August 31, 2019

Meanwhile, At Stromboli

Erupting volcanoes are mercurial and as such are not the most advisable of tourist destination.

Pyroclastic flows can really take you by surprise. .

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Cute Little MMD Videos are Serious Business Apparently


If you can't read the text, it says;

This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube's policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations.

Still vague, but its way more than most people get in the way of explanation and has the added benefit to Google of being defamatory.

I assume it's a benefit. I don't quite grok Google's bidness plan but I assume it monetizes the despair and frustration of people unjustly wronged.

The guy just did MMD videos and as far as I could see wasn't selling or soliciting anything. His content was some cute Tohu skits, other shorts, a few racy Kancollie dance videos in a separate, 18+ playlist and  some MMD how-to videos.

Oh well, its gone now.

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August 30, 2019

And The Track Begins to Head North

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Slow Clap


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August 29, 2019

This Does Not Bode Well

Can anyone find a current Live-Stream or recent video upload from Hong Kong Island? Because You Tube doesn't have anything younger than a week old. I may be making a mistake in my search terms, but I've tried Hong Kong Live; Hong Kong Protest Live, Hong Kong Web Cam, Hong Kong Central Live (and Web cam) and the obsolete term Victoria City. Nothing turns up anything from after a week ago. I assume that Youtube is downselecting or blocking them but given the techweasel's general opaqueness, It's anyone's guess. I did find a few news reports on YT that were 9 hours old and a conspiracy theorist who claims that this is the first step by the BilderBurgers to cull the planets population but nothing about whats happening now. 

Update: the Victoria Harbor webcam is down as I type this.

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As pushy as Apple is J. Greely points to evidence that Linux is not the answer.....

UPDATE: Odd. The embed is not working as I type this but the link is.


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What the Actual Hell is This?

This has been making the rounds today.

As a request by DARPA this might not be really odd until you consider the short notice.

It's the urgency that causes one to ponder things.
Why do they need an underground facility the size of several city blocks that can be sealed from the environment....BY FRIDAY?

Picture unrelated....Hopefully.

DARPA's Twitter feed is here.

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Oh. These Bastards Are Getting Bold

Free Speech advocate Tim Pool has just been paid a visit in the middle of the night....and then they came back after being warned away by police.

Watch the video. It's pretty scary...until it gets scarier.

This is not cool.
Pool's recently planned  free speech event was shut down by threats of violence against their venue and had to be rescheduled and relocated to somewhere else Philly and New Jersey this weekend.

So it will go on despite the gloating. *

Now they are showing up on Pool's doorstep.

This is serious business, we saw what they did to Andy Ngo.

* For some idea of how far things have fallen and how crazy things have gotten, when reading that asterixed hot-take remember that one of the founders of VICE news was...Tim Pool.

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August 28, 2019

Jessi Combs 1983-2019

Jessi Combs a race-car driver, celebrity mechanic, video personality and engineer was killed earlier today, when her experimental jet car crashed while she was attempting to beat a land speed record.

She was the host of Extreme 4x4 and was a guest and occasional host on Mythbusters.  

 Here she is in the T.R.O.G. event in her customized twin-engine Model T.

One of her last Instagram posts said this...

It may seem a little crazy to walk directly into the line of fire. Those who are willing, are those who achieve great things.


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Well, Dang.

This is not the disintegration we were promised.

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Old Habits and Telescreens

Things went unusually well at work this morning.

After about an hour, management decided to send extra people home. Out of habit, they told me I could go, as I always asked to be one of the first ones cut loose and am at the top of the seniority list.

Also out of habit, I walked out the door, got in the van, drove down the interstate towards the school to camp out in the library and study when it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I don't go to school anymore....

When I got home, I somehow managed, in a bizarre feat of PEBKACery, to wake the malign elder god Siri on my iMac.
Below the fold is the Siri information page on my iMac user guide, which is replete with all the ways to access and help Siri to utilize the data that Siri is collecting on me. 

Note what is missing.

I've gone through Preferences and cut off everything that I can but this only disables the interface as far as I can tell. I have the uneasy feeling that I've merely removed the reminder that my every keystroke is being logged and assessed.

I'd promised myself I'd never get another Mac. But my paper was on the lightning-struck iMac, and I needed to salvage it, which I did...but that paper was declared unsuitable, so I actually gave 1700 dollars to Tim Cook (who hates me and people like me) and helped him to spy on me for no benefit.

I cannot be an example to you, gentle reader, but I can be a horrible, horrible warning. more...

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August 27, 2019

Starhopper Hopping

"Sandblasting a road to the future!"

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Remember that post a few months ago about the glaciers on Mercury?
Well India sure did!

"I'm absolutely confident that that post had zero impact on India's space program"

Anyway, Chandrayaan2, India's second lunar probe, is set to land a rover near the lunar south pole on September 9. The main purpose of this mission is to do an extensive survey of the ice deposits which were confirmed by Chandrayaan1 via the straightforward method of shooting an impactor into Shackleton crater and noting that ice was blasted out of it.

Currently, the probe is surveying the possible landing sites in preparation for releasing the lander.

Unlike previous probes this one is intended to extensively study exactly what forms the ice is in so we may find out if there really are formations as unexpectedly spectacular as the glaciers on Mercury.

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August 26, 2019

Looking for Hohmann Transfer Tables

Some months ago, when I was otherwise obligated, I blundered into an online Hohmann orbit / travel time calculator for launch windows between all planets out to Jupiter (plus Ceres) out to IIRC 2050.

 I can't find it now and suspect it may only be available from academic institutions, but I was wondering if anyone has a link to something similar.

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That Ad Everyone is Talking About Does NOT Bode Well.

But it did inspire this.

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August 25, 2019

Riefenstahl WEEPS!

Great movie! But...


Allow me to explain....

Alita: Battle Angel was something of an underdog in comarison to the Marvel franchise and so had quite an uphill battle in its quest for box-office success. Because it's 2019 and the world is stupid, one of the  complaints that gained traction (after the film had a brief and very atypical surge in interest towards the end of its run), was the idea that ABA was a movie for...wait for it....NAZIS (no really).

Now that I have finally seen this film, I am going quite confidently and happily postulate that Leni Riefenstahl would not approve of it. AT ALL.

Alita: Battle Angel is a surprisingly good movie. The story is solid, the main characters are much better realized than is typical for summer blockbusters and the effects are top of the line.

What is most remarkable is how well this cinematic adaptation of a manga transferred Yukito Kirishito's visuals to live action. Several of the costumes for instance, really ought to just look goofy but they actually work quite well to the point of being utterly badass.  Some of these decisions were braver than others, particularly the decision to give Rosa Salazar extra large anime eyes, but the film pulls it all off with panache. Far beyond showing considerable respect for the source material, this results in a very distinctive, occasionally whimsical art direction that leaves the portrayed world feeling surprisingly real.

Alita is a likeable and idealistic heroine. Because this is based on a shonen/ seinen manga with some superhero tropes, she soon surpasses her peers in ability. However, remarkably for girl power movies in current year, her male peers, mentor and love interest are never flaming incompetents, occasionally saving the day in their own right. Alita is not surrounded by idiots, she's the best OF THE BEST, which makes her a much more compelling heroine.

Despite cramming about 5 tankubon/graphic novels into two hours, the film is reasonably well paced and it captures the escalating threat vibe of the genre quite well. The story is eminently accessible to those who have not read the comic (I've only read an issue or two of the American release). Despite its dystopian setting and often grim story, this film manages to be both idealistic and just a rolicking good time that actually passed the butt test (at no point did I become terribly aware of how long I'd been sitting).

The only complaint I have is both minor and unavoidable: It was pretty much impossible to conclude a 9 volume manga series in a single film, so the ending, while satisfying, definitely anticipates a sequel.  Whether that comes to pass is unclear, but I, for one, am am rooting for it.

Finally, while not in any way a complaint, it should be noted that the film's themes of individual responsibility, a fight for universal dignity, redemption, tolerance and understanding of the designated "other" make this film a very poor vehicle for the transmission of national socialist propaganda.

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August 23, 2019

Hey, It Makes as Much Sense as The Last One

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August 22, 2019


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Thank You

As I ponder the direction I'll take as I approach one of life's crossroads, I want to thank everyone for all the kind words regarding my recent graduation.

It is truly gratifying and I appreciate it more than I can possibly express.

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August 21, 2019

A Follow-Up on Positron Dynamics

Back in March we had a brief post on a company called Positron Dynamics and their claims to have solved the production and containment issues with antimatter regarding space propulsion.

Specifically, they are using positrons (anti-electrons) to catalyze a small fusion reaction. Positrons can be generated on the spot using a radioactive isotope of krypton, thus solving the antimatter storage problem, and being positively charged can be directed with a fair bit of ease solving the handling antimatter problem.

Now one of the Brickmuppet's Crack Team of Science Babes points us to a follow up to this story she found by months of diligent research...

"Actually, it was posted this morning over at Atomic Rocket"

Positron Dynamics submitted their report to  N.A.S.A. for peer review this past January. It has now passed muster and is published in the N.A.S.A Rechnical Reports Server. There is a PDF of the report here for your perusal.

Basically the conclusion is that it works, though the version that is looked at in the N.A.S.A report has much lower thrust than one would expect from something with the words "Fusion" and "Anti-Matter". Indeed, its thrust compares unfavorably to most ion drives.

However, it has the astonishing exhaust velocity of  2,943,000 meters per second and a Delta V (the change in velocity over the time an engine burns) of 60,000 meters per second. Now it burns a looong time and accelerates imperceptibly, but its DeltaV is actually better than some of the smaller Orion drive designs which involved using exploding atom bombs as propellant.

Note the diagram and the little object marked "D2 tank".

That's all the the Deuterium propellant needed for a 60,000 meter change of velocity. Yes the thrust is minuscule but over time it adds up. This is for a notional asteroid mission using the design as it is now.

The speed of New Horizons and the Voyager probes, the fastest things ever sent out by mankind is less than 17,000 meters per second.

Winchell Chung puts it thusly:
With many other propulsion systems, rocket designers are happy if the spacecraft is only 75% propellant and 25% everything else. A spacecraft with Radioisotope Positron Propulsion is pretty much 100% rocket and payload, the propellant is only a few micrograms.  Granted that a one metric ton space probe with such an engine will have an measly acceleration of 0.0001 meters per second (0.0125 snail-power), but you can't have everything.

 Be that as it may, the report compares their positron engine with an electric propulsion engine for a hypothetical capture/redirect of asteroid 2009BD and the positron engine kicks the electric engine to the curb. 

Theoretically you can use multiple engine arrays if you must have a higher thrust.

Or perhaps you could use a different engine (say a regular chemical engine) for emergencies. As an aside, the engineers seem to anticipate higher thrusts in the future but that is not mentioned in the peer-reviewed paper and must be considered to be speculation at this point.

There's a good deal of work still to do as noted at the end of the report, but it does now appear that this proposal to field an anti-matter propulsion system in the next few years is indeed practical.

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