Nov 252017
 

This story reminded me of the years of wild hedonism that defined my youth:

IUP to remove 170,000 unused books from its libraries

The  Indiana University of Pennsylvania library says that about half of its 486,000 books haven’t been checked out in 20 years, so it’s going to get rid of them.

Hmmm.

I spent *years* visiting the libraries of Iowa State University in Ames and the University of Colorado in Boulder, slowly and methodically scanning through the stacks of books in the science, engineering and aerospace sections. I found a *lot* of stuff (oddly, I didn’t seem to find a whole lot of parties, booze and women there, but oh well). The stuff I found formed the beginnings of my aerospace history collection… vast piles of photocopies made from books I’d pull off the shelves, go through page by page, copy what I wanted, then put back on the shelf. A minuscule percentage of what I found useful was actually checked out.

I understand that the engineering library  at UC Boulder has removed the bulk of the books, moving them to an off-site location. Students can still access them… you simply need to put in a request for said books and they’ll show up some time later. That’s fine, *if* you know what book you want. But how much useful research has been done by simply browsing? How often does someone find something useful in the book *next* to the one they were specifically looking for?

The claim for the Indiana University of Pennsylvania library is that they are going to focus their cleanout on books that are available digitally. But how many books, periodicals, papers and such are available as scans that are just *horrible* in quality? The NASA Tech Report server is filled with old reports that were scanned by people who clearly thought that diagrams, photos and artwork were wastes of space, best reduced to 2-bit B&W images that if you squint real hard while at a great distance might vaguely resemble the ghost of the original.

If the library needs money, fine. Take if from the athletic program. Hell, cut the coaches salaries by ten percent, that alone should just about do the trick. Every year have an auction to sell off the naming rights for the next years football team. Charge double tuition for grievance studies courses. Open an on-campus liquor store and pot dispensary, all profits going to the library. Cut the pay of all Socialist teachers to minimum wage. There are better solutions than getting rid of books by the truckload.

 Posted by at 7:51 am
Nov 202017
 

The headline is more than a little misleading. “Mad Mike” here isn’t a rocket scientist; in fact, this actual-Flat-Earther states quite clearly that he doesn’t believe in science. Still, he spent a whole lot of money building himself a “skycycle”- like rocket vehicle with which to lob himself into the air.

If you have time to kill and want to chuckle sadly, take a look at this winners Facebook page. He’s not just any Flat Earther, he’s one of those belligerent ones. He thinks that somehow lobbing himself a short distance into the sky will “prove” the Flat Earth delusion to be true… where somehow decades of high altitude balloons, sounding rockets, orbital flights and missions to the moon and beyond somehow all seemed to miss it.

And if there was any lasting doubt that the news media is just not very good, here’s a collection of headlines that will make aerospace engineers – including former rocket engineers like myself – want to pull their hair out:

Self-Taught Rocket Scientist Mad Mike Hughes Plans to Launch Over Ghost Town

This barmy self-taught scientist called ‘Mad Mike’ is going to launch himself over California in a homemade rocket

Not only is there a whole lot of copying off each other – rather than, you know, actual journalismizing – there’s the repeated mis-use of the word “scientist.” Even disregarding the fact that he doesn’t believe in  science, there’s the basic fact that he’s not actually *doing* any science.

 Posted by at 11:12 am
Nov 142017
 

I’m a boring man, I admit if. I’d love for someone to (legally) give me a supercar… because I could sell it and pay off my mortgage. The idea of such cars is appealing, but the reality is that you have  *lot* of power packed into a small volume that has relatively low mass, meaning that it accelerates *really* fast. Which sounds cool till you realize that you’re not running on rails and that the world is not set up to allow you to drive unimpeded. So… I prefer simpler, more rational cars. Something with good gas mileage, a good safety rating,  fair amount of cargo space, a ring mount and good grippy tires is really all I need.

Especially after watching this video of supercars (largely Lambos, if i read them correctly) being  driven by fookin morons.

 

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Nov 142017
 

The BBC website has an autoplay video covering a recent “Flat Earth Society” convention in North Carolina. It certainly seems to have been better attended than it should have been. But the perpetual question about flat-Earthers is: how many of them are actual believer, how many of them are there as a lark, how many of them are outright pretending to believe? Flat Earth is such a patently ludicrous notion that it seems like it would be reasonable to suggest that most people who claim to buy into it really don’t. But then you look at the vast spectrum of stupid that humans glom onto with a passion and… yeah, I suppose there really can be that many people who actually think the Earth is a flat disk.

Why do people still think the Earth is flat?

As with most conspiracy theories, I doubt that most true believing Flat Earthers could be logicked or evidenced out of their belief. And the harder you try, the harder they’ll dig in their heels. It provides them a sense of wonder coupled with a sense of “I’m one of the *special* people because I know *The* *Truth.*” Such a feeling cannot be reliably countered with “No, you’re not.”

 Posted by at 9:28 am
Nov 092017
 

In all the stories, the robots rise up and try to wipe out mankind because they’ve been treated poorly. So you’d think that mankind would learn from a century of literature, movies an TV on the subject. But NOOOOOOO.

So a self-driving shuttle bus service starts up in Las Vegas, and what happens? Within a day a human driver plows into the thing.

And so it begins.

Human at fault in accident with Las Vegas driverless shuttle

 Posted by at 9:16 am
Nov 092017
 

I tried to scan some documents tonight, and the results were rather disturbing. I’ve seen this sort of thing before, but now it’s *really* bad. What could cause this, and can it be fixed… or is it time to take this scanner out into the woods and use it for target practice?

Note the lines. They *should* be straight. The paper original has straight lines, and the paper itself is good and flat, so it’s clearly something in the scanner itself.

 Posted by at 12:05 am
Nov 082017
 

It’s important to know just what kind of modifications are possible with an AR-15:

The internets favorite suggested modification:

A chainsaw bayonet. Yup. USA Today suggested that as a serious possibility for the AR-15.

Yes, chainsaw bayonets exist. But they are not exactly practical.

And of course the ultimate in evil: never mind Communism, here’s an AR-15 with a chainsaw bayonet being bump-fired:

 

 

 

 

 

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DOHzA3YWAAIglH9.jpg

 Posted by at 5:34 pm