Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Among the Wild Cybers

Among the Wild Cybers
© 2018 Christopher L. Bennett
 256 pages

In the not-so-distant future, humanity's exploration of the cosmos has begun in earnest -- driven in part by the plight of Earth, with collapsing ecosystems forcing outward movement.  Among the Wild Cybers is a collection of previously published short stories, set in various phases of a sparefacing race's evolution -- from pioneering lunar colonies to faster than light travel in the 24th century.  Evolution is the word to use, because not only are new kinds of societies being constructed, with unique cultures on colony worlds and space habs, but humans are changing themselves directly, through both genetic modification and cybernetics.   Readers are dropped into the middle of things for each tale, with backstory information filtering in as the story (typically mysteries, with some dramas and a touch of action) unfolds. This approach works well most of the time, although there is a helpful historical overview in the back for the reader who still feels left in the dark.

I know Christopher L. Bennett as a Star Trek author,  and the only one I know of that puts real scientific consideration into the worlds, species, and technical dilemmas that he creates.  That and the prospect of reading about genetic supermen made this an easy sell for me.  If you're at all interested in artificial intelligence or transhumanism, there's plenty of interest here,  in part because Bennett doesn't go for easy answers.   While there are cyber intelligences present in the stories,  Bennett's characters indicate these are rare. Most attempts at creating a genuine metamind fail, as the creation either goes insane or sinks into silence. Even the machine intelligences which do exist can't simply be  downloaded and transferred at whim.    Bennett's premises succeed in some very intriguing tales, especially in the title story "Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele", about cybernetic creatures with the ability to evolve. There's also beauty here, particularly in the story, "Caress of a Butterfly's Wings".  

Some of the tales:
  •   "Among the Wild Cybers of Cybele": a scientist on a colony world fights to defend a variety of cybernetic lifeforms which evolved from human probes
  • "Aspiring to be Angels":  a troubleshooting-trainee and her boss investigate an incident where an attempt at creating a superhuman machine intelligence has somehow rendered the human developers insane.
  • "No Dominion":  which is the only story not to share a history with the rest, death has been defeated.  This makes murder investigations  a little more complicated.
  • "The Weight of Silence": , a woman who is rendered blind and deaf by an explosion aboard her ship must, groping along with her similarly disabled shipmate,  find a way to communicate with one another and somehow put themselves into a position to be rescued.
  • "Aggravated Vehicular Genocide":   the human crew of the ship Arachne is pulled from stasis by furious aliens, who want to know why they murdered 88,000 of their people.
  • "Caress of a Butterfly's Wings" witnesses an act of sacrificial love toward a perceived enemy by an augmented woman sailing through the stars.

As is usual for Bennett, there are annotations at his website .(Look under Original Fiction / Original Short Fiction for the rest.) You can also read a version of the historical overview there.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Books, meet data!

Data: 2008 - 2017

So, it turns out that turning ten years of book-reading data into a 15-item line graph is..kind of anti-climatic.   Most of the items just kind of blend together, and the only things that leap out are (1) history's uncontested place as the big kahuna;  (2) that massive spike in religion and philosophy in 2009 that was never repeated;   and (3),  science's slow descent and then recovery. That was something of a bust, so let's look at something more...fun.

Data: 2007-2017

In mid-2010, Star Wars had a comfortable lead over Star Trek books, something like 10 to 2. Then that year, I read thirty Trek books and it was never a contest from then on.  

Nonfiction | Fiction Breakdown

From May 2007 to the end of  2017, I read...1,749 books.     The majority (62%) of that is nonfiction.  Fiction has varied over the years, but at most it's never been more than 53%.

2007:   36%
2008:   42%
2009    38%
2010    53%
2011   53%
2012    33%
2013    31%
2014    40%
2015    35%
2016    37%
2017    25%

How about...science reading, broken into the categories I use for my report card? 

Data: 2007-2017

You can see why I adopted the scavenger hunt approach in 2017:   there's a lot of pooling in biology and anthropology that would be more exaggerated were "Flora and Fauna" not a separate category.  Appearing on this list but not in my report card is "General", because there were Asimov science-essay collections that would run the gamut.

That's probably enough fun with MS Excel for one weekend. We'll try it again in 2027..

Saturday, July 28, 2018

We the Living

We the Living
© 1936  Ayn Rand
528 pages
"I fear for your future, Kira," said Victor. "It's time to get reconciled to life. You won't get far with those ideas of yours."
"That," said Kira, "depends on what direction I want to go."

Ayn Rand fled the nascent Soviet Union at the tender age of twenty,  and by way of introducing herself to the United States literary scene, she wrote a novel denouncing both God and the state. It is slightly autobiographical;  at least, it's the closest she ever came to writing the story of her life.  Featuring young Kira Argounva, a would-be engineer whose ambitions are smothered by the nascent totalitarian state of the Soviets,  it examines the impact that  said states can have on the lives  of the people under their command. Two other characters are quite prominent -- an ardent young Communist officer (Andrei Taganov,) and an embittered enemy of the Soviets (Leo Kovalensky), desiring nothing but to escape.   Through their lives we see not only the results oppression can have on the oppressed, but the soul-deforming  effects that oppression has on its instigators.

The Argounva family has been rendered impoverished by the Bolkshevik triumph, losing their factory and shop under the new economic rules. Seeing her relations turned into near-vagrants through political malice, Kira already has good reason to hate the Soviets.  Her family's previous status also marks she and her cousins as pariahs, however: the ticket to success in the new state is to become a member of the Party, and even if they were willing to play the part they're not allowed.  They are,  in Kira's frustrated words later in the novel, forbidden to live -- and forbidden to escape, as Kira learns when she and a free-spirited boyfriend named Leo are picked up by the secret police.  Kira and Leo are both rebels, but while she simply endures what the Soviets throw her -- refusing to give in or give up, even swallowing her pride and working for the government  so she can escape--   Leo slowly withers.  I mostly liked Kira for her name (reminded me of another Kira with far more personality)   A key member of the story is Andrei Taganov, someone who shares much of Kira's outlook on life, but believes in the Soviet cause.  He and Kira are lovers, and he offers crucial assistance to her -- but perhaps the most interesting part of the novel is witnessing his inner turmoil as the growing Soviet state's moral deformity is revealed, both  its  pervasive corruption and the tyranny that outstrips the worse crimes of the tsar.

Like 1984, We the Living does not have a tidy, happy ending.   The image of a boot stamping on a human face forever is absent, however; instead, we encounter a mixture of tragedy and glory.  This is achieved because certain characters had already gotten the only victory that mattered: they knew themselves, they believed in themselves. Even if they died, they died free and not as befuddled drones or anxious cattle.  Although I wasn't especially interested in the two main characters -- Andrei's moral struggle is more compelling than Leo's slow abandonment of a worthwhile life, and Kira only gets really fascinating when she's been robbed of every support,  and is alone in the wilderness --     the themes really are eternal, and I'm not surprised that the Italian fascists attempted to stop the book and its  unauthorized movie adaptation from being spread under their watch, since fascism and communism differ not a jot or a tittle in their methods and depravity,  only in what they advertise is worth killing for.

I have the Italian film  on the way, hopefully with English subtitles.

  • The Revolutionist,   Robert Littell A novel about a Russian immigrant to the United States who reutrns to Russia to participate in the civil war and is crestfallen to survive long enough to see the revolution begin devouring its children.
  • The Gulag Archipelago Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.   While focused on the prison system, offers a look into the incredibly oppressive atmosphere of the Soviet union.  Recommended reading for any one  with a tendency to start sentences with "There should be a law..." 
  • "Why The Worst Get On Top", F.A. Hayek. Essay printed in The Road to Serfdom. Available online via the Foundation for Economic Education.
  • 1984, George Orwell. 

Friday, July 27, 2018

What I Read in 2010

At last we come to 2010, the last year I never kept a list for.   At 184 items, it's my second-highest year. This was the year historical fiction really arrived, driven by Bernard Cornwell and C.S. Forester. but with a little help from Alison Weir.   The largest change, however,  is the massive spike in Star Trek reading as I decided to catch up on the new Treklit.   History finally overtook science,  pursuing its destiny as queen of the shelves..


  • Storm of Steel, Ernst Junger
  • I Am Spock, Leonard Nimoy
  • Yours, Isaac Asimov; Isaac Asimov
  • American Infidel, Orvin Larson
  • Joan of Arc: The Legend and the Reality, Frances Gies
  • Nehru: The Invention of India,  Shashi Tharoor
  • The Life of Elizabeth I, Alison Weird
  • The Life and Times of Horatio Hornblower, C. Northcote Parkinson
  • Frank: The Voice, James Kaplan

Classics and  Literature

  • The Bhagavad Gita, trans/interpreted Stephen Mitchell
  • The Iron Heel, Jack London
  • A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens
  • The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written, Martin Seymour-Smith
  • The Roman Way, Edith Hamliton
  • A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Mark Twain

Fantasy, Horror,  and Speculative

  • Hitler's War,   Harry Turtledove
  • The Magicians, Lev Grossman
  • The Man with the Iron Heart, Harry Turtledove
  • The End of the Beginning, Harry Turtledove
  • West and East,  Harry Turtledove
  • Christine,  Stephen King
  • The Good Guy, Dean Koontz
  • HP and the Chamber of Secrets Audiobook
  • HP and The Prisoner of Azkaban, audiobok
General Fiction

  • The Best American Short Stories (2008)
  • Murder at the ABA, Isaac Asimov
  • The Last Juror, John Grisham
  • Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography, Lemony Snicket

  • The Gangs of New York, Herbert Ashbury
  • Lost Discoveries, Dick Teresi
  • 1491: New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus, Charles C. Mann
  • North Korea: Another Country, Bruce Cumings
  • Homage to Catalonia, George Orwell
  • Africa: A Biography of the Continent, John Reader
  • Memories of Old Cahaba, Anne Gayle
  • The Other Side of Selma, Dickie WIlliams
  • The World Through Maps, John Short
  • Chainbreaker's War, ed. Jeanne Winston Adler
  • Citizens, Simon Schama
  • La Belle France, Alistair Horne
  • Heroes of History, Will Durant
  • Don't Know Much About Geography, Ken Davs
  • Working IX to V, Vickie Leon
  • The Birth of the United States, Isaac Asimov
  • Disease Fighters Since 1950,  Ray Spangenburg
  • The Spanish-American War, Albert Marrin
  • Our Oriental Heritage, Will Durant
  • The Life of Greece, Will Durant
  • Caesar and Christ, Will Durant
  • The Imperial Cruise, James Bradley
  • America's Hidden History, Kenneth Davis
  • What Went Wrong?, Bernard Lewis
  • The Mother Tongue, BIll Bryson
  • Britain: At the Edge of the World?, Simon Schama
  • Mapping Human History, Steve Olson
  • The Earth Shall Weep, James Wilson
  • Coal: A Human History, Barbara Freese

Historical Fiction

  • The Lady Elizabeth, Alison Weir
  • Captain Horatio Hornblower,  C.S. Forester
  • Young Hornblower, C.S. Forester
  • Commodore Hornblower, C.S. Forester
  • Lord Hornblower, C.S. Forester
  • Hornblower and the Hotspur, C.S. Forester
  • Hornblower and the Crisis, CS Forester
  • Captive Queen, Alison Weir
  • Give Me Back my Legions, Harry Turtledove
  • Admiral Hornblower in the West Indies, C.S. Forester
  • Sharpe's Eagle, Bernard Cornwell
  • Empire, Steven Saylor
  • Innocent Traitor, Alison Weir
  • True Grit, Charles Portis
  • Heretic, Bernard Cornwell
  • The Last Kingdom, Bernard Cornwell
  • The Pale Horseman, Bernard Cornwell
  • Lords of the North, Bernard Cornwell
  • Sword Song, Bernard Cornwell


  • Asimov Laughs Again, Isaac Asimov
  • Lamb, Christopher Moore
  • A Dirty Job, Christopher Moore
  • Potatoes are Cheaper, Max Shulman
  • Rally Round the Flag, Boys!, Max Shulman
  • Barefoot Boy with Cheek, Max Shulman
  • I Was a Teenage Dwarf,  Max Shulman
  • The Stupidest Angel, Christopher Moore

Law and Disorder
  • Under and Alone, William McQueen
  • Casino,  Nicholas Pileggi

Mysteries and Thrillers

  • The Mao Case,  Qiu Xiaolong
  • The King of  Torts, John Grisham
  • The Devil's Punchbowl, Greg Iles
  • A Whiff of Death, Isaac Asimov
  • The Confession, John Grisham
  • The Chamber, John Grisham
  • Conspirata, Robert Harris
  • The Brethren, John Grisham
  • The Summons, John Grisham

Plays, Poetry, and Language
  • Sand and Foam, Khalil Gibran
  • The Infernova, S.A. Alenthony
  • Stories Behind Words, Peter Limburg

Politics and Civic Interest
  • Red Emma Speaks, Alix Kate Shulman
  • A Power Goverments Cannot Suppress,  Howard Zinn
  • The Geography of Nowhere, Jim Kunstler
  • The Road to Wigan Pier, George Orwell
  • Weapons of Satire, Mark Twain
Religion and Philosophy

  • Letters from a Stoic, Seneca
  • A Guide to the Good Life,  William Irvine
  • The Emperor's Handbook, David and Scot Hicks
  • Dinner with a Perfect Stranger, David Gregory
  • The Year of Living Biblically, AJ Jacobs
  • The Ethics of Star Trek, Judith Barad, Ed Robertson
  • Letter from the Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr
  • Strength to Love, Martin Luther King Jr
  • Plato's Podcasts, Mark Vernon
  • Reading Judas, Elaine Pagels and Karen King
  • The Art of Happiness ns a Troubled World,  TenzinGyatso 
  • The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Science and Nature

  • The Tyrannosaurus Prescription, Isaac Asimov
  • It's Raining Frogs and Fishes!, Jerry Dennis
  • The Private Life of Plants, David Attenborough
  • The Trials of Life, David Attenborough
  • The Life of Birds, David Attenborough
  • Dinosaur Laves, Jack Horner
  • The Roving Mind, Isaac Asimov
  • Stiff, Mary Roach
  • African Exodus, Christopher Stringer and Robin McKie
  • Spook, Mary Roach
  • Packing for Mars, Mary Roach
  • Rapt: Attention and the Focused Life, Winifred Gallaghter
  • The Naked Lady Who Stood On Her Head, Oliver Sachs
  • The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking
  • The Mind's Eye, Oliver Sachs
Science Fiction

  • Around the World in 80 Days, Jules Verne
  • Contact, Carl Sagan
  • Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton
  • The Complete Robot, Isaac Asimov
  • The Andromeda Strain, Michael Crichton
  • The Lost World, Michael Crichton
  • Timeline, Michael Crichton
  • The War of the Worlds, HG Wells
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Jules Verne

Society and Culture

  • American Nerd, Ben Nugent
Star Trek and Star Wars

  • The Lives of Dax, various
  • Millennium Falcon, James Luceno
  • Tatooine Ghost, Troy Denning
  • Hard Contact, Karen Traviss
  • Revenge of the Sith, Matt Stover
  • The Reunion, MIchael Jan Friedman
  • Death in Winter, Michael Jan Friedman
  • Tales of the Dominion War, various authors
  • Quotable Star Trek, ed. Jill Sherwin
  • Greater than the Sum, Christopher Bennett
  • Stargazer: Three, Michael Jan Friedman
  • STDS9: Betrayal, Lois Tilton
  • Dynasty of Evil, Drew Karpyshyn
  • The Buried Age, Christopher Bennett
  • A Time to be Born, John Vornholt
  • Provenance of Shadows, David R. George
  • Gods of Night, David Mack
  • Mere Mortals, David Mack 
  • Lost Souls, David Mack
  • Full Circle, Kirsten Beyer
  • Unworthy, Kirsten Beyer
  • Distant Shores, various
  • Worlds of DS9 Vol I, various
  • The Good that Men Do, Martin and Mangels
  • STDS9: Fallen Heroes, Dafydd ab Hugh
  • Warpath, David Mack
  • A Singular Destiny, Keith RA Decandido
  • Taking Wing, Martin and Mangels
  • Orion's Hounds, Christopher L Bennett
  • Zero Sum Game, David Mack
  • Kobayashi Maru, Martin and Mangels
  • The Kobayashi Maru, Julia Ecklar
  • Losing the Peace, William Leisner
  • Beneath the Raptor's Wings, Martin and Mangels
  • Seize the Fire, Michael Martin

Travel and Adventure

  • Into the Wild, John Krakauer
  • The Motorcycle Diaries, Ernesto Guevara
  • A Walk Across America, Peter Jeknins
  • Travels with Charley,  John Steinbeck
  • Walking towards Walden, John Hanson Mitchell
  • Stephen Fry in America, Stephen Fry
  • A Walk in the Woods, Bill Bryson

What I Read in 2009

Continuing in my attempts to make 2007 - 2010 legible in terms of the books I read, below is everything from 2009.  At 218 books, it stands as my biggest year on record, and the closest I've come to rivaling it was in 2010 and 2016, when I managed 184 and 181 books respectively.  The big trend this year was an intense interest in religion and philosophy, which counted for nearly three times as much as its competitors, history and science. Speaking of which, they were still tied, each with 22 books.


  • Frank Sinatra: An American Legend, Nancy Sinatra
  • Out of my Life and Thought, Albert Schweitzer
  • Buddha, Karen Armstrong
  • Boss of Bosses, Joseph F. O'Brien and Andris Kurins
  • Jesus, Marcus Borg
  • Robert Ingersoll, David Anderson
  • Cicero, Anthony Everitt
  • With the Old Breed, Gene Sledge
  • Black Edelweiss, Johann Voss
  • China Marine, Gene Sledge

Business and Economics

  • Freakonomics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner

Classics and Literary
  • The Book that Changed my Life, Roxanne Cody and Joy Johannsen
  • Familiar Poems, Annotated, Isaac Asimov
  • The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien
  • In the Beginning, Isaac Asimov
  • The Prince and the Pauper, Mark Twain

Fantasy, Horror, and Speculative

  • The Sea of Monsters, Rick Riordan
  • In the Presence of Mine Enemies, Harry Turtledove
  • The Titan's Curse, Rick Riordan
  • Demon in my View, Amelia Atwater-rhodes
  • Colonization: Aftershocks, Harry Turtledove
  • The Battle of the Labyrinth, Rick Riordan
  • Homeward Bound, Harry Turtledove
  • Shattered Mirror, Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
  • The DaVince Code, Dan Brown
  • Magic, Isaac Asimov
  • The Last Olympian, Rick Riordan

General Fiction

  • Only Begotten Daughter, James Morrow
  • Gump and Co, Winston Groom
  • Jesus, Deepok Chopra
  • Bagombo Snuff Box, Kurt Vonnegut
  • The Gospel According to the Son, Norman Mailer
  • The Bad Beginning, Lemony Snicket
  • The Reptile Room, Lemony Snicket
  • The Wide Window, Lemony Snicket
  • Jennifer Government, Max Barry
  • The Miserable Mill, Lemony Snicket
  • The Austere Academy, Lemony Snicket
  • The Ersatz Elevator, Lemony Snicket
  • Company, Max Barry
  • The Vile Village, Lemony Snicket
  • The Hostile Hospital, Lemony Snicket
  • Syrup, Max Barry
  • The Carnivorous Carnival, Lemony Snicket
  • The Slippery Slope , Lemony Snicket
  • The Grim Grotto, Lemony Snicket
  • The Penultimate Peril, Lemony Snicket
  • The End, Lemony Snicket
  • Kokoro, Natsume Soseki
  • Marx in Soho, Howard Zinn
  • Skipping Christmas, John Grisham
  • Ford County: Stories, John Grisham

Historical Fiction

  • Imperium, Robert Harris
  • Pompeii, Robert Harris
  • Enigma, Robert Harris
  • Archangel, Robert Harris
  • Roman Blood, Steven Saylor
  • Arms of Nemesis, Steven Saylor
  • The House of the Vestals, Steven Saylor
  • The Venus Throw, Steven Saylor
  • Catalina's Riddle, Steven Saylor
  • Roma, Steven Saylor
  • A Murder on the Appian Way, Steven Saylor
  • Last Seen in Masslia, Steven Saylor
  • A Mist of Prophecies, Steven Saylor
  • A Gladiator Dies Only Once, Steven Saylor
  • Caesar's Judgment, Steven Saylor
  • No Less than Victory, Jeff Shaara
  • The Triumph of Caesar, Steven Saylor


  • Mysteries of the Middle Ages, Thomas Cahill
  • How the Irish Saved Civilization, Thomas Cahill
  • Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, Thomas Cahill
  • The Gifts of the Jews, Thomas Cahill
  • Desire of the Everlasting Hills,  Thomas Cahill
  • The Wordy Shipmates, Sarah Vowell
  • Then Discoveries that Rewrote History, Patrick Hunt
  • Rubicon, Tom Holland
  • The Sons of Caesar. Philip Matyszak
  • The Great Warming, Brian Fagan
  • Persian Fire, Tom Holland
  • Kingdoms of Gold, Kingdoms of Jade, Brian Fagan
  • The Moscow Option, David Downing
  • A People's History of American Empire, Howard Zinn
  • A People's History of the United States, Howard Zinn
  • The Great Journey, Brian Fagan
  • The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman
  • Islam:A Short History, Karen Armstrong
  • Medical Firsts, Robert Adler
  • A People's History of the American Revolution, Ray Ralphael
  • A History of the Arab Peoples,  Albert Hourani
  • The Japanese Experience, W.G. Beasley
  • Constantinople: The Forgotten Empire, Isaaac Asimov
  • An Honorable German, Charles McCain


  • Waiter Rant, "The Waiter"
  • Barrel Fever, David Sedaris
  • Darwin Awards III, ed. Wendy Norcutt
  • Saints Behaving Badly, Thomas Craughwell

Mysteries and Thrillers

  • The Ghost, Robert Harris
  • The Associate, John Grisham
  • The Return of the Black Widowers, Isaac Asimov
  • The Quiet Game, Greg Iles
  • Third Degree, Greg Iles
  • Turning Angel, Greg Iles
  • Sleep No More, Greg Iles
  • Ricochet, Sandra Brown
  • Casebook of the Black Widowers, Isaac Asimov

Politics and Civic Interest

  • Securing Democracy: Why We Have an Electoral College, Gary Gregg II
  • The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama
  • Are We Rome?, Cullen Murphy
  • The Zinn Reader, Howard Zinn

Religion and Philosophy

  • Stoic Warriors, Nancy Sherman
  • The Book of Ecclesiastes, Tremper Longman III
  • A World Waiting to be Born, M. Scott Peck
  • Mythology, Edith Hamilton
  • What the Buddha Taught, Walpola Rahula
  • Ten Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You, Oliver Thomas
  • The Roman Mind, Edith Hamilton
  • The Compleat Gentleman, Brad Miner
  • The Art of Happiness,  Tenzin Gyatso
  • I to Myself, Henry David Thoreau
  • An Open Heart, Tenjin Gyatso
  • Here if You Need Me, Kate Braestrup
  • Mere Christianity, CS Lewis
  • Ethics for a New Millennium, Tenzin Gyatso
  • Transforming the Mind, Tenzin Gyatso
  • The Words of Martin Luther King Jr, Coretta Scott King
  • The Universe in a Single Atom, Tenzin Gyatso
  • The Guiding Light of Lao Tzu, Wayne Dyer
  • Abounding Grace, M. Scott Peck
  • Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life, Wayne Dyer
  • Wicca for Beginners, Thea Sabin
  • Here I Stand, John Shelby Spong
  • Wisdom of the Ages, Wayne Dyer
  • The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell
  • Selected Essays, Michel de Montaigne
  • The Great Transofrmation,  Karen Armstrong
  • The Road Less Traveled,  M. Scott Peck
  • The Faith Club, Ranya Indliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner
  • God's Problem, Bart Ehrman
  • The Third Jesus, Deepak Chopra
  • Further Along the Road Less Travelled, M. Scott Peck
  • Blue like Jazz, Donald Miller
  • Socrates Cafe, Christopher Phillips
  • Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig
  • You Don't Have to Be Wrong for Me to be Right, Brad Hirschfield
  • The Art of Travel, Alain de Botton
  • Plato and a Platypus Walk Into a Bar, Thomas Cathcart
  • The Great Divorce, CS Lewis
  • Drawing Down the Moon, Margaret Adler
  • Finding Your Religion. Scotty McKlennan
  • Reclaiming Virtue, Ray Bradshaw
  • Walden, Henry David Thoreau
  • Aristotle’s Children, Richard Rubenstein
  • The Essential Koran, ed. Thomas Cleary
  • Who Needs God?, Harold Kushner
  • Alternative American Religions, Stephen Stein
  • Becoming the Answer to our Prayers, Shane Claiborne
  • A History of God, Karen Armstrong
  • Taming the Mind, Thubten Chondron
  • The Philosophy of Humanism, Corliss Lamont
  • The Wisdom of Harry Potter, Edmund Kern
  • Our Chosen Faith, Forrester Church
  • I Sold my Soul on eBay, Hemant Mehta
  • The Consolations of Philsoophy, Alain de Botton
  • Love and Death, Forrester Church
  • Humanist Anthology, Margaret Knight
  • The Spiritual Teachings of Marcus Aurelius, Mark Forstater
  • For Everything a Season, Philip Gully
  • The Best of Robert Ingersoll, Robert Greely
  • Living Buddha, Living Christ, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • When Religion Becomes Evil, Charles Kimball

  • Sway, Ori and Rom Brafman
  • The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, Peter Quamen
  • Evolution for Everyone, David Sloan Wilson
  • The Sun Shines Bright, Isaac Asimov
  • The Naked Sun, Isaac Asimov
  • Real Life X-Files,  Joe Nickell
  • Frontiers II, Isaac Asimov
  • Through a Window, Jane Goodall
  • Our Inner Ape, Frans de Waal
  • A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking
  • Asimov on Astronomy, Isaac Asimov
  • Black Holes and Baby Universes,  Stephen Hawking
  • Why Evolution is True, Jerry Coyne
  • Anthropology for Dummies, Cameron Smith and Evan Davies
  • Dolphins, Jacques Yves-Cousteau
  • The Demon-Haunted World, Carl Sagan
  • Death by Black Hole, Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Flim Flam!, James Randi
  • Beautiful Minds, Maddalena Bearzi, Craig B. Stanford
  • The Cosmic Connection, Carl Sagan
  • The Greatest Show on Earth, Richard Dawkins

Science Fiction
  • The Robots of Dawn, Isaac Asimov
  • The Time Machine, HG Wells
  • Gold, Isaac Asimov
  • Brave New World, Aldhous Huxley
  • Pebble in the Sky, Isaac Asimov
  • Asimov: The Complete Stories, Volume I, Isaac Asimov
  • In the Footprints of God, Greg Iles
Society and Culture
  • Deer Hunting with Jesus, Joe Bageant
  • Gang Leader for a Day, Sudhir Venkatesh
  • American Mania, Peter Whtbrow
  • The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby
  • To Have or to Be?, Erich Fromm
  • In Praise of Slowness, Carl Honore
  • Fates Worse than Death, Kurt Vonnegut
  • Off the Books: The Underground Economy of the Urban Poor,  Sudhir Venkatesh

Star Trek and Star Wars 

  • Darth Bane: Rule of Two,  Drew Karpshyn
  • Yoda: Dark Rendezvous, Sean Stewart
  • Jedi Trial, Daniel Sherman and Dan Cragg
  • Shatterpoint, Matt Stover
  • Heir to the Empire, Timothy Zahn
  • Star Trek: Spartacus, T. L. Mancour
  • Sarek, AC Crispin
  • Star Wars: the Force Unleashed, Sean Williams
  • Dark Force Rising, Timothy Zahn
  • The Last Command, Timothy Zahn

Technology and Society
  • Amusing Ourselves to Death,  Neil Postman

Travel and Adventure 
  • Lost on Planet China, J. Maarten Troost

Thursday, July 26, 2018

What I Read in 2008

As mentioned a few days ago,  I'm presently creating lists of books read for the first four years of this blog, from the days before I'd adopted that useful practice. I've discovered in the process that many titles trigger flashes of memory -- like sitting in the laundry room of my school on a wintry day, reading The Confessions of Max Tivioli, eating beef stroganoff, and waiting on my clothes to dry.  It's very curious, the things brains choose to retain..    2008 was the year that history began to assert its right to the throne, through surprisingly it and science were still evenly matched. It was also the year that I really got into Isaac Asimov: the "science fiction" category was 100% Asimov.


  • Naturalist,E. O. Wilson
  •  Personal Memoirs, US Grant
  • It’s Been a Good Life, Isaac Asimov
  • Carl Sagan: A Life, Keay Davidson
  • The Way You Wear Your Hat: Frank Sinatra and the Lost Art of Livin’, Bill Zehme
  • Sinatra: the Artist and the Man, John Lahr
  •  I, Asimov, Isaac Asimov

Classics and Literary

  •  The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  • The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Harry Potter Universe, Tere Stouffer
  •  Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare,Isaac Asimov
  •  Books that Changed the World, Robert B. Downs
  • A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
  • Asimov's Guide to the Bible Volume I, Isaac Asimov
  • Great Books, David Denby

Fantasy, Horror, and Speculative

  •  How Few Remain, Harry Turtledove
  • The Great War: American Front,Harry Turtledove
  • The Great War: Walk in Hell, Harry Turtledove
  • The Great War: Breakthrough,Harry Turtledove
  • Blood and Iron, Harry Turtledove
  • The Center Cannot Hold, Harry Turtledove
  • The Victorious Opposition, Harry Turtledove
  •  Return Engagement, Harry Turtledove
  •  Drive to the East, Harry Turtledove
  •  The Grapple, Harry Turtledove
  •  In at the Death, Harry Turtledove
  •  Fatherland, Robert Harris
  • The Two Georges, Harry Turtledove and Richard Dreyfuss
  •  Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice
  • Firestarter, Stephen King
  • In the Balance, Harry Turtledove
  • Upsetting the Balance, Harry Turtledove
  • Striking the Balance, Harry Turtledove
  •  Colonization: Second Contact, Harry Turtledove
  • Colonization: Down to Earth, Harry Turtledove
  •  The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordian

General Fiction

  • The Confessions of Max Tivoli, Andrew Sean Greer
  • Playing for Pizza, John Grisham
  • Jailbird, Kurt Vonnegut
  •  World Made by Hand, James Kunstler

Historical Fiction

  •  Garden of Beasts, Jeffery Deaver
  • The Steel Wave, Jeff Shaara
  •  Blood of Flowers, Anita Amirrezvani
  • The Leopard, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa


  • Greece and Rome: Builders of Our World, Paul MacKendrick
  • France 1814-1919: The Rise of a Liberal-Democratic Society, John B. Wolf
  •  Sinister Touches: The Secret War Against Hitler, Robert Goldston
  • The History of the S.S, G.S. Grabel
  • Washington's Secret War, Thomas Fleming
  • The Trial of Madame Caillaux,Edward Berenson
  •  Thomas Jefferson: Author of America,Christopher Hitchens
  •  1776, David McCullough
  • The Making of the Middle Ages, R.W. Southern
  • Only Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen
  • Since Yesterday, Frederick Lewis Allen
  •  No Ordinary Time, Doris Kearns Goodwin
  •  Surviving Auschwitz, Primo Levi
  •  The Story of the Titanic, As Told By Its Passengers
  •  The Greatest Benefit to Mankind, Roy Porter
  • Life in a Medieval Castle, Frances and Joseph Gies
  • Communism, Richard Pipes
  • Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages, Frances and Joseph Gies
  •  Cathedral, Forge, and Waterwheel, Frances and Joseph Gies
  •  Life in a Medieval Village, Frances and Joseph Gies
  •   Women in the Middle Ages, Frances and Joseph Gies
  •  The Knight in History, Frances Gies
  • Collapse, Jared Diamond
  •  The Echo of Greece, Edith Hamilton


  •  The Jerk with the Cell Phone, Barbara Pachter and Susan Magee
  • Isaac Asimov’s Treasury of Humor by Isaac Asimov
  •  Me of Little Faith, Lewis Black
  •  When You Are Engulfed in Flames, David Sedaris
  •  Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris
  •  Wampeters, Foma, and Granfallons, Kurt Vonnegut

Mysteries and Thrillers

  •  The Appeal, John Grisham
  •  More Tales of the Black Widowers, Isaac Asimov
  • Tales of the Black Widowers, Isaac Asimov
  • Murder in the Lincoln Bedroom, Elliot Roosevelt
  • The Undertaker's Window,Philip Margolin
  •  Asimov’s Mysteries, Isaac Asimov
  • Banquets of the Black Widowers, Isaac Asimov
  • Puzzles of the Black Widowers, Isaac Asimov

Politics and Civic Interest

  • Why Lincoln Matters, Mario Cuomo 
  •  Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,Jimmy Carter
  • The Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx
  •  Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau
  •  Hard Call, John McCain
  • Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations, Al Franken

Religion and Philosophy

  • God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Christopher Hitchens
  • For the Love of Life, Erich Fromm
  • Writings on an Ethical Life, Peter Singer
  • The Art of Living, Epictetus -- trans. Sharon Leben
  • Armageddon in Retrospect, Kurt Vonnegut
  •  This I Believe, Jay Allison and Dan Gediman
  • This I Believe II  Jay Allison and Dan Gediman
  • The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz


  • Science Firsts,Robert Adler
  •  Darwin's Ghost,Steve Jones
  • The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin
  • The History of Science from the Ancient Greeks to the Scientific Revolution, Ray Spangenburg and Diane Moser
  • Charles Darwin: the Naturalist Who Started a Scientific Revolution, Cyril Aydon
  • The History of Science in the 18th Century, Ray Spangenburg and  Diane Moser
  • The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins
  • The History of Science in the 19th Century, Ray Spangenburg and Diane Moser
  • The Blank Slate, Stephen Pinker
  • The History of Science from 1895 to 1945, Ray Spangenburg and Diane Moser
  • Darwin, his Daughter, and Human Evolution, Randal Keynes
  • The History of Science from 1945 to the 1990s,Ray Spangenburg and Diane Moser
  • The Neanderthal Enigma, James Shreeve
  • The Universe in a Nutshell, Stephen Hawking
  • Primates of the World, Rod and Ken Preston-Mafham
  •  The Rise of Reason, Ray Spangenburg and Diane Kit Moser
  • The Elegant Universe, Brian Greene
  •  The Age of Synthesis, Ray Spangenburg and Diane Kit Moser
  • The Ascent of Science, Brian L. Silver
  •  Parasite Rex, Carl Zimmer
  •  Buy Jupiter and Other Stories, Isaac Asimov
  • Great Feuds in Science, Hal Hellman
  • Almost Everyone's Guide to Science, Joshua Gribbin
  •  Why People Believe Weird Things, Michael Shermer
  •  Modern Science, Ray Spangenburg and Diane Kit Moser
  • Science Frontiers, Ray Spangenburg and Diane Kit Moser
  •  Where Do We Go From Here?, ed. Isaac Asimov
  •  The Pinball Effect, James Burke

Science Fiction

  • The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories, Isaac Asimov
  • Nine Tales from Tomorrow, Isaac Asimov
  •  Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  •  I, Robot; Isaac Asimov
  •  Second Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation and Empire, Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation’s Edge, Isaac Asimov
  • Foundation and Earth, Isaac Asimov
  • Prelude to Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  •  Forward the Foundation, Isaac Asimov
  • Nightfall, Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverburg
  •  Nemesis, Isaac Asimov
  •  Robot Dreams, Isaac Asimov
  •  The Winds of Change and Other Stories, Isaac Asimov
  •  The Caves of Steel, Isaac Asimov

Society and Culture

  •  Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century, Neil Postman
  • Rules of Civility, George Washington
  • A Life of Her Own, Emilie Carles

Star Trek and Star Wars 

  • Star Trek Academy: Collision Course,William Shatner
  • ST DS9: Trial by Error, Mark Garland
  • Death Star, Michael Reaves and Steve Perry
  • Darth Bane: Path of Destruction, Drew Karpyshyn

Technology and Society

  •  Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology, Neil Postman

    Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    Quotes from "Brave New World Revisited"

    These are selected quotations from  Brave New World Revisited.

    "In the course of evolution nature has gone to endless trouble to see that every individual is unlike every other individual. [...] Physically and mentally, each one of us is unique. Any culture which,  in the  interests of efficiency or in the name of some political or religious dogma, seeks to standardize the human individual, commits an outrage against man's biological nature." p. 16-17

    "Biologically speaking, man is a moderately gregarious, not a completely social animal --- a creature more like a wolf, let us say, or an elephant, than like a bee or an ant. In their original form human societies bore no resemblance to the hive or the ant heap; they were merely packs. Civilization is, among other things, the process by which primitive packs are transformed into an analogue, crude and mechanical, of the social insects' organic communities. [...] However hard they try, men cannot create a social organism, they can merely create an organization. In the process of trying to create an organism, they will merely create a totalitarian despotism." p. 19

     "Fifty years ago, when I was a boy, it seemed completely self-evident that the bad old days were over, that torture and massacre, slavery, and the persecution of heretics, were things of the past. Among people who were top hats, traveled in trains, and took a bath every morning such horrors were simply out of the question. After all, we were living in the twentieth century. A few years later these people who took daily baths and went to church in top hats were committing atrocities on a scale undreamed of [...]." In the light of recent history it would be foolish to suppose that this sort of thing cannot happen again. It can, and no doubt it will."  p. 25-26

    "With the best will in the world, we cannot always be completely  truthful or consistently rational. All that is in our power is to be as truthful and rational and circumstances permit us to be, and to respond as well as we can to the limited truth and imperfect reasoning offered for our consideration by others."   p. 27

    "A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irreverent other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachment of those who would manipulate it and control it."    p. 29

    "In real life, life as it is lived from day to day, the individual cannot be explained away. It is only in theory that his contributions appear to approach zero; in practice they are all important. When a piece of work gets done in the world, who actually does it? Whose eyes and ears do the perceiving, whose cortex does the thinking, who has the feelings that motivate, the will that overcomes obstacles? Certainly not the social environment; for a group is not an organism, only a blind unconscious organization. Everything that is done within a society is done by individuals."  p. 82

    The Ends of the World

    The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth's Past Mass Extinctions
    © 2017 Peter Brannen
    336 pages

    Earth has tried to kill us five times before, and now it's at it again. (To be fair, we're kind of egging it on.)   The Ends of the World is a long natural history of life on Earth which examines five mass extinctions, period in which the majority of life was destroyed. Each time it rebounded as the Earth itself continued to grow, supercontinents forming and breaking up, the air and oceans altering in their chemistry. Although direct causes of species-death vary by incident,   and are sometimes so numerous that it's rather like the murder suspects on Agatha  Christie's Orient Express,   climate is a crucial factor in each one. Specifically, author argues that as carbon dioxide goes, so goes the planet.

    We live in a moment in time -- a period when the Earth is rather comfortable for our species and those we rely on.  That wasn't the case for most of Earth's history; oxygen took at least a billion years to arrive, and land-based plants themselves are relatively recent arrivals, appearing 700 million years ago at the earliest.  Even once Earth began to look familiar --  familiar continents, trees,  rabbits, etc -- it wasn't settled    There are geological cycles  -- shifts between glacial and tropical epochs, for for instance -- at work.   Other cycles involve carbon as it travels between land, sea, and air, and this is a cycle that can play hell with life if it gets out of kilter and...oh, turns the Earth into a hothouse, or acidifies the ocean and kills everything there.  And then there's vulcanism -- not only do mass eruptions offload unwieldy tons of CO2 at once, but sometimes they cover areas the size of the United States or Russia in  two mile-deep tide of lava.   Even a prepper with a bulging bug-out bag and a remote hideout would be hard pressed to come back from that.

    Geological forces are usually slow and ponderous -- glacial.  But slow forces building up can reach a threshold where everything goes sideways all at once, a catastrophic quantum leap. Think of an earthquake, and the slow-but-accumulating stresses that build up between tectonic plates until they finally slip and a city is reduced to rubble in seconds. Brannen believes this happens with atmospheric and oceanic chemistry, too.   Even when the cause of an extinction seems outside, unavoidable, and sudden -- like the asteroid impact that has the primary credit for killing the dinosaurs,  the climate can't be ignored. The chapter on the K-T extinction argues that the asteroid collision wasn't responsible for the mass extinction on its own: while it would have  done an enormous amount of local damage,  its real contribution was to cause so much tectonic distress that mass volcanic eruptions and outgassing crippled the atmosphere.

    If you have anticipated that the book ends with a few pointed remarks about global warming and the present state of the carbon cycle, well -- you're on the mark. Brannen dedicates the last section of the book debating the 'sixth extinction', and humanity's role in clearing the earth of megafauna and challenging the old super-volcanoes in terms of how much gas can be pumped into the atmosphere.   The debate covered shies away from putting the human-induced extinctions of many species into the category of these documented five.  The five are judged to have been global events, near-complete ecosystem collapses: the only survivors were in weird niches, ecological islands. (Or perhaps on literal islands.) While humans have deliberately killed many species and accidentally obliterated more, we've also repopulated the Earth with species under our control: cattle, oxen, sheep,  the like.  Ecosystems have been formed and sometimes destroyed, but we're not facing  imminent and global collapse.    Even so ,the  author argues, the role of the carbon cycle in previous mass extinctions should be foremost in our mind, because it's not just a matter of rising seas.  Ocean acidification from CO2 absorption  is the "other" carbon problem, compromising as it does submarine ecosystems like those centered on coral reefs. (This "other" problem comes up a few times in another science/nature book I'm reading, Lost Antarctica.)

    Although it's a little odd to describe a book recording the near-total loss of life on Earth not one but five times as 'fun',, Ends of the World kind of is,  a morbid Planet Earth.  I particularly appreciated being able to sit in on debates in the last two chapters, as Brennan interviews various scientists who are contending (politely) with one another for the most accurate and factually-supported theory..  Ends of the World may expose many readers to the carbon cycle, something I've heard little about,  and there's nothing quite like mile-deep sheets of lava rolling over continents to pique the imagination!

    Tuesday, July 24, 2018

    Sunrise to Sunset at the Grand Canyon

    I landed in Arizona  late in the afternoon, but as soon as I'd checked into my motel room and purchased a few supplies at the local WalMart, I headed for the Canyon. It didn't matter to me that it would be getting dark.  In retrospect, I'm entirely glad I went when  I did -- not that driving through unknown country in the dark was fun, but my first view of the Grand Canyon was a twilight view. There's something about the dawn and dusk -- their fleetingness -- that makes them especially beautiful.

    I visited the Canyon three more times that week,  at one time watching the sunrise with a few dozen similarly crazy souls, and have arranged some shots to represent a day spent at the canyon. 


    Shortly after six a.m, on a cold and windy April morning

    On an old mining trail, a young couple stands transfixed by the scenery. 


    From the observation room of the Desert View Tower, about 26 miles from the visitor's center


    These and the other "DAY" shots are taken from a helicopter.

    Of course I looked down. How could I not?


    These were taken the same day I arrived in Arizona.

    This guy either had nerve or brown underwear, because the wind was blowing at ~30 MPH.

    I spent that first evening at the Canyon walking along the rim, soaking in the view and shivering a little in the cold. I hadn't anticipated the wind, and so left my jacket in my car. The clouds rolling in --  there was rain along the north rim -- meant that I couldn't see the stars come out, so I decided to leave while I had enough light to find my car. 

    I hope to visit the Canyon again one day, to hike into the interior and spend a night there -- but I'd want to have company! 

    Brave New World Revisited

    Brave New World Revisited
    © 1958 Aldhous Huxley
    144 pages

    Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1931)  transported readers to a deeply creepy nightmare-vision of the future, in which man had disappeared as an independent being, instead becoming the raw materials for a new, engineered hive creature.  In Brave New World Revisited,  Huxley shares his fear that the technocratic domination of society is proceeding much more quickly than he had anticipated, and then outlines reasons for concern and the vectors by which free minds could be compromised and manipulated.

    The crux of the problem, says Huxley, is overpopulation. Viewing a global population of 3 billion in horror, Huxley anticipated not only only mass starvation, but the rise of tyranny across the world.   Rising population would crowd more of humanity in cities, where disease both physical and mental would become an ever-greater threat.  The rising misery, he believed, would have the effect of  fraying civil society so much that Communist orders promosing food for all would be imposed.  Though not a libertarian, Huxley takes Lord Acton's appraisal of power and human nature to heart. Even an innocent desire for order, he argues, can carry the controlling authority away, resulting in creeping and then  quickly-hardening tyranny. Eugenics is an obvious example, and the subject of his second chapter.

    The bulk of the book, after the opening essays on population crises and eugenics, examines ways in which technology might begin to subjugate human psychology.  His original novel was published in 1931, two years before Adolf Hitler took power and achieved the closest thing the world had seen to total technological command of a people;  Hitler not only grasped how mob mentalities could be manipulated, he used the latest in communications technology to constantly convey his message.  Huxley examines the tools of Hitler's trade, as well as others introduced in the decade after World War 2 that might be the stuff of future empires. These include chemical agents, sleep conditioning, emotional propaganda, and different forms of torture.  In each section, Huxley mentions precursors of them already in-use, like pervasive advertising and the  attempted creation of consequence-free feel-good drugs. 

    I knew nothing about Huxley before starting this, but he proves to have  been a thoughtful and well-read man  Some of his concerns about overpulation obviously seem dated, given that the global population is presently 7.6 billion, with consistent declines in starvation rates.Overpopulation means increased demand for everything, not just food, so  it's still an issue to be concerned about -- whether your  concern is resource wars or global warming. The pressure these populations put on governments to "do something" -- about a great many things -- has resulted in declining self-determination across the board, with all levels of government.  Huxley's view of the city as a profoundly unnatural environment, one that induces mental diseases, is still argued -- see Desmond Morris' The Human Zoo

    Modern readers of this will find, then, some of it dated but a great deal still relevant, as far as human psychology goes;   whatever one makes of shifts in our mores, human nature has not changed since 1958.

    Sunday, July 22, 2018

    Encompassing Flagstaff: Red Rock State Park

    The red cliffs of Sedona, taken from the air on my flight into Flagstaff. I thought this was the Grand Canyon, and...so did most everyone else on the plane. I realized my mistake once I'd driven northwest to the Grand Canyon and realized a plane approaching Flagstaff from the south would be nowhere near the GC..

    Working on that video yesterday made me realize...I'd never finished my Encompassing Flagstaff photo collection, so named because during the week of April 7 - April 14, I visited points north, south, east and west of Flagstaff, Arizona, using it as my base.     Previous posts covered a few national park tours, the town itself, and Mars Hill.   Now witness...Sedona! Well, mostly Red Rock State Park.  Sedona has a well-deserved reputation for being fantastically beautiful, as cliffs of red rock overlook the town itself. I got there early in the AM and decided to do some hiking at a state park outside of town, and when I finished I was so tired and the city so fantastically full of people I decided "Nope, going back to Flagstaff". 

    Driving to Sedona. The road south from Flagstaff is extraordinarily pretty, but also extraordinarily inappropriate for multitasking, so I didn't take many more until I was out of the dangerously beautiful woods and cliffs.

    South of Sedona, taken while driving either to or back from Jerome, a place I visited solely on the merits of it being, quote, "cute". I was there waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too early, but I am a man of principles, namely "Wake up at dawn and see it before the tourist mob shows up!"

    Jerome, AZ. Succeeding streets are above you when you visit, and I found this distressing.

    Hiking at Red Rock State Park. I went on several different trails out here,  first an easy one to get the lay of the land and then a hill ascent. I then did another hill ascent, because when I am on vacation I sometimes go overboard.  According to my phone, I logged 18K steps this day. 

    Wide shot, continued

    The House of Apache Fire, which sounds terribly dramatic. It even as a trail named after it.  If I remember the signs correctly, the house was built to imitate indigenous architecture, despite being itself relatively modern (1947).     This is probably the least photogenic way to approach it.  When verifying I was remembering then name correctly I found a page of different shots of the house, taken at a time when the park was much more verdant. 

    Driving back to Sedona

    I actually took this shot because of the Burger King.  To its credit, Sedona must have some kind of building code that forces structures to fit a certain aesthetic. 

    Sedona from the air again, this time flying back home

    Now that I've finally posted my helicopter GC video, I can share some photos. Look for those a little later in the week, possibly tomorrow.