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WEEK 36 2005

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Saturday 10 September 2005

Saturday - what the heck, this spring I read a bunch of alternate history sci-fi books.

I should list books #22 Worldwar: In The Balance, #23: Worldwar: Tilting the Balance, #24: Worldwar: Upsetting the Balance, and #25 Worldwar: Striking the Balance, all in Harry Turtledove's Worldwar series. In this series an alien race tries to invade the Earth. Expecting to find only medieval era technology, they show up at the beginning of the second world war with stupendously advanced technology - but only a limited amount of supplies. After initial successes - including the invasion of the United States and Soviet Russia, things bog down. It's all well written, if rather long. We see many of the movers and shakers of the second world war - Churchill, Roosevelt, Stalin, fighting a new and different battle. We have a cast of dozens, many of which Turtledove is happy to kill off. There is Sam Yeager, a minor league baseball player, inducted into the army fighting the Lizards on the outskirts of Chicago. There is the female scout pilot in biplane, over Siberia. The german tank officer, and the alien tank officer. There is the ongoing effort of the Americans to secretly build a nuclear bomb from scratch, that of the Russians to build one with stolen alien plutonium, and the Lizards inability to realize the importance of sea power and transport - they are a dry world species.

These four books were then followed by a series set in the 1960's - a generation later, but the same world. There are some captured 'Lizards' raised as human. There are captured humans raised as Lizards. There is an armed truce with the aliens occupying certain areas of the world. The real alien invasion fleet - the colonization fleet - is arriving, and various goings on occur, including a widespread alien drug habit based on the human herb of ginger. So #26 is Colonization: Second Contact, #27 is Colonization: Down to Earth, and #28 Colonization: Aftershocks.

There is actually another book, that I haven't read, Homeward Bound, including Sam Yeager, in which the humans build a star ship and go to visit (peacefully?) the aliens in one of their star systems.

Oddly, I only own a couple of these books. Alternate military history really isn't a favorite genre of mine, but these were well enough written that I checked them out from the library and bought a couple (used) volumes the library did not have.

Friday 9 September 2005

Friday - Phoebe is a big cat, and his perch is an average sized office chair - sometimes it falls over:

Phoebe on chair back
"Funny, this chair has shrunk since I was a kitten..."

I again Katrina-donated today, at an animal rescue place, Best Friends. Man, I wish these places would get Paypal or something, I hate putting out my credit card number on the web, even after doing a bit of a web search and finding that it is a legitimate charity.

Light posting for the next few days.

Thursday 8 September  2005

Thursday - over at the Volokh Conspiracy David Bernstein writes that the AALS 2006 meeting in New Orleans is canceled (probably). And I immediately thought of a variation on the old lawyer joke:

Q. What to you call a thousand lawyers at the bottom of the Atlantic ocean Lake New Orleans?
A. A good start.

Disclaimer: don't get me wrong, I like most of the posters at VC. I find jokes about engineers and programmers funny as well. The meaner the funnier.

In other, not so amusing news however, the remaining civilians in New Orleans, having survived winds of 100+MPH, flood, loss of power, water, fuel, phone, and sewage utilities, medical care, police and fire department abandonment, endured fires, rioters, looters and all the rest...are now to be starved out by their own mayor and governor. For their own good, of course.

In other Hurricane Katrina news, Latvia has offered help! Wow, that's great. Just imagine what Victor Von Doom can do with his amazing mutant powers (as recently showcased in the documentary Fantastic Four). He can power hospitals, probably even the whole Louisiana electrical grid. I wonder if the other...

What? I' trying to write here!

He's from Latveria, not Latvia?


Never mind. Bummer.

Hey, I didn't know Leonard Nimoy was in THEM!.

Wednesday 7 September 2005

Wednesday - why did New Orleans flood? The French are to blame, of course! Heh. [via Samizdata]

Watching the news tonight, a talking head (TH) is fishing for bad news on CNN. He is interviewing the mayor of Baton Rouge, I think, where the population has doubled lately with refugee's. First question is about the traffic. The mayor responds that it's bad, yes, but that the city engineers are redoing the traffic lights and soon there will be police and guardsmen to direct traffic at intersections to make it all good. Non-plused the TH asks if BR likes all the new population? The mayor answers back that they are happy to extend a hand to their friends and neighbors. Desperate now the TH asks about the schools - aren't the schools just too crowded? Mayor: we've set up shifts for teaching, it's under control, all the kids can get a good education...

That mayor will never get another interview. Straight to the point, positive, with a grasp of details, he is clueless as to how the game is played. Hasn't he been watching Nagin and Blanco?

Book #21 is Glen Cook's Whispering Nickel Idols, a Garrett P.I. novels. Garrett is a detective in the Travis McGhee tradition, only set in a world of sorcerers, elves, fairies, dwarves, and so on. I've enjoyed earlier books in the series, but this one stinks. The book is poorly edited - words and phrases are mixed up. The plot is slow to develop, and meanders about. The denouement, usually done in a Nero Wolfe fashion, is feeble. Cook's efforts have been getting worse and worse, sadly. That's $6.99 I wish I had back, and probably the last time I'll buy a book of his to read. It's the library - maybe - from now on.

It's too bad, his Starfishers series, and the early Black Company novels were wonderful. Earlier books showcased Cook's talent for entertaining names and titles, in a way reminiscent of Jack Vance, and had tightly knit and fairly gritty plots. This was just...blah.

I guess no one keeps their edge forever.

Tuesday 6 September 2005

Tuesday - a bit stiff and sore, but not too bad. No bicycling today, however. Back to work!

Plaque at the top of Mt. Baden Powell
Plaque at the top of Mt. Baden-Powell

Monday 5 September 2005

Monday - the HIKE!

My brother Mike and I hiked Mt. Baden-Powell. The mountain is located on the eastern end of the Angeles, just off of Highway 2. It is about a 4 mile hike one way, with a 2800' elevation gain to about 9300'. This would be Hike #81 in Trails of the Angeles.

It was a beautiful day for a walk, cool, clear, bug free, and virtually all under large shady pines. The switchbacks were well done, a bit steeper than optimum on occasion, and the trail clear and well maintained. There were a number of other people on the trail, but it was long enough that we were rarely in eye-or-ear shot of them (save at the top). Several people brought dogs - one, a basset hound, seemed to have no trouble in reaching the top!

We brought plenty of water, and a nice lunch for the top, and admired the view for an hour or so before heading back.

Sunday 4 September 2005

Sunday - not a lot to say. Just doing normal Sunday things. Doing a bit of work on making an emergency kit. The problems of the gulf coast after Katrina remind me that I never finished my kit - it has water, certainly the most important item, but little else.

I sent my review of last week's Alone Across the Atlantic into

Picture of the Week
The view east from the top of Mt. Baden Powell

Photo Notes: This is a from the top of Mt. Baden Powell, looking east. Lord Baden-Powell was, of course, the founder of the Boy Scouts.

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