Category Archives: Weird

How Much Would A Death Star Really Cost?

To the disappointment of thousands who signed the petition, the Obama administration recently informed us that it has, and will have no plans to build a Star-Wars-style death star. Now, there may indeed be good reasons to forgo this addition to the nation’s defense, but the first one listed, that it would cost 850 quadrillion dollars, was based on an extremely flawed estimate. Which isn’t surprising, because among the people doing the estimating, only one has any experience in aerospace engineering (and probably none in costing of such projects). Continue reading

A Novel Means Of Cooking A Steak

Not a very effective one, though:

To break the sound barrier, you’ll need to drop the steak from about 50 kilometers. But this isn’t enough to cook it.

We need to go higher.

If dropped from 70 kilometers, the steak will go fast enough to be briefly blasted by 350°F air. Unfortunately, this blast of thin, wispy air barely lasts a minute—and anyone with some basic kitchen experience can tell you that a steak placed in the oven at 350 for 60 seconds isn’t going to be cooked.

From 100 kilometers—the formally defined edge of space—the picture’s not much better. The steak spends a minute and a half over Mach 2, and the outer surface will likely be singed, but the heat is too quickly replaced by the icy stratospheric blast for it to actually be cooked.

I think I’ll stick to my IR grill. Though it might be fun to apply for a NASA grant as a suborbital research payload.

Coconut Pineapple


Australian scientists have created a pineapple that tastes like a coconut. It took them ten years to develop, but the fruit dubbed as the “piña colada pineapple” wasn’t exactly what they were trying to create.

Scientists, from a government agency in Queensland, were initially trying to develop a new variety of a sweeter, juicier pineapple but instead, created a coconut flavored one and now call it the AusFestival.

I just noticed that both words in the title are combinations of two types of vegetation. Sort of like Palmolive™.

Tortured Logic

The Sixth Court of Appeals has narrowly ruled that it is unconstitutional for the people of Michigan to ban racial discrimination.

An insane ruling like this will have to be resolved by SCOTUS.

[Update a few minutes later]

Jonathan Adler has more. Eugene Volokh thinks it likely to go to SCOTUS, and Stuart Benjamin thinks that they’ll likely overturn it by a large margin. He doesn’t say which two justices may rule in favor. Maybe Breyer and Ginsburg?

[Update a few minutes later]

Sorry, link now goes to the ruling, not the Twinkie story.

[Update a while later]

Here’s some background.

The DNC Got All Biblical Yesterday

…and didn’t even know it.

That’s what happens when you substitute a political ideology for religion.

Ah, well. As the Anchoress says, Peter got in, so maybe there’s hope for them yet.

[Update a few minutes later]

God runs deep:

…it’s not a matter of one word more or less, one or more mentions of God. The real heart of the issue is that most of the people in that hall, in the Democratic convention, really don’t accept the understanding of rights contained in the Declaration of Independence: The Declaration appealed first to “the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” as the very ground of our natural rights. The drafters declared that “self-evident” truth that “all men are created equal,” and then immediately: that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” George Bush was not embarrassed to insist that these are “God-given rights,” as opposed to rights that we had merely given to ourselves. For if we had given them to ourselves, we could as readily take them back or remove them. Newt Gingrich made this point during the primaries; it’s not as though the point were so esoteric as to seem mystical or somehow remote from the understanding of ordinary folks. And Paul Ryan touched on this understanding of natural rights during his own speech at the convention. He could surely respond even now by putting the question to Obama and the Democrats, and putting it in the terms of a dare and wager: If we took a survey on this matter, we bet that about 70–80 percent or more of the delegates at the Democratic convention would be too embarrassed to say that these rights were given to us by our Creator, the Author of those Laws of Nature. And we could bet that, in contrast, about 80 percent of the delegates at the Republican convention would assent to that proposition without a trace of hesitation. Why not put the question so that the heart of the matter does not fade?

I would say that I do believe in natural rights, but I don’t need to believe in God for that, any more than I need a god to provide gravity. But when people like Touré Neblett deny natural rights, they might want to consider this:

…his is not an isolated view; it is/was shared by a number of world figures: Lenin, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Castro, Amin — just to name a few. So take heart, Touré, you’re not alone.

Sadly true.

On The Mannsuits

Want to split a gut? Read this insane comment over at Judy Curry’s place:

Mann’s strategic rational for the parallel lawsuit is evident, and is based upon the observation CEI and NR published startlingly similar, startlingly abusive, startling ill-judged editorials.


Mann’s Objective Publicly expose the command-and-control structure of climate-change denialism.

Mann’s Strategy Call witnesses to testify, under oath, regarding the parallel origins of their libelous assertions.

Mann’s Tactics Offer each of CEI and NR a plea-bargain, providing each “peaches” upon the other, regarding denialist marching-orders and astro-turfing operations.

Mann’s Guidance The Code of Omertà is robust at the institutional level of climate-change denialism, yet notoriously flimsy at the individual level. To exploit this weak point, Mann’s legal team will therefore focus legal pressure upon the individuals under whose name the libels were published. In particular, what services has CEI’s staff of 40 provided to denialist bloggers, and to sister institutions such as Heartland?


Predictions (1) CEI and NR will do all they can to ensure that individuals named in Mann’s suit do not testify under oath … or if they do, that their testimonies are well-rehearsed and carefully coordinated. (2) Conversely, Mann’s team will do all they can to exert pressure upon individual witnesses, in particular by calling multiple witnesses to the stand, and by deposing CEI and NR employees in separate discovery processes.

Question What portion of climate-change denialist prose, nominally originating from private citizens, in fact originates from CEI professional operatives?

I can’t really comment, other than to wonder if Mann himself believes lunacy like this?