Books I have no desire to read: Caliphate by Tom Kratman

Its a well known thing that many Baen writers (and books) have a rightward slant. Some of these are more than others, and the politics are hardly clearcut or homogenous. Still, Baen books tend to be pro-military and right-leaning politically.
I read and enjoy some of these authors.
However, HERE is a book that goes way too far in that direction for my taste. Even if this somehow won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus award, I have little appetite for something like this:

Continue reading Books I have no desire to read: Caliphate by Tom Kratman

If I had a subscription to the NY Times, I would cancel it

Liberal Fascism – Jonah Goldberg – Book Review – New York Times
A mostly fawning review of the tripe tome “Liberal Fascism” by Jonah Goldberg is enough that I would cancel my NY Times subscription, if I had one.

“Liberal Fascism” is less an exposé of left-wing hypocrisy than a chance to exact political revenge. Yet the title of his book aside, what distinguishes Goldberg from the Sean Hannitys and Michael Savages is a witty intelligence that deals in ideas as well as insults — no mean feat in the nasty world of the culture wars.

So, calling Liberals fascists is “witty.” Hmm.

New England 38 NYG 35

They had a substantial 28-16 lead, but in the end the NYG couldn’t keep it up, and fell to the first NFL 16-0 regular season team, the New England Patriots.
Now its on to the playoffs for both teams, with the Patriots now a prohibitive favorite to make it 19-0 and a Super Bowl win. However, as tonight’s game proved–it won’t necessarily be a cakewalk for Belichick and his team.
The first victory of the season for the Patriots was at Giants Stadium, 38-14 over the Jets, and now their 16th is at the same place, 38-35 over the Giants.


The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is unfortunately one of those things which seemed, in retrospect, inevitable.
The day of her return to Pakistan was marked by an attempt similar to this one. And how does an attack like this happen in Rawalpindi?. The city is the headquarters for Pakistan’s armed forces. You would think it would be one of the safest places in Pakistan, with the highest security.
So, either a faction of the military is behind, or tacitly allowed the assassination to occur, or Pakistan is far more insecure than even I thought.
In any event, I don’t see this as good for anyone, save for those who thrive on chaos. Heck, even Musharraf doesn’t really benefit from this–he was hoping to use her to prop up and legitimize his role.

Transparent Aluminum Redux
In the top ten breakthroughs listed by Wired magazine is this:
7. Engineers Create Transparent Material as Strong as Steel
Engineering researchers at the University of Michigan have created a material similar to “transparent aluminum,” the fantastic substance described by Scotty in Star Trek IV. In the Oct. 5 issue of Science, Nicholas Kotov showed that clay is good for far more than making bricks and expensive skincare products. The earthen material is made up of phenomenally strong nanometer-sized particles. When arranged neatly between thin layers of a sticky but weak plastic, the tiny bits of dirt act as the ultimate reinforcements — giving the ordinary material extraordinary strength. The sturdy composite could be used in lightweight armor or aircraft.
I first mentioned efforts in this direction a couple of years ago. and in fact based on that, changed one of the taglines of this blog to “Living in the Science Fiction Present.”
I maintain and stand by that statement. We *are* living in a Science Fiction Present.

Spock’s Brains

I am going to try to create a neologism here.
You have all heard of “jumping the shark”, a defining moment in a series where it goes off of the rails forever, never to come back to normalcy. (Or else it wouldn’t really be a jump)
However, I don’t think there is a term for a singular episode of a series which compared to far superior episodes of the series makes you go “WTF?” Sort of like Spock’s Brain in the original Star Trek.
So I am going to coin a term, a “Spock’s Brain”, to describe an episode of a TV series which is vastly weaker than others of the series. I realize that a Spock’s Brain can be subjective, too. To be a Spock’s Brain, it should be differently bad enough to stand out in that capacity.
Some Examples:
Star Trek: Original: Spock’s Brain. Remote controlled Spock! OY!
Star Trek: The Next Generation: Skin of Evil: Worst episode featuring a major character’s death, ever.
Doctor Who: The Web Planet: The Doctor, his companions and a bunch of people acting in insect costumes. Um, yeah.
Babylon 5: Day of the Dead: Um, one day in 200 years, dead come back for a night on one particular planet, and because of a weird arrangement, part of B-5 is transported technomagically across space to be part of it? Not one of Gaiman’s best ideas.
Suggestions from the Peanut Gallery for more “Spock’s Brains” would be more than welcome.