Gun Production Up 140 Percent

ColtAR15There’s finally numbers to back up the old “Obama is the best gun salesmen” sayings. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) stated that gun production has increased 140% during the Obama presidency based on 2013 production numbers. The Hill reported that 4.5 million firearms were produced the year before President Obama took […]

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Gun Production Up 140 Percent

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You’ve Been Waiting For

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For

Lego has built its empire just like the interlocking bricks themselves, by connecting kids and adults, using pop-culture and mass appeal. On July 31st, A Lego Brickumentary will premiere. It’s the very first full-length documentary chronicling the powerful toy brand.

The film is narrated by a minifig voiced by Jason Bateman, who maintains a lively and chipper, Everything Is Awesome-type feel, which really resonates for fans. Beginning back in the 1930s when the company was first founded by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Kristiansen, the history of Lego is recreated through a series of stop-motion Lego scenes. It’s a pretty effective way to cover the major moments in the company’s history. The stop-motion scenes were also spliced with archival footage and photographs. By the 1950s the company was on a course for world domination, once it realized the formula of success lay in their revolutionary interlocking design, which meant the possibilities for building were virtually limitless. It is actually pretty awesome watching the history of Lego told through Lego stop-motion.

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For

However, it’s not all rainbows and minifigs. There have been plenty of issues that have popped up over the past few decades that shed light on the perpetuation of gender constructs, by launching sets aimed squarely at ‘girls’. In response, the film highlights Alice Finch, an AFOL (Adult Fans of Lego) known for her amazing builds. Unfortunately, Finch feels a bit like a token, and there are many, many women AFOLs out there the filmmakers could have reached out to or at least referenced more heavily. For instance, Mariann Asanuma was a Lego Master Model Designer until she branched out to become the world’s first and only female Freelance LEGO Artist.

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For

I would have liked just a bit more in-depth analysis of gender issues, since Lego clearly didn’t always have a gender problem.

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For

The filmmakers Daniel Junge and Kief Davidson come from a place of socially-conscious documentary filmmaking, and I was really hoping A Lego Brickumentary would go into more detail as to the social impact of Lego, from its use as a therapeutic method for autistic children and people suffering from PTSD, to the toy company’s reinforcement of gender stereotypes with sets such as the Lego ‘Friends’ series. As mentioned, these were only touched upon, which is a shame, because non-Lego fans will likely take the film as a very well-done infomercial.

Junge won the Oscar in 2012 with Saving Face, which exposed the horrible acid attacks against Pakistani women, and Davidson was nominated for an Oscar for Open Heart, about impoverished Rwandan children in need of open heart surgery. Don’t get me wrong, the film does cover child psychologists using Lego with autistic children, but I felt like it just touched the tip of the iceberg.

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For

For me, Lego has always been more than just a toy. Even when I was young. It was the first toy, and pretty much only toy for kids of the 80’s, that didn’t come prepackaged with a story. Sure, you had Lego Space sets and Lego Pirate sets, but the point was to build these sets and then make them your own, add your own narrative to them. Barbies, Transformers, G.I. Joes, all those Mattel and Hasbro toys fit a certain mold and didn’t require too much imagination, and certainly didn’t require creativity to build. Even Transformers, simply transformed from one thing to another. Mostly, you just recreated scenarios you saw on the shows that promoted the toys sets.

Lego is different from those other toys. Lego grows with you. That’s one of the more salient points the documentary makes and gets absolutely right. How many toys from childhood have the versatility and aesthetic appeal to grow with you?

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For

One thing to keep in mind with Lego, there are no rules or directions. Sure, you can following instructions for building a set, or you could just let your imagination run wild. This is nowhere more impressive than the AFOL crowd. Seeing what Master Builders and amateur super-fans can design and build can be truly inspiring. Not only are these mega-sculptures engineered impressively, but they also show that there’s an art to the build. The film highlights Nathan Sawaya, a Lego artist who uses the bricks to create three-dimensional sculptures.

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For

The film ends with the building of an almost life-size replica of a Star Wars X-wing fighter. What I wanted more of was the company’s comeback from near collapse in 2003. Critics of the brand at the time argued that the company was inundating the brick market with too many custom pieces and that the brand was getting diluted.

Some may criticize the documentary as being too niche, too focused on people who are already fans of the 80-year old toy brand. But, what the film does so well is use its charm to showcase just how diverse the toy company is in its appeal, spending a great deal of time exploring the evolution of Lego, from its humble beginnings as a wooden Danish toy, to the global enterprise that all but dominates the modern toy industry. I wouldn’t necessarily consider it one long infomercial for Lego. Would a documentary about ice cream make me want to run out to an ice cream shop? Hell yes.

While there may be a few bricks that don’t quite fit, I loved the film for what it was. I just wanted more.

Here’s where you can rent or purchase it on Amazon.

Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You've Been Waiting For


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via Gizmodo
Review: A Lego Brickumentary Is the Lego Doc You’ve Been Waiting For

3D Printed Ruger 10/22

Screen-Shot-2015-03-09-at-12.31.13-PM (1)3D Printing has come a long way in a short amount of time, it went from crude AR receivers to full SIG P250 frames. A while back we posted about a 3D printed Ruger 10/22 receiver video that made the rounds online, well PrintedFirearm posted a step-by-step article on making a 10/22 receiver to show […]

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3D Printed Ruger 10/22

Read This: USPTO’s New Examination Guidelines Subject Matter Eligibility Provide “Pathways to Eligibility”

By Dennis Crouch The Supreme Court’s decisions in Alice Corp v. CLS Bank and Mayo v. Prometheus serve as dramatic turning points in the conventional wisdom of subject matter eligibility.  Inventions that were previously thought to be patent eligible are no longer; and we continue to re-calibrate toward this new normal. The USPTO has found some amount of understandable difficulty in implementing the […]
via Patently-O » Patent
Read This: USPTO’s New Examination Guidelines Subject Matter Eligibility Provide “Pathways to Eligibility”

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

The dawn of the jet age saw the skies near major airports raked with thick black smoke trails. These exhaust plumes have largely disappeared from our atmosphere due to continuous jet engine innovations. Here is the story of the jet engine’s amazing change in visual and ecological signature since its introduction into service almost 75 years ago.

Jet engines are one of the most transformative technologies of the last century. They’ve accelerated the pace of transportation beyond anything previous and even enabled change in modern culture and society. But not all jet engines are created equal.

Some, particularly in older aircraft, are known to produce much more visible exhaust than others. Whether you’re more concerned with the progression of technology or the protection of the environment, it is interesting to see what has changed since jet-powered aircraft first took to the skies.

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

Very special thank you to Jacob O’Neal for granting permission to use his jet engine Animagraffs in this post. Please visit his site at: www.animagraffs.com

The visible part of a jet engine’s exhaust is the result of highly compressed air, very high temperatures, combusted fuel and in some extreme cases where smoke is particularly thick, water injected into the mixture. Here are the reasons why many older jet engines are known to make more inky, acrid smoke, especially on takeoff, than newer models.

Turbojets, Turbofans and Bypass

The first type of jet engine to enter widespread commercial use was the turbojet, which didn’t incorporate bypass into its design. Bypass, at its essence, it is air that is directed around the engine core. By their nature, no air is bypassing the turbojet engine—it all enters the system.

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

A turbojet is essentially the engine core of a turbofan. The turbojet consists of a compressor stage in which air is squeezed together and made more dense, before being rammed into the combustor stage. Once there, the dense air is combined with fuel and ignited. This combustion creates the force that spins the turbine at the rear of the core.

So, with turbojets, all of the air is sent through the compressor. There is no bypass at all. Got it? Now let’s look at turbofans.

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

The difference between bypass turbofans and turbojets is that some air, as the name suggests, bypasses the turbofan engine’s core (also called the hot section, because that is where the combustion is happening).

In a low bypass turbofan design, there is less space between the engine core inlet and the exterior of the engine shroud than in a high bypass turbofan. This allows the low bypass turbofans to fit into a smaller physical package, which is ideal for small combat aircraft, but their design isn’t as efficient as high bypass models.

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

B-52 Stratofortress in flight

Low bypass emerged before high bypass and is still commonly used today in military aircraft because of desirable characteristics including the aforementioned compact packaging, the ability to use afterburners, the ability to operate at supersonic speeds and having a higher power to weight ratio.

The U.S. Air Force maintains the relatively inefficient and notoriously smoky low bypass turbofans in the B-52H bomber at great expense, despite many proposals to re-engine the fleet with upgraded high bypass turbofans. The B-52 is expected to remain in service with the USAF for several more decades.http://ift.tt/1DTKYxt…

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

NATO E-3A Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft, based on the Boeing 707

The venerable Boeing 707 has been fitted with turbojets, low bypass turbofan and high bypass turbofan engines throughout its history. The 707 first flew in 1957 and was Boeing’s first ever jet-powered airliner. Over 1,000 examples in various commercial and military variants (including the E-3A Sentry AWACS and KC-135 Stratotanker) were built over the course of the next three decades, many of which are still in service today.

A turbofan’s bypass ratio is expressed numerically, as in the Pratt & Whitney JT3D (first flight tested in 1959) low bypass turbofan which has a bypass ratio of 1.42:1. By comparison, a modern Pratt & Whitney PW4000 high bypass turbofan, which has seen use in a variety of modern airliners including the Airbus A330, Boeing 747 and Boeing 777, has a bypass ratio of 5.3:1. The higher number means (5.3 vs 1.42) indicates that the ratio of air bypassing the engine core is higher.

In addition to billowing lots of black smoke, turbojets and low bypass turbofans can also be fitted with an afterburner to create an even more violent combustion of superheated air and fuel.

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

Afterburners are fitted downstream of the engine core and reheat the exhaust gases by dumping fuel into the exhaust stream. This consumes fuel very quickly, which is why afterburners are usually found on aircraft capable of supersonic flight.

Notably, some advanced aircraft are able to achieve supersonic flight without the use of afterburner. This is called supercruise, and is a known capability of the USAF F-22A Raptor air superiority stealth fighter. It is also very likely to be a capability of the Russian T-50/PAK-FA 5th generation stealth fighter. Other aircraft with supercruise ability include the Eurofighter EF2000 and Saab JS-39E/F Gripen under certain conditions.http://ift.tt/1h9ac6l…

Water Injection

Low bypass engines aren’t as efficient as high bypass engines, but water injection is the technology that is most responsible for the seemingly-eerie pictures of older airplanes riding black columns of smoke into the sky.

Water injection in aircraft works on the same principle as water injection systems work on turbocharged automotive engines (hi, Jalops). The idea in turbojets and turbofans is to cool down the engine core by spraying de-mineralized water into the incoming charged air. This has the effect of cooling the entire engine core and adding mass to the exhaust, thereby increasing thrust.

Because the engine core is cooled by the injected water, the combustion chambers aren’t able to burn all of the fuel and water mixture, so some particles of the fuel and water are vented out the engine, which materializes in the form of the characteristic black smoke.

Water injection systems are typically used to produce extra thrust at takeoff. Once airborne, the water injection systems are then switched off for the remainder of the flight.

The B-52 Stratofortress has developed a reputation for its smoky takeoffs and climbouts. The legendary bomber originally featured eight water injected J57 turbojets but the H model (which is still in service today) received the upgraded TF33 low bypass turbofans, which is the military variant of the Pratt & Whitney JT3D powerplant also found in some 707’s. The TF33 is also used in the C-141 Starlifter, a Cold War-era USAF cargo airplane.

Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

A Harrier making a smoky turn near Portland, Oregon in 2009

The Harrier jump jet, which has vertical take off and landing (VTOL) capability, uses water injection in its Rolls-Royce Pegasus engines to increase performance during takeoff. Harriers can carry up to 50 gallons of distilled water, which is enough for approximately 90 seconds of water injected into the combustion chamber.
http://ift.tt/1DTL1t2…

The video below shows water injected B-52 bombers conducing a Minimum Interval Take Off (MITO) drill. The display is certainly impressive, but the amount of black smoke produced in the exercise is truly a sight to behold.

While water injected engines in new aircraft generally fell out of favor years ago, the technology still seems to hold promise in some circles. As recently as two years ago, General Electric was considering a water injection system for their GE9X high bypass turbofan for the Boeing 777X. Further, a 2004 paper by researchers from NASA, Boeing and Rolls Royce found that:

“[Water injection] emissions reduction technology could reduce takeoff NOx emissions more than 50% and has the possibility to reduce the operating cost of the aircraft. The minimal aircraft system weight and performance penalties should be more than offset by improved engine hot section life benefits. Water injection would best be used only during takeoff and a portion of climbout. This would be a worthwhile procedure for aircraft operating at less than maximum takeoff gross weight (i.e. less than 100% passenger load factor.)“

So, low bypass turbofans and water injection are the biggest reasons why older jet engines tend to make more visible smoke than newer jet engines. Of course, there are always other reasons why any jet engine, old or new, could be producing visible smoke. Dirty fuel injectors, or any other part involved in the combustion phase in the engine core could potentially offset the efficiency of the rest of the machine and cause a more smoky output.

Even though modern airplanes with high bypass turbofan engines still release large amounts of carbon emissions into the atmosphere, they don’t smoke in the the sky like earlier jet engines did (and still do). Jet engine technology has come a long way in reducing visible atmospheric pollution, and while the takeoff pictures aren’t as dramatic without the trails of smoldering soot, we are much better stewards of the environment because of it.

Photo credit: Top shot KC-135 with J57 engines and water injection – USAF/Wikicommons, E-3 AWACS in flight – Matthias Rietschel/AP, B-52 in flight – Tyler Rogoway, Harrier in flight – Tyler Rogoway, All Animagraffs by Jacob O’Neal

Follow the author on Twitter: @collinkrum

via Gizmodo
Why Were Old Jet Engines So Much More Smoky Than Newer Ones?

Judge Bars Anti-Abortion Group From Releasing Video… Raising Serious First Amendment Questions

What is it with judges and prior restraint lately? A judge in a Los Angeles Superior Court has issued a temporary restraining order blocking an anti-abortion group from releasing a video. And, yes, obviously, anything involving abortion is going to be controversial, no matter what your stance on the issue is — and this also involves the same group that made plenty of headlines recently over some other videos involving Planned Parenthood. I’m hoping that folks here will pay attention to the First Amendment issue, rather than get into any sort of ideological argument over the parties involved or their campaigns because you’re not going to convince anyone, no matter what side you’re on, and you’re likely to just piss everyone else off — so leave those debates for other sites please.

Instead, the real question here is whether or not a court can actually do this. As per usual, Popehat has a good post detailing why this is most likely unconstitutional prior restraint, but might not be. Kinda. Sorta. Barely.

You can read the filing for the restraining order (h/t to Adam Steinbaugh who dug out the complaint), which comes from a life sciences company named StemExpress, and makes all sorts of claims, which can basically be summed up as "we thought our conversations were private!" And you can read the actual temporary restraining order, which is much more limited than what StemExpress requests.

It appears the crux of the argument is (1) that California is a two party consent state for recordings (which is stupid, but that’s another issue for another day) and (2) the representatives for the faux company who were actually a part of this group that set up the meeting signed a non-disclosure agreement. The first part probably doesn’t much matter for the question of the restraining order (it absolutely could lead to other legal issues and problems for the group that made the recording), as it’s still a form of prior restraint. The second issue, however, is at least a bit more compelling because one could make an argument that the group that made the recording proactively waived their First Amendment rights in signing that agreement — and thus the court was effectively enforcing the agreement that the parties had agreed to themselves.

Still, as Popehat notes, there is woefully little discussion of the First Amendment/prior restraint questions:

Remarkably, StemExpress’ TRO application contains no prior restraint analysis whatsoever. Its sole concession to the First Amendment is an argument that (1) this isn’t a First Amendment violation because it’s an illegal recording, and (2) it’s not a First Amendment violation because the defendants are free to speak or write about what happened at the meeting, they just can’t release the recording. We don’t have a transcript of the hearing, and we don’t know what other arguments the court may have considered, but this is troubling.

In my opinion, StemExpress could have made a decent argument if it had focused on the apparent fact that CMP signed nondisclosure agreements and then violated them. First Amendment rights are broad, but can be deliberately waived. That’s why confidentiality and nondisclosure agreements are often enforceable. While the state of the law isn’t perfectly clear, there’s a colorable argument that threatened breach of a nondisclosure agreement may be a basis for prior restraint if the underlying confidentiality interest is strong enough. It’s not a bulletproof argument, but it’s much better than ignoring the prior restraint issue entirely.

In sum: if the court based the prior restraint on a violation of California’s secret-recording law, I think it probably violates the First Amendment. But the order might be sustainable because CMP engaged in the dubious practice of signing a pledge of confidentiality with the intent of breaking it.

Of course, Popehat also notes that if the group already gave the video to someone else — such as a journalist — the court can’t block that group from releasing it, as that is definitely prior restraint.

In short, chances are that this video is going to get out no matter what eventually — and to some extent, this lawsuit and request for a restraining order is only likely to draw more attention to the whole thing in the first place (and the fact that StemExpress doesn’t want it to come out).

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via Techdirt.
Judge Bars Anti-Abortion Group From Releasing Video… Raising Serious First Amendment Questions

Windows 10 Uses Your Bandwidth to Distribute Updates, Disable It Here

Windows 10 Uses Your Bandwidth to Distribute Updates, Disable It Here

Every time Microsoft releases a new version of Windows, its servers get slammed. To help alleviate this burden, Windows 10 can download updates from other users’ computers. The problem is, it can use up your bandwidth and data caps to do so. Here’s how to turn it off.

This new distribution method works a lot like torrents do. Everyone has Windows 10 on their machine, so each person seeds a little bit of the files to those who need it, distributing the load across multiple computers and helping everyone download updates quickly. This is a great feature for those who have no data cap and want fast updates. The problem is, many ISPs have some form of data cap. This can potentially use up your allotment of data without you even realizing it’s happened. To turn it off, follow these steps:

  1. Search for “Check for updates” in the Start menu.
  2. Under “Windows Update” choose “Advanced options.”
  3. Under “Choose how updates are installed” click “Choose how updates are delivered.”
  4. Disable the toggle under “Updated from more than one place.”

This will prevent your computer from being used as a peer-to-peer server in distributing updates. Of course, the downside is that it also prevents you from receiving updates from other users, so you’re stuck with the possibly slower Microsoft servers. Whenever the next update rolls around, it may be worth turning this back on. Just watch your data usage when you do.

Windows 10 steals your bandwidth to send other people updates | The Next Web


via Lifehacker
Windows 10 Uses Your Bandwidth to Distribute Updates, Disable It Here

Batman’s Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

The recent Suicide Squad footage gave us a glimpse of Batman’s cameo in the film—but there’s even more to it than we realized. A new interview with Batman v Superman director Zack Snyder and his collaborators has revealed a lot more about how these films will connect up.

Snyder and company spoke to Empire Magazine (which is where you get the photo above, these, and some new ones below) about the entirety of the DC movie universe, how the films link up, how they’re being constructed, and specifics about multiple story points in Batman v Superman. Here are the highlights.

Minor spoilers follow.

  • Batman is the one who personally captured every single member of the Suicide Squad and in the trailer, we’re seeing a flashback to how he captured Harley Quinn. (No mention if he gets the Joker, too.)
  • Justice League was the jumping off point for this whole DC universe idea. “What we are doing is ground up all the way. It is one giant story,” Snyder said. “The first thing we had was the Justice League concept. The other movies, in a way, have to support that. That is our Wonder Woman, our Aquaman. They have their own creative concepts that supports them, but they do serve Justice League in the coming together of those heroes. I want all the other directors of the other films to be able to stretch their legs and do what they want, but at the same time there is a big interconnected universe. I have given everyone amazing access to our story, to me, and what we are doing. All the films have like-minded conceptual jumping on points.”
  • Batman will have a lot of history to him. “We are playing him 45 or 46” years old, Snyder said. “He has been Batman for 20 years. All the history is there. Was there a Robin at one time? Possibly. We want to assume that Batman has reached this point in his life and career as a superhero, and Superman represents a sort of philosophical change. He is a paradigm shift for Batman: ‘I’ve been fighting criminals all my life, trying to find justice, and now I am confronted with a concept that is transcendent to me.’ In the face of Superman, a man robbing a bank doesn’t matter. He’s having a crisis of conscience. ‘Am I really just a vigilante who stalks the alleys of Gotham?’ It is rich stuff that he deals with. Ben does an amazing job.”
  • The Batman v Superman trailer already reveals that Robin has died, but this interview strongly suggests Commissioner James Gordon will also already be dead. This would confirm a rumor that surfaced several months back.
  • To some, Batman may be considered the villain of Batman v Superman: “It’s a point of view thing,” said Snyder. “That is why ‘Dawn of Justice’ is the full title. What it does is allow us to start this conversation.”
  • Bruce Wayne will not be living in Wayne Manor in Batman v Superman. He’s in a lakeside house called “The Glasshouse.”
  • Snyder was very intimidated at the thought of doing a Batman solo film. “If it was a Batman movie it would be a much more difficult proposition because of how good Chris’ movies are,” said Snyder. “We live in gratitude to those movies. Chris set a tone for the DC Universe, and separated us from Marvel in a great way. We are the legacy of those movies.”
  • Clark Kent and Lois Lane are now “shacking up” together in Metropolis.
  • Aquaman has an “elusive cameo” in Batman v Superman. “You will understand he exists,” Snyder said.

Lots of information, some of which might help you make sense of all these new photos:

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

Batman's Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought

[Empire, H/T Superhero Hype]

via Gizmodo
Batman’s Role in Suicide Squad is Even More Crucial Than We Thought