Guest Contributor – TomD – 25MAR2023 – Scientific American Goes Woke

Did a quick google (Laura Helmuth) and found she’s chief editor of Scientific American. That would be hard to believe if SA hadn’t been totally co-opted 20 or so years ago. I hate it too, I subscribed to SA for decades and absolutely devoured every issue. I remember the issue with the article on the Supernova of 1987 in the Great Crab Nebula. Whoever wrote it did a great job, it was exciting, mesmerizing, illuminating. Back then, the basis of the magazine was purely science

I watched politics and what is now called wokeism creep in. There was an editor change, don’t remember the names now, but that opened the gates. SA hired a new columnist (again don’t remember the name), who on his 2nd column, stated flatly that the verdict of history was now in and the political organizing system of the future was clear and that was socialism.

Oh, yeah? That was it for SA for me. Now you don’t know if any particular article is true or an outright lie intended to mislead you to believe in some woke bulls***t.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 26JAN2023 – Life on the Florida Panhandle – Part 1

Tom | Flickr



I live on the Florida Panhandle. I think the area is ideologically closer to being a part of Alabama than the peninsula. Add to that the heavy military, ex-military presence and relatively sparse Southern indigenous population and we’re essentially our own little time capsule.

There are damn few weirdos here to self expel, though, if they ask, we’d be happy to help.

My nearest neighbor, who lived a few hundred yards away, died a few weeks ago. He was, like me, an ex-Marine, A Sergeant Major (E-9) but he had 24 years in compared to my pitiful 4.You can’t imagine how impressive a real USMC Sergeant Major is. They are disciplined, dedicated, controlled, focused, steady and composed. Marines call it squared away. Everything we should aspire to be but almost all of us fail in some or several aspects. He had a flagpole in front of his house and played reveille and taps at appropriate times and ran the Colors up and down with appropriate ceremony EVERY day. You don’t see that in Manhattan.



Comment from Ed Brault

Reminds me of this great short:Reveille.


Guest Contributor – TomD – 10JAN2023 – A Civil Engineering Perspective

Tom | Flickr


I’m a Civil Engineer specializing in structural for most of my career. For almost all in-ground concrete installations, the nature and strength of the subgrade is more important than the strength of the concrete. Subgrade means whatever the concrete is sitting on. In other words, no matter how strong the concrete or asphalt, it isn’t any stronger than what it is bearing on.

I’ve never been associated with residential work but in commercial, government,, etc. work, testing the subgrade is very important. It should be to you too. If you’re spending a lot of money on asphalt or concrete in a non-controlled environment, for your own sake. please call a local geotech outftit, explain your circumstance, and get a proposal.

If you’re spending couple to several 10’s of thousands, please spend a couple of hundred ensuring it doesn’t fail in a year or two.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 07JAN2023 – Republican House

Tom | Flickr


It’s over now but I think the whole circus has actually been a net positive. The worst thing that could have happened yet another round of Democratic Lite policies from the House. We’ve seen a number of those and just look at where they got us.

Maybe, just maybe this will lead not just to a veto of the egregious Dim policies but also a showcase of policies desperately needed by the country even if not enacted for now.

Also, someone has to look hard at Biden to determine if he is, as I suspect, wholly owned by the Chinese Communist Party. And the Dims simply won’t do it.

The Dims have long concluded that the Constitution, freedom, financial sanity, rational policies, the betterment of the nation all be damned, that the true brass ring is raw power achieved by any means. Anything that hinders their ultimate achievement of that goal is a plus.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 31OCT2022 – Photo

Tom | Flickr




It’s now been very close to a year since we ditched our Sony A7III’s and procured Sony A7IV camera.

As a now pushing 2 decade user of Sony Cameras, starting with the A100 in 2005, I was used to each subsequent camera generation being a huge improvement over the preceding in at least several important aspects. That is until the A7III to A7IV jump. Other than the sensor resolution change from 24 to 33 megapixels, the rest of the differences seem that they were closer to a firmware update than a generational change. And, frankly, I’m not at all certain that my image quality has changed much at all over the last several generations.

I’m now hearing rumors of the Sony A7V but I’m pretty sure I won’t be an early adopter.

I think the Sony that I liked the most was the small APS-C Sony A-6300. It was so small that I could carry it anywhere and you would have had to study long and hard to tell the difference between than camera’s images and the images from it’s much larger brothers. It did give up a LOT in low light though.

In 45 years of semi-serious photography starting with a early 70’s Nikon F1, I’ve come to a couple of conclusions about the order of importance of the various elements to the system that, combined, make a good photograph:

1: The photographer (at least 80% right there)
2: Lens
3: Camera body
3: (tie) The rest of the equipment, filters, tripods, etc.

Though this is hard to admit for an engineer, I question the extent that technical merit even plays in a good photo. Below is a shot that I took 15 years ago standing at my Fathers grave at Arlington National the day after my mother’s body was added.

Guest Contributor – TomD – 13AUG2022 – MCCarthy and McConnell

Tom | Flickr


If the Republicans prevail in the house and senate in the midterms but McCarthy and McConnell remain as the leaders, just look for more of the same. But if we could somehow get Rand Paul and Jim Jordan, it would be happy dance in the streets time.

Both these guys are fighters, the opposite of the current “leadership”. Have you ever seen more inept “leadership” than offered to us by Paul Ryan and McConnell in 2016-2018? They did nothing at all despite having the House, Senate and Presidency by substantial margins.

The current Dims hold all three branches but the two legislative branches by razor thin margins. Despite which, they are ramming incredibly destructive legislation down our collective throats. And all we have to counter them is the ineffective duo of McCarthy and McConnell?

Guest Contributor – TomD – 04JUL2022 – Photo

Tom | Flickr



100 trillion zimbabwe front.jpg
100 trillion zimbabwe front.jpg

Here’s an amusing part of my collection, the highest denomination banknote ever issued: a $100 trillion “dollar” (10^14th) Zimbabwean note issued in 2008. The actual monetary value of the note when issued was somewhat less that the worth of 8 ounces of used cat litter. Shortly thereafter the Zimbabwean currency system totally collapsed with the locals instead temporarily adopting 6 packs or Heineken beer (really!) as a basis for economic exchange until the US dollar became the de facto currency.

In the meantime, Zimbabwean currency in various denominations from a few hundred millions up to the pictured 10^14th became available for amusement purposes for a (US) dollar or two on ebay. I bought twenty or thirty of the pictured notes and gave all but two away as joke gifts. But, as it turn out, the joke ended up being on me. Fourteen years later, the highest denomination bill ever issued has become scarce and is now selling for $100 to $300 US dollars.

One wonders whether some enterprising Chinese group has started counterfeiting the notes yet? (Another story but the Chinese counterfeiters are the bane of the existence of collectors of pretty much anything valuable.)