Cause of SpaceX landing failure found

April 23rd, 2015

The cause of the SpaceX landing failure a couple of weeks ago was a balky throttle valve that kept the engine from responding with the correct thrust. I’ve also heard some speculation that there may have been some aerodynamic off-centre forces caused by landing on the barge instead of on land. I’m sure they’re analyzing that too. The next landing attempt is going to be in June. They’re also testing their reusable Falcon 9R in Texas – the article has a link to a video shot earlier this month.

One Author’s Experience with KDP

April 22nd, 2015

Joanna Cabot of TeleRead has just published a book through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program. It’s a two-part article (part 1 and part 2), especially since Joanna is Canadian, and had to jump through some extra hoops because of that. Part 1 describes the process she went through to create the book, while part 2 describes the publishing process with Amazon. If you’re thinking of self-publishing through Amazon, this is a must read.

I have a book which is up at the Kindle store! As I wrote last month, my desire to publish on the Kindle store was one of the reasons I switched my account over to So, what was my first title? And how did it go?

This was an interesting one. Way back in 2012, I wrote about a book I found on the Kindle, wanted enough to pay more than my usual for, and shelled out a massive $18 to secure a Kindle copy. I was bitterly disappointed to find that this very costly book was riddled with typos from a hack OCR conversion. I reported these to Amazon. Nothing happened. I emailed the author. She was profoundly disinterested.

The book was  new translation of a work which was in the public domain. I found the older translation on the Internet Archive, but of course the conversion from PDF to mobi was badly mangled. I let it be for awhile, and periodically checked to see if Amazon had fixed it. They had not. So finally, I set about correcting the public domain version so that I would have a readable copy.

Another Hugo post

April 21st, 2015

This is probably the best article I’ve read about the Hugo controversy so far. I’m not familiar with author, Philip Sandifer, but he can write and he knows and is passionate about his sujbect. It’s very long, but well worth the time to read. If any of you reading this and don’t know where I stand on the issue, just to save you the time if you disagree with me, here’s a short bit from the author’s concluding segment with which I fully agree:

Fuck you, Theodore Beale

Fuck you for trying to break a thing I loved. Fuck you for doing it to serve your stupid, lame fascist ideology. More to the point, fuck you for your stupid, lame fascist ideology. Your beliefs are horrible. You’re horrible. You’re a nasty, cruel little bully, and I do not like you.

Especially worth reading, at the end of the article, is a discussion of works that should be on the Hugo ballot, but thanks to the Puppies mischief, aren’t.

Some free Neil Gaiman stories

April 20th, 2015

By now you’d probably have to be living under a rock not to know who Neil Gaiman is. At this point, he’s probably the most popular SF author of his generation, in the same league as George R. R. Martin and Stephen King, but they’re both older.  Over the years, Gaiman has made quite a bit of his work freely available and OpenCulture has collected much of it on this page. If you’re not a fan, check it out – I suspect you’ll be one after you read a couple of his stories.

Neil Gaiman is one of the handful of writers who has made comics respectable over the past several decades. He has written some classic children’s stories, plus a novel that will be adapted by HBO. A great deal of his output, though, has been in the form of short stories, and we have pulled together some free copies for you today. Some stories are available in audio and video, others in text. (We have them all separately listed in our collections:  630 Free Audio Books: Download Great Books for Free and 700 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.)

SpaceX landing attempt video

April 15th, 2015

Here’s the hi-res video of the SpaceX landing attempt. They came SO close – it looked like they were right on top of the barge coming down, veered sideways, corrected and toppled because there was still some sideways motion. And if that video is slow motion, they came in a lot faster than I expected.

Demolishing climate change deniers

April 14th, 2015

I’ve been a fan of SF author David Brin for a long time, ever since his first novel Sundiver came out back in the 1980s. He hasn’t been writing a lot of fiction these days, but his blog, Contrary Brin, is always worth reading, and this post more so than most. He starts out by taking a strip off anti-vaxxers, and once he gets warmed up, goes after climate change deniers. He’s a joy to read.

cean acidification, Ocean acidification, Ocean acidification, Ocean acidification,  Ocean acidification, Ocean acidification, Ocean acidification, Ocean acidification,  Ocean acidification, Ocean acidification,  Ocean acidification, Ocean acidification, oh… yeah… and Ocean acidification.

Or else use de-basing the seas. It gets around one of their trick responses.  You’ll see.
Please dig this well. The reason why Fox and pals never mention Ocean Acidification is that there are zero conceivable non-human causes for this extremely blatant trend — caused by rapidly rising, human-generated atmospheric CO2 — that is already killing the seas.

Oh and now we know that CO2-induced ocean acidification was responsible for the greatest mass die-off extinction on Planet Earth, far worse than the asteroid-caused doom of the dinosaurs.

For you denialist-cultists to ignore ocean acidification… shouting “squirrel!” and pointing elsewhere… is the act of psychopaths. Again, just sayin’.