Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How STOL can you go?

2016 STOL Highlights

If you want to get Far from the Madding Crowd, Alaska is the place to go. If you want to get around in Alaska, an airplane can come in mighty handy. Valdez, where this video was recorded, is about 100 miles east of Anchorage as the crow, or the Piper Cub flies, but 300 miles by car. And most of Alaska doesn't have any roads at all.

STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) is handy when there aren't any FAA approved airports handy. The STOL crowd holds a contest every year. Last year's winner got off the ground in 77 feet and managed to land in 27 feet, which is just five feet more than the length of the airplane.

Valdez, Alaska.
The airport is just visible to the right of the vertical line indicating the location of the town.
I suspect the big mountain on the horizon (to the left of Valdez) is Mt. Blackburn, about 100 miles away.
Via Posthip Scott.

P.S. Far from the Madding Crowd doesn't have anything to do with Alaska, it is set in rural England. I read it some time ago. It was kind of slow going at first, but I stuck with it and eventually I became totally engrossed. It must be a pretty great book as I still recall several scenes from the story.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Richie Rich

Bentley (the car people) have a new ad campaign for selling their over-the-top lux mobiles to people with more money than god, and it starts with this image of Dubai, which has the world's highest concentration of potential Bentley customers. Bentley knows what side their bread is buttered on, and it's the side covered with sand and oil.

The original image has a zillion pixels. You can see it, and pan and zoom, here. Funny thing is that there are almost no people visible. Oh, there are a few people walking around at ground level, but no crowds like you might you see in a real metropolis, that is, one with a climate that makes going outside something you could do without being fried to crisp.

All the windows in all the skyscrapers, at least the ones close enough to provide enough detail, also seem to be devoid of people. Does anybody actually live in all these exotic palaces? Maybe they do, but they are all hiding in air-conditioned inner chambers away from the sun's burning glare. Or maybe they have all flown away to someplace with tolerable temperatures.

But back to the Bentley. You can't have a car ad with the car and it's right there in the center, parked on the roundabout sticking out into the water.

The whole tone, or maybe texture, of this digital image kind of reminds of the video game The Sims. It's like it's not real, but maybe that was the effect they were shooting for.

Dubai is on the Persian Gulf, near the straight of Hormuz.

Via Road & Track

Previous Bentley posts.

High-Speed Ferry Francisco

The Fastest Ship World has ever Seen
“This is certainly the fastest ship in the world,” said Incat managing director Kim Clifford. “Of course there's a few speed boats that could surpass 58 knots, but nothing that could carry 1,000 passengers and 150 cars, and with an enormous duty-free shop on board.”The Francisco is the world's first high-speed ferry that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) as primary fuel.
I did a little checking, and for its size it may very well be the fastest ship ever. The US Navy built some hydrofoils but they only got up to around 45 knots.

This vessel provides ferry service between Buenas Aires, Argentina and several places along the coast of Uruguay, including Montevideo.

Via Posthip Scott.

Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon

RIAS, Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor in German or Radio in the American Sector
Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon is an espionage thriller set in post-WW2 Berlin. Our hero's father got him out of Germany prior to the war. Alex, for that is our hero's name, went to California, wrote a best seller and was living the good life until the HUAC started asking him questions that he refused to answer. No longer welcome in the USA he goes back to his home town in Germany: Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate
It's 1949, the Soviets and the Allies are pushing and shoving, working their way up to the cold war. Somebody in the American intelligence community realizes that Alex could be a valuable asset, never mind that he won't answer the bull-necked Senator's questions, so Alex has friends in the American sector. Because he has communist leanings, he has friends in the Soviet sector as well, and because this is his home town, there are people he knows from back in the day. Whether they are still friends might be in doubt, war changes people.

Adlon Hotel in Berlin, survived the war but burned in 1945
He quickly learns that the Soviet brand of communism is 100% bullshit, which puts him in a bit of bind. The action escalates so quickly it begins to look like a James Bond movie, but more complicated, and with real characters.

Douglas C-54 Skymaster cargo airplanes at Templehof airport.
The Berlin airlift is going on and while it doesn't play a big part in the story, it's quite a story all by itself. I remember hearing about it when I was a kid, but I never realized just how big a deal it was. So they had to fly in some supplies from the West, I mean how many plane loads did they need? There couldn't have been more than a few hundred people living there, I mean most of them got killed in the war, right? Well, no.

Schematic Diagram of Air Lift Routes
There were almost three million people living in Berlin at the time. At one pound of food and two pounds of coal (winter in Berlin is cold) per person, that's like 5,000 tons of material a day. This is when cargo planes were hard pressed to carry five tons, which meant that there were a thousand flights a day, every day for ten months. That's a serious expenditure of effort. It paid off though, because eventually the Soviets relented and the Allies managed to keep hold of half of Berlin.

Using a Geiger Counter on samples in a Wismut mine, c. 1960.
Another situation that bears on the story: the Soviets were mad to build their own atomic bomb and to do that they needed uranium. The only source they knew of at the time were some mines along the Czechoslovakian - German border. They went at it in a typical Stalinesque manner, using forced labor from POW's and criminals and when that wasn't enough they started conscripting regular people. While the conditions were not as bad as the German slave labor operations, they weren't good. Thousands of people died.

WISMUT mine in Thüringen, Germany. The hills are waste material that has been removed from the mine. The two white metal structures are the head ends of the elevators that go down into the mine.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Germany was left with a environmental disaster that they are still working to clean up.


Angela wears a 'deux piece' from Paris. Daring, for 1956. 

We saw this on Netflix about a week ago.

Tetuan, Morocco, 1956. Santiago, a young Spanish lawyer, goes to Tetuan to take care of some legal business.  Just so you know where we are, the movie opens with a conversation that includes this comment from a fellow Spaniard, presumably a lawyer and Catholic:
I do not wish to deal with quarrels between the Moors.
They're twisted people, believe me.
During the course of his investigations, Santiago uncovers some secrets about his past dating back to the time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In case you don't remember, Franco and the Nationalists had the backing of the Nazis and the Catholic Church. The Republicans had the backing of the Soviet Union and Ernest Hemingway, who wrote a best seller about his experience there. Another comment about this time:
They were masons. Rats
I've encountered anti-mason rhetoric before, but it seems pretty thin, kind of along the lines of how there is a great conspiracy among the Jews or the Illuminati or the Bilderberg group to run the world for their own nefarious purposes.

Another quote about the Civil War:
- Do you know who won the war?
- Sure.
- Priests won the war, and teachers lost it.
This war has been going on for at least a thousand years, as long as some people have been trying to apply logic and reason to figure out how the world works. On the other side we have those who want things to continue as they have been,  because those methods are tried and proven and, above all, safe. Safe is a relative term however. Society runs, and survives, on traditional rules. Traditional rules may result in an individual's death, but the group will survive. Deviation from the known and accepted may bring calamity down on our heads, and you certainly don't want that, do you, peasant, who cannot think for yourself? 

On the other hand sometimes those new ideas do bring calamity down on our heads. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

After Morocco became independent, Spain held onto a couple of enclaves, one of which has the last remaining public statue of Franco in Spain, even though it's in Africa.

I am not sure, but I think the title comes from a Jewish prayer, which kind of ties into the whole Jewish / Masonic Lodge conspiracy thing.

P.S. Looking for a trailer for this movie yesterday, I could not find one on YouTube with English subtitles. I found the one above when I first started this post shortly after we watched the movie.

Friday, March 24, 2017

America's First Satellites

Secret Satellite -- Засекреченный спутник [СУБТИТРЫ]

Sputnik caught us flat-footed, but we jumped in with both feet and embarked on a plan to put our own satellites in orbit. While the Russians were mostly doing it for propaganda purposes, putting dogs and monkeys into orbit, we were trying to do something useful by putting cameras into orbit.

This video is almost an hour long, but it's pretty great, if you have any interest is this sort of thing.

The Russians had their own spy satellites starting in 1961.
The first American Corona satellite went up in 1959.
Previous post on the subject.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rocket to the Moon

Promotional Poster for Woman in the Moon, a silent movie directed by Fritz Lang, 1929
I'm reading Leaving Berlin by Jospeh Kanon, a great story about espionage in post WW2 Berlin. Lots of bits and pieces get drug into the story, which prompts me to go looking around and this is one place I wandered into.

Fathers of modern rocketry:
Just because a person is an expert or is talented in one particular field does not mean you should accept their opinion in other areas. The New York Times poo-poo-ed Goddard's ideas about space flight. The Germans embraced Oberth's ideas. As a result, by the time WW2 rolled around, we had JATO rockets (little, disposable rockets used to give airplanes a boost on takeoff) and the Germans had V-2's. Just because some rich guy runs a big newspaper does not automatically make him a rocket science expert.

On the other hand, Germany was using slave labor to produce their rockets. Slavery in and of itself is not so bad, the West is full of wage slaves, but the German treatment of their slave work force was particularly horrendous. The workers were systematically starved to death. Ten to twenty thousand people died in the V-2 factories. Just because some guy is a rocket science expert does not automatically make him a good person.

The American defense department pretty much ignored Goddard during the interwar period. Since they failed to develop their own rocket scientists, when the war ended they were desperate to absorb German ones, never mind that they were probably war criminals. Just because some guys are in charge of big government operations does not automatically make them experts on any subject outside of administering big government projects, like perhaps, maybe, rocket science. Stupid shitz.

On the other hand, while Goddard was a rocket science expert, he may not have been very media savvy, or maybe he just didn't have the right connections, or maybe he pissed somebody off. Hard to tell. The rich and powerful are a clan unto themselves. You want to play in the big leagues, you need to have some heavy hitters on your side. Nowadays you might be able to accomplish something with the internet, but that still requires at least a smattering of media smarts.

Hermann Oberth designed the rocket for Fritz Lang's movie. I found some photos that I liked. I was hoping I could just refer you to a website that had a bunch, but I couldn't find one. All the sites I looked at only had a couple of good shots, so here we go. The movie is on YouTube, the subtitles are in German.

Our leading lady with a plot of their planned trajectory.

A meeting with a model of the rocket.

Close up of the model.

Rocket nearing completion in the assembly building.

Rocket leaving the assembly building for the launch pad.
Now we leave the realm of rocket science and venture into fantasy land.

Interior of the space ship. Model for I don't know how many science fiction stories.

On the moon. At least they landed their rocket standing up, not horizontally like an airplane. 

Our lady on the moon. The far side of the moon has a breathable atmosphere, don't you know. 

It's a movie, they are not really on the moon.