Aug 312015

Boeing art from the late 1970s depicting the construction of a base in low Earth orbit, which in turn would be used to construct components of solar power satellites, which would then be slowly boosted to geosynchronous using electric propulsion. Even though the base would be dwarfed by the SPS itself, the base was monumental in scale compared to any other manned space facility proposed before or since.

SPS construction

The artwork (scanned from a brochure that was folded down the middle, thus there’s a half-repaired fold line) depicts not only a Space Shuttle orbiter, but also the second stage of a ballistically recoverable Heavy Lift Launch Vehicle.

I have posted the full-rez version at the APR Patreon Extras Dropbox folder for 2015-08 (while it’s 2015-09 now, the file began the process of uploading at 11:59 PM by my watch, so…). If interested, please check out the APR Patreon and consider joining. Lots of benefits!


 Posted by at 11:19 pm
Aug 312015

Here’s something you don’t see every day. Two guys fishing on the Warrior River in Alabama were surprised when not one but two kittens decided that their boat was the place to be and swam out to ’em.

Most cats will avoid people. Every now and then you find one that comes to you. Those cats… they’re keepers. All my cats have been like that. But I’ve never had one *swim* to me. Makes you wonder what the back story is here. Also makes ya wonder what the update is here… hopefully the kittens will find themselves some good homes. One story says that a family offered to adopt them, but doesn’t say if they actually did.

 Posted by at 5:17 pm
Aug 312015

If for some reason you’re looking for an actual animal from the actual fossil record that’ll make you go “huh,” then Atopodentatus should probably do the job for you.

Atopodentatus was a reptile from the Triassic, found in China and described in 2014. On the whole it looked like a more or less standard aquatic reptile, something like a big iguana… but there was something really, really wrong with its head.



Scary as this beast looked, that funky jawline full of fangs would have been largely harmless to anything much bigger than a bug. It seems this thing was a filter feeder, using that immobile vertical “mouth” in its upper beak as a trap for the worms or shrimp or whatever it likely scraped up from the mud on the ocean floor.

Still: yeeeesh.

 Posted by at 2:11 pm
Aug 312015

Never mind dubious, possibly phony-bologna ex-Soviet nukes… here’s something I can actually use:

Boeing’s “Silent Strike” portable laser weapon, two kilowatts of directed energy on a gimbal. Useful for shooting down drones. Possibly also handy for long-distance magic tricks (use your imagination… can you think of anything that might benefit from suddenly spiking to two thousand degrees?).

 Posted by at 10:23 am
Aug 282015

Both from the Daily Fail, but still…

The inoffensive everyday phrases used by reporter Alison Parker that earned her a death sentence because Flanagan deemed them ‘racist’


University of Tennessee tells staff and students to stop using ‘he’ and ‘she’ – and switch to ‘xe’, ‘zir’ and ‘xyr’ instead


So, what links these two? Both are cases of people who are defined by their ability to be offended by the inoffensive. Both are cases of people who think that the imagined  slights they wrap their lives around are so serious that they feel the need to take it out on others. Both are likely pointers towards the society of tomorrow where wholly *insane* people control the very words people use.

 Posted by at 5:44 pm
Aug 282015

The concept of “anchor babies” is much in the news lately. The idea is simple… non-US citizens get into the US via means  legal or otherwise, have a baby on US soil, the baby is automatically a US citizen (via “birthright citizenship”), and now the family is “anchored” to the US and can’t be deported. And now that they’re anchored here, they can bring in even more family.

Lots of people have a problem with this, and for good reason. In the US, birthright citizenship is established via the 14th Amendment, a fact I’ve heard a lot of talking heads dispute. Some want to amend the Constitution to remove birthright citizenship for illegal aliens; others claim that the 14th Amendment doesn’t actually provide birthright citizenship for illegal aliens, that we only *assume* it does because the Supreme Court has ruled that way. But there’s a problem… what the Amendment actually says:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States” is really freakin’ clear.

Now, you might not like the fact that the 14th does, in fact, provide for birthright citizenship of the children of illegal aliens. But… it does. That’s the way it’s written. It might not have been what the writers of the amendment had in mind, but that doesn’t matter; all that matters is what the Constitution says. Re-interpretting a clearly written clause to mean something it clearly doesn’t mean is some rat-bastard skulduggery and should be wholly avoided. So, what to do?

First option would be to amend the Constitution to simply point out that birthright citizenship is only for those whose parents, at least one of ’em, was here legally at the time of birth. To be blunt… this ain’t gonna happen. Amending the Constitution in a way that would deny a whole bunch of future Democrat voters? Not going to pass.

There is, however, a simpler solution. Accept the reality of birthright citizenship. Accept the new citizens into the fold. And… kick their parents out. This is in fact the way the current legal system seems to see it; a minor US citizen cannot sponsor a family member to come into the US legally until the age of 21. So just because the kid is a US citizen means *diddly* about legalizing the parents.

Many have complained about deportations because they “break up families.” Well, boo friggen’ hoo. If a mother and father make a habit of robbing banks, the justice system isn’t going to decide against jailing them because they have kids. So, give the illegal alien parents a choice: sign over their kid to the US to go into the foster system, or take the kid with them back to their homeland. Eighteen years later the kid can return on his/her own as a US citizen, but that doesn’t mean he/she can bring other family members.

To do otherwise would be to accept that the US immigration code rewards criminal actions. I believe pretty much everyone will agree  that if a law it written so that criminality is rewarded, that law ain’t right. Changing the US code to preclude the *families* of birthright citizens from profiting from anchor babies would seem far easier than amending the Constitution.

So it seems to me the best way to deal with anchor babies is to simply enforce the immigration laws as they currently are: deport illegals when they’re caught. Simple.

Another issue about anchor babies is that a lot of people seem to assume that this is a phenomenon sorta specific to illegals from Latin America. But the majority of illegal aliens as a whole seem to be coming not from the south, but from the west… Asians coming to the US legally and overstaying their visas. Additionally, “birth tourism” seems to be a phenomenon largely Chinese in origin, where pregnant Chinese women legally come to the US on “vacation” and stay long enough to give birth, giving their child US citizenship. And then… they and their child return to China. The idea seems to be that 18 or so years later the kid can come to the US and claim citizenship and then being the process of sponsoring the parents. This seems to be a dubious prospect… why would a kid necessarily *want* to do this? It is at the very least thinking in the very long term.

 Posted by at 3:30 pm