Thursday, April 22, 2010

Volcanic Ash Jet Fighter Gap? Try a Rocket!

Now the news has discovered that not only have commercial aircraft been grounded by the Iceland volcano's ash cloud, but military aircraft are, too. Amazing minds they must have...

There is a solution, if only we had some ready--rocket fighters don't take in air, so they can fly fine, except for a bit of windscreen fogging, perhaps.

Paint over the damn swastikas and get the Rocket Planes on alert!

Millions into defense and where are the rocket planes when you need them? Somebody tell the politicians that this is the 21st century, already!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Iceland Ash Cloud-Bad, Bad Planet!

iceland volcano ash cloud satellite image
Satellite Image of Iceland Volcano Ash Cloud, April 2010

This is what comes of living on a planet with poor eating habits. One minute you're just getting the air clean thanks to your anti-aerosol and pro-electric car regulation, the next minute your ill-fed planet lets loose a real trouser-burning bit of flatulence and there's more pollution in the air than has been released by all of mankind.

If it's not Iceland, it's the Philippines. I blame the diets rich in fermented fish.

Of course, it may be a good thing all those airplanes can't fly, right. After all, they create man-made pollution, unlike the Earth, which produces nice, sanctimoniously acceptable Earth-friendly pollutants that live in harmony with nature and the Great Cycle of Whatever.

Iceland volcano ash cloud image, visible light
Visible light image from space. That diesel soot you see at the bottom is Mother Earth living in harmony with herself.

It's very funny that so called scientists here on Earth decide that we're destroying the atmosphere with aerosol cans and fire extinguishers filled with chlorofluorocarbons (which, as it happened, saved many many human lives each year, particularly in data centers and aircraft). The ionosphere, in fact. A layer of the atmosphere which they've yet to show a way in which things down in the troposphere, where we live, interacts with in such a way as to get the CFCs from down here to up there.

There are two events well known to make the troposphere interact with the upper layers of the atmosphere, as it happens. Especially powerful hurricanes and volcanoes will do the job. They're about all that has the power. Sure, plenty of scientists claim that someday we might find scientific backing for what are presently bold-faced (ahem) assertions, that is that CFCs down here ruin the ionosphere, as do other pollutants that they have decided to popularize, focusing on human sources which are pretty well completely insignificant compared to what the Earth is up to all the time. But the fact is they'd have to be far more subtle than the well known and currently measurable interactions known today.

volcanic eruption cloud
All Ur Air Pollushuns Belong to Uz

The fact is that the folks who push the clean air crap (as opposed to any clean air reality) want you down here fretting over fly-speck counts rather than living your life in a free and comfortable fashion. They know that the stuff close to you--like your aerosol cans and car--look a lot bigger to you than they really are in the greater scheme of thing. They use that against you to convince you that, as an enlightened and thoughtful individual (you are an enlightened and thoughtful individual, aren't you?) you want to make sure that you don't leave things dirtier than you found them, that you don't want to be the flutter of the butterfly's wing that brings the whole Earth's ecosystem crashing down after four billion years of loving care by Nature. So you need to circumscribe yourself.

Hairshirt life has a certain appeal to it. Otherwise even hermits in the desert wouldn't subscribe to it. But it doesn't fix anything when if comes to reality. It's a withdrawal from reality, and a surrender of any control or power over the larger situation. Which is what the present powers that be desire. They want you wasting your time working on how to save a milliwatt while they run your lives for you, keep you busy, and push you another step, or another mile, down the road to slavery.

Don't forget to touch your forelock as your eco-superiors ride past.

Monday, April 12, 2010

X-37B: So Secret it Ain't

It seems somebody's decided that there's something sinister and secret about the X-37B Spacecraft. Yahoo! News has dubbed it a Mystery Space Plane and even Fox News calls it a Mystery Space Plane with a Mystery Mission.

OoooOOOooooh. Creeeepy.

The X-37B Being Prepared for Launch
On Orbit, It Will Creep Out the Easily Duped

Not So Secret, Really.

Actually, this thing's been in the works long enough that its uses are pretty well known. But that doesn't sell soap or get internet clicks. Check it out:

Operationally Responsive Spacelift

Near Term Manned Space Logistics Operations(See the section on reusable logistical vehicles.)

Exactly why it should be such a mystery that the military feel the need for a reusable, quick-to-launch system is a mystery to me. The Shuttle is on its way to retirement and the military's been kicked off its manifest since the Columbia disaster. Current boosters like the Atlas and Delta vehicles are not quick to launch, not reusable. The ability of other nations to knock out satellites is already here, and that means there's a need to be able to field replacements quickly, especially since the military relies so heavily on satellites.

X-37B in Orbit, Stealing Ur Megahurtz

But mysteries sell, it appears. Even when it takes holding back well known information to create a mystery, as the idiots in major media outlets have done here.

If you'd rather have information than mystery, keep reading:

Operationally Responsive Space
Responsive Space
FAST Program

Of course, if you think we ought to hinder our own defense by keeping it difficult to get to space, you can go back to your regularly scheduled conspiracy theories...
Sleek White Exterior, All the Better to Read Your Mind
Tinfoil hats, ON!

Polish President's Air Crash: Watch the Money

The crash of the Polish president's aircraft is a terrible tragedy. The loss of life, and of such people, is a terrible thing for the families involved and for the nation of Poland.

Polish President's Web Site
Warsaw Web Site
(English Version, note: different content)

Polish Government Tu-154 Transport

A wide variety of conspiracy theories are already making the rounds. So far, it appears to be nothing more than poor judgment on the part of the pilot. Attempting to make a landing in fog under such conditions is suicidal, perhaps there was something he thought he knew or that he could find out by doing what he did. If the thought was spoken, the audio tapes on the black boxes will let us know. Otherwise, we may never know.

The conditions of the flight and the landing attempt were unusual enough to be a breeding ground for conspiracy theories. You've wonder about the passenger list for the Polish aircraft when it crashed. Major corporations won't put so many of their eggs in one basket. Why did the Polish government do so? Not risking so many of their top government officials in one aircraft had to occur to them. Why did they go against such practices?

There are the theories of Russia's involvement. Russia has undertaken some extremely aggressive tactics in foreign relations lately. It's hard to see where there was a place for that here. It's bizarre that Russia's news is already pinning blame on the Polish president. President Kaczynski's record is against him here. He did order a pilot to attempt a risky landing sometime last year. There's no publicly available evidence at this time to suggest that that's what happened this time. Given the outcome of last year's outcry against him, it's possible he learned his lesson.

An opinion from a Polish Member of Parliament

It's hard to see how this could have been anything but a tragic accident caused by a pilot's poor judgement. There is one thing to consider, if you're looking for a conspiracy...

It may be worth keeping a tab on the finances of the pilot's family for a while. The pilot's actions, to all appearances, are foolhardy to the point of being suicidal. Perhaps there was more to it. Perhaps there was an offer made on the off chance that an opportunity would present itself. The nature of that offer?

Let's just say that individuals in potentially compromising positions take the saying, "Worth more dead than alive," way too seriously.

Watch the money.

Polish Tu-154 Government transport president airplane

Goodbye President Kaczynski and company. Fare thee well.
Poland, stay strong, stand firm. Your sacrifices will not be forgotten.

The Embassy of the Republic of Poland to the United States:

Poland's Tragedy is Our Tragedy

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Vigor Starts with the Mind

I'm still tired of being sorry, but I'm not tired of mind (though I am fatigued of body). The reason for this is the vigor that comes with intellectual stimulation.

The best form of this is being around someone with a passion for something. Even if it's not something you're specifically interested in, the passion they have is invigorating. Enough to make you think you really are interested, beyond just the interest that comes from listening about it.

In my case the passionate person that gave me a jolt of vigor was a meteorite collector. He gave a talk at an astronomy club I'm with. His interest in owning and holding pieces of outer space in his hands was infectious. Pieces of the early solar system, unchanged for 4 billion years, or pieces of asteroids like Vesta, or the cores of asteroids with iron cores that were destroyed in collisions in the early solar system. Put in terms like that, it is interesting. Like so many things, the interest comes not so much from the thing itself but from what that thing is, once you know something about it.

Ignorance is the deadener of senses, the source of boredom in the face of the truly amazing. Knowing a bit about something is enough to open the doors of the mind to interest and wonder. Knowing more does more.

I'm not about to start collecting space rocks. I've got too many hobbies as it is (among them intermittent spates of Earth-rock collection, especially fossils.) But basking in the passion of someone else in an interesting pursuit is a real pick-me-up for a tired mind.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Tired of Being: Smart, Sorry, Tired

Sometimes things just get old. Repetition makes them that way, especially when there's no end to that repetition in sight.


People tell me I'm smart. I'll recuse myself from making a call on that, since I have the bias of remembering just about every stupid thing I've ever done in stark detail. I feel that nothing I do in the way of thinking is super-human, but it's treated as such by those around me often enough that I've got something of a reputation.

There are things that interest me a lot more than they do others, and I think that's part of the window-dressing that goes into being considered "smart". Lots of things interest me. That's why I enjoy reading encyclopedias (I have two sets within arm's reach of my easy chair) and lots of other things. I like digging into things, and I like making things. This adds some depth and experiences to what I get from reading about things.

Now the Downside

That's the bit I enjoy, if that's what it is to be smart.

The part I don't enjoy is trying to communicate my enthusiasm to others. Those around me sense my interest and enthusiasm. They want to know about what's causing it. Sometimes I can make sense to them.

"See that ship out there in the straits? The one with the clipper bow? That's one of the Iowa class battleships!"

"See how the colors of the strata in the rocks here are inverted from the ones over there? This whole section of ground has been folded over!"

Yeah, those are my clear ones. Now try explaining something to someone that's less obvious, or worse yet, something that's entirely inside your head. Even if you have the words to describe it, they may not have the words to understand it. That leads into the vocabulary minefield, where it becomes necessary to feel your way along through your description, stripping it of any potential interest it may have by slowing down to proceed word by word while anticipating simple synonyms for every term. Which leads to the next problem.

Sorry. I'm Sorry. I'm Sorry You Don't Understand.
I'm Tired of Being Sorry, May I Quit, Please?

Somehow it becomes my fault. Not only that they don't understand the language you speak (though they claim to speak it) but that they don't find something amazing very interesting.

It's my fault they don't know what I'm talking about. It's my fault it doesn't sound interesting when I have to use verbal circumlocution, hand waving, and amateur dramatics to make my point (if I'm lucky.) It's my fault I expressed an emotional reaction that made them think there was something interesting for them to find out about.

Not to bear too strongly on the "I, me, mine", here. My own experiences are just a case in point that you, the reader may well have encountered. Likewise, I'm sure I've had the opportunity to play the role of obtuse audience in the past. I think that some of us just tend to be typecast into one role more than the other.

So, in the interest of inclusiveness, I'll shift to using "you" so that you get to assume the position of the beleaguered bright person dealing with two-legged tree stump.

You're also making trouble when you go to the store and ask for something by name. A name they don't know. No matter how specialized the store, or how well stocked they are, or how well versed the staff, you ask for something that you'd think they're the experts in and you'll get a blank look. If you took the time to make sure you had the terminology right by referring to a supply catalog or visual dictionary before going shopping, more the fool you. If you're lucky, the staff won't act like you made it all up. But the not very helpful reactions will still likely run from annoyed bafflement to irritated willful ignorance.

Tired of Being Tired. About All This.

I'm tired of being sorry. I'm tired of being treated as if I am in a state of being not attainable by the mere mortals around me (I had no idea being slightly well informed on some things while ignorant on plenty of others was so akin to exaltation!) I'm tired of having to explain a word I learned just so that I could communicate with someone in their own language (I thought.) I'm tired of anticipating every human interaction as a lesson given, complete with lecture, demonstrations, and the sullen rebellion of the students against testing. Even worse is when anticipation becomes reality.

Fatigue of Mind, Fatigue of Body

Maybe it's just the mid-afternoon slump that makes me feel this way right now. Or maybe it's that I've had a bit of an imbalance lately in how much I've been able to feed my own mind as opposed to pouring libations of patient explanation onto the unfillable sponges of other people's psyches.

I don't know. I do know I'm really tired, in mind as well as body. Time for a bit of rest...

Or to find a Cure

Friday, April 2, 2010

Phreak Your Final Exam Tests!

Crush the Curve!

Here's the tried and true technique for beating out the Final Exam. It beats the grading mechanisms. It's an end-around, a secret handshake. It's the push of the button that ain't supposed to get pushed.

The Standard Substandard Method

OK, you know the drill. You're given a syllabus with the grading breakdown for your class. So many percent for this, so many for that, yadda yadda.

It'd work fine if you only ever took one class at a time. But every teacher expects you to build your entire life around their class. It doesn't matter if it's a five unit lecture plus three unit lab, or a two unit time-filler in underwater basket weaving. Your time belongs to them.

So they bleed you. Time for lecture, time for quiz, time for studying/revision, papers, midterms. A pint at a time, four to six time vampires attached to you, leaving you bloodless and limp just in time for finals.

So here's how to fight them.

Phreak the Final Exam!

First, you gotta know this technique ain't gonna get you in the honors society. It's gonna get you a passing grade, that all. But if you're in a position where that's in question, that's good enough, right? Especially if you can do it to more than one class where passing is in doubt.

Sometimes You Gotta Lose to Win

First, pick and choose what matters. Chances are, what really matters are the midterm and the final exams. The rest is blood taps. So, here's the deal. You're going to ace the final, possibly the midterm (if it's not already too late), skip the rest and retire with a cool 'C'. On top of that you'll still have a life, a body, and probably more real knowledge than if you'd flogged yourself to death on all the filler work. Heck, you may not even waste your time on classes any more.


Yes, I have actually done this.

Guess what? Your college is not the only place in the world to learn things. In fact, most government-run schools (and some private ones) are among the worst places to learn. They do provide resources...labs, clubs where students of like interests can get together, libraries, they act as focal points for bookstores in the community, and so on. All this good stuff is what they hide lousy, boring curricula behind. The textbooks are chosen by crooked committees more interested in kickbacks than the quality of the material, the professors and instructors do what they can, but they have an administration forcing all sorts of requirements on them to satisfy the demands of people who have nothing to do with what you really want and need out of your education. And let's face it, some of them have either given up or weren't all that hot to begin with.

So, let's go where the knowledge is. You're not stupid, and you're not against learning. You're just against spreading five minutes of information across several hours of dry tedium.

Take your subject. Chances are you already know something about it and what it's for. There may even be an interest in your part. Sometimes the real use of a school subject is deeply buried, but it's there.

Now go where the people who use that subject actually learn it, or share their love of it. It's not school! Find the articles online, find the books writtten by interesting authors (there are interesting authors who write textbooks, but you wouldn't know it when the textbook editors finish with them.) Find a textbook from 50 years ago, when results were still expected and people were still naive enough to think that knowledge can be fun and interesting.

Now learn. Really learn. Have fun doing it. Fill your head with it and play with it. Make things, test ideas, play at being a crackpot with a wild idea about your subject. Build intellectual castles, then move the surf over them.

Know your subject cold, from the best perspective possible--that of someone who knows it for the sheer joy and love of it.

Guess what? This takes less time than classes and homework. Stay cool, and stay with it. Keep looking for the good stuff.

The Final Exam

Then, walk into the final an expert on the subject. You've used it. You've done it. It's yours. Know more than the teacher. Recognise the mistakes in the way the questions are asked, and anticipate what it is they're looking for rather than trying to search your memory for some comment from class you can parrot.

I have done this.

I got a C every time I did it.

I never went to any class but Final Exam for some classes, both Midterm Exam and Final Exam for others.

I never failed.

In most classes I had the highest score in the class on the final (or a tie for highest.)

And I got to have fun reading things I enjoyed reading, playing with ideas on paper, writing simple programs to play around with math, or languages, or history, or whatever as a way of playing with the concepts I was actually learning. I not only knew the bare facts, but why they were that way. If I forgot something, I could remember everything around it and piece it out for myself--while staring at a final exam paper.

Crash and Burn

OK, it's a scary idea. And fear will kill you. It shuts off the brain, keeps you from settling in and learning. And the potential for failure is huge if you can't be trusted to be honest and firm with yourself.

Accept failure. Fear nothing. Just learn because you want to. Perhaps start before you actually enroll in the class--you knew you were headed that way, right. Then you'll have your feet already under you once class starts. You might even enjoy class time, since you'll have something interesting to discuss with the instructor (and maybe even liven things up for your classmates.)

It's not necessary to start ahead of time. I often didn't. When I did, I often ended up showing the teacher my knowledge and interest so strongly at the start of class that they took me aside to make a special deal. In some classes the teachers sounded me out, then said "Here's the deal, I'll just give you an A in the class if you'll..." In one case I was asked to tutor a sports player who was struggling with staying on the team, in another case I was asked to write some articles for the school paper. How's that for a grade exploit?

Live and Learn...and LIVE!

Anything, anything, that makes you stand out from the muddled mindless masses in your class will mark you to your teachers. So long as they don't have some inferiority complex (many do), they'll welcome the difference in you.

And even when they don't, don't let them draw that life out of you.

Beat the system. Learn with enjoyment, control your time and your life. Pick your own way, get recommends from others who actually love the subject (your instructor may be one of those, ask and see!) Spend less time and get more, and get a passing (or better, maybe) grade.

And walk out with not just a diploma, but a mind filled with the joy of understanding.

Guam Tipping Over: Use a Skyhook!

He had the answer to global communications. Perhaps he saw how we can save Guam from tipping over?

There's a Congressman who's deeply concerned that Guam tipping over. He's shows a great degree of concern for the inhabitants of the island, and rightly so, given the nature of the threat to them this would pose.

Something must be done. We must understand the problem, then find a solution.

Stress Test the Islands

Maybe he's onto something that the rest of us are blinded to by our "conventional" thought, however. In the spirit of leaving no stone unturned, I think it's important that we start doing careful tests of the islands managed by the U.S. to make sure they won't tip.

First, we need to clear paths between the two sides of some of our smaller islands--across the narrow way, of course. Then, have the population march from one side to another while satellites measure the amount of movement. Perhaps draw them there with free beer and soda. Once they've sated themselves on one side of the island, open up restrooms on the far side. Put out bowls of chips and popcorn, then they'll be back at the sodas soon.

Careful measurements should allow us to figure out which islands need to have outriggers and pontoons attached to them for the safety of their population. Perhaps this would be a good reason to develop the "skyhook" technology Arthur C. Clarke was talking about. It would:
  • Steady the island, and hold it up if necessary (perhaps raising it above tsunamis!)

  • Provide a convenient navigational reference to islanders travelling in traditional means, without GPS aids.

  • Boost the local economy, allowing the locals to lift satellites to orbit without the use of noisy, expensive, and ecologically unsound rockets.

Sounds like a win-win-win scenario!

The Real Concern

I'm more concerned about the Congressman, myself. From the sounds of things he should be getting medical care, rather than being sent to Congress. He's got real mental problems with a medical cause, and it's unfortunate that he's being used this way by those around him.

What's the excuse for the people who elected him, the people in the party that put him in this position, and those people that call themselves "reporters" in his district?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Larry King's Ratings Beaten in Less than 24 Hours!

Less than 24 hours after the introduction of the War Sporks blog to the world, we've exceeded the audience of CNN's Larry King!

Yes, the man who owned late night radio in the early 80's is now below us in total numbers of viewers, readers, and listeners. In fact, the entire current audience of Larry King is less than we've managed since our appearance on the web yesterday.

We at War Sporks would like to thank you, our readers, our sponsors, the folks at Google (Topeka, that is), and the gnomes beneath the internet ("Plenus." Enough said.)
We are not resting on our laurels, however. Bookmark this page, because we're going even further. We're hoping to overtake all of CNN by the end of the week. Yes, this week. We aren't doing any wimpy slips to "over 7 days." We are now pressing to exceed CNN's total ratings numbers by the end of the calendar week.

Whoops, look like we've already made it. Stay tuned, we're working on our next goal...

Google's April Fools--Topeka, Indeed

OK, seeing Topeka at the top of Google's home page today was pretty funny. I chuckled, enjoyed the way they'd done Topeka in their signature colorful letters, and moved on.

About two hours later, I had a moment to wonder...

I wonder what's at

I gave it a try. Here's what I got:


Good job of covering the bases, guys. That was good for another chuckle. That's more laughs than I get out of Garfield in a week. ;)

April Fools, It's the Census!

The ads for the census are really something else. You're shtoopid enuf to think nobody can figure out what public services are needed without it, right? That's what they're saying. Nobody can count cars on the road, count riders on buses, lay new pavement, if the mighty oracle of the Census does not speak first.

What a crock. It may be true for government that they refuse to provide for public services until they're beaten over the head (like government-collected figures could ever be used for that purpose!), it being so much more interesting to spend all that taxpayer revenue on kickback inducing projects, vote-buying feel-goodism, and photo-ops. The census doesn't get money into any district, though.

What it's supposed to be is a way of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives. End of story. What it has become, however, is a data-mining operation for the social engineers in the government who want to keep you off balance, under control, and fully milked of everything they can take from you to buy somebody else's vote (or maybe yours.)

April Fools, America! Your "selfless" servants are here to rule you from the other end of the leash.

Oh, and let's not forget what a fantastic opportunity this is for scammers to trick you by pretending to with the Census. April Fools! We stole your identity! All ur bankz belong to us.

PS3 Update Stealz Ur Megahurtz

I bought a router some long time ago. It had 802.11n built in, but it wasn't on the box. The driver didn't support it yet, just lower speed 802.11a/b/g. New driver comes out. I can't download it. It gives n support, but the manufacturer can't give it to me.

There's a law, you see, "protecting" me. The feature wasn't on the box. It wasn't advertised (though everyone with a browser knew it was there.) But the law said I had to pay to get the "upgrade", even if it was just software to turn on the hardware already in the box.

Sony Sez: PS3 "Update", You Lose

OK, now the PS3. Hey, it does multiple OSes! Once bought, though, Sony says "NOT!" and yanks it. No matter what I may already be doing that uses it. Turn it off on new boxes that weren't sold with it? Sure, it's bent but if they want to sink themselves and double the price of used PS3s, OK.

But take it away? Using the logic of the paid-for update, where's my refund for lost features?

Can Apple switch off MP3 support on my iPod and tell me tugh luck, it's AAC only now? If they made an iPod with Bluetooth but didn't have it turned on till an update--I'd have to pay. But switching off functions my Congresscritter says, "Hey, ream away! I'm next."


Heck with PS3. Where's my C-64? Jumpman rox.