Category Archives: writing

So I watched The Tomorrow War

Going back to my old Tom Baker Dr. Who days on a black & white 10-inch TV in my room in the early 1980s, I’ve always been a sucker for anything time travel and have used the device in a few different short stories over the years.

So naturally, I had to watch The Tomorrow War, in which the losing military of 2051 catapults back in time to today to gather hastily mustered and invariably untrained conscripts to send forward 30 years, where they will lend their mass to try and defeat some very scary alien creatures that have all but overrun the planet.

Lots of issues. Spoiler alerts ahead.

First, instead of coming to get draftees to serve as cannon fodder in a future in which they are already dead (so as not to bump into yourself in the future), why not just send an intel package back to the current age detailing all that is known about the aliens to include future dates and locations of their initial strikes and biological research/samples to develop an insecticide (yes, they are big bugs) against?

Even if you go with the so-called “Let’s Kill Hitler Paradox” which erases your own reason for going back in time because if the traveler were successful, then there would be no reason to time travel in the first place, and you still had to go with the standby of getting future-deceased draftees to come to 2051 and fight aliens, at least give said draftees a fighting chance.

In the film, most of the humans face off with the “White Spikes” armed with short-barreled 5.56 NATO weapons, to ill effect. A vet of two past jumps, meanwhile, runs a 12 gauge tactical shotgun to better success while a grizzled old man with an AR10 lays out several in short order.

The guns in The Tomorrow War, have…some issues

The solution? Send these poor devils to the future with 7.62 battle rifles such as the HK G3/HK91, AR10, FN FAL, and M1A1/M14. There are surely a few million in storage or in local gun shops around the world and more could be cranked out very rapidly. 

Yes, they have a learning curve, but not an impossible one. Remember, the conscript millions of NATO infantry trained in the 1960s-80s carried such beasts with, in many cases, only a modicum of instruction.

If they can’t figure it out, give em a shotgun. I can vouch that I have run one-day tactical riot gun courses with great success for novice users.

Anyway, more on my feelings on The Tomorrow War-– which is actually a fairly good if confounding sci-fi film– check out my piece at where I talk about the on-screen weapons.

If you happen to be Bored…

…And looking for some naval scholarship, check out the latest issue of Warship International (Vol. 58) published by the International Naval Research Organization. In its pages, you will find a 23-page article covering the ships and boats that took part in the 1909 Hudson-Fulton exhibition’s naval celebration in New York.

Written by yours truly!

I should tell you though that it is part two of a two but relax, the first part (29-page) was already published in Vol. 49, which is available on JSTOR. Incidentally, all INRO members can read old issues of Warship International going back to the 1960s via JSTOR as part of their membership. Food for thought.

FAA’s Fly By Cover!

Fly By, the periodical of the Fleet Air Arm Association of Australia just republished (with my permission) a recent Warship Wednesday of mine on the MV Daghestan and her role in naval aviation history.

And it was the cover!

Here is the newsletter, which is 21 pages and covers much more than my drivel.

Tough weekend

Spent lots of time on the range this weekend as I am T&E’ing several new guns such as Beretta’s 92X Compact and Diamondback’s DB9 Gen 4. I also took advantage of the great weather (70 degrees, a downright cold front in Mississippi!) and lane availability to dig out some classics from my gun lockers.


Lots of badly injured paper men, one painful yet minor case of slide bite, and 3,000~ rounds of brass left behind for the case goblins.

Lots of this…

…And a little of that

All that being said, not a bad weekend. I’ve had worse

Summer days in the South

Spent some time last week in Jackson at the Cathead Distillery (the only one in the state since Prohibition) helping to promote The Mississippi Encyclopedia, a 1,600-page scholarly reference work compiled over the past six years by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at Ole Miss and published by the University of Mississippi Press.

Did I mention it is 1,600-pages?

Of the 1,400 entries, I managed to contribute a few on military history subjects. The signing at Cathead was hard work, broken up by excellent beer and spirits, but it was an honor to converse and share space with some 30 other contributors including some of the best authors in the South– present company excluded.

I also got to watch a Mississippi Braves game from afar and see what 375 oak barrels of aging bourbon looks like, which is always a treat.

In other news, as the summer progresses, the hibiscus plants and cherry tomato bushes in the garden are working overtime.

Growing your own tomatoes are a great way to save $2.71…

Nonetheless, bring on winter. It’s friggin hot.

Remembering WBY, and his own cruise to Byzantium

On this day in 1939, William Butler Yeats breathed his last breath. His last words, while living in France were, “If I die bury me up there [at Roquebrune cemetery] and then in a year’s time when the newspapers have forgotten me, dig me up and plant me in [County] Sligo.”

Well, the War broke out and they had to put off the re-interment a while, but in Sept. 1948 the Flower-class corvette LÉ Macha (01) of the Irish Navy escorted the poet’s remains from France to Drumcliffe, County Sligo, for reburial, taken aboard after a funeral march from Nice to the ship with band, trumpeters and military honors from a company of French Chasseurs Alpins troops.

Gang-plank goes ashore from the first Irish warship, the LE Macha. Photograph Defence Forces

Gang-plank goes ashore from the first Irish warship, the LE Macha. Photograph Defence Forces

As a tribute, my favorite work of the great Irishman.

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon‐falls, the mackerel‐crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing‐masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Also, the 295-foot Samuel Beckett-class offshore patrol vessel LÉ William Butler Yeats (P63), is the newest addition to the Irish Naval Service, who treasure a tradition of naming their warships after poets.

Rod Serling always was the understated master

I remember watching Twilight Zone and Night Gallery reruns as a kid and thinking to myself of host Rod Serling, as he quietly smoked his cigarette in his MIB style suit, thin tie peaking out of his jacket like an exclamation point, “This guy is the very embodiment of self-confidence.”

Courtesy of Blank on Blank, here is a 1963 interview with the master as he dishes on good science fiction, Kamikazes, leaping out of a C-47 in WWII, and the inevitability of growing older and finding the road behind you slowing being erased.