This is the blog and homepage of Mark R. Kelly, the founder of Locus Online in 1997 (for which I won a Hugo Award in 2002 — see the icon at right) and of an index to science fiction awards in 2000 that became in 2012. I’m retired from my day job of 30 years, from 1982 to 2012, as an aerospace software engineer, supporting the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station.

Posts here are mostly about my reading, of science fiction and of books about science, history, philosophy, and religion; and comments to articles in newspapers that I link to. Movie reviews and pics from travels are posted on Facebook.

More on my About page, including a photo of the Hugo Winners the year I was among them, and links to an index of my columns and other writings, and to my earliest homepage with links to some of my work.

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Another Afterlife

I wrote a short essay back in November, shortly after my bypass surgery following a heart attack in late October, that each time you survive a near-death experience – meaning something that, a century ago before the advent of modern medicine, you would not have survived – what follows is an afterlife, an extension of your old life but also a new life in the sense that you appreciate what you almost lost and now have a chance to do better.

So I spent nearly two full months in a couple hospitals following a second heart attack on April 20th, culminating in a heart and kidney transplant on May 26th, followed by another three weeks of recovering before returning home on June 16th. I’ll write another post or two detailing that experience, if perhaps not quite the length of what I wrote about the previous hospital stay.

I feel fine except for general fatigue (two or three naps per day) and weakness and now soreness in my legs. I lost some 20 pounds while lying in hospital beds all those weeks, mostly of muscle mass, especially in the legs. Once up, I can walk/shuffle around well enough, but it’s an arduous effort just to stand up from a sitting position. I can get up a fight of steps, but only by holding onto the hand rail with both hands, and moving up one step with both feet at a time. This will get better; it did last time.

I’ll gradually resume my various projects and chores: sfadb updates; support for; columns for Black Gate; and posts on this blog. And work on my book. Ironically, I probably got more done for my book while lying in the hospital than I had for a year or two being busy with other things. I conceived an outline of chapters, and an idea of how each chapter would be structured, and lots of little notes about content to go in each chapter. And I’ve set up a Word doc divided into chapters to consolidate those notes and to start writing actual prose.

After so many weeks away, I was curious how my three cats would react once I got home. They were all a bit shy at first, as if recognizing me but unable to place me—who is this person again? Potsticker, the male in the brother-sister pair we got over three years ago, is the most extraverted of the three, always the first to greet visitors to the house. So he was the first to warm back up to me, rubbing my leg and lying along side me on the bed, rolling over to be scratched on the head. Soybean, the female of the pair, is still reticent, wandering around the house looking at me but still, not yet, taking her favorite place on my lap. –Well, she did for a while this afternoon.

Then Huxley, and youngest at under 2 years, who’d bonded to me closer than the other two because we got him at 8 weeks and I spent all day every day with him, was the most skittish when I returned home the other day. He hid for a while, then came out, sitting at the bottom of the stairs looking up at me, meowing. It took him a couple days of pacing warily across whatever room I was in before he calmed down, first relaxing on the floor, then sniffing my hand, and so on. He’s jumped up on my lap twice, but only for 3 seconds at a time.

I’m sure they’ll all calm down and we’ll be back to normal in another week or so.

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Links and Comments: Science, Religion, and Biases

Neil deGrasse Tyson, creationists, religion and the intelligentsia, risk assessment. And tarantulas.

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Links and Comments 12 April 21

Anti-vaxxers and Stop the Steal; Historical animus against Italians, and Irish; Racial replacement theory; Conservatives against democracy.

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Passages: How the World Works

My favorite news magazine, The Week, is celebrating 20 years of publication with its current April 16th issue, which has retrospectives of cover images, editorial essays, and so on. Here’s one of the latter, by editor-in-chief William Falk.

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Links and Comments: Muon news

It’s pronounced mew-on, not moo-on, I learned today.

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Links and Comments, 6 April 2021: Sciencey Things

When life began in the universe; how or whether civilizations die; why people like closed-captioning

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Links and Comments: The Decline of US Church Membership

When I posted my notes about Michael Shermer’s book How We Believe, I noted that one of his principle observations was how, writing in 2000 or 1999, levels of religious belief hadn’t changed much since the 1960s, the era in which Time Magazine controversially asked “Is God Dead?” And I mentioned how levels of belief *have* declined since Shermer’s book, with the rise of the “nones.”

This past week came a major survey confirming that rise of the “nones,” or more specifically, the decline over the past two decades in church membership.

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Links and Comments: Owning Libs and Tyrannical Government Plots

Republican values and principles; enduring human nature.

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Link and Comments: Ted Chiang interview

Ted Chiang is a science fiction writer who since 1990 has published a couple dozen works of short fiction (and no novel), gathered in just two books: Stories of Your Life and Others (2002), and Exhalation (2019). I’m certain he holds the record for highest ratio of awards won to stories published (see Ted Chiang Titles at The novella “Story of Your Life,” included in the first book, was the basis for the film Arrival.

A couple days ago on the New York Times site appeared a long interview of Chiang by Ezra Klein, formerly of Vox (and author of Why We’re Polarized, reviewed here a couple months ago).
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Links and Comments: About Gun Violence

I’m narrowing in on a Provisional Conclusion that most people live their daily lives without any perspective or context about what happens in the outer world. (And, for many issues, that’s just fine. But not for all issues.)

Thus, Americans take the repeated events of mass killings more or less for granted, not to be addressed through any kind of political action, without realizing that the US is by far the outlier among nations about gun violence and mass killings.
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