Saturday Snippet

This has been bugging me for several months, so here is the beginning (at least for now) of the story. It will grow, I can tell that much already. It is set in a tech level of the Eneolithic/Chalcolithic/Copper Age.

Shenora sniffed the wind. It smelled of baking bread, and people, and wet earth that should have been dry. It came from the east, from the great grassy lands between the village and the river. She waited and inhaled again, but no smoky bitter hints reached her this time. Good. Smoke on the east wind meant that evil moved on the land, this everyone knew. She hitched her load of wood higher against her hip and began walking once more. Evening would come soon, and she needed to have the fire fueled and the night’s wood in place, and to see if the pots had survived firing. She had not told Eldest Mother about using a new color on the bowl, and Eldest Mother might take it amiss if she saw it first. Continue reading

Baling Out of a Book: Technical Edition

Note: Since everyone else on the Internet is doing politics, protests, and prognostications, I’m not.

I gave up on an article earlier this week. I’d made it through four pages of increasingly technical linguistic analysis of how Tocharian related to other Indo-European languages and looking at various aspects of vocabulary comparative sound shifts to determine when it split from which other branch, and how quickly Tocharian-speakers moved east into the Tarim Basin. I enjoy the history of language, but halfway through the sixth page, I bailed out. Continue reading

Bloatware, Bad Behavior, and other Irritations: A Rant

I woke up at 0345 the other morning for two reasons. One secondary reason was nature calling. The primary reason was light coming from my office when no light should be on. I staggered into the room and found that my computer had been woken up and Apple had sent an OS update and then restarted the system, without my permission, while the Wi-fi was supposed to be off and the computer not on the internet. I was seriously p-ssed off. Seriously. Apple just finalized my decision that my next computer will NOT be one of its products. I am a very unhappy consumer who is not going to consume again unless there is a massive philosophical change in Cupertino. Continue reading

Panhandle Weather – No In-betweens

When I started learning how to fly, I did so in the southeastern US. Then I returned to Texas for holidays and summers, and got to re-learn. One of the differences was weather, but not in the sense most people think. Weather in the Southeast varies from good to pretty good to “eh, not great but workable” to “grungy but not dangerous” to poor.  Weather in the Texas Panhandle ranges from fantastic to good to “oh look, the birds have their hitch-hiking signs out as they walk towards the interstate.” There’s no moderation in the meteorology. Continue reading

Outsiders, Insiders, and Watching Europeans Steam

People who talk about how cosmopolitan Europeans are and how much more open they are to new ideas and people than Americans (usually) are can be found everywhere in the media and on-line. The ones I’ve met in person, once you “scratch the surface,” are usually referring to big-city Europeans, the residents of Amsterdam, or London, Berlin, or Stockholm or Paris, and comparing them to people from Slidell Louisiana or Rawlings Wyoming. I suspect the administrators and politicians who I refer to as Eurocrats have the same mental picture of the other 99.9% of people in England and continental Europe. And indeed, the big cities can and have absorbed a lot of different people and ideas over the years. But there are limits, and I fear that limit is fast being reached. Continue reading

The Shotgun Panel: A Pilot Gripes

In the beginning airplanes had no instruments beyond a sort of fuel gauge and the pilot’s eyes, ears, and rump. That didn’t last long, and so airspeed indicators, altimeters, oil pressure and temperature gauges, and other useful things appeared. Rate-of-climb indicators, compasses and then heading indicators (which didn’t wag as much as a whisky compass and are usually easier to read in turbulence. Usually), attitude indicators to help the pilot determine if he was still level or if his inner-ear had gotten out of kilter with the airplane, radios, landing-gear position indicators, and other gauges, lights, and read-outs soon filled the instrument panel to the brim. And it was good, but . . . non-standard.

What is now standard: the Sacred Six.

What is now standard: the Sacred Six.

Continue reading

Post Called on Account of Rain

Thunderstorms and ice, actually, and writing on a book instead of writing on the blog. I keep waiting for the first explosions as the transformers blow, even though I know perfectly well that this is NOT the Great Storm of ’07 and that people here keep the trees away from power lines and poles.

Instead, because I miss the EDS commercials:

Force Fields and Wombow Carts: Tech Mixes on Colony Worlds

Sci-fi readers are wonderful people. There are things they take in stride (so long as they fit the world) that other readers might collide with, bounce, and stare at as they wondered who put the wrong words in the blender. Spaceships unloading into a depot that also has animal-powered transportation? Why not. In many ways, depending on the nature of the world, or the type of colony and culture, high tech for big things and low tech for small things makes perfect sense. Continue reading

Am I Missing Something?

I travel a fairly busy road to get to work. Not D/FW or Atlanta busy, but there’s usually a steady flow of traffic to and fro even at 0700. So I’m rolling along the other morning and realize, “I’m the only car westbound. Really?” I start looking, and indeed, for the two-mile stretch of road that I can see, it is oh solo mio heading away from the sunrise. And I started getting concerned. Continue reading

“It was Better Back Then”

In preparation for teaching, I’ve been going back and re-reading a number of discussions about the Romantic Movement, the Victorian era in general, and the different flavors of Socialism that eventually emerged by 1914 or so. One of the themes that appears over and over is how many of those people sighed longingly, at least in print or on canvas, for the Middle Ages and the pre-Industrial world. They’re not the only ones. I’ve been reading about the original Indo-Europeans and their migration into eastern Europe, and one of the major academic wars came about in part because an early and prominent writer and popularizer painted the pre-Indo-European world as one of egalitarian farmers who lived in what appeared to be a matriarchy without evidence of warfare and then the patriarchal, nomadic, horse-riding steppe people arrived and destroyed it all. With a strong implication of “it was so much better back then . . .” And MZB’s The Mists of Avalon did something similar, but around AD 500 and at the other end of Europe. Except . . . Except . . . they don’t want the real past. Continue reading