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Review: Tilting the Balance

Tilting the Balance
Tilting the Balance by Harry Turtledove
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was better than Tilting the Balance, the first book in the WorldWar series that answers the question “What if aliens invaded in World War II?” It had all “what if” strengths of the first book and fewer gratuitous yet unerotic sex scenes. The named historical characters remained plausible. I particularly like the characterizations of Stalin and Molotov. The depiction of the various powers and ethic groups struggling to set aside their differences long enough to drive the aliens from our world are also done well.

Two things keep me from giving this book four stars. One is a supposedly rational scientist reacting very disproportionately to difficulties in their life. I kept saying, “Really? You’d do that? Because of __?” The second thing was the repetition of certain facts every couple of chapters. The same facts that were repeated every couple of chapters in book one. For example, it’s not too much of a spoiler to learn that U2 soviet biplanes were less likely to get shot down because their canvas bodies were harder to detect by radar. Or that it was important to stay near tree level because the aliens typically shot down anything that few higher. I hope I don’t have to be reminded of these facts every time the pilot character is introduced in book three.

But I was intrigued and entertained enough that I will indeed read the third book, “Upsetting the Balance.” In fact, I’ll be popping off to Listen Alaska Plus to borrow the e-book.

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Review: In the Balance

In the Balance
In the Balance by Harry Turtledove
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you wondered what might have happened if aliens had invade Earth during World War II, this book might be for you.

Entertaining. Historical characters are plausible. Invaders are multidimensional and guilty of their special brand of anthromorphism. Only three stars due to number of unerotic sex scenes. Willing to try next book.

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Our Secret Syria Policy

Daniel Cornwall:

This post from The Dish shows that we seem incapable of learning from the past. This didn’t work out so well for us or the world when we did it in Afghanistan.

Originally posted on The Dish:

Earlier this week Reuters reported that small “arms supplied by the United States are flowing to ‘moderate’ Syrian rebel factions in the south of the country and U.S. funding for months of further deliveries has been approved by Congress.” The funding was approved behind closed doors “in classified sections of defense appropriations legislation.” Jonathan Coppage comments:

While there is surely great diversity in Syrian rebel forces, the inclination of many prominent foreign policy voices in SyriaCongress and the media to follow John McCain’s lead in seeing a George Washington in every irregular colonel does not give one great confidence that classified Congressional appropriators are well positioned to put guns in good hands. …

[W]hile secrecy surely has a necessary place in foreign policy and military decision making, the sheer amount of uncertainty created by classified national security and military budgets necessarily undermines the possibility of democratic governance and accountability. The…

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Writer’s Guide: All Resources Have Been Posted

Daniel Cornwall:

Please check out my latest project. Since this was posted I’ve also put out an appendix on state specific information.

Originally posted on Writer's Guide to Government Information:

The initial build phase to Writer’s Guide to Government Information is over. The 467 resources I identified during the past two years have now all been posted. Here’s how the Table of Contents finally wound up:

Table of Contents

The aim of this site is to point you to government information resources that will help you add realistic details to the stories you write. Clicking on the titles below will take you to a list of resources in that area.

You may also wish to use the search box in the upper right hand corner of this page or explore the tag cloud.


About the Site – Background about how this site came to be.

Chapters – Links to 467 Resource Posts

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Pelican and Humbolt Penguin on Flickr. Birds of several species…

Pelican and Humbolt Penguin on Flickr.

Birds of several species seemed happy to live around each other on Isla de Chanaral, Chile.

from Tumblr http://alaskanlibrarian.tumblr.com/post/68844321065

Valle de Elqui Where I stayed on Flickr.A new test from Flickr….

Valle de Elqui Where I stayed on Flickr.

A new test from Flickr. Today the Flickr share box is not behind the picture I’m trying to share. This is an improvement.

The picture itself is of the Valle de Elqui region where I spent most of my November Astronomy trip to Chile. I was in La Serena, Vicuna and Pisco Elqui. I recommend them all to you, but especially Pisco Elqui. This mural was in the Vicuna artists’ market and the yellow box shows the distances to other towns in the region.

from Tumblr http://alaskanlibrarian.tumblr.com/post/68378432236

Last night someone asked me to write a bad physics joke in their book; I chose ‘hope this doesn’t Bohr you’ :) What would you have written?


Schrodinger’s cat died laughing. Or not.

from Tumblr http://alaskanlibrarian.tumblr.com/post/68371182453

tedx: Leslie Morgan Steiner was in an abusive relationship,…


Leslie Morgan Steiner was in an abusive relationship, though at first she didn’t realize it. In a talk at TEDxRainier, she tells the disturbing story of her relationship, correcting misconceptions many people hold about victims of domestic violence, and explaining how we can all help break the silence.

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence or an absuive relationship, you can find a list of resources here. The U.S. National Sexual Assault Hotline is 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE), and RAINN offers a secure online hotline.

Story worth sharing. Speak up.

from Tumblr http://alaskanlibrarian.tumblr.com/post/68339864899

Guest Post: Defending Loki (Law and the Multiverse)

Guest Post: Defending Loki (Law and the Multiverse) :

In the closing sequence of Marvel’s The Avengers, The World Security Council that evidently has the authority to order a nuclear strike on New York City, questions Nick Fury about the disposition of Loki. Calling Loki a war criminal, they ask Mr. Fury why he let Thor take Loki away when he should be answering for his crimes.

In this iteration of the Multiverse, evidently the bureaucracy of the United States has given way to the autocratic decisions of an infighting oligarchy that ignores due process and extradition laws. Well, at least Nick Fury does.

I think I would have rather seen a little more adherence to law and let Loki have his day in a U.S. Court. I say this, because as a criminal defense attorney, I believe there is a reasonable defense for Loki.

Law and the Multiverse examines various fandoms from the perspective of US Law. It’s an example of a spoonful of sugar helping the medicine go down.

This post imagines what could have happened if Loki hadn’t been carted off to Asgard at the end of The Avengers.

Given Earth’s inability to keep Loki locked up, I think this post ignores that Loki would have vaporized his attorney in court in preference to having “ants” declare him insane. What do you think?

from Tumblr http://alaskanlibrarian.tumblr.com/post/68328176258

Looking towards Vicuna Church (by AlaskanLibrarian) A few weeks…

Looking towards Vicuna Church (by AlaskanLibrarian)

A few weeks ago, I was in Chile with an astronomy tour group. One of our stops was Vicuna. My hotel room was on the second floor and gave me a nice view of the local church tower.

Funny thing about the Catholic Church in that town. It seemed to be active, but I couldn’t find a name plate or a Mass schedule. It seemed almost like if you lived there, you knew when Mass was and what the church was called. And if you didn’t, no need to stop by. Or I simply missed the actual entrance because I was ill that day.

from Tumblr http://alaskanlibrarian.tumblr.com/post/68227472642


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