Sunday, April 5, 2020

Virtual Conventions

Thanks to all the restrictions, Sci Fi conventions are being cancelled left and right.  Several have moved into virtual spaces, using Zoom, and Facebook, and YouTube (and all three mixed together).

I was asked to do a concert for HELIOsphere.  Here it is in all it's ugly glory.

Friday, February 7, 2020

16 Minutes

Columbia (STS-107) flew apart 16 minutes prior to her scheduled landing:

16 Minutes
Words and music (c) Mark E. Horning 5 Feb 2020

16 minutes from home, and the board is looking green
16 minutes from home, and the danger's still unseen
--Radar trace says she's right on track
--Coming home now, out of the black
--Once you commit, there's no going back...
16 minutes from home.
Just 16 minutes from home.

16 minutes from home, and the weather's looking great
16 minutes to home, where we all will celebrate
--Bearing eastward and homeward bound
--Families waiting down on the ground
--A sight that never ceases to astound...
16 minutes from home.
Just 16 minutes from home

16 minutes from home. When the alarm began to blare
16 minutes from home. They didn't have a prayer
--A leading edge that was compromised
--Fire blazing across the skies
--Just seconds of warning -  before they died...
16 minutes from home.
Just 16 minutes from home

16 minutes from home - so close... yet so far
16 minutes from home - they died to touch the stars
--16 minutes from home
--16 minutes from home
--16 minutes from home
16 minutes from home
Just 16 minutes from home

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Fifty Years

Fifty years ago, the world watched in awe as three men rode into space on one of the most powerful machines ever built by man. Some days later, the entire world watched enraptured when one of those men stepped forth on another world. We returned five more times. And then.. stopped.

Fifty Years
(c) Mark E. Horning 2019

Do you remember - where you were that fateful day?
Do you recall now - how we said we're there to stay?
Red white and blue - blazing so proud against the grey.
Returned in triumph - then threw it all away.

--50 years... since those footprints in the dust.
--50 years...  they rode nine-million pounds of thrust.
--50 years.... we set our dreams aside to rust.
--50 years... broken dreams and broken trust.

Do you remember - when the future was foretold?
Do you recall when - we were willing to be bold?
The first footsteps - we thought were a foothold.
When we were fearless - against the dark and cold.

--50 years... since those first footprints in the dust.
--50 years...  she made nine-million pounds of thrust.
--50 years.... and nothing's left but rust.
--50 years... broken promises and trust.

Let me remind you - we held tomorrow in our hands.
It was a new day - amidst the rubble and the sand.
That brilliant sky road - leading outward to new lands.
When the future - It was ours... ours to command.

--50 years... there's still footprints in the dust.
--50 years...  looks like the future's been a bust.
--50 years.... of tears, despair, and rust.
--50 years... broken dreams ... broken trust.

Do you remember.. where you were that fateful day?

Monday, July 8, 2019

Mark's Coffee Cake

Modified from my 1969 Betty Crocker Cookbook:

1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup milk
1 egg

Cut in the shortening into the flour and then combine the rest of the dry ingredients.  Mix then stir in the egg and milk.

Grease an 8x8 or 7 x11 baking pan.


2 Tbs butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp cinnimon
1/2 cup steel cut oats

Put 1/2 the cake batter in the pan. 
Sprinkle on half the topping.
Add the rest of the cake batter
Sprinkle on the rest of the topping.

Bake at 370 for 25 minuts

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Government 101

There is an old expression: If you trust the government, you clearly failed history. 

Americans are not meant to trust the government.  Americans were never meant to trust the government.  Trusting the government is unAmerican. This fundamental principle is baked into the founding DNA of the nation. The founders understood how dangerous the power of government was,  necessary, perhaps, unavoidable even, but terribly dangerous.

To that end, James Madison wrote a constitution that  specifically constrained the new Federal Government to clearly delineated, restricted, limited, and enumerated powers.  The response from the several States?  Not good enough, and we don't trust you. . We need a Bill of Rights.

Federalists like Madison and Hamilton argued that the Constitution did not need a bill of rights. The powers delegated to the Federal Government were explicitly limited and the people and the states kept all other power.  The Anti-Federalists (who eventually won out - or at least won a compromise) held that a bill of rights was necessary in order to safeguard individual liberty.  Why?  Because the Constitution is not good enough, and we don't trust you.  We want it in writing.

So Madison swallowed his pride, plagiarized George Mason (Virginia Declaration of Rights), and drafted up a package of 12 amendments to satisfy the various states. Ten of those amendments became the first ten amendments which we now know of as the bill of rights, the first actually became the 27th amendment.  The last one dealt with making certain that congressional districts didn't get to large and was never adopted.

Here is the key thing though.  The Bill of Rights does not establish or create ANY rights.  Everyone from the most ardent Federalist to most vehement Anti-Federalist agreed on this principle.  The rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were just that, enumerated.  Just as the Virginia Declaration of Rights didn't create them but declared rights.  They already existed.  Fully formed, like Athena from Zeuz's head.

These rights, be they freedom of speech, or religion;  the right to keep and bear arms; to be secure in ones papers and possessions; the right to be judged by ones peers; or to be free of cruel and unusual punishments... These are not granted by the constitution. These are pre-existing, fundamental, inalienable, inseparable, basic rights of the People.   All people.  Wherever they are and whomever they might be.  Not American Rights. Universal ones.  From the single mother in Modesto to the goat herder in Uzbekistan.

Any other interpretation is a lie. A falsehood.  Incongruous with the historical record.  And when a government claims otherwise?  Not good enough, we don't trust you, we never will.

Monday, March 18, 2019

And away again

Ok.  So I sold the D-03R-12 to a musician who was in town just for two days.  Band is from North Carolina, touring through the country in a beat up van.

Apparently they had a gig at the MIM Sunday Night.

Gave him an outstanding deal.  Hopefully that should prevent the guitar from returning.

Friday, December 21, 2018

They keep coming back

Sold two nice wooden guitars to a fellow on the Larrivee forum:
D-03R-12 (Rosewood Dreadnought)
LS-03  (Semi-Custom Forum Guitar)

They get there, and he says they are Fabulous.  Woot!  Customer is happy so I go ahead and order a custom Emerald.

Two days later he wants to return one of the guitars.  And of course, it's the 12 string.  What is it with buyer's remorse and 12 Strings?

I offered him a discount, but in the end told him that as long as he ate the shipping both ways I'd take it back.  Arrived today.

No more long distance selling of 12-strings.  If anyone local wants a killer deal on a solid rosewood 12 let me know.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Glorius Day - Janus

Janus wins at the SCOTUS!

I hate unions, with a passion.  But the one thing I hate more than unions is being FORCED to join one against my will.

Forced unionism  prima facie runs smack up against the 1st Amendment's protection of the right of association.  And no, the whole, "well you don't have to join the union, just pay us a bunch of money anyway" isn't a sufficient fig leaf.

Janus was decided on Free Speech though.  Sure, forcing someone to pay for political activities he opposes is also clearly unconstitutional (Despite what 4 robed activists might otherwise think) but it's a secondary argument.  If you can't force me to associate, you can't force me to pay.

Regardless, it's a major victory for freedom and the Constitution.

As for the Unions. Bite me!

Now my dad loved the union, but they actually earned that.  They earned it by funding their own retirement system.  They earned it, not demanded it.

For everyone who thinks a union is a good thing, earn it.  Because it's going to be voluntary association, and if you want people to associate, you better make it worth their while.