August 13th, 2010

#2220: HOW LONG have I been saying this?

EMP burst could be an unprecedented disaster for the United States.

In the case of a deliberate attack, I've been saying it so long I've forgotten how long I've been saying it. Everyone says, "Oh, Iran couldn't deliver a nuke to the US to do that!"

With the sun only now exiting one of the deepest minima in the past couple of centuries, now suddenly we're worried about an epic coronal mass ejection? This worried?

I suppose we're due for a major geomagnetic storm, though. There was that one in the late 19th century which set telegraph wires on fire and stuff. I don't know if a major CME would be as bad as EMP, but then what I know about geosolarelectrodynamics is eclipsed by what I don't know.

* * *

Meanwhile, Iran will start making plutonium pretty soon and plutonium's easier to separate than U-235 is. Whee!

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WTF is it with liberals and their inability to cope with the existence of Sarah Palin? It's as if she were violating the laws of thermodynamics or something.

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"Apparently facts are now 'partisan.'" Dude, let me clue you in on a little secret: when they refer to Democrats, inconvenient facts are always partisan. The more negative they are, the more partisan they are.

Bill Clinton committing perjury? "Partisan attack! It was just about sex!"

George Bush listening to all the intelligence agencies in the world saying Saddam Hussein had WMDs, when he didn't? "Bush lied! Kids died!"

"...[T]his is a classic case of the mainstream media silencing those who report inconvenient truths about this administration." Indeed.

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Good post from Francis Porretto. It ends by reminding us that we need to laugh at the left.

That's why the left gets so indignant when jokes are made at its expense: it cannot tolerate ridicule; it is not strong enough.

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Hawking is not saying "mankind must abandon Earth." Hawking is echoing a famous sentiment expressed by Heinlein when he says, "The human race shouldn't have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet."

Mankind won't abandon Earth until the Sun undergoes its red giant phase. (And maybe not even then; given five billion years we might figure out how to move planets.) But we need to have colonies on other worlds--viable, self-reliant colonies--if we want to last that long.

* * *

Unemployment is heading up again.


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...looking at Og's blog and reading what he has to say about biltong, I keep thinking about trying that myself. Ever since reading Lucifer's Hammer and the procedure employed therein by character Harvey Randall for making beef jerky and pemmican, I have thought about trying my hand at doing that sort of thing just for the hell of it.

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My sister just got here a bit more than an hour ago, and what's she doing? Vacuuming. WTF. Well, she works in an office, and she got to sleep on the train last night, so perhaps it's therapeutic or something.

* * *

I discovered a few things about the Aluratek Libre eReader Pro last night.

#1: It can only play music from one directory, and it'll be the first directory of music it finds on the SD card. There is no way to navigate to another directory that I could discern. (That explains a lot.)

#2: It does not play music very well. I think the data rate of my MP3s is too high; I almost exclusively use 320kB/sec when I encode them. The Libre may have trouble with that; there are little clicks and pops in the music as it plays. I thought about re-encoding some stuff in 128 kB/sec to see if that helps, but I really don't care about this issue that much. If I want music I'll listen to my MP3 player.

#3: It does not always put up the "Charging" graphic when it is charging.

Oh well.

#2221: Worst people in history?

Oh, in American history, which is why the following didn't make the list:
Karl Marx
Vladimir Lenin
Josef Stalin
Mao Tse-tung
Fidel Castro
Pol Pot
Che Guevara
Adolf Hitler
None of those guys were Americans. Thank God.

Via, and Vox names Abraham Lincoln as one of his worst. Okay, I can see that; Lincoln had his own warts.

The inclusion of Richard Nixon does not surprise me in the slightest; and the comments at Vox Day's page echo my own sentiments: he's the man who saddled us with OSHA and EPA.

* * *

They're ripping out the pavement on Exchange street. Today they managed to strip just about all of it from East St. to Route 1.

They use a machine, operated by 2-3 men, which has a rotating drum that grinds up the pavement--an 8 foot width--and spits it out via a conveyor belt. It's surprisingly quiet, considering what it does, and it takes a continuous stream of dump trucks to remove the tailings.

A truck parks in front of the machine, under the stream of debris from the conveyor. The operator of the machine honks a horn when he wants the truck to move up, and honks it again when the truck's moved far enough. A long toot informs the truck driver that his truck is full. The truck moves out and another takes its place.

The thing must also periodically be supplied with water; I assume this is to keep dust to a minimum.

Anyway the whole operation emits a chemical stink redolent of hot rubber; that's because asphalt is made with tar, which is what's left after you've cracked out all the lighter hydrocarbon fractions from crude oil. (Jerry Pournelle has said that if we ran out of oil tomorrow, organic chemists would start mining asphalt for its petroleum. You can reduce tar into usable petrochemicals, but at the moment it's not economically viable. Which is, of course, a way of saying it's not economically necessary....)

The last time Exchange Street was fixed, they used jackhammers and scoop loaders and I can't recall what else to get rid of the old pavement. (That was 30 years ago.) This way is a hell of a lot more efficient; certainly it requires fewer workers, and the worst physical strain comes from standing in the sun next to (or on) a loud machine for ten or twelve hours.

I didn't see one shovel.

The thing takes a neat slice right out of the pavement, and they have it set to grind down about eight inches or so. I have no idea what's left; the scoured surface felt like concrete but it could easily have been well-packed gravel or even dirt, for all I know. I didn't try poking holes in it; I just stomped on it with my shoe-clad foot, and it felt pretty solid.

I don't know how thorough they plan for this effort to be, whether they plan to replace the entire road (including the sub-roadbed) or just the paving, or what. Nor do I really care all that much.

What I do care about is how inconvenient the entire mess is. In order to do anything in town I now have to make a series of left turns, often into/across traffic which does not stop; that's not normally the case when Exchange St. is open.

The worst part is going to the store: I have to drive around three sides of a square to get there now.

...well, it's temporary, anyway, so it's fine.