Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Do Nothing Machine

From the YouTube description by CaptainHarlock999:

The Do Nothing Machine, built by Lawrence Wahlstrom, plus stationary engines by Rudy Kouhoupt at the end. Craftsmanship Museum, Carlsbad, CA.

From the museum website at - According to a newspaper article (paper unknown) from about the early 1960's, the inventor of this engineering marvel was Lawrence Wahlstrom, a retired clock maker. He worked in the newspaper business and for the telephone company, while also acting as caretaker and landscape gardener for a Beverly Hills estate for 40 years. He always enjoyed tinkering with clocks and had attended a clock school to learn about their repair. Somewhere along the line he acquired a fascination for gears. After coming across a surplus WWII bomb sight containing a complicated cluster of gears, he got it working again. He also realized that people prefer to be entertained rather than educated, so he began adding more and more gears to his assembly over a 15-year period starting in about 1948. The first known publicity photo of it appeared in 1950.

Over the years, the number of gears continued to grow, reaching either 744 or 764 depending on which account you read. Like the motion of the machine, the actual figure is somewhat fluid. It attracted a lot of media attention over the years, appearing in magazine articles and on TV shows. It was seen on both the Art Linkletter show and the Bob Hope show. The family archives also contain a telegram arranging for Mr. Wahlstrom to appear on the Garry Moore show in November, 1954. Life Magazine gave it a full page in the April 20, 1953 issue, and Popular Mechanics gave it ½ page coverage in the February, 1954 issue. In February, 1955 it was also featured in Mechanix Illustrated magazine. There were also many other newspaper and magazine articles documenting its constant evolution.

Called by its inventor variously a "Flying Saucer Detector" or other nebulous and facetious descriptions, his goal was to add at least 50 gears each year to the constantly growing project. As noted in Popular Mechanics in 1954, "We all know someone who works harder doing nothing than most of us work doing something, but we can't possibly know anything that works harder at nothing that a machine built by a California hobbyist. The machine has over 700 working parts that rotate, twist, oscillate and reciprocate—all for no purpose except movement."

At some point after the Do Nothing machine came into the possession of the Antique Steam and Gas Museum in the Joe Martin Foundation's home town of Vista, CA. It was put up for auction, where Mr. Wolf purchased it in about 2003, repaired it and for years took it to several shows a year for the public to enjoy.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Watercolors of WWII airships

Click any image to enlarge
During WWII airships were used by the U.S. Navy for antisubmarine patrols. These are illustrations by the artist Adolf Dehn of those LTA craft. They are taken from Travel for Aircraft's post Adolf Dehn and WW II’s LTA Aviation in Watercolor. More are at the link.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Making a Rover Imperial motorcycle

This early silent film documents the making of a Rover Imperial motorcycle. It starts with casting the engine block and goes through to test driving the completed motorcycles.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A crime scene?

“Tradition does not mean a dead town; it does not mean that the living are dead but that the dead are alive. It means that it still matters what Penn did two hundred years ago or what Franklin did a hundred years ago; I never could feel in New York that it mattered what anybody did an hour ago.”

-- G.K. Chesterton, What I Saw in America

Friday, September 22, 2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Celebrities of yore

Click any image to enlarge
These images are a series of covers from the magazine Motion Picture. The magazine covered Hollywood and its stars. The covers are from the beginning of the industry through the late 1940s. That was at the height of the movie studio system, so the images of the stars were carefully controlled and you don't see the sort of celebrity buffoonery featured on the covers of current celebrity magazines.

The images are from MagazineArt. There are more after the jump, and many more at the site.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Pessimism and Optimism

Stream Of Life by Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass
and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth
and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Sunday, September 17, 2017


Whoo-hoo! Captain Beefheart to commemorate the return of power. Take that Irma.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Welcome to the stone age

Still without power, I've drifted from the post-apocalypse to the stone age. To keep myself busy I've taken up painting in caves. Above is a drawing of a herd of deer running past a mystical being known as a power plant. The ancient ones say power plants used to charge cell phones and TVs and whatnot. I'm not sure I believe such silly superstitions.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Living the post-apocalyptic life style

Power is still out, so I've pretty much transitioned to a post-apocalyptic life style. Well, except for the fact that there are no zombie hoardes or raiders with mohawks driving hotrods, and I can drive to the local Starbucks to charge my cell phone.

Still, Florida in the summer with no A/C isn't very pleasant. I did see a power truck from Ohio today, so the calvary is on the way.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Never Forget

I'm busy wth clean-up after Irma to post much but this dark date is still remembered.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hunkered down

I'm in Irma's bulls eye. My fabulous estate -- Chateau Le Dumpe -- has been battened down and we'll see how well I ride this out. I expect to lose power, so it may be a while before I get back on. One good thing about this all, no annoying politics for a bit.

Friday, September 08, 2017

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Anthropomorphic machine art

Click any image to enlarge
Boris Artzybasheff was a prolific 20th Century illustrator best known today for his series of anthropomorphic machines. Among his other work were magazine covers, book illustrations and advertisements. Enjoy these few examples, there are more at the following link.

From Machines Alive! The Whimsical Art of Boris Artzybasheff (some ads NSFW)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

New & Improved Antifa Head Gear

Comrades and comradettes of Antifa -- if you want to crack a suspected fascist's skull, or throw a bottle of urine at a pig while staying safe from those pesky cell phone videographers, then the new and improved Invisibilty Helmet is just what you need!

Get one today and be your stylish and anonymous best as you take to the streets to thump white supremacists, Trump supporters or any innocent bystanders that cross your path.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

River Steamboats

Click any image to enlarge
French and English inventors started working on powering boats with steam in the 18th century. By the 19th century steamboat design was well evolved, with both screw and paddle wheel powered variants. To begin, they were commonly used on rivers and lakes where the waters were more placid than the open ocean. The riverine craft are what we associate steamboats with today.

We think of them as the craft on the Mississippi river of westerns, with elegant gamblers and southern belles at the rails. In reality they were rather more mundane and workmanlike craft.

Here and after the jump are several photos of the old boats.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye

Get ready for a weekend of departures with Rotem Or and Alon Lotringer's cover of the Leonard Cohen classic.