MT VOID 03/14/14 -- Vol. 32, No. 37, Whole Number 1797

MT VOID 03/14/14 -- Vol. 32, No. 37, Whole Number 1797

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Mt. Holz Science Fiction Society
03/14/14 -- Vol. 32, No. 37, Whole Number 1797

Table of Contents

      Co-Editor: Mark Leeper, Co-Editor: Evelyn Leeper, Back issues at All material is copyrighted by author unless otherwise noted. All comments sent will be assumed authorized for inclusion unless otherwise noted. To subscribe, send mail to To unsubscribe, send mail to

Exchange Students (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

I was watching the weather reports of how badly the winter snowstorm crippled the Atlanta area. The obvious answer is an exchange. Atlanta needs to send ten students to New Jersey to find out how you handle a big snowstorm. In return New Jersey would send ten students to Atlanta to find out how you barbecue ribs. [-mrl]

Just How Many Things are Dreamt of in Horatio's Philosophy? (comments by Mark R. Leeper):

[I realize that I just did a math column just last week, but this column will deal with some related ideas. It may be a little tougher to follow for those unacquainted with Georg Cantor's proofs about orders of infinity. If you cannot get all the words, I hope you can enjoy the melody. [This is, of course Pi Day, making a mathematical column almost de rigueur. [Pi Day is celebrated each year on 3/14 since 3.14 is a lousy but acceptable approximation for the value of pi. [I personally prefer the approximation 355/113, but the months and years are too short for that to be a real date. It is accurate to within one part in 3,748,629. 3.14 is only accurate to within one part in 628.]]]]

Hamlet said it. Or Shakespeare put the words in Hamlet's mouth. Hamlet said, "There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." But is it true? This fits in with what I was saying last week when I was talking about numbers. Just like we can show there are more irrational numbers than rational, we could show if there really are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy.

Consider a set of integers. A number is a thing. And how many sets of integers are there? We are talking about how big is set of all sets of integers. That is the "power set" of the set of integers. It can be shown that the power set of a given set, S, has too many members to ever match up one-to-one with the members of S. We can see that on a small scale by saying there are not as many members of {0,1} as there are in the set {empty, {0}, {1}, {0,1}}.

So if you consider a set of integers a thing in Heaven or on Earth (perhaps both) there would be no way to write even an infinite list of things and have every set of integers in your list some place. You could not put the integers in a one-to-one correspondence with the set of things in Heaven and Earth. You would always run out of integers. So then how many things are dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy? One might at first thing there are only a finite number of possible ideas in Horatio's philosophy. After all, how fast can Horatio think? For a thing, say an idea, to occur in Horatio's philosophy it has to be expressible in a finite number of words. Each expression with a finite number of letters, and each letter one of a finite number of possibilities from a typeset of capital letters, lower case letters, punctuation marks, diacritical marks, spaces, etc. If the maximum length of the expression is L characters including and each character is one of C possible characters then C^L is an upper limit on the number of things (objects, ideas, etc.) that have been dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy. That will be only a finite number. But in fact there still might be an infinite number of facts dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy. That is a little confining. There might actually be an infinite number of true statements that can be made that can be dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy. They need not be very profound but Horatio could say:

"One is a number."
"Two is a number."
"Three is a number."
"Four is a number."
"Five is a number."

That is not very deep but it proves there are at least an infinite number of statements in my (and probably Horatio's) philosophy. But we can take things further. Horatio can recognize that any set of integers *is* a set of integers. He could say:

"{1,5,7} is a set of integers."
"{3,8,4} is a set of integers."
"{1} is a set of integers."
"{5,7} is a set of integers."
"{6,18,33,67} is a set of integers."

It at first seems like that would add a higher infinity of things for Horatio to dream of in his philosophy. But I think there is a problem is in the "Etc." In the "One is a number. Two is a number." sequence we know how to continue on when we get to the bottom of the list. However if we list the sets {1}, {5,7}, {6,18,33,67}, ... it is not clear where to go from there.

It seems to me that the "things in Heaven and earth" has to be a higher order of infinity than the set of things "dreamt of in [Horatio's] philosophy." That would indicate that there indeed would have more things in Heaven and Earth than could possibly be dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy.

So Hamlet and/or Shakespeare may well have been right in his comparison of the sizes of the two sets. The set of things dreamt of in Horatio's philosophy could never be mapped one-to-one to the set of things in Heaven and on Earth. They could never be mapped to more than a subset. [-mrl]

THE QUANTUM ROSE by Catherine Asaro (copyright 2000, Tor Books, 2004 Blackstone Audio, 13 hours 4 minutes, narrated by Anna Fields) (audiobook review by Joe Karpierz):

I remember first reading a portion of THE QUANTUM ROSE when it was first serialized in ANALOG way back when I was a subscriber to the print version of that magazine. I never did finish the story then, and I'm not particularly sure why. It might be because I'd let my subscription lapse before it finished, or because I was lost and didn't know what was going on, or maybe I just lost interest.

I didn't pick up any of Asaro's work after that until I started listening to the audiobooks of "The Saga of the Skolian Empire". I've been listening to them in internal chronological order, as opposed to publication order (as a side note, I'm glad I've done it that way. True, the books can be read in publication order without losing any of the story, but I'm funny that way). So, when I finally got to the point in the series in which THE QUANTUM ROSE came next, I was more than mildly interested in finding out what I'd missed out on all those years ago.

Well, I think it's safe to say that I missed out on a whole lot. Many of you probably already know that THE QUANTUM ROSE won the 2001 Nebula Award for Best Novel. It's now clear to me that the award was well-deserved.

The story starts on the backwater planet of Balumil. Kamoj Argali is the governor of a poor and somewhat poverty stricken province--name Argali--on the planet. In order to help her people survive and prosper, she has entered into a politically arranged betrothal with Jax Ironbridge, the governor of a much more wealthy and powerful province. If all goes well, the alliance with the Ironbridge province will provide prosperity, health, and safety for her people. The fly in the ointment is that Jax is something of a jerk--not to put too fine a point on it. Jax mistreats Kamoj, both mentally and physically.

Meanwhile, a stranger has ridden into the land. A mysterious figure known to the people of the surrounding countryside as Lionstar, the stranger has taken over an old castle and lives in the Argali province. Through an act that later is revealed to be that of ignorance, Lionstar ends up marrying Kamoj right out from under Jax by providing a dowry that is larger than anything that Jax could provide. The law of the land, stating that he who has the largest dowry wins--thus once again proving that size does matter (sorry, couldn't resist)--allows for the wedding to take place. This act destabilizes the local governments and culture, and throws the whole thing into more than a bit of turmoil.

Lionstar is actuall Vyrl Skolia, son of Roca and prince of the Ruby Dynasty. Vyrl is on Balumil for his protection, as there is conflict between the Ruby empire and the Allied Worlds of Earth, who are, in their own way, trying to hold things together peacefully after the Radiance War. However, Vyrl marrying Kamoj violates the plan of non-interference with the local culture, throwing everything into a tizzy. Thus, the first part of the book deals with Kamoj trying to determine how to keep her culture intact under the interference and influence of ISC. There is much intrigue in the dealings between Ironbridge and Lionstar, and there is much romance between Kamoj and Lionstar.

But in the middle of it all, Vyrl must leave Balumil to go on a mission to Lyshriol, his home planet, to free it from the "protection" of the Allied Worlds of Earth, or AWOE. Kamoj goes with him to help him. She has a resonance with Vyrl, and is able to help him through some emotional and mental issues that happen when he travels in space which are directly due to the way he escaped Earth after the Radiance War. And so, the second half of the book deals with all the intrigue that comes with being a member of the Ruby dynasty and the rulers of an empire--and thus becomes a more familiar story of the Skolian Empire.

In my opinion, this is the best of the Skolian Empire books that I've listened to so far. The characters are engaging, the story can be intense, and the situations are interesting and complex. I've been doing some other reading about the book and have discovered that, according to the great god Wikipedia, "The Quantum Rose is an allegory to the mathematical and physical processes of coupled-channel quantum scattering theory and as such is based on Asaro's doctoral work in chemical physics, with thesis advisor Alexander Dalgarno at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Asaro describes the allegory in an essay at the end of the book and explains how the characters and plot points play the roles of mathematical terms or processes in atomic and molecular physics." Unfortunately, the audio book does not include the essay--I will need to track it down.

Again, Anna Fields does a terrific job narrating the book. It's gotten to be a broken record--I say that every time I finish one of these things. So, just assume it, okay? :-) [-jak]

ALL IS LOST ALL IS LOST (sailor's commentary by Walter Meissner):

The following commentary is from the viewpoint of an experienced sailor who has sailed sloops (22' to 42') in coastal and slightly off-shore waters, who has taught celestial (offshore) navigation (2 - 4 semesters long), emergency navigation, weather, etc., who has done a 3-crew, 24 hour stretch off shore from Manasquan Inlet, NJ to Block Island, and has chartered in the Mediterranean off the coast of Italy.


The movie starts out with practically the only dialog in the film setting up the story and suggesting the eventual outcome (his demise), i.e. a solo sailor mired in some tragic sailing circumstances and giving his "farewell" speech to presumably to loved ones at home, before cutting to the beginning of the story eight days earlier.

The early scenes in the film (before the troubles become serious) seemed too reminiscent of a cross between two TV commercials, i.e the rough and tough looking Marlboro man on his horse and the Viagra man where his pickup truck towing a horse trailer gets stuck in a mud patch on a dirt road and his resourceful thinking saves the day, i.e use the horses to pull the truck out of the predicament he got himself in the first place.

At the start of the film, one is, initially at least, somewhat impressed that, indeed, a solo sailor (played by an aged looking Robert Redford) is a thinking and resourceful person that is slowing getting himself and his vessel out of the predicament of the consequence of accidentally hitting the corner of a partially submerged shipping container during broad daylight which has left a gaping hole in the side just above the waterline but only if the vessel is sailed on the opposite tack as the hole. (Ironically, the Chinese characters shown on the shipping container mean "Good Fortune" according to IMDB.)

He is seen using his ingenuity to free his vessel from the shipping container, patch the gaping hole with a patchwork of wood sticks, fiberglass and epoxy, shape a boom stick into a handle for the manual bilge pump (now desperately needed) and setting out to salvage the radio equipment for an SOS call. So far so good, or so it may seem to the uninitiated viewer.

But a closer inspection into the actions or in-actions taken by the sailor points to numerous errors in operations/judgment or, presumably, just plain inexperience in offshore sailing. I'll take these points one by one.

(a) Sailing Solo

The desired crew configuration for 24/7 sailing is for at least three crew so that a 24-hour watch system can be maintained without tiring out the crew. Each watch is four hours long and there is always at least one person on deck maintaining a lookout.

Many sailors have done solo round-the-world trips. The technique for managing sleep (and keep deck watches) is to get out of the bunk every 20-30 minutes, take a quick look around the horizon and at the compass and go back to sleep again before becoming completely awake and so it is easy to fall back into a deep sleep (REM). The idea here is to simply check for hazards. Many times a hammock is setup in the cockpit for this purpose. A timer alarm set for 30 minutes is used to wake the sailor.

Whales can detect passing ships 50 miles away, but a person can detect them only 1/2 mile away. The ship board electronics like Automatic Identification System (AIS) can alert the sailor to nearby ship traffic so to avoid collision at sea (i.e. run down by a shipping vessel)

In the film, it didn't appear to me that the sailor maintained a solo watch system for hazard detection. Nor did it appear there was AIS electronics on board to avert the even greater hazard of collision at sea. (no points here)

Also, whether sailing solo or with crew a safety harness is worn and snapped onto a jack line that is attached to the boat. This is worn whenever one is topside even when the weather is clear and fair.

If the sailor accidentally falls overboard, while under sail, without a jack line it would be impossible to swim back to the boat.

In the film, the safety equipment was only used in a gale storm. (negative points for not wearing it under all conditions)

(b) Shipping Containers at sea

This is indeed a threat on the open ocean. However the circumstances are a bit different than presented.

A typical vessel is loaded topside quite high with these containers (). Any storm in the open sea can quite easily lead to container losses (). However, many of these containers sink and if floating are such that the container's top is nearly flush with water's surface, much like a partially sunken log on a river. This makes it hard to spot even in broad daylight.

The movie shows a shipping container quite high in the water and having already created a large hole in the vessel, which is quite safely above the water line, if the sailboat is canted in the opposite direction. The sailor is seen sleeping (below deck, I believe) and is awakened by the noise.

Most accounts I have read about are when the container is flush with the water, and these accidents occur at night, when it is impossible to see the submerged threat. And then the vessel is holed below the water line, a much more serious situation. (Light is needed to film the movie, so a daylight incident is chosen.)

In the film the sailor is on a Cal 39 built by Cal Yachts They are ultra-light production ocean racers with an estimated maximum of 8+ knots displacement hull speed.

With a solo watch interval of 30 minutes, this sailboat would travel 4 nautical miles in that time. The eye's line of sight can see about 22 nautical miles. Given that, and the fact that the shipping container floating fairly high on the water, there would have been about seven opportunities to spot this hazard. This suggests an error on the part of the sailor. (Oversights will happen and a good premise is needed for this film.)

(c) Holed Hull

Any breach of the hull is a serious condition. A small half-inch hole like a broken through-hull valve can quickly overwhelm the electric bilge pumps. A prudent sailor stores cork stoppers of the correct size for each through-hull valve connection to plug them up if needed. For larger holes like breaches in the hull, the tactic is to fill the breach with seat cushions held in place (here is where extra crew come in handy) while a sail is wrapped around the outside of the hull and tied off on both sides of the deck. This provides more leak proof covering and accounts have shown that it can prevent sinking for about five days.

In the film, the breached hole is so large a person could crawl through it. The sailor improvises with wooden sticks as a supporting structure covered by fiberglass cloth and epoxy. It looked like a good sneeze would rip it open again. (Never mind the pressure of the water on the hull.) A sail was never wrapped around from the outside to protect the fragile repair and forestall what is about to happen later in the film. (I should subtract points here.)

The technique of using a sea anchor (drogue) on the container to free it from the hole in boat seemed innovative. However, he seemed careless in handling it and it looks like he could have easily lost that sea anchor overboard. This is essential equipment for open ocean sailing.

(d) Bilge Pump

The film showed the sailor improvising to make a handle for the manual bilge pump.

It was unclear to me why this was necessary. Did the original one fall overboard? Or was the pre-trip checkout improperly done?

Also, initially there didn't seem to be enough water in the bilge to short out the batteries that run the electric bilge pumps. There was no attempt to even try them or check them out.

The manual bilge pump is used only as the last resort, because it can quickly tire one out and interfere with the solo watch system.

(e) Distress Call

In coastal waters, one uses a Marine Band VHF transceiver. It has about a line of sight range of 22 nautical miles, more if the antenna is located up on the mast top.

This is entirely inadequate over long distances. Instead, a short wave (SW) transceiver is used with the back stay (ends insulated) acting as the antenna. Communications distances can be half way around the world depending on the day or night ionosphere conditions and the frequency used. Either CW (Morse) or SSB (voice) can be used. Sailors use this to "phone home" regularly to update friends/family. I have specially gotten an FCC Ham license (Extra) so I could legally operate a SW Transceiver. Alternatively, satellite communication can be used, even the Iridium sat cellphone.

Another equipment frequently used is an Emergency Position Indicating RadioBeacons (EPIRB). It has a serial number that needs to be registered before it is installed on the designated boat. It can be turned on manually in emergency situations. It is also designed to float free from its mount and automatically transmit when doused or submerged in water. The ideal place to install it is topside, somewhere near the companion way. EPIRBs also come in personal size that can be worn or place in a lift raft. The transmit via a satellite the Lat/Lon/Date/Time/SerialNumber when activated and this initiates a search and rescue operation no matter where in the world it is activated.

Also, a satellite link to weather map/report data in conjunction with a plotter/printer is typically used.

I saw none of this equipment on board.

Instead it looked like the sailor was futzing with the Marine Band VHF radio with only 22 nm range. Fine if there is some passing ship on the horizon, but otherwise no good.

Also, he climbs up to the mast top to find the RF Cable leading to the VHF antenna disconnected. This is really something that should have been checked out, fixed if needed prior to departure. (I have no sympathy here.)

(f) Storm at sea

In open water, the scenario in the film is actually quite typical. Large expanses of fair weather sailing with sporadic localized thunderheads that appear on the horizon. It is often difficult and tedious to sail around them so more often one just sails through them.

In the film, however, I see the sailor react in a belated fashion. The foul weather gear and safety harness connected to a jack line is only done while in the midst of a the storm under heavy rain. This is just poor planning for the obvious.

Also, one reduces sails before the storm arrives, not while the tension is the highest due to the wind. The force on the sail is proportional to the wind velocity squared. Also, for gale force winds, sailboats carry a storm sail which is typically a small triangular handkerchief type of sail. The main and jib sail is taken down and the storm sail takes the place of the jib. In super high winds, no sails are set, but the boat is running on "bare poles". The force of the wind on the poles make it act like a sail. Also, in severe storms, the sea anchor is set, usually off the stern to slow down the boat and keep the boat from coming broadside to the wind (which induces a knockdown.)

In the film, I saw none of these foul weather tactics either done or done correctly.

(g) Knockdown

Because of the lack of proper seamanship for a storm at sea, the sailboat invariably was positioned for a knockdown.

The stability curve for a blue water sailboat is usually such that when knocked down and upside down, that will last only a few minutes before the boat rights itself automatically. However repeated knockdowns with really bad conditions can break shroud lines and bend/damage the mast.

The mast on the Cal 39 was stepped through the deck to the keel (a very strong arrangement vs. just stepped to the top deck). However, the mast was bent and useless at that point.

One essential equipment is a pair of bolt cutters to cut the shroud lines free. I did not see any in use here. Note while many shroud lines are stranded wire cables (and can be cut) some are a solid bar wire and may require a hacksaw.

A sailboat with a downed mast can be improvised with a jib sail and still get around. I saw none of this here.

Also, during the storm and thus during the knockdown, deck hatches were left open and the companionway slats left out. (negative points here)

(h) Life raft

By this time there are too many lapses in proper sailing techniques and the inevitable becomes reality.

The number one rule with life rafts is one always 'steps up', never 'step down'. That is to say, get on the life raft only when the vessel literally sinks under your feet.

In the Fastnet race in 1979 off the coast of England, a sudden gale cropped up and the crew of several boats had decided their boat was actually going to sink and they boarded their life rafts. After the gale blew by, the crews that had stayed with their boat were still alive while the crew that abandoned ship onto life rafts were never seen again and all but one of the abandoned sailboats were still floating after the storm.

Also an account by a cruising couple with a badly holed (under the water line) vessel which was patched by a sail, actually managed to stay afloat for five days before the empty water tanks ruptured and the boat finally sank. This extra time allowed them to be saved.

Also, for emergency purposes, a evacuation bag is prepared (prior to shore departure), kept near the companion way and ready to go. The bag should contain medical supplies, navigational instruments, charts, portable radios, signaling devices, food, water, etc.

In the film, the sailor spends an inordinate amount of time rummaging through the precariously sinking boat looking for odds and ends he could use on the life raft. (This may make for good drama but is really foolhardy.)

Also, the life raft should be securely tied to the vessel (life rafts have been lost to sea under storm conditions) and a knife carried on the person at all times. When the vessel sinks, the line needs to be quickly unfastened and as last resort, the line cut with the readily available knife. A vessel can drag the entire life raft to the bottom.

What I saw in this film was too haphazard with respect to safety and the above-mentioned criteria.

(i) Celestial Navigation with a sextant

I have taught Celestial Navigation using a sextant. (The concept was actually invented by Newton, but most often credited to John Campbell.)

The technique is to use an optical surveyor-like instrument to measure the height of a celestial body (Sun, Moon, planet, star) while noting the time of the measurement to the nearest second. The raw data is reduce via a Nautical Almanac and sight reduction form. It takes two lookups into the Almanac plus some computations to get both the Latitude and the Longitude (mistakes can be rampant). This results in a Line of Position (LOP) on which the vessel lies. It require at least two LOPs (at right angles to each other) to arrive at an intersection that notes the position. If one is good at it, a 1-to-5 nautical mile accuracy can be obtained, good for open sea navigation and also good enough for landfall on an low lying island atoll. (Remember, line of sight is only 22 nm and islands may never be found.)

Note that clear weather is needed to take these sights. Since the Sun is very bright and can be seen through thin cloud cover, the Sun position tends to be the main method. One sight is taken at 8am and the second sight at local apparent noon. This gives the required right angles for the LOPs but first LOP needs to be moved by the (estimated) speed of the vessel.

To teach this to student takes two semesters. There is one account were a woman taught it to herself in a few weeks while on an outboard leg of trip and successfully used it on the return leg of the trip.

In the film while in the life raft, the sailor looks at the sextant in a surprised "so this is what a sextant looks like" gaze. In a very minutes, he is already reducing his first sight and getting a position to put on the chart. (Noting the explanation above, it seems only one sight was taken, so this is filmmakers license.)

(j) Charts

When sailing, all the necessary charts for the area need to be onboard.

What few people realize is that there are also Pilot Charts.

These are charts that show the average wind speed/direction, seas current speed/direction, air/sea temperatures, number of gales, icebergs, etc. with statistical information based on measurements taken by vessels that have traveled through the chart's regions. Due to seasonal changes, there is one Pilot Chart for each month. These are invaluable for pre-trip planning, but become very useful in a life raft when one want to figure out how the prevailing winds and sea currents may drift the raft.

I saw no Pilot Charts in use in the film.

But he seemed to be lucky in this case as the raft was drifting toward a sea lane.

(k) Signaling Devices

At some point the life raft is in/near the shipping lanes. An attempt is made to use a signal flare (in bright daylight) to catch the attention of the passing ship.

This signaling device is better suited for nighttime use. For daytime, a smoke signaling flare works better.

Also, a signaling mirror (with a hole in the center) can be used in bright sunlight conditions. The ship is viewed through the hole in the mirror while the mirror is angled until one sees the reflection on the pilot house of the ship. That should catch their attention.

Also a portable VHF Marine Band radio would have been handy to catch the attention of passing vessels. Those container ships travel at 20+ knots and pass by quickly so the further out they can be contacted, the better. It also takes them about 30-60 minutes to slow to a stop, so if line of sight is 20 nm miles, then radio contact at first point of sight has a reasonable chance of rescue.

Another point is that neither the sailboat nor the life raft had a radar reflector. This is just a simple open sphere built from three circular pieces of sheet metal. It should have been near the top of the mast (none were seen when he climbed the mast) and one should have been on board the lift raft. A light-weight version could have been flown with a kite to provide greater than 22 nm mile detection by passing commercial ships.

It appears poor trip planning stocking of necessary items resulted in a severely diminished chance of success.

(negative points here)

(l) Water

A person can survive about three days without water.

In the film, he discovers that the water tanks brought onboard had the cap removed and it had taken in sea water.

In the film, he modifies the water tank into a solar water distiller to capture the evaporated water from the seawater and condense it on the clear plastic which then drips the distilled water into a cup.

This is the one innovative thing I can credit him for.

Based on accounts, a father, mother and daughter adrift in the open sea without water, the father eventually drank his own urine, while the mother and daughter refused to their own urine. The party was rescued after three days, the father survived but the mother and daughter didn't. One would not think that this might work, but it does as long as one isn't severely dehydrated. However, I can't imagine it being shown or hinted at in the film.

(m) Final Scene

The final scene he desperately tries to catch the attention of a passing vessel at night by burning papers in his solar distiller. Through misfortune he sets his life raft ablaze and has to jump into the water.

It is at this point that I notice he never had any life vest on hand. That means treading water for a long time.

It appears he decides to give it up and just slip under the waves. The vessel actually motors over to the life raft and uses a spot light to search for a survivor.

The final shot shows him drifting upward toward the light and a hand reach down to grab his.

I (and others watching it) were left wondering what the true ending is given the title of the movie and the opening dialog. Was he really rescued or did he just 'come to the light' ?

(n) Final Comment

To the initiated, this film might seem like a skilled and knowledgeable sailor that was able to surmount a variety of setbacks until he was finally overwhelmed my misfortune.

And for them it was good drama.

To me, I saw numerous errors and poor planning and poor seamanship and most of the situations could have been avoided.

It still kept me on the edge of my seat, but only because I could see even worse scenarios and had to guess at how the story line would play out.

One final note: Originally I thought the sailor was too slow and sluggish in responding to emergencies. I reasoned that adrenaline would kick in and there would be a faster response.

However, after thinking about this, I realized the behavior was exactly right.

When I went on the 24-hour sail offshore from Manasquan Inlet, NJ, to Block Island, RI, at least one of the crew members became seasick. The sea was flat, but there was a gentle following wave quartering on the stern with a ten-foot height with an interval about 90 seconds. The sailboat had a very slow three-axis (pitch, yaw and roll) rotation. However, this induced motion can be detrimental to a person's well being. After many hours, the reaction time deceased to 'very slow motion'. A Crew-Over-Board pole that was strapped along the side of the boat had the tip (with the flag) dip into the water. I had to point that out and that person pulled it back out of the water, but then is a strange reversal, let it slowly dip back into the water. Rather than to quickly pull it out of the water again, the movement was so slow, that the pole's flag completely unfurled, and caught in the flow of the water the pole bent 180 degrees and snapped. It was just plain motion sickness and the surreal reaction time on the part of this crew member that led to the loss/damage of the pole. I myself, though not seasick, was queasy enough so I couldn't eat anything for the 24-hour duration.

In that respect, I can sympathize with what the solo sailor went through in trying to do what is necessary, but having a problem carrying out those tasks.

(o) References

BlogSpot - Robert Redford - Solo Sailor

Wikipedia - All is Lost (film)

Wikipedia - Cal Yachts

Wikipedia - Life Raft

EPRIB - emergency satellite transponder

OrionSignals _ USCG Signal Requirements

NauticExpo - Radar Reflector

MMControls - Radar Reflector hung from the shroud stay high on the mast

Wikipedia - Sextant

OpenCPM - Pilot Charts

SFBaySSS - Single Handed Sailing Tips

HamRadioLicenseExam - Technician, General, Extra


LITTLE BIG MAN (letter of comment by Fred Lerner):

In response to Evelyn's comments on LITTLE BIG MAN in the 03/07/14 issue of the MT VOID, Fred Lerner writes:

I've never read LITTLE BIG MAN, so perhaps I shouldn't make this comment. But I'd suggest that you don't be too ready to dismiss as too convenient the "shrinking" of the West you attribute to that book. When I was reading THE DEATHS OF THE BRAVOS (1962) by John Myers Myers I was struck by the frequency of encounters between famous Western explorers, gunslingers, and other characters whom one might not have expected ever to have interacted. Myers's history of those Western characters is reliable enough that it has been reissued by the University of Nebraska Press in 1995 under the title BRAVOS OF THE WEST. [-fl]

Daylight Saving Time, Mathematics, COSMOS, and James Gunn (letter of comment by John Purcell):

In response to the 03/07/14 issue of the MT VOID, John Purcell writes:

Well, thank you once again for the latest MT VOID. I always appreciate your efforts, but I wonder: will the onset of Daylight Saving Time delay VOID's delivery an hour? [-jp]

Evelyn responds:

Considering that we spent a lot of time trying to figure out when we should send the MT VOID from our hotel in Cambodia so that it arrived at about the right time to our subscribers, I doubt that DST is going to mess things up too much, except for those in Arizona, Hawai'i, and various countries that have not switched to DST or the equivalent. And considering that we are now on DST eight months, or two-thirds of the year, and Standard Time only four months, why is it still called "Standard" Time anyway? [-ecl]

Mark writes:

The Effect of Daylight Savings Time:

We do frequently get asked if the springtime Daylight Saving Time adjustment will delay the delivery hour of the VOID by an hour. Actually it will make it come an hour earlier. The old adage is "spring forward; fall back; winter go back to bed; summer keep your hands off that clock." By taking an hour out of the flow of time you get an hour closer to the time we send out the VOID. When it is Fall you actually have to wait longer for the VOID. What you are probably thinking of is what happens when the time to send out the VOID is in the next half hour and we change the clock so that hour does not exist. That issue of the VOID then is trapped in the Phantom Zone. When that happens you do not get that issue of the VOID until eight months later when we re-adjust, get the missing hour back, and free from limbo the patiently waiting issue of the VOID. [-mrl]

In response to Mark's comments on mathematics in the same issue, John writes:

Oh, no! Mathematics in a fanzine! Run away! Actually, this was well written and reminds me that tonight at 8 PM CDT the reboot of COSMOS will premier on our local Fox station. Neil deGrasse Tyson is the perfect host for the show. I loved the original show hosted by Carl Sagan. In fact, one of our next door neighbors earned his MS and PhD in Astrophysics at Cornell and Dr. Sagan was Ron's advisor. My dad used to kid Ron that his dissertation defense was an appearance on the TONIGHT SHOW with Jonny Carson, since Sagan was such a frequent guest. I have an autographed paperback copy of COSMOS. It is understandably a prized possession. [-jp]

Mark responds:

As for Math in a fanzine, well you sort of brought it up this week by asking about Daylight Savings Time. Thank you for saying the math was understandable. I have visions of readers getting all befuddled by it all and giving up. (And the column this week may be more obscure.)

At this writing I have the first episode of COSMOS on my DVR but have not seen it. It is coming from the Fox Network. I though these were the guys who tell us that the global warming theory is just wild guessing at this point.

I liked the original COSMOS, but I did not care for the style. It should have been some of the most exciting material on television and the "billions and billions" stuff and the music sort of put me to sleep. We now know the "billions and billions" stuff was true but misleading.

More recently astronomers aimed the Hubble at an apparently empty space in the sky to see if there was anything to see out that way and they found--to paraphrase 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY--"My God! It's full of galaxies." It seems now like the universe is more accurately described as "septillions and septillions" of stars. It is some multiple of 10^24 stars. And that is just from evidence that is within reach. The more new evidence we get the more zeros get plastered onto the end of the number. If Sagan could be revived and if he was told what we now know, he might not have been able to wrap his mind around it. He could have very easily just ended up boggled. I know I am. And after he takes that in we could spring on him, "...and that is just OUR universe."

(By coincidence I just saw WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE and it opens with the line, "There are more stars in the heavens than there are human beings on Earth." We have come a long way since 1951.) [-mrl]

And in response to Joe Karpierz's review of TRANSCENDENTAL in the same issue, John writes:

Oh, what else? I will have to read the new James Gunn novel to see if it's worth a Hugo nomination. I read THE LISTENERS a couple years ago and other stories of his over the years, and like his style. So it will be interesting to see what the new book is like. [-jp]

This Week's Reading (book comments by Evelyn C. Leeper):

OSAMA: A NOVEL by Lavie Tidhar (ISBN 978-1-78108-075-7) is an alternate history in a world without global terrorism (according to the back blurb). At first there still appears to be other bombings that match those in our world, but eventually it becomes clear that what seem to be news reports are actually extracts from pulp novels. In this we have something not unlike the structure of Norman Spinrad's THE IRON DREAM. The novel starts in Vientiane (Laos) in some unspecified year. As the novel progresses, we get small hints that times (or timelines) are different. People still smoke on airplanes. Our main character does not seem to recognize what a credit card is. The Vietnamese have fought the French, but apparently not the Americans.

On the whole, it is an interesting conceit, but Tidhar does not do much with it that I can see.

THE CHILDREN OF MEN by P. D. James (ISBN 978-0-307-27990-3) was read as an adjunct to the showing of the film (titled just CHILDREN OF MEN) in our film-and-book group. It was written in 1992, so it is not surprising that some of its predictions, even when correct in their content, were off in their time-frame. For example, Gl 581 c was the first "Earth-like" extra-solar planet discovered, so arguably this would be "a planet which the astronomers told us could support life" as described in CHILDREN OF MEN, but it was on April 4, 2007, not in 1997 as James suggests.

Now I must confess that normally I read the book for an upcoming discussion shortly before the discussion and make some notes, but I often do not write up my comments until after the meeting. This time, however, the meeting got postponed a month due to a storm, so by the time I am getting ready to discuss it I have already forgotten a lot of the book.

Luckily there are several web sites that list the differences between the book and the film, and in the process refresh one's memory about the book itself. For example, "CarrieK" contends there are really only four basic similarities between the book and the movie:

However, Theo and Julian are completely different people in the movie than they are in the book, both in personality and in social position. More significantly, in the book the cause of the problem is male infertility, while in the film it is female infertility. And while James dealt with immigration, director Alfonso Cuarón has added "Homeland Security" and "Terror Alert" levels to make it even more topical. [-ecl]

                                          Mark Leeper

Quote of the Week:

          Expansion means complexity and complexity decay.
                                          --C. Northcote Parkinson

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