Mar 232009
 

Most of the issue is in place, but it’s a jumble, with a good deal of work yet to do. But here you can see roughly what it’ll look like. Biggest article is Part 2 on the Bell BoMi; second biggest is Part 1 on the Bell D-188. Third is a Dennis R. Jenkins article ona  three-engined 747 variant. Also included: Fairchild NEPA nuclear-powered bomber; Martin Model 262; Blackburn B-49B; Grumman D-623-2024.
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 Posted by at 10:35 am
Mar 222009
 

You’d think that this lesson would have been learned long, long ago… but apparently it hasn’t been. According to the Chicago Sun-Times:

What’s up is that a month ago, when the City of Chicago privatized parking meters, rates were immediately jacked way up, and you now have to feed 28 quarters into the meter to park a car in the Loop for two hours. In exchange for a 75-year lease, the city got $1.2 billion to help plug its budget holes.

OK, it’s a small example, and perhaps not the most illustrative. If you quarduple the price of something that there is a limited supply of (like parking spaces in a busy area), it might take a vast drop in people wanting to buy that something before revenues drop noticably. Hell, revenues might go *up* if the supply is sufficiently short and demand sufficiently high.  But it gets better:

But wait. Don’t parking tickets reap six, seven, even eight times more than what meters bring in? If people start refusing to park at meters, how can they get ticketed? And how can the city hope to rake in that revenue?

So if the government causes the price of something (parking) to skyrocket, yet they do not actually directly benefit from the price increase, then the chances of them reaping a revenue benefit are minimal. And if, as the editorialist is suggesting, the greatly increased price is causing peopel to not buy the product, then the secondary system for government revenue (parking tickets) would seem to necessarily decrease.

Additionally, if people decide to not park someplace because the cost of aprkign is too high… those businesses located near the high-priced parking may well see a decline in customers. Which means fewer sales. Which means less sales tax.

The best way to increase government revenues is to spur on the economy, not to try to grab as much as possible as quickly as possible.

 Posted by at 4:06 pm
Mar 222009
 

Shown below are my drawings of the Martin B-68 (Top), Martin model 316 “Tactical Bomber” (middle) and Model 302 “Long Range Interceptor.”

The B-68 drawing was redrawn from Standard Aircraft Characteristics drawings, which are kinda small, so precision is not possible (source grade: 3). However, the 316 was redrawn from diagrams scanned at the Martin archive, and the 302 was redrawn from large-format drawings which I eventually got scans of (source grade for both: 5).

The Model 316 had two afterburning J-67’s, and dates from mid 1955. The 302 had four afterburning J-67s, eight Falcon missiles and 48 rockets. Fuselage length of the 302 was 1200 inches, fuselage length of the 316, 1131 inches, and dates from mid 1954.

The B-68 was described in the very first prototype issue of APR, issue V0N0, which can still be downloaded HERE. For free, ya moochers..

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I created these drawings – based on actual Martin  diagrams – in support of my “US Bomber Projects” book effort and Aerospace Projects Review. If you want to see more of this sort of research and reconstruction… buy! Consume! Spend! Subscribe!!!!!

 Posted by at 3:46 pm
Mar 222009
 

According to the AP

Several videos of this robot going through its paces are on YouTube, such as HERE and HERE. The humanoid robots are certainly getting better at bipedal walking, but there is, as yet, no mistaking them for actual humans. Still a long way to go. But, this being a Japanese robot, they had to give “her” tits and and ass. I’m just shocked that tentacles were not immediately to hand. The gait is still seriously stilted, the knees are permanently bent, and it looks like it’d be pretty easy to knock over (unlike the far less aesthetically appealing and far noisier, but far more utilitarian quadruped Big Dog, here, here, here). But there are moments where its movements are disturbingly human.

I suspect in 10 or 15 years, the overpaid heroin-addicted bags of antlers currently strutting their bony stuff on fashion catwalks might find themselves in a serious bind, what with being replaced with automation and all.

Currently unimpressed:

 Posted by at 3:07 pm
Mar 202009
 

Heard about H.R. 1388 on the radio today. Supposedly, this bill will make volunteerism “mandatory.” So, when I got home I looked it up. The editorials about it, such as this one from the Canada Free Press, make this bill out to be the next best thing to the creation of the 0bama Brown Shirts & 0bama Youth. So, I went digging for the actual text of the bill. And as is the case with so many bills, the text (which you can read here) is… gibberish.

That’s one of the major problems I have with modern American governance… the bills are so often unreadable nonsense, rather than just-lay-it-out-plain. When you marry that with an administration that has made it plain that it *wants* to enact fascist-sounding programs, and a Congress that engineers things so that they can actually gin up popular support to pass laws that target specific individuals for exhoribitant taxation, and you have Senators actually calling for non-criminal US citizens to commit suicide, I suppose it’s easy to read some pretty dire things in the legalese.

So, does anyone want to muddle through the text of this bill and see if it actually does what the editorial suggests?

The biting winds of change are blowing through ObamaNation. The same “volunteerism” that kept America running since the days of its founding, wiped out with the stroke of a pen, will no longer be volunteerism. It becomes forced labor and like the practice of another era, presses American citizens of all ages and creeds, unknowingly into military service.

 Posted by at 6:12 pm
Mar 202009
 

OK, right off the bat: it’s a weird flick. This is to be expected, coming as it does from director Alex Proyas, who also directed “The Crow” and “Dark City.” So if you didn’t care for those two, chances are pretty good you won’t like “Knowing.” But if, like me, you liked those earlier flicks…. then chances are that, like me, you’ll think that “Knowing” is a damned fine movie.

Spoliers ahead. So, if you don’t like spoilers, stop reading, ya moron.

As may be suspected from the advertisements, “Knowing” is an end-of-the-world flick. But amazingly, it’s an apocolyptic flick that doesn’t puss out at the end. Also, the world-ending mechanism, while depicted as a bit more badass than would likely be the case, is nonetheless a scientifically plausable one. No “Earth is gonna explode” or “Sun is going to go supernova” or “nanobots are going to scrape the planet down to bedrock” or “the trees are pissed off and are going on the offensive” here.
Much of the movie, for most of the movie, doesn’t seem to make the slightest damned bit of sense… for a while there it seems like it might be a “ghost movie” with creepy supernatural weirdoes who look like “Spike” from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and with seemingly meaningless shiny black rocks. But by the end, a good deal of the “huh???” turns into “huh.” Still, some important aspects are left unanswered…. and the movie is better for it. Demons? Angels? Ghosts? Aliens? Time travellers?
There are some substantial religious aspects to the movie, largely revolving around “Ezekial.” In the last few minutes, it comes and whacks you upside the head, but it does it in a visually striking fashion that’s, well, just plain awesome. Even though the religious aspects revolve around a religion that’s not *my* religion, it was quite well done.

I’ve seen at least one critic bitch about the visuals, but I found ’em quite striking. There were more than a few that just about had me floored, including one sequence showing one hell of a forest fire, and certainly much of the last few minutes. The scene where an airliner crashes, again visible briefly in the trailers, is quite simply astonishing, and astonishingly effective. I heard more than a few gasps in the theater. It’s quite simply one of the most horrific things I’ve seen on the big screen in a while that didn’t involve characters intentionally doing evil things to each other. It’s not a brief clip, but an extended sequence of disaster and tragedy. And, importantly, it’s all perfectly relevant to the plot and to the development of Nick Cage’s character.

For those that get the reference, the very best and most striking visual from “The Quiet Earth” will be recalled.

 Posted by at 5:43 pm
Mar 192009
 

So I turn on CNN to see what major news story is breaking world-wide, and what do I see but Anderson Cooper or somebody blathering on about Obama having made some dumb joke about his bowling game being “like Special Olympics, or something.” Now, I didn’t actually see the joke, just read about it and heard the CNN talking heads yammering about it (for about twenty seconds before I decided to see what was on the documentary channels… yay! The Aztecs died not because of smallpox, but because of Four Corners Disease!). From what I’ve read on sites like the Washington Post, I didn’t really get the joke. Common enough… a lot of jokes only work when told, not when read.

However, it’s clear that it has offended some people. Probably the same ones who were offended by this. And you know what? That makes it funny as hell, right there.

As may be obvious, jokes such as this don’t offend me much. Or at all.  In this case, it doesn’t seem to provide much entertainment, either… on it’s own. Where it gets entertaining is that 0bama would have tossed this logic bomb out there in the first place.

It does go some distance to showing why 0bama is such a teleprompter President (“Teleprompter In Chief?” “TelePresiprompter?”). Once he gets away from some machine telling him what to say, he turns into a gibbering idjit. Had President Bush said this, the legions of the Professionally Offended would be all over him like ugly on Andrea Dworkin. But Bush’s problem seemed to be more a matter of mispronuncification of words. But for the 0bamessiah to intentionally make fun of people on a national forum… well, that’s just special. Jokes like this could easily get some low-paid slob at Wal-Mart in a heap of trouble with HR.

 What someone who might be offended by this joke may look like:

More and more it’s becoming apparent that Obama doesn’t engage his damned brain before he opens his mouth, orders a gift bought, or formulates national policy and rams it through Congress. Couple this with his utter lack of relevant experience and long history of wrong-headed ideologies, that’s just a little spooky.

 Posted by at 11:12 pm
Mar 192009
 

According to the Telegraph:

While not exactly a film buff, Gordon Brown was touched when Barack Obama gave him a set of 25 classic American movies – including Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins on his recent visit to Washington.

Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.

The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words “wrong region” came up on his screen.

Who, WHO, I ASK YOU, could have possibly forseen this technical issue?

Oh, wait, *I* foresaw this. As did, almost certainly, a million other bloggers.

Then there’s this:

A Downing Street spokesman said he was “confident” that any gift Obama gave Brown would have been “well thought through,”

Yeah, how’s that confidence workin’ out for ya there, fella? “Thinking things through” really doesn’t seem to be 0bama’s strong suit. Just ask the army of people that 0bama has chosen to surround himself with who were, in pretty short order, found to be tax cheats and criminals and whackjobs of all stripes. Putting any faith in 0bama’s ability to do anything but screw up is unwarranted.

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 Posted by at 4:40 pm
Mar 192009
 

In 1970, Bell Aerospace Company delivered a report to NASA on using air cushing landing systems (ACLS) on the Space Shuttle system. These were the important parts of hovercraft – the skirts, the blowers, etc – packaged to fit in the underside of the Shuttle Orbiter and Booster. At the time the Shuttle Booster was expected to be a manned flyback vehicle, returning to a runway landing. The
The ACLS was expected to offer several advantages over conventional gear:

1)Lower weight

2) Distributed, rather than point, loads

3) Rough field and water landing capability

4) No need to de-crab after landing in crosswinds

5) Easier ground mobility

6) Higher possible landing speeds

Several obvious disadvantages came with the ACLS, including the need for relatively large and/or numerous “landing gear doors” and the relatively complex, voluminous and fuel-hungry systems.

Bell did not design their own space shuttles, but instead used an existing  lifting-body (Lockheed) shuttle orbiter and straight-winged (NASA/McDonnell-Douglas) booster.

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 Posted by at 4:01 pm