Mar 222017
 

The BBC is full of chaos just now, but it appears that there was a “mow ’em down with a car” attack on Westminster Bridge in London, injuring a number of people (including, apparently, a number of French schoolchildren), followed by someone attacking people with a knife on the grounds of Parliament. The two incidents are assumed to be linked, and they’re going out on a limb and saying that this just might be some sort of terrorist attack.

Now, let the unwarranted speculatin’ begin! Given the most recent form of media fearmongering, who might the perpetrator(s) be? Trump supporters? Alt Righters? Mens rights activists? Libertarians? Anti-immigrant racists? Brexit supporters?

As I type, a report just came in that a woman has died, others have “catastrophic” injuries.

 Posted by at 10:13 am
Mar 192017
 

How hard is it to make bread? Well… if you have adopted socialist policies, I guess it can be real hard.

Venezuela has a bread shortage. The government has decided bakers are the problem.

Due to the sort of brilliant economics we could expect from a President Sanders or Warren, Venezuela doesn’t have enough wheat to make the flour needed for a sufficient supply of bread. Consequently, bakeries that are selling their very limited supply of product at elevated prices – you know, basic supply and demand – are getting into legal trouble with what passes for the government.

 Posted by at 1:53 am
Mar 142017
 

Sometimes the news media gives the spotlight over to someone who really doesn’t seem to deserve it. Monday, that someone was one “Jason Pollock,” a supposed “documentarian” whose claim to fame was the release of a “documentary” about Gentle Giant Mike Brown, the guy from Ferguson, MO, who got shot when he tried to take a gun from a cop. Pollock has unveiled “new evidence” in the form of previously unaired security camera footage from the small store that Brown robbed moments before he got shot. This footage was actually shot half a day earlier and appears to show a much more sedate transaction. The problem, though… what the hell does a video from *hours* earlier have to do with the events later in the day?

Pollock made the rounds on the news channels Monday. I first noticed this overactor when I turned on CNN early in the day and caught him on Brook Baldwins’ show, where he was going absolutely bugnuts. Sadly I can’t find a complete copy of the interview on YouTube; this one starts several minutes in, after Pollock performed some his more energetic theatrics:

He appeared elsewhere on CNN:

And Fox News:

So we’ve got a guy wh either has no self control, or is a very bad actor (or both) given lots of free publicity for his propaganda. From his pint of view, it’s a win… hell, he’s even getting free press *here.* But that aside, there are two takeways that occur to me:

1: If the news media wants to avid the “fake news” label…maybe they should avoid bringing on guys like this.

2: The sort of unhinged derangement on display here seems to be greatly on the rise since the election of Trump. We can look forward to a whole lot more of this. And what’s more, it’ll not be restricted to just lunatics going buggo during interviews; expect violence. Well, expect more violence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 2:53 am
Mar 122017
 

Chris here is simply entertaining. Like many popular YouTubers, he started off as one thing (yapping about video games) and morphed into something else (mockery of current political insanity). He’s a self-proclaimed Leftie, but he’s got a decent head on his shoulders… and a damn fine sense of humor. If I were to yammer about politics on YouTube (not gonna, don’t worry), it would be like this, just probably less funny and less watchable. And certainly with less musical ability.

As one might expect, Chris tends to focus a lot on video game and YouTube culture. But even if you are not involved in those, the crazy nonsense that infects them troubles the rest of society, or soon will. And so I appreciate Chris Ray Guns energetic and foul-mouthed takedowns of nonsense.

 

 

 

 Posted by at 11:05 pm
Mar 102017
 

RAMBO’S Premiere

RAMBO (Rapid Additively Manufactured Ballistics Ordnance) is a 40mm grenade launcher built *almost* entirely from 3d-printed metal parts. Looks like this:

RAMBO’S Premiere

On the one hand… meh. A grenade launcher is a relatively low-performance device, certainly compared to the 1911 that was 3d printed a few years ago. The level of precision and the pressures involved are less than for a standard firearm.

On the other hand… it’s only been a few years since the idea of actually printing a metal object, never mind a firearm, was pure sci-fi.

Even the ammunition was 3d printed. the launcher was fired 15 times, with no signs of damage or degradation.

The barrel and receiver took about 70 hours to print and required around five hours of post-process machining.

The printing and post-processing time may well exceed the time needed to conventionally machine the same p[arts, but in time this will improve. And it *may* be less labor intensive… instead of someone marshaling a chunk of metal through the CNC milling process, the printer *may* require no more than to enter the data, hit “print,” then step out for a couple dozen beers. If the printer system can be reduced in size, increased in speed and reliability, and properly packaged, I can see the Army putting these printers into small standard shipping containers along with an appropriate generator. The containers could be transported to bases near the combat zone to print out weapons on demand. This might be a few decades off before it’s truly practical, but then it might be shipped to our boys fighting on the beaches of the Belgian Caliphate in only a few years. Hard to predict.

What’s not hard to predict: that some people will promptly lose their mind at the idea of firearms that can be manufactured without the need for a factory… or for a federal registry. And so, from this article on the subject we get:

You might also worry that this technology could find its way into the wrong hands. It was scary enough when libertarian gun nuts were printing one-shot pistols in their garages. Imagine a wannabe terrorist 3-printing a damn grenade launcher in his basement.

Oooh, scary libertarians with guns!

The advantage of 3d printing firearms is in rapidly stamping out new designs. But if your goal isn’t to try out something new, but rather to just get something that works… a terrorist has a whole lot of far cheaper options available.

 

 Posted by at 12:39 am
Mar 032017
 

Recently there have been a lot of antisemitic weirdness in the US. Vandalism (including knocking over gravestones), graffiti, and a whole lot  of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools and such. Predictably, these acts have been glommed upon by the political yammering heads… claims that these are the result of neo-Nazis/white supremicists  somehow being “emboldened” by the election of Donald Trump have been pretty common.

Finally, an arrest has been made. And hoo boy, does the accused not fit the narrative:

Ex-journalist arrested over US Jewish centre threats

The feller arrested is one Juan Thompson, a 31-year-old Missourian. The Official Preferred Narrative would have had Mr. Thompson being a Confederate flag-waving Trump-worshipping racist white redneck… but, sadly, he’s not really fitting that description all that well. It seems he fits the “racist” part of it reasonably well… but his racism is directed *at* whites.

Whoopsie.

It seems that Mr. Thompson was sending out bomb threat after bomb threat to sow actual terror… but not necessarily at the Jewish centers, but at his former girlfriend. It seems that he was attempting to frame *her* for these acts because he’s, y’know, a nutburger. It’s very likely that the best decision the ex-girlfriend ever made was getting the heck away from this guy.

He’s an entertaining headline:

Disgraced Left-Wing Reporter Charged With Making Several JCC Threats in Plot to Frame Ex-Girlfriend

The “disgraced”  comes from some actual “fake news” that Mr. Thompson produced during his time as a journalist. He seems like a real piece of work… “fabulist” seems a rather understated descriptor. He seems to have been utterly delusional:

Before Bomb Threats, Juan Thompson Unraveled — and Terrorized an RFT Reporter

Perhaps most impressive, Mr. Thompson wrote articles about Dylann Roof (the racist white guy who shot up a black church a couple years ago), in which he interviewed Roof’s cousin Scott Roof. Scott provided details like the fact that Dylan was normal until he started listening to White Power music, which warped his tiny little mind. There’s one small problem with the story, though… no such cousin as “Scott Roof” actually exists. This sort of thing led to him being a “former” journalist.

Juan Thompson is no stranger to controversy

Now, Mr. Thompson is not suspected of being responsible for all of the antisemitic acts and threats lately. It’s thought that he’s just a copycat, and that there are a number of other scumbags out there doing this nonsense. But I think he is instructive in pointing out that when it comes to scumbaggery, politically useful narratives can *easily* be dead wrong. Especially when we live in a world populated by actual crazy people.

 Posted by at 5:29 pm
Mar 012017
 

If you’ve been wondering how the party of fear-mongering and authoritarianism was going to respond to the idea of private American companies going to  space and the moon, I believe we have us an early test balloon:

Congressional candidate: Moon-colonizing companies could destroy cities by dropping rocks

One “Brianna Wu” scientifically embarrasses herself, but likely improves her standing with the Luddites, by claiming that “Rocks dropped from there have power of 100s of nuclear bombs.”

Now, on one hand this is true. If you fling a big enough rock from the surface of the moon, it could hit the Earth with kinetic energy similar to the total energy of a nuke. But there’s the thing: in order to do that, you need to *impart* damn near a nukes worth of kinetic energy in the first place. Simply chucking a rock  from the lunar surface at lunar escape velocity (about 2.4 km/sec) will not put that rock on a trajectory to the Earths surface, but rather just in a very wide  orbit , basically the same orbit the moon has. You’d need to cancel out the orbital velocity, another kilometer or so per second. From there the rock would “fall” to Earth, picking up speed and smacking down with no more than Earth escape velocity, or no more than 11.2 km/sec. So, by accelerating a rock to about 3.5 km/sec, you get it to hit the Earth at about 11 km/sec.

Sounds great for a weapons system. At 11 km/sec, the kinetic energy of one kilogram of rock (or anything) is 60.5 megajoules. One single kiloton of yield is defined as 4.184 terajoules. So to get a kiloton of bang out of a lunar rock, you’d need to launch (4.184 terajoules/60.5 megajoules) 69,157 kilos of rock. Lobbing a seventy-metric ton rock to 3.5 kilometers per second is a non-trivial act. Plus, you have to assure that the rock not only hits the target via accurate guidance, but survives passage through the atmosphere.

But Wu didn’t just say that a rock would have the power of a nuke, but “hundreds” of them. So… let’s say 100 times Fat Man, or 1.5 megatons. That would require the launch not of 70 metric tones, but 105,000 metric tons. The USS Nimitz displaces about 100,000 metric tons. So according to Ms. Wu, the threat posed by the likes of Elon Musk is that he will toss aircraft carriers off the surface of the moon.

Ms. Wu then went on to claim that any criticism of her rather unrealistic fearmongering was due to sexism, and to then decry the militarization of space. Because apparently a few tourists going around the moon will be able to grab chunks of moonrock the size of a carrier battle group and hurl it at Earth.

Silly as her fears are, I won;t be the least bit surprised if they gain traction, and this is used as the basis of an attempt to shut down private spaceflight in the US… or at least to nationalize it “for the children.”

Thanks to blog reader SE Jones for heads-up on this miserable little story.

As always, feel free to check my math.

 Posted by at 7:43 pm
Mar 012017
 

Some ideas are so dumb that not only are they not going to work, not only are they going to make the problem they claim to want to fix *worse,*they are so dumb that a good case can be made that the idea was actually planted by the opposition. Here is a *fantastic* example:

It’s Time for White People to Pay for Privilege: The Equality Tax

The short form: every white person should pay thousands of extra dollars per year, money to be just handed over to a “person of some color other than white.” Because reasons. But even better, white men pay more than white women; straight whites more than gay whites.

Obviously this is a bad idea on many levels. It’s unConstitutional, for starters. Second, taking money from a low-income working white laborer to pay his black boss is ethically indefensible. Third: how long does the author think it’ll be before a bunch of white folk realize that if there are no more “people of politically correct color,” then they won’t be fined just for the color of their skin in order to pay them? This whole proposal is little better than an invitation for race war.

Now, here’s the thing. The opinion piece here *seems* to be written by a Social Justice Warrior. But given the inevitable result not only of the implementation of this proposal, but of the mere *existence* of the proposal… how do we know that this wasn’t written by some smarter knucklehead at Stormfront? There’s even a hint that that’s what actually happened. At one pint in the piece, the writer notes:

According to TaxFoundation.org, white Americans pay 83% of the federal income tax.

And then a little later:

According to InfoPlease.com, whites account for 63.7% of the population (a population of 308.7 billion based on the 2010 census).

Hmmm. Note the discrepancy… whites are 63.7% of the population but pay 83% of the taxes? Nobody who really wanted to seriously suggest that whites need to pay more would openly note that whites *already* pay more.

In the comments section of a post a day or two ago, I noted that in the science fiction I write I posit that the 21st century becomes not a happy fuzzy period of coming together, but yet another century of bloodshed. The more interesting stuff of course if the likes of Pakistan and India nuking the bejesus out of each  other… but of no less importance will be the result of decades of political and racial divisiveness causing societies like the US to tear themselves to bits. Interestingly, we’re just about at the one century anniversary of the creation of the word “Balkanize,” which perfectly describes the end result of these sort of proposals:

Word Origin and History for Balkanize

v.

1920, first used in reference to the Baltic states, on the model of what had happened in the Balkans; said to have been coined by English editor James Louis Garvin (1868-1947), but A.J. Toynbee (1922) credited it to “German Socialists” describing the results of the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Either way, the reference is to the political situation in the Balkans c.1878-1913, when the European section of the Ottoman Empire split up into small, warring nations. Balkanized and Balkanization both also are from 1920.

Do you want more Alt Right? Because this is how you get more Alt Right.

 Posted by at 5:32 pm
Feb 242017
 

… but if so, it’s pretty good.

France’s Le Pen cancels meet with Lebanon grand mufti over headscarf

French Presidential candidate Marine Le Pen supposedly had a meeting set up with the Grand Poobah of the Sunni Lebanese, when said glorious leader supposedly demanded that she wear a headscarf, which she refused. Of course there are conflicting accounts… one side said the headscarf was a demand from the get-go, the other that it came after the meeting was set up. In either case, Le Pen’s refusal to put on a scrap of cloth that would actually be occasionally *illegal* back in France will probably hold her in good stead in the forthcoming election.

 

 Posted by at 12:03 pm