Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Space

Friday February 28 2014

Yesterday evening, just as the place was closing, I spotted (and took bad photos of) a promising sofa, hiding in among lots of other clutter in something called the Futon Centre, in Tottenham Court Road:

image

Staff were trickling out the side door, even as I was seeing this for the first time.  Can I take a closer look, just for a second?  Yes, just a quick one, they said.  But, look on the website, they said.

So I did, and this is what I found:

image

Three hundred and fifty quid.  As you can see there is a choice of colours.  If on closer inspection (tomorrow?) I find that I like it, and that it is not too deep front-to-back, I am in the mood to take the hit.  After all, a sofa is for life, not just for the next few weeks, and I think I do like it already.  Deep it may be, deeper than I would like.  But almost all of the other sofas I’ve looked at are hideous monster sofas with arms on them like the arms of a person starring in a television show called Embarrassing Arms.  I already have a monster armed sofa like this and could not bear another.  Those arms are two extra people.

The question is: Can I get it up my stairs?  Because of Health and Safety the people who deliver it won’t do that.  How the hell does that make the world any safer?

Wish me luck.  If this suits, then I will win that fifty quid, in the limited sense of not having to give it to anyone else.

Wednesday May 25 2011

First, the current BrianMicklethwaitDotCom endorsee for American President, Gary Johnson, being interviewed by PJTV, which you can view here.

Johnson is older, thinner, duller, better dressed, more evasive, more “political” than I expected him to be, based on this.  In short, not what I expect a Gary to be.  I guess American Garies are not like our Garies.  Plus, he is a real politician, having been a real governor of a real state.  But then, I don’t expect a Gary to be a real politician.

He goes on about drugs being a medical condition, rather than a choice about how to have fun which is what I think it is, a choice which may have consequences, but not criminal-law consequences unless (under the influence of drugs) you commit an actual crime, besides the non-crime of using drugs I mean.  Talking about drugs as a healthcare problem legitimises all kinds of interventions and general bossing around.  But still, whatever his spiel, he wants to move things in the right direction.

Does Gary J have any chance?  This guy says he is better than Ron Paul.

Next up, a wondrously biased attack on the idea of internet neutrality, from someone called Crowder, viewable here.

Finally, rocket scientist Jeff Greason, expressing optimism about space exploration, despite and because of having become totally disillusioned with NASA.

About a fortnight ago, I was so impressed by this that I started writing down what Greason was saying, with a view to quoting it on Samizdata.  But I never wanted to stop quoting, and gave up when something else intervened and I never got back to it.  Does anyone know if the words of this performance have already been written down, to save me the bother of doing it?

Tuesday October 12 2010

So I went looking for flat photos of the latest Branson spaceship escapade, reported on, among many other spots, here.  This will do:

image

As will this:

image

I found those here.

Do you remember when Branson was pratting about in balloons?  Trying to break one of those fatuous, made up just to get into the Guinness Book of Records, records, for pratting round the world in a balloon faster than the previous prat in another balloon?  When he was doing all that, I was ready to believe the worst that lefty book writers were writing about him.  It was all stolen, he rips everybody off, he’s actually poor, his empire is balanced on nothing and will crash, blah blah.  But now, all that could still be entirely true but I do not care, because whereas balloons were stupid, rockets are cool.  More the point, rockets are great.

It’s the difference between pseudo-adventure and the real thing, between doing something pointlessly dangerous, and getting seriously and helpfully involved in something that is just as dangerous but which is truly going somewhere and truly achieving something.

I can’t believe I’m the only one who thinks like this about this extreme contrast.  To put it another way, I think that Branson’s ballooning did nothing for the Virgin brand and maybe a minus quantity, but that these rockets are already paying for themselves many times over.

I can remember having libertarian conversations about space travel, back in the eighties and seventies.  We used to fantasise about how space travel ought to be paid for, as opposed to how it was paid for (and still is mostly).  And what we fantasised was: this.

Friday August 06 2010

Photoed by me at Farnborough, minutes after photoing this cat:

imageimageimage

I particularly like the shovel in the bumper.  See the picture on the left.

Actually it all makes sense, despite my immediate objections on the day.  Supacat is the brand of the vehicle I photoed.  The Bloodhound is one of those spaceships with wheels that people drive across dried out lakes in America, trying to break the world land speed record.  And Falcon is the name of the company that makes the rockets for the spaceship with wheels.  The Supacat carries the Falcons for the Bloodhound, which is why it calls itself the Bloodhound quiver.  Clear?  I think so.

I’m still confused, however, about whether the “Falcon Project” linked to there is anything to do with this.  I believe they’re two separate enterprises, but comments agreeing with that or disagreeing with that would be very welcome.

Friday July 16 2010

imageThe blog posting (linked to from here) is entitled Exploitation Movie Posters 1939 - 1960.  But why exactly are these movies referred to as “Exploitation” movies?  Who is being exploited?  And in what way is Apocalypse Now any less exploitative than the movies advertised in these particular posters?

I suppose the notion being got at is that it is our desire for pure and utterly undiluted entertainment, with no morally lofty excuse attached, to do with being educated, uplifted, improved, that is being “exploited”.  Our baser instincts are being played to.  Our ids are being massaged, while our egos look down, aghast.

Being a libertarian, I am particularly wary of the word “exploitation”, blurring as it does, often deliberately, the boundary between being used in a way that you consent to (often enthusiastically) and being used (often outrageously) in a way that you do not consent to.  Dare to favour the first and you get accused of favouring the second.  Which is a difficult trick to combat if you don’t realise what the trick is.

Putting the point about ids and egos in the language of consent, to talk of “exploitation” movies is to suggest that while our base appetites “consent” to watch movies like these, we ourselves do not.  We are at the mercy of our appetites, who are co-opted by our “exploiters”.  Our appetites betray us, enslave us even.  But controlling our base appetites, if that’s what we decide they are, is for us to do for ourselves.

Personally I don’t think that there is anything wrong about enjoying Cat-Women of the Moon.

Sunday May 30 2010

Incoming from Michael J:

Look around, ye mighty, and despair ...

Indeed.  Follow the link and gaze upon some truly excellent photos of world class USSR cranage and clutter, in a state of advance decay:

image

Not being a reader of Russian, I was only semi-sure what this stuff once was.  Pictures like this settled the matter:

image

Although that piece of decay seems to have been given a facelift.  It reminds me of how they make dead bodies look their best for funerals, but don’t actually fool anyone.

Saturday February 20 2010

Almost the ultimate vertically thin picture - five hundred across, just seven from top to bottom:

image

Sliced from this.  Via here.

Monday December 21 2009

First, the moment the much delayed Boeing 787 Dreamliner lifted off for the very first time.  Note the red helicopter flying alongside photo-ing everything:

image

Second, a particularly fabulous snap taken by Dale Amon of SpaceShipTwo (already featured here a fortnight ago), one of a set posted at Samizdata on Saturday:

image

Clearly that photo is also an obvious candidate for cropping above and below, to make this blog posting shorter, but I include everything in Dale’s original shot, because all that darkness is essential to the total effect, as Dale himself makes clear:

It came from out of the dark of a Western night ... the first commercial Space Ship.  Am I really here? Is it really here?

Far out man.

My thanks to Dale for emailing me a bigger version of this photo than the one at Samizdata However, I think the shot works best when still rather small.  The plane itself, in this shot, is small and distant, like a magical jewel.  Blowing it up in all its over-lit bigness adds little.

Finally, another highly evocative airplane shot, this time of Air Force One, just after landing in Washington, President Obama having just returned from the Copenhagen Conference.

image

Richard North featured this photo on his blog on Saturday.  North knows and I know and you surely know: climate isn’t weather.  But since the AGW mob blame every slightest blip in the weather on AGW (put it like this: I hear no denials from that quarter when this is done by, e.g., the BBC), they deserve the same treatment back at them, now that they are on the back foot in this huge argument.

So, two photos of morally excellent capitalist ambition.  And one of a morally very dubious attempt to curb and shackle such ambitions.  The first two seem to be succeeding, albeit with much difficulty, as you would expect.  The third project?  Everything still to play for there, but here’s hoping that fails.

Three airplane photos
Back lit by the sun
“This is fun!”
Very very low cost kitten in space