A Thousand Words

February 21st, 2017

Yeah, this is probably a Photoshop. What’s your point?

Government: making everything worse forever, your local Department of Transportation edition.

A Whiff of Sanity in Granolaville

February 21st, 2017

(For those of you just joining, “Granolaville” is my name for Portland, Oregon)


A number of protesters were arrested for blocking the road at an anti-Trump rally in Portland, Oregon, on Monday.

Protesters took to the streets for “Not My President’s Day” rallies in about 28 cities across the nation, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Kansas City, Washington, D.C., New York, and Portland, with the intention of letting the president know there is widespread opposition to his policies.

Unlike the Tea Party, which was entirely peaceful and family-friendly, the left-wing anti-Trump rallies have become known for their violence, lawbreaking, and profanity. In downtown Portland, protesters were arrested for defying police orders to stop blocking the road.

There’s a video in the linked article. By all means, enjoy.

When one thinks of the various leftwing hellholes in America, Portland isn’t necessarily one of the places one immediately thinks of. But it certainly qualifies, and it’s refreshing to see that the adults are starting to grow weary of the constant temper tantrums that the Left calls “protests”.

I’m Gonna Need More Cat Food

February 17th, 2017


TWRA confirms cougars in Tennessee

(…) At least nine cougar sightings have been confirmed. TWRA said they will be monitoring the natural expansion of the cougar.
“Obviously, they are coming this way: there’s a few scattered records here and there and I think they will be here at some point, coming down from the north. We obviously have a lot of deer in this area so the prey is here for them to have,” said Colclough.
According to TWRA cougars, once they establish a home range [it] can be up to 150 miles. They can travel up to 600 miles or more to find that home range.

I do have some time. I wonder how many cans of Friskies a cougar goes through at a single sitting?

UPDATE: a commenter suggests 18 cans. While obviously an estimate, it’s certainly more helpful than “as many as it wants”, as true as that is.

Hmmm, Good Point

February 16th, 2017

So, today we have this:


Drone Flying Cars Will Soar Over Dubai This Summer

Up, up and away: Dubai hopes to have a passenger-carrying drone regularly buzzing through the skyline of this futuristic city-state in July.

The arrival of the Chinese-made EHang 184 — which already has had its flying debut over Dubai’s iconic, sail-shaped Burj al-Arab skyscraper hotel — comes as the Emirati city also has partnered with other cutting-edge technology companies, including Hyperloop One.

The question is whether the egg-shaped, four-legged craft will really take off as a transportation alternative in this car-clogged city already home to the world’s longest driverless metro line.

Sounds pretty good, eh? Even for someone who has dealt with Chinese quality control for decades (I’ll repeat here my assertion that “quality control” has no equivalent term in Mandarin), this sounds pretty good. Not nearly as good as the flying car that I’m still waiting for. Or the human settlements on Luna and Mars, for that matter, but I’m wandering too far afield here. Back to the flying drones:

Sounds really cool, but there’s a fly in the ointment.


At this point, the important thing to remember about any autonomous drone, no matter how big, is that getting it to fly is not the difficult part. Strap enough motors and batteries to just about anything and you can get it off the ground. What’s difficult is controlling it, especially in adverse conditions, challenging environments, or if something goes wrong.

As far as I know, there is no way of surviving a total (or perhaps even partial) motor or software failure on a drone like this. With an airplane or a helicopter, even if absolutely everything dies on you, you still have a reasonable chance (if you know what you’re doing) of landing the aircraft so that you’ll live, and maybe even walk away. With this drone, there’s simply nothing you could do—even if you were an experienced drone pilot, which most passengers won’t be.

I guess the thing to be grateful for is that it won’t be Americans dying when these things break. And I’m pretty sure that the drone manufacturers are equally grateful that Chinese people won’t either. Recall that I’ve said repeatedly that people die when you’re fielding a new technology, and that’s a tragic (yet necessary) cost of development. I’m just not sure if that arranging to have somebody else’s citizens take that risk is fiendishly clever or criminally cynical.

Off Label Use

February 16th, 2017


Especially in light of the previous post, I can think of a use or two that have nothing to do with lawn care. Just sayin’.

Just a Story…

February 15th, 2017

…for now:


Our Kind believes in fair play and the Rule of Law, even unto our detriment. At some point you mopes are going to breach that, and may God help you, because we won’t.

Not as Easy as it Looks

February 15th, 2017

Jeffersonian: The US Navy, the best navy in the history of navies.

Here are two articles:


Recently the only Russian aircraft carrier (the Kuznetsov) completed its longest and busiest cruise yet, spending 117 days at sea and carrying out 420 aircraft takeoffs using its Su-33s and MiG-29Ks jets. Some of those flights were for combat missions in Syria. That level of activity comes out to 3.6 fixed wing aircraft operations per day. While doing that two jets were lost. Russia considered this a training cruise that cost less than $200 million. That was true but while it demonstrated the Russian carrier could carry out flight operations it did them at a lower level of intensity and with far more accidents than their U.S. Navy counterparts. An American carrier averages about 24 catapult assisted aircraft operations a day over careers that last more than 40 years. The accident rate is much lower than what the Russians experienced.

As they say in St. Petersburg, no shitsky. And for those of you a bit slow on the uptake, an “operation” doesn’t mean just one aircraft. And let’s not forget that we don’t launch aircraft only on sunny days with calm seas.



Naval Air: Indian Carriers Forced To Go Naked

In early 2017 the Indian Navy issued a request for foreign suppliers to bid on a $15 billion contract to supply 57 jet fighter-bombers capable of operating from an aircraft carrier. This comes after a late 2016 announcement by the navy that India’s locally designed and built LCA (Light Combat Aircraft or “Tejas”) jet fighter was unsuitable for use on Indian aircraft carriers. The navy mentioned the LCA being overweight and, well, simply not suitable.

What do you call an aircraft carrier that doesn’t have any aircraft? I don’t know either; I’m just asking. It’s easy to point and laugh from our vantage point because the hurdles we faced getting carrier ops sorted are beyond living memory. But also recall that the Indian Army is having troubles fielding a rifle that actually works.

Then there’s this:

The same could be said with the way India buys foreign weapons. What is going on here? It is all about the infamous Indian procurement bureaucracy. That includes the problem with the procurement bureaucracy being so inefficient that even when the military gets the money to buy some foreign system it can take a decade of more for the bureaucrats to make it happen.

With Indian made weapons there is also corruption and inefficiency in state owned firms.

The corruption might not be as difficult to solve as you might think. After all, India has a sizable number of tigers that can be used to punish the guilty. The more pressing problem is adopting and embracing newer technologies. Take something simple, like firearms. After you slog through the permitting process, just what will your rupees buy? In a hunting rifle, you’re pretty much restricted to what is a newly-produced No1 rifle (SMLE) chambered in a non-military caliber with sporting furniture. Handgun? You can score an uncertainly made copy of a Webley, also in a non-military caliber. I’ve not seen anything designed after WW1 (although that doesn’t mean such things don’t exist).

We really should be rooting for the Indians. Despite their appetite for Russian cast-offs, they’re an ally, and would make useful contributions when the Chinese get frisky. Even if that contribution is soaking up Chinese anti-ship missiles.

The Importance of Commas

February 15th, 2017


Churchill essay on the possibility of alien life discovered in US college

That’s the published headline. At this remove, I think that we’d all agree that a fair number of aliens can be found in almost any college. [snerk]

For clarity, let me edit this a bit:

Churchill essay on the possibility of alien life, discovered in US college

There, that’s a little better.

Best part:

Step by step, Churchill reaches a view and expresses it a final sentence that mixes despair with optimism. He writes: “I, for one, am not so immensely impressed by the success we are making of our civilisation here that I am prepared to think we are the only spot in this immense universe which contains living, thinking creatures, or that we are the highest type of mental and physical development which has ever appeared in the vast compass of space and time.”

That’s within hailing distance of “Beam me up, Scotty: there’s no intelligent life down here.” But far more elegantly expressed.

NA$A’s Backup

February 4th, 2017


A draft of a US Congressional report into NASA’s commercial crew program has found technical problems with both SpaceX’s and Boeing’s efforts to provide transport to the International Space Station. However, according to The Wall Street Journal, the forthcoming report from the US Government Accountability Office focuses most closely on issues with turbopumps in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.

Of course it focuses on SpaceX. Boeing is a long-time partner in the Military Industrial Complex, and SpaceX is a bunch of upstart outsiders.

The newspaper says the report has found a “pattern of problems” with the turbine blades within the turbopumps, which deliver rocket fuel into the combustion chamber of the Merlin rocket engine. Some of the components used in the turbopumps are prone to cracks, the government investigators say, and may require a redesign before NASA allows the Falcon 9 booster to be used for crewed flights. NASA has been briefed on the report’s findings, and the agency’s acting administrator, Robert Lightfoot, told the newspaper that he thinks “we know how to fix them.”

Alright, this isn’t entirely unfounded: this was a problem for the Germans during WW2 with the Jumo 004 engines used in the Me262 jet fighter. Even today, with alloys that simply didn’t exist in the 1943-45 timeframe, the turbopumps and blades coming apart is an issue.

However, let me (once again) highlight the difference between a private company and a tax-funded Gummint agency:

A spokesman for SpaceX, John Taylor, said the company already has a plan in place to fix the potential cracking issue. “We have qualified our engines to be robust to turbine wheel cracks,” Taylor said. “However, we are modifying the design to avoid them altogether. This will be part of the final design iteration on Falcon 9.” This final variant of the Falcon 9 booster, named Block 5, is being designed for optimal safety and easier return for potential reuse. According to company founder Elon Musk, it could fly by the end of this year.

Let me remind you that this is the beginning of February. The cited “end of the year” is ten months hence. In plain English, this is microseconds in Government time.

A deeper issue (as always) is Governmental interference:

The new report also cites other problems with the commercial crew development efforts by SpaceX and Boeing. The latter company, for example, may be having difficulty with ensuring the reliability of its parachute systems to bring crews safely back to a land-based landing.

Both companies are also struggling to meet NASA’s mission requirement for a loss-of-crew probability of 1-in-270. NASA has previously acknowledged this issue, citing the challenge of dealing with micrometeoroid and orbital debris. During a NASA Advisory Council meeting late in 2016, the director of the commercial crew program, Kathy Leuders, said the companies were looking at options such as an on-orbit inspection to ensure the spacecraft was safe to fly back through Earth’s atmosphere. “There’s really not anything more from a design perspective that will make it better,” she said. “At some point you have to fly, there’s only so much shielding will accomplish.”

Two things:

1) 1-in-270? Remember Challenger and Columbia? In both cases 100% of the crew died. That, even for the math challenged amongst you, is a bit more than the 0.37% (Thank You Jeffersonian, for the correction) demanded by NA$A. And do I need to point out under whose auspices both of those accidents occurred? And don’t forget about Apollo I in 1967. 100% again.

2)The Answer Is Always More Government. An “on-orbit inspection”? And just who, do you suppose, will provide the “inspector”? That right there is a good reason that these guys need to make sure there’s an eternal air lock.

Sigh. Look, I know you’re tired of me repeating the same things, but here we go:

Space is dangerous. People are going to die. With new technologies developed Earthside, people died: cars, planes, and motorcycles are just 20th Century examples. You can also add trains if you want to look at the 19th Century.

Space is what’s next. We’re explorers, see? Even without the prompt of crazies and extremists, whatever is Out There is a siren call for at least some of us. We’re going to space, and you might as well get used to it.

Oh, one more thing before I forget:

….and may require a redesign before NASA allows the Falcon 9 booster to be used for crewed flights.

What the effity-eff?!?

F*** YOUR PERMISSION. F*** YOUR LICENSE. You mopes at NA$A don’t realize how good you’ve got it right now, with companies trying to work with you and within your idiotic “rules”. Sumd00d, completely ignorant that John Campbells’ and Robert Heinlein’s era is over, is perusing scavenged parts from the local u-pick-it junkyard to cobble together something right now, and he’s not the least concerned with your rules, guidelines, and regulations. We’re going out there, and there’s nothing you can do to stop us. When this guy, or group of guy/gals, starts sending messages from Luna to announce their success in building a homebrew spacecraft, just what are you going to do? Send a strongly worded message to them? Tell them they can’t come back? Fight through the crowds and arrest them on live TV? And while we’re on that thought, just where are you going to find a jury to convict a group that even the corrupt media will have to call “brave” and “heroic”? (off-topic aside: given the current climate, a “F*** Trump” patch would probably render them indictment proof, but that’s another post for another day)

Burn NA$A to the ground: when they’re not incinerating astronauts a crew at a time, they’re standing athwart progress betting that some idjits with nukes won’t kill millions before the best of us can escape. No thanks, I decline that wager.

Government: making everything worse forever.

Orange Cat Update: Hilarity

February 2nd, 2017

As it usually does, Cat Dinner Time arrived. I went out to the porch to find Agent Orange and the short hair waiting for me. The poor dears were having a hard time of it: one breath was spent informing me just how close to Death’s door they were and with the next they were promising to kick each other’s furry behind if one got one step closer to the other.

I left them happily chowing down. I thought about waiting to see who finished first, just to see what would happen.

Nah. If there was to be anything, I would hear it.