... warming up.
Sure, you've seen an F-86 . . .

. . . but have you ever seen an RAF Sabre?

(More early Cold War RAF photos here. If you go to his home page, you can drill down to other old photos as well.)
Becoming an American

On Friday, Jan. 28, accompanied by my family, I was among 160 citizens-in-waiting who filed into a 3rd-floor auditorium in lower Manhattan to be sworn in as Americans. On our seats were an American flag, a copy of the Constitution, a booklet featuring the stories of prominent naturalized Americans, and a welcome letter from President Obama.

Reading the letter, I began to cry. I had spent more than one-quarter of my life hoping to become American, and I was suddenly overwhelmed by the honor and the significance of the moment. The place I have called home for 12 years was finally claiming me, as well.

I looked around the room and saw other fortunate souls with long journeys now behind them, quietly weeping with joy.

Full article here, in Slate. (Most of the article is about mistakes in the citizenship test.)

Banking on a fight . . .

Have you ever received an insurance bill and wondered why it was double last year's? So did this guy in Pennsylvania:

All Patrick . . . wanted was for someone from Wells Fargo to talk to him. A single, white, goth and industrial music event promoter who declines to give his age, he wanted someone to explain why they were doubling his premiums and requiring him to insure his century-old house for its full replacement value instead of the market value.

Instead of getting an explanation, he ended up putting the bank's local branch office on the auction block.

Full story here. (Complete with Goth pictures, if you're into that.)
Stopping pirates

I'm guessing we'll soon be hearing more about the op and the pirates who murdered the missionaries about the sailboat in the Gulf of Aden.

In the meantime, most sensible people are calling for direct action against them before they take ships. But rather than just attacking the villages they sail out of - which we ought to do - we should hit the people who are financing them.

It's not as if we don't know who they are or can't figure it out - the navy was talking to one of them when all hell broke lose.

Bankroll a pirate, hang from a yardarm: sounds fair to me.
What I'm drinking . . .

Or rather, what I was drinking . . .

Good stuff, and the Black was even better.

More research definitely needed.
Ace Combat: Assault Horizon . . .

This vid gives a pretty good feel of the gameplay. Players have full control over the aircraft and the conduct of the missions...
The next chapter

Borders officially declared bankruptcy this morning. Not exactly unexpected.

(Industry story with other links here.)

It's another part of the (mostly) slow motion destruction/restructuring of the book industry. The immediate effect on most writers will probably be negligible, but it's certainly going to add to the difficulty of making a living at it. All of the big publishers are owed millions and millions of dollars - Penguin/Putnam/Viking etc. tops forty mil - and even though they've seen this coming for a while, the decreased revenues and sales are going to have to be made up somewhere.

The thing that has always confused me, however, is the fact that the Borders store near me is always packed, with a long line at the cash register. If I didn't know any better, I'd think it was the most successful store in the world, let alone the mall.

Are we ever going to get serious about this?


Suspected Somali pirates captured a U.S.-bound tanker carrying around $200 million worth of crude oil in the Indian Ocean on Wednesday in one of the biggest hijackings in the area so far.

Full story, which ought to seem more than a little familiar, here.
Titles . . .

Speaking of Red Dragon Rising, one of these days I'm going to write a post on how difficult it can be to come up with a good title for a book.

The books in the Red Dragon series have gotten into a certain pattern: "X of War" for you math mavens, with X being a variable based somehow on the relevant happenings. "Shadow" and "Edge" have done it for us so far.

That sounded like a good idea when we started, but now we realize that it cuts down on the possibilities. The next installment in the series - which will be out this fall - presented a serious challenge. The best "X" based on the contents would have been "casualties" - but that gives you the title of a fairly famous movie set during the Vietnam War. Not only that, but the movie's central storyline was something we didn't want to connect with this book.

(Full disclosure: I didn't know until I looked it up. Duh. I still haven't seen the movie.)

Fortunately, Larry hit on a much better alternative on the second try, and we ran with it.

Or at least we think we did. The publisher still hasn't OK'd it, which is why it's not appearing in this post.
Red Dragon Rising

Larry and I did this talk over skype quite a while ago, but it's finally been edited down into something semi-coherent. I look pretty baffled through most of this, but in my defense I can only say . . . it's a natural state.
How do these things really work?

I was talking with Rob the Accountant the other day, and he brought up an interesting point:

How do the solar-powered parking meters in New York City (or anywhere else) work when there is a foot and a half of snow on the solar panels? (As there are now.)

Battery backup? Or are there really squirrels inside?
I want one

Patience was never my strong point.
What we're talking about . . .


Crops Wither and Prices Rise in Chinese Drought

HONG KONG — A severe drought in northern China has badly damaged the winter wheat crop and left the ground very dry for the spring planting, fueling inflation and alarming China’s leaders.

Story here.

Website here.
Helicopters as UAVs . . .

Good, brief roundup on unmanned helicopters for the uninitiated in Popular Mechanics on unmanned choppers, online here.



Of course, they don't have the Dreamland birds, but what the hey :-)....

Speaking of helicopters, I've always wondered why they became known as "helos" in Navy slang. I can see the British slang - "heli" - but helo? (pronounced heal-O)
Upcoming books

A few programming notes:

The Bradley biography has been moved to the fall so the publisher can put together a marketing/selling campaign and coordinate with other World War II books.

Meanwhile, Helios has been moved to February 2012 - maybe we'll have the actual solar collecting satellite launch by then.
I guess he would know...

Do I file this AP story under the pot calling kettle black, or chutzpah unlimited?

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak betrayed his people and the uprising against his rule is the appropriate response, Iran's top leader said during Friday prayers in Tehran.

Full story here, among other places.
Thanks for the memories . . .

Item: Pettitte retires. Semi-official story here.

Bummer for the Yanks. But Pettitte has certainly earned it.
Shoveling . . .

. . . somewhere over an inch and a half of ice on top of snow on top of sleet.

A three-cigar, two-beer job.
Here's a book to watch for . . .

From Publisher's Lunch:

Attorneys James Daily and Ryan Davidson [are writing] SUPERHEROES AND SUPERVILLAINS: THE LEGAL GUIDE, based on their blog Law and the Multiverse. [The book takes] a look at legal issues in the comic book universe (such as: "Are Wolverine's claws covered by the Second Amendment?" and "Can a supervillain be extradited to another dimension?")

I say yes to the first, no to the second. But the real question is how does a superhero lawyer get paid?