Mailvox: Call him Danaldo Rathera

WC shares a bit of history:

In Sept. 68′, my brother was with the 5th Special Forces HQ at An Khe, Vietnam. Dan Rather was reporting from there, supposedly at the front lines (fire base something or other). He and his cameraman were in a fox hole. Behind him, standing with a captured AK-47 was a SF Sgt. firing rounds into the air. Every time a round was fired, Rather would duck down as if he was directly under fire. Along with my brother were several ‘B’ teams and one ‘A’ team back from the boonies on rotation.

The SF press attache would have to keep moving the men back because their laughter was heard on Rather’s microphone. Evidently, Rather made the mistake of challenging one of the troops. As the Cpl moved forward toward Rather the attache hurried between them. What a shame. If he hadn’t have gotten between them, we might not have Rather to worry about today. My brother said Rather was a total coward, and hated the grunts even then. Keep up the good work with your articles!

Shades of another brave journalist, n’est ce pas?

Speaking of brilliance

The Original Cyberpunk waxes historical:

Does the name Quintus Fabius Maximus Cunctator mean anything to you?

How about Herbert David Croly?

Fabius “The Delayer” was the Roman general whose outnumbered legions faced Hannibal’s overwhelming army in the Second Punic War. To conserve his small forces he developed a battle doctrine that may be summarized as, “Never risk in direct confrontation that which you can achieve by stealth, patience, subversion, or harassment.” Initially thought a coward and a failure because he avoided contact with the full Carthaginian army, Fabius’s tactics ultimately proved quite successful, and in time he became an honored Roman hero and emperor.

Very good stuff. Go, thou, and read it. And while you’re there, you’re almost surely going to want to read his summary of the latest State of the Union address. It will make you want to weep the next time you slog through another eye-glazing National Review article or metaphor-abusing Townhall commentary:

Across the room, Wilson leaped to his feet again. “Yeah! Intervention! Nation-building! Bomb ’em ’til they love democracy! BRING IT ON!”

“And now he’s quoting little Franklin again. ‘Each age is a dream that is dying, or one that is coming to birth.’ Well, duh!”

On the big screen Junior was saying, “The fall of imperial communism was only a dream — until one day, it was accomplished.”

Ronnie finally frowned. “You’re welcome. Sure, mention FDR all over the place, but do I get a word of credit?”

“And the speech is over,” Teddy observed. “He’s off the podium, moving into the crowd, shaking hands, and — My God, did he just kiss Senator Lieberman?”

I nearly wet my pants at that last bit….

Mailvox: friendly enemies

A sympathetic left-wing columnist weighs in:

actually i was sorry to see your syndication deal falling through. because you are one of the best writers in america. i say that, you know, as an opposite number sometimes ideologically but i recognize brilliance and intellect.

This made me smile when I read it today, not because of the compliments, but because it made me think of a few emails I received three weeks ago, when some readers were aghast that I’d praised the liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. However, I’ve come to respect Kristof over time, and in fact, I make it a point to check out his column on a regular basis now. I might disagree with the man most of the time, but his warmth and personal integrity quite frequently shine through his writing and make it a pleasure to read.

By the same token, I might loathe Charles Stross’s politics and religion – he’s a pagan Eurotopian – but I am a great admirer of not only his fiction, but his technological vision as well. Furthermore, from following his blog, I’ve found I kind of like the guy. These are “enemies” who are easy to love.

And as all of you know, there are those who are nominally on my ideological side for whom I have neither respect nor regard. I suppose there’s something to be said for those who write the right things for the wrong reasons, or who accidentally stumble onto the truth from time to time despite themselves, but I’ll leave it to others to say it.

A historian on the future

From Sir Edward Creasy’s discussion of Marathon in Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World:

It is also a striking fact that the governments of all the great Asiatic empires have in all ages been absolute despotisms. And Heeren is right in connecting this with another great fact, which is important from its influence on both the political and the social life of Asiatics. ‘Among all the considerable nations of Inner Asia, the paternal government of every household was corrupted by polygamy; where that custom exists, a good political constitution is impossible. Fathers being converted into domestic despots, are ready to pay the same abject obedience to their sovereign which they exact from their family and dependents in their domestic economy.’

This may prove to be significant, as given how the courts are intent on removing the last judicial restraints on state-approved homogamous and polygamous relationships, we can expect the government to move in an increasingly despotic direction.

It is only one factor, to be sure, and there are certainly some countervailing elements simultaneously at work, but I thought it was an interesting thought to consider.

Nebulous Nebulas

I just finished my second stint as a Nebula Award jurist. I have to say that this one was more satisfying than the previous go-round, as the novel we added to the ballot is a worthy one this time. In fact, I’ll be disappointed if it doesn’t win the award – the SFWA’s membership votes for the award itself – unlike last time when I could not believe what my fellow jurors were voting for.

The one we chose wasn’t my preference, but it’s one that I can accept without any complaint. Of course, the president’s little pals will probably end up voting for one of their friends again* and make the award look increasingly silly, but then, this really shouldn’t bother me. I don’t believe in democracy anyhow, this is just one of a dozen reasons.

*The winner in 2001, The Quantum Rose by Catherine Asaro, is a mediocre romance novel in space. I tossed it aside after being introduced to the third consecutive strong, beautiful, intelligent, independent, but lonely woman in the book. It was as if Maureen Dowd was writing science fiction, and the results were about as good as you’d imagine. Meanwhile, neither Neal Stephenson nor JK Rowlings has ever won the award.

You’re welcome, Ma’am, would you like another

I thought I’d taken care of this already, but Fred Reed bitchslaps Maureen Dowd again, just for good measure:

In a recent column, headed “Men Just Want Mommy,” Maureen tells us, “A few years ago at a White House Correspondents’ dinner, I met a very beautiful actress. Within moments, she blurted out: ‘I can’t believe I’m 46 and not married. Men only want to marry their personal assistants or PR women.’”

The bastards.

Here we have the eternal cry (at least it’s beginning to feel eternal) of the unhappy feminist: “The whole world can’t stand me. What’s wrong with the whole world?” If men don’t want to marry a self-absorbed menopausing ocelot, there is something wrong with men. I listen to this stuff and I want to marry someone’s personal assistant, just to be sure I don’t get drunk and marry a very beautiful actress.

But more of Maureen and the personal assistants. She continues observantly, “I’d been noticing a trend along these lines, as famous and powerful men took up with the young women whose job it was to tend to them and care for them in some way: their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants, researchers and fact-checkers.” Men want to marry Mommy, she implies, with forty-weight passive-aggressiveness you could lube a diesel with.

Actually, what men very much do not want is to marry Mommy. The problem for Maureen is that she is Mommy: censorious, moralizing, self-pitying, endlessly instructive, and so achingly tedious that men find themselves thinking of moldy bath sponges.

There is a reason, after all, why most young men leave home with such alacrity that one might be excused for thinking that it is on fire. Marrying a nanny doesn’t mean that you want someone to nanny you, it means you want someone who will do an excellent job of raising your children. And I daresay I know rather better than MS Dowd whereof I speak, since I married a nanny myself.

I’ve said this before and I’m sure I’ll have to say it again, but here it is anyhow: if someone – anyone – doesn’t want to be around you, the problem is not with them. The problem is with you.