Quotulatiousness

November 30, 2017

History of the Gun – Part 2: The Matchlock

Filed under: History, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

RugerFirearms
Published on 10 Dec 2009

The “History of the Gun” online video series produced by Ruger is a unique look at the progression of firearms technology throughout the years, hosted by Senior Editor of Guns & Ammo Garry James. Part 2 examines the Matchlock.

November 29, 2017

History of the Gun – Part 1: The Hand Cannon

Filed under: History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

RugerFirearms
Published on 10 Dec 2009

The “History of the Gun” online video series produced by Ruger is a unique look at the progression of firearms technology throughout the years, hosted by Senior Editor of Guns & Ammo Garry James. Part 1 examines the Hand Cannon.

November 25, 2017

Cambrai Tank Chats Special: The Mark IV Tank

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology, WW1 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Tank Museum
Published on 24 Nov 2017

The Mark IV tank was the most numerous of the First World War and went in to battle en masse at the Battle of Cambrai, 20 November 1917. In this special edition of Tank Chats, Curator David Willey explains how the Mark IV tank functions and how it was used to break through the World War One German defences.

November 23, 2017

Tank Chats #20 Mark IV

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Tank Museum
Published on 13 May 2016

Mechanically the Mark IV tank was the same as the Mark I but it had thicker armour, improved fuel supply and modified sponsons with slightly shorter guns in the Male version.

Mark IV tanks went into action for the first time in the summer of 1917, they were the mainstay of the Tank Corps at Cambrai in November and fought through to the end of the war with 7th and 12th Battalions of the Tank Corps. It was a male Mark IV tank which won the very first ‘Tank versus Tank’ action in April 1918 by knocking out the German A7V tank Nixe.

November 20, 2017

Cambrai: The Tank Corps Story | The Tank Museum

Filed under: Britain, Germany, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Tank Museum
Published on 17 Nov 2017

100 years on from the Battle of Cambrai, The Tank Museum presents a documentary on the moment the Tank Corps delivered one of the greatest advances of the First World War. This is the full-length version of Cambrai: The Tank Corps Story.

As the regimental museum of the Royal Tank Regiment, The Tank Museum is using the World War One centenary to draw attention to the struggle, sacrifice and ingenuity of the early tank men.

November 19, 2017

Development of British Tank Tactics 1917 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology, WW1 — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 18 Nov 2017

The Battle of Cambrai 100 years ago was one of the pivotal moments for the British Tank Corps and tank combat in general. For the first time, the tanks were deployed in a way that they could play to their strengths.

November 17, 2017

Is There Any Cheese in Cheez Whiz? (And the Story of Kraft)

Filed under: Business, Cancon, History, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Today I Found Out
Published on 5 Nov 2017

In this video:

As America gets ready for their upcoming Super Bowl parties (or Royal Rumble party, if that’s your thing), Cheez Whiz – the yellowish-orange, gooey, bland tasting “cheese” product – will surely make an appearance at some of them. But what is Cheez Whiz? Why did get it invented? And is there really cheese in Cheez Whiz?

Want the text version?: http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2015/01/cheese-cheez-whiz/

November 12, 2017

The Great Ships Ironclads Documentary

Filed under: History, Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

History Of Wars
Published on 6 Sep 2016

With their menacing dark silhouettes belching fire and smoke, the Ironclad warships of the mid 19th century burst onto the naval scene like hulking metal monsters. Combining iron plating, steam propulsion and the biggest and most powerful guns afloat, the Ironclads represented a radical advance over all previous warships.

November 8, 2017

Self-Driving Cars Will Make Most Auto Safety Regulations Unnecessary

Filed under: Business, Economics, Government, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

ReasonTV
Published on 6 Nov 2017

Cars are becoming computers on wheels, meaning software, not hardware, will soon be paramount for safety. This will eliminate the need for most federal vehicular safety regulations.

Federal auto safety regulations fill nearly 900 pages with standards that determine everything from rear-view mirror and steering wheel placement to the shape of vehicles and the exact placement of seats. Many of the rules don’t make sense in the coming era of self-driving cars. Autonomous vehicles don’t need rear-view mirrors, or (eventually) steering wheels. Their ideal physical form is still a work in progress.

But an even bigger rethink is in order. As motor vehicles become essentially computers on wheels, software, not hardware, will soon be paramount for safety. This will make most government regulation unnecessary, and, to the extent that it slows innovation, could even cost lives on the highway.

“Basically, the entire vehicle code can be boiled down to be safe and don’t unfairly get in the way of other people,” says Brad Templeton, an entrepreneur and software architect, who has worked as a consultant with Google on its self-driving car project. (He also blogs regularly on the topic.)

One difference between self-driving cars and traditional automobiles is that companies will have every incentive to fix safety problems immediately. With today’s cars, that hasn’t always been the case. Templeton cites General Motors’ 2014 recall of 800,000 cars with faulty ignition switches. The company knew about the safety flaw over a decade prior, but didn’t act on the information because recalls are so costly. The companies actions had dire consequences: One-hundred-and-twenty-four deaths were linked to the ignition defect.

But the safety problems of the future will primarily be bugs in software not hardware, so they’ll be fixed by sending ones and zeros over the internet without the need for customers to return hundreds of thousands of vehicles to the manufacturer. “Replacing software is free,” Templeton says, “so there’s no reason to hold back on fixing something.”

Another difference is that when hardware was all that mattered for safety, regulators could inspect a car and determine if it met safety standards. With software, scrutiny of this sort may be impossible because the leading self-driving car companies (including Waymo and Tesla) are developing their systems through a process called machine learning that “doesn’t mesh in with traditional methods of regulation,” Templeton says.

Machine learning is developed organically, so humans have limited understanding of how the system actually works. And that makes governments nervous. Regulations passed by the European Union last year ban so-called unknowable artificial intelligence. Templeton fears that our desire to understand and control the underlying system could lead regulators to prohibit the use of machine learning technologies.

“If it turns out that [machine learning systems] do a better job [on safety] but we don’t know why,” says Templeton, “we’ll be in a situation of deliberately deploying the thing that’s worse because we feel a little more comfortable that we understand it.”

For full text and links, go to: https://reason.com/archives/2017/11/06/self-driving-autonomous-regulation

Shot, written, edited, and produced by Jim Epstein. Filmed at the 2017 Automated Vehicles Symposium.

October 18, 2017

QotD: The course of economic progress in a nutshell

Filed under: Economics, History, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

It is customary in these days of “slow food” to sneer at these devices, to aver that a real cook doesn’t need more than a cast-iron dutch oven, a good chef’s knife and a sense of adventure. As someone who took herself off to Chicago for three months with pretty much exactly this set of equipment (okay, also an electric pressure cooker), I can testify that this is true — sort of. You can get by with a very minimal set of equipment if you know how to cook. But as someone who has done so, I have to ask: Why would you?

I mean, yes, I know how to chop onions just fine. But doing so makes me cry like the dickens, unless I wear goggles. I know how to make great lemon curd, béchamel, hollandaise, caramelized onions. But my Thermomix makes them just as well, and I can read a novel instead of standing at the stove, stirring. I can whisk up an angel food cake in a copper bowl … or I could let the stand mixer do that, and my arms won’t hurt.

For that matter, I could also go out and grow my own wheat, mill it myself, and then mine some salt and cultivate some wild yeast to bake bread. But I don’t do these things, because subsistence farming is actually pretty arduous and unrewarding, which is why few of us have chosen to live off the grid. I see no reason to romanticize the grunt labor of the kitchen. If a machine does it as well as I do, and fits in my paycheck, I’ll happily outsource to the machine, and save my labor for the stuff the machine can’t do. This being basically the entire history of human economic progress to date.

Megan McArdle, “Give Thanks for Williams-Sonoma and the Garlic Press”, Bloomberg View, 2015-12-07.

October 10, 2017

Evolution Of British Battle Tanks In WW1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 9 Oct 2017

Support the Tank Museum: https://www.patreon.com/tankmuseum
Tank Museum on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/TheTankMuseum

Indy talks to Tank Museum curator David Willey about the evolution of the British Tank during World War 1. From the early beginnings with prototypes like Little Willie and the first deployed Mark I to later versions like the famous Mark IV, the Mark V and lesser known tanks like the Mark IX, Mark V** or Mark VIII “Liberty Tank”.

September 24, 2017

Rolling back the regulation tide

Filed under: Bureaucracy, Business, Government, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Megan McArdle on the Trump administration’s attempt to rein-in the regulation machine of the US federal government and its many, many agencies:

One of the first things Trump did as president was to sign an executive order requiring that two regulations be rolled back for every new one that was promulgated. As a longtime advocate of rolling back regulatory complexity, I found a lot to like in this rule. Unless strenuous effort is made to regularly prune them back, regulations have a tendency to blindly grow until they have wrapped the economy so tight that nothing can breathe, much less thrive. Trump’s executive order forces us to do some very necessary maintenance.

Unfortunately, it’s a rather crude instrument for the job. It’s possible that nothing more nuanced would actually work; nuance and flexibility, alas, give regulators quite a bit of discretion to put off an annoying chore. Just the same, we should recognize the dangers of cutting with such a dull knife.

In agencies that are dealing with a genuinely new and disruptive force — one for which innovators need regulatory clarity before they can bring a product to market — such a strict regulatory requirement faces them with an unpalatable dilemma. Every new regulation that is vitally necessary means finding two regulations that aren’t. But each of those dusty old rules was created for a reason. Some of those reasons were bad; in some cases the rule never worked as intended; and in others the rule later became obsolete. But that does not describe all of our regulations. And imagine the brutal publicity that will ensue if someone dies or gets hurt in an accident that could plausibly have been prevented by a rescinded rule.

An even larger problem is that the “two for one” rule doesn’t really tell us about the relative quality of the regulations involved. An agency could satisfy that executive order by issuing a terrible, stupid, costly regulation that forced power companies to rip out their windmills, as long as it repealed two sensible and necessary regulations that (for now) prevent factories from dumping toxic waste into our watersheds.

Reducing regulatory complexity is an important goal, but it cannot be our only goal. We ought to strive for less regulation, yes, but also for good regulation, and for regulation that gives companies enough clarity to innovate and build their businesses. Unfortunately, while the Trump administration has proven enthusiastic about the first goal, we’ve seen much less talk about the others. And given how long it has taken for Trump to staff all the agencies he oversees, we haven’t really had the personnel to deliver on things like better regulation, even if doing so were the Trump administration’s main priority.

GE Steam Turbine Locomotives – 1938 Educational Documentary – WDTVLIVE42

Filed under: History, Railways, Technology, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 30 May 2017

The General Electric steam turbine locomotives were two steam turbine locomotives built by General Electric (GE) for Union Pacific (UP) in 1938. This newsreel style promotional film shows construction of the locomotives while highlighting their expected capabilities.

September 17, 2017

QotD: The great enrichment

Filed under: Books, Economics, Quotations — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The most fundamental problem in Piketty’s book, then, is that he misses the main act. In focusing solely on the distribution of income, he overlooks the most surprising secular event in history: the Great Enrichment of the average individual on the planet by a factor of 10 and in rich countries by a factor of 30 or more. Many humans are now stunningly better off than their ancestors were.

This includes a gigantic improvement of the poorest — your ancestors and mine. By dramatic increases in the size of the pie, the poor have been lifted to 90 or 95 percent of equal sustenance and dignity, as against the 10 or 5 percent attainable by redistribution without enlarging the pie.

What caused the Great Enrichment? It cannot be explained by the accumulation of capital, as the very name “capitalism” implies. Our riches were not made by piling brick upon brick, bachelor’s degree upon bachelor’s degree, bank balance upon bank balance, but by piling idea upon idea. The bricks, BAs, and bank balances were of course necessary. Oxygen is necessary for a fire. But it would be unenlightening to explain the Chicago Fire of 1871 by the presence of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere.

The original and sustaining causes of the modern world were indeed ethical, not material. They were the widening adoption of two new ideas: the liberal economic idea of liberty for ordinary people and the democratic social idea of dignity for them. This, in turn, released human creativity from its ancient trammels. Radically creative destruction piled up ideas, such as the railways creatively destroying walking and the stage coaches, or electricity creatively destroying kerosene lighting and the hand washing of clothes, or universities creatively destroying literary ignorance and low productivity in agriculture. The Great Enrichment requires not accumulation of capital or the exploitation of workers but what I call the Bourgeois Deal. In the historical lottery the idea of an equalizing liberty and dignity was the winning ticket, and the bourgeoisie held it.

That even over the long run there remain some poor people does not mean the system is not working for the poor, so long as their condition is continuing to improve, as it is, and so long as the percentage of the desperately poor is heading toward zero, as it is. That people still sometimes die in hospitals does not mean that medicine is to be replaced by witch doctors, so long as death rates are falling and so long as the death rate would not fall under the care of the witch doctors. It is a brave book Thomas Piketty has written. But it is mistaken.

Deirdre N. McCloskey, “How Piketty Misses the Point”, Cato Policy Report, 2015-07.

September 10, 2017

QotD: Peak oil

Filed under: Economics, Quotations, Technology, USA — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Witness, brothers and sisters, witness. The oil, it’s going to run out. Peak production of the world’s oilfields has either passed or is about to pass; from here on out it’s rising oil prices forever. Now we wave our hands and pronounce that the energy-guzzling capitalist West (and especially Amerikka) is so addicted to cheap oil that its decadent empire will collapse, collapse I tell you. Barely concealed gloating follows.

There are so many mutually-reinforcing idiocies here that it’s hard to know where to start. As I was thinking of writing about this, one of my commenters pointed out that above $32 per barrel it becomes economical to build Fischer-Tropf plants and make your oil out of coal. This is old tech; the Germans did it during WWI. At slightly higher price points, MHD generators to burn garbage start to look good.

These are instances of a more general phenomenon: markets adapt to price shifts! To wreck an economy with oil-price rises, they’d have to spike so fast and so far that you somehow couldn’t run the cement trucks to build the Fischer-Tropf plants. Not gonna happen.

In fact, the long-term trend will be that the amount of oil invested per constant-dollar value of goods produced in the U.S. economy drops faster than the price of oil rises. This is a safe prediction not because manufacturers have all bought into Green ideology but because they want to make money. This means that they have a market incentive to use their inputs (including oil) a efficiently as possible, and to substitute less expensive inputs for more expensive ones. It’s called capitalism, and it works.

(And, by the way, the cheapest input of all is information. Buckminster Fuller pointed out forty years ago that as technologies mature, the products tend to get smaller and lighter and less energy-intensive and smarter. Your cellphone today weighs less than it used to, and costs less oil to produces than it used to, because its design is smarter. Information has replaced mass. This trend will continue and accelerate.)

The peak-oil collapse scenario is not credible for five minutes to anybody who understands market economics. But the sort of people who believe it are blinded by their own prejudices; fundamentally they think market economics is an invention of the Devil. They need to believe in the collapse, because they need to believe that the wickedness of Americans and capitalists and Republicans will be punished.

Eric S. Raymond, “Peak Oil — A Wish-Fulfillment Fantasy for Secular Idiots”, Armed and Dangerous, 2005-11-13.

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