Monthly Archives: January 2009

When America Led

I was thinking about the various world-changing technologies that will likely be developed during Nefarious’s early adulthood… Things like machine sentience, and the space elevator, which I was reading about today. One Wikipedia article made the claim that the cost of actually building it would be somewhere between $6 and $40 billion — a relatively minuscule amount of money. As is often said, what a shame it is that so much money is misdirected into war. I can’t begin to imagine what an amazing place the world would be if we invested money into building the future rather than destroying the present.

The advantage to the space elevator is of course that it brings the cost of bringing things to orbit to a couple hundred dollars a kilogram — a fraction of what current launch systems cost. To make it obvious, imagine if you lived in an apartment building, and you had to take a rocket to get to your 20th story apartment rather than taking the elevator… it would be ridiculous. Well, rockets to space may one day be just as silly and outrageous wastes of money. Still, thinking about space elevators got me reading about launch systems of the past. I was surprised to read about the massive size of the Saturn V rockets used in the moon project — they’re as tall as a 36 story building. WOW. Watching them take off would have been like watching a skyscraper fly into the sky.


After America went to the moon, Werner Von Braun and NASA had their eyes on a Mars shot — how sad that America lost its way and decided things like the Vietnam War were higher priorities — and they needed even bigger rockets. The Nova rockets in the picture above were truly massive — five hundred feet high, seventy feet across, and able to bring over a million pounds of gear into orbit in a single mission. WOW again. Some of them had rocket engines generating three million pounds of thrust. Sadly, the next era of American rocketry devolved into nuclear missiles, and America’s sights became shamefully low.

I know I’ve mentioned it here before, but that pales before the even more extreme Project Orion — although it’s not really fair to compare them since Nova was “real” and Orion was “theoretical”. Project Orion was another skyscraper sized rocket intended for interplanetary missions, powered by series of nuclear bombs pushing it into space… The largest of their designs was an eight million ton behemoth with the potential for interstellar ark-style travel. I doubt we’ll see nuclear spaceships, but at the same time, now that we’re discovering so many exoplanets, including some earthlike ones, now would be a wonderful time to set our sites not just on the other planets of our solar system, but on the stars.


It’s my hope that one of the side effects of Obama’s presidency is a renewed interest in science and futurism in America, and that we see new technological races, and we return to a world that looks forward with a sense of wonder and optimism. In any case, anything would be better than another eight years of resources squandered in war.

Next stage of “The Fountain”

Given that today — another sick day — has been all video games and reading (yesterday we read “Vidia and the Fairy Crown” cover to cover), I think it’s going to be difficult to convince Nefarious to go back to school tomorrow even though she’s feeling much better… But this Friday is my rescheduled pizza lunch at her school, she’d better go! I think Nefarious will definitely grow up to be a reader — we go through tons of books, and she’s enjoying longer and more complex books, which is nice for me. The Disney Fairies series of books has been surprisingly bearable… I’ve promised her that when she goes to visit her mother for about a month this summer that I’ll record her lots of stories so she can listen to them any time she misses reading. That said, at this point she can actually read those books herself, but because she’s not a fast reader yet, it’s better when I do it.

Wonderful snow storm here all day in Toronto by the way… I really hope Nefarious has the energy to go sledding tomorrow. Anyway, now to cook some supper for us.


Kubla Khan; The Fountain

I had a morning doctor’s appointment, plus Nefarious is home sick from school, so there wasn’t as much time for it and other things, but I started doing a little painting on ‘The Fountain’ page of the book;

And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And ‘mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.


Projects, projects, projects…

Keeping busy, I’ve started posting interviews from my upcoming book on male genital modification. They’re all in pre-publication form — one of the reasons I’m posting them is that I’m dragging my feet on editing them, and I hope that having them public will (a) motivate me to work harder, and (b) generate helpful editing from people who read the interviews. So please, if this interests you, post your suggestions and corrections, from small typos on up to full overhauls.


I posted another profile over at the Blog of Pain as well (and quack).

Via my car site, I also met an interesting person — a designer of early kit cars (including a couple of my favorites) that sold about a thousand way-ahead-of-their-time electric cars in the seventies and eighties, until he was — he claims — shut down by FBI/Cointelpro… I think he’s definitely got a book in him! I think I’ll email him now and see if he’d like a ghostwriter.

My father (you know him here and elsewhere as “starbadger” — that’s him below from the paradise I grew up in), who taught me everything I know about working hard, is embarking on a new project as well. If you’d like to watch it unfold (and perhaps get involved), you can keep your eye on


In Xanadu, Continued

Still more to do on this page’s panel, but here it is in context. It still has to be re-lined and tinted, and I think a few more elements will be painted in as well… It’s amazing how poor the color reproduction of the point-and-shoot camera is. In real life there’s a lot more color depth*, which I assume my bigger camera will eventually capture more accurately.

So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round:
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

* Edit: I took a new picture that shows it a little better.