Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Friday, July 20, 2018


Wanted - Season 1 Trailer

Strted watching this evening. Corrupt cops, criminals and a couple of crazy women running around loose in Australia. Very entertaining. Netflix.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The Hitman's Bodyguard

The Hitman's Bodyguard Red Band Trailer #1 (2017) Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson Action Movie HD

Very silly, action packed, silly love story. Samuel L. Jackson cursing loudly the whole time. Lots of stunts, an endless supply of bad guys meeting their doom at the hands of our heroes. One chase involved bad guys in cars chasing a speed boat through the canals of Amsterdam. That was interesting, haven't seen too many movies set in Amsterdam.

The villain is the dictator of Belarus. He is portrayed as being an evil man, like many East European dictators. Belarus seems to have some problems, but it doesn't seem as bad as some places.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Electric Steam Rocket

The Parker Solar Probe is going to visit the sun. News reports make it sound like they are going right up to the sun, but they are only expecting temperatures of 2500 degrees which doesn't sound that hot since everyone knows the sun is a zillion degree, so something is off here. Then I find that they are only going to within 8 million miles (or is it 8 diameters) of the sun. Well come on, guys, that's not really touching the sun is it? I mean 50 years ago Ray Bradbury had guys in a space ship flying right up to the sun collecting some of the sun's super-sized atoms using a super hi-tech / magical ladle.

Parker Solar Probe Trajectory

It's still closer than anyone has managed before. It's going to take them 7 years to get to the sun, which is only 8 light minutes away. Which got me to thinking that we need a faster rocket.

Rocket by Steve Bowers

One idea that's been kicked around in hard science fiction is the fusion rocket, a rocket uses the energy released by fusion to heat and expel some kind of magic propellant. The first version is probably going to use water as the propellant, with a touch of helium. In other words it's a hi-tech steam engine.

AGNI Fusion Reactor

Forbes has a story about hydrogen fusion projects in the Pacific Northwest, which is very cool. So I'm reading about all the different techniques various groups are using to try and get hydrogen atoms to fuse . . . and I'm left wondering how are they going to harness all this power if they ever do get it work? And then someone mentions heat. Heat, which is what we use coal and natural gas and uranium for. Heat that is used to heat water to make steam. Steam which is used to drive turbines that turn generators that generate electricity.

So the first step, if or when they actual get hydrogen fusion to work, would be to replace all the fuel fired boilers and nuclear reactors which fusion powered steam generators.

Is that all we can do with hydrogen fusion? Boil water? That seems, so, I dunno, archaic? Or maybe Rube Goldberg? Seems there ought to a better way to do it. I'm sure we will eventually find a better way, but right now that's all we've got, so let's see what we can do.

Paks Nuclear Power Plant generators in central Hungary
Just imagine that this is inside a space ship. Maybe it is. Maybe they just want you to think it's firmly attached to the ground here on Earth.

Another idea (my idea, I haven't seen it anywhere else, which doesn't mean much) is to use a linear accelerator to accelerate tiny sand grain sized particles of iron to some fraction of the speed of light. To create magnetic pulses powerful enough to  propel our grains of sand to relativistic speeds, we are going to need some serious electrical power. And where are we going to get that power? From steam turbines powered by hydrogen fusion!

We're going to the planets with a steam engine!

Secret City

Secret City - Trailer season 1

Short (6 episodes) series about modern day espionage in Australia. The arch villain reminds me of Hillary Clinton. That's not a coincidence, is it?

Everyone is chasing a SIM card from a smart phone. Supposedly it's contains a secret that someone is willing to kill to protect. The government security outfits (an alphabet soup of acronyms, much like what we have here in the USA) is very interested in this tiny little computer part.

One government agency has a TSA like security protocol for anyone coming into the building. They even have cell phone lockers for employees where employees can leave their smart phones when they come into the building. But the employees use computers inside the building that are connected to the outside world. How secure is that? It could be very secure if the people who are in charge of computer security know what they are doing, but if they are using any kind of commercial software there are going to be holes.

Problem is the way modern computers use RAM (random access memory). Any computer program is composed of two parts: code and data. The code is the program (the sequence of instructions) that the CPU (central processing unit) executes, and the data is what those instructions operate on. Both code and data reside in RAM and while there are flags that can be set that will tell you whether a particular block of RAM contains code or data, those flags can be changed, so what was once data can now become code and vice versa.

You can test your code all you want, verify that it has no holes and will not let anyone do anything that would allow the release of confidential information, but if you allow a program to change that flag on a block of data (which undoubtedly came from outside), you will now have a wild program running loose in your system.

Modern commercial computer software does this all the time. Javascript, which is what every web app (application program) in the world uses, comes down the pipe as data and is fed to the Javascript engine which interprets the Javascript instructions and executes bits of code as instructed. Now the Javascript engine may be very secure, but unless someone you trust has gone through it and verified that it cannot possibly do anything bad, how do you know? And is it even possible to verify it? I suppose, if you have set up some hard and fast boundary conditions, it might be.

Java, on the other hand, is not allowed on Chromebooks because it cannot be contained. You could make a Java interpreter that was constrained, but that is another software project that would need to be tested, vetted and verified.

I'm thinking if you want a secure computer system, you would need to write the code yourself, which means you are going to need an army of programmers. Big government agencies can afford that, but there are not too many people who are creative enough to write code and are docile enough to work with the restrictions imposed by working for a big Federal agency. Plus, programmers are people too, so some of them are liable to take short cuts, like 'borrowing' code from outside. And there might be a point where your system becomes so complex it is not possible to know whether every component has been rigorously tested and is known to be secure.

All it takes is one little loophole known to one guy and the whole thing can be compromised.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Hillsboro Hops Baseball

Ron Tonkin Field
Saw the Hops play the Tri-City Dust Devils last Tuesday (or was it Wednesday?). Great fun. Early on in the game a player broke a bat when he hit the ball. The broken part flew as far as the pitcher's mound. One of our player's hit a home run, there was even a double play. Three or four foul balls came down on the roof of the stadium, one of them was right above us and it was loud!  A couple of batters got glancing hits to the foot from foul balls. We had a woman umpire calling the balls and strikes and a man out in the field.

This place started with a football / soccer stadium. I think it was for high school teams that didn't have their own, I dunno, but a couple of years later they built the baseball stadium in back of it. The lower roof on the left side of the picture covers the baseball seats. The four towers at the top support the roof over the football stands which back up against the baseball stands. The place is wire rope heaven. The roofs of both stadiums supported by cables, there are nets in front of the stands made of wire rope and the nets are supported by more cables.

Theoretically, baseball is a simple game, and it seems to move slowly, but you can mosey along until you have a precarious position and then something will happen to trigger an avalanche of activity. You have to be paying attention to catch it all, and even then you might not.

The only bad thing is getting out of the parking lot. We left after the 8th inning so it wasn't too bad. I would have liked to stay for the whole game, but needs be. I don't know how long it takes the parking lot to clear out. Maybe long enough to drink a beer in the bar, if they are still open.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Skin of the Wolf


Ever wonder what a solitary, primitive life would be like for a man living in an abandoned mountain village? This film lays in out in excruciating detail. Two women get inserted into the story, but I don't think there two dozen words spoken in the whole film. Some people don't need a great deal of conversation. Hollywood Reporter has a review. I don't agree with many of the suppositions. It could very well be a current event, although you would have to work pretty hard to avoid everything from the 20th century.

Via Netflix

Monday, July 9, 2018


Cheeseburgers are my go to food. They are a complete balanced meal all by themselves and I like them. I could eat a cheeseburger for every meal, well, until I got sick of them, and then I wouldn't eat them anymore.

This is a well known facet of my personality, to some people anyway, which prompted daring daughter to send me this story about the joy of taking a cruise on a cruise ship.

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Procol Harum - Conquistador

Procol Harum - Conquistador (1972)

I've been listening to Munros Retro because he has hit songs I like AND dancing girls, which is always a good thing. No dancing girls in this one, or not that I noticed. I haven't heard this song in a coon's age. I recognized it right off but I didn't know it was done by Procol Harem. The only song I know of theirs is Whiter Shade of Pale, which is a fine tune I suppose, but I've heard it enough times I don't need to hear it again. But this one is still pretty cool, meaning I'm not burned out on it yet.

The Diamond Age

The Diamond Age (as in The Bronze Age or The Iron Age) might have not quite arrived, but it's getting closer. We now have a couple of different methods for making synthetic diamonds and they work well enough that they are economically viable, i.e. they can make gemstone size diamonds and are undercutting the natural diamond producers like DeBeers.

I remember hearing about some guys trying to make diamonds a while back. They were having some success using washing-machine size machines that focused enormous pressure on a tiny little sample. That was ten years ago or so.

The Diamond Age is also the title of a science fiction novel by Neal Stephenson. One of the premises of that story is that man has learned to make diamonds and it has opened whole new venues of technological progress. Society as a whole still sucks, but what else is new?

I'm not sure how I got started on this, but when I started looking I wasn't finding much, well, except for a bunch of ads for engagement rings. But eventually I found some bits and pieces. Here are some videos give a pretty good overview of what's been going on.

Growing Synthetic Diamonds

synthetic diamond factory

These lab-grown diamonds are identical to natural ones

How To Make A Diamond - Bang Goes the Theory - BBC O

I also remember watching a video where a guy made diamond from pencil lead using a microwave oven, but I can't find it now, so maybe I just imagined it. If so, I've got a really good imagination because I remember it clearly. In any case he turned a ceramic coffee mug upside down and used the depression in the bottom as a crucible. He laid a couple of leads from a mechanical pencil there and added a couple of drops of oil (mineral? vegetable? my memory is fuzzy on this point). He set another coffee mug on top, this one right side up, so the graphite and oil are semi-contained, and then he fired up the microwave and ran it for I don't know how long. I don't recall what method he used to verify that his experiment worked, but if it did, the crystals were very small. Really bugs me that I cannot find this video.

The older HPHT (high pressure, high temperature) method is still in use and has grown considerably:

A synthetic diamond factory in China
And grown some more:

HENAN GAINS CO., LTD, located in Zhengzhou China

China is producing quantities of gemstone quality synthetic diamonds and shipping them to India where they are cut and made into jewelry.

Considerable effort has also been expended in finding ways to determine whether a diamond is synthetic or natural. One way was to laser engrave some kind of a miniature marking on the edge. Another uses spectroscopy. Natural diamonds usually include a bit of nitrogen and synthetic diamonds don't.

Linear Accelerator

How a Linear Accelerator Works - HD

Looking for images of linear accelerators, I stumbled over this video. First time I have seen a linear accelerator used for any practical application, and the first time I have seen one this small. Usually I expect to them to be big machines buried in some obscure basement of a university physics department building. They are certainly going to a lot of trouble to produce X-rays, but I imagine there are reasons for that, like higher power and more control.

The whole thing about using radiation for cancer treatment is that the mutant cells, which is what cancer cells are, are not so good at repairing any damage they incur, so a good dose of radiation will damage them enough so they will die. Healthy cells can repair a small amount of radiation damage, so the trick is to administer enough radiation that the tumor is damaged enough to kill it, but  healthy tissue is able to recover.

Friday, July 6, 2018


I-5 and I-84 intersection closures
North is to the right.
ODOT is going to be working on these freeway ramps starting in couple of weeks. The work is going to bring traffic to a halt, so if you can possibly avoid this intersection, do so. Google Map here.


Wednesday, July 4, 2018


GLOW | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

We watched the first three episodes this evening and it's very funny. Also absurd. There are some awkward moments, but I suspect sometimes you need those to set up the punch line, if that's what you call the point in the action where it hits you.

It also gives you a little insight into what it's like trying to put together a show that might see the light of day: a whole lot of schmoozing with people who have a radically different world view than your own. People who can do that, and are lucky, might make some money, and from where I sit, they are fully entitled to it. I never had the patience to deal with most people.

And remember the untold zillions who showed up for the casting call and were turned down. I don't quite understand the drive to be an actor. I mean you hear about people doing any kind of menial work, like, god forbid, waitressing, in order to survive long enough that they can go to another casting call. Or maybe it's just that there are so few acting jobs that even if one one hundredth of one percent wanted to be an actor, it means that a thousand people will show up for any job that shows any promise at all, so with that kind of competition, only the most driven, or lucky, will survive.

On the other hand, maybe we're lucky there are so few acting roles. It might create a shortage of waitresses and that would be very bad on account of I like to go out to eat. I think now I might be able to wait tables. I never considered it when I was younger. Can't quite explain why. Probably because I started developing a gearhead mentality and I lost interest in dealing with people. So let's hear it for all those people who work in restaurants, the cooks, waiters / waitresses, busboys, dishwashers, hosts and, yes, even the managers. Hip hip hurray! I appreciate what you are doing!

Monday, July 2, 2018


PillPack dispenser and packets
Amazon just bought PillPack for a zillion dollars, never mind that I thought of it first. It's good though, saves me the trouble having to actually build a business. Also saves me the trouble of figuring out how to spend all that glorious money (boo hoo hoo).

Did I actually think of it first? Doubtful, I am sure many people have had the same thought over the years. If I wanted something to boast about, I could imagine that my blog post was the trigger that somehow got the ball rolling.

It's kind of hard to imagine that such a numb-skull idea could be worth so much money, but then lots of people are taking lots of pills, and the value of a business is pretty much defined by numbers. Multiply a zillion people taking zillions of pills times the pennies they will charge for each dose, and then multiply that by some zombie number that converts present revenue into future value and, well, somebody decided it was actually worth a zillion dollars.

Via younger son.

DEW Line

Watching for Nuclear Attack at the Top of the World

The DEW Line has always been around, at least in my lifetime. I had always heard about it, but I never got an idea of the scale, probably because it was classified, or somebody decided that no one was interested. This is the second time I've posted one of Tom Scott's videos (first time here). He doesn't dig very deep, but he does give a good overview of WTF has been going on in some very obscure places.

Pic of the Day

Dancers of the Bolshoi ballet backstage during a performance watching their national team win a penalty shootout during the World Cup.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Charles Bronson Lives!

10 Badass People Who Used Helicopters To ESCAPE

Saw this headline French robber Redoine Faid breaks free from jail in dramatic helicopter escape and immediately thought of the Charles Bronson movie Breakout where he helps a guy escape from a Mexican prison. I thought it was just an adolescent fantasy, but evidently several people have managed to actually pull it off.

RĂ©au Prison
About 10 miles southeast from the center of Paris