Monday, October 29, 2018

One hundred years from now

I know that in this time of scandal, outrage and terrorism, a lot of us are beaten down just trying to make it through the day.  But I want you to take a moment and think about the soldiers in World War I.  One hundred years ago that war was almost, finally, coming to an end.  And those soldiers in the trenches would have been absolutely flabbergasted at a movie in color and with sound.  Just imagine what they would think of cell phones, 3D printers, and the moon landings.  Which begs the question, what normal, everyday things for the people a hundred years hence would completely blow our minds?

The point of this is that while it can be a bitch just making it through the day, at times we need to think of the future.  And not just the next year or five.  What are you doing today to make the lives of your kids and grandkids a hundred years from now better?

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Quick thoughts on the new Doctor

So the other day “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” aired marking the first episode of the Thirteenth Doctor as played by Jodie Whittaker.  Afterwards I saw many tweets and Facebooks posts about how she is now some people’s favorite Doctor.  And I found that a little … odd.  By no means am I saying she’s a terrible Doctor, it’s just that I enjoyed Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor, but it took half a season or so for me to realize that I enjoyed David Tennant’s Doctor more.  My current ranking of my favorite, new Doctors goes Tenth, War, Twelfth, Ninth, Eleventh.  I don’t know where Thirteen fits yet.

Trying to fit her in based on her first episode is, as I said, odd.  Especially since the episode itself wasn’t – in my opinion – all that special.  I mean, the Doctor is a little out of it because their regeneration is still cooking.  When have we seen that before, except in “The Christmas Invasion,” “The Eleventh Hour,” and “Deep Breath.” Give me four or five regular episodes to see the fully formed Doctor in new adventures and then I’ll start jostling her into my rankings.

One thing that does give me hope that Thirteen ranks pretty high, is that in “The Woman Who Fell to Earth” there were a few moments where I thought I saw the Twelfth Doctor shining through.  I can’t really put my finger on it, but there were a couple of lines and just the way she said them or moved made me think of Peter Capaldi.  If it wasn’t just my imagination, then we could be looking at some good Doctor Who.  Let’s hope we have the combination of a good Doctor with good writing.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

So you downloaded these gun plans from the internet?

There is currently a bit of a brouhaha over the plans for 3D printed guns.  Many fear that criminals – even terrorists – with access to a 3D printer will be able to make untraceable guns they will use to do horrible things with.  Many want these plans banned.  But in all likelihood, if you dug into the dark web far enough, various plans are already out there.  There’s no putting the genie back in the bottle; thanks to the internet, the bottle is smashed.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that many who want these plans banned are probably also anti-NRA.  Something I’ll point out to these people is that some years ago I read that the NRA was against 3D printed guns.  The reason being that if people could make their own guns, they wouldn’t have to buy them from gun manufacturers.  And if the gun manufacturers lost money, they’d have less money to give to the NRA to lobby politicians.  If responsible gun owners start making their own guns, some of these manufacturers may even go under.  It’s unlikely they’ll take the NRA with them, but without the fear of “the government taking all the guns” and a dying industry to lobby for, what will the NRA do?

Anyway, the point of this blog was to share an idea for a story I had a few years ago.  I thought it an interesting idea, but one I never got around to working on.  Which sucks because it would be perfectly topical right now.  The idea was this anti-gun group would flood the internet with plans for 3D printed guns.  Why would they do that you ask?  The plans would have defects in them.  Some might be obvious – the barrel turned around so it shoots whoever pulls the trigger – but many would have subtle defects.  Instead of blowing up in your hand the first time you shoot it, maybe every shot increases the chance of a crack forming in a critical component, eventually leading to it jamming.  With thousands of plans out there, how will people know which are the goods ones?  And if you see a glowing review for the Boomstick 4000 from TrumpJesusUSA47, how will you know if it’s a true review of an actual gun and not from someone hoping this junk gun will blow up in the face of anyone dumb enough to print it?

Downloaders beware.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Grab two ebooks for free!

This Friday marks the 49th anniversary of when humans first landed on the moon.  As someone who supports lunar exploration (last year I announced my Stephen L. Thompson Lunar Exploration Prize) I wanted to do something to mark the occasion.  Therefore, from now through Saturday, you will be able to grab my two books dealing with the moon for free.

Hopefully, in the not too distant future humans will return to the moon. We will build bases and colonies, make farms and factories, and live, love and learn. “A Cabin Under a Cloudy Sea and other stories” contains five of my short stories that are all set upon the moon. They give the tiniest glimpse of the possibilities awaiting us there.

Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.

Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be.