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Congress has passed legislation that will fund the hiring of more than 80,000 new IRS personnel. Some of them will be armed.

Here’s a video clip of the Assistant Vice Deputy Under-Secretary of Accountant Armaments describing the weapons that will be provided to the new IRS agents…

(pubic domain video as published by CSPAN)
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= A statement that is logically or literally true (or partly true), but seems to imply something that isn’t true or is just plain weird. (for rhetoric, logic or propaganda studies… or just for fun)

Retro SciFi of the Week…

Radar Men from the Moon (1952)

Jetpacks have been featured in science fiction since the 1920s. Perhaps most recently in Tomorrowland (2015). The character in this film wears a metal helmet that makes him look kind of like Iron Man, and that 1960s comic book character was likely based on the character from this film. The Iron Man comics character has seen a recent revival on the big screen with Marvel’s film franchise.

This film (Radar Men from the Moon) is full of contemporary references from the 50s -- definitely worth watching if you enjoy studying history through film. It was originally a movie serial, later released as a feature film.

(GIF clip from the film, no audio, fair use.)

Here's another image from the film that shows that this really is a scifi, but it's still mostly just a typical medium-quality, 80s/90s Hollywood movie. (Fair use)

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Retro SciFi of the Week…

Timebomb (1991)

Three decades after The Manchurian Candidate, ten years after The Bourne Identity novel, ten years before The Bourne Identity film. Not much scifi in this one, just a typical low budget film of that era. TV movie quality.

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How to set your hot water heater to the most efficient temperature...

First, turn it down a little bit.

Then wait a few a days to see if anyone complains.

If nobody complains, turn it down a bit more.

Repeat until somebody complains.

That’s the perfect setting.

(Did you know that in the summer, depending on several factors, you may not even need to turn on your hot water heater at all!)

See also:

(Image public domain per

Retro SciFi of the Week…

Brainstorm (1983)

Another “mind” scifi, this came out during the Human-Potential Movement which derived from the Psychedelic Movement of the 1960s. Think of this one as the HPM answer to The Manchurian Candidate (1962) which was about brainwashing techniques used by governments. Each of those movements were likely used as covers by clandestine entities for conducting mind control experiments “in the wild”.

This film came out during the period between the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of the USSR. Prior to Vietnam, the military was well-regarded by people in the US due to our victory in WWII. After Vietnam the national mood was “Spit on the baby killers.” During the 1990s without the Soviets around to sustain the anti-military mood in the US, the reputation of the military was repaired as everybody began chanting, “Support the troops”. So you will see an anti-government / anti-military bias in this film (and many films made during that time).

This film is probably most noted for what happened off camera during production. One of the lead actors, Natalie Wood, died in a boating incident under suspicious circumstances and they almost scrapped the film. They had to rework the film and shoot additional scenes using a look-alike for some shots. You may be able to identify those in the film if you look closely.

Also, as with many films from Hollywood, this one has racial bias. Can you identify the bias in this film?


People who do that tend to f*ck their own mothers in outhouses, too.

Yeah, that's "portion", not "potion".

(fair use image)

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Animated sequence of the galaxy cluster "Stephan’s Quintet" from the Webb Telescope...

Here's a picture of a recent lunar eclipse...

Retro SciFi of the Week…

Battlefield Earth (2000)

Battlefield Earth is infamously regarded as one of the worst science fiction films ever made. Based on L. Ron Hubbard’s navel of the same name, the film took nearly 20 years to finally get financed and produced. The film uses a stilted, campy acting style and copious tilted camera angles similar to the style made famous by the 1960s TV series Batman. The stilted acting style was interpreted by most critics as simply bad acting.

(fair use image)

Linux tip…

If you want to keep your cat from typing potentially dangerous stuff into your unattended keyboard, type the following at the CLI:


(it actually works!)

The Webb Telescope has discovered water on a planet 1120 lightyears away!

WASP-96b is a gas giant exoplanet that revolves around a star that is about 1120 lightyears away in the Phoenix constellation. The planet was discovered in 2013 using transit photometry, but the precise measurements of the spectra used to verify water and clouds on the planet could only be done by Webb.

Because it’s a gas giant and it is orbiting its star very quickly (3.4 days per revolution) it probably can’t support life as we know it, but this demonstrates what Webb can do to help find habitable planets.

WASP=Wide Angle Search for Planets

(Public domain image)

Retro SciFi of the Week…

Virtuosity (1995)

Films about the mind comprise a huge chunk of the science fiction genre. They trace their roots all the way back to the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the 19th century. Themes include mind alteration, mind control, telepathy, direct neural links, the hive mind, virtual worlds and much more.

Virtuosity marked a turning point and a refresh of this subgenre. Although this isn’t the best example of mind films, it’s significant because it began to pull together the elements of the next major phase of the subgenre. This led directly to “The Matrix (1999)”, and later to “Inception (2010), “Time Sleeper (2020)” and many other groundbreaking films about the mind and virtual worlds.

Predecessors influencing this film include “Altered States (1980)”, “Brainstorm (1983)”, “Max Headroom (1987)”, and “Lawnmower Man (1992)”. Most of the earlier influential works were tied more to the “hardware” of the brain, such as “Spock’s Brain” (from ST:OS) and “The Brain that Wouldn’t Die (1962)”.

When Virtuosity first came out, it looked like the subgenre had finally jumped the shark, but the somewhat goofy features in this film came to define the next phase of this subgenre. (I’ll highlight some of those elements under a spoiler content warning in this thread.)

(Image: low-res movie poster, fair use)


It’s surprising that Benjamin Franklin didn’t even make it into the top ten of historians’ list of the rankings of the best presidents of United States.

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= A statement that is logically or literally true (or partly true), but seems to imply something that isn’t true or is just plain weird. (for rhetoric, logic or propaganda studies… or just for fun)

(Image of portion of table from Wikipedia, CC-BY-SA-3.0)

Retro SciFi of the Week…

AI: Artificial Intelligence (2001)

Like last week’s movie, this is an epic that spans a period of time. It also has a theme of liberty and justice, among many other topics. The production quality and special effects are among the very best.

Nearly all of the actors do a tremendous job in this film. Haley Osmont gives an amazing performance for a child actor. It also stars William Hurt, who has appeared in many great science fiction films and who just recently passed away.

Ironically, for a film that deals with the topic of justice, this one has significant racial bias, which is all too common in Hollywood movies. Otherwise it’s a great, classic scifi with lots of futuristic technology and special effects.

Found this documentary - it was made about a decade before the pandemic, but...

No further comment.

(Video: 35 second, fair-use clip, no audio)

A properly worn respirator is the most effective way to prevent infection and spread of COVID-19 disease.

The most effective respirator at a reasonable price is an elastomeric respirator with detachable filters. The best filter is N100 or P100. These filters are at least 99.97% efficient at filtering out the tiny particles that carry the virus.

Respirators are effective against all variants of the virus. They are also effective against other respiratory viruses and pollen.

The respirator should be NIOSH-approved.

Make sure you do a seal check each time you wear the respirator so that no air leaks around the mask.

Make sure the filter material doesn’t get wet because it won't work as well when it is wet.

(Image: Mediawiki Commons, Danielle Blue, CC-BY-SA-1.0)

A properly worn respirator is the most effective way to prevent infection and spread of COVID-19 disease.

An N95 filtering facepiece respirator is at least 95% efficient at filtering out the tiny particles that carry the virus.

The respirator should be NIOSH-approved and have straps that go all the way around your head. (Or the similar European standard FFP2)

Never ever wear a mask with earloops – they are not reliable.

The respirator should fit tightly to the face and not allow any air to flow around the mask.

You should probably also get vaccinated. The vaccine is about 44-50% effective at preventing infection at its peak effectiveness and it helps to prevent hospitalization and death, however, vaccinated people who become infected can still spread the virus.

An elastomeric respirator is even more effective.

(Image: Mediawiki Commons, Martin von Creytz, cc-by-sa-2.0, modified with PD image)

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