Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Halloween Story

Every year, Codex Writers Group has a Halloween contest where all the participants give a story seed to another participant, then everyone goes off and writes a story based on the seed. I finished mine today with 2--count 'em--two days to spare.

The contest voting will start in a couple of days. Until the results are in, the title and story seed are top secret. Details when allowed.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I Think Something is Wrong With Me

The boy came into the home office earlier today asking for help finding a scientist to write a report on for science class.

Dad: What scientists do you know?
Lad: Albert Einstein.
Dad: Everybody's going to do Einstein. Why not pick somebody else?
Lad: Like Newton?
Dad: You could do Newton, but he's pretty common also.
Lad: I don't know any others.

I reached back into my physics days. Everything is named after somebody. First one to pop into my head was Faraday.

Dad: What about Michael Faraday?
Lad: Who's that?
Dad: Well, he studied magnetic fields.
Lad: Okay, I'll do Faraday.
Dad: Why don't we look at a few more then if you still want to do Faraday, you can.
Lad: Okay.

So I pulled up a few more names.

Dad: Enrico Fermi was a particle physicist.
Lad: Maybe. Who is the guy who invented the atomic bomb?
Dad: Robert Oppenheimer?
Lad: Yeah, he has a cool name.
Dad: He didn't invent the atomic bomb, he lead the project. The Manhattan Project.
Lad: What's that?
Dad: The project to build the atomic bomb.
Lad: Okay, I'll do him.
Dad: Or you could pick Richard Feynman. He also worked on the Manhattan Project and he's an interesting guy, too.
Lad: Okay, I'll pick one of those two guys. Mom said if I want to go swimming I have to go now.

I decided to pull a few more names while he was in the pool. Last weekend I bought a used copy of Asimov's Understanding Physics (three volumes in one book version) because I could use a refresher course. I know enough to understand what is obsolete, so why not? anyway, I started looking through the index and found all these names that brought back memories.

Max Planck, Neils Bohr, James Clerk Maxwell, Louis Pasteur, Linus Pauling, Henry Cavendish, Paul Dirac, Werner Heisenberg.

He came back inside and I told him a little about them. I performed the Cavendish experiment as a senior (an exercise in patience). I told him I met Werner Heisenberg's son Jochen Heisenberg, a very amicable man with some incredible stories about hiding out in the German Alps during World War Two.

The boy finally settled on Louis Pasteur, but the digging back through all those names started me remembering all kinds of memories and missing the old physics days. I actually miss h-bar.
I miss solving boundary value problems with Bessel Functions. I miss Taylor series expansions. I miss the dirac delta function. I miss Maxwell's equations.
What is wrong with me?

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Theme and Variations Anthology

Michelle M. Welch, who is editing a music-themed spec fic audio anthology released the list of contributing authors early last week. I will be joined in this endeavor by:

Keyan Bowes
Ernest Hogan
Elaine Isaak
Lejon A. Johnson
Jack Mangan
Lon Prater
Caroline Rhodes
Michelle M. Welch

Of this list, I have only previously shared a table of contents with Jack Mangan. That would have been in the oddly numbered issue 0x09 of Neometropolis back in June of 2006. That's way at the bottom of my bibliography, for anyone keeping score at home.

It is an exciting table of contents because I am familiar with the work of every single contributor and am thrilled to be sharing a piece of the project with each of them.

Friday, September 18, 2009

M-Brane #12 Update

My guest-editing experience for M-Brane SF has moved into a new phase. I have all but one story decided upon and the lineup for the issue is taking shape. It has been an interesting experience to be sure. I still need to provide Christopher Fletcher with introductions to each story, as well as an editorial. (I'm not sure if Christopher will also do an editorial.)

There are some very fine stories in the lineup. I had a lot of trouble deciding which story should lead. the story I originally wanted to open the issue with ran into some problems. The author apparently misread or didn't read my email and thought it was rejected. The author subsequently sold the story elsewhere, so I lost that one, and it is a shame because it was excellent. I had about 5 other stories that I would feel comfortable leading with. One of those was a novelette, which I think is too long for an opening, so I will be putting that one in the other power position, the closing story.

Ultimately, that still left me with four stories I could use to open, and none of them really had quite the impact as the story I lost. I finally did make a choice. I don't know if Christopher wants me spilling the beans on this yet, but it looks like we'll have commissioned cover art. Because I know the artist's style, I selected the story that best fit the style of the artist. That's all I will say right now because I have no idea whether the business end of the story in question is ironed out (read: contract signed).

Still, this is shaping up to be one issue packed with some really interesting stories.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September 11

It's hard to believe that 8 years have already passed since that day I came down from the bedroom to see on the television smoke billowing out of a hole in the side of one tower of the World Trade Center. We all know what happened next.

A month after the attacks, it was announced that Al Qaida was responsible and they were being sheltered in Afghanistan by the Taliban. That discovery put NATO to the test. I doubt anybody in Europe expected the treaty to go into effect because the U.S. was attacked. After all, NATO was formed to protect Europeans from other Europeans using the U.S. as the muscle.

Our NATO allies went into Afghanistan reluctantly, and some are still there with us. What is upsetting to me is that all through Bush's administration, all the noise from the anti-war crowd was centered on Iraq. Nobody had any beef with the American military operating in Afghanistan. After all, Al Qaida attacked us, and their Taliban allies provided a home base.

Fast forward to the present. The Iraq war is winding down. The Iraqi government is more and more able to handle their own affairs. All the while, Afghanistan was placed on the back burner. The commanders in that theatre struggled to do the job with less than adequate manpower. The Europeans only had (and still have) a token presence--just enough to say they are abiding by the NATO treaty, but it isn't enough.

With Iraq winding down, we should have the manpower to finish the job in Afghanistan. After all, in the War on Terror, Afghanistan is a must-win. Osama bin Laden is still there. Pakistan is unstable and has nukes that could be turned on our troops, our navy, or our nearby allies.

In 2009, after 8 years of silence, the anti-war crowd suddenly wants us out of Afghanistan? It's an inconceivable idea to me. We have been undersupplying our forces in the more important conflict for 8 years, just enough to hold the campaign to a stalemate. Now that the resources are being freed up, these people want to withdraw completely.

Let me remind you of the situation in Afghanistan before the U.S. arrived. Taliban destroyed ancient giant Bhudist statues, archeological artifacts, because they were not Islamic. The Taliban gave Al Qaida a country in which to operate openly and freely. Women were treated worse than dogs. People were maimed and killed for not practicing an extreme and distorted version of Islam.

If the U.S. pulls out now, things will not go back to the way they were in 2001. It will be far worse. The Taliban will take back the country, and probably take a good chunk of Pakistan with it. Al Qaida will have their base of operations back. Both the Taliban and Al Qaida have more motivation than ever to attack The United States on American soil.

Remember September 11, 2001. Remember watching all those innocent Americans and foreign expat civilians DIE that morning.

Pulling the military out of Afghanistan right now is absolutely stupid. After all, why not sacrifice of a few million civilians in a nuclear blast when it would save a few thousand soldiers from dying in an attempt to prevent it.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Audrey on Saturday

Okay, so shoot me because it's been a week since I posted. this post is about my eldest daughter, Audrey. Seems she wanted to go the high school football game last night and intended to use oil-based acrylic paint on her face. Fortunately, Reanna (who owns the paint) caught her.

This morning, Audrey had her first cross country meet for the high school. Three miles in 26 minutes, which isn't varsity time but not bad for a freshman. she finished in the main population of the open heat. Fortunately, the rain from the remnants of hurricane Jimena missed her race and fell on the other races that started later.

I, of course, had to get up at 4:30 to get her out of bed and in the car. That would have been fine but I also had to get up at 3:00 to deal with a sick dog. I don't know how long I will stay awake.