Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Map of Stable Isotopes

Cool graph of the day.
Map of stable isotopes
The number of protons in an atom's nucleus determine what element it is, i.e. hydrogen, iron, oxygen, etc. The Z axis along the bottom on the graph indicates the number of protons.

The number of neutrons in an atom's nucleus determine what isotope you have of any particular element. The N axis along the left side of the graph indicates the number of neutrons.

Each colored dot plotted in the above graph represents a particular isotope of a particular element. 
Isotopes have different degrees of stability as measured by their half-life. This is indicated by the color of the dot. The key for the colors is listed in the vertical bar to the right of the graph. Black indicates that isotope is stable, white indicates it is unstable. Near the top we have 10 to the 14th power years, which is one hundred trillion years. Near the bottom we have 10 to the -8 power seconds, which is ten nanoseconds.

I suspect that half-lives are measured by the amount of radiation a given mass of an isotope produces. Even a relatively small chunk of matter is going to have trillions of atoms. If your chunk of matter is composed of an isotope with a very long half-life, then in any specific length of time very few atoms will break up, but those break ups will produce radiation which can be measured and so from that data we can estimate the half-life.

Via Detroit Steve

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Posthip Scott sent me a webpage about a UFO encounter. It mentions that some F-15's were scrambled out of PDX last October. Hey, wait a minute, didn't I see some F-15's taking off from PDX? I did, and when was it? It was the same date!
While we were waiting at the traffic light at the corner of 82nd and Air Cargo Road, four F-15's took off, one after another in quick succession. That was pretty cool. I've seen them parked at the airport before, but I've never seen them in motion. While we are marveling at seeing these aircraft take off, four F-16's take off in quick succession. That's the most jet fighters I have seen flying all at one time.
So that's what was happening. Cool. A visit to YouTube turns up video of the fighters taking off:

Four "US Air National Guard" F-15's takeoff from Portland International Airport PDX

4 USAF F-16 Fighting Falcons Takeoff (Afterburner) Portland International Airport (PDX)

I am not a big fan of UFO's. They make for some good entertainment, but nothing you can really hang your hat on. But sometimes I wonder if there isn't some kind of quantum neurological mass hypnosis phenomena going on. Like everyone is projecting very faint brainwaves, but occasionally enough of them sync up and reinforce each other and then they start causing observable effects, like inducing hallucinations or possibly even physical manifestations, like changing the refractive index of a ball of air so it looks like something.

This is one of the things some of the old time philosophers were going on about, how the world is an illusion and what we see and experience is only a shadow of the real world. The philosophers were talking about it ancient Greece, and Ibn Sina was talking about it more recently (about a thousand years ago). I don't buy it, mostly on account of the Arab world falling down into a rathole of philisophical debate which ignored much of what was going on in the 'real' world.

But we really don't know how the universe works. We have a much better idea now than we did in Ibn Cenna's time, but mostly what we've learned is that the world is infinitely more complicated that we ever imagined. So I am willing to allow that quantum neurological mass hypnosis phenomena might actually be a real thing. I am not going to try and hang my hat on it though.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lets Go Hypersonic

Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation

I've been hearing 'hypersonic' for a few years now. I put up a post about it not too long ago. This is the first time I have heard it mentioned in the context of weapons. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. That's what the military does, try to come up with new weapons. Just because all the jabber was about hypersonic airliners and spaceship boosters doesn't mean the military wasn't planning all along to use this new technology to make a new weapon. Silly me for not realizing this.

The video is kind of interesting, the way they cut from one speaker to another. Makes me wonder if there is some kind of subconscious marketing technique at work here. I mean it all sounds very reasonable, or as reasonable as a discussion about crazy shit can be.

The video is from The Rand Corporation. They used to be a big, important think tank, but I haven't heard anything from them in a long time. Maybe because they were a little slow to adapt to the internet. Or maybe I just haven't been paying attention.

Operations Research is one of things The Rand Corporation does. I had a boss an Intel who had a degree in Operations Research. I never really understood what it was all about. It sounds like a mixture of math and common sense, which I never thought was very difficult and certainly nothing to write home about, but maybe the trick is being able to communicate your mathematical, common sensical ideas, and somebody saw some value in that.

Via World Affairs


Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
I'm poking around on GoodReads and I notice that I have Seveneves listed, but the status is wrong. I finished it months (years?) ago. So here's my chance to make an update to my bookshelf, and since we are here maybe I should post something from my blog. One thing led to another and now we have a story.

We start with something from a couple of years ago:
I like Daniel Silva's books, well, I liked both of the ones I've read. I finished this one in two days. It's not a great book, but it's pretty good. It is not totally smooth, the ride is a little rough, but there weren't any of those giant potholes that cause me to curse in disgust. For instance, I started reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson a few months back and things were going along swimmingly until I got about half way through the book and the President of the United States shows up and we (by which I mean the characters in the story) start having some kind of bullshit discussion. I had to put the book aside it was so repulsive. Given Neal's skill as a writer, I presume that is the effect he was trying to achieve. It's just that in my case it worked too well. I still want to finish that book, but it is going to take some determination to wade through this section, which I am hoping is short. If it goes on for too much longer I will be forced to toss it on the reject pile.
I eventually finished Seveneves, but it took me several months to get over that hiccup. All in all it's a pretty great book. The one thing that bothered me was there was no discussion of where the projectile originated or how it came to be. I suspect a stellar event was the most likely source, you know, something like a star going nova or collapsing into a neutron star. Anything that extreme is going release a large quantity of energy, and given the right configuration of mass and timing, I can see a rock getting ejected at a high velocity. But nobody ever looked, and nobody said boo about how the projectile came to be going so fast.

The Star Destroyer Avenger chases the Millennium Falcon out of the asteroid field.
There might have been a Imperial Star Destroyer making pass through the solar system and thought they'd have a little target practice with our moon. Fuckers. Okay, unlikely, but we ought to be looking around. I mean just last week Rama came flying by.

And then there's the whole business of the moon breaking up. No explanation for that either. But then maybe it's obvious that even really a fast rock isn't going to crack the moon into pieces and Neal is just making this up to have something to base his story on. I certainly don't think it could happen. We might get some moon quakes, and maybe a little volcanic action, but I think gravity would eventually win out, things would settle down and people would mention it occasionally because it was kind of a big deal like a magnitude 27 earthquake. Devastating, but not the end of the world.

But is it obvious that even a fast, small rock couldn't really destroy the moon? I mean Neal bases his story on this premise, and Neal's stories are usually built on solid ground, so maybe such a thing is possible, theoretically speaking. Even if such a thing were possible, the odds of it happening to our moon are infinitesimal. Even so, it's a good reason to get some people off of this rock.

Let's look at this mathimagically. We can estimate the energy carried by the rock because we have estimate of its speed (a large fraction of the speed of light, is how I remember it) and it's size (there was a puff of dust when the rock impacted the moon, and this puff of dust was visible to an amateur astronomer on Earth). Okay, so very rough estimates, but still enough to draw some boundaries on the problem.

But how much energy would it take to break the moon into gravel? A heck of a lot. The Death Star and the planet Alderran might be a good place to start. I posted Scott Manley's exposition right around one year ago. Listening to Manley, I'm gonna stick with my original assessment that a rock, no matter how fast it was traveling, would not be able to destroy the moon.

And then there was the matter or all the men dying and the woman having to use lab work to get pregnant. I was kind of hoping for some sexual escapades. Okay, so I guess there were a couple of things that bothered me, but they were pretty small, except for that section about the president. That was almost a deal breaker.

Elk takes down chopper

Elk brings down helicopter in Utah. (Wasatch County Search and Rescue)
Not something that happens everyday.
The Australian flight crew was in the process of netting a cow elk, which jumped and hit the tail rotor of the helicopter. - KUTV

Bows and Arrows, Cross My Heart and Hope to Die

I found this on Quora and I thought it was so great I decided to steal it.

Question: Why were crossbows not used in the 19th century, even though they could be reloaded way faster than the infantry guns of that period?

Answer by Roger H Werner

At the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, an English army of 6000 soldiers led by Henry V, defeated a French army of 36,000. A crucial element in Henry’s victory was the longbow: He deployed C. 5000 longbowmen, WHILE the French used Italian crossbowman and their weapons have a shorter range. Largely because of this, the French lost by some accounts as many as 10,000 men to about 100 English. Yet, in spite of the clear deadliness of the longbow in war, it quickly became obsolete as firearms evolved. Within 200 years of Agincourt, it had fallen out of military use almost entirely.

In China, weaponry evolved in an entirely different way. Here, firearms were used much earlier. In 1232, the Mongol army used firearms as armor piercing weapons during the siege of modern Khai-Fun Fu, China. Firearms may also have been used much earlier: A picture dating from the 10th century CE depicts a demon wielding a form of gun. Nevertheless, Chinese armies used bows for another 800 years.

Timo Nieminen, a physicist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, described the evolution of the Asian composite war bow, a device he describes as “the best bow available before the advent of modern materials and the modern compound bow”. The compound bow helps explain why the bow remained an effective weapon in China for centuries after it was abandoned in Europe.

When a bow is drawn, the surface closest to the archer compresses, while the opposite surface is placed in tension, placing extreme demand on whatever material is used for the limb. Nieminen noted that it’s very difficult to find a single material that provides sufficient strength under both tension and compression, whilw permitting a high degree of deformation.

The solution that Asian bow makers settled upon was the composite bow in which the compression surface is made of horn and the tension surface from resin-sinew composite, both joined to a central portion of wood. These bows were extremely difficult to make; some report the resin-drying process required more than a year. When finished however, the sinew-backed bow vastly outperformed other bows and it was a military mainstay for 2,000 years. It was adopted by the Mongols who effectively used it to decimate the mounted knights of Europe.

One key factor in the performance of any bow is size to draw length ratio. The draw length is about as long as an archer’s arm. Because wood cannot be greatly deformed before it breaks, a wooden bow must be at least 2.3 times its draw length. English longbows were as long as the archer was tall and Japanese longbows were 200 cm long. By comparison, the composite bow was only 110 cm long, while achieving a similar performance as the long bow. The composite bow was lighter and easier to carry than its European cousins but it required a long time to create.

The Asian composite bow had a weakness that prevented it from spreading to Europe. Its composite materials did not survive humid conditions. For that reason, the weapons never spread south to India nor would they have survived land or sea crossings back to Europe. Nevertheless, both East and Western bow designs were much more accurate than early firearms, particularly over longer distances. They had a much higher rate of fire, and, they required fewer materials and logistics to manufacture and supply. Yet the bow had one big disadvantage over firearms: Bows require a high degree of skill to use proficiently.The typical Chinese army had a large pool of skilled archers, while European armies did not. Europeans armies therefore trained their soldiers to use firearms because that could be done relatively quickly. For this reason, firearms quickly eclipsed the bow in Europe. Therefore, military effectiveness was not the primary cause for the bows demise as a military weapon: Economic (cost/time) and social factors, especially training of musketeers as opposed to archers, were far more important influences in the replacement of the bow by the gun.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Babycham Promotional Poster
I'm reading Faithful Place by Tana French. The Mackey kids are having a drink at the pub and one of them asks for Babycham. Okay, I'll bite, what is it? Sparkling pear cider is what, or perry, depending on which side of the perry versus pear cider debate you stand. The animal mascot is a Chamois.

Pic of the Day

Megaphonic Motorcycle
The world is full of strange and wonderful things and India has more than its share.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Alannah Myles - Black Velvet

Alannah Myles - Black Velvet

I've been listening to this and I like it, even though I think it may have been used in an ad for Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey, which is kind of a wimpy version of Bourbon.

Portland Trail Blazers CRUSH the Golden State Warriors

My wife and I have been married for over 30 years. This is kind of surprising because until I met her, which was when I was in my early 30's, I was never going to get married. Evidently something changed when I hit my 30's. My wife was looking at her 30th birthday and she wasn't married yet, so I suspect we both decided that if we were going to do this thing, now is the time. So we did.

On occasion people ask us the secret of out success, i.e. how have we managed to stay together for so long? I used to tell them that it was like we were on a teeter-toter, we balanced each other. Later on I embellished that by saying it was a very long teeter-toter, but that didn't really help. Eventually I came to realize that we had complimentary skills, i.e. I realized that my formidable technical skills weren't the be-all and end-all of skillification. My wife had skills as well. Not hard skills, not skills that you could employ to actually do something, but skills that enabled you to maintain your position in society, which is actually more important than any mathematical or machinical talent you might have.

We went to see a counselor a few years ago and  I attempted to commuicatie this idea to him, and he says "oh yes, it's very common for people with complimentary skill sets to hook up", or words to that effect, and I thought "well fuck you, why the fuck didn't anyone ever tell me that?" But then I realized that even if anyone had told me that I probably would have discounted it because all that kind of talk didn't impact the hard-skill-set-universe.

TL';DR, my wife and I are different. Things you might think only apply to one sex, in our case don't. Specifically, my wife likes sports. In particular she likes watching the Ducks (because our kids went there) and the Hawkeyes (because she went there) college football, and the Portland Trailblazers professional basketball team.

I never used to watch sports. Oh I would watch it on occasion if I was visiting a friend and they were watching a game, but I never followed it or kept track of who was leading or winning or whatever. If just didn't interest me. But now I am. I started a few years ago, I would sit in with my wife while she was watching a game and I would watch a quarter or so, but that was all, so I guess I kind of learned how to watch. I mean there is a lot of complicated action going on down there. Even with the slow motion replays it is sometimes hard to tell exactly just what happened. Nurkic got hit in the face with Kevin Durrant's upper arm tonight, or did he? I mean, from the video,  you just can't tell how hard he got hit. He sold it pretty well, and given the limited information we got from the video, I am willing to give him the credit. But Stott's expression on the screen tells me that Nurkic was selling the foul, and Jusuf would be fine.

Whatever. In any case, this year I have been watching the Trialblazers pretty religiously and tonight's game was a highwater mark. The Trialblazers last game was against the Utah Jazz and they got trounced. But more importantly, in that game I just didn't see any energy from the Blazers. It was like they knew they were going to get beat and they would do their job but they just didn't care. And this is all from watching the game. I don't listen to the players or coaches jabbering, to me it's just jabber. Maybe next year I will be listening for inflections in their voices in how they talk about upcoming games, but I hope not. That way lies madness, at least for people like me.

Tonight, however, was a different kettle of fish. The Warriors are the golden boys of the Western Division, or maybe of the whole nation. Three (or maybe four) of their players have been picked for the All-Star Game which is some kind of big deal. They have beat every team in the league. They are formidable. We are going to get our asses kicked.

But then the game stared and the Blazers attacked! They ran up something like a 20 point lead during the first half. Before the game started some blatherer was blathering that the third quarter is when the Warriors kicked butt, and that kind of correlated with what I have been seeing, the third quarter is critical. So okay, we're ahead at the half, but are we going to be able to hang on? When the game started I was totally prepared to concede defeat. After all, even though we had won most of our games so far (I think), the UItah Jazz still kicked our butt. Efffing Jazz. But now I'm watching the game, and this is not like the Jazz game. Our guys are showing some serious energy. How can you even tell? It's just images of people moving around on the screen. We're talking highly evolved image processing techniques, stuff that the computer geeks won't ever be able to emulate. Well, at least not till later next week.

The game was fierce. You could tell, just by watching it. Or could you? I could, because I've been watching the Blazers all season. If you just tuned in and had never seen the Blazers play before, could you have told? I suppose it you had watched a lot of basketball on TV, you probably could have picked up on it. So there's two conditions here. One, you have to spend some time watching the game, and two, you have to be able to 'see' what's going on.

In any case, we defeated the Warriors by the skin of our teeth, and that's good enough for me.

Weile Weile Waila

The Dubliners - Weile Weile Waila-HQ

I'm reading Faithful Place by Tana French. Two brothers are sitting on the porch when the forensics team shows up across the street and one of them starts singing this tune softly, to himself, and me being me I gotta go look it up. Wikipedia has a page.

If there is a River Saile, Google Maps hasn't heard of it.


Inflation is a problem. People look at soaring property values and think how much more valuable their land has become when actually the only thing that has changed is that the dollar is worth that much less. I have no proof, but I am pretty sure that the rate of inflation reflects that amount of money the government has borrowed. The bigger the deficit, the higher the rate of inflation. The government is stealing from anyone who has big pile of cash. A big pile of cash, or money sitting in a savings account at a bank, is losing around 10% of its value per year. If you don't want that pile of money to disappear, you need to put it to work, hopefully doing something that will bring you some profit. This is the big reason the stock market has been booming lately.

The US government's deficit is so large some people are afraid the whole thing is going to collapse. That will happen when the US government can no longer sell bonds. When that happens the whole house of cards is going to collapse. However, this is not going to happen as long as we keep buying oil from Saudi Arabia because what else can they do with their money? You could buy all the Lamborghinis in the world and it's not going make even the slightest dent in the zillions of dollars that are flowing into the Kingdom's coffers.

British Airways Flight 5390

FS2004 - Blowout (British Airways Flight 5390)

This happened back in 1990. It's quite a story.

How did this happen? The air pressure at sea level is about 15 PSI. Airliners are pressurized to 11 PSI* which is equivalent to being at about 7,000 feet of altitude. Air pressure at 17,000 feet is about 7 PSI, which means there is a difference of 4 PSI. I don't know the dimensions of the windshield, but let's say it was two feet wide and a foot and a half tall. That means it has an area or 3 square feet or 432 square inches. Multiply that by 4 and you have 1700 pounds of pressure pushing on that windshield. No wonder airliner windows are so small.

I have heard about this before. Several sites have the story, including Wikipedia.

Via Posthip Scott.

*PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch

Social Parking

Parking Lot Parking Meter
Similar to the one I had to deal with - note the large keypad with letters and numbers.
I parked at a lot on SW 5th Avenue last night. I've parked there before so I should have been prepared and I was, sort of. I remembered that the machine wants my license number, but I forgot that there is no light by the machine which means everything except for the illuminated display is nearly invisible. Fortunately there were several other people standing around trying to figure out how to buy a coupon. When I attempted it one woman spoke up with some helpful tips, like ignore the credit card rejection notice, give it a second and it will say OK, so I did and it did. She also helped out with the matter of locating the Go button and probably a one or two more things that you had to know because the front panel may as well have been painted black for all the detail I could make out.

If you had smart-phone with a flashlight app, or a flashlight, you would have been okay, but if you need to have smart-phone to buy a coupon, why don't we just dispense with the machine? Could it be that I am not the only curmudgeon who refuses to buy a smart phone?

Several years ago, my friend Jack clued me in to a parking lot that was seldom crowded and an easy walk to Keller, but it fell victim to development. So we tried a parking garage around the corner, but you need your coupon to open the door when you want to retrieve your car, and while that door lock may be more reliable than an airliner, you don't want it to fail when it is below freezing and everyone else has gone home to bed. My next pick was a ground floor parking lot under an office building. It was pretty great except that when leaving the show, you get dumped out into the middle of the crowd exiting the auditorium. So, 5th Avenue.

SW 5th Avenue Parking Lot
The only problem here is you cannot get on Highway 26 Westbound without going through some ridiculous contortions, unless it's late at night and there aren't any coppers or trains around.

Poor Portland

Something that will never happen in Portland
I am afraid Portland is on it's way to becoming another San Francisco, a city of old women: everything and everyone coddled and cocooned so no one ever gets hurt or even offended, but there is no vision, no progress, and nothing is done about all the real problems which will continue to grow until they smother us all.

The latest bit is the Portland City Council decided to lower the speed limits in residential areas from 25 MPH to 20 MPH, which means the entire city is now a school zone. I expect someone will eventually realize there is no point in having separate school zones since the speed limit is no different, but then someone else will decide they need to set apart so they will propose lowering the speed limit in school zones to 15 MPH. Why don't we all just stay home?

What we really need is a project to cover the entire downtown area on both sides of both rivers (the Willamette and the Columbia) with a ten story infra-structure to support a pleasant place to live. You would have levels for:
  • trains and big trucks
  • warehousing
  • North-South traffic
  • East-West traffic
  • turning lanes
  • parking
  • automotive services like repair and fueling
  • utilities like water, electrical power and gas
  • bicycles
The top surface would be reserved for houses, parks and walking.

I doubt anything like this will happen. The powers that be are too entrenched, and it might be that technology will change the way we operate. Amazon is decimating brick and mortar retail businesses. Video phones are almost like being there, not that anyone wants to talk anymore, they just text. When autonomous cars finally arrive, you won't need to have a house because you will spend all your time in your car while it creeps slowly along in the gigantic cluster fuck that our traffic will have become. When you leave work, you will push Home button in your car and it will set out to take you home, but since the streets will be so congested it creep along at a walking pace, so it will be one in the morning before you get there, which means it will be time to turn around and head back to work. I hope you like sleeping in your car.

Previous posts about a multi-level city here and here.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder opened at Keller Auditorium last night. The above video accurately portrays the look and feel of the show. It was pretty funny. They used projected backgrounds for some scenes, combined with the live action in the foreground, they were remarkably effective. 

There was one scene where some pompous windbag is pontificating to a bunch of portraits hung on the wall when about half-way through the scene the portraits come alive and start talking back, kind of like the magical pictures that showed up in the Harry Potter movies. Up until that moment I thought they were just pictures. 

The singing was a little hard to understand. I'd pick up words here and there, enough to get the general idea. Maybe I'm too used to listening to tunes on the radio where diction is, if not everything, pretty much near the top. Or reading subtitles on even English language films because I want to get every word. Maybe I need to be a little more stoned to properly appreciate the tunes. 

A spokesman for US Bank gave a two minute spiel before the start of the show, telling us how the bank supports the community. Live theater is very expensive, so I guess I don't begrudge the bank their two minutes since they are no doubt paying dearly for it.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Price of gas in France

A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre.

After careful planning, he got past security, stole the paintings, and made it safely to his van.

However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied, 'Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings.

The Cliff Walk Pourville - Claude Monet
I had no Monet.

The Green Dancers - Edgar Degas 1879
to buy Degas,

The Bedroom - Vincent Van Gogh 1899
to make the Van Gogh.

Charles De Gaulle - Donald Sheridan 2013
See if you have De Gaulle to send this to someone else.

The Dance At the Moulin Rouge - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1890
I'm posting this because I figure I have nothing Toulouse.

I think I may have got this from Stu.

Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Engine Test
Iaman tells me that there is rocket company in Cedar Park, Texas. Cedar Park used to be a podunk town somewhere northwest of Austin. Now it's part of the greater Austin metropolis. Firefly Aerospace builds rockets for putting small satellites into orbit. Frigging rocket engines are horribly inefficient. I mean look at that exhaust. 90% of the energy that is released in the burning of the fuel just gets wasted.

Fast Forward

My computer display screen has been acting a little weird, so I consult with the cloud:

I've been hearing about 4K video for a while now. I ignored it when it first came out because, like any new technology,  it was expensive. (Just for a baseline, anything that costs more than a dollar and a half is expensive.) But now you can buy a 4K computer display at Costco for $300. That might be worthwhile, especially if this display is flaking out.

P.S. I tried copying the discussion from the forum, but Blogger has it's own rules about how to handle things and the copy-and-paste didn't work so well. So for my next trick I took a screen shot of the forum discussion, cropped it with Pix and inserted it here. I tried resizing it a couple of times by changing the height and width parameters in html, but I ended up with the original dimensions of the image. As the best compromise between being a readable size and fitting on the page. It looks like shit right now. It's all fuzzy like it was compressed and then expanded. Stupid Blogger, why can't you just render the image as it is? Maybe it will look better on the finished page, but I doubt it.

Anita Ward - Ring My Bell

Anita Ward - Ring My Bell

We're watching snowboarders in the halfpipe in Korea this evening and this song pops up somehow (in an ad maybe?). Supposedly back in 1979 it was a number one hit. In 1979 I was in the middle of Computer Science course work at the University of Texas in Austin and I have no memory of this song. It resonated with my wife though. I suspect the difference was due to the cultural divide between rock-and-roll and disco. Huh.


Butte Creek Mill, Eagle Point Oregon
Posthip Scott sent me a story an old mill in southern Oregon that burned down a couple of years ago. Seems there is another old mill not too far away that they are going to be able to use to rebuild their own.

In 1870, there were 22,000 water-powered mills in the United States.

Pendleton Flour  Mill
Near as I can tell, other than a couple of specialty mills, this is the only one left in Oregon.

It's Twoo! It's Twoo!

Why are we so divided? Perhaps because nothing has happened to upset our apple cart, and if the apple cart is not upset, then everything people (on both sides of the divide) believe must still be true. This might be why we have wars - sometimes we just need to upset the apple cart in order to destroy people's erroneous beliefs.
Tali shows that we're open to new information – but only if it confirms our existing beliefs. We find ways to ignore facts that challenge our ideals. And as neuroscientist Bahador Bahrami and colleagues have found, we weigh all opinions as equally valid, regardless of expertise. - NPR Hidden Brain

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

Lighthouse, because a lighthouse is a prominent landmark in the story.
Annihilation is a science fiction novel set in the not-too-distant future. We have an area has been declared off-limits by the military because of an 'ecological disaster', which sounds just like something that the military would do. But they are lying, or maybe they really don't know what is happening in this area, but for sure some weird stuff is going on, so they send small groups of people in to try and figure out what's going on. These explorations all end in disaster, so it's kind of like a common horror story that way. A lot of what the characters do doesn't make much sense, but then the people who would volunteer to go on a suicide mission with no real information may not be the most stable: We're going to drop you off in the wilderness with a bunch of other lunatics, all armed with guns and notebooks. When you have gathered enough information, your leader will arrange your extraction. No, we're not going to tell any of the rest of you how to get back.

Destroyer of Worlds Starfish
Our narrator is a biologist who tells about her cosmic / drunken experience with a Destroyer of Worlds starfish. The story was very readable, it flowed along smoothly enough except the bumps when someone does something stupid.

Underground Tower
This underground tower at the Quinta da Regaleira provided the inspiration for a similar structure in this story.

This book is part one of a trilogy which has been combined into one large book.  Something strange happens to the narrator, though we aren't sure what. The rest of the trilogy might tell you but I won't be reading it.

SuperPunch provided some links.



I'm working on simple C program to experiment with pipes. All it does it take a line from the keyboard, prepend it with a time stamp and write it to a file. A call to the time() function will deliver the time. I could use it as is, it's just a big integer. It would be nice if you could format it as a calendar date and time. I'm looking at the appendix of my C programming manual and there are calls for converting time from this format and writing the time in that format, but there doesn't seem to be one that will do what I want.

    time_t time(time_t *tloc);

There are basically two ways of dealing with time. One way is to use a big integer to store the number of seconds since the beginning (which varies depending on what planet you live on) and the other is to break the time into days, months, seconds and mintues, etc. and store all these various values in a data structure.

    time_t mktime(struct tm *tp);

mktime() will take the data structure and convert it into a number of seconds, but I cannot find one that will do the conversion in the other direction. I ran into this problem umpteen years ago and spent a few days writing my own routine to perform the conversion. Now I'm reading the appendix and I'm thinking it's really weird that there isn't a function to do this. I'm hoping I'm wrong, because I don't want to have to dig out my old conversion routine because that's just more code I have to look at and think about and that's going to distract me from what I am trying to do.

    struct tm *gmtime(const time_t *tp);

So I look more closely at these routines in the book and I finally realize that they are using the same variable name tp as a pointer to the two different variables used to store the time. No wonder I couldn't figure it out last time. Couldn't they have used two different variable names, like tip for time-integer-pointer and tsp for time-structure-pointer? I guess you're supposed to read the whole declaration and not just the variable name. Bah.


Newman's Coffee
I went to Freddies yesterday to pick up some groceries. One of the items on the list was Newman Decaf Coffee pods for the Keurig coffee maker. Freddies has a whole wall of coffee in 47 flavors. I find Newman's Coffee right off. There are three kinds there, but none are decaf. I carefully look over the entire wall and notice that Starbucks takes up a good third, Dunkin Donuts has noticeable presence and there are 20 or 30 (or 40) other brands there as well, but no more Newman. I do this at least twice and finally conclude that the three boxes I spotted originally are the only Newman pods available. Now I re-read the labels again and I realize the first box is actually decaf. I can only conclude that I read the label as Special Dark instead of Special Decaf, which is what it actually says. Why would someone label decaf as special? Is there a regular decaf? Marketing is getting way out of hand.

Being able to read is fundamental to getting along in today's world, and being able to pick out minuscule differences is a useful skill to have if you are programming computers. And here I detected two failures to detect differences in two days. It might be distressing if I wasn't immune to self-criticism.

Hybrid Semi Truck

Overhead view of Hyliion equipped tractor
Hyliion has a system for converting a semi tractor to operate as a hybrid. The name Hyliion looks to be made by squeezing Hybrid, lithium and ion together. The green pieces are what they supply. Some of them are just aero panels to improve streamlining. The others are involved with electro-motive force.

Via Iaman

Update a couple of hours later: I just now realized that there is a driveshaft in the picture. I misidentified two cross members as asphalt and the dark space between them as a mysterious black box.

Original, wrong description: On a normal truck, the engine is connected to the transmission and the transmission is connected to the drive axle via the driveshaft, a heavy, expensive piece of steel. If this were a picture of a normal truck, the driveshaft would be a thick black line running vertically through the center. If you look at the picture you will notice that the driveshaft is missing. The only thing connecting the front of the truck to the rear are the frame rails and a couple of hose looking things, which I suspect are power cables. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018


HDTV 1959 Philco Predicta Conversion
Somebody took a modern Sanyo HDTV and mated it to the famous Philco Predicta swivel television! The best of space-age MCM, plus the sharp picture quality that is incomparable to the original CRT system.

MCM stands for Mid-Century Modern, or Man Crush Monday, depending on where you are standing.

Via Posthip Scott

2 Stroke Coffee

2 Stroke Coffee
Stopped by 2 Stroke Coffee in North Portland this morning. They had half a dozen small, 2 stroke bikes inside. There were a couple big, newish, Harleys parked at the curb when we got there. They had been replaced by a couple ring-dings by the time we left.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Sky Whale

A whale in the air by Artem Chebokha
Syaffolee put up a post with a low-rez version of this image which was kind of disappointing so I went looking for a better version and found this one. I can't say why I like this pic, I mean it's pretty silly, but I do like it.

Jesus died for our debt

He died for our debts, not our sins
I am not a particularly religious person, unless you count science as a religion, and even then I probably don't qualify as a true believer. The Christian religion, for all its faults, is the foundation of Western Civilization and I like to think Western Civilization is the best one on this planet. It might not be, but its good enough for me, now.

I recall hearing that in the New Testament, Jesus talks about money more often than any other subject, and it might be that his advice on this subject is what made Christianity so successful. Now Professor Michael Hudson is telling us that Jesus was more of an economic prophet, not so much a spiritual one. Claire Connelly's story makes for some interesting reading.

Via Kristin

Friday, February 9, 2018


Proteus in Pass & Review at Oshkosh 2017
Proteus first flew in 1998. It can reach 60,000 feet and fly at 200 MPH for hours.
The Scaled Composites Model 281 Proteus is a tandem-wing High-Altitude Long Endurance aircraft designed by Burt Rutan to investigate the use of aircraft as high altitude telecommunications relays.

Babylon Berlin

Babylon Berlin is a great show, it's got guys and dolls and heroes and villains and murder and mayhem. But it's also great because it portrays a country going through very trying times, struggling to find its way. And that, I think, is the more important part. It's entertaining and subconsciously instructive.

A bunch of stuff gets mentioned in the show which sound like they might be real things, but who knows? Maybe it was all made up, so I did a little checking, and it all turned out to be true. Okay the dates might not align perfectly, but they all happened in the period between World Wars 1 and 2, so close enough for the purposes of this story.

In the foreground we have vice cops chasing after pornographers and blackmailers, while in the background the nationalists are building a secret army.
Black Reichswehr was the name for the illegal paramilitary formations promoted by the German Reichswehr army during the time of the Weimar Republic; it was raised despite restrictions imposed by the Versailles Treaty.
Secret German airbase in Lipetsk Russia
A reporter claims that hundreds of people have been murdered by the nationalists. Pushed to extremes, or maybe just encouraged by demigogues, people resort to violence.

Schloss Drachenburg
Some of the conspirators have ties to large industrial firm that holds their board meetings in a fabulous castle (above). The place looks almost too perfect, too fabulous to be real, but it is not someone's CGI fantasy, it is a real castle.

There is an attempted coup in the show, which sounds a whole lot like the Küstrin Putsch. In the show, the coup revolves around assassinating French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand and German Foreign Minister Stresemann, who were both real people.

The assassinations are to take place at Theater am Schiffbauerdamm during a performance of Brecht's Threepenny Opera.

die moritat von mackie messer
from the 1931 film
Songs from The Threepenny Opera have been widely covered and become standards, most notably "Die Moritat von Mackie Messer" ("The Ballad of Mack the Knife") . . . 
The song "Mack the Knife" was witten by Kurt Weill for his wife Lotte Lenya. The leading lady of Babylon Berlin is called Lotte, short for Charlotte.

Phosgene WW2 Warning Poster
The evil princess Svetland Sorokin conspires with some anti-Stalinist conspirators to smuggle a fortune out of Russia disguised as just one more railroad tank car of Phosgene gas. The conspirators hook their treasure car onto the back of the train in Novorzhew, now in Russia, formerly part of the Soviet Union (map). Phosgene is some nasty shit.
In May 1924, eleven tons of phosgene escaped from a war surplus store in central Hamburg. Three hundred people were poisoned, of whom 10 died.
The Visit Berlin web site has a page devoted to some of buildings used in the show.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Redkino, Russia

Police surround a home in the small Russian town where Sergey Egorov shot and killed nine people on June 4. Dmitry Vinogradov / Sputnik / Scanpix / LETA
Babylon Berlin is just amazing. It's got all this weird stuff going on and I'm wondering how much of it is real. I start with Svetlana Sorokin just because she's such a stand out and, no, I don't find an heiress to a secret fortune in gold. I find it's a fairly common name. But wait, what's this at the bottom of the page, a story about a murder? Well, there is plenty of murder going on in the show, let's see what we've got. What we've got is guy losing his shit and killing a bunch of his neighbors. A horrible story, but I don't think I've ever seen a news report of this kind from Russia. I mean I am sure Russian media has horror stories just like we do, but I don't read Russian, so I don't know. But this story is in English, and it's not just a brief press release, it's a real story. Don't think I've ever seen the like. I hear English is common in Western Europe, so maybe it's making inroads to the East.

Streetview Cameraman, Redkino Russia
So I'm looking at a map of Redkino and I wonder if Google has recorded it with the Streetview cameras. It doesn't look like it, but zoom out and we find that a nearby highway has been recorded, and the nearby town of Tver, and hey, it seems a small part of central Redkino has been recorded as well. I zoom back in and find a short stretch of a blue line, so I take a look. It's a section of path a couple of dozen yards long that runs next to a railroad track. Looking around I see an industrial neighborhood, a couple of people walking, and the top of the guys head who is holding the camera. I'll be durned, Russians got hair on the top of their heads just like we do. I was kind of expecting horns.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018


Terramar Racetrack, Sitges Spain
I'm watching The Grand Tour (Season 2, Episode 8) (where have we heard that before?) and our intrepid trio are going around a 90 year old racetrack near Barcelona Spain. I'll be durned. The last time I ran into banked tracks was when I was reading about the fantastic project to reproduce an old, extinct board track racer,

The story is that it was built, they had a race, they ran out of money and the racing stopped. There's a lesson about capitalism here, but I'm not sure we'll ever learn what it was. I suspect it was something on the order of biting off more than you could chew, but there could have been some skulduggery going on, or maybe the market was saturated. You'd think with such a massive investment they would have found a way to keep it going. That fact that they couldn't means they probably shouldn't have built it in the first place, but that would mean knowing what is going to happen, and no one knows that.

Google Map
A good story about the track.
Wikipedia has a page.
Google found a bunch of sites.

One Thing Leads To Another

The Police - Wrapped Around Your Finger (video of Stewart Copeland)

I'm watching The Grand Tour (Season 2, Episode 8) and Jeremy (more power) Clarkson has a couple of guests who are drummers, one of whom is Stewart Copeland. Who's that you ask? Wikipedia knows all:
Stewart Armstrong Copeland (born July 16, 1952) is an American musician and composer. He is known as the former drummer for the Anglo-American rock band The Police as well as for his film and video game soundtracks. Copeland has also written various pieces of music for ballet, opera and orchestra. According to MusicRadar, Copeland's "distinctive drum sound and uniqueness of style has made him one of the most popular drummers to ever get behind a drumset".
Okay, he is an accomplished musician. But then we make a turn to the dark side: his dad was a spy:
Miles Axe Copeland Jr. (July 16, 1916 – January 14, 1991) was an American musician, businessman, and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer best known for his close personal relationship with Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his "controversial books on intelligence," including
In his memoirs, Copeland recounted his involvement in numerous covert operations, including the March 1949 Syrian coup d'état and the 1953 Iranian coup d'état. A conservative influenced by the ideas of James Burnham, Copeland was associated with the American political magazine National Review. In a 1986 Rolling Stone interview, he stated: "Unlike The New York Times, Victor Marchetti and Philip Agee, my complaint has been that the CIA isn't overthrowing enough anti-American governments or assassinating enough anti-American leaders, but I guess I'm getting old."
James Burnham is kind of interesting:
James Burnham (November 22, 1905 – July 28, 1987) was an American philosopher and political theorist. A radical activist in the 1930s and an important factional leader of the American Trotskyist movement, in later years Burnham left Marxism and turned to the political Right, serving as a public intellectual of the American conservative movement, and producing the work for which he is best known, The Managerial Revolution, published in 1941. Burnham is also remembered as an editor and a regular contributor to America's leading conservative publication, National Review, on a variety of topics.
First he was on the left, and then he was on the right, which reminds me of the wheel of political affilication:

The Political Circle
The page where I found this diagram points to story about the The Oregon Constitutional Convention wherein Corporations are discussed. It all seems to be tied together.

The book titles are linked to Amazon. All of the books are expensive, like $50 or more.

Slip Slidin' Away

Iaman has some excitement:
I am safely checked into Topeka Ramada Inn.
Left Iowa City about 8:30 AM,  0 F degrees, slushy streets.
IH 80 is wet with deicer.  10 miles west of town on flat damp straightway, 65 mph, the back end of the pickup slips to the left,  I correct, take my foot off gas, then it slips to the right, oscillates a couple more times with bigger swings, then I am spinning 360 degrees down the road from berm to berm, totally out of control.
Fortunately no traffic around me.
This wakes me up.
Maybe I need weight in the back during icy drives?
Then I notice every mile there are cars off the road from last nights storm. the one  I drove in from Michigan. Many are smashed.
It felt like this:

High speed spin-out on Arizona highway first-person view.

When we lived on the farm in Ohio, I used to put tractor wheel weights in the back of our Ford F-150 whenever the roads got ugly. They helped with traction when you were you were trying to get going. I doubt they would have helped much in this situation. Best advice is to slow down.

How to correct a slide on an icy road (and how to prevent them) - Winter driving education

I thought this video does a good job of balancing safety and practicality.

I've had a couple of experiences with slick roads. I was lucky.

Title tune here.

Space Car

1981 Heavy Metal movie introduction RADAR RIDER by RIGGS

Ya gotta hand it to ol' Elon, sending a Tesla to Mars is like the best promotional stunt ever. The near simultaneous landing of the side boosters was most impressive. Landing one was a good trick, but getting two down safely, on land, was, well geez, indescribable.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tear Down That Wall

Berlin Wall
 This week, the Berlin Wall has now been down as long as it was up; FSM be praised. - Stu
Looking for a picture I came across this map (top). For some reason I never considered that the wall completely encircled West Berlin, I only imagined it going through the middle of the city. But of course it would have to completely encircle the city as the city was encircled by East Germany. There was only one road to Berlin (I think), and there would have had to have been a wall along both sides of that road where it crossed East Germany, and then there was the wall that separated the counry. Geez, that's a lot of wall. Crazy.

Stu's post reminded me that I put up a post about people who had attempted to escape across the wall, but I didn't remember when I posted it exactly, so I searched for Berlin. I was surprised how many posts turned up.