Friday, December 29, 2017

Twice Upon A Time reactions

Don't read if you haven't watched it yet. Actually, if you haven't watched it yet, go - I'll be waiting.


First of all, my initial reaction to Whittaker's Doctor is entirely positive. We only see a few moments of her, but the look on her face carried within it echoes of Ten, Seven and, dare I say it, Six. She's clearly done her homework and I can already see that she understands the character. But she's also going to be the anti-Capaldi. No more grumpy, cynical Doctor. Which I think is a good thing. A swing back to goofiness is good and the sense of wonder at herself and the universe she was showing. Yes, I'm very hopeful. (Although having watched an episode of DiP I'm no longer nearly as anti Marshall as I was. Maybe we can snag him in the future).

Chibnall's part of the episode showed a distinct difference in set up and camera work from the first part. Not bad, just different.

On the rest of the episode.

This is really the closest the creators have come to admitting that the Doctor is a fairy. (Because come on, they are - people travel with them and come back older and changed, they show up when least expected and most needed, and chaos travels in their wake).

And "There's no evil plan. I don't know what to do if there's no evil plan" is now my favorite Twelve line.

Goodbye Capaldi, you did great.

Hello, Whittaker, now show us what you can really do.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Merry Winter Holiday of Choice

...because I don't want to list them all in the blog header.

Last post from me until December 29 as I'm going to be spending time with family and such. Have a bunch of stuff to write in the new year.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It's not aliens...

I was holding out for aliens, but no, the much more plausible theory has won out. Extensive studies of 'Oumuamua have revealed no sign of signals or technology.

Instead, it appears to be a Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) - from another solar system, but closely resembling ones found in our own. The unusual shape may be the result of dust bombardment from high speed travel (IOW, it's a pebble).

Oh well.

I wanted aliens, but...

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

So, apparently, supernovae affect our weather. Here on Earth.

The mechanism is that cosmic radiation affects atmospheric ionization and thus both temperature and rainfall. Supernovae change the level of cosmic radiation.

Of course, our local sun has much more of an effect, but some of the climate cycles the Earth experiences appear to be connected to the galactic orbit.

Food for thought.

Monday, December 18, 2017

It's Adorable...

...and it's not extinct after all.

That is a crest-tailed mulgara, and I kind of want one. It's...maybe the size of a rat. Tops. Look at that nose...

And they found some still surviving in the outback. Hopefully we can keep them around.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Used Rockets Work

Even NASA now agrees - SpaceX used a used rocket and Dragon capsule to resupply the ISS. The rocket successfully landed and will be ready for use again after normal turnover.

The development will greatly reduce surface to orbit costs, and puts SpaceX ahead until a replacement for rockets goes commercial. Blue Origin is also working on reusable rockets.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What a pain

Pain is essential to life. For sufferers of chronic pain, however, it can be destructive. Chronic pain is pain which continues after the injury has healed or pain from issues that cannot be healed.

Not being able to feel pain, though, is a problem. Marsili syndrome affects a single family in Italy. They simply cannot feel pain. They've identified the mutation.

Which might bring hope to that family - but it also may let us come up with new, non-opioid treatments for chronic pain. I have friends with FM and other such problems - they need this.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Rising Dawn Print Version Released

It's now available on Amazon here.

I will also have copies of all three books with me at Farpoint in February, if you want to avoid paying for shipping and get a bit of a discount.

And the first words of book four have been written. Assuming they don't go the way of the original opening of book three...

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Supergirl - Doing Gay Breakups Right

So, I'm slightly behind on Supergirl, forgive me (I have a lot to watch and limited time).

The departure of Floriana Lima (Maggie Sawyer) from the show set us up for another 100 situation - the inability to think of any way to get rid of a romantic partner other than to kill them off. Given the history of the portrayal of same sex couples in television (dating back to when such relationships could only be portrayed negatively), it's even worse than doing it to a straight couple.

So, when rumors of Lima's departure circulated, I was worried. Although I was rather hoping the character would stay around in the background, the producer promised that whatever happened, Sawyer would not be killed off...

...and kept the promise. Part of the goal was to allow for Lima to return if she could be persuaded to do so.

But the way they did it was one of the best ways to handle an enforced romantic breakup I have ever seen in TV. Actors quit. It happens. Sometimes the show survives, sometimes it doesn't. In this case, the character was nowhere near important enough to tank the show, but she was important enough that she deserved a good write out.

For those who don't watch: They split because they couldn't agree on whether to have kids.

Reproductive incompatibility trashes thousands upon thousands of relationships a year. It's a real issue that affects real couples.

By doing it this way the writers emphasized two things:
1. Same sex couples have kids.
2. Same sex couples have all the same problems het couples do.

And, above all, they treated it the same as any other relationship. And avoided the stupid tropish breakup reasons (I need to protect you being top of the list).

It almost (almost, mind) makes up for the stupid Kara/James breakup so they could bring in Bland-El...uh, I mean Mon-El. (I won't say I anti-ship them because of the behavior of certain so-called fans, but...)

But I have to give them points for this one. I am, though, disappointed that we won't be seeing Alex and Maggie as a Battle Couple. Because I love Battle Couples and the writers actually said they wanted to keep both characters past the wedding. Maybe I'll get it with Barry and Iris instead? I hope... (No spoilers, please, I've heard enough already).

Monday, December 11, 2017

Watching ‘Oumuamua

Or rather...listening.

The cigar-shaped object has some very strange qualities. Apart from anything else, if it's an asteroid, it's spinning fast enough to fly apart. Unless...well, unless it's made of metal. Oh, and it's shaped almost perfectly to be a probe. Of course, it's also not showing any sign of being under power.

Which is why Breakthrough Listen, part of an organization that's looking for extraterrestrial life, will be watching it for ten full hours with the Green Bank radio telescope in West Virginia. Which can detect signals the strength of a cell phone.

If they find something...well...the world changes, doesn't it.

But they're realistic. It's more likely ‘Oumuamua is simply a strange astronomical object of a type we haven't managed to detect before. It's not spinning fast enough for artificial gravity.

Here's another possibility, though, one we might never be able to prove.

'Oumuamua may be a probe after all...a dead one. A derelict...drifting through the stars.

And that may be the most depressing possibility.

Friday, December 8, 2017


The earth is singing. Or, rather, humming. No, that's not the right word either.

The Earth is...ringing.

And we don't really know why. The Earth's hum, caused by oscillations and vibrations, is far too low a sound for us to hear and can only really be detected by instruments on the ocean floor. It's not a particularly pretty sound either.

It might be caused by the movement of the oceans themselves, but we aren't sure. Fortunately, it doesn't indicate anything wrong with our's quite natural and normal.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Rising Dawn released!

Print will be a day or so yet - I'll put it on the website then, but the book is now available through Smashwords and Amazon (it should be on B&N and iTunes by Christmas).


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Santa's Bones?

Well, not really, but they did determine that a pelvic bone purported to be a relic of St. Nicholas dates to about the right time. Which is weird, because if it's a real Medieval relic, there aren't many of those.

Lots of fakes...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


It's kind of a fantasy trope. The warrior with the unbeatable sword made of "starmetal" - which usually gets mundanely described as meteoric iron.


We've now confirmed that every single iron item made during the Bronze Age was, indeed, made of "starmetal" - because meteoric iron doesn't need to be smelted.

Now, imagine that we're talking about the only guy (or gal) with an iron sword when everyone else has bronze...

...and it all makes sense, doesn't it.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Womb transplant successful

It's not the first - that was in Sweden some years ago - but the first fully successful uterus transplant in the U.S. is still important.

Fully successful in this case means the birth of a healthy child. The recipient (who hasn't been named) was born without a uterus (whether the child is from her eggs or a donor's hasn't yet been revealed).

It's an important development for infertile women - and possibly even for trans women.

Friday, December 1, 2017

MCU - A Few Things I Want

I've been thinking about this because of the Infinity War trailer dropping this week.

I have to admit? I was disappointed. The trailer to Infinity War is not nearly as good or intriguing as the one for Black Panther. I'm not saying anything about the quality of the associated movies and much of it is that the Black Panther trailer is really, really good.

So, what do I want moving forward?

Evans, Ruffalo, Hemsworth, Johanson, Downey and Renner are all only contracted through Avengers 4. This doesn't mean they are all leaving the franchise, but likely at least some will. Ragnarok sets the stage for Hemsworth departing as a regular character - Thor is now king of Asgard, after all. Steve may be replaced by Bucky as Captain America or, as happened in the comics, by Falcon.

Marvel has explicitly stated that the franchise will change significantly after the end of Infinity War.

So, what do I want to see?

Avengers has always had a rotating roster, and there are a number of characters I would like to see show up.

1. Namor - He's an interesting character, if morally conflicted. And given all of the other changes I'd like to propose a radical dream cast - John Boyega.

2. A new Hulk. If, IF Ruffalo is really leaving the franchise, we have two equally intriguing possibilities to replace the Incredible Hulk. The first, of course, is She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters). If Karen Gillen wasn't already in the franchise, she'd make a great Jen. Hayden Panettiere, though, has the delicacy required. The other alternative for Hulk #2 is, of course, Amadeus Cho. This would be a great opportunity to have an Asian actor in a major role, something that Marvel has been repeatedly criticized for. I'm struggling to find a good dreamcast because of the lack of prominent young Asian actors.

3. Valkyrie replacing Thor. They made it very explicit that Thor is not "whoever holds Mjolnir," locking the door on Lady Thor. The end of Ragnarok, though, also means it's unlikely Thor will be, shall we say, free to go adventuring. I loved Thompson's portrayal, and would love to see her as a regular Avenger.

4. Sam, not Bucky as Cap. Although I'm fairly sure I won't be getting this one, I don't know that MCU Bucky has the ability to be the Avengers' moral compass the way Steve is. I love Bucky as a character, but I'd rather see Sam with the shield.

5. Kamala Khan. Come on, she's an insanely popular character, has powers that aren't duplicated by anyone else on the roster (I have to admit that I don't like her powers, even though I like everything else about her). Another one I can't dreamcast - somebody give me some cool young Pakistani actors? They could slide her in in one of the Spider-Man movies - perhaps she meets Peter at a science fair? (Alternatively, she could show up in Inhumans, but that show isn't impressing me at all).