Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Friday, December 15, 2017


Upper Case & Lower Case
Iamna turned up this visual explanation of the origins of a bunch of terms used in typography. The above illustration is only the first.

Iaman Does Algebra

Subtract the exponents when dividing variables.
Iaman is studying algebra:
I was wondering about the difficulty of learning Algebra,  and as importantly having it stick.
I went through 501 algebra problems, helped with a answer key, finally getting comfortable with  how  things worked.  But then was uncomfortable when doing on my own, without a key.
I am not the only one, googling shows many studies showing the following.
    "Our results indicate that the transition from concrete to abstract reasoning represents quite a long process, even for simple algebraic task used in this study. aware that it is not enough to learn about equation rearrangement in mathematics once.
     It should not be presumed that students master this skill quickly and that they can easily apply it in other context such as problem solving in physics.
   On the contrary, teachers should use every opportunity to encourage students to use formal reasoning – both pattern recognition and effective application of mathematical rules and known procedures."
From Development of abstract mathematical reasoning: the case of algebra
    I was always good at math*, and I am occasionally complimented on my ability to explain semi-complicated things to other people. However, there was one occasion that baffled me. A friend of my kids was having trouble with high school algebra, and I was volunteered to help. I tried to explain the concept (the distributive property, maybe?). I went over it three or four times, but we weren't getting anywhere. I had exhausted my repertoire of techniques, so I gave up. Thing is, this kid was one of the brighter ones, they went on to college and professional career. Maybe there are other techniques of which I was unaware, or maybe their brain just wasn't ready for abstract thinking.

* That is, until we got to differential equations and then the requirements changed from understanding the concepts to rote memorization of complex formulas. That sudden reversal really turned me off. Only recently have I come to realize that every one of those complex equations probably represented someone's life work. However, at the time, no one bothered to mention that.

The Baboons - Drinkin' Gasoline

The Baboons - Drinkin' Gasoline

I really like this tune. The lead singer makes the video. That sly smile at the end while he is filling bottles is just perfect. From 2008.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

History Revised

I thought the Vietnam War was a disaster from the get go, mostly because of the reports I heard about how the government of South Vietnam was corrupt, which sounded pretty believable. Now I come across this explanation from George Scott on Quora, which surprised the heck out of me.
About 30 years ago, Prime Minister Lee of Singapore, who is largely credited with the “Singapore Miracle” (turning a backwater nation into an economically prosperous nation) wrote an op ed in the New York Times in which he claimed the U.S. had largely won the Vietnam War.
His contention was that the U.S. wasn’t just fighting to protect South Vietnam from the Communist yoke, but that the U.S. was fighting to protect all of Southeast Asia (including his native Singapore). He wrote that although South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos fell to Communism, the U.S.’s fight delayed the Communist surge long enough for Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines to develop their nations economically enough to make the Communist lure undesirable.
Prime Minister Lee argued that had the U.S. not fought the Vietnam War, Communism would have taken over all of Southeast Asia. The U.S.’s participation in the Vietnam War allowed the much larger portion of the Southeast Asian population to escape the yoke of Communism. And in Prime Minister Lee’s eyes (as a significant insider), this meant the U.S. largely won the Vietnam War, even though Indochina fell to Communism.
The New York Times has an interesting column about Prime Minister Lee.

Who knows what

Illustration of the idea behind Diffie-Hellman key Exchange

I'm reading about the Diffie–Hellman Key Exchange and I come across this phrase:
The chart below depicts who knows what,
Who knows what? Are you kidding me? Isn't that the phrase we use when we don't know what the subject is? Does this mean that whoever is writing the description of this chart does not know what it depicts? Well, that's dumb. How can you write a description of something you don't understand? But then I realize that the chart shows what information is known by which people, i.e. who knows what.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Apple Pie Moonshine

Brody's Apple Pie Moonshine
Saw this at the liquor store yesterday evening. Shades of Justified. I had forgotten the name of the show, but it only took a few key words (TV, man with a hat, Kentucky) for the cashier to come up with it, whereupon we enjoyed a few moments of fond recollection.

Mags Bennett (Margo Martindale)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


A man gets out of a Volvo 144 to head to a parade in Pyongyang in 2012. 
In the 1970s, North Korea ordered 1,000 Volvo 144s from Sweden. 
To this day, the cars have not been paid for. - Tanya L. Procyshyn
Uniberp has a long history of Volvos. In fact he has owned three Volvo 144's, the same model as the ones in this story about criminal North Korea. It's kind of small potatoes now that they're threatening the entire world with nuclear missiles. I guess it just goes to show you shouldn't give a gangster an even break, which kind of makes me wonder whether we should have relaxed our positions with Iran and Cuba. I can sort of understand how Iran got to be fucked up. That part of the world has thousands of years of squabbling to their credit. It might not be possible to untangle that mess. But Cuba, criminently, the revolution was only 60-odd years ago. Then again, maybe the tropics are doomed to be ruled by gangsters. Before the revolution it was the Mafia, now it's communists. In both cases the working class is getting screwed over by the elite.

Which reminds me of a story told in the opening episode of Ozark. It seems a woman has been working in a grocery store for umpteen years and the owner was very happy with her. She was diligent and productive. Then one day he sees her slip a few pesos out of the till and into her pocket. Now the question is, what should the owner do? Should he warn her not to do it again and give her a second chance? The correct answer in the context of this show is to fire her. Because while this might be the first time she has been caught stealing, it is not necessarily the first time she has stolen something.

Lomachenko vs. Rigondeaux

Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux at Madison Square Garden
The kids went to NYC for a long weekend and Osmany managed to see one of his coutrymen in a highly touted fight (Rigondeaux is from Cuba). The fight was kind of a bust. Lomachenko is two weight classes above Rigondeaux. Rigondeaux retired after six rounds complaining about a broken hand. The entire fight is available on YouTube with a Spanish soundtrack.

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Dead South - In Hell I'll Be In Good Company

The Dead South - In Hell I'll Be In Good Company [Official Music Video]

This video is just over one year old, has 36 million views, and until yesterday I had never heard of it, but I like it well enough that just one day later I'm posting it.

Update the next day: The lyrics are way out there, or maybe way inside. A little incoherent, but life is crazy like that.

Missing Joke

Narcissus by Caravaggio, gazing at his own reflection.
"Narcissistic personality disorder" has popped up a couple of times in conversation recently. This picture shows up on Wikipedia's article on the subject. The painting was done by Caravaggio. I spent a few hours reading about this guy a while back, and since I spent more than five seconds on him that should have produced a blog post, but I can find nothing. And then I remember hearing a long joke / story / pun that confused Caravaggio with Ragtime Cowboy Joe, but I can't find anything about it either.

Ragtime Cowboy Joe - The Sons of the Pioneers with Tommy Doss 1960

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Patience & Fortitude

New York Public Library Lion
I'm reading Los Alamos by Joseph Kanon, an entertaining murder mystery set in the closing months of WW2, when the eggheads are scrambling furiously to build the bomb. Our hero makes a trip to NYC where, among other things, he pays a visit to the pair of stone lions named Patience & Fortitude. They flank the entrance to the New York Public Library. Somebody gave the lions names? Why? It's not they are going to come when they are called, for more reasons than one.

Ephemeral New York explains that the lions were originally named Leo Astor and Leo Lenox, after the two fat cats, John Jacob Astor and James Lenox. But come the Depression the mayor renamed them Patience & Fortitude as more fitting for the times.

South Waterfront Access

Route from South Waterfront to US-26 Eastbound, Portland, Oregon
I drove over to my daughter's apartment yesterday afternoon to water her Christmas tree while she is out playing jet-setter. Basically ridiculous, but when you are retired people find all kinds of things to fill your time, like water a Christmas tree that's 15 miles away. That's what I get for getting married.

South Waterfront is a 'special' kind of area. I think it all used to be industrial, ship building, iron and concrete, that kind of thing. Then somebody decided maybe it should be redeveloped into fancy offices and apartments, but nobody bothered to put in any city streets, so it's all private property and no parking unless you have a permit or a legitimate reason to be on the premises. On the weekend there are lots of empty spaces in the parking lots adjacent to  businesses, but they are all posted with 'violaters will be towed' placards. Now you might be able to get away with parking in one of those spots for an hour or two, but then again, some predatory tow truck drivers are just waiting for someone to violate the rules so they kidnap your car and hold it for ransom. I am not willing to take the risk, besides I am not pressed for time. I can legally park a mile away and hoof it. There is a path along the river that is open to the public. That is one thing the city did manage to do.

I suppose the lack of public parking is okay for businesses, they just have to provide their own, but it means there is no parking for visitors to residences. Maybe that's okay. Maybe all the people who live in the area's apartment blocks don't want any visitors.

Anyway, getting back home was super annoying. It was creepy-crawly all the way up Kelly from where Naito Parkway branches off, and then all the way to the top of Sylvan hill. I think the Zoo Lights might have had something to do with it. It was so bad that I checked the map when I got home to see if there was any other possible route. There are a couple, but I don't know if they would be an improvement. You could get on I-5 Northbound, but that would take you East across the river. You could take I-405 all the way around the city center, but you are liable to get ensnarled in traffic somewhere along the way. You could get on I-5 Southbound, but that will take you way down south to Lake Oswego. Kind of out of the way, but at that time of week it might not have been bad, except then you have to take 217 North through Beaverton, and that is always a shit sandwich. Instead of taking Kelly all the way up the hill to I-405, you could take Naito up to Clay Street which leads straight onto Highway 26. Clay is not great, lots of traffic lights, but I've never seen it as bad as Kelly, and Kelly is always a mess.

I've lived in a number of cities but I don't think I've ever seen one with as convoluted a set of streets as Portland. Maybe it's just a consequence of the terrain (hills and rivers) and short sighted planning (we'll only think about present, we aren't going to think about the future because nothing has ever changed in Oregon, and if we have our way nothing ever will. Except, okay, we'll allow this one new road). Of course Los Angeles has no shortage of visionaries and they are choking on their traffic problems.

Update 2 days later: Took the Clay Street route. It was at least as miserable as the original route. Had to stop for every freaking traffic light. Took something like 30 minutes to get from Front Ave to actually get on the freeway, a distance of like 12 blocks. I hate downtown Portland. Okay, I admit, it was the height of rush hour, but it still sucked big time.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Paper and Ink

HP Indigo Digital Printing Press
Uniberp is in Atlanta this week learning the ins and outs of HP's Indigo Printing Presses. "Nice software" he says. Unlike Cartier watches, you can't buy one of these from Amazon, and I am glad about that. Previous post on the subject.

Donut bag windfall story

Iaman sends me a story:

Bitcoin Donuts
Riding the crosstown, a stumblebum boards my bus, disheveled, wreaking of booze. The unfortunate is carrying a neat clean little bag of Little Debbie Mini Powdered Donuts, I may have noticed because they are a favorite of mine.  After a long twisting ride, the man gets up to disembark at the next stop. I notice he has left the Little Debbie bag on his seat. I hail him "Sir you left your donuts!"  He waves me off with a slurred profanity.  On his wrist I spy what appears to be a besmirched Cartier Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon wristwatch, clearly out of place.
The bus jolts to a start, the abandoned Little Debbie bag falls to the floor, papers appear out of the top of the donut bag. Bored and curious I examine the paper......Bitcoin Private keys! On the pages there must be a hundred, this mornings news said Bitcoin was topping $15,000! So these coins represent $1,500,000!
Upon arriving home I google businesses that take bitcoin as payment,  the only one that interests me is OKCupid a web dating site,  the most they charge is $19.95.   What to do with the remaining $1,499,980.05? What to do?
It's a story, that is, fiction. Besides, private keys likely give you access to wallets (if you have the wallet id), but having access to wallets doesn't necessarily mean there is anything in there. Fractions of a bitcoin are very popular. Most people don't have 15 grand to wager on a risky gamble. 100 accounts with .005 bitcoins each would only be worth $7,500, not 1.5 million. But it's all imaginary anyway, dreaming about imaginary riches.

Rotonde de Cartier Astrotourbillon wristwatch $140,000
Just in case you were wondering.

The Roar of the Chainsaw, the Smell of Gasoline

Christmas Tree
Got the tree at Starkey's at the corner of Glencoe and NW Scotch Church Road. Formerly known as Larsen's. We have gotten most of our trees there. This one is a Nordmann Fir and cost $53. They had some Grand Firs and some Noble Firs, but no Douglas Firs. Seems there was a glut of them a few years back, so not so many new ones got planted. Takes ten years to grow a Christmas tree, more or less.

Oregon has these funny land use laws that are supposed to preserve farm land for farming, which may all be well and good, but it puts a crimp in the style of the nouveau rich techies who want a big house in the country. The only way you can have a house in the country is if it's on a viable farm. So what kind of crop do you plant? Christmas trees! So rich guys setting up their little 'farms' undoubtedly contributed to the glut.

When you bring a tree home, the first thing you are supposed to do is hose it down. This gets rid of any dust and critters who are living in your tree, and it gives the tree some water which it has not had for days. The next thing is to cut a inch or two off of the stump end so the live wood can suck water up out of the bowl.  Always before I didn't put the tree in the stand until I got it the house. Today I did it outside and it really works much better.

I fired up the chainsaw to make the cut. I tried cutting a tree with a handsaw once and it was a real pain. It probably would have been easier if I had the right saw for the job, but all I had was a selection of short, dull pruning saws, and an ordinary carpenter's cross cut saw. So now I use the chainsaw. Haven't fired it up since last Christmas. I had to start it two or three times to get the job done today, which meant I probably pulled the starter cord 50 or 60 times. But still, all I had to do was follow the instructions which were printed on the back of saw, and it started. Okay, I had to repeat the starting procedure a couple of times, but no monkeying around, trying to figure out what was wrong. Good job, Poulon. Amazingly the very same model is available from Amazon. Does this mean we have reached peak chainsaw? I mean, mine has got to be ten years old at least.

I think the monster tree we got last year was probably 15 years old. We cut off the bottom four feet or so leaving us with a nine foot tree. It was the first Christmas in the USA for my son in law, so we did the cut-your-own thing, and the pickings were we ended up were kind of slim. So we made do.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Quote of the Day

No, I have no idea what 'unstumpable' means, but I think the picture is somehow appropriate.
I'm not impressed with Donald, but maybe I should be. If you look at the image that is projected by the media you'd think he is an ego-bloated gas bag. If you look at what he is actually doing, well, you can't, or rather I can't, meaning I am not going to spend the time wading through all the crap that gets published in order to pick up the occasional tidbit that might be significant. Meanwhile he charges on, and some people seem to think he is succeeding at whatever it is they think he's doing, and naturally, because everything is political these days, they pile up the plaudits to a ridiculous height.

Dustbury likens him to The Mule, a character from a science fiction novel, a resemblance that looks remarkably like any political movement, before he points to a meme about how The Donald is the smartest of them all. It is full of sound and fury, more or less, but this comment sums it all up rather nicely:
I think Trump is definitely smarter than he’s often given credit for, but I don’t think he’s a genius either. I just think that the people he’s up against are so far up their own asses and so far removed from what’s going on with the lower classes that all you need to beat them is a big set of gonads, a functioning brain, and a decent amount of charisma. It’s really only a 2D chess board, but the other side refuses to actually look at the opponent’s pieces. - iotacom
P.S. The Mule is a character from Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. I read it and a whole bunch of Isaac's other books about a zillion years ago, but I don't remember The Mule. Maybe it's time to read them again.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Gringo Pistolero

Looking for information about the Gringo Pistolero, I came across Frederick Russell Burnham, which led to the Pleasant Valley Range War and the Cecil Rhodes's Cape to Cairo Railway, which has not been completed, and from the railway map, it doesn't look like it made it out of South Africa.

African Railway Map

USS San Francisco

USS San Francisco (CA-38) returns to U. S. after heroic battle - December 1942

Rene' P. Humbert tells us about his duties in the engine room of the USS San Francisco. The ship was in Pearl harbor and he was on board when the Japanese attacked 76 years ago today. The ship saw a great deal of action during the course of the war.

Heavy cruiser USS San Francisco CA-38 fires main guns during U.S. Navy raid on Wake Island October 1943.
Wikipedia article about USS San Francisco, the second ship with that name.

Via Posthip Scott.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

Sam Rockwell as Dixon
Nothing happened in this movie as you might expect. We have all kinds of bad behavior. The plot is so demented I started to think this was a Coen Brothers' movie. Having Frances McDormand in it might helped with that idea. She was in Blood Simple, Fargo and Burn After Reading, all Coen Brothers' movies.

You think Dixon is peripheral character, an obviously rotten egg, but then . . . but that would be telling. The Atlantic has a review, if you like that kind of thing. I thought the movie was pretty great.

Sam Rockwell has been in a bunch of movies. I've seen a couple of them, like Cowboys & Aliens, Matchstick Men and Charlie's Angels, but I don't remember him. You can bet I'll remember him now.

We saw this film at a Regal Cinema. You now have to pick your seat when you buy your ticket, which I thought was kind of shitty. What if you don't like the seat when you get in there? But I'm with my wife so no fussing allowed. The seats are new too, big and fancy. Big electric recliners with leather upholstery. I think changing to these chairs must have cut the seating capacity in half. Tickets are now $12.50, but we got a $3 discount for being old. The whole rigamarole of getting tickets and getting inside is annoying, as is the relentless advertising. We did get there 15 minutes early, but it used to be that they would just let you sit in silence, which was kind of nice. But you haven't paid for that time, so we get to bombard you with an endless onslaught of useless information.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Diana Rigg / Emma Peel

The Avengers - Short Skirt, Long Jacket [Emma Peel]

If you are under 50 years old, or shoot, even 60, you may never have heard of Emma Peel. When I was high school she was my goddess. Emma was one half of a dynamic duo, opposite John Steed, in The Avengers. Emma was played by Diana Rigg who has recently reentered the popular consciousness by playing Queen Olenna Tyrell in Game of Thrones.

The Avengers was kind of far out:
The stories became crazier and crazier — Space plants from the moon! Assassination by laser! Invisible spies! Housecats trained to kill! Politicians hypnotised into becoming children! A Shrink Ray! — and typified the swinging cool of 1960s Britain. - TV Tropes
Quote of the Day:
Rigg has long been an outspoken critic of feminism, saying in 1969, "Women are in a much stronger position than men.
I suspect that is only true if you are confident and believe in yourself.

Rigg was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1988 New Year Honours and a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 1994 Birthday Honours.

Pic of the Day

The RB-47’s three electronic warfare officers (in 1955) spent up to 14 hours
at a time in the windowless, modified bomb bay, surrounded by electronics.
The US Military engaged in all kinds of bizarre intelligence gathering operations during the Cold War, some of which are just now coming to light. I don't even want to think about what the Russians were doing. The RB-47 was the reconnaissance version of the B-47 bomber. The photograph is from a story on the Smithsonian Air & Space site. It reminds me of a story a former military guy told me about his time stationed in Germany. Everyday he and a bunch of his fellows would spend all day in a room twirling the tuning dial on a radio receiver listening for any kind of signal coming out of the Soviet Union. The job was tedious in the extreme because you hardly ever picked up anything, and if you did it was pretty much an incomprehensible series of buzzes and clicks. They were pretty much left to themselves, but every so often an officer would poke his head and then, by god, you better be turning that dial. Being chronically short on sleep, which seems to be a common affliction in the military, he got to the point where he could sleep with one finger on the dial and as soon as the door opened he would wake up and resume turning that dial.

Via Posthip Scott

Friday, December 1, 2017

Garbage - Special

Garbage - Special

I like many of the tunes by Garbage. I'm not too sure about this one, but the video now, that's something else. It's a Science Fiction / Steampunk aerial dog-fight, and it's pretty great.

No Thinking Required

Why Trump can't resist retweeting hate: Fake news and the Freedom Quotient.

The video isn't really about Trump, it's more about the lack of thought behind mass opinion. Most people simply go go go without stopping to think. Some people never stop to think. People who do stop to think can make considered decisions. Can the thinkers prevail against the mindless masses? Not if they don't have their propaganda offices properly staffed.

A couple of notes about the video: The two buttons appear to be different colors because they are. When they show them to be the same they are comparing the brightly illuminated upper button and the shaded portion of the lower button. The top part of the lower button is glossed over / erased. I still don't know what that blob in the middle of the brick wall was. The poll that placed Hitler first was taken in 1939. I missed that little bit the first time through. Made me think some modern day social justice warriors had really gone around the bend.

Via Indy Tom.

Antique Phonograph Players

Columbia Viva-Tonal 163

An entire subculture of mechanical audio engineering. The horns on some of these machines are quite spectacular.

Via Posthip Scott

Tips for Studying Algebra

Algebraic Terror
Iaman has been dragged into a swamp filled with algebra. This isn't his first journey into the heart of darkness, so he is charting his path and making some notes. Will he survive? The future is cloudy, I cannot see. Should he be lost, perhaps these notes will help us avoid his fate.
Just a update and some tips to share with you.  My difficulty with Algebra is making it a priority and devoting time and attention to it.
I finished my book 501 Algebra Problems, which took a couple weeks,  set it aside for a week and realize now that I need to practice more.
Things I HAVE learned:
  • Clear my desk, then place a large amount of paper and have good pencils and erasers.
  • I work about a hour at a time, sometimes a couple hours a day.
  • Use PLENTY of paper , write the problem down on the top of sheet, then break it down, use a entire sheet of paper if needed per problem.
  • When you get stuck Google,  or YouTube the problem you are having.
  • Learn to doodle a complex algebraic equation to overtly impress friends or new acquaintances.  I started with the quadratic equation.  
You never know!
Things I think will help:
  • Find a cheat sheet (quick reference) to refer back to while doing problems, I am now using this one.
  • Do Flashcards
  • Get comfortable with the terminology,  write yourself a glossary as you learn or are puzzled by new terminology.
  • Learn a couple complex equations to impress people at the lunch counter.
I never had a problem with algebra. Does that make me a superior being? On the other hand my people skills are weak, so maybe I'm just weird.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Mossad 101

#TNTSeries | Mossad 101

Started watching this series on Netflix last night. In Hebrew, I guess, with English subtitles. The above trailer I think has been dubbed in Portuguese. It might be realistic, I dunno. Being a spy requires a certain interpersonal skills that not everyone has. James Bond might make a great movie, but there aren't too many real-life James Bonds out there who would be willing to work for MI-5, or is it 6?

The only problem I have with the show is that the subtitles are often only on the screen for seconds which makes it tough to read them. I spent a lot of time rewinding and replaying.

Stuff In Space

GLONASS Satellite Orbits
From Stuff In Space
Stuff In Space is pretty cool. Shows you everyting that is currently in orbit, including satellites, discarded boosters and debris, but no pigs. NASA had something similar but it has gone away. You can pick and choose which orbits you want to see. I was surprised to see that GPS and GLONASS (the Russian GPS) were so far out. I thought they were all in LEO.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

SBIRS - Space-Based Infrared System

SBIRS Mission Overview - Lockheed Martin

Took a little digging to find out who was actually watching out for missile launches, but I eventually got here: SBIRS.

Folding Bicycles

James May in Italy
I'm watching an old episode of Top Gear (Series 19, Episode 3 from 2013) on Netflix last night and at the very end James May unpacks a folding bicycle from his suitcase and sets off in pursuit of Richard Hammond. That was a surprise because until then I had no idea he was packing a bicycle.

Montague Paratrooper Folding Bicycle
Then today I come across an ad for this folding bike that the U.S. Military uses. Heck, two incidents in less than 24 hours, that's a blog post! Montague got a grant from DARPA to design this bike. You can buy one from Amazon for $900.
Montague Paratrooper, folded

World War I Italian Bersaglieri with folding bicycles
A little more digging turned up this picture from World War I. The coaster brake came from the military.

If you haven't had enough, here is an extensive web page about military bicycles.

North Korea Missile Launch

North Korea Missile Trajectory
North Korea's latest missile splashed down in the ocean 600 miles away from where it was launched, which doesn't sound like it is going to threaten anyone except their immediate neighbors. But then I read that it reached an altitude of 2800 miles. Could that be right? Or is it just a misprint? Turns out 2800 miles is correct. If North Korea altered the trajectory of this missile, theoretically it could reach halfway around the world, which puts just about everyone at risk.

I wonder how our satellite minders cope with this. Guess I better go check.

Net Neutrality

Is $10 a month for Netflix too little?
Some people are making a bunch of noise about Net Neutrality and how the FCC is in the pocket of the big internet companies. Then I came across a post about how what the FCC is doing is rolling back some regulations made over the last few years that have essentially restricted internet freedom. The arguments are a little complicated and given the amount of heat and noise, very partisan. Given that atmosphere, I'm not inclined to believe anything anyone is saying on the subject.

But it got me to thinking, and that led to trying to sort out the economics of the internet. Cable, whether coax or fiber-optic, seems to have an almost unlimited bandwidth. In a city with a million people and a thousand channels of broadcast it is almost certain that every one of those channels is being watched by somebody.

Installing the cables is a big expense. Stringing wires from poles and running lines into houses might only cost a couple of hundred bucks per house. Running fiber underground probably runs closer to $1,000, but you don't have the annual tree trimming expense or weather or other above ground mishaps to worry about. If you are looking at a 50 year timeline, you can see how the underground route could appeal to the capitalist investor.

But that's only part of the deal. You still need the equipment to pump your data into those cables and that means some kind of modem for every freaking channel. And then there are repeaters and boosters and who knows what all kinds of fancy commercial electronical gizmos are needed. I can see where a central distribution / collection point for a citywide network could easily cost $100,000. I guess in the overall scheme of things that's a pittance. If it costs on average $500 to hook up a residential customer, and 10% of the population in a city of a million people is connected, it will have cost $50 million to get them all connected. A hundred grand for a central hub is peanuts in comparison.

And then there are the shows that are broadcast, and their production costs. And advertising. And subscriber fees. The amount of money being thrown around is stupefying and it changes drastically every microsecond. Good luck trying to sort that out.

We're spending $175 a month for TV and hi-speed internet. We follow a couple of sports teams and that is basically all the TV we watch, unless you count the times we occasionally veg out in front of the tube. Now it might be possible to get those specific teams over the internet and save some money, but sorting that out is a colossal pain. Yes, you can get some of them here, and you can get some of them there, but finding someone who can give you everything you want is almost impossible. Well, not impossible, it just takes more than five minutes. which is all the time I am willing to spend on it. I have a low tolerance for useless information. Cable TV (Frontier Fiber-optic) gets us everything we want. It's expensive, but it works, and I don't have to read any legal boilerplate.

I suspect cable TV, like most big American businesses, is all about making money hand-over-fist. If someone in this business isn't making money fast enough, they might very well be tempted to go into illegal drug trafficking, another great American money machine.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Steigerwald Knives

Steigerwald Steampunk Knife
Stefan Steigerwald makes some very odd knives. Some, like the Steampunk Knife shown above, don't look particularly useful. They are more like mechanical works of art. From Germany.

The Cardigans - Erase / Rewind

The Cardigans - Erase / Rewind “Director's Cut”

This song kind of crept up on me. I start up YouTube and it starts playing tunes and this one must have come up often enough for it make an impression, and the impression was favorable. Kind of like listening to the radio back in the bad old days. I haven't actually watched the video all the way through. If YouTube is playing on a hidden tab, is YouTube still sending the video down the wire?

Thursday, November 23, 2017


There are some great landscape shots in this show. 
Started watching Godless last night. It's a mini-series on Netflix. The trailer is pretty awful. The show is pretty great. Lovable Jeff Daniels has the role of the murderous leader of a gang. Michelle Dockery (the prima donna from Downton Abbey) runs a ranch with help from her son and a Paiute squaw. I only know it's her because my wife told me. I didn't recognize her. The Guardian has a review. IMDB listing here.

Portions of Colorado & New Mexico, from Utah/Arizona on the West to Oklahoma/Texas on the East. Colorado Springs is near the top, Santa Fe near the bottom.
Creede & LaBelle, two places in the show are orange. Big cities are blue. Narrow gauge railroad is green.
Update: Finished watching this series. It only took us three nights. If there is a lesson to be learned from this show it's keep your damn doors closed.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Pic of the Day

Artist's impression of Oumuamua
The space jocks are pretty sure it is just passing through our neighborhood and is not in orbit around the sun.  It's estimated to be 400 meters long, which is pretty freakin' small. Makes me wonder how it was defected in the first place. Probably by a computer program that noticed one pixel was not the same as the ones in previous photos.

They also tacked a funny accent mark on the front of the name. Like that's going to make a difference in how people pronounce it. Well, it makes no difference to me. Besides, I am unlikely speak its name, and if I do, who will know if I am saying it wrong? Certainly not me.

A little more pointing and clicking turned up this video.

Animation of `Oumuamua passing through the Solar System

The trajectory of this thing reminds me of nothing so much as Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama. It could be just a coincidence that it came so close to our Sun, but if you want to believe in aliens, it sure looks like it was aimed there with the intent of altering its trajectory. Where is Flash Gordon when we need him? Well, it doesn't matter because we couldn't have caught it if we wanted to. It's traveling at over 20 miles per second. The only spacecraft that have ever gotten up to that speed are interplanetary probes that we sent sunward, like Cassini.

Via Indy Tom

Killer Bots

UPDATE: THIS IS FAKE NEWS, though it certainly could be possible in the new future.

The text on the opening screen from another video that uses this same clip:
StratoEnergetics LIVE STREAM
Buenos Aires Event
TV Truck 02
I've cut the video off just past the 2 minute mark because I don't know what the rest of it is. The first couple of minutes look like a real presentation of a real product, and it's scary enough without tacking on a bunch fake news for the sake of fear mongering.

The guy on the stage must have a great deal of confidence in his company and their product. I don't think I'd even want to be on the same planet with one of those things. Oh, wait, I already am. I don't like this, not at all.

There might not be any effective countermeasures available right now, but I am sure people will be working on them. Shotgun might work. Really big Styrofoam helmets might work. Butterfly nets. We shall see.

Via Detroit Steve

Update: previous post about another swarm of military robot drones.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Grace Marks

Alias Grace | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

We've started watching this mini-series and it's pretty good. Grace Marks emigrates from Ireland in the mid 1800's and gets a position in a fine house in Toronto. Just the story about what her life was like is fine, but then there's the murder, and we have to find out how that happened. At this time Canada has just suffered a couple of failed rebellions, so there's a little politics in the mix as well.

The Blue Diamond Affair

Saudi Blue Diamond
A comment on my previous post got me looking into this. It's quite the story involving royalty, peasants, theft, murder, corrupt government officials, fouled diplomatic relations and it's been going on for 28 years. Wikipedia has a summaryVice News has slightly fuller story (2 years old).

While I was poking around I also came across this entertaining story about another blue diamond.

Necklace Repair

My wife brings me this necklace, telling me that the chain is screwed up. I look at it but I can't find anything wrong, so she explains that the pendant is supposed to slide on the chain, but somehow it has gotten hooked onto one particular link and doesn't slide anymore. So I look a little closer.

The ring that connects the pendant to the chain  (shown edge on in the above picture) is not solid, there is a tiny break in it that is held closed only by the strength of the ring. This break has widened just enough to let one side of one of the flat links slide through, which has effectively trapped the ring on that link. The cure is to slide that one side of the link back through the gap and then squeeze the ring a bit to close the gap. However, slide the other side of the link through the gap and it will come completely off the chain. A little topological puzzle that had me scratching my head for a couple of minutes. Of course, it didn't help that everything involved is so frigging tiny and my eyes aren't as good as they used to be. I need some magnifying lenses if I am going to do any more of this kind of work.

The three colors of stones in the picture were a complete surprise. In real life they are all the same color as the center stone. I suppose the having the flash go off right three inches in front of it might be the reason for the colors showing differently. It's only costume jewelry. If was made of real gemstones the ring would have been solid and there would not have been a problem.

May the (Virtual) Force be with you

But beware, it might be agin you.

I tried to post this music video on Reddit, but was refused by their bot who pointed out that this video has had 12 million views, which surprised me because I had never heard of these guys. Of course my ears are shielded from most sources of noise, so I guess that is not surprising.

On the other hand, this tune, which I like as much or maybe more, has fewer than a thousand views. As Marcel points out, there are forces at work in the virtual world that we are completely unaware of.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roberta X has the Right of It

I've been out wandering around on the interwebz, and there is a great of carping, pissing and moaning about this that and the other, and frankly, I've heard enough. Roberta X posted an excellent summary on her blog a couple of months ago and I haven't seen anything better, so I'm reposting it here, even though she got mad at me the last time I did it and promised not to do it again, but dang, everybody needs to hear it. So here it is:
     Not up to anything too blamed fancy this morning.  The extent to which people are willing to carry water for utterly odious ideas, groups and systems of governance that have already been tried and found to result in pain, misery and death, often directly at the hands of what passes for government, depresses me.
     Look, Churchill was right.  "Democracy" in its various forms as seen around the world today sucks; but it sucks far less for more people than any other system.  "Freedom" is messy, ugly, undisciplined; the only thing worse is government control of the press, of what you can do or say in public.  "Capitalism" is a huge mess -- people often wind up working for lousy wages, employers often end up with lousy workers, distribution of material goods is uneven and it only too easily corrupts or becomes corrupt itself -- yet it has improved the lot in life of more people, more rapidly, than any other system of economics that has been tried.
     Democracy, freedom, capitalism: all deeply imperfect.  Sloppy.  Messy.  Inelegant. But they're better than any of the alternatives, by direct and bloody experiment.
     People died finding this stuff out.  They died in droves, desperately.  They didn't volunteer to be a part of the experiment.  They died of wars and autocrats and needless shortages, they died of prejudice and superstition and because it was easier to ignore them to death.  They're still dying of it and you can read about it in the news any day of the week.
     And yet we're still having to argue -- and worse! -- with dewy-eyed idealists and cold-eyed haters about ideas that were shown to be horrible nonsense when their grandparents were in diapers.
Roberta can hate me if she wants. I still love her.  I think it's safe to say that, she lives a couple of thousand miles away, I don't expect to see her anytime soon.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Genesis Ether Mining

Building a Cryptocurrency Mining Farm / Genesis Mining #EvolveWithUs - The Series Episode 2

I put $120 into Genesis Ether Mining a couple of months ago. I've been checking periodically to see if it had produced any results, but nothing has shown up. They seem to be a new outfit that is having normal start-up problems, so I cut them some slack, but like I said, it's been a couple of months so I inquired, and now I have some numbers. Since they sat on my money for a month to ensure that it was legit and not some from some scammer, the money has only been at work for a month, but in a month it has produced $5.38. Theoretically speaking. To actually get the money, I have to transfer it to an electronic 'wallet', and from there I should be able to get actual moola.

I dutifully set up the wallet, but nothing had gotten transferred. Seems there are transaction fees, so Genesis doesn't transfer any funds until you have at least $15 to transfer.

Anyway, $5 a month times 12 months is $60, so in two years I should double my money. Assuming of course that this whole thing doesn't collapse like the house of cards it is.

The numbers on the Genesis website don't give you the total, so I copied the numbers (no, I didn't copy them down by hand, I used a mouse to highlight the data and then used Ctrl-C to copy them) and then pasted them in a Google spreadsheet and then used the sum function to add the numbers up.

Had a bit of a problem with the dates. Genesis, being in Iceland uses a European date format: day, month, year, which might be fine in Iceland, but it doesn't cut it in my little corner of the world. So I fussed and farted and looked in the help, but nothing seemed to work, so I ended up writing a nasty little function to take apart the old date and then put it back together the way I wanted it, something like:
When I was done, I was going to go back tell them that one of their supplied solutions didn't work, but this time I found an answer that said date and time formats depended on location, and I didn't want to open that can of worms, so I stopped.

Genesis Mining website

Update an hour later. Replace picture of cool computer with Genesis video because it has a view of their campus.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

You're In The Army Now

How Did He Look & You're In The Army Now with Abe Lyman and His Californians

Comrade Misfit posts a video that starts with a snippet of this tune and boom, old memories pop up. My dad used to sing this song, or snatches of it. Finding a straight up version from the old days took some looking. A number of people have reimagined the tune with all kinds of different music, none of which I have ever heard.
You're In The Army Now
Performed by Abe Lyman and his Californians; V ocals by The Chorus
Recorded November 27, 1940

We're in the Army now.
We’re not behind a plow.
We’ll never get rich diggin’ a ditch.
We're in the Army now.

We're in the Army now.
We're in the Army now.
We'll never get rich on the salary which
We get in the army now.

We're eating Army grub.
And let me tell you bub,
We know what it means
They're feeding us beans
We're in the Army now.

We're marching everywhere.
It's getting in our hair.
We follow the rules
and follow the mules
We're in the Army now.

We're in the Army now.
We're making dough, and how!
On twenty-one bucks
Who says we're bucks?
We're in the Army now.

We left our wives behind
I wonder if they mind?
Who gives a hang?
We're with the gang,
We're in the Army now.

No more we'll have to hear,
"How late will you be, dear?"
We go where we please.
And do what we please.
We're in the Army now.

We're happy as can be.
Have lots of company.
The cooties at night
Drop in for a bite.
We're in the Army now.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Martin Scorsese

Martin Scorsese on the set of Goodfellas
Kirkorian writes about Martin and Raging Bull and some kind of kerfluffle about which movie is better than which. Some people seem to think Raging Bull is a great movie. I hated it. It might be a very well made movie, but the hero was an effing jerk, and I don't need that kind of crap. I suppose it's good to have a movie that portrays an effing asshole for what he is, but I ain't gonna watch it. I've run into enough real life jerks that I don't need any fictional ones. Why anyone would willingly watch this movie is beyond me.

I have seen several of the movies Martin has made, and all of them, except Raging Bull were pretty great. Although I didn't watch the entire movie, I included Raging Bull on this list to show where it fits in the chronology.

Martin Scorsese
Producer | Director | Actor | Other
Born: November 17, 1942 in Queens, New York City, New York, USA

Robert DeNiro was in four of these films, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joe Pesci (professional twerp), Frank Vincent (typecast as a gangster) and Charles Scorsese (Martin's father) were in two each.

Villains and Heroes

Hidden Figures | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

Hidden Figures is about colored women working for NASA at the beginning of the space age. We watched it this evening on HBO-GO.


I have a problem with my eyes. Every time something good happens they start leaking water. While we were watching this movie this evening I don't think they ever stopped. Kind of annoying. It's 1961 in Virginia and segregation is still a fact of life. Colored folks ride in the back of the bus, there are separate restrooms and water fountains for whites and coloreds. I'm feeling a little privileged right now, I never ran into any of that. 'Course I never lived in the South, nor in any neighborhoods that were not almost exclusively white. Wait, that's not true. I did live in a black neighborhood in Houston for maybe a year back around 1975.

Actors Main Characters


I finally gave up on The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. It's a pretty great story, except for a couple of barbarians who keep appearing and causing all kinds of grief. Stupid and brutal is their short and complete description. The book is like a thousand pages long and I only have about 100 pages to go, but when the big shithead reappears for the umpteenth time I finally decided I had had enough and put it down.