*Sigh*. The younger generation. So sophisticated, so jaded, so intelligent and so very unappreciative of the influence of space opera on modern science-fiction.
The current Star Trek fan fiction project, Of Gods and Men, is directed by Tim Russ of Voyager fame and written by Jack Trevino and Ethan H. Calk. The film employs a bevy of former Trek actors and actresses who graced both television and movie versions of the franchise over the past forty years.
According to io9.com however, Star Trek should be relegated to “Retro Cheese” status:
Skip J.J. Abrams’ new Star Trek movie, and watch this fan-made film instead. Both films will consist of pathetic tributes to a dead franchise. The only difference? The fan film Of Gods And Men will be way more fun because it’s not even trying to be taken seriously, judging from this trailer. But Of Gods And Men, with its huge cast of veteran Trek actors, is also just more proof that Star Trek is only good for nostalgia.
It’s sad to see so many old Trek actors whoring themselves out for fan projects. This one is the motherlode: you get to see Tuvok from Voyager give Uhura from the original series a mind meld. Walter Koenig is back as Chekhov, and original series actors Grace Lee Whitney and Lawrence Montaigne also reprise their minor roles from 40 years ago. And some guy who played a captain in one of the movies plays that role again. The actors who played Harry Kim, Neelix, Captain Sisko’s son and a bunch of other supporting roles turn up playing new characters. You can literally sit there and play spot-that-obscure-Trek-actor.
A bit harsh I would say. So what if these people want to reprise their old Star Trek roles? There’s no money in it for them. If anything, it’s probably costing them potential income because it’s taking time away from paying work. And even if one goes by the premise that these guys are washed up, big deal. If they can afford to donate time for what amounts to a labor of love, more power to them! There’s still plenty of people out here in sci-fi fandom who love and appreciate campy space opera!
Here’s the YouTube trailer for Star Trek: Of Gods and Men. It looks more watchable than other stuff I’ve seen over the years.
Somewhere, E.E. “Doc” Smith, along with Gene Roddenberry are smiling and watching while eating some of Smith’s doughnuts!
Hat tip to Posthuman Blues
Next year, we will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, and the 150th of the publication of his On The Origin of Species, which revolutionised our understanding of biology.
For 700 years, the international language of science was Arabic
In the Book of Animals, abu Uthman al-Jahith (781-869), an intellectual of East African descent, was the first to speculate on the influence of the environment on species. He wrote: “Animals engage in a struggle for existence; for resources, to avoid being eaten and to breed. Environmental factors influence organisms to develop new characteristics to ensure survival, thus transforming into new species. Animals that survive to breed can pass on their successful characteristics to offspring.”
There is no doubt that it qualifies as a theory of natural selection – even though the Book of Animals appears to have been based to a large extent on folklore rather than on zoological fact.
Since the fall of the Ottoman Empire after WWI, Islamic nations have been embroiled in civil wars, exploited by Western nations, become havens for criminals, terrorists, become a whipping boy for “The Clash of Cultures” and ruled by opportunistic, despotic rulers who could really give a crap about their own people. Not to mention the current unforgivable genocide that is happening in the old center of learning in the Muslim world, Baghdad.
The current Muslim leadership don’t help their cause by vilifying science, failing to adapt to the timeline in which they live and enforcing extreme Shariah Laws that “abuse” women in the world’s perception. So it’s easy to forget that the Baghdad Abbasid Empire during Western Europe’s Dark Age was a guardian of Greek / Roman science and a mighty intellectual center.
Maybe if the people of Islam brushed up on their history a bit, the NWO elite wouldn’t be able to fool and use them quite so handily.
Today the asteroid TU24 has its closest approach to Earth, which is 334,000 miles. Tomorrow, Mars has a close encounter with its own asteroid (link). What are the chances of two planets that are very important to the human race have a potential risk to its existence in such close proximity?
Much tinfoil and conspiracy theory has been spun concerning these events, but in fact, these events might be common (link). We’re just more aware of them now because we have good evidence that an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs (link) and we’re not too keen about the same thing happening to us. Except for the politicians, who obviously think that ignoring the problem ( or are they? ) will make it go away. Probably because they already have safe havens underground to save theirs’ and their families hides in case of an Extinction Level Event (link). If it weren’t for college astronomers, we would know next to nothing about this (link).
So what’s my rant? My beef is that serious asteroid detection is purposely underfunded (link) in order to feed the voracious military-industrial-congressional-complex that provide the politicos with lucre and other goodies. I could go into the nuclear shell game (link) currently being played by these traitorous assholes, but that isn’t what this post is about.
Believe me when I say that the NWO has its bases covered more ways than Sunday!
Possible paths of WD5: Mars
Those of us who sail catamarans tend to hold a prejudicial belief that “two hulls (like two heads) are better than one”. Apparently, Burt Rutan and the Scaled Composites team think so as well.
But when Space Ship Two / White Knight Two made its debut appearance this week, there was something even more enticing about it. Like the wind driving Humanity’s future in space was about to shift. We began to see how the rest of us might tack our way into the black sky for more than just 6 or 7 minutes of floating fun.
And, for some of my aeronautically knowledgeable friends, it was deja vu all over again. Like: “where have we seen this before?” It was downright ghostly:
Take a look at this design – circa 1979 or so – from the Russian Myasishchev Design Bureau as modeled by aerospace scholar Alex Panchenko:
It’s an extreme makeover of the Russian Air Force’s 3M bomber (aka the “Bison”) which had been in service since 1955. [Anyone who knows more about this, please reply with comments: below.] The plan was to drop a rocket-boosted vehicle, “X-15 style”, in the upper atmosphere – at subsonic but significant velocity – which would then light its candle and transit out of the atmosphere. In other words, a Virgin Galactic lift ticket.
Branson with SpaceShipTwo / WhiteKnight Two
Hey, why not? NASA is reusing old Apollo technology for its Constellation project, why can’t Rutan “borrow” from a previous design. The Russians are proven aerospace engineers, the venerable Soyuz rockets are fifty years old and still going strong. If Rutan was given a deadline by Branson for a workable design within a couple of years, I’m sure Burt did alot of research. Branson didn’t become a billionaire by waiting around.
For autocrats, a world embedded with a constellation of ubiquitous RFID sensors would be ideal. “A Panopticon Singularity is the logical outcome if the burgeoning technologies of the singularity are funneled into automating law enforcement,” writes Charlie Stross. “Previous police states were limited by manpower, but the panopticon singularity substitutes technology, and ultimately replaces human conscience with a brilliant but merciless prosthesis.”
As Stross notes, the state will use this technology to go after the malcontents and troublemakers, but they will also use it against pedestrian criminals, those minus political persuasion:
If a panopticon singularity emerges, you’d be well advised to stay away from Massachusetts if you and your partner aren’t married. Don’t think about smoking a joint unless you want to see the inside of one of the labor camps where over 50% of the population sooner or later go. Don’t jaywalk, chew gum in public, smoke, exceed the speed limit, stand in front of fire exit routes, or wear clothing that violates the city dress code (passed on the nod in 1892, and never repealed because everybody knew nobody would enforce it and it would take up valuable legislative time). You won’t be able to watch those old DVD’s of ‘Friends’ you copied during the naughty oughties because if you stick them in your player it’ll call the copyright police on you. You’d better not spend too much time at the bar, or your insurance premiums will rocket and your boss might ask you to undergo therapy. You might be able to read a library book or play a round of a computer game, but your computer will be counting the words you read and monitoring your pulse so that it can bill you for the excitement it has delivered.
Charlie Stross is one of my favorite modern day science-fiction authors. He is British and he sees the emerging police/surveillance state taking hold there with astonishing speed. I think what amazes him more than anything is the citizenry of the U.K. embracing this technology whole-heartedly. They simply don’t care that their government spies and monitors them 24/7. And of course, he sees the same thing occurring all over the world, the U.S. especially.
In Stross’ article, The Panopticon Singularity, he foresees the outcome of burgeoning surveillance tech and the extremes that might happen.
In the grand, sweeping stroke of sci-fi grandeur and the beginnings of space opera, no name stands out like Edward Elmer (E.E. “Doc”) Smith Ph.D. Smith was of all things, a chemical engineer who worked for various companies that produced donuts. Hardly a profession that would inspire great space opera one can surmise, but stranger things have happened.
Smith’s greatest works were two series; The Skylark of Space and Lensman. The writing is considered campy and what science there is, is seriously dated. The thing to remember in this instance is not how accurate the science may or may not have been, but the way the narrative is woven by Smith. Also Smith had written the stories so that they were a series, a first in of itself. Skylarks’ and Lensmans’ obvious descendents are works such as Asimov’s Foundation Series, Niven’s Known Space, Star Trek, Star Wars, even Banks’ Culture and Reynolds’ Revelation Space novels.
Smith’s first work was The Skylark of Space. That story was written in partnership with a Mrs. Lee Hawkins Garby, a classmate of his in college. They started it in 1916 and Smith finished it in 1920. But he had various rejections from many pulp mags until 1927 when Amazing Stories accepted it. From there the rest is sci-fi history.
The Skylark of Space by E.E. “Doc” Smith PhD. and Lee Hawkins Garby
The Occurrence of the Impossible
Petrified with astonishment, Richard Seaton stared after the copper
steam-bath upon which he had been electrolyzing his solution of “X,” the
unknown metal. For as soon as he had removed the beaker the heavy bath
had jumped endwise from under his hand as though it were alive. It had
flown with terrific speed over the table, smashing apparatus and bottles
of chemicals on its way, and was even now disappearing through the open
window. He seized his prism binoculars and focused them upon the flying
vessel, a speck in the distance. Through the glass he saw that it did
not fall to the ground, but continued on in a straight line, only its
rapidly diminishing size showing the enormous velocity with which it was
moving. It grew smaller and smaller, and in a few moments disappeared
utterly. The chemist turned as though in a trance. How was this? The copper bath
he had used for months was gone–gone like a shot, with nothing to make
it go. Nothing, that is, except an electric cell and a few drops of the
unknown solution. He looked at the empty space where it had stood, at
the broken glass covering his laboratory table, and again stared out of
the window.He was aroused from his stunned inaction by the entrance of his colored
laboratory helper, and silently motioned him to clean up the wreckage.“What’s happened, Doctah?” asked the dusky assistant.
“Search me, Dan. I wish I knew, myself,” responded Seaton, absently,
lost in wonder at the incredible phenomenon of which he had just been a
Ferdinand Scott, a chemist employed in the next room, entered breezily.
“Hello, Dicky, thought I heard a racket in here,” the newcomer remarked.
Then he saw the helper busily mopping up the reeking mass of chemicals.
“Great balls of fire!” he exclaimed. “What’ve you been celebrating? Had
an explosion? How, what, and why?”
“I can tell you the ‘what,’ and part of the ‘how’,” Seaton replied
thoughtfully, “but as to the ‘why,’ I am completely in the dark. Here’s
all I know about it,” and in a few words he related the foregoing
incident. Scott’s face showed in turn interest, amazement, and pitying
alarm. He took Seaton by the arm.
“Dick, old top, I never knew you to drink or dope, but this stuff sure
came out of either a bottle or a needle. Did you see a pink serpent
carrying it away? Take my advice, old son, if you want to stay in Uncle
Sam’s service, and lay off the stuff, whatever it is. It’s bad enough to
come down here so far gone that you wreck most of your apparatus and
lose the rest of it, but to pull a yarn like that is going too far. The
Chief will have to ask for your resignation, sure. Why don’t you take a
couple of days of your leave and straighten up?”
Seaton paid no attention to him, and Scott returned to his own
laboratory, shaking his head sadly.
Seaton, with his mind in a whirl, walked slowly to his desk, picked up
his blackened and battered briar pipe, and sat down to study out what he
had done, or what could possibly have happened, to result in such an
unbelievable infraction of all the laws of mechanics and gravitation. He
knew that he was sober and sane, that the thing had actually happened.
But why? And how? All his scientific training told him that it was
impossible. It was unthinkable that an inert mass of metal should fly
off into space without any applied force. Since it had actually
happened, there must have been applied an enormous and hitherto unknown
force. What was that force? The reason for this unbelievable
manifestation of energy was certainly somewhere in the solution, the
electrolytic cell, or the steam-bath. Concentrating all the power of his
highly-trained analytical mind upon the problem–deaf and blind to
everything else, as was his wont when deeply interested–he sat
motionless, with his forgotten pipe clenched between his teeth. Hour
after hour he sat there, while most of his fellow-chemists finished the
day’s work and left the building and the room slowly darkened with the
coming of night.
Finally he jumped up. Crashing his hand down upon the desk, he
“I have liberated the intra-atomic energy of copper! Copper, ‘X,’ and
“I’m sure a fool for luck!” he continued as a new thought struck him.
“Suppose it had been liberated all at once? Probably blown the whole
world off its hinges. But it wasn’t: it was given off slowly and in a
straight line. Wonder why? Talk about power! Infinite! Believe me, I’ll
show this whole Bureau of Chemistry something to make their eyes stick
out, tomorrow. If they won’t let me go ahead and develop it, I’ll
resign, hunt up some more ‘X’, and do it myself. That bath is on its way
to the moon right now, and there’s no reason why I can’t follow it.
Martin’s such a fanatic on exploration, he’ll fall all over himself to
build us any kind of a craft we’ll need … we’ll explore the whole
solar system! Great Cat, what a chance! A fool for luck is right!”
He came to himself with a start. He switched on the lights and saw that
it was ten o’clock. Simultaneously he recalled that he was to have had
dinner with his fiancée at her home, their first dinner since their
engagement. Cursing himself for an idiot he hastily left the building,
and soon his motorcycle was tearing up Connecticut Avenue toward his
I tried my best to find a free download, but there are none available.
Dr Hamilton Smith, who was part of the Science study, said the team regarded its lab-made genome – a laboratory copy of the DNA used by the bacterium Mycoplasma genitalium – as a step towards synthetic, rather than artificial, life. He told BBC News: “We like to distinguish synthetic life from artificial life. “With synthetic life, we’re re-designing the cell chromosomes; we’re not creating a whole new artificial life system.”
IMHO it’s not going to matter in the public perception, most people believe synthetic and artificial mean the same thing. Semantics aren’t going to matter when the Frankenstein Monster syndrome takes hold.
“In the interest of public awareness, Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs realized an error was made regarding the reported training activity of military aircraft. Ten F-16s from the 457th Fighter Squadron were performing training operations from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday January 8, 2008, in the Brownwood Military Operating Area (MOA), which includes the airspace above Erath County.”
Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the former Carswell Field, blamed the erroneous release on “an internal communications error.”
To UFO, or not UFO, that is the question. If anybody at all still believes the Air Force has any credibility concerning the phenomenon, they might as well go back under the rock they’ve been living under for the past 60 years and turn their TV back on.
Italy at Night
Courtesy of Dark Roasted Blend
Courtesy of The Thunderchild
Yeah, I’ve been accused of this sin many times! (Being a space cadet that is!)
Brisbane physical and chemical sciences PhD student Rosemary Goodall used an infrared analysis technique, FTIR-ATR spectral imaging, never before applied in archeology.It revealed a map of the painted surfaces of stucco masks that adorn the corners of the Rosalila temple, built in about AD550.Mrs Goodall found that the Mayans mixed finely ground muscovite mica in their paint, which would have made parts of the building glitter in the sun.But visualising the buildings is only part of the brief for the former oil industry chemist, who is completing her doctorate jointly at the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology.”We need an idea of the paint technology and techniques and how the people were doing these things,” Mrs Goodall said.
Having temples and other public buildings glitter in the Sun only enhanced the citys’ king’s power and charisma. Mayan rulers were master showmen.
The study’s indicators predict that China will soon pass the United States in the critical ability to develop basic science and technology, turn those developments into products and services – and then market them to the world. Though China is often seen as just a low-cost producer of manufactured goods, the new “High Tech Indicators” study done by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology clearly shows that the Asian powerhouse has much bigger aspirations.
“For the first time in nearly a century, we see leadership in basic research and the economic ability to pursue the benefits of that research – to create and market products based on research – in more than one place on the planet,” said Nils Newman, co-author of the National Science Foundation-supported study. “Since World War II, the United States has been the main driver of the global economy. Now we have a situation in which technology products are going to be appearing in the marketplace that were not developed or commercialized here. We won’t have had any involvement with them and may not even know they are coming.”
I wonder how the Project For A New American Century crowd feels about this? Probably they haven’t even noticed. Perle, Feith, Wolfowitz, Kagan, et al., create their own realities.
Israel has been hit in recent years by thousands and thousands of rockets, mortar shells, and missiles. And that could be just a preview of the onslaught Iran may one day unleash. So Israeli military leaders have begun early planning for a new, robotic defense system, armed with enough artificial intelligence that it “could take over completely” from flesh-and-blood operators. “It will be designed for… autonomous operations,’ Brig. Gen. Daniel Milo, commander of Israel’s air defense forces, tells Defense News‘ Barbara Opall-Rome. And in the event of a “doomsday” strike, Opall-Rome notes, the system could handle “attacks that exceed physiological limits of human command.”How do you say “Skynet” in Hebrew, again?
Heh, probably in the same mouth they say “shalom”.
Russia Eyes Replacement Spaceport For Baikonur
Russia, whose space programme relies heavily on a base in neighbouring Kazakhstan, is to build its own launch site for manned flights by 2018, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying Wednesday.
The new Vostochny base in the Amur region of southeast Russia, bordering China, will be an alternative to the Baikonur base, a Soviet-built facility that Russia now leases from Kazakhstan.To use a military term, we will open a ‘second front,'” Ivanov said, Russian news agencies RIA Novosti and Interfax reported.By 2016 the new cosmodrome should be ready for rocket launches of any type and by 2018 it is planned that we will also be able to make manned flights from there,” Ivanov said.
*Sigh*. An end of an era. The Baikonur Cosmodrome saw the beginning of Sputnik, manned space flight (Yuri Gagarin), the Space Race, the first female cosmonaut launched, all of that cool Cold War stuff! Oh well, all good things must come to an end. *sniff*
Unbelievable — What Are the Odds of This Happening?
Life can sometimes produce fascinating, extraordinary coincidences. Here are a few of the most amazing ones:
- In 1975, a man riding a moped in Bermuda was accidentally struck and killed by a taxi. One year later, the man’s brother, riding the very same moped, was killed in the very same way by the very same taxi driven by the very same driver — and carrying the very same passenger.
- Twin brothers Jim Lewis and Jim Springer were separated at birth and adopted by different families. Unknown to each other, both were named James, both owned a dog named Toy, both married women named Linda, both had a son they names James Alan, and both eventually divorced and got remarried to a woman named Betty.
- Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and John Adams helped to edit and hone it. The Continental Congress approved the document on July 4, 1776. Both Jefferson and Adams died on July 4, 1826 — exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- A German mother who photographed her infant son in 1914 left the film to be developed at a store in Strasbourg, but was unable to collect the film picture when World War I broke out. Two years later she bought a film plate in Frankfurt, over 100 miles away, and took a picture of her newborn daughter — only to find, when developed, the picture of her daughter superimposed on the earlier picture of her son. The original film, never developed, had been mistakenly labeled as unused and resold.
- In 1858, Robert Fallon was shot dead by fellow poker players who accused him of cheating to win a $600 pot. None of the other players were willing to take the now unlucky $600, so they found a new player to take Fallon’s place, who turned the $600 into $2,200 in winnings. At that point, the police arrived and demanded that the original $600 be given to Fallon’s next of kin — only to discover that the new player was Fallon’s son, who had not seen his father in seven years.
Coincidence? Weird stuff.
Second Life cracks down on virtual world banking
Second Life operator Linden Lab of San Francisco now bans members from offering interest or any direct return on cash investments unless they have real-world proof they are a legitimate financial institution. Since an in-world bank called Ginko Financial collapsed in August of last year Second Life has been bombarded with complaints about such operations breaking promises of wildly high annual rates of return.The situation posed legal hazards and threatened to destabilize the Second Life economy, has its own currency, called Lindens, which can be earned in-world or bought with real-world cash, according to Linden Lab. “We’re implementing this policy after reviewing resident complaints, banking activities, and the law, and we’re doing it to protect our residents and the integrity of our economy,” Second Life said a website posting.“Usually, we don’t step in the middle of resident-to-resident conduct — letting residents decide how to act, live, or play in Second Life,” the company said.
Hmmm, I wonder if the Linden Labs honchos read Charlie Stross’ Halting State?