A fine 2019, everyone.


Alright, so wishing everyone a fine New Year isn’t exactly the most cutting edge website fodder ever.

However, I wish it to you all with sincerity.

2018 had its ups and downs, and it was the first year since 2015 that I didn’t manage to get anything published. However, I have fair confidence that that will change this coming year. I’ve got at least three collaborations going at this time and you all will find out about those fairly soon.

A lot happened on the space front this past year. Branson, NASA, and Musk produced, all you have to do is glance back through the archives (or google those three items) and you’ll see what I mean.

Of course, there was other stuff as well. Stock market meltdowns, tsunamis, political developments. I’d rather not dwell on that stuff, I try to be a glass-half-full kind of guy.

So to all of you out there, in whatever country, state or province you find yourself, go out and have some fun with the New Year.

You’ve earned it.



goat path qalat

I will always remember the men of 2nd Rifle Company, Afghan Army. You can see them above advancing along a goat path into combat. A bare hour later and we were in contact with the enemy, our mutual foe. Hundreds of Afghans were on the scene, only about eight Americans. I was one of them.

Why am I talking about this today.

Well, I’ll tell you.

A whole lot of the fighting (and dying) overseas has been borne by our allies. The President acted like a knave yesterday and betrayed them along with our national interest.

In the past 24 hours the US Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, resigned in protest over the President’s policies. He is the first cabinet level secretary to do so in over forty years. To say that this is a big deal is a slight understatement. General Mattis, USMC (Ret.) is the real deal. And he couldn’t stand to watch as the post-war order was systematically destroyed on his watch, and his brothers in arms were left out to hang.

So he did the honorable thing and resigned, as an officer and gentleman should when he is asked to support the unsupportable.

Unsupportable? Yes. It is unsupportable and morally bankrupt to march out of Northern Syria and leave our steadfast allies, the Kurds, to die by inches at the hands of the Turks in the north or the Syrians in the south. Mr. President, ISIS has not been defeated, and the Russians and Iranians will be the immediate benefactors of your decision.

It is disgusting to leave our Afghan allies in the lurch, another component of yesterday’s barrage of bad decisions. My men, the remaining soldiers of 2nd Company, will inevitably be hunted down and killed by the Taliban. Some will switch sides, but all will retain enduring memories of Uncle Sam’s perfidy. And pissed off Afghans act on their hatreds.

I know EXACTLY the extremely awkward and dangerous situation that the President has just placed our combat advisors in. Months, years, decades of building trust with allies in the region, gone. Your brothers in arms, betrayed.

Their trust has evaporated. Blown away like the dust covering the shallow graves of the fallen.

Way to go. Like a petulant child, the President has chosen to take his ball and go home.

But this isn’t a game. Lives are on the line, not an endless series of pointless real estate deals, hookers, and snorts of blow.

General Mattis understands this deep in his bones. The President does not.

It’s just a shame the former Secretary of Defense didn’t post his resignation on Twitter.









Stuck in the creative mud

firebase tasi

There may be a convention out there that forbids an author to discuss upcoming book plans or ideas. If so, then I’m going to step on convention.

You see, I have a bit of a situation. There’s a project that I’d like to write, but all I have is the sketch of a first scene. I’m a bit at a loss as to what direction to go with this, but I am itching to write the novel.

The protagonist I’ve got down cold. What has me is the antagonist(s).

So the hell with it, I’m going to post the sketch, and see if any of you readers have a good idea as to where to go with this. I’d love to hear from y’all.

Government conspiracy? Aliens? Demons? A combination of all three?

Snippet follows, by all means post comments or shoot me an email through the “contact” page above.

Here goes.

An idea

So a guy gets approached by some suits who say they are FBI. He is sitting in the cafeteria at the VA. There is something off about the two suits. One is smirking, the other one looks dead. Their eyes are as black as the nameless dark. Something is very wrong. As quick as a snake, he stabs one in the leg and throws his food tray in the face of the other and makes a break for it. Somehow he knows that the jinni have finally come for his immortal soul.


Seven years earlier he woke up on a firebase in Afghanistan to the sound of wild shooting. His interpreter runs up to him and shouts about the jinni, they have taken everyone. He grabs his rifle and sees that all of his fellow advisors are dead, without a mark on them.

Everyone but him.

What do ya think?


Cellular Agriculture


OK, so long time readers will know that I’m a big fan of steaks. Too much of a fan, really. So an article behind the paywall of the Wall Street Journal caught my eye, it was called “From Grass-fed to Lab-grown: How Meat is Evolving.” I posted the link, but you’ll have to pay to read the full story.

However, I can give a summary.

First, let me say that this is pretty exciting for me for a number of reasons. Number one, it feels so science-fictiony. Instead of slaughtering animals, we harvest a muscle culture and expand it in the lab using petri dishes. No dead animals, same result. You can have your steak and eat it too.

Number Two. Did I mention no dead animals? It bears repeating. I grew up on a farm, slaughter was a part of life. I’m not sure how many chickens, rabbits, cows, pigs, etc. that I have killed or witnessed dying, but it was a lot. Well, I’ve grown sick of killing. If I can source meat without it, I will, even if I have to pay a premium.

Number Three. Lab grown meat conserves land and resources. I believe the old rule of thumb for cattle was one acre of graze per head. Imagine how many acres would be freed up for other agricultural uses if we’re not raising beef. The world has a lot of hungry mouths to feed- an untold number of acres could be freed up for grain production etc. if we convert a fraction of our meat intake to lab-grown sources.

The article has an accompanying video in which a man takes a taste test at both a lab in the US (chicken nuggets), and a credit-card sized piece of steak in Israel. Both passed muster. The amazing part was the steak- apparently its a lot easier to produce a ground-meat style product than one chunk of muscle mass. Has something to do with how stem cells are manipulated during the production process.

It seems that lab-grown meat is still in its infancy, and some of the chief hurdles to introducing it are regulatory. Of course. I can imagine how this will be fought. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see all the competing interests that will come to play in this field, both environmental and agricultural.

Personally, I think that the best approach would be for consumers to have a choice. Meat harvested from traditional sources, and lab-based alternatives. If even a fraction of our meat is sourced from a lab, it will mean enormous resource savings over the long term.

After all, if it looks, smells, tastes and cooks up like meat, then it is meat. Of course, it may be that lab-grown meat is not allowed to be called “meat,” and there’s a law in Missouri to that effect. I can see the day when a fast-food chain has two tiers of hamburgers- a cheap lab-grown burger, and expensive grass-fed beef. There are a lot of possibilities here.

I will be following this closely, and I’m curious if I’ll see these meat products on grocery shelves at some time in the near future.

As long as they don’t call it Soylent Green.

Watching the world die


Alright, long time readers will know that I’ve spoken before about the really cool project Australian author John Birmingham has. Quick recap- he’s writing a book about the apocalypse one step at a time, in the open and with input from subscribers. Anyone can join the process for a mere two bucks a month, with different levels of participation up to eight bucks a month.

I think the ten dollar stage is sold out. For two bucks- less money than a Starbucks- you get to read the book as its made, one chapter at a time. Also, there are a fair bit of apocalyptic fan-fic shorts on the site, including one by me.

Time has gone by since I last discussed this with you all, and right now Mr. Birmingham is on a tear. There is a lot of material on his site, I think the book is about half-written. I believe that three books are planned in the series. Mind, there are straight chapters plus analysis for those who are keen to look behind the curtain, as it were.

Well, I simply love this stuff. I have thoroughly enjoyed observing the process, as well as participating in a small way. It’s been worth every cent, and I encourage you all to check it out.

One last bit about this opening book in the series, without giving away any spoilers. If you want to see an AWESOME take on the true potential for cyber warfare, pay your two bucks and read what’s been completed to date. This thing has me checking my email with some frequency to see if there’s a new post- it’s very good. And at the moment things are reaching a real head and the downward slide has begun for sure and certain.

Hopefully someone from the DOD reads this and then reads his book- I don’t think the US or our allies are prepared for the oh-so-believable cyber mayhem as described so far.

And that’s just one aspect of the yet-to-be-named book.

Do check it out.