September 20, 2018

Take Heart!

Be not dismayed by the last post. Face today's challenges with optimism and a smile!


Plus Ultra!


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Dispatches From the Department of Disquieting Developments

Pixy linked to this the other day and I think it really deserves rather wider distribution. 


On the surface, it's a very dry, inside baseball discussion by a Paul M. Jones  discussing a proposed Code of Conduct for open source code and IT work. This sounds both benign and banal until you realize that where benign and banal cross is their...intersection

The Contributor Covenant version on which the RFC is based is authored and maintained by intersectional technologist and transgender feminist Coraline Ada Ehmke. 


"Well, I'm sure THAT won't 
 immediately go pear shaped."

And yeah...It's about as much a dumpster fire as one might expect, but, like so much else today has some really creepy undertones. 

I strongly urge you to read the whole thing, which is replete with links to various other takes on the issue including Ehmke's. I further urge you to bring it to the attention of people with larger readerships.

The apparent importance of one proposed COC may seem deceptively limited in scope,  but the implications are quite troubling and reflect what is already happening. Several examples from the tech world over the last few years are been brought up in the notes at the end. 

This far beyond coders, pretty much everybody can be burned by this. 

Very related is this recent piece from The Phantom Soapbox which, while Twitter related takes a look at similar impulses...
They are watching other people be drummed out for the sin of "not a team player" because their hobby is shooting, or hunting, or even fishing. (Fish have feelings too, you murderer!!!) Or somebody found a pic on-line of them at a Pro-Life rally, or somebody saw them walking into a church on Sunday morning.

Speaking of the Stassi, this video that keeps popping up on Instapundit every few months is also relevant and shows where we are going to end up if we as a society don't get off the PC train. 

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September 19, 2018

AVAST! Ye Land Lubbin' Scallywags!

Let the log show that this be the 19th of September. 



Scrimhaw by Maomaouzi

Today is the day we go below decks to divvy up our ill gotten booty...
...
...
Or just look at it. 
more...

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September 18, 2018

Just as God and Robert Heinlein Intended



Space X has redesigned their interplanetary rocket, the BFS. 



The 55 meter long rocket now has three rather than two fins, each sporting a landing leg, presumably this gives it a wider footprint and more stability when landing on Luna, Mars, Callisto or Mercury. Its aerodynamics have been revised to further facilitate aerobraking.

The ship is to start doing short test flights next year but its big trial run will be a circumlunar test flight about 5 years from now. In addition to a crew of engineers and technicians to evaluate the ships performance and some scientists to do observations during the voyage, Must has, with his typical fair, provided luxury accommodations for some paying passengers on this flight. 

Well, Monday, it was revealed that Yusaku Maezawa., a Japanese  billionaire, publishing magnate, fashion guru and art connoisseur has bought up bought ALL the tickets. He plans to distribute the 6 to 8 other seats amongst various artists in the hopes they will use the experience to further their art. 

Elon Musk is focused almost fanatically on the settlement and eventual terraforming of Mars, though this rocket has far broader potential. Space X is touting the design for exploration and settlement as far afield as the outer solar system. However, the ship is non nuclear and relies on solar power for electricity, which is only really practical as far out as the Jovian system.


"He says with all the knowledge and expertise that a History major has in such matters."

That being said, The space between Jupiter and Mercury is really, really big. 

Furthermore, the engines run on Methane + Oxygen and the ship is designed with in-situ propellant manufacturing in mind. That is, given enough carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and sufficient solar power, it can make its own fuel. Mars, with its ice and CO2 atmosphere is ideal for this, but many asteroids, particularly the Trojans have considerable potential to be so utilized with some effort. This ship can potentially fuel itself and go anywhere within the limits of its solar collectors. Musk specifically proposes establishing propellant depots on Mars and Ceres to facilitate this. 

There's more from Musk here:


One of the concerns I keep hearing is that the Techweasels intend to use space as an escape route to abandon us and space will be the playground of the ultra rich

Roberta-X has thoughts on this.

I know it has become fashionable these days to decry space as a place where the rich will flee to escape us clods -- but in fact it is harsh and desolate, a set of environments where recycling isn't just a nice idea but a near-necessity -- and where conditions are such that you're already set up to work with harsh and dangerous processes while being isolated from them.  We can extract exotic metals and process radioactives on the Moon all we like and not endanger a single newt or squirrel -- or person, if they do it right -- and the aftermath won't be a spreading contaminated lake in China or a massive disposal problem in the Pacific Northwest.  

     Or, I suppose, we can hunker down in shared, egalitarian* poverty and every year there will be less and less, until one day, it'll all be gone.

Someone's gotta do the plumbing, someone's got to run the HVAC, and the aristocrats who aren't going to get their hands dirty aren't going to long be running things. What's going to be needed in space are going to be overwhelmingly what is seen today as blue collar, engineering, mining, construction/repair, mechanics, farming, doctors and short order cooks who can make the tilapia and zinnia taste different the thousandth time around.There will be very little need for lawyers, and NONE for sociology majors. I rather suspect that the need for an aristocracy whose jobs are based on status and appearances will not be strongly felt by the majority of those who will inhabit at least the early settlements. 

There was a similar issue in Jamestown in the early 1600s. The expedition was run by aristocrats who had skillsets that simply did not mesh well with the needs and morale of the larger organization. This situation did not last long. 

 
That aside, it is worth noting that Musk is particularly interested in making sure that his transportation system is affordable by ordinary people and not just the billionaires whose high end flights are financing it. It's mentioned in the above video when he discusses the Moonbase.

Yes. The Moon Base. 

This Kurzgesagt video got a response from Elon Musk within 24 hours.

 

You know, this here 21st century is finally starting to show real potential. 


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What a Difference Two Days Make

Well, the folks lost everything outside the house, the shop, the barn, and the 80 years of accumulated tools in it, the heirlooms, the lawnmower, the backhoe, the trailer and my brother's johnboat (which is now under the command of navy ants somewhere downstream), 


However, before bailing, my Dad, being a southerner, had performed a last futile gesture in service of a lost cause.

He caulked the garage level doors shut.

Well, yesterday morning the stain of the waterline was above the garage floor...but the garage and family room floors were dry. NOTHING in their house was lost!

Everything else is gone, but they're alive, their house is OK (wait...can we say "OK" anymore?) 

The biggest surprise of all was that their boat which was moored at Atlantic Beach somehow survived with only minor damage. 

Alas, their generator was not so lucky, so they're with me for now. We'll be heading back down to clean things up in a few days. 


The whole area though, has been utterly thrashed. Trees and powerlines are down everywhere and the main roads are washed out...as in big ravines where a road used to be. Tornadoes tore through the downtown, roofs are missing, some buildings are just piles of rubble next to anomalously pristine structures...there is no power and the mosquitoes are like something from The African Queen

'The Crystal Coast'  is in for a rough couple of months and I understand that things are far far worse to the south and west. The attention of the nation however, is now elsewhere, distracted by court intrigues and aristocrats posing, but people are still suffering and even dying.

The calamity was and is real, even though some of the reporting was not

Don't forget them.

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September 16, 2018

A Small, Category 2 Hurricane When it Came Ashore (UPDATED)

Here in most of Hampton Roads, Hurricane Florence brought grey skies, some gusts and intermittent rain.  At the state line on the coast around Pungo and Bellhaven however, the storm's effects got rather worse. Farther south still, it is, as most of you know an ongoing disaster of the first order.

My parents live just outside of Morehead City, on high ground in a little town called Newport. The other night they decamped to my sisters house in Ahoskie (well inland) and awaited the storm's passing. 

Now Florence came ashore just south of Morehead, which means that city was in the storm's dangerous quadrant, bearing the brunt of the winds and surge. News reports indicated that damage was about as bad as one would expect with the addition that a couple of tornados had swept through the area, one sweeping through the middle of the town.

Yesterday afternoon I was informed by my sister that since the storm had passed south..."They've gone to Morehead". I started to head down there, but I was then informed that it was no longer possible to get there from here.

Then she explained...

When they arrived they discovered that despite many trees  being down on their property in the woods, the house was completely undamaged. There was no power and there was some standing water near the barn, which in the 40+ years the family owned the property has never happened. The barn is well down the hill though. A little outbuilding along the driveway which was  full of family heirlooms, holiday ornaments, and such was also undamaged. So there was considerable cause for joy. Likewise, a nearby trailer park had had almost all the trees go down, but miss every single trailer. The inhabitants had comer over from the shelter across the bridge and were cleaning up their yards but there was no crisis. My uncle was not so lucky, having had a tree go through his roof, but my dad helped him get the tree out and the hole covered to keep out the intensifying rain.  The rain got quite torrential, despite the storm having passed (there was virtually no wind at this point). They went back across town to their house and set up the generator to keep the freezers cold and run the water pump. Shortly after they finished that, Dad noted 4 feet of water at the barn...all the power tools were in danger. My dad ran down to the barn, but by the time he got there it was six feet deep, so the, power tools were not going to be saved, he started back and discovered that the clumps of what appeared to be peat moss floating, were, in fact, Brazilian Fire ants doing their amazing water thing. Trying desperately to get the invasive flesh eating, venomous annoyances off of him he found he was suddenly, literally, over his head and swam to the johnboat which was floating off its trailer, He unfastened it and discovered as he crawled in it that it was full of...more fire ants. He abandoned the johnboat to the chitinous corsairs and it drifted off into the forest carrying its payload of pain. He swam back where he had moments before been able to wade, holding onto trees against the accelerating current and finally got back to the house, washed off, applied iodine and alcohol, and took benadryl. Soon, the water was up to the barns roof. The shack with the Christmas stuff was half under water...fire ant water. It was shortly after this that they called my sister and informed her that there were so many trees down, that they could see all the way to the bridge over the Newport River...or at least where the road entered the river where the bridge had just been. 

They are cut off, the bridge is out, they're on what amounts to a temporary island now and the water was three feet from the garage when they called my sister. 

A little while later, my Mom called and informed me that all the roads going through New Bern and to Moorehead were now closed. I also found out that the "They" that my sister had been talking about was my Dad and Brother in Law...my Mom is still with my sister, which is a big relief.

Anyway, both of them seem to be OK, but it looks like Mom and Dad are going to loose everything. The water rose rose unbelievably fast and well above what it had been before the storm proper had moved on. 

The damage came not from the wind or the storm surge, but the rain on the back end of the storm, which raised the Newport River to levels it has never been. They lost everything a full day after the storm had passed, there was no wind to speak of according to Dad, and lots of unsuspecting people were coming out to clean up, when a flood of 300 years hit. 


I'll be heading down there as soon as the roads are open again.

Blogging will be on hiatus for a bit.

UPDATE: They're both back at my sister's. Dad's bandaged and puffed up like a balloon from the fire ants. The water is reportedly still rising. We will likely be going down there tomorrow or Tuesday to clean up and see if their  boat survived.

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September 14, 2018

An Admittedly Poor Substitute For Actual Content:

But the editing is quite good. 

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September 12, 2018

Sneaky Storm is Sneaky

It looks like the storm so many of us have been getting prepared for and/or fleeing has cunningly dodged our preparations and is heading to inflict itself upon people who have had little reason to evacuate or otherwise prepare. (These North Atlantic storms almost never turn south and this is the only one I'm aware of that ever did so while moving east). 





We look to have dodged the bullet here, but things are going to be terrible for those this to the south that this storm has caught flatfooted. 

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The 21st Century is Here!

Finally! Exactly the sort of human augmentation that science fiction has been promising us!


Beware of Penguins.

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September 11, 2018

Remember

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September 10, 2018

Bottled Water and Generators.

I haet them



Amusingly enough, in addition to all the hurricane supplies, today at work we shipped a surprisingly large number of snow shovels and bags of rock salt. 


"So...there's just a "WEATHER! " button for these contingencies then?"

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September 09, 2018

Razorfist on Immigration

This video is a year old, littered with profanity, and, turns out to be an exceedingly reasonable, and even nuanced take on the issue....with a somewhat unexpected perspective. 



I was particularly surprised to learn that in addition to Heavy Metal, comic books, video games and cussing; Razorfist's hobbies include building houses for homeless people south of the border. 

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Battening Down 2



It's still a week out, but this one is looking bad. It's very likely Florence will be CAT 4 or worse when it makes landfall. Meanwhile the ground here is saturated. There are still streets impassable due to high water and power is out in a few places due to a string of back to back rainstorms. As I type this, it is about to rain again. 

The situation is similar at my parents house down between Cape Hatteras and Wilmington, so I'm assuming those conditions extend from Norfolk to Wilmington. This means when the hurricane dumps its rain the ground will be soup. When 80 -100 knot winds arrive (let alone full cat 4 winds, which will cover a limited area)  it will be knocking over trees, power poles, streetlights and causing taller buildings to settle and topple. 

This storm is not getting as much coverage as it warrants and people seem oblivious to the menace that is approaching, Certainly, I'm not seeing anything like the sense of urgency I witnessed in the week before Isabel hit.  

If this system follows its predicted path and has winds even 2/3 as high as predicted then this storm has the potential to be a first order catastrophe. 



more...

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September 08, 2018

Meanwhile: On Drudge

Drudge has not updated his web design since 1996 and almost never removes anything from his list of newsfeeds.


Curiously, Apple News and Google News seem to be missing all of a sudden in exactly the same way Info-Wars isn't.

Huh.



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Battening Down

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September 05, 2018

Stein's Gate



Stein's Gate is a series from 2011 that was popular and fairly well regarded. I'd missed it at the time, but as the one reported beacon of goodness in the vast wasteland that is this season is a sequel to that show, I decided to check it out before starting  Sten's Gate Zero.

This turned out to be a sound decision, not only because Stein's Gate Zero makes exactly zero sense without the prequel, but because Stein's Gate is a very neat show.

The story begins with Rintaro Okabe and Itaru Hashida two nerdy male college students and Mayuri Shiina, a moe-blob cosplayer. They run a small applied sciences lab in an apartment rented over a used electronics store. Their current project involves a highly modified food service microwave oven which has been modified to operate via cell phone and internet connection. As the dumpster derived device had no working magnetron, they're also working on a magnetron analog of their own design which is performing...rather erratically. 

When two of them decide to go to a physics lecture being given by a controversial scientist, they bump into Kurisu Makise, a neuroscience graduate student on summer break from her studies in the U.S.  

And then things get weird.

This is an odd show with all sorts of overused cliche's, gratuitous fanboy references and adult onset Chuunibyou.

It also manages to be absolutely riveting. 

In the course of 24 episodes our band of 3 nerdy tinkerers and their otaku shield bearers find themselves involved with a whole slew of science weirdness, international conspiracies, the Akihabara chamber of commerce, the Large Hadron Collider and...traps.    

Be advised that the superficial wackieness serves as comic relief and a tension breaker. This is dark science fantasy. The story is absolutely gut wrenching at times, almost to the point of sadism in some scenes. However, the characters are endearing and there is a most definite thread of hope that runs through the whole show.

All the characters tend to have surprising (often hidden) depths. My only complaint is that Kurisu Makise, the awesome female lead is somewhat underutilized, at least at first. 



All in all, I quite enjoyed Stein's Gate. It's smart, enjoyable and full of surprises.

 Aside from the caveat that you go in understanding that it is occasionally quite  brutal, I highly recommend this series. 

It's just really well done. 






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September 03, 2018

Oddly Enough, I have Mixed Emotions About This Headline

Orion Space Battleships Could Still be Built in a Nuclear Space Race





An Orion Spaceship, albeit not a battleship drawn by Adrian Mann

Next Big Future gives a concise overview of the Orion Project, though aside from the headline no explanation for why the political hurdles to nuclear pulsed propulsion might be overcome.  

Note that as I type this, the post over there seems to stop in mid-sentence while discussing Casaba Howitzers.



more...

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September 01, 2018

Speculative Technology in Sci-Fi

Sometimes it doesn't age well..




I've started watching Stein's Gate a well regarded series from 2011 that I'd never gotten around to. There's a short bit in the first episode where we learn that one of the future technologies our scientist protagonists are working on is household appliances that can be remotely operated by cellphone. 

Alas. No one went back in time and warned them about the internet of things.

That aside, I must say that, one episode in, this show has me quite effectively hooked.

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Panopticon Peculiarities

Two weeks ago I noted that I'd been logged into You-Tube automatically and found in the course of some browsing, a number of surprisingly risque MMD videos. I'd half-joked that teh Googleplex was thus made aware of my  observation of certain MMD channels of debatable societal merit.

Last night I got an alert that some site I was unfamiliar with had published another video. I initially ignored it as a phishing scheme, but later looked up the site name through You tube search and discovered that it was one  of the aforementioned sites.

Now I double checked and I'm subscribed to two channels...both of them safe for work.

So I'm getting alerts for these male gaze oriented channels, which would not be an issue if not for the fact that this means I'm on Google's perv list.

I really can never get married now.

One odd bit. The Channel in question, seems to have had several updates since my initial visit, though this was the first new content alert I'd gotten from it.

The channel is here if you are interested in doing scholarly research of this troubling privacy issue...or perhaps low gravity fluid dynamics. It is likely to be of dubious utility for researching anatomy since I don't think boobs work that way. 

 

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August 31, 2018

Oh.

Well, this seems newsworthy.

The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command is investigating a serious equipment and ammunition theft from the US Army’s Fort Hood base. A quantity of ammunition and Chemical, Biological, Radological and Nuclear equipment has been stolen from a storage cage at Fort Hood in Texas.

It looks like the quantity of ammo was 480 rounds, hardly a massive arsenal (about a day at the range). It might, or might not be significant that in contrast to the 9mm rounds, the type of 5.56 ammo was not disclosed. Still, even assuming some armor piercing-explosive 22 round, it seems that the radiological equipment would be of greater concern.

More on this here

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