to say, a lot of the English lanugaqge postings in the comments sections on videos relating to the conflict are, uh, a-historic . . .)