Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Heavy Water War

I stumbled across an interesting television series on Netflix recently. It was a Norwegian production whose title translated as "The Heavy Water Wars". It can also be found under the title "The Saboteurs". It is the dramatization of the true story of the effort to destroy the deuterium oxide production in Norway in order to keep the Germans from gaining an edge on nuclear technology. It is well written and well acted by a mix of British, Scandinavian and German actors. And, while I am no expert, the costumes, scenery and cinematography look great.

There are three story lines. They flip between Werner Heisenberg who is leading the German research, the Brits and Norwegian volunteers who are trying to destroy the plant and the Norwegian plant manager.

A word of warning....as it is with most movies who try to be historically accurate, it is in the characters native language. You will have subtitles, even in the English parts, so you can't try to multi task while watching it.

It was presented in 6 segments designed to fit into a television hour. When it aired in Norway, it captured over 60% of the viewing audience. It's worth looking for.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Head Count

Well, as we know, Saudi Arabia executed 47 terrorists last month. 43 of them were beheaded and the remaining 4 were shot (I guess the swordsman got tired). In addition, they also did away with 8 for murder so their one month total is 55 to start the year with a bang!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Review - Tipping Point (Spoiler Alert)

This is the continuation of David Poyers last novel, "The Cruiser". Frankly, it left me a little flat which is unusual for a Poyer novel.

Dan Lenson is called to Washington, DC to testify about his shoot down of Israeli missiles in an action which has become known as "The Lenson Doctrine". And nothing further is heard about his testimony or how his decision relates to what happens later in the book.

His ship still has an infection that kills the odd sailor and he has a rapist stalking the decks. He does a freedom of navigation run in the Persian Gulf and then he is sent to the coast of India and Pakistan. Tensions there are escalating into a shooting war and he is ordered to shoot down any missiles targeted at a civilian population. Which he does. Then, communications start getting sketchy and he is late to join a task force headed for the South China Sea. World wide tensions begin to escalate and now China is issuing ultimatums. He is ordered to take out a satellite  which he does successfully. And then Poyer ends it as Lenson is sailing into a potential war.

It's not obvious how Poyer intends to continue the Lenson story. The ending left me surprised and let down. While there was some action, there was not as much as a typical Poyer novel and the whole thing left me feeling empty wanting more.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Up Scope!

Yesterday was colonoscopy day. I put it off as long as I could but the doctor has me on a 3 year recall schedule so I could delay it no longer.

The worst part of the test is the prep. One day of a liquid diet finished off with the forced feeding of a gallon of foul tasting liquid designed to return your colon to the state it was when you were a new born baby. When you start drinking that stuff, you can't be too far from the head. The procedure itself is easy because my guy likes to put you under with propofol. The last thing I remember is the RNA injecting the stuff into my IV and then I woke up in the recovery room.

As much of a nuisance as this test can be it is essential to get because colon cancer is worse.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This Week in Automobile History

Henry Ford needed to boost sales for his Model A so he did what all auto manufacturers do to advertise their product - he went racing. On January 12, 1904  he took his 18.8 liter, 4 cylinder Ford Arrow "999" out to a frozen lake between Michigan and Ontario and went almost 92 miles per hour setting a new land sped record.

The vehicle was little more than a huge engine on a wooden frame with a seat for the driver. Henry later said it scared him so badly that he never wanted to get in to a race car again.

18.8 liters is 1,147 cubic inches! I remember when 327 was a big engine.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Dubai Fire Update

Below is a time lapse video of the Address Hotel fire in Dubai on New Years Eve.
 

Note the falling debris that may have started secondary fires in the neighborhood.

The root cause of the fire has not been published but the fire was focused on the aluminum panels on the facade of the building. The panels are a lightweight composite of polyurethane with aluminium cladding. They are NOT fire rated! In fact, Dubai did not start requiring fire rated panels until 2012. They were manufactured in a neighboring emirate and some 250 buildings are thought to have non-fire rated panels.

The architect for the building is large international firm. It is astounding to me that they allowed non fire rated panel in their design. I suspect they were approved without the firms knowledge.

This news is just starting to leak out but restrictions on UAE journalists make publicizing this information a career limiting action.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Head Count

The KSA beheaded 5 more in December. This brings their total head count for 2015 to 145.

Things look exciting for 2016. The Kingdom has started the year by executing 47 Al Qaeda operatives including a prominent Shia cleric which sparked violent protests. This will pretty much trash any relations between Iran and the KSA and we can look forward to more unrest in the area between Shia and Sunni.

In other news of the Gulf States I'm sure you heard about the New Years Eve fire in Dubai. As you read stories about this fire keep two things in mind. One: Construction there is done by illiterate contract labor. Not only do you have shoddy construction, but also the pressure to play fast and loose with construction codes in order to meet schedule. I'd look for problems in the electrical systems. Two: It is against the law to say anything negative about the Sheikh. Since the Sheikh has a piece of everything that happens in the Emirate, saying anything bad about the building, it's construction or it's owners reflects badly upon the Sheikh and would be illegal. Therefore, don't believe anything published about the incident.