This Week’s Book Review – The Eastern Orthodox Church: A New History

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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Short Story Review: “Staking a Claim”

“Staking a Claim” by Travis J. I. CorcoranTravis J. I. Corcoran’s Aristillus novelsThe Powers of the Earth and Causes of Separation, are modern masterpieces of science fiction, with a libertarian/anarcho-capitalist core that surpasses Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in showing how free people can turn a wasteland into prosperity for all who seek liberty and defend itself against the envy and greed of those who would loot what they had created and put them back in chains.  The two novels in the series so far won the Prometheus Award for best novel in 2018 and 2019, the first self-published novels to win that award and the first back-to-back best novel winners in the four decades the prize has been awarded.  They were jointly fiction winners of my Books of the Year for 2019.

One of the factors which contributed to the success of the anarcho-libertarian lunar settlement at Aristillus was the origin of the crater in which it was founded, which, in the story was, 1.3 billion years before the present, by the impact of a 1.4 kilometre metallic asteroid in the eastern part of Mare Imbrium.  The portion of its mass which did not vaporise on impact was thrown up into the triple-peaked mountain at the centre of the 55 km crater, where its payload of iron, nickel, and other heavy metals differentiated as the magma solidified.  The Moon’s crust, formed from a mix of that of the Earth and the Mars-sized impactor (sometimes called “Theia”), is impoverished in heavy metals, which had already sunk to the cores of the impacting bodies and were not disrupted in the collision, so the impact which formed Aristillus was fortuitous, creating a concentrated source of material otherwise difficult to obtain on the Moon.... [Read More]

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TOTD 2020-3-29: A Tale of Two Cities

I was reminded this morning of this quote from Charles Dickens.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.... [Read More]

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Book Review: Collapse

“Collapse” by Kurt SchlichterIn his 2016 novel People’s Republic, the author describes North America in the early 2030s, a decade after the present Cold Civil War turned hot and the United States split into the People’s Republic of North America (PRNA) on the coasts and the upper Midwest, with the rest continuing to call itself the United States, its capital now in Dallas, purging itself of the “progressive” corruption which was now unleashed without limits in the PRNA. In that book we met Kelly Turnbull, retired from the military and veteran of the border conflicts at the time of the Split, who made his living performing perilous missions in the PRNA to rescue those trapped inside its borders.

In this, the fourth Kelly Turnbull novel (I have not yet read the second, Indian Country, nor the third, Wildfire), the situation in the PRNA has, as inevitably happens in socialist paradises, continued to deteriorate, and by 2035 its sullen population is growing increasingly restive and willing to go to extremes to escape to Mexico, which has built a big, beautiful wall to keep the starving hordes from El Norte overrunning their country. Cartels smuggle refugees from the PRNA into Mexico where they are exploited in factories where they work for peanuts but where, unlike in the PRNA, you could at least buy peanuts.... [Read More]

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This Week’s Book Review – Catastrophe at Spithead

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.

Book Review

‘Catastrophe at Spithead’ examines loss of warship Royal George

By MARK LARDAS... [Read More]

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This Week’s Book Review – Last Train to Texas

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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Well somebody told us Wall Street fell…

…but we were so poor that we couldn’t tell.

All the bad news lately has brought to mind a classic song by the country music super-group Alabama: “Song of the South.” The tune was released back in 1988 (when I was thirteen years old) off of their album Southern Star. It became an instant classic:... [Read More]

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This Week’s Book Review – How to Find a Higgs Boson

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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This Week’s Book Review – Penric’s Progress

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.

Book Review

‘Penric’s Progress’ a trilogy of demonic delight

By MARK LARDAS... [Read More]

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This Week’s Book Review – The Atlantic War Remembered

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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This Week’s Book Review – Churchill’s Phoney War

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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This Week’s Book Review – Over There in the Air

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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This Week’s Book Review – Frozen Orbit

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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Saturday Night Science: Sonic Wind

“Sonic Wind” by Craig RyanPrior to the 1920s, most aircraft pilots had no means of escape in case of mechanical failure or accident. During World War I, one out of every eight combat pilots was shot down or killed in a crash. Germany experimented with cumbersome parachutes stored in bags in a compartment behind the pilot, but these often failed to deploy properly if the plane was in a spin or became tangled in the aircraft structure after deployment. Still, they did save the lives of a number of German pilots. (On the other hand, one of them was Hermann Göring.) Allied pilots were not issued parachutes because their commanders feared the loss of planes more than pilots, and worried pilots would jump rather than try to save a damaged plane.

From the start of World War II, military aircrews were routinely issued parachutes, and backpack or seat pack parachutes with ripcord deployment had become highly reliable. As the war progressed and aircraft performance rapidly increased, it became clear that although parachutes could save air crew, physically escaping from a damaged plane at high velocities and altitudes was a formidable problem. The U.S. P-51 Mustang, of which more than 15,000 were built, cruised at 580 km/hour and had a maximum speed of 700 km/hour. It was physically impossible for a pilot to escape from the cockpit into such a wind blast, and even if they managed to do so, they would likely be torn apart by collision with the fuselage or tail an instant later. A pilot’s only hope was that the plane would slow to a speed at which escape was possible before crashing into the ground, bursting into flames, or disintegrating.... [Read More]

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