Waxing enthusiastic?

I’ve always thought of ear wax as something one didn’t mention in polite society.  It seems I was wrong – at least, as far as whales are concerned. Whale earwax forms like yours does: A gland secretes oily gunk into the ear canal, which hardens and accumulates into a solid, tapering plug. In the largest whales, like blues, a plug can grow up to 10 inches long, and looks like a cross between a goat’s horn and the world’s nastiest candle. Fin whale wax is firmer than blue whale wax, bowhead whale wax is softer and almost liquid, and sei whale wax is

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Boys and their highly explosive toys

The Aviationist brings us this video of weapons tests at China Lake. Located in California’s Mojave Desert, China Lake is home to NAVAIR’s Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD).NAWCWD is responsible for supporting NAVAIR programs by:Among the services NAWCWD provides, there is also Missiles and Free-Fall Weapons Research and Development. This means that China Lake develops explosives and propellants, and conducts basic and applied research in science and technology of weaponry.Weapon systems regularly developed at China Lake include Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM), High-Speed Antiradiation Missile (HARM), Hellfire, Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW), Penguin, Phoenix, Sidewinder, Sea Sparrow, Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM), SLAM-ER, StandardMissile, Tomahawk and Vertical

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A novel hi-tech “display” that’s almost a new art form

I don’t have a very visual imagination.  I’m good with words, but I can’t paint or draw to save my life, and while I enjoy and appreciate some painting styles and schools (landscapes, some portraits, etc.), I don’t like most modern alleged “art” at all.  However, some modern forms of visual expression are so novel that they catch my eye, and my imagination – including this one. When art and function meet technology, you can bank on the product looking something a little like magic.After years of dodging reinvention, the humble clay brick has met its 2018 match, with New York

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Slings and slingshots can be a lot more dangerous than I thought

I used to play with slingshots as a kid.  In those days, we made our own out of Y-shaped branches we picked up among the trees on Table Mountain, and used strips of old bicycle inner tube (or, on one memorable occasion, my mother’s entire stock of elastic for clothing – she was not amused!) to make the sling.  They could launch acorns, or small pebbles, or nuts from my father’s old-nuts-and-bolts jar, out to 20 or 30 yards.  I never hunted with them, but plenty of other youngsters did (including a younger Lawdog, with hilarious results). I hadn’t realized that slingshots have

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Storms, and a bleg

Pitsnipes Gripes (warning:  site content is sometimes NSFW) has  afascinating post containing GIF (i.e. animated) photographic sequences of storms.  Here’s one to whet your appetite. There are many more at the link.  Recommended viewing. Click on each image for a larger view.Also, I need to ask a favor of my readers.  My “Cochrane’s Company” trilogy is now fully published, with the first book coming out in May, the second in June, and the final volume earlier this month. As I write these words, the review count is as follows: Volume 1, “The Stones of Silence” – 64 reader reviewsVolume 2, “An Airless

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A vintage Glock, no less!

I’m not a collector of older firearms for the sake of their age or antiquity.  My guns are shooters, plain and simple.  Nevertheless, I was surprised this morning when I dropped into my local gun shop, to inquire about a firearm I’ve got on back-order with them. The owner noticed I was wearing an older model Glock 17 on my hip, and asked to look at it.  When I handed it over, he did a double-take, and pointed out that I had a first-generation Glock.  It was manufactured sometime in the mid-1980’s, and must have been one of the very

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That’s a heck of a ride!

Hawaiian surfer Koa Smith was in just the right place at exactly the right time to ride the wave of his life – and the whole thing was caught on video from two unique angles. Perched precariously on his surfboard, the 23-year-old from Hawaii rode a wave off the coast of Namibia, on the western shore of Africa, for 120 straight seconds. He stayed upright for nearly a mile (1.6 kilometers) as he traveled through an unheard-of eight barrels – the hollow formed by the curve of the wave as it breaks over the rider’s head. Almost as amazing, Smith and videographer

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Boys and their (highly explosive) toys

Ever wanted to blow up a toilet?  Well, that idea – as well as blowing up several other things – occurred to two British filmmakers who run the “Slow Mo Guys” channel on YouTube:  and thanks to a link at Daddy Warpig’s place, here it is in glorious Technicolor.  Watch the volume on your speakers – the speech is often quiet, but the bangs are a lot louder! That’s the most thoroughly destroyed toilet I’ve ever seen.  Even the after-effects of a Texas chili contest wouldn’t be that devastating! Peter

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One sees why they design submarines with that shape

Courtesy of Daily Timewaster, we find this beautiful picture of an orca (killer whale)cutting through the water.  Note how the liquid flows around its smooth, streamlined body.  Click the image for a larger view. One begins to understand why modern submarine hulls are similarly streamlined. That’s a great photograph. I’d love to know how it was taken: from what sort of platform, how far away, and so on. Peter

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