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November 11th, 2006 - Adventures in Engineering — LiveJournal
The wanderings of a modern ronin.

Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-11-11 00:10
  Subject:   Why ammonium perchlorate stockpiles are not your friend.

assorted footage of truly massive boomy things. satisfaction guaranteed

The *smaller* explosion in this video threw a railroad tank car 3/4 of a mile...
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-11-11 14:22
  Subject:   DId I tell you the electronic voting machines were crap? Did I?

A close analysis of Thursday's results show in two races, more people voted in a mayoral race than live in the town, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's July 2005 estimates. In Gateway, a town of 122 people, 199 votes were cast in an uncontested mayoral race. In the Pea Ridge, 3,997 votes were cast in a contested mayor's race for the city of 3,344 people.


I always like voter turn-outs greater than 100%, don't you? Talk about an engaged populous!

The touch-screen voting machines Katherine Harris championed as secretary of state in Florida after the 2000 presidential recount may have botched this year's election to replace her in the U.S. House, and it is likely going to mean another Florida recount. More than 18,000 Sarasota County voters who marked other races did not have a vote register in the House race.


Yeah, I'm sure none of those 18,000 people had a feeling either way about who their next House Rep should be. After all, both a Republican and a Democrat were running, so it's not like people would feel there was actually some kind of difference in the candidates.

A little closer to home...

Technical problems plagued Denver's voters throughout the day, where some of the city's 55 voting centers reported waits of more than two hours as polls closed at 7 p.m. Denver Election Commission spokesman Alton Dillard said some voters, mostly at the downtown voting centers, stood in line for more than three hours, with the last votes cast at 10:30 p.m. before the voting centers finally closed.

Meanwhile, Denver election officials admitted this afternoon that the city's new computerized electronic balloting system was overwhelmed almost from the start of voting this morning.

Denver Election Commission spokesman Alton Dillard II said the system's "e poll book" laptop computers - which were used to verify each voter - were bogged down early in the day, forcing election judges to manually call other election officials by telephone to certify the voters. The system became so bogged down by 1 p.m. that election officials were forced to shut down the computers and reboot them, Dillard said.


I do so love systems that crash and burn horribly... when you try and get them to do exactly what they were designed to do. Way to beta-test, guys!

At this point, if the 'Pubs want to argue that maybe the 'Crats didn't win the mid-terms... they're not going to have to work very hard! With the kind of glitches we're seeing, it becomes difficult to trust the results of even a single electronic voting machine, much less a whole electronic voting system made of many (and many different kinds of) machines, all potentially making different mistakes. (Edit: I see absolutely no evidence anywhere that the Republicans want a recount done on the mid-terms, BTW. Quite the opposite, in fact. Do you see them bitching about it? No, it's me - the liberal!)

Our current generation of electronic voting machines need to be trashed. Not upgraded. Not reprogrammed. Thrown into a garbage compactor, and crushed into pieces no larger than gravel. Paper ballots have served us well for 200+ years, I think they'll do okay for another two or three years until we can make new voting machines that actually count our votes correctly.
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Ben Cantrick
  Date: 2006-11-11 23:16
  Subject:   FoilSim II - undergrad version
For those of you who saw the latest episode of MythBusters with the concrete glider, you may be interested in this...

It's an airfoil simulator program made in Java. The UI is crude, but you get used to it. My only real complaint is that it doesn't seem to have a lift:drag ratio estimator, but given that it's free I'll give that one a pass.

The site this is on has several more cool little simulators for jet turbines, rocket nozzles, and other aerospaceish things. Check 'em all out: http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/UndergradProgs/index.htm
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