Feb 292012

Hoo boy.

Dutch launch mobile euthanasia teams

See, here’s the thing: I’m all in favor of euthanasia. The idea of forcing someone who is in agony to stay alive simply because we *can* is repugnant to me. I would no more condemn someone who is dying of Horrible Brain Fire Syndrome and decides to take themselves out than I would condemn one of the WTC jumpers who chose to go *splat* rather than burn up like a charcoal briquet.

But somehow it seems to me that there is no way on Odin’s green Midgard that a “mobile euthanasia team” is going to slip by without making a whole bunch of people just go *ape.*

 Posted by at 11:17 pm
Feb 292012

Some books… selling them for $5.00 (plus postage) each. First come, first served… and by this I mean “first to comment, first to get ‘em.” To comment, click on the post title above (“Buy It Now: Pulp!”) and let me know which set(s) you want. US orders will ship via media mail unless other arrangements are made. Paypal prefered.
1) Ira Levin, “The Stepford Wives.” 1972, first edition with dust jacket. In really good condition.
2) Arthur Hailey, “Airport.” 1968, first edition with dust jacket. The jacket is a little rough, but the rest of the book is in really good condition.
3) E. M. Nathanson, “The Dirty Dozen.” 1965, first edition. No dust jacket. Book is in fairly good condition.
4) Payne Harrison, “Storming Intrepid.” 1989, first edition with dust jacket and plastic cover. Former Dugway Proving Ground Library book. Some library stamps and such, but otherwise virtually mint… looks like it was never checked out. I read this about two decades ago, and I recall it being substantially awesome. The Soviets steal a space shuttle; spies, armed spaceplanes and B-2 bombers laying waste. Woo!
5) A. Meritt, “The Metal Monster.” Hyperion press, 1974 paperback.
6) Garrett P. Serviss, “A Columbus of Space.” Hyperion press, 1974 paperback.
7) Harold Lamb, “Marching Sands.” Hyperion press, 1974.

The last three are quality reprints of early (1890s to 1940s) sci-fi yarns.

 Posted by at 8:04 pm
Feb 292012

Last year, this video hit the YouTubes:

[youtube vcUDYBIrWio]

Since then, a whole bunch of other “strange sounds” vids have been posted… most, if not all, hoaxes, some of them really lame and obvious hoaxes. I would be entirely unsurprised to find that the original Kiev video is also a hoax. Still, hoax or not it has intensely creepy audio, with shades of the tripods from the 2005 “War of the Worlds.” Evidence of this being a hoax comes in the form of the sounds conveniently dying away during conversations.

The curious thing is, hoax or not, weird-ass sounds coming from everywhere, or the sky, or the ground are not new. For example, the “Lake Music” that haunted Yellowstone National Park from the 1800’s to the 1930’s.

The Kiev sounds *could* be explained by way of some industrial process – factory, train, construction, something – at some considerable distance, but unusual meteorological/wind conditions making a “channel” for the sound to come floating in. Note that the video is being shot from several stories up in an apartment complex… lots of opportunities for echoes  among these dreary-looking concrete boxes.

Living out here in a wide, flat rural valley you can sometimes here things from considerable distance… individual birds in the swamps several miles away, helicopters over the mountains, even conversations a mile away. There is a persistent low-frequency “hum” out here, audible in the warmer parts of the year; it sounds like a pump or some such…. which makes all kinds of sense. But after years of trying, I’ve been unable to locate it, and it’s annoying as hell… and the closer to underground you are, the louder it is. Which indicates that it’s a ground-mounted or sub-surface machine some distance from here, its sound transmitted through the ground rather than the air. Weird and annoying it may be, but it’s explainable (less easily explainable are the “electric arc” flashes I’ve seen twice out here that light up miles of territory – several miles of the Wasatch mountains, for example – for a split second, but that’s another story).

There’s a website devoted to these noises: http://strangesoundsinthesky.com/

And a Wikipedia entry on Unexplained Sounds.

One idea I like is that this is some sort of “Cloverfield” viral marketing campaign for a horror movie. The Kiev audio certainly would fit in with a Cthulhu flick.

However, if the sounds really are real, then I think there’s really only one explanation: Gjallarhorn.  Fenris the wolf will soon run loose. Jörmungandr will cause trouble in the seas, Surt will come forth and set fire to every damn thing. All that’s needed now is for Fimbulwinter to come along… admittedly, not something that seems too likely just now.

 Posted by at 12:59 am
Feb 282012

Another PR card showing an X-30 NASP configuration, this being a 1990 Rockwell configuration. It’s similar to but noticeably fatter than the earlier generic configuration (shown HERE).

Hi-rez versions of these can be downloaded HERE.

 Posted by at 11:37 am
Feb 282012

I have recently been obsessively hammering away at the Nuclear Pulse Propulsion book. 12 to 18 hour days, where I get *maybe* half a page done (either via text of CAD work). Next on my agenda is to re-read Niven/Pournelle’s “Footfall” (beginning right after I log off), and to start working on a 3D CAD model of the Michael. I recently thumbed through the book and found some of the descriptions… they’re pretty vague. My starting point will be the Spadoni diagrams, but I’m not going to slavishly stick to them if I think things should be otherwise.

The CAD work will be open to public discussion. Attempts to contact Niven and Pournelle to ask about whether they’d be willing and available to critique have failed to get a response, so this will end up being “non-canon,” I guess. One of the big problems right off is just how big the Michael is. There is a description of a segment of the pusher “dome” sitting across some docks… and being two yards thick (Orion was to use a pusher plate that in the giant-size vehicles would be several *inches* thick). And page 523 has one of the aliens describe the size of the ship as “twice eight-cubed srupkithp.” On page 195, one “srupk” (the plural of which seems to be “srupkithp”) is defined as 5.8 feet. So… the size would seem to be roughly 2 X 8X8X8 X 5.8 feet, or 5939 feet… 1.23 miles/1.8 kilometers. This is way too big; this was confirmed around a decade ago when I had about three milliseconds of face-to-face time with Pournelle at a sci-fi convention and he looked at me like I was a particularly ugly and intellectually challenged bug when I raised the numbers. But that’s all I have currently. If anyone has ideas, suggestions or sketches of yer own, here’s the place to put ’em forth.

The alien ships in “Footfall” are also nuclear pulse craft, so they’d be relevant as well, but I don’t recall much in the way of descriptive details about them.

 Posted by at 2:26 am
Feb 282012

I was deciding whether or not to yammer on about this movie. I saw it over the weekend… on the whole: meh. The plot was vacant, the acting was often just plain *bad.* But the combat scenes were all kinds of awesomesauce.

As I said, I was pondering whether or not to post anything about it… until I read a Fark.com thread about how in its first weekend it made twice its budget. And one of  the commenters there *nailed* the perfect review for this movie:

I saw it. What were critics expecting? This was originally supposed to be a “direct to DVD, shown on cable” type of movie until they got Bin Laden. The acting was (to put it politely) mediocre, the plot was almost an afterthought, and the lines themselves were fairly stupid. But, since the SEALS were the ones who designed them, the action scenes were top notch, and insanely realistic. It was, as a friend called it, much like Battle: Los Angeles, “Moto Porn”. You don’t watch it for the plot or the dialogue, you watch it for the money shots. In regular porn, that might be two blonde twins, an Asian midget, and a redheaded cheerleader who are “studying in their dorm room” when a pizza guy and the psych professor stop by. In moto porn, it’s when you lead the terrorists on a wild car chase before they run headfirst into a patrol boat armed with miniguns.

Critics looked at the movie and said “my god that was terrible”. Audiences looked at the movie and went “holy shait, that was awesome”

What impressed me the most about this movie was the choice of villain: in this era of astonishing political correctness, the bad guy here is a Chechen jihadist, leading a group of Philipino jihadists on a quest to sneak into the US, by way of Mexican drug cartels, in order to suicide-bomb a bunch of public events.

Back in the 1990’s, I was on the side of the Chechens in their fight against the former Soviet Union. That crap started to unravel on 9-11-2001, accelerated on 23-10-2002, and came to a freakin’ end on 9-1-2004. So it’s refreshing to see ’em get whacked on the big screen. And whacked the villains do get in this movie. My favorite scene had a couple of boats open up on a couple truckloads of central American drug cartel fighters. Specifically, the boats opened up on ’em with *miniguns.* With tracer rounds, it looked like the US Navy had started equipped brown water craft with frakin’ phaser cannon.

I have previously blathered forth about how when Hollywood makes an “America sucks” war movie, it doesn’t do so well, but when they make a “yay, America’s awesome” war movie, it generally does well.  Since “Act of Valor” made twice it’s budget in *two* *days,* it’s safe to say that this one fits in with my hypothesis fairly well.

 Posted by at 1:56 am