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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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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.

Benghazi!

The House Select Committee on Benghazi has released their final report. After much Strum und Drang, there's nothing there. Specifically:

1) Ambassador Stevens died before anybody could have done anything.
2) Nobody in any level of command issued a "stand down" order. The closest to such an order came from the CIA chief in Benghazi who may have had his team wait a couple of minutes while he was trying to get local help - help that the team leader wanted.

There were a few new items. First, the only military unit available to respond, a FAST platoon, was in Rota, Spain. That's 4 hours flying time to Benghazi. Alas, the unit doesn't have C-130s available - they have to come from Ramstein, Germany.

The unit commander testified that he saw TV news of a problem around midnight local time and started recalling his troops from liberty. He got the order to go to Libya at 2:39 AM local time. To be clear, Stephens had been dead for hours, the consulate had been overrun for hours, and the CIA annex had been attacked once by then. He'd already recalled his troops and were getting them packed up, but that's when he got the order. At 5:45 AM local time, FAST reported that they were ready to go.

They did not have a C-130, as Ramstein had not been ordered to send one. The general at Ramstein, also acting on TV news, had gotten some birds prepped. Yet the C-130s didn't arrive from Ramstein for another six (6) (!!!!!!) hours, and FAST spent several hours on the ground deciding whether or not to travel in civilian clothes and with what weapons.

What is clear to me from reading the report is a shocking lack of urgency in any of the military units involved, from the immediate reports of the Secretary of War on down to the European commanders. What was also clear to me was a very low, peacetime, level of readiness for a problem. Having said that, the fault seems to lie at the level of uniformed officers, not Clinton.

Independence Day and Donald Trump

Independence Day

Over the weekend, I went to my local indie drink & eat multiplex and watched Independence Day: The Quest for More Money for an Unneeded Sequel. Much like the original movie, stuff was Blown Up Real Good, Hollywood physics, geography and time was used liberally, and a rag-tag crew saved the day. (That last is not a real spoiler - this is a Hollywood movie.)

I did note, pace this review, that the movie made an extra effort to give all of the named characters a personal reason to fight. The idea that the aliens were just bad didn't seem enough motivation. The exception that proves this rule is Nicolas Wright's role as an accountant who gets pressed into service.

Donald Trump

James Fallows is reporting from Garden City, Kansas. This town played a minor role in a yet-to-be-published novel as a place the FBI stashed witnesses. Fallow's real interest in the town is that, were it not for heavy immigration from Mexico, Burma and other points, the place would dry up and wither away. In short, Trump's "Real America" or a significant part of the same actually likes immigration.

Friday, Later Than Usual

Today's post is later than usual due to a busy morning.

A) Having merely pointed at Scalzi's post yesterday on Brexit and saying "me too" let me today point at Scalzi's newest post on Brexit and say "me too."

B) Game of Thrones a TV show that I do not watch, had a big medieval battle scene in it. Various people are complaining of inaccuracies, including the idea that the cavalry (well, armored knights) arrive to save the day, unbeknownst to the Big Bad. I remind people that at Waterloo, Napoleon knew the Prussians were in the area and had detached a Corp to fend them off, yet the Prussian arrival forced his retreat.

C) Chuck Wendig talks about common sense gun control. I note the article primarily to point out that there is a divide in gun culture from "old school" (Chuck and I) and "new school." The new school types seem to want everybody to have a gun instantly to hand.

Four For Thursday

Four items of note, linked only in my mind:

Item The First

I have a guest post on the website SFF World entitled Where's My Flying Car? Readers may note that they could just as easily substitute "rocket" for "flying car" in the linked post.

Item The Second

John Scalzi has an opinion on the Brexit vote in the UK. It very closely mirrors mine.

Item The Third

From Slate, How the novel Frankenstein is really about climate change.

Item The Fourth

House Democrats are holding a sit-in to attempt a vote which would ban people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. I am somewhat ambivalent about this. On the one hand, if we're seriously concerned about these people, why in the hell would we let them buy a gun? On the other hand, heaven knows that this list is poorly-assembled at best. I think the bottom line is that the Republican's reluctance on this issue shows how non-serious they are about terrorism.

Complaint and Complement

Complaint

My feet are wide. This requires me to buy shoes that are sized "wide." This weekend I went looking for shoes, having worn out a favorite pair. (Literally - the upper was ripping away from the lower.) Two stores didn't stock any wides, one store had wide in one style only. I ended up ordering shoes online!

Compliment

A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to use Spothero to reserve a parking spot. Due to my error, the reservation card didn't work. Despite it being my error, I got a refund and a small credit!

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Free Stuff!





Goodreads Book Giveaway




The Mars Run by Christopher Gerrib




The Mars Run



by Christopher Gerrib





Giveaway ends July 05, 2016.



See the giveaway details
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Two Thoughts on Friday

Thought One - Annie Oakley

One of the things that gripes my ass are the Gun Store Experts who tell me that, had they been at the Shooting Of The Week, they would have dropped the Bad Dude. Maybe yes, maybe no...

Shots In The Dark, or, How I Became A Sharpshooter.

Thought Two - Thinking It Through

So, one of the things Trump and his supporters have been saying regarding Orlando is that we've been attacked and need to hit back. "It's an act of war!" So does that make the shooter a soldier? Who should we hit back at? I mean, our bombing of ISIS is what caused the shooter to go get a gun. If we're at war with Islam, then as this guy asks how exactly does a nation prosecute a war against a leaderless entity with multiple subgroups?

When one asks these questions of Trump and his supporters, one gets either an angry glare, vague platitudes or a repetition of the initial statement. One does not get actionable ideas.

"A Lie Gets Halfway Around The World..."

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," said Winston Churchill. Today's lie is that Sharia police are legally patrolling the streets of Germany.

Here's the truth. In September 2014, five German mooks (admittedly radical Islamists) put on red hi-vis vests with the English words "Sharia Police" on them and walked the streets of Wuppertal, a town in Germany. They made sure to get photographed doing so, and their "police activity" consisted of telling people to not go to bars.

Nobody over the age of five thought these mooks were police (the German police wear yellow hi-vis with the word "Polizei" on them, for starters) and they didn't try to arrest anybody. They were, in fact, arrested by the real police and charged. A lower court ruled in their favor but an appeals court ordered them tried. While all the legal wrangling was going on, our mooks were patrolling their gardens and living rooms.

It was, in short, a photo-op, staged to create a propaganda overreaction in English-speaking countries. It worked, thanks to the same pants-wetters running to vote for Donald Trump.

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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