Monday, August 30, 2010

Sobel Wiki

Back in the days of my youth, when the internet was wild, rich, and largely spam-free, I found myself spending a lot of time on the alternate history Usenet group soc.history.what-if. It was there that I created my alt-hist magnum opus, the Drowned Baby Timeline. And it was there that I participated in the For All Nails project.

The FAN project had its origin in a book published in 1973, For Want of a Nail: If Burgoyne Had Won at Saratoga by Robert Sobel. Sobel was a business historian best known for his histories of the stock market, The Big Board (1965) and The Curbstone Brokers (1970). The summer of 1971 found him between book contracts, so he took up a suggestion from a former student and wrote a mock-history of an America that lost the American Revolution.

As the subtitle indicates, Sobel's alternate history diverges from our own in October 1777, when the British General John Burgoyne beats the Americans at the Battle of Saratoga and captures Albany. Conciliationists take control of the Continental Congress, and in June 1778 the war ends with the colonies returning to British control. Just as our history saw the Loyalists leave the newly-established United States of America for Canada, so Sobel's history sees the Patriots leave the re-established British colonies for Mexico, specifically Texas, where they establish themselves as the State of Jefferson. In 1781 Parliament passes a bill that reorganizes the North American colonies into a new dominion called the Confederation of North America, while in 1819 the State of Jefferson merges with the Republic of Mexico to create the United States of Mexico. Sobel then tells the histories of these two nations up until the time he was writing in the summer of 1971.

For Want of a Nail is a legend among alternate history fans, since it is easily the most detailed alternate timeline ever created. So when I noticed a copy for sale for a mere dollar at the Newport Public Library in August 2001, I snatched it up.

Three months later, Noel Maurer, economic historian and regular shw-i poster, decided to launch the For All Nails project to bring Sobel's history up to the 21st century. He invited other shw-i regulars to join in, and several did so, including my own now-fully-up-to-speed-on-Sobel self. The FAN project continued for two and a half years before those of us in the FAN Cabal let it drop, after yielding some 300 posts covering most of the 1970s; the results can be found here.

While the FAN project was going on, it occurred to us in the FAN Cabal that For Want of a Nail would make a damn good subject for a wiki, what with all the myriad people and events it covers. Sadly, we never got around to building that wiki.

Until now. The Johnny Pez blog is proud to announce the newly-formed Sobel Wiki at Since it's less than 24 hours old at this point, there are a grand total of five articles with actual content in them, and placeholders for 15 more. Hey, that just means there's more room to grow! I'll be adding more articles as time goes on, and hopefully some other Sobel fans will show up and join me.

Let the world tremble! The Sobel Wiki is online!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Most of all

What else are YouTube videos for than to embed in blogs? Here are The Black Keys performing "Tighten Up" during their appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman on May 25, 2010.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Job security

As more liberals call on President Obama to fire ex-Senator Alan Simpson from the Catfood Commission in the wake of Simpson's characterization of Social Security as "a milk cow with 310 million tits", the question in everyone's mind is: will it happen? Will the President fire Simpson?


Why not? Because Simpson is simply doing the job that President Obama hired him to do: make the case for cutting Social Security benefits. That's what Obama wants, and that's what Simpson is going to get him.

So, unless Andrew Breitbart releases a doctored videotape of Simpson, don't expect to see him get a pink slip from the President.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Astounding Online Index

For some time now, the good people at Project Gutenberg have been posting entire issues of Astounding Stories, one of the Gernsback Era pulp science fiction magazines, and the forerunner of today's Analog magazine. As each issue has gone up, I've added a link to it in my Astounding Stories Online sidebar, as a service to my hypothetical readers. They've currently got the entire first year of 1930, with the curious exception of the very first issue from January; they've also got 1931 up to July, except for the June issue.

But which issues contain which stories by which authors? It's all just so many undifferentiated links unless you've got an index. So, I've decided to add an index, with all the usual links, alphabetized by author, and then by story title. As each issue is posted, I'll be adding more stories until, presumably, the entire thirty-four issue run of the Clayton Astounding is available.

UPDATE: The June 1931 issue is now available.

UPDATE 2: The August 1931 issue is now available.

Astounding Stories Online

Harry Bates
"The Slave Ship from Space", July 1931

Harry Bates and Desmond W. Hall
"The Hands of Aten", July 1931
"The Tentacles from Below", February 1931

Miles J. Breuer, M.D.
"A Problem in Communication", September 1930

Arthur J. Burks
"Earth, the Marauder", July 1930, August 1930, September 1930
"Manape the Mighty", June 1931
"Monsters of Moyen", April 1930

Hugh B. Cave
"The Corpse on the Grating", February 1930
"The Murder Machine", September 1930

Ray Cummings
"Beyond the Vanishing Point", March 1931
"Brigands of the Moon", March 1930, April 1930, May 1930, June 1930
"The Exile of Time", April 1931, May 1931, June 1931, July 1931
"Jetta of the Lowlands", September 1930, October 1930, November 1930

Tom Curry
"From an Amber Block", July 1930
"Giants of the Ray", June 1930
"Hell's Dimension", April 1931
"The Soul Snatcher", April 1930

Charles Willard Diffin
"Brood of the Dark Moon", August 1931, September 1931, October 1931, November 1931
"Dark Moon", May 1931
"The Eye of Allah", January 1931
"Holocaust", June 1931
"The Moon Master", June 1930
"Out of the Dreadful Depths", June 1930
"The Pirate Planet", November 1930, December 1930, January 1931, February 1931
"The Power and the Glory", July 1930
"Spawn of the Stars", February 1930
"When the Mountain Came to Miramar", March 1931

Sophie Wenzel Ellis
"Creatures of the Light", February 1930
"Slaves of the Dust", December 1930

Paul Ernst
"Marooned Under the Sea", September 1930
"The World Behind the Moon", April 1931

Lloyd Arthur Eshbach
"The Gray Plague", November 1930

Ralph Milne Farley
"The Danger from the Deep", August 1931

Jackson Gee
"An Extra Man", October 1930

Anthony Gilmore
"Four Miles Within", April 1931

Desmond W. Hall
"Werewolves of War", February 1931

Edmond Hamilton
"Monsters of Mars", April 1931
"The Second Satellite", August 1930

Thomas H. Knight
"The Man Who Was Dead", April 1930

Murray Leinster
"The Fifth-Dimension Catapult", January 1931
"Murder Madness", May 1930, June 1930, July 1930, August 1930

Robert H. Leitfred
"Prisoners of the Electron", October 1930

A. T. Locke
"Vandals of the Stars", March 1930

Lilith Lorraine
"The Jovian Jest", May 1930

F. V. W. Mason
"Phalanxes of Atlans", February 1931, March 1931

S. P. Meek
"The Attack From Space", September 1930
"Beyond the Heaviside Layer", July 1930
"The Black Lamp", February 1931
"Cold Light", March 1930
"Into Space", February 1930
"The Ray of Madness", April 1930
"The Port of Missing Planes", August 1931
"The Sea Terror", December 1930
"Stolen Brains", October 1930
"The Thief of Time", February 1930
"When Caverns Yawned", May 1931

James P. Olsen
"The Cavern World", June 1930

Anthony Pelcher
"Mad Music", February 1930
"Vampires of Venus", April 1930

H. Thompson Rich
"The Diamond Thunderbolt", July 1931
"The Flying City", August 1930
"The Sunken Empire", January 1931

William Merriam Rouse
"The Destroyer", November 1930

Victor Rousseau
"The Atom-Smasher", May 1930
"The Beetle Horde", January 1930, February 1930
"The Invisible Death", October 1930
"The Lord of Space", August 1930
"The Wall of Death", November 1930

Will Smith and R. J. Robbins
"The Soul Master", March 1930

Nat Schachner and Arthur Leo Zagat
"The Death-Cloud", May 1931
"The Revolt of the Machines", July 1931

David R. Sparks
"The Ape-Men of Xlotli", December 1930

R. F. Starzl
"The Earthman's Burden", June 1931
"If the Sun Died", August 1931
"The Planet of Dread", August 1930

Harl Vincent
"Gray Denim", December 1930
"The Moon Weed", August 1931
"Old Crompton's Secret", February 1930
"Silver Dome", August 1930
"The Terror of Air-Level Six", July 1930
"Terrors Unseen", March 1931
"Vagabonds of Space", November 1930

Hal K. Wells
"The Gate to Xoran", January 1931
"When the Moon Turned Green", May 1931

Jack Williamson
"The Doom from Planet 4", July 1931
"The Lake of Light", April 1931
"The Meteor Girl", March 1931

H. G. Winter
"The Midget from the Island", August 1931

Sewell Peaslee Wright
"The Dark Side of Antri", January 1931
"The Forgotten Planet", July 1930
"From the Ocean's Depths", March 1930
"The Ghost World", April 1931
"Into the Ocean's Depths", May 1930
"The Man from 2071", June 1931
"The Terrible Tentacles of L-472", September 1930

Saturday, August 21, 2010

About those Muslims

Let's face facts. It's easy to see why people wouldn't want to see a mosque going up in their neighborhood, or indeed in anyone else neighborhood. After all, it was the Muslims who killed our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And it's well known that Muslims commonly kidnap and murder Christian children to use their blood in their secret rites. What's more, there's no way the America-hating liberals can deny the vast Muslim plot to take over the world when it's right there in black and white in the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Mecca.

So let's not pretend there aren't plenty of good reasons to be suspicious of the Muslims.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Dust to dust

My air conditioner has a sort of lint-trap thingie to filter dust out of the air it conditions. Of course, as the A/C runs, the dust builds up, and periodically has to be taken out of the unit and cleaned out. How to clean it out without getting built-up dust everywhere has been a problem, but I am proud to announce that it has only taken me ten years to come up with the answer: use the hose attachment on the vacuum cleaner to do it.

My friends, this is the sort of quick-thinking innovation that has made the Johnny Pez blog a power in the land.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

A moment aloft

In its effort to break new ground in the field of embedded music videos, the Johnny Pez blog now presents three, count 'em, three different videos for the Temper Trap's 2009 hit "Sweet Disposition".

Friday, August 6, 2010

Judicial review: a clue for the clueless

Since some members of the Right seem to be having trouble wrapping their minds around the concept of judicial review, here is a helpful primer, made as simple as possible in hopes of their being able to follow along if I don't use too many big words.

Let us suppose that the California GOP decided to nominate Box Turtle Ben Domenech to run for Barbara Boxer's Senate seat this year. Since Box Turtle Ben is only 28 years old, the GOP gets an initiative placed on the ballot lowering the age limit for the US Senate to 28, and the initiative passes.

The Democrats file a lawsuit alleging that the new law violates Article I Section 3 of the Constitution, which says that only people 30 and older can serve in the US Senate. The judge rules that the Democrats are right, and as a result the new law is overturned.

See how that works? It's the judge's job to rule on whether or not a law is consistent with the Constitution. And even though the voters of California voted to lower the Senate's age limit to 28, the Constitution takes precedence over state laws, so any state law that conflicts with the Constitution is invalid, no matter how many people voted for it, and that's how the judge has to rule.

I hope that clears the matter up.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The geezers are alright

Atrios expresses pleasant surprise that people who are considerably older than his own 38 are not stuck "in an endless nostalgia loop", listening to the same songs by the Doors, Fleetwood Mac, and the Eagles, over and over and over, and instead are getting their groove on over new bands like The Arcade Fire.

Speaking as someone who will be turning 48 next month and who has actually listened to The Arcade Fire on the radio, I'd like to share with my vast global blogging audience how I managed to avoid the nostalgia loop. Our story goes back to those vintage days of the 1970s when AOR stations like Philadelphia's WMMR and WYSP played a steady diet of Kinks, Doors, Grateful Dead, Pink Floyd, Steely Dan, Steve Miller Band . . . you know what I'm talking about. Going to high school in New Castle, Delaware, those were the stations I listened to, and the music I listened to.

Fast-forward to February 1992. I'm still in New Castle, still listening to AOR stations, and the Doors' "Break On Through" comes on, and it suddenly occurs to me that after fifteen years, including The Great Doors Revival of the early 80s, I'm sick of listening to the Doors. I want to listen to something new, dammit! So I go twirling through the radio dial, and I fetch up against WXPN, a college radio station playing alternative music. Throwing Muses! L7! Matthew Sweet! Now that's more like it! The only problem was that I couldn't always pick up WXPN on the radio, but that ceased to be a problem when WIBF started simulcasting New York's WDRE in November. I even managed to attend a concert in Newark headlined by Belly (opening band: Radiohead).

All was bliss until WDRE Philadelphia was bought out in December 1996, switching over to a hiphop format on February 8, 1997. Three days later, I moved to Newport, Rhode Island, where I now listen to WBRU.

I've never voluntarily listened to the Doors again.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


So, like, I'm Googling "Johnny Pez" because this blog is always the top hit and that makes it easy for me to find it on the toobz, and I've just typed in the P and sweet merciful crap, there it is in the drop down list! OMG!! OMFG!!!!

That's it, folks, I now have direct confirmation from The Great Gazoogle itself that I am a Big Fucking Deal!

I am a golden god!!!!!