Monday, October 30, 2006

It will break your heart.

Did you see the photos on New York Times Online today of families mourning their lost servicemen during funerals at Arlington National Cemetery? In one of the photos, Army Corporal Carl W. Johnson II is mourned by a group of family and friends including seven young children and one teenager. Go look at it. It will break your heart.

At least 103 American troops were killed in Iraq and Afghanistan during October 2006. In Iraq, the toll had reached 99 by Saturday, making October the deadliest month since January 2005.

The high number of deaths is attributed to a wave of violence during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began in late September and ended last week. Also at fault was a three month campaign to wrest control of Baghdad from death squads. The campaign resulted in increased attacks on our soldiers.

The Iraqi War and occupation is the Vietnam War all over again. ---Walter Haan,

Friday, October 27, 2006

Americans need to take an interest

Most Americans are ignorant about things that matter. Like who is running the country and what those leaders are actually doing. Here is a list that contains what most Americans are really interested in:

1. The Super Bowl

2. The World Series

3. Sales at Fortunoffs

4. Paris Hilton

5. DVDs, CDs (the kind that play music)

6. Sales at Ann Taylor's

7. Sales at the supermarket

8. celebrity marriages

9. SUVs, sport cars

10. Cable TV

11. Sales at Bloomingdales, Macys, Wal-Mart, K-Mart. You get the idea.

Okay. I'm going to say it again. Get those broken bottles ready to throw. Ralph Nader should have been elected to be president in 2004, just like Eugene McCarthy should have been elected President in 1968. He would have stopped the Vietnam War just as Nader would have stopped our war in Iraq.

What was on Nader's platform? Get out of Iraq now. Universal health care now. Things good for the people. But you all ran to the polls with your tails between your legs spouting anti-Nader rants while you voted for Bush and the Bush clone. You know who you are. Practically everyone.

Are you feeling bad about it all? Go take a drive in your SUV at 15 miles per gallon. Go wrap all your leftovers in Glad Bags made from petroleum. Go blow your leaves into a neat pile with your gas powered leaf blower. Go tut tut at the TV news about another one of our boys dying in Vietnam, whoops, I mean Iraq. Go to church and piously pray for peace while you finger your plastic rosary beads. Have your car detailed. Put a plastic American flag made in China on your car. Write outraged letters to the editor of your local newspaper about any topic, pick one, the list of things to be outraged about is huge. Then have a donut, or go get plastered or high.

Or write a check to the American Red Cross to help our wounded soldiers or those from New Orleans who still have nothing. There, don't you feel better? Or maybe you subscribe to the Barbara Bush theory that those who lost everything during Hurricane Katrina are better off now. Best thing that could have happened to them, something like that she said. I want to know how many drowned in the waves formed in the flood waters by Bush's plane flying low to inspect the damage?

I know! Get outraged by that Catholic priest who was naked with Congressman Foley when he was a teenager. Let's get him; hang him by his balls. Let's hang Foley by his balls for writing suggestive emails to our good, clean page boys in Congress.

Americans will do anything to avoid the most important, pressing issues facing our nation. Bush is destroying our Constitution. Bush clone Kerry would have continued the war, but fought it better. What? How? Maybe he meant to kill all Iraqis. Then it would be quiet, leaving us to harvest all the oil and natural gas, which is what it's all about anyway. We need to keep those leaf blowers going. Thank God I unloaded my stock in the rake company.

I could go on, but what's the point? Most Americans are going to deserve what ultimately happens to this nation unless they wake up and start to pay attention to our government and what it is doing in our names. There is something we can all do on November 7th to help turn things around. Vote the guys out who have made and supported all the bad decisions. And while you’re doing that, take a good look at the third and fourth party candidates on your ballots. History has shown that they have come up with some of the very best ideas for ordinary Americans. Like Nader did when he opposed the war and supported universal health care in 2004.

Over 90 American soldiers have died in Iraq this month. That's the highest count in a year. Please pay attention to what our government is doing. --Walter Haan,

Friday, October 13, 2006

Cory Lidle's plane crash: a reminder of a B-25 crash 61 years ago

New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle’s plane crash into a condo building on the upper east side of Manhattan on Wednesday is a reminder of the B-25 bomber that crashed into the Empire State Building’s 78th and 79th floors in the summer of 1945. My father, Walter L. Haan, had been working in the building when it happened, fortunately on the other side of the building on the 72nd floor.

The military plane crashed when its pilot became lost in heavy fog over Manhattan. It tore a huge hole in the building, and one of its engines was thrown forward into the building and out the other side. Cory Lidle’s plane engine was also thrust forward into a condo apartment upon impact.

A small building on 33rd Street caught fire after the B-25 engine plummeted to the ground after exiting the other side of the Empire State Building.

Workers on the two floors had not seen the plane coming and had no idea what had happened.
World War II in Europe had already ended but it was still going on against Japan. Workers in the building thought it was a bomb, not an airplane. A total of 14 people died when the B-25 hit: 11 people inside the Empire State Building and three in the plane, including the pilot.

My father had praised the design of the Empire State Building because it incorporates ledges. He said the ledges were there to catch jumpers or debris from reaching all the way down to the sidewalks where it could injure people. I wonder how much of the B-25 was caught on the ledge at the 72nd floor. And of course we all remember the jumpers from the twin towers on September 11, 2001 who fell all the way down. Kindergartners being shepherded from a nearby school looked up in the air and thought that people were flying. The design of the twin towers didn’t include ledges, nor does the design of the condo building Lidle’s plane hit. Photos show the debris on the sidewalk in front of the building.---Walter Haan,

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Writing can be a dangerous activity..."

A few of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted an article on this blog for about a month. As one of the main topics is war, our entry and pursuit of it, I found the subject depressing. The kill lists from Baghdad, the boasts from the White House, the opening of a new Coca Cola plant in Kabul (is that what our guys are fighting and dying for?), well, you get the idea. One of my authors earlier this year asked me, “Just who are you to have opinions on these weighty subjects?” That depressed me too for a while because it is a valid question. Just because I’ve served in the Army and Peace Corps and published almost 40 books by over 20 authors, who the hell cares about my opinions?

I am pleased that my wife and I, by founding Southfarm Press, have given voice to those 20 plus authors, who, for most of them, would never have been published if it hadn’t been by us. And most of them received very favorable reviews in Publisher’s Weekly, Library Journal, Booklist, Naval History Magazine, World War II Magazine and other journals..

So I thought I’d stick with writing about book publishing and writing for a while. And I was struck today by the following statement:

“I could have carried on [writing] forever if I didn't want to make a novel out of it. It's amazing to me when I write in this way ... it's so easy to exit the world. It's quite shocking really. The door is open and you go. Writing can be a dangerous activity if you really let yourself go entirely. Mentally, it is a strange place to be in.”

Author Kiran Desai said that in an interview with Mukund Padmanabhan published in the October 10 issue of The Hindu, a daily newspaper in India. Desai just won the Man Booker Prize in Britain. It’s a very prestigious literary award over there that doesn’t mean much in the United States. Desai is Indian. She won for her book The Inheritance of Loss, only her second book published. There is a several year gap between her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, published in 1998, and the second. In the interview, she talks about it taking eight years total to write and to find a publisher for her second book, even though she was already successfully published.

But whether writing fiction or nonfiction, which I publish, writing is all consuming as Desai said. And being published is dangerous. Reviewers can hack your writings, and you, to pieces, and it’s all legal as it’s in literary criticism. One of my authors was called a liar in a review in The Journal of Military History. That resulted in an article under preparation by the Hartford Courant about the author’s book to be canceled. Another reviewer had asked me whether Southfarm Press had administered a lie detector test to the author. General laughter broke out in the office. I’ll go to my grave knowing that the author in question wasn’t lying when he presented an alternate version to the accepted version of an historical event in one of our books.

So, you take your life in your hands when you lose yourself in writing and by being published. But, take heart all you writers out there, for a book that took seven years to write and one year to find a publisher has just won the 2006 Man Booker Prize.—Walter Haan,