Outrun Change

We need to learn quickly to keep up with the massive change around us so we don't get run over. We need to outrun change.

Archive for the category “Other stuff”

Update on military drones

MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech Air Force Base, Nev., during a local training mission June 9, 2009. (U.S. Air Force photo/Paul Ridgeway)

A few recent articles on military drones: New US variations in use, shootdown of military drones in combat zones, anti-drone technology, and increasing exports of Chinese drones.

My observation: the military drone arms race is on.

7/2/17 – UPI – New Reaper drone variant performs first combat mission – The first in a new series of MQ-9 Reaper drones flew its first combat mission. Referred to as the Block 5, the drone dropped a precision bomb (GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions) and fired two missiles (AM-114 Hellfire).

Oddly, the article says targets were ISIS positions but does not identify the country where the strike took place.

USAF Staff Sgt. aircraft armament systems specialist inspects an MQ-9 Reaper at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan Aug. 18, 2014. The Reaper is launched, recovered and maintained here.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Evelyn Chavez/Released)

6/8/17 – Wall Street Journal – American Pilot Shoots Down Armed Drone in Syria – A drone, described as Predator-style, was shot down by a U.S. pilot after the drone fired on a patrol by forces the US supports.

Read more…

Mali and Central Africa Republic update – 7/1

Image courtesy of DollarPhotoClub.com

Here are a few articles on the ongoing turmoil in Mali. Haven’t noticed much, but perhaps that is because I haven’t been watching closely.

3/3/17 – France 24 – Three jihadi groups active in Mali announce merger – The three groups that have merged include:

  • Ansar Dine
  • Al-Murabitoun
  • Macina Brigades

The new name will be Group to Support Islam and Muslims.

Read more…

Still more amazing news from the open frontier of space: several successes and one, um, learning opportunity.

Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

It’s been a good month for SpaceX. Three launches and one recovery of an already recycled Dragon capsule. China has demonstrated that rocket science is rocket science, meaning launches don’t always work.

7/3/17 – Space.com – Back Again…Again: SpaceX’s Dragon Makes Historic 2nd Splashdown A Dragon capsule that had previously been recovered from a trip to the International Space Station has just returned from the ISS a second time and successfully landed in the Pacific Ocean.

This is the first successful reuse of a Dragon capsule.

 

SpaceX’s cameras can track the Falcon 9 until after start of 2nd stage. Fantastic live feed. “Intelsat 35e Mission” by SpaceX is in public domain – CC0 1.0

7/5/17 – Space.com – Three Launches in 12 Days! SpaceX Lofts Heavy Communications Satellite

Read more…

Fire destroys Hedderich’s, a combination museum and antique store in Williston, N.D.

Photo by David Ulvog. Used with permission.

In a tragic loss to the beautiful downtown area of Williston, the approximately 120 year old Hedderich’s building was gutted by fire on July 10.

The building had been used as a department store until 1988 but in recent decades was a combination museum and antique store. The current building was constructed in 1918 (I’m not sure how that gets the age to about 120).

Photo by David Ulvog. Used with permission.

 

Visible condition morning after the fire

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Nevada joins the list of states allowing sales of recreational marijuana with heavy taxes on sales – #29

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Haven’t had an update on regulatory oversight of the recreational marijuana market in a while. With Nevada now allowing the sale of recreational marijuana, it is time to check out the regulatory world.

As readers of this blog already know, I am watching developments in Colorado and Oregon for the newly state-legal recreational use of marijuana. Just as a reminder, my interest is not in marijuana. My curiosity is focused on how much trouble a burdensome and expensive regulatory structure will create for a newly legalized industry.

My hypothesis is the heavy-handed regulations will be crushing and severely restrain a new industry.

11/29/16 – Brew Bound – Beer Volumes Declining in Markets Where Recreational Cannibas is Legal – Consumption of domestic beer is declining in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. The business word used is that beer is ‘underperforming’, meaning sales are lower than would otherwise be expected.

Article says the 18-25 demographic is consuming more recreational marijuana and less domestic beer.

Read more…

If it seems like the economy hasn’t quite recovered in the Inland Empire region of Southern California, it isn’t just your imagination

What economic growth feels like in the Inland Empire. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

If you are living in California more than, oh, say 15 miles from the ocean, you likely wonder why the statistics saying the economy is going fantabulously well don’t seem to fit with what you see while looking around or what you hear after talking to people.

Two articles explaining why you might be feeling that disconnect, why something just seems off.

First, business activity including employment in the Inland Empire area of Southern California is only now, in early 2017, returning to the level when the recession started.

Second, it isn’t just your imagination that lots and lots of younger people are still living at home when it seems like they should be out on their own. We are talking people who have graduated and are employed.

5/25/17 – Daily Bulletin – Inland business is back to pre-recession peaks – with one big exception.

Read more…

Lots of amazing space news from India and OneWeb. Oh, 2 launches by SpaceX in three days.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

The news from space exploration is constantly amazing.

  • India is making progress in their exploration efforts, with both their GSLV and PSLV rockets.
  • SpaceX has successful launches on 6/23 and 6/25

6/5/17 – Behind the Black – India successfully launches it first GSLV Mark 3 rocket and Space.com – India Just Launched Its Heaviest & Most Powerful Rocket Yet – The new Mark 3 of the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle lifted a 6,913 pound satellite into geosync orbit. Lift capacity is 8,818 lbs. Article says that is double the capacity of the Mark 2.

Nice video of the launch embedded in the Space.com article. Cool to see the solid rocket boosters fall away and watch the sat separate.

Falcon 9 on Iridium 2 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

5/19/17 – Wall Street Journal – Who’s in Charge of Outer Space? – The immediate answer is a document called the Outer Space Treaty. It addresses how things are done outside the atmosphere. That document is 50 years old and did not anticipate private players in outer space. Read more…

Bleak outlook for Venezuela

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

With the supreme court compromised, the president outmaneuvering the congress, all members of the military under the watchful eye of Cuban zampolits (political officers), and the most loyal members of the military allowed to enjoy the spoils, there doesn’t appear to be much hope for either a peaceful solution or near-term end to the massive, intentionally caused humanitarian suffering in Venezuela.

Here are two short comments on the escalating violence and a long discussion of a feature article on the collapse of democracy and the economy.

6/16/17 – AFP at Yahoo News – Venezuela mobs kick, burn thieves in lynching epidemic – What happens when governments take actions that prevent the economy from working and as a result people are starving? Thieves start robbing people of food at gunpoint (money isn’t worth stealing).

What happens when robberies get out control because there is so much disruption and the government can’t do anything to maintain peace and there is widespread suffering? Mobs start lynching robbers.

There were 20 reported mob driven lynchings in 2015, 126 in 2016, and 60 in the first five months of this year.

In one attack on an armed robber, the police were able to pull the near-unconscious man into a police car as the mob cheered having beaten him. Another reporter filmed a robber being set on fire.

Read more…

More worlds far away I’ll never visit, including a fraud education tidbit for CPAs.

Image of in-person illegal drug sale courtesy of Adobe Stock. I don’t quite know what image to use for an illegal on-line sale.

There are many dark places on the underside of life that I will never see. One item on the long list of reasons why I blog is to look into those places by explaining what I read on the ‘net. I describe those places as worlds far away that I’ll never visit.

Two topics for today:

  • Deep background on Silk Road, the marketplace for anything
  • Selling positive pregnancy tests online

From 2013 through 2015 I wrote about 10 articles on Silk Road and the Dread Pirate Roberts who ran that dark world where you could buy anything you wanted. You could buy drugs, weapons, forged passports, poison, anything. You can find my old posts here.

Turns out Dread Pirate Roberts (an unfortunate choice of names that sullies the reputation of one of the best slap stick movies ever!) is Ross William Ulbricht. He is currently serving a life sentence at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Center. The Bureau of Prison website lists his release date as “Life.”

Now there is a full length book describing his assent to the peak of the dark world and descent into a life of free federal housing for the rest of his natural life. At a current age of 33, that will be a looooong time.

6/13/17 – Wall Street Journal – The Dark Web’s Dark Prince Review describes American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road.

Review summarizes the origin of Silk Road, its rapid growth, and challenges of running an organization with a billion dollars of illegal sales.

Reviewer suggests there is not really that much unusual about Mr. Ulbricht: he suggests people who love Ayn Rand, have extreme confidence, and can build a competent website are on both sides of each street at every corner of Silicon Valley.

Read more…

Announcing “Ancient Finances”, my newest blog

Silver Roman denarius. Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Ancient Finances will explore finances and money during the Viking age and Roman Empire. Lots of posts on other blogs addressing those topics have been cross-posted to the new blog. This includes lots of discussion of the loot Alexander the Great lifted during his rampaging world tour.

I’ve been having loads of fun reading about the Viking age and am intrigued by finances and money during the Roman Empire.

Why a new blog?

Read more…

More news on the open frontier of space flight. Two SpaceX launches and Rocket Labs’ first launch

Successful recover of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-11 resupply mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

Amazing news from the wide open frontier of private space exploration:

  • SpaceX recovers yet another Falcon 9 booster and reuses a Dragon capsule for the first time
  • Rocket Lab successfully launches their first booster which will lift small sats into low earth orbit
  • More on mining moon and asteroids
  • Concept for mining rocket fuel on the moon
  • SpaceX lifts a heavy commercial satellite into geosync orbit

Falcon 9 carrying Dragon capsule to ISS on CRS-11 mission. Image in public domain courtesy of SpaceX via Flickr.

6/3/17 – I got home about two minutes after the Falcon 9 was successfully recovered. Watched the archived copy of SpaceX’s CRS-11 launch of a re-used Dragon to resupply ISS.  The Falcon 9 booster was also reused. This is the 5th recovery of Falcon 9 on land and the 11th recovery in total. Awesome.

Made note of a fun tidbit of trivia. The booster and payload went from 0 to 1,002 km/h in 60 seconds on the way up. On the recovery the Falcon 9 booster went from descent speed of 1,119 km/h to zero in the last 29 seconds.

Pause for a moment and consider the staggering results.

Read more…

Venezuelan Supreme Court usurps all power of the nation’s legislature

Where the Venezuelan Supreme Court filed that part of their constitution defining the legislative branch. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

The Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled that it will take over all of the powers of the Congress. That essentially suspends the Congress and removes the remaining power center in the country that is not under the complete control of the president.

Since the president controls the supreme court and obviously now controls the legislature, there is no organized structure that can oppose him.

That’s a major step.

For more info, check out any of the following articles.

For entertainment, consider the spin some headline writers put into their work:

Read more…

Summary of accomplishments and plans for SpaceX and Blue Origin. Gotta’ love that competition!

Successful recovery of Falcon 9 booster during CRS-10 mission. Credit Flickr. Courtesy of SpaceX who has placed their photos in the public domain.

Found an article that summarizes accomplishments and plans for SpaceX and Blue Origin, the space exploration companies of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos, respectively.

Check out Mike Wall at Space.com on 3/13/17To the Moon! The Musk-Bezos Billionaire Space Rivalry Just Reached New Heights.

Here are many of the key achievements and targets for both companies. I sorted and regrouped the items that drew my interest. As you consider the list, you can see both companies are making rapid progress. The competition is getting serious.

By the way, if the Space.com article and my little summary here does not satisfy your appetite for learning what is going on in space, you really, really need to check out Capitalism in Space: Private Enterprise and Competition Reshape the Global Aerospace Launch Industry, by Robert Zimmerman, available in PDF format for free at Behind the Black. I am about half way through the paper. It is superb.

First steps

SpaceX:

  • 12/15 – successfully recover Falcon 9
  • Through 3/17 – have now successfully recovered a Falcon 9 lift vehicle eight times; 3 on land and 5 on drone ships at sea
  • 3/17 – planned first time reuse of Falcon 9 for launch of SES 10 satellite

Blue Origin:

  • 11/15 – successfully recover New Shepard
  • Late 2016 – retired a New Shepard booster after it was successfully recovered 4 times

Successful recovery of New Shepard booster on June 19, 2016. Credit Blue Origin.

Heavy lift

Read more…

Speaking of competition in space, Blue Origin books 6 launches for 2 customers

Illustration of reusable New Glenn lift vehicle from Blue Origin with 3.85M pounds thrust. Credit Blue Origin.

In Behind the Black’s favorite phrase, the competition heats up. Check out the news just this week for Blue Origin becoming a very serious player.

3/7 – Florida Today  Blue Origin books first New Glenn launch contract – Eutelsat Communications has booked the first launch on the New Glenn rocket from Blue Origin. First launch is expected in 2021 or 2022, which is only four or five years away.

Read more…

Even more competition in the wide open frontier of private space exploration

Most of the current competitors, with a Saturn V for comparison. Illustration courtesy of Blue Origin.

I am astounded at the number of companies taking on the challenge to explore space. It’s staggering to see the innovation emerging.

Check out the number of competitors that are in the game. That is fantastic. The more companies pushing to figure out how to get in space and provide commercially attractive service at a profit, the harder everyone else will push for progress. Good.

Check out that awesome graphic at the top of the page. Lots of thanks and all the credit to Blue Origin. I’ve been looking for something like that visual for a long time. Yeah, you will be seeing it again and again on my blog.

Check out what some of the competitors are doing. This is what I’ve noticed in just the last few weeks:

2/27 – Space.com – SpaceX to Fly Passengers on Private Trip Around the Moon in 2018 – How does this sound for a great schedule?

Read more…

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