Monthly Archives: March 2009

Now They’ve Gone Too Far

I saw this while at work today and almost said WTF?!?!? out loud….

This is just freaky!

This is just freaky!

via Gizmodo

I’m Not Getting It

Im confused! Am I a RAT?

I'm confused! Am I a RAT?

About two weeks ago, I started reading Samuel R. Delany’s Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand. I’d read many high-praise reviews before picking up the book and was looking forward to my lunch time ritual of getting in 20 – 30 pages. But…

This was a very tough read. I was only able to finish the first two chapters. I told y’all before that I am a hard-scifi type of person. I knew about 5 pages into the read that this was not something I normally take up. By the end of the 2nd chapter I was exhausted. And it took me two weeks to get there. I know I promised an extensive review, but I can’t even do that justice. So, I’ll close out with I tried.

For my next book, I’m diving back into familiar territory: Scalzi’s, The Last Colony. I read “Old Man’s Tale” about a year ago and I am skipping over “The Ghost Brigades”. I hope that isn’t an issue for story continuation.

Maybe I’ll try another Delany book in the future…

Photo © 2009 – tilaneseven

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength

A must read!

A must read!

For those of you that don’t know, the title to this post is a reference to the government slogan in the Orwellian classic 1984. In the novel, the protag, Winston Smith struggles to survive in a world gone crazy with the government watching your every move. Ever wonder where the term Big Brother came from? This is it!

If you haven’t been following news about our Brit friends across the pond, seems that the UK Met Office is determined to make 1984 a reality.

Did you know that London has the most “street cameras” (also called CCTVs) per capita than any other city?

Yesterday, I read an article over on Boing Boing that highlights a set of new flyers the Met Office is distributing that encourages people to spy on their neighbors, rifle through their trash, and report any other “suspicious” activities.

Today, Cory Doctorow (who wrote Little Brother, a novel that dives into the “Big Brother is watching” theme)  highlighted quite a few remixed flyers from readers around the world. Some of them are pretty cool and point out the fallacies of the “spy on your neighbor” attitude that the British fuzz wants the public to adopt. Others are just plain hilarious.

Here is my attempt (click for a larger view)…

ho1984

We have not gone this far in much of the US yet. But the NY is well on it’s way (especially after 9/11). How soon will other cities follow?

BSG: It’s Over, So Say We All

It was a fun ride!

It was a fun ride!

Overall? I liked it. The action and the tie-up of many plotlines were on point. There are some still left open (more on that later), but Ron Moore hit the major ones.

I really liked the “this has all happened before” tie-in with today’s world. I thought it was funny that all of the “advanced” robots they showed in the clips were Japanese (we Americans have a lot of schooling to catch up on that one). So here are some of my highlights:

1. Best Moment

The Doc getting all choked up when Laura expresses her gratitude. Damn great acting! Had a brother tearin up seeing that hard callous of a man breakdown like that.

2. Best Moment #2

Athena not hesitating to smoke Boomer. Damn, don’t mess with her kids and her man!

3. Corniest Moment

The “chasing the baby to the CIC” flow. They had to tie it in somehow, but that was kinda lame…

4. Awww Dude! Moment

Chief snapping Tory’s neck. We know the Chief had anger management problems, but yo!?

5. Questioning My Manhood Moment

Thinking too much about how Lee was rocking that mini-beard and shaggy hair…

6. WTF Moments

– Cavil eating a bullet! Dude just gave up, said FRAK!, and was done…

– Starbuck ghosting (what was she Ron! tell us!)…

And now, things to look forward to:

1. BSG: The Plan

This should answer some of the plot holes that the finale did not cover. The commercial said coming this fall. So now I have some good TV to anticipate over the long “rerun” summer.

2. Caprica

The commercial for this was nice too. Looks more like a little less spacey stuff and more drama/conflict/ethics. I’m willing to give this one a go too.

So what do I do between now and “this fall” (is that like September or November?!). Go frakkin’ crazy!

Happy Equinox – Spring Edition

Like clockwork

Like clockwork

Each year, the planet we call home cycles through the seasons. Due to the tilt of our planet, we’re either cold (winter), hot (summer), or somewhere in between (spring/fall). Today, we mark the beginning of spring with the Vernal Equinox. Equinox being derived from the base word “equi”, indicates that we will have equal amounts of day and night today. And with each day from here until June 21 (the Summer Solstice) the amount of daytime will continue to increase (until we have a little sunlight even up to 9 PM).

Many of the ancient civilizations celebrated the equinox as the coming of good times (warm weather and trees/plants starting to regrow). Quite a few even built structures that formed a perfect alignment with the sun’s path across the sky on this day. Very fascinating stuff!

So as you make your travels today, revel in the knowledge that this day is another milestone in a planetary dance that the Earth has been engaged in for millions of years.

And Then There Were Six

STS-119 docking with the ISS

STS-119 docking with the ISS

One of the goals for the International Space Station was for it to serve as a base of operations for scientific studies. For the longest time, we’ve only been able to have three people on staff in the ISS at one time due to size and power constraints. Now, that is all about to change.

As of this post, the Space Shuttle crew is finishing up docking procedures with the ISS. With the addition of the final set of solar panels they are delivering, Luke Skywalker’s friends will fall into the Emperor’s trap and attempt to take on a fully operational battle station!

Ooooops, slipped into uber-nerd for a minute. The original post will now resume…

In addition to increased power, the ISS will now be able to fully staff its intended level of six crew members. This will be a great boon for the scientific community as a lot more research and experimentation will be on the docket. After this flight, there are only 11 more scheduled for the venerable space plane. I still have “Seeing a shuttle launch” on my bucket list.

Settling In With Samuel R. Delany

The Master? (Ill soon find out)

The Master? (I'll soon find out)

A fellow member of the Black Science Fiction Society posted a note the other day. He rhetorically asked why some of the members who have book reviews on their personal blogs did not have any reviews for any Black authors. In some self-reflection, I realized that I had not picked up any sci-fi written by a Black author in a quite awhile. My last extensive read was the anthology, “The Darker Mask” and that was last summer. So while half-way through my last book,  I put some effort into making this a goal for my next book.

Samuel R. Delany is one of the masters of sci-fi and I have not read any of his material. In my search for Black sci-fi authors I’d seen his name pop up over and over again, but for some reason I never took the time to pick up one of his books. Now, that’s about to change. I’m going to start “Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand” this weekend. I’ll be sure to post an extensive review once I am done.

Review: Ben Bova’s Return To Mars

Return To MarsA great follow up to the original Mars (read the review for Mars). Jamie Waterman leads the team on the 2nd expedition to the red planet.

Check out my review

Amateurs Send Man Into Orbit – News @ 11

Ooohhhh, preeettttyyy!

Ooohhhh, preeettttyyy!

Well, not quite yet. But if the amateur rocket group Copenhagen Suborbitals out of Denmark has its way, then this headline will be all too real in about three years. Check out their website for the cool video.

I just want to know who’s the fool that is going to volunteer to ride the thing!

I’m not hatin’ though. I don’t even want to fly one of those little punk rockets you get out of Hobbytown now…

Via Slashdot.

So Far So Good – Go Kepler!

Kepler leaving the gravity well

Kepler leaving the gravity well

In between commercials of this week’s BSG episode (which was a 7.5 out of 10 for me),  I kept switching back to the NASA TV channel (one of the benefits of living in Huntsville and next to a NASA facility, is that they have their own channel on cable!). I missed the initial live launch of Kepler, but caught it on a replay. So far so good!

UPDATE 2009/03/07: After a near perfect liftoff and separation (watch the cool video), Kepler has achieved its heliocentric orbit. Heliocentric means that Kepler will orbit the sun, not the Earth. The launch placed the new telescope in the same orbit as our planet, but 950 miles away (trailing of course). Over time, it will continue to drift further and further away. In about 30 days, we’ll start to see the first scientific results. Booya!

You Must Have Balance

Balance

Balance

The main character in Ben Bova’s Mars books is Jamie Waterman. Jamie is Navajo and due to his grandfather’s influence, he has a healthy dose of Navajo mysticism flowing through him. One of the lessons Grandfather Al imparts on Jamie is the need to maintain balance. It seems as if our wonderful US space program is working towards the same goal.  On the wrong end of the scale!

On the eve of the launch of one of the greatest pieces of astronomical hardware ever and on the heels of a string of scientific and media successes with the Mars program, we get this juicy tidbit floating around the mainstream media (MSM):

9 big NASA projects over budget: Auditors cite projects such as asteroid explorer, Earth-like planet hunter

Precede that with the loss of the new climate orbiter last week and I can already here the cat calls:

Why are we spending money on that stuff?!

NASA is a waste!

Blah, blah, blah!

Let’s remind the public again: the entire NASA budget is about 1/2 of 1% of the federal bankroll! Crumbs compared to a lot of other programs! (BTW, I love this poster: http://www.wallstats.com/poster/)

Now would be a good time for the Obama team to announce the selection of a new administrator. Strike while the iron is hot and NASA is on the brains of the America public. Appointing a new and dynamic leader NOW will help to get the juices going within the organization. It will also let Americans know that someone has the definitive task of bringing our space program back on track. I know the President is busy and we have some big issues to tackle, but don’t let the space program fade from view.

P.S. Bonus points to those that can name the constellation in the graphic!

Cover Artist Appreciation Post

Kurt

Kurt Miller's artwork for The Last Centurion

Last week, I blogged about the ongoing development of exoskeletons which was inspired by mechas that were in a book about Mars that caught my eye because of the cover art (whew!). After writing that post, I thought I’d find the artist and drop him/her an email and let them know how badass I think their work is. It was a little hard to find, but I eventually found my way over to Kurt Miller’s KMI Studios site (note: Kurt also did the cover for The Last Centurion (image at left), which was a bangin read too). After browsing around his art gallery (his work is pretty prolific), I sent him some SMTP love. To my surprise, he wrote back and showed a lot of gratitude. Classy…

So this post is dedicated to those cover artists that help us to visualize the stories we love. Here are a few artists whose work was featured on some of my most recent reads:

Don’t see you favorite in this list? Then check out this great summary from Locus Magazine.

FMARS: Hard Work, Low Pay, Eternal Glory

Want to live here for four weeks?

Want to live here for four weeks?

A week or so ago, I blogged about the MDRS. This week, I received an email from the Mars Society and they are looking for volunteers for another analog station. Flashline Mars Artic Research Station (FMARS) is located at Devon Island in the Nunavut Territory of Canada. The 2009 research season will run from the beginning to the end of July 2009.  All interested humans can apply for a position on the team. Applications, including resume, character references, a brief letter explaining why you wish to participate, and a summary of any proposed research should be sent no later than March 31, 2009 to:

Volunteers
Mars Society
11111 W. 8th Ave. Unit A
Lakewood, Co 80215

I was in the midst of typing up my application and explanation letter when Mrs. Calrissian looked over my shoulder. Guess I’m not going now…