Category Archives: Science/Engineering

Blue collar space

This collection of short stories recommended by novelist Sarah Hoyt looks good so far. The theme and characters remind me of Allen Steele’s novels of men living and working in orbit. Also the rough and tumble Belters of the Expanse.

The future, as the author says, won’t just happen. Someone has to build it.

UPDATE:  The author, Martin Shoemaker, wrote Today I Am Paul, a good short story about a sophisticated android who cares for the dying. It’s free here.

Ripped off by CarMax

True, you can get a cheaper used car from CarMax, America’s largest automobile discounter/retailer, at cheaper than usual loan rates. Also true you can get your CarMax used vehicle periodically serviced by CarMax techs.

The bad part is that the CarMax used car may be mechanically shit to begin with and the service techs, at least in Austin, only work at their convenience, not yours. They’re on duty weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 pm. Sometimes. Generally, they’re only available until 4 pm.

It’s a pitiful after the sale “service.” But CarMax knows that its customers generally are too poor—living paycheck-to-paycheck—to complain too loudly, let alone to sue.

The Expanse, Season 3

I still have a hard time hearing the dialogue, but the hardware and software are dazzling. So much so I almost don’t care about the story. How long can this go on? At least as long as the books I hope.

Blue Origin’s highest yet

The New Shepard capsule soared 347,000 feet Sunday above West Texas, about 66 miles, her planned operating altitude. Sixty-two miles is the accepted boundary line for space.

“Another spectacular test mission,” Ariane Cornell of Blue Origin said during a launch webcast. “Everything looks nominal from here.”

For now the capsule holds only a dummy astronaut and some commercial experiment packages. Ultimately billionaire Jeff Bezos intends to send six passengers for a spectacular suborbital ride to space. Then the capsule will land back near the launchpad near Van Horn on three parachutes while the reusable booster rocket lands vertically on the pad.

Via Space dot com

No-crash policy still in effect

My good Southwest Airlines (which was called the National Airline of Texas in the 1980s before it went national) maintained its sterling no-crash policy even after a horrific engine explosion at 32,500 over Western Pennsylvania.

“One person is dead after an engine exploded on a Southwest Airlines flight on Tuesday, sending a piece of shrapnel flying back into a window which caused the woman sitting next to it to be nearly sucked out of the aircraft.”

But she wasn’t and the pilots and crew got it down safely. Good show!

Via Daily Mail

UPDATE: The pilot-captain Tammy Jo Shults is a former Navy fighter pilot who is being celebrated for her coolness. “Southwest 1380 has an engine fire,” she announced. “Descending.” Later she says “Actually no fire now but we are single engine.” Hear the entire talk between her and Air Traffic Control. More on her past here.

Artemis

The Martian author Andy Weir has done it again with Artemis, a police procedural on the moon. The characters are sharply drawn and engaging but the real star is the Artemis moon city and the precisely correct life therein and thereout on EVAs. Makes me want to visit, if not actually live there. Can’t wait for his next one.

Air pocket instead of a brain

Proof positive that the brain is just a receiver-transmitter for non-local consciousness. Of course the preferred scientific/rational narrative is that what’s left compensated for the missing mass. But that’s very hard to swallow.

Via Instapundit