Happy Moon Day

Forty-seven years ago today, Americans landed on the moon. I was five years old and still remember every bit of it, including my parents letting me stay up way past my bedtime to watch an unassuming man from Wapokoneta, OH, step out and take a stroll.

For the closest thing you may ever have to a front-row seat, check out these painstakingly synchronized audio and video loops from both the spacecraft and mission control. And this video does an excellent job of explaining what was going on inside Eagle and the split-second judgments they had to make just to keep going:

Any one of those glitches could’ve ended in an abort if they weren’t resolved. Not to mention that the computer took them about three seconds long, which would’ve put them down into a boulder field. Being the steely-eyed missile man that he was, Armstrong recognized this with about 500 feet left to go and flew them forward to safer ground. When they finally landed, it was estimated that they had less than twenty seconds of fuel left.

Would that we might muster the will to do such things again.

Decline of the West

This piece in PJ Media set my blood boiling. Read at your own risk, but here’s the takeaway:

…the Islamic Republic of Iran:

  • Helped design the 9/11 plot
  • Provided intelligence support to identify and train the operatives who carried it out
  • Allowed the future hijackers to evade U.S. and Pakistani surveillance on key trips to Afghanistan — where they received the final order of mission from Osama bin Laden — by escorting them through Iranian borders without passport stamps
  • Evacuated hundreds of top al-Qaeda operatives from Afghanistan to Iran after 9/11 just as U.S. forces launched their offensive
  • Provided safe haven and continued financial support to al-Qaeda cadres for years after 9/11
  • Allowed al-Qaeda to use Iran as an operational base for additional terror attacks, in particular the May 2003 bombings in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Iran? Really? Color me unsurprised.

After 9/11, the U.S. declared war on terror and entered Afghanistan and Iraq. But if Bush had really been serious about attacking jihad terror at its root, he would have invaded Saudi Arabia and Iran instead. Under Obama, the denial and willful ignorance have only gotten exponentially worse.

So one President lets them off the hook while the next gives them free license to build nukes. Yeah, this’ll turn out just peachy.

I’m done with these damned fools. Elect whoever you want, I’ll be stocking up on canned food and ammo. If our government won’t defend us, then we’ll just have to be prepared to do it ourselves.

About Ohio

This week, a lot of attention will be fixed on my adopted home state of Ohio. You might have heard there’s kind of a thing going on up in Cleveland, what with Trump University Pledge Week the Republican National Convention being in town. It promises to be a bigger media circus than normal, as the news outlets are just praying for a Black Lives Matter/White Supremacist throwdown in front of Quicken Loans Arena. There’s more than enough stupid on all sides for a Republican version of the Dem’s riotous 1968 Chicago convention. They’d no doubt love to see it.

Well, screw you guys. Here’s how we do things up here:

We have a lot more in common with the good people of Charleston, who unified in defiance of the out-of-town race-baiters who hoped to tear the city apart after last year’s church massacre. The hard lessons of Reconstruction taught us a thing or two about how to deal with carpetbaggers.

Having said that, I have been a conflicted Ohioan for over twenty years now. “Conflicted” because this means nearly half my life has been spent in a state – nay, an entire region – that is supposed to be anathema to a genteel Southern boy.

In other words, I’m supposed to hate it up here in Yankee Land. But here’s the weird thing: I don’t. In fact, there are a couple of things about it that are actually preferable. Excluding the suicidally dismal months of January and February, it ain’t bad. We’re in the middle of a glorious summer and fall is unfailingly spectacular.

Maybe I’m sentimental because this is where our roots have grown, but it’s been a good place to raise our kids despite not being one of the USA’s more exciting regions (or just maybe it’s because of that). Admittedly, I like that the area we live in has a lot more in common with West Virginia and Kentucky than those poor benighted Yankees up in Toledo and Cleveland. But don’t get me started on our ridiculous taxes; that’s what’ll lead me back down south before anything else. And please don’t ask me about the @#$&! Buckeyes. Ever.

And whereas southerners have a mostly well-deserved reputation for eccentricity, the people here are for the most part polite and level-headed. I married an Ohio country girl and wouldn’t trade her for all of the debutantes in Charleston. Not to say that all midwesterners are corn-fed pragmatists, nor are all southerners high-maintenance hysterics. But after dating far too many of the latter in my youth, my first experience with the former quickly showed which type I prefer.

So this week, the rest of you will get to see what we’re really made of here in boring old Ohio. I’m hoping it remains as good as that video. Let the carnival barkers and sideshow acts stay under the GOP’s circus tent. The rest of us have better things to do.

#Brexit…and Beyond!

 

klm-open

(Credit: XCOR Aerospace)

It’s that time of year for Big Airshows that result in Big News of Big Money being spent in Big Aerospace. This year’s Farnborough Air Show doesn’t disappoint, with some welcome news out of the still-intact-for-now United Kingdom. Via Parabolic Arc:

 

XCOR’s Lynx demonstrates that cats may indeed have nine lives:

US manned space launch vehicle designer XCOR Aerospace has signed a strategic Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with spaceplane design and operating company Orbital Access Limited and Glasgow Prestwick Spaceport. This partnership is supported by Scottish Enterprise, the Scottish Government’s economic development agency.

The MoU paves the way for the establishment of manned launch services at Prestwick using XCOR’s Lynx spacecraft with support from existing Scottish aerospace organisations.

This is very good news as the Lynx project ignominiously had the rug pulled out from under it just a few weeks ago. XCOR needed to shift focus to the new engines they’re building for ULA’s Vulcan rocket, but it was still disappointing. Lynx has a lot of potential for personal spaceflight, including something that hasn’t been discussed much in popular media: training new pilots. While it’s been touted as a suborbital tourism and research vehicle, I also see it as potentially being a Space Age Stearman.

In other news out of Farnborough, Reaction Engines UK has secured enough money to finally build a demonstrator SABRE rocket-based combined-cycle engine.

The agreements now in place between Reaction Engines, ESA and the UK Space Agency, together with the working partnership with BAE Systems, set the framework for Reaction Engines to deliver the world’s first SABRE ground demonstrator engine by the end of the decade.

skylon_sabre_cutaway_l

Skylon spaceplane with SABRE engine cutaway. (Credit: Reaction Engines Ltd.)

 

SABRE is exactly the kind of revolutionary propulsion needed to enable the type of point-to-point space travel that I wrote about in Perigee. So yeah, I’d very much like to see this work. God save the Queen!

Our Pain, Your Gain

After the success of last month’s Fathers Day sale, it appears my publisher has elected to keep Perigee and Farside at the discounted price of $3.99 for an indefinite time. Even better, today is Amazon Prime Day which kinda makes it like shopping at WalMart – you go in for one or two things and come out with a cart full stuff you just had to have.

The key word here is indefinite. All good things must come to an end, but I have no idea when that might be. So if you’re filling up that shopping cart anyway then you might as well pick up a couple of great books cheap.

 

Good to be a Gangsta

Leave the blog alone for a while, and all hell breaks loose…

To absolutely no one’s surprise, the FBI officially let Hillary Clinton off the hook.

Let that sink in a minute, then consider what it means for something we used to call the “rule of law.” What incentive is there for the rest of us to follow the law when it’s now painfully clear that it isn’t equally applied? There are real people doing real time in Federal Pound-You-In-The-@$$ Prison for lesser crimes. The irreplaceable Kurt Schlichter predicted where it’s all headed in his Independence Day essay at Town Hall:

The Romans had principles for a while. Then they got tempted to abandon principle for – wait for it – short term political gain. Then they got Caesar. Then the emperors. Then the barbarians. And then the Dark Ages. But hey, we’re much smarter and more sophisticated than the Romans, who were so dumb they didn’t even know that gender is a matter of choice. Our civilization is permanent and indestructible – it’s not like we are threatened by barbarians who want to come massacre us.

There used to be a social contract requiring that our government treat us all equally within the scope of the Constitution and defend us, and in return we would recognize the legitimacy of its laws and defend it when in need. But that contract has been breached. We are not all equal before the law. Our constitutional rights are not being upheld. We are not being defended – hell, we normals get blamed every time some Seventh Century savage goes on a kill spree. Yet we’re still supposed to keep going along as if everything is cool, obeying the law, subsidizing the elite with our taxes, taking their abuse. We’ve been evicted by the landlord but he still wants us to pay him rent.

We are skating on very thin ice. Meanwhile, this old Cruz ad becomes ever more relevant:

Real Men Read Books…So Hurry And Get These On Sale For Dad!

My publisher (the wonderful Baen Books) is running a sale this week, just in time for Father’s Day. Starting Wednesday, Farside and Perigee will be available through all your favorite ebook outlets for the obscenely low price of 99 cents. (Hint: Read Perigee first. It’s a SERIES.) This is a limited-time, don’t-miss chance to get Dad a couple of kick-ass hard Sci-Fi adventure novels to load up that new Kindle or iPad he so richly deserves.
Does Dad like to read the old-fashioned way? Amazon or Barnes & Noble can also get you the paperback version in just a few days.
So you heard it here first, kiddies. Go on, do it – it’ll change your life. Or his. Either way everybody’s happy, including my publisher. Seriously y’all, there’s some real crap out there so here’s your chance for something that’s, well, not crap.*
And don’t wait too long, the sale ends Monday, June 20th.

*Exhibit A of why I didn’t go into advertising: “buy our stuff – it’s not crap!”

Here’s some handy links:

Amazon

Baen

Barnes & Noble

Google Play Books

iTunes

Kobo

Finally, some kind words from a dear friend: “The story is an intriguing rollercoaster ride of twists and turns, and features characters that are real enough to invite to your next barbeque.”

I’ll take that. And barbeque always sounds good.