Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Defense on offense. The Department of Defense has a new webpage that is kind of bloggy in nature called "For the Record." The page's mission seems to be disputing factual and opinion claims from the larger media about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Good for the Defense Department. Whatever we might think of the war or the way it is being waged, it is a good thing for there to be a place where those who are waging the war can respond openly and clearly to criticisms.

Spread the word, and let's hope they keep it up.

What I've been reading. Among the books I've been reading is a collection of fantasy short stories by Robert Heinlein. Included among those stories is "--And He Built a Crooked House," which originally appeared in print in 1940. The story begins thusly:

Americans are considered crazy anywhere in the world.

They will usually concede a basis for the accusation but point to California as the focus of the infection.
A reminder of an ever growing tradition, lest our friends on the west coast get too excited about their dairy proficiency.

I'm just getting started on Heinlein--in addition to this collection, I've also read The Green Hills of Earth and the fantastic Starship Troopers--and I have already learned that Heinlein had a relentlessly creative mind. But more than that, he was an excellent writer, which is not always the case for science fiction and fantasy.
One "how times have changed" observation from his work: he can't get away from smoking. Just about all of his stories are set in the future from the mid-twentieth century, and no matter how far forward he goes, the people smoke. They smoke indoors, they smoke in spaceships, there is even a story that directly talks about disgarding ashes in a weightless environment. For Heinlein, smoking is almost a writing tick that he can't help but use in describing a scene.

A blogger sat at his desk, hidden among stacks of books and loose papers, a cigarette smoldering in a metal ashtray next to the keyboard. He took a drag and pretended he could write fiction.

I wonder what little things are accepted parts of our everyday life, but will be gone or very different in fifty years.

Another example. Yesterday Ren and I watched football all afternoon on the DIRECTV NFL Ticket. We also ate about three pounds of glorious spinach dip.

Last week, when I wrote my entry about the chili party, I was grasping for some description of the size and shape of the possum in the cornbread. I eventually concluded that the critter was about the size of a pumpernickel round. Which, inevitably, got me thinking about eating pumpernickel, which got me thinking about using the pumpernickel to scoop up some sort of tasty sauce or dip. Which got me thinking about my friend JD's spinach dip, a staple at many gatherings in Athens, Ohio. But ever since a couple years ago when JD moved to the northwest to run around in the rain and get chased by Big Foot, I haven't had the spinach dip.

Later that day, JD sent me an email to congratulate my work on Cleveland '64 that clearly convinced the Browns to get rid of Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon. JD also let me know that the hard copies of my little book--which had previously been available electronically online, but now are available for purchase from the Government Printing Office, Amazon, or for free to government or education addresses at this webpage--had arrived at his work.

I took the opportunity to ask JD by email for his spinach dip recipe, and he kindly obliged. And Ren and I watched football all afternoon yesterday and ate about three pounds of dip out of a possum-sized pumpernickel round.

Now did any science fiction writer predict the internet and the way it would change all our lives?

Finally, this has no redeeming qualities. It is profane, disgusting, offensive, and terrible. So of course I pass it on to you, my dear friends. (Thanks to Cliopatria for the tip.)

See you later.


Anonymous said...

Dr. Bruscino,
Thanks for the link to the defense department. Have you seen Max Boot's "War Made New?" Lastly, how does a guy get a copy of your article on border insurgencies? Thanks.

Tom said...


You are welcome.

I have not yet read Max Boot's new book, but I understand that he is coming to post sometime in the next week or so, so I will probably take a look then.

I'm confused--which article? Obviously the short book on borders and sanctuary is available in pdf form in the link in the post, and you can try to order a hard copy to a university address from the order form I linked above. You can also buy a copy from the GPO, if you are so inclined (full disclosure: I don't make a dime off of any sales of the thing). The only article I have on border issues is on the Army on the Mexican border in the 1910s, and it is under review by a journal but nowhere near publication.


Anonymous said...

I apologize for being vague. I did mean your short book about borders and sanctuary. Thank you for the link. I am going to try to order a hard copy though. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Went ahead a purchased a copy from the gpo. I probably saved money buying from the government. Printing costs at the university are outrageous.

greg said...

Thanks for the link to the DoD. Good site.