December 19, 2013

Old tech in aerospace

Consider three levels of classroom technology:


The second doesn't do much that the first can't do, but dry erase markers are more convenient than chalk, so whiteboards are replacing 18th Century technology blackboards (but some teachers still prefer chalk due to the nicer smell, or whatever). 

Electronic smartboards can do more than either, but to get their full theoretical benefits they need a lot of systems integration that almost never gets done. So, some teachers make excellent use of their expensive Smartboards and others don't use them much at all and would prefer to just have 1960s technology whiteboards.

One thing I wanted to add to my article on the Education-Industrial Complex was that out of the three famous Skunk Works planes I mention in the article -- the 1950s U-2, the 1960s SR-71, and the 1970s F-117 -- the one that is still in service is the oldest and least technologically sophisticated: the U-2 that CIA put into service in 1957. It's basically a glider with jet engines. They keep upgrading the electronics in it and the more recent ones are somewhat redesigned while keeping the same basic shape but that's about it. It's cheap and very serviceable in situations where the folks being spied on don't have top notch SAMs or don't want to irritate the U.S. all that much by shooting it down. It was called the TR-1 for awhile, but they've gone back to the famous name -- why let Bono have it all to himself? It is currently intended to stay in service through 2023.

Here are some other famous old planes still in service with the U.S. military:

B-52 heavy bomber -- Introduced into service in 1955. Currently intended to stay in service into 2040s.

C-130 Hercules turboprop cargo plane -- in service since 1957. My father worked on this some when I was young, although my impression is that it didn't need much fixing. Mostly, they've just developed a remarkable number of specialized versions for different tasks.

KC 135 -- Refueling tanker (Boeing 707) since 1957

T-38 trainer -- Since 1961

P-3 Orion turboprop patrol plane. This subchaser has been in service since 1962. My dad worked on this a lot when I was a kid. It's modeled on the Electra passenger liner that became obsolete when jets came along, but it has been ridiculously useful has a high miles per gallon watchdog plane.

C-5 giant cargo plane -- in service since 1970. My dad flew down to Georgia to help out on this troubled project. Its development was enormously expensive and controversial in its day, but the ability to fly main battle tanks around turned out to be strategically crucial, so it's still here.

F-15 fighter -- since 1977

A-10 Warthog ground attack jet -- since 1977, although the Air Force has been trying to get rid of it since roughly 1978; but the lowly groundpounders like it. Supposed to be replaced by the F-35 Flying Panacea. Good luck with that.

F-16 fighter -- since 1978

This list divides fairly well into planes that were state of the art when introduced (e.g., B-52, KC-135, C-5, and F-15) and ones that were trailing tech even when new (e.g., C-130, T-38, P-3, A-10). The F-16 seems the only middling plane on the list of the enduring.

My father also spent years toiling on trying to make the F-104 Starfighter, which had been ultra-state of the art in the 1950s (twice the speed of sound), less lethal to its poor pilots. After Air Force pilots had grown terrified of it, the Lockheed brass "persuaded" the West German defense minister to buy it in the 1960s, so my dad had to work a lot of long nights trying to figure out how to keep what had been originally intended as essentially a high-altitude kamikaze interceptor to shoot down Soviet nuclear bombers in case of WWIII from killing so many West German pilots who had been sold it as an all-purpose low level all-weather fighter-bomber, a sort of A-10 Warthog with 7-foot wings.

The exceptionally brave Italian Air Force kept flying the F-104 until 2004. My father once asked an Italian air force general what their secret was since the West Germans were always complaining about how often their pilots crashed the F-104: "Why don't you crash?"

"Oh, we crash," the Italian general replied. "We just don't complain about it."

The state of the art progressed incredibly rapidly in aircraft design in the middle half of the 20th Century, but not all that much since then. (Stealth was a radical innovation at first, but with the computing power available now it's becoming easier to incorporate it into a conventional plane: recent stealth planes such as the F-22 don't look as weird as the Stealth Fighter.)

Some of that slowdown in innovation is that wars are winding down, so why bother working hard? 

Another reason is fundamental technological change such as missiles replacing aircraft. Back in the 1970s, Kelly Johnson originally objected that the stealth fighter was a waste of time since the future belonged to missiles. Ben Rich (whose brother was a sit-com writer) replied that "They call them missiles not hittles because you'll still need a pilot for a long time." But that was 38 years ago. Piloting airplanes, especially fighters (notice the F-117 was called the Stealth Fighter even though it didn't have any weapons for fighting other aircraft -- the "F" was chosen to attract the best pilots to fly such an awkward and dangerous plane), is still a glamor job and we'll likely keep it up for a long, long time, but there isn't as much urgency to get better at manned flight today.

A third is the decline in competition. Lockheed today is a giant oligopoly that bought up most of its competitors.

A fourth is that physical limits involving speed versus fuel consumption were banged up against pretty quickly in the early decades of the jet age. Everybody makes a big deal about Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in 1947, but supersonic flight has mostly been a dead end due to excessive fuel use and sonic booms. Yeager's feat remains a big deal not because we want to fly faster than sound very often but because flying almost as fast as sound is a very good thing, so breaking the sound barrier proved definitively that you could get close to the sound barrier.

Fifth, systems integration becomes more, not less trouble as you get more systems. The nightmarish F-35 roll-out is now largely hung up on software:
Pentagon officials ... cannot say when Lockheed will deliver the 8.6 million lines of code required to fly a fully functional F-35, not to mention the additional 10 million lines for the computers required to maintain the plane. The chasm between contractor and client was on full display on June 19, 2013, when the Pentagon’s chief weapons tester, Dr. J. Michael Gilmore, testified before Congress. He said that “less than 2 percent” of the placeholder software (called “Block 2B”) that the Marines plan to use has completed testing, though much more is in the process of being tested. (Lockheed insists that its “software-development plan is on track,” that the company has “coded more than 95 percent of the 8.6 million lines of code on the F-35,” and that “more than 86 percent of that software code is currently in flight test.”) Still, the pace of testing may be the least of it. According to Gilmore, the Block 2B software that the Marines say will make their planes combat capable will, in fact, “provide limited capability to conduct combat.” What is more, said Gilmore, if F-35s loaded with Block 2B software are actually used in combat, “they would likely need significant support from other fourth-generation and fifth-generation combat systems to counter modern, existing threats, unless air superiority is somehow otherwise assured and the threat is cooperative.” Translation: the F-35s that the Marines say they can take into combat in 2015 are not only ill equipped for combat but will likely require airborne protection by the very planes the F-35 is supposed to replace.

It will be interesting to see whether Google's plan to develop driverless cars turns out to be a quick fix or turns into a long ordeal like fighter development these days. Google doesn't hold itself to very high reliability even in old tech like Search: I frequently look up my old articles, and Google frequently loses them. The next time I look, however, it has found them. That's okay, it's a free service and it's not a big deal that it works 80% of the time and fails 20% of the time. (Alternatively, Google succeeds more than 80% of the time for most writers, but it's out to get me, which I would hardly be surprised by.)

But do I want to risk my life on the freeway to Google's hit or miss attitude? We'll see.

94 comments:

Mike said...

Google tends to like open source and clean modularity. Breaking software up into discrete chunks and developing a hobbyist ecosystem around your stuff isn't that hard but is a really great for preventing boondoggles.

And anyways, system integration is what Google *does*. Like, that's basically their whole schtick!

google.com : googlecar :: healthcare.gov : F35

Anonymous said...

The F-35 can't fly without a special helmet, and so far that has not been working. They brought an Israeli company into the helmet project and stopped issuing press releases about it. So who knows if it is fixed.

wren said...

It is absolutely amazing to see an instructor who knows how to get the most out of a smartboard from herself and her students.

This is one piece of tech that deserves to be in the classroom.

If only it were the same for every instructor.

wren said...

It is such a pleasure to bounce from one post to another, particularly from one about high functioning autism to one categorizing and discussing aerospace tech.

Yup, it's in your blood. And brain, too.

agnostic said...

The switch to white boards seems to be more about inverting the color scheme from light-on-dark to dark-on-light.

They aren't easier to erase, the markers dry out, you have to hose them down with cleaner, etc. No better or worse than chalk that got worn down, and blackboards that needed hosing down once there was too much dust residue.

Also, white boards could have been made in a dark color, and the markers in light/bright colors. If it were primarily about the materials and not the colors, we'd see a variety of color schemes in white boards, but little variety on the trait being selected for (the smooth surface and erasable ink).

Dark-on-light is easier to read when you're a passive observer taking in the text linearly. The audience finds it *much* easier to read than a blackboard. Lectures and presentations are now primarily for the benefit of the audience (not stubborn eccentric professors), so their preference for maximum readability has won out.

Light-on-dark, though, is better for the writer when they're playing around, improvising, checking things as they go along and correcting them, and so on. Light text on a dark background just does not feel so set-in-stone. You feel more free and comfortable to play it by ear. A mistake in white chalk on a blackboard isn't that embarrassing.

A mistake in dark marker on a bright white board feels more glaring, more definite, more difficult to say "Uh, I didn't mean to write that." The white background is like a spotlight or something, emphasizing your mistakes. The dark background is formless and indefinite, not like the brilliant beam of Judgement staring down on you.

People whose jobs involve constantly interacting with text, revising it, paying attention to changes, and so on, prefer light-on-dark color schemes. Computer coders and the Wall Street wiz kids who use those Bloomberg terminals.

http://akinokure.blogspot.com/2013/08/dark-on-light-color-schemes-making.html

Anonymous said...

The switch to white boards seems to be more about inverting the color scheme from light-on-dark to dark-on-light.

It had nothing to do with inverting the color scheme you moron. Black markers for writing on white surfaces like paper have been around forever. That was applied on a bigger scale with the white boards. People normally don't use white markers to write on dark surfaces.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about the US Army helicopters still in service. They're mostly from the 60's and 70's.

Boeing AH-64 Apache - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_AH-64_Apache

Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_UH-60_Black_Hawk

Bell OH-58 Kiowa - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bell_OH-58_Kiowa

Boeing CH-47 Chinook - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_CH-47_Chinook

Anonymous said...

Another older air frame used by all four branches.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechcraft_C-12_Huron

Bruce Charlton said...

I've given hundreds of lectures with blackboard and also with white. Black board or white has had a major impact on my work.

(I have never used 'smart' boards, and hope never to do so.)

I'm not sure why, but blackboard works better from the point of view of the attention and enjoyment of the audience.

Perhaps it is something about the way that the writing goes onto a Blackboard - from the lecturers POV there is a satisfaction from the slow shaping of the letters and numbers; from the audience's POV the writing emerges in a careful and deliberate fashion, and at the right speed for transcribing.

However, use of blackboard requires frequent board washing, good quality chalk - and is very unpleasant for the lecturer in terms of sore/dry hands and spoiled clothes.

(I used to coat my hands in petroleum jelly before each lecture, pushing it behind my fingernails.)

However, now there are no blackboards at all in my college - so it is white boards or nothing. Easier for me, worse for the students - although they will never know it.

But, IF we were mainly concerned about education rather than convenience, we would make the extra effort and we would still use blackboards.

(Indeed, we would probably use slateboards, such as we had when I taught in the Victorian buildings at Glasgow University. They really are magical!)

But of course we aren't mainly concerned about education, so we don't do these things.

Anonymous said...

@agnostic

So they couldn't invent a light chalkboard and dark chalk? Just being snarky.

I do prefer laser printed handouts to soaking smeared purple dittos, however. Except for the aroma, of course.

I also thought overhead projectors were awesome, especially when the teachers would turn off some of the lights.

rob said...

When programs like the F-35 Fantasy Fighter drag out for so long, especially with a near-monopoly 'supplier' as Lockheed I'm a bit suspicious. I'd be pretty sure the DOD has cut many a check since Lockheed got the contract in like '96.

Maybe a civilian version is Boston's Big Dig. The companies doing the digging got paid more the longer it took. They were also in charge of how long it would take. The generals involved in the project get hired by the contractor when they retire. Who has more knowledge of the project than the someone with 15 years experience on it? The contractors pay very well, but I'm sure no active officer has ever heard that from retired colleagues. Except I'm at least kinda wrong. Le Wik says the military program director knows they're being conned: No fancy consulting gig at Lockheed for him!

The Pentagon didn't even have a second string, an under study if you will, for their Joint Striker. Nope, they wanted the contractor calling all the shots.

Apparently the military is angry as shit at L-M.

So I I'll make a prediction: Lockheed is run by MBA, accounting, and financial types. NPV-maximization and shareholder value. Probably used to be run in large part by the engineers, right, or at least an engineer culture? By business school ethics, if one can con more money from customers without getting losing the market, it's unethical not to. Think of the shareholders!

Sailer, aerospace companies may not be as good at engineering and systems as one might wish

rob said...


I do prefer laser printed handouts to soaking smeared purple dittos...


Wow, I totally did not read the word 'dittos' correctly the first time! Whooping cough, whooping cranes...

Auntie Analogue said...


At the close of each school year my parochial school's janitor washed all of the classrooms' blackboards. After they dried he then oiled them, so that when we returned in September the oil had evaporated and left the boards a deep, uniform black, as if they were massive, half-polished slabs of ebony.

We got to know who were the little brown-noses among us. They were the boys who volunteered to the nuns to stay after school to clap the erasers to rid them of accumulated chalk dust. Girls never volunteered to perform this task, as airborne chalk dust would impregnate and discolor girls' navy blue uniform jumpers, forcing moms to launder & iron them again mid-week instead of just once over the weekend.

In my high school and at university all of the blackboards were green, but greenboards never became the term for them (in fact spell-checker just red-underscored "greenboards" as soon as I typed it); the greenboards were still called blackboards, or chalkboards, or simply "the board."

So green blackboards were never called greenboards. And now smart boards which, like blackboards and greenboards, aren't actually boards, because none of these are wood, are they? Further, smart boards aren't actually smart, are they? On their own they could not sit, let alone score, the SAT, PISA, or any other test, could they?

Discard said...

I wanted a whiteboard in my class, so I made my own. The stuff is called "melarmine", and it was $16 bucks for a 4X8 sheet at Home Depot. It's used for cheap bathroom walls or something.
Maybe I never used anything but cheap chalk, but reading the white board was far easier than a blackboard. I used different colors for contrast, or to emphasize something. I could put a set of X and Y coordinates up with a Sharpie and a ruler and it would last a week or more. (Tip: To take permanent marker off a whiteboard, trace over it with the regular whiteboard marker and wipe it.)
Agnostic: If you use them, whiteboard markers don't dry out, they run out. I would go through a package of 14 different colors every month.
I've never even seen a smart board, but I suspect that it's just another teaching technoscam, like classroom computers. Money for contractors and something for politicians to brag about. Actual teaching is about a teacher connecting with students. The whiteboard allows you to express yourself with text and drawings as well as verbally. If the kids didn't get something, I could regroup and try something else on the spot. The human brain, two hands, and a whiteboard. No better teaching technology exists.

Alec said...

In many cases, "standard is better than better." If you can entirely redesign a platform for an x% gain in function, are you really better off than if you can redesign a component for a standard platform for an (x-y)% gain in function, given that a new platform requires changes in the entire supply and maintenance chain and a component change is a small fraction of that?

Look at M1911 pistols (over 100 years in service) and AR-15 and AK-47 style rifles (over 50 years in service each). None of these platforms is perfect, but they are each good enough, standard enough (to provide a decent baseline), and modular enough (to allow for incremental improvement) to endure.

Black Sea said...

"I've never even seen a smart board, but I suspect that it's just another teaching technoscam . . ."

For my sins, last year I had to investigate the possibility of implementing smartboard technology at the university where I work. After a fair amount of reading and some consultation, I came to the conclusion that smartboards are just really expensive, potentially breakable whiteboards, unless the instructor is quite well-trained in how to use them and consistenly does use them in class. For most instructors, neither is the case.

Despite the fact that I didn't see any point in buying them, I was under some pressure to purchase at least three or four, if only for trial purposes. I think a lot of decisions in education work this way. People are under pressure to produce better outcomes, but with the student population you have, maybe the outcomes are about as good as you're likely to get. But no one wants to say that. So, you install smartboards, you video conference with your students, you post assignment links on your webpage, etc. simply to be seen to be doing something. Even if it makes little difference in the outcomes, it looks forward thinking and "active," and sometimes that's enough.

Anonymous said...

What can you do with an electronic smartboard that you can't do with a whiteboard and a cellphone camera?

Anonymous said...

Look at M1911 pistols (over 100 years in service) and AR-15 and AK-47 style rifles (over 50 years in service each). None of these platforms is perfect, but they are each good enough, standard enough (to provide a decent baseline), and modular enough (to allow for incremental improvement) to endure.

laws and nostalgia

Simon in London said...

I hate the damn smart boards introduced at my work a few years ago - I just want to write on the board, and they are terrible for that. Somebody thought 'more tech = better', but they are objectively worse for our purposes than the low tech whiteboards they replaced.

David M. said...

"C-130 Hercules turboprop cargo plane -- in service since 1957. My father worked on this some when I was young, although my impression is that it didn't need much fixing."

My experiences with the C-130 left me with the impression that they need plenty of fixing now. For instance, I was ferried back and forth across Iraq at low altitude because the pilots couldn't get the landing gear up. But I guess that's what you should expect from a 40-50 year old plane.

"A-10 Warthog ground attack jet -- since 1977, although the Air Force has been trying to get rid of it since roughly 1978; but the lowly groundpounders like it."

Yes, the Air Force almost managed to get rid of the A-10, but then the Army offered to take the planes off their hands, and suddenly the Air Force decided they wanted them after all.

5371 said...

I think Google will never actually sell a product of this kind, it's just a PR action.

Anonymous said...

The great thing about standards is that there are so many to choose from!

jack strocchi said...

I read some where that the USAF is now training more drone "pilots" than manned aircraft pilots. Surely drones are a step change technology since their principle of development is to become simpler individually but perform complex activities collectively, following the hive mind model. So the "systems integration" technology problems are subsumed by organic integration.

They will be like swarms of insects or bacterial clouds.

Technology will evolve to mimic biology.

Cail Corishev said...

I haven't calculated it, but it seems to me that dry-erase markers have to be much more expensive than chalk. They don't last that long, especially if kids are using them, because they'll forget to put the caps back on or shove the tip down into the thing. Since you can buy a whole bucket of sidewalk chalk cheaper than a single set of whiteboard markers, the markers must cost a lot more. The whiteboards themselves aren't exactly cheap either.

Anonymous said...

In the case of the F-104, the point was not only bravery on the part of the Italians. They also employed the F-104 in its original role of high-performing high-altitude interceptor, which meant that there was more time for the pilot to correct any mistakes or eject. Ergo, less deaths.
The Germans, however, stuck with the plane as a low-level bomber, where it proved deadly.

Cail Corishev said...

"Google tends to like open source"

Please point me to the download location for Google's search engine or indexer. Also Google Reader -- now that they've abandoned it, surely they released the source code so that someone else could try supporting it, right?

Google is fond of open source for others. Not so much for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Maybe Airplane technology hasn't advanced very much since the 1950's since there isn't much left to steal from the ideas of people like the Horten brothers or Willy Messerschmitt of Germany, and Germany has been focusing on things other than armaments for the past several decades.

The "American" space program run by Werner von Braun's crew is another example of this. Not much progress since those guys passed on.

Corridor Hanes said...

"Google doesn't hold itself to very high reliability even in old tech like Search: I frequently look up my old articles, and Google frequently loses them. The next time I look, however, it has found them. "

I think this could be because you write a lot about things which are not supposed to notice, and which go against the narrative.

Searching for anything else on Google, I don't run into these issues.

Steve Sailer said...

It's kind of like how one of Jet Propulsion Laboratory founders Jack Parsons was always on the phone as a Pasadena teenager in 1927 to one of his rocket science schoolboy buddies, Werner von Braun. Parson's parents finally got the intercontinental long distance bill and found out where young Werner lived ...

gubb said...

The whole iPad-for-everyone thing is like the ownership society: give everyone a home and everyone will become middle class. It got the dynamics reversed. Home is the fruit of hard work ans saving, not the guarantor of hard work and saving(if provided virtually for free with easy loans).

The iPad program is like the notion that we should hand our Air Jordans to everyone in the hope of turning everyone into NBA stars. While a good pair of shoes is certainly an advantage, it is not crucial to what makes a good player.
And you're not gonna turn every kid into Sugar Ray Robinson by supplying him with expensive gloves.
And you're not gonna turn everyone into a great musician by supplying him with expensive pianos, violins, or guitars. Many great rock guitarists learned the basics with old used cheapie guitars. They were able to afford expensive guitars only after they made it.

And you're aren't gonna turn someone into a great writer by providing him with expensive pens or custom made keyboards.

While basic tools are necessary for certain tasks, to master the basics(and even more), you don't need the fanciest tools. It's really about innate talent, quality of instruction, commitment to learn, and pressure to do the work(mostly from parents).

Not every girl is gonna be a great ballerina because she is presented with the most expensive ballerina shoes.
In our technology obsessed culture, we have a tendency to see technology as a panacea than as a mere tool. It can help but only if there is commitment and innate talent in those who use it.

Otherwise, anyone with a calculator would be Einstein.

Anonymous said...

During my academic career, I wrote on all sorts of surfaces. By the best was polished slate using chalk. White boards with markers was a nuisance. All the markers were always dry, and cleaning the boards was hard. It seemed to mean that smart boards were pointless.

My university started putting high tech projection systems in large classrooms, and we had to use Power Point in them. The inability to modify Power Point on the fly meant that the rooms also had old fashioned overhead projectors, and of course two screens.

All in all, new tech in the classroom was a bust.

By the way, if your child is in the infantry, you had better hope there is an A10 nearby rather than an F35. Better yet a B52.

The radar cross section reduction fetish is giving us short duration, short range, lightly armed aircraft that function best at night. You can see them you know, and almost all dog fight are at visual range and under 500 mph with guns.

dearieme said...

There's something about aviation history that seems odd. The first heavier-than-air flight was by the Wright bros. But the big innovations thereafter were radar (British), jet engines (British and German), and, if you are interested in naval aviation, the steam catapult (British). "Outside the envelope" you have the cruise missile (the German V1) and the ballistic missile (the German V2).

Why did the US come to be so poor at development for decades? Heavens, even in WWII they were initially outclassed by the Japanese fighters, and their own best fighter was a dud until they put British engines into it. Rum, eh?

Anonymous said...

How about the F/A-18 Hornet?. At twenty plus years old, also a pretty venerable aircraft. When I was a kid I had a poster of it on my wall.

Anonymous said...

'tech' in education - particular wit developing the fundamentals is NOT helpful - For example a great book on neuroplasticity cited a study that showed that ADD was virtually eliminated in young boys who learned 1. penmanship 2. learned to recite long poems -two things that were jettisoned in the 1960s.

Anonymous said...

Smartboards? What would a nun do now to punish someone for acting up in class without boards to wash and erasers to clap?

Anonymous said...

(C-5) "Its development was enormously expensive and controversial in its day, but the ability to fly main battle tanks around turned out to be strategically crucial, so it's still here."

I wonder. If so, how often has it been done? My guess is a few tanks at the beginning of the Gulf War, a few at the beginning of the War in Iraq, and that's about it. In other words, even with the giant plane, the utility of flying one tank (vs. 100,000 pounds of other supplies) is probably not there.

Another way of looking at it: if you have the runway, logistics, and air domination necessary to support the flight of a C-5 into a combat zone, you have the runway, logistics, and air domination necessary to insure that one tank isn't that important-your air domination with air-to-ground ability does everything one or a few tanks could do, better.

anon

Anonymous said...

White board. Black board. As an artist/engineer I suggest you look to the superb drawings of the Renaissance for your prototype.

Mick and the gang used a colored ground, (light beige, burnt orange, pale grey or soft green) and used a whitish tone to bring out the highlights and a darker tone for the shadows. The best of both worlds. A synthesis that would make Hegel himself smile.

Try it. Your drawing will improve immediately. Perhaps because you're not spending so much time getting everything into the right ballpark value-wise. Of course they were modeling for 3-D, and not just graphing data so maybe this is irrelevant.

But maybe it is. I took a college level course in power mechanics. The prof was the genius head of one of America's most successful experimental automobile design programs. That guy could produce the most AMAZING 3-D cutaway drawings on the blackboard with colored chalk, all the while holding forth on the Carnot or Rankine cycle in steady measured tones. I came to the (perhaps rash) conclusion that if a person could draw something, then they could build it.

From my own experience, I have found this to be the case. If I follow up a orthographic drawing with a 3-D representation, I have it down cold.

superboy said...

"The human brain, two hands, and a whiteboard. No better teaching technology exists."

Yes. I've never been a teacher, but I had to give a lot of speeches and presentations in college, and unless the prof required PowerPoint (shudder), I would write by hand on the whiteboard everything I wanted to present to my captive audiences. I was the only student who did this -- everyone else used PowerPoint, which I hated because it means you have to turn the lights down low (snoooooze) and it means hitting your audience with a buttload of information all at once, instead of writing it out bit by bit as needed and at a pace that is comfortable to apprehend. Also, writing on a whiteboard builds anticipation and holds audience attention, whereas PowerPoint is just an in-four-face datadump that's hard to focus on and doesn't build anticipation in the least.

Smartboards are just a moronic extension of PowerPoint -- PowerPoint on roids.

Anonymous said...

The exceptionally brave Italian Air Force kept flying the F-104 until 2004. My father once asked an Italian air force general what their secret was since the West Germans were always complaining about how often their pilots crashed the F-104: "Why don't you crash?"

"Oh, we crash," the Italian general replied. "We just don't complain about it."


So they kept the deaths secret?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Air_Force#Cold_War
(...)
In 1960 the Luftwaffe received it first Lockheed F-104 Starfighter jets. The Starfighter remained in service for the entire duration of the Cold War, with the last being taken out of service in 1991. The Luftwaffe received a total of 916 Starfighter, 292 of which crashed resulting in the deaths of 116 pilots. The disastrous service record of the Starfighter led to the Starfighter crisis in 1966 as a reaction to 27 Starfighter crashes with 17 casualties in 1965 alone. The West German public referred to the Starfighter as the Witwenmacher (widow-maker), fliegender Sarg (flying coffin), Fallfighter (falling fighter) and Erdnagel (tent peg, literally "ground nail").
(...)

Power Child said...

I had no idea they were still using either the U-2 or the F-15. Didn't spy satellites make the U-2 and the SR-71 obsolete? And wasn't the F-22 supposed to put the F-15 to bed?

I've lived and/or worked near both MCAS and Wright Patterson, and I'm pretty confident in my ability to visually identify any of the planes you listed by standing on the ground and looking up, even though my eyesight isn't great.

Near Wright Patt they were constantly flying the C-4 overhead, with occasional appearances made by F-16s and C-130s.

MCAS was a bit more interesting: F-18s, Chinooks, and--to my surprise--Ospreys (I thought they got rid of these because they crashed so often), all on a nearly daily basis, with occasional appearances by what looked like the C-130 (or, come to think of it, maybe the P-3?) and Apache and Sea King helicopters.

Speaking of helicopters, don't they still fly Hueys? I know some of those choppers they still use are decades old, anyway.

Unknown said...

Speaking of old great planes, or great old planes nothing compares to the DC-3s (C-47s) that flew the Hump between China and India in WWII (Disclosure--my Dad was in the Army Air Corps in Kunming China). If you take a close look at the Miami Airport, some of them are still flying Caribbean routes--or at least they were in the 1990s.

Yeagermeister said...

The F-104 arguably has the best sound of any plane: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6K4iSxET6g . Is it what George Lucas used for Tie Fighters?

Also, Turkey was one of the largest users of the plane.

ironrailsironweights said...

The U-2 is the reason why the Air Force owns a fleet of high-performance cars such as Camaros and Corvettes. U-2's are extremely difficult to land. To assist the pilots, a spotter drives behind each landing aircraft at 140+ mph, calling out instructions to the pilot.

Peter

Craig said...

When I first glanced at this I though Blackboard (with a capital B) referred to the software I and many others use in teaching our university courses. But I assume it refers to the old-fashioned slate board with chalk!

Anonymous said...

In 1990 LA had about 160,000 workers and Orange at 50,000 even if the space program finally takes off where Virgin Airlines gets rich people in orbit aerospace will not produce the jobs it did in the past there are a lot of robots and automation. In fact aerospace was the Republicans last big hope in California since after the aerospace left the white vote went more Democratic.

my gumby is yours said...

Give dogs iBones and their gnawledge will improve.

Mr. Anon said...

One reason for the increased costs and delays in the introduction of new weapons is the extreme risk-averseness and bureaucratization that has infected western society. The pentagon has grown more risk averse, just as NASA has. More and more time and money gets squandered in panels, reviews, boards, and management-guru fads like EVM.

Anonymous said...

Well, when aerospace which was Ronald Reagan's biggest job creation went south from the early 1990's, the Republican Party did worst in the non-South, In fact defense spending and commercial spending which the left hated is the reason why the right did good in the past and why it isn't doing good outside of certain locations. In fact people supported less traditional welfare when the aerospace spending gave them jobs with benefits

Anonymous said...

Don't NASA still run a couple of B57 Canberras, a development of a 1953 Brit bomber?

Chuck Njiall said...

Manned aircraft aren't going anywhere. The loss rate for drones would blow your mind. This with enemies who don't shoot back, mind you. Advances in Electronic attack will make all drones obsolete sooner rather than later. Too vulnerable to malicious code inserted through data links or uploaded as a sensor return. Future is large very fast manned fighter bombers with long range passive optical sensors. HOTOL and SABRE will revolutionize military aircraft in a way we haven't seen since the introduction of reliable pgms.

neil craig said...

For some years truck sized lasers capable of hitting shells in flight have existed. That means shooting planes out of the sky is also possible.

For some reason countries with air arms have not been keen on exploiting this capability, but it may be part of the reason new planes are not being developed.

Anonymous said...

"the Lockheed brass "persuaded" the West German defense minister to buy it in the 1960s"

The story's in Anthony Sampson's "The Arms Bazaar".

Anonymous said...

causesAnd the moral of the story is:there was absolutely no justification for flooding the US with Asians. White America managed quite well without them for years in the tech field.

I'd say someone is lying-bigtime.

Same story about Gruman Corp where my late father worked on the LEM and the F-14 Tom Cat.

Gruman-Northrop has a great big sign that says:Gruman-Northrop,a Global Force for Global Good!! Gruman is located in Bethpage NY. The area around Gruman has been completely colonized by India...Invade the World Invite the World.

The "US" Military budget could have and should have been cut by 80-to 90 percent in the late 1950s. If this had been done, America would still be 90 percent White. And NASA would still be 99 percent White American Male. Can you repost that old photo of the NASA Control Room Steve...that picture is worth a thousand words.

Bill Blizzard and his Men

pat said...

More planes. Less golf.

Albertosaurus

Paul Mendez said...

The best thing about chalkboards was they provided missiles for eraser fights. Not only did hitting someone good by an eraser hurt like Hell, but it left a big chalky imprint showing where you nailed your opponent that would last all day.

You could also pound a really dirty eraser into someone's hair until it turned it into a gray, matted tangle that needed to be washed out.

sunbeam said...

Steve Sailer wrote:

"It's kind of like how one of Jet Propulsion Laboratory founders Jack Parsons was always on the phone as a Pasadena teenager in 1927 to one of his rocket science schoolboy buddies, Werner von Braun. Parson's parents finally got the intercontinental long distance bill and found out where young Werner lived ..."

Ha ha ha. If you don't already know the story, you really ought to pull the string on that guy.

He's got everything: 1930's Hollywood moustache, Aleister Crowley, L. Ron Hubbard, sex, occultism/satanism, a "moonchild," you name it, he's got it. Heck Heinlein was kind of peripherally involved with him.

I'm surprised you Hollywood cats never made a movie about or inspired by him.

Talk about source material in your own backyard.

I particularly enjoy his interactions with L. Ron. Let's face it, occultism doesn't help you at all when you engage with the Griftmaster Supreme.

Big Bill said...

"B-52 heavy bomber -- Introduced into service in 1955. Currently intended to stay in service into 2040s."

The B-52: 250,000 parts flying in close formation.

america is a communist country said...

"But do I want to risk my life on the freeway to Google's hit or miss attitude?"

will we have a choice?

Simon in London said...

Cail Corishev said...
"I haven't calculated it, but it seems to me that dry-erase markers have to be much more expensive than chalk. They don't last that long, especially if kids are using them, because they'll forget to put the caps back on or shove the tip down into the thing. Since you can buy a whole bucket of sidewalk chalk cheaper than a single set of whiteboard markers, the markers must cost a lot more. The whiteboards themselves aren't exactly cheap either."

White boards are fine for teaching staff, and it's staff who use them. A box of whiteboard markers lasts me several years. And unlike smartboards, they rarely break.

pat said...

The principal reason the F-35 is taking so long is the F-15.

In the second half of WWII we - the Allies - developed the P-51 fighter. This alone is an indication of why we won the war. The Japanese had a world beating fighter in the Zero in 1937. But they never could develop a successor plane. The Zero was better than the American Wild Cat that we had in the early months of the war. But not as good as the Hellcat or Corsair that we then brought out.

The Nazis began the war with the excellent BF-109 and they were able to develop another first rate conventional fighter during the war in the FW-190. But we developed more new planes faster.

The P-51 development was more difficult politically than any modern comparable development because it involved two nations with different national agendas- The US and England. But all that was quickly overcome because of wartime necessity. Messersmidts were shooting down Spitfires and P-40s and B-17s.

But today we are at peace - at least in the stratosphere. There is not only no other plane shooting down our current F-15s, there never has been a plane that could shoot down an F-15. If we were to delay the F-35 some more, what would be our cost in US pilot lives - none. There is no enemy on the horizon who will deploy a better fighter than the F-15. That means we can wait. We are not in a hurry.

The main quality a general provides in these situations is the ability to make tough decisions. For example I talk about in my video on the Tuskegee Airman how Jimmy Doolittle decided to risk bomber aircrews to spare infantry lives at Normandy. Except of course for the black pilots who were not flying under the same rules.

But today in peacetime there are no tough decisions. We don't need generals. There is no pressure to replace the world beating F-15 with something even better. American pilots are not dying because the F-15 is meeting superior fighters in dig fights.

The F-35 may never be deployed at all. Drones are getting better all the time. The last human flown air superiority deployed in any numbers may be the F-15 - not the F-35 or F-22.

Albertosaurus

Chad Vader said...

Reason #6 is who we have been fighting. The Soviet designers weren't as good as the Germans. Their philosphy of making weapons that were reliable but inexpensive and easy to operate worked well for them, but it didn't put as much pressure on us to innovate. Since the cold war we have been facing nations who's weapon designers were either horrible or nonexistant, so they used obsolete Soviet stuff. If our enemy does not have technological parity with us, there just isn't that much pressure to innovate.

Douglas Knight said...

Google reliability: there are many forms of reliability. Google emphasizes graceful degradation.

Next time google loses one of your articles, record the details and write a post about it. Record the search so that you can check that the results really change, and not that you changed your search terms. And compare with Bing.

Anonymous said...

The smartboard jungle.

they darynnu said...

Completely OT, but here's one revenge movie I'd love to see.

Working class white dude, loving but errant father, parolee, tattooed, discovers his 14 year old son is being sodomized by a rich gay man.

Dad goes on a Death Wish revenge spree.

Think Hollywood will ever make a movie like that?

Probably not, but we can hope. Maybe the Robertsons will become the Tyler Perrys of the south. Screw Hollywood and make your own movies.

SUPPORT PHIL ROBERTSON.

Anonymous said...

The area around Gruman has been completely colonized by India...Invade the World Invite the World.

When did we invade India?

Anonymous said...

There's something about aviation history that seems odd. The first heavier-than-air flight was by the Wright bros. But the big innovations thereafter were radar (British), jet engines (British and German), and, if you are interested in naval aviation, the steam catapult (British). "Outside the envelope" you have the cruise missile (the German V1) and the ballistic missile (the German V2).

Why did the US come to be so poor at development for decades? Heavens, even in WWII they were initially outclassed by the Japanese fighters, and their own best fighter was a dud until they put British engines into it. Rum, eh?


And yet US planes are the class of the world. Either the discoveries you highlighted weren't that important or the USA's spies are a lot better than advertised.

Anonymous said...

Remember that the F-22 hasn't seen combat yet because it has the tendency to choke out the pilot when they start performing maneuvers.

Chuck Schick said...

Unknown said..."Speaking of old great planes, or great old planes nothing compares to the DC-3s (C-47s) that flew the Hump between China and India in WWII (Disclosure--my Dad was in the Army Air Corps in Kunming China). If you take a close look at the Miami Airport, some of them are still flying Caribbean routes--or at least they were in the 1990s."

Miami's "Corrosion Corner" - where the air freighters that hauled stuff all over the Caribbean - has moved to the Opa-Locka Airport (OPF). Lots of great old piston-engine airliners working out of there.

Anonymous said...

Parson's parents finally got the intercontinental long distance bill and found out where young Werner lived

This doesn't sound believable to me. Calling Europe in 1927 was a really big deal. It's not something kids did. It's not something ANYONE did unless there was some compelling reason and even then you would probably send a telegram instead unless you were a head of state or a Wall Street tycoon.

K

Robin Olds said...

Anonymous said..."Remember that the F-22 hasn't seen combat yet because it has the tendency to choke out the pilot when they start performing maneuvers."

Utter nonsense. The physical limitations of a pilot serving as the performance limiter on tactical aircraft was an issue in WW2.

Airplanes capable of putting their pilots to sleep due to high g-loads have been in service for 60+ years. My father maxed out the g-meter (about 9 G's) in an F-86 back in the mid-1950's.

Over and above physical training, g-suits, and 1960's developments such as semi-reclined cockpit seats, airplanes such as the F-16 have had g-limiting code in the software since the 1970's.

Anonymous said...

@Robin Olds

Good grief. What a no nothing blowhard.

"Starting in 2010, the F-22 was plagued by problems with its pilot oxygen systems which contributed to one crash and death of a pilot. In 2011 the fleet was grounded for four months before resuming flight operations, but reports of oxygen systems issues have continued.[13] In July 2012, the Air Force announced that the hypoxia-like symptoms experienced were caused by a faulty valve in the pilots' pressure vest; the valve was replaced and changes to the filtration system were also made."

This is literally thirty seconds of research.

Gene Berman said...

dearieme:

Japan's most famous WWII fighter, the Zero, was designed by Howard Hughes (rejected by US Navy).

Anonymous said...

A lot of ghetto blacks practiced with rusty baskets on cracked asphalts but they turned out to be great basketball players.

They didn't need no iHoops.

Anonymous said...

There's something about aviation history that seems odd. The first heavier-than-air flight was by the Wright bros. But the big innovations thereafter were radar (British), jet engines (British and German), and, if you are interested in naval aviation, the steam catapult (British). "Outside the envelope" you have the cruise missile (the German V1) and the ballistic missile (the German V2).

Why did the US come to be so poor at development for decades? Heavens, even in WWII they were initially outclassed by the Japanese fighters, and their own best fighter was a dud until they put British engines into it. Rum, eh?


And yet US planes are the class of the world. Either the discoveries you highlighted weren't that important or the USA's spies are a lot better than advertised.


The nations you mention were on a war footing earlier than the US, which leads to more competition, more funding and more innovation. The US did not get involved in WW1 until 1917. At that time France was probably the leading aviation nation.

The US came relatively late to WW2 after the British and Germans had already been playing cat and mouse for a while. We had to relearn lessons the other nations had already learned.

After WW2 the US assumed a more aggressive alert posture during the Cold War, and even engaged in several hot wars. So it is not surprising that funding increased, and our innovation went up during this time.

Steve Sailer said...

The German experience during WWII is a good example of the inferiority of technological magic bullet innovations over systems integration. The Nazis big triumph was the blitzkrieg over France in 1940. Their technology wasn't too impressive by 1940s standards, but they got airplanes, tanks, and infantry working together.

After that, Hitler goofed around with Wonder Weapons. The Germans invented ridiculous numbers of them like the jet fighter, the rocket plane, the cruise missile, and the ballistic missile, but the earlier German emphasis on coordination was de-emphasized.

Anonymous said...

The wings fell off the Joint Strike Fighter program(F-35 and X-32) when they allowed the USMC to put their two cents into the project and demand a vertical landing variant. From the get-go both design groups had to design their project with the marine variant in mind. Apparently from the article you linked, the marine version is still causing headaches.

Steve Sailer said...

Lockheed tried to make a vertical takeoff propeller plane in the 1940s:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_XFV

Pilots couldn't figure out how to land it safely while looking over their shoulders.

Anonymous said...

After that, Hitler goofed around with Wonder Weapons. The Germans invented ridiculous numbers of them like the jet fighter, the rocket plane, the cruise missile, and the ballistic missile, but the earlier German emphasis on coordination was de-emphasized.

True, but when you are outnumbered, you need game changing technological advancements. Though conventional German fighters like the later generation ME-109 and FW-190 were more than capable of taking on the allies, when you are outnumbered 10 to 1, you are up a creek.

Svigor said...

Look at M1911 pistols (over 100 years in service) and AR-15 and AK-47 style rifles (over 50 years in service each). None of these platforms is perfect, but they are each good enough, standard enough (to provide a decent baseline), and modular enough (to allow for incremental improvement) to endure.

I'm under the impression that the 1911 is as popular as it is because 1) it's now a public domain design (apparently this takes a while - from what I understand, the Browning Hi-Power still isn't) and 2) USA! USA! USA!. Nothing I read makes me want to buy one.

On the other hand, it does seem to qualify as "good enough" (other old designs don't seem to attract nearly as much attention), so you do have a point.

Education Realist said...

Smartboards are just a moronic extension of PowerPoint -- PowerPoint on roids.

This is idiotic. Smartboards are whiteboards on roids. They have nothing to do with powerpoint.

There are teachers who write as they go along, and there are teachers who have it all written first. The second group likes power point. The first doesn't. There's nothing inherently superior about one to the other.

Chalk dust doesn't co-exist well with computers, which is why corporations began with whiteboards. Whiteboards penetrated school because of asthma concerns, probably ill-founded. Chalk is much cheaper than white board markers, but is a pain in the ass to write with. I hate chalk.

First year out, I had nothing but whiteboards. Second and third, I had a document camera, which is awesome. Fourth year, I lost the document camera, which I missed, but coped without. Now I have a promethean with a document camera. I didn't get any training with the promethean, and it's still useful if only to move from page to page and go back to previous boards. Plus, much easier to save work and post it than to take pictures of my work (and I'd often forget). That is, white board on roids is not a bad thing.

That said, I have tons of whiteboards and if you made me choose between wall to wall whiteboards and the promethean, I'd give up the promethean.

Melykin said...

Rather than a smartboard, I think a tablet computer (with a digitizer pen) attached to a projector is the way to go. I have been teaching with one for several years. You can import notes or PowerPoint into a program such as Windows Journal or OneNote, and ink on top of them with the pen. Or just ink on a blank page if you prefer. You can change the colour of the "ink" at will, or the thickness of the pen, or use highlighters. Erasing is a snap. You can select what you have written or drawn and move it around and resize it. The resulting notes can be saved and shared with students. (You can do all this with Smart boards too, I think.) Here is an example:

http://flic.kr/p/itR82W

The new "Surface Pro 2" computer/tablet by Microsoft comes with a digitizer pen.

http://surface.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/html/pbPage.PDPS/productID.286866600?siteID=9e1vMmumXG0-PjqrPeeAgEMH9Uk_a5Vs2w


(You can also write on an iPad but the input is sort of coarse, with thick lines.)

Melykin said...

Rather than a smartboard, I think a tablet computer (with a digitizer pen) attached to a projector is the way to go. I have been teaching with one for several years. You can import notes or PowerPoint into a program such as Windows Journal or OneNote, and ink on top of them with the pen. Or just ink on a blank page if you prefer. You can change the colour of the "ink" at will, or the thickness of the pen, or use highlighters. Erasing is a snap. You can select what you have written or drawn and move it around and resize it. The resulting notes can be saved and shared with students. (You can do all this with Smart boards too, I think.) Here is an example:

http://flic.kr/p/itR82W

The new "Surface Pro 2" computer/tablet by Microsoft comes with a digitizer pen.

http://surface.microsoftstore.com/store/msusa/en_US/html/pbPage.PDPS/productID.286866600?siteID=9e1vMmumXG0-PjqrPeeAgEMH9Uk_a5Vs2w


(You can also write on an iPad but the input is sort of coarse, with thick lines.)

Anonymous said...

Basler BT-67 (Turbo DC-3) is used by USAF according to Wikipedia and UH-1Y Huey (1956) is used by USMC.

The Wobbly Guy said...

Agree with Melykin. I use Microsoft Windows Journal in conjunction with whiteboards, markers, and projector screens.

I mix it up - sometimes I use the tablet/pen combo, and sometimes to drive home a point, I'll take away the projection screen and whiteboard marker directly on the image on the whiteboard.

Generally, I prefer a wide whiteboard with the projector screen covering half of it. The half not covered by the screen can be used to show examples, answer questions from the students, or to get them to present their answers. The half covered by the screen is used to flash-dump information or key concepts which they have to use to answer and understand questions.

Lessons are semi-structured - rather than hearing my own voice all the time, I speak about 20-30% of the time on the notes I have prepared. Another 20% for students to answer questions I shoot at them and make their own notes, the remaining 50% for them to think, exercise their brains, and figure out what they need to write down. I'm not unique in this style of teaching.

As you can see from Sg's PISA scores, it works.

Anonymous said...

(C-5)... I wonder. If so, how often has it been done? My guess is a few tanks at the beginning of the Gulf War, a few at the beginning of the War in Iraq, and that's about it. In other words, even with the giant plane, the utility of flying one tank (vs. 100,000 pounds of other supplies) is probably not there."

No, it changed history.

In 1973 the Arabs attacked with around 1,200 tanks and 200 Mig-21s. Within a week both the Arabs and Israel had blown through their ammo and Israel was in a desperate situation. (Neither were prepared for the loss rates due to modern weapons such as anti-tank missiles.) An aerial resupply race between the US and the USSR begun.

"The Two O'Clock War: The 1973 Yom Kippur Conflict and the Airlift That Saved Israel", Walter J. Boyne, 2002:

" ...equipment included nineteen M-60 tanks, sixty-three M-48 Chaparral... sixty-four ... CH-53 helicopters, and nineteen .. A-4..."

See also "Nickel Grass", Air Force Magazine, Walter J. Boyne, Dec 1998:

"It was justifiably called "the airlift that saved Israel. ...

...a desperate 32 days in the fall of 1973...

...Israeli estimates of consumption of ammunition and fuel were seen to be totally inadequate. However, it was the high casualty rate that stunned Israel...

...Carlton knew that he could sustain a steady flow of three C-141s every two hours and four C-5s every four hours-indefinitely.

...

Israel suffered 10,800 killed and wounded.... loss... of... 100 aircraft and 800 tanks.

"For generations to come," said Golda Meir not long after the war's end, "all will be told of the miracle of the immense planes from the United States bringing in the material that meant life for our people.""


In the book version (page 279) this reads "...she told a group of Jewish leaders "that for generations to come..."



The Yom Kippur War: The Arab-Israeli War of 1973, By Simon Dunstan:

"Arab leaders were convinced the Unites States was capable of replacing Israeli tank losses at will."


From wikipedia's article on Nickel Grass:

"U.S. support helped ensure that Israel survived a coordinated and surprise life-threatening attack...

...the military airlift shipped 22,325 tons of materiel to Israel. ...the United States conducted its own seaborne re-supply operation, delivering 33,210 tons to Israel...

Operation Nickel Grass had immediate and far-reaching effects. ...


Nickel Grass vindicated the Air Force decision to purchase the C-5 Galaxy. ... During Nickel Grass, C-5s carried 48% of the total cargo in only 145 of the 567 total missions. The C-5 also carried "outsize" cargo such as M60 Patton tanks, M109 howitzers, ground radar systems, mobile tractor units, CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters, and A-4 Skyhawk components; cargo that could not fit in smaller aircraft. This performance justified the C-5's existence...

...chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) General George Brown. Brown was nearly forced to resign after making comments claiming that Israel received U.S. military aid because Jews controlled the American banking system."



Air Mobility Command Museum, "Operation Nickel Grass":

"...MAC's Israeli operation had outperformed the Soviet effort in resupplying Egypt and Syria. The Soviet Air Force used AN-12 and AN-22 transport aircraft to haul 15,000 tons on 935 missions."

The strategic Cold War hero of this airlift was Portugal.

Anonymous said...

"and ones that were trailing tech even when new (e.g., C-130"

You're selling the C-130 short. It was bigger and carried more than its predecessors, and used turboprops instead of piston engines. Subsequent versions have been getting more powerful engines and better electronics.

Anonymous said...

"I'm under the impression that the 1911 is as popular as it is because 1) it's now a public domain design (apparently this takes a while - from what I understand, the Browning Hi-Power still isn't) and 2) USA! USA! USA!. Nothing I read makes me want to buy one."

Gun nut bait.

The 1911 has undergone a Renaissance in the last 20 years as CNC manufacturing has expanded. A good 1911, which suddenly became much cheaper to manufacture around 1995, has the finest trigger on the planet and is used a lot in combat shooting competitions. The drawbacks are that it has somewhat low magazine capacity (8+1), can be a bit less reliable, and is more difficult for novices to operate. It's not a pistol for casual or first time gun owners, but if you know what you're doing it's magnificent.

The Browning has long since passed into the public domain, as has the AR-15, which was designed in the late 50's. The AR-15 has become wildly popular for a few reasons. Cheap Chicom imports of AKs and other firearms were banned back in the Clinton administration, leaving the field open for American manufacturing. CNC manufacturing made the price of machined aluminum guns like the AR go down relative to stamped steel guns like the AK. And a nearly perfectly competitive market created network effects. Currently AR-15s are being manufactured for the civilian market at nearly the same rate M-1 Garands were being made in WW2. I wouldn't be surprised if a million ARs were sold in 2013.

Discard said...

Cail Corishev: You're right that whiteboard markers are more expensive than chalk. I would spend $15-$20 per month on them. Well worth it for good tools.

Whiteboard hard to clean? Not mine. It may be that the 4x8 sheets of Melarmine I used were not what schools buy, but they were cheap, and easy to clean.

Sam said...

"...So I I'll make a prediction: Lockheed is run by MBA, accounting, and financial types..."

Your exactly right. I had the same idea one time while trying to find out what was going on with our aircraft program so I looked it up to see.

Surprised anyone has heard of Jack Parsons. There's a book I read on him called," Sex and Rockets". It is worth reading. He was way strange. He had L. Ron Hubbard move in with him and they tried to breed some kind of demon child with a red headed "elemental" Women. His wife ran off with Hubbard... Read the book it's good.

A good story about lengths the gov. will go to to keep a secret. I was at Nellis AFB when the stealth fighter was being flown at area 51 or where ever. We had these Navy A-7's that would taxi up and down the runway. The base commander publicly announced that," We have no A7's at Nellis AFB". But of course we could see them. Even stranger it had a three foot long or so missile below the pilots cockpit. On the missile nose cone was a bright flashing red strobe light and a radioactive sticker on the side. "????" At my INS(inertial navigation system) shop there was a new INS test station. Only one person worked on the equipment and said she had no idea what it was for. It was only years later when I read Ben Rich's book on the Skunk Works that I found out the F-117 used the A7's INS and ejection seat.

If your interested in aircraft look at the Germans WWII aircraft engines. Opposed piston uni-flow diesels. Very efficient but tricky.

Anonymous said...

The Air Mobility Command (MAC) Museum link in the Nickel Grass post is broken. The link should be:

Air Mobility Command Museum, "Operation Nickel Grass"

General Brown of the Joint Chiefs was livid about conducting this operation because 1973 was a critical time for the US allies in Southeast Asia facing the communists alone for the first time, but expecting to be backed by US military aid. Many of the C-5s were still operating out of Thailand to support this effort. As the article notes:

"...the United States continued to provide assistance to counter North Vietnam 's incursions into Cambodia , Laos and South Vietnam."

Anonymous said...

Well, I was thinking even with the Mexican gangs San Diego crime rate is one of the lowest in the US. Instead of whites heading to Mexican Texas whites should stay in San Diego at least less blacks than Houston or Dallas. San Diego has bad areas but less so than Houston or Dallas Texas do. Business are just ash@@@holes they go to Texas because they have cheaper labor Motorola is only paying 9.50 her hr in Texas.

Anonymous said...

"After that, Hitler goofed around with Wonder Weapons. The Germans invented ridiculous numbers of them like the jet fighter, the rocket plane, the cruise missile, and the ballistic missile, but the earlier German emphasis on coordination was de-emphasized."

Not quite. Hitler's biggest gamble was invasion of the USSR and that required coordination on a massive scale, and Germans pulled off a spectacular first act.
But Russia remained standing and eventually began to push back. And US and UK piled on the bombs.

It was when coordination could no longer halt the Allied momentum that Hitler turned to magic bullet weapons. It was really out of desperation as Germany was out-manned and out-gunned both ways.

Hitler had hoped to defeat Russia with expert coordination(and the invasion had been brilliantly planned). But he failed, and he was running out of men and material to coordinate with.

So, he looked to hail mary weapons.

pat said...

I don't know about 'Discard'. I never bought a white board marker. Student's would complain that they couldn't read what I wrote. I told them that I used the markers that the school provided and the ones I found in the classroom that particular day were pretty dried out.

By the next class several students gave me fresh new boxes of markers. When I stopped teaching my car and my house were filled with markers - many of them still new in the boxes.

I taught a number of lecture classes or classes keyed to an official text book. For these the damn whiteboard or black board made no difference. I just wrote about a dozen points in a little section of the board. Then I would talk. When I ran out of gas I'd look over at the next phrase in the list and talk some more.

Actually writing very much on the board breeds grading disputes. Someone will complain that you didn't cover that point and you will have no proof - you erased it.

But I also taught a lot of computer classes. I used a white board then as screen for the video projector. The introduction of the video projector was important not the kind of writing board behind the teacher.

I guess I adopted the style of never turning my back on the class from when I went to military high school. When the lay teachers turned to write on the blackboard, the chalk and erasers flew. Hitting the teacher in the head was particularly admired.

Albertosaurus

Anonymous said...

*Erich Hartmann* warned the Luftwaffe against the F104. One might think the opinion of the highest scoring ace of all time about a fighter aircraft might carry some weight, but no