Mar 152018

Whether due to a lack of rigor in the design process, the manufacturing process or the construction process… *someone* didn’t run the numbers right. And as a result, people are dead. Honestly: anyone who argues against the value and importance of engineering rigor can go eat a bag of dicks.

FIU pedestrian bridge collapses days after installation; police say multiple deaths, cars trapped

FFS, people, this sort of thing shouldn’t happen. *EVER.*

The bridge was not open to pedestrians; it appears that it was not yet even finished being built. It was, in fact, a suspension bridge… but the “suspension” part of the bridge hadn’t been built yet:

It seems that they installed the one span… and then removed the supports from underneath it, leaving it supported only at the ends:

This plan seems…unwise.

And here’s another failure of rigor, in this case either the loadmaster not doing his job, or something wrong with maintenance. Cuz doors don’t just open in flight.

Gold bars worth millions fall from plane over Russia

If you’ve ever wanted to see what a runway looks like when it had hundreds of millions of dollars worth of gold bars scattered all over it look like, that link will hook you right up. In this case, it looks like the cargo fell out as the plane rotated for takeoff. The plane was able to promptly land at another airport seven miles away. They got lucky: while the idea of gold falling out of the sky has some romantic appeal, the fact it that a bar of gold would have a *really* *high* terminal velocity as well as a lot of mass. It would do a whole lot of damage if it fell from altitude onto people or property. And if things are so bad on the plane that stuff is falling out, the chances are that the load could shift enough for this sort of thing to happen (Bagram, Afghanistan in 2013):

 Posted by at 2:18 pm
Mar 122018

As embarrassing as Trump often is… imagine the alternative:

Oy. Nothing screams “American power and confidence” like clumsiness, fragility and dependency upon others to carry out simple tasks.

Also: feel free to insert a joke HERE about “a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” or other man-despising feminist yapping points. Note that this Strong Independent Woman needs *two* men. Note how Hillary’s aide Huma  *leaps* to her aid…


And because why not:


 Posted by at 7:39 pm
Mar 122018

So people are still fighting about Russia meddling in the 2016 election. It seems to be reasonably well established that they did so, though the claim that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians seems to be based on little more than wishful thinking. Until I see anything better, I’m going to continue with the assumption that the meddling *seemed* to be mostly anti-Hillary because everyone pretty much assumed she was going to win in a landslide, and the goal wasn’t so much getting Trump elected as it was just messing with the US democratic process and sowing internal dissent and strife for the purposes of generally weakening the US. Which is why the meddling continued well after the election.

Now that the requisite virtue signaling is out of the way… Putin tells us that it wasn’t the Russian government but, you know, those wacky Jews.

Trump-Russia: Putin criticised for Jewish ‘election meddling’ remark

In an interview over the weekend, Putin said of those who ran the troll farms and such:

“Maybe they’re not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship.”

Now, here’s the thing. Imagine this was in *any* other context. Instead of election meddling, the people involved were, say, bank robbers. Or an acting troupe. Or athletes. Or *anything.* And instead of Russians, they were Americans. Now imagine this statement:

“Maybe they’re not even Americans, but Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with American citizenship.”

Consider: if someone is Ukranian, or Tatar, or Jewish, or Irish, or Mexican, or Nigerian, or Innuit, or Ainu, or Gondorian or Alderaanian, but they have American citizenship… that means they are *American.* So how is it someone can have Russian citizenship but not be a Russian?



 Posted by at 12:08 pm
Mar 092018

Courtesy the leftie “Guardian…”

No hugging: are we living through a crisis of touch?

The fashionable freakouts over Bad Touching has led to an understandable withdrawal away from touching other human beings. Experts seem to agree that this is not only damaging to society and the psyches of adults, but it also seems to be causing *physical* damage to children.

In the UK, doctors were warned last month to avoid comforting patients with hugs lest they provoke legal action, and a government report found that foster carers were frightened to hug children in their care for the same reason. In the US the girl scouts caused a furore last December when it admonished parents for telling their daughters to hug relatives because “she doesn’t owe anyone a hug”. Teachers hesitate to touch pupils. And in the UK, in a loneliness epidemic, half a million older people go at least five days a week without seeing or touching a soul.

I hear tell that physical contact is common among humans, or at least it is so in societies that haven’t been frightened into insularity by the threat of legal action if you touch someone innocently but they don’t like it. A need for physical touch is biologically wired into the DNA not just of humans but other mammals; this was adequately and rather cruelly shown through experiments a few generations ago where baby Rhesus monkeys were taken from their mothers and given two choices: a metal wire “mother” that provided milk, and a soft cloth “mother” that did not.

Because the results of those experiments were a bit disturbing, click  to see the rest of the post and associated photos.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 4:11 am
Mar 062018

Trump is going on about wanting to put a 25% tariff on foreign steel. This can be immediately seen to be a bad, and potentially economically tragic, idea, since everyone else in the world will naturally respond with tariffs of their own, which the increased cost of foreign steel will drive up the costs of domestically produced products, while exports will decline.

It’s therefore probably a good idea to understand just why the US steel industry might need bolstering. After all, within living memory the US steel industry was the envy of the world. Important figures in Axis powers knew that tangling with the US was not a good idea due to our industrial capability. After WWII, if it was made of steel, it was probably made of *American* steel. So what the frell happened?

How the U.S. Squandered Its Steel Superiority

via Transterrestrial Musings

Short form: prior to WWII, the US competed with Europe and Japan to crank out the worlds steel. After WWII… not so much. The steel manufacturing capabilities of Europe and Japan had been reduced to smoking rubble, while US facilities were still roaring along. So the US kept on using what we had. This of course makes sense… replacing functional facilities with other facilities when you have no competition and your current facilities work just fine… that;s silly.

But thre was a problem: the US facilities were based on old, and soon to be obsolete, technologies and techniques. There were cheaper ways to make better steel. So when the Europeans started rebuilding their own steel manufacturing infrastructure, they wisely started not with the old ideas, but the new ones. Their new plants were better than the American ones, right out of the gate.

Had the US steel manufacturers upgraded, they could have kept up being economically competitive. But they didn’t. They kept using the same old facilities, right up until the Europeans stole the market away from them. Then the US steel manufacturers started screaming for protectionism from the government. Rather than evolving, they demanded protection from the natural environment.

This is not a unique occurrence. World War II trashed pretty much *every* bit of infrastructure in Europe, and so post-war they got to start from scratch. And as a result they got to change things up, often resulting in better systems. The same sort of thing happens from time to time with biology… Europe was a cultural wasteland, a hidebound mess of serfs and Church and aristocracy until the Black Death came along and pushed over all the walls and people rebuilt into a better world.

And it cane be seen today, within the US: look to space launch. SpaceX started from scratch, about half a decade ago, working on the BFR heavy lifter. It may well fly in just a few years, for perhaps a few billion in total development cost. At the same time, NASA’s SLS started a decade and a half ago and has spent enough already to run a good sized war, and with luck it’ll fly at about the same time as BFR, at a far higher per-flight cost, using old, Old, OLD technologies (the safe and arms used on the SLS boosters are likely the same used on the Shuttle boosters, and those were the same as those used on the Minuteman I ICBMS from the early 1960’s). BFR looks to be better in every respect because BFR is the result of competitive thinking; SLS is the result of Intelligent Design.

So what’s the best way for the FedGuv to help the American steel industry? I can think of a few ideas:

1: Get the Europeans to blow themselves up again. Exactly how to do that, I leave as an exercise for the student.

2: Start a few government programs to build a lot of stuff that requires a lot of steel. Interstate infrastructure – especially bridges – would seem a good choice… it needs doing *and* it’s actually within the Constitutional purview of the FedGuv. Also: a few hundred Ohio-class-replacement boomer subs, a few dozen new supercarriers, a few hundred small, fast carriers, a few thousand 4,000 to 10,000 ton Orion spacecraft, But her’s the thing: put a provision in there that the only steel to be used is American steel produced by top of the line steel production facilities (say, they have to use XYZ production method, or something demonstratably better). You want part of that ten trillion dollar, thirty year program? Then build a new foundry. You’ll not only make bank off Uncle Sam, but when your done you’ll have a competitive production capability.

 Posted by at 8:39 pm
Mar 052018

This seems to be an effort by a single professor to influence the educations of her students, but do not be surprised to see it expanded further in an effort to make STEM less… STEM.

Pomona Physics Requires “Decolonization” Project

The course is Physics 101, required by *everyone* intending to go forward in Physics. It was tainted with Leftist nonsense such as “learn and discuss implicit bias, microaggressions and other similar topics.”

I can hope that at least one student turned in a report that extolled the virtues of “colonization.” Because physics is physics across the universe, but the *understanding*of physics is a result of a fairly specific set of events and discoveries made by a limited set of cultures. That people in *other* cultures can understand and utilize physics is only possible because of “colonization.”

No Western Science… no science.


 Posted by at 2:15 pm
Mar 042018

National Geographic Just Sent Me a Crystal Healing Water Bottle

So Nat Geo is going to air a new documentary about Earth, and as part of their advertising, they sent boxes of stuff to journalists. That’s fine, I suppose. Get people who write about such things to become interested. If there was going to be a documentary about dinosaurs, you might expect the box to contain a book about dinosaurs, maybe a toy/replica dinosaur, some brochures about dinosaurs, a dinosaur poster…. that sort of thing. A documentary about Earth? One thing I would *not* expect is a glass water bottle with *another* glass bottle *inside* it, with the inner bottle filled with cheap gemstones because gems and crystals have Magic Healing Powers.

No, really. That’s what National Geographic sent.

The water bottle itself cost more than seventy friggen dollars, because apparently the world is full of rich assholes who think that magic rocks are A Thing That Works.

it contains “carefully selected and ethically sourced gemstones representing the building blocks of earth,” including “wood,” “water,” “earth,” “metal” and “fire.”

Ummm. The building blocks of Earth are iron, nickel, aluminum, oxygen and silicon, mostly. The planet is hardly made of “wood,” and the “water” is mostly a thin coating on the surface. “Metal” is a little vague, but I can go with it; “fire” is again purely a surface phenomenon, and there far less common than water. I guess they nailed it with saying that “earth” is a building bock of “Earth,” though.

Gems raise the energy level of water. That’s been known for hundreds of years and scientifically proven.

This makes me want to do unpleasant and antisocial things to whoever wrote that.

You know what actually raises the energy level of water? Heat.  You know what doesn’t? Putting room-temperature rocks into room temperature water. Unless those rocks are phosphorus or lithium or some such, the energy level of the water will remain essentially unchanged.

I looked up the water bottle. It’s available on Amazon for $78. It’s here in a normal blog post where I’d tend to put a link to the Amazon listing, a link that would earn me a pittance if someone actually bought the thing. But buggered if I’m’a gonna contribute to selling such nonsensical woo-based gibberish. You want to buy one of these things, you go look it up yourself. Maybe, like the National Geographic representative who responded to the journalist, you think this would make a funny, ironic gift for the science type in your life. Or maybe you think it’d be pretty. Those are valid reasons for spending your money however you’d like, no worse than buying a Pet Rock or a copy of the latest Hillary Clinton book for use at the range. But if you actually think that putting a sealed container of inert rocks into a water bottle will do *anything* to materially improve the water… well, I’ll be diplomatic and say “ahhh… no.”

For your rage-reading edification, I went to the website of the water bottle company, and here’s some of what they say:

Following age-old traditions, we created gemstone vials to hygienically inspirit drinking water.

“Hygiencally inspirit?” “Inspirit???” I had to look that one up. Guess whether or not it even has a listing on Go on, guess.

We offer several different gem blends, tested by naturopaths and based on the insights of modern crystal healing. Their scientifically proven efficiency make them an essential accessory in health-seeking households worldwide.

Naturopathy is humbug on par with homeopathy. “Modern crystal healing” should not be used adjacent to “scientifically proven” unless there is a properly placed “not” in there.

There are several “gem pods” you can buy, each with supposedly their own utility, from “wellness” to “love” to “inspiration.” Then there’s the “Forever Young” gem pod:

Forever Young


Water is the elixir of life! The gemstone blend is designed to attract clarity, purity and fluidity like a natural mountain spring on a crisp clear day. If your personal detox practices are important to you in these hectic times, the Forever Young blend offers an additional dimension of energetic cleansing. Aventurine has been used for regenerative and reviving purposes, aquamarine for cleansing and smoky quartz for stress relief. In the natural healing arts, this combination of aventurine, aquamarine, and smoky quartz provides an invigorating cleanse of body and mind.


And for the big spenders:



Diamonds are a GemWater lover’s best friend. The most precious gem on earth was believed to channel divine energy and was reserved only for kings and queens. Our customers say that no other GemWater tastes as intense and apollonian as this exclusive blend. Try it once and you’ll never again drink ordinary tap water. It also makes a perfect gift for that special someone you treasure most in your life – it is as unique as a diamond ring or a precious necklace. This blend is truly jewelry for your water!

“Apollonian?” Are they suggesting that water that has been near some chunks of quartz will now taste like the god Apollo? Now, I’m no expert on the Hellenistic gods, but I don’t immediately recall that people were constantly running up to Apollo and licking him or taking bites out of him. (I seem to recall that a few miles to the south-east of Greece the people there had themselves a god who came in the form of crackers and booze…)

Now, if this all sounds disturbingly familiar, it’s because I barked about something much like this before. As recently as September, in fact, I pointed out a “Psychic Vampire Repellent” which was the same basic idea… a few bits of colorful rock chips in a spray bottle, the rocks supposedly making the water in the spray bottle magical. Some ideas not only never die, they never stop being profitable.

So, once again I find that my attempts at earning an income by earnestly and honestly creating products that are both of reasonable quality *and* fact-based (well, except for the *fiction,* of course) are a fools errand. There is clearly much more money to be made in bilking the suckers. And now “the suckers” seems to include “National Geographic.”

 Posted by at 9:55 am