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Al Nuri Mosque [Jun. 21st, 2017|08:20 pm]
xolo
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |East Trumpistan]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

So, the savage filth have blown up one of their own treasures for a change. Better that than Roman ruins I suppose, although the mosque was built in 1172, so is pretty much irreplaceable regardless.

Or, actually not - The Iraqi government completely demolished the old mosque in 1942, and built a replica. I've been to a few American historical sites where pretty much the same thing had been done. People saw these things much differently back then. The rather rickety-looking minaret was still original, it seems.

Comparing an aerial picture of the undamaged complex to the blown-up picture looks as though most of the low arcaded building surrounding the eight-sided dome is rubble (a few damaged walls seem to be standing toward the top), but the dome itself remains standing with its supports largely intact. That narrow building to the left of the 'before' picture seems to be the same one that can be seen to the lower left of the 'after' picture. You can also see some (presumably wrecked) cars in the street that fronted the mosque. By that reckoning, the tower doesn't even show in the 'after' picture, but is off to the middle left some distance.

It's difficult to see this as anything but an admission of defeat by ISIS, in much the same way that the Nazis blew up their own 'holy places', to keep them from being captured. This is where their leader proclaimed their 'caliphate', back on July 4th, 2014. Now, like the enterprise itself, it's in ruins.

Edit: If anyone can find a picture of the minaret (or what's left of it), I'd be interested. None of the photos I can find show that.

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/15056.html
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Kensington [Jun. 16th, 2017|03:10 am]
xolo
[mood |draineddrained]

What an absolute horror in Kensington. I know I shouldn't keep looking at the pictures, and reading about what happen ed, but I do.

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/14484.html
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How Unexpected! [Jun. 13th, 2017|12:11 am]
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[Tags|]

So, I was reading up on the Battle of Midway, preparatory to pestering my congressmen about a posthumous Medal of Honor for Wade McCluskey, and I came across something completely unexpected, and wonderful. Air Commander Genda, who led the attack on Pearl Harbor, and who commanded the planes of Carrier Division One (Kaga and Akagi, both obliterated by McCluskey's squadron), survived the war, and eventually became the overall head of the Japanese Air Force. He became staunchly pro-American, enough so that we ended up awarding an honourary Legion of Merit cross to the guy who led the assault on Pearl Harbor. That absolutely delights me!

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/14210.html
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Big Butts [Jun. 9th, 2017|08:53 pm]
xolo
[Current Location |East Trumpistan]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]
[music |Duh.]

Sir Mixalot likes big butts, and cannot lie. His identical, yet evil, twin, Sir Mixalittle hates big butts, and cannot tell the truth. One of them has arrived at your front door, bearing an important message for you. In order to profit from the information, you must know whether or not it is true. What single question can you ask, that will let you know with certainty to which twin you are speaking?

answerCollapse )

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/14045.html
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In Doom-o-Matic mode [Jun. 4th, 2017|09:56 pm]
xolo
[Tags|, ]
[Current Location |East Trumpistan]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

In honour of Wade McCluskey, nemesis of the Imperial Japanese Navy. I honestly thought he had a Medal of Honor, and think he certainly deserves one. His squadron sank the two biggest carriers on earth, with all of their aircraft, and killed many, if not most, of the veteran pilots and aircrews in the process, a lot of whom had years of experience in the war in China. Japan didn't have the means to replace them.

*****

Interesting conspiracy theories about the RMS Titanic.

*****

I can understand not being concerned because it's moving away from you. But what kind of person wouldn't even want to watch?

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/13726.html
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Words Fail Me... [Jun. 4th, 2017|08:24 pm]
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[mood |amusedamused]

Doctors warn women against putting wasp nests in their vaginas.

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/13423.html
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(no subject) [Jun. 1st, 2017|08:59 pm]
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[Tags|, , ]
[Current Location |Old Hio]
[mood |chipperchipper]

Not at all what I expected from the title, but interesting anyway.

*****

Gay Vultures raising a child.

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I'm delighted to see us unequivocally rejecting that Paris Climate Treaty. Contrary to the mantra of the news media, we're not "withdrawing" - the Senate never ratified the treaty, so we were never a part of it to begin with. Obama understood full well what would happen if he took that to the Senate. I'm pleased as well that Trump leaves open the possibility that we'd be willing to take part in a fair and even-handed climate treaty, if others are interested in having one.

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/12866.html
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Look! It's Gizgo! [Jun. 1st, 2017|06:29 pm]
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[Tags|, , , ]
[Current Location |Old Hio]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

Still obsessing cheerfully over the Five Hundred. I'm quite enjoying myself here :)

Takuma Sato is the first Japanese driver to win at the Speedway. To find the first Japanese member of a winning crew, we have to go back considerably further. To the best of my knowledge, it was the redoubtable Takeo Hirashima, who went by the nickname "Chickie" (not a clue why).

He started as a mechanic sometime in the 1930s. In 1935, he became a riding mechanic* on Paul Weirick's team, riding with pole-sitter Rex Mays.

He rode with Mays again in 1936, when Mays was on the pole once again, albeit with an engine built by Art Sparks, rather than his previous engine builder Harry Miller. For '37, Hirashima followed Sparks to Joel Thorne's team, where he rode with Jimmy Snyder, who set the one lap record in qualifying (although he left it until too late to win the pole).In 1938, American racing returned to a more normal formula with single-seat racing cars, which ended the riding mechanic's position.

In 1946, he was once again with Joel Thorne, whose driver George Robson won the race. The engine was the Sparks "Little Six" (probably one of the very few racing engines in history to actually have an individual name), the same one that had powered Snyder's 1937 run.

His win as crew chief with the Ken Paul team in 1960 gave rise to a long-running controversy. Ken Paul basically allowed his driver, Jim Rathmann, to choose whoever he wanted for his crew. He got Hirashima to be his crew chief, but also signed up Smokey Yunick (he of the curious hat). Yunick had apparently understood that he and Hirashima were co-chiefs, and worked on that basis. Throughout that month of May, Hirashima did the engine and power train (which is what he liked best anyway), and Yunick supervised the crew and ran the garage and pit. Yunick most assuredly ran the team on race day. It wasn't until the Victory Banquet, the night after the race, that Yunick discovered that he was listed on the entry as a mechanic, and not as a chief. Considering that he spent the next 40 years bitching loudly about this to anyone who would listen**, I have to assume that he sincerely believed himself to have been promised a co-chief's position. Interestingly, he never blamed Chickie Hirashima or Ken Paul for this, but only Jim Rathmann.

That same year of 1960, Hirashima was also the engine builder for Rodger Ward, who came in second. Again in 1962, he was the engine builder for Rodger Ward and Len Sutton, who finished first and second. He was also Sutton's crew chief that year, so racked up two wins and two seconds as engine builder, and a first and a second as crew chief. He finally retired in 1964.

* Depression racers lasted from 1930 to 1937. In an attempt to make racing more affordable (as AAA was having trouble getting enough entries to make a full field, especially at lesser tracks), they mandated large, normally-aspirated engines (essentially passenger engine rebuilds), and a two-man cockpit, with driver and riding mechanic. The reasoning behind this was that, as racing cars of the day were built on a frame rail chassis, exactly as passenger cars are still to this day, making the cars wider would allow builders to use passenger car frames, along with the original steering gear, half-axles and suspensions. It didn't work exactly as intended, but did produce plentiful and in many cases very cool-looking cars. From '30 through '37, the Five Hundred was more or less a hotrod race.

** And he was salty. My favourite Smokey Yunick quote was to the effect that Bill France (head of NASCAR) would have to repeat fifth grade five times before he'd even be eligible for an idiot's license. Of Jim Rathmann, he said "If he dies before I do, they better bury him in a water-proof suit and goggles."

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/12700.html
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In all that vast host of men... [Jun. 1st, 2017|12:01 am]
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[Tags|, , , , ]
[Current Location |Old Hio]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]

So, now I'm back home from Memorial Day. I got to see Takuma Sato, one of my favourite drivers, win the Indianapolis Five Hundred, and hang out with mom for a few days as well.

*****

It's probably safe to say that Takuma Satop isn't one of this fellow's favourites. I think that on the one hand, it's sad that anyone would still feel resentful three-quarters of a century after the war*, but on the other hand, firing the man was IMHO an over-reaction.

* A war, moreover, in which we administered one of history's most comprehensive beatdowns since Carthage pissed off Rome, then completed our victory by rebuilding their society to be pro-American.

*****

At 5'5", Sato is apparently the shortest man to ever win the Five Hundred. Surprisingly, he's one of about six or so who won their first Five Hundred when they were over 40 years of age.

*****

Delicious cherries and cold milk! Now we'll see if I'm harder to kill than Ol' Zachary Taylor.

*****

When regarding the hundreds of thousands at the Speedway, I'm always reminded of Hannibal's statement before the battle of Cannae, as true today as it was then: "In all that vast host of men, there is not one named Gizgo".

*****

Space-X static fires a Falcon Heavy core unit. I love Elon Musk's attitude: "One way or another, launch is guaranteed to be exciting".

*****

I am disappointed in the Smithsonian. When you're converting the thrust to rotary motion, it's no longer a "jet". It's a turbine engine.

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/12425.html
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Echoes of a Distant Time [May. 25th, 2017|10:00 pm]
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[Tags|, , , , ]
[Current Location |Not too far from Indiana]
[mood |cheerfulcheerful]
[music |Pink Floyd: Echoes]

So, while looking for my pocket AM/FM radio, I found, in a plastic storage box... The cookie (an almond biscotti) that Delta gave me on the flight when I returned from Findra's funeral. I don't remember saving it, but that's most assuredly what it is. It's wrapped in airtight Mylar, and probably still good. I may make some kind of remembrance ceremony out of eating it.

*****

So, I started thinking about the history of rear-engined cars at the Speedway...

1923 could well have been the year that rear-engined cars started to be used at Indianapolis. Mercedes Benz sent a three car factory team that year. It was headed by the great Christian Lautenschlager, so was obviously a serious effort. Benz at the time was deep into development on their rear-engined Tropfenwagen, but unfortunately, it would be September of that year before it finally raced, and then didn't prove very successful.

In 1937, Marmon Automotive brought what was, so far as I know, the first rear-engined car to Indianapolis. It practiced throughout the month of May, driven by Lee Oldfield, but had issues, and never (I think) even attempted a qualifying run.

Harry Miller, in 1938, brought his two "Cars from Mars", based on the Auto-Union B-type design, to the Speedway. One was wrecked in practice, but the other qualifed, and was raced by George Bailey. Both cars came back in '39, '40, and '41, and showed themselves competitive, but not dominant. One car was ruined in the garage fire in 1941 on the morning of the race, so that only one competed that year.

After the War, Miller was done with racing, and sold the two cars to his semi-deranged chief engineer, Preston Tucker. Tucker raced them both in '46 and '47, adding a pair of conventionally-designed Lencki dirt-cars to field a four-car team in 1947. Caught up in financial difficulties by the collapse of his passenger car company, the team folded, and didn't reappear in 1948.

1946 saw an entry which was technically both a front and rear engined car. The Fageol Special, designed and built by bus manufacturer Lou Fageol, had two engines, one in front, and one in back, with four-wheel drive. He expected the weight balance to give the car superior handling and reduced tire wear. The fatal weakness of the design was in the fact that each engine had its own drive train and gearbox - the only thing coordinating them was the throttle linkage. The handling was described as "different". In the race, Paul Russo, no small talent as a driver, managed to keep the thing under control for 16 laps before he finally spun and crashed. Fageol came back next year with a much more conventional front-engined design.

1947 saw one other rear-engined car come to the Speedway. This was the remarkably modern-looking Rounds Rocket, itself based on the Auto-Union D-type. The car had fundamental suspension design issues which made it difficult to control in the turns, and was withdrawn, never to return.

After that, no rear-engined car was entered until 1961, when Jack Brabham competed in an underpowered Cooper Formula One car, and managed a ninth-place finish. Within five years, the revolution was complete, with Bobby Grim's 1966 drive in a Watson being the last front-engined car ever to compete. Interestingly, this was also the first car to compete using straight methanol fuel with a turbocharger, so marked a beginning as well as an end.

You continued to see the occasional front-engined entry through the 60s and 70s, but none ever qualified. Jim Hurtubise brought the last one to the track in 1980, more to hang out in the garage with his old buddies than to try to put it in the race.

Edit: Also, I think, (I'm pretty sure, actually) that Grim's 1966 Watson is the same car that Gary Bettenhausen took his rookie test in in 1968.

Original posted at http://rain-gryphon.dreamwidth.org/12251.html
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