Demonizing gun-owners: what to expect, and what to do

The gun control legislation being put forward by the new Democratic-dominated government of Virginia echoes and extends measures already implemented in other anti-gun and anti-Second-Amendment entities such as California, the city of Washington D.C., and many other jurisdictions.  Their common feature is that they seek to demonize gun owners, in so many words, as threats to public safety and security simply because they dare to own – much less use – firearms.  This even includes disparaging their mental health. Those of us living in firearm-friendly jurisdictions have probably not given much thought to how our lives may change if such measures come to our

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

Heh

Found at Wirecutter’s place: I’d say many of the former military servicemen I’ve met – particularly former Navy personnel – are poster children for the first group.  I can still remember the retired Chief Petty Officer who informed me (very loudly) that coffee wasn’t coffee unless you could stand your teaspoon upright in it, without support.  Also, it had to be as strong and as bitter as possible, “like me!”  As for milk, sugar and that other stuff . . . the less said, the better! It does help one understand why so few millennials, comparatively speaking, will consider military service. 

Continue reading

The Panama Canal, faster than usual

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, here’s a time-lapse video of a passage through the Panama Canal.  The trip lasts 11 hours, but the video takes less than 7 minutes – much more palatable in our high-speed world!  Note the “locomotives” on either side of the ship, hauling it through the locks.  They’re partly visible from time to time, as in the video ‘cover image’ below, on the right of the ship’s bow. The digging of the Panama Canal remains one of the great adventure stories of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  It advanced not only navigation, but also medicine,

Continue reading

Sunday morning music

This morning’s post is by way of a eulogy for Neil Peart, late drummer and lyricist for Canadian rock band Rush.  He died of brain cancer a few days ago. It’s almost impossible to praise too highly Peart’s contribution to rock music, and the role of percussion instruments in that genre.  He won no less than 38 awards from Modern Drummer magazine.  He won the “Best Rock Drummer” award every year from 1980-1986, and had to be taken off the nominee list and given his own emeritus mention, just so that others could have a chance at the title!  In his obituary, the magazine

Continue reading

Saturday Snippet: Debugging the Oak Ridge nuclear plant

During World War II, Richard Feynman, then a very newly-graduated physicist, was sent from Los Alamos, New Mexico (the heart of the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bomb) to Oak Ridge in Tennessee, where the nuclear material for the bomb was to be enriched.  He was tasked with making sure that the factory there would actually work, and that its design was technically and scientifically acceptable.  Needless to say, as a relative novice, he was more than a little unsure of his ground. In his book “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” he describes what happened.        I sat down

Continue reading

Heh

Shamelessly borrowed from Chief Nose Wetter: I suppose he could use Limburger cheese, but that might be classified as an illegal biological weapon . . . Peter

Continue reading

“What would happen in an apocalyptic blackout

That’s the question asked by the BBC in a very interesting analysis of how dependent we are on electricity for our very survival in urban areas.  It looks at Venezuela’s real-life experience of prolonged blackouts, and extrapolates from that to the situation in most major cities.  Here’s an excerpt to show you the scale of the problem. In our modern world, almost everything, from our financial systems to our communication networks, are utterly reliant upon electricity. Other critical infrastructure like water supplies and our sewer systems rely upon electric powered pumps to keep them running. With no power, fuel pumps at petrol

Continue reading

Boeing’s answer to the 737 Max problems: more automation?

In all the hype about the problems surrounding Boeing’s 737 Max airliner, particularly the two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia, I couldn’t help noticing one thing.  Airlines and pilots in First World countries appear to have had few similar problems with the aircraft.  It’s those in Third World countries that did – and not all of them, either.  The Lion Air 737 Max that crashed had experienced control problems just the day before the accident – but a third pilot on board, who knew what he was doing, told the flight crew what to do (as was pointed out in the aircraft manual), and the problem

Continue reading

After the “Arab Spring”, a Middle East in turmoil

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has released a comprehensive analysis of the “state of play” a decade after the Arab Spring revolutions and uprisings across the Middle East.  It makes sobering reading – and illustrates the vacuum within which terror groups like ISIS and rogue states like Iran are operating, and why they could (and still do) literally get away with murder. The analysis summarizes its findings in five main points.  Bold, underlined text is my emphasis. Today, the Middle East is a combination of confused Arab nation-states that have shown their weakness and incapacity to contain the Iranian threat. The

Continue reading