Tuesday, August 26, 2014

For Want of a Nail: The Next Generation

It's been four weeks now since I was able to get a steady, albeit "temporary," office job, ensuring a steady weekly paycheck for as long as the job lasts. However, this comes after seven months of unemployment, and my financial situation remains precarious. Frankly, I'm sick and tired of being poor.

The theory of comparative advantage suggests that the best way for me to end my impoverishment is to find something that I'm relatively better at than anyone else in the world, and do it for money. So, what am I relatively better at than anyone else in the world? Regular readers of this blog will have no trouble with that one: I am relatively better than anyone else in the world at writing about Robert Sobel's For Want of a Nail.

Mind you, I can think of several people who are absolutely better than me at writing about Sobel's book (Hi Carlos! Hi Noel!), but since they are even better than me at numerous other activities, that leaves me with the comparative advantage.

So how do I make money doing that? The answer again seems clear: write and publish a sequel to FWoaN. So that's what I'm going to do.

I've been given permission by Robert Sobel's estate to produce a sequel (and I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Carole Ritter Sobel and David Sobel for doing so). Now comes the first hard part -- lining up a publisher -- and the second hard part -- actually writing the book.

If any members of my vast global blogging audience have suggestions about achieving the first hard part, feel free to make them in the comments. Better yet, if any members of my vast global blogging audience are themselves book editors who are looking for the next blockbuster in the alternate history genre, feel free to suggest that in the comments.

I'll keep everyone out there up to date on my quest to find a publisher. For now, wish me luck.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 24

On August 24, 1957, the London Times published an article criticizing the Mason Doctrine, North American Governor-General Richard Mason's foreign aid and reconstruction program. The editorial read, in part: "Do you want to receive more Mason Plan aid? Then just kill a few North American tourists and aid officials, and call Mason a criminal. Should you do this, your North American listener will nod his agreement, and give you all he has." Sobel notes that the British government resented the Mason Doctrine aid given to its wartime enemy the German Empire.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 23

On August 23, 1795, the government of Prime Minister Sir Charles Jenkinson of Great Britain responded to a threatened Franco-Spanish invasion of Portugal by declaring war on the Franco-Spanish alliance, widening the Trans-Oceanic War.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 21

On August 21, 1881, Mexican President George Vining continued his efforts to suppress the Mexicano uprising by establishing curfews in Mexico's ten largest cities.

On August 21, 1967, former North American Governor-General Richard Mason cited James Volk's The Bomb Myth to support his contention that Governor-General Carter Monaghan's arms program was unnecessary, since the C.N.A.'s possession of the atomic bomb ensured that no enemy would dare to attack it. Mason said, "Mr. Volk has showed conclusively that war is now an impossibility. And yet we maintain this frightening arms escalation. The Governor-General has said that we must beware of insanity in high places. I would reply that any man who would continue producing bombs must be insane."

Friday, August 15, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 15

On August 15, 1839, an emergency session of the Grand Council met in Burgoyne to deal with the fall of Michigan City to the Indian army of Chief John Miller, who had captured it twenty-four days earlier. The members of the council agreed to form a united North American army under the command of General Winfield Scott of Indiana.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 13

On August 13, 1914, at the height of the Hundred Day War, Mexican President Victoriano Consalus removed General Vincent Collins from command of the army defending Mexico City from the French Expeditionary Force, which had been advancing on the city from its beachhead in Tampico for four weeks. Consalus replaced Collins with General Emiliano Calles, the commander of the Durango military district. Sobel notes that Consalus selected Calles primarily because he was on the scene in Mexico City at the time, but also speculates that Consalus sought to counter French appeals to the U.S.M.'s Mexicano population by appointing a Mexicano general.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 12

On August 12, 1821, the first federal elections under the Mexico City Constitution were held in the United States of Mexico. The elections were dominated by the political parties of the state of Jefferson, the Continentalist Party and the Liberty Party, with only two seats in the Assembly, the lower house of Congress, being won by members of the Indian Party in Mexico del Norte. Because the franchise was restricted to English-speaking property owners, the disproportionately Anglo Continentalists won 68 out of 100 Assembly seats, and 18 of out 24 seats in the Senate, the upper house of Congress.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 10

On August 10, 1881, Mexican President George Vining continued his efforts to halt the spreading Mexicano uprising by instituting internal passports in the United States of Mexico.

On August 10, 1899, the Mexican invasion of Siberia continued as marines from the Pacific Fleet succeeded in linking up their three beachheads at Petropavlovsk, Okhotsk, and Nikolaevsk-on-Amur.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 7

On August 7, 1855, Senator Frank Rinehart, representing the United States of Mexico, and Minister of War John Wolff, representing the Confederation of North America, signed the Hague Treaty formally ending the Rocky Mountain War.

On August 7, 1899, former Councilman Fritz Stark was found dead in his Burgoyne home, apparently from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. In his hand was a note with the words, "It is ended." However, Stark's foresight was no better than his detective skills had been. The political violence that he had unleashed a month before was intensified by the spread of conspiracy theories claiming that he had been intimidated into recanting his accusations the day before, and that his apparent suicide was actually staged by Governor-General Ezra Gallivan, who had had him murdered.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 6

On August 6, 1899, Councilman Fritz Stark recanted his accusation of corruption and treason against Governor-General Ezra Gallivan. In a public address, he said, "I have wronged a good and honest man, irreparably. I ask Governor-General Gallivan's forgiveness and understanding. I acted out of love of country, but I have done more harm to it than any man since the Rebellion." Stark then announced his resignation from the Grand Council.

On August 6, 1904, after gaining passage of an amendment to the charter of the National Financial Administration, Governor-General Christopher Hemingway replaced retiring administrator Julius Nelson with three co-administrators: bankers Hugh Neill and Edward White, and former Indiana Governor Maxwell Boatner.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 5

On August 5, 1939, a Bedouin leader and Arab nationalist named Abdul el Sallah led a revolt in Damascus against the rule of the Ottoman Empire. El Sallah had obtained arms from both Great Britain and the Germanic Confederation by promising the leaders of each that he would award them exclusive petroleum concessions in Arabia after gaining independence from the Turks.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 4

On August 4, 1899, the Nelson Subcommittee ended its investigation of Councilman Fritz Stark's accusation that Governor-General Ezra Gallivan had been accepting N.A. £1.5 million a year since 1893 from Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán "to protect our common interests." The subcommittee's investigation found that Gallivan's personal wealth amounted to only N.A. £324,954, most of which was in government bonds, and thus that his supposed subsidy from Cortez did not exist. The investigation also revealed that Stark's documents were careful forgeries created by a mentally unbalanced clerk at the Mexican embassy named John Montalban. Despite these findings, the wave of political violence unleashed by Stark's accusations continued unabated.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: August 1

On August 1, 1853, a cease-fire took effect in the Rocky Mountain War between the Confederation of North America and the United States of Mexico. Except for the borders running along the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers, the armies of both nations withdrew ten miles from the front lines, creating a twenty-mile-wide neutral zone running from the Gulf of Mexico to the border of Russian Alaska.

On August 1, 1881, Mexican President George Vining ordered the country's newspapers closed as part of the state of emergency in response to the Mexicano uprising.

On August 1, 1901, Kramer Associates President Diego Cortez y Catalán hosted a secret meeting of opponents of the Hermión regime. Cortez revealed his plan to maneuver Hermión into fleeing Mexico.

On August 1, 1933, Governor-General Douglas Watson introduced legislation into the Grand Council increasing military spending.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


My time working as a day laborer is over, for now. I've been given a long-term assignment as an accounts payable clerk at a waste-disposal company, and for the time being I will put away my steel-toed work boots for a desk job in a cubical farm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 29

On July 29, 1901, North American Councilman Clifton Burgen of Northern Vandalia was chosen by the Grand Council to be Governor-General of the C.N.A. Burgen's predecessor, Ezra Gallivan, who had resigned five days earlier, was standing by his side as he was sworn in.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 27

On July 27, 1940, North American Governor-General Bruce Hogg proclaimed a unity government including leading members of the opposition Liberal Party that would remain in power for the duration of the Global War "or until the voters decide otherwise."

Hogg's remarks were reported in the next day's issue of the New York Herald.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 26

On July 26, 1899, three days after defeating the Russian Far East Fleet at the Battle of the Okhotsk Sea, the Mexican Pacific Fleet landed at the Siberian port city of Nikolaevsk-on-Amur.

Under foot

Yesterday I went back yet again to the vacant office space to help strip it down for the use of a hypothetical future tenant. The last step in the process has been pulling up the rest of the floor tiles and throwing them away.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Today in the Sobel Timeline: July 25

On July 25, 1901, the People's Coalition caucus in C.N.A. Grand Council met to choose a replacement for Governor-General Ezra Gallivan, who had resigned the day before. The two leading contenders were Councilman Thomas Kronmiller of Indiana, and Minister for Home Affairs Leonidas Rubey. Kronmiller had become too closely identified with Starkism over the previous two years, and his abrasive personality had earned him too many enemies. Rubey was a moderate who had remained in the background during the Starkist terror, and was considered a unity candidate, but was not considered a viable candidate for the upcoming 1903 Grand Council elections. Rubey himself suggested Councilman Harry Burroughs of Manitoba as an interim candidate who would step down in 1903. The caucus accepted the idea of an interim governor-general, but chose Councilman Clifton Burgen of Northern Vandalia rather than Burroughs. After the caucus voted for Burgen, Kronmiller remarked, "Burgen had everything in his favor. No one knew who he was, and neither did he."

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scrappy do

Today I returned again to the renovated office space, this time to throw various pieces of scrap metal into a big blue dumpster, and to rip up floor tiles. Eventually, assuming the owner of the office space is able to find another tenant, they'll hire a contractor to replace all the aluminum girders, drywall, floor tiles, and ceiling tiles I've been throwing away. It's not quite paying people to dig holes and then fill them in again, but it's close.