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I live in the Florida Keys. I've been in the military and worked inside the Beltway. I've had 22 technical books and two novels published. I fly, boat, dive, shoot, and swim pretty damn well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Rail Gun -- Straight from Stargate Atlantis

Well, actually rail guns (magnetic projectile slingers) have been in development for decades. There was an installation at Eglin AFB that used to shoot slugs out over the Gulf of Mexico. This article (again from my growing favorite: Popular Mechanics) shows the future of these linear accelerators. Keep in mind that these things have other uses. Such as launching cargo from a base on the moon. See this Webpage...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Boeing's Laser Avenger

How could any good military person NOT want to play with something called the "Laser Avenger"? Boeing is doing the marketing and the very great Popular Mechanics is doing the reporting. See this link for this nifty Laser shooter!

I always wanted to mount a .50 cal on my Jeep for traffic control. This really is cooler. Invisible heat ray. Yeah! Also see this link --but it isn't very aerodynamic! 95GHz beams are way way way up there in the spectrum!

Cheap Dirty Fuels Versus Costly Clean Fuels

At this link, you'll find an interesting article comparing the various energy/fuel alternatives. I do not know if the author's numbers are all 100% accurate, but some of the factors I do know about sync up with what the author is saying.

I always get my teeth on edge when people compare the "payback period" of various solar, geothermal, etc systems because they usually do the comparison so simplistically. They conveniently forget about life cycle costs. In other words, wind power is dandy, as long as you are ready to replace bearings and batteries every 3-5 years, rectifiers every 7-10 years, etc. If you take the real life-cycle costs of these systems, you never get "payback" over petro-power no matter what the price of a barrel of oil.

Ethanol particularly sets me off as full of stupid trade-offs. If you want to be informed, this is a good article to read. As for me... I want Tom Swift and Ultrasonic Cycloplane.

Without Tom's latest aircraft, which uses ultrasonic rotating drums to provide lift, a rescue attempt would be impossible. Battling violent weather conditions, the young inventor lands the DRUMHAWK and organizes a rescue expedition. --Hey, reading is believing.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A Good Article by George Will

This article by George Will is worth reading and citing. "...the stock market has predicted nine of the last three recessions." See http://www.newsweek.com/id/69539/page/1

Sunday, November 11, 2007

An Interesting Happening on 2nd Amendment Rights

There is an interesting 2nd Amendment case working its way toward the Supreme Court. "Both sides in a closely watched legal battle over the District of Columbia's strict gun-control law are urging the Supreme Court to hear the case. " See this link for more information.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Airline sacrifices goats to appease sky god

Airline sacrifices goats to appease sky god

One can not make this stuff up. Gee, do you think there are some cultural chasms here?
See this link for the Reuters article.

Want to Know What is Happening in Iraq? Read this....

The Mudville Gazette is a blog written by a military officer with the radio callsign "Greyhawk". He is presently serving in Iraq. One of his latest posts is: "How the War was Won (Part one)"

Please read his blog and support his activities with a donation. I do. See this link. Oh, and ask yourself again, "Why don't I read about this in the New York Times??"

The NYT is down to a weekday circulation of about 1.2 million. A lot of these copies are put into hotel rooms and offices where they have an unknown fate. That is about the same circulation size as PC Magazine in its heyday. But, at least at PC Mag we had a great pass-along readership. Only 2.1 million readers for the "Newspaper of Record"? Gee, I wonder why they are doing so poorly?

While you are wondering about the old media, view these MILBLOGS. That's the way to find things the "Grey Lady" will never tell you. This list just shows some of the newest MILBLOGS. Not necessarily the best. The list of the "best ever" contains some that are a couple of year old. The troops move on and get new priorities. Still, you can learn a lot by listening to those who are doing the job.

Recently Added
A Battlefield Tourist
10 Nov 2007
Humbled Infidel
09 Nov 2007
Military Spouses for Change
09 Nov 2007
This Veteran's Life
08 Nov 2007
Hurry Up and Wait
04 Nov 2007
Ish's Cyber Wolf Den
03 Nov 2007
My War Stories
03 Nov 2007
Thoughts on Military History
28 Oct 2007
Susan Katz Keating
27 Oct 2007
Yellowhammering Afghanistan
25 Oct 2007
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A Plug for my friend Harry Newton

There is a great and industrious gentleman I've known for decades who writes a daily column. The column is arguably about technology and investing, but it is actually about living the good life... or a good life.

I believe you'll find Harry's daily column very enjoyable. My wife and I certainly do. See http://www.technologyinvestor.com/index.php I highly recommend one dose every day!

Man made Global Warming is a "SCAM" -- A good source!

John Coleman is the founder of the weather channel and a very well known and respected meteorologist. He is a scientist and a thinker. In this interview, he says he is "...amazed, appalled and highly offended by it. Global Warming..."

He says, "I have read dozens of scientific papers. I have talked with numerous scientists. I have studied. I have thought about it. I know I am correct. There is no run away climate change. The impact of humans on climate is not catastrophic. Our planet is not in peril. I am incensed by the incredible media glamour, the politically correct silliness and rude dismissal of counter arguments by the high priest of Global Warming. "

Read the whole thing here.


The Department of Defense robot car challenge ran on unpaved roads for a couple of years. This year they did city streets. One story with movies and pictures is here http://www.tfot.info/news/1038/boss-wins-darpas-urban-challenge.html I've always thought that these things are great for the technology and for everyone involved. --FJD

Interesting Insight on Global Warming

The author of this piece is an economist who is a writer and teacher in the Netherlands. He isn't a radical. But, he has produced this very interesting piece about the rebound against the idea of man-made global warming in Europe.

Here are some interesting things you'll learn in this piece; 1. How AlGore got his award through five Norwegian politicians (not Swedish Academics) who hijacked the process. 2. How some in Europe are starting to wake up It's well done. See http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=110107A

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

HIGH FLIGHT with FAA Annotations

"High Flight" is a great poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr. See this link for full information about the poem. But, since nothing is sacred...

"High Flight" (with FAA annotations)

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth (1 ),And danced (2 ) the skies on laughter silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed (3) and joined the tumbling mirth ( 4)Of sun-split clouds (5 ) and done a hundred things (6 )
You have not dreamed of -- Wheeled and soared and swung (7 )High in the sunlit silence ( 8). Hov'ring there (9)
I've chased the shouting wind (10 ) along and flung ( 11)My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious (12 ), burning blue I've topped the wind-swept heights ( 13) with easy grace,
Where never lark, or even eagle (14 ) flew;And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space (15 ),Put out my hand ( 16), and touched the face of God.


1. Pilots must insure that all surly bonds have been slipped entirely before aircraft taxi or flight is attempted.
2. During periods of severe sky dancing, crew and passengers must keep seatbelts fastened. Crew should wear shoulder belts as provided.
3. Sunward climbs must not exceed the maximum permitted aircraft ceiling.
4. Passenger aircraft are prohibited from joining the tumbling mirth.
5. Pilots flying through sun-split clouds under VFR conditions must comply with all applicable minimum clearances.
6. Do not perform these hundred things in front of Federal Aviation Administration inspectors.
7. Wheeling, soaring, and swinging will not be attempted except in aircraft rated for such activities and within utility class weight limits.
8. Be advised that sunlit silence will occur only when a major engine malfunction has occurred.
9. "Hov'ring there" will constitute a highly reliable signal that a flight emergency is imminent.
10. Forecasts of shouting winds are available from the local FSS. Encounters with unexpected shouting winds should be reported by pilots.
11. Pilots flinging eager craft through footless halls of air are reminded that they alone are responsible for maintaining separation from other eager craft.
12. Should any crewmember or passenger experience delirium while in the burning blue, submit an irregularity report upon flight termination.
13. Windswept heights will be topped by a minimum of 1,000 feet to maintain VFR minimum separations.
14. Aircraft engine ingestion of, or impact with, larks or eagles should be reported to the FAA and the appropriate aircraft maintenance facility.
15. Aircraft operating in the high untresspassed sanctity of space must remain in IFR flight regardless of meteorological conditions and visibility.
16. Pilots and passengers are reminded that opening doors or windows in order to touch the face of God may result in loss of cabin pressure.

An Excellent Aviation Story

"Back in the old days..." when I was a 2Lt. sitting in an Air Defense Control Sector in Great Falls, Montana, we used to watch the YF-12 make speed runs. (The sector was SAGE and the YF-12 was the interceptor version of the SR-71)

Our scopes covered the US down to about the middle of Idaho. The SR-71 would would be making his turn when he came on the bottom of the scope. But, without vectored thrust and with really thin air at 65,000', the turn was more like a skid on ice. He would continue to turn all the way across Idaho and through most of Montana before heading South again. We used vector arrows on the symbology to indicate speed and when he got back straight and level his vector arrow covered half the scope.

This story below is great. --FJD

+++++++++++++++++++++ Written by Brian Schul - former sled driver

There were a lot of things we couldn't do in an SR-71, but we were the fastest guys on the block and loved reminding our fellow aviators of this fact. People often asked us if, because of this fact, it was fun to fly the jet. Fun would not be the first word I would use to describe flying this plane - intense, maybe, even cerebral. But there was one day in our Sled experience when we would have to say that it was pure fun to be thefastest guys out there, at least for a moment.

It occurred when Walt and I were flying our final training sortie. We needed 100 hours in the jet to complete our training and attain Mission Ready status. Somewhere over Colorado we had passed the century mark. We had made the turn in Arizona and the jet was performing flawlessly. My gauges were wired in the front seat and we were starting to feel pretty good about ourselves, not only because we would soon be flying real missions but because we had gained a great deal of confidence in the plane in the past ten months.

Ripping across the barren deserts 80,000 feet below us, I could already see the coast of California from the Arizona border. I was, finally, after many humbling months of simulators and study, ahead of the jet. I was beginning to feel a bit sorry for Walter in the back seat. There he was, with no really good view of the incredible sights before us, tasked with monitoring four different radios. This was good practice for him forwhen we began flying real missions, when a priority transmission from headquarters could be vital. It had been difficult, too, for me to relinquish control of the radios, as during my entire flying career I had controlled my own transmissions. But it was part of the division of duties in this plane and I had adjusted to it.

I still insisted on talking on the radio while we were on the ground, however. Walt was so good at many things, but he couldn't match my expertise at sounding smooth on the radios, a skill that had been honed sharply with years in fighter squadrons where the slightest radio miscue was grounds for beheading. He understood that and allowed me that luxury.

Just to get a sense of what Walt had to contend with, I pulled the radio toggle switches and monitored the frequencies along with him. The predominant radio chatter was from Los Angeles Center, far below us, controlling daily traffic in their sector. While they had us on their scope (albeit briefly), we were in uncontrolled airspace and normally would not talk to them unless we needed to descend into their airspace.

We listened as the shaky voice of a lone Cessna pilot who asked Center for a read-out of his ground speed. Center replied: "November Charlie 175, I'm showing you at ninety knots on the ground."

Now the thing to understand about Center controllers, was that whether they were talking to a rookie pilot in a Cessna, or to Air Force One, they always spoke in the exact same, calm, deep, professional tone that made one feel important. I referred to it as the "Houston Center voice." I have always felt that after years of seeing documentaries on this country's space program and listening to the calm and distinct voice of the Houston controllers, that all other controllers since then wanted to sound like that and that they basically did. And it didn't matter what sector of the country we would be flying in, it always seemed like the same guy was talking. Over the years that tone of voice had become somewhat of a comforting sound to pilots everywhere. Conversely, over the years, pilots always wanted to ensure that, when transmitting, they sounded like Chuck Yeager, or at least like John Wayne. Better to die than sound bad on the radios."

Just moments after the Cessna's inquiry, a Twin Beech piped up on frequency, in a rather superior tone, asking for his ground speed in Beech."I have you at one hundred and twenty-five knots of ground speed." Boy, I thought, the Beechcraft really must think he is dazzling his Cessna brethren.

Then out of the blue, a navy F-18 pilot out of NAS Lemoore came up onfrequency. You knew right away it was a Navy jock because he sounded very cool on the radios. "Center, Dusty 52 ground speed check." Before Center could reply, I'm thinking to myself, hey, Dusty 52 has a ground speed indicator in that million-dollar cockpit, so why is he asking Center for a read-out?

Then I got it, ol' Dusty here is making sure that every bug smasher from Mount Whitney to the Mojave knows what true speed is. He's the fastest dude in the valley today, and he just wants everyone to know how much fun he is having in his new Hornet. And the reply, always with that same, calm, voice, with more distinct alliteration than emotion: "Dusty 52, Center, we have you at 620 on the ground." And I thought to myself, is this a ripe situation, or what? As my hand instinctively reached for the mic button, I had to remind myself that Walt was in control of the radios. Still, I thought,it must be done - in mere seconds we'll be out of the sector and the opportunity will be lost. That Hornet must die, and die now. I thought about all of our Sim training and how important it was that we developed well as a crew and knew that to jump in on the radios now would destroy the integrity of all that we had worked toward becoming. I was torn. Somewhere, 13 miles above Arizona, there was a pilot screaming inside his space helmet.

Then, I heard it - the click of the mic button from the back seat. That was the very moment that I knew Walter and I had become a crew. Very professionally, and with no emotion, Walter spoke: "Los Angeles Center, Aspen 20, can you give us a ground speed check?" There was no hesitation, and the replay came as if was an everyday request. "Aspen 20, I show you at one thousand eight hundred and forty-two knots, across the ground." I think it was the forty-two knots that I liked the best, so accurate and proud was Center to deliver that information without hesitation, and you just knew he was smiling. But the precise point at which I knew that Walt and I were going to be really good friends for a long time was when he keyed the mic once again to say, in his mostfighter-pilot-like voice: "Ah, Center, much thanks, we're showing closer to nineteen hundred on the money."For a moment Walter was a god. And we finally heard a little crack in the armor of the Houston Center voice, when L.A. came back with, "Roger that Aspen. Your equipment is probably more accurate than ours. You boys havea good one."

It all had lasted for just moments, but in that short, memorable sprint across the southwest, the Navy had been flamed, all mortal airplanes on freq were forced to bow before the King of Speed, and more importantly, Walter and I had crossed the threshold of being a crew. A fine day's work. We never heard another transmission on that frequencyall the way to the coast. For just one day, it truly was fun being the fastest guys out there.