***Tomorrow, there will be a Special Comment edition of Shoot 'Em Up Friday.
***Yours truly is sick. I think I am coming down with the flu. Happens every year... I should ber used to it by now, but I'm not.
***I'm not going to work tomorrow... I'll be sleeping until the lordly hour of 6 A.M. and then I will commence doing the laundry. I should finish by Sunday morning when I depart for Georgia.
***I have to go to Fort Benning, Georgia on Sunday, I'll be there all week, teaching a class. What fun.
***I have a new cel phone. Woo Hoo!
***I will be holding several giveaways in the very near future, so stay tuned.
This is the day that we celebrate the act of a radical German monk, named Martin Luther. Martin Luther was a scholar who believed that the church had strayed from the path because of certain practices. Without enumerating all of them, let's just say that it was more than Luther could stand. So he made a stand of his own.
Putting the church on public notice about his rebellion, Luther made himself an outlaw and a leader at the same time. His bold stand changed the world.
Martin Luther contended that the word of God should be preached in the language of the people hearing it. He preached that the Bible should also be printed in the common language so that the people could read scripture on their own. He preached that the celibacy of the clergy had nothing to do with being able to proclaim the good news of Christ. Most importantly, Luther believed in the concept of the "Priesthood of all believers", which means that no person needs the intercession of a priest to commune with God.
Luther's bold stand didn't only change the church, it also changed the political map of Europe, because as varying Kingdoms, Dukedoms, Principalities & Free Cities either sided with Luther and his followers, or sided with the Pope, nations went to war. The Reformation Wars had begun.
Take a look at a map of Europe today, and you will clearly see the effects of those wars. Northern Europe is nearly* all Protestant (mostly Lutheran), with southern Europe being nearly all Roman Catholic, with the majority of Eastern Europe still largely Orthodox Christian... all or mostly all, the result of the Reformation Wars (and the last battles of the Crusades, but that is another matter entirely).
Pretty heavy stuff for a 16th century monk, eh?
Did you enjoy your lesson?
* With the notable exception of Poland which remains staunchly Catholic to this day.
Last year, I reviewed a Vince Flynn novel called Protect & Defend and told you all how much I enjoyed it. Well, author Vince Flynn has released his latest offering, and it doesn't disappoint.
In his newest novel, released October 21st, Flynn once again delves into not only the dirty, vile, morally indefensible world of radical Islamic terrorism, but also gets into the morass of Washington, DC politics.
Flynn's main character, Mitchell Rapp, is a clandestine CIA operator, a counter-terrorist operator who works out in the field, killing or capturing the avowed enemies of the United States, and he is good at what he does. When the novel opens, we find Rapp and another operator interrogating two senior Taliban/Al Qaeda prisoners about a terror operation that is about to take place inside the United States. Not surprisingly, the terrorists believe that they can hang tough and not answer questions due to post-Abu Ghraib political pressures.
They didn't count on meeting Mitch Rapp.
Rapp was having some success getting information from the prisoners, when the base commander, looking to protect his own ass, put a stop to the harsh interrogation, and had the Military Police arrest Rapp and hold him in custody.
The CIA get's Rapp out of jail and whisks him back to Washington, where he and operative Mike Nash have to do major damage control, appearing before Congress, taking heat from chair-warming bureaucrats etc... While all this is happening, the terrorist cell that is plotting an attack arrives in the United States and heads to Washington, DC.
I don't want to give too many spoilers here, so I'll end here... except to say that during the attacks, my favorite Capitol Hill watering hole, the Hawk 'n Dove was destroyed.
Anyway, in Rapp's inimitable fashion he goes about hunting down and killing as many of the perpetrators as possible, along the way, making a very high-powered ally out of a political enemy.
Look, Flynn's novels aren't heavy. They aren't politically correct, either. They are exceptionally violent (although not mindlessly so). The characters swear, they talk about sex, they kill people, and they take their kids to LaCrosse practice. Flynn's novels are not likely to win any fiction prizes, either, as they are fairly formulaic, but what they are mostly is a whole lot of fun.
I highly recommend this book.
Yes, I know it's Saturday, but, what do you want me to do? Change the whole series?
In case you haven't seen it yet.
Watch it, yes, it makes us smile, but before we vote, there's many a mile.
So let's not cheer and count our chickens, watch for Fox News sleaze and dirty trickens!
They'll try to steal this, sure as hell, stand by to ring the warning bell.
Too soon to make the early bet, even if the vet refused to vet.
Gird your loins,prepare for battle. Keep your nerve when Sabers rattle!
Face the foe, donate your dough! when we win we'll cheer: GO O!
This new offering takes place in the year 2021, which is also known as CY (change year) 23. In this world that Stirling has crafted, there was a "Change" that took place in 1998, wherein all electricity, mysteriously ceased working. Internal combustion engines stopped firing, gunpowder no longer burned, and Nuclear power plants went dead. In this world, all at once, the lights went out, and a new age began.
In the first three installments of what will eventually be seven (I think) novels, we saw exactly what this loss of technology and power meant to the world in general, and the United States in particular, through several point-of-view characters: Mike Havel, former Marine and pilot who is transporting a wealthy man and his family on a private charter plane when "the lights went out"; Juniper McKenzie, a bard/busker who is a single mother as well as an active member of a group of Wiccans; and Norman Arminger, who is a not-very-nice member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.
In these novels, Stirling shows us, in sometimes very stark detail, that despite our claims at "civilization", we are no further removed from what we would call barbarism, than a few missed meals, and a few dark nights. The characters in these novels not only survive, but thrive in a world very different than the one they knew.
In this newest installment, young Rudi McKenzie (the son of Mike Havel and Juniper McKenzie), and a band of young people from the various new nations that were born out of the chaos in the Pacific northwest, have set out on a quest to get to the center of the mystery of "The Change", which lies in the retrieval of a sword, from far-away Nantucket island. The problem is that in order for McKenzie and his friends have to get to Nantucket, they have to traverse most of what used to be the United States, which means crossing the territory of the very hostile United States of Boise, bands of un-friendly "neo-Sioux", and the Army of the Church Universal Triumphant (CUT)
Mind you, this is no sword and sorcery novel (well, maybe it is, I guess that depends on your view of science fiction), but it will certainly appeal to people who enjoy that genre as well as anyone who enjoys "time displacement" stories as well.
I won't give any spoilers, but if I were a science fiction reader who had never had the pleasure of reading anything by Stirling, I would run... run, not walk, to your nearest bookseller and start reading S.M. Stirling's stuff.
You'll be glad you did.
Why is it that since Barack Obama knows and has worked with William Ayers, the McCain Campaign says that he pals around with terrorists? If Ayers is a terrorist, why isn't he in prison? Why has he never gone to trial for terrorism? Just curious.... because if we are all guilty of the sins of people we know, we are all in trouble... especially John McCain.
Barack Obama is attacked because the pastor of his church is an idiot who says stupid things... I notice that the media hasn't connected John McCain with Jerry Falwell, and apocalyptic crackpot John Hagee. If those guys are/were right wing religious crackpots, why isn't McCain being questioned about his associations?
Closer to home, why isn't McCain being questioned more deeply about his ties to Charles Keating, the Arizona money-man that did time in the Federal pen? That same money man who McCain's wife and father continued to business with, even after McCain was said to have severed ties? Hmmm!
If we are all judged by our "associations" I suppose we had better get out our microscopes. Do any of you know anyone who has ever driven while intoxicated?, bent the truth on their tax returns?, stolen anything?, done illicit drugs?, or maybe got too physical with their spouse or partner?
John McCain's wife trafficked in drugs... does that mean John McCain was a dealer, too?
Of course not. So can we please quit with this bullshit about old associations?
That's just what we need near the seat of power, right?
"...I would hesitate to call anyone a warrior unless we are not talking about a fellow ubermenschen, but instead a deeply flawed and guilty human being, who strives at the risk of the loss of comfort, of home, of even his or her own soul to protect what must be protected, to maintain a moral sense in a place where no morality can conceivably exist."
— Ellis Amdur, from Dueling with O-sensei
"The warrior preserves and protects but does not conquer, dominate, or subjugate. Only the enemy will have to fear a warrior’s skills."
— Richard Heckler
"A complete warrior is one who can act appropriately. Such an individual can kill if that is necessary to preserve other’s lives, or he can die for others. But such an individual also possesses the power to find a way through conflicts to a non-combative resolution. This power can create a real peace between people. Such a person’s presence, rather than intimidating, calms and gives strength to others."
— Ellis Amdur, from Old School
"The quest of a true martial artist, in any culture or society, is to preserve life — not destroy it."
— Dan Inosanto, from The Filipino Martial Arts
"They don’t join cliques — more times than not, they stand alone — but they recognize and gravitate towards one another. Only warriors understand other warriors."
— Forrest E. Morgan
"People who really study the arts of war are almost without exception nonviolent individuals. The achievement of real skill requires considerable discipline and self control, two traits which eradicate violent behavior."
— Richard Ryan
"It is better to deserve honours and not have them, than to have them and not to deserve them."
— Mark Twain
"Warriorship . . . does not refer to making war on others. Aggression is the source of our problems, not the solution. . . . Warriorship . . . is the tradition of human bravery, or the tradition of fearlessness."
— Chogyam Trungpa
"In a critical situation, where even the slightest hesitation may prove fatal, the warrior counts on his readiness to improvise, survive, and win. The warrior shapes his own destiny. He defines the limits of his own possibilities. He creates his own luck."
— from The Warrior’s Edge