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The Lost Cause

The tragedy in Charlottesville and ensuing cacophony has inspired me to offer my perspective of the history involved. The monuments in question, hundreds, even thousands of them, were erected by proponents of The Lost Cause narrative of the Civil War, a series of myths that sought to rationalize Southern suffering. The purpose of the monuments was to say, “We lost the war, but we will win the peace.” These edifices and their inscriptions were the work of local groups like the

Online discourse

I am being charitable in the term discourse. Recently I added a comment to a Youtube file, the audio of fire department radio transmissions following a spectacular gas explosion. I was critical of the commander’s conduct on the air, something I think I can do based on both my professional background and the fact that I am a tax payer in Seattle. I was quickly flamed by anonymous posters who not only disagreed that the commander’s conduct was inadequate, but castigated me for

Complete Sentences

In the cacophony that is the presidential campaign I have not seen any discussion how candidate Trump seems unable to formulate complete sentences and coherent paragraphs. His speeches and now his debate responses are more like a poetry slam than political discourse. It is interesting to transcribe the words and see how disorganized the communications are. Language is a function of thought and I have to conclude that such disorganization is a reflection not just of Mr. Trump’

My First Podcast

I was honored to be interviewed on the Writers Groupie podcast. I moved my desk around so that my bookcase was in the background and I raised my desk to the standing position. #writing #history #podcasts #Publishing #novels #criticism #video #books #fiction

True Detective

This HBO series started last year starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConnaughey as a couple of detectives in bayou country investigating serial killings despite their own psychoses. Season 2 is set in southern California in the corrupt industrial enclave mirroring City of Industry. Three cops from different agencies with huge amounts of personal baggage are assigned to a grisly murder linked to a major corruption case and some multi-billion dollar transit scam. The cops a

Ashland

For the first time in about ten years, we visited Ashland, Oregon and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. We enjoyed two Shakespeare plays, a musical by Steven Sondheim, and a dramatization of Lyndon Johnson’s struggles between civil rights, The Great Society, and the Vietnam War. Ashland is a wonderful setting for attending plays, shopping, eating, and relaxing. We “discovered” Ashland in 1973 when Lorraine had a business trip here in connection with her insurance career. I tag

Twitter and Crimea

I learned how to follow topics with the use of hashtags. In this case #Crimea will bring up every tweet involving the crisis between Russia and Ukraine and there are thousands. The vast majority of tweets are from people who have no idea what is going on and just retweet retweets ad nauseum until there is no way of telling what is happening. They spent more time including hashtags in their tweets than they did thinking about their messages. Then there are the snarky comments

What are you listening to?

As posted here before, I have begun to explore audio books in addition to hard copy books and e-books. In the past month or two I have tried several audio history books, one about Winston Churchill. Kudos to the actor who reads the narrative for his ability to get into character for Churchill, Hitler, Franklin Roosevelt, and French, British, and American soldiers and politicians. No wonder audio books retail for more than the hard cover versions. There is a lot of talent goin

What are you reading? Hearing?

I usually have two books going at once, one a work of fiction and the other some kind of history book. With the Kindle I can have three or four going at once. I’ve been nibbling at the Memoirs of Ulysses Grant for more than a year, but that doesn’t count in the two. The basic Kindle has a limitation in history since maps don’t do well and maps are pretty important. The iPad* does maps better, but it’s not as convenient as the Kindle. The iPad is prettier, but heavier. The iPa

A funny thing happened to me on my way to the forum

One thing I like to do is participate in online forums (fora?). These are the discussion groups. Back in the early days of the Internet, before the World Wide Web (there is a difference), academics would keep in touch with each other’s scholarship on something called Usenet Newsgroups. These are the old soc.history.war type addresses. Sadly these venues atrophied as they were taken over by trolls and bots. Trolls are posters who purposely try to hijack and redirect a discussi

What are you reading? Steve Jobs

I am reading the biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson which I recommend from a number of viewpoints. First, it’s well researched and well written. Isaacson talked to dozens and probably hundreds of people and had the advantage of unlimited access to the subject himself. And Jobs was, at best, a difficult subject. Jobs picked Isaacson and then took his hands off the project. His only area of influence was the cover design and he was, reportedly, his typical butthead self

Another Voice

I recently published, via Amazon.com’s print-on-demand program Create Space, my historical novel Down The River. The story grew out of my family history research when I came across the murders of two of my ancestors in 1813 in an argument over slaves. I was taking writing classes through the University of California Extension in San Francisco and started playing with scene and setting and all the other techniques one needs to grasp. I landed upon the idea of telling the story

Published

My novel Down The River is now available through Amazon.com. A Kindle version will also be available soon. Buy it. Read it. Review it. Tell your friends. Here is a complete list of my other titles from Amazon. #writing #history #Publishing #novels #criticism #books

Captain – Not

More silliness. Although I will grant the U.S. Navy absolute discretion in who they appoint as captains of their warships I wonder if the recent relief of Captain Owen Honors as captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise is either wise as a principle of military leadership or a proper use of taxpayer dollars. Four years ago Honors was the Executive Officer (XO) of the Enterprise and while on deployment made a series of videos to bolster crew morale. Deployments on carriers last six mon

PC Huckleberry Finn

The news item about a publisher cleaning up Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to eliminate references to “the N-word” is both laughable and lamentable. The work is in the public domain so there are no copyright issues or control to be exerted by the author’s heirs so I suppose that the publisher is well within their rights to change the text in any way they like. They argue that this change will bring new readers to the work, as if Twain has been falling out of fashion. This is a

Video Lynchings

The recent kerfuffle over the dismissal of a civil servant who was framed by a doctored video underscores something I’ve believed for a long time: you can’t always trust the camera lens for the whole picture. In this last case someone boogered with the tape intending to embarrass the NAACP and ended up embarrassing the Obama White House. Here in Seattle we are in the middle of a couple of controversies over video taped police actions. Ever since the Rodney King thing salaciou

What are you going to wear?

Steve Sadis, the producer and my co-writer for The Power of Snoqualmie Falls informs me that the video has been nominated for an Emmy. The awards are June 5, 2010 at the Snoqualmie Casino. 6/7/2010 Alas, the Academy found Morocco to be more compelling than Snoqualmie Falls. But being nominated isn’t so bad. Like they say on the north side of Chicago, wait til next year. #history #television #movies #criticism #video #media

Readers

Yesterday, I drove to Portland to meet with a class of twelve university students who read and critiqued my historical novel Down The River. I received the opportunity from Ooligan Press at Portland State University who read the manuscript and liked it, but not quite enough to publish it. Not yet. By having strangers read the book I could get a good sense of what is working and is not working. How could I pass up on the opportunity? I was too late for the winter term, but got

Marketing the Manuscript

I completed the major revision in my historical novel Down The River that the publisher was looking for. I had one of my writing colleagues, Bob, look at it and he had some very helpful comments plus dozens of typos. Using his advice and comments from the publisher trimmed the manuscript by about ten percent and really tuned up the language. I also tweaked the ending more to my liking (no one minded the way it was). I contacted a literary agent who liked my sample chapters la

The Solitary Writer – Not!

Writing is an individual sport, but the writer is not always alone, certainly not this one. I started taking writing classes in 1995. After every quarter, the students usually spun off into critique groups to continue our momentum at the craft. A good part of the classes was critiquing other students’ work, not just for the feedback received, but to put each writer to work analyzing other work. Every group evaporated after about a year, if one started at all. In 1998, I enrol