More Junkmail from Bob!

Friday, September 10, 2004
Important Stuff.

Pain and Suffering

The Dam J.A.M. bicycle tour is tomorrow morning, at 7:30 or 8:00 at Whitaker Park, Pryor, Oklahoma. Be there! All you need is a bike and a helmet (and a small entry fee.)

The Pryor Open Tennis Tournament is next weekend, the 18th and 19th, at the same place. Enter online at

You can see Pryor tennis tournament results back to 1996 at

New Rails

Calayan Island is an island out in the Pacific Ocean. It's one of the Babuyan islands. The Babuyan islands are a few small islands in the northern Philippines, about 150 miles south of Taiwan. Calayan is the island to the left of "BABUYAN" in this map.


I knew you'd be interested to know this because Calayan Island is where some people (Carl, Genevieve, Carmella, and Des) discovered the Calayan Rail, a new species of bird. At least they're calling it a new species. The people who live on Calayan Island have been familiar with the bird for a long time. The locals call the bird "piding."

Here's what it looks like:

      b_calayan_rail_cu      b_calayan_rail_forest

It's not known (expect maybe by the locals) whether the bird lives on any other islands, but it seems likely to me.

A Hole in the Ice

On July 17th, 2003, an international team from 9 countries (NGRIP) finished drilling a hole through some ice in Greenland. The hole was 3,085 meters deep, 10,121 feet, when they struck water -- subglacial water under the icecap. Actually, they were doing more than drilling a hole. As they drilled they were bringing up core samples, cylinders of ice, for research.

When the drill hit the water, it shorted out and they brought it to the surface. They were surprised to see about a foot of refrozen water was hanging underneath the drill when it emerged. The previous core segment had been clear, just like all the others, but the refrozen water underneath the drill was brown from the sediment.

The ice close the bedrock is about 123,000 years old. It was the deepest Greenland core sample ever drilled, a few meters deeper than the 3,053 meter core sample obtained in 1993.

Last summer, the NGRIP went back and drilled again, a few inches away from last year's hole. This time they missed the subglacial water and found bedrock, clay, and some organic material, at 3,091 meters. One of the most interesting items is something that looks like a pine needle. It could be several million years old, from a tree that grew before the Greenland icecap formed.


The diary is really interesting on this site:

Meanwhile, in the Arctic Ocean, another coring project was underway. The Arctic Coring Expedition is a 16-country project to retrieve and examine sediment cores underneath the Arctic ice cap. They drilled 400 meters into the ocean floor under 1300 meters of water.


They found that during the "Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum," the Arctic Ocean was around 70°F. "Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum" was a brief period (relatively speaking) that occurred about 55 million years ago. The earth had an extremely warm climate that created a natural greenhouse effect, which caused massive carbon input to sea and air.

Here's an aerial view of the site:


The expedition logbook is really interesting:


Some "Temporary Flight Restrictions" really are! I was pleasantly surprised to read that 11 of 13 "temporary" restricted areas thrown up over some military installations after September 11, 2001 are being taken down, replaced by National Security Areas. The difference is that while people are requested not to fly in National Security Areas, they won't get shot down or arrested for it. The Defense Department wanted to make them permanent Prohibited Airspace, but the FAA overruled. Maybe they figured out that a light plane can crash into a bunker without inflicting much more damage than a scratch.

Here are some pictures from one of the two areas that is still restricted -- a submarine base at St. Mary's, Georgia:

      pict3002      pict3005      pict3013

Tracking Marine Wildlife

About 100 years ago, give or take a week, I read the book Red Tag Comes Back. It was one of my favorite books in my early reading days. As I remember, it had a complex plot and a happy ending. A boy in the book watches a man tag a salmon. The boy names the salmon Red Tag.

Red Tag Comes Back was written in 1961. Now the wildlife tags are a little more complex. Some of them record location and transmit it to satellites, and some just record locations.

Here's an article about some of the marine wildlife tagging going on today:,1282,64626,00.html

Here are a few tracks. It's hard to believe an elephant seal swam that far across the open ocean.

(The people in the TOPP project must have blown all their funding on Flash animations in their web site, because they haven't posted any data for 2 years.)

In Pangnirtung, Nunavut, Canada last month I ran across this notice:


Apparently the "tag" is attached to a bowhead whale, and automatically comes off in three days. It has a pressure sensor and records diving activity of the whale. I think that's pretty cool. Especially near the Arctic.

Fiscally Conservative?

Among the billions spent on the Terror War, $8,900,000,000 is going for unnecessary and unrelated pet political projects.

Some people are saying that even legitimate Terror War spending is being abused:,1413,82%257E1865%257E2382598,00.html

      Boston News Article

For some reason, the U.S. government's overreaction to 3-year old events scares me a lot more than terrorism ever did. But as with everything, there is some good coming from the militaristic rules -- Senator Ted Kennedy gets kicked off airline flights.

      NY Times Article

I imagine some Homeland Security computer guy said to his co-worker, "Wow, I can add anybody I want to this no-fly list. Check this out..."

LAX was shut down for several hours last week. 47 flights were cancelled and delayed, and 3 terminals were evacuated. Why? A small plastic flashlight inside someone's baggage that was being searched spontaneously "exploded," and separately, about the same time, someone went up the wrong stairs.

The flashlight story seems pretty strange to me. The security screener was searching the luggage when it "exploded," but the screener was not injured. The explanation was that gas from malfunctioning batteries caused an explosion.

The "terrorist" who went up the wrong stairs got away.

Iraqi Soccer

G.W. Bush, the U.S. President, gave a political campaign speech the other day. That's not surprising, since he's a politician and likes to talk. In some speeches he made some complimentary remarks about the Iraqi Olympic soccer team. That's not surprising either, because they did well at the Olympics. But the Iraqi soccer team apparently didn't like it.

One Iraqi player said, "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign. He can find another way to advertise himself... We don't wish for the presence of the Americans in our country. We want them to go away."

Another player asked: "How will he [Bush] meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women? He has committed so many crimes."

Maybe the Iraqi's don't love us any more?


Here are a couple of interesting articles on spammers.

The U.S. government still has not prosecuted anybody for violation of the anti-spam law that went into effect at the first of this year. Maybe they assumed that all spammers stopped when the law was passed. Microsoft, Earthlink, Yahoo, and AOL have filed civil suits against spammers, but that's just not the same deterrent as jail time.

But share some music online and the government's got plenty of time to deal with you.


A turbojet engine has a shaft down the middle, a compressor fan on the front, and a power turbine in the back. In between the compressor and turbine is the fire that makes it run.

A Ramjet doesn't have all these moving parts. The incoming air makes the compression, so the compressor and turbine are not needed. However, you have to go really fast in order to get enough compression before the engine will run.

The X-43a is an unmanned research airplane that uses a supersonic combustion ramjet engine. It is launched from a B-52 bomber with a Pegasus rocket booster. The Pegasus gets up to about mach 7, the X-43a scramjet engine starts, and the X-43a flies away.


Last March the X-43a flew up at mach 6.83, almost 5,000 mph. It was accelerated to somewhere around that speed by the Pegasus booster, and the engine ran for only 11 seconds before it descended into the Pacific Ocean (as planned).

Next month they are planning to go to mach 10, about 6,750 mph. I'm not sure how long the scramjet engine will run.

The X-43 Scramjet uses hydrogen for fuel. Hydrocarbon-based fuels should be tested on scramjets sometime in the next 4 years. According to the following article, scramjet powered missiles, aircraft, and space vehicles will be flying about 2015, 2020, and 2025.

More Unmanned Planes

The Global Hawk is a UAV, an unmanned aeronautical vehicle, used for reconnaissance. I would like to point out that this is the first time in my life that I have spelled "reconnaissance" correctly on the first try. It has been flying for 5 or 6 years. Here's one landing at Nordholz Air Base, Germany last April.


Last month I took a picture of a Global Hawk on display at the Air Force Museum in Dayton. This one flew to Australia and back in 2001. The Global Hawk can fly for about 35 hours at a time.


The Global Hawk got FAA certification to fly in U.S. airspace about a year ago. It sure seems strange that planes with no pilots are flying around.

What's next? Unmanned fighter/attack aircraft. Unmanned is a politically incorrect term, but the planes are not unpiloted. The pilot just stays on the ground. Maybe we should call them unhumanned. Even unwomanned would be fine with me, if that satisfies everybody else.

Two X-45a UAVs were built by Boeing and flew in 2002. Last month, two X45a's flew together on the same simulated mission, both controlled by a single person on the ground.

Here's an X-45a taking off with an F-18 chase plane:


The X-45a looks really small, but the F-18 is closer in this photo. The X-45a is 27 feet long, and the F-18 is 60 feet long. The X-45a carries a 3000 lb payload.

The X-45c is the production version of the X-45a. The X-45c will be able to cruise at .80 or .85 Mach with a 4,500-pound payload. It will fly at 40,000 feet with a mission radius of 1,300 nautical miles. In the X-45c is 39 feet long with a wingspan of 49 feet, quite a bit larger than the A model. Here's a full-scale model of the X-45c:


Northrop Grumman is building the X-47, a similar unmanned combat plane. They flew tests with the X-47a model:

      189-358H      pegasus2_hi-res

Like the X-45c, the X-47b hasn't been built yet. Here's what it will look like:


What's next? Epson Seiko has developed an 8.6 gram UAV:

Letter to the Editor

There is a story in the August 21 Washington post about mass-produced letters to the editor appearing in newspapers.

Political organizations send out form letters and recommend that people print, sign, and mail them to their local newspapers. It works.

After I read this article, I did a Google search and got 598 hits for this excerpt of a popular letter. The results went back to at least last May.

"New-job figures and other recent economic data show that America's economy is strong and getting stronger, and that the president's jobs and growth plan is working."

Today I tried the search again, 2-3 weeks later, and only got 213 hits. I guess some newspapers got embarrassed and pulled the letter off their sites. It will go up from 213 to 214 when this Junkmail gets indexed.

I also noticed just now that Google limits the search to the first ten words. I don't know whether they've always done that, but I didn't notice it before.

Maybe they'll write a program to rephrase the sentences in a letter, making a hundred versions of the same letter. Then it wouldn't be so obvious.

Speaking of political organizations, I got a phone call today asking who I planned to vote for. I don't think I've ever been polled before. Now I feel important. But I doubt if they call back. When they asked whether I planned to vote for Bush, Kerry, or undecided, I told them that I was definitely decided -- I want none of the above. I don't think there was a check box for that.

Land Speed Records


Here's an interesting article on land speed records:


I was joking! I made it up in the last Junkmail when I said that Homeland Security boss Tom said, "You have to understand. The cancellation of a government project at this level usually means that the project has merely been renamed to throw off the critics."

CAPPS II has been cancelled. And Secure Flight has been born -- essentially the same thing under a new name!,1848,64737,00.html


The FBI charged online electronics retailer Jay for hiring some hackers to mount a Denial of Service attack against a competitor. Jay did not go to jail. He's a fugitive, last I heard. His web site,, is dead. Maybe it's a DoS attack.

Bikes Against Bush

A guy in New York named Joshua built a bicycle with a computerized chalk printing system. He could type in a message, ride the bike, and apply the chalk to the sidewalk or street so everybody can see his political viewpoint. Then he asked everybody to text message him an anti-Bush message so he could paint the town.

Then the Republican Convention came to town. The NYPD built a 1000-person holding pen for miscreants. I'm not sure whether Joshua made it to the pen, but he did get arrested shortly after an interview on MSNBC. And they confiscated his bike.,1284,64782,00.html

Whether or not you agree with his politics, you've gotta give the guy credit for creativity. And for a decent web site.

New York Supreme Court Judge John got a little upset because a few hundred people in New York were held without charge, against a judicial order, until Bush made his speech at the convention. He held the city of New York in contempt and fined them $1000 per prisoner. The city of New York said, "Ha! We'll just raise taxes."

Apparently the police weren't too particular in who they arrested. A 16-year-old Malverne High School student named Benjamin was thrown in jail for taking pictures of protesters. He wasn't allowed to call his parents until midnight, 12 hours later. They were a little frantic by then.

Benjamin was charged with inciting a riot, a felony, even though he wasn't even part of a protest. He was participating in a "junior statesman" program sponsored by Princeton University in which he was observing the convention.,0,892344.story

      Pottstown Mercury Article

Air Shows

The Claremore Airshow is this weekend at, of all places, Claremore Oklahoma.

The Cleveland Airshow was last weekend. It was almost cancelled, and will probably be cancelled in the future because the Department of Homeland Security decided it's a terrorist threat for airplanes from the airshow to fly close to the Cleveland Indians baseball game. Somewhere I missed the logic on that one. But I feel safe! Real safe!

Here's the kind of airshow I like -- the Downtown Air Races in Budapest. Check out these pictures.

One of the best, if not the best, airshows in the country was supposed to be at Edwards Airforce Base next month. It was cancelled because all their resources and efforts have to go to fight terrorism.

Numbers Game

The Republican National Convention has come and gone. A lot of people in New York joined in anti-Bush protests. How many? That is a very interesting question.

CNN said 400,000.
New York Times said hundreds of thousands.
Washington Post said 200,000.
Fox News said tens of thousands.

Finally I checked the least biased news source I know of (except for their editorials): the Wall Street Journal. They said there were over 100,000 protesters, and quoted an unnamed policeman at 120,000. I personally think the number was 136,237, before arrests. But I doubt if anybody quotes me.


The Department of Homeland Security issued another terrorist warning. They said VA Hospitals should be on the lookout. But then they said, "The DHS and FBI stress they are currently unaware of any credible information indicating a specific terrorist threat to VA hospitals in the United States."

No information? Why the warning? Is this some kind of scam?

Clouds and Atlas 2

On August 31, the final Atlas 2 rocket launch took place. It was the 5th try in 5 days, after battery, fuel, and weather problems caused delays. It launched a spy satellite into orbit, the National Reconnaissance Office satellite (NROL-1).

On the second orbit, the Centaur booster stage dumped its excess fuel after separation from the satellite. This is normal. It happened about 9:00 p.m. eastern time, and just happened to make a bright, moving cloud in the evening sky. A lot of people in the eastern U.S. and Canada reported the strange cloud that looked about the size of the moon.

Nuclear Power

China has decided that the cleanest, most efficient way to produce electrical power is with pebble bed nuclear (nukular, if you're President) power plants. China plans to build and/or buy 30 nuclear power plants in the next 10 to 15 years. I think the U.S. should do the same. But most people I know disagree with me. In fact, most people I know disagree with the majority of my opinions...

Here's how a pebble bed reactor works, in South Africa:

Sender ID

Microsoft is supporting Sender ID, a scheme to counter email domain spoofing. If you notice, when you get spam, the return addresses are generally fake. This would stop that. Microsoft said they want to make this technique available to everybody in the world, free.

However, Microsoft got a patent on it and said that every software developer in the world must get a license from Microsoft before they use Sender ID. This makes it legally incompatible with open-source software.

I'm sure it's just a coincidence that most Linux software is open-source, and Bill Gates was talking down open source software at the last Microsoft annual shareholder meeting:

In addition to Sender ID, Microsoft has patented navigating web sites using a keyboard. Brilliant concept!


A bedtime story for Melinda:

"Once open a time, there was a little star and a big star.
The little star got big, and the big star went supernova."

Here's a picture from the Hubble Space Telescope taken August 17.

      2004-23-a-full_jpg      (extra hi-res)

The  bright star in the upper right corner looks like it's a nearby star, but it's really a supernova (exploding star) 200 million times as bright as the sun. It's in a galaxy 11 million light years away. That means that the star exploded 11 million years ago, and the light is just now arriving at earth.

The supernova was discovered by Koichi Itagaki, an amateur astronomer in Japan, using a small telescope. It's type II supernova, an explosion of a massive, hydrogen-rich star.

Walmart Gift Cards

Got a Walmart Gift Card? Someone may have used it before you bought it!

Old Cypress

What do you do when you uncover 40,000 year old cypress trees? Sell them to the highest bidder, of course.


I thought Grisham's football book might be stretching things a bit. Then I read about the 151-game winning streak by De La Salle High in Northern California.

Jet Powered Hang Glider

A Swiss guy named Yves built and flew a hang glider powered by Jetcat model jet engines.

He's got an interesting biography:

100 Sharks

A pack of 100 sharks has been swimming off the coast near the Alabama-Florida state line. That would be interesting fishing, but not swimming.

Swaziland King

The King of Swaziland as selected Miss Teenage Swaziland to be his 13th wife. I'm not sure whether she had a choice in the matter. His 10th wife, Zena, was abducted two years ago against the wishes of her parents. They went to court, but the case was thrown out when Zena decided she preferred palace living to poverty.

Secret Laws

John Gilmore has been carrying on a campaign to be able to fly on airlines without showing a picture ID. He's gone to court over it. All this doesn't make much difference to me, but there is one thing that I question.

The U.S. Government's position is that there is a law and/or rule in place requiring photo ID for airline flights, but it's a secret. They want their court arguments to be heard by a judge in private, without the public or the opposing lawyers present. Secret laws? Secret hearings? This sounds like the Soviet Union I heard about when I was in Junior High.

Pictures of Today!

There are lots of pictures today. This one is a Martian sand dune. Some of the colors were not available, so I left it black and white.


An SR-71 at Dayton Airforce Museum, front and rear view:

      pict8217      pict8213

Here are some pictures of the SR-71 "in the wild":


I flew to Eureka Weather Station last month with 5 other hardy (or hardly) people. Eureka is in northern Canada, about 600 miles directly south of the North Pole. It's northeast of the Magnetic North Pole.

Here's the route:


Here are some photos:

      pict7547      pict7551

      pict7550      pict7602

The front door:


Here's Steve, on the tundra:


Arctic Terns fly from the Arctic to the Antarctic and back every year. That sounds fun! Some of them nest at Eureka.

      pict7633      pict7640      pict7792

Arctic Hare


Arctic Wolf


Arctic Plant

      pict7657      pict7659

Five Hikers:


Ken (Mike's middle kid) on the sea ice:


We assumed that since the ice was melting, the water must be warm...


      pict7879      pict7621

      pict7630      img_0754

Ken and Rob climbing into the clouds at Pangnirtung:


Here is one large bunch of pictures from that trip, if you're interested and have high-speed internet. Eventually I'll thin these out and label them better.

Last weekend, near Red Mountain, close to Twin Lakes, Colorado:

      pict8450      pict8467

(~) 1932, no rights preserved. Any duplication, distribution, or regurgitation of this fine collection of bits is fine with me. Copy the heck out of it!

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