Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Yeah? Now What?

Sunday, January 21st, 2018

I saw this yesterday but I needed to let it sit for awhile before I commented:

In a criminal case resulting in suppressed evidence, Officer William Davis of the Dayton (OH) Police seems to have done exactly that. His bogus traffic stop resulted in the discovery of marijuana and a firearm, but none of that matters now. What was captured by his cruiser’s dashcam undercut his assertions and sworn testimony. That has led to an Ohio appeals court’s memorable decision, in which it’s declared the lower court was correct to rely on dashcam footage — rather than the officer’s testimony — when the two narratives diverged.

Alright, looks like a typical “dog bites man” story so far, although an appeals court ruling in favor of relying on video evidence instead of even a sworn statement seems so obvious that one wonders why it needed any sort of imprimatur. I mean, that’s one of the reasons that video evidence exists: memory fails and even trained observers make errors, right?

You should take a look at the linked article to see exactly what these cops tried to pull.

So now what? Seriously, I’m inclined to stop blogging about these stories, because the only noteworthy thing is the reversal.

A trial for perjury? Crickets.
Getting fired? Crickets.
Any real consequence? Crickets.

Call me when one of these cases results in real penalties for cops that waltz into court and lie. I did several searches: the court decision (Ohio v. Calvin Wilson) and the names of the two lying bastards, and found nothing, so as of this writing, they appear to have gotten clean away. This cannot go on.

I Could Use One of These

Friday, January 19th, 2018

The cylinder of uranium is the size of a coffee can. Even with its shielding and detectors, the device is still no larger than a wastepaper basket. But this little prototype, soon to be tested in the Nevada desert, fuels a dream of an off-world future for humanity.

The Kilopower project, a joint venture between NASA and the Department of Energy, is set to be the first nuclear fission reactor to reach space since the SNAP 10A project in the 1960s. A prototype is in testing, which makes it closer to launch than any of the other projects that popped up in the intervening decades.

The Kilopower reactor is designed to operate at two sizes, a one kilowatt (1,000 watt) model and a 10 kilowatt model.

Sign me up for one of those!

NA$A, Again

Friday, January 19th, 2018

WASHINGTON — An independent safety panel recommended NASA not certify SpaceX’s commercial crew system until the agency better understands the behavior of pressure vessels linked to a Falcon 9 failure in 2016.

That recommendation was one of the stronger items in the annual report of the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) released by NASA Jan. 11, which found that NASA was generally managing risk well on its various programs.

Independent? Here’s the link to that report:

Notice both NA$A and the dot gov in the URL? I’m pretty sure that my understanding of “independent” is a bit different. In any event, NA$A is trying to impose a standard of safety that they themselves never achieved. Once again, let me post the chart that Jeffersonian was kind enough to generate:

NASA death percentage(2)

Amusingly, we have this video:

First off, this guy is trying to assert that NA$A is a continuation of the Renaissance. I guess we’re supposed to ignore the half-millennium that lies in between. The next bit of hilarity is him contrasting the percentage of the Federal budget now versus the high point during the 60’s. Again, we’re supposed to ignore the part about how much larger the budget is now compared to FY1966. Then he trots this out:

Granted, that’s not nothing, but that has been mandated by Congress. If that stricture wasn’t in place, does anyone reading this think for a second that NA$A would be voluntarily sharing their goodies?

And completely ignored is that NA$A has pretty much done nothing new or innovative since the Moon landings, spends our tax dollars, and with the exception of a few prototypes, fields rockets that can only be used once. But, but, I hear you say. Think about it: the Shuttle, various stations, planetary rovers, satellites, etc., are nothing more than refinements of things that have existed in one form or another for half a century. And don’t forget that the Hubble telescope had to be repaired in space because they ground the mirror wrong. And there’s the money lost on one of the early Mars orbiters because one group was using the metric system and another English measurements.

Worshiping At Someone Else’s Altar

Thursday, January 18th, 2018

People who imagine that these tasks take no investment of time must not be terribly busy. But if we don’t perform this important labor for free (so we are scolded sternly), someone else will have to be paid to do it. That will only raise costs. In other words, the only way to make recycling economically viable is to constantly pile more work atop those of us who only live here.

Not that recycling seems to be viable — not beyond aluminum cans and plastics number 1 and 2. The rest of it can’t be processed at a profit. (Glass bottles and jars present a particular challenge.) As it turns out, much of the more valuable stuff can’t be processed at a profit either. Not unless the rest of us do a lot of the labor.

So why is this a thing? It’s a simple math formula: Government + Tree Huggers + Environmentalists = Mandatory Recycling. Think about it. How is this any different than an oppressive theocracy? Hint: it’s not; they’ve just eliminated the robes and rituals for a pile of regulations. And instead of the Inquisition you get some doughy apparatchik tooling around in a vehicle which you paid for, burning gasoline that you’re also paying for, waiting to fine you because you didn’t perform your free labor in exactly the right way.

In the meantime, what began nearly half a century back as a movement among happy optimists has become like too much else to which government turns its attention: heavy-handed, coercive, distant and thick with detailed rules. Recycling may be important, but it’s no longer romantic. It’s not fun. Nowadays, recycling isn’t solidarity. It’s ritualistic drudgery.

Don’t forget, as the author has seemed to, the shrieking choir of zealous harpies that keep this in place. And if you can’t hear them now, just wait until some fool mentions that perhaps some of these things should be rolled back a bit. And prepare to be deafened if the proposal is to stop it entirely.


Thursday, January 18th, 2018

A couple of weeks ago we had that winter storm Grayson down here, and it was just below freezing. Well, we’ve been getting the same sort of thing this week, too. Below freezing and everything. As the warmest thing in the house, I’ve been very popular with the Furry People.

Anyway, both times I noticed a bunch of people wearing their hunting clothes, which confused me, since it’s not any sort of season right now.

Then it hit me: this is the warmest stuff that folks down here have.

After a dozen years, I’m still acclimating to Florida.

Solving Half The Problem

Monday, January 15th, 2018

We show that the introduction of medical marijuana laws (MMLs) leads to a decrease in violent crime in states that border Mexico. The reduction in crime is strongest for counties close to the border (less than 350 kilometres) and for crimes that relate to drug trafficking. In addition, we find that MMLs in inland states lead to a reduction in crime in the nearest border state. Our results are consistent with the theory that decriminalisation of the production and distribution of marijuana leads to a reduction in violent crime in markets that are traditionally controlled by Mexican drug trafficking organisations.

(Complete abstract, Readers. No need to click through)

This seems to address one major part of The War On (Some) Drugs. How do you think the other part is going to react? I mean, with pot off the table (a table it should never have been on), whatever are our Heroes In Blues going to do with all those armored vehicles? How will they accept the knowledge that they’ve thrown their last flash-bang into a toddler’s crib?

Silly Observation: If this gets accepted by the Gummint, does this mean that this same Gummint will reverse the nearly fifty year-old evisceration of the Fourth Amendment? Yeah, me neither.

Harder To Kill Than a Vampire

Monday, January 15th, 2018

At least with a vampire, all you need to do is wait for it to enter its’ coffin and drive a wooden stake through its’ heart. But how do you kill a bloated and entrenched federal agency?

On Saturday afternoon, SpaceX successfully recovered a Dragon capsule that had returned from a cargo delivery to the International Space Station. The Dragon has so far been used mostly for those cargo runs, but it was also designed to carry crew — and NASA announced last week that it expects SpaceX to conduct a crewed test flight by the end of the year.

SpaceX’s crewed test flight is slated for December, after an uncrewed flight in August. will also be demonstrating its CST-100 Starliner capsule, with a crewed flight in November following an uncrewed flight in August.

Um, am I the only one to notice the obvious solution here? Think on that a moment as you read further:

NASA’s goal is to launch crews to the ISS from U.S. soil, a task that has fallen to Russia’s space program since the retirement of the U.S. Space Shuttle program in 2011. NASA began looking for private launch companies to take over starting in 2010, and contracted both SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to pursue crewed launches. The push to restore America’s crewed spaceflight capacity has been delayed in part, according to a detailed survey by Ars Technica, by Congress redirecting funds in subsequent years.

Ah, I see. We have two issues here, and unsurprisingly Congress is one of them.

Have you also stumbled onto the clear answer here? The cutting-out-the-middleman one? I mean, if SpaceX is doing the job, what earthly (SWIDT?) use is NA$A?

More Water

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

On the Moon this time:

Small pits in a large crater on the Moon’s North Pole could be “skylights” leading down to an underground network of lava tubes – tubes holding hidden water on Earth’s nearest neighbour, according to new research.

There’s no lava in them now of course, though that’s originally how the tubes formed in the Moon’s fiery past. But they could indicate easy access to a water source if we ever decide to develop a Moon base sometime in the future.

Despite the Moon’s dry and dusty appearance, scientists think it contains a lot of water trapped as frozen ice. What these new observations carried out by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show is that it might be much more accessible than we thought.

ASIDE: “There’s no lava in them now of course, though that’s originally how the tubes formed in the Moon’s fiery past. Jeez. Think of the sort of individual who needs to be told that. And then remember that his/her vote counts as much as yours does. Just thought I would brighten up your day a bit.

So why is this noteworthy? Well, having some of these tubes at the surface makes finding and accessing them a lot easier than digging. And with them right there at the surface makes setting up a solar-powered machine that can break the water down to its’ components easier. (For those who needed the explanation about the lava tubes: water is made up of hydrogen (fuel/heating) and oxygen (breathing stuff). I wish this bit of sarcasm didn’t have some roots in reality.)

And the best part? Once again, the Prophet was right.

Not Exactly Canals

Friday, January 12th, 2018

Within our lifetime, Mars has gone from a wet world with canals to a dry, cold, inhospitable desert. I wish they’d make up their minds already. The latest is somewhat in the middle: still cold and inhospitable, but with more water than previously suspected.

Just below the surface, Mars is full of ice. New observations have revealed steep cliffs cut out of thick sheets of ice, which may be able to tell us about the planet’s climate over the past millions of years.

We know from previous radar studies that ice abounds just under Mars’s dusty surface, but where exactly it is in the Martian crust or how deep it goes is still unclear.

Colin Dundas at the US Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona and his colleagues examined pictures from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and found eight ice patches in steep cliffs, which formed as ice accumulated over millions of years just under the Martian surface. Erosion revealed these icy blue spots, and they’re still visible today.

Okay then. A lot of folks (including me) thought that there was going to be a need for ice asteroid harvesting to keep any Martian settlements alive. That might still be the case, but it won’t be as pressing a need as first thought.

Always keep The Goal in mind: bacon-wrapped tater tots. On Mars.

Insert Blog Post Here

Friday, January 12th, 2018

I needed to do some part-swapping on this here laptop, and I figured that it would make for a dandy post. Except for the part where the effing camera refused to boot up.

The patient is a Toshiba Satellite P775D. The screen, keyboard and fan were on the menu.


I’ve rebuilt/repaired a pile of laptops, and this screen replacement was about the easiest one ever. The ribbon cable which connects the screen to the motherboard usually has the connector at the motherboard, requiring that you take the thing to pieces. Not this time: the connector is at the back of the LED panel, so all I had to do was to pop off the bezel, remove six screws, unplug the old, plug in the new and button it all up. Very easy. Suspiciously easy.


I should’ve known that there was going to be a reckoning after the screen nearly replaced itself. Do you know how many screws there are holding the cabinet together? 22, as in TWENTY-EFFING TWO. We all own firearms without that many fasteners.

But I’m not really complaining. Start to finish was under an hour, and I didn’t have any leftover parts or screws. Always a good sign, heh.