Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

Odd Lots

  • Anger makes you stupid. Politics makes you angry. Do the math. (Thanks to Bob Trembley for the link.)
  • Running across George O. Smith’s books while redistributing titles on one of my shelves led me to look for the most powerful vacuum tube ever produced commercially. This was the understated Eimac 8974, which contains its own vacuum pump and could hurl out two million watts in Class C. QROOOOOOOOO! You can’t drive a truck into it, but you’ll need a truck to move it. And once you get it home, your first problem will be finding 600 amps to heat the filament.
  • Winter’s coming early to the West: We hit a record low here for this date yesterday night: 26 degrees. Two feet of snow fell in parts of the Dakotas, with some unofficial reports (like this one, in the appropriately named Deadwood, SD) of as much as four feet.
  • The Farmer’s Almanic is predicting a truly bitchy winter this year. (Note that this is not The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which is less sanguine.) We’ve noticed that the squirrels here are busting their nuts eating acorns, which is at least as good a predictor.
  • Speaking of brrrrrr: Recent research fingers the Llopango volcano in Ecuador as the triggering event of the severe global cooling of 535-536, which finished off the Western Empire via crop failures and the Plague of Justinian. It was a truly titanic eruption, hitting 6.9 on the Volcanic Explosivity Index and thus a peer of the gigapuissant Tambora. After that, well, there was nothing much to do except have the Dark Ages.
  • More scary robots. Four legs seems optimal for this sort of creature, which seems to be designed to carry cargo over bad terrain. It’s pretty clear to me that drones with machine guns make better manshunyoggers.
  • Most people don’t have a gut sense for what “ephemera” means, but if you want a sampling of the weirdest examples ever seen (as well as many cool and sometimes beautiful ones) prepare to spend some time on it. Don’t miss Part 2.
  • Which led me to Found in Mom’s Basement, a compendium of vintage ads. Some weird, some peculiar, some creepy, much Seventies. “Guess Whose Mother Used Downy?” Mort Drucker’s tampon ads. Read the archives!
  • How to deal with the highest of all high-class problems, albeit the one you’re least likely to face. (Thanks to Frank Glover for the link.)
  • One of the siller analyses I’ve seen recently. Then again, it may be the case that geeks are about culture and nerds are about ideas. I actually thought that nerds were what they called us in the Seventies and geeks are what they call us now.
  • From the Brutal Truth In Labeling Department. I’m in.


  1. Tom R. says:

    Good Odd Lots collection Jeff. I know you qualified the Elmac 8974 as the largest commercial vacuum tube, but there were stories I remember from my days in the Air Force back in the early 1970’s that the Over The Horizon (OTH) radars had something much bigger, but custom made for that function. Fortunately I never went to the places they were used so I couldn’t verify this!

    Thanks especially for the links on ephemera. My late wife collected such things as old post cards and other such stuff and I never knew what the collective term for it should be. I I don’t intentionally collect such things, but I have found old electronics catalogs in the shack going back to the 1960’s at least!

  2. Rich Rostrom says:

    That lottery payout analysis ignores two factors:

    1) The possibility of hyperinflation. With the Federal Reserve creating vast amounts of money, that seems like a real risk.

    2) The possibility that the government will default on the later payments. With the gigantic deficits and unfunded liabilities that exist, that seems like a real risk.

    Though with PowerBall/Megamillions, the payout is not from any one government. Hmm. Who holds the money for future payouts? Is that agency trustworthy? Who could loot it?

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