Here is the book trailer for Annihilation from Above:
You can preorder the book on Kindle here. On Tuesday the book comes out. Enjoy this tense, exciting space adventure.
You can preorder the book on Kindle here. On Tuesday the book comes out. Enjoy this tense, exciting space adventure.
"Mining asteroids with robots is common and sometimes the orbit of the rock is changed to facilitate extracting the valuable metals.
"One Monday morning, a car bomb detonates in Manhattan. As law enforcement officials scramble to find who's responsible, it becomes clear that it was a distraction. Terrorists have hijacked an asteroid and put in an orbit to hit the Earth. Suddenly the race is on to stop it.
"While FBI agent Juanita Flores pursues the bombers, astronauts Howard Drayden and Johnny Park put their lives on the line to save millions. Can Flores find who is responsible while Drayden and Park endeavor to avert the disaster in time?"
Enjoy this fast-paced thriller, available on Amazon on Tuesday. You can pre-order it on Kindle or get the paperback or hardback now.
All the links you could ever need are on my website.
|Graphic by Lynn D. Townsend|
But I'm thinking more about the censorship of bad word in television and print. The traditional networks still probably don't allow "swear words" on the air. But cable networks do. I've heard "shit" more times on Better Call Saul than I can remember. Also streaming services don't seem to care. There was a streamed episode of Evil where "fuck" was said numerous times. Even I got tired of it. Rabbit/Hole had numerous "fuck" exclamations, too.
There is a Martin Scorsese film called The Departed. One of the characters, played by Jack Nicholson, used the c-word constantly. "He's a c-word, they are c-words, do they think we're c-words?" I saw that it was going to be on television and I wondered how they edited that. I wasn't interested enough to watch it. (Don't get me wrong, The Departed is an excellent film.)
Some networks bleep out "bad" words and blur the mouths of the speaker in shows and live broadcasts (and some not-so-live). Live broadcasts are usually on a 10-second delay so bad words can be bleeped or just silenced (such as at the Oscars last year). (Less than 30 minutes later I found online an un-edit version of what happened with Will Smith and Chris Rock.)
In books and movies, it's anything goes. Same with magazines it seems, based on the policies of the publisher. One magazine I read edits out swear words with asterisks. Such as "sh*t" and "f**k." I think this is kind of ridiculous since everyone knows what word they are censoring. But there's a level of decorum with not putting in the actual word. And those words are only used when quoting someone.
In a recent edition of Car and Driver, (June 2022) they jokingly called luxury SUVs "NFTs" and said that stood for "Nice F----ing Trucks." (NFTs are, of course, Non-Fungible Tokens.)
Now, when I do freelance writing, I never use swear words, even if the person I'm interviewing does. The magazines I write for don't allow them. And I'm okay with that. They pay the bills, they can have whatever policy they want.
Another thing that cracks me up is people saying "lmbo" instead of "lmao" because "ass" is a bad word.
When I'm writing fiction, I don't care. I'll use any word I think is appropriate. I don't use swear words gratuitously, but I'll throw out an f-bomb if it fits.
What do you think of bad language in media such as broadcast and print? Do you like to see it censored out, or do you prefer it left as is? Let me know in the comments below.
Mining asteroids with robots is common and sometimes the orbit of the rock is changed to facilitate extracting the valuable metals.
One Monday morning, a car bomb detonates in Manhattan. As law enforcement officials scramble to find who's responsible, it becomes clear that it was a distraction. Terrorists have hijacked an asteroid and put in an orbit to hit the Earth. Suddenly the race is on to stop it.
While FBI agent Juanita Flores pursues the bombers, astronauts Howard Drayden and Johnny Park put their lives on the line to save millions. Can Flores find who is responsible while Drayden and Park endeavor to avert the disaster in time?
Get ready for your space adventure here.
First is the Corvette Stingray and the Corvette Z06. The latter has 670 horsepower and a track-tuned suspension. It goes from zero to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds. And there will likely be a ZR1 variant with more than 670 horsepower, as in over 800. Then there's the Corvette Zora (named after Corvette engineer Arkus-Duntov). It could have both 1,000 hp and an extra luxurious interior to maybe compete with cars such as the Ferrari 812 Superfast luxury cruiser.
And the Corvette E-ray is a hybrid that uses electric motors and a small battery to enhance performance. There is nothing green about this car. Well, except maybe one of the available colors.
Other amazing vehicles include the Ford Raptor R pickup with a Mustang Shelby engine making just over 700 horsepower. It was built to compete with the Ram 1500 TRX which has a 703 horsepower engine. Both are off-road capable if that's your thing (I'm more of a pavement guy).
I'm going to ignore in this post Ferraris and Lamborghinis and other hypercars. Keep this somewhat affordable.
The BMW M5 and the Audi RS7 are both high-horsepower sedans with the last of the V8s. Unfortunately, Audi is going all electric soon as penance for VW's diesel emissions scandal (Audi is owned by VW).
I would love to own a Corvette Z06 again. But I can't justify it. Plus, I'd need a bigger garage.
If you want to spend a lot of money, there's the 986 horsepower Ferrari SF90. Also a hybrid like the Corvette E-ray, it actually gets decent mileage for a supercar. But it costs over half a million dollars!
How do you feel about high-horsepower/fast cars? A relic of the past or a great send off for the internal combustion engine? Let me know in the comments below.
I don't know what I'm going to do now after the service ends in late September. I might have to figure out how RedBox works. Or something. It seems to get all the new released movies on streaming you have to subscribe to about four services (Disney+, Paramount+, Hulu, and HBOMax). Plus maybe Netflix. I already subscribe to Disney+ (for Star Wars, Pixar, and Marvel) and Paramount+ (for Star Trek).
I'm really not happy about this at all. But I understand that it's probably not making as much money as Netflix's streaming service is. It's a decision that is best for the company, but not for its customers.
I've been a very loyal customer for 21 years. I put up with them delaying new DVD releases for four weeks. I put up with them throttling me (not sending me new releases) because I sent back movies too fast and too often. I put up with the time it took to get a disc mailed to me going from one day to five days.
And "mailing the movie" is sort of a ritual event in my household. We drive through the Post Office parking lot to the mailbox and put it in. Then, if the weather is good, I drive down the interstate practicing on-ramp and off-ramp road racing. Going to have to figure out a way/reason to do that.
Do you use DVD.com for movies? If so, how do you feel about this move. Let me know in the comments below.
But AI is not just for fake girlfriends. I asked the chatbot ChatGPT to write a love story. This is what it wrote:
Once upon a time, in a small village, lived a beautiful young woman named Ava. She was kind and loving, always putting others before herself. Ava had many suitors, but her heart longed for someone special, someone who would love and cherish her for who she truly was.
One day, while she was walking in the forest, Ava stumbled upon a young man who was injured. He was lying on the ground, and Ava immediately ran to his side to help. The young man's name was Jack, and he was a traveling musician. Jack had been attacked by bandits while on his journey, and Ava had come just in time to save him.
Ava took Jack to her home and nursed him back to health. Over the next few weeks, Ava and Jack grew to be very close friends. Jack would sing for Ava every night, and she would listen in awe as his beautiful voice filled the room. Ava was struck by Jack's kindness, his passion for life, and his love for music.
As Jack's strength returned, he knew that he couldn't leave Ava's side. He had fallen in love with her, and he wanted to spend the rest of his life by her side. Jack mustered up the courage to tell Ava how he felt, and to his surprise, Ava felt the same way. They both knew that they had found something special, something worth holding onto.
Ava and Jack were soon married, and they lived happily ever after. They traveled the world together, singing and playing music, always finding new adventures and new ways to love each other. And every night, as they drifted off to sleep, they knew that they had found their true soulmate, their one true love.
Years passed, and Ava and Jack grew old together. They still laughed, they still danced, and they still loved each other as much as they did on that fateful day in the forest. And as they held each other tight on their final night, they smiled, knowing that their love story would live on, inspiring others to follow in their footsteps and find their own true love.
Not great. As a friend of mine pointed out, it's all telling and no showing. But it's a start. How soon until AI puts writers, lawyers, doctors, referees, etc. out of business? Maybe I'm glad I'm old and won't live to see it. Or I might. It might happen faster then I think.
What do you think of the story? Is AI going to destroy writers' jobs? Or other jobs? Let me know in the comments below.
|An AI girlfriend ad|
The internet has allowed people to pull out of real life to be more engaged with people across the world. Between social media and chat apps such as Discord, and now there's VR chat apps, people can live in cyberspace and not the real world as much as they want (or can).
Lately on Facebook, I've been seeing ads for, no kidding, an AI girlfriend. I could see this really appealing to some people. Shy, introverted types like me. (I don't need an AI girlfriend, I have a real-life wife.)
Reminds me of this Futurama episode "I Dated a Robot" and the "hygiene movie."
Is this the future? People interacting with AI more than other humans? There's no angst (does she love me back?). Not awkwardness, probably. Maybe also AI psychologists and AI doctors and AI lawyers. This is a disturbing trend in a way and it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.
How do you feel about the AI trend? Is this the future of less human-to-human interaction and more human-to-computer connections? Let me know in the comments below.
City Lights is a film written and directed by Charlie Chaplin. Despite the fact that movies had sound (i.e., were "talkies"), City Lights has no dialogue. The soundtrack only has music and some sound effects. Dialogue was minimal and handled by intertitles as would happen in a silent film.
When I watch very old movies, especially comedies, I usually find them trite and corny. I recently watched The General, made in 1926, and it had that problem. In fact, I found it boring.
But with City Lights, I laughed a lot. Just shows the genius of Chaplin that his movie is funny 92 years after it was made. The story line is a little ridiculous, but that just sets up the humor. Chaplin is a tramp (as usual) who a millionaire adopts, but only when he's drunk. The tramp is in love with a blind flower girl (a woman who sells flowers on the street; it was the Great Depression, after all) and uses the millionaire's car and money to impress her.
This movie was laugh-out-loud funny. I recommend checking it out (it is available on DVD.com).
How do you feel about old comedy movies. Do you find them boring or corny or funny. Let me know in the comments below.
The above photo is being used under Section 107 of the Copyright Act: fair usage.
School boosters are using NIL as a recruitment device. A player choose a certain university to play football at because the boosters promised him $13 million in NIL money. I mean, we might as well just give up and start paying college football players like we do NFL players. Wave $13 million in front of an 18-year-old kid and he'll probably ask "Where do I sign?" (Wave $13 million in front of anybody and they'll likely ask "Where do I sign?")
And what happens when after his first successful year at that school, he gets a better offer and uses the transfer portal to go to a new school?
What happens when Phil Knight figures this out and manages to get huge NIL contracts with Nike for good players to go to Oregon?
This will put the best players not at the best schools for them and their football career, but at the schools whose boosters can come up with the most NIL money.
As much as I loath NCAA micromanaging sports recruiting (which it is doing less of since a Supreme Court decision), I think it should put a stop to this kind of big money dealing when it comes to 18-year-old kids. If you waived $13 million in front of me when I was 18, I would have jumped at it even if it wasn't the best thing for me.
How do you feel about this abuse of NIL? Should the NCAA put a stop to it? Let me know in the comments below.
When I'm awake, I have no problem with elevators. I ride in them all the time.
But when I'm dreaming, elevators are scary. They never work right in my dreams. And who dreams about elevators, anyway?
A recent dream I had I was at a military facility and there were two elevators, one for officers and one for everyone else. I took the one for officers (I never was an officer in the military). It was fast. So fast that when it went down, your feet left the floor. But it was so fast, it didn't stop long enough where I wanted to get off to get out the door. So I had to go back up (my knees bent as it went so fast). I don't remember how I got off of it but then I was talking to my brother about guns in the dream.
Elevators in my dreams never work correctly. They take me to the wrong floor or the wrong part of the floor (moving sideways, apparently), or even the wrong building or a totally different place as if they were a portal of some kind. And this is a recurring theme in my dreams. I don't have elevators in every dream (lots of cars, though), but when I do, it's not going to work right.
Do you have recurring themes in your dreams? Do you think I subconsciously fear elevators? Let me know in the comments below.
I clicked on the YouTube link in Google to hear the song. And I heard seemingly random pops and clicks in the recording. Being an older fellow, I immediately realized that the YouTube video was recorded off a vinyl record and the pops and clicks are what vinyl records develop if they aren't cared for lovingly. And maybe even if. And we used to put up with it because that was the only way to enjoy music other than listen to the radio (where you didn't have a choice of what to hear).
Later cassette tapes came out but they had "tape hiss." And, yes, I'm ignoring 8-tracks.
I remember when CDs came out and I first listened to them and they were amazing. No pops and clicks and the music was as clear as anything. The first CD I bought was Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits because it had "Money for Nothing" on it. I also bought it on cassette so I could listen to it in my car.
CDs lasted a good long time (maybe 20 years or so) before digital music came out on iPods. Now we can download music or stream it. But it all sounds good compared to what we used to have. We are spoiled these days.
And yes, I know, some people are going back to vinyl. Don't as me why.
Do you remember vinyl records? Or 8-tracks? Let me know in the comments below.
The NCAA is, for some reason, the unquestioned, all-powerful leader of all college and university intercollegiate sports. Never quite understood why.
Not sure how much I like this NIL stuff. One Gonzaga University basketball player has done multiple ads for a Spokane Indian casino. The ironic thing is, Gonzaga is a Jesuit school and the player is working with a casino.
I suppose this is a way for players to make a little money. But in some cases, it could be a lot of money. Just depends on how marketable the player is. I've heard of college sports players hiring agents for this purpose.
Also, for years the NCAA and the universities/colleges have used the players' NIL for promotional purposes without compensation to the player. Now maybe they will have to.
But I see large possibilities for abuse and exploitation of young students. This is an experiment that will have to be borne out.
How do you feel about NIL? Does it worry you or not? Let me know in the comments below.
And I thought about when I was three years old. Now, I don't specifically remember much from when I was three years old (except the John F. Kennedy funeral that I came across one day on television and thought it was a boring parade). But I do know that my electronic entertainment options were two black and white television channels. I lived in a rural area of Idaho and there were, literally, only two channels. (This was long before cable television.) I think we had an antenna on the roof, not rabbit ears.
And I, as the youngest, was the remote.
We did, occasionally, get to go see a movie at the theater. Disney movies, mainly. I didn't know what a "soundtrack" was until I bought the soundtrack (on two vinyl records) for Star Wars.
We had two channels until early 1970s when we got a PBS station. Then in 1976, we got a third commercial station. Cable television came at about the same time. I remember my parents being unhappy that HBO was going to show R-rated movies. My thought was, "Don't get HBO, it's an extra cost anyway."
My parents didn't get a color television until about 1968. Computers? Tablets? Smart phones? All many decades away.
Kids today are growing up in a completely different environment than I did. They have access to all sorts of thing both good and bad. Parents need to keep an eye on what their kids are doing.
Did you grow up under different circumstances? Which did you think was better, then or now? Let me know in the comments below.
I try to write a blog post once a week. Sometimes I get ahead of myself and have a few lined up.
I can't imagine what a blog post written by AI would look like (probably less spelling errors). And I wonder what it costs (I'm sure it's not free). On their website (jasper.ai), They claim to have 3,000+ 5-star reviews. And they say, "Artificial intelligence makes it fast & easy to create content for your blog, social media, website, and more!"
There's an offer for 10,000 free words. But then they get into plans, the cheapest of which is $40 a month. But they try to upsell you to "Boss" level with is $82/month.
I'd almost like to try it, but I don't want to spend the money.
Interestingly, an AI expert says that 90% of online content could be produced by A.I. by 2025. Which isn't far away.
And then there's ChatGPT, an AI chat bot. It's supposed to do amazing things. I just went there and was told it was "over capacity."
What do you think about blog posts written by AI or ChatGPT? Is this the future? Let me know in the comments below.
One example is waiting in line for movies to try to get good seats. I remember waiting in line for two hours to see Lord of the Rings: Return of the King in Seattle. I still got lousy seats because, apparently, I didn't start waiting in line early enough.
My idea to reduce this inefficiency was have movie theaters charge more for opening days and then have the price of tickets reduced as the film was out more. That would mean people who really wanted to see it early would pay more to do so, and not have to wait in line as much if at all.
Now, AMC Theaters is trying another idea: charge more for good seats.
This has met with universal derision on the news programs I've watched. Nobody seems to like this idea.
But I do. I'd gladly pay more for a good seat so I didn't have to wait in line for two or more hours. (Full: disclosure: the last time I waiting in line for a movie was Return of the King.) This would eliminate an inefficiency in the economy. To me it's a win-win. You don't want to pay more for a good seat, you can sit in a not-so-good seat.
I would change this a bit, though. I would stop this pricing once the movie has been out for a while and there are no longer lines. When I show up for a movie and there's almost no one else there, I wouldn't want to pay more for a good seat.
What do you think of this idea? Good idea or bad? Let me know in the comments below.
(I put this under "science" because economics is called "the dismal science.")
The lake was Lake Lenore which is just off Highway 17 south of Grand Coulee and north of the town of Soap Lake.
Watch the video, it's interesting.
When the sodium hits the water, it reacts violently as the metal gives up an electron easily (it has only one in its outer valence) to the water (which is normally not a very reactive substance).
The sodium and water reaction makes sodium hydroxide and hydrogen gas. Because the reaction is very exothermic, the hydrogen gas can ignite to react with the oxygen in the air to make more water. Here is the balanced formula of the sodium reaction (I can't do subscripts):
2Na(s) + 2H2O → 2NaOH(aq) + H2(g)
The (s) means "solid," the (aq) means "aqueous," and the (g) means "gas."
The hydrogen plus oxygen reaction looks like this:
2H2(g) + O2(g) → 2H2O
Interestingly, chlorine has only seven electrons in its outer valence. It wants eight to be stable. This is why chlorine is very reactive, too. When you combine it with sodium, it gains an electron from the sodium and they are both stable. This makes sodium chloride or table salt.
These days, Lake Lenore is stocked with fish and is a popular recreational spot.
What do you think of the Army's method of disposal of metallic sodium. Let me know in the comments below.
Let me explain. There are two most vulnerable parts of the body: the heart and the brain. Now the heard is buried inside the chest and protected somewhat by the ribcage. But the brain... the brain is protected by a shell of bone (the skull) but it sticks out on top on the end of an appendage (the neck). And the neck, to be honest, isn't that tough.
And, because the brain needs a lot of blood, and it is farther from the heart in the head, critical veins and arteries run through the neck. Not to mention nerves.
Now, maybe evolution thought our eyes should be high up to see threats better. And, for some reason, wanted a short run of the optic nerves. (Actually, I read somewhere that the optic nerves and the retina are extensions of the brain.) So it put the brain high as possible. And, apparently this is helps with survival more than protecting the brain like the heart.
So maybe evolution didn't mess up.
What do you think? Let me know in the comments below.
This year is unusual for me because I've seen three of the ten Best Picture nominees. Usually I'm lucky to have seen one of them.
The nominees are (see what I did there?) and my opinion of them are (ones I've seen are bold):
All Quiet on the Western Front (I assume a remake of the WWI movie. Never heard about it until today. It's on Netflix and I don't have that service anymore because I wasn't watching it.)
Avatar: The Way of Water (Ratings bait to get people to watch the ceremony. Haven't seen it.)
The Banshees of Inisherin (Never heard of it)
Elvis (Good movie. Was mostly centered on Col. Tom Parker)
Everything Everywhere All at Once (Good movie but hard to follow)
The Fabelmans (In my DVD.com queue. Suppose to get it in February)
Tár (Haven't seen it)
Top Gun: Maverick (Also ratings bait. Good, fun movie but not Oscar material.)
Triangle of Sadness (Never heard of it.)
Women Talking (Ditto.)
I remember when the Academy increased the best picture nominees to ten to, once again, get more people to watch.
I might watch a little of the ceremony. But I doubt it. I just don't care. Now if Will Smith can slap someone, that might be interesting.
How do you feel about the Oscar nominations? Let me know in the comments below.
My car has a problem in winter. Not that it doesn't handle snow well. It does. Put on a set of traction tires and it's a mountain goat in the snow.
No, the problem is the backup camera gets dirty and therefore almost useless. Here's what it looks like:
That's because the camera is on the exterior of the vehicle:
So I have to clean it regularly. When it's clean, it looks like this:
Which doesn't last long in wet/snowy conditions.
My wife drives a Volkswagen GTI and it has a brilliant design on its backup camera. It sits behind the rear logo where it stays clean:
And when she puts the car in reverse, the logo pops open to expose the camera:
I think this is amazing and a brilliant design. Why doesn't my car have something similar?
I love good design. And I'm mostly happy with my car, don't get me wrong. It just has this one flaw my wife's car doesn't.
What's interesting about playing Texas is that their coach is Steve Sarkisian who, from 2009 to 2013, was the coach at Washington. He left to coach USC and the Huskies brought in Chris Petersen to lead the team. Petersen took the Huskies to the CFP!
Due to being in Texas, the Alamo Bowl was like playing on Texas' home field. San Antonio is only 79 miles from Austin by car (I'm amazed anything in Texas is that close). Attendance at the game was 62,730 (which is pretty good for a bowl game), almost all of it Texas fans. Crowd noise was definitely a factor.
Quarterback Michael Penix had trouble connecting on long passes. He completed none. Either he overshot or the Texas secondary stopped the catches. But he did well on shorter passes and managed to eclipse Cody Pickett's record for passing yards in a single season.
The officials didn't call an obvious pass interference penalty and reduced a roughing-the-kicker to running-into-the-kicker.
But still, the Huskies were never behind and won the game 20-27, finishing their season 11-2.
The final AP and CFP rankings will probably come out after the National Championship game on January 9th. I suspect we'll go up in both.
This has been an amazing year, especially after last year when they were 4-12. Coach DeBoer turned the program around so fast. Maybe next year we'll be 11-1 in the regular season and go to the CFP like we did in 2016 under Coach Petersen. Who knows? I just know I'm looking forward to it.
The Pac-12 sent seven teams to bowl games this year. But they ended up 3-4 after losing both New Years Day games (which were actually played 1/2/23). Two of the losses were razor thin, one going into overtime. But Washington State and Utah both lost big. Utah was playing Penn State in the Rose Bowl.
I was hoping the Pac-12 would do better this year. Lately it seems the conference has trouble winning bowl games. Again, there's next year.