Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Pergelator

Silicon Forest

Monday, September 1, 2014

Exponential Hockey Stick


In boom times promoters talk about 'when the market (for their product) takes off' and how everyone is going to get rich because because when the market does hit, growth is going to go off the chart.

Reading about the pyramids and I came across the idea that people today aren't any smarter than they were five or ten thousand years ago. We may have exposure to some sophisticated ideas, and we may have more knowledge readily available to us now, but we aren't really any smarter.

Then there was the idea that when the Egyptians were building pyramids, they weren't just just piling up rocks, plenty of thought and planning went into them. And once they had a successful design, they didn't just stick with it. Their next design improved on the last one, adding new features and used new construction techniques. Admittedly their progress was not rapid. Building one pyramid was a life's work, but this civilization persisted for thousands of years, and over time it did change.

You look back to the formation of the earth several billion years ago. Current theory seems to be certain chemical elements can self-assemble into long chains. Mix them into a stew and incubate for a billion years and you might get some single cell organisms. Let that percolate for another billion years and you might get some creepy-crawlies. You get the idea.

Anyway the upshot of all this is that whenever you look at an exponential growth chart, it always looks like a hockey stick. No matter what your time scale is, if you expand the vertical scale so that the end point is distinguishable from the rest, the rest of it looks like a flat line.

The graph above doesn't look like a hockey stick because it uses a logarithmic scale for the vertical axis, which we developed to help us cope with things like this, which are basically incomprehensible. A cubic meter of water contains a million cc's. That is moderately comprehensible. But a million cubic meters? What the hell is that? Dump that much water on your house all at once and it would likely be squashed flat. No wonder the ancients built their houses out of stone.

Union Labor?

Israel in Egypt (1867) Edward Poynter. Oil on canvas, 54 x 125 inches. Click to embiggenate.

"In a period of twenty years, these four quarries would supply more than two million blocks of store to construct the Great Pyramid, on average more than 100,000 blocks a year. The men probably worked  a ten-hour day, which would mean that a completed block was quarried, transported, and pushed into place every three minutes - 365 days a year! One wonders which is more remarkable, the Great Pyramid's construction or the social organization needed to bring about that construction." - Bob Brier and Jean Pierre-Houdin in The Secret of the Great Pyramid.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Luther - Paradise Circus


Theme song from Luther by Massive Attack - Paradise Circus - Video by Valentine Petishkin

We've been watching Luther, the BBC copper drama starring Idris Elba. For Series 4 they seem to have upped the depravity, violence and inter-office strife. It's still a great show, Idris is the understated strong man. We've also got Sienna Guillory as Luther's new girlfriend Mary Day, and she is certainly good looking.
   Got to wondering this evening whether stars, like Idris, have real "star power" or whether the mannerisms of the star are scripted right down to the twitch of an eyelid. I mean, say you've got six characters in your show, and you've that many actors to play their roles. How do you decide who plays which role? Do you go by gut instinct, or feel? Or do you just randomly assign people to roles, and if they are good actors or actresses they simply play the role they have been assigned? Do we even call female actors actresses anymore, or is everyone an actor?

Houphouët-Boigny Bridge


I am reading The Secret of the Great Pyramid by Bob Brier and Jean-Pierre Houdin. Along about Chapter 7 they start talking about Henri Houdin, Jean-Pierre's father, and his career as a civil engineer building stuff in Africa, including this bridge back in the 1950's. (Google Map here.) It's kind of a cool bridge, being a double decker with trains running on the lower level inside of box girders and cars running on top. But I couldn't find much else about it, no construction photos, no explanation of ventilation for the trains (presumably diesel). On the map you can see there are train tracks leading up to both ends, so presumably it still handles rail traffic of some sort. I had a little more luck with name.
    The bridge is named for Félix Houphouët-Boigny, dictator for life of Ivory Coast from 1960 until his death in 1993. In 1990 UNESCO established the Félix Houphouët-Boigny Peace Prize, which is kind of weird until you read what happened in Ivory Coast since he died. 
    All of which brings us to today's Wizard of ID:


P.S. I want to call 'Ivory Coast' 'the Ivory Coast', probably because I'm a dead white European male and think of ivory as describing the coast, whereas in this case it is the proper name of the country. So if you are not talking about the country, you can say the ivory coast, but not if you are. Clear?

Shipping News

Diligent daughter wants an extra lock on her apartment door in Argentina. I thought I would send her fiance one of my extra drills to make installation easier. I mean it's cheaper than buying one, right? Ha. Not when you add shipping. There are probably lower rates that won't get it there by tomorrow, but being as it's Sunday, nobody is telling me what they are.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

This isn't the gun you are looking for, Part 2.

Ceci n'est pas une fusil.

Even though it shoots a rifle cartridge, it is not a rifle because it looks like a pistol, which means you can use it for hunting deer in Indiana. There was a gun shop in Rockwell City, Iowa for a while, and the owner had several similar items, that is, pistols that shot rifle cartridges. I thought it was kind of strange for the shop to be there since the town was so small, but I suppose the rent was cheap. I also thought the guns were a little odd, I mean why would you want something like this? But once you add in the bit about deer hunting it starts to make sense. Picture and caption stolen from View from the Porch.

Part 1 here, except stupid Blogger lost the picture.