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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, November 14, 2017

Jake Novak of CNBC thinks Joe Biden “is the exact opposite of the kind of candidate voters in both parties proved they want in the 2016 election.” He cites a lot of facts, like the populist appeal of both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and the clear anti-establishment sentiment that characterized that election. He also talks about the democratic base shifting leftward toward Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. And then there are Biden’s inglorious attempts to run for president in 1988 and 2008.

Novak may have his facts straight, but I think he might be completely missing the point. Yes, voters at both ends of the political spectrum went for populism in 2016. And the success of the Trump and Sanders campaigns came from convincing people that the establishment of both parties had failed them, much the way Barrack Obama did in…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, November 11, 2017

Aretha Franklin belted it out loud and clear.

The president’s Asia trip has more than anything been a test of how much powerful foreign leaders respect him. The media has been filled with reports and opinions, almost since the day Trump was inaugurated, that they were shocked by him and personally viewed him as an unqualified buffoon. That doesn’t mean they could disregard him. One year into the current administration we’re still the most powerful nation in the world militarily, and he is the Commander-in-Chief.

There’s an interesting parallel with North Korea here. Most leaders consider Kim Jong Un something between crazy and irresponsible, but they don’t deny that he’s capable of doing a lot of damage if he chooses to. Kim may well be playing an exaggerated version of the game Trump loves so much. Act crazy, say anything that comes to mind, and…

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081Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

Photo credit: Robert SalerniThis week I welcome DIANNE K. SALERNI. Dianne is the author of the Eighth DayMG fantasy series, described by Kirkus as “an exciting blend of Arthurian legend and organized crime.” The first book in the series, The Eighth Day, has been on state lists in Maine, Florida, Georgia, Virginia, Minnesota, and Indiana. Dianne has also published two YA historical novels.  The Caged Graves is a Junior Library Guild Selection and has been nominated for reader’s choice awards in Vermont, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania. We Hear the Dead was the inspiration for a short film, The Spirit Game, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.


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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, November 6, 2017

The United States State Department has more than 30,000 employees. Most of them are dedicated professionals with no political affiliation. Many have narrow specialties which they’ve been honing for twenty years or more. Many speak multiple languages, have served in the foreign service, and have advanced degrees from major universities.

Why do we need so many of them? Because knowing and understanding the subtleties of foreign cultures is essential to a successful foreign policy. In some cases being able to speak their language can make all the difference in resolving disagreements. Not because they don’t speak English or because they might be offended if we don’t bother to learn their language, but because a language often tells us a lot about how people think.

I learned that when I used all my elective points as an undergraduate to study Russian, back in the Cold War…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, November 2, 2017

Immediately after Robert Mueller announced the guilty plea of George Papadopoulos and the indictments of Paul Manafort and Richard Gates, I received an email asking (rhetorically) if this was the beginning of the end. The end of what, I wondered. The end of the Trump Presidency? Possibly, but I wouldn’t bet my mortgage on it.

More likely, it could mark the beginning of a protracted period in which the president’s ability to get anything done is greatly reduced. That same morning, a quick Gallup poll reported that the president’s approval rating went from an all-time low of 38% to a shocking 33%, which suggests that no one outside his hard core base still supports him, and that base might even be shrinking.

Combined with recent leaks and reports that most of his support in Congress is based on a temporary alignment to pass tax reform…

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081Welcome to WOLF NOTES, where interview questions stray from the rest of the pack. It’s nice to know the usual stuff like where an author gets their inspiration and why they write, but sometimes we need a little fun in our lives.

This week I welcome Alan Zendell

AlanCreateSpaceAlan Zendell spent more than forty years as a scientist, aerospace engineer, software consultant, database developer, and government analyst, writing really boring stuff like proposals, technical papers, reports, business letters, and policy memoranda.  But trapped inside him all that time were stories that needed telling and ideas that needed expression, so with encouragement and cajoling from a loving baby sister he plunged into fiction.

Since then, he has written mostly science and extrapolative fiction, the genre he loved since he was nine.  But his stories are about more than aliens and technical marvels.  He creates strong, three-dimensional characters a reader can care…

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Cindy Young-Turner

Happy Halloween! I love the spookiness of this time of year. It’s the perfect time to curl up with a good book, and even better if it’s creepy or gothic. I don’t like gore, but I do like a lot of the classics. Weird tales. Atmospheric horror. I decided to read some appropriately themed books this month and just finished Nod by Adrian Barnes, which is all the more terrifying if you are an insomniac. A strange and frightening vision of the future. And yeah, it does have its share of gore. Bad things happen when most of the world stops sleeping. I’ve now started Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Goodreads has done some Halloween events and book recommendations this month. One of the recent ask the author questions was to write a two-sentence horror story. I’ve read some good ones and decided to try…

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Cindy Young-Turner

Today I have author Mark Willen joining me for an interview. Mark’s second novel, Hawke’s Return, recently came out, with another ethical dilemma for retired lawyer Jonas Hawke and new challenges for his family and friends in Beacon Junction, Vermont. It’s a great read and a timely one, as this time of year I am really missing the beauty of New England. Mark has a third book in the works for Jonas Hawke, and since he’s a member of my critique group I’ve had a sneak peek. You’ll also want to check out the first book in the series, Hawke’s Point, which looks like it’s only $.99 for Kindle right now!

Hawke's Return by [Willen, Mark]It’s his word against hers, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

When a teenager accuses a key official of a local charity of blackmailing her for sex—and then abruptly disappears—a mystery turns into a crisis, raising concerns about…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, June 20, 2017

I looked up coincidence in two dictionaries and found “a striking occurrence of two or more events at one time apparently by mere chanceand “a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection.” I’m not a big believer in coincidence, which by definition is a rare event. Unless you rely on providence, the more striking coinciding events are, the less likely it is that they really represent a coincidence.

Perhaps yesterday’s speeches by Barrack Obama and George W. Bush which decried the divisive politics of Trumpism really were two random events not causally linked. If that’s true they were the best possible kind of coincidence, unrelated events that shined a light on the damage being done to our democratic values from sources that until recently would have seemed diametrically opposed. What the two former presidents have in…

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America the Beautiful

Alan Zendell, October 17, 2017

Where, a mere five years ago, a thriving city of a quarter million (and more including its environs) stood on the Euphrates River in northeastern Syria, this is what’s there now.


Somehow, the world allowed ISIS to take over this city and turn it into a charnel house of terror and death. Everyone stood by and watched it happen, the United States, Europe, Russia, and the rest of the Middle East. And while ISIS destroyed the moral fabric and culture of the city, its physical destruction was the price of its liberation. As is always the case in war, an entrenched fanatical occupying force would rather see a city destroyed than concede defeat.

As of this morning, as news services around the world report the final defeat of ISIS in its self-declared capital, the White House is oddly silent. In part that’s because this…

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