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A Navigator’s Moon Into Space

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My crew in my novel The Rags Of Time are coming back to Earth. But then – things happen.

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It is a navigator’s moon.

That is how Eric the Red thinks of it, as his space craft enters Earth’s solar system. He is called Eric the Red for his facial hair, and his ancestry. But behind his back, his romantic notions of the ancient ways is more the reason for his name.

Even when they fly past it, Earth’s moon generates little influence upon their return. A minor compensation of the thrusters, and its only effect on the ship, is the ritualistic kiss which crew members bestow against the aft window for the man in the moon. However, as soon as his gravity sensors register the distant presence of Pluto, Eric the Red enhances their output to catch the faintest twinge of the Earth’s moon.

His navigator’s moon.

Tomorrow, Eric will alter course to sweep past Pluto’s satellite, Charon. He plans to use the combined gravity as a sling to amplify his own trajectory, although he will lose some directional control to achieve speed.

Opportunities to observe this unknown planet are still scarce, and he makes adjustments to confront the dual gravity. He decides to attempt the `Film Technique’, which met with success among the moons of Jupiter. The Technique is named after the way film had been threaded in the antique movie projectors of the Twentieth Century.

He plans to wind through the gravities of the various moons, in such a manner that each helps accelerate his ship around the next. There are many factors to consider which affect the interplay of gravities between solar bodies. And they will, in turn, exert their control over his vessel. At times like this Eric wonders how much really has been learned since the existence of gravity was acknowledged.

He adjusts the coordinates of his radioscope to compensate for the approaching planet. He is about to tell his crew to do the same at their consoles, when his hand stops in mid-movement.

He sniffs the air. He looks quizzically to the left, then glances behind him. There is a sudden and pervading odour of seaweed.

“Captain.”

The voice comes from the speakers beside his view screen, but he is not distracted.

It is the seaweed smell of low tide.

As a child, he would play upon the furthest rocks in the heat of the sun. There was danger staying extra minutes, for the ocean could return in a rush. He and his brother had once had to scramble through fast-moving water as it came past their chests.  They had floundered over the seaweed-slippery rocks until they managed to reach shore. It had been one of the most frightening moments of his life.

“Captain.” This time it is his second officer’s voice. “We have to adjust the radioscope.”

“There is – ”

Eric the Red still remembers the terror. The awful moment when he had slipped, and his head went under the foaming water. His startled surprise as his brother pulled him upright.    “There’s a possible malfunction with the hydroponic transfer system. I seem to be receiving a strong odour of … vegetation.”   He takes an audible breath.

“As soon as the radioscopes are altered, have the connections of the oxygen extractors, and the leads to the ventilation system, checked.”

“We’ve had no other report about this, sir.”

“Swamp gas.” Eric feels he can make a joke, for the smell is starting to dissipate.

“Perhaps there’s some sort of build-up in your section, Captain.”

“Maybe there’s a part of Pluto fermenting we know nothing about.” He looks at the distant planet on his view screen. “I’ve never had the desire to visit.” He chuckles for the benefit of his second officer. “Perhaps that awaits you, Malcolm.”

May The 4th

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Will
 
… hopefully …
 
Lead to May the 5th
 
& then
On to May the …
 
   – well –
 
U might be getting the picture.
 
Two things (so far) stand out
 
About
 
May the 4th, 2020.
 
One is, that in Italy,
 
Restrictions about
 
Going out
 
And about
 
Are being loosened
 
And the first thing
 
A citizen in Venice
 
Did
 
Was get in her boat
 
And wander the
 
Canals.
 
This is so pleasing.
 
She can see
 
-if she wishes to look-
 
Jellyfish
 
And the bottom of
 
The Canal.
 
Clean water runs through it.
 
The other thing that
 
May the 4th
 
Always brings to my mind
 
Is
 
That
 
Star Trek
 
Is so much better
 
Than Star Wars.
 
(Oh, beam me up)
 
May the 4th be with you!

Trump And Putin Walk Into A Bar And Discuss The Future

 

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang

~ How much vodka did you have, Vlad?
 
~ Why do you ask, Donnie?
 
~ ‘Cause you’re reaching kinda far – even for you.
 
~ What do you mean, Donnie?
 
~ Asking your fellow Ruskies to keep you in power for life.
 
~ Are you jealous, Donnie?
 
~ Well, I have God on my side, and I haven’t taken that step.
 
~ Yet.
 
~ Nyet.
 
~ You’re a funny little president, Donnie.
 
~  Gotta keep the deplorables laughing.
 
~ So far – so good. Isn’t that right, Donnie?
 
~ Yes.
 
~ So, how can I help you?
 
~ I’d like some pointers.
 
~ I’m preparing for 2024, Donnie.
 
~ I know.
 
~ Well, you’re starting too late.

Proof of Life as Time Does What Time Does

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What sights indeed are these, that cause the racing clocks to pant their minutes in counterpoint to a life still learning the difference between wretchedness and love?

The swing goes up and the swing goes down, and then goes up again. If you are on that race, with childish yells, and up-down-mess-it-around feelings in the pit of your stomach, they haven’t lowered that coffin lid yet.

No, not yet.

****

What sights indeed are these, that make a heart argue the worth of dying, and ring the bells across the hill when there is no hand upon the rope?

There are happy tunes on the breeze and, yes, even the unicorn lifts its head with twitching ears and mouth agape.

And even (so it has been recorded, in long-ago books) our Lord Jesus God would pause in His ministrations at the wonder of it all.

****

What sights indeed are these, that ease the night’s passage and sow the fields full of restful dawn?

A race against the end is run by all of us; when the kitten kicks and purrs through her ball of string, or when the ancient’s cane tap-taps across the room. Eyes, whether young; or dim; or blind; can still open in amazement, and still marvel at the ever-changing newness.

Marvel and rejoice.

****

What sights indeed are these, that turn all tunes into rhapsodies of joy, and make the moon do gypsy dances through the night sky?

A sky of stars that shower and shake and stream across the galaxies to cram unto the ends of the distant universe. Grains of sand upon the shore would take sensitive fingers, and a lifetime of counting, yet still could never fill this distant space where even numbers stand in awe.

Zeros with mouths agape.

 

(Image) https://wornandwound.com/library/uploads/2017/06/Zytglogge-Bern-Astronomical-Clock-2.jpg

A Gypsy Instructs Kafka About The World And Truth

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In Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the ‘missing’ diary entries from Kafka’s real diary. He either did not fill in these days himself, or he destroyed them. There are some estimates that Kafka destroyed 70% – 80% of everything he wrote. 

08 June 1917

A Gypsy confronted me today, and I was in the mood for a bit of sport. Her age was difficult to tell – certainly a decade older than me. In her swirl of shawls and dangling jewellery, heavy make-up on her face, she could almost have been in disguise. She peered at me with an intense sigh, attempting – I am sure – to penetrate my own disguise.

“You are a Jew,” she said.

“And you a Gypsy,” I replied.

She seemed pleased with my response, for her professional smile became real.

“You state the obvious,” she said. “As becomes a Doktor of Laws,”

I replied. “But to your eyes, do you not state the obvious?”

“Are you going to banter with a poor old Gypsy woman, instead of barter? That would make you suspiciously like one of us.” She said this with a growl in her throat.

“The Gypsy and the Jew,” I said, feeling the challenge which I so miss. “Perhaps an opera – but I think it’s been done to death.”

“They will try to do us all unto death,” she said harshly, and turned away.

I had the fear she was going to leave me without another word, but what she did was to spit fulsomely onto the street.

“They can’t kill us all,” I said, but I knew she heard the doubt in my voice.

She slowly faced me again.

“So. Even a Doktor of Laws can have hope. That is refreshing – but foolish.” She took my hand and felt my palm roughly with her thumb, although all the while her eyes never left my face. “You are going to travel.”

“Travel is a vague word. One can go on many types of voyage.”

“And reach many destinations,” she added, still holding my hand. “If you take away my vagueness, you take away my trade.”

“Then let me pay you for your services right now.”

This transaction would make her loose my hand, which is what I wanted most of all. She had frightened me, for her eyes and face were full of truth. I know the truth. I know it when it presents itself, stark and unobscured. I search out truth endlessly, yet still can flee at its approach. As in her eyes. But she gripped me more fiercely, and pulled my hand up.

“The coin, Herr Doktor.” Her voice was now soft. “The coin can wait.”

She at last lowered her eyes and looked closely at my palm. She rubbed the lines and whorls of my skin. She touched her finger to her lips, and spread the moisture along my hand.

“Your lifeline, Herr Doktor,” she took a quick look in my eyes, “of Laws. You deceive with the youth upon your face. Is that not so?”

“If your eyes stop at the mask, then no, the years have not etched themselves deeply.”

“Not on your face, Herr Doktor of Laws.” Her grip was intense. “But on your palm…” She hissed. “You will soon embark upon that final voyage.”

She released my hand, rubbed her fingers across her sleeve.

“But you will not go in haste. There will be many stops along the way.”

Suddenly her face was full of the most beautiful smile, and her laughter was genuine.

“I see you do not complain of vagueness now.” She held out her hand. “The coin, Herr Doktor of Laws. This time I have truly earned it.”

I dug deeply into my pocket, and feared that I may have overpaid her. But, perhaps, that is not possible.

(image) https://thegraphicsfairy.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Gyspy-Lady-Bird-Hat-Image-GraphicsFairy.jpg

Trump And Transgender, In The Military And In Politics

 

1200px-transgender_symbol_color~ Good Day to you, Mr. President.

~ Take it easy, soldier.

~ Sir.

~ You know – at ease.

~ Yes, Sir.

~ What can I get you?

~ I’m not allowed to drink on duty, Sir.

~ I’m your Commander-in-Chief. I can allow it.

~ You’d have to order me, Sir.

~ Would that work?

~ I don’t know, Sir. That’s above my pay grade.

~ Not above mine.

~ No, Sir.

~ I have billions.

~ Yes, Sir.

~ Billions and billions and billions.

~ Yes, Sir.

~ I could pay you to drink.

~ I couldn’t take pay, Sir.

~ It would be a bribe?

~ No other word for it, Sir.

~ So – what do you think of the cross-dressers?

~ Pardon me, Sir?

~ You know – cross-dressers in the military.

~ We’re all cross-dressers in the military, Sir.

~ What?

~We take off our civvies and put on a uniform. Sir.

~ Then that isn’t it.

~ No, Sir.

~ Gotcha. It’s the transgenders.You know them?

~ In truth, I don’t, Sir. Those uniforms keep things private.

~ But you must wonder about them.

~ Not for a second, Sir.

~ You don’t care what’s between their legs?

~ No, Sir.

~ That doesn’t sound natural.

~ Sir, as long as they carry a gun and got my back – I don’t care what’s between their legs.

Franz Kafka Asks An Age-Old Question (from Kafka In The Castle)

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In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in the missing entries of his actual diaries.  There are many days to fill, as he either did not write during these days, or he destroyed the record.

11 June 1918

“What if?”

That was a game I used to play with my sisters when we were little: What if we were children of the Emperor? What if we dug a hole in the ground all the way to China? What if we had our own house? What if we lived by the ocean? What if we went to church (those mysterious churches)? What if we lived on the moon, would we be able to yell down our greetings? Ottla had the least interest in the game, yet she made up the best questions.

I find today that when I `what if’, I don’t think so much of the future, but wonder about those things I might have done in my past, which I ignored or refused.

Felice, of course, with two engagements never fulfilled.

Other work – I’m a good enough lawyer, I could get other work.

Prague – this ornate tomb – to have lived a life elsewhere. Berlin, Palestine, Amerika. Zurau.

What if I had fled with the Swiss girl? Her youth, her zest – I might have learned to sing.

What if I were less exact – less austere?

What I might have written.

What I might have lived.

What if I had asked far fewer questions – and taken more time to better understand the answers.

(image)https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1757693365/if-book_thumbnail.jpg

What Happens After You Die

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Some day she will not wake – she prays for this every night as she lays waiting for sleep.

To-night is not bad, there will be no need to use a pill. In fact, she is very good about the pills. Dr. Morgan has told her – almost encouraged her, she feels – to use a pill a night, and not fight for sleep as she sometimes does. But she can not bring herself to believe that that is right – she is certain Ned would never have agreed to it.

Ned was never one to take the easy way out. Not, she would hasten to add, that he was some sort of doomsayer, or a fanatic of any sort. But he did believe it was up to each person to solve their own problems. Where he may have expected too much was believing that all problems had a solution, He would keep at something with a relentless persistence.

She would sometimes stand near him as he was trying to replace some tiny piece of a machine, or climb yet again on the shed roof with some tar, and she would say, “Leave it be, Ned. Let it alone.” But he would just pause, settle back on his heels and perhaps light a cigarette, and say that he may as well be putting in the time on this as on anything else.

And back he would go at it. As far as she knew, he never gave up on anything until it was done. He was not the type to gloat, or even show much sense of satisfaction, and she had been married to him for years before she recognised his small mannerisms that meant he was pleased.

She turns over, being careful not to lay an arm on his side of the bed. Or let a foot stray over the line she has refused to cross for eight years. Ever since she reached out one morning and touched cold flesh.

No, she will not need a pill tonight. Her work has tired her enough to bring on sleep. It is, of course, the memories weaving through her mind that she would really like to stop with the pills.

Those memories she can barely stand, and without which she could not live.

DE

(image) bioethicalinquiry.com/wp-content/uploads/6-3EndofLife-470×260.jpg

Franz Kafka Prepares For The End Of Civilization

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(Image drawn by Franz Kafka)

In my novel, Kafka In The Castle, I fill in his lost diaries.  Here, as the learned Doktor of Laws, he has been asked to speak to the citizens of the small village where he is living with his sister for a few months. He speaks the truth, and avoids the truth.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

15 January 1918

This war. They wanted my opinions about this endless war. These earnest, honest men, awaiting the words from the Herr Doktor of Prague.

I agreed only to answer questions – that way I could not be accused of fermenting treason. Even in these troubled times, the law allows a man to answer questions. Assuming that the law prevails.

The law was present in the form of the policeman, attending this questionable gathering while still in uniform. He doffed his hat as he shook my hand. I would rather have him in our midst, than lurking in the hall. We have nothing to fear from him.

“Will the empire last?” This was first from their lips. And they must have needed to hear the words, for even the Emperor must know that all is lost. The Old Order, having fallen into the hands of dull and witless men, must succumb. The complacency of the age must be purged – but that has not yet happened. That awaits the next generation – and the destruction will be furious. But I do not tell them this.

I am skilful in what I do not tell them, for the truth is beyond their power to persuade or control. (Their next questions would have been more difficult had I not curbed the truth further still.) “What will happen to Zurau? What will happen to us?” And they have every right to worry. To suspect. When a society crumbles, it is those at the bottom who get crushed. But I told them that Amerika seemed a just power – not bent on retribution.

I did not tell them that a victor can do as he wants.

And I told them that we live in a secondary part of a secondary empire – the powers of destruction will be concentrated on Vienna and Berlin. I did not tell them that during the death of a snake, the spasms of the tail can be lethal.

And I told them something which could really be of help. I told them, in this coming year, to grow more food: fatten more beasts: prepare, preserve and put away. Fill their cellars and barns to bursting with food and fuel. Buy some things now, which they can use for barter later if the currency becomes worthless. Look after their families and lands. Look after each other.

 

16 January 1918

I did not tell them that war is the end result of injustice and arrogance, and that it is oftentimes necessary. I did not tell them that when the natural balance is upset by human action, the cost of righting it must be made in human payment. I did not tell them that a country where neighbour is cruel to neighbour is a country mean for war.

 

17 January 1918

I did not tell them how the Jews will always suffer in time of war. How we will be searched out, then driven as far as the east is from the west, and then be persecuted. How there will never be safety for us. Yea, even unto the land of Israel.

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