Feb 092016

I need a single scan: a 300 DPI color scan of the bottom right corner of the cover of the February 28, 1953 issue of Collier’s magazine. The whole cover would be nice, but all I really need is the corner, to allow me to fill in my own scan which is marred by the presence of a mailing label.


 Posted by at 12:32 am
Feb 072016

The US has a bad problem with institutional stupidity… ignoring history and science and whatnot. But compared to some countries, we’re the friggen’ Jedi Archives. Take, for example, Monino.

The US has – among others – the National Museum  of the US Air Force in Dayton; Russia has the Monino Central Air Force Museum, where they’ve got all their neato aircraft developed by the USSR and Russia over the decades. Well, they’ve got it at the moment, but apparently not for long. Two Russian-language articles, because there doesn’t yet seem to be anything out there in English on this (I used Chrome to auto translate):

Silence Monino


Aviamuzey in Monino: on the threshold of annihilation?

The auto-translate is a bit iffy, but it seems that the museum is closing and the exhibits will relocate to Kubinka, which is some distance from Monino (according to Google maps, about 135 kilometers). At first this doesn’t seem *too* bad, but apparently they want to do it in a hurry (by *July* of THIS YEAR). As a result of that, a lot of exhibits will be simply tossed, and some larger aircraft will be chopped up for easy transport, and presumably welded back together at the new place. You know, kinda like slicing up the Mona Lisa and sticking it back together with Gorilla Glue.

The aircraft at Monimo will largely never fly again, due to simply not being maintained. So the only way to transport hem would be to chopper the smaller aircraft, and take the larger ones via truck. But cargo planes, strategic bombers and jetliners tend to not fit very well on surface streets. Thus the plan to disassemble the planes. But a lot of aircraft simply weren’t designed to be unbolted to the point where they’d fit on roads; instead, a lot of major components will *need* to be cut apart.

The photo below is marked to show the aircraft that are expected to be sliced up for transport:

Oh, *hell* no.

Come on, people. This is Russia. They’re used to thinking and building big. So how about this: build yourselves some *big* balloons. Big enough to lift these aircraft. Tether the balloons to massively laden trucks, and then, on days where the weather permits, simply drive them to the new place, suspended under the balloons. This might require severing power lines, but that’d be a temporary disruption and easily planned for and easily restored. So long as the truck will fit under any overpasses, the tethers can be disconnected on one side of the overpass and reconnected on the other. Use multiple trucks and a tether with multiple connections on the ground  end, and do it a truck at a time. Might be slow… but it’d be a hell of a show.

 Posted by at 6:43 pm
Feb 062016

The United States is probably unique, or close to it, in having a government where no matter how religious the people in it are, they’re not allowed to impose their religious views on the masses… and yet the masses generally demand that the political leaders be (or at least pretend to be) quite religious.

One talk show personality I listen to on occasion is Michael Medved. When he’s talking about politics, I generally find him to be reasonable… but he loses his damn mind when he starts going off about religion. A day or two back I heard him discussing the idea of electing an atheist President. He opposes the idea because, in his view, without some Unchangeable Universal Truth upon which to anchor your decision making on… why, an atheist could suddenly decide tomorrow that murder is awesome! Rape is neato! He has taken this position numerous times, and I’ve been hearing it from others for decades.

I take issue with this line of reasoning on two grounds:

  1. Name me a religion that’s more than a century old that really, truly has unshaken, unbending moral positions. Not so fast, Christianity. Sit your ass back down and ponder the 1800 years when you thought slavery was cool, and suddenly changed your mind when the industrial revolution made slavery non-competitive in the marketplace. Or why you *now* think that democracy is a good idea, but back when Korah wanted a bit of it, God smote tens of thousands of people for the sin of being geographically nearby.
  2. If atheists, who are not anchored by faith in some specific set of codes brought down from On High, are so likely to wander to and fro ethically… why are there so few of them in prison? Attend:

Are Prisoners Less Likely To Be Atheists?

Where we find that in 2013, the US Federal prison system found:

Protestant 28.7% 44.0%
Catholic 24.0 25.1
Muslim 8.4 0.6
Native American 3.1 0.1
Pagan 2.0 0.1
Jewish 1.7 1.2
Churches of Christ 1.5 0.8
Buddhist 1.0 0.5
Jehovah’s Witness 0.7 0.8
Seventh Day Adventist 0.3 0.4
Mormon 0.3 1.4
Eastern Orthodox 0.2 0.4
Apostolic 0.2 0.4
Hindu 0.1 0.3
Atheist 0.1 0.7
Pentecostal 0.1 2.4
Sikh <0.1 <0.1

From this, we can see that atheists are *under* represented in the prison population by a factor of seven to one. Pentecostals, however, are under represented by a factor of 24 to one, Mormons by about four to one, Protestants by about three to two. Note one group is *over* represented by a factor of about 14 to one. With the exception of the pentacostals, the data doesn’t really argue in favor of the notion that religion imparts law abiding. And since we’re repeatedly told that the basis of law is pronouncements from On High… if *atheists* are better at obeying them than the people who claim to believe in that On High source, doesn’t this destroy the idea that a lack of some specific Truth makes one an uncertain candidate for President?

Seems to me a better approach than trying to elect someone based on what god they express belief in would be to elect people based on their track record of upholding the Constitution or arguing in favor of changing it. Because unless you’re an atheist or a Pentecostal, the prisons are filled with people who believe in the same sky wizard you do, and who like taking a dump on both their religions by-laws *and* the laws of society.

Note: I ain’t an atheist.

 Posted by at 3:05 pm
Feb 052016

Sometimes stereotypes exist for a good reason. Take, for example, this video of a very large crane falling in Manhattan yesterday. Listen to the commentary by the witnesses, and see if you can detect the subtle hints that might let you know that this happened in New York. If you are in a business, make sure to crank up the volume to 11; if management complains, simply say that you are spreading a message of tolerance of all cultures, including terminology and modes of speech, and if they have a problem then they are a racist.

 Posted by at 9:13 pm
Feb 012016

There I was, driving through the dreary interior of California on a 200-mile trip to go out on a date, when I turned on the radio to hear that the Space Shuttle Columbia had exploded on re-entry. There followed at least an hour  of the dusty nothingness that is the road to Sacramento, and then the date, which involved meeting the young ladies mother. Neither of them gave a rats ass about the Shuttle, while I was kinda desperate to see the news on the TV. Yeah, not what you’d call a great social success story. Oh well.

Anyway, there has long been debate on whether if, with enough knowledge and effort, the crew could have been saved. I’m of the opinion that the moment the foam smacked the wing, the crew was pretty much doomed. But maybe…

The audacious rescue plan that might have saved space shuttle Columbia

 Posted by at 9:24 pm
Jan 302016

Georgia lotto winner gunned down in home invasion

The guy won $400,000, got some publicity, then got a shotgun blast in his home in front of his family from three gentlemen who were apparently after that money.

Now, imagine you were one of the recent Powerball winners, and you’ve just won four hundred MILLION dollars. Yeah, I think a wee bit of paranoia might be called for.

 Posted by at 9:07 pm
Jan 282016

So there I was, sitting in a classroom, bored out of my mind, when all of a sudden the PA system woke up with a screech. Someone in the administrative offices had a TV on and was watching the Shuttle Challenger launch, saw it explode, and turned on the PA system and stuck the microphone up to the TV speaker. The classroom sorta froze for a few seconds, since nobody knew what was going on; the audio of course started up in mid sentence. When the speaker finally said something along the lines of “the space shuttle has exploded,” several students, myself included, packed up our stuff and bolted from the room, dashing towards the library. A whole lot of other kids and teachers had the same idea, with the result that hundreds tried to pack in to see the one TV in the place.

Boy, did that day *suck.*

Here’s the live CNN coverage. Note that the reporter is speaking when Challenger explodes… and, unlike current news reporting practice, he shuts up. Rather than a stream of unending blather, he lets the story speak for itself for a moment. Granted, he was likely shocked, but still…

Here’s some “behind the scenes at CNN:”

Here’s one hour of CNN coverage, from 11:00 to 12:00 (the explosion is at about 11:38):


And from 12:00 to 1:00:


It’s difficult to say that there was a bright spot in that day, but if there was, it was President Reagan. Originally scheduled to deliver the State of the Union address that night, he instead delivered a necessarily hastily-written address to the nation on Challenger… surely one of the great speeches in American political history.



 Posted by at 10:58 am
Jan 272016

A couple things:

Ukraine set to liquidate world famous aircraft manufacturer Antonov

I’m literally angry with rage! No more AN-124’s or 225’s (not that there were going to be any more of those anyway). And in unrelated news:

Denmark passes controversial bill to seize assets and valuables from refugees

On one hand, this makes sense: the refugee-colonists flooding into Denmark and nearby nations are costing those welfare states a *lot* of money, so having them pay for themselves makes sense. On the other hand… how the hell is this supposed to actually work? How do you rifle through all the colonists stuff and figure out what to pawn?


The two stories are unrelated on almost every level. However, I can see a link… and a solution to some problems. Antonovs problems are due in no small part to Russias war of territorial conquest against Ukraine, with the economic damage that has resulted. As a result of that war, a good-sized chunk of Ukraine has been chopped off. So… here’s my solution: Europe accepts Ukraine as part of the EU, based on pre-war borders. Europe then sends the Syrian refugee-colonists to Ukraine, who then settles them in Crimea. Assuming that the Russian-backed paramilitary forces on the ground try to prevent the colonists driving across the border, the EU funds Antonov to crank out a bunch of new cargo planes with which to darken the Crimean skies with parachuting  colonists and their stuff.

Everybody wins!

 Posted by at 3:34 pm