Dot Versus Feather

May 24th, 2017

A candidate for the 2018 U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts tweeted out a video on Sunday challenging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) to prove her claims of having American Indian heritage.

V.A. Shiva, who is seeking the Republican nomination in 2018 and has claimed he invented email, filmed himself holding a “23andMe” DNA testing kit, which he claims requires only his saliva and a “few short days” to prove if he was a real Indian. Shiva was born in Bombay, India, while Warren’s claim is about having American Indian, or Native American, heritage.

“I want to challenge Elizabeth Warren to do the same,” he said. “I’m calling this now the Real Indian vs. Fake Indian challenge. Elizabeth, why don’t you do this? It’s really, really simple.”

I am Shiva, destroyer of bullshit.

No, you won’t find that in any of the Vedas. At least not yet.

In Lieu of a Real Post

May 24th, 2017

It’s a plane, it’s a blimp … it’s the world’s largest aircraft.

A massive airship dubbed the Airlander 10 recently completed a successful test flight, bringing the helium-filled behemoth one step closer to commercial use.

Though it looks like a massive blimp, the Airlander 10 combines technology from airplanes, helicopters, and airships. It is designed to stay aloft at altitudes of up to 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) for up to five days when manned, according to Hybrid Air Vehicles, the company that built the aircraft. And at a mammoth 302 feet (92 m) long, it is the largest aircraft currently flying.

While it’s interesting to note how a modern take on an older technology gives results not available seventy or eighty years ago, that’s not the reason for this post.

This is:

Yep, I went there

I’ll be here all week. Don’t forget to tip your waitress, and Chef Tony recommends the veal. Heh.

Maybe You’ll Listen to Him

May 4th, 2017

Humans will need to colonise another planet within one hundred years to ensure our survival, according to Professor Stephen Hawking.

The astrophysicist has made a new documentary, Expedition New Earth, as part of the BBC’s new science season Tomorrow’s World. In it he will claim that time is running out for Earth and if humanity is to survive climate change, asteroid strikes, epidemics and overpopulation we will need to leave our planet and venture further afield.

OK, so this is a fluff-piece advertising a TV show, but my point stands.

And do note that all the reasons Dr. Hawking cites do not include crazy fanatics deploying home-made nukes in rented vans. Remember what I’ve told you: the invention requires genius, after that it’s just engineering, and if you don’t mind dying horribly (something about 72 virgins, for instance) a Hiroshima-level bomb can be built at a kitchen table or garage workbench. And the easy availability and sophistication of today’s electronics (such as the Raspberry Pi or other SBC (single board computer)) makes this much easier than 1945-level tech.

Then there are the growing number of people who seem to think that 1984 is an instruction manual. It won’t take too many of them clustered in a national-level Legislature to get the bright idea that off-grid power generation requires registration or restriction to render that rejection of society all but impossible.

From My Cold, Dead Lips

May 3rd, 2017

Jenny Craig can’t arrest you if you miscount your calories, but the federal government could if a new calorie-counting rule takes effect.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s “Nutrition Labeling of Standard Menu Items in Restaurants and Similar Retail Food Establishments” (79 FR 71155) rule is scheduled to take effect on May 5. The 105-page rule implements Obama-era amendments to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act), which sets national standards for the marketing and labeling of food products.

The guy has been gone for better than three months, and he’s still trying to screw with us. Hopefully, the God-Emperor will take about thirty seconds out of his busy schedule and kill this before it’s born.

Domino’s, for instance, offers customers a selection of 27 regular toppings and nine sauces on five types of crust. All told, there are 34 million potential pizza combinations one could order from Domino’s. Whether a customer adds double pepperoni or mushrooms to their customizable pie can make a significant difference in the calorie range of each pizza.

Because, AMERICA!

Speaking of Domino’s, around here if you go there on Tuesday (carry-out) you can order two pizzas: you pay for the more expensive one, and the other one is free. Did I just say AMERICA?

It sure looks like there’s yet another agency that needs to be burnt to the ground, right after NA$A and the BATFE.


Looks like the God-Emperor found that thirty seconds, from the Washington FREE BACON!! Oh, wait, that’s the Free Beacon. Sorry about that:

The Trump administration is delaying an onerous Obamacare regulation that left confusion as to what a menu is.
The Obama rule that mandated calorie labeling in restaurants and groceries was set to take effect on Friday. After complaints from small businesses, the Food and Drug Administration announced Monday it was delaying compliance for one year and will work to add flexibility to the regulation.

And sometime during that year, this will quietly die.

Still Not Getting Old

May 1st, 2017

About ten hours ago (at the time of this writing) SpaceX launched a “secret, classified mission” on behalf of the Gummint. Whatever.

The exciting part is that the main booster landed back at Canaveral instead of off-shore on one of the barges SpaceX has.

The good stuff starts at 14:22 and wraps up at 21:06. Eventually this stuff will become routine, and therefore a bit boring, but not yet!

At this point, I’d type something like “F*** NA$A” and wrap this up, but today, there’s more:

Note that this is published by an enemy media outlet, so you’ll be reading all sorts of partisan sniping if you choose to click the link.

Such a sense of urgency was on full display during Trump’s call with the International Space Station this week.

“What do you see a timing for actually sending humans to Mars? Is there a schedule? And when would you see that happening?” Trump asked Peggy Whitson, the commander of the station.

“Well, I think as your bill directed, it will be approximately in the 2030s,” Whitson replied.

“Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term,” Trump said. “So we’ll have to speed that up a little bit, okay?”

Whitson laughed. “We’ll do our best,” she said.

“I think we’ll do it a lot sooner than we’re even thinking,” Trump said later in the call.

It wasn’t clear whether the president was serious about sending humans to Mars in the next four years, or making a joke that jibes with a campaign promise of rapid change. Either way, it would be impossible. The United States doesn’t have any crew launch capabilities of its own, and pays Russia millions of dollars to send its astronauts to space. And then there’s the science. Several stories appeared explaining what kind of engineering feats it would take to transport a crew to Mars that fast, with Sarah Fecht at Popular Science with perhaps the best response: a time machine. Asked to clarify the statement, a White House spokesman offered only that “the president has already taken steps to refocus NASA on its core mission of exploration.”

So much, thankfully, for “Muslim outreach”. Don’t get me wrong: NA$A is still a bloated agency which needs some ruthless trimming. And forcing it to adopt SpaceX’s reusable boosters would be a direct benefit to us taxpayers, who, after all, are paying for all this. But I have to wonder just how effective “steps to refocus NA$A on its core mission of exploration” is going to be so long as NA$A remains a work program for PhD’s who didn’t join the private sector.

I Still Don’t Have a StG-44

May 1st, 2017

Or a second pattern FG42 either.

After eight long years, we once again have a president who respects and cherishes individual freedom. For America’s law-abiding gun owners, the Trump administration is proving to be among the best in history. So it’s important to take stock of all he has accomplished on behalf of the Second Amendment in a very short time.

Blah blah blah, etc. Trump hasn’t signed the Hearing Protection Act into law, you still cannot go to a gunshop and buy the Norinco-made M14/M1A clone, and speaking of gunshops, you still have to fill out a 4473 to buy a firearm there.

Then again, President Trump is way better than the other choice we had, so I should probably shut my mouth.

Another Step Along The Way

May 1st, 2017

TOKYO — With tensions on the Korean Peninsula running high, Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force conducted an operation to safeguard U.S. vessels for the first time since the country enacted new security legislation allowing such actions in March last year.

The MSDF helicopter carrier Izumo left the U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, on Monday morning. The mission, ordered by Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, is aimed at deterring the North Korean regime, which attempted to test fire a ballistic missile on Saturday, from further provocations by demonstrating a robust U.S.-Japan alliance.

Actually, it’s more than that. Even ten years ago such a mission would’ve been unthinkable for the Japanese, what with their state-mandated pacifism in the aftermath of the Pacific War.

Under the new legislation, Japan’s SDF can provide protection for U.S. forces in ordinary times using a limited, minimum number of weapons to the extent needed to carry out a mission.

Baby steps, Hiroshi, baby steps. But at least they’re taking them.

It bears noticing the way in which the Japanese Government is soft-selling the Izumo: the official designation is DDH-183. “DD” is destroyer, and the “H”, of course, means helicopter. That’s a pretty interesting way to designate a ship that any casual observer would instantly recognize as an aircraft carrier. And when one decides to embark VTOL aircraft, such as the Harrier or the F-35, Japan will gain a force projection capability she hasn’t had since 1945. Alright, technically 1944 when she lost all her carrier-qualified pilots, but you get my drift.

And let’s take a minute to look at the naming conventions. The IJN Izumo was an armored cruiser (built by the Brits, FYI) in the very late 19th Century. She participated in the Russo-Japanese War, y’know, the war that let the world know that Japan was going to be a major player on the world stage. Some various duties leading up to, and during WW1. A very minor role in WW2, which made the name both traditional and bereft of any controversy.

Now let’s take a look at the second “helicopter destroyer” in the class: the JS Kaga. Both Infogalactic articles say that the ships are named after provinces, and while that’s true (so far as it goes), you know just as well as I do that the Japanese are naming these ships after ones that served in earlier times and conflicts. Just as we have had nine ships named Enterprise over the years, including two that served before the formal founding of the US Navy. And let’s not forget the training building that’s being built that will be commissioned as the tenth USS Enterprise.

Enough digression. The Kaga is named after this ship:

She participated in the Pearl Harbor raid and was sunk at the battle of Midway, ironically by aircraft flying off the 7th USS Enterprise*. That the Japanese are shaking off the government-imposed shame of WW2 can be nothing but good for both Japan and us in the future. We need friends in east Asia, particularly strong and well-armed ones. And do I need to mention ones who have about the same amount of salt water flowing through their veins as we do? Nah, you’re smart girls and boys and you already figured that out.

Banzai Kaga!

*Technically/Officially that Enterprise (CV-6) was the fifth, but I’m including the two pre-USN ships.

Perhaps You Should Rethink This

April 29th, 2017

EMP-Hardened Radio Communications Kindle Edition

Not gonna say anything more. Either you get it or you don’t.

Thursday Ends In A “Y”, Right?

April 27th, 2017

The state of NASA’s space suit supply looks bleak in a new report from the space agency’s auditor. NASA is still “years away” from having a new space suit ready for future deep-space missions, the report claims, even though the agency has invested close to $200 million on space suit development since 2007.

Meanwhile, NASA seems to be running out of the space suits it does have for the astronauts on the ISS. Only a fraction of the original space suit supply for the station is fully functional right now, and NASA may risk not having enough space suits to last through the end of the ISS program, currently scheduled for 2024.

If either of us told the other that this was somehow surprising, there would be lying going on.

These problems, outlined by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG), could turn into major roadblocks for NASA as it tries to pull off its long-term human exploration plans. Right now, NASA’s goal is to start building a human outpost in the space near the Moon throughout the 2020s, where astronauts can live and train for future deep-space missions. Then in the 2030s, the first Mars astronauts will leave from this outpost and make the journey to the Red Planet.

As much as NA$A has earned a well-deserved hammering for this, and it is a day ending in “Y”, this is actually fantastic news. Think about it: by the time NA$A gets its’ act together, the astronauts they send will have to clear Customs. And then buy air and water credits (Heinlein reference for the obtuse).

You know, I was gonna end it here, but I just can’t.

What the effity-eff are we paying for? A friggin decade to end up with nothing? With all the billions-with-a-B that they collect in tax dollars?

We should write to the President and demand that every dollar increase in the Federal budget be balanced by reducing NA$A’s budget by two. I’d say to take the entire thing and split it up amongst the private companies that are actually doing something, but no. First off, the tax rates are too high and Gummint shouldn’t be in the business of stealing from their employers anyway. Second, they’ll be wanting something for all those dollars, and getting away from the US Government is just as important as getting away from all the nuclear-armed crazies and/or fanatics.

The Border Between “Proto” and “Early” Gets Closer

April 26th, 2017

It’s less than two months before his company’s initial product launch, and CEO Ric Fulop is excitedly showing off rows of stripped-down 3-D printers, several bulky microwave furnaces, and assorted small metal objects on a table for display. Behind a closed door, a team of industrial designers sit around a shared work desk, each facing a large screen. The wall behind them is papered with various possible looks for the startup’s ambitious products: 3-D printers that can fabricate metal parts cheaply and quickly enough to make the technology practical for widespread use in product design and manufacturing.

To continue:

Hobbyists and self-proclaimed makers can use relatively inexpensive 3-D printers to make wonderfully complex and ingenious shapes out of plastics. And some designers and engineers have found those machines useful in mocking up potential products, but printing polymer parts has found little use on the production floor in anything but a few specialized products, such as customized hearing aids and dental implants.

Though it is possible to 3-D-print metals, doing so is difficult and pricey. Advanced manufacturing companies such as GE are using very expensive machines with specialized high-power lasers to make a few high-value parts (see “Additive Manufacturing” in our 10 Breakthrough Technologies list of 2013). But printing metals is limited to companies with millions to spend on the equipment, facilities to power the lasers, and highly trained technicians to run it all. And there is still no readily available option for those who want to print various iterations of a metal part during the process of product design and development.

This is a huge milestone. Being able to design and print metal parts or components will revolutionize industry on every level.

Where is your gun control now? And where will it be after ten years of refinement and market development? Sure, right now, you’d have to sell your kids, a leg, and several internal organs to get your hands on one. But in the not too distant future? Maybe not in every workshop, but odds are that if you don’t own one yourself, you’ll know someone who does.

If these guys are successful, this will likely mark the transition between proto-fabbers and early fabber technology.