Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Unfinished Quest

The man who wrote about 100 things to do before you die did not complete his quest.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

No Means No

After 8:00 PM the doorbell rang. It was a guy in a red shirt and a badge named Steve and he said he was from our telephone company.

He wanted to sell me their fiber optic service. I said we weren't interested. My reply was: "I told the first salesman why I wasn't interested. I did not feel a need to repeat myself to the next four. I am not effing (to clean it up) interested in effing explaining it again."

I then slammed the door in his face. I should have let OldDog (Mark 2.0 and NewDog (Mark 4.0) out to "greet" him.

I then called his employer to ask why they had people ringing doorbells after 8:00 PM. Maybe it's time for a new telephone company.
Chief vs. Chief

Continuing my interest in all things HALO (even though I've never played the game, just collected some figures, bought some books, and played some music), here is a view of the Master Chief vs. a view of the Master Chief. Remember that history is written by the victor!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Too Tall

In We Were Soldiers Once...And Young, we met a pair of characters (real people who are real unique, that is), Ed "Too Tall to Fly" Freeman and Bruce (Ancient Serpent) Crandall. Both were entitled to wear the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Joe Galloway, who was a direct witness to the events of the battle depicted in the book writes of the passing of "Too Tall".

Monday, August 18, 2008

Poul Anderson's Technic Civilization in Seven Easy Lessons

First there was one. Then there was three. Now comes the news that Baen Books has negotiated the rights to the entire Technic Civilization series by Poul Anderson. Seen volumes of crunchy hard science fiction goodness! For the first time since, well ever, we're going to see the entire tale, from beginning to end (with even a story that never made it between book covers!) from one publisher.

All hail Toni Weisskopf (Baen's publisher)! All hail Hank Davis (the Baen editor overseeing the project)!

Feast your peepers on what's in store...

Volume I: The Van Rijn Method
“Introduction: Planets and Profits” by Hank Davis
“The Saturn Game” (novella)
“Wings of Victory” (short story)
“The Problem of Pain” (short story)
“Margin of Profit” (novella)
“How to be Ethnic in One Easy Lesson” (short story)
“The Three-Cornered Wheel” (novella)
“A Sun Invisible”(novella )
“The Season of Forgiveness” (short story)
The Man Who Counts (novel, a.k.a. War of the Wing-Men)
“Esau” (short story)
“Hiding Place” (novella)
“Chronology of Technic Civilization” by Sandra Miesel

Volume II: David Falkayn: Star Trader
“Introduction (subtitle to come) by Hank Davis
“Territory” (novella)
“The Trouble Twisters” (novella)
“Day of Burning” (novella)
“The Master Key” (novella)
Satan’s World (novel)
“A Little Knowledge” (short story)
“Lodestar” (novella)
“Chronology of Technic Civilization” by Sandra Miesel

Volume III: Rise of the Terran Empire
Mirkheim (novel, last appearance of van Rijn)
“Wingless” (short story)
“Rescue on Avalon” (short story)
“The Star Plunderer” (novella)
“Sargasso of Lost Starships” (novella)
The People of the Wind (novel)
“Chronology of Technic Civilization” by Sandra Miesel

Volume IV: (Young Flandry)
Ensign Flandry (novel)
A Circus of Hells (novel)
The Rebel Worlds (novel)
“Chronology of Technic Civilization” by Sandra Miesel

Volume V (Captain Flandry: Defender of the Terran Empire)
“Outpost of Empire” (a non-Flandry novella)
The Day of Their Return (a non-Flandry novel)
“Tiger by the Tail” (a Flandry novelet)
“Honorable Enemies” (a Flandry novelet)
“The Game of Glory” (a Flandry novelet)
“A Message in Secret” (a Flandry novella — published in paperback by Ace as Mayday Orbit)
“Chronology of Technic Civilization” by Sandra Miesel

Volume VI (Sir Dominic Flandry: The Last Knight of Terra)
“The Plague of Masters” (a Flandry novel — published in paperback by Ace as Earthman, Go Home!)
“Hunters of the Sky Cave” (a Flandry novel — published in Amazing Stories as A Handful of Stars and in paperback by Ace as We Claim These Stars!)
“Warriors from Nowhere” (a Flandry novelet)
A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows (a Flandry novel)
“Chronology of Technic Civilization” by Sandra Miesel

Volume VII (Flandry’s Legacy)
A Stone in Heaven (a Flandry novel)
The Game of Empire (a novel with Flandry’s last appearance, but mainly involving his daughter)
“A Tragedy of Errors” (a novella set during the Long Night)
“The Night Face” (a novella, though published twice by Ace as a novel, the first time under the title Let the Earthmen Beware, expanded from the shorter version, “A Twelvemonth and a Day” in Fantastic Universe)
“The Sharing of Flesh (a novelet)
“Starfog” (a novella)
“Chronology of Technic Civilization” by Sandra Miesel

NOTE: The novels and stories which appeared in the following previously-published story collections have been redistributed in the above seven volumes:

Trader to the Stars (Doubleday, later a Berkley paperback)
The Trouble Twisters (Doubleday, later a Berkley paperback)
The Earth Book of Stormgate (Putnam, later a Berkley paperback)
Flandry of Terra (Chilton, later an Ace paperback)
Agent of the Terran Empire (Chilton, later an Ace paperback)
The Long Night (Tor)
Flandry (Baen)

What a series! What a collection! If you've never encountered this series before, you are in for a treat!
The Space Review

The current issue of The Space Review has three articles of note. In the first, Taylor Dinerman describes the possibility of using a object from the Oort Cloud as a platform for a extended space mission. Greg Anderson wonders why governments want to be involved in space exploration. And, Bob Clarebrough urges private space to be less grandiose and more specific.
Twin Sons of a Different Mother

I never realized how much Wall-E resembled Stephen Hawking until I saw this.

Take a look at this enlarged picture of a stepwell (really big version here). How Escheresque!!!

Saturday, August 16, 2008


A long-lost "classic" of television SF is coming to DVD (can Logan's Run and Max Headroom be far behind? And what of Salvage 1?). Sure hope I can find a better price, though!
Think Blue, Count Two

The official Cordwainer Smith site has a new look. "Smith's" daughter is also doing a blog. His Instrumentality of Mankind stories are among my favorites, stop on by and maybe you'll get hooked as well!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Doctor's Visit

Well, the sickness continues so it is off to the doctor!

Update: Just getting back home. It turned into an emergency room visit. Seems there's a bug going around...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Tie Mate

'Don't you know what a tie-mate is, cully?' asked the seaman with tolerant scorn. The landsman shook his heavy head: there were already seventeen thousand things he did not know, and their number increased, daily. 'Well, you know what a pigtail is?' asked the seaman, showing his own, a massive queue that reached his buttocks, and speaking loud, as to a fool or a foreigner. The landsman nodded, looking a little more intelligent. 'Which it has to be unplaited, washed on account of the lice, combed, and plaited again for muster. And can you do it yourself, behind your back? Not in time for muster, mate. Not in time for Kingdom Come, neither. So you get a friend, like me and Billy Pitt, to do yours, you sitting on a cheese of wads at your ease, or maybe a bucket turned arsy-versy; and then you do his: for fair's fair, I say. And that is what we call tie-mates."

''I heard of that Billy Pitt of yours,' said the landsman, narrowing his eyes.

(Patrick O'Brian, The Commodore)
Sick Day!

The young lady is not feeling well, so no work (probably) for pay today.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Intelligent Design

"They'll think I've lost control again and put it all down to evolution."

(The Supreme Being, Time Bandits)

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Space Review

In the current issue of The Space Review, a couple of interesting items. Stephen Metschan argues that the alternative to Constellation, the DIRECT approach, is the way to go. More, from Jeff Foust, on the "switch" in candidate Barack Obama's space policy. And, finally, Jeff Foust shows that the debate over whether Pluto is a planet or far from over!
Oh Noes, Not Another Meme!

John D at SF Signal, probably in revenge for my nitpicking habits, has "tagged" me with a meme. Box Office Mojo has released a list of movies made from's my SF movie rating, I guess.

Entries bolded are ones where I've read the book.
Entries italicized are ones where I couldn't make it through the book.
For giggles, entries underlined are ones where I couldn't make it through the movie.

And, I'm annoying five more people by tagging them at the end.

Jurassic Park
War of the Worlds
The Lost World: Jurassic Park
I, Robot

The Stepford Wives
The Time Machine
Starship Troopers
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

2010 (no 2001?)
The Running Man
The Mothman Prophecies

Blade Runner(Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?)
The Island of Dr. Moreau
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
The Iron Giant(The Iron Man)
Battlefield Earth
The Incredible Shrinking Woman (I've read The Shrinking Man)
Fire in the Sky
Altered States
The Postman
Freejack (Immortality, Inc.)

Memoirs of an Invisible Man
The Thing (Who Goes There?)

The Thirteenth Floor
Lifeforce (Space Vampires)
Deadly Friend
The Puppet Masters
A Scanner Darkly

Monkey Shines
Solo (Weapon)
The Handmaid's Tale
From Beyond
Body Snatchers

I tag: The Crotchety Old Fan, Dave Does the Blog, Flying Sauce, Ronzobot and StevenHartSite.
An Exclusive Club

My wife just called to tell me that NewDog (Mark 4.0) pulled a leather-bound copy of The History of the Peloponnesian War (by Thucydides) off the shelf and proceeded to chow down on the leather cover. It was not in its usual place, I was referring to it as I read Donald Kagan's The Peloponnesian War (his one-volume "popular" treatment of his four-volume opus).

"...the first page of Thucydides is, in my opinion, the commencement of real history. All preceding narrations are so intermixed with fable, that philosophers ought to abandon them, to the embellishments of poets and orators." (David Hume)

With this, she has joined a very exclusive club. OldDog (Mark 2.0, readers may recall that OldDog, Mark 3.0 passed away last May) chewed up a omnibus edition of The Lord of the Rings when she was roughly the same age.

I know I can get another copy, heck, I can get it for free from Project Gutenberg. But I had this one for about twenty-five years. Ah, NewDog, you're trying my patience!

When making coffee, it helps to put the filter and coffee into the machine before walking away; otherwise you're in for a disappointment.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Hot, Hot, Hot!

Last week, whenever I logged on to read my personal mail at work, I was urged to get a wife from India (no adblocking at work, alas). This week, I keep seeing sidebars and other ads with provocative "local" women who want to date me.

Ummm...seeing that I'm married, thanks, but no thanks.

I recall when the intertubes was going to be the way to personalize advertisements with such accuracy given your browsing and buying aimed right at what you bought.

Guess we haven't arrived yet (if ever). Thank goodness for the adblocker at home!
A Multi-Tasker

"Of course, we're not going to have any more fresh ingredients because we're all out of hand grenades."

(Alton Brown, Good Eats, "Down and Out in Paradise")
It's Not the Heat, It's the Humidity

Ah, give me joy of the summer's day! No air conditioner at work. Which I can stand the heat, it's the lack of air that gets freshened that has given me a migraine-sized sinus headache.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Brain Dead

It's bad when you finish a book, put it down, and completely forget to update your book log for several days!

The book in question? The World of Null-A by A.E. van Vogt.
New Math

Log tables, slide rules and "computers", oh my!
Hockey Stick

Everything, I repeat, everything, is answered with this one graph. Have a scientific question? Look no further!
Sure to be a Masters Thesis

Fine art taco photography. Critical reaction! Me, I think the guy is a genius.

A fascinating look at Six Books on the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres by that best-selling author Nicolaus Copernicus. Was it really the book nobody read?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

What is a Shallot?

Well structurally it's like, well, imagine if an onion and head of garlic got together and got married and had a kid.

(Alton Brown, Good Eats, "The Case for Butter")
What is Honor?

FALSTAFF: Hal, if thou see me down in the battle and bestride me, so; 'tis a point of friendship.

PRINCE HENRY: Nothing but a colossus can do thee that friendship. Say thy prayers, and farewell.

FALSTAFF: I would 'twere bed-time, Hal, and all well.

PRINCE HENRY: Why, thou owest God a death.


FALSTAFF: 'Tis not due yet; I would be loath to pay him before his day. What need I be so forward with him that calls not on me? Well, 'tis no matter; honour pricks me on. Yea, but how if honour prick me off when I come on? How then? Can honour set to a leg? No: or an arm? No: or take away the grief of a wound? No. Honour hath no skill in surgery, then? No. What is honour? A word. What is in that word honour? What is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? He that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? No. Doth he hear it? No. 'Tis insensible, then. Yea, to the dead. But will it not live with the living? No. Why? detraction will not suffer it. Therefore I'll none of it. Honour is a mere scutcheon: and so ends my catechism.

(William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part One, Act V)
Guard Your Honor

"Reputation is what other people know about you. Honor is what you know about yourself."

"There is no more hollow feeling than to stand with your honor shattered at your feet while soaring public reputation wraps you in rewards. That's soul-destroying. The other way round is merely very, very irritating."

"Guard your honor. Let your reputation fall where it will. And outlive the bastards."

Advice from Aral Vorkosigan (Lois McMaster Bujold, A Civil Campaign).
Sgt. MacKenzie

Last year I read the book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young, by Lt. General Harold G. Moore (Ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway. The book details the Battle of the Ia Drang, in which a US unit of newly organized airmobile soldiers encounters a large body of North Vietnamese regulars.

The book was made into a movie starring Mel Gibson as then Lt. Colonel Moore. I had not seen it until recently, when I viewed the DVD. A couple of things "made" the movie for me.

First, there is the excellent cast, especially in the form of Sam Elliot portraying Sgt. Major Basil L. Plumley. He absolutely nailed what is important about a fighting sergeant major with his portrayal. Then there's the story, a good distillation of the complicated events of the book. Weapons, uniforms, special effects, all good.

Then there's this song...Sgt. MacKenzie, by Joseph Kilna MacKenzie. Occasionally a song will grab me from a soundtrack. In Blackhawk Down, it was the piece called Leave No Man Behind. With this, as soon as the music started, I knew I had to have the album. Excellent, absolutely chilling music.

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

When they come a wull staun ma groon
Staun ma groon al nae be afraid

Thoughts awe hame tak awa ma fear
Sweat an bluid hide ma veil awe tears

Ains a year say a prayer faur me
Close yir een an remember me

Nair mair shall a see the sun
For a fell tae a Germans gun

Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Lay me doon in the caul caul groon
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun
Whaur afore monie mair huv gaun

Utterly amazing music.

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone

When they come I will stand my ground
Stand my ground I’ll not be afraid

Thoughts of home take away my fear
Sweat and blood hide my veil of tears

Once a year say a prayer for me
Close your eyes and remember me

Never more shall I see the sun
For I fell to a Germans gun

Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Lay me down in the cold cold ground
Where before many more have gone
Where before many more have gone


"Jack," he [Stephen] cried, bursting into the cabin. "Oh, I beg your pardon."

"Not at all, brother," said Captain Aubrey: he closed his book. "I was only reading a most uncomfortable piece in Galatians: damned, whatever you do, almost. I am afraid you have torn your stockings."

(Patrick O'Brian, Blue at the Mizzen)

"There's a great text in Galatians,
Once you trip on it entails
Twenty-nine distinct damnations,
One sure if another fails."

(Rudyard Kipling, Stalky & Co.; quoting Robert Browning's Soliloquy in a Spanish Cloister, for all love!)

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

August is the Cruelest Month

For the wallet, that is. It seems every time I pass by the bookstore, I notice a few more "must have" titles. From the end of July to early in September, here's what I either have picked up or will be picking up:

Poul Anderson: The Van Rijn Method (excerpt here).

Greg Bear: City at the End of Time (website for the author and the book here) (mention at Boing Boing here) (purchased).

Ben Bova: Mars Life (purchased).

Tobias Buckell: Sly Mongoose (purchased).

Sir Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl: The Last Theorem (purchased).

Philip K. Dick: Five Novels of the 1960s & 1970s (made up of Martian Time-Slip; Dr. Bloodmoney; Now Wait for Last Year; Flow My Tears, The Policeman Said; A Scanner Darkly) (purchased).

David Drake and Eric Flint: Belisarius I: Thunder at Dawn (excerpt here).

Joe Haldeman: Marsbound (read in serial form).

Robert A. Heinlein: Between Planets (excerpt found here) (purchased).

Paul Kearney: The Ten Thousand (but wouldn't you'd rather read the original?).

George R. R. Martin: A Dance with Dragons (about time!!!).

Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner: Juggler of Worlds.

Jerry Pournelle: Exile and Glory (excerpt found here) (special ordered, then purchased).

John Ringo: The Last Centurion (excerpt here) (purchased and read as an eARC).

John Scalzi: Zoe's Tale (purchased).

Karl Schroeder: Pirate Sun (purchased).

Neal Stephenson: Anathem.

And I'm sure there will be more!

Coming soon from Disney, Pirates of the Canal!
Tracking the Trackless

Proving once again, you can do anything with Legos. Now let's see if your typical legal type can submit his or her billable hours this way!

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Cussing Them Out

Did you know that AI kind of folks consider QWERTY a curse word?
Pauline Baynes

Over at the new Tor "community", a discussion of artist Pauline Baynes. This is along with the sad news that this wonderful illustrator passed away recently. Her cover illustrations and map were Middle-Earth for me.

Addendum: Brian Sibley highlights her work for Middle-Earth, Narnia and more.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Friday, August 01, 2008

A Matter of Relatives

I can only hope that one day my one relative looks back and realizes the pain that he/she had caused upon his/her other relatives during this period.
A is for Apple

I know very little about Halo, given a general lack of interest in computer gaming (something I've mused about in the past). Maybe someday I'll plunk down the $$$ for an Xbox or a Wii or a Whatever. My only connection with Halo are little Halo figures that march across the top of my computer (from a board game that appears to have already died), some CD's of music (not the first time I've gotten hooked on a soundtrack well before seeing the source) and a book of designs for the game. Plus one novel, that made so little sense that I stopped reading it (this was before the Giant Tobias Buckell Announcement, of course).

And now this...for educating young FPS types, I guess. An alphabet based on dead characters from the game. Via BoingBoing (where else?).

The game seems tailor-made for me, given various interests (military, science fiction). So what is missing? A gap in my DNA? Maybe in my transcriptase?
Fred's Reading Report (June and July 2008)

I never got around to posting my June report, due to that thing called Real Life. Here's a combined report for June and July.

I'm happy to report that I not only reached, but have now surpassed my goal of reading one short work per day. The rest of the year will hopefully be spent in finishing up some anthologies and essay collections that have been unfinished for one or more years, plus whatever I've started this year but have yet to finish. Current count, as of August 1, 2008, is at 388 short works.

As for book-length works, I read nine in June and twelve in July. Oddly enough, I still feel like I'm not reading that much. Go figure! Count for the year is 51, which includes various anthologies covered in the other list. My usual minimum over the past several years has been 60 books per year, so I'm getting close to that. Of course, that number is skewed by this year (122 books) and a few other years.