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New Year’s Eve 2017

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Austin fireworks downtown – New Year’s Eve 2017

Snow Austin New Year's EveThe Austin fireworks downtown launched from Auditorium Shores off Lady Bird Lake  started early, around 10pm, perhaps because the front was coming in and it was getting below freezing quickly…and it was snowing and/or sleeting a bit. Some of it stuck a little on the balcony furniture (photographic evidence to the right), and made it slippery to be out there (what a way that would have been to start the New Year: hey, I learned to fly, but not for very long!).

The fireworks went for about 15 minutes. The photos and videos below are looking up towards the Congress Street bridge. It appeared that they were either launching the fireworks from boats or from that small island just beyond the 1st street bridge – hard to tell in the dark.

Below are videos from the beginning, a couple near the end, and some photos from in between.

Here’s a segment of seven minutes at the beginning…then I wimped out and went inside.

Some photos:

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Austin fireworks downtown NYE 2017

Austin fireworks downtown NYE 2017

Austin fireworks downtown NYE 2017

Austin fireworks downtown NYE 2017

Then here are two videos of the grand finale – two because I stopped recording during a pause, and then they started shooting away again.

Great Austin fireworks downtown! Wishing everyone a happy and safe New Year.

 

U.K. Daily Mail science editor Michael Hanlon and me on SF Signal

U.K. Daily Mail science editor Michael Hanlon and me on SF Signal

My friends at SFSignal.com invited me to interview Michael Hanlon about his new book Eternity: our next billion years. Michael is the science editor for the Daily Mail in the UK. His book goes against the current doomsday grain and looks through a future where us humans are still hanging around. It is split into three parts: near future (new few centuries), mid-future (few thousand years) and far-future (the point where the Earth will actually die, a billion years hence). The chapters are mostly science essays, but there is some sprinkling of speculative fiction in the later chaps.

Michael’s book covers a wide range of topics including how the geo-political landscape may change in the next few years, what languages we might be speaking, how drought, famine and over-population will affect the world, the singularity, things that he doesn’t think will happen, things that would change the course of history if they did happen, and others.

After the break is an excerpt: (more…)

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Interview with Jonathan Maberry at SF Signal

SFSignal.com has posted an interview I did with Jonathan Maberry, martial jonathan-maberry-patient-zero-72-dp1artist and author of Patient Zero, a techno-thriller. Patient Zero is a fast paced read, featuring Joe Ledger, a no-nonsense, no-hesitation fighter who is recruited for the Department of Military Science (DMS) to fight a new threat: a bio-terrorism agent that affects its victims in a way that makes them resemble zombies.

But this is not a Zombie book: there is science and reasoning behind the action. The interview covers the research Mr. Maberry did, his martial arts background, the current threat of terrorism, and more.

There is also realism in the fighting, based on Mr. Maberry’s martial arts expertise. Here is an excerpt that describes his background:

LARRY: Did you pattern Ledger after a particular experience, or type of martial artist that you have observed (or been)?

MABERRY: Joe’s reactions are based partly on my own views and teachings in martial arts, and on the kinds of reactions and reflexes I’ve seen in men I’ve met who work in SWAT and Special Ops. Immediate reaction without hesitation is a prized skill, and very often it’s the dividing line between those who can hack it in Special Ops and those who can’t. It doesn’t make someone more or less of a good person, but it does qualify them for a certain kind of work.

I’ve been practicing and teaching martial arts for 45 years and currently hold an 8th degree black belt in jujutsu and a 5th degree in kenjutsu (the art of Japanese swordplay). Both arts grew out of the fighting sciences of the Samurai, and immediately reaction and appropriate response are core skills. It’s what the samurai trained for and what I learned.

I was able to get a lot of practical experience with this while working as a bodyguard in the entertainment industry. I’ve taught martial arts and self-defense to a number of special needs groups, such as abused women, school kids, college women, the physically challenged, the elderly, and so on.. Until recently I was also CEO and chief instructor for COPSafe, a firm that provided arrest and control workshops for all levels of law enforcement including SWAT.

What Joe Ledger does is not superhuman. It’s the end result of good training coupled with the sharpness of mind that someone in Special Ops would necessarily have.

The full interview is here.

Re-reading MSandT

Re-reading Tad William's Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

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