Archive for July, 2011

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Breaking news: Apple buys US Government, Jobs fires Obama; replaces him with Gore

July 29, 2011

Lots of cash on hand in Cupertino...

OK, not quite. I got to thinking about it because I read that Apple currently has more cash on hand than the US Treasury. What is actually interesting about the linked LA Times piece is that it notes that many companies have been holding onto cash because of the uncertainty of the economy.

And when did that occur? Yes, it started before the 2008 election, but just before. I said then that companies would hunker down, hoard cash, and not hire, in fear of new taxes they expected to come from the Obama administration. Then came Obamacare, which hasn’t helped that uncertainty at all. Neither has the stimulus, nationalization of industries, increases in regulation, and now this little argument in Congress. If I had a company and had cash, and absolutely didn’t have to hire, I would hunker down and wait for the 2012 elections, too.

And Algore? Isn’t he still on Apple’s board? I’m sure he’s still grumbling about the 2000 election. At least then all this crap about corporate jets should end…

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Tea Party Congresscritters: No way, John

July 29, 2011

One unhappy camper.

On my other blog, Keep Americans Free!, I did a post on the influence of the Tea Party-aligned representatives in the House and how they are undermining the business-as-usual process Speaker of the House John Boehner is trying to use. This is a guy really stuck in the middle. I kind of feel sorry for the guy. He thought he knew the process he had to work with and these folks are rejecting it.

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“Fezzik, you did something right.”*

July 27, 2011

Here come da Dragon!

So according to Fox News, NASA finally did something that showed a bit of courage. They are going to mash the objectives of two SpaceX unmanned Dragon test flights into one, and actually dock with the ISS in early December on the first test flight of the Dragon spacecraft. (The one flown on the Falcon 9 test was a dummy.)

Good for them. We need to get this thing flying. SpaceX has shown that it will go slow when necessary, and speed up when possible. Maybe the fact that a lot of the risk is using SpaceX’s money has a bearing on it, but they’ve received a bunch of NASA development money, too, so I can’t say that NASA doesn’t care if it fails.

Orbital Sciences says they will have the Cygnus in orbit in 2012. We’ll see. The Taurus II first stage booster is sort of a super-Zenit, with some of it contracted out to the Russian builder of that missile/launch vehicle. It’s not yet been flown. The Cygnus is an unmanned cargo carrier only, like the Japanese H-II and the European ATV, so it will have competition with government-subsidized vehicles. Dragon is the frontrunner for carrying crew.

*Princess Bride quote, of course.

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Hollywood, I find your lack of new ideas disturbing…

July 27, 2011

Hollywood has been adapting novels and short stories in various genres for ages, pretty much since the beginning of movies. Okay, I get that. The idea of seeing what you had imagined in your head on the big screen could be pretty powerful. It could also be a letdown, but that’s not my topic for today, kids.

Based on Pierre Boulle's novel, and he wrote the screenplay

When the geniuses in that enclave on the Left Coast decided we were too dumb for movies where you had to think, they went, naturally, to Saturday morning cartoons. Again, some big successes and some big misses. (Anybody remember the live-action Rocky and Bullwinkel?)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - a twofer - comic, then cartoon, then film. Still good.

But remember what happened to those Saturday morning cartoons: the advertisers took over. Instead of cartoons with commercials in between, they became cartoons that were the commercials, promoting Strawberry Shortcake dolls and, even, sad to say, G.I. Joe. Oh, and still with commercials in between.

Now in CGI!

Do not titter at this. My granddaughters love Strawberry Shortcake videos, just as their mother did when she was little. And S.S. has gone through three or four reincarnations since she was a little idea some folks at American Greetings dreamed up. Luckily, so far, she’s stayed in the animated realm.

Yeah, I know about video games, too. I saw the Super Mario Brothers movie, believe it or not, mainly because Bob Hoskins was in it. Same thing – hit or miss. Wing Commander was pretty good, back in 1999.

What Hollywood has been good at mining in these CGI days have been comic superheroes and other “graphic novel” characters. Even the poor ones have been fairly decent, in my view. Well, not Barb Wire. I don’t care what they say. It wasn’t Casablanca.

I'll give you one guess what was supposed to carry this movie...okay, two.

But now, having mined out all the ore that was easy to reach, even with more than a bit of strip-mining, the Gods of Hollywoodland have decided that’s too much plot. Might as well just go straight to board games.

Yep, board games. I know, I know, Clue got the Hollywood treatment way back in 1985, with a pretty heavyweight cast – Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren – but it was a game based on a mystery plot.

What’s he playing at? Why have I read this far? Because, dear reader, we now have sunk (sorry) to the level of a new film, budgeted at $ 200 million, opening in the spring of 2012:

Battleship.

Well, it is America's all-time favorite game...

The trailer’s been pulled off of YouTube. Use the link above to go to the official site and see it there. SPOILERS AHOY!!!!: The alien ship looks pretty cool!

Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna (!?!), and The Man Who Will Do Any Movie That Isn’t Pron If They Pay Me, Liam Neeson.

Told you. You can't make this kind of stuff up.

Brooklyn Decker - See where this movie is going?

Taylor Kitsch - equal time for the rest of my readers! I guess he's supposed to be hot...

Alexander Skarsgard - best picture I could find. Sorry.

So what’s next? Monopoly? Candyland?

To quote Yakko Warner, “The mind boggles.”

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Vertical takeoff done right – by Boeing

July 26, 2011

Boeing has been working on an advanced version of the pulse jet, looking at it as a way to lift aircraft vertically, and then using other engines for horizontal flight.

The PETA engine, for pulse ejector thrust augmentor, is sort of a descendant of the pulse jet engine that the Germans used in World War II in the V1 cruise missile. This far more advanced version has no moving parts and a special chamber that mixes the exhaust with more air to improve thrust.

There was a video on YouTube for the last couple of days. Boeing apparently pulled it today. That’s too bad; it showed some animation of some troop-carrier aircraft taking off and landing vertically using a bundle of these PETA engines. The only thing I could find yet was the image below:

From upper left: German V-1; underside of a notional troop carrier showing rows of pulse jets; Han Solo's ride, for some reason

It’s supposed to be cheap to build and maintain. I assume the video was a promotion for the Pentagon or something. It looks well worth pursuing, and a lot easier to handle than the vectored-thrust chicanery the F-35 uses. There are a lot of uses for such aircraft in the private sector as well, of course – no runways required!

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Too wet to comment…

July 24, 2011

There’s just been too much rain for me to think of anything to comment on, so I kick off the week with a few of my favorites from icanhascheezburger.com and related sites:

Sad, but true.

 

You can sleep better tonight.

 

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Things that make no sense to me…

July 22, 2011

Things that I’ve seen recently that make no sense to me:

What’s with the Demon-crats new fat-cat group to attack: “corporate jet owners.” Today it was His Royal Lowness Harry Reid. Who tells them to say this crap? First of all, by definition, a corporate jet is owned by a corporation, not a rich individual, right. He’s not talking about Rush Limbaugh’s EIB One, he’s talking about big companies, that pay millions in taxes in many different forms, using a plane as a way to maximize the efficiency of their upper level management.  I suppose there are a few celebrities who own their own jets, but they’re liberals anyway, and therefore exempt, right?

Mark Levin and Rush with EIB One, the Gulfstream G550

Besides, as I’ve said before, it attacks a US industry. Most of the corporate jets are built here. Why are they trying to kill it? Are these guys that stupid? Couldn’t they have found something else?

Oh…and I think a lot of Americans aspire to owning, or at least flying in, a corporate jet. And just so you know, most of them are leased.

NASA is doing water tests of the Orion capsule. Yes, the program’s been cancelled. Did somebody not get the memo? Or (conspiracy music here) is it close enough to Boeing’s own capsule that if NASA could provide them with the data for free, sort of under the table…well, you know, there’s no Boeing capsule and ULA Atlas deal in the works, right?

Why are we doing this, again?

 

I find I watch more TV in the summer on a more regular basis than I do in the rest of the year. And none of it is on the “traditional” networks. I’ve been watching the stuff on USA, like Burn Notice, In Plain Sight, Covert Affairs, Suits, and White Collar. I think what started it was The Closer on TNT, which is truly excellent. Tonight I’m catching up on The Glades, which is on A&E, of all things. I suppose these are all directed at my demographic.

Actually a pretty good TV show...

I’m not into “unscripted,” reality shows. Same with the contest shows. Those seem to be taking over the networks. When they try to do something more ambitious in terms of drama lately, they suck at it, it seems. Maybe all the writers went to work for these other shows?

Seriously, are the networks going for a demographic that would rather see the game and reality shows? And what is that demographic, anyway? Is there that much of a cable/non-cable difference yet today?