17 December 2010


DC-3. Seventy-five years ago today, an icon of aircraft design took its maiden flight. The venerable Douglas DC-3 was a fixed-wing, two-engine, propellor-driven transport with revolutionary speed, range and durability of design. The DC-3 transported cargo and airline passengers in the 1930s, for airlines around the world. It carried cargo and troops in its military livery as a C-47 in all theaters during World War II. It ferried humanitarian supplies to beseiged residents of the West German capital during the Berlin Airlift. Of over 16,000 aircraft manufactured, more than 400 remain in commercial service as passenger and cargo carriers.

From Wikipedia -- "The common saying among aviation buffs and pilots is that 'the only replacement for a DC-3 is another DC-3.' The aircrafts legendary ruggedness is enshrined in the lighthearted description of the DC-3 as 'a collection of parts flying in loose formation.' Its ability to take off and land on grass or dirt runways makes it popular in developing countries, where runways are not always paved.

"Some of the uses of the DC-3 have included aerial spraying, freight transport, passenger service, military transport, sport skydiving shuttling and sightseeing. Perhaps unique among prewar and wartime aircraft, the DC-3 is in daily use. The very large number of civil and military operators of the DC-3, C-47 and related types means that a listing of all the airlines, air forces and other current operators is impractical."

Once in a while, we get it right.

GLOBAL WARMING WINTERS. In a recent email, a friend mused that if global warming is a reality (it is), why are we suffering through such strange and frigid weather in some parts of the U.S. and Europe? Coincidentally, I came across a link which provides a partial answer. "The explanation that is gaining currency among climate scientists is that low levels of Arctic sea ice during the summer are causing more [solar] heat to be absorbed in the Arctic during the fall, and changing atmospheric circulation patterns [see the standard circulation model below, click to enlarge], driving cold Arctic air into Europe and the Eastern United States and funneling warm air up into the Arctic regions .... It also has the unfortunate byproduct of generating a feedback loop that will tend to speed up [global] warming, as it reinforces an atmospheric circulation that drives more warm air into the Arctic, melts more ice, allows darker land and water to absorb more sunlight, further warms the atmosphere in the Arctic, and thereby reinforces the new atmospheric circulation pattern .... As the globe continues to warm, we in DC and our counterparts in London might just need to get used to frigid winters."

Strange and unpredictable effects are not limited to the U.S. east coast or western Europe. The desert southwest is experiencing much warmer than usual temperatures this winter, with highs in the 60s and 70s dF common. Curiouser and curiouser.

BOEHNER REDUX. In yesterday's post, I referred to Gail Collins noting with wry humor the tendency of Republican Representative John Boehner to get all weepy for the cameras. Today, Timothy Egan wields a sharper pen in The Tears of John Boehner, shining an incandescent light on the gaping paradox between Boehner's alleged cherishing of the mythic American Dream on the one hand, and his long record of voting AGAINST the interests of those who would join, or remain in, the American middle class. In an era when the chasm between the many who are poor and the few who are wealthy grows ever wider and deeper, Boehner consistently sides with the rich, of whom he is one.

I can respect someone whose views differ from my own, if that person's views are genuine and informed by careful thinking and evidence. I have no tolerance for a hypocrite or a liar. John Boehner, along with most of the power elite in the Republican party (and their supporters in the neocon media), should cringe with shame. His histrionics only make him look like a fool. Alas, a fool with real political power, as the soon-to-be Speaker of the House.

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