Book Review: Stormdancer by Kristoff (4 Stars)

Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

4 out of 5 stars

Read in late August 2014

Synopsis from MacMillan’s site:

Stormdancer is the first in the epic new fantasy series The Lotus War, introducing an unforgettable heroine and a stunningly original dystopian steampunk world with a flavor of feudal Japan.

The Shima Imperium verges on the brink of environmental collapse; an island nation once rich in tradition and myth, now decimated by clockwork industrialization and the machine-worshipers of the Lotus Guild. When hunters of Shima’s imperial court are charged by their Shōgun to capture a legendary griffin, they fear their lives are over. Any fool knows the beasts have been extinct for more than a century, and the price of failing the Shōgun is death.  Accompanying her father on the Shōgun’s hunt, the girl Yukiko finds herself stranded: a young woman alone in Shima’s last wilderness, with only a furious, crippled griffin for company. Even though she can hear his thoughts, even though she saved his life, all she knows for certain is he’d rather see her dead than help her. But together, the pair will form an indomitable friendship, and rise to challenge the might of an empire. Continue reading

Posted in 4 Star, Books, Dystopian, Fantasy, Fiction, Ratings, Reading, Reviewing, Reviews, Steampunk | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Less Than Three Years to Prepare

SolarEclipsePathAug2017

Path of Total Solar Eclipse August 21, 2017

For once, I live in just about the best spot to observe a total solar eclipse. The center line for the eclipse coming in August 2017 is just a few miles north of where I live.  That being said, the path of the eclipse cuts diagonally across the United States from Oregon to South Carolina.

Update Monday 9/1/2014:  I forgot to include a link to the Astronomy magazine article that will take you to the interactive map shown above:  Make Plans for the 2017 Eclipse with This Great Map. Continue reading

Posted in Astronomy, Seasons, Solar System, STEM, Summer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: The Guns of August by Tuchman (4 Stars)

The Guns of August

by Barbara W. Tuchman

Read by John Lee

Winner of the Pulitzer Price for General Nonfiction 1963

4 out of 5 stars

Thanks to Barbara, I now know more about the first month of World War I than all my previous half-century of accumulated, absorbed knowledge. Not only do I know more, but I understand the how. How Europe ended up in a terrible stalemate and war of attrition that lasted four more years. The why will have to wait until I can read her other history The Proud Tower: A Portrait of the World Before the War, 1890-1914.

On August 23rd, I attended a discussion of The Guns of August sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library, the Kansas City Star‘s FYI Book Club and hosted at the National World War I Museum at Liberty Memorial. There were many attendees from all over the Kansas City metro area and we attempted to stay focused on Tuchman’s novel, not straying to far before or after. A great hour of discussion on an excellently researched and composed history of the outbreak of the Great War. Continue reading

Posted in 4 Star, Books, History, Non-Fiction, Ratings, Reading, Reviewing, Reviews, Seasons, Summer | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why the federal court record system PACER is so broken, and how to fix it — Tech News and Analysis

http://gigaom.com/2014/08/27/why-the-federal-court-record-system-pacer-is-so-broken-and-how-to-fix-it/

So what happened? Why has the federal courts’ IT system stagnated despite more money? The answer, unsurprisingly, is that the money has gone elsewhere.

Bureaucracies and budgets … if there is money unspent in one at the end of the year …

The bottom line is that fixing PACER is not a technological challenge, but a political one, and technology has yet to solve the problem of getting the politically powerful to focus on the right things at the same time.

I admin a lot of weird one-off applications where I work.  Last week, PACER dropped into my lap as a direct result of the upgrade mentioned in the article above. I can attest to the very dated interface. In fact I probably hadn’t seen PACER in over a decade and it looked and acted just as it did back then. I have never understood how this system is allowed to charge anyone fees because all the information it contains is public information. Compare to NASA which makes an incredible amount of information available for everyone – researchers and citizens – easily accessible and free.

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Article: Internet down for 12m Americans as Time Warner Cable suffers outage

Internet down for 12m Americans as Time Warner Cable suffers outage

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/27/internet-down-time-warner-cable-outage

Per my earlier Tweet, we (the Mosses) are victims of this outage.

What do you want to bet that my bill will not reflect a credit for the inconvenience?

Posted from WordPress for Android via my Samsung smartphone. Please excuse any misspellings. Ciao, Jon

Posted in Broadband, Information Technology, Internet, Mutterings | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Modesitt on Ferguson

http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2014/08/26/ferguson/

‘… but a “them” versus “us” confrontation isn’t going to do much to improve things in Ferguson… or anywhere else.’

Can I get an ‘Amen!’ or ‘Hallelujah! ‘?

Posted from WordPress for Android via my Samsung smartphone. Please excuse any misspellings. Ciao, Jon

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Update from the Eastern Front

My grandmother, Doris, often wished she could reconnect with her mother’s relatives in Europe in her latter years.  But the ravages of two World Wars followed by the dropping of the Iron Curtain across most of eastern Europe made genealogical research nigh impossible.

I was reminded of this frustration this morning while I listened to The Guns of August on my commute to work. I’m reading this Pulitzer winning non-fiction book as part of the Kansas City Public Library and the National Word War I Museum‘s Great War | Great Read program to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War I.

I’d reached the fifteenth chapter, which began a shift of focus from the Western Front in August 1914 to the Eastern Front with the appropriate title ‘The Cossacks are Coming!’  About halfway through my commute, I recognized the name of my great-grandmother’s home town, formerly known as Stallupönen, but since reclaimed and renamed multiple times over the last century.
Continue reading

Posted in Family, Genealogy | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments