Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
If the type is too small, Ctrl+ is your friend

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Horses, again


Lemaitre - Higher ft. Maty Noyes

Another piece of inspired lunacy. I don't know about the tune, I only listened to it once. We shall see. But the video is great: we have a veteran (of some sort) preparing a young woman for some kind of contest. It isn't until we get to the end that we find out it involves horses.

Rube Gold Gun


Rube Goldberg Machine... But With GUNS!!!

What we have here is an inspired piece of lunacy for your amusement. I've got a cold and I'm feeling a little miserable, so today this video is just my speed.

As our host explains, black powder guns are not considered guns by the ATF, never mind that the American Civil War was fought with black powder weapons.

Now I want to see a Rube Goldberg machine that incorporates a trebuchet throwing a piano.

Good News from Africa

A picture of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, the recipient of the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, is on display at the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo, Norway, on Oct. 11. STIAN LYSBERG SOLUM/NTB SCANPIX/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES
Whenever I go to St. Johns to work on John's house, I stop at the 7-11 for coffee and a donut. The donut is my reward for driving over the west hills via Germantown road, and donuts require coffee. The guy at the cash register in the 7-11 is from Ethiopia, and when I ask about how things are over there, he tells me that the Prime Minister has just won the Nobel Peace Prize for ending the 20 year old war with Eritrea, so things might be getting a little better.

This is the second time an immigrant from Ethiopia has made it to this blog.

Southern Culture on the Skids: Camel Walk


Southern Culture on the Skids: Camel Walk (band video)

I posted a link to this video not too long ago, but it really deserves a post of its own. Shoot, it deserves a monument. The rhythm guitar sounds like every bar band I've ever heard, but I can't think of another tune that has got a strong rhythm chorus like this. Okay, it's been an eon since I've heard a bar band, but still.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Death to Our Digital Overlords

Magnus Robot Fighter
Why is it that when you have plenty of time all these fancy on-line systems work perfectly, but when you are in a time crunch they break down and spill their bits all over the floor? Murphy's law I suppose. Stupid robots.

I remember reading Magnus Robot Fighter comics when I was a kid. Even then I thought the premise was a bit shaky. No human, no matter how strong or well trained is going to be able to smash metal robots with his bare hands. It did make for a cool story though.

Where is Magnus now that we need him? I suspect our real robot fighters are hackers with 1337 skills.

Influence

Yesterday I sent a note to Forbes:
Stop using the term 'market capitalization' when you should be using 'market valuation'. Capital is what you invest in a company. The stock market valuation has nothing to do with the amount of money invested.
Yes, I know, everybody does it. That doesn't make it right.
The last instance I came across was in your story about George Pedersen.
This morning I open a story (also from Forbes):
Digital Bank Chime Now Has A Valuation Of $5.8 Billion
Even if they listened to me, I doubt they could react that quickly. Still, a nice little bubble of happiness in my morning.

The story about Chime didn't tell me much, other than some people think digital banks might be a good place to invest their money. The only reason I can surmise for that is that they are dispensing with the brick & mortar store front operations. For people who grew up in the 20th century, when cash was king, a big brick bank with a big steel vault could be a reassuring presence in your economic life. These days, for many people, as long as that little plastic card works, cash is just a nuisance. If you never go to the bank, why would you care if they have an office that you can visit?

Near as I can tell, owning a bank is the nearest thing to having a printing press that prints money. They take in deposits from zillions of people working for wages, and then they lend out five or ten times that amount to people who want to borrow money. Of course, lending money is a risky business, which is why banks make you jump through hoops before they will fork over the dough.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Flying Horses

Ash and smoke from Popocatepetl volcano seen from Puebla, central Mexico
A KLM flight from Amsterdam to Mexico City turned back because of a volcanic eruption near Mexico City. You may remember when all flights over Europe were shut down a few years ago because of a volcano erupting in Iceland.

Eleven hour flight to nowhere
This one made the news because the flight was already over North America when they turned back which meant the passengers enjoyed an eleven hour flight to nowhere. You might think they could have landed in New York or some other big airport (I certainly did), but when you compare the inevitable hotel bills and the hassles with immigration with the actual cost of the flying the airplane, maybe turning around makes sense. Then you add in horses and all of sudden I have no idea.

Flying Horses
Seems they had a big cargo of horses as well as humans.

KLM Boeing 747-400 Combi Floor Plan

Mobil Oil Flying Horse Logo
If you remember ever seeing this sign on your local gas station, you might be old.

P.S. The Prague Zoo is flying horses to Mongolia. I do not know why.

Via Flight Aware

Two Sides of the same Coin

Areas of Influence of Major Mexican Transnational Criminal Organizations within DEA Field Offices 
Can that be right? Is the DEA really reporting on how corrupt they are? Are they really working with the Mexican drug cartels? 'Influence' is the wrong word. This line is a little better:
The pie charts seen on the maps show the percentage of cases attributed to specific Mexicancartels in an individual DEA office area of responsibility.
To me, the DEA is just as bad as the drug cartels. The only reason the DEA exists is to restrict the flow of drugs so as to ensure prices and profits remain high, and given the falling price of drugs, they aren't even doing a very good job of that.

We really need a new religion, something better than sex, drugs and rock & roll. Don't get me wrong, sex, drugs and rock & roll are all great forms of entertainment, but they don't make a very good foundation for life. You need something more substantial, well, you do if you want to amount to anything. If you are content build your life on sand, well then, be prepared to be swallowed by that sand.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

Þrídrangar Lighthouse

Þrídrangar Lighthouse, Iceland
I came across a smaller version of this picture as a meme about Jehovah's Witnesses. It took a little pointing and clicking to find out where it was. When I did, I tried to locate it on Google Maps, but it's not there:


Þrídrangar (Thridrangur)
1939. Active; focal plane 34 m (112 ft); long white flash followed by a short white flash every 30 s. 4 m (13 ft) square concrete tower with lantern and gallery. Lighthouse painted white, lantern red. Ingvar Hreinsson has a closeup photo, Sigmar Þór Sveinbjörnsson has a photo, and Steve Fernie has a distant view from the sea, but the islet is not seen in Google's satellite view. Photos and videos of this isolated and "terrifying" lighthouse suddenly went viral in July 2016. Located on the largest of three isolated rocks about 13 km (8 mi) west northwest of Heimaey. Accessible only by helicopter (with an experienced pilot). VIT-278; Admiralty L4802; NGA 18080.

There are several other chunks of rock sticking out of the sea in the same general neighborhood, but this one does not exist.

It must have been quite a feat of engineering to build this thing. Helicopters were not really a thing in 1939. Igor Sikorsky made his first flight that year.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Weedeater Chorus


Weedeater Chorus

Crew of four guys with weedeaters making their annual pass through the swamp behind my house. Turn the volume up for the full effect. The guys are right near the center of the frame. You might be able to make them out if you go to full screen.

Cornfoot Road

Coming back from IKEA last night (which was closed, the only night of the week that it closes early), we took Cornfoot Road to avoid the traffic jam on Columbia. That was an eye opener. There is one big industrial establishment after another. In order, from East to West:

Boeing Paint Hangars at PDX
Looks like they aren't being used any more.

PDX Ground Run-up Enclosure
Looking at the map I notice a great big thing. It's the Ground Run-up Enclosure (GRE).

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Prizes!

Google Search Console Report
This showed up in my email this morning. Looks like I won a contest of some sort, they awarded me a trophy after all. Okay, it's just an icon representing a trophy, but still, something nice, or least not bad.

I don't know what any of it means, and I'm pretty sure I don't care. I just checked my blogger stats and a ten year old post about Zimbabwe that has been in the top spot for years has been knocked out, so maybe Google finally got around to looking at how they were collecting these stats. I don't know where they are getting their referring pages though, none of them even mention me. The top referring page is three years old. I think there Google's stat collection is still a bit wonky.

Stupid

I'm reading The five universal laws of human stupidity by Corinne Purtill and as I scroll down this combination of text and picture appears:

Stupidity leads to a new Mercedes
which I think is a perfect sequence, given my disdain for over-priced German vehicles.

This is probably due to my cheapskate attitude, which I undoubtedly got from my parents. It's not just expensive German cars I abhor, it's anything that carries a premium price tag based on some perceived superiority. Apple, Sony and Honda products all fall in the same category.

I have this attitude mostly because my upbringing doesn't allow me to spend money foolishly, and if you haven't squeezed ever penny of value out of a dollar, you're wasting money. If I had more money, I would relax a bit. Shoot, I have a bit more money and I have relaxed, but not enough that I would be willing to throw away money on a stupid Mercedes.

The big idea though, the one that I just recently realized, is that people will pay good money for services, services I would never buy because I can do it myself. The circular thought running around in my brain for the last 50 years has been that because I could take care of a problem myself, I would never pay for it, and since everybody else could likewise take care of their own problem, nobody else would pay for someone else to fix it either.

Call it the curse of over-competence. Of course, doing things for other people requires talking to them, and there are few people I enjoy talking to. I suspect that might be because I am too wrapped up with all the nonsense running around in my head. Between that and napping, I just don't have the time.

Wikipedia has a short article about Carlo M. Cipolla, the author of the originating essay. It seems be his primary claim to fame.

Via Indy Tom


Monday, December 2, 2019

Stupid Walgreens, Part 2

Filling my pill minder this morning and I run out of one of my drugs. I think I ordered refills last week, but did I really? So I go to walgreens.com and this is what I get:

Walgreens Message
What? Two hours after what? After I log on? Bozo on a pogo. Rx refill status is useless, let's just try the refill page.

Walgreens Error
Great. You know what happened? I'll bet I know. They put bureaucrats in charge of the system, and the one person who actually knew how the system worked got fed up with their bullshit and bailed. Now they have a bunch of clowns scrambling to find their shoes. Effing corporations.

P.S. Walgreens has appeared here at least a dozen times in the last nine years. I'm not quite sure what to make of that.

Belief

Map of Superfund sites as of October 2013. Red indicates currently on final National Priority List, yellow is proposed, green is deleted (usually meaning having been cleaned up).
William Ruckelshaus, a big-time government bureaucrat, passed away a few days ago. He came to fame heading the EPA. Reading the Wikipedia article about him, I came across this quote:
I've had an awful lot of jobs in my lifetime, and in moving from one to another, have had the opportunity to think about what makes them worthwhile. I've concluded there are four important criteria: interest, excitement, challenge, and fulfillment. I've never worked anywhere where I could find all four to quite the same extent as at EPA. I can find interest, challenge, and excitement as [board chair of a company]. I do have an interesting job. But it is tough to find the same degree of fulfillment I found in the government. At EPA, you work for a cause that is beyond self-interest and larger than the goals people normally pursue. You're not there for the money, you're there for something beyond yourself.
At first, I thought this was great. His description of what makes a job worthwhile is spot on. And in general, I think the EPA is a good idea. Too many people were dumping really nasty shit all over the place. But when you start getting into cases, well, it gets a little fuzzy as to just what is 'nasty'.

He banned DDT, which I thought was good. Then I read that he thought global warming was a real problem and I realized that belief is double edged sword. If you believe in a cause, you will fight for it, regardless of whether your cause has merit or not. Of course, the deciding whether a cause has merit or not is also generally a matter of belief.

I try to avoid the global warming issue because the discussion has become completely political. The fight is now between true believers on both sides. I doubt you could find a set of data that both sides would agree on. I suspect that people are arguing about this issue, not because this issue is of paramount importance, but because people like to fight and since we aren't engaged in a great big military conflict (also known as war), they look around for lesser issues to fight about.

Via Indy Tom

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Lost in Translation

Batwoman with Molotov cocktail
DC Comics posted this image, the Chinese Commies complained, so DC pulled it. Hey, if it tweaks the commies' noses, I'm all for it, so here it is.

Via Monday Evening

Younger son has been on vacation, so we've been working on his house, which has been consuming my time and energy, which is why I haven't been posting much lately.

Childish Gambino Christmas Special


Childish Gambino Christmas Special

Second good thing I found on reddit today.

Monday, November 25, 2019

The Blue Marble


The Blue Marble

Yet another Rube Goldberg type marble race track. This one uses some tricks I haven't seen before. As time goes by it seems that people are devising ever more complex arrangements. I wonder what we will see in ten years.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Automation & Big Government

The Hunger Games Society
I had a revelation: automation lead to big government. Automation has lead to a few people making large amounts of money while putting large numbers of other people out of work. Naturally, people wondered what to about this largess, and simultaneously they wondered what are we going to do with all these unemployed people? I know! We'll form a committee to study the issue. And that's how the government grew so big that it took over our lives.

P.S. I dunno nothing about David Icke (the pic and link), but I needed a pic and this one sufficed, so here it is.

Friday, November 22, 2019

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Left: The Malaysian lawyer and activist Grace Subathirai Nathan, whose mother was on board MH370. Right: Blaine Gibson, an American who has mounted a search for debris from the airplane. (William Langewiesche)
William Langewiesche has a story in The Atlantic that summarizes what we know about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which isn't much. He also relates some theories about what happened, all of which he dismisses, except for one, which is pretty grizzly.

The most interesting part is about Blaine Gibson, who had no connection with the flight or the investigation, but took it upon himself to go searching for bits of wreckage washing up on Indian Ocean beaches. Surprisingly he found a bunch. Well, several pieces anyway.

William has nothing good to say about the government of Malaysia, unless you consider, corrupt, incompetent, morons as 'good'.

Via Posthip Scott

DMV

California Bob reports:
So now I'm apparently one of those feeble guys who can barely navigate the DMV to get a driver's license.
My license expired in February. Now they have these "Real ID" licenses that are supposed to be de rigeur for air travel, so I figured I'd get one of those. But they require a trip to DMV. But when I got online to make a DMV appt, the nearest appts were 3 months out.
Long story short my license expired, and I forestalled, but finally got an appt and went to DMV today.  I filled out the app online, collected all my paperwork (passport, SS card, 2 proofs of address, etc), put it in a folder and went to DMV.
When I got there, found I had to read a vision chart.  I should have anticipated this, but didn't, and only had my crappy glasses with me.  Fortunately I passed the eye test.
Then there was a mysterious problem with the computer. Lady called her associate over, and it was determined that the problem was my license was expired for so many months. That means I have to take the written exams -- car + motorcycle.  Ah jeez.
I go to the terminal and take the exams.  Pass the car exam but the MC exam has inscrutable questions about towing trailers and "slow, tight turns" and I fail.  Lady at desk tells me I can take it again (or come back).  I sit down and read the DMV MC primer on my phone.  Back to the terminal, more weirdo questions about "if your throttle sticks..."  Anyway I pass this time.
Something at the end of the test indicates to me that I could have skipped a few questions with no penalty, which I wish I had figured out the first time.
At the end, a victory, my license is being processed and should be here soon.  However I am now depressed, b/c I thought I had prepared pretty well, but only defeated the DMV by the skin of my teeth. Could easily have gone the other way.

some useless information supposed to fire my imagination


The Rolling Stones Satisfaction (I Cant Get No)

Organized retail crime costs retailers nearly $778,000 per $1 billion in sales . . . (don't follow the link, it's crap).

That is less than one-tenth of one percent. The stores could save more by renegotiating the rate that the credit card companies suck off the top.

Note they are talking about organized retail crime, which I suspect means traveling gangs who swoop in and grab a bunch of high dollar items before heading off to the next town. They aren't talking about shoplifting.

Typical mass media, babbling about a small problem that it going to get people stirred up, but isn't going to have a big effect, other than fuck up the lives of people who get stirred up and decide to do something about it and end up getting arrested for assault or worse.

There have always been thieves, and if they are stealing from big box stores, then at least they are not breaking into people's houses. Mostly it's a matter of belief / religion. On one side you have the good citizens who believe theft is bad and who have enough money that they can buy what they need. On the other, we have those don't feel like they are part of society and are going to ignore social conventions in order to get what they feel they deserve. If might be that they have been expelled from society, and it wouldn't have to be for bad behavior, it could be something as common as getting laid off. Or it could be that they have rejected the position that society has offered them. Could be a good reason, or it could be a personality defect.

Via Iaman

P.S. I always thought the line from the song was 'fry my imagination', but I suppose that's what you would get from firing it.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

By ? Large

Sailboat
Reading a post about the possible coming attack on Taiwan by Communist China, I notice the phrase 'by in large' which gets my attention because I have always thought of it as 'by and large' but when I say it, it comes out sounding like 'by en large' which could easily be interpreted as 'by in large' even though that's not what I meant. Anyway, it's an old sailing term and means 'generally'.

Monday, November 18, 2019

US Aircraft Carriers


USS Shangri-La
Aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Shangri-La, circa 1962, somewhere in the Mediterranean Sea. From the film - Flying Clipper, (1962). With narration by Burl Ives.

The USA has been flying supersonic aircraft from carriers consistently for over 60 years. No one else's record comes anywhere close.

The Grumman F-11 Tiger was the first supersonic jet fighter to operate from an aircraft carrier. They started in 1956. Of the aircraft in the video, the Skyhawk is notable (in my mind) because Argentina had a bunch of them. The other jet fighter in the video is the F-8 Crusader. I seem to recall having a model of one when I was a kid. It wasn't a particularly good-looking aircraft, but it was certainly capable. John Glenn made the first super-sonic cross country flight in a Crusader in 1957. Along the way he refueled from propeller driven AJ Savage tankers. He would have had to slow down to hook up with the tankers since they weren't able to go that fast. I suspect no one has tried to perform in-flight refueling at super-sonic speeds.

The photo reconnaissance version of the Crusader was sent to take some pictures of the Russians during the Cuban missile crisis. The F-101 Voodoo was also sent. The Voodoo was a land based airplane and was not designed to work with aircraft carriers.

The Crusader had 'variable-incidence' wings, which means the wing was mounted on a pivot so that the angle of attack could be changed to make it possible for the pilot to see where he was going and allow the aircraft to fly slow enough to land on a carrier.

Watching the video, I noticed that right at the beginning of the catapult launch, a flap across the big air inlet under the nose opens up. Didn't find any explanation for it.


US Aircraft Carriers

At the start of WW2, we had eight aircraft carriers. During the course of the war, we built another 26. After the war, construction slowed down for a few years, but then in 1955 it picked up again and we've been building them pretty consistently ever since. We currently have eleven aircraft carriers. At a million dollars a day each, it's costing the average American family of four about a dollar a week to keep them all running.

I haven't figured out how to get the date to display across the bottom of the above chart, so I made up a little table to show the corresponding dates.


Correspondence of Days & Dates



Via daily timewaster

More aircraft carrier posts here.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Green Frontier


Green Frontier | Official Trailer | Netflix

Murder and mayhem in the Amazon jungle. Our girl has come from the big city to investigate the murder of 4 women missionaries and she encounters a whole smorgasbord of characters. The best part is the atmosphere. A little spooky, a little mystic, a little psycho, and occasionally a little bit of common sense shows up. It's pretty great. Plus we've got Amazon jungle scenery.

Leticia, Amazonas Department, Colombia
The show was filmed is Leticia Colombia, which is the southermost point in Colombia and right on the border with Peru and Brasil.

Leticia, Amazonas Department, Colombia
Leticia is also right on the Amazon river, so you could float all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.


Saturday, November 16, 2019

Japanese US2 Flying Boat


【4K】US 2 父島での訓練 Part5
([4K] US 2 Training in Chichijima Part5)

The video is a little slow moving, but it is a big, expensive aircraft, so you want to be careful. Engine startup begins before the one minute mark. after that:
2:10 aircraft starts moving, but the motion is barely perceptible for about 15 seconds
2:50 nose wheel touches the water, using reverse thrust to slow their descent into the water.
3:25 aircraft is afloat
3:45 landing gear retracts
5:45 the aircraft has turned sideways and one of crew is waving, or maybe he's just wiping the window
7:05 break in recording, airplane has completed its turn into open water
7:35 break, aircraft continues taxiing across the harbor
8:24 break, spectators standing on the breakwater
8:32 break, wide shot of breakwater with aircraft in the distance
8:42 break, aircraft maneuvering, rock in foreground
9:42 break, aircraft begins takeoff run

Flying boats are the epitome of cool. They were the first aircraft to cross the oceans, reducing days to travel time to hours. Plus all the people who flew on them were cool. Of course they were cool, they were rich and could afford to buy fancy clothes that made them look cool. Plus Jimmy Buffett had one, and what could be more cool that island hopping in the Caribbean in your own private flying boat? I mean this is the stuff of a million fantasies.

Recorded on October 23 at Ogasawara Village, Chichijima Futami Port

The ramp is clearly visible on a satellite image:
Chichijima Aircraft Ramp
Okinawa (center left), Chichijima (center), Iwo Jima (just below Chichijima)
Chichijima is really out in the middle of nowhere. It is about 600 miles from Tokyo, 900 miles from Okinawa and just over 100 miles from Iwo Jima.

I think the US-2 was the largest operational flying boat for a while. It has recently been eclipsed by one from China, which might be operational.

The Rifleman

Chuck Connors with rifles
Saw this over at daily timewaster. I recognized him immediately, of course, because I'm old, but I couldn't think of the actor's name. So I go to Wikipedia where I found this bit:

Large loop cocking lever
The Rifleman's gimmick was a modified Winchester Model 1892 rifle, with a large ring lever drilled and tapped for a set screw. The lever design allowed him to cock the rifle by spinning it around his hand. In addition, the screw could be positioned to depress the trigger every time he worked the lever, allowing for rapid fire, emptying the magazine in under five seconds during the opening credits on North Fork's main street.
Empty the magazine in five seconds? See for yourself:


The Rifleman - "Sharpshooter" Season 1 Episode 1

Billy Jack had a similar rifle. He was able to work the action one-handed. I tried it once with an unmodified lever action rifle. It about took my hand off.

Via daily timewaster

Friday, November 15, 2019

Non Sequitur

Rod Stewart's model train layout
I like model trains and I like pop music, but I would never in a million years have suspected that Rod Stewart was building a King Kong sized model train layout in his attic.

Via Brian Micklethwait's New Blog

John Day Oregon

Kam Wah Chung General Store
John Day Oregon
John drove out to John Day on Monday to get a client up to speed on a new computer system. John Day isn't much of a town, the population is less than 2,000, which isn't too surprising since it is smack dab in the middle of eastern Oregon, some of the most desolate terrain in the world. Okay, that's not exactly fair. The town is on the John Day river, in a valley surrounded by tree covered mountains. But Malheur county is right next door.

The Oregon Encyclopedia has a good article about the Kam Wah Chung General Store.

Wikipedia's article about the town notes that "federal policies . . . shut down all gold mining in the United States in 1942". Really? That sounds kind of weird. Google turns up a case on FindLaw that explains the situation:
Early in 1941, it became apparent to those in charge of the Nation's defense mobilization that we faced a critical shortage of nonferrous metals, notably copper, and a comparable shortage of machinery and supplies to produce them. Responsive to this situation, the Office of Production Management (OPM) and its successor, the War Production Board (WPB), issued a series of Preference Orders. These gave the producers of mining machinery and supplies relatively high priorities for the acquisition of needed materials. They also gave to those mines, which were deemed important from the standpoint of defense or essential civilian needs, a high priority in the acquisition of such machinery. Gold mines were classified as nonessential and eventually were relegated to the lowest priority rating.
Gold was non-essential? Who'd a thunk that gold, the most sought after metal in the world, would be deemed non-essential? Since gold has become the preferred material for plating electronic connectors I doubt that such an order would fly today.


Thursday, November 14, 2019

Staring


Dan Croll - From Nowhere (Official Video)

The tune is fine, the video is kind of clever. What's up with everyone staring into the camera? All is revealed at the end. Bonus points if you figure it out before the big reveal. I didn't, even though in hindsight it is perfectly obvious. Obvious, that is, if you remember the games you played when you were a kid.

I signed up for YouTube premium just after they bumped the price from $10 a month to $12. Figures. I could tolerate a few random ads, but when they start hammering me with the same ad over and over again it got to be annoying. My kids recommend Spotify and while it might work fine with smartphones, the desktop browser version seems to be broken. Besides, I seem to like older music more than newer music. This tune is from 2014. I had never heard it before a couple of days ago. I suspect that most of the new stuff is popular just because it's new and different, not because it's any good. Let a few years go by and the dross will fade and the good stuff will float to the top.

I don't like paying money for something I've always gotten for free, but maybe it's time, and it's not like $12 a month is going to bust me. I'm paying $16 a month for HBO and I don't even use it anymore since Game of Thrones is over. Netflix has an apparently endless supply of shows. Even if I watch a movie every night I'm not going to make a dent in their supply. They are probably adding shows faster than anyone could watch them. Of course, a lot of them are dross, but sometimes it isn't apparent that a show is a stinker until you get half way through and by then you've invested so much mental energy in it that you may as well finish watching it.

I signed up for YouTube TV recently in the mistaken belief that I could do away with cable TV completely. You can't, not if you want to watch your local NBA team. So I canceled it. It was easy. Just go to the web page and click on cancel. Boom, you're done.

Dealing with the cable TV company is like wading through the circles of hell. I tried to cancel HBO, which I get through Frontier. I spent half an hour chatting with chat bot, only to learn that I had to make an actual phone call to their "retention team". Useless scum sucking pigs. I am trying to figure out how to cancel it without having to talk to anyone. If it would only take five minutes I wouldn't mind, but they've already wasted a half hour of my time, and I suspect they are going to waste an unknown quantity. Maybe if someone dumped a bucket of shit on Frontier's head honcho they would change their ways.


Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Epstein

Aircraft tail codes used to spell out 'Epstein didn't kill himself'
The 'Epstein didn't kill himself' just keeps getting stronger and sillier. This one made me chuckle. Did he? Yes, no, maybe so. I doubt we will ever have any proof one way or the other. Either way it's an article of faith for true believers.

Brain Fart


AI in Brainfuck

First of all I don't approve of the name. People you the word 'fuck' entirely too often. It is often used as an expletive by people who are frustrated by something they are working on, people like mechanics and programmers. I have been both and I have used the word extensively, but speaking it is different than writing it. Speak it and the sound vibrations dissipate into the atmosphere and no damage is done, unless someone with sensitive ears is nearby and hears it. I don't approve of using it to name things because that leads to the word being used as noun, which is dumb. Couldn't they have come up with a better name? Apparently the originator had a brain fart that prevented better word smithing. Whatever.

Mitxela has posted the source code for his tic tac toe program along with a debugger. Copy the source code and paste it into the debugger and you can watch it run while it tries to beat you at tic tac toe. I had to turn the speed down to zero in order to see anything happen, otherwise it goes to fast for anything to show up.

I have to admire that Urban was able to develop a 'complete' language using only 8 characters. Wikipedia has an article about it. I really enjoyed the video. The guy's voice has a soporific quality, so much so that was I content to let his explanations pass by without examining whether they made sense or not. The program works, so there's a good chance that his explanations are correct. It could be that the video is all a sham to disguise what he is really doing, but why would he do that? Of course the same question could be asked of the originator. Why would you do something like this? For fun, obviously.

Via Dennis, which prompted Jack to reply with INTERCAL, which was designed to be really stupid, which is how all programming languages look when you are starting down the road towards digital nirvana / oblivion.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Hache


Hache | Tráiler oficial | Netflix

A fun little series about crazy people running around Barcelona back in the 1960's. Hache is Spanish for the letter H. H is for Helena, the lead trouble maker. It also stands for heroin, which is what is fueling all this mayhem. Down-on-her-luck Helena gets in a fight in a fancy nightclub and catches the eye of the proprietor who takes possession of her, except Helena isn't going to be possessed. Yeah, so we've got a bit of a conflict between two people who are attracted to each other for different reasons. Malpica, the proprietor comes from money, he has some property around town, but he is heavy in the heroin business, facilitating the transshipment of hundreds of kilos on it's way from Iran to the USA. Marseilles used to be the center of this, but things have gotten a little difficult there, so Barcelona is picking up the slack. Lucky Luciano makes an appearance at a conference of his cohorts at a hotel in Marseilles where they have taken over the whole hotel. That's one way to keep hoi polloi out of the way.

Several of the main characters are addicted to heroin and Malpica uses morphine on regular basis to control the pain in his bullet damaged leg. I was going to say 'war damaged leg' but this was the sixties, was there any kind of war going on?
After World War II Spain was politically and economically isolated, and was kept out of the United Nations. This changed in 1955, during the Cold War period, when it became strategically important for the US to establish a military presence on the Iberian Peninsula as a counter to any possible move by the Soviet Union into the Mediterranean basin. In the 1960s, Spain registered an unprecedented rate of economic growth which was propelled by industrialisation, a mass internal migration from rural areas to Madrid, Barcelona and the Basque Country and the creation of a mass tourism industry. - Wikipedia
The Spanish civil war was over before WW2 started, and WW2 finished long before this story got started, so Malpica's injury might not have come from a military battle, except he got hit by an 'exploding shell', which sounds military. Of course he is in the heroin business, so he could have had a run-in with the coasties (or whatever the Spanish equivalent of the Coast Guard is), or it could have been trouble with a rival gang who managed to get hold of biggish gun. Franco was running things and being the defacto king, he wasn't going to put up with any guff, especially from an entitled heroin smuggler. So I could see Malpica feeling his oats in his younger days and getting smacked down. Lucky he survived. Franco was in charge until his death in 1975.

Most of Malpica's gang don't use heroin. His lawyer asks one of the people who does use it what it is like. That was a bright spot in the dialog. He doesn't know because he's never used it. Huh. Malpica considers addicts unreliable. Anna, the wife of the US consul, plays a key role in getting the drugs through Barcelona, possibly by giving her doting husband documents to sign, assuring him that is 'nothing important, it just needs your signature darling'. I just made that up, I'm not sure they give us that much of an explanation. Anyway, she's an addict and a complete flake.

It's nice when the lead character in a story has a clear line that they follow, perhaps because then you can predict how they are going to react to any given situation, and when something happens and they react as you think they should, you are rewarded with a little bubble of happiness. That doesn't happen in this show. Hache is always going off at a tangent, most of which seem like a bad idea, but they mostly seem to turn out, well, if not good, at least not too bad, and some of them turn out great, which might be part of the reason Malpica is so attracted to her. Beauty, brains and chutzpah.

In Spanish with subtitles. The preview doesn't have subtitles, but it still gives you a pretty good feel for the show.

P.S. Variety has a story about the show.

Anger and Apathy

Most of the news and most political discourse consists of lunatics raving about things that don't matter. Important issues are ignored, or if they are talked about, they are discussed in dry academic  terms by people who are not in a position to do anything about it. What am I going to do about it? I'm going to write this post, that'll show 'em.

The United States of America is like a giant ocean liner. Up top we have a large wheel house where the captains of industry attempt to keep the ship on course (plowing straight ahead). Just below the wheelhouse, but above the main deck are the politicians. They are on two stages, one red and one blue. Just below them, on the main deck is everyone who has come up from below decks for a bit of fresh air, although how fresh it is with all the hooting and hollering going on is debatable. A good portion of these folks are engage in a game of rugby, trying to get the ball to one end of the ship or the other, and when the competition gets particularly vigorous, pushing the opponents over the side.
Below this main deck are all the compartments of modern life where people live and work.

So what are the important issues that we are doing an adequate job of dealing with?
  • mental health, especially the number of crazies locked up in prisons
  • the large number of people in prison and the consequent overcrowding
  • the growing number of homeless people
  • inflation
  • Mexico
I don't particularly care about the Mideast. They have their own brand of crazy. They are going to have to sort it out for themselves. It ought to burn itself out sometime within the next century. Any attempts to bring it into the modern age should be looking at a timeline measured in decades, which means that very few people will pay any attention to it. We should support Israel because they are the one beacon of rational thought in an otherwise insane and hostile environment.

Mexico is right next door. If we want to help anyone, we should be helping our neighbors. Whether they want any help is another matter, as is what kind of help would be beneficial. I think they need a new constitution, one that protects property rights and restricts the influence of the Catholic Church. They might have to go through a civil war before they can enact any real changes. They seem to be well down that road. We shall see.

Inflation means that diligently putting a few bucks into a savings account every week and hoping that in 30 or 40 years it will have grown to a sizable amount is foolish. The number will be big, but the value will be less than zero. The cause of inflation is deficit spending by the Federal government. I don't know how we're going to stop that. My old style, analog brain tells me that this house of cards is eventually going to collapse. But that won't happen as long as people keep buying government bonds. The biggest customers might be foreigners who are looking for a safe haven to stash their loot. Any normal capitalist would invest in their own country, but when your country is a disaster, that would be pointless. The money might provide a spark for a moment, but it would quickly be consumed. Anyway, when the Saudis stop buying bonds, watch out because the end is near.

The problem with our prisons is similar to the problems with our health care system. We have this idea of how these systems should be run, an idea that has been formed by countless lawsuits, but there isn't enough money in the world to run these systems as we would like to see them run. What we need is a lower level but pervasive level of care.

Prisons don't need to be made of concrete. Tents and chain link fence is enough. A little fresh air and sunshine could help improve mental health. And prisoners don't need to be protected from each other. They gave up that protection when they committed their crime. Let them sort themselves out. Let them decide who among them is suitable for parole, and who should be sent to the next inner circle.

Of course, there is also the problem of who ends up in prison. But right now I need a cup of coffee.





Monday, November 11, 2019

Fun with Streetview

HIDE front entrance
I'm reading a story on Forbes and they mention a secret elevator for automobiles at a fancy restaurant (called HIDE) in London. Cool! Just the thing for a James Bond villain or maybe Bruce Wayne. So off to Google's Streetview to see what there is to see. Well, to start with, not much. Typical city street scene with traffic, pedestrians and boring store fronts. But then I go down the street towards the corner (because there are no car entrances on the main street, the entrance to the secret elevator is probably around the side) and boom! I'm in the middle of a Brexit protest.

One side of the Brexit protest

Other side of the Brexit protest
Move ten feet further and the Brexit protest disappears. Go around the corner and there is a garage entrance, fully occupied with stuff and people working. Clever, those evil villains, disguising their secret entrance as storage locker.

HIDE garage elevator entrance
Go a little further down this side street to see if there is anything else (there isn't), but when I try to head back the way I came, I can't. The street is blocked off by construction.

Dead end
So, not much substance to this post. I just thought it was curious the way that Brexit protest popped up in the middle of nothing, and then disappears like it was never there.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

War

Scene from Gears 5 video game
War is bad. War is terrible. War is awful. Peace is good. Everyone wants peace. No one wants war. That is what I have always heard and it is all surely true. But war continues, not right here, and not right now, but there is always a war going on somewhere.

It occurs to me that war, if not genetic, may be ingrained in our psyche due to zillions of years of social conditioning. We have been fighting wars as long as there have been people (see Ertuğrul). Shoot, that might be what differentiates us from animals. We developed language, language that allows us to communicate abstract ideas to each other, which allows us to organize ourselves to work towards a common goal, like killing all those people on the other side of this hill. War is part of who we are and denying that isn't going to stop it.

After a war, people enjoy the peace for a while, but eventually some little thing irritates us and that starts to grow into a dissatisfaction that grows into anger and eventually you have critical mass of angry people and you go to war.

We watched The King the other night and near the end William admits that he deliberately deceived Henry V so as to set England on a course for war with France - because peace requires a victory.

I started reading Barbara Elliot's story about the reasons behind the fall of the Berlin Wall.  There are a dozen reasons, but they don't really explain it. Barbara's explanation, near as I can make out, is that a critical mass of people finally came to realize that what the state was selling was bullshit and they weren't buying it anymore. Sure there were a bunch of reasons for the state to collapse, but what it came down to was belief, and a great majority of the people no longer believed the communist propaganda that they had been fed all their lives.

Meanwhile, back in the USA, some people are worried about a civil war. I don't think it's going to happen. The number of people who are that angry is very small, most of us have enough to keep us occupied. Yes, the angry people make a lot of noise, but the only people who listen to them are other angry people. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the really angry people (on the left and the right) are locked in echo chambers of their own making.

Maybe this is why we (the USA) are engaged in all these little wars all over the world. The human psyche requires a certain amount of war and by engaging in all these 'police actions' we keep that demon satisfied and keep him from getting loose here in the states.

Converting berdan cases to use boxer primers


Converting berdan cases to use boxer primers.

Jack has several old rifles in obscure calibers. For some of them, he has had to resort to machining cases from solid brass in order to make cartridges so he can shoot them. I have been following his efforts in this regard for a while now, so this video, if it didn't hit close to home, it certainly landed nearby. Besides, we're reusing stuff that is normally thrown away, so hey, free money.

Ammunition for rifles and pistols is composed of four elements:

  1. bullet - the lead projectile
  2. case - a metal tube that holds all the other elements together
  3. gun powder - provides the explosive force
  4. primer - sets everything in motion when properly struck
Primers work by smashing a tiny amount of lead styphnate* between two pieces of metal: the back of the primer and the anvil. With Berdan primed ammunition, the anvil is incorporated into the case (see splash photo for the video above. A shell designed for use with a Berdan primer is on the left.) With boxer ammo, the anvil is part of the primer, and instead of an anvil and two small holes, there is one hole. That hole makes it easy to push the expended primer out of the case. As such, boxer ammo is preferred by people who like to reload ammunition.

Ammunition varies widely in price, from a couple of cents per cartridge for 22 caliber ammo to 50 cents for a 30 caliber rifle cartridge. It's probably more now, I haven't checked lately. If you shoot a lot, and you are shooting larger calibers, your ammunition bills can quickly become exorbitant, hence the desire to reload. The primer, bullet and powder are all expended when you shoot, but the case remains, and the case is the expensive part as it is generally made of brass.

Berdan primers are commonly found in military ammo. We have been making modern metallic cartridge firearms for over a hundred years and there seems to be no end to the variety of guns that have been made. Likewise, the variety of the required ammunition is nearly as varied, and some of them are not very popular. If you go poking around in the esoteric world of old firearms, you may find yourself with a gun that uses an oddball caliber, and when you go looking for ammo you may find that only a handful of Berdan primed cartridges are available. Being able to reload those cartridges becomes a worthwhile quest.

*we used to use mercury fulminate but not so much anymore.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Bob Reeve famous Alaskan Bush Pilot

Autographed copy Glacier Pilot
Iaman reports:
Just finished the book Glacier Pilot by Beth Day 1957.  Biography of  Bob Reeve famous Alaskan Bush Pilot.   I bought a biographical signed  copy for a $1 at a Unitarian church book sale.
Great stories; learned about reindeer hair affect on aviation oil relief valves,  flying on/off mud flats, beaches, river sandbars,  crevased glaciers, antiaircraft guarded military fields....  the US Aleutian military buildup prior to Pearl Harbor.
Bob had just a couple crashes and lived to be 78 by being a stickler for safety,  adherence to checklists,  performing maintenance and rebuilds much earlier than called for  by factory specs.

Speed of Light

What we have here are a set of animations that show the speed of light relative to our nearest neighbors in space.


Around the Earth



Between Earth and Moon


Between Earth and Mars

Via The Silicon Graybeard and Business Insider. They paint a dismal picture of the future of space exploration, but they don't consider time dilation, which makes all things possible. Traveling anywhere in space will still mean being trapped in a metal box for months or years on end, which is sort of similar to the sea voyages made when people first set out to explore our planet.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

What Kind of Sorcery Is This?


Stolen entire, title and all, from The Feral Irishman. It's a little unsettling seeing it move when it is just a static image.