Feb 212017

Here are two more images to haunt your dreams and harrow, yes, your very soul. Two ads from the early 70’s that demonstrate not only tragic notions of what makes good mens fashions, but also incomprehensible notions of how to sell said fashions. I’m guessing that this was a result of the fetish for “machismo” that filled the 70’s… not so much actual masculinity as a theatrical parody of it.

Pictures after the break to protect fragile minds.

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 Posted by at 1:41 am
Feb 192017

So, John Glenn was Americas first astronaut into orbit. For a time he was Hero Number One, and apparently considered so important for PR that he was essentially blackballed from going back into space for fear that were he to die it would’ve trashed national morale. The end result was that he didn’t get to fly into space again until he was an old man.

But consider another course of events. He flies to orbit, comes back a hero… and stays a flying astronaut. In that case, chances are good he would’ve gone up on Gemini and an Apollo (not necessarily the first lunar lander, but one of ’em).

My question to ponder: let’s say on his first mission to the moon – call it “Apollo 4,” because “Apollo 1” didn’t burn up on the pad Because Reasons – something goes wrong and the crew is lost. America’s Greatest Hero dies in the course of the mission, out in deep space.

OK, we can all agree that this would be a bad thing on a human level. But from a *political* point of view… would losing the Great Hero and two Red Shirts out in space, rather than a trio of Red Shirts, have *necessarily* trashed the space program? When Challenger was lost, the crew were, as far as the public was concerned, a bunch of folks nobody knew (and one supercargo teacher that a lot of folks knew). Certainly not mid-60’s John Glenn level of celebrity. But even so, they all became national heroes instantly, and their memory helped to keep the Shuttle program going. So it seems to me that losing a national hero on the level of Glenn would *not* be an inevitable death knell to the program, but perhaps a *spur* to the program.


 Posted by at 3:06 pm
Feb 182017

Here’s a shocker:

Catoosa restaurant fires 12 workers for not showing up on ‘Day Without Immigrants’

In short, the restaurant has a strict “no show/no call” policy, which means if you don’t show up for work and you don’t call in to give them some sort of explanation and chance to bring in a replacement, then they fire you. And this is not an unreasonable policy for a place that can be thrown into chaos if someone just plain doesn’t show up. And these twelve employees apparently didn’t bother to call in. So… there it is.

Now, if you perhaps feel some sort of sympathy for these poor workers, consider this:

“They feel like they’ve been unfairly terminated,” said a friend, translating for the employees.


“(They’ve) been working there for almost two years since the restaurant opened,” said the friend.

Two years these folks have been there, and they need someone to translate simple statements into simple English. It was perhaps unwise to hire them in the first place. It’s never good to reply on people who don’t understand the language.

 Posted by at 5:09 pm
Feb 182017

‘Blind sheikh’ convicted in 1993 World Trade bombing dies in U.S. prison

Omar Abdel-Rahman has died at the excessive age of 78 due to complications from diabetes.

There are those who say that no matter how horrible the actions of a person or persons, they take no joy in those people’s deaths. To these presumed moral superiors I say:

You try to kill a bunch of folks because you got some crazy ideas from a crazy book written millenia ago by some crazy semi-literate monster who headed a death cult? Yeah… we don’t need you.


 Posted by at 11:11 am
Feb 172017

Ugh. I feel several points dumber for having watched this. I shudder to imagine how idiotic I’d feel if I paid money to see the full thing.

It is pretty sad that so much time, effort and resources are expended on patently false nonsense. More than a century after the facts become universally available that shoot down the pillars of the argument here, people still trot this rubbish out. Sigh. But then, centuries after communism was shown to be disastrous, people still trot it out. Millenia after the Earth was shown to be spherical, flat Earthers still exist. Astrology. Ghost hunters. Dowsers. It seems that being objectively, provably false just makes some ideas immortal.

Especially sad that it is readily shot down, line by line:




 Posted by at 11:41 pm
Feb 172017

First night I took astrophotos I tried  to see what I could get of the Pleiades. Sadly, they don’t come through all that well compared to telescopic photos, but  at least you can see ’em. On first glance I could see a satellite pass reasonably close to them – not as close as the Orion satellite, not really worthy of note. But on closer review, you can make out a second satellite trail… much shorter streaks, much fainter, much less uniform in brightness, sometimes not visible at all. This indicates something at a higher orbit and probably tumbling. I expect it’s less “satellite” than “piece of debris,” but who knows.  This particular trail *did* pass through the Pleiades, but I didn’t catch that, my first photo being several seconds after the passage.

The second satellite is just barely visible shooting out of the right of the Pleiades. It seemed that the best way to display this so it was visible was with an animated GIF. Since it turns out to be a 2 megabyte image file, I’ve put it past a “read more” break so it doesn’t clog up the blog. The animation is a bit clunky since the series of photos was a bit stuttered.

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 Posted by at 10:08 pm
Feb 172017

As previously hinted at, some time down the line I have a project going that required the acquisition of a new camera. It has proven good at taking photos of the night sky, but that’s incidental to the project at hand. Relevant to the task was a short trip a week ago down to the Hill Aerospace Museum, where I took a bunch of photos. By “a bunch,” it’s somewhere in the area of just short of 400 photos of Hill’s AD-1 Skyraider, and around 140 photos of other aircraft. These are all 24 megapixel (6000X4000) shots, about 11 megabytes each (yes, I’m lame enough to point out that the first digital camera I ever worked with could squeeze half a dozen shots onto a single 1.4 megabyte floppy disk). The photos were uploaded to Dropbox, a process that took a day and a half (yay, old-ass netbook).

The photography and the uploading was all part of a test. The photos are going to someone who can hopefully do something pretty interesting with them… assuming the photography is up to snuff. If this all works, the project to come later should prove to be pretty interesting.

So, to the point: the camera cost money. There are a few more lenses and hardware I’d like to procure, which costs more money – a couple grand. The Big Contract Job that came along last summer finished a month ago (as in the contract was complete to everyones satisfaction), so spending like a Trump on equipment is out. So… capitalism! Who wants about six gigabytes of airplane photos? How’s five bucks sound? Use the “Tip Jar” PayPal link below, select at least $5 (what the heck, select $100 just to show up your buddies). There *should* be an opportunity to leave a note; if so, make sure to mention “Spad Photos” or something like that. I’ll then share the Dropbox folder with the email address associated with the PayPal payment.


Photo Tips


 Posted by at 7:35 pm
Feb 172017

Yay, modern toys! I don’t recall the talking dolls from *my* childhood posing this problem…

German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears

Short form: looks like your standard plastic doll for little girls. Has some electronics in it… electronics that include a Bluetooth device that is hooked up to the internet. It can understand speech and will hold conversations with the child… apparently not unlike Siri or other modern voice recognition systems. On one hand, it is an obvious application of technology that is now several years old. On the other hand, it’s new enough that the basic idea still seems pretty creepy just on its own. But it gets better: apparently the Bluetooth system is not very secure and is readily hackable. This means a few fun possibilities:

  1. It can be turned into a listening device.
  2. Since it can talk, a hacker could use it to tell your children… things.

Imagine *that* one. A young child has a beloved talking toy that suddenly starts telling the child subtle and evil things. “Mommy doesn’t love you anymore.” “You’re too fat.” “Tell Daddy to vote for the Democrat.” “Pour gasoline on the puppy.” “Satan is your friend.” “Allahu ackbar.” “Give your little brother a special hug with the kitchen knife.”

Yeeesh. No wonder the German government is telling parents to simply destroy the thing.

 Posted by at 6:27 pm