So today, we get this:

KABUL, Afghanistan — In one of his sternest warnings yet concerning civilian casualties, President
Hamid Karaki said Tuesday that NATO must stop air attacks on Afghan homes immediately, or face “unilateral action” from the Afghan government.

Speaking at a news conference at the presidential palace in Kabul, Mr. Karzai declined to say what actions the government would or could take, saying only that Afghanistan “has a lot of ways of stopping it.”

Story here. It's actually relatively balanced.

I realize that supporting our continued presence in Afghanistan isn't the most popular position, but it's clear that NATO and the U.S. are bending over backwards to actually deal with the situation there - and much more realistically than Karazi appears to be.

But sooner or later, Americans are going to say, Why bother? If they want to continue living in a hell hole, so be it.

Intellectuals . . .

The always entertaining and usually provocative David Mamet is interviewed in Sunday's NYT Magazine:

There’s an anti-intellectual flavor to your dismissal of the liberal arts, saying the only thing an M.A. in English can do is bag groceries. You don’t consider yourself an intellectual?

I don’t know. If you look at Paul Johnson’s or Thomas Sowell’s description of the term, it would be a guy who’s not aware that he doesn’t know anything.

The whole interview is a tear. It's here.

The USS Enterprise

A few weeks ago I blogged a picture of the space shuttle Enterprise; here's one of the aircraft carrier, CVN 65, always one of my favorites.

Historical blinders

Jerome Preisler has been teasing people who follow him on Twitter with accounts of his work on a new World War II historical account, to be titled Codename Caesar. Everything I've heard about the book, which details nail-biting Allied operations to upend a high-tech German/Japanese program, make it sound like a must-read; it's due to be published some time next year.

Along the way, Jerome has been providing some interesting insights into the historical process, which is something that's always interested me (and is part of the focus of my own books, Rangers at Dieppe and my forthcoming biography of Omar Bradley).

The other day he tweeted this:

In researching my current book, I read lots of historians who say WW II German airmen were "dedicated" and the Japanese "fanatical". Zat so?

An excellent point. As is the fact that a single adjective can reveal a great deal.

Now I'm going to guess that not one of the accounts he's been reading is by a writer who would be considered "prejudiced." (Much less would consider him or herself the same.) But be that as it may, it would seem inevitable that the subtle shadings of their work influence readers, generally in ways reader and author don't notice. And those hidden influences, inevitably, shade the work of writers who come later, and on and on.

That's one reason people don't know much about Omar Bradley, and that what they do know is wrong. But it's also a reason that we don't learn as much from history as we might.

(Jerome's twitter feed is @YankeesInk. As you can guess from the title, a lot of it has to do with baseball and especially the Yankees - so it may be an acquired taste for some, especially you guys up in Boston.)

What we're drinking now

Rogue: Dead Guy Ale. Naturally, since I'm working on a Rogue Warrior book.

(For the record, I'm not drinking while I'm working.)

The most awesome pro wrestling story ever

From Deadspin:

Now time for our email of the week. It comes from reader Adam, who was Randy Savage's second cousin. He offers this tribute:


When I was a kid, Randy's Mother (aka Macho Mom) would always make sure that Randy would put aside tickets for when the WWF or WCW would come to Chicago. During a show in 1992 or 1993, me and my brother were actually granted the opportunity to go backstage. For the 6-year-old me, this was the most awesomest thing possible.

I don't remember what happened during the show, but I do have a vague memory of what happened when I was able to go backstage. I'm not sure of what my expectations were of going backstage, but at that point in my life I was sure of 3 things: Wrestling was 100% real, there were Good Guys who were super heroes, and there were Bad Guys that were super villains.

We were met backstage by some WWF people who were leading us into the locker room area, and we were brought to Randy to say hello. There were a bunch of other wrestlers around, which was really cool but there was one problem: the good guys were hanging out and being cordial to the bad guys! Seeing good guys like Brett Hart sharing laughs with bad guys like Jake "The Snake" Roberts was almost traumatic to see; like seeing your Dad french kiss your aunt. It simply wasn't supposed to happen.

I was sad, scared and confused. I gathered up the courage to ask why the Good Guys were friends with the Bad Guys. Randy said, "We're not. We're just tricking them. You'll see."

After this, a WWF rep was showing us some other areas of the backstage. I don't remember what we saw, but I know when we circled back to the area where Randy was, all of the wrestlers I had seen before were back in character. Bad guys were yelling at Good Guys about how they were going to kick their butt and Good Guys were holding each other back from attacking the bad guys.

This. Was. Awesome. It IS real! Of course it is!

Randy didn't know me too well, but he cared enough about a young fan and professional wrestling to keep the illusion and innocence alive.

While, as I said earlier, I cannot claim that we were particularly close, I do send my condolences to those in our family who were. He made a lot of people happy.

Kaye who?

Original here. (Note - Deadspin may not be to everyone's taste. And they like it that way.)
My next car . . .

Even if I have to join LAPD to get one.

But they didn't tell us how fast it goes . . .

The second* biggest lie Clinton has told in his lifetime:

Former president Bill Clinton expressed optimism Wednesday about the immediate consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling by the August 2 deadline.

"If we defaulted on the debt once for a couple of days, it might not be calamitous," said Clinton.

Give me a break. Screwing with the faith and credit of the United States is a quick way to turn a bs political fight into a real crisis.

You think the housing crash was bad? Think of what happens when T bills become worthless.

It's not the money; it's the politics.

Clinton should go play with matches and gasoline. In traffic. It's safer than what he's senselessly endorsing here.

* No the first wasn't denying that he had sex - it was a little more, uh . . . misspredicktive.

Him: What does it say about modern life that my garbage company now has a web site, and accepts payment on line?

Her: That the mob adapts?

Forever Young

And speaking of Dylan, an interesting op ed piece on the role of being a teenager in the creation of genius . . . and everything else:

Fourteen is a formative age, especially for people growing up in social contexts framed by pop culture. You’re in the ninth grade, confronting the tyrannies of sex and adulthood, struggling to figure out what kind of adult you’d like to be, and you turn to the cultural products most important in your day as sources of cool — the capital of young life.

“Fourteen is a sort of magic age for the development of musical tastes,” says Daniel J. Levitin, a professor of psychology and the director of the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition and Expertise at McGill University. “Pubertal growth hormones make everything we’re experiencing, including music, seem very important. We’re just reaching a point in our cognitive development when we’re developing our own tastes. And musical tastes become a badge of identity.”

Rest of the article here.

I'm not sure there's much scientific basis behind it, but you can search your own childhood (or future childhood) and decide on your own.

Not only the greatest songwriter of his generation, but of those that followed, and probably many to come.

A real government take-down

Ukrainians take their politics very seriously . . .
The attack in Karachi

One of the more depressing aspects of the terrorist attack yesterday and early this morning on Pakistan's PC-3 base has been the continuing animosity between India and Pakistan, evident in reports about the incident in both countries.

Some Pakistani media outlets have gone so far as to say that the attack must have been launched by India, since India has objected to the spy planes, which it sees as a threat to its navy. Indian sources, in the meantime, have implied that the attack must have been an inside job, since it was so successful.

The conflict between Pakistan and India is long and complicated, and should not be minimized. But at the present, the real threat to Pakistan comes not from India but from the radicals that it has nurtured for the past several decades. Unfortunately, too many people in Pakistan - and India and the U.S. - don't seem to want to face up to that.

On drinking . . .

Friend: Did it seem like I was drinking too much at [Friend 2]'s party the other night?

Me: I don't know. I was too busy getting hammered.

Friend: I think I'm drinking too much on the weekends. Maybe I'll try having more beers during the week.

Me: I'm sure that'll work.

Still here ... and so far no one I know is missing.

Chinese intentions . . .

Twenty years behind?

"I can tell you that China does not have the capability to challenge the United States," Gen. Chen Bingde said, adding that China's wealth and military strength pales in comparison with that of the United States. He said China's navy is 20 years behind the U.S. Navy.

(General Chen is basically the chief of staff)

Size-wise, I'd think more than twenty. But given how much progress they've made over the past decade, maybe twenty years is right.

Full story here.

Too soon . . .

Randy Savage, Macho Man, passes away at an ageless 58.

He lives on in our hearts . . . and other places . . .
Who can argue?

Just because I haven't pissed off my brother in a while . . .

(Three game series starts tonight.)

I think I've flown through a tunnel or two with this guy . . .
One that got away

Read the review today of a book I was supposed to (help) write, but didn't, because it went to a different publishing house (presumably because they offered more money, though I don't know for sure).

That's happened a handful of times and in all cases, I've never read the book that resulted. It's an odd experience - almost out of body or even alternate history. I don't feel any animosity - there's none there; it's a purely theoretical business thing.

Weird though.

Excellent book, at least according to the review. It's also pretty high on the best-seller list.

More Assault Horizon eye candy . . .
The legitimacy of video games

Here's a sign of how much the world has changed - the home page of the NY Times is featuring an ad for Rcokstar Games' LA Noire.

I can't count the number of people rolling over in their graves.

(But I think it's cool.)

Big Mac-a-licious

I am in awe of this man:

It's something that no one else in the entire world can truthfully say: I've eaten 25,000 Big Macs.

Don Gorske can't say it yet either - but by tomorrow he will be able to.

Mr Gorske, 57, is set to eat his 25,000th McDonald's Big Mac on Tuesday, May 17 - the 39th anniversary of the first time he tasted the iconic burger.

Read more:

But do you think maybe his diet has something to do with his taste bud problem?

Why authors don't do covers . . .

My publisher, Tor/Forge, is extremely indulgent when it comes to dealing with authors, or at least me, actually asking if I have any ideas for a cover.

Words can only go so far when you're trying to communication a picture. I'm a horrible drawer, so occasionally I'll throw the ideas together in an illustration.

My next solo book, The Helios Conspiracy, is a kind of a noirish-techno thriller staring Andy Fisher, whom a few readers may recognize. Here's what I came up with:

(And yes, that is a naked woman in the bottom.)

Here's what they made of it:

They'll fiddle around some more, I'm sure, but I think they did a helluvajob.

p.s.: The book should be out next February.

Thanks . . .

To the anonymous Yankee fan who turned my lost parking ticket into the attendant and prevented me from having to pay twice: THANK YOU.

May the Yankees win every game you attend.
Beyond bad taste

Everybody's making jokes about bin Laden's porn stash, but think about this:

What if you found out he got off to the same stuff you got off to?

Doesn't your stomach turn just thinking about it?

Health care update . . .


The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care. . . .

Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

(Full story here.)

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know - the link to the gaming site got messed up a bit, which caused a lot of confusion with the video. This is one of the trailers that was there. Sorry, my bad.

The dialog here is edited a bit to fit into the trailer. (I don't want to explain too much of the story before the game is out.)

Regnery History

My bio of Omar Bradley is part of the launch of a new imprint; I hope that would make the general smile (something he rarely did, actually, but you'll have to read the book to see why).
Needless to say I'm very honored and grateful . . .

Regnery History

A New Imprint from Regnery Publishing

History is full of heroes and villains, stories and back stories. But too often, only one side of the story reaches the public. That’s why Regnery Publishing is proud to announce the launch of its new imprint: Regnery History. Beginning in fall 2011, Regnery History will publish new titles within the history, biography, and military categories. Following the Regnery tradition of challenging the status quo, Regnery History will bring new light to old subjects and will introduce figures and topics that deserve attention, but may have been ignored, overlooked, or even covered up in the past.

This fall, Regnery History will release three new hardcover titles and one paperback reprint. Included is a biography of the historically-neglected World War II general Omar Bradley; an in-depth look at the James Madison versus James Monroe election that ultimately shaped the U.S. Constitution; and a narrative political biography of Theodore Roosevelt complemented with more than 200 full-color and black and white vintage political cartoons. And new in paperback is the critically acclaimed biography of General Curtis LeMay by Warren Kozak. Early 2012 releases include a look at the Constitution from the perspective of the Founding Fathers as well as a gripping drama about the U.S.S. Grunion, the World War II submarine lost at sea, and the ensuing silence and cover up. We hope you enjoy our new line of books!

More info - go here:

Assault Horizon . . .

Game Spot kindly gave us (and me) a little plug.

The first new console installment in Namco Bandai's arcade fighter-jet series since 2007's Xbox 360-exclusive Ace Combat 6, Assault Horizon is being positioned as a "reinvention" of the action shooter genre. The game's single-player mode features a storyline by New York Times best-selling author Jim DeFelice (Leopards Kill, Threat Level Black), offering conflict in real-world locales that range from Dubai to Russia. It also introduces a variety of aircraft to the franchise, such as supersonic jets and attack helicopters.

Vacation planning . . .

Her: . . . take me to Yorkshire, where the biggest thing you have to worry about is sheep in the road.

Me: Sheep?

Her: Can you drive on the wrong side of the road?

Me: Before or after a few beers?
Meanwhile, in South America . . .

Colombia’s FARC rebels financed the presidential campaign of Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa and had such deep ties with Venezuela’s government that they may have carried out political assassinations on its behalf, according to a two-year analysis of thousands of the guerrilla group’s archives.

Read more:

Shades of Dreamland: Whiplash

Just like the TigerShark II in the Dreamland: Whiplash series, Northrup Gruman's Firebird can be flown by a pilot . . . or remotely.

Of course, the TigerShark is a little faster, but I had a bigger budget than the guys at Northrup . . .
Let your bullets do the talking . . .

Story in the NYT today:

U.S. Braced for Fights With Pakistanis in Bin Laden Raid

Story here.

If you can't get past the paywall, here's the executive version:

Asked what the SEALs would do if confronted by Pakistani forces, the military planners said they would talk their way out.

President Obama said screw that - kill the MFs.

Now that's how you run a military operation.
We know whose side they're on

Item: For the second time in five months, the Pakistani authorities have angered the Central Intelligence Agency by tipping the Pakistani news media to the identity of the C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad, a deliberate effort to complicate the work of the American spy agency in the aftermath of the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, American officials said.

NYT story here.

Sure they're mad - our drones are killing half their agents. And who knows how much bin Laden was paying under the table to keep things quiet.

The fight for past perfect tense . . .

. . . continues, and perhaps it is not a losing battle. A copy editor actually INSERTED a past perfect verb form into my latest manuscript.


And I thought past perfect was dead.

(Of course, he also tried to delete a couple of others from the manuscript, but we won't mention that.)
On pre-order

Coming in June, from Clive Cussler and Grant Blackwood.

Gotta love the Fargos... or would that be Fargoes?

Well, yeah . . .

Mr. Keller questioned why Bin Laden would live in Abbottabad, unless he had some assurance of protection or patronage from military or intelligence officers. “At best, it was willful blindness on the part of the ISI,” Mr. Keller said. “Willful blindness is a survival mechanism in Pakistan.”

Story here.
Some days are just . . .

... out of whack, even when they're whacked.

Hahahahahahaha . . .

Lead story on the CNN website just a short while ago:

(CNN) -- Was the killing of Osama bin Laden legal under international law?

Next week: Did the Allies have a moral obligation to talk Hitler out of committing suicide?
Sell books?

The marketing types say I should have posted a link for people to buy the new Rogue Warrior . . .

Here's one to my favorite bookstore, a small place with a lot of heart and great people in Millbrook, N.Y. (Merritt Bookstore.)

(You can get the book anywhere you want, honest.)
Coincidence, or . . .

The new Rogue Warrior not only deals with Pakistan, but there's a stealth helicopter (or two) involved as well . . .

I don't read much, but what I do read . . .

. . . sucks (because it's not what I expected) syndrome.

Of all the goofy stories* that have followed the bin Laden assault, maybe the goofiest is a ridiculous lament (??) in the Atlantic (here) that American writers can't credibly write about terrorists.

And, as a capping example . . . John Updike.


* - Don't get me started on all the supposed insider accounts. And the rapidly growing pile of Denier literature isn't worth mentioning at all, except as an example of collective insanity.
And to be clear - sure, I like a lot of Updike's work, but I wouldn't expect him to be writing a great book about terrorists.

Die as you live . . .

So the murderer of women and children dies trying to hide behind a woman.


Near ground zero this morning . . .

Or here.

No good restaurants nearby, unfortunately.

Or at least a measure of it. And this . . .

When the end came for Bin Laden, he was found not in the remote tribal areas along the Pakistani-Afghan border where he has long been presumed to be sheltered, but in a massive compound about an hour’s drive north from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. He was hiding in the medium-sized city of Abbottabad, home to a large Pakistani military base and a military academy of the Pakistani Army.

(Does it count if I ride a Ducati instead of a Harley?)