Jun 282012

Given today’s ruling, I have some plans for new mandates:

1) Since the right to bear arms is universal, every American will be required to purchase at least one handgun and one long gun and a supply of ammunition (exact quantities to be determined later). Americans will of course have the right to opt out of this. But those who opt out will:

A) Be required to pay an annual fine tax penalty of $5000. The proceeds will be used to pay for the judicial system.

B) Be required to register with the government. This will include the requirement that they post, at their own expense, announcements in the classifieds of their local newspapers and post signs in their front yards or on their front doors explaining that “this home is unarmed.”

2) Since freedom of the press is universal, every American will be required to purchase the collected works of L. Neil Smith, Robert Heinlein, Ayn Rand, Charles Darwin, James Randi and H.P Lovecraft.

3) Since the need for oxygen is universal, every American will be required to own and live on at least 1/2 acre of their own property that is used for growing of plants, or otherwise pay a fine equivalent to the power bill of Al Gores mansion. High-density urban public housing units will be converted into empty fields.

 Posted by at 9:18 pm
Jun 282012

Utah south of Salt Lake seems to be on fire. This far north the only evidence is a haziness in the sky. It’s kinda visible in daylight, but at night it really stands out. The whole sky has a bit of a glow to it due to city lights and such being reflected back down. Not as night-sky-ruinous as being in a city, but it’s still noticeable. And looking south at night, the camera can really pick up the smog.

 Posted by at 3:32 am
Jun 272012

If you’re anything like me (and who wouldn’t want to be?), you have been frustrated by the dearth of hard info about the spacecraft and technologies shown in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey.” With a few exceptions, most of the stuff that has been published over the years has been either rehashed PR images, screenshots or outright guesswork. Piers Bizony’s “2001 Filming the Future,” published in 1994, has been just about the only good source for concept art, diagrams and other such imagery, but it remained pretty lean.

Since I started work on the Space Station V diagrams (described HERE), I’ve been interested in finding anything new on the subject. Of course after more than four decades, it’s hardly to be expected that much is left to find. One potential source is the recently published “2001: The Lost Science” by Adam Johnson, published by Apogee Prime. I bought it a few weeks back in the *hope* that there might be some good and/or useful stuff in it; hope was pretty much all I had as there were few reviews or descriptions out there. It showed up in the mail a few days ago… thanks, mailperson, for leaving it in the dirt at the side of the road. Feh.

Anyway: I’ve purchased a number of Apogee space books in the past, and they’ve all been fairly small-format paperbacks. Imagine my surprise to find that “2001: TLS” is the size of an old issue of Life magazine; finding a place for it on the bookshelves might be a bit of an issue. And it’s just as well that it is this large… it is loaded to the gills with high-quality imagery, including a lot of cleaned-up blueprints. Some of the “holy grail” blueprints remain lost… no overall views of the Discovery, none of the Space Station V. But there are essentially complete “deck plans” of the Discovery, including pod bay and centrifuge; cockpits of the Orion/Aries; Aries passenger deck plan and elevation; control panels; space pod, and others.

For me, the best/most annoying inclusion was, at long last, good diagrams of the Orion III spaceplane. This is not quite the Orion as it appeared in the movie… a few details are off, including antennae and a slightly different cockpit canopy configuration, but on the whole it lays the vehicle out nicely. Where it becomes annoying: Oh, Now You Tell Me. It gives full scale dimensions: 175 feet long (not counting the “spines”), and 85 feet span. This is notably smaller than the dimensions I’ve been using.

A decade ago, when I first started hacking away at the idea of a “2001 Tech Manual,” I tried to determine the sizes of the vehicles. For the Orion III, I started off assuming that the reported scale of 1/144 for the old Aurora plastic model kit of the Orion III was accurate. This produced a length of 165 feet, a span of 85. Not too far off, especially given how little interest model kit companies have often shown in sci-fi kit accuracy. After that, I read through Ian Walsh’s study of the Orion III, and how he came up with dimensions, and found his reasoning convincing. His dimensions are 213 feet length, 109 feet span. Much larger than what is apparently the “official” size of the craft. This would have implications for those who have the Fantastic Plastic model of the Space Station V; but at this point I’m just going to stick my fingers in my ears and hum real loud when anyone asks about that.

“2001: The Lost Science” is a bit pricey, at about $50. But I believe it is worth it. You can buy it from Apogee’s online bookstore (but not, sadly, from Amazon.com).

It is packed with illustrations. I am currently busy scanning a number of them, in particular diagrams, to help out with a few projects. But I won’t post them… here’s a case where if you want ’em, you should really go through the proper channels for ’em.



Adam Johnson, the books author, contacted me and answered a few questions:

1: Apogee is also selling the book on eBay (same price). This may be an easier purchasing option for some people. Look HERE.

2: More is coming out in a year or so. Details on exactly what, and in exactly what format, are currently under wraps.

 Posted by at 6:20 pm
Jun 272012

Here’s a fun video:

[youtube vnJBW49afzg]

What seems to be going on is a group of Christian and/or Jewish people are being physically assaulted by a very large crowd of Muslims at the Dearborn, Michigan “Arab Fest” in April of this year.

Now, a slightly deeper understanding would seem to indicate that the Christians showed up specifically to irritate the Dearborn Muslims, which is what you’d call a “dick move.” However, the Muslims (because, apparently, you can’t be an Arab and *not* be a Muslim) respond in the sort of dumbass third-world fashion we’ve come to expect from the Gaza Strip, with the throwing of bottles, rocks, chunks of concrete.

Especially thrilling is the behavior of the *children* that’s on display here. Basically, the same sort of feral profanity-laden asshattery that was on display on the bus in Greece, NY… but on a much vaster scale, with added physical violence, and with the parents not only right there, but *joining* *in.*

And to top it off, the cops are on the side of those who are actually being violent and breaking the law. Now, when the Westboro Baptist jackholes show up at a funeral with a bunch of disrespectful protest signs, the cops as a general rule do not threaten to arrest them. Why? Because marching around holding up a religious sign is *legal.* What’s not legal is throwing rocks at people who disagree with you.

 Posted by at 3:34 pm
Jun 272012

Didn’t I see this on Flash Gordon?

Picatinny engineers set phasers to ‘fry’

The Laser-Induced Plasma Channel is not actually a new idea. A laser beam is used to ionize a path through the air; a lightning bolt (for lack of a better term) is directed down that path to the target, or at least to wherever it finds a more conductive path.


The money quote:

“We never got tired of the lightning bolts zapping our simulated (targets),” said George Fischer, lead scientist on the project.

 Posted by at 2:03 pm
Jun 272012

Gummy bears: basically just sugar. What happens when you introduce sugar to molten potassium chlorate? Let’s watch!

[youtube 7Xu2YZzufTM]

I suspect you could get similar results by grinding up the gummy bear (cheese grater?) and mixing it with the powdered potassium chlorate and igniting with a lit strip of magnesium. If you melt the gummy, but not the PC, then you might be able to mix them together into an entertainingly energetic solid rocket propellant. Not that that would be a wise thing to do for most people, of course. If you try this and melt your face off, don’t blame me.

 Posted by at 9:56 am
Jun 272012

I haven’t read it, nor do I plan to. Doesn’t really seem like it’d be my thing (I haven’t heard whether Cthulhu or nuclear pulse propulsion makes an appearance). However… from the sounds of it, the Gilbert Gottfried audio book version might be worth getting…

NSFW? Oh, yes, indeed!

[youtube 5K1RcKJVbHA]

 Posted by at 9:32 am
Jun 262012

Western Kingbird again. On image 3642 and subsequent I upped the ISO to 1000 and dropped the exposure time to 1/4000 second in order to “freeze” it as clearly as possible. I’ve posted more over HERE.

 Posted by at 5:10 pm