February 28, 2018

2 Down 2 to Go

Midterms continue to vex.

Note that there seemed to be some oblique criticism of our choice of confection in the last placeholder post, so we will, for now, resume posting cheesecake. 

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Does Anyone Have a Website or Contact Point for "The Last Refuge"

...because this would seem to be a consequential bit of reportage.

Of course,  a single twitter account is rather thin sourcing. 
Hence my curiosity as to its provenance.

It's the new name of The Conservative Treehouse

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February 27, 2018

Sadly, It Appears That There Are No Australians in Galaxy M-77

Via Universe Today comes this really cool picture of the accretion ring around the supermassive black hole at the center of galaxy M-77.

However, it gets neater as they managed to get a good shot of the red-shift of the matter as it's getting flushed into oblivion, and low and behold...it's a counterclockwise flush.

Red is moving towards us, blue away. 
One of The Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes explains what this means with regards to antipodeans in the vicinity.

"Nothing. It means absolutely nothing about that because there's no up or down in space, so if we're upside down relative to the accretion disc then that whole galaxy might be full of bunyips,... according to a completely fallacious interpretation of Heisenberg." 

Never mind then.

I'm standing by the accuracy of the post title though.

(Art was by Tony Takakuki)

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February 25, 2018

Three Papers are Done, But Midterms are Upon Me

As atonement, albeit in lieu of any content, here is some rather racy Cheesecake, in the form of cute 2-d females, all rendered by Houtengeki.



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February 14, 2018

On This Singles Awareness Day...

...let us not merely dwell upon those awkward moments we've all had, which this holiday commemorates.

Art by ddochi

We should also take this time to celebrate the scientific and engineering advancements that will make this annual fete a thing of the past*.

Art by Sukabu

*Disclaimer: Side effects of scientific and engineering advancements may include reduced fertility, civilizational collapse and chafing. May be habit forming. Abrasions may result if external covering not installed. External covering sold separately. Internet connectivity disconnect sold separately (and not available on models running software purchased from Google ap store).

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February 13, 2018


This is interesting...

I haven't logged into Twitter in months, and I certainly haven't blocked this fellow.

What's REALLY weird? I was still not logged in when I got this screen either. I'm not sure, but I assume he's been shadowbanned.
As for the Twitterer(Tweeter?) he used to run an aggregator site called 1913intel which this blog had linked to occasionally before it vanished. Fortunately, in addition to Twitter, he's got a Subreddit, which is worth checking out a couple of times a week (though it's not suitable for those who are easily disturbed, or suffer from anxiety or depression.)

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February 08, 2018

I Could Watch This All Day

That may seem like a sub-optimal utilization of resources, but it makes perfect sense for two reasons. 

First; it's a free country and it's Mr. Musk's rocket so if one has an issue with this exercise, one can go pound sand. 

Second; it was the first launch of Space X's Falcon Heavy rocket. No one was going to risk a scientific or commercial payload on a totally new rocket so an inert test payload was substituted, in this case Elon Musk's car. 

The rocket, while having only about half the power of the old Saturn 5 Moon rocket, this is the most powerful rocket in the world right now, its payload capacity exceeding even the massive Russian Proton-M launcher by a considerable margin, it can, for instance send 7,000 pounds of payload to Pluto. 

 This rocket is an entirely new class of launcher and promises to vastly lower launch costs, which, in turn will open the solar system to a far greater number of people and allow for an economical return to the moon, prospecting asteroids and potentially lower cost and more numerous scientific probes. This is a very big deal. 

Musk did this as a private venture and rented the launch pad at Cape Canaveral. This is in stark contrast to NASA's  still unlaunched and non-reuseable rocket that was supposed to have launched in 2016 but instead has burned up 20 billion dollars of taxpayer money

"Well Space-X didn't waste brain cells on any liberative pedagoggies, 'cause they're not asshats!"

Doug Plata, over at Space Review makes a good case that the SLS should be canceled with prejudice and simply place a bulk order for the vastly cheaper (and reuseable) Falcon Heavy, which is quite capable of manned lunar missions (albeit with multiple launches).

It would probably be money well spent.

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February 03, 2018

A Christian a Jew and an Atheist Walk into the Studio

Three Pariahs just sitting around a table talking about politics, religion and morality. 

Update: No. No. No. It's not an off color joke OR a dumpster fire of an interview.

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How Bad Have Things Gotten? How Crazy is the World?

Donald Trump, of all people, is America's Gaius Gracchus. 

Watch this clip. This is how Republics die...

I don't know how long this video will be up before You Tube realizes just what is being admitted to here, but if you see only a little grey panel, the former FBI official says the following...

The FBI people "are ticked" and they'll be saying of Trump, "You’ve been around for 13 months. We've been around since 1908. I know how this game is going to be played. We're going to win" 



Blitzer's casual acceptance of the premise is at least as disturbing.

Our latter day Optimates are letting the mask slip. Whether this is due to fear or confidence is not entirely clear, but it does put Greenfield's recent speech in a new light...

...Two or more sides disagree on who runs the country. And they can’t settle the question through elections because they don’t even agree that elections are how you decide who’s in charge....

We are on far more precarious ground than people realize.

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February 02, 2018

Oh no...


Upon reflection, I'm pretty sure that we can come up with a better system for this. 
...perhaps one using barometers, temperature sensors, satellites and radar.

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Blue Check Marks: The Early Years

Hey: Lets see what Wikipedia says about the CCA at 10:00 pm on the first of February! 
The Comics Code Authority (CCA) was formed in 1954 by the Comics Magazine Association of America as an alternative to government regulation, to allow the comic publishers to self-regulate the content of comic books in the United States. Its code, commonly called "the Comics Code," lasted until the early 21st century. Many have linked the CCA's formation to a series of Senate hearings and the publication of psychiatrist Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent.
Members submitted comics to the CCA, which screened them for adherence to its Code, then authorized the use of their seal on the cover if the book was found to be in compliance. At the height of its influence, it was a de facto censor for the U.S. comic book industry....

That's pretty much right, though it should be re-emphasized that this was not a government thing and that it was, in fact, the industry policing itself.

There was a time when a surprising number of the people I knew were involved in various aspects of the entertainment industry, Writing, Gaming, Comics, Art, Video Games, Film, though mostly the retail and the convention circuit which constituted the bulk of my involvement in such matters.

To a person, whenever it came up they regarded the Comics Code Authority as an odious thing. All had harsh words for the people that allowed it to happen since it was beyond obvious that only cowards or knaves would go along with such a travesty. The Comics code's pernicious effects had to be as completely obvious to anyone at the time as the lack of any merit in its premise.

Several of my friends had effusive praise for Gaines, and his opposition to the formation of the CCA and whose stand on principal nearly ruined him. The fact that Bill Gaines was an abrasive and obnoxious eccentric considered quite gauche by the society of the day only raised his esteem in their eyes.

Everyone of us assumes that that's the role we'll play when the darkness comes. We'll stand up for first principles, even for those who are not particularly likable or popular. We'll never be the rock, bird dogging those the mob is after and crying out in glee "No hiding place!" We know that when blacklists are drawn up, we will oppose them vociferously and crusade against the darkness whenever it rears it's head. 

Apparently, when it's head is raised it will be easily identifiable as it will be abrasive, obnoxious, eccentric and just plain gauche. 

And the good guys will be the ones who decide to muzzle such disgraciousness.... 

...and it's totes OK 'cause it's not like the government's doing it so it isn't really censorship

Now some smartass troll will, no doubt, try to draw some facetious parallel between the Comics Code Authority and things like Twitter, Facebook, and political correctness. That's just silly. The Comics Code Authority had firm rules that were available to everyone, and any infractions were explicitly pointed out. 

"So wait, was that bitterness, sarcasm, or dread?"


It's good to look to the past for lessons, because sometimes people have no real grasp of how far we've come...or haven't.

One of the most important lessons from history is that the worst villains, the greatest mistakes, and the paths that lead societies to the darkest places are most reliably detected with 20/20 hindsight...
...or perhaps a smidgen of self awareness.

Today, almost none of my old IRL friends speak to me anymore,  To be fair, I don't have the opportunity to interact with them as much, being banned from Facebook and all.


Good night and good luck.

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February 01, 2018

Some Thoughts on Women in STEM

Kalpana Chawla was born in 1961. She was born in Karnal India. This was a time and a place that was rather less conducive to a woman's career  than North America or Western Europe in 2018. 

Kalpana Chawala had a goal. She wanted to go into space. Little is written about Kalpana's childhood, but one can rest assured that in India in 1961 her experience in growing up and the hurdles she faced were both rather different from that of a young lady in Boston, London, or Paris today. 

Now in today's more "enlightened" age an upper middle class woman in Miss Chawala's position might have noted the disparity in Male versus Female acceptance and graduation rates for STEM in India in the 1970s and taken positive steps to rectify the situation, such as getting a degree in women's studies, and pursuing a career in activism by smearing the walls with her menstrual blood to protest the patriarchy. 

Kalpana Chawala was not one of them. Instead this young lady who dreamed of going to the stars did something that, to some, might seem downright non-intuitive today. 

She studied Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.

In the 1970's 
This modern Hypatia tested into and graduated from Punjab Engineering College in Chandigarh India. It is the top engineering college in India. One can be reasonably certain that this scholars ladyparts did not get her excused from mastering partial differential equations. 

in 1982 she moved to the United States, and pursued and received a masters degree in engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington. She went on to get a PHD from the University of Colorado

Dr.Chawla was an engineer who made it through some of the best schools on the planet to pursue her dream of going into space. She worked for NASA where she worked on VSTOL technologies and later became the Vice President of Overset Methods, an aerospace contractor looking at fluid dynamics issues. 

She returned to NASA in 1994 when her application to the U.S. Astronaut training program was accepted. In 1994 she had no access to Tumbler, Twitter, and her resume was devoid of any liberative pedagogies in engineering education yet this immigrant woman of color deftly avoided being amongst the many wash outs of this most demanding of programs. She did so by the now outre' method of being one of the best, smartest and most level headed people on the planet. 

Dr. Chawla was an engineer. She was one of the very best on the planet. As such, she understood that engineering does not care. Physics does not care if you have ladyparts. Metalurgy does not care how intersectional you are. The vacuum of space is unmoved by how much melanin you have. Radiation is unconcerned with your childhood trauma. 

And foam insulation does not give a flying fuck that the reason some bureaucrats  chose it over the type that the engineers recommended was because because they wanted to feel smug about choosing an environmentally friendly product instead of the one that wouldn't break off and damage the heat shield. 

If one ignores these self evident truths, one will likely be faced with far worse consequences than being "triggered". 

15 years ago today, Kalpana Chawla and her shipmates aboard USOVColumbia  were ripped asunder and their ashes scattered across north Texas and Oklahoma.

Anything that has any consequence carries a degree of risk and the quest to make us a multi-planet species is both more fraught and more worthy than most. But this disaster was no learning experience or tragic discovery in materials science, this was a decision made for what amounted to reasons of fashion.

Cultural, societal orindividual values can be dissonant, yet valid. People can come to different conclusions about public policy, symbolism, culture or etiquette and arguably both can be right.

Engineering and science however, do not conform to the results laid down by sociologists, politicians or academics. If one is dealing with structures at the edge of our technological capacity and one chooses a fashionable choice over a technically sound one then there is a high probability that it will end in tears. 

Like Madame Curie, Hypatia, Admiral Grace Hopper, Dr. Sally Ride , Maria Mitchell, Mary Anning and countless others, Dr. Kaplana Chawla shows that women can hack it in the technical fields. We do not need to lower standards for women in science to meet some asinine and arbitrary goal of parity. 
It seems frankly insulting to suggest otherwise. 

Moreover, the deaths of her and her shipmates stands as an eloquent and tragic testimony of what happens when we lower standards or listen to those who would ignore the science. In this case the result was a wrecked ship and a dead crew, but if we continue to pollute our engineering schools with the notion that science and engineering of secondary importance to feelings, then we risk a catastrophe of civilizational proportions.

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