November 30, 2007

The Longest Jump

Evel Knievel has died.

Knievel, a barnstorming motorcycle stuntman who gained as much notoriety from his spectacular crashes as his successes, was indeed a loon, but he was a brave and talented loon. He dressed in red white and blue which he wore like a like a superhero, complete with a cape!  Despite his ostentatious outfits, and the hucksterish nature of his profession, he was a rare dash of sincerity and optimism in a revoltingly cynical and despondent time.




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Duhh...Lojik sux

Your IQ Is 125
Your Logical Intelligence is Below Average

Your Verbal Intelligence is Genius

Your Mathematical Intelligence is Genius

Your General Knowledge is Exceptional

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November 27, 2007


I'm insanely busy right now, but there is a very lengthy post on internet piracy going on over at Colleen Doran's blog,  The discussion has reached 85 posts in the comments and is well worth a read.

The post mainly concerns comic piracy but the subject matter is likely of at least academic interest to many anime fans.

Full Disclosure: I've watched fansubs and bought several DVD series because of them. Every few months I go to a bit torrent party to see the first few episodes of what's new in Anime.

The fansubbers, however, don't stop with the first few episodes, nor do they, as Stephen Den Beste suggested, reduce their video quality to you tube levels.

I have little sympathy  for the video companies who saddled us with region coding specifically to screw Japanese consumers and the new "solutions" to the piracy problem that tend towards things like this.

However, the technology has advanced to the point that I fear we're going to see a "tragedy of the commons" in several artistic industries in a few years.

Well, I'm off to work. Be back in a day or two.

Suddenly...related posts...lots of them, some quite....special.
It's like Colleen is the hundredth monkey or something.
Actually this flurry of interest is strictly anime related and seems to stem from this editorial at ANN . (HT: Stephen who has further thoughtful screedage here).
Avatar has industry insider perspective here, and points out the unlikelihood of RIAA style crackdowns on fansubbers here. While some may be very happy to hear this, the jist of his argument is that the Anime companies,  because they don't have the financial resources...these are small operations frequently run by people who were fans of this stuff and they don't have the spare change to deal with the lawsuits.  This is unsurprising, in my experience, particularly on campus recently,  "standing up to the man" generally means taking pot shots at those who can't hit back.

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November 24, 2007

Hydrogen Production Breakthrough

One of the Brickmuppets' crack team of science babes runs the numbers on hydrogen and points us to this recent story about a breakthrough in bacterial hydrogen generation.

The results came as a result of experiments with the sort of microbial fuel cell described here. This design produces electricity in small amounts but its big payoff was in hydrogen, 288 percent the energy in hydrogen that was put in.
This is not quite as impressive as it sounds. For example, if one replaced all the cars with H2 it would require the generation of just over 1/3rd the energy required by all cars to fuel them. However all hydrogen schemes that don't extract the hydrogen from hydrocarbons have high energy costs, if this is scalable it is orders of magnitude more efficient and an energy producer rather than looser. That is big.It is also capable of processing waste and generating its own energy while doing it.

As a waste disposal technique this has real potential to be tremendously helpful (again, if it is scalable).

Hydrogen is unsuited for aircraft or ships but given enough cheap energy a case can be made for H2 fueled fuel cell cars. Their range would suffer,( from what I've read, about 150-200 miles is about the best one could realistically get without turning the fuel tank into a bomb) and that assumes very efficient fuel cells. If there are H2 stations everywhere, this becomes less of a problem.
However, this process, let alone any of the others, would only make sense for hydrogen production for cars if a vast amount of cheap power were available.

So, like a lot of alternate energy proposals, it is pretty much dependent on nuclear power being developed on a very large scale in this country.

Atomic power is  the future.

Science babe is actually Maria from Sakura Wars. (Which I should watch at some point)

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November 23, 2007

Here There Be Cooties

The art and science of writing romance novels....explained.

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Steampunk Submarine

Here is an interesting bit of nautical history.

The Explorer, a submarine from the civil war era  has been identified on Pearl Island Panama.

The vessel was ahead of its time with lockout chambers to allow divers to leave the vessel while submerged. Unfortunately as this resulted in the whole submarine becoming pressurized to the depth it was at, and because it allowed the crew to stay down far longer than normal, and because dive tables weren't invented until 1910, the entire crew perished after a long dive.

The use of the submarine for civilian applications (in this case pearl diving) was quite unusual a that time.

There seems to be some debate as to the origin of the submarine, some sites say it was built for the US Navy during the Civil War, some have said it was built afterwards for entirely civillian applications. Whichever, it's designer one Julius Herman Kröhl made significant contributions to the USN during the war, and if the Wikipedia entry is accurate was very much the unions answer to Mathew Fontain least in underwater explosives.

There is also some debate about the cause of the death of Kröhl and his crew. The reports cited "fever" which likely meant malaria, however, the whole crew being stricken and the vessels dive profile would seem to make the decompression accident a more likely cause.

Much more including schematics  here.
Note that this article claims this was the first case of decompression sickness amongst US citizens. I'm pretty sure this is hooey as diving bells had been in use since the 1500s and hardhat diving was going on in the UK in the 1790s. There was enough interest in the US that an improved helmet was patented in the US in 1834. I'm pretty sure somebody had had a decompression accident before this. The article is quite informative for all that. I'm very upset I missed his recent talk at Nauticus.

This story is particularly sad because the sub worked! It had been tested several times without incident. If dive tables had been available the vessel would have been a success.

Sometimes progress fails for one missed detail or unknown factor.

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Via Eaglespeak comes this humbling post from Commander Salamander.
It's short, read the whole thing.

Fortunes can be won and lost but honor can rarely be regained.

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   Few countries have been as accommodating to immigrants in recent years as the United Kingdom.  However, that is not enough for this asshat.

He moaned: “I miss Algeria. The English people are not helpful, they are so unfriendly and rude.

“I thought I had made friends in Croydon, but when I ask them for money they don’t give me it, so I know they can’t be my friends.”

Mr Tabet is entitled to return to Algeria at his own expense and admits that he “does not like it here”.

But he refuses to do so and says Britain will have to pay for his travel if it wants him to leave.

He moaned: “I miss Algeria. The English people are not helpful, they are so unfriendly and rude

So asshat moves to the UK, gets room & board paid for iand concludes that his human rights are violated.

Gentle readers, in case there was any confusion on this point, the host is not the boor here.

Via: Gates of Vienna

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Evolution in Action

Wow thanks!

On the one hand there will be fewer woolly headed loons voting.
On the other hand there will be fewer people to pay for the sort of Ponzi schemes the woolly headed loons expect to pay for their old age.
On the gripping hand...there will be fewer wooly headed loons to vote against ending said Ponzi schemes.

As always, Eric Scheie uses his damnable logic to wipe the grin off my face.

HT both links: Instapundit

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Titanic 2007

The Canadian Cruise ship Explorer has been stove by a small iceberg off Antarctica! In this photo she is on her beam ends as I type this may already have sunk. More here.

The crew and passengers were rescued by the Norwegian cruise ship Nordnorge which transported them to King George Island. They will be transferred to the Chilean research station there and be flown to Punta Arenas as soon as weather permits.

The National Geographic Society cruise ship Endeavor also raced to the scene and an ABC (US) reporter aboard filed this report with video.

The MV Explorer was an interesting  ship with a unique history. Constructed in 1969 the "little red ship" was an ice strengthened cruise ship ahead of her time in that she was intended for what would later be called "eco-tourism".

 The vessel was the first civilian ship to negotiate the northwest passage unescorted. She had sailed farther north and farther south than any other cruise ship and had been the first cruise ship to sail the full length of the Amazon and the first cruise ship to dock in Iquitos Peru. The vessel had rescued the crew of an Argentinian vessel that had struck a rock off Anvers Island and had been used to conduct relief and medical operations in the Amazon.  She was bought by the Canadian ecotourism company G.A.P. Adventures in 2004.

Some question is being raised over "deficiencies" found by both Lloyds inspectors in the UK and Port State Control inspectors in Chile.

  Deficiencies recorded were: two on fire safety measures; one on life saving appliances; one for ship's certificates and documents, and one deficiency recorded for structural safety. She was seen at the time in Greenock's JWD dock for repair

At least one of the deficiencies in Chile was listed as "not required" which may seem odd at first blush. However, it is likely that it was something that was only required by the 1974 SOLAS treaty.

Being built in 1969, the ship was built under the Survival of Life At Sea treaty  SOLAS 1960 convention which is much less stringent than the currently enforced treaty (SOLAS 1974). For one thing the 1960 treaty allows open lifeboats which is why some of the Explorers passengers were exposed to the elements before rescue. Vessels built after May 1, 1980 fall under the newer more stringent requirements. The ship had reportedly passed inspection before leaving port and was reported to be in good shape.

The fact that the ship was crippled by a hole "the size of a fist" is weird. There may have been additional cracking that made the flooding uncontrollable. If so it may have had to do with the age of the vessel and undiscovered preexisting cracks.

Keep in mind that while I do a bit of Port State Control, I'm not a marine casualty investigator. So this is just speculation.

The rescue effort was remarkable for its international nature, with coordination from the US and Argentinian Coast Guards, participation by Chilean  Army and Air Force units with the actual rescue by US and Norwegian merchant ships.

Bravo Zulu to the Captain and crew of MV Nordnorge for pulling off a flawless rescue effort in difficult conditions!

We've come a long way since 1912.

On a lighter note;

Antarctica: MV Explorer Listing

Badly After Hitting UFO

Is actually a completely accurate and  serious article...which makes it all the more priceless.   Saved here in case they realize that the acronym for unidentified floating object just doesn't work in layspeak.

UPDATE:  Stephen Den Beste has found another completely accurate yet distracting headline associated with this calamity.

Bountiful Woman Rescued From

 Cruise ship Sinking After Hitting


 Yay! They saved a bountiful woman!
(Now we can make up for some of those environmentalists! )

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