Archive for April 2015

Vintage Future   Leave a comment

One thing that always fascinates me is how the past foresaw (or foreseed?) the future.  You know, way back in the day, say, around 1935 or so, the year 2000 seemed as remote as jetpacks (also a futuristic object we’re still waiting on).

Bored, putting off my writing for the day, I chose to do a bit of research.  You know, the kind that kind of involves what you’re working on but not really (just because it’s science fiction doesn’t mean it’s my particular brand of it, but it’s sci-fi nonetheless).

Traveling around YouTube, I found a bit of what I wasn’t looking for: fashion.

Women’s clothing seems pretty cool, if not entirely practical.  Men’s?  Hmm.  Overall, I wonder what made these designers think that clothes would progress this way, especially a dress made out of aluminum.  I mean, how you gonna sit without scratching the hell out of your body?  And what was the reasoning behind metal as fabric?  Then there’s the net dress that’s pretty va-va-hoochy-koochie-voom.  It’s kind of modest by today’s standards.  The bridal dress isn’t out of line with what people’d consider high fashion today.  At the end of the video, there’s really no rationale for the male outfit; none that I could find, anyway.

This one has some of the above in it, but what I find funny is that when this video shows the future, it has exactly the same airplanes with a few tweaks, buildings pretty much look the same too and there’s no real innovations, just…bigger things.  Why?  Could no one figure out how things progressed logically?

Okay, now this one’s not really a prediction, nor is it science fiction in the truest sense, but when you look at it, you’ll know what I mean, and you’ll smile:

Ah, nostalgia!

Right around when this video was made, I was sitting at my desk when our computer guy, Jim, came in with a box and some wires in his hands.  “I’m hooking you up to the internet,” he said.

Really?” I said.  “Wow!”

We tinkered about for a moment.  Each of us in my department had to keep a little logbook of how long we were on the internet, and why, and that included email.  See, they paid by the hour and even then they didn’t want us goofing off on it.  So you can imagine how excited I was when I heard that distinctive modem tune that told me I was engaged to the world!  Oo!

Five seconds later, it all froze.  Log out, unplug, log in, repeat.

Eventually, I did get to this page called Webcraller.  It had a search field, plus this “Surprise” button.  You pressed it and it kind of gave you a tour of the internet in all of its innocent youth.  Why, I saw helpful plans for a plumbing schematic, recipes for pie, horoscopes, bits of news from around the world, pictures of people doing things, and the like.  I was hooked!  And felt special, too. Right there in my tiny office, on the top of my steel-and-formica desk, the entire world waited for me to log on and discover all its wonders.

Now, why couldn’t they see that in 1920?

I’m Going Live!   Leave a comment

Say, if any of you are bored, happen to be nearby and want to participate in an internet radio show, come join me and my sister Gwen Jones LIVE in the studio!  This broadcast will also be available online following the show.  I can’t seem to get the below flyer to cooperate, but if you click on it, you can get it to enlarge so it’s legible.















Writing Treasure Hunt – To Pulp, or not to Pulp?   Leave a comment

Here’s a bit on pulp writing from a blogger I follow, D.R. Sylvester. Thought it to be quite fun!


This here Writing Treasure Hunt is going to be a recurring segment, where I find hidden (writing-related) booty to plunder, and share it with ye. Yarrrrr!

The treasure I’ve unearthed this time around is a post about a post about a tutorial… Itttt’s more straight forward than it sounds. Let’s begin:

Apparently there’s this guy called Michael Moorcock (who I intend to read) who once explained how to craft a seriously entertaining novel in three days. A pulp, formulaic tale guaranteed to keep the audience with you for a minimum outlay of time and effort. This sounds to me like a marathon-lung-capacity breath of fresh air, well worth a read for anybody time-poor and dream-rich. Besides, who hasn’t secretly wanted to write enjoyable trash at one point or another?

That said, the article I originally stumbled across (on the blog of XJ Selman) was highly critical of this approach. They found the notion of quickly wrought fiction to be dangerous: that…

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Posted April 23, 2015 by seleneymoon in Uncategorized

Back in Time   Leave a comment

Hooray!  Today, the Hubble Telescope celebrates its 25 anniversary!  And what a celebration it should be, and is.  The New York times posted an article today that features astronomers and others involved in Hubble’s history what their favorite photo is.

Here’s one of my favorite images:

Monster Galaxy

This photo is from 2012, and a brief description taken from NASA’s follows:

The giant elliptical galaxy in the center of this image, taken by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, is the most massive and brightest member of the galaxy cluster Abell 2261.

Spanning a little more than one million light-years, the galaxy is about 10 times the diameter of our Milky Way galaxy. The bloated galaxy is a member of an unusual class of galaxies with a diffuse core filled with a fog of starlight. Normally, astronomers would expect to see a concentrated peak of light around a central black hole. The Hubble observations revealed that the galaxy’s puffy core, measuring about 10,000 light-years, is the largest yet seen.

The observations present a mystery, and studies of this galaxy may provide insight into how black hole behavior may shape the cores of galaxies.

Astronomers used Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys and Wide Field Camera 3 to measure the amount of starlight across the galaxy, dubbed A2261-BCG. Abell 2261 is located three billion light-years away.

The observations were taken March to May 2011. The Abell 2261 cluster is part of a multi-wavelength survey called the Cluster Lensing And Supernova survey with Hubble (CLASH).

Object Names: Abell 2261, A2261-BCG

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: NASAESA, M. Postman (STScI), T. Lauer (NOAO), and the CLASH team

# # #

But what do I find so fascinating about it?

Click on the above link for larger files of the above photo.  Take a look.  It’s an amazing assortment of galaxies – tons of them!  And they’re beautiful, so beautiful, gems each and every one.  This literally took my breath away.  Not only are those galaxies millions of light years away, their light comes to us from millions of years ago.  What we see no longer is, and who knows what’s taken its place, if anything at all.

Within each of those galaxies floating in the universe are worlds utterly unknown to us.  We can fantasize and dream about life on another planet in another galaxy, but the truth is a bit elusive at the moment.  Still, we can regard them for what the Hubble brings to us – a beautiful perspective of the universe and its imagery.

If you find yourself a bit bored, sad or otherwise challenged by the rigors of this world, click on the Hubble Telescope site.  Explore its pages.  Allow yourself to dream and be awed at this portal on the magnificence of nature.

Spring Skies at Night   Leave a comment

Spring Constellation Map


There’s a tiny, disk-sized patch of snow behind the museum where I work, a reminder that winter wasn’t all that long ago.  I keep waiting for it to melt, but it refuses, so I ignore it and remember that its water’s going to water the grass it’s hiding.  In defiance, some crocuses finally gathered the gumption to bloom – a month late – and later the daffodils joined in.

Ah, spring!

But if that snow didn’t want to release its chilly grip on Earth, all I had to do was look up and see the spring sky greet me.  Clouds are the only impediment to these yearly harbingers of warmer times.

I’ve got a few favs I eagerly look for when the days begin to lengthen.  When Leo starts strutting up that heavenly hill come February, spring isn’t far behind.


There’s no mistaking him.  He’s got a jewel on one foot, Regulus, magnitude 1.4, and sports another in his tail, Denebola, a bright second-magnitude (2.14) star.  He leads the parade for my next favorite grouping:

The Herdsman

Bootes, the Herdsman.  You can’t mistake him either, although he’s so large it’ll might take a little patience to find him.  His main-feature star, Arcturus, lights up his lap.  He’s sitting down, smoking his pipe, wondering how all those sheep he was supposed to watch disappeared (perhaps Leo ate them?).

Or maybe he’s just trying to hide that hunk of bling behind him, the Northern Crown, or Corona Borealis.  It has a second-magnitude star, Gemma, actually a binary star, or two stars rotating around each other. Its magnitude shifts from 2.21 to 2.32, not very noticeable with the unaided eye.  You’d need seventeen straight days to stare up at it with a telescope to measure the change.

Corona Borealis, Bootes

Credit: Till Credner (Own work: 

We all know how lions pride themselves on their gorgeous manes.  Bootes must share the same sentiment, because between him and Leo, there’s a fantastic group of very faint stars known as Berenice’s Hair.

Berenices Hair            Be's Hair

It’s small, but that doesn’t make it special!  There are eight galaxies within it, several globular clusters, 200 variable stars in its region and if that weren’t enough, the North Galactic Pole is amidst her strands.  But wait!  There’s more!  She gets all twinkly and festive during the Christmas season.  Bragging her own meteor showers during December and January, she peaks from December 18-25, right in time for the holidays.  It’s also important, when looking at her, not to expect to spot the Milky Way.  When her hair is high in the sky, the Milky Way is lower in the sky, on or near the horizon.

And speaking of meteor showers, in mornings you’ll find the Lyrids, or meteor showers occurring near the constellation Lyra.  Those occur at the end of April, peaking between April 22-25.  The radiant is where to look; the meteors seem to be originating from that point.



Now, get off that couch, stop texting, get outside and go have yourselves a great look at the nighttime sky!



Intelligence, Artificially Created   Leave a comment


Credit:  Brain Art Posted on Flickr

If only.

If only there had been a substitute pilot, perhaps one of artificial origin, perhaps the passengers flying that day on Germanwings might’ve experienced an eventless flight.

If only artificial intelligence was just like those robots in those movies, they’d come to the rescue.

Which of the above sentences are true?

Well, in theory, all of them.

Presently, the airline industry is investing in planes operated by either robots or remote operators.  Not exactly drones, these alternatives to flesh-and-blood pilots are being designed to work alongside a pilot or, in some instances, instead of one.  As it is, the technology is already present in F-16 fighter jets and is credited with saving the life of an American pilot during a battle with Islamic State forces.  Airbus uses software that guides the pilots and only seven minutes of the pilot’s time is required to manually fly the plane.  Had there been either software or some sort of AI present in the cabin of the ill-fated Germanwings plane, perhaps things might have turned out differently.

But is this an example of AI?  Not in the purest sense, but it’s a step in the right direction.  Software is making decisions to operate a plane in a specific manner – keeping it aloft – and as such, is preventing tragedy.

With this weekend’s premiere of Ex Machinaa new kind of more complex, believable robot makes its premiere.  True, it’s more about the character of the Ava, the new artificial life form.  But then again, Steven Spielberg already explored such a concept with his 2001 film, A.I. Artificial Intelligence.  Or, why not consider I, Robot – either the film or the masterful Issac Asimov short-story series upon which it’s based?  Heck, right now I’m reading his Caves of Steel and it tells the story of a humanlike robot passing for a detective.

One can correctly argue that true artificial intelligence is the result of a manufactured being (i.e. robot/android) thinking and feeling and dreaming and wishing, like Bicentennial Man.  And yes, Robin Williams’ character Andrew did, in fact, evolve to close as human as one can get, but he had the benefit of multiple upgrade surgeries to accomplish his goal.  But someone had to put that notion in that circuited brain first, right?  So instead of God, man becomes His substitute and creates an artificial version of what He rendered.

Now, here’s something to consider: if artificial intelligence is dependent upon its creator, then will the created be only as smart as the person who coded it?  What exactly is embedded in that code to get that ‘bot a-thinkin’? Will it reflect the coder’s own limited pool of experiences, or will the code be such that it takes on a life of its own via nano-sperm and ovaries, replicating its own Matrix-y ilk?

Ponder that one and see what your brain comes up with – artificial or not.

All-Too-Brief Interlude   2 comments

SF 2015 3

Yours truly indicating future site of Starfleet Academy

Okay, so they haven’t even broken ground yet, much less found Vulcans with whom to work, but right behind me is the spot where, in 2161, The United Federation of Planets is going to set up shop and create a Starfleet Academy.

And just exactly what was I doing in San Francisco?  Not casing out potential academy spots, for the future or other purposes.  No, I accompanied my husband on a business trip and then we had ourselves a much-needed break.

G&A in SF

Gretchen and Andrew obscuring an otherwise excellent view of San Francisco, sporting bike helmets

Andrew’s superior officer in command, a wonderfully generous and kind person, offered to guide us out-of-towners on a bike ride from Fisherman’s Wharf to Sausalito, a distance of roughly 8-10 miles, or 13-16 kilometers.  As you can see, it was a gorgeous day, a bit breezy perhaps but fine enough to hop aboard our trusty rented bikes and fly like the wind over the Golden Gate Bridge.

Did I mention wind?  At some points in the trip, gale-worthy gusts puffed up our jackets and nearly knocked us loose from our seats, but that only added to the excitement.  As I chugged up the occasional hills leading to the bike-riding side of the GGB, I reminded myself that my endeavor paled in comparison to those future cadets intrepidly charging forward on into space.  Tucked away in the back of my mind lurked the possibility of THE ONE, you know, that ginormous earth-sinking quake just waiting for the right moment to unleash its wrath.  You laugh?  My first trip to California (Los Angeles, that time) was punctuated by a 6.0 earthquake, forever imprinting in my mind it could happen again.

Shoving that nasty thought away, I turned onto the bike lane and wheeled my way across this legendary span.  About halfway across, I turned my head and noticed the Pacific shimmer in the afternoon sun, and a fog bank in the distance waiting to spread across the bay and city.  Sky, cloud and sea blended into an undulating band of grey matter converging on the horizon.  Hmm, I thought.  What mysterious being, event, alien ship or malady is concealed behind that?  Will it strike now?  Or have the decency to wait until I make it across before it generates wholesale terror?

For me, what’s also kind of remarkable about cycling next to the Pacific is that I grew up on the Atlantic – literally – at a seaside town in New Jersey.  I’m used to seeing sunrises instead of sunsets over the ocean.  That, and it’s a border, the west end of the continental United States, and beyond it lie countless islands, some states, territories and other nations, until it reaches Asia and Australia, among other places.  It’s a bit humbling to regard the Pacific in those terms, but if I were on a spaceship, it’d be pretty meaningless in terms of distance.  Earthbound me thought it was pretty cool, though.

Considering how fast the Enterprise will need to travel in order to traverse the wide expanse of space, I made good time across the bridge.  In fact, I fairly whizzed across, compared to the nearly standstill traffic (there’s no such thing as rush hour here – it’s all blocked up, all the time).  Then up ahead I noticed a sign: YOUR SPEED – 13 MPH.  Me?  Going 13 miles per hour?  WOW!  I’m a rocket ship racing into space!

All too soon, the span ended and we turned down a sharp switchback hill leading to the road that would take us into Sausalito.  Now I was charging ever close to the future Starfleet Academy – I’d go right past it!  Closing my eyes for just a second, I’d be crossing the paths of the places where Spock, Kirk, Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, Bones, Chekov and the rest got their start.

Finally, we pulled into Sausalito, a ritzy town housing rich, famous and other personalities.  It’s not exactly my taste, but I’d manage it if forced to move there.  All of us gathered in a group, parked our bikes and celebrated our tour’s end by heading right to the nearest cafe and downing glasses of cool beers or chilled California Chardonnays (and oh! They’re like sipping a slice of heaven).  After, we headed back to San Francisco, ready for dinner and an evening of fun, all the while recounting what an amazing day it had been for such an adventure – all right here on Earth.


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