Feb 212018
 

Oh, boy! Who wants to fill up your tank of stupid today?

The patriarchal race to colonize Mars is just another example of male entitlement

NBC News is actually promoting this rubbish.

These men, particularly Musk, are not only heavily invested in who can get their rocket into space first, but in colonizing Mars. The desire to colonize — to have unquestioned, unchallenged and automatic access to something, to any type of body, and to use it at will — is a patriarchal one.

Rather, the impulse to colonize — to colonize lands, to colonize peoples, and, now that we may soon be technologically capable of doing so, colonizing space — has its origins in gendered power structures. Entitlement to power, control, domination and ownership. The presumed right to use and abuse something and then walk away to conquer and colonize something new.

You know, I’m starting to wonder if perhaps there might be something to the recent line of thinking that the recent spate of school shootings really does have something to do with there being something wrong with the male of the species. But note that this, indeed, does refer to a relatively recent development. And I’m thinking that perhaps the rise of third wave feminism, the man-hating, matronizing, screeching-about-the-patriarchy-at-every-opportunity sort of insanity that has it that colonizing and bringing to life a dead world is not only a bad thing, but that the drive to do so is specifically male and thus any male who wants to make life better – which would be just about every male – is a terrible person… this rise of insanity is filtering down to boys and messing with their heads. You tell a boy that his natural instinct to build, to improve, to make things better, is bad and wrong, what does that leave him?

So, who’s with me: anyone who opposes the conquest of space is  an enabler of school shootings. Is that a crazy position to take? Sure is. Is it more crazy than the position taken by the anti-space nuts? Not by a long shot.

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
Feb 202018
 

The Falcon Heavy is an absurdly low-cost heavy lift rocket

F9H in reusable configuration (payload seems to be about 40 tones to LEO) costs $90 million. Fully expendable (64 tons to orbit), it’s $150 million. That sounds like a lot. It’s certainly more than I can afford. But compare it to the competition. The Delta IV Heavy (29 tons to orbit) costs between $400 and $600 million… but you have to tack on the current annual $1 billion “launch capability contract” which ends in 2019. Given that the Delta IV Medium ends in 2020, all of the fixed Delta IV costs will be on the Heavy, meaning it’ll likely cost substantially more than $600 million each. And then there’s the SLS (70 to 130 tons), which since 2011 has cost about $2.6 billion per year to develop and is rather optimistically assumed to cost $500 million per launch. There’s been a recent 3-year delay, adding $7.8 billion to the development before it has even flown. Which means that that three-year delay costs as much as 52 flights of the expendable Falcon 9 heavy, or 87 flights of the reusable version.

Then there are the foreign launchers such as the Proton-M (24 tons to LEO) at $65 million, Ariane V (16 tons to LEO) at ~$200 million, and Long March 5 (24 tons to LEO) for Who Knows How Much.

So:

Reusable F9H: $2.2 million/ton

Expendable F9H: $2.3 million/ton

Delta IVH: $20.7 million/ton

SLS: $6.7 million/ton, not counting development costs

Proton-M: $2.7 million/ton

Ariane V: $12.5 million/ton

The only heavy lifter that can compete with the expendable Falcon 9 Heavy is the Proton-M, which has an unfortunate 10% failure rate, and of course is not something the DoD is going to want to launch their payloads on, and not something that westerners would want to launch manned payloads on. Delta IV Heavy just looks *awful,* and SLS looks bad even when you don’t count the incredible sums that have been spent just developing it (something like $20 billion so far, and it hasn’t launched a gnat).

And then there’s BFR. The numbers claimed for that strain credulity… $7 million dollars to launch 150 tons to orbit… 47 grand per ton in the reusable configuration. I would not be the least bit surprised if reality drives that number way up. But even if the price goes up by a factor of a hundred, it’ll still be pretty much the cheapest ride in town.

 Posted by at 6:11 pm
Feb 202018
 

From Those Were The Days… currently on eBay is a truly impressive piece:

Douglas Aircraft Co 1960’s Skeletal Wood Model of the C-5 Cargo Proposal LARGE

The Buy-It-Now price is a substantial fifteen grand. It shows the internal structure of the Douglas proposal of the CX-HLS, what became the C-5, at fairly large scale. More pics after the break.

Computer graphics are great. But they would not compare to seeing something like this set up as part of a sales display. Of course, you can’t exactly email this thing as a PDF…

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:38 pm
Feb 202018
 

The Daily Caller points out something obvious:

According To The FBI, Knives Kill Far More People Than Rifles In America – It’s Not Even Close

As could be expected, after the Parkland school shooting the Civilian Enfeeblement Movement has been freshly reinvigorated. Kids are being used to emotionally agitate for the latest round of gun control, showing once again why we don’t allow children to vote. Conveniently left out of the anti-firearm debate that’s been stoked by the left and their allies, the school-shooting psychos, is this little detail:

According to the FBI, 1,604 people were killed by “knives and cutting instruments” and 374 were killed by “rifles” in 2016.

The psycho-political theater here is obvious, and comes in two parts:

  1. Not everyone has a semi-automatic rifle but nearly everyone has a knife, even if it’s only a steak knife. Those behind the Civilian Enfeeblement Movement would thus have a much harder time banning knives than rifles so they start with the easier one, even though if their true purpose was to get rid of dangerous weapons For The Children they’d go after knives first.
  2. Knives kill one at a time, generally. But dozens killed in one go makes for a bigger, splashier headline, just as one hundred people killed in one hundred separate car crashes is less newsworthy than one hundred people killed in one plane crash.

So rather than go after the more dangerous weapons, the Civilian Enfeeblers go after the “scarier” ones. And of course, they ignore the elephant in the room… the giant, stanky, psychotic and enraged elephant: deinstitutionalization. Starting in the 1950’s and accelerating due to JFK’s influence (apparently due to guilt over his sister being lobotomized because his father was a horrible monster who bred a whole dynasty of horrible monsters), the loony bins of the United States were emptied out. A lot of this was due to the rise of drugs that did fantastic things for people with Entertaining Brains, and while that’s good when everything works right and the drugs are taken appropriately, drugs aren’t always taken appropriately. And by getting rid of the nuthouses, society has made it difficult to lock up the truly wacko except in prisons. And that requires that the crazy actually break things and hurt people before they are locked away, and by locking them into prisons they not only receive minimal proper mental health treatment, they are locked into a criminality training ground.

The Parkland shooter was apparently seen as a clear and present danger by a *lot* of people. In earlier decades he would have been institutionalized in some way; and locked in an insane asylum he would not have had access to firearms. A modern nut house would of course be a far better one than one in the 1950’s, with better practices and pharmaceuticals. He might have been “fixed” so that he could be returned to society as useful and minimally dangerous citizen, but since it is now seen as “wrong” to lock up people who manifestly nuts, he will spend the rest of his life at taxpayer expense in the prison system. A lot of kids died for that, and the rest of us may well lose some of our rights. One might wonder if that is at least part of the reason why there’s not so much interest in re-institutionalization… keep a sufficient number of dangerous whackjobs roaming at will in society and you keep people afraid and willing to surrender their rights to a more over-reaching government.

There is a rational solution: end the ridiculous War On Some Drugs and use the money wasted on that to build modern psychiatric institutions… and lock up people who are clearly nuts.

Note: I fully expect that some people might read this and be more incensed by my use of terms like “loony bins” than the fact that hundreds of thousands of clearly dangerous mentally unstable people are left to roam at will. This is indeed one of the great problems in modern society: the prioritization of politically correct speech and making sure the easily offended aren’t offended over actually fixing the damn problems.

 Posted by at 4:12 pm
Feb 202018
 

This headline is a couple years old, but, wow:

German government plans to spend 93.6 billion euros on refugees by end 2020: Spiegel

That works out to roughly 20 to 25 billion Euros per year to deal with a problem without actually trying to *end* the problem. Thus it seems that 20 billion euro per year could be stretched into the foreseeable future.

And you know what sort of thing won’t help?

Refugees could be given right to vote in Scotland

 Posted by at 12:30 pm
Feb 202018
 

“Black Panther” seems like it makes some people a little passionate.

Oddly, even though I’m not exactly a Marvel comics fanboy, I’ve caught every Marvel comics movie since “Iron Man” on opening day. Until “Black Panther.” Somehow I seem to have missed that one so far. I think perhaps the excessively matronizing Admiral Holdo in “The Last Jedi” stepped on my very last nerve and has made me annoyed enough with SJW messaging to flip my movie enthusiasm switch to “meh.”

 Posted by at 11:08 am
Feb 192018
 

The NERVA nuclear rocket, studied throughout the sixties into the early 1970’s, would have been a great way to propel spacecraft. But a nuclear rocket is not the same sort of reactor as is generally designed for use in space to generate electrical power. A NERVA can produce *gigawatts* of thermal energy, energy which is carried away with the high mass flow rate of the hydrogen propellant. Power reactors, on the other hand, are generally designed for several orders of magnitude lower thermal power… a few thermal megawatts, perhaps, to produce a few hundred kilowatts of electricity.

However, the fact remains that a nuclear rocket *is* a nuclear reactor. For most missions it would burn for a few minutes, at most perhaps few hours, out of a mission lasting perhaps years. It is thus a bit of a shame to waste all that potential. So over the decades many studies have been made for using a nuclear rocket as a power generator .

One such study was reported by Aerojet in 1970. The abstract is HERE, the direct PDF download if HERE.

In this study, the NERVA would pump out 1,500 thermal megawatts during the propulsion phase(producing 75,000 pounds of thrust), dropping to 250 to 505 thermal kilowatts during the power generation phase, enough to create 25 kilowatts of electricity. This would be a very low-power, low-temperature use of the reactor, reducing system efficiency… but still, making use of a reactor that was already there, and not noticeably using up the fission fuel in the reactor. The reactor would be run at very lower power levels and hydrogen would flow through a closed loop built into the reactor; the warmed gaseous hydrogen would flow through a turbogenerator to create electricity; the warm hydrogen would then pass through a radiator built on the outer surface of the hydrogen tank itself.

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 Posted by at 3:26 pm
Feb 182018
 

Well, this is multiple levels of disturbing:

Scoop: Skirmish in Beijing over the nuclear football

Apparently something a little less than entirely awesome may have occurred when Trump visited China back in November: a US military aide carrying the “nuclear football” was separated by Chinese security officers from the Presidential group. There was a physical confrontation between the Chinese and the US Secret Service before it all settled out.

Of course, this could turn out to be BS.

UPDATE:

U.S. Secret Service denies agent tackled Chinese official after John Kelly got into nuclear football brawl

Option 1: Take it at face value. Fake news!

Option 2: Well… what *would* they say? If the story was accurate, it would – or at least should – be an international incident and yet another embarrassment for the Secret Service, just exactly the sort of thing they’d want to keep quiet.

Six of one…

 Posted by at 10:05 pm