Sep 272016

Out today is a kinda spendy but awesome-looking two-volume set of Ralph McQuarrie’s artwork for the Star Wars franchise. Something like 2,000 illustrations are included. From the glimpse at the art you can see here, it looks like a heck of a thing. The list price is $250, but Amazon has it for $182 currently. It’s a “limited edition,” which may or may not mean that a cheaper paperback version might be released at some point. But I wouldn’t bet on it.



 Posted by at 2:23 pm
Sep 272016

Elon Musk is scheduled to present his plan on getting humans to Mars and beyond at 2:30 Eastern (12:30 Mountain). The Youtube link below should carry it live, or be available afterwards.


SpaceX has also released a “teaser” video showing the system in action:

The booster is 12 meters in diameter, the spacecraft is 17 meters in diameter and the complete stack is 122 meters tall. This is bigger than the Saturn V. Liftoff thrust is 28,730,000 pounds.

The animation is pretty spiffy, but I can’t help but think that the mission depicted is… ummm… a little simplified.

 Posted by at 12:19 pm
Sep 272016

Well, that was fun. After leaving a comment on a post on this blog, I noticed that there was a notification alert on the little dashboard… one of the plugins (W3 Total Cache) needed to be updated. Updating a plugin is typically a matter of hitting one button, waiting tens seconds, then moving on with life. This time? It killed the blog. So I’ve spent about the last hour on the phone with tech support getting it back up and running.




And so, unrelated image:


 Posted by at 1:55 am
Sep 262016

For those interested: still fighting the effects of whatever it was that hit me a week ago. Allergies transitioning into a cold or flu, it seems. So far no bronchitis, though it’s been not too far from that at times. Sunday I slept for about 18 hours… though not all at once but in five or six chunks. The time not spent asleep is spent working, either on the Paying Project, or on getting the next APR Patreon reward set ready or scanning the NAA Archive. Not a whole lot of time for bitchin’ and bloggin’. I’ve got Ye Olde DVR set up to record the Douche/Turd Sandwich Debate tonight, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to get through the whole thing. I can imagine it in my head, and I shut that show off after about 15 seconds.

 Posted by at 5:42 pm
Sep 242016

Taken at face value, these stories are stupid. But: the apologists for one religion in the world today have proven adept at convincing masses of non-thinkers that any criticism of the religion (it’s history, tenets, beliefs or current practices) is “racism.” Well… if that’s acceptable for *one* religion, it’s acceptable for *all* religions. Don’t like my carrying a sword, spear, pistol or shotgun wherever I choose to travel? Not only are you trampling my religious rights… YOU’RE A RACIST. If this catches on, this could end up being endlessly entertaining.

Rep. Dave Brat: Removing Mandatory Bible Readings from Public Schools is “Institutional Racism”

Italian School’s Headmaster Cancels Traditional Catholic Mass; Politician Calls It “Reverse Racism”

 Posted by at 11:28 pm
Sep 242016

Please to enjoy some animation:

“Anvil,” a music video for Lorn. Dystopian future where people get uploaded and then… that’s it, I guess.


“Planet Unknown.” A Chinese film about two rovers on an alien world. Remarkable animation, really.

And what the heck. This one isn’t animation, more just a regular old-school music video. But if you thought that Lorn’s “Anvil” up there was a light-hearted romp, you’ll definitely get a kick out of Lorn’s “Acid Rain,” which is all kinds of unicorns-farting-rainbows cheerfulness.

 Posted by at 3:21 pm
Sep 242016

SpaceXplosion Update: Preliminary Review Suggests “Large Breach in Cryogenic Helium System”

Not a whole lot of data is presented in the article, but they do say that important areas of the launch site – the LOX farm, the fuel farm, the Falcon Support building – were largely unaffected by the catastrophe.

Purest speculation: a helium tank popping would of course be terribly bad, but it would not seem to cause a big sudden fireball. But a high pressure tank cutting loose, even when filled with an inert gas like helium, could easily trash tanks and lines containing LOX and kerosene, mixing the two. Again, though, simply breachignt he fuel and oxidizer in this case wouldn;t *necessarily* lead to combustion.

Some extreme handwaving, though… they were apparently using supercooled LOX. By using liquid oxygen at a temperature well below what they’d need to to keep it liquid, the exterior of the tank could in principle get cold enough to chill liquid oxygen out of the *air.* So, *maybe,* the tank would have liquid oxygen condensation on the outside, where it might mix with carbon fiber components, or cork insulation or some other carbon or hydrocarbon structure. The *possibility*exists that the oxygen could seep into those components. And anyone who has ever soaked a charcoal briquet in LOX and then shocked it (by, say, hitting it with a hammer, dropping it from a great height or popping a high pressure tank of helium next to it) knows that such a mixture of carbon and LOX is quite unstable and will detonate.

 Posted by at 1:42 pm
Sep 242016

While about 7 years old (dates from the early days of the Obama Presidency), this extremely nerdy video from Bill Whittle makes some good points about Kirk & Spock and what makes a good leader. Plus, they got Maurice Lamarche to do a Shatner-tastic Kirk impression.

Basically, “the smartest guy in the room” is probably not the guy who’d make the best *leader.*


 Posted by at 8:46 am