Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Lord Kelvin's Thunderstorm and More!

Above is an apparatus first built by Lord Kelvin. It works because, as the water splits into the two streams, a minute and random difference in the charges between them will cascade and build in strength. Eventually the two pails of water will build up a large enough charge differential for a spark to jump the gap.

As long as we're talking about Lord Kelvin, the book Edison's Conquest of Mars by Garrett Putman Serviss comes to mind. I found it on Project Gutenberg.

After H.G. Wells had published War of the Worlds in Britain, but before it was published in the U.S., a New York newspaper took the story and rewrote it, giving an account of the invasion as it happened in America.

Edison's Conquest of Mars is a sequel to that story. Some time after the first Martian invasion astronomers observing Mars notice signs that the Martians are planning on launching a second attack.

At first the world is thrown into depression at the thought, but it turns out that Thomas Edison (he apparently licensed his name for the story)  has invented an electric spaceship and a handy disintegration gun.

Edison and Lord Kelvin become the prime movers for building a fleet of Earth ships to preemptively attack the Martians. What ensues is much silliness, with Edison and Lord Kelvin calmly blazing away at the Martians when all around them is chaos. Conveniently, there are also some hot Earth babes to rescue from their enslavement on Mars. It is all quite insane.

Martians firing on the Earth fleet

Monday, May 29, 2017

Thar She Blows

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“Haul in—haul in!” cried Stubb to the bowsman! and, facing round towards the whale, all hands began pulling the boat up to him, while yet the boat was being towed on. Soon ranging up by his flank, Stubb, firmly planting his knee in the clumsy cleat, darted dart after dart into the flying fish; at the word of command, the boat alternately sterning out of the way of the whale’s horrible wallow, and then ranging up for another fling.

The red tide now poured from all sides of the monster like brooks down a hill. His tormented body rolled not in brine but in blood, which bubbled and seethed for furlongs behind in their wake. The slanting sun playing upon this crimson pond in the sea, sent back its reflection into every face, so that they all glowed to each other like red men. And all the while, jet after jet of white smoke was agonizingly shot from the spiracle of the whale, and vehement puff after puff from the mouth of the excited headsman; as at every dart, hauling in upon his crooked lance (by the line attached to it), Stubb straightened it again and again, by a few rapid blows against the gunwale, then again and again sent it into the whale.

“Pull up—pull up!” he now cried to the bowsman, as the waning whale relaxed in his wrath. “Pull up!—close to!” and the boat ranged along the fish’s flank. When reaching far over the bow, Stubb slowly churned his long sharp lance into the fish, and kept it there, carefully churning and churning, as if cautiously seeking to feel after some gold watch that the whale might have swallowed, and which he was fearful of breaking ere he could hook it out. But that gold watch he sought was the innermost life of the fish. And now it is struck; for, starting from his trance into that unspeakable thing called his “flurry,” the monster horribly wallowed in his blood, overwrapped himself in impenetrable, mad, boiling spray, so that the imperilled craft, instantly dropping astern, had much ado blindly to struggle out from that phrensied twilight into the clear air of the day.

And now abating in his flurry, the whale once more rolled out into view; surging from side to side; spasmodically dilating and contracting his spout-hole, with sharp, cracking, agonized respirations. At last, gush after gush of clotted red gore, as if it had been the purple lees of red wine, shot into the frighted air; and falling back again, ran dripping down his motionless flanks into the sea. His heart had burst!

“He’s dead, Mr. Stubb,” said Daggoo.

“Yes; both pipes smoked out!” and withdrawing his own from his mouth, Stubb scattered the dead ashes over the water; and, for a moment, stood thoughtfully eyeing the vast corpse he had made.

Moby Dick - Herman Melville

These days whaling has seemingly been reduced to little more the Japanese claiming scientific research while getting harassed by Greenpeace (in reality several other countries, notably Iceland, Norway and Canada still harvest whales).  However, at one time -- because of the importance of whale oil to the early industrial revolution -- whaling was a major occupation.  It required long periods at sea and was also extremely dangerous.

Here are some pictures from that earlier era of whaling. As always, there are more after the jump.

In Remembrance

In Remembrance on this Memorial Day



Saturday, May 27, 2017

Grandma's Mango Pickles

I love the sound track to this video -- the birds squawking, the random and quiet musical ditty, and the guys mumbling from time to time. Very strange.

The video is titled as a recipe, but none is provided. If you're interested in one, Swasthi's Recipes has a good one that is easy to follow.

Friday, May 26, 2017


Treasure-Store World - Patti Masterman

A word forgets how to write itself
A smile forgets who it first appeared for,
Everything and nothing owns this treasure-store world.

Tears sprout where laughter used to play
Everywhere are the ghosts of dry fountains
Which once poured out existence like a pitcher.

Who has asked for nothing yet received all?
Who hasn’t tried to go home to the singularity again
Only to recall that there is no center?

God and creation have no point of origin
This is why everything JUST IS.

An embrace down here is how we remind one another
We are the heirs of omnipotent cause;
Planets jostle at our lightest touch,
And at the knifelike sound of a scream
One galaxy cannibalizes another.

Everything we know is a single exhalation
In an endless stream of breaths:

Remember you are only breathing so that you can create,
And all created things contain the conscious whole of creation
Safely stored within them.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Monday, May 22, 2017

Visions of Dreams

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From time to time artists attempt to portray dreams. Their attempts are none too successful, I suspect because dreams are both dynamic and very personal and do not translate to paint well. Regardless, here are some examples of painted dreams (from The Public Domain Review).

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Dafa Canal

In the post Machines to Raise Water we saw examples of various machines the ancients used to raise water to a higher level. The residents of the village of Cao Wang Ba, in the Guizhou Province of China faced a different problem -- how to move water. In their case, how to move water across 3 mountains.

In 1959, with their wells dry and water for their village scarce, 23 yr old Huang Dafa convinced his fellow villagers that they had to dig an irrigation ditch that would be several kilometers long and cross 3 mountains and cliff faces. Further, they had to do it all with hand tools.

Their first attempts failed, but they persisted. Huang studied irrigation methods to better understand how to successfully dig the canal. Finally, in 1995, the 7,200-meter-long water canal and a 2,200-meter-long branch channel were completed and a plentiful water supply flowed to Cao Wang Ba once again.

HT: Oddity Central.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Stairway To Heaven As Covered By The Fab Four

It has been a while since I've done a 'Lead into the Weekend' music post, here one is ... from the 1990s, the Beatnix, an Australian Beatles tribute band, covering Stairway to Heaven ala the Fab Four.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Chinese Junks

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Junk is a fairly generic term for Chinese sailing vessels. It encompasses a wide variety of vessels, from pleasure boats to warships, but westerners most often think of the deep water merchant Junks.

Above, flying the British flag, is the Junk the Keying. She was bought in Hong Kong by English business men and sailed around the Cape to New York in 1847, where she became the first Chinese ship to visit U.S. waters.

The images are European, Chinese and Japanese. As always, there are a few more images after the jump.

Monday, May 15, 2017

The World's Greatest Car Mechanic

Pro tip: if your engine catches on fire when you're working on it remember to blow on it like you do with candles on a birthday cake.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Engravings From Sir John Franklin's Expeditions

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 Prior to photography a regular position on a scientific expedition was an artist. As well as recording flora and fauna, they would draw landscapes of the areas they traveled through.

These engravings are from the expeditions of Sir John Franklin. Franklin was a British naval officer who, in the early to mid 19th Century, explored parts of northern Canada and the arctic. In 1845 he was lost on his last exploration -- an attempt to find the Northwest Passage.

These images are from the Luna Archive of his various travels. There are more after the jump, and of course many more at the Luna Archive, including etchings of flora, fauna and the indigenous Eskimaux (I love that archaic spelling).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Which Green Light Do I Obey?

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"James Comey is an enemy. No he's an ally. Firing him is great. No, you fools. Firing him is terrible. Only filthy Trump supporters think so!"
The firing of FBI Director James Comey has been yet another milepost in his transformation to-and-fro between hero, villain and victim in the public's eye (with his particular role at any moment defined by the viewer's politics). In the latest, Democrats --who a week earlier had railed on Comey for stealing the election from Hillary -- are now outraged over his firing.

Frontpage has an entertaining article, Comey, Colbert and Orwell, that compares the confusion of Stephen Colbert's audiance to the news of the firing to a scene in Orwell's 1984. Truth be told, over the last several months, the right end of the political spectrum has suffered the same whiplash in their opinions of Comey . He has been an odd news story.   

Regardless, Comey will be an interesting footnote in history. Tasked with the election-year investigation of Hillary Clinton I think he was stuck with the unenviable task of trying to square a political circle. In the process he managed to support, bewilder and enrage - with the emphasis mainly on enrage - both sides of the political spectrum.

By the way, the Traffic Light Tree statue in England I've used to illustrate this story is supposed to represent the fusion of technology and nature, not mixed signals, but I guess I've reinterpreted it. It seems that nothing is safe from the Comey news maelstrom.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Machines to Raise Water

Models of ancient machines to raise water from the days before powered pumps. I wonder if they all got off the drawing board? Certainly, those that got built must have been nightmares to maintain.

From Visual Education Project which has a number of other ancient machines as well as entertaining perpetual motion machine attempts.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Dried Up Brains (not a post about zombies)

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"Destiny guides our fortunes more favorably than we could have expected. Look there, Sancho Panza, my friend, and see those thirty or so wild giants, with whom I intend to do battle and kill each and all of them, so with their stolen booty we can begin to enrich ourselves. This is noble, righteous warfare, for it is wonderfully useful to God to have such an evil race wiped from the face of the earth.

"What giants?" Asked Sancho Panza.

"The ones you can see over there," answered his master, "with the huge arms, some of which are very nearly two leagues long."

"Now look, your grace," said Sancho, "what you see over there aren't giants, but windmills, and what seems to be arms are just their sails, that go around in the wind and turn the millstone."

"Obviously," replied Don Quixote, "you don't know much about adventures.”
Don Quixote saw giants, dragons, chivalrous knights and damsels in distress. Meanwhile, in the here and now, some folks see Russians hiding in every bush, fancy themselves as modern French resistance fighters and think the Handmaidens Tale is a documentary. It all reminds me of another Cervantes quote:
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
Anyway, there are more Don Quixote illustrations after the jump.

Friday, May 05, 2017

The Start of the Perpetual Weekend

My luxury yacht
Well, I've finally retired. Here's hoping the GOP eliminates the death panels from Obamacare or I'm a goner. In the mean time, you young pups better get a 2nd job so's you can better support my lavish retirement lifestyle.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Happy May Day Comrades

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Here's wishing you a joyous and harmonious May Day whether you plan on getting your picture took in front of a giant image of the Dear Leader, watching your local May Day parade with goose stepping soldiers and mobile rocket launchers, or just taking the day off from your chores in the rice paddy so's you can study your Little Red Book.

By the way... I'm in need of a bit of income equality, so any capitalist running dogs out there better cut me a check and mail it to me pronto.