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Commentary

Still More New Horizons Pluto Celebration

In keeping with my previous  Pluto posts, found here and here, yet more from NPR and a wonderful, informative collection of links and information from IO9, on the New Horizons Pluto mission, and the data and imagery it is generating.

It seems so ironic to me that within the past few weeks the state of Texas has been in the news for its revisionist, backwards text book standards, yet another blow against intellectualism in a nation where we have already seen a goodly portion–though, so far, thank the gods, a minority–of it’s population turn it’s back on our achievements, deny them outright, and resist following through on our self-proclaimed mandate for “American Exceptionalism.”  The following post, found at the top of the comments on one of the NPR articles to which i linked, sums it up eloquently.

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It happens big, and it happens small. Yesterday, my daughter sat agape at a swim meet while one of her team-mates, a pleasant though predictably awkward home-schooled young man, spoke at length upon the “folly of carbon dating” and the “facts” that prove the fca3f622-ff66-4a99-9b6d-1f832f057da2earth is approximately 6,000 years old.  Both of my daughters are whip smart and especially adept in the sciences, but polite enough–unlike their old man–to know when to just shake their heads and keep their mouths shut.  Which is what she did, though she was flabberghasted by the assault being registered by her bullshit detector, the shock magnified because the young man has expressed a strong desire to major in chemistry in college.  I feel truly bad for the kid–he’s going to get pummeled, first by the adjustment to the wider world outside his cloistered bubble, and second by his faculty and classmates, when he opens his mouth and spews out that young earth nonsense.

The denial of science–and the disrespect of our legacy as innovators and explorers mentioned by the commentator above, in a great failing of our society–even as it is a great 3005591006_8b62706d43victory by the wealthy and corporate masters who would have us dumb and docile, the better to be led around the the nose–that we must resist at every juncture.  We have embraced a tolerance, even though it may be a sneering tolerance, for not merely junk science, but bullshit anti-science, in the name of fairness and balance–a mantra that has it’s place in rhetoric and dialogue, but not in the exploration of proven truths.

We must defy and decry bullshit anti-science at every corner, whether it comes from Christian extremists ranting about dinosaurs not fitting on Noah’s love boat, or suburban drones complaining about vaccinations or fluoridated water, or corporate shills looking to just-the-factshock goods for Monsanto, or dippy hippies vacuously exaggerating the evils of GMO crops, or corrupt corporations destroying the lives of scientists whose discoveries threaten profits, or even the millions of people who quite suddenly have developed debilitating sensitivities to gluten.  We’ve become a nation divided by a swift current of scientific opinion dressed up as fact, like Sarah Palin’s lipsticked pig (speaking of making it up as one goes along.) And it needs to be stopped–so the next time you hear it, even it it’s coming from your moms, repeat after me:  bull, bull, bull, bull, bull.”

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Uncategorized

Flying Machine

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Uncategorized

1 In 4 Americans Think Sun Rotates Around Earth

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I’m posting this link out of shame and disgust. Ugh!  I guess it’s what creationism gets us.

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/02/14/277058739/1-in-4-americans-think-the-sun-goes-around-the-earth-survey-says

No, they’re not exaggerating.  Or making it up as part of some “socialistic” plot.

And adding these as a public service:

earthorbitsun

o-EARTH-ORBITS-SUN-facebook

Categories
Funny and/or Strange

Explosive Bras Signal Love Connection

Bra-1Better be careful…you could put an eye out with that thing!

http://www.techtimes.com/articles/2979/20140127/think-japanese-bra-that-unhooks-when-woman-finds-true-love.htm

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Funny and/or Strange Quote Uncategorized

Best Damn Quotes #5: Bobby Henderson, founder, Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/6/6e/Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage.jpg
http://www.androidarts.com/ProfileFAQ.htm

“I don’t have a problem with religion. What I have a problem with is religion posing as science. If there is a god and he’s intelligent, then I would guess he has a sense of humor.”
—Bobby Henderson, founder, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism.

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Funny and/or Strange Photo I Like

Keeping With the Speculative Fiction Sub-Theme…

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Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Excerpt: Novel in Progress

Someone asked me about the novel in progress…here’s some:

It took both of them to drag me up from the hole, and from their grunts and curses  it wasn’t easy for them.  I had stopped struggling weeks before, and was paid for it with harder currency than when I’d fought back, but there wasn’t a chance in hell I’d walk docile, like a cow, to whatever was next.  Passive resistance was the better option,  although that brought the gnawing pleasure of my bare feet and ankles thumped against each concrete stair riser as they dragged me up, one thug under each arm.  My boots had been taken with my uniform—government property

At the stop of the steps they paused, waiting for the sentry outside, calling after her with additional profanity.  She wasn’t one of them—just one of those who stood by idly, day after day, doing what she was told, avoiding eye contact, complicit in their silence.  I can’t say that I blame her—or any of them—and had spent countless hours fixated on the question: would I do it again?  A better man than I certainly would.  A lesser man would lie and tell you he would.  I can’t say that I could. I’m not proud to admit it, but what’s pride but something someone stronger than you can take?

Tumblers spun inside the door, a bolt was thrown, and the armored entry swiveled open.  The goons and sentry exchanged more curses, and I was dragged to the right.  A turn to the left would have meant another visit with the Colonel, and another beating wrapped in a skin of interrogation.  The passage to the right led down a long hallway, through another armored door, and outside.  I could be headed for the stocks again, or the mudpit, the colonel’s preferred discipline—a pool of sopping mud into which a prisoner was tied spread-eagle and face up into the incessant rain. The mudpit was kept sodden, but not full, so a prisoner could relax as long as the rains were brief and widespread.  Prolonged showers filled the pool with slick mud, forcing the punished to crane his neck up and forward  in order to breath, for as long as it took for the rains to stop and the liquid to sink down into the sodden ground.

I much preferred the stocks, or the beatings for that matter.  Beatings lasted for minutes, then they left you alone.  It could rain here for a week straight.

“Hey there, Mikey’s awake,” Corporal Charkviani rumbled. Igor Charkvani, a perfect goddamn Igor if ever such a beast roamed.

Raul Cloutier laughed his exaggerated, hyena laugh. “We’re in trouble now, Private Space Command gonna is to get us.”

Charkviani, a leering, menacing coil of muscle and tendons, rumbled his amusement.  I imagined Cloutier, younger and smaller and ever ready to please, jumping up and down, clapping in satisfaction.

They had put the usual black bag over my head, bound tightly at the neck, ostensibly for safety—lest some maniac like me discover their true identities.  Of course, they insisted on tormenting and teasing me, with a regular selection of violence, all the while keeping a running dialogue in their distinctive, heavily accented voices. I held faith that the time would come that I could repay their hospitality.  In fact, I lived for the moment.

They wore rain hoods and goggles

The bag came off my face.  I squinted into the deep gray skies as specks of rain fell upon my cheeks.  Though afraid to look up—the guards responded intensely to eye contact—I recognized our location immediately.  We stood at the threshold of the main gate, far from the hewn wood scaffold the Colonel had erected behind the administration building.  A pair of sentries stood on either side of the gate, stone-faced  in their narrow shelters—Clarke and Modobo, decent soldiers not known to be the Colonel’s lackeys, but not the sort to take a stand against him, either.  Like most of the unit, their sin was in pretending not to see, and staying silent when what they saw was unavoidable.  Still, I doubted they’d let their compatriots execute me, at least not in the middle of the fort.

They had no problem with one last thrashing, however.  Charkvani and Cloutier wasted no time…

Categories
Fiction Excerpt

Novella Excerpt: Sharp Del

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“Come on out of there, you motherless—.” Sharp Del’s voice died beneath a deeper, more malevolent rumble.

“My mother,” the hulking Brin stepped out from the shadows behind him, “was very young.”

Sharp Del whirled around with startled fury, swinging the heavy ball gun a bit further from his body than he ought to have, a matter of centimeters.  The Brin snatched it in one huge, four-fingered paw and twisted it away to the snap of human fingers.  Sharp Del wailed.

“My mother could not provide me with the privileges customary to a male of our line.  My acceptance to the Warrior’s Third Creche honors both her sacrifice and our shared blood.”

“Just—an—expression,” Sharp Del moaned, recoiling, clutching his broken hand close to his chest.  “Wasn’t even talking to—Gods!” He wailed, “—to you.”

“Ah,” Vanya glowered, jabbing the broken ball gun into Sharp Del’s chest.

“Sad for you that I heard.”  His left arm swung, catching the human in the jaw.  Bones snapped and gave way, teeth broke free from infection-ravaged gums, beneath the blow.  Sharp Del staggered backwards and nearly righted himself, then his knees gave and he crumpled to the ground in a heap.

Vanya stood there a moment, inspecting the seized weapon.  A human-scaled trigger guard rendered it unusable to him, and it’s generally poor condition made it worthless for trade.  He removed the cartridge, scooped up a handful of sand, and poured it into the loading channel, then worked the action several times, until it jammed.  He dropped the ruined weapon beside Sharp Del.

He turned back to the cabin and shouted.  “Get out here, you motherless serpent!” He bellowed.

Half a minute later the door swung open and Qualm emerged, dragging his damaged leg.  His left arm was tied close to his chest in a makeshift sling.  His right hand clutched a steel fireplace poker.

“Serpent?” He asked. “Warrior’s Third Creche?”

The Brin shrugged. “You people,” he sniffed, “you eat that shit up like pudding or raspberries.”

“Pudding?”

Categories
Journal

U.F.O.–My Gateway Science Fiction Drug

interceptors_readyI can remember playing Star Trek when I was awfully small, maybe 6 or 7, with my friend Dan, who was Spock to my Kirk. Every once in a while, this weird kid named Jimmy McKelvy visited his grandparents on the next block over and he would play Bones–he had this awesome Phaser toy that fired little plastic disks that I’m pretty sure would have blinded one of us.  Jimmy was a soft little kid–soft spoken, softly built, and from some other town.  He made us a little uncomfortable, but he had that Phaser.

https://oldroadapples.files.wordpress.com/2013/11/1657f-phaser4.jpg

Everyone knows Star Trek, but not everyone knows the show that was actually my gateway vice into the world of Science Fiction, the one that set the seed that wouldn’t germinate until my mid-twenties, after too much time in musty lecture halls  studying Literature–with a capital “L”…you know: Lit-or-ah-chore.

That was U.F.O.  Remember it?  A lot of folks don’t. Brought to you by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson, the folks who made marionettes into action heroes in shows like Thunderbirds, (the hilarious  Team America: World Police is a Thunderbirds parody by the creator of South Park), UFO was a cross between a soap opera and some pretty edgy (for television arond 1970, anyway) and occasionally dark Sci-Fi.  It revolved around a secret military outfit called SHADO that was leading the clandestine struggle against an ongoing Alien invasion.  The effects were primitive, but the models were cool and remain influential after more than 40 years, the stakes were high, and…the lunchboxes were the best ever.

I wanted one.  I desperately wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox, but my mom called No Deal.  My mom is a sweetheart, but she tends to give people things that she wants them to have, rather than the things they want to have or more specifically, the things she’d want to get if she was you.  A few years ago, for example, when the RZR scooters with the skateboard wheels were cool, my kids wanted them for their birthday. Mom had her own ideas, because scooters were very different when she was a kid, so she bought two of these:

I wanted the U.F.O. lunchbox.  My mom always loved Charlie Brown–she’s a lot like Charlie Brown, actually, and she bought me Snoopy. And Woodstock.  Snoopy and freaking Woodstock, and not even in metal.  I got bright, yellow plastic.  Several girls in my first grade class had the same lunchbox.  Snoopy.  Jesus, Mom–really?

So, I stumbled onto this blog a few moments ago…and it all came flooding back.

misc_ufo_lunchbox_a_NZ05665_L UFO Lunch Box 1 IMG_0411 IMG_0410

Tell me that’s not the greatest lunch box ever.  I still want it.

There is a great fan site for this series:

http://www.ufoseries.com/index.html

And this is pretty cool, too:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/modern_fred/sets/72157605209464362/with/2174567287/

And don’t buy this for your little boy–it will not only scar him for life, but turn him into an Adult Onset Science Fiction Junky. You don’t want that.  Trust me.  I own the complete DVD box set.

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Seriously.  I still haven’t forgiven her.