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

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Science in Drag

"...What a Drag it is to See You." 

That which is most perfected in aerodynamics, the maximum from which all aerodynamic designs take their being, is the Drag Equation, that than which nothing greater can be thought insofar as aerodynamics is concerned.  This equation, under certain realistic assumptions, equates the drag force, FD, with


ρ, the mass density of the fluid through which the object moves
A, the reference area
CD, the drag coefficient
v, the velocity of the object relative to the fluid
There is a certain beauty to this equation, TOF says redundantly.  Consider the equation for light intensity:

c, the speed of light in vacuum
n, the refractive index
ε_o, the vacuum permittivity

E, the complex amplitude of the electric field

A little thought reveals that the form of both equations is identical: one-half a constant times the square of a variable.  If we regard the three constants as one constant -- ρCDA = α, let's say -- the form reduces to ½αv², which is very like the formulae for

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

This aye night. 

I don't know why the YouTube embed is disappearing.  Here is the link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmW5pD9Qdvc

And so whose fault was it?  According to the Council of Trent, yours and mine:

"Reasons Why Christ Suffered"

"Furthermore men of all ranks and conditions were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. Gentiles and Jews were the advisers, the authors, the ministers of his passion: Judas betrayed him, Peter denied him, all the rest deserted him. ... In this guilt are involved all those who fall frequently into sin; for, as our sins consigned Christ the Lord to the death of the cross, most certainly those who wallow in sin and iniquity crucify to themselves again the Son of God, as far as in them lies, and make a mockery of him. This guilt seems more enormous in us than in the ancient Jews, since according to the testimony of the same Apostle: if they had known it, they would never have crucified the Lord of glory; while we, on the contrary, professing to know him, yet denying him by our actions, seem in some sort to lay violent hands on him.”
-- Catechism of the Council of Trent, XVI cent.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Stranger Things, Horatio

There is a kind of fish called a sheepshead that comes in varieties so diverse that one wonders why they are considered a single kind of fish.  For example, one sort gives you psychedelic hallucinations.  A non-hallucinogenic kind has almost-human teeth:
No canine teeth, for what I suppose would be the obvious reason.  And there are molars all over the inside of the mouth, the telos for which is evidently the eating of shellfish, which tend to come with shells. 

But here is the Asian sheepshead, and you cannot make this stuff up. 

That is one ugly fish, unlikely to show up on your menu.  Like its human-toothed conspecific, it does not give you hallucinations.  It is an hallucination.  Sheesh.  

Undoubtedly, someone can come up with a Darwinian adaptationist just-so story that neatly accounts for this fish's head.  My theory is: a) mutations happen, b) this mutation neither killed the fish nor impeded reproduction, and so c) here it is.  Since the fish uses its head in some manner or other, one can point to this usage and claim that this was the telos for which it was naturally selected; but it is surely just as plausible that the telos was the fish's drive-to-survive. 

Why it's called a sheepshead is a mystery. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

In the Stone House

A sneak peek at a work in progress: "The Journeyman: In the Stone House," which features the continuing adventures of Teodorq sunna Nagarajan the Ironarm, begun in "The Journeyman: On the Shortgrass Prairie" and which culminated in the novel Up Jim River.  

I'm taking a palette-cleansing break from The Shipwrecks of Time and have recently been in communications over a possible collaboration.  More on the latter if and when. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

What's the Matter With Matter


A reader at the Auld Blogge on LiveJournal who goes by the caligosian name haunterofmists has engaged in an extended conversation on form, spinning off the orthodox reaction to Nagel's Darwinian heresy, the gist of his questions, like the fogs he haunts, appeared inchoate. Suspecting that the disagreement -- if there even was one -- was due to terminological slippage over the centuries, TOF will here endeavor to lay out as best he can his understanding of the nature of natures.

The first thing to note is that "natural" has taken on a fuzzier meaning in the Late Modern ages, encompassing something like "it happens to to physical causes."  The Late or Post Modern thus is unable to grasp why a baseball thrown by a pitcher exhibits unnatural motion while one falling off a shelf exhibits purely natural motion.  It has to do with "natures" as opposed to Nature.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Meaninglessness of Matter

Sometimes people are so wed to their beliefs that they cannot even read what others say to the contrary.  Consider this comment made by someone called Jeffrey Shallit (Recursivity) on a snippet by Ed Feser.  Shallit bills himself as a "professor," but does not say what he professes.  However, his blog is headlined "Recurrent thoughts about mathematics, science, politics, music, religion, and..."  Few enough are those posting on mathematics who are not themselves mathematicians, so we will suppose that to be the case here.

Now the Feser passage on which he preaches is:
"Thoughts and the like possess inherent meaning or intentionality; brain processes, like ink marks, sound waves, and the like, are utterly devoid of any inherent meaning or intentionality; so thoughts and the like cannot possibly be identified with brain processes."
which he found quoted on an Intelligent Design website.  His incisive critique ran as follows:
Only a creationist could be so utterly moronic. While Feser and his friends are declaring it impossible, real neuroscientists and neurophilosophers are busy figuring it out. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Tabclearingday

Quote of the Day

Within the educational system, the nature of little boys is met with an urgency, severity and unrelenting violence that rivals any hagiographical story of a desert monk chastising his nature with penance and prayer.  If the educational system attacked concupiscence and the sense appetites with the same intensity that they presently attack masculine irascibility, aggression, and lack of ability to sit still and pay attention, then within five years we would have ten million six year old boys living in the wilderness on the top of fifty foot poles.
-- James Chastek, The American Student

Science Kicks the Creationist Dog

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Wreck of The River of Stars


Tor has brought out a trade paperback edition of The Wreck of The River of Stars.  This was the critical and literary success that disappeared in the sales figures.  It is not everybody's cup of tea.  Some have been disappointed it was not an action-adventure or that it was too literary, had too much characterization.  Others found the omniscient narrator, rare within the SF genre, hard to follow.  But others rather liked it.  Not enough others, but still.  You now have another chance. 

The book is also available as an Audible audiobook and as a Kindle.  Also on Barnes&Noble in book and nook.

Some reviewer comments:

"Flynn's fully realized characters, easy mastery of technical detail, and meticulous, consequential style perfectly matches the theme of this long, dense, spellbinding, brilliant work."
-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Leaving Tipperary

And ya gotta have an emigration song, though my favorite version of this one is not on the YouTube
 

This has a curious relationship to the Spiral Arm, since a version of it appears in -- ta-daa -- On the Razor's Edge. The words in that case are:
“The Ship she lifts in half an hour to cross the starry heavens.
My friends are left behind me now with grief and sorrow leavened
I'm just about to slide away in the liner Kat’kutirai
It's disengaged and the hatch is sealed, I'm leaving dear old Terra.”
And it's good-bye, Krish, good-bye, Chang, and good-bye, Mumbai Mary.
She’s disengaged and the hatch is sealed, I'm leaving dear old Terra.
And now the Alfvens’ grabbing space, I have no more to say.
I’m bound for the Periph’ry, boys, a thousand lights away.
 “Then fare you well, old Terra dear, to part my heart does ache well.
From old Kamchatka to Cape Fear, I'll never see your equal.
Although to half-formed worlds we're bound where wild beasts may eat us
We'll ne’er forget the Holy Ground – the daal and beans and taters.”
“And it's good-bye, Krish…

The Boys of the Old Brigade

and what would Feis Padraig be without a rebel song?

The March of O'Sullivan Beare/The Irish Brigade

In January, 1602, the Nine Years War came to an end with the defeat of the Irish and Spanish by the English at Kinsale.  This resulted in the Flight of the Earls (O'Neill and O'Donnell).  One of the holdouts was the O'Sullivan Beare, Donal Cam, who in 1603 gathered his remaining followers, including women and children, and set off for the North, on a 250-mile march which he and his people completed in 14 days.  He fought a long rearguard action across Ireland, during which the much larger English force harried him all the way -- as did rival Irish clans. The march is one of the most poignant in Irish history and was marked by enormous suffering as the fleeing and starving O'Sullivans sought food from an already decimated Irish countryside in winter, often resulting in hostility, such as from the Mac Egans at Redwood Castle in Tipperary. O'Sullivan marched through Aughrim in Co. Galway, where he raided villages for food and met with local resistance. He fought a skirmish with crown forces at Glinsk Castle, where he was victorious, and led his refugees further north.  This brought him into the Sil Maelruain, for the Bridge of Glinsk was the southernmost bound of O'Flynn's County.  O'Sullivan's route through O'Flynn's Country is well authenticated and must have been facilitated by O'Flynn guides. How else could complete strangers find their way safely through water logged marshes and rugged mountains in mid winter?  He made his escape across Ballymoe and over O'Flynn's Mountain, avoiding the village of Ballinlough (Town by O'Flynn's Lake). He camped over-night in the woods north of the village where he was befriended by the O'Flynns from their castle on the hill.  Such befriending would not have been seen in a favorable light by the pursuing crown forces and O'Flynn would not have done himself any favors in their eyes.    
Of course, some twenty years before, Fiachra O'Flynn of Ballinlough, chief of his name, had refused to sign the Indenture and Compossicion of Conoght, and his son Thomas had been hanged at Ros-Comain the following year; and in 1650, Cromwell's council will order the arrest of Fiachra O'Flynn ("armed and dangerous") for resisting the Commonwealth.  So maybe kissing English butt was not a high priority in the eyes of the O'Flynn. 
There is a tradition that many of O'Sullivan Beare's followers dropped off here and there on the route and settled in friendly places. There is evidence of this in O'Flynn's Country with southern names such as Carty, McCarthy and O'Callaghan that can trace their roots back to that time.  

When the O'Sullivans Beare finally arrived at The O'Rourke's castle in Leitrim, only 35 of the original 1,000 remained. 






And speaking of the Wild Geese off to France....

Dicey Riley

 
 It ain't all skittles and beer.

Peggy Lettermore

and I defy anyone to disagree.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Darwinist Mob?

Hitting the Nagel on the head
The New Republic, a magazine evidently inspired by an H.G.Wells essay of the same name, has published an essay entitled "A Darwinist Mob Goes After a Serious Philosopher," by Leon Wieseltier.  Immediately (you guessed it) a Darwinist mob went after him in the comment section.    All the while blinking incredulously saying What Darwinist mob?  We don't see no Darwinist mob!  Nobody here but us chickens. 

What most of the commenklatura seemed to miss was that Wieseltier's essay did not concern itself with whether Darwinism per se is true or false - the answer is clearly 'yes' - but with the crypto-religious reaction of the Darwinistas to the whiff of heresy sniffed out from Thomas Nagel’s book Mind and Cosmos.  Now Nagel is one of the top philosophers of consciousness in the modern world and he is adamantly opposed to religion.  It is not that he thinks the existence of God is wrong, but that he hates and fears the whole idea that God exists.  This would seem to put him on the side of the angels (in a manner of speaking) insofar as readers of TNR are concerned.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

6. The Faint Smile of Gustav Sorgensson

Jumping ahead of the Fierce Combat of Ogier the Dane, Schultzi the Beast and the odd bonding of Wilma and Carole, as well as sundry other bits and pieces adding foreboding for conditions in Milwaukee, we rejoin Frank as he visits Sorgensson in Aachen.  We have skipped over a precis of his journey down the Rhine, an encounter in Karlsruhe with an American student there, and his discovery of a letter by the Bardi factor he finds in the Landesarchiv which hints at what the Peruzzi Manuscript was all about.  He is now meeting Sorgensson.   

     Gustaf Sorgensson was a big man across the shoulders, who wore his hair clipped short in a manner fast passing out of style.  His hands were big and when he clenched them knuckles stood out like boulders from the earth.  A short, boxed beard covered, without quite concealing, an old scar.  His most marked feature, however, was his eye patch.  The scar ran up across his cheek and under the patch. 

Read more here

Be Right, Back

Never throw anything out that you may need later. 

This applies especially to your lower back. 

TOF is presently mobility-impaired, bed-ridden, hobbling, and the like.  In consequence and much to his dismay he is forced to be Lunacon 2013 GOH in abstentia this weekend.  Unless something miraculous happens, like a Jesuit is elected Pope or something. 

Nah.  Even that didn't help.  So the one and only time I've ever been GoH'ed has been blown  up. 

Standing hurts.  Sitting hurts.  Lying down hurts.  Changing positions hurts the most.  Was prescribed a muscle relaxer.  That made things hurt even more.  Getting much use from my shillelagh, though not the use I had hoped for; viz., bopping knuckleheads.
* * *

Speaking of Jesuits, the Spook has Spoke.


The Incomparable Marge is partial to the Jebbies, having attended Marquette and Regis; while I am partial to the Franciscans in whose third-order robes my brother was buried.  So now we have a Jesuit pope who picked the name Francis.  Go figure.  The Dominicans put out a press release: "Conclave discovers Jesuit still loyal to the Pope."  (Mwahaha.  Inside humor.)

Of course, he may have meant Francis Xavier rather than Francis of Assisi.  It took the MSM a while to realize that possibility.  My theory: both.

We also now have a chemist as Pope.  That should get a reaction.  Guess he never got the word that religion and science are incompatible. 

Of course, once again the Spook comes in from nowhere, confounding all the bookmakers and playahs.  They didn't expect Ratzinger, either, if you recall. 

Now begins the fun task of pushing a square Catholic pope into the round pigeon-holes of US politics. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Mean Streets of Old Alexandria - Redux

By sundry means was TOF made aware of this article on Hypatia of Alexandria posted on something called RationalWiki [sic]. As with all things internettingly wiki, the sourcing is rather scattergun with a marked preference for tertiary sources.  Back on The Auld Blogge there was a multi-part series on the life and context of Hypatia, beginning here.
[sic] rational ∩ wiki = Ø by the nature of wikish procedure.  The results of desultory serial committee overrulings is not prima facie "rational." At best, it may be group-think.  

But let us see what counts for reference among the rationals.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Shipwrecks of Time - Again

Next to last excerpt. 

     When the time came to leave for Europe, Professor Henkle drove Frank to Chicago, where he could catch Pan Am’s Flight 58 to Frankfurt.  Flying was expensive.  The leg from Chicago to New York alone had set the Institute back seventy-five dollars, a full day’s wages for most people, so there was no reason to add a puddle-jumper out of Billy Mitchell Field. 
     After getting through the construction mess in Milwaukee, the ride down the new “interstate” highway was smooth.  Dr. Henkle worried the whole way. 

Continued on the PREVIEW page. 

Whoa, What's This?

adam amateur theology Aquinas argument from motion Aristotelianism art atheism autumn of the modern ages books brains breaking news captive dreams cartoon charts chieftain clannafhloinn comix commentary counterattack crusades culcha dogheads easton stuff economics eifelheim evolution factoids on parade fake news fallen angels Feeders fir trees in lungs firestar flicks floods flynncestry flynnstuff forecasts forest of time fun facts gandersauce gimlet eye global warming glvwg headlines henchmen high frontier history home front how to lie with statistics humor hush-hush hypatia in the house of submission irish Iron Shirts irrationalism january dancer jihad journeyman kabuki kool letter lion's mouth lunacon maps mayerling medieval metrology miscellany modern mythology moose zombies music new years nexus odds odds and ends paleofuture passing of the modern age philosophy philosophy math poetry politics psyched out! public service quality quiet sun quote of the day razor's edge redefinition of marriage religio reviews river of stars scandal science science marches on scientism scrivening shipwrecks of time shroud skiffy skiffy in the news skools slipping masks some people will believe anything stats stories stranger things the auld curmudgeon the madness continues the new fascism the spiral arm the writing life thomism thread o' years tofspot topology untergang des abendlandes untergang des morgenlandes up jim river video clips vignettes war on science we get letters we're all gonna die whimsy words at play xmas you can't make this stuff up