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

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Spare a Moment to Remember

before the last living memories are gone and the revisionists take over.
Today at breakfast, Pere mentioned that it was the 69th anniversary of the flag raising on Iwo Jima.  When TOF was a kid, we asked him where he was in the famous photograph.  I was in front, he said. I called out, "Put the flag here!" and then kept going while they snapped the picture.  We were young and naive and believed him. But he also told us that he had been killed in the battle, and we believed that, too, and burst into tears at the tragedy. Later, we figured it out.  Hey... Wait a minute...

Saturday, February 22, 2014

At Twenty-Three

This article:  David Wise’s alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold, contains a remarkable paragraph; to wit:
At only twenty-three years old, he has a wife, [Alexandra], who was waiting patiently in the crowd, and together they have a two-year-old daughter waiting for them to return to their home in Reno, Nevada. At such a young age, Wise has the lifestyle of an adult. He wears a Baby Bjorn baby carrier around the house. He also attends church regularly and says he could see himself becoming a pastor a little later down the road. Not exactly the picture you had in mind while watching him nail two double corks wearing baggy pants.
TOF will pause here to allow Faithful Reader to ponder this and determine what is wrong.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

TOF in Italian

A popular TOF post is now available in Italian.  The faithfulness of the translation and the nature of the site on which it appears is so far unknown.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Gallimaufry

Mr. Snow prevented TOF from going to Boskone this year, pretty much at the last minute.  If it hadn't snowed last night...  But alas and alack (both of them) the Laurentide Ice Sheet is even now accumulating in TOF's front yard.  Then, of course, the storm proceeded up I-95, much as the pillar of fire preceded the Hebrews out of Egypt, though in a more frigid and slippery manner.  Disinclined to follow in the wake of the storm all the way up (or down) to Boston, TOF and the Incomparable Marge elected to remain among the fleshpots of Castle Flynn.

TOF had planned to present America's Next Top Model at Boskone.  Now he must content himself with translating it into a blog post.  A portion went up already as Part I.  Part II is in the works.
+ + +

Odd Coincidence

A weather map: the Polar Vortex

Wisconsin Glaciation
The edges of the Laurentide glacier are a pretty good fit to the path of the jet stream when deflected by a blocking high. 

In the old novel The Sixth Winter, this was ascribed by the scientists of the time, processed through John Gribbin, to a cooling atmosphere.





Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Wonderful World of Statistics


Crossing the Median

"Fewer than half of first-time home buyers can afford to purchase a median-priced home..."
--Vindu Goel, "The Two Silicon Valleys," New York Times blog post 

Oh, Goody!

  • "John Kerry Has 'No Plans Whatsoever' to Run for President in 2016"--headline, Puffington Host, Feb. 5
  • "Mitt Romney: 'I'm Not Running' in 2016"--headline, Politico.com, Feb. 6
Think if they did run! It could be the first election in the Republic which no one would win.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

America's Next Top Model -- Part I

Let's talk about models.


 No, no, no. Not that kind.  The interesting and exciting kind. Mathematical and statistical models!

TOF can hear your pulses quickening all the way up here in his Fortress of Solitude.  Tell us more, TOF! (he hears you cry).

But you knew that the moretelling was going to happen, didn't you.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The Sixth Winter

Cool!
Recently and for amusement, TOF has been rereading a potboiling SF adventure from the 80s entitled The Sixth Winter by Douglas Orgill and John Gribbin. It was written during the Global Cooling scare and involved the sudden onset of a new ice age. TOF found interesting the following, supposedly an excerpt from a report:
FIVEIn warm decades, such as those prior to 1950, this jet [stream] follows an almost perfect circle around the globe. At the same time, it pushes with it a succession of weather systems: rain, followed by a dry spell, more rain, and so on. But when the atmosphere cools, the jet stream becomes more erratic, swinging in zigzags, first north then south, and becoming very weak and susceptible to disturbances caused by sea temperature and by snow and ice on land and sea.
SIX: Recent severe weather conditions in North America and elsewhere are a result of this weaker, more erratic pattern of windflow. High pressure building over the southwestern United States seaboard, aided by ocean temperature conditions, zigzags the jest stream so that it is too weak to push the "blocking high" system away. A dominant flow from northwest to southeast is established across the whole of the United States east of the Rockies, encouraging the southward flow of the jet stream and cooling a great area of ocean south of Newfoundland. The severe United States winters of 1977 and 1978 marked the return of this pattern as a common feature after more than 100 years of relatively equable weather.
Anyone who has seen the hoo-hoo about the "polar vortex" on the weather reports during the recent cold spell immediately recognizes the pattern described by Gribbin, although it is today blamed on global warming, rather than global cooling -- or at least (tautologically) on "climate change." Elsewhere in The Sixth Winter, characters ascribe to the cooling climate of those days the more variable and extreme weather that is today ascribed to a warming climate.

Ah, sure, and it's the wonderful modern age we live in.  "Men are always powerfully affected by the immediate past," Belloc wrote. "One might say that they are blinded by it."  So in the 1970s they wrote of global cooling, ironically at about the time temperatures turned around and began to warm again. After another thirty years or so, interest in warming reached a pitch -- just in time for temperatures to flatten out and begin to drop again, as the had done after the peak in the 1940s.