Mar 252015

Is the universe on the brink of collapse? Study says catastrophic event is ‘imminent’

Holy crap! They said that the collapse of the universe is “imminent!” Did they really say that?

THE “catastrophic collapse” of the universe may be “imminent”, scientists have predicted.

Oh noez! Not “imminent!” I have stuff to do next week! What will human society do knowing that the universe could collapse at a moments notice? What would even be the point of waking up and goign to work? How long until civilization completely collapses?

In tens of billions of years – a relatively short time in cosmological terms – physicists claim the universe will soon stop expanding and collapse on itself, obliterating all matter as we know it. 


 Posted by at 11:05 pm
Mar 252015

Huge asteroid capable of wiping out entire country is on near-collision course with Earth


A mammoth asteroid measuring 1,000-metre wide in on course to narrowly miss Earth within days, NASA predicts.

The object called ‘2014-YB35’ is predicted to skim the Earth on Friday travelling at more than 23,000 mph in space.


Any impact would trigger devastating changes in the climate, earthquakes and tsunamis.


Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap! Whatever shall we do? However shall we survive? Should I start butchering random hobos and turning them into jerky to sustain my pack of mutant attack cats through the years-long fimbulwinter which is to come? Can no-one save us?

This rock is forecast to pass within 2.8 million miles – a tiny distance in astronomical terms – of Earth on Friday



 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Mar 232015

An artists rendering of a solar power satellite under construction. This idea was popular for a while in the mid/late 1970s during the energy crisis, and generally called for satellites generally compared in size to Manhattan island.

This image was apparently created by NASA in 1976. The thinking at the time was that these structures could certainly be built within the 1990’s; I often wonder at what the people who were working on them would have thought at the time had they somehow found out that, nearly 40 years later, precisely zero effort would have been made to see SPS come to pass. A higher-rez version is available HERE.

sps construction

 Posted by at 11:39 pm
Mar 202015

Top violator of women’s rights around the world? It’s Israel says UN

And by “UN,” what is specifically meant here is the “Commission on the Status of Women (CSW)” which condemned a grand total of one nation… Israel.

I’m sure the womenfolk of Syria and Iran and Iraq and Egypt and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Sudan and Saudi Arabia are thrilled to hear they have it so good.


I’ve said it before: the UN’s time is done. It needs to be replaced not by a deliberative body of *every* nation, but one that selects nations based on common agreed-upon cultural tenets. Sort of a NATO writ large.

 Posted by at 9:24 pm
Mar 162015

The rules of flying on a jetliner are generally pretty simple. You’re stuck in a small space with a bunch of other people, with minimal room to move around for *hours.* So what should you do? Be quiet, try not to stink, behave yourself. Just spend a few hours trying to get along with the strangers stuck there with you.

Or… screw it. Do like this woman:

Go on a bizarre loud political rant and light up a cigarette. That’ll win you friends among those seated near you. Even  better… when the flight attendants come along to tell you to stop smoking, blame it on the poor schmoe sitting next to you:

According to this purported eye witness, the rant went on for half an hour or so. And, shockingly, there was booze involved. This was even *before* the plane took off, so the police had the opportunity to come aboard and hustler her off.

And finally a mugshot:


She is *reportedly* a sociology professor at a Pennsylvania university.

UPDATE: She is Dr. Karen Bettez Halnon, Associate Professor of Sociology, Penn State, Abington. You want some irony? Well, I got ya covered:

Halnon, K. B. (1995). Women’s agency in Hysteria and its Treatment. Boston College Dissertations and Theses, AAI9613827.

And here is the entirely unsurprising areas of her expertise:

Research and Teaching Areas: racial and ethnic inequality; capitalism and class; White and Black poverty; empire and imperialism; Central or Latin American studies; consumption; music scenes and subcultures; liberation theology; revolution; stigma; symbolic interaction; women and madness; marijuana; sociology of deviance; Marxist theory; postmodernist criticism; ideology

This is why a STEM education is important:

1) If a math or engineering professor gets likkered up before a flight, he/she is very unlikely to go on a rant on the plane about the importance of Poisson’s Ratio or the transcendental nature of Pi.

2) If a physics or electronics professor holds whackadoodle leftist garbage beliefs like this sociology professor… they are unlikely to form a major portion of the classroom curriculum.

It seems to be the libarts where exterior crazy becomes syllabus-mandatory.

Additionally: this is one of those cases where a little bit of room to stretch out might have been handy. When you add booze, cramped conditions and progressive professorial privilege to the reduced oxygen environment of an aircraft, wacky things like this are not unlikely. Perhaps the problem would be lessened by using aircraft with a lower passenger density. For US Transport Projects #3, one of the aircraft described would have been somewhat slower than a standard jetliner, but it would also have provided several square meters of floorspace per passenger. (It was also wholly insane as an operational concept…) With room to stretch out or even sack out, perhaps Crazy Lady here could have simply slept off her issues.

 Posted by at 9:51 am
Mar 162015

I’ve mentioned off and on that I did some work (well, a lot of work) as a technical advisor on the Australian independent alternate history movie “Man Conquers Space.” This project started, at least for me, not long after the turn of the century. Issues of what I assume were the usual sort kept pushing the movie back and back; eventually I fell out of touch with the filmmaker, David Sander. In the past year or three I’ve made  a handful of attempts at contacting him, to no avail.

And now, the website seems to have been dumped:

It now pulls up a “godaddy” page letting you know that that domain is for sale. Additionally the Wikipedia page for it has been deleted.


Anybody have details? I’ve found a few recent discussions here and there with people lamenting the fact that the movie seems to have evaporated. Some are hopeful that the intentional dumping of the films webpages down the memory hole indicate that it might have been picked up by a major studio, and they want full control, but that sounds like wishful thinking to me.

 Posted by at 2:40 am
Mar 152015

That would be March 2014 through February 2015, according to NASA.

As for what this past February looked like… sure, the eastern half of the US had one hell of a winter. But then… so did the rest of the northern hemisphere. For an entirely different definition of hell:


If you’re in the US, you’ve probably heard a lot of grumbling out of California about the drought. Unless things change, you’ll probably hear a lot more as summer comes along. The farmers out here are already talking about water rationing, which is kinda bad because agriculture out here is almost entirely dependent upon irrigation using snow melt water… and there has been very little snow. But note the vast bulk of Asia. If that heat translates into drought… well, Putin has been goofy *before.* Wait until the Russian and Chinese crops fail.

 Posted by at 1:24 pm
Mar 102015

Just a few short days ago I posted a snarky piece about someone getting into trouble for something done online. Lo and behold, starting yesterday (Monday) and running all through today there has been increasing coverage of a fraternity at an Oklahoma university getting into trouble when a few seconds of video from their “party bus” hit the internet. Since then, the fraternity in question has been shut down and banned from the campus; the frat boys have all been kicked out of the frat house and two – so far – have been expelled. More relevant to my point, CNN and other news outlets have been obsessing about this pretty much non-stop. So, what horrible deed was caught on video? The frat boys were caught singing a racist song.

Is that bad? Sure, yeah, I suppose. But they were singing it among themselves; they were not standing outside some Ethnic Minority Fraternity and singing threats at them. They used Bad Words. And as a result… the university leadership is freaking out. The media is freaking out. And of course the Aggrieved Activist Community is freaking out.

As for the activists… well, they’re always on a hair-trigger, ready to go off at a moments notice. And the university leadership is probably paranoid about any sort of negative press. But the media… really, *this* is your new obsession? Since the time some frat boys got likkered up and sang a bad song, I bet there was a murder on some campus somewhere. Probably more rapes than one might like to think about. Theft. Drug use.  Hell, just a week or two ago news broke that another fraternity had had a party and caused nearly half a *million* dollars in damage to a resort. That got a little press, but not nearly the amount this story is getting, and not nearly as hysterical. And the resort story featured actual criminal behavior.

But you , some random nobody of a schmoe, say a Bad Word, and suddenly you’re the biggest news in the land. Bigger even than a Secretary of State using a private email server to conduct official communications and deleting 30,000 or more of those emails.

Yeah, yeah, it’s a Really Bad Word. So bad that I’m not stupid enough to type it. And yet it’s not so bad that it doesn’t appear a bagrillion times a day in popular music. To listen to some of the talking heads on CNN tonight, hearing these frat boys say the Bad Word caused them untold misery and emotional distress. But turning on their radios and hearing it in rap music? That’s just fine. Essentially, this is magical thinking. These people are imbuing this Bad Word with magical superpowers, but only when spoken by certain people. And… no. There are no magical words. Abracadabra; alakazam; anál nathrach, orth’ bháis’s bethad, do chél dénmha; presto chango; shazam; amen. Say them as much as you like, you won’t sprout superpowers. The Higher Forces or Lower Ranks won’t show up to do thy bidding. And the same with any politically useful Bad Word. Words have precisely the power we give them, no more, no less.

And the news media seems bound and determined to make some words into magical H-bombs.

 Posted by at 9:43 pm
Mar 082015


Augustine College is pleased to announce the 17th annual Weston Lecture, a free public lecture given this year by Dr. R.R. Reno titled Against Critical Thinking.

Dr. Reno has served as the editor of First Things, America’s most influential journal of religion in public life, since 2011. He received his PhD in theology from Yale University and taught theology and ethics at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska for twenty years. He has published in many academic journals, and his opinion essays have appeared in Commentary, the Washington Post, and other popular outlets. His most recent books include Fighting the Noonday Devil, Sanctified Vision and a commentary on the Book of Genesis.

In his talk, Dr. Reno will argue that the life of the mind is based on our capacity to know and affirm truth. Today’s academic culture overemphasizes critical questioning and doubt. This fails to train us how to assent to truth. For that we need a pedagogy of piety, which means an approach to instruction that is ordered toward that affirmation of truth.



And there’s the requisite propaganda poster which draws heavily from science fiction iconography, and seems to be claiming that things like “doubt” and “skepticism” and “questioning everything” are “evil.”



And of course there’s also this:

A freewill offering will be taken.

Yup. A “freewill offering.”

The irony here is that Augustine College is probably named after St. Augustine. While Augustine tried and failed to use logical arguments to prove his faith, he did have the occasional bit of wisdom. Wisdom that the good Dr. Reno should take to heart:

“Usually, even a non-Christian knows something about the earth, the heavens, and the other elements of this world, about the motion and orbit of the stars and even their size and relative positions, about the predictable eclipses of the sun and moon, the cycles of the years and the seasons, about the kinds of animals, shrubs, stones, and so forth, and this knowledge he hold to as being certain from reason and experience. Now, it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing for an infidel to hear a Christian, presumably giving the meaning of Holy Scripture, talking nonsense on these topics; and we should take all means to prevent such an embarrassing situation, in which people show up vast ignorance in a Christian and laugh it to scorn. The shame is not so much that an ignorant individual is derided, but that people outside the household of faith think our sacred writers held such opinions, and, to the great loss of those for whose salvation we toil, the writers of our Scripture are criticized and rejected as unlearned men. If they find a Christian mistaken in a field which they themselves know well and hear him maintaining his foolish opinions about our books, how are they going to believe those books in matters concerning the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the kingdom of heaven, when they think their pages are full of falsehoods and on facts which they themselves have learnt from experience and the light of reason? Reckless and incompetent expounders of Holy Scripture bring untold trouble and sorrow on their wiser brethren when they are caught in one of their mischievous false opinions and are taken to task by those who are not bound by the authority of our sacred books. For then, to defend their utterly foolish and obviously untrue statements, they will try to call upon Holy Scripture for proof and even recite from memory many passages which they think support their position, although they understand neither what they say nor the things about which they make assertion. “

Since this lecture has presumably already occurred, it might be interesting to find out how it went. Whether there were any hecklers. Or even just any critical questions or comments. Like “why should I believe you?” Or “Since I don’t need to think critically, I’m’a gonna go join an ashram.”

 Posted by at 12:11 am