Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Friday, October 31, 2014


On the way to airport yesterday I see this great big boat going down the road. That's kind of cool, but just what kind of boat is it? Some rich guy's toy? A restored PT boat? The sign on the door of the truck says Oregon Iron Works, so I look it up when I get home and find they are building several of these for the U.S. Navy.

New Bridge over the Willamette River

It's kind of a cool bridge. I think it's going to be for light rail commuter trains, which means it's another expensive play pretty that will do nothing to help alleviate congestion. Not that another bridge for cars would help. I'm pretty much convinced that the amount of driving expands to fill the available space. No wonder people (Google at least) are working on self driving cars. It's not so cars can fly down the freeway without anybody at the wheel, it's so people can play tiddly-winks on their iPhones while their car spends an hour crawling along at five MPH to deliver them to work or home.

Picture was taken from the upper deck of the Marquam bridge. The line of concrete along the lower edge of the picture is the guard rail on the Marquam.


More weirdness in Forest Grove. I'm not quite sure what to make of it. The place looks like it might be a nursing home. Do you really want to advertise a 3rd place finish? And why is there a 'No Trespassing' sign? They don't want anybody finding out what 'Bronze Quality' really is? Just weird, especially since the sign is at the end of a walkway leading to this property. I know! I'll bet it's one of them thar secret interrogation centers run by the CIA.

Of all the gin joints. . .

I'm in Forest Grove this morning and there is only one other car in the customer's end of the lot and, look! It's the Sebring's twin! What are the odds? I mean it's like freaky cosmic man! Title from Casablanca.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Los Shakers - Solo quiero estar contigo (i only want to be with you)

This is just a little nuts. The band's name is a mix of English and Spanish, it's sung in French, and the band is from Paraguay, which speaks Spanish like most of the rest of South America. But I recognized the tune instantly, the name or the original artist not so much. Via Dustbury.

Lakes Pipes

This morning I realized that some poor benighted souls may not know what Lakes Pipes are, so I decided to correct that problem with a picture. I had a devil of a time finding an acceptable picture. This one is adequate, but it's not really what the latest style was back in 1961 when I was ten years old. The trunk lid on the '61's were at least a couple of feet longer than they were in '58. To my ten-year-old-eye, this car looks truncated.
     Most car pictures are shot on the diagonal so you can see the end and the side, but if you really want to appreciate the pipes, you need a straight on side shot. And then there's the backgrounds. Many car photos are shot at shows and the backgrounds are horrendous. It's understandable if it's not your car, you shoot what you can, but that doesn't explain the pictures done by owners. It's like they don't even see the background. Sad state of affairs.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cool Custom Cessna

Ottawa, Canada, October 22, 2014. C-FSUJ Cessna 208B Grand Caravan equipped with surveillance equipment. Note the long exhaust pipe to prevent interference with the sensor payload. The airplane belongs to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It was called out in response to a shooting at the Canadian War Memorial. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick)

Because Jack is working at FLIR and John is flying a Cessna these days. And because I never thought I would see Lakes Pipes on a Cessna. Lakes Pipes:
  1. Named for their use on the vast, empty dry lake beds northeast of Los Angeles. - Wikipedia
  2. Yup. they would run the exhaust through the mufflers for normal street driving, then when they got to the lakes they would take the caps off the 'lakes pipes' and run open exhaust. The custom guys started running them later, most of the time they were not hooked to the rest of the exhaust system as this will discolor them and can burn your legs when getting in or out of the car. - Jalopy Journal

Corsair Retired

A7 Corsair retirement ceremony at Araxos AB. The Greek Air Force used the Corsair for 40 years.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Sagittarian - Illumination

Iaman, who's not in Iowa anymore, sent me a video. I'd seen the video before, but the sound caught my ear this time. This is a similar video that uses the same tune. It was put together from French Air Force footage. I posted the other video earlier.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


Click on the link to see an image large enough to read. I predict you will be amused.

Update: I changed the link in the picture because Blogger's limits pictures to 1600 pixels, which isn't quite enough to read it clearly.

Update 2, December 2015: Changed the link to point to the original, large scale map.


I drove two miles to the grocery store late last evening. There was hardly any traffic, but the three cars I ran into, sorry, 'encountered', were all driven by insufferably rude idiots. I don't know what started it, perhaps I was just a bit irritable, but when I got home I put on a show for my family detailing loudly the exaggerated faults of these three morons. When I was done, I immediately calmed down. In point of fact, none of these three did anything that was really dangerous. A little rude perhaps, or maybe not technically within the law, but even I slip up occasionally.
    This morning I'm reading a post by Dustbury, and he points to an article about Gamergate. I'm not sure whether Gamergate is a website or an event, ala 'Watergate', but the crux of it seems to be that a bunch of people were posting rude remarks on the internet ANONYMOUSLY. Well, shit, that explains that.
    I've never quite understood this anonymous business. When I was five or six years old I wanted to be called 'Steve Donovan' (Western Marshall). When we moved to Bexley I decided to change my name from 'Charles' to 'Chuck', but that was simple pragmatism, not because I liked the name. Every class at Bexley involved taking out a new sheet of paper and writing your name and date at the top. Since there were like six or seven classes every day, and since 'Charles' has seven letters and 'Chuck' has five, this saved me writing a dozen letters every day. That may not be much, but like seven and a half cents an hour, it adds up over time.

    It's bad enough that I have to keep track of umpteen different logons and passwords. For all the nonsense ones (i.e. ones not involving money) I try to use the same ones, but that doesn't always work. Seems like every website assigns you a new logon and has their own requirements for a password.
    In any case, if someone says something you don't like, and they do it anonymously, just press the DELETE key. Don't give them the satisfaction of getting irate, because whether they know it or not, that is exactly what they are looking for: rage to fuel their rage, rage to justify their rage. Nothing worse for them than being ignored.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Keep your friends close

Iranian Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri, left, walks with Iraqi Prime Minister Heidar al-Abadi, center, during a welcoming ceremony at Tehran's Saadabad Palace on Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2014. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

. . . and your enemies closer. Of course it helps if you know which are your friends and which are your enemies. I wish I knew. I also wish I knew what the hell we are trying to achieve in the Mideast.

Iron Sky

Nazi bombers from the moon! Actually a US Air Force B1-B bomber flying above Kobane, Syria.

Roller Derby in Portland - Rose City Rollers

If you go, you need to provide yourself with a stage name. My friend Jack used 'Hydraulic Jack'. I would use 'Three Jawed Chuck'. Gearheads, what do you expect? Next bout November 14.

The Derelict

I really like this picture. I'm not sure why, the car doesn't do much for me, though I do like the idea. 
I think it might be because that's how the world looks when I am driving.

People are nuts. This is a 1952 Chrysler Town & Country station wagon that has been worked over internally. The drivetrain (engine and transmission, etc.) has been replaced with a modern one, the seats have been reupholstered, and all the little stuff has been restored to operate correctly.  If you look closely, you will notice that the body proper and the front clip (hood and front fenders) are slightly different colors. That's because the front clip is from a 1952 DeSoto. Since DeSoto was made by Chrysler, it makes sense that it would fit. The change was made because the builder liked the Desoto's grill better, because of the teeth, perhaps? Hot Rod has the story. This line stood out:
The doors close with the solidity of a Mercedes, something we've never been able to accomplish on any of our personal cars.
Seems I heard once that the big car companies have entire departments devoted to how things sound, like the doors closing and the sound of the exhaust.

Via Posthip Scott.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Eye of the Cake

Stu mentions Cakes and Ale, I follow the link and discover that, among other things, it is a book written by W. Somerset Maughm. I've heard of Maughm, I've probably read some of his books but it's been so long I couldn't tell you what they were. But he has a fixed place in my mental firmament, along with the likes of Faulkner and that other guy whom I can't quite remember. It will come to me. Michener, that's the one.
    Anyway, I'm always on the lookout for something new to read, so I start in on the sample pages on Amazon. It starts with a discussion by a writer of another writer, not nearly so talented, but much more successful who wrote a bestseller titled Eye of the Needle. Hey! Wait a minute! I've heard of that, it was a movie with that tall lanky guy from Mash (Donald Sutherland) playing an Irish-Nazi spy, or some such. The movie came from a book, but this book was written by Ken Follett, not by Roy. What's going on here?
    Well, Cakes and Ale was written in 1930 and Ken Follett wrote his Eye of the Needle in 1978, so W. isn't talking about Ken's book. Whether there was a previous book with that title only Google knows, and he (she? it?) isn't telling.

A note about the picture. It took me a while to find something that fit. I came across a cropped version of this painting on  a book cover. It took me a while to track it down. Most of the versions I found were very yellow and most unpleasant. Wikiart was no help. Finally, just asking Google Images for "dinner party painting" uncovered this one. I also found one that was similar but the 'tone' was all wrong, so I dismissed it. Then I looked again and I realized that in gross characteristics, it was the same picture. But the devil is in the details, and in the cheap, hand-painted knock-off, which is what it was, they hadn't worried overmuch about the details.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

LCS 7 Detroit Side Launch

The Lockheed Martin-led industry team launched the nation's seventh Littoral Combat Ship into the Menominee River on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. The future LCS Detroit was formally christened prior to her launch by Mrs. Barbara Levin. Barbara is Senator Carl Levin's wife. He is a Democrat from Michigan.

This is screen shot from Google Maps. When the satellite images get updated, the boat won't be there any more.

Okay, Lockheed I've heard of, but the Menominee River? Where's that? Turns out it forms part of the border between Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It empties into Lake Michigan. About 50 miles North of Green Bay.

Update: Just realized that the boat in the video and the boat on the map are facing opposite directions. Did they turn it around before they launched it? Or are we looking at two different boats?

Power Generation in Zimbabwe

Power Generation in Zimbabwe - CCTV Africa

Red China is financing a big power plant upgrade in Zimbabwe. I wonder how that is going to turn out. You may recall that Zimbabwe underwent the world's most impressive inflation up until 2009, at which point the government gave up on their own money and they started using foreign currency*. President of Zimbabwe and dictator-for-life Robert Mugabe is the world's worst leader and possibly the worst person on the planet. I wonder who is going to come out on top of this deal, China or Mugabe? Mugabe is a shit, but Red China can be ruthless. With a billion dollars at stake I expect China will take this deal seriously. When (not if) Mugabe tries to pull some kind of sleazy deal, I expect the Chinese will straighten him out in short order.
    But then again, maybe not. This is Africa, and Mugabe may somehow get away with ripping off the Chinese.
    Meanwhile, China is making a big fuss about a bunch of uninhabited islands between them and their offshore neighbors. I suspect this is just a big show to distract everyone while they make a big push into Africa in their quest for oil.

*If you want a piece of this historical debacle you can buy real 100-trillion Zimbabwean dollars at Amazon.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Princess Chelsea - The Cigarette Duet

The video is amusing, the tune is not bad. There is a message in there but it's barely noticeable. Some people (rumor has it) are using nicotine patches for the effect (the nicotine high, such as it is), not because they want to quit smoking. I mean these folks never smoked, so there was no quitting involved.

Casablanca gambling? I'm shocked!

Tam has an article about used guns on Shooting Illustrated. The comments on her related Facebook post are very entertaining, and that's where I found this gem. I've seen it before, but it's the perfect crown for all the computerized hassles I've been having.

Musical Targets

Via Stu.


There's an idea kicking around somewhere out there in the lun-i-sphere that somehow all the computers connected to the internet are going to join together to become self aware, i.e. intelligent, and they're calling this idea 'singularity'.

Remember a week or two ago when there was a big fuss about the 'Russians' supposedly hacking into ten of the biggest banks in the USA and how it was an act of war or state sponsored terrorism?

Last night we tried to watch Blue Ruin and Netflix failed to deliver. This was our second attempt. We tried last weekend and the same thing happened. We get about five or ten minutes into the show and a Loading... message comes on the screen and never goes away. Okay, 'never' might be putting it a little strong. No amount of button pushing would convince it to proceed.

Today I tried to contact Netflix on the web to inform (bitch) about this problem and I'm getting mysterious web errors. So I call (using a telephone) and in short order I'm connected to a real person (by 'short order' I mean less than two minutes). The nice lady I am talking to is having trouble with her computer system. It's being very slow and I can hear her muttering under her breath. I enjoyed it, made her seem more like a real person, not some soulless corporate drone. (As always, your mileage may vary, but in this case, if it does, you are wrong.)

While I am typing this message Blogger keeps flashing little pink warning messages at the top of the screen telling me it's having problems.

Thor VS Giants

Last week Coding Game* suffered a server crash and they lost some user files. Now these are some pretty savvy computer dudes and they suffered a server crash? How embarrassing. They seem to have recovered. Matter of fact, if they hadn't told me about it I would not have even noticed.

Just now Blogger put this message up.

We won't even talk about all the pictures of mine that Blogger has lost. Several posts to the help forum have elicited only idiotic responses. I think it happened because I signed up for Google Plus once upon a time, didn't like what it did to Picasa, so I reverted to ordinary Google, and all this plussing and minusing confused Blogger. That's what I get for not following the herd. Buck the powers that be and they will squash you flat and not even notice.

So the Singularity might be coming, it just won't be the one the lunatic fringe is praying for. It will be more like a physic's singularity where everything just stops because all the electrons have gotten sucked into a virtual black hole.

Update: Remember Moore's law? About how computers will double in processing power every two years? How about the corollary? Ever heard this one,  also from Gordon Moore:
"It can't continue forever. The nature of exponentials is that you push them out and eventually disaster happens"

P.S. I forgot to mention that HBOGO quit working on my ROKU box a couple of weeks ago. In order to get it going we had to find our logon ID and password for, which was kind of difficult because apparently we had never set up an on-line account, or more likely Frontier had lost it, which isn't too surprising since they seem to think that there is a phone number connected to my account, which there isn't. What's more all of the phone numbers they think are mine are wrong, except the one they used to call, which they don't seem to be able to find anymore. Color me severely impressed that their service works at all.

*Re: Coding Game - I've worked my way through all of the Easy puzzles and most of the Medium ones. Recently I've started working on some of the Hard ones and this week I ran into one (Thor Versus the Giants) that has me stumped. This is not an unusual pattern. All of these programming puzzles start off very easy, then gradually get harder, and then at the end add an element completely invalidates the approach you've been taking so far and requires a major rework of your code. But always before I knew how to deal with it. This time it's really like shooting in the dark. I have an idea on how it might be attacked, but it requires more fussing (more code and more execution time, and worst of all, more hand tuning) than I am comfortable with. It all comes down to what one sentence in the description of the problem means. Maybe that's why it is classified as Hard. Bah and humbug. That means I will have to work to solve it.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Cessna 172

Mathias Rust, his borrowed Cessna 172 and assorted KGB goons in Red Square

Younger son had a flying lesson in a Cessna 172 yesterday. When I Googled it this is the first thing that came up.
Mathias Rust (born 1 June 1968) is a German aviator known for his illegal landing near Red Square in Moscow on 28 May 1987. An amateur pilot, he flew from Finland to Moscow, being tracked several times by Soviet air defence and interceptors. The Soviet fighters never received permission to shoot him down, and several times he was mistaken for a friendly aircraft. He landed on Vasilevsky Descent next to Red Square near the Kremlin in the capital of the Soviet Union.
Rust said he wanted to create an "imaginary bridge" to the East, and he has claimed that his flight was intended to reduce tension and suspicion between the two Cold War sides. Rust's flight through a supposedly impregnable air defense system had great effect on the Soviet military and led to the dismissal of many senior officers, including Minister of Defence Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergei Sokolov and the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet Air Defence Forces, former World War II fighter ace pilot Chief Marshal Alexander Koldunov. The incident aided Mikhail Gorbachev in the implementation of his reforms, by allowing him to dismiss numerous military officials opposed to him whilst reducing the prestige of the Soviet military among the populace, thus helping bring an end to the Cold War. - Wikipedia
The Cessna 172 is the most produced aircraft in the world with over 43,000 built, which puts it just ahead of the Russian Polikarpov Po-2 Biplane. There are about 220,000 private aircraft in the USA

Horizontal Drilling

Geo-Pilot® Rotary Steerable System from Halliburton

Oklahoma Energy Resources Board has a video that gives a good overview of horizontal drilling and fracturing techniques. YouTube  has several videos on the same topic, but their audio tracks are either A) non-existent, or B) overfull of emotional drivel. The video from Halliburton (above) covers just the drill motor.

There are two kinds of horizontal drilling:
  • the kind used for drilling oil and gas wells, and
  • the kind used for near-surface construction projects, where a pipe has to be installed beneath an existing structure.
We are talking about the first kind here. Inspired by Comrade Misfit and a Bloomberg Businessweek article about oil production, prices and what they are doing to the Russian economy. The Bloomberg article mentioned horizontal drilling, which I had never heard of being used for oil. I had heard of directional drilling, which has been a bit of a mystery. This video helps clear it up a bit.

Conventional well drilling is done by turning the whole drill stem, much like you use an electric drill to turn a drill bit to drill a hole in a piece of wood. For directional drilling, which includes horizontal drilling, the drill pipe does not turn. It is used to conduct high pressure fluid to a hydraulic drill motor on the end of the drill string. (Drill string is the term for all of the sections of pipe strung together.)

Monday, October 13, 2014


San Francisco, July 3, 2011, Elliot

The blue and orange 737 looks so small because it is much farther away than the white Airbus, right? Inspired by Stu.

Gun Culture

Over on Military Photos dot net, somebody posted a link to a CNN story about guns and race. The post drew several comments. I thought this one was especially good.
This all too typical sloppy analysis where people try and explain cultural phenomena by working backwards from the current situation motivated by political bias. It’s stupid, lazy, ignorant and wrong.
North America has a gun culture thanks to its history and from well before there were any significant number of Blacks in North America. The Europeans who settled North America faced a 300 year long war on their frontier with well-armed and belligerent native tribes. They also settled a wide frontier over centuries with little or no effective law and order structure requiring self protection and self enforcements of laws. They also fought four major wars in North America between 1756 and 1864 amongst themselves and with external European powers.
The gun culture was well established and embedded in the American psyche well before the slaves were freed, Jim Crow, civil rights and the current Black crime wave. - Shelldraken
 I do wonder about "the current Black crime wave". It's not a problem where I live. I suppose there could be places where such a thing is happening. Or maybe it's just a state of mind for some people.

Robert Williams fled the country (1961) to escape prosecution on charges he believed to be false. When he eventually returned to the USA, he was arrested and brought to trial, whereupon the state of North Caroline dropped the charges. Huh. Imagine that.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sikorsky S-97 RAIDER

West Palm Beach, Florida. October 3, 2014. Sikorsky Aircraft facility unveiled the first of two S-97 RAIDER™ helicopter prototypes.

Kind of weird that Sikorsky would do this in a theater setting instead of at an airport, but perhaps the people who count like listening to other people talk, and you can bet there was a lot of talking going on at this event. Plus their hair wouldn't get mussed. So, politics. Should be making test flights before the end of the year. It has probably already made some, but under the radar, so to speak. Last thing you want on a project this expensive is a crash of the prototype on the evening news.

This thing uses a rigid hub and flexible blades instead of the complicated hinge and flap hubs used on other helicopters. Fancy materials lets them do that.


Soldiers 'prepare for a mission' (kill time making wisecracks) aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington somewhere on the far side of the world. U.S. Navy photo by Everett Allen.

Who knows what they are actually doing. The red light and their gear makes it look like a set from a new science fiction movie.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dark Matters

The ultimate aim of the darkness is to capture souls, and fear is their most effective tool because fear energy forms a barrier between the soul and the consciousness, thus literally keeping a fearful person “in the dark.”

That is why time and again we have urged you not to fall prey to grave predictions or claims, and you have seen that the timing ascribed to those kinds of events has come and gone without any of the catastrophes coming to fruition.

But the majority of the population doesn’t know how fearful feelings affect them personally or that the collective feelings create world conditions or that the dark ones need fear energy so they can continue fomenting devastation and death.

Matthew Ward, Aug 2 2012.
Stolen entire from World Boat. Matthew Ward is one of the pioneers of the Jesus music genre, later to be called contemporary Christian music. - Wikipedia

I'm not a big fan of Christian music, and I'm not a big fan of taking the advice from celebrities, but I think Matthew is describing our current media saturated environment very well.

P.S. In case you don't recognize the scene, it is Senator Palpatine's office from one of the Star Wars movies. Sad that I don't remember which one.

Inspired by a post on Dustbury.


Monrovia, Liberia. A US airman uses razor wire to delimit an Ebola treatment center. 
(AFP Photo/Pascal Guyot)

We've been watching The Blacklist. It's a very formulaic cop show with lots of secret spy stuff. One episode from last season had a guy die in a bank. An official somebody was on the scene in seconds and declared that he had died of a contagious disease and placed the bank under quarantine, which means the coppers drew guns on all the customers in the bank who were rushing for the door. On one hand it was very silly, on the other hand the show was only 40 odd minutes long, so it's understandable that the writers would want to compress a week-long procedure into a two minute long scene. I mean, we have a bunch more stuff we have to cram in here.
All this talk about Ebola reminds me of Typhoid Mary, which is where a lot of these public health issues first got some attention.

The basic premise of The Blacklist is that there are all kinds of people operating outside the law, and some of them are very organized and very powerful, and possibly insane. For instance, some of the tragedies we hear about, like where a ferry capsizes or an airliner crashes, are not accidents at all, but deliberate acts taken to kill one particular person (see "The Freelancer"). All the other people who die in the tragic accident are of no concern to the killers, just so much collateral damage.
The same idea was floated in The Madmen of Benghazi: the 747 was blown up over Lockerbie Scotland in order to kill one person. It wasn't done to call attention to themselves, that was a mere side effect. What's worse is the person they were trying to kill was not even on the plane. It's doubtful the "true" reason will ever be proven, and even if it is proven to some people's satisfaction, there will always be some who won't accept that version of the story.
There are a couple of reasons I like The Blacklist. One is that I like the idea that there vast criminal operations going on all over the world. I much prefer it to the Disneyfied version we keep telling ourselves. The other is the idea that someone not restrained by rules of evidence and those nasty constitutional amendments can obtain all the information they need to make a snap judgement. Oh, yeah, forget about the 'reasonable doubt' thing as well. All we need is one good whiff and boom! We know who the culprit is. Makes for a much more satisfying story.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Night Flight

Ernest K. Gann, author of Fate is the Hunter, mentions "Mermoz of l'Aeropostale", and down the rabbit hole I go.

He's referring to Jean Mermoz, French aviation pioneer. Established airmail routes to Argentina and Chile. Being an aviation pioneer means he had some misadventures.

Latecoere 25 3R LV-EAB in the markings of Aeroposta Argentina exhibited in the museum at Buenos Aires Aeroparque in 1975.
One Latécoère 25 was involved in a celebrated incident when it made a forced landing high in the Andes. Hitherto, flights between Buenos Aires and Santiago made a 1,000 km (620 mi) detour to avoid the mountains. On 2 March 1929, while searching for a safe route across the range, a Latécoère 25 piloted by Jean Mermoz was caught in a downdraft and forced down onto a plateau just 300 metres (1,000 ft) across at an altitude of 4,000 metres (12,000 ft). With his mechanic Alexandre Collenot and passenger, Count Henry de La Vaulx, Mermoz spent the next four days repairing and lightening the aircraft and making a clear path from it to the edge of the precipice. He then rolled it off the edge, diving to attain airspeed, and successfully reached Santiago. - Wikipedia
Antoine de Saint-Exupery was another French aviation pioneer, friend of Mermoz and author.
    He wrote Night Flight [1], a best seller in 1931 described as "lyrical" by Wikipedia. A few years later it was made into a movie. After its initial run it was locked away in MGM's vault for 70 years. Antoine, the author, didn't like the movie. Turner Classic Movies finally obtained the rights to show it and broadcast it in 2011. Got all this from the introduction to the movie on Vimeo.
    Antoine, being an aviation pioneer, had his own misadventures.
On 30 December 1935, at 2:45 a.m., after 19 hours and 44 minutes in the air, Saint-Exupéry, along with his mechanic-navigator André Prévot, crashed in the Sahara desert. They were attempting to break the speed record in a Paris-to-Saigon air race (called a raid) and win a prize of 150,000 francs. The crash site is thought to have been near the Wadi Natrun valley, close to the Nile Delta.
Both Saint-Exupéry and Prévot miraculously survived the crash, only to face rapid dehydration in the intense desert heat. Their maps were primitive and ambiguous, leaving them with no idea of their location. Lost among the sand dunes, their sole supplies were strawberries, ten oranges, a thermos of sweet juice, chocolate, a handful of crackers, and a small ration of wine. The pair had only one day's worth of liquid. They both began to see mirages and experience auditory hallucinations, which were quickly followed by more vivid hallucinations. By the second and third day, they were so dehydrated that they stopped sweating altogether. Finally, on the fourth day, a Bedouin on a camel discovered them and administered a native rehydration treatment that saved their lives. The near brush with death would figure prominently in his 1939 memoir, Wind, Sand and Stars, winner of several awards. Saint-Exupéry's classic novella The Little Prince, which begins with a pilot being marooned in the desert, is, in part, a reference to this experience. - Wikipedia
David O. Selznick, producer of Night Flight.
     I recognized this name immediately, but after I looked him up I wonder why. He died in 1965 and the only film of his that I know I've seen is Gone With The Wind, and that was 50 years ago.

Clarence Brown, famous as a film director, director of Night Flight.
Brown moved to Universal in 1924, and then to MGM, where he stayed until the mid-1950s. At MGM he was one of the main directors of their female stars–he directed Joan Crawford six times and Greta Garbo seven.
He not only made the difficult transition from silent cinema to sound cinema, but thrived there, proving himself to be an "actor's director": listening to his actors, respecting their instincts, and often incorporating their suggestions into scenes. In doing so, Brown created believable, under-played, naturalistic dialogue scenes stripped of melodrama, pulsing with the honest rhythms of real-life conversation. - Wikipedia
Shades of Quentin Tarantino.

[1] I think I inherited a copy of Night Flight, or maybe it was Wind, Sand and Stars, another one of his books. I tried to read it but it was too, I dunno, lyrical, maybe? In any case it wasn't my cup of tea.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Transcontinental Airmail

Comrade Misfit furnished a link and down the rathole I go, wherein I eventually came across this story by John Schamel about how coast-to-coast airmail got started. It's just a little nuts. I found it on a couple of different sites, but because I didn't like the formatting I made my own copy which is more readable.

In the midst of this story I found this paragraph where he talks about beacons.
What resulted was the first ground based civilian navigation system in the world. Beacons were positioned every ten miles along the airway. At the top of a 51-foot steel tower was a 1 million candlepower-rotating beacon. Pilots could see the clear flash of light from a distance of 40 miles. Also at the top of the tower were two color-coded 100,000 candlepower course lights. These pointed up and down the airway. They were colored green, signifying an adjacent airfield, and red, signifying no airfield. The course lights also flashed a Morse code letter. The letter corresponded to the number of the beacon within a 100-mile segment of the airway. To determine their position, a pilot simply had to remember this phrase – “When Undertaking Very Hard Routes, Keep Direction By Good Methods” – and know which 100-mile segment they were on.
 Now why would they choose that particular sequence of letters? Let's see what the Morse Code actually looks like.

Looks like they picked codes that had some kind of rough approximation to the numbers. They also have the advantage of being shorter than numbers. Numbers in Morse code are all five blips, none of these has more than four.

I suspect that the erection of these towers caused several locations to be christened 'Beacon Hill'.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gun Toting Pilots

On a recommendation from Comrade Misfit I'm reading Fate is the Hunter. Along about page 76 I encounter this:
"For example, we were suddenly authorized to carry our mail guns in our flight kits instead of strapping them, sheriff-wise to our belts."
A 'mail gun'? What the heck is a mail gun? Is it a gun-gun, or is it some kind of ticket puncher device, like a nail gun, that is used to, I dunno, punch the mail-bags? I go a-Googling, but I must not be holding my mouth right because I come up with bumpkis. So I asked the instigator, and she replied:
"Those who transported mail were once required to be armed. The airmail pilots in the `20s in their mail planes all carried guns. The airline routes in the `30s were all mail routes (it was the fees from the Post Office that kept the airlines from going broke), so the pilots were required to carry guns. TWA bought enough guns to have a standard-issue gun for that airline in 1931.

"I'm not sure when the requirement was ended."
So this business of airline pilots carrying guns is not new. And the internet doesn't know everything.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Infrared IFF

M1 Abrams tank firing calibration shot at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, Oct. 1.

Saw this pic over at Military Photos dot net, and thought it was kind of cool. I mean, I like tanks (big, heavy, powerful machines, with big guns) and here we have a lance of fire shooting out to the right. But other than that, well nothing too special.
    Then someone asks what the brown panels are (you can see one on the back of the turret and one on the side) and the reply comes back that they are Infrared IFF (Identify Friend or Foe) devices that show up black on thermal imagers. They show up black because they are cooler. Whaaaaaa???? How can that be? They are just panels, no electronics, no internal mechanism, no refrigeration. This is just too weird, so I go wander down the rathole...

Seems a company called Cejay Engineering has come up with tape that has low emissivity in a select portion of the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Emissivity tells you how much infrared energy an object radiates in relation to its temperature. For most stuff the emissivity level is relatively high, so the radiation corresponds well with the object's temperature. Shiny metals, not so much. Doing something as simple as painting a shiny metal surface, or spraying it with oil, can boost the amount of radiation coming from the object, and drastically alter it's appearance in a thermal imager. That's how you can raise it. How they can make this material have a lower level is a mystery.
This is a screen shot from a Cejay Engineering video (49 second mark). The black blobs in the center are some of these magic thermal panels

Here's some more curious pics.

Hot, non-stick frying pan:

Steel block:
Figure 3: Steel block, left side painted black.
Figure IR3: Corresponding thermal image of steel block.
I'm hoping I'm not giving away any military secrets here, but then I found this stuff on the internet, so how secret can it be? The tape might be embargoed.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Girls with Guns

Usually I post these pictures because it brings a little light into an otherwise gloomy world. This one is a little more serious. We have male and female battalions of Kurdish soldiers fighting ISIS in Iraq. Marie Claire has the story.

Gone Girl

It's pretty dang good story, but they were a couple of little hiccups that bugged me. WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD.

- Nick is talking to the detectives about some of the other people Amy had trouble with in the past. Nick asks about one in particular and the cops tell Nick that he is not a suspect. Nick persists and the cops are positive, but Nick DOES NOT ASK WHY and the cops don't tell him.

- Amy is at cabin in the Ozarks, packing to leave, and a couple of acquaintances come to the door and SHE LETS THEM IN. Nothing good will come of this. The man is poking through her cupboards, the woman is leaning against the door.

- The attorney Nick hires wants $100,000 retainer. Where the hell is Nick going to get that kind of money? He had to borrow $80 grand from his wife to buy the bar.

- After the press conference Nick wants to go to the police station and tell the cops his story. He does this against the advice of the attorney that he just hired for $100,000. WTF?

- Towards the end, when Amy announces she is pregnant again, Nick is suddenly consumed by fatherly concern. He's hanging with Psycho Bitch, waiting for something that will allow him to cut his ties to her and he is suddenly concerned because she's pregnant? Bullshit! She wants to be pregnant and have a kid, go for it. Me, I'm out of here. Fortunately there were only a couple of pages to go.

Orion Intercept

The Russians and the Europeans are always playing cat and mouse games with surveillance aircraft. Sometimes they get pretty close to each other.

Norwegian AF P-3B Orion. Compare tip of lower left blade of closest prop with tip of upper right blade.

    On the 13th of September 1987 a Norwegian AF P-3B Orion flying over the Barents Sea was intercepted by an Soviet Su-27 flown by Vasiliy Tsymbal at an altitude of 13,000 feet. The Orion was from Andøya Air Base, the Su-27 was from Kilip-Yavr Air Base.
    The Orion is an American four engine propeller driven aircraft used for electronic surveillance and anti-submarine operations. The Su-27 is a Russian supersonic jet fighter. At 13,000 feet, the air is breathable, barely. AOPA says "Sure, everyone knows that you have to use supplemental oxygen if you fly more than 30 minutes at cabin pressure altitudes of 12,500 feet or higher. That at cabin altitudes above 14,000 feet pilots must use oxygen at all times."

    Tsymbal made a couple of close passes without incident. The third time he went below the Orion. When he pulled away, the tip of one of his two vertical stabilizers hit the prop of the Orion's outboard starboard engine, breaking an eleven centimeter long piece off of the tip of one of the blades. The broken piece punched a hole in the Orion's fuselage which caused it to lose pressurization.
    None of the crew were injured and the Orion made it safely back to Banak Air Base.

Brazilian Orion

    Since this was an outboard engine it was a real fluke that the piece that broke off hit the fuselage. If it was going to hit the plane it would have been much more likely for it to hit the inboard engine, but it would have been much more likely to fly off and not hit anything at all.
    When the prop lost the tip of one blade it would have become unbalanced and started vibrating horribly. Fortunately the crew was able to shut the engine down and feather the prop, otherwise things could have gotten much worse.

Andøya Air Base (Blue), Banak Air Base (Orange), both in Norway, and Kilp-Yavr Air Base (Red) in Russia. The black, wavy line is an approximation of the Arctic Circle.

Andøya has shown up in this blog more times than I expected.

Update July 2020 replaced embedded map because Google lost it. Bad Google.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I've been trying to figure out the name of this actor. I can picture him in my mind's eye. He's a big guy, well north of 300 pounds, often plays a mafia thug wearing a black suit. Something happened to his nose, looks like someone got a hold of it and twisted it or something. I've seen him in a number of films, he's always a bit player, not the lead, one of the villain's heavies or something. I can't think of any films that I know he has been in, maybe not any, maybe it was always on TV. He's been around for a while, since the 1990's I think. I spent a couple of hours this afternoon trying to figure out his name, looking at lists of gangster movies and gangster actors, but no luck.
    Then I got an inspiration: police sketch artist, which led to this site that lets you create your own faces, so I did. I just put this together, I don't know if it really looks anything like him. I mean, I got the basics, two eyes, nose and mouth, but are they anything like the guy actually looks like? I have no idea.

Update: Posthip Scott suggested that Richard S. Castellano might be the guy I am looking for. I have to admit my sketch does look something like him, but that's not the guy I'm thinking of. Richard's nose is straight, and he's too short. Richard was the guy who was teaching Michael to cook spaghetti when they went to the mattresses in "The Godfather".

I might have been able to put together a better picture, but it's a slow process, there are a bunch of selections to sort through for each feature, and the more time I spent at it, the more difficult it was to picture the guy I was thinking of.

Cruiser Aurora

Russian Cruiser Aurora moved to dockyard in St. Petersburg two weeks ago for overhaul.

Time lapse video of the move. Cool Russian tune.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Please, FedEx, Fight Back Against Federal Extortion

Stolen entire from ForbesCalifornia Bob started working at Fedex this week and I was going to do a post on his trials and tribulations, but then I came across this story from a month ago.
by Bill Frezza
“Nice business ya got there. Pity if sumpin’ were to happen to it.”

Using fear and intimidation to extort money from legitimate businesses is a tried-and-true mafia tactic. But what happens when the federal government gets into this racket, demanding billions in “settlements” from an ever-expanding array of companies by threatening them with a corporate death sentence if they don’t knuckle under? We’re going to find out. Because this time, maybe they chose the wrong victim.

Tired of closing down state-approved medical marijuana dispensaries and seizing the property of their landlords, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag, an Obama appointee, is hunting for bigger game. Flush from shaking down Walmart, Johnson and Johnson, and UPS for tens of millions, she has indicted the FedEx Corporation on drug trafficking and “conspiracy to launder” money charges. The prize purse this time? $1.6 billion.

What did FedEx allegedly do? The company shipped prescription drug packages from Internet pharmacies that Haag doesn’t like. That’s the drug trafficking accusation. Then it accepted payment for their services. That’s the conspiracy to launder money.

But wait, isn’t it the job of the Drug Enforcement Agency to prosecute Internet pharmacies that flout the law? That’s what FedEx thought. How are package delivery services – or insurers, landlords, or even utilities for that matter – supposed to distinguish between legitimate online pharmacies and fly-by-night operators? Have “know your customer” laws imposed on banks now metastasized into the forced deputation of all businesses to root out and deny services to anyone the federal government doesn’t like? Between prosecutions like this and the infamous Operation Choke Point, it seems that way.

FedEx long ago agreed to cut off shipments from customers identified as operating illegally, repeatedly asking the government for a list for which it is still waiting. That would put the investigatory onus where it belongs, while shielding FedEx from lawsuits by disgruntled customers. Why was this not enough? Where in the Constitution, or in what federal statute, is every business obligated to serve as police, judge, and jury over any potentially illegal activities of its customers?

The stakes are high, not just for FedEx, but for American competitiveness, free enterprise, and ultimately the rule of law.

If the principle is established that every corporation can be held criminally liable for the alleged transgressions of its customers, will every business have to hire an army of compliance officers like the Too-Big-Too-Fail banks? (Citigroup will have almost 30,000 compliance employees by year’s end.)

Will every customer have to fill out an intrusive government-approved questionnaire to satisfy every vendor that they are not breaking any of the tens of thousands of laws and regulations pouring out of Washington? And will even that be enough, given that many laws are so vague that they can’t even be defined until a prosecutor decides to use them as a cudgel to extract fat settlements in order to advance her career? And companies shouldn’t expect any help from the media, for whom corporate scandal allegations always make good copy.

The old Soviet intelligence apparatus relied on citizens spying on each other on behalf of the state. No one knew who to trust, children were turned against parents, and the all-purpose charge of “Hooliganism” could be used at any time to put anyone prosecutors didn’t like in jail. We don’t have hooliganism charges in the U.S.—at least not yet—but we do have vague and flexible federal crimes like “conspiracy” and “obstruction of justice.” These, combined with the threat of federal debarment, have become powerful tools used by prosecutors to bludgeon corporations into settlements rather than risk going to trial to clear their names.

Think it can’t happen here? It already is. Under Operation Choke Point, the Justice Department and other federal agencies are going after certain politically incorrect businesses by trying to cut off their access to the financial system. Their tool? Threats of subpoenas to banks. Already, many banks are cutting relations with payday lenders, a prime target of Choke Point, as my CEI colleague Iain Murray documents in a recent study.

For example, Al LePage, owner of Al’s Check Cashing in suburban Minneapolis, last February got a call from Wells Fargo giving him 30 days to cease and desist or risk losing his bank account. “The only explanation I got was that they’re not doing payroll advances anymore,” said LePage. “But I run a legal business.” As Peter Barden of the Online Lenders Alliance described it, Operation Choke Point “should … send a troubling message to banks that at any point regulators can force them to stop processing legal transactions simply because they don’t like a particular merchant or industry.”

That is why FedEx must avoid becoming fodder for FedExtortion. Unless and until corporate America fights back, forcing rogue prosecutors to take their cases to trial, we will keep seeing more and more of this. Meanwhile, federal prosecutors will continue using these cases to go on to greater glory, often seeking political office, by brandishing the corporate scalps they’ve claimed. Eliot Spitzer was just the beginning.
had a story in Epoch Times two months ago about the indictment where he wrote:
But in a country where the government demands its portion of taxes on illegal drug dealing (such earnings must be reported to the IRS), FedEx must think it has a chance.

Jerrie Mock

Comrade Misfit put up a post about Jerrie Mock this morning. It didn't mean much until I followed the links and found she flew from Columbus, Ohio. That rings a bell! I was in Columbus then, and I remember there was a big fuss about Mock somebody. This happened right around the time Kennedy got shot, and that kind of overshadowed everything from that time period. Poking around, I came across this newspaper clipping:

Front page of The Columbus Dispatch, January 19, 1964, Via

So it wasn't just Columbus, it was Bexley, the same small suburb of Columbus where I went to junior high school.

     More digging uncovered a statue erected at The Works in Newark, Ohio. Newark is about 40 miles East of Columbus. After we moved to the farm near Highwater, Newark became the local 'big city', i.e. where you went if you needed something more than a loaf of bread. I'm not sure why Newark got the statue.

At the same time that Jerrie was making her flight, Joan Merriam Smith from California was making her own attempt.

Three Eight Charlie - Amazon has one copy of her book available for $500. Phoenix Graphics is selling paperback versions for $18. Kindle doesn't count.

P.S. I was delivering The Dispatch then. Did you see what it said on the front page? 208 pages! I don't think you could get 208 pages if you piled up an entire months worth of The Oregonian.