Some recent photos of the Soviet BOR-4 lifting body test vehicle were posted here:

http://ru-cosmos.livejournal.com/1177554.html

And wow, has it seen better days.

Another fine example of aerospace history being left to turn into garbage.

Over the past few days I drove from Illinois through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming back home to Utah. There is a whole lot of empty along that stretch. If you don’t have satellite radio (and I don’t), your car radio will be constantly picking up and dropping radio stations. And so over twenty hours or so on the road, I heard a great variety of different stations. And of a lot of what I heard gave me a sad feeling.

1) Religious radio: especially in Iowa and Nebraska. Just a whole lot of Jesus going on. I listened to a lot of it, as I have done for decades, trying to figure it out. And as always, it remains largely impenetrable to me… it’s like listening to a foreign language that just happens to use words that sound a whole lot like English words, but the meanings are all shuffled.

A lot of the religious radio was, due to it having been Easter, very, hmmm, “religious.” Celebratory “He Is Risen!” stuff, which obviously doesn’t seem as exciting if you don’t buy that he is, in fact, risen.”Frodo lives!”  doesn’t have much emotional impact to any but some hippies and the like from the 60′s.

Listening to people lose their marbles over news that’s pushing 2000 years old just doesn’t make sense to me… kinda like bursting into cheers if a historian or political commentator shouts “And John Hancock signed the Declaration!” Just seems very alien to me.

Equally alien: getting giggitty over the notion that “God loves you.” Yeah, but… God apparently also loves Lady Gaga. And Justin Beiber. And Pope Francis. And Barack Obama. And Vlad Putin. And Vlad Tepes. And Adolph Hitler. And Scarlett Johannson. And Warren Buffet. And some drunken bum. And some crack whore. And some auto mechanic. And some goat herding tribesman. Supposedly, *everybody* who is, was, or ever will be. What makes love special is that it’s supposed to be rare and discriminatory, not a shotgun blast that covers the entire universe. That makes it as rare and precious as the Higgs field, and as worth being all thrilled about.

Less alien but more saddening was religious radio that tries to come off as logical and failed spectacularly, while at the same time being a dick about it. Again, it was Easter, so lots of references were made about the alleged resurrection. If you want to believe in that, fine. But if you want to use it as a logical *proof*, be careful. More than once I heard some nattering nincompoop claim that the final clinching unarguable PROOF of the historiocity of the Bible is “the empty tomb.” Basically, the argument seems to go that since the Roman authorities didn’t carve giant stone panels decrying the early Christians for believing in the “empty tomb,” then the “empty tomb” must have been a real event, and thus… the Bible is For Real and anyone who doesn’t believe is either an idiot or willfully evil (and I’m not exaggerating… this is what I’ve heard, many times). The reasoning is just mind bogglingly atrocious, but it keeps being used.

2) Pot. Especially while passing through Colorado, talk radio was filled with jibberjabber about marijuana. On April 20 – 4/20 – there had apparently been some big celebration of legalized pot in Denver. In previous years, 4/20 was a protest, now it’s a party. And to listen to some of the talking heads, this was a terrible tragedy.

One major complaint was that the 4/20 event was the main front page news story in some paper… when the same day was not only Easter, but also the anniversary of the Columbine shooting. Well, here’s the thing: newspapers are supposed to be about *news.* A major public event dealing with a hot-button political and legal issue is news. And unless Jesus or the Columbine victims came back, Easter and the anniversary aren’t really “news.”

One talk show host was convinced that legalized pot has and will lead to “carnage.” To bolster his claim, he mentioned two recent event… some college student ate a legal pot cookie, went buggo and chucked himself off a balcony to his death. Some other guy consumed some concentrated form of legal marijuana, went buggo and shot his girlfriend dead. Tragedies, sure. But… would these – or equivalent – tragedies have happened had the drugs been illegal? And two people dying… well, sad for those involved, but how many people died due to legal *booze* in the same period?

The complaining about pot I heard on the radio all seemed to come from “conservative” (i.e. deeply religious) commentators. The same people who would screech their heads off about individual liberty in any other subject area, completely lose their minds when the individuals are enjoying themselves in a way the commentator doesn’t personally agree with. Bah. Sadly, killjoy control freaks aren’t restricted to the ranks of left-wing fascists, but also many of those who supposedly push “freedom” also want to micromanage other peoples personal lives and will use nonsensical arguments to achieve that.

3) On Sunday NPR ran a long piece on  “coincidence.” Fairly interesting and entertaining, but still based on unreason. Sure, it’s personally remarkable when you unexpectedly meet someone from your distant past somewhere terribly unlikely, say, at the top of an Aztec pyramid. But is there some cosmic significance? Well… no. Most people run into a *lot* of people. Truly vast numbers. And so those unlikely occurrences become almost inevitable, statistically speaking. But as with “mediums” and cold-reading magicians who can tell you Amazing Things about yourself, people generally only remember the interesting “successes.”

Let’s say that you have a twin, but you were separated at the age of three and adopted into different families on the opposite sides of the world. If you just happen to run into each other at the local Circle K… why, that’s an Amazing Coincidence that really must Mean Something. God his own self must have directed you two there at that very moment! And yet… you *don’t* hear too much about the time the two of you came within six feet of each other in that bus station, but didn’t notice each other. The physical reality was no less statistically interesting, but the fact that you didn’t come away from the event with a startling epiphany strips the event of any meaning it could have had.

4) I caught a portion of a left wing talk show, someone standing in for well-known idjit Ed Shultz. As annoying as conservative talk radio can sometimes be… left wing talk radio *wallows* in that level of unreason at all times. The topic was the Keystone pipeline, and how it’s just plain evil. The reasons given for why the pipeline is bad were just… bad. For starters, the Canadian tar sands the pipeline will feed from have a worse carbon footprint than more conventional hydrocarbon sources. Well, ok. Let’s assume it’s true (probably is), and let’s assume that more carbon = bad news (probably is true, to some small degree). Well… the Canadians want to extract the hydrocarbons from the tar sands because they want the money. If the Keystone pipeline isn’t built, some *other* means of transporting the gas & oil will be. The carbon will still come out of the ground and into the air.

Second, the claim is made that the pipeline itself will add X billions of dollars in “environmental costs” over its lifetime. OK, I guess. But if the pipeline isn’t built… that oil may find itself being transported via truck. Can you think of a way to make  oil more financially and environmentally costly to transport over long distances than a pipeline? I can. It’s called “trucking.”

Third: the “expert” didn’t want the pipeline built because – paraphrasing here – do we really want to live in a world with pipelines? Ummm… well, I’d really rather live in a world with a thousand major nuclear powerplants being built annually, but you “green” jackholes have successfully torpedoed *that* dream, so… pipelines it is.

5) And then… this poll on science.

Holy crap:

poll

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Seems the only way to avoid encountering mountains of unreason would be to just stop listening to people.

Interestingness afoot:

embedded by Embedded Video

YouTube Direkt

Nevada officials blast feds over treatment of cattle rancher Cliven Bundy

Looking at the wackyside of the internet, there are a lot of people claiming that they are getting armed and heading out to Nevada to stand against the Feds. I’d bet that most of ‘em are just blowing smoke… but if even a few follow through, the next few days might prove interesting.

In the video, BLM rangers tase a guy *three* *times*… to no apparent effect. Options:

1) The tasers aren’t really up to scratch

2) The guy is some kind of badass

3) The guy is wearing a metal mesh or metal foil undershirt

Beyond simply shrugging off taser shots, what kinda got me was that after tasering the feller, the rangers didn’t follow through. If you go to the bother of pulling a trigger on someone, whether that trigger is attached to a firearm, a taser or pepper spray, shouldn’t you then actually arrest them? Otherwise… why are you pulling a trigger on someone who isn’t doing something worthy of arrest?

It’s April 1st. AKA “April Fools Day,” a day notable for bad jokes and hoaxes (such as “A Necro-Biological Explanation for the Fermi Paradox,” a reasonable facsimile of a dry scientific paper, posted on Arxiv.org, which attributes the silence of the universe to a near universal zombie epidemic). The problem is, “real news” happens on April 1s, just like any other day. and while most news stories are clearly not April 1st gags, some are real hard to tell if they are hoaxes… or signs that some people are really, really messed up. Like this one:

What Can Educators do to End White Supremacy in the Classroom?

This, sadly, appears to be entirely on the up-and-up, just bad timing. It describes the 15th annual “National White Privilege Conference” held in Madison, Wisconsin. What was discussed there is *entirely* insane. Just utter racist rubbish, of the worst self-hating variety.

One of the “educators” featured in the story is gettign her PhD in “Critical whiteness studies,” something I’ve never heard of before. So, I looked it up on wikipedia. And what I learned is this:

“Black studies” are taught by black folk to explain how great black folk are.

“Chicano/hispanic studies” are taught by chicano/hispanic folk to explain how great chicano/hispanic folk are.

“Womens studies” are taught by women to explain how great women are.

“White studies” are taught by black folk to explain how terrible white folk are.

Buh?

Throw in a lot of gibberish about “privilege,” a whole lot of anti-white race-baiting, a heaping helping of psychobabble and a dumptruck full of socialist/Marxist bullcrap, and you have “critical whiteness studies.”

Gah.

I’m starting to come around to the thinking of many of those on the far left, that views that they don’t agree with should be banned or made illegal. In my case, I’m about to call for a petition to the White House demanding a moratorium on “liberal arts” being taught in universities for a generation or two. Higher ed should be restricted to the likes of physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, medicine, that sort of thing: STEM. And lay off the BS curricula long enough for the current practitioners to just simply *die.*

From Fark.com:

Reminder: Today is your last day of open enrollment and you must sign up for Obamacare now. The Obamacare web site has been helpfully rendered inoperable for your convenience

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Spokeswoman says engineers “are in control” of structural defects at 420-foot-high dam in seismically-active area. If she’s wrong, Africa could lose 1.3GW of grid power, 3.5 million people and the capital of Zambia

Man chops off his own hand with a homemade guillotine… and is now threatening to amputate his arm

Why would he do such a thing? He was in a motorcycle wreck and suffered substantial nerve pain. Apparently the British National Health System has refused to treat him for 16 years so… he did it himself. Neat!

Air Pollution in World: Real-time Air Quality Index Visual Map

Wow. The US, for once, actually comes off pretty good compared to just about everybody except Australia. China, though… yeesh.

A fairly disturbing article about how pseudoscientific nonsense is becoming accepted practice in many medical centers:

A disturbing example of quackademic medicine at an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center

Can we as a society really point and laugh at people freaking out about “mubobobo” when we have University cancer treatment centers offering newage like reiki and reflexology? We have become so “tolerant of diverse cultures” that we don’t seem to be able to say ” no, sorry, that’s *wrong*” to utter anti-scientific nonsense.

Child hurt by razor blades glued to East Moline playground equipment

Twelve razor blades were glued to playground equipment. Clearly an effort to injure children. Someone needs to have their ass handed to ‘em.

It’s a pity there aren’t penal colonies that criminals such as this could be shipped to. Someone who glues razors to jungle gyms and swings is someone society doesn’t need.

Temple Student Attacked With Brick

The short form: a 19-year -old Temple U student and her 20-year-old boyfriend were out for a walk in Philly when they were surrounded by a group of 8-to-14-year-old children who verbally berated them, assaulted them, and mashed the girl in the face with a brick, doing massive damage. And… that’s pretty much about it. The story gives no description of the high-spirited little scamps. It does not say what they were yelling at the victims. It gives no indication of what the motive of the attack was. You know… the important items that journalists *should* let the public be aware of.

Odd, that.

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