Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest

Tuesday, August 20, 2019


Widows | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX

A thoroughly unpleasant movie. Four guys who have been staging successful robberies for years pull one more heist and get killed.. They leave behind their widows, who decide the best way to correct their reduced circumstances is to do the next job they planned. The women are pretty good, but just about every man in this movie is some kind lousy dirt bag. The best part of it is that the worst of them get their just desserts.

Steve McQueen, dead actor

Steve McQueen, live director

Directed by Steve McQueen. Wait, what? No, not that Steve McQueen. He's been dead for years. This is a different Steve McQueen. On HBO.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Chicken Stabbing

Chicken Stabbing
The British Home Office has hit upon a new strategy to curb knife crime, by putting anti-stabbing messages on boxes of fried chicken takeaway in several restaurant chains in England and Wales. Critics are calling it racist. - RT
Critics are calling it racist? Oh, that's funny.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away


How to remove layers of flooring tile subfloor

Uniberp is tearing out the old flooring in his cabin by the lake. Reminds me of when the boys and I were tearing out multiple layers of old flooring from the house on North Swenson. I even bought an identical crowbar. It's some kind of Stanley super bar.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Mule

THE MULE - Official Trailer

Clint Eastwood is getting old. There's not much to the story. Guy grows flowers, alienates his family, goes broke, gets a gig hauling drugs for the cartel, makes some money, redeems himself a bit. The best part was just watching Clint. I've been watching him forever and now he is getting old. He is really starting to look like my father before he died. On HBO.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The Sexican - Cuarto de la Banda

The Sexican - Cuarto de la Banda

This video just popped up on YouTube. It's so unusual I just had to share. Does anyone really prefer those fringed-bathing cap headresses most of the girls are wearing? I much prefer the long hair on the lead girl. Probably makes me a sexist pig or something. That's okay, I'm comfortable with who I am. Oink, oink.

Rapid Fire Crossbow

"Jörg-Ko-Nu": Enhancing The Ancient "Full Auto" Chinese Crossbow?
Tribute to Zhuge Liang
Video starts with expose' of YouTube's war on guns. Real video starts at 3:12

We've been watching Princess Weiyoung on Netflix, another historical soap opera with about a zillion episodes. This one is set in China round about 500AD. We're about half way through and some thugs pop up with automatic crossbows, which got me to wondering if there really was such a thing. Seems there was.

Astute Observation

When I'm travelling, I divide the world into Spontaneous countries and Research countries. Spontaneous countries have a culture of caring about the pleasures of the table, so visitors benefit from what the locals take for granted. You can drop into almost any eating place and be confident of getting a meal that is at least interesting. Examples are France, Italy, Spain and Thailand.
Research countries have a history of perceiving food as fuel, designed simply to build up strength for work. A visitor needs to do a lot of homework to find good cooking there. Examples are Britain and the US. - David Dale
Via Bayou Renaissance Man


Unlocked Cast
OK counter-terrorist action-thriller. Excerpt from the Hollywood Reporter review:
In theory, Unlocked is a noble attempt to forge a female counterpart to Bourne or Bond. But in reality, it is seriously hobbled by a creaky script and clumsy performances. Apted has a respectable track record, but he can do little to energize a groaningly familiar Frankenplot that seems to have been patched together from half a dozen equally forgettable movies and depends on a string of increasingly implausible double-cross twists instead of generating its own innate dramatic tension. The apocalyptic bio-terror attack, an oddly amateurish scheme hatched by a handful of unhinged hardliners with poorly explained motives, is also fatally low on suspense. It even climaxes with one of those frantic race-against-time countdowns that long ago jumped the shark from action thriller staple to Austin Powers-level parody.
I didn't notice any "clumsy performances", but "Frankenplot" definitely applies. Should I mention that the "frantic race-against-time countdown" happens with our heroine dangling over the edge of an umpteen story stairwell? This happens near the end. It's like they've already done everything new they can think of, so they have to throw in some cliches.

Noomi has been here before under similar circumstances.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Little Sure Shot

Annie Oakley on Film (1894)

Today is Annie Oakley's birthday. This video includes 20-odd seconds of her in action. Pretty good considering it was filmed 125 years ago. has the story.

Via Borepatch, except his post has disappeared.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Red Door Meet

Looking north onto 2nd Avenue from the 7th floor of 215 S.E. Morrison St. - Mark Graves
Leaving the restaurant after dinner yesterday, we drove one block and ran into a cruise-in. The street was totally packed with people and cars, parked cars, cars crawling along bumper to bumper. We sat there waiting for a couple of minutes until some dude stepped into the travel lane and gave me room to pull into the line. I felt a little out of place driving my box stock Japanese SUV in amongst a passel of Asian hot rods and American lo-riders. The picture doesn't show how crowded it was, it was like going to the fair.

I picked this picture because it shows the old Olympic Mills Building. I didn't notice it when we were there even though we drove right by that corner.

Le Bistro Montage

Montage Restaurant, Portland Oregon
Took the family out for dinner yesterday to celebrate the girl's birthdays. Montage is on the east side of the river, right next to the ramp leading to the Morrison Bridge.

NO MINORS sign at La Merde
We started with drinks next door at La Merde (you really gave your bar a shit name?) where they had this enormous NO MINORS sign. Must be eight feet wide.

This painting (SCIENCE) hangs in the dining room. The give away postcards of this one.

Montage Bar with broken frying pans
Notice the three broken frying pans hanging on the wall in the above image. I kind of wondered what the story was, but now that I've had time to reflect I'm even more curious. I mean, first of all, how the heck do you break a frying pan? There are no obvious signs of trauma, so how was it done? I suppose it could be done with fire and ice, but why? It's just weird man.

I had the chicken fried steak, mostly on account of not having seen it on a menu since I left Texas 30 years ago. It was fine, but it's really a meal for a hungry man, and being as don't do that much work anymore I seldom develop a real appetite. I ate the whole thing anyway and it left me contented.

The tab for drinks and dinner for six ran about $200. We were light drinkers, three of us were driving.


Epic Ring Girl
Bustedknuckles encountered some difficulties while working on an old Ford Bronco. I've run into some ugly mechanical problems, but his tale is epic. Beware, he uses some foul language. It's fairly mild compared to what you might hear in my garage when I run into these sort of difficulties.

  1. Once Again My Delicate Sensibilities Have Been Brutally Assaulted By A Certain Ford Product
  2. And Then Came The Rain
  3. Once More Into The Breach
  4. That’s Right MuthaFucka
  5. I Like Winning

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Kaspersky Software Lingers On Sensitive Government Systems 2 Years After U.S. Ban

Kapersky Anti-Virus Software
Forbes has the story. Back when I used to run the Microsoft Windows operating system software on my personal computer, I used Kaspersky anti-virus software. It was much less hassle than McAfee or any of the other stuff that was floating around back then. I thought it was a little weird that it was coming out of Russia rather than the USA, but it was free and it seemed to do the trick.

Trying to secure all of the computers being used by government employees sounds like a thankless task, especially if they are in politics. Politicians, as we are constantly reminded, are generally idiots who at best can come up with endless stream of inflammatory one-liners. Maintaining a secure computer is beyond most of them, hell, it's beyond most people. Any system running anti-virus software is, almost by definition, insecure.

Me, I run Linux, and it mostly works, most of the time. But then I'm not working in national defense or politically charged situations.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Painting of the Day

Landscape with Phaser - John Brophy
Silly gimmick painting, but it caught my eye. When I first saw this picture, the device seemed familiar, like an electric razor, or an old remote control for a TV, or maybe some kind of printer. Phaser didn't spring to mind, but then I did a little checking.

Star Trek Phaser
The Wand Company makes reproduction science fiction movie props and this is one. It doesn't 'phase' but it can be used to control your TV.

Via Boing Boing


Muskingum County Courthouse, Zanesville Ohio
John Litle, a Muskingum County, Ohio, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney, has a few things to say about fentanyl. It's definitely worth reading.

Fentanyl has been mentioned here before.

Near the end of the Netflix series Yankee, the anti-hero is proposing that the Mexican drug lords increase their production of fentanyl. I thought that was a dumb idea. Fentanyl is much more dangerous, do you want to kill off your customers? Heroin has a long history, people are familiar with it. Moving to fentanyl is going to cause problems. Evidently I was wrong, drug lords don't care about their customers dying, there seems to be an endless supply of people seeking relief from living.

Fentanyl is being used to make counterfeit prescription opioids.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

Pic of the Day

Japan Air lines McDonnell Douglas DC-8
This is a Post Card from the early 1970s. Flight between Tokyo and Paris was approximately 20 hours back then. Flight time today is like 12 hours. Why was it so different? Jet airliners, new or old, fly around 500 MPH. The USSR might have something to do with it:

Airspace Closure and Civil Aviation: A Strategic Resource for Airline Managers By Steven D. Jaffe, page 144
Cold War Polar Routes
Airlines are prohibited from flying over the red areas

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Cod Save the King

How Cod Saved the Vikings

I almost feel guilty about posting Veritasium videos. Almost every one he produces is great, so great that I can't really add much, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

The title on this one is poor. It might be better to call it How Cod Made the Vikings. He ties rickets, vitamin D and cod liver oil together. I remember hearing about rickets and cod liver oil a long time ago, but I never realized there was a connection, probably because rickets was never an issue. I'm taking vitamin D now. My wife recommended it.

Siege of Paris 885 - Jean-Victor Schnetz 1835
The bit about the Vikings laying seige to Paris was new to me, likewise the reason for the failure of the Viking's Greenland colony and

the British experiments to find a cure for scurvy:
However, it was not until 1747 that James Lind formally demonstrated that scurvy could be treated by supplementing the diet with citrus fruit, in one of the first controlled clinical experiments reported in the history of medicine. As a naval surgeon on HMS Salisbury, Lind had compared several suggested scurvy cures: hard cider, vitriol, vinegar, seawater, oranges, lemons, and a mixture of balsam of Peru, garlic, myrrh, mustard seed and radish root. In A Treatise on the Scurvy (1753) Lind explained the details of his clinical trial and concluded "the results of all my experiments was, that oranges and lemons were the most effectual remedies for this distemper at sea.”
I did know that the Brits originated the regimented use of citrus, I just didn't know how that came to pass.

Time Races On

Nuts & Bolts
When I lived on the farm 50 years ago, I spent some time repairing broken machinery. Nuts and bolts became my friends and I soon discovered that just a few common sizes (1/4", 5/16", 3/8" and 1/2") covered 90% of what I needed. Most nuts and bolts were coarse thread, but every once in a while I'd come across a fine thread, or a 7/16" fastener. They came in different lengths, but most applications weren't too picky about the length. You could often use a longer one where a shorter one had been. I had a set of jars to hold the various sizes. I was prepared for any kind of mechanical breakdown.

Automatic Screw Machine
1871 Waltham Watch Company

Then along came metric, and then somebody gave the Chinese a screw machine and my carefully organized set of nuts and bolts quickly became irrelevant. Having a small set of fasteners that will cover 90% of your requirements is a good thing. When that set only covers only obsolete machinery that no one uses any more, it's kind of pointless.

This seems to have been a recurring theme throughout my life. Just about the time I have mastered a a machine and have all the tools I need to deal with it, the machine has become obsolete and my carefully organized set of tools and parts have become useless. This trend became even more pronounced when I started working on computers.

People like stability, safety and security. They like being sure that they will have something to eat and a comfortable place to sleep. They also have an appetite for new things. For some people, news reports satisfy that urge. For others it might be new stuff like clothes or cars or toys. For others, it's entertainment in the form of movies, music or sports.

Labor Unions focus on stability, safety and security. They want the same job, doing the same thing every day. Businesses like that too. When you have a smoothly running, profitable operation, everyone is happy. Problem is that nothing lasts forever and these days if something lasts ten years it's something of a miracle.

The Great Gatsby and his Duesenberg
When I was a kid back in the 1950's, a millionaire was something exceptional. A billion dollars was unimaginable. A few years ago I watched Flags of Our Fathers and towards the end of the film they are talking about fund raising and how they needed some billions of dollars to finish the war. Then I found out that the phrase 'a million here, a million there and pretty soon you're talking about real money' wasn't about millions, it was actually about billions and it wasn't from the 1960's, it was from before WW2.

How Big is a Trillion Dollars?

You don't hear much about millionaires anymore, billionaires are the hot topic. Every once in a while a news report will mention a trillion dollars, usually in context of whole US economy. Then I come across this report where there is 15 trillion dollars sitting in funds that are paying negative interest rates. Normal people invest money in things that have some kind of positive return. You give your broker $100 and in a year, if all goes well, you get $105 back. With these negative return investments, you are essentially paying them to hold your money for you. It's cheaper than buying a vault and hiring a security force to guard it for you, but that's about the best you can say for it.

There is an unimaginable amount of money out there looking for something to do. That might be why there are so many start-up companies being formed. People are looking for places to invest their money, so almost anyone with any kind of half baked scheme is able to get funding. Many of these will fail, but some of them will succeed, and a few of them might be a spectacular successes.

The fact that interest rates are so low indicates that not enough people are coming up with schemes to make money, or they aren't talking to the right people. Or maybe people are only looking for simple schemes that don't require funding. Complex schemes require working with people, after all, is a difficult job. Some people are good at it, but like most talents just because you are good at one thing does not necessarily entail that you are good at anything else.

The Post Game Interview

The Post-Game Interview
I'm not a big sports fan, though I can enjoy watching a game now and then. To me, the ten second post game interviews are just absurd, but some people seem to enjoy them. Something like this would dumbfound them, I'm sure.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Automotive Justice Now!!!
Mostly I don't like Pinterest because there is seldom any information about the pictures that get posted there, but then I realized it's great for funny stuff because everything I want to know is in the image.


When you go to a fancy party and decide to steal their 50" HD TV
Actually a painting from 1789 of Maria Luisa de Parma by Francisco Jose de Goya

Via dad's deadpool blog

Wreck of the Unbelievable

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable NetFlix TRAILER

I started watching this movie the other night and I thought "this is really cool!".

Model of the 'wrecked ship' Apistos
I mean the world is full of bizarre going-ons, an ancient shipwreck full of sculptures could have been found off the east coast of Africa. I was so excited about this that half way through I stopped watching it so I could dig up some information for a blog posting, and that's when I found out it was all fake. The movie is a really good fake, though. The setting, the equipment, the acting were all thoroughly convincing.

The Severed Head of Medusa
Some of the art works are pretty cool as well. I haven't finished the movie and I don't know if I will.

Damien Hirst's pickled shark, AKA "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living"
The whole thing was a project by Damien Hirst who is famous in the art world (a fantasy land that operates in the upper stratosphere of society) to promote his show in Venice. His fame seems to come from the weird-ass art he produced. I mean is a dead animal in a glass tank full of formaldehyde really art, or is it a scientific specimen?

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Stellar Orbits Around Milky Way's Central Black Hole

Stellar Orbits Around Milky Way's Central Black Hole (1995 - 2195)

I remember seeing something like this a while back, and I just came across it again on Starts with a Bang! It's just the coolest thing ever. The video is speeded up by a factor of two hundred million, but as I recall there are some planets that are so close to the center that they have an orbital period measured in days. How they managed to collect the data in order to produce this video borders on witchcraft. YouTube blurb:
This demo shows the observed and predicted orbits of thirteen stars that were used by astronomers at the Keck/UCLA Galactic Center Group to predict the position of a huge black hole at the center of the Milky Way. This data was provided by Andrea Ghez and Jessica Lu. The animation spans 200 years between 1995 and 2195.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Cheeto Jesus

Cheeto Jesus
Carteach deftly summarizes the political world:
Cheeto Jesus may be many things, good, bad, and ugly.... but he is an undeniable master at directing conversations and eyes.
In just a few tweets, he has made Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Cummings the very face of his opposition.
(I don't call them the face of the Republican parties opposition, because I am quite certain the Trumpster is for himself, and not for any party. The 'pubs hate him as much as the 'Dems do, and Trump was registered D for almost his entire life before swapping out just to run for election.)
In any case, he manages to control the thoughts of millions of people through nothing more than short comments. He's moved into so many peoples heads, they can't help themselves but jump at his every word, if unsteadily so given the knees jerking up and down like reciprocating saws.
Hell.... NPR will likely be bankrupt in about 5 years, since their entire business model has shifted to 'Orange Man Bad 24/7' over the last few years. I doubt they can transition back after Da Trump is out of office.
Prediction.... Whoever becomes the D's anointed candidate for 2020, Trump will tweet his high esteem for. That person will immediately be gutted like a fish, and used by the DNC as a bus drive-line oiler for the rest of the election season.
It's Trumps political world, and he runs it 280 characters at a time.
"Cheeto Jesus". Heh.

I'm not sure exactly what a "bus drive-line oiler" is, but it sound pretty awful.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

The Legend of Drunken Master

The Legend of Drunken Master (7/12) Movie CLIP - The Axe Gang Battle (1994) HD

Watched this old Jackie Chan movie on Netflix last night. I'm watching this scene and I realize this is where Quentin Tarantino got his Crazy 88's for Kill Bill. Also, I think I've seen this tavern in other movies, like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, although the set seems to have been spruced up, and that might have been done to make it look more like it did a thousand years ago when the Chinese empire was in its glory.

Fear & Delight

The Correspondents - Fear & Delight (Official Video)

This just popped up on YouTube. The tune is light, the words are glib, but the video is very clever.
It has gotten 4 million views. Think other people find it entertaining as well?

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Car Wash Troubles

Car Wash from Far Side artist Gary Larson
When I was kid, I thought the automated, drive thru car washes were the cat's pajamas. We probably only went once, they cost money you know, but evidently it made an impression. Since I got married, and appearances are important to SWMBO, and I had more than two nickels to rub together, I started using the local car wash, which made my inner ten-year-old very happy. Not so my daughter. Girl can travel the world without having to call home, but can't go to the car wash without her pappy. Now I know why.

I've never been very good about keeping my cars clean. As long as they ran, that was enough. I did thoroughly clean a few cars, but that was usually because I was putting them up for sale.

Anyway, I seem to have had more than my fair share of problems with Kaddy Car Washes. I took our SUV there a few years ago and once I got fully into the car wash tunnel, water started pouring in. What the heck? Seems that somebody closed the sunshade but had forgotten to close the sunroof all the way. The wet interior was the least of my problems. Seems that sunroof mechanism is kind of delicate, and it wasn't up to the task of closing while the overhead brushes are beating on it. It closed, but something in the mechanism broke and now it won't close completely anymore. I have it propped up with a couple of wood blocks.

A few months ago I took my car to the car wash. I heard a bang, it seemed to come from the car in front of me, a late model Toyota Prius. They stopped the car wash to fix the problem, and then they restarted it. A few seconds later my car is where the previous bang came from and now something is beating the tar out of the side of my car. Seems a big rotating brush had snagged the side view mirror of the car in front of me and ripped it clean off. When my car got to that brush, the mirror assembly was still caught in the brush so every time it went around, my car got beat.

Kaady did right by me, they paid to have the body shop fix it and paid for a rental car for me to use while mine was in the shop. Cost them $2,000. They also gave me a bunch of passes for free car washes.

2016 Mazda 3 Roof Trim
Yesterday, my daughter comes by and she wants to get her car washed. Usually her husband washes it by hand, but he is tied up with work, so she's going to help him out. So we go to the car wash. Halfway through there is a big bang. We look at the car afterwards and don't see anything. Once she gets home her husband takes one look and notices that one of the trim strips that line the edge of the roof is gone. I managed to retrieve the trim strip from the car wash. It is a piece of aluminum with some plastic clips to hold it in place and at least one of those clips is broken / missing. So we are going to have to find a new way to attach it. I think a generous application of silicon sealer will do the trick.

I could holler at Mazda and Kaady, but being as the damage easily can be repaired, it's probably not worth the hassle. Mazda and Toyota may want to try making their cars more car wash resistant. I mean, a car wash brush shouldn't be able to rip things off of your car. Or maybe Kaady needs find some snag free brushes. Or they need to ban me from their car wash.

Friday, August 2, 2019

You've got to know when you've crossed the line.

Metropolitan police horse Echo and Cavalry horse Sefton
A couple of months ago The Adaptive Curmudgeon explained John Wick.

Today, Brian Micklethwait does the same for soccer fans:
Concerning the football match, we later read this:
It is incredibly moving to watch a line of just six horses effortlessly holding back 35,000 fans. The relationship between the police and the British public may be troubled, but judging by this night at least, it seems the force’s equine members still draw a healthy respect.
Healthy respect? My guess is it’s more a case of everyone knowing that hurting human cops is okay, because all’s fair in love and rioting. But hurt a horse, and the whole world considers you scum. I remember the IRA hurting a horse, and the reaction from everyone was: right, that does it. I do not like the IRA any more. Bombing humans to death in places like Manchester and Ireland. That’s okay. But, a horse? Now they’ve crossed a line.

Electronical Excitement

(#0180) Spectacular Failure and Replacement of Vacuum Tube in Atwater Kent 55C AM Radio
[Action starts at 4:50 and runs to failure at 8:00]

Roberta is taking out about out an old radio transmitter and she mentions that Kennetron repairs vacuum tubes, so I go looking for pictures and I find this video. This guy isn't actually repairing a vacuum tube, he's jury-rigging an adapter in order to make use of a different tube. Now he has a bad tube which he proceeds to run to destruction for our amusement (above). Kennetron only repairs vacuum tubes which are worth repairing, i.e. big industrial / commercial tubes. They aren't going to repair the tubes in your audio amplifier.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ivan Groove

Отава Ё - Про Ивана Groove (русское готическое R'N'B) - Otava Yo
[Otava Yo - About Ivan Groove (Russian Gothic R'N'B) - Otava Yo]

Russian hillbillies? Pleasant tune, happy summer video.

IMAX Projector

30 Year Old IMAX Film Projector Is Still Running/POV

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this video of obsolete precision machinery operating smoothly. I suppose it comes from a combination of my natural gearhead tendencies and growing up in the machine age.

Suffering Fools

Extended Trailer: Locked Up Season 1 (Vis A Vis) | Channel 4

We started watching this Spanish crime series on Netflix a couple of days ago, but last night I bailed out. The story is about a nominally middle class, law abiding family that gets sucked into the criminal justice vortex. Given the pressure they are operating under and their naivete, their stupidity might be expected, but gee willikers, there is some really stupid shit going on. In any case, I couldn't take it anymore and bailed out. Also, the casual viciousness of the ringleaders in the woman's prison is a little hard to stomach. That might have something to do with why I quit watching it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this comic showed up in this morning's paper:

Pearls Before Swine - Thinkyman
which hits kind of close to home. There are no end of troubles in this world, or at least no end of people complaining about troubles, but what can be done? Fixing societies ills requires working with people, or more to the point, getting a critical mass of people to agree on what should be done, and I've never been very good at that, or maybe I just don't have the energy or patience. Instead, I try to avoid problem areas. Avoiding problems is not too difficult as long as you have the freedom of movement to get away from them. Not everyone has that luxury. Of course, there are some people who seem to thrive on conflict.

So I hide out in my cave and think deep thoughts and some of them even make it into this blog and out into the world. Some people might read them, and it might affect their opinion on some issue and maybe that will alleviate some problem, somewhere. One can hope. Or not.

Lately I've been wondering why some big cities seem to have so many troubles, problems with homelessness, gangs, crime, poverty, etc. Much of the property in urban areas is owned by a relatively small portion of the population. I would think that property owners would be concerned about property values, and further that the social problems that inner cities are experiencing would have a negative effect on those property values. Vast areas of Detroit were abandoned. Yes, people lost their homes, but the mortgage companies that financed those home also lost a boatload of money.  Why aren't the property owners doing something to combat these social ills? Could if be that the will of the mob is too strong? People would just rather abandon millions of dollars worth of property than try to fight an army of people whose only interest is conflict?

Likewise, I suspect the War On Drugs [tm] has become such a large part of our society that legalizing drugs would have a huge negative effect. We don't have enough for people to do now. At least the War On Drugs [tm] is keeping huge number of people employed. Yes, a lot of them are shit jobs. Being an inmate in a prison has got to be the worst, but at least you are helping to keep prison guards employed, so that ought to count for something when you meet St. Peter.

Computerization has been a double edged sword. It has made material goods cheap and plentiful, but it has also put zillions of people out of work. What used to cost $100 to be done by a person now costs a $1 to be done by a machine. When you have cut the cost of production by that much, your profit margins become huge. You can cut your prices and still make more money than god, which is why we have a proliferation of billionaires. What we don't have is something for the great mass of impoverished people to do, other than pick fights. I'm thinking we need to start a big building program, building things out of stone blocks the way the ancients did. It takes a lot of manpower to build things out of stone. All we need is a god emperor to command everyone to build a ginormous temple.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Half Bound World

The Baroque Cycle
Looking for anything about the computing machine I encountered in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, I came across this wonderful essay by John Derbyshire.

Exchange Building, Seattle

Exchange Building, Seattle
I'm reading Fall by Neal Stephenson. On page 87 I encounter this:
". . . a great big old [bank] building . . . During the 1930s, this building had probably been considered tall and futuristic. Now it was medium-sized and retro-quaint. . . . It was on a steep downtown slope. On the downhill side you walked into the first floor, but on the uphill side the pedestrian entrance was on the fourth story."
That sounds specific enough that he might be referencing a real building. An inquiry on reddit receives several responses. Downtown Seattle has numerous steep hills, so there are several buildings that might fit the description, but the Exchange Building seems to be the best.

The 2nd Avenue entrance to the Exchange Building - Hunter Kerhart

The entrance and the lobby are period fancy.

Exchange Building Elevator Lobby

Deloitte Digital Creative Studio - Keith Nielsen
Some tenants have gone for more modern decor.

The picture of the building at the top is a Google Maps 3D view. None of the pictures I found gave a good view of the four story difference between the front door and the back, or if they did, they didn't show the whole building. This one is isn't perfect, but it's the best I could come up with.

Something Worthwhile in the Local Newspaper

It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while I find something agreeable.

By Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.
    Portlanders have a rich history of demonstrating peacefully for many different causes. Over the past year, there have been nearly 200 free speech events in the city and the vast majority were peaceful.
    But once again, Portland has made national headlines because otherwise peaceful First Amendment protests on June 29 turned violent.
    Civic discourse should be civil; people should feel free to express their views without fearing injury. Political violence cannot be tolerated. It is unacceptable for individuals and groups to use violence and exploit peaceful protests to promote their ideology. It must stop.
    Political extremists using the First Amendment as a cloak have infiltrated these peaceful protests.
    Following each episode of politically-motivated violence, the police get blamed: for not doing enough; for doing too much; for pandering to the right; or for being agents of the left. Large demonstrations are either under-policed or over-policed depending on your perspective.
    Blaming law enforcement is not the answer.
    We cannot simply decry violence while failing to adequately equip and support law enforcement. Police officers are expected to quickly mobilize and protect thousands of peaceful demonstrators from individual acts of violence. Yet, as I write this, the Portland Police Bureau faces a shortage of 128 officers or more than 10% of its budgeted personnel.
    And to further complicate matters, because of unique liability issues, the city recently lost mutual support commitments from multiple law enforcement agencies in surrounding jurisdictions. Without these mutual support agreements, Portland cannot call in additional officers from other metro law enforcement agencies in a time of need.
This is an untenable position for the Portland Police Bureau and may discourage law-abiding Oregonians from exercising their First Amendment rights for fear the police cannot guarantee their safety.
    Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has raised several proposals that would better equip officers to protect the safety of demonstrators and prevent violence and property damage.
    These commonsense measures include banning masks at demonstrations and filming protests to document criminal acts and aid prosecution. An earlier proposal backed by Mayor Ted Wheeler to divide opposing groups into separate free speech zones was rejected by the city council. The council should re-evaluate their decision and consider Chief Outlaw’s new proposals.
    These are reasonable and proven tactics employed by many other cities to preserve freedom of speech, not hamper it. Civic and community leaders need to recognize that violent interference with peaceful protest activity will not go away without taking real action.
    As a community, we need to call out violent perpetrators on the left and the right and stand up for civility. We are a nation and community made stronger by our many diverse beliefs and our ability to engage in a civil, peaceful manner.
    This begins with reclaiming something these protestors are trying to take from us: a respect for each other’s views and an ability to disagree without resorting to violence.
Step up, Portland. It’s time to reclaim civility, support law enforcement and restore order in the streets of the Rose City.
The only thing I object to is his use of the word 'commonsense'. Sense seems to be in short supply these days, and I certainly wouldn't call it common, but perhaps it's just that the troglodytes are making so much noise that detecting any sense in the general uproar requires super-human fortitude.

P.S. I recently have acquired a new found respect for lawyers. The firm we engaged to do some remodeling sent me a contract to review and sign. It took me a week to gather the gumption to tackle reading it and even then it was horribly painful. It wasn't even very long or very complicated. Short and straight forward, but it was just agony to have to wade through it. Lawyers have to deal with this shit every day. Yes, I know, it's all their own doing, but this is world we live in, and you know that every one of those awkward phrases has been hammered out through some bitterly contested lawsuit and / or criminal trial. Thank god I don't have to deal with this kind of shit very often.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Nordstrom Cafe

Washington Square Mall
We had a late lunch / early dinner at the Nordstrom Cafe at Washington Square Mall yesterday afternoon. There is a row of windows that face out into the mall (above). We've eaten there several times over the last few months and I'm always impressed by this view. It's like the interior of a palace from someone's fantasy, clean, well lit, polished marble floors, well finished storefronts, and no vagrants or bums. I must admit there wasn't anyone dressed like royalty either.

A place like this must cost a pretty penny, but as long as everyone is well behaved it could last forever, or at least until fashion dictates that it's time for a change. It's privately owned, so anyone who misbehaves can be ejected, so you need to have people charged with security on hand. They do a pretty good job, I think I saw one car patrolling the parking lot. Not like the train stations in Paris where they have soldiers with machine guns scattered about.

The food is decent. They have, as you might expect, all kinds of foo-foo (salads and such), but they also have real meat, like beef, though nothing as American as a cheeseburger. The prices are a little warm, about $15 for a sandwich, but that seems to be about the going rate for lunch at any kind of sit-down restaurant these days. The business is streamlined, you order and pay at the entrance, but after that the service is just like a regular restaurant. They bring the food to your table and if you need anything else like drink refills or a take-away box, they handle that as well. Since the server (I was going to say waitress, but I think at least once the role was filled by a guy) doesn't have to deal with taking your order, which can take forever if you have a foodie who wants to discuss every little detail of the meal, I think you might be justified in leaving a smaller than usual tip, say 10% instead of 15.

Stupid Effing Wordpress

Dilbert Biometric Scanner
Sarah A. Hoyt has a fine rant about accursed petty bureaucrats. I tried to leave a comment telling her what I thought, but Wordpress wants a password. My browser remembers the password to every other website I have ever visited, but not Wordpress. Fine, make up a new password. Sorry, you've used that one before. Try a different one, same response. Finally write a sentence full of cursing and it accepts that one. Doesn't matter, because whoever is in charge of remembering passwords will surely forget this one as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

We've Been Played

I am really tired of hearing about the congressional investigations, Robert Mueller, Trump, etc, so I was very pleased to come across this:
Here's how the Russians "influenced" U.S. politics.
They had a couple of teams, one feeding information to the Democrats and one feeding information to the Republicans. Ditto for salting information on social media.
They did not care who won the election. But whatever side won, they then provided data on their activities to the other side. Trump won, the Democrats got the information they needed to start an investigation that lead to the Mueller Report. But if Clinton had won, the Republicans would have gotten a similar data dump that would have led them to investigate the Russian influence that had led to Clinton's victory.
The actual purpose was not to ensure anyone's victory. It was to sow further infighting between the parties, tie up the U.S. government and the President, and limit that President's effectiveness and legitimacy. It's a long con based on their understanding of how we run election campaigns and the desperation of political operatives to gain any advantage. - Borepatch
Totally fits with my conspiracy theory world view.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Incendiary Cossack song - Oh, you oyisya

Зажигательная казачья песня - Ойся, ты ойся

I think this might be the Russian version of Yee Haw! Pretty great in any case.

Water Heater Problems

Talking to people at a neighborhood barbeque a couple of weeks ago and the subject of rent control comes up, not too surprising since some of the folks are landlords of one sort or another. They might own a couple of houses or a duplex or some such. I've known several people who have gotten into this and they all claim it is good way to make money. I never thought it was worth the hassle. Just tending to my own house is a real pain in the tukas.

Right now I am trying to figure out what to do about the my stupid water heater. The water heater that came with house lasted for like 25 years before it sprung a leak and had to be replaced. I did it my self, it's not terribly difficult. Once you drain the water out they are like an empty beer can. There are three pipes (hot water, cold water and the gas line) and the exhaust flue to connect and you are ready to go. Problems started showing up shortly thereafter and intermittently ever since. The old water heater was totally mechanical. The new one has a thin film of electronics applied over the mechanics and this is where the problem arises. Every once in a while, the tiny electronic brain would decide that one of the sensors was not operating properly and it would shut off the gas, the water would go cold and I when I discovered this betrayal I would fly into a rage. Turn the dial on the control box to Off and then wait a few minutes for the thermocouple to cool down and stop producing energetic electrons. When everything has died down, you can relight the pilot and you are back in business. So what's wrong with the sensor? Who knows? The thing will run for another year or so before it flames out again.

If there really was a problem with the sensor, the water heater should not have continued to run after being restarted. I suspect there is some electrical connection, somewhere in this black box, that is weak and whenever the temperature makes a big change, the contraction of the metal bits means it loses contact and the heater loses its mind. But why does it start up again when I relight the pilot? Was my body radiating enough warmth to cause the metal to expand and reconnect? Or was it just my aura having a psychic effect on the electrons in the immediate area?

Now it's developed a new problem: the controller just shuts down, no flashing trouble codes, the status LED just goes black. Restarting it has gotten to be more difficult and has to be done several times a week. I thought about calling Whirlpool, but I've never gotten any satisfaction from them before, and I would liable to start screaming at whatever unfortunate happens to answer the phone, and that's not going to do anyone any good. I could order a new controller and sensors and replace the ones I have, but how do I know these are going to be any better? I think I'm going to go talk to George Morlan, the Water Heater King, see if he has any advice on the subject. He'll probably want to sell me a new water heater. As long as it's not a Whirlpool, I'll probably buy it.

Fancy Houses

8316 SW Mapleridge Dr. Portland, OR 97225
Went looking at houses yesterday. Wife thinks she wants to live closer in to downtown Portland, but we both like our backyard, so she's looking for a place that might have something similar, which constrains our options. We're thinking we want something smaller, but all the places that meet our other criteria are just as big as our McMansion or bigger. All these places are expensive, somewhere north of half a million bucks.

The first place we looked at (above) has a tremendous view. You can see all the way to the beach. Well, you could if the coast range wasn't there. One thing I noticed about these houses is that access is a little difficult. It's not that difficult, it's just difficult compared to where we are now. We live in relatively flat suburban neighborhood. It's a short quarter-mile jaunt to a thoroughfare that will take you to downtown Hillsboro or the freeway. The houses we looked at are in some out-of-the-way locations. The roads that lead to some of them snake around for a ways, which makes going anywhere kind of a pain.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Area 51

United States Government Weapons Test Sites, Nevada.
Area 51 is the orange rectangle. Las Vegas is in the lower right corner.

Map is from OpenStreetMap. Google doesn't show these areas, probably because there aren't any fast food joints nearby.
I was amused to hear that there was a movement afoot to storm Area 51. I doubt whether a dozen people will go to the trouble to actually travel there. I mean it's way out in the middle of fricking nowhere. Meanwhile, the meme makers have been having some fun.


2019 Raikoke volcano - NASA / ISS
There is a string of islands that heads northeast from Japan until it reaches the Kamchatka Penninsula that hangs off the east coast of Russia. Raikoke is one of those islands. Blew up last month and NASA snapped this photo.What I noticed is the cloud of smoke and dust from the eruption has a relatively flat top. Why would that be? Could it be there is a limit to how high a cloud can go, even if it's an explosive cloud? I suppose it could be that smoke particles need a certain density of air to support them, and eventually you get so high and the air gets so thin that it won't support even microscopic smoke particles.

Thinking about microscopic smoke particles reminded me of a weird thing that happened a couple of years ago. Every summer, the forest fires spring up all over the western USA. One summer it had been particularly bad (this year maybe?). The air had been hazy and you could smell the smoke, even though the nearest fire was hundreds of miles away. But then the next day the sky was blue and the smell of smoke was gone, but the sky sure was bright. On normal, sun shiny day, I don't need my sunglasses. It's only when it's overcast that I wear them. But on that day the sky was so bright I needed my sunglasses, even though it was clear and not overcast. The sky seemed to sparkle. It wasn't something you could put your finger on, no bright spots appeared in my vision, but there was definitely something going on. Very weird.

Via Starts with a Bang!