Dec 312016

Here’s an interesting – if a little sad – video showing a cat after the owner leaves.

It’s usually inappropriate and very likely highly inaccurate to anthropomorphize the critters in out lives. What seems like an expression of sadness or joy might very well mean something entirely different… for example, my cat Fingers occasionally makes this horrifyingly mournful sound, as if she was grievously wounded. And it’s always associated with her carrying around a toy (or, on occasion, an actual mouse). What sounds like “woe is me” is apparently more like “look what I caught.”

With dogs, their emotions are likely more readily understood for the simple reason that we have spent the last 15,000 or so years hammering them into creatures that conform to our worldview. What appears to be a happy dog is almost certainly a happy dog. But a cat? Their reactions are not ours. And like any good higher animal, the reactions of one cat are not necessarily the same as another cat… they are individuals. So I can state with reasonable confidence that while my cats are likely satisfied cats, only Buttons would I rate as a usually “happy” cat. That feller really does enjoy life on a level most humans would envy.

But the fact that I cannot necessarily promptly read a cat doesn’t mean that their happiness is irrelevant. There are times I come home and find them waiting for me… and they are *not* out of food. So perhaps cats do miss their humans. Cats are more social than a lot of people give them credit for being. That’s why I will probably always have two or more cats if I have any cats. If there’s even the slightest chance that the cats in the videos are as lonely as they seem to human eyes and ears, it would be cruel to force that loneliness upon them.

 Posted by at 6:59 pm
Dec 312016

This display model was sold on EBay some months back:

twin-747-sca-9 twin-747-sca-8 twin-747-sca-7 twin-747-sca-6 twin-747-sca-5 twin-747-sca-4 twin-747-sca-3 twin-747-sca-2 twin-747-sca-1

Without a display stand it’s difficult to determine exactly who made this, but all indications are that it was an “official” model, made by Boeing, Lockheed or NASA. The design was given some small amount of study around 1973, though the available documentation on it is lean.

Lockheed studied the same idea with the C-5 Galaxy. Of course the C-5 would have been easier to modify since it already had shoulder-mounted wings.

 Posted by at 2:55 pm
Dec 292016

I’d posted this YouTube video a few years ago, but I’ve found that not only was the video yanked, the whole account associated with it was nuked. Hmmmph.

A film about NERVA (Nuclear Energy for Rocket Vehicle Applications), 1968.

Provides a basic description of nuclear rockets, plus some art, animation and diagrams of nuclear propelled space vehicles along with footage of test firings.



 Posted by at 2:24 am
Dec 282016

Note banjo enthusiast and white-hair-haver tweeted his sadness at the death of Carrie Fisher. Unfortunately, his tweet was in horrible, horrible bad taste:


How outrageous! How terrible! How thoughtless! How sexist! How…. how is this anything bad? Well, leave it to the SJWs to SJW-splain it:

Steve Martin Deletes Carrie Fisher Tribute After Backlash

Martin was criticized for a sexist tweet following the actress’ death.

What made the tweet sexist? Steve Martin noted that an actress famous for being beautiful was, in fact, beautiful.


Carrie Fisher WAS quite the beauty back in the day. Far from being deniable, this was an Important Fact. She was an actress, and her appearance was vital to her getting the role of Princess Leia. Now, there’s no reason in the world why Princess Leia needed to be a great beauty in order to be a strong character. She could have been played by a woman who looked like a young Rosie O’Donnell with bad acne, unfortunate facial hair, lopsided eyes, hairy warts, a hook nose, excessive piercings and burn scars. Hell Leia could have been a non-human… not just a kinda-human, but something pretty “bleah.” Why not a Mon Cal? Because a Beautiful Woman is a better draw than a Bipedal Fish-Man. Because a Beautiful Woman is more appealing than a Non Beautiful Woman. Because Beauty is its own reward.

When Star Wars came out 1977, Carrie Fisher could have been *anything.* She could have been sharp as a tack or dumb as a post. As happy as a clam or as gloomy as a, well, a gloomy clam. She could have been the funniest person on the planet or as humorless as a Social Justice Warrior. Coulda been, but there was no way to tell, because all the evidence there was was what was on screen. And what did we see on screen? A beautiful woman. What kind of monster refuses to recognize this fact? A Social Justice Warrior, that’s what kind.

Yes, yes, there was more to Fisher than her youthful beauty. But Twitter is not renowned as the platform for long dissertations… and in any event, saying that Carrie Fisher was beautiful does *not* say that she wasn’t witty or smart or talented or any other such thing.

 Posted by at 6:33 pm
Dec 282016

South Korea has their very own bipedal robot you can get in and pilot, complete with proper arms and five-digited hands. Some rumbling about putting these on the border with North Korea…. but honestly, cool as they may be, one decently placed rifle-launched grenade should topple it. They’re big, slow, cumbersome, clumsy. As military systems…. meh. As industrial systems? Hmmm. Possibilities.

Avatar-style S. Korean manned robot takes first baby steps

 Posted by at 2:22 am
Dec 272016

Long ago, what is now the Great Salt Lake in Utah was much, much greater, stretching north of the Idaho border. But about 14,500 years ago, a natural dam broke loose at the north end and the lake spilled out, and through drainage and drought over 500 years it receded to more or less what we see today.

The former extent of Lake Bonneville can still be easily seen around here in the form of the level “benches” several hundred feet up on the sides of hills and mountains. The uppermost bench is about a thousand feet high.

Yesterday morning weather conditions were such that from certain vantage points the lake almost seemed to return. The temperature was around 15 degrees, and a vast fog formed in the region; down in the valley it was just an obscuring mist, but if you went up a few hundred feet on the local hills you could see the fog from above. Not a perfect match for what the lake must have looked like, of course, but still, quite a thing to see.


This is looking east towards Tremonton, Brigham City and the Wasatch Mountains from just west of Thatcher.

 Posted by at 11:36 pm
Dec 272016

Recently sold on EBay was a sizable (something like 4′ long) wind tunnel model of the Curtiss Wright Model 90 AAFSS submission. This was a derivative of their X-19… more or less a quad-tilt-rotor. The Model 90 would have been fairly highly armed, designed to fulfill the same role that the winning AAFSS design – the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne – was designed for: transporting troops and tearing up ground targets. The US has not had an operational vehicle like this; the Soviet “Hind” helicopter is the closest, though substantially slower, analog. EDIT: Senior moment. Not a troop transport, just a blowin’-up-stuff-on-the-ground-real-good vehicle.

The Model 90 wind tunnel model was formerly on display at an aviation museum in Teterboro, New Jersey. No idea where it ended up, but hopefully it found a good home. I made a half-assed effort to crowdfund this one, but I think the lack of a good way to split the spoils among the funders doomed the concept. How *do* you reward funders for a purchase like this? Best idea was to have the thing 3D scanned, and distribute the scan among the funders, but unlike a scan of a drawing or a document, that’s not going to be readily useful for most people.

What I’d hoped to do was to disassemble the model, male fiberglass molds of the components, reassemble and restore it to like-new-ish condition then send it on to an appropriate and willing museum, possibly Ft. Rucker (since they’re all about Army aviation and have themselves an AH-56). Then make a few fiberglass copies from the molds, converting the “wind tunnel models” into detailed display models. Alas.

curtis-wright-model-90-ebay-g curtis-wright-model-90-ebay-f curtis-wright-model-90-ebay-e curtis-wright-model-90-ebay-d curtis-wright-model-90-ebay-c curtis-wright-model-90-ebay-b curtis-wright-model-90-ebay-a

 Posted by at 10:37 pm
Dec 272016

Mentioned yesterday was one of the Left’s newest darlings, George Ciccariello-Maher, a guy who thinks that “white genocide” is just a peachy-keen idea. As a phrase, “white genocide” is something I’ve not thought about too much or too often, but apparently it is popular with both the far left and the far “white nationalists.”

The far left thinks of “white genocide” as a mythological concept, something that isn’t happening. The white nationalists think “white genocide” is happening, but rather than whites being rounded up and executed, it’s white people being bred out of existence by brown people.

Both groups are in error.

More blather after the break.

Continue reading »

 Posted by at 7:14 pm
Dec 272016

Well, that blows. 2016 has been killing off celebrities for just about a year, and finally got to one that I am actually annoyed to lose. She had a rough life after Star Wars, but ended up being pretty damn entertaining as a writer.

Having a fatal heart attack at 60 is not something most rich folk do… unless their systems have been screwed up with chemical abuse of some kind. And as Carrie showed us, drugs is a hell of a drug.

Fark has a surprisingly respectful and wholly appropriate headline:

Carrie Fisher has become more powerful than you can possibly imagine

With some appropriate images…


  3 hours ago    
She’s snorting cocaine with Jesus now.

Live long and prosper, brave hobbit.

 Posted by at 12:27 pm