Sunday, November 27, 2022

Vince Guaraldi Trio - Christmas Time Is Here

A Charlie Brown Christmas was an annual show when I was growing up, and this was the iconic song from that show.  Vince Guaraldi is forever associated with this composition of his.  It's not really classical, but since we're now past Thanksgiving, it is Christmas.  Enjoy.

Friday, November 25, 2022

Ongoing Censorship

 In the ongoing effort to protect the world from Borepatch, the following actions have been taken by The Blogger Team. has been removed. has been put behind a warning wall. has been put behind a warning wall.

If this continues, I will make a sidebar widget to list the posts that The Blogger Team is protecting you from.

R.I.P. Dr. Frederick Brooks

Dwight posts his obit.  Dr. Brooks wrote "The Mythical Man-Month" which is perhaps the seminal computer science text.  I read it 25 or 30 years ago and it's been useful to me over the course of my career.  Dr. Brooks taught that complexity kills projects, and the way to ensure success is not to throw bodies at the problem but rather ruthlessly enforce clarity in your goals.

Essentially, not all teams are created equal, just like not all cars are created equal.  So what's the best car?  It all depends on what you want to do with it.  A car is not a car is not a car.

I hadn't known that Brooks became a devout Christian in his middle age.  This really isn't remarkable - most of my science and engineering professors were regular church attendees.  Only modern intellectuals think there's a tension between science and theology.  Of course the obit writer is an intellectual and so this part of his life is presented as something mysterious and unusual.  Sigh.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Censored By Google

 Here's the content of the message we received. It is worth pointing out that this post has been sitting, unloved and unread, since July of 2014. If your curiosity is now aroused, it is possible to visit the Wayback Machine with the URL and read the post unedited. The note mentions that it was the Malware and Virus policy that was violated, so it is possible that one of the links in the post was compromised and that triggered the removal.



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Climate "science" is terribly weak?" was flagged to us for review. We have 
determined that it violates our guidelines and have unpublished the URL
making it unavailable to blog readers.

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Happy Thanksgiving

Important pro-tip: turkeys can't fly.


Wednesday, November 23, 2022

Bake like it's 1653

Via The History Blog, there's a Sweet Potato Pie recipe from 1653.  Pretty cool, although it's been updated for the modern palate.  Pretty high end ingredients for the day, so not exactly what the Pilgrims would have had at Thanksgiving, but it sounds pretty yummy.


Good Lord, it's been almost a week since I last posted.  Family things have been front and center, and hopefully are getting worked out. 

A more normal posting schedule will commence.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Gary Clark Jr. - The Healing

Adan Piggott (Gentleman Adventurer) posted this a few weeks back.  It's been quite a while since I've posted Thursday Blues, and this is an artist I'd never heard of.  Adam does a good job introducing him:

I first came across this guy back in 2015 when I purchased his album, ‘The Story of Sonny Boy Slim’. A great album, every track  is a winner. He has a unique sound which is hard to come by these days. And he seems to like to record his stuff analog style. I’m gonna let the music do the talking as opposed to me rabbiting on. Here he is playing one of the album tracks in a live studio session. I love how he is so understated on the guitar, draws you in, and then a killer knock out solo performance.

Killer blues guitar, indeed.  Thanks, Adam!

Artemis/Orion: Pow! Zoom! To the Moon!

Congratulations to NASA for this week's successful SLS launch.  It is (for now at least) the most powerful rocket in history.  The Orion capsule is now on its way to the Moon which is pretty cool.

But you have to think that SpaceX is the future.  Casey Handmer describes just what a game changer the Starship rocket is:

Starship matters. It’s not just a really big rocket, like any other rocket on steroids. It’s a continuing and dedicated attempt to achieve the “Holy Grail” of rocketry, a fully and rapidly reusable orbital class rocket that can be mass manufactured. It is intended to enable a conveyor belt logistical capacity to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) comparable to the Berlin Airlift. That is, Starship is a powerful logistical system that puts launch below the API.

Starship is designed to be able to launch bulk cargo into LEO in >100 T chunks for <$10m per launch, and up to thousands of launches per year. By refilling in LEO, a fully loaded deep space Starship can transport >100 T of bulk cargo anywhere in the solar system, including the surface of the Moon or Mars, for <$100m per Starship. Starship is intended to be able to transport a million tonnes of cargo to the surface of Mars in just ten launch windows, in addition to serving other incidental destinations, such as maintaining the Starlink constellation or building a big base at the Lunar south pole.

SLS has a different motivation.  The return to the Moon is a Prestige Project (not to mention a way to funnel Federal money to favored suppliers).  That road is a dead end.  I posted this years back, before SpaceX was really on the radar.  Looking at what they are doing, they look very much like Columbus.

(Originally posted Monday, July 20, 2009)

Jack Kennedy's Treasure Fleet

I was 11 years old, and it was late. We simply weren't allowed to stay up that late - after 11:00. But this was no normal day. We all huddled around that old Black-and-White television set, watching a terrible picture that showed the first man on the moon. Dad was in Paris finishing his PhD research, and watched it projected on a huge screen at the Place de la Concorde. This was maybe the last time that an American's money was no good in Paris.

We haven't been back, since Gene Cernan climbed back aboard the LEM in December, 1972. Some folks think this is a crying shame. I used to be one of them. Now I recognize that there could not have been any other outcome. We've seen this before.

Between 1405 and 1433, the Chinese Ming dynasty sent a series of exploration voyages to southeast Asia, India, and even Africa. While the Portuguese under Prince Henry struggled down the western coast of Africa in their tiny caravels, huge Chinese treasure ships sailed to Calicut and Mogadishu.

And then they were gone, as if they had never existed. Why?

The historian David Landes spends considerable time on this question in his indispensable The Wealth And Poverty Of Nations. The Chinese voyages differed in one critical way from those of Diaz and Columbus: the Chinese voyages were motivated by a desire to glorify the Middle Kingdom, while the European ones were motivated by the desire for filthy lucre:
In the 1430s a new emperor reigned in Peking, one who "knew not Joseph." A new, Confucian crowd completed for influence, mandarins who scorned and distrusted commerce (for them, the only true source of wealth was agriculture) and detested the eunuchs who had planned and carried out the great voyages. For some decades, the two groups vied for influence, the balance shifting now one way, not the other. But fiscality and the higher Chinese morality were on the Confucian side. The maritime campaign had strained the empire's finances and weakened its authority over a population bled white by taxes and corvee levies.


So, after some decades of tugging and hauling, of alternating celebration and commemoration on the one hand, of contumely and repudiation on the other, the decision was taken not only to cease from maritime exploration but to erase the very memory of what had gone before lest later generations be tempted to renew the folly.


At the same time, [the Chinese] desire to overawe meant that costs far exceeded returns. These voyages reeked of extravagance. Whereas the first profits (the first whiff of pepper) and the promise of even greater ones to come were a powerful incentive to Western venturers, in China the pecuniary calculus said no.


The vulnerability of the program - here today, gone tomorrow - was reinforced by its official character. In Europe, the opportunity of private initiative that characterized even such royal projects as the search for a sea route to the Indies was a source of participatory funding and an assurance of rationality. Nothing like that in China, where the Confucian state abhorred merchantile success.
So why did we leave the Moon, never to return? Why is NASA wandering in the wilderness? Let's update Landes, shall we? In Europe America, the opportunity of private initiative that characterized even such royal Government projects as the search for a sea route to the Indies low-cost way to orbit was a source of participatory funding and an assurance of rationality. OK, then.

The heroism of the Astronaut corps doesn't change the fact that NASA will not - and can not - ever do what Columbus did. If they want to make a difference, to make it possible for people to live in Space, they should declare that they will purchase X kilograms of orbital launch delivery at $Y per kilo, and get out of the way. Unlike the X-Prize and Spaceship-One, NASA's pecuniary calculus will always be a football game, played between the Johnson Center Eunuchs and the HHS Mandarins.

But hey, this is all crazy talk, right? I mean, NASA would never skew things because of politics, right? Right?


Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Sunday, November 13, 2022

And Now There Are Eight

 A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra were involved in a midair at an airshow in Dallas yesterday. Both aircraft were completely destroyed and the pilot of the P-63 and the entire crew of five on the B-17 were killed in the resulting crash.

The investigation has scarcely begun, but it looks like the P-63 was following it's lead aircraft in a sweeping turn to port and had no view of the B-17 below and starboard of it's flight path. The B-17 was flying straight and level and had no view of the P-63 which came in from behind and overtook the B-17. It may be nothing more than that, but time will tell.

Update: Comments are closed for this post.

Danny Elfman - Theme to "Dick Tracy"

Maybe this is New Wave meets Classical.  Danny Elfman was front man for the 1980s New Wave band Oingo Boingo.  If anyone has ever wondered just what the heck happened to this "one hit wonder" there's a simple explanation: he's been composing award winning scores for more films than you can shake a stick at.  Suffering hearing damage from touring with the band, he was hired by his fan Tim Burton to write the score for Pee-wee's Big Adventure in 1985 (the same year as their one-hit wonder Dead Man's Party)  Then the film score gigs came fast and furious: Back To School, Beetlejuice, Schrooged, Batman, and today's selection, Dick Tracy.  And that was all by 1990. Oh, yeah - he also wrote the theme to The Simpsons.

The Queen Of The World and I really like the film Dick Tracy.  It is highly stylized which is easy to mess up but succeeds brilliantly in the same way that 300 succeeds at it.  And the music is great all the way through, including Oscar and Grammy nominations.

And he has real non-film compositional chops as well.  Here's his Violin Concerto "Eleven Eleven":

Not bad for a one-hit wonder, amirite?  All right, all right - here it is:

Madonna's performance of Sooner Or Later (I Always Get My Man) was awesome, even thought it was written by Steven Sondheim.