Monday, December 21, 2015

Facts Must Trump Politics

Update 8-4-16:

There are some related articles elsewhere on this site,  one of which seems to be modestly popular with readers (the 7-29-16 article).  Another one is just a funny (the 4-24-16 article).  All share the search keyword “idiocy in politics”.  Here’s the list:

8-4-16….Evaluation of Choices for 2016
7-29-16…..Stuff You Normally Do Not Think About
6-5-16…….Trump?  NO!!
4-24-16….Better Choices in November
12-21-15..Facts Must Trump Politics  (this one)

Update 7-27-16:  Today Trump publicly appealed to (state-supported) Russian hackers to uncover the missing Clinton state department emails.  Considering the bad state of affairs between the US and Russia,  due largely to Putin's ambitions for a new Russian empire,  this is borderline treason on Trump's part.  

"Aid and comfort to the enemy" with 6+ witnesses,  per the definition.  Putin wants Trump to win and hates Clinton.  He is trying to sway our election for his own purposes by releasing hacked Clinton files.  I really do not like that.  And I really hate the prospect of a president the Russians can influence so easily to their own ends.  

Update 6-12-16:  It's Clinton vs Trump for sure.  I absolutely do not want loose-cannon Trump!  

The real question now is whether Clinton can overcome her trust issues well enough to pull in Sanders voters and beat Trump,  come November.  And,  there is the Elizabeth Warren factor.  I submit that both Warren and Sanders be made part of Clinton's proposed government for the Nov '16 ticket.  

I would recommend that Sanders be Clinton's VP,  and Warren be made some high cabinet post.  That would re-energize all the Sanders voters,  so that they would turn out and help greatly to defeat Trump.  Plus,  having Sanders in the White House as VP would put the brakes on Clinton's "shyster lawyer" attitude problem,  that causes all the negative trust issues she brings.  Plus,  having Warren in the cabinet helps pull in more yet of the newly-rising "left" in the Democratic party.  It's not about being totally-centrist anymore.  

I think it more important that Sanders be VP and Warren a Cabinet member,  than the other way around.  I think this would re-unify the Democrats better,  and contribute far more toward defeating Trump in November.  The shirt-tail effect says that Democrats could regain control of the Senate and perhaps the House,  in November,  if this is a convincing-enough win of the White House.  

As for "shyster lawyer" attitude problems with Clinton,  these summarize succinctly as (1) "rules are for other people",  and (2) "I'm only sorry I got caught".  She really needs somebody to offset these liabilities.  Sanders could do that better than Warren.

The matter of fact or fiction should be an objective decision.  Politics (or any other predilection) has nothing to do with whether something is factual or not.  This is something far too often ignored by politicians and appointed officials.   It is ignored by too many voters,  as well. 

Finger on the Nuclear Button

Anybody with their finger on the nuclear trigger button needs to base their decisions on real,  verifiable facts.  If they have a predilection for fictions instead of fact,  they are not qualified to hold that position.  Too much is stake to allow “convenient lies”,  or election-campaign “sound bites”,  or party agenda to substitute for rational and informed thought. 


Anybody with decision-making authority about immigration needs to base their decisions on real,  verifiable facts.   It is simply too easy to discriminate arbitrarily if these decisions are made based on political fictions.   This evil usually takes the form of a scapegoat group to be blamed for all ills,  which is really how you recognize when you are being lied to.   The last notable example was Adolf Hitler,  who blamed Jews for everything wrong in Germany after World War 1.  And then he tried to kill them all.   And we all know how well that episode turned out. 

Safety Net Programs

Anybody making decisions about the social safety nets we choose to employ (such as Social Security and Medicare) needs to make those decisions upon verifiable facts.  To do otherwise is egregious discrimination against those who happen not to be so very wealthy.   Such discrimination is wrong,  no matter what form it takes.

Regulations on the Economy

Anyone making decisions about the regulations upon our economy needs to base their decisions upon verifiable fact,  including the historically-demonstrated fact that completely-unregulated capitalism has always degenerated into piracy and economic slavery.  It’s simply not a fair market if there are no rules to ensure fair play. 

Regulated to avoid these abuses,  capitalism then takes its rightful place as the most powerful engine of creation ever devised by man.  These are the “two-sides-of-the-same-coin” facts that should never be “trumped” by political ideologies.  From any party,  or any sub-group.

Climate Change

Anybody making decisions about what to do in response to climate change needs to base their decisions upon verifiable facts,  including the demonstrated reality of climate change,  regardless of who or what might be causing it.  Much more than just this year’s bottom lines for some giant corporations is involved with this issue. 

In General

Similar considerations apply to any issue one cares to raise.   Facts are key,  and what is fact is not a political decision. 

My message is this:  pay attention to fact-checking when political campaigns go on.  You will have to take off your political blinders and propaganda lenses to do this effectively.  Ditch the political belief systems.  Do not believe the propaganda.  Look only at what actually “is”.  Candidates who play fast and loose with facts are simply not qualified to make decisions about your lives.   Do not vote for them.

So few elected (or appointed) officials qualify today as people who deal in real facts.  That is why I have generally not voted “for” anyone in decades.  I generally vote instead only for the lesser of the evils available,  and evil they usually are,  because of the money that buys elections.  The common man cannot afford to run for office in our USA.  That has been true for about 200 years now,  and it desperately needs to be changed. 

If in doubt,  I vote “no” or “against”.  That policy has served me well.  

Update:  Specifics for Election Year 2016

Donald J. TrumpNO!!!!  Here’s why:  complete denial of facts on every issue listed above,  which means he is completely unqualified to be making decisions affecting the entire country.  His shifting and extreme positions are designed to create buzz,  not solutions.  Putin likes the idea of President Trump,  because it would be easy to push a publicity-hound clown around,  and with him,  the entire country.   Trump is unstable and extremist enough that I absolutely do not want his finger on the nuclear button!

Update 2-25-16:  nothing but a power-hungry demagogue who tells lies about others,  provides a group to blame for our troubles,  provides platitudes-not-plans when he speaks;  as a result,  he reminds me of no one so much as Adolf Hitler running for office in early 1930's Germany.   We do NOT meed to repeat that history!  

Update 3-16-16:  the violence of Trump supporters suppressing opposition at his rallies is chillingly reminiscent of Hitler and his SA "brown shirts" at rallies in Germany in the late 1920's and early 1930's,  and also of Mussolini's fascisti "black shirts" in the 1920's.  

Ted CruzNO!!!!  Here’s why:  the not-Trump choice for the GOP is really just a Trump “mini-me”.  He has exactly the same problems with denial of facts and with extremist nonsense to create buzz,  not solutions.  Therefore,  he is similarly not qualified to be making decisions for the entire country.  He’s a tea party favorite (infamous for their “my way or the highway” approach to things that prevents effective governance),  and would govern for party advantage at the expense of the people (a real evil bordering upon treason during wartime).   He has already demonstrated this by orchestrating the government shutdown.  He is far too extremist to have his finger on the nuclear button. 

Update 2-25-16:  nothing but a power-hungry demagogue who tells lies about others,  provides a group to blame for our troubles,  provides platitudes-not-plans when he speaks;  otherwise identical to Trump in every other way,  which is why I call him a Trump "mini-me".  The same comparison to 1930-vintage Hitler applies.  Just as with Trump,  we do NOT need to repeat that history!

Marco Rubio – He might be acceptable as long he does not have a party majority in both houses of Congress to support him.  His approaches to many issues seem reasoned and reasonable.  But he’s awfully young:  I’d like to see him serve another term in the Senate before attempting the Presidency.   That is the problem we already just had with Obama (who also should have gained more experience in the Senate before becoming President).   I don’t know enough about him to trust that he will govern for the benefit of all,  and not just govern for party advantage at the expense of the people,  which is why I don’t want his party in control of both houses if he were President. 

Update 3-16-16:  it would appear that other folks noticed the same young/inexperienced factor that I called out in the preceding paragraph.  He did not win his home state,  and pulled out.  

Jeb Bush – Seems to be similar in many ways to Rubio,  plus he has real experience at governing that Rubio does not have.  I know enough about him to think that he would try to govern for the benefit of all,  and not just for party advantage,  but only so long as he surrounds himself with a diversity of advisors.  His brother (Bush 43) already made that mistake:  surrounded by nothing but neocons who wanted to wage war for oil,  that’s what “W” did.  Jeb is not “W”,  but the same risk is still there.  So I’d rather not see him supported by a party majority in both houses of Congress,  should he be elected.  Update 2-25-16:  now out of the running unless drafted at the convention.  

Chris Christie – This one may be the best the Republicans have to offer,  by far.  He has experience governing,  he has the backbone to be forceful in foreign affairs,  and he has the wisdom to set aside party considerations and govern for the benefit of all (demonstrated during Hurricane Sandy).  I suspect he would make an acceptable president regardless of who controls Congress.   He might even be a good one.  I do hope the Republicans avoid the Trump vs “not-Trump” Cruz choice at their convention,  by drafting Christie.  Update 2-25-16:  now out of the running unless drafted at the convention.  Update 2-29-16:  has backed Trump,  which I find disappointing (but not at all surprising,  after how his own party has treated him,  following the Hurricane Sandy ordeal).  

Update 3-16-16:  The only remaining non-extremist candidate among the Republicans is Kasich of Ohio.  I hope his win in Ohio forces the GOP to a brokered convention fight and results in an acceptable candidate in November.  Otherwise,  it doesn't matter who the Democrats run,  whoever it is gets my vote to avoid a Hitleresque extremist takeover of the White House.  We are in danger!

Hillary Clinton – She certainly has the experience in governance,  and she certainly has the backbone to deal with foreign affairs.  But she is demonstrably afflicted with a bad case of “shyster-lawyer” attitude:  (1) a predilection for lying,  and (2) a disregard for the rules.  This shows up as low rating for trust in the polls.  She was the brains and ambition behind Bill,  but does not have Bill’s grasp of doing right by the people (a sort of “noblesse oblige”).  I think she would not go off “half-cocked” on the nuclear button.  She might be acceptable as President,  but the shyster-lawyer effect will cause her to have scandal after scandal,  just as it always has since Bill was President.  So there are very definite and serious pluses and minuses with her. 

Bernie Sanders – I don’t yet know a lot about him.  He seems quite personable and reasonable,  just to hear him talk.  A self-described “democratic socialist”,  I’m not at all sure he is as far-left as he seems to many.  He’s probably only “left-center” for the New England region he comes from.  He does have experience in government,  and is demonstrably independent-of-party enough to trust that he would try to govern for the benefit of all of us.  Might actually be an acceptable President.  I think he would be trustable with the nuclear button. 

Update 2-25-16:  the more I hear him speak,  the better he sounds. I just wish he had not tarred himself with the self-description "socialist democrat".  Nowhere near as crazy as Trump or Cruz.  Does not carry all the scandal baggage that Hillary Clinton brings.  

Republican Agenda – as a broad-brush generalization:  tax breaks that almost exclusively favor the rich,  justified by “trickle-down economics” (something tried since Reagan and it has never,  ever worked).  These tax breaks are a reward for campaign contributions from those same rich entities.  The Republicans talk a lot about reducing the size and expense of government,  but never actually do it.  They do tend to be stronger and more forceful as regards foreign affairs,  although this sometimes gets us into deep trouble (example:  recent neocon wars for oil in the middle east under Bush 43). 

Problem:  the Republican party is tearing itself apart without actually splitting.  The extremist right wing coalition (of tea party political extremists and extremist Christians) has the party hog-tied into a turn to the extreme right,  without actually being a majority within the party.  If the split were actually to happen,  neither group would have the following to be a factor in national politics,  which is precisely why they have not yet split.  Eventually,  they will,  or else the Republicans will eventually fade from national significance.  Most Americans have a distaste for extremism. 

Most of their social agenda (top issues:  overturning abortion and Obamacare) I vehemently disagree with:  I think Roe vs Wade better represents the majority of Americans,  and I have seen no concrete proposals to replace Obamacare.  They do support Second Amendment gun rights,  which I agree with. 

Update 2-25-16:  I can certainly see the influence that the tea party/ extremist fundamentalist Christian base is having:  all the GOP candidates running locally here in central Texas are going out of their way to out-Trump Trump.  All I see in their ad campaigns is "blame the illegal immigrants for everything" nonsense,  coupled with defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Roe vs Wade nonsense.  Sounds almost exactly like 1932 Germany.  

Democrat Agenda – I pretty much agree with their social agenda,  excepting increased gun control,  which I utterly abhor.  The party tends to adopt measures immediately,  with the promise to figure out how to fund it later,  which they never do (neither do the Republicans).  They do tend to believe in a larger,  more-activist government,  and the more left-leaning members are more willing to experiment with social engineering,  something I don’t think wise.  (Actually,  the far-right Republicans also want to experiment with social engineering,  just different in the details,  but just as unwise.) 

Update 2-25-16:  the Democrats are very definitely the lesser of two evils,  pretty much at all levels from local to national.  I hate to say that,  but I will NOT vote for a bunch of Hitler clones.  

My own take on this is mixed:  there are things that only government can do,  and there are things that are better-supplied by our free market business communities.  Wisdom lies in knowing which is which,  a decision that should be objective and not political.  Government exists to provide those necessary things that business either cannot or will not supply.  Both parties have very serious failings regarding this.  The Democrats create more government offices and programs,  but (just like the Republicans) never act to eliminate them,  once they are no longer useful. 

The Democrats are stereotyped as “soft” on foreign affairs,  although FDR,  Harry Truman,  JFK,  LBJ,  and Barack Obama are all “exceptions”,  in my opinion.   (I include Obama because he has killed more people with drone attacks than George W. Bush ever even thought about.)  I really think this is more determined by individual personalities than it is by any sort of party agenda. 

I don’t like the way the Democrats (under LBJ) took the social security trust fund and made it part of the federal government general fund.  This is in large part why the social security program is now perceived as going broke.  This was done for political expedience,  and is only one example (among many) of why I think prioritizing party advantage above the good of all the people is tantamount to treason.

My hopes

I am not classifiable as either Republican or Democrat.  I am a “dyed-in-the-wool” independent.  I am an American,  first and foremost.  You might as well know that,  if you have not yet guessed. 

I hope the Democrats draft Joe Biden at their convention as the “not-Hillary” candidate who could actually win the election.  He is a decent,  thoughtful man,  with lots of direct relevant experience in government.  He could be a good President,  perhaps even a great one,  occasional “foot-in-mouth disease” notwithstanding.  He can be trusted with the nuclear button.  I think he can be trusted to prioritize serving all the people above party advantage.  Update 3-3-16:  if they drafted Sanders,  I'd be OK with that.  

I hope the Republicans draft Chris Christie at their convention as the (1) not-Trump,  and (2) not Trump‘s “mini-me” (meaning Cruz) candidate.  Christie could actually win the election.  As described above,  I think he could be a good President.  Essentially,  these are the same reasons that underlie my opinion of Biden.  Update 3-3-16:  unfortunately,  he has become a symbol of scorn as "Trump's hostage".  I was disappointed in him for endorsing Trump.  His political credibility has pretty much now zeroed because of that.  

I don’t know anything about any of the other candidates not named above.  Accordingly,  my rule-of-thumb would be vote “against”.  I’m sorry if that offends,  but my policy of voting “no” or “against” when I don’t know,  has served me well for a very long time now. 

Best-case scenario:  the election is Biden versus Christie.  Either could serve well,  regardless of who controls the houses of Congress.  I would hope that both men have the wisdom to include the other man as a major figure in his government,  whichever man wins.  Nothing could be more healing of the division among Americans,  both symbolically,  and in a very real-and-practical sense. 

Worst-case scenario:  the election is Trump versus Hillary.  I’d have to vote for Hillary as the lesser of two considerable evils.  I think I can trust her finger on the nuclear button.  Trump,  I do not trust at all,  with the nuclear button. 

Probable Scenario:  Trump (high) or Cruz (low) versus Hillary Clinton.  Frankly,  I'd vote against either Trump or Cruz no matter who the Democrats run!  We simply cannot afford to have the White House taken over by an extremist,  with his finger on the nuclear button.  I hope that Clinton has the wisdom to include Sanders in her proposed government.  Especially if he was her running mate,  I think the Dems would stomp a GOP-extremist in November,  thus saving us from a clone of the Third Reich right here in America.  

Update 2-9-16:  I see no reason to change any of these evaluations.  

Update 2-25-16:  see dated red text inserted above,  in multiple locations.  

Update 2-29-16:  see dated blue text inserted above,  in one location.

Update 3-3-16:  see purple text inserted two places above.  

Update 3-16-16:  see orange text inserted four places above.

Update 6-8-16:  It will be Clinton vs Trump.  Trump is simply unacceptable,  to almost anyone of  remotely-decent common sense,  including an awful lot of Republicans.  Clinton,  in spite of her historic low approval ratings,  is definitely the lesser of two evils.  

The Democrats could ensure that they win by a landslide in November,  if they run Sanders as Clinton's VP candidate.  He would tend to keep her more honest if he were a major part of her government.  A lot of people have a "gut feel" that would agree.  And he would be there to represent the wishes of those who supported him.  

It's a winning ticket (Clinton + Sanders vs Trump + whoever).  I hope the Democrats are wise enough to recognize that during their convention (Update 8-13-16 -- they were not,  but they were wise enough to include a lot of Sanders' issues as their platform).  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

"White Trash Christmas" 2015

This is the Christmas 2015 version of what has become our traditional Christmas yard display at the Johnson household.  We call it "White Trash Christmas".

The tree is something I built for the City of McGregor some years ago,  something I call the "Iron Christmas Tree".   The city doesn't use it anymore,  so we do.  It erects easily,  but knocks down to store in a very small space.  I made it out of rebar and all-thread rod,  plus some odds and ends for fittings.

The Santa-and-reindeer paraody is a cheap plastic Santa with a light inside,  using a wheelbarrow as his sleigh,  and a garbage bag in an old steel trash can as his bag of toys.  The reindeer team is a set of plastic lawn flamingoes with pipe-cleaner "antlers",  all lit up internally,  and all "hitched" to the "sleigh" with yellow caution tape.

You'll notice there are 10 flamingoes,  not eight.  The lone leader is "Rudolph",  followed by four pairs for eight,  all named as in the poem,  and a lone follower named "Bambi".  I haven't figured out yet how to give "Rudolph" a glowing red nose (beak).

This display has been our yard decoration since about 1997 or 1998.  It has taken multiple forms over the years,  but this seems to be the funniest.  I hope you like it as well as we do.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Bounding Analysis: Single Stage to Orbit Spaceplane, Vertical Launch

The question at hand is:  how feasible is a single-stage spaceplane to orbit and back,  that has airliner-like characteristics in order to lower ticket costs for passengers,  or per-pound costs for cargo (or any other effectiveness criterion, including the difficulty and cost of military missions).  The notion behind this question is that until spaceships can be operated like airplanes,  costs of access to orbit will simply be too high to do anything but the most critical tasks there,  the ones for which cost is ignored. 

To answer the question at hand I did a little approximate bounding calculation.  I used the weight statement of a well-proven,  long-serving airliner as the weight statement for my spaceplane.  I assumed a vertical launch,  non-lifting ballistic fast ascent to minimize gravity and drag losses at about 10% of the orbital speed to be achieved.  (If you stay low at very high speed,  the drag losses can easily exceed 100%-300% of orbit speed.)  I also assumed on-orbit,  de-orbit,  and go-around-at-landing propulsion weights to be part of the inert weights on ascent (!!!!). 

Some may argue with my using the high inert weight fraction of the airliner for the spaceplane.  But I would remind them that if you want true airliner characteristics,  then the vehicle must be able serve for about half a century and about 40,000 landing/take-off cycles,  without a single major airframe rebuild.  That’s what airliners do,  and their airframes not subjected to the abusive loads that a spacecraft must endure.  We are talking about an aluminum airframe whose entire exterior must be protected by some sort of reusable heat shield (which must serve just as long without a rebuild).  The 5-10% inert fractions of rocket stages are just entirely inappropriate assumptions to make for a winged spaceplane. 

The analysis uses the rocket equation with a corrected delta-vee requirement.  I used 25,000 ft/sec as the velocity to be achieved (maybe 26,000 is better,  but so what?).  This is for a low Earth orbit eastward at no more than about 23 degrees inclination.  Orbital altitude might be around 100-300 statute miles. 

I used customary US units for this;  metric conversions for mass in lbm (usually the meaning of weights in lb) are 2.205 lbm = 1.0 kg.  Conversions for thrust:  1.0 lb = 4.45 Newtons.  Weight (mass) ratios and Isp,  sec need no conversion.  For lengths,  1.0 meter = 3.2808333 feet.  I did approximate the rocket exhaust velocity as Isp x standard acceleration of gravity.  1 statute mile = 1.609 km. 

The situation and aircraft data that I used are given in Figure 1.  The spaceplane specific impulse (Isp) requirements shown there are to be interpreted as an average for the entire ascent trajectory.  Note that the max cargo weight and max fuel capacity of the Boeing 747-100 airplane cannot both be had,  simultaneously.  The gross weight limitation restricts the sum of these to a fixed amount shown in the figure. 

I went ahead and used these limitations to figure my spaceplane at max payload and at max fuel load.  I solved the rocket equation for a given mass ratio and theoretical delta-vee,  for the exhaust velocity required to accomplish the mission,  and then converted that to a trajectory-averaged specific impulse (Isp) requirement.  At modest acceleration,  you leave the air at about Mach 2 / 130,000 feet conditions,  still near vertical.    The depression to horizontal and acceleration to high speed occurs exoatmospheric. 

There is a thrust greater than weight requirement for vertical takeoff that combines with a diameter limit,  into a frontal thrust density that must be equaled or exceeded in order to lift off.  Later in the trajectory,  because the ascent is still near-vertical,  thrust minus drag and that same diameter combine so that the same frontal net force density must still be exceeded in order to continue climbing.  Those estimates are also given in the figure.  

 Figure 1 – The Data Used for the Bounding Analysis

I did not even try to estimate drag data.  But,  on a frontal cross section area basis (not wing planform area !!!!),  it would be very hard indeed to imagine any shape with a drag coefficient averaging less than 0.4 across the speed range from launch to atmospheric exit at around Mach 2-ish.  Drag is a very significant force,  especially around Mach 0.9 to 1.3 (transonic).  At Mach 1 and 45,000 ft conditions,  that would be 5000-6000 lb of drag at the very least,  even without considering that in the real world very few drag coefficients would be under 1.2 (not 0.4) at Mach 1 speeds.  The drag could easily be 3-4 times larger than those numbers. 

It is very important to understand that there are both specific impulse and frontal thrust density requirements that simultaneously must be met,  in order to achieve results in this scenario.  These have to be met on a trajectory that begins at zero speed,  vertical,  at sea level,  and that leaves the sensible atmosphere at about Mach 2 (2000 ft/sec),  still near-vertical,  at around 130,000 feet or so. 

                Trajectory averaged Isp, sec                       
                >1469/min payload         
                >4002/max payload

                Launch frontal thrust density, psf             
                >3900/min payload         
                >3900/max payload

                M=1 @ 45 kft net force density, psf         
                >3900/min payload         
                >3900/max payload

So,  what are the possible propulsion concepts,  and what are their characteristics,  as expressed in these terms?  For my bounding calculation,  I looked at technologies we actually have,  and at technologies we don’t actually have,  but which we could actually develop.  That excludes “Star Trek” warp and impulse drives,  and other similar things,  for which there exists no science.  The list is:

                Chemical rocket propulsion (as demonstrated,  not theoretical things which proved impossible)
                Nuclear-thermal rocket propulsion (including both solid and gas core concepts)
                Chemical airbreathers (ramjet,  gas turbine,  and scramjet)
                Nuclear airbreathers (nuclear scramjet)
                Nuclear pulse (explosion) propulsion (included with the rocket data as “rocket-like”)

Figure 2 contains the typical characteristics of three common chemical rocket systems,  the projected characteristics of multiple nuclear thermal rocket concepts as best we know them,  and the typical characteristics quoted for nuclear pulse propulsion as it was proposed circa 1959 during Project Orion.  There are all the rocket reaction propulsion concepts that we have,  aside from the extremely low-thrust electric concepts,  which are clearly not candidates for this application. 

The chemical rocket systems have the thrust density to take off vertically and accelerate upward,  but they lack the required specific impulse capability by a very large margin.  The one nuclear thermal rocket for which we have real test data likely cannot meet the thrust density requirement to take off and climb due to its low engine thrust/weight ratio,  plus,  it lacks the specific impulse capability to meet the needs of the low payload fraction case.

The gas core nuclear thermal rocket concepts are exactly that:  concepts.  None has ever been built and tested.  So the data are just best guesses.   These concepts very likely have much better engine thrust/weight ratios,  so that frontal thrust density requirements might be met,  as long as no waste heat radiator is required.   The closed-cycle gas core “nuclear light bulb” engine comes close to meeting specific impulse requirements with a clean exhaust for the low payload fraction case.  The open-cycle gas core engine definitely satisfies the impulse for the low payload fraction case,  but has a radioactive exhaust plume.  None meet requirements for the high payload fraction case,  for which the economics would be more feasible. 

Only nuclear pulse propulsion meets the impulse requirements and the frontal thrust density requirements,  and for both cases:  low and high payload fraction.  There are two very serious downsides:  the vehicle must be very large (over 5000 tons at launch,  preferably over 10,000 tons),  and the “exhaust stream” is quite literally a series of nuclear explosions in the atmosphere,  starting with a surface burst.  Not only is there radiation released,  there is a very destructive EMP.

 Figure 2 – Characteristics of Rocket and Pulse Propulsion Systems

Therefore,  of the rocket and rocket-like concepts,  only the “nuclear lightbulb” engine might possibly serve,  and then only if the weight statement can be adjusted to make 1300 sec Isp feasible.  This will be a difficult design to do,  without a lot of margin,  and with a reduced payload fraction that makes the economics more difficult.  Such a weight statement might be ascent inerts 0.40,  ascent propellant 0.50,  and payload 0.10,  remembering that “ascent inerts” includes on-orbit,  de-orbit,  and landing go-around propulsion that is not the nuclear ascent engine. 

The airbreathers are summarized in Figure 3.  At first glance,  the Isp’s of the ramjet and the gas turbines looks attractive,  but upon further inspection the frontal thrust densities are clearly not feasible.  Further,  the impulses are only attractive in a narrow band of speeds.  Variable inlets do not change this.

The ramjet depicted is a supersonic design with a minimum operating Mach number of 2,  which happens just as the vertically-launched spaceplane is leaving the sensible atmosphere somewhere above 100,000 feet.  A subsonic design that could ignite somewhere around Mach 0.7 and burn to about Mach 2-2.5 usefully,  but would have about half to two-thirds the listed impulse capability,  which renders it infeasible.  At altitude,  the frontal thrust densities are also completely infeasible,  unless these were staged-off strap-ons very much larger than the spaceplane’s fuselage.  It is staging we are trying to get away from here! 

Neither gas turbine design has the frontal thrust density to take off vertically at all,  so this kind of propulsion would also have to be gigantic strap-ons that get staged off.  Not feasible by definition. 

The basic message here seems to be that the airbreathers are very probably not very useful for vertically-launched fast ascent trajectories if no staging is allowable.  They might well be useful for a horizontal-takeoff,  depressed-trajectory design,  at the cost of enormous drag losses.  But that is a different scenario!

Figure 3 – Characteristics of Existing Airbreather Systems (Ramjet and Gas Turbine)

A nuclear ramjet is no better:  although its effective specific impulses are higher (you need to look at air specific impulse instead of fuel specific impulse to compare fairly,  the fuel air ratio embodied in the chemical ramjet data is .074),  the frontal thrust density is no better than the chemical ramjet.  It may well be worse due to the impact of a very heavy core on engine sizing.  Plus,  its exhaust stream is intensely radioactive,  based upon the Project Pluto nuclear ramjet ground tests decades ago. 

The best-guess estimates for scramjet characteristics are given in Figure 4.  These are impulse and frontal thrust densities similar to ramjet,  but achieved only at Mach numbers larger than 4,  the utter-minimum takeover speed.  These Mach numbers are simply incompatible with the vertical launch scenario.  The impulses look marginally-attractive in a narrow range of speeds,  but the frontal thrust densities at stratospheric altitudes are infeasible.  Going nuclear does not help the fundamental incompatibility  of a very high-speed airbreather on this trajectory.  Where the vehicle reaches these speeds,  there is no air!

Figure 4 – Guessed Data for Supersonic-Combustion Ramjet (Scramjet) Systems (Chemical and Nuclear)

So,  there are only two known propulsion concepts that could support a vertically-launched single stage spaceplane with operating characteristics of an airliner.  One is the “nuclear light bulb” version of the gas core nuclear thermal rocket,  which likely could support payload fractions around 5-10%,  if it actually existed,  which it does not.  What that really says is that this “nuclear light bulb” engine ought to be a major development priority.  It is not. 

The other is nuclear pulse propulsion,  which would only work in vehicle sizes far beyond anything ever before constructed,  and at the social cost of uncontained nuclear explosions in the atmosphere.  The EMP is probably actually more dangerous than the radioactivity,  but the radioactivity will be the political killer of this idea. 

So that leaves only the “nuclear light bulb” as a feasible propulsion for this kind of spaceplane.  But for vertically-launched fast ascent,  this looks to be entirely feasible.  Which means that its mythical engine should be a high-priority development.  

The only other approach to a single stage spaceplane to orbit would be a horizontally-launched craft with a depressed trajectory to make airbreathers feasible for a small portion of the ascent,  trading their impulse advantage against the enormous drag losses of flying fast down in the atmosphere.  The last program to attempt that approach was X-30,  which failed.  (It is very difficult to do realistic estimates for that kind of trajectory,  unlike this scenario.)  

PS:  The ramjet data were obtained with my latest version of the high-speed range cycle codes for sizing and performance.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why Air Is Hot When You Fly Fast

This article is for readers who are not trained in high speed compressible aerothermodynamics,  but who wish to understand why air friction and capture processes make air so very hot when you fly very fast through it.  The article explains why there is no such thing as cooling air,  once you have busted Mach to any significant amount.  

Captured Air (Scooped-Up by Any Sort of Inlet,  Including Cooling Air Inlets)

In order to do anything with atmospheric air inside a flight vehicle,  you have to scoop it up,  and decelerate it relative to yourself.  The air has a certain internal energy associated with its temperature,  plus some pressure energy associated with its ambient pressure.  Lumped together,  these are the air’s “enthalpy”,  the energy of its existence at those conditions. 

From your point of view inside the vehicle,  the air,  which has that certain enthalpy,  is also moving toward you very fast,  which is a kinetic energy.  Looked at from the air’s point of view,  it has to pick up an enormous speed in order to come aboard your vehicle.  Either way,  it is the same increment of kinetic energy. 

You add the kinetic energy change to the original enthalpy,  and that is the new enthalpy of the captured air at rest aboard your vehicle.  This enthalpy translates directly into a temperature measurement at the pressure conditions aboard your vehicle,  which are quite often different that in the ambient atmosphere.  What happens here is conservation of energy.  

Because of these changes in pressure,  it is more convenient to figure things directly from enthalpy,  symbolized as h in most textbooks on thermodynamics:

                h = m Cp T  (defined this simply only for absolute temperature)

where m is the mass,  Cp is the specific heat at constant pressure,  and T is the static (thermodynamic) temperature.  The energy that is conserved is the enthalpy h:

                h(ambient) + KE = h(on board)

where KE is the kinetic energy of the air 0.5 m V2,  and V is the absolute velocity of the vehicle.  If the velocity of the air once it is on-board is zero relative to the vehicle,  then its calculated temperature is maximum,  which we call the “total” or “stagnation” temperature.

If the air is still in motion aboard the vehicle at some velocity v,  then it still has some kinetic energy as measured on-board:

                KE(on board) = 0.5 m v2

Which must be subtracted from the on-board h in order to calculate the actual thermodynamic (“static”) air temperature.  That is why static temperature is always less than total temperature:  some of the energy that could have been enthalpy is still kinetic energy instead. 

Hot Boundary Layer Adjacent to Vehicle Skin

This phenomenon works by dissipation (waste) of energy,  instead of conservation of energy.  It is only readily apparent once vehicle flight speeds exceed transonic.  It has increasing effect very rapidly as supersonic speeds increase.  The effect is quite dominant in the hypersonic speed range. 

Understanding this effect requires the same “book-keeping” of static versus total temperature as before,  plus another calculated temperature called the “recovery temperature”.  This is an empirical concept that correlates how viscous dissipation converts KE to waste heat in the intense fluid shear zone that is a boundary layer adjacent to a flight vehicle’s lateral skin.  Yet the recovery temperature is an item that actually does physically exist,  and can be measured within that boundary layer. 

The difference between static temperature T and total temperature Tt is a measure of the air’s kinetic energy,  as already discussed above.  This increment represents the maximum possible energy that could be dissipated by viscous friction in the boundary layer.  Not all of it is wasted (although most of it is),  which is why recovery temperatures fall between static and total temperatures.

How much energy gets dissipated,  showing up as recovery temperature,  depends upon whether flow is laminar or turbulent.  For vehicles of ordinary size,  such flow is nearly always turbulent,  for reasons beyond scope here.

The correlation depends upon a property of the air called Prandtl number,  which for air is in the vicinity of 0.7.  The recovery factor applied to the total-minus-static temperature difference in the correlation for turbulent flow is the cube root of the Prandtl number (square root if laminar).  

Recovery temperatures Tr are the adjusted difference added to the static value.  These are very close to total temperatures,  the recovery factor being about 89% in turbulent flow.

The high-velocity dissipative boundary layer concept is shown in Figure 1What drives heat transfer to or from the skin is not the difference between skin and ambient temperatures,  but the difference between the skin and the (much higher) recovery temperature. 

I have plotted in Figures 2, 3, and 4 recovery (Tr) and total (Tt) temperatures vs flight Mach number at 3 different altitudes for a particular model of the atmosphere.  The ambient air static temperature T is different at each altitude.  Figure 5 shows how T varies with altitude in that model atmosphere (the US 1962 Standard Day model,  extended to the edge of space).  

The higher the ambient static temperature,  the higher the trend of Tr and Tt,  compared at the same flight Mach number.  Yet it is flight Mach number that dominates,  regardless.  If you are scooping cooling air,  and that air must be below boiling water temperatures to do its job,  then there is no such thing as cooling air for you at speeds between Mach 1.2 and 2,  regardless of which figure you examine.  Because the ambient static temperatures are the same,  the 110,000 ft data in Figure 4 looks just like data for 28,000 feet.  

If you look at the Tr or Tt data in the vicinity of Mach 6 in any of these figures,  you see temperatures in the vicinity of 3000 deg F.  For reference,  the meltpoint of iron and steel is 2935 F.  That,  more than anything else,  is why hypersonic flight is so very difficult.  

I apologize to readers who prefer metric units,  because these plots are not in metric units.  Here is the conversion information for you:

Deg F     the normal Fahrenheit non-metric temperature scale (corresponds to deg C in metric)
Deg R    the absolute Rankine non-metric temperature scale (corresponds to deg K in metric)
F and R use same size degree but different zero points,  0 R is absolute zero = -459.67 F

C and K use same size degree but different zero points,  0 K is absolute zero = -273.15 C
Deg K = deg R/1.8
Deg C = (deg F - 32)/1.8

Figure 1 -- Boundary Layer in High-Speed Flow

Figure 2 -- Temperatures vs Mach at Sea Level
Figure 3 -- Temperatures vs Mach in the Stratosphere

Figure 4 -- Temperatures vs Mach at Very High Flight Altitude

Figure 5 -- Temperatures vs Altitude in the Standard Day Model

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Oregon Mass Shooting and Gun Control

Update 12-3-2015:  

I still see absolutely nothing to change any of my views.  Please also see the yellow-highlighted text in the original posting below.  It is the fact set that supports my contention that stricter gun control is utter nonsense.

The shooter at the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado has turned out to be a locally-known nutcase who was never judged insane by a court.  Hence,  he could legally own and buy guns.  The way we choose to "keep guns out of the hands of the insane" is therefore so very clearly wrong.  Change that,  and most of this last year's mass shooting incidents go away.  But you MUST do something different about the way you keep guns out of the hands of crazy people!!!  Face facts!!!

The most recent attack in San Bernadino seems to be turning out to be a self-radicalized local citizen and his wife here on a "fiance visa".  It doesn't actually matter what sets them off,  once they believe in a radical creed which teaches that one must kill outsiders for God.  That simply isn't God they are listening to,  and until such teachings are eliminated from our midst,  we will always have this problem.  The problem is NOT the guns,  it IS the radical creeds.  All religions have them,  not just Islam,  although Islam is the source of our biggest radical creed problem in recent years.

The Planned Parenthood center in Colorado,  the government facility in San Bernadino,  and all the others we have witnessed (Newtown,  Gabby Giffords,  Columbine,  all of them),  were gun-free zones attacked by someone with a motive that made some sort of sense to them.  Every single one of these was effectively undefended,  a sitting-duck target.  THAT is why each was selected for attack by their respective perpetrators,  regardless of detailed motive.

This derives from a lesson that many Americans learned the hard way in the 19th century,  but is also a lesson so very clearly completely forgotten today.  There are perfectly-good reasons to have gun-free zones.  But,  once you create one,  you are obligated to defend it (the part which is so completely forgotten today).  The criterion for defending a gun-free zone that worked acceptably well in 19th century frontier America was very simple:   having an armed peace officer responding within 60 seconds,  no longer.  Period.  End of issue.

Fix THAT,  and you will greatly-reduce this wave of mass shootings in America.  Dealing properly with keeping guns out of the hands of crazy people will reduce it further.  But,  you will NOT stop them ALL,  until you completely eliminate all radical evil creeds from the entire world.   Yep,  the entire world!!!  Religious,  political,  makes no difference.  Evil creeds do evil.  Simple as that.

And,  by the way,  fearing Syrian refugees is nonsense.  No matter how effective or ineffective the refugee vetting process has been,  the fact is that not one refugee has caused a terrorist or mass shooting incident here.  All of our perpetrators have been either domestic citizens or persons here on some kind of visa.  That ought to tell you where the worst "leaks" requiring "fixes" really are.  Everything claimed otherwise is nothing but election-year political BS.

Update 11-16-2015:  I have seen nothing to change any of these opinions or conclusions.

Original Posting:

Yet another mass shooting (this one at a community college on Oregon) prompts yet again calls for stricter gun control laws.  That’s the “usual response”,  and it is wrong.  Here’s why….

If stricter gun control laws were actually successful at reducing violence,  then Chicago and Washington DC would be the safest cities in America in which to live,  precisely because they have the strictest gun control laws.  They are actually the most violent cities in America by the statistics,  and by far. 

So,  clearly,  this approach is wrong,  it does not work.  QED.  Get over it! 

Look a bit deeper than the customary knee-jerk reaction,  for something that might actually work,  and try that instead!  To keep trying something again and again,  that does not bring about what you want,  is a pretty good operational definition of insanity.  Just how insane are you,  my neighbors?

This means that you look for what might actually be causing the problem,  and do something about that,  instead.  You will not find it by listening to knee jerk reactions and political sound bites. 

You might try history instead,  but you’ll have to be read between the lines to find any truth in history.  It’s written only by the winners/survivors. 

If you look at mass shooting incidents over the last several years,  there are really only two common threads.  And that’s a good place to start.  (1) With one exception,  every one of these incidents is an example of people known to have mental problems getting guns legally.  (2) Without exception,  every single one of these was a gun-free zone that was not adequately defended. 

The exception to (1) was the Newtown school incident,  where the perpetrator obtained his guns illegally.  He killed his mother,  so he could get access to her guns,  otherwise locked up beyond his reach.  That right there ought to tell you something! 

Current laws are based on a federal standard that is essentially an “on-off switch” with too high a bar.  To be prevented from obtaining guns,  a crazy person must be judged crazy by a judge in a court of law.  Otherwise,  he may buy the gun legally,  and the seller has no grounds not to sell it to him.  Period. 

That’s demonstrably the wrong standard.  It was written that way to make things easy and convenient for lawyers and judges.  Yet it quite demonstrably kills people.  The people who sold “xxx” the gun with which he shot congresswoman Gabby Giffords were uncomfortable selling him a gun,  but they had no choice.  That is a matter of public record. 

It is simply outside my expertise to give you practical details,  but I do suggest a staged,  multi-step approach to this.  If a seller is uncomfortable,  that should spark a deeper investigation by local law enforcement than just a review of existing paperwork on file.  Family,  friends,  and colleagues should be questioned about just how well we can trust “xxx” to behave responsibly with his weapons. 

As for item (2) defense of a gun free zone,  we have the example of the 19th century American frontier.  There are perfectly-good reasons to establish gun-free zones,  well-known since long before that time.  It actually works quite well to reduce violence,  if done correctly.  Not done correctly,  this approach demonstrably does not work.

There are two items,  completely forgotten today,  that are required to do a gun-free zone correctly.  (1) An easy way to comply by checking your weapons with local law enforcement when you enter the gun-free zone,  with easy retrieval when you leave.  (2) Timely defense of the gun-free zone (extremely crucial).  Of the two,  (2) is more important,  but both are actually crucial to success.  

The history of the 19th century American frontier confirms this assessment,  if and only if you look very closely at it. 

Today,  we completely ignore item (1),  and force people who are armed to leave their guns at home,  or (more damaging to us all),  in their cars.  Guns left in cars are targets for criminals who steal them and use them to commit violent crimes.  Period.  End of issue.  Not to mention terrorists. 

We have known this since the 19th century.  That’s why back then,  you checked your guns with the local sheriff/town marshal/constable (pick a name) when you entered town.  You knew they would be safe in his custody.  And you knew you could drop by his office and pick them up easily when you left town.  This stopped a huge proportion of the drunken-cowboy gunfights in saloons. 

Item (2) is more arguable today.  Back then,  a town was a physically-small thing around 2,  or at most 3,  modern city blocks in dimension.  An armed deputy could arrive anywhere in town within about 60 seconds,  at a dog trot. 

This standard of response time actually worked quite well.  It did not prevent every problem,   but it did prevent the vast majority of them.  That’s the real truth of our history. 

There’s absolutely nothing in any of the accounts to suggest that anything is any different today.  In point of fact,  the longer the response time,  the worse the typical outcome.  5 minutes is too long.  20+ minutes is way too long.  Period.

Now,  the mistake made at every mass shooting site in the last several years is not defending the gun-free zone adequately (essentially a 60-second response).    

In Oregon,  they not only declined to have an armed officer on site,  they declined to have an unarmed officer on site (all this is a matter of public record).  Just how stupid is that?

So,  what do you defend your gun-free zone with?  I suggest that only folks with actual peace officer training qualify.  You are quite literally counting on whoever might be armed to do a peace officer’s job. 

The holder of a concealed-carry permit might be trained in what he can and cannot do with his firearm,  but HE HAS NOT BEEN TRAINED TO BE A PEACE OFFICERThere’s quite a difference. 

What that says is that Donald Trump is wrong when he says the faculty should have been armed at the community college in Oregon.  It takes a real peace officer to defend a gun-free zone,  just like it did in the 19th century American  frontier.  

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Go Look It Up for Yourself

I get very angry with the widespread and flagrant abuse of the words “liberal” and “conservative” for over-hyped political activity.  What angers me most is how these words are used by each side to defame the other,  with all sorts of political agenda items incorrectly implied to be part of their definitions.

I suggest that you go look up the definitions for yourselves,  but I already know that the most flagrant abusers will not do that.  So,  here are the definitions from my old “Random House Dictionary of the English Language,  College Edition”,  published in 1968 by Random House,  New York,  and based upon their larger volume “Random House Dictionary of the English Language,  Unabridged Edition”,  from 1966 and 1967.  (Nothing about these words has truly changed since then.) 

(Page 286) conservative:  adj 1. disposed to preserve existing conditions,  institutions,  etc.,  and to resist change.  2. cautious,  moderate:  “a conservative estimate”.  3. traditional in style or manner;  avoiding showiness:  “a suit of conservative cut”.  4. (cap.) of or pertaining to the Conservative party.  5. of or pertaining to political conservatism.  6.  having the power or tendency to conserve; preservative.  7. of or pertaining to Conservative Judaism or Conservative Jews.  n.  8. a person who is conservative in principles,  actions,  habits,  etc.  9.  a member of a conservative political party.  10.  a preservative.

Definitions 1,  2,  5,  8,  and 9 pertain to American politics.  Accordingly,  here is a related definition:

(Page 286) conservatism: n.  1. the disposition to preserve what is established and to resist change.  2.  the principles and practices of political conservatives.

The sense of all that for American politics,  expressed colloquially,  is that a political conservative is dominated by the idea that “if it ain’t broke,  don’t fix it”.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But it isn’t a complete philosophy,  because not all traditions do for us what we want. 

(Page 772) liberal:  adj 1. favorable to progress or reform,  as in religious or political affairs.  2. (often cap.) noting or pertaining to a political party advocating measures of progressive political reform.  3.  of or pertaining to representational forms of government rather than aristocracies or monarchies.  4.  of,  or pertaining to,  based on,  or advocating liberalism.  5. favorable to or in accord with concepts of maximum individual freedom possible,  especially as guaranteed by law and secured by governmental protection of civil liberties.  6. favoring or permitting freedom of action,  especially with respect to matters of personal belief or expression.  7.  free from prejudice or bigotry,  tolerant.  8.  open-minded or tolerant,  especially free of or not bound by traditional or conventional ideas,  values,  etc.  9. characterized by generosity and willingness to give in large amounts.  10. given freely or abundantly.  11. not strict or rigorous;  free;  not literal.  12. of,  pertaining to,  or befitting a freeman.  n. 13. a person of liberal principles or views.  14. (often cap.) a member of a liberal party in politics,  especially of the Liberal Party in Great Britain.

Definitions 1,  2,  4,  13,  and 14 pertain to American politics.  Accordingly,  here is a related definition:

(Page 772) liberalism: n. 1. the quality or state of being liberal,  as in behavior,  attitude,  etc.  2. (sometimes cap.) the principles and practices of a liberal party in politics.  3. a political or social philosophy advocating the freedom of the individual,  and governmental guarantees of individual rights and civil liberties.  4.  a movement in modern Protestantism that emphasizes freedom from tradition and authority in matters of belief. 

The sense of all that for American politics,  expressed colloquially,  is that a political liberal is dominated by the idea that “if it is broke,  then do fix it”.  And there is nothing wrong with that.  But it isn’t a complete philosophy,  either,  because some traditions really do work well for us. 

I submit to you all that both ideas are absolutely essential to the good governance of our country,  at all levels.  All of us must be both liberal and conservative,  whichever need arises,  and whenever they show up. 

What you really have to decide is whether something is “broken”,  meaning dysfunctional,  not serving its intended purpose.  If it is,  the intelligent thing to do is to be a “liberal” and fix it.  If it is not,  the intelligent thing to do is to be a “conservative” and leave it alone.  It’s really just that simple. 

The key advice I have to offer is to base your decision on whether something is “broke” on nothing but simple objective functionality.  That functionality evaluation should be a matter of demonstrable fact,  not anything political at all.  To do otherwise is a part of the madness that renders our governments so ineffective,  at all levels today.

The rest of that madness derives from dividing into two pigeon-hole categories (whose philosophies are dangerously incomplete at best),  and then each side misusing the words to tar the other.


Religious Freedom vs Sworn Duty?

Update 11-16-2015:  I have seen nothing since that would change any of these opinions or conclusions.

Original Posting:

Kim Davis,  a county clerk in Kentucky,  was recently sent to jail for contempt of court.  This was for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples,  on account of her personal religious beliefs.  This refusal is in violation of a recent US Supreme Court decision making such licenses legal,  nationwide.

She has since been released.  But,  she is unrepentant,  and seems to have lots of supporters.

Videos posted on line do in fact show the nature of her interaction with that fraction of the public which actually is gay (under 10%).  She clearly refuses to issue the marriage license on account of her personal religious beliefs,  which in effect holds the requestor to the same religious practices as Ms. Davis

Yet issuing such licenses as this,  is the very nature of the job she holds.  It is county clerks who typically issue marriage licenses.  They are sworn to uphold the law regarding this function,  and many others. 

Nearly all of us have heard the old saw about how individual rights are not absolute:  your right to swing your fist ends before your fist reaches my nose.  We can always debate exactly where your right to swing your fist actually ends,  but the basic principle is always somewhere before you strike my nose,  no exceptions. 

Similarly,  all of you have a right to believe in any sort of religious traditions that you choose,  and to practice them in any way that suits you.  But,  that right of yours is not absolute.  Your right to practice your religion ends somewhere before you impose your personal beliefs and practices upon me.  Or anybody else.  Just like your right to swing your fist ends before you strike anybody. 

We do not all believe in exactly the same religious teachings.  That is precisely why we established a fundamental principle of separation of church and state,  for one thing. 

For another,  our common law must be the lowest common denominator we all can agree upon,  else the union will inevitably dissolve in some sort of insurrection.  We’ve seen this effect before – it led to the Civil War,  for one thing. 

To do otherwise than lowest common denominator for common law is thus demonstrably insane policy.  That common-denominator approach comes from the same limitations-on-rights principle as exists for fist-swinging.    In point of fact,  it underlies most of the truly fundamental American legal traditions. 

Ms. Davis is faced with a personal moral dilemma:  either she is true to her sworn oath to uphold the law,  or else she is true to her personal religious beliefs.  If she cannot find it within herself to issue marriage licenses to gay couples,  then she should not continue in her job as county clerk.  Simple as that. 

I would suggest that her county look for another position she could fill,  outside of this moral conflict,  before they either fire her,  or accept her resignation.  That is because her job expectations changed after she assumed the position,  thanks to the Supreme Court decision.  Fair is only fair. 

But,  I see no other practical options available to her,  or to her county. 

That being said,  this same limitations-on-rights principle has other applications in American life.  One obvious one has to do with the politics of abortion. 

Science says there is no distinct line between human life and not-life.  It is a gradual spectrum,  pure and simple.  Any line we draw is both purely human and entirely arbitrary.  Saying otherwise does not refute this truth. 

If you base your decision on the potential ability of cells to reproduce,  then you should never even contemplate clipping your fingernails.  That is patently ridiculous,  even to the most religiously-fundamentalist among us. 

Equally insane would be to base it on actual birth.  That’s because we have evidence of self-awareness in fetuses nearing full-term.  So where do you draw the line?  Everybody has a different suggestion,  but all lie between the two endpoints of conception and birth. 

But when you combine that inherent human uncertainty with the fact that not all of us share the same religious beliefs and practices,  you inevitably conclude that the “line” between human life and not-life is entirely an arbitrary matter.  There is no line,  except what we together choose to draw. 

Once you realize that any such line is arbitrary,  then inevitably it follows that we need to draw that line as the lowest common denominator that we all can agree upon.  We collectively,  who separately have such disparate beliefs,  must be able to live within any such law.  In other words,  the limitation-on-rights principle applies,  including any religious teachings we may bring to bear on the decision.

Why is this limitations-on-rights principle so important?  Why is separation of church and state so important?  These traditions are almost unique to America.  But,  these (and our other unique rule-of-law traditions) are the sources of much of our individual freedom.  That’s what makes them so important. 

Look at other countries that lack such traditions,  and you can readily see how easily one group dominates the others,  misusing religion to justify this,  and to justify virtually any atrocity to enforce it.  Africa and the Middle East are just eaten-up with that evil. 

We surely don’t want that here! Open that door for one,  you have opened it for all.  

Iran Nuclear Deal Nonsense

Update 4-9-17:

The conclusions of this article are now obsolete.  It has been superseded by “The Time Has Come to Deal With Iran and North Korea”,  dated 4-8-17,  with search keywords “current events”,  “Mideast threats”,  “North Korean rocket test”.  

Update 11-16-2015:  I have seen nothing since that would change any of these opinions,  conclusions,  or recommendations.

Original Posting:

I am so sick of all the political crap being spewed about the Iran nuclear deal that I could just throw up! 

The pros (mostly Democrats) talk about verification,  but not about what they would do if Iran cheats (and they will – see below).  The cons (mostly Republicans) cry excessively loudly about “how bad this deal is”,  but they have absolutely nothing credible to offer as an alternative (same as all the other things they want to reverse). 

I’m sick and tired of the whole lot of them.  But that’s a topic for another time.

The Iranians will cheat,  in fact there’s some hints floating around on the internet that their cheating attempts have already begun.  OK,  fine.  I have a plan for that. 

So,  there has to be a very dire consequence for cheating,  or else misbehavior and lying will continue unabated.  That’s been Iranian history ever since the old Shah was overthrown,  and even he was very far from truthful (I am an old guy,  I remember that). 

Don’t be misled,  Iran is not alone in this deceitfulness!  There are no Middle Eastern countries that value truth at all!  There never have been,  not since Hammurabi,  or the tales in the Old Testament (that Christians,  Jews,  and Muslims all share) would not read the way they do.  But that’s yet another topic for yet another time.

There is a solution to this problem that does not involve sending troops to the Middle East.  I don’t want to do that anymore,  no ordinary American does!  We’ve have quite enough of that BS in Afghanistan and Iraq,  thank you very much.  (I’m trying to be charitable here in how I express myself.)

But my solution does involve very extreme violence!  You must prepare yourself for that.  Nothing else is understood over there. 

If you do not make a grisly example of misbehavers,  then nobody over there will mend their ways.  They never have.  There’s over 5000 years of that very history recorded in the Old Testament,  verifying exactly what I contend.

What you do is start a countdown clock when the cheating reports start,  as regards the Iran nuclear deal.  You set the time interval fairly short,  somewhere between a week and a month;  there’s no point dragging this out. 

You tell them you started that countdown clock,  and if they do not correct their misbehavior (“here’s the written list”),  then you will nuke all of their nuclear facilities.  Period.  No argument.  No negotiation.  No leeway on the deadline. 

And then you carry out that threat,  on time.  You’ll have to,  as they will not believe it until you do it. 

Don’t tell them how you are going to do it!  But make this ultimatum quite public,  so all of Iran’s neighbors know in advance what is going to happen in that neighborhood.  “52 cards face up on the table”,  as it were. 

You do not want Russia,  for one,  to be surprised by what they see coming on the radar.  Because,  what I propose could risk World War 3,  if misinterpreted by any nuclear power in the region.  Leave zero room for misinterpretation on anybody’s part! 

Do NOT send warplanes.  Do NOT send bombers.  ABOVE ALLdo not send ships and troops.  Give them zero warning of what you are doing.  Hit their nuclear sites with nuke-tipped ICBM’s,  in at least 2 waves.  It’ll all be over,  in about 1 hour.

These sites we target are well outside Tehran and the other cities.  Civilian casualties will actually be very low,  if any at all.  But the message about “what could happen next” will NOT be lost on those ruling mullahs,  no matter how thick-headed they really are (and they really are !!!). 

This could be the beginning of the end for them,  as their people catch on to what just happened.  And that would be a good thing!  And not just for us,  as Iran and Saudi Arabia are the two biggest funders of organized terrorism in the world today. 

We do this,  and all the other Middle Eastern countries will fall into line for a while,  and behave themselves.  But only for a while.   You will have to do it again to a different one,  somewhere down the road.

Then,  all you need do is figure out how to destroy the evil extremists like ISIS.  But,  if you have actually nuked a bad actor like Iran,  then even they (ISIS) might start to behave a little better.    All it takes is an extreme punishment example.