atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#1741: Starfish saliva

Around 1998 I was into a show on MTV called AMP. It was an hour of ambient dub, dubstep, breakstep, and electronic music videos. There were no announcers or interviews or explanations or anything; just music videos.

Sometimes they included a few weirdies, and one of them was a video from some Japanese artist--name forgotten--with the title "Star fruit surf rider".

...only when the guy sang the chorus, his accent made it sound like starfish saliva. It took most of the song's run time for me to figure out what he was actually singing.

(Starfish don't have salivary glands; they don't need them.)

The show disappeared a few weeks after I discovered it, of course, because apparently MTV could no longer handle running a program which showed videos.

* * *

Literally half-and-half. The dividing line is sharp, not fuzzy, which is what makes this apple so startling.

I really, really hope the thing breeds true; that would be awesome.

* * *

I have been periodically mentioning this for quite some time. It's about time that the mainstream media began paying attention to little facts like this one.

Every time someone has wailed about "the melting polar ice caps" I have said that the Antarctic ice sheet is growing, not shrinking, and it wasn't just a matter of my own opinion--I heard it somewhere.

* * *

China has most of the known and exploited deposits of rare earth metals on the planet. I seem to recall discussing this issue not very long ago.

Friday night I watched the Modern Marvels episode on acid, and learned that a drum of about 55 gallon size full of spent platinum catalyst is worth about $12,000 because of the platinum it contains. It's about 0.7% platinum yet recovering the metal is economically viable. Platinum is a rare earth metal. the way, that article is wrong: iridium and osmium (and platnium) are considered rare earths because they have many of the same properties of the rare earth metals they do include.

In any case, it takes a hell of a lot of this stuff to support a modern industrialized civilization, and if China continues to develop they'll stop selling rare earths on the international market--which will be bad for the rest of us.

Fortunately there is an out: many people are pretty sure that there are scads of rare earth deposits just waiting to be found and exploited...IN SPACE!

* * *

US credit is shrinking at about the rate it shrank in the Great Depression. People are not borrowing money because they have doubts about their future ability to pay it back.

The numbers game that government(s) are attempting to play with GDP figures aren't going to change the fact that people are nervous about the economy.

"It is unclear why the US Federal Reserve has allowed this to occur." Okay, try this explanation on for size: They are powerless to stop it because the fiscal policies of the Democrats have caused the mess we're in.

Item: the "community reinvestment act", begun under Carter and expanded under Clinton, forced banks to start with the "subprime" nonsense, which caused both the housing bubble and the inevitable bursting of that bubble.

Item: both the TARP plan and the "stimulus" package were worse than useless; the "stimulus" made things worse rather than better, and it would have made more sense for government simply to do nothing.

Item: the enormous deficits which the Democrats are foisting on us for the forseeable future--$900 billion per year for the next decade--put the value of the dollar at risk.

Item: The fed is keeping interest rates on the floor--0-0.25%--and the only way they could possibly make money any cheaper would be to pay people to borrow. In the past year the money supply saw its largest-ever expansion, both in adjusted and non-adjusted dollars, and there's too much of it out there; there are too many dollars chasing too few investments.

Item: Tax increases are coming. The Bush tax cuts are set to expire January 1 2010; and it is flatly impossible for the Democrat agenda (socialized medicine, cap-and-tax, etc) to be implemented without serious tax increases. (Especially considering the size of the deficit they're running now just to fund what's already on the books.) They can game it for a year or three, but sooner or later the bill has to be paid and you cannot indefinitely postpone it. These tax increases will end up effecting anyone and everyone who actually pays income taxes--basically anyone making more than around $20,000 per year--and they will hurt.

None of these things can be fixed by the fed's monetary policy.

Meanwhile, if China and Japan don't keep buying our debt, the whole house of cards will come tumbling down.

Democrat policy has always been "tax and spend", and most of the proponents of John Maynard Keynes have a (D) next to their names. But you can't go on borrowing forever. An individual can't, and a government can't either; the only difference is how much?

I'm not saying that the Republicans are innocent, however; we haven't had a true conservative President since Ronald Reagan left office. George W. Bush spent money like a drunken sailor.

The budget surplus we saw under Clinton did not come from Democrats. Remember 1994, when Republicans took control of Congress for the first time in 40 years? Newt Gingrich and "the Contract with America" were what led us there; Congress had a majority and the leadership was composed of fiscal conservatives, and they managed to force policy through which Clinton repudiated at the time, and took credit for later on. (At the 1996 Democrat convention, Clinton promised that the Democrats would "fix" the Republican welfare reform package which had been vastly unpopular with the Democrat rank-and-file.)

Democrats love to lay deficits at the feet of Republicans as if they had nothing to do with them; but in fact every single budget deficit has had Democrat fingerprints all over it with the exception of the ones from the Bush years.

Republicans had a good game in the '90s, but once Bush got into office--with the Dot-com bust and 9/11 causing a recession--suddenly "fiscal conservatism" went out the window, and a lot of us conservatives still wonder WTF happened.

Regardless, the Democrats retook control of Congress after 2002--having a plurality most of the time rather than a true majority--and that's when the deficits really came back. But Republicans helped.

Example: that stupid education bill, written by Teddy Kennedy, championed by Bush...and once it was law, Teddy Kennedy said it didn't do enough even though it was the largest-ever expansion of federal education spending.

In the 1980s, Reagan was able to get the tax code revamped; tax rates dropped, the economy flourished, and federal tax receipts went through the roof. And the Democrat-controlled congress spent $1.50 for every new dollar of tax revenue. How is that Reagan's fault?

For most of his presidency, George W. Bush faced a Democrat congress, and had to compromise to get what he wanted...and he wasn't really a fiscal conservative in the first place, anyway, so he and the Democrats were basically arguing over "how much?" rather than "should we?" That's the dirty little fact the anti-war Democrats don't want you to notice: the war in Iraq had to be paid for, Congress holds the purse strings, and they gave Bush all the money he needed to prosecute the war in Iraq even while they were bad-mouthing him for it. (John Kerry: "I voted for it before I voted against it.")

America is rich; but no country can possibly afford to spend more money than it has in perpetuity. The gravy train's got to end, and the longer we put off implementing real fiscal discipline the worse the crash is going to be.

But it's politically impossible to stop. The wealth transfer payments are called "entitlements"; you can't touch them and expect to remain in office. They represent the single largest bloc of the federal budget; if you totally defunded the military and funneled its entire budget into the welfare and social security programs, that money would be gone in less than three months. Welfare et al represents more than 50% of the federal budget and it's been that way as long as I've paid attention to such matters (at least 20 years). The numbers get bigger every year and we are no closer to eliminating poverty than we were when the whole mess got started in 1964. They've spent more than a million dollars a minute for forty-five years.

The entitlements will stop, though, because sooner or later the government will no longer be able to afford to run the printing presses.

* * *

The people who protest the G20/G8/G-whatev summits are pretty stupid people: they benefit from living in modern, first-world, industrialized nations. Their clothing is manufactured; their food is grown for them. They don't have to worry about where their next meals will come from; similarly their other survival needs are met peacefully and copiously.

...and they advocate some of the stupidest economic policies, denigrating the very economic system which makes their entire lives possible in the first place.

They're dumb as rocks; let's face it. These people have not thought their opinions through, and they don't understand that what they want would be very bad for them. It would not lead to utopia; it would lead to dystopia, and they'd be among the people suffering the most.

That said, however....

The United States has this little thing in its Constitution called the First Amendment, and its basic mission is to ensure that the people have rights to the freedom of religion and freedom of expression. "Freedom of expression" includes the right to peaceful protest and peaceful assembly without government approval.

I don't know the whole story about what's going on at that link, but I do know that shouting down protest is totalitarian.

The people protesting the G20 summit tend to throw rocks and set fires and generally act like complete animals, so it's possible this LRAD system was deployed to stop that. Even so, it's a scary frickin' image, isn't it?

* * *

I really hope the Republicans, as Boortz put it, have the stones to see this through. The gag order laid by HHS on Humana could be seen as unconstitutional (and in fact it may be, probably is). Something has to be done about the federal government's continuing concentration of power in its own hands.

* * *

That episode of Modern Marvels I watched about acid didn't talk about hydrofluoric acid. It talked about hydrochloric, nitric, acetic, and sufuric acids, as these are common industrial products in the United States.

There was a neat scene where a guy was opening a tank car full of nitric acid, and when he finally got the lid off, there was this vapor. I wouldn't want to smell that vapor, let me tell you, because it would probably be fatal to sniff that stuff.

Back when I first got seriously into rocketry I was looking into what it would take to build a liquid-fueled rocket. One of the things that stopped me was the phrase "red fuming nitric acid". (Part of a hypergolic fuel pair, the other half being furfuryl alcohol.) If you're going to build a liquid-fueled rocket you have to be able to handle some seriously nasty stuff; I gave up that idea. Everything is either corrosive and poisonous or cryogenic, and it's all explosive and bad for you and hard to obtain legally. (It is, to borrow a running gag from that period of my college years, "dangerous and expensive".)

"Red fuming nitric acid" sounds scary as hell to me. Certainly that doesn't sound like something an amateur should be mucking around with. (My Dad was a chemist; he had instilled in me a healthy respect for caustic and corrosive compounds from an early age.) Nitric acid is bad enough; if it gives off fumes...forget it.

* * *

"Dangerous and expensive": some friends were at Bristol Renaissance Faire back when it was still "King Richard's Faire". They over heard a kid asking his mother if he could try the axe-throwing game. His mother said, "No! It's dangerous and expensive!" And so it ended up being a running joke among us.

I did, in fact, gin up a compendium of all of our running gags, and it ran to several pages with the explanations included. "Dangerous and expensive" was one of dozens of quips we used at every possibile opportunity.

If I ever run out of other stuff to complain about here, perhaps I could start running one or two gags and their explanations here. That would be fun. At least for me.

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