Friday Funny – Teasing the Dog

30 03 2012

Cold War History: Domestic Propaganda

26 03 2012

I came across this public service announcement, evidently issued by the U.S. Air Force and Convair, a onetime producer of fighter aircraft (and “A Division of General Dynamics” as you can see in the poster):

Thanks to Vintage Ads and user spuzzlightyear for this find:

Be assured, if that picture were to scale, that milkman would be cowering in fear on the ground, shattered milk bottles all around him.  Then again, anyone would have done the same; that would be a “low pass” if ever there was such a thing!  That lead plane appears to have barely cleared the roof of the house in the background.  OK, it probably was not meant to be scale, but it’s funny to imagine.

(As an aside, we have been out in the desert up on a small plateau surveying the landscape, and have had fighters come screaming right over us.  It is terrifying – it’s like the biggest bird you ever saw came swooping down at you so fast that you never saw nor heard them coming.  It flashes over you and then it’s gone, and a split second later a deafening roar as the sounds catches up.  It’s quite terrifying as you can probably imagine.)

The caption, for those of you having a hard time reading it, reads (their emphasis):


Freedom Has a New Sound !

All over America these days the blast of supersonic flight is shattering the old familiar sounds of city and countryside.

At U.S. Air Force bases strategically located near key cities our Airmen maintain their round the clock vigil, ready to take off on a moment’s notice in jet aircraft like Convair’s F-102A all-weather interceptor.  Every flight has only one purpose – your personal protection!

The next time jets thunder overhead, remember that the pilots who fly them are not willful disturbers of your peace; they are patriotic young Americans affirming your New Sound of Freedom!

Published for better understanding of the mission of the U.S.A.F. and Air Defense Command

Convair – A Division of General Dynamics Corporation


Basically they are saying, when you start getting upset by all of the screaming jets and sonic booms, remember that it’s not simply a bunch of “fighter jocks” messing around up there, but rather they are practicing to be able to (hopefully) save your ass in the case of an attack.

I love where they chose to capitalize the letters (we call that “Initial Casing”, as opposed to ALL CAPS, in editorial jargon), and where they chose to emphasize using the italics.  In “round the clock vigil,” why don’t they italicize the word “vigil”?  In the last part, why did they include the word “your” in the italics?  Very strange, and yet somehow it fits into that 1950s design dynamic.

The F-102 Delta Dagger was an early supersonic jet fighter interceptor, one of the “Century Series” of aircraft, designed primarily to fly up to intercept and destroy incoming Soviet bombers.  To carry out that mission, they stood by on high alert, fueled and armed on runways around the U.S. (and the world) with crews at the ready.

It was the first operational supersonic interceptor in the Air Force inventory.  One of its design elements was the incorporation of what was then a very advanced fire-control system, which used radar and an automated computer system to direct the pilot where to fly the aircraft in order to automatically launch its missiles toward the incoming bombers.

Incredibly, by today’s standards, the fire-control radar reached out only 30 miles and began tracking targets individually at 15 miles!  Assuming both the F-102 and the incoming Soviet bombers were traveling at or near Mach 1 – the speed of sound, roughly 700 mph near sea level – that distance would be closed awfully fast.

Another aspect of its design was its internal missile bay.  Most fighters back then, as well as now, carried their weapons on external mounts under the fuselage and wings, called pylons.  However, in order for this early interceptor aircraft to achieve supersonic speeds, the Convair designers built a system into the fuselage where doors opened up beneath the plane and exposed the missiles only when they were ready to fire.

You can see a fine picture of that here:

In the cockpit, I love the early radar screen with the shade hood, above the flight instruments.  The pilot would be looking right “down the barrel” of the radar scope, to steer his airplane towards the incoming threat.

Stranger Than Fiction

20 03 2012

Today we relate a truly bizarre real-life story that played out about a month ago, in Sacramento, California.

At a meeting of a local Sacramento-area model aircraft club, one of the members had a violent confrontation with another member, ending tragically with both of them dead.  It turned out to be a love triangle involving the older man’s wife, who was also a club member and in attendance.

The bizarre twist?  The older man was 73, and the younger guy was 62. The wife of thr 73-year-old was 49 (!!!). 

These are people who should have been old enough to know better!  That is to say, old enough to know better than to cheat on their spouse, date a married woman, or shoot someone over it.

Here’s the cops and possibly a club member taking one of their RC airplanes in as evidence. That is a really slick airplane, by the way, an electric ducted fan F-86 Sabre Jet – at least they had good taste in airplanes! 


The way it went down, according to the reports linked here and above, an argument broke out in the parking lot, ending with the first shooting and fatality. The older fellow then shot at his wife, missing her but shooting out the windows in the Sacramento Municipal Utilities District where the club rents a room for their meetings.

He pursued her inside, but one of the other club members (who was evidently not involved in the triangle) persuaded the enraged gunman to go back outside. When he saw the police begin to arrive, he shot and killed himself.

Truly one for the “truth is stranger than fiction” file – very sad.

Friday Funny – Sorta

16 03 2012

I will admit that it’s not that the events that inspired this story is funny – at the core, it is a crime and morally reprehensible – the funny part is the picture (and what it insinuates, namely that Twilight star Taylor Lautner resembles a llama).

Found quite randomly on a site called FilmDrunk:


The woman on the left is a 31-year-old English teacher in Hemet, California, who seduced and slept with a 17-year-old male student.

The article on FilmDrunk is so hilarious that I encourage everyone to go read it.

Go ahead, you can come back to RttRL when you’re done, we’ll still be here:

The best two lines from this piece:

“Riverside County is the Florida of California”


“My sources say the boy tried to hide the romance, but failed on account of being a horrible, horrible actor.”

Ha!  Now that is pure gold!

Deep Dive with James Cameron

14 03 2012

This item was recently spotted by our Paris bureau chief:


Filmmaker James Cameron will soon be making a trip – a solo trip, by the way – to one of the deepest parts of Earth’s oceans, the Mariana Trench.

The Mariana Trench is an underwater geologic feature caused by two tectonic plates coming together south of Japan and east of the Philippines.  It is more than 1,500 miles/2,400 km long and averages about 43 miles/70 km I’m width, with an average depth of over 6 miles/11 km! 

Imagine how far six miles is when traveling on foot.  Now, imagine swimming straight down for six miles.  At the bottom, the pressure exerted by all of the water six miles above you is roughly 1,000 times greater than the standard atmospheric pressure at sea level – about 15,750 pounds per square inch.

James Cameron will make the voyage in a single seat submersible called the Deepsea Challenger.  He will be only the third person to visit the Challenger Deep portion of the Trench (a U.S. Navy expedition in 1960 had a two man crew). 


Once on the bottom, he will spend “several hours” down there filming and collecting samples, as opposed to the original craft’s duration of only 20 minutes.



Links to the story on BoingBoing and on the National Geographic websites.

Ride the Pony

13 03 2012

Now THIS is a cool advertisement:


Friday Funnies – Ugly Sweaters and Wallabies

9 03 2012

This week, we’ve got another doubleheader of Friday Funnies.

First up is another entry in the “what were they thinking with this ad?” category.


I’m sorry, is this supposed to compel someone to purchase any of these items?  It’s like the top half of her didn’t bother looking at what the bottom half decided to wear today.  Not that those pants would be acceptable in any outfit.

And the shoes!  And the way they posed the model – WTF?  I know American Apparel certainly has a look or theme with their advertising – I like that about them actually – but this is simply an awful outfit, I think it stinks.

Full disclosure – I am hardly some fashion maverick. I tend to blend into a crowd, fashion-wise (exactly as I prefer).  Even I can recognize a trainwreck when I see one.

Next up comes an “only in Australia” moment captured on film (or its digital equivalent).  Two weeks ago marked the opening round of the World Superbike Championship (production-based motorcycle roadracing).  The first races were held at Philip Island, on Australia’s southern coast near Melbourne.


That is a wallaby, little cousin to the kangaroo, happily interrupting things at the track. 

Courtesy of Cycle News.

Dogs Underwater!

7 03 2012


The Guardian newspaper in the UK recently featured the photos of a photographer named Seth Casteel

I think he must stay underwater in a SCUBA outfit to get these shots.  Whatever his method, he has produced some amazing shots.

I’ve included a cute sample above but there are some that are more sinister. Definitely worth a visit to Seth’s website:

Overheard at the Pharmacy

2 03 2012

I came down with a sudden and aggressive cold this week. It has really sucked – rarely do I get so ill from a common cold virus, thank God.

After staying home for two days, in bed almost all of the time, I decided to go see a doctor. He prescribed me an antibiotic, plus a bunch of other expensive shit that I don’t need – an asthma inhaler (???), cough syrup, and a nasal spray.

While the clerk at the pharmacy was helping me, a woman who had just received her prescription and walked off came back to the counter, waving the largest clear prescription bottle I’ve ever laid eyes on. She was probably in her late 50s, a white lady with darkly tanned skin and stringy blonde hair.

“Excuse me, this isn’t right,” she said, “I’m supposed to get tablets.”

“Those are tablets,” the other pharmacist said.

“No I’m supposed to get PILLS, not these things,” she answered, giving the enormous vial a shake for emphasis.  “Look at the prescription!”

Now totally distracted, the pharmacist sets aside my order and goes over to a small basket and selects a small Rx paper from a stack of several. He walks over to her and says quite loudly:

“See, it says right here – ’40mg METHADONE TABLETS’ – those are the dissolving 40mg tabs.”

“I thought it was supposed to be pills,” she says, with a sinking tone.  “These are too big to swallow.”

“If you quarter them, you can swallow them in pieces,” the pharmacist offered. “Besides, those are the only 40mg methadone tablets we sell.”

That seemed to satisfy her, as she immediately agreed, thanked him, turned and left without any further discussion.

Methadone, for those who don’t know, is a synthetic opioid prescribed sometimes as a painkiller, but more often as an anti-addictive for patients with an opioid drug dependency.

What a scene, especially since I was sick and really just trying to get the hell out of there as quickly as possible.

As soon as she left, one of the pharmacy staff uttered a few syllables (which I couldn’t quite hear) and the entire crew fell apart laughing. Apparently this was not the first time they’d had such an encounter.

“You guys are really busy today,” I said.

“We’re always this busy,” said the clerk who was helping me.

I’m sure they see this crazy crap all the time.