Aug 222017

Looks like for once I made the right choice: yesterday after the eclipse I launched directly out of Mackay, Idaho, and headed south on 26/84. The traffic was heavy, but not so much so that it stopped things from moving at highway speeds and I managed to get home in about 4 hours. I didn’t take the shorter I-15 route because I figured it’d be swamped. I later heard that other folks who *did* take I-15 made decent time; it wasn’t too busy.

It looks like what happened was that everyone in eastern Idaho also assumed that I-15 yesterday would be a nightmare and decided to wait till today to head south. With the result that I-15 became the parking lot the media had promised, just a day late.

Note that the northbound lane is *empty.*

 Posted by at 7:36 pm
Aug 222017

Danish Submarine Inventor Says He Buried Swedish Journalist at Sea

Dane Peter Madsen now claims that journalist Kim Wall was killed on board his sub during a “mishap,” so, of course, he buried her at sea.


Guys. GUYS. Totally unrelated news story:

Unidentified torso ‘deliberately mutilated

Honestly, WTF is wrong with people? Dude had his own rocket company *and* submarines, and hestill apparently felt the need to chop a woman up into fish food?

 Posted by at 5:16 pm
Aug 222017

First they went after the confederates. Then the Founding Fathers. Now Columbus.

What they are trying to do is erase western civilization, to replace it with some utopian socialist system based on some fraudulent idea of “justice” that has as much reality as Atlantis. What they’ll end up doing it getting more people like Trump elected, and very likely getting a whole lot of people injured and killed as they try to bring about their little revolution.

You want to take down monuments to Confederates? I’m right there with you. Stonewall Jackson and Robert E. Lee were villains who took up arms not in the cause of freedom but to perpetuate and spread slavery. But when you go after Washington and Lincoln and Columbus? Screw you, buddy. You’re moving people like me into the “very definitely against *you*” category. How do you think it’s going to turn out when you’ve set the majority of the country at your throats? When you’ve done such a fantastic job of dividing politics into Us vs. Them and then made sure to alienate the majority into the Them category?

It’s one thing to tear down statues of Stalin and Saddam when their regimes come down. It’s quite another to tear down historic monuments to your nations heroes. And what these little pissants don’t seem to recognize is that if they normalize the destruction of historical artifacts, then *their* favorite things become fair play.

 Posted by at 11:08 am
Aug 212017

So I crawled out of bed at 3 AM and wandered on up to Mackay, Idaho and parked myself next to the Mackay Reservoir, just a few miles from the centerline of the path of totality. The hour or so it took for the moon to crawl across the sun was interesting; but the actual period of totality was really quite remarkable. Perhaps most remarkable of all was that while it was getting perceptibly dimmer as more and more of the sun was covered up, the sunlight wasn’t really qualitatively different until that last tiniest sliver of sunlight was *gone.* If I’d been just a few dozen yards outside the path of totality, the experience would have been *wholly* different.

Unsurprisingly I took a bunch of photos. They are… ehhh. I think the best was actually taken with the old camera, showing both the foreground and the eclipsed sun in the sky. The sky really does go night-time dark; the sun itself is black (there being a moon in front of it) and the corona is obvious. The end result is that it looks like a friggen’ hole in the sky.

Below are some of the better photos. You can see some sunspots… and you can see that with the telephoto lens, I just can’t dial in a precise focus. I suspect it might be a bug in the lens.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 5:45 pm
Aug 212017

As well all know, the war crime known as “soccer” is just about the dullest thing in the known universe (“it’s worse than watching paint dry, it’s like watching paint play soccer”). However, it’s hardly the only crashingly dull sport to watch. I’ve never been any sort of fan of football (“American,” not “weeny”); it doesn’t interest me at the best of times, but it seems like every time I’ve turned on a football game, they weren’t actually playing football. Turns out there’s a reason why I have that impression:

An average NFL game: more than 100 commercials and just 11 minutes of play

The 11 minutes of action was famously calculated a few years ago by the Wall Street Journal. Its analysis found that an average NFL broadcast spent more time on replays (17 minutes) than live play. The plurality of time (75 minutes) was spent watching players, coaches, and referees essentially loiter on the field.

An average play in the NFL lasts just four seconds.


 Posted by at 2:57 pm
Aug 202017

Back when I was young and filled with hope and excitement for the future, I wanted me an airplane. Granted, lots of people want airplanes. Some want luxurious corporate jets. Some want flashing helicopters. some want jet fighters. Me? I wanted something like this:


Now, this is just plain showing off:


(“Plain?” “Plane?” Get it? Bah.)

 Posted by at 3:09 pm
Aug 202017

I keep telling myself I’m going to stop posting about identity politics for a little while, to give this nonsense a rest. But the social justice warriors keep sucking me back in…

American Blackout

It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people. … Presumably, this is not explained by the implicit bias of the solar system. It is a matter of population density, and more specifically geographic variations in population density by race, for which the sun and the moon cannot be held responsible. Still, an eclipse chaser is always tempted to believe that the skies are relaying a message. 

The message: there’s nothing so unrelated to race-based politics that it can’t be used to buttress race-based politics.

“Sun Goes Supernova, Exterminates Humanity: Women, Children, Minorities Affected Most.”

 Posted by at 12:29 pm
Aug 192017

In the 1960’s, sending space probes to Mars was a crapshoot; both the US and USSR lost very expensive spacecraft. This was due to one simple fact: spaceflight is hard. But in 1965, JPL engineer (John Casani) jokingly told a reporter that the problem was the Great Galactic Ghoul, a Mars-based monster that kept eating spacecraft. A few years later when Mariner 7 seemingly disappeared, a JPL artist (G. W. Burton) painted the Ghoul chomping down on the probe.

I’ve posted the full-rez scan (from an 8X10 B&W glossy) to the 2017-08 APR Extras Dropbox folder for APR Patrons ($4 and up level).

 Posted by at 11:23 pm