Nov 262015

A 115-year-old smokestack in Pell City, Alabama, laughed off two attempts to bring it down with explosives, so a construction worker went at it with an excavator. So how’d that work out? Let’s watch:


And because why not, here’s the ad for the product that popped up before the smokestack video. It’s an awesomely low-brow product to help you extrude your supper called “Squatty Potty.” Does it work? I have no idea. Is the commercial awful? You betcha. Did it make me laugh? You betcha.  Is it available from Amazon and am I going to link to it on the off chance someone wants to buy one from said link and I’ll receive a pittance as a result? You betcha.


Squatty Potty® Toilet Stool, 7 Inch- The Original – Made in U.S.A.


 Posted by at 9:22 pm
Nov 262015

Amazon currently is running a “30% off any one book up to $10” special, if you type in “HOLIDAY30” in the “Gift cards & promotional codes” section during checkout. The small print is HERE. Why do I bring it up? Because Federally Mandated Commercial Over-Shopping Holiday is only a month away… and if you do your  shopping for knickknacks and whatnot starting with the Amazon search box you should see at the upper right of this very page, a small, tiny percentage will be kicked back my way. So wander over yonder to buy a couple XPlayBoxStations for the horrible ingrate brat children your family is plague with, and when you’re done pick up a book for yourself. Below are a few options that look like they might be good (don’t have ’em myself yet).



American Secret Projects: Fighters, Bombers, and Attack Aircraft, 1937-1945

N-1: For the Moon and Mars A Guide to the Soviet Superbooster (English and Russian Edition)

The 2001 File: Harry Lange and the Design of the Landmark Science Fiction Film

An Untaken Road: Strategy, Technology, and the Hidden History of America’s Mobile ICBMs (Transforming War)

 Posted by at 5:01 pm
Nov 252015

Now you, too, can have a microcircuit computer for less than thirty-five grand!


An ad from a December, 1965, issue of Missiles & Rockets magazine.

 Posted by at 12:53 pm
Nov 242015

Get ready to laugh.

Man Media Touted As Victim of Islamophobia Reportedly Arrested in Turkey For Joining ISIS


Teenage Islamist ‘poster girl’ who fled Austria to join ISIS ‘is beaten to death by the terror group after trying to escape from Syria’

Haw! That’s some funny, funny stuff right there, I don’t care who you are.

Heh. Dumb people, amiright?

 Posted by at 11:03 pm
Nov 242015

The first episode of The Expanse is now available for viewing on YouTube. It’ll premiere on the Syfy channel on December 14. I haven’t watched it yet… I just downloaded it (half a gigabyte) but I’ve got to get back to work now.

UPDATE: I watched it, and was glad I did.  It’s a beautiful effort; it starts with a woman floating in zero-g, with her hair floating around her. The hair was likely CGI, but it seemed pretty effectively done. People moving around in zero-g was mostly accomplished with the traditional “magnetic boots;” this was likely done for budgetary reasons, but it was still done well… the walking was done to look somewhat difficult and slow, as it really would be. The story seemed to be pretty close to the book. The visuals were generally spectacular.

 Posted by at 2:47 pm
Nov 242015

Blue Origin seems to have flown their New Shepard craft yesterday… booster rocket and capsule. The video shows the launch, a CGI version of the separation, video of the capsule landing and video of the booster landing. The booster landing video, especially the view at 2:39, is just about the sportiest ride imaginable that doesn’t end with an Incident Review Board.

In some ways this is similar to the SpaceX Falcon 9 + Dragon capsule. Important difference is the much lower performance of Blue origins system… straight up into space, but no attempt at orbital flight (and nowhere near capable of it). But with a second stage… who knows.

 Posted by at 2:38 pm
Nov 242015

If you turn on a TV, you can’t help but notice the plethora of 80’s flashbacks. Shows like “Halt and Catch Fire” are set in the 80’s; others like “Moonbeam City” are designed to look like an 80’s art school exploded all over the screen. Cartoons like “Regular Show” and “Gravity Falls” hearken back to the 80’s with regularity. As a teen of the 80’s, this is somewhat amusing… after spending *my* childhood being inundated with 50’s and 60’s nostalgia, it’s my turn, I guess.

But come on, sometimes people take this too far. Like today, when the news breaks that NATO and Russian military forces are going at it.

Turkish F-16 fighter jets shoot down Russian warplane near Syrian border

It seems a Russian SU-24 (essentially their equivalent of the F-111) violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border and the Turks promptly shot it down. Of the two crew, at least one is definitively dead; rumors are that both crew were shot from the ground while still in their chutes by Turkmen Syrian rebel forces.


Additionally, a Russian Mil-8 (possibly a rescue chopper sent to get the crew) went down on the Syrian side of the border, either due to mechanical failure or ground fire; rebels are reported to have blown up the chopper once on the ground. The video below seems to show this; a TOW missile is used to take out the grounded helicopter at some considerable distance. Trigger warning: repeated use of The Phrase That Pays after the explosion.

 Posted by at 2:26 pm
Nov 242015

In 1963 the Curtiss Wright Corporation ran an ad in Missiles & Rockets magazine illustrating their participation in the Titan III/Dyna Soar program. The main illustration in the ad depicts the launch vehicle in flight; it is not, sadly, a wholly accurate depiction. The N2O4 thrust vector fluid tanks for the SRBs aren’t included, nor are the separation motors; the two engine bells on the Titan core are shown clocked out of alignment. Still, a reasonably nice illustration.

missilesrockets1219unse_0529 missilesrockets1219unse_0528

 Posted by at 10:09 am
Nov 232015

In 2016, astronomers will watch a distant supernova burst forth. This sort of thin usually comes as a surprise, because the subject goes from being a bright star  – something incredibly difficult to make out individually over intergalactic distances – to a brilliant point that outshines the host galaxy in a matter of seconds to hours. So how can astronomers know that one will be coming months in advance? Because they’ve already seen it.

Astronomers get once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to predict supernova

In short: in November, 2014, a supernova was discovered in a very distant (9 to 14.4 billion lightyears, based on redshift) galaxy. What made it unique is that the galaxy was directly behind a closer (about 5 billion lightyear) galaxy cluster. Normally the closer galaxy cluster would obscure the further one, but due to the effects of gravity lensing, the image of the distant galaxy was replicated at least six times. The six images of the galaxy are distorted and scattered around the periphery of the cluster. But given the *vast* distances involved, even the slightest difference in the path lengths lead to measurably different  trip times. Four of the images showed the supernova within a few days of each other; another image is though to have shown the supernova perhaps 20 years ago. But a sixth image is predicted to show the supernova burst forth in 2016.

Because reality is awesome, that’s why.

 Posted by at 8:08 pm