Nov 292010

I just watched the movie “Harry Brown” on DVD.  It was a pretty good “death Wish” style lone vigilante flick, with Michael Caine as an elderly badass out to take care of some murderous yobs (or is it Chavs? Hard to keep my Englandlanderish lingo straight). It is largely a formulaic flick, but still pretty good.

I had been looking forward to seeing this when it came out back in April. But… it never came out. Certainly nowhere near where I live. According to Box Office Mojo, it did a dismal $1.8 million in the US… largely because it apparently didn’t open much of *anywhere.* According to IMDB, it opened on a grand total of 19 screens in the US. A dismal marketting effort for what was a pretty good movie.

But what’s bad about it is the culture shown on the “estate” (which appears to be the equivalent of what Americans would call “The Projects,” and then we’d shudder… some of us would also cross themselves, spit and mutter prayers). I’ve heard that there is a noticable population of feral younguns over yonder; this movie focusses on them. My question, for those who live in the Uk and have seen the movie… within the bounds of the usual distortions produced for the needs of drama in movies, is this areasonably accurate portrayal? Fortunately for me, the DVD came complete with subtitles, which I needed when the feral dumbasses were on screen mushing their way through what passed for speech. I can certainly believe that such a ruined and terrible form of life exists… I saw the Washington, D.C. equivalent of them a few years ago. In both cases I had trouble understanding what they were saying… partly accent, but mostly because in both cases the English language had been reduced to odd idioms liberally sprinkled with expletives (in both cases, pretty much always the *same* expletive). It kinda makes your brain hurt a little to try to think down to that level.

When “A Clockwork Orange” came out, I understand that people saw it as somewhat fantastical. The feral monsters in “A Clockwork Orange” would have their asses handed to them by those in “Harry Brown.”

Caine does an excellent job in this movie. You’ve seen the basic plot before… guy suffers tragedies and losses at the hands of street crime, cops are useless, so he goes and kicks some ass himself. But this time there’s a difference: Caine’s Harry Brown is an old man. Not in good shape at all. So he has to use cleverness and some entertaining brutality to get the job done. And you have *never* heard a better use of the phrase “you have failed to maintain your weapon, son.”

It’s wortha  watch. And it’s going for surprising cheap on DVD. I guess that’s what happens when you don’t bother to market a movie: nobody hears about it, and thus there’s no great rush to see it.

 Posted by at 12:45 am
Nov 282010

A 1/3 off sale on all blueprints and CAD prints. This does *not* cover postage, however, so buy ’em in bulk and save! Minimum order, $10 (postage doesn’t count). I’ll leave the sale up for a day or so. I’m reliably informed that a holiday known as Christmas or Sol Invictus or Saturnalia or some such is coming up, and I understand that an exchange of gifts is traditional, so here’s your chance to get all your Winter Solstice Commercial Products Exchange presents in one easy shot!

Order the “coupon” below (a nominal fifty cents), and at least $10 worth of prints… and I will refund you 1/3 of the total (postage excluded).

Remember to order the “coupon” and the items all in one order. Otherwise… it won’t work. No “coupon,” no savings…

Sale has ended.

 Posted by at 12:06 pm
Nov 282010

You can now own your very own former Royal Navy aircraft carrier, the HMS Invincible:

Sale by Tender – HMS Invincible 

HMS Invincible is for sale by tender. Laid down in 1973 at Vickers Shipbuilding, Barrow-in-Furness, she was completed in 1980. She is currently stable for tow, subject to buyer confirmation.

Displacement – Current 17000 Tonnes
Estimated metal weight – 10000 Tonnes
Estimated metal % – 95% mild steel
Length – OA 210m, W/L 193m
Draught – Fwd 5.2m, Mid 5.8m, Aft 5.8m
Beam – Extreme 35m, Ex-walkways 32m, W/L 27.53m
Height – 46m (estimated at current draught
Engines – Removed
Generators and Pumps – Generally unserviceable or not working
For fuller information, please see the General Particulars.

Product ID: Sale by Tender – HMS Invincible
Manufacturer: Vickers Shipbuilding
Availability: In stock

Or you could, I suppose, cheap out and just buy a model…

 Posted by at 11:33 am
Nov 272010

While I’ve not genetic evidence to back this up… I’m pretty sure that this here is Scruffy’s kid (male or female, dunno yet). Scruffy looks even *worse* today than  yesterday, and the day before. I don’t know if this is due to new wounds, or existing ones popping open.

Cute lil’ bugger. Hope he turns out better’n his pop.

 Posted by at 8:43 pm
Nov 272010

Photos from the early 1950’s, I think. She looks vaguely familiar, but it could be just the generic “platinum blond bombshell” look of the time.

 Posted by at 4:36 pm
Nov 272010

Last February I reviewed Dan Raymer’s autobiographical “Living in the Future,” which described his life and numerous aircraft design projects. If you didn’t get a copy then, it’s still a book worth getting. Christmas and all that. There are not too many autobiographies of those in the aerospace profession that are both interesting reads *and* loaded with diagrams of the unbuilt aircraft they designed.

 Posted by at 11:16 am
Nov 272010

I’ve just signed up the blog for the “Amazon Affiliates” program, which allows me to make a small royalty fee for advertising Amazon products. Don’t worry, I’m not going to turn the blog into a mess of ads to books written for teen girls about sparkly vampires.

So from time to time I will offer some book suggestions and links to Amazon. If you click through and end up buying the book, I’ll get a small royalty. So here’s a way to send money to me while avoiding the shame of actually sending money to me.

As a test, here’s a link to a graphic novel I do recommend… L. Neil Smith’s “The Probability Broach,” which I have mentioned from time to time. Let’s see if this works…

The agreement states that I most post this bit clearly on my site, so here it is: “ is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to”

 Posted by at 10:54 am
Nov 272010

Seems that the feds have arrested one Mohamed Osman Mohamud, formerly of Somalia, for trying to set off a bomb at a Christmas-tree lighting event in Portland, Oregon. Turns out his “compatriots” in the plot were actually FBI agents. He was stopped not by X-ray machines, but by police work.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud: Probably Amish. Or maybe a Quaker.

 Posted by at 9:44 am
Nov 272010

For those trying to keep up with my fabulous rate of writing progress… the project that has been keeping me busiest of late is a particular chapter in my “Nuclear Pulse Propulsion” book… specifically, the chapter on the design of the Orion pulse units. Of course the most interesting part of the design of the pulse unit – the atom bomb at its core – is safely classified, with just about every meaningful diagram, dimension, mass or detail redacted from the available documentation. However, enough data is available to piece together outlines of several of the designs. And I’ve been dealving into the declassified literature on atomic bomb design to try to re-create what the pulse unit A-Bombs may have been. And you know what?

Atom bomb design is neato.

There’s enough info out there that a trained chimp like me could produce a fairly decent preliminary design for a basic A-Bomb.  I suspect it might only blast itself to flinders and scatter fallout over a few city blocks, but the *next* design might work just fine. The only thing keeping Jihadist jackasses from building their own bombs is… uranium 235 and plutonium 239 are damned hard to come by. Probably easier to simply buy one from North Korea or some drunken Russian military commander with gambling debts.

This chapter should prove to be pretty interesting.

 Posted by at 1:41 am