Archive | March, 2010

>Got Power? Storm Season’s Coming

31 Mar

>Having made it through another Winter without an extended power outage – I grew up in the country, where this is noteworthy — I still find myself thinking of emergency power.

You can pick up a little gas*-engine genset for not much, depending on how ambitious you are; if you want to run the air-conditioner and dryer, that’ll cost more, ditto handy features like autostart and a transfer switch. They run. They’re noisy and it’s a lousy idea to refuel ’em while they’re running.

Or you can go old school. Ever hear of a Lister Cold-Start Diesel engine? Me neither, not until a reader sent me a marvelously gadgetary link. Upshot: it’s a 1929 design, slow-revving and well-suited to stationary applications. Well-executed examples have very long service life and, once you’ve chased the bugs out, they just run and run.

Downside? Well, the weight-to-horsepower ratio is shockingly bad. And if you’re going to assemble one from a barebones engine and generator, it is a learning process. But as one Floridian found it, it pays off, and in far more than simply electricity when the hurricanes howl. Read. Enjoy. Admire!

Semi-related, the alcohol-burning desk fan:


Can’t afford. But do want.

* Petrol, that is. You can get LP/NG versions, nifty fixed thingies that live outdoors in an unobtrusive metal housing — but will the heating-gas be on when you need it?


>Would You Think It Odd

30 Mar

>…If I linked to someone else’s drawers? Srsly, gotta see. Even if I like the spinning ones better.

>The Media’s Eye Chart

30 Mar

>…Look, if ijits are fixin’ to kill a cop and then blow up attendees at his funeral, that’s a Problem, a Crime; but the kind of bigtime coverage I am seein’ over a poorly-baked scheme that was nipped in the bud and is bein’ widely condemned even by other camo-clad campers is a bit olber* the top — unless you’ve seen The Modern Reporter’s Eye Chart:Clears that right up, dunnit?

(Lawnorder take on the whole thing from Sebastian, here. Put me down in the “you do not blow up people who aren’t initiating force against you” column. Ya wanna be the good guy? Then you don’t get to throw the first punch and you most certainly do not target innocents — and there is a level on which J. Average LEO, expecting only ordinary crime, misjudgment and malfeasance, is as innocent as a lamb).
* Similar to “over the top” but now with 99% more frothing-at-the-mouthness!

>"Militia" Arrests In Midwest

29 Mar

>Funny, the lamestream media ran the story right after talking about Sarah Palin and the Tea Party Express — no subtext there, right?

A wire service reports a whopping three (3!) arrests. Some “militia!” There are hints of “gun charges,” whatever that might mean. The ever-reliable Telegraph(UK) shows a pic of a guy in a dark uniform with a slung AR-15ish-looking rifle — no, wait, that’s a Michigan State Trooper. Looks like someone in Chicago got nipped, too.

Media-noise aside, the targeted individuals appear to be members of a Christian militia called “Hutaree” and it appears that when they rang up the Southeast Michigan Volunteer Militia to share the news, the reply was along the general lines of “and you are…?” SMVM has their own news release posted on their top page, which may point to a little more info than the LSM is sharin’; looks like there may be more who-why-how forthcoming later today, likely elsewhere.

I predict scare headlines on the front pages — and the real story, if it shows up at all, buried in the back pages. Somebody got ’em a full-auto without touchin’ all the bases? Someone made threats? Dunno; we’ll find out, though it may take diggin’.

Let me just say that I disapprove of threats. It’s not good tactics.

Seems like old times. Canaries, coal mines, overreaction and shiny, shiny jackboots; funny, he don’t look like Mr. Clinton.

>What Lunatic Puts A Stellar Observatory Underground?

29 Mar

>Tycho Brahe, that’s who. On his own private island, no less.

>Infernal Devices, A Novel Neglected

29 Mar

>K. W. Jeter’s Infernal Devices may be the first intentionally steampunk novel. (Update: in style and tone, I mean; the word had yet to be coined). Chock full of bizarre clockwork innovation, with a hero who understands it all scarcely better than you, it’s more romp than adventure. I don’t know why it isn’t mentioned more often. Came along too early? Published in the dim, dark days of ’87, when celphones were as big as your shoe and your shoes probably cost under $100.00 — American.

For real-life steampunk, two different sources have recently recommended Michael Busby’s Solving the 1897 Airship Mystery; several other books address the same topic and the consensus seems to be there is something to it.

H’mm, Tam’s even got a handy Amazon link for such things….

>Is It Weirdsday Already?

28 Mar

>First, I stumble across a fellow who may have flown a heavier-than-air vehicle prior to — though less controllably — than the Wrights. In a twist right out of a Gothic novel, there’s even a secret contract between Wright descendants and the Smithsonian, promising that institution will never accord others credit for the first flight!*

After that, my wander took a turn for the strange; in the late 1800s, the American West and Midwest saw a series of airship sightings, at a time when nobody was — openly! — in the airship business. It is widely reported in Ufologist publications but rarely gets more than cursory coverage, as it doesn’t quite fit; the vehicles are cigar-shaped, for one thing, and the technology described is (in most cases) very much of the time.

Enter the notebooks of Charles August Albert Dellschau, self-proclaimed draughtsman of the Sonora Aero Club. Found in a town dump in Texas and drawn and painted in an exuberant “outsider” style, they seem to chronicle his involvement decades before with a reclusive group of early airship pioneers in Sonora, California. Of course, there’s not a shred of evidence for it outside his books….that is, none if you don’t count the reported sightings. Of course there’s a book out now. Merely a little Fun With History? Time-blurred recollections of actual events? Harmless lunacy? Hey, I just link to it. Kinda reminds me of my own Hidden Frontier.

Which reminds me, there’ll be an update soon at I Work On A Starship.
* In fairness to both parties, the contract appears intended to address the museum’s shameful partisanship for Professor Langley over the Wright Brothers, even after they had succeeded while he failed. And I should point out the Wright Brothers well-established primacy in the understanding and implementation of controlled flight, from just-barely in the original Flyer to their later designs, moderns constructions of which are highly flyable. Their (early) competitors either lack or have only rudimentary control surfaces and linkages to allow the pilot to move them; after Kitty Hawk, word got ’round: suddenly everyone had learnt how to do things…the Wright way.