Thursday, October 23, 2008

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

Then Almitra spoke again and said, And what of Marriage, master?
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other's keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow.

(Kahlil Gibran; The Prophet)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

I, For One, Welcome Our New Alien Overlords

So apparently today is the day the Federation of Light will appear in our skies.

Hmmm...the Land Down Under is several hours ahead of us...I wonder if they've all been snatched, already, so that is why I don't see any news...

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Space Review

In the current issue of The Space Review, a few items of interest: Claude Lafluer continues his look at the crossroads looming for space exploration. Taylor Dinerman looks at space commercialization and some recent problems in the corporate sector. Jeff Foust looks at rocket racing. When will it take off? How about when the economy recovers! And Dwayne A. Day looks at China and India. Those crowded skies...

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

The Space Review

In the current issue of The Space Review, you might find the following of interest: Taylor Dinerman looks at the ISS (will it ever grow beyond being an engineering project?). Claude Lafleur (part 1) looks at the future of space exploration (depressing). The missing 12 minutes of Explorer 1. Signs of a new physics or something more mundane? Jeff Foust looks at another book on solar sailing. Cool!

Monday, October 06, 2008

The Mad Dash

The new course brought the great wind almost on to the frigate's quarter, and methodically he began spreading her canvas. They had long since swayed up the topmasts, though not of course the topgallants, and he gave her a little high storm-jib first, then the main staysail, then instead of the close-reefed maintopsail the maintopmast staysail. Each time he paused for the Surprise to take up the full force of the new thrust: this she did with immense spirit, with the buoyant living grace which so moved his heart—never was such a ship—and when she was moving perhaps as fast as she had ever moved, with her lee cathead well under the foam of her bow-wave, he laid one hand on the hances, feeling the deep note of her hull as he might have felt the vibrations of his fiddle, and the other on a backstay, gauging the exact degree of strain.

They were used to the Captain; they had nearly all of them seen him cracking on like smoke and oakum and they were pretty nearly sure he had not finished. But no man had expected his call for the forecourse itself and it was with grave, anxious faces that they jumped to their task. It took fifty-seven men to haul the foresheet aft, to tally and belay; and as the strain increased so the Surprise heeled another strake, another and yet another, until she showed a broad streak of copper on her windward side, while the howl in the rigging rose shriller and shriller, almost to the breaking note. And there she steadied, racing through the sea and flinging a bow-wave so high to leeward that the sun sent back a double rainbow. Discreet cheering started forward and spread aft: everybody on the quarterdeck was grinning.

'Watch your dog-vane,' said Jack to the helmsman. 'If you once let her be brought by the lee, you will never see Portsmouth Point again. Mr Howard, pray let your men line the weather gangway...'

(Patrick O'Brian, The Far Side of the World)
Those Darned Horns

I've pretty much considered myself an independent. Or a centrist. I have beliefs that can be tagged pretty liberal and beliefts that can be tagged pretty conserative. I think most people are like this, neither black or white, but shades of grey, a combination of many political views.

So, I've never registered with either of the two parties or voted consistently either way. This is, despite one sister-in-law that always states that I vote Republican or hold Republican views. Or the firm belief of one ex-employer who was convinved that I had to be a card-carrying Democrat. The truth is, I voted pretty much Democrat for President until Al Gore lost his mind after he lost the election and started flopping around like a dead fish. The refusal to condone Bill Clinton and his zipper (as well as some of his utterly stupid foreign policy and economic decisions) also helped me to change my mind, so I voted Republican for President during W's second term. Maybe I should have just voted for Carter again, as they both seem to be cut from the same cloth, at times (yes, I know there's a time gap there).

On a local level, I'll vote Democrat, Republican or just about anything else.

This time around? Well, with the wingnuts on both side running things (and running), I'm really on the fence. Or on the horns. Sorry, folks, but both sides have major problems with their candidates, positions, past, running mates, etc. Both sides are a great example of how stupid most politicians have become of late.

If only my dream ticket were running. Joe Lieberman and Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg/Lieberman or Lieberman/Bloomberg. Would it matter which was which? Maybe they could swap every six months. Or co-rule, sort of like ancient Sparta with two kings. They both speak their mind and seem to be less tolerant with the party hogswallow that the candidates kow-tow to. But, it ain't happening this time around. So I sit on the horns. Hey, is Ralph Nader running again? How about Gerry Brown?
Everything Old is New Again

GPS? Pah! Who needs it?
Two Runs Through

What do you get after reading all the Sherlock Holmes through twice in a row? If you have drawing talent, a pretty sweet map of Holmes' digs.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Like, Should I Give A Flying Fig?

Headline spotted today:

Taliban Said To Be Furious Over US Missile Strike

So? I think I'm furious about a few things the Taliban have helped out on. So, like I said: should I give a flying fig what they are furious about? Let's help a few more on their way to their 72 virgins.

Migratory Patterns of the Unladen Swallow

Dr Maturin walked into the Entomological Society's meeting as the Reverend Mr Lamb began his paper on Certain Non-Descript Beetles found on the Shore at Pringle-juxta-Mare in the Year 1799. He sat down at the back and listened closely for a while; but presently the gentleman strayed from his theme (as everyone had known he would) and began to harangue the gathering on the hibernation of swallows; for he had found a new prop for his theory - not only did they fly in ever-decreasing circles, conglobulate in a mass and plunge to the bottoms of quiet ponds, but they also took refuge in the shafts of tin-mines, 'of Cornish tin-mines, gentlemen!'

(Patrick O'Brian, HMS Surprise)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

The Xeelee Incursion

As one commentator notes, the Xeelee are at it again!
Drake's Surprise

David Drake has published his latest newsletter. His paths cross with another favorite author, Patrick O'Brian:

Visiting the vessel which was used as the Surprise in the film Master and Commander was unexpectedly moving. Jim Baen got me started reading Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series (the direct genesis of my RCN space operas); he and I touched frequently on them when we chatted, right to the end. I kept thinking as I took pictures that I'd really like to burble to Jim about this... and I would.

Well, we burbled a lot to one another while we were able to. For those of you who haven't learned the lesson the hard way, remember that you don't have anybody forever. Deal with other people so that you won't have regrets at the moment you realize that either you or the other fellow isn't going to be around any more.

Picture here.

Lost on Land

'Well now, sir,' said Bonden, glancing over his shoulder and shooting the boat through a gap between a mob of small craft and the outer buoy. He did not speak again for some while, and when he did it was to say in an obstinate, contentious voice, 'They can talk to me about Captain Seymour and Lord Cochrane and Captain Hoste and all the rest of them, but I say our skipper's the finest fighting captain in the fleet; and I served under Lord Viscount Nelson, didn't I? I'd like to see the man that denies it. Who wiped a Spanish frigate's eye in a fourteen-gun brig, and made her strike? Who fought the Polychrest till she sunk under him, and swapped her for a corvette cut out from right under their guns?'

'I know, Bonden,' said Stephen mildly. 'I was there.'

'Who set about a French seventy-four in a twenty-eight gun frigate?' cried Bonden, angrier still. 'But then,' he went on in quite another tone, low and confidential, 'when we're ashore, sometimes we're a little at sea, if you understand me, sir. Which, being as straight as a die, we sometimes believe them quick-talking coves are dead honest too, with their patent knees and braces and goddamn silver-mines, pardon the expression, sir. Now 'tis natural for any captain to think his command the finest ship that ever was: but sometimes, being stuffed up with knees and braces, we might perhaps think her finer than is quite reason, and believe it and say it too, without a lie.'

(Patrick O'Brian, Desolation Island)
Kissing Nature

"Oh, a fish...A flying-fish hit me in the face!"

(Patrick O'Brian)

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fred's Reading Report (September 2008)

Fall is in the air, and books and tales continue to be read. Where am I for the year?

71 books for the year-to-date. The biggest amount of reading has been the works of Patrick O'Brian. I've read most of the series before this, some books as many as six or eight times (now more). This is my first attempt to read the entire series, from end-to-end without stopping much between volumes.

I have to laugh during this reading as I recently read a description (on a SF discussion board) of the series as one in which people talk a lot but do nothing. Good gravy! Ships sink. People die. Characters grow. Babies are born. Music is played. Food is eaten. Nations fight each other. I have a feeling that the person making the remark must have had no experience with the books.

September's books were:

Dan Abnett: Two books in the Eisenhorn omnibus.

Greg Bear: The Forge of God (still owe SF Signal a review of this one!).

Ernle Bradford: Thermopylae: The Battle for the West.

Jere Longman: Among the Heroes.

Andre Norton: The Stars Are Ours!

Patrick O'Brian: H.M.S. Surprise, The Mauritius Command, Desolation Island.

Travis S. Taylor: Warp Speed.

Eric S. Trautmann: The Art of Halo: Creating a Virtual World.

Various: Halo: The Graphic Novel.

Jack Williamson: The Legion of Space.

527 short works to date. My goal was for 365 short works, one for each day of the year. I've gone way past that, obviously, and continue to increase the number. Watch the skies!