November 22, 2018

On Giving Thanks



Art by Garibo

I hope that those of you in the States and Territories of the United States have a Happy Thanksgiving holiday and that everyone else has a pleasant day.  Remember, that today is not just about the turkey, it's also about perspective. Whatever curve-balls life throws at us there is still much to be thankful for. 

We live in an age of wonders. Most of us can reach into our pockets and pull out a device the size of a cigarette pack that will allow us to watch films that haven't haven't been screened in over a century, answer important questions, and communicate with people on other continents via a network that allows us access to nearly the sum of human knowledge.. We have medical capabilities that would have seemed to be sorcery a century ago. Most of us have access to luxuries such as refrigeration and a variety of food that a Chinese or Roman emperor would have envied. We have have largely cast off the odious shackles of racism, at least to the point that we can benefit from the glorious virtues of hybrid vigor and we stand on the cusp of becoming an interplanetary species. Despite the best efforts of censorious jerks, most of us still have the ability to communicate and speak our minds. There are, to be sure threats to all of these wonders and those who would intentionally or not bring them all down. To be sure we are not in "The best of all possible worlds" and there are very real challanges that face us, but we have so very much it is important to take a moment and give thanks for the wonders that we have.

Even though it might sometimes be hard to remember that. 
 
...as it surely was for those who had the misfortune to be present at the Pinedale Shopping Mall 40 years ago.


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August 18, 2016

Historical Perspective

The U.S. shows up at 14:25. 



Note that during the time represented by nearly 15 minutes of this 15:56 minute video (which slows down a bit at the end), slavery was an ubiquitous institution except in isolated locations for fleeting seconds. The fruits of the enlightenment are an aberration in history that have survived as of now for a far shorter time than the vast majority of nations. This is far from mankind's natural state and we desperately need to grasp how precious and fragile this anomalous blossoming of knowledge and human rights is. 

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September 08, 2013

This...Ummm...No






UPDATE: Come to think of it, I've SEEN this movie.


UPDATE 2: Time actually named this one of the 50 best inventions of 2010. Inexplicably, 3 years on, there seems to be no implementation of this amazing idea.
I should also belatedly mention that I got this via Brian Wang,.

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October 19, 2012

Oh My! This is a Thing of Beauty!







The desmugification process will take years...So it's heartening to finally see someone take the first step.

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January 10, 2008

Volkwagen 21

A people's car designed under a rather more benign regime than the most famous one....It's nearly as cute and given its price it may well be as successful.

Of course there is another "peoples car" that it might also emulate.

Time will tell.

I'm rooting for the Tata's.
Wait...that's not what I meant!..er..to say out loud.

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November 17, 2007

Up Ship!

    Airship Ventures is planning to begin operating a small Zeppelin out of Moffet Field for tours of San Fransisco Bay.

    The Zeppelin NT airships have had a superb saftey record thus far and are quite fuel efficient. 

They are also fricking Zeppelins...which makes them trancendentally cool.

    This type of Zeppelin is interesting because it generally operates slightly heavier than air. It gains the few hundred pounds of lift it needs from its fins or its vectorable propellors, though by dropping ballast it can float like a balloon if necessary. The design allows for far better foul weather performance and, as a bonus, a ground crew of as few as 3 which is a huge improvement over previous designs. Because of their rigid construction and compartmentation, Zeppelins are more robust than Blimps (which have no internal bracing).  

    If approved by the San Fransisco city council, this will be the first rigid airship to be based in the US since the decomissioning of USS Los Angeles (ZR3), and the first to be comercially operated.

    Besides the retrocool cool factor, Airships, because of their fuel efficiency have a lot of undevelloped potential for ultra low pollution comercial air travel, although they are slower than planes (about 120 kts max). They can also cary fairly heavy loads to remote areas and so have some potential as freightliners.

    On the military side, airships have great potential for Search and Rescue, Airborne Early Warning, Antisubmarine and mine clearance both at sea and, interestingly, over land using a big ground penetrating radar and other sophisticated sensors. The mines could be destroyed with cannon or if detected near a civillian dwelling a BD team could be landed. I read recently that one company (Airship Industries of the UK I think) did some considerable work in this arera but there were no takers. This last option gives the potential to clear large areas of  landmines quite efficiently.

Pic via Modern Airships which has scads of links concerning...well...modern airships.

 

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October 24, 2007

Wolfpackzapgun!

Chizumatic links to this important development in super science.

more...

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July 31, 2007

i-Debt

Wow...

Don't go roaming with the i-Phone.

I'm glad I'm not rich...or I'd be broke.

HT: Jerry Pournelle

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Advertisements of Yesteryear

The sort of ads we never see anymore....

...probably because most of them just creeped people out.


HT: Rand Simberg

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July 17, 2007

My First Blogad??

No not really, but Lynn over at A Sweet Familiar Dissonance has stumbled on to a  seriously cool online store.

With a name like United Nuclear you know its gotta be good!

Europium paint!
Cloud chambers!
Aerogels!
Radioactive decontamination spray (?!)
FREAKING TESLA COILS!!!!*



And thanks to Don for pointing out her blog!

*tesla coils do not actually freak

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June 27, 2007

Microsoft Table

Via Twentysided:

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June 24, 2007

Wallpapers Of Futures Past

Over at Paleofuture Matt has posted 3 retro-riffic screen savers!

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June 17, 2007

Jets are not Rockets...but Both are Cool.

Rand Simberg takes this Popular Mechanics article to task for calling the rocket pack being marketed by Go Fast International a jet pack.

In fairness this is the name they give their product.

It is true that the terms were clarified in the 50s or thereabouts to refer to jets as air-breathers, and rockets as those that carry their own oxidants, the terms were once interchangeable  and  the propulsion  (as opposed to fuel details) are pretty much identical (turbofans notwithstanding). However the capabilities of the systems are vastly different. Rand is absolutely right that a real jet pack would be much cooler than this as it would have orders of magnitude more range.

I want one!


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June 13, 2007

Law of the Sea Treaty....Moon Treaty

Rand Simberg has thoughts on both.

He is not enthused.

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The Great Ones Pass

Mr Wizard has died.

HT: Jerry Pournelle

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May 15, 2007

The Future's Gonna Suck!!...Mabey!!

Via Instapundit comes this interesting take by SciFi author Charlie Stross on the what the future has to offer....or not.

One important point he makes, that many predictors overlook, is the track record of past predictions...which, as the absence of a jet pack in my closet and a flying car in my driveway attest...is spotty at best.

The privacy implications are troubling as is the prospect of disastrous single-point failures if things like driverless cars really are mandated, but read the whole thing.

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