Sam Aurelius Milam III
Consider the space program. As it’s presently presented to us, the people in the program can launch a rocket from the surface of the Earth and send it to rendezvous with a distant celestial object. NEAR Shoemaker is a good example.
Consider the prospects of a man who wants to knock a golf ball into a hole a few hundred yards away. He can actually see the hole, and it isn’t even a moving target. Even so, his likelihood of success is small. Compare to his chances the likelihood of successfully sending a rocket millions of miles through space to rendezvous with an invisible moving target that isn’t even anywhere near the location of the intended rendezvous. Any error at all can cause the rocket to miss its rendezvous by millions of miles. It seems impossible.
Consider further that the rocket will be launched from the surface of the Earth, which is spinning on its axis and traveling around the Sun. The angle of the axis isn’t always exactly the same, considering the seasons and, also, the precession of the axis. The speed of the orbit around the Sun isn’t constant because the orbit isn’t exactly circular. The direction of the rocket will also depend on the latitude of the launch site, the time of day, the thrust of the engines, the weather, the mass of the rocket, which will change as it consumes fuel, and probably on other things of which I’m not even aware. The trajectory of the rocket will curve as it travels. How is it possible to know how fast it will be going, and in which direction, when the engines eventually stop? That seems to me to be impossibly difficult to predict.
Once the rocket is on its way, it’s trajectory will be influenced by the gravitational attractions of nearby celestial bodies, such as the Sun, the Moon, the Earth, the other planets in the Solar System and, eventually, the target itself. All of those forces will be constantly changing in both direction and strength. The only fixed reference points are the distant stars. All other reference points are on spinning objects that are moving along curved paths, with speeds and directions that change constantly. A successful rendezvous requires that the trajectories of both the rocket and the target must be precisely calculated. Supposedly, the people in the space program can do such calculations but, to me, it seems to be impossibly complex.
Given so many variables, course corrections might be necessary. That will require an exact knowledge of the rocket’s speed, mass, location, and direction at exactly the time that a course correction is to be made. Such knowledge can be acquired only by remote observation. The time delays for receiving such information, and for sending instructions to the rocket, mean that course corrections must be calculated for some future location of the rocket, not for its location at the time that the data was acquired. The length of the time delays for both receiving the information and sending the instructions will be constantly changing. Supposedly, the people in the space program can do all of those things, but the complexity of the process makes it seem, to me, to be impossible. We can’t even solve simple problems on our own planet, and I’m expected to believe that we safely landed NEAR Shoemaker, intact and undamaged, on a distant, spinning asteroid named Eros, just prior to Valentine’s Day, in 2001. Wait. Eros? Valentine’s Day? That seems more like a fairy tale than a news report.
The only evidence that I’ve ever personally seen for the actual existence of the space program is footage on a TV screen. The scenes in science fiction movies are just as realistic. Even so, I’m inclined to believe that the space program actually exists, as reported, except that I’m uneasy about the source of the reports. How many thousands of lies has the government told us? If you could wave a magic wand and prevent all false news and misinformation, then the government would fall strangely silent. So, what’s more likely? Is it more likely that the impossibly complex space program actually exists, as reported? Is it more likely that the government is presenting another pack of lies, as it always does, to justify some taxes? Whether such an alternative might actually be true, or just a paranoid fantasy, thinking about it is a good exercise in healthy skepticism. When dealing with a government, skepticism is always a good thing.
Sam Aurelius Milam III
While I was a student at Texas A&M University, in the late 1960s and the early 1970s, I was an enthusiastic supporter of the women. For example, I bought a Texas Aggies bumper sticker and a Texas A&M bumper sticker, and did some cutting and splicing. After that, my car had a Texas Maggies bumper sticker. The term Maggies was the local slang for the female students, who had only recently been admitted to the university. I was proud to support them.
A few years later, in California, I took a welding class at one of the nearby community colleges. My wife was also interested in the class, so we took it together. I was proud to have her there beside me in the class, and to show my support for the presence of a woman in a traditionally male occupation.
By the late 1970s and the early 1980s, things weren’t going quite so well anymore. I’d been working in mixed-gender workplaces, and I’d been paying attention to the news. I was beginning to have some doubts about the women. I tried to believe that it was only the radical feminist faction that was causing the problems, making ugly accusations about us, calling us insulting names, being as provocative as they possibly could at work, and elsewhere, and then punishing any man who responded like a normal healthy male of the species. I tried to believe that all of the predatory and punitive behavior was the work of the radical feminists. As the years rolled by, that became more and more difficult to believe. It gradually became evident that it wasn’t just the radical feminists who were causing the problems. It was the women.
Now, after all of these years, with hordes of female reporters and female news anchors relentlessly overreporting the gender politics of woman all around the world, anywhere that they can find a woman who wants to complain about something, my sympathy for them is gone. I never noticed when it disappeared. I just noticed, one day, that it was gone. I’m no longer interested in the unending parade of women on the TV, complaining about how they were abused while they were at work, or at a university, or at a conference, or by an athlete or maybe an actor, or in the armed forces. The only thing that they’ve accomplished is to demonstrate that they aren’t as equal as they said they were. Otherwise, they’d man up and shut up. Nowadays, I just change the channel every time that a program turns out to be female propaganda.
So, how did I change from a man who made a Texas Maggies bumper sticker into a man who understands that gender equality is nonsense? It happened because I received an education. What was the source of that education? To paraphrase James Carville, it’s the women, stupid. Thanks for the education, ladies.
... Hey here at the prison they fed us a good Thanksgiving meal, with smoked turkey, stuffing, black eyed peas, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. And the prison chaplain told us that the “Christmas Behind Bars” Mennonite church organization will be here next month on December 15th to bring us all a big sack of snack food items, and we are all really looking forward to getting that, and on Black Friday, I called the IRS and I spoke to someone about my tax refund check and they said that it looked like it was still being processed and I would probably get it in [time estimate withheld].
Hey Sam, check this weird shit out, about a week ago, for some odd reason, myself and several other guys in here lost most of our radio reception, we could only pick up 2 FM radio channels, and the FM TV transmitters channels. It’s now been like that for over a week. Then we started doing some thinking, and we think that the prison installed some sort of radio frequency jamming device to block out any contraband cell phone signals. Have you ever heard of such a thing?
Hey [name withheld] just put $20 on my account for me for Christmas.... But the cost of commissary food items continues to go up. For example, last week a Ramen noodle soup cost us 42¢ and now they’re 60¢ each. A box of cheese crackers was $1.85 now they’re $3.06. But our weekly spending limit is still $10. And I promise you that don’t buy much....
—H. L., a prisoner
Sam Aurelius Milam III
• Any ideology, no matter how enlightened it might appear to be, will result in evil if it is imposed by force, coercion, or deception.
• If a man hits a woman, then it’s possible that he might be suffering from Post Traumatic Nagging Disorder.
Green Power, Muscle Power
Sam Aurelius Milam III
I’m not afraid of hard work. I can sit for hours and watch it being done. Back in November of 2022, I had just such an opportunity. I watched a “tree guy”, as he was described by his female assistant, cut down a tree. Since there wasn’t a chair handy, I had to stand and watch, but I still watched the work being done.
The problem with the tree was that, over the years, it had grown at an angle such that it was leaning over an adjacent metal storage building. The concern was that, some day, it might fall on the building. It was a healthy tree but some seemingly healthy trees were blown over in that lot, a few years ago.
So, I watched as the man began his preparations. I soon saw that he was making some mistakes. I’ve noticed, over the years, that people don’t pay any attention to my advice and that, after the dust settles, nobody remembers that I told them so. It wasn’t my tree, my metal building, or my job, so I watched from a safe distance and kept my mouth shut.
The man’s first mistake was that he used only one anchor rope. I’ve watched men cut trees using one anchor rope, and I’ve even done so myself a few times. If the tree is nice and vertical, and if you pull really hard on the rope, then one rope will probably be sufficient. This tree wasn’t vertical. It leaned markedly toward the metal storage building. It also turned out, before the job was over, that pulling really hard on the rope was a problem. More about that later.
The thing that many people, even “tree guys”, don’t seem to understand about an anchor rope is that it doesn’t necessarily force the tree being cut to fall toward the anchor location. It only (hopefully, if it doesn’t break) prevents the tree from falling directly away from the anchor location. A tree can fall anywhere along or inside of the arc that’s described by the length of the anchor rope. In this case, the tree was leaning perpendicular to the direction of the anchor rope. It fell in the direction that it was leaning, right onto the arc defined by the length of rope. That arc passed through the building. The tree landed on the building. The whole point of the exercise had been to prevent that. The man should have used two ropes. Thus there would have been two arcs, described by the lengths of the two ropes. The only place that a tree can fall when it’s constrained to fall on or inside of two arcs is toward the area defined by the overlap of the two arcs. That will be between the two anchor locations.
The man’s next mistake was that he intended to pull on the anchor rope with a tractor, instead of with a come-along. I’ve cut a few trees in my life, and occasionally helped somebody else cut one. I find that a come-along is a fine way to control the tension in the anchor rope. A tractor isn’t a good way to do that. With a tractor, there’s too much brute force and not enough control.
Another mistake was the way that he arranged his anchor rope. Because of other trees in the way, he couldn’t get his tractor into the right location. So, he still had to run his rope to an anchor tree, but instead of tying it to the tree, he ran it around the tree and off at an angle, where he connected it to his tractor. With his assistant sitting on the tractor, they couldn’t even see each other. The metal building was between them. The assistant, on the tractor, couldn’t see what was happening. She didn’t know when to start pulling, or how hard to pull. Worse yet, because the rope was running around the anchor tree, the sliding friction with the tree constrained much of the tension to the length of rope between the tractor and the anchor tree. The assistant barely removed the slack from the length of rope between the anchor tree and the tree that was being cut. Another error was that the tree man didn’t yell at his assistant to start pulling on the rope until he was actually making his final cut. By the time that she got the tractor into gear and started pulling, the tree was already falling in the direction that it had been leaning.
I got involved in helping the tree guy cut the tree into pieces, and get them off of the roof. At some point in the conversation, I mentioned global warming. He said that he’d really like to do his job without using a diesel tractor, but the electric alternatives were too expensive. I’ve noticed that about people. They seem to be incapable of doing a job unless they do it with a machine. I see people using a leaf blower when a broom or a lawn rake would do. I’ve cut a lot of wood with a hand saw, when other people would have used a power saw. I own a hammer, not a nail gun. People seem unable to comprehend the idea of doing something by hand. Yet, a come-along doesn’t use either electricity or diesel fuel, and it costs a lot less than either kind of tractor.
Muscle power is a renewable resource. With 8 billion people on the planet, there’s a lot of muscle power available. Maybe the tree guy should buy a come-along, maybe even two of them, and maybe even a bow saw. Maybe we need to start considering muscle power as a “green” alternative to fossil fuel.
My thanks to the following: El Dorado Bob; Betty; Eric, of Stockton, California; and Sir Donald the Elusive.
Original Source Unknown. Forwarded by S. S. of Wahiawa, Hawaii. I received this information on February 13, 2001. Thus, a lot of it might be obsolete by now, but it’s still interesting. I didn’t try to verify any of it.
—editor• Men can read smaller print than women can.
• Women can hear better than men can.
• The world’s youngest parents were 8 and 9, and lived in China in 1910.
• The first novel ever written on a typewriter was Tom Sawyer.
• The average number of people airborne over the US during any given hour is 61,000.
• Every day, more money is printed for Monopoly than for the US Treasury.
• Alaska is the state with the highest percentage of people who walk to work.
• Twenty-eight percent of Africa is wilderness.
• Thirty-eight percent of North America is wilderness.
• The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven is $6,400.
• Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
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— Sam Aurelius Milam III, editor
The largemouth bass is the female.