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Amazon has gotten around to making The Mars Run free.

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Three Link Thursday

Let's get right to it.

1) On July 28, 1932, the U.S. Army 12th Infantry regiment commanded by Douglas MacArthur and the 3rd Calvary Regiment, supported by six battle tanks commanded by Major George Patton violently evicted the Bonus Army from their Washington, D.C. encampment. The Bonus Army, composed of unemployed and desperate WWI vets, wanted payment of around $600. It's a reminder that we got the New Deal because it was that or Fascism.

2) The Russians Are Bullying Our Diplomats Too. Remember that when Trump asks his friend Putin for help.

3) Calling American breakfasts what it often is: dessert. Much of American breakfasts, from yogurt to muffins, has the same sugar content as equivalent amounts of ice cream or cake. Please note, South Beach Diet followers, that traditional bacon-and-eggs breakfasts don't have that problem.

A Bit of Snark, Publishing Edition

Over the past 24 hours, comes news that Patrick Nielsen Hayden, long-time editor at Tor Books, is now Associate Publisher. Also comes news that John Scalzi, he of the $3.4 million contract, was involved in developing yet another video game. Note that this money is in addition to his Tor contract.

Wile E. Coyote Vox Day, Supergenius At Large (tm) (just ask him, he'll tell you how smart he is) is crowing on his site about the inevitable victory. I'm reminded of how Baghdad Bob would crow about great Iraqi victories while failing to note each victory occurred closer to the capital than the last one.

Speaking of this blog's favorite Supergenius, I note that the hood was removed the mask is off regarding white supremacy. Now we're being told that white nationalism was the founding principle of the USA and all true conservatives recognize that.

Books, Two Thoughts On

Two thoughts on The Mars Run, my first novel, recently re-released.

Thought #1 - this week, the book is free. We've started with Google Play, but the free-ness should percolate out to Your Preferred Seller of Ebooks soon.

Thought #2 - I did a Goodreads giveaway earlier this month, which ended up with me mailing four (4) books to Canada at for a non-trivial sum of cash. Well, one of the winners published her review. She didn't like it at all. As Mike Resnick, said, you win some and you lose some.

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Star Trek Beyond

It was too hot this weekend to do anything outside except melt, so I decided to head on down to my local drink-and-watch multiplex and take in Star Trek Beyond, the latest edition in the rebooted series. I also took in a couple of bottles of Angry Orchard hard cider, which proved refreshing in the heat.

I found the movie entertaining enough. Simon Pegg, co-writer, decided not to recycle any of the old movie villains, which gave the whole thing an original gloss. What I thought from the previews to be Earth proved to be a beyond-belief-sized space station with highly unrealistic architecture. It was cool, though.

There were a few nods to the old series, including a part where Kirk in his log says things have gotten "episodic." Since the movie starts three years into Enterprise's five-year voyage, there's plenty of room to slot in the rebooted series. I also like that, unlike the previous movie, the opening sequence has some relevance and resonance with the rest of the movie as opposed to being a tacked-on set-piece.

I don't think Beyond will win a Hugo or an Academy Award, but it's a perfectly nice summer movie.

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Like They Said

I tried to watch Trump's acceptance speech last night. I got maybe five minutes in, to the point where he would wave his magic wand on Inauguration Day and Make It All Better, when, in the interests of not damaging my TV screen, I shut off the device. Herewith, I'll point you at a pair of articles and just say "like they said."

Like they said - Jim Hines on the latest stupid police shooting. At some point (well in the past) one has to stop calling these random accidents and consider them a pattern.

Also like they said - the real costs of the practice of the investigatory vehicle stop, the vehicular equivalent of the stop-and-frisk. This is where a cop pulls you over for little or no reason and engages in a fishing expedition to see if they can charge you with something. It's a modestly kinder version of the Gestapo "papers please" drill.

Just When I Thought I Was Out...

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. With apologies to Michael Corleone, I thought I was going to refrain from posting about things political today. Then comes this New York Times article in which Trump said if Russia attacked them, [NATO-allied Baltic states] he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations “have fulfilled their obligations to us.”

Now, I understand and generally agree with the idea that our allies can and should do more for their own defense. But here's the thing - the Baltic states, short of having ballistic nuclear missile submarines, cannot and will not be able to defend themselves from Russia.

Geographically, the countries in question sit on flat plains, AKA "good tank country." They aren't very big (Lithuania is roughly the size of West Virginia) and don't have a large population (Lithuania is roughly the same population as Connecticut). They would be easily overran in a conventional war, even with NATO involvement. Simply put, the only way these countries stay independent is with a strong guarantee that, even if Russia pushes us out, we're coming back.

It may have been a mistake to add these countries to NATO, and it would be a valid policy position to say we're dropping them from NATO, but for right now they're in, and we as a country have given our word to defend them. Asking if they have "fulfilled their obligations to us" is morally bankrupt.

Cavariccis

Last night, my writer's group held a writing jam. This is basically us getting together at our regular bar, having a few beverages, and writing. Now, lest you ask "why do you need to go somewhere to write?" let me assure you that I sometimes wonder that myself. Then the topic of the title came up.

Three of my group members are of the female persuasion, and I came to a part of my story where a teenager in 1992 would want and/or be impressed by a gift of some type of clothing. The question was what?

One of the women in the group said, without looking up from her laptop, "Cavariccis." The other male and I asked "what the hell are those?" The answer is expensive and high-fashion designer jeans and pants. Said pants were a fad for a couple of years in the late 80s and early 90s, then (thankfully) disappeared from the scene.

A bit later, we got into another fashion discussion at which I was told that teenagers of the age of my characters were about the label. Again, useful advice. A man could learn something from a writer's group!

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Tuesday

My allergies decided to flare up, and at 2:30 in the AM a key part of my network at work decided to stop working, so this will be a short post.

I could not bring myself to watch the Republican convention. I expected it to be a train wreck and everything I've heard suggests my expectations were met. At some point, no matter how mad you are at the current crop of politicians, you would expect that the people you've nominated to replace them exhibit some modicum of basic competence. In other words, if they can't manage a convention how in the hell are they going to manage a country?

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More Book Promotion





Goodreads Book Giveaway




Pirates of Mars by Christopher Gerrib




Pirates of Mars



by Christopher Gerrib





Giveaway ends July 26, 2016.



See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.







Enter Giveaway


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Friday, Later Than Usual, Part Whatever

Yesterday I was at a golf outing (more on that anon) and today I didn't come into work until 1 PM (late evening cutover) so this post is late and the last of the week.

My time yesterday was spent at a golf outing, sponsored by Call One (my voice and data vendor) and a charity they created, Chicago Charity Challenge. The charity exists to get companies to compete with one another to donate to charity, and then they provide additional grants to the winners. It's a good concept. We played at Seven Bridges golf club, a nice and challenging course. Our hosts, wishing to avoid the multi-hour death marches typical of outing golf, had a number of innovative cheats to move one along. I didn't win anything but had a good time.

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More Police Thoughts, Link Edition

Some links regarding policing in the USA that have been floating around in my Internet. I do find it hopeful that some of the links below are from sites that are conservative and usually heavily support police. Reality is not just for breakfast.

A) What are we asking cops to do? Dallas police chief David Brown: “We’re asking cops to do too much in this country. Every societal failure, we put it off on the cops to solve. Not enough mental health funding, let the cops handle it. Here in Dallas we got a loose dog problem; let’s have the cops chase loose dogs. Schools fail, let’s give it to the cops. That’s too much to ask. Policing was never meant to solve all those problems.”

B) A very conservative site notes that every organization has bad actors and we as a society need to perceive that these bad actors will be dealt with. This is not the perception when it comes to police and that's a problem.

C) I'm not a fan of Newt Gingrich, but occasionally he gets hit by reality and allows himself to respond appropriately. To wit: “It took me a long time, and a number of people talking to me through the years to get a sense of this,” Gingrich said. “If you are a normal, white American, the truth is you don’t understand being black in America and you instinctively under-estimate the level of discrimination and the level of additional risk.”

D) Something that's become apparent to me as well - some cops seem to have an instinctive and deep-seated sense of threat from a black man. Combine this with poor training and training which emphasizes a rapid escalation to deadly force and you've got a toxic mixture where people are going to get killed.

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Hugo Thoughts - Novels and Novellas

Herewith are my thoughts on the Hugo Awards for novels and novellas.

BEST NOVEL

Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie (Orbit)
The Cinder Spires: The Aeronaut’s Windlass by Jim Butcher (Roc)
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
Seveneves: A Novel by Neal Stephenson (William Morrow)
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (Del Rey)


I read and nominated Seveneves and Ancillary Mercy, so I have a bias. I was completely unable to get into The Fifth Season, and found the excerpts provided of the other two novels entertaining. I thought Uprooted was an original take on fantasy, and Cinder Spires had promise as a steampunk / post-apocalyptic novel. My vote:

1) Seveneves
2) Uprooted
3) Ancillary Mercy
4) Cinder Spires
5) Fifth Season

BEST NOVELLA

Binti by Nnedi Okorafor (Tor.com)
The Builders by Daniel Polansky (Tor.com)
Penric’s Demon by Lois McMaster Bujold (Spectrum)
Perfect State by Brandon Sanderson (Dragonsteel Entertainment)
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Tachyon)

I bounced hard off of The Builders - no talking mice for me. I also found Perfect State impenetrable, which is a shame as I've met and like Brandon. I'm not no-awarding them, but I am leaving them off the ballot. Binti and Slow Bullets were (to me) novel, and Penric was entertaining but bog-standard. So my (short) ballot will be:

1) Binti
2) Slow Bullets
3) Penric's Demon

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Come Fly With Me

I mentioned on Friday that I was planning to be out of pocket. I was, because I was taking a ride in a Beechcraft Bonanza (the S-35 model, built in 1963) owned by a Rotarian friend of mine. At our charity auction in March, he sold a "$100 hamburger" event. For those not clicking through, "$100 hamburger" is aviation slang for flying to a nearby airport, having lunch, and flying back.

Our flight was from Brookeridge, a fly-in community in Darien. My pilot had a hanger in the backyard of his house where he kept the plane, and an alley / taxiway to the runway. The weather was warm, with spotty low clouds, which yielded a bumpy ride. We went right over Midway Airport (at ATC's direction), flew a loop around downtown, then west of Midway he gave me the controls. I did a pair of turns and a few minutes of straight and level stick time, then our pilot landed at Pilot Pete's, a restaurant at Schaumburg Airport.

After lunch, we took back off and headed south, buzzing my house before landing. It was an interesting way to spend a couple of hours.

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Dallas

I'm planning on being out of pocket today, so a brief thought. For the record, I am against civilians shooting police AND against police shooting civilians.

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Police Shootings and the Catholic Church

So I read an interesting article from a conservative news source entitled You Don’t Have To Be Black Lives Matter To Support Police Accountability. It's a bit light on root causes, but it does have a nice bit on "virtue cloaking."

Basically, virtue cloaking, well, I'll just quote the article: When a profession commands our respect, we often feel tempted to “virtue-cloak” it, insisting against all opposition that members of that profession really are what we know they should be. This is how people end up defending clearly bad police shootings, or saying criticizing police has a "chilling effect" and leads to higher crime. It's also how the Catholic Church ignored pedophilia in its ranks for far too long.

Virtue cloaking is an excuse, and like most excuses it stinks. Having said that, understanding why somebody is doing something is frequently helpful in suggesting alternative behaviors.

Plus Hilary Clinton

So I saw the news conference in which Clinton will not be criminally charged for not securing classified information. I suspect that an unspoken reason for not charging her is the high bullshit quotient of what we classify. Did you know our targeted assassination via flying robot program is top secret? In any event, the whole affair is why I'm not a big Clinton fan - it's too slick by half.

Link Salad, Rainy Day Redux

It started raining here in Chicago at midnight, and it just quit half an hour ago. Since I'm trying to squeeze five days of work into four (or possibly three-and-a-half) days, have some links in lieu of content.

Two Reviews

1) Violence, A Writer's Guide - a critical resource for any writer.

2) Janissaries (The Theogony, #1) by Chris Kennedy. A very entertaining MilSF novel.

Two Items of General Interest

1) My Best Employee Quit, or "I Am A Clueless Boss." Loyalty is a two-way street.

2) This Day in Labor History: July 6, 1924 - the Philippine Scouts go on strike.

InConJunction Report

So, over the weekend I attended InConJunction in the lovely east side of Indianapolis. (For those not in the know, the east side is the rough part of town.) In any event, the hotel was nice and secure. There were a lot of locals at this con, so the hotel didn't sell a lot of rooms, but attendance at events was solid. Herewith, a few thoughts on what I did.

Friday's panel was "Your Favorite Book You Read since Last Inconjunction." There were only two of us on the panel, so we relied on audience participation to help out. I know I mentioned the works of Adam Rakunas, Elizabeth Bear's Karen Memory and Patrick S. Tomlinson.

On Saturday, I was part of the "Indie Publishing: Building Your Brand" panel. This was largely The Chris Kennedy Show as he was by far the biggest brand on the panel. I did learn of a site called Radio Guest List which is a way to get on podcasts.

Sunday's panel was "Them's Fighting Words: Writing Combat In Science Fiction." This was really just a romp of four authors talking about the challenges and fun of writing combat.

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Neepery

I got some writing done, and now need to clear my Daye Jobbe desk so I can go to Indy tomorrow for InConJunction. Posting will be light and variable.

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The Will To Succeed...

As a fan of University of Illinois basketball, I have decidedly mixed opinions on Bobby Knight, a long-time coach at rival Indiana University. However, he definitely was an effective coach, if you define "effective" as "winning basketball games."

Knight has been quoted as saying "The will to succeed is important, but what's more important is the will to prepare." In thinking of our government's response to Benghazi I was struck by how appropriate this quote was.

Reading through the report, I was struck by how ill-prepared pretty much everybody was. Quick-reaction units that took 6 hours to get mustered and didn't have transport. A shocking lack of knowledge by the military of what resources where on the ground or even where the key building were. The bottom line is that nobody prepared a response. When the shit hit the fan, everybody was improvising. We got lucky that only four people died that night.

Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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