Wednesday, July 27, 2016
To mark the last two days of the Democratic Convention, my collection of forty short stories with political themes – Political Pies – will be free to download on Kindle today and tomorrow.
Monday, July 25, 2016
There were two brothers, one rich the other poor. The poor one tried to make a living selling corn, but didn’t have much success.
One day, he was in the forest with a wheelbarrow when he saw a bare mountain he had never seen before. As he watched it, he saw a dozen great, wild men go to the mountain and cry, “Semsi Mountain, Semsi Mountain, open.” The mountain opened, and the men went inside. When they came out, they carried great sacks, and said, “Semsi Mountain, Semsi Mountain, shut thyself,” and the mountain closed.
Once they were out of sight, the poor brother went to the mountain and called for it to open, and it did. He went inside and saw piles of gold, silver, and jewels. Not sure what to do, the poor brother just filled his pockets with gold. He closed the mountain and went home.
He and his family lived comfortably for some time, but when the money ran out he went to his rich brother and borrowed a bushel container. He went back to the mountain and filled it with the least valuable things, and lived well again.
The rich brother grew curious, and jealous, of where his brother’s money came from. So the next time his brother borrowed the container, the rich brother put some pitch on the bottom. When his brother returned it, there was some money stuck in the pitch. The rich brother threatened the poor brother unless he told him what he was doing. So the poor brother took the rich one to the mountain.
The rich brother went to the mountain and opened it. He went in and filled his pockets with gems. But then he forgot the name of the mountain, calling it Semeli, and it wouldn’t open to let him out. Then the great, wild men returned, and killed him because they thought he was the one who had been stealing from them.
Is this some version of “Open Sesame” from “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves?”
So the poor brother, apparently, didn’t know how to manage his money. And he never thought to buy himself something to carry away the riches, he always had to borrow one from his brother? What happened to his wheelbarrow?
These wild men must have been good accountants if they could tell a pocket full of gold had been taken from a pile.
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
To mark the last two days of the Republican Convention, my collection of forty short stories with political themes - Political Pies - will be free to download on Kindle today and tomorrow.
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Over the last few years a lot of people have caught Mars fever. It seems a week doesn’t go by without a report of some new group wanting to send people to Mars, or some big name in the industry talking about why we have to go to Mars, or articles talking about the glorious future humanity will have on Mars. All of this worries me. In my opinion, a Mars base is currently not sustainable because there’s no way for it to make money. A few missions may fly doing extraordinary science, but if it’s then cancelled for cost the whole Mars Project may just be seen as an expensive stunt.
Fortunately, there are other places in the solar system besides Mars. While bases on the moon and amongst the asteroids won’t be as inspirational as one on Mars, they will have opportunities for businesses to make goods and services as well as profits, meaning less chance of them being outright cancelled. This will make life better on Earth and secure a firm foothold in space for humanity. The essays in “The Moon Before Mars: Why returning to the moon makes more sense than rushing off to Mars” allow me to describe my ideas on what can be accomplished on the moon and with the asteroids, and why Mars isn’t the destiny of humanity its cheerleaders make it out to be. I even made a short video talking more about this.
Here is a brief excerpt:
Many of the people gung-ho on Mars see it as a backup for humanity, in case something terrible happens on Earth. But there are enough metals in the Asteroid Belt to build hundreds of space stations. The population of a community station may only be ten thousand or so, but they would be scattered all over the solar system, each acting as a backup.
And one thing we can do with a hollowed out asteroid or a constructed vessel that can’t be done with Mars, is to put rockets on one and send it off to another star system. So basically, the math comes down to, if we go to Mars we get a planet; but if we go to the asteroids, we get the galaxy. Yes, we’ll do both, but what I realized is that those so focused on Mars, are just thinking too small.