Reviews

A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

My 2nd annual memorial day post in honor of those in my family or my wife's who served in the military, going backward in time:
My father's cousin: Sgt. Tommy Flynn, USMC, Vietnam.
CAP team Papa Three
Lived with villagers in the mountains near Cam Lo just a few miles south of the DMZ, as described in A Voice of Hope.



My father:
Pfc. Joseph Flynn,
5th Eng. Btn., 5th Marine Division, USMC
Iwo Jima, Japanese Occupation

My grandfather:
Pfc. Harry Singley
 304th Eng., 72nd "Rainbow" Div., AEF
St. Mihel, Meuse-Argonne Offensive
"a little shrapnel in the leg, a whiff of gas"

My wife's great-great grandfather:
Pvt. John H. Hammontree 
Co. H, 5th Tenn. Inf., US Vol., (3rd Bgd., 3rd Div., 23rd Army Corps, US Army of the Ohio)
Atlanta Campaign: Dalton, Rocky Faced Ridge, Resaca (bullet wound in left leg)

(Note: The photograph is actually of his cousin, Hiram.  Nine or ten Hammontree cousins served in Company H, 5th Tennessee.) 
My wife's great-great-great-great grandfather:
Pvt. James Hammontree
Capt. Duncan's Co., Col. Bunch's Regt. (2nd Regt. East Tennessee Militia)
Battle of Horseshoe Bend (Gen. Andrew Jackson)
Creek (Red Stick) War (War of 1812)




Great-uncles of the previous:
 Pvt. John Hammontree. 
Capt. John Mountjoy's Co. of Foot,
10th Virginia, Continental Line.
Deceased. 24 Feb 1778 at Valley Forge.

Pvt. Harris[on] Hammontree.   
Capt. Wm. Cunningham's Co. of Foot, 
1st Virginia, Continental Line.  
Reported sick at Valley Forge.  
Killed by Indians on VA frontier, 25 Jul. 1781 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Where Were You When the Rapture Hit?

The Day Within the Octave of the Rapture

Well, the Rapture came and went and we're still here.  (Aren't we?)  That means
  1. It happened and we are among the damned who have been Left Behind
  2. The Rapture, like the Higgs boson, is not what we expected it to look like (cf. Millerites, a.k.a. The Great Disappointment)
  3. The Rapture didn't happen
The subcategories of #3 include
  1. It didn't happen yet because Camping made an arithmetic error
  2. It didn't happen because God was so impressed with Camping and his followers that he granted a reprieve
  3. It didn't happen because Matt. 25:13 says we will know neither the day nor the hour.
You gotta admit that a preacher-dude is full of something (and likely not the Holy Spirit) when even the Baptists think he's impious and blasphemous.  (What part of "You shall know neither the day nor the hour" do you not get?) 

It seems to be always these cult-of-personality mullahs/preachers who come up with the whackadoodle stuff.  Possibly because they have no anchor, no bottom.  You never hear of the Traditional Churches launching stuff like that.  I think it's because they have ballast.   

Friday, May 20, 2011

Matthew 25:13



h/t Mark Shea

JC told his apostles, "Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour."  However, some radio preacher in CA evidently has the straight skinny.  Using something suspiciously akin to numerology and the occult casting of horoscopes, he has determined that most of us are going to have our pickings of stereos, TVs, smart phones, abandoned cars, and empty houses come tomorrow.  Of course, if he's wrong, it won't be the end of the world. 

Amateur hour on the radio pulpit. 

That sound you hear is the echo of Matthew 25:12

Monday, May 16, 2011

Interview With a Physicist

The Commemoration of Jean d'Arc, Maid of Orleans

On this day in history, Joan of Arc was canonized a saint of the Roman Catholic Church.  It might could be that women in the Middle Ages did not have all the possibilities of their modern sisters.  But when we recall Joan -- and Sts. Hildegarde of Bingen; Hroswitha of Ganderheim; Gertrude of Helfta, Doctor of Theology; Abbess Petronilla of the dual-abbey at Fontevrault; not to mention Eleanor of Aquitaine and Blanche of Castile; or that the tax rolls of Paris (late 1200’s) list women as schoolmistress, doctor, apothecary, plasterer, dyer, copyist, miniaturist, binder, etc.; and the ‘Inquiries’ of King Louis mention women as hairdresser, salt merchant, miller, farmer, chatelaine, even a woman Crusader!  -- we might pause to consider that they likely had a wider scope of action than their Victorian descendants. 

Hawking Off the Reservation, Again. 

The propensity of physicists to regard themselves as gurus in non-physical matters continues unabated.  The eminent physicist Stephen Hawking was recently interviewed by the Guardian (nee Manchester Guardian) in which exchange he unburdened himself of a number of opinions of no great weight, save he wears the white vestments of the lab coat.  However, his eminence demands that he be taken every bit as seriously as the Dean of Westminster Cathedral should that worthy ever unburden himself on the matter of black holes. 

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Strange Nature of Medieval Fiefs

I was going to leave the RIVER OF STARS poll undistrubed on the bloghead, but this is too important not to share. 

Many fiefs (fees) in the middle ages were for the use of land or for military service; but a fief was really simply service owed in exchange.  Sometimes a peasant might owe "messenger service" and be obligated to don the lord's livery cloak and ride a message to another manor a specified number of times or at a specific time of the year.  These service-fees were called serjeanty in England.  Hence, sergeant-at-arms, etc.  But here we read of a court jester who owed a very peculiar serjeanty in exchange for his land.

The Liber feodorum (Book of fees) for king Henry II informs us that:

Seriantia que quondam fuit Rollandi le Pettour in Hemingeston in comitatu Suff ’, pro qua debuit facere die natali Domini singulis annis coram domino rege unum saltum et siffletum et unum bumbulum, que alienata fuit per particulas subscriptas.

Which translates as:
"The serjeanty, which formerly was held by Roland the Farter in Hemingston in the county of Suffolk, for which he was obliged to perform every year on the birthday of our Lord before his master the king, one jump, and a whistle, and one fart, was alienated in accordance with these specific requirements." 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

One of the Best SF Movies Never Made, Sort Of

The Register (UK) polled its readership for good SF movies that were never made.  In practice, this meant nominating books that had never been moviefied.  They narrowed the list down to fifty (heavily British); then picked the winner.  This was Use of Weapons by Iain M Banks.  Placing second was Niven and Pournelle's The Mote in God's Eye.   

However, buried in the fifty "also-rans" was The Wreck of the River of Stars, by yr. obt. svt., which surely indicates that someone once read the book. 

It does make some sense.  The whole thing takes place inside, or on the skin of, a large ungainly tramp ship; and all of the small cast of characters are human, more or less. 

In the interests of assisting Hollywood in their decision-making, we are asking for nomination for which actors ought to play the various rolls. 
  1. Evan Dodge Hand (captain)
  2. Stepan Gorgas (first officer)
  3. ’Abd al-Aziz Corrigan (second officer)
  4. Eugenie Satterwaithe (third officer and sailing master)
  5. The late Enver Bey Koch (engineer)
  6. Ramakrishnan Bhatterji (engineer)
  7. Mikoyan Hidei (engineer’s mate)
  8. The Lotus Jewel (sysop and purser)
  9. Eaton Grubb (biosystems/life support/cook)
  10. Fransziska Wong, M.D. (ship’s doctor)
  11. Timothy “Moth” Ratline (cargo master)
  12. Nkieruke Okoye (first wrangler)
  13. Raphael “Rave” Evermore (second wrangler)
  14. Twenty-four deCant (third wrangler)
  15. Ivar Akhaturian (least wrangler)
  16. Bigelow Fife (passenger)

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Our Wonderful Modern World

O!  The Humanity!



Next up, physics without forces. 

Next thing you know, they'll be calling Easter eggs "spring spheres," or something.  

Oh, wait.  They did.

For details, see: Contra pusillanimitatem saeculorum  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Iron Shirts




can now be found on-line at TOR.COM.  Don't let that stop you from buying the Kindle version for $0.99.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Headlines You Don't See Every Day

"Man Arrested After Being Found Standing Over Goat, Wearing Women's Underwear"
--headline, Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, May 3

Presumably, it is against the law to do so.

And how did the goat get into women's underwear anyway?
+

"Needle Found in Ex-South Korea President's Lung"--headline, Reuters, May 3

Keeping to the theme of things found in lungs, previously noted here and here.  There is no indication that this needle was related to the fir tree growing in another man's lung.

No Comment Needed

xkcd says it all

Monday, May 2, 2011

Star Wars, by J-P Sarte

This is too good not to share:




h/t Mark Shea

A Mission Accomplished Moment

Red Alert: Osama bin Laden has been killed

Stratfor says:  The United States has killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and recovered his body, according to numerous media reports May 1 citing U.S. officials.

Sunday, May 1, 2011