October 21, 2014
As a part of long-format fly-in in Page, AZ, a circus of Flight Design CTs visited Cal Black, UT (U96) on October 18. Photographed is an assembly of 6 CTSW and 5 CTLS models, 11 total.
The picture is basically what the present (or future) of personal aviation could look like if the American middle class kept their money. The increased pressure from the regulation created the LSA format: a light (600 kg gross), 2-seat airplane with a maximum speed of 120 knots. More than 100 companies threw their hats into the ring of the LSA competition, and the Flight Design emerged victorious. Their iconic product, the CT, is significantly smaller than typical "Cessna" that was the face of personal aviation in the 1980s. It is, however, much faster, burns less gas, and carries more load than Cessna 150/152, the classic 2-seater. It also includes an airframe parachute as standard equipment.
However, CT's amazing performance came at a significant price, and very few could afford it. So where Cessna sold at the order of 10,000 airplanes, Flight Design sold a 100 (current fleet in the U.S. is just above 300). Note that CT is about 1/3rd price of a new Cessna 172: $150,000 versus $450,000 in 2014. Where CT is unaffordable, the aluminum classic is downright insane (as in, you have to be clinically insane to buy one).
October 10, 2014
Having despaired for buying anything good for Android at all, I have given a try to a free VN game from a D-list company: Airs by ten+cross. The game is unvoiced and its main attraction is in easy reading. Pretty much the same as Kanon, then.
Obviously, the story is not likely to be a heavy hitter like Kanon. In fact, it is didactic like The Rocket Company. The core of Airs is the eponymous computer system and the characters spend quite a bit of time on exposition and explanations of the system's features. Nonetheless, it's pleasant enough so far.
September 27, 2014
I'm back to flying Remos GX again, and there are bad news: I'm not comfortable with its ground handling anymore. For some reason, it always feels to me that airplane is about to tilt to the left, so every time I land, I dial right aileron. This causes the airplane to drift left of centerline on touchdown, because aileron deflected downwards creates drag. When I return to the center, the right turn makes me afraid even more.
Of course it's purely psychological. CTLS, for example, has an even more narrow track, and we don't see those scrapping wingtips, do we?
My reason, I think, has something to do with flying a single seater, where the pilot obviously is on the centerline.
I can make myself to do the right thing, in the same way an instrument rated pilot can overcome vertigo, but it's just not pleasant. I also have concerns as to how it's going to play out in crosswinds, where I must do the right thing without thinking about it.
September 19, 2014
At a recent fly-in (into which I drove... oh, the indignity), I saw something special: a realy, honest, airworthy Affordaplane. For those not aware -- and who can blame you? -- the Affordaplane is an airplane for those who are even poorer than I am. You can build it for a couple of thousand dollars in materials, if you're handy enough and know your local hardware stores well. You need another two grand for an engine, but still, it's purposefuly designed to be an astonishing bargain, and extremely easy to build from scratch. By comparison, my own Carlson costs at least $9,000 to build and uses a $6,900 engine. Its core is a factory-welded space frame, that is quite challenging to make and requires special jigs. But to build Affordaplane, you only need a large workshop table, and know how to drill neat holes in aluminum. Note how its fuselage is actually a 2-dimensional frame.
It's a fantastic flying machine for those who love aviation, but cannot afford its more conventional formats. I heard it flies quite decently, too. Of course, cross-countries in Affordaplane are even more challenging than in Carlson. At my estimate, its range should be limited to 40 nautical miles. Maybe 50 with larger tanks. So it basically has limitations of a Part 103 ultralight.
Speaking of which, the cheapest factory-built ultralights come in at about $18,000..20,000 nowadays (my favourite is Aerolite 103). Building your own Affordaplane not only lets you have it cheaper, but also add larger tanks and engines. My home base is 5000 ft MSL and therefore most legal ultralights simply cannot get off the ground. The example in the photo, however, flies quite a bit.
September 15, 2014
In a review Joel Kotkin's book, Jay Cost summarizes the new classes thus:
Kotkin asserts that a new ruling class has emerged from the upper echelon of society, one that is starting to rival the oligarchs of the late 19th century. In the Gilded Age, it was the railroad barons, oil magnates, and sundry industrial tycoons who had in their pockets machine politicians. Today, our incipient rulers come from the technology sector, which sprung up in California and Seattle in the wake of the computer and Internet revolutions. Joining them is a new "clerisy” of elites from academia, government, think tanks, and media.
The two camps are united around the concept of so-called "gentry liberalism,” which is defined by postwar ideals such as environmentalism, consumer rights, and cultural leftism. This differentiates the new oligarchs from the old ones in important ways. The so-called Robber Barons had an interest in economic growth and, ultimately, a vibrant middle class that could afford to purchase the goods they made. Today’s would-be oligarchs lack such an incentive. As Kotkin notes, one need not be middle class to afford a smartphone. And the new oligarch’s ideological commitment to environmentalism usually means stifling development for the sake of "sustainability.”
Arrayed against the oligarchs is a group Kotkin calls the yeoman class, a phrase that harkens back to the small, independent farmers idealized by the Jeffersonian Republicans of the early 19th century. Today’s yeomanry is not on the farm, but is composed of small businessmen and property holders. Often aligned with them are the old industries—oil, natural gas, coal, and other extracted-resource concerns—that share the yeoman’s priority for broad-based economic growth.
The observations and analysis above strike to the very heart of the issue. However, Cost finds something missing from Kotkin's work:
First, the clerisy and the tech oligarchs constitute a minority of society. For them to have a stranglehold on our democratic politics thus requires an alliance with other groups. The 19th century robber barons developed precisely such an alliance.
How does the new oligarchy possess power beyond its numbers? The answer inevitably gets back to the class that is often left out of Kotkin’s analysis: the poor, particularly racial and ethnic minorities. The tech elite and clerisy are lodged within the Democratic party, which depends on poor and minority voters for a large share of its vote, and the logroll that exists between the two sides is crucial.
In my experience, there's more to it. Cost (and Cost's Kotkin) splits "elite" and "clerisy" -- see "and" joining them above. In my view, there is a large glue class between them: the non-elite tech cum the clerisy, with members of that class freely migrating in the pool. Look no further than Val Henson who went on from programming to agitating. A class above her is Larry Lessig made the same lateral move. Some, like mjg59, engage in harmful activism (such as 0xB16B00B5) while continuing tech work, time permitting. These people constitute canon fodder of their liberal thought-masters, willingly identifying with the new liberals. The liberal oligarhs do not merely have the structures of the government to do their bidding, but a large number of the gluepersons, too.
UPDATE: See also a column in USA Today by Instapundit. He is also short on suggestions and fails to identify the tech henchmen.
August 26, 2014
The 2014 showing wasn't a rousing success. We have a semi-pro car racer in the group, who said that Initial D 06 was very true technically, but "too serious for a cartoon". Sunred 01 didn't get a chance to unfold (same as at Ani-nouto, basically). Surprisingly, however, Gurren-Lagann 22 "This Is My Last Duty" went down quite well. Even the guy who loudly and incessantly talked on unrelated topics was unable to ruin it.
At the end, audience requested boobies, which put me in a difficult spot: I did not pre-load any fanservice shows. I selected AKB0048 10, the paradise vacation episode, as the closest substitude available, and something good happened. I always hated that episode for using Makoto as laughing stock, and skipped or fast-forwarded most of it. My favourite is S2 04, the general election episode. It has a post-credit sequence, where -- sorry, spoilers -- Nagisa declares to Chieri that she's going to be a formidable opponent. She uses "kyouteki" (naturally spelled as "強敵", "strong" + "enemy"). What I didn't realize, she referred to the same line Chieri used in the 10, on the account of Nagisa making kirara sparkle. Back then, it looked like Nagisa was winning, but the tables were turned now. Man alive, how wonderful it is?
July 27, 2014
I mentioned a local airline going to Los Alamos before, but this is different. On my visit to Clovis, they showcased an air service by a company called Boutique Air, flying between Dallas and Clovis. The difference being that NM Airlines and Great Lakes are Part 121 carriers, receiving government subsidies for "Essential Air Service", while Boutique Air is a purely commercial operator. They fly a luxuriously appointed Pilatus PC-12 under an authority of Part 135, or "air taxi", which probably saves them just enought money to stay afloat. I'm sure tickets are not $45 either. It's pretty awesome that such service manages to exist in the days of late socialist America.
July 19, 2014
This VN is a little trinklet for something like 4 hours, and I only bought because there was next to nothing else to buy at Google Play. And it's not Kanon for sure. Not only story-wise, but also the port to the platform is poorly done: if the OS restarts the app, you have to continue from the last save. Fine on a laptop, not so on a tablet. Also, fonts cannot be re-sized, and there's no easy playback (or not easily found).
Art, however, is pleasing to the eye, and the protagonist is voiced, which helps to compensate for terrible fonts.
UPDATE: I should probably make a greater emphasis on the art. Typical VNs before the recent wave of anime knock-offs (such as Toradora Portable) used to sport fairly ugly art. Their CGs were done with extremely unpleasant "computer sheen" on them, too. Hime-hime Booking is different in using 100% CG, but done in a better 2010 style: it's soft and pretty. It became especially striking at desktop resolution, when I parsed my screencap stash.
Here's a fragment, cropped to its natural resolution:
July 04, 2014
I bought a pound of Roshen's version of Korovka candy.
The owner of Roshen is currently the president of Ukraine and whiles his time away by giving orders for vanton bombing of population centers of Novorossia. The word of the day appears to be: Take that, Russians! Golodomor revenge with phosphorus!
Unfortunately, however, Poroshenko's candy turned out to be substandard in side-by-side testing. Not recommended.
June 28, 2014
Look at the picture. Notice anything interesting?
Apparently, the static port was clogged by a bug that laid eggs in it.
Since pilots are supposed to be able to fly by feel, some flight instructors use partial-panel caps to block airspeed during primary training. My primary instructor wasn't one of them, so today was my first no-instrument landing.
Another thing: I am unable to find it in the official list of Oral Examination questions on the FAA exam, but it's common to ask what happens if static port gets plugged. The real life answer is that the altimeter shows the altitude at which it was plugged, but I do not recall the official answer ever mentioning the effect on the ASI. But as we see, the airspeed is measured by the difference between pitot and static pressure, and as the static pressure gets conserved, pitot pressure drops below it as the airplane climbs. Result is the zero airspeed. It could even go negative if the instrument allowed it.
As soon as the problem manifested, I made a circuit and landed. Fortunately, the plane was built with easily removable (albeit not folding) wings, and air pressure lines had QDs in them for that purpose. So, I unlated the QDs, then blew and sucked at the lines until they cleared. Once done, I put the lines together and went on my mission.
June 20, 2014
Since Kanon's value is spending the time with its characters, let's glance at what's offered. The main thing that struck me overall was how the personalities felt non-anime. Or mostly, anyway. Mai would be matching for the "dark and tall" type, and one could stretch Nayuki over a shape of "girl next door". Even those two were well developed (as we know, Lawson opened up to Mai eventually and Omo was hardcore enough for Nayuki to rage at the anime).
Yuichi's penchant for tactless jokes was so obvious that even the GameFAQs observed:
He is friendly and outgoing, and though as nice as of a person he is, he has yet to learn the sensitivity of women. He constantly teases the main cast of girls throughout the story which varies in severity depending on the girl. Despite this, he does have a soft side that likens him to an older brother as noted by Shiori Misaka.
Yeah. What's interesting, however, is how Shiori made him tone it down. Draw your own conclusions.
Shiori by herself was rather powerfuly drawn. Omo said that her defining trait was being an enigma. There's some truth to that, but she also emitted an intense aura of romanticism. I don't recall even seeing anything comparable in anime before. As the plot unveiled her mystery, Shiori's interplay of stoicism and weakness also came into view.
Ayu, the main heroine, develops on an ultimate idea that is familiar to anyone who's ever had an imaginary girlfriend. Still, I think the action field available to her is rather small out of necessity, since she's functionally 10 years old. She does not have a range of experiences: gastronomical ones most of all, but dealing with love too.
Makoto is handicapped by a similar problem: she does not have a full access to her own consciouseness. In practical terms, however, when she has to learn what a book or a nikuman is, it's amusing and endearing. Unfortunately, she is taken away from us too soon.
I think overall, in the game, Shiori has the deepest character and Ayu loses to her through no fault of her own. Not that it would be a productive way to look at it. Everyone offers something in this story.
 At some point, Yuichi observes after one of Shiori's remarks: "これが本当の姿なのだろうか？" or, approximately, "Is this her true shape?"
May 23, 2014
A post at Ani-nouto under the same title dealt with the Kanon angle of the port to iPad, let's look at the iPad itself as a vehicle for Kanon. It should be obvious immediately that as far as proprietary platforms go, iPad is infinitely superior to PSP. Screencaps required a hacked firmware on PSP, but are fully supported on iPad, for one thing. Of course games being 100% downloaded has the usual downsides of "end of ownership", but it's not like I could archive UMD media either.
A bigger problem really is the region lock. UMD was not region-locked, but finding Japanese games for iPad requires certain trickery. The sole reason I hit on Kanon was that it was one the few untranslated games available in the American iTunes. Having that much beats having none, however, which is the situation at Kindle.
Within the confines of iTunes, Kanon has an advantage of right-pricing: it's only $8. It's not one of the disposable $3 gamelets, and not the "equal price to what oppressed Japanese consumers paid on game consoles" (hello Shiny Festa, now back at $55). Best $8 I have every spent in Apple empire, no doubt. Having played it, I would actually be happy to pay more, say $20, considering the amount of entertainment hours extracted and the quality of it. But the problem is, I had no idea at the time. If it were $20, I would have put it on the wishlist, but not actually bought it.
Coming back to the whole untranslated game thing, iPad also offers an advantage of running support applications. I bought one Japanese lookup app and used it extensively with Kanon. Imagine fumbling with the volume of The New Nelson dictionary in a passenger seat of an airplane.
Speaking of which, the battery life of iPad and immersiveness of Kanon is the killer combo. I was able to play it on airplane for 4 hours at a time without being bored. At some point the guy in the next seat had a PS Vita, but too bad for Sony. Too little, too late.
Pictured: Kanon in Der Biergarten, Atlanta.
P.S. If someone could verify the status of Area 11 gaming in Google Store, that would be interesting. Note that on most tablets I can easily side-load APKs.
P.P.S. Or how to use Japanese iTunes.
May 22, 2014
Back in Kanon's day, the whole idea of the ren-ai game was a quest for pr0n. A Japanese off-shoot of Leisure Suit Larry, if you will. As such, the difficulty of getting the result mattered. The harder one had to work, the more valuable the sex scene became, or so the wisdom went. Kanon, however, redefined the rules completely. It is extremely simple to play. There are no magic reloads, looping conversations, hidden dialogs. The player makes natural choices which lead to a natural outcome. I only had to reload once. The value of the game is not in its difficulty, but in its content. It's the value of spending the time with its characters in its magical world.
So, the versions of Kanon with the sex cut out are just as beloved as the H-rated original. Which is to say, all of them. I was not there, but I think it was necessary to have sex scenes in order to draw the players of the period in. They would not understand the concept of ren-ai without the final CG. Once they were familiar with the concept, the hook could be discarded. Came for the porn, stayed for the story.
 Strictly speaking, one must reload to get on Sayuri mini-arc of Mai path. But it does not matter.
 To get on Shiori path, one must refuse to go to school to retrieve Nayuki's notebook. That was not a natural choice.
 We now have games that combine great story and great difficulty. When I played Toradora Portable, I only managed to snatch Minorin once.
May 11, 2014
I was a stick in the mud at Brickmuppet's on the topic previously, but the events seem to be overtaking my curmudgeonry. When the pro-Kiev paramilitaries burned some 40 people alive in Odessa on May 3rd, it could still be doubted just who exactly was burned: "protestors" or "terrorists". However, on May 9 in Mariupol a bunch of WWII women veterans staged a march to celebrate the victory day. Kiev regime prohibited such celebrations (because reasons). At some point, an Ukrainian tank opened machine gun fire on them, killing a few. It wasn't a withering fire, but since all of them were beyond 80 years old, I suspect a few more died in the stampede. Onlookers started grabbing plastic chairs in a nearby cafe and throw them at Ukrainian soldiers, at which point they got shot up a bit. The whole episode was filmed from many locations and there's a ton of videos circulating Youtube, Rutube, Vimeo, and whatnot.
What do you think BBC said about it yesterday? One sentence: "Ukrainian troops clashed with pro-Russian militants and killed 20". I suppose those babushkas were pretty militant. I mean, who wouldn't, at ripe age of 85? But still, would anyone watching BBC even imagine what actually happened?
Not that BBC distorted reporting is anything new, but get what a supposedly sharp foreignblogger Michael Totten quoted approvingly while coblogging at Instapundit:
Lacking popular support in Ukraine, Putin’s warlords will do what terrorists do: seize buildings, promote anti-Semitism, imprison and kill opposition leaders, attack Roma and other minorities, take neutral observers and journalists hostage, and abuse the population of whichever cities or towns they terrorize. One especially brutal terrorist, the warlord of the Sloviansk Putinstan, Vyacheslav Ponomaryov recently told a female journalist the following: "We’ll adopt all necessary measures to prevent elections in the southeast from taking place. We’ll take someone prisoner and hang him by his balls. Got it?”
(originally by one Alexander Motyl)
I'm afraid I have a few questions, which Michael Totten forgot to ask. To begin with, we are told that "Putin's warlords" will do a bunch of awful things, if the popular support disappears. Will A. Motyl eat his hat if they do not? And what does it have to do with anything that's going on today?
Why is it important that the interviewer was female? Is Mr. Motyl a native speaker, and it yes, why did he never hear about "hanging anyone by the balls"? It's almost as good as Ann Althouse deliberating if Trayvon called Zimmerman a "creepy ass-cracker" or "creepy-ass cracker". Except that no anglophone knows the secret.
Anyhow. The Putin's aggression is a wonderful narrative, but it looks to me that it does not explain the hideous brutality of Kiev government, which easily exceeds what Putin has ever done (in Ukraine, anyway). Why, last time I heard about such stuff, it was done by pro-government death squads in El-Salvador. I am afraid that after dealing with it, a few residents of Ukraine might be inclined to provide the popular support for Putin, which Mr. Motyl declares non-existent. And we will never know, unless we visit YouTube.
May 08, 2014
Sparrow did not have very large production run. Between the original, II, XTC, and Sport Special (SS), there were perhaps 100 to 200 kits shipped. Trolling the Internet, I identified 4 SS versions existing. Naturally, I keep tabs on them a bit.
One of them, N367BZ, is now for sale. The owner, Jim Steere, tried to sell it for a while, actually, and his price went down accordingly. A week ago he posted an ad to Barnstormers offering it for $10k. This is less than I paid for the same airplane.
I do not understand why he has trouble selling. Sure, he gets no points for the latest effort. Barnstormers ads work much, much, much better with pictures, and the airplane looks gorgeous in its previous photos. But he posted ads with photos before.
About the only area in which my plane is superior is that I have a BRS parachute. And a radio. Everything else is same or better on Jim's. Well, we could debate merits of my awesome Grove gear that is an envy of many homebuilders. Anyhow, N367BZ seems like a fine airplane, but... No sale even for $10,000. What gives?
April 25, 2014
The Planes movie is rather transparent in its setup: the story is simple and familiar with few deviations from the basic outline of the plucky hero winning a competition. Not much is there. However, as a love card for aviation, it exceeded all of my expectations. It's amazing, tremendous.
To begin with, all the details were gotten very right, starting with the iconic designs, and I'm not just talking about the F-4U. At one point a Cherokee taxied across the foreground, and I could tell right away that it was a Cherokee, and not, say, a Sundowner or Commander, despite all the catoonification. And the Cherokee was only shown in that one sequence. The operational side was a little less developed, except for the carrier ops, which are always exciting on video. Still, not bad.
Overall, I'm not one with American 3D animation, but this was great for me. I'm surprised and delighted that someone in the soulless machine of Disney permitted all this to happen.
The interview with the director and staff in DVD extras was a rather sad affair, however. It was very clear that although the director was the airplane nut, his sons were not into it. It is the problem of American aviation in nutshell.
April 11, 2014
I did not try to kill myself checking out every car this time (almost killed myself last year and did not like it). So, the personal highlights follow.
Car of the show is Mitsubishi Mirage. I know that it was maligned by the car press and that supposedly it drives poorly. Sure, it's made by Mitsubishi, which teeters on the exit from the U.S. market. But it only costs $13k! THIRTEEN. I was in the market for "cheap" cars last year (got a Fit). You could not even get a poverty spec Spark for that much. And the Mirage is rather comfortable even for someone 6'5" or 200 cm tall. Even steering and pedals are in the right place. I drove a FIAT 500, and had to drive it with outstretched arms. Sorry, Sergio, but this is way better. I am fighting the urge to visit the dealer and drive one of these.
Of course if we consider quote-unquote "cheap" cars overall, then Honda Fit is still the king. They rolled out the redesigned 2015 model, and it's just as good as the one I bought last year. A little full of electronics, but whatever, it's the life.
The civilian Ford Transit Connect was the close runner-up after Mirage. It's awesome in how purposeful it is. If you need a universal transportation module, nothing better exists on the market. And that headroom! Kickass! Only $25k, too.
Ford brought out the new 2015 Mustang with the IRS, but it was labeled "Prototype Vehicle Locked For Your Protection". Jerks. Jeep people did not bring Renegade either.
The hachiroku is still very nice. Well, there was no change from 2013.
Forrester is nice but overpriced.
Nissan continues to boycott the show, except for Infiniti.
The entry BMW still has a better interior than Mercedes, but the difference is not anywhere as stark as it was in 2013, when Benz was crazily bad. A lot would come down to their infotaiment, but cars were unpowered. Neither brought out one of their new FWD cars. I can understand missing 2AT, see Ford and Jeep above, we are in deep flyover country that did not deserve it. But CLA is a 2014 model! Perhaps I missed it after all?
I had time to sit in S-klasse. Ugh. Gauche as all get out. Even has the analog clock. If that's what the rich have to deal with, I don't want to be rich.
Finally, I pinched my fingers in an Acura door. Window was open and I closed the door while holding the frame. That hurt 3/10. I was too used doing so in the Jeep, but was no Jeep. I suppose it only takes one lesson not to do that for an Acura owner, and it was my own fault, but not an excellent first impression anyway.
February 06, 2014
A discussion at PoA reminded me that writing down one's impression can come handy later, even if, or precisely because it may be distorted or completely false due to inexperience. So, here's what it was getting into Carlson Sparrow Sport Special.
Firstly, I realized that since the Sparrow SS is a single-seater, I had to check myself out. So, I went for a tailwheel refresher with Mr. John Lorenz, widely considered the best tailwheel CFI in the area.
FAA, in their wisdom, dedicated a special attention to low-inertia, high-drag airplanes in Advisory Circular 90-109, Appendix 4. They were concerned that it was too easy for a pilot coming down from traditional airplanes to lose airspeed and crash. While perhaps a potential hazard, it didn't feel like an issue to me. Sparrow SS is not a Quicksilver. It's more like a Cub in how it slows down, and I was equipped to handle that.
The ground handling was the biggest problem and hazard, in particular on rollout. I experienced all kinds of dangerous PIO, both up and down (enough for a prop strike) and left to right (enough for a good look into irrigation channel that lines the runway at my field). But in the air the handling is benign. There's no excessive adverse yaw, stalls are gentle with 27% MAC.
As far as PIO goes, it took about 6 hours to get comfortable. I see now why insurance requires 10 hours in type. I made something like 100 landings in that time. I learned to raise and lower the tail at the right moment, how step on the rudder decisively, and what the aileron input does on the ground. This controls the usual left-right PIO. Fortunately, I have a Matco tailwheel, which allows for easy steering.
To control the porpoising, the biggest help was getting low enough to the ground and stay low while increasing AoA all the way to stall. People mention the sight picture in regards to it, and that's exactly what the main problem was. That, and having the stick in your gut at touchdown. I haven't tried a wheelie yet, as the original builder warned me not to attempt it.
So, rather than the problems with low inertia and high drag, Sparrow presents problems with tailwheel. Otherwise, it's nothing, really.
January 20, 2014
I had no idea these even came in actual 1:72 rather than DLC.
December 28, 2013
Due to various circumstances, I was running low on the "pure" gas, so I refueled with 100LL at a pump for big boys.
While I was there, the next guy in line helped me to deal with the hose. Hose of an airplane pump is much thicker and heavier than that on a common car pump, and something was not working in the latching mechanism of its spool. Anyhow, he held it down while I filled up for 6 gallons (a Cherokee in which I learned to fly takes 50). The helpful gentleman was quite amazed that it was all.
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