Jun 282017

On the one hand, destroying government property = bad. But on the other hand, if that property is manifestly unconstitutional… Hmmmm.  I guess I’d rate this about like someone plowing through an illegal barricade blocking them from getting around on their own property.

Arkansas’ Ten Commandments Monument Lasted Less Than 24 Hours

Interestingly… I bet that a whole lot of the people who are outraged by this act of destruction would celebrate the destruction of an atheist or Satanist monument plopped right next to the Ten Commandments.

 Posted by at 5:31 pm
Jun 282017

I just noticed that the complete five year run of Babylon 5 along with Crusade and *most* of the movies (doesn’t include “Legend of the Rangers,” which… is just as well) is available on DVD for a fairly reasonable price on Amazon.


Sad to say, but DVD is probably as good as Babylon 5 is going to get. To do Blue ray they’d have to completely redo the CGI visual effects, and there are two problems with that:

1: It’d cost a whole lot of money

2: A whole lot of the original CAD models for the various spacecraft have been lost. Sounds nuts, but it’s apparently true.

One option might be for amateurs to redo the scenes as a labor of love. You *know* there are enough fans out there with the skills to do it, but it’d be wholly unofficial. And getting hold of the live action footage in high rez might be problematic.

 Posted by at 1:22 am
Jun 282017

This was Convairs idea for the Pluto project… a nuclear ramjet cruise missile. Capable of Mach 3 flight at an altitude of 500 feet, it would be virtually impossible to intercept, and would have virtually unlimited range. The YouTube video:

There is more on the Big Stick, including diagrams, in issue V2N1 of Aerospace Projects Review:


Thanks to eBay, I hope to, within a few days, have information on a subject related to Pluto/Big Stick that makes them looks absolutely tame in comparison.

 Posted by at 12:55 am
Jun 282017

A 1948 USAF film documenting JATO units – liquid propellant rocket packs – for use on the B-29. four such units, two under each wing, would give the B-29 some substantial additional get up and go, along with giving it a spectacularly firey takeoff roll.

 Posted by at 12:35 am
Jun 272017

Now if you identify as an attack helicopter, you can come with laser weaponry as an option.

Laser strike

A high energy laser mounted on a helicopter shoots a target in groundbreaking test


No real details about the power or capabilities of the laser weapon. Chemical laser? Free electron? LED diode? Dunno, though the cables that run from the chopper to the laser pod seem to be fairly sizable. Certainly not capable of anti-armor operations; no such thing as a portable laser that is. Almost certainly poorly capable of taking out missiles and the like… a helicopter is a shaky platform for that sort of thing. But for setting individual jackasses on fire? Torching small buildings, piles of ammunition, IEDs, light vehicles? Burning the gunners girfriends name into the roof of the Mosul Piggy Wiggly? This might be just the thing.

 Posted by at 5:56 pm
Jun 272017

Yeah, well, you try coming up with a clever headline for this…

Reportedly the armor on this T-72 was badly trashed after whacking into a light pole. Which does not seem to be a good advertisement for the T-72, honestly. Note also that the tank commander nearly got his noggin lopped off by the power lines.


Pretty sure someone’s gonna catch some hell – both from the base commander and from everyone back at the barracks – for this little screwup. There was a time when someone could make an embarrassing blunder in an eastern European totalitarian Soviet dictatorship and have a hope of covering it up… but now, the T-72 got swarmed with millenials taking cell phone snapshots. Heh.

 Posted by at 5:37 pm
Jun 272017

The American system as organized under the Constitution and Bill of Rights defines a set of “negative rights.” Rather than being a bad thing, what negative rights are are things that the government *can’t* do to you. Freedom of the press, religion, right to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable search & seizure… these aren’t things given to you, but rather things the government can’t do to you or take from you.

But it has become a popular mantra over the last generation or so that “health care is a right.” Now, if the proposed Constitutional amendment actually said something along the lines of “the people have the right to pursue whatever health care they want without interference from the government,” hey, I’m right there with ya. You want to go in for the most bleeding-edge gene therapy or stem cell treatment? Kudos. You want to put your faith in homeopathy? Great, that means your stuff will soon be available at an estate sale.

But what too many people seem to think is that “health care is a right”means you have the right to demand goods and services, free of charge. This would be something of  a first. It would also be a disaster for the country. Consider:

Mom of boy with rare disorder shares photo of astronomical hospital bill

This 2-year-old has heterotaxy syndrome, which is basically just about the craziest condition you can think of. Five spleens, two left lungs, a malformed heart and stomach, liver, gallbladder and heart are all in the wrong place. Basically, this kid is someone you point at when someone confidently tells you that “God doesn’t make mistakes,” because whatever god was responsible for assembling this kid apparently had a bit too much of the sacramental booze. With that litany of structural flaws, it’s no surprise that the kid has had quite a number of major surgeries and requires a whole lot of the very latest in Big Pharmas products. And that sort of stuff *costs.* The latest bill covering the period of Feb. 21 to March 7, ran to $231K.  Two weeks of “room and board” in the hospital alone cost $22,500. Go ahead and try to justify *that.*

Now, if Health Care Really Was A Right, then this kid would have the right to access all this, without question or interference, paid for by the taxpayer. But here’s the thing: if it’s a “right,” then *everyone* would have the same right to access the same sort of expense. Now obviously the vast majority of people don’t have anywhere near the medical needs this kid has. But that basically doesn’t matter when it comes to rights. Everyone’s rights are (or at least theoretically) are the same as everyone elses. Spending a million dollars a year for one citizen means that every other citizen has the same right to a million dollars a year of taxpayer funding.

Problems like this can be approached two ways: emotionally and practically. The emotional approach is what we’re getting… and it’s all that will really be permitted. From the above example, we get this quote from the mother of the sick child:

“A lifetime cap on benefits is the same as saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not worth keeping alive anymore. You’re just too expensive'”

Now, if you’re a mother you are supposed to use every weapon in your arsenal to make sure that your child is safe. Lie, cheat, steal, turn on the waterworks to get everyone around you to drop what they are doing and provide for the benefit of your child at the expense of their own. It is entirely understandable, and well in line with evolutionary biology. But that’s a poor basis upon which to build a foundation of public policy.

The other approach, the practical one, basically comes down to a single word:


Because sometimes you *are* too expensive and not worth keeping alive anymore. For example: let’s say that tomorrow MegaPharmaCorp announce that they have a cure for diabetes, obesity and heart disease. These are major health problems… but if Health Care Is A Right, then every American with diabetes, obesity or a bad ticker has the right to have the government provide them the cure. But what if MegaPharmaCorp can only produce enough of the cure for 10,000 people per year, when something along the lines of 100,000,000 Americans need it? What is a right if only 0.01% of the population can even dream of accessing it? Alternatively: what if MegaPharmaCorp can produce an arbitrarily large number of the cures, but at $5,000,000 a pop? That would be a program costing half a quadrillion dollars. With a GDP of about $17 trillion, this program would consume the *entirety* of the US economy for a period of about  29 years, by which no doubt new health concerns will have arisen… say, explosive ass cancer that came about due to an unforeseen interaction between the diabetes cure and EM radiation given off by solar panels.

The difficulty here is that this is a matter of politics, and politics works on emotion, not logic. Anyone proposing to use a triage system to determine who gets taxpayer funded healthcare and who doesn’t will be accused of being heartless, or a monster, a Nazi, anti-child, whatever. I’ve no doubt that right now Certain Readers are turning red and getting ready to bang out angry, unthinking insults in the comments section.

 Posted by at 4:37 am
Jun 252017

SpaceX launched and landed again today. This time the booster was a new one; the grid fins used to control flight after re-entry were made out of titanium rather than aluminum. This should make them more durable.

Seems SpaceX is getting reasonably good at launching rockets.


 Posted by at 6:50 pm
Jun 252017

Alien invasion stories have been done to death. Still, this short (~20 minute) short film by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium, Chappy) is pretty good, if really rather disturbing. Normally the aliens show up to take some resource or other (water or geothermal energy… you know, stuff that a species with fusion engines, warp drive and the ability to easily raid the rings of Saturn would somehow have a hard time finding), and have little interest in Man apart from seeing us as an impediment. Here, it seems the aliens have an active dislike of us, and as a result do some pretty horrible things. Graphic language and images, so, you know, show your kids.

The aliens are some sort of reptilian, but with a whole lot of Black Goo that seems to be the entirety of their technology. Nanotech goo, perhaps.  “Oats Studio” is going to be releasing a number of short films, but of different stories and topics. “Rakka” here does not tell a full story, but seems like it could be expanded to feature length.

Bonus: Sigourney Weaver FTW.


 Posted by at 1:09 pm