Prince Harry


Yeah, I’m not a big follower of the British royals and their doings, but I ran across an article today about how Prince Harry is planning on marrying a Yank. It peaked my interest, so I read it.

As many of you may be aware, Prince Harry’s fictional alter-ego takes on a butt-kicking, Nazi face-smashing presence in John Birmingham’s Axis of Time series- of which I am a huge fan. Alternate history/sci-fi at its best, really.

So it peaked my interest when I saw an article describing the Prince’s upcoming nuptials.

Also, I like Prince Harry for other reasons. He has done the thing for God and Country, having served in his nation’s wars. He sucked sand in some pretty nasty places when by all rights he didn’t have to. He could have stuck to a life of PR and parties, but he chose not to.

I’m not 100% sure that this is actual combat footage, but here is a video of Harry rocking out with Ma Deuce (the Browning .50 cal machine gun) in Afghanistan. Real or not (and I think it’s real, although doubtless a bit staged for the camera crew), ultra cool that someone of such high social rank got trigger time in that hellhole.

Personally, I think as a society we need more people like Prince Harry, who are willing to serve the society that has fostered them.

Over here in the ‘States we are running out of politicians and business leaders who have ever served time in the trenches, who can identify with the average Joe. And I’m not just referring to combat veterans. I’m talking a whole class of people who have never touched base with the ordinary person, who really have no idea what goes on in our heads or our day-to-day concerns.

So hats off to Prince Harry, and I wish him luck in his future endeavors as well as best wishes on his upcoming wedding.

Birmingham called it. I can totally see him punching a Nazi in the face.

God bless, Prince Harry.


Liver flukes


Looks pretty gross, huh? These things suck. If a person gets an infestation of these flukes, they can cause cholangiocarcinoma, a rare cancer. Even sweeter, a person can be infected for decades without knowing it, and the cancer develops from an inflammation of the bile ducts.

Nice. You want to know what else sucks besides the flukes? Some of the bureaucrats in Compensation and Pension at the VA. It seems that an unusually large amount of Vietnam veterans have came down with this rare cancer, and some of the C&P folks are hemming and hawing about guys getting these rare cancers from flukes found- you guessed it- in the rivers and streams of Vietnam.

You can read the AP press release here.

Typical. This seems to me to be a fairly clear-cut case of a service connection for an ailment directly caused by wartime conditions, and guys have to fight hard to get their claims verified. According to the press release, denials are common, and sometimes people have to fight for years for a resolution of their cases. Of course, victims of cholangiocarcinoma usually have a poor prognosis so I’d imagine a number of them die before anything comes of their claim. And who knows how many of them have died undiagnosed?

Hard to tell.

Full disclosure: I have an axe to grind with C&P. In combat, I was thrown over a wall by an RPG blast. I struck my head with some violence. Later on, I was in a building that was struck multiple times with recoilless rifle fire. Then I was gunning on a truck and we struck a building, then a tree. I was battered by bricks, branches, and the spade handles of my weapon. All in the same day. Now my neck and back hurt, a lot. I’ve been denied a “service connection” for my spinal stuff four times. The process has worn me down, put one in the WIN column for C&P.

So I get where these guys are coming from- being diagnosed with some weird cancer and then getting the runaround from the VA. Really makes me wonder about all of that oh-so-hygenic food I ate with my Afghans- those guys were all sick with something or the other, and I saw where the water came from that we made our tea out of- some mucky ditch with dead stuff floating in it. LOL, maybe me and the guys on my team all have flukes, too. God knows most of us had dysentery.

Good times.

Hey, I’d rather talk about that cool interstellar asteroid thing- what a weird story. Cool as hell, mysterious, and something that really makes you wonder.

But I saw the article about the flukes and decided to write about that, instead.

The VA accomplishes tremendous amounts of work for little thanks, and to the medical professionals there who care and do their jobs, my sincere thanks. Only a small minority give veterans a hard time, but unfortunately, those people draw a lot of notice and press.

I wish there was a mechanism whereby you could take an overzealous beancounter and magically teleport him or her into combat hell and let them see what it’s like. After their hair starts to gray, teleport them back into their cosy chair.

Maybe some things would change.



Sophia the android


Whoa. I missed the boat on what is older news (April 2017)- Sophia the life-like robot, developed by Hanson Robotics.

I was kickin’ back at a buddy’s house and he handed me his phone and said “Check this out.” We always talk over a large variety of stuff, and I watched the video and we talked about Sophia, the world’s most lifelike and intelligent android.

This is crazy stuff, science fiction come true. A human-like robot mated with a supercomputer. I knew that advances in robotics and artificial intelligence have been accelerating, but somehow I missed Sophia- a real breakthrough.

Here is a machine that shows the potential of creating robots that look like us and learn- remarkable. Eerie.

I’m not sure what to make of this development. I know what Elon Musk thinks, and if you have a chance, read up on his work in Brain Machine Interfaces, it’ll take a while, but it’s worth checking out.

Artificial intelligence is a sword that cuts both ways, as with all technological advances. Personally, I think it would be best to give each human their own AI companion/internet link so that we can develop a partnership with the computers (like in my books), as opposed to an adversarial relationship (think Terminator.) Way too easy to think of all the ways this could go wrong. If handled properly, though, it could be great.

At a minimum, these life-like robots will be developed as servants, companions and sex toys. I’ll bet money on that. One can use one’s imagination to go on from there. Expert assassins, kindly teachers, the list goes on.

Sophia is just the start, people want this to happen. Whether it’s a good idea? Give it a decade or two and we’ll find out.

Surely coming to a Wal-Mart near you by 2040.



Chevy builds ’em tough


Hey everybody. It’s been a rough week.

Without getting into a lot of detail, I can definitely recommend the Chevy Impala family of cars to anybody wanting to buy a new ride.

Why? My Impala saved my family’s bacon a couple of days ago when we were involved in a serious crash not too far from my house. We were going out for food, it was just another afternoon, nothing special. I was driving, my wife and two kids were in the car. The road I was driving on was rural, there was little traffic. Suddenly, I noticed a vehicle approaching in my lane at a high rate of speed.

Had about a second to react. I braked and dumped my car into the ditch. The other driver hit my door, the side airbags blew and we ground to a halt. I asked if everyone was alright, they were OK, we exited the vehicle on the passenger side quickly.

Couldn’t get out of the driver side for obvious reasons, things were twisted up and stuck fast. As you can see in the picture, however, the actual chassis was unbuckled and the safety features worked like a charm.

As it was two of us had to leave in an ambulance (I do love being strapped to a spine board for five hours), and we all got some quality time in the local hospital. Everyone was stiff and sore, but it could have been much worse. Pretty scary.

I was impressed by the Impala. The police said the other car was probably going about 50mph when they struck us, and we walked away from it, mostly. My car is shot, but I will remember it fondly.

I’ve already picked out its replacement- another Chevy sedan, a few years newer.

Why mess with a good thing?