Jan 192016

Faith, according to many, can impart many good behaviors. But then it can also do this:

The boy accused of blasphemy who cut off his hand

In short: at a mosque in Pakistan, a 15-year-old boy mis-heard a question raised by the imam: “Who among you doesn’t believe in the teachings of the Holy Prophet? Raise your hands!”

He raised his hand. He was promptly accused of blasphemy by the imam. This being one of the worlds many Dumb Regions, the accusation of blasphemy is taken quite seriously (it often leads to an official death sentence, coupled with unofficial lynchings; in court, you’re generally not allowed to defend yourself, and even the accusation can’t really be brought out in court because *that* would be blasphemy). So, the kid did what I suppose makes sense if you are a religious nut who has been accused of committing blasphemy with your hand: he chopped it off and tried to hand it to the imam on a plate.

Since this is a Dumb Region, the locals did not drag the kid to a hospital to try to reattach the hand; they bandaged him up and buried the hand. They did not shake their heads and bemoan the fate of the poor, crazy dumb kid… they have decided to revere his act of religious devotion. People from surrounding villages have started to swing by to express their admiration.


But on the other hand (snerk)…

I can see an opportunity here. Is it possible to advertise and promote this act among others of his religion who are equally religiously nutty? Get them to believe that it is an act to emulate? Beyond the utility of having people who might otherwise be building suicide bombs disarming themselves (heh), there’d be just the sheer entertainment value.

 Posted by at 2:24 pm
Jan 172016

A SpaceX Falcon 9 was launched out of Vandenberg today, putting an ocean observation satellite into orbit. A secondary goal was to land the first stage on a barge out at sea… it appears that this was not successful. The rocket landed on the barge but didn’t stick the landing; it seems one of the legs may have collapsed due to hitting too hard. Ocean conditions were pretty rough, as can be seen in the video below… which cut off literally seconds before the landing at about 50:30.

So… from a limited dataset, the Falcon 9 is good at landing on pads that aren’t bobbing up and down, not so good at landing on pads that are in motion. Even if this issue isn’t resolved, it’s still useful on many missions to be able to land-recover the first stage.

So, presuming the booster was lost on landing, what we have here is a learning experience. If it was NASA… program shutdown, months of Congressional hearings. SpaceX: “don’t launch when it’s cold.” Or to be more specific, don’t expect to land when the seas are rough.

 Posted by at 12:59 pm
Jan 152016

If this is accurate, it indicates that the Swedish government is *insane:*

Sweden: “No Apartments, No Jobs, No Shopping Without A Gun”

Now, Swedes see the welfare system failing them. More and more senior citizens fall into the “indigent” category; close to 800,000 of Sweden’s 2.1 million retirees, despite having worked their whole lives, are forced to live on between 4,500 and 5,500 kronor ($545 – $665) a month. Meanwhile, seniors who immigrate to Sweden receive the so-called “elderly support subsidy” — usually a higher amount — even though they have never paid any taxes in Sweden.

Worse, in 2013 the government decided that people staying in the country illegally have a right to virtually free health and dental care. So while the destitute Swedish senior citizen must choose between paying 100,000 kronor ($12,000) to get new teeth or living toothless, a person who does not even have the right to stay in Sweden can get his teeth fixed for 50 kronor ($6).

Neat. So… who wants a Scandinavian-style welfare state here in the US?

 Posted by at 7:42 pm
Jan 152016

Even though the odds of winning were one in 292 million… somehow, you didn’t win. You spent all your money, and you got cheated out of $1.5 billion. Outrage! So, what do you do? Do you take this as an important lesson about the important of understanding basic mathematics and how that relates to a household budget? No, that’s for suckers. Instead, clearly the right approach is to ask other people to give you *their* money:

A Powerball Reimbursement Go Fund Me Page Has Been Created

A woman named “Cinnamon Nicole” (the article doesn’t say, but with a name like that I’m assuming she’s a nuclear physicist) claimed to have blown all her families money on Lotto tickets, “expecting” to win $1.5Billion. Now they’re broke, and she’s asking *you* to pay her. The Go Fund Me page seems to have been taken down since the article was published, but somehow she’d managed to garner at least $800 before the end.

 Posted by at 11:46 am
Dec 312015

Engineer finds examples of ‘horrific’ construction in tornado wreckage

Someone “tried to nail a steel bottom plate to the concrete,” he said. “There was no connection [between] walls, there was no connection at the roof, and it was simply nailed to the concrete foundation.

Humans have been building structure for probably in excess of fifty thousand years. For most of that time, the structures were little more than igloos and tents and teepees and lean-tos, but somewhere around 6,000 or so years ago we started building permanent structures. In that time we’ve transitioned from simple piles of store to complex multi-story buildings of steel and concrete; in order to do that, we had to learn *how* to build such things. There is a science to it, an engineering to it, a set of math for it. There is, in the typically stern STEM worldview, right and many wrong ways to build buildings. And it appears that the chuckleheads who built some of the buildings trashed in the recent tornadoes decided to not bother with those 6,000 years of science and engineering. For reasons of greed, or laziness, or ignorance, or arrogance, or just plain stupidity, the builders apparently chose to go in a different direction. They are to structural engineers what faith healers are to doctors, what lunatics who think they’re superheros capable of flight are to aeronautical engineers. And yet many people still believe that STEM is over-rated, that what we need are more people who live in fluffy muddle-headedness:

Old Navy Doesn’t Want Your Kids to Become Artists

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Dec 312015

Passengers horrified after blood seeps out of cruise ship elevator

The article is vague, but it seems that an electrician was working in or on an elevator and got squished or chopped or something. The result, as can be seen in the video, is a whole lot of blood pouring down the outside of the door.

It’s bad enough that modern cruise ships have to deal with ghost pirates and pirate ghosts, but now also ghost electricians (or electrician ghosts, I always forget how that works).


 Posted by at 9:57 am
Dec 282015

Inexperienced, Undereducated Truck Driver Destroys Indiana Bridge Built In 1880

The driver took a thirty-ton truck over an old iron bridge rated for six tons. From the police report:

Ms. Lambright was aware of the iron bridge stating she had driven on it several times in her personal vehicle and was also aware of the posted signage “no semis, weight limit of 6 tons”. When asked by Paoli Police why she continued through the bridge knowing the weight limit was only 6 tons she admitted to not knowing how many pounds that was.

The down sides to this story are obvious: inconveniencing the people who rely on that bridge, costing her employers buckets of money, damaging a historical artifact. On the plus side: some people will be getting a new bridge, and here’s an opportunity to discuss the miserable state of the Department of Education.  Also… one has to wonder how often this sort of thing will happen with robo-trucks.

 Posted by at 8:17 pm
Dec 262015

This is both sad and enlightening:

Pope Francis offers hope to faithless, says atheists can go to heaven

The subject of the thread is of much less interest than the sheer nastiness of the commenters. Doesn’t matter what your religion or your politics, there seems to be little that brings out the vitriolic vengeance-fantasy more than the idea that The Other Guy will be crushed under a giant boot heel. Here it’s the idea that “people who don’t believe just the same way I do will be cast into a lake of fire.” An equivalent leftist version holds that gun owners will be wiped out by government troops… those stooopid gun nuts who think that their guns will protect them from a tyrannical government will find out how wrong they are when the government drops nukes on them, yessiree! But still, nothing seems to beat the thrill that many people seem to get when envisioning the eternal torment of millions of otherwise perfectly fine people who simply don’t belong to the same fan club. Can’t wait until the Church of Trek and the Jedi Temple start going at each other like this.

 Posted by at 9:18 pm
Dec 252015

Again with the “Star Wars.” Someone found and scanned the 1977 Sears “Wish Book,” which contains interesting nuggets of history such as the first release of the Atari video game system… and a whole lot of fashions and furnishings that illustrate just how awful the year Star Wars came out was. Conveniently, the 1977 prices are given, along with the 2015 equivalents. Such things as color TV’s were *insanely* expensive a 19-inch model running $1445 in todays dollars..



 Posted by at 11:10 pm
Dec 242015

Assuming this is true, it’s not good:

The Typical American Lives Only 18 Miles From Mom

Americans are becoming less and less mobile, staying put where they came from. The article declares this to be a result of a lack of adequate government care for the elderly, but I have to wonder if a big portion of it might also be a result of a drop-off in a culture of ambition and dreams. Used to be that coming of age meant heading towards a brighter horizon, which most often meant to go elsewhere to find your life… because what are the chance that you would be born and raised in that one place you were meant to be? If your dream was to become an astronaut, staying in Manhattan ain’t gonna do it. If you want to be a big rap star, Thatcher, Utah, ain’t the place. If you want to be a forest ranger, Los Angeles seems like not the place to ply your trade. But if you have become convinced to just be a paper pusher, a burger flipper, or some other entirely interchangeable, meaningless career… well, I guess you can do that just about anywhere.


 Posted by at 9:35 pm