January 22nd, 2019

#6502: Grievance mongering

Got to start with a quote from this week's Woodpile Report because it sums up the situation nicely:
The tom-tom is irrelevant. Acting like a jerk while beating on a tom-tom means he's a jerk—and he's beating on a tom-tom. This particular "Native American elder" is a self-avowed Marxist activist with a long history of unprovoked confrontations and vile harassment. It's about time he came up against young men who stand their ground and won't be intimidated by his crap. The sound you hear is the worm turning.
The leftists find that kid's expression to be infuriating; it drives them into incandescent rage that his only reaction was to stand there and, in the face of provocation, simply smile.

They really can't stand it. When it's pointed out that the kid literally didn't even move, the response is, "White people don't have to move to intimidate marginalized groups."

So there you have it: white people are so omnipotent they can intimidate minorities without even moving.

Wow.

Life imitates art yet again. The left has decided that the kid is guilty of facecrime, and there is no punishment severe enough to mitigate their rage.

The left shows its true colors when it lets its hate flow. Out comes a toxic flood of death threats whenever someone dares to oppose it. If you think there wouldn't be death camps if the left were ever to seize total power in the US, you are sorely mistaken, and every time something like this happens you are given a warning, a glimpse of their true nature.

* * *

Meanwhile, the shutdown continues. Another quote from Woodpile Report:
For nonessential federal employees the shutdown is a vacation with deferred payment, yet we're expected to weep in solidarity because they're being inconvenienced. Welcome to the real world. We Deplorables work without pay for the equivalent of several months of every year to fund DC's parasitic bloat. And we have to show up every day.

No one in DC cares when they export or destroy whole industries and we lose our jobs and our homes. But when their personal cash flow is temporarily interrupted we're to believe it's a national tragedy.
See, that's the problem with the current narrative being pushed: everyone knows it's false.

At the very beginning of the shutdown I said that the furloughed employees are getting an unscheduled but fully paid vacation. I said that knowing full well that even though there are plenty of furloughed employees who are not supposed to be compensated for involuntary time off on paper, Congress always--ALWAYS--sends through a bill that pays those people in full, sooner or later, for the time they were not working.

Always.

Who loses? The people and companies who are contractors working for the federal government. They are the ones who don't get paid when a shutdown occurs. Federal employees don't get paid right now, but contractors etc don't get paid at all for the time off.

Those are, however, individuals and private businesses, and the Democrats and the media don't care about them.

* * *

Indeed, why bother? The press is upset that there aren't as many White House press briefings under Trump as there were under Obama, or something.

Yes, the same press that spreads lies and slander and makes shit up, which skews every story to be as anti-Trump as possible, that press is unhappy that Trump isn't giving them more opportunities to lie and slander and smear and skew.

President Trump himself said this:
The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the "podium" much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!
He's right. Why bother? If they're not going to cover things fairly anyway, why help them at all?

* * *

I think Kim du Toit's response is appropriate, here. No, I'm not going to pay to view your web site, and I'm not going to whitelist you, either. If you're going to require that I do either in order to view your site, I will simply forego viewing it.

* * *

Under "dog bites man" we have global warming doomsayer still refuse to debate the issue, claiming "the science is settled!", because they lose whenever anyone trots out actual real science and not the global warming hogwash.

* * *

John C. Wright gets it. "It is simple and it is hard." Yep. Yep.

* * *

No. No. When I was a kid, Oreos came in one variety. If you wanted "double stuf" you twisted cookies apart and stacked them yourself, and then had to eat the plain chocolate wafers. You couldn't buy "double stuf" cookies because they didn't exist; Oreo made them one way.

Then they came out with the "Double Stuf" cookies and those were pretty good. I like them. They're tasty. The cookie-to-creme ratio is just right.

This "most stuf" kind is too much. Considering that the creme is basically powdered sugar with some kind of binding agent, it is--as the post title suggests--an express ticket to diabetic land.

* * *

Ah, model rocketry:



It's true, you know; even with something as simple as a model rocket, things go wrong.

When I got back into it in the early 1990s, I kept a notebook, each page dedicated to a single model and the dates of their flights, and details about what happened. Some models had only one entry, and most of those single entries were due to failures of one kind or another.

The Estes "Mosquito", for example, is a rocket that you build with the expectation that the last time you see it will be just after you press the "ignite" button on your launch controller. You will lose it; it's small, weighs grams, and the weakest engine you can get will put it into the stratosphere. For years the kits cost about $2, and I don't think I ever saw one get finished and painted before launch.

But launches go awry in other ways. One of the earilest launches I held featured not one but two engine failures where the engine quite literally shot out the top of the rocket. I have no idea why; in the second case, the rocket had been successfully launched and recovered at least twice before. In both cases the rocket got a few feet off the ground, emitted a pop, and then fell to earth while the engine went skyward. I ended up figuring it was the engines and never bought another pack of that variety. Neither rocket flew again; they were too badly damaged.

But otherwise, during that period I mostly had successful flights. I picked my days for launches, restricting myself to days with only mild breezes, and successfully recovered most of my models.

Some, not so much. The "D-ragonfly", which was essentially a Mosquito built to use 24mm engines; it was a nose cone, a paper tube, and balsa fins in the same configuration as the Mosquito. It got maybe twenty feet off the ground before the fins began to oscillate, because it was already moving pretty f-ing fast, and it was still accelerating. Shortly thereafter it disintegrated. I did recover it--most of it--but it never flew again.

The Mean Machine--I'd modified the Estes design a little bit, which resulted in me getting a bunch of successful flights out of it, but on its last flight it landed in water. I recovered it successfully but neglected to take the engine out after getting it back; the water had soaked into the cardboard engine casing, and after it dried the engine was permanently glued into the mount.

Most failures from that time period were either because of faulty engineering (D-ragonfly), or a failure to recover the vehicle. I had taken an Estes Meteor and used two Mosquito kits to add 13mm "strap-on" boosters to it. It would then fly on three engines. My only attempt at flying that model with three engines resulted in a successful recovery, but one of the Mosquito nose cones disappeared. (As I recall I used a motor adaptor to fly it with three 13mm engines.)

"Most failures," I said. The most spectacular one came from the one time I tried using a composite engine, one of the Aerotech reloadables. I was at a launch of the model rocket club I was part of at the time. Someone let me try it, handing me a 24mm casing he didn't use any longer and a reload kit for it. I put it together as best I could. In retrospect I suppose I should have read the instructions a bit more closely, but everything was tight and looked okay, so I shoved it into my big Phoenix ARM model and put it on the pad.

The rocket got twelve feet into the air, and then the nose cone blew off, followed by the recovery system and this enormous gout of flame. The nose cone landed a few feet from the rocket. As we ran up to it we could see that the formerly round airframe was visibly sagging into an oval shape. The outside of the rocket was sooty, the decals blistered.

The entire internal structure of the rocket forward of the engine mount had been obliterated. There was nothing left of the recovery system but a swivel hook, a few parachute shrouds, and a short length of elastic.

The guy apologized for the loss of the rocket, and I shrugged it off. That's the rocketry game; you spend time building the thing and making it as good as you can, all the while knowing that if you get it back at all, it will never be as pretty as it is before its first flight. You fly them with the expectation that if you get them back at all, they won't be in pristine condition.

* * *

I would be remiss if I didn't tell these tales, from about 1984-1985-ish.

A friend of mine had a rocket he'd hacked together from bits and pieces--the airframe of an AstroCam 110 (the camera having died the death of a plastic object left in a car on a hot summer day) and the nose cone from a dumb-looking model he hadn't built but had gotten as part of some other deal. We launched it on an old engine I'd found in my closet.

At ignition it sat on the pad for a moment, engine hissing; finally it stirred and meandered skyward. It went up about twenty-five feet, flipped over, and hit the ground nose first. After a couple of seconds, the ejection charge went off, blowing the airframe ten feet into the air, backwards. After he patched up the recovery system, that model went on to have several more successful flights.

The other was my friend's Mean Machine. He'd built it according to the directions, so it recovered by blowing the nose cone off and ejecting the parachute. Problem was, on this particular flight, something went wrong; either the nose cone was in too tight, or there was too much recovery wadding, or the ejection charge was weak. But the six-foot length of the Mean Machine was insufficiently pressurized by the ejection charge to eject the recovery system.

To make matters worse, we launched the thing and only then realized there was an airplane coming.

Now, apogee for a Mean Machine with a D12 engine is supposed to be no higher than about 700 feet. That airplane, by FAA regulations, should not have been in range; it should have been higher than that, at least 1,000 feet above ground. But as I will swear to my dying day, that Mean Machine hit apogee not more than ten feet under that Cessna's wheels. It all happened in slow motion: the engine hissed, we saw the airplane, the rocket rose, up, up, no dear God please don't hit the airplane--

Not that it would have done any damage. Crimony, it's a paper tube and some balsa wood. But it's the principle of the thing.

--finally starting to arc over, yeesh lookit how close it is.... Okay, clear of the plane, now it's coming down, falling, straight down. C'mon, eject...eject...EJECT!

It did not eject.

It went straight up, nearly hit an airplane, came straight down; the nose cone struck the dry ground and the whole rocket, all six feet of it, collapsed. My friend had been running to, I don't know, try to catch it, but when the thing just flopped there he tripped and rolled on the ground.

When we all caught up to it, we were laughing, even him. The mangled remains of the rocket lay there, surrounded by a fog of released tracking and ejection smoke. He had to tug on it quite hard to get the nose cone out of the ground.

The culpit, we decided, was the D12-9 SLD ("super long delay") rocket motor we'd used in an effort to let the rocket come closer to Earth before ejecting. Nine seconds was too long, but it still should have ejected--and hadn't. That was the second launch failure we attributed to those engines, so being teenagers we dubbed the "SLD" to mean "super-long dick" and resolved never to use them again.

Good times.

These days, of course, the pilot of the plane would probably have called the FBI and reported us for trying to shoot him down. I don't do model rocketry any longer, mostly because I don't have time for it, but partly because the legal liabilities have gotten out of hand. Even if you do everything right, you still risk having the BATFE coming to your house if you have too many engines on hand. Not worth it.

Besides, I ran out of things to do. Once you graduate from A-B-C-D engines, it gets spendy fast, almost asymptotically so, and there is not much you can do with rockets--legally--other than "launch, eject, recover". You can put sensor packages in them, but--again--that gets expensive fast. I don't mind risking the loss of a $20 rocket; I do mind risking the loss of a $20 rocket plus $80 in instrumentation.

And the rockets themselves have gotten too expensive. The Mean Machine used to cost $20. Now it's $33, and their huge big innovation in the updated model is to make it so that you can take it apart in the middle--a modification I made in 1992, for fuck's sake.

Use a 3D printer and this kit to build twelve model rockets! For five dollars apiece you get body tubes, engine mounts, and parachutes. You need a 3D printer to print the nose cones and fin assemblies! Far from being "a great value" it's needlessly expensive; if you have a 3D printer you can probably make everything yourself and don't need this kit.

Cripes, I built a model rocket out of a Pringles' can and a couple bucks worth of other supplies; the one thing that I had to buy premade was the 24mm engine mount tube--and at that, I think that was a scrap left over from another project.

And yes, it flew--it flew splendidly on a D12 engine. I called it the "Hot Potato".

But that's a story for another time.

#6503: Wow, $25?

Hmmm.

The Jeep has dim headlights. They are usable, but not as bright as they could be. $25 and about an hour's work will fix it.

The question is, what am I going to do?

The Jeep has issues; this I know. It's not just mechanical, either; like all things made of metal it's getting rusty. Repair panels are available, and not too expensive--and I have all the tools needed to remove old metal and weld in new--but is that what I want to do?

Mind you, the overall condition of the thing is fair dinkum. Fix the rust problems, hit the thing with a good dose of rust-stop treatment, and maybe oil the underside (the way Mustie1 on YouTube does) and it'll probably go another hundred thousand miles with normal maintenance and the usual break-fix stuff.

And a damn sight less expensive than a new(er) vehicle would be.

With perhaps two weeks' worth of steady and uninterrupted work, my 2000 Cherokee could be massaged such that it would be good for another five years at least. And I don't mean "it's a jalopy" level of good, but a "Not bad for twenty years old!" level. "A bit rough around the edges," so to speak. Pop out the dents, clean up the rusty spots, put in patch panels, redo the exhaust, replace the headliner, and so forth. Fix the few things that don't work, like the rear washer and wiper. Install the backup camera and put in a permanent mount for the GPS. Maybe even slap a new coat of paint on it.

And although it is winter right now, spring is coming.