Hello, vertigo . . .

Dassault mounted fore- and aft-facing cameras in their Rafale strike fighter jet for its display flight at the Paris Air Show last week.  The resulting footage gives a very different perspective on the usual airshow antics of such high-performance aircraft.  Embedding is disabled, but you can watch the video here. I don’t know how many g’s he was pulling, but that’s certainly vertigo-inducing to a novice like me! Peter

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Vietnam – gunfire in the night

In April 1970 James Hensinger took a series of photographs showing US troops engaging snipers on a hillside near Phu Tai in Vietnam at night.  He took them with a Nikon camera, resting it on the sandbags around his guard tower and using time-exposures, triggering the shutter with a cable release.  He sent the unprocessed film home, and didn’t know what he’d managed to capture until he got home after his tour of duty and developed it. The Guardian has now published a series of his photographs.  They’re remarkably clear, lit by the gunfire and flames of the engagement.  Here’s

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Upward mobility and the Nanny State

George Will has penned a remarkable opinion piece in the Washington Post, in which he postulates (in so many words) that the diminishing opportunities for upward mobility in US society are also diminishing the possibilities for limited government.  In other words, the less potential for upward mobility in society, the greater the demands for ‘Big Brother’ to redistribute rewards downwards in society.  Here are a few excerpts. …expanding equality of opportunity increases inequality because some people are simply better able than others to exploit opportunities. . . . Lindsey cited research showing that “by the time they reach age 3,

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NeverWet is here at last!

Back in November 2011 I reported on a new hydrophobic treatment called NeverWet, designed to not just waterproof anything, but make it actually repel water and moisture.  It’s about to hit the market at last.  Here’s a promotional video.  (No, they’re not paying me to post it – I just think this is a darned good idea!) I particularly liked the cardboard box beer cooler.  I’m going to be standing in line to buy this stuff.  If it works as well as advertised, it’ll be a smash hit! Peter

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In praise of Ka-Bar knives

I’ve used blades in the military and as a civilian in Africa for many years.  Since coming to this country I’ve not needed to use them as hard or treat them as badly as I did in Africa, but a good blade still forms part of my everyday carry gear.  One that I learned to respect was the US Marine Corps fighting knife known universally as the Ka-Bar.  I saw my first one in 1976, in the South African armed forces, in the hands of a former US Marine who’d come to that country after serving in Vietnam because he

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Misogyny in the US Armed Forces

There have been far too many reported incidents of misogyny, discrimination and outright abuse of women in the US armed forces.  The most recent, reported yesterday, involves three midshipmen at the US Naval Academy. In that light, I can only urge the top brass to follow the example of Lieutenant-General David Morrison, Chief of the Australian Army.  He pulled no punches in a recent televised message to everyone under his command.  As Salon reported: In a video released Wednesday, a clenched-jawed, simmeringly furious Morrison says, “Those who think that it is OK to behave in a way that demeans or

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Doofus Of The Day #709

Today’s award goes to a bakery worker in Zionsville, Indiana. A Zionsville mom wanted a local bakery to draw a graduation cap on the picture of her daughter on the cake, but the worker taking the order heard something different. . . . When Gambrel picked up the cake for her Indiana University graduate daughter Laura, instead of a mortarboard style cap, they had iced in a cat. Gambrel says the Marsh bakery offered to fix the mistake, and even gave her a plastic cap to cover the cat. It turns out everyone liked the cat picture better anyway. There’s

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Of mice and Star Wars

I’m sure most readers have heard that Disney acquired Lucasfilm last year, and plans to make a sequel trilogy of ‘Star Wars’ films.  One of my readers sent me this cartoon today, which made me laugh out loud. I don’t know who drew it, or where it was first published;  but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Peter

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A hair-raising invention?

I’m hugely amused at the brouhaha over ‘hairy stockings’.  They were first revealed by a Chinese Web site, and have attracted horrified, sardonic and sarcastic comment all over the world. I particularly enjoyed the Telegraph’s perspective.  Here’s an excerpt. Perhaps their primary function is to put off the more unenlightened members of the male sex, who will be so repulsed by the sight of a nubile young girl with gorilla pins that they will forget to assault her, but maybe the truth is more subtle than that. In fact what will happen is that all those nice, feminist men who

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Mercury as you’ve never seen it before!

The MESSENGER mission to Mercury has released this fascinating false-color image of the planet.  I’ve reduced it in size to fit here, but the full-size image makes great wallpaper for your computer screen (I’m using it for that purpose right now). The mission’s Web site reports: This colorful view of Mercury was produced by using images from the color base map imaging campaign during MESSENGER’s primary mission. These colors are not what Mercury would look like to the human eye, but rather the colors enhance the chemical, mineralogical, and physical differences between the rocks that make up Mercury’s surface. Young

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