Stop, Look & Listen (1967)

This is a fantastic creation; devised as a public service film and produced by Chuck Menville & Len Jansen.

The period considered, it truly is a technical and visual marvel and is deserving of great merit for the effort involved in producing it and the message it delivers.

It was nominated for an Oscar.

Mark Applebaum: The mad scientist of music (TED Talks)

It takes a lot to break out of a mould; to be, different.

Mark Applebaum is, at the very least, different.

Poppycock or lateral genius; this talk will divide the audience cleanly…

Sinking about English

I’ve recently gotten into sailing; which has given me the opportunity to familiarise myself with a plethora of new terms and new environments.

From a linguistics perspective, two things really do stand out in this field:

  • The ironic use of the word vessel, to describe a large boat. Google defines the word as follows:

noun: vessel; plural noun: vessels

a ship or large boat.
synonyms:    boat, ship, craft, watercraft; literarybark/barque
“a fishing vessel”
a hollow container, especially one used to hold liquid, such as a bowl or cask.
synonyms:    container, receptacle; More

  • The number of boats with sequential numbering in their name. Would you feel confident boarding Titanic II?


The story of the Turbo-Encabulator…

The turboencabulator or turbo-encabulator (and its later incarnation, the retroencabulator or retro-encabulator) is a fictional machine whose alleged existence became an in-joke and subject of professional humor among engineers. The explanation of the supposed product makes extensive use of technobabble.

The original technical description of the “turbo-encabulator” was written by British graduate student John Hellins Quick (1923-1991). It was published in 1944 by the British Institution of Electrical Engineers Students’ Quarterly Journal in an article titled “The Turbo-Encabulator in Industry” by “J.H. Quick, Student” as also noted by consulting firm Arthur D. Little in a 1995 reprint of Quick’s description, and giving Quick’s full name.

The earliest written U.S. source may have been in 1946, in an Arthur D. Little Industrial Bulletin. An early popular American reference to the turbo-encabulator appeared in an article by New York lawyer Bernard Salwen in Time on April 15, 1946. Part of Salwen’s job was to review technical manuscripts. He was amused by the jargon and passed on the description from the Arthur D. Little pamphlet.

Time got with the gag, featuring the device in a May 6, 1946 issue, described as “An adjunct to the turbo-encabulator, employed whenever a barescent skor motion is required.” A month later a response to reader mail on the feature appeared in the June 3, 1946 issue:

If the sackful of mail we have received from you is any indication, the story of “The Turbo-Encabulator in Industry” struck many a responsive chord. Aside from those of you who wanted to be reassured that TIME hadn’t been taken in, we received the customary complaints about using too much technical jargon for the layman, observations such as “My husband says it sounds like a new motor; I say it sounds like a dictionary that has been struck by lightning”; suggestions that it “might have come out of the mouth of Danny Kaye,” and plaintive queries like: “Is this good?” Wrote one bemused U.S. Navyman: “It’sh poshible.” To some the turbo-encabulator sounded as though it would be a “wonderful machine for changing baby’s diapers.” A reader from Hoboken assumed that it would be on sale soon in Manhattan department stores. Many of you wrote in to thank us for illuminating what you have long wanted to tell your scientist friends.”

In 1962 a turboencabulator data sheet was created by engineers at General Electric’s Instrument Department, in West Lynn, Massachusetts. It quoted from the previous sources and was inserted into the General Electric Handbook. The turboencabulator data sheet had the same format as the other pages in the G.E. Handbook. The engineers added “Shure Stat” in “Technical Features”, which was peculiar only to the Instrument Department, and included the first known graphic representation of a “manufactured” Turboencabulator using parts made at the Instrument Department.

In c. 1977 Bud Haggart, an actor who appeared in many industrial training films in and around Detroit, performed in the first film realization of the description and operation of the “Turboencabulator”, using a truncated script adapted from Quick’s article. Bud convinced director Dave Rondot and the film crew to stay after the filming of an actual GMC Trucks project training film to realize the Turboencabulator spot.

In c. 1988 the former Chrysler Corporation “manufactured” the Turboencabulator in a video spoof. Rockwell Automation “manufactured” the renamed Retro-Encabulator in another video spoof in c. 1997. On April Fools’ Day 2013, Hank Green released a SciShow episode on YouTube entitled “The Retro-Proto-Turbo-Encabulator.”

The technical descriptions of all these turboencabulators have remained remarkably similar over the years.


The Common Denominators

If you’ve been following the story of the South African university students protesting the proposed fee increases for the new year, lend your ears and eyes for for a momentary trade of insight…

University students in South Africa, in 2015, are, in the majority, part of the group hailed as the “Born Frees”; people born after the first post-Apartheid general election.

What a moronic term that is. We’ll delve into that minefield another time though…

What is poignantly concerning in this instance though, is the culture of anarchy, disillusionment, racism and the propagandist skewing of the past.

It shoud be noted that these are, allegedly, the words of an SRC member; a person trusted and elected by a student majority to represent them.

The link below was presented without verification. Nonetheless, it hugely vexing and wholly disturbing.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
—George Santayana

Belts & boomerangs

The textile industry in South Africa has reportedly been in dire straits for years now. I’m really not sure why though.

Yesterday, the mall was awash with civil employees; from boat jockeys to camouflaged pistoliers and even the odd Pollsmoor cage minder. None of these hirelings drudged along the corridors at a span of less than a yard wide.

We have a plethora of shortages in this country; food is clearly not one of them.

Did I ever tell you the story about how I founded a belt company with just a roll of elastic webbing and a box of boomerangs?

Some perspective on the VW emissions scandal…

A lot has been said about the Volkswagen emissions scandal over the past several days. It has the media abuzz and the online community agog, but have you really given a moment’s thought to what there really is to stress about?

The short version is that VW, in cahoots with Robert Bosch, the suppliers of the electronics in question, designed a software mechanism into the system that would alter the given nitrogen oxide output, when the vehicle underwent emissions testing.

The upside of this is that the consumer received a vehicle with performance subject to lesser throttling than what would have been needed for the product to pass the arguably currently realistic regulations – finances and technology availability considered – set by the many regulations in place across the globe. The downside, naturally, is that all concerned, were lied to; and that your diesel-powered VW *may* now lose some value. Considering the fact that their diesel products are proven and loved, this is unlikely, beyond, perhaps, a succint period of community-fronted goodwill.

You may elect to have your car ‘repaired’, in line with the upcoming recall, but how many people do you know who would voluntarily offer up their car for a performance downgrade and an increase in fuel consumption? Not many, I expect.

You may claim to be a child of Mother Nature, intent on hugging every tree that you pass, but unless you purchased a BlueMotion VW, you’re only fooling yourself and BSing us. You bought a diesel for one, or more, of the reasons that most do; the torque, longevity & far superior fuel consumption.

Considering that the scandal broke in the USA, let’s take a look at some facts, to put things into perspective…

The L. A. Times report that approximately 482,000 cars are involved in the scandal, across the expanse of the United States. In contrast, state that somewhere in the region of 42 million Americans smoke. That’s about a fifth of the American population.

Nitrogen oxides, the gas at the centre of this debacle, are produced in great quantities by both petrol & diesel engines. If you happen to live near to a gas powerplant, or an area prone to heavy lightning strikes, you’re rich in the supply of NOx too. Lucky you.

Nitrogen dioxide is an irritant gas, which at high concentrations causes inflammation of the airways.

Sounds troubling, but consider this, in contrast…

There are approximately 600 ingredients in cigarettes. When burned, they create more than 7,000 chemicals. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer, and many are poisonous.

Many of these chemicals are also found in consumer products, but these products have warning labels. While the public is warned about the danger of the poisons in these products, there is no such warning for the toxins in tobacco smoke.

Here are a few of the chemicals in tobacco smoke, and other places they are found:

Acetone – found in nail polish remover
Acetic Acid –  an ingredient in hair dye
Ammonia – a common household cleaner
Arsenic – used in rat poison
Benzene – found in rubber cement
Butane – used in lighter fluid
Cadmium – active component in battery acid
Carbon Monoxide – released in car exhaust fumes
Formaldehyde – embalming fluid
Hexamine – found in barbecue lighter fluid
Lead – used in batteries
Naphthalene – an ingredient in moth balls
Methanol – a main component in rocket fuel
Nicotine – used as insecticide
Tar – material for paving roads
Toluene – used to manufacture paint

Mmmm, that sounds healthy for you.

The odds that you smoke, know someone who does and spend at least some time within proximity to someone who does, are pretty good.

Unless you’re the recipient of a Prozac prescription, you’re unlikely to suck on an exhaust pipe, but most would spend time in a smoke-filled entertainment venue, social setting or probing the tonsils of their ashy-mouthed significant other.

…makes you think, eh?

The evidence against the case for harsh criticism of vehicular emissions diminishes even further when we take a look at the bigger picture, so to speak; the other major components of internal combustion output…

If you’re, as Nature intended, an omnivore, you’re even more harmful to the environment. Your ruminant food is farting; and it’s killing us, slowly but surely. The average car will emit 2.7 tons of methane per year. In stark contrast, the average cow flatulates 4 tons.

The internal combustion engine is a rather efficient producer of carbon monoxide; a byproduct of numerous thermal processes, the major culprit of which takes place in the troposphere.

The natural sources of carbon monoxide predominate (90% of total emissions); the remaining 10% are made up of motor-vehicle emissions (55%), industry (11%) and other emitters (HORN, 1989).


Carbon monoxide is rapidly oxidised, to form carbon dioxide, which is used for photosynthesis.

You could follow the blind Greenies, blindly; selling your diesel VW, in lieu of replacing it with something else, that has passed the tests, whether legally or not, or, you could carry on as-is, oblivious to the political ramblings and selectively bulleted news.

With ever more stringent regulations facing manufacturers, it’s highly unlikely that the Volkswagen group, as a whole, are the only culprits of such engineering. Only time shall tell. Given the past leniency seen with American manufacturers dodging known issues, the severity of the fine issued to VW will be telling.

What is certainly true, is that maintaining your old clunker, despite its fuel consumption, is undoubtedly more environmentally-friendly than any vehicle on the dealers’ floors at present. The cost of getting a new car to market, in terms of the environment, versus any fuel saving your new vehicle, petrol, diesel, electric, hybrid, hydrogen or otherwise, may offer, will only amortise over many more years – likely decades later – than current vehicles are designed to last for.

Hype, opinion or fact, perspective is what brings reasonable understanding to the facts.

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.

I’m in quandary…

I’ve been ripping off the ANC-led degradation in our education system, stemming from their rise to load-shed power in 1994, for years now.

However, here we have a retired teacher, proclaiming an ability to enhance one’s educational aptitude, when, clearly, their own literacy level is barely past that of preschooler.


In the shadow of ESKOM, we find dimness to be a staple trait of the nation, both in the literal and figurative sense.

Have standards really dropped, or is it just the next iteration of stupid is as stupid teaches?

Pendulous Testicles

Slide it, like KiyonariTomorrow I shall flaunt my new gait, with pride; brought about by my now pendulous testicles.

I’ve definitely just earned my wet weather motorcycling badge.

Welcome to Cape Town, in winter; where the roads resemble rinks, your bike is sailed, rather than ridden and it is entirely possible to obtain your marine license whilst on wheels.

“The closer you are to death, the more alive you feel.”