February 19, 2021

Today in Journaism

Yesterday, Shanon Melero at Jezebel did a piece on the disgraceful decision to omit the iconic Chun-Li from the new Mortal Combat  re-boot and inquired as to how such a travesty was allowed to happen. 




Art by Omar Dogan. Support him on Gumroad!

19 minutes later, the layers of researchers and fact checkers who are assigned the sisyphean task of preventing Jezebel's writers from publishing moronic merde, chimed in with an answer to her inquiry. 





"Cleanup on aisle 5. "

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February 18, 2021

Perseverance Lands


NASA's newest rover Perseverance has successfully landed in Jezero Crater ( which was once a lake) on Mars. There were no splodies, just pictures. 



"No 'splodies no crunchies! Yay!" 

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February 17, 2021

Rush

Rush Limbaugh has passed. 


He was a voice in the darkness for many years. When there were no other opinions being broadcast he was there reminding people that no matter what they might see, hear and read in the media, there were other people who thought like them. We were reminded, by Rush, that each of us was not alone and or crazy, no matter how much the powers that be insisted that we were alone. 

He was quite possibly the most influential radio personality in U.S. history. He jump-started conservative publishing, highlighting conservative thinkers on his program at a time when no one else would give them the time of day. His very existence was a lifeline to both the populist and intellectual right, and the megaphone he wielded broke the the information monopoly of the day, allowing voices not of the establishment to be heard, and affect change. 

In his own odd, button down way, he was kind of..punk, delighting in stirring up controversy and when the scolds came for them, he'd usually turn the tables on them and raise millions for various children's charities. 

I don't agree with everything he said. He talked 3 hours a day for 22 years so I'm sure there's something there to offend everybody. But he was a voice for the people that the powers that be hate. People like myself would never have emerged from the wilderness if not for him. 

Through his personal hardships , his deafness, his cancer he remained, in public, upbeat until the end, providing an example as well as an inspiration.

His optimism will be missed.

There's more on his passing here, here, and here

I especially recommend this late addition

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RWBY Season 8 Through Episode 9




RWBY has been a very uneven series, it started out with dreadful production values that were more than compensated for by engaging characters, an intriguing plot and the superb fight choreography of Monty Oum. The series had a lot of potential. Furthermore, it inspired tremendous goodwill as its cast and crew seemed likable and were punching so far above their weight that it was absolutely inspiring. 

Mr. Oum's untimely death during the production of season three foreshadowed rough seas for the series, while the last season he worked on was by far the best until then, subsequent seasons were, despite much higher production values, not as engaging cumulating in the inept 4-episode faceplant that was the finale of season 5.  

However, the subsequent seasons were, while very different, nevertheless enjoyable and the show has improved steadily; regaining much of its appeal even as Rooster Teeth has squandered much of its goodwill with the public. 

Now, with season 8 the show has finally surpassed even the excellent season three, with absolutely brilliant pacing, action and storytelling. Characters develop in unexpected, yet believable ways for both good and ill and the plot has been full of genuine surprises with the action nonstop. 

If you dropped the show, I recommend picking it up again, but you'll probably want to at least watch last season, as this one begins in the middle of the chaos that season ended with. Fortunately, with short seasons and 10-15 minute runtimes on most episodes, the show is a quick watch. 

Monty would be proud. 


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February 16, 2021

One of the Best Things About Science Fiction

...is how it allows one some escapist respite from any reminders of current events. 



If you have not seen Babylon 5 you are wrong! 

But, you are also lucky, as it is currently running on HBO MAX where it has been digitally remastered with modern monitor resolutions in mind. It really is one of the best sci-fi series ever. 

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February 14, 2021

Happy Singles Awareness Day

 
Art by Cait. Support him on Fanbox or Gumroad

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February 13, 2021

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February 12, 2021

A Genius Passes



(Image via NYT)

After the 9/11 attacks, he received hate mail as well as death threats and assumed his career was over,
But on a flight to Toronto one day, an airline employee gave him an unexpected upgrade to first class. When he asked for an explanation, he recalled in the 2009 interview, the employee said, "I was in Tower 2, and I walked out.”
 

Moreover, architects, structural engineers and other people in the know were so impressed with how long the towers stayed up after the impacts that he spent his last years advising designers of high-rise projects around the world on matters of safety and structural redundancy. 

Subsequent analysis showed that the construction methods that he invented and tested in the WTC kept the towers standing far longer than if they had been built to the then current standards and saved literally thousands of lives. 

S.T.E.M. : It'll save your ass.. 

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February 11, 2021

I'mma Gonna Just Leave This Here




For no reason. at all.

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February 10, 2021

The Expanse Season 5



This show has been good from its beginning 5 years ago, but this latest, abbreviated, 10 episode season moves a mile a minute as it twists, turns and shocks the audience.  Throwaway world building moments from earlier in the series come out of the woodwork to surprise and astonish.  

The fifth season is a 4 ring circus. Since everything in the solar system except Bobbi' and Avaserala's employment situations were, as far as the characters were concerned, going gangbusters at the end of last season, the cast goes on vacation...which is where most of them are when things go pear shaped. 

  The Expanse is an excellent example of fairly hard sci-fi, but beyond its realistic portrayal of space its characterizations and human drama are much better than most, more mundane series. 

The characters include a fellow who has (through either abuse, injury, or genes) basically a psychopath's brain, but who WANTS to be good..so he hangs out with what he assumes to be good people...to aid him in this difficult task. This season finally explains WHY he has this seed of goodness in the vast barren desert of his soul. It's very well handled. 

The only  even arguably unsatisfying moment in the entire season is an obviously late edit necessitated by production realities beyond the scope of this post, but your milage may vary, and it's a spoiler.

All in all this was probably the best season of this generally excellent show thus far. FWIW I think last season, while very good, was the weakest, though in retrospect, it set this season up superbly. 

If you're not watching this show, you are wrong. It's currently available in full, on Amazon Prime. 

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Why

...is NewsMax using the opening of this mix of Bad Apple for its overnight bumper music?





Did Zune get paid? 

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February 09, 2021

The Things One Learns From One's Comments

So I got a bizarre spam comment earlier which consisted of what appeared to be a long, obsequious biography of William Dafoe that had been Google Translated from some other language.


While I did not click on the link (obviously) a perusal of the URL indicates that the link was to a site warning that Mr. Dafoe is secretly the leader of a global conspiracy. 

I don't understand the world anymore. 

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February 08, 2021

On the Utility and Proper Representation of Certain Character Classes

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Necessary Conversations


more...

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February 05, 2021

What?

Oh LOOK!


It's all ok.

They're not afraid anymore!

It's all Oh Kaaay

There's no reason to hide anymore.

They can come right out in the open and say it.

It wasn't a conspiracy THEORY.



Saying something as spicy as this, even yesterday would get you banned from social media and perhaps loose your job or even your bank account. 

Now the conspiracy theory is a virtue signal. 

Why in God's name would Time publish this?

I can think of four reasons.

1: TIME is a principled publication seeking unfettered truth and published this bombshell out of a sense of civic responsibility. 

2: The editors at TIME have lost the plot and decided that the Q-Anon idiots should not be allowed to have all the fun. 

3: They are gloating and rubbing our faces in our helplessness to further demoralize us.

4: They aim to incite people on the right to act out of desperation and despair, as the degenerate fuckwits did at the Capitol last month, because they need a better Horst Wessel moment.

That last is kind of outre' but one wonders, given the tensions in the country, and the assumption that the editorial staff at TIME are not blithering idiots, if that isn't at least possible in current year. 

The message of the Time story, is as follows.

The Left control's the horizontal.

They control the vertical. 

There is no escape.

Not by boat.

Not by plane nor foot or even rocket.

 


Please dissuade me of my crazy rantings and troublesome conclusions in the comments. 

In case of the article getting memory holed, as often happens, it will be copied and pasted below the fold. 
more...

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February 04, 2021

And Just Like That...

... the Decepticons happened. 



Twitter link here. HT Ace. 
more...

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February 03, 2021

Ouch.

My steel toed boots did their job today. 

Though I was in pain most of the day at work.
Only after I got home did I realize HOW much pain I'd have been in if I had not had the steel toed boots. 
(Trigger Warning)

The whole foot is swollen but nothing is broken except the nail.

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Elon Musk's SN-9

Makes a PERFECT test flight!





"Their landings need some work."

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February 01, 2021

A New Take on NERVA

One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes brings us this video on recent developments in the the world of rocketry.





The Scorpion is also described on pages 214-237 of the July 2019 issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society. Almost everything in this ship is off the shelf, it's just tweaking existing technologies. Of course,  system integration can be fraught to say the least, but this doesn't require any real breakthroughs. 

In fact, this was initially studied as an alternate history study by the  British Interplanetary Society of what COULD have been developed given a more robust space program from the mid-'90s on. 




The ship design is pretty interesting, with a layout similar to the Eagles from Space 1999. That is is because the nuclear engines can't really be throttled, and landing in one's own radioactive dust cloud is not a spaceflight best practice. 

The landing engines are at 90 degrees to the main engines and the ship is designed to carry cargo in the manner of a flying crane.


"Tell them about the engine! The engine!"

'Kayy...

The SCORPION nuclear rockets are similar to the old NERVA rockets but use integral arc-jets in the nozzles to accelerate the exhaust to insane velocities. This gives both good thrust AND a very high exhaust velocity. It's not quite a torch ship but it combines the best traits of arc-jets and ion drives with nuclear thermal rockets. 

But wait. 
There's more!

Once a nuclear, thermal rocket is lit off, it becomes deadly to any unshielded people within about 100 miles. There is a shadow shield that protects the crew quarters of a nuclear ship, but operating around space stations, or even in lunar orbit passing over a settlement is problematic. 


This reactor design has enough thrust to allow for a shield that completely surrounds the engine, and the fuel rods can be retracted into a sort of safe when the engine is not thrusting. this allows the rocket 360 degree safety when the main engine is disconnected, allowing it to dock at space stations or land on moons near settlements without worry. 

Because the control rods, once activated, will be hot (thermally as well as radioactively) a liquid cooler and radiators will be required. This has the happy side effect of using the waste heat of even the inactive main engine to power a generator or thermocouple, allowing for enough auxiliary power to support an active cooling system for the propellant and any conceivable hotel load. 

Finally, the ship does have artificial gravity, but without the engineering malpractice involved with a rotating pressure seal. 

This is a really interesting design particularly when one remembers that it was designed with more modest lift capabilities than we now have in prospect in the form of Musk and Bezos's new large rockets. 



UPDATE: 
Unsurprisingly, it turns out there is a very good overview of this design and the engine at Atomic Rocket. It notes that the performance of this "Integrated NTR Arcjet" is close to that of a Nuclear Lightbulb engine.

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