August 15, 2012


For Sale: Check Out Card Signed by Elvis Presley

In 1948, the Man Who Would Be King checked The Courageous Heart, a biography of Andrew Jackson, out of the library at Humes High School.


how a moral ideal born five hundred years ago inspired religious wars, modern art, hipster chic, and the curious notion that we ALL have something to say (no matter how dull). -- The New Republic
Sleeping Spies:
"Last year the Russian government reported that two Russians (a married couple) arrested in Germany last October were not active Russian agents, but retired Cold War era spies. The two 51 year olds were Russians sent to Germany in the 1980s to serve as "sleepers" (agents that spend most of their time doing nothing, until activated from time-to-time for some simple, but essential, mission.) The Germans decided to prosecute anyway." --StratPage
"Overwintering" - Surviving the worst winter in the world
High up on the Antarctic Plateau - the world's largest desert - we have endured hypoxia that comes from being located at 3800m equivalent altitude, the coldest temperatures on Earth falling below -80C (-100C with the wind-chill), and each other. Nothing survives outside in such harsh conditions - no fauna and no flora.
Pumice Island: 7500sq Miles of Pumice from Underwater Volcano Located
"The lookout reported a shadow on the ocean ahead of us so I ordered the ship's spotlight to be trained on the area. As far ahead as I could observe was a raft of pumice moving up and down with the swell. The rock looked to be sitting two feet above the surface of the waves, and lit up a brilliant white colour in the spotlight. It looked exactly like the edge of an ice shelf," said LT Oscar.
The world record for a human cannonball is 193ft 8.8 in, set last March by David “The Bullet” Smith Jr. -- Shots and pockets | things magazine

The HP-35

In perhaps the most famous design brief in electronics history Bill Hewlett challenged his engineers to shrink the 9100A into something he could fit in his pocket. Eventually Dave Cochran, the original HP-35 product manager, determined that it would be feasible using newly-developed integrated circuits and LEDs. A market research study, however, warned that the device would be too expensive and there was simply no market. That didn’t matter to Hewlett. He decided he wanted one and said “We’re going to go ahead anyway.”

Posted by gerardvanderleun at August 15, 2012 7:29 AM
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

First I had a Texas Instruments TI-58C and then I graduated to the TI-59, with magnetic card reader. I think it was nearly $200 in the early 1980s. What a machine. You could store programs onto mag stips and load them into the calc with a satisfying whir/grind.

I remember using the flight computer ROM and showing my flight instructor my overly detailed calculations for our first dual cross-country training flight. He asked: "what's our initial heading after takeoff?" I proudly looked at my navigation sheet and answered "246.4 degrees." We then had a discussion about the compass marked only every five degrees.

BTW, girls are not one bit impressed by even the most awesome calculators, FYI.

Posted by: Scott M at August 15, 2012 12:46 PM

This girl was (impressed), mainly because I had such a hard time remembering the sequence of keys. I was a cartographic draftsman, drawing pipeline maps and calculating the farmers' reimbursements for crops damaged in the pipeline right-of-way. My vocabulary was reduced to mostly four-letter words.

Posted by: Deborah at August 15, 2012 6:05 PM

British polar explorer and survivor of Scott's 1910 expedition Apsley Cherry-Garrard introduces his own experiences in his account The Worst Journey in the World with the words: "Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised."

Glad to see that polar article ... Interesting stuff. Wonder what AC-G would have made of the watermelon eating tutorial. I like Dr. Kumar's way of stating his observations.

Also enjoyed being introduced to the writings of R. Jay Magill, Jr.
...and that Russian driving video ... pretty amusing stuff. I rarely get to laugh aloud before the first cup of coffee.


Posted by: DeAnn at August 16, 2012 3:54 AM

I was teaching civil engineering at a major university when the HP 35 came out. It cost $395, and it didn't have hyperbolic trig functions or any statistical capability. Just logs (base 10 and natural), exponents, roots, normal trig functions and arithmetic and memory.

The faculty was concerned that someone having one of them would have an unfair advantage. And we debated banning them from exams. Laissez faire prevailed (we were civil engineers), and in a few years the fairness problem went away.

Posted by: bob sykes at August 16, 2012 4:08 AM

O.K. It's an old joke but:

Do you know the difference between sales and marketing?

The sales department says "If we cut the price we'll sell more units".

The marketing department says "If we cut the price we'll sell more units, and how do you like my new dress?"

Posted by: glenn at August 16, 2012 8:28 AM

Just what exactly blogs and forums for the purpose of governmental criticism on earth do you suggest everyone to study?

Posted by: Greulich at August 17, 2012 2:37 AM