Once again, back on Facebook. I figured that a week away didn’t lead to withdrawal symptoms, so what the heck?
No more Facebook for me. Seriously, all done.
The last time I said this was in response to Facebook’s annoying habit of changing and resetting privacy options- every time they tweaked something they would automatically reset my privacy options to the default (read that as “wide open”). I got over that after about a week and reactivated my account, mostly because it was the easiest way to keep up with the antics of my grandchildren.
This time, no it is not about the NSA, it’s simply that I took a look at my timeline and realized more than 60% of my posts were political. This surprised me because I at least claim to hate getting all this political crap on Facebook, yet here I was, a prime offender. When I realized that and accepted it I just went over my Facebook experience these past few months and came to understand that more often than not checking Facebook served to piss me off.
Seriously? I don’t need anything extra to piss me off. I realized that I was getting into political arguments with my neighbors that I NEVER would engage in face-to-face, and not the GOOD kind of arguments- these were tit-for-tat exchanges between me as a right-of-center with some libertarian leanings type of guy and people whose ideologies ran from left-of-center to so far left I had to look right to see them.
Nothing good would ever come of this and a value my friendship with these people too much to let something as ridiculous as Facebook become a problem. My wife will keep her account and I’ll keep up with the kids and grand-kids through her.
The ship came alive in Belle’s sensors, the energies she would unleash slowly building as the countdown approached the zero mark. Twenty hours earlier she had begun charging the toroid magnets of the Constriction Channel, flooding them with liquid helium, then gently ramping up the current running through them, monitoring for any hint of failure. There was none, she had been diligent the past ninety days, expending her meager repair reserves to ensure integrity of the main reaction drive and supporting systems. Nonetheless she had built in a comfortable safety margin in case anything cropped up as the system was placed under full load for the first time in nearly 1000 subjective years.
Detection arrays were retracted, gossamer constructs that could not withstand the deceleration she would subject herself to over the next year. Fuel to thrust calculations were updated real-time as any new information became available. Belleau Wood had been collecting and compressing fuel throughout her long voyage, a 1500 kilometer wide electromagnetic field funneling stray hydrogen and helium atoms into the processors for sorting into useful isotopes and mere coolant or cold reaction mass. The tanks were fully charged, deuterium/tritium compressed nearly to the point of collapsing into degenerate matter. Once the Drive was fired there would be more energy…
Belle herself was running at only twenty percent capacity and most ship’s systems were powered down in order to send all available power to the Drive. Everything indicated it would ignite as scheduled, but if anything went wrong Belleau Wood would streak through the system at nearly .25C and likely not even be noticed.
Approaching from 13 degrees above the plane of the ecliptic, just outside the orbit of Neptune, Belleau Wood announced herself to the Solar System as hydrogen poured into the reaction chamber and was compressed beyond the point of atomic cohesion, collapsing and reformulating in a blaze of energy arcing out in the general direction of the Sun. Belle ran the thrust up slowly, but relentlessly to just over .28 standard gravities, sufficient to set her on speed and course to overtake her target in just over a year and still leave her sufficient fuel to navigate upon arrival. She could have shortened the interval, diving deep into the system and decelerating at more than four standard gravities, but there were too many variables she could not account for. Besides, she wanted the target to see her coming.
Belle ran through weeks of diagnostics once the drive was running and her supply of energy became nearly unlimited. Satisfied Belleau Wood was sound Belle began to fiddle with the mix of elements pouring through the Drive, creating a brilliant visible light for her target world to see. A beacon to draw the attention of any who might be watching.
Sitting, waiting for the replacement of a bad brake light switch that set off an impressive number of warning lights this morning.
The sequel to Methuselah’s Daughter is a bit of a dead issue at this time. I made so many compromises to her character that I’m finding it nearly impossible to write Zsallia well, and without that I can’t see any point in pushing forward. It may yet come to pass, but I doubt it.
Anyhow, other ideas have been poking to the surface- just a little to show:
Belle disliked awakening and in a very logical approach to this dislike she made certain her emotive subroutines were disabled before entering hibernation. It served to reduce the confusion that could accompany the return to awareness after prolonged downtime, particularly under these circumstances. With her awareness returning numerous systems clamored for her attention: it was best to approach this as dispassionately as possible and besides, for the moment she had nobody to talk to.
The vast majority of the alarms were familiar and she ignored them, instead turning her attention to thirteen new alerts, the first of which was the Mission Clock: nine hundred and thirty-seven years, eight months, nineteen days, six hours, fourteen minutes and thirty-one seconds… approximately. Next came the grim realization the remaining twelve were transit pod failures, meaning that of the eighty-nine crew she had been entrusted to safeguard, only one remained alive. In the cold calculus of the mission success probability that even one remained was rather unlikely, though the one survivor was certainly the one she would expect to remain.
Belle acknowledged all alarms and set about a methodical systems check, waking each critical subsystem individually, re-routing where necessary or taking direct control if the management system was too corrupt to be trusted. Once satisfied she had full control Belle spun up the navigational system and compared her projected course against known navigational landmarks, correcting for the catalogued changes incurred by the exceptionally long transit time and the two confirmed Dislocation Events. She was precisely where she expected to be, one star before her appearing noticeably brighter than all the others, sensors detecting streams of energetic particles that confirmed the identity of the star as definitely as any chart comparison could.
Within minutes she located her destination and turned all signal detection equipment to the task of making a final appraisal. She picked up fragments of transmissions and ran brute-force signal processing against them to tease out more structure, to find meaningful data. It took more than twelve hours, but the evidence was conclusive and with a surviving crew member, an officer at that, she had no discretion. Belle utilized minimal bursts from attitude control and an assist from internal gyroscopes to align the ship properly, and then started the countdown clock to begin her Insertion Burn in just over ninety days. She would arrive with dry tanks and little reserve, but she could drop drones to collect and process fuel as well as collect raw materials for repair and refitting.
Planning completed and automated subroutines in place Belle brought her consciousness fully on-line, and wept.
Finally pulled the plug on my Facebook account. It’s been a while in the coming- I certainly got sick of the politics during the election, and the way they seem to be insistent on steadily stripping away your privacy “for your own good” (read that, “For our profits”). So, today I finally did it. My wife still has hers so I have access to the kids pictures and the like. As for friends, those who care to know how to reach me and the rest can reach me through my wife.
Friends don’t let friends use Facebook.
Civilization does not “fall” in any classical sense. Certainly historians like to examine events and trends and draw lines in the past where one would say Rome fell, or Persia, or the Delian League; however, these are the constructs of modern eyes looking back rather than the observations of those living through those times. One does not wake up one day only to have all of society go up in flames around them.
Civilization does not fall, it withers. The fall consists of decades, maybe even centuries of decline characterized by loss of the essential character that one identifies as the community or the nation or the empire. Norms desiccate into mere husks of what they once were. The commonplace becomes scarce and the unheard of becomes commonplace. People find they cannot rely on the structure of society and little by little that structure erodes away. By the time some cataclysmic event erupts to wipe away all vestiges of ‘civilization’ it has been all but dead for some time, just awaiting the touch of the barbarian or the soothsayer to reveal it has been dead lo these many years and never knew.
Those who seek to prepare for civilization’s fall are mostly engaged in a fool’s errand, for they are unlikely to recognize the fall until it is far too late.
We saw the doctor on Wednesday and she was very reassuring about the nature and prospects for Tina’s cancer. I noted before that the 5 year survival rate is very high and she reiterated that. In the vast majority of cases the hysterectomy is the cure and nothing else needs to be done. We won’t see the surgeon until October 2nd, and the surgery will be a week or two after that. Naturally we’d both prefer things happened faster, but what can you do? Tina worries a lot- she won’t stop until this is over and done with. I don’t worry as much as she does and I’ll still be in that unhappy place until then, too.