Universal Song Remains the Same and Beyond All the Light We Cannot See

This explains in an understandable way why we only see “back” to CMB, not all the way to the Big Bang. Helpful.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

For such a small chapter, this week’s topic on Cosmology has some large and deep concepts.  I’m attempting to delve into “How did the period of inflation cause the universe to become homogeneous and isotropic?

Definitions

Big Bang ~ Universe began as an extraordinarily hot, dense primordial atom of energy and caused expansion, just like an explosion.  Before that moment, nothing existed, not even space and time.  Rather, the explosion created spacetime, which continues to expand.  (Comins, 446)

Cosmic microwave background (CMB) ~ If the universe began with a hot Big Bang, then calculations indicated the energy remnants should still fill all of space today. The entire universe’s temperature should be only a few kelvins above absolute zero.  This radiation’s blackbody spectrum peak should lie in the microwave section of the radio spectrum.  (Comins, 446)

Isotropy of CMB ~ The cosmic microwave background radiation is almost perfectly isotropic…

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Just A Sun-Day Drive Around the Galactic Neighborhood

Fun facts of the type that most writers of science fiction understand.

Misty Midwest Mossiness

This week I’m tackling the subject of our Sun’s motion through the Milky Way Galaxy and approximately how long one orbit is.

The Milky Way Galaxy has two major spiral arms, named the Perseus Arm and the Scutum-Centaurus Arm.  There are also smaller less pronounced arms, including the Sagittarius Arm, the Norma Arm, The Local Arm (aka the Orion Spur) and the Outer Arm.  Our solar system resides in the Orion Spur (Local Arm), branching off from the larger Perseus Arm.  During the summer months in the northern hemisphere, we predominantly observe the Sagittarius Arm, including the galactic center, which appears as steam from the Tea Pot asterism in the constellation Sagittarius.  (Gaherty, 2016)  Over the winter, we’re looking away from the galactic center and through the Perseus Arm.  (Comins, 396)

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To Serve Quietly (or Not) Against the Dying of the Light

Misty Midwest Mossiness

This morning I woke early, as I nearly always do, but with a melancholic mood fogging my mind.  Two Hallmark movies and a cup of hot tea later and I still could not shake the malaise.  I turned off the television and grabbed the closest half-finished book handy and continued my perusal of Cosmic Discoveries with David Levy.  The subtitle for chapter nineteen was a quote I’ve heard many times but which I had never read the original source.  Since the chapter also started with another quote from the same work with a byline to the poet, I decide there’s no time like the present to read the original poem.

My tablet was charging across the room so I grabbed my smartphone and searched on the phrase and poet and got a crazy amount of hits – no surprise.  I read the Wikipedia article first to get some background on…

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Books I Loved 2017 Edition

Misty Midwest Mossiness

At the end of September I reached that point in the year when I could shake off all my various book club obligatory reading and get down to the serious business of reading the books I bought for myself all year long.  Not every year gives me a break where I can read what I want.  I often have to squeeze in my ‘must read’ books between the two to three other books I read per month for various discussion groups and book clubs.  Don’t get me wrong.  I very much enjoy reading outside my comfort zone and would not give up the wonderful discussions and cherished friendships I’ve nurtured through a shared love of reading.

Moss "Loved-It" Shelf YTD 2017

Most years, I read between 75 and 100 books; last year I read 88 and as of today I’ve read 99 thus far in 2017.  And only about ten percent make it onto my…

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Book Review: The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell (Four Stars)

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Book Review: The Empty Throne (Saxon Stories #8) by Bernard Cornwell

Four Stars

“It probably did not matter what the Witan thought … or what I thought. I should have thought harder.”

A romp through a historic game of thrones. History may not be quite as exciting as fiction, but that’s why we have historical fiction. And few authors blow the dust off the pages of time better than Bernard Cornwell.

“It probably did not matter what the Witan though … or what I thought. I should have thought harder.”

Uhtred may be on his last legs. His near-fatal wound is festering, his king is dying, his family is threatened, and his dreams are unfulfilled. What’s a man do to? If that man is Uhtred, attack.

“I wanted an end to the pain, to the problems, but I also wanted to know how it would all end. But does it ever end?”

Well written. Good map, though unreadable in the ebook format. Love, death, betrayal, and surprises. A real life strong female leader. Leavened with humor.

“As I said, Father, I am not noisy.” “And I am?” “Very.”

No quibbles, just looking for an excuse to insert another text quote.

“How?” “By killing any bastard who opposes her.” “Oh, by persuasion.” “Exactly.”

 

Book Review: Through Five Administrations by William H. Crook (Four Stars)

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Book Review: Through Five Administrations: Reminiscences of Colonel William H. Crook, Body-Guard to President Lincoln by William H. Crook

Four Stars

“The newspaperman, then as now, was on the outlook for a sensation. There was less regard for the truth then ….”

I’m a sucker for primary sources, even when–especially when–the writer reveals more about himself and his stop than he intended. Such is the case with this book. Crook takes you into his mind. You experience six presidents from the perspective of one who worked with them closely and personally, but was not involved in the politics of the day.

“It must be taken as for granted that I am somewhat prejudiced.”

Not surprisingly, Crook sees the best of each man, though some reviled each other. He defends each president, even as he acknowledges that some (especially Andrew Johnson) poured burning coals on their own heads.

“A narrow circle of New England theorists who, with their inheritance of inflated ideals and incomplete sympathies, had come to replace, by way of aristocracy, the social traditions of colonial times.”

Snowflake warning: This was written more than a century ago. Crook’s attitudes and expressions will offend modern sensibilities, even of those who agree with him. But if we are denied his point of view, the whole work would be suspect.

“Speeches in both House and Senate … filled with wild alarm, not for the country, but for [their] party.”

Book Review: A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (Five Stars)

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Book Review: A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell

Five Stars

“Hand in hand, they sit … all life’s sorrows but one behind them.”

Russell scores again with entertaining historical fiction which teaches without being didactic. Remote northwest Italy may seem an unlikely locale for high drama, but Russell brings war, the holocaust and heroism into a human focus and an immediacy which engages the reader. Fine writing.

“Never underestimate how soothing it is to have someone to blame. If Jews didn’t exist, someone would have to invent us.”

Russell thoroughly researched this, including many eye witness interviews. It shows. Good stuff. Yes, we know, war is hell. But, except for the Nazis, here almost everyone has got a conscience, and it hurts.

“Feeble as a good intention, he …”

Lots of contrary-to-stereotype characterizations. Carabinieri as good guys. Catholic and Jewish clergy cooperating. Remote mountain types sheltering strangers, at the risk to their home and family. Being a “good guy” does not guarantee a good end.

The world is filled with unreasonable hate. What’s wrong with unreasonable love?”

Something Russell does astonishingly well is address issues of faith. Here as well as Dreamers of the Day, she presents the full gamut of faith and non-faith with a sympathy which is unusual in contemporary literature.

“Hell exists. Any combat soldier can tell you that. So, heaven’s real, too! Logic, ja?”

 

Book Review: Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell (Five Stars)

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Book Review: Dreamers of the Day by Mary Doria Russell

Five Stars

“To be enjoyed, life must be shared.”

Historical fiction at its best: opens the past as can only be done by fiction; while connecting to the reader’s present in ways that are both entertaining and informative. Neatly melds modern opinion with history. Compare this with James Michener’s Caravans, telling in 1963 how the world was going to lose Afghanistan.

“America, I recalled, were notorious colonial troublemakers.” “As the Arabs promise to be,” Lawrence said quietly.

All of the narrowness and prejudices one would expect of a 1920s American abroad–like Mark Twain’s 1869 Innocents Abroad, but Russell’s protagonist is open to Continue reading

Madame Butterfly from Coast to Coast

Misty Midwest Mossiness

Tonight is opening night for Seattle Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly.  My daughter, Rachelle, is once again a member of the cast.  She appears third from the left in both photos below.

MadameButterflySeattleOperaAug2017RachelleMoss3rdFromLeft [ Philip Newton photo ] MadameButterflySeattleOperaAug2017RachelleMoss3rdFromLeft02 [ Philip Newton photo ] Earlier this year, Rachelle was also a member of the cast of Sarasota Opera’s production of Madame Butterfly. So she really has done this show from coast to coast.

Rachelle as Kate Pinkerton Rachelle as Kate Pinkerton

Now I’m wishing I was in Seattle so I could attend opening night.

Break a leg!

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Book Review: The Women of Harry Potter by Sarah Gailey (Four Stars)

Book Review: The Women of Harry Potter by Sarah Gailey

Four Stars

“Ginny let herself be impressed once … and wound up vulnerable and look where that got her.”

I almost didn’t read this collection of posts. I’m not a Harry Potter fan. I read a couple of the books and saw a few of the films, and never connected. So I figured Gailey would have nothing to say I’d be interested in. Wrong.

“These, I must teach to hate.”

I didn’t even know who one of these characters was, but Gailey creates a cogent, interesting essay on each; exploring who they are, what motivates them, and why we should care. Good job.

These posts are among the finalists in the 2017 Hugo Award Related Works. Now that I’ve read them all, I can affirm I liked this one best. Better than many much more famous names who were, IMHO, trading on their names as excuse for publishing drivel.