Gray Space

Okay, I confess.  I have a weird side.  It is not so much a side, honestly, as a whole hemisphere.  There are entire continents of weirdness – vast high plains of Oddness, rivers of strangeness, unexplored jungles of bizarreness.

What I mean is, take whatever it is people do of a Saturday night to kind of have fun, and I (and my family) are likely to do something odder.  About the most normal thing we do is get together with friends, but often the talk/meal/whatever with friends is … different.  People who tolerate us, much less like us, tend to be slightly askew, too.

Which brings us to – what brought this on, Sarah?  How strange do you think you are?

Well…

I realized how strange I am when I realized I have a great and odd love of the odd.  As in, if I start browsing on the net, instead of spending my time reading up on some Hollywood cutie’s life (I’m not even likely to know who most of them are) I end up browsing you tube for “squirrel brought up by cat.”  Or “videos of bathing baby elephant.”

It gets worse.  Brace yourself my friends, because the strangeness gets … stranger.

I have an absolutely irresistible interest in the … uh… tinfoil brigade.  I don’t mean in the political sense.  Most of those end up being somewhat pathetic, the excuses of people for why they didn’t, why it couldn’t happen, why—

Even if recent scandals have led me to believe there’s more of conspiracy to history than I’d have credited before, political conspiracy theories are still boring.  They can sound “real” or just “OMG, where did you get that?” but they aren’t FUN.  (Politics are no fun at all.  They’re responsible for the wrinkles on my forehead.  I read the news, and next thing I know I have wrinkles.)

No, the fun stuff comes from overarching theories of how the world really works, you know, behind the veils.

I still remember the time I was trying to find out about continental formations before pangea – I was, I think, researching for time-travel – and found myself reading about the spaceship full of grays orbiting the world.

I should have got out of there in a hurry, but I didn’t.  The only way to find that kind of crazy when I was growing up was to listen to the village drunk who, usually after he was prone by the field on the way to the new village, would give long speeches and disquisitions on what held the universe together.  (In the notable one I remember?  Red Wine.  … yes…)

But now we can stumble on these all dressed up in Sunday go to meeting words, and looking properly respectable, and we don’t have to cringe or think the people will attack us.  Which makes crazy all the more interesting and amusing.

I also haunt cryptozoology sites.

But why Sarah, you say?  Is it a wish to mock and make fun of the poor lunatics?

Well… no.

I’ve always been fascinated by the edge of belief and non belief, the place where crazy turns to genius and vice versa.  It’s possible that, unlike what Pratchett said, there never really was a time where it was universally believed a good stink was the only defense against disease.  And we do know that Columbus didn’t prove that the world was round (rolls eyes) but there have been several counterfactual and unproven ideas throughout history.

More than that, there’s been an inability to know what we don’t know.  If we tried to describe our present living conditions to someone in Shakespeare’s day, it would make us feel as though we are post singularity.  Can you explain the screen as anything other than “magic.”

And there is to things like Egyptian funerary practices, or some strange wordage in archaic language, to the drawings in Mexican temples, to … there are the things that make you think “we were there before.  This civilization thing isn’t new.  It’s probably cyclical.  We build civilizations as beavers build dams, and then we lose them through a well established cycle.”

In those circumstances, it’s impossible to read about things like the three Neanderthals, likely the last in Europe, found in a cave, facing the ocean, as though waiting for rescue.  You can’t help thinking “They hadn’t reproduced, but surely there must be some of their kind elsewhere, right?  And they’d come…”

Now, is this likely.  No.  I mean, I do believe there is strangeness and wonder in our origins, but despite all the linguistic markers pointing to it, it’s unlikely we had a highly advanced technological civilization before.

But dreaming of it and interpreting markers is so much fun.  It’s, in a way, part of the writing process, because then you emerge and you think “but in this world, this could totally be true” or “They would think this wasn’t true, even though it was” or…

And it has led to some fun books in the past.  There was Clifford Simak’s Space Engineers.  And I wanna say Keith Laumer’s in which the main character was R’thur (I think) clearly supposed to have inspired Arthur, and the Earth a penal colony for the insane.  It was a bit human-put-downish, but still fun.

Then there was in Ric Locke’s Temporary Duty the clear implication we’d come from the stars.  I like that.  Yes, most of us know it’s not true (or not likely to be) but it’s so much fun to dream.

Of course, through all this, you have to make sure you know what reality is.  But if you do, there’s no harm in enjoying other’s strange theories.  So long as I don’t start looking up at a full moon for the spaceship orbiting the Earth – or looking suspiciously at Denver ponds, less the lizard man should come out.

On the other hand, while re-reading Methuselah’s Children, I was struck by the discarded plan of sending the Howards up into one of the solar system planets and then closing them off, never traveling to them again.  So as to keep the humans from knowing the much longer lived Howards were still alive and thriving up there.

Supposing, just supposing that colonization really went as we expected, but it was secret.  And some group was given residence in moon tunnel colonies – or in a Mars that’s much better than we thought (hence the robot probes only, they can be directed to barren wastelands) or…

What kind of group would be so dangerous, so full of forbidden knowledge that our own government would so far as to give up on Space and to make NASA an agency to appease Muslims?  Could any group be that dangerous?  What would they be?

And if not, why did we give up on Space?

Um…  It was probably the Grays.

 

319 responses to “Gray Space

  1. masgramondou

    Masons. It’s all the fault of the Masons. The ones with the funny handshake as opposed to Rex. The top ranks of the masonic hierarchy have been taken over by

  2. During late night drives, I used to catch a lot of Art Bell on the radio. One night of Bell could give you fodder for a lot of stories.

    • The one Art Bell story that really made me laugh was the one in the early 1990s about people being poisoned by their teeth and the filings used in their teeth. What make me laugh is that a couple of years ago, my dentist was taking out the silver amalgamates in my teeth because they were poisoning me. 😉 Also I know people who knew and met Art Bell…

      • One time I heard what was close to a Grand Unified Conspiracy Theory: the New World Order was using the time travel technology from the Philadelphia Experiment in order to go back in time and wage war against the invading army of Greys.

    • Arwen Riddle

      Ahh Coast to Coast radio. One of my favorites for late night road trips.

      • The first time I ever tuned in his guest was talking about the time machine he’d made by hooking up telephone pole transfomers backwards.

  3. “but despite all the linguistic markers pointing to it, it’s unlikely we had a highly advanced technological civilization before.”

    This idea intrigues me and I wish to subscribe to the newsletter. No seriously, what linguistic markers support an Atlantean hypothesis?

    I’ve always liked Kenneth Hite’s work. One of his Suppressed Transmissions calculated that if anatomically modern humans are 200,000 years old (paleontology) and that earliest cities date to 8,000 BC (archeology) and that the singularity is any day now (math), then there are ten waves of post-humans out there already waiting for us to join them in the stars.

    • Well, first of all every language we know goes from the more complex to the less complex. This would have great grand-papa Ugh discussing the mammoth in the subjunctive, in the appropriate casus and a declension for everything including adjectives. This is observable fact, so it can’t be denied. It’s still going on. The thing is now it’s going on because of falling literacy which makes you go “uh”. Another “marker” is the built in “descendant” and “Ancestor” thing. Ance– in English just means comes from, I think, but descendant is from descend. In Portuguese the forms have a built in, from top down. As in, we came from bigger things. Now, this can be explained by the respect given elders in primitive societies (!) at least where this is true, but still– um… I can come up with more, but it will take a lot more coffee.

      • Small children, thrown together, create fantastically complex creoles from their parents’ unrelated languages.

      • Beware of generalizations on how languages evolve based on Indo-European, the best understood (and most recent) example. Arguing that all languages simplify over time is not necessarily a consensus position.

        • Not indo-European, Karen. it was a consensus position when I went through school. In fact, it’s how linguists dated fragments of language they couldn’t date any other way. (That is my degree.) Now, that might have changed. My son took linguistics last year and I got tired of the eye roll and the “THAT is outdated” so I know stuff has changed, but…

          • This is my field of study, too, Sarah. It’s true about default classifications, but it’s a very weak theory. Aside from the reductio ad absurdam problem (run it back far enough in time and it would be too complicated to construct any grammar at all), changes in word order influenced by other language families can easily account for simplifications in grammatical markers at the word level (one of the reasons the Icelandic Old Norse kennings are almost unintelligible, beyond the obscure references, is partly because the prose language by then was using word order for most grammatical indicators and the words had simplified their endings, but the poetic language still wanted to invert word order aesthetically and the word forms available could no longer do the fill-in duty for grammar.) Snorri seems to have happened along in a time of rapid language shift, and the poetic forms hadn’t caught up yet. Reading Old Norse sagas in the original (circa 1100-1200) is remarkably like reading modern novels.

            Creoles probably accurately describe a “default” position for human language, but since many (or most) historic languages demonstrably move from grammatical markers more complex than creoles require to word-order versions, we clearly don’t understand where the greater complexity originates. I don’t believe we can simply say “all languages were more complex once”, because it’s not really a defensible position if you go back far enough, and Indo-European may have an overwhelming influence on the discussion. We know it so well, but we still can’t reconstruct undisputed sentences, and for the other language families there’s little hope. We can’t even classify New World language families with any significant degree of consensus, much less refer to changes over time.

            For outside observers, here are two interesting links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_language
            http://johnhawks.net/weblog/reviews/archaeology/recent/indo-european-anatolia-bouckaert-2012.html
            The best current book for the layman that I know about that discusses IE culture vs language vs demographics vs archaeological origins (an excellent book) is: http://www.amazon.com/Horse-Wheel-Language-ebook/dp/B003TSEL1Y

            • run it back far enough in time and it would be too complicated to construct any grammar at all

              Aha! Thus by extrapolation, language originally existed in an infinitely complex form, but nobody could speak it until it progressively self-simplified sufficiently to work in the available hardware (wetware?). Once it self-simplified such that it would work, the download was finally successful and the hominids started chatting away. Scared the heck out of the local wildlife when that happened, most likely.

              Makes perfect sense: In the beginning was the Word, after all…

            • I’m currently reading “Horse-Wheel-Language.” Please no spoilers! 😉

      • William Newman

        From foggy memory (and from mental block about how to ask a keyword-based search engine about this) some of the old linguistic complexity doesn’t seem particularly functional, more like what a modern computer programmer would call “nonorthogonality” (and generally try to minimize in favor of orthogonality, which has significant practical advantages). E.g., in modern English we say “the” (“the fence” or “the shoe”) and don’t worry about whether it’s considered masculine or feminine or neuter. In modern German, they distinguish between “der” for masculine things and “die” for feminine things and “das” for neuter things. But as I understand it, in less smoothed-down languages they might distinguish between “yest” for ceremonial objects and “yindis” for dangerous livestock and “yind” for mostly-harmless livestock and “dyalt” for things that can hold liquids and “dyam” for things that are ritually unclean, and so on for a dozen more categories. It’s not obvious that that sort of complexity is very helpful for an highly advanced technological civilization.

        Also, how clear is it that all complexity only changes in one direction? (Or perhaps I should be asking how linguists define complexity?) I’ve heard that Japanese and Korean have so many variants of how person A should say something about person B to person C (depending strongly on social status of A, B, and C) that it creates a serious headache for serious students of the language. It’s a little hard to imagine a system with many social status distinctions being used by the small bands that I associate with the Ice Ages, though we have every reason to expect that they were talking to each other. Thus I would guess that it was invented somewhat later by larger groups with more specialized social roles, superseding some simpler system.

        • clear enough to bullsh*t in a story 😉

        • First thought: my grandparents had a lot of specialized ways of saying stuff based on relative social positions… second thought: but we don’t care about a lot of that stuff… third thought: same way we don’t care about the difference between carne and meat unless one is an especially geeky Catholic wondering why fish isn’t “meat.”

          • I suspect simplicity/complexity can be cyclic. For example, fans love to make ever-more-complex slang vocabularies, which then vanish again when people get tired of it. Soundshifts chase each other around our mouths. And grammar tenses and cases are a really great thing in a world that likes to package distinctions into a word, instead of just describing them with several more words.

            Shrug. Humans.

            • Linguistic complexity waxes and wanes in different sectors of the culture. For example, the simple noun mail has expanded and encompassed multiple concepts — email, voice mail, snail mail, etc. (which may or may not now include Twitter.) Assuming a standard vocabulary of 10K words, as we increase complexity in some areas we would reduce vocabulary in others.

            • Dorothy Grant

              It can also be environmental. Down in the south, all frozen water falling from the sky is either “hail” or “snow”. In Alaska, there’s hail, yes, but there’s also ice pellets, grains of ice (blown off settled snow drifts), sleet, slush, heavy wet snow, powder snow….

              And cultural. The United States is a pretty class-free republic, where you’re more likely to be judged on the contents of your wallet and your character than your father’s and grandfather’s occupation, and the region from which your clan hails. So we simplify, and as you say, because the language to address the now-ignored differences is no longer needed.

              • ” In Alaska, there’s hail, yes, but there’s also ice pellets, grains of ice (blown off settled snow drifts), sleet, slush, heavy wet snow, powder snow…. ”

                popcorn snow, salt-shaker snow, tracking snow, snow pellets, sugar (snow the texture of sugar, granular and doesn’t pack at all), freezing rain, ….

                It ain’t just Alaska where they have multiple names for snow, if something is an important part of your life, you develop lots of ways to describe it, if it is just a novelty you can afford to spend two paragraphs worth of words to describe it, but that gets cumbersome if you talk about it regularly.

              • Huh? which down in the south are you talking about?

                • Dorothy Grant

                  Pardon, I should have been more precise – I moved from Alaska to Tennessee, and the culture shock hasn’t worn off yet. (Nor have the chigger bites.)

                  I’m discovering new things every day, like drivers in a heavy rainstorm putting on their hazard lights and pulling only half on the left shoulder, staying halfway in the left lane… and other drivers putting on their hazard lights and then going 65mph in sub-two-car-length visibility, while staying less than four feet off the the bumper of the car in front of them. What the hazard lights are going to accomplish when people are going faster than they can see and not giving themselves room to stop… or stopping in a lane or halfway out of a lane while knowing there are maniacs driving faster than they can see and react… *facepalm*

                  I didn’t know that hazard lights were Nashville area’s version of South African muti, all powerfully charged up by the witch doctor / manufacturer to make you invincible in bad weather, but apparently that’s the local superstition.

                  • As you are new to the region, please be aware that mention of “chigger” on Facebook can result in your being blocked and even banned. I believe the preferred term is Arachno-Americans; please check with your local community organizer for latest terminology.

                    • Dorothy Grant

                      That would require me being on facebook in the first place.

                      I remember the first great social network – napster – then its replacement with less playlists and more talking, livejournal, followed by myspace, friendster, linkedin, then facebook. I remain unimpressed, and figure that sooner or later, barring dispersion entirely to long-form (blogger/wordpress) or short form (twitter), facebook will annoy enough of its userbase that the mass migration to a new rival will hit critical mass, and we’ll have the next social network. I doubt, though, that it’ll be google-plus.

                      Has Mad Mike started finding ways to get them to auto-block & ban “trigger” and “digger” too?

                      That’ll be a sad day, banning a great and peculiar comic about a wombat and a dead god. http://diggercomic.com/

              • We generally see freezing rain, sleet, etc. more often that a real snow, so we have words for variations in wet icy precipitation. Then again most of those words are not so much names, as reactions, and in another time would result in automatic censoring…

                • marycatelli

                  We get snow, and sleet, and freezing rain, of which, needless to say, freezing rain is the most dreaded, especially in icestorms.

                  Makes for the most gorgeous scenes on earth, but still, we dread it.

        • I gather that Konie was developed under General Alexander to enable to better communications between the various groups under his command.

    • Susan Shepherd

      Not an Atlantean hypothesis, exactly, but… There are enough similarities between languages in Europe and India (and so forth) that there are not only suggested words for various concepts in Proto-Indo-European, but linguists have been able to sketch out some parts of the speakers’ religion. Wikipedia has a summary of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proto-Indo-European_religion

      Of course, this just means that a small tribe was successful, spread out, settled into new lands, and then new languages developed from there. But if you’re looking for plotbunnies, it’s easy to say, “What if this weren’t merely a tribe, but an empire? What if some calamity had happened (plague, war) and the empire collapsed?” Perhaps building materials were re-used in newer construction, or written materials rotted away or were deliberately destroyed by invaders.

      Yes, it’s unsupported (and one might say this is “speculative nonsense” and be entirely correct) but it’s also FUN, and you can turn such things into fantasy books. You have a magical / high-tech empire, say, and then 15,000 years ago the magic / tech breaks down or is sabotaged… Or the magic comes from a meddler, and eventually the meddler’s minder comes and drags the meddler back to their original dimension and seals the gate-between-worlds behind them… Or only cross-breeds (Neanderthal / human bloodlines, or if that’s too squicky, cross-breeds of two distant tribes) can use magic, and the Neanderthals are dying out or the Ice Age has made travel more dangerous, and after you get to less than one-sixteenth “mixed bloodline” the magic fails… (Heck, this would even explain why it was so important for Egyptian pharoahs and other rulers to have a certain god’s bloodline; call it a holdover from the times when you needed authority figures of a particular lineage to cast the spells involved in field fertilization or disease prevention!)

      • The wonders of imaginary world stories is that you can steal such things and never be refuted.

        Not that that will stop some. I once was told I had gotten the laws of my imaginary country wrong.

      • You haven’t been reading S M Stirling’s Shadowspawn books, have you?

        • Susan Shepherd

          I take it I should? I’ve read his Emberverse novels, and the Island in the Sea of Time novels, but I haven’t read anything else he’s written.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Heh. The Magic Goes Away

    • It’s an attractive theory, but the main objection to it, to my way of thinking, comes down to “if there were 10 waves before us, where is all their garbage?”. 🙂

      • Either they took it with them (pan-galactic environmentalists, huzzah!) or they were so advance, that it was all designed to biodegrade into simple organic compounds. What’s that? Build things out of stone? Great Gorthraxin, no! They were far more enlightened than that! Alternatively, of course, it’s all at the bottom of the ocean.

        • And THAT is supported by the “roads.”

        • “simple organic compounds”: plastics, hydrocarbons, duuh? Some people can’t connect dots even when they’re right in front of their faces. We’re burning their garbage to power our cars.

          As if that “anaerobic decomposition of buried dead organisms” theory ever made sense. We’re decanting their landfills.

      • Sniffle. Looks haughty. Why. They were advanced and Green and — okay, fine… SNIFFLE. I said I didn’t think it existed…

        • I believe our esteemed hostess should watch it. One just might end up writing something that the powers that be will think is correct, i.e., a long lost civilization that was more advanced than we, so of course it would, in there eyes be green. If you are not careful it will turn to gray goo right before your eyes. 😉

          The real reason we have found no evidence is because they were so far advanced above us that we wouldn’t recognize it if we stubbed our toes on it.

      • There are a few possibilities. They never hit the iron age, so never did any serious mining. Or they were limited to coastal regions that are now under water (remember the Ice Age? Lots more exposed shoreline back then).

        Or the Berserkers that wiped them all out have finally broken down (or are still on their way here).

  4. A lot of that stuff stopped being funny on 9/11. The amusing little dancing monkey turned into a rabid chimp.

  5. Ever notice how Dragons exist in all regions and cultures on earth? Gods / Demi Gods also exist as do Demons and from about the same time period. Many theories can be found to explain such things but it is probably simpler to say it is all true.

    • Dragons, or more correctly the species that calls itself “True-Dragons,” developed FTL tech very early on, comparatively speaking. Back in the early days they tended to be itchy-footed and prone to wandering, and colonized a number of worlds, with varying degrees of success. There are a few draconic Houses still on Earth, although they are generally very discrete. And then there’s Dr. Fujimori Leiji . . . *long-suffering sigh* No, he didn’t pose for the cover of the first edition of the Draconomicon, despite what he may claim. At the time he was too busy working with . . . eh, never mind.

      • Leif Newstrand

        I knew that Dragons were not native to Earth! They are large hexapodal reptiloids, whereas Terran vertebrates are quadrupedal (though some are able to use a tail as an extra appendage–note: snakes, while they display no external limbs, do have vestigial ones). Wyverns are their pets, sort of like foul-tempered parakeets or rabid Dobermans.

        Imagine, one day Ankothus, a young Dragon, is wandering around Europa (the moon, then the continent, then the girl–talk about a busy guy-er- Dragon) with his pet wyvern Phlogiston when suddenly an obnoxious hominid egotist named Zeus barges in chasing the girl, and causes our hero to lose his pet. Needless to say, the wyvern, not being Earth-broken, goes all kinds of crazy, sniffing, licking, snacking on, and generally scaring the living daylights out of ancient Terrans. Bad Doggie-er-Wyvvie!

        So, Ankothus, being a responsible member of Dragon-kind, chases after his pet, causing even more of a ruckus. Heroes, or at least big-mouthed blowhards afraid of being shamed in front of their lights-o’-love, grab up spears to kill the crazy so-and-sos who interrupted them in mid-woo. Phlogiston is all kinds of excited because of how many creatures he runs into that either want to play with him (hey, if they’re running away, they must want to be chased, right?) or are downright tasty (now we know why there was no written language early on–the people who were working on it made yummy snacks).

        Ankothus is getting fed up with chasing his rambunctious charge, so he lies down for a rest. Guess who shows up? That’s right, the heroes (or at least, wannabe heroes–the real deal’s a little hard on the old bod, but if you’re close by when someone actually is being heroic, hey, afterglow! and who’s to know that you’re really a rank coward with a big mouth when the hero gets himself killed–maybe with a little help from our cowardly friend–sorry ’bout that knife in the back, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal).The heroes break out their spears and proceed to play poke the tig-er-Dragon with the stick. Remember the saying about the length of stick you need to poke a tiger or in this case, a Dragon? Yeah, they didn’t. Needless but fun to say, Ankothus is the first Dragon to discover Terran convenience food. Hey, look, Ma, the crunchies come with their own kebab skewers!

        The wannabe heroes have seen enough of this and make for the horizon at top speed. They make sure to tell All and Sundry (two very well-known blabbermouths at the time) how they bravely faced the monster but he escaped before they could finish him. Now it’s time to make time with the village cuties (hey, during a hero shortage, a man’s gotta make the most of an opportunity.)

        Back to Ankothus. Dragons live forever but no so little… Never mind (we don’t want to get in trouble with copyright infringement, do we?). As I was ly-er-saying, Dragons are immortal. So, unfortunately, are their pets. That means Ankothus is still around looking for his hyperactive pet wyvern (are you sure Phlogiston’s not part rat terrier?). This has caused all sorts of legends, myths, etc to sprout throughout the ages, some of which are almost assuredly kind of close to being almost maybe true, sort of.

    • This is because any vague reptilian monster gets dubbed the national-adjective dragon, not because there’s a vast similarity.

  6. Dragons (and griffins) are easy — fossils. And it would appear that a lot of Greek legends about giants and heroes also came from fossils of giant critters (dinosaurs and not humans, alas).

    There’s a bit in St. Albert the Great’s book on Animals that still cracks me up. He talks about what all the various ancient sources said about dragons, and then he cites these fossil (dinosaur) bones he’d seen in a cliff in Germany, and how the villagers say they ate the dragon and it took them two weeks to do it. And then he expresses doubt as to the veracity of the dinner story. 🙂

    You can observe correctly and still not be correct about details, but that doesn’t make you stupid. If you don’t have the prerequisite knowledge, you’re out of luck.

    • Herodotus did not believe the story about the Phoenicians who circumnavigated Africa. We do, precisely because of the detail he cited: can you believe they claimed the sun moved to the north as they were sailing along?

    • Rob Crawford

      “The First Fossil Hunters” by Adrienne Mayor; even has a photo of a Greek vase featuring a fossil skull on its cover. She’s written some fun books: “The Poison King: The Life and Legend of Mithradates” (the Mithradatic Wars are like the “Who’s Who” of late Republican Roman history); “Greek Fire, Poison Arrows, and Scorpion Bombs” (about biological and chemical weapons of the ancient world).

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Imagine the Dragon stories that would originate from a Quetzalcoatlus skeleton. Or maybe they did…

      • Recognizing the skeletal remains of a dragon or a giant presents problems of scale and interpretation, something we humans often do very badly. Their biochemistry may be silicon-based, for example (given their size, they probably are), which would explain (in part) the legends of trolls turning to stone. Time, erosion, decomposition, parasite growth — all might disguise the granite remains of our corpse.

        That is why it would be foolish to too quickly dismiss legends of the South American giant, Andy, or the North American giant Mogollon.

      • I remember reading that there were some re-burials of found mastadon skeletons/fossils in tombs by the early Greeks who thought they were the skeletons of heroes (I mean really early). The writer (Willy Ley?) pointed out that if you lay out a mastadon skeleton flat, it is proportioned pretty much like a really big man.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          From what I understand, Mastodon, Mammoth, or Elephant skeletons gave rise to the Cyclops legend, because their sinus openings look like a giant eyesocket.

    • Also, Cyclops. Take a look at an elephant skull. It has a single giant hole in the very middle (the eye holes are on the sides.) If you don’t know what you are looking at, it would be easy to go “Giant creature with single eye.”

  7. Yep– I slip through to the UFO stories every once in awhile. and other things… Magic and the illusion of magic always gets my attention.

    • I was playing with my cat with the laser pointer the other day and I suddenly had a thought: What if UFOs are alien laser pointers for the Air Force? And if the reason they buzz interstates and Mexico City is that they can’t get enough fighters to come and chase them?
      This puts a whole new face on some hypothetical Confederacy of Sentient Species, I’ll tell you.

      • It’s likely the equivalent of joy-riding teenagers. Grab Dad’s sporty convertible and buzz the primitive earthlings for kicks and giggles. Probably hopped up on Centauri flngrx-wine the whole time.

        • From ‹http://www.jerrypournelle.com/reports/jerryp/UFO.html›:

          I was on one television show – I think David Susskind – with Isaac Asimov, and when the subject of UFO’s inevitably came up, Isaac said “They can’t exist. If they were real, they’d come to the government and say ‘here we are,’ unless of course they have some reason to be secret, but if they do want to be secret, any technology that would let them be here at all would be enough to let them BE secret. There’s no possible explanation of those sightings! If they want to be secret, they’ll be secret.”

          That irritated me, and I shot back “Isaac, you don’t work much with students, do you? Suppose the Alpha Centauri University department of Xenothropology wants to study us and forbids the students to contaminate us with knowledge of their existence, do you really think seniors and grad students might not get drunk and play some tricks?”

          (In case WordPress eats my formatting: the previous two paragraphs are verbatim from Jerry Pournelle’s site. —JCS)

          • I could find much worse company.

          • I shared this with the Oyster Wife, who replied, “Who wants to be the one to tell an alien abductee that it was all just a senior prank gone wrong?”

          • Here’s another nasty little thought: Let’s say, for a thought experiment, that there is something to this idea that our universe is actually a simulation being run on some kind of uber-grade holographic computer. Supposedly, there is some evidence out there that points to this being a genuine possibility.

            If it were true, that we were a simulation, what does the nature of our universe tell us? Who is likely running the simulation?

            Looking at the world around me, I tend to suspect that our simulation is being run by some low-grade undergraduate who hasn’t been paying attention in class, and has basically abandoned us to our fate.

            I mean, think about it: How many ridiculous coincidences are there in our history? Seriously: Who in their right mind would ever even conceive of something like the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand turning into the world-shattering war that it did? I mean, for the love of Mike, how implausible can you get? The Archduke visiting Sarajevo, the failed assassination attempt, and then the Archduke insists on his driver taking him to the hospital in an unfamiliar city to visit the victims? The driver getting lost, and somehow managing to pass by the one cafe in town where a member of the assassination team is having a bit of snack, and who happens to have enough initiative to make a second attempt, which he succeeds at?

            Try writing that sequence up for a novel. Nobody would accept it, because it’s simply too unlikely a sequence of events, a real-world Rube Goldberg plot. Yet… It happened. How many other major events of history have similarly unlikely antecedents?

            My guess is that we’re taking part in a simulation being run by some knuckleheaded undergraduate who’s headed for a failing grade, and he just doesn’t give a damn, anymore. I suspect by this point that he’s just doing what a lot of folks who play with Sims do, and he’s just screwing with us to see what happens. How the hell else to explain Bill Clinton’s second term, or Obamas? I mean, seriously: I get them getting elected once, but twice? How the blue hell did that happen?

            • The real problem is when he’s hung over after a bout of binge drinking and falls asleep with his head on the [REDACTED] button.

              No, I think Piers Anthony had it right in Steppe: we’re just bit players in a MMORPG … and the game-master is hungover.

      • You need to write the story Bob–

  8. I like barely-plausible conspiracy theories, but the totally whacked-out ones are pretty entertaining too.

    Apparently the latest one (which rehashes ancient English hash, of course) is that Queen Elizabeth I was a pretender, a boy put in her place when the real Elizabeth croaked abruptly as a kid, and then kept up for years. Despite the fact that a girl child croaking would be no big surprise to a Tudor. And that kings and queens had five zillion servants constantly watching them get dressed and go to the bathroom. And that everyone in Europe sent spies to the English court.

    • And when before Elizabeth’s ascension would anyone want an imposter? Until her mother’s execution, her father wanted a son from her mother instead. After, she was just a nuisance.

    • Yes, indeed. I find THAT a true example of chauvinism “If a ruler was great, he must be male.” But what a telling detail to put in a future where say New Islam rules and therefore women are judged incompetent. they’re learning about Queen Elizabeth and how he… (“New” Islam because the current form wouldn’t yield a futuristic society.)

      • The following question has perplexed me. No tasers, lasers or phasers please:

        Why can Elizabeth I called a great ruler considering that she did not provide for the succession and her throne was taken by the king of rival Scotland?

        Note that I’m only quoting the question because actually asking it would be off-topic, if you can imagine such a thing at ATH.

        • Because the king had an excellent claim to it? Because even the best of us have failures, especially in advanced age?

        • Off topic? Hey, that reminds me of a story . . .

        • Well, she kept England independent of Spain, France and the other great powers of the time, she kept the peace at home for the most part, limited persecutions as best she could, encouraged trade, allowed a flowering of arts and music, and arranged for an orderly succession to someone who had been raised in her court. Compared to the messes brewing on continental Europe during that period, things were pretty calm in England, Scotland and Wales.

          But I’m not a Tudor expert. YMMV.

        • True, Elizabeth I did not produce an heir. Any marriage at that time would have been problematic to the integrity of the British throne, and of her rule. She had good reason to be wary of an inappropriate marriage, not just from what she saw with her father and sister, but having experienced questionable advances from Thomas Seymour in his attempt to gain power by an alliance to her. An heir without a marriage would not have been seen as an acceptable solution.

          • She’s great because she killed off large numbers of her own people, for reasons approved by later Protestant/Whig/liberal historians. (If the historians don’t approve, you’re not great.)

            The whole “I employed a serial killer with government money and let him play with all the prisoners in his own murder/torture house” is particularly great. You put that in a movie, they wouldn’t believe you.

          • She didn’t produce an heir because her lover was an elf, and a half-elf heir to the throne would have been totally unacceptable.

        • Stop and think about that, for just a second: Elizabeth was the daughter of Henry the Eighth. What makes you think that she wanted to perpetuate his line?

          If I were in her shoes, and had lived her life, I might damn well decide that the line of horrors ended here, with me. I wouldn’t want to take the chance of passing on his character traits to another generation.

          I’ve always rather thought that that line of thinking may have played a role in her life choices, aside from the whole “Why marry an idiot who’d likely try to take the power with the throne?”.

      • It might if the dhimmis actually did all the work. Think Saudi Arabia.

    • I once read a story where time-viewing turned up that many major historical figures were female, starting with Thomas Aquinas.

      At least it was labeled a story. It was, in reality, a piece of plotless wish-fulfillment.

  9. One I like is : Our ancestors lost the war. We are in exile, and this is Hell. It can be tweaked to say that the Grays (or aliens of your choice) are the prison camp guards.
    IIRC David Brin used a variation of his in one of his stories.

    • I cannot believe that we are living in a prison. The place is too beautiful with too many interesting places and animals. In the same sense I don’t believe that this place is H-E-L-L as promoted by some religions. I think this is paradise (fallen or not… according to beliefs).

      • Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven — which I highly recommend to any Christian, by the way, or anyone (Christian or not) interested in the Biblical view of heaven — analyses what the Bible says about heaven and concludes that heaven will basically be Earth, with the bad stuff (pollution, disease, death, etc.) removed.

        • Oh, and with the presence of God added. That usually goes without saying when I’m discussing the subject in Christian circles, and since it’s almost 10:00 PM here and my brain is shutting down for the night, I temporarily forgot that not everyone (far from it) here is a Christian. I’m used to discussions where I share more background knowledge in common with other people and don’t have to specify it. (There’s a term for that — I think it’s “high-context” communication — but it’s too late for me to be certain if I have the right term.)

        • I grew up with a family who yearned for heaven (celestial kingdom). I am the Odd one because I loved it here. Why would I want more of the same of what I didn’t like? 😉

          • I like this planet, but it could be hell. Just think, every time we turn around we fine limitations on our ability to enjoy it: government interference, little (and not so little) wars and unrest that makes some places unsafe for travel, rising prices that make travel expensive, and bodies that rebel and won’t let us travel – just to name a few. All the while we know there are ever so many places we would like to visit …

            If Robin is right, and I, for one, hope he is, I look forward to the day when I am able to hike mountains, stroll beaches, view the northern lights, see fjords (Slartibartfast’s finest work), explore libraries and so many other marvels. 😉

            • Me, I’m wanting to read all the books Agatha Christie and Heinlein have written since they left. What do you mean they wouldn’t have? If I can’t write, I’m not going.

              • I want to hang out in Heaven’s equivalent of The White Hart, listening to Christie, Heinlein, Dunsany, Pratt & de Camp, Clarke, Twain and the rest playing “can you top this?”

              • Well, of course they keep telling stories. I have it on good authority that the guy in charge is both a carpenter and a storyteller. 🙂

              • I don’t know about Christie, but would RAH write if not getting paid? I am will to entertain the idea that there might be publishers (submitted in support: Jim Baen) in Heaven, but does anybody believe there are editors? (Editors in Hell, OTOH, is a story idea free for the taking as so obvious that to claim copyright on it is akin to trying to patent a process for making amusing noises by forcing intestinal gas through an aperture between two lobes.)

                • I certainly hope there’ll be something for us to do! And what is God if not the great Editor of the serial publication of our lives? You build, we’ll polish, and we’ll present our collaborative work to Himself. cf “When Earth’s Last Picture is Painted” and “Leaf by Niggle” (can’t find my bookmark for that one)

                  • C.f. also Benjamin Franklin’s epitaph:

                    The Body of B. Franklin Printer; Like the Cover of an old Book, Its Contents torn out, And stript of its Lettering and Gilding, Lies here, Food for Worms. But the Work shall not be wholly lost: For it will, as he believ’d, appear once more, In a new & more perfect Edition, Corrected and Amended By the Author.

                    • I believe I am inclined to side with Franklin on this. He is the Author, we merely edit his work, often badly and contrary to the Author’s intent.

                      Our Author, who art in Heaven,
                      Hallowed be thy Words.
                      Thy chapters come,
                      Thy plots be done,
                      In print
                      As it is in galley.

                    • In Jewish tradition, there is a pun on Deuteronomy 32:4 based on the similarity of the words for “rock” (tzur) and “artisan/craftsman” (tzayor; remember that Hebrew is written without vowels): “The Artisan, perfect is His work”. I’ve taken inspiration from there, that my own career is in the tradition of imitatio dei.

                    • Of course that opens the question: What sort of engineer is the Creator of man?

                      Electrical Engineers point to the brain & nervous system, claiming God must be an EE. Chemical Engineers point to the digestive, circulatory, and immune systems. Mechanical Engineers point to the skeleton & muscles.

                      But the Civil Engineers put forward the most compelling argument:

                      (Wait for it.)

                      Only a Civil Engineer would run a toxic waste pipeline through a recreational facility.

                      😉

                    • I come from a family of engineers. I heard this one before I was out of diapers.

                    • The old jokes are the best, aren’t they? This one worked particularly well at the Cooper Union, since those were the four B.E. majors the school offered.

                    • My family runs to engineers and doctors, so imagine how much fun that joke was. (Yes, I’m the black sheep. Or perhaps the polka dotted sheep. They had no idea what to do with me Convenient, since most of the time I still don’t.)

                  • Speaking of spotted sheep:
                    I always thought the black and white Jacob’s sheep were the nicest looking sheep around. I used to have to drive past a farm that raised them, and in the early spring, the little kids would be bouncing around like caffeinated Dalmatian puppies, but with more zest for life.
                    The adults are sheep. But interesting sheep.

              • One of James Branch Cabell’s books had a library with posthumous books like that, I think it was Beyond Life.

            • Only hell in the sense that we can screw it up pretty fast *government interference. lol We bring it with us wherever we go 😉

            • Heaven is a place free of Murphy’s Law

              • Leif Newstrand

                Does that mean that Heaven would be Hell for Murphy?

                • George O. Smith said that for electronics, Hell is where everthing is hooked up right and tested and nothing works.
                  (_Complete Equalateral_ rocks)

                  • Rob Crawford

                    Ah. That explains my job.

                    • If you do electronics you should read George O. Smith’s _Complete Venus Equilateral_. Smith was an electronic engineer in the 40’s, and was worked for Philco, and the tech is all based on vacuum tubes, but it is pretty charming.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        But we don’t know what the place we’re exiled from is like. It is so much more beautiful. [Wink]

        For that matter, there’s the idea that this world was “Hell” for our ancestors who were exiled here but we’ve adapted to this world so well that we don’t see it as “Hell” anymore. [Big Crazy Grin]

        Have another “crazy thought”, compared to our exiled ancestors, we’re supermen. By exiling us to this hellworld, our enemies have created super-powered folks who may be more dangerous than the people they. exiled. [Very Big Crazy Grin]

      • It depends on the purpose of the prison. I agree this place is too amenable to make an effective punishment. But if the goal is to simply keep us out of the way then it is in their interests to make this place as enjoyable as possible. The easiest prison to guard is the one the prisoners don’t want to leave.

        • or maybe it is NOT a prison at all. Maybe we are the prison guards– (i.e. we keep the negative in our own lives).

        • If a prison, perhaps the Buddhists have it right: the only way out is through rehabilitation.

          Or perhaps the Jews and Muslims have the right idea: prove you can adhere to a complex and difficult set of (apparently arbitrary) rules and you’ll be let out.

          Of course, the Christians figured a loophole: a pardon from the Governor.

          • Or maybe it is not a prison at all (we may be imprisoned by our minds). The arbitrary rules were to help us so that we could learn to live in this world. Besides I have heard that many of the dietary rules were important to stay healthy in a word w/o refrigeration. I could be wrong, of course.

    • Trapped in Time — frozen into the sequential reality, able to move through Time only by floating on the current instead of free to move about as the eternal beings we are.

      This is the real imprisonment, not the spatial cell of this minor planet.

  10. Erich Schwarz

    Why did we stop going to space? I’ve been tempted for some time to believe that the culprit was Michael Flynn’s “Babbage Society”:

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/076534498X

  11. According to Alice Walker, some of us (guess which) are descended from shape-changing lizard people. Apparently.

    http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/23/if-you-disagree-with-alice-walker-about-the-zimmerman-verdict-youre-probably-a-shapeshifting-lizard-like-alien/

    • masgramondou

      Wow. That’s quite a conspiracy theory

      • Isn’t it. I love the people saying “you just didn’t get her metaphors.” Um… possibly because she didn’t write in English but in brain ejecta.
        And btw she’s a litewawy dahling. enough to condemn traditional publishing five times over.

        • I spent some time tracing those links, to other places where Walker quotes this theory, to an interview with the shaman who describes the creatures. That’s… quite a story.

          New theory: Walker won’t allow her books to be translated to Hebrew or be published in Israel, not for her stated reason, but because she can only be taken seriously by people who have never read her work.

          (This thread does seem to be verging off the cryptozoology-type crazy to the political-conspiracy-type.)

        • rawlenyanzi

          I’ve read her book The Color Purple in just two days (no shapeshifting lizards in that one, unfortunately.) Though I could tell where spoken phrases began and ended, some quotation marks would have been helpful — unless, of course, quotes are tools of the oppressor or something.

          • The argument is that strict adherence to the rules of grammar, punctuation, etc. serve to suppress the development of creativity, free expression. They are a tool used by the formally lizards to keep everyone else in their place. Or something like that.

  12. I love crop circles. Some of the designs are just beautiful.

    And _Iron Sky_ is totally not a comedy. Did _not_ just about die laughing.

    • Rob Crawford

      You talking about the “Nazis on the Moon” movie? It had one good line:

      “Okay who didn’t arm their spaceship?”
      [Finland’s representative slowly raises his hand]

  13. Hehehehe. I know *exactly* what happened to the Neanderthals, and they speak proto-Proto-Indo-European, and yes the greys (well, in my case blue and white aliens) are to blame. See, the Neanderthals were carted off to be slaves and we scrawny Cro-Magnons were the factory rejects! (The Scent of Metal). I had lots of fun figuring out the language and timelines and everything. I started to worry when everything was coming together TOO neatly.

  14. Art Bell, yea, listened to him going all the way back to when the UFO/Bigfoot/ghost stuff was only on the weekend. I’ve heard rumblings in the further corners of the weird net that he might be coming back on the radio.

    Remember reading somewhere that the folk in far northern Finland have a fair amount of Neanderthal DNA, so they never really went away.

    A good “what were people doing for all that time before recorded history” book is Tropic of Night by I believe a guy named Gruber. Posits that magic/shamanism was real and the result of 98,000 years of trial and error experimentation with the plants and animals until certain folk figured out how to use whats around them to alter their own endocrine system. They could then emit target specific pheromones, causing the target to see what the shaman wants, forget or remember or pass out, even control the target. It’s a supernatural thriller set in the present, usually outside my normal reading, but was dam good.

    Oh, and the Flood story is probably a sort of race memory of what happened around the shores of the Black Sea at the end of the last ice age.

  15. The figure I read was about 5% for Europeans. The distributions for Denisovans are really interesting (widely gapped). And did you see (recently) that we’ve pushed the “first common Adam” back quite a distance, with the genetic analysis of a fellow with Mbo ancestry? Apparently the Mbos have some interesting genetics.

  16. A lot of folks, most all of us here I suspect, believe in space exploration, want it badly, know that it’s the future of our race. The danger is that it can blind us to the realities of our economic and governmental systems.
    The US government spends more than all the other space faring countries combined. They do so grudgingly and terribly inefficiently, but have in the past accomplished achievements unparalleled by any other entity. Adjusted for inflation the NASA budget peaked in 1965 and has gone down hill every year since in real dollars. We no longer have a manned space launch capability, relying on the Russians and 30 year old launch vehicles for access to ISS. The Constellation program would have given us back the moon had it been sustained and properly funded. Probably would have cost a hundred billion or so, and Mars was doable for around five times that. It didn’t happen and likely never will because there is no short term payoff.
    It all comes down to votes and the odds and space geeks just don’t have the numbers.
    Private industry is cherry picking the elements of space that do have a short term payout: telecom satellites, service to ISS, suborbital tourism, and the like. Regular service and exploration to other planets and the belt where the potential for real profit lies is still a fever dream. Development would run tens to hundreds of billions with no guarantee of profit in the foreseeable future. Of course we all believe differently, but we mostly are not venture capitalists or other investors with the discretionary funds to make it all happen.
    I know people like to compare space to exploration of the new world, but believe me space is harder. True, an Atlantic crossing was no picnic back in the day, but at least you had fresh air and food and water awaited you at your destination. The only things free in space are hard vacuum and solar energy. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress ain’t just the title of a book. It truly is a nasty place filled with abrasive dust, more of that hard vacuum, and humongous temperature swings.
    Sorry to be so negative, but sometimes reality sucks.

    • TANSTAAFL, sir. I think I read somewhere (David Drake?), a character said that space doesn’t care about you, but it will kill you if it can. Yup. Space is hard, cold, and mistakes generally mean somebody’s trying to breathe vacuum.

      But it’s also awesome. Even given economic and governmental realities I think we are *going* to get there. New technologies (pulsed plasma, fusion rockets, et al.), new people just getting into the game where the government used to be the only one in town… I don’t see how, short of global catastrophe, we won’t eventually.

      May not be in my lifetime, granted. There will be roadblocks, mistakes, and if there are major one(s) that will slow the process even more. Beyond the awesome I mentioned, should the books ever balance out on asteroid mining, the economics will begin to work *for* us, the people that want humanity to be among the stars.

      Bad stuff is going to happen. Things we can’t even begin to imagine now, those will happen too, for good or ill. But I believe that the goal is worth the cost, the effort, and all. I think enough people do, and will continue to do so until humanity changes to such a point that I won’t recognize it anymore.

      Didn’t mean to double post, but yours popped up while I was typing mine below. *grin*

      • Yes, space is hard.

        But so is anything worth while.

        Consider the number of people that must have died when the polynesians expanded into the pacific. How many out rigger canoes didn’t make it to hawaii?

        Or how many Viking long boats didn’t make it to iceland or vineland.

        Divinci designed flying machines four hundred years before the Wright brothers.

        The first people to consider building the Pamama Canal was in the 1500’s in the glory days of the Spanish Empire. That also took almost four hundred years before it came into being.

        There are two basic problems with space exploration today.

        One is risk aversion. No one is supposed to die. That isn’t going to happen.

        The second is impatience.

        I want a starship. When do I want it? NOW!

        • You do realize that da Vinci was a time traveler, stranded across a chrono-synclastic infundibulum? He manifested as Merlin in the 6th Century, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci in the late 15th Century, reappearing in the 16th Century as Michel de Nostredame and in the mid-20th Century as Clyde Crashcup (where his invention of the time machine was reenacted on television.)

          Other manifestations have not been confirmed, although he is believed to have several times been a shaman, possibly in the court of Temujin or his grandson, Kublai.

          • Bosh. He was Leonard Vincent, student at Boulder who got sent back to the 15th century while trying to go to the 25th. I KNOW. Heinlein said so 😉

            • Must the two be mutually exclusive?

            • You’re both wrong.

              DiVinci was a immortal born six thousand years ago in Mesopotamia who had various aliases as famous figures in history like Methuselah Alexander Lazarus, Merlin and Brahms.

              • Yes, immortal because he got caught in that time spiral. Not immortal like Vandal Savage.

                • I believe you’re mistaking him with British Diplomat Benjamin Bathurst or Pensylvania State Policeman Calvin Morrison who were accidentally picked up by a Paratime conveyor

            • I just had a scary thought. We are on the far side of “A Door Into Summer”. The “future” parts took place in 2002 or 2003. That’s ten years in the past.

                • Ok, I want anti gravity. We have CAD station which are actually better than the one RAH described, we have robot vacuums, which turn out to be rather silly, and weird fabrics for women, which except for celebrities, no woman would wear, for good reason. But no antigravity.

                  • “and weird fabrics for women, which except for celebrities, no woman would wear, for good reason.”

                    You mean like a meat dress?

                  • At the time the book was written, Kevlar and Spandex were still in the future, and most of the other synthetic fibers were recent, hot-off-the-press technology.

                    Granted, Kevlar isn’t everyday wear other than in certain specialized occupations. Yet. 🙂

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      It probably never will be. It’s yellow naturally, and doesn’t accept dyes. They’re finally getting close enough to artificially producing spider silk that it looks like within 10-15 years, that may be the new thing for superstrong cloth soon.

        • Sure, it would be insanely great to warp spacetime (if possible) and create FTL starships.

          But before we tackle that, an elevator would be nice.

          • It most certainly would. Last time I was involved in the technical side we were very close to having materials with sufficient strength to make a space elevator work. Certainly less than an order of magnitude away, and that was a few years ago.
            Only two arguments against a “beanstalk” that hold any weight are the lack of a safe politically stable equatorial location for one, and the fact that once built it would be a massively attractive target for terrorists.
            Cheap Earth to LEO would at the very least hand us a viable path to lunar colonization.

            • There are a couple of islands off Colombia. Gorgona island currently only holds a bird sanctuary and is an ecotourism destination, but it used to be a prison island. Right in the doldrums, and about as stable as it gets. Your big fittings to go up can be shipped right to the base by sea and you have 20 miles to the mainland to drop stuff if you have to ditch for any reason..

              • masgramondou

                And if you don’t like that there’s Sao Tome & Principe off the west coast of Africa. Lots of infrastructure around because there’s a good deal of oil there. And if that’s no good there’s Singapore or rather a bit of Indonesia just across the channel from it

                • Do you think it would be possible to detatch the bottom anchor and winch the whole thing up above the hurricane/typhoons when they come through, or would that impart undesired spin?

    • It might be better to instead think of the Apollo program as St. Brendan’s voyage. It’s not much of an exaggeration to say that we took some tin foil, string, and lamp oil and went to the Moon. That’s why space travel is so expensive: the technology isn’t there. You can make up for a lack of technology to some extent with money, but it’s hell on your ROI.

      I think the biggest obstacles to exploiting the resources of the asteroid belt are legal, not technical. There’s too much uncertainty about liability if the perigee of the low Earth parking orbit is a bit too low, and what would keep a country like China from simply appropriating the hunk of palladium you spent billions bringing back home.

      • ” what would keep a country like China from simply appropriating the hunk of palladium you spent billions bringing back home.”

        Only an idiot would spend billions bringing in a chunk of palladium without spending a few billion on protection. I expect space exploration and exploitation to pick up shortly after Blackwater starts to offer significant numbers of Space Mercenaries for hire 🙂

        • The problem with buying protection is that it’s not just China, but every tinpot kleptocrat is going to claim a piece. After all, there’s a treating stating celestial objects are the common property of all mankind. Although being at the top of a gravity well with a demonstrated ability to accurately place rocks does significantly strengthen one’s bargaining position.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            IIRC that treaty wasn’t signed by the nations able to go into space. In any case, IMO if it’s in the national interests of space faring nations to allow ownership of celestial objects, then that treaty will be forgotten or replaced. If China (for example) got a “chunk” of the money from space mining, then China would likely protect the space miners from the tinpot kleptocrats. I suspect that if citizens of several nations were involved in space mining, then the national governments would tell the non-space faring nations “you and what army?” in regards to the old treaty.

            • The Outer Space Treaty was signed by spacefaring nations. I’m not saying that because of the Wikipedia article, but because of clicking some of the references in the article.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Ah, I was thinking of the Moon Treaty. The Moon Treaty is the one that hasn’t been signed by space-faring nations. In any case, I hold with the idea that the Outer Space Treaty would be changed/ignored if nations saw something out there worth owning.

                • Wayne Blackburn

                  I figure if private groups get out there, they will declare things small enough to defend to be theirs, and tell anyone trying to use that treaty to go breathe vacuum.

                  • marycatelli

                    A country’s territorial waters were for a long time the standard distance you could shoot a cannon. Space will be the same.

                • Your cynicism, sir, is appalling. You probably believe the Soviet Union willfully failed to abide by the ABM and other treaties. In rebuttal to your cynical presumption I remind you of Germany’s careful compliance with the treaties signed at the end of the Great War.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Chuckle Chuckle

                    Seriously, have you read Eric Flint & Ryk Spoor’s Boundary series?

                    In it after the first alien bases were found, the space-faring nations set up procedures for nations/organizations to claim alien bases found by them (as well as claiming portions asteroids/planets the explorers landed on).

                    Of course, this was fictional but I see no reason that it wouldn’t happen in the “real world”.

                    IMO to do otherwise would start a war between people who wanted to claim “outer space territories” and those who wanted nobody to claim “outer space territories”. It would be better to set up rules to allow claims while setting up rules to prevent “fights over claims”.

            • You’re thinking of the Moon Treaty. It specifically forbids private ownership, but hasn’t been signed by anyone who matters.

              The Outer Space Treaty – which has been ratified by all the space-faring nations – doesn’t forbid ownership, but it does prohibit “national appropriation…by means of use or occupation.” Does that mean a private company can claim a chunk of space stuff they go out and get? Nobody knows, and nobody’s willing to risk billions of dollars to find out.

              You could pay off the big boys, but you’d have to pay all of them off lest Russia (for example) decided to stand up for the right of Serbia to claim their fair share of the bonanza (I know, it’s far-fetched for Russia to risk major war in defending Serbia, just run with it). Buying protection from every strongman is going to eat up your profit margin quick, especially on the first couple of runs.

              • One of the compensating advantages of space, though, is that (at least when confronting opponents on Earth) possession is _more_ than 9/10ths there. Seizing resources by force from someone who already occupies them is going to be a tremendous cost…greater, in all likelihood, than the cost of just grabbing another asteroid and setting up in competition. They’d quickly discover, I suspect, that it’s much cheaper to _buy_ one’s metals, than to steal them.

                After all, the country that wants to steal an asteroid will still need to send up a mining crew, but they’ll also need to send an army, and all that entails. Then, assuming they win the battle, they’ll still need to be supported, despite the fact that they’re not producing anything. And meanwhile, from the moment that army launches, gravity and potential energy are fighting on the side of the incumbents.

                • Except that your asteroid has zero value until you bring it to market, which for now means Earth. Thieves and tax collector (BIRM) don’t have to go to your asteroid, they just have to wait until you bring it here.

                  Eventually you are correct, with multiple markets it will become more competitive and costs to producers will drop. But we’re facing a bootstrapping problem. We can’t get colonies in space until we show that space is profitable, but we can’t show that space is profitable until we can create a framework to define the costs to prospective producers.

                  • Finding a market that doesn’t feel like enforcing the OST at the grave expense of their own economic prospects shouldn’t be too hard, though.

                    When weighing a hypothetical obligation under a treaty that generates no value to themselves against the potential for gigabucks of easy GDP growth, I’m betting even the most socialistically-inclined of nations will quickly feel the pull of Adam Smith’s invisible hand. 😉

          • AND THAT is, I think why no development has happened. It’s a bad treaty. It needs to go down.

      • marycatelli

        Some country will decide that space miner haven is a growth industry. It will therefore control a supply of metals militarily useful and therefore be dangerous to offend.

        • One of the major sore issues with the colonies was that although the exploitable resources were in the colonies they had to be returned to the home country to me turned into useable products. My question is why do you want to risk flinging small mountains at Earth orbit with the chance of missing and losing it or missing and making a nasty crater with all the associated claims for damage?
          If you were planning to make, say cast iron cookware and grill equipment out of asteroid ores, you have to find the energy to smelt, then melt and cast the finished products, then find energy to do the finishing work on them so they are ready to sell. You can send the ore to Earth where they have the manufacturing and energy infrastructure to process it to turn it into pots and pans, but you have the risk of pranging a load of rock and getting sued. It also means you are dependent on your buyers and processors who are a long ways away. Alternatively, you could build your own plant at the asteroids and import a nuke plant to power your plant in orbit near your mines and send finished product back to Earth or wherever you want, at a lower cost because you got rid of all the impurities. However, since you can spot such a plant anywhere, why leave it tethered to a particular orbit or specific rock? You already have to get the finished product or the ore to Earth, so why not just put your orbital factory in a elongated orbit, possibly coming inside of Venus, to take advantage of the free sunlight and run your smelting and forging operation on solar power instead?
          You pick up ore at the asteroids, crush and prepare it on the way in, dump some at the moon or Earth as you sail by, do your smelting at peri(sol?), and as you are returning from the Sun, you will be slowing down and you can launch your finished products at Earth, Moon, or Mars as you go by with a touch more control. It would be like having a factory playing the Flying Dutchman, never stopping anywhere, but you would be outside of gravity wells, EPA jurisdiction, and all nations that feel that you are making money that is rightfully theirs.

      • Your first point, Jeff, is an answer to your second. C.f. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress or Pournelle’s Project Thor.

    • Uncle Lar: “We no longer have a manned space launch capability”

      The U.S. government doesn’t, but Elon Musk, Richard Branson, and Jeff Bezos are working on it.

      I’m betting they’ll get there long before the feds do. It’s going to be done Heinlein-style this time. D.D. Harriman would be pleased. 🙂

      • And folks have been working on turning lead into gold for four or five hundred years. How’s that working out.
        I apologize for the sarcasm, but I worked in space operations for a quarter century and every year someone new came along with a new story on how they were going to have cheap payload to orbit any time now. I’m a bit cynical.
        Most of the private effort is being focused on suborbital space tourism. Nothing wrong with that, but it is an order of magnitude easier than a round trip Earth to LEO and back with a useful payload. The energy profile to insert into stable orbit then dump that energy again to return to earth is a much bigger deal that most folks realize. Which is why I was so pleased when Space X accomplished a cargo flight to ISS and successful return of the capsule. That was a grand achievement, even though the Russians have been doing the same thing for years and ESA and NASDA have both done it at least once.
        Right now the private concerns are nibbling at the edges of the space business, primarily tourism and service to ISS, which is where the short term payback is. The low hanging fruit if you will. No one is making a legitimate effort to reach further which I find discouraging though I fully understand the political and economic reasons behind the sad truth.

  17. The oddness is great. I tend think people who don’t enjoy the conspiracy theories, space aliens, and suchlike are either too tightly laced or else just shamming and listening to art bell on the sly when their spouse is asleep.

  18. I enjoy the anomalies and general strangeness of the world as recorded by Charles Fort and William Corliss.

    I was interested in ufo’s as a child but now they just seem like the same storeies told over and over again. Alos if only a fraction of them were true then Earth is the Atlanta Hub, of the galaxy. (No one actually goes there, they’re just passing through.)

    Recomand the stories Sinister Barrier by Eric Frank Russel and the short story Goldfish Bowl by Heinlein.

  19. I grew up with Eric Van Dannekan (who now has a museum in Switzerland) and the late ’70s UFO stuff. Which fed right into the original Battlestar Galactica series. Alas, I could see the holes in his argument even as a kid. Cryptozoology caught my fancy next, then paranormal stuff, and archaeology. I have no idea where my Odd interest will wander next.

    • Rob Crawford

      My interest in archaeology was piqued by the book “Fantastic Archaeology”, which was about the hoaxes and weird theories in US archaeology. It helped that at least half the sites were close to me.

  20. We “gave up space” because governments had a monopoly on it, and once we’d collected a few moon rocks (and won the chest-beating contest against the Russians), nothing governments had any interest in doing in space was interesting enough to the rest of us.

    “Does this project move humanity closer to a situation in which I or my descendents can go online and buy a ticket to orbit, Luna, Mars, or Alpha Centauri the way I can go online today and buy a ticket to Indianapolis, Seattle, Sydney, or Timbuktu?” People whose activities in (and plans for) space exploration today, whose answer to that question is “yes” have no trouble at all attracting the support they need from the public. Whereas Apollo 11 was the last big NASA project where folks believed the answer to that was “yes”. (Ever since, even when there _is_ a case to be made that the work they’re doing advances the prospects for space-access-for-all — as with the Mars probes — they step all over themselves rushing to deny it. NASA is basically the Science equivalent of the English-teacher-conspiracy that’s given us a majority-aliterate population.)

    • There was also a great deal of pressure on the government to drop the ‘expensive’ space program while there were still people on earth who were hungry. Neither the government or the press did much to promote all the gains to economy that the developments from the space program had brought us. Then a couple of tragic accidents gave fodder to the squeamish to argue that space is just too dangerous.

      It is likely that if more money had been invested the original design of the shuttle not only would have produced a better vehicle, reaching beyond sub space orbit, it, also, likely would been less effected by low temperatures.

      • My understanding of the history of the shuttle is that we could’ve spent a lot *less* and gotten a safer vehicle if Congress hadn’t continuously expanded the mission of the vehicle, demanding that it be all things to all constituencies. We ended up with something that did a lot of things badly, and expensively, rather than something that did a few things well for a fraction of the cost.

        IANARS, so take the above with however much salt seems appropriate:-)

        • That problem — trying to be all things to all missions — has long afflicted government procurement. Robert Coram’s biography of John Boyd (Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War) spends considerable time on the way in which American fighter jet design was repeatedly compromised by the services’s efforts to make our fighter jets able to provide close air support and perform bombing runs in addition to aerial combat. The success of the beloved Warthog, the A-10, is largely attributed to its being a “red-headed stepchild” developed to prevent the Army from capturing the close-air support mission — a goal that kept ambitious designer hands off the development process.

          The shuttle, by lacking a specific mission, was invariably subject to these design compromise pressures.

  21. I’m a cryptozoologist way beyond weird. I hold to the Ted Holliday Goblin Universe school – Bigfoot isn’t real, because Gigantopithicus could not survive, but we may be seeing the ghosts of Gigantopithicus. All the Nessie photos are faked, but there is something in Loch Ness, it’s supernatural, and it’s evil. And Columbus was peeking at an ancient map of Asia while steering his ships to the new world, he thought Cuba was Japan, Florida was Korea, etc. Explains why he thought the world was much smaller.
    Ha! And Sarah thinks SHE’S weird!

  22. masgramondou

    Presented without comment – http://abstrusegoose.com/525

    • rawlenyanzi

      A neat little theory, but some traces of a prior advanced civilization would be left if that were the case.

    • rawlenyanzi

      It does, however, show just how incomplete our knowledge of the past is.

      • The iron age supposedly began just far enough ago so that any earlier iron or steel would be unrecognizable. And there are odd earlier traces – The Antykithera mechanism, for instance.

        • rawlenyanzi

          There’s a difference between simple iron tools and advanced machinery, though.

        • It’s pretty well known that various Greek cities had clockwork mechanisms of various kinds, and that the skill in it existed up into the late days of the Byzantine Empire. Heck, St.Macrina talks about lifelike automatons in her deathbed encouragement talk with her brother St. Gregory of Nyssa.

          The Antikythera Mechanism is just a less showboaty, more useful mechanism than a bird that chirps and flaps its wings or a door that opens by itself. The elaborate nature of it is wow impressive, but the principles are well within Greek knowledge.

          • Rob Crawford

            Some of the descriptions of the emperor’s throne room sound more like Disney’s “Enchanted Tiki Room” than anything else. Animated birds, tigers, and what.

            • You know, you’re exactly right. It’s animatronic awe.

              To be fair, later medieval Europe also had a lot of animatronic clockwork fun. Mostly in the town or cathedral clock, though there were also animatronic statues and such. Sadly, most of the non-clock animatronics were up in Northern Europe and got destroyed in the Reformation.

      • Well, there IS a point about under sea — or under ice. NOT LIKELY but it could be fudged enough for a story if you handwavey really fast.

        • rawlenyanzi

          A lot of the sci-fi and fantasy we read rely on handwavium (or “phlebotinum” as TV Tropes calls it); that’s why they’re so fun.

    • I like that comic. What’s the frequency, Dan?

  23. There is this fun book about the ancient Finnish sea empire… well, the theory goes that they weren’t just Finnish (nor all that big an empire, just around the northern part of Baltic, and along the gulf of Bothnia). The general idea is that this empire was very much a sea power, it never had that many land possessions, just the shores of parts of modern Sweden, modern Estonia and Finland proper which are the areas around modern Turku, and ‘Finnish’ because the main language was.

    The writer was, and actually is still a rather well respected historian, but that theory of his is mostly forgotten. For one thing the basis for that theory is rather flimsy, lots of guesswork based on very little factual evidence. There are small mentions of things in some writings, like the fact that some of the earlier rulers in neighboring kingdoms, Sweden and Norway at least, claimed that they descended from some Finnish or Kvenish (Kvenland, one of the other shore areas back then) king (those kings, or in same cases, dynasties, may have been some sort of real, in a similar way as the legend of king Arthur could be based on some local warlord, but may as well have been completely mythological), and I think there is at least one king list in in existence, but most of this evidence is stuff like that, one sentence here and there, and very, very little anything in archeology (unfortunately our ancestors in these parts mostly built from wood, and… well, for example, Turku is about 700 hundred years old, but it certainly does not look that old. Used to burn down completely about once a century, the last great fire was in the 19th century), and some questions, like why the vikings usually bypassed this part of the world when they had their fun almost everywhere else (so the usual explanation is that there just wasn’t enough loot here for them to bother – but what if it was that there still was too efficient and well organized armies at that point, a remnant of that older sea empire? There are some stories of attempted raids in which the vikings got their asses handed to them).

    But it’s fun to think of. The official history is that the area of Finland was populated by small, warring tribes until they got conquered by the Swedes, it would be rather nice if somebody some day proved that we had a bit more illustrious ancient history than that. 😀

    Besides, it would put some credence for my claim that I may descend from one of those kings, through my grandmother – her maiden name was Torri, and there is just one family with that surname, and one of those mythological ancient kings was named that, or possibly Torro. So, as you see… 😀

  24. They’re like really good scifi/fantasy books– but they can do stuff that don’t match the known facts!

  25. William O. B'Livion

    Okay, I confess. I have a weird side.

    F’ing shocker that.

    The implication though is that you have a normal side. This has yet to be demonstrated.

    And if not, why did we give up on Space?

    No one who believed in space gave up.

    • She cleans. And makes coffee. Both are fairly normal, at least if she does them the normal way. So there is some evidence.

    • Dorothy Grant

      She has an utterly normal side – being a wife and mother, and cleaner of litter boxes, helper with homework, maker of dinner, provider of the cat-scritching, etc. Her views on socialism and communism are also perfectly normal for an ex-pat who’s lived through it.

      And if I view myself as normal (and I do), she’s pretty normal. Certainly not a deviation and a half away, like women who know what’s the in-fashion for this season, or the men with more than thirty pairs of expensive shoes!

      • OK, you mentions expensive shoes and my mind goes:

      • William O. B'Livion

        Well, I’ve gotten rid of some. And what’s “expensive” anyway? A pair of shoes that costs me $300 but can be resoled almost forever for ~75 every 2-3 years is a lot cheaper than a pair that runs $100 and has to be replaced every 2-3 years. At least after 8 or 10 years.

        Lots of “normal” can be faked in software.

  26. Sarah, I don’t think you’re weird or odd in that, because I’ve always had an unbreakable compulsion to peruse such things when I run across them.

    I think it’s more weird that so many people are able to turn off whatever sense of curiosity they possess, and that they are able to focus instead on silly things like a member of the British royal family having a baby. Don’t women get pregnant and give birth all the time? Unless it was one of the male members of the family giving birth, what’s the fuss?

    As for the greys, after reading Bob Bakker’s The Dinosaur Heresies during my college years, I thought there was a nifty story idea in the notion that those greys aren’t really “aliens”, but rather the distant descendants of a highly intelligent therapod that evolved into a space-based civilization, who wiped out all the large dinosaurs in an act of societal preservation as they industrialized. Now they have come back, driven by profound levels of curiosity, to watch the intelligent species that evolved after they left. I picture them monitoring our media broadcasts and finding great amusement in the naivete on display.

    I vaguely remember reading the cover of an alien invasion novel a little like that, based on the premise that the evolved dinosaurs were territorial and wanted their planet back, but to this day I cannot wrap my head around the notion that a spacefaring culture would want to reconquer the bottom of a gravity well, so I didn’t read it.

  27. The Silurians went into the ocean, so they’d be wanting to reconquer the top of the gravity well.

    There are a lot of conspiracy theories about the royal family. Like they have to send one of the royal family to pay the teind to the Fey….

    Anyway, people are going to be interested in what they’re interested in.

  28. The question of why it is we haven’t gone back to space is that there’s no bloody point to it, at the moment. Economically, what’s to be gained?

    Spain would never have financed the Columbian expeditions if they hadn’t had some idea that they’d be able to make a profit from it. Even knowing there was a good chance of profit, how long did it take from 1492 until things really got going in the Americas? Another thirty years, or so? And, that was with a known goal, and an economic benefit to be had. When you look at it, it’s actually a wonder we’re still spending money in anything beyond near-earth orbit.

    Give it time. Economic access to space will develop, but only slowly as the industrial and resource benefits become clear, and profitable. If all Columbus had found was more ocean, odds are that more exploration missions would have only happened much later, and with far less enthusiasm.

    • Rob Crawford

      Thing is, what brought them the profits wasn’t what the expected. They expected cinnamon and silk — but got gold and chocolate and potatoes and tomatoes and…

      • Shucks – you got to what I wanted to say before I could comment it. And you left off the MOST important item: chile peppers!!! Without hot peppers Szechuan, Hunan, Thai and Indian cuisines would be unbearably bland!!!

        What brought them greatest profits, of course, is something easily overlooked: Trade! Steel and beads and technology from the Old World was cheap there but valuable in the New, and what was cheap in the New World was precious in the Old.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          Don’t forget pumpkins (squash)! If it weren’t for pumpkins, we’d still be carving Jack-O-Lanterns from turnips.

    • The estimate I remember is that one good asteroid mine should produce more exploitable metals than are accessible in the entire crust of the Earth. Especially the rare ones needed for high-tech industries. If there isn’t an obvious profit to be made there, I don’t know where you’d find it. I’m waiting eagerly to see big industry decide to get in on that opportunity.

      Besides, completely destroying the world economy by flooding it with cheap resources would be so damn much fun! Not to mention the potential energy waiting to be exploited after you nudge a huge rock into geosynchronous orbit and start melting pieces off of it. We just need the right evil overlord aspirant to get that ball rolling.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        There HAVE been analyses indicating that due to the price reductions that would result from flooding the markets, the asteroid miners would be unable to show a profit. I tend to disagree. If they massively drop the prices, what will that do to the production of things that currently are high-priced due to the price of those materials? I say it would produce an economic boom that would not only cover the miners’ costs, but soon would have them scrambling to keep up with demand.

      • Alexis Gilliland’s Revolution from Rosinante and it’s two sequels had a bunch of colonists, cut off from resupply by politics (after being shipped a couple thousand politically inconvenient and thus exiled college kids from Texas(!)) declaring independence and continuing their mining activities. They end up using the more common stuff (iron etc.) to build up their infrastructure while they skim off the rare stuff for use as political leverage in their maneuverings between the competing power blocks back on Earth.
        He has a great scene near the end where one group of Earthside pols, thinking they were getting ill gotten gains in precious metals garnered from the piracy of a different block’s colony, upon seeing pallet after pallet of gold bars roll into the Earth orbit terminus get rapidly acquainted with how much trace metals are yielded when one melts an entire nickel-iron asteroid.

  29. Birthday girl

    Right, so where can I read about those three Neanderthals?

  30. Hmm, for a pre-our-history advanced civilization – there might be room for something like that depending on how far back it was.

    If, ala Lovecraft (in the Mountains of Madness), some now extinct Cambrian explosion offshoot had an advanced globe spanning technological civilization some 550 million years ago, we’d be hard pressed to find any traces today. Anything less inert than metal would be gone in a mere millenia or two. Metals would be gone in 10,000 years, rusted away to nothing. Only the rarest geological conditions would enable the preservation of ceramics and fossils. Much would have been subducted beneath plate boundaries in the splitting of the continents.

    I remember one of my history classes where my professor was detailing the difficulties (over and above trying to get in and out of Saddam run Iraq) with investigating villages that were 8000 years old. Ceramic tablets were preserved, but the paper libraries were dust before classical Greece was young. Metal nails in buildings are only identifiable by the impressions in the spaces where the bricks used to be.

    • rawlenyanzi

      There’s also the notion that all elements heavier than iron are formed in supernova explosions, including the elements our bodies are made of.

      Maybe there was some previous life-supporting planet that got destroyed in the supernova that ultimately formed our sun.

  31. Wayne Blackburn

    And if not, why did we give up on Space?

    Um… It was probably the Grays.

    I’m telling you, it simply got too dangerous. The only way to explain the number of unexplainable encounters as being aliens is if the Earth is surrounded by literally millions of craft, and it has gotten so crowded that we can’t launch safely any more.

    • …it simply got too dangerous

      Point of evidence #1: The intermittently active Mars defense grid. Even after NASA got the hackers from Black Hat/DEF CON to hack into the grid so the JPL rovers could land safely, sometimes it still wakes up and takes potshots at anything nearby.

  32. OT but of interest:
    Texas Officials, Activists to Holder on Voter ID: If It’s War You Want, It’s War You’ve Got
    There’s a reason people say Don’t mess with Texas, Texans are ornery!

  33. Well, President Maduro, of Venezuela, has recently claimed to be “un martiano”. Unfortunately in Spanish that means a follower of San Martin, the liberator of Argentina, and not an actual Martian. I had hopes.
    Specifically I was hoping for an Earth-Shattering Kaboom.

  34. Beavers don’t “lose” dams; when the land around the dam becomes unable to sustain the beaver population, the beavers abandon it, and move somewhere else, leaving the area to recover.

    Which explains the legends of dwarves interacting with humans, then packing up and leaving via portals in the earth — the sapient beaver race which preceded (and abetted) the rise of humanity realized the humans would not let them live, folded up their tents, and ‘ported off this rock.

    Of course, eventually the area the beaver left recovers, and future generations of beavers can move in — so what do you think is going to happen when the Left is finished fucking up the planet?

    It’s all in my new film, _Canadian-Pacific Rim_…. 😉

    • So we should follow the policy of the Hudson Bay Company in keeping down the population of Vile Progs? Ok.

  35. I’m glad to see Ric Locke mentioned. He is sorely missed by me and many others (particularly over at Protein Wisdom), and not just because we’ll never see another book set in that universe.

    • masgramondou

      (hoping the comment sticks this time)
      I have (and maybe sarah has?) about 2/3rds of his sequel. In other words all the scene setting bits but a total lack of build up to grand finale/bringing it together. Also a lack of how it was supposed to tie in with TDY. There are no notes o what was expected to happen and these is (in my mind anyway) a synchronicty problem with TDY that probably needs to be resolved before we get to the grand finale.

      • No, I don’t have it.
        I think part of the problem — what he complained about to me — was the inability to connect the book. This is something I’ve experienced while oxygen impaired, so it’s possible that he simply couldn’t think clearly enough to do it. (One of my musketeer mysteries suffered from this, and was six months late because I didn’t realize how ill I was.)
        It remains to hope that there is an afterlife and that he’ll have a slew of sequels for us when we get there. A paltry hope, but it will do.

        • masgramondou

          Yeah I think that was the problem. Which is frustrating because what he had was good.

    • No. I feel cheated because he was a friend I met only too briefly. But not seeing another book from him hurts too.

      • Have you contacted his son about possibly finishing the book? I don’t really know the son (even online) but maybe he’d be open to that. I would love to see it. I’d also love to see a collection of his nonfiction essays.

        • I also don’t know his son. In fact, he didn’t answer the three emails sent when rumors of Ric’s death started circulating, nor the condolences message afterwards.

  36. Speaking of grey things from outer space: if any fellow fans of the galaxy’s most morose space pirate have not yet heard, there’s a CG film coming out in September (Japanese release) that looks wonderful. Ignore the music, please:

    http://io9.com/three-more-minutes-of-complete-captain-harlock-movie-ba-899849931

  37. OT, but Ann Morgan showed up in the comments on Vox’s blog. I tried to gently chide her and advise her against prolixity, but it seems she did not attend. Tl;dr is her writing style.

      • TL;DR (sometimes spelled Teal Deer): Too long, didn’t read.

        On Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 5:35 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > accordingtohoyt commented: “Tl;dr?” >

      • tl;dr=too long don’t read.

      • Well, Sarah, it’s like this:
        Sometimes you write blog posts which amount to two or three screenfuls. Nonetheless, I read them all the way through, even if I have to make two or three passes. Some People have about one short paragraph of information to impart, and use six or seven screenfuls to do it. The latter are the people who invoke the tl;dr reaction.

        • P.s. This is what Sarah has in common with the late Cap’n Lex, in that he wrote, and she writes, like angels. With Sarah and Lex, I think, “Please write more!” With Some People, I think “Please write less!”

        • Oh yes. Well in the case of the commenter mentioned, she didn’t seem to know what point she was making and it made my head hurt to try to follow it.