Horror, pure horror

And not even the good kind of horror.

Christmas eve, Shelly and I and her sweetie and his wife celebrated Christmas eve by seeing Sweeny Todd, the movie that shows that Johnny Depp is capable, when he chooses, of reaching very near to the pinnacle of creepiness set long ago by Christopher Walken. This is no small feat, for Christopher Walken is a creepy motherfucker.

That’s not the horror, though. Lots of people being killed very graphically, but that’s not the horror.

We didn’t look up the movie times,a nd as a result we spent over three hours chasing around from theater to theater, always arriving either two hours before the movie started or twenty minutes after it had begun. That’s not the horror, either.

Finally, we ended up spending a couple hours in a Barnes & Noble waiting for the last showing of the movie. That, too, is not the horror; indeed, there are many worse ways to spend several hours than in a book store. I even learned something while I was there1.

The horror is that we live in a world in which there is Dick Cheney slash fiction.

And it’s sold in the “literature” section of Barnes & Noble.

I don’t know what the book is called. I’ve blotted it from my memory. Shelly found it; it’s a collection of short stories, all erotica. And one of those short stories is… shudder… Dick Cheney slash. In a gun store.

In which Cheney gets sodomized.

I fear I will never recover.


1 I ended up picking up a book on helicopter design. Most of the book was way over my head; the math began on page 1, and the bulk of the book’s three inches in heft was calculus and fluid dynamics. One interesting tidbit, which did get lodged in my brain and will no doubt stay there forever, even though I can never quite seem to remember things like what street I live on, concerns autorotation.

If a helicopter’s engine fails, the helicopter can land safely using a principle called autorotation. The rotor blades are disengaged from the engine, so they can spin freely. As the helicopter falls, the air rushing past it causes the rotor blades to spin, generating lift and slowing the fall.

The neat bit of information, which is wildly non-intuitive but makes perfect sense when you stop to think about the physics involved, is that a light helicopter that is autorotating will fall much faster than a heavy helicopter.

The acceleration imparted by gravity is constant: 9.8m/sec2. Objects which are behaving ballistically always fall at the same speed regardless of their weight. However, a heavy object has more potential energy than a light object. As an object falls, this potential energy is converted to kinetic energy. A heavy helicopter has more potential energy than a light helicopter, so more energy is available to spin the rotor blades as it falls. Until you reach the point where the weight of the helicopter is so great that it overcomes the blades’ ability to generate lift, a heavy helicopter falls more slowly than a light helicopter, because it loses more energy per vertical foot of drop, and so there is more energy available to be turned into rotational energy in the blades (and hence lift), which slows its drop.

The book had about four pages of calculus to support this assertion, and it makes perfect sense from a conservation of energy perspective.

And man, that’s got to be the biggest and most irrelevant digression EVER.

66 thoughts on “Horror, pure horror

  1. but the key is… was Dick Cheney IN the falling helicopter? If he was, would you want it to auto-rotate or not? Would it make a difference if he had a 3-foot-long, 12-inch-radius rubber cock in his ass at the time?

  2. but the key is… was Dick Cheney IN the falling helicopter? If he was, would you want it to auto-rotate or not? Would it make a difference if he had a 3-foot-long, 12-inch-radius rubber cock in his ass at the time?

  3. The same thing happens with propeller airplane engines that fail; here, the effect is called “windmilling.” I go mad watching movies that show propellers coasting to a dead stop in flight; that’s just WRONG. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a classic example, but the atrocious physics displayed there is quickly overshadowed by the ridiculous “falling ten thousand feet in a rubber raft and landing safely in a river” scene.

    • Whether the propellor will windmill depends on the specifics of the engine failure and the mechanism by which it’s connected to the engine, I think.

      Back when I first moved to Tampa, I worked in a small design and graphics service bureau called Printgraphics. One day, a guy came in with a photograph he wanted to make into a poster. He’d been a WWII vet, a bombadier in a B-29 Superfortress (a four-engine prop-driven bomber). On the mission, they’d taken fire over wherever it was they were bombing, but were not shot down. They did lose an engine, and he took a photo from an antique Kodak camera out the window, where you could see the outboard propellor spinning and the inboard propellor stationary.

      The pic sticks in my mind partly because the owners of the business came in that weekend, cleaned the place out, emptied the bank accounts, and fled to Mexico to escape the company’s creditors. I found out about it when I went to work on Monday and my key no longer worked in the lock. A fellow employee and I spent the afternoon going through the dumpster; the owners had chucked everything that didn’t have immediate value, including the client files. I found the photo in one of the discarded files,a nd called the person who owned it–he was ecstatic to have it back.

      • You’re right Franklin. You noted yourself the heli pilot has to disconnect the engine for auto rotation to occur.
        Ditto for planes, there’s usually a gearing system in place that will stop the propeller from spinning in certain types of engine failure.

      • Yes, of course if the propellor jams it might not windmillโ€”should have been more specific, sorry. I was thinking mostly about engines that ran out of gas, like the ones in Temple of Doom.

  4. The same thing happens with propeller airplane engines that fail; here, the effect is called “windmilling.” I go mad watching movies that show propellers coasting to a dead stop in flight; that’s just WRONG. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is a classic example, but the atrocious physics displayed there is quickly overshadowed by the ridiculous “falling ten thousand feet in a rubber raft and landing safely in a river” scene.

  5. Whether the propellor will windmill depends on the specifics of the engine failure and the mechanism by which it’s connected to the engine, I think.

    Back when I first moved to Tampa, I worked in a small design and graphics service bureau called Printgraphics. One day, a guy came in with a photograph he wanted to make into a poster. He’d been a WWII vet, a bombadier in a B-29 Superfortress (a four-engine prop-driven bomber). On the mission, they’d taken fire over wherever it was they were bombing, but were not shot down. They did lose an engine, and he took a photo from an antique Kodak camera out the window, where you could see the outboard propellor spinning and the inboard propellor stationary.

    The pic sticks in my mind partly because the owners of the business came in that weekend, cleaned the place out, emptied the bank accounts, and fled to Mexico to escape the company’s creditors. I found out about it when I went to work on Monday and my key no longer worked in the lock. A fellow employee and I spent the afternoon going through the dumpster; the owners had chucked everything that didn’t have immediate value, including the client files. I found the photo in one of the discarded files,a nd called the person who owned it–he was ecstatic to have it back.

  6. > Christopher Walken is a creepy motherfucker.

    I recommend not seeing the remake of Hairspray, for a lot of reasons. One of them is that the combination of Christopher Walken and John Travolta (in a fat suit) as husband and wife will penetrate your brain like a hot dildo into Dick Cheney’s ass.

    I’ve mostly blocked it, but it took me a month.

  7. > Christopher Walken is a creepy motherfucker.

    I recommend not seeing the remake of Hairspray, for a lot of reasons. One of them is that the combination of Christopher Walken and John Travolta (in a fat suit) as husband and wife will penetrate your brain like a hot dildo into Dick Cheney’s ass.

    I’ve mostly blocked it, but it took me a month.

  8. Sadly, I’ve already seen it. And yes, you’re exactly right. I went into the movie not knowing what to expect, and hence defenseless. And ye gods, I will be scarred by that one for life, too.

  9. You’re right Franklin. You noted yourself the heli pilot has to disconnect the engine for auto rotation to occur.
    Ditto for planes, there’s usually a gearing system in place that will stop the propeller from spinning in certain types of engine failure.

  10. I learned about auto-rotation from a helicopter pilot classmate in college when I covered a story for the college paper about a helicopter that made an emergency rather than crash landing on our camput. Although there was some damage to the tail boom, my pilot friend made a point of explaining why although it looked bad, it was an exemplary demonstation of what to do in that situation.

    • Yep. And as it turns out, if the engine fails in a helicopter, it’s better to be really high than really low; it takes a while for the autorotation to generate lift, and if you’re too close to the ground, you fall down go boom.

      I was Googling the math behind autorotation yesterday and came across a patent application for a device that’s supposed to solve that problem. It uses a huge flywheel attached to the drive shaft to store rotational energy. The flywheel is connected by an overrunning clutch; the idea is that if the engine fails while the chopper is low to the ground, the flywheel will keep the blades spinning fast enough to allow safe autorotation down. Dunno if it’s ever been used in practice.

  11. I learned about auto-rotation from a helicopter pilot classmate in college when I covered a story for the college paper about a helicopter that made an emergency rather than crash landing on our camput. Although there was some damage to the tail boom, my pilot friend made a point of explaining why although it looked bad, it was an exemplary demonstation of what to do in that situation.

  12. I’m not sure I buy the heavier vs. lighter helicopter falling argument. Just as there is more PE available in the heavier helicopter, there is also more force required to impart the same acceleration: F=ma, after all.

    When it comes to falling, you have Fgravity = mhelicopter * agravity on one side, and you have Flift = mhelicopter * alift on the other. Sure, a heavier helicopter means more energy available to generate Flift, but that gets divided out by the mass of the helicopter when it comes to acceleration.

    About the only way I can see the argument working is if there’s a substantially different ratio of helicopter mass to rotational inertia in the blades. If the heavier helicopter has a higher such ratio, then the energy imparted by falling will spin the blades faster than if the ratio was lower. (At least, it seems like this would hold up to a point.)

    • Apparently, though, the lift generated by the blades does not decrease linearly as the mass of the helicopter decreases linearly. The total potential energy available goes down, but the amount of potential energy converted into rotational energy and then into lift goes down faster.

      The ratio of mass to generated lift never reaches 1:1; that is, even an infinitely heavy helicopter can not hover. But the lift generated doesn’t scale directly as the mass of the helicopter scales, either. The relationship between generated lift and mass is actually extraordinarily complex; the book I was reading showed a graph charting height vs. mass vs. generated lift during an autorotational descent, and it’s really, really complicated.

      Part of the issue is that because the angular velocity of the rotor blades is everywhere the same, the linear velocity of the blades varies widely, from very low near the hub to very high near the tips. At the hob, the rotor blades are generating no lift at all and are actually a source of drag, which works to slow the rotation of the blades. The usable lift comes primarily from the center and outward parts of the blades. At the center, the blades produce lift and also produce rotational energy; near the tips, the blades generate thrust that’s not perpendicular to the angle of descent, and also generate drag and turbulence, so the outer parts of the blades produce lift but also produce drag that tends to slow the speed of the blades.

      The width of the portion of the blades which generates usable lift varies directly with the mass of the helicopter. In a light helicopter, the portion of the blades providing usable lift is narrower than it is in a heavier helicopter, and the portion of the blades producing drag is wider, all other things being equal. (Things get even weirder if the helicopter is in forward motion while it’s autorotating, because the part of the blade generating usable lift changes depending on where the blade is with respect to the helicopter’s vector of motion.)

  13. I’m not sure I buy the heavier vs. lighter helicopter falling argument. Just as there is more PE available in the heavier helicopter, there is also more force required to impart the same acceleration: F=ma, after all.

    When it comes to falling, you have Fgravity = mhelicopter * agravity on one side, and you have Flift = mhelicopter * alift on the other. Sure, a heavier helicopter means more energy available to generate Flift, but that gets divided out by the mass of the helicopter when it comes to acceleration.

    About the only way I can see the argument working is if there’s a substantially different ratio of helicopter mass to rotational inertia in the blades. If the heavier helicopter has a higher such ratio, then the energy imparted by falling will spin the blades faster than if the ratio was lower. (At least, it seems like this would hold up to a point.)

  14. but who wouldn’t want Dick Cheney to get fucked in the ass, he had his part in the rest of the country getting it up their’s for the last 8 years.

    Was the movie any good? I was thinking about seeing it this weekend.

    • I’m in agreement with you here ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I went to see Sweeney Todd with Charlie (my ex-husband/daughter’s father/good friend/extended family) and my 15-year-old daughter, Kira, and we loved it . . . we’re all morbid and cynical, though, so we thought it was hysterical. LOVED the costuming, and the combination of Sexy Tormented Johnny and Sexy Evil Alan = much eye candy for the Ashbet, and much giggling by Kira because I kept saying “rowr!”

      — A ^_^

      • I have no doubt that Depp is Rawr-a-licious. I noticed in the commercials that there is a THICK streak of Jack Sparrow in his Sweeney Todd character.

        I would gladly wear panties that say “Mrs. Depp” if I could find them in my size again. He IS a hottie.

    • I can get behind sodomizing Cheney; it’s only fitting. I just dont want to be exposed to it, even in print. ๐Ÿ™‚

      The movie is…interesting. It’s a lot more gory than I expected, and there’s nary a single sympathetic character anywhere in sight, but it’s extremely well-done nonetheless. Im not sorry I saw it, though I doubt I’ll see it again.

  15. but who wouldn’t want Dick Cheney to get fucked in the ass, he had his part in the rest of the country getting it up their’s for the last 8 years.

    Was the movie any good? I was thinking about seeing it this weekend.

  16. I’m in agreement with you here ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I went to see Sweeney Todd with Charlie (my ex-husband/daughter’s father/good friend/extended family) and my 15-year-old daughter, Kira, and we loved it . . . we’re all morbid and cynical, though, so we thought it was hysterical. LOVED the costuming, and the combination of Sexy Tormented Johnny and Sexy Evil Alan = much eye candy for the Ashbet, and much giggling by Kira because I kept saying “rowr!”

    — A ^_^

  17. Funny, Christopher Walken is exactly who I was thinking of when I saw it … more specifically “Looks like we have someone to take over Christopher Walken’s position in creepy once he dies”.

    I liked the movie, but I like creepy and morbid Chris Walken/Tim Burton/etc.

    I thought it was sort of an Edward Scissorhands meets Jack Sparrow with a dash of the cop from Hell thrown in, all with a filter of creepy Christopher Walken on top.

  18. Funny, Christopher Walken is exactly who I was thinking of when I saw it … more specifically “Looks like we have someone to take over Christopher Walken’s position in creepy once he dies”.

    I liked the movie, but I like creepy and morbid Chris Walken/Tim Burton/etc.

    I thought it was sort of an Edward Scissorhands meets Jack Sparrow with a dash of the cop from Hell thrown in, all with a filter of creepy Christopher Walken on top.

  19. So I knew there was a law against threatening to kill the President. But I found myself wondering if the law prohibits threatening to sodomize the Vice President. Clearly you can write erotic fiction that refers to sodomizing the Vice President, since it exists, so I wondered where exactly that line was.

    Doing some reading, the law gives the Secret Service pretty broad latitude for any threat against the President or Vice President. So it wouldn’t surprise me if the author of that book and the publisher of that book got a visit from the Secret Service to check them out.

    It is not clear though, from the text of the law, how many times I can say “sodomoize” and “President” in a post before the NSA’s little search engine notices me. I can’t say as I routinely feel compelled to post about Presidential sodomy, so I’m not sure. I also wonder if it would be treated the same if it were from the perspective of a gay man who found the vice president attractive saying something to the effect of, “wow Cheney is hot, I’d totally want to make the beast with one back with him”. Arguably that person is a threat to themselves or others based on the mere concept that Cheney is “hot”, but different strokes I guess…

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go open a fresh bottle of brain bleach.

  20. So I knew there was a law against threatening to kill the President. But I found myself wondering if the law prohibits threatening to sodomize the Vice President. Clearly you can write erotic fiction that refers to sodomizing the Vice President, since it exists, so I wondered where exactly that line was.

    Doing some reading, the law gives the Secret Service pretty broad latitude for any threat against the President or Vice President. So it wouldn’t surprise me if the author of that book and the publisher of that book got a visit from the Secret Service to check them out.

    It is not clear though, from the text of the law, how many times I can say “sodomoize” and “President” in a post before the NSA’s little search engine notices me. I can’t say as I routinely feel compelled to post about Presidential sodomy, so I’m not sure. I also wonder if it would be treated the same if it were from the perspective of a gay man who found the vice president attractive saying something to the effect of, “wow Cheney is hot, I’d totally want to make the beast with one back with him”. Arguably that person is a threat to themselves or others based on the mere concept that Cheney is “hot”, but different strokes I guess…

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go open a fresh bottle of brain bleach.

  21. Your helicopter explanation, if I’m not mistaken, also explains gyrocopters (ie. The Road Warrior). Dad once told me those didn’t power the upper prop, just the pusher prop. The spinning upper provided lift just like a falling helicopter in neutral would.

  22. Your helicopter explanation, if I’m not mistaken, also explains gyrocopters (ie. The Road Warrior). Dad once told me those didn’t power the upper prop, just the pusher prop. The spinning upper provided lift just like a falling helicopter in neutral would.

  23. I have no doubt that Depp is Rawr-a-licious. I noticed in the commercials that there is a THICK streak of Jack Sparrow in his Sweeney Todd character.

    I would gladly wear panties that say “Mrs. Depp” if I could find them in my size again. He IS a hottie.

  24. Apparently, though, the lift generated by the blades does not decrease linearly as the mass of the helicopter decreases linearly. The total potential energy available goes down, but the amount of potential energy converted into rotational energy and then into lift goes down faster.

    The ratio of mass to generated lift never reaches 1:1; that is, even an infinitely heavy helicopter can not hover. But the lift generated doesn’t scale directly as the mass of the helicopter scales, either. The relationship between generated lift and mass is actually extraordinarily complex; the book I was reading showed a graph charting height vs. mass vs. generated lift during an autorotational descent, and it’s really, really complicated.

    Part of the issue is that because the angular velocity of the rotor blades is everywhere the same, the linear velocity of the blades varies widely, from very low near the hub to very high near the tips. At the hob, the rotor blades are generating no lift at all and are actually a source of drag, which works to slow the rotation of the blades. The usable lift comes primarily from the center and outward parts of the blades. At the center, the blades produce lift and also produce rotational energy; near the tips, the blades generate thrust that’s not perpendicular to the angle of descent, and also generate drag and turbulence, so the outer parts of the blades produce lift but also produce drag that tends to slow the speed of the blades.

    The width of the portion of the blades which generates usable lift varies directly with the mass of the helicopter. In a light helicopter, the portion of the blades providing usable lift is narrower than it is in a heavier helicopter, and the portion of the blades producing drag is wider, all other things being equal. (Things get even weirder if the helicopter is in forward motion while it’s autorotating, because the part of the blade generating usable lift changes depending on where the blade is with respect to the helicopter’s vector of motion.)

  25. the autorotation thing was on one of my calculus tests back in the day. wonderfully mad professor that wore goofy hats adorned with vector arrows, had certificates for being an orbital specialist for nasa, and fist chair violin in the london phil harmonic. thanks for the wonderful memory.

    did you say something else? ah, alas, it is blotted out of my mind with formulas. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • but that’s easy, or maybe I’ve forgotten more calculus than I thought.
        Couldn’t you just use the formula for a circle and do an integral? Maybe doing half a circle and doubling it would be easier.

        • Doing half the circle and doubling it is the easiest way to go. Then it’s just a question of using an integral to find the area under the curve, and doubling that. Unsurprisingly, the result of the integral simplifies to 1/2 (r2 times pi).

  26. the autorotation thing was on one of my calculus tests back in the day. wonderfully mad professor that wore goofy hats adorned with vector arrows, had certificates for being an orbital specialist for nasa, and fist chair violin in the london phil harmonic. thanks for the wonderful memory.

    did you say something else? ah, alas, it is blotted out of my mind with formulas. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  27. Yep. And as it turns out, if the engine fails in a helicopter, it’s better to be really high than really low; it takes a while for the autorotation to generate lift, and if you’re too close to the ground, you fall down go boom.

    I was Googling the math behind autorotation yesterday and came across a patent application for a device that’s supposed to solve that problem. It uses a huge flywheel attached to the drive shaft to store rotational energy. The flywheel is connected by an overrunning clutch; the idea is that if the engine fails while the chopper is low to the ground, the flywheel will keep the blades spinning fast enough to allow safe autorotation down. Dunno if it’s ever been used in practice.

  28. I can get behind sodomizing Cheney; it’s only fitting. I just dont want to be exposed to it, even in print. ๐Ÿ™‚

    The movie is…interesting. It’s a lot more gory than I expected, and there’s nary a single sympathetic character anywhere in sight, but it’s extremely well-done nonetheless. Im not sorry I saw it, though I doubt I’ll see it again.

  29. but that’s easy, or maybe I’ve forgotten more calculus than I thought.
    Couldn’t you just use the formula for a circle and do an integral? Maybe doing half a circle and doubling it would be easier.

  30. Doing half the circle and doubling it is the easiest way to go. Then it’s just a question of using an integral to find the area under the curve, and doubling that. Unsurprisingly, the result of the integral simplifies to 1/2 (r2 times pi).

  31. Yes, of course if the propellor jams it might not windmillโ€”should have been more specific, sorry. I was thinking mostly about engines that ran out of gas, like the ones in Temple of Doom.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.