Nov 242017
 

When you think of the sort of pet that people can be truly emotionally attached to, chances are *really* good you’ll think of either “cat” or “dog.” Any species other than those two, at least in the US, will either be far fewer in number or far less likely to be something you really bond with. A goldfish, after all, is more likely to be something more of a decoration than an entity you empathize with.

Me, I’ve had cats, dogs, ferrets. Bonded with all, mourned those who’ve died or left. I also had some Triops, some big brine shrimp sorta prehistoric monster critters; when they died, it was a disappointment, but not mournful. I’ve never had pet bunnies or sheep, but I’ve met such critters. Cute enough, but… meh. No connection. Why not? Because there was “nothing behind the eyes,” one might say. And… because bunnies and sheep are quite different from humans. They do not hunt. They have no “killer instinct.” They are… different from us.

Look at the natural world: the creatures we think of as being “smart” or ‘high up on the evolutionary ladder” tend to be vicious killers. Chimpanzees? Sure, they’re cute (-ish) when they’re young, but as adults they’re 600-pound murder machines who will rip your limbs, face and nads off. Dolphins? Sure, Flipper looks cute, but they will murder other species of dolphins apparently for fun. Orcas? OK, the alternate name of “killer whale” kinds gives it away, but they’re well known to play with their food. And their food tends to cute cute, fluffy-bunny seals.

Of course, “smart” isn’t exclusively the province of predators. Elephants are well known to be quite smart, with complex emotions. But… you tick off an elephant, and they turn into *giant* murder machines. They might not eat you, but they’ll kill you, and not purely for defense. They will attack other creatures simply because they’re ticked off.

So… being killers seems to correlate with making good pets… and with making them understandable. Of course it’s not a 100% match; go head and snuggle up with a shark if you want, won’t get you anywhere.

 Posted by at 7:04 pm
Nov 232017
 

A damned convenient way to get yourself dead during World War I was to pop your head up above a trench. But if you wanted to shoot the enemy, you kinda *had* to pop your head up above the trench in order to aim your rifle. Unless you had a rifle equipped with a periscope.

One such arrangement was the “Cameron Yaggi 1903 Trench Rifle” which added a complex and heavy mechanism to the 1903 Springfield rifle.The mechanism included not only a periscope and a 25-round box magazine, but additional levers to allow you to operate the bolt “remotely.” The end result is kinda spiffy, though cumbersome, and was not adopted by the US.

The modern equivalent would be to put a digital camera on the rifle, live video being directed to a eyepiece via a cable or Bluetooth.

 

 

Of course, many countries tried a similar setup. Here’s a trench Mauser that tries to do the same thing, but without the ability to work the bolt remotely.

 Posted by at 6:31 pm
Nov 232017
 

It turns out that women don’t want to date unattractive men. Shocking, I know.

Are looks more important than personality when choosing a man?

Physical attractiveness strongly influenced how women and their mothers saw the target men. The attractive and moderately attractive ones came up trumps. Men with the most desirable personality profiles were rated more favourably than their counterparts only when they were also at least moderately attractive. Even when unattractive men possessed the most desirable traits, the mothers and daughters did not view them as potential dating material.

“We conclude that a minimum level of physical attractiveness is a necessity for both women and their mothers,” says Fugére.

 

Of course, this is perfectly sensible. What people – taken in the larger bulk sense of the term – consider to be physically attractive *usually* correlates reasonably well with health and the ability to create, raise and sustain offspring in a world full of savages and cave lions and wolves and such.

 Posted by at 5:59 pm
Nov 212017
 

About 3/4 of an an hour ago I was in my driveway minding my own business when my west-facing two-car garage door started shaking violently, and for no readily apparent reason. No other “symptoms” were in evidence. I stood there like an idjit for a while, looking at the sky (no sign of interesting contrails), off to the west at the hill between me and ATK (no sign of smoke or bits blowing into the sky) and at the rest of the world (no sign of stuff falling over). Something like 15 to 30 seconds later, it happened again, the garage door shook like someone was physically banging on it. There *may* have been a slight swaying in the ground, but I wasn’t sure of that.

Earthquakes are nothing new, but rest assured that having sizable structures suddenly shaking by themselves is a little disconcerting.

So far the USGS website shows no earthquakes anywhere nearby. I called a neighbor and he reported a similar experience in his workshop, so at least it wasn’t just be going bugnuts. I wonder if it was something “funny” going on at ATK… a rocket test,a burnoff of propellant, a series of detonations. Hmmm.

 Posted by at 2:06 pm
Nov 202017
 

ESO Observations Show First Interstellar Asteroid is Like Nothing Seen Before

Asteroid 1I/2017 U1 (`Oumuamua) turns out to have been reddish – like a lot of outer solar system objects – and had a length-to-diameter ratio of about ten. Funky. Overall length of about 400 meters, no detectable gas or dust, indicating solid rock and/or metal. Tumble rate was once per 7.3 hours.

Irrational hypothesizing:

1: It’s Gungnir.

2: A starship, long dead.

3: A planet killer, badly targeted.

 

 Posted by at 6:04 pm
Nov 192017
 

I’m beginning to become more and more of the opinion that it just might be a good idea to segregate boys from girls in public school, at least up until junior high or high school. That way there’d at least be the potential of teaching kids in ways that are actually appropriate to them, and, much as it’s become popular to believe otherwise, boys and girls *are* inherently different in may important ways.

Take the source (“Prager U”) for what it’s worth, but there re some interesting points raised here:

I’ve long held the view, and expressed it on this blog, that standardized education isn’t for everyone. I don’t believe that society is best off by forcing everyone to stay in the same classes all the way through 12th grade. Some students would simply be better off if they were allowed the leave school some years earlier and be sent into some sort of trade; if nothing else, the *other* students wouldn’t need to be subjected to their bullying, criminality and stupidery. But as the video points out, there are good cases to be made for separating male from female lesson plans. Years ago I wrote about how some of the books I was forced to read in school damn near turned me off reading forever, because they’re just the wrong damned kind of books for me. But I do recall that at the same time I was struggling to give the very slightest of damns about “Sense and Sensibility” and “Little Women” and “I remember Mama” and “Wuthering Heights,” a lot of the girls in the class seemingly couldn’t get enough of it. But did we read Heinlein? Wells? Verne? Sun Tzu? Rand? Lovecraft? Oh, hell no.

Some might argue that it’s important to cram the “classics” into kids in order to “expose them to a wide range of literature blah, blah, blah.” But if the stuff you expose them to is stuff that they’ll *hate,* stuff that they’ll get little to nothing out of, what good are you doing? Chances are good you’re doing *negative* work. Not only are those students getting nothing out of the assignment and thus wasting their time and the teachers, they are also probably so bored that they’re kicking up a fuss that’s ruining the experience for those students who *can* get something out of it. So if there is a simple way to at least get a *crude* semblance of optimization out of the process – like, say, segregating boys from girls and letting boys be aggressive energetic little shits while the girls are, well girls – then huzzah, everybody is better off.

One common refrain is that at some point in the edumacation process, boys become aggressive in class. Not in the beating the tar out of people sense, but in the “Oooh, oooh, call on me, teacher, I know the answer” sense that modern progressives liken to “mansplaining” and “manterrupting,” while girls are less aggressive in that way. Well… fine. Then wouldn’t it be better to separate them? Teach them in the ways that’s best for ’em?

 Posted by at 8:55 pm
Nov 192017
 

On one hand, it’s always fun to watch the fascists on the far left tear each other apart over matters of ideology. On the other hand, it’s a little disturbing when you consider the unfortunate amount of political power they wield, and how their disdain for due process might well transform society.

So, in this case, we’ve got an actress I’ve never heard of accusing a writer I’ve never heard of of raping her some years ago. But unusually, the writer has a friend in the form of Z-grade actress and political idjit Lena Dunham. Apparently Lena knows the writer well enough to think that the accusations don’t sound right. Unfortunately for Lena, she had the unmitigated gall to actually mention that publicly. So… how’d that work out for her?

Lena Dunham Is Trash, Issues Apology For Defending Friend Against Rape Accusations

In today’s “some white feminists ain’t sh*t” news, Lena Dunham has proven once again that she’s a hot flaming garbage barge of trash, after defending a male writer on her defunct HBO series Girls, when it came to accusations that he raped a 17-year-old actress.

If history has taught anything, it’s that the most vehement hate is directed not at the “other,” but at the heretic. If this situation was clearly something that would stay internal within the members of the regressive left… hey, great, knock yourselves out, kids. But the problem is that it will (and in fact long has) bleed out into the rest of society. Someone makes an accusation? the accused is automatically guilty. Someone defends the accused? That defender is also guilty.

UPDATE: It gets even better. By expressing doubt based on experience, now Lena Dunham is a racist.

Zinzi Clemmons: ‘It’s Time For Women of Color…to Divest From Lena Dunham’

I don’t know who the hell most of these people are, but it’s all kinds of entertaining to see them tearing each other apart. They are trying to tear down western civilization, but they seem to be having some trouble keeping it together.

 Posted by at 9:51 am
Nov 172017
 

Hmmm

Men may not be clear on what sexual harassment is

2 in 3 don’t think repeated unwanted invitations to drinks, dinner, or dates is sexual harassment

OK, so the lesson here apparently is… if you ask someone out and they say no, NEVER ASK THEM OUT EVER AGAIN.

You gotta wonder what the end result of the acceptance of this sort of rule would be. Since first invitations often fail, it seems that the only people who would persist, and thus stand a chance of success, would be the rule-breaking kind. The rule-following kind would thus be preferentially locked out of dating success. *Unless* they took a different approach, and instead of repeatedly asking out the one person they actually like, they just ask out a whole bunch of largely random people. So, this sort of rule would seem to tend towards driving dating success for the “alpha” types and the “hookup culture” types.

Yeah, I’m sure that’ll work out great.

 Posted by at 3:57 pm
Nov 162017
 

Hmmmm…

Fisker has filed patents for solid-state batteries

So what makes this newsworthy? The claims:

  • 2.5 times the energy density of current batteries
  • A car would have a 500-mile range
  • It would take only one minute to charge that car
  • Cheaper than lithium ion batteries
  • Lower risk of fire

The target is electric cars. But 2.5 times the energy density means laptop batteries that last far long, cell phones that last for days, electric aircraft from drones to airliners, man-portable lasers and railguns/coilguns capable of meaningful performance.

 

 Posted by at 9:52 am