I’m home, just in time for a wind storm to take out the power. So. Posting using the phone. Woo.   UPDATE, 5 AM Wednesday: power is still out. According to the power company, power is out to tens of thousands. I imagine this means that power might be out for days or longer. This has definite negative consequences… UPDATE, 5:30 AM Wednesday: Yay, power’s back on. The long tradition of things changing just after I bitch about ‘em continues.

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Whenever someone says something along the lines of “Uh-oh, Britain has expanded sharia,” someone else will point out that sharia, under British law, applies only to Muslims, doesn’t actually replace British laws, doesn’t mean that Britain is being taken over, etc.

Hmmm.

‘Muslim morality squads’ accused of confiscating students’ Easter eggs in U.K.

Note: by definition, the students with Easter eggs and bunnies and such are *not* Muslim, and thus should not be subject to sharia rules. Especially in secular schools.

Also:

State schools ‘isolating’ non-Muslim pupils

Inspectors found the schools are illegally segregating pupils, discriminating against non-Muslim students and restricting the GCSE syllabus to “comply with conservative Islamic teaching”.

They reported that girls in one school were forced to sit at the back of the class, that some Christian students were left to “teach themselves” and that an extremist preacher, with known al-Qaeda sympathies and anti-Semitic views, was invited to address the children.

Articles on this latter subject indicate that there is some dispute about just how serious the issue is, up to and including claims that the whole thing is a hoax. But if it’s a hoax, it’s a *believable* hoax. It’s the perfect confluence of  weak-kneed adherents to political correctness being faced with people from an alien culture who not only hold vastly different views regarding right and wrong, but are willing to act on them.
I suspect what Britain really needs is an influx of foreigners holding, say, Odinist views. Now *THAT* could lead to some interesting times, when schools who are confronted on the one hand with Islamists who want to repress females and ban booze and the like, and on the other hand with Odinists who want to arm their womenfolk with shotguns (the modern equivalent of a spear, which you are explicitly told to not leave home without) and to splash about the mead and beer.

As may be fairly apparent to long-time blog readers, I’ve been traveling. Where was this?

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Huh. The future is here, I suppose…

Powdered Alcohol, Coming to a Liquor Store Near You

Not being one to keep up on alco-news, I was unaware that powdered alcohol even existed. But it’s a for-real substance… a dry powder that releases actual ethyl alcohol when mixed with water. From the Wiki entry on Alcohol Powder:

According to food chemist Udo Pollmer of the European Institute of Food and Nutrition Sciences in Munich, alcohol can be absorbed in cyclodextrines, a sugar derivate. In this way, encapsuled in small capsules, the fluid can be handled as a powder. The cyclodextrines can absorb an estimated 60 percent of their own weight in alcohol.

So, basically… alcohol mixed with sugar. Sorta.

The idea is you add this powder to water, and SHAZAM, you have booze. But you can also add it to food, swallow it directly, or even snort it. This would, of course, be a Bad Idea.

I wonder how it burns. Might make an interesting rocket fuel, added either to solid or hybrid propellants.

Now, if someone would hurry up and produce a hydrogen-rich dry powder that, when exposed to air, creates drinkable water… we can finally get on the road to William Hope Hidgson’s “The Night Land.”

First test flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9 Reusable.

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Giggitty!

The spooky world of the ‘numbers stations’

Short form for you young ‘uns out there: during the Cold War, there were these shortwave radio stations around the globe that featured people rattling off long strings of numbers. Anyone with a proper radio could pick up these broadcasts and jot down the numbers, but the codes that the numbers were apparently “written” in were unbreakable. They were probably “book codes,” where the numbers refer to, say, the page of a book and the number of a word on that page… for instance “fourteen seven” might mean page fourteen, seventh word on the page. Without knowing the book, you’ll almost certainly never crack the code. It’s a good way to transmit information to agents in the field… slow compared to email and the like. but more than adequate for messages like “Kill target XYZ tomorrow afternoon” or “drink more Ovaltine.”

It seems that these sort of stations are still running. Woo. The Cold War continues…

If you want to hear some good ol’ numbers stations, this site will set you up:

The Conet Project – Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations

Damned if they ain’t creepy.

It has been since the launch of Energia-Buran in 1988 that a new semi-reusable launch vehicle has lifted off. Until today:

The Falcon 9 seems to have made it down to *near* the ocean surface. At this time it’s unclear what happened then… with waves a dozen feet high, chances are poor that the stage successfully “landed.” But consider: would an equivalent NASA vehicle have even been launched on a day like today?

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A cross-section of the Universe

An image of a galaxy cluster taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope [Huh? Since when is Hubble an ESA telescope???] gives a remarkable cross-section of the Universe, showing objects at different distances and stages in cosmic history. They range from cosmic near neighbours to objects seen in the early years of the Universe. The 14-hour exposure shows objects around a billion times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye.

This new Hubble image showcases a remarkable variety of objects at different distances from us, extending back over halfway to the edge of the observable Universe. The galaxies in this image mostly lie about five billion light-years from Earth but the field also contains other objects, both significantly closer and far more distant.

Studies of this region of the sky have shown that many of the objects that appear to lie close together may actually be billions of light-years apart. This is because several groups of galaxies lie along our line of sight, creating something of an optical illusion. Hubble’s cross-section of the Universe is completed by distorted images of galaxies in the very distant background.

These objects are sometimes distorted due to a process called gravitational lensing, an extremely valuable technique in astronomy for studying very distant objects. This lensing is caused by the bending of the space-time continuum by massive galaxies lying close to our line of sight to distant objects.

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Be sure to check out the full-rez version downloadable HERE.

When the Recent Unpleasantness began in Crimea, many people tried to justify Russias actions by claiming that there was an active neo-Nazi presence in Ukraine that was threatening “ethnic Russians.” Behold:

Leaflet tells Jews to register in East Ukraine

In eastern Ukrainian, Jews leaving a synagogue were told to “register” with pro-Russian militants. They were supposed to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated.”

The “logic” that supported a Russian annexation of Crimea to “save” the “ethnic Russians” would now support the annexation of eastern Ukraine and likely the surrounding bits of Russia by Israel. I wonder if Putin would agree.

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