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#5 - Too bad we just ran out of helium.

Our politicians can provide all the hot air we need.

I'm here all week.

LOL, we didn't run out of helium. We just stopped maintaining a national strategic reserve.

Perfect timing, as usual.

If it's hot enough, water vapor has more lift than ambient-temperature helium. Water vapor has about half the molecular weight of air, and if you heat it up it bceomes much less dense. Water vapor is an excellent microwave absorber, so in an aluminum dirigible, you can heat the water vapor with a small microwave generator. With a syntactic coating (polymer filled with hollow glass microballoons), the heat stays inside just like a thermos bottle. No helium needed, and you can control buoyancy just by throttling the temperature.

"There's even discussion of turning them into giant floating hotels for serene 80-day global circumnavigations."

Considering that airships lack the performance to climb over weather, and their low speed makes their ability to go around weather dubious, such a trip would be anything but serene.

What's the operational ceiling on these? Denver is high enough that none of the sports-covering blimps ever come here. If these have similar ceilings, the LA-to-NYC route is going to have to go considerably out of the way to cross the Continental Divide. Also a significant number of days where craft following any particular east-to-west route will encounter headwinds over the Divide and the Great Plains considerably above 20 mph.

There are passes between LA and Phoenix that max out at 4000 feet. You could be at 1000 feet AGL and still be below Denver's altitude.

#1 is the most depressing thing I've seen in a while.

“I’m not your real mother." - Surely a self-fulfilling prophecy.

No great danes?

When I was young, there was an LPN who would walk her employer's dog. She was a little old Austrian woman, about five feet tall. The dog was a mostly white great dane. The first day my mom saw her, it was early in the morning and very foggy. Mom thought she saw an apparition.

Franzen seems dumb.

Would rather read Kraus on Franzen.

Funny watching franzen constantly rant against SWPL while making his millions off being the official SWPL novelist

Come on Tyler, you missed the obvious title "drone delivery vehicles of the future"!

So a German version of a perfect world is using black policemen to replace crosswalk signs? That's a weird version of successful integration. White pedestrians, white shoppers, white office workers, but a single black man with Polizei on the front. Don't black German go shopping and walk around town?

About 1% of Germany's population is black, so that is roughly in line with the demographics. The one black person is shown in a position of responsibility, which was probably the point.

5. what's the point?

Getting even modest amounts of supplies and people to remote areas by plane can be a nightmare; you've either got to find a suitable runway or be prepared to parachute.

Parachuting cargo sounds good to me. What does the airship give you? pinpoint delivery? at what cost?

I think it's also cheaper than a plane for bulky/heavy loads because lift isn't generated by constant power but by compressing/expanding buoyant gas and the load doesn't need to be inside the airship.

That's an advantage over a plane, but it's an advantage that trucks have, plus they can go more than 20mph. This is only useful in places inaccessible to trucks and boats. Yes, you save money on fuel, but does that make up for having such a specialized airship? Parachuting tons of cargo sounds cheaper to me than specialization.

20mph? Did I miss that in the Giz piece? (Read it on my phone.) The fastest airships of the 30's could top 80mph.

There is an advantage for industrial purposes in pinpoint delivery. Think of the gyrations that we go through now to deliver oversized loads. Traffic bottled up for hours, power lines that have to be removed and replaced, trees chopped down, etc. Imagine an airship grabbing, say, a wind turbine blade right at the factory and flying it out to an offshore windfarm where it can be installed without any transfers.

It will fly faster than 20 mph; that would be the lower limit for effective use of control surfaces like the rudder. The USS Los Angeles (1924-1939) covered 172,400 nautical miles in 4,398 hours of service for an average speed of 39 knots. Slower than a truck, but not 20 mph.

I would worry about mooring if the intent is to serve inaccessable, undeveloped sites. Mooring was an accident-prone headache even at naval bases.

USS Macon, the fastest airship built in the 'golden age', had a top speed of 87mph and could cruise in the 70's. A modern vessel could certainly best this, at least by a bit.

#2. Long and annoying.

That's what she said.

#6 reminded me of what Veblen says about dogs in his book on the "leisure Class"

To be a “maid” in Mexico City is actually a very common “job” for a woman to have, although strangely it’s not considered an official job in the eyes of the law, since the employer is not legally obliged, for example, to provide healthcare for their employee in this case.

Just like almost all non-union private sector jobs in the United States!

Franzen's rant is so dumb I have to comment twice. This man is a novelist? Dear Lord. Dear, dear Lord. He sounds like an 18 year old whose only experience of the world is through the lens of a few favorite writers and his own imagination. But this man is 57 and a novelist? Pretty sure Franzen is the vulgar, formless, unoriginal, incurious, fashionable Frankenstein as art Kraus railed against. That's why it would be so fun to hear Kraus on Franzen.

Franzen is the ineluctable product of the unthinking machine of our age. He's exactly the turd you would expect our contemporary culture to shit out judging by our diet. He is a writer who isn't even a reader, which is clear because a reader understands Proust's observation that an expert reader can judge whether a writer is worth his salt after only a few sentences. Yet Franzen fears good readers can't filter through the noise of the internet. He fears we will all be led astray by fake reviews on Amazon. He fears we won't be able to discover the truly great writers of our time if we rely on our own judgment instead of the judgment of big publishers and reviewers in major magazines.

Pretty sure Kraus would kick Franzen's ass if he had the chance.

I realize I'm preaching to the choir here. But, hey, it's Sunday.

It is challenging to find good books via And the numbers bear that out. Buyers first discover a book online only 17% of the time - the other 83% of the time they discover the book offline.

People, publishers and critics are currently better than the algorithms at identifying and recommending great books. I know three published authors - they hate the new world of publishing. Too many online reviews are friends and family and it will only get worse.

I suspect Kraus would find Franzen far more interesting than you. You are the one ranting like an 18 year old, so eager to show off your erudition.

5. The airship has been about to make a comeback for, what, 40 years now? Maybe longer. But somehow it never does. While they may have their uses such as fair weather tourism over senic locations, to me their prospects seem worse now than they did 20 years ago. After all, we are living in a world where solar powered planes travel faster than airships.

Sorry, I was thinking of electric aircraft. I suppose any electric aircraft could be solar powered, but that's not what is generally meant by solar powered plane. Anyway, the Hindenburg would beat the Solar Impulse in a race.

I'm not really buying the new-and-improved blimp, but I did see a paper claiming that a ground-effects hybrid airship would fit a niche between air freight and shipping.

That might be an interesting paper, but the idea that hovercraft could be used for freight has been around for a long time but has never really gotten off the ground. While they can technically move cargo at low energy cost over a smooth surface hovercraft haven't moved beyond certain niches. But given we know that they can work reasonably efficiently I imagine if things had gone differently in the past we could be living in a much more hovercrafty world today. To me this seems like a much more likely alternative reality than those airship infested ones that keep popping up in science fiction. Hover freight might have worked very well in Australia. Lots of room for hoverways in the interior. Actually, maybe there's a niche for hover freight in Australia right now. Sydney rail is horribly congested and it's a real struggle to get freight to the harbour. A cargo hovercraft that could load up inland, go around Sydney and then hover over the ocean and into Sydney harbour to the docks may be able to pay for itself. Or maybe not. But it's a thought.

#5: The fact that the Giz piece claimed that the Hindenburg's skeleton was made of balsa makes me question everything else in the piece. Her frame was built of duralumin, an alloy of aluminum. One simple image search, seeing the aftermath of the wreck would show that the frame was, at least, comprised of metal of some sort.

3: The Left, with no sense of irony, shows its Germany partitioned into half utopia, half grimy industrial surveillance state, complete with Stasi guy watching monitors and building split in two.

#3: It seems all of them approached their assignment with the earnestness of overachieving grade schoolers. They are vying for control of Europe's resurgent hegemon, and communicating with voters through the medium of kitsch displays in a toy museum.

You'd expect a wink, an ironic twist, SOME acknowledgment of this dissonance to assure an onlooker above the age of 6 that they are in on the joke. But you'd be wrong.

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