Green Things

Gene Cernan in the Lunar Rover

For the first time in my life­time, there are liv­ing things on the moon.

Con­sid­er: Apol­lo 17, the last crewed mis­sion to the moon, left the lunar sur­face in Decem­ber 1972. (I was born the next year.)

And now? Now, right now, in Jan­u­ary 2019, seeds have sprout­ed in a Chi­nese rover on the far side of the moon.

Head­er image: Gene Cer­nan in the Lunar Rover. Tak­en by NASA, and in the pub­lic domain.

William Gibson: Grand Master

William Gibson

It’s got a nice ring to it.

Con­grat­u­la­tions to William Gib­son, one of my favourite authors, on the announce­ment that he has been named the lat­est Damon Knight Grand Mas­ter by the Sci­ence Fic­tion Writ­ers of Amer­i­ca.

The Damon Knight Memo­r­i­al Grand Mas­ter Award rec­og­nizes “life­time achieve­ment in sci­ence fic­tion and/or fan­ta­sy.” Gib­son joins the Grand Mas­ter ranks along­side such leg­ends as C. J. Cher­ryh, Peter S. Bea­gle, Ursu­la K. Le Guin, Isaac Asi­mov, Ray Brad­bury, and Joe Halde­man. The award will be pre­sent­ed at the 54th Annu­al Neb­u­la Con­fer­ence and Awards Cer­e­mo­ny in Wood­land Hills, CA, May 16th-19th, 2019.

Via Tor.com, here’s the offi­cial announce­ment.

Head­er pho­to by Nik­ki Tysoe, used under a CC-BY license.

Bye, Flickr

tl;dr: "Buy a Pro account or we'll delete over 2,500 of your photos"

I’ve been a Flickr mem­ber since almost its incep­tion. I signed up some­time in 2004. I’ve been there through it all, and most­ly enjoyed my time.

But when the new own­ers (ie, Smug­Mug) tell me they’re going to start delet­ing my pho­tos if I don’t pony up for a Pro account, well, that’s it. I’m out.

Bad move, Smug­Mug.

(Aside to Mr. Pen­sato: I’ve been doing a bit more work on Blinky.)

PS: I’m in the process of mov­ing my pho­tos off Flickr and onto my own per­son­al site (ie, this one). So I’m not going to lose sleep over the whole “your pho­tos are get­ting delet­ed” thing. Let me know if you’re inter­est­ed in the sim­ple Word­Press plu­g­in I’ve built in order to pull my pho­tos.

Sandan

Judo Cana­da has rat­i­fied it, so it’s offi­cial: I have my san­dan rank. In Eng­lish, I have my 3rd degree black belt in judo.

For this one, I had to learn (or per­haps re-learn is a bet­ter way to put it) the katame-no-kata, aka the ground­work kata. I quite like it, and hope to sharp­en it up for pos­si­ble com­pe­ti­tion.

Thanks to all who have sup­port­ed me along the way.

Christmas movies

still from A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Is Die Hard the best Christ­mas movie? I dun­no, I’ve always leaned toward The Night­mare Before Christ­mas*, myself.

But this arti­cle makes a com­pelling point for oth­ers, too. I just re-watched Kiss Kiss Bang Bang in the sum­mer­time, dur­ing my writ­ing retreat. (How is that five months ago already? Man, time flies.)

[M]ost of his films [have a] fairy-tale like sheen, sim­i­lar to what makes Die Hard so suc­cess­ful. And mak­ing it Christ­mas in L.A. (which the major­i­ty of his films do), offers a dif­fer­ent sen­si­bil­i­ty to the use of the hol­i­day on film.

—Emi­ly Ash­er-Per­rin, Die Hard is Great, but Shane Black is the King of Christ­mas Explo­sions

* Oh who am I kid­ding? Night­mare is sec­ond; A Char­lie Brown Christ­mas is first, even if it’s only about half an hour long.

Arabian Stars & Constellations

A fas­ci­nat­ing arti­cle on the Plan­e­tary Soci­ety web­site: Whose Stars? Our her­itage of Ara­bi­an astron­o­my:

Gre­co-Mesopotami­an con­stel­la­tion fig­ures bear Latin names. Their bright­est stars are des­ig­nat­ed with let­ters of the Greek alpha­bet, yet most of them bear prop­er names that derive from Ara­bic. Even so, many of these star names are Ara­bic descrip­tions of Greek con­stel­la­tion fig­ures, not Ara­bi­an ones.

Learn more about the Ara­bi­an star and con­stel­la­tion names, like, for instance, ath-Thu­raya (aka the Pleiades) and her Hands (one ampu­tat­ed, one hen­na-dyed), Alde­baran (the Fol­low­er), al-Jawza’ and the Shi’ra sis­ters, and more.

It’s fas­ci­nat­ing, and at least part of the rea­son I’m post­ing this is to book­mark the arti­cle for lat­er re-read­ing. I think it might be a use­ful thing for a sci­ence-fic­tion writer to know about.

Head­er image: Pleiades (or I guess ath-Thu­raya), tak­en by me in 2015.