Very cool software

For writers, Game-masters, and any who needs to manage a large amount of disparate data, I have been pointed at a great piece of software for the Mac. (I haven’t investigated if they have Windows version yet.)

The software is VooDoo Pad, and it operates as a self-contained no complicated install wiki. I am not a computer person so I needed software that pretty much just runs without a lot fo set-up from me. I have looked at wiki for quite awhile but never found one that was as easy to use as voodoo pad.

I got tipped off to it by my writer’s support group and I just love it. IT will make a great tool for keeping track of all the data generated in creating the fiction universes that my various novels take place in.

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“Then I am happy/sad for you”

Well, it turns out my friend Bear cannot make the Las Vegas trip with me. That is a shame this is certainly the sort of thing that is more fun with friends than alone.

However, I am still going. In fact the room has been rented and now the show tickets have been purchased. The only thing left to do is handle the transportation issues. As I am a new driver my sweetie-wife is not keen on the idea that I drive the whole way, while I am. It would be much cheaper than flying and with far fewer hassles.

Nothing has been settled and there is time to arrange all of that. The important thing is that I am going. Yeah!

This will replace my Universal Studios Megatour plans as my celebration for completing Cawdor.

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I have never been to Vegas

Since 1982 I have lived here in San Diego, but I have never taken a weekend in Las Vegas. Principally because that sport of activities that ones goes to Vegas to find do not interest me.

I have never been a gambler and I do know know the game well enough to make me anything other than a mark.

However, next month I am taking a weekend in Las Vegas. I’m going to do two things I have always wanted to do.

First, I am going to catch a show by a singer I like. (Sheena Easton. I like 80’s Pop so sue me.)

Secondly, I am going to go to a firing range and by rental, fire a machine gun. I have shot a number of different firearms over the years. (Owned two for  short while but I am not a collector and I wisely sold them off.) Living in California means I live in one of the most gun-controled states of the union so I could never get the chance to fire a fully automatic weapons here. Nevada is a different story. Frankly if for no other reason than to write about them more competently, I would do this, but  I want to do it as well.

I have made the room reservations and now I only wait to find out if a friend I asked along can go. (It’s really up to how much work he will have. I do hope he can come, such things should be more fun in groups.)

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Historical tidbit

Apparently every time in the last fifty years the House of representatives has switched parties — that is control has switched to the other party — the senate followed suit. This is not true vice versa, The senate has changed with out the house changing.

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Fighters in Space

Thanks to George Lucas and his Star Wars films, modern SF has developed a love affair with fighters in space. Lucas used WWII aircraft footage as reference material for the special effects teams working on Star Wars and the influence is clear.

This led to a lot of imitators and copycats, all loving the carrier and fighter in space motif. For me to really became too much when the SF program Space: Above and Beyond (which I refereed to as Space: Abort and Begone) aired. In the program, which really was just WWII set in space, during a briefing pilots are advised to remember that the enemy fighter can out climb the allied fighters. Out – fucking – climb in weightless space. What the hell are they climbing against?

There are reason why carriers and fighter make perfect sense for wet navies, but trying to put them into space just makes the writer look all wet.

First, Ships and Planes travel through different media. A ship has to push water, heavy incompressible water, in order to move. This requires a great deal of energy to get very little speed. The USS Lexington in WWII could go at an astounding 34.5 knots.  (39.7 mph) to do this speed required 150,000 standard horsepower. An F4F Wildcat cruised at 155 mph, could go as fast as 318 mph on 1200 standard horsepower.

Nearly ten times as fast on less than one-tenth the power.

In space, the carrier and the fighter are traveling through the same medium, vacuum. There is no intrinsic reason why a fighter would be so much faster than a carrier. (yes the fighter has less mass, but if you have motive power that accelerate the fighter that fast, you have it for the big ship too, just takes more.)

Another reason planes and carriers makes sense on planetary surface is that planets are curved. Planes give ships an over the horizon spot capability. (In fact before WWII it was thought that spotting and scouting was the reason for Carriers, and that fighting would remain the domain of the big gun ships. The Imperial Japanese Navy persuaded us otherwise.) A ship in space has no horizon to limit detection. No need for small vulnerable spotters.

The third element that makes the airplane useful to surface navies is that the plan can carry a weapon load-out capable of sinking a ship. Note that this is general not done with the plane’s machine-guns or cannons. The attack planes carried either bombs or torpedoes. (Today it is the guided missile carried by planes that make them deadly to ships.) In SF movies we don’t see attack craft with one or two big heavy ship killers; they always attack big target with the same guns they used on the enemy fighters. Damn silly.

In terms of physics and real world analogs, space combat is going to look a lot like submarine warfare. Lots of sneaking. (if that’s possible — it may not be.) Cramped tiny spaces, and long range missiles or torpedoes for killing their targets. Note that under the water, with everyone in the same media, we don’t have carrier and fighters.

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