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Posts Tagged ‘postage stamps

Beating plowshares into swords…


Bruce Lund has cemented his place in the toy-makers’ hall of fame– he created Tickle Me Elmo and Honey: My Baby Pony.  But as Popular Mechanics reports, the Pentagon wants a piece of him too…

His company’s latest product is a nonlethal weapon for the military nicknamed the Big Hurt…  The problem with existing weapons firing rubber bullets, beanbags and other crowd-control rounds is their velocity. Anything that is effective at 50 yards may be lethal at 5 yards; anything that is safe at 5 yards won’t be fast enough to be effective at 50. Lund’s solution is a weapon that automatically measures the range to the target and varies the muzzle velocity accordingly…

Lund’s Variable Velocity Weapon System (VVWS) uses cans of methylacetylene propadiene gas, the kind that fuels blowtorches and nail guns, sold at hardware stores. “You might view the VVWS as a repurposed nail gun,” Lund says…

There is plenty of interest in future developments of the combustion technology. Lund is talking to the law enforcement community about a handgun version that will provide the sort of nonlethal stopping power currently available only from shotguns. The Department of Homeland Security officials have been talking about a combustion-powered 40-mm grenade launcher to launch sensors that can detect toxic gas or place wireless listening devices. Lund has even been looking into making gas-fired mortars. An adapted VVWS might even have sports applications for skeet or trap shooting, and could be considered a green technology since it needs no cartridge cases and uses no powder.

Read the full article here (and take heart that Lund insists that he’ll return to home base: “Nothing is more fun than making toys.”)

***

As we rummage in the garage for that old BB gun, we might recall that it was on this date in 1840 that the “Penny Black,” the first adhesive postage stamp, was issued in Great Britain.  A product of postal reforms authored by Sir Rowland Hill, the stamp embodied a number of innovations:  it was pre-payment for delivery, it was affixed to an envelope, and it covered delivery anywhere in the U.K.  Before this point, payment was on delivery (by the recipient), and was charged by the number of sheets in a letter (often carried loose) and by the distance they were carried.

Queen Victoria’s silhouette (All British stamps still bear a likeness of the monarch somewhere in their design, and are the only postage stamps in the world that refrain from naming their country of origin, relying on the monarch’s image to symbolize the United Kingdom.)

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from a May Day pastregular service should resume May 6

Written by LW

May 1, 2012 at 1:01 am

Beating plowshares into swords…

Bruce Lund has cemented his place in the toy-makers’ hall of fame– he created Tickle Me Elmo and Honey: My Baby Pony.  But as Popular Mechanics reports, the Pentagon wants a piece of him too…

His company’s latest product is a nonlethal weapon for the military nicknamed the Big Hurt…  The problem with existing weapons firing rubber bullets, beanbags and other crowd-control rounds is their velocity. Anything that is effective at 50 yards may be lethal at 5 yards; anything that is safe at 5 yards won’t be fast enough to be effective at 50. Lund’s solution is a weapon that automatically measures the range to the target and varies the muzzle velocity accordingly…

Lund’s Variable Velocity Weapon System (VVWS) uses cans of methylacetylene propadiene gas, the kind that fuels blowtorches and nail guns, sold at hardware stores. “You might view the VVWS as a repurposed nail gun,” Lund says…

There is plenty of interest in future developments of the combustion technology. Lund is talking to the law enforcement community about a handgun version that will provide the sort of nonlethal stopping power currently available only from shotguns. The Department of Homeland Security officials have been talking about a combustion-powered 40-mm grenade launcher to launch sensors that can detect toxic gas or place wireless listening devices. Lund has even been looking into making gas-fired mortars. An adapted VVWS might even have sports applications for skeet or trap shooting, and could be considered a green technology since it needs no cartridge cases and uses no powder.

Read the full article here (and take heart that Lund insists that he’ll return to home base: “Nothing is more fun than making toys.”)

As we rummage in the garage for that old BB gun, we might recall that it was on this date in 1840 that the “Penny Black,” the first adhesive postage stamp, was issued in Great Britain.  A product of postal reforms authored by Sir Rowland Hill, the stamp embodied a number of innovations:  it was pre-payment for delivery, it was affixed to an envelope, and it covered delivery anywhere in the U.K.  Before this point, payment was on delivery (by the recipient), and was charged by the number of sheets in a letter (often carried loose) and by the distance they were carried.

Queen Victoria’s silhouette (All British stamps still bear a likeness of the monarch somewhere in their design, and are the only postage stamps in the world that refrain from naming their country of origin, relying on the monarch’s image to symbolize the United Kingdom.)

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan…

an exhibit in The Opium Museum

This website is a virtual museum dedicated to a little-known subject: the artistry of antique Chinese opium-smoking paraphernalia.

The controversy of the Opium Wars and the subsequent British opium trade with China is still widely remembered today. What has been forgotten is that by the time the trade was banished, and opium smoking began to be effectively eradicated in China, it had already become an integral part of Qing dynasty culture, indulged in at every level of Chinese society – from the lowliest rickshaw pullers to the court eunuchs within the luxurious chambers of old Peking’s Forbidden City. And to satisfy the sophisticated tastes of China’s noble, mandarin, and merchant classes, the paraphernalia and ritual of opium smoking reached dizzying artistic heights. Opium pipes, opium lamps and other accoutrements were crafted from the finest materials – ivory, jade, silver, cloisonné and porcelain.

Beginning in the 18th century, opium accompanied the Chinese diaspora: first to the Chinese quarters of Asian cities, and later to the Chinatowns of the West, particularly North America, where opium smoking in the Chinese manner and with Chinese-made paraphernalia became fashionable among non-Chinese.

Once the drug was banned and its paraphernalia outlawed, these illicit items were heaped into piles and burned in public bonfires. From Shanghai to Saigon to San Francisco, the means to smoke opium were destroyed along with the drug itself. So few examples of these relics remain that most experts on Chinese art are blithely unaware of just how sumptuous and opulent this art form had become during its heyday.

We at the Opium Museum believe that, right or wrong, opium smoking was a part of the human experience, and as such, examples of its paraphernalia should be preserved for posterity. We are not advocating the use of opium. Our appreciation lies in the unique design and aesthetic genius of opium paraphernalia, as well as the ritual that evolved around its preparation and ingestion. In no other addictive substance did man’s quest for mood-enhancement reach such artistic heights.

As we admire the accoutrement of vice (even as we abhor the vice itself), we might recall that, on this date in 1861, the Confederate States of America began selling postage stamps.

The 5 cent Jefferson Davis

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