Jan 312012

To My Old Master

The short form: in August of 1865 one Colonel P.H. Anderson of of Big Spring, TN, a former slaver, apparently wrote to one of his former slaves (now living and working – for a paycheck – in Ohio with his family) asking him to come back. The good Col. claimed that he would pay the slave – Jourdan Anderson – a good wage.

That is ballsy. Chutzpah. Audacity. Something along those lines. For a man who *owned* another human being to watch that human being escape to freedom and then ask for that now free man to come *back* is the height of

But perhaps startlingly, Mr. Anderson replied with a dictated letter of surpassing politeness. But as you read along, the “yes massa” tone the letter starts off with gradually grows into a well-crafted FU. Mr Anderson knows what the value of his labor is, now that he’s getting paid for it, so he wants the slaver to provide assurances that he will actually pay off.And what better way to prove his honest intentions than… BACK PAY. Thirty two years at 25 dollars per week – plus twenty years at two dollar per week for his wife, PLUS INTEREST – worked out to $11,680. Which Mr. Anderson could be paid by Adams Express.


Somehow I expect that the good Colonel probably did not pay up.

 Posted by at 7:09 pm
Jan 312012

Most of the 3D solid models I’ve made, I’ve made for clients or employers. Every now and then, though, I’ve made a few on spec or just for giggles. One such is the Convair Super Hustler. It’s nowhere near done, but it at least looks like a Super Hustler. When done, I hope to translate it into  physical form, either as a kit or as a finished display model.

The booster stage will of course be modeled as well. The B-58 Hustler carrier aircraft is available in 1/144, 1/72 and 1/48 scales… but damn, the Super Hustler would be impressive at 1/18 scale!

 Posted by at 3:50 pm
Jan 312012

From Alaska, Great Concern for Central Park

Short form: State legislature of Alaska is debating a resolution to have the FedGuv take over New York’s Central Park as a National park, thus preventing any changes to it without an act of congress. They are doing this to protest the incessant meddling of “east coast environmentalists” in Alaskan affairs.

A suggestion, though: they were thinking too small. The problem that Alaska is having isn’t that the environmentalists are messing with a commonly used recreation park, but that they are messing with Alaskans ability to make an income by shutting down businesses. So, my suggestion wouldn’t be to turn Central Park into a federal National Park… but to turn *Manhattan* into a National Park. Thus if anyone wanted to build a new building, tear down an old one, re-wire a power grid, swap out streetlights, pave over potholes or re-decorate their apartment… they’d need to get specific permission from Congress to do so. *That* would be fair and proper.

 Posted by at 10:31 am
Jan 302012

Last chance to sign up for the (lottery? raffle?) chance to win a free ride to the edge of space on the XCOR Lynx spaceplane.  To win you have to attend the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference, and you have to have an experiment. The best I can come up with on the spur of the moment would be to use the payload capacity of the Lynx to loft a high-performance upper stage, to launch an inert payload to as close to orbital velocity as possible, and test re-entry capability. My personal choice for re-entry vehicle? Khalid Sheik Mohammad. One thing we *all* want to know is “what happens to a human sans re-entry heat shield when de-orbited over the middle east?” and this seems like a good opportunity to find out.

So if you win the ride, feel free to use my experiment idea. I’d be happy to consult.

Final Call to Register and Win Suborbital Research Flight at Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC-2012)

XCOR Aerospace and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) announce the final week to register and become eligible to win a suborbital research flight on XCOR’s Lynx I vehicle at the Next Generation Suborbital Researchers Conference (NSRC-2012) in Palo Alto, CA on February 27-29. The deadline for early conference registration and for entering the drawing is the 10th of February at nsrc.swri.org.

 Posted by at 9:41 pm
Jan 302012

… to find that Slate is opposed to a manned space program, since Newt Gingrich is in favor of it.

To the Moon, Newt!

Gingrich’s wasteful, scientifically unsound plan to put colonists on lunar soil.

Note that one of the claims the author of this article makes is:

Perhaps we could put mirrors on the moon to beam sunlight to Earth for power.

Take a look at the link in that line. It goes to a 2011 Daily Mail article about a Japanese company that wants to put not mirrors on the moon, but photovoltaic cells hooked up to laser or microwave transmitters. Given that lunar regolith is composed largely of the elements need to make PV cells and microwave transmitters… turning the surface of the Moon into a *vast *Solar Power Satellite is not only possible… it’s a Really Good Idea. But the author, who should (and almost certainly does) know better, makes it sound like simply putting mirrors on the moon.


Krauss appears to be an otherwise reasonable sort of guy… but I suspect his politics has jumped in front of his reasoning power here and simply derailed it. He makes the usual mistake of assuming that the way NASA has done spaceflight in the past is the *only* way that spaceflight can be done in the future.

Anyone who works in the sciences – and Krauss is a theoretical physicist – who thinks that manned space exploration, exploitation and colonization is a bad or dumb idea is a…

 Posted by at 3:55 pm
Jan 302012

New Jersey: Assembly Committee to Consider Ammo Ban & More

Short form: Assemblyman L. Grace Spencer (go ahead and guess which party) is sponsoring bills that would allow the Attorney General to ban any  ammunition he wants.  All that’s required is that the guy simply determines that the ammo:

…poses a threat to the safety and well being of law enforcement officers because of the materials, be they metallic or nonmetallic, used in its composition or because its ogive, core or jacket are of a design, construction or formulation which makes it capable of breaching or penetrating body armor


Since “body armor” is left undefined… *any* ammunition is thus vulnerable to being banned by fiat from an unelected bureaucrat.

 Posted by at 3:29 pm
Jan 302012

Another display model, this time showing a three-engined design with a 727-style tail engine and Upper Surface Blown engines above the wings. This would have been quieter on the ground and would have required a shorter runway. But as the 727 discovered, re-engining to a higher bypass engine would have been troublesome in the tail.

 Posted by at 12:33 pm