Jun 252016

Below is a brief armwrestling video. Not really the standard fare around here, but I thought it was illuminating. Because on one side there’s Jill Mills, two time “World’s Strongest Woman.” On the other side there are three more or less normal guys. Clearly none of them are powerlifters like Ms. Mills. She appears to have bigger muscles than any of them. She *looks* stronger than any of them. And out of the three matches, she loses twice. This presumes that these matches were on the up-and-up and she didn’t throw ’em.

Like it or not, there are same *distinct* differences between men and women. We are not interchangable. This is not a judgement of moral superiority or being “better,” or a suggestion that anyone should be considered unequal before the law. It’s just… the way it is. Men are, on average, substantially physically stronger than women, just like Masai are on average notably  taller than Kalahari bushmen, or women have slightly longer lifespans than men

Feel free to share with the trigglodytes in your life.


 Posted by at 8:16 am
Jun 242016

A 1966 NASA film about hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide, for employees who will work around those propellants. Just in time to help you with that hypergolic fire walking ceremony!


These Earth-storable propellants used to be quite popular (they fueled the Titan II and Titan III and IV core stages, frex), but are far less so today.

 Posted by at 10:30 pm
Jun 242016

Credit card skimmers appear to be pretty simple electronics. A bit disturbing how easy they are to produce and emplace.


While looking at some YouTube vids about skimmers (see the comments), an ad popped up that was no doubt selected via some context-analyzing algorithm. But *you* decide what to think of it…


 Posted by at 6:59 pm
Jun 242016

Londoners call for capital to break away from the rest of Britain following Brexit vote

I have approximately zero fraks to give about whether London stays a part of England or not. But what I *do* care about is the awesome possibility of that idea catching on in the US. Just imagine… New York City secedes from New York State. Chicago breaks away from Illinois (and Gary from Indiana; those two utopian ideal metropolii can joint forces while Illinois and Indiana build a wall around ’em). Politics in NYC and Chicago could remain exactly the same, but for the rest of their states? A renaissance of freedom and a breaking away from the strangleholds of the urban powerhouses that have enforced entirely inappropriate laws and regulations on the rest of their states.

And then there’re all the other nations looking to bail from the EU:

The Swexits, Czexits and Frexits that could follow Britain out of the EU

Dexit, Nexit Or Swexit Could Be Next

Brexit — then Frexit, Nexit, Swexit, Plexit …?

Swexit: Sweden

Czexit: Czech Republic

Frexit: France

Dexit: Denmark

Nexit: Norway

Plexit: Poland (this one could use some work)

History is replete with high-minded associations that just didn’t work out. T he US, for example, under the original Articles of Confederation. The League of Nations is probably the standout example of a failure like the EU might turn out to be.


 Posted by at 5:47 pm
Jun 242016

More than 30 people burned in Tony Robbins’ hot-coals walk

Fire-walking is the easiest stunt out there. Simply rake out some glowing coals, put a damp pad at the front, a damp pad at the back, take off your shoes and socks and walk across. Don’t stop, keep up a brisk pace, make sure to wipe your feet at the end to make sure you don’t have any coals between your toes. That’s it. It impresses the rubes because ignert people think you’re actually doing something more impressive than demonstrating that charcoal has a really low rate of thermal conductivity. A good scammer can trick people into thinking it’s “mind over matter” or some such rubbish.

So how do you screw it up? The article doesn’t say, but I can only assume:

  1. Stupidity
  2. Malice

So, how do you make a fire walk actually dangerous? Any of these will do it; any could arise from dumbassery, but some might be more likely attributable to intentional nastiness:

  1. Walk across an actual fire (rather than just glowing coals)
  2. Mix the coals with something like rocks/pebbles/metal bits. You never see someone walking across hot *rocks,* do you.
  3. Mix in something like sugar or plastic. That’s be like walking across *napalm.*
  4. Mix in something like broken glass. All the burningness of rocks, now with sharp jaggedness.
  5. Stop.

CSB: Back in my college days, one semester I found myself coming up short in credit hours (calculus as a pre-req, and my inability to wrap my head around calculus, played havoc from time to time). So I had to take a “filler” course to stay a full-time student and to help jack up my GPA. The course I took was some sort of sociology course on magic or witchcraft or some such. I had hoped it would turn out to be a rational course on the history of bullshit, how it has affected history, blah, blah, blah. What did I get? The “professor” was a white guy. Normally not something I have a problem with. But the white guy was a shaman in some African tribe, complete with slideshows of him Over There in his village doing the Great White Savior Among The Noble Savages Thing. Worse: rather than him just scamming the natives and going along with their superstitious rubbish, he actually bought it and believed it (could well be they were running a line of BS on *him,* and the moment he was gone they laughed their asses off at the dumbass hippy).

I generally just kept my head down and snickered to myself. But one day he brought in one of his buddies, an elderly reject from the 60’s who bought into magical thinking. To this guy, fire walking was truly a magical thing; you had to be damn near a Jedi to be able to pull it off. To him, the supernatural was the only possible explanation. And since he did it on a virtually daily basis without injury, that proved that he was Something Special. And then he dared us to do it with him, that he could teach us his Magical Ways. This was approximately the only time I spoke up in class. I had no interest in firewalking; not out of fear, but because it’s a waste of time. I challenged the firewalker to a special challenge: I would believe that maybe, just maybe, he might have something to his belief in his magical specialness if he walked halfway across the field of coals, *stopped,* stood their motionless as I walked across, and only continued after I got to the end.

Oddly, that challenge was not accepted.

UPDATE: this news item has more info, including a pretty good clue as to what the problem was…

“From my observation, there was someone in front of us and someone behind us on their cell phone, taking selfies and taking pictures,” said Jacqueline Luxemberg, who completed the fire walk. “[She asked others] to video record for her, so I think that that has a lot to do with it.”

So… MORONS. Didn’t just burn themselves by stopping, but quite possibly also caused a traffic jam.

 Posted by at 9:47 am
Jun 242016

Who would the USA exit from? I suggest from the federal government. Behold:

There Are Now More Bureaucrats With Guns Than U.S. Marines

The “Militarization of America” report found civilian agencies spent $1.48 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment between 2006 and 2014. Examples include IRS agents with AR-15s, and EPA bureaucrats wearing camouflage. … Open the Books found there are now over 200,000 non-military federal officers with arrest and firearm authority, surpassing the 182,100 personnel who are actively serving in the U.S. Marines Corps.

I’m sorry (no I’m not), but the government doesn’t get to have temper tantrums and demand that the people should be disarmed while at the same time loading up on the very same arms they say we can’t have.

Whenever there’s a gun control debate, you almost always see the one guy pop up with “Yeah, ok, so what about nukes? Should regular folks be allowed to own nukes? Huh? Should they? Gotcha!” I’ve suggested before that a simple rule of thumb on what arms the civilian populace should not be barred from having is this: I get to buy whatever the internal policing system in the US gets to buy. If the EPA gets to have assault weapons, so do I. If the IRS wants main battle tanks, I should be allowed to buy ’em too. If the Food and Drug Administration gets theater ballistic missiles, so do I. If the Small Business Administration gets weaponized smallpox, then I get the selection of plagues and poxes of my choice.

Don’t want me to have a particular class of weapon, Representative Trigglypants? Then why do *you* get them?

 Posted by at 8:35 am
Jun 232016

It’s hours from being final, but at the moment the experts are saying that the “Leave” vote is several points ahead and it is 75% probable that the UK will be leaving the EU.

Watching the ITV coverage of the British vote on leaving the EU is somewhat enlightening… many of the commentators, politicians, “journalists” and talking heads are reacting with the sort of shock you generally only see when the Democrats lose an important vote (like when W got his second term).

If the UK does leave, there’ll be some interesting times. For starters, the Scots will probably vote again on whether *they* want to leave the UK, since apparently the EU is popular in Scotland. It also seems like in the rest of Britain the biggest “Stay” contingent is urban London; mirroring the United States, it looks like the urban areas of Britain are out of step with the rest of the country.

Chances are good that in the near term Britain will be in for some hard times. The EU will undoubtedly punish Britain economically, if for no other reason than to show any other countries thinking about leaving that they’d better think twice. No doubt Putin will be thrilled by Brexit, as it’ll weaken European military ties; but in the long run I suspect Britain will be stronger. No longer hamstrung by EU bureaucrats, the Brits might be able to do the stuff they want to do, the way they want to do it.

And beyond all that: 2016 is just getting weirder and weirder politically. I shudder to imagine what’s coming in August.

 Posted by at 9:15 pm
Jun 232016

Since the AR-15 is in the news again, people – and reporters and politicians – have been referring to it as, among other things, a “high power rifle.” Yeah, about that…

That’s not how they teach you to fire that thing. Accuracy has got to suffer.  But that’s about the *only* thing that suffers.

 Posted by at 7:17 pm