Monday, March 30, 2009

Takin' Nukes Apart...

From Secrecy News:


In anticipation of future nuclear arms control agreements that would require the dismantlement of nuclear warheads, the Department of Energy undertook a technical study during the Clinton Administration to determine how such dismantlement could be verifiably accomplished. The resulting report, experts say, is still the best available treatment of the subject.

A copy of the unclassified report, marked "official use only," was obtained by Secrecy News and posted online today.

The DOE authors identified ten types of activities that could be used in a warhead dismantlement regime, involving various forms of monitoring at successive stages of the process. One or more of the ten could be employed, depending on the degree of confidence desired.

In principle, it should be fairly straightforward to dismantle a given nuclear warhead with confidence. However, "determining that an item to be dismantled is actually a nuclear warhead is very difficult" without compromising classified information, the report states. The use of x-rays or radiographs to confirm that an object is in fact a warhead "would be highly intrusive and would reveal highly classified nuclear warhead design information" to foreign inspectors, potentially exposing design vulnerabilities and other sensitive information. Such concerns might be addressed by other forms of monitoring, the report says.

The study concluded that "transparency measures for monitoring warhead dismantlement can be applied... with up to a moderate level of confidence that dismantlement has taken place if implemented at the Unclassified to [Confidential] level." Verification that an actual weapon has been dismantled -- which is a more demanding standard than mere "transparency" -- can be achieved with an appropriate exchange of classified nuclear weapons design information.

The report provides a detailed description of the dismantlement process, a summary of previous dismantlement studies (including one by the Federation of American Scientists and another by the JASONs, but not the 1960s-era Project Cloud Gap study), and other valuable information that could serve to inform and accelerate current analyses of nuclear warhead dismantlement.

See "Transparency and Verification Options: An Initial Analysis of Approaches for Monitoring Warhead Dismantlement," prepared by the Department of Energy Office of Arms Control and Nonproliferation, May 19, 1997.


The U.S. Army's future ability to combat weapons of mass destruction (CWMD) in the 2015-2024 timeframe is the subject of a new Army doctrinal publication (pdf).

"The thrust of current Army CWMD capabilities ... is to protect against and recover from WMD," the document explains. However, "The Army is deficient in the capabilities required to proactively detect, identify, track, and engage threat WMD networks before they can launch...." See "The U.S. Army Concept Capability Plan for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction for the Future Modular Force 2015-2024," TRADOC Pamphlet 525-7-19, March 25, 2009.

The Army publishes a little-known annual journal called "Combating WMD," the third issue of which has recently appeared. Each issue includes some noteworthy historical or doctrinal material.

Secrecy News is written by Steven Aftergood and published by the Federation of American Scientists.

The Secrecy News Blog is at:


Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Quick Step Back in Time...

KPBS has a radio program entitled "A Way With Words" wherein they and callers discuss phrases oft used and words that call for definitions. Where'd that phrase come from, what does that word mean. Seldom heard kinds of things that older generations used or new generations are using. So an email from a writer friend just stopped me cold yesterday. Here it is:

Oh the whole family is colored (well, except for Wendy, my aunt from England who makes milk look dark). The rest of us are indeed colored – in the old Crayola boxes our color used to be called “flesh” until Crayola got a smidgen of a clue.

Just consider that. Whoa!!!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Visitor at breakfast on the hotel patio...

Every morning, Monday thru Friday, I drive down to Old Town, San Diego, to enjoy breakfast on the hotel patio. Always have the LA Times and the San Diego Union-Tribune papers with me. The reason I started eating breakfast out every morning was so I could read those papers uninterrupted.

You know what they say about "best intentions"? Yep.

So there I sat this past Monday morn, happily reading away. It's true, as a Navy SEAL told me, that "motion catches the eye". It surely did. Caught movement to my right and looked up to see this guy in camoflage halfway to my table. Then realized he was an old friend whom I hadn't seen for a few years.

He'd phoned a few days before and I told him where I'd be at breakfast time. So here he was. I jumped up and we hugged and patted each other's backs.

I'll tell you, I was delighted to see him alive. He's a full-fledged hero. Did the invasion of Iraq (which we never should have invaded, by the way). Before that, was a Federal Firefighter. Before that, a Marine. Between the firefighter and Marines, he was in a cross county race, another vehicle hit his, threw him out on the road in a huge cloud of dust, and before he could move, he was hit by another vehicle going 90 miles per hour. Tore his right leg off just below the knee.

No matter. He got a new leg, worked like hell and passed a physical test again to rejoin the firefighters. Thus he became the first firefighter amputee in the USA. And he joined the Army National Guard. Whereupon he was sent off to combat in Iraq.
Where, in trying to rescue another soldier in the midst of a firefight, he tore his own stomach open, bandaged it, and pulled the wounded soldier to safety, bullets flying the entire time. He's still in the Army...Master Sgt. PsyOps.

One of the most physically strong guys I've ever met. We were walking on South Embarcadero Island, behind the Convention Center, one afternoon. They have exercise gear built in along the path. He stopped at the pull-up bar and began to do pull-ups...FAST...talking away all the while.

So there we were at breakfast. I'd just finished but had a slice of wheat toast spread with strawberry jam. Didn't want it, so pushed it over and told him, "Eat toast". He did. I poured more coffee in my cup and lit a smoke.

While stationed down in Georgia, he'd decided, since everybody he knew was constantly yelling at him that he ought to write a book, to get himself a ghostwriter, since he can't write worth a damn. Not that kind of writing anyway.

So what did he do? Googled "ghostwriter" and found a gal in Georgia who does that work. What they do, since they've never met, is he talks and sends her the tape. She writes. Didn't take long until I discovered she didn't know proper manuscript format.

That evening, I emailed him to tell him how a book manuscript is laid out. Ah me. How this is gonna end, I have no idea, but I'm NOT going to get involved.

It was neat to see him again. Old times are not ... And no, I didn't get the papers read until that evening.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

People watching at Seaport Village...

Okay, I'm back from Seaport Village. Damn, but it was nice down there, but while I was walking out on North Embarcadero, a Coast Guard boat...sirens wailing, was heading under the bridge to somewhere. Hope they made it in time.

Sitting on the deli's back porch with coffee and just watching people, I see this elderly, thin guy in tan slacks and a plaid shirt stop at the hot dog stand across the way. He orders, then very quickly pulls 4 napkins from the holder, stuffs them into his pants pocket. Pulls another napkin. Blows his nose. Walks over to the trash can and throws it in. Goes back to the window. Pulls 3 more napkins and stuffs those into his pocket. Is served a small drink..either 7-up or water. Pulls 2 more napkins, stuffs them in his pocket. Walks away. Then comes back. Is given either a hot dog or french fries. Pulls 3 more napkins, stuffs them in his pocket and finally leaves. Damndest thing! :)))

Middle aged couple comes up on the porch. She sits down. He goes in, comes back with drinks, then goes back in again and comes out with one sandwich, which they split. Soon as they're thru, they just get up and leave their trash on the table instead of putting it in the trash right inside the door. Hmmm...

And comes this awful screeching from a small blond kid standing on a bench next to a woman with a stroller. Heads turn. So funny. Women just look and look away. Guys look, grin, and turn away. Finally a woman comes out of the deli. Looks like she has french fries. Heads straight to them. Kid goes silent the second he puts one into his mouth. :)))

I put out my smoke, polish off the rest of my coffee, gather up the trash, drop it in the trash barrel and split. Past the carousel, cross the driveway, into the car and gone. :)))


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Prisoners of Gitmo List....

From Information Clearing House:

Guantánamo: The Definitive Prisoner List :

The following list is the culmination of a three-year project to record the stories of all the prisoners held at the US prison in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

[Use link above to continue reading}


Never thought I'd see the day....

From Levine Breaking News:


President Barack Obama plans to name a task force to review and overhaul the U.S. tax code, a spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget said today. Obama will ask the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, led by former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volcker, for a top- to-bottom review of the 96-year-old law in an effort to rebalance the federal tax code, spokesman Tom Gavin said in an interview.

Say what?!!! Talk about something that is long overdue. Perhaps they'll get rid of those overseas tax shelters the corporations have long made use of to hide money they don't want to pay taxes on. YAAAYYYYY!!!


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Latest Books Coming Out....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:



Adrienne McDonnell's debut THE DOCTOR AND THE DIVA, about a young, Harvard-educated obstetrician in Boston who imperils his promising career when he becomes attracted to one of his patients, a beautiful opera singer who has struggled for years to get pregnant -- inspired by the author's ancestor and based on family letters and memories of elderly relatives who have long been haunted by the secret, to Pamela Dorman at Pamela Dorman Books, in a pre-empt, for publication in summer 2010, by Lisa Bankoff at ICM (NA).


Tessa Dare's next three historical romances (tentatively titled the Stud Club trilogy), in which a duke, a warrior, and a scoundrel are united by chance, divided by suspicion, and brought to their knees by love, to Kate Collins at Ballantine, for publication in 2010, by Helen Breitwieser at Cornerstone Literary (world).


Masha Hamilton's 31 HOURS, counting the hours preceding a terrorist attack in the New York City subway from the perspectives of characters who are connected to the looming tragedy including a Saudi graduate student, a highly idealistic, American student whom the student has recruited, the American's girlfriend, and his divorced parents who are brought back together in their search for their missing son, to Fred Ramey at Unbridled Books, by Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).

Adam Langer's THE THIEVES OF MANHATTAN, about a fake memoir that reveals the theft of a priceless ancient manuscript from a most unusual library and the down-on-his-luck writer who becomes embroiled in what turns out to be an elaborate confidence game designed to scam the publishing world, to Cindy Spiegel at Spiegel & Grau, by Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).

Tish Cohen's third novel, THE SATURDAY DAUGHTER, in which a sister and brother discover that the mother they thought abandoned them as children has actually been searching for them, and that their father, whose memory is decaying from Alzheimer's, had kidnapped them away years ago, to Jeanette Perez at Harper Perennial and Jennifer Lambert at Harper Canada, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House (NA).

Author of MISTRESS SHAKESPEARE and THE LAST BOLEYN, Karen Harper's Kat Ashley novel, a novel in the form of a memoir by Katharine Ashley, Queen Elizabeth I's faithful governess and lady-in-waiting, to Rachel Kahan at Putnam, for publication in 2010, by Meg Ruley at Jane Rotrosen Agency (NA.)


Jon Voelkel and Pamela Voelkel's JAGUAR STONES trilogy, beginning with MIDDLEWORLD, about a 14-year-old who follows his parents down to South America after they disappear on an archaeological dig, and begins a wild adventure through the Mayan underworld against a background of haunted temples, zombie armies and human sacrifice (a previously published edition already sold 10,000 copies), to Elizabeth Law at Egmont, for three books, at auction, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House.


Rachel Hartman's SERAPHINA, pitched "in the vein of Gail Carson Levine and Tamora Pierce," about a teenage girl coming of age in a world where dragons can take human form, set against a series of magical secrets, royal scandals, family loyalties, moving to Jim Thomas at Random House (originally sold to Atheneum), for two books, at auction, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House (world English).



Mother of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, the NYT bestselling author and humanitarian who died of Dysautonomic Mitochrondrial Myopathy at age 13, Jeni Stepanek's MESSENGER: The Legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek and Heartsongs, telling of the years before Mattie got sick, how he handled losing his older brother when he was three to the same disease, his decision to dedicate himself to helping people embrace peace and hope, and how, when he became a celebrity, Jeni helped to keep him grounded, including previously unpublished material from Mattie (poetry, excerpts from his essays, and email correspondence with some of his famous friends), and a foreword by Maya Angelou, to Carrie Thornton at Dutton, in a pre-empt, for publication in November 2009, by Dan Strone at Trident Media Group (world).


Taras Grescoe's STRAPHANGER, a narrative look at the end of the golden age of the car, as visionary designers and urban planners in cities around the world develop innovative alternatives to urban sprawl and congestion to create the inconceivable: a car-free urban world, to Webster Younce at Holt, in a pre-empt, by Michelle Tessler at Tessler Literary Agency (World).

Obamanomics author and former LBO expert at Goldman Sachs John Talbott's THE 86 BIGGEST LIES ON WALL STREET, knowing the players and how the game is played, to Dan Simon at Seven Stories, for publication in June 2009 (World).


Maxime Valette and Guillaume Passaglia's F MY LIFE, based on the website (and the original French website and book), telling horrible, horrific, and humorous anecdotes of others' misfortune, now with never-before-seen-entries and illustrations, to Ryan Doherty at Villard, for July publication, by Elsa Lafon at Michel Lafon Publishing (world English).


Former President George W. Bush's memoir DECISION POINTS, about a dozen personal and presidential choices, such as his choice of Dick Cheney as VP and sending troops to Iraq, his religious faith and his criticized response to Hurricane Katrina, to Stephen Rubin at Crown, with Sean Desmond editing, in a major deal, reportedly for $7 million (Lynn Sher in the Daily Beast), for publication in fall 2010, by Robert Barnett of Williams & Connolly.

Pat Conroy's THE DEATH OF SANTINI, about his often abusive and complicated father's final days, and Pat's coming to terms with him (a Marine fighter pilot who inspired the novel The Great Santini, remembered by many for Robert Duvall's Oscar-nominated film portrayal of him), to Stephen Rubin and Nan Talese at Doubleday, by Marly Rusoff at Marly Rusoff & Associates (world).

Twesigye Jackson Kaguri with Susan Urbanek Linville's THE PRICE OF STONES: Building a School in Africa, the inspiring story of the author's struggle to found a school for AIDS orphans in his home village in Uganda, to Carolyn Carlson at Viking Penguin, in a pre-empt, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (World).


NBCC-nominated New Yorker critic Richard Brody's NEW WAVE IS NOW, an argument that the French New Wave heritage is not just highly influential, but is actually stifling contemporary filmmaking, to Riva Hocherman at Metropolitan, for publication in 2013, by Anna Stein at Irene Skolnick Agency (NA).


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Writers..$75 a year Business License?!!!!!

From San Diego Union-Tribune:

2:00 a.m. March 22

City fees on writers – foolish or immoral?

The San Diego City Council continues to delay and trivialize grave revenue management issues that have faced us for decades – essentially putting putty in the dike when a new concept in flood control is needed. To cite current, onerous examples: business taxes and the forcing of “small businesses” to pay separate fees for trash removal...

[Scroll down list...Click on link above to continue reading]


Thursday, March 19, 2009

The price for Bush's "book"....

From Levine Breaking News:

***George W. Bush is getting $7 million for his memoir, tentatively titled "Decision Points," scheduled for a 2010 release by Crown, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Interesting Books Coming....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:



Platinum-selling country recording artist Sara Evans' debut novel, the first in a series, written with author Rachel Hauck, an "emotional, Southern-flavored, multi-generational tale, featuring a compelling love story," to Thomas Nelson, in a four-book deal.


Dagger Award-winning author (Sharp Objects, Dark Places) Gillian Flynn's GONE GIRL, about a Chicago man who arrives home on his anniversary to find his wife missing and indications of a struggle and he swiftly becomes the prime suspect, as the subsequent investigation reveals more than anyone could have imagined about this seemingly-perfect young couple, plus another literary thriller, to Sarah Knight at Shaye Areheart Books, by Stephanie Kip Rostan at the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (world and audio;).

Edgar-nominated thriller writer, Meg Gardiner's two new novels featuring forensic psychiatrist (she psychoanalyzes dead people) Jo Beckett, again to Ben Sevier at Dutton, by Deborah Schneider at Gelfman Schneider (US).

Three of Gardiner's books, to Patrick Janson-Smith at Blue Door, by Sheila Crowley at Curtis Brown UK.

Paul Grossman's THE SLEEPWALKERS, set in pre-Nazi Berlin, in the final weeks of the Weimar republic, which pits the rising Nazi tide against a Jewish detective on the Berlin police trying to solve a case of human medical experimentation, to Michael Homler at St. Martin's, in a pre-empt, in a two-book deal, by Jon Sternfeld at the Irene Goodman Agency (World).


NYPL Young Lions finalist Zachary Mason's THE LOST BOOKS OF THE ODYSSEY, originally published by Starcherone books, imagining an ancient encrypted book, recently decoded, that contains a series of surprising alternatives to the narrative of Odyssey as it has come down to us, to Jonathan Galassi at Farrar, Straus, for publication in fall of 2009, by Bill Clegg at the William Morris Agency (NA).

Sheila Kohler's BECOMING JANE EYRE, about how Jane Eyre came to be written, which at the same time gives us a marvelous sense of Charlotte Bronte's life with her father, two younger sisters and only brother in the isolated parsonage on the Yorkshire moors, to Kathryn Court at Penguin, by Robin Straus at Robin Straus Agency.

Michelle Moran's MASKS OF THE REVOLUTION, about the life of Madame Tussaud, in which young Marie Tussaud joins the gilded but troubled court of Marie Antoinette, and survived the French Revolution by creating "Death Masks" of the beheaded aristocracy, to Heather Proulx at Crown, by Daniel Lazar at Writers House (NA).

Jessica Francis Kane's THE REPORT, set in London during WWII, the story of a man charged with the responsibility of investigating a shocking air raid shelter accident and how he decides to handle the question of blame, to Fiona McCrae at Graywolf, in a nice deal, for publication in spring 2010, by Liz Darhansoff at Darhansoff, Verrill, Feldman (world).


Former Wall Street "Quant", physicist, and director of the Columbia University financial engineering program Emmanuel Derman's TIME DECAY: A Meditation on Options Theory, Life, and the Passage of Time, exploring our relationship to risk and the dangers of relying on models for any kind of endeavor, financial or otherwise, to Hilary Redmon at Free Press, for publication in May 2011, by John Brockman at Brockman (NA).


The final volume in historian Rick Perlstein's "Backlash" trilogy, covering the 1970s and the rise of Ronald Reagan (following Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, and Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus), to Jonathan Karp at Twelve, for delivery in approximately five years, by Tina Bennett at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).

The Last Spy author and journalist Andrew Meier's THE HOUSE OF MORGENTHAU, the epic story of one of the great American families, men and women who set down roots in the New World and lost everything only to grow rich again, who played pivotal roles in the Wilson and FDR administrations, helped elect JFK, decried mass murder during the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust, waged war, and created a dynasty; based upon full access by the Morgenthau family to family papers, correspondence, diaries, photographs, and home movies -- and lengthy interviews with surviving members, including outgoing New York DA Robert Morgenthau, to Susan Kamil and Tim Bartlett at Random House, at auction, by Lynn Nesbit at Janklow & Nesbit (NA).

Simon Tofield SIMON'S CAT, based on the popular animated series, to Karen Kosztolnyik at Grand Central, in a pre-empt, in two-book deal, by Andrea Joyce of Canongate UK (US).

Eric Idle, ed.'s MONTY PYTHON LIVE!, with contributions by John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin of memories of their wild touring years in a four-color oversized paperback also including some of their most famous routines and memorabilia as well never-before-published scripts, to Hyperion, for publication in fall 2009, by Matt Bialer at Sanford J. Greenburger Associates (world English).

Lilit Marcus's SAVE THE ASSISTANTS: A Book for the Beleaguered, based on the blog of the same name devoted to the darkly humorous ups and downs of assistant life, expanding on the horror stories, celebrity assistant gossip, and a boss glossary, and adding prescriptive advice on how to gracefully navigate the world of office politics, to Hyperion, for publication in April 2010, by Rebecca Gradinger at Finchley Road Literary.

Kasper Hauser's OBAMA'S BLACKBERRY, an imagined glimpse into Obama's beloved PDA, merging the already funny new language of text and email ("hey bb watcha doin L8r? ; ) with specific satire of America's most-watched people: the first family, Biden, Palin, DiFi, Rush, Hannity, Bush, Oprah, and the first puppy, to John Parsley at Little, Brown, in a pre-empt, for publication in June 2009, by Danielle Svetcov at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (World).

USAir Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger's memoir, to William Morrow, reportedly for between $2.5 million and $3.2 million by various reports, at auction, in a two-book deal (the second said by the Daily Beast to be a collection of inspirational poetry), by Jan Miller at Dupree Miller & Associates.

Pop Culture
Founder of Duncan Birmingham's PETS WHO WANT TO KILL THEMSELVES, embracing our universal tendancy to infantilize our pets, containing photos of pets dressed up in clothing and looking miserable, with commentary from the author, to Heather Proulx at Three Rivers Press, in a pre-empt, by Kate Lee at ICM.

GQ correspondent and This American Life contributor Brett Martin's DIFFICULT MEN, a look at the rise of cable television dramas since the late 1990's, examining the cultural, technological and artistic forces that turned the 13-episode format into the ideal vehicle to tell the 21st Century American story, with The Sopranos' David Chase, The Wire's David Simon, and Mad Men's Matthew Weiner, among others, as main characters, to Eamon Dolan at Penguin Press, by Daniel Greenberg at Levine Greenberg Literary Agency (World).

Author of HUNTING EICHMANN Neal Bascomb's THE NEW COOL: A Season Inside the Super Bowl of Smarts and How the FIRST Robotics Competition May Be the Future of Education, which follows three high school teams during the design, buildout and head to head combat of their robots in stadiums around the country, a highly pressured world where teams succeed due to both innovation and cooperation, founded by the genius and visionary Dean Kamen and now a worldwide phenomenon, to Rick Horgan at Crown, at auction, by Scott Waxman at Waxman Literary Agency (NA).

740 Park author Michael Gross's PLATINUM TRIANGLE, a social history that will uncover the lives and lifestyles of the owners of the most extravagant trophy homes in Beverly Hills, Bel Air and Holmby Hills -- the Los Angeles estate district, again to Peter Gethers for Broadway, by Dan Strone at Trident Media Group.


Big News..San Diego's newspaper sold...

Articles around the nation via :

So the news broke this morning that San Diego's newspaper, the San Diego Union-Tribune, has been sold to David H. Black of Black Press thru a mergers and acquisitions corp, Platinum Equity of Beverley Hills, CA.

That news has gone nationwide. Believe me, San Diegans are mighty interested in just who is taking over the paper. They're also delighted to have David Copley no longer involved. The U-T has been a very Republican leaning paper, but at this point, San Diegans have more registered Democrats than Republicans, so we're hoping the new owner will lean Democratic. Hope springs eternal.

[Use link above to continue reading}


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Back to normal next week...

A quick note to rejoice that the Indys have returned! Cannot tell you how delighted I was to see them. Take a look at the left side of this blog...and there they are in all their glory! Many thanks to the guy in San Francisco who produced this, to me, miracle!

The gathering of writers this eve was great...right up until the patio filled with people, adding to the crowd inside, plus a DJ piped out to the patio and practically drowning everybody out. So voices were raised and the roar of the crowds there, celebrating St Pat's Day, made it impossible to hear or converse. We wrapped up our gathering early and got out of there. Next Tues should be back to normal.


Restaurant patios and enjoying people....

And still no Indys!!! Really miss reading what all those folks have to say about everything everywhere.

Had breakfast, as usual, on the hotel patio this morn. Along comes one of the delivery men. A young man. Very nice guy. Has a copy of a novel I wrote with a Navy SEAL about his two tours in Vietnam. Said he really liked it. Then I find that he, himself, had seen combat in the Army in Iraq. Two tours. More, both he and his wife were there, she being Army too. And they'd wed over there. Was sort of strange that they weren't allowed to marry here, but could in Iraq.

Anyway, it seems that when he joined, he was trained as a tank mechanic. He got over there and suddenly he's assigned to fix trucks! Strange things happen in the military. :))

I really enjoy sitting on the patio. Always meeting interesting people. Last week met an 80 year old lady who asked if she could join me. Feisty as hell, that lady. And then of course the English historian who joined us last Friday.

As a writer, I'm fascinated by other humans. Not a thing in this world interests me more. Everybody has a story and every one of them is interesting. Writers are observers, so I sit on that patio or on the back porch of the Deli at Seaport and just observe. Yesterday, I see this youngish couple take a table on the plaza below. She waits. He goes and gets a pitcher of beer. Pours hers, then his. But didn't sit down. Instead, he walked a distance away, stood alongside the sidewalk, lit a cigarette, smoked it, then returned to the table. I think they won't be a couple very long.

Down in Texas, there's a columnist/blogger named Leon Hale. Guess he must be closing in on 80. Sits on his porch and writes his blog posts about anything and everything that comes to mind. And his commentors...he has a big batch of about similar things that have occured in their lives. Talk about a relaxing read. I get a bit stressed by the end of the day, I just get right over to Mr Hale's blog, read and relax. It reminds me of sitting behind the adults on my grandmother's porch and listening to them talk when I was a kid.

In 45 minutes, I'll be leaving for the Tues eve writers' gathering in Mission Valley. We gather on a nicely enclosed patio there. Fans and heaters both overhead and big TVs hung up there too. Lots of sports fans in the bar/restaurant. Can smoke on the patio. So always check on the soup du jour. Those cooks make the most delicious tomato soup and luscious cream of broccoli. But not often. Most times vegetable barley or beef vegetable or chicken rice and similar kinds. Problem is, those latter soups are spicy hot! Burn my tongue, my throat, even my lips. Ouch! I swear the cooks lace them with jalapeno pepper juice. Dread to think what they've fired up tonight. One of those and I'm for a big Idaho baked potato with butter, sour cream and chives. Only thing I dislike is driving straight into the setting sun on the way home, now that the time has changed.


Monday, March 16, 2009

Suffering with Indy withdrawal pains....

Woe is me. I'm in the midst of terrible withdrawal symptoms. The Indy Weblogs (or the Indy 500s if you prefer)at have disappeared. Don't know what's happened. The San Francisco guy who gets them online...there are about 450 different blogs...has changed his server. Must be all out war up there by this time.

In any case, every 4 hours, 24 hours a day, the old posts go away and a new set appears...the recent posts. The Indys are Dems and post political thoughts, except for a few who are, now that it's spring, talking about their gardens. What a group they are. There are doctors, lawyers, Indian Chiefs, scientists, journalists, DC name it, they post. And they have plenty to say. Except for a few, very very intelligent people.

So they're a pleasure to read and I'm missing them something fierce, since I read thru at least 3 sets of their posts daily.

Thank heavens for newspapers. I finally took the time to set up a folder just for the newspapers on my favorites list. Turned out there were at least 30 or more. And still my favorites list goes on and on with blog after blog. Good thing because I can't get to the Indys. Haven't been able to since yesterday morning, when everything disappeared. Cannot imagine what's happened in San Francisco to cause this, and neither can the guy who originated the whole idea in New Jersey.

So here I am in San Diego. Deprived of the Indys, I went walking down at Seaport Village early this afternoon. Love living next to the Pacific. Looked at the harbor, but no sight of the whale that has detoured into it. Did see the Navy SEALs in a couple of their very fast boats, just whipping along on the Coronado side, obviously heading for their base over there. Quite a mess of guys, they are. As are the Seabees whose base is just across the Strand from the SEAL base. Wonder how many people know that the Seabees train with the Marines? Pass MCRD on Pacific Hwy on the way to Seaport.

Always end the walk at the Seaport Deli. Get coffee, light a smoke, and sit on their back's a wooden building with porches all around...and watch the people running around the little plaza there while the Andean musicians play.

Talk about the passing parade! Every kind of person, some with ice cream from the Baskin Robbins alongside or standing in line at the Fudge Factory or with their kids at the carousel, or just sitting at the round tables on the plaza.

Life is good...but I miss the hell out of the Indys.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


From Levine Breaking News:


Surfers on the Internet are at increasing risk from governments and corporations tracking the sites they visit to build up a picture of their activities, the founder of the World Wide Web said on Friday. Tim Berners-Lee, whose proposal for an information management system at the European Organization for Nuclear Research CERN 20 years ago led eventually to the World Wide Web, said tracking website visits in this way could build an incredibly detailed profile of who people are and their habits.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Week's selection...Films and Books....

From Publishers Lunch Weekly...


Robin Oliveira's MY NAME IS MARY SUTTER, set in the mid-19th century, following the aspirations and difficulties of a brilliant, somewhat odd, yet remarkable young midwife from Albany, New York whose lofty hope of becoming a surgeon far exceeds what her family, physicians, and medical schools of her time are willing to accept, and she travels to Washington, DC to work in the Civil War hospitals, only to find the challenges formidable and the pull of home unavoidable, to Kathryn Court at Viking Penguin, in a pre-empt, by Marly Rusoff of Marly Rusoff & Associates (NA).

Maile Chapman's YOUR PRESENCE IS REQUESTED AT SUVANTO, the story of an isolated American nurse working at a remote convalescent women's hospital in 1920s Finland and the mounting menace that takes hold of the place, to Ethan Nosowsky at Graywolf, for publication in April 2010, by Jim Rutman at Sterling Lord Literistic (World English).


Liane Moriarty's WHAT ALICE FORGOT, the story of a 29-year-old woman who is madly in love with her husband and pregnant with their first child -- who wakes up at the gym and discovers she's actually 39 years old, has three children and is in the middle of a very nasty divorce, a fall has erased the last ten years of her memory, but it turns out that forgetting might be the most memorable thing that's ever happened to Alice, to Amy Einhorn at Amy Einhorn Books, at auction, by Faye Bender at Faye Bender Literary Agency, on behalf of Fiona Inglis at Curtis Brown Australia (NA).

Author of STANDING STILL, Kelly Simmons's THE BIRDHOUSE, told from the perspective of two sets of diary entries written 40 years apart, about a woman whose innocent family history project with her granddaughter takes a dark turn as long-held secrets that could tear the family apart begin to resurface through the haze of her early Alzheimer's symptoms, to Sarah Walsh at Atria, by Dorian Karchmar at the William Morris Agency.


Feature film rights to Ann Pearlman's forthcoming THE CHRISTMAS COOKIE CLUB, to CBS Films, with Academy Award winner Wendy Finerman (P.S. I Love You, The Devil Wears Prada,Forrest Gump") at Wendy Finerman Productions producing, and agent Peter Miller at PMA executive producing.

David Kinney's forthcoming THE BIG ONE: An Island, an Obsession, and the Furious Pursuit of a Great Fish, (now at Grove/Atlantic for April 2009), the story of Martha Vineyard's annual fishing derby, a month-long affair which pits neighbor against neighbor, islander against mainlander, and turns the island upside down in the all-consuming quest for the biggest fish, to Dreamworks co-president Holly Bario, with Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci producing, in a pre-empt, by Sarah Self at The Gersh Agency, on behalf of Larry Weissman at Larry Weissman Literary.


Michael Hemmingson's RAYMOND CARVER: A Critical Biography, an interpretative approach to Raymond Carver's life, placing the writer's biography within the context of American history, politics, economics, and the literary landscape of the time, examining the content of the short stories in relation to what was happening in Carver's life, how much was autobiography and how much fiction, and how alcohol affected the common themes of Carver's work, to Gary Mitchem at McFarland, in a nice deal, for publication in 2011 (NA).


Barry Ritholtz's BAILOUT NATION: How Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy, cancelled by McGraw-Hill (the book is critical of McGraw's Standard & Poor's rating service, but the publisher claimed it cancelled for other reasons), to Kevin Commins at Wiley, at auction, for publication in May 2009, by Lloyd Jassin.


Annie Jacobsen's THE WIZARDS OF GROOM LAKE: The Uncensored History of Area 51, an investigation into the military's storied secret Nevada base -- frequent subject of alien conspiracy theories, urban legends, and other fantastic rumors -- based on the first interviews ever conducted with the commanders, technicians and test pilots who worked there, to John Parsley at Little, Brown, by Jim Hornfischer at Hornfischer Literary Management (world).

URANIUM: War, Energy, and the Rock that Shaped the World author Tom Zoellner's TRAIN: The Idea that Created the Modern World, exploring the past and future of this 190-year-old idea, and structured around a series of trips the author will make along eight of the world's great railway lines, each one illustrating a particular sociological feature of railroads and trains that have affected the lives of millions, to Kathryn Court at Viking Penguin, by Brettne Bloom at Kneerim & Williams (World).

Military historian Barry Strauss's CAPTAINS: ALEXANDER, HANNIBAL AND CAESAR, to Bob Bender at Simon & Schuster, by Cathy Hemming Literary Agency, in association with McCormick & Williams (world).

NYT bestselling author and Jeopardy! record-holder Ken Jennings's MAPHEAD, exploring the world of map nuts and geography obsessives, from the days of "Here be dragons" to the spinning globes of grade school to the revolution that is Google Maps, to Brant Rumble at Scribner, by Jud Laghi at LJK Literary Management (NA).


Conor Grennan's story of volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal after college and later opening his own orphanage in Katmandu, and his efforts to reunite lost children with their families, to Laurie Chittenden at William Morrow, at auction, by Trena Keating at Endeavor.

Daughter of John Gotti, Victoria Gotti's GOTTI CONFIDENTIAL, in which she promises to "set the record straight -- warts and all," including "first-hand accounts and contributions from the entire family," adding that "this was not a project I ever intended to do; however, after years and years of rumors and innuendos, this book was born out of necessity," to Louise Burke at Pocket, for publication on September 29, 2009, by Frank Weimann of The Literary Group (world).


Monday, March 09, 2009

Reg smokes gonna be weaker...

From Congressional Quarterly via

Nicotine Regulation Bill Gains Steam

Drew Armstrong and Alex Wayne, Congressional Quarterly: "The federal government would gain the power to decide the strength of each cigarette's nicotine hit under a bill starting to advance through Congress. On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee took a major step toward giving the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) broad powers to regulate tobacco."

[Use link above to continue reading]


Poor Genes? No Insurance....

From The Sydney Morning Herald:

Insurance refused due to poor genes

Australians have been refused insurance protection because of their genetic make-up.

[Use link above to continue reading]


Sunday, March 08, 2009

Correction on smoking tax....

WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats have chosen an unlikely source to pay for the bulk of their proposed $35 billion increase in children's health coverage: people with relatively little money and education.

The program expansion passed by the House and Senate last week would be financed with a 156 percent increase in the federal cigarette tax, taking it to $1 per pack from the current 39 cents. Low-income people smoke more heavily than do wealthier people in the United States, making cigarette taxes a regressive form of revenue.

Democrats, who wrote the legislation and provided most of its votes, generally portray themselves as champions of the poor. They do not dispute that the tax plan would hit poor communities disproportionately, but they say it is worth it to provide health insurance to millions of modest-income children.

All the better, they say, if higher cigarette taxes discourage smoking.


Thursday, March 05, 2009


So I stopped at Robby's liquor store to pick up 2 lotto tickets this morning and he gave me a heads-up:

First thing this morning, the price of a pack of smokes went up $1.00. That's $1.00 per PACK!!! Thus $10 per carton.

Those of us who smoke are a vulnerable population. Easy to trash, easy to tax. We're a deadly danger to non-smokers supposedly. I'm still waiting for somebody to drop over dead having caught a whiff of my smoke. Outside. Think I'm gonna wait a long long time.

An LA Coroner once said that in examining corpses, he could always tell whether that person had lived in the city, but couldn't tell if they smoked.

Me, I have a question: Would you rather be a passenger in a car with a driver who smoked or one who drank? Check out the accident reports.

More, when it comes to language, pay attention: Smoking-RELATED deaths...Related how? To what degree? No question that one covers any and every situation...accurately or not.

Question #2: There's a choice: Do they want the smokers to quit smoking? Or do they want that tax money? Seems to me to be opposing aims.

Needless to say, I am not happy.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

All Kinds and Sizes of Books...

From Publishers Lunch Weekly:



Washington Post contributor Terence Shine's NOTHING HAPPENS UNTIL IT HAPPENS TO YOU, a humorous first novel about life after the pink slip, of finding inspiration in unlikely places and making a fresh start after personal catastrophe, to John Glusman for Shaye Areheart Books, by Elyse Cheney at Elyse Cheney Agency (world).


NY Times bestseller Laura Lippman's novel, THE GIRL IN THE GREEN RAINCOAT, just serialized in the New York Times Magazine, a twist on Rear Window in which Tess Monaghan on bedrest sees something suspicious outside but can't leave the house, to Carrie Feron at William Morrow, by Vicky Bijur of the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency.


Philip Roth's 31st book, NEMESIS, about a wartime polio epidemic in the summer of 1944 and the effect it has on a closely-knit, family-oriented Newark community and its children, to Andrea Schulz at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, for publication in 2010, by Andrew Wylie at The Wylie Agency.

Nic Pizzolatto's GALVESTON, in which a small-time mob enforcer narrowly escapes a brutal attempt on his life and finds himself on the run with a young prostitute whose secrets threaten both their chances for survival, to Colin Harrison at Scribner, by Henry Dunow at Dunow, Carlson & Lerner (NA).



Marc Eliot's CLINT EASTWOOD, following the biographies of Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, and Ronald Reagan's Hollywood Years, this book follows in the same vein as a definitive biography of the legend himself, Clint Eastwood, to Julia Pastore at Harmony, for publication in Fall 2009, by Alan Nevins at Renaissance (World).

Professor of art history, American studies, and women studies at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of CUNY Gail Levin, Ph.D.'s THE LIFE AND TIMES OF LEE KRASNER: An Artist's Biography, examining Krasner's evolution as an artist during the pre-feminist era and after from a woman's perspective, outside the context of Jackson Pollock, to Henry Ferris at William Morrow, in a very nice deal, by Loretta Barrett at Barrett Books.


CMO of Kodak Jeffrey Hayzlett's NO GUTS, NO GLORY: Why Your Business Isn't Working and How To Fix It, courageous ideas on how to reconceptualize any business for success, to Rick Wolff at Business Plus, for publication in Spring 2010, by Wendy Keller at Keller Media (World).

Economists Nouriel Roubini and Stephen Mihm's CRISIS ECONOMICS, introducing the iconoclastic vision that enabled Roubini to foretell the current crisis before other economists saw it coming, looking at of how we got here and what the future may hold, to Eamon Dolan at Penguin Press, by Wes Neff at Leighco (world).


NYT Berlin bureau chief Nicholas Kulish and reporter Souad Mekhennet's book based on their recent front page NYT story on notorious Nazi war criminal Aribert Heim, known as Dr. Death, who eluded investigators and might never have been found but for the discovery of a battered briefcase containing documents that help chart Heim's path from his sadistic acts at the Mauthausen concentration camp to his post-war years and eventual flight to Egypt, where he converted to Islam, then later died in penurious anonymity, still one step ahead of Nazi hunters, to Phyllis Grann at Doubleday, by Marly Rusoff at Marly Rusoff & Associates (for Kulish) and Kirby Kim at Endeavor (for Mekhennet) (world English).
Translation/film: Endeavor

William Craig's YANKEE COME HOME: On the Road from Guantánamo to San Juan Hill, a journey along the Spanish-American War battle trail which examines America's century-long relationship with Cuba and the consequences of abandoning our revolutionary ideals, to George Gibson at Walker, by Wendy Strothman at The Strothman Agency (world English).


Subject of the Academy Award-winning documentary MAN ON WIRE, Philippe Petit's author-illustrated journal chronicling his latest project: single-handedly building a post and beam "barnette" using 18th century tools and methods, to Bob Miller at Harper Studio, by Susan Ginsburg at Writers House.


Anousheh Ansari's BE THE CHANGE! THE MEMOIRS OF ANOUSHEH ANSARI, written with Homer Hickam, detailing Anousheh's escape from Iran, her experience as the first Muslim woman in space, how she fell in love and attained her fortune, and the life lessons she discovered along the way, in a very nice deal, to Airie Stuart at Palgrave, by Frank Weimann of The Literary Group.


Boris Kachka's HOTHOUSE, the full story of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, the country's last and greatest independent publishing house, the era and the city that made it, and the people who had fought for (and over) it, to Marcia Markland at Thomas Dunne Books, by Jane Dystel at Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (NA).


LPGA player Kris Tschetter with Steve Eubanks' BEN HOGAN AND ME, a memoir of her friendship with the late legendary golfer and what he taught her about the sport and about life, to Bill Shinker at Gotham, with Patrick Mulligan editing, by Michael Harriot at Vigliano Associates (world).


Tuesday, March 03, 2009

From Rush/Jindal to

From American Progress:

Think Fast...

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) said he was "glad" that RNC Chairman Michael Steele apologized to Rush Limbaugh. Jindal, who has been hailed by Limbaugh as "the next Ronald Reagan," said, "I think Rush is a leader for many conservatives and says things that people are concerned about."

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration is fleshing out its plan to rescue failing banks. The administration "is considering creating multiple investment funds to purchase the bad loans and other distressed assets that lie at the heart of the financial crisis, according to people familiar with the matter."

Conservatives for Patients' Rights, a new group led by the former owner of the Hospital Corporation of America, is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign today in opposition to President Obama's health care reform agenda. The group "is enlisting a group of veteran Republican consultants to fashion a multi-media battle, warning against the move toward more government involvement."

President Obama's nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, Ron Kirk, "has agreed to pay $10,000 in back taxes for speaking fees that he did not report as income and for deducting the cost of season tickets to the Dallas Mavericks basketball games."

Yesterday, the Justice Department disclosed nine secret legal opinions issued by Bush administration lawyers after the Sept. 11 attacks, which "included assertions that the president could use the nation's military within the United States to combat terrorism suspects and to conduct raids without obtaining search warrants." The memos are "the clearest illustration to date of the broad definition of presidential power approved by government lawyers in the months after the Sept. 11 attacks."

President Obama sent a secret letter to Russia's president Dmitri Medvedev last month "suggesting that he would back off deploying a new missile defense system in Eastern Europe if Moscow would help stop Iran from developing” nuclear warheads and long range missiles. "It's almost saying to them, put up or shut up," said a senior administration official.

According to a senior State Department Official, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said yesterday in a meeting with the foreign minister of the UAE that “she is doubtful that Iran will respond to any kind of engagement and opening the hand out and reaching out to them." Her remarks offer “some evidence of a debate within the administration over the overture to Iran -- a major theme of President Obama’s presidential campaign.”

Just days before a California Supreme Court hearing on Proposition 8, the state's Legislature approved a resolution yesterday "declaring that voters alone did not have the right to adopt the gay-marriage ban." The nonbinding resolution claims that "[s]weeping revisions can only be adopted...if they originate in the Legislature, gain two-thirds approval in that body and then win approval by voters."

"One in every 31 adults, or 7.3 million Americans, is in prison, on parole or probation," a new Pew Center on the States study reports. State spending on prisons quadrupled over the last 20 years, despite the fact that crime dropped 25 percent during that time. "Criminal correction spending is outpacing budget growth in education, transportation and public assistance. ... Only Medicaid spending grew faster than state corrections spending."

And finally: Looking for ways to remember George W. Bush? Visit The D.C. Examiner reports some of the "classic" and "commemorative" merchandise available on the site. "[T]here's always the 'Thank You President Bush' bumper sticker ($1.50 each, but there are volume discounts for large orders!) or the ever-popular merchandise with the simple 'W' logo."


Monday, March 02, 2009

Putting Psychics Out of a Job...

From Levine Breaking News:

***The U.S. Army has granted researchers $4 million to develop technology to read a persons thoughts.