Monday, May 29, 2017
My most recent novel, 'Rocky Mountain Retribution', is now available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers on Amazon.com, having been released to that channel by Castalia House, my publishers. That means KU subscribers can read it without payment, as part of their monthly subscription. Also, the dead tree edition is almost ready for publication, and should be out within a week or two, God willing.
On that subject, may I please appeal to you to post a review on Amazon.com if you've read the book? Reviews are the lifeblood of authors like myself. They help prospective readers decide whether or not to try a particular book. If you've read it, and like it, please leave a review at the Amazon.com page for 'Rocky Mountain Retribution'.
My current work in progress, a fantasy novel, is well over halfway finished, and I hope to have it out by the end of June. Watch this space for details. It was delayed by a recurrence of a kidney stone problem - writing while in a lot of pain, and affected by strong painkillers, is not something I can easily manage - but things are on the mend. Here's hoping they stay that way!
I'll be starting to write the sixth book in the Maxwell Saga in July. Look for it early in the fourth quarter. After that, it'll be the third and final volume in the Laredo Trilogy, which I hope to have at Castalia House by the end of December.
Thank you all for your support!
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Memorial Day is our Nation's solemn reminder that freedom is never free. It is a moment of collective reflection on the noble sacrifices of those who gave the last measure of devotion in service of our ideals and in the defense of our Nation. On this ceremonious day, we remember the fallen, we pray for a lasting peace among nations, and we honor these guardians of our inalienable rights.
This year, we commemorate the centennial anniversary of America's entry into World War I. More than 4.7 million Americans served during The Great War, representing more than 25 percent of the American male population between the ages of 18 and 31 at the time. We remember the more than 100,000 Americans who sacrificed their lives during "The War to End All Wars," and who left behind countless family members and loved ones. We pause again to pray for the souls of those heroes who, one century ago, never returned home after helping to restore peace in Europe.
On Memorial Day we honor the final resting places of the more than one million men and women who sacrificed their lives for our Nation, by decorating their graves with the stars and stripes, as generations have done since 1868. We also proudly fly America's beautiful flag at our homes, businesses, and in our community parades to honor their memory. In doing so, we pledge our Nation's allegiance to the great cause of freedom for which they fought and ultimately died.
In honor and recognition of all of our fallen service members, the Congress, by a joint resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116), has requested the President issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer. The Congress, by Public Law 106-579, has also designated 3:00 p.m. local time on that day as a time for all Americans to observe, in their own way, the National Moment of Remembrance.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Memorial Day, May 29, 2017, as a day of prayer for permanent peace, and I designate the hour beginning in each locality at 11:00 a.m. of that day as a time when people might unite in prayer. I urge the press, radio, television, and all other information media to cooperate in this observance.
I further ask all Americans to observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time on Memorial Day.
I also request the Governors of the United States and its Territories, and the appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff until noon on this Memorial Day on all buildings, grounds, and naval vessels throughout the United States and in all areas under its jurisdiction and control. I also request the people of the United States to display the flag at half-staff from their homes for the customary forenoon period.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-fourth day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand seventeen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and forty-first.
DONALD J. TRUMP
That says it better than I could. Pray today for those who died, so that all of us might remain free. Let us remember their example, and ensure that we and our children don't lose the freedom they defended for us at the cost of their lives.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
I thought I'd remember a friend this morning, with a piece of music he and I both loved very much. It's the 'Fantasia para un Gentilhombre' (Fantasia for a Gentleman) by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo, who may be the most well-known composer for that instrument in classical music history.
This 1996 recording features Pepe Romero, a member of the world-famous classical guitar family. He's playing with the Orquesta Filarmonica de la UNAM, a Mexican orchestra, conducted by Manuel Godolf. The video quality isn't very good, but the sound is better. I chose this recording because it shows Pepe Romero's notable guitar technique very well.
I still miss Inyati. This music brings back his memory every time I hear it.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
The iconoclastic Fred Reed lays it out.
Do you wonder why the legacy media are such puzzled otherworldly twits? Why, for example, they had no idea what was happening in the recent election? Why they seem to know so very little about America or much of anything else?
Some thoughts from a guy who spent a career in the racket:
Ask journalists when they were last in a truck stop on an Interstate, last in Boone, North Carolina or Barstow, California or any of thousands of such towns across the country. Ask whether they were in the military, whether they have ever talked to a cop or an ambulance crewman or a fireman. Ask whether they have a Mexican friend, when they last ate in a restaurant where a majority of the customers were black. Whether they know an enlisted man, or anyone in the armed services. Whether they have hitchhiked overnight, baited a hook, hunted, or fired a rifle. Whether they have ever worked washing dishes, harvesting crops, driving a delivery truck. Whether they have a blue-collar friend. Know what the Texas Two-Step is, have been in a biker bar.
Now do you see why Trump surprised them?
Next, ask how many went to fancy schools like Oberlin, Swarthmore, Amherst, the Ivies, Bard. Ask how many even know someone who graduated from a land-grant school. Ask whether they know an engineer.
Now look at how much they write about each other for each other. Look at the endless coverage of what Maddow said about what Hannity thought about O’Reilly’s harassment of soft-porn star Megyn and how much she might make at CNN. Ask how much time they spend comparing ratings. They are fascinated by themselves.
Ask them how many have ever worried about paying the electric bill, had to choose between a new winter coat or paying the cable, or known anyone who did.
They don’t know America, and they don’t much like it.
There's more at the link. Recommended reading.
As a corollary to what Fred is saying, see also this report, where Dylan Byers of CNN admits that "most reporters are stuck telling the story of the progressive future as envisioned by Obama and Hillary". He does so on camera, too - there's a video clip at the link. I don't know whether or not his fellow talking heads agreed with him, but it made sense to me. Mr. Byers and the journalists he describes, like the overwhelming majority of mainstream news media staff, come from the circles Fred Reed outlines so well. They have no idea how out-of-touch with most of America they really are.
The same applies to many on the left-wing, progressive side of US politics, of course. They just don't get it. They're so far out of step with 'traditional' American values that they can't understand the rejection they foment when they try to force their non-traditional values on us. Consider the congressional election in Montana last week. Many commentators simply couldn't wrap their heads around the fact that the Republican candidate not only won, but raised over $100,000 the day after he body-slammed a left-leaning reporter. It was because his supporters would probably like to have done the same thing to the reporter, if not worse - but reporters can't admit that, because if they did, they'd also have to admit that they've made themselves the enemy of 'traditional America'.
That's nothing new, of course. Consider attempts by the left to demonize Chick-Fil-A, or Memories Pizza in Indiana. They also failed miserably - and they will continue to fail across America, because the left just doesn't get it. Most of us don't buy into their agenda, and we won't in future, either. Unfortunately, the reporters who are pushing that agenda don't get that reality, either - or, if they do, they refuse to report it.
Friday, May 26, 2017
Received via e-mail, source unknown (I've done a search using Google and Tineye, but haven't been able to find the original cartoon):
Yep. The mainstream media is falling over themselves to avoid mentioning Manchester in particular, and radical Muslim terrorism in general, in the same breath (or sentence, or paragraph, or whatever) as Islam.
It won't work, of course.
Mark Steyn has some trenchant thoughts about the Manchester terror attack. Here's an excerpt.
A few months ago, I was in Toulouse, where Jewish life has vanished from public visibility and is conducted only behind the prison-like walls of a fortress schoolhouse and a centralized synagogue that requires 24/7 protection by French soldiers; I went to Amsterdam, which is markedly less gay than it used to be; I walked through Molenbeek after dark, where unaccompanied women dare not go. You can carry on, you can stagger on, but life is not exactly as it was before. Inch by inch, it's smaller and more constrained.
And so it will prove for cafe life, and shopping malls, and pop concerts. Maybe Ariana Grande will be back in the UK - or maybe she will decide that discretion is the better part of a Dangerous Woman's valor. But there will be fewer young girls in the audience - because no mum or dad wants to live for the rest of their lives with the great gaping hole in your heart opening up for dozens of English parents this grim morning. And one day the jihad will get lucky and the bomb will take with it one of these filthy infidel "shameless" pop whores cavorting on stage in her underwear. You can carry on exactly as before, but in a decade or two, just as there are fewer gay bars in Amsterdam and no more Jewish shops on the Chaussée de Gand, there will be less music in the air in western cities. Even the buskers, like the one in Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens today serenading a shattered city with "All You Need Is Love", will have moved on, having learned that it's a bit more complicated than that.
. . .
Poland and Hungary and Slovakia do not have Islamic terrorism because they have very little Islam. France and Germany and Belgium admit more and more Islam, and thus more and more terrorism. Yet the subject of immigration has been all but entirely absent from the current UK election campaign. Thirty years ago, in the interests of stopping IRA terrorism, the British state was not above preventing the internal movement within its borders of unconvicted, uncharged, unarrested Republican sympathizers seeking to take a ferry from Belfast to Liverpool. Today it declares it can do nothing to prevent the movement of large numbers of the Muslim world from thousands of miles away to the heart of the United Kingdom. It's just a fact of life - like being blown up when you go to a pop concert.
All of us have gotten things wrong since 9/11. But few of us have gotten things as disastrously wrong as May and Merkel and Hollande and an entire generation of European political leaders who insist that remorseless incremental Islamization is both unstoppable and manageable. It is neither - and, for the sake of the dead of last night's carnage and for those of the next one, it is necessary to face that honestly. Theresa May's statement in Downing Street is said by my old friends at The Spectator to be "defiant", but what she is defying is not terrorism but reality.
There's much more at the link. Recommended reading.
I want to disagree with Mr. Steyn, but I can't. I disagree profoundly that Islam as a whole is the source of our terrorism problem; but the fact that the terrorists are overwhelmingly fundamentalist Muslims undermines my argument, because it's almost impossible to tell them apart from Muslims who are not terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. If you can't distinguish the dangerous from the harmless, you're left with only one alternative to ensure your safety. You have to regard all of them as dangerous until proven otherwise.
This is a tragedy of monumental proportions - and it's one that until recently simply was not a factor. I was discussing this with Lawdog last night. He and I can recall many encounters with Muslims in Africa back in the 1970's and 1980's, he in the west of that continent, I in the south and east. Almost universally, the Muslims we knew then were not radicalized, were perfectly happy to coexist in peace with their neighbors, and were not interested in terrorism as a tool to promote their beliefs.
If there was a single, seminal event that changed everything, it was the war against Soviet invasion in Afghanistan. So-called 'mujahideen' flocked there from every corner of the world to resist the invaders - and the survivors took back home with them the newly radicalized Islam they had learned there. Now, in the aftermath of Afghanistan, things are radically different in Africa, to the point where Lawdog and I can no longer recognize the socio-political-cultural landscape we once knew. From Boko Haram in West Africa to Al-Shabaab in East Africa, from Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) in North Africa to Qibla and PAGAD in South Africa, radicals attempted (with varying degrees of success) to subvert and take over more moderate Muslim organizations and activities. Their efforts have been beaten back, but continue to this day. The same is true all over the world.
After the November 2015 terror attacks in Paris, I wrote:
When one simply can't tell whether or not an individual Muslim is also a terrorist fundamentalist, the only safety lies in treating all of them as if they presented that danger. That's what the French people are going to do now. That's what ordinary people all across Europe are going to do now, irrespective of whatever their politicians tell them. Their politicians are protected in secure premises by armed guards. They aren't. Their survival is of more immediate concern; so they're doing to do whatever they have to do to improve the odds in their favor. If that means ostracizing Muslims, ghettoizing them, even using preemptive violence against them to force them off the streets . . . they're going to do it.
I've written before about how blaming all Muslims for the actions of a few is disingenuous and inexcusable. I still believe that . . . but events have overtaken rationality. People are going to start relating to 'Muslims' rather than to 'human beings', just as the extremists label all non-Muslims as 'kaffirs' or 'kufars' - unbelievers - rather than as human beings. For the average man in a European street, a Muslim will no longer be a 'person'. He's simply a Muslim, a label, a 'thing'. He's no longer French, or American, or British, no matter what his passport says. He's an 'other'. He's 'one of them' . . . and because of that, he's no longer 'one of us'. He's automatically defined - no, let's rather say (because it's easier to blame him) that he's defined himself - as a potential threat, merely by the religion he espouses. He may have been born into it, and raised in a family and society and culture so saturated with it as to make it literally impossible, inconceivable, for him to be anything else . . . but that doesn't matter. It's his choice to be Muslim, therefore he must take the consequences. We're going to treat him with the same suspicion and exaggerated caution that we would a live, possibly armed hand-grenade. He's asked for it, so we're going to give it to him.
That's the bitter fruit that extremism always produces. It's done so throughout history. There are innumerable examples of how enemies have become 'things'. It's Crusaders versus Saracens, Cavaliers versus Roundheads, Yankees versus Rebels, doughboys versus Krauts . . . us versus them, for varying values of 'us' and 'them'.
. . .
And in the end, the bodies lying in the ruins, and the blood dripping onto our streets, and the weeping of those who've lost loved ones . . . they'll all be the same. History is full of them. When it comes to the crunch, there are no labels that can disguise human anguish. People will suffer in every land, in every community, in every faith . . . and they'll turn to what they believe in to make sense of their suffering . . . and most of them will raise up the next generation to hate those whom they identify as the cause of their suffering . . . and the cycle will go on, for ever and ever, until the world ends.
Again, more at the link.
The Manchester attack has merely added fuel to the fire, perpetuated the cycle . . . and that's precisely what the extremists want. Their brand of radicalism can only flourish in a climate of fear, uncertainty, doubt, and perceived racism and/or xenophobia. Manchester will add to that climate, enhance it, make it more widespread. Sooner or later, at least some of the people of Britain will rise up and react of their own accord, rather than wait for their leaders to do something about it. When that day comes, Muslim immigrants to and residents of that country will bear the brunt of it - and since most of them are not involved in terrorism, they'll respond with anger, outrage, and a reaction that grows increasingly more radicalized and violent. In response, Christian churches are likely to grow less tolerant, more radicalized, in their turn. I fear the Crusades were - and are - not merely an historical anachronism.
"To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction." Newton said it about physics. Radicalization demonstrates it in religion - and terrorism demonstrates it in our society's response to terror. If anyone in today's world thinks that terrorism won't affect them, they're living in a fool's paradise. All of us are vulnerable, and all of us are already victims, even if only peripherally. (Want to know why your right to privacy is systematically and deliberately being raped by our organs of government? It's all in the name of the War on Terror. Yes, you're affected, all right.)
Manchester was the latest episode. Stand by for many more to come . . . and be prepared for the consequences.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
It seems that, yet again, hosting the Olympic Games has turned into a financial nightmare after the event was over.
There were 27 world records set at the Rio Olympics last year – from swimming to weightlifting, archery to cycling. These were as thrilling as they were expected. “Citius, Altius, Fortius,” is the Olympic model after all – Latin for “Faster, Higher, Stronger.”
Now comes perhaps the most enduring world record of the Games: Just seven months after the torch was doused, the host country is already acknowledging the entire operation was a terrible, perhaps criminal idea. It has left them debt-ridden and without a clue what to do with already decaying facilities.
Never faster has been the condemnation for hosting. Never higher has been the local outrage. And, maybe, never stronger is the lesson for the rest of the world to avoid ever getting into business with the International Olympic Committee.
“There was no planning,” Leandro Mitidieri, a federal prosecutor in Brazil, said this week at a public hearing about the Olympic disaster, according to the Associated Press. “There was no planning when they put out the bid to host the Games. No planning.”
And what of the majority of the facilities the country built to appease the IOC, a major part of the $12 billion cost of hosting the Games?
“They are white elephants today,” Mitidieri said.
Seven months. That’s all it took and, actually, it didn’t even really take that long. Mitidieri began looking into corruption involving the host last year, before the Olympics even happened. That he found a dumpster fire is of little surprise to anyone who cared to pay attention or attend the Games.
There's more at the link.
Considering the history of most cities that have hosted the Olympic Games over the past few decades, one wonders why no-one in Brazil drew the obvious conclusions, and withdrew their bid before it was too late. Now they're stuck with the bills . . .
For the few readers who haven't already heard, today is the 40th anniversary of the release of the original 'Star Wars'.
A long time ago, somewhere in southern California, a bearded young man had a dream of turning old samurai films, Eastern philosophies, and something like Flash Gordon into an operatic adventure set in space. That dream was eventually realized as the seminal science fiction film Star Wars, written and directed by George Lucas, and released on May 25, 1977—40 years ago today.
The original $11 million put into filming Star Wars (eventually renamed Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope years later) is arguably the best investment ever made in Hollywood. Even when adjusted for inflation, the film would’ve only cost about $45 million in today’s dollars ... The original Star Wars film is the third-highest-grossing film of all time, raking in close to $2 billion when adjusted for inflation. That alone would’ve made the original investment a spectacular one.
. . .
In making Star Wars, Lucas pioneered new camera technology, new filming styles, new sound design techniques, and, most importantly, a new way of thinking about science fiction. Unlike the generically clean, shiny, and metallic futurist alien worlds in other sci-fi films at the time like Logan’s Run, Lucas’s Star Wars universe was lived-in, dusty, and creaking—a lot like our own world. The expanse and detail of Star Wars made Logan’s Run look corny and dated by comparison.
Star Wars stands as a testament not only to Lucas’s filmmaking abilities, but also to his film industry innovation. The film itself set the tone for arguably every science-fiction action film that followed (and even prompted Paramount Pictures to cancel plans for a new Star Trek series to pursue a feature-length film). The technical success of Star Wars gave rise to other Lucas creations, including the audio company THX, the visual effects company Industrial Light and Magic (which has done effects on every Star Wars film and hundreds of other films), and the animation giant Pixar—all of which were originally parts of Lucasfilm, the production company Lucas founded to help him realize his artistic vision.
There's more at the link.
I can recall seeing Star Wars for the first time, in a somewhat tatty, run-down movie theater in Cape Town, South Africa. I had a weekend pass from the military, and decided to take it in to see what all the fuss was about. When I emerged a couple of hours later, it seemed almost strange to be in familiar surroundings. The film had taken me completely out of myself, and I sat rapt through the whole thing.
I wonder what happened to that rapt young man? He went away somewhere during the intervening years . . . but the movie is still with us.
I was interested to read that the US Army is testing what its manufacturer calls a stealth camouflage system. Strategy Page reports:
The U.S. Army is testing MCS (Mobile Camouflage System) that uses a new type of camouflage material for vehicles that provides an unprecedented degree of concealment and stealth. That’s because this new multi-spectral camouflage netting is fitted to a particular type of vehicle like a second skin and providing protection while moving, even in combat. The army has obtained (at manufacturer expense) several sets of this netting fitted for Stryker wheeled armored vehicles and is conducting field tests in Europe using four Strykers. If the U.S. military places a large enough order manufacturer Saab will set up an MCS manufacturing facility in the United States.
This new generation of camouflage material has been evolving for several decades as a way to protect vehicles and mobile bases from aerial reconnaissance that increasingly used infrared (heat) sensors ... A Swedish firm (Saab) took this a step further and developed MCS, which proved capable of providing a degree of stealth as well as rendering aerial or ground based sensors (and infrared based weapon sights) less effective. That can be a major advantage in combat where getting off the first accurate shot can be decisive. MCS can be provided in various camouflage patterns and colors so vehicles can quickly “change their skin” to cope with a new climate or season.
. . .
Camouflage is an ancient technique but technology caught up with camouflage in the 20th century ... Now MCS and the netting it uses have degraded many of the recent advances in sensors.
There's more at the link.
The system's manufacturer provides this promotional video.
I can recall, back in the 1970's and 1980's, the physical agony (and it often was agony, at the end of a long, very hot, exhausting day of bundu-bashing, being pounded unmercifully in our vehicles as they traversed the African terrain) of spreading heavy, unwieldy camouflage nets over vehicles in the African bush, to prevent enemy MiG fighter-bombers from locating and targeting our vehicles. They worked to a certain extent, providing visual camouflage, but didn't offer any protection against infrared (i.e. heat-seeking) or radar sensors. This new camouflage looks like a game-changer in that respect . . . at least, until sensor technology improves still further.
The progression never ends, of course. Detection technology will improve; then camouflage technology will leapfrog over current-generation sensors; then new-generation sensors will be developed to 'see through' the new camouflage, and necessitate the development of something more effective. That's why armies dare not keep existing technology for too long. Sooner or later, it'll be outclassed, and a better-equipped enemy will make mincemeat of old-fashioned opponents.