Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Huntsman for Redstate November

Publius at Obsidian Wings points to moderate Utah Governor Jon Huntsman as a potential 2012 Republican nominee. He notes that Huntsman will probably have the moderate side of the track pretty much to himself as Sarah Palin, "Bobby" Jindal, Mark Sanford, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee all clump together on the conservative side, chasing the same pool of conservative "base" voters.

Publius ends his rumination wondering whether it's even possible for a moderate to win the Republican nomination at this point in the party's downward spiral, but I think it's not so improbable. After all, plenty of states have open primaries, so Huntsman will be able to count on the votes of unaffiliated moderates. And given that most of the GOP's primaries are winner-take-all, Huntsman could very well end up with a majority of delegates on the strength of those unaffiliated crossover voters.

Which would leave him . . . where? Well, as commenter superdestroyer points out, Huntsman's moderate positions on issues like, say, immigration reform (or, as wingnuts like superdestroyer call it, "open borders") put him at odds with the GOP's ever-smaller-and-more-extreme base. So what you'll end up with is a moderate candidate facing a convention (and party) that hates his guts. In order to avoid the problem of an unenthusiastic base, Huntsman would have to do what McCain did: choose a running mate that the base likes but the rest of the country finds appalling. McCain tried to square the circle by keeping Sarah Palin confined to her invitation-only Nuremburg rallies and hidden away from the sane three-quarters of the country, but it didn't work. The crazy leaked out and poisoned his campaign.

If Huntsman does win the nomination, he'll need to solve his version of the Palin Problem. And he's only got three and a half years until the 2012 Republican National Convention, so he'd better think fast.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The sinews of politics

The first report in our ongoing Michael Steele Deathwatch comes from the Moonie Times (h/t Pam at Pandagon), which reports that "Randy Pullen, the RNC’s elected treasurer, former RNC General Counsel David Norcross and three other former top RNC officers have presented Mr. Steele with a resolution, calling for a new set of checks and balances on the chairman’s power to dole out money."

Four years ago, after the DFH's managed to get Howard Dean elected as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, probably the most important thing Dean did was distribute oodles of money to the state parties so they could ramp up their party-building efforts. This move was applauded by rank-and-file Democrats and condemned by the party's Beltway mandarins, who sneered that Dean was "just hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around Utah and Mississippi and pick their nose." Dean meant his "Fifty-State Strategy" to be a long-term effort, so probably nobody was more surprised than Dean himself when his efforts bore fruit in two short years, resulting in the Democrats' regaining control of Congress.

Admittedly, Michael Steele's first few months on the job has seen the GOP lurch from one disaster to the next, with yesterday's defection of Senator Arlen Specter acting as a sort of grand crescendo, so you can see why they'd be growing wary. But never fear! It looks like those clever Republicans are going to make sure their new chairman doesn't spend any money hiring a bunch of staff people to wander around California and Massachusetts and pick their nose, so we can expect things to turn around for the Republican Party any day now.

Beware, liberals!

Beware, liberals! Michelle Bachmann will destroy you all with her razor-sharp wit, deep fund of historical knowledge, and amazing powers of logical deduction!

Monday, April 27, 2009

High Broderism

Washington Post columnist David Broder, Dean of the Washington Press Corps and high priest of High Broderism, warns President Obama not to give in to those awful vengeful people who want to investigate, perhaps prosecute, and possibly even punish the Bushies who made torture (or "torture" as Broder puts it) national policy. Bear in mind this is the same David Broder who called on President Clinton to resign and cheered on Republicans intent on impeaching him because said President Clinton had a quickie with an intern.

Now, if I were a cynical person, I might think that David Broder was nothing more than a worthless partisan hack who was willing to excuse any misconduct as long as it was committed by Republicans. However, I am a stranger to cynicism, so I'll just assume that Broder is actually a moral cripple who genuinely believes that sex is more deserving of punishment than torture.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Microcosmic Buccaneers" by Harl Vincent, part 2

This is the second installment of Harl Vincent's "Microcosmic Buccaneers", a science fiction story that has never appeared anywhere beyond its original publication in the November 1929 issue of Amazing Stories magazine. Part 1 can be found here. And now, on to the story . . .

By Means of the Fourth Dimension

With the passing of four months the scientist found himself little closer to the solution of the problem than when it was first presented. Experiments with white mice as subjects had progressed to the point where these lively creatures had been reduced to the size of blood corpuscles, a dozen or more of them scampering about in an opening the size of a pin point indented in a thin paraffin coating on a microscope slide. They were still far from their goal and the young man, who had assisted with all the work, was on the point of despairing entirely.

Then there came a day when Grayson R36B was startled from his observation of the electron world through the super-microscope, by an ecstatic shout from his guardian.

"What is it?" he asked excitedly.

"We've been working on an entirely wrong basis, Grayson. But now I see the light. The fourth dimension!"

"Fourth dimension," repeated his ward, blankly.

"Certainly. I don't know why I haven't thought of it before. We'll visit the tiny planet by its agency."

"But -- but I thought the fourth dimension was only a mathematical conception -- that there was no real knowledge of it."

"You are quite right, my boy, as far as any published data is concerned. But there have been experiments -- successful ones, too -- that were apparently of no practical use. Now we have the practical use. You understand, of course, that even though you do not perceive a fourth dimension, all objects in our universe must be possessed of this abstruse quality in order to exist. We live and breathe in a four-dimensional world that is part of a four-dimensional universe. The so-called dimension has been variously explained but for our purpose we need not enter into any of the various arguments which have been brought up. It is not time in the strict sense that we are interested in, but the time-space relationship, and it is that relationship I intend to employ in entering that little world at which you have been gazing."

"You mean, if the time-space relationship as applied to our physical existence is altered, we shall then have no difficulty in making the journey?"

"That is it exactly, my boy. We as human beings are four-dimensional entities peculiarly adapted to life in our own environment. These entities occupy space in a definite volume we are pleased to designate by three dimensions. But the interval, the time-space relationship, is what makes us as we are. Size is only relative and if everything in the universe were suddenly to become a million times larger or a million times smaller, we should not be aware of the difference for our standards of measurement would also have altered in like proportion."

"But how to effect such a change?"

"I'm coming to that. There is a plane which in 3281 was designated by Rollin D4Y as the hyperphysical plane. And Rollin experimented at considerable length in rotating objects in and out of this plane by various methods. In the most successful of the methods used, a purely mechanical means, he found it possible to rotate living creatures instantaneously into and out of the hyperphysical existence without harm. By instantaneous, I mean that the transition must take place within the peroid of not more than two or three heart-beats of the subject. We shall go further than did Rollin. We shall not only enter the hyperphysical plane, but shall project ourselves into the delectable world of the microcosmos and there emerge as entities adaptable to the greatly different existence."

Grayson's eyes popped. "You think it can be done?" he gasped.

"I'm sure of it. And quite simply too."

Minott hurried to a large cupboard at the side of the laboratory and there brought to view a dust-covered apparatus that Grayson had never seen. This was provided with a box-like base set on four casters and it was trundled forth byt he excited scientist.

"A duplicate of Rollin's apparatus," he explained, busying himself with a duster.

* * *

Grayson watched in intense interest as the older man uncovered the upper portion of the mechanism. There was a huge vacuum tube, one of the largest he had ever seen, and about this there clustered a maze of helices of tiny silver ribbon. Two arms swung out from the side of the box, and each of these carried what appeared to be a parabolic reflector, also of silver. These was a heavy cable to which a wall plug was attached, and Minott connected this with a base receptacle nearby. He withdrew a slide from the side of the box and arranged the two reflectors to focus on the slide. Then he reached for one of the small cages containing a normal white mouse and this he placed on the slide. With all arranged to his satisfaction, he pulled a switch at the side of the mechanism. There came a roar from within and the great vacuum tube lighted to a dull red glow. The mouse scampered unconcerned in its cage.

"Now, observe closely," said Minott, placing his finger on a small button that Grayson had not noticed.

He pressed the button and the universe seemed to totter. The very space about them seemed to warp and twist. The lively creature in the little cage vanished as suddenly and utterly as if a genie had whisked it away. Grayson stared dumbfounded. A second passed. Two seconds. Then, in a puff of blue haze, the mouse once more nosed about in its coop. The accompanying wrench of the space in which they stood left Grayson trembling and aghast.

"Good grief!" he exclaimed. "There's strong medicine in that box all right! So that's the way we are going?"

"Yes. Excepting we must combine Rollin's apparatus with my super-microscope."

"Combine it?"

"Of course. Otherwise we should not reach our destination; we would merely return to our normal existence, as did our little subject. With our existence transferred to the hyperphysical plane, we'll be whisked along the minute ray of the super-microscope, which is now trained on the place we are to visit. In reentering the purely physical plane, our time-space relationship must necessarily alter in exact accordance with the requirements of the microcosmos."

"And the return? Getting back to our own world, I mean."

Minott was already busy with the connections between the two mechanisms. He did not look up from his work as he replied, "Oh, for the initial visit I shall set a time switch to control our apparatus here. We'll stay but two minutes and then return in the same manner. After the first trip, a better method can be worked out. But in any event it is merely a reversal of the original process. Are you ready?"

He looked at the younger man with a twinkle in his eye.

"Now? Right away, you mean?"

"Yes. All is prepared."

"Why, sure, I'm ready if you are."

"Very well, then. We'll be off at once."

He made the final adjustments to the apparatus, directing the reflectors of the Rollin mechanism to include a tiny disc he had attached to the super-microscope. Grayson was somewhat apprehensive as he watched the attaching and setting of the time switch, but he had no thought of reconsidering or of objecting.

"All right, Gray," came in measured tones, as the scientist straightened from the completion of his task.

He drew the younger man into the proper position before the apparatus and thew an arm affectionately over his shoulder as he reached forth with his free hand to close the main switch and press the button. This time it seemed to Grayson that the very fibres of his being were wrenched asunder. There was a terrific flash of blinding light, an inconceivably violent explosion, and then a momentary impression of being hurled through the vastness of space. He opened his eyes to the glare of sunlight and instinctively ducked his head at the sight of a heavy object rushing to meet him. There was a sickening thud and his senses left him completely.

(continue to part 3)

Friday, April 24, 2009

"Microcosmic Buccaneers" by Harl Vincent, part 1

"Microcosmic Buccaneers" is the third story by Harl Vincent that the Johnny Pez blog will be re"print"ing. Like the rest of the early work of this pioneer of magazine science fiction, "Microcosmic Buccaneers" has long since passed into the public domain. And like the previous stories that have appeared here, this is its first "publication" since its initial appearance in the pulp magazines.

"Microcosmic Buccaneers" appeared in the November 1929 issue of Amazing Stories, about eight months after Amazing's founder, Hugo Gernsback, lost control of it and his various other business concerns in a forced bankruptcy. Although Gernsback quickly established another set of science fiction magazines, the new publishers of Amazing had a more enlightened payment policy than its founder (which is to say, they actually did so), so Vincent preferred submitting his stories to them. The post-Gernsback Amazing eventually published twenty-eight of Vincent's stories from 1929 to 1942.

As I've noted before, Harl Vincent was the pen name of Harold Vincent Schoepflin, a mechanical engineer employed by Westinghouse. When Amazing Stories first came out, Vincent, like many of the new magazine's readers, felt compelled to write his own science fiction stories. Unlike most of the others, he proved to have a talent for writing, and his stories began seeing print, starting with "The Golden Girl of Munan" in the June 1928 issue. "Microcosmic Buccaneers" was his tenth published story.

As with Vincent's previous stories, I'll be publishing "Microcosmic Buccaneers" in a blog-friendly multipart format. Here, then, is part 1:

Microcosmic Buccaneers
by Harl Vincent

An Astounding Discovery

It was utterly incomprehensible, yet it was true. They had seen it with their own eyes. Young Grayson R36B stared at his father's friend with amazement written large on his lean, bronze countenance. Minott V8CA, Director of Physical Research of the eighth Terrestrial district, returned the stare with something of awe in his tired gray eyes.

"Grayson, my boy" he said, "we have succeeded beyond my most optimistic hopes. We have delved into the secrets of the microcosmos. We have located one of the innumerable universes and have there found an inconceivably minute world with its own sun, moon and stars, and peopled by living, thinking creatures who resemble the white race of our earth in physical appearance. It is quite unthinkable, but here in the evidence."

He glanced again into the eyepiece of the massive instrument before which they stood.

"I still can not understand it," remarked the younger man, slowly and with a perplexed frown. "Of course I am as yet ignorant of all excepting the mere rudiments of science. But it seems to me I have read, or perhaps you have told me, that these electrons, of which our infinitesimal world is one, are traveling at great speed even in matter of considerable density. How, then, can your super-microscope view these objects as if they were stationary?"

"That is a feature I neglected to mention. The initial magnification, as I believe I told you, is accomplished by a powerful ray of vibrations. This ray impinges on the object to be viewed and is the first stage of magnification in the system which gives us such enormous powers. The ray, inb addition to giving us the first ten thousand diameters, has the property of following the motions of which you speak. Its far end oscillates in exact harmony with the motions of the molecule or atom or electron as the case may be, while the source of the ray remains stationary and thus impresses a stationary image on the object reflector to the second stage of the instrument."

Grayson R36B nodded in comprehension, though he was unable to picture in his mind's eye such movements of a ray so small as to be unmeasurable and, in fact, invisible in a high power microscope of standard type. This was but one of the many things he had yet to learn. But he found the mysteries of science intensely interesting as propounded by his mentor, and he looked forward happily to many years of such association with the great man into whose care he had been legally placed at the death of his father, two years ago.

"What is the next step?" he asked.

Minott V8CA pondered the question. He had been wondering over the same subject. He was not satisfied with knowing as little as they had been able to see of the inhabitants of the tiny world now visible in the eyepiece of his instrument. He wanted to view them from still closer, to learn more of their lives and of their history. He replied, half jesting, "I should like to pay them a visit."

"Pay them a visit? But that is impossible."

"Nothing is impossible. We are living in the thirty-third century, my boy. Fifteen centuries ago it was thought impossible that man would ever fly -- mind you, fly in the atmosphere like a bird. Ten centuries ago it was thought that gravity could never be counteracted or overcome. And less than five centuries ago a trip to one of the planets was held to be the height of ridiculous imagination. Yet all of these things have been accomplished, and much more. No, I would not say the trip is impossible."

"But it is hardly probable, is it?"

"Hardly. Though the thing merits consideration."

The great scientist mused further. His young protege let his mind dwell upon the bizarre possibility suggested by the older man. There was no more adventure in the world, he ruminated. Some of the ancient sound films, that had been used as a part of his education, portrayed stirring events of the distant past. Adventures had been commonplace in those heroic days -- ocean flights in tiny, wind-buffeted vessels that looked as though they would never weather the storms -- struggles of man against the wilderness, building huge dams across turbulent rivers or erecting strange steel towers that carried power lines through well-nigh impenetrable jungles. Wars and rebellions in remote provinces had likewise appealed to him. But in his own day there was none of that, none of the excitement that had been the lot of adventurous youth in the dark ages. There were no storms now to buffet the gigantic air liners crossing the oceans, for science had conquered the weather. There was no wilderness nor jungle. Nor were their remote provinces, where battles might be fought and deeds of valor might be performed. The world was entirely civilized and overpopulated. Several generations back it had been considered somewhat of an adventure to make a trip to Mars or to Venus, but even this no longer provided excitement, for these planets were now but a few hours away and were so like earth in civilization and appearance as to present no novelty for a visiting terrestrial. Now here was a new possibility in the microcosmos -- and who knew how many more of the tiny worlds might be inhabited? But he could not bring himself to seriously consider the probability of ever reaching one of them.

"Grayson," spoke the older man, interrupting his line of thought, "I intend to do some heavy thinking over this thing. You know the control of our physical size is a comparatively simple matter now, within limits. Of course we have standardized six feet three inches as a man's stature and five feet eleven as a woman's, but there is no reason this might not be altered greatly if desired. By the use of one of the hormones of the pituitary gland we might grow giants of eight feet stature and by causing certain endocrine deficiencies it is possible to dwarf a man to a fourth of normal height. By similar processes it might be that we could contrive to reduce ourselves to the dimensions necessary for life on our newly found electron world."

"You really think something might be done?"

"Might be is the proper term. It is far from being a simple matter. But, as I said before, I shall think about it seriously."

"Supposing it were possible to reduce our bodies to the proper size. We should then be the distance of many universes from that grain of sand which contains our Lilliputian world. We might as well be at the edge of our own galactic universe. How would we ever reach it?"

"That is probably the most difficult part of the problem, and the one requiring the most thought. But it must be susceptible to solution, if not in our lifetime at least at some future date."

Grayson's delight at the words of his guardian was evident in his eyes and it abated but little at the further warning that all this talk of visiting the populated electron was extremely fanciful. And that night he dreamed of green forests and of running streams and of all those things that had existed for him only in history and in carefully preserved picturings. For Grayson R36B was not yet twenty-five years of age.

(continue to part 2)

Michael Steele Deathwatch

Way back in the heady days of February, when Jim Tedisco had a twelve point lead in the polls, several Republicans claimed that the special election in New York state's twentieth congressional district was going to be a referendum on Barack Obama. There was even some talk about how if Tedisco lost the race, the Republican National Committee would meet in a special session to vote Chairman Michael Steele out.


Twenty-four days after the election, Jim Tedisco has finally conceded. Democrat Scott Murphy is going to be serving out the rest of Kirsten Gillibrand's term in the House of Representatives. The referendum on Barack Obama has come and gone, and Obama passed.

And Michael Steele? Well, he just oversaw a Republican loss in a district where Republicans outnumber Democrats by a 70,000 voter margin. If his numerous enemies within the GOP hierarchy are determined to take him down, the loss of this race is just the excuse they need. So how long does Steele have? Six months? Six weeks? Six days?

Stay tuned as we here at the Johnny Pez blog maintain the Michael Steele Deathwatch.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Carnival of the Liberals #89

Welcome back, my friends, to the show that never ends! It's the 89th edition of the Carnival of the Liberals, the fortnightly best of the left blogosphere, coming to you live and direct from the streets of Newport, Rhode Island here at the Johnny Pez blog.

I'd like to thank everyone who participated . . . my inbox may never be the same. Two weeks is too short a time to spend among such excellent and admirable bloggers. I know less than half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than . . . hold on a moment.

Sorry. Wrong speech. Just a second . . . ah, here we go. Ahem.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one blogger to assume among the powers of the blogosphere the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and the Flying Spaghetti Monster entitle him, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind require that he should declare the causes which impel him to host a blog carnival.

I hold these truths to be self-evident: that all blogs are created equal, that they are endowed by their creators with certain unalienable Attributes, that among these are Relevance, Wit, and the pursuit of Page Views. That to display these attributes, Blog Carnivals are instituted within the Blogosphere, deriving their just powers from the consent of the participants.

To prove this, let Blog Posts be submitted to a candid world.

Speaking of Submitted to a Candid World, do you remember back in 2005 a few months after Bush's second inauguration when Bernie Sanders defended Vermont's right to secede from the United States? No? Well, maybe that's because he wasn't crazy. But Ron Paul is, as Ames reveals in "Are You Smarter than a Sitting Congressman? Ron Paul Edition".

Next comes Melanie Pinkert of the BroadSnark blog, who dares to ask the forbidden question: what's so bad about collective action? She gives the question a good solid, erm, questioning in her post "Individual Effort vs. Collective Action".

Jill at The Barefoot Badger gives a quick history of how General Motors eliminated electric trolleys (and incidentally crippled America's public transportation system) in order to clear the way for their cars in "The Murder of Public Transportation in the United States".

Doctor Biobrain at American Nihilist welcomes MSNBC host and torture enthusiast Joe Scarborough to the ranks of the nihilists following Morning Joe's call for a comparison between torture and nuclear fireballs in "Media Hero of the Day: Joe Scarborough".

Martin at the UK blog The Lay Scientist brings word of an epic battle between a fundie group called Christian Voice and Britain's Advertising Standards Authority in "Christian Voice, the HPV Vaccine and Freedom of Speech". Apparently it's considered unacceptable in the UK to lie in advertisements, proof (as if more proof were needed) that Old Europe is sunk in tyranny. Although I'm disappointed that Martin didn't title his post "Help! I'm being repressed!" I'm including it here anyway.

GrrlScientist is Living the Scientific Life, and brings to our attention "HR669: The Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act". Although HR669 seems like a much-needed and environmentally friendly bill, GrrlScientist fears the bill is both grossly misguided and poorly thought out, and explains why.

More scientific goodness comes from Eric Michael Johnson of The Primate Diaries. Johnson points out in "Male Chauvinist Chimps or the Meat Market of Public Opinion?" that establishment media outlets were too eager to make sexist jokes to pay attention to the actual findings of a study examining meat sharing by chimpanzee hunting parties.

Greta Christina of Greta Christina's Blog responds to the teabaggers' incessant, eternal whining about taxes by writing "In Praise of Taxes" and sounding about a hundred times more sensible and mature than any teabagger has managed to do. So put that in your teabag and smoke it!

Paul Sunstone of Café Philos blogs about fellow blogger Bill of Earthling Blues. Bill has very cleverly taken some Mormon propaganda directed against gays and inverted it to produce some gay propaganda directed against Mormons in "Helping Those With Mormon Interests".

Finally, "Mad Madeleine" Kane of Mad Kane's Political Madness takes a hard, gut-wrenching look at what may well be the most important political story of our time: America's new First Puppy. Learn about the searing details (plus limerick) in "Dogged Journalism".

And that concludes Carnival of the Liberals #89. If you've enjoyed reading these posts half as much as I've enjoyed presenting them, then I've enjoyed them twice as much as you. And hey, as long as you're here, why not look around the Johnny Pez blog and see what there is to see? In addition to my own insightful political commentary, there's my daring vision of an alternate world with no Hitler, my conservative version of Superman, a couple of really old public domain science fiction stories that you'll find nowhere else on the internet, and the usual odds and ends you'll find on any blog.

And if you're saying to yourself, "Why, I could do a better job of running a blog carnival than that doofus," then I encourage you to try. In fact, I dare you! I double-dog dare you! Go ahead and tell Leo Lincourt that you want to host the Carnival of the Liberals, just to show that Johnny Pez joker how it's done! In fact, there's an open spot coming up on May 20. Go ahead and volunteer for that one, just to rub my nose in it! That'll show me!

The next edition of Carnival of the Liberals will be hosted at the Quiche Moraine blog on May 6, 2009. Hope to see you there!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!

The Johnny Pez blog has passed yet another milestone on the road to Absolute Blogospheric Supremacy: the Rumproast blog, winner of the 2008 Weblog Award for best small blog, now has us blogrolled under the Polisnark category alongside such illustrious blogs as Jesus' General, Jon Swift, and Sadly, No! Kudos to our newly-acquired minion Kevin K. I'd just like to assure Kevin that when I finally achieve Total World Dominance his death will be merciful and swift.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Harl Vincent bibliography, 1938 - 1969

As part of my effort to single-handedly revive interest in pioneering science fiction writer Harl Vincent, I'll be posting a bibliography of all of Vincent's published works, as culled from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and other online sources. Today I'll be listing his works from 1938 to 1969 based on order of original publication. List of works from 1928 to 1930 can be found here, 1931 to 1932 here, and 1933 to 1935 here.


"Return of the Prowler" (sequel to "Prowler of the Wastelands")
Astounding Science-Fiction, November 1938

"Prince Deru Returns"
Amazing Stories, December 1938


Marvel Science Stories, April-May 1939

"The Devil Flower"
Fantastic Adventures, May 1939

"The Morons"
Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1939

"Mystery of the Collapsing Skyscrapers"
Amazing Stories, August 1939

"Lightning Strikes Once"
Marvel Science Stories, August 1939

"Power Plant"
Astounding Science-Fiction, November 1939


"Neutral Vessel"
Astounding Science-Fiction, January 1940
Johnny Pez blog, August 14 - 18, 2009

"High-Frequency War"
Astounding Science-Fiction, February 1940
Johnny Pez blog, March 11 - 13, 2009

"Undersea Prisoner"
Amazing Stories, February 1940
Science Fiction Adventure Classics, Spring 1971

"Gravity Island"
Super Science Stories, March 1940

"Master Control"
Astonishing Stories, April 1940
Johnny Pez Blog, January 9 - 13, 2010

"Deputy Correspondent"
Astounding Science-Fiction, June 1940

"Life Inside a Wall"
Science Fiction Quarterly, Summer 1940
Yankee Science Fiction, June 1941
The Moon Conquerers; Swan, 1943

"Trouble Shooter"
Super Science Stories, July 1940

"Other World"
Astonishing Stories, October 1940


"Grave of the Achilles"
Captain Future, Winter 1941

"Lunar Station"
Comet Stories, January 1941

"Crime by Chart"
Exciting Detective, March 1941
Fiction Quarterly (Canada), Spring 1942


"Voice From the Void"
Amazing Stories, June 1942
Science Fiction Adventure Classics, May 1972


The Doomsday Planet, Tower Books, 1966


If, September 1967


"The Lethal Planetoid"
Spaceway, January 1969

"Space Storm"
Famous Science Fiction, Spring 1969

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mess with Texas

One of the funniest soundbites to come out of National Teabagging Day was Texas Governor Rick Perry threatening secession if the federal government "continues to thumb their nose at the American people" ie continues to collect taxes. Now, you and I may think that Governor Goodhair is just playing to his party's ever-smaller-and-more-extreme base, but the thing to bear in mind here is that Texas actually has a history of seceding from countries it doesn't want to belong to. Texans seceded from Mexico in 1835 because they were afraid the Mexican government would free their slaves, then seceded from the United States in 1861 because they were afraid that the American government would free their slaves. (As a direct result of the 1861 secession, in 1865 the American government freed their slaves.)

Supposing Texas did secede in the near future? How would that work out?

In the first place, some areas of Texas would resist secession, just as areas of Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee did in the 1860s. In particular, the state capitol of Austin, a hotbed of liberalism and the home of the SXSW music festival, would likely see a West Virginia-style countersecession, with Austin being admitted into the Union as a separate state and acting as an oasis of democratic values and culture, much as West Berlin was during the Cold War. Heavily hispanic areas of Texas near the Mexican border would be the site of an ongoing insurgency funded by Mexican sympathizers. Expect the Texan government to use chemical weapons to put down antigovernment uprisings, leading to the adoption of UN resolutions condeming the practice.

Internationally, there would be almost no international recognition of Texan independence, which would, ironically, be recognized by a handful of rogue states such as North Korea and Cuba. The Texan government, being dominated by black helicopter-type crazy wingnuts, would of course refuse to apply for membership in the UN.

Economically, Texas is dominated by two industries: oil and military bases. The withdrawal of the American military after secession would cripple the Texan economy, resulting in skyrocketing unemployment and a deflationary spiral that would result in the hoarding of Texas currency (officially the Tex, unofficially the Ronnie for the picture of Ronald Reagan on the One Tex note) forcing most Texans to resort to barter.

As the humanitarian crisis in Texas deepens, there will be increasing calls for President Obama to use military force to intervene. Fortunately, it is now a recognized principle of American foreign policy that military intervention is necessary if a foreign country with large oil reserves is suspected of harboring nuclear ambitions. All that is necessary is for the American government to cite evidence of Texan agents seeking uranium yellowcake in Africa and the case for war is pretty much a done deal.

Once the decision to invade and occupy Texas is made, expect to see much government propaganda emphasizing the tyrannical nature of the Texan government and the suffering of minority groups. The actual invasion will likely be carried out by a combination of American troops and Israeli mercenaries relying on a strategy of bribing the commanders of key Texas Ranger battalions to not fight.

Once the Texan government falls, expect the occupation and reconstruction of Texas to go far more smoothly than that of Iraq, since the Obama administration will be run by competent pragmatists rather than incompetent conservative zealots. Using the postwar Allied occupation of Germany as a model, it shouldn't take more than four years to rebuild civil society in Texas to the point where statewide elections can be held and the state can be readmitted to the Union, though there will no doubt be some voices advocating for the division of Texas into two or more states to make future attempts at secession less likely. If these voices prevail, we may see a United States with as many as 56 states with such interesting names as West Louisiana and Baja Oklahoma.

Harl Vincent bibliography, 1933 - 1935

As part of my effort to single-handedly revive interest in pioneering science fiction writer Harl Vincent, I'll be posting a bibliography of all of Vincent's published works, as culled from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and other online sources. Today I'll be listing his works from 1933 to 1935 based on order of original publication. List of works from 1928 to 1930 can be found here, and 1931 to 1932 here.


"Wanderer of Infinity"
Astounding Stories, March 1933
The Pulps: Fifty Years of American Pop Culture, ed. Tony Goodstone; Chelsea House, 1976
Project Gutenberg, July 14, 2009

"When the Comet Returned" (sequel to "Water-Bound World")
Amazing Stories, April 1933

"Cavern of Thunders"
Amazing Stories, July 1933

"Whisper of Death"
Amazing Stories, November 1933

"Telegraph Plateau"
Astounding Stories, November 1933


"Master of Dreams"
Amazing Stories, January 1934

"Lost City of Mars" (sequel to "Water-Bound World" and "When the Comet Returned")
Astounding Stories, February 1934

"Cat's Eye"
Amazing Stories, April 1934

Astounding Stories, June 1934
The Coming of the Robots, ed. Sam Moskowitz; Collier Books, 1963
Machines that Think, ed. Isaac Asimov, Patricia S. Warrick, and Martin H. Greenberg; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, January 1984

Marvel Tales, July/August 1934

"The Barrier"
Amazing Stories, September 1934
Johnny Pez blog, August 2009

"Cosmic Rhythm"
Astounding Stories, October 1934


Astounding Stories, January 1935

"Valley of the Rukh"
Amazing Stories, February 1935

"Prowler of the Wastelands"
Astounding Stories, April 1935
Strange Signposts, ed. Roger Elwood and Sam Moskowitz; Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1966

"The Plane Compass"
Astounding Stories, June 1935

Amazing Stories, July 1935

"The Challenge From Beyond" with Stanley G. Weinbaum, Donald Wandrei, E. E. Smith, and Murray Leinster
Fantasy Magazine, September 1935
The Challenge From Beyond, Necronomicon Press, 1990

Thursday, April 16, 2009

DBTL 22: Meet the Vontzim

Warsaw, Polish Commonwealth
17 July 1945

"This isn't exactly what I had in mind," said Herschel Grynszspan.

Shlomo Kaminsky looked around the dingy room where he and his three bandmates were staying while their gig at the Ratcellar lasted. There were large sections where the plaster had fallen out of the walls, exposing the half-rotted wooden beams beneath. The bare mattress on the floor held a number of the band's insect namesakes, which Shlomo thought was going in for a bit too much authenticity. There was no bulb in the room's overhead light, which was just as well, since experimentation had demonstrated that the light didn't work in the first place. In the daytime, the only light came from a window that faced out into the brick side of the building next door. At night, the room's illumination came from the ceiling light of the outside hallway (provided the room's door was left open). As far as living accomodations went, it was as close to being rock bottom as you could get without actually living on the sidewalk. Shlomo could see Herschel's point, but he shrugged anyway. "You've got to pay your dues if you want to sing the blues," he said, quoting their song "It Don't Come Easy".

"But I don't want to sing the blues," Herschel pointed out. "I want to sing klezmerol."

"The principle is the same," said Shlomo. "Anyway, think of all the bands out there who don't even have a steady gig like we've got. They'd kill to play at the Ratcellar. Also, think of the incentive this room provides us. I for one actually prefer being on stage to being here."

"Being onstage isn't any better," Herschel maintained. "I'm sick and tired of having to dodge beer bottles when I'm playing. And that's when they like us! Leon's got the right idea; find yourself a girlfriend with her own flat, and move in with her. I tell you, Shlomo, Colonel Paruszewski has got to find us a better gig."

But Shlomo knew what would happen if they asked the Colonel. He'd say, "Boys, it takes time. This is a good gig I got for you, the pay may not be so hot, but you get free room and board, and you're making a name for yourselves in the Warsaw club scene. Another month or two and we'll have enough to book some time in a studio and cut a single. That's where the money is! Get some airplay on PRT2, and then the clubs will be begging you to play them!" Shlomo had heard the same spiel so many times that not only could he set it to music, he had; in fact, the resulting song, "Have a Cigar", was one of their more popular numbers.

To Herschel, Shlomo said, "If we want to get a better gig, we've got to be a better band. It's time to rehearse."

"But Leon and Ringo aren't here."

Shlomo sighed. "So we'll rehearse without them until they show, all right? Anyway, it gets us out of this box."

"This is true," said Herschel. Picking up his clarinet case, Herschel gave the mattress an unaffectionate kick as he passed it on his way out the door. Shlomo hefted his accordion and followed.

As soon as he started playing the accordion, Shlomo felt his weariness drop away. Even though he and Hershel were playing to an empty room, the feeling of being on the cutting edge of popular music made Shlomo feel like he was on top of the world. Klezmerol, an unholy mix of traditional Jewish music and American jazz, had swept the Polish Commonwealth since the end of the war. Shlomo had incorporated some of the cowboy elements he had picked up playing piano in the Flying Deutchlander in Bialystok, and the result sounded like nothing else ever heard before. They played to packed crowds at the Ratcellar every night, and Leon reported that some of the Warsaw bands had started imitating their sound.

Shlomo and Herschel had been playing for about fifteen minutes when Ringo Gold showed up. He waved to them from the back of the room, disappeared for a time, then came bounding up onto the stage to take his place behind the drum kit. With Ringo's rock-steady beat behind him, Shlomo felt the music begin to soar.

The set came to an abrupt halt when Leon Svirsky burst through the door shouting at the top of his lungs. "We got it! We got it!"

In the sudden silence, Shlomo said, "Whatever we've got, I hope penicillin will clear it up."

By the time he reached the stage, Leon was panting with exhaustion. It took a minute before he had recovered his breath to the point where he could say, "I just heard from the Colonel! He's booked us a recording session at Novy Swiat Studio next Tuesday!"

Instantly the others surrounded Leon, asking him questions. The Colonel had booked six hours on the 24th from 9 AM to 3 PM, no he didn't know who would be producing, no he didn't know how much it was going to cost, yes they should bring their own instruments, no they hadn't decided which songs to record.

"That's all right," said Shlomo, "we've got the next week to decide which songs to record. In the meantime, the club is going to open in another hour, and we'd better rehearse while we've got the chance." Leon hurried back to the room to get his bass, while the others resumed their places on stage. When they were all ready, Ringo counted off the time, and they swung into "Klezmerol Music".

Shlomo Kaminsky knew it in his heart: they were on their way to the top.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Harl Vincent bibliography, 1931 - 1932

As part of my effort to single-handedly revive interest in pioneering science fiction writer Harl Vincent, I'll be posting a bibliography of all of Vincent's published works, as culled from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and other online sources. Today I'll be listing his works from 1931 to 1932 based on order of original publication. List of works from 1928 to 1930 can be found here.


"Tanks Under the Sea"
Amazing Stories, January 1931

"Terrors Unseen"
Astounding Stories, March 1931
Johnny Pez blog, December 1 - 3, 2008

"Invisible Ships"
Amazing Stories Quarterly, Spring 1931
Science Fiction Classics, Winter 1967

"Too Many Boards"
Amazing Stories, April 1931
Johnny Pez blog, June 28 - July 6, 2009

"Beyond the Dark Nebula"
Argosy, April 4, 1931

"The Moon Weed"
Astounding Stories, August 1931

"The Copper-Clad World"
Astounding Stories, September 1931
Project Gutenberg, May 19, 2009

"Red Twilight"
Argosy, September 13, 20, 27, 1931
Red Twilight; Starmont House, 1991

"A Matter of Ethics"
Amazing Stories, October 1931

"Sky Cops" (with Charles Roy Cox)
Amazing Stories, December 1931


"Once in a Blue Moon"
Amazing Stories Quarterly, Winter 1932
Rainbow Fantasia, 35 Spectrumatic Tales of Wonder, ed. Forrest J. Ackerman; Sense of Wonder Press, August 2001
Johnny Pez Blog, December 12 - 16, 2009

Amazing Stories, January 1932

"Creatures of Vibration" (a sequel to "Vagabonds of Space")
Astounding Stories, January 1932
Project Gutenberg, July 26, 2007

"Water-Bound World"
Amazing Stories Quarterly, Spring-Summer 1932

"Vulcan's Workshop"
Astounding Stories, June 1932
Project Gutenberg, July 5, 2009

"Thia of the Drylands"
Amazing Stories, July 1932
Science Fiction Classics, No. 1, 1967
Johnny Pez Blog, December 19 - 23, 2009

"Faster Than Light" (sequel to "Venus Liberated")
Amazing Stories Quarterly, Fall-Winter 1932

"Roadways of Mars"
Amazing Stories, December 1932
Science Fiction Classics, Fall 1968

The Adventures of Supercon, part 4

Part 4: Thrown Under the Bus

Glenn-El, last son of the lost planet Crypto-con, walked the streets of Municipality. To the people of the city he was Farren Fox, mild-mannered stooge of the Liberal Media. Little did they know that Farren Fox was merely the secret identity of Supercon, defender of truthiness, property, and the conservative way.

Farren Fox didn't particularly like Municipality. He had been raised in a small town called Littleton, and he knew without having to think about it that being from a small town made him morally superior to the city dwellers around him. That was how his adoptive parents, Ma and Pa Fox, had raised him, and nothing he had seen in Municipality had inclined him to change his mind.

He could still remember the day before he finally left home for the big city, with a freshly minted journalism degree from Billy Bob University and the promise of a cub reporter's position at the Daily Globe. His adoptive father had sat him down and warned him about what he would find in Municipality.

"Niggers," Pa Fox told him.

"Well, duh," Farren had responded.

"You sassin' me, boy?"

"No, sir."

"But that ain't all. They got faggots there too, and Moozlims, and Jews."

"But I thought the Jews were good guys."

"Only when they're over in th' Middle East fightin' Ay-rabs. They ain't Christians, so they're goin' straight to Hell, jus' like all the other heathen."

"Oh. Okay."

"An' ya gotta watch out fer the spics, too. Comin' up from Messico, takin' jobs from hardworkin' Americans an' livin' on welfare, never learnin' a word of English. Damn country would be better off if we could just get all them spics to go back where they damn well came from!"

Fox's musings were interrupted by the growling sound of a bus as it came to a halt at a nearby bus stop. Fox himself hadn't ridden a bus since graduating from high school, and his lip curled as it always did when he saw any form of public transportation. Why should his taxes go to subsidize some welfare queen on her way to see her crack dealer?

He turned away and was about to resume walking when the door to the bus opened and he found himself frozen to the spot in horror. The people in that bus were speaking Spanish! It was full of illegal immigrants!

For some reason, an image flashed in his mind of the spaceship that had brought him from Crypto-con to Earth, but he quickly dismissed it. The momentary horror gave way to grim resolve. "This looks like a job . . . for Supercon!"

Spotting a nearby ATM booth, he hurried over and slipped a debit card into the slot. The door unlocked, and no sooner had it closed behind him than he was out of his street clothes and into his cape and tights.

Fast as a streak of light, Supercon was out the door of the ATM booth and swooping down underneath the bus full of illegal immigrants. With a single mighty heave, he lifted the bus above his head. "Up, up, and away!" he cried out as he rose from the city street.

The landscape below him was a blur as Supercon flew to the southwest. In five minutes, he was across the Mexican border with the Sonoran Desert spread out below him. He let himself drop to the ground, then set the bus down atop the burning desert sand.

The door to the bus opened and a man in a business suit leaned out. "What the hell are you doing?" he demanded.

"Bringing you back home, Pedro," Supercon said.

"I'm an American, you dumbass!"

"Tell it to the Border Patrol, Paco. Up, up, and away!" And with that, Supercon was soaring back into the sky.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Carnival of the Liberals: a reminder

Just a quick note to remind everyone that this blog will be hosting iteration 89 of the Carnival of the Liberals on April 22. If you're a liberal blogger and you've got a fairly recent blog post you're particularly proud of, go ahead and submit it at this handy form or email a link to cotl DASH submissions AT carnivaloftheliberals DOT com. Submission deadline for issue #89 is 6PM Eastern Time, Tuesday, April 21. Submission guidelines are located here. If I like it enough, it'll be among the ten posts listed in issue #89.

And if you miss the submission deadline, don't worry. There's always the upcoming issue #90, which will be hosted on May 6 at the Quiche Moraine blog.

Harl Vincent bibliography, 1928 - 1930

As part of my effort to single-handedly revive interest in pioneering science fiction writer Harl Vincent, I'll be posting a bibliography of all of Vincent's published works, as culled from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database and other online sources. Today I'll be listing his works from 1928 to 1930 based on order of original publication.


"The Golden Girl of Munan"
Amazing Stories, June 1928
Rainbow Fantasia: 35 Spectrumatic Tales of Wonder, ed. Forrest J. Ackerman; Sense of Wonder Press, August 2001
Johnny Pez blog, September 2009

"The Ambassador from Mars"
Amazing Stories, September 1928


"The War of the Planets" (sequel to "The Golden Girl of Munan")
Amazing Stories, January 1929
Johnny Pez blog, October 2009

"The Seventh Generation"
Amazing Stories Quarterly, Winter 1929

"Venus Liberated"
Amazing Stories Quarterly, Summer 1929

"The Menace from Below"
Science Wonder Stories, July 1929

"Barton's Island"
Amazing Stories, August 1929
Amazing Stories Quarterly, Fall 1934

"The Yellow Air-Peril"
Air Wonder Stories, September 1929

"Through the Air Tunnel"
Air Wonder Stories, October 1929

"Microcosmic Buccaneers"
Amazing Stories, November 1929
Johnny Pez blog, May 2009

"The Colloidal Menace"
Amazing Stories, December 1929


"The Explorers of Callisto"
Amazing Stories, February 1930

"Old Crompton's Secret"
Astounding Stories of Super-Science, February 1930
Project Gutenberg, April 26, 2009

"Callisto at War" (a sequel to "The Explorers of Callisto")
Amazing Stories, March 1930

"Before the Asteroids"
Science Wonder Stories, March 1930

"The Return to Subterrania" (a sequel to "The Menace from Below")
Science Wonder Stories, April 1930

"The Terror of Air-Level Six"
Astounding Stories of Super-Science, July 1930
Project Gutenberg, June 21, 2009

"Silver Dome"
Astounding Stories of Super-Science, August 1930
Project, Gutenberg, August 23, 2009

"Free Energy"
Amazing Stories, September 1930

"Vagabonds of Space"
Astounding Stories of Super-Science, November 1930
Project Gutenberg, September 6, 2009

"Gray Denim"
Astounding Stories of Super-Science, December 1930
Project Gutenberg, December 17, 2009

For those of you counting along, that's 21 stories published in three years, from someone who wrote as a hobby while working a full time job as a mechanical engineer. I told you this guy was prolific.

Monday, April 13, 2009

DBTL 21: A Post About Nothing

Warsaw, Polish Commonwealth
20 June 1945

As he replaced the receiver on his telephone, Jerzy Seinfeld gave a broad smile to his friend Elena Benes. "Guess what? That was the PRT. They want me to appear on the inaugural television broadcast!"

"Get OUT!" Elena exclaimed as she shoved Jerzy back a few inches. "Really? Jerzy, that's great! Your parents are going to be so proud!"

"You know what this means, don't you?" said Jerzy. "It means I'm going to have to buy them a television set."

"What's wrong with that?"

"Don't you remember what happened when I bought them that car?"

"Oh, yeah." Jerzy's success as a stand-up comedian had enabled him to purchase a BMW for his parents. However, their neighbors refused to believe that Jerzy made enough money telling jokes to afford such an extravagant gift, and rumors began going around the neighborhood that Jerzy's parents had acquired the car by embezzling money from their synagogue. They had eventually been forced to move.

"Well," Elena finally said, "it's not like they'll be driving a television around the neighborhood." Another thought occurred to her. "How are you going to get one in time? The inaugural broadcast is Monday night, and it takes months to get a television set."

It was at that moment that Jerzy's neighbor Kramer burst into the apartment. "Hi Jerzy, Elena," he said.

"Hi, Kramer," Jerzy and Elena said. Jerzy continued to Elena, "I'm not sure. Maybe someone at the PRT can help me."

"Help you what?" said Kramer as he nonchalantly began searching Jerzy's icebox for fruit.

"The PRT wants Jerzy to appear on their inaugural broadcast Monday night," Elena explained, "and Jerzy wants to get his parents a television set so they can watch."

"Hey, that's no problem," said Kramer. "Rob Sacamano's cousin runs an import business. He can get you a British television," he made a sweeping gesture with his hand, accompanied by an odd pffft sound, "like that. If you want, I can take you to see him tomorrow." Retreiving an apple and two pears from the icebox, Kramer began searching through a drawer for an apple corer.

Jerzy tended to be dubious where Kramer's friend Rob Sacamano was concerned, but it wouldn't hurt to ask. "Sure," he said, "it's worth a try."

"In that case," said Kramer, "I'll see you tomorrow morning." Waving the apple corer at the two of them, Kramer slipped out the door.


Warsaw, Polish Commonwealth
21 June 1945

The next morning, Jerzy joined Kramer in the cab of a flatbed lorry as he drove to the Sacamano Trading Company. They were accompanied by Jerzy's friend Gheorghe Costanescu, who, upon hearing about the expedition from Jerzy, had decided to tag along and see if he could acquire a Swiss watch.

Kramer drove the lorry across the Poniatowski bridge to Praga. From there they went down a series of twisted roads leading north along the river until they finally came to a dilapidated warehouse. One look at their destination and Jerzy felt himself becoming alarmed.

"Kramer," he said, "are you sure this is such a good idea?"

"Don't worry, Jerzy," Kramer assured him. "Rob's cousin is strictly on the up-and-up."

Gheorghe seemed indifferent to the building's looks, so Jerzy gave in and followed Kramer to a rusted door on the south face of the warehouse. Kramer gave a complicated series of knocks, and a small panel set within the door slid aside. Two suspicious eyes glared out at them.

"Rob sent me," Kramer murmured.

The panel slid shut again, and the three men waited for an awkwardly long time before the door creaked open to admit them.

It took a moment for Jerzy's eyes to adjust from the bright summer sunshine to the gloom within the warehouse. When they had, he started wishing they hadn't. The rusty door debouched into a small office with a shabby desk and a dented metal file cabinet. Apparently nobody had bothered to sweep up the floor since the beginning of the century, and most of the paint had peeled off the office's walls.

The owner of the suspicious eyes, a bulky man in stained overalls, growled out, "Wait here," and disappeared through another door into the interior of the warehouse. Jerzy was nerving himself to flee back outside when the interior door opened again and a weaselly man with a patchy mustache entered. He smiled a gap-toothed smile at the three of them and said, "What can I do for you gentlemen?"

"My friend here would like to buy a television set," said Kramer.

The weaselly man pursed his lips and sucked air for a moment before saying, "I dunno, been a pretty big demand for televisions lately, what with the PRT set to start broadcasting and all. Might run ya a few złoty."

"That's all right," said Jerzy, who was now looking for an excuse to forget the whole thing. "If you don't have one, you don't have one. My parents can listen on the radio."

"Oh, you want to get one for your parents," exclaimed the weasel. "Hey, that's great, wish my kids would do something nice like that for me. In that case, I can make you a special deal. We just got a shipment of television sets from Yugoslavia, I was holding a few back for some special clients of mine, but for a man who knows how to treat his parents right, I can let one go for only 4500 złotys."

"We'll take it," said Kramer, and before he knew it, Jerzy was counting out nine 500-złoty notes. The weasel slipped back into the warehouse for a minute before emerging in front of the man in the overalls, who was wheeling out a crate on a dolly. While they were waiting for the man with the dolly to return, the weasel said, "Is there anything else I can do for you gentlemen?"

"Have you got any Swiss watches?" said Gheorghe.

The weasel's smile turned to a suspicious frown, and he said, "Are you with Gestwicki's bunch?"

"Um, n-no," Gheorghe stammered.

"I ain't got no Swiss watches," the weasel growled. "I think you'd all better leave. Now."


As Jerzy and Gheorghe wrestled the crate up the stairs to the apartment, Jerzy said, "I didn't even know they made television sets in Yugoslavia."

"Oh yeah," said Kramer as he observed from the next landing up. "Best electrical appliance makers in Europe. In Sarajevo they've practically cornered the market on toasters."

"And what have they got against Swiss watches?" Gheorghe wondered.

"And who's Gestwicki?" said Jerzy.

Kramer looked around nervously, "Oh, you don't want to get mixed up with Gestwicki, he's bad news." When Jerzy asked him what he meant, Kramer just shook his head. He had apparently said all he was prepared to say on the subject of Gestwicki.

When they had the crate in Jerzy's apartment they opened it up and had a look at the set. It was about a meter and a half long, a meter high, and half a meter thick. There was a V-shaped antenna rising from the back, and a round glass screen 30 centimeters across in front. The brand name was incised below the screen, next to the control knobs.

"Milosevic?" said Jerzy. "What kind of brand name is that?"


Warsaw, Polish Commonwealth
22 June 1945

"Jerzy!" exclaimed Helen Seinfeld. "What are you doing here?"

"I've got good news, Ma," said Jerzy. "I'm going to be on television!"

"Television?" said Jerzy's father Moshe, "what's that?"

"Dear, you know about television," Helen reminded him. "We read about it in the paper last week. It's like radio, only with pictures."

"Oh yeah," said Moshe. "Do they let Jews on television?"

"Apparently they do," said Jerzy, "since they asked me."

"Do we know anybody with a television set?" Helen asked her husband.

"I don't think we do," said Moshe.

"You do now," said Jerzy. Leaning back out the door, he called, "bring it on in."

As Jerzy held open the door to his parents' apartment, Gheorghe Costanescu carefully rolled in the television set, which was resting on a wheeled platform.

"My God, Jerzy, what is it?" Helen wondered.

"It's a television set, Ma. I bought it so you and Pop could watch me Monday night."

"It looks complicated," said Helen. "How does it work?"

"It's just like a radio," said Jerzy. "This knob turns it on and controls the volume, and this knob tunes in the station."

"A television set!" Helen exclaimed. "And our Jerzy's going to be on it Monday night!"

"I'll believe it when I see it," said Moshe.


Warsaw, Polish Commonwealth
25 June 1945

Jerzy had been allowed to bring one guest with him to the PRT studio, and he had, to Gheorghe's dismay, chosen to bring Elena. The two of them were in the green room, which had been catered with tea and biscuits. Elena was suffering from fame overload from all the celebrities she had met in the last hour. Jerzy was listening to her enthuse over a brief conversation with Władysław Strzemiński when he noticed the show's producer motioning to him. He could tell from the man's expression that it was bad news.

"Jerzy," he said, "I'm afraid Pola Negri's segment ran too long. We're going to have to bump you from the show."

Jerzy sighed and said, "Is there a phone around here I can use? I'd better call my parents and let them know I won't be on tonight after all."

"At least they've still got a brand-new television set," Elena pointed out.


Sisak, Croatian Devo, Kingdom of Yugoslavia
7 June 1945

Ante Novaselic was outraged. "What's the meaning of this new change order?"

Nikola Pelko, chief engineer of the Milosevic Electronics Works, said, "We've fallen behind schedule. We have to ship these television sets by tomorrow. There isn't time to solder the valve array plates. We'll have to glue them in place."

"But the glue will never hold!" Novaselic shouted. "As soon as the sets get hot enough it will melt! And if the valve array plate comes loose, the unit could go off like a bomb!"

"Do you want to be the one to tell that to Old Man Milosevic?" said Pelko.

Novaselic shook his head.

"Then tell the men to grab their glue guns. We've got a deadline to meet!"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Operation Godzilla-Versus-Mothra

Nomi Hurwitz at the Grace Paley blog is understandably upset over the recent shootings in Pittsburgh, Oakland, and Birmingham. Her reaction is this post on the need to review the rules for gun ownership.

Preventing such a review of the rules for gun ownership, of course, is the National Rifle Association, an organization dominated by gun manufacturers that reflexively opposes any and all attempts to keep guns out of the hands of anyone who wants them.

With this recent upsurge in gun violence, I think the time has come for me to unveil a project that I've had bumping around in my noggin for some time now. I call it Operation Godzilla-Versus-Mothra, and the idea is to somehow get the two most powerful and dangerous special interest groups in Washington, the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), into an all-out no-holds-barred lobbying turf war that will damage both (if we're lucky, fatally).

The problem here is that since the NRA is a domestic policy group and AIPAC is a foreign policy group, there's no actual overlap between their areas of concern for them to fight over.

Or is there?

Consider Iraq, the invasion and occupation of which has to be considered AIPAC's crowning glory. Now that the Obama administration has committed to withdrawing American troops from that nation and leaving its rather shaky government to fend for itself, the Israel hawks have got to be feeling nervous. There is every chance that after the American troops withdraw Iraq could find itself with a government even more hostile to Israel than Saddam's was. How can they keep such a government from supplying arms to Palestinian militants?

I think you can see where I'm going here.

It isn't necessary for AIPAC to actually call for gun control in Iraq. All that's necessary is for a sufficient number of American gun nuts to think that AIPAC is pushing for gun control in Iraq. This can be accomplished by the simple expedient of infiltrating various right-wing message boards and planting a few "I heard on the news that . . . " rumors as well as seeding some artfully concocted stories within the right-wing chain e-mail circuit.

If we can get the NRA to denounce AIPAC's alleged pro-gun-control stance, then AIPAC will have no choice but to start fighting back. In addition to the possibility of one or both groups being fatally weakened, there's the potential amusement value of watching members of Congress being whipsawed by the two groups' supporters.

Can Operation Godzilla-Versus-Mothra be implemented? I frankly admit that it seems unlikely, but I think that if there's even a small chance of success, then we ought to go for it. The potential benefits, both foreign and domestic, are too great to pass up the opportunity.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Covering the teabaggers

Digby at Hullabaloo notes that, yes, Virginia, National Teabagging Day is an astroturf operation being run by a couple of right-wing think tanks and heavily publicized by Fox News. She ends her post with the following plea to the media:

If any members of the press are reading this, I hope they can see that this is the story, not the sad little dupes who are voluntarily calling themselves tea-baggers.

I'm sure Digby is just being snarky here, because she knows as well as I do what sort of decision-making process is going to occur within the bowels of the corporate media.

Picture your typical frazzled, stressed-out producer at, say, CNN. This producer has a choice: 1) go to all the trouble of explaining to his dim-witted viewers (as he thinks of them) what political astroturf is and who the right-wing think tanks are and how they operate and what they want to accomplish with National Teabagging Day, or 2) run thirty seconds of videotape of people holding up signs and chanting anti-tax slogans.

Yeah, Digby and I both know which choice that producer is going to make.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Citizens! Your attention please!

As I've noted before, a blog carnival is much like a real-life carnival: a series of blog posts parading by on floats accompanied by scantily-clad people throwing beads and trinkets to drunken onlookers. Except for the drunken onlookers. And the beads and trinkets. And the scantily-clad people. And the floats.

But there is a parade of blog posts, which is what you'll be seeing here at the Johnny Pez blog on April 22 when we host Carnival of the Liberals #89. As Blue Gal notes here, the way it works is that liberal bloggers submit posts from the past couple weeks for consideration and the host picks ten and links 'em. If you're a liberal blogger and you've got a recent post you're particularly proud of, you can submit it for consideration at this handy form or send the link via e-mail to cotl DASH submissions AT carnivaloftheliberals DOT com before 6PM Eastern Time, Tuesday, April 21. Submission guidelines can be found here.

And if you're really, really enthused by the whole Carnival of the Liberals thing, you can host it your own self. FSM knows if I can do it, anyone can. The great thing about hosting is that if you've got a tiny little blog like, well, mine, that nobody's ever heard of, it's a chance to let the wider world of the left blogosphere know about it. All you have to do is look here under Future Hosts, find a couple of dates that haven't been claimed yet, jump over here to the Volunteer Form, and fill it out. Two weeks before your chosen date, you'll begin receiving blog links on your electronic mail thingie. The emailed links include html code that you can cut 'n paste into a blog post and modify as you like, and then comes the day you pick your favorite ten links and post 'em. It's that frakkin' simple! So go ahead and volunteer, dammit! Operators are standing by!

If you'd like to see what a Carnival of the Liberals post looks like, check out #88 at Liberal England, #87 at Blue Gal, and #86 at The Greenbelt. Call now!

An important message for Richard Mellon Scaife

Brad, one of the long-suffering smartasses at Sadly, No! brings word of this plea from RedState founder managing editor Erick "as seen in Newsweek" Erickson for the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy to start spending some of their ad dollars on right-wing blogs like, well, RedState. For those of you arriving late to the party, RedState was founded in 2004 to be the conservatives' answer to the Daily Kos. You can tell how well they're doing by the fact that dKos' Wikipedia article notes in its third paragraph that the site averages 800,000 visits a day, while RedState's much shorter article makes no mention of its daily traffic.

Still, Erick actually raises an interesting point. Say you’re Richard Mellon Scaife, and you’re trying to prop up a failed ideology. Who do you dole out your cash to? Fox News and its sexagenarian demographic? Townhall and its endless ranks of George Will wannabees? No, you want the blogger with the tiny (but still large by wingnut standards) audience of cheeto-huffing basement dwellers. He’s the Wingnut of the Future because he’s hep to all that high-tech computer stuff. He’s the man standing athwart the internet yelling “Socialism!”

Give your money to Erick, Mr. Scaife! It’s the only way to rescue conservatism!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Searching for light in the darkness of insanity

It's been a while since the last embedded video, so the Johnny Pez blog is proud to present Elvis Costello (well, it's spelled Elvis Costello but it's pronounced Declan Patrick MacManus) performing Nick Lowe's "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love, and Understanding?" while subbing for David Letterman on March 12, 2003.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Adventures of Supercon, part 3

Part 3: Who Monitors the Monitors?

Supercon, last survivor of the planet Crypto-con and Earth's defender of truthiness, property, and the conservative way, was cruising through the planet's stratosphere as he pondered his father Rush-El's last recorded message. Rush-El had been eloquent, as befitted the last and greatest conservative propagandist of Crypto-con. Science, he had warned, was as much a battle between conservatism and liberalism as any other field of human endeavor. No scientific enterprise ought to be allowed to escape the attention of vigilant conservatives, ever on the lookout, as they must be, for evidence of liberal bias.

Worst of all, Rush-El had warned, was government-funded science. Letting scientists receive money from the government was a sure-fire way to get liberals pushing their stealth agenda at the expense of decent, hardworking conservative taxpayers.

As Supercon let his father's words occupy his thoughts, his eyes took in the vista before him. He was flying east over the Aleutian Mountains after a few hours spent patrolling the Bering Strait. Sure, the Russians wanted everyone to think they had abandoned Communism, but Supercon knew that was just the sort of sneaky subterfuge the Russians were renowned for. He always made a point of flying along the International Date Line between Alaska and Siberia, just to let the Russkies know that he was still keeping an eye on them.

Spread out across his vision was a chain of snow-capped mountain peaks, shining in the afternoon sun. As any conservative would, he was wondering if it would be possible to privatize the mountain chain and charge people admission to see them. He was turning the problem over in his mind, weighing the possibility of covering the mountains under a tarp and only exposing them for paying customers, when his eyes saw a plume of ash rising from one of the peaks.

The Aleutian Range, he knew, was volcanic. No doubt, one of the volcanos in the range was erupting. He flew closer, and immediately noticed two things: one, a jetliner was flying directly towards the cloud of volcanic ash rising from the mountain peak; and second, there was a building a few miles away from the mountain. His super-powered vision was able to pick out a sign standing near the building: REDOUBT VOLCANO MONITORING STATION -- YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK.

A volcano monitoring station, Supercon realized with growing horror, and it was government funded! There was no time to lose! Diving down out of the stratsophere, Supercon flew like an arrow towards the monitoring station. He came to rest hovering a hundred feet away from the building. Inhaling for all he was worth, Supercon was able to compress millions of cubic feet of atmospheric oxygen and nitrogen within his superpowered lungs. Then, with a single convulsive effort, he exhaled again.

Like a sudden tsunami, the mighty wind of escaping air battered at the volcano monitoring station, blasting it until at last it was reduced to a pile of rubble. Wanting to make certain, Supercon again inhaled, and again exhaled, and the rubble was blown across a hundred thousand square feet of the volcano's flank.

Looking up from the wreckage of the monitoring station, feeling the glow of a job well done, Supercon noted idly that the jetliner had passed through the cloud of volcanic ash and was spiraling down out of control. Well, he thought with a shrug, the passengers and crew had known the risks when they boarded. The more farsighted ones would have purchased flight insurance.

With a trumphant "Up, up, and away!" Supercon rose from the mountainside and resumed his interrupted journey to the east.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Adventures of Supercon, part 2

Part 2: Better Dead than Maglev

Glenn-El, the last son of Crypto-Con, walked the streets of planet Earth under the human name Farren Fox. Adopted as an infant by Ma and Pa Fox, Glenn-El had grown to manhood unaware of his heritage, until his unearthly powers had begun to manifest themselves. That was when his parents had revealed the small spaceship in which he had fallen to Earth seventeen years before. Within it, he had discovered the sweat-soaked cape of his true father Rush-El, bearing a strange semicircular character that he now knew was the ancient crest of his Crypto-conian family.

Also within the spaceship he had uncovered a strange device that proved to be a voice recorder holding his father's last message: "Glenn-El, my son, remember this. Conservativism did not fail us -- we failed conservatism. We weren't conservative enough. I've given you a chance to avoid the mistakes we made. Remember -- government isn't the solution, government is the problem. And taxes are always bad. Always, always, always! Goodbye, my son, and good luck!"

Inspired by his father's words, Farren Fox -- Glenn-El -- had donned his father's cape, along with a costume of leotards and tights that was totally not gay, no matter what anybody said, and appeared before the world to champion conservatism. The Liberal Media, fearful of his conservative awesomeness, had named him Supercon, and he had proudly born that name.

There was much for him to do on this dark planet Earth -- government regulations, government subsidies, and worst of all -- worst of all! -- taxes! More taxes than even Rush-El's worst nightmares could have conceived.

Flying across the Mojave Desert, Supercon's attention was drawn to a dark line drawn across the dessicated landscape as though with a straightedge. A line a railroad cars moved across it at a speed of hundreds of miles an hour. Supercon nodded in approval -- good, old-fashioned rail technology, the kind that had opened the west, a tribute to the power of unfetterd free enterprise.

Suddenly, his superpowered vision noticed something amiss. There was a sign next to the railroad, and as he read it, his blood ran cold: MAGLEV TRAIN - YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK. A government-subsidized maglev train -- and it was headed straight for Las Vegas!

As quick as thought, Supercon was roaring through the sky, arrowing down to the desert floor beneath. Approaching the train from behind, he grabbed ahold of it, then set down on the railbed. A gout of dust erupted behind him as his feet gouged into the hard rock. He could feel the friction with the ground heating his boots, and his feet . . . his legs . . . .

But it was working! The train was slowing down. Slower and slower they went, until the maglev train was resting motionless on the tracks. Staring down at the rails, Supercon let his x-ray vision heat them up until they were white-hot. The rails softened like wax, then spread across the ground in two molten lines across the desert as they liquefied.

His work complete, Supercon lifted his eyes to find a crowd of passengers glaring at him from the train.

"What the hell are you doing?" one of them asked.

"This maglev train was wrong," Supercon explained. "Government subsidized, creeping socialism. Next time you want to go to Vegas, take the highway -- in your own private car. That's the way to preserve freedom! Now, up, up, and away!"

"But the government subsidizes highways, too, you dumbass!" the passenger called out. "And now we're stranded here!"

But there was no one to hear. Fast as a second-amendment-approved speeding bullet, Supercon was gone.

(to be continued)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Dole in '76: The Possible Dream

One of the most interesting bits of news to come out of the recent special election in New York's 20th Congressional District was the Tedisco campaign filing a lawsuit to overturn the results before the polls had even closed. This appears to herald a new Republican election strategy that we might call the Tedisco Principle: it is automatically assumed that any close election will be stolen by the Democrats, and the results must be overturned in court.

The Tedisco Principle follows logically from the results of the contested 2008 Minnesota senate race. Although it had become clear by December that Democrat Al Franken won the race, the Republicans have been able to use a court challenge to keep Franken from taking his seat, even though it has been three months (and counting) since the new Congress was seated.

It may seem at first glance that Barack Obama's victory over John McCain was too overwhelming (Obama won by 192 electoral votes, and received 9,522,083 more popular votes than McCain) to be challenged under the Tedisco Principle. However, it isn't necessary for Republicans to challenge the results of the 2008 presidential election when it may be possible to achieve the same ends by challenging an earlier election.

Consider, for example, the 1976 presidential election. As noted in this front page story at the Great Orange Satan, Jimmy Carter won the presidency by only 57 electoral votes and 1,683,247 popular votes. If Republican candidate Gerald Ford had won 12,000 more votes in Ohio and 36,000 more votes in Wisconsin, he would have won the election. This seems like fertile ground for the application of the Tedisco Principle.

Although Gerald Ford passed away in 2006, his running mate Bob Dole is still alive and kicking, and has standing to challenge the 1976 election results in Ohio and Wisconsin. If he does so, and succeeds in overturning Carter's victory, he can require that Ford and himself be compensated for being wrongfully deprived of the presidency and vice-presidency by being awarded the remainder of Barack Obama and Joe Biden's current terms of office. He can further require that while the lawsuit is pending, Obama and Biden be barred from serving out their terms, and that the previous occupants, George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, be installed during the interim.

While it may seem unlikely that Dole can succeed in overturning Carter's victory, that's not the point. The point, as in the Minnesota senate race, and in Tedisco's own special election race, is to keep the elective office in question in legal limbo for as long as humanly possible, thereby depriving the Democrats of its use. If Bob Dole and the Republicans play their cards right, they can use the 1976 challenge to keep Obama and Biden out of office for months, possibly even years. And with a Republican majority on the Supreme Court, there's even a chance that Bob Dole could win his legal challenge, and thus gain a compensatory term as (in Ford's absence) president.

With such high stakes, any gamble, no matter how unlikely, would be worth it. Bob Dole and the Republicans need to take a serious look at applying the Tedisco Principle to the 1976 election. Because, really, you never know.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Adventures of Supercon, part 1

Part 1: The Last Son of Crypto-con

Far from the planet Earth, on a world that circled a red-state sun, Rush-El, last and greatest propagandist of the planet Crypto-con, brooded within his vast beachfront fortress. Of course, the beach was gone now, submerged beneath seas engorged with melted ice from the planet's lost icecaps. As the polluted water surged over the poisoned land, Crypto-conian civilization was crumbling under the combined ecological and economic catastrophes of free-market fundamentalism.

Rush-El shook his head. It wasn't true; he knew it in his gut that it wasn't true. "Conservatism didn't fail us," he muttered to himself. "We failed it. We weren't conservative enough." But now, at long last, there was no one to hear him. The rapidly-heating air of Crypto-con could no longer transmit the radio waves upon which Rush-El had made his fortune. Alone, unheard, he swore to himself, "It can't end here. It won't end here. I won't let it."

Heaving his vast, sweating bulk from one of the oversized chairs with which he had furnished his fortress, Rush-El waddled through the echoing hallways until he reached the garage. There, he beheld the small spaceship which his once-vast fortune had purchased for him. He also beheld its intended passenger, his infant son Glenn-El, crying lustily within his crib.

Well, Rush-El admitted within his own mind, probably not actually his son. Frankly, Rush-El didn't like having sex with adults. Even the women of Crypto-con, trained from birth in the arts of subservience, were too independent for his liking. That was why his many marriages had all ended in divorce, sealed with ironclad nondisclosure agreements. Children were much more satisfactory. In fact, give him a few years, and Glenn-El himself . . .

But Rush-El knew he didn't have a few years. Within hours, his fortress would be submerged beneath the poisoned seas, and the last bastion of Crypto-conian civilization would be no more. After pausing several minutes to recover his breath from the long journey to the garage, Rush-El leaned over to lift from the crib what was legally his son, and brought him over to the open hatch of the spaceship. Glenn-El continued to cry, his face red as the sun of Crypto-con, and the echoes of his voice filled the garage. It was with some relief, Rush-El admitted at last to himself, that he closed the hatch and cut off the babe's incessant wailing.

It was a pity that they couldn't have made the spaceship big enough for Rush-El himself, the propagandist mused sadly. He would have cheerfully abandoned Crypto-con and left little Glenn-El to fend for himself in that case. But it was not to be. It was either Glenn-El, or nothing.

Turning to the control console, Rush-El pressed the button that would release the narcozine gas within the spaceship, placing Glenn-El in a deep slumber that would allow him to survive the long interstellar voyage to his new home. A second button caused the garage roof to swing open, allowing the planet's hot, choking air to enter. A final button fired up the spaceship's engines, and it lifted slowly out of its launch cradle, flames billowing out from beneath.

Rush-El swore as the flames enveloped him. It hadn't occurred to him that the spaceship would kill him when it took off; if it had, he never would have bothered with any of this. Screaming in pain, the last and greatest propagandist of the planet Crypto-con cursed the probably-not-his-son whose life he had just saved.

The spaceship with the sleeping infant rose up from the surface of Crypto-Con, oriented itself among the stars, and set off for the tiny yellow sun that would be its final destination.

(to be continued)

Lie die serve

Today's embedded video comes from U2's legendary Zoo TV tour, as recorded in Sydney on November 27, 1993. Here is the Edge singing and performing "Numb".

DBTL 20: Where Are They Now? - 1945

It is the morning of 7 May 1945 in the Drowned Baby Timeline. To recap:

ADOLF HITLER has been dead for fifty-six years, having accidentally drowned while being bathed shortly after his birth.

ERNST RÖHM, ex-Führer of Germany, has been dead for eight years, having committed suicide just before the fall of Berlin to the Polish Army.

JOSEF PILSUDSKI has been dead for seven years. He lived long enough to fight off the German invasion of Poland in 1936, and to appoint the great hero of that war as his successor:

STANISLAW SKWARCZINSKI has been War Minister of Poland for seven and a half years. As Pilsudski's chosen successor, he has been instrumental in making his predecessor's vision for Poland a reality. Since passage of the Law of Devolution by the Sejm in 1939, the Polish Commonwealth has developed into a multi-ethnic federalist state.

GREGOR STRASSER is President of the Brandenburg Bundestag. Brandenburg is the oldest of the Polish Commonwealth's autonomous regions (or devos as they are popularly known), having been established in October 1939. Originally a German nationalist, Strasser has become one of the pillars of the Polish Commonwealth.

HERMANN GÖRING is Director of the Garden, the Polish Commonwealth's jet aircraft production plant. Unlike Strasser, he has no intention of going into politics.

JOSEF STALIN is General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It is a tribute to the utter terror Stalin inspires in his subordinates that the late LAVRENTI BERIA, ex-head of the NKVD, never once considered trying to depose or assassinate him. However, Stalin is well aware of the fact that the recent attempt to liberate Lithuania from its capitalist oppressors, and the subsequent invasion of the Polish Commonweatlth, was the greatest blunder of a career filled with blunders. Although Beria has taken the blame for the USSR's poor showing, Stalin knows that he is going to have to kill an awful lot of people, even by his standards, to cover up his own responsibility.

The body of ALEXEI KOSYGIN, ex-Mayor of Leningrad, was recently exhumed from the ruins of Leningrad's City Hall. Being safely dead, Stalin can turn him into a heroic defender of the Soviet Union and a martyr of Socialism.

The body of NIKITA KRUSHCHEV will not be so easy to find, since the Ukrainian party boss was torn apart by a mob during the uprising in Kiev.

They said it couldn't be done, but Polish President JOSEF BECK and Prime Minister EDWARD RYDZ-SMIGLY have done it. In the atmosphere of euphoria that pervaded Poland after the Second Soviet War, the half dozen political parties that made up the governing coalition, including the Socialists, the United Peasants Party, and the pro-government parties of the devos, united to form the Federalist Party. Now, for the first time since Poland's rebirth, a single party holds an absolute majority in the Sejm.

WLADISLAW SIKORSKI is the leader of Poland's conservative National Democrats, the Federalist Party's main opposition. The recent addition of the Belorussian and Ukrainian SSRs to the Polish Commonwealth has reduced his party's power in the newly-enlarged Sejm. Unless he can think of some way to overcome his party's limited influence, both it and the cause of Polish nationalism it stands for will be drowned in the rising tide of non-Poles.

BOLESLAW PIASECKI is the Duce of the National Socialists (aka the Nasos), Poland's anti-Semitic extremists. Piasecki is overjoyed by the addition of the ex-Soviet Republics of Belorussia and Ukraine to the Polish Commonwealth. The more the Poles become a minority within their own country, the more popular his own brand of xenophobic nationalism will become, and the closer he will come to his ultimate goals of abolishing the devos, establishing a Polish ruling class, and expelling Poland's Jews.

HEINZ GUDERIAN is widely -- and correctly -- perceived as the mastermind behind Poland's victory in the Second Soviet War. In recognition, he has recently been appointed First Marshal of the Polish Commonwealth by War Minister Skwarczinski, a post previously held only by Josef Pilsudski and by Skwarczinski himself. Guderian cannot help but contrast the honor he has been accorded in Poland with the shabby treatment he received in Germany under Röhm. Previously apolitical, he has now become a fervent Federalist, as have his many admirers among Poland's Germans.

MAXIME WEYGAND is widely -- though incorrectly -- perceived as the mastermind behind the Polish victory over the Red Army in August 1920. In recognition, he was appointed Premier of France in 1944 when it became clear that his predecessor, HENRI DE KERILLIS, was incapable of dealing with the Algerian uprising.

WINSTON CHURCHILL has been absent from public life since resigning as Military Governor of Hanover in December 1939 to protest the new ATTLEE government's decision to grant Indian independence in 1944. His memoirs of the Danzig War were moderately successful, and he has begun work on a multi-volume History of the English Speaking Peoples.

EDWARD ALBERT CHRISTIAN GEORGE ANDREW PATRICK DAVID SAXE-COBURG UND GOTHA became King of Hanover when the country formally gained its independence on 1 May 1944. As he and Queen Wallis are childless, the Hanoverian crown is likely to revert to the family of his younger brother KING GEORGE VI in the future. King Edward has established an excellect working relationship with his Prime Minister, KONRAD ADENAUER.

THEODOR HEUSS became first President of the Republic of Bavaria when the country formally gained its independence on 30 April 1944. His Prime Minister, LUDWIG ERHARD, first rose to prominence in Bavaria in 1940 by defying an order from Military Governor PIERRE LAVAL to create a secret slush fund for his personal use. The resulting scandal forced Laval's removal and made Erhard a hero among Bavarians.

ANTANAS MERKYS has emerged as the leader of the Lithuanian Devo's Independence Party. A plebescite on the fate of the newly-united halves of Lithuania is scheduled for 1 June, and Merkys plans to spend each day until then trying to convince the disparate peoples of his country that they should vote for full independence from the Polish Commonwealth.

BENITO MUSSOLINI is Duce of Italy. The recent success of Italy's secret research project to create an atomic bomb has left him in a curiously schizophrenic state. On the one hand, he feels a strong desire to use the bomb against the British and French bastards who put a halt to his attempted conquest of Ethiopia five years earlier. On the other hand, he knows that as soon as the bomb's existence is known, the British and French (at least) and the Poles and Russians (probably) will start building atomic bombs of their own, and Italy will be back to square one. Thus, while he is now master of the world, he is not quite sure what to do next. But he will think of something.

GROUP CAPTAIN ARTHUR C. CLARKE is the Director of the RAF's Rocket Research Project. The remarkable success of Poland's rocket weapons in the Eastern War has resulted in a sudden flood of resources for the Project, and Clarke has at last been able to give the green light to his long-cherished (and long-neglected) pet project: a multistage ballistic missile which he hopes will serve as the model for an orbital spaceship.

ALBEN BARKLEY is the President of the United States. He blames his defeat by Robert Taft in the 1940 election on his then-running mate, Ambassador JOSEPH KENNEDY, who was enveloped by a series of scandals during the fall campaign. Determined not to make the same mistake twice, at the 1944 Democratic convention Barkley passed on his first choice for a running mate, SENATOR HARRY S. TRUMAN. Although personally honest, Truman was too closely associated with the corrupt Pendergast machine for Barkley to risk choosing him. Instead, Barkley chose the popular Governor of New York, THOMAS WAGNER, JR. Wagner is currently discovering for himself the truth of his predecessor JOHN GARNER's adage about the Vice-Presidency.

Meanwhile, former Vice-President THOMAS E. DEWEY is now regarded as the Republican Party's front runner for the 1948 presidential nomination. From his office in New York City, Dewey observes and occasionally comments on the Barkley administration's policies.

Former President FRANKLIN DELANO ROOSEVELT retired from public life in January 1941. He now divides his time between his family's home in New York and his winter home in Warm Springs, Georgia. His memoirs of his eight years in the White House, which he co-wrote with his friend HARRY HOPKINS, have proved surprisingly popular.

The strange world of Wisconsin politics has produced a new national curiosity. The CPUSA's strident criticism of the Polish Commonwealth proved attractive to the state's large population of German-Americans, who had their own reasons for disliking Poland. In 1944 an ambitious local politician took advantage of the state's unusual political landscape (and the widespread disenchantment with the Taft administration's economic policies) to get himself elected to national office: "Comrade" JOSEPH R. MCCARTHY is now the sole Communist member of the US House of Representatives.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY is currently in Los Angeles, putting the finishing touches on a screenplay adapted from his bestselling novel To Sail Beyond the Sunset. ERROL FLYNN has already been signed to play the film's lead character, Captain Clark. Hemingway's efforts to get Warner Brothers to hire his fianceé LENI RIEFENSTAHL to direct have been unsuccessful.

ROBERT A. HEINLEIN is also in Los Angeles, having been hired by MGM to write the screenplay for their new science-fiction epic. Heinlein decided to use his novel Methuselah's Children for the purpose, though as he finishes the script's third draft he is beginning to suspect that the final result will bear little resemblance to his original. Still, the studio pays very well, always an important factor with Heinlein; he and his wife LESLYN have bought a new house in Burbank with the proceeds from his screenwriting stint.

ISAAC ASIMOV, PhD is in Newark, Delaware, having accepted a position with the University of Delaware's Department of Chemistry. It has been two years since his girlfriend GERTRUDE BLUGERMAN dumped him, citing his lack of job prospects. Since moving to Delaware, Asimov has rekindled a romance with his first love, a fellow chemist named IRENE.

ANNE FRANK started a diary when she was 13, but nothing ever really happens in Amsterdam, so she has let it lapse. However, after reading a Dutch translation of To Sail Beyond the Sunset, she has started writing stories set in outer space.

STANISLAW LEM has also read To Sail Beyond the Sunset, but he was not impressed. WITKACY's recent Fear and Loathing in Lwow, on the other hand, impressed him greatly with its "bad craziness", and Lem now considers himself a part of the growing Gonszo School of modern Polish literature.

HERSCHEL GRYNSZPAN has been living in Warsaw since his family fled Germany in 1935. He is currently making a marginal living playing clarinet in a band that plays jazz-influenced klezmer music. However, he and his bandmates are determined to make it to "the toppermost of the poppermost".

After a decade and a half spent knocking around Europe, ANDREAS VAN KUIJK has come to rest in Warsaw. There, operating as "Colonel Tadeusz Paruszewski", he has found a niche as a bottom feeder within Poland's burgeoning recorded music industry. The ambitious van Kuijk keeps a keen eye peeled for an up-and-coming act he can use to make himself rich.

CAPTAIN KAROL WOJTILA is currently stationed in the town of Chernobyl in the newly-organized Ukrainian Devo. He is rather dismayed to find that many Ukrainians blame the Jews for the terrors they have undergone at the hands of the Bolsheviks. The Polish army is able to keep any major pogroms from occuring, but is helpless in the face of hundreds of acts of random terrorism. Fortunately, one man can act where a hundred would be helpless...