because achieving happiness is a journey, not a destination

Through Darkest Europe

I just finished a new alternative history novel written by Harry Turtledove. I definitely recommend it…even though there’s no dramatic conclusion to it. Plenty of drama, lots of action, good character development…but no major wrap-up of an overriding theme. Alternative histories are tales that explore what-might-have-beens had some critical event

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RIP, Jerry Pournelle

I just read that Jerry Pournelle, one of my favorite sci-fi authors, passed away. Unlike many of his compatriots, he wasn’t an engineer or scientist. Instead, his background was in political science and psychology, coupled to a deep knowledge of history. If his libertarianism got the better of him in

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A Great Book About Nothing

I just finished reading A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing, by Lawrence Krauss. It’s a grand tour de force that attempts to explain why there’s a universe with a bunch of stuff in it rather than nothing. Interestingly, it turns out our latest understanding of

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Benedict Arnold and the American Revolution

Another great book for your reading pleasure and edification… 🙂 This one’s about how Benedict Arnold transitioned from being a hero of the Revolution to its almost-successful betrayer, and thereby earned the dubious distinction of having his name become a synonym for traitor in American English. That story is worth

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East Meets West

I just finished reading a pair of wonderful books, 1491 and 1493, both by Charles Mann. The first, 1491, is an in-depth survey of the history and civilizations of the Western Hemisphere prior to the arrival of the Europeans, and what happened to the folks who had been living here after

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Std Dev X * Std Dev P >= h / 2

Today, in Gregory Benford’s book The Berlin Project, I came across the first quantum mechanical dirty joke I’ve ever seen (it’s no doubt an oldie, but, hey, I never actually studied quantum mechanics). It’s attributed to Enrico Fermi: Poor Werner Heisenberg! When he finds the right position, he loses his

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Even Favorite Authors Can Write Too Much

I’m a big fan of David Weber’s work, both his series (Honor Harrington, Empire of Man) and his standalone stories. I also really enjoy his Safehold books, about a human colony struggling to recover after being set up in scientific and technological stasis by its founders. They wanted to ensure

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Masonry Foundations

Today I went to a 150th anniversary celebration for the local Masonic lodge. While San Carlos, where the lodge resides, hasn’t been around that long, the lodge itself traces back to one which was founded in San Mateo in 1863, moved to Redwood City sometime around the early 1900s and

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Chet and Bernie

Mysteries told from the perspective of a detective’s dog. Sounds weird, but it not only works, the stories are fun to read. That’s the Chet and Bernie series, authored by Spencer Quinn. Quinn has a knack for getting inside the head of Chet, the canine component of the detective team.

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The Zeroes

Ah, the zeroes! While it’s admittedly a little early to look back on the first decade of the 21st century – it only ended a couple of months ago – it merits some reflection given all the stuff that happened, particularly on Wall Street. Which is where Randall Lane’s The

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