"When faced with a problem you do not understand,
do any part of it you do understand; then look at it again."
~(Robert A. Heinlein - "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress")

About to comment here for the very first time?
Check Where'd my Comment go?!!! to avoid losing it.
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Monday, January 30, 2012

"It will take a long battle ...

... to convince some climate scientists that the sun is important."

DUH!  You think?!!!

If you've read some of my posts on this (including my very first), you probably already have a clue as to where I stand.

So, I'm going to give you a bit of practice at clicking on links ...

MONDAY, JANUARY 30, 2012
Are We About To See The Death Of The Global Warming Scam?
The article in today's Daily Mail

   Forget global warming - it's Cycle 25 we need to 
   worry about (and if NASA scientists are right 
   the Thames will be freezing over again)

There's absolutely nothing I can add to this.
 (Although the answer to the question posed by the title is "Probably not".)

He pretty well says it all.
 (Although, in truth, it's never really all said;  any more than "the science is settled!")

Check it out for yourself. Ok?
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Friday, January 27, 2012

Living the dream ...

... as one with the Gods.

Found this on Dr. Jerry Pournelle's website,
at http://jerrypournelle.com/chaosmanor/?p=5099:
an email beginning "A friend posted this on her Facebook page:"
and including this link https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/406950_218671828223432_168372346586714_447701_403260359_n.jpg

This is the photo it links to ...

Ok, then.  Just how real is that photo?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Gook

n. Slang. 1. A dirty, sludgy, or slimy substance. 2. An Oriental.  An offensive term used derogatorily, [Perhaps from Scottish gowk, simpleton, from Middle English gowke, cuckoo, from Old Norse gaukr, from Common Germanic gaukaz (unattested).]  ~ New College Edition - The American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language (1981)

I came across that while looking up something else in my dictionary.

Lord!  What follows "Perhaps" sounds a bit like Pintel (the one with the wooden eye) and Ragetti (the dour one) in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (2006) having this Monty Python discussion over the origin and pronunciation of the word "Kraken"

The 1981 date of that dictionary attests to how thrifty I am (you're thinking of another word; aren't you? :-), but I've always liked it and found it to be pretty good.

BUT, with all due respect to the gents who wrote that definition above -- Unh-unh!

The term comes from this Korean word ...

"Gook" is its pronunciation, and it means "country"

At first glance, Korean appears similar to Chinese and Japanese characters, but in fact, it consists of an alphabet invented around 600 years ago by a team of scholars dealing with the fact that many Korean words were so difficult to be rendered into the Chinese characters in use at that time, that only the wealthy and privileged could find the time to learn how.

Result: Way too much of the population was illiterate. So, those scholars devised an alphabet of 24 consonants and vowels (clustered in syllables) called "Hangul", designed so that even a commoner could learn to read and write. "A wise man can acquaint himself with them before the morning is over; a stupid man can learn them in the space of ten days." (from Wikipedia)


From thinkzone.wlonk.com

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
25 Sep 2012 - Potential confusion I should have addressed long ago ...

Before the chart above, I mention "an alphabet of 24 consonants and vowels".
Some of you may have counted 40 Korean letters in that chart. So, what gives?

Here's the deal. There are 14 basic consonants, in the first row of Korean letters, immediately below the word "Consonants", and 10 pure vowels in the 3rd row, immediately below the word "Vowels", making a total of 24.

BUT, five of the consonants can be doubled (2nd row) to make a harder, sharper sound, bringing us up to 29 letters. PLUS, there are 11 compound vowels (4th row) made by assembling two pure vowels together to represent a sound that is a blend of the two. Now we're at 40.  Crystal? :-)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


From thinkzone.wlonk.com

Notice at the end of the definition of "America" above, that Romanization "Mi guk" follows a phrase that translates into "beautiful country". That it is  pronounced "me gook" is almost certainly the source of the term that is the title for this post, coming from Koreans simply using their name for our country.

Now, we're not really that dense (I hope :-);  I've no doubt that our soldiers very quickly learned what those Koreans were really saying, but by the time they did the damage was done and the term stuck.

When I was first introduced to the language, at Yale's Institute of Far Eastern Languages (courtesy of the USAF), the Romanization (rendering those sounds into our Roman alphabet) was Yale's version.  The form used above is the Revised Romanization system, developed in the late '90s, eliminating a lot of diacritical and accent marks to make things easier.

The alphabet is very phonetic and quite consistent.  A Korean speaker encountering a new word in that alphabet has no problem figuring out how to pronounce it, and going the other way, can usually spell it correctly if he hears it pronounced properly.

At the time I learned this (50 years ago), I marveled at the Korean's ingenuity at coming up with and maintaining such a system, and never even considered the flaw in my reasoning.

The consistency I worshiped then was (and had to be) the product of a very insular society.

Our English (especially American English) gets enriched from every other language on the planet (literally hundreds), many of whom use the same Roman alphabet we do but in their own wonderful and mysterious ways, giving us this anarchy in which a word is often impossible to know how to pronounce without seeing it in context.

Yes, a system that can conjure up something like "ough" to be part of our words may truly rate an "Oh My God!!!"

But, consistency is highly overrated. Probably terrific for robots and ants. I'd like to think that we are a bit more flexible than that.

Considering the enrichment of our language (and so much else) by those contributions from others, I wouldn't have it any other way.
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

God D*MM*T, Ann!!! ...

... I put you in my blogroll (and will probably keep you there as long as you have that picture of yourself on your page).  I even linked to a recent post of yours about Mitt Romney (as "reminding me of why I put you in my blogroll in the first place").

And then you pull this crap ...
Ann Coulter Insults Tea Party & South Carolina After Newt Wins: “I Think South Carolina Is Going Back To Their Democratic Roots”

G. Wolf (of Wolf Howling ) was right when he wrote (in a comment to that post of mine, covering the possibility of Romney getting the nomination because of your attacks) ...

After what Coulter has done to Gingrich, I've pretty much written her off of my Christmas card list. Her attack on him was disingenuous in many ways.

Indeed, if you've noted my lack of posting on the primaries at this point, it is because I am so mad at what the NRO and so many of the rightwing pundits - Coulter included - have done to Gingrich. It is disgusting and appalling. Were the election to be held today, I would sit it out. I won't by November, but it will strictly be a vote against Obama.


Now that Newt appears to be going somewhere after all, your remarks epitomize what Mr. Wolf describes as Gingrich Derangement Syndrome.

That post of mine I keep referring to ( Sometimes, Ann Coulter ... ) I ended with this observation on the possibility (or likelihood) of Romney getting the nomination ...

My biggest fear is that, were I David Axelrod, my greatest pleasure would be to see the Republicans devouring each other and my actions in such a case would be to stay the hell out of it, as detection of any meddling on my part might serve as a unifying factor instead. "If your enemies are destroying themselves, do not interfere."

I hope to God the Republicans eventually remember who the real enemy is.


Well, Lady: That observation is just as applicable if Newt Gingrich becomes the nominee.

Just what part of that concept escapes you?
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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Scam

You've probably become familiar with emails that are Nigerian scams or Iraqi veterans needing financial assistance scams.  But what if the email asking for help is from someone you think you know?

Yesterday morning, I got this email ...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I hope you get this on time, i know you might not believe this but i want you to know this is for real and i need your urgent assistance and i hope you will not let me down. I don't really mean to inconvenience you right now, I made an emergency trip to London. Unfortunately for me I got robbed on my way back to the hotel where i lodged along with my cell phone, my credit card and since then i have been without money. At the moment my passport has been seized by the hotel management pending the time payment is made. So i have limited access to emails for now. I urgently need your financial assistance. I need about 3550 British pound sterling or any amount you can lend me to sort-out the bills, so i can make arrangements and return back. I'm in a panic now. I know this may sound odd but it all happened very fast. I have no access to my account. Please, can you lend me some funds? I'll be willing to pay you as soon as I get home.

Please respond as soon as you get this message.

M*******

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Some background for this:

A little over a year ago, the person I know as M******* commented on a post I had published, and we corresponded a bit.  The return email address appeared to be correct but, let's take a shot at fisking this a bit ...

I hope you get this on time, i know you might not believe this but i want you to know this is for real and i need your urgent assistance and i hope you will not let me down. I don't really mean to inconvenience you right now, I made an emergency trip to London. 

The person the writer claims to be lives in the Missouri Ozarks.  If she has made an emergency trip to London, she apparently has the resources to do so and very likely has plenty of friends to call on for help.  To the best of my knowledge, the real M******* is not a recluse and does have a circle of friends.

Unfortunately for me I got robbed on my way back to the hotel where i lodged along with my cell phone, my credit card and since then i have been without money.

Ok. People who have cell phones tend to have people they can call.  If they have a credit card good for overseas use the company that issued it almost certainly has provisions to allow the user to go to a bank for assistance in the situation described.

At the moment my passport has been seized by the hotel management pending the time payment is made. So i have limited access to emails for now.

So, she has a passport that has not been stolen. That should be sufficient identification for a bank to help her access her accounts. For the hotel management to refuse to release it (if not to her directly, then to make it available to whatever official is trying to help her) would seem self-defeating and probably not likely.

I urgently need your financial assistance. I need about 3550 British pound sterling or any amount you can lend me to sort-out the bills, so i can make arrangements and return back. I'm in a panic now. I know this may sound odd but it all happened very fast. 

The real M******* has read my blog and would know that I am a retiree, whose early-retirement social security is supplemented by the meager earnings from a part-time grocery cashier position and that my own financial circumstances barely reach the "survival" level. That she would waste time and resources ("limited access to emails") to make such a request of me doesn't make a lot of sense.

I have no access to my account. Please, can you lend me some funds? I'll be willing to pay you as soon as I get home.

I've already noted above that help should be available from a bank that handles her credit card.

I've not even touched on this question (because I don't really know the details here), "What kind of help could she get from the U.S. Embassy in London?"

Now, I did not go into that kind of detailed reasoning yesterday morning, but the whole thing did seem decidedly off.

However, the very degree of "off-ness" made me wonder if it indeed could be real;  when hit with a catastrophe, your thinking may not be at its best.

Now M******* has a blog, and has a live-in friend and assistant (S****) who manages that blog and also one of her own.

Not having an email address for S****, I went to her blog and pasted that email into a comment there and added ...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I have great difficulty in believing this is for real, because if M******* read my blog she would know I am a retiree with only the salary of a part-time grocery cashier’s job supplementing way too insufficient early-retirement social security and would be very unlikely to ask ME for 3550 British Pounds (probably in the neighborhood of $5000 or so).

IF it truly IS M*******, do you know people who can help her (I am completely helpless here)?

As I said, I simply cannot believe this.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

At that point, I had to start getting ready to go to work, resolving to make some phone calls when I got back to find out what help might be available from the embassy there.

(To anyone knowledgeable reading this:  Please let me know if I am anywhere near the mark in my speculations of what kind of help may be available in such a situation.)

Before leaving for work, I logged back on, to find this email from S**** ...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I received a copy also. She is asleep in the next room. It IS a fake. Interesting. We will look into it asap. She recently had a cc hacked now this.

How are you?

S**** D*****

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, that was good to hear.

When I got home from work, I found this email from the real M******* ...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Paul - thanks for being suspicious. My account was hacked by some slimy dude. I'm at home and doing fine. Sorry to trouble you.
M*******

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I replied to that, and then realizing something I was missing, forwarded that reply to S****, noting ...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hi S****:

I replied to M*******'s note earlier, and didn't even think that if this creep
has access to her email account, he might blow it away before she even sees it.

So, just in case ...

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

And got this piece of closure in return...
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
We made some wild furious changes and actually retrieved M*******'s email account. Apparently he was sleeping when we made our moves. Then we quickly changed every password and security question on other accounts. I was amazed we pulled it off.

S****

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

To which the only reply I could think of was ...

  COOL!!! :-)

What a day.
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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sometimes, Ann Coulter ...

...reminds me of why I added that Lady to my blogroll in the first place.
(I mean besides that picture of her on her page. :-)

http://www.anncoulter.com/columns/2012-01-11.html

---------------------------------------------------------------------------
WHO WOULDN'T ENJOY FIRING THESE PEOPLE?
January 11, 2012

Earlier this week, Mitt Romney got into trouble for saying, "I like being able to fire people who provide services to me." To comprehend why the political class reacted as if Romney had just praised Hitler, you must understand that his critics live in a world in which no one can ever be fired -- a world known as "the government."
   ...
Romney's statement about being able to fire people was an arrow directed straight to the heart of Obamacare. (By the way, arrows to the heart are not covered by Obamacare.)
   ...
That's one gargantuan difference with "Romneycare" right there: If you don't like what your insurer is doing in Massachusetts, you can get a new one.

Now, wouldn't you like to be able to fire people who provide services to you?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Those little "..." thingies I'm so fond of (ellipses, I believe they're called) represent almost two pages worth of examples she provides (, and probably should be skipped if you have high-blood pressure).

In other posts of hers, she has savaged several people I liked and was in favor of, but some of whom have subsequently demonstrated that her wrath may have been earned.

Confessing that I've had an OMG! attitude towards Mitt Romney's candidacy, I'm going to try very hard to get over the fact that he's not from Texas (not all are so blessed) and consider that despite that staggering handicap, things could be a helluva lot worse.

She (and one of my other favorite bloggers Neo-neocon ) have made persuasive arguments that he is not the Antichrist, not necessarily the wild-eyed big-government liberal that he is painted as, and would be infinitely preferable to what we have now.

While there are others I may have preferred as our candidate, if Romney turns out to be it, I am not going to throw a tantrum on election day and just sit it out.  And, may God D**N you to H*ll if you choose to do that.

"Job one" on that day has to be to turn out the freakin' moron currently occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Absolutely nothing must take precedence over that.

Update - Sunday, 15 Jan 2012 11:17 - So far, three commenters below, instead of gushing over my every pronouncement (There goes my opportunity for starting a new religion with myself as head), are showing a disturbing tendency to think for themselves.

Some months back, one of them tore me a new one over my affection for Rick Perry, using the "Gardasil" controversy as an example.  I let the comments stand, as I didn't really have a good response.

That appears to be the case here as well, although I stand behind the "Job one" paragraph above.

On the "Bain" issue, I commend Dr. Sanity's A "BAINFUL" REALITY INDEED.

As for Ann's attacks on Gingrich, I've a lot more study to do, but it does seem to me that he's made Romney's destruction a higher priority than the ousting of Obama.  This could be a misinterpretation on my part, or going by the wrong sources.  At the moment, that issue is open for me.

My biggest fear is that, were I David Axelrod, my greatest pleasure would be to see the Republicans devouring each other and my actions in such a case would be to stay the hell out of it, as detection of any meddling on my part might serve as a unifying factor instead.  "If your enemies are destroying themselves, do not interfere."

I hope to God the Republicans eventually remember who the real enemy is.
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Sunday, January 08, 2012

Seeing Double in Google Reader

After I put up my previous post (The Zen of Firefly and Serenity ...) I deleted it to do a little magic and shorten its URL to avoid giving a broken link to some email readers that break lines over 72 characters.

I then put it back up, with the shortened URL.

Google Reader retains your mistakes, so the post appears twice there, although a closer examination will show different URLs, one of which should return a Page Not Found error if selected.

All hail Google Reader!  Mercy just ain't in its vocabulary. :(
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The Zen of Firefly and Serenity ...

"... I aim to misbehave."

Last night I caught a midnight showing of Serenity (2005) at the River Oaks theater, and was pleasantly surprised to find quite a crowd awaiting.

The movie amounts to an additional, closing episode of Firefly (2002);  one of my all-time favorite cancelled-way-too-soon future-fantasy series (no way can I consider it as "science-fiction"; the actual "science" in it would rattle around in a thimble.  But to fixate on that is to dismiss Picasso because "the eyes are all wrong").

While not attempting to equate creator and writer Joss Whedon with Picasso, his characters and dialog are what make the series and the movie such a treasure.  I never get the impression he takes himself too seriously, but I suspect he has a personal philosophy he takes very seriously and that it is part and parcel of that dialog.

Shamelessly cannibalizing from my own post Thoughtcrime ...
Nathan Fillion as Malcolm Reynolds -  Poster from
Brad Kozak's Freedom of Speech Evidently Has No Place In a University.

Captain Malcolm Reynolds (the dude in the poster), and his motley crew make a pretty much off-the-books living by using their "Firefly" class cargo ship to transport various and sundry items and passengers to other worlds. On learning that one of his passengers has smuggled aboard his sister (a greatly sought-after fugitive from the oppressive Alliance) and berating said passenger about them being an albatross he just doesn't really need at this point, the passenger openly wonders about being killed in his sleep, prompting Mal to clarify things a bit.

River Tam ...
Summer Glau as River Tam - from angryzenmaster.com
(22 Jan 2012OOPS! - Maybe not. See Addendum and Correction below)

... is the sister mentioned above, a prodigy raised largely by the state from infancy, combat-trained as a "living weapon", and groomed to be a psychic.

The doctor in charge of that grooming notes to a visitor (not knowing that the visitor is really her brother come to rescue her), "Key members of Parliament have observed these demonstrations, and are in full support."

Afterwards, the operative sent to deal with her escape says to that doctor,
 "You know what your sin is, Doctor?  Pride!"

Replaying a record of that conversation, he continues ...
"Key members of Parliament. Key. The minds behind every military, diplomatic and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic."

So, this battered waif has been carrying a boatload of memories not hers, that she doesn't want and that the Alliance is terrified of her revealing.

Malcolm and crew help her to find out what they are, discovering an entire world that has been depopulated in an OOPS!!! resulting from the best of nanny-state good intentions.

Malcolm is determined to get the word out on this secret, reasoning ...
"Sure as I know anything, I know this - they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, ten? They'll swing back to the belief that they can make people... better. And I do not hold to that. So no more runnin'. I aim to misbehave."

Before the movie has even reached the main title sequence, River has flashed back to a class as a young girl, where a teacher is explaining the history of the Alliance and a student asks why there was even any resistance to it in the first place.

Young River replies ...
"We meddle. People don't like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don't run, don't walk. We're in their homes and in their heads and we haven't the right. We're meddlesome."

The teacher's response is absolutely perfect nanny-state rationalization ...
 "We don't tell them what to think. 
 "We just show them how!"

-

22 Jan 2012 - Addendum and Correction:  A visitor emailed this to me ...
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Sir, I arrived at your blog via chaos manor and while I have bookmarked said blog to read more later. Dispite how much it appears I may agree with you on any number of things I'm unfortunately compelled to point out that it's my belief that the photo of Summer Glau as River Tam is in fact from the Sarah Conner Chronicles not Firefly. I could be wrong and if so I offer my most sincere apology.
--------------------------------------------------------------------

To which I replied ...
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Sir:

You've nothing to apologize for.

The website on which I found the photo said it was Glau as River Tam, but I HAVE wondered about her appearance.

I didn't consider the Sarah Conner Chronicles (which I loved) because I mostly remember her in jeans and a leather jacket.

She's listed as appearing in another Joss Whedon show, "Dollhouse" and I wondered if the picture could in fact have come from there (she seems to be in a LOT of things where she winds up holding a gun, don't she :-)

I'm going to see what I can find that I'm SURE is her as River Tam. You could be right about it being from Sarah Conner Chronicles; I don't know yet. But I suspect that you are dead right about that photo NOT being from Firefly.

Thank you for writing. I always appreciate input.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Ok, then.  Lets see if I can do better this time.

Our first introduction to River Tam occurs at the end of the first part of the two-part opening episode of "Firefly".  That episode is also named "Serenity".  In it, Malcolm opens up the cryogenic box that Doctor Simon Tam has brought aboard, to find out why they have a government agent on their asses, revealing ...
River Revealed - from screened.com
Malcolm: "Huh!"

"The waif" - Doesn't she look like she wouldn't (couldn't) harm a fly? ...
from polyvore.com

And here she is in "living weapon" mode (in the movie "Serenity") after she's gone out to say "Hi" to a bunch of invading reavers (they be the ones on the floor). ...
from instapunk.com

I like these pictures.  I just hope I haven't strayed too far from the whole point of this post, which amounts to a "Don't meddle!  Just leave us the Hell alone!" philosophy, which I truly believe the series and movie embodies.
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Monday, January 02, 2012

Peacemaker

This post is about airplanes (the B-36 in particular), and is gonna have a bunch of boring photos of same.

If it's more interesting photos you seek, check out Wolf Howling's
  The Genius of Capitalism - An Alien Cathouse ...
Brothel owner Dennis Hof and famed Hollywood Madame Heidi Fleiss are teaming up to open the new "Area 51" brothel in Vegas, where all of the girls will be playing the roles of various vixens of Sci-Fi fame. It is capitalism at its most creative. 

No way can I compete with that.  Give it a look (it's safe). I'll wait.

03 Jan 2012 - 17:00 - I've already gotten a bit fond of this post, so naturally I just had to tweak it, play with it and add a couple of pictures.  Will I ever learn to just leave well enough alone?  Probably not. :-)

Ok, then.  Back to the subject at hand ...
Convair B-36D Peacemaker - from www.saceliteguard.com
("Peacemaker" was a proposed name from Convair
 - it was never an official name)

When I was a kid in San Antonio in the '50s, B-36's operated out of Kelly AFB (SAC) on the southwest edge of the city and flew over all the time.  It was very rare that one would be low enough to even come close to a view like this one.

More often, the experience was as my brother accurately described in a comment to my previous post ("Blogging is not writing..., which was mostly an expansion of a "To do" list of future posts, including this one) ...

"I'll never forget the sound and the FEEL of one passing over when we lived in San Antone....the damned thing would be so high you couldn't see it but that monstrous drone seemed to come from everywhere and you could feel the vibration if you were standing on hard ground!"

This plane had its genesis before we had officially entered WW2.  In 1941, we were worried that Britain would fall to the Nazis, and instead of having that "unsinkable aircraft carrier" to operate from, we would be looking at doing sorties from Gander, Newfoundland to Berlin, making a round-trip of 5700 miles (9200 km).

Absolutely nothing in our arsenal could even come close to doing that with a decent bomb load, so what was then the United States Army Air Corps (becoming the United States Army Air Forces in June 1941) opened a design competition which was won by the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (later Convair) over a Boeing design in October 1941.

Our entry into WW2 (courtesy of Pearl Harbor) caused the Army to order Consolidated to slow down development of the B-36 and to concentrate on production of their B-24 Liberator bomber, which (with Boeing's B-17) was sufficient for the European theater (policy being to finish off Germany first, and then deal with Japan).

Later, as we looked to the Pacific theater of operations, work was accelerated, but Boeing's B-29 appeared to be capable of doing the job there (which it did with a vengeance).  Did the Japanese have any concept of the wind they had sown and the whirlwind they would reap? ...

       On the morning of December 7th, 1941, when the last Japanese airplane departed Pearl Harbor, some sailors picked up several leaflets which had fluttered down on the burning wreckage of Oahu.  They read: "Goddam Americans all to go hell." Period.
       This was Japan's concept of how to wage psychological warfare against the men of our armed forces.  It proved one thing immediately:  while we knew precious little of the Japanese, they knew even less of us.
       ~Martin Caidin - "A Torch to the Enemy" - 1960

The tools at hand (B-17, B-24 and B-29) were more than sufficient, so there was no real hurry to get on with the B-36.  Indeed, the B-29 was quite horrific enough.

I have a laserdisc of a made-for-TV move Hiroshima (1995), a Canadian-Japanese co-production that is compelling and accurate.  It can be found on DVD, but the DVD does not have the commentary that the laserdisc does.

In that commentary, director Roger Spottiswoode mentions that for interior shots of the B-29, they used one operated by the Confederate Air Force (now politically corrected into the Commemorative Air Force).  They operate what may be the only surviving example of a B-29 in flying condition.

Spottiswoode commiserated with the pilot about that being the only one of the thousands of those magnificent aircraft still flying.  The pilot (an Air Force veteran) was not quite so nostalgic, telling him ...

"You have to remember that this plane was built for one purpose, and one only:  to kill people by the tens of thousands.  One is more than enough!"

The delays (and lack of immediate need) meant that it was August of 1946 before the B-36's first flight.  The Air Force got its first delivery in 1948 at Carswell AFB ...
B-36A arrival Carswell 1948.- from www.dieselpunks

The plane on the left, the awesome B-29, almost looks like a toy next to it. 

03 Jan 2012 - 17:00 - I have to admit that picture looks a bit weird;  it looks like night at the edge of the field, while the shadows suggest high noon.  I suspect that is exactly the case.

What's beyond the edge of the field is a residential area with a lot of trees with dark foliage.  Carswell was a bit northwest of Ft. Worth, Texas, where development and production were moved to from California. The picture was taken in June 1948, apparently around noon, and the field was so brilliantly lit by sunlight (almost as if by a nuclear flash;   which is of course exactly what sunlight is) that adjusting the exposure to a more reasonable level resulted in that area above looking like the middle of the night.  The light objects in that area are houses peeking through the trees;  not lights.

I truly kid you not.  1'll bet this is closer to what that scene actually looked like ...


Welcome to Texas summer; now you know why pilots sport those cool sunglasses. Not as a fashion statement, but to prevent being blinded by the sunlight on a Texas airfield. :-)

For a further size comparison ...
B-36 - cropped from image at fas.org

FYI - Clicking on any of these images will get you a bigger one.

Oddly enough, the B-36 was not built with the atomic bomb in mind (because of the secrecy of the Manhattan Project), but its size made it the only plane in service, for a long time, that could handle the first-generation hydrogen bombs that were entering our arsenal.

Because of that fact it was the mainstay of our nuclear deterrence and was probably the intended tool to back up SAC General Curtis LeMay's promise to leave the Soviet Union "a smoking ruin" were they ever to attack us.  For that reason they were not used in the Korean war, as we still had plenty of B-29s available for strategic bombing there.

The B-36 served for only 10 years (1949 to 1959), primarily because it had already become obsolete as we were well into the jet age when it entered service.

You'll notice, in the Carswell picture above, that the delivered model (B-36A)  had only the six piston engines to drive it.  Six 3250 hp engines (vs the four 2200 hp engines that powered the B-29).  Beginning with the "D" model and continuing with subsequent models, four jet engines were added near the ends of the wings, in twin pods very similar to those on the Boeing B-47;  so similar in fact, I can't help wondering if they are the same pods, with only slight modifications to the pylons for mounting on a very different wing.

04 Jan 2012 - 12:27 - A little more research ( Castle Air Museum RB-36H Peacemaker 51-13730 ) discloses that is exactly the case about the jet pods.  I actually get something right once in a while.  Cool :-) ...
B-36 Jet Pod - from www.air-and-space.com - added 04 Jan 2012 13:20

That essentially is the same jet pod as used by early models of Boeing's B-47, probably without the outrigger landing gear of the B-47 (although the pod retains the fairing to enclose it). Convair bought some from Boeing, and used a modified pylon to attach them to the B-36's wing.  Biggest difference is the metal petals that expand to close off the inlet when the engine is not running (which is most of the time) to keep said engine from windmilling in the windstream while the bomber is cruising.  They retract when you need to fire up those engines.

Those jets were mainly used to assist take-off (the earlier models used a lot of runway getting airborne with a maximum load) and for extra dash speed over the target after releasing the bomb and trying to get the Hell out of Dodge before it went off.  Otherwise, they normally weren't running.

B-36 formation - from www.456fis.org - added 03 Jan 2012 - 17:00

In the short span of its service, its replacements were already being developed.  To try and extend the life of the design, Convair made a version with swept wings and tail surfaces, powered by eight jet engines of the same type as used on its ultimate successor, the Boeing B-52.

This version was ...
Convair YB-60 - from jetpilotoverseas.files.wordpress.com

... designated YB-60 and was in competition with the B-52, ultimately losing because, while quite beautiful, it was outperformed by the B-52 in every parameter.  Not all that surprising as Convair was trying to evolve a ten-year old design while Boeing started with a clean slate.

Did the Air Force make the right choice there?  The B-52 first flew in 1952 (same year as the YB-60;  I remember seeing the first YB-60 flights in newsreels in theaters at that time) and went into service in 1955.  So, its service life is nearing 57 years now, and it just might have another decade or two left in it.

All in all, the B-36 was a pretty awesome airplane.  Even though it never saw action.

Anything else out there that's just as awe-inspiring?

Well, the B-52 ain't exactly a shrinking-violet.

But, I'd be tempted to go with a Russian model from that era ...
Tupolev Tu-95 Bear - from globalsecurity.org

A contemporary of the B-52, it was the Soviet Union's premier long range heavy bomber.  A monster of similar size, it's powered by four 15000 hp turboprop engines:  each driving a pair of contra-rotating (turning in opposite directions) propellers.

Possibly one of the fastest propeller-driven aircraft ever, its engines drive those huge propellers (at least their tips) faster than sound, making it arguably the loudest airplane on the planet.

Because of its long range it has been (and currently still is) used as a reconnaissance aircraft operating along our eastern coast and therefore attracting some of our fighters to escort it and show them that we care.

Blogger Frank Martin (Varifrank) noted in a post about one of those enounters ...

I once had an F-4 Pilot tell me that the Bear was the only aircraft that could be found in the air by sound alone, that they only had to turn off the radar and stick their helmets against the canopy and listen for the sound of those huge turboprops.  The noise from the Bear's engines is supposed to be enough to stun a small animal into a coma at 50 yards.

There is a naval version of this plane, designated Tu-142.  Instead of being outfitted to carry H-bombs, it's loaded with electronics for hunting submarines and also with aerial-dropped torpedoes and anti-ship missiles for dealing with them.

The Indian Navy has some of these, and several are tasked with patrolling the waters off of Somalia to help with anti-piracy efforts there.  In May 2011, a Chinese freighter was attacked by Somali pirates and called for help.  An Indian Tu-142M was in the area and buzzed them at low level.

Those pirates probably got this view of it ...
Tu-142M2 - from acig.org

I have no idea if the Indian pilot decided to have a bit of fun and fire-walled the throttles when he passed over them, but considering the noise described above, I'll sure bet he got their attention.

Bottom line:  they left.

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