Mar 312015

Some weeks back, the American news media found a new obsession: frat boys singing a racist song on a bus. Those few seconds of video of kids acting like dumbasses were broadcast an uncountable number of times, jabbered about by talking heads nonstop, and splashed all over newspapers and the internet. As a result, college careers were disrupted, some ended, and undoubtedly careers were ruined before they began.

Another story has very recently hit the news: a short video showing a guy riding a subway train is approached, asked about a political issue and when he refuses to express an opinion is beaten by several people while the rest of the passengers on the subway stand back and laugh. Obviously since I’m linking to a news item on it, it’s getting *some* press. But here we have a story that’s more than “singing on a bus with racial overtones,” we have “physical violence on a train with racial overtones.”

St. Louis man assaulted on public transportation after declining to discuss Michael Brown

A secondary thought: what we have here is violence perpetrated upon a person ostensibly because he refused to give a political opinion. This would therefore seem to be violence against certain political views. Is that not terrorism? Well, two of the perpetrators have been arrested, which is good… but what do you think the chances are that terrorism charges, or federal hate crimes charges, will be applied here?

But my main prediction: the stories that have already been published about this incident will prove to be pretty much *all* that is published about this incident. Unlike the “racist song on a bus,” this case that featured actual crimes, actual violence and an actual victim, as well as being one incident in what is an actual real problem in society, this story won’t be splashed all over everywhere.

 Posted by at 10:05 am
Mar 302015

The idea of antibiotic-resistant bacteria fills me with an uncomfortableness. A cut or an unfortunate fluid-swap that could leave you with a virulent bug that medical science can’t effectively is bad enough. But now our single-celled little buddies might be getting enthusiastic and ambitious…

Humans at risk for airborne ‘super bugs’

In a study slated for publication next month, he and Texas Tech University colleague Greg Mayer may have made their biggest discovery yet: DNA from antibiotic-resistant bacteria in cattle feedlots is airborne.


 Posted by at 10:54 pm
Mar 272015

A major purpose of the APR Patreon is to fund efforts to procure and preserve some of the interesting aerospace ephemera that pops up on ebay. I have scored some stuff, but other items have slipped through my fingers. Such as this auction:

NASA’s Space Shuttle Orbiter Original Engineered Plans, Pictures and Artifacts

shuttle1shuttle2 shuttle3 shuttle4 shuttle5

See, now, this is pretty much *exactly* the sort of thing I’d like to go after. There was just one small problem with this auction. A minor trifle, rally, hardly worth mentioning…

Starting bid:
US $25,000.00
So…  where can I find 25,000+ people willing to pitching in at least a buck a month?
 Posted by at 6:47 pm
Mar 262015

Germanwings Co-Pilot Deliberately Crashed Airbus Jet, French Prosecutor Says

After a review of the cockpit voice recorder:

1) The pilot and copilot conversed normally until the plane reached cruising altitude and the pilot left

2) The copilot (one Andreas Lubitz, German 28 years old) was heard breathing normally from then on, but remains otherwise silent

3) When the pilot tries to get back into the cockpit, he has been locked out. The door is normally locked, but the crew have keypads to get in… but the pilot had been *intentionally*

4) Passengers can be heard screaming just before the crash

There are no indications that this was religious terrorism. The copilot remained silent during the 8 minutes he was alone; if it was terrorism, you’d expect the pilot to be babbling something akin to “Surt if Awesome” before murdering the plane. Additionally, you’d kinda wonder, if it was terrorism, why the pilot aimed for a mountain rather than, say, a city. But if it wasn’t terrorism… just what was it?

 Posted by at 8:59 am
Mar 252015

Is the universe on the brink of collapse? Study says catastrophic event is ‘imminent’

Holy crap! They said that the collapse of the universe is “imminent!” Did they really say that?

THE “catastrophic collapse” of the universe may be “imminent”, scientists have predicted.

Oh noez! Not “imminent!” I have stuff to do next week! What will human society do knowing that the universe could collapse at a moments notice? What would even be the point of waking up and goign to work? How long until civilization completely collapses?

In tens of billions of years – a relatively short time in cosmological terms – physicists claim the universe will soon stop expanding and collapse on itself, obliterating all matter as we know it. 


 Posted by at 11:05 pm
Mar 252015

Ladies: if you want to know why “feminism” has turned into a term of derision among a great many guys, read this:

Feminists told to use jazz hands at conference because clapping ‘triggers ANXIETY’

Organisers at the National Union of Students Women’s Conference made the request after some delegates reported feeling anxious during audience applause.

The NUS Women’s Campaign tweeted from its official account: “Some delegates are requesting that we move to jazz hands rather than clapping, as it’s triggering anxiety. Please be mindful!”

I have no doubt that there are some people who might have a panic attack or the like at the sound of a room full of applause. But here’s the thing: you don’t help these people by “appeasing” their weakness. Indeed, by going along with this request to not applaud, what you are doing is empowering the problem.

It’s a symptom of a much wider problem in society. Some people don’t like certain images, words or ideas… so society tries to cover up or outright ban those things to protect the delicate sensitivities of the more damaged members of society. And what do you end up with? The numbers of people who are easily offended seem to *grow.* And since there have been successes at banning certain expressions, those who wish to ban *other* expressions have that much more ammunition.

If you have anxiety issues so that applause makes you go bugbuts, here’s my thought: don’t go where there will be a lot of people applauding. Or, better yet: go. And toughen yourself up. Inoculate yourself to the thing that causes you trouble but which is perfectly normal in society.

Personal example: more than a  decade or so ago, I went to the doc to get some allergy tests, to try to figure out just what was going on with my lungs. Fortunately, the tests for allergies to cats (and birds, and horses, and dogs, and other critters) came back negative. But the test for various foods and plants? Hmmm.

The test is pretty straightforward: a nurse applies a grid to your forearm (I’ve heard other use the back). In each square, a small drop is applied This fluid is distilled essence of allergenic evil from, say, cat dander or ragweed pollen or whatever. The nurse then gently pricks the skin with a fine needle under the drop. Wait a few minutes; if you have an allergy, the skin under the drop will grow a little bump. The nurse goes away for something like ten minutes, leaving you to watch your arm in suspense.

In the case of my “plants” test, suspense turned to concern. A *lot* of little bumps started rising up. And they kept rising. Then they merged like small towns becoming a metroplex. Then tendrils reached out and started to wrap around my arm, looking for all the world like I had a small spawn of Cthulhu growing under my skin. When the nurse popped her head in the room and asked how I was doing, I held up my arm and asked “is this normal?” The fact that she *screamed* and ran away suggested to me that it was not. The specialist was on the scene moments later. No harm done, but man, did that itch.

Basically, if it’s a plant, I’m allergic to it. Another more limited test was done on foods, with the same sort of result. One of the first food-bumps to rise, and the one that seemed to be the worst, was “peanut.” I recall being amused by that since for lunch I had had a PB&J sammich. I grew up eating peanuts. Hell, I just had a handful a  few minutes ago. Apparently I am deathly allergic to the damn things… but they don’t bother me in normal concentrations. Why? Dunno. But I can bet that it is because I’ve eaten so many of them that my system has gotten used to them. You know what would not have benefited me any? Demanding that everyone around me avoid peanuts. Not only would that have made me (more) unpopular, it would inevitably fail. One day, after living peanut-free for years, I’d bit into a cookie made with peanuts, or someone with peanut butter on his breath would talk to me… and I’d go into anaphylactic shock.


Sure, I can understand not applauding at a feminist convention, just on general principles. The whole shindig just sounds *dire.* But replacing applause with *jazz* *hands*? Bah.

 Posted by at 8:07 pm
Mar 252015

Huge asteroid capable of wiping out entire country is on near-collision course with Earth


A mammoth asteroid measuring 1,000-metre wide in on course to narrowly miss Earth within days, NASA predicts.

The object called ‘2014-YB35’ is predicted to skim the Earth on Friday travelling at more than 23,000 mph in space.


Any impact would trigger devastating changes in the climate, earthquakes and tsunamis.


Ohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrapohcrap! Whatever shall we do? However shall we survive? Should I start butchering random hobos and turning them into jerky to sustain my pack of mutant attack cats through the years-long fimbulwinter which is to come? Can no-one save us?

This rock is forecast to pass within 2.8 million miles – a tiny distance in astronomical terms – of Earth on Friday



 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Mar 232015

An artists rendering of a solar power satellite under construction. This idea was popular for a while in the mid/late 1970s during the energy crisis, and generally called for satellites generally compared in size to Manhattan island.

This image was apparently created by NASA in 1976. The thinking at the time was that these structures could certainly be built within the 1990’s; I often wonder at what the people who were working on them would have thought at the time had they somehow found out that, nearly 40 years later, precisely zero effort would have been made to see SPS come to pass. A higher-rez version is available HERE.

sps construction

 Posted by at 11:39 pm
Mar 212015

Here are two fun items:

Ethnic Minorities Deserve Safe Spaces Without White People

Where it is libsplained that when ethnic minorities declare a place to be a “safe space,” they can exclude whoever the hell they like for whatever reason they like. In this specific instance, it was a “Racialized Students Collective” meeting at Ryerson University in Toronto that expelled two white journalists for being white.

The Law of Unintended Consequences makes for some interesting speculation. Are you a Christian baker of wedding cakes and you don’t want to make cakes for same-sex weddings? Why… your shop is a “safe space” where you need not allow non-Christians (Christians being a minority world-wide, the reasoning works). A library is a “safe space” from filthy bums. The “Racialized Students” were meeting not in a private residence or a business, but in a campus facility. This indicates that publicly accessible spaces can be shut off for racial – and thus presumable gender, religious, philosophical, political, etc. – reasons.

The author of the piece, a fourth-year-should-know-better student in journalism, agrees that someone simply stating that whatever’s going on is a “safe space” can effectively stifle the press and prevent them from reporting on it. Granted, Canada isn’t the US, so “freedom of the press” doesn’t exactly have the same meaning there, but it’ll be interesting to see if the Canuckpress actually buys into that “reasoning.” Imagine if Rob Ford, during one of his rambling weird press conferences, had suddenly shouted that the place was a “safe space” for drugged up whackos and that the press should stop reporting.

This being Canada, and me not being Canadian, I Officially Have No Opinion on whether the idea of racial segregation in Canadian “Safe Spaces” should be permitted. However, I *do* have suggestions in case it is. Journalists of excluded races should make a basic token effort to gain entry. And when not allowed in… speculate. Delve into the deepest heart of old-school yellow journalism. What are they doing in there? What do they have to hide?? We have heard rumors of planned bank heists, crystal meth being cooked up, animal sacrifices. Are they performing female genital mutilation behind those doors? Worshipping Cthulhu? Cloning Hitler? WE JUST DON’T KNOW!!!

And further south…

Person Putting “Whites Only” Stickers Around Austin Turns Out to be Liberal Social Justice Warrior

Color me stunned.

 Posted by at 4:06 pm
Mar 202015

Well, here’s a nice big splash of cold-water sadness for ya:


It’s an artists blog. The art project: a collection of photographs that were sent to him that the original owners found “to hard to keep.” Basically because the photo brings up some unfortunate memory or the like. But the trick is that no stories come with the photos… just the photo. Some are pretty obvious to understand the source of pain. Some you can probably guess. Some are mysterious and intriguing. Some are no help at all.

 Posted by at 5:21 pm