Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Closeup: New World

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a view of "dwarf planet" Ceres from the orbiting Dawn spacecraft. What causes those bright patches? Is it ice? And what's with that mountain? The next year of this mission (until fuel runs out) will be very interesting!

Monday, June 29, 2015

No, Four. Two, Two, Four. And Noodles!

"Sushi. That's what my ex-wife used to call me. 'Cold Fish.'"

In New York July 3? Like Blade Runner? Want to try some food inspired by the movie? See the "Summer Sci-Fi" Listing here for Basilica Hudson.

Overhead blimp: A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure.

Sushi Master: Nan-ni shimasho-ka? [Japanese for: "What would you like to have?"]

Overhead blimp: A new life awaits you in the Off-world colonies. The chance to begin again in a golden land of opportunity and adventure. New climate, recreational facilities...

Deckard (voice-over): They don't advertise for killers in the newspaper. That was my profession. Ex-cop, ex-blade runner, ex-killer.

Overhead blimp: ...absolutely free...Use your new friend as a personal body servant or a tireless field hand—the custom tailored genetically engineered humanoid replicant designed especially for your needs. So come on America, lets put our team up there...

[Deckard walks over to Japanese carry-out stand]

Sushi Master: ...akimashita, akimashita. Irasshai, irasshai. [pause] Sa dozo. Nan-ni shimasho-ka? [Japanese for: "Now you can sit here. Come on. Well, what would you like to have?"]

Deckard: Give me four.

Sushi Master: Futatsu de jubun desuyo. [Japanese for: "Two must be enough for you"]

Deckard: No, four. Two, two, four.

Sushi Master: Futatsu de jubun desuyo. [Japanese for: "Two must be enough for you"]

Deckard: And noodles.

Sushi Master: Wakatte kudasai yo. [Japanese for: "Please understand me."]

Deckard (voice-over): Sushi, that's what my ex-wife called me. Cold fish.

Policeman: Hey, idi-wa.

Gaff: Monsier, ada-na kobishin angum bi-te. [Cityspeak for: "You will be required to accompany me, sir."]

Sushi Master: He say you under arrest, Mr. Deckard.

Deckard: Got the wrong guy, pal.

Gaff: Lo-faast! Nehod[y] maar! Te vad[y] a Blade...Blade Runner!

Nice Grouping

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video showing a sunspot group parading across the face of the Sun. More auroral activity in the offing?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Bricks in the Wall

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is not a wall of bricks either painted or cast in all the colors of a rainbow. It is our home star, the Sun, broken apart into a spectrum.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

The Time of the Triangle

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us the three stars of the Summer Triangle: Aquila's Altair, Deneb of Cygnus and Lyra's Vega all form an informal constellation that rides high in the Northern Hemisphere this time of year.

Transvenus Injection

Once NASA had a robust program of post-lunar landing Apollo missions. What we only ever saw of this was Skylab, but plans existed to send Apollo to Mars and to Venus. Here's an article (including a short film) on the Venus mission.

What If?

Ayn Rand considered as a space opera.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Aurora from Above

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows recent auroral activity in the skies of Earth...as seen from the International Space Station.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Circles in the Sky

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows time-elapse star trails in the sky above Table Mountain. Amazing how many stars are shown given the lights on the ground.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Meeting Place

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows the meet up between the Moon, Venus and Jupiter in our early evening sky this past week.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


A fascinating look at the evolution of graphics on cardboard counters representing units in a wargame. (I still prefer cardboard and miniatures over computer versions!)

Inflation Theory

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Sharpless 308, a planetary nebula in the constellation of Canis Major.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Globular Close-Up

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier Catalog Object Five, between the constellations of Libra and Serpens. The Hubble Space Telescope brings us to a "close" view; here's the sight from a smaller telescope (still well worth seeking out, as are all globular clusters).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Black Eye

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is of Messier 64 in the constellation of Coma Berenices. This galaxy is also known as the Black Eye Galaxy, or, most obscurely, the Sleeping Beauty Galaxy. Aerial commuters might have called it the Red-Eye Galaxy.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows Messier 45 in the constellation of Taurus. Also known as The Pleiades, or (although not as popular these days) The Seven Sisters.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Bill Bryson: A Walk in the Woods—Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Broadway Books; 1999; ISBN 978-0767902526).

David Miller: AWOL on the Appalachian Trail (Mariner Books; 2011; ISBN 978-0547745527).

This year I decided to concentrate more on non-fiction (with mixed results). Two of the books I read this year dealt with travels on the Appalachian Trail. Two more different books you could not find!

Bill Bryson decides to reconnect with the United States after a long time away by walking on the Appalachian Trail. He is joined by a friend, Stephan Katz and the pair of them stumble onto the Appalachian Trail, festooned with odd bits of equipment, candy, and many noodles.

David Miller, on the other hand, walks the trail with a very rigorous approach. He has carefully researched equipment, regular supply drops and more. He generally traveled the trail on his own, other than occasional encounters in shelters or on the trail itself.

There are similarities. Both authors enjoy the beauty, the reconnecting with nature. And the change in attitude, such as in this quote from Bryson:

Each time you leave the cossetted and hygienic world of towns and take yourself into the hills, you go through a series of staged transformations—a kind of gentle descent into squalor—and each time it is as if you have never done it before. At the end of the first day, you feel mildly, self-consciously, grubby; by the second day, disgustingly so; by the third, you are beyond caring; by the fourth, you have forgotten what it is like not to be like this.

But then there are spectacular differences. Miller manages to walk the entire trail. Bryson and Katz bail out after a while; Bryson does some more on weekends and they hook up to finish the last section (only to bail again):

Pinned to a wall was a map showing the whole of the Appalachian Trail on its long march through fourteen states, but with the eastern seaboard rotated to give the AT the appearance of having a due north-south orientation, allowing the mapmaker to fit the trail into an orderly rectangle, about six inches wide and four feet high.

I looked at it with a polite, almost proprietorial interest—it was the first time since leaving New Hampshire that I had considered the trail in its entirety—and then inclined closer, with bigger eyes and slightly parted lips. Of the four feet of trail map before me, reaching approximately from my knees to the top of my head, we had done the bottom two inches.

Both are good books. Miller is more a guidebook (and he has written a book on the trail and maintains a website about trekking the trail) and Bryson is more a history of the trail, a commentary on nature...and humor. In fact, I could not read Bryson at night in bed because I would laugh so much I was afraid of waking my wife.

The differences, again, are striking. Miller talks equipment. A lot of equipment. He changes packs. He changes shoes. Bryson? Well, the final pair of quotes is from an encounter Bryson had at one shelter:

I knew with a sinking heart that we were going to talk equipment. I could just see it coming. I hate talking equipment.

“So what made you buy a Gregory pack?” he said. “Well, I thought it would be easier than carrying everything in my arms.” He nodded thoughtfully, as if this were an answer worth considering, then said: “I’ve got a Kelty.”

Going Mobile

Workers (mostly digital) who travel rather than settle. Not sure if we have enough data points for a "trend", but some interesting reading. My thought: Before I read the article, I mirrored the one commentator's "exhausting".

Reading List

An interesting article on fiction and on-fiction reading for thinkers of strategy (at some point this will translate via some wonk into a list for business and it will become "relevant"; I'm saying you some time!).

Question: Why does Ender's Game keep showing up on these lists higher than, say, The Forever War or Fields of Fire or The 13th Valley or Matterhorn?

Food, Glorious Food (002)

Can't cook? Worried about cooking when you start raising a family? There's one easy trick to overcoming your fears: Get in the kitchen and make mistakes!

Maybe this piece was written with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but...goodness...FOOD KITS? FOOD START UPS?

Food, Glorious Food (001)

Two parts of an ongoing (?) series from War on the Rocks about food in the military. Part 01: Hardtack Will Come Around No More (thank goodness!). Part 02: A particular favorite, to be honest: S.O.S. Especially with eggs!

20 Years

Happy birthday to the Astronomy Picture of the Day! I have not been posting them for 20 years (in the various forms this blog has had), but pretty close!

Going Analog

It's interesting to see how obsolete tools and technologies (note the tone of sarcasm in my voice) hang on. Slide rules are obsolete, yes? Do a little searching and you'll find them for sale, newly manufactured. Still.

Notebooks are a favorite analog device for many. One brand, Field Notes, even builds into their marketing "I'm not writing it down to remember it later, I'm writing it down to remember it now." Another popular brand is Moleskine, beloved of artists and writers throughout history. The New Yorker recently covered that brand in a recent article (less a case of hard-hitting journalism or even a look at analog tools overall than a puff piece, I think).

Over at the mathematical side of things, where you'd think the whiteboard rules the day, it seems mathematicians are mourning the end of the line for a certain brand of chalk and are creating a hoarders market for that brand!

Perhaps it will be revived, as a certain brand of pencil was (although some say the resurrected version is not as good as the original).

How do you sharpen a pencil, anyway?

Monday, June 15, 2015

The Gold at Starbow's End

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows a rainbow around the Moon. I've often seen halos around the Moon, especially in the winter, but never a colored corona such as this!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Saturday, June 13, 2015

1,000 Sols

The road to "Mount Sharp" in Gale Crater has been traveled for 1,000 Sols. Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a mosaic of the path taken by the MSL Curiosity.

Thursday, June 11, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day spans the width of three full Moons. What detail that can be found in such a small part of the sky!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Riding the Fourth Hoarse

Since the question has come up and since I'm the "administrative member" of the trio known as The Three Hoarsemen, here's our (my) policy on guests, or Fourth Hoarses.

We only (currently) do twelve shows a year, one a month. If we ever find enough energy to do more shows, fantastic. Please note what our logo is. We are tired old people.

Some of our shows will be "host only". That may, as with everything else, change, but in general we like to talk amongst ourselves now and again. That's why we started the podcast to begin with!

For guests, our guidelines are: (a) It helps that you're interesting. (b) It helps that we've had contact with you on some basis, so we're comfortable speaking to you. (c) It helps that you are "in genre" either as a professional or a amateur (fan) and have something to bring to the table.

Do you have a book coming out? Do you work, for pay or a volunteer, in some aspect of genre we're interested in? Do you have "a story"?

Guests need to be approved by all three hosts, just as when we discuss a book or an author without a guest. All three have to be interested and comfortable. There's nothing like the drawn out, skeptical "Wellllll..." generated by co-hosts Jeff Patterson or John Stevens to give you pause about how a subject will fly.

Here's the procedure if the above applies: (a) Contact me with your pitch at GodelEscherBach at Gmail Dot Com. (b) Outline what you'd like to talk about! (c) Links help! (d) Do you have an ARC or a book or a file? That helps! (e) If we see something that clicks, we'll contact you and work out a schedule.

We generally record around the middle of the month, on a Sunday night, at 8:30 P.M. Eastern (US). We're flexible on time of month, day of the wee, hour of the night but understand that this is a voluntary effort and Life Gets In the Way Of Fandom (TM) on a very regular basis. We will try to accommodate, but it usually works best in that frame. Sessions last around ninety minutes. Shows are split fifty-fifty between the main topic of the episode (for example, a book or an author or a movie) and "culture consumed" (what we and our guest have read, listened to, or viewed).

For past shows, please see the episodes at SF Signal. Future guests include (tentative or committed) a artist, a publisher, a editor, even more who write. We have plans for covering more individual books (with or without a Fourth Hoarse) or topics such as awards, genre history and specific authors.

Do you have something that fits in? Contact us! You too can ride the Fourth Hoarse!

Administrivia: Contacts, Reviews, And All That Jazz

And now a word from...me!

To contact me: Gödel Escher Bach at Gmail Dot Com.

To comment here: Comment. Moderation is turn on. If you're a troll, don't expect me to approve. Period. That goes for GamerGamers, Sad Puppies, Rabid Puppies and all other Trolls. Life is too short.

I'm averaging 2-3 review requests here on a weekly basis. A few thoughts. First, take a look at the books I read and review. Amish Romance Fiction? Seriously? Folks, why would I even consider reviewing such a thing? When have I ever written about the subject?

Second, you'd be better served sending your request for somebody to review your book to a bigger site such as SF Signal or Functional Nerds. I only do an occasional review (very occasional) for the bigger sites, but the bigger sites have a lot of volunteers to read incoming books so your chances of getting a review up there are far greater.

Third, I'm just one person. This is my personal blog. I only review books here that I purchase personally as I know the author, or like his/her books, or the cover catches my eye, etc. So, thanks for the submissions and requests and like, but this is not the blog you are looking for.

Fourth, an addition: I have only had one guest posting, a special request from a ex-friend. And while I did post a couple of excerpts from a book, again, it was a request from a ex-friend. I am not interested in entertaining requests to write postings, tune my blog, blah, blah, blah. Thanks, but no thanks.

General Disclaimer for the Government: Anything I review, I bought. Paper, audio, electronic. I bought. So, go pound salt.

Flyover Country

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a short video. We've reached Ceres!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Double Standards: Tor Books

A wonderful person expressed her opinion on her Facebook page. It was a perfectly legitimate thing to say on her own Facebook page. Nobody really reacted.

A vile scumbag of a person brought this to the attention of her employer. A month later. Said employer publicly scolded her.

Why was she publicly scolded? I can only assume it is because she was a woman.

Where's my proof?


Where was the public scolding of an male editor who stalked women and endangered them?

I think I missed it.

Where was the public scolding of an male editor who harassed a female author?

I think I missed it.

Where has the public scolding of a senior member of this publishing house who has publicly criticized a number of things, very loudly (and within his rights, but, wait for it), including this same group of scumbags that cause his employer to publicly scold a female employee been?

I think I missed it.

Where was the public scolding of multiple male Tor authors who have made homophobic, racist and sexist remarks in multiple public forums?

I think I missed it.

Shame on you Tor, shame on you.

Addendum: Am I mistaken? Not from what I can see. If I am "mistaken", it appears that I am not alone in this "mistake". Another good bit of commentary: How Tor Failed Social Media 101. Amen.

Stars in Collison

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows what appears to be a halo around galaxy NGC 7714. This is the aftermath of a collision between NGC 7714 and another galaxy (NGC 7715). This duo can be found in Halton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies as Arp 284.

Monday, June 8, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows light pollution coming off the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion in Greece. Despite that, we're still treated to a nice view of the Milky Way in the skies above the temple. "Mouseover" the image to get a guide to the constellations and some deep-space and solar system objects.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day shows NGC 3132, "The Eight Burst Nebula" in the constellation of Vela. Through a lucky orientation, we can peek inside to see the central stars, a view that might be hidden from other angles.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Green Lantern

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a astronomical rarity: a green flash, not seen at sunset or sunrise, but with a full Moon.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Deep Voyager

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a nice perspective on perspective. Three of the objects in this field of view are (relatively) close. One is far away: Galactic wanderer NGC 2419, a globular cluster in the constellation of Lynx.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Foam Moon

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is a close-up image of Saturn's moon Hyperion. This image is from the hard-working Cassini orbiter from a fly-by of the spongy-looking moon earlier this week.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Lovejoy Returns

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day brings us a new image of Comet C/2014 Q2 (Lovejoy). "Mouseover" the image for a object guide. Not as bright as it used to be, but still a stunner.

Monday, June 1, 2015