Sunday, June 29, 2008

Print is dead!

Dr. Egon Spengler... a modern prophet.  (For the, hopefully, few of you who do not know the works of Dr. Spengler - go here)

Print is officially dead, long live the electron!  I just celebrated my 24th anniversary, and my wife got me a Kindle for a gift.  Wow!!!  I have had many a cool gadget in my day, it’s kind of my schtick, but this is the coolest of them all (until the iPhone 2.0).  But beyond being cool, I think this is the beginning of something big.

Now, I have had many e-book readers in the past, and all of them have sucked ass in one way or another.  The Kindle??  definitely does not suck ass!  While this bit of prose will be a semi-review of the Kindle, keep in mind that I am also talking about the future here, and it may not be the Kindle itself that drives the nail in the coffin of the printing presses.  But the coffin is closing, and things like the Kindle are doing it.

I toyed around with the Sony E-book reader a while, at the Borders store in town and I found it to be cumbersome, fuzzy and generally a joke.  Coupled with the paltry selection of books they have and it’s a dead product.  (And that is not just my pure hatred of Sony coming through, they can’t give them things away.)  I also used every version of my PDA with MS-Reader installed.  Too small for most books.

Well, in walks the Kindle, with it’s gorgeous screen, luscious lines and smoooooth buttons. (Ok the buttons aren’t smooth, but that line was getting kind sexy, no?)  It looks at you, with those little “read me” eyes and says - “I’ll even play your MP3s while you read, baby”.  Face it, you’re doing the reading rumba with this thing before you know it.  Best part is... in the morning, it’s still there, ready for the newspaper and a good comedy.

Truly, the screen on this thing is better than white paper.  It has just the right contrast for me, and the print font is perfect.  Of course, the font is scalable, so you can have teensy print or really big print, your choice.  It does everything a book will do an alot more.  You can dog-ear pages, annotate passages and even look up the really big words in the built in dictionary.

Truly, this thing is a wonder.  But beyond that, I think it is ushering in a new era.  Imagine if you will, an 8th grader on the first day of school.  Rather than getting a ton of books to lug around all year, he gets his Kindle (or similar) device with all the years books already loaded on it.  And not the old books that alot of our school systems are struggling along with, revised updated editions.  All the handouts that teachers would give out are now just uploaded to the classes Kindle’s and assignments are handed in the same way.  Even better, spin this up to the same kid in college.  Same device, just has to get the book(s) for each class uploaded at the beginning of the semester.  The cost savings to the school system are immense, as it is to the publishers and teachers.

Obviously, this is a few years down the road, but even now, I get the New York Times delivered to my Kindle every night, ready to read in the morning.  Time Magazine, same deal.  More are coming all the time.  Granted, Amazon is making money with the Kindle now, selling books and their selection is a tad bit limited.  But I have gone to a bunch of sites that offer many books free, all the great classics are totally free.

While I will not say that the Kindle or it’s progeny will kill print media, a device like it will.  A full blown laptop PC (Macbook Air?) with this screen, in this format is coming soon, and you will see it take the world like the iPod did.  Mark my words.

As to reviewing the Kindle itself, I have a hard time doing it fairly.  The thing is just about perfect.  I’m not sure if I am just so enamored with it, or if it is really this good.  I have thirty books on it right now, and I am finding myself staying up WAY too late reading.  What a joy that is!  The controls are intuitive and VERY easy to use, the management of the device is made incredibly easy by Amazon.  Maybe in a future blog I’ll have some things to say against it, but for now, I can’t give it up.

If you decide to get one, please use my store link to get it so I can buy some good books :)

Saturday, June 21, 2008

E. Gary Gygax. Farewell, and thank you!

E.Gary Gygax - July 27, 1938 - May 4, 2008

I know, I know, he died in May and here it’s June before I get around to this.  Well, let me explain.  For a long time, I thought this guy was one of the bad guys.  Stealing the original D&D game from Dave Arneson and going on to make a bundle of $$ off someone else’s work.  Well, time and age make one do research and it turns out that my youthful derision of EGG was pretty much based in bullshit and here-say.  So, my apologies.  The delay, therefore comes from not really knowing what to say about a guy who changed your life, but you never met him.

Some folks relax by knitting, working on cars, gardening or whatever.  My particular, and favorite method, is Role Playing Games.  When not in one, I like to think about and modify the things that are going on in my world.  Not every waking moment, mind you, but my free time.  I find the mental challenge, the creative expression and the pure satisfaction of creating something to be very relaxing and enjoyable.  I wouldn’t have that were it not for EGG.  Surely, someone else would have done it, maybe better, maybe worse, but in this dimension, it was EGG who did it, and there ya go.  Thanks EGG!

He went through alot of crap in his life, especially when he was in charge of TSR.  He did manage to weather it all and kept doing RPG stuff through his whole life.  In 2007 he was publishing source books for the D20 system.  Pretty cool.

Now, here is a stretch for you.  Do we owe modern pop culture to E. Gary Gygax?  Let me explain.  Gygax makes a game called D&D.  It’s a pen and paper RPG, but then they come out with the Personal Computers (Apple II, Commodore 64 etc).  What games are pushing well on these?  Computerized RPGs.  Yes, there are a bunch more games and software than RPGs, but the D&D type games are a huge push in the industry.  Video technology is pushed by the needs of the game industry.  Some of the BIGGEST selling games ever, on any system, are RPGs.  Final Fantasy, NeverWinter Nights, Oblivion, Daggerfall and a host of other games are all computer RPGs.  I won’t even mention EverCrack, and World of Warcrack.  All this industy, all this development to perfect a system that was originally printed in a chainmail magazine...

Makes you wonder... maybe... a little.

I’d love to ruminate more, but I have to work on Pam’s character a bit so we can play a bit of 4E tonight :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The State of the Music Industry?? Kiss my Arse

Why do stupid but famous people get to talk to the press??  It’s a damn shame, because alot of the time, their opinions are not just wrong, they’re fucking stupid.  Take for example this excerpt from Gene Simmons of KISS.

The music industry is suffering, and it's all because of those darn fans. Er, what? It turns out that KISS member Gene Simmons believes exactly that. He claims that piracy is to blame for the industry's woes, and KISS is apparently taking its ball and going home until the situation gets under control.

"The record industry is dead. It's six feet underground and unfortunately the fans have done this," Simmons said, according to AOL News. "They've decided to download and file share. There is no record industry around so we're going to wait until everybody settles down and becomes civilized. As soon as the record industry pops its head up we'll record new material."

Wow, KISS isn’t going to release anything until this is settled. THANK YOU, GOD!

Mr Simmons, let me help you get your bearings here...

1 - You’re a no talent hack who is famous because of a costume and a brilliant marketing campaign, not the soul searching depth of your musical talent.  After all, you cannot exactly tell me that “Lick it up”, “Detroit rock city”, “Shout it out loud” and “Calling Doctor Love” are staples of the musical library of this or any generation.  Don’t threaten me with something I’ve been hoping for and think it matters...

2 - Piracy to blame for the music industry, get real, old man.  The only reason the music “Industry” is dying is because it HAS to.  It’s an industry mired in the past and cannot seem to figure out that the world has changed a wee bit since Duane Eddy was recording.  The RIAA had alot of chances to make things right, but they clung to the OLD business model.

3 - Your rant about suing every college kid in the world is priceless.  It just really points to how out of touch you and the RIAA are.  You just cannot conceive of the world where the record industry does not own every method and manner of expression in the world.  Wake up, put down the cocaine you can barely afford anymore and join us in the 21st century.

4 - Face it, music is online, now and for ever.  You shouldn’t worry too much about KISS music being stolen, nobody wants it that bad.  But music is going to be stolen as long as it is being overcharged for.  Until you give up your old sales paradigm (album centric) and move to 2008 (song centric) methodology, you’re going to keep losing.  Today’s buyers are not going to buy a CD with 14 songs they don’t want to get the one that they do.  Face it, iTunes and Amazon music will continue to kill you and your kind.

Gene, it’s not the fans, and it’s not a British band that is killing the music industry.  Face it, it’s the RIAA itself that is eating it’s own tail, has been for years and is no digesting it’s own head.  It’s time for it to die.  It’s time to get some people in the industry that can understand where the music has to go.

This one got a great comment that I just loved... brought tears to my eyes...


Whomever...wrote this...against Gene are a no good cock sucking mother are not a musician. and you...never will be...and if your job was mowing lawns..and someone came and took your lawns away from you would be pissed off wouldnt you?....

the whole entire music industry has been leveled by interenet jackoffs and limewire type programs.. music artist suffer greatly to people like you and your sheer ignorance.. cds dont sound as good as vinyl anyway....people are getting shortchanged from hell there to...before you write anything else on the interenet...get a reality check ....

Saturday, May 2, 2009 - 01:24 PM


Wow, thank you for that.  it's cutting, insightful and well... honest.  I like it.
In my own defence, I don't purport to be a musician.  The only thing I can play is a CD.
Really though... vinyl?  Please.
The industry is being killed by it's own ineptitude.  Artists will remain artists until there is no more planet to live on, but the industry that they are being abused by and unwittingly supporting is in it's death throes and thank god for that.  As long as the RIAA controls the marketing and accounting for the recording industry, nobody but the lawyers win.  Not artists, not consumers, nobody!
And lastly, I'll have you know that my music library contains only songs that I own.  I do not pirate anything.  so :p

Friday, May 8, 2009 - 11:52 PM

Bill Castello

Hey Jack...  Did you see, KISS released an album, so piracy must be dead...  Or Gene Simmons is a lying piece of no-talent shit...  Hmmm, which could it be?

Thursday, October 29, 2009 - 07:43 PM

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Equal Time

Well, I offer this in the spirit of “Fair and Balanced reporting”.  Rather than make comments on the blog post about DnD, alot of people opted to send me e-mails about it.  Wherever I have quoted is an actual reply, and I have requested and received permission to post these anonymously.  So, without further ado, on to the replies... Any perceived lack of grammar or sentence structure belongs to the quoted authors.  Some of these are quite a bit to read through!

“you stupid arrogant bastard you present yourself as some all knowing deity of ADnD well your actually not. you proabbly started playing last year and your so happy that a new system is out and you can lord your knowledge of the system over all your players i feel bad for the people who play with you your one of those holyer than thou types gaming with you must be an exercise in listening to you talk about how much more you know than anyone else.  admit it the system sucks and you defend it because you bought it have fun with your skills and powers i’ll be having alot more fun with people who actually like me and enjoy playing a good game that doesnt need updating”

WOW!  Alex, I’d like to buy a comma, perhaps a period...  You’re more than right about the “holier than thou” thing, that’s a character flaw :)  I actually have been playing longer than a year, honest.  I can cite some references if you actually must know...  (ROFLMAO, I have to give my DnD credentials to make a blog post.  I think I have finally made it to the big time.  Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close up!!)  But seriously pal, turn on the grammar checker in MS word and write your e-mails in that if you want anyone to take you seriously.  I’ll not defend the system again, I think that’s what started all this.

(ermmm Jump in Tony, Jane, Bob, anybody!!  Defend my DnD honor... ok???)


“Bill, while you make some strong points in defense of the system, I still ask why it was necessary in the first place.  I don’t think 3.5 was bad at all.  The timing of the release, so soon after 3.5 makes me question WotC as well.  Unlike some, I’m buying the system soon and will give it a try, but I won’t get it until some of my group does as well, I don’t want to force it on anyone.”

#1 - Bless you for writing in English!

#2 - I agree with everything you said, I think they are milking this cash cow for all it’s worth.  I doubt 3.5 sales will stop next Tuesday, so now publishers have 2 wonderful income streams.  Kinda makes me love America!


“FUCKTARD?  you stole that from CAD you prick. <[:-)”

Correction, I borrowed with no intent of citing or returning!


“Only someone who really thinks highly of themselfs could in one article tell all of us what Wotc was thinking about the release, how dumb the rest of the DnD world is and how great the new system is.  I think we all bow at you superior intellect.  Are we worthy to drink from the font of your wisdom some more?  Will you tell us all how to convert our characters. Wotc didn’t knowing they you to fall back on.  Will you illuminate us on how we migrate our existing worlds, npcs and stuff? Please, great one, share with us poor slobs who are not as in touch with the gods.”

Great bootlicking, I’ll bet you’re the night manager!  And yes, I am truly magnificent enough to do all those things in one post.  It comes with the clarity of vision I have about all things, remember I am Holier than Thou :)  As you drink from the trough of my wisdom, I would hope that you recall that it’s a FUCKING BLOG.  You’re not required to read it or agree with it. It is one man’s opinion, and I tried to use enough stereotypes that people would get a good laugh from it.  If you took it seriously, my apologies.  I would think the fact that my name is unknown in publishing circles would make you understand that my opinion has NO MORE validity than yours.  And since you got pissy, I’m not gonna help you convert your characters, even though I know how!!


“DUde, I worked hard to manage this store and I don’t think you should jest go dissin it cuz it’s not up to your standards. yeah you may make more than me but i don’t need all that muvh.  I got my buds and we got our games and we have fun, try not to give me your snotty highbrow shit i don’t want your life but dont dis mine.  I put alot of time into second edition and i like it better than anything else, that doesn’t make me a fucktard.  but roll on man have fun.”

Same to you bro!  And if I sounded like I was lumping you into a bad group, I apologize, like I said before, I added some stereotypes to the post to make some folks laugh.  And mega-kudos to you for knowing what a fucktard is!!! CAD 4ever!!


And there ends my sample.  Just so you know, I got about 10 e-mails of the first one I quoted, and a smattering of the others.  Of the 10, I picked that one for it’s eloquence and clarity... I shit thee not, that was an easy one to read.

The BEST e-mail came from overseas and was so absolutely cool that I am buying a set of books and mailing them to this kid.  He pulled apart almost the whole post and asked very lucid questions about how the game worked and he ended it with a great story about his playing, his group and what they do.  I might just be sending money to Nigeria, but if I am, so be it, if this e-mail is true, the kid deserves all three books and more!!  (And no, he didn’t ask for anything in the e-mail!)

And the one comment that defended my honor....


OK, fine.  Since he won't do it, Alex, I will enlighten you that Bill has been gaming for about 27-28 years (a very scary thought IMHO).  Which is not to say he has a clue as to what he's talking about.  But right or wrong, he IS in a position to have a legit opinion.  (He's also not as much of an egomaniac as he comes across as.  He just likes people to think that.  I actually suspect a connection between the length of his rants and how many beers he's had.  I also suspect he has the blog mostly because his wonderful saint of a wife has simply stopped listening...)
love ya Bill!

Thursday, June 19, 2008 - 09:47 PM

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons - 4th Edition!

<sigh>  Do memory and history really fade that fast?  Has it been that long since we all said how fucked up version 3.0 of DnD was?  Well, like it or not, here it comes.  My thoughts about 4th edition.  I have spend a good deal of time today laughing at the corerules group (the 2nd edition die hards.. they’re truly funny in their hatred of anything newer than the fiend folio...) and the 3.5 foamers society on a certain large website that used to be free but is now pay-per-view...

And so you know, I am from the camp that KNEW I was going to hate 4th edition..  I knew it was going to suck.

And suck it does.  It sucks at winning over the crowd that still plays 2nd edition.  It sucks at convincing people it’s not WoW on paper.  It sucks at convincing people to just give it a damn chance.  I blame this suckage on the really brilliant marketing guys at WotC.  I say brilliant, because they came up with the awesome idea of releasing some teasers for the new system in perfect bound format months before the rollout.  This worked on so many levels it hurts.  First, they cost about $2.95 to make and they charged $19.95 or somesuch for them.  BRILLIANT <cut to animated Guinness guys>.  Second, they got free market research to gauge to overall acceptance of the new system ideas before putting the main books in the print process and not having a chance to tweak them as needed.  BRILLIANT <same guys>

What they should have done was spent a bit more time working over the hard core fans.  When you make many changes to a system that has die hard loyalists, you’re screwed as a publisher.  If you update it, you make happy new fans, but you piss off a percentage of the old guys.  Well, 4th edition is no exception and it will piss off some of the die hards.  The min-max players will never go to 4th edition, that’s a given.  They still haven’t left 2nd edition, which, in their eyes, is the only true game.

Trust me when I say that most 2nd edition hold outs generally still live with their parents, have the same job they had at 17 and are now 40 and have the same car as well.  They can quote the exact page and paragraph of the Dragon magazine article detailing the actual shape of a cone shaped spell effect and they sneer at Magic CCG players are lower life forms.  Some have not bathed since the job interview (yes, the one at 17...)  Now, to be fair, some 2nd edition hold outs are there because of their investment in the system or the inherent flexibility of that edition.  I’m not trying to label all of them, just the foamers that go to conventions with 30 year old tee-shirts, taking pride in telling you how they used to game with Gygax and have the first set of Magic cards ever printed.  (In my humble survey, Gary Gygax played D&D regularly with about 9,348 people weekly from 1973 through 1984.)  (BTW wanna see my original brown box set of original rules, baby?? - that line gets me laid at every convention.)

On to 4th edition - Is it dumbed down...?  I don’t think so.  Unless you consider simplifying the system a bit and renaming some things dumb.  Is it a little less flexible?  I think so, right now.  I think the biggest thing that all the nay-sayers are forgetting is how gaming works.  WotC puts out a framework of rules, then they add sourcebooks, campaign settings and more, ad infinatum.  This is how they make money, people, WAKE UP!  WotC is not the enemy, and they are in business to make money too.  Before you label them the evil empire, just remember that they announced next week the OGL for 4th edition will be published.  That means you can RIP-OFF their ideas and make money too.

So, yes, there are going to be quite a few VERY similar wizards and rogues running around for a few months.  Then the deluge of $ettings,  $ourcebooks and tome$ will hit the game stores and all the min-maxers will be happy as pigs in shit.

Does the new Skills and Powers system make sense, You bet it does.  For those 3.5 edition foamers who scream bloody murder about the lack of utility clerics have, I say simply, READ THE FUCKING MANUAL, you puerile moron.  Play through it a time or two.  See how it works.  Then eat your words, happily, with some ranch dip.  The new skills/powers system makes spell-casters even more inviting to play, balance that with every one else's powers and you have a system that really ties the roles together making a party work well.  I know some people hate they way they explain roles in the party, but it’s simply a case of WotC putting a name on something we have all known/done for years.  Just because a particular classes role says “leader” does not mean they intend that character/player to be the party leader.  THINK people, that is not written anywhere.  If there is any dumbing down in these books, it’s the people who read just what they want, quote it to everyone and then feel superior.  (Fucktard is my name for that person)

Is 4th edition perfect?  Nope.

Do I think that my argument about flexibility, dumbing down and $$$ has a huge flaw that you are ready to throw in my face? ... yep!

(What is that flaw, oh gibbering mouther of DnD wisdom?)

Why on earth should I have to PAY for flexibility that should be in the core rules???  I bought three books already, why should I have to pay more to get what i ALREADY have with 2.0 or 3.0 or 3.5? <said in the whiny tone that seems to accompany alot of ADnD players>

My answer - simply, Life in the big city kid.  <Imagine me grabbing my suspenders, puffing up a bit and saying>  You know, when I started DnD, we had 4 classes, YEAH 4, and we liked ‘em.  No specialist mages, no whiny ass paladins, no crappy tree hugging druids.  NOPE. we played, fighters, mages, clerics and thieves.

In truth, WotC did something subtle here, and it will go over most people’s heads.  They designed a VERY open system and put into the core books more of what needs to be there and less crap.  The fluff will come later, and they know it.  That is why the OGL comes out AFTER the release of the books.  They could very easily have released it long ago and had a flood of material available on launch day.  Remember that took a long hard look at 2 scenarios for launch, the one where they are the only player on launch day and get a little extra profit, but there is also a scenario where they share launch day with all the other publishers making material for the system.  Selling sourcebooks and such drive core manual sales, marketing 101.  They didn’t do it because they wanted that month long head start to let the system sink in.  Lest you think it was just them being evil, realize this, they have NO books set for release next month, just sheets and DM screens.  They’re giving the other publishers a chance to get their stuff out there.

So, in closing.  I LOVE 4th EDITION - IT’S COOL!

It’s also not for everyone, so, to all you basement 2nd ed guys - roll on!!!  You haven’t seen your dick in years, no sense looking for it now...  It’s friday night, you’re gaming (and I’m writing about gaming... what a fracking hypocrite) and life is good.  Grab me a PBR and I’m rolling up a 5th level ninja trained multi-classed psionicist/wu-jen master with scale mail and a +2 nunchuk!

And for all the fucktards who haven’t even read it, but post merrily away in public forums, i feel for you, I really do.  Chances are you’re one step ahead of the basement guy in evolution, in other words, you’re the night manager at the 7-11 you worked at when you were 17, and you managed to get a newer used car 4 years ago.  You probably moved out of mom’s place a year ago into that cool 2 roomer downtown by the tracks.  Good on ya!!!  You can come game over here any time... I have some pre-generated 4th edition characters here!!!

To the rest of the free thinking world, come on over.  We’ll play a rousing game or two, have some fun and enjoy the new system.  It’s pretty easy to do if you can read, write and form a full sentence.  Oh, having some imagination will help, since 4th edition will not spoon feed you your every role-playing moment. (yet)

And now... the comment trail...


Okay!  I'll try it.  You convinced me.  You just don't have to be so angry about it.  I am afraid the veins are going to blow out of your forehead.  I'll give it a try just to save your life. :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008 - 10:00 AM

McLovin It

Fuck yeah! Finally a sensible review of 4E! For the haters out there, stick to 3.5 and forever suck with the cheezers and others who have failed to crawl out of the RPG dark ages. The new system may not be perfect but it is a massive leap forward in a recalcitrant  game design that was complex, open to lack of party cohesion and a snore-fest in combat.

4E is raw and more encouraging of teamwork plus class balancing - how could this be bad? WoTC have balls the size of mountains to take the beloved D&D are bring it kicking and screaming into the modern era. So they've borrowd from MMORPG's? Good! How many people play WoW, by the way? It's the synergy of abilities that makes it work so well in group play. In no way do the new rules effect roleplaying (c'mon, seriously, how can anyone say that rules restrict RP in ANY system?), and personally I like detailed maps and boards to move characters around on in combat.

Suck it up you purist pussies and accept that nothing stays the same forever. Have the courage to try the game and customise it to suit your tastes. Fer christ sakes, it's HIGH FANTASY!! You know, where heroes kick the shit out of things, plan to kick the shit out of things, or get the shit kicked out of them then plan revenge on the things that kicked the shit out of them first. Sometimes you get treasure, maybe score some hot elf ass (male or female depending on your persuasion) and definitely hang out in taverns.

What more do you want?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 - 11:45 PM


lol, what? Is it possible that some people just like an older edition of a game? I guess you did say that there are people like that, so as one of them I wanna chime in. I'm actually in my early 20s, and I used to go the library (got ourselves a private room) and game with my buddies with 2nd Edition when I was like 12.

2nd remains my favourite but you know what? That's actually mostly because of the wide mix of different settings. Planescape, Dark Sun, Spelljammer, Ravenloft, Birthright, and even goddamn Mystara. I'm a settings whore. I liked 3rd Edition alright as well, even though I never actually played it, I kept up with some of the books and have a few friends who used it. I liked how it updated some things (wizards can now HOLD swords) while keeping a lot of the flavour, mythology and cosmology intact, even if they did gut Planescape.

I tried 4th Edition a few weeks ago and it just doesn't seem to have as much personality to me. It's not the rules changes that turned me off really (although I didn't like certain things, like marking)  it's what I saw as an almost complete removal of the old school flavour that I liked. It's not a big deal to me though, I still have my books and I can look at them and play a game set in Greyhawk or Sigil or Taladas anytime I want to.

And hey, I like new editions of many RPGs myself. I liked the Rifts Ultimate Edition (even if it was not really a new edition, more like D&D 3.5) I like the new(er? is it still being supported?) Pendragon much more than the old one. In fact the only other game where I completely do not like the new edition is White Wolf's WoD, and that's also for flavour/setting reasons.

Enjoy 4th Edition, I'm glad you do, and you doing it doesn't spoil my fun.

Monday, July 7, 2008 - 11:52 AM

Bill Castello


It's a free world, keep playing 1.0, 2.0, whatever you like :)  Enjoy, just keep playing.  Just remember that with DnD 4th Edition, we're going back to the role-playing aspect that the very first edition was famous for.  My only beef on 2nd edition is the huge playground for the min-maxers it provides.  That's also where 3.5 was heading, even though when it first came out it tried to do away with that.

Keep playing, have fun, and remember my opinion matters to NOBODY but me :)

Saturday, July 19, 2008 - 09:40 PM

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, too young to go!

Wow, Tim Russert.  All those years of “meet the press”.

I’m truly at a loss, as I’m sure his friends, family and colleagues are.  A real journalist, reporter and a true example of the 4th estate.

As some of you know, I don’t hold many members of the press these days in high esteem.  I have a bad habit of holding them up to the light of Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite, to which they pale greatly.  Mr. Russert didn’t.  He knew when to ask the hard questions, when to back off a bit and he moderated Meet the Press with alot of style over the years.  Anyone who can do that is pretty damn talented.

Godspeed to you, and blessings and prayers to your family, friends and colleagues.

Some snippets from around the web...

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown ordered that all flags on city property be lowered immediately to half-staff in Russert's honor.

Russert was born May 7, 1950, in Buffalo, New York. His parents were Timothy John Russert Sr., or "Big Russ," a newspaper truck driver and sanitation worker, and Elizabeth Russert.

Before joining NBC, Russert served as press secretary for former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and as chief of staff to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

During his 17-year run as the host of "Meet the Press," the longest of any host in the show's 60-year history, Russert earned the respect and admiration of many journalists and politicians.

He was also the recipient of numerous awards for his work, including an Emmy in 2005 for his coverage of the funeral of President Ronald Reagan.

"I just loved the guy. He had this enthusiasm about all of the things that life brings to you," said James Carville, who often attended Washington National games with Russert. "My wife and I are in a complete state of utter shock."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

F-22, The Death Knell for my Air Force.

Please understand, I love the USAF.  I retired after 25 years of service with the USAF, and I have almost no regrets about my service, in any circumstance.  My true regret is that my Air Force is dead, it will not come back, the USAF no longer deserves to be a separate service and it’s filled with pansies who run around in officer’s clothing.

To prove my point, you have to go back to WWII.  I know, these days that is anathema to USAF officers.  They are taught to look forward, carefully, inside the box and with a careful grasp of the risks involved.

Before WWII, President Roosevelt selected Gen. Marshall to be the boss of the US Military machine.  That day, we won WWII.  I know, it hadn’t been declared yet, but we won.  Marshall cleaned house, ridding the military of the hidebound officers that ran the military and pulled in guys that understood the next war would be won by military machines, supporting the doughboys in the field.  The tank, the airplane, the carrier and the submarine would rule the world, not the trench and machine gun.  Marshall knew that peacetime leaders make shitty wartime leaders.  He hired Bradley, Eisenhower, Patton, Hap Arnold, Stillwell, Nimitz and other guys that could do the job, alot of them junior to other guys...

Now, we spin the way-back machine forward to this day and age.  The USAF has forgotten the lessons of the past.  You know, the ones that made us a separate service...  Close Air Support....

Iron bombs falling on the enemies head... (Your knee in the enemies chest, knife at his throat...)

Yes, SAC was a huge factor in the development of the USAF and the end of the cold war.  Problem is, we won.

Guess what, the fighter guys made SAC go away, along with research and development.  Now we have the F-22, the biggest waste of money in US History.  NEWSFLASH... if the bad guys nail ONE of these $500 MILLION dollar abortions with a $25 million SAM, THEY WIN.  Yes, they are cooler than sliced bread, but guess what, in virtually any next war scenario, they are USELESS.  But fighter guys promote fighter guys.  Transporters, tankers and the bomb droppers are all second fiddle to guys who pay more attention to risk management and accident avoidance than to innovation, leadership and a will to get things done.

Risk aversion, management and avoidance is now the benchmark by which officers are promoted.  There is a feeling in the USAF that good officers can actually prevent accidents.  Enlisted people are sent to risk management classes while officers are taught risk management as a leadership methodology.

Chuck Horner must be sick to his stomach - WHO DARES, WINS!!!!!!!

Not in this USAF, today we promote the guy who has no DUI’s in his squadron and no accidents.  We don’t avoid unnecessary risk anymore, we avoid all risk.  People die in the war business, get over it.  The same risk managers managed to fly a loaded B-52 across the country with some very hot cargo.  The pendulum didn’t stop there either.  In fact, it cost the SECAF and COS USAF their jobs.  They were risk managers who failed.  (Pansies)

Without the primary purpose of the USAF, our leaders are not forced to think outside the box.  They’re stuck so far in it that they can’t see the sides.  We write mission statements on every wall, but we don’t grasp what the hell the primary goal of war-fighters must be, victory over ANY enemy.  USAF guys die in war today while doing army type jobs, why?  Because we forgot that our mission is to SUPPORT the guy on the ground, taking the territory, house by house if need be.  How does the vaunted F-22 and CV-22 help that effort?  (Hint, they don’t)

What is the primary purpose of the USAF?  Support, wether you call it the air and space force or not, no risk manager flying at 41,000 feet takes ground.  The 21 year old PFC on the ground takes ground and holds it.

Consider the A-10 and the F-22.  The A-10 has a purpose, the F-22 has a goal.  The A-10 supports the ground pounders in every way imaginable.  The F-22 is the best air superiority fighter EVER.  Too bad that killing the enemy 1 at a time in the air while they push their human waves into Seoul, or unify the USSR means WE LOSE.  God help us if Putin or the Chinese ever get fiesty, we will lose.  We have forgotten how to support the soldier on the ground.  Add to that, we will never promote the guy that suggests we try to remember it.  We retire the H-53 so we can make room for the CV-22, a wonderful hybrid that does nothing well, and everything slowly.

My USAF is stuck on gadgets and budgets.  The day we told the army they couldn’t have fixed-wing ground support aircraft of their own is the day we lost the right to be our own service.

I suppose it’s fair that the USAF banked it’s future on the acquisition of 600 F-22s and now has to make do with 170 of them.  Yes, that decision is going to cost the blue suiters everything.  While I feel for the enlisted guys and junior officers, I think it’s only fair for the twaddling senior officers who cared more for their promotions than the good of the USAF (Yes, that means you, Col Stein.)

Now where are you and where is the USAF.  You’re a trivial memory and the USAF is worse for your service, self serving as it was.

We had a slim chance with Gen. Dugan,  a real man in a blue suit, but we instead opted for McPeak.  A vegetarian pansy who couldn’t be in the same room with Chuck Horner lest his privates shrink to where he couldn’t find them again.  McPeak’s great contribution to the USAF,  V-neck tee shirts and the “Year of training” that took 10 years to recover from.  If you ever read this, General, may you suffer from irritable bowel syndrome for the rest of your life for not having the balls to LEAD.

If any USAF officer reads this, please learn one thing.  Leadership is not promotion, it’s putting your ass on the line when it counts and STAYING there.  Command, don’t manage.  Lead, don’t mitigate risk.

Sooner or later, my beloved USAF will go back to green suits, and they deserve it for not having guts.  Hap Arnold proved we could do it, McPeak and his ilk proved we didn’t know what to do once we had it.

It’s kind of sad, but at least when we get re-absorbed into the Army, we won’t have to keep looking for some Air force warcry that none of our pansy ass leaders can seem to settle on.  We don’t have traditions because we don’t deserve them.  Gen Arnold would be in tears if he could see what we have done with his legacy.  I, for one, would like to apologize to Generals Arnold, Spaatz, and Eaker.  They had a dream, realized it, and thank GOD they don’t have to see it washed away by senior leaders who are watching the stock market more than the National Intelligence Reports and getting us ready for the next one.

HooooAH! (Learn it, blue suiters... and find a good tailor.  Green will be in soon.)

Friday, June 6, 2008

D + 23360, God Bless the Vets!

It has been 64 years since thousands upon thousand of American, British and Canadian soldiers stormed ashore, or jumped from aircraft to begin the liberation of Europe from Fascist domination.  (Oh, where are they now, when we need them here...)  Casualties for the campaign on both sides were high;

  • Germany 30,000 killed, 80,000 wounded, 210,000 missing

  • USA 29,000 killed, 106,000 wounded/missing

  • UK 11,000 killed, 54,000 wounded/missing

  • Canada 5,000 killed, 13,000 missing/wounded

Of course, Eisenhower led the whole thing, got 5 stars, headed NATO and was elected president.  Not bad for a lifetime.  Check out this quote...
On January 17, 1961, Eisenhower gave his final televised Address to the Nation from the Oval Office.  In his farewell speech to the nation, Eisenhower raised the issue of the Cold War and role of the U.S. armed forces. He described the Cold War saying: "We face a hostile ideology global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose and insidious in method..." and warned about what he saw as unjustified government spending proposals and continued with a warning that "we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex... Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

Do you think he saw the Bush administration coming?

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ding, Dong, the witch is dead!

The picture says it all ;)

One of the greatest chokes in the political history of the world.  How can you manage to go from the presumptive nominee for the guaranteed presidency of the U.S. of A. to an also-ran who is in debt up to her ass.  Billy boy better get to writing some new books and make some CA$H fast!!!

Maybe they can build a house for habitat for humanity and get a commercial deal?
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Taking a cue from the George Bush playbook -- the pop-up version, with pictures -- Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign announced at a rally today in Yankton, S.D., that the New York senator is now the official Democratic presidential nominee and that she will launch a pre-emptive general election at "a time and place of my choosing."

"We cannot afford to wait any longer for the American people to cast their ballots," Clinton said to a group of supporters at the Yankton High School gym. "If my opponent won't declare victory, what else will he neglect to do as president? My ambition can't afford to find out the answer to that question."

Dozens of angry, middle-aged, braless women cheered Clinton on while carrying torches and threatening to burn any male within 50 yards, except former Pres. Bill Clinton, who they inexplicably still adore, despite his possessing every quality that strong women find completely offensive and contrary to their feminist sensibilities. Though she does not have -- and will never have -- enough delegates to officially win the nomination, Clinton remained steadfastly oblivious.

"We are going to bring peace and democratic democracy to America," she continued. "The American public will greet us as liberators -- women's liberators!"

Sen. Barack Obama had no comment, but did pull out a note pad with a short list labeled "Barack's VPs?" and crossed one name off.

Clinton capped off her "Beginning of the End of the Beginning of the Campaign" campaign kickoff rally by driving an M1 Abrams battle tank across the Yankton town square and pulling down a 20-foot-high bronze statue of Obama.

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