06.29.06

Wow!

Posted in Aircraft & Flying, Military at 3:36 pm by Administrator

Two weekends ago, I saw the coolest thing I’ll probably see all Summer. The Peru airport had it’s annual airshow (which you may have seen on the news). As part of the show, the U.S. Air Force did a flyover with a B-2 Spirit bomber. I have seen that aircraft in countless movies as well as the mockup in Dayton, Ohio; but nothing prepared me for seeing it flying “in the flesh”. The plane made several very low passes before it flew away. I can’t think of a better Air Force recruitment technique.

After starting with something like that, the rest of the airshow seemed somewhat dull.

Kudos to capitalist_pig who managed to wake up in time to snap a few pictures of the flyover:

B-2 Spirit B-2 Spirit B-2 Spirit

Some facts about the B-2:

  • At $2.2 billion each, these aircraft cost nearly twice their weight in gold (and are worth every penny).
  • The aircraft can carry 80 500lb bombs or 36 750 lb bombs or 16 2000lb bombs or 16 nuclear weapons.
  • The B-2 can hit targets anywhere in the world with one refueling.
  • Did I mention it’s nearly invisible to enemy radar?

Imagine sitting in Moscow in 1988 knowing your enemy had something like this. (I don’t think they had Depends in Russia back then either.)

Her name is Bambi?

Posted in Entomology at 1:56 pm by Administrator

Anyone have any idea what kind of insect this is?

Big Ugly Bug

My brother told me to come outside and look at a bug on the shed. I didn’t count on being able to see it from house (fifty feet away). The thing was over four and a half inches long!

UPDATE: The insect was a male Dobsonfly. They spend most of their lives in the larvae stage. The larvae, called Hellgrammites, live in the water for a couple years eating aquatic insects. Then they crawl out of the water, pupate, fly around for a few days as an adult, mate, and die. 

A website said the Dobsonfly is sought after by collectors and photographers because it’s short adult life makes it difficult to find. I guess I should feel lucky. I’m just glad it didn’t fly into my face.

06.08.06

And another one gone…

Posted in Humor, Politics, World at 8:08 pm by Administrator

IRAQ_AL_ZARQAWI.jpg 

Early this morning the U.S. Military, acting on a tip from an informant, reduced the current final hiding place of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi to very small pieces; thereby sparing us a new set of prison underwear shots. Seriously though, I’m glad they’re learning. Capturing Saddam alive was one of the biggest mistakes of the Iraq occupation. A 500lb bomb provides a certain immediate sense of closure that’s impossible with a long trial.

Someone has already set the bombing video to music. You can download it here. (Save to your own computer for best viewing.)

The Al-Zarqawi death photo reminds me of some other photos released by the military a while back. Remember these?

06.02.06

For the Man Who Has Everything

Posted in Guns & Weapons at 3:03 am by Administrator

With the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban a fading memory, development in the field of of high capacity magazines is now fully underway. One of the more esoteric yet amusing results is the 100 rd. Beta C-MAG for 9mm Glock pistols.

Glock machine pistol with a Beta C-MAG

It’s large size and weight make it completely useless for most pistol applications. It will, however, make a fun (if not practical) accessory for those with full-auto Glocks. The main problem with the Glock machine pistol is that it takes about a second to empty a standard magazine on full-auto. With the Beta C-MAG, you get a full 5 seconds of glory before a long reload.

The cops will love it - even more rounds to miss with. I wouldn’t worry about it being very popular with the gangbangers though. The low center of gravity makes holding it sideways somewhat tiring.

ArmamentSales.com has a movie of a the Glock Beta C-MAG being used at Knob Creek. (The video says the host gun is a Glock 18; but it’s obviously a semi-auto Glock with a conversion device like the one above.)

05.30.06

Lightning Shots

Posted in Weather, Photography at 3:28 am by Administrator

Tonight’s thunderstorms gave me a chance to try some more lightning photography. Here are a few of the results:

lightning bolt with billboard

This one was an eight second exposure at f/4.  

Here’s another:

Another Lightning Photo

This is an eight second exposure at f/2.5. It was taken through my windshield in the rain with the wipers going.  Notice the speckle of “hot pixels” on this one that isn’t present on the first one. I think it’s due to the lower f-number; but I’m still not exactly sure why. It could be my ancient camera. I’ll use a higher f-number from now on.

Finally:

Lightning and power lines

This was a five second exposure at f/4. It might have been one of my best shots if I hadn’t bumped the camera and blurred the power lines. (I didn’t crop this one. That’s actually how close it was!)

05.25.06

DVDs and DaVinci

Posted in Movies & TV at 11:50 pm by Administrator

What do you think when you read the following headline?

Pirates promise improved version of DaVinci Code next month(link may be slashdotted)

I know what I thought: “Maybe some film pirates have reedited the DaVinci Code movie to make it less boring”. I was disappointed of course. The story is actually about the poor quality of pirated DaVinci Code DVDs being sold in shops and on street corners in Shanghai; not about the soporific nature of the movie itself. Too bad.

P.S. Try National Treasure for a less pretentious version of the same basic plot. It’s about the same mix or historical fact and fantasy. It’s more exciting too.

Guilty

Posted in Money & Finance at 3:59 pm by Administrator

Monopoly Go To Jail Chance Card

Former Enron bigwigs Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling have just been found guilty of, among other things, terminal stupidity in not fleeing to Argentina when they had the chance. Now, they will probably spend the rest of their lives in Federal PMITA Prison. I don’t feel sorry for them.

Seriously though, did they actually think they would be able to beat this? They won’t be able to pull a Martha Stewart and come out even stronger. Thousands of people lost their pensions and life savings. (Diversify. Diversify.)

The long term ramifications should be interesting. Since Enron’s collapse, new laws have been passed that increase accounting transparency in publicly held companies. This trial definitely sends the message that high level executives will be held accountable for book-keeping fraud. I suppose it’s a responsibility that goes with those huge salaries.

Ultimately, I suspect, these changes will make the end result of this mess a positive. The more investors know about a company’s books, the better decisions they can make. In a way, the Enron debacle made the market a little more efficient.

05.24.06

Extravagance

Posted in Money & Finance at 5:55 pm by Administrator

A few days ago I got my 2005 Annual Report for Ameristar Casinos Inc. (Nasdaq ASCA), of which I own a small amount of stock. The report is a huge, glossy magazine measuring twenty-two inches by thirteen inches. It came in a triangular cardboard box, and cost $7.20 to ship to me.

The report is handsome to be sure (and it quotes Frank Lloyd Wright). Still, it had the opposite effect on me than was intended. Reports such as this one should encourage investment in the company. But why would I want to invest in a company that spends its capital (my investment) on lavish annual reports? They should be spending it on more slot machines.

I have no problem with expensive advertising campaigns. My problem with this one is that it does not target customers. It targets investors. Investor interest may boost the stock price; but it will not add real value to the company. Although I haven’t decided whether I will keep the stock, this does not encourage me.

Ameristar Casinos Annual Report

Ameristar Casinos Inc. 2005 Annual Report

05.19.06

Machine Pistol on 24

Posted in Movies & TV, Guns & Weapons at 2:52 am by Administrator

24 Glock machine pistol shot #6

The past few episodes of 24 have been rather boring to the core with hardly any death, no torture, and no Kim Bauer uneventful. One of the few redeeming qualities of Monday’s episode was that one of the badguys was armed with a machine pistol. (Finally, something original this hour.) Being slightly fanatical about firearms in general and machine pistols in particular, I was determined to identify exactly which model the baddy used. I even took some screenshots to aid in my investigation. (Yes, I have too much free time.)

It’s apparent from the screenshots that the weapon is a Glock handgun with a stainless steel slide and an extended magazine. From here on it gets a little tricky. 

The left side of the pistol is not visible, so I can’t be sure it is not a Glock 18 (the factory full-auto version of the Glock 17). There does, however, appear to be a protrusion on the backplate of the slide - possibly a selector switch. If so, it would mean the pistol is a factory semiautomatic Glock variant that has been converted to full auto with a drop-in conversion device. The pistol is probably a nine millimeter, which means a Glock 17 or maybe a 19. It looks like a G17 to me but I can’t tell for sure from these pictures. A 17 would be slightly more controllable on full-auto so I’m guessing that’s what it is.

There you have it. It’s a converted Glock 17 with a stainless slide and an extended mag. Anyone else notice anything I missed?

24 Glock machine pistol shot #1 24 Glock machine pistol shot #2 24 Glock machine pistol shot #3

24 Glock machine pistol shot #4 24 Glock machine pistol shot #5 24 Machine Pistol shot #7

05.18.06

Wright Stamps

Posted in General, Art & Drama, Architecture at 9:59 pm by Administrator

Frank LLoyd Wright stamps

I got my 1966 Frank Lloyd Wright stamps today. They came in a sheet of 100 and only cost me 1000% of face value! Not quite as colorful as the Ayn Rand stamps, but I think they’ll work. Notice the Guggenheim Museum in the background.

I still wish the post office would come out with a Frank Lloyd Wright Houses set.

Detail of Frank Lloyd Wright stamp 

Click for detail image.

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