Dec 262016

If you somehow have failed to catch the 1998 movie “Deep Rising,” go do so now.

It is one of those rare unabashedly goofy horror movies that is just plain entertaining. And it’s really entertaining for one reason… the banter from Finnegan (Treat Williams) and Joey (Kevin O’Connor) is at times “Firefly” level.

The short form: Finnegan is the captain/pilot of a privately owned PT-boat (or something like one), hired to transport a team of mercenaries out into the middle of nowhere in the South China Sea. The destination is a giant cruise liner, with the plan being to raid and loot the joint. But when they get there, they find that the ship has already been attacked… by initially unidentified sea monsters. Essentially the entire load of passengers and crew are most distinctly dead. Eminently quotable hijinks ensue.

The critters are CGI, and the passage of nearly 20 years does show some weaknesses. But on the whole they are servicable, and there is one especially ick-tacular scene with a not-quite-dead victim that is entirely effective and presages Two-Face from “The Dark Knight.”

I’ve been a fan of this flick since I first saw it nearly 20 years ago. It is one of the inspirations for at least some of the tone I shoot for in my Zaneverse tales.


 Posted by at 11:37 pm
Dec 262016

Ah, universities. Where young adults can go to get wholly screwed up by people who are already wholly screwed up. Witness assistant professor of history at Drexel university George Ciccariello-Maher, a self-described Communist, who recently tweeted:

“All I Want for Christmas is White Genocide.”

Now, it turns out that this was a bit much even for a modern American university, so Drexel just came down with a horrifyingly harsh response: a strongly worded letter. As a result, George Ciccariello-Maher has claimed that his tweet was “satire,” that “white genocide” is not a real thing and that only white supremacists talk about it. The Snopes page on this issue covers his response to the Drexel rebuke in some depth, leaving one with the impression that, just perhaps, George Ciccariello-Maher really is just bad at satire.

However, the Internet has a memory:

Drexel Professor Has A History Of Hating White People And Wishing For Their Genocide

We can read some of George Ciccariello-Maher’s previous statements, such as:

To clarify: when the whites were massacred during the Haitian Revolution, that was a good thing indeed.” Note: some 4,000 white folks in Haiti were ethnically cleansed/genocided in Haiti in the 1804 revolution.

“Yacub made a lot of white folks.” Note: Yacub is the fictional evil scientist who created white people in the back story of the Nation of Islam’s fictional theology.

And of course, “Abolish the White Race,” backed up with his more recent statement of “White isn’t a race.”

Obviously there are some odd contradictions here. A guy who claims that “white genocide” is a myth, yet praises an actual historical incident of it. He wants to abolish a race he then claims doesn’t exist. On one level, you might think we’re dealing with cognitive dissonance. But there is another explanation, one that answers the issue more accurately, I believe. From his recent response to Drexel’s reprimand, he says:

“White supremacy is on the rise, and we must fight it by any means.”

Whether “white supremacy” is on the rise can be debated. But once you say that you “must fight it by any means,” you open the door to, of course, any means. Including lying. So, sometime in the past he told what he saw as the truth: that white people (of which he is one) should be exterminated. Now that he has been called out on it, and his career *perhaps* put in some jeopardy (most universities supposedly officially take a dim view of calling for genocide and such), he’s saying “just kidding.”


So is “white supremacy” on the rise? I dunno. But I can be fairly certain of this: people like George Ciccariello-Maher saying that whites should be exterminated… well, that’s not exactly going to drive people away from white nationalism. One wonders if perhaps, just barely perhaps, George Ciccariello-Maher and his ilk are agents of the American Nazi party or some such.

 Posted by at 6:58 pm
Dec 262016

Normally “How do we get more boys to take ballet dancing classes” is exactly the sort of NPR radio topic that would have me complaining “I can’t change the channel fast enough,” but today it was different. Today it was belly-laugh inspiring.

Driving down the road, this came on the radio:

Ballet Studios Try New Ways To Get Boys To Sign Up

The short form is: boys aren’t signing up for ballet dancing as much as people who care about ballet dancing would like. This, to me, sounds like the absolute embodiment of “first world problems,” but I suppose if ballet is your thing, it might be an issue. They described the incredible cost of ballet classes, pointing out that a girl taking such classes from an early age with the aim of going pro might have $100,000 worth of tuition and fees and such by the time she finishes high school. That… seems like a lot.

Given the social stigma of boys ballet dancing, it should hardly be surprising that the idea of spending $100K *before* high school graduation seems like an unlikely way for a family to spend money on their son, especially when that $100K could be used to put Junior through some sort of trade school to learn a skill that’s actually useful to society, like plumbing or contract assassination or computer repair. So, how do ballet schools entice boys into signing up? One approach: make the classes free for boys.

This approach should sound familiar. “We have an unwelcome imbalance between the sexes in this class. So we’ll adjust tuition (and, presumably entrance requirements) in order to build up the population of the  Chosen Identity Group.” But lo and behold, some people who seem like they’d be just fine with this in other contexts somehow have a problem with it here. Interviewed for the piece was Gwen Young, director of the Global Womens Leadership Initiative (“and an expert on gender issues”): “I don’t think it’s fair. It distorts the incentives and it’s not based on skill, it’s not based on qualities and interest. I do not think it’s just and I don’t think it’s the right way to get at the gender balance that these schools are desiring.”

Huh. How about that. Using ballet to make the case *against* affirmative action or gender (and by extension, racial) set-asides, quotas and the like.

And a following piece was on people fighting against meme images. I guess these folks haven’t heard of the Streisand Effect.

 Posted by at 1:53 pm
Dec 252016

The first trailer appeared today. Looks kinda “meh” to me. Which might be a good thing: I thought the first trailer for “Prometheus” was fan-bloody-fargin-tastic, and made it look like the bestest thing ever. And we all know how *that* turned out.

 Posted by at 1:17 am
Dec 252016

Volcano That Caused Europe’s Largest Volcanic Eruption Stirring Again: What Would Happen If A Supervolcano Erupts?

Short form: there’s a supervolcano in Italy, Campi Flegrei, and it’s showing hints of life. It went off 200,000 years ago and 40,000 years ago, possibly contributing to the extinction of European Neanderthals. This is an 8-mile caldera under the bay of Naples.

 Posted by at 1:11 am
Dec 242016

So every so often I post a bit of fiction. Not too often, just now and again. Most of what I’ve posted has been set in my (for lack of a less annoying name) “Zaneverse,” a period 500 or so years down the line featuring the characters of Zane, Sarah, Loff and George as they wander the spacelanes. The most recent thing I posted was the multi-part yarn “Going to Gimli.” Well, it seems that a blog reader read this, liked it and passed it on to a Famous Science Fiction Author Y’all Know Of, who apparently also liked it enough that he communicated back to the blog reader that he thinks that it could be expanded out into a novel, and he’d be willing to write a letter of recommendation to a publisher about it. So… huh.

After Analog magazine shot down my earlier effort “Mass Disappearance” without comment, I gave up on the notion of my stuff being published, and now I just write in order to, well, write. “Gimli,” while being a stand alone story, was  considered to be the first of three parts that would tell a longer, more complex story, and it is this that I think could be made into a novel. Since posting “Gimli” I wrote another complete story that takes place shortly afterwards and would, I guess, actually be Part 1.5 of the three parts. I am now banging away on Part 2.

So… who knows. Maybe I might actually publish a Zaneverse novel one of these days.


If interested, see my first story “Mass Disappearance,” followed by “Going to Gimli,” and then two story fragments, “Launch” and “A Matter of Some Gravity.”

 Posted by at 9:01 pm
Dec 242016

Someone actually thinks this is a good idea…

France Is Paving More Than 600 Miles of Road With Solar Panels

The roadway shown looks like exactly the sort of thing I wouldn’t want to actually drive on… much less drive a snowplow over.

I remain stumped as to why these make more sense than simply putting the same solar panels, without all the “roadway modifications,” on rooftops.

 Posted by at 8:19 am
Dec 242016

There are a bunch of YouTube channels that I look at from time to time. I figured I might as well point them out… these channels will probably be of interest to a great many of the blog readers. Some are history, some aerospace, some humor, some politics.

First up: Forgotten Weapons. This channel is pretty much what it says on the box… videos are uploaded ever day or so that show some unusual and/or rare firearm. Often these videos are shot in an auction house where the firearm is soon to be sold, so, at least theoretically, if your pockets are deep enough you can end up owning them.

Some recent videos include this one of the M134 minigun (which, contrary to popular opinion, you *could* legally own, you just can’t afford it… much less afford to feed the thing):


And this one of an entirely odd “chain gun” (the Guycot chain pistol) I bet you’ve never heard of… I sure hadn’t. It’s very, very clever: a double-action “semi automatic” pistol from the 1870s with a built-in 40-round capacity. The downside was that it fired a round that would have had a hard time taking down a rabbit. Sometimes cleverness isn’t enough. Sometimes you need brute force.

 Posted by at 12:28 am
Dec 232016

So the UN finally got to pass an anti-Israel resolution. This sort of thing usually doesn’t happen,because the US is usually there to veto this sort of thing… but there’s only a month left to the Obama administration, and I guess he figured he has to stick as many knives in as many backs as he can in the time he has.

The summary of the resolution is that Israel is bad and wrong for building on “occupied territory.” Where this sort of thing *really* fails is that people who want to see Israel destroyed consider Israels own capital city, Jerusalem, as “occupied territory.” The US abstained from the vote because according to the current administration Israel building on territory that is not a part of any recognized nation is against the “two state solution.”

Here’s my solution: A “three state solution.” Israel should just go ahead and build settlements. But those settlements would *not* be a part of Israel if they are built on territory that wasn’t part of Israel *after* the 1967 war (which means that Israel keeps Jerusalem, duh). They would, instead, be a *new* nation. “New Israel,” or “Israel-Two,” whatever. This would have two benefits:

  1. New Israel would serve as a buffer zone and bullet sponge for Israel. It would be populated by Israelis who are ok with the notion that they will be constant targets. Over time this would produce an especially hardy breed of badass.
  2. As New Israel grows, the land available for the hypothetical nation of “Palestine” shrinks. This would be an incentive for the Palestinians to stop screwing around and get serious about the business of become a nation – which would include finally coming to accept the existence of Israel – before they lose ever land square inch of land to New Israel.

One potential business opportunity for the New Israelis would be mining operations. The settlements might dig *big* moats around themselves, perhaps 20 feet deep by 20 feet wide (potentially filled with genetically engineered crocoboars or some such). The dirt and rock could then be shipped through Israel to the Mediterranean, where it would be used to help build Israel out *westwards* and increase the land area.

 Posted by at 11:46 pm