About WaltTheMan

I'm the old fart at the Zoo.

Sad news


I am Walter Hedeman’s son. He passed away Friday morning in his sleep. I know that this blog meant a lot to him and he would want you to know. Thank you for being there for my Dad over the years.

Walter Hedeman jr.

The Watering Hole: March 31 – Don Quixote

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Alonso Quijano was a retired country gentleman nearing fifty years of age, who lived in La Mancha with a niece and housekeeper. His reading of books of chivalry to an excess has caused an effect on him, leading to a distortion of his mental state. He accepted every word of the facets of chivalry to be true while chivalry was clearly fiction. Otherwise his wits were intact. He went out as a knight in search of adventure. He donned an old suit of armour, renamed himself “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” and named his skinny horse “Rocinante”. A neighboring farm girl became his lady love and he renamed her, the Dulcinea del Toboso, of which she knew nothing.

He set out ended up at an inn, which he believed to be a castle. He asked the innkeeper, whom he assumed to be the lord, to dub him a knight. He spent the night holding vigil over his armor and became involved in a fight with muleteers who tried to remove his armor from a horse trough so that they could water their mules. The innkeeper then dubbed him a knight just to be rid of him, and he went on his way. Don Quixote, next, “freed” a young boy who was tied to a tree and beaten by his master by making his master swear on the chivalric code to treat the boy fairly. The boy’s beating continued. and Don Quixote had a to-do with traders from Toledo, who denounced Dulcinea as a falsehood and severely beat him only to leave him on the road. He was later found and returned to his home by a peasant.

After recovering, Don Quixote approached a neighbor, Sancho Panza, and enlisted him as his squire, bestowing him governorship of an island. The uneducated Sancho agreed, and the pair sneaked off in the early dawn. It is here that their series of famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote’s attack on windmills that he believed to be giants. The two next encountered a group of friars accompanying a lady in a carriage. They were cloaked, as was the lady, as protection from the hot climate and dust. Don Quixote thought the friars to be enchanters who held the lady captive. He knocked a friar from his horse, and was subsequently challenged by an armed Basque travelling with the company. As he had no shield, the Basque used a pillow to protect himself.

In the course of their travels, the two protagonists met innkeepers, prostitutes, goatherds, soldiers, priests, escaped convicts, and scorned lovers. These encounters were intensified by Don Quixote’s imagination into chivalrous quests. fgoes.Don Quixote’s tendency to intervene violently in matters which did not concern him, and his habit of not paying his debts, resulted in many privations, injuries, and humiliations with Sancho always getting the short straw. At the end Don Quixote was persuaded to return to his home village.

Now this tale popped into my mind whilefollowing the campaign of Mitt Romney. Only falsehoods are used to fortify this modern errant knight in his drift to the Republican nomination. For the nation’s well-being, I can only hope that ‘Don’ Romney returns to his village. Otherwise, this nation is destined to enter the fray against imagined enemies!

This is our daily open thread — speak up!

The Watering Hole: March 24 – Science vs. Myth

This is the start of a discussion that I started to put together on the physics of splitting a log.

This is how an engineer would start to describe the process of wood splitting:

The illustration below shows the effects of a wedge being driven into a log. This is merely meant as an illustration for the mathematics.

A Log-Splitting Wedge being Applied

First, the illustration will be simplified so it and the math will seem less complex.

Wedge Reduced to Basic Elements

We will use μ to represent the coefficient of friction along the vector lines XB and XA between the wood being split and the soft iron of the wedge itself. This works because that is the symbol used to represent that effect in science and engineering.

The mechanical advantage in this system is XF/AB, when friction is ignored which is how vector logic allows one to do since the other factors came be treated as separate vectors and the sum of all forces along a common direction can be used. We will use the line XY to define the vector of the sum of all forces since that is the common line along which the wedge is driven.

To find the effects of friction, we need to transpose the direction of frictional forces to vector XY. This actually poses a mechanical disadvantage as it takes away from the energy delivered by the sledge or hammer…

Now to the meat of the matter:

An ordinary fellow would merely say that the mechanical advantage would be equivalent to the the length of the wedge divided by its width at the top.

I had intended to present the exact solution to this problem, but I think I have said enough to describe the complexities that can be inserted into any problem.

These complexities have entered the political arena and it is the sheer complexity can be used to describe any problem with the public unable to see what is real.

Global warming is a case in point. One party can say it is not real because it still snows in the winter. The other party can merely ask John Q. voter to go out in March (In the northern hemisphere) and see whether he needs a parka. Still one side can use its observation to refute the other side’s. Evolution, Intelligent Design and Genesis can be used to explain why human beings exist in their present state.

Enough people believe that the Bible holds all truths and can never be refuted and science takes the other case, which, in turn, makes either argument unacceptable to the other group. Science occupies the back burner more often than not because it is difficult for the average savage to grasp.

To put everything into perspective, physicists are helping to design modern combustion engines. Up to about 1965, engineers were king. Now knowledge of physical principles have entered the process. As new fuel injection and chamber design have entered the design process, engineers are needed less than scientists. In the next graduation, engineers trained in the physical design of efficient combustion engines and carbonation will enter the fray. This is like what has happened in the design of integrated circuits.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: March 17 – Saint Patrick

On this day in 461 A.D., Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.

Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio, which he authored. Born in Great Britain to a well-to-do Christian family, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish raiders. He worked as a herder For the next six years in Ireland. Following a voice he heard in a dream he escaped, sailed to Britain and was reunited with his family.

Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading with him to return to their country and walk among them once more. He studied for the priesthood and ultimately Patrick was ordained as a bishop. Arriving in Ireland in 433, he began preaching the Gospel and converted thousands of Irish and built churches around the country. After 40 years in Ireland Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul the site of his first church. As time passed, the Irish began to observe the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday

Since then countless legends have grown up around Saint Patrick. For one, he is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland.

This brings me to the point of why I started this post. If Saint Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, why can’t he be resurrected and do the same with the GOP in America? Aren’t they equivalent to the snakes of Ireland?

Of course, Saint Patrick had a slight advantage – reptiles never entered the evolutionary record on the Irish land mass and had not crossed the water barrier from England.

We can always hope.

Oh,and lest I forget, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

This is our Open Thread. It is your time to rant!

The Watering Hole: March 10 – Jean Calas

Jean Calas was a French merchant living in Toulouse, France, famous for having been the victim of a biased trial due to his being a Protestant. In France, he is a symbol of Christian religious intolerance. His sole sin was trying to mask the suicide of his son, Marc-Antoine, as a murder. He was charged with the murder and died on March 10, 1762 on the wheel. Voltaire was successful in exonerating Jean Calas (posthumously ) of all charges. His family was paid 36,000 Francs by the king in compensation.

Jean Calas tortured for nothing more than his religious beliefs

Religion was specifically excluded from government in the Constitution. What disturbs me is that the Republican Party is trying to foist religious values into American law. This can not be condoned for any reason.

Could religious dogma endanger the rights of Americans? The “War on Women” offers one step towards this slippery slope! I often wonder if any Republican actually has a mother.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to offer a counter argument. You can also spill your guts.

Food for thought:

To Kill an American
You probably missed this in the rush of news, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper, an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American is . So they would know when they found one. (Good one, mate!!!!)

‘An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish , Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.

An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian , or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan . The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion.. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world.
The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence , which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous.. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan …
The national symbol of America , The Statue of Liberty , welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11 , 2001 earning a better life for their families. It’s been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.
So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo , and Stalin , and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world.. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself . Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

Tornadoes – 2011 and 2012

Has anyone noticed that the tornado season has started a bit early and more violently this year? Fundies, of course, will attribute this to an upswing in Solar activity. Somehow, there seems to be a message, here!. Someone is missing the point.

As a Floridian, I can’t wait for June and the start of the hurricane season, or will it be May?

Technology, greed and politics are getting at the point where the Earth is beginning to complain:

  • Weather Patterns have changed – More and earlier disasters have occurred with each passing year.
  • Winter and Summer temps are on the rise.
  • Tornadoes are hitting earlier than usual and 2012 seems to be headed for a banner year
  • Hurricane patterns are moving north.
  • Drought regions are becoming more prevalent in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  • Levels of CO2 are increasing.
  • The amount of methane (CH4) from ‘fracking’ is equal to or greater than that recovered as fuel. CH4 is upscale from CO2 both of which are greenhouse gasses – That,s a double whammy!
  • Plant and animal extinctions, based on regional temperature increases are on the uptick.

The last item (Driven by its predecessors) is a primary marker when species divergences have a check point at either 6000 or a million years ago – the extinctions over the near industrial era have occurred in the past 600 years (woolly mammoth excluded) and there is an increase on extinctions as we get further into the industrial age. When will grain crops cease to exist? Could Canada and Canada become the bread basket of the World?

It’s almost at the point where the Koch clan need not be concerned about passing on their wealth. There will be no heirs. I’d rather that my granddaughter not have to suffer for the pleasures of the rich.

Think about it.

The Watering Hole: March 3 – Fortitude

Romney's Jobs Plan and Trickle Down economics

Mitt Romney’s recent display of (lack of) backbone gives one pause when considering that he would most likely be involved in international negotiations IF elected.

If Mitt were to enter in negotiations with another world leader, what would be the result if he displayed the same fortitude as he did on the contraceptive issue over the last few days. First, he was for it and then he was against it.

Now he does not understand the question.

He is behaving just as a milquetoast sissy would in changing an opinion after checking with ‘mommy’. I think that each of us has experienced such an individual at some point in our lives.

Suppose that President Romney (Please let me stand aside while I puke.) were to offer Beijing an overzealous promise in return for an extra filet steak (and perhaps a side of Beluga) at a state dinner in Beijing.

On an international stage, retakes can not be an option. This is a like live TV. There is little room for a do-over (Red Skelton excepted).

The nation could be placed in dire straits if the i’s and t’s are not ready for publication when an offer is made.

This is our Open Thread. It’s your thread as well.

Update – (03/02/2011 9:45 pm ZST): Perhaps Mitt is not one to rush to a dis-ingeniousness position. To this time, he has not offered either a nay nor an aye to the Limbaugh wasp nest.

The Watering Hole: February 25 – Excommunication

On this date in 1570, Pope Pius V excommunicated
Queen Elizabeth I from the Roman Catholic Church.

Isn’t Rick Santorum ripe for a similar fate? He has ignored the following principles ordained by The Pope and/or US Catholic bishops.

1. Against the Iraqi invasion.

2. Universal health care for everyone.

3. End the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations.

4. That the federal minimum wage be increased, for the working poor.

5. Welfare for all needy families.

6. The basic rights of workers to bargain and to work in a safe work place.

7. Israel withdrawal from Palestinian
territories occupied in 1967.

8. Against denying services to children of illegal immigrants born or brought up in the US.

9. Against treating illegal immigrants as criminals.

10. Against the idea of a preventive war.

11. Women’s rights.

Elizabeth was a saint compared to Ricky.

This is our Open Thread. What do you think?

The Watering Hole: February 18 – Frederick II and Barack Obama

Hohenstaufen Family Coat of Arms

Frederick II, the Holy Roman Emperor, was the creator of the Obama technique of winning a War with a minimum investment (human and financial). During the 6th Crusade, he managed to gain HRE control of Jerusalem along with a narrow corridor to the coast, using ink. Frederick had the diplomatic fortitude to use alliances and a bit of arm twisting to secure what he wanted, 15 years of governance over the Holy Territories. This is much like Barack Obama’s success in the Arab Spring and in Libya.

One thing that you can expect from a Democratic administration is the assumption that diplomacy will be tried before armed conflict becomes fact. After diplomacy fails or an actual attack has been opened, is war an option.

The clear division of the Democratic Party was precipitated by the Civil rights movement which converted Old South Democrats into either Republicans or DINOs. Somewhere between 1994 and 2004, the Republican Party assumed cult status.

The only plus from a Republican administration would be a softening of the unemployment issue when 20% of civilians are drafted into the armed forces.

Frederick II died in peace at the age of 55. Not to bad at that time when medicine was only in it’s infancy.

This is our Open Thread. Now, it’s your turn to debate.

The Watering Hole: February 11 – Newt I (Oops – Henry VIII)

One of the candidates for the 2012 election is Newt Gingrich. Newt has to be a clone of England’s King Henry VIII.

Newt shares the following “qualities” with good ole Henry.

  • Henry had six wives, Newt is on his third.

  • Henry was predeceased by four wives, Newt by one.

  • Both Henry and Newt remarried with one of their wives on the death bed.

  • Henry cheated on all of his spouses. Newt at least two and probably three.

  • Henry made the the Anglican Church into the Church of England in order to have a place to remarry, Newt changed churches on each of his marriages.

  • Both Henry and Newt considered themselves infallible.

  • Neither can be considered honest.

  • Henry died of complications of syphilis, Newt is spared by penicillin.

  • Both seem obese.

This is our Open Thread. I have presented only a few traits which both Henry and Newt share. Can you come up with some more?

The Watering Hole: February 4 – Faux pas (Plural: Faux paz)

“faux pas” (Plural – “faux paz”) is a applied military phrase from the French used to describe any voluntary step towards self defeat. One example is Napoleon’s campaign at the end of the Napoleonic era. We also borrow ‘Waterloo’ from that account. We now have the palindrome: “Able was I ere I saw Elba” delivered from that period.

This is more than appropriate for the 2012 campaign. Mitt Romney is a perfect example of one who seizes defeat from the jaws of victory. Should the Obama campaign pay him as a campaign supporter?

If he continues on this vein, Obama has only to replay his statements to win in November. Romney has to remain mute to win at all.

My father said of the Goldwater campaign that Barry was out to destroy the GOP, we can only hope that will happen on Mitt’s watch.

At the current pace, Nancy should set the House aright – the Senate is too close to call.

This is your Open Thread. Please feel free to broaden my perspective.

The Watering Hole: January 28 – Sun Tzu and Jan Brewer

Sun Tzu is a Chinese strategist who wrote “The Art of War”. He lived from 544 to 496 BC.

Now what do Sun Tzu and Jan Brewer have in common? He is one of those credited for the proverb – “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Arabs also claim credit for the proverb, but trail Sun Tzu in time.

Here, Jan Brewer has shown herself to be the enemy of Barack Obama at the airport in Mesa, Arizona. In turn, Jan Brewer has also shown herself to be the enemy of Hispanic people and Jan Brewer has already established herself as a spokesperson for the Conservative movement.

Combining the logic, Hispanic people should consider Barack Obama as their friend and will logically find an enemy in the Conservative movement.

Since Hispanics are the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States, Conservatives will have a tough row to hoe in current and future political campaigns.

This is our Open Thread. Should Democrats consider Jan as a supporter in the 2012 campaign? Your comments please.

The Watering Hole: January 21 – Foot in Mouth Syndrome

Newt Gingrich should consider Mitt Romney a priceless member of his campaign staff. From one of Newt’s sites:

If you want to see more, look here.

Mitt should be a lifetime recipient of the Foot in Mouth Award. If Mitt could only keep his mouth shut, he could easily become the GOP nominee for POTUS in the 2012 Election.

As it stands, should Mitt win the primary, Barack Obama has more than enough material for the Fall!

Mitt, the gift that keeps on giving.

This is your Open Thread. Who do you think will win in SC today? Why? If I were employed, I would start an office pool.

The Watering Hole: December 31 – What’s Really New?

Happy New Year everybody ! (about 23 hours and 29 minutes early)

Blurb from Popular Science - September, 1922

While doing some research on early 20th Century electronics, I hitched onto the above blurb. I explored a bit further and became even more convinced that every day is Groundhog Day. The articles were all sensational both then and now. Some were based on fact, and some on fantasy – according to more recent scientific findings. What is amazing is how often they were right.

To take a few examples from back then, these (plus the one above) offer a few examples of the absurd:

  • Electric Spark to Ignite Aviator’s Cigarette (Can’t do this, even in the lavatory!)
  • New Phonograph Built Like Human Ear (Hearing aid?)
  • Voting Machine Arrests “Repeater” (Don’t voter ID laws solve this?)
  • Will This “Whirling Leaf” Flying Machine Solve Greatest Problem in Aviation? (Pilot error?)
  • Typewriter Prints Whole Word at a Touch (Can it discern between “everybody” and “every body”?)

There is even a blurb on shale being the elixir for the nation’s energy problems!

Others can be harbingers of practically when adjusted to a practical design. For one:

  • Mirror at Blind Crossing Warns Motorists
    Now convex mirrors are prevalent examples of how this can be made practical.

Still all-in-all, ideas then were only limited by the science of the time. There were still some interesting thoughts on weaving together the fabric of the Universe around us. They even speculated on the existence of multiple universes. What makes human curiosity today differ from what it was then, from the Greek philosophers or the individual who first fashioned a stone ax? Leaves a bit for thought!

This is your Open Thread. Now it’s your time to think! Or opine.

The Watering Hole: December 24 – Semi Conductors

The semiconductor region of the periodic table

The mystery of semiconductors seems a bit difficult to understand, but it can be buttressed to a simple concept. Elements with a full outer band will exchange electrons on the basis of resistance governed by the acreage offered by each bond to the external world. This is the basis for the point contact transistor by Walter Brattain and John Bardeen. Shockley took this concept forward by doping semiconductors with help from his lab people.

All of the elements in the yellow column, above, are in electron balance that is they can be pushed in either way without resistance. That electron will travel in the direction of least resistance.

The elements in the orange and green columns when bonded in a sandwich will have a spare electron in the green column and those in the orange column will lack one. They present ‘Troll Crossing” where an electron traveling from the green column will have an easy task in moving while an electron in the orange column will be repelled by the extra electrons in the green column. When this is done by diffusing elements in columns orange and green into adjacent areas of a semiconductor (Silicon, Germanium or Arsenic) surface, regions with excess electrons and those with a surfeit will pass electrons from the excess to those lacking. The unification process produced is called doping. Semiconductors can be doped from both the yellow and blue columns, but the amplification factor is less dramatic.

That’s it for tonight. I can carry on in comments or a future thread,

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: December 17 – The Airport at Tegel

A C-54 (DC-4) landing at Tempelhof during the Berlin Airlift

Soon after the outbreak of World War I, the area now identified today as Tempelhof Airport was used for training military aerial reconnaissance crews and as an aircraft testing and fabrication center. Following WW I all aviation was discontinued by conditions from the Treaty of Versailles. On September 27, 1930, Rudolf Nebel began a rocket testing and research facility on the site. This was called the Raketenschießplatz Tegel. It was the base of German rocket development until 1937 when development was moved to the secret Peenemünde army research center.

During World War II, Tegel was used as a military training base. Tegel was leveled by Allied air forces in the war.
Continue reading

The Watering Hole: December 10 – Ada Lovelace

Augusta Ada King (nee Byron), Countess of Lovelace was an English writer and mathematician chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage’s analytical engine. Her notes from a translation of an article by Italian mathematician Luigi Menabrea, on that engine, included what is now recognized as the first computer algorithm. This was published in 1843. She is now considered the world’s 1st computer programmer.

In complete detail she delivers a method for calculating a sequence of Bernoulli numbers with Babbage’s Engine, which would have run correctly if the machine were actually built.

Researchers in Britain are about to embark on a 10-year, multimillion-dollar project to actually build Babbage’s machine. That machine will have only a tiny fraction of the computing power of current microprocessors. It will rely on metal gears and a card reader/punch based on Jacquard’s loom. Babbage never built his machine as he was always tinkering with its design.

What this machine may do, though, is answer a question that has tantalized historians for decades: Did an eccentric mathematician named Charles Babbage conceive of the first programmable computer in the 1830s, a hundred years before the idea was put forth by Alan Turing? While Lovelace’s algorithm has been validated by detailed mathematical proof, this machine would provide its beta test.

While Ada Lovelace was the pioneer of writing computer programs. She was not the only female computer pioneer. There are tens of 1,000s who follow in her footsteps. Adm. Grace Hopper, the mother of COBOL, the first compiler, comes immediately to mind.

This is our Open Thread. Today would be Ada Lovelace’s 196th birthday.

The Watering Hole: December 3 – Education

A Golden Apple for Education or Complete Failure

One of the aspects identified by the Occupy movement is the process of reducing our educational work force – teachers. As this process continues the number of students in each classroom increases. This dilutes the education of each and every child. Funds available for education are being cut at both the state and federal levels.

Tax relief for a privileged few has motivated bribes by “corporate persons” and the wealthy to members of Congress. These bribes were enabled by the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. Anyone making or receiving these bribes should be imprisoned.

This process has to stop if an adequate education is to be offered to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Those denied a proper education will never attain the education levels of their forbears. It is a threat greater than Condi’s ‘mushroom cloud.’ Right now an entire generation is being denied access to an adequate education.

This process has already diluted the value of a high school diploma to the point that an associate degree is required for access to jobs that were formally filled by those with a high school degree. That dilution goes up the scale for each degree level up to the doctorate level (But excluding PhDs in Divinity.) where some are still blessed with a full education.

If allowed to continue, our nation will lose its place in innovation. A future Einstein or Edison will miss an opportunity. At that point, America will begin to lose its place as a world power and slip into the third world or at best assume the same status that Britain has today. America will never recover as the end generation will lose its ability to provide children with an advanced education. The rest of the world will pass us by as a result.

This is our Open Thread. Am I being too pessimistic?

The Watering Hole: November 26 – Herman Potočnik(Noordung)


At the end of 1928 the Austro-Hungarian rocket engineer Herman Potočnik(Pseudonym -Hermann Noordung) (Here’s more.) set out a plan for the establishment of a permanent human presence in Earth orbit. He conceived of a space station and was the first to calculate the geostationary orbit at which the station would orbit the Earth and remain in constant contact with the country of origin.

Author Arthur C. Clarke is credited with proposing the notion of using geostationary orbits for communications satellites in 1945. The orbit was coined as the Clarke (But neither Noordung nor Potočnik) Orbit. Together, a collection of artificial satellites in these orbits is called the Clarke Belt. At that time, Clarke believed that human technology was at least 50 years away. He missed by 32 years.

Syncom 2 was the first communications satellite placed in a geosynchronous orbit in 1963. However, it was in an inclined orbit which caused it to wobble north and south, still requiring the use of moving antennas.

Syncom 3 was the first true geostationary communication satellite. It was launched from Cape Canaveral on August 19, 1964 using a Delta D. The satellite in orbit near the International Date Line was used to telecast the 1964 Summer Olympics from Tokyo to the United States.

Geostationary orbits have been in common use ever since, mainly for satellite television.

This is your Open Thread. Please feel free to add to the discussion.

The Watering Hole: Dateline November 19, 1863

Abraham Lincoln Leaving after Delivering his Address at Gettysburg - The tall guy

The committee for the Consecration of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg politely invited President Lincoln to speak thusly:

It is the desire that, after the Oration, you, as Chief Executive of the nation, formally set apart these grounds to their sacred use by a few appropriate remarks.

They expected nothing more than a few stumbling words to be offered by the buffoon from Illinois. Instead, Lincoln delivered an address that is woven into our nation’s fabric. He opened with:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

And ended with this phrase:

… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

These two excerpts from his 272 word address were bookends that paraphrased the foundation, the purpose and the future hopes of a nation that at that time was in the throes of a struggle for its very existence. They also bracket the lexicon that is America. Scarcely any American child who has studied our nation’s history is allowed to forget the meaning of the entire speech, but those two phrases are burned into every child’s memory.

From the core of that address comes this:

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, …

Those are the only words that are remembered by present day Republicans.

This is our Open Thread. What would Lincoln think if he were brought into this time? Would he think that the men who died at Gettysburg, died in vain?

The Watering Hole: November 5 – Then and Now


The Marshall Plan or the European Recovery Program (ERP) was the large-scale American program to aid Europe in which the United States (US) gave monetary support to help rebuild European economies after the end of WWII in order to combat the spread of Soviet communism.

The monies involved were $13 million in US aid (5% of US GDP, a drop in the bucket!) on top of $12 billion in American aid already spent in Europe up to that time.. The monies provided were eventually returned to the United States. In addition, Germany also repaid 16 billion marks of debts from the 1920s which had defaulted in the 1930s, but which Germany decided to repay to restore its reputation.

Former enemies as well as allies were recipients of this aid.

At that time, the US economy was, by far, the most powerful in the world.

During the Eisenhower(R?) administration the Interstate Highway System began as a military asset, but made it was available to every American.

This describes post-war America through the 1950s.

The United States put men on the moon in July 1969. The rescue of the crew in the Apollo 13 mission riveted the world in 1971. The rapid response to a potentially fatal outcome was diverted by United States’ can-do attitude and technological prowess.

The Space Shuttle was first launched in 1981, a heavy lift vehicle that has never been matched. It served for 30 years. It was used to assemble the International Space Station as well as deploy and repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

The collapse of the USSR between January 19, 1990 and December 31, 1991 left the United States as the sole major power on earth.


From then on, the United States has rested on its laurels. Tax revenues from corporations and the rich have been pared to the bone. The Iraqi invasion and occupation has depleted the national treasury simply because there were no “matching funds”. The nation was trying to drive a Lamborghini on a burger flipper’s salary. The solution was to slash entitlement and infrastructure programs which had served the nation very well since the mid 1930s.

Now China has been asked for assistance by European for assistance in support of the economic collapse resulting from weak economies in Greece, Italy and Spain. The US is in a position where it cannot help – the dollar is weak and US manufacturing is struggling at best! And China rebuffed the request until Europe gets its house in order.

Just this week, mainland China demonstrated a first step towards development of its own space station which when completed be truly international – available to all nations (There are nations denied access to the “International” Space Station.).

China is starting the development of naval airpower and stealth aircraft.

China is in the process of becoming a world power in solar energy conversion using either steam or silicon.

This is our Open Thread. Now how did we get into this fine kettle of fish?

The Watering Hole: October 29 – Old Vs. New

The TRF receiver was patented in 1916 by Ernst Alexanderson. His concept was that each stage would amplify the desired signal while reducing the interfering ones.

In the preceding circuit diagram, each of those circular things is a vacuum tube, each about the size of a reddi-whip can and each needs the equivalent of 16 watts of power. Add to that the power supplies and amplifiers, the total comes to about 160 watts. The total size was about that of a dorm fridge.

Now with integrated circuits, the total draw of a TRF system comes to about .46 watts in a package that contains but one 14 (7 in-line) terminal IC, one four terminal IC power amp and six passive components. The total size was about that of a deck of cards. The circuit is not that much different from the old:

The first diagram illustrates the world when I was born and the second, the state of the art 40 years ago. I was 30 in 1971- do you believe there have been changes since then?

This is our Open Thread. How do you think technology has changed since you were born? Remember that the Apple II, the first genuine home computer, was introduced on April 16, 1977.