In ancient Rome, the penalty for screwing up politically was to be thrown from the Tarpeian Rock, a cliff at the edge of Rome's Capitoline Hill.
Rome suffered economic reversals the same way we have recently. In 33 AD, Tiberius enfored a ceiling on interest rates which resulted in a severe credit crunch (Tacitus, The Annals - Book VI, 16-17). "Hence followed a scarcity of money, a great shock being given to all credit, the current coin too...a fall of prices, and the deeper a man was in debt, the more reluctantly did he part with his property and many were utterly ruined... The destruction of private wealth precipitated the fall of rank and reputation, till at last, the emperor interposed."
Tiberius accused Sextus Marius, the richest man in Spain, of incest (trumped up charge) and had him thrown from the Tarpeian Rock. He used Marius' money to, "distribute through the banks a hundred million sesterces, and allowing freedom to borrow without interest for three years."
The fight ended in a technical knock-out early in the first round. Devin was all over "the Gorilla" like a cheap suit. The Gorilla's face was bashed and bleeding, but they cleaned him up for Devin's triumphal victory announcement.
(a summary of my new book for those who follow my blog)
White Powder is a story of star-crossed lovers who come together quite by accident in a tale of intrigue, set in the CIA's Secret War in Indochina in 1961. The novel does not blink in its portrayal of the echoes of timeless tension between political expediency and moral imperatives, which lead to choices with enduring consequences. The politics of opium and heroin intertwine with the cold war as competing national interests threaten to tear young love apart.
US Army Special Forces Captain Craig Burton leads a reconnaissance team, successfully infiltrating areas under near total enemy control. Walter Kennedy, a shifty, manipulative, CIA case officer who prefers to remain in the shadows plays a game of both-ends-against-the-middle to benefit himself. Charlotte Sabon, tempetuous, impulsive, with a hand in the family opium trade falls head over heels in love with Burton, for whom she has plans of her own.
The author combines his own vivid experiences to create a compelling view of real events in a fictional setting. The characters pop off the page as you delve deeper into the world of White Powder where governments and drug empires collide.
Griffin Henry came into the world about an hour and a half ago. I hope he will inherit a good country, filled with opportunity, with culture and a love for learning. Grandparents have the right to hope.
0250 HRS This date: I woke up, feeling a strange sense of disquiet - not at all ominous. I walked down stairs and into my den.
0256 HRS My son-in-law, Braden called telling me that my daughter, Amanda was just admitted and that she's in labor. Griffin, my first grandchild is on the way.
Her due date was 25 JAN 09 so he's more or less on schedule. Her pregnancy was nominal to profile, which is to say all of the pains and delights of the experience came more or less as they have to billions of other mothers with no serious complications.
Now it's a waiting game.
I'll take a shower, throw some clothes on and drive down to the hospital to see how she's coming along.
In the jargon of the business, spies are called "old whores" because they more or less do anything to meet stated objectives. In other words, the end justifies the means within stated guidelines. Essentially spies gather seeds of what might someday become intelligence, think about what they found, scratch their collective heads, argue with each other, go steal more information, chew on that, bake a batch of theories, try to apply them and get their asses kicked by skeptics, breed indigestion, gulp a pill, doze off, get insights, badger their bosses, submit to peer-review ridicule, wonder why they do this vacuous task, so at odds from what they were promised: Protect the Nation.
Either they reconcile themselves to reality or kiss up to get a management position.
Not alone in the world, spies succumb to the baneful outcome of all professions. People who feel unsuccessful at work become hectors.
The lucky survive long enough to retire--or they resign, forgo NOVA reenactments of civil wars, set up shop for spy contracts, hobnob with cash-fat lobbyists, imagine a novel that will pay the bills, peck away at what will surely be eviscerated upon Agency review then trashed and rejected by literary bottom feeders.
Months later, worn out by family accusations of, 'what are you doing now', they ask for reinstatement into the secret sanctuary of fiddling with paper clips since the open world offers no rewards either.
The marriage started following a stern warning I gave the groom. I said, "Don't do it!" My terms were far more strident, far more epithets were used, but you get the point.
Marrying a prostitute, even a successful prostitute is never a great idea. Marrying an insane prostitute is a downright BAD idea.
The groom, hereafter nameless, was scheduled to be released at the end of this month from the Nevada State Prison system where he has been doing hard time for allegedly setting fire to, and burning Xiao Ping's whorehouse. A penologist known to me advised that the date has been "bumped back" for unspecified reasons but the groom should taste freedom sometime in 2009.
I'm not saying that your friends are always right.
However Kipling was correct when he wrote, "Howsoever love be blind, the world at large hath eyes."
I know that it's popular to cheer for Barack Obama and decry George Bush. I'm concerned that in a couple of years we'll be looking back on the Bush Presidency as the good old days.
I'm not sure why people like Obama. Is it because he's a negro? Is it because they hope they can loot people who have worked harder for their money than they did? Is it human folly? Maybe all the above.
I won't be watching the Obama triumph on television.
I've continued to fill the pages of the new story I'm working on. I also administer two writing groups on-line with a total of about 2,000 writers participating more or less. It includes writing exercises, etc. to improve writing ability.
The creative process can be intoxicating.
Then again its quite another thing when you try to market your work. That's more like getting an ice pick shoved in your ear.
I'm working on my new novel - and am determined to see it get published.
WHITE POWDER: A Novel...
Will take you through the CIA's Secret War in Laos, the dark underworld of Union Corse, the powerful Corsican Mafia and the seamy backwater of Indochina.
Stay tuned for updates and clips fromWHITE POWDER.
"Infiltrating the Corsican Mafia is like trying to ram an apple up a rat's ass. I don't think you have anything to worry about." -- Walter A. Kennedy, CIA Case Officer
"Problem sir." Gorman said, pointing down at one of the dead men. "They're Kuomintang Chinese, not Vietnamese or Laotian. Nationalist Chinese uniforms."
"What are they doing here?" Burton asked himself, still taking in the carnage he wrought inside the building. "Whatever it is, I'm sure it has to do with Opium." --Captain Criag Burton, US Army 77th Special Forces, White Star Mobile Training Team, Laos
"I quickly and eloquently stick the .45 into Mamasan's mouth and said, "You've got a .45 in your mouth."
"She blinked, 'yes'."
"The music snapped off. Everybody with a mind left was listening to the best of their ability because they were vicariously interested in why mamasan would want to have rough sex with me." - Master Sergeant Sam Willoughby, US Army Security Agency
"To my two favorite passtimes, killing and fucking." Raising his glass, Walter Kennedy saluted his invisible friend.
"Killing produces the same satisfaction that accompanies masturbation. What did you say? Yeah, you're right, carrying a gun is something like having a permanent hard-on. Ok, I'll admit that it's a strange rite of manhood -- killing becomes like sex and sex becomes like killing." -- Walter A. Kennedy, CIA Case Officer
"Living with a woman from Chouzhou is like living with a dragon that requires tributes of gold to keep her satiated." Ming nipped at his drink, then finishing it. Glancing furtively for the next one, he ordered again.
"Love and suicide are just like different sides of the same gold coin, which makes me think of an old school Japanese woman. They're the most twisted creatures on the planet but one of those ladies would take my mind off my problems." He popped a few fried grasshoppers in his mouth from a bowl that sat between them."
"Until Mrs. Wu Ming found out." Burton offered.
"She'd slice my fragrant stem from my body while I slept. She's a Chouzhou woman and she has a reputation to maintain." -- Communist Chinese Rezident Wu Ming, Guoanbu (State Security Ministry)
"He withheld information that was critical and in my book that's worse."
"Ever been in love Henry?"
"Plenty of times. What's that got to do with it?" Henry became defensive. -- Section Chief Henry Dastrup, CIA, Vientiane - Laos
Her eyes rose to study him, wondering how and when he would ask her to make love, no, to have sex. That's what it would be with this man. Pure sex. And she would take him; it would not be the other way around. She knew he would offer no pretty words to woo her, no false promises uttered. And then he was in front of her, his hand out for hers. -- Charlotte Sabon, Union Corse
I'm tired of Obama and he hasn't taken office yet.
When he appears on the TV I change the channel or simply turn the television off.
Some nimrod called me today, asking if I wanted to buy an Obama coin. He said it was "gold clad". Isn't that the same thing as gold paint? I suggested the coin was as cheezy as the likeness and said I might buy it if it included a roll of signature toilet paper (below).
The sales person hung up. Maybe they're too cheap to add the Charmin with the Obama likeness on it?
My daughter, Emilie, has been practicing her ballet moves. This one is called "the scorpion". She likes it because that's the name I gave my Toyota FJ. And perhaps because it challenges her flexibility?
Mr. WoFat suggested that I might be interesting in owning a jet pack similar to the one above (Photo from the Boston Globe). While it might be appealing to rent that one, anything like that which I deigned to own would be armed. There are no hard points on the jet pack listed above. Any Junior Bird Man worth his salt would at have something to shoot with - don't you think?
This blog has many elements and depending on your interests, may pique your imagination...or not. I urge you to be unreasonable. Reasonable people adapt themselves to the world. The unreasonable persist in trying to adapt the world to themselves, therefore all progress depends on unreasonable people. The more unreasonable you are, the more likely you are to enjoy this blog. All men dream, but not equally.
If you're a socialist or a Marxist, you'll find that I poke fun at your absurd notions of "good government" on a regular basis. So you might not wish to follow this blog because you'll be offended.
John Locke said, "One unerring mark of the love of truth is not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant." I like what Locke said. We can't theorize without adequate information because when we do we inevitably twist facts to suit theories rather than theories to suit facts. In this blog and in my life, I try to maintain this perspective.
Either you believe in our essential spark of shared divinity, or you succumb to our human insecurity. Either way your conscience lets you slice it, the main thing is to earnestly do what is right at the time.
Today, I balance work and play as much as anyone can. All things remaining equal, play is more important. Life is short - it's important to make every day count for something, if only to yourself.
I'm a former tinker/tailor/soldier/sailor who has now decided that maybe it really wasn't all done for nothing.