An interesting article on the Vintage News site. Apparently the Germans, towards the end of WWII, were working on a coal fueled ramjet for use as a fighter. The coal fuel system was an attempt to get around the increasing fuel shortages they were facing at that time.
Was most intriguing is that the basic engine system was actually built and tested before the end of the war.
So there you have it. Steampunk truly does exist. There is, in fact, such a thing as a coal powered rocket (ramjet anyway).
There’s an old saying which I think comes from Mark Twain which says:
Never ascribe to conspiracy what can be explained by simple incompetence.
When I read the latest article about EMP preparations (or rather lack of preparations) by the U.S. government that saying comes to mind. Except it comes to mind in the sense that even the worst kind of incompetence can no longer explain the government response to the EMP threat.
After almost a decade of information from various commissions, scientific reports, congressional testimony and open discussion in international military journals of the continued development of nuclear EMP weapons by our enemies the response by Homeland Security is….
…to undertake another study of the issue to be completed sometime next year.
If the people in our government are truly that incompetent then God help us because surely no help will be coming from the government and at that level of incompetence any help they tried to provide would probably just make the situation worse.
Interestingly enough there were actually “hackers” in the Victorian Era. Each year in our time there is a Black Hat conference where the best hackers get together to compare skills and discuss techniques. The Victorian Era had something similar.
It appears there were Locksmithing competitions in the Victorian Era with all of the drama, intrigue and scandal that accompanies modern hacking.
It’s fascinating reading and an interesting glimpse into a long gone era that shows that human nature hasn’t really changed much in a hundred years or so.
Read an interesting tidbit yesterday related to Lime and Whitewash.
Whitewash, in it’s most basic form, is a simple mixture of lime and water. It was used as a paint and protectant for generations around the world. Whitewash was really more a of a side product of the production of lime for agricultural use.
Lime has been used around the world to reduce the acidity of soil and to boost crop yields. The burning of limestone produces caustic quicklime or calcium oxide which is combined with water to produce calcium hydroxide which is the more common “lime” used in agriculture, whitewash and many other fields.
Many people remember reading the scenes in Tom Sawyer about whitewashing the fence and the image of people applying whitewash to buildings and barns is one of the most ubiquitous images from the 1800s.
What is less commonly known is that whitewash once dry retains sufficient alkalinity to have a fairly effective antiseptic effect.
I suspect it was simply that folks noticed that people who whitewashed their homes and barns experienced less illness among their livestock and family members since whitewash was in use long before germ theory became common knowledge.
People in earlier generations may not have had the depth of scientific knowledge that we believe we have today but they were keen observers of the world around them and often made quite astute connections between cause and effect. They may not have understood the underlying mechanisms involved but were adept at understanding that when you do X then Y occurs.
Regardless of the reasons it seems that once again our ancestors, perhaps through luck or more likely through astute observation of the world around them, discovered a method of decreasing illness and maintaining more sanitary conditions for both themselves and their farm animals.
So when you think of whitewash as a way to make things look nice and clean realize that it actually did make things cleaner and had more health significance than we might have thought.
There is a classic SciFi movie from the 30s called Things to Come based on an H.G. Wells story. The title came to mind after reading the latest Shakespearean tragedy coming out of Venezuela.
It’s reached the point in that country where the doctors are resorting to stealing food from their own hospitals in order to feed their families and that children are now starting to die from starvation.
Something someone said recently struck me though and that was when an individual I know said that if we ever did have a collapse here in the U.S. it would more a matter of just holding out until relief came than having to plan for long term survival.
I wonder how many people in Venezuela are thinking that any time now relief will come. help will appear. Aid convoys will come rolling into town with food and water and generators and fuel and medicine…. any time now…. real soon… any minute. I wonder how many still think that?
The world unfortunately doesn’t appear to actually see the situation in Venezuela as a humanitarian crisis. It is simply politics as usual. When it comes right down to it Venezuela is actually in better shape than many countries in the world.
They are only starting to see children starving. In many countries that is the norm and has been for a long, long time. While it may not be reliable they do have a functional electrical grid, something that many countries do not. They have police even if they are used more to harass those who dissent against the enlightened government than to protect the citizens. They have roads and cities and all of the remaining infrastructure of a civilized industrial world even if it is decaying around them. And of course they do have abundant natural resources which used to provide a fairly high standard of living and might again one day.
Which begs the question why would anyone in any industrial country expect aid to flow to them or even more absurdly expect the government that created the situation to accept the aid? Accepting aid would be a tacit admission that the government was completely incompetent… something that the citizens of most countries know about their governments but that governments are institutionally incapable of grasping. But then… if they could grasp that fact perhaps they would not be so incompetent.
Keep that in mind the next time someone talks about just needing to get by until help comes in the event of a collapse or an EMP attack, a cyber attack, a civil war or some other catastrophic event.
Not sure whether this is Old tech that has become new or New tech that is just old.
Either way it’s an interesting take on the idea of pedal powered generators. Generators powered by hand cranks or pedal power have been around for a long time. The hand cranked ones were common on WWII battlefields and pedal powered ones were often improvised in the field.
There are ones available on Amazon and Ebay and plenty of plans and blogs related to building pedal powered generators. The simplest are just belt or chain take offs from bike gears to a generator shaft.
What’s interesting about this approach is that it’s not oriented towards emergency or intentional off-grid uses but for people who live in places without electricity as the norm. They do use electrical power from batteries for various functions but have no easily accessible or convenient charging source. This is intended to be a “community” item available to anyone to charge their batteries
An interesting concept to keep in mind if you ever find yourself in an emergency situation with a group of people or a community. Consider the idea of setting up a community pedal powered charging station.
Intriguing is the idea of someone becoming a professional “charger” by accepting payment or barter for charging other people’s batteries. It shows that capitalism is a basic instinct in people worldwide.
For those who consider a social and or economic collapse to be an existential threat and something to consider in their preparations for emergency there is a vivid and close at hand collapse taking place available for study and observation.
The country of Venezuela is in the process of shutting down as a functioning country.
(Note: Be aware that the collapse of Venezuela has nothing whatsoever to do with Socialism as I have been informed and lectured about as length by those Europhiles who credit Socialism with the European utopia existing across the ocean. So always keep in mind that Socialism and Socialist policies are NOT responsible for any of the problems in Venezuela.)
The government there is pretty much shutting down due to lack of electricity and keeping the offices open 2 half days a week. Food, water and medicine are either gone or continuing to disappear.
If you’ve read novels or watched movies about collapses and wondered how accurate they are here’s your opportunity to gather information. Venezuela is a Western country, formerly part of the Western industrialized world. The social values are not much different form those of the United States and other Western countries. So if you want to know what actually happens when a Western country collapses… watch and learn.
I doubt many people will take any pleasure seeing what is happening there but it is a valuable lesson and can help you look at your own preparations and perhaps make adjustments, changes or perhaps simply reinforce what you are already doing. Knowing what happens when a collapse actually occurs goes a long way towards getting you ready for one.
I held off posting this article for a few days since I honestly assumed it was satire or a joke or that there would be some followup revealing it to be a hoax of some kind.
Still am not convinced there is any real substance to it.
Bottom line is that American energy producers (i.e. NON-government private industry) is actually studying ways to protect the grid from EMP attacks. Seeing as how several clearly insane rogue nations have the capability to inflict such an attack on the U.S. and other Western industrialized nations that’s a good thing.
Clearly the Federal government has not time to waste on such trivial matter when it has to focus all it’s money and energy on important matters like opening girls bathrooms to men and increasing benefits to illegal aliens. They are paid more in benefits than destitute Americans but it’s still clearly not a sufficient amount.
The possible kicker though is that the industry groups are working with the DOE (Department of Energy) in this project. The old saying “If you want to destroy something get the government involved.” is still true. I have no doubt that the industry engineers will come up with solutions but there is a good chance that the DOE will regulate their actions out of existence, require decades long environmental impact studies, make them too expensive to actually implement or in some other way render industries effort null and void leaving us as vulnerable if not more vulnerable than we are right now.
Nevertheless it is one little spark of light in a dark world.
Video of William Forstchen explaining how he came to write One Second After which describes the effects of an EMP on the population of a small town in North Western North Carolina.
If you haven’t read it you should.