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Firearm technology…literally   Leave a comment

Defaite_des_Yroquois_lg

My money is on the Indians.

OK, I was curious about matchlock muskets and how practical they would have been in early American society. Early explorers carried them since the wheellock [1] and snaphance [2] don’t seem to have too much popularity (snaphance was out of fashion most places by 1680). Toss in the flintlock seems to have been less expensive than the other mechanisms (beside the matchlock).

Anyway…

An inherent weakness of the matchlock was the necessity of keeping the match constantly lit. The match was steeped in potassium nitrate to keep the match lit for extended periods of time. Being the sole source of ignition for the powder, if the match was not lit when the gun needed to be fired, the mechanism was useless, and the weapon became little more than an expensive club. This was chiefly a problem in wet weather, when damp match cord was difficult to light and to keep burning. Another drawback was the burning match itself. At night, the match would glow in the darkness, possibly revealing the carrier’s position. The distinctive smell of burning match-cord was also a giveaway of a musketeer’s position (this was used as a plot device by Akira Kurosawa in his movie Seven Samurai). It was also quite dangerous when soldiers were carelessly handling large quantities of gunpowder (for example, while refilling their powder horns) with lit matches present. This was one reason why soldiers in charge of transporting and guarding ammunition were amongst the first to be issued self-igniting guns like the wheellock and snaphance.

The matchlock was also uneconomical to keep ready for long periods of time. To maintain a single sentry on night guard duty with a matchlock, keeping both ends of his match lit, required a mile of match per year.

Maybe that explains why the Indians were pretty good at preventing early settlement (see Martin’s Hundred and the Indian Massacre of 1622).

Addition: the Carignan-Salières regiment was equipped with flintlocks when they were sent to New France in 1665. Flintlocks didn’t need the constant flame and had a higher rate of fire than the Matchlock. Still, possession of flintlocks (and large military presence) didn’t stop Iroquois raids on the habitants which continued up until the Treaty of Montreal in 1701.

Oh, yeah… here’s a link to one of these being fired.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2KTS8PQ06Qo

Notes:
[1] A nacent technology, wheellock guns were complex to build in an era with no machine tools. They appealed therefore only to the wealthy who could afford them in the first place and then who, generally, expected them to be highly decorated. They were deluxe examples of the armourer’s craft and not for the masses.

[2] Snaphance – A spring-loaded lock whereby upon pulling a trigger, a hammer holding the flint falls which strikes the steel frizzen and while pushing it forward scrapes particles from its surface, which as sparks, fall into a flashpan containing a priming charge of fine gunpowder, igniting first it and then, through a touchole, the main propellant charge (sort of like a cigarette lighter works). A separate pan-cover would allow the gun to be carried loaded, but for safety, not cocked.

Snaphances and flintlocks are similar, but the flintlock is faster to operate and more reliable in wind and rain than a snaphance. Also, Flintlocks can be carried half cocked, where as snaphances are either cocked or not.

 

 

You say it’s your birthday, It’s my birthday too yeah!

There’s a part of me that wants to name drop since I was checking out a list of celebrities to see who all was born on my birthday.

I knew a few of them, but I was surprised to find out a few more that I would find interesting to meet: such a well known silent screen comic, a foreign films star or two I like, and someone who would only have to say it once. I wouldn’t resist if she didn’t.

It would be an interesting party

Still more about Jean Tinguely’s Le rêve de Sofia Loren

Things are really bad when the only articles you can find about something are the ones you’ve written yourself. Even worse when the things you find aren’t relevant at all (e.g., I think she is being serenaded with “impossible dream” in the film version of “Man of La Mancha”).

On the other hand, Tinguely did another work called “Sophia Loren’s Nightmare” in 1985 which is housed in the Fukuoka Art Museum in Japan (seriously, I’ not making this up). thingelyThis one was made the same year  “Le rêve de Sofia Loren” according to this work’s other mention on the web. Unfortunately, these are two different works. The Fukuoka Art Museum does describe “the Nightmare of Sophia Loren”:

The material culture of the 20th century left behind massive amounts of discarded trash. “Junk Art” is a form of art that makes use of such waste to create works of art. Born in Switzerland and active in France, Tinguely is a representative artist of this genre. His creations, with their strange motor-generated movements, are sometimes also classified as “Kinetic Art.” This work, made up of old motor parts and a doll’s head and whose title carries the name of a famous actress, performs with much noise a nonsensical set of repeated mechanical motions. The work is grotesque but at the same time seems to cheerfully brush away the anxieties of contemporary life and reveals Tinguely’s style in the 1980s at its best.

I hope you get the idea.

Not that a picture does justice to these works of art. A video would be much more useful. I am still trying to find a video or picture of “Le rêve de Sofia Loren”, or to see the thing again.

Now, to find a video of the sculpture of a Monk that was at the entrance to the Royal Museum of Modern Art in Brussels

I am amazed at the Ignorance of the US public.

In this case, the fact that everything EXCEPT the Electoral College is responsible for Clinton’s loss.

Of course, that means the standard “you must be a Russian agent” if you disagree with me crap which I thought went out with Joe McCarthy.

A couple of thing have me going: one is someone who should know better using that argument. Then doing some research into how the Clinton Campaign totally underestimated the Midwest/rust belt: in particular Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin .

OK, Given that Hillary won the popular vote by around 3 million votes. Toss in that she had one of the largest margins of the popular vote since the current system began in the 1820s. Yet she lost in an institution which is unique to the United States and was designed to frustrate the popular vote: the electoral college.

How does a vote really count in that sort of system?

I am now going to get really specific since it is well documented that the Electoral College distorts the vote. It already cost Gore the presidency in 2000. Yet its antidemocratic (or even antirepublican since a republic requires free and fair elections) nature is not being addressed.

Let’s say I voted for Hillary Clinton, which would have increased he popular vote victory. But unless she got one more vote than Trump, she still would have lost my jurisdiction. That’s because the electoral college is winner take all in a state. Toss in she would have had to have done the same in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin to have had a chance of winning. Yes, she needed the electoral votes in all three of those states to have won.

You can call me whatever the fuck you want, but the system is in dire need of repair especially if you are vaguely familiar with what the Electoral College is supposed to do (hint–Trump shouldn’t be president and you can’t make claims of foreign influence, see Federalist Paper 68).

But it doesn’t.

Let’s toss in that Wisconsin was ignored by the Clinton Campaign. Likewise her campaign neglected Michigan. I saw an extreme overconfidence in the Clinton campaign that she “couldn’t lose”. Which she didn’t if the popular vote actually meant something.

BTW, I wasn’t voting against anything. I was voting for a candidate I saw actually discussing issues and not running on a platform that she wasn’t Trump and was a woman. It’s campaigning that wins elections: not trying to scare the piss out of people.

Likewise, we need to work on campaign and election reform: not use insults.

You lost the argument when you started attacking people based on them somehow being Russian spies.

See also:

 

So I married an Axe Murderer

Henri Van Breda, who murdered his father, mother and brother with an axe in South Africa in 2015, has been sentenced to life in prison.

 

Clinton was a loser and a bad choice

Electoral college 2

This explains what happened–and the Russians weren’t responsible

I was curious since the popular vote doesn’t really matter in Presidential Elections (after all Clinton won that with one of the largest percentages in a US election). The Electoral College is the real decider with only 270 electoral votes needed to win. So, I went to 270toWin to play with their interactive Electoral Vote map.

First off, there are 2,250,000,000,000,000 possible outcomes with the Electoral College system! (Long explanation on that), but it didn’t take too many states to flip for Trump to have won. That means it was a real gamble to run a candidate as unpopular as Clinton since there were no guarantees that New Hampshire, Nevada or Virginia wouldn’t have voted for Trump. Or that Michigan, Pennsylvania, or Wisconsin would vote for Clinton.

There were four states, New Hampshire, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which were all decided by less than 1% in 2016, with Michigan the closest. That state was won by about .23% – that’s only 2,300 votes per one million votes cast. Donald Trump won three of these four states, none of which had been won by a Republican in a generation. Those 46 electoral votes put him across the 270 he needed to win. Interestingly, despite a fairly competitive election, only four states were decided by 5% or less in 2012; that number grew to 11 in 2016.

The thing is that winning any of one of those four states would mean Trump would be President. Or that Trump’s electoral college win could have been much higher!  Remember the popular vote has no relation to the Electoral College numbers. All one needs is to get the largest number of votes to get ALL the Electoral College votes in most states.

There would still be a possibility that Trump could have been president even if all four of those states have voted for Clinton (and Delaware and Nevada had voted for Trump). That is because the Electoral College result would have been a tie (269-269). That means the election would be sent to the House of Representatives with each state delegation getting one vote (a similar activity takes place on the Senate side to pick the Vice-President). In the case of a tie, the election for President is decided in the House of Representatives, with each state delegation having one vote. A majority of states (26) is needed to win. Senators would elect the Vice-President, with each Senator having a vote. A majority of Senators (51) is needed to win.

It would have been highly likely in the case of a tie that the election would remain undecided after the Electors voted. That means Congress would meet in joint session on the first day in January to count the electoral votes (this count happens whether the election is close or not). If no candidate has reached 270 Electoral Votes, then the House and Senate take over and elect the President and Vice-President, respectively.

It seems likely Trump would have been president given the current US legislature is solidly Republican had there been a tie.

Toss in it is possible to win the Electoral College with only 11 States (California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Georgia, North Carolina and New Jersey). However, nobody has been elected President since 1900 by winning fewer than 23 states. (Take the quiz at 270towin to see where I got these figures)

Anyway, While the democratic party is responsible for picking a loser like Clinton, it seems to be more that the anti-democratic nature of the US elections needs to be addressed.  After all, the only way the Russians could have influenced the US presidential election would be to have somehow created the Electoral College since that is what really put Trump in office.

See also:

Why Trump Had an Edge in the Electoral College

Five myths about the electoral college

More of the Smart Car: NYPD Smart

I grew up in Car manufacturing territory on both sides of the pond and once had a discussion with Emile Grenier, the person who patented the safety airbag about the perfect city car. He described something which sounded to me pretty much like the Samrt ForTwo.  I would take his opinion given he was an automotive engineer over a lay person.

Anyway, I imagine the people who think driving the Smart is somehow “wimpy” probably don’t have Grenier’s expertise.

Or that of the New York City Police Department who use the Smart.


To be honest, the Smart is the perfect car for a crowded urban environment.

So, you can try to make me sound wimpy or stupid, but I know you people have no idea what you are talking about.

See also: