Monday, December 01, 2014

Moving! Redux!

Just an FYI that I am moving the blog. I kept running into dead links among older postings. Rather than hunt-and-peck and fix bit by bit, I am in the process of moving to a new blog to make it easier to clean up dead links, edit as needed, delete posts that no longer apply and the like.

So visit me at Bernal Alpha. New posts! Old posts migrating!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Space Review

In the current issue of The Space Review, a few items of interest. Jeff Foust looks at the golden age we live in (for exoplanet science). Dwayne Day looks back at the GAMBIT orbital reconaissance satellite. Anthony Young discusses the Senate Launch System and how it is driving research into "rebooting" the venerable F-1 engine used on the Saturn V. Finally, Jeff Foust looks at the shuttles on display.

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a a short video from NASA's Solar Dynamic Observatory, soaking in the rays while orbiting the Sun.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Did Carl Sagan Ever Have This Conversation?

Yes I have a lot of books. I've never had a conversation like this, though.
Still Life with Star Dust

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice shot of NGC 2170, located in the constellation of Monoceros. Emission nebula, absorption nebula, stars and more.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Galaxies, Cluster and Nebula

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 602, a star cluster within the Small Magellanic Cloud. Also visible are the dust and gas that contributed to the birth of the star cluster. Beyond (seemingly within) is a galaxy. Oh, and another...and another...and another...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Brother, Can You Spare $800.00?

Not as cool as getting Harlan Ellison's typewriter, but wouldn't this be nifty?

Once the area of science fiction, we now see more and more proof of the existence of extrasolar planets. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a graph built from the data from NASA's Kepler observatory. Models predict ten billion "Earths". Ten. Billion. Now, there are some caveats to the prediction (such as where these planets orbit), but I'll bet this turns out to be a lowball figure.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Cluster (I Won't Mention Eno)

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the Fornax cluster of galaxies, a tight grouping of galaxies in this southern hemisphere constellation. The cluster is also a collection of the evolutionary stages of galaxies: spiral, elliptical, etc.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bullet Time

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day depicts "cosmic bullets" in the Orion Nebula. What are these? The text talks about shock-heated hydrogen gas, a natural process.

I suggest an alternative.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Pay It Forward

We are coming up on the second anniversary of the death of my father-in-law, Anthony Sarcich (to cancer) and the third anniversary of the death of my father to a different debilitating disease.

One thing that we experienced, and we are still grappling with and recovering from, is the absolutely exhausting way a family gets as a result of dealing with everything around a disease.

Really, folks: our society sucks at helping out those with a major illness. Support networks? Where?

Both my father and my father-in-law were extremely lucky in once sense: they both could utilize medical benefits that they had from their jobs, even into retirement, plus governmental plans.

Others are not so lucky. Self-employed folks, like, say, writers. In addition to depending entirely on their own production for money to pay the bills for insurance, they are socked with outrageous fees to pay for these inadequate plans.

The stress does not end there. They must also navigate the dangerous shoals of all the rules and by-laws for these plans. And put up with silly stuff like this.

Done reading that? Does your mind boggle as much as mine? I hope so.

Folks, Jay Lake is facing enough as it is. He really doesn't need to deal with silly horseshit like this. Let's all get together and at least give him some peace of mine when it comes to the money end of things. I kicked in $100.00 (see below for additional efforts). Could you please hit the "donate" button on his site to help him fight the stupidity of the insurance industry as well as help to pay for what little benefits he gets?

Please get the word out and please consider donating directly (please see his site here, and hit the "tip jar" link in the upper left hand corner). Jay has given us endless hours of entertainment and education, both through his books and through his panels at conventions, participation in interviews, and courses and seminars. Let's pay it forward!

MAJOR UPDATE: "There is now a effort by a number of genre folks to help Jay out. You can win rewards! Tobias S. Buckell will unlock his earliest tale or drink Scotch! Mary Robinette Kowal will put an...interesting...spin on one of her stories! And many more levels all the way up to: Neil Gaiman will perform a cover version of a song from the Magnetic Fields album "69 Love Songs"!

I kicked in an additional $200.00 to this effort on top of my initial $100.00 contribution. I'm not saying this to boast, but to show you how serious I am about this. That's $300.00 worth of books I won't be buying...

Please click on this link for details and give until you laugh!

UPDATE! 41% of the first $10K ($20K to get Neil Gaiman). THANK YOU ALL!

UPATE AGAIN! You people are amazing. Jay Lake thinks so as well.

Update: Jay Lake writes about the fund drive.

Update: Jay Lake writes more about the fund drive.

Update on funding on January 12, 2013: $38,697!!!! Fantastic job, everyone!

Thank you.

Update: Rewards of Whimsey!!!

Some of the rewards are rolling in.

$2,000: Tobias Buckell contributes an early effort of writing.

$3,000: Forthcoming (more madness with Tobias Buckell).

$4,000: Mary Robinette Kowal reads classic they are a phone sex recording.

$6,000: Jim Hines reads an early work of epic fantasy (put down the drinks, but stay for the whole 40 minutes!).

$7,000: Elizabeth Bear and Scott Lynch perform a Jay Lake story...with sock puppets!

$8,000: Seanan McGuire does filking (forthcoming).

$9,000: Paul Cornell sings Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights (warning: put down the drinks). BONUS AT THIS LEVEL: Mary Robinette Kowal follows up on Paul Cornell's effort by doing a "beat reading" of the You Tube transcript.

$10,000: Cherie Priest dresses up her pets. Call it a work in progress (more forthcoming?)

$12,000: The creators of the Jay Lake documentary will unveil a comic short (forthcoming).

$15,000: A lost Bob Dylan song performed by John Scalzi.

$17,500: A surprise from Patrick Rothfuss reveals his high school novel.

$20,000: Neil Gaiman to perform a cover from the Magnetic Fields album 69 Love Songs whilst accompanying himself on the Ukulele (forthcoming).

$25,000: Seanan McGuire returns at this level to reboot Veronica Mars as a Shakespearean tragedy (forthcoming).

$30,000: A radio play version of one of Jay Lake's stories (forthcoming).

$32,000: C.E. Murphy reads from her first novel (forthcoming).

$35,000: Cory Doctorow unlocks his head. Seriously, I do not know what to make of this one (forthcoming). (Addendum to the Addendum: John Scalzi has some helpful hints.)

$37,000: Howard Tayler will draw Jay Lake kicking cancer's ass. Updated with a video of the picture's creation!

$40,000: ANOTHER SURPRISE (almost unlocked at this point!).


Addendum: SF Signal's interview with Jay is worth a listen.
Dog Walk

Waning clipped fingernail crescent;
Rising low in eastern sky;
Snuggling under blanket of fog.
Jellyfish Hunting

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a part of IC 443, popularly known as the Jellyfish Nebula. The tagline at the site calls it "elusive". Believe me, under my suburban skies, that applies to many nebula!

Tuesday, January 08, 2013


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of NGC 7424, a face-on spiral galaxy in the constellation of Grus (yes, Grus).

Monday, January 07, 2013

Flaming Star

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows AE Aurigae and its surrounding environs, the Flaming Star Nebula. AE Aurigae is energetic, and does a beautiful job of lighting up the surrounding dust and gas.