Category Archives: Popular Culture

The Virginia Shootings

This is what I’ve been tweeting this morning.

[Afternoon update]

As usual, the White House lies about “gun violence.”

Silicon Valley

…is headed for disaster:

America will always plant crops and need chemicals to service those crops. And it will always need payment, delivery and data services. But will it always need Facebook and Twitter? Cisco runs a large proportion of the Internet; Facebook hosts your grandma’s pictures. You do the math.

There won’t be any suicides in Silicon Valley – the most dangerous thing to happen in northern California occurred last month when an angel investor’s Birkenstocks got caught in the BART elevator – but the whole edifice on which the delicate San Francisco ecosystem is based is about to come crashing down all over again.

If so, I won’t shed a tear, after all the damage those people have done to the state of California and the country.

The Hugos

Burning down the field in order to “save” it:

…while I am not upset at the results (except insofar as it proves a large number of my field is running the Marxist malware to such an extent that it will vote a slate to avoid an imaginary slate) I am upset at the display of infantility or senility or perhaps roboticity in my field yesterday (Though who would program robots that way?) No one watching that live stream — and there was a lot of it captured and it will be replayed — can imagine that those who proclaim themselves the “intellectuals” of our field have an IQ above room temperature. And certainly no one can imagine they have an emotional maturity above that of a toddler displaying to one and all the magnificence of the turd just deposited in the middle of the floor.

Related: And you cheered:

We saw those no-awards coming from a mile away. By voting no-award, you proved the Sad Puppies’s point. And most of you are too damn stupid to know it.
You’d rather no one win, than see someone you don’t agree with walk across that stage.

We only wanted a fair ballot; real diversity among the Hugos, books by authors who don’t all think the same way. Books that tell stories rather than try to force-feed us messages. But you couldn’t have that.

It was you, not us, who brought the Hugo Awards down last night.

And you cheered while you did it.

A lot of this is why I haven’t read much science fiction in the past couple decades.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Uh oh. Hitler found out what happened [language warning, but only in subtitles]

[Update a while later]

Larry Correia’s thoughts:

See? I told you so.

People have asked me if I’m disappointed in the results. Yes. But maybe not in the way you might expect. I’ll talk about the slap in the face to specific nominees in a minute, but I can’t say I’m surprised by what happened, when it was just an extreme example of what I predicted would happen three years ago when I started all this.

I said the Hugos no longer represented all of Fandom, instead they only represents tiny, insular, politically motivated cliques taking turns giving their friends awards. If you wanted to be considered, you needed to belong to, or suck up to those voting cliques. I was called a liar.

I said that most of the voters cared far more about the author’s identity and politics than they did the quality of the work, and in fact, the quality of the work would be completely ignored if the creator had the wrong politics. I was called a liar.

I said that if somebody with the wrong politics got a nomination, they would be actively campaigned against, slandered, and attacked, not for the quality of their work, but because of politics. I was called a liar.

That’s how the Sad Puppies campaign started. You can see the results. They freaked out and did what I said they would do. This year others took over, in the hopes of getting worthy, quality works nominated who would normally be ignored. It got worse. They freaked out so much that even I was surprised.

Each year it got a little bigger, and the resulting backlash got a little louder and nastier, culminating in this year’s continual international media slander campaign. Most of the media latched onto a narrative about the campaign being sexist white males trying to keep women and minorities out of publishing. That narrative is so ridiculous that a few minutes of cursory research shows that if that was our secret goal, then we must be really bad at it, considering not just who we nominated, but who our organizers and supporters are, but hey… Like I said, it is all about politics, and if it isn’t, they’re going to make it that way. You repeat a lie often enough, and people will believe it.

It isn’t about truth. It is about turf.

[Evening update]

Why the “war on nereds” is a war on art.

Supersonic Flight

Over @NRO, Josh Gelernter is far too credulous of Airbus’s announcement of a supersonic transport:

In April 1976, Congress banned supersonic passenger planes from landing in the United States. The ban was overturned by the courts in 1977, after it was pointed out that the Concorde — which flew at subsonic speeds around the airport — was in fact quieter than conventional jets. Never mind: Like irrational fears about nuclear power or GMOs or vaccines, sonic-boom panic sustained anti-Concorde campaigns, which successfully throttled its business. When the Concorde was announced, airlines around the world placed combined orders for more than a hundred planes. By the time it made its first flight, a quarter of the orders had been withdrawn. By the time the production line was up and running, three-quarters of the remaining orders had been canceled. Only 20 Concordes were actually built; all 20 were bought by the British and French governments, which had paid for the Concorde’s development. They were flown by BOAC and Air France.

When Pan Am launched the first transatlantic passenger flights in 1939, a round-trip ticket cost $675 — which is about $11,000 in today’s money. Clipper flights were even more exotic than Concorde flights; nonetheless, within a few decades, they had driven ocean liners out of business. Because so few Concordes made it into service, service prices never came down, part prices never came down, operation never became routine. In 2003, the Concorde died, and mankind did something it does rarely: It took a step backward.

Concorde’s problem was not laws against supersonic overland flight, but very high operating costs, and limited range, due to the excessive wave drag. The real market for supersonic flight is transpacific, but Concorde could barely make it across the Atlantic. The initial orders were probably based on overoptimistic estimates of costs, and once reality sunk in, the orders dried up.

And to equate a commercial aircraft with Apollo and our later abandonment of lunar capability is a category error, unless he meant that in both cases they were economically unsustainable, in which case, it was best to end them.

So thank God for Airbus. Finally we — as a species — are back on track. Actually, Airbus isn’t the first aerospace firm to talk about bringing back supersonic passenger flight — but it’s the biggest and the most credible. An Airbus neo-Concorde is downright plausible. The new Airbus design, we’re told, will be able to fly from London to New York in one hour — two and a half hours quicker than the Concorde. Its top speed will be 2,500 mph to Concorde’s 1,350. And, for the hippies, it will have boom-dampeners, so the noise won’t bother western Long Island, and so it will be able to fly overland. Of course, the one, big, nagging problem is that Airbus is an Anglo-French company. Are we going to take that? I’m sure Boeing and Lockheed and Grumman all have e-mail addresses.

Key words: “…we are told…”

A 2500 mph aircraft will need much more exotic materials than the Concorde did to handle the high skin temperature, and its fuel consumption will be horrific, again with limited range. Note that there’s no mention of transpacific, it’s again just a faster way to get from New York to Europe. Its market would be just as, if not more limited than Concorde. I think that this is marketing hype (like Boeing’s Sonic Cruiser a few years ago). And he doesn’t seem to be aware of changes in the industry. “Grumman” is now Northrop Grumman, and it’s a company that has zero legacy of building a commercial transport. “Lockheed” is Lockheed Martin, and it got out of the airliner business in the late seventies, after the commercial failure of the L-1011 Tri-Star. The notion that either of them are going to get in against Boeing with a supersonic transport is a flight of fancy. I am working on a concept that might make supersonic flight practical, but I see nothing about Son of Concorde that would do so.