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To Open The Sky

The Front Pages of Christopher P. Winter

What's New on T. O. T. S. ?

July 2006

  • The most significant change this time is the addition of categorized lists and a "Highlights" page to the Reviews section. Both of these are reached from the revised Introduction. It contains a set of links which will take you to the appropriate category. The current tally for each category is also indicated.
  • As far as new reviews go, I've added a few, but I confess to falling behind in maintining the "new" indicators. The very latest addition is a review of Peter Ward's LIfe As We Do Not Know It. As always, his work is filled with fascinating facts and speculations, plus plenty of annoying typos.
  • There are some housekeeping changes. The big one is conversion to HTML 4.01 Strict (from Transitional), which is about two-thirds finished as of this date. This change will be transparent to the reader. In the course of it, I've made some wording and formatting changes; these should also have little impact.


  • Now that the presidential election is well behind us, I've dropped the "New" designation for the political-book reviews. There are one or two new reviews after that, labeled as such; one of them is Garwin & Charpak's Megawatts and Megatons, which relates to the other topic of this update. But I haven't done much book reading in a while.
  • The big addition since last time is a database of accidents involving nuclear energy. After reading Megawatts, I got into a debate on sci.environment about nuclear power, so I decided I should do some research about it. This database is the result. It collects over 850 accidents and incidents in which nuclear energy is involved. Very few of these have any significant impact on society. Some (as with certain submarine collisions) are neither caused by nor release radiation. But I think it's important to understand the true situation — neither crying doom or dismissing all concerns out of hand. Also, please note that this is not a true database, merely a collection of text files and a set of links arranged in chronological order.


  • I've been busy of late. So, I've added only seven new reviews in my Reviews Roster since the last update:
    • Robert F. Kennedy Jr's Crimes Against Nature. Like Carl Pope's book, it's about the Bush administration's attack on wilderness conservation and environmental protection. This book was published before Bush won re-election. So far, his second term looks much like the first from the standpoint of the environment; and with an even more solid Republican majority in Congress, there seems little chance that will change.
    • Michael O'Hanlon's Neither Star Wars nor Sanctuary
    • Lost in Space — Greg Klerkx' views of NASA and the emerging commercial space companies.
    • Another take on SETI and the Great Silence by Ben Bova: Faint Echoes, Distant Stars
    • Henry Scammel's gripping book Giantkillers, about whistleblowers and their struggles for justice.
    • The Good Fight, Ralph Nader's update on American politics. I also opine about his 2000 campaign for the presidency.
    • A reporter's assessment of George Bush: Frank Bruni's Ambling into History.
  • Also, I did manage to check the URLs in some of my pages — notably the Distant Orisons section. I removed a few broken links, updated three and added one: The memorial site for Ohio University's Big Ear and its creator, Dr. John Kraus (1910-2004).


  • There's only one new review in my Reviews Roster this time:
    • Carl Pope's Strategic Ignorance, about the Bush administration's quest to roll back a century of wilderness conservation and environmental protection. I have some thoughts on the subject as well, in an accompanying essay.
  • The election is less than a month away. To call attention to my reviews of books on Bush, I have left them marked as "New". Please have a look before you vote.
  • On a happier note, I am delighted to report that Burt Rutan's quest for the Ansari X-Prize has succeeded. Just this morning, Brian Finney piloted SpaceShip One to a record-breaking 368,000 feet.


  • In the Reviews Roster you'll find 15 reviews added since the last update:
    • Alterman & Green, The Book on Bush
    • Benecke, The Dream of Eternal Life
    • Bergaust's Murder on Pad 34
    • Cabbage & Harwood, Comm Check...
    • Chown, The Magic Furnace
    • Falk, Universe on a T-Shirt
    • Franken, Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them
    • Grinspoon, Lonely Planets
    • Johnston, Perfectly Legal
    • Lambright, Powering Apollo
    • Mishkin, Sojourner
    • Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier
    • Schoen, Pat
    • Sykes, Adam's Curse
    • Ward & Brownlee, Rare Earth
  • Because I added so many over a space of months, not all of these are marked with the NEW symbol.
  • The Internet Traffic Report is a new feature. Updated automatically, it basically shows the percentage of completed transmissions over the network. Click the icon for more information.


  • My Reviews Roster has five new reviews, done last month:
    • Oliver Morton's Mapping Mars
    • Heinlein's first novel For Us, the Living
    • Joel Achenbach's Captured by Aliens
    • Marina Benjamin's Rocket Dreams
    • Stephen Webb's Where IS Everybody?
  • The last of those books motivated me to update my pages on The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.


  • Today, speaking from NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC, President Bush presented new marching orders for the space agency. The new program includes a base on the Moon and manned missions to Mars. It sounds good; but how much of it will ever become reality? Here's my take on that.


  • Over the holidays, as noted below, I rebuilt the site. This entailed a lot of cleanup work, moving style control of common features like menus from HTML to CSS, redesigning the main menu, and so forth. Some broken links and many instances of missing styles occurred during this process. It took a while, but I think my Web site is now in good shape mechanically. If any errors appear, I trust someone will notify me. You'll find the site has a more unified "look & feel", with menus a bit spiffier than before. Pages should also adapt more gracefully to small browser windows. Much work remains, but I now have a better foundation to build on. My next task will probably be adjusting the sizes of those book-cover images, since they are (in both the file-size and height-x-width senses) larger than they need to be.)


  • This page is new. Last weekend made it clear that I needed a way to announce changes and their results. As noted above, the Introduction that used to be here in the site map still lives. And I still regard it as my "homepage" since this page, like the "splash page", need only be seen once, at the start of each visit.
  • I tore down and rebuilt the site over this past weekend. My purpose was to change from *.htm to *.html filenames. Other than that, the biggest design changes during this effort were to add a light blue background color to the "SpaceVis" section — an effect that doesn't completely satisfy me — and this News sidebar.

NOTE: If you've bookmarked any of my old pages, you might want to update those bookmarks.

  • Two new books appear in the Reviews section: Eric Meyer on CSS and Breakout into Space by George Henry Elias. The former is newly reviewed; the latter was nadvertently omitted from the roster.


  • For some time, I've been working on getting a collection of book reviews ready for prime time. Although there are still a few rough spots in the design, it's time to make it public and take the consequences. To find it, go to the main menu link "Enduring Erudition" (also newly added). The Reviews section is the next level down; its link is at the bottom of the page. Comments are welcome.
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This page was last modified on 1 June 2014.