chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm taking a break from politics. At some point (like, last week in my case) everything that needs to be said has been said, and repetition does nothing but make people cranky. So, no repetition from me.

I will note that those fine people at NASA have found not one but seven Earth-sized planets. I'll call that a win for science.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'll be at a Rotary event all day tomorrow, so I expect no blogging. Herewith, have a few links to tide you over:

A) In Ye Goode Olde Dayes, cities used to be full of shit - literally.

B) Mary Robinette Kowal is taking applications for a writer's workshop and cruise. I did this last year, and it was well worth it.

C) So, there has been a reactionless space engine proposed and currently undergoing very limited testing. Herewith is a theoretical explanation of why the darned thing just might work. Presented without comment.

D) Found via the scientific method of "dinking around on the Internet" a long and interesting article suggesting that Britain during WWI and WWII played the USA like a piano to our detriment and Britain's gain. Again, presented without comment.

E) Ana Marie Cox kinda sympathizes with Ted Cruz. I see her point.


Dec. 22nd, 2015 08:39 am
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
Comes news today that SpaceX just successfully recovered their first stage, making them the second entity to fly a reusable spaceship to orbit. (NASA's Shuttle was the first, of course.) This event is critical, in that if we are ever to have colonies in space, the cost of getting to orbit has to go down. The only way that happens is if we stop throwing away the spaceship after one mission.
chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm not going to Rotary today due to Daye Jobbe events, but I will be off-site. Have some links:

A) An interesting thought as to why US voter turnout is so low.

B) Supposedly, it's here transparent aluminum.

C) Presented without endorsement - the long con of Republican party "activists".

D) Rabbit starvation, or starving to death because of a lack of fat in your diet.

E) in the "picture worth a thousand words department:"

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
The far side of the Moon as the Moon transits Earth. (Link with movie here.)

chris_gerrib: (Me 2)
I'm going to Rotary, so have some links in lieu of content.

A) The other government revolving door - sheriffs departments and state troopers providing new homes for bad cops. Note: although this article is safe, the full site is full of not-safe-for-work "good shit."

B) Regarding the mess in Ferguson, this guy sums up my views perfectly.

C) An interesting article on the American way of dying. Having seen this with a number of aging relatives, the article makes good points.

D) The US Navy has deployed a 30 KW laser as a weapon.

E) An interesting article on the guy who refloated the Costa Concordia.

F) Space geeks really need to drop whatever they are doing and watch this movie.
chris_gerrib: (Rotary)
On the new "miracle space engine"

Late last week broke news that somebody had discovered and tested a space engine that generated thrust without requiring fuel. As this site points out, don't get too excited. The thrust is within the margin of error of the measuring system.

On the Israeli / Palestinian War

Three thoughts:
1) As Jim Wright says, if you insist on an eye for an eye, eventually everybody's blind.
2) Also from the above link, neither side wants peace. They want the other side to just go away, which isn't quite the same.
3) If your neighbor commits a crime, and the police response involves blowing up your house, no matter how heinous your neighbor's crime was, you are not going to be happy with the police.
chris_gerrib: (Me)

On Friday, I got a 4 ayem wakeup call from our security monitoring system. A bunch of alarms were tripped and I was asked if I wanted to meet police at the site. I did, and discovered the alarms were tripped by a power issue. Alas for my sleep, the damage was done and I spent a good part of Friday in a semi-zombielike stage.

Change of Plans

A former shipmate, with whom I have been in intermittent touch via Facebook, is now getting a degree at New College, Oxford. (They call it new because it was new, back in 1379 when it was founded. "New" is after all a relative term.) At any rate, since he's there and available during the first part of my trip to the British Isles, I am changing my travel plans to make a visit to Oxford. I'm skipping Bath, since the only reason I was going to Bath was I didn't want to spend all my time in London.


I note that yesterday was the 45th anniversary of the first moon landing. It would be nice to get back before the 50th, but I suspect that's not going to happen.


Jun. 12th, 2014 09:45 am
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Two surprisingly-serious links from

1) Five things that everybody gets wrong about the apocalypse. My favorite - nuclear power reactors should melt down but don't.

2) Six things that shouldn't explode but did anyway. Powdered milk, anybody? (Actually, any combustible material that can mix with air could create a fuel-air bomb.)

A link of interest to space geeks: the secret to building deflector shields.

Something that was a surprise to my Facebook readers: yes, Virginia, there are bacteria in drinking water.

Link Salad

Jun. 3rd, 2014 09:10 am
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Like the label on the tin says:

A) Obama's pullout from Afghanistan explained. Money quote: It has been 13 years. If, after 2232 dead and at a cost of $10 million an hour, there still is no "democratic Afghanistan" to be found, whose fault is that? What are the magic numbers? Thirty years? Four thousand dead? Fifty thousand civilians? Fifty million an hour? What is the size of the butcher's bill that would force Fred Hiatt to abandon his imperial delusions and admit that, well, hell, we did our damndest?

B) From IO9 - a very interesting map of countries due east or west of the Americas. Of interest to me is how all of Europe is north of Virginia (or Illinois).

C) Also from IO9 - Earth-sized exoplanets appear to be surprisingly common. Good news for SF writers.

D) An interesting story - Air Force pilot helps land civilian airliner. I wonder why we're hearing of this months after the event.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
So, from my pile to yours:

A) Back in the day, computing power was measured in kilo-girls! ;-)

B) An interesting article making the rounds about the 11 Nations Of America and how they affect our politics. Like most classification schemes, this one paints with a very broad brush, but it has some interesting uses.

C) is it an asteroid or a comet? Or, the case of the rock with six tails.

D) For much of history, physicians learned by doing on people. (How scary is that - somebody learning how to operate by cutting on you!) This doctor has a better idea.

E) A case of Obama channeling his inner Lincoln or just enough is enough?

F) An interesting article about a Maritime Academy. One of my COs was a US Maritime Academy grad.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I was reading somewhere that, in certain Japanese temples, one can see Roman glassware. To be clear, Roman glassware that was purchased when it was new by the temple staff. It was a reminder that the Silk Road was a real thing. So, not only was the road real, but at least some people on both ends of the road were aware of the people on the other end.

Think about that. Roman emperors were at least tangentially aware of Japanese emperors, and vice versa. But from a day-to-day perspective, they had no influence on each other.

Where this ties into space (no, I'm not obsessed about space, I can stop thinking about it any time I want to) is in terms of alien civilizations. The best guess we have about intelligent life in the galaxy is that we would expect, on average, civilizations to be separated by about 200 light years. Now, averages are funny, and so you could have a civilization a thousand light years from its nearest neighbor or one light year and still have an average galaxy-wide of 200 light years.

But 200 light years is a God-awfully long way. Travelling at the speed of light, a trip would take 200 years - assuming you can go that fast and don't need to stop for anything. Even travelling at 100 times the speed of light - or 100 times faster than Einstein says you can - that's a two-year trip one way.

This would, I suspect, set up something similar to the old Silk Road. Sufficiently-advanced civilizations would be aware of each other, and would probably have some low level of trade, but very little real influence on each other.

The universe is big, old and empty too.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Yesterday I was supposed to get a new refrigerator. It didn't make it off the truck due to dents. We are trying again today. In the meantime and due to lack of other ideas, have a few links.

A) Many women who express an opinion online get harassed with rape and/or death threats. This woman explains why calling the cops doesn't help.

B) Here's a stuffed toy made in space!

C) I've talked about the new research which shows that much of our digestive health is due to bacteria in our gut. Well, here's a better way to get a good balance of bacteria.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I ended up working all day Saturday and a couple of hours on Sunday, relocating one of our branches to their permanent home after renovations. Thus, I find myself really dragging today, so, have some links on the lighter side.

1) Sent to me via email: a fascinating video tour of the International Space Station. It's about 30 minutes long, so get comfortable. What struck me was the amount of junk, hoses and cables strung randomly in the station.

2) An interesting question: Why do old men love to hang out naked (pun intended) in the locker room? Presented for amusement value.

3) An amusing quiz: 18th century resident of Connecticut or muppet character?

ETA: Just got another sales call. Transcript:
Caller: How are you. Having a good day?
Me: Yes. Who are you and what can I do for you?
Caller: I'm Sara, and Mister O'Kelly said you can help me.
Me: I never heard of a Mister O'Kelly.
Caller: click, followed by dial tone.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
I had an enjoyable dinner Saturday night - it was a gourmet wine and food pairing, part of a fundraiser for Moraine Valley Community College. Other than that, no news worth reporting, so, have some links:

A) Smurched from [ profile] jaylake - rocket powered by nuclear fusion promises 30- and 90-day expeditions to Mars. This is true fusion, but at microscopic levels, yielding small pulses of thrust. In terms of travel time, it's VASIMR-levels, but without the need to lug around a big generator. If they can get it to work, it's a big deal.

B) An interesting article about making police officers wear small video cameras. It was sold to cops as preventing false reports against them, but it also appears to cause cops to use force less often.

C) An interesting post in defense of the slave Leia costume. Money quote: To me, that gold bikini says, If you fuck with me, I will end you. (italics in original)

D) Presented for sheer coolness value: So I bought a firetruck.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Two cool things "borrowed" from [ profile] jaylake:

Cool Thing #1

I give you The Law of the Tongue, a "treaty" between men and killer whales.

Cool Thing #2

Apparently, as late as 500 million years ago, massive floods were still happening on Mars. It sure looks like there'd be lots of water on Mars today, just buried underground.


Jason Kuznicki at The League of Ordinary Gentlemen makes some interesting predictions. I think he's overly-optimistic about some of them (solar and genetic engineering) and right on about others (driverless cars). Two that I want to discuss briefly are the "Great Filter" and a physics paradigm shift.

I've discussed the great filter before, and suffice it to say I don't believe it exists. I do think there are a lot of small filters (we dodged one of them by avoiding a nuclear war with the USSR) but the great filter doesn't exist. The real reason we haven't discovered intelligent life in other planets is simple - space is big and we've only been looking a few decades. I also don't think intelligent life is an inevitable result of evolution nor is it the apex of evolution. There could have been intelligent dinosaurs. In fact, if an intelligent species of dinosaur had existed but been at a Stone-Age level when the rock hit, would we be able to recognize it now?

The physics paradigm shift is more of an observation. Much of modern astrophysics hinges on things like "dark matter" - stuff that we can't detect. As Kuznicki puts it - "the invocation of epicycles is a standard sign that your model is missing something really big." If this is true, then part of why we haven't seen aliens is we're waiting for them to send us a telegraph - a technology they abandoned long ago.
chris_gerrib: (Me)
Since I actually had to use the snow shovel today for the first time in over a year, I thought I'd celebrate the occasion by offering up link salad. (Yeah, I really know how to party!)

A) A reminder that one of the reasons we stopped discriminating against blacks is that they demanded we treat them fairly.

B) Presented without comment: On the one hand, we learn that American women should never be in military combat in other countries. And on the other, we learn that American women, when they are in this country, are in their own homes so vulnerable to violent assault that they require the next closest thing to military-class weapons currently available.

C) How NASA's Opportunity rover survived 10 years.

D) For the Americans who, like me, support a private right to own guns: How not to debate. Best part? Imagine the following conversation: You: My favorite ice cream flavor is chocolate. Them: pulls out knife. Say it’s rocky road, bitch, or I’ll cut you!!

E) The imaginary spending surge, or, No, Virginia, Obama really did cut spending.

F) It can be revealed - the truth about science fiction writers.


Nov. 4th, 2012 01:14 pm
chris_gerrib: (Default)
(Since Monday at work promises to be hectic, have Monday's post today)

Per the receipt for my rental car, I drove 765 miles on last week's vacation. That's almost half of my California trip of last year, but the Houston - San Antonio - Austin triangle is smaller than the Northern California area. Herewith, some random thoughts and a bonus picture.

First the picture. Here's a graphic illustration of the rocket equation: All of this stuff below was launched and only the small brown capsule came back:

rocket equation

Random Thoughts

1) Austin, Texas has to be the worst city ever to drive in! The roads wander aimlessly, are poorly-marked and are jammed with traffic.

2) Thanks to Brett Wolfson's recommendation about seeing the USS Texas (more in a later post) I discovered the National Museum of the Pacific War in lovely Fredericksburg Texas. It was well worth the trip.

3) Thanks to Fredericksburg, I discovered Texas wine and Make-in-Texas bourbon. It was an interesting way to spend an afternoon!
chris_gerrib: (Default)
I'm working, and the links just keep piling up, so:

A) A sentimental link for space geeks The day Robert Goddard dreamed of taking a rocket to Mars.

B) An interesting article on how the Republic of Venice managed to self destruct and interesting parallels with the current United States of America.

C) I've long thought that deep underground mining will be something done only by remotely-controlled machines. This article suggests letting bacteria do the digging.

D) There's a theory floating about that modern man's increase in allergies is due to our being too effective at killing microbes. This article talks about a man who put that theory to the test.


chris_gerrib: (Default)

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