Sunday, February 28, 2010

Jet Sled

Over at Bayou Reconnaissance Man, there's a fun video of some Swedes with their steam powered dogsled. The advantage of this is that you are no longer limited by the speed of a running dog. The obvious disadvantages are that first, steering seems a bit iffy, possibly limited to crude bending of the frame, similar to the ever-popular Flexible Flyer.

The second thing is the charging procedure, which seems to involve filling the attached pressure tank with water, then dropping the whole sled onto a briskly burning fire until the water reached some 400 degrees Celcius, according to the comments. Go here to see the original, with comments.

Superheated water will flash to steam and drop it's temperature almost immediately to 212 degrees, so the exhaust is (relatively) safe. Heating a steel container to 750 degrees (F) will reduce the heat-treatment properties of the metal, rendering the tank weaker that it was before. There are videos of steam locomotives suffering boiler failure out there.

Evidently there is an official record for powered sleds, which these fellows are looking to break. I'm thinking that if the thing ran on inline runners, with just a bit of rubber to provide suspension, it would ride much like a motorcycle, and the driver would be less likely to learn what it was like to slide across a frozen lake at 100 mph, on his butt.

I'm not discouraging the effort, just suggesting that a bit more thinking might be in order here. It's a fine line, sometimes between a gold medal on a platform, and a Darwin award on the Internet.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Feast of Saint Mendeleyev

It has been announced, so let it be done! March 1st is the day.

I am still not sure that Dimitri has actually been canonized, but why let that stop you. According to the Periodic Table of Science Fiction,:

In keeping with the solemnity of the occasion, the Feast of Saint Mendeleyev is a day of fasting and abstinence. Not a chemist anywhere in the world will touch more than a morsel of food or a few sips of water from sunup to sundown. Their mien is somber. They think serious thoughts.

After dark, of course, that all changes. Out come the picnic baskets and wine bottles. Toasts are made, and laughter sparkles to the sky. Then everybody goes outside, and they proceed to blow things up. They're chemists, after all—it's what they do for fun!

Mendeleyev could have predicted it.

Fasting all day doesn't have much appeal, but the drinking and carousing in the evening may make up for it. Unfortunately March 1st falls on a Monday, which will put a bit of a damper on the celebrations.

This is an officially recognized holiday of the Denver Mad Scientists Club, who swear they will have their formerly impressive website back up Any Day Now.

More Global Warming

The north-east is up for another generous dose of the dreaded Gore effect:
They don't mince words on this map, do they? I hope Jeff has socked away plenty of cat food.
At its peak, the storm will deliver near hurricane-force wind gusts (74 mph) blinding snow falling at the rate of over an inch per hour. For some people in upstate New York and eastern and northern Pennsylvania, this may seem more like a "snow hurricane" rather than a blizzard.
Senator Inhofe has called for Pope Al to be investigated and maybe even charged, presumably for fraud. Let's see, the A.G. is Eric Holder, who owes his job to the President, who has a Cap and Tax bill pending that assumes that all this global warming claptrap is gospel. Don't think I'll hold my breath on that one.

Monday, February 22, 2010

10.6% Unemployment

According to this compilation of BLS numbers, anyway. I've noted before that I don't trust the government to produce trustworthy statistics. Some agencies do, but others have an interest in making them support one cause or another, such as the continued flow of grants, or the continued re-election of some blowhard parasite.

Again, I believe there are accurate enough ways to actually determine the unemployment rate that anyone with XL and a bit of aptitude for ferreting numbers from the government could use. Traffic density, government tax revenues, which are available quarterly, or other bits of information for example.

Health Care - One More Time

The health care bill, like a B movie zombie, isn't quite dead enough although a lot of people are sounding the death knell for it. Frankly I don't trust the government not to reinstate slavery.

The bill's exact status even eludes the Gods Playing Poker:
Although it looks like Great Cthulhu has had some experience in Washington.

I like Gods Playing Poker. This panel is here.

The current thinking (?) is that the bill will lose the Cornhuckster amendment for Bill Nelson, but retain the Louisiana Purchase of Mary Landreau. The CBO currently says it's unable to estimate the costs for this latest version,as the necessary details have been omitted for clarity, or something.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Reign In Spain

Spanish president Zapatero is finding himself in a bit of hot water over the financial condition of the Republic, which seems to be only a high-yield bond of two from that of Greece. For those of you who find the topic boring, that means broke.

Zap, as he is locally known, is blaming this on a conspiracy against Spain by the Anglo media. Sure, Zap. Everybody knows that the Brits have had it in for you ever since the Spanish Armada lost what should have been an easy romp to Lord Nelson. Europeans know how to carry a grudge.

My take is that Zap may have hit on something here. After all Spain's imminent bankruptcy seems to be the result of an overly ambitious socialist government. Never heard of that happening, right? But wait! Maybe it is. And guess what? The Communist Manifesto was first published (in German) in London by a group of German political refugees in 1848. The bedrock blueprint for the whole fiasco.

So there you are: Spain's collapse is the fault of British media.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Assisted Suicide

Sen Michael Bennett plans to leave politics this November, but he wants to be absolutely sure that his campaign fund money will be completely wasted. To that end, he has decided to commit political suicide.

In town today to campaign for Sen Bennett, was president O'Bama, whose current record, campaigning in support of people is 0-3, having lost in S. Carolina, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. This mans endorsement is the kiss of death.

To secure the opinion everybody has of him, the Denver visit was timed so that the main arteries through town were shut down just at the peak of rush hour, so that SUV-1 could get to the airport on time.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Nuclear Energy

Actually it's not about energy, nuclear or any other sort. It's about how the game is played.

El Presedente has offered up $8 billion in loan guarantees to allegedly build 2 nuclear power plants. Anyone who has followed nuclear power in this country knows that in spite of being cleaner and more efficient than coal, no one builds nuke plants because they take 3 times as long and cost 5 times as much to build, since 2/3 of the cost of the plant goes into lawsuits filed to try to stop them.

NRO has a bit on this new offer, including a clip of candidate O'Bama stating that he is "Not a proponent of nuclear power." What this is, is $8billion in loan guarantees which will be put toward defending lawsuits brought by the sort of people who usually adorn the back covers of phone books.

The lawyers, in turn, will kick back some percentage to the man who made the big paydays possible, to use on his re-election campaign. Or maybe a retirement villa in a country with lax extradition laws. 10% of 8 billion sounds like a pretty good retirement to me.

Power plants? Hah!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Mikulski To Quit

Since Taranto made them famous, I thought I'd have a go at a bye-ku:

Barbra counts to ten
She cannot see eleven.
Mikulski Bayh Bayh.

Global Warming - The Finale

Revelations this week now show that the Global Warming business has been based on snake oil, smoke, and mirrors. Phil Jones, in an interview with the BBC, pretty much admits that the whole thing has been a pack of lies, although he claims that he still believes. He sounds like the old doomsayers who predict the end of times, take all their followers worldly goods, and prepare for the apocolypse on top of a hill somewhere.

Most of those folks wound up badly when the sun came up, and the sky failed to open.

Here's my favorite illustration of the problem:
The lower graph is the basic data regarding temperatures over the last 1100 years. This data has been around for a while, and is backed up by things like wheat-farming colonies in Greenland around 1200 AD, and emigration from Scandinavia in the 1600s due to massive crop failures. Note carefully the evidence of the impending ice age in the 1970s.

The upper graph is the "after" picture, showing what can be done with otherwise good data with just a bit of carefully applied statistical analysis. Note that the Medieval Warm Period, and the Little Ice Age have both vanished, to be replaced with the destruction of humanity from overheating.

If I thought Al was down there, I'd suggest the area be surrounded by "crime scene" tape, and left until spring, when a more careful investigation could be carried out. Of course it might also make a good designated dump zone for excess snow being cleared.

Tea Party Backs Harry Reid!

In a not entirely unexpected move today the Nevada Tea Party registered as a third party, and announced it would field its own candidate against Senate Majority leader Harry Reid.

Reid, who currently has a 38% favorable rating among Nevadans, welcomes the introduction of a 3rd party candidate, as this will result in a final vote of Reid:38%, Republican 31% and Tea Party 31% allowing him to keep his seat another 6 years.

Reid is expected to send fruit baskets and flowers to the Tea Party headquarters immediately after the elections. He is not expected to answer any phone calls from them.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Postal Match, New and Improved!

Mr. Completely is announcing the first postal match of 2010 will be published at his site on or very near the 1st of March.

New and Improved: Cheaper Than Dirt has generously made available $50 gift certificates for the Postal Match series, to be awarded to a randomly drawn participant, one per match. You need not be present to win, but you must send in a shot-up target. If you want to do any bragging, you will aim carefully at the target before shooting it up.

Sometimes the targets are straightforward, Sometimes they are annoyingly complex and far more difficult to score well on than you would think. Trying to hit an arc-shaped area is exasperatingly difficult.

Mr. C is suggesting that you get one entry for the CTD swag for every entry to the match you send in in a unique class. So no shooting 25 targets full of holes with your .22 pistol and sending them all in. Your best effort with that gun is the only one that counts.

Categories include rim fire or centerfire, rifle or pistol, and iron or glass sights. there is usually a class for air guns or what-have-you.

Improving The Olympics

I've been discussing the Olympics back an forth with a friend today, and have concluded that the whole thing could use some fixing up. First off, the opening ceremonies will be choreographed by Tam. See previous post, and this time click the links.

Second off, the sledding events just haven't been the same since the Jamaicans are not represented, and besides, they (everybody, not just the Jamaicans) look like a trip down the water slide at Water World, only with ice, so in my Olympics, all sledding events will be held on the same course as the mens giant slalom. Obviously the equipment will need a bit of updating as more maneuverability and better brakes are indicated.

The Biathlon will be modified to provide the same number of targets, but in the format of pop-ups, placed randomly along the trail. All targets will pop up, wait 5 seconds, then pop back down. 0 points for an "A" zone hit, 5 points for a "B" zone, and 10 points for a miss. Scores to be added to your time. Class B, rimfire, and class A, centerfire. Some of the targets will be out there a ways. Much as I think it would inprove the viewing, I've decided that holding the event inside a fenced preserve with 3-5 polar bears might be excessively complicated, what with having to catch and fly in the bears, then fly them back out again.

Next is snowmobile racing. I'm debating if this should be held indoors on a super-cross track, or outdoors on an SCCA sports car track.

Mens figure skating. The ladies love this one with its spray-on costumes and finely chiseled tushes, but let the men compete against each other in pairs, and add in pugil sticks, and the audience doubles. Not to mention beer sales.

Snowboarding and mogul skiing:
Nothing wrong with these events that a bit of work on the outfitting wouldn't largely cure. Go here for more. Try to remember to come back. Imagine womens mogul skiing with a athlete like Katerina Witt. (NSFW) Yowza!

I'm sure there's more room for improvements. Suggestions welcome.

Olympic Entertainment

Tam has some commentary on the quality of the entertainment being provided by the Olympics.

I am in complete agreement with her on this.

In fact, if more of the high-speed events involved multiple contestants, with close-quarters passing involved, I think they could compete favorably with NASCAR.

The biathlon is shaping up well too.

Check this action.

Friday, February 12, 2010

King, N.C. Gun Restrictions

In King, N.C. they have this on the books, in the event of a declared emergency:

3. NO FIREARMS: No sale or purchase of any type of firearm, ammunition, explosive, or any possession of such items is allowed off a person's own premises. [underline and bold in original -ed]
A lot of people wondered about this since the declared emergency resulting from the recent flurries of global warming triggered the ordinance. You wonder how some things wind up on the books, and think there must be some good stories behind some of them.

I think I found it

School Shooting in Alabama

Details here. It seems a prof was in for hearings regarding getting tenure. It seems she didn't get it, so started shooting. 3 dead.

The sense of entitlement is strong in this one.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quote of the Day

Found at Wizbang, who found it in the Bloomberg interview:
"Our real problem is not the spike in spending last year, or the lost, even the lost revenues last year, as significant as those are," he said. "The real problem has to do with the fact that there is a just a mismatch between the amount of money coming in and the amount of money going out. And that is going to require some big, tough choices that, so far, the political system has been unable to deal with."
B.H. O'Bama
This kind of understanding of economics explains a lot. Too bad no one noticed it sooner.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

12 ga Beretta Revolver

And it's made in the USA. Says so right on the frame.
Surely those Taiwanese gunsmiths wouldn't kid us about this, now would they? I guess this falls into the category of "If the Taurus Judge is a good idea, then elevating the concept to a 12 ga ought to be the cats pajamas". Or maybe the cat's demise.

Looks dangerous Sahib. You shoot first.

Unemployment, Again

The Washington Post has an editorial pointing out that in spite of best intentions, the BLS method of collecting unemployment statistics can, and does, produce conflicting data, depending on who is being surveyed.
The government doesn't really know the exact number of people with or without jobs. The number reported each month is based on surveys, and surveys often can have methodology issues. As it turns out, the surveys estimating the number of people with jobs reported over the past couple of years suffered from some really big problems. That's where government falsely claiming 824,000 more jobs than actually existed comes into play. Unfortunately, those adjustments have so far been made only through March 2009, and there are strong reasons to believe the survey data since then also need to be adjusted downward.
I bet one could get a perfectly good estimate of employment by surveying traffic on a major artery between a bedroom suburb, and the downtown area. You'd need to adjust your numbers if the road was widened, and use a factor to account for increasing or decreasing population, but this should be much easier to figure out than the relationship between sunspots and grant money for climate studies.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Concealable Weapons

Now that you've got your CCW, you need to get a weapon to conceal.

Here are several offerings.

I rather favored the shotgun disguised as a box of Kleenex.

Warning: Do not drink and surf. At least not while you're surfing here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Science and Technology Marching Forward

DARPA wants to create their very own immortal bio-creations. No word yet on what form these might take, although punk hair-dos and eye shadow applied with a paint roller come to mind.

Think ahead, though, to next Christmas, when the technology gets to the point that you can start your own offspring into a career in science with the Make-A-Man(tm) toy. consists of vials containing:
  • A is for adenine
  • G is for guanine
  • C is for cytosine
  • T is for thymine
Several test tubes, and a re-painted E-Z Bake oven.

Remember how quickly the kids took to computers? Remember how quickly they became the only ones in your house who could de-bug your cell phone?

What could go wrong?

Rocky Mountain Blogger Fest

And a fine time was had by all. Delicious food was eaten, bone structures were generously nurtured, deep philosophies were waded into, sometimes knee deep before we got back to working on the bone structure.

Steve got all the hot chicks, although Jed got his frottage, and the rest of us got each others business cards.

All this in a distraction-free environment (no TV in the birthday room).

Pictures were taken, documenting most of this, unfortunately not by me. Check the other blogs to see where the hush money should go.

Thanks to all of you who came, and to the rest of you: You shoulda been there!

Murtha's Obituary

"I have never advocated killing anybody, but there have been several obituaries it has given me great pleasure to read."

Mark Twain

The news was delivered to Washington today. Hilarious.

Unemployment, Again

Return with us now, to a soapbox near and dear to my heart, unemployment. You may have heard pronouncements from the BLS regarding exactly how many people are in one state of unemployment or another. Here's a graph of recent BLS numbers:
Since nobody at the BLS is running for office, these numbers have a certain amount of credibility. It looks like the U-3 is made up of 2.6 million, and the long-term unemployed is about 6.4 million.

You have probably heard the bluebird of hopeiness telling us that the unemployment rate, U-3, has fallen to 9.7%. Let's assume, in this case, that the government is telling us the truth.

OK, when you've cleaned your drink out of your keyboard, and gotten up off the floor, let's check a number. If 2.6 million unemployed represents 9.7 % of the workforce, then 6.4 million must represent, (pull out the calculator, fumble with buttons) 23.8%. A number that hasn't been seen since the great depression.

It is possible, of course, that the larger number in the chart above is, in fact, the U-6, which includes the regular unemployed in it, but that would suggest that the U-6 is about 14.7% and even the government doesn't claim that.

I think I know what all those climate scientists do to moonlight.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Gun Fun 2

It must be 11, because the film has arrived. Our clubs Battle of Stalingrad Memorial Bowling Pin Shoot, so named because of the similar temperatures.
Here's what it's all about:
Clear your table before the other fellow clears his. This guy looks to be 1 pin ahead of the competition. Those tables are 4 ft x 8 ft, so the pins don't have to fall right off for you.
If you don't get a clean hit, or if your gun is a smaller caliber, you get something like this, with 5 "wounded" pins, taking cover so as to make your following shots both necessary and less effective. Could be worse, they could have fallen with the tops pointing toward the shooter.

We has two new shooters from Finland, bringing IPSC equipment that we don't normally see. Since we're strictly unofficial, we let anyone play.
Contest: For 500 Billll bucks, value zero, can anyone ID the gun she's using? I know it's a 9, but I missed the technical details. Another thing: She uses that gun regularly, and is very good with it. She can knock down 5 pins, then shoot them again to get them off the table faster than most of us can shoot 5 pins.
She finished 3rd overall. This was her usual finish. Her husband, using a conventional (looking) .45 auto, finished 2nd.

I use a revolver. The disadvantage is that I only have 6 shots before I have to reload, which is a relatively slow process. Hence I have an incentive to not miss. In a good round, I fire 5 shots, and clear the table, and hopefully my opponent, shooting faster, has missed enough times to be reloading while I drop the last pin. Let me point out that the ammo you use for this should be carefully selected, so as to give uniform results.
Or you can do like I do, and use whatever is on the top of the heap. Not only did I win the table I shot with this collection, I did it in 5. Practice, Practice, Practice.

The pins had been sitting in the equipment shed for 2 weeks at sub-freezing temps, and were very brittle. Hits frequently produced a shower of plastic fragments, and split the wood inside.


Money is what you give to government officials in the hope that they will, in return, at least perform their function, if not perform it in your favor. In India, the public is getting rapidly fed up with this sort of behavior, a legacy of the 70s when India sought to emulate the socialist utopia of the Soviet Union. To that end, this:
is being printed in large quantities to meet demand. It is apparently a good enough copy of real currency to be snatched quickly by a corrupt official.

Glenn Reynolds suggests it might make a good envelope stuffer for American pols seeking contributions to their re-election funds, and darkly hints it might be good for paying this years taxes, too. Well, maybe not good, but certainly appropriate.

Anyway, such a bill should be developed for use here, too. Maybe starting with the U.S. $100, revalued to zero.
Maybe I can get a Nobel prize in Economics for finally inventing fiat money with an actual value on it. Maybe I'll get arrested by the Treasury department for giving the game away.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Gun Fun

Back East, Global Warming is in full cry, and people who forgot to stock up on french toast are being forced to eat their pets. Here, where hunting the mighty Mastodon with anything more aggressive than a sharp stick will get you laughed at, we all got together and went out to hunt the wily wild bowling pin.

Foggy this morning, which coated everything with the kind of photogenic layer of ice that poets like to write about, especially from a warm loft with a hot beverage in hand. It's enough to convince you that being a poet is not without its advantages.

NOTE: At low temperatures, the plastic sheathing on bowling pins gets quite brittle, making for rather striking explosions of plastic from struck pins. Pictures, still and moving were taken. Film, as they say, at 11, whenever that turns out to be.

HOV Lanes

There's an article here about the Suffolk County (Long Island N.Y) cops making the bust of the day, catching a driver using the HOV lane with a metabolically-impaired passenger. Worse even, the passenger wasn't even a dead human (it's been tried) but a rather lifelike mannequin.

I'm guessing that the perp had been getting away with this for a while, but let me offer some hints that might help here. First, signs of life include subtle little movements. So fix your "passenger" up with tinted glasses to cover the fixed stare.

Second, the cops get paid to observe and report, so help them out here by giving your friend a regular change of clothes. Maybe even a regular change of wig, too.

Third, don't use one of those inflatable dolls from the alternative book store. This will get you pulled over quickly so the nice policeman can find out who's two-timing his girlfriend.

Fourth, babies tend to look a lot alike, and don't have large wardrobes. Get a child carrier, and install one of those large, lifelike dolls in it. Use one that actually looks like a baby. Do not use one that looks like Barbie. Even an empty carrier can be covered with a blanket, which means you may only need the head, and the rest of the space can be used to hold ice, and bottled refreshment. Properly mounted, the head can even bobble and turn in a lifelike manner.

One more thing, once you arrive where you're going, put the carrier in your trunk, or at least remove the dolly and stash it where it either can't be seen, or is obviously a doll. You don't want to be explaining to an amused cop and irate social worker that the "baby" you abandoned in the carrier in your car is actually your car pool passenger. Place the doll next to the carrier when you park, and everybody will assume it belongs to the absent occupant of the carrier.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Big Breasts 2

Well, of course they are.

It seems the post below, while not entirely true, wasn't that far off.

It looks like the Aussies don't mind small breasted women in the porn industry, but they don't want to be mistaken for Arkansans.

Big Breasts

Yeah, that'll bring in the hits. Anyway Australia is setting minimum standards for women working in the porn industry. They're proposing a minimum breast size, below which a woman would be denied a job. Several women I know have suggested that a variation on this already exists in the general job market in which if multiple women apply for the same job, the nod goes to the one with the best rack.

This is not new.

Wannabe bride: "I'd like a marriage license, please."
Clerk: "O.K. but you'll have to fill out your form first."
Wannabe Bride, now nearly in tears:" But my boyfriend likes it just the way it is!"

When I first heard this, I lived in the south. I assumed the story was from Arkansas, where 10-year-old brides weren't that uncommon, although it was discouraged. Good girls waited until they were at least 13.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

All The News That's Fit To Drink

I've been asked where I get my news (the internet) and why. Well it's like this:

Internet news is like moonshine. It's fresh, strong, sometimes harsh, and sometimes not so good, in spite of how carefully you pick your suppliers.

Network news, print or TV, is like fine sipping whiskey. Smooth, tasty, and easy to swallow. And like fine whiskey, sometimes it's 12 years old.

Moonshiners knew that the first stuff to come off the still was the bad part, and threw it away. The trick to maximizing your profit was to know when to start collecting the product. To this end they would sometimes give a shot of their freshly minted product to the dog. If the dog didn't go blind, then they were good to go.

I think I'll name my next dog Snopes.

Rocky Mountain Blogger Fest

So far I have 7 or 8 guys, and one very opportunistic hot chick. Anyone else want to admit to attending?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Latest Economic News

The CBO is the bluebird of happiness this week with news that will reassure you that the recession is over and job growth will soon take off.

Before clicking on the above link, hit this:

(Reference link deleted for being excessively annoying.)

Then go read the report.

Gunny Girl 2

I promised more guns and more hot women, so in keeping with that here's the Gunny Girl for February, shamelessly pinched from Theo Spark:
She might be an expensive date at $0.60 / round for that bandoleer she's holding though, but worth it, I'm sure.