Oct 272015

Walmart is selling a children’s ‘Israeli soldier costume’ for Halloween (toy gun included)

Walmart have sparked outrage by selling an children’s Halloween costume of an Israeli soldier.

And this is a problem… why? I’ve seen kids dress up as astronauts, cops, firefighters, US soldiers. So why would Israeli soldiers be a problem? If they were dressing up as Hamas or Hizbollah or the Waffen SS, sure, I can see how that might offend.

But then, the article was written in the nanny state of Britain; perhaps the writers thinking was that the UK will soon fall to the Caliphate and he’d better get in on some early boot-licking.

 Posted by at 10:53 pm
Oct 272015

Ok, long story short: yesterday I came into possession of a cat named “Bruce.” I did not seek out Bruce; I just wanted to mail a box at the post office and wound up with a cat. Bruce had been in an apartment, but when the landlords told the people “no cats,” their response was to just kick the cat out onto the streets.



Anyway, I found a new home for him with one of my neighbors (four cats is several too many, realistically)… until her husband came home and nixed the idea. And so Bruce was delivered back to my house.


And then I found another home; slight difficulty in that that home is 1200 miles from here, but that’s not insurmountable. Apparently United and Delta will both transport critters.


So today I took Bruce to the vet for the standard checkup. And as it turns out… Bruce has feline leukemia. Spectacular. This nixes the distant home, since there is another cat there, and I don’t want to deliver a “special needs” cat there.


So now I have cat number five. He will be permanently quarantined in the basement, what with the transmissible fatal virus and all. This is not terribly fair to him, but it’s the best I can do. I’m going to try to find him another home, but I’m foreseeing some difficulty there. It seems to me that any household that loves cats enough to take in a cat that a few years from now will start requiring extra medical care will probably already have cats. So, uhhh… anybody want a cat?


Bruce is an astonishingly friendly cat – with humans. With other cats he is extraordinarily antisocial; under the circumstances, that’s just fine.  So unless I can find him a good home, he’s going have his own apartment in my basement. It used to be one of my computer rooms; it will be again so that he won’t feel like an abandoned cat… again. This can only last a little while. Eventually the leukemia will kick in, and I’ll be forced to do something I really don’t want to do (again).WP_20151027_017

The AMC series “The Walking Dead” has repeatedly  made a point of showing awful consequences of characters showing any sort of soft heartedness. While I have so far managed to avoid being consumed by zombies, here, once again, an attempt to do A Nice Thing for an abused animal leads to a gut-punch.

 Posted by at 6:43 pm
Oct 272015

Future temperature in southwest Asia projected to exceed a threshold for human adaptability

By 2100, the region of Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Iran, and Saudi Arabia should have normal summer temperatures of 113 degrees; but due to increased humidity, the temperature index should reach 170 degrees with some regularity.

Note to Europeans: you *really* need to get ready. Where do you think all these people are going to go? If you think they’re *not* heading for Russia or India, ask yourself why that might be, and if there are any lessons to be learned.

 Posted by at 4:32 pm
Oct 272015

Northrop Grumman Wins Air Force’s Long Range Strike Bomber Contract

Presumably this will be the “B-3,” but who knows. Supposedly they’re shooting for an initial operational capability of 2025, some 70 or so years after the B-52, 39 years after the B-1, 28 years after the B-2. Assuming that it somehow doesn’t suffer delays.

Boeing and Lockheed lost the competition. I would expect them to sue; this seems to be the standard response to a loss. Unless the contract gets yanked from NorGrum, this will leave only them and Lockheed as manufacturers of new manned combat aircraft; Boeing hasn’t built  a new fighter since the unsuccessful X-32 or a bomber since the B-1 (in the form of Rockwell). The F-22, F-35 and the LRSB/”B-3″ are very likely to be the last manned high performance combat aircraft designed in the US for the next… what? Twenty years? By that point there’ll probably be nobody at Boeing left alive who had a hand in designing a combat aircraft that actually entered service. Few enough at Lockheed; the F-35 was designed circa 2001

No data on the configuration or performance.


 Posted by at 4:03 pm
Oct 272015

As religion declines, Norway turns to ghosts to fill the void

In Norway, the native population is quickly losing its religion, turning to agnosticism and atheism. While this would seem a triumph for rationalism, at the same time the Norwegians are losing their faith in the Christian God, they’re glomming onto a belief in ghosts. Anecdotes include the popularity of the Norwegian TV show “The Power of Spirits,” now in its tenth season and watched by approximately ten percent of the country.

It seems  that humans may well just be built to assume the supernatural. If not a god of some kind, then some other spooooky critter. My guess is that this is an evolutionary holdover. The *vast* majority of humanity’s time on Earth was spent in pre-history, living in “stone age” conditions. During that time, life was a constant struggle for survival, where ever rustle in a bush was potentially a predator going to jump out and eat you. So mankind must have evolved certain responses such as a mix of curiosity and fear. These would, it seems to me, potentially lead to the development of the belief in the supernatural as a way to explain an incredibly complex world in a way a smart-yet-primitive human could accept. Some Weird Event occurs; blaming it on the spirit of an ancestor really doesn’t explain it, just pushes the explanation one step down. But that one step is something that people can accept as a sufficient explanation: “Dead uncle Ogg did it.”

Make that way of thinking sufficiently useful as a way of letting people accept the world… it won’t take too many thousand generations before it’s ingrained into the gene code. And so you can take a modern enlightened and educated westerner and show him that his religion is bunk, he might accept that… and simply transfer his religious feelings to something equally scientifically invalid.

Interestingly (to me) a lot of the religion-replacing spiritualism being discussed sounds a *lot* like the sort of spiritualism that arose in the Victorian era and reached its peak in the years just after WWI. Not really sure what to make of that.

 Posted by at 9:12 am
Oct 262015

All through the 1960’s – or at least up until the last few years, when “Great Society” spending ate into NASA’s budget – the assumption was that NASA would soon have numerous space stations in orbit and some preliminary lunar bases, with Mars missions soon to follow. In order to support those, NASA would have to have a cost effective means to launch sizable crews into orbit. A number of approaches were proposed, including Big Gemini and, in the end, the Space Shuttle. One approach that probably would have been quite workable was to simply scale up the Apollo capsule into something capable of holding more than three; a slight scaleup seats six, a further scaleup seats twelve. These would have been launched atop the Saturn Ib and/or Saturn V boosters, and would come with their own basic orbital maneuvering systems, and could carry up some amount of cargo in the conical transition/propulsion sections. At the end of the mission, the capsule would return to Earth for recovery, refurbishment and reuse; the propulsion module would be allowed to burn up.

Of course, none of these were ever built.

The full resolution versions of these artworks have been posted into the 2015-10 folder in the APR Extras Dropbox. Please check out the APR Patreon!

Apollo 6 Man Logistics Apollo 12 Man Logistics

 Posted by at 10:18 pm
Oct 262015

‘Sugar-crazed’ Quantock ponies break woman’s leg

So, a bunch of ponies in Britain are causing a ruckus. These critters, raised in the wild, have been given a lot of sugary treats by well-intentioned but ill-considered folk. The end result has been that the ponies now *expect* to get the treats, will get pushy about demanding them, and will get aggressive and violent if you don’t cough ’em up.

I wonder if someone could come up with some sort of political metaphor from this…

 Posted by at 2:51 pm
Oct 252015

Some time in the next month or so, an new series will premiere on AMC called “Into the Badlands.” I only know a few facts about it:

  1. It’s set 500 years in the future
  2. It’s based on the Chinese tale “Journey to the West”
  3. It’s a martial arts show with some big-name fight choreographers

Besides that, America (I’m guessing this is set in America) is apparently a dystopia… sorta post-industrial, with old cars and motorbikes rather than speederbikes and starships, and society is run by way of an aristocratic system of barons and the like. Well… meh, I guess.

But where I think there might be something interesting: the Evil Aristocratic Tyrants have somehow successfully gotten rid of all firearms in order to prevent the peasants from rising up. Setting aside for a moment the sheer impossibility of clearing all firearms out of the US, the idea of a major TV series being based on the idea that “no guns” = “overbearing totalitarian dictators reducing the populace to the status of serfs” seems rather remarkable to me. Is this going to be like “Firefly,” a show created by a left-wing extremist, but that somehow created one of the great right-wing heroes of fiction in the way of Mal Reynolds? Will “Into the Badlands” wind up showing a right-wing worldview by showing the result of five hundred years of leftist policy?

We shall see, I suppose.

 Posted by at 9:13 pm
Oct 252015

Sometimes when I go to Barnes & Noble or some similar bookstore I just wander the aisles, looking at the major subject sections. Almost invariably I am saddened: a great big section on Newage, a small section on science. Look in the “young adult” or childrens section and find a handful of science fiction books; but several bookcases full of fantasy and paranormal. More than once I’ve found *sizable* sections devoted specifically to “paranormal romance.” You know, gettin’ it on with vampires and ghosts and elves and such.

At the best of times, I don’t really *get* a lot of romance fiction. A lot of it seems to be “damsel in distress tries to capture and then change Bad Boy.” Having actually lived for some time in the real world, when that is tried in reality the virtually inevitable result is “damsel in distress winds up getting smacked around by the Bad Boy, because she can’t actually change him via any means shot of armed rebellion.” So when you replace the standard Bad Boy (judging by the cover art, he tends to be a shirtless Viking or a shirtless biker or a shirtless highlander; shirtlessness seems pretty much a prerequisite, along with flowing hair and a lack of a beer gut) with a supernatural entity whose sole purpose seems to be to rend humans limb from limb, my lack of understanding sorta shoots through the roof.

Rather than launch into a series of expletives on this topic I’ll let Foamy the Squirrel do it instead:

Foamy make a series of good points, but one I had not previously considered runs thus: Women want men to charge through the gates of Hell and fight off hordes of demons, to be dashing Princes with buckets of cash. Men want women to be a bit more stretchy. Which one is the more unrealistic?

 Posted by at 3:09 pm