February 04, 2013

I Didn't Think They HAD Parking Lots Back Then


The body of Richard the Third has been found under a parking lot in Liecester.

Jerry Pournelle has some interesting thoughts inspired by this news.

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January 01, 2013

Perhaps an Even Weirder Chimera Than the One in the Last Post

It's a Smart Car...that someone is trying to enter into the Dakar Rally

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April 20, 2010

Random Thoughts on Eyjafjallajökull

Via Instapundit: Some really neat pics of Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano which has so disrupted European air travel.

Photoblogging From Mordor

Meanwhile, as she sits back, eats her chips and watches the fireworks, one of the Brickmuppets's Crack Team of Science Babes takes the time to point out that his could be of more than passing interest.

 New Scientist reports that there is a nontrivial possibility that this could be a long term problem as the last hundred or so years have seen Iceland atypically quiet. If this becomes a periodic occurrence I wonder if cruise ships might be rerouted for transatlantic duty. This would be a suboptimal solution. Cruise ships are not liners as they are fairly slow, though Cunard might soon find it even nicer to have three new vessels on hand, that, being designed partly as liners, can make 28knots.

In the longer term if Icelandic ash is periodically disrupting air travel with Europe, might we see a return to piston engined planes?
As I understand it, the ash is a far greater menace to gas turbines ...it can cause issues over time with Otto and diesel cycle engines as well but that can be somewhat mitigated with better filters.

Nor is travel the only potential disruption.

The eruption of the Indonesian volcano Tambora in 1815 caused the 'year without a summer'. This is a firecracker of an eruption compared to that but it is very long lasting and seems to be spewing an awful lot of ash. I do wonder how the aggregate amounts of ash will compare to Tambora.

Tambora's affect on the weather was actually comparable to an eruption by another Icelandic volcano, Laki in 1783.

The British naturalist Gilbert White described that summer in his classic Natural History of Selborne as "an amazing and portentous one … the peculiar haze, or smokey fog, that prevailed for many weeks in this island, and in every part of Europe, and even beyond its limits, was a most extraordinary appearance, unlike anything known within the memory of man.

"The sun, at noon, looked as blank as a clouded moon, and shed a rust-coloured ferruginous light on the ground, and floors of rooms; but was particularly lurid and blood-coloured at rising and setting. At the same time the heat was so intense that butchers' meat could hardly be eaten on the day after it was killed; and the flies swarmed so in the lanes and hedges that they rendered the horses half frantic … the country people began to look with a superstitious awe, at the red, louring aspect of the sun."

Across the Atlantic, Benjamin Franklin wrote of "a constant fog over all Europe, and a great part of North America".

The disruption to weather patterns meant the ensuing winter was unusually harsh, with consequent spring flooding claiming more lives. In America the Mississippi reportedly froze at New Orleans.

Apart from indirect deaths from famine caused by odd weather, Laki also killed people directly (via Sulphur Dioxide poisoning) as far south as France.

It should be noted in passing that the last eruption of
Eyjafjallajökull lasted two years.

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December 05, 2009

IJNS Yamato


6 years, 4 months, uncounted LEGOs and phenomenal patience.

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A Coastie From Newport News Made Good

Built in 1914 by Newport new Shipbuilding and Drydock Co.as the freighter Medina, the Motor Vessel Dullos has passed through countless storms, Braved the U boats of both the Kaiser and the Furher while bringing supplies across the Atlantic and survived the ravages nearly a century at sea. Additionally, during World War 2, the old vessel was operated as an auxiliary for a time by the US Coast Guard.

Renamed Dullos by her current owners, the vessel is now the oldest operating passenger vessel in the entirety of the Earths oceans.

Such a long and storied history would be worthy of comment on its own, but Dullos is doubly remarkable. Operated by the German charity GBA , her passenger list consists not only of fare paying travelers but volunteers who see to her cargo. That cargo consists of tons of books for Dullos is a floating library and bookstore traveling the world hosting floating bookfairs.

Bangkok, Manilla, Kuching, Hong Kong, Phuket, and more than a hundred other ports have been visited by the ship and her crack crew of globetrotting salty-dog librarians. Additionally, while in no way a hospital ship, her medical staff performs some dental and other medical services in the less affluent ports of call.

Now, in the ships 95th year her long voyage is at an end. The inexorable toll exacted by the corrosive and violent sea has accumulated over the years and it was decided after her latest survey that the old vessel  is to be decommissioned on Decenber 31, 2009.

Of course...if any of you have 10 million Euro laying around, there is a campaign to preserve the historic old girl.

95 years....the shipping industry, indeed the world has become unrecognizable since the time this ship first split the waves.  If ships could talk...

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October 03, 2009

Way Cooler than a Wawa

Renovations are being done on a gas station in Minnesota.
Now normally unless alternate fuels are being fed through the pumps or a giant robot is somehow involved, this would not be of any interest whatsoever.

This gas station however, is the only one ever designed by Frank Loyd Wright.

If the parking lot was filled with Tuckers..It'd be perfect.

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July 05, 2009

Them Thar's Some Big Fiddles....

This came via Wonderduck...who inexplicably hasn't posted it...so I naturally suspect a cunning trap of some sort.
However, I'm afraid that it is simply too cool not to post.

Now I await the shoe to fall.

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May 16, 2009

Tuckers For Today

A hot rod house  has produced a near replica of the Tucker '48 Torpedo using the original blueprints and mold.

Its not exact of course as the engine is moved a bit forward to improve balance (its almost a mid engine now )and the thing has A/C and a modern electronics fit (GPS/ stereo ect.) but damn....this is cool.

And yet it gets cooler still because they've done a low rider version updated, behold the Lower 48!

A bit more contemporary in style both within and without, it is still very faithful to the Tucker.
Sadly for us (though it is no doubt joyous for them) they are completely booked up at the moment.

Well...one can dream.....

UPDATE: Wonderduck points out that there is a movie of the Tucker story.

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