Apr 292012

Where we read about some poor schmoe who over the years spent about $47,000 on Franklin Mint “commemorative coins,” hoping to use them as a retirement fund… only to find that the whole collection *might* be worth $2,500.

Coin purchases don’t live up to claims

Here’s a general suggestion: anything made and sold as a “collectible” almost certainly isn’t, at least in terms of being a sound financial investment. The things that tend to skyrocket in price are the things that *weren’t* intended for any such role. For instance: I have, somewhere, a whole bunch of “Star Trek” commemorative plates, from back when I was a high school Trekkie in the ’80’s. Exactly the sort of thing that seemed like it should skyrocket in price over time. On eBay they sell at well under the original price. Oh, well.

 Posted by at 7:52 am
Apr 282012

The most advanced variant of the X-15 that stood a fair chance of getting built was the X-15A-3. Where the X-15A-2 was a stretched version of the X-15, with increased internal propellant tankage and additional external tankage, the A-3 would have been stretched even further. Additionally, the wings and horizontal stabilizers would have been removed and replaced with highly swept delta wings, and the rocket engine would have been upgraded (or simply replaced with a new and/or more powerful engine). The nosecone would have been stretched.

The end result would not have been much of an increase in speed, but duration and range would have been greatly increased. As long as the A-3 was, it was still to be carried to altitude by a B-52. Like the A-2, external tankage could be carried for increased performance, but for some reason the design featured only a  single centerline tank.

The photo below shows a display model of an early design of the A-3. The final design had diamond-shaped wingtip fins.

 Posted by at 7:20 am
Apr 272012

I’d love to see a YouTube of this. I bet it’s coming…

Anti-Bullying Speaker Curses Christian Teens

This feller started the “It Gets Better” anti-bullying movement, and has been at least in part responsible for the sudden popularity of interest in bullying. So, what does he do? He goes to the National High School Journalism Conference to deliver a speech on bullying… and promptly starts bullying the Christian students in the audience.


UPDATE: And here’s the video.

[youtube ao0k9qDsOvs]

The thing that got me was just how many of the students just got up and left when this goofball started yammering. Note: they just got up and left. They didn’t yell; they didn’t protest; they didn’t throw things. They simply exercised their right to get up and leave. Did Savage have a point? Yeah, I kinda think he did. Did he shoot himself in the foot by being a massive jackass? Yes, I think he did.

 Posted by at 6:30 pm
Apr 272012

Last night during the storm, Fingers was pretty freaked out; Raedthinn less so (a bit spooked, maybe). Fortunately, Raedthinn apparently works as a comfort blanket.

 Posted by at 9:14 am
Apr 272012

Sitting here working on a project for a client, with CNN on as background noise. The shuttle Enterprise is being flown into New York City for some reason (because, sure, when you think “space program,” what comes to mind faster than “New York City?”), and CNN’s reporterbots are doing their thing. I had to cringe when John Zarrella started yamming about the Russian “Boron” (yeah, “Boron”) space shuttle… which, according to him, never flew into space, only “suborbital” flights just like the Enterprise.


 Posted by at 8:02 am
Apr 262012

This is pretty neat… a sailplane light enough to be carried on your back like a hang glider. Made by Ruppert Composite GmbH of Switzerland, the Archaeopteryx has a span of 44.6 feet, a length of 18.7 feet, a basic empty weight of 119 pounds, max takeoff weight of 362 pounds, a minimum airspeed of 19 mph and a max airspeed (VNE) of 81 mph and a best glide ratio of 28. I wonder what sort of performance might be had by cladding the upper surface with thin PV cells and adding a small, efficient electric motor and a prop…

The price of the thing, with all the bells and whistles including the fully enclose cockpit and the emergency parachute, is about 100,000 Swiss Francs. I’m not sure what that is in Real Money, but I’m guessing it’s a lot.

[youtube OpemglwS8XA]

[youtube BJXSBAp7Pic]

 Posted by at 9:21 pm
Apr 262012

When I moved out here in the summer of ’04, I assumed that the weather I saw then was the way things normally are. However, in retrospect it was an anomalous year: wind, rain, storms up the wazoo. A 2000-foot tall tornadic monster lit up by  10,000,000 candlepower lamp bearing down directly on you is a sight not soon forgotten. But the summers since were comparatively quite bland.

This summer is getting off to a rollicking start, though. The wind today has been most impressive; my back yard is liberally littered with roof shingles. Sadly, they’re *my* roof shingles, so that’s a bit of a problem…

 Posted by at 7:53 pm