atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#3614: I don't know where to start today.

The subjects lined up in the tab bar are all over the place. It's a smorgasbord!

Well: I rode the motorcycle yesterday when I went to buy cat food, and after buying cat food I took the long way home.

The motorcycle is, after all, riding smoother than it did before, even in a straight line. I can't really quantify it, but it does feel better overall.

The front forks seem to be performing better. They were always a bit stiff, but since I installed the new dust seals they seem to have limbered up a bit. I still have to tighten the bearings, but I discovered that I might be able to do that without taking off the top plate of the triple-tube assembly. The adjuster ring is accessible from the side, and all I need to do is tap it with a hammer and drift to tighten it the little bit that it needs.

Since getting the new tires, I have been consistently denied the ability to take the S-turn on Dixie Highway at speed. Every time I approach it I end up behind some doofus who insists on taking it at 25 MPH--or slower!--at which speed the bike's suspension is loafing. A complete motorcycle novice could take that S-turn at 25 MPH without any trouble whatsoever.

At 35 MPH you can get an idea of how well the tires and suspension are performing, and it's fun without being dangerous. I could probably take that turn at 40 on the motorcycle, but would not want to try except in a dire emergency; a real pro could take it at 60 (or faster) but he'd need to use most of the roadway and he'd be scraping his knees on the tarmac. I'm not in that much of a hurry.

* * *

Speaking of motorized vehicles, Arse Technica says Obama's 55 MPG mandate is "tough, but doable" (emphasis theirs).

Of course we could do it. The VW Rabbit diesel got 50 MPG in 1980...and it went 0-60 in 15 seconds. It did not have mulitple airbags, nor did it have all kinds of options like power everything and GPS navigation and-and-and. And it was notoriously hard to start in wintertime, like any diesel.

Today they can build something like the Smart ForTwo, which costs $18,000 and gets...38 MPG. Because Americans expect a certain level of performance from their vehicles while also expecting the highest level of government-mandated safety features and the most stringent environmental controls in the world.

Most Americans won't buy a car that goes 0-60 in 17 seconds, even if it gets 80 MPG. That's why the Prius is so popular. (That and the fact that it makes liberals so smug to own one.) The Prius gets excellent real-world fuel economy--about 40 MPG--but can also manage to get out of its own way; it's not a Ferrari but its performance is acceptably brisk for most drivers.

And as a bonus it looks like a car, rather than some weird kind of box on roller skate wheels, like the Smart ForTwo.

Without the expensive hybrid system, though, to get the same performance the Prius would have to have a bigger engine, and it would get 33 MPG with a manual transmission. Yeah.

The article is right when it says we can build cars that get excellent fuel economy. I'm going to harp, again, on the diesel Focus sold by Ford of Europe. It gets 65 MPG, goes 0-60 in 9 seconds, has a reasonable base price...and it can't be sold in the US because it doesn't meet federal environmental emissions standards.

So: the government says we can't make them less safe and we can't make them dirtier. Simple market surveys demonstrate that we can't make them slower or cut back on the options. So all we can do is make them more expensive. Much more expensive.


* * *

Here in the US they'd sell the colored honey as a novelty rather than saying it's somehow not honey. "Look: it's real honey but it's bright blue!"

Bees don't care what color the sweet stuff is.

* * *

Mark Steyn:
If Sesame Street is not commercially viable, then nothing is, and we should just cut to the chase and bail out everything.

Conversely, if this supposed “public” broadcasting brand is capable of standing on its own, then so should it. As for the rest of PBS’s output — the eternal replays of the Peter, Paul & Mary reunion concert, twee Brit sitcoms, Lawrence Welk reruns and therapeutic infomercials — whatever their charms, it is difficult to see why the Brokest Nation in History should be borrowing money from the Chinese Politburo to pay for it. A system by which a Communist party official in Beijing enriches British comedy producers by charging it to American taxpayers with interest is not the most obvious economic model. Yet, as Obama would say, the government did build that.
Amen. Preach it, brother.

* * *

Guess what? It's a real shocker! Affirmative action hurts minorities rather than helps them. Who the hell could have seen that one coming, that giving people a break on entrance requirements and such actually leads to them becoming further disadvantaged?
In recent years, scholars have started to do careful empirical research on whether preferences actually help their intended recipients. When the dispute shifts from "is it fair?" to "does it work?" -- thus changing the focus from ideology to evidence -- open-minded people can make progress toward consensus.
Emphasis added, because who could possibly have predicted that a liberal program only works so long as you don't consider how well it actually performs, and look only at how it makes you feel?

It's almost as if the people doing this study don't care about black people, you know? They must be raciss!

* * *

Union babies in Detroit hand out flyers saying "Enter Detroit at your own risk."

The city of Detroit is broke, but that doesn't stop the police union from complaining about their guys not being paid enough.

Look: if you don't like the working conditions, I'm sure there are other places you can go to get a job as a cop. You don't have to stay in Detroit. You don't have to be a cop, either; there are plenty of jobs a former cop can do and I'd wager there are plenty of job openings in Detroit in those fields considering what a crappy job the Detroit PD does anyway.

Denninger says, "For $420 million one time every single citizen in Detroit can be provided a gun and enough ammunition to hole every single gang-banger a dozen times or more."

What an awesome idea. For a while the morgues would be chock full of thugs and gangbangers who were too stupid to realize that everyone's got a gun and they WILL shoot your ass if you try to pull something...and Detroit would end up being a safer and much more polite city than it is now.

...which is why it will never happen. The Democrat machines can't let it get out that an armed society is a safe and polite one, because that totally blows the blue model right the fuck out of the bathtub. No no nooo no, the only way to ensure your safety is to cede your money and your rights to Democrats, who then will make sure that you have plenty of police officers to keep you long as there isn't something more important that needs to be done with all that lovely money, of course.

* * *

Someone discovered an exploit which allowed them to kill entire cities in WoW. That's pretty f-ing epic. I remember playing Ultima 3 and running around towns, killing everything. Guards were worth 20 XP. Those were the days.

Blizzard has patched the exploit, of course, and banned the player responsible.

* * *

Space news from Arse Technica:

SpaceX launched its first paid ISS resupply mission. One of the engines on the booster cut out mid-flight, but it made it to orbit on the other eight. Yes, "engine out" capability has been a feature of air- and spacecraft for just about forever so I don't know why the commentor who mentioned it is so f-ing surprised.

Like it's something unprecedented: "OMG how could they do that? It's like magic or something!"


(No, he didn't say that, but that's how I read what he did say.)

Other news:

Magical engine we don't have yet might make the trip to Mars faster, someday, maybe, possibly. I admit I wrote that link text before reading the article, so let's see how right I am.
According to Txchnologist, General Electric's online tech magazine, this fusion reactor would be fueled by "a few tons" of deuterium (a heavy isotope of hydrogen) and lithium-6 (a stable molecule of lithium) in a crystalline structure.... When the deuterium and the lithium-6 are forced together under high pressure they undergo a fusion reaction—a process which they're still trying to turn into a net producer of energy. While fusion isn't yet a viable fuel source, recent developments in the field seem to indicate that we can't be far away.
What do I need to say, other than I CALLED IT, BITCHES!!!

I have been hearing "we'll have fusion power soon!" for thirty-five years, and we are no closer to an over-unity fusion reactor than we were in 1977. I'm just sayin'.

...and if you have this magical fusion engine, why would it take three months to get to Mars? Why not a few weeks? You do realize that--at a constant one gravity of acceleration--you can make the trip to Mars in about 18 days? (Assuming an average distance of 225 million km, of course.) And why would a fusion engine--even a pulse fusion engine!--not be capable of constant boost?

And let me point out a couple of other things. First off, "While fusion isn't yet a viable fuel source...." Fusion is not a "fuel source". It might be an energy source (someday, if they ever manage to build an overunity reactor) but a fuel source it ain't. This is not quibbling because this site purports to be all about science and technology, and words mean things. If you don't know the difference between fuel and energy you have no business writing about either.

Second, emphasis added:
The energy from that would be forced out the back of the ship in a so-called "z-pinch" using a "magnetic nozzle," a component which the team are also developing. The engine's potential top speed? Over 100,000 km/h. That's roughly the same speed at which the Earth orbits the Sun.
In space, your top speed is determined by two interrelated factors:

1) how quickly you can accelerate--a function of your engine's specific impulse and the total mass of your ship.

2) how long you can apply that acceleration, which is determined by how much fuel you are carrying (see above, "total mass").

If you have a big engine and a small payload, an engine with a given specific impulse will accelerate it at a higher rate than the same engine with a large payload. But if you can feed fuel to that engine for a long period of time, even if the total instantaneous acceleration is low, you can get that big payload to a hellacious speed.

That's why the ion engine is so useful. Its specific impulse is miniscule and the force it imparts is equivalent to perhaps a few sheets of 8.5x11 paper on the palm of your hand--but over several months it adds up, and the fuel for its entire service lifetime weighs a few ounces.

Compare that to the five engines in the Saturn V first stage, that consume thousands of gallons of kerosene and liquid oxygen in a couple of minutes, but can move 100 tons into low Earth orbit in that time.

So talking about a "top speed in space" is like talking about how high "up" is. It's a meaningless number unless you're talking about the speed of light, because your maximum speed is determined by how fast you can accelerate and for how long, not by any mechanical top-speed characteristic of the engine. It would take a very long time, but an ion engine can (theoretically) accelerate a payload to near lightspeed.

Anyone who really understands physics and engineering wouldn't make a mistake like that. And this is one of many reasons why I can't take Arse Technica seriously as a science site, particularly when they proclaim The Science Is Settled: Man Is Causing Global Warming.

* * *

Natalie Dee has a good one today:

It doesn't matter who you're talking about, either. Both Republican and Democrat are multi-millionaires, to one degree or another.

* * *

IttyBit really tucked into the regular cat food this morning; she ate enough that I didn't feel it necessary to give her any baby food.

Predictably, last night she wouldn't touch the baby food that cost $1 for two pots, oh no--"chicken and rice" it says on the label, but it's orange and I think it's got carrot in it. I can't find the pureed meat baby food in larger containers or at a lower price than around $0.91 per 2 oz jar.

So I put down some of the good stuff, and when I let Luna lick the plate--after IttyBit had had enough last night--Luna wouldn't touch the cheap stuff, either. *sigh* Well, it cost me $1 for the experiment, so it's not all that big a deal, I suppose.

* * *

I'm sleepy. What else is new?

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