I don’t know if this is an accurate report, or little more than an email chain letter…

People Kept Complaining This Restaurant Sucked, Look What They Found Out…

Short form: a New York City restaurant that has been around a good many years has been getting increasingly bad reviews, so they hired outsiders to figure it out. Security camera tapes from 2004 were found and compared to current-day recordings. Upshot: people spend numerous minutes before ordering their food futzing with their phones. Then when the food comes, they spend more minutes taking photos of their food. Then more minutes taking photos of *each* *other* with their food. By this point the food is cold, so they send it back to be reheated. Then many more minutes to eat and pay, since they’re on their phones. Thus slowing down the waiters and making the next set of customers wait.

I’m of two minds. On one hand, this sounds like bullcrap, like the plot to a bad sitcom. Who actually wastes that much time taking pictures of their *food?* On the other hand, this is New York City, one of the great centers of self-absorption and shallow meaninglessness in the modern world. “Ooh, look at me, I’m doing something banal. I’d better tell the world!”

I don’t eat out all that often. But even in those rare instances when I have, I don’t recall having ever seen someone whip out an Iphone and take snapshots of their steak.

Keepin’ up that facade of “Europe is more civilized than those wacky Americans:”

European Politicians Condemn Anti-Semitic Demonstrations

… participants at anti-Israel demonstrations across Germany have frequently used anti-Semitic slogans and also called for Jews to be gassed… In France, pro-Palestinian youths have clashed repeatedly with police, and on Sunday set fire to cars, pillaged stores and attacked two synagogues in the Paris suburbs.

I wonder if the US is going to see another influx of Europes Best and Brightest, as we did in the days before WWII?


Well, his unstoppable nightmares seem to have stopped, but he’s continued to go bugnuts on licking the base of his tail. He has licked it somewhat bald and small sores have appeared, so today I took him to the vet. For I think the first time ever, he did not approach the trip as an exciting adventure; instead, he seemed to view it with dread. When given the opportunity to exit his crate and wander the car… he stayed in the crate. And instead of roaming the vets exam room in excitement… he stayed in the crate. Instead of greeting the vet with joy and a hug… he stayed in the crate. And in the end, he got two shots of antibotics: one in the scruff of his neck, which he didn’t mind, and one at the base of his tail, which he did mind. Then he ran back into the crate. And the horror didn’t end there… when he got home, he got a shower, with the base of his tail getting special shampoo.

Expensive little journey. Too bad he didn’t enjoy it. Probably getting used to the idea tha “car travel = vet clinic,” so perhaps I should just take him with me when I go get groceries. At least on days that aren’t ridiculously hot.


The first stage of the Falcon 9 from the ORBCOMM launch a week ago did a soft landing in the ocean. Better video this time, though still kinda awful quality due to ice buildup on the lens. I believe later this yer SpaceX is going to try to land one of their boosters on a barge out at sea. If that’s successful… wow.

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I was discussing the new TV series “The Strain” with a friend when the subject of fictional pandemics naturally arose. The point was raised that all these humanity-erasing fictional events are always depicted as terrifying, sad, generally depressing. There’s never a plague that just fills people with joy.

But… what if there was?

It was quickly concluded that, as far as the survival of the species was concerned, that would be just as bad. A virus that didn’t make you a bloodthirsty monster, but instead filled you with joy and contentment, would very likely result in a species that was happy to just sit down and starve to death. Sort of a viral version of G-23 Paxilon Hydrochlorate, or one long Ecstasy party, a planet-sized opium den.

So I started pondering such an epidemic. If the progress of the disease was that you slowly got happier, without the usual physical manifestations of a pandemic such as  boils, sores, bleeding, bits falling off, violent outbursts and the like, the disease would likely spread far faster than otherwise. Because if you see someone with “negative” symptoms, you’re going to try to maintain distance. But someone a bit more chipper than usual? This might draw you in. Hell, until it became general knowledge what was going on, this sort of thing would certainly infect the scumbags faster: many a man, seeing a happy, possibly inert woman, would move in to “take liberties.” Thus spreading the disease.

So, most such pandemic stories involve some small group of survivors coming together to get along in the immediate aftermath of the initial outbreak. Fighting their way through zombies, trying to avoid catching the disease, finding a cure, etc. But with the Joy Plague, who would be most likely to be an early survivor? Two types: those who can survive the virus, and those who can avoid it. So who could survive the virus? On one hand, there’d be those whose immune systems are simply adequate to the task. That’s realistic… but boring. But how about those whose personalities are such that they can deal with the symptoms well enough, long enough, to survive until they are well? Two types spring to mind:

1) The naturally happy. One could argue that they’re already happy, so the virus doesn’t do much new for ‘em. Of course conversely they might become Super Ultra Mega Happy, and die faster.

2) The naturally unhappy. The chronically depressed. The angry. The generally stoic or emotionless. Curmudgeons. Here the virus might not have any effect, especially if the person is naturally emotionless… psychopaths, say. They get the virus and it gives them feelings they cannot feel. Their symptoms might be nothing more than a nonchalant shrug every now and then. The depressed and the angry might get mellowed out by the virus. Or they go seriously bipolar, which might not be so good.

And then there are those who *avoid* the plague. Here I suspect the survivors would be … well, me. Even before the CDC issues “oh, crap, we’re all gonna die” warnings, the antisocials, the curmudgeons, the loners, the Aspies, the introverts, the undatables… you know, assholes, will not only be somewhat apart from society, many of them will be *annoyed* at the newfound cheerfulness they might see growing around them. This will cause them to withdraw even further. And given their previous near-invisibility, they are unlikely to be “targeted” by the cheerflicted, since the plague-riddled probably won’t remember that the antisocials actually exist.

stfu-grumpy-cat sfw

One of these will survive. Who will it be???

And the standard post-apocalyptic trope of a few survivors coming together would be squashed: a world with nobody left but loner, unfriendly assholes is unlikely to come together in hippie communes. And even if some form of society did exist, what sort of society would it be? With the standard plague, the survivors would be justly paranoid about perfectly harmless symptoms from lesser diseases… a sneeze, the sniffles, a headache could cause a panic. But after the Joy Plague, the sound of laughter or a hint of a smile could cause everyone to freak out. Yeah, that’d be a fun place to live.

A Joy Plague seems like one of the more effective plagues for causing complete species extinction, thus making it Yet Another Depressing Story Idea. Yet I can’t get past the notion that an entertaining story could be woven around one guy – perhaps a cliche-riddled Grumpy Old Man – working his way through the outbreak, unaware of the nature of the plague but seriously annoyed by all the irrational happiness that all the idiots around him are increasingly displaying. Bah!

For $10 patrons on my Patreon campaign, a new message should appear there asking you to vote on what I’ll release in August (two documents and one large format diagram). For those who are $10 patrons, here’s a partial list anyway… if you see something there and you really want to make sure it becomes available, well, the obvious thing to do is sign on and vote!


Drawing: fairly detailed 3-view of Lunar Roving Vehicle (as actually flown to the moon)

Drawing: “Plans for Scale Model Construction of the Honest John Surface-to-Surface Missile” by McDonnell-Douglas, 1971 (does anyone know of more of these???)

Document: “Douglas Aircraft Company: An Overview,” 60+ page brochure showing existing and proposed jetliners, by McDonnell-Douglas, ca. 1980

Art: a vintage lithograph of the Lockheed L-2000 SST in flight, w/3 view on the back.

Document: “CT-39 International Sabreliner,” a Rockwell International booklet/brochure describing the multipurpose utility jet

Document: “Air Force Expeditionary Catapult,” a truly massive billet of paper serving as a proposal from the All American Engineering Company for the System 300 Catapult, 1955. This was to be a turbojet-powered cable launching system for jet fighters which could be easily transported and set up in the field. (NOTE: this one counts as two reports, as it’s fairly gigantic)

Document: Aeroassisted Flight Experiment Nonadvocate Review, 1989, NASA

Document: Pocket Data for Rocket Engines, 1953, Bell

Document: SAM-D Air Defense Weapon System, 1973, US Army

Document: Pilots Handbook of Operation XLR11-RM-3 & XLR11-RM-5, liquid Rocket Engines, 1950, Reaction Motors

Art: X-15 lithograph (date unknown)

Document: The Centaur Program, 1961, Convair

Document: Orbiter Vehicle Structures, Rockwell

Document: An integrated Moonmobile-Spacesuit Concept, 1961, Aerojet

Document: The Intercontinental Stratoliner 707-320, 1955, Boeing

Document: Douglas DC-8 Design Study, 1953, Douglas

Document: Transport Weight Comparison Based on Lockheed 49-10, 1943, Lockheed

Document: ETR Launch Operations Plan for Cenaur on Shuttle, 1979, General Dynamics

Diagram: MD-11 wing diagram, six-feet long: McDonnel-Douglas, 1995

Document:  A Lockheed presentation on the GL-224 Turbo-Jet VTOL Aircraft, 1958

Document:  A Project RAND report on the GG-2 all-wing bomber, 1949

Document:  A small Rockwell brochure on the “common core” concept for a fixed-wing subsonic B-1 variant, 1979 4) A presentation on the Douglas “Skybus,” 1944

Document: A NAA report on a turboprop-powered F-82E for ground attack, 1949

Document:  A Curtis report on the twin engined F-87C, 1948

Document:  A Vertol report on VTOL transport aircraft, showing several very different configurations, 1956

Document:  A Lockheed presentation to the AIAA on the history of the Fleet Ballistic Missile, 1978

Document:  A collection of Manned Spacecraft Center Space Shuttle orbiter concepts, 1972

Document:  A Convair collection of design drawings of an Assault Seaplane, 1948 (NOTE: this one counts as two reports, as it’s fairly gigantic)

Document:  A Vought report on the Regulus II missile with detailed diagrams, 1955

So, the Israelis and “Palestinains” are at it again. The Gazans are launching the better part of a hundred rocket a day into Israel; the Israelis are doing their best to blow them out of the sky with the “Iron Dome” system, and then trying to smash the launch sites. With the exception of the Iron Dome system, it’s the same old, sad, boring story, once again.

But how about if the Israelis switched it up? Here’s my proposal:

1) Pump up Iron Dome. Add lasers and CIWS as necessary. Do whatever feasible to destroy every single Gazan rocket.

2) Do *not* otherwise respond. No blowing up the houses, no artillery, no sending in troops. Just close the border, cut off all supplies and utilities to Gaza.

3) Count the incoming Gazan rockets. Keep a running tab.

4) Let this go on for, oh, two  months or so. And then total up all the Gazan rockets… and return them. Not over the span of two months, but over the span of two minutes. If the Gazans launch 50 rockets a day for 60 days, you launch 3000 rockets in two minutes.

Use rockets as similar as possible to the Gazan rockets. Same basic weight, performance and warhead. Same lack of guidance and minimally precise aiming.

Who could *honestly* object to this, unless they have first objected to the Gazan rocketing of Israel?


‘Simpsons’-'Futurama’ Crossover to Air in November

No real details apart from the title and that the main voice actors are involved. My guess would be that the Futurama crew go back in time to Springfield.

Finally, after many years a reason to watch “The Simpsons.”

And… that’s as it should be. A first look:

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This looks like a throwback to the early Ralph McQuarrie  concept for the X-Wing:

The paint job on the new X-Wing looks like the ship has been beat to hell. Which, compared to the shiny, chrome and pure-white fighters from the second trilogy, is as it should be. “Star Wars” loos best when it looks beat up.

Automan” was a short-lived, fairly horrible TV series from 1983/84 that tried to profit from the popularity of Tron. While today it looks pretty awful on every level, at the time it seemed – at least to this 13-year-old – pretty awesome. The special effects were very primitive by todays standards, but even so they drove the cost of the show to around a million dollars an episode… substantial money at the time. And while the results are, well, cheesy, this was the first time that the notion of computer graphics playing an important role in TV was really tried.

Being a child of the 80′s, I suppose I should have all kinds of nostalgia for the 80′s. And I do. But one thing I *don’t* have a whole lot of 80′s nostalgia for is the cheeseball writing, dialogue and acting you see in a lot of these shows. Ugh.

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