Thursday, August 17, 2017

Neo-Nazis Need Not Apply

In the wake of the Charlottesville Emo-Boy Nazi riot, and the murder of Heather Heyer, there has been a movement to name and shame the Nazis who attended. Now, we have the firings- Nazis working in a Minnesota diner, a Nazi hotdog boy was fired, a Nazi chain-pizzeria cook was fired... it's pretty clear that a lot of employers do not wish to deal with the public outcry against Nazi employees.

The real sad joke is that most of these guys seem to be in low-level service industry jobs- they are hardly emblematic of the 'superior race' they claim to represent. Meanwhile, the public face of the current neo-Nazi movement is a trust-fund kid, the son of a wealthy cotton heiress. This is a guy who probably won't have to work a day in his life, a guy who doesn't have to face the prospect of being fired for his shitbaggery. He reminds me of a Confederate plantation owner who was exempted from conscription precisely because of his wealth, while poor boys were expected to jump into the meat grinder for him.

I have no sympathy for the Nazi-morons who have lost their jobs, and find this tweet hilarious:

That being said, these young alt-right scrotes really need to realize that they are being exploited by creeps like Spencer, lest they face consequences that they aren't equipped to face... that sort of thing is no fun.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Secret Science Club Post-Lecture Recap: Fabulous Fins

Last night, I headed down to the beautiful Bell House, in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn, for this month's Secret Science Club lecture, featuring Dr Brooke Flammang, director of the Fluid Locomotion Lab at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Dr Flammang began the lecture by noting that her field is comparative biomechanics, a field for which there is no specific degree because it combines anatomy and physiology, evolutionary biology, engineering, computer modeling and robotics... Dr Flammang characterized her work by quoting Alfred North Whitehead: “It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.” She advised us, be curious, make observations, ask questions.

Dr Flammang then asked the question, why study fish? Fish are diverse, with many morphologies, including a variety of different fin types. There are fins adapted for swimming, fins adapted for walking, and fins adapted for adhesion. Dr Flammang's particular interest in fins was born out of boredom- while sitting in a lab dissecting a spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias), she decided to investigate more than the usual face muscles and flanks of the little shark, and cut into the tail. In the tail, she found a bright red muscle which was not described in the literature. She dubbed this muscle the radialis muscle, and it is found in all shark species and in the torpedo rays. Certain sharks use their tails for different purposes besides swimming- thresher sharks use their extended upper fin to stun prey with a cavitation effect. Fast sharks, slow sharks- all have a radialis muscle.

To study the radialis muscle, Dr Flammang needed to make sharks swim, using a pool with a flowing current, much like a 'treadmill for sharks' with variable speed settings. Dr Flammang showed a video of a swimming shark, noting that there is little movement, small amplitude, near the shark's head and high amplitude near the tail, which moves a lot. As the sharks swam, the action of their muscles was measured using electromyography, and live recordings of muscle activity were obtained. Older models of shark fluid dynamics were two-dimensional, but Dr Flammang created a three-dimensional model to obtain a more complete understanding of what was occurring. Dr Flammang joked that previous researchers' lasers weren't as cool as hers- pulses of light from the lasers illuminated particles in the water and the movement of the particles was recorded. The typical bony fish creates a donut-shaped vortex, a ring of rotating fluid around the 'jet' of water, with its tail action (vortices like these are also produced by a duck's feet, or a piece of plastic used as a paddle). A shark, using its centralis muscle to regulate the stiffness of its tail, produces a double-vortex. Bu changing the stiffness of its tail, a shark produces thrust very efficiently- Dr Flammang joked that it is important to be stiff, and its important to be flexible.

Dr Flammang then went on to describe the bony fishes, using the bluegill (Lepomis macrochirus) as a good example- bluegill are prime test subjects, being easily kept in a lab, and being the subject of a large existing body of literature. In a typical ray-finned bony fish, there are a few spiny supporting elements giving structure to a thin membrane. There are no muscles in the fin itself, but the movement of muscles at the base of fins can alter the fin shape. The rays are flexible bones, segmented at the distal end, more rigid at the proximal end. If a fish's fins were too flexible, they would be unable to push water.

Fish live in complex habitats, and many bony fish evolved to inhabit small spaces. The rapid speciation of the bony fishes coincided with rise of corals- when corals became common, new niches opened up for the bony fish, which evolved new ways to move, find food, escape from predators, and protect their young. The Permian/Triassic mass extinction ended up being very good for ray-finned fishes.

In order to test the maneuverability of a bluegill, Dr Flammang set up an obstacle course for the fish. To impede vision, obstacle trials can be held in low light conditions. To interfere with the fish's ability to sense fluid perturbations, the fish's lateral line can be numbed. Under conditions of sensory deprivation, the fish will touch the obstacles with its fins as it navigates the course:

Fins are sensors as well as propulsion devices.

Dr Flammang then brought up a hypothetical request from the Navy in which someone, hypothetically, wished to have a device which could, hypothetically, navigate a harbor filled with obstacles, what would this hypothetical device be based on. Dr Flammang then discussed a couple of robot-fish models-a speedy 'robo-tuna' which could deliver payloads on a straightaway course, or an ocean glider which would be effective in picking up underwater samples. For harbor navigation, though, the bluegill would be the best model on which to base this hypothetical robot. Such a robot would have flexible pectoral fins and transducers to mimic the lateral line. Hovering in the water is a hard effect to achieve, thou, so more information is needed.

Dr Flammang then talked about the use of fins for walking, using the recently discovered Cryptotora thamicola, a blind cave fish which can climb up waterfalls. Dr Flammang was introduced to this fish by her colleague Daphne Soares, who was studying the loss of visual senses in cave-dwelling organisms. Dr Flammang joked that the fish had a strange way of swimming- walking on its fins with its back out of the water:

While mudskippers use their pectoral fins as crutches on land, the blind climbing cave fish moves like a tetrapod:

When the fish swims, it undulates in a typical wave-form, but when it climbs, it exhibits the lateral-sequence, diagonal-couplet gait (PDF) used by salamanders, lizards, or dogs. The fishes are too rare to be taken from the caves they inhabit, so they were scanned in the cave using equipment from a local dental school. A typical bony fish pelvis is a rudimentary basipterygium which supports the pelvic fins- the pelvic fins don't exert much force, acting as a keel, so there is no need for a rigid connection to the vertebral column. The vertebra of a typical marine bony fish doesn't have to support the fish's weight, so the individual bones don't interlock. In a salamander, the hip bones, the ilium, ischium, and pubis are fused to the vertebral column, which is interconnected by zygapophyses in order to allow it to bear the animal's weight without buckling. In Cryptotora thamicola, a flare of bone mimics the ilium. It is not known where these bones originated, whether the process was pelvis-to-spine or spine-to-pelvis. Fish do possess Hox genes which can provide a genetic underpinning for limb development.

The tetrapods evolved from fishes during the Devonian period, with lobe-finned fish like Eusthenopteron giving rise to such basal tetrapods as Tiktaalik and Acanthostega:

Dr Flammang stressed the need for more fossils of basal tetrapods in order to analyze their pelvises... we need more fossils of things that could walk on land. Physics don't change, but there are multiple strategies to move on land. We have understanding of the mechanical needs for locomotion, we just need more specimens- basal tetrapod trackways are a good source of information.

The last subject of Dr Flammang's lecture concerned fins used for adhesion- specifically the specialized fins of remoras. There are eight species of remoras, some of which have specific hosts. Remoras, which attach themselves to other denizens of the sea, gain great monbility advantages- they can attach themselves to white marlins, which can attain a speed of 40mph. Dr Flammang noted that nobody had looked at the remora's adhesive disc, which has a fabled strength. Pliny attributed Mark Antony's defeat at the battle of Actium to a remora interfering with the movement of his vessel. Remora's have been used to catch sea turtles- a line is attached to the remora, and the turtle is pulled up with the fish attached. It was largely believed that the remora's adhesive disk was a glorified suction cup. Suction cups are often used to attach sensors to whales in order to study their behavior. The remora, with its ability to adhere to a host despite changes of pressure, velocity, drag, and temperature, would be a good model for marine adhesives. Remora's closest relatives are cobias, which look like remoras without 'hats'. The remora disk evolved from the dorsal fin spines of a cobia-like ancestor. The spines migrated forward onto the head and spread into plates with spinules. The adhesive requirements of remoras are stringent- a remora attached to a blue whale travels at 50km/hr, about three-hundred times the remora's own speed, yet the remoras don't slide down the whale's body. The whales can dive hundreds of meters with seconds, exposing the remora to vast temperature and pressure changes.

NOTE... I will finish this post tomorrow... gotta go drink beer now, again.

CONTINUATION: Dr Flammang then went on to discuss the functional morphology of the remora disc- there is a fleshy lip around the lamellar array, and the spinules are of different lengths... Dr Flammang likened them to 'a bad comb'. Each lamella has individual muscular control, and the lamellae can move in order to engage the toothy spinules in order to create negative pressure and enough friction to overcome drag. The friction creating mechanism acts in a ratcheting fashion to lock the remora in place. In order to minimize drag, remoras will seek an optimal placement on a host. In order to prevent detachment through fluid seep caused by pressure differentials, the fleshy lip around the remora disc has viscoelastic properties, and mucus to help create a seal. Dr Flammang advised us that the performance of suction cups can be improved by applying mayonnaise or KY jelly to the suction cup to improve the seal.

When Dr Flammang dissected a remora, she found a series of blood vessels, a 'balloon of blood' under the disc. Remoras evolved to have anterior cardinal veins on top of their heads rather than inside their crania. By standing up, the lamellae press down on the anterior cardinal vein in order to create passive hydraulic control to prevent seep and improve suction.

Dr Flammang noted that no artificial products can minic remora adhesion... yet. Being able to mimic remora adhesion would improve the attachment of sensors to subjects' bodies- glue or sutures can cause tissue necrosis. There are medical applications- people have different degrees of hairness and moistness, so an EKG electrode able to adhere like a remora disc would be an improvement over current models.

After the lecture, Dr Flammang conducted a question-and-answer session. The first question involved marine mammals swimming abilities, and Dr Flammang noted that cetaceans are secondarily aquatic, so their tetrapod morphology is imposed on their swimming style- it's easier for mammals to flex their spines back and forth rather than side-to-side. A wag asked Dr Flammang if punching a shark in the nose will stun it, and Dr Flammang noted that it is difficult to punch things underwater, so she doesn't sugggest it... she did offer the advice that sharks are attracted to the scent of urine, so try not to pee in the sea. Regarding a question about fish in space, Dr Flammang noted that their locomotion hasn't been studied in any detail, but she totally wants to try it. Some Bastard in the audience asked her if the locomotion of flatfish has been studied, and she noted that one of her colleagues has begun to study them, and one avenue of inquiry involves the fishes' ability to stiffen their skins- the most important locomotor activities that flatfish have adapted to excel at seem to be attaining lift, and burrowing.

Once again, the Secret Science Club delivered an amazing lecture- kudos to Dr Flammang, Margaret and Dorian, and the staff of the beautiful Bell House. I have often said that I am most interested in biological topics, so this lecture was particularly suited to me. Dr Flammang knocked it out of the park, hitting that 'Secret Science Sweet Spot' with her combination of humor (I'm still chuckling about her discovery of the centralis muscle), description of methodology, richness of information, and great video footage. Here's a hearty high five to the good doctor.

After the lecture, Dr Flammang hung out with us for a while, but was unable to join us in a drink because she's expecting twins in November- another high five! Talking about designing robots, she mentioned that she knows Dr John Long of Vassar who lectured on the evolving swimming robot... there's an effect I call 'Secret Science Synergy', the cumulative effect of attending multiple lectures improves each lecture.

Here's a video of Dr Flammang discussing modeling robots on marine animals:

Pour yourself a libation, and soak in that SCIENCE!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

I figured today would be a good day to decompress, to step away from political topics for a while. I will be heading down to Brooklyn to drink some beer and attend this month's Secret Science Club lecture. As a break from the seemingly continuous horror-show, I figured I'd post a picture of my beloved Ginger, who I haven't blogged about since the death of her brother Fred, who I still miss terribly. Last night, Ginger was in an especially affectionate mood, and I got a picture of the two of us playing around:

I'll leave it to my readers to determine which one of us is the beauty and which is the beast.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Heather Heyer, Killed by a Nazi

Today, as is typical of this year, has been a bizarre blend of a fantastic personal life and an existential shitshow... On the job, I had two friends who I met on the job stop by specifically to see me. I met them four years ago, shortly after they first met, and now they are married and living in Connecticut. They promised to contact me before stopping by the next time, so we can hang out longer. I was heartened by their visit, just the fact that I have become friends with a bunch of 'regulars', people who just happened to stop by the place, is heartening to me.

On an existential level, I can't help but be angered by the senseless death of Heather Heyer at the hands of a Nazi cretin. There was a local rally in support of the Charlottesville victims, but my work schedule conflicted with my ability to attend. It's important to acknowledge Ms. Heyer's life, and to make sure that her activism was not in vain.

I sincerely hope that the aftermath of the Charlottesville rally marks a turning point, when all but the most incorrigible of the 'deplorables' realizes that this whole neo-Nazi thing has gone too far. I'm not holding my breath, though.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Tiki Khaki Nazi Rally

Today has been pretty surreal. As is typical on a summer Saturday, I got back from work around 5AM, went to bed, and woke up at 11AM to listen to Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me and Ask Me Another, and went back to sleep for another hour. When I finally woke up to prepare for the workday, I put on the local CBS news radio affiliate to check out the coverage of the Unite the Right rally. As is typical these days, the media reports trailed the on-the-ground social media coverage.

It wasn't until I got to work that I learned that one counterprotestor was killed and nineteen injured in a vehicular assault, and that two police officers were killed in a helicopter crash in the vicinity. Honestly, I thought the rally would be more violent, and hope that the attendees disperse back to their lairs.

The optics of the demonstration were surreal, from the pro-Confederate tiki torch-lit rally last night (insert Traitor Vic's quip here) to the khakis-and-polo business casual look accented with homemade shields. The whole thing smacked of the dumbest LARP ever until this asshole plowed into a crowd, ISIS extremist style.

The whole affair was, as Hillary Clinton would put it, deplorable, but it could have been so much worse. I sincerely hope that any of the attendees who showed up merely for the keks reconsiders the path on which they have been treading.

Friday, August 11, 2017


Last month, a European far-right group decided to obtain a boat in order to disrupt the marine passage of refugees fleeing to Europe. So far, things haven't been going well for them- they were deported from Cyprus for human-trafficking and have been discouraged from entering ports from Greece to Tunisia.

The ill-starred voyage of the right-wingers' boat continues to deteriorate, as the vessel has experienced a malfunction, prompting one of the NGO's the crew has vowed to oppose to offer assistance, according to maritime law. The righties declined the aid, but it remains to be seen if they will need succor in the future, because the boat they chartered seems to be not-seaworthy.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Your Neurotic Ladybrains Can't Handle High-Stress Jobs!

I haven't had time to wade through the MoRAss that is now-fired Google employee James Damore's manifestbro, but a cursory scan of the document reveals this little tidbit of absolute bullshit:

Women, on average, have more:

Neuroticism (higher anxiety, lower stress tolerance).This may contribute to the higher levels of anxiety women report on Googlegeist and to the lower number of women in high stress jobs.

Lower number of women is high stress jobs, eh? Let's look at the statistics for nurses, who perform some of the most high-stress jobs there are, involving triage, exposure to trauma victims and decedents, the possibility of assault, exposure to pathogens... you get the drift- approximately 91% of nurses in the United States are women. Now, I understand that the average tech-bro is under a lot of stress, but that's nothing compared to the pressure that a nurse at, say, Lincoln Medical Center or Bellvue Hospital faces.

Something weird happens when these alt-right tech bros run up against women in STEM fields, something I posted about five months ago... sexism is rampant in Silicon Valley, and people who should know better are taken in by sexist evo-psych bafflegab.

Of course, the firing of Damore isn't merely due to his manifesto, the fact that he lied about his academic credentials plays into the matter as well. I'm sure he'll blame some woman for this deception, because feminism hurts mendacity.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Embodiment of Nuclear Fears

This has been a weird week... the very week of the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing has seen an escalation of fears that North Korea will join the 'nuclear club', and the death of Haruo Nakajima, the actor who played the monster in the 1954 film Gojira. The eponymous monster played an embodiment of the national post-traumatic stress disorder felt by the Japanese populace after World War 2, especially the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Mr Nakajima's portray of the hulking villain of the movie was nothing short of heroic, as the suit he wore weighed more than two-hundred pounds:

"Since materials were so rare, things like rubber were not available. Instead, they used ready-mixed concrete, so it weighed about 100kg. It was so heavy and hot, and with the lighting, it was even hot just to touch it. I was sweating all over my face, but I did the best I could."

Being perfectly suited to the role of Gojira, Mr Nakajima continued to play the role of the monster throughout the transition of kaiju movies from horror to science-fantasy to camp until 1972, when he played the monster in his throwdown with Gigan:

The 'kaiju vs kaiju' movies which featured the formerly villainous Gojira as a hero form the greatest 'professional wrestling' act in entertainment history, with the horror of destruction undercut by the 'moves' of the outrageous monster combatants. The tragedy of the 1954 film transitioned into farce... which brings us to our current nuclear kerfuffle. The Trump vs Kim rhetorical rumble is an outlandish one... a fight between two spoiled narcissists with bad haircuts who never could have succeeded on their own merits. It's like Trumpzilla:

Versus Kim Ghidorah:

Of course, while farcical, this conflict is also deadly serious, and potentially tragic. The last thing we need is a Commander in Chief who ad-libs nuclear threats while the U.S. diplomatic corps is being hollowed out. Trump sounds as loony as Kim Jong Un, being as bellicose and ignorant of consequences as North Korea's boy wonder.

I really feel bad for the people of Guam, Japan, and especially South Korea (Seoul being vulnerable to artillery strikes). For a reasoned analysis of the Korea issue, I recommend reading mikey's take. In the meantime, I really can't freak out over this issue... I'd like to think that cooler heads will prevail while the two kaiju-in-chiefs confine their conflict to a war of words. In the meantime, I think I will honor the life and career of Mr Nakajima by listening to Akira Ifukube's glorious theme to the Gojira movies:

Mr Nakajima's turn in the suit ranged from 'figure of nuclear horror' to 'big green defender of the planet'. I don't expect a heel-face turn from either Trump or Kim, neither of them has the brains of a radioactive dinosaur.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Orange Moron, Purple Heart

This being the anniversary of the creation of the Purple Heart, Vulgarmort is tweeting about his awarding of the Purple Heart to First Sergeant Alvaro Barrientos, who lost part of his right leg fighting in Afghanistan:

Being someone who enjoys the use of language, I am pissed as hell at Trump's offer of 'congratulations' to Sgt Barrientos. Thank the man for his service, talk about his valor, his sacrifice, reassure him that he will be taken care of by the government and people he sacrificed so much for... but congratulations? The man was maimed for life, that's no cause for congratulations.

The problem with Donald Trump is that he has never experienced privation, never chosen a path of service, never sacrificed a blessed thing for the good of his fellow human beings. He has no concept of sacrifice, so he can glibly congratulate an individual on the loss of a leg. He is the sort of individual who can unthinkingly say that he always wanted a Purple Heart:

He got it 'the easy way', when a decent human being would have respectfully refused such stolen valor. Speaking of stolen valor, here is Trump criticizing Senator Richard Blumenthal for prevaricating about his military career, despite the flippant attitude that Trump has displayed regarding his own conduct during that era.

The last word on Trump's statements regarding the Purple Heart was Tammy Duckworth's statement: "this is how one usually looks when you are awarded the Purple Heart. Nothing easy about it."

Sunday, August 6, 2017

The Fight to Unite the Right

From the cartoon froggy swamps of the new Right comes a Unite the Right rally scheduled to take place this coming Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, a 'do-over' of this Spring's hairdo-fascist rally to prevent a statue of traitor Robert E. Lee from being removed from a park.

In the runup to the rally, which even organizers (not gonna link) only expect under a thousand emo-boy Nazis to attend, the alt-right is beset by bickering. In late June, there were two opposed 'right-wing' rallies in DC, neither of which was attended by more than one-hundred righties... the 'alt-right' contingent disparages the insufficiently anti-semitic contigent as 'alt-lite'.

Last week, one of the leading loons of the 'alt-lite', in a sort of 'Brokeback Bro' moment, decided that he was going to give up Trump in order to pursue his 'MRA' grift. Another alt-lite figure, one of the participants in the stupid Shakespeare fauxtrage, claimed that her old, rotten tire had been slashed, drew derision from wags both left and right, including some extremely anti-semitic abuse from the Anime-Nazi crowd.

The broader right-wing coalition is pretty much done, even if it ever truly existed. I believe that a sizable subset of the Trump coalition is merely motivated by trolling, and that the three percenters and the 4channers don't mix well. I don't see the upcoming rally as something which will go well for the righties. I guess we'll see what sort of shitstorm results next Saturday.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

A Somewhat Shitty Day

Today, the shit went down at work... literally. In the early morning, thankfully after I left, and before the site opened up to the public, a brief-yet-torrential downpour hit the area. The site is in the valley of a minor tributary of the mighty Hudson, the vicinity basically acts as a funnel, with our site near the bottom. The building is mid 20th Century vintage, and apparently the storm sewers for the building and the town come together in such a manner that our pipes get overwhelmed during heavy storms. This also throws our sewage line out of whack.

Needless to say, the basement was flooded with some not-too-clean water... very not-too-clean water. My first indication that something was amiss when I arrived a five in the afternoon was the amount of sediment and debris deposited in our parking lot- sand, gravel, twigs, trash forming a small embankment against the curb. The second indication was the fact that our shop staff wasn't looking too happy. Luckily, our weekend cleaning contractors were doing yeomen's work- our two usual cleaners were working hard, and the owner of the company, to his credit, was downstairs running a wet-vac, spraying disinfectant, and setting up large industrial fans to dry the basement. The last time I saw him was under similar circumstances, a previous flood, after which he stayed until midnight doing clean-up duty. This afternoon, I joked, "We've got to stop meeting like this."

These occurrences are taking place about twice a year now. My boss, who is an architect, pored over the plans of the building and figured that running new sewer lines would have a six-figure price tag. Reading between the lines, I figured that nothing is going to be done about this situation. My office (such as it is, I am pretty much all over the place, indoors and out) is on the ground floor, so I can deal with the aftermath of these unpleasant episodes, but certain co-workers of mine have basement offices. As is usual, I can't complain about my work situation, I don't have it as shitty as others do.

Friday, August 4, 2017

An Instant Favorite in the Culinary Canon

I guess this is purslane obsession week for me, two posts about the stuff in one sennight... am I going crazy? Crazy for purslane! In this comment thread at Cooking with EL CHAVO!, I found this comment to be interesting:

The traditional Mexicano recipe for verdolagas is with pork, but years ago a Mexicano I used to work in construction with showed my a good way to eat it fresh.
He took a bunch of fresh verdolagas and put it in a hot flour tortilla with some slices of avocado, some slices of queso fresco, and one or two green onions. Then he dripped on some El Pato salsa and voila a tasty and fast burrrito de verduras.

While I didn't have green onions, I came across a nice purslane patch, picked the tips off the stalks, and served it on a corn tortilla with some avocado, queso fresco, a squeeze of lime, and a judicious amount of hot sauce:

It was a nice balance of tart purslane and lime juice, salty queso, creamy avocado, and a touch of heat... a perfect no-cook summer snack. Having the store-bought ingredients in the office fridge, and a bumper crop of purslane on the grounds, it looks like I've got my work-meals taken care of for a week. I might even open up a concession stand on site: Calvo Loco Taco.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why Couldn't He Be Like Endicott?

One of the strangest local stories today was hip-hop pioneer Kidd Creole's fatal stabbing of a homeless man. Creole, born Nathaniel Glover, was pushed while he was close to the edge and lost his head. The report is that Glover stabbed the victim because he thought the guy was hitting on him, which is a pretty crappy reason to shank a guy. Protip: If you are carrying a steak knife up your sleeve, you need to reconsider your life choices. The victim was a level 2 sex offender, so if Glover hadn't fled the scene of the crime, he probably would have been able to make a self-defense claim.

New York City actually had a Kid Creole, August Darnell, as well as a Kidd Creole. Kid Creole's music had a bit of a Latin/Caribbean flair. The post title refers to a song by Kid Creole, which describes a character that Kidd Creole should have emulated:

Endicott wouldn't shank a man,
Endicott won't land in the can.

At any rate, it looks like Kidd Creole stands a good chance of ending up in the pokey, but when he gets out he may very well become a stool pigeon, in a process that Kid Creole described:

Ha-cha-cha-cha, indeed.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Purty Purslane

It's been a busy day for me- I left Virginia around noontime and drove to the vicinity of my workplace rather than to my home. I had enough time to do a little grocery shopping and then hit a local Korean restaurant for some bibimbap before clocking in. When I got the work, I called mom to let her know that I had arrived safely. The drive home wasn't too bad, though I did pass through occasional bands of heavy rain, and at times it looked like apocalyptic thunderstorms were pounding the regions to the sides of the highway.

Needless to say, I was blissfully ignorant of current events until I reached the outskirts of the New York metro area, where I could pick up the local CBS radio affiliate. I still have some catching up to do. I figure I'll put up a quick post, and then get to the business of catching up...

One of the ornamental potted plants my mom has is a fancy Portulaca, which longtime readers will recognize as an old friend:

I must say, those are some pretty flowers- this is a much showier plant than its scrappy cousins growing up through the cracks in the sidewalk... its leaves are every bit as delicious, though.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Story of the Week

I roll my eyes every time a media outlet heaps encomium on Elon Musk. I mean, this guy is not going to single-handedly save humanity from itself. It is with this attitude that I present this tale.

My sister and her husband are both bona fide rocket scientists- my sister put in her time in the Ait Force, got a masters in chemical engineering, and started working on satellite battery systems when her obligation was fulfilled. She still works for a company which designs satellites for the private sector.

Her husband recently retired from the Air Force, and holds a PhD in aeronautical/astronautical engineering. Atone point, he was the "space guy", advising a general on all matters orbital and beyond. As his career was winding down, he was looking for a job which would put his formidable-yet-esoteric skills to use. Almost inevitably, he interviewed with SpaceX, even though he also finds Musk annoying.

In the course of the interview process, he is speaking with the man himself, and Musk asks him how he would go about drastically reducing the cost of putting payloads in orbit. After talking about the limits of material science and the difficulty in formulating more powerful rocket fuels, my brother-in-law, being a science-fiction nerd as well as a science fact nerd, asks Musk if he has considered building a space elevator. At this, Musk gets miffed and starts on a tirade about how stupid the concept of a space elevator is, and the two of them get into a spirited back-and-forth for the rest of the time.

A couple of days later, my brother-in-law's contact at SpaceX calls him and says, "Mr Musk is interested in hiring you."

My brother-in-law replied, "That's funny, all we did is argue for forty-five minutes."

"If he wasn't interested, he would have ended the interview after five minutes."

I know you ruin a joke by going on after the punchline, but the Air Force wouldn't release him early to take the job, but he landed a prestigious wonk job afterwards, and he doesn't have to argue with an overrated tech bro these days.