Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Monday, February 29, 2016

Horseshoes

Portland Policeman on Monty
Our walk back from lunch last Thursday took up through Elizabeth Caruthers Park where we encountered three mounted policeman hanging out and chatting with the citizenry. Standing about six feet away I could easily read Monty's name on the little brass tag hanging from his halter. Blow it up as much as I can and it still isn't legible. So there are limits to what a camera can do.


The horses were all wearing what looked like rubber overshoes. New to me.

Fingerprints

USCIS
1455 NW Overton Street, Portland, Oregon
Paid a visit to the US Citizenship & Immigration Service this morning. Walk in the front door and you are confronted with the security desk. Only people with business there and maybe a friend or relative or two are allowed in, and only after you go through security screening, which is very similar to what you find at the airport. The one significant difference is that if the guard on duty does not judge your shoes to be a threat you don't have to take them off. You don't find personal service like that at the airport.
    Just like the airport you aren't allowed to bring in weapons like jackknives or even penknives. I took our knives back to the car. When I got back to the entrance there is another guard on duty who wants to know my business. Fortunately the guy who was manning the desk when I first showed up was still there and recognized me and let me in. Osmany was the only one with business, so technically they didn't have to let me in. Like I said, personal service makes a difference.
    Inside it is pretty bare bones: a lobby with several closed doors, stairs heading up to a waiting room, and an open doorway leading to room with some chairs and people. Apparently this is where the action is. Osmany is getting his fingerprints taken, and they aren't your simple press-all-your-fingers-at-once kind. The lady roles each one of his fingers and thumbs through an angle of maybe 120 degrees. They make really wide prints.

Jerry Hall

Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall at the Golden Globe awards this month. Photograph: John Shearer/Getty
Jerry Hall got engaged to Rupert Murdoch last month. Wait, what? Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger's main squeeze? The gorgeous super model? Yes, that Jerry Hall. Got engaged to Rupert, the villainous media kingpin? He's still alive? I supposed we would have heard if he died. So Jerry split with Mick back in '99, and everybody gets older, even super-models.

Jerry Hall with son Gabriel by Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair, 1992
The weirdest thing about Jerry is that she was with Mick for almost 20 years. Don't expect that kind of longevity from A-list celebrities. Recently there's been a minor kerfuffle over women breast-feeding in public. Jerry was out there 24 years ago.

Meanwhile, in Iran

Iranian Women
From the U.S. Office of Public Policy, Washington Weekly, Under the Dome: The Week in Review, February 26, 2016:
If you think the U.S. elections are flawed, consider the Iranian Parliamentary elections being held today. The elections are specifically for the Parliament and the "Assembly of Experts." Another group called the "Guardian Council" disqualified almost two-thirds of the 800 candidates—including all or most of the candidates committed to government reforms—for reasons undisclosed. The culling of candidates will serve to ensure that the hardliners in Iran continue their domination of the Parliament. The next time a friend complains about having choices like Trump, Clinton, Sanders and Cruz, keep the Iran example in mind.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Quote of the Day

Columbia-Gravely Snowblower
California Bob comments on Michigan Mike's Gravely Tractor Upgrade:
It is focus and determination like this that makes the world a better place. Our washing machines, dishwashers, cars, not to mention antibiotics etc., came from endless hours of obsessive work. That's not to say the originators necessarily benefit, themselves. Probably not a lot of correlation between usefulness of invention, and benefit to inventor. After all, the most useful items are antibiotics, clean water, power...but people have gotten wealthy off of fabric softeners and TV shows, and worse.

Process Plates


Los Angeles Process Plates and Coronation

No story or even sound here, just the view from a car driving around Southern California in the 1950's. Lots of old cars and small houses to be seen. Oh, and some kind of pageant in the middle. 'Process Plate' was an unknown term for me. I finally got a clue from Roger Corman's book How I Made a Hundred Movies in Hollywood and Never Lost a Dime:


Note about the excerpt from Roger's book: It took a couple of steps to get this. The text originally spanned two pages, and I didn't want a page break in the center, so I took steps. I started by taking a screenshot and then cropping the two sections of text it into two separate images. Load one image into Pixlr Express, use the Adjustment button, Add image to add the second section of text and then Crop once more to get the final size.

Via Posthip Scott.


Slow West

Jay Cavendish (Kodi Smit-McPhee, left) & Silas Selleck (Michael Fassbender, right)
Slow West is not a great movie, kind of slow, and the main character is a bit of a dolt. He's a kid, so that's to be expected, but it makes you wonder how he managed to survive long enough to make it into this movie. The movie is set in the American West in 1870. Jay is in pursuit of his girlfriend. She and her father are wanted for the murder of a Scottish lord, which is why they fled to America, never mind that it was an accident, they were peons and as such, they were supposed to stand there and take what's coming to them, which is whatever his lordship decides (the lord is dead, long live the lord).
    So anyway there is a price on their heads, which makes me wonder a bunch of stuff. Like was that even legal, offering a bounty in another country? And how would you collect the reward? Who would you collect it from? And what were the odds you would be able to find the guy who is supposed to pay? And how would you prove they were dead? i.e. how would you prove that the two dead bodies you have are the right ones? If you are dealing with American outlaws, they would be known to people and someone would recognize them. But furriners, pretending to be somebody else? That's a different kettle of fish.
    There are a bunch of good / cool / interesting things in this movie, some of which seldom show up in Westerns. But they are kind of like a pile of bricks. Each one is a solid thing, and they are kind of laid out in a line, but the story is weak and it is not really enough to pull it all together.

Veruschka

Veruschka and some ominous black dude in Casino Royale (2006)
Veruschka is something of a character. Back in the 60's she was a super-model and had a part in the movie Blow-Up. She was born a veritable princess, but shortly thereafter her life turned to shit:
Veruschka was born Vera Gottliebe Anna Gräfin von Lehndorff-Steinort on 14 May 1939, in KönigsbergEast Prussia, now known as Kaliningrad, Russia. She grew up at Steinort, an estate in East Prussia, which had been in her family for centuries. Her mother was Countess Gottliebe von Kalnein (b. 1913). Her father, Heinrich Graf von Lehndorff-Steinort, was a German count and army reserve officer who became a key member of the German Resistance, reportedly after witnessing Jewish children being beaten and killed. When Veruschka was five years old, her father was executed for allegedly attempting to assassinate Adolf Hitler in the July 20 Plot. After his death, the remaining family members spent their times in labor camps until the end of World War II. By the end of the war, her family was left homeless. - Wikipedia
The July 20 Plot was the basis for the 2008 movie Valkyrie with Tom Cruise.

Veruschka: Transfigurations
In 1986 she collaborated on Veruschka: Transfigurations, a book about body paint, which is how she got on my radar.

Via LMF.

OHSU Tram

OHSU Tram approaching (or is it leaving?) the upper terminal.
Spent some time wandering around OHSU a couple of days ago. It's a very weird place, full of winding halls and secret labs. Okay, maybe not secret, but secure, authorized-personnel-only kind of places. We walked into Jackson Hall on the ground floor, took a walkway over to the main hospital and had to go down six flights of stairs to get to the cafeteria, which was on the third floor. It's a very weird place, and the tram is one of the weirdest things there. 

 
OHSU Aerial Tram Upper Terminal
The OHSU Tram is a huge, in-your-face, mechanical engineering / construction project. Conceptually simple, we have a couple of cars hanging from wires that get sent back and forth from the bottom of the hill to the top.
    The actually mechanics are a little more complex. It has has two cable cars, each with their own pair of support cables. They share a single drive cable. When one is going up, the other is going down. The up and down portions of the drive cable are separated by about 30 feet. Inside the terminal both sections of the drive cable go over large wheels and disappear into the floor. Where do they go from there? The simplest solution would be for the incoming cable to down through the floor, around a very large wheel and then up through the floor again before making a 90 degree turn over the regular large wheel and heading back down. But where is that very large wheel? It's not open to the public, why would they want to see it? It's just nasty old machinery after all.
     I spent an hour walking around, looking at stuff, and I couldn't quite sort it out in my mind just how all this stuff fit together. The crazy angles and elevations don't make it any easier. But now that I see this picture I think it's fairly obvious that the very large wheel is there and it is inside the yellow-green box.
    The top end terminal is essentially an idler pulley, all the drive machinery is at the bottom end. Since the bottom station is at ground level, and the drive cable there disappears into the floor as well, I surmise that the drive motors are in a concrete pit, especially excavated for this project.
    I don't know what the red box is for. I think the architects just wanted it there.

The street in this picture is a moderately steep hill. We are looking downhill. You will notice that to the left of the yellow-green box there is a concrete column. It contains a stairway and an elevator. There is also a walkway stuck on the side of it that connects to this road. Walking up this hill in the bike lane, we came upon this, and since the tram is a powerful attraction, we summoned the elevator, and lo and behold, it came. I wonder if anyone else ever uses that entrance?

A different view of the mysterious red and yellow-green boxes, taken from the walkway mentioned above.

Cable stuff at the upper terminal.
The spools of wire in the left center of the picture are the ends of the support cables for one car. You can see the bottom edges of the spools for the other car in the upper left. The drive cable goes over the two large, yellow, spoked wheels. The closer one is obscured by a grate in the upper right corner of the image. The other is hiding behind a pole just to the right of the far    support cable spool. The closer drive cable cuts through the center of the picture from top to bottom. The upper half of this segment goes through a black tube about six feet long. I think it might be a speedometer, though how it works I haven't a clue. The drive cable on the far side is partially visible as a thin black line in the bottom center of this photo.

The tram was designed by Angelil/Graham/Pfenninger/Scholl and built by Doppelmayr CTEC. Williams & Dame negotiated the deal.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Brain Paint

Body Artist: Emma Allen  / Photographer: Andre Ainsworth
I Love Body Art has a bunch of photos of body painting taken under black light. I thought this one was kind of clever. Via Indiana Thomas.

Bloody Commute

Cars flowing along highways
Driving around town yesterday I was musing how cars flowing along highways were a lot like blood cells flowing through blood vessels, except cars all have specific destinations and blood cells are just uncaring particles being born along in the stream. But what if they are not? 

Blood cells flowing through blood vessels
Maybe each blood cell has a specific destination in the body where it is to deliver its oxygen molecule and a specific source in the lungs where it picks up that oxygen? I mean blood cells are complicated enough that they could easily contain a couple of encoded addresses. Making use of that information, being able to control its path, and recognizing its destination are all a bit more complex, but who really knows what blood cells are thinking?

The Incredibles
Blood cells are complex creatures, there are zillions of chemical reactions going on all the time. It's not too hard to imagine the daddy blood cell leaving home in the morning for his commute to the lungs to pick up his daily supply of oxygen and then ferrying it back home to his wife and chilluns.

Pic of the Day

Update October 2016 replaced missing photo.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Wily Students Restricted!

Wiley Student Edition Restricted!
My copy of Introduction to Solid State Physics arrived a week or so ago with this notice on the cover.

Note: Wily means full of wiles, Wiley is the name of the publisher. I pronounce both of them the same way.

Clever Graph


Clever graph, or maybe just different. I don't think I've ever seen a graph drawn like this before. What we have here are the results of a black and white polling question, either you are for Britain staying in the EU (European Union), or you are in favor of leaving. No middle ground, no neutral viewpoints, no beating are the bush, you are either fur it or agin it. You could draw this graph with just one line, but someone decided to draw it with two. Note that the blue and yellow lines are mirror images of each other, symmetrical around the 50% level. Well, the two lines are mostly symmetrical except for at the very end. What happened there? In any case, I think it provides a better picture of the situation than a single line would.

As to Britain and the EU, I haven't a clue, though thanks to endless years of hearing about the glory of Britain and how everyone on the continent is some kind of sociopath, I'm inclined to be in favor of whatever's better for Britain. I'm sure they will sort it out eventually.

The chart is from a story in The Telegraph, linked by The Z Blog.

New Albany, Part 2

Small Building in New Albany
Looking at an aerial view of New Albany I thought I would try and find the store that my dad built back in the 60's. I identified a suspect and sent out an email. Michigan Mike replied that you can use Google Street View to look at the front of the building (doh!), and sure enough that's the place.

Old windmill tower barely visible through the trees.
He also pointed out that there is an old windmill that is barely visible through the trees. He remembers there was one nearby and so for him, this confirms the location. I pulled up Street View and after some searching I found it. It's right in the center of the above picture. Notice the straight, vertical line, and the bird head shaped blob at the top. I never would have noticed it if he hadn't told me and given me some clues where to look. I mean, I do not have any memory of ever seeing this thing, so I am very surprised that Mike does.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

New Albany, Ohio

Building on the Abercrombie & Fitch world headquarters campus, New Albany, Ohio
When I was in high school my dad decided that he wanted to be a farmer so he bought an apple orchard. He wanted to sell the apples he grew, so bought a lot near New Albany and put up a small store. Back in the late 60's New Albany was nothing. A crossroads with perhaps a gas station. Abercrombie & Fitch crossed my radar a few years ago and I discovered that they had built a new world headquarters campus and distribution center in, of all places, New Albany, Ohio. I was shocked. I had a real hard time with the idea that anyone would voluntarily build anything in such an out of the way place, a place with bitter cold winters and stinking hot and humid summers. I guess economics, central heating and central air conditioning make anything possible.

Abercrombie & Fitch world headquarters & distribution center, New Albany, Ohio
This view is about 0.9 miles across and 1.1 miles top to bottom.
The headquarters buildings are the irregular jumble of light gray building in the center. The distribution warehouses are at the bottom center and right. The sprawl of thick gray lines at the top center are parking lots. They hold about a zillion cars.

Inspired by a post from Comrade Misfit.

Update the next day. Iaman sent me a link to a related story in The New Yorker from 2013.

Car of the Day

1932 Jean Bugatti with the Bugatti Royale ‘Esders’ Roadster

the Portland Mercury

Dinosaur Comic # 2944
Went to Pill Hill this morning, took the tram to the South Waterfront, had lunch at Bambuza Vietnam Kitchen. Picked up a free copy of the Portland Mercury, which is full of good stuff, like ONE DAY at a time by Ann Romano, and this bit on the Love NOTES page:
TOOTH OR CONSEQUENCES RE: "Officials Removed Fluoride from the Water in Calgary, Canada... and Guess What Happened?" [Blogtown, Feb 18], in which Wm. Steven Humphrey pointed out that since Calgary took fluoride out of its water in 2011, that city's children have had an average of "3.8 more cavities, extractions, and fillings." While Humphrey's post brought Portland's anti-fluoride science-phobes back out of the woodwork, we aren't going to print their comments.

As a dentist who graduated 40 years ago and has practiced in both a fluoridated city (Chicago, fluoridated since 1956), and non-fluoridated Portland, there is a definite difference on a community-wide basis.
Interesting facts in the defeat of the fluoridation vote back in May 2013: The Westside precincts (except out on rural Skyline Road) voted "yes" for fluoridation, and the higher socioeconomic status (SES) precincts on the Eastside—Grant Park, parts of Irvington, Alameda, Laurelhurst, and Eastmoreland—all voted "yes" too.
It was the lower SES communities—those that would have benefited from fluoridation—that voted "no." Those east of SE 82nd voted 80 percent against.
With only 42 percent of registered voters casting ballots in the election, there were 251,000 voters who did not weigh in on fluoridation.
The headquarters building on NE Sandy for the pro-fluoridation side is now a cannabis shop. The fluoride lovers have been replaced by the THC chemical lovers. BTW: No one who has consumed fluoridated water at the optimal level of 0.7 ppm has ever overdosed from fluoride. Can't say that for those consuming an edible chocolate.
posted by Kurt Ferre

Obviously fluoride isn't harmful. They want us to argue about it so that we don't talk about chemtrails.
posted by The Immortal Goon
And the Dinosaur Comic. Don't forget the Dinosaur Comic.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Milky Way

Carlos F Turienzo, 10 July 2015, A Veiga, Spain. Image was assembled from eight separate photos.

Vincent Frascello, Hooker Valley, Aoraki / Mount Cook National Park, South Island of New Zealand.

Well, I didn't see that one coming.

A good sized meteor hit the Earth on February 6, 2016. It landed 600 miles east of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. By the time it reached the ocean it was too small to cause any trouble. The problem is that no one saw it coming.
    But we have an extensive paparazzi, maybe someone caught it on camera. Let's see what Google can find.

San Clemente Pier FireballAms Event #2989-2915 caught over the Clemente, CA Pier 2015-11-03 19:50 PST © Lisa Speakman
Nope, that's not it.

Fireball captured on February 6, 2016, at Leibniz-Institute of Atmospheric Physics e.V. at the University Rostock © Gerd Baumgarten – Possibly AMS Event#489-2016
This one is the right date, but the wrong hemisphere.

Meteor over Horseshoe Park, CO – Dec 13th 2015 © Bryce Bradford
Nope.

Fireball over Martin Lake, Minnesota – September 12, 2014 © J. Ericson
So, meteors everyday, all the time. Keeping an eye on them is problematic, especially if we can't even see them coming.
All photos from American Meteor Society.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Little Culture Before Bed


Fusion Fighters Presents: Fusion Orchestra

Absolutely fabulous. Turn up the volume. What would it be like to have shoes like that? And have a different colored pair every day of the week? And spend all your time dancing? Via Bayou Renaissance Man.

Liquid Cooling for Smart Phones

Liquid Cooling plate for Smart Phone. It is about four inches long by two inches wide by one millimeter thick. The top of the scale and the bright spot in the picture is about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It's not solid, it's full of tiny tunnels filled with liquid and gas.
If whatever kind of machine your have is running so hot that you need to take steps to keep it cool, it just means your machine is not very efficient, energy wise. Automobile engines, for instance, in spite of all the recent advances in fuel economy, are still only able to covert about one third of the energy available in a gallon of gasoline into useful motion. The rest of it gets turned into heat. About half of that waste heat gets sent out the exhaust pipe. The rest is why you have a radiator, water pump, hoses and all the bits that go with them. And anti-freeze, don't forget the antifreeze.
    Microprocessors are amazing devices. They consume electricity and turn it into smart. And heat. If your processor isn't very complex, say it has only a million gates, and is only running at one billion cycles a second, the amount of heat it generates might make it a little warm, but it's not going to get hot. Take a more complex processor, one with, say, a zillion gates and run it at several gigahertz, and it's going to get hot, maybe even hot enough to make trouble.
     Chip manufacturers have been able to partially mitigate this by reducing the size of the gates (which means you don't need as much electricity to trigger them) and decreasing the operating voltage (same thing). But the number of gates is going up much faster than these techniques can handle, so improved cooling is what we need, and liquid cooling fits the bill.
 
Dustbury got me started with a post about liquid cooling for smart phones. In looking around, I uncovered this little bit on ZDNET:
. . . the Samsung Galaxy S7 isn't the first smartphone to feature liquid cooling. Microsoft's Lumia 950 and Lumia 950xl both use liquid cooling. Sony's use of the technology goes further back, to the Xperia X2, which was released in March of 2014.
Why use liquid cooling? It's probably being used for a number of reasons. First, Qualcomm had problems with the Snapdragon 810 overheating, a problem that resulted in Samsung passing up on the chip for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge

Quotes of the Day

John Wayne in The Shootist
I didn’t vote for him but he’s my President, and I hope he does a good job.John Wayne (1907 - 1979) on the election of John F. Kennedy in 1960

I hope he fails.Rush Limbaugh (b. 1951) on the election of Barack Obama in 2008
From The Seven Habits of Highly Depolarizing People by David Blankenhorn. It would be great if depolarizing became a popular response to disagreements, but I don't think it will happen. Too many people (or maybe two people: the leaders of the two big political parties) have too much invested in the current discussion landscape / cultural divide.

You get a picture of John Wayne because he likes canned peaches and he says 'Pilgrim' a lot. You don't get a picture of Rush because he is a flaming jackass.

Via Detroit Steve.

Violent Map of the Day

Map of Battles Known to Wikipedia

Near as I can tell, the above map is a demonstration of Nodegoat, which is a piece of software for visualizing the data stored in a database. In this case, they took all of the battles recorded in Wikipedia and used that as their data. You can read all the gory (database) details here. You can see a full page version of the map here. Via Detroit Steve.

Update September 2016. Replaced embedded map (which quit working) with a dead image. Follow the link to see the interactive version. Notes about using the interactive version:
  • The Key in upper right corner tells you in what era a battle took place.
  • The control bar at the bottom can be used to restrict the date range.
  • Using the mouse I found I could only get within about 50 years of my desired time. You can get a more accurate slice of time, but it takes a couple of steps:
  1. Enter your desired start and stop dates in the boxes below the bar. The program is finicky about the format. Dates need to be entered with two digits for the day of the month, a dash, two digits for the month, another dash, and four digits for the year.
  2. Click on the View Selection button. This will popup a dialog box.
  3. Look on the line with the magnifying glass icon (the 4th line). Just to the right of this search box is another box with the number '25' and a small triangle. Clicking on this box will popup a list of numbers terminated with the word 'All'. Click on 'All'. 
  4. A 'Processing' message will pop up. Wait until it disappears. If the number of battles is low, you may not see the message at all.
  5. Click on the X at the upper right corner to close the dialog.

Monday, February 22, 2016

The Old HUAC


The Raunch Hands - The Old HUAC

Michigan Mike plumbs the memory banks:
I've been singing the refrain to this song occasionally pretty much my whole life.I learned it when I was a little kid. I think our parents had the album. Radical hippies, were they?

Swamp Creature

Osmany found this guy in the swamp yesterday.
Here's a closeup.

Pothole Mitigation


New Ford Fusion V6 Sport Helps Protect Against Potholes
Via Road & Track

I'm a little suspicious of electronic systems that are supposed to help keep you from crashing your car. Our 2008 Hyundai Sonata has one called ESC (Electronic Stability Control). I don't know how it works, I don't see how it could work, and I don't like something that can apply the brakes when it wants to. Don't know if it actually can. Maybe it can only reduce the braking force on select wheels, kind of like the anti-skid braking systems. Funny, I don't mind anti-skid systems, which operate on just that principle, probably because I know how they work. They can do some good, especially on the rear wheels of pickup trucks that drive around empty most of the time.
   This anti-pothole system looks like it could do some good, but it is electronic, and like all electronics is prone to failure. If this thing catches on I can imagine in 20 years or so people deciding against buying a particular used car because the pothole mitigation system has failed.

Zone Rouge

Patrick Renoult, Head minesweeper Civil Security of Versailles Demining Centre and head of the museum before a collection of bombs and shells of the First and Second World Wars.
I've written before about leftover bombs in Germany. Seems France has a similar problem. The area around Verdun is so bad that parts have been cordoned off. Via Detroit Steve.

Note: I originally posted this back in May of last year. Bayou Renaissance Man notes that today marks the 100th anniversary of the battle of Verdun, so I am reposting this.

Saturday Night

Muu Muu's Big World Diner
Restaurant & Bar
We started with dinner and drinks at Muu Muu's which is right next door to Cinema 21. Handy if you are going to the movies. The place was dark enough that I needed a flashlight to read the menu. Fortunately sweety-bert had her smart phone and a flashlight app. I got something called The Elmer, which was chicken, mashed potatoes, green gravy (!?!) and a fruit thing. Pickled apple slices in cranberry sauce maybe? Whatever, it was pretty tasty. I thought the chicken tasted like turkey, but then maybe it does. They are awfully similar and most of what we think is taste is texture and spices. Sweety was a little disappointed in her hamburger: there were french fries in it. Edible, but not what she was expecting.

The Meadow
    We had a little time to kill so we walked up to 23rd and wandered around for a bit. We stopped in The Meadow on account of sea-salt and chocolate are all the rage these days and that is their stock in trade. Very peculiar little shop, at least to my way of thinking. $10 chocolate bars from the far corners of the earth. $60 gift sets of various kinds of table salt, likewise from obscure locations. I'm kind of a Hershey's and Morton's guy, so this place just baffled me. They also stock a variety of bitters. Those look like they might be interesting, but I'm going to leave that to people with the time and inclination to investigate.

Dick's Kitchen
Back to 21st street where we stopped in at Dick's Kitchen for coffee and cheesecake, just a block down from Muu Muu's. Whereas Muu Muu's was just my glass of bourbon, quiet and dark, Dick's was bright and loud, which suited sweety. Coffee was $2, which I thought was pretty good for sit down service. The cheesecake was tasty, but cheesecake generally is. You know, I can't think of a single instance of bad cheesecake. Might be why I weigh 250 pounds. We split one piece this time.

Then it was time for the movie. We met a couple of friends at the door. They had passes to PIFF and have been watching four movies a day for weeks. Okay, days. Something else I just don't understand.

P.S. Dick's has huge double-hung windows with counterweights concealed in the frame and suspended from ropes. I didn't think they made windows like that anymore. When I was in junior high school our house in Bexley had double-hung windows. They were just regular size though, not ginormous, and certainly not double glazed.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

600 Miles

600 Miles
It's an engrossing movie, there is a lot of 'what's going on' and 'what's going to happen'. There are some weak links like 'why doesn't Arnulfo just drive off at the critical time instead of wading in way till he's in way over his head?' This incident was weak but it set up the situation that made the bulk of the movie. How we got there wasn't really important. Arnulfo is also absolutely the wrong guy for this job. I dunno, maybe when your operation depends foremost on loyalty, competence comes second and when things go wrong you end up in the shit.
    At the beginning of the movie there is a scene in a gun store and another at a gun show. I like guns. I've been to gun shops and gun shows and it was always a little thrilling. I mean, like wow! Look at all the really cool guns! Didn't bother me in the least.
    But seeing them in this movie was a bit of a shock. The presentation might have had something to do with it. Everything looks pretty normal, everyday life, people going about their business and then we see a display of guns on the back wall of a store, and then the camera pans and more guns come into view, and then we pan some more and there's even more guns. It was a really big gun shop, bigger than any I've ever seen. The gun show, on the other hand, was small potatoes compared to the ones I've been to.
    The ending is kind of annoying. The last scene is a couple having breakfast in the kitchen. The picture goes away and is replaced by a black screen and the credits start rolling, but the sound track continues. You hear the sound of dishes and bits of inconsequential conversation. I'm wondering what the heck? Is this just a stupid pet trick, or are they going to pull a rabbit out of the hat? But nothing happens, life just goes on like normal until the credits end and I realize that the movie was over five minutes ago.
    We saw this at Cinema 21 on 21st Street in Portland. It is playing as part of the Portland International Film Festival.


Wiki-Wander 1814

Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron by Margaret Sarah Carpenter
because we need a picture and I like Ada much more than his Lordship
Jonathan Strange (a character in the novel Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) has become acquainted with Lord Byron in Venice, Italy. They both enjoyed playing billiards. Lord Byron, as you may know, was a real life poet and cad. I was never much for poetry, but some people seem to think the world of this guy.
    People originally got titles in England by doing something great, or at least good, for the King and country (at least I think that's how it worked). Their descendants inherit the titles, which is how most of the existing lords and such got their titles, but back in the 1800's it might still have been possible to get one on merit. So I'm wondering how this effete, intellectual, metro-sexual get his title? Wikipedia knows:
When Byron's great-uncle, the "wicked" Lord Byron, died on 21 May 1798, the 10-year-old boy became the 6th Baron Byron of Rochdale and inherited the ancestral home, Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire.
Okay, he got his title the old fashioned way, he inherited it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch .  .  .
Phineus & The Harpies by Russell Marks
Marcel puts up a post about Phineas today. I think he's making a comment on some current event, but I don't really know what he is talking about. Shoot, I'm not even sure who Phineas is, so a-wandering I go. First thing I find is that it's spelled Phineus. Then the article confirms Marcel's story about the Harpies. The story mentions a couple of locations in the Eastern Mediterranean, so I look them up.

Symplegades
Strofades
And then I find this:

Lord Byron refers to the Symplegades in the concluding stanzas of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage:
And from the Alban Mount we now behold
Our friend of youth, that ocean, which when we
Beheld it last by Calp's rock unfold
Those waves, we follow on till the dark Euxine roll'd
Upon the blue Symplegades …

That Lord Byron guy sure gets around.

The Big Short

The Big Short - Inside The Doomsday Machine
I haven't read this book nor have I seen the movie. It is mentioned in a story* I am reading, I started following links and I found some interesting stuff. I've read other things about the financial crisis of 2008, but it didn't speak to me the way these lines do:
The Big Short describes several of the key players in the creation of the credit default swap market that sought to bet against the collateralized debt obligation (CDO) bubble and thus ended up profiting from the financial crisis of 2007–10. - Wikipedia's article about the book.
The two discover that the impending market collapse is being further perpetuated by the sale of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), groups of poor loans that are packaged together and incorrectly given AAA ratings due to the conflicts of interest and dishonesty of the rating agencies. - Wikipedia's article about the film.
Why has it taken so long for a clear explanation to reach me? Perhaps because earlier stories were too full of complicated economic analysis, too full of hype from people promoting their own particular view of what happened, and the normal legal fears of calling people criminals before they have been convicted.

* Newsonomics by Ken Doctor, sent to me by Indiana Thomas

Update five days later: another post on this subject.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Don't Blame The Economy, Blame The Drugs

The Drug Lords: America's Pharmaceutical Cartel
Newsletter from Senator Jeff Merkley (D - Oregon) got me stirred up enough to respond. Here's a copy of what I wrote:
The biggest problem with drugs is that they are illegal. Suicides are tragic, but sometimes it is the best option available. If accidental overdoses are a concern, perhaps labeling the drugs with a 'do not exceed' message might help.
I don't know, but I suspect that the worsening economic situation is behind the increased suicide rate. A negative income tax might help with that. Making vacant houses available to the homeless might help. Promoting primitive farming, ala the Amish, might help more people become self sufficient, which might help.
Drug addiction is not necessarily a medical problem. Many people think it is, but there are reasonable people who disagree. Now I wonder if there is any correlation between being a drug addict and committing suicide by deliberately taking an overdose of drugs.
The DEA is an abomination and should be dissolved. Anyone who wants to keep drugs illegal is either a moron or they are they are part of the American Drug Cartel.
The media talks about the drug cartels in South America, but they are small fry compared to the American one. I do not recommend picking a fight with them, they are vicious and would not think twice about killing anyone who opposes them if it would help maintain their grip on the drug market.
Don't support them with feeble minded legislation that add new restrictions to drug distribution.
Do not forget that the pharmaceutical industry is part of the American Drug Cartel.

Amy Goodman


Older son recommended Amy Goodman to my attention. He listens to her on KBOO. She runs Democracy Now! I haven't read any of her stuff, but I was going through my notes and I figured I ought to record it somewhere where I can find it, and not just leave it on a scrap of paper that will get buried with all the other paper.
We have a drawing because she is not a hot looking 20 year old, and I didn't want to prejudice people against her with an unflattering photo. We should judge her on her values. I suspect she's a left wing troublemaker, but I'm not sure that's such a bad thing anymore since the right wing seems to be the cause of most of our problems.