I’ve often been advised I should produce a Blog. A Blog being a worthy enough endeavor, given knowledge, substance and a little fun. Apparently as a writer, I’m a schmuck without a Blog. Then again, I am a schmuck. Been one for years, with or without a Blog. But, what-the-hell. So, after some genial prodding, I knuckled under and knuckled down. My name is John Stuart Goldenberg. I am an American writer living in the south of France, specializing in Hard Science Fiction; dappled with Historical Fiction, General Fiction and even the occasional Mystery.
What is Hard Science Fiction?
Certainly not rockets and ray-guns and thirsty little green vampires. Hans Christian Ørsted (Danish physicist and chemist 1777-1851) coined the Latin-Germanic concatenation: Gedankenexperiment. A method of testing an untestable hypothesis through logic, projection and acuity. Albert Einstein made it famous under the name ‘Thought Experiment.’ Nobel Prize winner, Erwin Schrödinger made it infamous, fuddling his cat under the name ‘The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics ‘or ‘What the Hell?’
I believe truly Hard Science Fiction to be a literate form of Gedankenexperiment. I perhaps flatter myself that my work hopefully, may in part represent such form. Extrapolation based on method, analysis and proven science, insofar as possible. A loose form of abductive logic.
I come honestly by such predilection. My father was recognized as the leading expert in the logistics of nuclear ordinance during the critical cold war period of American-Soviet relations, and a pretty fair Paleontologist as well. My uncle was the youngest PhD Physicist in the world in his day, working under Oppenheimer at Los Alamos and later at Sandia Labs. I’ve known Sir Arthur C. Clarke, Kurt Vonnegut Jr., T.W. Graham Solomons PhD – Organic Chemistry, and Herb Kimmel PhD – Psychology. Clearly, I’ve somehow learned to fend amongst my betters.
So now I’m writing a Blog. This being my first. Truth is, I know zip about Blogs. Well, I suppose I do know some things. A Blog is a sort of a log. Like a ship’s log. Pretty obvious I guess. I used to sail in younger days, and consulted extensively to the aviation industry. Though I’ve never kept a Ship’s Log; and no one, including myself, would trust me within shouting distance of an Aircraft Logbook.
Other logs – blogs that is: Unofficial, personal, just-for-the-hell-of-it blogs. Whatever – are germane recollections, observations, opinions, experiences, fascinating facts, anecdotes, editorials, status, factoids, ravings, histories, obscure & arcane esoterica and interesting news items – things you might evince at cocktail parties, and so on. All written in first-person, informally or formally articulated to a body of readers who may or may not give a tinker’s damn about any of it.
Not encouraging. Few things are.
These Blogs will focus on new-gen science, groundbreaking discoveries, their consequence, new directions in science-fiction, and just about anything that seems interesting. A sort of Science Omnibus. A Somnibus?
Mm … no. Sounds too much like sleepy-time on a Greyhound, or a really boring science blog. Neither my intent.
I reckon I also know a Blog should express a certain point of view: Funny, newsy, factual, sad, opinionated, happy, sarcastic, descriptive, instructive, mad-as-hell, preachy, stylish & trendy, and on and on. Anything fun & interesting works.
For this opening-volley-blog, I’m opting for disappointed. Although I normally tend to favor dumb. But, disappointment’s a nice, kind-of-a non-threatening middle-ground between funny and madder’n hell. Besides, I can’t count the times I’ve heard from others that they were not angry with me, but damned disappointed.
So, I herewith inaugurate this little E-journal-log-blog: SciF-Log. Pronounced sky-flog … not sif-log, which sounds disturbingly like a virulent strain of Venereal Disease. Melville springs to mind.
The original ‘Blog’ was a truncation of Web and Log. Whereas SciF-Log is a sort of a mongrel, hybrid metonymy of:
Science ↔ Science-Fiction ↔ Fiction ↔ Blog ↔ Log
Thus, I can get away with just about anything. Unrestricted by any limiting thematic a priori. Freedom to gallivant. However, this SciF-Log will generally concern itself with all things wondrous and scientific and science-fictiontific. But:
Nothing’s out of bounds.
The next few SciF-Logs will specifically address the fiasco which masqueraded as America’s manned space program. And I kindly suggest, if you have interest in proceeding, you read the next nine or so SciF-Logs in sequence, as there is a certain logical linear progression therein. As to manned spaceflight, it seems like things have been a little quiet out there lately. We’ll explore why. We’ll be forced to squint through it a bit though. Lots of smoke and flapdoodle to navigate. Please understand though:
NASA’s recent achievements in areas unmanned have been extraordinary.
At the same time, make no mistake. Manned space flight plays the vitally strategic role in space science and ultimately, in human destiny. Probes can and do play a spectacular role in exploration and investigation. They do so at a lower cost, often with greater efficiency, and into realms man has neither the resilience, nor the longevity to penetrate. They save lives and forestall great hardship. They are sacrificed without hesitation, or undue loss. We might even exploit probe/robotics to establish bases and deploy observation array. So, why is manned space flight warranted at all?
Two preponderant reasons:
- As will be elaborated in further SciF-Logs, humankind must be disseminated throughout the cosmos if we are to survive. Sort of a deep space game of Whack-a-Mole. Fact is, sooner or later, the Earth will be uninhabitable – whether by our hand, another’s, or cosmic progression, it will thusly attain. This will also be substantiated.
As they say: This is not a question of if, but when. And this may come to pass sooner than we can possibly imagine. When the moment is upon us, we must have already moved extraordinary numbers, in speed, safety and comfort; to pre-qualified and pre-prepared destinations. Worst-case, cryo-suspended human seed, or fetus, or tissue. Whatever. Such demands epochs of planning and supreme effort. Else we die. High time to get started. Time for airhead politicians to stop wanking around. If we blithely entrust them with trillions of dollars, world peace, our well-being, our prosperity and leadership. It’s well past time we demand they assume responsibility for the survival of our specie. That their foresight, what little they exhibit, exceeds the next damned election, or the next blundering crisis. The remedy to this conundrum, actively pursuing survival, at least partly lies with politicians overcoming their fear of proposing and supporting such an undertaking. When the end is neigh it’s easy to take action. It’s also too late.
- Inherent to the nature of exploration and discovery, is a nontrivial, subjective, human Experience. In its absence, a huge preponderance of knowledge becomes tragically and perhaps fatally inaccessible. Humans simply must be missioned. This is not belief. It is fact. And it must be so recognized and fulfilled.
These points will be further expanded and corroborated in forthcoming SciF-Logs.
We fume and whine over ecology, accrued national debt, human intolerance, Political Correctness, war, terrorism, and how these amid many other factors we precipitate – will render the lives of our progeny arduous and burdensome. And they indeed will.
Yet, we owe them a far greater obligation: A clement shot at survival itself. If we don’t prepare now, they will have neither the time nor the material to save themselves. I’m sure they’d thank you for that little shortfall. Big Time.
Having demonstrated the profound depths of my expertise in Blog-smithy-ing, I now immediately regress:
This 1st SciF-Log serves only as an introduction to those to follow. Hopefully this will provide some perspective into the leaning and intent of subsequent SciF-Logs.
As I stated, the next few SciF-Logs will address a topic about which I have been long embittered. In fact, it has alienated me to governance through executive prerogative, altogether and permanently.
Inherited precedence, in particular respective to governmental primacy, evolves too quickly into its own ill-conceived, ponderous and intransigent orthodoxy. Our hitherto failing space program is one such pernicious instance. One that approaches the dark descent into monocracy. But first, with your forbearance, something I also deem essential:
I must make this unequivocally clear:
The forthcoming short series of SciF-Logs, in fact all SciF-Logs, will in no way represent a political viewpoint, or ideolog
I bear no such odious baggage.
And so on. Tedious isn’t it? And this be but a partial list. A great benefit of contemporary democracy. A great burden to contemporary democracy. And a few of these outfits aren’t the least bit democratic. Interesting nonetheless. A cornucopia of alleged solutions to one simple problem:
How to Smoothly Co-exist and Progress
I wholeheartedly subscribe to none. Not a one. I do believe, however – at least in some part – in all of them, with the conspicuous exception of the Prohibition Party.
- I really enjoy a good drink now and again.
- Any reasonably-grounded political concordance embodies some legitimate ethos, not to be rejected out-of-hand.
And here’s why not:
- Name an issue. Any issue. And I can, in fact nearly anyone, can instantly and accurately predict any given party loyalist’s position, on any issue, the second it arises. And I mean INSTANTLY. No to time to discuss, openly debate, or consider the source, or seek out the facts, analyze, consult history, listen to other opinions, consult the media (although their incessant propaganda renders them effectively worthless – all), or simply sit on the back porch and think it out. The Party Lock-Step. Immediate and univocal. Again and again and again. Over and over and over and over. All the stomach can bear.
Ideological loyalty to any party results in a sort of drearily repetitive, dogmatic impenetrability. Incessant prejudgment. Call it cerebral blindness, deafness and politico bigotry – instantly slamming and baring the door to free, open, unbiased, even clement, thought. Damned dangerous. Not even polite.
Ever wonder where the term ‘tinhorn politician’ came from? There are a few interpretations, ranging from H.L. Menken (A tin horn politician with the manner of a rural corn doctor and the mien of a ham actor.) to a two-bit, three-dice gambling game (Chuck-a-luck). But my favorite relates specifically to politicians, as rooted in the old west.
During election campaigns, politicians would rumble a wagon into town proudly bearing five presentments:
1) A bugler bearing a tin horn; and
2) Plenteous barrels of beer; and
3) A few campy banners; and
4) A five Dollar suit; and
5) A big mouth.
Upon entering town, they would gallop down Main Street, blowing their tin horn, raucously proclaiming free beer has blessedly arrived. The townsfolk knew this meant that some windbag politician was there to make promises, drum up votes, and pump them chock full of bullshit. In all likelihood they had no idea who he was, or what he allegedly stood for; and couldn’t have cared less either way. Nonetheless, they came a-running. When the beer was drunk and the speaker winded, all was in readiness. Democracy in action. The Prohibition Party (Temperance Movement in those days.) must have fared poorly indeed.
Tinhorns notwithstanding, why any sentient being would willingly and rapturously abdicate their intellectual independence to think, evaluate and decide, to some pandering politico, or cleverly crafted dogma, is a truly great mystery to me.
In those days the beer wasn’t even cold. Thoroughly bounced and jostled from jolting western trails. A lukewarm, foamy persuasion which plunders the dignity and wisdom from an erstwhile noble-minded human being. Nowadays, it’s words. No beer. Words, words, words, as stale as the beer. And the effect: Exactly the same. Instead of alcohol stultifying their brains, its demagoguery.
I really, honest-to-God, hate the cheering, booing, whistling, screaming, raving, lying. Calculating. Colossally expensive. Insulting, flag-waving, drum-beating, horn-blowing, parading, band-standing, catcalling, crepe-papering, weeping, bannering, ballooning cacophony, with all the pandering drivel that so distinctively typifies American politics. And yet, the whole world seems to adore the spectacle. I don’t.
In these howling angry times, political loyalty itself appears to be the impediment to reason.
Sadly, too often any discussion is met with pejorative and distain. Any straightforward statement is met with offense. Offence conjured from bogus hypersensitivity to truths allegedly inflicted by skillfully concocted and pre-indicted bias – irrespective of whatever the political affiliation.
Interesting. What singular beings these be. Bigots who despise bigotry. Politically Correct zealots who are not Politically Correct. Sociopolitical lemmings lacking the courtesy to plunge in the sea. Beer seems a far more tasteful approach.
Myself? I be an advocate of the classically steadfast political ethic:
A harmonious coalition of one, worshiping only ration.
Be loyal to your spouse, your parents, your posterity, your dog, your cat, your goldfish, your family, yourself (‘to thine own self be true …’ [Shakespeare]), truth, justice, liberty, your friends … any and all things truly warranting fidelity.
But for Chrissake … a political party? Some cobbled and toady ism, of whatever ilk? Some two-bit charismatic leader? Political Correctness? Liberal or conservative, or whatever, you will please render me a break! Better to be shackled in irons – blinders, hobbles, manacles, straight-jacket and frontal lobotomy. All such is anathema to logic and reason.
Refuse folly, whatever its source.
Reject vehemence, regardless of goal.
Rebuff intransigence, no matter what gravitas.
Embrace munificence, wherever it’s found.
Do good things.
Try not to get caught.
A dazzling illumination:
Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons
Kurt Vonnegut Jr.
Delacorte Press – 1974
These SciF-Logs will attempt to present narratives exploring topics very near and dear to many:
Humankind’s future in the universe.
The hopefully auspicious and lasting survival of our specie.
Most certainly not the tiresome harangue of politics.
The megalomaniacal effusion of the tormented malefics among us, absurdly crazed for power. Deceitfully sugar-laden, gilded, gutter-brained and gum-roped people to whom cold, pragmatic, rational thought is a clumsily calculated conundrum.
If only we could have discerned early on, those Devil’s Spawn, those first amongst us rabidly lusting power, wielding the mendacious banner of ‘Leader,’ Eden would abide with us even unto this day.
Is any political individual worthy of admiration?
General William Tecumseh Sherman
“I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.”
So. Now, with the next SciF-Logs, I’ll vent my spleen and throw in my two cents, about a troublesome bollix that’s been dragging on for well over seven years. The shenanigans under discussion in the following SciF-Logs are as totally relevant today as they were over seven years ago. More so in fact. Time passes. And with that passing, these senseless blunders may perhaps be amended. Or compounded. I favor amended. Happily, there seems to be such an amendment in the works. It’s called SLS (Space Launch System) and let’s hope: 1) It works; and 2) No one kills it.
As the great American philosopher George Santayana taught us, ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ I strive to ensure we remember the past follies described herein, with the hope of remedy; but fear we may now be straddling the cusp of yet another bout of dummy forgetfulness.
I resurrect and belabor these issues after these years, in response to the vociferous and divisive furor presently raging exponential across the U.S., swiftly blighting the entire world. In addition, we may actually have the opportunity to mend the foolishness that has so injured us. (SLS) I believe this issue, amongst many others, desperately wants some unemotional examination – certainly not the blind, strident, tedious, bloody-minded obstructionism so widespread, specifically in Washington, the media and on campus – regardless of political orientation – lest we fall prey yet again to the foolishness illuminated herein.
Now, at this landmark watershed in our history-to-be, we just might be able to negate the unwieldy blundering of our recent past. Perhaps we can remedy the smug sectarianism that has so ironically and contradictorily – both paralyzed and incited us – and ironically, lock-stepped and regimented some, while divided all others.
As we are all painfully aware, the primary catalyst engendering the roiling rage permeating these uneasy times, is largely due to the quite natural frustration borne of not being heard.
Not being listened to. Not being taken seriously. Being ignored. Overlooked. Left out. Patronized. Condescended. Disregarded. Out-shouted. Out-taunted. Out-cussed. Peremptorily rebuffed. Dismissively, arrogantly and sarcastically ridiculed and … You get the picture.
Sadly, by its nature, a Blog (even a SciF-Log) is an asynchronous communication device. Hence, it bears the inherent vice of aggravating hell out of you:
‘Who is this dumb bastard? He’s damned sure full of it!’
Good point. Sorry. Little I can do about that. However, I can look to bi-synchronous communications for at least partial mitigation. Therefore I assure you, your comments (Positive and Negative) will be heard, will not be ignored, will be responded to, and will appear verbatim on our web site. A stolid, persistent, and hopefully diverting dialogue.
Comments (Negative or Positive) are most welcome. Please mention the Issue Number of the respective blog, if applicable:
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