Monday, July 19, 2010

Poetry Corner: The Geek edition

A Rifleman’s Prayer

Oh Lord, I would live my life in freedom, peace and happiness, enjoying the simple pleasures of hearth and home. I would die an old, old man in my own bed, preferably of sexual overexertion.

But if that is not to be, Lord, if monsters such as this should find their way to my little corner of the world on my watch, then help me to sweep those bastards from the ramparts, because doing that is good, and right, and just.

And if in this I should fall, let me be found atop a pile of brass, behind the wall I made of their corpses.

-Geek with a 45 (aka. The Geek)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A thought occurs...

An act of chivalry is of more benefit to the gentleman than to the recipient.

That is all.

Monday, June 28, 2010

On editors and the publishing process

So I'm a bit late on posting. Sorry about that. Poor time management on my part.

Self flagellation concluded, between trying to parse out accounting over an online course, big mistake, and establishing Iago's identity as an alien infiltrator for a paper in my English class, I've been pretty dang busy. Also, the wifey and I are getting ready for a two week camping trip.

So, I mentioned earlier I finally submitted my manuscript. It spent just a couple days in the hands of first readers whom I suspect were office lackeys before I got a rather aggravating e-mail from an editor, from a publishing house I'll never contact again, who demanded I make a series of changes. Now, this company had promised to be a great entryway into the world of the published author and I'd even been recommended to them by other writers.

Thing is, I've never seen one of their books on a book shelf. I'm not sure what to make of that.

In any case, the prime objection to the manuscript as submitted was how various characters, no matter how important to the story, could seemingly just die at any point without an emotional context. You know, a bit like in real life. Now, apparently, this was a bit jarring to the readers and thus some manner of change seems indicated as all parties involved wish to emerge profitably from the endeavor. Fair enough. However, what is certainly not indicated, was to have some nattering deconstructionist* tell me I have no idea how to 'convincingly portray a life and death situation.'

I'm no Ringo, or Kratman, or any of the other highly successful mil-SF authors out there. My experience of combat was, I suspect anyway, far different and more limited than at least the two I named. That said, I suspect I have a rather better idea of what combat looks, feels, sounds, and smells like than some office bound junior editor who has misinterpreted his job responsibilities to include literary criticism.

I would have at least liked a bit of consistency. With regards to one scene I'm being told that the emotional reactions of my characters are too pronounced and, apparently, an elite group of combat veterans should share the same ideological and emotional nihilism of the more pretentious breed of literary critic. Soldiers, apparently, are allowed no emotional range beyond angst ridden bitterness or bloodthirsty and amoral. However, when someone dies in a seemingly arbitrary fashion during an event in which he was essentially an interested spectator, this should have had a profound effect on the insufficiently emotionally-stunted survivors. Apparently, they should have taken a moment to reflect on the chaos, pointlessness, and random nature of war. Not, of course, as I was quickly consoled, that any of their views on what they were doing should have changed, but they certainly should have re-evaluated them. Nevermind that they had a mission to do and were already being shot at, hence the a fore mentioned death. No they should have had an emotional scene of some variety there.

Well, if your reading this, Mr. Editor, you can go stuff yourself.

That particular scene was the greatest source of contention and it is NOT getting changed. Yes, I have already changed quite a few other scenes and now I'm trying what to do with all these characters who are suddenly not dead. I'll deal with it. If nothing else, after the numerous rewrites at this point, I've certainly gained experience.

If/when this particular manuscripts does get published, I'm gonna mail an autographed copy to that little twerp with that scene dogeared and, "Suck it!" written in the margin at the end of the chapter.

*I already have enough of a problem with deconstruction as a form of literary analysis as it essentially intends to prove that nothing actually means anything. Which of course is an incomplete method as at least some things have a very obvious, clear cut moral to them. With a very few notable exceptions, I've only seen deconstruction used to 'prove' that no piece of literature communicates any idea that the deconstructionist objects to.

Poetry Corner: Tennyson edition

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Alfred, Lord Tennyson


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.


Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

So I've been writing a bit

Not here, obviously. I finished up the manuscript, pared it down a bit, and edited for grammar and punctuation. Took a deep breath and sent it off into the world.

Only to promptly get it kicked back to me. Apparently, when an important character dies it cannot seem random and/or arbitrary. Also it must be emotionally meaningful and have a dramatic impact on the surviving characters, never mind the fact that they had a combat mission to finish.

I'll likely gripe about that in a bit more length later, but the salient detail is that, since I want to be published for $$*, I've been doing a rather extensive rewrite. Apparently, using a random number generator to decide when someone will die is unsettling and jarring to the reader. You know, kind of like it is to people who actually go through combat.

Not being able to spare time for a more meaningful post, I've been neglecting this blog. I shall endeavor to rectify this shortcoming. Of course, I've said that before so caveat emptor.

Be seeing you around, poetry corner tomorrow and the exciting story of how a young, aspiring author nearly killed an editor by beaming pure hate through e-mail.

*artistic vision, integrity, or whatever else you want to call it is nice, but I want money. Sweet, sweet money. And just as a stab in the eye, the death scene which was the largest source of contention will NOT be changed.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On selling indulgences...

Just a quick, nonsensical post. Something serious later, perhaps.

So, according to their earthly prophet, Al Gore, we're supposed to by buying indulgences from the Church of Global Warming. Oops, I meant carbon offsets, not indulgences. Anyway, I have to wonder, how many offsets do the US and Coalition militaries get for taking down the guy who set so many oil fields ablaze back in the 90s?

Seems to me it ought to be a lot. Remember that the next time you hear some soft headed nitwit nattering about how military jets and other vehicles emit such irresponsible levels of carbon.

Or, you know, you could just smack them upside the head with whatever heavy, blunt object is conveniently to hand. I'm happy either way.

Monday, March 29, 2010

I was wrong.

Today has not been a fun writing day. Not by any stretch of my, admittedly, very elastic imagination.

Ugh. Seriously? What the heck is wrong with people? This country seems like it is one poorly timed negligent discharge away from a domestic insurgency at best, and a damn, bloody civil war at worst! Every where and with everyone I discuss politics I hear bit champing rhetoric, incessantly asking if it is 'time yet.' People are freaking eager to see the ball go up and see the streets awash in blood?

Are freaking kidding me? Are you all out of your freaking minds?! Am I the only one who has thought this through? The situation does not mesh with the much toted, "We have the guns and they're a bunch of cowards so we'll win," meme.

It's as if everyone expects it's going to be themselves and their fellow patriotic, red blooded gun owners facing off against a few Feds and whatever cops side against them. What a joke! Nothing resembling a civil war is ever that simple. You think the military will side with us freedom minded folk or simply sit it out? Hah! Maybe some, maybe at first. But have you forgotten the witch's brew that makes up the gun owning populace? How long do you suppose the military will sit it out or side with us, when the Aryan nation is using the chance to gun down Jews in the streets? Yeah, I imagine any of us who saw them doing so would shoot the damn Nazis ourselves, but by then it'd be too little too late.

Hell, once the ball goes up, every whack job we'd distance ourselves from normally is going to be declaring themselves our fellow soldiers of freedom. Right before they blow up a federal building. Or a school. Or a VA hospital. How long do you think before large parts of the military decides to Hell with that whole mess? Leave that aside for a moment, if our enemies are half as tyrannical, base, and venal as our more eager elements believe they are, what is to stop them from using agents provocateurs to elicit the same response?

I'm not saying we should just roll over for the accruing violations of our freedoms, but violence is the last resort. If it ever is allowed to come to that, it will be long, it will be brutal, our friends and family will be the collateral damage, and our own military will be pitted against both ourselves and itself, crippling out nation no matter the outcome.

If you are actually wanting the ball to go up, growing impatient for the day the brownshirts come for you, or look at the reset button with anything other than absolute gut-wrenching terror, then you are an IDIOT and a liability to the cause of freedom.

EDIT to add: That was a bit more confrontational than perhaps it should have been. Sorry about that, today was nerve wracking and emotionally draining. Add the near run thing we had in Michigan recently and I was near convinced someone would kick off the shooting before week's end.

I understand people's rejection of the Clarie Wolf idea (if you don't get it, don't worry, you're not the target audience). If it is too late to work within the system, then it is NOT too early to start shooting, but in this country there's no such thing as a time too late to work within the system, but still too early to start shooting.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Coming up...

Ruminations on the OODA loop in politics. To wit, things like this. Yeah, tomorrow, will be a fun writing day.

In the mean time, watch this:

I know nothing about this guy, so I won't unequivocally endorse him, but he is RIGHT on in what he says there.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The shape of things to come

The other shoe that is:
Remember when Obama said he wanted a “national security force?”
Well, isn't that ducky? Admittedly, it's actually an amendment to an existing law, The Public Health Service Act, all it does is eliminate the maximum authorized manning level. Yeah, it gets rid of the limits placed on it. Previously the limit was 2,800, not exactly an overwhelming threat. Now, however? Who knows.

Then we have this little tidbit. The Empire Strikes Back

We wrote here about the consequences of Obamacare that are beginning to be felt, even before its provisions are implemented: Caterpillar said Obamacare will cost it an additional $100 million in the first year; Medtronic warned that the new tax on its products "could force it to lay off a thousand workers;" Verizon told its employees that it "will likely have to cut healthcare benefits to offset the new costs;" and AT&T announced that it will record a $1 billion non-cash expense in the first quarter and "will be evaluating prospective changes to the active and retiree health care benefits offered by the company."
Read the whole thing. The level of sheer arrogance in the imperious demands is just staggering. As if a private entity having the effrontery to react to economic realities is cause for Royal Attention.

Friday, March 26, 2010

So, do you think Obamacare is good or not?

So, our elected legislators of both houses voted to foist the healthcare bill on an unwilling public, promising that it was for our own good. That being the case, what with it being all great and wonderful and chock full of come they don't want to get any of it on them? Seems a little odd that.

Also, why exempt Tricare, with zero votes against? I'm certain someone could make a case that since Tricare is the health care of military members, veterans, and their families, they've already paid for their government health care. A sentiment I agree with, but likely not one the Dems do. They're the same assholes who recently proposed letting the private insurance of veterans pay for the VA medical visits, you know to deal with injuries received while still on active duty. Remember that? It was touted as a way to cut expenses, kinda funny with same people now wanting to insure everyone, or else.

So why would these people exempt Tricare from their sweeping power grab?

I can't say for sure, to be honest. It certainly doesn't seem they give a rat's ass about public opinion, what with pretty much every member of the public telling them not to pass Obamacare. I doubt anyone would believe they did it because they actually care about the military, I certainly don't. So why?

Well, who is exempted? Well, they are, apparently, their staff is, and the military. Pay close attention folks, see how long it takes before other exemptions, or superior/free plans, are extended to other government employees. Specifically, those best used as instruments of control, the IRS, FBI, ATF, and even the EPA.

If left unchecked, we could see the emergence of two distinct classes. Those who must pay for state rationed care, and those who are treated for free at exclusive facilities.

Do I think it will happen? No, not really, but I expect them to try. It's less a plausible threat and more a weather vane to their intentions and long term goals. Pay attention folks, it's about to get all 1984.

They're for damned sure doing their part

Discovered via BlackFive:

A father's promise, a son's sacrifice for his country

Only click on that if you don't mind a good cry.

We must always strive to be worthy of such men, even if we never can be.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The healthcare bill and Tricare

I'll be writing a bit more on this tomorrow. If you see this before then, take a read and spend a little time thinking about it.

I'm just shocked!

No, wait, I'm not. Airport employee gets scanned. For the linkaphobe, a female airport employee accidentally walks through one of the new 'see through your clothes' scanners and the weasel operating it uses it to examine her anatomy a bit more closely than she liked.
I can't bear to think about the body scanner thing. I'm totally traumatised. I've spoken to the police about it. I'm in too much of a state to go to work.
Well, admittedly, that would suck, but she works at the airport. Presumably she is okay with this happening to hundreds, if not thousands, of other people a day. So first, just as pretty much everyone who isn't a fan of sheep-like compliance knew, the system is being abused to get to voyeuristic kicks. Second, what's good for goose is apparently not good for the gander, since it's not okay to have it happen to her.

Quote of the day

"With politics, as with history, nothing is inevitable. To believe that transnational progressivism is an immutable, unstoppable global trend trend is an ahistorical, defeatist outlook pushed by the very type of people who a generation ago claimed the Soviet Union was a permanent geopolitical fixture. If America ceases to be a great nation, it will be because its people choose sloth, indolence, and mediocrity. That is a choice that I, for one, will never accept." -Mike

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Foot Soldier in The Long War

For years, since learning about the Saracens and Spain, I have described the conflict between Islam and the rest of the world as The Long War. I shall do so no more. The real war, the one that matters, is much, much older. It is the eternal struggle which has described all human history, back to Cain and Able (or the first caveman to force his will upon another, for you atheists). It is the struggle between two conflicting impulses present in all people, the desire to control and to be free of the control of others.

It is a war where there are no clear combatants and battle lines until it is too late, or nearly so, for those who wish freedom to prevail. It is not between religions or religions and secularism, nor opposing political ideologies, not even the conflicting philosophies of collectivism and individualism, but it lies at the heart of each of those conflicts. It is a war with many theaters, reaching into every facet of life.

As society needs authority in order to function, it is impossible for any person, perhaps even any idea short of anarchy or nihilism, to fit neatly into the side of wishing to be free from control, but all too easy for a person or idea to fall completely in the other camp. It is a nebulous struggle with most people being only unwitting participants until the point when the two sides polarize, by then it is almost certainly too late. Worse, a clear victory for either side results in a loss for civilization.

Societies need both conflicting ideals in balance, the correct balance being an issue of much debate, in order to be both free and functional. To one extreme, tyranny, the other, anarchy. Further complicating issues is a force I'll call societal entropy which favors either extreme, but abhors a balance.

Just as maintenance against deterioration in an artifact can only ever end with the ruin of the artifact, so too the maintenance of the precarious balance we call liberty. Balance or not, the struggle is a perpetual one. Historically, those societies which have achieved something resembling an ideal balance have only ever done so temporarily and only in the minority of cases. Entropy always wins eventually, but not on any timetable.

Sunday we saw the balance tip dramatically further in the favor of those who wish control. Any kind of balance in our country is in dire straits. All it would take is anything less than the absolute and fervent work of those who wish for liberty, in a nation of laws, to see our society to slide over into an authoritarian hell hole. Once there, restoring a balance is far less likely than simple bouncing between anarchy and tyranny. We have a rare thing, one we likely won't see again in our or our children's lifetimes if we lose it.

Congratulations, be you man or woman, religious or atheist, individualistic or collectivist you made the cut. You are now soldiers enlisted in fighting the second oldest war in history, second only to the eternal war between good and evil. Just try to remember, no side can be allowed to win.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Day Two in the New America

Still no brown shirts in the streets confiscating smokes, soda, and booze. Kind of a bummer, I had a whole extra magazine in my pocket and everything. What I did notice is a lot of my less politically savvy/active friends are suddenly wanting to talk politics with me. And they are pissed.

Good. Make 'em mad and keep 'em there. People need to stay angry at least until November.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Never let them see you bleed

Had a bad moment last night when, against the express wishes of the vast majority of the populace, the authoritarian's wet dream was shoved down our collective throats. For various reasons, I won't be personally effected, directly at least, and I'm sufficiently accomplished at gaming systems to likely emerge unscathed from whatever comes next as well. So I asked myself, "Why not just sit back and watch the whole damn world burn?" My inner nihilist was quite compelling. Hadn't I done enough? I've grown more risk averse and less combative as I've gotten older, there's nothing wrong with that, is there? I mean, I have kids now. Besides, what can anyone do? Every single elected jackass knew damn good and well that the American people wanted no part of their monstrosity.

FUCK that. It's time I remembered who I AM. I have traveled the world fighting for what I believed in and faced, what I thought was, certain death because I believed it was worth any cost. WE as a people need to remember who we are. As a nation we have paid any price, faced any challenge, and never asked anything in return but the room to bury our dead and the continuation of our freedom. Now the battle is on our own shores and is far more difficult and complex than facing down an opposing army.

All is not lost. The reason this came to pass despite overwhelming opposition is not because we are powerless. It is because those who would control have learned about response times. That is why as this year's election grew closer, the push to pass the Obamacare bill grew increasingly frantic. They had to get it passed before the election because they knew they would not be able to afterword. The decision cycle for the government is flexible, however long it takes to get a bill passed. For we the electorate, it is every two years. Well, our turn is coming up. If we can avoid giving in to despair and apathy, we can still make ourselves felt. Everyone who voted for this abomination needs to be tossed out on their asses.

We have three years before this fully goes into effect. Time enough to fight it in the courts. To exorcise the corruption in Congress then demand a repeal. Time enough for hope. But if we just let this slide, give it time to acquire inertia then it will take on the sick, undying life of any other government program. Write your representatives and senators, shower afterwards, attend rallies, learn the details, inform yourself so you can inform others above all, give them no respite. Call them liars and tyrants in the streets, campaign for anyone who opposes them, don't just fight them at the ballet box, fight them from the soapbox, make yourself heard! If they call a rally, attend and call them out.

They have blatantly and knowingly opposed the will of We the People, we owe them nothing.