Friday, July 29, 2005

Physics of Space Security

No matter what your feeling is about space-based weaponry - if you don't know what you're talking about you have no business shooting your mouth off about it.

You want your teeth fixed, you go to a dentist. You want your router fixed, find a guy with some knowledge of IOS. Need numbers crunched you grab a board certified accountant. If you are a lay person and want to have the background to discuss 'weapons' and 'space' I suggest reading The Physics of Space Security.
This report provides information on a range of technical issues related to space systems that are important for anyone involved in the debate over space security to understand.² It discusses cost and technology, where appropriate, and attempts to separate these from the fundamental physics issues. It is written for a lay audience but includes appendices that give more detailed information of interest to technical audiences.

The report is intended to familiarize readers with the important technical terminology and concepts related to satellites and operating in space. For example, the behavior of objects traveling at very high speeds in space is much different than the behavior of objects in motion on the ground or in the atmosphere and is largely outside people’s day-to-day experience. As a result, most people have not developed intuition about the behavior of satellites, so that attempting to apply lessons from common experience can lead to mistakes and misconceptions.

Things are different up there. Bringing notions of how things work in a terrestrial environment to the table isn't going to cut it.

Spinoff

As relevant today as when R.A. Heinlein wrote it.
Our race will spread out through space-unlimited room, unlimited energy, unlimited wealth. This is certain.

But I am not certain that the working language will be English. The people of the United States seem to have suffered a loss of nerve.

Blogrolled

I've been blogrolled. The favor will be returned of course. I must say I don't agree with his assesment of Gagnon but what a sad world if we agreed with each other on every last picky detail, hmm?

M-16

Read this and it reminded me of my own 'nothin' wrong with that weapon' moment.

1986, Quantico KD Range. A Corporal in the next relay is shooting the 200 sitting.
Bang. Maggie's drawers. Bang. High and right. Bang. Low and left.
Some grumbling heard; the rifle is messed up. Got to be.
The range OIC, a Warrant Officer 4, strolls up.
Lemme see that weapon, son.
WO 4 tips the sign to the tower. All targets down to half but his. He slips his own magazine into the weapon, tosses it to his shoulder and rips off twenty rounds, offhand - just that quick.
His target goes down and comes back up with a single spot, middle of the bull.
"Aint' the weapon, boy, it's the shooter."

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Think of the children

People can say that defense programs are taking food and clothing from the poor (and indeed they might but the connection is tenuous at best) but over here we read that Air America was the recipient of money that really did take money that was destined for the Boys and Girls club.

Hat tip to Random Nuclear Strikes and Radio Equalizer

Words to live by

I've been re-reading Jim Lovell's 'Lost Moon' - the book he co-wrote with Jeffrey Kluger that details the events of Apollo 13. You might remember the movie with Tom Hanks.

The movie at one point had Gene Kranz saying "Failure is not an option" which while dramatic as all get out is something he didn't actually say. I found that the last time I'd read this copy I'd dog eared a page that has a passage that isn't nearly as pithy or dramatic but rings true.

On April 15 at 13:30 one of four LEM batteries exploded. Don Arabian, Mission Evaluation Room, diagnosed the problem and sat down over a quick working lunch with Jim McDivitt (head of the Apollo program office) and one rep each from Grumman and Eagle Picher, the contractor that manufactured the batteries in the LEM.

"Fellows," the MER chief said, tearing off a pizza slice and pushing the box across the table toward McDivitt, "we've been looking at the numbers, and the good news is, this is no big deal." He turned to the Eagle Picher engineer. "You agree?"
"No big deal," the engineer said.
"So the battery will stay on line?" McDivitt asked.
"It should," said Arabian.
"And we can make it back on the power we've got?"
"We should," Arabian said. "We were pulling fewer amps than we thought we would anyway, so we should stay within our margin of error."
"Then there wasn't an explosion?" the Grumman man asked.
"Oh, there was an explosion," Arabian said.
"But nothing actually .... blew up," the Grumman man amended.
"Sure it did," Arabian said, chewing pizza. "The battery blew up."
"But do we have to actually use that term? I mean, the battery's still operating. People get awfully excited when you say something blew up."
"What term would you suggest?"
The Grumman rep said nothing
"Look," Arabian said after a pause, "you know this is no problem and I know this is no problem. But if the battery screws up, I'm going to say so. And if a tank screws up, I'm going to say so. And if the crew screws up, I'm going to say so. Fellows, these are just systems, and if you're not honsest with yourself about what went wrong, you ain't gonna be able to fix anything."

Words to live by.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Globenet

From Globenet. Three little words and their credibility is shot to shreds and screaming on the ground for mercy. Nano Nuclear Bomb. You can't google to find out what it is but it must be icky beyond belief - it has the word nuclear in it.
----- Original Message -----
From: International Association of Nanotechnology
To: globalnet@mindspring.com
Sent: Monday, July 25, 2005 8:21 AM
Subject: Nanotechnology and Society -Some important issues to be discussed at ICNT 2005

Frequently Asked Questions about Nanotechnology and its impact on Society

1. How much money has been funded in Nanotechnology worldwide? $4.3 billion a year

2. How much is it compared with the US military budget ? $409 billion a year

3. Is it possible to make nano nuclear bomb, using nanotechnology which could release massive lethal nuclear radiation ? Yes.

4. Is "Nano Nuclear Weapon" a potential threat to our civilization? Yes.

5. Who is responsible for the misuse and abuse of the power Nanotechnology?

This is a good question. We have invited a team of nanotechnologists, social scientists, bioethicists, philosophers to debate about this.

To discuss about the state-of-the-art technological development in Nanotechnology and its impacts to the society at large, you are invited to participate in the

International Congress of Nanotechnology 2005
October 31 to November 4, 2005, San Francisco, USA

http://nanotechcongress.com

Let your opinion be heard at the Congress!

Yes indeed, make your opinion heard.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Garrison Keillor has lost it

I don't know what 'it' is that he's lost. Could be that I've grown away from Keilor's brand of 'funny' or he's become another cranky Boomer. Possibly both.
This raised a question in my mind: Did Rove know Ms. Plame had taken the identity of Mr. Cheney during an arrhythmia episode at Walter Reed and that a heavily sedated vice president had been flown by the CIA to Riyadh as Ms. Plame donned a latex-padded suit and took his place? She quickly discovered that the uranium was stored at the Whitewater property once owned by the Clintons and then deeded to Kofi Annan and used as a supply depot for black helicopters. She tried to warn Mr. Clinton and the next day he had that mysterious "bypass" operation after which he suddenly got chummy with ex-CIA chief George H.W. Bush and the two flew off to Southeast Asia like in an old Crosby/Hope "Road" picture.

New York Times columnist William Safire was the first to spot the womanly tenderness in the vice president's eyes, and he called Mrs. Cheney to ask if Rosebud had been infiltrated. She denied everything. She also said she had "never been happier."

Implying that Lynn Cheney is a closeted lesbian - how droll, how arch. Retch. Give up the political barbs and commentary, Garrison. You're not good at it, and it shows.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Government

After our recent adventure in Chicago with US Customs I conclude that people who think the government can solve problems and want more of it do not have to deal with the government on a daily basis, down at the low levels where things happen.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Happy Moon Day

Happy Moon Day
Thirty-six years ago today, John F. Kennedy's goal of sending a man to the moon, and returning him safely to the earth within the decade, achieved a key milestone, as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin gently set their lunar excursion module (named "Eagle") on to the rocky, and dusty, surface of the moon. They had yet to "return safely to the earth," but they would, a few days later.
The Eagle Landed


In a just world this would be a Federal holiday.

Monday, July 18, 2005

It is true what they say about journalists

You do know what they say about journalists? That they have to see an elephant in the bathtub to know the circus is in town.
But virtually all suicide bombers, of late, have been Sunni Muslims. There are a lot of angry people in the world. Angry Mexicans. Angry Africans. Angry Norwegians. But the only ones who seem to feel entitled and motivated to kill themselves and totally innocent people, including other Muslims, over their anger are young Sunni radicals. What is going on?
"Some of these young Muslim men are tempted by a civilization they consider morally inferior, and they are humiliated by the fact that, while having been taught their faith is supreme, other civilizations seem to be doing much better," said Raymond Stock, the Cairo-based biographer and translator of Naguib Mahfouz. "When the inner conflict becomes too great, some are turned by recruiters to seek the sick prestige of 'martyrdom' by fighting the allegedly unjust occupation of Muslim lands and the 'decadence' in our own."
The secret of this story is in that conversion - and so is the crisis in Islam. The people and ideas that brought about that sudden conversion of Hasib Hussain and his pals - if not stopped by other Muslims - will end up converting every Muslim into a suspect and one of the world's great religions into a cult of death.
A Poverty of Dignity and a Wealth of Rage

Knocking on Heaven's Door

From Globenet. Note that a conference about 'space' includes as featured speakers people who may not be subject matter experts about the area they are speaking about.

For example this fellow.
Knocking on Heaven's Door - An International Conference on Space Security

1st October 2005

Leeds Metropolitan University
Brunswick Building
Leeds, UK

An important conference at an important time - President George W. Bush is about to announce that the US will go ahead with developing and deploying weapons in space.

What does this mean to foriegn policies, international relations and global security?

How will peace activists and campaigners react?

Leading speakers and actors in this debate will be in Leeds on 1st October
to commemorate the start of "Keep Space for Peace Week"

Speakers include:

Bruce Gagnon - from the "Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space", Maine;

Stacey Fritz from "No Nukes North", Alaska;

Dennis Apel from the "Guadlope Catholic Worker" and "Vandenberg Action Coalition", California;

Kate Hudson, Chair of CND;

Jeremy Corbyn MP;

Jean Lambert MEP (Green Party);

Lindis Percy (CAAB)


Plus a number of Workshops on the Militarisation of Space

Admission FREE

But please registration necessary -

Contact: d.webb@leedsmet.ac.uk

Anti Progress

I'd been aware of Bruce Gagnon's anti-nuclear anti-space organization Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space for a few months, but a reading of the docs on their website puzzled me. The title tells you what they don't like but what DO they like? A certain pro-space slant can be detected but for the life of me I could not see a plan for getting from here (Earth) to there (space). Being against something is a fine and noble tradition in America but you gotta show the plan to have cred.

I wrote Bruce an email on 4/17/2005 in response to this post (quoted below).
"No matter whether you are a left winger or a right winger you should be worried about how the multi-national corporations are running our country into the ground. They don't care about "country" any more."

I see by your blog entry that we have many of the same goals - I look at infrastructure and wonder where the money will come from. For my .02 cents the 87 billion (and counting) for Iraq should have been spent _here_ developing a domestic energy industry. And so on.

I believe that no one person or agency can or should have 'the answer'. But men of good will can work together on the puzzle and create an answer that suits all of us.

Global Network is against .. well .. weapons and nuclear power for space. The organization I work for, Liftport Group, wants to build a space transport system that will lower the cost of space access for all parties below the figure of $1000 per lb to orbit.

Is there room in your philosophy for private enterprise in space? Can a group such as yours assist a venture such as ours?

For what it's worth, note our Policy of International Public Inclusion at . I don't claim this is unique to LPG but we are serious about the ideas and intent behind PIP;

"an invitation to every human being to participate in the development of the Space Elevator in some manner. The Space Elevator is a tremendous project that will have an impact on the entire planet, not just the United States. While the project will be led by our US company, LiftPort Group feels humanity as a whole has a right to be involved in such a project."

Let me know what you think.

Brian Dunbar

Naive, sure. But I remain an optimist. Bruce responded so;
Generally I think our membership would first support building a real mass transit system here on planet Earth before we go rushing off into space. It is our belief that until we get our shit together here on this planet we ought to slow down the rush to move our bad seed of war, greed, and environmental degredation into the heavens.....

Bruce


To me this has one of two implications.
1) Bruce has a foolishly optimistic point of view regarding human nature.
2) He knows full well that the lion will never lie down with the lamb, and his group's goal (perhaps intended, perhaps not) is to keep humanity tied to our home world.

Whatever. Progress has a way of running roughshod over those who stand in the way. Being a speed-bump can be a noble way of life but it's not one I prefer.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Touring in Michigan - partially saved from the Memory Hole

Bruce Gagnon posted the following in Organizing Notes, titled 'TOURING IN MICHIGAN'. It generated perhaps the best back and forth that I've seen. Now it's gone. Heck, I can empathize - Blogger makes it far to easy to send things to the Memory Hole by accident.

The comment thread is gone - but the post can live on. No, don't thank me, it's a community service.
I got a call at 3am early this morning telling me my flight from Portland to Detroit was cancelled by NW airlines and that I'd have to take a later flight. Once I finally made it to Detroit I took a small prop plane to northern Michigan, Traverse City, where I spoke tonight beginning a week-long tour in this region. First thing people told me is that the upper 90's weather here is totally unusual. Everywhere I go these days, including in Maine, the weather is really screwed up. It has to be a result of global warming causing the Mother Earth to go into convulsions.

Got a great response tonight and was able to begin and end my talk by reading from my new book - Come Together Right Now. I have one copy, provided by the printer, that was sent to me so I could give it one last look before the final printing. Should have the first print run in next two weeks. Orders already coming in quite well and we are anxious to get them out to folks. Thanks to all who have ordered.

I'll be doing two talks a day up in this region, along the great lakes. Folks say this is a very conservative area and one reporter from a local rural paper, serving a town I speak at later in the week, came to hear me so he could write an advance about the talk. He says he is catching some hell from folks as he tries to introduce people to some of the issues of the day. He also quietly hears from people who also appreciate his writings. I told him folks are job scared and laying low, waiting for someone to stick their neck out. Unfortunately we don't have a healthy democracy in America today where the citizenry feel they are free to speak their minds. So every time one of us does, it helps liberate people from their fear.

--
Posted by Bruce Gagnon to Organizing Notes at 7/11/2005 10:30:00 PM

Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Coming American

The previous post was, perhaps, gloomy. Nothing lightens the mood like heroic poetry. I present part of a poem by Sam Walter Foss called "The Coming American":

Bring me men to match my mountains;
   Bring me men to match my plains, --
Men with empires in their purpose,
   And new eras in their brains.
Bring me men to match my praries,
   Men to match my inland seas,
Men whose thought shall pave a highway
   Up to ampler destinies;
Pioneers to clear Thought's marshlands,
   And to cleanse old Error's fen;
Bring me men to match my mountains ---
   Bring me men!

Bring me men to match my forests,
   Strong to fight the storm and blast,
Branching toward the skyey future,
   Rooted in the fertile past.
Bring me men to match my valleys,
   Tolerant of sun and snow,
Men within whose fruitful purpose
   Time's consummate blooms shall grow.
Men to tame the tigerish instincts
   Of the lair and cave and den,
Cleans the dragon slime of Nature --
   Bring me men!


Bring me men to match my rivers,
   Continent cleavers, flowing free,
Drawn by the eternal madness
   To be mingled with the sea;
Men of oceanic impulse,
   Men whose moral currents sweep
Toward the wide-enfolding ocean
   Of an undiscovered deep;
Men who feel the strong pulsation
   Of the Central Sea, and then
Time their currents to its earth throb --
   Bring me men!


Hat tip to Michael Mealing

An American Hiroshima

I miss some aspects of living in a huge city (most recently DFW) but the thought of what could happen makes me miss it not quite so much.
Subject: An American Hiroshima
Jerry:
From searchs initiated after hearing the intro to "The Savage Nation" today (michaelsavage.com no references to article yet on web site but considerable other information regarding Islamic terrorism).

Mr. Savage noted that he does not have any independent information regarding this scenario and cannot judge the veracity, but there are a number of web sites which come up when searching on the phrase "American Hiroshima."

Thiis appears to be the original cite on www.worldnetdaily.com (consider the source)
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45203

WASHINGTON – As London recovers from the latest deadly al-Qaida attack that killed at least 50, top U.S. government officials are contemplating what they consider to be an inevitable and much bigger assault on America – one likely to kill millions, destroy the economy and fundamentally alter the course of history, reports Joseph Farah's G2 Bulletin.

According to captured al-Qaida leaders and documents, the plan is called the "American Hiroshima" and involves the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons already smuggled into the U.S. over the Mexican border with the help of the MS-13 street gang and other organized crime groups.

Al-Qaida has obtained at least 40 nuclear weapons from the former Soviet Union – including suitcase nukes, nuclear mines, artillery shells and even some missile warheads.

But the most disturbing news is that high level U.S. officials now believe at least some of those weapons have been smuggled into the U.S. for use in the near future in major cities as part of this "American Hiroshima" plan, according to an upcoming book, "The Al Qaeda Connection: International Terrorism, Organized Crime and the Coming Apocalypse," by Paul L. Williams, a former FBI consultant.

According to Williams, former CIA Director George Tenet informed President Bush one month after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that at least two suitcase nukes had reached al-Qaida operatives in the U.S.

According to Williams' sources, thousands of al-Qaida sleeper agents have now been forward deployed into the U.S. to carry out their individual roles in the coming "American Hiroshima" plan.

Bin Laden's goal, according to the book, is to kill at least 4 million Americans, 2 million of whom must be children. Only then, bin Laden has said, would the crimes committed by America on the Arab and Muslim world be avenged.

This is the most recent article in the stack of follow-up:
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=45246

WASHINGTON – Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., a staunch critic of the federal government's lax immigration and border enforcement policies, said yesterday he would request a briefing from the Justice Department on information it has on plans revealed by WND this week for a nuclear attack on the U.S. by al-Qaida terrorists.

Tancredo said he was greatly alarmed by the report and would seek whatever information he could get from the nation's law enforcement authorities – either in classified or unclassified reports.

Al-Qaida's plans, known as "America's Hiroshima" according to captured terrorists and terrorist documents, calls for the multiple detonation of nuclear weapons, already in the possession of Osama bin Laden's operatives currently inside the U.S.


It is certainly a matter of concern. There's only one way to top the 911 attacks. But of course we are not really in a war with Islamic jehadists. And it has been longer since we declared war on terror than we participated in World War II. Of course we haven't precisely mobilized for this war. And see the Gerecht article about Gitmo.


====================

Subject: An American Hiroshima

I don't know about anyone else, but my first thought was that this is unlikely. Given that the newest of these former Soviet warheads is now about 15 years old, and that none of them has been stored properly, I'd guess the chances that any of them will actually detonate is probably very small. (I've read estimates that even when the Soviets were actively maintaining and remanufacturing their warheads they had an expected fizzle rate of >50%. What must it be now?) Of course, even a fizzle results in a mess of plutonium all over the place, but that can be dealt with.

-- Robert Bruce Thompson


I think the Russian data indicate that the Secondary (fusion) part of their devices had about 50% failure rate. I am not aware of the numbers regarding the primary, nor is my expertise sufficient to form an actual estimate. I know that we assigned a pretty high number to the probability that our weapons would detonate once they reached the target when I did war analysis models. I had no way to evaluate that number, but I sure made it clear that I needed the real numbers, not something to make Sandia look good.

Nor do I know much about the shelf life of fission (as opposed to fusion) weapons. A fission weapon would be enough to ruin your whole day: see Hiroshima as an example.

I also know that the Company used to buy fissionables, no questions asked, at pretty high rates, but I have no idea if (1) that program has continued, or (2) if they have raised their bids now. It used to be you could sell enough fissionables to make a fission weapon for $4 million cash on the barrelhead, no questions asked, no identification required. But that was a while ago.


Thompson is right - a nuclear attack is unlikely. On the flip side - on Septermber 10, 2001 the events of the next day were unlikely as well.

Does college matter?

It might. It might not. My feeling is that if you go and you don't have a clue as to why you are there .. what's the point?
Kathy Sierra at Creating Passionate Users seems to agree with me in this post.
We've all accepted that a college degree == $. (Ignoring Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, of course.) College means higher lifetime earnings, and there's plenty of research to back that up. On the other hand, we've also learned that there's scientific evidence that money doesn't mean happiness (assuming you're over the baseline level of poverty). So if there's almost no correlation between money and happiness, but college means more money... where's real happiness in all that?

Where indeed.
I'm no longer convinced that we should assume a traditional four-year college should be the automatic default for all high school grads, esepcially given the state of these institutions today. And I seriously wish people would stop looking at me with pity and concern, shaking their head when they realize Skyler ("but she always seemed so bright...") isn't going to a "real" college. Wake up and smell the 21st century...


So I'm a trend setter. And in good company with Gates and Jobs. Groovy.

My own feelings are biased here - I was on the track to go when I realized there wasn't anything I wanted out of a four year degree at OSU to rate spending my parents money. The thought of working at Orance Julius any longer than I had to (you want fries with that?) gave me a mental rash. So I 'lit out fer the Territories' and enlisted in the Marines. Twenty years on it seems to have worked out for the best.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

In case of Emergency (ICE)

This seems to be a good idea. From an email to the IP list;
East Anglian Ambulance Service has launched a national 'In case of Emergency (ICE)' campaign.

The idea is that you store the word 'ICE' in your mobile phone address
book, and against it enter the number of the person you would want to be contacted In Case of Emergency.

In an emergency situation ambulance and hospital staff will then be able
to quickly find out who your next of kin are and be able to contact them.
It's so simple that everyone can do it. Please do.

Please also forward this to everybody in your address book, it won't
take too many 'forwards' before everybody will know about this. For more than one contact name ICE1, ICE2, ICE3 etc.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

FINDSTR - things I did not know about Windows 2000

Why didn't someone tell me about FINDSTR?

For the past, oh, few years I've been managing Windows servers. Once in a great while I need to search a file for a specific string of text. I've been using cygwin for this using cat and grep and it just works.

A few minutes ago I was reading the doc for this tool and read this bit of text
This switch has PsLogList print Event Log records one-per-line, with comma delimited fields. This format is convenient for text searches, e.g. psloglist | findstr /i text, and for importing the output into a spreadsheet.

Hunh. FINDSTR. That's a funny place holder for 'find string' ... and the truth dawns. I login to the my server and lo. FINDSTR is a command line tool that's been slinking around on every single Windows server I've used for the past three years.

Lesson (re)learned: you don't know everything, some days you know much less than that.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Windows - TCO

Windows - it has been said - has a lower TCO than everything else. I could link countless articles but life is short and you can Google.

Those articles are lying to you.

The network group at $day_job spent hours yesterday dealing with a nasty bit of Mytob.CZ. Which would not have been any concern of mine except it _looked_ like it was coming from one of my servers. So my afternoon and evening were spent verifying the AV software was running and updating, manually scanning drives and so on.

Turned out the problem was a workstation in another building.

Add in opportunity costs for four IT profssionals NOT doing their assigned work for four hours, the traffic that nasty thing generated, and so forth and Windows was a bargain only for the cost center that purchased the system.

It's all down to global warming

And Bush. And his evil henchman, Rowe, leader of the VRWC.

Arch Druid Gagnon is touring Michigan, spreading the word and has this to report;
Once I finally made it to Detroit I took a small prop plane to northern Michigan, Traverse City, where I spoke tonight beginning a week-long tour in this region. First thing people told me is that the upper 90's weather here is totally unusual. Everywhere I go these days, including in Maine, the weather is really screwed up. It has to be a result of global warming causing the Mother Earth to go into convulsions.
TOURING IN MICHIGAN

Sure it's down to global warming. That or it's just warm. It does that up here.

One wonders what Gagnon would make of, say, New England circa 1777 when the Hudson was frozen over, all winter. Or Greenland when the Vikings settled in before it got cold again. Weather changes, this is life on Mother Earth. She's not having convulsions, she's just turning around a bit and getting comfy on the couch.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Hot nanocomposites get hotter

Wherin Liftport is called a "self-described space elevators company"
Hot nanocomposites get hotter - July 2005
Nanotubes also are considered viable for future construction of a "space elevator," envisioned as a super-strong tether anchored to Earth and attached to an orbiting counterweight that provides the centrifugal force to maintain the tether in tension. LiftPort Group, a self-described space elevators company, has unveiled plans for a carbon nanotube manufacturing plant, set to open in June this year, in Millville, N.J. The new plant, LiftPort Nanotech, will be the company's first commercial nanotube production site and will also serve as its regional headquarters. The facility is the fruition, says the company, of three years of research and development and will make and sell carbon nanotubes to glass, plastic and metal manufacturers, which will, in turn, synthesize them into other stronger, lighter materials for use in LiftPort applications.

Self-described? McDonalds is, then, a self-described fast-food restaurant. Exxon is a self-described energy company. And so on. When do you graduate from 'self described' to whatever it's opposite is?

Garfield Ridge - here's lookin' at you, kid

Dave is trolling for traffic. Who knows, Dave may, in person, be one irritating fella and hard to get along with. But his online persona is witty and engaging: my mental picture is younger P.J. O'Rourke. Two points in his favor. Dave posts witty content and he remembered the Marines official birthday and he seems to be irritated when traitors divulge classified information.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Google maps - now with sex offenders

I'm not too keen on needing to know about my neighbor's past misdeeds. The idea that once you've done your time you've paid your debt seems fitting. Yet, this strikes me as an altogether fitting use of state funds and Google Maps. I want to know if a mug with a past history of this crime is living down the street.

Combine data from the State of Georgia's Sex Offender database and Google Maps and ...

Georgia Sex Offender Maps

Hacking Google Maps is something I want to dive into. I need some motivation first, and I don't have any.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sometimes an event can only be described with a dose of profanity. Tim Worstall offers the default British reaction to today's outrage:
Yes, we’ll take an excuse for a day off, throw a sickie. But you threaten us, try to kill us? Kill and injure some of us?

Fuck you, sunshine.

We’ll not be having that.


No grand demonstrations, few warlike chants, a desire for revenge, of course, but the reaction of the average man and woman in the street? Yes, you’ve tried it now bugger off. We’re not scared, no, you won’t change us. Even if we are scared, you can still bugger off.
Terrorist Bombs in London

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Iowahawk on a rampage

Iowahawk featured guest commentary from Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi.
Americans are famous for their diversity, and nowhere is this diversity more on display than in the various ways we celebrate the Fourth of July. Whether you are a traditional infidel enjoying hot dogs and cold watermelon, a recent immigrant infidel celebrating your new citizenship with a colorful piƱata full of sweet treats, or like me, a not-as-yet-arrived-there-American who celebrates our independence through videotaped beheadings, we Americans have an almost infinite variety of ways of ‘lighting up the Fourth.’

Kos Kids responded with vitriol and threats of violence.

Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi weighed in again.
See, I didn’t spend the last ten years crawling in the sand at jihad training camp, getting my knuckles thwacked by an Imam every time I forgot a Quran verse, and living in smelly Baghdad safehouse just to get compared to a bunch of trucker-hat AltWeekly motards from Austin and Seattle.

Me, like the American Left? I mean, are you fucking joking me?

As. Fucking. If.

Oh sure, the infidel progressives like to talk a good game. They’ll call you “freedom fighters” and “the resistance” and “Iraqi Minutemen.” But soon as you need some volunteers to take out a grade school full of collaborators, they’re like, “sorry dude, I’ve got to run off some International ANSWER fliers at Kinkos.”

It's not fair, and I swear to Allah the next time somebody tries to link the jihad with these infidel dipshits, I am totally going to snap. And the next time one of you chicken martyrs puts on a keffiya and starts babbling about “solidarity with the resistance,” remember this: just because we are planning to kill you last doesn’t make you our buddy.

Foolish Optimism

Got a song in my heart and wings on my soul. Oh wait, that's the cafine buzz. Yet, to my surprise I found myself humming Steve Earle's 'Guitar Town' on my way to work.
Nothin’ ever happened ’round my hometown
And I ain’t the kind to just hang around
But I heard someone callin’ my name one day
And I followed that voice down the lost highway
Everybody told me you can’t get far
On thirty-seven dollars and a jap guitar
Now I’m smokin’ into texas with the hammer down
And a rockin’ little combo from the guitar town


Oddly enough the version I was humming wasn't Skinny Steve's but the Emmy Lou Harris take on it from her 'Live at the Ryman' album.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Anarcho Capitalist Snark

TJIC weighs in. He must be busy working at something ....
I wonder what color anarcho capitalists would use in demonstrations, if they weren’t busy in the cube farms working.

Last Farm In DC Beltway Shuts down

An example of not getting the cause - effect thing. From Technocrat
An end-of-an-era article here. The last working farm inside the Washington DC Beltway has closed down.

"The last known working farm inside the Capital Beltway has been sold to a North Carolina developer planning to build a strip mall.

The 35-acre Prince George's farm has been in Duane Dickerson's family since the 1880s. But the 62-year-old said he is leaving because of a lack of profitability, along with increased population and increased crime inside the Beltway -- a freeway that encircles the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area."...more there

ed:I wonder how many strip malls there are inside the beltway already? Sort of a microscopic view of the macroscopic US economy. Replace wealth production with wealth re-arrangment.

I've probably driven by the place at one point or another when I lived in D.C. Sad yet .. the area is no place for a farm. And don't weep tears for the fellow in question - he's relocating lock stock and llama to another farm in Emmitsburg. Which is, or was, very rural. I have no doubts he got a more than fair market price for the land.

It's the editor's remark I question. Retail stores are wealth creation not re-arrangment. Put up a store, employ people, make money for shareholders. You're not re-arranging wealth, you're creating it. I really hope Zogger is not a college graduate but I suspect he might be. One hopes his major wasn't economics ...

Where ARE you Moonbase Alpha?

It's 2005. Where are the flying cars? For that matter why don't we have colonies on the moon and outposts on Mars? Two contrasting reasons why.

Property Rights
In which the author praises LBJ for starting the space race, then halting it a decade later.
If those of us who want space developed—who don’t want it kept like Antarctica—ever hope to change that situation we must find a way to remove or get around the prohibition on land ownership in space.
LBJ’s Space Race: what we didn’t know then

It Costs Too Much To Get There
In which the author tears about the facts, methodology and conclusions of the above article
Even if there was no Outer Space Treaty, the biggest impediment to developing the Moon would still be the immense cost of getting there. No treaty changes the laws of physics, no matter how much we wish it so.
Big claims, little evidence


Granted Mr. Day tears apart Mr. Wasser's article but I do think that both reasons need to be addressed. We need cheap lift to space, yes. We also need something to do there that goes beyond duplicating McMurdo Base.

Some thoughts on being conservative.

No, not my thoughts. But thoughts they are.

From Jerry Pournelle's Chaos Manor reader Rod Montgomery writes;

Subj: Bush&Co. - ideology or not?

Krauthammer's "Neoconservative Convergence" piece says G.W.Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld are practicing a neoconservative ideology of "democratic realism" while speaking an equally-but-differently-neoconservative ideology of "democratic globalism".

My own reading of the situation is somewhat different from the notoriously-neoconservative Krauthammer's reading. The distinction Krauthammer makes, between what Bush&Co. expansively say and what they much less expansively do, is important; but Krauthammer's *explanation* of that difference is not the only possible explanation.

Like all ideologues, Krauthammer does not consider-and-reject, he merely *ignores*, the possibility that someone, and especially someone who has the conservative attitude, might not have any ideology at all, but rather might have conservative principles instead.

The major rhetorical problem of the Bush administration, as I see it, is that Bush&Co. have been captured, not by the whole current corrupt Zeitgeist of the American ruling elite, but by that part of that Zeitgeist that assumes, as a first principle, that *everyone* must have *some* ideology. Bush&Co., consequently, feel compelled to emit the sounds of that available ideology that is closest, as they see it, to what Bush&Co. really do believe -- while at the same time, *not* in fact *being* ideologues, Bush&Co. do not feel compelled to *act* according to that ideology.

One problem non-ideological conservatives have, not only in communicating with their opponents, but also in communicating with each other, is that non-ideological conservatives do not have recourse to an all-encompassing ideology to force a superficial a-priori coherence on their stated positions, much less to force superficial coherence between stated positions and actions. Conservative principles are always in tension with each other, and with the particular nuances of each individual situation to which a conservative responsible for acting must apply them. "Any informed conservative is reluctant to condense profound and intricate intellectual systems to a few pretentious phrases; he prefers to leave that technique to the enthusiasm of radicals" (Russell Kirk, _The Conservative Mind_, page 7). See also Kirk's explication of Edmund Burke's "determination to deal with circumstances, not with abstractions" (_TCM_ page 39).

Justice for all

This has been posted on sci.space.policy. Let Justice and freedom be for all sentient creatures, not just homo sap.

-----------------------------------)
The People of Ziquikcikty )
(also known as Comet Tempel-1); )
A class, seeking )
certification as such; )
Plaintiffs )
)
v. )
)
Michael A'Hearn, )
Rick Grammier, )
Alphonso Diaz, )
Michael Griffin, )
Karl Rove, )
Andrew Card, )
Richard Cheney, )
George W. Bush, )
Does 1-100, )
and Does 101-600,000, )
1 et Prcpui 50 n 1 abrat 05135, )
Government of Bars and Stripes; )
Defendants ) FILED:
-----------------------------------) Minxktaquicky 43, Year Nipathatep
(July 3, 2005)


STATEMENT OF FACTS

1. The matter before the court regards loss of life and limb, injuries, mental anguish, and property damage suffered on the early morning of Minxktaquicky 43, Year Nipathatep (July 3, 2005) at or around Mong 54 (10:52 PM PST).

2. At or around that time, inhabitants of Ziquikcikty (Comet Tempel-1) were awoken by a large explosion. They awoke to find that a large segment of the surface of Ziquikcity had been destroyed by an unknown agent, leaving a large crater in the surface. Ejected debris caused serious damage to approximately half the surface of Ziquikcity, and minor damage to all remaining areas of the comet.

3. A veritable flood of injured sentients reached medical attention after the explosion, and preliminary estimates are that 105,000 sentients were treated for injuries of some sort. Hospitals report over 2800 cessations of sentient function, with another more than 5,200 sentients undergoing major medial care with significant ongoing risk of cessation of sentient function.

4. Rescue parties are still combing through the debris as of this filing, but 1,952 formerly sentient organisms have been recovered as of this filing, and at least 4,700 remain unaccounted for.

5. Initial estimates of property damage (still preliminary at this time) indicate that in excess of 58,000 residences were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, in excess of 7,500 places of business were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable, and at least 125,000 other buldings suffered serious damage including at least a partial lsos of pressure. Purely cosmetic damage estimates have not been received to date, but are expected to be severe.

6. Special scientific teams investigating the source of this damage identified debris from a metallic object in the crater at the point of origin of the damage.

7. Subsequent analysis and recovery included large quantities of Element 29.

8. Smaller fragments recovered included a small, square metal plate bearing inscribed text, and many pieces of a micro-representational disc structure.

9. Upon closer inspection, the small, square metal plate was found to have a manufacturers mark ("1 et Prcpui 50 n 1 abrat 05135") and unit designation ("D33p 1 mpact").

10. Upon closer inspection, the fragments of a micro-representational disc contained squiggly lines which are associated with pre-infoputational civilization identification rituals.

11. Upon information and belief, based upon Galactic Registrar data and other sources, we believe that defendant
"1 et Prcpui 50 n 1 abrat 05135"
(hereinafter referred to as "1 ET") is an organization subservient to the defendant "Government of Bars and Stripes".

12. Upon information and belief, we believe that defendant 1 ET is engaged in interplanetary warfare. Its electronic presences contain information regarding a number of interplanetary weapons systems and military reconnaissance systems which it has employed in past military campaigns against other planetary bodies within the Sol Solar System and nearby interplanetary space.

13. Upon information and belief, we believe that defendants A'Hearn and Grammier were employed by defendant 1 ET as primary assault managers for the D33p system deployment.

14. Upon information and belief, we believe that defendants Diaz and Griffin are direct supervisors within the Government of Bars and Stripes department charged with waging interplanetary warfare.

15. Upon information and belief, we believe that defendants Rove, Card, Cheney, and Bush are senior war-leaders of the Government of Bars and Stripes.

16. Upon information and belief, we believe that defendants Does 1-100 inclusive are members of the strike team which operated the D33p unit which struck Ziquikcikty.

17. Upon information and belief, we believe that defendants Does 101-600,000 are members of the support units which helped assemble and launch the D33p unit which struck Ziquikcikty.


CLAIMS

18. Claim 1:
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants intentionally launched a Weapon of Mass Destruction, D33p unit "1 mpact", towards Ziquikcikty, causing loss of life, limb, sentience, and property, in contravention of the Galactic Environmental Modification Convention, and Defendants own collaborative agreement contravening the use of environment altering space objects and weapons.

19. Claim 2:
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants launched unprovoked military action without proper notifications or warnings of threat or exclusion zone.

20. Claim 3:
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants neglegently utilized a Weapon of Mass Destruction in proximity to civilian habitation areas without a valid military target within the targeted area.

21. Claim 4:
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants have caused great mental anguish to the peoples of Ziquikcikty, including loss of sleep, disruption of marital congress, premature larval stage spawning, and subversion of extrapotentiary quik.

22. Claim 5:
Plaintiffs claim that Defendants failed to register D33p unit "1 mpact" properly as an exported weapons system under their own legal system.

23. Plaintiffs reserve the right to file ammended compaint as further iformation becomes available to us.

DEMANDS

24. Plaintiffs demand that Defendants be enjoined from further unprovoked military action against spatial bodies.

25. Plaintiffs demand that suitable disaster aid be made available to the beings of Ziquikcikty.

26. Plaintiffs demand monetary damages for loss of sentience, mental anguish, injury, property damage, and the plague of premature larval stage spawning, in an amount to be determined.

27. Plaintiffs demand urgent assistance with approximately one million prematurely spawned larvae who are rapidly denuding all plant life in the affected areas.

28. Failing the above, Plaintiffs demand the right to send the approximately one million prematurely spawned larvae to the vicintity of defendant 1 ET under the doctorine of transferred headache.

29. Plaintiffs demand all movie, television, internet, mind-send and telesmell broadcast rights to all images resulting from the deployment of D33p unit "1 mpact", under the doctorine of confiscatus felonuis copyrightus.

30. Plaintiffs demand an Intergalactic War Crimes Tribunal for all Defendants for Great Assault and Grand Felony Littering.


SO MOVED

/s/ #@23842*)*dsfe#@dsf#}#@

Illeb Nivlem, JD
Counsel for the Plaintiffs
Minxktaquicky 43, Year Nipathatep (July 3, 2005)


CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE

I, the undersigned, delivered a true and accurate copy of this document to the defendants by: [check one]
[ ] certified mail
[ ] precision planetary delivery probe
[*] class V mindsend


/s/ {}{{{{{}}}{{}}}
Ima Lifpy

Friday, July 01, 2005

You have no idea

James Lileks. Let this stand for my default mood this weekend.

So there’s that. And it’s all good. I would be highly remiss to call any of the contrusions I’m facing – most of which I cannot describe in any detail, alas; patience – as “problems.” They are, at worst, situations, and at best opportunities. A “problem” is taking fire when you’re in a helicopter heading off to rescue comrades. I was listening to Hewitt’s show today about the SEALs shot down in Afghanistan, and felt abashed for having anything on my mind by a song and a smile. These are the men who make my fat happy life possible, who will jump on a plane and go to Venus on behalf of people whose idea of sacrifice is taking a few minutes to sort the plastic from the glass on recycling night. Puts things in perspective.

Anyway. The doorbell rang tonight, and my wife answered. She traded the check and the coupon for a nice hot pizza.

I never have to worry about who’s at the door, or why they’ve come. My heart never leaps when the doorknocker falls; my stomach never flips when the phone rings.

I am a modern happy American. I have no idea.

There was a knock at the door today.