Sep 302014


Patient at Dallas hospital isolated after showing signs of Ebola virus

Patient apparently had travel history in Ebola-land. All other details lacking.



Ebola case is the first diagnosed in the U.S.

A few things:

1) It’s not the first case of Ebola in the US. There was a minor outbreak of Ebola in Reston, VA, in 1989/90, but fortunately while the Reston variant turned Rhesus monkeys into molten puddles of misery, it didn’t really do anything to humans.

2) When the patient flew in from Liberia, he was infected but asymptomatic. He didn’t start showign symptoms for another 4 days or so. The conventional wisdom is that Ebola is not infectious before symptoms emerge. I guess we’ll see…

 Posted by at 9:38 am
Sep 292014

For the last few centuries, combat in pre-firearms plate armor has been somewhat disparaged. Recent beliefs about what it actually might have looked like are derived from a combination of romantic notions of chivalry, tainted with the moves found in highly stylized fencing, coupled with the nonsense produced by gibberish produced by fiction writers from the Victorians to Hollywood. Plate armor took centuries to develop but fell out of favor remarkably fast once guns came on the scene; the last few decades were a race to develop armor that could withstand bullets, and in the end *that* armor was ridiculously heavy, immobile, inexpensive and impractical. Armor essentially vanished until WWI with the return of the helmet.

Combat in plate armor would not have been a slower form of fencing. It would have been a display of a couple guys trying. to murder each other, aided and hampered by top-of-the-line armor. But popular culture is loaded with notions about it that are silly and wrong, not least being that a knight in armor would have been as helpless as a turtle on its back if he fell down. In recent years a new understanding of the techniques, capabilities and limitations of plate armor combat has been produced due to a combination of actually reading the medieval manuscripts on combat, and actually trying it. Use the techniques described, ignore the pop culture, and see what actually works. With the rise in popularity of fantasy works like “Lord of the Rings” and “Game of Thrones,” inter4est has been increased to the point that western plate armor combat seems to be rising as a valid sport, and not just by some chuckleheads at the ren fest. Behold:

[youtube 5hlIUrd7d1Q]

Well, there’s no sneaking up on the enemy, anyway…

 Posted by at 8:51 pm
Sep 292014

Have you ever sat around wondering “I wonder how ‘paper marbling’ is done?” Yeah, me neither. Well, still, here ya go:

[vimeo 24709888]

This is one of those artforms where when you watch it your first thought is, “Wow, that looks easy! With the right tools, any chump could do that!” And then you pull your head out and realize, “Naw, almost certainly not.” I suspect it’s actually easy to *do,* but probably fantastically difficult to do *well.*

 Posted by at 8:29 pm
Sep 292014

“Predestination” is a forthcoming movie based on Robert Heinlein’s “All You Zombies.” The story involves time travel, some serious physical alterations and a a bit of an inexplicable time loop. How much of it the movie will incorporate, I don’t know.

[youtube jcQacCfi_pw]

 Posted by at 5:11 pm
Sep 292014

Currently up on eBay is an original watercolor illustration of a McDonnell-Douglas cargo plane concept. Details are lean, but it looks like it dates from the 1980’s.

ebay 2014-09-29 b

A multibody design make sense for heavy cargo lifters. By spreading the load across the wing, rather than suspending it from a single point, the wing is stressed considerably less. Of course, drag is noticeably increased and runways need to be wider.

This particular design seems a little odd… especially with the leading edge of the wing. Unless the aft fuselage is taller than the forward fuselage, or the wing is tilted up at a substantial angle of incidence, then the leading edge of the wing should be submerged into the upper fuselage, as the trailing edge is. Artistic oversight?

 Posted by at 4:14 pm
Sep 292014

September 29, 1940, saw an interesting air mishap. Two Avro Ansons (twin engine, low-wing training aircraft) were on a long distance flight over New South Wales in Australia when they collided. The collision was relatively gentle as such things go… they did not hit head-on or T-bone, but instead one came up from under the other and they pancaked. What made it especially interesting was that the aircraft became physically locked together after the impact, making something of a biplane. The engines of the upper aircraft were knocked out, while the lower planes engines were stuck at full power; the lower planes controls were knocked out, while the upper plane maintained control. The pilot and navigator from the lower plane bailed out, as did the upper planes navigator, but the upper planes pilot stayed and managed to bring the conjoined aircraft down to a successful belly landing in a field. The upper aircraft was thus saved, repaired and returned to flight. The lower plane was repaired but not flown again, instead used as a training aid.

Read about it on Wikipedia. Or check HERE for numerous photos.

 Posted by at 1:01 pm
Sep 272014

It’s the Daily Fail, so… grain of salt and all that:

Couple singing Peppa Pig tune to toddler ‘forced off bus after complaints they were being racist’ because it goes against Muslim pork ban

Interestingly, the couple in question hailed from the city of Rotherham, which has had its share of troubles of late. One wonders if the west is ever going to wake up and adopt a “shut up or GTFO” attitude towards imports bitching about the local culture…

 Posted by at 5:42 pm