Mar 312010

I’m currently reading “Call Me Joe” by Poul Anderson in the April, 1957 issue of Astounding Science Fiction magazine. I’m only a few pages in, but something about it seems vaguely familiar… humans have travelled to a distant gas giant; there they find a world with a toxic atmosphere, so one human, who is confined to a wheelchair, hooks himself up to a machine that reads his mind and projects his senses down to the planet, where he inhabits a blue-skinned alien. When the alien body is tired, he unplugs from it and the alien goes to sleep, and he come sback to his wheelchair-bound human body.

Gosh, that sure seems familiar…

Anyway, I noticed this ad on the back cover. If you take the quiz, you get a reservation for a trip to the moon. A hokey ad gimmick, to be sure… but it’s sad to think that in 1957, the average sci-fi reader was closer to seeing a human walk on the moon than a sci-fi reader of 2010. Gah.

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This seems related to this.

 Posted by at 11:48 pm
Mar 312010

During the Clinton years, the “dangerous right wing militia” was all over the news. Once Bush was elected, they seemed to vanish from the press. Now that Obama is President, they seem to have come roaring back. How much of this is due to the militias actually evaporating during the Bush years, and how much of it is due to the more extreme stories of whackjob militiamen being useful to the left-leaning press during Democratic Presidential administrations, I’ll leave as an exercise for the student.

 Either way, the press is going to start running story upon story of “dangerous right-wing militia groups.” So I think it’s important for people to know how to spot a militia member. Let’s face it, you wouldn’t want such dangerous folk to go walking about without some sort of way to recognize them. So, let’s see how Title 10 of the U.S. Code defines “militia:”

§ 311. Militia: composition and classes

(a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.

(b) The classes of the militia are—

(1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and

(2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

So, there ya go. Every able-bodied man between the ages of 17 and 45 is a militiaman.

Go forth and panic in the streets.

 Posted by at 11:04 pm
Mar 312010

One fighter design that I’d love to see authentic blueprints of is the McDonnell XP-67. Ahead of its time aerodynamically, it suffered from underwhelming engines and came just too late… right at the beginning of the jet age. I’ve heard rumors of jet-powered variant designs, but I’ve never seen any verifiable drawings of such a thing. In lieu of official diagrams, these are the best I have… drawings produced for magazines by non-McDonnell artists. The sources on both of these are unknown to me, but they probably date from the 1950’s. Bjorn Karlstrom, one of the artists, was a designer for Saab, and drew aircraft for magazines starting in the late 1930’s.

A one-sheet XP-67 diagram:


And a three-sheet series:




 Posted by at 9:23 am
Mar 302010

What an odd thing to find out about yourself…

I’m not the messiah, says food activist – but his many worshippers do not believe him

What he had written off as gobbledygook suddenly turned into something altogether more bizarre: he was being lauded by members of an obscure religious group who had decided that Patel – a food activist who grew up in a corner shop in Golders Green in north-west London – was, in fact, the messiah.
Their reasoning? Patel’s background and work coincidentally matched a series of prophecies made by an 87-year-old Scottish mystic called Benjamin Creme, the leader of a little-known religious group known as Share International. Because he matched the profile, hundreds of people around the world believed that Patel was the living embodiment of a figure they called Maitreya, the Christ or “the world teacher”.
His job? To save the world, and everyone on it.
“It was just really weird,” he said. “Clearly a case of mistaken identity and clearly a case of people on the internet getting things wrong.”

Psshhhhh. Silly religious nutters, they don’t know who the *real* Messiah is…

However, it looks like his politics come close…

Patel’s career – spent at Oxford, LSE, the World Bank and with thinktank Food First – has been spent trying to understand the inequalities and problems caused by free market economics, particularly as it relates to the developing world.

His first book, Stuffed and Starved, rips through the problems in global food production and examines how the free market has worked to keep millions hungry (Naomi Klein called it dazzling, while the Guardian’s Felicity Lawrence said it was “an impassioned call to action”).


 Posted by at 9:57 pm
Mar 292010

This is frakkin’ stupid:

Earle, who’s been a stand-up comic for more than two decades, was the volunteer master of ceremonies at amateur night at a Vancouver restaurant in May 2007.

Lorna Pardy and her same-sex partner had moved to seats near the stage after the patio closed. Pardy’s lawyer says as they spoke with the waitress they were bombarded by a series of gay slurs courtesy of Earle.

“When you heckle me and you’ve been disrespectful through the whole show, I come from the George Carlin school of dealing with a heckler,” he said in an interview. “So yeah, I shoved it down their throat and that’s what you do.”

Pardy’s complaint says Earle’s actions violate Section 8 of the B.C. Human Rights Code. The code says a person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification, discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public.

The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal is expected to hear the case through Thursday.

Pardy is seeking damages in the neighbourhood of $20,000.

Asked if he regrets what he said to Pardy, the comic answered he’s more careful now that he knows there’s “an incentive program for hecklers.”

“My joke now is that when somebody heckles me out of the darkness, I peer through the lights and ask, ‘I’m sorry sir, before I respond to you, can you tell me if you are part of a protected group?’ “

Ye gods.

 Posted by at 2:37 pm
Mar 292010

As if it wasn’t bad enough getting this crap from the Islamojihadis, now we’re getting it from the Christian godbotherers…

Nine members of a self-described Christian militia group, including one from northwest Indiana, are accused of plotting to kill a Michigan police officer and then stage an attack on other officers attending his funeral.

Members of the group, the Hutaree, plotted to attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with “improvised explosive devices” and “explosively-formed projectiles,” the U.S. attorney’s office said. According to a federal indictment, members of the group view local, state and federal law enforcement as the “brotherhood,” their enemy. The plot dates to August 2008, the indictment says.

 Posted by at 12:40 pm
Mar 292010

Star Trek: Voyager premiered in 1995. There were a number of primary female characters:
Captain Janeway: irritating.
Engineer Belanna Torres: Scary semi-Klingon chick
Kes: Supposedly cute, but since she was only four or so years old… not a sex symbol.

After three years, Kes, who was not the draw for the pimply male demographic that the producers had hoped for,  was booted off the show and replaced with the catsuited Borg character Seven Of Nine. Seven’s sole purpose was bucka-bucka-wow SEXSYMBOL. Seven:

Seven of Nine was played by actress Jeri Ryan, who prior to this was basically an unknown (one season on a one-season minor sci-fi show). The reason why her last name was Ryan was because she was married to one “Jack Ryan.” However, the two divorced in 1999 for reasons left largely unexplored publicly, although stress from separation due to Jeri’s work in Hollywood, CA on ST:V was claimed to have been a major part (Jack Ryan worked in Chicago). Notable also is that shortly after the divorce Jeri Ryan dated ST: Voyager producer Brannon Braga.

In 2003, Jack Ryan ran for an open US Senate seat from the state of Illinois on the Republican ticket. The two Ryans decided to allow the divorce records to be made public, but not the child custody records. Nevertheless, those records were also released by LA Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider, showing that the reason why Jeri had wanted a divorce from  Jack was because he wanted to do some, er, decidedly non-Traditional Family Values stuff with her in public venues. (So did most Star Trek fanboys who saw her in that silver catsuit.) Still, the release of this selacious info was enough to torpedo Jack Ryan’s run for the Senate; his spot on the Republican ticket was taken up at the last minute by noted nutjob and inevitable loser, Alan Keyes. Thus the election was won by another relative unknown, a twenty-year veteran of the Trinity United Church of Christ, an avowed “black liberation theology” institution. Given the complete disaster that was the Republican run for the Senate that year, the Democratic party didn’t really need to try very hard, and the candidate was able to basically walk in on the promise of Hope, Change, charisma and a complete lack of any real knowledge of him by the public. He did essentially the same thing four years later in a run for a somewhat higher office.

 Long story short, Jeri Ryan’s work on Voyager contributed to her getting a divorce. The divorce eventually led to Jack Ryan dropping out of a Senate race, which was then easily won by Barack Obama who used it as a springboard to the White House.

There are two good lessons to be drawn from that:
1) If the selection of a space-elf only a few years old to be the sex symbol on a Star Trek series can have massive and completely unpredictable long-term real-world consequences… then any long-term plan that relies on the future being predictable in detail stands a damned good chance of failing spectacularly.

2) Jack. Dude. Yer married to Jeri Fricken’ Ryan. You get to do the horizontal mambo with the hottest chick in Sci Fi EVAR. Be happy with that. Otherwise your libido can ruin not only your political career, but also the national economy for decades to come.

 Posted by at 1:43 am
Mar 272010

On the way out of Logan yesterday I happened upon the scene of a car accident. It was clearly some time since the ac tual accident; work crews were already on site to fix up the mess.

 Not sure what the story was, but a car has to be going at a pretty good clip to shear off a telephone pole at the ground like this, I would think. It had just snowed… which, given the relatively warm ground, didn’t stick at all, so maybe that had something to do with it. The right rear tire was also flat… I’m not sure how that would’ve happened in relation to the accident, unless the tire ran over a shard of the pole or something.

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 Posted by at 6:06 pm
Mar 262010

Much of 2001: A Space Odyssey‘s design work was claimed to have been influenced by actual design work being done by NASA and its contractors. The work pod, for example, sure looks a whole lot like this Boeing concept. One major difference between the Boeing and 2001 designs, though, is the unusual recessed window seen on the 2001 pod. I’d never seen anything quite like it… until I saw this 1961 NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center concpet for a large, 10,000-pound pressurized lunar rover. The front window is a dead ringer for the 2001 pod’s window. Additionally, it also bears a slight resemblance to the “moon bus,” especially the cutaway views. I would not be the least bit surprised if the 2001 designers were given drawings of this vehicle, perhaps these drawings, and took a few design elements.

The window would seem to provide a pretty awful view of the terrain ahead. Still, it’s kind of a neat design. Max speed, 9 mph, range about 280 miles and mission duration of 30 days with a crew of two.




 Posted by at 8:45 am