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Tag: wings

Tilting at windmills in Montana

Try as I might, I couldn’t figure out what these long tubes I kept passing on Interstate 94 in Montana were.

Airplane wings? Some new form of irrigation equipment? Space shuttle components? Pieces of some secret governmental weapon?

I was tilting at windmills.

Which is what they turned out to be — windmill blades, to be precise.

I found that out later at a truck stop in Rocker, just west of of Butte, where several of the oversized loads, having just negotiated the winding stretch of interstate on Butte’s eastern side, had pulled over for a rest.

According to the Associated Press, the explosive growth of the wind energy industry has led to dozens of trucks a day toting the blades down the nation’s Interstate highways to their new homes, mostly in the west.

Commonly traveling in convoys, the oversized loads haven’t caused too many problems. They’re not any wider than a normal truck, but they are longer — much longer. Some of the blades extend 180 feet, about triple the length of regular semitrailer loads.

That means it takes about three times as long to get around them, but considering the clean, renewable, independent energy they will go on to supply, I’m a fan.

Krupa hoopla: Catholics irked by PETA ad

peta_joanna-krupaCatholics are cross with Joanna Krupa, the Playboy cover girl and “Dancing with the Stars” competitor whose latest ad for PETA features her wearing nothing but angel wings and a crucifix.

Krupa unveiled the new  “Be an Angel for Animals” PETA campaign at a protest this week outside Barkworks, a Los Angeles pet store that sells puppies.

The campaign, which urges people to adopt dogs rather than buy them, was quick to draw criticism from Catholic leaders.

“The fact is that cats and dogs are a lot safer in pet stores than they are in the hands of PETA employees,” Catholic League President Bill Donohue said in a statement. “Moreover, pet stores don’t rip off Christian iconography and engage in cheap irreligious claims. PETA is a fraud.”

“It’s totally inappropriate,” said Deal Hudson, publisher of InsideCatholic.com. “It’s another instance of disrespect toward Christianity and another example of the kind of abuse that would never occur with any other major religion, because the outcry would be so immediate and so loud that the people behind it would immediately retreat.”

Krupa, herself a Catholic, responded that she’s just doing what the church should be doing — and by that, we’re pretty sure she meant fighting for defenseless animals as opposed to shedding clothing.

“As a practicing Catholic, I am shocked that the Catholic League is speaking out against my PETA ads, which I am very proud of,” the New York Daily News quoted her as saying.

“I’m doing what the Catholic Church should be doing, working to stop senseless suffering of animals, the most defenseless of god’s creation. I am a voice for innocent animals who are being neglected and dumped by the millions at shelters. In my heart I know that Jesus would never condone the suffering that results when dogs and cats are allowed to breed.”

Flight of the bumble bee

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Smooth as it may look — especially when one’s zooming toward your head — the flight of the bumble bee is actually an awkward affair.

In fact, it’s surprising they even get off the ground.

According to a report in the journal “Experiments in Fluids” (in case you didn’t get your copy this month), an Oxford University study observed bumble bees in free flight within a smoke-filled wind tunnel, and found them to be “surprisingly inefficient.”

“Aerodynamically-speaking it’s as if the insect is ‘split in half’ as not only do its left and right wings flap independently but the airflow around them never joins up to help it slip through the air more easily,” the study leader said in a statement.

Most flying insects and birds rely on aerodynamic forces, but, with the bumble bee, it’s a matter of brute force — augmented, researchers say, by their diet of energy-rich nectar.