Aug 072016

Why do people refuse to learn from history???

A Mormon Tycoon Wants to Build Joseph Smith’s Mega-Utopia in Vermont

Some feller name of Dave Hall has a bucket of cash and a dream: to build planned utopian town-like properties based on some “vision” that Mormon church founder Joseph Smith imagined nearly 200 years ago. These would be square “plats,” with a square “ring wall” made up of buildings with farm-like area in the middle, and surrounded by a narrow bit of “nature.”

Hal wants to build a thousand of these sites in Vermont, moving 20 million people into a state with a current population well under one million. Oddly enough, the people in the area where he’s buying up property have a problem with this.

Some of the “features” of this planned community:

each person will be allotted just 200 square feet of living space


A plat, says Hall, will be subject to state and regional laws, but will also be overseen by a board and hierarchies of leaders with, it appears, strong Mormon family values. “Each [multi-family] house has house captains, which are a team of one man and one woman,”


Families and individuals who wish to join must invest their net worth and be employed either outside the communities or by a NewVistas company, or Vista Biz. Those who start Vista Bizzes will be given startup funds by the community but must surrender their IP rights. They also must agree to put nearly all their profits back into the community in exchange for what Hall calls “dividends”—payouts from overall wealth earned by the plat businesses.


To make all this work, some as-yet unavailable or generally unused technologies are needed. Robots that rearrange your furniture. Storage containers that rise us out of the floor. Small elevators. Toilets with built-in medical tricorders. But over all of this is the fact that since the basic plan of this “plat” was produced by Joseph Smith, it thus has the taint of prophesy and divine inspiration. And we’ve all seen how successful communities built on religious ideas can be.

The goofiest notion of all is that he’s buying up properties that are already happily occupied. Why not set up shop where people *aren’t*? I’m sure Detroit has some room for something like this. The Midwest has *single* farms bigger than his whole planned community. So why build right where you know you’re going to annoy the locals by changing *their* environment?

All that said… there’s something about this idea that makes me nervous in a very real sense. Not about the “plats” themselves… if they are roaring successes or the first generation born there tears the place apart during Festival, I don’t really care as such. But what does this sort of thing say about space colonies?

Initial small colonies – say, a few dozen people on Mars – will be run like military establishments. They’ll pretty much have to be. But what about town-sized orbital habitats? Here, the territory is strictly limited. An inhabitants options will necessarily be somewhat limited… a good terrorist could shut off the sun or evacuate all the air. So will such settlements need to be run in the soul-crushing collectivist manner suggested for the “plats?” A horrifying thought.

 Posted by at 4:25 pm
Aug 072016

This is sad, but not altogether surprising:

Historic replica airplane, the Bugatti 100p, crashes near Burns Flat, pilot and designer Scotty Wilson dies

On its third test flight it took off normally, but suddenly banked to the left and crashed nose-first. The Bugatti 100p was a remarkable design… and remarkable designs have a history of being rather finicky.

As yet no news on the cause. But given that there were likely a number of cameras operating on the aircraft, and numerous cameras on chase aircraft and hand-held by ground observers, the cause probably won’t stay a mystery.

The third flight was apparently to be the last. After this it was to go to a museum in Britain.

 Posted by at 10:10 am
Aug 052016

The past couple days have been reasonably apocalyptic out here in rural Utah. A wildfire broke out Wednesday morning west of Plymouth, Utah (last I heard it was “human caused,” but no definition further than that), maybe twenty or so miles north of here. As Wednesday progressed I watched the plume of smoke get bigger and bigger, until later in the afternoon I drove off to go take a look. After nightfall the smoke cloud continued to progress, so that by Thursday 6:30 AM I woke up not being able to see my neighbors house. The wind shifted a bit and the air cleared some, but the smell of fire remains. This has done my lungs no good. So far, at least, no bronchitis has yet broken out, but wow do I have a headache.

I’ve taken a number of photos that might be of interest.

Two photos taken early 8/5 showing how a light down the way is scattered off the junk in the air. It’s got that “starry wisdom/gateway to somewhere you don’t want there to be a gateway to” look going on.

Dsc_4362 Dsc_4335

Early 8/4, low smoke cloud to the north lit by the fire.

Dsc_4280 Dsc_4303

Early 8/5, smoke cloud to the north and a light plume from lights illuminating a flag pole:


Panorama on the evening of 8/3 showing the smoke cloud working its way south

2016-08-03 pano 1

Panorama early 8/4

2016-08-04 pano 2

Panorama early 8/4 showing smoke cloud lit by fire

2016-08-04 pano 1

Evening 8/4, near Plymouth


Evening 8/3 showing smoke cloud to the north


Afternoon 8/3 near Plymouth

WP_20160803_027 Dscf7227

 Posted by at 2:56 am
Aug 022016

Dutchman flies to China to see online girlfriend, lives in airport for 10 days waiting for her to show

Well, that was dumb. The title pretty much says it: he flew to China to surprise his internet girlfriend, and she never showed up. The obvious conclusion to draw is that she doesn’t actually exist (“catfishing”) and was just someone’s joke or scam to string the guy along for some reason, but apparently she’s at least *kinda* for real. The story goes that they’d agreed to meet up after a year of online dating, but he couldn’t wait; he sent her a photo of his flight information, but she didn’t know what it meant. And even better:

She says that she was unable to meet Cirk when he arrived in Changsha because she was out of town, undergoing cosmetic surgery in Zhengzhou, Henan province

Good plan, dude. It seems like these Surprise Romantic Gestures only work in the movies.

Heck, he might have lucked out here. “Cosmetic surgery” covers a *lot* of ground. Maye she was getting a boob job. Maybe “she” was getting bits lopped off (you know what I mean). Who friggen’ knows.

And here’s the one bit of wisdom I can really impart. The guy in the story is not photographed at his best, but he looks *awful.* He looks like a cross between a modern-day meth head, a 1980’s AIDS sufferer and a 1940’s death camp survivor. I doubt he got there in just 10 days. Now, I’m certainly no expert on what women want, but in general it seems like “scrawny tweaker” is not high on the list. The photo of the Chinese woman in the article has her face blurred, but she otherwise appears to be Standard Hot Asian Chick. And here’s my wisdom: unless you’ve got buckets of cash on open display, if you are not a good looking guy, that chick on the other end of the internet Does Not Exist.

At this point I’m willing to entertain the idea that there are *no* women on the internet. Anyone who claims to be a women, especially if “she” seems to be interested in you, is actually a 40-year old fat guy living in his mom’s basement.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 2:35 pm
Aug 012016

I’m sure Putin is rubbing his hand in giddy expectation over this…

Reports Turkish troops have sealed off Incirlik US/NATO nuclear air base

It’s sad that a NATO nation is falling into outright dictatorship. But as we’re on the one century mark from World War One, *perhaps* opportunities are arising to fix some of the geopolitical mistakes of that war. At the end of WWI, the victorious European allies chopped up the former Ottoman Empire (and other areas of the Middle East) into a ridiculous hodge-podge of borders that cut existing political/religious/ethnic groups apart and stuck the chunks together with other groups that hated each other. Perhaps weh  all is said and done, Turkish Kurdistan can be set free to join up with Iraqi Kurdistan. And Constantinople can finally revert to Greece. That’ll be fun.

 Posted by at 12:05 am
Jul 282016


RIP Jerry Doyle, Babylon 5‘s Mr. Garibaldi

Aged 60. No cause of death yet. He was that rarest of things… a Hollywood actor who wasn’t a raging liberal. Plus he was freakin’ Mr. Garibaldi.


So, time to update the Babylon 5 Curse list:


Jerry Doyle, played Mr. Garibaldi, died July 2016.

Robin Sachs died February 2013, played a number of aliens… Narns Na’Tok, Na’Kal; Minbari Coplann and Hedronn

Turhan Bey, played the Centauri emperor, died in September 2012.

Michael O’Hare, who played the station commander Jeffrey Sinclair for the first season, died in September 2012, two days before Bey.

Jeff Conaway, played Zack Allen, died in May, 2011

Johnny Sekka, played Dr. Kyle in “The Gathering” pilot, died September, 2006.

Andreas Katsulas, played the inestimable G’Kar, died February, 2006

Tim Choate (Zathras) died in September, 2004.

Richard Biggs, played Doctor Franklin, died May, 2004

Paul Winfield, played Doc Franklin’s dad, died March, 2004




The Babylon 5 cast in their prime.

 Posted by at 7:45 pm
Jul 282016

In looking up Martin Mars videos on Youtube for the immediately preceding post, a number of irrelevant videos popped up, presumably dug up via some algorithm that makes sense to somebody. Now, I’m ok with “wrong” videos being pulled up from time to time; sometimes they are interesting. But I’ve noticed lately that I seem to be getting a *lot* of whacko conspiracy vids… and especially disturbing, “flat Earth” vids. It could be some Poe’s Laws thing in effect, with people *pretending* to be flat Earthers… but it’s getting harder and harder to not just automatically assume that anyone who looks like a nut is, in fact, a nut. The video below was something Youtube thought I’d like to see when I pulled up one of the Martin Mars vids. It’s actually a little painful. And since I’m a sharing, kind-hearted guy… I thought y’all would like to experience this particular flavor of idiocy. The guy claims that not only did we not land on the moon, we didn’t put the ISS into orbit. And on top of that, there are no satellites, either.

 Posted by at 6:47 pm
Jul 282016

It’s fun to watch the Bernie Sanders fans tear into Hillary… but it’s *terrifying* to realize that a sizable fraction of the US electorate actually wants the guy and his policies. Policies that are, at their core, every bit as delusional as those that have brought Venezuela low.

Animals go hungry in Venezuela zoos due to shortages

Not just “going hungry,” but around 50 animals have simply starved to death. Zookeepers have taken to trying to feed mangos and pumpkins to the lions and tigers… obligate carnivores.

 Posted by at 12:08 pm