Saturday, October 28, 2006

Jim West found a site on the web,, which allows you to discover how many other people in the United States have the same name you do. According to this site, no one has my name, which is of course silly, since I know I exist. I can see myself in the mirror over there, and I do have a birth certificate around here somewhere.

I did discover some interesting statistics from the site regarding my first name (of course the accuracy is in question, since the site screwed up on my very existence):

There are 359,962 people in the U.S. with the first name Robin.

Statistically the 160th most popular first name.

86.67 percent of people with the first name Robin are female.

I aleady knew the issue with my first name, that most people with it were female. I realized that somewhere around the time I started getting tampon samples in the mail. Not really something a thirteen year old boy wants to be getting in the mail, I assure you. Once I got married, at least I could give them to my wife instead of tossing them in the trash.

This is why my books and articles always have "R.P. Nettelhorst" as my byline. I prefer to use my initials when I am not dealing with people face to face. I don't want folks to simply assume I'm not the gender I actually am due to the non-sexist nature of my first name. I am a man. I even have a beard to prove it. Just look at my picture on the back of my books or the front of my best selling story, Moon Over Aiyalon.
I dislike Daylight Savings Time. A lot. I would really prefer that we not have to change the clocks twice a year and to lose an hour's sleep in the Spring. I simply don't see the value of mucking with everyone's sleep schedules and inducing nationwide "jet lag" twice a year. I can't see how that can be good for productivity.

According to Wikipedia's article on the subject, Benjamin Franklin introduced the concept in 1784 in a letter to the editors of the Journal of Paris. However, the article says that his letter was satirical. I hope so. I rather like Ben Franklin and would prefer to think that he never came up with such a bad idea. Of course, he also stood out in the rain waiting for his kite to be struck by lightening, so he wasn't exactly a stranger to bad ideas.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Moon Over Aiyalon had dropped off the best seller list last Monday. But then, for awhile, over this weekend (Saturday and Sunday), it popped back on. So I guess I sold another short story.

I have no idea how many copies sold it takes to arrive on the Amazon Shorts best seller list; I know that my story has remained on the genre specific list for science fiction short stories all week. It's only on the main list that it has come and gone and come again.

But until I see my first accounting from Amazon, I have no idea what their ranking system really means. My pessimistic nature is to imagine that I've sold but three stories so far.

My grip on reality is probably about as firm as that of the new hire who decides he's a failure since he's been working since nine, it's lunch time, and he hasn't gotten paid yet.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Today my short story Moon Over Aiyalon hit Amazon's best seller list for Amazon Shorts. It got as high as number 19 on the list, but it's dropping now. I have no idea what that means so far as the actual number of sales goes.

I guess, in some very minor way, I'm a best selling author now. Heh.


As of 8:30 PM Pacific Time, I had moved up to 18 on the best seller list. The list seems to be very volatile. Moon Over Aiyalon has been as low as 60 on the list, I noticed when I checked around noon today. I do wish I knew what this means so far as number of units sold.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

During the month of September, my pastor, Don Patterson, asked me to do a four part series of seminars on Sunday evening entitled Islam: Theology and History. The first two of those seminars are now available online on our church's website. Just click the seminar title above to go there. The video quality isn't so good. It was our first time trying to do something like this.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

My short story Moon Over Aiyalon is now available from as part of their Amazon Shorts program. It only costs 49 cents to download and read it. Amazon takes 60 per cent, I get 40 per cent.

What's the story about? Being a graduate student is always hard. Especially if your name is Yehudah and your advisor, a professor named Nahor, invents a time machine that he decides to test on you. Moon Over Aiyalon is a humorous story told in first person about an Israeli sideways time machine that proves remarkably effective in countering terrorists.

Monday, October 09, 2006

New Exo-Planet Discovered

NASA has reported that there is a Jupiter mass planet around Epsilon Eridani, only 10.5 light years from Earth:

NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, in collaboration with ground-based observatories, has provided definitive evidence for the existence of the nearest extrasolar planet to our solar system.

The Jupiter-sized world orbits the Sun-like star Epsilon Eridani, which is only 10.5 light-years away (approximately 63 trillion miles). The planet is so close it may be observable by Hubble and large ground-based telescopes in late 2007, when the planet makes its closest approach to Epsilon Eridani during its 6.9-year orbit.

The Hubble observations were achieved by a team led by G. Fritz Benedict and Barbara E. McArthur of the University of Texas at Austin. The observations reveal the the planet's true mass, which the team has calculated to be 1.5 times Jupiter's mass.

Hubble also found that the planet's orbit is tilted 30 degrees to our line of sight, which is the same inclination as a disk of dust and gas that also encircles Epsilon Eridani. This is a particularly exciting result because, although it has long been inferred that planets form from such disks, this is the first time that the two objects have been observed around the same star.

Additionally, the release stated:

Although Hubble and other telescopes cannot image the gas giant planet now, they may be able to snap pictures of it in 2007, when its orbit is closest to Epsilon Eridani. The planet may be bright enough in reflected starlight to be imaged by Hubble, other space-based cameras, and large ground-based telescopes.

For Star Trek fans, Epsilon Eridani is interesting because that star was at one time proposed as the the one around which orbits the homeworld of Mr. Spock: Vulcan. Now, however, it is generally thought that in the fictional universe of Star Trek, Eridani 40, 16 light years from Earth, is the actual homeworld of the Vulcans.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Freedom of Action in Space

A new U.S. national space policy has been issued. The unclassified version is available in PDF. reports:

The new policy supports not only an exploration agenda for the moon, Mars and beyond, but also responds to the post-9/11 world of terrorist actions, such as the need for intelligence-gathering internal and external to the United States.

U.S. assets must be unhindered in carrying out their space duties, the Bush space policy says, stressing that “freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power.” ....

The White House document spells out U.S. space policy goals, including the implementation of a sustained “innovative human and robotic exploration program” geared to extending human presence across the solar system.

As a civil space guideline, the policy calls upon NASA to “execute a sustained and affordable human and robotic program of space exploration and develop, acquire, and use civil space systems to advance fundamental scientific knowledge of our Earth system, solar system, and universe.”

The Bush space policy supports use of space nuclear power systems to “enable or significantly enhance space exploration or operational capabilities.” The document adds that utilization of nuclear power systems “shall be consistent with U.S. national and homeland security, and foreign policy interests, and take into account the potential risks.”

Thursday, October 05, 2006

White & Nerdy

Music video by "Weird Al" Yankovic from the album "Straight Outta Lynwood"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Brussels Journal has an interesting article that begins:

“The Jihad, the Islamic so-called Holy War, has been a fact of life in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East for more than 1300 years, but this is the first history of the Muslim wars in Europe ever to be published. Hundreds of books, however, have appeared on its Christian counterpart, the Crusades, to which the Jihad is often compared, although they lasted less than two hundred years and unlike the Jihad, which is universal, were largely but not completely confined to the Holy Land. Moreover, the Crusades have been over for more than 700 years, while a Jihad is still going on in the world. The Jihad has been the most unrecorded and disregarded major event of history. It has, in fact, been largely ignored. For instance, the Encyclopaedia Britannica gives the Crusades eighty times more space than the Jihad.”

The quote is from Paul Fregosi’s book Jihad in the West from 1998. Mr. Fregosi found that his book about the history of Islamic Holy War in Europe from the 7th to the 20th centuries was difficult to get published in the mid-1990s, when publishers had the Salman Rushdie case in fresh memory.

Read the whole thing.

Monday, October 02, 2006

My science fiction publisher has finalized the title and cover for my next book; it will be called Inheritance.

This is my publisher's description of it:

Paul Wilcox is 83 years old. When his friend invites him to visit an unusual archaeological site in Lebanon, he never suspects that it will change his life. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of an advanced human civilization wiped out over a hundred thousand years ago in a biological war when the first virus was created from scratch and unleashed on the world. All the viruses known to humanity have their origins in an ancient weapon of war gone haywire.

But that is not the only wonder uncovered; an advanced computer from that ancient time still exists and gives Paul a secret that will change his life — and the lives of everyone else in the world — more than any other secret from the past: the secret to eternal youth.

The ebook is currently available; the paperback should be out in time for the Christmas buying season. Just click on the title above to take a look.