The blog’s been dormant for awhile (okay, a long while), so you may rightly wonder what I’ve been up to. There’s this little thing, coming January 2020:
Balancing work on my first “real” novel for Baen against a full-time day job and family commitments kept me incredibly busy. Something had to give.
So I quit the day job.
If that sounds nuts to you, rest assured it still feels nuts to me. Just so you know, I didn’t completely throw caution to the wind – I’m now a contractor in a job that pays fairly well for being part time, which enables me to write full time. This is a window of opportunity which needed to be taken advantage of, meaning that I can’t take three years to finish a novel anymore and expect to make it as a writer.
Life has changed dramatically for us in just about every way. Much, much more to follow as I breathe life back into this site. In the meantime, enjoy the cover and pre-order FROZEN ORBIT at Amazon.
Google ads has refused to do business with a Christian publishing house “because of the faith we express on our website,” said Concordia Publishing House CEO Bruce Kintz in a Facebook post today.
“Google ads will no longer accept anything related to the cph.org domain. They stated the reason is because of the faith we express on our website,” Kintz wrote. “[A CPH associate] was told, as an example, that things like our bible (sic) challenge on our [Vacation Bible School] webpage would clearly need to come down before they could consider us for ads.”
Let that sink in. They take exception to a church publishing house hosting apps for Vacation Bible School.
Ever been to a Lutheran service? Not exactly filled with the fervent faithful speaking in tongues and tossing snakes around. Google is afraid of a bunch of exceedingly polite people doing…what exactly? Teaching manners to their kids? Believing in a higher power? Holding another Sunday potluck?
If they’re this bad with the Lutherans, you can imagine how they really feel about the rest of us knuckle-dragging rednecks.
It’s like the whole country is a field of dried grass and the hard left just can’t stop lighting matches to see what happens. As Col. Schlichter has pointed out, if they’re this afraid of the “Christian” right, they’re really going to hate the non-Christian right.
A resourceful filmmaker named Christian Stangl has animated thousands of NASA photos into a gorgeous video tribute to Apollo, well worth 7.3 minutes of your time:
UPDATE! Almost forgot this compelling short by Andrew Finch. It’s amazing when you see what his team accomplished on what must have been a shoestring budget – even using actual SFX models with the CGI:
Connect the dots. There is a pattern. A direction. An ugly revolution churning in this country.
America has done more uplifting of humanity and promotion of freedom than any other country in the history of this planet. We Jews have been blessed beyond our wildest fantasies, enjoying her gifts, her bounty, her grace but we must step away from what is happening and not be seduced by a deceitful, pandering mirage. The Left is not our friend, not as Americans and not as Jews.
That one’s gonna leave a mark. It’s from FrontpageMag, so I doubt too many of the people who need to see it most actually will. Could be wrong. Hope I am. Read the whole thing and decide for yourself.
The next piece from American Spectator wraps the whole thing up with a nice little bow: It’s time we had a talk about…hmm…I don’t know…maybe…
Come to think of it, this might just become a recurring theme around here.
If this inside story of the rot at West Point is accurate, the implications are truly frightening. There’s no good reason to not believe it, given the evidence:
No institution is perfect. My alma mater certainly isn’t; many of us Old Corps alums are gravely concerned about declining standards among cadets.
That’s the way it goes with each passing generation: them kids today got it easy! When we expect perfection, every flaw is magnified all the more. But…
Anyone who cares about the integrity of our armed forces (sadly, not enough of us) has real cause for concern. The warfighters have largely been purged to make way for a new crop of PC wussies who are now field and flag grade officers. That’s how an avowed Communist makes it through a place like West Point.
The worst part is this guy graduated to assume the sacred duty of leading troops. Which means, as usual, it’s the enlisteds who will suffer the most.
Sarah Hoyt describes her struggle to reconcile competing views on one of the 20th century’s visionaries. Her perspective is unique: having experienced the Portugese Revolution as a young girl, she knows of what she speaks.
Having also just recently toured Marshall Space Center, this has been on my mind as well. I’ve always wondered how normal people, just trying to live their lives, perceive a national descent into hell like Nazism or Communism as it’s happening. How many tiny compromises does one make each day just so it’s possible to see the next?
I suppose the only cut-and-dried solution would’ve been mass execution of all captured Germans: kill ’em all, let God sort ’em out. Good thing we didn’t, likewise a good thing that we picked him up before the Red Army got to him.
As you guys know I’ve been reading about von Braun. Mostly I’ve been reading about Von Braun because I visited Huntsville for TVIW and got curious. Before that all I’d heard bout him, as a person, was, dropped in a conversation “I figure he was a true psychopath who didn’t care, so long as he got to space.”
After reading four biographies (two for, two against) I regret to tell you that I’m not sure that was true.
I come neither to bury Von Braun not to praise him. I doubt if he knew, in himself, if he was a villain or a hero. And I doubt he was a psychopath. The reason I doubt he was the later is that he didn’t take to a totalitarian regime like a duck to water. Instead he tried to compromise his soul a little at a time, a vestige of humanity and…
I’m a little too angry to write much here. I’m not going to go into the shooting itself. For one thing, for the first 2-3 days you usually have more speculation and made-up nonsense than actual facts. Instead, I’m going to go into the responses of some people to this tragedy. So, let’s see that folk had to say:
Isn’t that just charming?
Let’s see what else is out there. Oh, there’s this gem:
Leaving aside the factual errors (giving her the benefit of the doubt) in the statements look at the line “I don’t feel sorry or feel bad about what happened in Las Vegas”.
Only counting those who voted not those supporters who, for whatever reason, didn’t make it to the polls, that’s just under 63 million people “i am cassie” wants dead–over political differences. Five times the total killed in the Holocaust, she wants dead because she…
I long ago came to accept the fact that any news from the aerospace world that makes it into the popular media is going to be laughably misunderstood and misrepresented. The meatgrinder of 24/7 “news” amplifies the problem as reporters rush to be first while receiving less and less editorial oversight.
One site where I didn’t expect to see this kind of nonsense was The Verge, where this epically dumb opinion piece on Elon Musk’s Mars 2.0 plans appeared. I’d say it smacks of the misleading tripe normally foisted on the Wall Street Journal or USA Today by LockMartBoeing corporate shills, but that would be unfair to misleading tripe. Nope, it’s just pig-ignorant right out of the gate:
Elon Musk is obsessed with traveling between any two points on Earth in less than 30 minutes.
No, he’s obsessed with driving down launch costs so humans can go to Mars. As anyone who actually pays attention to this business already knows. But hey, at least he consulted some experts:
“You can’t fly humans on that same kind of orbit,” Brian Weeden, director of program planning for Secure World Foundation, told The Verge. “For one, the acceleration and the G-forces for both the launch and the reentry would kill people. I don’t have it right in front of me, but it’s a lot more than the G-forces on an astronaut we see today going up into space and coming back down, and that’s not inconsiderable.”
First of all, it’s not really an orbit. It’s suborbital, which is the whole point. More accurately, it’s an antipodal trajectory. And why would the g-forces (apparently distinct from “acceleration,” but we’ll let that one slide for now) necessarily be more than what astronauts experience? It’s not like they’re being strapped to the nose of an ICBM. Sorry, but “I don’t have it right in front of me” doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence in this guy’s expertise.
Mind you, I can’t see your typical airline passenger being willing or able to pull 3 or 4 g’s for extended periods of time but I do think there are enough people of means who’d be willing to spend serious money on a suborbital hop that actually took them somewhere. Unless the radiation environment fries them in their seats, that is:
Another problem with ballistic trajectory is radiation exposure in the vacuum of space, Weeden added. To be sure, astronauts on the International Space Station are largely shielded from this radiation, thanks to Earth’s magnetic field, which deflects most of the deep-space particles. But his indifference toward the impact that these interstellar concepts would have on human bodies is classic Musk.
Ignoring the “interstellar concepts” bit, we’re expected to believe there’s no way to keep a suborbital P2P trajectory below the Van Allen belts? Or shield the cabin? Planning for radiation exposure is already a major factor in long-haul polar routes. If only someone had studied these problems before! Oh, wait…someone did:
One of the most striking conclusions to come out of the DOT paper is the effects this type of futuristic travel could have on pilots. “The pilot will have to deal with activities ranging from direct control of the vehicle to oversight and situational awareness to planning,” the paper’s author, Ruth A. MacFarlane Hunter, a national expert on logistics and emergency management and a registered professional aeronautical engineer, wrote. “The much larger array of instruments and situations may require the pilot to quickly shift to a different activity using different instruments.”
Sigh. There’s a lot of good info in that paper, which happened to be one of my sources while doing research for Perigee. There’s also some ill-informed crap, notably this: “The pilot will have to deal with activities ranging from direct control of the vehicle to oversight and situational awareness to planning.”
How does any of that differ from the current environment, other than altitude and Mach number? There’s no doubt it’ll require a level of piloting skill not currently demanded of your average graybeard plying the airways in a 787, but I think they’ll be able to find a few who can handle it. There’s a lot of ex-military and even Shuttle pilots out there flying the friendly skies. And those guys aren’t exactly working alone, either. Oversight, situational awareness, and planning…sounds a lot like mission control to me. That’s why airlines have operations centers that rival what you might see at NASA: it’s a complicated business where things happen fast, and nobody expects the pilots to do all the work themselves. Hell, we don’t want them to. That’s also why we have dispatchers and load planners and ATC specialists and performance engineers: so all the pilots need to do is check our work and fly the airplane.
What scares me is this came from a Department of Transportation aeronautical engineer – in other words, someone who ought to know better. No wonder we have to put up with so much nonsense from the regulators…
This type of display, and the responsibilities of taking off and landing an interplanetary rocket full of men, women, and children, might be too much for normal pilots to handle. In fact, it could cause the pilot to have a total nervous breakdown.
So are we “interplanetary” or “interstellar?” I’m confused. This reminds me of the kinds of knee-jerk scaremongering from the early days of spaceflight (not that I was there, but I do read a lot).
There’s plenty enough to pick at without adding ill-informed assertions to the mix. For instance, I don’t see how this is going to be affordable for a very long time – certainly not in time for it to help bankroll Musk’s Martian dreams. Passenger safety is a huge concern – it’s also going to be a long time before this system is reliable enough to start selling tickets.
The riskiest phases of flight are takeoff and landing. When you’re talking about a spacecraft the size of an A380 doing that on its tail…well, that’s a whole new level of pucker factor. Everything we do when building an airliner’s flight plan considers the loss of an engine at the worst possible times: takeoff roll, over water, over mountains, on final. And if a big jet happens to lose everything (exceedingly rare, but it has happened), it can still glide. A BFR falling to its landing pad won’t have that option. If it loses power, it’s toast. Even a helicopter can autorotate and not fall out of the sky.
But if everything works – and I think it will, eventually – it’ll be awesome. Sign me up.