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Monday, November 20, 2017

Pic of the Day

Artist's impression of Oumuamua
The space jocks are pretty sure it is just passing through our neighborhood and is not in orbit around the sun.  It's estimated to be 400 meters long, which is pretty freakin' small. Makes me wonder how it was defected in the first place. Probably by a computer program that noticed one pixel was not the same as the ones in previous photos.

They also tacked a funny accent mark on the front of the name. Like that's going to make a difference in how people pronounce it. Well, it makes no difference to me. Besides, I am unlikely speak its name, and if I do, who will know if I am saying it wrong? Certainly not me.

A little more pointing and clicking turned up this video.

Animation of `Oumuamua passing through the Solar System

The trajectory of this thing reminds me of nothing so much as Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. It could be just a coincidence that it came so close to our Sun, but if you want to believe in aliens, it sure looks like it was aimed there with the intent of altering its trajectory. Where is Flash Gordon when we need him? Well, it doesn't matter because we couldn't have caught it if we wanted to. It's traveling at over 20 miles per second. The only spacecraft that have ever gotten up to that speed are interplanetary probes that we sent sunward, like Cassini.

Via Indy Tom

Killer Bots

The text on the opening screen from another video that uses this same clip:
StratoEnergetics LIVE STREAM
Buenos Aires Event
TV Truck 02
I've cut the video off just past the 2 minute mark because I don't know what the rest of it is. The first couple of minutes look like a real presentation of a real product, and it's scary enough without tacking on a bunch fake news for the sake of fear mongering.

The guy on the stage must have a great deal of confidence in his company and their product. I don't think I'd even want to be on the same planet with one of those things. Oh, wait, I already am. I don't like this, not at all.

There might not be any effective countermeasures available right now, but I am sure people will be working on them. Shotgun might work. Really big Styrofoam helmets might work. Butterfly nets. We shall see.

Via Detroit Steve

Update: previous post about another swarm of military robot drones.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Grace Marks

Alias Grace | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

We've started watching this mini-series and it's pretty good. Grace Marks emigrates from Ireland in the mid 1800's and gets a position in a fine house in Toronto. Just the story about what her life was like is fine, but then there's the murder, and we have to find out how that happened. At this time Canada has just suffered a couple of failed rebellions, so there's a little politics in the mix as well.

The Blue Diamond Affair

Saudi Blue Diamond
A comment on my previous post got me looking into this. It's quite the story involving royalty, peasants, theft, murder, corrupt government officials, fouled diplomatic relations and it's been going on for 28 years. Wikipedia has a summaryVice News has slightly fuller story (2 years old).

While I was poking around I also came across this entertaining story about another blue diamond.

Necklace Repair

My wife brings me this necklace, telling me that the chain is screwed up. I look at it but I can't find anything wrong, so she explains that the pendant is supposed to slide on the chain, but somehow it has gotten hooked onto one particular link and doesn't slide anymore. So I look a little closer.

The ring that connects the pendant to the chain  (shown edge on in the above picture) is not solid, there is a tiny break in it that is held closed only by the strength of the ring. This break has widened just enough to let one side of one of the flat links slide through, which has effectively trapped the ring on that link. The cure is to slide that one side of the link back through the gap and then squeeze the ring a bit to close the gap. However, slide the other side of the link through the gap and it will come completely off the chain. A little topological puzzle that had me scratching my head for a couple of minutes. Of course, it didn't help that everything involved is so frigging tiny and my eyes aren't as good as they used to be. I need some magnifying lenses if I am going to do any more of this kind of work.

The three colors of stones in the picture were a complete surprise. In real life they are all the same color as the center stone. I suppose the having the flash go off right three inches in front of it might be the reason for the colors showing differently. It's only costume jewelry. If was made of real gemstones the ring would have been solid and there would not have been a problem.

May the (Virtual) Force be with you

But beware, it might be agin you.

I tried to post this music video on Reddit, but was refused by their bot who pointed out that this video has had 12 million views, which surprised me because I had never heard of these guys. Of course my ears are shielded from most sources of noise, so I guess that is not surprising.

On the other hand, this tune, which I like as much or maybe more, has fewer than a thousand views. As Marcel points out, there are forces at work in the virtual world that we are completely unaware of.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roberta X has the Right of It

I've been out wandering around on the interwebz, and there is a great of carping, pissing and moaning about this that and the other, and frankly, I've heard enough. Roberta X posted an excellent summary on her blog a couple of months ago and I haven't seen anything better, so I'm reposting it here, even though she got mad at me the last time I did it and promised not to do it again, but dang, everybody needs to hear it. So here it is:
     Not up to anything too blamed fancy this morning.  The extent to which people are willing to carry water for utterly odious ideas, groups and systems of governance that have already been tried and found to result in pain, misery and death, often directly at the hands of what passes for government, depresses me.
     Look, Churchill was right.  "Democracy" in its various forms as seen around the world today sucks; but it sucks far less for more people than any other system.  "Freedom" is messy, ugly, undisciplined; the only thing worse is government control of the press, of what you can do or say in public.  "Capitalism" is a huge mess -- people often wind up working for lousy wages, employers often end up with lousy workers, distribution of material goods is uneven and it only too easily corrupts or becomes corrupt itself -- yet it has improved the lot in life of more people, more rapidly, than any other system of economics that has been tried.
     Democracy, freedom, capitalism: all deeply imperfect.  Sloppy.  Messy.  Inelegant. But they're better than any of the alternatives, by direct and bloody experiment.
     People died finding this stuff out.  They died in droves, desperately.  They didn't volunteer to be a part of the experiment.  They died of wars and autocrats and needless shortages, they died of prejudice and superstition and because it was easier to ignore them to death.  They're still dying of it and you can read about it in the news any day of the week.
     And yet we're still having to argue -- and worse! -- with dewy-eyed idealists and cold-eyed haters about ideas that were shown to be horrible nonsense when their grandparents were in diapers.
Roberta can hate me if she wants. I still love her.  I think it's safe to say that, she lives a couple of thousand miles away, I don't expect to see her anytime soon.