June 23, 2017

Mashed Potatoes

The peculiar physics and myriad uses of Mashed Potatoes have not gotten sufficient attention in recent years. While the pulverized tubers are obviously a valuable source of calories, they have considerable potential in a variety of non-culinary applications. That this substance is useful for making scale models of Devils Tower has been understood for many years, but mashed potatoes can also be used for other artistic expressions as well, such as to create a representation of Kansas in winter on a table cloth, create a very passable  facsimile of an iceberg in someone's tea and it has surprising utility as a hair volumizing agent. Its low density allows it to be propelled with surprising velocity by an arm with a reach of less than 9 inches and minimal strength. Despite the obviously low sectional density of spudfluff, the fluid dynamics of mashed potatoes in air is such that the aforementioned arm with a reach<9inches can send measurable quantities a surprising distance...into the dining room, down the hall and into a guest bedroom (this latter seems to have required some sort of bank shot, ballistic analysis is pending). Most remarkably all of this can be achieved in the approximately 3 seconds it takes to turn one's back on one's 11 month old nephew to get something out of a microwave. 

I propose a study to examine these properties in greater detail and with attention paid to practical applications thereof. I will require $170,000.00, 450 Idaho potatoes and a trebuchet.

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June 22, 2017

Spoiler Warning!

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June 21, 2017

A Republic if We Can Keep It

A couple of things have just bugged me lately...

"This isn't gonna be a rant about politics again is it?"

But it's below the fold so you don't have to be triggered, distracted or appalled if you don't want to be.

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June 20, 2017

The Only Battle That Counts Is The Last One

And now for something refreshingly silly.

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Cool Site , Cool Ship

A few days ago we posted some links to cool sites dealing with space and futurism. Now, one of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Stoic Space Babes points us to one we missed:

Fragomatic does cgi animations of space related topics including actual design studies by NASA. Here, he has two videos on Nautilus-X, a design study we reported on back in 2011 and which has been the focus of some renewed interest over the last eight months. 

There's a good deal more stuff in the same vein at his site.

Regarding Nautilus-X, it made waves when proposed, not only because of its features (it is very scaleable, has artificial gravity and impressive passive as well as active radiation shielding) but also because of its predicted low cost, far less than that of the Orion program. This is due to the fact that the ship is not intended for reentry, many of the components are off the shelf (or extrapolations of off the shelf) equipment and because the designers focused on the habitation, logistics and payload and deemed propulsion someone else's problem. The design is essentially a space station with an adapter/shock-absorber module intended to interface with any of several NASA propulsion modules, both existing and in development. The VASIMR module currently under development is the preferred system, but several ion or even chemical propulsion systems like the Centaur could be used. 

I tracked down a recording of the presentation to NASA by the designer. His presentation begins at about the 26 minute mark and follows this powerpoint. He explains the design philosophy as being developed from that for the Lunar Excursion Module and his experience with NRO spy satellites. Intriguingly, he explains the latter as is the design origin of the distinctive bow section, with its folding out air lock and bridge. The centrifuge is an extrapolation of an existing spin-stabalization system used on a few satellites.  It is 60 feet across and capable of producing 1-g at a tad under 10RPM. However, that's a bit high for comfort so lower speeds and gravities are expected to be used.

Note that the first 25 minutes of the presentation concern an overview of cis-lunar infrastructure ideas of which the Nautilus-X is only one component. 

The response to the Nautilus-X proposal in the recording is quite enthusiastic. The engineers seem really impressed, not only by the logic of the design, but by the attention to cost, minimizing design risk and extensive detail work already done.. The design is remarked upon as being particularly well thought out and economical. There is some discussion of the centrifuge and the discussion goes into detail regarding how the half scale prototype would be integrated into the ISS and the way the system is designed to  use water pumps to compensate for asymetrical loading due to crewmembers moving around. 

The proposed centrifuge test is particularly important. We don't have any idea what the minimum gravity to avoid health issues is. It might well be 1g. We probably want to find that out before people start settling Mars. 

This is the sort of thing NASA needs to be doing more of. 

'Stoic Space Babe" is by Takeshi Fujisawa , nicked from the box-art of a Hasegawa kit. You can buy his stuff here

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June 18, 2017

Well Then: That's Not a Good Thing to See When One Clicks on Drudge

This  hellish bundle of razor wire still has the potential to develop in unexpected unpleasant ways.

Let's review:
We have over 1000 troops on the ground in Syria, a country whose government has not given us permission to be there and which is a very important ally of Russia. Russia, in addition to possessing items of some interest also has thousands of troops on the ground in Syria helping to protect that country (an important ally of their's) by shooting at the Jihadists we are defining as moderates and ostensibly backing. Meanwhile, while we are fighting the (mostly) different jihadis in ISIS (which Russia is also fighting). So, Russian and U.S. troops are on opposite sides of a civil war, armed and both sides are shooting at people who are trying to kill them and that the other side is trying to defend in an area where at least two factions are using poison gas. Iran also has large forces engaged against ISIS and in support of Syria but additionally is giving support to...Hezbollah. Turkey, which happens to have of one of the largest armies in the world, is also involved...mainly as a spoiler but also to exterminate our nominal allies the Kurds, who are a completely different group from the aforementioned revolutionary groups we are backing and are also fighting ISIS.  

The shootdown aside, this mess in Syria is a lot more consequential than the coverage it's been getting would seem to indicate. 

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June 17, 2017

Stephen Furst Has Passed Beyond the Rim

Everyone is talking about his roll as Flounder, which was indeed legendary, but this is where he really shined.

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45 + 3

Regarding the late unpleasantness in Alexandria, as I understand it, if some utter nutbar were to start killing congressmen with the intention of flipping the legislature, then their threshold would be 45 representatives and three senators.

Most accounts have the republican congressional baseball team at 33 members so even given the possibility that a few non-team members might be present and more crucially if Mr. sweetness and light's shooting skills had been closer to Annie Oakley than Skippy the Stormtrooper, he'd still not have changed the world. 

So rejoice. In order to flip congress, one would have to kill 48 people.

These are people who are public figures and as part of their job descriptions mingle with the public and aside from the house leadership, have no specialized security. 

So fear not. One would need some way of coordinating such an attack, and people willing to do it. Hell, one would practically need a whole bunch of very dedicated paramilitary street thugs who see the other side as inhuman monsters. 

Then one would only control one branch of government. The President and Vice President would both have to be impeached by the new majority and surely a bunch of congress critters would stand on principal and not allow that to happen to such a popular and beloved President. 

So there.
Enjoy the weekend and relax.

Art by Ruhig

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We Don't Discuss Such Vile Things

 Via Dustbury, who does note a silver lining in the above picture.

...except at home, behind closed doors and for the sole purpose of procreation.

I do note that it's next to a sign referencing tobacco sales to minors, so this is serious business.

Gracious. It's not just Oregon.

In pondering scenarios of how civilization might end, I must admit that I did not see this one coming.

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According to Sources Who Remain Transitive...

Despite this being a Zero Hedge link, I think the associated prediction is reasonable, solidly argued and very likely to be true. 

"It's a counterespionage breakthrough!!"

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