Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Friday, December 29, 2017

Quote of the Day

Chrissy Teigen
They keep saying the person had a United ticket. We are on ANA. So basically the boarding pass scanner is just a beedoop machine that makes beedoop noises that register to nowhere - Chrissy Teigen
Chrissy is flying from L.A. to Japan. Four hours into the flight they discover one passenger who is supposed to be on a different plane, also flying from L.A. to Japan.

Catalysts

I came across a claim on Quora that Epicatalysis is really wonderful, so I go look it up on Wikipedia, but the explanation is totally opaque. I eventually found a decent explanation here. To get some background I start reading about catalysts and I dug up this stuff, all from Wikipedia. Turns out it doesn't help explain epicatalysis at all, but it does make some interesting reading.

Fritz Haber (9 December 1868 – 29 January 1934)
1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Fritz Haber was a German chemist who received the Nobel Prize for his invention of a method to synthesize ammonia from nitrogen gas and hydrogen gas. Haber, along with Max Born, proposed the Born–Haber cycle as a method for evaluating the lattice energy of an ionic solid.

Haber is also considered the "father of chemical warfare" for his years of pioneering work developing and weaponizing chlorine and other poisonous gases during World War I. Second Battle of Ypres (World War I) was the first mass use by Germany of poison gas on the Western Front.

Haber actively recruited physicists, chemists, and other scientists to the gas warfare unit. Future Nobel laureates
  • James Franck, 
  • Gustav Hertz, and 
  • Otto Hahn 
served as gas troops in Haber's unit.

In his studies of the effects of poison gas, Haber noted that exposure to a low concentration of a poisonous gas for a long time often had the same effect (death) as exposure to a high concentration for a short time. He formulated a simple mathematical relationship between the gas concentration and the necessary exposure time. This relationship became known as Haber's rule.

During the 1920s, scientists working at his institute developed the cyanide gas formulation Zyklon A, a predecessor to Zyklon B, the brand name of a German gas pesticide that was used during the Holocaust.


Carl Bosch (27 August 1874 – 26 April 1940)
1931 Nobel prize in Chemistry
Carl Bosch, nephew of spark plug man Robert Bosch, was a German chemist and engineer. He was a pioneer in the field of high-pressure industrial chemistry and founder of IG Farben, at one point the world's largest chemical company.

From 1909 until 1913 he transformed Fritz Haber's tabletop demonstration of a method to fix nitrogen using high pressure chemistry into an important industrial process to produce megatons of fertilizer and explosives. The fully developed system is called the Haber–Bosch process. His contribution was to make this process work on a large industrial scale. To do this he:
  • discovered a practical catalyst
  • designed large compressors and safe high-pressure furnaces
  • developed a means to provide pure hydrogen gas in quantity as the feedstock
  • developed a cheap and safe means to clean and process the product ammonia
The first full-scale Haber-Bosch plant was erected in Oppau, Germany (now part of Ludwigshafen). The process enabled the economical synthesis of large amounts of ammonia which fueled a revolution in industry and agriculture. This large scale production of ammonia led to increased agricultural yields throughout the world.

Irving Langmuir (January 31, 1881 – August 16, 1957)
1932 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Irving Langmuir was an American chemist and physicist. His most famous publication is the 1919 article The Arrangement of Electrons in Atoms and Molecules in which he outlined his concentric theory of atomic structure. While at General Electric from 1909 to 1950, Langmuir
  • advanced several fields of physics and chemistry
  • invented the gas-filled incandescent lamp (Edison's bulb was evacuated)
  • invented the hydrogen welding technique
  • won the Nobel Prize for his work in surface chemistry
The Langmuir Laboratory for Atmospheric Research near Socorro, New Mexico, was named in his honor, as was the American Chemical Society journal for surface science called Langmuir.

Gerhard Ertl (born 10 October 1936)
2007 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Gerhard Ertl is a German physicist and a Professor emeritus at the Fritz-Haber-Institut in Berlin, Germany. Ertl’s research laid the foundation of modern surface chemistry. His detailed explanations of  the molecular mechanisms involved have helped explain how fuel cells and catalytic converters work and why iron rusts.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Wonderful Whirlpool

Last night approaching bedtime my wife informs me that there is no hot water. Well, now is a fine time to tell me Lucille. The water heater has a fancy electronic control box with a little blinky light and it's blinking out error code 6, which means the upper sensor is out of commission. A little Googling turns up this page, which suggests that the connector is weak. It's nothing special, just a small plastic connector for four wires. The contacts look like brass and since we are working with very low voltage a little bit of corrosion could be the culprit. I unplug it and replug it a couple of times but it doesn't help. Now I run into the new improved lighting protocol. You can't relight the pilot light until the thermopile has cooled off enough to stop producing electricity. You can ignite the pilot light but it will only stay lit as long as you hold down the button. Holding it longer, like two minutes instead of one, doesn't help. Let off the button and the flame goes out.

Maybe replugging the connector was not enough, so I use a small jewelers screw driver to push on the sides of the brass barrel connectors hoping to distort them enough that they will scrape the contact surface when I plug it in. I can't tell whether I have actually had any effect. I give the controller ten minutes to cool and try lighting it again. This time the pilot stays lit and the LED is blinking a nice steady 'one'. All is well. Turn the knob to on and whoosh, the burner lights off. Wake up this morning with a tank full of hot water. Mmmmm, hot water, my favorite.

This reminds me that 25 years ago we used to have a similar problem with Multibus-I computers. After they had been running for a while (a couple of years maybe?) they would just quit. The solution was to pull all the boards out and polish the edge connectors with a pencil eraser. I remember bringing at least one computer back to life this way. The thing is those edge connectors were gold plated but they still developed enough tarnish to impeded electrical contact. I haven't seen that kind of problem in years. Has connector technology improved? In any case it looks like not everyone has gotten the memo on how to deal with this.

Blackway

Main characters from Blackway, Anthony Hopkins as Lester, Julia Stiles as Lillian, Alexander Ludwig as Nate and Ray Liotta as the very nasty title character. Picture comes from YouTube trailer.
Shades of Three Billboards. We've got a small town with a nasty character who has got everyone, including the sheriff, terrorized until Lillian demands to know 'what's wrong with you people?" This prompts Lester to get out his shotgun and and set out to put things right. It's not a great movie, but it's not bad. We've got some pretty great characters. It does make you think that vigilante justice might, in some cases, be justified. How many assaults must a man commit before he has used up all available forgiveness? The law has rules, but the law is a blunt instrument. Sometimes a little careful pruning is all that is required.

The movie opens with Lester puttering in his workshop which reminds me entirely of his role in The World's Fastest Indian where he is the old coot tinkering with his motorcycle in his garage.

Julia Stiles earned a place in my pantheon by playing Nicky Parsons in several of the Jason Bourne films.

Metod


Metod (Method) trailer

Another serial killer detective series, this time from Moscow, Russia. Pretty girls, inscrutable language, deranged psychos, what more could you want? Europe seems docile in comparison. I think it's the language that throws us off.

Russia is kind of funny. They are the only country that has given us a run for the money. They might have beaten us too if they had gotten a decent leader instead of that blood-thirsty psychopath Stalin.

The translated subtitles are sometimes a little screwy. Makes me wonder just what the original Russian really means. The subtitles in trailer above are pretty horrible. The ones on Netflix are much better. I tried to turn on subtitles, but it doesn't seem to be working. I have to click on cc and then the flower (gear?) to select Auto-translate, and the scroll down to select English. Kind of a pain, and they don't tell you much.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

More Singapore Lee

Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore, 1959-1990
Came across another item about the former prime minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew, who worked as an attorney at one time. This one is about why there are no juries at criminal trials in Singapore. Kind of goes along with the idea of leading people around by the nose.

Atomic Annie

The M65 atomic cannon's debut with a test round during Operation Upshot-Knothole at the Nevada Test Site, May 25, 1953. National Archives and Records Administration
I remember hearing about the atomic cannon when I was a kid, but I never saw any evidence of it actually being able to deliver an atomic bomb, so when I came across this on Quora, I just had to steal it. Given the size of the first atomic bombs (big and fat), I wondered how big the bore was. Turns out it was only 280mm, which is only about 11 inches, which is considerable less than the bombs dropped on Japan. Shoot, it's not even as big as the 16 inch guns on some of our battleships, like the Iowa

Friday, December 22, 2017

Pic of the Day

1935 Auburn advertisement from the Saturday Evening Post
Via Posthip Scott

Monday, December 18, 2017

Blast From The Past

Mail recovered from the 1955 crash of United Airlines Flight 429
United Airlines Flight 629 was blown up with a dynamite bomb placed in the checked luggage on November 1, 1955. The explosion occurred over Longmont, Colorado. All 39 passengers and five crew members on board were killed in the explosion and crash.
Investigators determined that Jack Gilbert Graham was responsible for bombing the airplane to kill his mother as revenge for his childhood and to obtain a large life insurance payout. Within 15 months of the explosion, Graham—who already had an extensive criminal record—was tried, convicted, and executed for the crime. - paraphrased from Wikipedia
Not quite a year later United Airlines Flight 409 crashed into Medicine Bow Peak in Wyoming, about 100 miles farther north.

The letter was addressed to Posthip Scott's dad and was eventually delivered. Via Posthip Scott.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Do What You Can't


DO WHAT YOU CAN'T

Best video I have seen in a while. I especially like the Titanic / Iceberg analogy. Via Dustbury.

Blogger editing tip: Whenever I embed a YouTube video I put the original title under the video. I do this mostly for help in tracking down a replacement should the original disappear, which happens occasionally. I have a sequence I use that, now that I've done it a zillion times, is almost automatic.
  • Type <center> and Enter at the beginning of a blog post, then click on HTML and the closing tag (</center>) automatically appears.
  • Go to the YouTube video you want to embed, click on SHARE, click on COPY. 
  • Go back to Blogger. Press End and Ctrl-V
  • Now Right-Arrow, Down-Arrow, Shift Down-Arrow, Ctrl-X, Up-Arrow, Left-Arrow, Ctrl-V. This appends a Carriage Return (<br>) to the embed string you just pasted.
  • Cursor down. This takes you to the empty line where you cut the Carriage Return.
  • Switch back to the YouTube tab. Copy the title. 
  • Switch back to Blogger. Type Control-V to paste the title.
  • Click on Compose. Now you have the video with title centered underneath it.
  • Write what you want.

Downtown

Older son and I were walking in downtown Portland this afternoon and we hear this guy talking loudly a few paces behind us. His language is foul and more than a little offensive, but kids these days, what are you gonna do? At first it sounds like he is talking to someone on a cell phone but it soon becomes apparent he is talking to himself, or the world in general, so that squashes any plan I might have to speak to him about his language. I mean, you never know how a conversation with a lunatic is going to go, and this guy sounded righteously angry. I can sympathize, I get angry enough to curse loudly on occasion, but I try to restrain myself when there are other people around. He followed us around a corner and when we came to our destination we stopped and pretended to have a conversation until he had gone by and on down the block.

We passed another guy lying in a doorway, covered with blankets, coughing his lungs out and smoking a cigarette. There were a couple of people sitting on the sidewalk near where I parked my car when I got there. They were lying down and covered with blankets when I left around 3PM. Are they sleeping this early because it's warmer during the day, or because they have nothing else to do?

I wonder about the homeless. I used to think that at least some of them were just down on their luck, but lately I am thinking that perhaps they just aren't up to dealing with modern life, that they are lacking some ability and that lack prevents them being able to keep a roof over their heads. Of course the ability they are lacking might be the patience needed to deal with the welfare bureaucracy, and I can't say as I blame them.

I still think that a negative income tax might be the solution. I came across a YouTube video the other day that was basically supporting the same idea, but something about the presentation just rubbed me the wrong way. It was full of how it would help the poor, and it just sounded like so much garbage. I couldn't watch the whole thing.

And then there is parking. I was able to park on the street in a space that is a loading zone six days of the week, but not on Sunday. But after 1 PM you have to pay ($4 for 2 hours max), at least according to the meter maid who was working nearby. I've spent $10 on parking in Portland this month, which is kind of a trivial amount, being as today's dollar is only worth a tenth of what it was 50 years ago, but the hassle of having to figure out whether you need to pay or not as dictated by signs, signs and more signs, and having to fiddle with the meters and little bits of paper is super annoying. I tell you, it keeps me from going downtown unless I have to.


Politics

Joseph Goebbels, swineherd
I am tired of politics. Back when I was in high school I had a civics teacher who exhorted us to learn about the issues facing our community, state, nation, world, so that come election time we could make informed decisions. Well, that's great, except once you start looking into an issue you find it is more complicated than it originally appeared, so you dig a little deeper hoping to get to the truth of the matter. But you never do, because there is no bottom to these things. It's kind of like archaeology. The more you dig, the more you uncover and the more you find that your initial impression was wrong.

That was 50 years ago when the world was a simpler place. Actually it wasn't, it's just that since then we have added umpteen layers of spin doctoring. Issues are now so obscured with purple bullshit that there is no getting to the bottom of anything anymore.

Only about one-third of the population thinks about much of anything. Most people have simply acquired some form of programming / indoctrination / social conditioning and just go, go, go, and for most people that works just fine. Besides, when you are busy living your life, who has time to think about or research the issues of the day? So what we have is media pundits leading the population around by the nose. If you want to have any effect on an issue, don't bother with research or facts, all your effort needs to be spent producing the most effective propaganda.

I don't like to admit it, but I suspect I also get led around by the nose. Give me a story with a few facts, told by a person speaking in a reasonable tone, and I am inclined to believe them. This is what caused me to choose the wrong candidate for President in every election, wrong in that they lost. We'll have to wait for the judgement of history as to whether the one's that were elected were actually good Presidents.

So if things are not going the way you want, it just means your minister of propaganda isn't doing as good a job as the opposition.


Friday, December 15, 2017

Typesetting

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. ............be 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

Singapore
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

Gangsters

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.

More:
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
Links:

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.