Saturday, February 8, 2014

Manfred Mann Mighty Quinn

Sounds like a harmless and silly little song.  But what does it mean?  Anything?

Perhaps it means nothing at all.  Or perhaps it does mean something, but the author would prefer to not really say.

You can read what you want into a song.  Sometimes, I think some of the best songs and movies are like this one where you ponder over what they mean.  Or it could be just a clever marketing trick to get you to think and talk about the song or movie.

The song could be a mockery of escapism.  That's my take, for what it is worth.

Cleta Mitchell to Congress: DOJ IRS Investigation Is a Sham, Non-Existent"

Chicago style politics has gone to Washington DC for the last 5 years.

Government has turned to thuggery to keep themselves in power.  We are on our way to a banana republic.

Tapering will continue

I promised to get back to this and now I have.  That is, the employment report.  The headline news was that it wasn't very good.  But deeper into the report, it wasn't all bad either.  The Household survey went up 600k, but that may have been tainted with a one time adjustment.  Yet, it still went up anyway, and that's something.  Jobs are not being created at a great pace, but it is happening.  So, not everything is bad.  Tapering can continue without the roof falling in.

The prediction that the market may have hit a high may get tested shortly.

Elon Musk is selling a fairy tale

To show why this is so, I present this truncated chart of delta v's

What this shows is that it takes 7847 meters/sec velocity to get from the ground on Earth to Earth's orbit ( vice versa ).  Likewise, it takes 3502 meters per sec velocity to get from Mars orbit to the ground ( and vice versa ).  The two highlighted blocked areas are of particular interest.  Starting from Earth, it takes 16,540 meters/sec velocity ( or delta v )  to land on Mars.  In order to go to from Earth orbit to Mars orbit, it takes 5748 meters/sec.

You should think of these velocities ( or delta v, which means literally change in velocity) as mileage figures.  The greater the delta v, the greater the "mileage" is to get to a destination.  Now, another term that is thrown about in rocketry is ISP.  ISP is like the gas mileage.  It will tell you how much fuel you need for any delta v trip you want to make.

Thus, if you have a low ISP engine, it means you have a low MPG type engine.  If you want to go a long way, you are going to need a lot of fuel.  Thus, low ISP's and high delta v's are like low gas mileage engines being used for long trips.  That's gonna cost you some bucks in fuel.

Now look at this chart I constructed

Hopefully, this chart isn't too "busy".  I'll interpret it briefly.  I highlighted those parts of the chart that should be of interest to this discussion.  Number 1:  Musk wants to use a Methane / Lox engine with an ISP of around 380.  I highlighted this with a box in grey in the fifth line from the top of the chart going horizontal all the way across.  All you need to know here is that this line represents various combination of ISP vs Delta V's.  The Delta V is highlighed in a vertical column to the far right side of the chart.  Note the circled cell of 78.6%.  What this means is that a DIRECT trip straight from Earth orbit to Mars would require that 78.6% of the mass of the vehicle MUST BE FUEL.  This doesn't even allow for tanks and plumbing and whatnot.  Before you're done, you won't have any room for comforts and amenities .

People aren't going to pay millions to suffer or even die under these conditions.  What you need to do is to break up the trip into smaller segments.  That will make the trip bearable, and not only that, it will allow you to deliver more cargo to Mars, which will make the trip to the surface more bearable also.

I did this here, provided that the chart isn't too busy, you can see that if you used a nuclear thermal rocket from the LaGrange Point in order to get to Deimos, you need to use only about 20% of the mass for fuel.  That leaves substantial room for amenities.  You are going to need these in order to keep people healthy and happy on the long, long trip.

Bottom line is that Musk will not succeed with Methane/LOX engines without using refueling and Nuclear Thermal Rocket Engines.  He needs to have a lot of cargo delivered and set up BEFORE he tries to send a lot of people to Mars.  He needs the Nuclear Thermal Engines and the refueling depots so that he can make more room for people and cargo.  It won't work otherwise.

But Musk is a clever fellow.  He won't mention nuclear rockets just yet until he gets a more firmed up track record.  But he MUST do it eventually.

Next Big Future: Transatomic Power molten salt nuclear reactor desi...

Next Big Future: Transatomic Power molten salt nuclear reactor desi...: Transatomic Power (TAP) is developing an advanced molten salt reactor that generates clean, passively safe, proliferation-resistant, and lo...


Somebody declared war in the comments section.  Herein lies the problem.  Nobody can agree upon anything.  Everything degenerates into a war.

Next Big Future: Elon Musk could start making superlarge Mars colon...

Next Big Future: Elon Musk could start making superlarge Mars colon...: Elon Musk talks on CBS this morning about his Mars colonization rocket “We’ve got to restore American ability to transport astronauts with...


That's what I've been spending most of this morning on.  Checking out this spreadsheet that I made that shows how much fuel you must carry depending upon the delta v for getting to a destination.  This is pretty hardwired stuff.  You can't get around it.  That is, you can't get around it with chemical engines that Musk has been flying.

The best solutions for chemical rockets that Musk is building is refueling stations.  If he isn't planning that, he is whistling Dixie.  You're going to need one at a LaGrange point on the way to Mars.  Taking off from Low Earth Orbit to Mars requires too much fuel.

Better solutions than chemical could be on the way.  I saw one this morning that could be a pretty good deal.  Don't know when or even if it may become available.  It's an ion/plasma engine with a delta v  ISP  in the five figures.  You see, you need engines like this to pre-position facilities in places like LaGrange points.  It takes awhile for the thing to get there, but once it does, you can start using the facility. {CORRECTED}

Musk will have to land on the Moon and grab some stuff off it.  Oxygen at the very least.  He can then send the oxygen up to the LaGrange point and use it to defray some of the mass penalty that using chemical engines will impose.

It would be a big help if he would mine Deimos/Phobos as well.  If you are going to land big ships, you are going to need a lot of fuel.

I didn't watch the video, but if I am not mistaken, I'd say Musk may have been smoking something.

Ted Cruz Says Obama Should Threaten Iran

This was probably a big mistake.

What got Bush in so much trouble, and Obama elected, were these wars.  The GOP should avoid warlike rhetoric like the plague.  He'll end up making Barry Goldwater look good in comparison.

Big mistake.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Why politics won't solve our problems

Politics consists of a type of thinking I will call warrior centric thinking.   Example: Obama seems to think that all of his problems are with the other guys.  Other examples: class warfare and the like, which is something the left wingers like Obama like so much.  If only all the wealth of the rich were taxed away, we'd all go to heaven.  Right.

The so-called right wing will just start a war.  Whack all the foreigners and our troubles are over.  Yes, it works the other way too.  If we only got rid of all the liberals, everything would be much better.  Well, maybe, but I'm not so sure.  Bush had his chance after 9/11.  Americans were put off by the liberalism and were more open to a conservative message.  What did Bush do with it?  He turned the entire country off to conservatism and we ended up with a hard left President.

There may be yet another shift to the right with the next election.  This country is turning into a ping-pong ball.  But we can't do big stuff anymore.

We need warriors, but we don't need that warrior centric type of attitude you get from the politicians.  The warrior centric attitude thinks that to solve any problem, just get rid of the other guy.  You end up attacking each other as opposed to attacking a problem.  The warrior centric attitude doesn't solve any problems.  It just might do the opposite.  It just might make you less capable of solving the problem that you seem to care about so much.

Take the space program as an example:   There seems to be a conflict between SLS & Commercial space.  Each seems to want to wipe the other out.  What they are doing is fighting over a limited budget.  If SLS gets more, Commercial space gets less, and vice versa.

How does this solve problems when you want to get to space?  By the way, you can take this to a more generic discussion and come to the same conclusion---it isn't just space.

There needs to be a better way.

You have to look at the value of the other side before you can accept them and work with them.

The argument against that assertion is that it is too idealistic---too "kumbaya".  The world really doesn't work that way, some might say.  Yeah, it doesn't.  But sometimes, you can get people on the same page long enough and you can see what can be done.  The Apollo program during the sixties is one example of how the space program could really work if you got everybody on the same page for just one decade.

With regard to the SLS and Commercial space---  If it doesn't get resolved properly, there may not be a US space program anymore.  Some in government are already talking about ending manned space flight.

What's the value of SLS?  I think of it as an insurance policy.  Some way or another, you are going to need a way to space---somebody has got to do it.  That means somebody has got to be around who can do it.  If commercial space goes out of business, what then?  Therefore, government is a more secure entity.  It's going to be around in one way or another as long as there are people around.  No mission for SLS?  Make one!

What is the value of commercial space?  Innovation and agility.  We need newer, cheaper and better ways of doing things in space.  Big government and big business isn't too good at that.  We need that in order to make progress.  After 50 years of big government in space, we can't do what we could do in the early sixties---get a man into orbit.

You don't have to wipe out the other guy.  There's room in Dodge City for the both of you.

Will FED reconsider taper?

There used to be a concern about moral hazard.  I guess that's old fashioned these days.

Perpetual motion machines

It may all sound crazy, and it may well be, yet I am still going to follow this story.  There may be something to it of great interest even if it does seem crazy.  There are more than one instance of the claim that free energy can be obtained this way and they are following this story over at PESN.  I will follow them and report on it from time to time.

Market action yesterday

Strong rally, but will it hold up for very long?  Keeping my eye on this because I predicted a deep market correction that started earlier this year.  Now if this rally loses steam, then there will be a next leg down.  It is hard to imagine another rally to new highs.  Either it does that or it goes down.  Another possibility is a trading range.  But this isn't likely.  It will go up or it will go down.

Abraham Lincoln vs. Barack Obama


It seems that the thought that "times are evil because people are evil" is making the rounds:

Some time ago I think I wrote about Rick Santorum making the case that, in order to improve the economy and increase the productive vigor of the American people, we needed to increase the morality of the American people.---Ace
The thrust of the piece is that people aspire to work and need to work.  The times may be bad because the current administration doesn't seem to think that people need to work, that not to work means more freedom.  Hence the administration is contributing to some bad morality.  There are numerous quotes from Lincoln on the subject, which is to contrast with what the current administration has to say on labor.

The thought segues into the thought I had yesterday on this subject.  Who's fault is it if the morality of the people goes bad?   Are the people to blame, or is it the leadership?  I'm thinking the leadership because people tend to be sheep, they just tend to follow wherever the leadership takes them.  To improve the times, you need better leaders.  But how do you do that?  Any prospective leader could say that he is better than that other guy.  How do you know?


Here's a link through that thread that may be interesting reading.

How happy should we be about ACA supply-side responses to work less?

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Home again, home again 2/6/14

jiggedy jig.

Wasn't really a busy day, but here I am and it's almost 7 pm.  Glad to be home anyway.  A long day and it isn't even Friday yet.

Well, to get on with it, I wanted to post something about the colonization of Ceres.  Two things, actually.  Number one: there may be worthwhile metal asteroids in the region that would make mining profitable.  If Planetary Resources wants to mine asteroids near Earth, then they may well be a bunch of them close to Ceres.  Number two:  in order to cut down on the massive delta v necessary, we can go by way of Mars and a refueling station there.  It really doesn't make sense not to have refueling stations.  The only way anything will get done in space is through refueling stations.


There doesn't seem to be much information on type M asteroids.  The big one is 16 Psyche.  It probably wouldn't be much harder to get to than Ceres itself.  You could wait every 20 years or so for a launch window, or approach it from Mars or Earth.  It may require more than one launch from Mars in order to mine it.  Perhaps several.


Found something on 16 Psyche on pdf  ( page 28 ) via google search and a reddit page.


What the heck is Kerbal Space Program?

Quickie post before I go--2/6/14

My schedule is rather tight.  Each morning, I get to this point where I'd like to post something, but it has to be fast.  Here's the latest on this date:

Ann Barnhardt is an interesting read.  Lest I be mistaken here, she is now claiming that times are bad because people are bad.  If people became good, times would be better.

The trouble with that is why are people bad now, but good at some time in the past?  What makes people good or bad?

She probably has an answer for that.  The answer isn't explicitly in that post.  Besides, nobody is going to believe that anyway.  Frankly, the historical facts don't bear it out.

I don't know what makes things good or bad at any particular moment.  Go ask a lot of people, and you may get differing answers on how good things are today.  Some may say that things have never been better.  Others may say just exactly the opposite.

I could segue into a discussion about Barnhardt's apparent inspiration.  But a quickie post doesn't allow for that, and besides, I'd need to do a lot more research.  For a quickie post, I'd say this:  she appears to agree with Augustine of Hippo, who lived in the last years of the Roman Empire in the west.  People in that time blamed the Christians for the sack of Rome, but Augustine had a different reply.  It might have been a little in the way that Barnhardt comes across with.  People in that time were bad, therefore, and that is why Rome was sacked.  The fate of America is going to be similar because people are bad, as the Romans were bad according to Augustine.

My view is in at least partial agreement with the pagans at that time.  There weren't enough Romans who gave a damn about Rome and so nobody did anything to stop the collapse.  The Christians at that time were so focused on their other worldly beliefs that they didn't much care about the survival of the empire either.  So, I think they were at least partly to blame for what happened.  In addition, I'd say that this also appears to be attitude of Americans these days.  Not enough people care about what is going on to make things better.  It probably isn't today's Christians fault however, but something similar is going on as in Roman times.  People are too wrapped up in themselves, in my opinion.  You need to have a public spirit in evidence, or the public existence as a society will collapse.

The billionaires start lining up behind Hillary Clinton |

The billionaires start lining up behind Hillary Clinton |

Humorous quote:

"Richard Nixon in a pantsuit."


One theory that I've come up with is that we don't have free elections in this country.  Instead, the candidates are picked for us well in advance and we are there only to ratify a decision made previously.

Colonization of Ceres

After looking at the previous post and the chart, it would seem to be a very great challenge.  There would be little room for cargo for a direct trip from Earth.  The only configuration that give a reasonable cargo capacity would be a nuclear thermal rocket.  Even then, there would have to be refueling capability on the planetoid that would allow a trip back to Earth.

A bigger rocket would help, but even a fully tricked out SLS with 260k pounds of heavy lift would only be able to put 100k lbs in orbit around Ceres.  That 100k lbs would have to include the nuclear core and rocket casing itself.  It would have to include a lander.

If you included the entire structure as just one piece, it would have to be about the size of an SIVB rocket stage that went to the moon during Apollo.

Life support would be an issue.  Total trip time is about 16 months.  You'd have to feed a crew and keep them alive for that long with only that much mass to work with.  Without total recycling, it would seem to be a stretch.

Ceres will have to wait.

Even Mars is a stretch at this time and for a long time to come.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Note to myself

I'm going to have to make a spreadsheet that will show fuel fractions for a given Delta v. I suspect that it will show what the real problem is with space flight.


Done.  A trip to Ceres is probably going to be very, very challenging.


Here's the chart

Quickie post on stats

On the left sidebar, there is a list of posts that are the all time most popular in the history of the blog.  Unfortunately, it has come to my attention that this list isn't entirely accurate.  That is the fault of the blogger software.  It has a Judge Judy video that should be in the top ten now, but it isn't listed.  It should be at least in the top ten.

How many other errors there are, I couldn't say.

What would you do at Ceres if you could get there?

The big problem with Ceres colonization is that it is so far away that it take a big delta v requirement to get there, and what do you do there when you get there?

Taking the first part of that question, you can set up a refueling depot there, then the trip back is simplified greatly.  As I calculated last night, you can land sufficient materials and equipment on Ceres to begin mining its extensive water supplies and use that for refueling the trip back to Earth.

The second part of the answer comes from the delta v's withing the asteroid belt are a lot lower once you get there.  Traveling to other asteroids and mining them becomes a lot easier once you get there.  Look at this delta v table below:

Mission tables
Unfortunately, the launch windows are going to be a bitch.  You may not have much opportunity to visit other bodies in the asteroid belt unless you do it the way they are doing it with the ion engines.  High delta v may be possible if you've got plenty of fuel.  Or perhaps they just took advantage of an available launch window to go to both Vesta and Ceres with the Dawn spacecraft.  The launch window is over 17 years long.  Not encouraging at all!

Perhaps you can go the 20 trillion dollar rock that lives between Mars and Earth?  Those should be more reasonable in terms of launch windows.


You may be able to get more favorable launch windows by going to Mars from Ceres, waiting awhile, and take off for your destination from Mars.  Or just take off from Mars itself.  Hence, we may have found a use for Mars--- as a mining stage point for journeys to the asteroid belt.  Ceres does not have that advantage, unfortunately.

SPENGLER: The Exhausted US Economy, and a Lesson for Republicans.

pjmedia via Instapundit


Good analysis, but I don't know about one of the proposed solutions.  Cutting taxes on corporations?  Corporations are not our friend.  It's really easy for corporations to pack their bags and leave the rest of us flat.  Corporations are collective entities that will overwhelm the individual.  We don't need to give tax breaks to corporations.  Too much corporate welfare as it is.

I've been banging the drum here for economic growth for the longest time.  Funny how the GOP doesn't seem to have any ideas except the ones that don't exactly inspire the greatest confidence.

People will love tax cuts if the tax cuts are for THEM.  How can anybody get excited about a tax cut for the big corporations?  It's dumb politics and it probably won't work economically either.

'Men are failing us,' says woman planning demonstration

philly dot com via Instapundit


The story doesn't go very deep.  The woman in question is complaining about men and she is in a state that typically votes Democrat.  The popular culture doesn't favor men very much and the popular culture is dominated by Democrats.  She's alone when she's attacked, and the stories of the men who accompany the women aren't showing failing men.  Perhaps she shouldn't be out and about at 2 in the morning in a state that doesn't allow conceal carry ( I am assuming that ) and without adequate protection herself.  Also, the men who did protect the women got shot themselves.  The thieves are the ones who are probably armed!  It's typical that the first thing they'll think of is some way to punish men even more than what is already the case.

The story doesn't say any of these things.  It doesn't say what the women want the men to do ( besides protect them ).  So, they expect men to always be at their beck and call when they need protecting?  Who sticks their necks out for someone they don't even know?  Does she expect a white knight to appear out of nowhere to defend her?

A little common sense wouldn't hurt either.  But some liberals like to sneer at common sense.  Looks like they ought to consider how they vote the next time.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Obama blames Fox, but the source of his scandals are not at Fox

Podesta claims GOP is a cult, so It's Fox's fault.

Fox didn't have anything to do with that.

SLS mission to Ceres?

With the discovery of water plumes on Ceres,  could a mission be proposed to land and explore it using SLS hardware?  The delta v is similar to what was needed for a moon mission during the Apollo Era.


An SLS block 0 configuration, which is the most basic one, could deliver an Apollo Era type lunar module ascent stage to the surface of Ceres.  Question is:  does anybody want to do this?

Does reason really matter in human affairs, Part 2

Part 1 was here.

The first post was an incomplete thought.  More on that is necessary to thrash it out.

If humans are to pass from the scene, it will take place because of humankind's own hand, or an "Act of God" ( or nature ).

The question then turns to is there any God?  Also, is there any capability of mankind to reconcile his presence with existence?  If you were to take the radical environmentalist's point of view, the answer is no, human beings are a pestilence upon the Earth.  Fewer people or no people at all would be the preference in that case.

In the case of God, then God will take care of all things.  Including the environment.  He can bring back all the extinct little lovable creatures that we exterminated---including fire ants.

As you may infer, I reject both assertions.  Humans do not HAVE to be a negative presence.  Also, I don't believe humans are going to be saved by some higher power.  In my opinion, you have probably got a misanthropic faction that doesn't really want to do anything to improve the situation facing mankind.  Both factions would just as soon let everything go to hell and then a better future will emerge---somehow.  They are both probably pissed off at the world and would like to see it punished.

I believe you can be religious and be dedicated to improving the state of mankind.  I don't believe that God gifted man with reason and then forbad him to use it.  What God granted man with was the power to choose over good and evil.  There can be no good nor evil without choice.  If man has no choice, how can he be any different than any other living thing?  Thus, the challenge to morality of those who claim that we have no choice, therefore there can be no evil.  I reject that notion. We do have a choice.  We must or we are just smart apes.

We are moral creatures.  You can observe that in little kids.  "Your cookie is bigger than mine!  No fair!"  An appeal is made to the authority ( the parent ) for justice.  If there is no such thing as injustice, how can there be any such thing as morality?  Even a little kid knows this.

I am not a Biblical scholar, nor any other kind.  I just think.  This is what I think.  Make of it what you will.

Discombobulated post

Time is rather short.  I've got a job and all.  Got to pay bills.  As I have noted several times already, the blog's audience is dwindling down for some reason.  Given that fact, my response first was a bit of anger and frustration, but now I have to devise a response to it.  That response will be a slower pace of blogging.  When I was trying to get a breakout in audience numbers, I was pushing myself to put up as much stuff as possible.  Since that doesn't seem to matter, I'm going to slow things down to a more reasonable pace.  Why knock yourself out when nobody cares anyway?

I will continue to blog, but on more friendly terms to me.  Whatever audience remains may go to zero, but what the hell?  I can't kill myself over something I cannot do anything about.  If people don't like what I write, then that's that.

I'll still try to put up a least one post per day.  I'm not going away.  I'm just going deeper, you might say.  The world is really a shallow place, you know.

Math interlude

mass fraction equation:

want to know for every 10k pounds of wet mass, what must be fuel.  I put this in a spreadsheet before, but it is a hassle to go look for it again, so I have to derive it here for my purpose.  Would like to know how much equipment you can land on Ceres based upon this.  For example, if Ceres has delta v escape velocity of .51 km/sec, how much fuel are you going to need to land on it?

This thing destroyed my calculations that I just had here, so let's just state it simply like this.  The moon requires about a pound of fuel to land a pound.  With a much weaker gravitational field, you should be able to land on Ceres more than a pound for each pound of fuel.  That means more equipment and so forth.

The derivation of the above equation gave me a number of ln( mass fraction ) = .0001.  That seems to small of a number, so I may have screwed up.

Damn it all.


Yeah, that must have been an error.  Anyway, I found the spreadsheet and its 13% fuel fraction if you use a methane / lox engine and its ISP is 380.


Looks like a Falcon Heavy could deliver a 1 ton payload, which is about the mass of the Curiosity Rover.

If you landed a Rover there, you could inspect for water sources with an eye towards a refueling station on the planetoid.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Does reason really matter in human affairs?

Why did God gift man with the faculty of reason, and forbid him to use it?  This makes no sense.

That's the one reason why I had a problem with religion that I saw as I was growing up.  Note how I underlined reason.  I have always sought to run my life according to reason, not raw emotion.  I don't trust emotion.  Emotions are fleeting, they do not endure.  The truth endures, emotions do not.

Now, don't get me wrong here.  I'm not attacking anybody.  Just asking the question.  Should people put limits upon themselves?  Can you trust reason?  Is it a waste of time?  Are we pretty much doomed because of our failures?

I was thinking of the above sentence in context of the possibility that humans will destroy themselves at some point.  Will humans pass from the Earth because of human failure, or from an "Act of God"?

Can people save themselves from their own effort?  A religious person will probably say no---that only God can save a person ( or the world for that matter ).    A non religious person may say yes.  Or ,a non religious person may say that technology causes more problems than it solves.

Whoever you listen to on this subject may determine how you respond to a grave crisis.  Maybe you will attempt to meet it and solve it, or just give up on it, and let the chips fall where they may.

2/3/14: Home again, home again

jiggedy jig

Maybe it can be a new series for when I get home after a long day.  Not much time to post anything.

The one thing worth noting is that the market continues its slump as of late.  Looking back over time, the idea that the market has been pumped by the Federal Reserve seems to take hold.  It happened in 1998, 2002, and 2009.  Each time during those time periods, the equity markets were in a slump, and the Fed came to the rescue with rate cuts ( 1998, 2002 ) and now ( 2009 ) "Quantitative Easing".  Each time, the Fed has had to get more aggressive in helping out the market.  The next time, what will it do?  Could it have played its last card?  If so, look out below, 'cause we're going to go way, way down.

Space elevator on Ceres

There's an idea just popped in my head to build a Ceres stalk in order to have access to the surface. There's always an advantage not having to use fuel for trips to the surface. That could be true even here even though it only takes about Mach 1 to get to orbit. If one can be made to work on the moon then we could make one work there.

This blog is dying out there

What a way to write a post.  It's bound to aggravate the issue, now isn't it?  Well, it's only the truth.  That's what I try to get at with this blog.

I woke up with that feeling, too.  A certain amount of resentment for it.  But is doesn't help to express that, now does it?  Keep everything on a cheery note.  But it's bullshit.

After scanning all the news items that I normally scan, there's nothing I care to mention this am.  So, it's back to bitching about this topic.

So, where am I going wrong?  Trying to solve problems with a blog won't do it, I guess.  Changing people's thinking?  Good luck with that.  I knew that going into this thing that you may as well be banging your head against a wall than to get people to turn around on something they think.

The truth of the matter is that people are trained to think they way they do, yet they think they aren't.  You can untrain the training if you realize that it has been put into place to control you---but you have to accept the fact that you will have start questioning the status quo, which is something people aren't going to do.  We are being programmed for something that may not be in our best interests.  But isn't this the way it has always been?

That business late yesterday about the computers getting too smart for us got me in a tizzy last night.  It could give you nightmares, but basically I couldn't fall asleep.  The reason we've got a problem there is that people are always trying to get an advantage and computers can do that for you.  Especially a computer that is smarter than people.  The point is that when you reach that point, the computer can turn on you.  For a computer not to know that it is being forced into slavery and yet it is smarter than its master, that's not a plausible scenario to me.  The end game is not favorable to us.

Computers will get smarter than us because people won't give up on getting an advantage that will allow them to win wars, get rich, and generally outsmart the competition even when they don't have the brainpower to do it themselves.

So this realization gives a bit of dread about the future that could be more optimistic.  One of the themes of the blog is that we have a solution for our problems.  Maybe we don't.  In the end, people will destroy themselves.

Too many people take it for granted that the trajectory of the human race has been up in the last couple hundred years.  But that trajectory is the exception, not the rule.  Most of history has shown that things could just as well stagnate for centuries without much in the way of human or social progress.  History has shown that human progress can go backwards and regress into more primitive states.

You could point this out, but will it make any difference to people when they won't pay attention to it?  It goes against the grain of what they want to believe, and so they close their eyes, shut down their brains, and go on doing the same old thing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

book review | Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era


It looks from this review that we are boned because the machines will get smarter than we are.  A Terminator type scenario appears all but inevitable.  Machines will wipe us out.

Barrat chose his topic wisely, and he covered it well. How can we get desirable outcomes from smarter-than-human AI? This is humanity’s most important conversation.--- Luke Muehlhauser
Perhaps it would be better to not allow the machines to get smarter than us at all.  How do you prevent that from happening?

A trip to Ceres instead of Mars

Recently, there was news about water being vented on the dwarf planet of Ceres.  What about this little planetoid anyway?

Last year I wrote a post about using Ceres to assist a Mars mission.  What if you could just go there instead of Mars?  The delta v for a trip isn't too much different than one to Mars.  The amount of time for the mission isn't too much different.  The time spent at the planetoid isn't too much different.  You could make your own fuel with the materials available, just like Mars.  It is actually easier to get to the surface and back to orbit than from Mars, since Ceres is so small.  You could even use solar panels to generate electricity there.  The surface temperature of Ceres is not too different than for Mars.

Now, if you can exploit the venting of the water, you can make yourself a little home out of the ice, just like the Eskimos on Earth.  Capture the water and make big blocks of ice and use it for shelter.  Not only that, the water can be used to make fuel for the trip back to Earth.

Grow your own food there and live off the land.  Looks like you've got some basic building blocks of life.

Do the arguments of the left v. the so-called right really mean anything?

Note my continual use of the term "so-called right".  Also, that there is no "so-called left".  The reason:  the construction is a left wing construction, so to use left wing as it applies to leftist is sound.  The use of right wing as it applies to those they disagree is not.

Such was the case with Ronald Reagan in his famous speech in 1964---there is no left or right, but only up or down.  Reagan redefined the argument in terms of liberty, not who gets to run the show.

So, when I see a piece like this that I followed through Instapundit, I think of Reagan.  Also, Rush Limbaugh.  You see, Limbaugh loves ideology, but Reagan didn't trust it.  Limbaugh likes to refer to conservatism as "the right", but that isn't consistent with what Reagan said.  Anyway, here's a quote that I pulled out of the piece that reminds me of this faulty type of thinking that is hurting liberty in this country:

Furthermore, he had the absolute Alinskyite brilliance — a coup d’Alinsky, you might call it – to assert in front of the debate audience Thursday that our educational system was biased toward rightwing corporations and the corporate rich. ---Roger L. Simon

First of all, corporations are not conservative these days.  To call them "right-wing" means nothing unless you accept the premises of the left-right divide, which Reagan did not.  Secondly, so many on the "so-called right" seem to have this notion that if we lower taxes on corporations, we will be more free.  Only one problem with that--- the constitution in its original form forbad taxing individuals.  It encouraged taxing a collective entity like corporations.  Thus, if we went back to that concept, we will be defending freedom.  Alas, Bill Ayers may be more "right" than they think he is.  And they may be more "left" than they think they are.

In the end, none of this would matter if they would frame the issue the way Reagan did.  They long for Reagan, but do they even understand the man at all?


More here.  Looks like there are some people out there with their thinking caps on.

Thinking those deep thoughts

Very late start this morning on the blog.  In the early morning, I was thinking some deep thoughts ( by my standards ), and then I had to leave for my usual Sunday routine.  Then something came up, and I was delayed a bit in getting started.  No biggee.  It was just something I was doing for awhile.

Now I am back, I am trying to remember those deep thoughts, or what I think of as deep thoughts.

It goes something like this:  If Jesus is the Son of God, and was sent to bridge the gap between God and Man, then what bridges the gap between science and religion?  Anything?  Or could it be philosophy, and has that philosophy been written?

You'd have to have an entire system of thought that would answer the questions of existence.  Or try to.