I’ll Just Leave This Here

February 14th, 2018

Today’s Hilarity

February 13th, 2018

https://nypost.com/2018/02/11/all-bets-are-off-in-nyc-if-federal-gun-law-passes-nypd-head/

Preamble:

Police Commissioner James O’Neill said it would be “insanity” for the feds to force one state to recognize another’s lax gun laws.

A bill making its way through Congress would make gun possession akin to a driver’s license — so one state’s looser regulations against concealed weapons would be protected in tougher anti-gun states, like New York.

Now for the funny stuff:

“Right now, we have a good idea of who’s carrying guns. If this law passes, all bets are off,” he said. “Anybody can come into New York City from any state and carry a weapon.”

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. agreed.

The “right now we have a good idea of who’s carrying guns” part? In English, that’s called a lie. Not only does the NYPD have no earthly idea just how many guns are in the City, they don’t want to know. More importantly, they don’t want the City gummint to know.

I lived there for years, and let me tell you a little something: everybody in NYC who wants a gun has one, and that’s been true for decades. In my own family, my relatives had all sorts of unregistered goodies when they were growing up, and that was back in the 40’s and 50’s. Me? I moved into New York in 1979, and I had a pistol (to go along with the longarms I already had) within a few weeks.

One Moment Of Perfect Beauty

February 5th, 2018

http://tucson.com/news/local/steller-column-tucson-grand-jurors-rebel-against-drug-prosecutions/article_76c3af81-5832-52c2-b0ca-3cff04dfef05.html

Amazing. Go and read the whole thing.

Our Heroes

February 1st, 2018

https://www.dailywire.com/news/26655/horrifying-ex-cop-testifies-baltimore-police-emily-zanotti

An former Baltimore Police detective testified Tuesday that several corrupt Baltimore cops kept fake guns in their cars to plant on suspects in case they were ever accused of a “dirty shooting.”

Maurice Ward, who is a former member of Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force — the group now involved in an ongoing corruption trial in Maryland — told the jury that while on duty with the Task Force, he noticed that several of his colleagues kept BB guns and other fake weapons in their glove compartments. Ward claimed they kept the toys “in case we accidentally hit somebody or got into a shootout, so we could plant them,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

What do you want me to say? Are you going to try and tell me that you’re any less surprised than I am?

At least they got to go home at the end of their shifts.

RTWT

February 1st, 2018

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2018/02/01/a_re-examination_of_the_schlieffen_plan_112995.html

Why would this matter? Because one can make a compelling argument that World Wars 1 & 2 were a modern Thirty Years War, and as such has shaped the world in which we live. Even if you reject that theory, you cannot ignore that the aftermath of WW1 (the Versailles Treaty foremost) directly led to the Second.

From the Conclusion:

In sum, a web of interdependent variables led Germany to war. Hyper-nationalism; a lack of civilian management of the military; the cult of the offensive; preventive war thinking and a misperception of inter and intra-alliance politics were among the contributing factors. The psychology of German War planners, incoherence of strategic planning, and military organizational politics and domestic politics also played important roles.

More simply put, the German General Staff, as with generals throughout time, were gaming out how to win the last war, without admitting the changed reality. In the Franco-Prussian War, Germany had a slight edge in small arms and a huge advantage in artillery. In 1914, it’s pretty clear that Germany still had better rifles than did the French, but the French 75mm gun was the finest artillery piece of the time.

A Day Ending in “y”, Part Bazillion

January 29th, 2018

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/01/the-white-house-seems-interested-in-the-falcon-heavy-launch/

As the head of the recently established National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence is the most important person in the United States when it comes to determining space policy. In this role, Pence oversees the development of US military, civil, and commercial space efforts.

That’s only because President Trump hasn’t met me yet. Then again, given what we pay the veep, he really should be doing something useful.

The Trump administration has come into office at a time when new space companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin are challenging dominant aerospace industry companies, such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin. A key difference between the new competitors is that they’re willing to invest more of their own funds into developing launch vehicles—both SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and Blue Origin’s New Glenn rockets have been substantially funded by private money. Successful flights by these vehicles may raise questions about why the federal government should spend billions of taxpayer dollars on traditional contractors for other heavy lift vehicles.

OK, two things: 1) The federal government isn’t spending anything. It is dispersing *our* tax money. 2) It’s bad enough that a given rocket costs a zillion dollars, what makes it worse is that it ends up on the bottom of the ocean after having been used exactly one time.

(…) Earlier this year, Ars sought an interview with NASA’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot. He declined, citing a busy schedule, but his office agreed to answer questions in writing. We asked whether Lightfoot would be watching and what success would mean to the aerospace industry.

Lightfoot’s office responded, via email, as follows:

“NASA celebrates the success of its industry partners as a testament to the hard work the agency puts into sharing technology and innovation with American companies. To achieve the goal to extend humanity’s presence in the Solar System will require the best research, technologies, capabilities, and contributions from the US private sector and international partners.”

If all our tax dollars buys is a mealy-mouthed goodspeak response like that, is it any wonder I want to burn the place to the ground and start over?

Bear in mind also that both NA$A and the Interstate Highway System* are Cold War artifacts, and in both cases the reason our parents were told that they were a desirable expenditure of their tax dollars wasn’t close to the real reason the Gummint wanted them.

*properly known as the “Dwight D. Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways”. A more accurate title would be the American Autobahn, as that was the inspiration.

Please Ignore This

January 29th, 2018

http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/a15895297/how-to-clean-laptop-phone-gadgets/

A greasy, dusty laptop or phone isn’t just annoying. Greasy gadgets are easier to drop. Blocked air vents can cause tech to overheat, or can wear down the insides. And anything stuck underneath your keys could mean a trip to the Genius Bar, or some risky at-home surgery. But it’s all preventable. For your phone, laptop, whatever you use, here’s how to clean it up quickly, and without voiding your warranty.

Left unsaid is the most important part: poorly maintained tech has been a source of income for me for at least fifteen years. My cats eat every day, you know.

So please don’t read this. And if you do, make sure not to follow any of the suggestions.

About That Settled Stuff

January 26th, 2018

https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/01/humans-expanded-out-of-africa-40000-years-earlier-than-we-thought/

There’s not much left of this person who lived and died in a cave on the slopes of Israel’s Mt. Carmel between 177,000 and 194,000 years ago. All that remains is the left half of an upper jaw, with some fragments of palate, cheekbone, and the floor of the nasal cavity still attached, along with a complete set of upper left teeth. But those fragments of bone mean that modern humans probably found their way to southwest Asia about 40,000 to 50,000 years earlier than fossil evidence previously suggested.

For early humans, the Levant was the gateway to everything beyond Africa. When the newly discovered fossil human, dubbed Misliya-1, and its companions arrived in the area, they would have found themselves living alongside Neanderthals. Both species were living in spaces once occupied by Homo erectus, an early human ancestor that had reached southern Eurasia by 1.75 million years ago. Understanding which species lived here—and when—is crucial to reconstructing the story of our ancestors’ expansion.

(There’s a photo heading the linked article. I’m by no means a trained paleontologist, but I know enough to recognize human teeth and skull structures when I see them.)

Yes, this is new. The old “settled science” had our ancestors wandering into the Middle East and then seemingly sprinting into Europe just in time to displace the Neanderthals and make wonderful cave paintings. There are several blank spots in the fossil record to include the very early examples of Homo Sapiens, so along with this discovery you can expect to eventually find that we arose quite a bit earlier than is currently thought.

Why am I bringing this up?

Just to reassure you that when some blue-haired harpies starts screaming at you about global warming, it’s acceptable to laugh in their faces with very little chance of being wrong. And don’t forget that their parents went on about global cooling with the same fervor in the 70’s.

Superior Management?

January 26th, 2018

Elon Musk is most noted for two things: SpaceX, which is going gangbusters, and Tesla, which is not.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/01/25/tesla-employees-say-gigafactory-problems-worse-than-known.html

Tesla’s problems with battery production at the company’s Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, are worse than the company has acknowledged and could cause further delays and quality issues for the new Model 3, according to a number of current and former Tesla employees. These problems include Tesla needing to make some of the batteries by hand and borrowing scores of employees from one of its suppliers to help with this manual assembly, said these people.

Um, you can make stuff by hand if you’re a low-volume bespoke manufacturer, not when you’re trying to secure a portion of the worldwide automobile market.

But what if this is intentional? Mr. Musk takes the truly competent and has them design and make reusable rockets (something that NA$A, despite being around for over fifty years has yet to figure out) and the less so get to almost make cars that might never be delivered.

Just a thought.

I’m Starting To Get It

January 24th, 2018

I was a little kid during the Mercury/Gemini/Apollo programs. I was also a big NA$A fan, mostly because I had no idea that a private company could approach what a huge Gummint agency might accomplish.

Good times, eh?

So here we are in the Current Year, and these days, NA$A has turned into a bloated bureaucracy which functions both as a clearinghouse for other people’s projects and as a place for folks with advanced degrees to avoid going on welfare (I was about to write “public assistance” but…)

Just what are we getting with out tax dollars? Apparently this:

http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/moon-mars/a15855983/nasa-roscosmos-tokyo-talks/

Top NASA officials and their partners in the International Space Station program gathered in Tokyo this past Friday and Monday, Popular Mechanics has learned, for behind-closed-doors talks on the next big step in human spaceflight: the lunar orbiting station. Officially known as the Deep Space Gateway, or DSG, the modular outpost will occupy an egg-shaped orbit around the moon in the 2020s, when it replaces the ISS and becomes the main destination for astronauts and cosmonauts.

Although all partners generally agree on the idea of the DSG, the exact design and use of the future outpost is still up for debate. NASA hoped to use the outpost as a springboard for missions to Mars, while others are pushing for the exploration of the lunar surface. These diverse goals will be hard to reconcile in one space station because of technical and financial differences and limitations.

Who are these “partners”? I sure didn’t see anybody but Americans during the live broadcast of Apollo 11 I watched as a twelve year-old.

This series of technical discussions in Tokyo concluded earlier today with the meeting of the Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB). This group is comprised of top space officials in the ISS program from nations including the U.S., Europe, Canada, and Japan. They will try to hammer out drafts of a joint decision for the heads of their agencies to view.

Russia will play an important role in the final design and purpose of the station, even though the Roscosmos State Corporation, Russia’s space agency, was late embracing the project. It’s now scrambling to figure out its political position and its level of technical contribution for the DSG.

Russians? You mean the guys whose moon rockets kept blowing up? The ones who got to watch us on TV like everyone else? Those guys?

Now that I’m taking a few minutes to think about all this, I’m starting to think that NA$A isn’t as bad as I’ve been thinking. Consider this: a bunch of meetings and conferences to agree on what this lunar-orbiting station is really going to do. Arguments, deadlocks, strongly-worded memos and emails flying about, apparatchiks of every stripe and nationality bickering to and fro.

And when this station is finally ready and open for business, the people from SpaceX can watch the ceremony from their toehold on Mars. Go NA$A!