Nov 242012

Well, this is a hell of a thing:

Billion-Ton Comet May Have Missed Earth by a Few Hundred Kilometers in 1883

Manterola and pals have used this to place limits on how close the fragments must have been: between 600 km and 8000 km of Earth. … This implies an average of 131 objects per hour and a total of 3275 objects in the time between observations.

Each fragment was at least as big as the one thought to have hit Tunguska. Manterola and co end with this: “So if they had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.”

The evidence for this seems a little thin, but it’s of course hardly an impossibility, and the results had things been a little different would have been catastrophic. A shotgun blast of cometary chunks like this would be virtually impossible for us to deal with today; 130 years ago, it would have been simply beyond conception.

 Posted by at 8:08 pm
Nov 242012

This is pretty slick. Due to the eccentricity of the moons orbit, libration appears fairly pronounced. You don’t notice it when you look up at the virtually fixed moon at night, but with a year compressed into 5 minutes, it becomes clear.

[youtube 5YXhnQcoyOw]

 Posted by at 5:43 pm
Nov 242012

Atheist billboard, promoting Freedom From Religion Foundation, defaced with devil’s horns

Who *didn’t* see this coming???

Let’s face it, though… as vandalism goes, that’s both witty and economical.

The thread on this is loaded with other examples of some quality sign defacement, including what *has* to be one of the top five all-time best vandalisms:

And a few I hadn’t seen before:

 Posted by at 5:13 pm
Nov 242012

If you happen to have an hour and forty minutes to spare, you could do far, far worse than to spend it watching the 2012 Ig Nobel prize ceremony. This is how science should be celebrated.

[youtube R_XH9IaDFtU]

One of the aspects of staggering genius is the mechanism they employ to keep the speakers on schedule… Miss Sweetie Poo.

If’n you like science and laughing, this is for you.

 Posted by at 2:23 am
Nov 232012

After months of being no more than a dim blur after nightfall, in the past month or so “Mystery Cat” has been hanging around the house a lot. Fluffy Brother *hates* Mystery Cat with the heat of a thousand suns, but I’m starting to wonder if maybe Mystery Cat is a female who has the hots for FloBro in much the same way Fingers has he hots for Raedthinn. If so… yet another example of unrequited love.

Mystery Cat most assuredly does *not* have much use for me… best I can get out of MC is growling and running away. Shrug.

 Posted by at 5:40 pm
Nov 222012

Some lessons apparently need to keep being learned, over and over. So, once again, the story of Thanksgiving:

The Plymouth colony was originally set up to be a Christian commune. As governor Bradford related in “Of Plimoth

1. The adventurers & planters doe agree, that every person
that goeth being aged 16. years & upward, be rated at 10li.,
and ten pounds to be accounted a single share.
2. That he that goeth in person, and furnisheth him selfe
out with 10li. either in money or other provissions, be accounted
as haveing 20li. in stock, and in ye devission shall receive a
double share.
3. The persons transported & ye adventurers shall continue
their joynt stock & partnership togeather, ye space of 7. years,
(excepte some unexpected impedimente doe cause ye whole
company to agree otherwise,) during which time, all profits &
benifits that are gott by trade, traffick, trucking, working, fish-
ing, or any other means of any person or persons, remaine still
in ye comone stock
untill ye division.
4. That at their coming ther, they chose out such a number
of fitt persons, as may furnish their ships and boats for fishing
upon ye sea; imploying the rest in their severall faculties upon
ye land; as building houses, tilling, and planting ye ground,
& makeing shuch comodities as shall be most use full for ye

5. That at ye end of ye 7. years, ye capitall & profits, viz.
the houses, lands, goods and chatles, be equally devided be-
twixte ye adventurers, and planters;
wch done, every man
shall be free from other of them of any debt or detrimente
concerning this adventure.
[29] 6. Whosoever cometh to ye colonie herafter, or putteth
any into ye stock, shall at the ende of ye 7. years be alowed
proportionably to ye time of his so doing.
7. He that shall carie his wife & children, or servants, shall
be alowed for everie person now aged 16. years & upward, a
single share in ye devision, or if he provid them necessaries,
a duble share, or if they be between 10. year old and 16., then
2. of them to be reconed for a person, both in trasportation
and devision.

8. That such children as now goe, & are under ye age of
ten years, have noe other shar in ye devi~ion, but 50. acers of
unmanured land.
9. That such persons as die before ye 7. years be expired,
their executors to have their parte or shaff at ye devision, pro-
portionably to ye time of their life in ye collonie.
10. That all such persons as are of this collonie, are to have
their meate, drink, apparell, and all provissions out of ye comon
stock & goods of ye said collonie.

In short, the land was to be worked communally, and the produce distributed equally. Two centuries before Marx, this was nevertheless a perfectly valid description of “communism.”

How’d it turn out? Well… in 1623, Bradford wrote this:

The experience that was had in this comone course
and condition, tried sundrie years, and that amongst
godly and sober men, may well evince the vanitie of
that conceite of Platos & other ancients, applauded
by some of later times; that ye taking away of
propertie, and bringing in comunitie into a comone
wealth, would make them happy and florishing; as if
they were wiser then God. For this comunitie (so
farr as it was) was found to breed much confusion &
discontent, and retard much imploymet that would
have been to their beneflte and comforte. For ye
yong-men that were most able and fitte for labour &
service did repine that they should spend their time
& streingth to worke for other mens wives and chil-
dren, with out any recompence. The strong, or man
of parts, had no more in devission of victails & cloaths,
then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter
ye other could; this was thought injuestice. The aged
and graver men to be ranked and [97] equalised in
labours, and victails, cloaths, &c., with ye meaner &
yonger sorte, thought it some indignite & disrespect
unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to
doe servise for other men, as dresing their meate, wash-
ing their cloaths, &c., they deemd it a kind of slaverie,
neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon ye
poynte all being to have alike, and all to doe alike,
they thought them selves in ye like condition, and one
as good as another; and so, if it did not cut of those
relations that God hath set amongest men, yet it did
at least much diminish and take of ye mutuall respects
that should be preserved amongst them. And would
have bene worse if they had been men of another
condition. Let none objecte this is men’s corruption,
and nothing to ye course it selfe. I answer, seeing all
men have this corruption in them, God in his wis-
dome saw another course fiter for them.

In the end, it was found that communism bred not plenty, but famine. If you get your share whether you bust your ass in the fields, or just laze about all day, pretty soon people are going to realize that they are being played for chumps if they actually go and bust their asses in the fields all day. And the result of that will be a massive drop in productivity; and in a razors-edge colony on the far end of the map, this is a recipe for disaster.

As a result, the colony rethought its communist ideology:

All this whille no supply was heard of, neither knew
they when they might expecte any. So they begane
to thinke how they might raise as much corne as they
could, and obtaine a beter crope then they had done,
that they might not still thus languish in miserie. At
length, after much debate of things, the Govr (with
ye advise of ye cheefest amongest them) gave way that
they should set corne every man for his owne per-
ticuler, and in that regard trust to them selves; in all
other things to goe on in ye generall way as before.
And so assigned to every family a parcell of land,
according to the proportion of their number for that
end, only for present use (but made no devission for
inheritance), and ranged all boys & youth under some
familie. This had very good success; for it made all
hands very industrious, so as much more corne was
planted then other waise would have bene by any
means ye Govr or any other could use, and saved him
a great deall of trouble, and gave farr better contente.
The women now wente willingly into ye feild, and
tooke their litle-ons with them to set corne, which
before would aledg weaknes, and inabilitie; whom to
have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie
and oppression.

The result here was that going from collectivism to private ownership resulted in a massive increase in productivity, and the end of the famine. With the assitance of the Indians in matters agricultural, the coloney went froma dying group of starving commies, to a prosperous group of feasting private property owners. If you’re of a mind to believe in God, then the deliverance from Communism is certainly something to be thankful for. The Pilgrims lucked out… a more typical story would have the totalitarian government maintaining the communist ideology until complete disaster struck. But the colony was too thinly populated for a Pilgrim-KGB to maintain order through force.


 Posted by at 12:52 pm
Nov 222012

More importantly, white New Zealanders are a distinctly different racial group from white Australians. Who knew?

Guilty of racism, the woman who called a Kiwi a fat Aussie

Calling someone Australian ruled by a court as a racist insult after a neighbour mistakenly abused New Zealander during drunken row.

The woman in question comes off as a real piece of work. But come on… “Australian” is a racial insult? I can only imagine what these people would’ve thought when during my college days, I called a Scotish student “an Englishman in a skirt.”

 Posted by at 12:12 pm