Jul 112015

Every day from now until at least the 15th will present “clearest picture ever” of Pluto. But as it comes into view… man, there’s something a bit unsettling about the place. I’m hoping that the black spots are lakes.

New Horizons’ Last Portrait of Pluto’s Puzzling Spots


New Horizons’ last look at Pluto’s Charon-facing hemisphere reveals intriguing geologic details that are of keen interest to mission scientists. This image, taken early the morning of July 11, 2015, shows newly-resolved linear features above the equatorial region that intersect, suggestive of polygonal shapes. This image was captured when the spacecraft was 2.5 million miles (4 million kilometers) from Pluto.

Image credit: NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI

 Posted by at 7:12 pm
Jul 112015

Yello’s “Oh, Yeah” came out thirty years ago today. It was awesometime in the world of music.

Get off my lawn.

(This post was written and scheduled and forgotten March 4. Let’s see if I’m still alive in July! Has the world blown up yet? Do we have jetpacks and flying cars?)

 Posted by at 12:58 am
Jun 272015

Remember that demonstration you must have seen at least once in high school or junior high when your chemistry teach blew a cloud of something seemingly harmless like flour through a small flame, and created a big ol’ fireball?

Like so:


Seems like not everyone got the memo on that.

More than 225 injured in explosion at Taiwan water park

Seems a big cloud of powdered dye or paint or something was blown over a crowd at a concert. Result: firey hijinks.



 Posted by at 12:48 pm
Jun 262015

A blog reader provided this scan. It comes from the archive of the Imperial War Museum, and was all alone in its folder… what you see is all there is. It appears to show a rocket powered “rammer,” with a massive armored nose for slamming into enemy bombers. The pilot is provided with an easy-bailout ramp, presumably to be used after aiming his plane at a target but before impact (I would *not* want to be in at thing when the actual ramming occurs). Presumably dates to WWII. The style of drawing looks like a patent drawing. My guess is that it was a patent submitted by Just Some Schmoe during the war, and is not a serious concept by a reputable design firm, but I don’t know for sure. If anyone has firm data, please advise.


 Posted by at 4:09 pm
Jun 242015

Just as the future will provide technologies that are unknown today, there will be lawsuits that are unknown today. Your personal robobutler goes bonkers and steals your jetpack and crashes into the neighbors flying car, that sort of thing. Of course, that one is pretty obvious. But one occurred to me today that I wonder how far the legal system is away from dealing with…

Psychopaths and other assorted nuts have been in the news in recent years when they go off and shoot up a church or blow up a crowd. Of course lawsuits will come, as victims sue the criminals, but also of course there won’t be much to collect.

I doubt that it will be too long before genetic and/or hormonal tests are developed that tell you if someone is psychotic (and boy won’t that be fun when politicians are challenged to present test results). And not long after a test like that is developed, it will be refined to test embyros, either in test tubes or in utero. And here’s where things could get interesting.

Let’s say a couple decades from now Lil’ Jimmy goes bugnuts with a 3D printed phaser and evaporates half his classmates. As the lawyers cackle with glee as they rub their hands and dig through every financial record to see who can be sued for how much, they find that Lil’ Jimmy’s parents conceived artificially. And in the course of testing the embryos prior to implantation, it was found that one of them had the markers for psychopathology, and yet they went ahead with gestation.

So… can the parents be sued for  knowingly bringing a violent nut into the world? *Today* such a lawsuit wouldn’t fly as babies are by and large the products of random genetic mixing between the parents and nobody knows whether any particular embryo poses any particular risk to society. But it probably won’t be long before those change.

So when “designer babies” are a thing, or even just complete genetic readouts of embryos are a thing, will the creation of babies who have known genetic traits for dangerous behavior lead to liability on the parents part?

 Posted by at 10:13 pm
Jun 242015

Hard to tell just how serious some of these people are…

A Dinosaur Name in ‘Jurassic World’ is So ‘Racist’ That the Movie Has Come Under Fire

Specifically, the Pachycephalosaurus. There is a line in the movie describing some of them having gotten out of their enclosure: “The Pachys are out of containment.”

So, some schmoes have taken it upon themselves to get offended because some people over in Britainland hear “Pachy” as “Paki,” and see “Paki” as an offensive term for “Pakistani,” I guess in much the same way that “Brit” is an offensive term for “British.”

 Posted by at 5:08 pm
Jun 242015

London Tesco branch pulls Ramadan smokey bacon crisps promotion


Who doesn’t like bacon?

Realistically, there’s probably less actual pork in those Pringles as there is in the *air* in the can. I imagine the whole thing is 90% dehydrated tater, 9% salt, and 1% synthetic flavoring made using chemical elements not yet recognized in the periodic table.

I bet these’d go great with a haram sandwich. rimshot2

 Posted by at 9:48 am