More Water

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

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

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.

Bundy, From The Other Side

January 9th, 2018

So yeah, I read about the outcome of the latest Bundy trial (yay!) from the same places you did. I went over to Instapundit to see about the Good Professor’s take on it and found nothing. Disappointing, but not surprising; he might be listed as on our side, but he’s an awfully centrist neo-Nazi type [/sarc].

Comes today, and he finally notices it:

This is an interesting choice of linkagery, as Mr. Turley is a no-kidding liberal. So let’s take a look at what Professor Turley has to say:

The result has been the expenditure of millions on prosecutions based in part on some troubling theories and advanced through unethical means. Yet, there is not even a suggestion of discipline from Main Justice, which is why this pattern will continue in federal courts. The Justice Department has never shown a particularly credible record of policing its own ranks. The Brady violations reflect the absence of any real deterrent due to this culture of tolerance and willful blindness at Main Justice. Hopefully, the review ordered by Sessions will result in real changes and actions by Main Justice to deal with this persistent problem. However, in seeking changes, Sessions will face a bureaucracy with a proven record of resistance to reform.

Alright, so we got a peek behind the curtain. What now? Pretty much nothing, I’m afraid. Undoubtedly, the most guilty will be encouraged to resign. Count on hearing nothing about this until long after their departures. About the only thing that might make the news will be any severance packages. This will be noteworthy only if you’re paying attention, as I expect some outrage about the paucity of these agreements from our so-called allies (the law and order types who cannot conceive of the Gummint ever being wrong) even as we scream and holler that these mokes shouldn’t have gotten a dime.

Then what? Crickets, for several months at least. Then there will be some press releases that nobody will read announcing that so-and-so has been hired by such-and-such law firm. And things will continue as they have been. Y’see boys and girls, the legal edifice in this country is absolutely terrified of a hard look at the whole slimy business of “immunity”, which has been a judicially created protection over the course of the 20th Century. Any sort of scrutiny will collapse the whole thing, and that cannot be countenanced, much less endured. After all, laws are for the little people.

The Mantra

January 3rd, 2018

I’ve been messing around with computers and stuff for awhile now, and I’ve developed the SEPHQ Mantra:

AMD, ASUS, Western Digital, Kingston, NVidia.

I don’t follow this slavishly (especially with video cards), but I’ve generally had good results by following the Mantra.

Down the pike comes this:

The condensed version is that pretty much all the Intel “i” CPUs (i3, i5, etc.) have this vulnerability. I’m unsure exactly how this is going to work with various O/S: for sure this will affect Windows, but Linux? That remains to be seen.

I’ll of course be monitoring this as it develops. I have an i3 based laptop and an i5 desktop, neither of which I use very much. Guess it’s time to dust them both off, eh?

The Weather

January 3rd, 2018

Yes, that Polar Vortex/Cold Front thing has reached Florida. It’s going to be (just) below freezing for the next three nights, and the Regularly Scheduled weather won’t return until Sunday.

ASIDE: This is one of the few times I miss having a TV set and cable service. How this works is that the Weather Bunnies ™ (a generic non-sex specific term) get on camera and shriek about the citrus crop and stacks of frozen children at the school bus stops. The only thing better is during a hurricane, when these intellectual paragons site themselves at the end of a jetty to tell us all about the storm that we can see by looking out a window. Being the empathetic sort that I am, I root for a wave sweeping them off into the sea in mid-broadcast.

The change in weather was, as usual, ushered in with rain. New Year’s Day was drizzly and cool, and The Game was for the young Lord to run around outside to get himself thoroughly damp, hop onto my lap and shake himself off. Good times.

Last night, our cold-adapted VikingCat proved that for all the floof and fur, he’s still a cat:

Yes, that’s Deathwalker, whose ancestors helped to terrorize Northwest Europe and travel to the New World (from whence we have the Maine Coon), sleeping under a blanket.

(Sorry about the blurry photo. The built-in camera on the laptop here is OK for video, but much less so for pictures)

Not Shutting Up, Wesley

January 3rd, 2018

Srsly, Mr. Wheaton, when you’ve been memed, you really have only two choices: revel in it or ignore it. You have instead decided to take the third course and complain about it. Bad move, sir.

The link to where these “minifigs” can be purchased is here:

Seventy-five quid?! Crikey!

Back to our subject:

Another brief and related note on “Shut up, Wesley”, from a Reddit thread seven months ago:

People have been saying this to me since I was fourteen. I’m nearly 45. I’ve heard this for the entirety of my adult life. It’s annoying. It isn’t funny, it isn’t clever, and it’s just become obnoxious.

Here we have a stellar example of Doing It Wrong. One has every right in the world to one’s opinion, of course, but when one publically expresses that opinion, folks are also going to react to that, especially the ones who were using the meme for trolling in the first place.

I was in my mid-30’s when the Mistah Crushah character appeared, and I knew this was for the kiddies, just as the Ewoks were. Didn’t really mind him too much, after all he wasn’t anywhere as annoying as Jar-Jar Binks, amirite? Besides, there were far more important things to criticize, such as the portrayal of the one truly capitalistic race, the Ferengi, as at least unseemly and somewhat unclean. For starters, ST:TNG never explained how such obvious untermenschen managed to become both starfaring and integrated into the interstellar economy.

Back to Mister Crush-, um, Wheaton. The above linked post wasn’t sufficient; he had to double down:

At least three blogs linked to my blog about the minifigs today. All three of the ones I saw essentially quoted the entire thing, and then added commentary that misrepresented what I said, and what my intention was when I said it.

Another blog, home to one of the most pathetic, sad, empty, angry, hateful failures in the universe also linked to it.

The resulting flood of toxic and cruel and hateful people into my life has been appalling and revealing.

D00d, just what in the Delta Quadrant are you doing here? As I noted to Jeffersonian in a Skype chat, I’m not into bullying, nor am I inclined to being gratuitously mean to people, but when someone approaches me and says “if I give you $20, will you give me a wedgie?” it becomes awfully hard to resist.


Some inside baseball stuff for some of you: the pushback against the tide of encroaching leftism occupies many fronts. Many of you regular readers know full well about gun control and legitimizing and normalizing firearms. What you might not realize that this Kulturkampf also includes Science Fiction, and the …Another blog, home to one of the most pathetic, sad, empty, angry, hateful failures in the universe also linked to it he referred to would be this one:

The “failure” who runs Vox Populi started Infogalactic (the Wikipedia alternative), Castalia House publishing, and is now setting up a comic book series entitled Alt*Hero. And that just what he’s done in the past two or three years.

Rather than bore y’all to death with minutiae, just know that you have allies in this that you don’t realize you have, and they are doing Good Deeds on your behalf in areas you don’t realize are important.

Make Sure to Check Everything

December 27th, 2017

To say that home repairs and maintenance can be an adventure around here would be something of an understatement. For the record, “around here”, is a “Westly”: a Sears Craftsman kit house built in 1920 (yes, Virginia, between 1913 and 1942 you could buy what is basically a giant modeling kit that when you put it together turned into a house). The wiring in particular can get pretty exciting, as there are long runs of wire with the old-timey fabric insulation around it.

Some weeks back, the work light over the stove went TU. Pulled off the cover, wiggled the bulb around: yep, dead as a doornail. I figured that at some point I’d pull the fluorescent tube and get a new one. The other “death” was the toaster, which led me, for the very first time in my life, to pry open my wallet and actually buy a toaster-oven. (I noticed early on that folks throw those out not when they break (although I’m sure that some do), but when they get to a certain level of filthy. So yeah, I would pull one out of the trash, clean the hell out of it, and use it. When I found a bigger/better one, that would get cleaned up, and the old one would go.)

There I was, trying to figure out which portion of the very limited counter space would get the toaster-oven. Outlets on both sides of the stove were dead, which was a surprise. At first, I decided to blame the godless Chinese for selling me a defective unit, but then I plugged the thing into an outlet that I knew worked. Sure enough, toast! Yummy!

Then it occurred to me: check the fusebox, and sure enough, that circuit was tripped.

[hangs head in shame] It’s not as though I just got out of school and didn’t know anything. Nor do I come from a family that hires others to fix stuff around the house. To make it worse, who do you think was my father’s chief assistant and all-around gopher? Yep, you’re reading his blog.

Now I have both a regular toaster and a toaster-oven. Yes, there’s some redundancy here, but another family trait is that I resist throwing anything out unless it’s well-and-truly broken and it’s beyond my ability to repair.

But the work light over the stove is working again, so there’s that.


(One of my upcoming projects is to rebuild the ABS on the 1989 Mercedes 300SE that’s out in the driveway. I’m sure I’ll figure out a way to totally screw that up, too.)

Yeah, That’s Gonna Work

December 22nd, 2017

Mankind hasn’t yet explored some of the most interesting objects in our own solar system — heck, we still don’t even know all that much about Earth itself — but that isn’t stopping NASA from setting its sights at a destination so distant that it would take decades for a spacecraft to even get there. A tentative mission is currently being outlined that would see NASA send a spacecraft on an interstellar mission to explore the Alpha Centauri system.

The proposed journey, which was revealed by scientists with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the 2017 Geophysical Union Conference and reported by New Scientist, was born out of a budget mandate to make progress on interstellar travel. Now, NASA is working on technology that, if all goes as planned, could allow a spacecraft to reach ten percent of light speed and the goal is to have it ready by 2069 with Alpha Centauri in its sights.

An expensive, complicated mission to someplace we already know doesn’t have any place to colonize? Even when they try to do the right thing, NA$A cannot help being NA$A.

And 2069? As in fifty-two years? Puh-leeze, that’s gonna work out just fine. Picture this scenario, if you will: the lauded expedition finally arrives at their destination. Great hopes have been expressed for a repeat of the 1969 Moon landing, in terms of hype, propaganda, and national prestige, when the broadcast is interrupted–

“Ahoy, unknown spacecraft: you are in orbit around planet Elon. If you intend to visit, please have your documents in order and prepare to be boarded for inspection by our customs agents.”

Going For The Low Bar

December 18th, 2017

Bestiality brothels are spreading through Germany faster than ever thanks to a law that makes animal porn illegal but sex with animals legal, a livestock protection officer has warned.

Madeleine Martin told the Frankfurter Rundschau that current laws were not protecting animals from predatory zoophiles who are increasingly able to turn to bestiality as a ‘lifestyle choice’.

That’s not a great start, and the rest of the article doesn’t get much better.

But one thing that the article assiduously avoids bringing up is what shift in tastes or populations would give rise to Achmed’s Rent-a-Sheep, GmbH.

Just to pick a name out of thin air.