Mandatory Sarah Palin Mention

Two days late, but, what the hell…here’s my take based on what I’ve read and seen in the last 48 hours.

The folks on the far right love her…which gives me pause.  I’m not a far right guy.  Someone who goes by the tag, “Social Conservative” makes me think of Gladys Kravitz, peeking out from behind her curtains, making decisions about how my life ought to be.

The folks on the far left hate her…this makes me smile.

She’s originally from Idaho, moved to Alaska, went to college in Idaho, and then went BACK to Alaska.  I understand that.  Idaho’s not as “civilized” as much of the U.S., but it’s not Alaska.  Anyone who chooses to live up there, has my respect.

She’s a babe, in a “naughty librarian” kind of way.  Yes, that’s simply testosterone talking, but hey, at my age, when it talks, I listen.

I’m not  thrilled that she’s been accused of trying to get her ex brother in law fired and then fired the guy who wouldn’t fire the brother in law.  There’s an, “Off with their heads!” feel to that.  Is the McCain camp THAT sure that she didn’t do anything wrong?

The experience thing.  We’ve had experienced people in office before and I haven’t been impressed.  I don’t think the Presidency or Vice Presidency should be held “professional” politicians.  Quite honestly, I’m against professional politicians out of sheer orneriness (sic).

I’ve heard that her huband and son aren’t Republicans, they’re independents.  I think that’s simply amazing and it’s definitely a plus.

A couple women I work with are poli-sci majors and they think McCain has given the race away.  “No WAY a woman should be the VP with a President who’s THAT old.  Americans won’t have it!”  Hmmm, makes me want to vote for MCain just to prove them wrong.

I’m not voting for either candidate based on their Veep pick, but I’m with Mom…pass the popcorn, this has finally become interesting.

Cone of Uncertainty?

That’s what they’re calling the graphic for Gustav’s possible landfall.

I’m sorry…something that serious shouldn’t sound like something Maxwell Smart would work with.

Thoughts from the Deep Archives

I wrote an essay a good few years ago- alas now it is lost in the old MT archive and backed up on floppy disc, and my new computer does not have a floppy drive so I can’t pull it up- the long and thoughtful exploration of how I used to be a feminist. A small-f feminist, who slowly and gradually began to realize that the capital-F feminists were painting themselves into a corner.

Reading through MS Magazine, as I did devotedly during the years that I was in active service, the message became clearer and clearer: you weren’t really counted as a (large capital) feminist in good standing unless you were a vegetarian-pagan-lesbian-single-parent-of-color-employed-by-a-university-and-serious-victim-of-the-patriarchy, and also eschewed leg and armpit shaving and makeup into the bargain – and if you had the misfortune to be white and middle class, better get down and do a lot of groveling apologies for it.

The mainstream, capital-F feminists seemed so angry, so hurt in a myriad of different ways that I honestly did not feel. I was a military woman, and a single parent, but when I looked at it honestly, the patriarchy just did not seem to be opressing me that much. I had a rewarding career, interesting hobbies, a rewarding family life, a home and an income of my own. So I came to an inevitable and logical conclusion:

… maybe I am a post-feminist; holding to only a few simple strictures for organising women’s lives. The same access to educational opportunities, to be judged in the classroom and the job by the same standards, and to be paid the same for the same work. Arrange anything else – your child-bearing schedule, your profession, and your living arrangements in the manner which brings you and yours blessings and happiness. Anything more is just quibbling over special interests.

Now and again, I detected an undercurrent of similiar sentiments; even Naomi Wolf seemed to get the point when she wrote “Fire With Fire“, which seemed to chide activist women for clinging too tightly to the victim status and the enforcement of groupthink, rather than reaching out and freely excercising the power and authority which they of-times seemed reluctant to acknowledge… and of genuinely acknowledging that women were honestly and genuinely of varying religious, social and political beliefs.

So, the National Organization of Women has now proved my own point, as well as the one that Naomi Wolf was trying to make, in their descision to turn up their nose at Sarah Palin. Oh my – if you aren’t the right sort of feminist, never mind about your other qualifications or your chances to be elected to anything.

Sort of sad, really. NOW used to stand for something, to stand up for all women… not just those who met the rigorously-enforced checklist of acceptable attributes and opinions.

(Link found at Tim Blair)

I’m a Bad Person…I Know This

I’d really love to see Gustav completely destroy New Orleans so they have to start over, someplace new, someplace ABOVE sea-level and just quit fighting Mother Nature.

I live by the maxim that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

Rebuilding New Orleans again is insane and I seriously don’t want to know how much of my tax money is going to go into the effort.

John McCain – You Magnificent Bastard!

So, late to the blog-reaction party, being out and about this morning, in my some-time employer’s high-off-the-ground bright yellow jeep with the ranch advertising etched on the windows, collecting my paycheck from the Large Corporate Entity and buying groceries. I had the classical music station on, which didn’t go to a newsbreak that I heard for most of the morning… eh, it was the same with 9-11. I wasn’t aware for hours.

But upon returning to the house… and wow! Talk about getting inside the Obamanation’s decision loop. Or as they say in chess parlance, ‘check’. That strange whistling sound must be that of the air rushing out of whatever room that the Obama-Biden campaign is strategizing in. Tell me, who the hell made speeches last night? There were some speeches last night at the Democratic convention, weren’t there? This is such a true maverick move. I can’t stop chortling. Somewhere, Hilary Clinton must be shredding that orange pantsuit, snarling “Mine! It should have been mine!” and making life hell for whoever is with her. In a truly just world, that would be Mr. Bill, ex-prez and aficionado of young interns.

Picking Sarah Palin for the VP slot – youngish, sharp, attractive, female, with administrative experience as a mayor and governor, mother of children, blue-collar husband, soldier son, another political maverick – oh, a Veep candidate who is proof against the arrows and slings of the hard-core Kossacks. They can’t chuck stones at her without having them rebound on them tenfold! Honestly, the only way she could be made more critic-proof would be if she were black or mixed race, spoke Spanish as her first language and was a lesbian – admittedly that last would be hard to square with the marriage and five children.

Oh, man – this campaign has just all of a sudden gotten fun. Break out the popcorn, now we are all paying attention. To loosely quote J.P Rourke, “Old age and treachery beat out youth, speed and a bad haircut.”

Later – more from the peerless Iowahawk, waxing homeric.

Things Not Allowed in Invesco Field Tonight

Proof…proof I tell you that the DNC is un-American!

Here’s the list of items that won’t be allowed into Invesco Field for Barack Obama’s acceptance speech:

From the Rocky Mountain News:

Outside food and beverage of any kind, including alcoholic beverages, coolers and bottled water

Umbrellas

Large bags, suitcases or backpacks

Noisemakers, air horns, whistles, cowbells (???!!!), horns, bull horns or other voice enhancement devices.

Signs, banners, flags or any other items that would either obstruct the view of a patron or serve as a security risk

Any and all unauthorized merchandise, including unapproved pamphlets, handouts, advertisements, etc.

Knives of any size, razor blades or sharp or pointed objects like scissors and knitting needles

Mace, pepper spray or aerosol containers

Fireworks

Weapons of any kind, including toy weapons, or any article that might be used as a weapon or compromise public safety.

Canes that aren’t used for medical reasons, chains, or sticks of any length

Screwdrivers or Leatherman brand or similar tools

Dangerous or hazardous items or materials including chemical, biological, radiological agents

Animals (except service dogs and guide dogs)

Folding chairs

Laser devices

Tripods

Bikes, inline skates, skateboards, scooters, shoes with wheels

Illegal drugs and any other illegal substances

Frisbees or inflated balls of any kind.

Do you see that?  NO COWBELLS.  Proof that they’re a bunch of commies!

Which just goes to show that Chris Muir is actually more topical than I thought…actually, I’m wondering if he’s more topical than HE thought.

On a side note, did you SEE the stage.  Designed, and I shit you not, by the same guy who designed Britney Spears’ stage for her last tour.  You can’t make this shit up.  I swear this guy wants to give it away.

I’m Liking This “Work” Thing

So one of the guys I work with quit unexpectedly yesterday.  He’d given his two week notice on Monday after he’d complained about getting more duties without more pay and then when he came in yesterday, 15 minutes late because  they weren’t willing to accommodate his “need” of coming in and leaving a half an hour earlier than the rest of us because of heavy traffic…he quit.  Ummmm, isn’t that called “rush hour” and doesn’t the rest of the world live with it every day?

I don’t remember the last time I saw someone just “quit” a job.  Here before lunch, gone after.  Didn’t say I word to me…who’s getting all of his duties plus my own.  Quite honestly, I’m still kinda bored.  I don’t see where he was working all that hard, but he’s older than me and has a disability, not one that I can see effects his ability to do office work, but what do I know about his life?

Thank you United States Air Force.  Where other folks see too much work, I just see a quiet, normal day…kinda boring.

I used to say that the Air Force was the easiest job I ever had after being a drug store clerk, mover, roofer, tin man, bartender and a photo lab chemical engineer…not to mention the very few acting and other theatrical paying gigs I had.   Everyone’s asking me if I’m “okay.”  I keep telling them that most of the time in the Air Force I walked into an office weeks, if not months, after the person I was replacing had left.  I’m fine…really…no worries.  If I can’t handle it, I’ll let you know.

I want to giggle like a fool when they ask how I’m doing.  Seriously.  After a year in a call center taking up from 60-100 calls a night, making LESS than I’m making now, this job seems like an absolute breeze.  It helps that I’ve been doing this kind of work for 23 years.  It helps that I don’t have a list of additional duties a mile long to go with them.  The guy who runs the facility is also the safety and security guy.  The IT guy actually shows up, and I’m not kidding, within 10 minutes after calling him!  I KNOW!

So I’m getting an education in the civilian work force…I’ve already learned they can just fire you, even when you admit you’ve messed up, and you really can just up and quit without any notice.

Question for you all…should I just keep taking on more work until I’m comfortable, Air Force style, or should I pad my limit a bit?  I’m not sure I even know how to do that, but thought I’d ask.

Wednesday Miscellany

Honestly, I have tried to take an interest in the Democratic National Convention shenanigans, including the imminent coronation of the One True Anointed Savior, our Lord Obama, hailed and attended by his loving spouse (WTF? She who now channels Mrs. Cleaver), his prospective running mate, Joe “For the Love of God, Put a Sock In it!” Biden, and protected by his worshipful phalanx of minions, the national and international press. As I had assumed previously, most of them are so far into the tank for him that they need a deep-sea diving suit with an iron helmet and a crew in a boat above, keeping the air supply pump going.

So Hillary Clinton came out, probably grinding her teeth inaudibly, and made like a good sport – all props for political graciousness and thinking long. We have probably not heard the last of her, but I wish I could say the same of the orange pantsuit. Yeesh! What was that all about – is there a subtle message being sent, by wearing something a color reminiscent of prisoner jumpsuits?

Recreate ’68… oh, talk about bad ideas that just won’t f***ing die already. The antics at the 1968 convention as good as handed that election to Richard Nixon, remember? And the street theater/riots outside the convention in the streets of Chicago did not play very well with the rest of the country, for as much jolly good fun as they might have been for the participants. They used to say that if you could remember the 60s, then you must have not been there where it was all happening, man. Does that mean that if you were there in the 60s, than you can’t remember anything about them, except for the sex, drugs and rock and roll? Must be, I guess.

This last weekend NPR was drooling all over the sweet, sweet memories of 1968, with special and lavish attention to a visit to Vietnam and a pilgrimage to the site of the My Lai massacre. Sweet Jumping Jesus on a Pogo Stick, from the way they flog the bones of that particular deceased equine, you’d have thought that was the only event of significance which ever happened in Vietnam during the last half of the last century. There’s barely a word about anything else; just now and eternal My Lai. I think the Vietnamese Tourist board must have a special package tour for NPR and Pacifica Radio broadcasters. Straight from the airport to the memorial, with a special bonus package added to interview a survivor through the usual interpreter.

And speaking of history and eternal subjects and interviews – what is it with Dr. Zahi Hawass and being on every damn History Channel documentary about ‘fill in the blank’ of Ancient Egypt. Yeah, I know that he is secretary general of the supreme council of antiquities, but by the Holy Tomb of Saint Helena Rubenstein, the Patron Saint of Makeup Artists, couldn’t he step aside once in a while and let someone else soak up some air time? I deeply believe that the most dangerous place in Egypt these days must be anywhere between Dr. Hawass and a documentary producer’s TV camera.

Well, that’s about it… except that final editing is ongoing on the final book of the “Adelsverein Trilogy” is proceeding apace, I have not yet run screaming from the current regular employer’s phone bank where I take hotel reservations three afternoons a week, I am building a shiny new and modern website for my other prospective employer, the Small Local Publisher.

And just this very morning, I decided what the new writing project will be. Another trilogy, set on the 19th century frontier. Notes and research to commence at once. It will incorporate some of the minor characters from “Adelsverein”, but be entirely independent from that trilogy and tell entirely new stories. I can hardly wait…

You Know What Would Be Cool?

If Hillary just lost it tonight and said, “F*** this for the good of the party s***, let’s rumble!”

Some sort of bomb has to fall soon, this political season is getting boring.  I thoroughly expected some sort of stink would have blown into the mix by now.

Of course there’s the ad that Obama’s folks are getting all Chicago Old School about.  It’s all over the right wing blogs, but I can’t believe that it’s not getting more mainstream coverage.

About the Spam Filter

If you’ve added a comment and it doesn’t show up right away, don’t worry, we moderate our comments via a Spam Filter.  However, if you’ve added a comment and you don’t see it for more than about six hours, eight max, that may mean that when we scanned the hundred or so advertisements for everything from Viagra to porn acts that even bewilders and/or disgusts ME, we may have missed your real, not spam comment.  We’re sorry, but sometimes we do get overwhelmed by the plethora of spam and miss your remark.  It’s not personal, and we really don’t censor anything that’s not advertising.

For spammers.  Hey, if you want us to put up an ad…ASK!  Oh…and pay for it…this is an American site…we’re all capitalists here.

Obama/Biden???

Really?!!  I don’t think I could be LESS excited.  Okay, I could have been less excited.  He could have picked some nobody that no one had ever heard of outside of their state.

I don’t know much about Biden other than a bit about how he plagiarized something back in 87, and then again in law school…which, when you look back on the news of an Obama speech last winter, kind of makes sense.  On the other hand, I know I’ve heard a lot about how Biden is strong on foreign affairs so that’s going to help fill in some of Obamas gaps.  Sort of like how Dick Cheney filled in Presidents Bush’s gaps on…oh I can’t type a list that long, you know what I mean, and you know how well THAT worked out.

Well, that makes November easier.  Even if McCain picks Lieberman, which I think personally think is a great ticket, I believe McCain is going to just keep on crawling up and up and up the polls.  Not because anyone really wants him as President, just because he’s “mostly harmless” in a Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy sort of way.

You May Obliterate Bands You Hate

If you could erase any five bands/artists from music history, who would you choose?

Difficulty: “but if you erased (insert band here) then all your favorite bands wouldn’t exist” is not a valid answer. We’re talking fantasy here.

My answers were:

I’m going to try and cover one band from each of the last five decades. There are really too many to keep it down to five, but…

60s: The Beatles. I can listen to them now without retching, just barely.

70s: Bread. Seriously…the sound of David Gates’ voice will cause me to twitch.

80s: Toto. Was almost Metallica because when they first came out I seriously thought they were a parody band, but then I remembered “Rosanna.”

90s: DMB. I’ve been mostly clean and sober since 1988 with some relapses. Been good since 2000. I’m told that’s why I don’t like them.

00s: Nickelback. Actually, I kind of like most of the music of this decade…this one was hard. And though they technically were around in the 90s, I didn’t start to loathe them until the radio started playing them so freaking much.

Stolen from Michele at A Big Victory.

An Arthurs Life

I worked at home entirely today, for almost the first time since the beginning of the month. Was that only three weeks ago? Guess it was. Time does fly, when you are having fun. Or working your ass off.

I had to face the inevitable evil and go back to work for a corporate giant – but only part-time, and only for as long as it takes for assorted writing projects to begin bearing fruit. Not all of those writing projects are my own – that is to say, my “Truckee Trail” book and the “Adelsverein Trilogy” in which I repose so much hope. I have also begun working on various projects for the proprietor of a local publishing company. She is a lady of certain years and considerable skills as an editor, locally very well connected… but of an age to where a bit of slowing down is expected and encouraged. Her dearly beloved husband died in March, about two weeks before my friend Dave the Computer Genius, whose client she also was. Dave was always on about how I should connect up with her, as we had so many interests in common and so many complimentary skills. He had an appointment with her the very week that he passed on himself, and had promised that he would set up a meeting of sorts for the two of us. Of course, such a meeting did not happen at that time, and perhaps it was for the best.

I finally took it up when I began looking for regular and reliably-paying employment again, and called her. We hit it off, and I am accepted more or less joyfully as a fellow scribbler… but I have to generate some business first. And come up with some ideas for a redesign of the website. And figure out some marketing strategies. And show her how to download attachments into a file… The nice thing about working for her is that I can do most of this at home. If things come about as we both hope, I will be able to do research and writing on various of her company projects as will pay as much per hour or more as the Reliable Corporate Entity.

Ah, yes, the Reliable Corporate Entity. I will say no names, although anyone so inclined and with specific or local knowledge can probably make an accurate guess. It’s a call center, within a short distance of Chez Sgt. Mom, which pays a fairly acceptable hourly wage for reliable workers. Of course, they are generous about considering employing anyone warm, breathing and able to speak more or less coherently, which assures an eclectic assembly in the company break room at any hour of the day or night. The varied range across socioeconomic, and ethnic classes within in the employee force, is of such breadth as I have not encountered since basic military training. That particular experience was limited only to those within a certain age and fitness capability – the Reliable Corporate Entity provides a much broader spectrum of humanity; reentering housewives, laid-off corporate drones, feckless college students, wastrels of every conceivable stripe, a fair sprinkling of military veterans of every possible vintage, bored senior citizens, single parents (an astonishingly large number of them, actually) in search of flexible hours and a salary which is several degrees above minimum wage and in a safe neighborhood.

We take incoming calls for hotel reservations – which is not too bad, as these things go. The clients are happy and accommodating, they are looking forward to a bit of a holiday – and we have the power to expedite that for them. The only hard part is that we are expected to do a free-form and personalized sales pitch based upon artlessly whipped-up-on-the-moment conversation about the various delights offered at this destination, at the very same time as we do a fairly complicated bit of data entry. And we must perform both of those duties flawlessly and in record time. Eh… I am already setting up a short-timer calendar. I will last at this until January. I will last at this until January.

I am buoyed by consideration of my books. Today, I received my copy of the final print version of “Adelsverein: The Sowing”. This is the volume which takes the story of the Beckers and the Steinmetzes and the Richters through the Civil War… the episode that I had the most worries over, because I ventured onto so much unexplored and unverified territory… but there it is; blessed by a good editor and a local historian.

December – I am living until December, all the hours that I spend at The Reliable Corporate Entity. Every hour, every paycheck, are spent and collected with a purpose. Every reservation I set and minute that I spend with a client looking to spend their holiday hours beside the sea – those times bring me closer to being a ‘real Arthur’ and making my living with words. Written words, not just spoken words.

PO2 Mike Monsoor

PO2 Mike Monsoor has been written about by Froggy over at Blackfive, here and here.  But what a lot of people don’t know is what happened at his funeral.  I received the news via an email from a friend of mine, confirmed by SNOPES.  If I do a Google search on the PO2, I only find the story from Milnet in Canada!

PO2 Mike Monsoor was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor
posthumously for jumping on a grenade in Iraq, giving his life to save
his fellow SEALs.

During Mike Monsoor’s funeral in San Diego, as his coffin was being
moved from the hearse to the grave site at Ft. Rosecrans National
Cemetery, SEALs were lined up on both sides of the pallbearers route
forming a column of two’s, with the coffin moving up the center.

As Mike’s coffin passed, each SEAL, having removed his gold Trident from
his uniform, slapped it down embedding the Trident in the wooden coffin.

The slaps were audible from across the cemetery; by the time the coffin
arrived grave side, it looked as though it had a gold inlay from all the
Tridents pinned to it.  This was a fitting send-off for a warrior hero.

Rather than bitch that no one has given this story the attention it deserves, I thought I’d actually get it out here.  I know we don’t get the hits other folks do, but hopefully one of the big boys will pick it up.  They may have already and I missed it, but just in case, I wanted to be sure.

Further Adventures in Book Publishing

The adventure continues, with final approval of the text and cover for Book 2 of Adeslverein, (AKA The Civil War Years). Two down and one to go! Mike at Strider Nolan (the publisher of record) is editing the final volume. When that is done, all I need do is review it, and the final cover… wait for the printed version to come in the mail, and there we are… nothing much to do until December, except continue scrounging for reviews. This time around, because I have delayed final release of all three volumes until December, I can appeal for reviews from print venues which prefer to do reviews beforehand. As I discovered last year with “Truckee” it takes anywhere from a month to six months to squeeze a review out of some venues. Ideally, the reviews appear around about the time that the books will be available. It’s still very much a crap-shoot, though. A couple of months ago, another IAG member who was a subsidy publisher, pointed out that getting one single review for every four review copies sent out was a pretty good return on the investment.

I was startled to find that out, actually. I’ve been doing reviews for a while, for Blogger News. My thought was, if I have the book in hand, and I have asked for it… well, then I am pretty well committed to doing the review. I only ask for books that I am semi-interested in reading anyway, so it’s not like this is an insurmountable chore. It does appear that there are all sorts of scope for interestingly shadowy dealings in the review gig. The first of them is that the main print review producers – the Mt. Everests of the literary scene, like the New York Times Book Review- receive simply tons of free review copies of books every week. There is only space for a tiny fraction of them to be read and reviewed, so the excess are mostly donated to various worthy causes. I am given to understand that most of the other reputable reviewers do likewise. For a writer, sending out review copies is a gamble anyway. Not quite up there with playing the lottery, but pretty darned close. You have to put the book out there, one way or another. Many of the mainstream literary review publications don’t do publish-on-demand books (the snotty SOB’s!) so those of us who have done small press or independently published books have to go to the second tier review sites, of which there are any number, in response to demand. Some of these sites and reviewers are reputable and discriminating; those are the ones that are as exacting in their requirements as any of the mainline published reviewers. Some are not; but all of them depend on volunteer reviewers, even if it is only a review as basic as one posted on Amazon.com. This is one of them - for which I do reviews, also.

By volunteer, I mean that like me – they usually like books and reading. Getting sent any number of freshly-minted books that you didn’t pay for is still a bit of a tiny thrill to me and I would presume for many of the other volunteers. Strictly speaking, that is how we are paid – with a free copy of a book. After we post the review, we can do whatever we like with it; put it on our own shelves, donate to a local library, school or hospital, trot down to Half-Price Books, put it on E-bay, whatever. From a discussion in the IAG forum last week, it does appear that a certain degree of corruption as tiptoed into this arrangement. That is, reviewers trolling in the pools of small-press and POD authors, offering reviews and requesting book copies… and then either producing a very cursory review with a five-star rating, such as might be dashed off by reading the back cover or the accompanying publicity materials, and then offering the book for sale on E-bay or some such. Sometimes a review copy is even offered in the “used” section of the Amazon listing, in competition with a new version! Or even worse, no review at all. This has some of the IAG members fit to be tied; not only does the cost of review copies comes out of our pocket, but every sale of a new copy of our book is precious, as our sales stats inch ever higher. Some of us are considering stamping “review copy” in a couple of places in the interior margins, but for now, naming and shaming those particular review sites and reviewers is enough. In the meantime, treat short, glowing but 5-star reviews with extreme suspicion. Especially if the reviewer does a lot of reviews; I’m doing good if I can read half a dozen books in a month and pound out 300-plus words, but then I have a life, two jobs and another book to finish.

Employed!

It seems that the job I applied for with a local government agency and interviewed for a couple of weeks ago came through.  I hadn’t heard from them after they’d asked for more info for a background check, so I’d half written them off.  I’ll be starting work on Tuesday.  Not a lot of high tech, mostly executive level Admin Support, but it pays better than the wireless telecom and I don’t have to sit around with a headset on all day listening to pissed off customers.

AF Cyber Command “Delayed”

According to the front page of the Air Force Cyber Command’s Website:

8/14/2008 - Barksdale AFB, La.  – The Air Force remains committed to providing full-spectrum cyber capabilities to include global command and control, electronic warfare and network defense. The Secretary and Chief of Staff of the Air Force have considered delaying currently planned actions on Air Force Cyber Command to allow ample time for a comprehensive assessment of all AFCYBER requirements and to synchronize the AFCYBER mission with other key Air Force initiatives. The new Air Force leaders continue to make a fresh assessment of all our efforts to provide our Nation and the joint force the full spectrum of air, space, and cyberspace capabilities.

Which makes sooooo much sense considering that the military doesn’t have a cohesive all-around cyber defense policy.  Seriously, cyber security measures can change literally from base to base.  What drives those measures?  You would think it would be a standard set of security practices applied to all and you’d be somewhat correct.  However, what you also have to take into account is that almost every base has a different contract company taking care of their network  security measures.  Those measures may be based on what the contractor is willing and able to do for the price that the military is willing to pay.  On some bases, you may have three to five different companies taking care of the various networks depending on the security level of the network.  Not only is the security level dependent on the classification of the material on the network, but it’s also dependent, again, on the capability of the contractors.

I remember getting a call when I was in NORAD/USSPACE from a flag officer and he needed me to come over and help him with one of his computers.  Since that part of the network wasn’t “owned” by NORAD/USSPACE, I literally was not allowed to help him.  I simply didn’t have permissions for that side of the network.  I  had to file a help desk ticket for him which, according to contract, allowed up to 3 business days before it was addressed.  Since he WAS a flag officer, the contractor did put a rush on it, but still.

I’ve been against the privatizing of the military’s networks since they started.  Okay, so you don’t have to pay contractors retirement benefits and all the other baggage that comes along with a military person’s life, but if you don’t write the contracts correctly, the military can wind up needing a task completed by the contractor that’s not in the contract and you can’t force them to complete that task without amending the contract which would also mean, MORE money.  That’s right, when a new task is added for any reason to a contract network admin or techie’s tasks, they may not HAVE to do it until the contract is reviewed to see if it falls under the contractor’s “scope of support.”  And because only contractors can touch the network on some bases, folks in uniform can’t complete the task either.  And since we’ve slashed the living shit out of the military’s network specialists in favor of contractors, we don’t have them to utilize anyway.

Which, if I’m being cynical, leads me to believe that someone has finally realized that having a cohesive policy across all the networks that the Air Force “controls” means that every single one of those contracts is going to have to be rewritten and I’m betting that some Senior NCO and their team has done the legwork and given General Lord and his bosses the cost analysis for those new contracts and someone with power of the purse-strings has crapped their drawers when the reality of what a workable, cohesive, policy is going to cost.

That’s if I was being cynical.  It could just mean that what we’ve got is working just fine and there’s no need for a cyber command in the first place…and I swear to you I typed that with a straight face…after three tries.

Thanks to He Who Needs No Linkage for the tip.

You want to know the funniesnt thing for me about all this?  I’ve got interviews with two contractors in the next week for jobs supporting the military’s network.  I hope the question, “What’s your opinion about privatization?” doesn’t come up and I hope to hell I’ve got the good sense to lie about it if it does.  I need a job.

Bring the popcorn – LOTS of popcorn…

While I’m not a fan of watching political conventions on TV (roughly the same to me, as watching golf, or paint dry, or grass grow), the Democratic convention just gets curiouser and curiouser.

Most recent development: Her once-inevitableness will be ON the ballot.

WASHINGTON – Hillary Rodham Clinton’s name will be placed in nomination along with nominee-in-waiting Barack Obama at the Democratic convention in Denver, an emblematic move intended to unite the party after a divisive primary fight.

Democrats will officially nominate Obama at the convention but the state delegations will do a traditional roll call for his vanquished opponent as well.

If I were a schemer, I’d be scheming for ways to use that roll call to upset the apple cart.

These are interesting times for the Democratic party, my friends. Interesting times….

Memo: Telling Stories

To: Professor Denise Spelburg,
From: Sgt Mom
Re: Clarifying Matters Literary and Beyond

1. According to the story here (which may need registration to complete the link – sorry!) you are painting yourself in colors of victimhood, now that you are being righteously criticized on line and have received a ton of so-called hate-mail, for your part on kicking up an all-mighty fuss about a bodice-ripping historical novel about the youngest wife of Mohammed. (Or would that be a burka-ripping historical novel?) Welcome to the real world, professor… it’s that place that extends somewhat beyond academia, where reactions to words and ideas can sometimes get wild and woolly.

2. In this real world, we have writers – sort of like myself, as a matter of fact – who like to tell stories to people, sometimes quite lengthy stories based on historical characters, facts and incidents. This is a whole genre out there, loosely known as “historical fiction”. At one extreme, the best of them are carefully researched and stray no farther from verifiable and researched historical fact than anyone in your own university department. Then there is the other extreme, in which practically anything goes. In either case the operative word is “fiction”… which means, my dear Professor… that stuff is made up. Created out of whole cloth. Imagined. Clear so far on that concept?

3. At least, you are well-enough acquainted with enough of that world to know that provoking the adherents the so-called religion of peace can have occasionally fatal consequences. I am cynically amused to note that in your academic world Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses” is worthy of defending against threats of violence because he can, according to the story “…claim he was raising an existential, theological query, however impertinent. Jones’ book is a mere burlesque.”

4. Ahh, we see – some ideas and authors are more equal than others. A piece of light and fluffy historical fiction is not worthy of the protections afforded to the heavyweights of the intellectual world. Duly noted, Professor. You are a self-important snob, as well as being a tattle-tale and a bit of a coward. If doing a nice little blurb for “The Jewel of Medina” was beneath the dignity of a heavy-weight intellectual and scholar such as yourself, then wouldn’t a polite note to the management at Random House, declining to comment have been sufficient, with or without the back-up from your lawyer. You didn’t want your name and credentials attached to Ms. Jones’s book in any way. I – and hardly anyone else has a problem with that.

5. The breathless warning to your friend at the altmuslim discussion group was in the long term, neither helpful or necessary. In fact, it seems rather malicious; “Ohhh, she is talking such trash about you… and what are you going to do about it?” is the way that it comes off to those of us who remember junior high school pretty well. Professor, we didn’t like that kind of nasty, passive-aggressive manipulation then, and we like it even less now. Perhaps that is how the game is still played in academia these days – but again, in the real world, it doesn’t go over well. Take note.

6. Finally, I can’t help wondering if this is a little bit of unseemly possessiveness about the subject on your part. I would assume that you have a great deal invested in your visualization of Aisha, and did not take very well to another writer picturing something different. There is one other historical researcher who has done a great deal on the Stephens Townsend Party, the subject of my own historical novel. I got a very odd, hostile vibe from him, when I communicated with him – it was as if their story was his exclusive property and I was trespassing on it by imagining something different. I am grateful that I did not ask that particular researcher for a blurb for Truckee – at least he did not sic the forces of the Oregon-California Trail Association on me for my trouble!

7. I do think Ms. Jones ought to be grateful to you, however. “Jewel of Medina” will now probably sell in quantities several times over what it would have, if you had just quietly given a pass on blurbing it to begin with.

Hoping you will find these remarks helpful
I remain the unrepentant scribbler of historical fiction,

Sgt Mom

Still Here, Still Busy

(I am still here, just frantically busy – for your amusement and delectation, a story sent to me by another IAG writer)

A Texas rancher got in his pickup and drove to a neighboring ranch and knocked at the door. A young boy, about 9, opened the door.

“Yer Dad home?’ the rancher asked.

‘No sir, he ain’t,’ the boy replied. ‘He went into town.”

“Well,” said the rancher, ‘is yer Mom here?’

“No, sir, she ain’t here neither. She went into town with Dad.”

“How about your brother, Howard? Is he here?”

“He went with Mom and Dad.”

The rancher stood there for a few minutes, shifting from one foot to the other and mumbling to himself.

“Is there anything I can do fer ya?” the boy asked politely. “I knows where all the tools are, if you want to borry one. Or maybe I could take a message fer Dad.”

“Well,” said the rancher uncomfortably, “I really wanted to talk to yer Dad. It’s about your brother, Howard, getting my daughter, Pearly Mae, pregnant.”

The boy considered for a moment “You would have to talk to Pa about that,” he finally conceded. “If it helps you any, I know that Pa charges $50 for the bull and $25 for the boar, but I really don’t know how much he gets fer Howard.”