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Apr 30 2012

El Rojo Latino

Las últimas décadas América Latina está en rojo vivo – parecería que a pesar de todos los esfuerzos de numerosos egresados de las Escuelas de Américas, el mundo sudamericano está dando vuelta por el lado socialista, y hasta comunista. Allende se caga de risa en el infierno, Pinochet llora tristemente en el paraíso. La parte más rica y avanzada de la población sudamericana siente  incertidumbre y angustia tras el descenso desde las alturas del desarrollo social capitalista, hacia la ciénaga comunista.

Pero no hay de qué preocuparse, queridos.

La única condición cual pudiese dar una chance a la izquierda Latina seria la existencia de la Unión Soviética, que ya no está hace unas cuantas décadas. Los chinos son el único estado comunista del planeta que funcione en serio, pero por la mentalidad suya no van a asomarse más de que sea necesario por su propio bien. Y este los chinos lo calculan a muy largo plazo, apenas reaccionando a los movimientos del día actual.

El mundo que describieron Marx y Engels en sus libros no existe hace más de cien años ya – y hasta en aquella época los únicos que tuvieron éxito aplicando al menos una parte de sus ideas fueron rusos. Los rusos! Cuyo país era un lugar menos probable para cualquier actividad proletaria, por falta de los proletarios mismos – comparando con la cantidad de campesinos que tenían.

Toda la locura de Trotsky u otros “genios” de la revolución roja fallo en sus intentos de repetir o extender el éxito ruso. Y el mundo Latinoamericano, tan campesino y subdesarrollado como Rusia misma, nunca llego ni cerca a establecer un poder comunista. Salvo en el caso de Cuba – cual en su momento fue simplemente una patada soviética en el culo yanqui.

Entonces, a ver, que tal terriblemente rojo tenemos desempeñándose en el continente sudamericano de nuestra época?

Chávez. Un loco admirable, muriendo de cáncer que lo agarro milagrosamente después de que fallaron otras maneras de eliminarlo físicamente. Ex militar, cristiano, bolivariano, patriota, simpatizante comunista, y una amenaza importante a la explotación extranjera de los recursos de su país. Rodeado por corruptos, admirado por inútiles, dependiendo de sus vecinos para mantenerse vivo, no llega a ningún lado – apenas muere, el quilombo político que hoy hierve, hará volar el tanque. Falta poco para que Venezuela volviese a su estado bananero común e histórico.

Evo. “Soy un negro, gordo, bruto y drogado tal como ustedes, mis hermanos!” Esa misma manera de conmover a la muchedumbre la pudimos ver hace poco en Rusia, con Yeltsin. Solo que su manera populista era de estar borracho, gritar y mear en público, ignorando visitas oficiales y ordenando operaciones militares al estar en pedo total. Nada de construir, el mutante ruso solo servía como la fachada para una manga de ladrones espantosos, que reventaron su país en pedazos. Al parecer, el boliviano no es nada más útil que su par ruso.

Brazuquinhas… Bueno, ahí ni siquiera hay nombres como para marcar la época. Fue Lula, ahora alguna mujer. Onda, desalojan las villas. Onda, hacen crecer la economía. Onda, son amigos con Chávez, Evo y Cristina. Se abrazan en público, y escupen uno a otro de espalda. Pero también cumplen con su rol de otro sub-sector industrial yanqui. Y no sé qué hacen con la población de las favelas desalojadas – aumentan la exportación de comida para perros? Están más organizados y persistentes que el resto del continente, eso sí, seguro – pero parece que desde que se fue Pedro (el primero en Brasil, y cuarto en Portugal), no se animan a ser independiente. Por ahí, lo hacen bien – pero para nada “rojo”.

Cristinita FitzGerald Kennedy. Una versión morocha de Evita como la ven en películas, una chica militante que va por jubilarse como la jefa del estado, contra cual peleaba toda su vida. Viuda de un genio político local, que logro integrar a una mezcla explosiva de chorros, piqueteros, unionistas, cartoneros, jueces y bancarios en un impresionante frente del poder nacional. Era un logro muy admirable, pero desafortunadamente, al fallecer el genio, cada franja del poder siguió arrastrando por su lado. Lo que antes se juntaba de manera centralizada y se distribuía internamente, ahora se reviente en pedazos y se agarre por quien lo puede agarrar.

En todo caso, mirando a esas imágenes desde altura de google maps – realmente les parece que hay una amenaza, o esperanza, del futuro comunista para América Latina? Ni siquiera socialista, señores – lo que está de moda ahí ahora es un populismo puro y claro, cubriendo la misma estructura política y social de siempre.

Populismo es populismo, e intereses particulares son intereses particulares. Hoy en día se hace más fácil volar a la clase media y fundar el poder en la clase baja – entonces eso se hace. Pero los pilares del “comunismo” realizado por los soviéticos, o chinos, no existen en el continente Latino. Ni están por aparecer.

Educación pública y gratuita hasta nivel académico? Solo en Cuba, y solo hasta que aguante el estado de Fidel. Industrialización de todos sectores, control, planificación y distribución centralizada de los bienes fundamentales para la supervivencia publica – como la base de la independencia económica? No existen. Finanzas de los líderes en moneda nacional, en los bancos nacionales? No están. Obligación de trabajar, acompañada con el derecho de tener el techo y pan? No hay. Exterminación de criminales y conversión forzada de los sobrevivientes en una fuerza laboral? Destruiría la misma fundación del capitalismo moderno.

Es muy simple llamar a alguien “comunista”, o “socialista”, o hablar de que un continente entero se está girando hacia la izquierda – pero en realidad, cualquier banderita que se pongan de frente los que mueven y controlan la máquina de procesos macroeconómicos, solo sirve para emocionar a la multitud que no controla nada, aunque pudiera romper mucho si este suelta.

Se puede decir que el petróleo está privatizándose para empujar la economía y hacer el pueblo más rico. O se puede decir que el petróleo está nacionalizándose para devolver la guita y hacer el pueblo más rico. Sigue siendo una mentira, porque en cada caso hay personas que ganan con cualquier movimiento – y la opinión pública sirve únicamente para ratificar los hechos, no controlarlos. Encima se maneja tan fácil… La gente cree en todo lo que escuchen por la tele, y si aparte de eso les tiran un huesito – se llenan de orgullo que su gobierno los respeta y ama.

La sociedad humana siempre se construye como una pirámide – simplemente porque solo mas proactivos llegan arriba, mientras que la mayoría se desploma hacia abajo. Se puede ajustar la estructura interna de esa pirámide, pintarla en diferentes colores, pero cualquier intento de remover a los que están arriba solo servirá para que otros ocupen su lugar. Las banderitas no importan un carajo – intereses personales y poder integral son las dos cosas que dominan la sociedad humana.

No se asustan con la Unión Soviética de América Latina. No existirá nunca. Por un lado, no se los van a permitir. Por otro, no lo van a alcanzar. La única chance ya fue, y fue hace mucho tiempo.


Apr 25 2012

Если бы Кунгуров был Сталиным

Если объяснить еще короче, то инстинкт самосохранения (присущий, как отдельному индивиду, так и обществу в целом) мобилизует народ на трудовой подвиг куда эффективнее, нежели алчность (инстинкт обладания). Поэтому меня совершенно не пугает Большой пиздец, которым обывателя стращают все, кому не лень, в том числе и я сам. Более того, я  считаю БП крайне полезным, потому что только в критической ситуации у социально, умственно и духовно гнилого рассиянского быдла может проснуться воля к жизни. Ну, а ежели пациент подохнет – так пускай лучше быстро, сил уже больше нет наблюдать окружающую срань.

(с) kungurov


Apr 24 2012

Flying a Merlin EZ

Almost a year ago I flew my first “taildragger” airplane, a homebuilt Merlin EZ. It was initially designed in Baldwin, Ontario, than the rights were sold to an American company, then a version with a different wing was sold back to Canada – now produced in Calgary by Blue Yonder Aviation.

I was barely 60 or 70 hours old as a pilot by that time, and my impressions were mostly emotional – I liked Merlin and was happy to tell how it feels to fly an experimental taildragger! Now with quite a bit more experience under my belt, I can compare it with a wider range of machines, and give a better account on its flying qualities.

When I first saw Merlin EZ, three things struck my mind: “Wow, it’s a so-called ultralight, but it looks big and heavy!” “Hey, it’s actually well built, doesn’t look flimsy at all – homebuilt quality is not worse than a certified airplane one…” “Hmm, the control stick is weird – a strange Y-shape, wouldn’t it be awkward to control an airplane with such thing?”

Getting inside Merlin was another awkward affair – you must grab some of the many steel tubes crisscrossing the cockpit area, then drag yourself up on the bench (there are no separate seats), pull the legs inside, and don’t forget to close the door before you click the seatbelts – otherwise you won’t be able to reach the door handle.

Sounds like a lot of hassle, though it is fairly common for the vintage and homebuilt airplanes – for those, being able to get in the air without falling apart is a task important enough to yield the comfort and ease of getting inside the machine. Besides, being able to quickly get out is way more important in case of crash and fire – and whatever difficult is the entry in the Merlin’s cockpit, exit is as easy as bailing out, which is good.

The airplane was equipped with a high-end fuel injected, computer controlled Rotax engine. Its operation is almost as easy as dealing with an electric motor – switch it on and move the throttle, that’s all it takes. Computer will take care about the mixture metering, provide an excellent power output and fuel economy. No carburetor – hence no carb ice to form and carb heat to be operated. The only drawback is a complete dependence on the electric power availability – one short circuit is all it takes to shut the engine down with no easy way to make it running again.

As soon as Merlin starts moving, it feels rock-solid and almost as easy to drive around as a tricycle plane. Visibility over the hood is just a tad bit less than in C150, control inputs are obvious, fat tires and bungee suspension deals easily with rolling over the raw terrain. Reasonably firm compensation is required to stop the swing if the tail starts swooshing around, and most taxiing is done without using the brakes. Crosswind inputs are not really needed – the airplane is short and stubby, squatting low and wide, so the wind has almost no effect on it while on the ground.

Take-off roll, though, is a different story! As soon as you apply the power, nose goes sideways in one strong movement. Try to pin it down to roll on the mains, overcompensate what feels like a tiny bit – and the machine will swing another way as fast and decisively. This short tail is wagging sideways so easy and with so few inertia, that it takes some effort and learning to get the machine rolling in a straight line on takeoffs.

On the positive side, thanks to the low and wide gear with big, soft wheels, you can keep on bouncing, popping in the air and plopping back, even hitting the bumps sideways without ground looping! Try to leap into ground effect crabbing, from one wheel – and Merlin will forgive you. Compared to the Piper Cub or Tiger Moth with their long tails, high and narrow wheelbase, Merlin is really an “EZ” to deal with taildragger.

Climbouts are uneventful – as soon as bobbing and bouncing stops, machine sits steady and firm in the air. No need to anticipate anything – just point it in a right direction and it will go there. If you pull the nose a bit higher, excess of power will not allow you to drain the airspeed quick enough to get surprised. Stall break is so gentle that you will be comfortable lowering the nose so no one will notice, if you’ve absent-mindedly slow down from 60 to 40.

In cruise, trim is working just fine – keep the horizon exactly in the middle of the windscreen, set the power to 5000 RPM and you will move forward at 75 MPH, steady and smooth. Acceleration and deceleration are not mind-blowing, and correspond to the overall performance of the aircraft – so there will be no surprises. Your hand can rest comfortably on that funny Y-shaped stick, and lightweight plastic prop will settle on the RPM required without unneeded spooling up or down, common for the heavy wooden or steel props.

Turns and banks may result being a thrilling experience for the seasoned Cessna or Piper drivers. Just move that stick to the left. Oops – where’s your nose going?! It actually swungs to the right immediately after the stick application, and does that so decidedly and quick that yoke-jockey will get puzzled and lost on a spot. Getting inverted response to the controls application is scary, and “dead feet” resting on the pedals without using them is making the things even more frustrating.

Merlin will really teach you about the adverse yaw – its full-span Junkers ailerons and short tail guarantee an impressive wiggling around on the slightest lateral move of the stick, or a power settings change. Meanwhile a rather small, but surprisingly effective rudder with no compensation will require a hefty push on the pedals to move it – and when it moves, the plane can be easily turned sideways!

However, despite the fat and square fuselage and powerful rudder, sideslips are less than impressive – the plane yaws a lot, but doesn’t sink at all. That’s not good, as even with a short and fat wing Merlin glides reasonably well (better than Cherokee, worse than C172). So if you are slightly higher and faster than needed on the approach, there will be no way to fix that and land shorter – you would buzz the runway, while hopelessly trying to extinguish the slightest excess of speed and altitude.

Merlin is not an aerobatic plane by any means – it rams the air up to around 80 MPH without any chance to go faster, despite any power applied. Pull the nose up with power on – and the plane will gently swoosh down after going below 35-40 MPH. No significant wing drop, no shaking, just a soft mush in slow motion. Flat horizontal surfaces are not particularly effective in exceeding the critical angle of attack and breaking the stall, they just can’t pull the nose up high enough – and the relatively fragile wings, with their single strut and foam-metal structure, twist easily and do not invite anything that feels like an accelerated stall.

If needed, you can turn rather tight – and there will be no tendency to lose the airspeed in a stealthy way after pulling on a stick, so common for the low-powered light airplanes. Merlin keeps on turning without tightening it up or losing the altitude, ever so easy and smooth except for the rudder work required. And when you’ll get accustomed to turn with your feet, while barely helping them with your hand, flying around would become easy and obvious.

On approach, the nose will drop quite significantly after removing the power – airflow over the wing pushes the tail down more than in Cessnas. Low cowl profile adds to the sensation of a pronounced nose drop, as soon as the plug is pulled off. If you raise the nose, elevators would only be able to do their job efficiently down to about 50 MPH – the slower you go the more stick will be needed to keep the nose up. And when you are slow enough – the plane will start sinking.

Combination of reasonably fast approach speed with pretty limited slow-speed handling makes Merlin EZ a non-STOL plane. Yes you can work out a 2000 feet runway in no wind without much trouble, but overall flying this machine requires more of a Cherokee mindset – nothing to do with expected Cub-like “feather” attitude.

So the typical landing sequence would be rolling out from the base at circuit altitude with cruise speed, slowing down to 70 MPH on final and waiting for the nose to start overlapping the runway numbers. Smoothly reduce the power, compensate for the adverse yaw, and pull the nose up till reaching 65-60 MPH. Visibility will be worse at 60, but 65 will eat up a good bit of additional distance while flaring.

Final is generally stable, crosswind compensations are simple and a wing-low method is the easiest – though crabbing works as well. Flare must be fairly decisive, if not aggressive – that’s where you’ll burn the remaining airspeed – and as soon as you are in the ground effect, wings will suddenly start to carry you on, fast! Keep on pulling all the way back until the stick hits the bench – this will give you a correct landing attitude with cruise trim setting. At that point Merlin may be floating a bit sideways, but be careful not to overcorrect with the rudder, reactions would be swift. Adverse yaw is also there, so aileron work should be as smart and careful.

It is possible to add power and drag the plane in the ground effect indefinitely at fast idle RPM. Nose will be high, stick almost all the way back, ground swooping fast and close, but nothing else going on. Not bad as a confidence builder or when learning the proper touchdown technique, but a clear signal that any excess of energy will float you way down the runway.

After the touchdown, Merlin may porpoise a little bit, because of the springy gear and short tail, but there will be no serious attempt to swap the ends. Even if you do land slightly drifting or crabbing, a measured rudder movement will straighten the developing swing – which makes things so much easier than in case of the machines with long and heavy tails, combined with narrow gear.

You can land even on the side of a hill, or humped runway – and that wide and low-squatted main gear will simply roll you on, banked at a scary angle – but again, without attempting the ground loop. Just keep the stick all the way back and work the rudder as required, maintaining the overall direction of the roll-out. No need to think too much about the crosswind aileron inputs, the wind can’t do anything to you.

Merlin does have brakes, but they are not really useful – except if you really want to swing the tail around fast, or stand on your nose. Otherwise, I keep my hand out of the brake handle till the very end of the roll-out. Shutdown is a simple as a start-up – flip the switch and you are done.

Overall if you ask me why Merlin never bypassed in popularity other decent homebuilts, let alone the Golden Age vintages, my guess would be – it happened because of that Cherokee-like handling. You expect a small and light airplane to fly like a Cub, but it is not doing that. Instead, you get a solid hauling capacity, stable and slow cruise, with rather fast and long landings, plus a hefty price tag. Apparently that’s not what most of the people want from this sort of planes, but I won’t say that it is a Merlin problem – it does what it’s designed to do, and does that well.

Another thought is that Merlin may be too forgiving for the “hardcore” taildragger training – it allows you to do lots of stupid things without giving even a hint of punishing attitude. Lowly Cub will show you right away when you are trying to do something wrong – and give you time to work on yourself and fix the problem. Merlin will simply hum its way, dealing with your ham fists and dead legs like that’s no biggie.

Modern homebuilts market is saturated with very nice machinery, and it is still perfectly possible to acquire something like Aeronca Champ for the same low price. In this world Merlin will have to stay humble – but I will caution from overlooking it! This little machine could be useful and fun to fly, besides a generally outstanding build quality and large trunk. You can go some nearby places, land in the seriously bumpy airstrips and go camping with all the stuff you can bring. Than push the throttle – and fly away from that weird place without being scared by the obstacles. You’ll just need a bit more place to land than may be expected, but if a 150 can land there – you would be able to do that as well. And you would also finish the roll without wiping out the landing gear – then take off and go home safely.