Apr 262017

On one hand, you might think that I’d approve of the recent “March for Science” because if you’ve read this blog for more than a few minutes you’ll realize I’m a fan of the scientific method. Secondly, I recognize that the world seems to be increasingly full of derp and bringing the value of science to the forefront seems like a damned good idea.

But…. nope. Couldn’t have cared less about the “March for Science.” Largely because it didn’t seem to be a “march for science,” but rather a “march for some science and for certain politics.” Now, granted, the right wing, which I suppose most people would  at least nominally lump me in with, seems to be on a particularly anti-science course. The tardtacular creationists seem to be creatures almost wholly of the right, and they’re sheer wrongness is as obvious as a suicide bomb. The current administration  (which is somehow assumed to be right wing, against all evidence) seems to have a hardon for slashing science funding. But the left has their anti-nuclear idiots and the anti-GMO scumbags… and even their pro-science advocates often seem to be more religious zealots than adherents to a methodology that starts off with “well, maybe I’m wrong here; check my math.”

Even Slate sometimes gets it:

The Problem With the March for Science

… most “pro-science” demonstrators have no idea what they were demonstrating about. Being “pro-science” has become a bizarre cultural phenomenon in which liberals (and other members of the cultural elite) engage in public displays of self-reckoned intelligence as a kind of performance art, while demonstrating zero evidence to justify it.

The sad fact is, most people don’t have clue one what science *is.* Most people seem to think that “science” is “technology.” But it ain’t. Science is a method. A method that, at it’s core, is simply a rational way to separate fact from bullcrap… even if the bullcrap is what the scientist doing the work desperately wants to believe to be true.

Science isn’t proclamation from on high; science is often hard damn work, with a whole lot of number crunching and statistics. But the really, really grating thing is this: science need not be that hard to explain and understand. Oh, sure, the more advanced corners of it will always be well beyond the vast majority of people… start going on about *anything* that involves tensor math and my eyes instantly glaze over and I start pondering something simple and sexy like “gee, wouldn’t it be fun to build a small ejector ramjet in my back yard, one hardly needs *any* complex math for rocketry.” But the basics of science are – or at least should be – taught to every school child. It’s really not that hard… see an issue, come up with a hypothesis, run some tests and try to prove yourself wrong. As tests produce data that conflicts with your hypothesis, either change the hypothesis to match, or ditch it entirely. Imagine if every adult got enough of a refresher course so that this sank in. People wouldn’t be able to create new antibiotics or search for gravity waves, but they might be able to do some basic science about “what’s the most cost effective way to do my laundry” or “what’s the fastest route to work” or some such. If people would apply the scientific method to everyday issues, they could not only improve their lives, they’d also come to appreciate science… at the same time they lose the cargo cult religion aspect of science worship.

It occurs to me that “science” has something in common with “firearms” here. Science and firearms are both used by some people, not used by most people; science and firearms are things that are held to be virtually magical by some people, and treated with respect by others. And in both cases, it’s the people who use and understand them that treat them with respect; it’s the people who don’t use and understand them that convert them into fetishes. It’s Hollywood and the gun grabbers who venerate firearms as magical killing machines, capable of doing things they cannot, and attributing to them motivations that firearms do not have.

 Posted by at 5:42 pm
Apr 242017

Wherein Salon decries Bernie Sanders for not being “progressive’ enough:

Bye bye, Bernie: He’s not fit to captain the Democratic ship if he can’t stop chasing the great white male


Being pro-choice is not an optional part of being a progressive. Full stop. There is no justice for women, there is no economic justice for women, without the right to control their reproductive lives. The right to have an abortion is not a “social issue.” It is an issue of fundamental rights; it is a matter of economic rights.

Because, obviously, if a woman doesn’t have the right to abort her baby, she has no reproductive rights. Because obviously she cant go on the pill or get Norplant or an IUD or have her cis-male partnertron wear a condom or, y’know, not have sex. Impossible. Can’t happen.

 Posted by at 6:03 pm
Apr 242017

Boy, the SJW’s get in a snit over “manspreading,” when a guy just happens to sit on, say, a subway with his legs a little bit apart (note for those unaware of male anatomy: sitting like this isn’t so much a “choice” as it is “that’s how dudes are built.”). The problem with this “manspreading” apparently is that it takes up extra space, space that an SJW could use to park her therapy teacup chy-hooah-hooah or a bunch of protest signs or bags of terribly important merchandise.

And so, behold these glorious ads from the early 1970s, where Lee attempted to sell pants that few men today would be caught dead in, never mind alive. Seems odd to have so many different ads with different models and different clothes, all in the exact same pose. Still, I’d pay real money to see male models *today* dress up in these fashion disasters, find some SJWs and intentionally pose like this across from them. Heck, maybe it’d be better not to have male models, per se… a bunch of schlubby dudes might be even better.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:56 am
Apr 202017

Now this right here is funny.

We’ve all encountered this type of smug progressive, either online, in other forms of media or, if we lived sinfully in a previous life and are now being forced to pay off karma at a vastly accelerated rate, in real life. And while the real ones are nothing if not monumentally frustrating – they are either wholly deluded, or they’re lying to you – they are readily mockable.

 Posted by at 11:28 pm
Apr 202017

Leftist violence seems to be all the rage these days (get it? get it? bah. I’m dropping comedy gold here, people). The fascists in the antifa movement, the nuts in the anarchist movement, the whackos in the “social justice” cult… they’ve been using screaming, shouting, screwing with people just trying to get to work and a whole lot of poorly focused violence. On the whole this seems stupid. heck, i’ve pointed out before “this is why Trump won.”

Well, guess what. Now there’s science.

Extreme Protest Tactics Reduce Popular Support for Social Movements

Prior work shows that extreme protest tactics – actions that are highly counter-normative, disruptive, or harmful to others, including inflammatory rhetoric, blocking traffic, and damaging property – are effective for gaining publicity. However, we find across three experiments that extreme protest tactics decreased popular support for a given cause because they reduced feelings of identification with the movement.

In short: most people are just regular folk. Most protesters in the US, however, are not regular folk; they tend towards the excitable and highly irrational. So, when Regular Folk watch Excitable Idjits acting the fool, the Regular Folk unconsciously apply a simple test: Would I do that? And, well… no. And the result is that while “extreme protest tactics” gets more press, it turns people *away* from the goal of the movement, even if people might be otherwise sympathetic.

The study tested the reactions of test subjects to edited reports about animal rights protesters, Black Lives Matter protesters and anti-Trump protesters. Small changes in the reports – such as one version has the BLM protesters chanting anti-racist slogans, another has them chanting for violence against cops – led to noticeable differences in the stances of the participants. And those participants exposed to anti-Trump extremists wound up increasing their support *for* Trump.

So, go on, kids. Scream in the streets.  Block the roads. Burn stuff what ain’t yours. Act like crazed lunatics.  Your irrational hatred only strengthens the other side.

And thus we come to the Modest Proposal phase of the post: let’s use this. Can we come up with a way to infiltrate, say, Greenpeace, and influence them to use these whacko “extreme protest tactics” against something like, say, nuclear rockets? Can we get them to be *so* over the top that the end result is a Congressional mandate for SpaceX to build and fly a plasma-core nuclear rocket within five years? Can we so tweak the “Sanctuary City” and other pro-immigration-law-violation groups that the end result is that the US winds up not dissolving it’s borders, but instead colonizes and claims the Moon?

 Posted by at 9:49 pm
Apr 182017

Having heard that the latest North Korean missile failed “almost immediately,” I decided to go looking for the video of it. Haven’t found it (and may not, who knows), but I did find this video of a Russian Proton launch failure from a few years ago. It certain displays some odd behavior, and I gotta wonder just where the hell the range safety officer was on this. Not exactly Johnny-On-The-Spot. Ivan-On-The-Vodka, perhaps…

Some pretty spectacular close-up, slo-mo footage of this. BEHOLD as the TVC system over-corrects! MARVEL as the payload comes unglued! GASP IN AMAZEMENT as the external tanks tear loose!

I hear lots of folks laughing at the North Koreans and their launch failures. Folks, even for the Russians, who’ve launched a bajillion rockets into space, rockets can be hard. The Norks are trying to accomplish what the Soviets and the US did more than half a century ago, but they’re doing it without the benefit of a budget, full bellies or even a proper understanding of science and engineering. Now, imagine if the same budget and mission was given to a team of women and ethnic studies majors… do you think those geniuses would do even a *tenth* as well as the Norks?

Here’s a video of that failed Proton launch taken from the public viewing area, apparently a bunch of Europeans from Astrium who worked on the payload. Note that they take off running *after* the shock wave gets to them. Why? Well, one *really* good reason to get the hell out of Dodge is that the propellants used by the proton are impressively toxic. I would *assume* that nobody would be dumb enough to put visitors downwind of a Proton launch pad, but who knows…



 Posted by at 8:21 pm
Apr 152017

And the new dark age begins:

Purdue announces new head for School of Engineering Education

And who is this? Let’s check out her bio (from her previous stint at Smith College):

My scholarship currently focuses on applying liberative pedagogies in engineering education, leveraging best practices from women’s studies and ethnic studies to engage students in creating a democratic classroom that encourages all voices. In 2005 I received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation to support this work, which includes developing, implementing, and assessing curricular and pedagogical innovations based on liberative pedagogies and student input at Smith, and understanding how students at Smith conceptualize their identities as engineers. I seek as an engineering educator to be part of a paradigm shift that these pedagogies demand, repositioning concerns about diversity in science and engineering from superficial measures of equity as headcounts, to addressing justice and the genuine engagement of all students as core educational challenges.

I seek to revise engineering curricula to be relevant to a fuller range of student experiences and career destinations, integrating concerns related to public policy, professional ethics and social responsibility; de-centering Western civilization; and uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups.

In EGR 330 (Engineering and Global Development), we critically evaluate past and current trends in appropriate and sustainable technology. We examine how technology influences and is influenced by globalization, capitalism and colonialism, and the role technology plays in movements that counter these forces. Gender is a key thread running through the course in examining issues of water supply and quality, food production and energy.

In EGR 205 (Science, Technology and Ethics), we consider questions such as who decides how science and engineering are done, who can participate in the scientific enterprise and what problems are legitimately addressed within these disciplines and professions. We take up racist and colonialist projects in science, as well as the role of technology, culture and economic systems in the drive toward bigger, faster, cheaper and more automated production of goods. A course theme around technology and control provides for exploration of military, information, reproductive and environmental applications. Using readings from philosophy, science and technology studies, and feminist and postcolonial science studies, we explore these topics and encounter new models of science and engineering that are responsive to ethical concerns.


A few things:

  1. “Democratic classrooms that encourage all voices:” this is utterly inappropriate in engineering. Is it because democracy is wrong? No… it’s because some *people* are wrong. In engineering there are *clear* wrong answers. There’s no “you tried” award if there’s a “your bridge collapsed under normal loading.” With a “democratic classroom” that “encourages all voices,” the students trying to get an actual education will have to share time with the fricken’ idiot who thinks that getting a shaman to bless the bridge, or building not out of steel but some sacred rubber tree, or waving magic crystals over forming stress cracks are all cromulent ideas.
  2. “uncovering contributions of women and other underrepresented groups,” is, I suppose, fine if your interest in engineering is the *history* of engineering… but it’s utterly meaningless if your interest in engineering is, y’know, engineering. It’s been a bit of a while since I got my degree, but as memory serves, we spent approximatley zero time on describing the peronal travails of the various people who discovered or invented the little bits of science, technology and math that we used. In aeronautics we learned about Bernoulli’s Theorem… because it’s important and relevant. What did we learn about Bernoulli the man? Doodly squat. Because WHO CARES. Whether he was a asexual autistic Italian banker, or  lesbian Swiss cheesemaker makes absolutely no difference to the theorem itself. E=mc^2, after all, whether Einstein was German or Austrian or Swiss or Japanese, white or black, Jewish or Hindu.
  3. “Womens Studies/Ethnic studies/Colonialism:” you see any of that and you know you’re in for an idiot harangue from someone who cares far more about who did something than what that something actually was.

The reasoning behind this hire seems straightforward enough to suss out. STEM fields are overwhelmingly dominated by white and Asian males; females and males Of Some Other Color are under represented. And this has become a political cause among the shouting set in recent years, because STEM graduates *tend* to make pretty good incomes (present company sadly excluded) because STEM fields are, compared to libarts, actually useful to society. So, fine, bring in more women and People Of Some Non-White Color in the the STEM classrooms. The more the merrier! But where this is a screwup is that the process isn’t to convince women to do the hard work and take the math and engineering courses… they’re trying to water down STEM to where it’s palatable to the type of person who thinks that womens or ethnic studies courses are actually a good idea.

 Posted by at 3:20 pm
Apr 132017

So, things seem to be getting interesting over North Korea way. NBC news is reporting rumors that the US may launch a military strike on the Norks if they pop off another one of their lameass fun-sized nukes; this, of course, would be an act of war, so Seoul would likely get a mighty artillery barrage and the war would be back on.

But here’s another ponderable: let’s assume that the Norks develop a functioning deliverable nuke *and* a functional ICBM. Now, if Lil’ Kim was a rational actor, he might issue a press release stating “Huzzah! We got us some ICBMs! Respect ma authoritah!” and maybe launch a sizable Sputnik into orbit just to prove what the Nork ICBMs are capable of. There is little else that they could do with a very small nuclear missile force… at least, not rationally.

So, let’s assume that Kim *isn’t* a rational actor. Let’s assume, instead, that he’s a nut, a nut in charge of a nation that is run more like a cult. So, let’s assume North Korea has *one* ICBM and *one* nuke… and his decision is to launch it straight into downtown Los Angeles. There are three immediate possibilities:

1: The ICBM fails and drops the nuke into the drink.

2: The ICBM works, but the nuke doesn’t, and the dud smacks into California leaving a small crater and a radioactive waste site.

3: KERBLAMMO. No more Hollywood.

Now it’s time for the US to respond. Let’s assume that the US has competent, rational political and military leadership when this happens. So what would be the right responses? Seems to me:

1: The US launches a full-scale but *conventional* military campaign to wipe out the North Korean leadership and military capability. Cruise missiles, carpet bombings and eventually ground invasion.

2: *Maybe* a nuclear response…

3: If the US loses a city to a nuclear attack from another nation, IMO it would be both insane and monumentally stupid for the US to *not* respond in kind. Realistically, it displays weakness and invites further attack from other sources. So, if the Norks nuke the US, the US would have to nuke the Norks. But just how much?

I believe most Americans would feel justified in unleashing a nuclear rain of ruin on any nation that destroys an American city. If the 21st century to date has taught us anything, it’s that a lot of people get all snippy about enemies in their “holy cities,” most of which seem to be dry, dusty hellholes with nothing to recommend them. Now, the US has little in the way of “holy cities,” but I’m pretty sure that even Hollywood would gain “sacred ground” status if it gets nuked. So…. North Korea nukes Los Angeles, we walk nukes all up and down Lil’ Kims ass. Lots of people would be damned happy about that.

Of course, a *lot* of people wouldn’t be happy with that. The fallout would undoubtedly unnerve the Chinese, south Koreans and Japanese. But beyond that, there just might be some *ethical* issues with evaporating North Korea. It is, after all, a nation full not of monsters but slaves, slaves to an idiot ideology (NOTE: We trashed the Nazis and Imperial Japanese and repaved their local cultures to suit out purposes… even unto making changes to their religions. Doing the same in North Korea would probably be non-controversial. But oddly, doing the same in some *other* combat zones I can think of… jeez, even mention that, and the SJW’s get all screamy.) and a maniac military/political hierarchy. Some people might say torching them all might not be entirely moral. That said, North Korea has a sizable military; if the military could be nuked out of existence with minimal civilian damage, I think most would see that as fair. But that would also be virtually impossible.

So: North Korea goes and does something… a little odd. How to respond?


 Posted by at 11:15 pm