Friday, July 17, 2015

Stross Equiod: A Rambling review.

Okay I'm amused when a writer who has a series that's basically   HP Lovecraft  Applied Mathematics;  Comp Sci division who devotes much of an entire short story to mocking Lovecraft.

(Not just his purple prose and the man's... issues).

But more taking the piss of the man's creative chops and bemoaning his literary influence (this particular series is first person so it's a bit difficult to separate author from character).

Then I realized that it was tongue-in-cheek.   And that the main character was being a wanker.  The real penny drop came when someone had to explain to him r/K selection theory.

Terminology that said character immediately started using like it was old hat.

Said character then started having his own "apocalyptic journal" get infested with purple prose and tacitly admit that Lovecraft's own narrative was actually correct.

So this is my roundabout way of saying that Stross' Equoid was rather amusing.

Though man...   Stross needs to take a holiday somewhere and get some trigger time to add a touch of verisimilitude to his work.  While it's great that his main character has become less of a "I don't like guns" weenie as he's matured (Yeah Bob, if you're a bloody necromancer working for nasty secret intelligence you don't get to whine about having to use a gun).

And that's not even getting into the...  CisBritish goodthinker politics that seems so quaint when put in well....    Applied Mathematics Lovecraftian Horror.

Friday, July 10, 2015

A blast from the Atomic and Jet Age past!

Boeing just patented a... novel engine idea.

Basically use lasers to generate micro fusion reactions.

This generates thrust out the back.  And on the front the high energy neutrons excite a uranium coating a thrust plate.  Said plate then heats up coolant which is run through turbines... which power the lasers.

Erm....

So it's kind of like a lighter version of the Direct Air Cycle design for the old Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion program.

Well. This is probably a less *dirty* design. But my guess it it'll give more radiation release than the Indirect Air cycle design.

Oh...  and the ANP  programs were at least workable.  The whole,  laser fusion thing...  I don't think there's an idea on a way to have the system be able to keep itself powered with the given fuel.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cracked: Pretty funny in a "I support free speech but..." way

There's the hyperbole of the title itself:  "How Casual Racism Ruined 'Free Speech' Forever"

Forever?  Really Clarence?

Because once you get past the silliness of statements like this:

For a clearer parallel, the World War II-themed board game Axis & Allies doesn't put a swastika on the Nazi pieces, because winning the game as Germany shouldn't be upsetting. They're not rewriting history; they're just making a strategy game fun by ensuring nobody has to play as the avatar of human cruelty. 

Uh...  so it's fine to play as the avatar of human cruelty by starting out on the territory they occupy and with the military forces they have and then try to Win World War Two... as the Axis.

But it's only upsetting if your little tanks and army men have swastikas on them?

Sure.  That doesn't sound nutty at all.

And get past when the writer does get a nice straw-man about how Apple isn't the government.  And yes... that's why people were going to other distributors, negotiating with Apple, or mocking them.  You know... instead of bringing a charge on violation of the First Amendment...

One would be amused how a professional comedy writer seems baffled at the idea that people would mock absurdity.

ANNND past when the guy criticizes the drawing of Mohammed as... this

Except terrorism kills eight times as many Muslims as non-Muslims, so Trey Parker and Matt Stone were really just defending their right to say things that were going to piss off, hurt, and kill other people, far away, that they were never going to have to see or deal with or care about. 


Well, unless they went to an art show in Texas... or based their production in Paris....

But really parse the writer's chain of actions.  So... Muslim extremists get inflamed by non-Muslims on the other side of the world doing satire...  said extremists kill moderate Muslims... and this Craked writer blames... South Park.  (Which was something said episode pointed out...)

Now go past when said comedy writer....  who again writes for Craked a very raunchy satire publication...  about how we all need social standards.


You finally, FINALLY get him admiring:


And that's fine! I can't stress this enough: As someone who puts things on the Internet with his real name attached for a living, I love free speech a whole whole bunch. So I will never fight to make it illegal for you to be racist, and say your racist stuff, and have your adorable little racist blog where you racist it up all day. I'd just rather you didn't pretend you cared about free speech while you did it. 


That yes free speech is important, even for people who are distasteful.  And that yes free speech even covers them.

The poor cracked writer simply felt the need to spend most of the article positioning himself and going "I support free speech, but..." which is amusing because he started the article bemoaning how every free speech case is going to degenerate into screaming and thus... he has to walk on eggshells.  I guess lest someone thing the above quotation be interpreted as him supporting racists.

Also from start of the article the writer seems befuddled and so disheartened that free speech arguments are all about fringe and hateful and distasteful things. Does the guy not realize that's how it works?

 There is not much traction to get the state to ban "Puppies are fluffy".  However if they say they want to ban things that most people find hateful or stupid well... that's an easier haul isn't it?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chutzpah or.... can we say the President wants to ban guns now?

So....  a man who wishes he could ban and confiscate guns after a mass shooting laments people buying guns after a mass shooting out of fear they'll be banned and confiscated.

The Guardian has the details on the president's ire:

“When Australia had a mass killing – I think it was in Tasmania – about 25 years ago, it was just so shocking the entire country said ‘well we’re going to completely change our gun laws’, and they did. And it hasn’t happened since.”
In the wake of the 1996 Port Arthur massacre, when Martin Bryant shot and killed 35 people and wounded 23, prime minister John Howard pushed through laws banning automatic, semi-automatic and pump action guns, and enacted a comprehensive gun buy-back scheme, despite strong opposition from parts of the Australian community.
Gun buy-back is a fuzzy euphemism for confiscation.

And the article ends with this:
Obama also lamented the rush of Americans who go and buy firearms after US shootings and the “extremely strong” grip the powerful lobby group the National Rifle Association has on Congress.
Gee Mr. President, maybe people won't go out and rush to buy guns if you weren't up there talking about how great laws that confiscated all semi-automatic rifles and pump action shotguns were.  Especially after a shooting where the murderous mutant used a handgun.

It kinda makes people not trust your good intentions.

Via Sebastian

Who also points out:

A surprise to no one, it turns out that compliance with New York’s SAFE Act is practically non-existent. They can erect their utopian laws, but it doesn’t mean we have to go along with their scheme. Even when registration was tried in Canada, the compliance rate was low.



Friday, June 19, 2015

CNN's Smart Take on SC Church Massacre .... blame gun shows?

Seriously.

At least if you can believe the  "CNN Wire NEW YORK" byline.

Sure it starts out with the gun show loophole lie.  But then it gets stranger....

But gun buyers don’t have to go through a background check when they make a purchase at a gun show. 
Most Americans live somewhere near a gun show. The website www.gunshows-usa.com lists 29 gun shows scheduled for this coming Father’s Day weekend, from Las Vegas and Philadelphia to Hickory, N.C. and Salmon, Idaho 
You won’t find them in cities like New York, Chicago and Washington, D.C., where gun laws are far more restrictive."


Huh,  kinda sounds like the mere existence of gun shows is an affront to them. Or at least doing a social signal of "We don't let that stuff happen here".

Do I even have to point out the falsehood of "But gun buyers don’t have to go through a background check when they make a purchase at a gun show. "?

Since FFL's don't have some magic exemption from Federal gun laws when they enter a gun show...

Or is the operative word "gun buyers don't have to"  since they could go to the gun show and do a private sale?  Or go to a parking lot and do a private sale...

But wait the article goes even further.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, and President Obama tried to eliminate the gun show loophole in 2013, with a bill that would have expanded background checks. But Congress didn’t pass it. 
The President’s effort came after the killing of 26 children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut.

Now the "gun show loophole" ban in that bill was a side effect of the overall ban on private sales.

And this isn't even counting that the the perp in that massacre didn't get those guns at a gun show...

But not the weasel words.  The article technically didn't say that the killer in Sandy Hook got his gun from a gun show or that the background check expansion would have prevented him from getting those guns...




Now note this bit of bizarre spin....

After this week’s gun violence at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, where a white man killed nine African-Americans in a racially motivated attack, Obama hinted that he might try again. 
“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” he said, in a speech. “It is in our power to do something about it.” 
The killer, Dylann Roof, bought his .45-caliber Glock at a gun store in Charleston, where he would have been required to pass a background check. Though he had been arrested earlier this year for trespassing and drug possession, he apparently met the legal criteria.
Roof also displayed racist symbols on Facebook, but the FBI said that kind of information would not come up in a background check, since the database includes information on prohibited persons as defined in the Gun Control Act."


So... Obama will push to "close the gunshow looophole" even though once again... gun shows weren't involved?

And once again instead of outright lying, the article simply uncritically presents the president's line of  "this doesn't happen in".

Also then the last sentence is just strangely constructed both grammatically and logically.

To shift gears. The folks at PA Gunblog are worried about the whole "he passed an NICS check".  Sure there's been a lot of mass shooters that have done exactly that, and the antis have mostly used those massacres to demand for... private sale bans.

Now the Antis may change tactics and push to make the NICS more intrusive  such as expanding what would make a prohibited person.  Or just making the check more of a pain in the ass.

Or... in this case they may demand a gunshow ban.





Thursday, June 18, 2015

The opposite of "It can't happen here"...

is  "It only happens here."

I'll start with a personal anecdote.

A few days ago, an associate of mine ( I wouldn't say he is a friend exactly, but I have mentioned him here before) was telling a story of when he lived in Massachusetts.  Basically how an apartment down the hall from his was robbed by three men with a shotgun.

And how the robbery happened minutes after he left.

The interesting part comes when a Canadian in the group nicely replies:  "Only in America."

What made this interesting were several factors.  Sure robberies, especially when the humble shotgun are not actually unique to the US.   But more interesting this same fellow had been less than a week before grousing about the corruption and violence of organized crime back in his native Quebec.

And as a bonus there's that Massachusetts, in many ways, has gun laws worse than Canada.

But, see,  the facts don't matter.   That comment was pure social signaling.

I mention the preceding because the president's comments today are quite similar.

In reference to the South Caroline massacre he said: “Let’s be clear —this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”  And complained about how he didn't get his gun control.

First off.  Wasn't the Charlie Hebdo massacre less than 6 months ago... and in France?  Ace has a list of more "such as England, Australia, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, France, Norway, France, and even Denmark."

And then there's the little details about how the gun control laws the President was pushing for....   don't seem like they would have done anything.  (And yes that is Cooke writing a sober and accurate gun law article in Weekly Metrocon)

As the facts stand right now the killer used a 45 pistol, that was a gift from his father, and he reloaded frequently.

Edit:  And yes, this data is probably wrong given how soon it is, but it's not like the President is any better  so he's demanding gun control given *this* information.

Update:  Again first day most facts are wrong, but looks like the perp bought his gun from an FFL. Which raises questions of the reporting on a prohibited person (was he actually one?)  but does mean that "private sales" can't be blamed.  Oh who am I kidding.  The antis will blame gun shows  if they can get away with it.

As Cooke explains...  the pistol wouldn't have been counted as an AWB, the size of the magazines was moot,  and the Toomey-Manchin, universal background check bill... exempted immediate family transfers.

(As do the existing UBC laws of California, Colorado, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Washington, New York, Iowa, Nebraska, or Delaware)

Huh.  That kinda sounds like not one of the proposed Post-Sandy-Hook laws would have changed anything.

Interestingly,  the perp actually violated many existing laws.  See, in South Carolina has a gun free zone Church law. (You need express permission from the owner to carry.

Oh  and the was apparently out on bond from a felony drug charge. Which if true means that not only was the perp a prohibited person unable to legally own a firearm, but since the father gave him the gun after that, he too is in violation of Federal law.

Like the earlier anecdote the facts don't matter and the legal status quo doesn't matter.

I found the parallels rather amusing.



Sunday, June 14, 2015

At Least Carter was a USN submariners... or why is there no USS Leo Ryan?

In a bit of recursion I'll quote Tam who later on quotes me:

There's no USS Larry McDonald, but there's a USS Gabby Giffords? Dammit, stop the bus right here. I want off.


I mean, Larry McDonald* was actually murdered by a foreign nation's armed forces. And he was a Democrat, too, so what's the hangup?

The Jack pointed out that if being a shot congresscritter is enough to get a warship named after you, why is there no USS Leo Ryan*? He was a victim of Gun Violence and Religious Extremism! 

And heck if you look at Leo's CV he's also a Democrat and had done a lot of impressive stuff in his life.  And his social views would be a bit more... paletable to the Party than McDonald's