atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2115: How can there be this much stuff on a Sunday?

I am guilty of the second one: someone talks to me and I don't stop working, because I can talk to them and hold a conversation without stopping.

"...executives need to recognize the importance of down time. 'If everyone is available 24/7, as some mangers want them to be, performance suffers, as does morale and health'...." Damn straight. Look, some people thrive on that kind of work, but not everybody.

* * *

This news article, translated from Italian, violates the journalistic principle of telling "who, what, where, when, and why".

I don't know what the hell's going on; only that people with super-yachts are sailing them the hell away from Italy to avoid confiscation. I suppose the story is big in Italy, which is why this one is so short on context. Oh well.

* * *

Obama wants a $50 billion payoff for teachers' unions. It's $50 billion the United States federal government simply does not have.

I suppose at this point a few percent extra here or there won't make much difference. But if this is so, why did we have to cut NASA's budget? $50 billion is about 2.5 years of operations at historic levels for NASA. We wouldn't have had to cut Constellation or Ares. And the people being put out of work by NASA's budget cuts are in just as much trouble as the teachers are.

Simple answer: NASA ain't got powerful unions like the teachers do. And they don't have the money that teachers' unions have.

* * *

Vermont wants the $250 some seniors are getting from Medicare because Vermont claims that there is a state program to cover the "donut hole". Vermont expects to take in some $500,000 for their effort.

A 100% tax on welfare checks. Those Democrats never miss a trick.

* * *

But whatever you do, don't carry a gun, because that makes you a killer. *sigh*

* * *

A discussion on mechs in SF arises in the comments to this post and it led PDB to say "Mechs suck; go back to watching cartoons."

Sorry, mech guys; he's right.

While I believe that light powered armor a la Starship Troopers will eventually become de rigeur for mobile infantry, it's not going to be the do-all-be-all of armor or even of ground combat. There will still be light infantry and there will still be tanks, and the guys in the powersuits will fill only a certain limited role on the field of combat. Lacking them will only matter if you face a foe who has them; and then it won't matter as much as you might think.

Think of them as mobile machine gun nests; they might mount mortars or very light cannon, but a single RPG will take one out of action and only a swarm of them will be able to take a tank.

Limitations will include the problem of ground pressure (as PDB states) and something just as critical: the inverse square law means the main skeleton of the thing will have to be incredibly massive and heavy. And besides all that, how the hell do you power one without cooking the man inside? Expect the thing to be about the size of a set of plate armor, perhaps a bit bigger. Heinlein said his suits were "800 lbs" and that will probably be the upper limit on the mass of the things.

Mechs like in Macross or Gundam or even Patlabor? Forget it. Gundam Zero weighs forty tons--yet its footprint is about 150 square feet. That's exerting a static pressure of nearly four PSI; in other words, it would be fine as long as it was just standing there. But the instant you move it? The thing would have to walk very gingerly. Up to a point it's fine as long as you're standing on concrete, but even concrete has its limits. Forget grass and don't even think about mud, because this thing would sink like a stone.

Assume that when you walk, the foot strikes the ground at a certain speed, and the mass of the leg must be decelerated. Say the foot hits the ground at one meter per second and stops within 100 milliseconds; that means an acceleration of a gravity. So in addition to the 4 PSI the machine exerts as a static load you're also adding another 4 PSI; you're up to 8 and you've only taken part of the first step.

Because the next part is for that leading leg to swing back and accelerate the body forward. This puts more pressure on the ground. I'm not sure how much--all my numbers are guesses--but if it makes a jolt of even one more gravity suddenly you're exerting 12 PSI on the ground. Two makes 18, three makes 24, and it's very, very easy for the stresses to build up when you try to do bipedal locomotion.

How high? Consider that artificial legs for humans are made of titanium and plastic and that they wear out. The human skeleton can take some pretty serious punishment, but it does not scale well, and the only reason we can get away with having calcium bones is that the human body is constantly repairing itself.

Okay, and these shows frequently show mechs running. Do you know how much pounding the human skeleton takes when it runs? The G loads get mighty high at the feet. I'm pretty confident that a running 40-ton mech would leave holes even in a concrete slab. (That of course assumes it could take more than a single step without breaking. As designed, they couldn't, unless their legs were solid titanium.)

* * *

Look: some of the cartoons are fun, but "fun" does not equate with "physically possible". Forget it; there ain't gonna be mechs like those.

* * *

Outside air temp: 78°. Yet I'm broiling in here, even with two fans running.

The air is still and humid; the dewpoint is 68° and anytime the dewpoint gets into the upper 60s (or, God forbid, the 70s) it is frickin' sticky.

The big line of thunderstorms which is about 15, 20 miles to the west will hopefully cool things off. *sigh*

* * *

Another trip to the bookstore yesterday, and another $20 spent on getting three books thanks to the Border's Internet coupons they keep e-mailing me. Ichigo 100% volumes 9 and 10, and Turtledove's Opening Atlantis.

The latter is a decent read. Turtledove's all right, though some of his conclusions make me do a facepalm. (After the US loses the civil war, Lincoln throws in with the Communist party? I don't see it. Lincoln was a champion of the little guy, but he wasn't insane.)

The book starts with one Edward Radcliffe being told of, and then founding a colony on, a place he calls "Atlantis". If the cover of the book is to be believed he's talking about a slightly different North America, where the area between the Smokey Mountains and Indiana is sea--a world where the ocean level is higher than in the real world.

Radcliffe first visits Atlantis in 1542, and then goes and colonizes it not much later; subseqently we read about his descendants and their adventures.

No Colombus in this world, either.

...for this story a map of the world would not be pushing it. Clearly this is a much different world than the one we know, in terms of geology and geography, and part of the plot hinges on differing countries which are not well-connected with those we know in the modern world. (Basques? Bretons? Someone with Turtledove's command of history has no trouble with this, but most of his readers don't have that level of familiarity.) It would be useful to have some kind of appendix which relates the historic and the "what if?" with the real world.

Otherwise? Good read.

* * *

Cripes, it's already three.

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