Saturday, January 29, 2011

How did I miss this one?

Because I've been spending a lot of my time doing other things, like promoting this blog.  Guess what?  That's how you miss stories like this.  It is the follow up to the post on Mining Asteroids is Hard.  Colin Doughan's got an interview with someone who may be trying it soon.

Power of Fear

I think that is what the criminal class learns and uses.  Just threaten somebody with pain and suffering and they'll do what you want.  Getting someone to do what you want is power.  Freud said that there were two main reasons why people do what they do: 1) urge to be great and 2) the sex urge.  Someone once said that you can tell all about someone just by discovering what makes them feel important ( or great).  The criminal gets his feeling of importance from the fear he arouses in people and the power that it gives him.

I just heard a story about from someone I know who got a knife pulled on him.  Obviously, the dude pulling the knife was tapping in the power just mentioned.  If confronted with such a scenario, what do you do about it?  Fight or flight?  Maybe a combination of both?  Maybe fighting later, but running right now.  That's a compromise solution.  If you want to teach the bad guy a lesson, you may try going through the legal process. But what if that doesn't work?  Then he will just laugh at you.

That kinda reminds me of the opening scene of the Godfather.  The undertaker, Bonasera, comes to Don Vito Corelone for help.  He wants justice because the legal system wouldn't give him justice.  And the guys who ruined his daughter only laughed at him when they got off with a suspended sentence.  The Godfather knew what to do about the punks who ruined the undertaker's daughter.  The undertaker knew this, but he didn't know how to get the help he needed.  And he couldn't do it himself.  Aren't we all like that?  Aren't we all looking around for justice and having to go to a Godfather to get it? The legal system won't protect you, that's what the Godfather depended on.

Someone reading this may think I am advocating violence to resolve disputes.  Far from it.  But by the same token, you can't leave violence out of consideration.  If the legal system won't defend you, then you will need something or someone to back you up.  If that fails too, then you may be forced to rely solely upon yourself.  When it comes to that, you're going to have to find out what you capable of and be prepared to do it when you have to.

Friday, January 28, 2011

For Hams Only

How to get views on youtube

An observation

In an earlier post, the feasibility of mining asteroids was discussed.  It occurred to me that all discussion seems to point to the assumption that every mission has to originate from Earth and every destination has to be an immediate return mission.  But what if people could stay in space for years at a time?  What if you could mine an asteroid for awhile then jump to the next one when it made sense to do so?

A moon base could serve as a jump off point for mining missions.  Or it could serve as a jump off point to create more jumping off points that could eventually support mining missions on a continual basis.  In order to reach this goal, you have to start somewhere.  The most logical point is a moon base which can sustain a long term presence in space.  The main purpose of the moon base would be to launch missions from the moon, as opposed to launching them from the Earth.  I suspect that I have written this before, but the logic of it is inescapable.  The main hurdle of space commercialization is launch cost.  Those costs can be reduced to manageable proportions if the launches were conducted from the moon.

Update:  moments later

It may that the cost of getting stuff into orbit is too high, yet there was a launch system contemplated briefly by NASA in the early sixties that would have been able to put 550 tons into LEO.  This system, called a Sea Dragon, would entail a launch from the open ocean.  The rocket would be towed from the mainland, then rotated into position where it would be launched.  The Sea Dragon concept was proved, so it wasn't some way out idea.  Launch costs were estimated as 1/4 of the costs of the eventually operational Saturn V rocket that took astronauts to the moon.

The key to me is not the launch costs.  It is the mass of what could be put up there at one time.  You have to consider that 550 tons is an awful lot of stuff on one launch.  Now if you were to put enough stuff up into orbit, you can start doing things.  One example is that you could launch multiple missions on just one launch.  For instance, one estimate for the amount of mass needed for a Mars mission is 170 tons.  Imagine putting up materials for 3 missions from just one launch.  Or one mission to do 3 times as much stuff.   On your mission to Mars, you could set up the capability to do some mining, or prospecting for mining.  Try to imagine the reaction if the astronauts upon return had marketable amounts of imports from the journey.

Another Quantum Leap

Well, not really. This is my latest Xtranormal video I made yesterday. It came after the post in which I was amused by the use of language. This is one of those times when someone says with a straight face something that is actually funny. That what makes it funny. Like a newscast many years ago. A local anchorette intoned with utter seriousness that there was going to be a crackdown on prostitution. Oh, well.

Update: I thought I put a tag of "humor" on this thing. It appears to be getting treated as a serious discussion of quantum physics. I don't know how that will be received, but it strikes me as funny too.

Don't fight the tape

That is one of the cardinal rules of trading.  I think it may be applicable in life as well.  Reality is what it is.  No sense fighting it.  You can't win.

"Fighting the tape" is like Don Quijote fighting the windmill.  An utterly foolish and useless gesture.

Who knows what moves the markets and frankly it may not even be possible to know with any great precision. There are those who do know a few things, and some of those things can be taken advantage of.  But for the average schmuck, this is not possible.  Trying to understand the market may be impossible.  For that, you may need access to heavily guarded information.  Even a master spy agency could be challenged to get this information.


For clarification, in case it may be needed, "the tape" means price action for stocks.  Fighting the tape is synonymous with fighting the stock market.  Hopefully that makes sense.  I may have a tendency not to explain things adequately enough.  My apologies.  

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Walk like a man

Is this serious?

I must be in a giddy mood at the moment.  I started to read this evidently highly technical and scientific article, I started to get amused at the language.  A few examples:

We've already talked about the first black hole made using a metamaterial and seen how it ought to be possible to recreate (simulations of the physics) of the Big Bang and even entire multiverses.

hmm.  The Big Bang and the first black hole.  That's gets you started maybe.  Try this:

Now, because these black holes can exist, quantum mechanics suggests that they do exist, constantly leaping in and out of existence at the Planck scale.

I can't quite visualize black holes leaping around, especially at the Planck scale.  Do they weigh anything?

So any photons caught in that region will be trapped.

Uh, oh!  Let's not get trapped in the black hole.

Above this temperature, however, the liquids happily mix, creating regions with differing permittivity.
Well, it's nice that they mix.  Let's not get segregated.

In other words, at the critical temperature this stuff is analogous to quantum foam.

I don't know if I'll touch that one.

Which means that sometime soon, physicists will have their own version of quantum foam to play with in the lab.

Just exactly what are those physicists up to anyway?

Sputnik moment

That moment was credited with inspiring Kennedy to challenge the nation in going to the Moon.  If we had another "Sputnik moment", the current president could say this:  "I believe this nation should commit itself to the goal, before this decade is out, of taking Thomas Friedman to the Moon, and leaving him there."  Now that would be a goal worth the cost of implementation.

Fences? We don't need no stinking fences.

U.S. ends "virtual fence" project on Mexican border.  A real fence is too ugly and sends the wrong message.  A virtual one isn't so ugly because it can't be seen.  What kind of fence would be acceptable?  I have a hunch that the only one acceptable is the one that costs the most and is the least effective.  This is usual modus operandi of the government.

I thought he left the country after Bush was elected

MSNBC Eyeing Alec Baldwin for Hosting Duties?

The article says he's only 52.  He looks a lot older than that, in my opinion.  As for this,

"He's brilliant on camera and honestly cares about news and fighting for the rights of everyday people," 

it doesn't matter when those he claims to support are getting shafted anyway.   "Caring" alone won't cut it.  It's results that matter.

This is disappointing

I liked Jimmy Page's guitar work for the rock group "Led Zeppelin".  It was quite disappointing to hear of his association with the likes of Fidel Castro's Cuba.  Not only him, but a number of other stars from that time.

Enthusiasm meets reality

Sometimes your enthusiasm can cause you to get ahead of yourself. Speaking for myself, I may need a little skepticism about JP Aerospace. Yet, I don't want to pour a lot of cold water on the idea either. If you look at the way he is going about it, he appears to be answering some of the points that some skeptics bring up.

Rather than to go into all of that, I added a few more links this morning to the lists of interesting reading. One of those was called: "The Challenge of Cheap Orbital Access". By the way, one of the contributors was Dr. David Livingston, who does the "Space Show". That link went up too, and for good measure, I bought a bumper sticker to promote the program and mentioned it on my Facebook site.

Well, anyway, a healthy skepticism is called for. For example, yesterday I listened to a mp3 file that you can download from the website. This is the third or fourth one of these that I've done this. This program was recorded the day or two before election day and it covered some ground which led me to the site mentioned above.

There was some discussion of one of the problems of getting an airship to orbit. One such problem is air drag.

There was an email to the show which was read on the air and stated
that even at 250 statute miles, the ISS experiences friction which slows
it down. Given enough time, the ISS would fall out of orbit. It needs to be
reboosted from time to time and this actually requires expenditures of
money to accomplish this. The idea of using a balloon to get to orbit seen
within this context does seem improbable. But before dissmissing the idea
completely, I would like to see how that problem gets addressed. Because
the airship stops being an airship whenever it can't use the air inside it for
flotation nor aerodynamic lift. Once those two things are no longer possible,
the aircraft becomes a spacecraft. How does it make that transition?

That's the 64k question.

By the way, the ragged format of this post was due to the fact that I took notes on a text file and tried to repost without having to rewrite the whole thing.  The results are as we see, a ragged looking post.  But I am not in the mood to rewrite the whole thing in order to make it look better.  Sorry.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Makin' bacon in the hill country

They got a hog problem down there.  Going to go after them with helicopters.  But the prognosis isn't good.  The hogs are too smart.  Might have to resort to the Big Hunt.

Better than sex, he says

I guess so. It cost 10,000 dollars a ticket. Must have been quite a show.

If politics bugs you, check this out

Biggest bugs on Earth.  Spiders the size of a dinner plate and eats birds.  Butterflies with 1 foot wingspans.

This is what makes me say...

Politics Schmolitics!  You don't destroy hatred with hatred.  You won't destroy evil with evil.  (Okay, maybe I don't really back that up.  If somebody shoots at me, I will shoot back.)  It is a recent, shall we say, epiphany that I have had.  Hating your enemies does more harm to yourself than it does to your enemy.  Better for you to drop it.  You can at least try to reason with your adversaries.  You can at least try to negotiate with them.  If all else fails, then you do what you have to.  But, nothing- repeat- nothing- should cause you to hate anybody.  Defend yourself if you must, but hate them do not.

Stinky feet are deadly

Especially if the stinker can't take a joke.

Not exactly a ball of fire in bed

This lady couldn't tell that her husband was dead when he didn't wake up for four days.  I guess that was the normal thing for him.

Bushmen tribe

In connection with current events, in particular this business about "vitriolic" speech, let's take a look at one of the practices of the Bushmen tribe of Africa.  I mention this tribe because something about one of their practices struck me and has remained with me for over 30 years now since I first read about it in an Anthropology textbook.  It was the Bushmen's attitude toward arrogance and how dangerous it can be to the safety of the group.

Briefly, the story went like this: an anthropologist studying the Bushmen decided to buy an animal which was to be slaughtered for a feast for this small group.  Instead of being grateful and praising the quality of the animal he bought for them, they kept saying how rotten it was.  The man didn't get upset, but he did get curious and finally asked why they kept downgrading his gift even when they had to know it was of the best quality available.  The answer was "arrogance".  To the Bushmen, someone who is arrogant is dangerous.  He can endanger others in the group, and so this problem has to be dealt with aggressively.  So they tear down a person's sense of superiority, as the Bushmen are very egalitarian.  In the words that I remember, the man explaining says it cools his heart and makes him more gentle.  The Bushmen are relentless in cutting you down to size.  They won't put up with swelled heads.

Now let's look at this complaint about "vitriolic" speech.  What's so bad about criticism even if it is unjust.  The Bushmen didn't seem to worry about it so much.  Actually, they seemed to profit from it.  Our politicians can be even more dangerous than a wayward Bushman is to his tribe.  The effects of arrogance can be much more serious in a nation which is among many other nations who possess nuclear weapons.  A little vitriol from time to time can go a long way to cooling some swelled heads in Washington who get a little too sure of themselves.

Therefore any complaint about "vitriolic" speech should be looked upon with suspicion.  If politicians only want to be praised and told how wonderful they are, that should be a red flag.  This is why I don't watch State of the Union speeches.  It seems that it is just one long self serving promotion of a politician and his supporters in Washington.  It wasn't even the custom of the President to address Congress in person.  Thomas Jefferson started the tradition of sending written messages to Congress rather than address the body publicly.  He considered it too imperial in its implications.  This complaint about vitriol in the public discourse is a troubling thing if it was intended to squelch dissent just before an imperial address before Congress.

It should be noted that the practice of the President addressing Congress in person ended with Woodrow Wilson.  This was during the so called Progressive Era in American politics.  It was also the same time that the income tax was adopted and the Federal Reserve was created.  It was the time before two great wars and the beginning of the modern system of big government.  Was this a good thing, this growth of government and the tendency toward an imperial Presidency?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State of the Union speech

I won't be watching it.  It is nothing but political hocus pocus.  That's all it is.  I write about politics.  I am not consumed by it.

Update:  approx 6 pm

I thought I would add that I almost never watch state of the union speeches.  They just seem to be a pep rally for polticians in Washington.  This was true regardless of the party holding power.

This is so good I have to link to it

Francis W. Poretto aka Curmudgeon Emeritus, has a must read for anybody with an honest desire to understand what's going on with our culture today.  Especially, very especially with our media and how they are so influential when they shouldn't be.  People need to wake up to this stuff.

Here's a video he made.  I wonder how many people will watch it all the way through and think over what it means.

Minor Redesign of Blog

I changed a few things.  Got rid of the aquarium, moved some of the links around.  The blog is oriented toward the subject matter:  Markets, Politics, Arts and Sciences.  It is almost in that order.  The first thing you'll see after the heading is a quick read on the most important stuff.  Currencies, debt, political polls and so forth.  It gives a quick read on what's going on.  I put my navigational info on the left sidebar.  Also the list of links are all on the left sidebar.  The main posts are down toward the middle of the page.  I hope these changes make the blog easy to read and access any part of it.  There are almost 400 posts on it now.  It is becoming something of a chore to manage it all.                                                                                                                 Update: approx 10:10 am
Going forward, I think those who support me will get at least some type of recognition.  By that I mean that they may move up the list in my list of links.  Those who don't support me may move down the link list.  I have to do something to get the support going.  If giving some recognition helps, then this is a way to do it.  It may also be a subtle reminder to those who don't support that I am noticing it.

Price action- Gold

As I wrote back in December, I figured gold had hit a peak.  But I also believed that things hadn't changed. With the continuing weakness in gold, it may be time to reevaluate that.  Has anything fundamental changed?

Not only gold, but oil is dropping.  This is a keystone of the inflation hypothesis that I have.  To recap, if there's any real recovery, oil prices will skyrocket.  There appears to be strength in the financial markets, some talk of improving conditions, yet the price of oil isn't moving lately.  What gives?  Has something happened in the energy field?  Maybe so.  There have been plenty of different new technologies being developed in the last few years, and one or more of them may have hit the jackpot.  If that is the case, then the pressure on oil prices may be released which could aid a real recovery.

I have noticed a few items that may serve as speculative fodder on what those developments might have been. But I won't speculate on that here.

Another possibility is that there really isn't any recovery and this is all a mirage.  If that is true, then we could get a really nasty correction in the financial markets.  This may appear to be gold unfriendly as well, as it may be deflationary.  Time to consult my guru, Chris Laird.  He is neutral on gold, bearish on oil, and not excited about the Dow.  He is also warning about deflationary pressures.

Update:  a few moments later

I want to encourage anyone who doesn't find any links on this page that can help explain what or who I am referring to- to use the google search page function on the left sidebar.  For instance, if you aren't familiar with Chris Laird, just type that in the search box.  If you can't find a term, go to the index page and look for references there.  Also, I refer you to the "about the blog" label on the left sidebar for any other questions about the blog that you may have.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ad purchased for flight scheduled for March

As you may have noticed, I have been writing several posts about JP Aerospace.  Recently, I took it a step further and purchased ad space on one of their upcoming missions scheduled for late March.  Why, you may ask.

To be blunt about it, I need a break.  This blog isn't pulling in enough audience and I needed to do something. I have done ads before, but this one cost more.  I have greater hopes for it, but there's no guarantee of anything. Aside from personal motives, there's other reasons.  The most significant one is that I believe that colonizing space is a desirable goal.  And I want to be a part of it.

As you may have noticed, I am skeptical of the government and politicians in general.  This extends to corporations and the "big boys" in general.  I don't think you can count on the "big boys" to do it.  They are too risk averse for this type of endeavor.  There's not enough upside to it or they are just plain greedy.   Besides, if someone else will foot the bill, and take the risks, they will be happy to let them.  Yes, it will take an entrepreneur to do it.  It will take someone with a vision and someone who isn't afraid of taking some risks. This does not fit anyone at a government bureaucracy and corporations are so big that they might as well be another branch of the government.

My impression of JP Aerospace is that it could be called a peoples' space program.  They accept volunteers to work for them and business from just ordinary folks like me ( who runs a small time blog).  JP has turned down offers to go commercial with this.  He wants to take it all the way to the Moon, he says.  He's going to do it on his own and with a little help from his friends.

Finally, he just may succeed.  And if he does, it will be a boon for everyone.  A real hero's adventure.

Poll: Americans Blame Partisan Commentators and Tea Party for Their Rhetoric

One thing about polls, the people taking the polls get to ask the questions and who they'll ask.  I'd take these polls with a grain of salt, but they do seem to reflect opinion.  It may not be 100% accurate or unbiased, but it does reflect opinion somewhat.  I think a lot of polls are intended to influence opinion as well as report it.  The result of this poll seems to point the finger at the Tea Party and Conservatives for the current political tone.  Which is amazing to me.  But it may be easier to understand it if the entire thing is being seen as a political issue being ginned up.  The players get on their team and that's is how it is going to be played.  One of the questions asked is if the current environment would encourage violence and more Democrats say so than Republicans.  This despite the fact that no political connection has been made between the shooting and anything that got said by anybody at anytime.  The media has ginned this up and now the Democrats are being led to believe that Republicans are gunning for them, literally.


In my profile, I mention one of my favorite books: Roget's Thesarus.  Why that book?  I guess you can say that I am a student of semantics which is the study of the meaning.  When I write or speak, I want to be sure that I am using the right word to express what I want to express.  Words are the tools of thought and communication.  Since my goal is to communicate effectively, I want to be sure about the words that I am using.  When I say that I am student of semantics, I want to be sure that I am not misrepresenting myself as an expert on the subject.  Rather than be an expert, I just want to do it adequately.

It may have  been said before, but I'll say it again at the risk of being repetitive.  And that is this:  language is the one of the tools in the workshop of the mind.  In my own workshop, I value accuracy in my tools.  As I noted above, I want to be sure that I am using the right words with the right meaning that I want to convey.

Another tool in that workshop is psychological in nature.  One's vision needs to be accurate if one is going to be able to use the right language.  If what you see is distorted, you can't possibly use the right words because what you see isn't necessarily what is there.  There is this word call "denial" which prevents one from seeing accurately.  Rather than define the term here, I refer you to Dr. Sanity's blog where she describes in detail the meaning of this psychological construct.  Until you get your mind right on what denial is, you aren't going to be successful in being accurate in your use of the language, in my opinion.
This brings me to the word "vitriol", which was being used in a political context in connection to the shootings in Tuscon Arizona.  There were those who were blaming the 'vitriol" in the public discourse as being a causative factor in the event.  There were calls for more civility in our discourse.  Nothing wrong with more civility in our public discourse, I suppose.  But did "vitriol" in public discourse have anything to do with what happened in Arizona?  I think not, although others may disagree.  But let's return to this word "vitriol".  What does it mean?

Here's a definition from the Free Online Dictionary.  It isn't Roget's Thesaurus, but it will suffice here.

2. vitriol - abusive or venomous language used to express blame or censure or bitter deep-seated ill will
invective, vituperation
contumely, insult, revilement, vilification, abuse - a rude expression intended to offend or hurt; "when a student made a stupid mistake he spared them no abuse"; "they yelled insults at the visiting team"
 No doubt that there were those who were trying to attach blame for the "Climate of Hate" which supposedly led to the shootings.  There were others who were attempting to link Sarah Palin to all this.  Can there be any doubt that there was an attempt to hurt Palin by making this connection?  Doesn't that fit the definition of "vitriol"?  What about Palin herself?  Is she supposed to just be quiet and not participate in the political process?  If no connection can be made to what she said or did in connection to these murders, then I think those who blamed her for the connection owe her an apology if they were serious about improving public discourse.  And those who blame the Climate of Hate ought to look at their own partisans and what they do before they begin criticizing others.  Likewise in the case of those who blamed Palin, they should apologizing for their own part in the vitriolic discourse if they want to have any credibility on the subject.

But let's be realistic here.  You can't expect Krugman to stop being liberal.  He is what he is.  Also, you can't do much about partisanship.  It is what it is.  I see politics as a necessary evil.  Somebody has to lead.  The way to decide who will be doing that isn't necessarily always nice.  It often lacks civility, but what can you do about it without resorting to censorship?  Clearly, the cure would be worse than the disease.  It think it would be best to be on the lookout for what is driving some of this stuff.  Then you can be on your guard against being manipulated.  I think the best guard is the truth.  That truth is this, vitriol goes with the territory.  It isn't likely to ever go away.  Eliminating it would only bring on something worse.

Politics isn't moral nor scientific.  It is, if it is anything that can be defined, its' a war of words.  Whoever commands the language best may put themselves in the best position to win the war.  This not only matters in the choice of words, but when, where and how they are being used.  Military metaphors are likely, and should be expected.  In the case of Palin using a bullseye, nobody should be shocked.  Nor should be anyone be shocked that there would be those who would try to use that politically if the occasion arose.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Rush Limbaugh isn't apologizing

He is accused of being racist for making sounds intended to sound Chinese.  I can remember the Muppet Show had a character known as the Swedish chef that didn't speak any known language.  Nobody seemed to get upset back then.  Maybe it all depends upon who's being "imitated".  If it is a European culture, no big deal.  But if it is anything else, look out.  It is especially ironic in this case because the Chinese consider their country to be the Middle Kingdom.  Everyone else is considered barbarians.  The charge of racism seems like a mighty stretch to me.

Legend of Atlantis

I wrote recently about Donovan's Hurdy Gurdy man.  This led me to become interested in his works, so I began reading about it.  One of Donovan's big hits was "Atlantis", which recounts the legend of Atlantis as told by the Greek philosopher Plato.

Francis Bacon is believed by some to be William Shakespeare, wrote the novel "New Atlantis".  This in turn was the inspiration for B.F. Skinner's Walden Two.  The legend of Atlantis attracts those who want to recreate the utopian dream of a perfect society.

The Space Shuttle Atlantis is named after the sail powered ship RV Atlantis, which performed oceanographic research.  Atlantean culture was according to legend to be quite advanced scientifically.  This may lead to the belief in the perfectibility of man or society, the basis for Utopianism.

This legendary enlightened society continues to live on in the collective imagination of popular culture.  Can this culture be recreated in modern times?  Attempts to create utopias seem to result in the opposite, though.  It can be a really bad trip when it results in Nazism and Communism.  Those who don't conform to the ideal are not treated very nicely.

Rather than to claim that all Utopians are Marxist, it should be noted that Ayn Rand portrayed a type of Atlantis in her book Atlas Shrugged.  It seems that Utopia is a place where everyone wants to go, but also a place where no one lives.

NFL Championship Games

By this time tomorrow, we'll know who's going to the Super Bowl this year.  I used to spend a lot more time on this than I do now, making picks against the spread.  At this point, I don't even know what the lines are for the two games.  I can make some picks based upon little research and mostly gut feeling though.  What the heck, just for kicks.  No pun intended.

Anyway, in the AFC, I like the Jets.  I think the Steelers may have a problem up front on the offensive line.  Lots of injuries.  Both teams have good defenses and running games.  I like the Steelers QB better than the Jets QB, but this may be negated by the weakness in the Steeler Oline.  So, I'm going with the Jets in the AFC.

In the NFC, I like the Packers.  I think they have no weaknesses that I can think of.  I'm not so sure about the Bears.  I watched some games with the Bears and I find it hard to believe that they really rate high enough to be the NFC champ.  So, I'm taking the Packers.

So there you are.  I'm taking the Jets and Packers in the Super Bowl.  Straight up, not against the spread.  Let's see how it turns out.