atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,
atomic_fungus
atomic_fungus

#6658: One of two things is true

Last night saw the test launch of a privately-owned, reusable, man-rated spacecraft.

I watched a replay of the launch. There is nothing like the look of a big rocket launch at night; and it occurred to me that if you can watch a rocket launch and not feel like you're seeing the pinnacle of human achievement, it's either because you have no soul, or you live in a time when they're happening several times per day and they're no more remarkable than the takeoff of a jet airliner.

I'm certain that--a hundred and ten years ago--people who gathered to watch a rickety box kite with a propellor rise into the air felt the same way I felt watching that rocket launch last night. Not because it's a spectacle (although it is) but because of what it represented.

The Dragon capsule atop that booster had seats in it. It had a life support system. A person could have ridden in it to orbit.

The first stage landed itself on a barge in the Atlantic ocean. This has become routine.

The spacecraft will dock with ISS and then return to Earth. And sometime this year or next, two men will ride the thing into orbit.

When can I buy my ticket?

* * *

Wonder what the anti-GMO crowd will have to say about this one. Genetically-modified yeast cranks out THC and CBD. (Actually it cranks out the chemicals THCA and CBDA just like hemp does, but the application of heat turns them into THC and CBD.)

(In one reality, hemp is genetically modified to produce a little bit of mescaline, to add a side order of hallucinogen to dope. Looks like that one will remain fictional for now.)

* * *

SF people have been saying this for decades. Understand, 250,000 tons of He 3 is a lot of He 3. But He 3 is not the only useful thing we'll find there. The Moon is a big ball of aluminum and other useful things, just waiting to be exploited; mining He 3 is literally just scratching the surface.

The mineral wealth represented by our Moon is staggering and there aren't any spotted owls or snail darters or anything up there. There is no "lunar ecology" to protect.

And further out, we have the asteroid belt. And the Trojan asteroids, out in Jupiter's orbit. Out in space there's nothing to block the sun, so you can build huge solar panels--build them by the square mile--and use the literally unlimited solar energy available in space to smelt ores into useful metals.

And manufacture useful things from them. Shipping to Earth is almost free because it's literally all downhill, but there'll be so many people out and about in orbit around the Earth, on and around the Moon, in the asteroid belts, your customers will be literally everywhere there are resources to be exploited and raw materials to be used in manufacturing. Hydrocarbon mines on Titan, ice mines on Europa--

Given reasonably inexpensive access to space--see the beginning of this post--and the sky is the limit. Literally.

...and a world where all this is happening, where all this economic activity is taking place, where manufacturing moves off Earth because it's cheaper to smelt aluminum in space--all this does is make everyone richer. It raises the standard of living of everyone on and off the planet, because the kind of energy economy we're talking about at that point is so staggeringly huge, it makes our current energy usage look like 1651. We're talking about a second industrial revolution.

In 2019, the poorest American has things the richest man in 1919 could not have at any price. In the first world in the 21st century, obesity is an affliction of the poor. Thanks to the advancement of technology the only reason famines happen now comes entirely from political causes; there's more than enough food produced to feed everyone on the planet and the richest nations give food to the poorest ones to help their starving peoples.

If you want a world where there is a universal basic income, you need to build the economy to the point it can support doing so. We are not there yet, but from where we are now, we can see that future and work towards it. We will not get it if we insist on having it now; Venezuela is the latest example but it sadly will not be the last.

Capitalism can do it. Socialism cannot.

There are no shortcuts. There is a way for us to get to a world where we don't burn fossil fuels to generate electricity, but we have to pass through necessary stages to get there. The same way the Wright brothers didn't build a 747, we're not able to stop burning coal and go right to carbon-free electricity--not even from where we are now.

* * *

I say that, but in fact our electrical grid could be carbon-free in about ten years if we wanted it to be, with plenty of electricity for all. Nuclear power: standardize two or three reactor designs and churn them out in job lots. Replace all coal and gas plants with nuclear reactors. The price of electricity plummets and we don't emit any excess CO2.

Finding a constitutionally acceptable way to put a lid on the anti-nuke crowd is the hard part of this scenario.

* * *

Oh, and a good quote from that last link:
The quality of media reporting on energy issues is generally pretty low. Again and again, I see articles–in the business as well as the general media–in which the author clearly does not understand the difference between a kilowatt and a kilowatt-hour. This distinction is of the essence when talking about storage technologies. Talking about electricity storage capacity in terms of kilowatts (or megawatts, or gigawatts) is like trying to measure your car’s gas tank capacity in horsepower.
That's about the long and short of it.

* * *

Trump knows how to negotiate. Walking away from the table is what you do when the other side won't dicker. "I'll be back when you're willing to talk" is probably the harshest move you can pull, but sometimes the other guy leaves you no choice.

* * *

AHHH HA HA HA I KNEW IT:
Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris has tried to stir things up by coming out with a plan for reparations. Her scheme is short on details, but it is basically an as yet undefined special tax break for qualified people.
And it was recently revealed that her great-grandmother owned slaves. So again I ask, how much reparations money does she owe herself?

When told that blacks are owed reparations, the question that occurs to me is, "How much?" I would like to know what amount of money will expunge the collective guilt. If I thought for a minute that there could be a one-time payment which would end all the horseshit about slavery and injustice, I might be convinced it would be a good idea.
There is a better response, one that the media and palace guards from Conservative Inc. will fight to make sure never happens. That answer is to agree, in principle, with the concept of reparations for the descendants of slaves. The one condition is that it has to be a good faith effort to arrive at a number that pays the debt in full. Since we're mostly talking about cash payments, whatever that number is and whatever the degree of vengeance required, the final number has to stamp the debt "paid in full."
I mean, let's think about that: each black person now living in the USA gets a check from the government for some nontrivial amount of money. Let's be generous and say it's $10,000. I might agree to it IF, for that $10,000 check to each and every living black person in the US, we got the following:
An end to affirmative action in all forms
No more complaints about slavery
An end to cries of "raciss!" whenever something happens they don't like
No more riots when a black criminal gets killed after attacking police
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton having to get real jobs
...and that's not a comprehensive list, either; that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.

In any case, when people like Kamala Harris start talking about "reparations" they don't mean a one-time payment, and they for damn sure don't mean for the deal to include an end to the racial spoils system. What they're talking about is every black person getting some kind of periodic monetary benefit in perpetuity, solely because they are black.

And that, they can stuff up their collective ass.

* * *

The hypocrisy of the left, item number 43,842,991: CBS in San Francisco protects its camera crews with armed guards even as it supports gun bans.
A news crew was the victim of a recent robbery attempt. This was a video crew from the local CBS affiliate in San Francisco. The crew was protected by an armed guard. This is interesting because CBS condemned ordinary citizens for being armed. The network said it is unwise for you or me to have a gun for self-defense of our family while CBS protected their camera equipment with armed guards. I love the smell of hypocrisy in the morning.
And in other news, water is wet.

* * *

You see, the Japanese have the right idea. First, using cute anime babes on recruiting posters for the Japan Self-Defense Force. Second, telling the SJWs to STFU about it.

* * *

Today was a total bust in the "getting things done" department, but mainly that's because I didn't get up until after 3:30.

The PA at the urgent care got one thing right: I do have an upper respiratory infection, and I knew it, and did nothing because I had other things to worry about. I get a sinus infection just about every year, and this is about the time for it thanks to the dry air. It's one of those low-level things that just pops up and lingers. It's not bad enough to make me feel really bad; it's just enough to keep me from feeling well, and the longer I ignore it the longer I am clearing my throat and feeling kind of "blah" and so on. A round of generic amoxicillin clears it up and I get on with my life.

Today, though, I hit the "arrgh!" part of the course of antibiotics, where the immune system shifts gears from the holding action it was running to actually mopping up the infection--and that change brings with it fatigue.

And thanks to the PA, now every time I get a twinge in my chest, its "Oh my God! I'm having a heart attack!" and I have to spend time calming myself down. Last night I went to bed and my heart was pounding, and after a fruitless twenty minutes trying to reason with my anxiety I got up and took a Xanax. My heart was pounding because of the steroids, of course, running along smoothly in normal sinus rhythm--no pain or other symptoms, just beating harder than normal because the last thing I did before brushing my teeth etc was to take the recommended dose of two steroid tablets at bedtime.

*sigh*

* * *

Dinner tonight was Chinese; and on my way to pick it up I filled up the Jeep.

I think that's the first time I've put gas in it since January.
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