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Have you noticed Reviews becoming meaner?


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Initial post: Aug 27, 2010 11:16:12 AM PDT
Sara Howard says:
There are some reviewers who do nothing but tear down books. They are mean, they are offensive. They bully the author and the publisher to change their book for their opinions. I found a best-selling author who was so intimidated that he apologized. These jerks want the books to be "republished." What about a copyright?
I have been on Amazon since 1997. I have never seen anything like this. I contacted Amazon. They don't think this is a problem.

Sara Howard, Author of Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon

Posted on Aug 27, 2010 1:55:07 PM PDT
I think my post didn't post.

In any case, I think it may be Vine Reviewers. Am I right? (I'm a Vine Voice by the way).

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 27, 2010 2:19:12 PM PDT
Sara Howard says:
Hi! John What were you trying to say?? What are Vine Reviewers? I have found buzz-saws in Space, Apollo and others. I have been on Amazon since about 1998. Reviewers used to be nice even if they left a negative review. Now, it is hostile, mean and bullying. I have seen this increasing. The only thing they haven't done yet is curse. I am wondering if anyone else has noticed?

Posted on Aug 28, 2010 7:59:34 AM PDT
Vine is kind of like Amazon's version of a focus group. Every month they offer Vine members various products which we may receive for free in exchange for our reviews of those products. Most of the products offered are books.

But given you comments above, I think we're talking more about a social/cultural shift. Not just book reviewers, but everyone these days is getting meaner here in the United States. People have such a sense of entitlement that they see things in a horribly skewed manner. They're obsessed with their own rights, but forget that others have the same rights.

We've reached a time when freedom of speech is not hindered by the government, but by others who believe their right to express their opinion is exclusive. In a nutshell, you wrote the book, now we have the right and duty to tear it apart and not have to suffer any backlash or consequences.

I think people get a sick joy out it to be frank.

I wrote a review of a CO2 cartridge pump for bicycle tires for example, which is a product I bought and use. While my review received almost all 'helpful' votes, most of the comments were outrageous and mean. It's a friggin pump! Another review that got mean comments was for a scale that also measures body fat, which I also bought and use.

It seems whenever you talk about anything technical or historical--anything that contains facts, especially if those facts can be looked up on Wikipedia--you're calling out every armchair pseudo-intellectual for a fight.

A book about the inside story at NASA is like catnip for these people.

It seems if you want to write a book that doesn't get attacked, then it should contain no facts or opinions whatsoever--just pure, dumb fiction.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 28, 2010 11:30:18 AM PDT
Sara Howard says:
Yes, John. You said that very well. I have run into a bunch of "shredders" who do nothing but shred books, authors and anyone that can post a review. My impression is that if these people can insult and degrade everything on Amazon, they feel all-powerful. I have a few examples of these. They even have the gall to contact the publisher to tell them to change the book and republish. Then they contact the author and bully them unmercifully to change a COPYRIGHTED work. I tried to contact Amazon but they don't see anything wrong with this. I think this is outrageous and goes far beyond a "negative" review. Am I nuts?

Sara Howard, Author of Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon

Posted on Aug 31, 2010 12:50:11 PM PDT
Well now you're getting into my area of expertise--Risk Management.

Basically, there's no potential liability for Amazon there, so what do they care. They didn't publish the book, and they're not responsible for its content. They do have some responsibility for the content of anything posted on their website, but that doesn't likely extend to weeding out harsh negative criticism or the accuracy of statements written by those of us who write reviews or in forums.

However, let's say these people who contacted the publisher potential or actually caused you (or the publisher) some kind of damage or loss--psychological, income, damage to your personal or professional reputation, caused the publisher to be less hip about publishing any future books of yours because of the trouble and expense of dealing with fanatical lunatics (LUNA-tics, hahaha)--then you have something. There's no such thing as bad publicity, unless it effects your well-being, income, or your ability to do your job and make income.

Of course, this all assumes that they were not involved or depicted in any way in your book--that they're just a-holes.

I'm not a legal expert, but I would think you could get some kind of restraining order or cease and desist order against them so they at least can't attack you or your publisher with demands to change the book. As far as bad reviews go though, there's nothing you can do about that to my knowledge.

Why don't these people write their own damn books if they know so much?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2010 1:29:33 PM PDT
Sara Howard says:
What a great post!! You are so smart. You are the only one to understand what I was trying to impart.

These bozos tried their tactics on me. Ha! I set upon them with a copyright infringement threat. My attorney said so.
:) I do not understand why people do not understand that a demand to change a book is walking a dangerous line.
That is why publishers ignore these idiots.
You are right the 2 I am talking about have NEVER written a word. And to make matters worse, I am a rare woman engineer who worked on the Saturn V during Apollo. I have an Honors Degree in Math and Astronomy. I have been to 5 colleges & universties. I have studied physics. One of these bozos said he worked on Apollo BUT he has no knowledge of Math or Physics. He says that he is an expert. Ha! Ha!
Thank you so much!
Sara Howard, Author of Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Moon

Posted on Aug 31, 2010 1:45:24 PM PDT
You had me at ". . . woman engineer who worked on the Saturn V during Apollo." That's pretty much all the credentials you would ever need as far as I'm concerned (a common Harvard grad who hasn't accomplished anything notable . . . yet . . . and whose chief pet peeve is armchair intellectuals). I would buy you dinner just to hear your story, and I think you just sold a copy of your book.

Actually, I've recently been getting involved in amateur astronomy (aaa.org specifically), so I'm wondering if you ever get involved in these area Astronomy clubs. Do they every have dinners or nights of skywatching where you're the guest of honor? These things are usually bozo free.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 31, 2010 2:29:41 PM PDT
Sara Howard says:
Hi, John I love your posts! And thank you so much for your kind words. They have been a long time coming--like about 40 years. I love to speak to anyone especially the kids. Last presentation had 5th & 6th grades standing on their chairs screaming. The Principal thought she might have to call the police! Then my favorite guys & gals-The U.S. Naval Academy. What a treat. They invited me back in 2011. Unfortunately I live in a cold place. A Harvard grad--wow, I'm impressed. What was your major? Good for you in your interest in Astronomy. I love it still and especially since all of our Space Telescopes were launched and working. I was the founder and first President of the Shreveport, La. Astronomical Society in 1958 and it is still active today. I would love to be involved here (Tallahassee, Fl) but can not.
They hate me (sounds like paranoia). Sorry. I will never be any guest of honor in the panhandle of Florida.
I don't know of any who have dinners. They do have star parties but I am not welcome.
But the good news is that I have many great friends among the professional astronomers, physicists, astrophysicists and more. Ever heard of Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson? The Director of the Hayden Planetarium of the Museum of Natural History in NYC. What a wit! He is hilarious. You are just right to see some incredible marvels. Just look on line. You can see everything. Have yuo heard of APOD? You can Google Astronomy and find wonders. If you do decide my book, please check out my reviews. One more thing--after I left Apollo, I worked on the Trident Nuclear Missile Submarine.
And that idiot thinks he knows something. Ha! Ha! You can email me at sara1861@embarqmail.com

Best,
Sara

Posted on Sep 4, 2010 11:59:29 AM PDT
I started in Political Science but became interested in Sociology and Cultural Anthropology along the way, so my degree is in Social Science. Basically what a social scientist does is attempt to quantify and measure things which are not really measurable, and make sense of them. Whereas real scientists can explain things like why the sky is blue with solid facts, a social scientist can only attempt to explain why most high school graduates don't know the answer to that question or why we care if they do or don't.

I know of Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He's the one who gets all the hate male for insisting Pluto is not a planet. Well it is a planet, because--gosh darnit--if several million school children are interested enough in science to write letters about a rock hundreds of millions of miles away, and they say it's a planet, then that's good enough for me. Perception is reality after all. Other than that, he's a decent person I imagine. I see and hear him on Discovery Channel and the Science Channel a lot.

I'm an APOD junkie. I literally look at it every day. I even have an application on my phone which updates the background picture to the APOD image each day.

I once met a Master Chief from a nuclear submarine and got to know him. I would ask him all sorts of questions, but for the most part he wasn't allowed to answer them--things like how deep, how fast, et cetera. Submarines are amazing. Now if we only put the amount of resources we put into building warships into spaceships (without any weapons please) we would really have something to brag about.

Posted on Sep 4, 2010 12:58:51 PM PDT
Sara Howard says:
Wow! I really like the idea of your degree. What fun! Yours was the kind method. Mine was to kick or yell at my kids to get off their duffs. :)
I met Neil Tyson in Dec. of 2005 just after Pluto was demoted. There was an auditorium full of close to 4,000 people. The discussion was hilarious.
Neil doesn't care about all the hoopla. One of the big worldwide Astronomical organizations took a vote and that was that. One thing that people will learn about Neil is that he is one of the funniest men they will ever met. He is just delightful. APOD! Wonderful!!
As to the Trident Sub I worked on, I didn't know about anything except the control harness. We had lots of guys hanging around in suits who I later found out were the CIA. Today, I go to an office building once a month or so. I saw these guys coming out of a door across the hall. They had pistols and badges on their belts. Not being a wilting flower, I asked, "Who the hell are you?" One answered, "We're Homeland Security."
I said, "No, you're not, you're Federal Marshals." They were yelling, "NO! No." One of my best friends' brother was a federal marshall. I love to give them Hell!! They are the same law enforcement--just a name change. I just have this strange urge to razz all law enforcement. :) They run when they see me coming. My Marines love this one.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2011 8:33:15 PM PST
TO: John P. Thiel

RE: "It seems whenever you talk about anything technical or historical--anything that contains facts, especially if those facts can be looked up on Wikipedia--you're calling out every armchair pseudo-intellectual for a fight."

You are so right!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 17, 2011 9:07:55 PM PST
TO: Sara Howard

RE: "...I am a rare woman engineer who worked on the Saturn V during Apollo. I have an Honors Degree in Math and Astronomy. I have been to 5 colleges & universties. I have studied physics."

First, I thank you for your work on the Saturn V and the Trident submarine. A person of your expertise would be GREATLY appreciated at the following discussions: "Race To Space: Exploration, Commercial or Tourist Driven?", "Is NASA On Life Support?", and "How To Stop A Killer Asteroid", all of which are located in, of all things, the "Science Fiction" community. (You'd have to ask the OP why they're located there.) While most of the participants are pretty well informed and polite, there is that fringe element that comes in from time to time. Anyway, expert knowledge is always good. Please check 'em out.

Posted on Jan 18, 2011 6:48:28 AM PST
Sara Howard says:
Hi Walter. Thank you for your nice post. I just got out of the hospital. (It is the pits). I have been working with Rusty Schweigart-Apollo 9 and
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. We are trying to get the word out. They spoke to the U.N. The first date is 2029. If all goes well then nothing BUT
if gets caught in our gravity, it will come around and hit us in 2032. The name of the asteroid is Apophis. The Egyptian god of darkness and evil.
I am still loopy from hospital. Please forgive my errors

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 18, 2011 8:13:34 PM PST
TO: Sara Howard

RE: "The first date is 2029. If all goes well then nothing BUT
if gets caught in our gravity, it will come around and hit us in 2032."

According to a Wikipedia article I've just read the second possible strike date is 2036. Of course, you're the expert so is it correct to assume that you've refined the data and come of with a closer date?
Would you please look over the article and advise me as to whether or not it is all correct? Here's the link:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/99942_Apophis

P.S.
Wishing you the best in your convalescence.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2011 11:00:29 AM PST
Sara Howard says:
Walter, you are absolutely right. Remember, I am on drugs and somewhat kooky. :) The year is 2036.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2011 4:14:41 PM PST
TO: Sara Howard

OK, thanks. Get well soon!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2011 6:10:50 AM PST
Sara Howard says:
Walter--This just in from an amateur astronomer. This is a big WOW!
http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2011/01/beyond-human-comprehension-the-most-massive-black-hole-in-the-observable-universe-an-event-horizon-2.html
Cool, huh!!

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 20, 2011 5:42:54 PM PST
TO: Sara Howard

RE: supermassive black hole

Thanks for the link. It was a very interesting article, indeed. I wonder how it would look from, say, 10,000 light years away. (I don't think I'd want to get any closer!)

I have an idea for "returning to the moon" and you're just the person who could tell me whether or not it would work. Here it is: Placed inside the space shuttle is a lunar lander. The shuttle is launched into LEO as usual. Then a heavy lift launch vehicle brings up another full external tank. This provides the delta-V for a translunar injection, after which the shuttle attains a circum-lunar orbit. The lunar lander undocks from the shuttle's cargo bay and descends to the surface of the moon. After the lunar surface part of the mission is completed, the lander returns to the orbiting shuttle and re-docks inside the cargo bay. The shuttle fires up its engines and returns to Earth, where it goes to LEO again. The shuttle would leave the external tank in orbit. The re-entry procedure and landing would be the same as usual. Would this work? If not, why not?

Posted on Jan 21, 2011 11:32:35 AM PST
Sara Howard says:
Hi Walter! I have been lucky enough to be included in conversations with the NASA engineers who were designing the Aries and the head engineer for the large fuel tank on the shuttle. You pose an interesting question. The Shuttle has only been used for low Earth orbit and a complicated redesign would have to be made. In space, the most important thing is the amount of mass that needs to be moved. And that includes any fuel.
On Earth the shuttle weighs approximately 53,700 pounds. The Lunar Lander weighs 32,399 pounds. The total would be 86,100 pounds. And that is sitting on the ground. Thrust to lift this weight would require well over 87,000 pounds. We DO NOT have the engines to generate the thrust needed. The Saturn V weighed approx 7 million pounds sitting on the launch pad. Our stage had to generate 71/2 Million Pounds of thrust to get the Saturn V off the launch pad.
There are many reasons for this not to work. One is the Shuttle configuration. There is a problem with the wings. Then the external large fuel tank
is built to drop off the shuttle and be recovered in the Atlantic. In this scenario nothing is recoverable.
Then there is the total fuel needed for the shuttle to go to the moon and return. Then there is the incompatibly between both vehicles. Even though the shuttle bay might fit the lunar lander, there has to be consideration of vibration of the lander in the cargo bay.
A heavy lifter to bring a fuel tank to the moon? What heavy lifter? NASA couldn't even get the Ares to work. :)
Now here is the kicker: Would I take part in this mission?? ABSOLUTELY NOT !!!!
I have tried to keep the physics out of the discussion. Hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 21, 2011 6:48:19 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 21, 2011 6:51:18 PM PST
TO: Sara Howard

First, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions.

RE: "One [reason] is the Shuttle configuration."

What's wrong with the Shuttle configuration with regard to a lunar mission?

RE: "There is a problem with the wings."

Of course, the wings would not be used until the Shuttle re-enters Earth's atmosphere, just as is the case now. So, what's the problem?

RE: "In this scenario nothing is recoverable."

No, I envisioned the Shuttle's ET being used just as it's being used today. I envisoned that a SECOND ET would be launched into LEO to provide fuel for the moon trip and return. And this second ET would be left in LEO when the Shuttle returns from the moon.

RE: "Then there is the total fuel needed for the shuttle to go to the moon and return."

OK, would the capacity of a proposed second ET be enough for the job? After all, the delta-V needed would involve orbital changes only: (1) low Earth orbit to translunar injection, (2) insertion into circum-lunar orbit, (3) circum-lunar orbit to return to Earth trajectory (which could be a relatively small delta-V because Earth gravity would do most of the work on the return trip), and (4) insertion into low Earth orbit. The re-entry of the Shuttle would be done just as it is today.

RE: "Then there is the incompatibly between both vehicles. Even though the shuttle bay might fit the lunar lander, there has to be consideration of vibration of the lander in the cargo bay."

I am NOT proposing merely copying the old Apollo lunar module. I'm proposing that the lander be designed to be able to expressly fit inside the Shuttle's cargo bay. And regarding vibration, wouldn't it be possible to brace the lander against any launch vibration? After all, the Apollo lunar module had to contend with the vibration of the Saturn V launch.

RE: "A heavy lifter to bring a fuel tank to the moon?"

No, I'm proposing that the second ET be brought only to low Earth orbit.

RE: "What heavy lifter? NASA couldn't even get the Ares to work. :)"

Now THAT'S a problem - even though there have been several concepts proposed over the decades. But a heavy lifter would be so useful for a variety of applications that NASA - or somebody - ought to get to work on one. I'm talking about cuttin' metal - not just another papar study.

RE: "Now here is the kicker: Would I take part in this mission?? ABSOLUTELY NOT !!!!"

Oh, yeah? Why not?

RE: "I have tried to keep the physics out of the discussion."

Please feel free to use whatever physics you think is necessary. I am NOT a technophobe. I am a retired mechanical (admittedly, not aerospace) engineer. Of course, I've only worked on mundane things such as industrial machinery, cargo aircraft structural mods, and heavy-duty trucks - not the glamorous stuff like you. (smile)

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2011 10:42:23 AM PST
Sara Howard says:
You are a mechnical engineer? Wow. I worked for Boeing--my favorite company. I am a pilot and flew a Piper Commanche. It was pounded into my head: weight & balance. You know this, too. Granted it pertains to flying in a gravity well. The most important principal when we go into space is WEIGHT. The more weight, the more power needed.
A few things: 1. would you store the wings somewhere or leave them as is? More weight 2. A second ET being sent to the moon would be very costly. Believe me, NASA would NOT like that one.
It really wouldn't matter what was carried in the cargo bay, the bay was not designed to carry a payload the distance to the moon. Then any bracing adds mass and weight. People have asked me why wasn't the first stage of the Saturn V recoverable? Weight. You would have to have a parachute system. More weight.
Here is what concerns me--the metal of the shuttle's skin. This was not designed to perform what you propose especially for re-entry. The entire Saturn V was designed as a 3-stage rocket for a reason--it was the most efficient
way to get us to the moon and all the parts were designed to withstand the stress that was needed.
A heavy lifter is not a bad idea but according to NASA--all is COST. They have to answer to Congress. Boobs :)
One of my friends just retired as a senior Captain with Delta after 31 years. His son is a senior Captain with Air Tran.
They are very funny but very knowledgeable. If they didn't calculate weight & balance, the public would not be happy.
I may not have answered your questions but I fell again today and had to call paramedics.
Later
Sara

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2011 11:04:32 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 22, 2011 11:15:13 PM PST
TO: Sara Howard

Of course, weight is extremely important. I remember reading that the cabin wall of the lunar lander was so thin that a person could easily punch a hole in it with a screwdriver! I can believe it.

RE: "1. would you store the wings somewhere or leave them as is? More weight"

The idea is to have as few modifications as possible, so the wings would stay. Some people have argued that that's not good because they wings would add more weight and they would only be used at the end of the trip - during the glide phase of re-entry. My counter-argument is that an aircraft's landing gear is only used at the beginning and the end of each trip; it adds more weight but is necessary.

RE: "2. A second ET being sent to the moon would be very costly."

It might not have to be a regular Shuttle ET, but something much smaller. After all, it was the Apollo S-IVB third stage that provided the delta-V for the translunar injection, and the command/service module performed all subsequent manuevers.

I'm wondering whether or not chemical rockets in their present form might be a dead end. After all, the Saturn V and the Space Shuttle, and the Soviet/Russian rockets, are, in essence, the culmination of incremental improvements of Von Braun's old V-2. (I am NOT running down the work done by many people - including yourself - over the past 60 years or so.) The problem still remains the same: more delta-V capability for less cost. The cost per kilogram of the Space Shuttle is $10,416/kg just to get to LEO!

Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_heavy_lift_launch_systems

RE: "...I fell again today and had to call paramedics."

Oh-oh! Please be careful; just relax, take care of yourself and get well soon.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 22, 2011 11:34:00 PM PST
TO: Sara Howard

RE: "I am a pilot and flew a Piper Commanche."

Good for you! Do you have your IFR ticket yet or do you only fly VFR? Even if it's VFR only, that's still righteous! (Yes, I'm a product of the '60s. (smile)) Besides, you have a beautiful view!

I had attended ground school and was planning to go on to flight school, but I was laid off from my last job (flight school is expensive when you're not working) and then medically retired. Maybe it was all for the best, because I found out while skydiving that my depth perception isn't all that great and a doctor who was examining me so I could get my student ticket confirmed this. As you well know, when you're landing is NOT a good time to have poor depth perception!

I just saw on the Discovery Channel your friend Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson. He was narrating a program about what it would take for a mission to Mars. He covered things like food, radiation shielding, and long-term effects of zero-G. The part that I liked the most was when he showed a skin-tight (not bulky) spacesuit that was being developed by a female engineer from MIT.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2011 7:55:00 AM PST
Sara Howard says:
Walter....Here we agree. While I worked with cryogenic and chemical fuels, it was considered in the 1960s to go with a
nuclear engine/engines. Well, this met with a tremendous scream from Congress. Von Braun considered it , too.
I think the cost to run the Shuttle is a scandal and for what?? Many of us who love space exploration and wish to go nuclear are met with (again) nuclear doo-doos. It would be the cheapest and perhaps the fastest way to Mars.
I want to ask you something: "Why are you interested in returning to the moon?" To us of Apollo, it seems a dead idea. :) I am going to leave this great discussion. I really need to get things done. You have posed some very interesting questions and I thank you. Sara
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Discussion in:  Astronomy forum
Participants:  4
Total posts:  35
Initial post:  Aug 27, 2010
Latest post:  Nov 12, 2012

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