Mar 082017

… here are two Thunderf00t videos discussing recent projects that have consumed lots of money but which were based on bad science, bad math and bad engineering.

The self-filling water bottle remains a stumper to me. The basic idea is quite simple: a solar powered dehumidifier. Not exactly staggeringly new technology. Yet, the math behind the concept is available and accessible for anyone to do… and the math shows that the idea is *monumentally* impractical. And still people shovel truckloads of cash at these efforts.



 Posted by at 5:12 pm
Mar 032017

Recently there have been a lot of antisemitic weirdness in the US. Vandalism (including knocking over gravestones), graffiti, and a whole lot  of bomb threats against Jewish community centers and schools and such. Predictably, these acts have been glommed upon by the political yammering heads… claims that these are the result of neo-Nazis/white supremicists  somehow being “emboldened” by the election of Donald Trump have been pretty common.

Finally, an arrest has been made. And hoo boy, does the accused not fit the narrative:

Ex-journalist arrested over US Jewish centre threats

The feller arrested is one Juan Thompson, a 31-year-old Missourian. The Official Preferred Narrative would have had Mr. Thompson being a Confederate flag-waving Trump-worshipping racist white redneck… but, sadly, he’s not really fitting that description all that well. It seems he fits the “racist” part of it reasonably well… but his racism is directed *at* whites.


It seems that Mr. Thompson was sending out bomb threat after bomb threat to sow actual terror… but not necessarily at the Jewish centers, but at his former girlfriend. It seems that he was attempting to frame *her* for these acts because he’s, y’know, a nutburger. It’s very likely that the best decision the ex-girlfriend ever made was getting the heck away from this guy.

He’s an entertaining headline:

Disgraced Left-Wing Reporter Charged With Making Several JCC Threats in Plot to Frame Ex-Girlfriend

The “disgraced”  comes from some actual “fake news” that Mr. Thompson produced during his time as a journalist. He seems like a real piece of work… “fabulist” seems a rather understated descriptor. He seems to have been utterly delusional:

Before Bomb Threats, Juan Thompson Unraveled — and Terrorized an RFT Reporter

Perhaps most impressive, Mr. Thompson wrote articles about Dylann Roof (the racist white guy who shot up a black church a couple years ago), in which he interviewed Roof’s cousin Scott Roof. Scott provided details like the fact that Dylan was normal until he started listening to White Power music, which warped his tiny little mind. There’s one small problem with the story, though… no such cousin as “Scott Roof” actually exists. This sort of thing led to him being a “former” journalist.

Juan Thompson is no stranger to controversy

Now, Mr. Thompson is not suspected of being responsible for all of the antisemitic acts and threats lately. It’s thought that he’s just a copycat, and that there are a number of other scumbags out there doing this nonsense. But I think he is instructive in pointing out that when it comes to scumbaggery, politically useful narratives can *easily* be dead wrong. Especially when we live in a world populated by actual crazy people.

 Posted by at 5:29 pm
Mar 012017

If you’ve been wondering how the party of fear-mongering and authoritarianism was going to respond to the idea of private American companies going to  space and the moon, I believe we have us an early test balloon:

Congressional candidate: Moon-colonizing companies could destroy cities by dropping rocks

One “Brianna Wu” scientifically embarrasses herself, but likely improves her standing with the Luddites, by claiming that “Rocks dropped from there have power of 100s of nuclear bombs.”

Now, on one hand this is true. If you fling a big enough rock from the surface of the moon, it could hit the Earth with kinetic energy similar to the total energy of a nuke. But there’s the thing: in order to do that, you need to *impart* damn near a nukes worth of kinetic energy in the first place. Simply chucking a rock  from the lunar surface at lunar escape velocity (about 2.4 km/sec) will not put that rock on a trajectory to the Earths surface, but rather just in a very wide  orbit , basically the same orbit the moon has. You’d need to cancel out the orbital velocity, another kilometer or so per second. From there the rock would “fall” to Earth, picking up speed and smacking down with no more than Earth escape velocity, or no more than 11.2 km/sec. So, by accelerating a rock to about 3.5 km/sec, you get it to hit the Earth at about 11 km/sec.

Sounds great for a weapons system. At 11 km/sec, the kinetic energy of one kilogram of rock (or anything) is 60.5 megajoules. One single kiloton of yield is defined as 4.184 terajoules. So to get a kiloton of bang out of a lunar rock, you’d need to launch (4.184 terajoules/60.5 megajoules) 69,157 kilos of rock. Lobbing a seventy-metric ton rock to 3.5 kilometers per second is a non-trivial act. Plus, you have to assure that the rock not only hits the target via accurate guidance, but survives passage through the atmosphere.

But Wu didn’t just say that a rock would have the power of a nuke, but “hundreds” of them. So… let’s say 100 times Fat Man, or 1.5 megatons. That would require the launch not of 70 metric tones, but 105,000 metric tons. The USS Nimitz displaces about 100,000 metric tons. So according to Ms. Wu, the threat posed by the likes of Elon Musk is that he will toss aircraft carriers off the surface of the moon.

Ms. Wu then went on to claim that any criticism of her rather unrealistic fearmongering was due to sexism, and to then decry the militarization of space. Because apparently a few tourists going around the moon will be able to grab chunks of moonrock the size of a carrier battle group and hurl it at Earth.

Silly as her fears are, I won;t be the least bit surprised if they gain traction, and this is used as the basis of an attempt to shut down private spaceflight in the US… or at least to nationalize it “for the children.”

Thanks to blog reader SE Jones for heads-up on this miserable little story.

As always, feel free to check my math.

 Posted by at 7:43 pm
Feb 212017

Here are two more images to haunt your dreams and harrow, yes, your very soul. Two ads from the early 70’s that demonstrate not only tragic notions of what makes good mens fashions, but also incomprehensible notions of how to sell said fashions. I’m guessing that this was a result of the fetish for “machismo” that filled the 70’s… not so much actual masculinity as a theatrical parody of it.

Pictures after the break to protect fragile minds.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 1:41 am
Feb 172017

Ugh. I feel several points dumber for having watched this. I shudder to imagine how idiotic I’d feel if I paid money to see the full thing.

It is pretty sad that so much time, effort and resources are expended on patently false nonsense. More than a century after the facts become universally available that shoot down the pillars of the argument here, people still trot this rubbish out. Sigh. But then, centuries after communism was shown to be disastrous, people still trot it out. Millenia after the Earth was shown to be spherical, flat Earthers still exist. Astrology. Ghost hunters. Dowsers. It seems that being objectively, provably false just makes some ideas immortal.

Especially sad that it is readily shot down, line by line:




 Posted by at 11:41 pm
Feb 172017

Yay, modern toys! I don’t recall the talking dolls from *my* childhood posing this problem…

German parents told to destroy Cayla dolls over hacking fears

Short form: looks like your standard plastic doll for little girls. Has some electronics in it… electronics that include a Bluetooth device that is hooked up to the internet. It can understand speech and will hold conversations with the child… apparently not unlike Siri or other modern voice recognition systems. On one hand, it is an obvious application of technology that is now several years old. On the other hand, it’s new enough that the basic idea still seems pretty creepy just on its own. But it gets better: apparently the Bluetooth system is not very secure and is readily hackable. This means a few fun possibilities:

  1. It can be turned into a listening device.
  2. Since it can talk, a hacker could use it to tell your children… things.

Imagine *that* one. A young child has a beloved talking toy that suddenly starts telling the child subtle and evil things. “Mommy doesn’t love you anymore.” “You’re too fat.” “Tell Daddy to vote for the Democrat.” “Pour gasoline on the puppy.” “Satan is your friend.” “Allahu ackbar.” “Give your little brother a special hug with the kitchen knife.”

Yeeesh. No wonder the German government is telling parents to simply destroy the thing.

 Posted by at 6:27 pm
Feb 132017

One of President Giant Middle Finger’s campaign promises was to fix up Americas rather decrepit physical infrastructure. If there were any doubts that things are troubled, the dam in Oroville, California, seems to be working overtime to dispel them.

Oroville Dam Spillway Failure: Nearly 190,000 Ordered to Evacuate

This is especially depressing when one considers the tens of trillions that have been squandered over the decades on useless and downright counter-productive social welfare programs. Imagine what we could have done if, say, half of the Medicare expenses had instead been spent on infrastructure. And the space program, so long as I’m dreaming.

This is a dam in California. One wonders if it would be currently having these problems if California and San Francisco and the like had spent there money not on making bums comfortable, but instead putting them to work. A few thousand drugged-up homeless equipped with shovels and notified that “you want lunch, you do work” could have moved a whole lot of earth over the last few decades.

 Posted by at 3:52 pm