Jan 312017

… otherwise they might be working on nuclear weapons systems.

Iran tests ballistic missile in defiance of UN resolution, US officials say

The Khorramshahr medium range ballistic missile seems to be on the scale of the Scud.  Hard data on it seems hard to find, but it looks likely to be scaled such as to reach Israel with a single small nuclear warhead.


 Posted by at 12:08 pm
Jan 312017

Say hello to Saccorhytus coronarius, a truly fugly ancestor of yours from about half a billion years ago.

Meiofaunal deuterostomes from the basal Cambrian of Shaanxi (China)

This little guy (about a millimeter) is an ancestor to vertebrates. Embarrassingly for the family tree, the digestive tract, which starts with a clearly oversized mouth, terminates with… the mouth. Bleah.


 Posted by at 10:58 am
Jan 302017

The Cassini Saturn probe is nearing the end of its life. And NASA is sending it out in the best way possible, with increasingly close passes of the ring plane. They’re getting some fine imagery out of the process. The image below is a closeup of the A ring showing density waves caused by the moons Janus and Epimetheus. There are also a lot of little artifacts in the image… specks and streaks, caused by cosmic rays smacking into the CCD during imaging.

 Posted by at 9:05 pm
Jan 302017

This one sounds good:

Trump Signs Executive Order to Curtail Regulations

In short, it says that if a Federal agency wants one new regulation, they need to ditch two old ones. This is an inarguably good idea, but I suspect that it may turn out to be a logistical nightmare. And it’ll certainly run into a whole lot of opposition from the bureaucrats.

This executive order is more important on every objective level than the one restricting refugees and immigration from a few specific countries. That one was never going to amount to much, but slashing regulations could have *massive* long-term economic benefits. But here’s the thing that makes me think that maybe, just maybe, Trump might be smarter than he looks. Under normal conditions, the big-government types would be falling all over themselves to stymie this new executive order. They’d be screaming about how it’ll ruin the environment, and/or install racism  and sexism in hiring, and/or harm women, children and the poor. But right now they are far too focused on screaming about an executive order that has caused a few dozen foreigners to be delayed at airports or sent back to their homelands. Perhaps this was the intent… throw out a firebomb of an executive order, something that’s not very important but will set the Left’s hair on fire, and then follow it up with actually *important* changes. Heck, even the pipeline order seems to have been completely forgotten.

 Posted by at 10:35 am
Jan 302017

Last night news broke that gunmen had shot up a mosque in Quebec City. It was all over the news, on CNN and online. It was very quickly declared an act of terrorism (hard to argue that shooting up a group of random civvies is anything but), but apart from a death toll of five and the fact that two shooters were arrested, there was a distinct lack of data. I watched the news and poked around online for a while hoping that some details would come out, but apart from a whole lot of people screaming and speculating, there was nothing. I assumed that when I woke up this morning, CNN would lead off with the details about who the shooters were.

So I wake up, turn on the tube and see… nothing. They’re yammering about Trump, bitching about Friday’s executive order, showing Chuck Schumer crying about it, showing protestors doing what they can to inconvenience as many uninvolved people as they can. A few other news items, but I haven’t even seen them mention the Quebec attack. It’s dropped completely off the radar.

Last night the speculation ran rampant in various places that the shooting must have been carried out by white supremacists, Canadian Trump supporters, right-wing Quebecker nationalists… *some* form of alt-righter. Take a look at the comments HERE if you’ve a mind to. This morning all I can find is some sort of rumor that one of the shooters was of Moroccan origin, which would *tend* to argue against this being one of those long hoped-for (on the left) right-wing terrorist acts. The names *seem* to be Mohamed Khadir and Alexander Bissonnette, indicating that terrorists are finally getting in on the diversity bandwagon.

But CNN at least doesn’t seem too interested int he story now. It’s almost as if they have decided that it doesn’t fit their preferred narrative anymore.

UPDATE: It seems now that there is only a single suspect in custody, Alexander Bissonnette, who does seem to fit into the alt-right/white nationalist stereotype. Huzzah!This story can now be readily discussed on the news, I suppose.

 Posted by at 10:18 am
Jan 292017

In 1961 Ryan Aircraft looked at alternate means of ground launching their Firebee UAvs. A number of companies put forward ideas for various catapults. The SDASM Flickr account has illustrations of a number of the concept put forward. One of them was  Brodie Rig, similar to the suspended runway I posted about a few weeks ago. Sadly details on this and the other studies is very limited… basically the date and the illustrations. The Brodie rig has what appears to be a winch a tthe end, indicating that the drone would have been accelerated not only by its jet engine but also the  rig itself, getting it up to flight speed ASAP. Whether it would be able to be recovered with the rig at the end of the mission is difficult to determine, but doing so would require a definite level of precise flying that I’m not sure the Firebee would have been able to attain in 1961.

See somewhat higher rez version of this illustration HERE.


 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Jan 282017

President Giant Middle Finger has been busy signing executive orders left and right. Friday he signed one banning the importation of refugees and such from a few specific countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. The idea, apparently, was to preclude the arrival of Jihadis who want to commit acts of terrorism in the US.

On the one hand, he is enraging the left and causing them to expend substantial effort, energy, time, political capitol and funds in protesting. Every day he signs an executive order that causes the causeheads to rant and rave; this by itself is neither good nor bad, though given how wrong and generally silly the leftist causeheads have been these last few decades I’m generally given to support whatever they oppose. This, of course, is pretty much what led to the Trump Presidency in the first place. Many leftists have taken the opportunity to crank up their hysterical hypobole generators all the way to eleven, such as:

As Trump severed the torch-bearing arm from the Statue of Liberty and the US went dark overnight on Friday…

The US went dark? Trump chopped the arm off the Statue of Liberty? Huh.

However, the refugee ban is problematic for a few reasons.

Firstly, it seems to have been slapped together without a whole lot of thought given to some of the ramifications. Thousands of legal US residents who were out of the country – such as former Iranians who have gone back to Iran to visit family – are now kinda up the creek, unable to board planes back to the US. Worse, it blocks Iraqis who aided the US military – translators and guides and such – from coming to the US. Unlike the vast majority of the “refugees,” those Iraqis who worked for the US are exactly the people we *should* be importing… not only do we want their kind (i.e. people who want to work for our interests), it is *right* to rescue those who have served our cause.

Second, while the nations on the list are understandable, there are some nations mysteriously left off. What about Pakistan? Saudi Arabia? Egypt? Turkey? These countries crank out the jihadi whackos as fast as the others… and they have a history of actually getting terrorists into the US.  It has been pointed out that Trump has no business dealings in the nations he’s banned… but he has substantial dealings with nations he didn’t. Hmmm.

And on another matter… during the inauguration protests, a limousine was vandalized with spraypaint then set on fire. There were a few layer of irony here. First the limo was spray painted with “We the people.” then set on fire. Which mean the protestors were setting “we the people” on fire. Second… the owner of the limo? Guess what. Muslim immigrant. Way to show your support, folks.


 Posted by at 9:51 pm
Jan 272017

The SDASM Flickr account has uploaded some interesting photos of a nuclear detonation. What makes it interesting: the nuclear detonation was in space. Click the small pics below to go to the SDASM Flickr page for better rez versions.



Vaguely relevant:

Doomsday Clock ticks 30 seconds closer to midnight, thanks to Trump

While the world is certainly a goofier place than it has been in a while, the idea that we’re closer to DOOOOOOM now than during the Cuban Missile Crisis strikes me as ridiculous.


 Posted by at 1:05 am
Jan 262017

Just sold on EBay (not to me, sadly) is a kinda rough Topping display model of a little known proposed variant of the Atlas space launcher, the SLV-3X. This design had a widened body, from ten feet to 12 feet, 7 inches. This allowed for more propellant to be carried without lengthening the vehicle, meaning that the existing launch infrastructure could be used. Additionally, the MA-5 sustainer rocket engine would be replaced with a higher thrust H-1D engine. See HERE for stats.

ebay 2017-01-26 fat atlas 1

The SDASM Flickr account has a nice illustration of the SLV-3X/Centaur. See their site for the higher rez image.

 Posted by at 7:41 pm