Saturday, December 31, 2022

'What Dreams They Had' - Background Research


Just were do ‘traditions’ come from? 

What constitutes ‘authentic’ tradition?

Closest to the elements given below (a)

Dream Catchers are attributed uniformly in descriptions to the Ojibwe, but the making and use had dispersed to other Nations, the Lakota often mentioned.
The core of the legend is :

“ As the legend goes, according to Longboat, "there was a very special woman who was responsible for the children. Her name was Spider Woman, a name likely given as was customary in Indian tradition.
"Her job," said Longboat, "was to web these dream catchers and hang them above a baby's cradle board while the infant was sleeping. As its popularity increased, however, it proved too much for Spider Woman to take on because she could not travel from one location to another and try to look after all of the children.
"So, at that time, she passed the webbing (technique) down to the aunties, grandmothers and the mothers, to look after the webbing for the children and the young.” ” (1)

There may be no other First Nations object that as been so massively appropriated by outside cultures. To the point any attempt at finding design definitions becomes almost impossible. This really should be no great surprise, given how individual lines to tradition have been shattered at European hands. (2)

The following elements appear to be involved :
- Makers : uniformly, the creation was in the hands of grandmothers, aunties, mothers
- Size : for the original purpose of child protection, 3 - 5 inches
- Materials : frame of willow, wrapped in leather, web of sinew
- Form : exterior frame is circular "it was made in a circle ? a representation of the sun that travels across the earth." Other references state the circle also represents the shape of the full moon. However, a tear drop (snowshoe?) shape, frame ends crossed and to the top, also is mentioned (no symbology available).
- Webbing : The ‘making of’ references state the interior web starts at the hanging point and consists of a series of loose loops around the frame, with additional loops progressing towards the centre. All formed from the same length of cord, so resembling a spiders web. This suggests the webbing is more irregular than symmetrical. (3)
- Attachments : The largest variation in description comes in the number of starting loops (there appears no ‘standard’) :
8 for the legs of Spider Woman
7 for the Grandfathers / Prophecies
5 for the sky shapes
13 for the lunar cycle
28 for the days in a lunar month
- Centre : The webbing ends in the centre as a perfect circle. The purpose is to allow ‘good dreams’ to pass through, the evil ones caught in the web, to evaporate in the rising sun.
- Feather : A feather hangs from the dream catcher, which dribbles the passed good dreams down on to the sleeping child.
Longboat states a single feather, ‘owl feather for women, eagle feather for men’. A single feather is attached to the end of the web forming cord, so hanging from the central circle. (4)
- Beads : One source stated that glass beads (obviously post-European) were added originally to replace feathers, at a point where many First Nations ritual practices were outlawed, including the passing and use of certain feather types. Other interpretations
1 for the Creator (placed in the exact centre)
3 for the Three Fires (the Potowotami, Ottawa and Chippewa Nations)
4 for the Four Winds (see below)
- Central X : Used in some examples, marking the Four Winds (compass points)

At this point in time, it is hard not to imagine the dream catcher as a cultural object has now descended totally within the public domain. (A perfect example is the massive and rambling discussion provoked with the commentary "Are Dream Catchers Evil?")

It is worth noting that in an attempt to illustrate this commentary - it proved virtually impossible to find an image of the most basic dream catcher as defined by the elements listed above. (5) 

There are two primary reasons that I can see for this :
a) MASSIVE ‘cultural appropriation by the New Age pagans
b) the inherent design potentials of the basic elements.
c) A flood of commercial versions of what is at core a simple object to manufacture

'The Dream Catcher' - use for a Hollywood style horror film!

Two main references used (from many sought over the internet)
Aboriginal Multi-Media Society of Alberta
Dream Catchers

1) All quotes from Bev Longboat, ‘the executive director at the Niwasa (Little Ones) Head Start Program at Six Nations Reserve near Brantford, Ont’.  (see link above)

2) It has been pointed out that there are several problems with any attempt to gather this kind of information :
a) Individual Nation groups will have different details, perhaps down to a local geographic level.
b) The line of historic through traditional to modern practice has been completely shattered through European impositions (read ‘intentional destruction’).
c) There has been considerable (and understandable) ‘re-invention’, now itself dating back to a period (1960’s - 70’s) starting to be shrouded in memory.
d) Add to this the problem of a difference between definitions of ‘traditional’ (‘what my grandmother told me’) and ‘historical’ (dated objects or writings). This last may reflect my own (‘Western’ / European) perceptions, especially since my focus is to time measured in centuries, not generations - especially since I now myself could be considered a ‘grandfather’ by count of years.

3) A feature of so many modern interpretations is the web having machine like mathematical / symmetrical patterns.

4) Modern interpretations also all show many variations in the number of feathers attached, with multiples tied to the bottom edge of the external frame. Almost uniformly, feathers so attached have cord or lacing over the bare shaft of the feather, with at least one bead inserted on to the shaft.

5) try :
I scrolled down through at least 100 images - to the point were it was obvious the search engine was loosing track and getting very derivative.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

‘What did you expect? - Aliens…’ (10 Lines X2)

We called them ‘Bugs’, although they had no relationship to Terra’s insects, they did come in a bewildering range of sizes, shapes - and functions.

The species is designated as ‘Maggots’, as like our Worker nymphs, they also have little in terms of exterior features to distinguish any one from another.

The range of separate types is mind boggling, each physically adapted to a specific function, all unable to perform tasks outside of that narrow role, all without any noticeable free will.

They are all undifferentiated in structure, with such minor differences in physical and mental capabilities as to be essentially unable to function beyond the most general of roles.

Instead of employing mechanisms of any kind, there has been deliberate genetic manipulation of different ancestral species for capabilities that we would utilize machines for, including construction, weapons, up to interstellar space borne tasks.

Although in their naked state each is almost pathetically in-effective, the species has significant ability to manipulate their physical environment, creating a huge inventory of mechanisms allowing them to engage in support, warfare and even space travel.

Many of the simpler types, although well suited to specific functions and present in massive numbers, appear almost mindless individually, obviously under the central control of a limited number of highly intelligent ‘Brain Bugs’, who appear to direct actions telepathically.

The exact method of co-ordination and control of group actions remains unclear, with each individual appearing to have the ability to not only self direct and improvise, but also to adopt effective levels of function outside it’s equipped primary role.

Any alien occupation will be carried out in significant force, with a full range of functional types included, with hardened surface support and underground living structures to be constructed with alarming speed by non-combatant ‘worker’ units.

Due to lack of specialization, the building of alien surface installations can be expected to be slow, but partially compensated by the ability of individuals to effectively operate a bewildering number of uniquely purposed mechanisms for construction and weapons emplacements.

On the whole, the only way to defeat any incursion will be to kill them all, with enemy forces expected to be individually easy to destroy, but present in such huge numbers and widely differing functions, that body counts of hundreds to one should be prepared for.

Overrunning enemy forces will require expenditure of significant numbers of combined types of warrior purpose spawn, as each individual Maggot can be expected to be able to mount significant destructive power, even able to shift from close quarters, ranged, to even flight attacks through use of the associated mechanisms.

Unfortunately, any attempt to fully eradicate a full infestation will be extremely difficult, as a Bug Hive can remain fully functional within sub surface chambers, exploiting underground resources, so even complete nuclear sterilization of a planet’s surface has marginal impact.

Fortunately the Maggots typically only make full use of above ground installations, so surface scouring can usually remove their presence, will still allowing for our effective use of the normal below ground colony building process.

To offset this, our forces have proved superior in all space environment combat, the tactical flexibility of pilots and offensive capabilities of even small ships able to easily defeat even significant friend to foe ratios of the single purpose craft present in Bug fleets.

To balance this surface action advantage, individual functional spawn have proved extremely vulnerable during travel in space, so the alternative of dropping asteroids from high orbit for impact effects is to be chosen as a preparation to surface actions.

It remains uncertain exactly what the internal command and control structure is within an individual Hive, and even vaguer what exists between separated colonies, with the analogy of terrestrial termites being the usual suggestion, if unlikely to be more than a rough approximation.

Just how an association of such independently minded parts could possibly function as a integrated whole is difficult to understand, with the yearly group migration of homeworld vaxim perhaps presenting a model, although that is not a tool using species.

So this star spanning conflict would rage on, the enormous differences between the parent species involved making even any communication, much less understanding and accommodation, virtually impossible.

Top Image
Artist not named (from Blizzard ?)

Column Images
Charts compiled by ‘xiaorobear

Apologies for the spacing - blame Blogger. 

‘Where did THAT come from?’
Maybe not where it might first appear, as suggested by content and the illustrations chosen.

‘Well, you know - Aliens…’
That is a paraphrase of a poorly remembered line from a film (somewhere)

But that’s not the start either.

Recently I had managed to get all three of Jack Chalker’s ‘Rings of the Master’ series. Now Chalker was writing extended series stories, back in the mid 1980’s, well before the current annoyance of 500 page rambling tomes merging into 5 book continuing epics (seemingly only to pad word counts and retail sales). I had enjoyed the original set of ‘Well World’ stories - if for no other reason than the constructed world setting was interesting.
But, I got about half way through book one, ‘Lords of the Middle Dark’, and just could not finish. (*) The concept was interesting, but the characters and progression was just not working for me, too many logic holes.
I returned to another old favourite : ‘Footfall’, by Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle. Despite what the cover suggests, not ‘the best hard science fiction ever written’, but certainly well up there. (Mainly because it has an abrupt cliff hanger ending - looking way too much like there was intended to be a part two that was never written.) Niven is ever the ‘strange concept’ provider, Pournelle good with nuts and bolts. They run a bit short individually, but in combination they are incredible.
As a contributing note, I had re-read ‘the Mote in God’s Eye’, which may be one of the best first contact stories ever written, about a month back. Place this against two of my all time favourite book series sets (often re-read) : 'Old Man’s War' (6) by John Scalzi, 'Legacy of the Aldenata' (12 with the spin offs) & 'Troy Rising' (3) by John Ringo (with others).
'Starship Troopers' by R.H. Heinlein (Still my all time favourite, the single most influential book on me personally.)
(Seeing a trend here?)

After 'Footfall' I tried two new novels, as it happened both by William Dietz : 'DeathDay' & 'Resistance - the Gathering Storm'. I suffered through the first (only to find it literally ends instantly with : “You have my word…the bastards will pay”…) The second? I gave up half way through (although to be fair, it is a novelization based on a computer game).

First Contact
These are aliens, they are not like us.
They may not be even remotely like us.
To the point we don’t understand anything about them and what they are doing (much less why).
And exactly the same thing for them about us.
(John C Campbell’s essay ‘On the Nature of Intelligent Aliens’ not withstanding.)

Not the Star Trek universe of strange coloured human looking types with things stuck on their faces and heads. (Which have viable matings into babies? How do you define ’species’, remember?)
Hell, we are all humans and most the time most of us don’t have a clue about each other!
(Insert the logically built alien cultures above : Moties and Traveler Herd, even the Polseen)

So my overall concept was to frame up a pair of echoing statement / descriptions. One set from each side of an interstellar conflict (you recognize one side, yes?). Worked into the ’10 lines’ format.
Yes, since I’ve had and played Starcraft for a long while, the images seemed an excellent fit.

* The whole idea that I would start a book and NOT finish it is so recent for me. Kelly keeps asking me why I keep returning to a small subset of a fairly large science fiction collection (worse, about half of which is military SF). Dependability. Of late some many attempts to read new authors, or outside hard SF, have just been quite unsatisfying. I mean, I do write myself. I think fairly well, if suffering from ‘stream of consciousness’. But come on. Was there even an editor involved? (Seeing half chapters duplicated inside the same 500 page volume?) Why are you taking 500 pages to express something that would work just as well in half that? Are your characters really that stupid? (When there are creatures about, and the light switch doesn’t work, do you really want to go into that dark room?)
Maybe its just my increasing feeling of ‘short time’, and not being willing to work for relaxation, or just waste the time available.
And hey, increasingly I’m certainly seeing published works that are just at base not written as well as I do…

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Careful What You Wish For.. (10 lines)

There was a sharp memory of screams, the sound of tortured metal, sharp pain, as the airliner impacted the mountain wall that suddenly loomed out of the foggy night.

Then, like the snapping of a light switch, a featureless grey void without sound or form.

Slowly there was the impression of others, resolving into the presence of the fellow passengers, moving towards something in the distance, although details were impossible to distinguish.

The Baptist, who had been trying to convert all around with obvious zeal, exclaimed : “Oh joy, can you all not see the Pearly Gates before us!”

“It is Saint Peter,” said the Catholic, nervously thumbing a rosary, “judging all, and only allowing the Faithful to pass.”

“With those horns and forked tail, accompanied by those imps and demons?” smirked the Satanist, rushing forward to join into the mayhem glimpsed ahead.

“Unbeliever!” scoffed the Moslem, “Can you not see the Perfumed Garden, guarded by Allah’s own Angels, sure to bar entrance to all but the Dutiful and Pious!”

“Ah,” nodded the Buddhist sagely, “it is the plane of Bardo, where all things imagined are known, as you wait for the next turn of the Wheel.”

“What are you all going on about?” asked the Agnostic, “It just looks like the airport arrivals lounge, did I sleep through something?”

And so, one by one, the recently dead chose their oh so personal afterlife, framed by the individual belief they had held.


Believe it or not, the spark for this piece came from a vague reference in a discussion on a completely unrelated topic on Facebook recently (origin hidden to protect the innocent).

The image used sourced over the open internet, no artist was credited. (search 'afterlife') 

PS - Later change to Agnostic for line 9. : Thanks to a comment by reader Forest, who noted that more likely an Atheist would actually just vanish into the void.

Monday, November 21, 2022

Lower & Longer - Repeated (Iron Smelt #92)

October 29, 2022

The usual Samhain iron smelt was a repeat of the June experiment, again using lower air volumes inside a standard 'Norse Short Shaft' bloomery iron furnace. This all in an attempt to investigate the effects of the levels of air delivery possible from our proposed Viking Age smelting sized bellows. 

In the past, a number of experiments have used variations on the type of twin chamber bellows known from (admittedly limited) historic illustrations. One feature of this type is that it will deliver a pulsing air blast, with variations in both volume and delivered pressure over individual strokes occurring roughly one per second (and between operators). 

For this smelt, air was delivered via the standard electric blower, at a volume determined by measurements made during # 90 (October 2021) - approximately 500 litres per minute. The same furnace as was used in June, with some minor repairs, used the same ore type (DD1), following the same sequence of additions. 

Furnace set up for #92 - at start of wood splint pre-heat

The reason it was decided to repeat the June experiment was that the results of that test were not was expected, with yield at 28 %

The full report : Lower & Longer - Repeated (Iron Smelt #92)

Friday, November 11, 2022

the Flag (10 Lines)

from blogTO / Tanya Mok / Posted on May 09, 2020 (no specific image credit given)

Don’t wrap yourself in the flag…
Claiming that you are only exercising your ‘Freedom’, against a government you simply do not like.
You live in a Democracy, there was an Election, and your choice of candidate clearly lost, if you even bothered to vote at all.
Citizenship carries Responsibility, and the elected Government represents the Majority of the population, and acts for the best interests of ALL it’s People combined.

Don’t wrap yourself in our flag…
When you cheerfully plug any passage down local streets, park on sidewalks and memorials, while blaring horns in residential neighbourhoods all through the night.
Your perceived ‘Right’ to ‘peaceful protest’ does not extend to blocking the ability of local people, who have committed no offense beyond their choice of home location, to get to work, to school, to the food store, or the simple ability to get an uninterrupted night’s sleep.
A Nation is a Community, and this Community is defined in large part by it’s Tolerance and Respect, it’s adherence to the Rule of Law, all of which somehow you don’t think applies to yourself?

Don’t wrap yourself in my flag…
When your associates bring along military assault rifles and body armour to your ‘peaceful protest’, publishing in advance their intention to murder the police.
You must certainly expect to be judged by the company you keep, exactly the same way you bundle up everyone else who does not agree with your (uninformed) ’Opinions’, and subject others to abuse.
You cry ‘Personal Freedom’ as you willfully engage in extreme behaviour, then cry and moan ‘Oppression’ when our police and government utilizes legal measures to contain your self absorbed outbursts when they impact destructively on the rest of us?

That flag stands for many things…
The Land. The People. A shared view of Custom and Culture.
And importantly, those who stood up for those same Rights, that same Country, placing their mortal bodies between you and those who would eradicate your ability to walk those same streets.
To even complain at all.

“We shall not forget: Remembrance Day events” / CityTV - Breakfast Television (no references given)

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Sahmain Iron Smelt (2022)

 In conversation with Neil - there will be NO Thanksgiving weekend smelt at Wareham.

Sahmain Iron Smelt

Saturday October 29

Wareham Forge

- This is an experimental (not teaching) event, a repeat of the June experiment to confirm unexpected results (with better instrumentation)

- The directions :
- COVID measures remain in force (vaccinations required, bring masks) This is however an outdoor event, so generally distancing is easy to maintain:

As I have mentioned (to the extended recipient list here), observers are welcome.
People outside the core DARC membership should reply via e-mail to confirm their intention to participate.

 - Generally the firing process starts about 9 AM, with main sequence start roughly 10 - 10:30.
- Extraction expected about 6:30 - 7:30  PM. (if this smelt follows pattern of June)
 - For this smelt, I need to remain in control of the extraction process.
-  There is always simple task and 'dirty work' that needs to be undertaken.
- Those who know me are (well) aware that you can hardly shut me up, so new people are certain to get at least an overview of the smelting process.

Those hoping to directly participate are advised to wear 'work clothes', which need to be all natural (cotton jeans and sweat shirts suggested). Safety glasses will be on hand (and required in the working area).

Neil and I have discussed air and implications:

- The air volume applied in June was based on measurements from the October 2021 smelt, when the current model 'smelter bellows' was used = 500 LpM.

Blower and bellows air / instrumentation : 10/21

- The June smelt used a 25 cm ID furnace, a bit smaller than our standard (at typically 28)

Furnace build from June 2022

- This combination gives a air / diameter ratio of (roughly) 1 L/cm2 (slightly less than the 'magic' 1.2 - 1.5).

The burn rate was considerably longer than our typical (average about 8 min/kg) at 12 minutes per kg

This all leads me to guess (?? after all this time ??) that there is a significant difference created by the 'pulsing' delivery produced by the twin chamber bellows unit.  In the works right now is a mechanical gadget that will vary the air from the blower to better mimic the bellows production. Right now we have decided NOT to attempt to use this equipment with the upcoming smelt (likely the spring 2023).

Repaired Furnace (tuyere goes to right)

Sunday, October 02, 2022

Visting the Wareham Forge

Don't just show up here 

Without previously contacting me to arrange a suitable day and time.

(I'm adding this as a blog post, mainly so I can refer people to instructions as to what to do when they have already got clearance to come here. This is also my home!)

This is what you will see as you approach the Wareham Forge (located at the centre of the Wareham crossroads) :

Approach from the West (looking to East)

Approach from the East (looking to West)

The building is placed on the NW corner of the Wareham crossroads. Entry is on the South side of the property.

Standing on Centre Line, looking North towards the building entrance

As is detailed on the direction instructions (you would have been provided when you contacted me), there is a 'portable' tarp cover over the considerable slope down into the shop entrance. (On a bad snow year, this completely fills over under snow!)

Parking is nose inwards, to the right (east) side - the space is more obvious in the 'to west' view above. 

Shop door is open - more than normal clutter due to construction and winter prep.

Come down inside the tunnel, approach the wooden shop entrance door. 

At the shop door, listen and look. If I am working in the shop, I will be visible on the main workshop area just ahead. If I am in the forge, it is inside, just to the right hand side. Call out if you hear but don't see me.

If you do not see or hear.

The residence is the rear third of the building. The door bell is located on the SIDE of the wooden framing, to the RIGHT hand, about CHEST HIGH. There is a white sign that says 'House Doorbell' marking it. 

Press the doorbell. WAIT. (It takes time for me to come down from the second floor, find some shoes and get out to the shop entrance.)

No response?

Did you contact me and arrange an appointment?

If so, there is a chance I am out in the yard :

via Bing
via Google

The property is one acre, bounded on two sides by roads, the rear by a small creek. The images above are dated, the Bing version (mid day)likely from at least a two decades back, the Google version (morning) from at least ten years ago (note the difference in tree cover!)

Diagram of the yard - about 2000

There is a small pond to the rear of the property, and a number of small outbuildings. Of importance is the iron smelting area to the west side of the pond. As with any rural property, there is considerable ongoing gardening and maintenance taking place. 

If you had arranged a time, and I'm not in the several workshop spaces, or answering the residence doorbell, odds are very good I am back in the rear yard. 

Access is down the east side of the main building, then between the rear corner and the end of the long shed (Tin Shop, not shown on that diagram, extending the line of the garage.)


The Wareham Forge is a WORKING space - at my HOME

It is not a gift shop

It is not open for casual 'see the blacksmith work' visits.

It is NOT 'disabled accessible' in any way what so ever.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Bloom Compaction : Phase One


Raw bloom compacting - modern tools
(video shot and edited by Neil Peterson)
- Pieces heated in a propane forge, which only reaches about 1150C (well below 'welding' temperature - only to a 'bright orange' * )
- Work under my modified 30 ton hydraulic press.
Note how much mechanical compaction is taking place. A close look will see how there are still fractures, clear as colour shifts along the edges. 
The two individual blooms started at roughly 7 kg, and were compressed to brick shapes, then cut into rough quarters. The video shows the later part of working bloom # 35, which had already been compressed and cut into to pieces. One 'half' is flattened, then further cut into two plate segments.

Bloom #91 - top

Bloom #91 - side

Bloom #35 - top (in video)

Bloom #35 - side (in video)

Bloom # 35 is an early one, March 2008, one of three made at Smeltfest that year. Specifically the test was using the 'bellows plate and blast port' design. The ore used was Lexington Limonite, in this case the yield is uncertain as this was the third use of this furnace and the previous firing had been problematic. 
Starting weight was : 7.60 kg (corrected)
Bloom # 91 is the latest, June 2022, created in a slightly smaller short shaft furnace, in this test using lower air volumes based on the previous (more accurate?) measurements of human 'smelt bellows' supplied air in experiment # 90. 
Starting weight was :  6.65 kg
 Bloom 91 
Bloom 35
11561211 v
21301568 v
15 %
42 %
In addition, there were a total of 2806 gm of metallic gromps collected overall (smaller fragments, collected magnetically), which included about ten fragments roughly 'half walnut' sized (deemed too small for forging. This puts the loss due to slag expelled at 1391 gm (from the total starting weight of blooms at 14.25 kg)
Bloom # 35 was visibly more spongy at the start of this process, so the higher loss due to possible slag inclusions, and more significantly, simple fracturing during the compressions, was expected. This suggests the bulk of the recovered gromps (overall 20% of the starting blooms) was from # 35.

This process has created a number of smaller, partially compressed pieces, which will allow a second phase of heating in coal, and the ragged edges forge welded into the remaining mass. Additional hammering and folding will eventually yield individual working bars.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Waste Effect

1) What a mess! It is making me certain our planned expedition is certainly justified.

2) Anyone who could simply discard so much usable material surely does not deserve full use of these resources, especially in face of those who have so little.

3) Yes, Pod Leader, and this is the situation at each of the six landing sites on this planet’s moon.

4) Further, some of the most destructive practices they undertake are visible even from our surveillance platforms in orbit.

5) Observer, I have to tell you that I doubted the initial assessments of your shell, I had viewed some of the raw broadcast materials, and found them massively confusing.

6) Yes Leader, even as we approached and received more and more recent materials, both the amount and the vast inconsistencies became more and more difficult to survey.

7) It becomes clear that increasingly into the present time, the distinction between fact and fiction has become completely blurred in all the communications, extremism has become the norm now.

8) Well, as pathetic as this all is Underling, it most certainly suits our own objectives.

9) Certainly the remains we are looking at prove that this race is now a class 6 ’space capable’ one under the Covenant , and so is open to our harvesting.

10) And the humans, faces glued to their phone screens and the latest ‘Reality’ programs, totally missed the massive invasion fleet following in the wake of the single survey vessel parked on the Moon.

“ A photograph taken during Apollo 17 shows science experiments in the foreground and background with a debris pile including experiment wrappers and covers on the left. (Image credit: NASA) “

Friday, August 26, 2022

the Word (10 lines)


1) Boss, there is a wee problem with one of those hobby experiments of yours inside the main Creation project.

2) It is those clowns over in the Critical History Intelligence Management Program Section, again.

3) (Sigh) I needed to do something with the junior staff, particularly the ‘imaginative’ ones, what is it this time….

4) Well, you know the time differential between here at Control and those ’Intelligent Beings’ side experiments, especially for Sol 3 - Homo Sapiens?

5) They have been inserting wildly conflicting story to ‘evidence’ elements, mainly to see what kind of effect those will have on the intellectual development of the new primary species.

6) Ah, as I recall that was the one where the growth medium got too rich, resulting in the exponential development of the original Sauropod type for size rather than intelligence, which we had to wipe clean and restart along Mammalian lines?

7) Well everything was going fine with the evolving Hominids, into the start of them developing various regional deities, agriculture and their first writing methods.

8) Then the CHIMPS picked one obscure tribal group, gave them a series of often conflicting text instructions for moral conduct, presented and re-enforced as being of ‘divine’ origin.

9) Which of course have been badly copied, heavy edited, and deliberately miss interpreted over time, each version held up as the ’True Word of God’.

10) Those Bozos, why do they think I had implemented the Critical Thought side routine for anyway?

With (very minor) apologies to ‘Becka’, where I stole the image used - noting that she did not credit the original artist either.


This started with a slightly larger and different mechanism inside the same concept. Humans as a petri dish side experiment inside the main construction (the universe) being undertaken by some Power. And a group of younger trouble makers inside the project inserting some kind of 'lets see what this does' random elements. Originally I was thinking of some standard biblical stories (the Flood = where did the water come from / Joshaua and Earth stopping rotation = no inertia effects) plus some 'joker' effects like dinosaur bones, sedimentary rock layers, all being fakes. 

But - 10 Lines

Remember the Golden Era of Clarke and Asimov, masters at the short story. Before the excesses of word processors, and when Editors actually *edited* material? When it was about the underlying concept, often a punch line?

Fredric Brown's "Knock"

' The last man on earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock on the door... '

Note - published in 1948. Modern people, substitute 'human' for 'man' please.

Text-to-speech function is limited to 200 characters

Sunday, August 21, 2022

On Writing - One


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about writing.

Not just about stories, although those too, but about what sits behind the stories.

How to write. Or at the very least, how to write something that at least I (and hopefully others) would like to read.

Of late I have also had more time, or just plain taken more time, to think about how the things I like to read are structured.

One : Memories are slippery things…

Our household had never been a big book owning one (1) As a child, we were encouraged into reading with weekly visits to the Peterborough Public Library. This was an imposing building originally constructed and filled under funds from Andrew Carnegie Foundation in 1911. (2) I had already made serious reading inroads through the the mythical and historical, the fairy tales and fantasy sections available in the second floor Children’s section by the time I was ten. (3)

There was a short interlude that put our family into Toronto for two short years (later 1965 to early 1968). Now divorced (believe me, punishing in Suburban Ontario in the late 1960's), my mum moved us back to Peterborough, so I grew up on the economic short end, attempting to hold to Canadian White-bead English Protestant Middle Class. (4) We had a black & white television from the early 60’s that was broken as often as not (until I learned to change tubes bought from my paper route money). This limited pretty much to the local Peterborough CBC and fuzzy distant Toronto stations. Occasional American (Rochester) broadcasts, even fuzzier and howling static.

The library was free, and believe me, we made excessive use of that, pushing our weekly borrowing limit. ‘A book a day’ was typical. By the time I was 14 I had consumed all the historical, fantasy, and science fiction juveniles available. Back then access to the Adult collection was greatly controlled, as I remember you had to be 16 to (or have an adult) check out a book from that floor. My father on his departure had left behind a half dozen ‘Book of the Month Club’ science fiction. Which of course, sometimes only dimly understanding, I had all read, sometimes more than once. (5)

The first science fiction book I can remember owning to myself was Tom Swift and His Jetmarine, by Victor Appleton. (6) Which was a series novel like the Hardy Boys (read most all those too), echoing the considerably more complex ‘Juveniles’ by Robert A. Heinlein - which of course I also had all borrowed and read. (I have long lost my original copy, but have managed to find a replacement!) Finally into High School at grade nine, a lot of that paper route money was going into used paperbacks. I was running out of any more possible space in my small shared room for my collection of Clarke, Asimov, and the rest of the 1940 - 60’s authors, my favourite (still) being Robert Heinlein. (7)

How did I learn ‘how to write’?

Monkey See - Monkey Do.

That first year at Adam Scott CVI, I became part of the Science Fiction Library tucked in the rear cabinets of one of the Science Labs. One of the teachers had initiating this by donating his roughly 250 volume paper back book collection. In turn each of the disciples brought in their own smaller collections. When I got involved late 1970, there were about 500 all told. It was a fairly informal lending library, pretty much dependant on the honour system. With faint echoes of Miller’s ‘A Canticle for Leibowitz’ we considered ourselves Keepers of the Faith, socially isolated, and yes, geeks - but geeks with a calling. (8) And hey, it was the Cold War, and it was known that Peterborough was at least technically a secondary target. We had all gone through ‘Duck and Cover’ drills in elementary school.

So - Monkey See?

I’m reasonably bright. I was reading roughly on average one book a night. Sure not only by the early Masters of Science Fiction, but also a considerable amount of bad examples. As Sturgeon’s Law states : “Ninety-percent of everything is crud”. (9) If you are going to learn, learn from the best what to repeat, learn from the rest what to avoid. By the time I got into later high school (to grade 13 in Ontario) I had already read thousands of books. Yes, mostly science fiction and fantasy. If you were going to ‘narrow’ your selection choices, certainly ‘speculative fiction’ presented the widest possible pallet. By the time I was in my mid thirties, my own personal SF / F collection was easy over a thousand volumes mainly purchased second hand (sorry), and yes I had read all of those.

Look, as might be obvious by now, I never got any technical *understanding* of where a comma is supposed to really go, or when it morphs to a semi-colon to a full colon. No clue what past participle really is. (Mind you that often repeated quote from Quigley Down Under comes to mind : "I said I never had much use for one; never said I didn't know how to use it." ) (10) Does it sound right to me when I put it down to paper? Fine, must be ok. I had almost been kicked out of the required grade 12 english course, over an essay I submitted. The teacher determined the essay must have been completely plagiarized, simply because “It was written too well to have been the work of a student who did not undertake grammar deconstruction exercises at a similar level’.

So, clearly all this stuff aways sounds like me. I’ve had considerable practice in speaking before the public, over dozens of formal presentations, hundreds of courses and lectures, and actually to thousands (more like tens of thousands, all told) of people. No, I do not especially sound like I have a PhD (a surprise, considering I certainly don’t), but I can certainly explain effectively, as well as actually physically do. Over the last two decades particularly, I have been working closely with major museums and exhibit projects. I have written a number of at least semi-academic papers, and had a number formally published as book chapters and journal articles (‘I may not be able to sing it, but I can certainly hum the tune’.) (11)


Readers will find a lot of use of Wikipedia as references. I counter this by asking them to remember that is is a commentary / explanation, so NOT an academic article.

1) When I undertook the task of organizing my mothers effects after her death, I was honestly shocked at the almost complete absence of books. Bibles and hymnals, a few Reader’s Digest collections (given as gifts). We were always encouraged to read, but books were from the library, money was needed for the essential basics.


3) One of the huge ironies here is at about that same point, I had been placed into a ‘remedial reading’ classification in Elementary School, due to my (continuing) absolutely abysmal spelling. I had quickly realized that words could also be ‘image symbols’ for a concept. There was no need to remember how to sound out a spell a word - if I could so much faster recognize the meaning implied by the patterning. I had read and understood the characters in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings a full decade before I learned the pronunciations from the lips of others.

4) What for years was termed ‘WASP’ = White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant. A term I doubt anyone uses any more, common in Ontario in the 1960’s & 70’s. Based primarily on *religious* separation from (commonly French) Catholic - plus ‘English Heritage’ over ‘anyplace other’.

5) I do remember reading others in this series as well :

6) I still have four of these :

Twilight World - Poul Anderson

Fantastic Voyage - Isaac Asimov

Journey to the Centre of the Earth - Jules Verne

the World of (null) A / Voyage of the Space Beagle / Slan - A.E. van Vogt

(and believe me, that last collection was heavier going for a 14 year old me)

7) Although (perhaps) a different discourse on small city Ontario in the 1960’s and lack of role models, the work of Heinlein has had (and continues) to have a major impact on my character and world view :

8) A Canticle for Leibowitz spins a tale of a Catholic monastery that preserves knowledge through a Nuclear War Dark Age, into a new technical society that yet again lets the bombs fall : 'Those Who Watch’ was how we actually styled ourselves (sorry - my influence). An important consideration is that this was a direct reaction to the ‘Campus Crusade for Christ’ - which was an aggressive US based, largely right wing and evangelist movement itself attempting to contrast the Counter Culture of the later 1960’s. CCC was allowed to operate openly at my high school. I had skirted the edges of the movement, but soon rejected their clear ’Saved or Not = Us versus anyone else / Faith over science’ discrimination :

9) Actually widely held (and supported) as ‘Sturgeon’s Revelation’, first published by author and critic Theodore Sturgeon in 1956 :

10) A film worth seeing in my opinion. Yea, Tom Selleck (as Quigley) is being, well, Tom Selleck. A post Civil War America expert sniper arrives in Australia, to find he has been hired to exterminate the Aborigines. He refuses, starting a chain of conflict that will lead him forced into a final ‘Ok Corral’ style quick draw handgun duel.

11) Sorry - another film quote (or more likely a distortion thereof). Could not narrow down the source via 10 minutes of Mr. Google.


This was started intended as a ‘short’ introduction towards a commentary about prediction, COVID 19 – and John Ringo’s the Last Centurion. Clearly what is developing is a whole series on my perception of ‘why I write’.

Number Two is (tentatively) ‘What I don’t like reading...’


February 15 - May 15, 2012 : Supported by a Crafts Projects - Creation and Development Grant

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