Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Monday, September 26, 2016

Startup Woes

Phoenix Rising From The Ashes
Pluck and persistence saves dying startup
I'm reading a story about a little internet based startup company. It's not a bad story, but these weird place names pop up, like Vaishali and Hauz Khas and I'm wondering where this could be. I've never heard of any such places, but the USA is full of towns with strange names that I've never heard of. I mean the hills are alive with the sound of strange old European names. Maybe these guys are operating in some obscure, dead coal mining town in Pennsylvania. Unlikely, yes, but you never know. Weirder things have happened. So I check. They are in Dehli, India, half the world away, and he's writing like he's in California. Weird, man.

Other new-to-me terms:
runway period - The amount of time until your startup goes out of business, assuming your current income and expenses stay constant. Typically calculated by dividing the current cash position by the current monthly burn rate. - StartupDefinition.com

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Castle Bran

Castle Bran
The Beckley Foundation logo is derived from the Hapsberg family, which got its name from a castle in Europe, so two castles crossed my path this week.

Via Syaffolee

Goggle's Tilt Brush


Tilt Brush: Painting from a new perspective

I've seen guys using VR (Virtual Reality)-goggles to fly racing drones, OK, I saw a video of it, and some video games are being adapted for VR-goggles. And there was that movie (Johnny Mnemonic?) that had Keano Reeves mucking about with with virtual toy blocks, but this is the first time I have seen something that looks like it might really be good for something.

Via Why Tentacle Porn is the Last Chapter of Human Civilization  by Holly Wood

Friday, September 23, 2016

Nakajima Aircraft Company

Honda S Dream Streamliner
Honda has built a car to try and capture a land speed record for some limited displacement class. They exceeded 260 MPH using a 660 cc engine. The engine is similar to the one they use in their S660 sports car. Never heard of the S660? That's because it is a tiny Kei car, which aren't exported to the USA.

Kei cars originated after WW2.

The Nakajima Aircraft Company produced aircraft up till the end of WW2. Then, since they had no other business and the Allies said 'no more airplanes', they closed up shop. The engineers needed something to do, and since they were prohibited from building airplanes, they turned their hand to building Subaru micro-cars.

Nakajima Ki-43-II Hayabusa fighter
The Nakajima Ki-43 was called Oscar by the Allies. Almost 6,000 were produced.

American Crime

Elvis Nolasco as Carter Nix (left) and Caitlin Gerard as Aubry Taylor
We've been watching American Crime on Netflix. It's well done, but I don't like it. There is not one single character in this show that I like. They are all universally repellent. Stupid, belligerent, pushy, insensitive and in some cases downright insane. Just like real people.

But then last night (episode 3 or 4 of season 1) I got a moment or two of clarity. The couple in the picture above are walking disasters. They are destitute meth-heads (what we used to call speed freaks). The man has been charged with murder and has been jailed. The woman was a foster child raised in a 'nice' middle class home, but now she's on probation. The only thing they want is to see each other. Nothing else matters. They are completely oblivious to the freight train of American justice that is bearing down on them. Aubry's parents come to her rescue, but she doesn't want to have anything to do with them. Her mother is talking about her getting a 'nice' job in a knick-knack shop and Aubry complains about not being able to breath. I can understand that. Working retail totally repels me. I suppose I could do it now, if I had to, but when I was their age it was a concept so alien it may as well have been on another planet.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Psychedelic Science 2017

Psychedelic Science 2017
Be there or be square
Presented by

MAPS
and

Beckley Foundation
The Beckley Foundation was founded in 1998, and is directed by Amanda Feilding, Countess of Wemyss. Amanda is famous for drilling a hole in her own head back in the 1960's. Yes, she might be out in left field, but at least she's not part of the criminal gang that is intent on preserving their income stream by keeping drugs illegal. And that right there is the problem. 

The brain is most wondrously complicated, and those who take an interest in it aren't going to have a lot of energy left over to battle the political shitheads who are running things. I supposed I shouldn't be so hard on those who play the political game. Trying to keep a lid on 7 billion people who would like nothing better than to slaughter their neighbors would tax the patience of a saint.

Via Indy Tom.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Ghost Riders in the Sky


Sons of the Pioneers -- Ghost Riders In the Sky

Just because.

Theory of Fat N+1

Joseph, Mary & Jonah
It's all because of those get-ahead gurus are constantly exhorting us to prioritize our goals, concentrate on what's important, and focus, focus, focus! Problem is if you do as they say, you are not leaving any mental space to think about anything else, like what you are eating, and if you are like me, you end up eating sort of mindlessly. You eat whatever is handy and whatever is not going to stick to your fingers and find its way to your keyboard. Nothing worse than a sticky or greasy keyboard. So while food may not be that interesting, if you don't want to grow up to be a whale, you need to set aside a portion of your brain for thinking about what you are eating.

Chronometric Tachometer


Victory by Design Maserati

I posted a question and received an answer:
Q: What's with the tach needles? They jump from one speed to another. I would expect to see them move smoothly as the engine speeds up or slows down. Is this an artifact of the video, just the way those old instruments worked, or the tachs out of sorts?
A: They are "chronometric" with works like a clock.  They tend to tell you what you were revving two seconds ago. - Rob Mackenzie
A chronometric tachometer? Sounds like somebody got overloaded on steampunk vocabulary, but no, it was a real thing 50 or 60 years ago. They were like a cross between a clock and mechanical calculator. The clock ticks along, just like a regular clock, and between every two ticks, it counts the number of revolutions and at the next clock tick it posts that number on the dial.

Exploded view of the internal mechanism of a chronometric tachometer
THE VELOBANJOGENT has an explanation. Chronometric tachometers were replaced by magnetic ones which work the same way as speedometers: a magnet is spun by a flexible shaft driven by the engine exerts drag on the needle. Magnetic tachs were shortly replaced by electric ones and then by electronic ones. Given that the magnetic speedometer was invented over 100 years ago, it is hard to imagine what prompted the development of the chronometric tach.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Azimuth


Azimuth & Elevation
I never liked 'azimuth'. I mean, what kind of word is it anyway? I've never heard of any word that sounds remotely like it, and if you mean horizontal angle, why don't you just say that? Azimuth, pizzimut. If you are standing on the surface of the Earth (as opposed to being a traveler in the 5th Dimension or Lost in Space), azimuth is simply your compass heading. Where did we get such an effed up word anyway? We got it from the French, who got it from the Arabs, and it simply means 'the way'.
    I suppose if you are travelling through some trackless Arabian desert knowing 'the way' could be kind of important. For instance, if you were a Frenchy traveling with some Arabs across this desert, and you were losing faith that you would ever see anything besides sand, and your repeated inquiries to 'are we there yet?' always brought the same response 'al-samt', that phrase could make an impression on your mind. And if, when you got back to Paris and you are hob-nobbing with society and in response to their inquiries about your trip to Arabia, all you ever say is 'al-samt', you could see how that word could work its way into the language.
     You might be wondering why I care. Since I don't like it so much, why not just not use it? Well, see, it crops up continually in subjects I have a passing interest in, like astronomy, artillery, rockets and surveying. In these cases Azimuth is always paired with Elevation, which is a much better word. We use it all the time for all kinds of things. It simple means 'how high'. In the topics just mentioned, how high is not measured in feet, but in degrees above the horizontal. If you are walking on flat ground, your elevation, as a component of your directional vector, is zero, even if your elevation, as in height above sea level is some thousands of feet. Elevation is usually some positive value for artillery and rocketry. You want to be able to hit your target, be it a building full of terrorists or an orbital rendezvous.


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Respect My Authoritah!

Banksy
How would you steal 16 cases of Bud Light from a Walmart in broad daylight? Dress like a delivery man, load the beer on a dolly and walk out the front door. Eponymous Laws as Persuasion Tools and Other Tricks for Robbing Walmart by Ryan Shmeizer is a fine story about rules, authority, logical thinking (always in short supply) and their influence on society.

Measuring the Earth's Magnetic Field

Geomagetic Suvey Aircraft
This photo showed up in the FlightAware newsletter. The airplane is a CASA C-212 Aviocar. It's set up for surveying using some kind of scientific mumbo jumbo. Looking on Fugro's website (that's the name on the tailfin) turns up nothing, though they are heavily involved in the search for the airliner that disappeared over the Indian Ocean two year's ago.

But what kind of surveying is it? Those wires strung between the prongs and the wings make me think that they are either looking for radio waves, measuring the Earth's magnetic field, or possibly measuring gravity. A little poking around turns up a picture of a similar plane on an Australian page about geomagnetic surveying. So I'm going to jump to the conclusion that this aircraft is equipped with equipment for measuring the Earth's magentic field.

Capricorn 2013 AEM TEMPEST® survey flight lines
This is what the results of an aerial magnetic survey look like.

Camel train with equipment for Edward Kidson’s magnetic survey work in Western Australia, mid-1914. Image: Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
100 years ago they did it by hand, er, camel, courtesy Andrew Carnegie*. Andrew also sent a couple of ships out to measure magnetic fields on the ocean. The started with the Galilee, but bolts used to build the ship made accurate measurements difficult, so they built their own, the Carnegie, without using any iron or steel.

* No relation to Dale.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Lab Coats

L-R: “The Gross Clinic” by Thomas Eakin, 1875; “The Agnew Clinic” by Thomas Eakin, 1889.
Toward the end of the 19th century, Western medicine had an image problem. Joseph Lister’s ideas about antiseptics were spreading, and John Snow had made a breakthrough in mapping the spread of cholera. But to the public, most medical “cures” were little more than quackery and mysticism, and the appearance of a physician merely presaged a painful death.
At the same time, the reputation of science was in rapid ascendancy. The Industrial Revolution was transforming the towns and cities of Europe and America, and new breakthroughs were reported on a weekly basis in more than a thousand different scientific journals.
So the medical establishment did a costume change. Doctors dropped their traditional black coats, which were worn either as a mark of formality (like a tuxedo) or to symbolize the solemnity of their profession, and instead opted for white coats like the ones worn by scientists in their laboratories. The shift can be seen clearly in two different paintings by Thomas Eakins of operating theaters in the United States, separated by just 14 years. - Why the White Lab Coat Changed Medical History

Friday, September 9, 2016

Nuance

Liberty Leading the People — Eugene Delacroix
“It is not easy to explain the French notion of laïcité to Americans, not because it is entirely foreign to the American experience, but because it is close enough to it to give Americans exactly the wrong idea. Laïcité is about the separation of church and state, a concept Americans know well. But in America, separation was designed to free religion from state interference (and vice versa), whereas in France separation evolved to exclude religion from public space and to promote the supremacy of the state over religious organizations. And the historical reasons for the distinction are clear enough. As de Tocqueville observed, the American Founders saw Protestant Christian religion as a support for freedom and civic virtue; French republicans saw the Catholic Church as having been complicit with the worst features of the ancien régime and sought to limit its sway over French democracy.” - Olivier Roy quoted in a story on ExtraNewsfeed

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Caught a Whale


Caught a Whale

Rob and friends are fishing for salmon off Astoria and they spot a gray whale. Will it get caught in our gear somebody asks? Hell no, is the response and a few seconds later the you hear the reel singing as the line is being torn off of it (00:15). So, yeah, the whale snagged one of their hooks. While I am sure the whale noticed, I doubt that it bothered him. Well, at least he didn't come back and smash their boat.

You can catch a glimpse of the whale in the first couple of seconds of the video.

Cyber Cream


cybercream spot

From sgcollins, who has appeared on these pages before.

Superbug Scourge

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa Bacteria
Reuters has a story about how anti-biotic resistant pathogens are killing untold numbers of people. It's long and involved. I read the first few paragraphs. Yes, there is a problem. Yes, there are many horror stories. Yes, the government is incompetent. That's what you get with a democracy. Shoot, that's what you get with any kind of government since all governments are made of people. All problems will be solved when our new robot overlords arrive and take control.

Problem I have with death statistics is they don't discriminate on matters of age or predicted life span. For instance, I would consider a disease that kills 10,000 young adults every year to be much more serious than one that kills 10,000 people over the age of 75. And what about cases with multiple contributing factors? How much should you worry about a disease (besides cancer) that kills 10,000 people who already have stage 4 cancer?

I'm thinking these kind of statistics need to be adjusted by the expected lifespan of those involved. Subtract their age at death from their nominal expected lifespan to get the number of years lost. Say that our expected life span is 75 years, then the deaths of 10,000 young adults with an average age of 25 would be reported as 500,000 years lost, whereas the deaths of 10,000 people 70 years old would be reported as 50,000 years lost.

Via Detroit Steve

Nature versus Hi-Tech

Mechanic Mark Buche says he sees one or two vehicles a week with rodent damage like this brake sensor wire.
A story in the news about rodents eating the wiring in newer cars and trucks reminded me of a story I read a long time ago. I don't remember the name of the story or the author, but if I relate what I do remember, perhaps someone here will recognize it.
    At some indefinite time in the distant future, a salesman is tasked with demonstrating his companies latest electric runabout (scooter?) to a primitive population. The 'natives' don't care for anything his hi-tech society produces, they are getting along just fine, but to humor the salesman they arrange a race between him and his scooter and one of their people riding some kind of animal. The salesman is sure of victory and a sale until his scooter won't start. It seems some kind of 'bug' has eaten the rhodium rotor out of the motor.
    One other facet I remember is the salesman goes into one of their dwellings for a meeting and, given that they have different standards of cleanliness, the stench almost makes him gag.

Via Indy Tom

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Saint Olga

Saint Olga of Kiev
Such a sweet tender-hearted woman. Not. LeeAnn has the story.

Rail Traffic


This Association of American Railroads produced this very fancy, interactive chart of railcar traffic. If you just look at the plotted lines it looks like the volume of traffic varies wildly, swinging from a zillion to zero and back again. If you look at the scale along the left hand edge, you realize this chart is focused on the top one-third of data. The bottom two-thirds of the chart aren't shown.

In any case, it looks like half a million railcars are put in motion every week. That's like one for every 600 people in the USA. Traffic is about evenly split between containers (intermodal) and everything else (carloads).

There was a big disruption in train service when they started shipping coal from Montana and Wyoming to the power stations in the east, which was when? 20 years ago? It took several years to build all the additional hopper cars and locomotives they needed to handle this additional traffic. It wasn't that there was more coal being moved, the coal-fired power generating plants weren't burning any more coal, and they weren't building any more coal-fired plants, it's just that the transit time was longer (days versus hours), and they needed more cars and locos to make up enough trains to keep the pipeline filled. Anyway, there was a lot of grumbling about disruptions in train service when this started, but now that they have enough equipment to keep the pipeline filled, things are back to normal.

Anyway, with all my attention on coal, I would have thought it would be a bigger part of the total traffic, but it seems to be only about one-sixth of it.

Intermodal Train on the left, Lomard Street on the right, Mount Hood in the distance.
Looks like the train must be headed west, but they put locos on both ends of the train, and sometimes in the middle, to get over the mountains to the east.
I saw a big intermodal train all queued up along Northeast Lombard in Northeast Portland last week (like the one in the picture above). A mile long train is an impressive piece of equipment.

Via Bayou Renaissance Man

Bridge

The Golden Gate San Francisco Cal 1906
Nice picture of a sailboat on the water. Didn't think much of it until I realized where it was and then I snapped: where's the bridge? Bridge wasn't built until 1937.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Good News and Bad News

Thompson Reuters Open Calais is an online service that reads text and extracts information from it. It picks up things like names, numbers and dates, and probably does some more complex analysis as well. The good news is that it is free.
    When you feed it some text, it returns an RDF file which contains all of the extracted information in some special RDF format. I imagine this RDF file is good for something, but I haven't figured that part out yet. It is part of the Resource Description Framework.
    They also offer a paid subscription service for lawyers and stock brokers. This is where it gets interesting.

Open Calais Features 
I cut off the financial features checklist so the chart would fit on this page. 
We didn't lose any information: all the features are checked green for the premium package.
The financial package gets you green check marks on all of the features. Most of the features are self explanatory, but there were a couple of bits of jargon in there I didn't recognize.


Okay, so Open Calais picks information out of your story and generates all the metadata codes in the world, but look at the next couple of items:

  • Pharmaceutical Drugs
  • Financial Deals
Think news of FDA approval of a new drug might be of interest to Wall Street types? Well, yeah, but I didn't think it would so important that it would rate it's own line in the features list.

All of which make me think that the recent extraordinary price hikes on some drugs (Epi-pen springs to mind) might be related to the way Obama-care is being administered. In other words, I think someone is gaming the system.

Via Detroit Steve

Quotes

"Dropping the capitalization, usually reserved for holy things, is another way that we aim to put the internet (the Internet?) into the background, in spite of our gnawing intuition that it is unspeakably important — that, in some sense, it represents an entirely new civilization and phase in human development." - from Manifesto: The Internet as Art
His big break came with the role of Cooter, a mechanic who helped the mischievous Duke boys and their leggy cousin, Daisy, outwit and outrace Hazzard county bigwig Boss Hogg and his corrupt henchman, Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane. - Tim Wright and Bradley Hope writing in The Wall Street Journal. Included here because it does a good job of summing up the entire show in one sentence. It does have one short coming in that it doesn't include a shot of the General Lee flying through the air.
"Real truth lies, if anywhere, not in facts, but in nuance." - John Le Carre, quoted in a book review in The Wall Street Journal

Job Dream

Inhabit
Much to my surprise, a much younger me has landed a job at some kind of custom engineering firm. My first project is to generate a bid to make about 30 bicycle Z-brackets. On a normal bicycle these would be called headstock bearings, but there must be something special about these bearings, otherwise why would the client be asking us to make them? Normally you would go to someone who has experience making these things, like a bicycle manufacturer or one of their suppliers. But the client has asked my employer, and my employer has dumped it in my lap.
     My immediate reaction is to figure out how to get it done as cheaply as possible, but after talking to my boss, and a very brief conversation with his boss (hi, how's things, bye), I come to realize that price is probably not the issue here. The immediate goal is to put together a bid that will cover our costs of getting the part designed and built, and don't worry too much about the price. They are only asking for 30 units, so there are not going to be any economies of scale. And we don't want to spend a great deal of time putting this bid together as I have no idea what the client is expecting. If they balk at the price, well, then we can negotiate.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fictional Knowledge

Rutger Hauer and Harrison Ford in Blade Runner
Literary Review has an excellent overview of Philip K. Dick's life and work, disguised as a book review. I've read some of his stuff, but what I remember are the movies Total Recall and Blade Runner. I'm reading through this review and I come across this passage:
In the immediate aftermath of 2-3-74, Dick felt reborn. It had been not a breakdown but a breakthrough: for the first time he had stepped behind the scenery and witnessed the truth. Deep peace flooded him as certainty finally conquered doubt and paranoia was replaced with a sense of divine protection.
Sounds very similar to something I read about Avicenna who came to believe that the world is an illusion and the reality only appears to you during an ecstatic religious experience.

Via Detroit Steve

List of movies made from Philip K Dick stories.

Der Inseider has a few things to say about Philip K Dick

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Jelena Goes to the Range


"Ammunition" - Kiev part 1

Nothing special about this other than that Jelena showed up in this blog once before singing "Nikola".

Colonia

Colonia Dignidad Entrance
Hermione Granger breaks out of the Harry Potter frame. Actually, she broke out five years ago, but I'm still in love with Hermione. But that's just celebrity fluff.

The movie The Colony (aka Colonia) is a fictional thriller set in a real, horrifc, place. It's 1973 and the USA backed, right wing Augusto Pinochet stages a coup that overthrows the Soviet backed left wing Salvador Allende. Our characters get caught up in events and end up in Colonia Dignidad, a place no one ever leaves. Thousands were tortured there and hundreds were killed.

What's interesting is the way this closed society continued to operate. Cut off from the outside world, the inmates had no idea what 'normal' life might be like. The guy who ran it, Paul Schafer, was a real psychopath.

Range Hood

AKDY 30-Inch 3-Speed Under Cabinet Range Hood AZ-W0175WHT
I replaced our old range hood with a new one yesterday. Someone got a little over enthusiastic about cleaning the old one and scrubbed off some of the paint so it no longer looked pristine. I suspect that a film of some kind of nasty had accumulated over the last 20 years and it reacted with the paint, so wiping it down with a soft cloth was all it took to wipe off the paint. Or the person doing the cleaning attacked it one of those Scotch Brite scrubbers. Those things will cut through anything. Cause remains unknown, and really, at this point we don't care.
    The old range hood never worked very well. Turn it on and it sucks air very well for about three seconds and then the tone changes, the air velocity drops and you realize that the only way to get rid of the smoke is to open all the windows. Problem is that when the house was being built, the duct that leads to the outside got an extra kink. The old hood probably would have worked fine if it had a straight shot to the outside, but this extra kink made pushing the air out more than it could handle.
    We have a party coming up and some people want the kitchen to look 'nice' and the range hood was the one big eyesore, so something had to be done. I could have painted it, but that would have meant sanding and masking and making a mess and agonizing over whether the sanded surface was smooth enough and then spray painting and hoping that there wasn't any overspray and then cleaning the entire kitchen to get rid of the overspray. So no, I'm not going to paint it.
    Taking the old range hood out was not a big problem until I touched something inside the hood. OMG. Didn't anyone ever clean this thing? It was nasty. Light bulb goes in the trash, I'm not even going to try and clean it. Metal parts in the recycling bin. Feed that shit to the smelter.
     Installing the new hood was a real pain. Even though the screw holes are all laid out on a standard pattern and even though the hood fits perfectly in the space under the counter (less than 1/32" of slop anywhere), the screw holes don't line up. Electric screwdriver solves that problem. Connecting the duct is not a problem either. The exhaust port from the hood is the same size as the old one and fits in the duct just fine, but it's a loose fit, it needs to be sealed. I can seal the two sides and the front with duck tape, but the the back is right up against the cabinet wall. How the devil are you supposed to seal that? I finally gave up and went to Lowe's and bought a can of Great Stuff spray sealer for $6. I think I used about ten cents worth.
    The absolute worst part was hooking up the electrical lines. I won't mention how the guys running the masonry saw out in the garage kept turning the power back on because their saw quit working. Never mind that the breaker controlling the circuit to the fan had nothing to do with the outlets in the garage that the saw was plugged into.
    No, the problem was having to make like a snake to be able to put the screws in the cover over the electrical connection. I ended up having to bend over backwards with the back of my head lying on the range, looking straight up. Then I was able to see and reach the screws. Lucky I didn't break something on the range.

Bought the hood from Amazon

Which way is the wind blowing?


TD9 development up to 2016-08-31, then +5 day forecast.
AKA Hurricane Hermine

Has weather forecasting gotten better? Maybe. I'm not going to say one way or the other as we have a big event coming up and I don't want to jinx our chances of getting through it without a disaster. So, maybe. NOAA has big supercomputers that are very busy doing something. And now we have a website that shows you which way the wind is blowing anywhere on Earth. Very cool. Via Detroit Steve. About page here.

Hallelujah, I'm a bum


HALLELUJAH! I'M A BUM - Harry MAC McClintock - 1928
1993 marked a pivotal year: Sears laid off 50,000 workers due to competition from Walmart; Xerox cut 10,000 jobs, nearly 10% of its staff; and IBM let go 60,000 workers, the company’s first layoffs in its 80-year history. - Stephanie Buck on Medium

The Engineer’s Guide to Babies


Digital Baby
“Have you tried turning it off and back on?”
It’s common knowledge in the computer industry that rebooting the system solves most known problems. For most of us handling remote IT for families afar, it’s the staple of our family relationships. When this technique doesn’t actually solve the problem, it at least delays it long enough for us to get off the phone and leave the house before they can call back. - Chet Haase on Medium

Friday, September 2, 2016

Hurricane Weather

Dawn in Miami 2 days ago

Pavlok


How Nagina Used Pavlok to Quit Biting Her Nails

This is just amazing, or maybe it's just really weird. Every time I've heard about using an electrical shock to influence behavior, the shock was administered by another person. Somehow it does not seem like shocking yourself would work. One, you would have to be aware of what you are doing, and many habits are unconscious, and two, I think you would develop an aversion to shocking yourself. But maybe the shock isn't that strong, so I checked:
Does the zap hurt?
The electrical stimulus is carefully designed so that it is enough to be uncomfortable, but not so strong that it hurts (and nowhere near dangerous – the Shock Clock is CE/FCC certified and 10,000 Pavlok users have proven it is safe and effective).
It's a lot like a static shock you get when you touch a doorknob after rubbing your feet on the carpet.
You can also use vibrate and beep if zap isn't for you!
I haven't gotten a static shock in a long time, but the one I remember was likely the King Kong of static zaps. I've had plenty of others that weren't worth mentioning.

You can get a Pavlok from Amazon. Via Medium.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

British Airways Flies to Tehran

The Bazaar of Isfahan, a vaulted two-kilometre street linking the old city with the new, is one of the oldest and largest markets in the Middle East
IBT has brief story about BA resuming flights to Iran. They've also tacked on a set of really good photos.

Rich and Poor

Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Washington D.C. circa 1918
"The growing divide between the rich and the poor" is a common complaint these days. The implication is that some people have too much money, other's don't have enough, and something should be done about it.
    "The growing divide between the rich and the poor" is not a problem. What matters is not whether we all are equal in terms of buying power, but whether we all have enough to live our lives as civilized people. When people don't have enough, when they are marginalized, oppressed, crushed, disenfranchised, driven from their homes, etc. etc., that's when the Communists can gain a toehold.
    Communism as it is practiced by those who call themselves Communists, is not really communism. As some of us have learned, it is really just a gang of thugs, much like the Mafia, only writ large. Could it be that the growth of the gangs in the USA might be engendered by the same kind of problems that make good breeding grounds for Communism? I think it is.
    I imagine being rich is kind of a pain in the ass. Yes, I know, somebody famous once said "I've been rich and I've been poor and being rich is better"*, but you have to constantly be thinking about your money and what you should be doing with it, where you should invest it, who is trying to steal it. Now some people might take to that kind of agonizing like a duck to water, they might actually enjoy it. Me, I find it tedious and boring. Fortunately there are things like Mutual Funds that remove most of the day to day agony.
    Being rich requires paying attention to your money. Stop paying attention and all that money will wander off. And what do you do with a billion dollars anyway? I mean after you've bought your fancy car, boat, house, airplane? You invest it in something that  you hope will make more money. Which means that most of the money that the rich have, which means most of the money in the world, is tied up in real estate and infrastructure and and organizations that are actually producing something. It's just sitting there, working, being watched by all those concerned.
    Now you could redistribute that wealth, give all the employees a share in the companies they work for, but that would be a temporary fix at best. All that wealth is going to migrate from those who are not paying diligent attention into the hands of those who are, and we will be right back where we started.
   A negative, or reverse, income tax might be the way to give those on the bottom a boost. I don't really like the idea of giving people something for nothing, it sounds like every bad, socialist, idea I've ever heard. On the other hand we are producing more stuff with less labor than ever before. If we give the poor some money, they are going to spend it on stuff, which means demand will go up, which means production will go up, which means employment will go up, which means we'll have fewer poor people. Or we might just all collapse into the fetid swamp of hyperinflation. I mean it's hard to tell. The future is cloudy, I cannot see.

* Mae West, Sophie Tucker, Joe Louis, Bessie Smith, David Lee Roth, Beatrice Kaufman