This week we feature yet another De Havilland aircraft, the DH-4.
I saw a plane very similar to this one, the Boeing 40B-2, at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry last week. The exhibit was accompanied by the following letter from Leonard B. Hyde-Pearson, an airmail pilot who died in a plane crash in a De Havilland mail plane on March 7, 1924:
"To Be Opened Only After My Death:
Capt. Leonard Brooke Hyde-Pearson, USAMS
"My Beloved Brother Pilots and Pals"
I go west, but with cheerful heart.
I hope whatever small sacrifice I have made
May be of some use to the cause.
When we fly we are fools, they say.
When we are dead, weren't half-bad fellows.
But everyone in this wonderful aviation service
Is doing the world far more good than the public can appreciate.
We risk our necks; we give our lives;
We perfect a service for the benefit of the world at large.
They, mind you, are the ones who call us fools.
But stick to it, boys. I'm still very much with you all.
See you all again.
It's always risky to open a new frontier. The next time you buckle into a commercial jetliner, remember these words of Captain Hyde-Pearson, since you owe safe, routine, air travel in large part to pioneers like him.
A threat to President Bush? An endorsement of Senator Kerry?
Update: Looks like Rusty had a similar idea.
Well, I see from last week's results that the "soft" Leia in a metal bikini made just as strong an impression on my fellow geeks as she did on me. She claimed 50% of the popular vote. Not sure if either major party candidate will do that this year...
Politics aside, this week's poll celebrates the distinctive beauty of five passengers/crewmembers on Jean Wuss Picard's Enterprise: Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden), Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis), Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), and Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett, for any of you milf types out there).
Vote often and early. I hope that we will know the final results of our presidential election by the time we know the results of this poll next week. Enjoy!
Results (Posted 4 November 2004):
|Dr. Beverly Crusher|
I got back safely last night, but lacked the time and energy to post my usual humble brilliance.
I had given Rob the Llamabutcher the key to the place for about a day, but unfortunately Munuviana crashed during his window of opportunity to leave Llama droppings here. Look back later today for the new SF Babe poll, along with the final results of the Leia/Padme contest.
I find myself out of town in Chicago for the next few days for a continuing legal education conference. Unfortunately, I only have dialup access and find it frustrating to surf or blog, so expect limited-to-no posting until Wednesday evening.
I'll have a belated aircraft cheesecake posting ready by then. I got some ideas at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry yesterday.
As additional away-from-home sightseeing, I caught Team America: World Police at the theater last night. This is a must-see, especially for the supposedly "open-minded" leftists who like cutting-edge humor. It is the antidote to Fahrenheit 911: rather than taking down Fahrenheit 911's lies point-by-point, it undermines the whole self-loathing, defeatist premise of that movie and the laughable self-importance of the media elite. America! F*** Yeah!
Update: Instapundit is traveling, too. I wish I could call on some quality writing talent (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) to fill in the blanks here while I'm gone.
But this week, there's a new twist: both of our candidates display both a soft, stereotypically feminine side and an assertive, commanding, warrior side. You get to choose not only between the two women, but also between their personas.
Results (Posted 28 October 2004):
|SF Babes - Star Wars|
I know, I know. Cryptonomicon is a BIG book, as are the recent Baroque Cycle works. If you haven't time or inclination to read those, then at least read this great interview on Slashdot, which I found via SFSignal.
Aside from the hilarious [fictional] anecdotes of Neal's epic battles with William Gibson, there's some real gold here. For example, this nugget about Blue Origin:
As for my visions of future private space flight: here I have to remind you of something, which is that, up to this point in the interview, I have been wearing my novelist hat, meaning that I talk freely about whatever I please. But private space flight is an area where I wear a different hat (or helmet). I do not freely disseminate my thoughts on this one topic because I have agreed to sell those thoughts to Blue Origin. Admittedly, this feels a little strange to a novelist who is accustomed to running his mouth whenever he feels like it. But it is a small price to pay for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a minor character in a Robert Heinlein novel.
I like the sound of that: a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to become a minor character in a Robert Heinlein novel." Unfortunately Blue Origin doesn't seem to be looking for an in-house lawyer at this time.
Getting prepped for the harsh blare of TV lights is a peculiar experience, and you learn to sit still and think of England. So no, the clip isn’t particularly unusual.
Until he whips out – well, you’ll see. It’s like Captain Kirk whipping out his communicator to contact the USS Fabulous. Set phasers on stunning!
My not-so-inner geek loves that.
In case it's not already abundantly clear, I am, in fact, a geek.
And proud of it.
Moreover, I am a Level 3 geek.
Take this quiz, and figure out your own geek quotient. (My score was 575).
Update: Not just a geek. A geek that can't read the instructions. I missed the two-year time frame on the first part of the quiz.
Retaking with that timeframe, my raw score was 590, less 350 for the "anti-geek" points, yields a revised score of 240, or Level 0 Wannabe.
The world being what it is, I'm more likely to pay to go to space than to Africa during my lifetime. Thank goodness someone else can travel there and allow me to travel vicariously with them.
Don has some nice pics up. Check it out.
As any good Rush fan will be happy to tell you (at great length if you allow them), Neil Peart is a drum god. It's therefore fitting that these students would name their drum-playing robot after Peart (Pneumatic and Electronic Actuated RoboT).
Quite an incredible aircraft. As a result of its molded plywood and balsa wood construction, this twin-engine plane, which was originally specified as a bomber, became one of the fastest, longest-range multirole fighters of World War II.
It packed quite a punch: in its typical night-fighter package, it carried four 20mm cannon in a belly mount and four .303 machine guns in the nose.
I couldn't find my 80s "pop" mix in the car, but poking around in iTunes, I put together as much of the mix as possible from memory:
1. Miami Vice Theme - Jan Hammer
2. Call Me - Blondie
3. Video Killed the Radio Star - The Buggles
4. The One Thing - INXS
5. Fascination - Human League
6. Obsession - Animotion
7. Cars - Gary Numan
8. Doctor Doctor - Thompson Twins
9. Metro - Berlin
10. On the Loose - Saga
11. Red Skies at Night - The Fixx
12. I Ran - A Flock of Seagulls
13. Beverly Hills Cop Theme - Harold Faltermeyer
14. Safety Dance - Men Without Hats
15. Airlane - Gary Numan
16. Whip It - Devo
17. She Blinded Me With Science - Thomas Dolby
18. Don't Change - INXS
19. Astradyne - Ultravox
I just burned it and now have a replacement disc!
Most people have probably heard of many of these but probably not all. Airlane and Astradyne in particular are two obscure but great synthesizer-based instrumentals that perfectly capture the peak of the analog synth sound before "digital" became the next big thing.
Update: I should note again that Ace set this meme in motion with his pop quiz the other day.
Tovarisch Kommissar holds show trial number 13.
Makes Kommissar running-dog exploiter, nyet? All talkski no walkski.
In the meantime, I present you with our fifth poll in the series: the lovely ladies of Space:1999: Dr. Helena Russell (Barbara Bain), Sandra Benes (Zienia Merton), Maya (Catherine Schell), Yasko (Yasuko Nagazumi), Tanya Alexandria (Suzanne Roquette), and Kate (Sarah Bullen).
Vote early and often, and ignore those wooly-headed butchers over there this week.
Results (Posted 21 October 2004):
|SF Babes - Space 1999|
|Dr. Helena Russell|
This isn't a quiz, but more of a music sampler. I put together a road-trip CD earlier this year when I took my sons to the USS Lexington. It's simply entitled "80s Rock." Kind of a dream mix of the rock songs of my youth to make a 9-hour drive go more quickly (and many of these weren't necessarily my favorites back then). This isn't 80s pop, a separate CD of which I burned, but rock.
What would be your "road trip" mix of 80s rock? Let me know.
Open the extended entry to view the song list.
1. Tom Sawyer - Rush
2. Jukebox Hero - Foreigner
3. For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) - ACDC
4. The Cradle Will Rock - Van Halen
5. Games People Play - Alan Parsons Project
6. Sultans of Swing - Dire Straits
7. Baker Street - Gerry Rafferty
8. Ah Leah! - Donnie Iris
9. Children of the Sun - Billy Thorpe
10. You've Got Another Thing Comin' - Judas Priest
11. Eyes Without a Face - Billy Idol
12. Life is Just a Fantasy - Aldo Nova
13. Synchronicity 2 - Police
14. Magic Power - Triumph
15. Take Me Home - Phil Collins (remix with Peter Gabriel and Sting)
Assuming the lawmakers and regulators don't strangle the baby in the cradle, there appears to be quite a bit of pent-up demand to pay $200,000 for a flight into space (even if there are only 5-10 minutes of weightlessness).
If I had the means, I know I certainly would, risks be damned.
I suppose the one gripe of his that I routinely violate is in making this site more graphics-intensive than it used to be. I do try to reduce the size and quality of photos I post here to minimize Pixy's bandwidth charges and my readers' load times. Otherwise I try to avoid the many other design flaws pointed out by the Soaring Celestial Simian.
One additional hint: if you have a third-party script in your template (such as a stat meter or the TTLB Ecosystem script) put it toward the end of your HTML so that it does not prevent your content from loading if there is an error with the script. I had a lot of trouble reading several of my favorite sites last week when the Ecosystem was experiencing some growing pains.
Hi everyone! My name is Jake. I am John's pet dog. This is the first time I have ever posted to my owner's weblog. He's got some really cool stuff here, but I think I can make it look better.
The Flying Space Monkey gave me all kinds of ideas about how I can do that.
I know my master likes aliens.
And he loves Star Trek (especially the transporter).
He likes monkeys, too. Especially the Flying Space Monkey variety.
And I love all of these neat little moving pictures. Don't you??
Shhh! I hear my master coming. Better hit publish, and save, and . . . there. Perfect!
Arrgghhhh! Stupid dog! No treats for you tonight! The Flying Space Monkey was saying those are the things you're NOT supposed to do!
As I pointed out in that post, lest we think of the autochrome process as "primitive," the method of taking three greyscale pictures with three colored filters and then projecting the images through colored lenses is essentially the same technique used by the Mars Exploration Rovers to create color images today.
My boys have been busy building again. First, a tribute to the original Star Wars trilogy. My second son's custom X-Wing:
First son's renderings of Luke (center) and his ill-fated sidekicks Dack (left) and Biggs (right):
(More in the extended entry).
Second son made this Banshee from Halo (real picture below for comparison). Note the Covenant purple on the wings:
Hello Master Chief! Remember, AI Constructs and Cyborgs First!
My first son built this little ship, which he calls "Eject" as its bottom pulls off, allowing the pilot to drop downwards through a hatch. Nifty:
This week's airplane is the De Havilland Sea Vixen:
As will become apparent in future servings of aircraft cheesecake, I find the twin-boom tail an attractive feature on airplanes.
Last week we again had only a plurality winner, so this week I will force you to choose a winner - no split decisions here, as I will cast any required tie-breaking vote.
This week's poll has a place near and dear in my heart, as a debate I had with a certain Llamabutcher over the relative aesthetic merits of these two attractive women's characters in the silly TV show led to this site becoming the center of the SF Babe universe (at least according to Google).
As always, vote early and often.
Update: Welcome, Vodkapundit readers! Make yourselves at home, and please, Vote Ardala!
Results (Posted 14 October 2004):
|SF Babes - Buck Rogers in the 25th Century|
But Texas has 34 electoral votes to Virginia's measley little 13, so Ardala wins. Ha! Take that, Llamas!
Via Mixolydian Mode, I found this essay at Outer Life relating the imposition of a parent's musical tastes upon the child. I had a very similar experience with imprinting, at least to the extent that my parents also fed me a steady diet of Neil Diamond, John Denver, and the Kingston Trio (and Chad Mitchell, Herb Alpert, the Smothers Brothers, and others) when I was a child. Says Outer Life:
"I inherited a musical legacy from my parents that I've spent most of my life trying, without success, to forget. . . .
"Along the way, my father threw in heaping helpings of Jesus Christ Superstar every year during the Lent/Easter season. That rock opera imprinted itself in my brain to such an extent that today, thirty years later, I can still sing every word of every song. Many's the time I wondered why -- why! -- we couldn't have played more wholesome fare like Bach's Mass in B Minor or Handel's Messiah, works I never heard until well into my adulthood. . . ."
Unlike Mr. Outer Life, I still honestly enjoy the music of my parents (especially Neil Diamond) as reminders of a happy childhood that included very cool road trips to Colorado and Canada. I guess I differ from him in that my parents also loved classical music, so I got the "wholesome fare" in addition to the lighter fare. (And believe me, I got lots of unwholesome fare, as my parents' broad tastes extended to - <retch> - country and western music).
As I've written before, throughout much of college I studied classical music (I was a performance major in Organ), so I think I have the "street cred" to be a music snob. But I've found life's a lot more fun if I drop the snobbery (except as to country music -- blecch).
To Mr. Outer Life, who felt embarrassed to admit that the first album he bought was Kiss Alive, I'm proud to admit mine was Moving Pictures by Rush. To be fair, though, I was pretty sheltered growing up and didn't have to buy my "first" album, which was Spirits Having Flown by the BeeGees. (Hey, nothing's wrong with learning to be an intelligent consumer of pop culture. And part of learning is making mistakes!)
But even with a "mistake" like the BeeGees or Kiss, the music can still have meaning. And one of my standards for "good" music is whether it is meaningful. Of course that's a very subjective standard. Can you develop an objective standard for whether music is "good?" You can argue objectively whether music is complex in composition (based on harmonic rhythm, counterpoint, orchestration, etc.) or difficult to perform (any Trio Sonata for Organ by Bach). Do those factors make music good? Or just difficult?
Certainly, complex music can be a sublime experience when properly performed. Yet a simple folk melody can evoke tears, too.
And I think those emotional responses are driven largely by the circumstances of the musical experience. One piece of music can become so intimately entwined with all of the other senses involved in an experience that its quality - or lack thereof - is distorted by those subjective factors.
Let's stay with the BeeGees as an example. You hear a clip of the BeeGees' "Too Much Heaven." What comes to your mind?
For me, it is a vivid memory of my friend Craig's garage in fifth grade. A dance party, with about three girls and three or four guys, lightly chaperoned by Craig's parents. The music was mostly disco (I only remember the theme from SWAT and the BeeGees). Craig had a disco ball and the garage was lit with red lights. That night, I experienced my first open-mouth kiss with a girl. The soundtrack to that kiss? "Too Much Heaven." Was it great music? I don't think it compares to anything by Bach. But it helped crystallize one memory that I'm sure will stick with me well into my senility someday. Your mileage may vary on this particular song, but I bet you can think of a similar one.
Examples? Comments? Please share.
The 66th Bonfire of the Vanities is up at the Llamabutchers and yours truly is prominently featured.
A few of my favorite things about the X-Prize coverage:
Google's Logo yesterday:
Xeni Jardin's link-filled report at BoingBoing.
Alan Boyle's writeup at MSNBC.
Miles O'Brien's ever-enthusiastic entry at CNN.
OK. Why would anyone in their right mind rely on the opinion of a mere celebrity to determine whom they would vote for? It seems that the vast majority of Hollywood celebrities support Kerry.
But Gene Expression gives us a list of the celebs supporting the President.
Check his blog out, and leave a comment to let him know he's doing a good job.
The bloggers' micro-charity network Strengthen the Good has identified its third candidate for your consideration: Debi Faris And The Garden Of Angels.
Debi's charity, the Garden of Angels, works to provide names and legal, honorable burials for abandoned newborns. This charity also supports "Baby Moses" laws that allow mothers who don't want their children to leave them at a safe place (such as a fire station or hospital emergency room) without criminal liability for placement in foster or adoptive homes, as an alternative to abandonment or infanticide.
Please read the overview at Strengthen the Good, click through to Garden of Angels, and consider whether this charity is worth some small donation. Thanks.
Looks like I've evolved from an "Adorable Rodent" into a "Marauding Marsupial" in the Truth Laid Bear Ecosystem at some point over the last few days. I've seen a huge surge of searches for "Rutan+SpaceShipTwo" leading to my site since late September. Over the last week I've been averaging well over 100 hits a day (236 so far today!)
We'll see if this is just a temporary spike or a new plateau. In any case, I'll enjoy this higher state of being as a belated blogday present.
Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this. I enjoy writing it, so I'm glad some of y'all enjoy reading it!
While I would love to liveblog this morning's attempt to win the Ansari X-Prize, I'm not getting a very good connection to the stream at work this morning, and in any case have too much work to spend the morning watching and blogging. You can get the video stream here.
Best wishes to all involved for a safe flight.
Update 0946 CDT (yeah, I know I'm not liveblogging): Brian Binnie is the pilot for today's attempt.
Update 0950 CDT: Separation! . . . Rocket firing . . .
Update 0951CDT: Engine burnout. No rolls like last time.
Update 0955CDT: Looks like they won! Unofficially 368,000 feet.
Update 1007CDT: SpaceShipOne should be landing in less than 5 minutes. Rand Simberg has been liveblogging this morning, and is sure to have good follow-up and commentary.
Update 1013CDT: Safe landing! Welcome to the era of commercial space flight!
This week's entry is much more of an "interesting" than a "beautiful" plane. In fact, the plane is pretty homely but attractive in that odd way that only straight-wing jet fighters can be. The F-89 Scorpion:
This fighter, aside from having an interesting profile and decent performance for a non-swept-wing jet, was the USAF's first interceptor to be armed with air-to-air nuclear rockets.
You heard me right. In the 1950s, the Air Force developed an air-to-air missile (the AIR-2 Genie) with a nuclear warhead designed to take out an entire squadron of Russian bombers at a time.
The F-89 carries the distinction of being the first (and only) plane ever to fire and detonate a nuclear-armed air-to-air missile, on 19 July 1957. I've looked for pictures of the test-firing but can't find any.
David Boxenhorn points out the obvious: imminent war with Iran. War with or without the US. Would Israel really stand by and wait for the vaporization of Tel Aviv?
Yet another reason I'm voting for Bush, even with my many misgivings about the Republican Party platform. I have more confidence that the President will do what is necessary to secure the nuclear facilities in Iran before it is too late. I am just worried that Bush is constrained by election politics from doing the right thing now.
Just a few nights ago, John Kerry said with one breath: "Iran is moving toward nuclear weapons and the world is more dangerous."
But just a few minutes later, he explained what he would have done differently than Bush: "I think the United States should have offered the opportunity to provide the nuclear fuel, test them, see whether or not they were actually looking for it for peaceful purposes. If they weren't willing to work a deal, then we could have put sanctions together. The president did nothing."
I know that Bush understands we are at war. A war that was declared on us. And I know that he will not surrender to the Islamists. And I am certain that he will not arm the enemy and call it a gesture of good will. I can't say the same about John Kerry.
Just in case I neglect to blog tonight, today is the one-year anniversary of my foray into blogging.
A big thank you to my readers. I know I have a few regulars, and I appreciate the fact that you take the time to read my random thoughts.
Much appreciation especially to Pixy Misa for providing the server space, domain, and Movable Type installation, and to Ted "Rocket Jones" for inviting me to join the Munuvians (yay!) after I had spent six months at Blogspot.
Lileks is on fire this morning. Best wrapup I've seen so far.
(Virginia Postrel was watching the debate after oral surgery; a novel way to either deaden or compound the pain).
Update: Steve the Llamabutcher was liveblogging the debate with his own inimitable style. Click and scroll.