That’s a major “Oops!”

Norwegian rally driver Petter Solberg and his co-driver Chris Patterson had a narrow escape during the recent Rallye de France 2012.  Here are three video clips of the incident, first from the point of view of the spectators;  second, from a helicopter;  and finally, from inside the car. I hope he bought a few lottery tickets after that, while his luck was still running hot!  I wonder what the vineyard owner had to say about his vanquished vines? Peter

Continue reading

One heck of an engine

In the history of aviation there are certain engines that seem to hit a ‘sweet spot’ in the engineering and aeronautical development life cycle.  In Europe the famous French Gnome-Rhone range dominated the First World War, and the Rolls-Royce Merlin powered many of the most famous aircraft (both British and American) of World War II.  In the USA, the Liberty L-12 engine of 1917 went on to lasting fame, as did the Pratt & Whitney Wasp series and the Wright Cyclone series during and after World War II. In the era of jet engines, few have lasted as long, or

Continue reading

The British tax system is as screwed-up as our own

We’ve known for a long time that the US tax system is dysfunctional to the point that no-one (not even the IRS) can fully understand it.  Calls for a simpler, easier-to-understand tax system have been made for years, but special interests continue to agitate against it for their own selfish reasons.  (Most State tax systems are just as bad – see, for example, this bit of convoluted Wisconsin law.) Now the Telegraph reports that Britain’s tax system is just as bad. France’s tyrannical Sun King knew how to pick his finance ministers. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s most infamous right-hand man,

Continue reading

Still cruddy . . .

. . . but fighting it off as best I can.  Had a quiet day today, which helped.  The new fridge will be delivered tomorrow morning, if the prearranged schedule is anything to go by;  and once it’s in place, I plan to go to bed for the rest of the day.  (It should be interesting getting it in:  it’s 32½” deep without the door handles, and the doorway to the kitchen is 32″ exactly.  I think we may have to take the doors off the fridge to get it through.) Light posting tonight, but I’ll try to put up

Continue reading

All eyes on Sandy

Having been through several hurricanes in Louisiana, I’m well aware of how nasty things must be in the North-East right now.  Hurricanes down south tend to occur during warmer weather, but at this time of year, those affected by Sandy are having to cope with power outages during near-freezing temperatures.  Not fun . . . There have been some remarkable photographs coming out of Sandy so far.  The US Coast Guard put this one on Twitter, showing a replica of HMS Bounty sinking off North Carolina. The Wind Map (which we visited back in April) has this fascinating image showing

Continue reading

Fighting off the crud

Last night I had a sore throat, and by this morning it had developed into a full-blown case of the crud.  I’m really not feeling at my best tonight, so blogging will be light.  Look for more posts tomorrow morning. To keep you happy in the meantime, here’s the latest Simon’s Cat video. Peter

Continue reading

Fridge-shopping

The old fridge we’ve used since moving here is on the verge of final collapse.  It’s leaking water into the fridge compartment from the freezer and ice-maker, and even cutting off the water supply to the latter hasn’t cured the problem.  This morning, when I opened the door, my sleepy tootsies were baptized in ice-cold water, which caused me to remember a few relatively expressive words I thought I’d forgotten.  I called a serviceman, but he recommended that I not call him out, because it’d cost me $150 up front, without parts, and given my description of the problem, he

Continue reading

Could this be described as a ‘grave’ error?

Courtesy of Australian reader Snoggeramus, we learn of an interesting . . . er . . . facility in the town of Millaa Millaa, Queensland.  The Courier Mail reports: IT’S the loo that is taking the term toilet humour to a whole new level – and it has Millaa Millaa residents in a spin. After being told by council it would cost more than $80,000 to build a toilet at the local cemetery, the Chamber of Commerce group decided to take issues into their own hands and build their own – in the shape of a coffin. “You have to

Continue reading

When would-be apprentices can’t do basic math

I hadn’t realized how deeply the rot had set into the British education system until I read this report in the Telegraph. Williams F1 is “frustrated” over the state of education in Britain today after the majority of school leavers applying for its apprenticeship scheme this year failed a basic maths test. . . . Of the 250 applications for its apprenticeship scheme this year, 45 were invited to an open day and 16 made it through to the tests round. Just six young people passed, with 10 failing to get more than half the answers right – a failure

Continue reading