Daily Archives: July 23, 2012

The Sophomore Scientist – Philosophy by Limerick

Absent-mindedly played his Nintendo
While debunking by innuendo.
Everything his gut feel
Said thereby wasn’t real
He denounced in constant crescendo.

Old Jules

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Waldo – Robert A. Heinlein – Book Review

My first introduction to science fiction came in the Portales Junior High School Library around 1958.  One of the first of the hundreds of Sci-Fi books read over the course of a lifetime was Red Planet, by Robert A. Heinlein.  Probably Keith, one of the readers of this blog, stood beside me in PJHS Library and argued over who’d get to check it out first. 

The library didn’t include a lot to select from and we pored over them all.  Thunder and Roses, by Theodore Sturgeon.  City, by Clifford D. Simak.  The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury.  The Stars are Ours, and Star Born, by Andre Norton. And anything by Robert Heinlein.

Written in 1940, Waldo must have been one of Heinlein’s earliest novels.  By the late 1950s it was still too early to be profound.  Most of the setting, plot, concepts Heinlein visualized in 1940 hadn’t yet come to pass.  Hadn’t made their way into human reality in a form more concrete than a pleasurable indulgence in imagination set to words.  My memories of reading it were vague compared to hundreds of other works by Heinlein and other visionaries who hammered and blasted the new genre into mainstream readership. 

So when Waldo showed up in a box of books in the Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Kerrville for a dime each and I bought them all, noticing Waldo among them, I was only mildly interested.  Another couple of hours of something to read before dropping off to sleep, I figured.

I was wrong and discovered how wrong I was roughly 20 pages into the book.  Squinted, read and re-read it far past my normal sleep time.  Read it again the next day.  Twice.

Aside from a goodly other phenomena Heinlein described in 1940 that eventually came to pass decades later, he discusses others that haven’t yet made it into mainstream thinking.  One of which includes something I’ve been examining with insane intensity during the past several years, began experimenting with during the late 1990s.  Dropped, partly because of Y2K, partly because the Internet and home computer RAM didn’t yet allow the accumulation and examination of sufficient evidence to arrive anywhere beyond conjecture and assertion.

Thankee, Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store.  And thankee Robert Heinlein, particularly for this one.

I keep Waldo close at hand, thumb through it when I’m pondering where things are going as I go through my daily downloading rituals, working my way through the maze to the center. 

You mightn’t, probably won’t be as impressed with this tome as I am.  But I’m betting if you can find it you’ll be more than mildly surprised.  Find yourself asking, “How the hell did Heinlein figure all that out in 1940?

If not, you’ll at least enjoy a fun plot, good characters, a couple of hours of science fiction back when that’s what it was.

Old Jules

Philosophy by Limerick – Big News of the Day

They read their stock pages and rant
“Juan, down at the sewer plant
Got a five percent raise
From the taxes I pays
On my TVs and Pizzas and grants!”

Old Jules

Earth in Upheaval – Immanuel Velikovsky – Book Review

During the last 18 months of Albert Einstein’s life, November 1953 until April, 1955. he sat around with Immanuel Velikovsky on numerous occasions mulling over the implications of the historical/geological evidence described here.  Largely ignored, met with a shrug by the scientific community because no explanation within accepted scientific theory could account for the massive physical evidence, the two men examined other possibilities, no matter how unconventional.

Mountain ranges yanked from their roots and moved laterally, sometimes as much as 100 miles during a short passage of time.  Megafauna stacked like cordwood in cracks from southern Asia to the Arctic Circle by the millions, perhaps hundreds of millions.  Countless among them quick-frozen rapidly enough to leave them relatively undecayed for examination by modern man thousands of years later. 

Entire tropical forests uprooted, moved by massive waves and left to petrify when the water receded.   When Bad Things Happen to Good Megafauna

If Einstein had lived to see the publication of Velikovsky’s book his interest, prestige and comments might have provided the momentum to carry the discussion into the overall scientific community and more widespread recognition.  Might have forced the unpalatable conclusions to which examination of the evidence leads without leaving many alternatives.

Instead, Planet in Upheaval was published quietly, largely ignored by science, Velikovsky vilified and often denounced by his peers.

But the book’s still out there, used.  Probably available from Amazon for pennies.  I bought my copy in a thrift store in Kerrville for $.25.  I couldn’t have afforded it, wouldn’t have bought it had it cost a buck.

But I bought it for quarter and have now read it enough times to make up for a lot of the people who never did.  Pick up a copy somewhere and you can make up for a few others.  I suspect you won’t be satisfied with a single reading.

If you do read it you’ll be forced to conclude, Stuff Happens.  Sometimes it happens fast and big.  And it doesn’t need man to push it along, make it happen.  Doesn’t even pause to explain itself and why it happens for the benefit of the best minds of humanity to carefully ignore.

Old Jules

Afterthought – Edited in to avoid confusion:

The book referred to here is not Chariots of the Gods.  The author is not Erich von Daniken, of whom you probably have a vague recollection as a discredited ‘scientist’, author of half-truths, incomplete truths, and fig-newtons of the imagination. 

Erich von Daniken.  Immanuel Velikovsky.  Two entirely different individuals.  They even spell their names differently.  Admittedly both foreigners by heritage, but they had little else in common.  Von Daniken actually had a following and readership.  Velikovsky, on the other hand, was a scientist.