We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Now it can be told…

As I am now part of the core engineering team on a spaceship, I am much more limited in what I can say on certain subjects than I was as a consultant assisting on early stage projects in the previous decade. Here is a picture of our baby, the XCOR Lynx, as it sits in our hangar. My job is its ‘nervous system’, the sensor systems and onboard data collection and storage and use.

XCOR Lynx Spaceplane under construction

XCOR Lynx Spaceplane under construction

In the spirit of the Guardian…

I think it is safe to say that the first Social Justice Warrior to be spaced has already been born.

(For non-spacers, that means “tossed out of the airlock… without a space suit.”)

Age of Adaline

Friday night is usually my movie night out here in the desert and there was nothing in particular I really wanted to see. After perusing the options, I settled for ‘Age of Adaline‘, the story of a woman of the 1920’s who through an accident and a process explained through a bunch of made up technological gobbledygook stopped ageing at twenty-nine.

Part of the movie was fairly good, a study in the fear of being different and the pain of watching those you love grow old while you remain the same and try to stay under the radar.

There were two things I found wrong with the movie, both of which are ignorable if you just want an unusual love story. Whomever came up with the narrated ‘scientific’ explanations should be taken out and shot. They were painfully idiotic. The script writers would have been better off if they’d just said she had a genetic mutation which did not kick in until her body was put under a life threatening stress she’d never before experienced.

And second of all… Hollywood cannot deal with the idea of people living long lives. They believe that healthy extended lives must by necessity lead to boredom and emotional problems. They nearly always fall back on a plot device that anyone who has it will yearn for a return to the Mayfly life or even immediate joyful death as in “Zardoz”. This movie is not as bad as some. It hints that the accidental process which gave her long life would be discovered in 2035, with the implication that perhaps it was then used.

What I find humorous is that very wealthy A list actors, producers and directors will be among the first in line to embrace the initially very costly technologies of life extension and anti-aging technologies, perhaps right behind the techies who are already inventing it for real in labs all over this planet. They will sing a wholly different tune when it is they who face age and death as fashion options.

Personally, I long for the day when we eliminate both of the presently unavoidable scourges of humanity: death and taxes!

Marco Rubio just struck out

As time goes on we learn more about the possible GOP candidates and which ones might be satisfactory to libertarians.

It appears that Marco Rubio is not going to be amongst that number if this report from CATO is correct.

Self defence

I am certain it comes as no surprise to Samizdata readers that States are interested in penetrating your computers and stealing private communications without bothering about the legal niceties of search warrants issued by judges whom they do not own. But some things come as a surprise to even those of us who watch such things. I had not heard of this particular attack before. Spoofing, in conjunction with other attacks to pin down the real source while the spoofer gets in, have been around awhile. Some were dependant on analysis of the generated packet sequence numbers to allow a complete hijack.

None seem as practical as the web page substitution technique discussed in this Wired article. It is somewhat technical but useful reading if you want to keep up with what the enemies of liberty and rule of law are up to. Even more importantly, the article shows there are ways of keeping the bad guys out of your computers. The method may not be as satisfying as dropping a nuke on the SOB’s, but hey, you work with what you got.

Heroes and cowards

Over a period of years we at Samizdata have noted cases of cowardice in those who are paid to rescue fellow humans in mortal danger. At least one organization maintains that level of bravery. The US Coast Guard motto is: “You have to go out. You don’t have to come back.” This is why I have no sympathy whatever for those who follow ‘regulations’ and hide behind them rather than do their jobs. If they did not wish to put their life on the line to save others, they should have found a different line of work.

If you want to see what real courage looks like, watch the early part of this documentary about an airline crash in DC. It was caught on camera and it shows a standard to which all rescue personnel should aspire.

Incidentally… I was working on a job in Falls Church at the time and I believe I had been across that bridge earlier the same day.

ULA is not going down without a fight

The ULA (United Launch Alliance) press conference is worth viewing if you are interested in the space industry. Their upper-stage engine design is quite interesting, partly because they are looking at the ability to store propellants in orbit for long-ish periods of time. They have now pushed the rest of the camel of orbital refuelling depots on to the national scene.

From a business perspective, they have taken pages out of SpaceX’s play book. The new rocket will be done with IR&D funds and once built it will have a published price schedule. Both are considerable breaks with the past.

A number of the big players have tried hard to down play this idea. A few years ago NASA tried to deep-six their report that showed such depots were better for deep space than the ‘program of record’. The effort failed and the report got out anyway and I have it.

I am considerably less excited by other elements of their vehicle and their time scale. They may have to do better than partial reuse by 2023 to survive in what is rapidly becoming a ferociously competitive market for cheap launch.

Sad Puppies are taking back Science Fiction

Many thanks to Rand Simberg who has been covering this ongoing battle…

The Elites fight tooth and claw and with whatever lying, cheating, libel and threats they can get away with… and the more you shine the light on them while they do so, the more they self-destruct.

I suspect the Sad Puppies have been having the time of their life giving these people all the rope they need to make total idjts of themselves. So bring out a bag of popcorn, sit back and watch the battle.

What a truly horrifying thought!

A overtly Marxist Guardianista wants to replace Jeremy Clarkson. The Horror. The Horror! You would think someone with a Russian name would know how well Marxism turned out the last time…

Private asteroid search telescope rises from the ashes

Last fall when the Orbital Sciences Corporation rocket blew up in spectacular fashion, one of the payloads that went with it was the Arkyd space telescope nanosat.

Unlike their giant billion dollar big brothers, the Arkyd group use modern technology and methods to the fullest. They have the flexibility of a small company and they do things faster, better and cheaper. So much so that they have a replacement nanosat not just built, but ready for launch on Monday’s SpaceX CRS-6 flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

From there, it will be ejected from the Japanese Kibo module at some point in the coming months when ISS crew time is available. Here is Planetary Resources President Chris Lewicki giving the details. Just for full disclosure, I put a hundred dollars where my mouth is during their Kickstarter about two years ago.

The Los Angeles County Air Show

At long last I have managed to scrape out a half hour of free time to bring you some samples of a marvellous event. Although it was the LA County Airshow, it was no where near LA the city. LA County is probably the size of some small countries and certainly contains more environments.

The Bitcoin L-39 shows they are doing well and are my kind of people!

The Bitcoin L-39 shows they are doing well and are my kind of people!

The BitCoin L-39 pilot seemed to have a penchant for flying upside down and spent a lot of his time in that attitude.

The BitCoin L-39 pilot seemed to have a penchant for flying upside down and spent a lot of his time in that attitude.

→ Continue reading: The Los Angeles County Air Show

The wicked cockroach of the North

For those interested in North Korea, this English language documentary from Japan is rather enlightening.

The journalists involved interviewed former North Korean officials who once carried out the orders of the glorious leader to bring money into the aptly named “Royal Court Economy”. I have said for years that North Korea is more like a Feudal system than a Communist one. I suspect a Teutonic Knight would understand the system straight away.