Dec 272011

A photo from a  NASA report showing the tail end of a B-70, with engine #3 removed. The B-70 was a carefully shaped vehicle, every line and curve designed to let the beast of a bomber cruise at Mach 3+. But the engine bay was basically just six square holes in the back that the engines were stuffed into.

At Mach 3, fairing in those gaps just wouldn’t have been worth the bother.

 Posted by at 6:49 pm
Dec 272011


Gun sales at record levels, according to FBI background checks

In December – which ain’t quite over – gun dealers made 1,534,414 inquiries  to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). On December 23 there were 102,222 background checks. There were 129,166 background checks on the day after Thanksgiving, the busiest gun-buying day in US history. Apparently there were a whole lot of firearms given as Christmas presents… hopefully many of them were  to new gunowners. The best thing would be a widening of the gunowner base, rather than just a deepening of it.

 Posted by at 5:54 pm
Dec 262011

I missed this one in the news, back in early October:

NASA Awards $1.35 Million For Efficient Flight

A Slovenian company, Pipistrel, designed,  built and flew an electric aircraft and won a bucket of money from NASA. The Taurus G4 is a Rutan-esque double-fuselage design modeled on sailplanes, featuring a two-prop engine pod on the centerline. It was able to fly 200 miles at 107 MPH, and achieve the equivalent of 403 “passenger miles per gallon.”

[youtube O0JhS_HuMvg]

Getting this sort of performance out of an electric *car* would be one hell of an achievement. If this sort of aircraft could be made commercially available at a reasonable price, it could revolutionize air travel by making the operational cost of private aviation almost trivially cheap (at six bucks per av-gas gallon, the Taurus G4  could  carry a passenger 2,000 miles for about thirty bucks. Sure, it’d take 20 hours to go that 2,000 miles, but it’s faster than a train or a car by a wide margin. Range seems to be about 300 miles, by which point it would have to land and recharge. That is of course the weak point… recharging could take hours, unless the battery pack can be simply and quickly swapped out.

[youtube fNn_9xRxWro]

Of course, if this or a similarly-performing aircraft *can* be made safely and cost effectively… expect the FAA to do whatever it can to prevent wide adoption. The last the the FAA wants is for private air travel to become more popular in the US…

 Posted by at 9:37 pm
Dec 242011

This comes from TMZ, so take it for what it’s worth:

‘Sons of Guns’ Stars — Punished By the Feds for MAJOR Firearms Violations

It *seems* that the owners of Red Jacket Firearms – of “Sons of Guns” fame – screwed up something royal back in 2009. Whether it’s Constitutional or not (and I’d say “not”), the BATF demands that anyone manufacturing firearms must have a Federal Firearms License. One of the fun facts about FFLs is that if you have one, you give up your right to not have to undergo unwarranted searches… those with FFLs can expect to have federal agents show up unexpectedly and demand to see any damn thing they want. Again, seems horribly unConstitutional, but it’s the way things are. But apparently the Feds showed up at Red Jacket in 2009, and found that ten firearms that were supposed to be there weren’t.

While it’s perfectly ok for the BATF to lose track of firearms (or just outright send them to foreign criminals), they take a dim view of FFL holders misplacing firearms. So they yanked the FFLs of William Hayden (owner of RJF, and star of the show) and his daughter Stephanie. Without FFLs, RJF would simply have to have gone out of business. The only way to keep in business was to actually install someone else with an FFL as head of the company. This other person was Vincent Buckles, who was portrayed on the show just as one of the employees. But apperently *he* was actually legally in charge of the company.

Notice the use of past tense: he *was* in charge. But it seems he quit. Which means some other FFL holders (not named in the TMZ story) are now in charge.

Must be a hell of a thing to have to turn operations of your company over to one of your employees. But lose a few guns, you gotta expect this sort of thing.

 Posted by at 8:51 pm
Dec 242011

There was a documentary on the tube a few days back called “How Evil Are You,” which had movie director Eli Roth (“Hostel” flicks and other bits of horror) trying to find out just how evil regular schmoes are. He had himself tested with an FMRI machine… shown alternating Horrible Evil Images and Neutral Non-Evil Images, the scientists examined how his brain reacted to such things and determined that he was about halfway to psychotic.

He also filmed a re-run of the historic Milgram Study. If you’ve never heard of it, I heartily recommend you read up on it (such as at Wikipedia). It is a simple experiment designed to test how readily a regular schmoe can be talked by An Authority into imposing dangerous levels of physical agony onto a random stranger. And disturbingly, most people will readily submit to authority figures, and bypass their own sense of ethics and just do what they are told. These people are *not* psychopaths… but people will easily bend to the will of psychopaths. And thus we get the Banality of Evil, where regular people assume that the State knows what it’s doing, and willingly go along with things like the Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, the Holodomor and so on.

There is, though, another, rather simpler, test. Anyone who takes part in “Knockout King” is a psychopath, and really, really needs to be removed from society.

Unprovoked attacks at heart of ‘Knockout King’

One can only hope these psychos run into the next Bernie Goetz.

 Posted by at 8:26 pm
Dec 242011

A Vought photo showing a range of display models of single seat fighter/ground attack types. While the designs are roughly similar, subtle changes can be seen from iteration to iteration. Note, for example, how the distinct separate inlets gradually transform into integrated inlets.

 Posted by at 6:06 pm