Every city has its problems. Every travel guide worth a damn should tell you about not only the general sort of problems a city might have (“avoid XYZ area after dark, due to muggers”) and more specific ones (“avoid ZYX area at all times, due to radioactive hippies”). So it’s not surprising that this online guidebook to Moscow, Russia, has some warnings about people to avoid. The weird thing? Who some of those people are:

Moscow Russia Insider’s Guide: Nazi Skinheads

Russian Nazis. Let that sink in.


(Yes, I’ve touched on this mind-snapping weirdness before.)

I’ve got the first of the Patreon-supported “PDF Reviews” up over at the APR Blog.

A ginormous glider designed and patented by Burt Rutan carrying a space launch rocket on  its back, towed by a jetliner and performing some interesting maneuvers to assure positive separation.


Found on ebay a while back, an artists concept (almost certainly an AP artist, using imagination more than primary documentation) showing an odd little submarine carrying four Polaris missiles while would launch through the sail. Such concepts *were* studied early on in the process, but I think this one is pure artistic license.


China seals off 30,000 people after bubonic plague death

Couple this with the ebola outbreak, and… party time!

Prisoner ‘Gouges Out Own Eyes’ in Protest over Hot Nottingham Cell


The incident took place as temperatures hit around 25C (77F) in Nottinghamshire.


You know what I do when the temperature reaches 77F? I turn the AC *off,* because the sun has gone down and things are finally cooling off. Gouging out my eyeballs seems low on my priority list.

Aren’t the British the ones who conquered and colonized *India?* A good swath of sub-Saharan Africa? The West Indies? You’d think they’d be capable of taking some modest heat. Or is it that those Brits capable of taking heat already all up and left Britainland, leaving behind a bunch of people who can’t? Artificial selection pressures in action?

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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YouTube Direkt

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!

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