Archive for November, 2009


Peggy Noonan on “Amateurish” Obama

November 28, 2009


Who doesn't like pie?



You can read her Wall Street Journal piece here. She makes an interesting point about iconic photos; Carter’s always seemed to look worried, from what I recall, but Reagan’s were either smiling broadly or stern, no-nonsense. (Mostly smiling.) This President seems to work hard to not be Presidential. He doesn’t understand that the people who elected him still want him to be that way – but to do so while carrying out their beliefs as policy. He should not be trying so hard to be the anti-President.

I think that underneath Barack Obama is not nearly as confident as he want to appear. I don’t think he’s the puppet that some people believe him to be – I hope he isn’t! – but I don’t see him as having a firm grasp on the issues. I think he’s as out of his element in international politics as he is in domestic economics. He may have a handle on legal matters – he seems to have found all sorts of ways to enact policy without getting Congress to do much. Beyond that, he’s out of his league more than John F. Kennedy was, early on in his term.

I have read it several times over the years that if JFK had served out his first term, or even been reelected to a second one, a lot of things would have unraveled. He was a good figurehead but not very good on policy. His Cabinet, which was supposed to be a “dream team” of sorts, soon demonstrated that it fell far short of expectations. Don’t get me started on McNamara!

And, unfortunately, Obama is no JFK. He doesn’t have the quality of brain trust Kennedy had around him, and they weren’t enough. Noonan makes a good point that Washington is lacking in “wise old men.” And why not? They have been vilified for years. No one of any stature wants to put up with the kind of muckraking that passes for the press today. Stay in private practice and stay out of the limelight. And the money isn’t very good.

One of Carter’s main problems that I can recall is that he was a lousy judge of people. Case in point: Bert Lance. As President, you have to pick wise men (and women) to give you good advice. Carter didn’t. Reagan did. The Bushes generally did. Clinton had some – he was more done in by his own ego. A lot has been said of Obama’s “Chicago connections.” It’s not so much that he only hires shady characters he knew from Chicago. It’s more that, working in that environment, you tend to believe that’s how business should be transacted everywhere. That’s why the SEIU leadership – especially Andy Stern – seem to have a key to the White House. In Chicago the government and the unions have been connected for generations. Lots of Americans don’t like that kind of relationship. Even a lot of people in Chicagoland don’t like that relationship! For someone who said lobbyists wouldn’t have access to his administration, there sure are a lot of them that are tight with Obama.

Unfortunately for us this is a man out of his league. People were all excited about “hope and change,” and an “historic Presidency,” instead of finding someone who was competent to run the country. And now we are paying for it. And paying for it. And paying for it.


More words to live by…

November 28, 2009

“The impossible can become possible if you’re awesome!” – Rhino, in Bolt


OK, I’m confused…

November 25, 2009

Jethro's dad, and Seeley's grandpa?

Ralph Waite played Leroy Jethro Gibbs’ father last year on NCIS, and this year he played Seeley Booth’s grandfather on Bones. That confuses me a little, ’cause I’m a simple guy.


Be Thankful For Liberty!

November 25, 2009

President Ronald Reagan, Thanksgiving 1985. As usual, President Reagan says it all – and in a minute and a half!


Princess Cecile update

November 23, 2009

The update is that there is no update. I’ve been working on the novel so modeling has taken a back seat. The novel is 2/3 edited and cleaned up, so I should be done with it next week.

The last Princess Cecile bit was selecting an F-18 engine nozzle to be modified into the master for the plasma thruster nozzles. Since Drake talks about them opening and closing to vary the thrust, I envision adding actuators to the outside of the nozzle.

I really want to get to the High Drive motors. I have some ideas that might be kind of cool, but I’ve not had time to try to build a prototype.

I hope I get something done on it before Christmas!


“V” may be just about done in…and notes about CSI

November 19, 2009

There was a drop in V’s ratings from week one to week two of 29 per cent, and another 18 per cent this week. Next week is the last of the set of four episodes that will be shown this calendar year; the rest are supposed to be aired in the spring of 2010.

Any bets that it will end up going direct to video?

I’m done with it. It’s too predictable and the Cylons already look like people – and there’s no Number Six. Besides, it’s opposite NCIS and it’s been very good this year. Unfortunately, NCSI: Los Angeles is just OK.

The setup was really OK. I think it’s the quality of the writing and the casting that’s making it feel boring.

Last week, the CSI series did a thread that ran through all three shows. Only the last one was really well written – the regular CSI (Las Vegas) ep, where Weddle and Thompson watch over it. I don’t know how much of their craft they learned from Ron Moore or vice versa, but since they have taken over CSI it’s been far more interesting than last year. The season opener used an old idea – flashbacks from a  scene shown at the outset with no setup – but using the 3-D freeze-frame effect at the beginning was brilliant, and the writing made an old concept interesting.

Put her in charge!

Now if someone could fix CSI:Miami. I don’t even blame David Caruso for all of it. He’s a one-trick pony, but he does his one trick remarkably well. Just don’t try to make him a multifaceted actor. You’re not gonna get it out of him. Kick him upstairs to fight with the brass. Let Emily Procter run the place. I’ve loved her since The West Wing, when she was my favorite conservative.

Producers, you may use my suggestions, free of charge!


Edward Woodward, R.I.P.

November 17, 2009


Edward Woodward in earlier days

British actor Edward Woodward died yesterday. I remember him most from “The Equalizer,” but he was well-known for films like “Breaker Morant” and “The Wicker Man.” I also remember him for doing an episode of “Crusade” opposite his son, Peter, who played technomage Galen in both “Crusade” and ” Babylon 5.”

Peter Woodward as Galen in "Crusade"

Peter has the coolest diction. He was great as a technomage because of it, providing just the right touch of otherworldliness. He also has appeared in films like “The Patriot,” and will appear in this week’s episode of “Fringe.” Besides acting, Peter is a writer and a “fight arranger” – he choreographs fight scenes. He wrote, co-produced and arranged the fight scenes for the History Channel’s series, “Conquest.”

I enjoyed his father’s work very much. He and Peter had recently formed a production company and were doing films together. It’s sad they will not be able to do any more.




Computer ups and downs

November 15, 2009


My main home computer is a 20 inch iMac, from just before the switch from G5 to Intel. It’s about four and a half years old. I’m running it with a second monitor and after the Apple folks replaced the first faulty power supply it’s been a good machine. Last weekend I tried to burn a DVD of some grandkid movie files and got errors in the burn, so I ran Disk Utility to check it out. The left-side list showed the internal boot disk in red, and said it was beginning to fail. Oh noes!

I went to Micro Center (a half-mile down the street) and got a Seagate 1TB internal drive for 85 bucks, on sale. Popped it in – it took about 15 minutes. Then it took FOUR DAYS to get the OS, apps and data ported over. Twice I tried to use Time Machine to do it, and twice the Restore app hung halfway through. Two days killed. Then I installed the OS from the original DVD, and then restored the apps using Migration Assistant. That only took two days – one for most of the stuff, and another for the stuff it missed, somehow, the first time around. By Saturday it was back to normal, and I have two 500GB partitions where I used to have one 250 GB drive.


TRS update

November 15, 2009

I’m still cleaning up the novel, checking name spellings, watching for consistency of military ranks, and so forth. I’m not quite half-way through. As I go I’m finding little things like extra spaces that I need to correct.

I’ve been mulling two things over the last couple of days. While Stirling established that women were to be found in combat positions by WWII (the Eurasian War in the Drakaverse), he only describes them in the Domination’s military. He doesn’t talk much about the US military at all, and I would have to go back to Marching Through Georgia to see if he mentions any German or Russian female military.

The question is, should I have female test pilots in the post-War Drakaverse US? At what point did they become a significant segment of the test pilot population?

There’s another issue: minority representation. The Drakaverse is about as non-PC as an alternate history can be, but once the more militant Southern slaveholders left the US for the Domination after the Civil War, it’s possible that  the discrimination that followed slavery for another hundred years could have died out faster in the Drakaverse – if for no reason but to not be like the Draka. I have one black pilot, and I mention several who are from other parts of the wider US – the former Canadian provinces, Central America, the Philippines, the Caribbean. In The Stone Dogs Cindy Guzman LeFarge is the daughter of a Mexican-American submariner. I would expect more Spanish surnames, the mixture of names you find in the Philippines, and some very British-sounding names from Canada and the Caribbean. What you might find less of is German surnames, actually. Since a number of Hessian mercenaries settled in South Africa after the American Revolution, some of their relatives may have moved there later to join them, instead of, say Pennsylvania or Nebraska.

By the second book I expect a fully-integrated pilot corps. In fact, I expect most of the orbital pilots by 1970 to be commercial pilots, not military. The military will be stretched as it is, and commercial pilots could be called on to bring space station supplies and materiel to orbit. Where do military bases get their bread? From local suppliers, handled by commercial, non-military transportation.

I’m not sure whether I should jump to the second book next or not. If this one turns out to be unpublishable, I would have spent valuable writing time on something that probably couldn’t be rewritten. The Draka influence everything – they aren’t a stock villain. It would be very hard to rewrite TRS into a book with a different competing world power.

If I don’t go that way, I would probably go to the Michigan Enclave book next. I’m trying to figure out how I could get the state of Michigan to secede from the US successfully. I can make the state a success as an independent, mainly libertarian nation; I just need a good way to touch off the succession in such a way that it doesn’t seem contrived, or that the US would most likely send in troops to stop it.

Although if things go the way they are in the US today much longer, maybe the US government wouldn’t care if a state or two left, especially if they were a drag on the national economy. I fear I will have to create a US that is really on its knees – an even worse extrapolation of current economic policy that I would like to consider. I want the book to be an encouragement – “see, if we move in this direction, things will be better!” If the US is really on the skids that would be hard to do. If it’s not bad enough, succession would seem to be an unreasonable thing to do.


Happy Veterans Day to all Veterans!

November 11, 2009

Veterans_DayMy sincere thanks for your service to our country. My prayers go out for all families of fallen soldiers, especially including those who lost their lives at the hands of an Islamic terrorist at Fort Hood last week.