Thursday, October 13, 2016

Y2K




Okay, this has to be said.  Y2k was a non-event.  Not because it wasn't a real threat, but

BECAUSE WE FIXED IT!!!

I worked at two different companies on this problem.  I was there for testing where we took devices like credit card readers, ATMs and even elevators advanced their dates.

You know what happened?

THEY STOPPED WORKING!!

So, to all of the people who think Y2k was some big hoax because nothing happened, you need to thank the teams that worked round the clock for years to make sure nothing happened.

Sorry, just had to speak my peace on this one.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

" I don't really find it exactly cheerful to be living in the middle of a totally, like, exhausted decade where there's nothing to look forward to and no one to look up to."- Pump Up the Volume

The quote I'm using for the title was from a 1990s movie.  

Have things gotten any better?

As a child growing up in the 1970s, we could find heroes in fiction and reality.  Television's characters were mostly either over the top evil or over the top good.  The good characters may not have been realistic, but you could try to be as good as, Captain Kirk, Laura Ingles or Mike Brady.



They may have been unrealistically good, but shouldn't we strive for that?

Look at the remakes and reboots for some of TV's characters:

The new Star Trek's Captain Kirk is essentially OK, but kind of an @sshole.  Same with the reboot of Battlestar Galactica.  Replaced are the squeaky clean Lorne Green and Richard Hatch with characters you really don't want to emulate.

“'Oh, realism! Oh, here, oh, now, oh hell!'”- Ray Bradbury 

Ray Bradbury predicted this would happen decades ago in the Martian Chronicles.  

I haven't even started on reality TV.  There are NO people in there you would want to be like.  Across the board, reality television features people we either hate, despise or pity.  Otherwise they are not deemed "entertaining."  .


Even many of our childhood heroes get smudged, buy attention seeking people looking to smear someone's reputation and history for the sake of "entertainment."

I used to look up to people like John Kennedy and Franklin Roosevelt.  Look what has happened to them in recent years with scandals and rumors of scandal.

Can you honestly think of a hero you have in recent decades?  Someone who stood out and wasn't smeared by someone somewhere.

I used to have Neil Armstrong and John Glenn.  After Armstrong's death (and some before) news came out about his divorce and what a bad husband he was.  Really?  I didn't need to hear that!  

John Glenn has held up.  So far the only other decent figure I could find was Mr. Rogers.  So far no one has been able to smear him.

Consider someone like Lance Armstrong.  I know I'm going to get beat up here, but hear me out.
Now, he has a reputation for not being a nice guy.  He's probably not a nice guy but, in beating cancer, starting the Livestrong Foundation and Charity he inspired people to survive and probably saved thousands of lives just by being an inspiration.  Nothing else.



I realize the search for truth is a squeaky clean attribute, but was it REALLY necessary to go back and smear what looked like a modern day "Superman." (Don't get me started to what they did to Superman).  Wasn't the inspiration he created and the lives he saved and the hearts he touched worth more than the outcomes of races run over a decade ago.

REALLY think about it.  What have we lost versus what have we gained??

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hath No Fury Wins Second Place in Literary Agency Contest

Urban Literary Agency just announced their winners from their 2015 contest.

My book, Hath No Fury,  got second place!

Here's the specs from the judge:

Author Name: Hal Rappaport
Title: Hath No Fury
Genre: Romance / Paranormal


How is the author’s writing?                                        

Poor
Okay
Good
Great

Is there violence?
No violence
Some violence
Graphic violence

Is there sexual content?
No sexual content
Some sexual content
Explicit sexual content

How is the story narrated?
First person
Second person
Third Person

Alternating persons

Wine and Pretzels

I am alone in my hotel room, on a business trip, staying at a Holiday Inn in Houston. 
I am eating pretzels left over from the bag I brought on my flight.  They were a snack I bought for the four hour flight from NJ to Houston. Airlines no longer serve meals on domestic flights. 
I am washing them down with the cheapest merlot money can buy.  It’s out of a juice box and poured into a plastic cup.  I suppose it would be worse if I were drinking it directly from the cardboard carton, but I figure that’s just a matter of degrees.
Is this a new low?
I’m not sure.
The wine was $3.99, and the pretzels cost almost the same.  Airports can charge pretty much anything these days.  We buy it because we are forced to be there.
It’s the middle of January and the thermostat in this room reads 77.  The environmental controls for this room either seem to want it to be freezing or uncomfortably warm.  I keep switching it back and forth because it won’t stay at any one temperature.  I figure if I switch it back and forth enough times it will rain in the middle of the room.

I’m not 100% sure why I am writing this stream of consciousness.  It’s not my usual style and pretty meaningless.  I think I just liked the title, “Wine and Pretzels.”  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Why There is a Second Ammendment

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Few people actually show the text.  When England's government became oppressive and unfair to the colonies, it was necessary to raise an army of Militia soldiers to defend and fight for freedom.  The authors of our Constitution knew, first hand what it was like to stand up to a bad government that was in power.  In their wisdom, they kept this check in the foundation of the new government they were forming.  This amendment was meant to keep a balance between the population and any government (like England) that could become corrupted.

Consider for a moment, Nazi Germany. Their government was a democracy similar to England. Of the 12,000,000 exterminated, if only 1% of them had firearms, there would be an armed force of 120,000. Think about what a difference it might have made.



It wasn't until after the war that Nokmim (Hebrewהנוקמים‎), also referred to as The Avengers or the Jewish Avengers, a Jewish partisan militia was formed.  Forming a "militia."  Sound familiar?  Pity it was AFTER the war.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Are we in a Decline of our Civilization?


In the 1970s we had landed on the moon and space seemed to be our Oyster.  There was no reason to doubt that we would have lunar colonies by the end of the 20th century.  The Space Shuttle, although only an orbiter, seemed like the first step in building true re-usable spacecraft.  The planets like Mars and Venus seemed to be so close we could touch them next.

Even though we were in the middle of the cold war and competition with the Soviet Union was tense this (along with the release of Star Wars in 1977) actually fueled much of the advancement.  In a race that began with Sputnik in the 1950s, each side was trying to "conquer space" first.
 

In 1989 the wall in Berlin fell and with it came the fall of the Soviet Union and the Cold War.  With this epic event, which is regarded as one of the greatest moves toward peace on the planet, came the decline of our drive to push further into space.

I realize I am basing the entire civilization's ascension or decline on this one metric of space travel, but there are several points to this that I think make it a good indicator.
  • The Space Race itself was the catalyst for developing a lot of the technologies we use today.
  • It was one of the few items in our history as a species, that united us.
  • Space technology may become necessary one day as an escape for the human race
  • Space technology may become necessary one day to deflect a NEO (Near Earth Object) or Asteroid
  • When you stop looking up and exploring, you drive inward.
  • NASA provides the most compelling evidence in the arguments for climate change
This decade marks the retirement of our aging Shuttle fleet.  While NASA insists that they are moving forward with their new non-reusable rockets, it's clear that this really feels like a step backwards.  Where once, we looked to the Soviet Union with suspicion (and some admiration) we now see their once bold Orbiter fleet now sits and rots.
As some in power ignore the clear evidence of climate change, we may find ourselves rushing headlong into a world like the one predicted in interstellar.  Please take a look at the clip below.  If you haven't seen the movie, please watch this whole thing through, especially the part after 1:55.


While one might look up at the International Space Station and say that we ARE in space, consider the scale.  If we used the scale of a regular classroom globe the ISS would reside at a point about 3/4 of and inch (1.5 cm) from the surface.  Using the same scale the moon would be 14 feet away.  By those terms, humans haven't left the planet in over 40 years. 






Thursday, May 7, 2015

"In Georgia, yet another Christian pastor is arguing that gays do not deserve to live"


What kills me is the "pick and choose" ability by so many people.  You can't just pick a quote and decide this one is literal, but the rest are not.

According to Leviticus, eating shellfish and pork are a death worthy crime.  Hell, if you follow the Old Testament (or the Torah to some of us) that closely, you shouldn't have a New Testament.

But let's look a little further here:

Leviticus 20:9  "“‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death." This would kill off most of the western world.

Leviticus 20:10 “‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death."

Anyone sensing a pattern here?

Leviticus 21 "“‘Priests must not shave their heads or shave off the edges of their beards or cut their bodies."- I wonder if he shaved this morning...or got a haircut...EVER!

Leviticus 19 ‘Keep my decrees.

“‘Do not mate different kinds of animals.

“‘Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed.

“‘Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material.

Sorry that means no:

GMOs,








Labradoodles












or Spandex.










Clearly, all "death-worthy abominations?"


Friday, April 17, 2015

The Face of Doctor who and the Science Fiction Fan

Some time in 1976 I discovered that my favorite television show at the time, Star Trek was listed as "Science Fiction" in the TV Guide.

Since this was a fairly "dry" period for new science fiction television, I thought I would scan the guide and see if I could find more shows that were also "Science Fiction."

I stumbled upon a show on PBS called "Doctor Who."  I had never heard of it before and neither had my parents or anyone else I had talked to at the time.

Now I grew up in the US in pretty big city, Doctor Who had been on the air in England since 1963, but it was still a pretty obscure thing in the states in the 1970s.  It was relegated to the "Nerd-ier" section of TV on the PBS stations as an unusual import.

Without knowing any of this, I watched my first episode "Pyramids of Mars" and was totally confused.  Still, the inside of the TARDIS seemed pretty cool, so I stuck with it.  I watched other Tom Baker episodes, not knowing anything about the history of the show, it's mythology (which it had even then) or it's fans.  I remember watching Tom Baker's regeneration into Peter Davison and scratching my head.
With Star Wars' release in 1977, pop science fiction and simple space opera became common.  We got some great surprises like Battlestar Galactica and some abominations like Quark.

Doctor Who remained in obscurity in the US.

In 1982 I met a guy in school who was an overly serious Doctor Who fan.  He was just happy to find ANYONE who even knew anything about the show.  He was convinced that Doctor Who didn't need a fan club, it needed an "Appreciation Society."  Yeah, I know it doesn't get any nerdier than that.

I knew he was a little overly serious, but the whole history of the show drew me in.  The older episodes were not yet available in the US and I learned there where whole seasons of the show that were supposedly lost or destroyed.

He lent me books of older episodes, which I devoured quickly.  It allowed me to catch up on  the long history of the TV show without being able to see the old episodes.

In the months that followed, PBS aired some of the Doctor previous to Tom Baker, Jon Pertwee.  Here is when I think I became a real "fan" of the show.

Unfortunately, the show's popularity was waning and it was cancelled in 1989.  Other than a few rumblings, it seemed Doctor Who was going to fade into British Myth and US obscurity.

In the 1990s, there was a ray of hope with a US produced Doctor Who movie.  The movie itself, featured Paul McGann as a rather like-able Doctor.  The show had some beautiful sets and an excellent performance by Eric Roberts as the Master, but the show's publicity was lackluster and the story dragged quite a bit.  It seemed to only appeal to a few Doctor-Who-starved fans.

When it returned in 2006 with Christopher Eccleston, I assumed it might last a season, if that.  I figured it will either be so removed from the original that it will annoy fans of the classic Doctor Who (like the new Star Trek movies), or it just would not have enough promotion and it would die like the McGann movie did.  

In an amazing turn this new Doctor Who (and BBC America) brought the show to the main stream.  It also helped to re-ignite a lot of intelligent science fiction again.  It's not completely uncommon for Americans to know what a Dalek is now.  Torchwood spin off even made Doctor Who sexy (who knew).


 The Doctor is now even in music videos!  Talk about making it into pop-culture!

Here we are almost 40 years after my first viewing experience and more than 50 years since the first episode.  It's come a LONG way.

I still find it gratifying that my favorite shows growing up were Star Trek, Doctor Who and Battlestar Galactica.  My favorite movie was Star Wars.  I guess I picked ones that would last.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Signs of Life?

"As a NASA spacecraft approaches a dwarf planet in our solar system, Ceres, scientists are stumped by what appear to be two bright lights shining from its surface."


This is interesting. It's probably nothing, but it opens the question (in my mind anyway), of what if we did find a sign of life. 

 How hard would we work to dismiss it? 

 We can say it's probably this or that, but truthfully, at this distance, we really cannot say for sure.


What would it take?