I am sad to report that Pelican Publishing Company publisher DrMilburn Calhoun passed away yesterday at the age of  81.

Calhoun’s literary career began when he founded Bayou Books, a rare books shop. In 1970, he and family members acquired Pelican Publishing Company, a small New Orleans book publishing company.

Under his leadership, the Pelican backlist has grown to more than 2,500 titles and maintains an international presence in the industry.

Pelican’s titles focus on regional culture, food, music and architecture.

In 1973, at the threshold of the national interest in Cajun culture, Pelican published “A Cajun Night Before Christmas,” a retelling of Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas poem in a Cajun dialect and setting.The book was a minor phenomenon. It spun off a continuing series of children’s titles and launched Pelican’s children’s book division.

Dr. Calhoun was a graduate of the LSU School of Medicine.

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And So It Begins…

Ready and willing… or not, the New Year is upon us. The detritus of the past clings to us, stubbornly reminding us that although the New Year; with its promise of a new beginning, does not mean the end of all the threads of projects unfinished, relationships left unresolved, the hyenas baying at the gates or the woes that plague us in the dark of night.

Making A List, Checking It Twice

We make lists and resolve that we will do better ‘this year’. We avow to clean up the old messes before we start anew. We look at the pile of manuscripts collecting dust in the side drawer of our desk, the stack of rejection letters yellowing at the bottom of the inbox, the stacks of books lying idly about: some half-read and others ignored and collecting dust, the reminders of over-due bills and the collection of unfinished crafts projects and broken toys stuffed carelessly in boxes in the corner of the spare room.

… And then lunge ahead with reckless abandon like a child with a new toy on Christmas morning, to something new and shiny and exciting, all the while hoping and praying we won’t trip and fall as we leap over the past and into the future.

As Orson Wells once noted…

“Let us pray!”

A flash from my own past.

A scene from not all that long ago and yet it seems several lifetimes. Yet I find I can without thought bring this and many similar images to mind without having to close my eyes. I can still smell the stink of kerosene, JP4, WD40 and Carbon Tetrachloride and feel the hundreds of tiny vibrations that rippled through my body each time we took to the air.

My body remembers the aches from seemingly endless hours strapped into those ejection seats, my mind waring between praying I’d never have to pull that handle while at the same time praying the damn thing would work if I needed it to, and being thankful for a crew-chief who gave a damn about the airplane around us. 

Today is Veterans Day, a day we take to pause and remember those who went before us, to thank those who served with us, and to say Thank You to those who serve now.

Regardless of which branch of the armed forces you served in or currently serve, I wish you all safe skies, fair winds and following seas, and may we truly have peace on earth and goodwill to all.

Andrew Aitken Rooney was born on Jan. 14, 1919, in Albany, the son of Walter and Ellinor Rooney. His father was in the newspaper business. After his graduation from Albany Academy, he worked as a copy boy for The Knickerbocker News before attending Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y., where he played left guard on the football team (even though he was only 5-foot-9 and 185 pounds) and worked for the weekly newspaper, The Colgate Maroon.

In 1941, three months before Pearl Harbor, he was drafted into the Army and used his powers of persuasion to get himself assigned to Stars and Stripes. He did not know much about reporting, but he learned his craft by working with journalists like Homer Bigart, Ernie Pyle and Walter Cronkite.

He became a sergeant, flew on some bombing missions, covered the invasion of France in 1944 and won a Bronze Star for reporting under fire during the battle of Saint-Lô in Normandy. A year later, he was among the first Americans to enter the concentration camps at Buchenwald and Thekla, Germany.

In collaboration with Bud Hutton, a Stars and Stripes colleague, Mr. Rooney wrote two books: “Air Gunner” (1944), a collection of sketches of Americans who had been stationed in Britian, and “The Story of the Stars and Stripes” (1946).

After his discharge, Mr. Rooney returned to Albany and worked as a freelance writer.

He entered television in 1949, writing material for entertainers like Arthur Godfrey, Victor Borge, Herb Shriner, Sam Levenson and Garry Moore. Beginning in 1962, he had a six-year association with the CBS News correspondent Harry Reasoner, who narrated a series of Everyman “essays” written by Mr. Rooney. He also wrote scripts for “The Twentieth Century,” a documentary series narrated by Walter Cronkite.

In the early 1970s, after briefly working for PBS, Mr. Rooney returned to CBS and began appearing on camera in a series of specials, one of which, “Mr. Rooney Goes to Washington,” won a Peabody Award, and led to “A Few Minutes With Andy Rooney,” his weekly segment on “60 Minutes.”

The segment made him one of the most popular broadcast figures in the country. With his jowls, bushy eyebrows, deeply circled eyes and advancing years, he seemed every inch the homespun philosopher as he addressed mostly mundane subjects with varying degrees of befuddlement, vexation and sometimes pleasure.

Andy admitted to loving football, Christmas, tennis, woodworking and Dwight D. Eisenhower, one of the few politicians who won his approval because, as an Army general during World War II, he had refused to censor the Stars and Stripes.

He also claimed to like shined shoes and properly pressed pants, although somehow he always managed to look rumpled.

Over the years, Andy Rooney became better known for the things he did not like.

He railed against “two-prong plugs in a three-prong society,” the incomprehensibility of road maps, wash-and-wear shirts “that you can wash but not wear,” the uselessness of keys and locks, and outsize cereal boxes that contained very little cereal.

“I don’t like any music I can’t hum,” he grumbled.

He observed that “there are more beauty parlors than there are beauties” and that “if dogs could talk, it would take a lot of the fun out of owning one.”

He made clear that he thought Gen. George S. Patton and Ernest Hemingway, both of whom he had known personally, were gasbags. He disliked New Year’s Eve, waiting in line for any reason and the bursars at whatever colleges his children attended.

On the subject of higher education, he declared that most college catalogs “rank among the great works of fiction of all time,” and that a student of lackluster intellect who could raise tuition money would find it “almost impossible to flunk out.”

Time magazine once called him “the most felicitous nonfiction writer in television.”

Andy Rooney was decidedly not everyone’s cup of tea. He was as outspoken about CBS, his longtime employer, as he was about everything else.

He made no secret of his dislike for Laurence A. Tisch, the network’s chief executive from 1986 to 1995. Protesting Mr. Tisch’s cost efficiencies and job cuts in 1987, Mr. Rooney said CBS News “has been turned into primarily a business enterprise, and the moral enterprise has been lost,” and he threatened to quit if a writers strike against CBS News was not settled.

Although his commentary was mostly written for CBS News, he also had a syndicated newspaper column for three decades, for which he was given a lifetime achievement award in 2003 by the National Society of Newspaper Columnists.

That same year he received a similar award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. He published a number of books, primarily collections of his commentaries, most recently “Out of My Mind” (2006), “And More by Andy Rooney” (2008) and “Andy Rooney: 60 Years of Wisdom and Wit” (2010).

Rooney frequently said he considered himself “one of the least important producers on television” because his specialty was light pieces. “I just wish insignificance had more stature,” he once said.

But he put things in perspective in his 1,097th and last regularly scheduled “60 Minutes” appearance.

“I’ve done a lot of complaining here,” he said then, “but of all the things I’ve complained about, I can’t complain about my life.”

Andy Rooney died late Friday evening of complications from surgery. He was 92.

There’s been a great hullabaloo about “the Battery Problem” with the new iPhone 4S. Lot’s of stink and griping about yet another lousy product from Apple.

Sadly, a lot of those making the noise are industry professionals who should know better, but don’t seem to care. Never mind the problems galore that devices using Google’s Android operating system, or Microsoft’s mobile device OS seem to routinely suffer.

It’s all about bashing one of the top technology companies in the world just because it’s Apple.

If anyone had really been paying attention to ‘the problem’ and not the symptom, it might have dawned on them that all devices currently running iOS 5.0 were being affected . Which means iPads, iPods and iPhones. Even those already owned and only recently upgraded to the new iOS version… were suddenly having the same problem!

Which means, folks, that the problem is not in the hardware. So can we stop griping about the battery… please?

Where the problem is… is in the power management routines in the Operating System… caused by the enabling of features in the hardware that until now had been purposely left  switched ‘off’… because the functions weren’t enabled in previous releases of iOS.

This is intelligent product life-cycle planning. Building in features and functions you know you want to include but not enabling functionality because you’re going to turn it and other features on in future releases of the operating system.

In my opinion, this is a nice bonus for the device owner as it certainly goes along way in proving the ROI on cost-of-ownership. It is not ‘ building a fat product full of useless technology’.

… unlike some products on the marketplace that obsolesce as soon as a ‘new and improved’ product is released because they don’t bother to think past now, or don’t give a damn about the cash-cow … I mean, the end-user.

As a systems engineer, I have first hand experience with just how touchy it can be to get it ‘just right’ … and it can go wrong so easily. With a major OS release there are thousands of potential problems that can come back to bite you.

Thankfully, the problem’s been found, the code’s been fixed and is being tested, and soon the symptom will go away. Apple does a fantastic job of it, thanks in part to it’s corporate culture, but also to the dedication of its engineers and designers to product quality.

And just a note to the whiners: I’ve run into power management issues on products from every manufacturer of laptop, notebook and mobile device manufactured over the past twenty plus years.

…and I expect to see more of them in the future.

I’ll tell you why later.

The Outer Alliance is a group of SF/F writers who have come together as allies for the advocacy of LGBT issues in literature. Made up of individuals of all walks of life, our goal is to educate, support, and celebrate LGBT contributions in the science-fiction and fantasy genres.

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