May 04, 2016

And so, it begins

I have to admit I'm having fun reading all the weeping and gnashing of teeth by conservatives about the fact that Cruz and Kasich just dropped out of the race, leaving Trump unopposed.

Me, I can't say I ever supported Trump. Actually, the candidate I wanted was Walker, but he dropped out last summer. But I don't think Trump is quite the full-scale disaster a lot of other people think. His bad aspects are legion and obvious and I won't bother talking about them because lots of other people will be doing so. But there are good things here, too. Let's take a look.

1. He can beat Hillary. Hillary is an astoundingly weak and vulnerable candidate and Trump hasn't let loose with the big cannons on her yet. He's saving his ammunition (and there is plenty of it) for the general election campaign. Her problems start with the FBI investigation but they don't stop there.

2. If Trump wins, he won't be in thrall to big contributors.

3. Trump is willing to fire people if he thinks they aren't performing well. Don't underestimate how important this is.

4. Trump doesn't care about bad press. He's been getting wall-to-wall negative press coverage since the campaign began and if anything it seems he loves it.

5. If Trump is elected, heads all over Europe will explode.

6. Trump is a capitalist. Yeah, he's said things about raising taxes on the rich and so on; that's the zeitgeist. But unlike someone like Sanders, Trump works for a living and has spent his whole life in the business world. Maybe he's not the best businessman on the planet (he's gone bankrupt twice, isn't it?) When it really comes down to it though, that's where his mind is.

7. Unlike Obama, Trump wants America to be strong. Obama's foreign and domestic policy during his presidency was to end the "American Century", to reduce America to being just another nation in the world. Obama wanted to strengthen enemies, weaken friends, and bring about a level playing field in the world. Trump won't do that; he likes winning and sees nothing wrong with that.

8. Trump is totally politically incorrect. He doesn't care about safe spaces or micro-aggressions; he thinks that political correctness is stupid. He says what he thinks even if it offends someone. He's willing to insult people. SJW heads will be exploding, too. I think 4 years of Trump will kill off that movement.

9. The Republican establishment is about to take it in the teeth. The voters are pissed at them and Trump is going to deliver the message to them. This was as much a vote against RINOs as it was a vote for Trump.

10. And finally: they say you can know a man by his enemies. Trump has the right enemies, as far as a lot of voters are concerned.

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April 30, 2016

Just some random stuff


I'd love to try this but I don't think I could maintain a straight face. (Shamelessly stolen from Ace of Spades.)


And this is for Lewis Hamilton, who is having a world-record run of miserable luck this season in F1.

"Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times, it's enemy action." -- Auric Goldfinger

Watch your back, Lewis!

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April 28, 2016

Beware the frumious panda-snatch!

A bomb threat isn't really funny no matter when or where it happens, but some are more bizarre than others.

In Baltimore there is (as I type this) a man wearing a panda suit who is threatening to blow up the building which contains the studios of the local Fox-TV affiliate.

So obviously he's a fruitcake, and it's unlikely he really has a bomb, but still the cops have to play it straight. Here's hoping no one gets shot before it's all over.

UPDATE: Apparently the worst is over. He got shot and has been taken to a hospital. There was a "device" and it's being investigated by the bomb squad.

UPDATE: His "bomb" was candy bars with wiring and a random circuit board. The flash drive he was trying to proffer turned out to contain tinfoil-hat info about astronomy.

He was shot several times by the police but hasn't died and isn't expected to.

Latest info is on this Twitter account, for the moment. At this point I would say this guy goes into the "lone nutcase" folder.

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April 26, 2016



Thunderstorms bearing hail as big as grapefruit and winds approaching hurricane strength lashed portions of the Great Plains on Tuesday, but arrived without the destructive tornadoes that many had worried about for days.

We get hail here sometimes but it's never like that! Ours is the size of peas or smaller. Hail the size of a grapefruit is a weapon of mass destruction; cars parked outside can be destroyed. Buildings will be damaged; holes in roofs, windows out. A person hit by one of those can be injured or even killed.

This is "head for the storm cellar" weather even if there aren't any tornadoes.

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April 17, 2016

F1 4WD

I'm no automotive engineer. (These days I'm not really much of an engineer of any kind.) But I had a strange thought last night: how would an F1 car do if it was four-wheel-drive?

Right off the top, I came up with this:

-- It would be less reliable. Every component of a machine has a failure rate, and the more components, the greater the chance that something will fail. However, the increase in the failure rate might not be enough to matter.

-- It would make the car heavier, and thus it would not accelerate as well on straights.

-- It would corner better. If the front wheels are turned and are pulling the car, it's going to be possible to go faster through a turn. That's not so much a question of picking up time, it means the car would corner like softs when it was wearing intermediate tires. So you could get away with fewer pitstops because you spend most of your time on tires which last better.

-- And finally, there's probably a rule against it, or there soon would be. Every time anyone comes up with an interesting feature (like the six-wheel car and the vacuum cleaner car) the spoilsports at F1 outlaw it.

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April 14, 2016

Another proof that I'm getting old


I was just rewatching part of Mouretsu Pirates and saw a computer display that included the word "overdrive". It made me wonder how many young people today know where that term came from?

No, it doesn't refer to an electric guitar saturating its amplifier, or anything to do with electronics. That usage came later.

I remember it being used by James Blish a couple of times to refer to FTL travel, and that's how it was used in Mouretsu Pirates. But it had a real meaning in the 1940's and 1950's and it didn't have anything to do with space flight, or electric guitars.

And if you know what it was, I think that means you're old, like I am...

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April 05, 2016

Sometimes fate has a sense of humor

Euro-Disney just had a freak accident. An employee was found dead in the Haunted House attraction. Reportedly he was working on lighting and got electrocuted.

Will this make customers begin to think that the "Haunted House" is really haunted?

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April 03, 2016

The march of technology

The stuff we're doing in high tech has been rendering revolutions, and the side effects of those revolutions will reverberate for centuries.

For 500 years, printing presses were uncommon, and thus the power of communications they enabled were limited to a few people. But that all changed about 20 years ago; and now nearly anyone can publish and distribute their thoughts, electronically, at negligible cost. That revolution has already wrought substantial changes and it's only going to get worse (or better, depending on your point of view).

One consequence of that is that the business model of dozens of corporations who relied on ownership of physical printing presses is rapidly becoming non-viable. Some of them have gone out of business already and the rest are trying to find ways to survive, even though most of them will not.

But it also means that the self-selected "gate keepers" of public discourse have totally lost control over the gate. Public discourse is no longer controlled by any kind of elite. And as a result, we live in interesting times.

And now for something completely different. A hundred years ago, aircraft because a significant weapon of war. By WWII the importance of aircraft became overwhelming. But building and operating a substantial air force was extremely expensive, involving huge capital investment and large numbers of men, all of which cost a great deal to maintain.

And maybe that's about to change, too. ISIS is reported to be developing an airforce based on drones, which are cheap, and readily available, and don't require a mammoth support infrastructure. Even if this report is not true, it's going to happen somewhere, by someone, and not necessarily just by a large terrorist organization.

It's possible that in ten years it will be just as cheap and common for private citizens to have their own airforce equivalents, the way we have the equivalent of printing presses now. How, for instance, do you maintain security over major buildings like the US Capitol when any crank can put a pipe bomb on a drone and send it in?

And not just major political targets. Will "pro-life" cranks start using drones to bomb abortion clinics? Will "gun control" advocates start making airstrikes against large gun stores and shooting ranges? When will we see a public official who is giving a speech get attacked by a drone? How do you fend that off? (Even if all it does is to disrupt the speech and panic the crowd, that may be enough for some attackers.)

How do you protect a big natgas storage facility against drones that don't care about barbed-wire fences?

And if it's a drone with a decent radio range, which is carrying a camera in addition to a bomb, then the attacker could be anywhere. How do you find them?

And how many will there be? This kind of attack could be launched for under $1000 by anyone with a grievance. (And there are a lot of grievances out there!)

I don't think this is going to cause as much change, or as widespread of change, as the internet did, but it's going to change a lot of things. For instance, it may become the norm for heads of state to make speeches by TV instead of in person. And just as the internet has changed the way campaigns are run, the fear of drone attack will change them too.

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March 22, 2016

Belgian bombing

It's bad and it's going to get worse. As always in a situation like this early reports are confused and contradictory; it'll take a couple of days before we can see an accurate picture. But what we already know is that this was big.

And as always in these cases, what most concerns lefties is anti-Muslim backlash. Their sympathy is with the perps, not the victims. It brings to mind this joke headline from a few years ago:

"Muslims Fear Reprisals for Tomorrow's Train Bombing”

It's amazing (no it isn't) and tragic (for sure) that this joke is still timely.

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March 13, 2016

I feel so safe!

"Bomb-sniffing dog discovers 2 Hellfire missiles bound for Portland". As in my Portland, the city in whose suburbs I live.

Marvelous. Were there others, shipped by other routes, which didn't get detected?

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Weird World at 08:20 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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