Cooking with gas


There’s an old saying around here that means you’ve really accomplished something- people say “now you’re cooking with gas.” Well, after the successful launch of Falcon Heavy, Elon Musk’s Space X is cooking with gas for sure.

I can’t even describe how exciting this is for me, and a lot of other people. For the first time since 1973 (!) we have an interplanetary capable launch system that frickin’ works. And the heck of it is that Falcon Heavy is merely a test bed, Space X is now concentrating on the BFR interplanetary travel system, the subject of an earlier post of mine on this website.

Wow. Mr. Musk is not just a guy who talks, he does things. Really cool things. He stakes his reputation and fortune on the results. This is the guy who promised to bring solar power to a portion of Australia, and it’s happening as we speak. He is cranking up electric car production here in the ‘States. He sells flamethrowers and makes tunneling machines. Lord, what doesn’t he try his hand at.

There are caveats, of course. It’s been a rocky road for Mr. Musk, especially with car production. But darn it, he is doing things as opposed to buying yachts that look like battleships, as some billionaires do. The measure of a person is not in what they say, but what comes out of their hands. And Elon Musk’s “hands” have produced quite a lot, as opposed to verbal flatulence.

This guy is amazing. If he stopped all of his activities tomorrow he would still go down in the history books as one of the key visionaries of this generation. But he isn’t done, not by a long shot.

A couple of years ago I had resigned myself to never seeing interplanetary travel within my lifetime. Especially with the ever shifting delays (interstellar probe by 2069. Give me a break.) and mush-mouthed predictions of our politicians and NASA. But Mr. Musk and Space X have changed all of that. He has yanked real space exploitation and exploration from the limp hands of the government, and he’s taken the reins himself. Scads of people are watching as he makes money and DOES stuff. The image of Spaceman sitting in the Tesla roadster was a publicity stunt, but a damnably inspiring one.

Will there be delays, disasters, and disappointments? Yes, of course. But Space X obviously has their eye on the long game.

And the long game is to get people headed into the stars.

Hostiles, a review


So what’s with the old family photo in a movie review?

And why are we talking about a Western on a sci-fi site?

I can answer those questions.

I am the direct product of the Indian Wars. The photo above is my great-grandfather and his bride, a Dakota woman. At the end of the war out West, he was a soldier, and his final duty station was guarding a reservation in Minnesota. He met my great-grandma, got out of the Army, and they started a family. As the story goes, she didn’t want her kids on the Indian Census, so they moved back to Ohio. Back then it wasn’t cool to be a “redskin.” My grandfather, their son, told people he was anything but half-Native American. Greek, French, Italian, the story always changed. I don’t think anyone believed him. Eventually he ran away to join a Wild-West show. He led a colorful life, lost a son in Korea, and eventually died in a truck accident in 1966. I never knew him.

So when I saw a movie which was based in the dying days of the Indian Wars, my interest was peaked. In 1892, the year the movie is based in, my great-grandfather was close to donning the blue uniform, and who knows what conditions my great-grandma was living in on the reservation. Probably nothing too good- back then the reservations were like prison camps.

I’m writing about “Hostiles” on this site because hey, it’s my site, and I can. It was a very good movie.

One thing I am interested in is the effect of combat on both the combatants and society. The lead actor did a very good job of showing what someone looks like after twenty years of vicious, no-holds barred conflict. The protagonist, a cavalry captain on the brink of retirement, is edgy, weary. The female lead has her family slaughtered by Comanches, she does a very good job of showing what someone who is unhinged looks like. Every character has their flaws, and “hostiles” aren’t always who you would think they would be.

No one comes out of this movie clean, and neither does their society.

I’m not going to launch into spoilers here because some of you may want to see this movie. There is one scene that didn’t square with me, and it was clear at the end. I’ll be vague- it involved civilians who threatened a US Army captain who was completing official business. This would be most unwise- and it turned out poorly for them. But I question whether the incident in that form would have occurred in the first place. If you see the movie, and you should, ask yourself that question.

The action was realistic and non-stop. The scenery, acting and filming was beautiful, and reminded me strongly of another non-typical Western, “The Revenant,” another movie worth watching if you haven’t seen it already.

By all means, buy a ticket, grab some popcorn, and go see it.

The best movies make you think. This one puts you in the shoes of a hard man in a hard time.