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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Death


The Guardian now is now keeping track of people killed by the police in the USA. Commercial news media thrives on this sort of thing, especially when there is any doubt about whether it was justified or not, and of course, there is always some doubt in someone's mind. For instance, if they killed me I would be absolutely certain it wasn't justified.
    A fair number of the people killed by police can be classified as 'suicide by cop'. It might be a sin to commit suicide, but significant number of people find life unbearable for one reason or another and choose to leave. So of them want to die without actually killing themselves, and suicide by cop is one alternative. All you need is a gun, most any sort will do, and the ability to act determined. The cops will take care of the rest.
    From the table above you can see that gun deaths are way down on the list. Homicide isn't even on the CDC's list of leading causes, I added it so we could compare. Note that almost half of the suicides are done with guns.
    And then there is 'Other', which kills more people than any other cause, and what are we doing about that?

Guardian link via Detroit Steve. Gun death numbers are from the Wikipedia page and are probably not for the same year as the CDC numbers. All other numbers are from the CDC, except 'Other', which was calculated.
   

Scary Coincidence?


The World Most Expensive Table $50,000 Expanding Table

A few days ago I was mentally idling along and I remembered this table. I didn't remember it exactly, I remember seeing this video or one very similar to it, and I'm trying to remember how the pieces of the top fit together. I pick up a pen and start sketching to see if I can figure out how it was done. I don't make much progress, and after a few minutes I put it aside.
    Today I open up the Numbrix puzzle page and there's an ad from Whole Mom with a thumbnail view of this video. Now I know Google is tracking everything I do, and the ads are tailored to my 'interests', but I am pretty sure I didn't look on the internet for this anytime in the last few days. So is Google now so far in cahoots with the NSA that they are reading my mind?

John Wick

A very silly, vary action-y movie starring Keeno Reeves in the title role. Yes, I know that's not how he spells his name, and yes, I know that's not how it's pronounced, but I can never remember the correct pronunciation, and besides, I kinda like saying 'keen-o'.
    The best part was spotting all the character actors we had seen in other shows, like . . .

Lance Reddick as The Continental hotel manager Charon, from The Wire.

Clarke Peters as Harry, also from The Wire. He only shows up briefly, most memorably in the hotel corridor in his underwear carrying a gun, you know, just in case.

Michael Nyqvist (right) as Viggo Tarasov and Alfie Allen as his son Iosef Tarasov. Michael Nyqvist we saw in the Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. We've been watching Alfie Allen playing the horribly tortured victim Reek on Game of Thrones.

Here we have Adrianne Palicki as the assassin Perkins. I don't actually remember seeing her before, but she has a memorable fight seen with Keeno in this movie. Plus she carries a gun, though she doesn't manage to hit anything with it. Bad quality in an assassin. Her expression here more than makes up for not holding a gun at the moment.
I don't know where they got the story for this movie, but I suspect a graphic novel. Or maybe they skipped that step. Our hero drives a succession of high performance cars. He starts with an old high-performance Mustang, similar to Eleanor from the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds. When that gets stolen he gets an early 1970's Chevelle Super Sport. I think that one gets trashed, so now he gets a new Dodge Charger. I think the Chrysler product placement team is working overtime these days. Chrysler products seem to be the choice of bad guys across the board in movieland.
    I understand how some people are still mentally locked into those aging muscle cars, but for me they are more like dinosaurs. Big, heavy, cumbersome and crude, that can be beaten six ways from Sunday by any number of modern cars. Probably not by a Civic, but certainly by a some versions of a Cadillac.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Solar System 2.0


Solar System 2.0 - the helical model, by DjSadhu

Very cool. Via Iaman. Some discussion here, if you are interested.

Adventure, Now with Photos

Hail by the side of the road
Saturday, June 20, 2015. We have arrived in SIoux City, Iowa, after three days on the road. Yesterday afternoon we ran into a thunderstorm on highway 212 in southeastern Montana. We saw lightning bolts for about a half an hour before the rain hit, and boy did it hit hard. I've been in downpours before, but nothing this strong. At times visibility dropped to 50 yards. When my speed dropped below 35 MPH I pulled over, it seemed kind of pointless to keep driving at such a slow speed. At times the rain turned to hail. It made so much noise we were afraid windows would break and the sheet metal would be trashed. There wasn't anything we could do. There was no cover of any sort, so we pushed on when we could. Being on a motorcycle would have been brutal.
    We were hoping we could get a room in Belle Fourche, so we could wait till the storm passed, but no such luck. No hotel rooms available anywhere in the area until we found a one at the Best Western in Rapid City, South Dakota, for $250, which I thought was highway robbery, but when you don't plan ahead you have to take what comes.


    Somewhere in central Montana yesterday we passed a pickup truck parked on the shoulder of the highway, engulfed in flames. He must have been carrying a flammable cargo. I can't imagine a truck by itself producing so much flames, heat and smoke.


    This morning heading east on Interstate 90 we saw four semi-trucks with their trailers lying on their sides in the median. All four had been westbound. Evidently the storm produced some high winds as well as rain and hail.  We also saw a grain silo that had been blown into the median and a bunch of highway signs that had been twisted into modern art.  News reports tell us that three tornados were sighted.

Fat Man Lifts Car

Me and the lever demo, Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Pull the rope down 3 feet and the car goes up a few inches.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Iowa

My wife and I got home Saturday night after ten days and 3600 miles on the road. We drove to Sioux City, Iowa to visit her father at the Holy Spirit retirement center. Usually when she goes, she flies, but this time she thought she might want to bring some stuff back, so we took her car, a 2006 Mitsubishi Endeavor.

Decker Truck on the way to Iowa.
   On the way there, not far out of Portland, I spotted a semi-truck from the Decker Trucking Company in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Fort Dodge is only about 20 miles from Rockwell City, my wife's home town. We used to fly into the small airport there. So right off the bat we know we're on the right road. We saw the same truck several times over the next couple of days. I'm pretty sure it was the same truck. We saw another one on the trip home. This one had a shinier trailer, and once again we saw it several times over the three days it took it us to get home.
    Eastern Washington is the most desolate looking place on Earth. Nothing but dry, brown scrub as far the eye can see. Once we got to Idaho things turned green. It was nice. Not much to see but grass and cows, but at least the grass was green. Much more pleasant than Eastern Washington.

Harleys parked in front of the Holiday Inn in Sioux City
    We got to Sioux City on Saturday evening, a week ago. There is major road construction going on downtown, so getting to the hotel required some wandering around. Just when we think we've got things sorted out we find our way blocked by the biggest gang of bikers you ever saw. News reports put the total at 25,000. I know we saw thousands of motorcycles parked in the street. Getting to the hotel required more deviations. Sioux City isn't that big, downtown is maybe ten blocks square, and our hotel and the biker party were both there. These weren't your regular bikers, they had filled the hotels. There were probably a hundred Harley's parked at the Holiday Inn where we were staying.

Sioux City, the morning after
    After the big biker brawl in Waco (Warning: CNN takes forever and a day to load, not as bad as some others) earlier this year, and seeing that Iowa does not require helmets, I was expecting a blood bath. I got up early the next morning to look for evidence, but the street cleaners beat me to it. All the evidence had been washed away.
    Rockwell City is still hanging on. Grandpa was selling his cars to the local dealer, so we paid him a visit to take care of business. I was surprised to see that he had a lot full of new cars for sale. There must have been a hundred, this in a town of maybe 1500 souls. He seems to be doing okay. Matter of fact, the whole area seems to be doing okay. I suspect things have consolidated some and now there is enough business to support the reduced population.

    We covered 3600 miles, burned 140 gallons of gas, which works out to about 25 miles per gallon, which is pretty durn good considering we were cruising at 80 MPH for most of the way. South Dakota had the highest speed limit at 80 MPH. Normally I set the cruise control to 10 MPH over the limit, but 90 was a little unsettling. The car handled it fine, but there was something in the back of my brain telling me we were in dangerous territory. There wasn't much traffic, but there were still occasional incidents of people not paying strict attention. Besides, the little computer display claimed our mileage had dropped to 15 MPG, the lowest I had ever seen it.
    The trip cost a little over two grand, hotels were almost half of that. We ate in 'nice' restaurants mostly, so our food (and beverage) bill was a little more than the gasoline. Premium gas (required by our high performance utility vehicle) averaged $3.29 a gallon, but we saw places where it was only $2.65. We only ran into one place that did not have premium, but there was another station a mile up the freeway that did, so it wasn't a problem.
     We saw a lot of Minervas. We ate at the one in Rapid City twice, and also at the one in Sioux Falls.