Yee ha – Colonize Mars with Top Rated Scifi Story #mars #sciencefiction

Thrilling for a new author – my latest Mars colony story earned a top 5% in its Amazon Best Sellers Rank category. I want to share the story with my blog readers – download a free copy today. Go to Smashwords and use coupon code LL42T. If you’d like to say thanks, leave a review – if you have an Amazon account, a review there helps readers find me – Amazon is The Big Dog in book selling.

Thanks everyone! 🙂

Are You Being Cheated? However Will You Know? #economics the dismal science #shopping #bigdata

If the price of a can of cold soda from a vending machine varies with the outdoors temperature… are you being cheated in July? Or given a bargain in December? (Or the other way around if you’re down under.) Is a higher price okay when the vendor meets you in the park?

  • If my shopping history says I’m cheap, should I be offered a lower price than you – a person known to splurge?
  • Should the price of pumpkin pie spice go up as Thanksgiving nears?
  • If you got 50% off the list price of $999 for a patio furniture set, would you be angry to find Walmart’s everyday low price sticker on the box – reading $247?
  • Major brick-and-mortar stores like Borders, Blockbuster, Circuit City and Radio Shack are going bankrupt.

Welcome to the world of shopping in the digital age.

Since about the 1860s, a standard asking price replaced haggling in industrialized countries – in part because Quakers and other groups felt charging different prices for the same item was immoral. (In the USA, the 1860s was our Civil War and maybe we were too distracted to haggle – I don’t know what the rest of you were doing.)

But the endless arms race between buyers and sellers takes on a new urgency in the internet age. Is it fair for buyers to view items in a brick and mortar store, then buy cheaper on-line? What do you think of stores that jack up list-prices so sales look better?

Online purchases peak during weekday office hours, so retailers are commonly advised to raise prices in the morning and lower them in the early evening… [Today] Big Data could discern every individual’s own personal demand curve—thereby turning the classroom hypothetical of ‘perfect price discrimination’ (a price that’s calibrated precisely to the maximum that you will pay) into an actual possibility

Perhaps all this confusion will drive people to rent-not-buy everything from a car ride to party supplies.

Personally, I’m retired in a small rural county of New Mexico – definitely not affluent. I’m a few sigmas off the average American.

  • I have the time to spend days researching large purchases.
  • My last pair of jeans cost $5 at a thrift store and that was a splurge for me – I usually wait until donations overwhelm them and they sell as much as you can stuff in a bag for $1.
  • I never go to a mall for entertainment – the closest one is a 2 hour drive! I go for a walk in the forest instead.
  • I notice my neighbors are more likely to set out their own hand-made lawn art than anyone would in suburbia.

I’ve withdrawn from the battle, but what will you do?

Read a fascinating article at theatlantic.com on shopping. Did you know one reason for ending prices in 0.99 was to force cashiers to open the drawer to make change – thereby recording the sale and stopping them from pocketing the money?

New Collection of Short Reads in Science Fiction and Fantasy is Crazy Popular #scifi #fantasy #shortstory

My new collection of short reads has rocketed to top 6% of its Amazon Best Sellers Rank category in only five days. That’s crazy for a new author like me 😉

Thank you 🙂

This collection’s only available on Amazon and is included in Kindle Select / Unlimited / Lending Library / Amazon Prime. If you’re a subscriber you’ve already paid for these stories so why not give them a read?

Miners plunder Jupiter’s atmosphere – and finds more than expected. An angel has a photo op on Mars. A time traveler leaves a lonely woman behind. A desperate man seeks help from a witch. Vignettes and excerpts from the On Mars series – the first colony on Mars.

These stories and more wait for you, short reads to fill a break in your day or an afternoon curled up in your favorite chair.

First Image of Dark Matter Looks Familiar #space #darkmatter @henderob

Astronomers have captured the first image ever of the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the universe (maybe) but we can’t see. And it looks like…

The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Sorry – it’s goingto take me a while to turn that into a poem. :\

 

Staggering Challenge for the Future #desert #water #breakthrough

Citrullus_lanatus_var._citroides

In some places, I wonder how plants find water

Water – fresh and clean – is something we humans need. Without it we’re sick or dead. Drilling deeper wells will work for a while, but that’sexpensive and once we use up deep aquifers they’re gone for our lifetime. Desalination sounds like the perfect answer – but it’s also expensive and if the salty concentrate is dumped near the intake (as it usually is) the water becomes harder to treat.

Oh, for nature’s pure water, freely given from the sky. Ten percent of Earth’s fresh water is floating around in the air at any given time – so close at hand but so hard to reach. Maybe until now.

You can’t squeeze blood from a stone, but wringing water from the desert sky is now possible, thanks to a new spongelike device that uses sunlight to suck water vapor from air, even in low humidity… homes in the driest parts of the world could soon have a solar-powered appliance capable of delivering all the water they need, offering relief to billions of people. sciencemag.org

The device is powered by solar energy – abundant in poor dry communities. It requires zirconium-based, porous organo-metallic crystals pressed onto sheets of copper. Hmmm, that sounds harder to come by. Indeed, it’s too expensive right now, but researchers at University of California, Berkeley, are

 Designing future water harvesters cheap enough not only to slake the thirst of people in arid regions, but perhaps even supply water to farmers in the desert.

Too often, scaling up a lab success proves disappointing. That’s why a lot of the “breakthroughs” you read about in the popular press are never heard from again. But so many people need water. I hope this idea works out.

Here’s my ode to a champion desert dweller, the desert watermelon. I hope this new idea is an effective.

Who’s Killing Australia’s Platypuses? #Australia #nature #poaching #poetry #poem

Three platypuses in Australia were ‘deliberately killed’ in the last few weeks, and two of the animals were found beheaded in what wildlife officials are calling a ‘horrific act of cruelty.’ time.com

Horrible! In honor of the platypus, I’m reposting an old favorite.

Victorians called her primitive,Platypus-sketch
A mammal under-done,
Chimera of cold austral streams,
Life’s ladder, on a lower rung.
With lizard bones and otter fur
That’s waterproof and soft as silk.
Laying eggs as lizards do,
Then nursing babes on milk.
She hunts her prey in bottom mud
With tactile snout exquisite;
More delicate than human touch,
She senses nerve cells with it.
Life branches out a thousand ways,
Ignores our human urge
For categories neat and trim.
Nature’s on a splurge:
Formed a creature that’s most elegant,
Beauty’s her attraction.
Admire now the platypus,
A honey of adaption.

by Kate Rauner

More science inspired poetry

Urban Fantasy of Good Battling Evil #urbanfantasy #paranormal #book #review

A cop in modern Albuquerque, with (as one reviewer said) a walk-in closet full of skeletons, is drawn into the battle between good and evil, where evil is magical creatures and monsters including “every god you can name,” and the good is science and reason.

Oddly enough, the forces of good seem to be magical immortals, just like those of evil, but they want to lock evil out of our dimension by helping humans become rational. This may sound intellectual, but the story is easy to read and full of action.

Most humans have a touch of magic and so are vulnerable to evil, but in a neat reversal of the usual trope, instead of secretly being a wizard or some such thing, the cop may save the world because he has no magic at all inside him. Oddly enough again, this allows him to wield a magic sword.

I found it easy to forgive the oddities because I like the bold premise. The story moves along with flawed characters who (most but not all) grow into heroes.

The first two main characters we meet are exceptionally attractive, and I groaned thinking this was all-too-typical. But there’s actually a point in the story to their good-looks, so kudos! The main immortal good-guy is fabulously wealthy, which helps to keep the plot moving by, for example, producing a private plane when needed.

The cop’s neuroses are explained in a believable manner and the story carried me right along as evil invades our world.

Modest spoilers – Expected amounts of violence and mayhem are present, but also a few possible triggers that you might want to know about. Religious believers may find it offensive to include their god with the evil gods. There’s a little preaching about this idea but it’s not heavy handed. There is rape, torture, and suicide, a child is endangered, and a bisexual character endures harassment at work. What sort of triggers do you think I should mention in a review?

The ending sets up the next book in the series, but isn’t an annoying cliffhanger – though some reviewers on Amazon thought it was too abrupt. Three books are available in the series.

What others are saying
The Edge of Reason earns a respectable, if not overwhelming, 3.5 stars from 23 reviews on Amazon. Those who liked the book enjoyed the provocative premise and the characters, nay-sayers thought the plot twists were trite and predictable.