That Time

There will be another post, but right now have this, which also explains why I’ve been …. kinda scattered around here.

Mad Genius Club

There is a sense to this last week, as the year speeds to its end.  Most years, there is, of course, though it’s often submerged in the sense of rushing and getting things done for the end of the year.  Parties, friends, one last chance to see people and get gifts wrapped. That sort of thing.  This year, it feels like I’m getting things done, too, but there’s a sense of purpose to it.

I’m not — despite being a writer and therefore seeing plots and sense everywhere — in general given to seeing “It’s intended” or “meant to be” but these last two weeks might be the exception.

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114 thoughts on “That Time

  1. Hey, feel free to skip the second post and enjoy the day with your love. We won’t mind! Frankly, I’m glad today is a regular day off, because between the sugar overload, the too much coffee, and the thunderstorms scaring the cats all night, I need a down day where it’s almost noon before I manage to get on the treadmill desk and turn on the happy light so I can simulate standard awake human. Heck, your post at MGC just filled me with a vague dread of “Oh, no, I have three days to come up with something wise and witty there myself!”

    Having a library organized and at hand is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Enjoy the diving back into forgotten books, with your free time no longer spent cleaning the carpet!

      1. Libraries are also hierarchical. If they aren’t they aren’t libraries, they’re merely a mess o’ books.

              1. Yes. I can find what I need when I need it. Foreign language books are there, current research is here, dissertation books are right there, over the note notebooks, fiction’s back there, and academic journals are on the bottom shelf. Day Job references are in the middle shelves because they rotate between my office, my reading chair, and Day Job. And the desk cubbies have desk cubby stuff in them.

          1. Hell is an infinitely large library, where you are given a job to file books back on the shelves, and filing system randomly changes every minute.

    1. Yesterday was interesting in that Chinese sense. Protip: New dog treats, old dogs, big mess. Both dogs lost their lunches, and the older one had a second round losing beef and rice-bread. The other one must have digested some of it; had to break out the Immodium today (25-33% of human dose, per our vet.) That one was in the kennel, so not much cleanup.

      The treats got trashed. We can take a hint.

    1. It is possible that Sarah is a wee bit of a workaholic with obligation issues. The amount of times I’ve seen “Guys, I’m sorry, this is not a post, but…” *Insert explanation of how she has been burning the candle both ends, and still feels a need to throw some more light here* “and I will have a real post ™ up later.”, and then we have a merry time trolling each other and stuff in the comments. Maybe the volume is low, and maybe it doesn’t get the haters whining as much as some of the bigger real posts ™, but there have been real posts ™ with similar comment threads to the posts she apologizes for. I’m happy she posted a small post today, because she is alive and will hopefully be spending her energies more fruitfully today than they would for a big serious post on Boxing Day. And I have some new trolling or analysis to share.

    1. That time? I was sure it was This time. I must get my watch checked.

      Which reminds me of my youthful experiments with paper routes. Every Saturday would have me going downtown to deliver the payment for my papers, and the bus dropped me off in front of the bank, which had a marvelously ornate clock pedestalled out front. For weeks I would check that clock, check my wristwatch, reset my wristwatch and mutter at the way it lost track of the time over the week.

      Finally, one week I climbed down from the bus, noticed the bank’s clock, glanced at my wrist and muttered, “Dang! Bank’s clock is off.” Ever since that time I have been a far happier, more contented person as I have kept to the practice of never acquiescently accepting another’s assertion I was in error.

          1. Dunno. One’s my basic watch, one’s a backup to the basic (Basic #1 is wearing a bit), and the dress watch cost $10.00 on clearance. IIRC, it’s less than $50 for all three.

              1. Hmm, maybe snaffle would help. Basic #1 tends to forget the day of the week when the first of the month rolls around. Understandable in January, but confusing the rest of the time. It needs some reining in.

  2. Anyway, the conventional model of the Dems on immigration is that they are afraid to eat the electoral costs of overinvesting in some crazy racial theories, and have hit upon importing voters as the way to offset that.

    It is looking more and more probable that the Chinese have suborned some people inside the Democratic leadership. The Chinese have been screwing around with the US in ways that possibly suggest end game thinking. NBC counter-proliferation and deterrence in general seems to be breaking down, which suggests that all three might be used in future wars. The US still has substantial nuclear potential that might be used in serious need if the risk were minimal. The Chinese don’t necessarily have the delivery capacity for their nuclear and chemical weapons to deter our nuclear weapons. If their agents can tie the president’s hands on immigration, it preserves Chinese delivery capacity for biological weapons.

    1. LOTS of countries (and foreign ideologies) have suborned almost every politician in the Democratic party.
      FIFY

          1. High relative velocities would make even small shot deadly damaging, and rifling would provide scant benefit in an airless environment.

            That doesn’t solve the issue of time on target and the need to fire a week before you expect the shot to arrive, but nobody asked about that.

            1. A musket (or rifle) wouldn’t fire in an airless environment at all, though. No oxygen to react with the powder. Unless you put your musket in its own spacesuit, but then you’d only get one shot before having to re-suit it.

              1. Eh? The oxidizer is already part of the powder. Depending on the powder type, it could be nitrocellulose or nitroglycerine. The Oxygen is in the “nitro”.

                1. This is the key to understanding the utility of that .45 pistol included among the twenty-five items you have yo rank-order in the famous “stranded on Luna” exercise. Everybody assumes the powder won’t burn and when you try to explain it (having done the exercise before) nobody believes you, resulting in you getting a personal score greater than the team score in spite of the exercise designers’ intentions of proving diversity improves results.

                  Maybe if that diversity includes a chemist it does.

                  1. Maybe. OTOH, You could still use a magnifying glass to focus the sun’s rays into the touchhole to ignite the powder, or heat up a needle and then shove the needle into the hole to do the same.

                1. The explosive bolts that connected the halves of the various Lunar landers were filled with black powder.

                  For a technology that has been theoretically obsolete for well over a century, it has traveled far.

              2. Everyone caught that already, but yes, that’s a common misconception. Otherwise, blackpowder mines, torpedoes, etc wouldn’t work…

              3. > No oxygen to react with the powder.

                In “traditional” gun powder that is what the saltpeter is.

            2. I think the rifling would give some useful stability; a round hitting sideways isn’t going to be quite so predictable as one with the pointy end forward.

              (Remembers shooting a .38-55 with undersized cast bullets. Every one was sideways…)

              1. Musket balls hitting sideways? I now rifling adds aerodynamic stability but will that gyroscopic effect matter in airless environment?

                Maybe with enough handwavium the argument that musket balls would impact people in spacesuits with sufficient kinetic energy to matter but would lack the ability to pierce hulls? Space combat with battle-axes and flintlocks? Avast, me hearties, prepare for boarding!

                1. Yeah, for balls, wouldn’t think rifling would do much, but a Minie or cast bullet would be a bit less sensitive to offbalance thrusts as it exited the muzzle. (Hmm, can we work this into a bit on hunting space dragons? 🙂 )

                  1. Space dragons move very quickly; it’s probably best to slip one a mickey before potting it with a minie, else you’re likely to look awfully goofy.

                  2. Cast lead musket balls are darned uneven, so even spin stabilized (via rifling) they’re not as good a minie. The other thing is for rifling to have any effect the ball has to fit tightly which makes it a pain to load and expensive as the cast for the ball must be made to order and unique to the rifle. The minie with its conical base expands to engage the lands and can be mass manufactured. One weird side fact how do you mass manufacture precise spherical lead objects in the 18th and 19th centuries. Run molten lead through a grate with precise holes and a plate that interrupts the flow. This is placed at the top of a large (200′ +) tower with a pool at the bottom as the lead droplets fall they shape to near perfect spheres and harden and the water finishes the hardening. Don’t believe it? Look here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Shot_Tower . It’s either the most ingenious or most insane construct I’ve ever heard of.

                  1. In space most of the drawbacks of instability don’t exist–I don’t know if gyroscopic precession is even a thing without air or friction to cause it, and it doesn’t matter if a cylindrical bullet goes sideways since there’s no air for that to push off course.

                    All you’re correcting for *possibly* is density differentials in the projectile, and I’m not sure that’s a big enough thing to matter.

                    1. If you’re shooting anything other than round balls, you might want it spin stabilized so the pointy end, or the detonator contact, hits first.

            1. It depends on the strength of the ray and on the speed of the musket ball.

              On the other hand, the problem with muskets is “how long does it take to reload”.

              On the Gripping Hand, light-sabers are cool. 😀

              1. It also depends on the (relative) speed of the hull it’s impacting. Space battles will seldom be static endeavors, and putting a few ounces of high-velocity lead in the path of a ship might have significant impact – compared to a side shot, or a tail-chase.

                  1. That might depend on the target. Somewhere in my Apollo history stash was a comment that during assembly, dropping a screwdriver was A Bad Thing; the sheathing was thin enough that said pointy bit could pierce it.

                    One could envision a small anti-satellite unit that fires shotgun rounds.

                    1. “As you know, John, the formula for Force is Mass times Velocity, so even a small musket ball, weighing perhaps thirty grams, could strike an oncoming spaceship with enough force to do serious damage at relative velocities near the Speed of Light!”

                      “I understand that, Steve, but as you know, time in transit makes anything like accuracy over the involved distances impossible. My greater concern is that musket muzzle velocity is largely irrelevant at space battle distances, and the real issue is whether it would be sufficient to prevent the ship’s mass from attracting the minie ball back toward the firing ship, causing self-inflicted wounds?”

                    2. I was thinking more about “if you’re going to take out a spaceship, you’re not going to use a man with a gun to do so”.

                      Of course, since satellites have a fixed orbit and may not be able to “change position to generate a miss”, then a man with a gun would have an easier job taking a satellite out.

                      In one of his books, Pournelle had a man on a planet’s surface take out an observation/spy satellite by using a special mortar that shot “pellets” into the orbital path of the satellite. While the pellets would have returned to the planet’s surface eventually, they remained in the “path” of the satellite long enough for the satellite to be destroyed by at least one of the pellets. 😀

                  2. Read “Protector”, by Larry Niven, for an example of a hypothetical use of a personal use weapon against spaceships. Of course that was used in a tight turn around a neutron star where the hyperkinetic velocities were, astronomical. I don’t remember if it was the bullet striking the Pak ships that destroyed them, or the bullets impacting the star and the generated radiation that destroyed the ships. I’d have to venture up into the attic and root around in some boxes to find it.

                    1. It is the radiation and the ejecta created by the bullet strike that takes out the PAK scouts, or at least the lead element of the 2 ramship pair. Love that story, always wanted to try to write a combat simulator for ramships or other vehicles working at relativistic velocities. Looked at it once 25+ years ago and realized that the math for the orbital mechanics alone gave me a migraine let alone trying to add the relativistic effects. Folks at the MIT media lab did a relativistic first person shooter long ago http://gamelab.mit.edu/games/a-slower-speed-of-light/

            1. PEW! PEW! Man (pardon me sentient ) portable lasers are one of those things that seem really cool until you start to think of power requirements and things get dicey without portable fusion batteries or magical Battacitors.

              1. No one ever writes about the horrible accidents that occurred during development of blasters and portable ray-guns. It’s probably less entertaining than the “Disasters in Applied Chemistry” that is the history of rocket propellants.

              2. I had in one SF universe (unwritten), things called “Force Blades” (Basically light-sabers) and had the same problem of power as hand-carried laser weapons,

                The best “hand-waving” that I came up with was “beamed power”.

                Of course, there was the problem of “how do you use the Force Blades far from the nearest generator?” 😈

              3. Nonsense, James – just plug them into the auxiliary jack of your photo-voltaic sports car.

                The future Future is ever so much simpler if you don’t use math.

  3. I have been hoping see what happens when it becomes impossible for the various sides of my beloved characters in Goldport to continue to hide their true nature from each other.

    Poor Ben quivering, left wrapped ‘mummified’ on the sofa … Sigh! (I expect that E will already know what is what, and simply hasn’t see any reason to mention anything.)

        1. Thank you, and please accept my apologies.

          Sometimes, my severe colorblindness makes me miss links if they are not directly next to a contrasting color, as in this case.

          I just hated the thought of an author whose work I enjoy missing out on sales because of a “missing” link.

          I’m glad to see it’s my eyes, not your site.

      1. Me envisions Sarah writing a story about a genegineered Annette, with swords, vampires, and singing. And maybe a beach scene – in outer space.

        1. Don’t know about Anti submarine, but anti ship (early 19th century Napoleonic era ship) is a large part of the Temeraire Series, Basically Aubrey-Maturin/ Hornblower with dragons (kind of).

  4. Hmm… Space Opera Mystery? I read that and imagined Scooby Doo in space, with a little bit of The Young and the Restless mixed in for… you know… all that awesome “(character who’s turn it is this week) hasn’t been dead, he/she/it has just been in a coma and now has amnesia!”

    1. You realize that if Scooby Doo had an ounce of courage, most of the fake monsters would have been defeated within five minutes. 😈

        1. They’d just find another reason to “run around the set”.

          After all, most of the episodes have them just running around. 😈

        1. Yeah, shouldn’t be Mars. Put him on one of the moons of Uranus so he can complain about how they’re named. 🙂

      1. Jupiter. Then you can see what that many moons does to werewolfery. Or at least baffle the heck out of the characters who expect it have some effect, because they watched too many movies.

        1. The space might not be modifying the horse. The space and the horse might both be modifying the opera.

          I slept well last night. My thinking may be less nuts than it was yesterday.

  5. > It was startling to be cut loose, but also incredibly freeing.

    I got the word in Mid December that my last day on this contract would be 18 Jan.

    Going to be a little nerve racking until new revenue sources are developed, but yeah.

    1. Somehow I now picture many authors/writers at the end of the runway, running up the engine, checking the mags… and really hoping that the flight will be ‘dull’ in all the good ways. Mixture full rich. Fly safe!

      1. I don’t know how big it has to be, but are you going to tell a Bolo it’s hat looks silly? Not me brother, not me… That hat looks lovely its just right :-).

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