Jul 312012

Had a long conversation with a friend today where we both came to the conclusion that the US is pretty much doomed, and it might be too late to change that. What is it that’s dooming us? Well… we’re stupid. As a nation, we’re loaded to the gills with fricken’ morons. Sure, we have a whole bunch of really smart people. Sure, the average American you’re likely to run into most places is perfectly sensible. But we, like every population ever, have a whole bunch of really stupid schmucks. Normally that’d be ok; but we as a society not only go out of our way to assure that people are insulated from the effects of their own stupid actions, we *subsidize* the stupid to make even more stupid people.

This is a relatively new event in human history. Hell, this is a new event in *American* history. The 1927 Buck vs. Bell Supreme Court upheld the right of the State to forcibly sterilize the mentally unfit. At the time, the United States had been busily sterilizing the crazy, the mentally retarded, and the just plain weird or unlucky, under the then-popular concept of eugenics. Of course, the Nazis came along and ruined the idea by going overboard with it. But consider: we live in a society where you need governmental permission and/or licenses for damn near everything. Want to buy a gun or a dog? Many places require a license. Want to build an addition onto your house? Better get permission. Want to grow your own food and sell it? Better get a bunch of licenses. But want to have a baby? Hell, you don’t even have to take a class.

As a libertarian, I’m not suggesting that we need to license baby-makin’. But at the same time, giving people money to have babies is *insane.* If you are doing so poorly that you need government assistance to care for your kid… you shouldn’t have *more.* As Oliver Wendell Holmes said in the Buck vs Bell decision:

We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. …  Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

The idea of the government grabbing people that they don’t like and operating on them is offensive. That said… the idea of the government putting a condition of tube-tying onto long-term welfare seems to me to be entirely appropriate. But the problem is… there are far too many people who have been sucked into a life of dependency. More than half the adults in the US pay no federal income tax; IIRC more than 40% of the population gets money directly from the government in some form. And virtually all of them have the unimpeded right to vote.

While it’s certainly true that being intelligent is no sure way to financial success, it’s a safe bet that being stupid is a good way to wind up on the dole. For far more examples than you can stomach, turn on on reality TV. “Hardcore Pawn,” “Bait Car” and the like  put on display the worst and *dumbest* elements of society. And with that level of dumb comes a massive sense of entitlement… a car left nearby becomes “my car,” a ten dollar video game console becomes something they think they should get $200 for for no better reason than that’s what they want. And when people don’t accommodate them, violence and threats of violence are pretty much the very next event.

The US has gotten to the point where it is very likely impossible to reverse the dumbing-down of our people. The government and its functionaries have grown fat and powerful on programs that have subsidized the expansion of poverty, and we have tens of millions of people who are convinced that they are *owed* a comfortable living from the government. Hell, the state of California simply hands out debit cards that people can use for virtually anything (and what they can’t get directly, there are con artists who can game the system for you). Anyone who suggests cutting just the rate of growth in welfare programs is immediately marginalized as “heartless,” “greedy” or “racist.”

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So when we have a culture where a potential majority of voters feel entitled to goodies obtained through the government, and this majority is only going to grow under this system, and the system preferentially selects for  the dumb gene… how the hell do we fix this? I’m not an optimist by nature, but here I just cannot dredge up *any* real hope.  Eventually the system will have to change, one way or the other… and one of those ways may well be armed rebellion. A civil war with a mass of unskilled, uneducated , unethical and unstrategic morons on one side, and a smaller population of reasonably intelligent people on the other… I dunno. It might end up that the eugenics programs that ended with World War II will catch up with a vengeance. Or it might end up like Kornbluth’s “The Marching Morons,” where a tiny minority of the competent struggle to maintain order in a world filled with idiots that breed like bunnies. Or it might end up like “Idiocracy,” where the entire population has been reduced to moron status, with society being kept barely functional under the control of antiquated computerized systems built when there were still people capable of building such things.

In any event, I’m rapidly losing what little hope I had in the future. The final collapse may well not come until I’m old or dead, and in that time a great deal of good can be done. As in… getting human civilization offworld. Space will be a frontier again, something we’ve not had for a century. And frontiers are notoriously unkind to idiots.

The last million years have seen humanity become increasingly intelligent. This was due to the wonder of natural selection. But the last century, in particular the last nearly fifty years, have replaced natural selection with artificial selection, and the selection has not been directed towards the creation of a “better” human, just *more* humans. And sometimes “quantity” is not better than “quality.”

So if you have ideas, feel free to jump in. If you think I’m wrong, tell me why.

 Posted by at 7:59 pm
Jul 312012

Some illustrations from a 1979 McDonnell-DouglasF-15 armament handbook illustrating the pointy end of the F-15: the M-61 20mm Vulcan Gatling gun.

The M-61 could send several different rounds downrange, including target rounds, armor piercing and high explosive incendiary.

 Posted by at 5:20 pm
Jul 312012

Some panoramas from the last few weeks.As with most of the panoramas I post, these are reduced to only 15% their original size. If interested in a full size print, let me know.


 Posted by at 12:39 pm
Jul 312012

Movie theater employee sees a man carry a gun into the theater and calls the cops. When they show up, and can’t find they guy, they stop the show and ask the guy with a gun to stand up. Three stood up

Which references this news article:

3 people carry guns into movie theater in Putnam County

Note: these three were legally carrying concealed. The theater has a “no guns” policy, but a sign that was legally too small to be noticed. Nobody got in trouble with the law, because the local law was not crazy enough to assume that gun = criminal.

 Posted by at 10:26 am
Jul 312012

This plane flew over today:

This is the best of a bad lot of photos. It sounded like a WWII bomber, but it’s clearly single engined. It seemed to be heading towards Brigham City.

 Posted by at 12:50 am
Jul 302012

Two very large format (one was 36X120 inches) blueprints of the Boeing 2707-300 SST were up on eBay. I bid, and lost badly. So, I won’t be scanning them and making them available, sadly.

So, in lieu of high rez scans, here’s what you get: a coupla photos.

See, this is what happens when you don’t tithe a donation to me on a  regular basis: I don’t have the funds to go nuts on the buying of neato aerospace stuff. So my assumption here is that these blueprints have been sold back to Boeing, who will store them in a deep dark place never to see the light of day again until they are fed into a shredder.

Sadly, I’m only kinda kidding.

 Posted by at 11:15 pm
Jul 302012

When “The Hobbit” was originally announce as two movies, I thought that was stretching things a lot. It’s just not that big of a book. But it got stretched out by filling in a lot of details that weren’t in “The Hobbit” the book by including stuff from the appendices of “The Lord of the Rings,” which gives information on what some characters were doing during “The Hobbit,” such as Gandalf off with his wizard brothers fighting Sauron. Well, I guess the team behind the two Hobbit movies decided there was enough material for *three* movies.

‘Hobbit’ trilogy confirmed by Peter Jackson, Internet rejoices

 Posted by at 11:01 pm
Jul 302012

A three-view of the April 1962 configuration of General Dynamics’ TFX entry. This is very clearly the F-111, but with a few minor differences. The most obvious are the different inlets and the tail “cone.” Here, it appears that at least for the USAF version, the tail cone was meant to angle downwards… presumably forming a ventral fin to aid in stability (or perhaps aid in maneuverability).

Other design features that would change include the profiles of the dorsal and horizontal stabilizers.

 Posted by at 1:22 am
Jul 302012

Fingers looking up at Raedthinn. I’ve never seen a critter more determined to be with and gain the attention and affection of another critter. At the risk of anthropomorphizing  the cat… she’s in love with Raedthinn. Sadly for her, the feeling is not mutual… he’d be happier if she just let him alone.

 Posted by at 1:16 am