October 31, 2015

Drive Carefully

...the kids are about tonight!



Art by Cii.

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A Want Ad: If Fortran is Your Thing, Your Time is Now

One of Dr. Pournelle's correspondent's passed this along. 

Voyager needs a programmer

Dear Dr. Pournelle, 
Perhaps someone in your reading audience would like to take up the challenge. It seems the current engineer for Voyager 1/2 is retiring.  
http://www.popularmechanics.com/space/a17991/voyager-1-voyager-2-retiring-engineer/
So they need someone who is greatly skilled with Fortran and Assembly languages to step in and keep the probe running.    This is old-school programming at its finest; there are only 64kb of memory to work with, and this will be real-time programming , I suspect, with hard constraints. 
I’m a little disappointed. Voyager is the reason I got into computers in the first place, but now after years of writing database and object-oriented programs I don’t have anywhere near the experience required to do this kind of work. I’d be willing to learn ..  but I suspect "willing’ isn’t enough.   "Willing” doesn’t instantly make you an expert in real time software. 
Respectfully,

Brian

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Ghosts, Goblins and Girls



Yomuu, Kosaga and their familiars by Mazume' 

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Spooky Goings On

It's Halloween.

Let's sit around and tell scary stories. 



...and Ichabod Crane never saw his chips again.

Russia just conducted a combined arms exercise that included live firing of several strategic missile systems in a coordination.
On 30 October 2015, Russia conducted a test of the command and control system that involved a number of strategic and non-strategic systems. As part of the exercise, K-117 Bryansk submarine of the Project 667BDRM/Delta IV-class launched a R-29RM missile from the Barents Sea. K-223 Podolsk submarine of the Project 667BDR/Delta III class launched a R-29R missile from the Sea of Okhotsk. The Strategic Rocket Forces conducted a launch of a Topol/SS-25 missile from Plesetsk, while the Tu-160 strategic bombers launched cruise missiles toward targets at the Pemboy and Kura test ranges. In addition, Velikiy Ustyug small missile ship launched a Kalibr cruise missile from the Kaspian Sea. The exercise also involved a launch of an Iskander cruise missile from Kapustin Yar.
So, yeah. A comprehensive nuclear strike drill involving all the nuclear capable services as well as actual expenditure of ICBMs and SLBMs. 
Of course all militaries need to train (I wish ours would do more drills of this nature than it does) so this would not automatically be a concern if it weren't for all the other stuff going on with Russia right now.

 Russia's authorities should revive the old Cold War practice of training civilians on how to respond in the event of a large-scale nuclear attack, a senior government official said on Friday.

Note that the article couches this in terms of a response to the U.S. nuclear weapons modernization (which consists of improving the accuracy and lowering the yield on a group of existing bombs designed 45 years ago). No mention is made of the Russian deployment of 2 different ICBM types and current development of a new super heavy ICBM, no less than 3 different types of SLBM and a new cruise missile that is in direct violation of the INF treaty

Meanwhile, we are sending troops into Syria to help the people the Russians are shooting at. This could easily result in American and Russian forces shooting at each other. Does anyone see a downside to this?

Of course, one of the main problems in Syria is ISIS, which, as this article points out, has beyond it demonstrated depravity and stated goals a considerable potential to cause chaos in Europe even if they continue applying pressure indirectly via the refugee crisis. 

Meanwhile:

North Korea looks to be prepping for a new nuclear test. This would be logical since there are indications that they have some advanced, lightweight weapon designs they probably want to evaluate.  Furthermore, given that their nuke program has a lot of technical exchange with Iran, It probably won't be just a Nork Nuke being tested. 

Speaking of which, in a development that comes as a shock to only the most obtuse, the Iran Nuclear Deal is pretty much scuttling all efforts at non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as nations that gave up their nuclear programs look at the terms Iran got and conclude they were saps, those that are pursuing them conclude that the days of consequences for such actions have passed and a general feeling begins to take hold that the controls are off and everyone who values their sovereignty had best get them soon. 

Some folks think that the huge fissure opening near Yellowstone (well, in the same state) indicates renewed vulcanism is imminent at the worlds largest advertisement for storable food.  THe government isn't making any preparations for ashfall, and they are saying that the phenomena is a peculiar type of landslide...so it's probably just craboids. 






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October 30, 2015

Remember. Trick is an Option

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October 29, 2015

Where Politics Inevitably Leads

I actually heard someone ask today, if, during his jujitsu moment during the debate last night, Ted Cruz had made an Anti-Semetic joke about Bernie sanders. 


Because obviously Senator Sanders was the alluded to Mensch-kevik. 

OK. In fairness, that's not a completely unwarranted etymology error.

However, if one did not know what the Mensheviks were one may be surprised to lear that one has numerous options other than flinging casual and stupid allegations of anti-semitism about. 

One could ask.  " Umm...what did he mean by Mensheviks?"

One could think about the context of the word in the sentence and, assuming one knew what a Bolshevik is, conclude that a Menshevik is some other faction...given the sarcasm in the delivery, perhaps not that far removed from the Bolshies. 


This has troubling implications for our society.

It gets worse:

This exchange got me to thinking what Mensch - Kivak would actually be. Regrettably, I inadvertently pondered Mensch-Kiviak and...and I cannot unsee it no matter how hard I try. 


But enough of such unpleasantries; here is a picture that has naught to do with the Russian Revolution or cannibalism.  



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October 28, 2015

PLUME DIVE!



One of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes reacts to the news that Cassini has survived its plume dive.

Allow us to explain...

Saturn's moon Enceladus is known to have a global, ice-covered ocean. It also has massive geysers in its southern hemisphere that spew the contents of its ocean far above its surface. 




Well, in order to find out exactly what is in its ocean NASA has turned to its only probe in the Saturnian system (Cassini). Since Cassin'is only deployable sub-probe was sent down to Titan, and since scientists have learned about all they can by spectroscopy and other remote methods, they've decided to go for broke and fly the probe on a low pass right through the plume. 

Pictures and other data should be coming in within 48 hours!

In the meantime here is the closest picture ever taken of Enceladus's northern hemisphere which was taken last week...



 Stay Tuned!

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October 27, 2015

I Know I'm Human

....and I know some of my commentors are human too.




But it will take longer than I have before work to figure out which of them aren't. 

I'll be back later to make things right.



In the meantime, make sure you eat out of cans as you amuse yourselves trying to figure out which of you is real. 

But ponder this.

This...thing...it knows what color an orange is. 

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October 26, 2015

Be Concerned. Be Prepared...But Don't Lose All Historical Perspective.

IBT notes that they are shocked to learn that the Russians are poking around undersea cables with their submarines. 


They are not the only paper to point tis out.

Cdr. Salamander has a sublimely titled response.


First of all, if anyone in government service in the national security arena is surprised or shocked by this, please go work somewhere else.

If those who are responsible for maintaining connectivity have not been refining our branch plans to respond to this eventuality, will someone please fire them?  

Do read the whole thing.

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In Another Totally and Utterly Unexpected Development...

The death toll in Mexico from the most powerful hurricane ever recorded appears very likely now to be approaching...naught






As a rule I dislike with increasing intensity whenever zeroes show up in these sorts of statistics, unless there's just one of them by itself in which case it's a joyous thing. 

Math is weird that way. 

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