Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Pergelator

Silicon Forest

Thursday, September 21, 2017

North Korea

North Korea Missile Tests, so far this year
Seems like we've been hearing about North Korean missile tests forever. This website has got records that go back to 1984, which is 33 years ago. So North Korea has been doing this for a while, and they've launched a bunch of missiles. They used to be kind of a joke, their missiles blew up on the launch pad more often than not, and when they did get off the ground, they didn't go very far. In 1998 they launched one that went over Japan, and some people started paying attention.

North Korea, according to most of the rest of world, is seriously screwed up. But then I got to thinking.

We've been watching Ertugrul on Netflix, a soap opera about some 13th Century Turkish nomads (we're up to episode 30). The current story line has them migrating to some land that was granted them by the Emir Al Aziz of Aleppo. The Emir reneged on his promise, based on some rumors started by the evil Templars. So now our tribe is kind of in a jam. The Mongols pushing in from the East have forced them into country so barren that their livestock were starving to death. The Emir granted them a section of good land. It would be great except that it is between Aleppo and the Templars, so there is going be a constant state of conflict, but hey, they've got swords and they know how to use them. But now the Emir has revoked his grant and is threatening to exterminate the whole tribe if they don't pack up and move. Well, we just got here, we're not in the mood for moving, and you granted us this land, you can't be going back on your word, you lousy Indian giver.

In any case, they are prepared to fight the Emir's army, even though they are outnumbered ten to one. It may mean the death of their tribe, but at least they'll go down fighting.

Translate this viewpoint to North Korea and you can see how they could view themselves as the victims in the game of global domination. Okay, you would also need to be ignorant of the actual state of the world, but who are you going to believe? Western Imperialist Running Dog news services, or your faithful leader? And is it any different that what we have here? The news is like 99% garbage, and the 1% that might be of real concern is so fractured with competing spins it is really hard to tell what is true. Fortunately we have our own faithful leader. Which one is more trustworthy? Kim or Donald?

Missile website via Detroit Steve.

Spelling Numbers

Algebraic Numbers
Here because it's kind of a cool picture and it's number related.
Someone noticed that the letter A is not used in writing out the names of any numbers until you get to one thousand, which got me to thinking. Near as I can tell, the letters C, J, K, P and Y are not used in the names of any numbers. A few letters don't get used until you get to some big numbers.


Zero is in the list because everybody starts with one so nobody notices it.  Zero is also the only number that uses the letter Z, except for zillion which is not really a number even though I treat it like one.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Boney M. - Rasputin (Remix - Shuffle Dance)


Boney M. - Rasputin (Remix - Shuffle Dance)

I'm running a YouTube playlist in the background while I am playing solitaire and this tune comes on. It has some middle eastern sounds, and since we've been watching Ertugrul I find them enjoyable. So here we are. Dancing girls are a bonus. The tune is from 1979. I wasn't impressed with the original.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Reelin

Crystallographic structure of the reelin protein based on the PDB: 2DDU​ coordinates. Boghog
Reelin is a complicated chemical found floating around in your body. Near as I can tell, it has some influence over the central nervous system. I got onto this from a Reddit link to a Wikipedia passage about schizophrenia, one of my least favorite diseases.

I'm not very good at chemistry. Oh, I understand the basics well enough, water is made of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, but once you get past the basics there is an endless profusion of chemical compounds and I quickly become lost. It's almost like the English language, you can stick words, or atoms, together in a limitless number of ways. If you use it every day, those combinations will become familiar to you, like the books you have read. But if you don't immerse yourself in this sea of arcane knowledge it will always be gibberish.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Plymouth Switcher


Plymouth Model BL locomotive - From rough to restored...

Looking at compact model train layouts, thinking maybe I need a mining railroad, lots of turns and hills and bridges and stuff. Tight turns require small locos, like this compact switching engine, which is how I stumbled over this video. The reason it is here though, is because it uses an infinitely variable mechanical transmission / clutch to transmit power to the wheels. It has two large wheels, one which is driven by the engine, and the other, driven, wheel is positioned at 90 degrees and mounted on a movable shaft. The engineer employs a hand crank to slide the driven wheel left or right along its shaft. By doing so, he selects the speed and direction of the locomotive. He then uses the large control lever to force the driven wheel against the driving wheel. It is not a perfect arrangement, there is going to be some slippage due to the geometry of the contact point, but with enough force it can evidently be made to work. I have heard of these kind of transmissions before, but the only place I can recall hearing them used was in the old mechanical artillery computers used on battleships in WW2 (start at the 8:55).

Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad Museum had this engine, but there is no more recent mention of it on their webpage.

What's that you say?


Amazon Echo - SNL

I don't know if our memory is failing, or we just have more important things to think about, but the fact that we occasionally experience incidents like this is what makes it so funny.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Citibank

Falls Park, Sioux Falls, South Dakota
I've been going round and round with Citibank about a missing credit card statement. I only noticed it was missing when they turned off the card ( again!). I tried calling them to tell them I hadn't gotten a statement and would they send me another one, but they wanted to me to play their version of 20 questions, and I have no patience for that shit. Why do they need to verify that I am who I say I am? I don't want any information, I just want them to send me my statement. Their inability to fulfill this simple request is emblematic of what is wrong with America. This is why Trump won the election. People are tired of all the unnecessary bullshit that has been creeping into our lives for the last umpteen years. Okay, maybe you aren't, but I am.

So I wrote them a letter. It's an easy thing to do once you have all the pieces in place. They eventually sent me a statement, but it was the wrong one. We are now on our fourth go round, and they still haven't gotten it right.

Now I'm wondering why Citibank is having such a hard time with something that should never have been a problem in the first place*, and I'm thinking it's people problem. Could it be that the people in charge of answering letters are so overworked that they are not really paying attention to what they are doing? Or maybe they hate their manager and hate their job or they just don't care. As long as they send something back, they are doing their job and no one can fault them for sending the wrong thing. I can hear their excuses from 1500 miles away: 'I sent the right thing, the customer is an idiot.' 

What does this credit-card service center / hell hole looks like. I start with Citibank headquarters in New York City, but then I snap and realize my correspondence is with their outpost in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and what we've got there is a bunch of big box warehouse like structures that look like big box warehouses you find anywhere. But then I stumble across some pictures of Falls Park, which looks like a pretty cool place (especially in winter).

St. Louis Gateway Arch
I address my latest missive and I realize that the credit card service center is in St. Louis, Missouri. So where did I get the idea that it was in Sioux Falls? Oh, I have two different Citibank cards, one straight from Citibank and one from Costco. The Costco service center is in St. Louis, the other is in Sioux Falls.

*which reminds me of the old saw that a problem that shouldn't be a problem can't be fixed.

P.S. How was it that Citibank established a service center in South Dakota of all places? The Sioux Falls Argus has the story, as does Marketplace. Almost restores your faith in the financial establishment. Not.