Is the Sun Waking Up?
As the Sun moves through its natural 11-year cycle, in which its activity rises and falls, sunspots rise and fall in number, too. Currently, scientists are paying close attention to the sunspot number as it’s key to determining the dates of solar minimum, which is the official start of Solar Cycle 25. This new sunspot activity could be a sign that the Sun is possibly revving up to the new cycle and has passed through minimum.
A solar minimum is only recognizable in hindsight: It could take six to 12 months after the fact to confirm when minimum has actually passed.
Scientists need long-term data to build a picture of the Sun’s overall trends through the solar cycle. Commonly, that means the number we use to compare any given month is the average sunspot number from six months both backward and forward in time — meaning that right now, we can confidently characterize what October 2019 looks like compared to the months before it (there were definitely fewer sunspots!), but not yet what November looks like compared to that.
On May 29, at 3:24 a.m. EST, a relatively small M-class solar flare blazed from these sunspots. It was the first M-class flare since October 2017.
Better to Read on your Happy Hour?
Summer reading reviews
Tough, hard-boiled, and brilliantly suspenseful, The Last Good Kiss is an unforgettable detective story starring C. W. Sughrue, a Montana investigator who kills time by working at a topless bar. Hired to track down a derelict author, he ends up on the trail of a girl missing in Haight-Ashbury for a decade.
First sentence of the book:
“When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bull dog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.”
The book has that alcohol-violence-drugs thing going on. I don’t know that it’s for all readers and the reviews follow that.
The Cold Six Thousand
In this savagely audacious novel, James Ellroy plants a pipe bomb under the America in the 1960s, lights the fuse, and watches the shrapnel fly. On November 22, 1963 three men converge in Dallas. Their job: to clean up the JFK hit’s loose ends and inconvenient witnesses. They are Wayne Tedrow, Jr., a Las Vegas cop with family ties to the lunatic right; Ward J. Littell, a defrocked FBI man turned underworld mouthpiece; and Pete Bondurant, a dope-runner and hit-man who serves as the mob’s emissary to the anti-Castro underground.
This book was recommended to me by the Chief of Staff to the Mayor of Las Vegas in the early 2000’s when I was running the Organized Crime/Grand Jury unit of the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office. I recently revisited the book/story and found it to be as engaging as it was 20 years ago. As with The Last Good Kiss, it’s a book with a dark, and yet earthy theme. It won’t be to everyone’s tastes.
Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore was the oldest independent science fiction bookstore in America, founded in 1974 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On May 30 the store was attacked by one or more arsonists, and burned to the ground. The event occurred during the ongoing riots and looting.
Striking a blow for social justice and a crippling setback for the forces of repression and racism, the looters of Minneapolis were proud to announce that they burned both Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore and the adjacent Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore to the ground.
From a Reporter at the Scene: “This is a great day and a step forward in liberating the people of Minneapolis from the police tyranny and brutality,” said one anonymous rioter. “Everyone knows these purveyors of paperbacks and mind-numbing dribble are merely puppets and pawns of the police-state peddling their perfidious and pernicious manuscripts to lull the sheeples into compliance,” she said while trying to stuff a gasoline-soaked rag into the throat of a wine bottle filled with gasoline, while she smoked a joint. “Those f____g donut shops will be next. Then the pigs will have nowhere to hide.” She wiped her gas covered hands on her blue jeans, smoothed back her blonde hair to reveal her blue eyes, took a puff on her joint, and smiled. “Remember this is all in the memory of what’s-his-name who was killed by the cops here, I think. Who-hoo! Up the revolution, bro’s!”