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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Wednesday, August 05, 2020

WC 080520

Today's challenge is: your favorite tropes in X genre.

My genre is science fiction.
The tropes that make Star Trek, Star Wars and other space exploration stories possible are:

Warp speed, or faster than light travel
Phaser beams, disrupters and other cool weapons
Cryogenics or stasis for long voyages without a person aging.
Different forms of alien beings
Time or travel portals: star gates
Flying cars
Force fields
Galactic empires
Advances in medicine

My book Vander's Magic Carpet is about marketing the first flying car. See review.
My current book serialized on this blog in previous posts, A Private Pain, uses stasis and light speed ships for hundred year voyages to set up a transportation portal for exploitation of solar systems by corporations.

Monday, August 03, 2020

TTT 080420

Today's topic is books with colors in the title.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Pathfinder of the Seas: Matthew Fontaine Maury

Since I married my wife, whose maiden name is Maury, I've known about the most famous person in their family tree. At a used book store I bought a biography of his and discovered just what an amazing man Matthew Fontaine Maury was. 
My father-in-law was not in the direct line of MFM. They share a common ancestor Rev. James Maury.
I've always thought about doing a fictionalized history on him to bring him to life. Then I checked Wikipedia, which I do occasionally to see if there's anything new about him. I came across this.

Numerous historical markers commemorate Maury throughout the South, including those in Richmond, Virginia, Fletcher, North CarolinaFranklin, Tennessee, and several in Chancellorsville, Virginia.

On July 2, 2020, the mayor of Richmond ordered the removal of a statue of Maury erected in 1929 on Richmond's Monument Avenue. The mayor used his emergency powers to bypass a state-mandated review process, calling the statue a "severe, immediate and growing threat to public safety."]

I know since George Floyd was murdered and the BLM protests started that many Confederate statues have been torn down. In New Mexico monuments to the Conquistadors have been removed. 

I agree with ending the glorification of generals and politicians who are only known for their treason. Not too sure about disparaging the Hispanic history of New Mexico, which make up 60% of our population, to appease the Native American Pueblos. Explorers and conquerors are seldom kind and gentle.

Matthew Fontaine Maury is another story. His place in history has nothing to do with slavery or the Confederacy. He was one of the giants of 19th century science. Perhaps one of the greatest scientific minds ever. 

He was nicknamed "Pathfinder of the Seas" and "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology" and later, "Scientist of the Seas" for his extensive works in his books.

Riddle me this: How could someone who first charted the ocean currents that made sailing safer and faster in the 1800's be a severe, immediate and growing threat to the public?

How could the man who headed the endeavor to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable from the U. S. to Europe, be a severe, immediate and growing threat to the public?

He never owned a slave or condoned slavery, he advocated sending all the slaves in Virginia to Brazil in order to shift the economy away from this practice. It was a futile attempt, but it shows he was against the practice.

He stayed faithful to his southern roots and resigned his commission and joined the Confederate navy. The only problem was, there wasn't a Confederate navy. He spent most of the war in England lobbying, unsuccessfully, for the UK to side with the south.

The only strike against him is before leaving for England he invented something still in use today. He called it the Electric Torpedo, we know it as the naval mine.

Farragut's famous quote: "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." Was in reference to them.

The majority of the union navy ships damaged and sunk were from those torpedoes.

Is that enough reason to consider such a great mind and the accomplishments he made in his lifetime for his statue to be considered a severe, immediate and growing threat to the public?

The same reasoning could be applied to Albert Einstein for the atomic bomb, Werner Von Braun for his V2 rockets which caused American casualties in WW2.

Click on the link and read what Wikipedia says about his accomplishments and then decide if he's a war criminal or a truly great American hero worthy of our respect.   

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

WC 072920

Todays topic is: Stuff on my bucket list.
1. Golf at Saint Andrews in Scotland. 
2. Visit England, Scotland and Ireland.
3. Take tour of Italy and Greece.
4. Tour Paris and spend a week at the Louvre. 
5. Visit Boston to travel the path of Samuel Prescott, who actually made the trip to Lexington and Concorde. Then Bunker and Breeds Hill, where William Prescott stupidly fought the British.
6. Finish A Private Pain, now serialized on this blog.
7. Write a fictionalized history book on Matthew Fontaine Maury  My wife's maiden name is Maury, and he's a prominent figure in her family tree. I've found his life fascinating.
8. Live long enough to see my first great-grandchild. Eldest grandson just turned 18, maybe...
9. Pay off my mortgage.
10. Live to be 100.

Monday, July 27, 2020

TTT 072820

Todays topic is a FREEBIE.

I'm going to offend some people here. I know that sex, politics and religion are taboo at a party and in a way that's what TTT is; a party of book lovers. To all the members who live outside the United States, I apologize. To all who are offended and support the money grubber in chief, my pleasure. 
There's a book I read 16 years ago that rings true today more than then. Back then it was a warning of what was happening by a man who was on the receiving end of Karl Rove's dirty tricks. Jim Hightower was publicly arrested for embezzlement a week before his reelection in Texas. The week after the election the charges were dropped. He lost the election. One of the many ways the Republicans have been gaming the system to win elections.
The 2017 tax law, that none of the members of congress were allowed to read before voting on it, raising taxes on the working class and gave the wealthy trillions in tax cuts, the pandemic relief bill that gave the average tax payer $1,200 dollars and major corporations got billions, many received funds like the cruise lines that aren't U.S. corporations.
Today with Portland being invaded by Trump's storm troopers and now Albuquerque has 35 of them, when we aren't even having protests. It's spot on. The title says it all.
As Hightower says it's time to get rid of the Congress Critters.

Sunday, July 26, 2020

A Private Pain Chapter 3

But Behold!
As I lay down to die
Hunters from space I did spy
They entered my cave
Trying to be brave
I tried to fight,
But my strength was light.
With all strength spent
Humbly along I went
To their hideous city
Where they showed no pity.

They put me in a secluded room
Where I waited my doom
They cursed me with warmth and food
Until my health was normal and good
I wondered and my thoughts did pause
On those who killed us without just cause
Should bring me back to life
When I did not wish to live without my wife.

# # # # #

Planet Able was over twice the size of Terra Prime. Doing an in-depth survey of the four continents wouldn’t be easy. One thing the ministry of reclamation hoped for was a spot or spots that hid and supported life.
 Scanners were sent out to search out any tiny spot where vegetation still existed. North Able, South Able, East Able and West Able were thoroughly plotted and scanned. Possible sites were pinpointed, and search parties dispatched.
On West Able halfway up the planet’s highest mountain a valley was discovered showing greenery. Commander Maury led the expedition. He wanted to see for himself if life still existed and could be used to resuscitate the planet.
The shuttle craft was buffeted by 120 mile per hour winds and thick sand. Nearly half the planet’s surface was in the air swirling in the high winds. Maury felt despair. Writing in his log: How can we even attempt to make this planet habitable again under such conditions?
A thousand feet below the valley the winds died down. The dust and sand abated. The valley was ten miles in length and five miles at its greatest width. A pin prick on the planet
 Landing in a lush meadow with a flowing stream the area was missing farmers. Crops were near harvest, trees were plentiful, flowers bloomed. The air smelled fresh and sweet. Small animals, insects, fish and other life forms were present, but none of the sentient inhabitants or farmers.
The scientists started taking samples of all the life forms, hoping that they would discover the needed nutrients to revitalize the planet. Some fanned out to photograph and catalogue what was left of life on this planet. Others started exploring the mountain above the valley and below it. There were thousands of caves.
A month later reports came in that there appeared to be indigenous life forms inhabiting the caves in four different directions. “They appear to be hiding from us. As we get closer, they flee.” First Sergeant, Shanika Aziri, one of the explorers told the commander,” She rushed up and blurted it out not respecting protocol.
Three months later came bad news. Captain Mahmoud Jabbar reported, “We discovered the remains of six farmers. Their tails were intact. From indications they died around two weeks ago from dehydration.”
Maury looked at the body bags, they can be cloned as are the other species presently growing in artificial wombs, but they needed live ones to explain their special needs and educate the children.
Openly weeping, “I don’t blame them,” Maury spoke to the assembled group. “They were hunted down to extinction like the Spikers on Orion Prime, the Uberkise on Taurus Prime and other species all over this galaxy. We in the Prime Command thought this problem was under control, but somehow it still plagues us.”
Jabbar spoke, “Sir, give us a few more days, we might still find some alive.”
“Are all the other teams finished with their assignments?” Maury asked.
Raj Digingi, the second in command nodded, “Yes, commander.”
“Major, he addressed Raj, “Pack up and send the shuttle back with all your specimens.” He looked at Jabbar, “Captain you have one week to find one of them alive,” he paused, “If you can’t find one by then it’s too late anyway.”
Thermal scanners penetrated cave after cave. Some were little more than a hole in the limestone while others went thousands of feet into granite. The explorers were two days from recall and leaving the area forever.
“I found an image,” Shanika radioed base camp. She fired a flare marking the spot and entered the cave. Crawling on her stomach for ten feet through a narrow spot she emerged into a large chamber. Lying to her right was a dead farmer, but recently deceased as decomp hadn’t started. Another one was holding arms around the dead one and shaking.
She moved towards what appeared to be a female as there were enlarged breasts. The farmer quickly swung its six-foot ivory tail lashing it out at her. Shanika backed away feeling air whizzing by her as it narrowly missed.
The farmer fell, sides heaving and looked like it spent its last reserves of energy with the attack.
Speaking into the com, “Have found one farmer still alive, need emergency response team ASAP.”
She took out her water bottle and slowly moved closer to the farmer. There wasn’t a mouth. A head with eyes, breathing holes, but no mouth or ears. She stopped perplexed. Small hands rose to the bottle and snatched it from hers. The lid was already open, and the liquid spilled onto the farmer’s body. It was immediately absorbed into its fur. She could see the farmer take a bigger breath.
Lifting the bottle higher is poured half of it onto its fur, then moved to the dead one emptying the bottle on it. There was no reaction.
The farmer threw the empty bottle at her and started to swing the tail again. Its hands were flailing about and the eyes were staring daggers at her.
Backing away she could hear the rescue squad trying to crawl through the bottleneck. She went back where the opening enlarged, “Don’t try to crawl through,” she said. “It’s only ten feet long and limestone, bring in laser cutters and enlarge it.” Pausing for a second, “Slide me four or five water bottles.”
The bottles came through and she took off the lid of one and extended it to the farmer. Their hands touched. It was like being struck by an ion storm. She felt the anger and hate expressed by eyes. It burned into her arms and legs settling into her stomach making her retch. Breaking contact she went back to the opening to catch her breath.
Feeling the heat of the laser cutters she went to a neutral spot of the cave. She saw the farmer try to hydrate the dead one to no avail. Again, it shook and focused all its hate on her. She slid the other bottles towards it. The farmer twisted the top off of the next bottle and poured it onto its fur. She could see it gain strength.
“Hurry up guys, this thing is starting to recover and it’s looking at me like I’m lunch. I guess I’m lucky it doesn’t have a mouth and teeth, at least that I can see so far.”
With a crack huge chunks of Limestone melted and dropped on the cave floor. A ten-foot tunnel was now open. The farmer shrank back to its dead mate and quivered.
“Be wary of the tail,” Shanika told them. Even nearly dead it is quick and powerful.”
Surprisingly the farmer didn’t put up a fight. It left the other one and walked toward them. It reached out and touched Shanika.

I know you mean me no harm.  

She stood absorbing the thoughts of this man. Turning to the group, “They communicate by touch. I can understand his thoughts.” Shaking her head. “His name is Niqmiepu, he may have tits, but this one is male, He is called “the nurturer.” The other one is Ishme. She’s the mother.” Pointing at the closest member of the rescue squad, “Treat her with respect when you bring her down.”
Niqmiepu went with them, but Shanika needed to touch him again to convince him it was safe to enter the flyer that would take them back to camp.
The female was bound in a sack and placed in back of the flyer. Niqmiepu sat next to Shanika. They held hands and he told her of the years they hid in the meadow. They were content until the flying boxes started flying overhead and forced them into the caves. The boxes flew day and night not allowing them to return to the meadow for food or water.
The farmer was transported to HQ on Able Moon Alpha. He cried upon seeing the desolation of the entire planet. Shanika comforted him as much as she could by holding hand and letting him know that the Federation would, with his help, turn his world back to what it was. She imagined in her mind that Ishme and the others would return and many more, not only farmers, but merchants and hunters as well.
Niqmiepu’s mind went blank. He wouldn’t believe her lies. He was the last of his kind.
At HQ other scientists looked him over, touched him and tried to communicate. He was shut down. Water revived him, but none of the food they placed by him would he eat. They brought some of the plants and animals that were in the meadow, but he refused them.
“From what information we can gather,” Shanika told Governor Maury. “The farmers mature in a year and have a life expectancy of ten. We’re cloning the seven that were with him in the meadow.”
“That won’t do us much good if Niqmiepu dies,” Maury said. “There will be no one to teach them how to farm.”
“We’ve put him in stasis. When the others come out of incubation, we’ll revive him and upon seeing those he’s familiar with, especially his wife, he should be willing to teach them. From there we can expand the program.”

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

WC 072220

Character names in books I can't pronounce.
First year teaching 7th grade literature and the book has a short story entitled: Popocatepetl and Iztacc√≠huatl. In the story they were shortened to Popo and Istla. They are the names of two volcanos that surround Mexico City.

Try Russian history. I once had to give a report on the Prime Minister under Alexander II, Constantine Pobedonostsev. For the life of me I couldn't get it right. I had some Laotian students that were doozies too.
The Gulag Archipelago by Alexander Solzhenitsyn had some really difficult names. It was just glance and go on. Same for his Cancer Ward, and Ninth Circle.
Berthold Gambrel in his science fiction stories thinks up some unpronounceable ones.
Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison, in fact almost all Sci-fi writers start off with characters with more consonants than vowels.
Try reading all the begats in Genesis.