About Sci Fi Engineer

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Grumping

So I pay way to much attention to the internet though I do focus on STEM topics other than libertarian leaning current events and world view ‘stuff.’

One of my favorites is as I have said Scott Adams of Dilbert fame. You can find him on the web quite easily…well unless his support of Orange Man Bad got him kicked off at last.

But one of my grumps ever since the start of Covid has been his ‘blithely panicked’ (yes I meant that) response to what I see as a very serious but never, ever, even close to civilization ending, epidemic.

While I do not agree with those who call it just a flu, I do agree that it has been blown out of all proportion. I suspect that the response has killed more people (untreated conditions, suicide, drug overdose, ennui…) than the disease has.

Also the impact, being highly focused on people like me (a bit older with co morbidities) was tragic but after the first 3 months clearly within the realm of reasonable countermeasures to limit spread among the affected community without broad swath lockdowns (which were and are Fascistic over reactions.)

But Orange Man Bad drove a lot of folks into the fear and freak out theater business and there was nothing that reasonable people (Orange Man Bad amongst them) could do about it. Now ZombieJoe and his HenchWench will use the winding down of the fear frenzy to cover up a lot of their wild eyed supporters power grabs and revenge fantasy role playing.

Now one of the tropes is how hideous this disease is because of its lingering effects. Horrors, you may loose your sense of smell, have brain deficit issues, other health affects lasting who knows how long???

Get a Fucking Grip. I have had several serious infections due to physical damage early in my twenties (bone infection can recur more than once after 40 years!!!!) I also seem to get a really really really bad flue reaction every few years. These episodes have left me depressed and enervated for months…getting on for years. I often hear folks commenting about how serious infections drag out and lead to knock on effects.

This Covid HORROR is only something because we are paying millions of people billions of dollars to pay attention to this one thing.

What that attention has given us is a huge pile of data on what a viral infection can do the human body. And a whole bunch of youngish punkish doctors have seen this effect in detail in multiple patients for the first time and think its something new.

It’s not new, ask any group of older folks with less than perfect health records. And look at reality, this infectious vector and others have been around for hundreds of millions if not billions of years. A variant of this one might have helped kill of the Fucking Neanderthals (along with our ancestors and a few rocks and clubs.)

I was born in the year of the Hong Kong flu, probably a worse flu than this one but much less of a problem because travel was vastly less easy and people didn’t panic when an unknown disease popped up. They had lived with Polio, Typhoid, Yellow Fever, the Mumps, etc, etc most of their lives and were still stunned by the efficacy of the penicillin and its ilk.

I know that few will read this post and even if they did it would have no effect, but as with most Grumps, it helped me. Thank you for your support.

KelTec the wild man of the gun world

KelTec P50: First Look at the New 50-Round 5.7x28mm Pistol

COMPLETE WITH TWO FN P90 MAGAZINES, THE ALL-NEW KELTEC P50 LOADS BY LIFTING UP THE BARREL AND SLIDING THE 50-ROUND 5.7X28MM MAGAZINE I By BALLISTIC STAFF

So I love the old StarGate series and one of the icons of the series was the use of the FN P90 bull pup machine pistol with its 50 round transparent plastic magazine on the top of the barrel, just popping off the bad Egyptian dudes by the dozens.

The reality was that this French sponsored weapon was not just a prop. Developed in the 80’s as better than a pistol, sub machine gun or rifle for vehicle crews and security forces . Something with the ability to penetrate bullet proof vests, carry a lot of rounds, but not load the soldier down or make a big visual impression.

The core of this is the 5.7×28 mm round…a center fire 22 pistol round. With the ability to accurately hit and penetrate at moderate range. A 9in (ish) barrel in a bull pup kept the weapon short. The plastic magazine was bizarre but worked, stacking the rounds sideways with a ramp/pivot to feed the rounds into the chamber. It doesn’t sound like a great idea but apparently it was engineered well and does the job reliably while providing 50 rounds.

The 5.7×28 round has started to make an impact with the current interest in self defense and concealed carry. The Ruger 57, the FN 57 pistol both are modest successes and deservedly so. Now KelTec kicked it up a whole lot with this 5.7x28mm Maxi Pistol…really a bit of a competitor to the P90 which may be out of print now. It is a wild take on what is supposed to be a personal ‘side arm’ but it certainly makes an impression.

Cheers.

Our space science Economy has assets

An artist’s depiction of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at work at the asteroid Bennu. (Image: © NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

NASA’s OSIRIS-REx probe could make a 2nd stop at infamous asteroid Apophis, at Space.com, and noted in several space related blogs, eMags. This sounds like a fantastic use of a remarkable space asset.

The Japanese asteroid prospector Hayabusa2 dropped off its samples from Ryugu at Earth and is on its way for more exploration last year: Farewell, Ryugu! Japan’s Hayabusa2 Probe Leaves Asteroid for Journey Home

These craft and others such as craft like the voyagers continue to return immensely valuable data long after their primary mission is complete. One of the things NASA and other space science organizations struggle with is supporting these ships long after the original funding timeline is past. This is a great problem to have and by and large the money is found since these are very cheap deep space projects in the big picture.

So my title, the economy of ‘outer space’ is all about data, science, prospecting right now. These are valuable assets that we need to support to provide returns orders of magnitude greater than the cost in the sense of other ways of getting that data, data that is both live affirming in its fascination and valuable as part of the bedrock of our understanding of the universe.

Cheers

For Values of Duh

I used to be an IEEE member though I am an ME. IEEE spectrum is a great tech magazine and site. They have an article up Why Aren’t COVID Tracing Apps More Widely Used? , that seems a bit clueless, it starts…..

a new study suggests that trust and transparency are barriers for broader acceptance of the apps

Sub head of above

So…they needed a study to find this out? A type of app that tracks your location at all times and provides that to an cloud AI so it can figure out who you have been talking to, has trust issues, given what we KNOW about big tech?

Sheesh….

Tragedy of the NotCommons

https://www.pexels.com/@akos-szabo-145938

A blog tag to an article I did not read set me to thinking today. Read on if you think that the Net today is fraught with societal risk.

I have been using the WWW, Internet, since a couple of years after its start as ARPANET and MilNet for email and data transmission. Following it through the years I saw the slow exploration then the exuberant exploitation through the 80’s and 90’s even the 0ughts.

One of the things I had a hard time understanding was the effervescent froth about how this was freedom and that governments could never control it. When governments where the entity that installed it and ran it in many places. There are arguments in support of a weakish case for net freedom but for the masses it is not and will never be a truly open commons.

A big part of this is because of the way most people interface with the Net. They use it like they use a car, get in and drive, many times not knowing a thing about internal combustion engines, transmissions, etc. They are not technically savvy people, but then even people like me, an engineer, thirty plus year user of the Net, do not understand the ‘stacks’ on ‘stacks’ that are the interwoven hardware, firmware, protocols and software that makes the Net hum.

In the early days the Net was about Protocols, eMail and Hyperlink were two critical protocols that enabled communication and the creation of documents (Still, though they are called, Blogs, or Sites) that could be read out of sequence and include incredible depths of information that were simply impossible with a book or the like.

This early Net was dynamic and boisterous but largely a land of technical folks, academics, geeks and nerds. It was a natural environment for them in a way only the still evolving desktop computer had been until then.

After a while businesses started to move in and the media started to look at this as a way of distributing their content without the cost and logistic drag of newsprint, TV stations or even radio. Of course what most did not see coming was that the net would make their old advertiser supported business model very difficult to support over the long term while giving new Platforms (AOL and their ilk, now TWITTER, FACEBOOK etc) a leg up as essentially the new middle man between the consumer and ‘the content.’

But even at the start with AOL et al, some philosopher technical types pointed out that these Platforms ,while they gave Joe User an easy path to the internet, put a barrier between the user and the broader Net. Some like me never went down the platform path because we wanted the depth of the Net in the raw as it were but we pay the penalty of having to work harder to get things that Platform users get for free.

Twenty years on Facebook and Twitter have paved over the Net to a very significant degree. They started as just social networks with different focuses. But they have become the principle distributor of news and opinion. They have sucked up adjacent Net onramps in their fight to gain share and suppress competition. Now they lust after your data so they can sell it to the highest bidder, while using it, somewhat unintentionally to wrap the users in ever thicker cocoons of confirmation bias. They have also strangled the legacy media in its bed by stripping away the advertiser revenue.

Why?

I see 3 main reasons, ease of use, addictive content and the network affect. Ease of Use: You might argue that some of them are not that easy today but in the beginning essentially each of them was drop dead simple, so simple a tweener cheerleader could use it in ten seconds or less. Addictive Content: Most of these tools make something you want to do easy and provide reinforcing feedback, if your tweet goes viral to a 1000 people, woohooo! If your facebook post gets a like from a dozen friends, charge UP! This is addiction. Network affect: Simply stated, a network of 10 people has 100 interconnects, 100 people have 10,000 interconnects, the more people on a platform the more valuable it is to the user as well as the owner. Since you have limited time in your life, you cannot copy identical on multiple platforms going along. Then the platforms will make it hard for you to migrate from them with your list of friends, follows, photos, blogs, whatever.

So?

The title of the article I mentioned at the start said something about Protocols vs Platforms and this was one of those epiphany things you hear about. AHA!

Platforms are largely just Net hubs and they hate open protocols because it will reduce them to pipes and strip away their ability to siphon off value from the users, both consumer and creator.

Facebook or Twitter are just Protocols of Protocols with a software wrapper. Their core are proprietary protocols & software, not open protocols so that competition is impossible. The network affect and the users addiction to the particular flavor of Platform makes changing essentially impossible.

But if the Platforms are required to open their protocols and enable users to migrate their core identity the monopoly would be broken without destroying the user side value. One could even see an anti monopoly order that required some kind of Baby Twitter / Baby Facebook disaggregation that requires the ‘Babies’ interlink and compete.

This seems relatively clear cut process . It would provide the users with competition for their core value that is simply not there today. And while it will hurt the stockholders (who are earning monopolist profits today) it does not strip their assets while providing the opportunity to earn significant returns going forward.

The NonCommons of today, the Platforms, are a tragedy for the users in that their value is stripped without much recompense beyond ease of use. If we go back to the roots of the Net, open protocols, and user value, we have a chance to build back better….and make the Net great again.

Cool Stars, Kinda Literally

Image: This artist’s conception illustrates what brown dwarfs of different types might look like to a hypothetical interstellar traveler who has flown a spaceship to each one…. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

There are a class of celestial objects much heavier than our systems Jupiter but about the same size. They are not really planets just balls of dense hot gas, but they are not really stars because they lack the mass to collapse and heat their core to ignite sustained fusion. These Brown Dwarves are probably one of the most common objects in our universe but little is known about them because until recently they were essentially impossible to find. With new tools and new techniques this fascinating class of in between are coming into focus.

Another fascinating article from Centauri Dreams.

Mice with damaged spine, enabled to walk again…Faster Please…

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

JANUARY 15, 2021
Designer cytokine makes paralyzed mice walk again

by

“Thus, gene therapy treatment of only a few nerve cells stimulated the axonal regeneration of various nerve cells in the brain and several motor tracts in the spinal cord simultaneously,” says Dietmar Fischer. “Ultimately, this enabled the previously paralyzed animals that received this treatment to start walking after two to three weeks. This came as a great surprise to us at the beginning, as it had never been shown to be possible before after full paraplegia.”

Above article in MedicalXPress via Phys.org

Let’s hope this paves the way for human treatment. Not that I don’t love cyborg exoskeletons in their place, but this is far better.

The Woke Purge is Beginning

From Maggies Farm: The Woke Purge is Beginning in total because it’s short and very clear:

“ Parler being dumped by Amazon Web Services wasn’t the first shot. Gab was in 2018. Gab is still around, though it is private now and subscription only. That may be the future for Parler and others like it which fill a need.

But going private isn’t the only solution, there are other solutions. But private is probably bes. However, being aware and adept at meeting the Progressive/Leftist challenges to free speech is essential. I am particularly fond of The Mises Institute’s approach.

This is a space in which I’m uniquely informed and aware. I’ve been seeing this slowly developing for years, and it’s been a growing concern. I’ve been told for years “oh it will never get that bad” and now it really is that bad. Many said Net Neutrality was necessary because the provider of the pipes would throttle, reduce and limit ability for sites and apps to work. Ironically, the purported supporters of Net Neutrality are the very same businesses who are throttling free speech – you know, the free speech they felt Net Neutrality was required to prevent OTHERS FROM THROTTLING THEM. Except, they will argue, ‘this is different’. It’s not. And Net Neutrality would have given these tech oligarchs more power to do this very kind of thing.

That said, because all this has happened slowly at first, then suddenly (due to the Capitol incident), Hemingway’s description of bankruptcy fits these moves restricting the freedoms on speech very well. When it’s taken, unlike bankruptcy – which is usually noticeable, this is going largely unnoticed and unmentioned. Or, at least, it’s being done in a manner many consider ‘acceptable’. Because the main beneficiaries are the very groups doing damage to free speech – the tech oligopolists. Who know ‘better than you’ about how things should be done, how you should live your life, and what you can or should say.

Don’t get me wrong. Tech in’t bad. Social media isn’t bad. It’s not inherently evil. It is ambivalent to morality. But individuals themselves can be good or bad, and as a result can have overbearing and long-lasting impacts on our realities. I’m sure Gutenberg was not loved by leaders of the day and “War of the Worlds” certainly sent many scurrying to talk of the damage radio can do. TV was described as a “vast wasteland” and Bill Gates felt there was little commercial value to the internet.

What is happening now requires individual awareness and action. It does NOT require fighting or violence. Just intelligence and smart, cordial and meaningful action. The Progessives are just starting, in my view. I don’t believe violence will help solve issues – it will be used to justify positions. But being louder, smarter and more aware will make a difference.Posted by Bulldog in Hot News & Misc. Short Subjects at 17:06 | Comments (10) | Trackbacks (0)
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Juno extended mission

Juno at Jupiter: Extended Mission Flybys of Galilean Moons
by PAUL GILSTER on JANUARY 11, 2021, Centauri Dreams

The proposed Juno extended mission (EM) would take advantage of the natural northward progression of the periapsis of the spacecraft’s orbit and the consequent lowering of spacecraft altitudes over Jupiter’s high northern latitudes. The EM would run until the end of the mission, with an expected duration of approximately four years. Under the High and Medium Scenarios, propulsive maneuvers would be utilized not only to target Jupiter-crossing longitude and perijove altitude, as during the prime mission, but also to target close flybys of Ganymede, Europa, and Io. The flyby maneuvers would act to shorten the spacecraft orbital period, yielding more close passes of Jupiter within a given time interval, and increase the rate of northward movement of spacecraft perijove. Under the Low scenario for EM operation, the satellite gravity assists and close satellite flybys would not be attempted.

from the Senior Review

Exciting new data from Jupiter inbound over the next 5 years. Just in time for this….

SpaceX starship at Jupiter (early concept)