Book Review: Public Loneliness

“Public Loneliness” by Gerald BrennanThis is the second book in the author’s “Altered Space” series of alternative histories of the cold war space race. Each stand-alone story explores a space mission which did not take place, but could have, given the technology and political circumstances at the time. The first, Zero Phase, asks what might have happened had Apollo 13’s service module oxygen tank waited to explode until after the lunar module had landed on the Moon. The third, Island of Clouds, tells the story of a Venus fly-by mission using Apollo-derived hardware in 1972.

The present short book (120 pages in paperback edition) is the tale of a Soviet circumlunar mission piloted by Yuri Gagarin in October 1967, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution and the tenth anniversary of the launch of Sputnik. As with all of the Altered Space stories, this could have happened: in the 1960s, the Soviet Union had two manned lunar programmes, each using entirely different hardware. The lunar landing project was based on the N1 rocket, a modified Soyuz spacecraft called the 7K-LOK, and the LK one-man lunar lander. The Zond project aimed at a manned lunar fly-by mission (the spacecraft would loop around the Moon and return to Earth on a “free return trajectory” without entering lunar orbit). Zond missions would launch on the Proton booster with a crew of one or two cosmonauts flying around the Moon in a spacecraft designated Soyuz 7K-L1, which was stripped down by removal of the orbital module (forcing the crew to endure the entire trip in the cramped launch/descent module) and equipped for the lunar mission by the addition of a high gain antenna, navigation system, and a heat shield capable of handling the velocity of entry from a lunar mission.... [Read More]

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As California Goes, So Goes the Nation

The video embedded below details the decline of California over the last 50 years or so. Arguably, most of the decline happened during the latter half of that period. The narrator lists the usual litany of ills: higher taxes, poorer services, one-party rule, and increasing income stratification. Aside from the first of these, they are all markers of a third-world society. He’s not wrong about any of it.

What’s left unexplained is how this is tolerable for anyone. Victor Davis Hanson has addressed the this question in general terms but he’s personally unhappy with the regime because he has to suffer its negative consequences at his Central Valley farm. My perspective is somewhat different. I can afford to pay the confiscatory taxes and don’t have to deal with homeless or crime* in my neighborhood. Unaffordable housing is not my problem. The climate is great and the cultural amenities are superb. On the surface everything is fine.... [Read More]

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Better than “Tears of My Enemies”?

I was watching the award ceremony for baseball great, Mariano Rivera. He was receiving the highest civilian honor the nation can bestow from President Trump. He had such a heavy fastball that he broke bats. He broke so many bats that the Minnesota Twins gave him a chair made from them. When it comes to baseball I think, “Sitting on the shattered bats of my opponents.” is better than drinking the tears of enemies.

I wonder if I can get something made from the broken keyboards of trolls.

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This Week’s Book Review – Monster Hunter Guardian

I write a weekly book review for the Daily News of Galveston County. (It is not the biggest daily newspaper in Texas, but it is the oldest.) After my review appears on Sunday, I post the previous week’s review here on Sunday.... [Read More]

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World War $: A Rant with some Serious Plot Holes

Take a look at a recent post from Doc Lor and the immediate recent post from John Walker.  Combine these two things.  What do you see?

Since 2009, the economy has been incredibly tightly managed.  Either the report is bunk or the freedom of the economy is bunk, and I am primed to believe that the report is accurate.  Once I get off my duff, I’ll do a little analysis to quantify what is readily apparent from the chart in Doc Lor’s post.  Look at that line.  Like a laser.  That doesn’t happen by accident.... [Read More]

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A Vignette: Conversation between two strangers

Moving to a new state soon, I am buying a lot of stuff for the new home while I reside in Oregon, to take advantage of the lack of a sales tax. Some of it is bulky and heavy and requires an actual freight company to deliver it.

Friday I waited for the truck with the grandchildrens bunk beds to arrive. I sat on our porch, drinking my BRCC coffee in my BRCC mug to catch the crew before they unloaded. I needed them to drive to the street below where my garage is, in order for me to assemble it there for moving day.... [Read More]

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May I Recommend….?

”And does history repeat itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce? No, that is too grand, too considered a process.  History burps and we taste again that raw onion sandwich it swallowed centuries ago.”

That’s from Julian Barnes’  A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters. I’m pretty sure I read this book  before; I went on a real Barnes extravaganza a few years ago— and do you likewise, O Ratty who likes novels!  Just do not read The Only Story— But In reading or re-reading it now,  I find so many passages I’d like to quote.  And this  is when  I miss the codex, where I could fold down pages, sometimes with several  accordion-like creases if I reeeeely wanted to  make sure I could find it again!... [Read More]

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What is the EFF Doing?

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a well-respected (loathed in all the right places) advocate for privacy in the digital domain.  Or something.

One of their pet projects, which by all accounts is a Good Thing is the Do Not Track registry.  What could be better than being tracked via a list declaring your desire not to be tracked.  Well, that’s how the Do Not Call registry works.  Do Not Track is a little better, as it allow you to send a signal to each website that you visit commanding their servers not to track you via cookies, and so forth.  So the EFF and its high-profile Do Not Track registry are on your side!  Yet politics makes for strained bedfellows.... [Read More]

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