Jan 282012

A publicity photo of the BAT (Bell Advanced Tiltrotor), a circa 1984 concept for a one-man attack tiltrotor to complete in the Army scout helicopter program (LHX – Light Helicopter Experimental) that led to the abortive RAH-66 Comanche. Shown here is a full-scale mockup; the prop-rotors as shown are substantially chopped down from the length they’d be on the actual aircraft. The BAT would have outperformed all other competitors except for hover performance; but the Army did not want a fixed-wing vehicle, so the BAT did not progress very far in the competition.

A hi-rez of this image can be found HERE.

 Posted by at 11:47 pm
Jan 282012

Another Boeing 7X7 concept, this time a painting of a three-engined design laid out basically like the Lockheed L-1011. it should be pointed out that the L-1011 was well known for being expensive, and was the last Lockheed passenger jet. Copying it seems… questionable.

 Posted by at 9:35 pm
Jan 282012

Well… not exactly.

“Hazing” (the ritualistic initiation of a person into a group, usually involving humiliation and/or violence) has recently been in the news, since the death of Robert Champion. There has long been a desire by many to see hazing made illegal; recent newsworthy developments will of course only going to make the anti-hazing  desire stronger. And since having often involves physical harm, that’s not entirely unreasonable.

Thing is, hazing seems to be almost a biological imperative, at least for males. In virtually every culture, there is a “manhood ritual” of some sort, a “coming of age” trial when a boy becomes a man. Sometimes these things take the form of religious ritual or a party; sometimes, the tribe gives the boy a stick and boots his ass out into the cold and tells him not to come back until he has killed a lion or a bear. Sometimes it’s a tattoo or ritual scarification. Generally, whatever it is make a hell of a dent on the boy/man’s psyche. Once he’s through it, he *knows* he’s through it. There’s basically a short, sharp shock, and his life as a child is over and his life as an adult begins.

But in modern western countries, like the US, there is no such ritual. There’s not distinct transition from Boy to Man. Graduation from high school simply leads, often enough, directly to college… which, often enough, is several years of partying (sadly, that’s not my memory of it, but your mileage may vary). And so we have the phenomenon of the “man child,” who hits thirty and has no higher aspirations than to get drunk, play video games and chase tail.

There are of course some distinct exceptions. Somehow I suspect that if you transition right from high school to having some mutant of a DI screaming at you and tossing you into mud and telling you to grab a weapon and go kill the enemy… that you’ll notice. But the military experience is once that only a small fraction of men have.

So… boys get into their late teens – time when, for most of humans who have ever been, they would be out on their own, raising kids and slaying foes and fighting off wolves and bears and badgers and lambs and sloths and carp and anchovies and orangutans – and that apparently programmed-in need for a Manhood Trial goes unfulfilled. Some go to college and enter a frat, where they get brands or tattoos or drink lethal quantities of alcohol in order to gain acceptance from a bunch of people who were not smart enough to avoid entering an organization that required branding, tattoos or ingesting poison.

Given the near universal nature of such rituals, it seems reasonable to expect that there is a genetic basis for it, much like the “God Gene.” As such, if there is a biological drive for something and it goes unfulfilled, then stupidity can be the expected result. Perhaps a case can be made that some sort of Manhood Ritual needs to be re-introduced into our culture.

Note that I’ve left out a “Womanhood Ritual.” This is not to slight the one or two wimminfolk who might read my ramblings; it’s simple recognition that while a male can slide smoothly from child to adult with no distinct and recognizable transition, the same is not true for females. Y’all have a rather obvious transition. While I’ve not been there in person when it happens, I understand it’s pretty much this:

 Posted by at 9:16 pm
Jan 282012

The title is a little wrong:

[youtube vbNivSUFgqI]

They are in fact dinosaur costumes. But they are surprisingly lifelike. I’ve seen similar costumes before, but just as the dinosaur skeletons… large foam things that actually looked fairly good. The motion on these, which I assume is controlled puppet-like with cables and such from the inside, is really convincing. Need to work a bit on the legs, though.

 Posted by at 4:13 pm
Jan 272012

On the one hand, I’m in favor of people working out their disputes using systems everyone involved agrees to. Even if it’s a religious system; so long as it doesn’t suck up government resources, people can flip coins, toss sticks, having boxing matches, read tea leaves or even fight duels for all I care.

On the other hand, weirdo bizarre arbitration systems – especially those that are culturally or religiously motivated – tend to use peer pressure or outright brainwashing or worse to get people to go along with them. And that’s where I have a problem with Sharia.

Like this:

Islington girls forced into marriage at the age of nine

The Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO) claim that at least 30 girls in the borough  were forced into marriage in 2010. … IKWRO, which made headlines last month when they revealed there had been almost 3,000 “honour-based” violence cases in 2010, has shown the Tribune records which revealed at least three 11-year-old girls and two nine-year-olds had been forced into marriage with older men within Islington.

Islington, for those not in the know, is in *Britain,* not Kuwait or Sudan or Arabia or some such horrible place.

I’m all in favor of freedom of religion, not matter what wacky-ass thing people choose to believe. But at some point a religion ceases to be a “religion” so much as a “cult.” Forcing children into sexual relations got the FLDS whackos raided and their leader tossed into the hoosegow; no less would be appropriate in this case. With the added perk of wholesale deportations. Those that get married to children, and those who set up the marriages and those who perform the marriages… well, such people do not belong even in a nation of yobs and chavs.

 Posted by at 8:21 pm
Jan 272012

A simple idea that turned into pure comedy gold: crowdsource a shot-for-shot remake of “Star Wars.” Give people 15 second blocks of the movie to remake, then stitch them together into one whole movie. Given that the people involved are Just Folks, and only have 15 seconds… they seemed to have budgeted accordingly. End result: I’m only 4 minutes in, and it’s freakin’ hilarious.

[youtube 7ezeYJUz-84]

The first appearance of Darth Vader: CLASSIC.

 Posted by at 1:17 pm
Jan 272012

They are a few years old, but the photos at the blog below showing the Soviet-era “Lun” ekranoplan are just damned impressive:

Экраноплан “Лунь” проект 903

For those not in the know, an “ekranoplan,” AKA a wing-in-ground-effect vehicle, is a flying boat designed to cruise at extremely low altitudes, typically about the same height as the wing chord length (the distance fore-to-aft from the wing leading edge to trailing edge). The purpose of this is to ride on the cushion of high pressure air squeezed between the wing and the water; a small, stubby wing can produce a surprisingly large amount of lift in doing so. The result can be a very large aircraft that can carry a massive payload a long distance. In this case, the Lun was designed to help the Soviet Union invade western Europe. On top were six launch tubes for fairly large nuclear-tipped P-270 anti-ship missiles.

While this is an example of a machine designed to aid one of the most evil ideologies in human history to conquer the world, it is nevertheless an impressive machine and it’s sad to see it left to rot. However, apparently there are plans to put it back into production.

 Posted by at 9:45 am