brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell


War of the Worlds

Look at this nifty collection of cover art for various publications of War of the Worlds that span over a century. You can, of course, get the text of H.G. Wells' classic tale from Project Gutenberg.


Low Cost Cruise Missile Designer Seeks Job

Cruise Missile DesignerBruce Simpson, designer and builder of a low cost, homebrew cruise missile, has posted a rather interesting plea to sell his services. He claims that after the New Zealand government shut down work on cruise missiles, his family has been placed under significant economic stress, and he is how willing to design low cost cruise missiles for anyone who is willing to pay his modest requests (but as he assures us, not for terrorists).

I first read Simpsons webpages several years ago, and marvelled at his good work on pulse jets including his jet powered gokart. He's a very skilled designer, and his pages have lots of good information about pulsejets, metal spinning, and all sorts of other good stuff. I'm left with a vaguely unhappy feeling about this mercenary turn of mind. I wasn't very happy when I heard word of the NZ government shutting down the project, as it seemed a heavy handed way to deal with him, but I'm less certain after reading his diatribe. A man as talented as he is could find work in any of a number of industries, and it seems odd that he would focus on trying to become a weapons supplier in preference to other occupations of a more socially redeeming nature.

His page goes on to explain that he is basically doing this to show how feasible it is, and to call attention to the danger that developments like this represent. The arguments sound suspiciously like those of so-called hackers who break into systems to illustrate their weakness. It's far from clear to me how why breaking, entering and vandalizing computer systems should be considered a benefit to society. In the same way, building a weapons system that can deliver 10kg of explosives doesn't make anyone safer.


Do you feel more secure?

With many crack federal agents like this, don't you feel safer at night? Isn't harassment of people necessary in our post 9/11 world, especially when it happens to them rather than us?

I mean the Supreme Court has already given law enforcement an open license to request anyone's ID, requiring only the flimsiest of pretenses. Who are we to argue or be upset?