serious

Misc

After a few minutes of searching for something which was too obvious not to exist, I found musicrename. It's about a page of Ruby which takes a whole pile of mp3s and oggs, renames them according to their ID tags (format tweakable to user's will) and sorts them into directories accordingly. A little temperamental about what it'll accept in the way of tagging, but it seems to do the bit of the job that Prokyon doesn't, so I'm happy.

Apparently Pat Buchanan has called Mark Felt a traitor. I think this says more about him than about Felt.

From this page (found via Gaiman) :

Getting killed because I’m an American, at home or overseas: bad. Spending money and resources to protect me from getting killed: good. Maintaining a strong military, at least until planetary utopia breaks out and there are free Jill Johnston posters for everyone: really good. Making all of that far harder, and increasing my likelihood of getting killed, because some politicians and pundits needed to “look tough”: really, really bad. Likelihood that I’m going to take my cues on “national security” from those politicians and pundits: low.

At times it all seems like some sort of Bizarro World faith-versus-works argument. Liberals wind up being the ones pointing out, endlessly, that national security is provided by actual practices, not just by holding your face right. Meanwhile popinjays like Joe Biden desperately file their chins to razor-sharpness in the probably vain hope that the electorate, having sometimes demonstrated a preference for strutting phonies, will mistake them for one.

Compare and (fail to) contrast with popular British ideas on criminal justice. Someone in the paper yesterday said he thought that Britain has the most vindictive society in Europe apart from Turkey. While hyperbolic, it's got the usual grain of truth. I like the phrase "faith-versus-works argument", but unfortunately I suspect that a fair number of people would buy into the Faith side and to hell with the works. Or, at least, they'd fail to see that their faith fails to guarantee results, or not realise that there was any important difference between intention and outcome. See also interminable arguments on judicial and penal policies with WD, archived by those nice Google people (but only if you don't value your sanity - I argued with him once, but I think I got away with it *twitch*).

A mail's just gone around work asking for some rabbit anti-sheep antibody. I can't quite get my head around the idea of a rabbit with a sheep infection. Maybe if they were very small sheep it would work. Or a very big rabbit.

The BBC's reporting that some historians have found a sketch allegedly made of a German Second World War A-bomb design. It's here. I don't suppose that someone with a little German[1] would care to tell me what the labels say? I've managed to figure the one that says "Plutonium" out already, though, so don't bother with that one.

Also, of course, it says Plutonium when the article implies they were after building a uranium bomb.

It looks a bit sus to me. The first thing that occurs to me is that it was drawn by someone who'd heard of cannon and implosion mechanisms but hadn't been told that they were entirely separate, because it looks to have both.

I don't think I want an epitaph. An unmarked grave, or one marked only by a tree, sounds more worthwhile.

[1] Go on. You know you want to.

Someone in the paper yesterday said he thought that Britain has the most vindictive society in Europe apart from Turkey


Which paper was this? if you don't mind. I read a sort of similar article in the Scotsman here.
It was in The Grauniad, I think.

Yes. Lord Bingham, the most senior Law Lord, in an interview printed yesterday. The full text is here and the relevant paragraph reads:

He also defends his fellow judges against accusations that they are too lenient. "In fact, we have one of the most punitive societies in western Europe outside Turkey," he insists. "We have more life-sentence prisoners in this country than in all the other old members of the European community put together, so the notion that this country is a soft touch when it comes to the sentencing of criminals is simply wrong. In any case, I happen to think that increasing sentences does very little to contribute to the control of crime."
forgive I'm from NZ
but why are you trying to save the rabbit in the first place
surely the point is to infect them all
even if that would stop the great easter bunny hunt
the 'heres a hectare, kill as many rabbits as you can over easter and then bring them all back so DOC can pluck their eyes out for census purposes' competition
why are you trying to save the rabbit in the first place

That wasn't in the mail, I'm afraid, so I don't know. I can only assume that it's of some scientific interest. Perhaps there's a danger of an antibiotic-resistant strain of sheep wreaking havoc in British hospitals?
Will it create a new directory structure and make sure the files are all correctly located according to their tags?
The picture is printed too small for me to make out the writing, even when I enlarge it. Or perhaps my screen is crap. Certainly my eyesight isn't much cop. Sorry.
Apparently Pat Buchanan has called Mark Felt a traitor. I think this says more about him than about Felt.

PM on Radio 4 this afternoon interviewed G. Gordon Liddy, who said that he considered Mark Felt to be as guilty as he (Liddy) was. Fucking unbelievable.
Liddy should have been capped when they had the chance. Felt, it seems, wrestled with his conscience afterwards. I don't get the feeling Liddy ever did.
The sanest version of Liddy's argument I've heard so far runs something like:

  • All humans are sinners
  • Mark Felt is human
  • Therefore Mark Felt had better worry about getting right with Jesus, rather than attacking God-fearing Xian folk like the sainted Richard Milhouse Nixon

So to recap, Felt is a damned soul, and has been since Adam, so how could we possibly have believed him!?! It's hard to argue with air-tight reasoning like that.

The drawing is definitely a fake. Plutonium cannot be used in gun-type mechanisms, the even-numbered isotopes in the core predetonate* and disassemble the critical mass before any significant amount of fission occurs in the main body of Pu-239.

The part labelled 'DeckMantel' is clearly intended to represent the Neutron Reflector (sometimes referred to as the 'Tamper', with dubious technical accuracy). This is made of beryllium - it's not an implosion shell - and is often larger than the Uranium core. It increases the amount of 'slow' neutrons passing through the core and allows you to use much less fissile material than the published 'bare metal sphere' critical mass.

So far, so good: what's missing in the diagram is the cavity in the Uranium core for the 'bullet', the hole through the neutron reflector it passes through, and the 'tamper' of beryllium behind the bullet that completes the reflector when the bullet is fired.

Also missing is the 'safing' pin that passes through the barrel of the gun and is removed when the weapon is armed; all the early-generation gun-type weapons that entered service with the superpowers, including the original 'Little Boy', have a crude mechanical interdiction device. Maybe the initial concept didn't include such a thing, but we've been shown a diagram that is so detailed as to include the structural components of the casing; surely this would show the safety interlocks and access point for arming the warhead! The propellant cartridge is a bit on the small side, too... and I see no evidence of a barometric fuse or radar altimeter to detonate the weapon. Maybe one of the squiggles is a timing device.

Nope, it's a fake.

*Predetonation is one of the reasons that plutonium from the civil fuel cycle is next to useless for a military programme: the longer you leave the fuel in the reactor, the more Pu-240 you get. Simple implosion devices have to be 93% pure Pu-239; you can get lower grade Pu to detonate but this needs a very sophisticated warhead configuration with tritium for fission-boosting. Supercomputer simulation and an extensive test programme are required to make this work. Alternately, you can do isotopic separation on the Plutonium but this is exactly the time-consuming and expensive process from the Uranium enrichment programme that you were hoping to avoid in the first place by using Pu. The USA did separate out a quantity of 'super-grade' Pu-239 at 99% isotopic purity but I am not aware that this moved beyond the research laboratory into a deployed weapon.