Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Sunday, March 26, 2017

How STOL can you go?

2016 STOL Highlights

If you want to get Far from the Madding Crowd, Alaska is the place to go. If you want to get around in Alaska, an airplane can come in mighty handy. Valdez, where this video was recorded, is about 100 miles east of Anchorage as the crow, or the Piper Cub flies, but 300 miles by car. And most of Alaska doesn't have any roads at all.

STOL (Short Take Off and Landing) is handy when there aren't any FAA approved airports handy. The STOL crowd holds a contest every year. Last year's winner got off the ground in 77 feet and managed to land in 27 feet, which is just five feet more than the length of the airplane.

Valdez, Alaska.
The airport is just visible to the right of the vertical line indicating the location of the town.
I suspect the big mountain on the horizon (to the left of Valdez) is Mt. Blackburn, about 100 miles away.
Via Posthip Scott.

P.S. Far from the Madding Crowd doesn't have anything to do with Alaska, it is set in rural England. I read it some time ago. It was kind of slow going at first, but I stuck with it and eventually I became totally engrossed. It must be a pretty great book as I still recall several scenes from the story.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Richie Rich

Bentley (the car people) have a new ad campaign for selling their over-the-top lux mobiles to people with more money than god, and it starts with this image of Dubai, which has the world's highest concentration of potential Bentley customers. Bentley knows what side their bread is buttered on, and it's the side covered with sand and oil.

The original image has a zillion pixels. You can see it, and pan and zoom, here. Funny thing is that there are almost no people visible. Oh, there are a few people walking around at ground level, but no crowds like you might you see in a real metropolis, that is, one with a climate that makes going outside something you could do without being fried to crisp.

All the windows in all the skyscrapers, at least the ones close enough to provide enough detail, also seem to be devoid of people. Does anybody actually live in all these exotic palaces? Maybe they do, but they are all hiding in air-conditioned inner chambers away from the sun's burning glare. Or maybe they have all flown away to someplace with tolerable temperatures.

But back to the Bentley. You can't have a car ad with the car and it's right there in the center, parked on the roundabout sticking out into the water.

The whole tone, or maybe texture, of this digital image kind of reminds of the video game The Sims. It's like it's not real, but maybe that was the effect they were shooting for.

Dubai is on the Persian Gulf, near the straight of Hormuz.

Via Road & Track

Previous Bentley posts.

High-Speed Ferry Francisco

The Fastest Ship World has ever Seen
“This is certainly the fastest ship in the world,” said Incat managing director Kim Clifford. “Of course there's a few speed boats that could surpass 58 knots, but nothing that could carry 1,000 passengers and 150 cars, and with an enormous duty-free shop on board.”The Francisco is the world's first high-speed ferry that uses liquefied natural gas (LNG) as primary fuel.
I did a little checking, and for its size it may very well be the fastest ship ever. The US Navy built some hydrofoils but they only got up to around 45 knots.

This vessel provides ferry service between Buenas Aires, Argentina and several places along the coast of Uruguay, including Montevideo.

Via Posthip Scott.

Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon

RIAS, Rundfunk im amerikanischen Sektor in German or Radio in the American Sector
Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon is an espionage thriller set in post-WW2 Berlin. Our hero's father got him out of Germany prior to the war. Alex, for that is our hero's name, went to California, wrote a best seller and was living the good life until the HUAC started asking him questions that he refused to answer. No longer welcome in the USA he goes back to his home town in Germany: Berlin.

Brandenburg Gate
It's 1949, the Soviets and the Allies are pushing and shoving, working their way up to the cold war. Somebody in the American intelligence community realizes that Alex could be a valuable asset, never mind that he won't answer the bull-necked Senator's questions, so Alex has friends in the American sector. Because he has communist leanings, he has friends in the Soviet sector as well, and because this is his home town, there are people he knows from back in the day. Whether they are still friends might be in doubt, war changes people.

Adlon Hotel in Berlin, survived the war but burned in 1945
He quickly learns that the Soviet brand of communism is 100% bullshit, which puts him in a bit of bind. The action escalates so quickly it begins to look like a James Bond movie, but more complicated, and with real characters.

Douglas C-54 Skymaster cargo airplanes at Templehof airport.
The Berlin airlift is going on and while it doesn't play a big part in the story, it's quite a story all by itself. I remember hearing about it when I was a kid, but I never realized just how big a deal it was. So they had to fly in some supplies from the West, I mean how many plane loads did they need? There couldn't have been more than a few hundred people living there, I mean most of them got killed in the war, right? Well, no.

Schematic Diagram of Air Lift Routes
There were almost three million people living in Berlin at the time. At one pound of food and two pounds of coal (winter in Berlin is cold) per person, that's like 5,000 tons of material a day. This is when cargo planes were hard pressed to carry five tons, which meant that there were a thousand flights a day, every day for ten months. That's a serious expenditure of effort. It paid off though, because eventually the Soviets relented and the Allies managed to keep hold of half of Berlin.

Using a Geiger Counter on samples in a Wismut mine, c. 1960.
Another situation that bears on the story: the Soviets were mad to build their own atomic bomb and to do that they needed uranium. The only source they knew of at the time were some mines along the Czechoslovakian - German border. They went at it in a typical Stalinesque manner, using forced labor from POW's and criminals and when that wasn't enough they started conscripting regular people. While the conditions were not as bad as the German slave labor operations, they weren't good. Thousands of people died.

WISMUT mine in Thüringen, Germany. The hills are waste material that has been removed from the mine. The two white metal structures are the head ends of the elevators that go down into the mine.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Germany was left with a environmental disaster that they are still working to clean up.


Angela wears a 'deux piece' from Paris. Daring, for 1956. 

We saw this on Netflix about a week ago.

Tetuan, Morocco, 1956. Santiago, a young Spanish lawyer, goes to Tetuan to take care of some legal business.  Just so you know where we are, the movie opens with a conversation that includes this comment from a fellow Spaniard, presumably a lawyer and Catholic:
I do not wish to deal with quarrels between the Moors.
They're twisted people, believe me.
During the course of his investigations, Santiago uncovers some secrets about his past dating back to the time of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). In case you don't remember, Franco and the Nationalists had the backing of the Nazis and the Catholic Church. The Republicans had the backing of the Soviet Union and Ernest Hemingway, who wrote a best seller about his experience there. Another comment about this time:
They were masons. Rats
I've encountered anti-mason rhetoric before, but it seems pretty thin, kind of along the lines of how there is a great conspiracy among the Jews or the Illuminati or the Bilderberg group to run the world for their own nefarious purposes.

Another quote about the Civil War:
- Do you know who won the war?
- Sure.
- Priests won the war, and teachers lost it.
This war has been going on for at least a thousand years, as long as some people have been trying to apply logic and reason to figure out how the world works. On the other side we have those who want things to continue as they have been,  because those methods are tried and proven and, above all, safe. Safe is a relative term however. Society runs, and survives, on traditional rules. Traditional rules may result in an individual's death, but the group will survive. Deviation from the known and accepted may bring calamity down on our heads, and you certainly don't want that, do you, peasant, who cannot think for yourself? 

On the other hand sometimes those new ideas do bring calamity down on our heads. Be careful what you wish for, you might get it.

After Morocco became independent, Spain held onto a couple of enclaves, one of which has the last remaining public statue of Franco in Spain, even though it's in Africa.

I am not sure, but I think the title comes from a Jewish prayer, which kind of ties into the whole Jewish / Masonic Lodge conspiracy thing.

P.S. Looking for a trailer for this movie yesterday, I could not find one on YouTube with English subtitles. I found the one above when I first started this post shortly after we watched the movie.

Friday, March 24, 2017

America's First Satellites

Secret Satellite -- Засекреченный спутник [СУБТИТРЫ]

Sputnik caught us flat-footed, but we jumped in with both feet and embarked on a plan to put our own satellites in orbit. While the Russians were mostly doing it for propaganda purposes, putting dogs and monkeys into orbit, we were trying to do something useful by putting cameras into orbit.

This video is almost an hour long, but it's pretty great, if you have any interest is this sort of thing.

The Russians had their own spy satellites starting in 1961.
The first American Corona satellite went up in 1959.
Previous post on the subject.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Rocket to the Moon

Promotional Poster for Woman in the Moon, a silent movie directed by Fritz Lang, 1929
I'm reading Leaving Berlin by Jospeh Kanon, a great story about espionage in post WW2 Berlin. Lots of bits and pieces get drug into the story, which prompts me to go looking around and this is one place I wandered into.

Fathers of modern rocketry:
Just because a person is an expert or is talented in one particular field does not mean you should accept their opinion in other areas. The New York Times poo-poo-ed Goddard's ideas about space flight. The Germans embraced Oberth's ideas. As a result, by the time WW2 rolled around, we had JATO rockets (little, disposable rockets used to give airplanes a boost on takeoff) and the Germans had V-2's. Just because some rich guy runs a big newspaper does not automatically make him a rocket science expert.

On the other hand, Germany was using slave labor to produce their rockets. Slavery in and of itself is not so bad, the West is full of wage slaves, but the German treatment of their slave work force was particularly horrendous. The workers were systematically starved to death. Ten to twenty thousand people died in the V-2 factories. Just because some guy is a rocket science expert does not automatically make him a good person.

The American defense department pretty much ignored Goddard during the interwar period. Since they failed to develop their own rocket scientists, when the war ended they were desperate to absorb German ones, never mind that they were probably war criminals. Just because some guys are in charge of big government operations does not automatically make them experts on any subject outside of administering big government projects, like perhaps, maybe, rocket science. Stupid shitz.

On the other hand, while Goddard was a rocket science expert, he may not have been very media savvy, or maybe he just didn't have the right connections, or maybe he pissed somebody off. Hard to tell. The rich and powerful are a clan unto themselves. You want to play in the big leagues, you need to have some heavy hitters on your side. Nowadays you might be able to accomplish something with the internet, but that still requires at least a smattering of media smarts.

Hermann Oberth designed the rocket for Fritz Lang's movie. I found some photos that I liked. I was hoping I could just refer you to a website that had a bunch, but I couldn't find one. All the sites I looked at only had a couple of good shots, so here we go. The movie is on YouTube, the subtitles are in German.

Our leading lady with a plot of their planned trajectory.

A meeting with a model of the rocket.

Close up of the model.

Rocket nearing completion in the assembly building.

Rocket leaving the assembly building for the launch pad.
Now we leave the realm of rocket science and venture into fantasy land.

Interior of the space ship. Model for I don't know how many science fiction stories.

On the moon. At least they landed their rocket standing up, not horizontally like an airplane. 

Our lady on the moon. The far side of the moon has a breathable atmosphere, don't you know. 

It's a movie, they are not really on the moon.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Small Business Opportunity

Cadillac Hood Ornament
Buy an old car, preferably a big old American land cruiser. You don't want to pay too much because there might be nothing left when we get done. It doesn't have to run or drive well, though it would help if you could drive it to our venue (what a stupid word. I don't think this word was part of our common vocabulary until maybe 10 or 20 years ago. What did we used to use? Theater, maybe? Stadium? Something a little more specific than venue). It would also help if the body was in decent shape. In other words, it needs to look good, but that's about all.

Now you go to your local ceramic shop and commission a hood ornament size statue of Donald (and / or Hillary, depending on your mood) and you order up a hundred or so plaster replicas. A little paint might make them more attractive. They need a hole in the base so they can be dropped down over a peg, a peg that you will stick in the hood of your car, right where the hood ornament goes.

When these preparations are complete, you drive downtown, somewhere where there a lot of people. Pick up a baseball bat along the way. Pull one of your statuettes out of the back seat and drop him on the post on the hood. Put up a sign: $10 to take a crack at the Donald and wait for your customers to queue up. I think you could probably make a fortune, possibly even enough to pay for the car, which might very well get destroyed by overenthusiastic customers.

Plaster-of-Paris might not be the best material. Whatever they use to make exploding golf balls might be better.

Twisting DNA

Why Women Are Stripey

They (women) aren't actually stripey, at least they don't look that way because we don't have chromosome vision.  I liked the animation, and the bit about the cellualar level fight between the two X-chromosomes was interesting. Makes me wonder if the same thing is going with all the other normally paired chromosomes.

The part that isn't explained here, and which I haven't seen anywhere, is how DNA gets untwisted enough that it can be read. Because DNA isn't just twisted like a rope, it's curled up, and then recurled, and then curled some more, as this video shows.

✔ DNA Replication Animation - Super EASY

(, shown on the bottom of the video doesn't exist, though there is a YouTube channel with that name.)

It might be that the DNA does get completely untwisted when only a short segment needs to get copied. In that case perhaps only a short segment gets untwisted, kind of like when you are trying to splice a rope or cable.

Fastest loadsling splicer...1 1/8" X 28' .in 3min 20sec (greasy rope).DCR (

Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Fiat 126P
Syafolee got a postcard from Poland with a picture of a car on it (above). The card is from Centrum Promocji Motoryzacji, a Polish outfit that deals with cars. They have a website. They have several makes and models listed, including the infamous Trabant and something called the Syrena, that looks kind of cool. The Syrena they have pictured is a prototype sports model from 1960. It never made it to production, but there is also a more utilitarian model that was the standard Polish car for decades. Two stroke engines, two or three cylinders, much like an old Saab. Looking on YouTube I found this clip:

Funter , Arrinera Hussarya , Syrena , Syrenka , Car Project's from Poland

Looks like car culture is flourishing in Poland. The tune is Heart Afire by Defqwop featuring Strix.

Roy-Al with Cheese


Just something that came across my ear holes this AM. Pulp Fiction will never die.

52 years (and 3 days) ago

Время первых — Трейлер #2 (2017)

50 years ago a Russian made the first space walk. They had a couple of problems. It's a miracle they survived. I mean 10 G's of force? Motherboard has the story. Now they have made a movie about it (trailer above). It will be released next month. Via Posthip Scott.

Voskhod 2 commemorative stamp. Image: Russian Federation

Voskhod 2 with inflatable airlock

Interior view of the Voskhod descent module.  Note the simple control panel and Vzor porthole to the left. (Novosti Press Agency). I suspect all the orange stuff is spray on foam insulation.

Belyayev and Leonov shown inside the cramped Voskhod descent module cabin.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Stringless Yo-Yo!

Stringless Yo-Yo!

Yo-yo's are nothing new, but yo-yo's that are designed to detach from the string, that's something new. New to me anyway.

Uniberp's Latest Project

Big Bag O' Skunks
Uniberp reports on his latest project:
I'm rehabbing a tattered 19th century cottage a block from Muskegon Lake, in a decent neighborhood of modest homes. I bought it for about $30 a foot, plus an oversized 28x30 garage on a double lot. I am 3 weeks into demolition. Triage demolition is a couple weeks to completion. It will require total replacement of the rear sill, which a 10x10 beam, notched for joists. I'll figure out how that will go together when I see it. Prep is supporting the back wall top plate, supporting the joists, then removing the wall pretty much entirely.The garage, although with a good slab and heavy fiberglass door, has severe roof rot, although the trusses are intact. I replaced 10 sections of decking( need 15 more), and will put a $1200 steel roof on it. Colonial Red, I think. 
I bought it because I am bored and bitter on weekends. Now, instead, it is all so familiar, as I drag myself to my old truck full of tools and drive a half hour to the job site. Once there it is fairly automatic. If I am strong and fresh I tackle an improvement. If not, I shovel and sweep mindlessly. I last about 6-7 hours, then confusion and tiredness forces a stop. 
The dump is 13 miles away and $25. I have 10 steel barrels on a 10x5 trailer that I fill and 2-wheel up the ramp. I fill them as best I can on Saturday afternoon and Sunday, and make it to the dump by 1 pm the following Saturday. Monday morning I go into work feeling stiff, but already knowing I did my own work for the week.  
It has real potential, as a flip, or a cottage, or for retirement. Space for a big garden, although very sandy. 2 block walk to the marinas, parks, bars and restaurants, but as yet I am too filthy to go anywhere but straight home to the shower.  
I should have the thing together with basic plumbing in a few weeks. I ripped it all out, since it was what rotted the back sill and floors. I have an electrician installing a new service and panel this week.  
Once that is in place, it will be functional, and design can begin. I have lots of extra time during the week to plan the engineering and layout. and that helps, because I am so sore I can only move slowly. It takes me a couple of days to recover fully, even though I use all the safety equipment: gloves, goggles, real respirator, hardhat, Still some gets through and gagging on dust is exhausting. 
I don't even want to talk about the skunk abatement, suffice to say that I believe I took out the entire regional population.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Idiot Plot

On a recommendation, we tried watching The OA last night, but it didn't take me long to call 'crap' and pull the plug. Coincidentally, Iaman sent me a link to Wikipedia's Idiot Plot article:
In literary criticism, an idiot plot is "a plot which is kept in motion solely by virtue of the fact that everybody involved is an idiot" and where the story would otherwise be over if this were not the case. It is a narrative where its conflict comes from characters not recognizing, or not being told, key information that would resolve the conflict, often because of plot contrivance. The only thing that prevents the conflict's resolution is the character's constant avoidance or obliviousness of it throughout the plot, even if it was already obvious to the viewer, so the characters are all "idiots" in that they are too obtuse to simply resolve the conflict immediately.
 We didn't get far enough into the story to find out whether the cast were all idiots or not, but there was certainly some bad crazy, and I ain't got time for that.

ORNETTE - TAKE YOUR TIME - 360° Music Video - with LYRICS

ORNETTE - TAKE YOUR TIME - 360° Music Video - with LYRICS

I dunno about the tune, pleasant enough I suppose. Maybe it will grow on me, but the video, that's something else. When you start the video, a gray circle will appear in the upper left corner. Click on it to pan around the room while they are playing. Shouldn't be surprised, but I am. We've had video for long time, and we've had whole world viewing for a while now, so it was inevitable that someone would combine the two. I'm just surprised that it would show up in my inbox.

I thought I had posted Ornette before, but I couldn't find anything. I may have gotten her confused with Cat Power.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Chinese Steam

Chinese steam - SY 0770 struggles on slippery rails

I first saw this video a year ago and left this comment on the YouTube page:
Surprising video. The opening scene looks like someone's model railroad. The juddering noise that the train makes when the wheels slip was unexpected. Did you notice the way the second trike tilted when it ran over a rock just before parking? The driver gets out, walks around the back, picks up the rock and puts in front of the left rear wheel. I always thought the chuffing of the steam engine was from steam expended from the cylinders, but watching the wheels slowly turning while the engine chuffs away tells me that is not the case.
Today I got a reply from Varinki that explains the chuffing noise:
 The fast continuous chuffing is the exhaust from the air brake pump.
An air compressor! It's obvious when you think about it. Trains use air brakes, which means you need an air compressor, and since you are running a steam engine what else would you use to power it besides steam?

8 1/2" Cross Compound Compressor.  The steam cylinders are at the top and the air compressor cylinders are on the bottom.  The high pressure steam and low pressure air cylinders are on the right.
These air compressors are quite a hunk of machinery in their own right, but compared to the locomotive they are minuscule, which is why they are often overlooked. I think you can see the one in the video after the 5 minute mark. At 5:45 is just above the motorcyclist's helmet.

The man who made this video, Wolfgang Cloessner, was a bit of a player in the steam engine world. He died two years ago.

Come to think of it, if your train needs any electrical power you are going to have a steam powered electrical generator as well.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Curse You, Spring

I've been feeling pretty listless this week. I put up one big post on Sunday and some small ones on Monday, and then a couple of easy ones, and that was basically it. I just haven't been feeling it, to use the vernacular.

Being March, it's been raining, a lot. Last Sunday though we had a few hours of actual nice weather, so nice that I actually went outside and puttered in the yard a bit.

Since Mr. Broken Ankle is on the mend, my stress level has gone down enough that I have enough energy to resume my stair climbing program (20 minutes a day, up two flights of stairs and then down with about ten to fifteen feet of level walking in between each flight). Don't quite understand the connection here. Was it really the stress that put a stop to my exercise program, or was it some other issue, like a low grade virus?

Anyhoo, two of those days I used the outside stairs as part of my route. 50 degrees F is not balmy, but it's warm enough if you are working, and climbing stairs falls under the category of work for me.

Costco's version of Zyrtec
The comeuppance was that I didn't fall asleep until six AM this morning. Not sleeping, and being low on mental energy led to pondering, and that led to me thinking that maybe all this outdoor activity this week has stirred up my allergies and that's what's giving me so much grief. So I took a Zyrtec and I've been sleeping off and on all day long.

My experience with hayfever started in the sixth grade when we moved to Ohio and I went out into a nearby field filled with Timothy grass and my eyes swole up. I vaguely remember it was kind of annoying, but I solidly remember my mother being very upset about it.

I started fighting back with pills of various sorts. Could Chlor-trimeton be one of them? (Yes, it could.) Fifteen years later, when I lived in Austin, I started getting allergy shots. Near as I can tell there are two basic types of these things. One is cortisone and lasts for months, and the other is some kind of jungle joy juice that is made up from all the stuff you are allergic too. How do they figure out what you are allergic to? The infamous skin scratch test.

Lil Abner Kickapoo Joy Juice
They put a few drops of a selection of jungle joy juice on your arm, maybe as few as six, maybe as many as three dozen, prick the skin under each drop and they sit back and wait for you to squirm. It's kind of a curious process (sitting months and miles away from having had it done). Most of the drops sit there without causing any more reaction that a drop of water, but some will start itching so bad that I will want to start gnawing my arm off,

I continued with the allergy shots up until a year or two ago. They were kind of a nuisance, having to drive to Beaverton, hang around for a bit, and deal with the bills when they came. But I also used to get sinus infections, usually one big one in December. Some of them were real doozies. One got so bad that the side of my skull swole up enough that it was pushing on me eyeball and giving me double vision. It was so bad I went to the eye doctor and a got special lenses to compensate. I still don't really understand what happened. Weird, man. Eventually it went away and I am back to my normal (ha!) self and only need my $5 reading glasses for reading. The upshot was that if I stayed on track and got my allergy shots every couple of weeks like I was supposed to, I didn't get these sinus infections. So I got the shots.

The Hulk
Nowadays we have Claritin and Zyrtec, drugs that didn't exist 50 years ago*, or at least they weren't approved for mass consumption, and I'm retired, so I can sleep whenever I want, or at least whenever my family will let me. Sleep is probably the biggest weapon I have in my arsenal to fight sinus infections. And besides, if I am short of sleep my personality undergoes a dramatic shift. I become like David Banner (the Hulk) when he gets angry. So I try to get enough sleep.

The bad part of all this is that I haven't really had any of what you might call normal hay fever symptoms this week. I've just been a little low on mental energy. In the absence of any overt symptoms, could it really be hay fever? Does it matter if I don't have any symptoms, but taking Zyrtec lets me sleep? We shall see, providing of course that I remember to take my drugs. Remembering to take care of things can be difficult when you are short on sleep.

P.S. I used to take Benadryl. Took it for years, mostly to sleep. Probably not a good idea to take it day-in, day-out year after year, which is what I was doing. Prednisone was the drug I used to clear up my sinus infections. If I was a mess, taking it had no noticeable effect other than I got better. If I wasn't that sick, taking it would jack me up (overly energize me). Not a very pleasant feeling. Claritin doesn't do anything for me, at least not that I've noticed. Perhaps a more careful trial is in order. I also used to take Sudafed a lot, but Sudafed is a decongestant, which dehydrates you, and drinking dehydrates you, which leads to imbalance in electrolytes, which led to muscle spasms. Great fun.

* Claritin came on the market in 1993, Zyrtec in 1995.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Making the World Safe for Democracy

My niece at Fort Benning Georgia

Catastrophe Imminent?

Vader 404
Got an email this morning from Google (message number (WNC-655201) telling me that a bunch of URL's aren't working. However, all these URL's go to my blog, which is hosted on Blogger, which belongs to Google.So why are you telling me, Google? Get your own house in order!

I tried the FETCH tool, and it failed to find the referenced page. However (2), I was able to pull up the page directly.

I would write this all off as a glitch, except that yesterday afternoon nothing was working for about five minutes.

Has the internet routing mechanism grown so big and complex that it is falling apart? Are the Russians (or maybe the Chinese) deliberately making trouble? Or has Skynet become self aware? Inquiring minds want to know!

P.S. This forum wants me to select a category for this post, but since I am outside the circle of wagons, I have no clue as to what category this should fall under (Security, malware & hacked sites? Where's Incompetence?), I so put it under Chit-chat.

P.P.S. Five minutes later and already one response, which points here.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Let's Go To War

$200 War Savings Bond Series E
WW2 was hugely expensive. It was financed by the sale of some umpteen zillion dollars of War Bonds. The U.S. Government financed one of the biggest advertising campaigns in history in order to sell these bonds. When you add up the totals, it looks like every man, woman and child bought $2,000 worth of War Bonds over the course of the war (four years). This was back when the average wage was $2,000 per year.

There are all kinds of stories about little old ladies and kids saving up their pennies to buy War Bonds, but I don't think it was great mass of people who financed the war. I think it was probably the richest 1% who bought the bulk of the bonds. If you added up all the bonds that working people bought it probably wouldn't have amounted to a hill of beans.

Now if this is true, and I don't have a shred of evidence to support my position, why would you need this huge advertising campaign? I mean the advertising campaign is going to hit everyone, but it's mostly going to be targeted at the working stiffs. They could buy all the bonds they want, but it's not going to finance WW2 like the government wanted.

I suspect the whole point of this huge advertising campaign was to get everyone to agree that supporting the war effort was a good and necessary thing. And from everyday social interactions, this commitment and agreement eventually percolated up through all the social classes, and the 1%-ers eventually came to see that it was a good thing and forked over the zillions of dollars the government needed.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Truck Drivin' Man

Commander Cody - Truck Drivin' Man

Talking to Iaman, who spends a great deal of his time criss-crossing the Southwest U.S.A. in his pick-em up truck, and this tune popped into my head. Commander Cody has been here before.

Rocket Science

Why Do Ion Thusters Use Xenon? KSP Doesn't Teach.....

Since I have been studying chemistry, I've started to take note of specific uses for specific elements. (It helps that Scott uses the word 'specific' in his video.) I mean it's kind of weird. We've got this periodic table of elements and supposedly elements that are adjacent in the chart have some similar properties, but it seems that those similarities are vastly overshadowed by their differences. Which makes the fact that we even have a periodic table pretty fricking amazing.

What is Hall Effect and How Hall Effect Sensors Work

Hall Effect Thruster sounds like something I should understand, after all Hall Effect Sensors are everyday items. Shoot, the ABS in our 1995 Ford Windstar used Hall Effect Sensors for measuring wheel speed. Your keyboard probably uses Hall Effect Sensors to determine when you have pressed a key, assuming of course that you are even using a real keyboard. I dunno how many people are reading this on their smart phones, but what am I gonna do about it? Yell at the kids? Tell them to
'get off of my lawn'? Yeah, like that's gonna work.

Anyway, I didn't really understand the Hall Effect until I watched this video. I also watched another half a dozen videos on the subject and while the audio track on this one isn't Hollywood perfect, the video is still better than all the others I sampled.

The Hall-effect thruster aboard the European Space Agency’s SMART-1 mission. Launched in 2003, this became the first Hall thruster to be utilized beyond geosynchronous orbit. Photo Credit: ESA
The Hall-effect thruster in the above image is from Experimental Design Bureau (EDB) Fakel of Kaliningrad, Russia. That's twice Russia got mentioned today. Three times if you count the link in my post about cocaine production. The link pointed to a story that came from RT (formerly Russia Today).

Scott Manley (the video up top) has appeared here before.


$500,000 of Calcium - Periodic Table of Videos

Diabolical daughter is taking a chemistry class so, naturally, or perversely, depending on your point of view, I am also studying chemistry. One of things we've been working on is determining how many grams of a product you can expect from a chemical reaction of two compounds, given the initial amounts. This involves calculating the molecular weight of the compounds, which means looking up the atomic mass in the periodic table. Since the atomic mass of an atom is simply the number of protons plus the number of neutrons (electrons weigh so little that we don't even bother with them) you might think that the atomic weight would be a nice round integer as well. But that discounts the isotopes: all elements come in multiple flavors. Any bunch of atoms one element will have the same number of protons, but they will have different numbers of neutrons, so individual atoms may have different weights. The atomic weight is the weighted (heh) average of the masses of all the known flavors / isotopes.

This business of electromagnetic separation of isotopes of Calcium is similar to the process the U.S.A. used to separate U-235 from the mass of refined Uranium.

Quote of the Day #2

Coca Plantation
EL TARRA, Columbia - The coca leaf used to make cocaine has made such a dramatic comeback in this country that plantings now cover more territory than they did before a multibillion-dollar U.S.-sponsored campaign began 16 years go, U.S. and Colombian officials said. - Juan Forero writing in The Wall Street Journal (paywall)
The War on Drugs is never going to go away, it is our very own Forever War. There are too many people on both sides of the fight with a vested interest in keeping things the way they are. Rational discussion has no place in an argument dominated by money.

Quote of the Day

     [P]olitical experts aren’t a very diverse group and tend to place a lot of faith in the opinions of other experts and other members of the political establishment. Once a consensus view is established, it tends to reinforce itself until and unless there’s very compelling evidence for the contrary position. Social media, especially Twitter, can amplify the groupthink further. . . .
    Journalists should recalibrate themselves to be more skeptical of the consensus of their peers. That’s because a position that seems to have deep backing from the evidence may really just be a reflection from the echo chamber. You should be looking toward how much evidence there is for a particular position as opposed to how many people hold that position: Having 20 independent pieces of evidence that mostly point in the same direction might indeed reflect a powerful consensus, while having 20 like-minded people citing the same warmed-over evidence is much less powerful. - Nate Silver on
Via The Wall Street Journal, which is where I read it. I extracted the same bits I found in the paper.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


Arctic Cat Snowmobile
A couple of weeks ago there was a story in the WSJ about snowmobiles that mentioned some of technical advances that have been made, and one of them was turbochargers. Turbochargers have been around for a while, you can buy a production car right off the showroom floor that is equipped with a turbocharger or even two. Hot rodders have been putting them on all kinds of machines, but as far as I know no one has put a turbocharger on a small, mass production engine, like those found in motorcycles or snowmobiles, until now.

P-38 Turbocharger Installation
Anyway this started me musing on the subject and the turbochargers from the WW2 P-38 fighter aircraft popped into my head, so I went digging, and some strange stuff surfaced.

First of all, almost all WW2 aircraft engines were supercharged, which gave them enough boost that they were able to reach altitudes of 25,000 feet (five miles high). When engines were equipped with turbochargers, the turbochargers were added to the existing supercharger arrangement so the engine now had two stage supercharging. The turbo provided the first stage. This moderately compressed air was fed to the supercharger, which compressed it to the point that is was as dense as the air you find at sea level, and fed it to the engine. This two stage compression gave the aircraft enough power to reach 40,000 feet (eight miles high), more or less.

Shane Christopherson and his General Electric turbocharger
The General Electric turbocharger (it is always referred to as the General Electric turbocharger) was a bit of a beast. It was also secret, kind of like the Norden bombsight or RADAR. Early on in the war, we sent some P-38's to Britain, but for some reason (perhaps because we didn't trust the Brits to be able to keep a secret), they weren't equipped with General Electric turbochargers, which had a sizable impact on their performance. I imagine the Brits weren't too happy about this, but beggars can't be choosers, so they took them anyway.

P-47 engine, turbocharger and associated duct work
The P-47 was also equipped with a General Electric turbocharger. The P-47 always looked a little plump, but I figured the designers knew what they were doing, and who knows what kind of complicated stuff was buried in the fuselage. Well, now I know. It was puffed up to accommodate all the duct work needed to connect the engine in the nose with the turbocharger and intercooler in the tail.

The De Havilland Mosquito

Now I'm watching a YouTube video about the De Haviland Mosquito which seems to have been quite an aircraft. It is a British aircraft, so it was not equipped with a General Electric turbocharger, but it still managed to get to high altitudes. How did it do that without a turbocharger? It had a two-stage supercharger, that's how.

Merlin Two-Stage Supercharger
The two-stage superchargers on the Merlin engine were driven by gears. General Electric turbochargers are driven by exhaust gas from the engine. Gears are dense and compact. The duct work needed to connect the engine to the turbo is bulky, but not dense. The weight penalty is probably similar. Duct work is easy to fabricate out of sheet metal. Gears require machine tools and castings to hold them alignment, which means the drive mechanism for a supercharger is going to be more expensive than the duct work for the turbo. On the other hand, the turbo needs to be made from unobtanium in order to withstand the heat from the exhaust gas. Superchargers can be made from regular old metal like aluminum or even iron, if you don't mind the extra mass. I think it is safe to say that the General Electric turbocharger was the forerunner of the General Electric jet engine program.

Bombing of the Gestapo headquarters in the Shellhus, Copenhagen, Denmark in March 1945. A Mosquito pulling away from its bombing run is visible on the extreme left, centre.
de Haviland Mosquito was an all wood airplane, and it you believe everything in the video, you might conclude that it was vastly superior to all of the big, heavy, four-engined bombers (like the Flying Fortress, the Liberator and the Lancaster) that the Allies used for the majority of their bombing raids on Europe. That superior performance was entirely the result of its high speed (fastest WW2 military aircraft), which it was able to attain because of its light weight. It was light because it didn't carry any armor, or gunners or gun turrets. Originally it did not have any guns at all, but once they found out what it could do, they mounted a bunch of guns in the nose.

Twelve O'Clock High

I suppose it was 12 O'Clock High, and my dad's role as a gunner in a B-24, that locked the heavy bomber into the leading role (in my mind) in our war against the Axis. I remember quite vividly how the Japan's Mitsubishi Zero was a light weight, high-performance aircraft whose Achilles' heel was its lack of armor. What all this illustrates is the 'design by committee' syndrome. When the enemy builds a high performance aircraft without any armor, it's because they are not concerned about their pilot's well being, but when we do it and the aircraft is hugely successful, we shove it under the rug because it doesn't fit the narrative that the military industrial complex is trying to sell us.

There are advantages to this approach. The story is vital in order to garner popular support, which you really need in order to win. And building big, heavy airplanes means you need a big, heavy, industrial machine to produce them. And if push comes to shove, you can drop a lot of weight by getting rid of the armor, which is going to make your aircraft perform better, which is what you really need in combat. It's kind of like sandbagging. You carry a bunch of extra weight around with you which makes you look slow and cumbersome, but it makes you stronger, and when it comes to crunch time, you can drop those sandbags and really drop the hammer on your enemies.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Boss Baby

THE BOSS BABY Trailer (2017) Dreamworks Animation Movie HD

Between my duties as cheap bookkeeper, bottlewasher and chauffer, and not getting enough sleep, I haven't been posting much. I have some big ideas simmering on the fringes of my brainpan. Eventually they may make it onto these pages, but for right now, here's a little humor to brighten your day.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Parov Stelar | Booty Swing

Parov Stelar | Booty Swing

I'm drinking Pimm's and listening to Electro Swing on YouTube and this video pops up. I've heard this tune a zillion times before, and I've watched parts of the video, but tonight was the first time that I noticed how good the dancers are and how much work went into producing it. Not only do the dancers have to be able to dance, then need to know umpteen different styles, and then they have be able to repeat this moves on demand. Just looking at all the costume changes wears me out.

Oroville Dam, Part 2

Lake Oroville Spillway March 2, 2017

Little bit of damage to the half-mile long spillway here. You can see the undamaged spillway on Google Maps now. Part 1 here. Via Post-hip Scott.

Blast from the Past

Vickers V.745D Viscount, mid 1960's at Buffalo International Airport
First turboprop powered airliner (1948). Look at how long the engine nacelles are.


“The Keystone XL Pipeline is currently in the process of being constructed, so it does not count as a new, retrofitted, repaired or expanded pipeline,” the White House spokeswoman said. - Politico
All I can say in response is:

cream - i'm so glad

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

New Computer, Again

Grub Boot Loader
My computer bit the dust last week and since the motherboard was less than two months old I said enough of this shit and bought another, newish computer from Amazon for a hundred bucks. It came with Windows 7, which I didn't want, but it was easier to just buy it that way than to look for something more particular. Likewise, it came with a mouse and keyboard that I didn't need either, but who's got time to read the fine print?

Hooked up the hard disk from my old computer to the new one and when it didn't boot I installed a second copy of Linux Mint in a new partition. This evidently fixed whatever was ailing the disk because now it will boot either copy, and when I boot the old copy all the programs I installed and all my files are there still there. Very cool.

I thought about deleting the 2nd copy of Linux, after all it's taking up almost 40 GB of space, but figuring out the steps necessary to accomplish this would mean scanning a bunch of pages of instructions to find the three lines I need and I ain't got time for that. Besides, if it went squirrelly once it might do it again and I'd have to do another installation so we'll just leave it and maybe its ominous presence will be enough to ward off further problems with this disk.

Now all I need to do is convince the boot loader to load the old system instead of defaulting to the new. This requires reading more pages of geeky gibberish but I stumble over something called the grub-customizer, and three commands, complete with all the secret syntax, to be entered at the terminal needed to install it, which I do, and it works, as long as you install it in the right partition which I didn't do the first time so I had to do it a second, but the second time it worked and now it will automatically boot the system I want. So I am happy. For the moment.


I've gotten out of the habit of reading the paper because The Oregonian only shows up twice a week now. But it showed up today, and these two comics tickled my funny bone, so I'm sharing.


2013 Tony Award Show Clips: Matilda

Saw this show at Keller Auditorium last night. Great fun! Because it is a musical there was a bunch of singing and because my ears are not in tune with the singers voices, much of it was incomprehensible. No matter, the story came through as well as all the jokes. Mr. & Mrs. Wormwood (Matilda's parents) and Miss Trunchbull (her teacher) were done as caricatures, and it would be hard to find worse people to be in charge of kids.

Some people were impressed with the lyrics from the songmeister, Tim Minchin.  You can listen to the songs and read the lyrics on YouTube, or read the lyrics as text and listen to advertising here.


An artistic representation of LSD (in blue) fitting into
a serotonin receptor (the white ribbon). Bryan Roth
The guverment is hatching an evil mind control plot. Oh, wait, that's what the news media does. Here the NIH is poking around in molecular chemistry. The linked story gives a brief overview of what they have learned, but it poses more questions than it answers. They give names to some chemical constructs, but no explanation. Feel free to look them up and study them on your own time. That can be done with some time and money (for text books / academic access). This stuff is obscure enough you aren't going to find it on Facebook or any of those other useless social sites.

The questions that come to my mind is how they devil did they come by this information? How many people have been working on it for how long? What kind of machines did they use to get their images and other data? What kind of techniques did they use get the samples to a place where they could analyze them? How much of it was done in a laboratory using test tubes and petri dishes, and how much was done in a cluttered office, hunched over a computer keyboard?

Dr Becky Smethurst
For example, I'm watched a video about Dr Becky Smethurst, a woman astronomer, and this scene pops up (above, at the 7:38 mark) and look at the size of that display! I would like to have a display that size, and I could have one if I were willing to spend the money, but I'm not. What I have is perfectly adequate, or at least I tell myself it is. Of course, that's what I told myself when back when VGA was all the rage. With 640 by 480 you could get 80 columns of text on the screen, which was same number of characters you could get on printed page (12 characters per inch with a one inch margin on either side, more or less). That was great until I saw a Super VGA monitor and suddenly my horizons expanded.

I suspect researchers (whether chemists or astronomers) spend 99% of their time getting all their ducks in a row, an instant or two to collect their data and then a bit spent writing up the results. And if you don't get good data on your first attempt, you get to do it all over again.

Original link via Indy Tom.