The radioactive tanks of Chernobyl

There’s a fascinating article at Firearms News titled “The Radioactive ISU-152“.  It describes how some of the biggest, heaviest tanks of World War II returned to the scene of one of their victories, four decades later, to act as saviors rather than destroyers. The SU/ISU-152 was designed specifically to be a part of both the shock and breakthrough elements of the Soviet Deep Battle doctrine. The KV heavy tank chassis would provide the base for the massive ML-20S, a portable version of the standard 152mm howitzer in service. The gun had a range of 10km for indirect fire but was reduced to less

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Snow, ice, and off-road excursions

Last weekend Miss D. and I drove to a seminar held at a lakeside resort east of Gainesville, TX.  Unfortunately, that coincided with the arrival of a rare snowstorm.  Our normally safe roads were suddenly covered with 2-3 inches of snow, with patches of ice forming beneath the snow, invisible until you hit it. This was US Highway 82 near Gainesville at about 8 AM on Saturday morning.  The photograph looks clearer than conditions actually were, and doesn’t capture the snow falling fairly thickly.  The car was distinctly “twitchy” over the slush in the tire ruts. A drive that normally takes 2 hours took

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A nifty, low-cost camper van conversion

I’ve long wanted a travel trailer or small camper, something Miss D. and I can use for weekend getaways, or even for a week or longer.  However, it’s been financially impossible for us, and looks like it’ll be that way for some time. Nevertheless, I keep my eyes open for good ideas in that area.  I was struck by this article about a low-cost conversion of a 2017 Ram cargo van.  It’s filled with interesting touches and useful ideas, as well as lots of photographs.  Here’s an excerpt. When we bought her, our immediate thought was to hire professionals to build it for us

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Big Brother – vehicle edition

Earlier this month, I pointed out that “If you allow “smart” devices to listen to you non-stop, you’re crazy“.  That article examined the security risks of allowing smart devices into your home, because you had no idea what they were listening to and/or recording. Now comes news that your car is almost certainly spying on you just as hard, if not harder.  Please watch the short video below;  or, if you prefer, read the report about the investigation.  Both are mind-blowing in their implications for our security. It turns out that almost every modern vehicle is recording just about everything it

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Doofus Of The Day #1,058

Today’s award goes to a dumb crook in Kansas. A Kansas man was busted for driving a stolen Chevy SUV to a local jail to bail out his brother — who was being held for driving a stolen Chevy SUV, according to authorities. The sibling already in the pokey, Eric Dean McCracken, 36, had been arrested in Topeka early Friday for allegedly driving a stolen 2007 Trailblazer with a suspended license, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said in a release. A few hours later, his younger brother, Keith Ray McCracken, 32, was also arrested after a short chase with cops tracking

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Ice on your windscreen? Three home-made solutions

Like many of us, Miss D. and I were caught in the big Arctic freeze that blew through last week.  It froze up our car windows, so that before we could drive in the mornings, we had to scrape them clear or use the car’s own defrosting mechanisms to melt the ice. Frustrated, I did a bit of searching, and came up with these three recommendations for an easy, home-made solution to car window icing. I haven’t tried them all yet, but I intend to.  I’m not real sure about the middle one – if the water’s too hot, and the windscreen

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Saturday Snippet: Repairing a capitalist motorcycle in communist Yugoslavia

Tim Severin is almost legendary among modern explorers and historians.  From his college days, he’s specialized in studying an ancient voyage of discovery or some other historical travel narrative, and recreating it using technology of the period and in as practical a way as possible.  In doing so, he’s dispelled many myths, but he’s also proved that many stories thought to be myth and fable were, in fact, firmly grounded in reality.  (Two of the most fascinating are the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and Ulysses’ voyage from Troy to his homeland of Ithaca, both re-enacted aboard a galley built in

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