The better question may be what's right about American crime dramas? Nothing. Seriously. They use stick thin women to play detectives and beat cops who would have a hard time carrying their own weight on a fashion show runway. Whenever I see them kick in a door or rough up a thug, my ability to suspend disbelief cries out in anguish.  Also, the Brits seem more enamored with acting ability than with beauty.

And American crime dramas don't have a consistent theme. American producers, directors, and writers should study their British counterparts. The Brits have a theme. They love cops who are broken human beings. The more dysfunctional the better. 
Detective Sgt. Jackie “Stevie” Stevenson (Nicola Walker) and Detective Inspector John River (Stellan Skarsgård)
Take, for example, River, a recent offering from BBC and available on Netflix. Detective Inspector John River is barking mad. If he were any crazier they'd have to keep him in a straight jacket whenever they removed him from the funny farm to investigate a case.

John sees dead people. He talks to them. They talk back. John responds physically and emotionally to them. Like I said, John River is barking mad. A nutter, as the Brits would say.


Oh dark thiry

Did you ever feel deprived because you family never lived up to a Norman Rockwell image? I did. However, one day a Lutheran pastor assured me that no one else's family did. Did yours?
Click to read my short story, Thanksgiving Table Talk
It's gotten worse with age, especially in this age of political correctness. My children have little tolerance for my traditional views and they certainly don't want their children infected with them. My wife, a very successful mother, is remonstrated if she dares suggest any child rearing advice to the very children she lovingly raised.

Then there are those other relations: Siblings, nieces and nephews. Dinner conversation is a minefield for any so brazen as to broach it with them. That's why I'm going armed (or armored) with a list of 10 No-Fail Dinner Party Conversation Starters provided by that bastion of political correctness, The Huff Post.
I've also read The Democrat's Guide to Talking Politics with Your Republican Uncle to inure myself to the propaganda I can expect in spite of every effort to avoid discussing politics.

Thus I shall endeavor to abide by my wife's most fervent wish to keep peace in the family.

Good luck to all others who find themselves in my position.

Happy Thanksgiving


Good Reads

Is there any question that we're living in The Devil's Pleasure Palace? Political correctness runs amok on American campuses as students demand freedom from offense and free everything else. Sex loses all its pleasure as it becomes easier to obtain. The practice of abortion destroys human life in numbers that would make a Nazi blush. Pseudo-science is used to control behavior. Atheists have gained the legal right to demand tolerance of their belief system only. The purveyors of progressive leftism, like Rousseau, Marx, Brecht, Sartre, and Lillian Hellman, beasts in their private lives who profess to love humanity most but despise people, have come to dominate American philosophical and political thought. So, what else would you call this place other than The Devil's Pleasure Palace?
Sure it's older, but why do We the People believe their culture is better?
Explaining this phenomenon is the goal of The Devil's Pleasure Palace by Michael Walsh.


Oh dark thirty

Some of my most vivid memories were provided by great storytellers. It's an art that comes in many forms. Oral. Film. Radio drama. Plays. Pantomime. Now there's a new one that helps ordinary people tell their life stories. It comes from an innovative organization called the StoryCorps. They produce short films illustrating stories narrated by the people who lived them.
StoryCorps is something we can all help support. You may donate at the StoryCorps website while you visit to see their latest productions.

Also, make sure you subscribe to the StoryCorps channel on YouTube to help promote their work.


You may be celebrating if you support Hillary. She appears to many to have won. Won what?

You may be disappointed that she didn't break down in tears and confess. Confess what?
Let's take a deep breath and think.

The hearings before the House Select Committee on Benghazi is not a trial. There is no jury. There won't be a verdict. Think of it more as a pretrial to determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a trial. In the military, we would have likened it to an Article 32 (Uniform Code of Military Justice) Investigation to determine if a crime has been committed and if so who should be charged?

Did you expect Hillary to trip up and blurt out something incriminating? Why would you think that? Hillary is an accomplished liar. She lied to herself about her husband's philandering for many years so that she wouldn't have to confront the ugly truth of her dysfunctional marriage. She lied as she was caught stealing the silverware and chinaware as she and Bill exited the White House. She lied in countless investigations to avoid being fined and punished for her complicity in the White Water and other scandals. Her tangled web of lies surrounding her mishandling of classified documents while Secretary of State is unraveling with every revelation. Did you seriously think she would confess like the culprit in an episode of the old Perry Mason Show?

The time to deliberate over the testimony and hard evidence won't begin until the hearings end. Anyone leaping to conclusions at this point is driven by opinion rather than truth.  


He scooted around the exhibits pretty well in his wheelchair but became stuck when he tried to cross the gravel that separated the event from his tent. The tiny front wheels dug in every time he tried. That's when I stepped up and he asked, “Would you give a disabled American veteran a hand?”
Click to enlarge
Hell yeah I would.

I'm tired of waiting for the government to help. Aren't you?

It was a struggle. He was a heavy guy and I coaxed him to lean back so I could raise the front wheels off the ground. Even then it was tough slogging through the gravel.

Wouldn't you know that when we got there all he wanted was to drop off some things he had been given and return to the exhibits, so I tipped him back and pulled him back to the sidewalk.



Doesn't  the 2nd Amendment preclude any and all debate? Congress shall not infringe on the right of citizens to keep and bear arms. 
Gun control proponents attack from two fronts. Some argue that the 2nd Amendment should be rescinded. Others argue that it should be more narrowly implemented. That is, you may keep your guns but the government should control them.

It seems that no resolution will be found for one simple reason: A lack of trust.

Those who advocate gun control do not trust law-abiding citizens to handle their weapons responsibly, without harming themselves or others within range. Many don't trust guns. Those who advocate the broadest application of the 2nd Amendment, who accept no form of gun control, simply do not trust the government to constrain itself. Gun control, they argue, will ultimately lead to gun confiscation. To them the slope really is slippery and if you scratch a gun control advocate, you most likely will find someone who advocates gun confiscation.

Is that always true?

Actually, no.

Let me tell you a story...



I completed my second novel, The Accidental Spy, about a year ago. The readers have read it. My wife has edited it. And yet, it has languished. Something felt wrong about it. Then, about two days ago, I discovered what it was. A theme crept into the story about midway through and I had missed it. I had to go back and weave it into the complete fabric of the story. The theme? Teaching a civilized man to kill.
Click to read the except of The Accidental Spy
In a way, the study of killing in combat is very much like the study of sex. Killing is a private, intimate occurrence of tremendous intensity, in which the destructive act becomes psychologically very much like the procreative act."
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society 
by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman

In this story set in the time and place of the Korean War, my hero, Nick Andrews, learns both the art of love and the art of killing. These themes are now embedded in the earliest pages and developed throughout the book.

I hope you enjoy this sample.


This question inspired another sleepless night... Most of us have been discussing the shootings in Oregon, the most recent example of mass murder in an American school. Interestingly, similarly sane and rational people considering the circumstances of the crime come to diametrically opposed conclusions. Some want to ban all guns. Others want to arm themselves. Even more interestingly, those who respond out of fear can reach either conclusion. So can those who are predominantly angry. This dichotomy led me to consider if fear and anger share a common root and how can people with similar feelings be poles apart in their response to the same situation.
I believe I found the answer. Both fear and anger are founded in helplessness.

Think about it.



“Oh-dark-thirty” is an expression I learned in the Army where we measured time by the 24-hour clock. The dark of the night could be anytime roughly from midnight to 04:00 (pronounced “zero-four-hundred”) depending upon your location and the season of the year. Thus, Oh-dark-thirty is any time in the middle of the night when you should be abed, sleeping.
A variant of the phrase, “Zero-dark-thirty”, became popularly known when a film of that title was produced describing the manhunt for Osama Bin Laden. The raid that ended his life occurred in the middle of the night.

When I was in the Army, we said “Oh” instead of “Zero”. I suppose the Brits say “Zed”. Or, they may say something completely different like, "Blimy, it's late!"

Did you ever wake up a child at Oh-dark-thirty? They're usually groggy, confused, aren't they? That's something the Army trained out of us. War comes anytime and you have to be awake and alert or you die. The modern Army claims to own the night. They have smaller, more efficient night-vision devices and train extensively in night tactics. In my time, during the Vietnam War, we simply struggled to survive the night.