Oct 222016

So today some hackers displayed their power and took down Amazon, Twitter, PayPal and others for some amount of time. Everything *apparently* got all cleaned up, we’re back to normal, it’s all good, blah, blah, blah. Yeah.

Here’s my cheery thought for today: just wait until they get into important online data storage systems. Imagine that they manage to lock up The Cloud with ransomeware and demand One Hundred BIIILLLLLION Dollars. Or they simply corrupt it all. Move all the zeroes to one side of the server, all the ones to the other. And stack up the twos in a small pile right up front.

Amazon goes down? Bad. PayPal goes down? Really bad. Online stored data becomes unavailable? Economies collapse. Careers are destroyed. Authors life works vanish. Billions of man-hours of in-progress effort vanishes like a fart in a hurricane. A few dozen million families photo and video albums disappear.

What do *you* have stored in “the Cloud?” Do you have it backed up offline?

 Posted by at 12:21 am
Oct 212016

The ESA’s Schiaparelli Mars lander failed to land on Mars yesterday. That’s not to say it didn’t make it to Mars… it just made it there a little faster than it should’ve. Ten parachutes were cut loose too soon and the braking rockets didn’t burn long enough, so it fell out of the sky with an Earth-shattering kaboom. Well… Mars craft have had a pretty unfortunate record.

What’s impressive is that there are enough satellites orbiting Mar that the crash site has already been spotted:

Camera on Mars Orbiter Shows Signs of Latest Mars Lander

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spotted both the parachute and the scorch mark using its low-rez “Context Camera.” The high-rez “HiRISE” camera will be trained on the site in the near future.

 Posted by at 5:10 pm
Oct 202016

Well, this is just super. On January 1, 2019, the New Horizons probe will pass remarkably close to Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69, a chunk of something about 19 to 28 miles across. Telescopic examination has shown it to be reddish, redder than the splotches on Pluto and Charon. The scienticians will tell you that the redness is due to the presence of tholins, reddish-brown chemicals produced when simple organic molecules like methane are exposed to ultraviolet light. But come on, we all know the score… this is a chunk of frozen blood left out in deep space by the fungi from Yuggoth or Yog Sothoth or the Ogdru Jahad or Scientologists. The only question is, what’s the blood *from?* Will New Horizons provide the answer… and will that forbidden knowledge drive everyone *insane?* Personally, I suspect not. The flyby won’t occur until 2019… by which time I expect that the Earth will be a smoking radioactive ruin. Nobody will be manning the radio receivers to hear what New Horizons has to say. Those few who survive will be too busy trying to scratch a living out of the blasted Earth under a smoke and ash filled sky, daily battling hordes of mutated social justice zombies and Kardashidemons.

 Posted by at 3:16 am
Oct 192016

Students told term ‘be a man’ represents toxic masculinity

The dumbth continues…

According to the trailer of the film, it teaches that the “three most destructive words” a boy can hear growing up is “be a man.” Experts quoted therein also suggest that violent outbursts are prompted by masculinity pressures because “respect is linked to violence.”


OK, so telling a male to “be a man” is bad. Since a man is what the male would normally be or become, what they’re basically saying is that being normal is bad.

You gotta give these people props for having done a *magnificent* job on tearing down boys and men in the US. By working to eliminate the role of fathers in the education and maturation of whole populations of boys, they have eliminated proper role models for boys, leaving them with either no guide on how to become civilized men, or guides like the anti-male “feminists” that have become so prominent in recent decades. Is it any wonder, then, that so many boys and men have emotional and/or psychological issues?

If full knowledge on the source of all this was ever found, I wonder if it might turn out that a good chunk of this originated as a plan by the KGB to destroy the US from within. This would not surprise me. It would also mean that the people who support this nonsense are actually committing treason.

 Posted by at 2:30 am
Oct 172016

Ah, anti-science/anti-STEM moronity. Is there no limit to how monumentally idiotic it can get? Apparently not:

Watch Leftist Students Say Science Is Racist and Should Be Abolished

University of Cape Town movement says witchcraft is no less valid than Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity.

Just… wow. Behold:

Sure, one can argue that this is just a handful of idiots in a university far, far away. What are the chances that the thinking of clearly crazy people in Capetown, South Africa, will be adopted here in the Enlightened World? Well… consider. The idiots in the video use the same terminology as modern western Social Justice Warriors. They use the same *tactics* as western SJW’s. “Safe space.” “Progressive space.” Demanding apologies from dissenters. “Decolonization.” Feels before reals. Unearned arrogance.

The fact that these anti-science monsters have so successfully adopted the SJW mantras and worldview means that it is quite possible that their particular anti-science goals and objectives could well filter up through the rest of the SJW hive-mind. After all, if you argue with them and tell them that they are wrong… you’re a racist.

Thunderf00t did a good job of explaining why this thinking is teh dumm:

Now, here’s a thought experiment. Let’s say you were ethnically *not* a sub-Saharan African. You are, instead, let’s say, a white guy. And you *despise* sub-Saharan Africans. You don’t want them to progress; you don’t want to see them flying jetliners or colonizing Mars or building new computers or powerplants or cars that will compete with *you.* You don’t want to see them taking advantage of modern medicine and agriculture. You want to see their numbers decrease, their standard of living fall, their hopes and horizons shrink. You want to see a whole continent of people reduced to the level of savage that you think that they are. So, how would you go about making sure that happened? One way would be to launch a genocidal war of conquest and oppression. But, dayum, that’s expensive. On the other hand… if you can convince them to believe *exactly* as the “Fallists” in the video believe, you can get them to replace science with superstition. And once they’ve done that… they will do what you, in your racism and hatred, what to have done to them.

 Posted by at 6:32 am
Oct 132016

Some interesting things seem to have come out. These haven’t been officially confirmed so far as I know, but interesting nonetheless:

Details from Elon’s speech at the NRO

“We are close to figuring it out. It might have been formation of solid oxygen in the carbon over-wrap of one of the bottles in the upper stage tanks. If it was liquid it would have been squeezed out but under pressure it could have ignited with the carbon. This is the leading theory right now, but it is subject to confirmation.  The other thing we discovered is that we can exactly replicate what happened on the launch pad if someone shoots the rocket. We don’t think that is likely this time around, but we are definitely going to have to take precautions against that in the future. We looked at who would want to blow up a SpaceX rocket. That turned out to be a long list. I think it is unlikely this time, but it is something we need to recognize as a real possibility in the future.”

Two things here.

  1. The helium pressurant bottles are carbon fiber overwrapped and sit *inside* the liquid oxygen tank. The LOX on the upper stage was sub-cooled… it wasn’t “just below boiling,” it was “just above freezing.” Keeping the LOX as cold as possible keeps it as *dense* as possible, meaning you can squeeze that much more in the tank. Which is fine… except if you blow down any helium  in those tanks, due to the laws of thermodynamics the helium in the helium tank will cool off. Which means the wall of the helium tank will cool off. And any liquid oxygen in contact with the tank, or even soaked in between the carbon fibers, already close to the freezing point, may freeze solid. Solid oxygen in among carbon fibers… not a good idea.
  2. The failure of the Falcon 9 on the pad can be replicated by shooting it with a rifle at long range. In the comments at that Reddit posting, people who are apparently SpaceX employees say they know this because they shot a mockup. And perhaps even more interestingly, they could replicate the results by shooting *at* the rocket… not necessarily by actually hitting it. This would seem to indicate, perhaps unsurprisingly, that the shockwave shed by a presumably big and fast projectile scooting past the fragile outer skin of an upper stage is enough to send a shock into the stage. The shock hits the solid oxygen ice/carbon mixture and *blammo.*

Hmm. As Elon apparently said, they have a long list of groups that would like to see them fail. Competing American launcher companies. Competing European, Russian, Chinese launcher companies. Antagonistic foreign national governments.  Religious nuts. Australian anti-STEM trolls. Generic whackjobs. SpaceX had best step up their security game. And about the only way to do that in this case is to make sure that they control all the territory out to probably two miles from the launch site.

If the upper stage can be made to fail like this due to the passage of a bullet *near* it, that may indicate that the marksman was really, really good. It’d no doubt be childs play for a well trained sniper to hit the upper stage. Compared to a human, it’s *huge.* But if you put a bullet through the stage, no doubt there would be considerable forensic evidence left over. The outer skin with a bullet hole would be pretty obvious. The interior components with bullet holes, or scrapings of copper, lead, tungsten where none should be. But if you can successfully pass a bullet within an inch or two of the surface without actually hitting anything… no evidence of the bullet will be left behind. But that’d be an impressive shot, which would *probably* tend to eliminate generic nuts and religious whackos from the list. Someone would have had to have employed a real pro, which means hiring someone really expensive or employing a pro already in your service.

It would be advisable to add a sensor network around the launch facility. Millimeter wave radar can pick up a bullet; audio sensors can nail down the location of the shot. These won’t save your rocket, but they’ll tell you what happened, and if the system is fast enough allow either counter-battery fire or perhaps the unleashing of drones, droids or security guards.

This sort of thing kinda plays into the ideas floated a few days ago re: hurricane Matthew. More launch options means you could get away from people trying to blow up your business.

Most likely it’ll turn out to be a mundane sort of failure. But the fact that after some practical testing they’ve not only *not* discounted sabotage but have actually found evidence *supporting* that explanation, is a bit distressing.

 Posted by at 3:41 pm
Oct 132016

For the last several years I’ve been seeing occasional enthusiasm for “Solar Roadways.” If you have missed out on this, the idea is: hexagonal solar panels that you lay down to form ground surfaces like roads, parking lots, walkways, basketball courts, etc. The panels would be toughened to withstand automobiles driving over them, and would have integrated into them LEDs and microcomputers so that you could “paint” your lines and symbols and symbols and whatnot with light, rather than paint. The lines could be changed… parking lots could add or subtract handicapped parking spots, speed limits could be changed by having a great big “85” lit up in the road surface every half mile change to “95,” so on.

Sounds great, right??

No. It sounds freakin’ retarded.

I’ve never bothered to post anything about it because the idea seemed so patently and obviously absurd to me right from the get-go that I immediately shoved the thought aside, assuming it would vanish shortly like so many other ill-conceived notions. The world is *filled* with ideas for technologies that might sound good on an emotional level, but don’t stand up to even minimal mathematical scrutiny. This is one of many, many reasons why the public and the government *REALLY* need a better understanding of the basic precepts of science… not least of which being basic skepticism.

Anyway, I’ve tried to ignore solar roadways. Because it’s simply not going to work. But that hasn’t stopped people from throwing money at it.  And rather than going through all the ways in which this is dumb (top of *my* list was “You really want to drive on glass?”), I’ve linked below the latest video on the topic from pro-science (and, bonus, anti-SJW) YouTuber Thunderf00t where he smacks down the whole concept with logic and – GASP – math. Included are bits of video of the first public installation of a solar roadway, and it’s just tragically sad. Not only is the construction of the small patch of some thirty or so panels laughable amateurish, there’s a seventy-five percent failure rate in the panels in the first *week.* And that’s without cars driving on them.

“Solar roadways” is what happens when you prioritize “hope” over “math.” Like a jetliner designed by economists and built by poets, brain surgery conducted by homeopaths, a skyscraper designed by musicians and built by spirit mediums, or a nation guided by politicians, “solar roadways” is just a bad idea.

 Posted by at 12:28 pm
Oct 132016

Here’s a weird one:

One Dead, Pilot Hurt In Plane Crash; FBI Investigating Whether It Was Intentional

The story is a bit confusing. Apparently, a  Piper Seneca took off with a student and an instructor; the two got into a physical altercation in flight, the plane crashed. The student (Feras M. Freitekh, Jordanian) died, the instructor is in critical condition but apparently has told authorities that the crash wasn’t an accident. Maybe attempted murder, maybe successful suicide on the part of the student. Article points out that there is a big Pratt & Whitney plant in the area, implying that the plant might have been a target. Well, maybe. But if you are going to try to wreck a place, a Piper Seneca doesn’t seem the weapon to use…

I’d put my money on Feras being a nut. But who knows.

 Posted by at 2:02 am
Oct 112016

While Kennedy Space Center did not receive the apocalyptic death blow from hurricane Matthew that some were projecting, that doesn’t mean that the storm passed without causing damage. One sad casualty was the SM-64 Navaho missile and booster on display at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station; it has been *badly* damaged. Restoration will be a chore… assuming that it is restored.

These photos came to me from aviation historian/writer Dennis R. Jenkins. If you post ’em, make sure to point that out.

img_2502 img_2487 img_2489 img_2490 img_2491 img_2495 img_2497 img_2499 img_2501 img_2484 img_2483 img_2480


Word is that the 45th Space Wing of the USAF has determined that they *will* restore the Navaho. Far too early to work out the details, such as “when” and “how much will it cost.” The possibility exists of a solicitation of donations to aid the effort.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm