Archive | February, 2009


28 Feb

>From the Irving Berlin/H. P. Lovecraft musical:

Found at Weird Universe.

P.S.: Channel 4 in the UK has rebooted Max Headroom to warn of impending digital doom switchover. Can’t keep a good brain download quiescent, I guess. Or Max, either. Brain in a can, anyone? Howard? Matt?


>Poor Old Tom Cat

28 Feb

>He’s twenty, which is about the same as 99 for you or me. He moves pretty slowly but he gets around. And, as happens with age, his digestion bothers him. Right now he poor old guy is so stopped up he is overtaken by the need to strain every few minutes, no matter where he is.

Oh, he gets fiber; he gets only canned cat food and a bit of oil, too. But he still gets stopped up. He is quite mortified by it, as tomcats often are. And he’s had worse episodes.

I got out the cat-carrier, figuring in there he won’t absent-mindedly stop, strain and wet all over the floor. Tommy Cat took one look at the carrier…and hopped right in. Maybe he’s hoping for a trip to the cat-doctor. …Sadly, I can’t really afford the rates the 24-hour vet charges right now and my own recent health problems have left me with scant energy for the drive. Hoping to take him to the regular vet tomorrow if his problem hasn’t, er, moved by then.

>No Big Post This Morning

27 Feb

>No time. About a third of the way through what may be the thrilling conclusion to “A Short Hop,” but not far enough along to post it. Come back this evening!

>One-Term President

26 Feb

>It appears that Eric Holder (remember how all us bloggers fretted over him?) is bound and determined to ensure President Obama will be a one-term President: he says the administration plans to bring back the Assault Weapons Ban. Cle-ver. And as subtle as a hammer.

Update: I note Mr. Holder makes sure to mention “hand grenades and automatic weapons,” things which are not “assault weapons” as previously defined. As far as I am aware, hand grenades are a just plain old no-go under Federal law — and full-auto weapons are severely restricted; no new ones have been available for civilian ownership since ’86 and Uncle Sam keeps a loving eye on the ones still in private hands. Another AWB will not solve the non-existent problem of American machine guns and hand grenades going to Mexican druglords. If they’re buyin’ ordinary guns (through straw purchases), I know exactly how to stop that: better border control. I’m sure our dear friends in the Mexican government will rush to help…. /Update

…Speaking of “subtle as a hammer,” I note with some irked amusement the lefty blogger who fell over, read some of the Usual Blather, and decided any talk of “voting from the rooftops,” the Second Amendment as a check on government overreaching, and “the soap box, ballot box, jury box and cartridge box” simply must be calls to take out the Chief Executive.*

Nope, not. Look, I don’t like the guy’s politics and I like his pals — heavy-handed tools like Attorney General Holder, for example — even less. But I wanna see ’em voted out, I wanna see ’em sent home to muse upon their errors and failure. While there will always be loonies out there, the Freepers are no more dangerous than their opposite numbers over at Democratic Underground — possibly less so, as they’re a bit more hard-headed in their grasp of the reality of jails and police pursuit.

And the reality is, 99.9999999% of Americans disapprove of shootin’ politicians, especially Presidents. …Not to mention that in our system of government, it makes very little change. Some ijit tries to take out the Prez and I get wind of it, I’ll stop him by any means necessary; I don’t have to approve of a man’s politics to wanna preserve his life. And, lefties? –That’s not an unusual sentiment.

(Okay, I still think pretty much all of Congress could be tried and convicted for conspiracy to violate the civil rights of citizens under color of law; and I admit to thinkin’ that ought to be a capital offense. But they won’t be, it isn’t and that’s what we’re stuck with).

…I’ll get back to the doings aboard the starship Lupine later on.
* I was also bemused by a commenter describing the NY Post “chimp” cartoon as racist — yet somehow ignoring A) eight years of chimp cartoons lampooning President Bush and B) President Obama did not, in fact, write the stimulus bill. It’s a contact sport, kiddo, get over it.

>I’d Post About Politics

25 Feb

>…But I’m not impressed with what I’m seeing these days; the permitted debate is more over exactly how we want our socialism served up and if we want fries with that than any real issues — and it ignores a very real divide in public opinion.

Leading up to the presidential election, public opinion was overwhelmingly opposed to bailing out lenders, so much so it crashed the phone system serving Congressional offices. Didn’t make any difference. The same thing happened with automakers begging for a bailout and the porkulous bill — and received little coverage and made no difference.

Oh, the two parties continue to spit and spat and the GOP is back to playing, with adequate skill, a dog in the Congressional manger; but I believe the issues that divide Washington are not the issues that divide public opinion. While the blinkered faithful remain content to be led by posturing politicos and an increasingly lazy media, more and more citizens are finding their voices are not heard. It is a trend that, if it goes on long enough, could lead to another realignment in the party system. It has happened before. Could it be about to happen again? I don’t know.

>A Short Hop, Part 4

24 Feb

>The pause that followed was….gravid. Electric. I had made my mind up to head back to the shop and even in the process of unbuckling and standing, I heard the Third Officer’s inhalation, “…”

–Interrupted by Big Tom’s voice over the ‘comm, “Your number five monitor, EVA, on her way to S8.” Saved by the intercom!

“Oh! Okay. Emily? Just get Ess Eight shut off and get back to the safepoint. I’ll give you a count from, um, two and a half, mark.”

…At the three-minute mark, by my wristwatch. I’m a sucker for drama; I sat back down. Hull-crawling is not my strongest skill; if I’m in vacuum, I’m working around the ‘Drive mast and ion engines, mother-henning riggers who think they’re baby-sitting me. Even to do that much, you have to have had the classes on what’s where, especially airlocks, safepoints and landmarks. The dear ol’ Lupine is, after all, larger than some counties; suited up, with a radio, plenty of air and the safety lines secure, there are still plenty of ways to die on the hull, inches away from air and light and people inside, if you don’t know what you’re about. The graywater plant and the fat pipes that feed it is a landmark (if you’ll pardon the term!) because there are safepoints all around it. The thing’s one of many retrofits, installed with E&PP’s typical dour pessimism. Cutting to the chase, Em couldn’t have far to go.

Russ spoke up, “Load preset five-A, Navs; that’ll buy us another half-minute. I’m going to need quiet on the bridge from here on out, even if your hair is on fire if it’s not on task it can wait.”

EVA: “Two minutes, Em. –I think she nodded, Russ. Em? Remember, big gestures.”

“Two-and-half away, on vector and tracking. We will go with five-alpha; give me six, six-baker and ummm, 8 on my C, D and E; set up B for a full abort. DQ, Insystem Drive, you copy? Might get a little busy.”

“DQ aye.”

“Wha–? Guh, In-Sys, okay.” Oh, that Jonny Zed, would you not just know he’d be on-duty for this one. Good of Russ to wake him, really.

“Em’s at the valve! She’s… Oh. It doesn’t look like it’s moving– Okay, there it goes.”


>A Short Hop, Part III

24 Feb

>(Continued from Part 1 and Part 2)

It was at that point, if you happened to be sitting EVA, that it all began to go well and truly pear-shaped. There are voices one expects to hear on the Bridge during Stardrive work — mostly the Pilot, followed, at a respectful distance and volume, by terse acknowledgments, updates and the occasional alarum from the workin’ crew: Navs, ‘Drive Control, Realspace Drive. You do not want to hear from E & PP, as things wrong in their domain are usually along the lines of sewer lines experiencing unexpected reversal* or unplanned depressurization; you never want the Power Room gang speaking up, since their next line is likely to be, “lights out!” and you don’t want to hear from my lot, either, considering we’ll probably be telling you the controls or the ‘Drive or the electric realspace drives are on the blink. But most of all, most of all, you do not want to hear from Upstairs. City Hall: Command staff.

Most of the time, they stay out our hair and we stay out of theirs. Dr. Schmidt’s up there all the time, of course, and the Chief Pilot gets invited up for dinner ‘pon occasion, but it’s all admin, “interfacing” with the Starship Company and schmoozing with passengers. Scary stuff. But tradition is tradition: whenever we jump, whoever’s in the hot seat stands his or her watch in the Bridge proper. Just our luck, this little leap was smack in the middle of the 8-to-12 trick. Yes, sailors, that ossifer, though we abbreviate it 3/O. Let us all recite together that most irritating yet needful traditional responsibility of the Third Mate: Safety Officer. On a starship, it’s almost a sinecure: there are so many Safety tasks to be done and a whole section of E&PP to do them; but the young gentlemen do tend to take it seriously.

Click! Lazy EVA was still on a speaker not a headset, so I could practically hear the brass in the rarely-flipped switch, “EVA, Lt. Luna** here. Am I hearing you have a solo crewman on the hull, with a defective radio?”

As EVA began to stammer, Pilot (and Boy-Scout-to-the-rescue) Russ Hanks spoke up, “And we’re coming up on three minutes ’til jump, with a serious stability issue, sir.”

EVA: “Um, yessir, Greggo’s suit got downchecked at the last minute and Steve’s out with a twisted ankle; it was supposed to be a quick job.”

3/O: “EVA, you will see me after the jump. Russ, what are our contingencies if we miss this window?”

“Navs?” Russ asked, “It’d be another day, right?”

“Call it twenty-three hours. And a harder vector change on the other side.”

EVA, unfortunately enough: “Where’s Em?”

* Per C. Jay: “I opened up the washroom door and there was the most disgusting fountain I had ever seen.” Ew.

** Honest, it really is his name and he has already heard all the jokes, okay? Off-duty Gerry’s as nice a guy as you’ll meet. For an officer.