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Issue Number : 44 - Back Home, From the News Page, Bookstore
Just back from three weeks of intensive but enjoyable travel around the western U.S. that took in parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona. The fortuitous timing meant that I was able to take in BayCon, my annual "family" science fiction convention from the days when I lived in California, as well as visit numerous new and old acquaintances in the area, including daughters Debbie, in Grand Junction, CO, and Tina, in Frazier Park, not far north from Los Angeles.
The main reason for the trip, however, was that I had been invited by the organizers to attend as the guest of an international conference of Electric Universe theorists held at the Mirage in Las Vegas. Their intention, they had shamelessly warned me, would be to twist my arm into agreeing to write a popular-level treatment of the subject, somewhat in the style of Kicking the Sacred Cow, that would bring together all of the various aspects that it impinges on, such as cosmology, Solar System dynamics and history, stellar physics, mythology, history, and geology. A challenging task, indeed; but as it so happens, I had been independently harboring thoughts of writing just such a book following my growing interest over recent years in the way these topics inter-relate, and how an electrical interpretation seems to provide a common and readily understandable explanation for much that conventional models find anomalous. My agent, Eleanor Wood, thinks it's a great idea. So I expect to be putting together a proposal for a work along these lines during the months ahead.
From Grand Junction to Las Vegas would normally be an easy drive of well under a day along I-70 and I-15. But, as tends to be our habit, Sheryl and I wandered off instead onto the lesser roads and managed to make it in two days by way of some fantastic scenery on the Continental Divide and an afternoon on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. I'd been to the South Rim some years ago, when a friend and I naively thought we'd "see" the Grand Canyon on the way while driving from central California to Florida. The first breathtaking glimpse was enough to make us realize that this wasn't going to be accomplished in any half-hour stop. We saw what we could, and then checked into the hotel located close to the Rim, having decided to make a day of it starting at 6:00 A.M. the following morning.
It was November, and as dawn broke we had the Canyon to ourselves. I found that it took several hours of contemplation for the vastness of what I was looking at to register. There was nothing familiar to provide a reference for scale. At one point we took bets on how far away a prominent feature on the far side was. I guessed five miles, my friend said three and a half. When we checked with the map, it turned out to be over twenty. Recalibrate entire mental comprehension mechanism.
By late afternoon we had progressed through various vista points without seeing a soul, and were taking in yet another awe-inspiring spectacle from one of the deserted parking areas, when the sound of an approaching motor interrupted the silence. Then a tour bus appeared and disgorged a crowd of jovial, babbling Australian tourists, who immediately formed in relays up to pose for the ritual picture-taking. For several minutes the air rang with shouts of, "Move up, Fred. Closer in, Alice." Click. Click. "Now let's have one of Mary and Joe." Click. Click. Then back in the bus. . . . And they were gone. Silence fell, and all was still once again.
That image has lingered with me since. I can imagine them back home, after coming ten thousand miles: "And that's one of me and the missus when we were at the Grand Canyon." But they were never at the Grand Canyon at all. It had taken my friend and I several hours to "arrive." I doubt if many of them even saw it. For the few brief minutes they were out of the bus, they had their backs to it and were facing the other way. I sometimes think that lots of people live their lives in the same kind of way.
Echoes of an Alien Sky
Reminder--now available in bookstores. Scientists, archeologists, and explorers from a future cooled-down Venus piece together the story of the extinct race that once inhabited Earth.
Short story. The world's illustrious leaders finally press the Button, but nothing works. Scheduled for release in e-format from Jim Baen's Universe, August 1, 2007
Short Story. A convicted killer volunteers to be the guinea-pig for the first mind-downloading experiment. To be included in the anthology Transhuman, due from Baen Books February, 2008
New novel to be released in hardcover by Baen Books in April, 2008. An investigator is sent to find out why people from two previous missions have been disappearing from the Terran base established on a newly discovered planet.
I've been promising for about a hundred years to update the site Biography, which still had me living in California. (I left there in 1988.) An amended version is now posted. Considered to be Work in Progress.
In the last newsletter, I mentioned how the USPS has helped American small businesses and complicated our own shipping procedure by thoughtfully eliminating all Surface Mail--which the majority of people who ordered from overseas preferred. Tina, who takes care of ManyWorlds order processing in California, tells me that while a reduced overseas Media rate does exist, the USPS web site doesn't give details, and neither do post offices carry a manual or chart telling what the rates are. Incredibly, she was told at her local P.O. that the only way they can tell her what postage will apply is by placing the actual package on the scales and seeing what the computer says. Others whom I asked to check have corroborated this. It seems, therefore, that the only way to resolve the craziness is to show up at a post office with a collection of dummy packages, have them assesses for mailing to different destinations, and try to make some kind of sense of results. We're pursuing this, and I hope to have answers and revised rates posted within the next week or two.
Recent additions: (See the Complete List)
I had pretty much decided to lay off Global Warming, at least for a while, because there's not too much more that I could say without starting to get repetitive and risk turning the site into too much of a polemic, which isn't its prime purpose. Besides, once a subject attains the dimensions of religious fanaticism, there's not a lot that words are likely to achieve, and all you can really do is get on with other things while it runs its course. (Scientists that the media don't tell you about are starting to say that the onset of pronounced cooling from around 2020 onward is a lot more likely, and the trend has been evident since 1997. Maybe more on that later.) But reports that schools worldwide are force-feeding children Al Gore's sensationalized disinformation movie as part of a promotional operation that has all the techniques and about as much scientific rigor as an election campaign was too much to ignore. So as a suggested antidote, I've posted a 120-page item-by-item rebuttal from the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
What Darwin Didn't Know, by Geoffrey Simmons. A doctor presents some of the complexities of human physiology and anatomy, and asks if chance-based processes are really capable of such accomplishments.
The Origin, Persistence and Failings of HIV/AIDS Theory, by Henry H. Bauer. An examination of where popular beliefs and perceptions appear to be at variance with the facts.
AIDS: A Second Opinion, by Gary Null. A veteran investigative reporter and health columnist concludes that the conventionally accepted model is in dire need of overhaul.
Poison by Prescription, by John Lauritsen. A professional statistical analyst's assessment of the trials and evaluation procedures whereby a drug previously rejected for cancer treatment because of its toxicity became the approved AIDS medication.
And that's it for the BB at present, due mainly to coming home to the predictable backlog of chores and urgent things in need of attention. Also, summer has returned to relieve the perennial sogginess of County Leitrim, which means that it's time to get back out to the farm-cottage extension and resume the annual war of Hogan versus the Irish construction industry. So more, maybe, on that next time.
In appreciation as always,