January 22nd, 2015

#4545: Rarified territory

2014 was among the coldest years in the last 10,000. 97th percentile cold--3% of the last 10,000 years were as cold as--or colder than--2014 was.

Borepatch links an article which utterly flenses the grave pronouncement that 2014 was the warmest year evah.

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Related: Billionaire with enormous carbon footprint and multiple mansions says you're living too well, American, and need to learn to make do with less.

Said billionaire is practicing what he preaches; he's currently selling his Beverly Hills mansion with an asking price of $195 million:
The massive 25-acre Beverly Hills compound, known as the Palazzo di Amore or Palace of Love, has its own vineyard, a bowling alley, a 50-seat movie theater, a discothèque with a rotating dance floor, a supersize reflecting pool and even a spa.
You see, he himself is adjusting his lifestyle and seeking the "smaller, better existence" that he advises the rest of us to take up.

The arrogance required of someone to make this kind of fatuous statement never fails to amaze me, no matter how many times I see it. Holy crap.

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Borepatch also links to this takedown of mass transit.

It all comes down--as the writer notes--to economic necessity. Public transportation, like light rail, cannot be supported solely by ticket revenue, and must be subsidized. The same is (or will be) true of high-speed rail.

The Acela corridor between NYC and D.C. is probably the only high-speed rail corridor in the US that is potentially economically viable--and note that it's not actually a high-speed rail corridor, in that it gets close to about 100 MPH in spots, but not faster. Also, it's Amtrak, which itself has never, never, ever turned a profit or even had a year where it broke even.

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I am going to risk being labeled a sexist. Since I have already been labeled a bigot by the rabbit-selected, the scalzied manboobs, and other SJW types--and since I DON'T GIVE A RAT'S ASS WHAT THEY THINK OF ME--I am going ahead with further discussion of the political uncorrectness of reality.

I am prompted to this by Fred Reed's discussion of the fact that women in the military are not suited to combat roles.

It is a fact--a hard fact of biology--that women simply do not have the strength and endurance of men. This does not matter as much in a role where the hardest thing a person must do is push buttons and move papers. It does tend to matter, and quite a great deal, in situations where one's survival depends on power, speed, and stamina.

In his column, he lists some sample tasks expected of sailors undertaking damage control, and the failure rates--trained and untrained--of both men and women. In all tasks save one, the men do not fail. In only one task does a majority of women succeed, trained or untrained; in every other task a majority of untrained women fail; and out of these tasks, the best trained result is a failure rate of 38%.

The one case where men fail is "P250 pump, carry down", which means carrying a pump down a gangway or flight of stairs. The failure rate for women, regardless of training, was 99%. This is the only task where men had a nonzero failure rate, and untrained the male failure rate was under 10%. Even with training, women have only one task that carries a failure rate below 10%.

If you have an all-girl crew, do not expect them to perform damage control should your ship be hit with a mine or missile. You might as well learn to swim.

Women are not suited for combat. It does not matter what the PC crowd wants or thinks.
My friend Catherine Aspy graduated from Harvard in 1992 and (no, I'm not on drugs) enlisted in the Army in 1995. Her account was published in Reader's Digest, February, 1999, and is online in the Digest's archives.

She told me the following about her experiences: "I was stunned. The Army was a vast day-care center, full of unmarried teen-age mothers using it as a welfare home. I took training seriously and really tried to keep up with the men. I found I couldn't. It wasn't even close. I had no idea the difference in physical ability was so huge. There were always crowds of women sitting out exercises or on crutches from training injuries.

"They [the Army] were so scared of sexual harassment that women weren't allowed to go anywhere without another woman along. They called them 'Battle Buddies.' It was crazy. I was twenty-six years old but I couldn't go to the bathroom by myself."

Women are going to take on the North Korean infantry, but need protection in the ladies' room. Military policy is endlessly fascinating.
Especially when political correctness is taken seriously.

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Radiation hormesis is real! The "no safe dose" (NSD) hypothesis appears to have been falsified. Basically NSD is the theory that any exposure to radiation is bad for you, that it increases your risks for negative health outcomes (cancer or whatev) and therefore must be avoided.

...but of course we live in a radioactive world, and we ourselves are radioactive. You and me and every other living thing on the planet is chock full of carbon 14. The ground is seething with uranium and thorium and radon. There is quite literally nowhere on the planet you can go that you will not be exposed to radiation. Up in the sky, down in the ground, you increase your dosage over what you get just standing in a grassy field.

Our bodies, therefore, have mechanisms for dealing with the effects of radiation, just the same way our bodies have defense mechanisms against bacteria and fungi and viruses. Because of that, then, there must be a safe dose of radiation, something that will be either neutral or helpful rather than harmful.

We don't know where that threshold is, and finding it is not possible without experimentation--which is right the hell out since potentially harmful human experimentation is ethically and morally wrong. Still, we could collect data from people going about their daily lives, and probably come to some useful conclusions from that.

Also, we can look at things such as the Chernobyl exclusion zone: human access is limited because of the lingering radioactivity, yet the local fauna seems to be getting along famously, and not because they're wearing little radiation suits and dosimeters.

Still, it's good to know that we don't have to be as scared of radiation as we have been.

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Another cloudy day. *sigh*

Last night Mrs. Fungus and I finished The Mysterious Doctor Satan (MDS). Fifteen episodes, and it was a good deal of fun.

Whenever a Republic serial featured a robot, it was the same basic costume: a metal oval cylinder, with arms and legs. It's usually not really an automaton, in that it must be controlled one way or another; it never spoke. In the case of MDS, the robot could not be used until it had Professor Scott's remote control cell installed, and then it usually had to be controlled by someone. There were a few scenes where Dr. Satan would press a button marked "ROBOT", a panel would slide open, and the robot would come out and attack whoever was vexing the villain, but most of the time it had to be remotely controlled.

The robot was bulletproof, of course, and anyone faced it never failed to unload his gun into the thing regardless of prior experience. The robot was only ever felled by immersion in water or being hit with a flask of "hydrocic acid"; otherwise it was largely invulnerable and super-strong.

While watching the show, Mrs. Fungus asked me how old it was, and I was stunned at the answer: it's 75 years old. It was made in 1940--and in one scene we can see a Chrysler dealership advertising "1941 models coming soon!", which means it must've been around late July, or August of 1940. WW2 had started, but America's entry into the war was still a year away. Atomic energy was still a theory. Digital multipurpose computers (the von Neumann model) had not been invented. The main character, Bob Wayne, gives his phone number as "EXeter 377", which would be a five-digit phone number. Yeah.

(Named exchanges were a bit before my time, so how is it that I know how to write phone numbers by exchange? I learned it from my parents. Their exchange wss SKyline 5.)

I had thought that the spare tires on the running boards of Dr. Satan's car were bald because of wartime rationing, but that's not so, because wartime rationing hadn't started yet in 1940, before America was involved. (It didn't really kick into high gear until 1942, unless I'm mistaken.)

...but it's 75 years old. Wow.

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Good! Disney's Star Wars sequels pretty much ignored all of George Lucas' suggestions. Since eps 1-3 demonstrated what a disaster George Lucas is at writing screenplays, I think Disney made the right decision here.

Lord help me, last night as I was laying down to sleep I started thinking about how to rewrite the stories told by eps 1-3 so that they were interesting and made sense. This is a project I cannot possibly sell or ever make money on, so I refuse to put any actual work into it, damn it.

Well, it could be worse. Right?