Clean up in Saturn Orbit

Courtesy of National Geographic

This is something I have been thinking about since I read the third Expanse novel, “Cibola Burn”, by S A Correy.  Space warfare is a loose, loose proposition.

I started thinking about this idea when Alex and Naomi used the rail gun as a means to save the Rocinate and the colonists ship. I thought “what happens to the projectile”? Given the velocities of such slugs and the lack of friction in space, Newton’s first law says it should just keep going. Just one more small meteorite screaming through the Galaxy. Of course, planetary gravity or collisions with stellar bodies could destroy the projectile, but what if the slugs are shot sufficiently far from such influences.

In addition, when talking about space battles, you have to take into account all the munitions expended, as well as, the debris from destroyed ships. Now consider all the objects NASA and the Air Force track in orbit to protect space launches. At the speeds satellites and space craft travel to maintain orbit, even chips of paint become deadly projectiles.  After each space battle, there would be thousands and thousands of such deadly objects left behind requiring additional tracking for normal space flight safety.  The more battles you have, the more debris you have to track forever afterwards unless you clean up the area.  Just imagine a solar system littered from thousands of space engagements.

So, unless we develop shield technology along with our deep space capacity, we better leave our wars on the ground.  Oh, who am I kidding.  As usual, we will have our wars wherever we go and then realize the mistakes we made while trying to clean up the mess.


A Flare for Spices

See if you can guess why I am posting this story now (on all accounts).


A Taste of Armageddon


Robert Garbin



The great cauldron sat deep in the fire, shimmering waves of heat rising all around.  Flames licked the soot blackened metal almost to the rim.  What could be seen of the kitchen where it boiled was a nightmare of warped selves, darkened by millennia of cooking, filled to the brim with jars of all sizes and colors, jars that contained any number of rare delicacies for the tastes of the depraved.  Light flickered off jars of spurned love, betrayed trust, and glutinous lust.  Helen reached out a fine hand covered in smudges of vanity and grabbed a jar from a shelf.  Her exquisite hair clung to her scalp in oily strands, while the porcelain beauty of her face was hidden under layers of soot and sweat.

She opened the jar and smelled the powerful aroma of polished leather and expensive cigars wafting off the influential men who had guided humanity only for personal gains, men who were careless of the costs to others.  Helen reflected on how plentiful this particular spice was now.  She carefully shook only two screaming businessmen into the bubbling cauldron, knowing full well its overpowering nature.  Pursing her full lips, she perused the glass crocks from which blood smeared bodies writhed in the throes of agony.  The mistress of the cauldron reached up to the top shelf for a jar distinguished by a bloody red cross.  Opening the lid she inhaled the cloying smell of incense mixed with sacramental wine.  Letting a wicked grin twitch one side of her mouth, Helen pulled out a hefty squealing Catholic Bishop with several child molesting Priests clinging to his legs.  A quick flick sent the caterwauling bunch into the stew.  The Bishop should add a nice hint of hypocritical self-righteousness with a lingering aftertaste of restrictive dogma towards the female gender.

Ingredients from millennia of human history weighed down the shelves of Helen’s kitchen, which made the creation of each stew an art unto itself.  Every century carried a unique note that had to be accounted for if the final product was to be worthy.  Helen walked down the long line of shelves to where the light from the fire barely touched the dark shadows and the glass containers were smoky with age.  She selected a jar from near the bottom, rubbing away the accumulated dust of ages.  From within, Helen pulled out a golden statue of a cow.  She left the squirming orgy of the makers of this false idol in the jar; their unfinished orgasms holding them in an eternally unsatisfied agony of unreleased pleasure.  Resealing the jar she placed it back on the shelf.  From a nearby nook she pulled down a bottle filled with the blind arrogance of military leaders so set in their ways that the deaths of thousands could not change their useless methods.  The bottle swirled with broken bodies in a gravy of thick blood.  Helen returned to the bubbling cauldron to add her latest ingredients.

She tossed the golden cow into the stew and watched as it melted like butter, giving an oily film to the top of the concoction.  Helen lifted a paddle from the wall and gave the contents a stir before adding in the next ingredient; the comingled smell of sins tickled her nose.  Continuing to stir with her right hand, the mistress of the kitchen upended the entire contents of the bloody bottle.  The smell of scorched earth, decayed bodies, and dried blood rose strongly from the cauldron.  Young men dying on the battle fields of hypocrisy would form the base for the Master’s soup.  Helen hung the paddle back on the wall to allow the stew time to burn a little.

She brought a delicate finger to her lips.  The challenge was to create harmony in the stew without losing the distinctive notes of each individual spice.  The arrogance of ambitious officers, while overpowering, carried the desires of all the other spices to fruition and formed the tempo that organized them into a coherent symphony.  To dilute its presence too far would turn the mixture into a chaotic blend of competing players with no direction, every flavor trying to outdo the other.  Helen pulled a tarnished spoon from the pocket of her stained apron.  With a deft flick of her hand the spoon slipped just below the surface of the thick morass and carried a steaming sample to her ample lips.  She blew softly then placed the spoon into her mouth.  The rich blood of sacrificial lambs rolled over her tongue followed by the tang of secret meetings and religious doctrines, ending with the bitter taste of betrayal.  Not quite everything she was looking for yet.

Helen tapped the spoon in her open right hand as she contemplated what to add.  She moved to a set of shelves just behind the cauldron where newer hybrid varieties of older spices glistened in their shiny bottles.  She studied the shelves for several minutes before hooking a finger around a bottle of swirling grey mist and dancing sparks.  Removing the lid, Helen caught the strong aroma of gunpowder and deception from modern war profiteering.  This particular bottle carried a stronger variety gathered from the leading councils of the NRA who reaped wild profits for the corporations they represented by making it harder to stem the tide of guns sold to criminals, while using the fear of such weapons to sell more to the public they pretended to protect.  The refined hints of misdirection, duplicity, and rabid loyalty were intoxicating.  In combination with the blind Generals, the profiteering would add a satisfying base of rampant death and misguided trust.  Helen turned and sprinkled a liberal helping, almost sneezing from the pungent smell of spent gunpowder.  She returned to the cauldron and stirred for a while.

Inspiration came to her as she worked scorched mixture loose from the sides of the great pot.  She reached to the right for a jar wrapped in red velvet.  Pulling off the velvet, she revealed a jar filled with a thick golden substance that seemed to flash as it swirled inside the bottle.  Helen tugged the stopper out and sniffed the scent of floral perfumes, stale vomit, and leftover sex, Hollywood’s finest.   Women forced into visions of splendor by old men drunk on power and lust.  Girls who worshiped at Aphrodite’s Alter and suffered through the jealous goddess’s penance of anorexia, low self-esteem, and unrewarded trust.  Helen knew all too well the costs of following the dictates of this creature of legend.  The golden spice should add a nice touch of unobtainable perfection and foolish pride, affecting men, as well as women, since they would desire the illusion more than reality.  They would punish themselves for not obtaining the ideal, while they abused their lovers for failing their dreams.  Blending with the other spices, the golden essence would bind the others in a knot of tension that would explode upon the Master’s palate.

Helen added the essence of delusion then reached for the stirring paddle before sitting on the stool near the cauldron.  The only task left was to watch over the stew to keep it from burning too much as she allowed the concoction to reduce and concentrate the blend of sins to a conflagration of flavors.  Centuries passed as she tended the great cauldron.  Civilizations rose and fell.  Finally, Helen judged the mixture complete and extinguished the nether world fires beneath the charred cauldron.  She called out to the Master’s servant Adolf, while she searched the pantry for an appropriate vessel to carry the stew to his table.  Pulling down a large golden soup tureen she returned to her stew and neatly ladled the final product almost to the brim before replacing the lid.  Turning to the immaculately dressed servant, Helen carefully placed the Master’s dinner onto the intricately etched silver tray he held out.  Without a word, since he had no mouth, Adolf turned and left the kitchen through a heavy wooden door.

He walked down a short hall as quickly as possible though the fear of spilling even a single drop caused him to sweat profusely.  Opening the door at the end of the hall, he entered a room worked to a grand scale, several miles from wall to wall and floor to ceiling.   Thousands of fine crystal chandeliers with hundreds of candles each filled the vast space with a soft burning glow.  A fireplace, five hundred feet wide and two hundred feet high, was placed in the wall opposite the entrance and before it was set a table half a mile long with hundreds of seats to a side.  The Master sat near the fireplace at the head of the table.  Without stopping, the servant Adolf moved swiftly to the Master’s side, the focus of the room weighing heavily upon him.

When he finally arrived at the near end of the table, he refrained from looking at the ornate tableware set for the Master’s favored minions, whom would eat only after the Master had deemed the meal worthy.  Unfortunately, he could not tune out the orgy of lust, treachery, and murder, which played out continuously down the length of the table’s center, droplets of various bodily fluids threatening to stain his spotlessly maintained outfit.  With great relief, Adolf finished his journey and bowed to his better before carefully filling the Master’s bowl with the steaming broth and then he moved to his place behind and to the left of his Master.

Satan inhaled the spicy mixture of lust, greed, and violence, making some guesses at the ingredients this particular cook had used.  Millennia had weathered the world bald as cook after cook had failed his expectations for the final feast, the screaming anguish of his starving horde gnawing away at his delicate temper.  Tentatively, the Master grasped an ornate spoon and broke the surface of the stew.  He closed his eyes as the smells of sins, new and old, rose from the disturbed surface, saturating his sinuses and causing his nostrils to dilate with anticipation.  Satan’s sensual lips parted as he brought the spoon slowly to his mouth.  Flavor burst upon his tongue with a release of spent tension that deposited the blood of millions to caress his palate in a celebration of carnal desires, causing his overheated skin to rise in excited response.  Subtle tones of abused childhood melded magnificently with betrayed youth and bitter old age.   Boy molesting priests, philandering husbands, and vindictive sirens merged with religious fervor, hush money, and tabloid headlines.  Blind trust answered by cruel manipulation.  Satan quivered as he tasted the slaughter of entire species and the desecration of almost all of God’s creation.  A long sigh of pleasure escaped his lips as the spoon fell to the table forgotten.

The servant twitched with fear at the cacophony of furious hunger that raced along the walls of the enormous hall, while hundreds of servants rushed forward to fill the table before the horde was freed.  Few were successful as the Master made a negligent flick of his wrist.  Even the Master’s personal servant was flung viciously to the side, ending in the great fire behind Satan, as the ravening pack annihilated anything in their path.  Most of the candles throughout the chamber were extinguished, sending the room into a nightmare of primitive sounds and fears.  Slurping sounds were punctuated with the snap of bones as even the centerpiece of human sinners was consumed.  The sharp staccato din of platters crashing to the floor echoed off the distant walls.  Overall, Satan’s satisfied chuckle could be heard.  Finally, at Satan’s command the candles relit, freezing the horde of demons in mid debauchery for which the Master smiled fondly at them.

Satan arose from his seat to walk the length of the table, hundreds of gleaming red eyes and pointed ears tracking his every step.  A lazy hand caressed the spawn nearest as he progressed down the grand feast, letting the copious amounts of blood and bile drip from his delicate fingers.  When he reached the end of the table, Satan turned to address his minions.

“Beloved, at last our great task is at hand.  I held back your succor for millennia so that your perfection would not be sullied by an inferior product.  Tonight, you have supped on the sublime creation of all my dreams and are now prepared to unleash the fullest measure of your talents upon the flawed creations of the world.  Go, go and show the heavens the will of your Master!”

But for Satan, the room was now empty.  He strode gracefully toward the kitchen entrance as a wicked grin creased his handsome face.  When he entered the kitchen, the walls were spotless, the shelves modern, and the kitchen fully outfitted.  Helen winced as her appearance changed from one of weary exhaustion to radiant beauty before her master had taken a single step into the room, grand illusions even unto the end.  The Prince of Lies entered his kitchen with a broad smile on his face and a cocky swagger to his step.

“My dear Helen, you have finally outdone yourself.  My minions would also give you their expressions of joy, if they did not have other business to attend to.”  Helen shuddered involuntarily.  “Soon all will be set right and I have you to thank.  I see now that I could not live another day without your delectable creations so I have decided to make your position permanent.”

“Noooooooo…,” Helen screamed as her legs buckled.

On the surface, cities fell and nations died.  Man finally knew the apocalypse had come.

Oh Snap, They Didn’t Fix the Problem

I have just been watching some of the Grand Jury report on the conduct of the Catholic Church in my home state of Pennsylvania and felt it important I re-share some of my older posts about religion and the Catholic Church in particular.  All I can say is that my local Church has been doing a good job with their Burger Bashes to help cover the costs of the abuses they hid from.  I wonder if I actually know any victims.  As trump would say it “Sad”.  Oh yeah, many Catholics are conservatives, no wonder he got elected.  He is right up their alley.

To Abort or Not to Abort, that is the Question?

Pillars of Heaven

Simple Truth

Let Us Set the Pace

Another Project Almost Completed


I have finally put some quality time into this painting and am nearing completion.  As you can see I have added a lot to the background and played with the intensities of the main nebula, at this point there are nine layers to track.  Some for the background stars, some for the hazes, and one just to tone down the background star haze.  I push my limits with every new project I approach.  This image has been no different, hope you like the results?

Star Wars Trying to be More and Coming Up Less

Well, I finally watched Star Wars: The Last Jedi.  I am not viciously angry as so many fans have been since I really did not expect much after Star Wars: The Force Awakens and the failures that were the prequels.  My first impression was heavy handed.  Yes there was a strong push for social issues but that was only a small part of the problem for me.  I do not have any particular concern with social issues cropping up in movies, as long as, they fit the story not the story being twisted to highlight the issue.  I will say; however, that if I hear “Hope” one more time, I am going to scream.

The plot was plodding and silly because you ended up with what amounted to a slow speed space chase without OJ.  In addition, you had some characters running off to a casino and coming back in the middle of the battle.  Oh yeah,  they almost forgot what they were there for and the immediacy of the task. Adding to the irritation were the constant child written physical humor gags.  For some reason, both George Lucas and Kathleen Kennedy both feel you have to seriously dumb down the humor for American children.  Don’t get me started about the Porg, an alien species created just for the comic scene of Chewie trying to eat a Porg, while sad eyed Porgs guilt trip him.  I love how there legs make them look like a wooden statue when they are grilled.

Then let us talk about an Admiral of the resistance command in a sexy evening gown during battle, just like every soldier does.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy seeing Laura Dern in a sexy dress, but it is not appropriate for commanding soldiers.  For me, this also goes back to The Force Awakens and a question for me, why are only a few people are resisting a grave threat to the entire Republic?  The New Republic is only a few decades old and they are already ignoring dangerous situations.  What situation is more important than wiping out the remnants of the Empire.  Also, there are a lot of unnecessary conflicts and tensions created between characters in the resistance.

There is more I wish to say at a later date, but I do not have the time for now.

To continue, did I mention the overuse of childish sight gag humor, even awkward teenage prank call comedy.  While we are on the subject, how many times does the First Order fall for the obvious delaying tactic.  They put the poor-shooting Stormtroopers of the original trilogy to shame.  Not much of a fighting force in my eyes.  But the Resistance has its crappy battle tactics too.  How lame are the new bombers in this movie.  Dead eye WWII style bombers to hearken back to G. L.’s ideas for the Millennium Falcon’s escape scenes.  Did they not watch the actual first movie and the Tie Bombers in The Empire Strikes Back?  Things move faster in the first trilogy, which made sense for the futuristic technology of the universe.  Oh, by the way, in WWII, those kind of bombers were not very effective against ships

In addition, Princess Leia can survive a vacuum and fly back to safety while unconscious.  No big though.  Don’t forget all the brilliant ideas that work and then fall through.  Only to lead to other ideas that work and fall through, which is almost a running gag throughout the film.  All to lead to an updated rendition of the battle of Hoth from The Empire Strikes Back, almost plagiarized.

I did not address one of my major grievances; however, the early ending of the major villain just like the prequels did with Darth Maul.  The first movie built up the Snoke character as the successor to the emperor even though we never get any background on where he came from and how he became such a powerful figure.  Now halfway into the movie, when he seems to be in control, he is killed off.  That’s it, no deep revelations of his and Ben Solo’s relationship and how Ben outsmarted him.  Boom, Snoke out and Ben in.  But when cool calculating Ben sees Luke again he turns into a babbling, petulant ten year old again.

I probably could go on, but I feel like wrapping this up.  Shocker, I actually saw some things in the movie that could have made it a great picture if the weeds of the gags and heavy handed social agenda could have been pulled to let the good material grow.  The force connected push/pull scenes between Kylo and Rey could have been deep comments on their relationships to each other and Luke.  If the actions of Luke toward Ben Solo could have been fleshed out more, they would have added greatly to the story, even been the focus of the movie.  The three circling around each other as Snoke manipulates things.  The movie would have been a character driven piece like Empire.  Take those pieces, rework The Force Awakens to feed into them then conclude the arc in the last movie.  My thought on Luke trying to kill Ben was that it was rubbish.  He learned too much about that in the first trilogy; however, that he failed as Ben’s teacher in some other way still could have been used.  Maybe not being able to deal with Kylo’s anger.  Oh well, we will never see those movies.  Anyway, this is my two cents worth.  If you have any thoughts you want to discuss, feel free to comment.


Where’s the Dramamine?

I am a big fan of Science Fiction, if you have not guessed it, and one of the big story hooks is the “big dumb object”.  This is used to cover the various stories that use a large mysterious object, be it an asteroid or giant ship, as the focus of the tale.  As for me, I have read many stories that have contained large mysterious objects that were still very good reads, since each author brings their own quirks to the story line.  One of the creations that falsl into this trope is the Dyson sphere.

A Dyson sphere is an enormous hollow sphere that encases a star where people are living on the inner surface that faces the star.  The living space is just ridiculous compared to a normal planet.  Star Trek the Next Generation did a credible take on the idea in the episode “Relics”.  Another BDO in past and present science fiction is the idea  of a ring world.  First introduced and written about by Larry Niven then utilized in the Halo franchise of video games.

What got me to thinking, and the reason for this post, is a flaw in the idea of a Dyson sphere.  One of the reasons given for creating a Dyson sphere is the large living surface on the inside of the sphere around the star.  The flaw that I have recently perceived is that there is no way, other than the writing gimmick of artificial gravity, to create a uniform gravity effect over the entire inner surface.  If you do not resort to a gimmick, then you are left trying to simulate gravity through centrifugal force by spinning the sphere.  That is how Niven’s Ringworld creates its illusion of gravity.  The Ringworld spins around its sun like a hula hoop.

The problem with trying this approach with a Dyson sphere is that wherever you place the axis of spin, you are going to have a greater centrifugal force around the equator of spin and less at the poles created by the axis.  There is no way to spin the sphere such that no axis is created or does not result in the creation of an equator or poles, which would effectively turn the sphere into a ring as far as comfortable living space goes.  This is my thought anyway, let me know what you think.