I’d like to ride this train.

Here’s an experimental Japanese mag-lev train.  Its indicated maximum speed of 504 kilometers per hour translates to 315 mph – and all without vibration or even much noise, thanks to the ‘contactless’ mag-lev system. I’d love to go for a ride on that one.  Looks more like an airliner inside than a train! Peter

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No wonder this food is tough . . .

I couldn’t help laughing at this report from Denmark, even though it’s rather nauseating. National authorities have shut down a company that produced food for nursing homes and hospitals in a cement mixer. The Danish Food and Veterinary Administration (Fødevarestyrelsen) discovered that the food company Nordic Ingredients violated hygiene rules by producing gelled foods in a cement mixer. The food was delivered to public nursing homes and to hospital patients who have difficulty swallowing whole food. A Food and Veterinary Administration official said that in addition to producing food in a cement mixer, the hygiene levels at the company’s production

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That’s not a yawn!

I was both amused and irritated to see this photograph in a gallery of animal images at the Telegraph.  (Click it for a larger view.) The caption read:  ” A hippo yawns in Chobe National Park in Mozambique”.  Unfortunately, it’s not correct.  For a start, Chobe’s in Botswana, not Mozambique – but then, what’s a thousand-mile error between friends?  Secondly, and more seriously, that’s not a yawn.  That’s a threat display.  The hippo is showing its fighting tusks, ivory ‘teeth’ that can tear great chunks out of a rival hippo, or dismember a crocodile . . . or rip you

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Firearms and forensic investigation

A correspondent asked me today what clues police can find in a firearm or bullets that may have been used in a crime.  (She’s also a writer, and needs the information for her current work in progress.)  I promised I’d write about the subject here on the blog, for her benefit and for other authors who might be interested. First, there’s the traces left by anyone handling the firearm.  If it was recently cleaned, it may have cleaning fluid and/or lubricant residue left in nooks and crannies.  If these match such products in the home or workshop of the suspect,

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Are airless tires about to go mainstream?

Back in 2009 I wrote about ‘The search for the ultimate military tire‘, in which I reported on an airless tire being developed by a Wisconsin firm.  Now Michelin’s built an entire plant to produce their incarnation of this idea.  The Telegraph reports: Michelin has opened a new facility in South Carolina, USA, to produce its Tweel airless tyre. Conceived by Michelin research engineers in the US, the Tweel is a non-pneumatic radial tyre that brings together the tyre and wheel assembly in one solid unit. (Image courtesy of Michelin) It comprises a rigid hub connected to a shear beam

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Remember to put down the glass

I hope all of you had a happy and blessed Thanksgiving.  Miss D. and I certainly did. Today is ‘Black Friday’, and many people will be frantically shopping as if there’s no tomorrow.  I hope most of my readers won’t be among them.  This is supposed to be a season for thanksgiving, for relaxation with family and friends.  I loathe the way it’s become commercialized to the point of being almost unrecognizable – rather like Christmas, unfortunately.  (I dread the thought that the same thing may happen to Easter one day.) I’m grateful to fellow blogger agg79 for sharing this

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How to cure a fear of water

The Telegraph reports: Anna Paterek took her horse, Magic, to a river with the hope of curing his fear of water. At first she tried to ride him into the river, but Magic was very cautious. So Anna got off and walked him into the river herself to show it was safe. What happened next Anna described as “the best thing ever”. There’s more at the link.  Here’s how it went. Looks like a splashing good time was had by all! Peter

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Thanksgiving 2014

I’m thankful for so many things. The merciful God in whom I believe. My wife, Miss D., without whom my world would be a much darker, lonelier, colder place. My friends, who help keep me sane. All of you, my readers, who come back here so often and encourage me to keep on writing, both here on the blog and in my books. Despite the vicissitudes of our political system, we still have a United States for which to be thankful.  Let’s do all we can to make it an even better one during the coming year! I’ll leave the

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Why eyewitness testimony alone is unreliable

It’s long been known that so-called ‘eyewitness’ testimony, unsupported by other evidence, can be dangerously inaccurate.  It can lead to convictions that put people behind bars – or even on Death Row – only to see them exonerated years later through DNA testing or fresh evidence. The shooting of Michael Brown provides a quintessential case study of the problem. Some witnesses said Michael Brown had been shot in the back. Another said he was lying face-down when Officer Darren Wilson finished him off. Still others acknowledged changing their stories to fit published details about the autopsy, or admitted that they

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Entitlement reform: it seems I’m not alone

Back in September I wrote an article titled “Entitlement reform: an attitude problem?”  I went into detail about the wrong attitudes prevalent in the area, and made this suggestion. Do you want meaningful entitlement?  Here’s one way to do it.  I’d dismantle the entire welfare and entitlement system, including unemployment benefits and Social Security, but excluding medical insurance (although that needs reform too).  In its place I’d offer every citizen of the USA (not non-citizens, please note!) a flat sum of money every year.  It would be enough to live at a basic level, without much in the way of

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