Saturday, July 25, 2009

Liberty and Tyranny; Restore the Heritage of the West

I'm reading Mark Levin's book "Liberty and Tyranny" as well as a fascinating book called "The Last Superstition." Both are about ideas that seem to have been forgotten. The heritage of the West is embodied in ancient Athens, ancient Jerusalem, ancient Rome, and the emergence of representative democracy in the New World embodied in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. We need to restore an understanding of this heritage before we sink into oblivion and insignificance as we let the stink of the swamp of socialism rise and suffocate us.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Peek At The Past: BBS's

Here's a peek into the past. This is sometime in the mid-1980's during the BBS (Bulletin Board System) days in the Twin Cities. Our family lived in Apple Valley, Minnesota (Isn't that a great name?). The character in the background is me and the young fellow in the foreground is my oldest son Ray who is sitting at an Apple ][ + working a BBS.
A BBS, for those not in the know, was a telephone based computer system that you could call and communicate with. It was a little like a Yahoo Group is today or a blog or even a website. They were also sometimes called message boards since mostly people signed on and read messages and left messages. It was great fun.
My BBS was called "Terminal Station" and it ran on some CPM software called "Citadel" and the metaphor was a set of rooms you could go to and leave messages. Each room was a topic and so many different conversations could be going on at the same time. Frankly I think Yahoo Groups could learn something about organizing a message board from some of those early systems.
The Apple ][+ had some Applesoft software that implemented a message board and my son Ray was working on that software to optimize it for a BBS he was running. Since we only had two phone lines and we reserved one for old fashioned things like telephone calls, Ray and I shared the other line. This no doubt confused some of our callers since when you called the number you were not really sure if you would get Terminal Station or Ray's BBS whose name he'd have to refresh me on. It was all great fun. Of course it was single threaded. Only one person could be on-line with the system at a time.
I had a friend who was running a bunch of modems and his system which was a multi-threaded form of the Citadel software would run as many as I think 20 users at a time. That was a big improvement of course over just a single line. The Internet has long since replaced all of that early activity.
The picture is from a story that ran in the local newspaper. Just a little trivia from the early days of personal computers. Nostalgia anyone?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Murray Leinster: An American Original

Will F. Jenkins wrote under his given name and under the pen name of Murray Leinster. I missed the fact that Virginia had honored him by naming June 27, 2009, Murray Leinster day. I never met him in person. But Murray Leinster was my companion on many an adventure when I was a boy. He was born on June 16, 1896 a couple of years before one of my other heros, C.S. Lewis. But I met Murray Leinster long before I read C.S. Lewis. I never passed up a book by Leinster. It was a license to adventure. He and Robert Heinlein's juveniles did more than anything else to get me interested in science.

I've been laying around the house recovering from a surgery performed on June 17, 2009 with not a lot to do. So I started reacquainting myself with many of the stories that I had first read long years ago in the 1950s when I was about twelve. I remember Willy Ley and Warner von Braun's books about exploring space. They were science fact, in fact NASA would have done well to follow their blue print for the space program instead of a race to the moon with the Soviet Union. But that's water over the dam.

Leinster's science fiction was full of clever ideas most of them at least partly rooted in fact. Leinster himself was an inventor as well as a writer. So what I did is turn on my Kindle, tune to the Amazon Kindle store and downloaded pretty much all the Leinster they had. Some of my favorites were not available at the Kindle store, so I'm waiting for them to come in the Big Brown Truck that has the location of my house memorized. Leinster was a writer who wrote very entertaining stories. They were not particularly profound, although they were deeper than a twelve year old could fully appreciate. I'm having a lot of fun getting reacquainted with my old friend Murray. Will F. Jenkins died June 8, 1975. His science fiction is a little dated here and there, but it's still a romp.