Atomic Rockets

I just spent an entire morning reading Atomic Rockets.

I suggest that you do, too (even if it’s not morning). Check out the sidebar links.

Anything that starts out by deconstructing Heinlein’s “Torchships” is gonna be fantastic, in my book (even if the analysis is kind of depressing, in the end).

[I grew up on a diet of E E “Doc” Smith, John W Campbell, and a lot of Heinlein. I’m still a sucker for planet-bashing and all the presumably keen stuff you could do with high power vacuum tubes. We’ve lost something in the transistor age.]

Random Musings

I’ve been digging into more C++ esoterica recently; a result of having to grok a bunch of code written in a group with a completely different mindset. (I may have mis-spelled the word “morals”).

So, I think I know how the seduction starts. You think, “Wouldn’t it be great if we could save some time with a template class that does (something nice)?” And like all roads to perdition it’s great and it works out for a while, until one of three things happens:

(A) It breaks down in an obscure way, and you have to add a bunch of complexity to fix it.

(B) Someone develops unreasonable expectations of it and adds a bunch of complexity to satisfy themselves.

(C) You pay no attention to it for a week or two, but when you come back it’s evolved eyes and tentacles and poison fangs and it’s turning nearby classes into its minions. “God, it’s invaded <stdarg> and moving in on <string>! Get the logic probe! Lay down some suppressing fire in AWRRK!”

I don’t know why (C) seems to happen a lot, but it does.

Practice constant vigilance. We are under attack.


Is there any practical reason to learn Go?

(Other than the usual argument of “It’s always good to stretch your head by learning a new language”).


Borderlands 2 is a lot of fun and it’s cutting into my reading time, dammit. The snarky humor is great.

I think that being bombarded with a zillion different weapons would work a lot better with a good way to manage them. Mostly I just stick with a few that work well, and re-evaluate if I know I’m going to be up against a certain type of baddie. But on the whole, the backpack space is wasted — it’s full all the time — and I’d just like to be able to break stuff down in the field.

(Also, the design of the travel point in the Bloodshot Ramparts is just broken, and probably cost me four hours).


As I write this, my son is filling up a large valley in Minecraft with TNT.


“Wheee! I almost touched the clouds!”

Reminds me of Operation Plowshare.

Someday, if he is interested, I will get him a Real Chemistry Set.  Perhaps we shouldn’t have torn down the cinder-block shed in our back yard.

Monday’s Build

Monday’s build ran short of space,
Tuesday’s build fell on its face,
Wednesday’s build was full of woe,
Thursday’s build had far to go,
Friday’s build was unforgiving,
Saturday’s build was barely living,
But the build that was made on Sunday was bonny and wonderful and great and NO CARRIER

Bicycles and Booms

In 1977 I was a teenager in Fort Collins, Colorado.  It was a relatively small town back then; probably around 40,000 people, not including the students at Colorado State University.  I could bicycle across town to the new city library in a little over ten minutes if I pedaled like a demon and hit the traffic lights just right.  I had a “bookstore tour” that I did on most Saturday mornings.  Bicycles were freedom.

One find spring morning, bicycling into school, I saw a building explode.

It was a particularly clear and calm day, and I was headed down a hill which had a great view of downtown.  I happened to look up at exactly the right moment.  A couple miles away, quite visible in the morning air, I saw a puff of smoke and a fountain of debris.  A few seconds later there was a sharp and very bass “KaBOOM!”.  People heard it in the city of Loveland, ten or fifteen miles away.  Overnight a commercial building had filled up with natural gas, and it detonated around 7 in the morning.  Nobody was hurt, though it blew out windows for several blocks.

I found some pictures here and here and here. The explosion wiped out one of the bookstores on my route.

Also, the CSU chemistry department, whose supplies desk would happily sell chemicals to anyone without asking questions, was quietly asked by the Fort Collins Police Department not to sell nitrates to random people any more, including certain nerdy high school kids. What were they thinking? That we were impressionable and get ideas or something? /That/ horse had left the barn long ago.

Let us hear your pyro stories. 🙂