November 12th, 2007

meteor

Leonid meteor shower is upon us!

I'd forgotten about this shower. A couple of days ago, I was up at O'dark-early in the morning and glanced upward. Just as I looked up, I saw a bright streak light up the sky. "Huh," I thought, "what's the likelihood of seeing a meteor at the moment I happened to glance up?" The answer is - during a meteor shower - pretty good.

Here's where you can find the Leonid shower; it'll increase in intensity until its peak on the 18th. Like all meteor showers, it's best seen midnight and later as the night side of the Earth turns into its orbit: We hit more space stuff then, much like a car's windshield hits more bugs than the back window.

Click the image to see the story.

Best,
Chris
mushroom cloud

Cold-War era memories... and a survey

A discussion over at cmt2779's LJ and here on mine got me thinking about my childhood today, specifically how the Cold War influenced my view of the world. Which made me wonder if my experience was typical of my generation the world 'round or if it was uniquely Midwestern US.

Here's a snippet from Survive the Coming Nuclear War:

"Over the past decade we spent $900 million on civil defense, while the Soviets spent $65 billion. One estimate is that in a nuclear war Russia would lose 4 percent of its people -- half what they lost in World War II. Ten of us would die to their one. In yet another estimate we would lose 60 percent of our population, while the Russians would lose 2 percent. Though these figures may vary widely according to which study you consult, the message is clear."

This - combined with the movie Red Dawn - helped shape the young person I was in 1980s Minnesota. When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, I was sitting in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire library when the announcement came over the building's intercom (remember when government buildings had intercoms?). It's difficult to explain the mixed feelings I felt, elation and confusion, discombobulation and clarity for the future. I mean, everything I knew had been framed by the Cold War, and now that had ended. It was like lifting a blanket from the Earth so that we could see the stars again. A long-term future for the human race was possible to see again.

So a survey!

Poll #1087330 Cold War Era (CWE) Media

Did you read Sturgeon's "Thunder and Roses" in your formative years?

Yes.
5(15.6%)
No.
26(81.2%)
Isn't a sturgeon a fish? Since when do they write stories?
1(3.1%)
Who didn't back then?
0(0.0%)

Did you read Haldeman's "The Forever War" in your formative years?

Yes.
10(31.2%)
No.
20(62.5%)
Is this a NeoCon religious tract?
0(0.0%)
Who didn't back then?
1(3.1%)

During the CWE, did you read "How to Survive the Coming Nuclear War" or a similar survival guide?

Yes.
10(31.2%)
No.
19(59.4%)
What kind of question is this? Are you some kind of survivalist nut?
1(3.1%)
Who didn't back then?
1(3.1%)

During the CWE, did you watch "Red Dawn" or its ilk and feel inspired by it to prepare for invasion?

Yes.
7(21.9%)
No.
20(62.5%)
What kind of question is this? Are you some kind of survivalist nut?
1(3.1%)
Who didn't back then?
2(6.2%)

During the CWE, did you watch "The Day After" or its ilk and feel depressed by the inevitability of nuclear war?

Yes.
13(40.6%)
No.
11(34.4%)
You scaredy-cat! We all knew that Reagan would save us from the Reds.
0(0.0%)
Who didn't back then?
3(9.4%)

How likely was nuclear war to your CWE self? (10 for most likely)

Mean: 6.39 Median: 7 Std. Dev 2.52
1
2(6.1%)
2
1(3.0%)
3
3(9.1%)
4
2(6.1%)
5
3(9.1%)
6
2(6.1%)
7
6(18.2%)
8
7(21.2%)
9
5(15.2%)
10
2(6.1%)

How likely is nuclear war in the near future? Not just terrorist attack, but full-scale, nuke-'em-all war? (10 for most likely)

Mean: 3.85 Median: 4 Std. Dev 1.97
1
2(6.1%)
2
8(24.2%)
3
5(15.2%)
4
9(27.3%)
5
2(6.1%)
6
5(15.2%)
7
0(0.0%)
8
1(3.0%)
9
0(0.0%)
10
1(3.0%)

Best,
Chris
Spaceman Spiff damaged spacecraft

Dear LJ hive-mind, help me find a story!

A reader asked if I recognize this story. I don't, but perhaps you do:

A boy is born [possibly in the American mid-west], and before long his parents realize that he is mentally retarded. He makes no attempt at speech. At about the age of 5, his father takes him to a pet shop, hoping that a pet will 'engage' the child. While at the shop, the child suddenly announces 'that one', and points to a particular pup. From then on, the child and the dog are inseparable, and the child rapidly develops mentally, possibly even exceeding 'normal' expectations. Years later, when the boy is perhaps in his late teens and the dog is very old, a situation develops in their small town, wherein a swamp close by is to be drained and back-filled for development. It then transpires that the swamp is in fact the location of a crashed space-ship which is lying buried in the mud,Collapse ) I think I read this sometime in the period 1960 to 1964. Collapse )

Thanks,
Chris