Greetings! Welcome to the Chateau!

Within its corridors you will find insight into the books I have written, the books I am writing and the books I am thinking about writing.

It is also a place where I can offer insights into my favorite authors and - in the case of my game Conqueror: Fields of Victory - I can explain my rules and offer new variants.

Scroll down or check the sidebar for my latest posts.


Walls of Men: A Military History of China 2500 B.C. to A.D. 2020

Long Live Death: The Keys to Victory in the Spanish Civil War


Three Weeks with the Coasties: A Tale of Disaster and also an Oil Spill

Battle Officer Wolf

Scorpion's Pass

The Vampires of Michigan

The Man of Destiny Series:

A Man of Destiny

Rise of the Alliance

Fall of the Commonwealth

The Imperial Rebellion


Conqueror: Fields of Victory, Revised Edition

Other Writings features


Pope Francis zags back into Orthodoxy

If nothing else, the pontificate of Francis is never dull.  For much of this year, the faithful have been roiled with accounts of drastic changes to doctrine, including the ordination of women and the blessing of "irregular" relationships.  Though the term is broad, everyone knows that there is no one pushing to legitimize adulterous relationships, it's being pushed by homosexuals and their allies.

Last week the pope spoke with remarkably firmness on both issues, and liberal Catholics have to be feeling pretty bad about it.  On the recent 60 Minutes interview the pope was giving a rather long-winded question about allowing female ordination.  It's a remarkable clip because he almost immediately releases the thrust of the question shows clear irritation and boredom with the setup, and when finally given an opening to respond, leans forward to give a firm "No," rejecting it outright.

Similarly, the confusion of Fiducia supplicans, had prompted a large swath of Catholic theologians and senior clergy to call for its retraction.  Apparently that will not happen, but the pope did "clarify" that it only applies to individuals, can never be used to affirm homosexual unions and that Church teachings on homosexuality remain unchanged.

Lest there be doubt, Cardinal Fernandez was dispatched to Egypt to heal the rift with the Copts.   This is clearly an effort to save the pope's legacy, which at this point is looking pretty bleak.  The Coptic Church had been steadily moving closer to Rome, but FS created a rupture.  The pope's recent statement that: “Blessing a homosexual union goes against the law, the natural law, the law of the Church,” will likely heal this wound. 

It's no secret that Francis is not in good health, and I've seen some of his critics claim that he hasn't presided over a public Mass in two years.  Much of what has been going on in his name may very well be happening behind his back.  This does not exculpate him, however because personnel is policy.

If he can heal the schism with the Copts, much of this confusion will be forgotten.

Yasuke the Samurai: Falsifying history for fun and profit

Last week the trailer for a new installment of the Assassins Creed franchise came out.  I'm familiar with the game, though I've never played it.  Anyhow, my understanding is that it uses the Knight Templars as some sort of ancient conspiracy against their arch-enemies and assassins are good, Templars bad, or whatever.   I'm quite the fan of Umberto Eco's Templar conspiracy tour-de-force, Focault's Pendulum, which I'm sure was at least some of the inspiration for the franchise.

Anyway, the new release is set in Japan, a first for the series, and people were naturally looking forward to actual samurai and ninjas duking it out.  Instead, the titular character is an African samurai, which has a lot of people scratching their heads.

Apparently, there is a mention of an African man reaching Japan during the tumultuous 16th Century.  The actual person was the servant of a Jesuit missionary and a Japanese warlord took an interest in him, taking him into his service as a page or manservant.

To put it another way, he wasn't an actual samurai.  

But facts mean nothing to modern social justice motivated scholars, and so the game publishers are digging in on the "authenticity" of their game.  Some are citing African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan as the authoritative source.  The book has hugely positive ratings, but that's meaningless in terms of whether or not it is actual history.

Long-time friends of this blog will know that when I dug into the Spanish Civil War, I found plenty of "respected" sources that spouted provable lies.  Antony Beevor is - for some strange reason - considered a respectable historian despite his blatant bigotry and complete disregard of the facts.

That tissue of lies has a very positive rating despite being filled with hot garbage, and I noticed that critical reviews of that Yasuke book echo my own audit of Beevor.

To put it another way, there is zero proof that this Yasuke was a samurai, but bigoted Western authors have decided that he was one, and that's that.

At the start of this dispute, both Encyclopedia Britannic and Wikipedia were skeptical of the samurai claims, but once the signal was given both sources rewrote their entries to conform to the new narrative.  They both went full George Orwell.  Never go full George Orwell.

The core problem with this transparent re-writing of history is that it convinces no one.  Skeptics will become more skeptical while fence-sitters will be turned off by the sudden about-face.  The true believers will parrot whatever is given them, which further strengthens the skeptical arguments.

Put simply, it is self-defeating, destroying the authority of once-respected institutions in return for ephemeral short-term gains.  This seems to be the hallmark of our age.

What makes this all so pathetic is that all this revisionism is being done in the service of a video game, one that has already generated overwhelmingly negative responses.  The various authorities that whored themselves out for this endeavor will see zero return on their investment.  Their best-case scenario is for some tech mogul to get a little bit more wealthy for a little while.

Meanwhile, the prestige of Western scholarship will suffer irreparable damage.  

At this point, I'm good with that.  Modern academics are nothing more than credentialed imbeciles.  Indeed, when challenged, they always resort to asserting their authority rather than providing actual evidence.  The faster this corruption is exposed and destroyed, the better for everyone.

The Church offers new rules for supernatural events

When word came out that the Vatican was going to release new rules for discerning supernatural events, it was hard not to be pessimistic.  The mess of Fiducia Supplicans continues to spread, but at the same time his pontificate is never consistent, so good regularly follows bad.

Based on the initial coverage, the guidelines seem reasonable, but I will have to dig deeper.  One of the elements used to determine if a vision or event is authentic is whether it is compatible with existing doctrine.  Would that this would also shape current policy!

Another point that stuck out to me is that the Pope has claimed authority to make a final judgement.  This is consistent with the increasingly autocratic rule of Pope Francis, which completely undermines the "Synodal Way," that he's been dragging out for years.  Is it a blind, or just a disordered mind?

Only God knows.

At any rate, I see this is something of a response to the growing spiritual turmoil in the world.  The Enemy is pressing the attack, and overt displays of Satanic beliefs are being mainstreamed.  There are increasing reports of demonic possession and oppression and exorcism seems to be a hot topic.

Indeed, I'm trying to finish a book on the topic, but between grandkids and yard work, reading time is limited and this is also why my posts have been less frequent.  Still, being outside in great weather is a good problem to have.

The return of "No Mow May"

UPDATE:  One of the neighbors has decided to bail out already, and has cut down all the tall grass.  No doubt this was because their toddler is now roaming the year, and I'm sure the mother suddenly realized that tall grass and toddlers don't mix.

There are less signs this year, but No Mow May is  back!

As happened last year, some yards have gone completely to weeds, while others are showcasing their virtue by only letting the right-of-way become overgrown.  The latter strategy is pure Yard Sign Calvinism because it keeps the area around the house nice, tidy, and relatively bug-free, but everyone who walks along the sidewalk gets savaged.  One of the core concepts of Yard Sign Calvinism is you get the salvation while others carry the cross.

Overall, there seems to be less interest.  One of the houses that has gone "all-in" seems to be abandoned.  Another which has signs up indicating it is embracing pollinators, also seems to be occupied on a part-time basis.

Setting all of that aside, the fact is that if one wanted to boost pollinator habitat, one would simply plant more flowers!  We have been doing this and it is not only attractive, but sustains bees for more than a month.  That was also the deal - the pollinators get to spread dandelions for a month, and then they were exterminated.

Here at Chateau Lloyd, we have an abundance of flowering, fruit-producing plants so this is not an issue.  Even so, for aesthetic and functional reasons, this year should see even more flowers going into the ground.

We also don't have to put up a sign to tell everyone about it.

Sequel, Prequel, In-quel: where does it end?

Hollywood is apparently not done with strip-mining J.R.R. Tolkien's literary legacy.  A new film is supposedly in the works based on the life of...Gollum.

Which we already know.  I mean, it's in Lord of the Rings, book the book and both the movies.

This is the state of modern filmmaking: tell the same story again and again.  

Presumably audiences will keep coming back to watch something vaguely familiar, thus assuring a reasonable return on investment.

This is largely enabled by the consolidation that has taken place among studios, which are probably more in lockstep than they ever were in the days of the moguls.  Indeed, the signature feature of the Studio System was its innovation - all of the moguls were self-made men who were creating an industry from scratch.  The current executives are third- or fourth-generation legacy hires.

The good news is that this creates an unprecedented opportunity for independent artists to make some huge scores, and we saw this with Godzilla Minus One.

The bad news is that all media has been consolidated, and there is a concerted (and blatant) effort to restrict access to new content precisely because of the danger it poses.

I'm not sure how this will play out, but as with so many other institutions, my sense is that Hollywood will ultimately fall.  Like a vast ship incapable of course correction, it will inevitably crash.  Nothing is too big to fail.

The United Methodists formally embrace sodomy

I was actually surprised that this was not already the case, but apparently the rump United Methodist Church has now formally declared itself a sodomite worship community.

All manner of sexual perversion is now licit, and of course it's not only licit, but encouraged!   First Things has a nice summary of what happened, and also notes the underhanded way that this was achieved.

I think that's an important aspect of this shift.  For the last two decades, the UMC leadership was actively thwarting attempts to enforce its own rules against deviant behavior.  There was an actual process to change their doctrine, but radicals knew they didn't have the votes, so instead of accepting defeat, they simply used their influence to thwart all attempts at enforcing their own rules.

This included attacking traditionalists, forcing them out of local councils and boards, regardless of their many years of service.  All of this was done in the name of "compassion," of course.

This is classic progressive/woke behavior, Yard Sign Calvinism at its finest because breaking rules is just fine so long as you are part of the elect.  There's also a strong element of justification by rage alone because as always, the righteousness of the cause obviates every nasty thing done in advancing it.

The resounding irony here is that Methodism started as a call to individual holiness, a way of achieving individual perfection through Christ.  The aspirational Methodist did not smoke, drink of swear.  They not only met but exceeded Biblical standards of behavior.

This vote is a resounding repudiation of their faith.  It is a theological purge to ensure that none of the traditionalist can possibly remain in the denomination.  It is an open declaration that the United Methodist Church stands squarely on the side of sexual perversion and license.

I'm old enough to remember people saying that "gay marriage" would actually reinforce Christian values by teaching sexual deviants the virtue of monogamy - as if they needed a scrap of paper to realize the virtue of not banging everyone within reach.

But of course there will be no sanctions against any UMC minister for extra-marital sex.  That would be "judgemental," and I expect the next step will be plural marriage, which after all, is just another exciting experiment in love - and as we all know, "love is love."

I for one welcome the UMC finally being honest about what it stands for.  They have chosen their side, and they will surely receive their reward.

War has no rules

My generation grew  up with a very legalistic, regulated view of war.  As a consequence, I don't think many people understand how utterly raw and lawless war actually is.

In the various contemporary conflicts I see accusations of "war crimes," and with that the expectation that some sort of authority will show up and hand out tickets.  It reminds me of nothing so much as complaining to teacher.

But as William T. Sherman observed more than a century ago, war is cruelty.  Efforts to soften it, "civilize" it or regulate it rarely succeed.  Indeed, the past few decades have illustrated that the more rules are put in place, the more they are bent and twisted to permit what are always considered to be necessary acts.

What really regulates the conduct of war is reciprocity - the understanding that escalation will produce a retaliatory response.  While in many ways more savage than the First World War, WW II did not see the widespread use of poison gas for this reason.  Neither side perceived it as conferring an advantage, so neither used it in anything other than isolated situations (I'm thinking mostly of Japan vs China.)

For the last few decades, wars involving Western nations have never reached the existential levels achieved during World War II.  This has led to a certain level of complacency and the assumption is that Western nations must always observe the laws of war even if the enemy conspicuously does not.  The result is usually military defeat, but one without serious consequences.

This "by the book" mentality also assumes victory is not necessary, and that "managing" the conflict is enough.

But when the stakes become higher, the old rules of reciprocity come back, and it's interesting to note that all of the agreements respecting laws of war were originally based on this principle.  If the enemy uses hospitals as ammunition dumps, they cease to be protected areas.  If the enemy refuses to wear uniforms, that the line between military and civilian is likewise eliminated.

No amount of international condemnation or hand-writing by various non-governmental organizations will change this.

Not all wars are savage, and in both of my books, I noted instances of remarkable restraint and mercy, but such things are the exception rather than the rule.

Oh, and the notion that enemy populations have a "human right" to food?  Utterly without historical foundation.  The oldest - and arguably most effective - siege tactic is starvation.  At some point, the garrison either submits or is too weak to resist.  Food has always been a weapon since the days of the hunter-gatherers.  It would be well for people to understand this.

Watching a little classic Star Trek

One of the great things about having TV shows on DVD is that they are often the perfect choice for an early evening.  When you strip out the commercials, classic TV programs run about 46 minutes, allowing you to sneak in an episode just before bed.

Some years ago I acquired the first two seasons of Star Trek and plan on finally picking up the third.   The franchise, like the original cast, is all but dead, but the show has aged surprisingly well.

I'm sure a lot of Trekkies may regard the machismo of Kirk as cringe-worthy, but I think values of the time - women and men are different and should be used for different things - still holds up.

What hasn't aged well is the utopian belief that science and "bad beliefs" will have faded in the future.  Indeed, the best episodes are the ones that center on human (or Vulcan) nature.   "Amok Time," for example, is a wonderful display of passion, anger and treachery.

Yeah, there are continuity problems, the writers had trouble keeping their tech lore straight and - to repeat - I've not watched the third season, which had some true clunkers.

But for all that, the cast really was quite solid, mostly older, bit-part types who nevertheless threw everything they had into their roles.

It's kind of funny how much Star Trek has faded, both for me and the larger culture.  No, I never got into the weird cosplay aspect of the fandom, but I read many of the novels, watched the movies and for a while considered myself in the upper echelons of the fandom.  What really turned me off was The Next Generation, which I did not like, and I generally ignored the subsequent iterations of the show.  I guess that makes me something of a purist, and I'm fine with that.

The call to conversion

British comedian Russell Brand has announced his intention to be baptized this Sunday.  He is the latest in a series of celebrities to convert (or revert) to Christianity.  Apparently Hulk Hogan and his family have been baptized, along with a smattering of people I'm only vaguely aware of (but am assured are famous).  Shia LeBeouf has followed through with his pledge to enter the Catholic Church, and he has been joined by political commentator Candace Owens and Tammy Peterson, the wife of Dr. Jordan.

Is it opportunism or sincerity?  Perhaps it is a mixture of both.  One could argue that "finding religion" is a someone worn-out trope in American culture, typically the result of having destroyed all other career opportunities.  Everyone loves a redemption story.

However, the culture has never been more hostile to people of faith.  It's interesting that Kanye West has gone from church-like Sunday concerts to contemplating building a pornography empire.  Satanic imagery and overt denigration of Christ has never been more popular.

As Brand himself has observed, there's something deeply wrong with the world right now, with every institution crumbling into ineffectiveness if not a tool of downright oppression.  The Catholic Church is not immune to this, however the strange diktats coming out from the Vatican seem to be producing the opposite of the intended effect.  Both the laity and the clergy are becoming more stridently orthodox, decisively proving that the Church is more than its leadership.

I think people are realizing the reality of spiritual warfare.  Technology - once held as the solution to the mysteries of faith - has been exposed as a mindless recording of our follies, spitting nonsense back at us even as it tries to lock us into a virtual reality of endless depravity.

At the same time, the allure of Yard Sign Calvinism is wearing off.  Oh, the signs are still up, the virtue signalling continues, but as the situation deteriorates, there are more pressing issues than asserting "love is love" or that "science is real."  The latter is actually becoming a problem because so much of science has been shown to be false, from the effectiveness of masks against Covid to treating gender dysphoria with medical mutilation. 

As is their wont, humans have erected new gods, which have predictably failed.  It should not be surprising that a number of them (perhaps a remnant?) should turn to the true God as a result.

An aggressive spring routine

I'm not posted at the normal rate and the reason is quite simple: spring is here! 

Last year I hoped I would be able to make some major improvements in the yard and the exterior of the house, but erratic weather patterns and a host of other distractions not only kept me from achieving my goals, it caused me to fall short of basic maintenance in many respects.

This year is quite different.  While things didn't go as I wanted, I was able to make some gains and I am able to springboard off of that this year.  Perhaps the biggest one was getting the garden re-established.  While my harvest was disappointing, the work of breaking up soil, putting up the anti-critter defense and the experience gained in irrigation has got me in a much better place.

I also picked up an electric roto-tiller, and I think this thing is going to be a game changer.

The trees along the back boundary are also coming along, which means a lot of the weeds are going to shaded out.  During one of the mid-winter thaws, I also stole a march on cutting back the wild raspberries as well as cutting down brush. 

In other words - I'm away from the keyboard more than usual.  Once I get the soil prepped, the seeds planted, and other trimming and pruning done, I'll likely have more time