Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

Not Gonna Set The Alarm Clock

I have tomorrow off.

My second day off in three months.

My first Saturday off in eight years.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The New Chevrolet Trabant

Each Chevy Volt sold thus far may have as much as $250,000 in state and federal dollars in incentives behind it – a total of $3 billion altogether, according to an analysis by James Hohman, assistant director of fiscal policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy.


Friday, December 16, 2011


I make obituaries for TV now and then, so when a particularly good one comes along, I take notice. I hope that you will not think me too morbid if I admit to a small collection of my favorites.

The death of Christopher Hitchens on Thursday brought this to mind. A famous (or infamous) atheist, he was once asked if, as he breathed his last, we might expect a deathbed conversion.

I sympathize afresh with the mighty Voltaire, who, when badgered on his deathbed and urged to renounce the devil, murmured that this was no time to be making enemies.

And on Tuesday, the advertising executive Edie Stevenson passed away. She wrote the well-remembered TV commercial for Quaker cereal, "Three Brothers" in which the older boys conspire to use the youngest brother as a guinea pig when their mother serves a new breakfast cereal. “Let’s get Mikey. He won’t eat it. He hates everything.” Then the best line, "He likes it! Hey, Mikey!"

And from Ms. Stevenson's obit in the NYT:

In addition to her daughter, she is survived by her longtime partner, Gordon H. Price; two sisters, Daphne Stevenson Penttinen and Adelita Stevenson Moore; three sons, Steven, David and Donald Mann; and five grandchildren.

She also leaves a cat, Mikey.

But my favorite obit of all is Madeleine Pelner Cosman, a medieval studies expert and professor who passed away on March 2, 2006. From her obit in the NYT:

Ms. Cosman's husband, Bard, a plastic surgeon whom she married in 1958, died in 1983. Survivors include a daughter, Marin, of Scarsdale, N.Y.; a son, Bard, of La Jolla, Calif.; and four grandchildren. Information on other survivors could not be confirmed.

Ms. Cosman also leaves behind a vast library of illuminated manuscripts and a large collection of handguns.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

And Just Over The Border... the peaceful village of Moyock, NC.

On The Border

Thanks to reader Bob, we have one more Wullenweber. This one on the Virginia/North Carolina border (the horizontal gray line is the border.)

This one looks like it's been converted into a secret squirrel site.

Or a Walmart.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Wullenweber Antennas

Sobe, Japan

These are very large arrays for high-frequency reception and direction-finding, mostly by governments. Here is the Wikipedia article.

All of the installations were originally super-secret, but most have been dismantled and only a few are left, all of them inactive.

In addition to RAF Credenhill in the previous post, these Wullenweber sites remain:

Chicksands, UK

Elmendorf AFB, Alaska

Misawa, Japan

Imperial Beach, California

This one has an interesting history. Built in Karamursel, Turkey, it was dismantled by the Turkish government in 1977 in retaliation for a U.S. arms embargo. That was 34 years ago and it's still easy to spot.

They're anachronisms now, but as this 1955 snapshot shows, security at Misawa was serious.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

What Color Is The Boathouse At Hereford?

There seem to be many different possible answers to that time-honored question.

But first, what is this Big Round Thing?

And what is this Little Round Thing?

They've got their own orchard, we know that.

And some sort of Big Square Thingy. Avec flagpole.

Nice antenna.

What say you, Bobbi? Appears to me to be a broadband ten-element high-frequency Yagi. I'd love to own one.

There's a double fence around the whole place, with camera towers every hundred meters or so.

And a bit farther down the road we see the antenna in the distance. More like twelve to fifteen elements, I'd say. Like the one at the Pentagon. Maybe they talk to each other: "dit-dit-dit-dit-dit..."

They've got lots of stuff, but I don't see a boathouse. Musta been one of those trick questions.

Hey, what's that weird tower on the horizon? How'd I miss that?

OK, there it is. Maybe that's the mysterious boathouse.

"'ello, 'ello, 'ello! What's all this, then? That's as far as you go, Yank. Nothing to see 'ere. Just turn your fancy camera car around and get yer arse back to Cupertino."

"You think we're barmy? Get lost!"

"Um, Constable, is there a boathouse around here?"
"Bloody git!"

See for yourself here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Marines vs. Rome, The Movie

It's the 35th MEU against the Roman Legions. My money's on the Jarheads.

From Boing-boing.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Great License Plate!

Spotted parked outside the telephone company.

And here's one of Steve Wozniak's original Blue Boxes, on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

Monday, September 26, 2011

24 Terabits A Second

Three submarine fiber cables come ashore in Hermosa Beach, CA...

And make their way to this ratty-looking telephone pole. Notice the red spray-paint on the pavement: "Before you dig, call Miss Utility."

View Larger Map

Sunday, September 11, 2011

With Your Shield, Or On It

Hey, toss me a grenade, would you?

Outstanding photo essay of Task Force Spartan in Afghanistan.

h/t Maddened Fowl.

A Medevac copter. But is that a blimp in the background?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Shotgun Silencers? Sure!

From Five Ridiculous Gun Myths That Everyone Believes.

The Velvet Geek

The coolest black velvet paintings you will ever see.

The Terror Of La Porte, Indiana

Fascinating account of a female serial killer who was responsible for at least 25 murders and possibly twice that many. And who may have escaped justice.


Suffragette City

On a bicycle trip to the former site of the Lorton Prison, I spotted this historical marker.

"I'd Do Worse."

Youssouf Drame displayed scars from a gun battle in which he was shot seven times and killed two men trying to rob his Brooklyn store.

I started at the New York Daily News report of the "Bloody Weekend" in NYC. Mayor Bloomberg, true to form, calls for tougher gun control laws.

That led me to a 2008 NYDN editorial called "Wake Up, Mike", which chided hizzonor for, among other things, "abandoning Youssouf Brame."


Google reports that his real name is Youssouf Drame. So much for the "first, rough draft of history." But I wondered what happened to Mr. Drame, and why he was "abandoned."

Fortunately for us, the Gray Lady is on the case. The 2009 article, "Scars Linger..." recounts the experiences of several people who fought back against armed robbers. Most had some regrets and emotional baggage, some of it severe.

But for Youssouf Drame, who shot and killed two of the four men who tried to rob his Crown Heights electronics store last November, the pain is mostly physical: In the gunfight that broke out after he grabbed one of the robbers’ weapons, Mr. Drame was shot seven times. His left hand is permanently damaged, and scars remain where his body was pockmarked with bullet holes. But if he had it to do again, Mr. Drame said, “I’d do worse.”

His is the other face of the shopkeeper’s rage, the one that draws cheers from crime-weary citizens and business owners. At his store last week, Mr. Drame watched on the dozens of televisions on display as Mr. Augusto spoke about the Harlem shooting. “How are you going to rob an old man like that?” Mr. Drame said in disgust.

He opened his store nine years ago, after stints working as a fishmonger, a parking attendant and a cleaner of vendors’ carts.

“I worked so hard, and they wanted to take what is mine,” Mr. Drame, 35, said of the men who tried to hold him up.

Mr. Drame, who has five children, grabbed the man’s gun and started firing. When it was over, one of the robbers was dead, and another died in the hospital. The other two men fled.

Mr. Drame spent a few weeks in Kings County Hospital Center, then went back to work, installing security cameras that cover every approach to his store. If anything, the shooting gave him new strength, he said: “I didn’t come to America to die.”

Unarmed, he challenged four armed robbers, disarming one, killing two, and taking seven bullets, he nonetheless survived and has no regrets.

Bravo, Mr. Drame.

P.S. NRA News has a video essay here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

H.P. Lovecraft Box Lunch



Washing our windows Saturday afternoon, the day before the big show.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


We just had a pretty strong earthquake (at 1:51 PM). Lasted about 30 seconds. The interior walls appeared to be shaking back and forth about six inches. No apparent damage, not even any cracked windows, but wow.

In Woodbridge, VA.

These days, if all it is, is an earthquake and not a shock wave from a nuclear explosion, I'll consider myself lucky.

Monday, August 15, 2011

It Was Forty Years Ago Today

...that the U.S. went off the gold standard. And things have just been so utterly peachy-keen ever since.

Forbes via Yahoo.

New Book

I read the first three chapters here. It's pretty good.

h/t boing-boing.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Tesla Coil Car Theft Deterrent

h/t Snowflakes In Hell.

I think I may have seen one of these in the parking lot at the Dayton Hamvention, but it might just have been a humongous screwdriver antenna.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Mission

Fascinating account of the raid on Abbottabad, in, of all places, The New Yorker.

The helicopters traversed Mohmand, one of Pakistan’s seven tribal areas, skirted the north of Peshawar, and continued due east. The commander of DEVGRU’s Red Squadron, whom I will call James, sat on the floor, squeezed among ten other SEALs, Ahmed [the translator], and Cairo [the dog]. (The names of all the covert operators mentioned in this story have been changed.) James, a broad-chested man in his late thirties, does not have the lithe swimmer’s frame that one might expect of a SEAL—he is built more like a discus thrower. That night, he wore a shirt and trousers in Desert Digital Camouflage, and carried a silenced Sig Sauer P226 pistol, along with extra ammunition; a CamelBak, for hydration; and gel shots, for endurance. He held a short-barrel, silenced M4 rifle. (Others SEALs had chosen the Heckler & Koch MP7.) A “blowout kit,” for treating field trauma, was tucked into the small of James’s back.
Highly recommended.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Artsy Posters For Cult Films

"No Shirt, No Shoes, No Dice" from "Fast Times."

"Vote McFly" from "Back To The Future"

Via Neatorama.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Text Messages In 1890

Article about after-hours chatter among telegraph operators...the first "texting".

From Sunday Magazine.

Via Neatorama.