chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I've been busy, so have some links:

1) I'm still giving away free e-copies of my book The Night Watch.

2) You can read an interview of me.

3) An interesting article: Why Nothing Works Anymore. Best opening line: "“No… it’s a magic potty,” my daughter used to lament, age 3 or so, before refusing to use a public restroom stall with an automatic-flush toilet."

America’s military doesn’t need more money — what it needs is an engaged public to demand a genuine strategy

5) Among other things: Mars Needs Lawyers.


Dec. 22nd, 2015 08:39 am
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Comes news today that SpaceX just successfully recovered their first stage, making them the second entity to fly a reusable spaceship to orbit. (NASA's Shuttle was the first, of course.) This event is critical, in that if we are ever to have colonies in space, the cost of getting to orbit has to go down. The only way that happens is if we stop throwing away the spaceship after one mission.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Busy morning equals late posting.

A) Boeing announces metal that's lighter than air.

B) A fun and quick story by a friend of mine.

C) I've not read the report yet, but NASA's plan to go to Mars.

D) Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote a constitution for Haiti. The locals weren't fond of it.

E) An amusing picture:

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Been saving this up...

A) An interesting thought on police misconduct. The author compares fear of police as equivalent to the fear of terrorism. Both are random events that could happen to anybody anywhere, where as other forms of violence can in theory be avoided.

B) What do you eat in Antarctica? The hot dog soup actually looks pretty good, but then one does not get to be my size by being a picky eater.

C) The title says it all Yes, Virginia, people of color do fucking read SF/F.

D) Speaking of science fiction, an interesting anthology having a Kickstarter.

E) Here's a video on the cause of the Civil War:

Was the Civil War About Slavery?

New Video! "Was the Civil War About Slavery?"What caused the Civil War? Did the North care about abolishing slavery? Did the South secede because of slavery? Or was it about something else entirely...perhaps states' rights? Col. Ty Seidule, history professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, settles the debate once and for all.For more information on the Civil War, check out The West Point History of the Civil War, an interactive e-book that brings the Civil War to life in a way that's never been done. Click here ->

Posted by PragerU on Monday, August 10, 2015
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
A) On the space front, growing food in shipping containers is exactly the kind of tech we'll need to settle in space.

B) Disordered thinking, or, thinking that Muslims have taken over a number of cities including Dearborn, MI and established "no go zones" wherein Sharia law is practiced, why does nobody check if perhaps his collar is a bit too tight? As the author says, it's an easily-disproved delusion, of the type that used to get people locked in padded rooms.

C) An interesting parable about democracy in action.

D) The current director of the FBI requires all new hires to visit the Holocaust Museum. Here's why.

E) Six myths you believe about the founding of America.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
The title of today's post comes from a comment at this post. The short version is Somebody On The Internet Is Upset, this time over a black female pirate in fiction. Well, despite the fact that one such person really existed, the discussion has proceeded along the usual lines. Moving on to the links:

A) La Maupin, a 17th-Century opera singer, swordswoman (fought and won multiple duels) and bisexual (joined a nunnery to get into a nun's knickers). The things you learn on the Internet...

B) Something I really hope is a gag - a handheld flamethrower.

C) A theory on the cause of nearsightedness: not enough outside light. If true, it suggests Martians and other out-planet colonists might all be nearsighted.

D) Is Seattle's $15-an-hour minimum wage forcing restaurants to close? The owners say no.

E) A picture is worth a thousand words:

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Ebola and Wolves

What bothers me about the current flap over Ebola quarantines is the "boy who cried wolf" effect. Basically, imposing clearly unnecessary quarantines risks setting a trend where people ignore all quarantines, needed or not.


This article appeared the day before SpaceShip Two blew up. It's very prescient writing. Apollo, Ansari and the Hobbling Effects of Giant Leaps. As I said on Facebook, unfortunately building rockets is rocket science.

Plus, A Cool Video

I couldn't embed this, but go watch this video of scientists dropping a bowling ball and a feather in vacuum.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
On Blackstone, public accommodation and conservatives

I'm doing a lot of driving between branches for the day job, hence my lack of posting. In any event, yesterday's entry seems to have pushed a few buttons. My points in sharing the Blackstone quote were two:

1) The idea that "public accommodations" means all of the public is very old.
2) Conservatives who argue that businesses have a private right of association are arguing for a new right, not "conserving" an old one.

On Asteroids as Islands

I found myself looking at Tristan da Cunha, the most remote island in the world, and St. Helena, the second-most remote island. I could see human-colonized asteroids (and moons, and even planets) as sometimes falling into similar situations.

Gamergate, an Epic Rant

Former NFL player and current gamer Chris Kluwe has an epic rant on why Gamergaters piss him off. There is much adult language therein, but also much truth. The tl;dr version? We [gamers] won. Over 100 million Americans play games, so of course there are going to be games you don't like. Get over it.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Yesterday was consumed by locusts, and if I don't puke something out today will be as well.

A) From Slate, an interesting history of Liberia and how the founding thereof was messed up.

B) Also from Slate, a quick note that India put a spacecraft in orbit around Mars for less than it cost to make the movie Gravity. As space travel becomes cheaper, more people will do it.

C) An interesting analysis of the American Civil War, which David Brin thinks is still going on.

D) A bit of humor for those who've read any of John Norman's Gor books Houseplants of Gor.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Cleaning out the leftovers from last year:

A) As illustrated by a sad case in which a man shot his stepdaughter thinking she was a burglar, home defense requires more than just a gun. You should always visually ID your target before shooting.

B) Here's a real-world case of a woman without fear. She manages to get herself in a lot of dangerous situations.

C) For creative types - be friends with failure.

D) Found via dinking around, could the whole world conquer the United States? The short answer is no, not without years to build up their militaries.

E) From [ profile] james_nicoll, we may only get one shot to terraform Mars. Linked to not because I agree or disagree with it, but because it's an interesting discussion.

F) If you live in wildfire country, defensible space around your house is critical.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I'm back in Chicago, but not back at work (that's Monday's curse). While doing something close to nothing on the Internet, I stumbled upon "the forbidden island," AKA North Sentinel Island. This 28-square mile island in the Andaman Island chain in the Indian Ocean is inhabited by the most unknown people on Earth. I mean that quite literally, in that no non-inhabitant of that island can even speak their language! It's inhabited by an unknown number (estimated 200 or less) humans who don't wear clothing and live a stone-age existence.

These people have boats, but no oars or sails, and none of the local tribes from the other islands have had contact with them since the arrival of the Europeans in the mid-1700s. The only contact these people have with the outside world is an occasional helicopter overflight.

These humans have been completely cut off from the rest of humanity for at least hundreds of years, maybe thousands. Everybody who's attempted to land has been either killed or driven off at spear-point.

In science fiction, there is a concept called a "generation ship." This is the idea to put a group of people on a ship and send them to another star, with the idea that their descendants will complete the voyage. I've been told by some scientists that generation ships are inherently impossible - social collapse or inbreeding will destroy them.

Would somebody please tell the folks on North Sentinel Island that? It seems to me that they are running a generation ship that just doesn't go anywhere.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Various links with some commentary:

1) Back in the heady days of the Space Race, there was an idea to send people into space by riding a wave of nuclear explosions. Supposedly, design work got serious enough that engineers from the Coca-Cola company were brought in to design "vending machines" to pop out nuclear bombs once-a-second.

2) From the same blog, Obamacare as a corporate pizza party.

3) An interesting memorial visible on Google Maps.

4) My publisher, Hadley Rille Books, has a new website.

5) One of the arguments against space colonization is that "we haven't colonized the Gobi Desert." Well, actually we have, but as this article points out, were it not for a lot of the type of engineering you'd need for a space colony, America's second largest city would not exist.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I was reading somewhere that, in certain Japanese temples, one can see Roman glassware. To be clear, Roman glassware that was purchased when it was new by the temple staff. It was a reminder that the Silk Road was a real thing. So, not only was the road real, but at least some people on both ends of the road were aware of the people on the other end.

Think about that. Roman emperors were at least tangentially aware of Japanese emperors, and vice versa. But from a day-to-day perspective, they had no influence on each other.

Where this ties into space (no, I'm not obsessed about space, I can stop thinking about it any time I want to) is in terms of alien civilizations. The best guess we have about intelligent life in the galaxy is that we would expect, on average, civilizations to be separated by about 200 light years. Now, averages are funny, and so you could have a civilization a thousand light years from its nearest neighbor or one light year and still have an average galaxy-wide of 200 light years.

But 200 light years is a God-awfully long way. Travelling at the speed of light, a trip would take 200 years - assuming you can go that fast and don't need to stop for anything. Even travelling at 100 times the speed of light - or 100 times faster than Einstein says you can - that's a two-year trip one way.

This would, I suspect, set up something similar to the old Silk Road. Sufficiently-advanced civilizations would be aware of each other, and would probably have some low level of trade, but very little real influence on each other.

The universe is big, old and empty too.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I grow weary of the butt-hurt explosion regarding the Hugos. Not, as I remind you, because my pick won (it did not, as I predicted) but because all of the butt-hurt is sound and fury signifying nothing. The awards were given, and absent a working time machine, they will stand.

Moving on, a few links with thoughts:

A) Just for the giggles - Despair, Inc., the demotivator people.

B) Also kind of humorous, in a "look at stupid questions people ask" kind of way, I present Ask A Slave. A young black actress got a gig at a historical site playing a slave. These are the real (and really stupid) questions she was asked. (Hat tip [ profile] james_nicoll.)

C) From the great time-sink TVTropes, a trope I hate - good guy slaughters bad guy's henchmen but suddenly decides to not kill the bad guy. Seriously, if you get a shot at the Big Bad, take it! (Corollary to Tuco's Law.)

D) From Tobias Buckell - NASA to actually grow food in space.

E) From various sources including Buckell, an actual flying zeppelin called the Aeroscraft. A key innovation - unlike all other lighter-than-air craft, this uses air as ballast. They compress the helium bags to sink and decompress them to rise.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Like the label on the tin says:

1) An interesting take on how men and women can (and do) view the same event through different lenses.

2) This guy seems to think that humanity can't live without Earth dirt. Not sure how much dirt Eskimos are exposed to, but the bottom line is we'll only know for sure by trying to live in space.

3) Small modular nuclear reactors are going from paper to steel in Tennessee.

4) The photo caption tells a fascinating story: Squadron Leader J A F MacLachlan, the one-armed Commanding Officer of No 1 Squadron RAF, standing beside his all-black Hawker Hurricane Mark IIC night fighter, 'JX-Q', at Tangmere, Sussex.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
We are still struggling with my "high availability" network at work, which has suddenly become "low availability." That's been rather stressful, so not much blogging or writing happening. Having said that, here's a few random thoughts.

1) I just finished reading Spots The Space Marine by M. C. A. Hogarth. You may remember Ms. Hogarth as the writer who got afoul of Games Workshop's attempt to trademark "space marines." Despite the implications of the title, the book is a not-at-all funny piece of military SF. It's written in a screenplay format to book length, which results in a quick and urgent read. I found it enjoyable, and will be writing a more formal review soon.

2) Found via the highly-scientific means of "dinking around on the Internet" I present the Tulous of Fujian Province. These are large multi-tenant buildings, really small towns, build in China as protection from bandits and earthquakes. I envision something similar for early settlements on Mars.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
From the inimitable Jay Lake ([ profile] jaylake) comes news of Dennis Tito, the world's first space tourist, is planning a trip to Mars in 2018. Now, I'm all in favor of going to Mars (this is the "Private Mars Rocket" blog, for Pete's sake) but I think Tito's plan is half-baked at best.

The plan is to use an as-yet-untested capsule, a vehicle the size of a mini-van, to send two astronauts on a 500+ day flyby of Mars. 500 days in zero-gee for a couple of hours looking out the window doesn't sound like a good deal to me. It gets even worse when you consider the lack of arrangements for dealing with solar flares. One ill-timed flare in a year-and-a-half of travel and you're goose is cooked.

Like I said, hold the champagne.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
Speaking of space exploitation, which I mentioned in passing yesterday, I note today that a group of billionaires are planning to mine asteroids. Their company, Planetary Resources, has been quiet to the point near unto death, and plans to start very small, but it's an encouraging sign.

ETA: From the comment thread on this topic over at Simberg's Flying Circus, I find a proposal (PDF at link) to bring a small asteroid to Lunar orbit using a single Atlas V launch. The vehicle launched by the Atlas would have a 40 kW solar powered ionic engine and take a decade to move the rock in question. Also, this would be a very small asteroid (500 tons, 10 meters in diameter). Still, grabbing the right rock could make this jaunt possible, which is probably why step 1 in the reported plans is a detailed study of asteroids via small space telescopes.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
A year ago today, I spent my afternoon shoveling myself into my house. Now, the sun is trying to burn through the fog and, except for a couple of rapidly-melting piles, the snow is gone. As promised, have another helping of link salad.

A) Not entirely political, but related: A letter from Moonbase Freedom. See, if Newt were actually serious about space, he'd be advocating an X-program to get cheap orbital access. He's not, so we get bullshit instead.

B) A cute video in which the Muppets take on Fox news.

C) Presented without comment or agreement: Liberals don't hate conservatives. They just think they're stupid.
Conservatives hate liberals, because they know that liberals think they're smarter than them.

D) If Congress is really serious about cutting the deficit, they should do nothing. Allowing the tax cuts to expire and the agree-on spending cuts to go through fixes the problem and doesn't hurt Medicare or Social Security.

E) Speaking of Medicare, remember when the Republicans were screaming the cuts in Medicare Advantage would be disastrous? Well, apparently not. Yet another shocking case of a Republican prediction being wrong.
chris_gerrib: (Default)
As a science fiction geek and space optimist, I often wonder what it would be like to live on other planets. In my role as optimist, I frequently hear how difficult, not to say impossible, it would be to live on Mars.

Then I recently found out about Earthships. Despite the name, these aren't "ships" at all, but rather very innovative houses. I saw a TV clip where the designer said "I could do these on the Moon." I'm not sure about the Moon, but Mars, I'm pretty confident about.

Wikipedia has a good summary, but an earthship is a house that passively heats and cools itself, recycles its own water, and generates electricity and some food for the owner. On Earth, they tend to be built from old car tires filled with rammed dirt because it's cheap, but they can be built from any readily-available material. Since they already recycle water, and work in even very cold and dark climates, the chief modification is to recycle air. That's a matter of sizing the interior greenhouse.

In short, we really could live on Mars, if we could get there.


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