Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sobel Wiki: Incidental expenses

Right now, I'm the driving force behind the Sobel Wiki. My fellow For All Nails contributor David Mix Barrington has done a lot of work, especially in creating the FAN archive, and a few other Sobel fans have appeared from time to time to help out, but it's mainly been me. As a result, I'm the one who gets to decide which article should be featured each week.

How do I decide? One way is to open my battered copy of For Want of a Nail to a random page and create an article from something there, and that article often becomes the week's featured article. For example, last month I opened the book to pages 116-117, which tells of Miguel Huddleston's second run for President of the United States of Mexico in 1839. That led me to turn the article on Huddleston from a stub to a comprehensive article, and it became the featured article. Last week, I opened the book to pages 356-357, which talks about changing public opinion about the Global War in the Confederation of North America, and Governor-General Bruce Hogg's decision to provide covert military aid to the British. The result was an expansion of the article on the Global War, which then became the featured article.

Well, yesterday morning, I opened up the book to pages 308-309, which discusses the debate on slavery in the U.S.M. that followed the Chapultepec Incident of 4 January 1916, and includes a lengthy excerpt from a scholar named Theodore Holmes on the state of race relations in the country. This time, the result was an article on Victoriano Consalus, the Mexican president who created Holmes' commission, and wound up rejecting its findings.

I've found that having a featured article every week acts as a spur. I see all the dead links in the article that cry out to be turned into articles of their own, and I can't resist doing so. The Global War featured article gave rise to several subsidiary articles on South Pacific islands that were fought over by the Mexicans and the Japanese, and on terramobiles, the Sobel Timeline's version of the tank. I can already hear cries from several dead links in the Consalus article . . .

DBTL α: Greeks Bearing Gifts

This is the latest installment of the Drowned Baby Timeline, an alternate history where Adolf Hitler drowned at birth. With no spellbinding demagogue to unite them, Germany's radical right remains divided among several mutually hostile groups. In October 1932, ex-Army Captain Ernst Röhm, the leader of Germany's right-wing street fighters, siezes power in a coup d'etat. The fall of democracy in Germany sends ripples spreading throughout Europe . . .

Today's post was written by Demetrios Rammos, who has kindly consented to bring his wealth of knowledge of modern Greek history to add some much-needed verisimilitude to this timeline. So, without further ado, the Johnny Pez blog proudly presents:

Greeks Bearing Gifts
by Demetrios Rammos

Greek Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos.
 Athens, Greece
5 March 1933

The election results were still being announced, but it seemed clear to Prime Minister Eleftherios Venizelos that his Liberal Party and its allies were losing to Tsaldaris' Populist Party. As he glanced up from the telegrams littering his desk, memories of the catastrophes that had followed the Populist victory in 1920 were fresh in his mind, and he felt every day of his 69 years. Although the stakes were not as high now as they had been then, the situation was still serious. Since its establishment in 1924, Greece's Republic had been fragile one. Since his return to power in 1928, Venizelos had done what he could to bring stability to the country, and for a few years he had succeeded. Unfortunately, in the wake of the Great Depression, things were coming unraveled. A deadlocked election had led to months of uncertainty, with governments following each other in rapid succession. Now, a new set of elections looked likely to give the Populists undisputed control of the country.

Tsaldaris' victory wasn't so bad in itself; although a royalist, Tsaldaris was a moderate man. But with Tsaldaris would come his allies Metaxas and, ironically, George Kondylis, and Venizelos knew they represented a danger to the Republic. Now that war clouds were gathering over Europe again, Greece had to be prepared and the last thing it needed was to have a king forced upon it again.

There was a knock at the door of his office, and General Nikolaos Plastiras entered, his peaked cap under his arm. As was his habit, he saluted, then came right to the point. "Mr. Prime Minister, I come for your advice."

Venizelos suspected what was coming, but he simply answered, "Yes?"

"It appears the democratic parties are losing the election."

Venizelos nodded. "That is unfortunately true."

Already ramrod straight, Plastiras somehow managed to stand even straighter. "So I came to ask you about launching a coup, to safeguard the democratic institutions from a restoration."

"You shall not."

Plastiras blinked in confusion. "Prime Minister?"

"Look at what happened to Germany last year, General."

"I have, Prime Minister. That is what I hope to avoid."

The Prime Minister was shaking his head. "You won't avoid this by
overthrowing a government by force of arms. Even a narrowly elected one."

The General's tone was resolute. "I am afraid, Prime Minister, that neither Kondylis nor Metaxas will be as circumspect with democratic institutions as you want us to be. There will be a coup; the only question is who will be leading it."

"There, General, you are correct. But now is not the time. A coup now, especially a coup without the slightest preparation behind it, would be worse than useless. The chance of success would be small, and the cost of failure would be great. So I most strongly advise you to do nothing against the newly elected government."

Although the General's face revealed nothing, Venizelos could sense his disappointment. "Very well, Prime Minister."

"General, there is an expression you may be familiar with. 'Give a man enough rope to hang himself with.' We will let Mr. Tsaldaris and his allies have their rope. After that, what will happen, will happen."

Athens, Greece
31 December 1934

Nearly two years had passed under the Populists. And throughout those two years the royalists had steadily prepared for the restoration of the monarchy, removing republicans from key positions in the police and the army, and replacing them with their own men. The royalist press didn't even bothering to disguise their plans. As they put it, Tsaldaris' government was a regime that couldn't be overthrown by constitutional means.

However, while the royalist coup was being prepared in the open, the republican coup was being prepared in secret. It was only a question of which side would be faster. Venizelos, back in his native Crete, watched as the Brownshirt regime in Germany tore up the Versailles treaty and began re-arming while the Western powers did nothing. There was another European war coming closer with each day, and Greece had to be ready for it.

Kondylis was set to remove Generals Plastiras and Mannetas from their commands with the new year. This proved to be an inspired bit of timing, because nobody was expected a coup on New Year's Eve.

Athens, Greece
20 July 1935

After the republicans seized power, Venizelos asked for 6 months to institute the reforms he considered necessary to stabilize the Republic. Afterward, he would retire, and a provisional government would hold elections three weeks later. He had kept his word. The amended constitution effectively turned Greece to a presidential republic similar to the American model. [1] With war looming ever larger in Europe, Venizelos had increased armaments production, which had had the happy side effect of pulling the Greek economy out of the Great Depression. Afterwards he had left Michalacopoulos, an acceptable figure for both the republicans and the royalists, to conduct the elections. The Liberals had won more narrowly than he'd have liked, but they won. Which now made the old Cretan President of the Republic.

Athens, Greece
1 June 1936

Sir Sydney Waterloo, His Majesty's ambassador to the Republic of Greece, looked at President Venizelos in surprise. "Let me see if I understand you, Mr. President. You're asking me to transmit to my government the offer of a declaration of war against Germany on the part of Greece?"

Venizelos smiled. "Exactly. Should your government accept, Greece is prepared to send a 3 division expeditionary force to Poland immediately, and dispatch the Greek light fleet in support of the Allied blockade of Germany. Of course, the Greek merchant marine, as well as the port of Thessaloniki, [1] will be placed at the service of the alliance as well. And I am hopeful that the other Balkan League members may well follow our lead. I certainly hope to persuade King Alexander and the Romanian government to do so."

Sir Sydney nodded. "And in exchange?"

"Twenty-four years ago, your government offered Greece a union with Cyprus in exchange for naval facilities. That offer was renewed in 1916. I feel that the time is ripe for another renewal of that offer. Back in 1864, your government allowed the Ionian Islands to join Greece. Extending the same generous gesture to the people of Cyprus would put the Greek nation in your debt."


[1] A modern observer from our own timeline would consider the new Greek government to be closer to that of the Fifth French Republic than the United States of America, but of course that comparison would not occur to any of the participants.

[2] The latter was considered by the Little Entente to be one of their main supply routes in the 1920s.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sobel Wiki: the road not taken

This week's featured article at the Sobel Wiki is on the Global War, a worldwide conflict that consumed the Sobel Timeline from 1939 to 1948. The Global War was emphatically not a thinly-veiled retelling of our own timeline's Second World War. Rather than being started by a power-hungry dictator with dreams of global conquest, the Global War was sparked by a conflict between two imperial powers over control of natural resources in a peripheral area. In fact, as far as we can tell from Sobel's descriptions, all of the major powers that fought in the Global War had democratically-elected governments. Sobel even describes how three of the participating nations essentially voted for war by electing pro-war governments.

Of equal interest from an alternate-history viewpoint is the fact that the Confederation of North America, one of the Sobel Timeline's two analogues of our own U.S.A., remained neutral throughout the Global War. This is one of several instances where Sobel took an event from our world and had an analogous event in For Want of a Nail go the other way. Most obviously is the book's point-of-departure from our own history, when the American Revolution ends in a British victory and the thirteen colonies return to British rule. Next is 1789, when the incipient French Revolution is put down by the royalists, the French Revolutionary Wars never take place, and the ancien regime remains in power for another 90 years.

The Rocky Mountain War of the 1840s between the C.N.A. and Mexico does not end in a smashing victory for the C.N.A. Instead, Mexico succeeds in defeating a series of attacks by the North Americans, and suffers only a minor loss of territory in the subsequent peace negotiations. In the 1880s, Sobel's version of the Populist Party succeeds in displacing one of the two major parties in the C.N.A. And in 1914, a war between Mexico and France ends in a quick Mexican victory, and as far as we are told, no other nations are drawn into the war.

The Global War continues Sobel's habit of reversing the outcome of our world's events. Instead of a decisive victory for one side or the other, the Globel War ends in an exhausted stalemate, with hundreds of millions of people dead and most of the world in ruins.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Sobel Wiki: Maiden Taiwan

This week's featured article on the Sobel Wiki concerns the island nation of Taiwan.

When the Sobel Timeline branched off from our own in 1777, Taiwan was a province of the Chinese Empire. By the 1930s in both timelines, Taiwan had become a Japanese possession. In our world, Japan annexed Taiwan in 1895 after defeating the Chinese in the First Sino-Japanese War. Sobel does not say how Japan acquired Taiwan in For Want of a Nail, but it was presumably done the same way.

In our history, Taiwan was restored to Chinese control after the defeat of Japan in 1945, but in the Sobel Timeline, things aren't nearly so clear-cut. In the Sobel Timeline's analogue to World War II, Japan and China were allies, fighting off invasion attempts by the United States of Mexico and Siberia. Japan was also informally allied with Kramer Associates, the Sobel Timeline's One Big Zaibatsu. As Sobel records, K.A. spent £20 billion subsidizing China's war against the U.S.M. and Siberia, and an equivalent amount in the rest of the Pacific region (i.e. Japan and Australia). Sobel also states that K.A. President John Jackson "had taken Taiwan in 1948," though he doesn't explain how he took it, or who he took it from. It may be that Jackson pressured the Japanese to sell Taiwan to K.A. as compensation for the company's financial support. In any case, the following year, Jackson's successor made Taiwan the company's headquarters, and ordered its industrialization. By the late 1950s, according to published statistics, Taiwan's growth rate reached the twelve percent per annum level.

The price for this phenomenal economic growth is that Taiwan's government is under the control of a world-bestriding corporation. The alt-Sobel who wrote For Want of a Nail in the Sobel Timeline, who has become a Kramer Associates flack, thinks this is a good thing. Those of us who find ourselves living under the control of too-big-to-fail corporations in the real world have reason to know better.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sobel Wiki: endless long hot summer

This week's featured article on the Sobel Wiki is on Howard Washburne, the founder of "Friends of Black Mexico" and the "League for Brotherhood". In For Want of a Nail, the slaves in the Southern states were freed almost painlessly in the early 1840s, and as they left the plantations many of them emigrated across the Mississippi to the southern half of OTL's Louisiana Purchase, known in the Sobel Timeline as the Confederation of Vandalia. The presence of so many black settlers into an area that until then had been almost uniformly white created a lot of friction, and even violence. The solution was to separate Vandalia into two states along the 40th parallel (the OTL border between Kansas and Nebraska) in 1877. The newly-created state had a population of about three million, two thirds of them black. By the turn of the 20th century, most of the white inhabitants had left, and a significant minority of Southern Vandalia's population was made up of runaway slaves from the Mexican state of Jefferson, which was just across the Arkansas River.

Needless to say, this was bound to create hostility between the Southern Vandalians and the Mexicans, and that only got worse when the Mexican government put some 8,000 slaves on trial for treason after they joined an invading French army in 1914. Howard Washburne was the Governor of Southern Vandalia at the time, and in February 1915 he publicly called for an end to the treason trials and the abolition of slavery in Mexico, and formed the Friends of Black Mexico to advance those aims. On January 4, 1916, the day before the verdict was due to be handed down, 2,000 F.B.M. members stormed the prison where the slaves were being held, and freed them, at a cost of over 1100 dead and 4000 injured.

Slavery was finally abolished in Mexico on May 14, 1920, and Washburne responded by transforming the F.B.M. into the League for Brotherhood, dedicated to ending racial discrimination in Washburne's own Confederation of North America. The L.B. attracted reformers and radicals who had other agendas, and in the summer of 1922 general dissatisfaction with society in the C.N.A. led to major riots and demonstrations, which Sobel called the worst since the 1880s.

Sobel wrote For Want of a Nail in the summer of 1971, towards the end of a period that had seen the United States wracked by race riots and mass demonstrations, and the book reflects this. Sobel's C.N.A. suffered periodic bouts of widespread political violence: during a severe economic crisis in the 1880s, the country was "plagued by looters, rioters, and the like"; in 1899 a two-week spasm of political violence known as the Starkist terror resulted in 436 deaths, 13,000 injuries, and almost a billion North American pounds in property damage; and, as mentioned above, the summer of 1922 saw "major riots and demonstrations . . . the worst since the 1880's" (i.e. worse than the hundreds killed and thousands injured in 1899).

The solution to the troubles of 1922, incidentally, was offered by a Sobel Timeline analogue of Henry Ford named Owen Galloway, who was able to calm the troubled waters by subsidizing mass emigration from the C.N.A.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Sobel Wiki: One Big Zaibatsu

It's a little like Japan. Japan, before World War Two, had four and only four large zaibatsus, enormous conglomerates of interlocked companies, banks, and what have you.

In the United States of Mexico, there was One Big Zaibatsu that has practically run the country. I use that word 'practically' exactly, since they can and do force out Mexican leaders in Sobel's account. . . .

Historically, it's as if one company got very lucky in the robber baron corporate sweepstakes: banking, railroads, oil, steel, tropical fruit, and so on, all originally funded with gold rush money.

Then, since the nation in which they were mainly based took exception to having One Big Zaibatsu run everything, they gradually shifted their center of operations: from San Francisco to Hawaii to Manila to Taiwan.
This is Carlos Yu's description of Kramer Associates, the One Big Zaibatsu of For Want of a Nail. As Sobel notes in the book's final chapter, by the early 1970s Kramer Associates has reached the point where it controls almost one-sixth of the world's resources. Yet, until recently, the Sobel Wiki article on this corporate behemoth was a mere stub.

But no more. A week's moderately diligent effort on my part has expanded that stub into a comprehensive account of the rise and, well, further rise of Kramer Associates, which has earned it a place on the main page as this week's featured article.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Impeachment poll update

Earlier in the month, I launched the Johnny Pez Obama impeachment poll, in which I asked this blog's multitudinous readers which alleged high crime and misdemeanor the House Republicans would cite when they impeached President Obama at some point during his second term. So far, the poll has garnered ten votes (which is about ten more than I thought it would get).

Reader solnushka pointed out that the poll ought to have an "all of the above" option, and I did promise to update the options as time went on, but, alas, it is not to be. It turns out that once people have started casting votes, Blogger won't let you change the options. So if the Republicans gin up some new scandal and impeach Obama for that, the "something else" option is going to get a workout.

Recent attempts by Republicans to block Susan Rice from becoming the next Secretary of State as part of their general Benghazi attack conspiracy theory indicate that Benghazi is still the frontrunning excuse for impeaching the president, and the Johnny Pez poll reflects that, with 40% of respondents choosing the Benghazi attack.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

You don't have to go home

It's time for another embedded music video here at the Johnny Pez blog. Today it's Semisonic with their 1999 hit "Closing Time".

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sobel Wiki: USM! USM! USM!

Work on the Sobel Wiki continues apace. This week's featured article is on Miguel Huddleston, the second President of the United States of Mexico. You can tell that alt-Sobel likes Huddleston and wants to say nice things about him, but he's hindered by the fact that Huddleston didn't actually accomplish very much. The sections of For Want of a Nail dealing with Huddleston can be read as Sobel's satire on historians letting their own emotional reactions to historical figures color their accounts.

Also up are several new articles on the Mexican Congress, the city of Palenque, and Russia.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sobel Vexillology 2: Electric Boogaloo

A couple months back, in a fit of Sobel Wiki-inspired madness, I created a blog post in which I speculated on what sort of national flags the United States of Mexico and the Confederation of North America might have wound up with. I came to the conclusion that after the American bid for independence failed, the British colonies would return to the pre-rebellion practice of flying the British Red Ensign:

This would continue until the drafting of the Second Britannic Design in 1842, at which time a wave of North American nationalism would lead to the adoption of a Coat of Arms for the C.N.A., and of a version of the Red Ensign incorporating that coat of arms, in much the way that Canada did in our own history after the confederation of 1867. In my original post, I didn't go to the trouble of creating a hypothetical C.N.A. Coat of Arms, since I was hoping one of my more vexillology-oriented readers would be inspired to do so. Two months later, that hasn't happened, so I've decided to take matters into my own hands. Hence, my own version of the C.N.A. flag:

The Coat of Arms consists, working clockwise from the upper left, of a bison representing Vandalia, a fleur-de-lis representing Quebec, a ship representing the Northern Confederation and Indiana, and two sheafs of wheat representing the Southern Confederation and Manitoba.

This raises the question of what happens to the North American flag and Coat of Arms after Quebec devolves to associated status in 1889. One answer is that the fleur-de-lis is replaced by a new symbol, like so:

In the upper right quadrant of the Coat of Arms are two plows representing Southern Vandalia, while the bison in the upper left quadrant now represents Northern Vandalia. But there's another possible answer.

The devolution of Quebec was the result of a plebiscite held by a radical new political party, the People's Coalition. Sobel indicates more than once the Coalition's ties with the rebellion of the 1770s: the original founders of the Coalition in the Southern Confederation had called their platform the Norfolk Resolves in a deliberate echo of the Suffolk Resolves of 1775; and the Coalition held its 1883 national convention in Boston, something Sobel suggests was meant to indicate their relationship with the rebels of the 1770s.

After gaining power in 1888, the Coalition under its leader Ezra Gallivan sought to distance the C.N.A. from Great Britain, and it might well be that part of that effort was the adoption of a new national flag omitting the Union Jack. What would such a Coalition-inspired flag look like? Well, given the new party's ties to the rebels of 1775, you might get something like this:

It's not the Stars and Stripes of the North American Rebellion, but the echoes are unmistakeable, which is what you would expect of Gallivan, a member of the Coalition's moderate wing, but a confirmed isolationist nonetheless.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sobel Wiki: Siberian exile

Another area of the Sobel Timeline has come into focus at the Sobel Wiki, with articles on the Republic of Siberia, the three Siberian heads of government that Sobel mentions, and five Siberian cities. Also up on the main page is this week's featured article on the 1963 Grand Council elections.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Sofia Vergara is stalking me

She follows me everywhere I go, peering at me from above her can of Diet Pepsi.  She pretends to look away when I turn to face her, but I know that as soon as I turn away, she'll be watching me again.  Watching . . . always watching!  The woman is a menace!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Johnny Pez Obama impeachment poll

Some time in the next few months, the members of the just-elected House Republican caucus will meet to decide a question: what should they charge Obama with when they impeach him?  Because this is the logical next step in the Republican thought process.  They've learned that their attempt to demonize Obama as unAmerican was unsuccessful, or at least not successful enough to cost Obama a second term.  As we learned during the Clinton administration, impeachment is the next step.  So, what will they charge him with?

The current favorite wingnut conspiracy theory says that Obama did something-or-other-that-was-scandalous involving the Libyan militia attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, and there are currently two groups of crazy House Republicans "investigating" it.  Right now, this looks like the best bet for an impeachment hearing.

Of course, there's also Solyndra Energy, a company that manufactured solar power panels that got a $535 million loan from the Department of Energy in 2009, then went bankrupt a year and a half later.  The GOP spent a couple of weeks in September 2011 trying to turn this into a scandal, but at the time it didn't gain any traction.  If the Benghazi attack investigations don't go anywhere, the GOP might try to revive this old nontroversy as a reason to impeach the President.

And of course, there's always one of the old Birther conspiracy theories available if nothing else will do.  Or maybe the GOP will manufacture a completely new scandal for impeachment purposes.

So at long last, the Johnny Pez blog is taking advantage of Blogger's poll widget, and the question for our hypothetical blogging audience is: what will the House Republicans charge Obama with when they vote to impeach him?  The poll is over on the right sidebar just below my iconic basenji, and voting will remain open until A) House Republicans actually hold their impeachment vote, or B) Obama leaves the White House.  If the GOP manufactures a new scandal in the meantime, the poll questions will change to reflect the fact.

UPDATE: an end-of-the-month update on the state of the poll is here.

UPDATE 2: an end-of-the-year update with extra added Benghazi is here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sobel Wiki: bells & whistles

For the last two years, I've been content to focus on adding content to the Sobel Wiki, because a wiki ultimately stands or falls on the quality and quantity of its content.  However, now that there are over 1900 pages, it's time to move beyond the basics and start trying to attract some notice.

Along with the standard introductory material, the main page of the Sobel Wiki now includes a Featured Article, links to the most important categories, a list of newly-created pages, and reciprocal links to four other alternate history wikis.  In addition, the Sobel Wiki has been added to Wikia's list of Promoted wikis, where it now joins the ranks of such illustrious popular entertainment wikis as Wookieepedia, Scoobypedia, and the Sailor Moon Wiki.  Of course, the price of Promotion is that the Sobel Wiki now has advertising embedded in it, but such is fame.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dog walk: 11/4/12

The Basenjimobile was low on gas this morning, so I decided to go gas it up at the local Giant Eagle supermarket.  And since I have to take the dogs for their morning walk anyway, I decided to kill two orcs with one arrow and bring the dogs along.  Happily, there's a public park on the way to the Giant Eagle called Fairhaven Park in Kennedy Township, so I could stop there on the way to the supermarket and let the dogs have their walk.

During the early part of the walk, I heard the amplified sound someone singing off in the distance, and faint though it was, it didn't take me long to recognize the song as "The Star-Spangled Banner."  And it was like the past was reaching forward to tap me on the shoulder.

Back in Newport, I would usually get home from work around 7:15 in the morning, and then immediately take the dogs for a quick drive to the municipal dog park.  As it happens, the dog park is less than half a mile from the U.S. Naval War College, and my visits there would often coincide with morning reveille, which included an instrumental version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" played over the base's loudspeakers, and which were quite audible from the dog park.  So, for a brief moment, I was back in Newport, watching the sun rise over JT Connell Highway while the basenjis and I listened to the national anthem playing in the distance.

The nailbiter that wasn't

Paul Krugman notes the misleading banner headline from Saturday's Financial Times: "US election hangs on a knife edge", when in fact, as Nate Silver and the other numbers wonks say, Obama is clearly ahead.  This is part of a larger trend within the American media establishment of insisting that the presidential race is closer than it is.  Krugman does not ask why this is happening, so I think I'll ask.  And then answer.

Why is the media establishment insisting that the race is a toss-up when it clearly isn't?  Because it's in their financial interest to do so.  After all, a media corporation is still a corporation, which means its only goal is to make a profit by any means necessary.  And a close presidential race is more profitable for the media than a not-so-close race, or even worse, a blowout, because, a close race attracts more eyeballs than a blowout, and more eyeballs means higher rates for advertising.  (There's also the fact that both campaigns will pay more money to the media to run their political ads if the race is close than they will if it's a foregone conclusion, but presumably the campaigns know perfectly well how close the race is, so they won't let their ad budgets be influenced by inaccurate reporting.)

"But," you say, "surely you don't think that the objective journalists would intentionally distort the nature of the race just because their bosses tell them to.  Surely they aren't that corrupt!"

What I think is that when you take someone's money, you have to do what they tell you to do, and that includes accepting a salary from a media conglomerate and reporting what they tell you to report.  In other words, yes, they are that corrupt.

And don't call me Shirley.

UPDATE 11/10/12: I'm going to have to revise part of my post above.  According to CBS News, the Romney campaign apparently didn't know how close the race was.  They deliberately skewed their own internal polls to make it look like they had a better chance of winning.  So, I stand corrected.  The media can make more money by convincing election campaigns that it's worthwhile spending more on campaign ads.  Good to know.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dog walk: 10/30/12

As I've noted  before, the basenjis are not enthusiastic about being walked in the rain (and for that matter, I'm not enthusiastic about walking them in the rain).  So when it comes to walking them during a hurricane, unenthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe it.  I thought I was done dealing with hurricanes when I left Newport, Rhode Island, but that turns out not to be the case, because Hurrican Sandy is due to make landfall in New Jersey today and crash through the Allegheny Mountains to drench Pittsburgh.

The rain is already here, so I decided to take the dogs to the Riverview Park dog park, which is the most businesslike of our usual haunts.  Since my current assignment from the temp agency involves working the 8 AM to 4 PM shift at a candy factory, I get up at six in the morning to give the dogs their first walk of the day.  6:20 found the three of us walking through the still-dark grounds surrounding the Allegheny Observatory.  We had circumnavigated the observatory, and were on our way back to the car, with me carrying a plastic shopping bag weighted down slightly with Klea's poop, when Louis' rain-slick leash slipped out of my cold-numbed hand, and he was instantly racing downhill towards the line of trees that marked the really steep part of the hill.

Clutching Klea's leash in one hand and the plastic bag in the other, I raced down the hill after him.  Klea was even more anxious to race downhill than I was, and she pulled me off balance, resulting in me falling on my back.  I got up, and with Klea still tugging at her leash, I made my way more slowly to the line of trees.

I stood calling for Louis, scanning downhill through the trees for any sign of him.  I saw a couple of shapes moving in the night, and recognized them as deer, which explained why Louis had taken off in the first place.  One horrible possibility I imagined was Louis chasing the deer through the park all morning, and me missing hours of work while looking for him.  An even more horrible possibility was the leash getting caught around a tree and Louis being unable to move, lost from sight.

I slowly paced along the belt of trees, calling and calling, and after an unbearably anxious couple of minutes, I heard a faint jingling coming from my left.  I turned, and was just able to make out Louis standing just outside the belt of trees.  I walked over, and operating mostly by touch, was able to confirm that he was still in his collar, and that his leash was still attached to it, trailing along the ground underneath him.  I got ahold of the leash's handle, and started leading the two dogs back up the hill to the observatory's access road, as happy as a man can be whose feet and back are soaking wet, which turns out to be pretty happy.

"Louis", I said to the basenji, "I'm going to assume that you took care of your business while you were out there, and bring you straight to the car."  But I was wrong.  Halfway up the hill, Louis paused and did his Looking For Just The Right Place To Poop routine.  I still had the plastic shopping bag, and in moments I had cleaned up Louis' poop.  We continued up the hill, got into the car, and drove home.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Sobel Wiki: we are from France

You may have thought that you were done hearing about the Sobel Wiki after I finished posting the last of the For All Nails vignettes.  If so, then you thought wrong, because there's still plenty of work to be done on the wiki, and I mean to do it (alone if necessary), and what's more, I mean to inflict news of my progress on my hypothetical blogging audience.

This weekend has been a busy one, with a total of eight new articles now up at the Sobel Wiki.  First and foremost is an article on France, which has had a rather unhappy history in the Sobel Timeline.  I personally think this was Robert Sobel's way of getting back at Charles de Gaulle for being uppity in the 1960s.  There are also brief articles on 19th century French businessman Maurice Duforge and his Jeffersonian partner Jethro Baker,* and more substantial articles on King Louis XVI and his son and successor Louis XVII.  Finally, there are articles on the last Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, on the Viceroyalty of New Spain's Province of Tejas, and a brief article on the brief existence of the United States of America.

*Did Sobel name him after Jethro Bodine?  It would be irresponsible not to speculate!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The conservative moral inversion

The conservative moral inversion can be summed up very simply:

1. Helping people is bad.
2. Making people suffer is good.

The roots of the conservative moral inversion go back to the 1960s, when white racists found their tax dollars being spent helping to lift black people out of poverty.  In order to prevent this from continuing, conservatives invented the "culture of dependency", the idea that helping people was actually bad for them.  It stood to reason, then, that if helping people was bad, then making people suffer, for instance by cutting social programs, was good.  And if cutting social programs was a good thing, then there was no need to pay taxes to support them, which was the whole point of the exercise.

The conservative moral inversion is no longer an excuse for white people to allow black people to remain poor.  It has expanded from its racist origins, and is now the conventional wisdom among political and media elites pretty much throughout the entire industrialized world, where its proponents are known as the Pain Caucus, or the austerians.  Reducing help for the needy (or, as Saint Ronald of Santa Barbara memorably put it, the "truly needy") has become an end in itself.  That's why the Europeans are determined to reduce countries like Greece and Spain to economic basket cases, and why President Obama has been determined to cut Social Security benefits pretty much from the day he entered office.

Monday, October 1, 2012

FAN #305: "The King's Justice" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, the last remaining For All Nails vignettes have been posted.* First is #298: "Love Story" by Jonathan Edelstein, his last FAN vignette before posting #306: "Domestic Scene" on 16 January 2011.  "Love Story" is, well, a love story set in Numidia, a majority-Jewish state occupying the site of our own world's Libya.  Sobel briefly mentions that hundreds of thousands of Russian peasants, many of them Jews, crossed into the Ottoman Empire in the chaos of the 1880s, and that some eventually found their way to North Africa, where a large Russian community was formed by the turn of the century.  Jonathan turned this odd reference in Sobel, and an even briefer throwaway reference in M.G. Alderman's #21B: "... And Met With My Downfall", into the nation of Numidia.

Next is my own #305: "The King's Justice", a sequel to #303: "Buque Nights", that resolved the latter's cliffhanger ending and (possibly) the most important hanging plot thread from the For All Nails narrative: the fate of former Mexican Secretary of War Vincent Mercator.

"Love Story" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 7 February 2005.  "The King's Justice" was never posted to shw-i, but was posted to this blog on 10 January 2011.  At the blog post, you will also find the vignette's original ending, and the comment by Noel Maurer that persuaded me to change it.

And thus concludes my quixotic project to create a complete online For All Nails archive after, good heavens, five months of steady work.  If anyone out there has actually been following this fit of madness, you have in equal measure my thanks and my pity.  Just in case anyone is worried about suffering from Sobel withdrawal, I remind you that the larger Sobel Wiki remains a work-in-progress, and will continue to be so, I daresay, for the indefinite future.  Meanwhile, the Johnny Pez blog will resume its former status as a repository for basenji anecdotesprophetic utterances, left-wing rants, and the occasional embedded music video.

*Sharp-eyed observers of the For All Nails archive page will notice that there are still two dead links in the archive.  These are #125: "I, Mercator (Part 4)" and #242: "Brothers", both by Carlos Yu, both unfinished and likely to remain so.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

FAN #303: "Buque Nights" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with articles on Egypt and Ghana, are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #297: "Jerusalem Folly", the last vignette by FAN maestro Noel Maurer, and a companion piece to #296: "Red Sea Morning".  Next is my own #303: "Buque Nights", another visit with King Fernando and Queen Sophia of New Granada, in February 1981.

"Jerusalem Folly" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 23 September 2004, and "Buque Nights" on 30 November 2010.  "Buque Nights" was also posted to this blog on the same date.

Go slow

As we approach the finish line of the For All Nails vignettes, it's time to pause for another embedded music video.  Today the Johnny Pez blog presents "Crystalised" by The xx.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

FAN #302: "Legal Challenge" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with an article on Philip Halliwell, are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #296: "Red Sea Morning" by Jonathan Edelstein, a sequel to Jonathan's #251: "The Armenian Quarter", and also a sequel to Noel Maurer's #280: "Sallah Bread".  Next is my own #302: "Legal Challenge", the first new For All Nails vignette to be written in five years.

"Red Sea Morning" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 23 September 2004, and "Legal Challenge" on 12 September 2010.  "Legal Challenge" was also posted on this blog on 11 September 2010.

Friday, September 28, 2012

FAN #299: "Patience" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #291: "The Packer" by Jonathan Edelstein, in which a German smuggler finds himself in the North African nation of Numidia in August 1980.  Next is my own #299: "Patience", a sequel to Noel Maurer's #277C: "Handover", featuring King Fernando and Queen Sophia of New Granada.

"The Packer" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 29 March 2004, and "Patience" on 16 February 2005.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

FAN #293: "I Will Make You Hurt" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First, from January 1980, is #290: "Joining Up is Hard to Do" by Jonathan Edelstein, in which Queen Alexandra of the Cape pays a call on the High Commissioner of the European Union.  Next, from July 1978, is my own #293: "I Will Make You Hurt", a sequel to #292: "I Will Let You Down".

"Joining Up is Hard to Do" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 19 March 2004, and "I Will Make You Hurt" on 23 April 2004.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FAN #292: "I Will Let You Down" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #289: "Attending Union College" by Noel Maurer, a sequel to yesterday's #282: "My Empire of Dirt".  Next is my own #292: "I Will Let You Down", a sequel to Noel's sequel.

"Attending Union College" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 10 March 2004, and "I Will Let You Down" on 1 April 2004.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

FAN #282: "My Empire of Dirt" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #282: "My Empire of Dirt" by yours truly, in which King Frederick of Poland finds his new job as Chief Executive of the European Union a trying one.  Next is #283: "Ségou is Worth a Mosque" by Jonathan Edelstein, a historical FAN vignette from 1912.

"My Empire of Dirt" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 3 February 2004, and "Ségou is Worth a Mosque" on 10 February 2004.

Monday, September 24, 2012

FAN #280: "Sallah Bread" by Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with an article on the Victoria Canal, are two For All Nails vignettes.  First is #280: "Sallah Bread" by Noel Maurer, in which Sebo Quezadas, now with Mexican Naval Intelligence, reports on an imminent war between Egypt and Arabia in June 1981.  This was the last FAN vignette to feature Noel's author avatar.  Next is #287: "Palace Full of Fantasy" by Mike Keating, the final vignette in Mike's series on the Samuel Adams Brotherhood.  You can tell we're getting near the end, can't you?

"Sallah Bread" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 30 January 2004, and "Palace Full of Fantasy" on 10 March 2004.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FAN #277C: "Handover" by Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with articles on San Antonio and the National Financial Administration, are two For All Nails vignettes.  First is #277C: "Handover" by Noel Maurer, the final installment of Private Nabo and Operation Cold Phoenix.  Next is #286: "You Say You Want a Revolution" by Mike Keating, the continuing story of the Samuel Adams Brotherhood.

"Handover" was first posted as the final section of "Waging Peace" on the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 8 January 2004, and "You Say You Want a Revolution" on 9 March 2004.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

FAN #277B: "Waging Peace" by Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with an article on Bogotá, are two more* For All Nails vignettes.  First is #277B: "Waging Peace" by Noel Maurer, continuing the story of Private Nabo of the Mexican Army.  Next is #285: "Death of a Governor-General" by David Mix Barrington and myself, looking at the aftermath of an airmobile crash in the C.N.A. in October 1977.

"Waging Peace" was the second section of a vignette that first appeared under that name on the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 8 January 2004, and "Death of a Governor-General" on 8 March 2004.

Friday, September 21, 2012

FAN #277A: "Military History" by Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  Or rather, to be more accurate, one and a third more For All Nails vignettes.  Noel wrote a sequel to #274: "A Call to Barms", and it was even longer than the epic "Easter Rising" -- and that was a collaboration between three people.  I decided that Noel's original vignette, #277: "Waging Peace", was just too bloody long.  So, by the power vested in me as lord and master of the Sobel Wiki, I've broken it up into three sections.  Up today is the first section, #277A: "Military History", in which Private Nabo is assigned to read captured British documents in February 1978.

Also up is #284: "And This Bird You'll Never Tame" by David Mix Barrington, a look at C.N.A. politics heading into the 1978 Grand Council elections.

"Military History" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup as the first section of "Waging Peace" on 8 January 2004, and "And This Bird You'll Never Tame" on 26 February 2004.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

FAN #274: "A Call to Barms" by Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are three more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #270: "O Joy O Rapture Unforeseen" by the FAN Cabal troika of Henrik Kiertzner, Noel Maurer, and David Mix Barrington, a sequel to #267: "Easter Rising".  Next is #274: "A Call to Barms" by Noel Maurer, a sequel to "O Joy O Rapture Unforeseen" that introduces Private Nabo, an aimless young Mexican philosophy major who is called up in 1977 to take part in the Mexican occupation of New Granada.  Finally we have #281: "Mawlid al-Nabi" by Jonathan Edelstein, a sequel to #245: "Laylat al-Ragha'ib".

"O Joy O Rapture Unforeseen" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 4 January 2004, "A Call to Barms" on 8 January 2004, and "Mawlid al-Nabi" on 2 February 2004.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

FAN #267: "Easter Rising" by Henrik Kiertzner, Noel Maurer, and Dan McDonald

Up today at the Sobel Wiki is For All Nails vignette #267: "Easter Rising" by the FAN Cabal troika of Henrik Kiertzner, Noel Maurer, and Dan McDonald.  "Easter Rising" is a 6500-word epic telling the tale of an uprising in British-occupied New Granada in April 1977.  Any resemblance to our own world's Tet Offensive is entirely intentional.

"Easter Rising" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 12 November 2003.

And I think I need a little poison

It's been way too long since the Johnny Pez blog had an embedded music video, so we're reaching deep into the YouTube back catalogue for Throwing Muses performing "Bright Yellow Gun" live on the Channel 4 series The Word on 9 December 1994.  Take it away, Kristin . . .

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

FAN #271: "And You Could Have It All" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki is For All Nails vignette #271: "And You Could Have It All" by yours truly, a sequel to #244: "Look for the Union Label", featuring two of my favorite characters, King Frederick of Poland and Premier Yvette Fanchon of France.

"And You Could Have It All" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 6 January 2004.

Monday, September 17, 2012

FAN #265: "Turncoats and Telephones" by Mike Keating

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are three For All Nails vignettes.  First is #265: "Turncoats and Telephones" by Mike Keating, the latest installment in the life of Mexican spy Harold Pickett.  Next is #276: "The Power of Pointlists" by David Mix Barrington, the last (chronological) vignette with Mexican mathematician Bobby Contreras, and finally we have #278: "Kaffeeklatsch" by David Mix Barrington, in which Mayor Miriam Levine meets with former space pilot Christine Lillehammer.

"Turncoats and Telephones" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 11 October 2003, "The Power of Pointlists" on 21 December 2003, and "Kaffeeklatsch" on 23 January 2004.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

FAN #261: "Thunderstruck" by Mike Keating

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #261: "Thunderstruck" by Mike Keating, in which the Samuel Adams Brotherhood resorts to misdirection in its war against the C.N.A.  Next is #273: "Graduation Day" by David Mix Barrington, in which space pilot Christine Lillehammer gives a graduation day speech at her alma mater.

"Thunderstruck" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 21 September 2003, and "Graduation Day" on 6 December 2003.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

FAN #256: "It's the Real Thing" by Mike Keating

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are another two For All Nails vignettes.  First is #256: "It's the Real Thing" by Mike Keating, a Statist article from April 1976 (another article from the same issue, by the way, was quoted in #253: "Paper Trail").  Next is #257: "Crash of Civilizations" by David Mix Barrington, an article from the 10 September 1976 issue of Britannia Renewed, the official publication of Great Britain's National Renewal Party.

"It's the Real Thing" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 24 August 2003, and "Crash of Civilizations" on 26 June 2003.

Friday, September 14, 2012

FAN #251: "The Armenian Quarter" by Jonathan Edelstein

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #251: "The Armenian Quarter" by Jonathan Edelstein, about an Armenian baxter in Alexandria, Egypt in September 1976.  Next is #260A: "East or West: Minsk at the Crossroads" by Randy McDonald, the latest (and so far, last) dispatch from Quebecois journalist Andre-Philippe Maeterlinck, from February 1975.

Those of you who are following the For All Nails saga closely (assuming anyone is) may be wondering why #260, a vignette featuring Joan Kahn in 1978, is followed by #260A, a vignette featuring Maeterlinck in 1975.  The answer is that when I was assembling the For All Nails page at the Sobel Wiki, my only guide to the vignettes after #250 was the soc.history.what-if archive at Google Groups.  I would do a search for "all nails 263" and up would pop vignette #263: "Lost in Space" by Dave MB, and I would add that to the list of vignettes.  However, when I did a search for "all nails 260" nothing came up.  I figured the Google Groups archive must have lost #260, or else it had never been posted, so I stuck in a replacement: my own vignette "Be My Guest" which I wrote in 2004 but never got around to posting.  However, Dave MB either has superior Google-fu, or else he remembered what I had forgotten: that the reason there was no #260 was because Randy McDonald had begun a second series of Maeterlinck vignettes with #260A.  As it happens, Randy never got around to writing any more, so #260A is all there is.  For now, anyway.  (Hint hint, Randy).

"The Armenian Quarter" was posted to shw-i on 22 May 2003, and "East or West? Minsk at the Crossroads" on 5 August 2003.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

FAN #255: "Grits, Interrupted" by Johnny Pez and Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are four, count 'em, four For All Nails vignettes.  First is #254: "A Farewell to Kings" by Mike Keating, in which the leadership of the Samuel Adams Brotherhood reacts to the Viceroy crisis. Second is my own #255: "Grits, Interrupted", in which the C.N.A. and U.S.M. agree on a joint military operation in the South American nation of Grão Pará (part of Brazil in our own timeline) in May 1976.  Third is #266: "No Oil for Blood" by Noel Maurer, a series of magazine articles on the British occupation of New Granada.  And finally we have #288: "A Statement of Principles" by Andrew Barton, in which the government of Quebec reacts to the Viceroy crisis.

By an interesting coincidence, the addition of these four vignettes brings the number of articles in the Sobel Wiki up to 1776.

"A Farewell to Kings" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 19 June 2003, "Grits, Interrupted" on 20 June 2003, "No Oil for Blood" on 19 October 2003, and "A Statement of Principles" on 7 March 2004.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

FAN #241: "Games Without Frontiers" by Mike Keating

Up today at the Sobel Wiki is For All Nails vignette #241: "Games Without Frontiers" by Mike Keating, which carries the story of the Samuel Adams Brotherhood forward to December 1975.

"Games Without Frontiers" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 26 April 2003.

Monday, September 10, 2012

FAN #244: "Look for the Union Label" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is my own #244: "Look for the Union Label", in which a major political reorganization of Europe is discussed in April 1976.  Next is #250: "Guy Walks Into a Bar" by David Mix Barrington, a final visit with Felipe and Astrid Jackson in January 1976.

"Look for the Union Label" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 6 May 2003, and "Guy Walks Into a Bar" on 21 May 2003.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

FAN #236: "Fox in the Henhouse" by Johnny Pez

We follow up our venture into vexillology with two more For All Nails vignettes at the Sobel Wiki: my own #236: "Fox in the Henhouse", a sequel to yesterday's #230: "The Last Straw"; and the sequel's sequel, #253: "Paper Trail" by David Mix Barrington and myself, featuring the final resolution of the Viceroy crisis.

"Fox in the Henhouse" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 5 June 2003, and "Paper Trail" on 6 June 2003.

Sobel Timeline Vexillology

When Greenhill Books reprinted Sobel's For Want of a Nail in 1997, whoever did the cover design came up with a very elegant way of representing the book's contents: two cross flagstaffs bearing the flags of the Confederation of North America and the United States of Mexico.  The C.N.A. flag is the Continental Colors of 1776 with the British Union Jack in the canton and the thirteen red and white stripes that still appears on the American flag today.  The U.S.M. flag has a coiled snake with the words Don't Tread On Me, implying that the ex-rebels who settled in Jefferson adopted the Gadsden flag of the Revolutionary War era, while the circle of stars suggests the Betsy Ross flag.

Although the two national flags were created by a graphic designer at Greenhill Books in the 1990s, and thus were not a "canonical" part of the Sobel Timeline, the members of the For All Nails cabal decided to accept them, thus making them For All Nails Timeline canon.  In the course of FAN, both flag designs were changed, with the U.S.M. flag adding two more stars in 1975 with the addition of the states of Jackson and Antillas, and the C.N.A. flag dropping the Union Jack in favor of a white six-pointed star on a dark blue field in 1976 following the Viceroy controversy.

When you think about it, though, neither flag seems likely.  When the C.N.A. was established in 1782, the last thing the British would have wanted was to have the new dominion represented by a symbol of the Rebellion, which was what the Continental Colors were.  Most likely, the C.N.A. would not have had its own flag; the colonies would have returned to the pre-Rebellion practice of flying the Red Ensign.

With the adoption of the Second Britannic Design in 1842, the resulting upsurge of North American nationalism would have resulted in the adoption of a Confederation flag, but it would not have been the Continental Colors.  Most likely, as in the case of Canada in our own history, the C.N.A. flag would have been the Red Ensign with the Coat of Arms of the C.N.A. added.  What the C.N.A. Coat of Arms would have looked like is anyone's guess.  To give you some idea, here's what the C.N.A. Red Ensign would look like with the 19th century Canadian Arms added.  (If any enterprising readers would like to come up with their own versions of the C.N.A. Arms and create their own C.N.A. Red Ensign, go ahead.  I'll be pleased to post the results here.)

Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that the Union Jack in this version of the Red Ensign doesn't include the Cross of St. Patrick.  Sobel never mentions the 1801 Act of Union, and opinion in the FAN cabal was that there wouldn't have been one absent the French Revolutionary Wars, so Sobel Timeline Britain keeps the pre-1801 flags.

As for the Mexican flag, that's stepping into deep waters.  In the Sobel Timeline, the Mexican War of Independence began after Spain's defeat in the Five Years' War in 1799, though Sobel never says why the Spanish dominions in America rose up.  (FAN canon is that the American uprisings were due to the Bourbons being replaced on the Spanish throne by a cadet branch of the Prussian royal family.)  In the Sobel Timeline, the Mexican War of Independence was not led by a Mexican, but by a Spaniard: the Count of Revillogigedo, the former Viceroy of New Spain.  As for what the Mexican flag would have looked like under his leadership, it might well have incorporated the eagle and snake of our history's Mexican flag, since that bit of iconography was already deeply embedded in Mexican culture at the time of our 1777 point of divergence.

As for the State of Jefferson, they might indeed have adopted the Gadsden flag, but most likely they would have chosen the Stars and Stripes. (If they did use the Gadsden flag, then the symbolism of a Mexican eagle devouring a snake would have been particularly unfortunate.)  After the union of Jefferson and Mexico in 1819, Andrew Jackson would have wanted a flag that represented both nations, so perhaps the flag of the U.S.M. wound up with the old Mexican flag in the canton, on a field of 13 red and white stripes:

I'll be the first to admit that my own versions of the C.N.A. and U.S.M. flags aren't as striking as the ones the graphic artist from Greenhill Books came up with, but I do think they're closer to what would have resulted from the history of the Sobel Timeline.

If anyone from my vast global blogging audience happens to disagree, feel free to let me know in the comments.

UPDATE: More Sobel vexillology goodness here.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

FAN #230: "The Last Straw" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with articles on Malcolm Kitteridge, Simon Cardenes, the 1884 Kitteridge-Cardenes Treaty, and the Viceroy, are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is my own #230: "The Last Straw", in which the British government seeks to bring the North American government to heel.  Next is #279: "Flyers and Fulcrums" by Andrew Barton, continuing the story of Quebecois fantascience writer Alan Fairfax.

"The Last Straw" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 5 June 2003, and "Flyers and Fulcrums" on 26 January 2004.

Friday, September 7, 2012

FAN #238: "These Are the Journeys" by Johnny Pez

In honor of the 46th anniversary of the premier of Star Trek, today the Sobel Wiki gives a permanent home to For All Nails vignette #238: "These Are the Journeys" by yours truly, consisting of an excerpt from the Space Saga Concordance, a reference book on the Australian fantascience series mentioned in #104D: "The Gun Room", and #132: "Confido in Fabolositate".

Also up is #252: "The Waitress is Practicing Politics" by David Mix Barrington, a sequel to yesterday's #246: "So I Wouldn't Get Weighed".  This is the last FAN vignette to feature CBI agent Clarissa Forster.  Or, at least, it is now.  Having successfully badgered persuaded Dave MB to start writing FAN vignettes again, we just might be seeing more of both Clarissa and her alter-ego Abby Bartlet.

"These Are the Journeys" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 18 April 2003, and "The Waitress is Practicing Politics" on 12 June 2003.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

FAN #229: "The Tailor of Panama" by Noel Maurer and Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes. First up we have #229: "The Tailor of Panama" by Noel Maurer and yours truly, in which Sebo Quezadas finds himself taking part in the operation discussed in #228: "Now We All Did What We Could Do". Noel started writing the vignette, but found that he couldn't think up an ending for it. I was able to come up with an ending, so Noel allowed me to finish writing it. Feel free to try to guess where Noel's writing ends and mine begins. Noel's original title for the vignette was "Useless Tory Brats"; I forget who came up with the final title. It may even have been me.

Next is David Mix Barrington's #246: "So I Wouldn't Get Weighed", in which CBI agent Clarissa Forster discovers that her cover identity refuses to remain submerged.

"The Tailor of Panama" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 3 June 2003, and "So I Wouldn't Get Weighed" on 7 May 2003.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

FAN #227: "Freedom" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is my own #227: "Freedom", in which Yvette Fanchon discusses the future of France with General Eric von Gellmann in December 1975.  Next is #245: "Laylat al-Ragha'ib" by Jonathan Edelstein, in which Carmen Valenzuela finds herself working in the North African nation of Ouadai in July 1975.

"Freedom was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 26 March 2003, and "Laylat al-Ragha'ib" on 6 May 2003.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

FAN #226: "Rise Up, Gather Round" by Mike Keating

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #226: "Rise Up, Gather Round" by Mike Keating, in which the Army Brotherhoods take part in a demonstration in Boston in November 1975.  Next is #272: "The North Lakehead By-Election" by Andrew Barton, a sequel to yesterday's #264: "Rising Moon and Falling Star".

"Rise Up, Gather Round" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 24 March 2003, and "The North Lakehead By-Election" on 30 November 2003.

Monday, September 3, 2012

FAN #232: "Strange Bedfellows" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with articles on Clem Brook, the New York Herald, and Starkism, are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is my own #232: "Strange Bedfellows", a sequel to my #217: "When Love Comes to Town" (and a prequel to David Mix Barrington's #233: "Shootout at Black Rock").  Next sees the first vignette by Andrew Barton, a late arrival to the FAN Cabal, #264: "Rising Moon and Falling Star", featuring Quebecois fantascience writer Alan Fairfax.

As I've noted before, tt was Andrew's posting of the 301st FAN vignette on his blog Acts of Minor Treason in March 2010 that started the For All Nails revival that has since spawned 12 additional vignettes by four different authors, with more on the way.  I found Andrew's vignette six months after he posted it; a Google search for Ezra Gallivan led me there, ten days after the founding of the Sobel Wiki.  The timing was not coincidental; after I created the Ezra Gallivan article, I was curious to know where it would show up on a Google search, and Andrew's vignette was the tenth search result.

I'll also take this opportunity to note that I coined the word "fantascience", the Sobel Timeline's name for science fiction.  I picked the word for the sake of its abbreviation FS, a reversal of the common abbreviation for science fiction, and because I found it rather euphonious.  Incidentally, regular shw-i commenter Raymond Speer was of the opinion that the Sobel Timeline would have no analogue to our own Romantic period, and hence no development of an analogue (pun intended) to science fiction.  Speer's opinion met with some disagreement, and anyway, by then it was too late, fantascience was FAN canon.

"Strange Bedfellows" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 13 April 2003, and "Rising Moon and Falling Star" on 8 September 2003.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

FAN #240: "Closing Walls and Ticking Clocks" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are three, yes three For All Nails vignettes.  First are a pair by yours truly, #240: "Closing Walls and Ticking Clocks", and its sequel, #225: "The Puppet Masters".  Why was the sequel posted first?  Because that's the way we did things at For All Nails.  Together, the two vignettes show an important moment in the American War in November 1975.  Next is Noel Maurer and David Mix Barrington's sequel to my sequel, #228: "Now We All Did What We Could Do", showing the North American government's response to the events in my vignettes (which was also the way we did things at For All Nails).

"The Puppet Masters" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 23 March 2003, "Now We All Did What We Could Do" on 15 April 2003, and "Closing Walls and Ticking Clocks" on 26 April 2003.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

FAN #234: "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Montagu" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes: first is my own #234: "A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Montagu", a sequel to yesterday's #224: "Houseguests".  The title, of course, is based on a joke I stole from "Blackadder the Third".  Next is #263: "Lost in Space", featuring the return of Captain the Honorable Evangeline Gilmore.

"A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Montagu" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 15 April 2003, and "Lost in Space" on 6 September 2003.

Friday, August 31, 2012

FAN #224: "Houseguests" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with an article on Taiwan, are two more For All Nails vignettes, my own #224: "Houseguests", in which the royal family of New Granada experiences a British bombing attack in July 1975, and David Mix Barrington's #233: "Shootout at Black Rock", in which the Sobel Timeline analogue of David's mother-in-law gets involved in a political controversy in May 1975.

"Houseguests" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 15 March 2003, and "Shootout at Black Rock" exactly a month later on 15 April 2003.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

FAN #223: "You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #223: "You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello" by yours truly, in which German forces withdraw from a military base in Picardy, France in May 1975.  Next is #258: "We're a Happy Family" by David Mix Barrington, a sequel to #186: "A Boy's Life".

"You Say Goodbye and I Say Hello" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 13 March 2003, and "We're a Happy Family" on 12 July 2003.

And a historical note: today marks the second anniversary of the founding of the Sobel Wiki.  After two years of moderately hard work (including several months of malign neglect), the Sobel Wiki now has 1669 pages, about three quarters of which are FAN vignettes and footnotes.  Whew!  I'd like to thank my collaborators David Mix Barrington and Bel Riose for their assistance in this massive undertaking.  When it's all done . . . if it ever is all done . . . the Sobel Wiki will be the epicenter of the internet (or at least of the For Want of a Nail section of the internet, which is practically the same thing).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FAN #222: "Robots and Empire" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is my own #222: "Robots and Empire", a sequel to #207: "The Dingoes of War".  Next is #235: "Captain Confederation" by Carlos Yu, an account of how a North American superhero became a cult figure in the U.S.M.

"Robots and Empire" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 12 March 2003, and "Captain Confederation" on 14 April 2003.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

FAN #221: "Such Sweet Sorrow" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is my own #221: "Such Sweet Sorrow", in which the German leadership discuss withdrawing from the Bornholm Pact in April 1975, and second is Noel Maurer's #268: "The Horror, Whatever", a newspaper article from January 1975 discussing Taiwan's new status as the world's leading nation in gross national income per capita.

"Such Sweet Sorrow" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 12 March 2003, and "The Horror, Whatever" on 27 November 2003.

Monday, August 27, 2012

FAN #219: "Operation Excalibur" by Johnny Pez

Today marks an important milestone in the For All Nails archive at the Sobel Wiki.  FAN vignette #219: "Operation Excalibur" by yours truly, was the last to be posted to Dan McDonald's FAN archive at his website before real life drew Dan away from the FAN Cabal.  Thus, vignette #220: "Love, North American Style" by Sir Francis Burdett, which is now up at the Sobel Wiki, has never before appeared anywhere on the internet other than its initial appearance at the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on (of course) Valentine's Day 2003 under the title Four Awl Nails XXXIX: Love on the Rocks.  (Except, of course, for its second appearance at shw-i under its current FAN number and title on 13 March 2003.)

From now on, the Sobel Wiki FAN archive will be the place to go on the internet for all your For All Nails needs.  And even more so after Dave MB and I finished posting the rest of them, which ought to take place within a couple of months.

Btw, "Operation Excalibur" was first posted to shw-i on 27 February 2003.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

For All Nails #312: "Machine Politics" by David Mix Barrington and Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First, #215: "Sins of the Father" by Carlos Yu, a newspaper article on Vincent Mercator, Jr. a year after the Christmas bombing.  Next, a brand new vignette from the team of Mix Barrington and Pez: #312: "Machine Politics", concerning a fateful meeting between Bobby Contreras, Joan Kahn, and Paul Markey in April 1970.

"Sins of the Father" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if on 11 February 2003, and "Machine Politics", of course, first appeared today.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

FAN #214: "Notwani Road" by Jonathan Edelstein

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes:  first is #214: "Notwani Road" by Jonathan Edelstein, in which Queen Alexandra of the Cape Kingdom visits Botswana in July 1976 and gets more than just a trade agreement; second is #218: "Southern Men" by Mike Keating, in which we are introduced to the town of Payne, Virginia in October 1975.

"Notwani Road" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 10 February 2003, and "Southern Men" on 27 February 2003.

Friday, August 24, 2012

FAN #213: "Shouted Down" by Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with articles on Francis Marion, Ralph Ocon, Perry Jay, and the Jay Amendment, are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First is #210: "Travelin' Band" by Mike Keating, in which members of the New York chapter of the Samuel Adams Brotherhood travel to upcountry Virginia to meet some fellow Patriots in October 1975.  Second is #213: "Shouted Down" by Noel Maurer, a June 1964 article from the Statist on the defeat of the Jay Amendment.

"Travelin' Band" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 2 February 2003, and "Shouted Down" on 10 February 2003.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

FAN #212: "A Monarchy, If You Can Keep It" by Noel Maurer

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are four, count 'em, four For All Nails vignettes, all of them by Noel Maurer, all of them articles from the Statist.  First is #140: "Really Boring Stuff", from May 1972, on banking reform in the C.N.A.; second is #141: "More Really Boring Stuff", from April 1974, on futures commodities in the C.N.A.; third is #142: "Yet More Really Boring Stuff", from June 1975, on plans to build the world's tallest building in Michigan City; and fourth is #212: "A Monarchy, If You Can Keep It", actually two Statist articles, from October 1975 and April 1976, on the growing republican movement in New Zealand.

"Really Boring Stuff" "More Really Boring Stuff" and "Yet More Really Boring Stuff" were first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 14 October 2002, and "A Monarchy, If You Can Keep It" on 10 February 2003.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

FAN #207: "The Dingoes of War" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two more For All Nails vignettes.  First up is #131: "November Election" by Noel Maurer, a look at the November 1974 mid-term elections in the U.S.M.  Next is my own #207: "The Dingoes of War", in which the Governor-General of Australia plots strategy in the upcoming war in New Granada.

"November Election" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 30 September 2002, and "The Dingoes of War" on 25 January 2003.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

FAN: "The Last Continent" by Johnny Pez

Up today at the Sobel Wiki is For All Nails vignette #121: "October Surprise" by Noel Maurer, a look at Mexican politics, and the life of Noel's author avatar Sebo Quezadas, in October 1974.  Also up at the For All Nails page is my own "The Last Continent", an essay outlining the history of Australia in the Sobel Timeline.

"October Surprise" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 20 September 2002, and "The Last Continent" on 12 February 2003.

Monday, August 20, 2012

FAN #206: "Mi Lucha" by Carlos Yu

Up today at the Sobel Wiki are two For All Nails vignettes: first is #118: "Black September" by Noel Maurer, a look at Mexican politics in September 1974.  Next is #206: "Mi Lucha" by Carlos Yu, an excerpt from the feminist manifesto published in 1975 by Vincent Mercator's estranged wife, Imelda Faye del Valle.  As is always the case with one of Carlos' vignettes, all coincidences are intentional.

"Black September" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 18 September 2002, and "Mi Lucha" on 21 January 2003.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

FAN #205: "Death in the Afternoon, Popcorn Extra" by M.G. Alderman

Up today at the Sobel Wiki, along with an article on Australia, is M. G. "Matt" Alderman's last For All Nails vignette, #205: "Death in the Afternoon, Popcorn Extra", in which three University of New Orleans students attend a bullfight across the border in the U.S.M. in May 1976.  Matt found real life taking up too much of his time to continue with the For All Nails project, and his characters Marie-Claire Reynard and Hugh Schreck were heard from no more, though Captain the Honorable Evangeline Gilmore proved irresistable enough to the rest of the FAN Cabal to survive the departure of her creator.

"Death in the Afternoon, Popcorn Extra" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 16 February 2003.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

FAN #208: "The Merchant of Guadalajara" by Johnny Pez

Today at the Sobel Wiki we skip ahead a bit to provide the sequel to "Rogue Asset", my own For All Nails vignette #208: "The Merchant of Guadalajara", in which Joan Kahn acts on her hypothesis from "Rogue Asset".

"The Merchant of Guadalajara" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 3 February 2003.

Friday, August 17, 2012

FAN #204: "Rogue Asset" by Johnny Pez

As I've mentioned before, many of the members of the For All Nails Cabal created author avatars in the course of the project, and today, we meet mine.  Posted today at the Sobel Wiki is FAN vignette #204: "Rogue Asset", in which conspiracy theorist Joan Kahn meets a college professor named John Dickinson Pez in California in January 1975.

"Rogue Asset" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 2 February 2003.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

FAN #202: "Bullet the Blue Sky" by Mike Keating

Up today at the Sobel Wiki is For All Nails vignette #202: "Bullet the Blue Sky" by Mike Keating, the latest installment in the story of the C.N.A.'s army clubs.  In today's vignette, the Confederation Bureau of Investigation prepares to move on the Endicott, New York chapter of the Samuel Adams Brotherhood in August 1975.

"Bullet the Blue Sky" was first posted to the soc.history.what-if newsgroup on 4 January 2003.