Feb 232018

So the day before yesterday I posted about some unforgivably stupid rubbish some twit wrote about how space colonization is an evil product of evil male privilege, or some such gibbering nonsense. Well, the editorial I complained about finally hit Fark.com. And even in that wretched hive of leftist scum and villainy, the views expressed by the writer of the anti-space colonization piece were just too much to bear. And the result is a series of astoundingly quotable bits of snark. There’s some stuff here that requires memorization and re-iteration at the appropriate times.

The first thing I noticed was a meme someone had slapped together. A bit of research indicates that it is sort of a bit of fan fiction, a crossover of “Warhammer 40K” and the movie “Avatar.” But had this bit of exposition actually appeared on “Avatar,” it would have turned that bizarre bit of blue-tinged hippie fluff into Pure Awesome:

“Spare us your pity, alien. You gush about your connection with nature, your primal wisdom, but what has it brought you?
“Where are your marvels of engineering? Your voyages of discovery? Your great insight into the nature of the universe? Even at our basest, when we dressed as you do, dwelt as you do, hunted as you do, lived as you do, we did more than merely survive. We built wonders. We made great journeys. We forged epics. You have not.
“You speak so proudly of the plugs dangling from your skulls, little realizing that they are but strings and you puppets. What little you have accomplished you attribute to the wisdom of your goddess, who is nothing but the voices of your dead echoing for all eternity. She moors you to the past, serving as a leash that keeps you as little better than apes, sad parodies of civilization that lack that special spark to become something more.
“We have come to your world in search of resources. Whether your actions drive us back or we take what we want and move on, the outcome is the same. We will depart from your wretched planet, leaving you behind. And in a thousand years, you will not have changed from this contact with another world. You will remain in your trees, hunting your prey, communing with your goddess, until your sun burns out and your world dies.
And above your tomb, the stars will belong to us…

As is The Way Of The Internet, this led me HERE, which deserves a good reading. Especially the bit about humanity in Star Trek. Snerk.


“Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love – they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”  — Orson Welles, as Harry Lime in The Third Man.

There’s nothing worse than an empty mind with a deadline

“They build too low, who build beneath the stars.” – Edward Young 1681-1765

Pretty much everything humanity has achieved has its origins in mens’ desire to get laid.

What the sweet jibbering fark did I just read?

There’s one undeniably good thing about reading a piece of raging idiocy pretending to be important thinking: it can spur the creation, or at least quotation, of something far better.

All the things these anti-testoterone whackos yammer on about have led humanity from the muck and mire to the edges of the ocean of space itself. We have gone from a few million especially bright apes to now over eight *billion* people, a sizable fraction of whom live lives of comfort and health undreamed of in ages past. We are no longer threatened by the wolf or the lion. A scratch is now so rarely a cause of death that when it happens it makes the nightly news. We are not even troubled by the darkness that comes when the sun goes down; we casually flip a switch and go on reading or playing or working or fighting.  This is due to not only the desire to conquer and colonize, but to tinker, to puzzle things out, and to turn a profit. Those urges that feminist killjoys and their intellectually lethargic kiss-asses disparage are the ones that have made life *good* for billions of people. Those same urges will, if allowed to express themsevlves, lead mankind outwards, and will turn dead worlds like Mars into living worlds like Earth. We will turn cold sand and rust and a thin envelope of unbreathable carbon dioxide into oceans and forests and meadows and lakes and streams and great herds of beasts. We will turn the sterile asteroids into a billion habitats, each the size of a small nation, each boasting a thriving ecosystem and biosphere. We will turn the Oort cloud into cheesy theme parks and rest stops and gas stations, footsteps on the paths to the farther stars, where we will turn yet more dead worlds into living ones. We will conquer and colonize the universe and bring it to life. In much less than geological timescales, astronomers will  be able to look at distant stars and see the reflected spectra indicating water and free oxygen and chlorophyll, the results of terraformed planets and engineered structures on a scale we can not currently easily comprehend.

The drive to colonize, to reach out towards something distant and say “mine,” will turn the universe green with life.

And what will the likes of Marcie Bianco do in the meantime? Complain. What will they build? Nothing. How will they be remembered? They won’t. There will be no place for them on the great monuments to the early colonists in the Alpha Centauri system. No great statues of them will be built in the Magellanic Clouds. Great nebulae will not be sculpted in their likeness. Their existence will be recorded, if at all, merely as footnotes in the great archives of all knowledge. Notes that will go millions of years without being referenced by historians, no more remembered or celebrated than the names of those early humans who decided that standing up to the sabertooth was too much effort.

 Posted by at 5:55 pm
Feb 222018

Quite  number of years ago, AIG ran a commercial that starts off showing rockets failing and ending up with astronauts on the moon. A recitation of bits from T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” covers it. The poem itself is a dismal tale of a cowardly paper-pusher, but everything edited together like this comes together really well to illustrate the message of the commercial, “The greatest risk is not taking one.”

It was good in its time, and I felt it personally very affecting. But imagine it redone *now.* Now, you wouldn’t need to splice together old Apollo and ICBM footage to go from fail to spectacular success… everything you need would come from SpaceX.



 Posted by at 6:27 pm
Feb 202018

The Daily Caller points out something obvious:

According To The FBI, Knives Kill Far More People Than Rifles In America – It’s Not Even Close

As could be expected, after the Parkland school shooting the Civilian Enfeeblement Movement has been freshly reinvigorated. Kids are being used to emotionally agitate for the latest round of gun control, showing once again why we don’t allow children to vote. Conveniently left out of the anti-firearm debate that’s been stoked by the left and their allies, the school-shooting psychos, is this little detail:

According to the FBI, 1,604 people were killed by “knives and cutting instruments” and 374 were killed by “rifles” in 2016.

The psycho-political theater here is obvious, and comes in two parts:

  1. Not everyone has a semi-automatic rifle but nearly everyone has a knife, even if it’s only a steak knife. Those behind the Civilian Enfeeblement Movement would thus have a much harder time banning knives than rifles so they start with the easier one, even though if their true purpose was to get rid of dangerous weapons For The Children they’d go after knives first.
  2. Knives kill one at a time, generally. But dozens killed in one go makes for a bigger, splashier headline, just as one hundred people killed in one hundred separate car crashes is less newsworthy than one hundred people killed in one plane crash.

So rather than go after the more dangerous weapons, the Civilian Enfeeblers go after the “scarier” ones. And of course, they ignore the elephant in the room… the giant, stanky, psychotic and enraged elephant: deinstitutionalization. Starting in the 1950’s and accelerating due to JFK’s influence (apparently due to guilt over his sister being lobotomized because his father was a horrible monster who bred a whole dynasty of horrible monsters), the loony bins of the United States were emptied out. A lot of this was due to the rise of drugs that did fantastic things for people with Entertaining Brains, and while that’s good when everything works right and the drugs are taken appropriately, drugs aren’t always taken appropriately. And by getting rid of the nuthouses, society has made it difficult to lock up the truly wacko except in prisons. And that requires that the crazy actually break things and hurt people before they are locked away, and by locking them into prisons they not only receive minimal proper mental health treatment, they are locked into a criminality training ground.

The Parkland shooter was apparently seen as a clear and present danger by a *lot* of people. In earlier decades he would have been institutionalized in some way; and locked in an insane asylum he would not have had access to firearms. A modern nut house would of course be a far better one than one in the 1950’s, with better practices and pharmaceuticals. He might have been “fixed” so that he could be returned to society as useful and minimally dangerous citizen, but since it is now seen as “wrong” to lock up people who manifestly nuts, he will spend the rest of his life at taxpayer expense in the prison system. A lot of kids died for that, and the rest of us may well lose some of our rights. One might wonder if that is at least part of the reason why there’s not so much interest in re-institutionalization… keep a sufficient number of dangerous whackjobs roaming at will in society and you keep people afraid and willing to surrender their rights to a more over-reaching government.

There is a rational solution: end the ridiculous War On Some Drugs and use the money wasted on that to build modern psychiatric institutions… and lock up people who are clearly nuts.

Note: I fully expect that some people might read this and be more incensed by my use of terms like “loony bins” than the fact that hundreds of thousands of clearly dangerous mentally unstable people are left to roam at will. This is indeed one of the great problems in modern society: the prioritization of politically correct speech and making sure the easily offended aren’t offended over actually fixing the damn problems.

 Posted by at 4:12 pm
Feb 162018

A sci-fi ponderable.

Let’s say easy personal time travel exists. Let’s further say that you can go back in time and change history however you like, then come back to a changed present (but still be the original “you”). At what point do you, or the Time Cops, or whoever, decide that tinkering is not to be allowed?

As an example: let’s say you could go back in time a few days and stop the Parkland school shooting. Would you do it without ethical qualms? Pretty sure most people would say some form of “yes,” because from the point of view of *right* *now* as I type this, the only changes in the timeline would be positive ones. But let’s say you were given the option of going back in time and popping a cap in Hitler or Lenin or Stalin or Mao or Castro or Proxmire or LBJ before they rose to power and caused a ruckus. Would you do it, even if you could see the rough outline of the new timeline and everything was awesome? This seems like it would be trickier. Because if you did, you would be committing a kind of genocide on a scale never imagined in human history.

Let’s say you whack Hitler just as he’s taking over the Nazi party, say, 1925. Let’s further suggest that the whackage is of such entertainingness that the rest of the Nazis get whacked with him. Huzzah! No Nazis, no Holocaust, no WWII. Assume that, somehow, this leads to an era of peace and prosperity never before imagined; the Soviets give up that Socialism nonsense and become free market capitalists, the Japanese skip past the Rape of Nanking and go straight to tentacle porn; FDR not only never gets elected and thus doesn’t turn a depression into the decades-long Great Depression, but instead goes down in flames such that he drags the Democrat party down with him and from then on US politics is split between the Republicans and the Libertarians. Huzzah! Everything is awesome! Star Trek goes for eleven seasons, Reagan wins three terms, Orions to Pluto by 1990. Huzzah indeed!

But here’s the thing. Unless you buy into nonsense like fate, destiny, predestination, the universe having some sort of plan… virtually *nobody* who was born much after 1926 or so in the “prime” timeline is actually born. By changing politics in Weimar Germany, you’ve set in motion a cascade of changes that lead to a “prime” mother and father not meeting, or meeting but not doing the deed on the specified date, or doing it thirty seconds later, or sperm #1,452,355,343 rather than #1,452,355,342 being the one that succeeds at the egg. And when that kid isn’t born in 1927, that kid can’t have the Prime offspring in 1952, who can’t make a kid in 1983, who cant reproduce in 2018. You will have eliminated from the timeline something along the lines of ten billion people. Granted, you will have created ten billion *other* people, but for the most part judicial systems are underwhelmed with the argument, “yes, you honor, I murdered my infant…but hey, I got right on to making a replacement, so… we’re cool, right?”

So: how does whoever has the power over time travel decide what changes can be made? “No changes allowed” is the easy answer.

 Posted by at 4:47 pm
Feb 142018

OK, we’ve seen this story a bunch of times.

  1. Mr. Moneybags donates a bucket of money to Candidate A of Political Party 1.
  2. Mr. Moneybags is found out to be a scumbag… a harasser, a rapist, a  murderer, athief, whatever
  3. Candidate A and Political Party 1 disavow Mr. Moneybags. They express shock and sorrow and all that.
  4. Candidate B and Political Party 2 try to make political hay out of the relationship between Mr. Moneybags and Candidate A.
  5. Included in that is a call for Candidate A to “give the money back” that Mr. Moneybags donated.

It’s at step 5 when I get lost. I have just enough empathy in me to kinda be able to pretend to understand what it’s like to be a politician who has found out that a financial supporter is a bigger dirtbag than most high-dollar-value political supporters. But presuming that the politician was honestly unaware of and uninvolved with the specific scumbaggery… *why* should the politician “give the money back?” To stretch the metaphor, let’s say someone came along and decided that my work on this blog, or my work with aerospace history or fiction writing or *whatever* was of sufficient value that they decided to gift me a million dollars. Go on, let’s say that. Let’s say that until it happens (I take PayPal, people).

And then let’s say that that benefactor is found out to have been a member of the Communist party, or is a Columbian drug lord, or a human trafficker, or a Chinese chef specializing in puppies and kittens. In that case it would certainly be valid for me to talk smack about said benefactor (though perhaps unwise in the “Columbian drug lord” instance), but how many people would make the demand that I “give the money back” or donate it to some charity or other?

As with most things political, I suspect the demand to “give the money back” is less about a demand to do the right thing, and more a cynical way to stick-to-to-’em. But it seems to happen all the time. It’s as old and moth-eaten as the claim of a suddenly retiring politician that the reason for the evacuation from public life is to “spend more time with family,” rather than hiding from that shiny new allegation hitting the press tomorrow.

 Posted by at 9:11 am
Feb 122018

We’ve trashed the oceans; now we are turning space into a junkyard for billionaires

Experts say rocket emissions affect our climate and cause ozone loss, yet too few people seem to care

Unless you think that that opening line doesn’t really hammer home the point, there’s this:

You might be tempted to dismiss this as an expensive publicity stunt by a billionaire playboy with too much time on his hands. But in reality it’s an important step towards a time when space travel for your average indolent millionaire will become commonplace. It will probably become another way of managing your finances when Mars inevitably becomes the ultimate off-shore tax haven.

Quite what our fetish for space exploration and spending billions on the technology required to feed this does to the environment is a serious matter. There’s a dissonance emerging here. On Earth, we’re organising summits and setting up carbon footprint-reduction targets all over the shop. Yet, up in yonder outer space we’ve established a giant garbage dump replete with huge hulks of rusting metal and, as of last week, a $200k American sports car.

Indeed, the whole issue of rocket emissions needs to be considered if we’re serious about the environment.

This is symptomatic of the modern luddite, repeating the latest version of the tired old “why spend money on space when we still have problems here on Earth” refrain. These monstrous reprobates were wrong fifty years ago when they managed to kill off Apollo and the first good chance for the conquest of space; they’re even more wrong now as they try to kill off what may well be not only the best, but perhaps the *last* opportunity for western civilization to save itself. Kill it off now with environmental laws and regulations and treaties, as the nattering chicken livered assassin of joy who wrote that opinion piece for the execrable “The Guardian” would have, and we’ll never get the chance again in any of our lifetimes. The Chinese might conquer the universe, planting their red flag of communist genocide on every chunk of rock within a hundred AU, but we’ll be stuck here in ever-increasing malaise, besieged by hopelessness and diminishing horizons, dark age Surt worshippers and astrologers and flat Earthers. Gormless chickenshittery in the face of THE ENTIRE DAMNED UNIVERSE should not be tolerated, much less celebrated, even less paid for. The yammering pinhead even finished off his ill-informed and ill-intentioned piece by suggesting that space aliens are mad at us for ” disfiguring their neighbourhood with obsolete metal junk.”

Sadly, the English language is simply far too limiting to get across the level of disdain and dislike I have for people who get paid to try to convince the western world to cut itself off at the knees.

 Posted by at 12:19 am
Feb 112018

Cape Town rejoices as rain falls on drought-striken city

When it finally came, restaurant diners rushed outside mid-meal to see the deluge for themselves.

A Deluge? Sounds like good news, yes?

South Africa’s second-largest city and its surrounding areas received between 2 millimeters and 10 millimeters of rainfall Friday night, according to the Cape Town Weather Office.

Ummm… averaging less than 1 centimeter is a “deluge?”

The city can expect 2 millimeters to 8 millimeters of rainfall Monday evening and into Tuesday morning — less than an inch

Holy crap! Eight millimeters is less than an inch! My whole world view has been turned upside-down! Thanks, CNN!

Later after claiming this slight drizzle to be a “deluge” the article finally mentions that it will have approximately zero impact on the actual dire water situation.

Come Day Zero, just a few short months from now, pretty much all the taps in Cape Town will be shut off. This is of course a nightmare for the city. But once again, though, Cape Town sits right on the ocean. And while the big desalination plant is still years from completion, I gotta wonder: if even a quarter of the population built themselves some solar stills, could that make a difference? From the wiki on solar stills:

In 1952 the United States military developed a portable solar still for pilots stranded on the ocean, which comprises an inflatable 24-inch plastic ball that floats on the ocean, with a flexible tube coming out the side. A separate plastic bag hangs from attachment points on the outer bag. Seawater is poured into the inner bag from an opening in the ball’s neck. Fresh water is taken out by the pilot using the side tube that leads to bottom of the inflatable ball. It was stated in magazine articles that on a good day 2.5 US quarts (2.4 l) of fresh water could be produced. On an overcast day, 1.5 US quarts (1.4 l) was produced.

2.4 liters per day is not a spectacular amount, but that’s 2.4 liters per day from a single portable solar still 24 inches in diameter. A rooftop 20 feet by 30 feet could support at least 150 of these stills, producing a theoretical 360 liters per day. In order for this to work, there would of course have to be ready access to sea water; easy enough if you’re on the beach, much less so if you’re up hill. But at this pint it seems like it would be easy enough to build some Big Ass Pumps to shove a couple hundred tons of seawater uphill every day to collection points where solar stills could turn it into a combination of fresh water and highly saline brine.

A quick check online finds the “Aquamate” inflatable solar still that sounds a whole lot like the military one from the 50’s. At $270+ each, it’s insanely expensive for this purpose, but since it seems like a  simple enough device, you’d think that an order of One Point Two Bajillion of them would serve to drop the per-unit price down to… well, not much. It’s just some plastic after all, seemingly not much more complex than a beach ball or a poncho.

I’m not picking on Cape Town here. It’s just that that town is currently in the news about a dire humanitarian crisis that seems like it can be solved, or at least greatly lessened, with the application of some STEM. And where Cape Town is now, other places will be sooner or later. If Cape Town can get it together and use science and engineering and sheer force of will to smack mother nature around and show her who’s boss, then that’ll be a sign that humans can conquer nature all over.

 Posted by at 3:29 pm
Feb 102018

I was watching some youtube videos a few days ago and it suddenly dawned on me that *all* of them pretty much started off with “changes in youtube monetization is screwing over the smaller channels, so support my patreon.”

My first thought was something along the lines of “jeez, all that begging seems a little undignified.” My second thought was “Hey! I have no remaining dignity! Maybe I should try that!”

So… what the frell. If’n ya like the Unwanted Blog, or find some value in the stuff  post or the yammerings I blather, of if you just want to support some cats or make sure than not all of your money gets stolen by Antifa or other assorted SJWs, why not throw some money into a tip jar, or even subscribe for a monthly amount? Always recommended is to sign up to the APR Patreon; there you get definite monthly aerospace history goodies.




Feline Tip Jar

Speedbump is disappointed with non-susbscribers…

 Posted by at 4:57 pm
Feb 082018

A while back President Giant Middle Finger went to France and saw their Bastille Day parade and thought “I want that.” So he told the US military to start planning for just that… a parade in the nations capitol to celebrate the US military. Me, I’m not a  big one for parades, so my response was essentially “Meh, whatever.”But there are other people who have had an entirely different response. A response that could, maybe, mean that the parade is actually pure political genius. From the twitter/facebook accounts of a “social justice activist:”

I’ll be laying in front of the tanks if Trump brings out a Military parade. Will you?Un-Screwing Of America USA Nightly

Posted by Arn Menconi on Tuesday, February 6, 2018

If the result of the parade is that a bunch of far leftists use the opportunity to show themselves to be as anti-military, anti-American, anti-*fun* as we all know them to be, and to do soon live TV in front of the whole world… I suspect Trump will be tickled pink.

Trump’s Parade Is Political Genius

At the same time, the president is overtly tying his administration to the most popular institution in our nation—perhaps the only popular institution left—the United States military. More to the point, he’s daring Democrats, and their allies in the media, to stand apart and oppose it. By doing so, Democratic leaders appear either as killjoys complaining about excessive costs (as if frugality were a Democratic Party hallmark) or as diminishing the achievements of the military or the need to publicly extol them. All in all, it’s a pretty clever trap.

I would love to see a military parade that actually does something new… such as showcasing brand new and surprising military hardware. While the M-1 Abrams is awesome, how even-more-awesome would it be if there was a review of the all-new, never before seen *replacement* for the M-1, which is damn near as old as I am? If there were a fleet of heavy trucks each packing fully functional laser weapons capable of bringing down everything from mortar shells to combat aircraft to MIRVs? Even bigger trucks towing the trailer/launchers for dual purpose ICBMs/quick response tacsat launchers? Autonomous combat tanks? Power armor? Hummer replacers? AH-64 Apache replacers?

Granted, ain’t none of that gonna happen. Almost certainly, none of those things actually exist (which is not just a tragedy, it’s a friggen scandal). But if the parade comes together and the only real reveal is that the lefties reveal themselves – for like the millionth time – to be hateful screeching harpies bent on sucking the joy out of all aspects of American life, it will have been worth every last dime.



 Posted by at 10:33 am
Feb 062018

Negative mass/negative matter is a theoretical substance that appears in sci-fi and scientific speculation. It would be a difficult substance to deal with, if it actually exists… negative mass means negative inertia. Which means if you push on it, it pushes back, just as hard. This is why it’s considered probably necessary for stable wormholes: somehow, you line the “walls” of the wormhole with negative matter, and if the wormhole tries to collapse, the negative matter resists the collapse.

The video below explains some of the head-scratching consequences of the existence of negative matter. Not explained in the video is the idea that negative and regular matter would mutually annihilate if they came into contact. But unlike a matter/antimatter annihilation, a matter/negative matter reaction would release… nothing. Literally, nothing. One gram meets negative one gram, the end result is zero. The two substances would disappear like nothing was ever there. Of course, it’s not quite that simple. You’d probably get atoms partially torn apart… the electrons disappear but the nuclear scoots away, or the nucleus is partially eliminated, releasing a flood of suddenly liberated protons and neutrons and elementary particles. It would be nowhere near as energetic an event as a M/AM reaction, but there would seem to be a distinct sort of signature to a M/NM reaction.

 Posted by at 1:26 pm