Feb 242015

In flipping through the March, 1974, issue of “Analog” magazine, I saw this remarkably plain, all-text ad for a board wargame, “Triplanetary” from Game Designers Workshop. 1974 was a tad before my time as regards such games, but I certainly recognize the genre… a decade later I got sucked into the FASA Star Trek ship combat game.  On the one hand, I have difficulty imagining such games standing a chance in hell of surviving today when faced with modern video games… but on the other hand I know of several comic book shops that have numerous tables set up for just such games, and I’ve often seen them in use. Reality and assumptions often don’t match; it’s impressive when you’re faced with reality but can’t reconcile the obviously wrong assumption. Shrug.

Anyway, what struck me most was just how *plain* the ad is. Compare with the incredibly detailed, complex and technically spectacular artwork you often see created for modern games like Halo or Warhammer or WoW. And where’s the web address? Does it even have a Facebook account??




 Posted by at 1:10 am
Feb 232015

I have made available for APR Patrons the following:

1) “Titan III B-C-D-E Propulsion Handbook,” from Aerojet, explaing and diagramming just about everything you want to know about the Titan III propulsion systems, from the SRMs to the Transstage. I originally got this via ebay.


(This shows just a small portion of the ~300 page handbook)

2) “Aircraft Descriptive Data for Northrop F-89F.” A collection of then-current data on the projected (and unbuilt) F-89F. This was from a collection gathered by Lockheed to keep tabs on their competitors. Has some “Secret” markings on it. I originally got this via ebay.


3) Skylab diagram. This very large format illustration was found in the NASA HQ and photographed piecemeal and painstakingly reassembled, using text scanned from another copy of the illustration (with a far smaller diagram, but good text).


4) An original layout diagram of the XB-70. It took several years to get this diagram into this shape. It seems pretty good to me.

misc-127 XB-70

You can gain access to these by becoming an APR Patron for as little as $1.50 a month. That’s not so very much, is it? Check out the APR Patreon page for more details.

 Posted by at 8:52 pm
Feb 232015

So I was going through a pile of old “Analog” science fiction magazines, checking out which ones I have that are redundant and that I can – with luck – sell. One such issue is the March, 1974, edition:


For no readily apparent reason, I pulled this spare aside and cracked it open to check out the contents. Lo and behold, this was the issue that had Larry Niven’s fact article, “Bigger Than Worlds,” where he explained to teenage version of me, sometime in the mid 1980’s, that humans could, at least in principle, build structures bigger than ships, bigger than cities, bigger than nations, continents, even planets. Bigger than solar systems. And perhaps, just maybe, structures to rival the scale of galaxies.

So in the interests of nostalgia, I opened the magazine to the article, and there I saw:



Took me a second to remember just what I was looking at. And then a vague recollection: sometime, a few decades back, I went to a science fiction convention where Larry Niven was in attendance, and got him to sign this issue.

I suspect I should probably separate my “signed editions” of stuff. I’m not a big collector or seeker of such things, but I do have several… a number of Robert L. Forwards, an Allen Steele, I *think* I’ve got a Buzz Aldrin, and now that I think on it, I kinda think one of my several copies of “Footfall” is inscribed by either Niven or Pournelle (though that interesting factoid suddenly becomes difficult to verify, as *none* of my copies of Footfall are to be found just now).

Anyway… in a few days I’ll probably have a mess of books and Analogs and such available for anyone who wants ’em… but this issue won’t be among ’em. Almost was, though. Coulda been a  mite embarrassing.

 Posted by at 6:04 pm
Feb 232015

I’m moving the occasional “extras” to a Dropbox folder where these items will stay, and remain available, indefinitely. The Dropbox “extras” folder is being made available to all APR Patrons at the $4 level and above. I have also added a few new SST images to the folder to help get things going. If you would like access to these high-rez images and documents, wander on over to the APR Patreon and sign up. It’s cheap!


 Posted by at 3:12 pm
Feb 212015

Modern submarines (like the Seawolf and Virgina classes) are often propelled not by propellers, but by pumpjets. These are shrouded turbines with a number of blades, looking much like the inlets and compressors of modern high bypass turbofans. They provide propulsive improvement, but apparently more importantly they are quieter than exposed propellers. However, the details of their designs are often obscure, for the obvious fact that they make submarines stealthier vehicles.

One of the few pumpjets I’ve seen shown in any detail comes from a 1963 General Dynamics report covering unusual propulsion system options for submarines. At this early date it’s safe to assume that the resemblance to a modern pumpjet is probably fairly minimal beyond the overall concept and configuration, but it’s still an interesting look at a rarely seen technology Additionally, the pumpjet is about the *least* unconventional of the concepts shown in detail, which include props that are fitted to a ring at the maximum diameter of the hull and separate, podded propulsion systems (a common enough design feature on many surface vessels today) and cycloidal propulsion systems. All of the systems are compared by assuming they are applied to SSB(N)-616 USS Lafayette, a ballistic missile sub.




This report can be downloaded from the Defense Technical Information Center website.

The link to the abstract is here.

The direct link to the PDF file is here.

Support the APR Patreon to help bring more of this sort of thing to light!


 Posted by at 11:19 am
Feb 212015

Latter part of 2013, Obama’s promise “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” came to pass for me when my insurance company let me know that they were dropping my insurance because, screw you buddy, get Obamacare. But at least I did get new government subsidized insurance. Yay. So, all is well, yes?

Early yesterday, this was in the news:

Feds sent incorrect tax information to 800,000 people on ObamaCare


And then later yesterday, I checked my email:

From: Health Insurance Marketplace

Sent: Feb 20, 2015 12:41 PM

To: scottlowther@…

Subject: Important information about filing your 2014 Federal income taxes

Important information about filing your 2014 Federal income taxes

Because you enrolled in a health plan through the Health
Insurance Marketplace for 2014, you recently received an important tax
statement in the mail, called a form 1095-A. This statement has information you
need to fill out your federal income tax return. Unfortunately, your
statement contained incorrect information. We need to correct the monthly
premium amount of the second lowest cost Silver plan, which is shown in Part
III, Column B of the form.When the corrected statement is ready, we’ll send a message
to your Marketplace account on HealthCare.gov. Until then, please wait to file
your 2014 Federal income taxes. If you already filed your 2014 Federal income taxes and used
the incorrect Form 1095-A, additional information will be provided shortly.




 Posted by at 3:42 am