Feb 102016
 

Early yesterday, the land-line rang. I rarely answer it; it’s sole purpose seems to be telemarketers these days. But I answered, and it was some guy with an Indian accent telling me he’s from Microsoft, that they have detected serious problems with my computer, and… “sir, why are you laughing at me?” I told him I knew that scam, he asked how, I laughed again, he hung up. Later in the day the cel phone rang; a woman with a *thick* Indian accent starts in on the same scam. I laugh, she asked why, I said I knew that scam, she hung up immediately.

 

It has been several years since I’ve gotten that scam, and now I got it twice in one day. What are the odds?  Hmm. The night before I filled out an online resume/application for a Really Good Job that I figure I have about the same chances of getting as winning the lotto. So… I suspect whatever “Beat The Statistics” luck I might have had going for me got drained into getting two scam artists on the other side of the planet to try the same schtick with me in one day. Perfect.

 Posted by at 12:32 am
Feb 092016
 

Scientists have managed to freeze a rabbit brain solid without destroying it at the cellular level. This is certainly Big News; while cryonics has been going on for a couple generations, it has been a bad joke since Day One since the act of freezing cells destroys them. However, this – at least so far – does not make cryonics feasible. What it *does* do is permit a mammalian brain to be frozen into a solid lump with the neurons intact. What can then be done, at least in theory, is for the brain to be sliced into *incredibly* thin layers, with each layer scanned to equally high fidelity. A 3D model of the brain almost down to the molecular level could then  be assembled. *IN* *THEORY,* this would allow for complete digital emulation of the brain… functioning, personality, memories, the whole bit. Of course you only get one shot at it… a slip-up in scanning or a burp in the data would mess with the simulation. It might be as simple a thing as deleting the memory of that one time when that one thing happened, you know, the thing. If this is Hollywood, the screwup will result not only in the simulated person being rendered psychotic, but probably also psychic and susceptible to possession by electronic demons, supervillains from the future and lost aliens.

Aldehyde-stabilized cryopreservation

 

 Posted by at 8:18 pm
Feb 092016
 

I… just can’t tell. All I’m really sure of is… I want one.

So, Russia, here’s your chance: use a few hundred of these, crawl ’em under the aircraft of Monino and haul the planes, intact, to the new museum. Use them to haul Putin and his cronies out into the middle of Siberia, and leave them there at the height of skeeter season. Those will put y’all in the “redeemed” category. Use these to invade Sweden or Estonia… not so much.

Read more on the “Sherpa” here:

The Russians Make The Best Truck In The Universe For $50K

Seems this thing has a whopping 44.3 horsepower and can make it to 28 miles per hour.

 

 Posted by at 12:46 pm
Feb 092016
 

I need a single scan: a 300 DPI color scan of the bottom right corner of the cover of the February 28, 1953 issue of Collier’s magazine. The whole cover would be nice, but all I really need is the corner, to allow me to fill in my own scan which is marred by the presence of a mailing label.

1953-02-28

 Posted by at 12:32 am
Feb 082016
 

Russia carried out practice nuclear strike against Sweden

A Russian training exercise in 2013 featuring TU-22M’s and SU-27’s included a mock nuclear strike on Swedish targets. Because if there’s somebody the Russians need to consider nuking, it’s the Swedes.

The next decade could prove interesting for Scandinavia. After decades of being “successful” socialist welfare states, made possible by being mono-cultural small wealthy nations with no particular need to expend blood and treasure on the military or police, they are being challenged by an apparently bonkers Russia and an invasion of colonists from *massively* different cultures.

 Posted by at 8:29 pm
Feb 082016
 

I suppose they’ll eventually announce that it was actually a poopsicle that fell off a jetliner, but the initial claim is that a space rock killed a guy in India:

One dead after ‘meteorite’ crashes to earth in college gardens

If this is verified, it’s an exceedingly rare thing. I can’t think of another incident of a human dying due to a space rock; people undoubtedly died at Tunguska, though it was so remote that no good records of such deaths were made.

 Posted by at 7:56 pm
Feb 072016
 

The US has a bad problem with institutional stupidity… ignoring history and science and whatnot. But compared to some countries, we’re the friggen’ Jedi Archives. Take, for example, Monino.

The US has – among others – the National Museum  of the US Air Force in Dayton; Russia has the Monino Central Air Force Museum, where they’ve got all their neato aircraft developed by the USSR and Russia over the decades. Well, they’ve got it at the moment, but apparently not for long. Two Russian-language articles, because there doesn’t yet seem to be anything out there in English on this (I used Chrome to auto translate):

Silence Monino

and

Aviamuzey in Monino: on the threshold of annihilation?

The auto-translate is a bit iffy, but it seems that the museum is closing and the exhibits will relocate to Kubinka, which is some distance from Monino (according to Google maps, about 135 kilometers). At first this doesn’t seem *too* bad, but apparently they want to do it in a hurry (by *July* of THIS YEAR). As a result of that, a lot of exhibits will be simply tossed, and some larger aircraft will be chopped up for easy transport, and presumably welded back together at the new place. You know, kinda like slicing up the Mona Lisa and sticking it back together with Gorilla Glue.

The aircraft at Monimo will largely never fly again, due to simply not being maintained. So the only way to transport hem would be to chopper the smaller aircraft, and take the larger ones via truck. But cargo planes, strategic bombers and jetliners tend to not fit very well on surface streets. Thus the plan to disassemble the planes. But a lot of aircraft simply weren’t designed to be unbolted to the point where they’d fit on roads; instead, a lot of major components will *need* to be cut apart.

The photo below is marked to show the aircraft that are expected to be sliced up for transport:

Oh, *hell* no.

Come on, people. This is Russia. They’re used to thinking and building big. So how about this: build yourselves some *big* balloons. Big enough to lift these aircraft. Tether the balloons to massively laden trucks, and then, on days where the weather permits, simply drive them to the new place, suspended under the balloons. This might require severing power lines, but that’d be a temporary disruption and easily planned for and easily restored. So long as the truck will fit under any overpasses, the tethers can be disconnected on one side of the overpass and reconnected on the other. Use multiple trucks and a tether with multiple connections on the ground  end, and do it a truck at a time. Might be slow… but it’d be a hell of a show.

 Posted by at 6:43 pm
Feb 062016
 

The United States is probably unique, or close to it, in having a government where no matter how religious the people in it are, they’re not allowed to impose their religious views on the masses… and yet the masses generally demand that the political leaders be (or at least pretend to be) quite religious.

One talk show personality I listen to on occasion is Michael Medved. When he’s talking about politics, I generally find him to be reasonable… but he loses his damn mind when he starts going off about religion. A day or two back I heard him discussing the idea of electing an atheist President. He opposes the idea because, in his view, without some Unchangeable Universal Truth upon which to anchor your decision making on… why, an atheist could suddenly decide tomorrow that murder is awesome! Rape is neato! He has taken this position numerous times, and I’ve been hearing it from others for decades.

I take issue with this line of reasoning on two grounds:

  1. Name me a religion that’s more than a century old that really, truly has unshaken, unbending moral positions. Not so fast, Christianity. Sit your ass back down and ponder the 1800 years when you thought slavery was cool, and suddenly changed your mind when the industrial revolution made slavery non-competitive in the marketplace. Or why you *now* think that democracy is a good idea, but back when Korah wanted a bit of it, God smote tens of thousands of people for the sin of being geographically nearby.
  2. If atheists, who are not anchored by faith in some specific set of codes brought down from On High, are so likely to wander to and fro ethically… why are there so few of them in prison? Attend:

Are Prisoners Less Likely To Be Atheists?

Where we find that in 2013, the US Federal prison system found:

RELIGION PRISON POP. GENERAL POP.
Protestant 28.7% 44.0%
Catholic 24.0 25.1
Muslim 8.4 0.6
Native American 3.1 0.1
Pagan 2.0 0.1
Jewish 1.7 1.2
Churches of Christ 1.5 0.8
Buddhist 1.0 0.5
Jehovah’s Witness 0.7 0.8
Seventh Day Adventist 0.3 0.4
Mormon 0.3 1.4
Eastern Orthodox 0.2 0.4
Apostolic 0.2 0.4
Hindu 0.1 0.3
Atheist 0.1 0.7
Pentecostal 0.1 2.4
Sikh <0.1 <0.1

From this, we can see that atheists are *under* represented in the prison population by a factor of seven to one. Pentecostals, however, are under represented by a factor of 24 to one, Mormons by about four to one, Protestants by about three to two. Note one group is *over* represented by a factor of about 14 to one. With the exception of the pentacostals, the data doesn’t really argue in favor of the notion that religion imparts law abiding. And since we’re repeatedly told that the basis of law is pronouncements from On High… if *atheists* are better at obeying them than the people who claim to believe in that On High source, doesn’t this destroy the idea that a lack of some specific Truth makes one an uncertain candidate for President?

Seems to me a better approach than trying to elect someone based on what god they express belief in would be to elect people based on their track record of upholding the Constitution or arguing in favor of changing it. Because unless you’re an atheist or a Pentecostal, the prisons are filled with people who believe in the same sky wizard you do, and who like taking a dump on both their religions by-laws *and* the laws of society.

Note: I ain’t an atheist.

 Posted by at 3:05 pm