Category Archives: 1

Publisher of “The Handbook of 5GW” in Forbes Magazine!

Two years ago I published The Handbook of 5GW, an edited volume of pieces that looked at the fifth gradient of warfare. My publisher in that process was Fred Zimmerman, of Nimble Books. Fred’s new venture, Nimble Combinatorial Publishing, is definitely making waves — including being in the latest edition of Forbes!

The first impulse of most people like me, who have spent much of their careers writing for love and money, is to loudly answer NO WAY. I firmly believe that it is impossible to replace the creativity of the human mind and the skill of writing learned over years with an algorithm.

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Review of “Atlantic,” by Simon Winchester

I wish my dad was still alive. I wish I could recommend Simon Winchester’s Atlantic to him. He would enjoy it.

Simon Winchester is best known for The Professor and the Madman, a history of the oxford English Dictionary. His best books, however, are The Man Who Loved China (a human story that is also the history of a far-away land) and Krakatoa (about the human consequences of a natural disaster). So it is fittest that Simon Winchester’s latest work, and one of his best, are the interlocking stories about one of the greatest natural features on Earth, the Atlantic Ocean.

Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories is a thematic biography of the ocean, from youth to death. From before the Phoenecians to his imprisonment during the Falklands War to the far future, Simon Winchester paints a vivid and romantic feature of the ocean that is too often overlooked and ignored.

It is impossible to give a brief synposis of the stories of the Atlantic, but a portion of a paragraph from the epilog gives a flavor:

Parliamentary democracy. A homeland for world Jewry. Long-distance radio communication. The Vinland Map. The supression of slavery. The realization of continental drift and plate tectonics. The Atlantic Charter. The British Empire. The knarr, the curragh, the galleon, the ironclad, and the battleship. The discovery of longitude. Codfish. Erskine Childers. Winslow Homer. The convoy system. St. Helena. Puerto Madryn. Debussy. Monet. Rachel Carson. … The Atlantic telegraph cable. The Writght brothers. Alcock and Brown. Lindbergh…

The story of the Atlantic is the story of Western Civilization. A fantastic overview of western history. Highly recommended.

You can call her Vladimir Putin from the way she’s dropping Russians

Dzhennet Abdurakhmanova is way less effective at spectacular pseudo-terrorist attacks against Russian civilians than Vladimir Putin, but she looks way hotter while doing it.

Vladimir Putin began a sub-state war of terror against the people of the Russian Federation on September 4, 1999. Props to Dzhennet, and all the rest who fight back.

The reference is 1 minute, 30 seconds in:

The Greencine Five, Part XI: Legong: Dance of the Virgins, My Life as a Dog, Sword of the Beast, Gaza Strip, Pickpocket

legong_dance_of_the_virgins

No movie is this good by accident. It is on purpose. Legong is not only an exotic and gorgeous film, it was one of the last silent films ever released. It was also one of the last which used two-color mixing (as opposed to the three-color approach which is the standard to this day). The story is a sweet tragedy about a love triangles between two girls (dancers at a local temple) and a young man (a drummer). The film is the sort of “south seas” picture that enchanted George Bailey and so many others. The film was made on location in Bali (now an island in Indonesia), with an entirely Balinese cast.

my_life_as_a_dog

My Life as a Dog is a sad but sweet story about a young boy suffering the death of his mother. The film has certainly similarities to Goodnight Mister Tom and A Home of Our Own. The film is slow moving, but paints a convincing picture of rural Sweden in the early years of the Cold War.

sword_of_the_beast

Sword of the Beast is a story about Japan on the verge of the Meiji Restoration, but really about Japan on the verge of defeat in World War II. Samurai give their life for honor and reform, but everything is turned around by corrupt counselors, leaving only death and shame. The momentum for a better Japan is clearly there, but not much is to be done. The vendetta — that is, the war effort — is an excuse for everything. Slow on its surface, but fascinating in its context.
gaza_strip

The centerpiece of Gaza Strip is something that never happened. The film very, very strongly implies that it is documenting the effects of a nerve gas attack on the residents of Gaza. Individuals appearing to be victims of the attack, as well as a woman implied to be part of Medicine sans Frontier, are interviewed. Looking online, the only references to this attack are other people questioning if it ever happened.

pickpocket

No movie is this bad by accident. It is on purpose. The director didn’t like characterization, because he thought it was phony, so he didn’t do it. He didn’t like acting, because he thought it was phony, so he had non-actors just repeat the actions a couple times. He seems not to like his main character, as the guy is a cringing, self-important, coward of a parasite. I wasted 86 minutes of my life I will never get back. Pickpocket is an awful film.

“Blue” News

The color blue is associated both with the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), which is the democratically elected governing party of Taiwan, and the People’s Armed Police, a paramilitary force in the party-dictatorship of mainland China.

Strange Blue Men
Strange Blue Men

The Olymics thus was a very “blue” event, as it featured KMT support of Beijing ’08 as well as the People’s Armed Police distrupting anti-Communist protests in the West.

Now, Michael Totten lets us know that the KMT will be inviting the People’s Armed Police to opan an office in Taiwan.

The possibility of great power war in the Pacific is evaporating before our eyes.