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Oceangate Titan

I was not particularly interested in the massive search and rescue operation when the submersible lost contact. I don’t have any particular sympathy for the people who died: Death is a part of life and will happen to everyone, and as far as I am concerned, they had the right to spend their money as they wished doing what they wanted. I don’t even particularly condemn morbid curiosity as a motive for the trip. That would be hypocritical.

I am concerned with the judgement nature has rendered on the CEO’s design philosophy and practice. We don’t know yet which of the many possible points of failure was responsible. Speculation has focused on the shape, composite material, and the possibility that fatigue induced by repeated dives created an unanticipated weakness.

However, we do know that the collective engineering experience of those who design vehicles at the cutting edge of technology for operation in hostile and poorly known environments was repeatedly ignored. We know that the designers took shortcuts in established methods of engineering, such as testing materials and designs to destruction in order establish safety factors for those materials and designs, and staying well within them, before risking precious human lives. We also know that the easiest person to fool is yourself. The CEO of Oceangate Titan was concerned that the opinion of safety experts would kill his dreams. He should have had more respect for the laws of physics. There is no mercy in them, and no forgiveness for errors made by fallible humans. If you ignore the laws that govern the behavior of materials that compose your vessel, the ocean will crush you. In this case, it has rendered an irreversible and final judgement that he was reckless and foolish.

Crossing the bridge

Although I am not entirely happy with the book on MFC programming, I have sufficiently figured out how to direct the compiler so that I can actually compile and test programs. To some extent, this follows the same general order and structure of Petzold’s book. It may take a while before I get to the subjects I am most interested in. The book by Roger Mayne is moving faster and less thoroughly. I had set Petzold aside, but I an picking it up again.

I have also gone back to the beginning with BASIC. It’s absurd that it’s so complicated to “enter a number”, in Windows, unless you know exactly how. Like many things, it’s apparently fairly easy once you now how…but it’s not so easy for a novice to figure out how. I now have a BASIC emulator, so I can go back over instructional code and early games. Some of these could be improved and ported to C and other languages. I’m sure this has already been done, but not by me. As I work through examples, I hope to improve my programming skill. It;s a slow method, but it works for me.

Sort of live

I’m back to reviewing history, at present concentrating on the late medieval period. Since I have picked up programming again after a long hiatus, I’m working with “Windows Programming”, 5th edition, by Petzold. This is 20 years old and I’m rather surprised there hasn’t been a new edition, focused on 64-bit windows, although (looking at Google Play) there are still a lot of 32-bit programs on the market. The basics haven’t changed. I’m working with Visual Studio 2015 (can’t afford to upgrade yet), although the appearance of programs has. There are a couple of other Computer science texts that I also want to be working with, and I’m trying to integrate my computer knowledge. For now, I’m working on the basic input/output functions. Besides putting text in a window, the next chapter involves graphics.

Still playing Elite: Dangerous.

Maybe I am dead

My resolution to write every day fell down a cliff. I was working on my science fiction story, and it was going much too slow, as I fell down a rabbit hole of developing too many minor characters. I did get to the rocket launch, and may post a couple of pictures. I picked up playing Elite: Dangerous and spent too much time with it. My computer can’t quite handle it, and kept crashing. Part of the problem was that it clobbered Firefox, which I managed to recover by refreshing. I also started picking up threads of the Computer programming I set aside a couple of years ago, and today worked through a refresher of the Windows version of “Hello, World”. It’s going to be pricier than I like to update my development software, the hardware is even more so. We shall see what we shall see.


No, I’m not dead yet. I have been continuing to work on early classical history and should be ready for tomorrow. Also working on my novel. I have the first chapter written and am into the second. I’m still working on potential friends and enemies at a fairly slow pace. Sleepy.

Surfacing for Air

The writing is going slow. I’m doing a lot of detail (perhaps too much) on the social structure of the school in my story. I got to a certain point in my star mapping, and decided that it was too easy to get ahead of myself and have to revise later, so I’m slowing that down a bit. In the meantime, I watched “I Used to be Famous” on Netflix, and liked it. I also saw “The School of Good and Evil”, and liked that not so much: It had some nice ideas about good and evil being stereotyped, but otherwise my ideas of good and evil are rather different than in the story.

Where did Friday go?

It went by, I suppose. I took a look at my computer’s time-and-date display and was surprised to see it was Saturday already. I guess it just snuck up on me. I have slow progress on all forms of history; especially since I decided to break down my category of Northeastern US cities into Mid-Atlantic, Midwestern, New England and Northeast Plains cities.

I have also begun work on an alternate SF history, a coming-of-age story about a pair of freinds who combine to develop the space program as it should have been. I begin with them starting high school in 1970. Rather than tell about it, I have been advised, I should write it. It’s going slow, but I think I can manage it. Later stories in this same universe will deal with the human exploration and colonization of the Solar system.

I had been working on a historical fantasy, but I want to begin at the beginning, or as close to it as I can get, and I am too far removed in time, space, and culture from East African Paleolithic hunters and gatherers to the story justice, so I’m putting that one back to sleep.

A question on the Traveller Mailing List (devoted to the Traveller role-playing game) about doing it in 3 dimensions revived an old project I had set aside. I am using the AstroSynthesis program by NBOS software for three-dimensional star mapping. I had reached a certain point, and set it aside because it had become unmanageable. I decided to start over. Since I began the first time, various brown dwarfs substars have been identified, and the locations make a difference in the routes and timing of my science fictional colonization. So far, the direction of development is somewhat resembling the early Alliance-Union universe in the work of C. J. Cherryh, in her “Hinder Stars” region. I haven’t yet quite reached Tau Ceti (which is Pell’s Star, in her universe), but I’m getting close. I also haven’t read her latest in that universe “Alliance Rising”, but I might.

Now I’ve Gone and Done It

That is, restarted a writing project. A few years ago, inspired by the Traveller role-playing game, I envisioned an alternate history in which the efforts to achieve low-cost space travel were more successful and done by private enterprise than NASA. The project got too complex too quickly. I was attempting a NaNoWriMo compeition, and my writing pace fell behind. I kept the idea. I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year…but I’m bringing my own project back from the dead to work on at my own pace.

I should have my next installment of world history (Late classical) ready to put up tomorrow. And, since I just can’t leave it alone, I’m also working on a draft for Version 2 of early prehistory.

Slow to go

Although I have been working on the review of early classical history, this has been going slower than I wanted. For one, the review of African and American Indian peoples took longer than I expected. I have also been working on what I call the lower end of the Knowledge Base, most productively on the inter connections of the areas I call anthropology. For a third, I was working toward New York City as a target for historical investigation.

So, I’ve watched all of the first season of the Rings of Power. I don’t think it lives up to the hype, but it’s not a complete turkey. I’d give it a rating of three stars out of five.

The sixth and final entry of a series I’ve been reading, the “Ageless Mysteries” by Vanessa Nelson came out. This is a sort of police procedural in a fantasy realm, where the heroine is a city watchman who is tasked with investigating a series of murders and other crimes, many of them involving magic, in a city which is ruled by a class of powerful winged beings known as the Ageless. I can’t say much about it without giving spoilers, but I considered it a decent read. The machinations, motives, and fates of the principal antagonists, were finally revealed, and their ends satisfactory. I expected the relationship between Thea and her closest supporter to turn romantic, and it didn’t. Three starts of out of five, for plot threads not quite resolved, and not quite credible politics among the Ageless.


Although I am personally interested in the sciences, I decided several years back that trying to build my knowledge of the world from the bottom up wouldn’t work. Too often I lacked motivation or reason to concentrate on particular topics, so I started to work from the top down, with history. This is working better for me.

In this version of the Knowledge Base, I have reached a point where history is connecting to science. This is more useful for science than it it is for history, because examination of the particular sciences being with history.

I like to start at the beginning, with prehistory. At present, this needs connection to areas of culture, especially areas of material culture. This also involves the examination of history, especially modern history, For the 19th century I am able to roughly review the status of archaeological research among major peoples and somewhat correlate this with the major peoples of prehistory. I plan to proceed along the same lines for the 20th century and 21st centuries in general.

Although it is tempting to begin a rewrite of early prehistory already, using additional connections and developments I have made while working with history in general the periods of antiquity, I think it will be more useful to continue forward.

To this end, I am reviewing the connections to classical and medieval history. From this point onward, I will be concentrating on Western Civilization more than Asiatic peoples, and among Asiatic peoples, more on the Oriental peoples of China, Japan, and Korea more than South Asia. It may take a day or few to work through the connections of nations and peoples, social mechanics and social institutions of classical and medieval history. Since I don’t have a whole lot to say about these because they till too abstract and not very interesting to talk about, I may fill in with references to books and things.