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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in Phygelus' LiveJournal:

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Sunday, September 20th, 2009
12:01 am
I have no idea what this is, I just like saying "Luftschiff, the vigilante airship!"

(ganked from aerocrat)
Thursday, December 18th, 2008
9:46 pm
Apparently "armature" and "gagbit" are the same word in Chinese.
Wednesday, December 17th, 2008
9:48 pm
There was a lie the Cretans once told; perhaps they still tell it.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007
9:03 pm
damn you Mr Wizard
Not to speak ill of the dead or anything, but if it weren't for the recently deceased Don Herbert I might be a lawyer or something.  That said, my 1950s-era copy of Mr. Wizard's Science Secrets (it was "old" when I got it, a relic of a vanishing era.  It's older now.) is one of my cherished childhood posessions.

Also, the plastic gear on the "educational" (it seems deliberately designed to confuse people about what causes night and day) orerry Barbara found me at a school sale just broke and the power went out up on the hill for a while.  Not here though.  Coincidence?
Thursday, April 19th, 2007
12:25 am
Sweet teats of the sky pig, plone + zope is easy to install on Windows.   I was inspired to do so from a video that's been getting passed around of some dude from JPL doing stuff faster with it than he could with other web frameworks.
Dunno what I'll do with it, though.  Yet.

If you do need some kind of CMS right now, check it out.  Looks like it's configurationable up and down with in-system, web-accessible menus.  Really, really slick.
Wednesday, April 11th, 2007
10:02 am
British engineering
I was just saying the other day, that no Brit would ever be happy with a computer that doesn't leak oil.  Of course, the market provides:

"Initial prototypes used motor oil until they realised this could corrode some of the components."
Sunday, March 18th, 2007
11:49 pm
not that this is surprising or anything, but an editor of Boing-Boing is inventing unnecessary, inaccurate, and confusing words:
What this person means by "death-a-versary" or "mortiversary" is "feast day".

Nice to see they're observing HPL's feast and not his birth, though.
Thursday, February 22nd, 2007
12:00 am
once you need something to hunt autonomous machines with...
Ed Huber is my new hero.  Witness the 12 Gauge FH (From Hell) wildcat round:

He and his associates have loaded it to yield over 23,000 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle, or over twice the typical muzzle energy of the vaunted .50 BMG anti-materiel "sniper" round, or about 2/3 the muzzle energy of a 20mm cannon.  In inexpensive slug guns like the NEF ($220 MSRP) and Savage ($380 MSRP) with their chambers lengthened to 3.87"  More typical loads yield muzzle energies somewhat higher than the BMG.  He also describes hot loads for unmodified slug guns and the very cool reproductions of the 1887 Winchester lever-action 12 gauge that are well into elephant-gun territory (4,000-5,000 ft-lbs) if you're willing to handload but don't want to modify the guns.  Some of these loads should work in stock 3.5" "magnum" pump guns, too.  Oh yes, and always hand-load to stay within SAAMI pressures for 12-gauge shells if you're not ready to take your life into your hands.

Links if you want to read more, well worth it if this kind of thing interests you:

No, you won't get the long-range ballistics of the BMG.  Yes, this is totally insane.  Yes, 12 gauge shotguns are legal practically everywhere in the US.  God bless America.
Tuesday, February 20th, 2007
9:58 pm
the machines are coming
oh yes, yes, the machines are coming.

From Jane's:

"Described by developers AAI, MRVI and Sea Robotics as a fourth-generation unmanned surface vessel (USV) that can be remotely operated and function in fully autonomous missions, the Interceptor was displayed in public for the first time at IDEX 2007 in Abu Dhabi."


I don't know whether to be amused by the banality of the video or creeped out by its resemblance to low budget 1980's action and science fiction movies.

More links, not on Jane's:


Apparently the interesting thing about the "Interceptor" is its speed and range.  There's little about its sensor package or autonomous navigation capability, which to me indicate there's not much to them.  I also note that the IDEX press release describes "
future platforms for quick disaster response and weapons platforms" which means no one has let them mount guns on it yet, but they hope someone will want to...

Seems a lot less practical than UAVs, which are already widely deployed, weapons systems and all.

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006
12:21 pm
true stories of America
This one is better told out loud, because there are several points where I love the responses I get, but I will include the beats as ellipses.

I remember when one of my friends got in trouble for bringing his dad's .44 Magnum to school...  they're really loud, you know...  yes, he was firing it...  you could hear it all the way up on the second floor... the firing range was in the basement... the principal called him to the office and asked him politely not to bring it to "Lifetime Sports" class again.

And I'm not that old.

Update: RIP Jeff Cooper
Monday, August 14th, 2006
12:29 pm
someone you've never heard of
Walter J. Semerau, 1907-1996
"Just because some amateur telescope makers have no advanced degree in physics, they imagine they can't do the job and thereby miss a front seat at one of nature's best shows. A number of experts have commented favorably on the performance of my instrument. It certainly cannot be credited to my formal education. My schooling stopped with the ninth grade in 1925.
"I went to work in the coal mines, and continued until 1940. A part of that time was at the Alloy, W. Va., mine of the Electro Metallurgical Company, a division of the Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation. While working at the mine I built a stainless-steel press camera. This got me my first real break in life. My mine boss arranged with the management of the Electro Metallurgical plant to promote me to plant electrician. That got me out of the coal mine. After four years as an electrician I saw a mention of Amateur Telescope Making in SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN and built a six-inch telescope [see "The Amateur Astronomer; SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, May, 1948]. Meanwhile my press camera had been judged best in a fair at Electro Metallurgical, and company officials transferred me to another unit of Union Carbide, the Linde Air Products Company near Buffalo, N. Y., as instrument maker for their research laboratories. They had no instrument shop at the time, but they bought what I needed.

"In the seven years that I have worked as an instrument maker I have built three large spectrographs, a recording densitometer, many special types of cameras, a vibrating-reed electrometer, X-ray diffraction equipment, three schlieren apparatuses, a double-beam infrared spectrometer and many other pieces of equipment. I have accumulated one of the finest one-man instrument shops in the country. I am treated with as much respect as any Ph.D. on the property.

"I have no plans of my coronagraph or, for that matter, of anything I have ever built. Throughout the years I have trained myself to visualize how I want an object to be built. I make a few simple sketches-and I mean simple-to determine sizes and so on, and proceed to build. It usually turns out O.K. My employer likes it because it requires no engineering before an instrument is built. The drawings are made afterward.

Scientific American, "The Amateur Scientist", September 1955.
More about him here:
Thursday, June 29th, 2006
8:56 am
Fragment of a poem from a dream, attributed therein to Jack Parsons:

he brought you the ear-capped amber bag of despair

awkward and awful, I know, but I didn't exactly write it, and there's an Enochian note in there...
Tuesday, May 30th, 2006
4:39 pm
still chortling at hamsexiness
hamsexy.com has eaten up half my day at least.  It's not what you might think, and it's as "safe for work" as most interweb tomfoolery.

some samples


(the hovercraft is pretty singular and actually kind of cool)


I have to admit, before I got my license, I didn't know the attraction that amateur radio held for the sort of person that likes to put emergency lights on his Caprice and play at having some kind of authority. The hamsexy.com crowd calls them "whackers": my new word of the day!  There's like a whole syndrome or something these guys are acting out.

When I got my amateur ticket a few years back, I was still working with some serious rf analog guys who were a pretty far cry from the amber-lights-on-a-beater crowd but I was still kind of disappointed that the airwaves are not full of silicon valley rf wizardry: most operators have technician-type jobs and the rate of progress in amateur radio is glacial.

Also I learned today from hamsexy that Sir Mix-a-Lot, in addition to liking big butts, is a serious radio enthusiast and owns some kind of radio parts company in Seattle.  That's really cool if it's true.
Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006
3:35 pm
something I didn't know about the Anointing of the Sick until fairly recently
As administered in the Western Church today according to the rite of the Roman Ritual, the sacrament consists (apart from certain non-essential prayers) in the unction with oil, specially blessed by the bishop, of the organs of the five external senses (eyes, ears, nostrils, lips, hands), of the feet, and, for men (where the custom exists and the condition of the patient permits of his being moved), of the loins or reins; and in the following form repeated at each unction with mention of the corresponding sense or faculty: "Through this holy unction and His own most tender mercy may the Lord pardon thee whatever sins or faults thou hast committed [quidquid deliquisti] by sight [by hearing, smell, taste, touch, walking, carnal delectation]". The unction of the loins is generally, if not universally, omitted in English-speaking countries, and it is of course everywhere forbidden in case of women. [italics and bold added for emphasis]


This could well have changed with Vatican II; I have no idea. I also have no idea "where the custom exists" or existed.  The wondrous Catholic Encyclopedia, of course, dates from 1917.
Tuesday, April 25th, 2006
11:02 am

Scott Adams nails the weakness of the folk-skeptic bastardization of Ockham's Razor (“the simplest explanation is usually correct” ) as a rhetorical device:

I call this problem Adams’ razor, and it goes like this: “The explanation that you believe is correct will always seem simplest to you.”

How many times have you heard someone argue that something preposterous or just plain wrong was the "simplest" explanation?

Wednesday, April 5th, 2006
10:56 pm
Monday, March 27th, 2006
1:07 pm
I'm really pleased with the responses to my next-to-last post, which are all great and even brilliant, but I'm swamped until the end of the month so I will have to wrap up my thoughts on that subject later.

There's a meme of posting anti-war lyrics going around.  I will do no such thing.   Instead, I will share with you the lyrics of the Macedonian folk song "Ako umram il gazinam", which means "If I die or if they kill me".

Read more...Collapse )
Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006
8:40 pm
dog and cat
By the way, the cat quite deliberately tried to kill the dog this morning by knocking a 15-oz can off the kitchen counter onto him. She narrowly missed his head. I have no idea how we would have explained it if the little monster had managed to brain him.
8:05 pm
gnostics and lutherans
Quite often latter-day gnostics will choose to emphasize, first and foremost and sometimes to the exclusion of any other teaching, that gnosticism does not require an intermediary between the individual and God.  This is just a warming-over of the Protestant doctrine of the "priesthood of all believers", which the Catholic Encycopedia charmingly calls "a fond fancy which goes well with the other fundamental tenets of Protestantism."

How then are we to distinguish gnostics from say, Lutherans or Methodists? Particularly now that academics increasingly dismiss the category as a meaningless catch-all when applied to historical movements?

I offer the following definition: a religious movement is gnostic if it claims a gnosis, that is, special knowledge that is not obtainable outside the group, and a means of transmitting that knowledge. Discuss!

As an interesting aside, Catholic commentators emphasize that what has been heretical about historical gnosticism is the claim that gnosis is necessary for salvation, or synonymous with it. That is, they do not deny the existence of special spiritual knowledge, nor do they condemn such per se. The specific difference is that Catholics do not think any particular gnosis is either necessary or sufficient for salvation. Salvation, of course, is a strange idea in itself, but that's for another time.
Thursday, March 9th, 2006
12:56 pm
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