Archive for October, 2006


I’m Just Tired

Sunday, October 29th, 2006

Originally uploaded by SmartAlex.

I actually got email from the person who reads my blog asking where I’ve been.

It’s been a pretty hectic two weeks for me, capped off by a trip to Arizona.

I have some blog-worthy ideas rattling around in my head, and I’ll post them. Real Soon Now. After a nap.


The Moral Of This Picture

Friday, October 13th, 2006

Mansfield Dam, Travis County, Texas

Originally uploaded by JimNtexas.

This picture was listed as having high ‘interestingness‘ on Flickr. It’s become the most viewed photograph of the 833 I’ve posted there over the last 18 months or so. It is a ‘High Dynamic Range (HDR)’ image, which means it was created by combining four exposures at different exposure levels and using special software to increase the range of visible colors in the final image.

There is a story about this picture. I went to the viewing area next to the dam to take pictures of the harvest moon. I drug my long suffering wife with me. I stood at the end of the dam and spent about 15 or 20 minutes taking pictures of the harvest moon rising over Lake Travis.

They were almost all unusable, the moon was so bright it just washed everything out, plus my cheap tripod couldn’t hold still with the camera tilted back.

When I was finished taking moon pictures I went back to the car. My wife said “you ought to take a picture of the dam”. I felt a little bad because she had just been sitting there waiting all that time, but I took four exposures of the dam at different shutter speeds.

Amazingly, the tripod was rock steady with the camera level, and the exposures bracketed nicely. Photomatrix did the rest.

The moral of the story: Listen to your wife!

flickr, HDR, digital photography, marriage


Army Strong

Friday, October 13th, 2006

The new ‘Army Strong’ recruiting video. It’s excellent.

Hat Tip: Black Five


I Just Lost All Respect For Kinky Friedman

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

A few days ago we in Texas watched our candidates for Governor debate on TV.  I couldn’t watch for long, it was too sickening, especially when they let Carol Keaton Page Rylander McClean Strayhorn (I’m not making that up) screech.
I did notice one thing.  Comic candidate Kinky Friedman was wearing a vest with Army jump wings and Navy Dolphins.  I remember thinking “That’s unusual, I never heard of a submariner who went to jump school. Maybe Kinky is a Boat School grad”.  I made a mental note to check on it, but forgot about it. 
Austin’s KXAN noticed it.  They remind me that Kinky was never in the military, he was in the Peace Corps.  Nothing wrong with the Peace Corps, and if he was to wear a peace symbol as his flair that would be fine.
But he has absolutely no right to wear those devices!  Both Jump Wings and Submariner Dolphins are awarded only after great effort.  They are rightly prized by those who earn them, and greatly respected by everyone associated with any branch of the military.
Friedman is engaging in a cheap trick to fool voters.  He is stealing valor.
If you were never in military you may not understand why anyone would care, but if you were you’ll understand how wrong Friendman is about this.
I’ll never look at him again without thinking “you are scum”. 

Kinky Friedman, Stolen Valor


Is The A-380 In Worse Trouble Than I Thought?

Monday, October 9th, 2006

Yesterday I wrote “Airbus has a new CEO. I don’t envy him one bit“.

This evening I’m astonished to read that tonight Airbus has a new new CEO!  Yesterday’s CEO, Christian Streiff, quit after only three months on the job!

I envy the new new CEO Louis Gallois even less than I envied Mr. Streiff!

Airbus, Boeing, A-380, B-747


North Korea has a New Toy

Monday, October 9th, 2006

USGS Earthquake Hazards Program » Magnitude 4.2 – NORTH KOREA
41.311°N, 129.114°E


A380 Facts and Rumors

Sunday, October 8th, 2006


There has been a fair amount of A380 news lately. 

Aviation Week (dead tree only)  had an interesting pilot report.  Two things I didn’t know about the A380 is that it comes with two built-in laptops for the pilots, and it has cameras on the tail and the belly to give the pilots an exterior view.  The belly camera is used to help taxi the behemoth.

On the business side, news has not been good for Airbus.  It’s A380 customers are being increasing  restive about delivery delays.  They are almost certainly demanding and getting price reductions from Airbus.

Of course Airbus have yet to generate the first Euro of revenue from the product. The A-380 drain on both money and manpower threaten the A-350WB and A-400M (C-130 clone) products. 

Another problem they have is that while Airbus pays most of its bills in euros, it sells airplanes in dollars, exposing it to currency fluctuation risk. Airbus did the prudent thing and purchased currency hedges on the futures market.  But these futures are timed for the original delivery schedule.  As deliveries slide to the right Airbus may get another black eye if the dollar moves against them.

Boeing seems to be riding high, orders being announced on an almost weekly basis.  For example today Dubai-based carrier Emirates announced plans to buy 20 747-8 Freighter planes from Boeing for a total of 5.6 billion dollars.  The B-747-8 is an updated 747 that directly competes with the A-380.

There have been  a number of technical disappointments during the A-380 development.  The failure of the wing’s ultimate load test must have been a heartbreaker for them.  But most of the trouble seems to center on software.  Not the famous flight control software, Airbus has got that figured out.  It’s the design software, especially the software process used to design the massively complex wiring harness.

I was skeptical about this when I first heard about it.  Big airplanes the world over are designed using a program called CATIA, from the French Dassult Systems company.  My understanding is that the latest airplanes, such as the B-2 bomber and Boeing 777 are so well designed that the wiring harness can be built offsite complete with connectors, and then the airplane is assembled around the wires, and everything just fits.  This is a lot faster and cheaper than the old way. In the past airplane wiring harnesses were made with extra lengths and no connectors.  Once the wires were in the airplane then they would be trimmed and connectors installed one-by-one, by hand. 

It sounds like Airbus expected to use the new method, and wound up having to do their wiring the old fashioned way.

All the on the record reports and off the record internet rumors agree that the wiring harness are all FUBAR.  One rumor I read said that every A-380 has a unique and not fully documented wiring configuration.  The rumor is that each of the first batch of airplanes will have to be certified individually due to these configuration issues.

As near as I can tell the airframe was designed in France, and the wiring was designed in Germany.  The Germans used CATIA Version 4, while the French used CATIA Version 5.  It turns out that these versions are very different, and it isn’t easy, and may not be possible, to take the version 4 wiring design and integrate it with the version 5 airframe design.  The result is the world’s biggest airliner has hand made, ad-hoc wiring.

Airbus has a new CEO.  I don’t envy him one bit.

I hope he’s not stuck with another

Brabazon  .





Airbus, Boeing, A-380, B-747


Budget Deficit Drops to $250 Billion

Saturday, October 7th, 2006

Supply-side is working.  Laffer is correct. Even with huge spending for the war and disaster relief, the federal deficit continues to fall.

If we cut taxes again we’d have even more revenue to the goverment.

It is real easy to understand why low taxes increases net revenue to the government .

Imagine that the net tax rate was zero percent. What would tax revenue to the government be? Well, it would be zero. If you don’t collect taxes, you don’t get any tax revenue.

Everyone with me so far? Now we will lose the moonbats and economic literates.

Imagine that the government set a tax rate of 100%. The government takes all of everyone’s income. What is the net income to the government? It will still be zero!

The only way to get anyone to work at the 100% rate is to put them in chains and whip them.

Somewhere between zero percent and 100% tax rates is a rate that maximizes government revenue. All the evidence since the 50s shows that under the U.S. tax system that rate is no greater than 30%, and is probably more like 15%.

As always happens, tax revenues continue to exceed projections, because tax hungry politicians have no understanding of numbers. It’s happening again.

Tax revenues are way up thanks to the Bush tax cuts. Any tax increase is certain to reduce net revenue to the government.

digg story


A Brief History of a Long War

Wednesday, October 4th, 2006

GreyHawk at The Mudville Gazette provides a very useful history of the long war:

Part 1: 1979 – 1991

Part 2: 1991 – 1997

Part 3: 1998 – 1999

Part 4: 2000 – 2003


Party Principles

Monday, October 2nd, 2006

Right Wing News discusses party priniciples:

So, just like conservatives, they do have a common philosophy. Now, conservative Republicans? They tend to get in trouble for telling everyone what they believe in and then not living up to their principles.

But, Democrats? They have an entirely different problem: their principles are unpopular. That’s why they don’t want to come out and say, “We’re for big government, more regulation, higher taxes, gay marriage, unrestricted abortion, gun control, Affirmative Action, massively increasing legal and illegal immigration, more lawsuits, a weaker US military, Kyoto, the International Criminal Court, and socialized medicine.”

(emphasis added)

He hits the Donkey on the head.

Democrats, Republicans, Politics