February 25, 2010

Quest Kodiak


Science, not the kind of science you get from Al Gore and Bill Nye the Science Guy, but honest to goodness, practical, empirical science. Science that could alter the direction of mankind. This $400 million energy project purports to produce clean, cheap power from fuel cells in a box.

Start-up Bloom Energy is unveiling a fuel-cell product Wednesday that can power a small office building. It expects to have home systems within a decade that are about the size of a loaf of bread, it says.

Bloom's technology gives users the ability to produce electricity — as opposed to buying it from utilities — and has the potential to extend electricity to parts of the world lacking traditional power systems and lines, Bloom says.

Bloom CEO KR Sridhar expects home models within 10 years that cost less than $3,000. He says consumers could see the so-called Bloom boxes powering apartment buildings and housing developments before that.

Sridhar, a professor of aerospace engineering who once led a team developing technology to sustain life on Mars for NASA, says utilities could buy the boxes, too, to power neighborhoods.

With Bloom's fuel cell, air and fuel — such as natural gas, ethanol or biogas — are fed into the cell. The oxygen ions react with the fuel to produce electricity. There's no burning, so the fuel cell is two-thirds cleaner than coal-fired plants, Bloom says.
Video HERE

February 22, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

Barry Soetoro; Profiles in Chaos or "The current leader of the free world is not in touch with reality." From Canadian Free Press;

It takes a bit of narcissism to wake up in the morning and think: “Hey, I really ought to be leader of the free world”. Coming to such a conclusion in the fourth grade is, to say the least, ambitious. Having some narcissistic traits does not a narcissist make. However, according to the Encyclopedia of Mental Disorders, grandiosity is the most important single trait in narcissism.
Why Do Sled Dogs Run? From the New York Times;

I listen to the one-way singsong between Murphy and his dogs, encouragement and caution and admiration. I watch the driving legs ahead of me — 28 of them — on dogs whose frames are small and light, nothing like the creatures I’d imagined. And as we cut through the white ash swamp, hissing across the ice, I find myself wondering, why do sled dogs run?

It is not a matter of driving them. All the work is in pacing them, restraining them. When Murphy stands on the brake and sets the snow hook — a two-pronged anchor — the gangline quivers with tension. The dogs torque forward again before he can shout, “Let’s go!” All the one-word answers to my question are too simple: love, joy, duty, obedience.
Race season is getting underway in Alaska, no I don't mean Nascar. The Irondog race began Sunday and the start of the Iditarod is less than two weeks away.

Hanger flying: "The Fastest Sled in the Sky" by Brian Schul - former sled driver.

"There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane - intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be the fastest guys out there, at least for a moment.
Link courtesy of our friend MrTex.

February 21, 2010

Iowa's Buyers Remorse

From the Des Moines Register:
A sharp drop in approval for President Barack Obama from Iowa's political independents has pushed the Democrat's approval further below 50 percent in the state and below the national average, according to the latest Iowa Poll...

What has changed: The fractions of independents who support Obama's handling of all three of these issues (economy, health care and the budget deficit) have shrunk in the past three months.

One-third of independents now say they approve of his work on the economy, about 30 percent on health care and less than a quarter on the budget deficit. Obama pledged during his State of the Union address in January to make jobs, health care and spending cuts top priorities this year.
This crash parallels the demise of Iowa Governor Chet Culver who, riding the coat tails of the Democratic ascendancy in 2008, is looking more and more like a one term catastrophe. Culver is trailing former Governor Terry Branstad by 20 points in recent polling.

February 19, 2010

The World's 18 Strangest Airports

From Popular Mechanics: "Getting to this paradise-like island can be a bit distressing thanks to a 1300-foot-long runway, slightly longer than most aircraft carrier runways."

Caution: The Video below may cause puckering of your seat cushion.

Where is the Outrage?

If you are wondering why congress does not roll the money that has been returned to the Toxic Asset Relief Program back into the treasury to reduce the national debt, the answer is simply because it gives the President a $787 billion dollar slush fund to dole out over the next year to political districts where the Democratic incumbents are in trouble. Lame duck Harry Reed is the first to recieve this honey bucket of presidential largesse.

LAS VEGAS (AP) - President Barack Obama is unveiling $1.5 billion in housing help, a boost timed to his appearance in the city with the worst foreclosure crisis in the nation...

The money for the new rescue effort will come from the $700 billion financial industry bailout program, (formerly known as TARP) according to a senior administration official who spoke anonymously Thursday night because the formal announcement had not been made.

I realize that Congress has over the years abrogated many of its responsiblities to the Executive branch but the one power they managed to cling to was the power to spend, that is no longer the case. Rage on America.

February 12, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

The Obama RCP Job Approval Average: Almost underwater.

On short final to a landing on the moon: Michael Yon flying in Afghanistan.

Via Iowa Hawk : Snowblower envy.

February 11, 2010

The Right to Bear Arms...

Via Ace

The Thin Veneer of Civilization

Attributed to Edgar Rice Burroughs:

Civilization has spread a veneer over the surface of the soft shelled animal known as man. It is a very thin veneer; but so wonderfully is man constituted that he squirms on his bit of achievement and believes he is garbed in armor-plate.

Yet man to-day is the same man that drank from his enemy's skull in the dark German forests, that sacked cities, and stole his women from neighboring clans like any howling aborigine. The flesh-and-blood body of man has not changed in the last several thousand years. Nor has his mind changed. There is no faculty of the mind of man to-day that did not exist in the minds of the men of long ago.

It is the same old animal man, smeared over, it is true, with a veneer, thin and magical, that makes him dream drunken dreams of self-exaltation and to sneer at the flesh and the blood of him beneath the smear. The raw animal crouching within him is like the earthquake monster pent in the crust of the earth. As he persuades himself against the latter till it arouses and shakes down a city, so does he persuade himself against the former until it shakes him out of his dreaming and he stands undisguised, a brute like any other brute.

Starve him, let him miss six meals, and see gape through the veneer the hungry maw of the animal beneath. Get between him and the female of his kind upon whom his mating instinct is bent, and see his eyes blaze like an angry cat's, hear in his throat the scream of wild stallions, and watch his fists clench like an orang-outan's. Maybe he will even beat his chest. Touch his silly vanity, which he exalts into high-sounding pride -- call him a liar, and behold the red animal in him that makes a hand clutching that is quick like the tensing of a tiger's claw, or an eagle's talon, incarnate with desire to rip and tear.

It is not necessary to call him a liar to touch his vanity. Tell a plains Indian that he has failed to steal horses from the neighboring tribe, or tell a man living in bourgeois society that he has failed to pay his bills at the neighboring grocer's, and the results are the same. Each, plains Indian and bourgeois, is smeared with a slightly different veneer, that is all. It requires a slightly different stick to scrape it off. The raw animals beneath are identical."

February 08, 2010

Flotsam and Jetsam

Separated at Birth?

The Era Order Quiz: "Think back to your history classes for this one. You may remember that these eras happen, but do you know when they happened? From the choices, can you pick the correct order of these historical eras?"

The Roots of Obama Worship : Long but interesting in a nerdi poli sci sort of way.

Fordson Snow Machine - 1929 Concept: This machine was brought to my attention some time back (thx Steve) and since then I have had a design rattling around in my head of a low profile single seat model with a very high weight to power ratio. Capable of high speed land and water locomotion.

Douche Bag Apprehended in Texas

ObamIcon Me: Now you too can create a personalized Icon to your own special awesomeness.

The Anchoress: Is Obama's reliance on the teleprompter a sign of mental distress?

February 06, 2010

Cessna Caravan on Amphibs; the Ultimate SUV

Please Mr President, Stay Out of the Superbowl

Blog de King Shamus asks, Do We Really Need to See an Obama Interview During the Super Bowl?

Definitely not, other than it will be good opportunity for a drinking game. Every time the Pres says my, I, or inherited you must take a drink, although there is the danger that you might not remember the second half. Or better yet you and your noisiest friends could give the White House a call during halftime to voice your disdain. Comments @ 202-456-1111 or the Switchboard @ 202-456-1414.

While at de King's also check out the Afgan jumping jacks vid.

The Science of Product Placement

Discovered this ironic product placement during our Friday junket to the local video outlet. I don't know if this was intentional or the work of someone with a sense of humor as sick, but as clever, as my own.

I ended up with the "Carriers" movie pictured above by the way, which was pretty good as far as cheap "end of the world as we know it" flicks go. In this version the world has been hit with a highly contagious and lethal virus. The group sets off on a cross country jaunt and had a plan that when followed did a pretty good job of ensuring their survival but of course "someone" (read chick, its always the chick) screws it up jeopardizing the survival of the whole group. Excuse me while I run out to stock up on Clorox.

A King of Long Ago

There once lived a king in a dis­tant land—a just and wise old king, for he had observed and learned much about his people and about himself and his power. His people were free to go their way, and were fearful of the king and his soldiers, for his rule granted no privilege to one that was not a privilege t all equally. And they were free to petition their king and seek h s wisdom in their affairs.

Thus there came one day to the royal court an artisan, a mason, and a beggar who was lame. "O great and wise king," they cried, "we are sorely troubled with our plight." "I," said the artisan, "make many useful goods. I use great skill and labor long, and yet when I am finished, the people will not pay my price."

"And I," said the mason, "am a layer of stone for houses and fine walls, yet I am idle, for no one gives me work."

"I am a poor lame beggar," said the third man, "who seeks alms from those who pass, as they find it in their hearts to do so, but alms are so few as to be of great concern lest I perish."

"I can see that your trouble is great," consoled the king, "and what would you ask of me?" Then, they spoke as a group, the artisan, the mason, and the beg-gar who was lame: "Your power is very great, our king, and you can make the people see the folly of their ways and aid us in our troubles."

"Perhaps," said the king, "per­haps my power is great, but I must use it wisely or it shall be lost." And he called to the captain of his guard.

"Bring forth three swords," he commanded, "one for each of these men, and instruct them in their use. These three shall go forth in the land and compel those who will not voluntarily deal with them to obey their command."

"No! no!" the three men called out, "this we did not ask. We are men of honor and could not set upon our fellow man to compel him to our will. This we cannot do. It is you, 0 king, who must use the power."

"You ask me to do that which you would not do because of honor?" questioned the king. "Is honor one thing to a beggar and another to a king? I, too, am an honorable man, and that which is dishonorable for you will never be less dishonorable for your king."
From: The Freeman; Ideas on Liberty via American Thinker

February 01, 2010

Facing Ali

There has been a large amount of work dedicated to Mohammed Ali and his career but this documentary looks at the man and the times through the eyes of the fighters that faced him over the course of his amazing and controversial career.

The movie interviews 10 former fighters that were pivotal in Ali’s career; George Chuvalu, Henry Cooper, Ernie Terrell, Joe Frazier, Ron Lyle, Kenny Norton, Ernie Shavers, George Forman, Leon Spinks, and Larry Holmes. The interviews are intertwined with digitally re-mastered archival footage of their fights.

From a historical standpoint the first hour of the film does an excellent job of placing Ali in the social, racial, and economic context of the 1960s. (This half of the film could be a useful source for an Am. History course) However, after his 3 year suspension from boxing and return in 1973 the film shifts into a fight by fight chronicle of his comeback and eventual decline. It was actually a little painful to watch his final fight with Holmes.

The one failure of the film is in my opinion it's lack of emphasis of the the Frazier -Ali rivalry that produced three of the greatest fights of all times and made that era the pinnacle of the sport.

These 10 fighters were products of the depression (except Spinks perhaps) and each used boxing to escape their hardscrabble conditions. As one fighter noted, nobody from the middle class goes into boxing. Each fighter was acutely aware but at the same time grateful that they were allowed to be bit players in the larger drama which was Mohammad Ali. As Ron Lyle succinctly put it, “If it wasn’t for Ali you wouldn’t be here talking to Ron Lyle today.”

To the films credit the intimate focus on these men highlights that they each have their own life stories which are as compelling and in some cases as personally tragic as the man remembered as The Greatest.