Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Sunday, January 22, 2017


McLaren road car at the McLaren Technology Center
Road & Track tells us about the pressure differential in the McLaren headquarters building that keeps the smell of food inside the cafeteria. Okay, I suppose you could do that, and it might be a good thing in a workplace, but having to go through an airlock to get your lunch . . . Whatever.

McLaren Can-Am Racecar circa 1970
When I was a teenager with a driver's license, my friends and I would go to the Mid-Ohio racetrack to watch the Can-Am / Group 7 cars race. In those days Jim Hall and his Chaparral and McLaren were the ones to watch. Their cars were built along the same lines as the Ford GT40, except without a roof. The important part, as far as I was concerned, was that they were all using big, 7 liter, all aluminum V-8 engines from Detroit. America, hoo-rah!

Bruce McLaren died on the racetrack in 1970. The company he founded has gone on and is something of a powerhouse in the high-performance automotive world.

Watching an episode of The Grand Tour a couple of weeks ago and they're talking about some exotic mobile, and Richard Hammond mentions that the people who buy these million-dollar go-fast toys have, on average, 64 other cars, which means they need a warehouse to keep them in and a staff to wrangle them (keep them clean and prepped and ready for the next time you want to take one for a spin). Or maybe you don't need a warehouse, you can just distribute them among your umpteen houses with their ten car garages. Whatever. You get the picture, we're talking the upper echelons of the one percenters here.

Now you might think that all this is a ridiculous waste of time and money, and from a pragmatic, go-to-work-and-save-your-pennies point of view, it is. On the other hand, all this activity employs a fair number of talented people, and most of their work is being done by hand, so they aren't putting their efforts into mass producing stuff that will put other producers out of work. It's really part of the entertainment industry, which in some respects is kind of like the defense industry: it absorbs a large chunk of money and produces very exotic stuff that no one really needs, but everyone wants, sort of. I mean it would be nice to have your own supersonic jet aircraft / race car, wouldn't it?

And just for grins, we have Tooned:

McLaren Tooned - Season 1 - Episode 1 - Wheel Nuts

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button are real-life race car drivers. Alexander Armstrong is an actor. Not often you see race-car drivers with speaking roles, or at least that's the way it used to be. I suppose with zillions of dollars at stake, you might invest a little effort in polishing their public personas. And make no mistake, zillions of dollars are at stake. McLaren was fined $100 million for some kind skullduggery. The company is private, so they don't have to tell anybody how much they are worth, but I suspect it is somewhere north of $2 billion.

Return of the Sun God

After Priggery – What? (On Wicked Journalists) by C.S. Lewis Doodle

Interesting. The problem here and now is that the entire information industry seems to have been infected with an agenda of some sort. Most do not rise to the level of Cleon, but the general, overall tone of many web sites and print media has a decided slant, and this slant, if you are not well versed in the subject, can be hard to detect. There is something wrong with our society. I am not quite sure what it is, but the pervasiveness of bullshit is just one symptom, and the election of Trump is a reaction to that symptom.  What we need is a new sun god, along the lines of Amenhotep, or FDR, though I suspect FDR has achieved his near mythological status by having a war with the devil himself and defeating him.

I originally wrote this as a comment on Monday Evening, but because I had managed to string more that half a dozen words together, I thought it worth posting here as well.

And yes, I know that Amenhotep is not the sun god Ra, but viewed from a distance of 4,000 years, you will excuse me if I don't care.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

House of Pythians

Hillsboro Grange
Stopped by a Mexican birthday party yesterday evening. It was being held in honor of somebody's 50th birthday. They had hired a hall (pictured above), which might be the Hillsboro Grange, and which possibly used to belong to the Pythians. The logo above the stage read H of P, which I take to mean the House of Pythians. The Pythians are like the oldest organized lodge in the USA, though they seem to be fading.

In any case there were only a few people there as it was still early. The band had set up on stage and while they weren't playing, they were pumping out recorded music at a very high volume. Or maybe I'm just old. We got a bite to eat, had a beer, talked to a few people, and then we pushed off.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Quote of the Day

Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma, attends the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, January 18, 2017 © Ruben Sprich / Reuters
“Over the past thirty years, the Americans had thirteen wars spending 40.2 trillion dollars,” said Ma, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos. - RT, formerly Russia Today
30 years only goes back to 1987. Have we really had thirteen wars? Wikipedia says yes:

  1. Tanker War
  2. Invasion of Panama
  3. Gulf War
  4. Somali Civil War
  5. Intervention in Haiti
  6. Bosnian War
  7. Kosovo War
  8. War in Afghanistan
  9. Iraq War
  10. War in North-West Pakistan
  11. 2011 military intervention in Libya
  12. War on ISIL (Operation Inherent Resolve)
  13. War in Afghanistan

I remember hearing about most of these, except the Tanker War, I don't remember that one. But most of them didn't rise to the level of 'war'. Sending jet aircraft to bomb Jihadist's armed with AK-47's doesn't really seem like a war. That kind of thing seems more like calling the exterminator to get rid of some vermin. But jet aircraft are very expensive to buy, operate and maintain, so for economic purposes, it fits the bill.

On the other hand, have all these wars done any good? We are trying to bring peace, prosperity and democracy to the poor and the oppressed, or at least I think that is what we are trying to do. Sometimes I think we are only running these operations to make the area safe for capitalist exploitation. But people are funny. Squeeze them hard enough and all their good qualities will disappear behind a shell of hostility and suspicion. Trying to liberate people who have retreated behind their armored shell is liable to provoke more hostility than open acceptance.

Via Detroit Steve


Wondermark - The Edge Case
Right or wrong, you will be the judge.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Fun with Linux

Older son slipped on the ice while crossing the street Saturday night. We've been blanketed with ice and snow for the last couple of weeks. This is very unusual for Portland. I only recall two other times when we have had significant snow in the 25 years we've been here.
    In any case, he slipped, fell and busted his ankle all to ****.  So now he is ensconced in the TV room, waiting for an opening in the OR so the surgeon can put the pieces back where they belong, instead of being randomly distributed like they are.
    Now my wife and I want to watch a show on Netflix, but we aren't going to inflict our choice of entertainment on someone from the next generation. Nothing is more likely to escalate into civil war with your kids than subjecting them to 'quality' entertainment. But we have computers, so we retire to my cave, fire up the newly resurrected Linux box, and

Hyperdrive Failure: The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

I fall back and punt with my Chromebook, it works fine.

But now I've got time, so I investigate and I find some 'helpful' advice, like 'enable DRM', which is found under Firefox Preferences:

Firefox Preferences

Huh, DRM on Linux. Clicked on Learn More and got this:

Watch DRM content on Firefox

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is technology that enables online video and audio services to enforce that the content they provide is used in accordance with their requirements. This technology may restrict some of the things you can do in the browser. While some DRM-controlled content can be viewed using the Microsoft Silverlight and Adobe Flash plugins, many services are moving towards HTML5 video that requires a different DRM mechanism called a Content Decryption Module (CDM).
Firefox on Windows supports HTML5 playback of DRM-controlled video and audio through the Adobe Primetime CDM. This CDM implements a DRM system called Adobe Primetime, which was previously available via the Adobe Flash plugin. Beginning in version 47, Firefox desktop also supports the Google Widevine CDM.
Firefox downloads and enables the Google Widevine CDM on demand, with user permission, to give users a smooth experience on sites that require DRM. The CDM runs in a separate container called a sandbox and you will be notified when a CDM is in use. You can also disable a CDM and opt out of future updates by following the steps below. Once you disable a CDM, however, sites using this type of DRM may not operate properly.
Some sites may use DRM that is not supported by the Google Widevine CDM. Support for viewing this content may require a third-party NPAPI plugin, such as Microsoft Silverlight.
I never would have expected the free software faction to allow DRM to darken their door, but things change.

Unfortunately, this does not fix the problem. Netflix suggests I use the Chrome browser, but when I try to install it, I get this:

Chrome wrong architecture message

One comment on the Linux Mint Forum suggest using the 32-bit version of Chrome, but I'm not sure it's even available (or where I would find it), and why should I need it anyway? I have a 64-bit system.

uname -a: i686
Sorry the images are so blurry. Print Screen with dual screens doesn't have the same resolution. Another problem to sort out.

So far in trying to sort out this problem I've dealt with four different outfits:
  • Linux Mint
  • Firefox
  • Netflix
  • Google Chrome
Welcome to the land beyond Jobs & Gates.

Update January 20, 2017 (the next day). I finally figured out that while I have a 64-bit processor, I was running a 32-bit version of Linux. Drug out another old disk and installed the 64-bit version of Linux Mint on it and now everything is hunky dory. Chrome installed and Netflix movies play. What I really needed was a small system status program that would tell me just what I have. There probably is one, somewhere, but I haven't run across it yet.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

In Order of Disappearance

Serbian Funeral.
Papa is operating the lift, and his henchmen are the pall bearers.
Telling you who is in the box would probably constitute a spoiler, so we won't do that.
In Order of Disappearance is the English title for this Norwegian crime thriller. Kraftidioten is the original title, which I suspect means 'the work of idiots' or 'idiots at work'. Google Translate is no help, it gives us some kind of nonsense, or else the English title of the movie.

IMDB tags it a 'black comedy', and it does have funny bits, though they are often grim. And there are some very odd scenes. Gangster singing on his way to a job is one that struck me. Mostly it's about people and how losing a child can unhinge anyone. Though if you are going to become unhinged, killing a bunch of bad guys is a good way to go.

We saw the star, Stellan Skarsgård (he looks much younger on IMDB than he does in this show), in the TV series River, and we liked that. Except for being Swedish, he might be the next Dirty Harry.

On Netflix