Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Friday, June 28, 2019

Stemme S12 Powered Glider

Stemme S12 Powered Glider
Two seats, side-by-side, with retractable propeller. Its maximum glide ratio is 53:1, which is pretty darn good.

Propeller folded

Rotax 914 F2/S1 Turbocharged Engine

Propeller extended
More glider posts.

Paradise

Bougainville Police Officer Victor Sihung, attached to an Australian Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal team, assists with the removal of World War II mortar rounds in the Torokina district during Operation RENDER SAFE 14. (From an earlier post)
Richard Fernandez writes about the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, and he mentions the Battle of the Coral Sea. In the Wikipedia article, one of the first places mentioned is New Guinea, which reminds me of the photo above. (Checking, I found Victor survived his close encounter with unstable explosives.)

Moving on, Joseph Moore is writing a science fiction story:
I’m attempting to deal with the central problem Star Trek solves by its most egregious handwavium: in a super cool high tech socialist paradise, what do people *do*? Some tiny percent explore strange new worlds, etc., but most, it is implied, become Trobriand Islanders, only with better toys and manners. They have no hope to better themselves or the world in any objective sense, so they raise yams, figuratively, and screw, trade ‘art’ to reinforce social standing and improve self-esteem , and scheme for enhanced social position.
Trobriand Islanders live on the Trobriand Islands (duh) which are down in the South Pacific near New Guinea (!). The introduction to Wikipedia's article on these people has some interesting bits.
The people of the Trobriand Islands are mostly subsistence horticulturalists who live in traditional settlements. The social structure is based on matrilineal clans that control land and resources. People participate in the regional circuit of exchange of shells called kula, sailing to visit trade partners on seagoing canoes. In the late twentieth century, anti-colonial and cultural autonomy movements gained followers from the Trobriand societies. When inter-group warfare was forbidden by colonial rulers, the islanders developed a unique, aggressive form of cricket.
Although an understanding of reproduction and modern medicine is widespread in Trobriand society, their traditional beliefs have been remarkably resilient. For example, the real cause of pregnancy is believed to be a baloma, or ancestral spirit, that enters the body of a woman, and without whose existence a woman could not become pregnant; all babies are made or come into existence (ibubulisi) in Tuma. These tenets form the main stratum of what can be termed popular or universal belief. In the past, many held this traditional belief because the yam, a major food of the island, included chemicals (phytoestrogens and plant sterols) whose effects are contraceptive, so the practical link between sex and pregnancy was not very evident.
Living in a High Tech Socialist Paradise reminds me of:


"Weird" Al Yankovic - Amish Paradise (Official Parody of "Gangsta's Paradise")

I've heard Al's version, but have I ever heard the original?


Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]

Which leads to all kinds of connections:
In case you don't recognize her (I didn't) the blond in Coolio's version is Michelle Pfeiffer. The blond in Al's version is Florence Henderson. Michelle get's mentioned in Uptown Funk. Coolio has been mentioned here before. Coolio got his tune from Stevie Wonder.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Omeletry

Omeletry salad & vegie chili
Iaman pays a visit to The Omeletry in Austin. "Hi, just had lunch at Omeletry. It's moved to a strip center on Airport & i35. Lost a lot of character. My $3.00 vegie chili and dinner salad are now $10.23."

I ate there a few times. It was pretty great, by reputation anyway. I'm not quite so sure what was so great about it except that maybe they were bringing good eatin's to my benighted neighborhood, and I don't mean salad & "vegie chili", what ever that is. I'm talking about omelettes and pancakes. With butter and syrup. Might be why I weigh 250 pounds.

The Great Race

Car #5
A bunch of old car nuts are staging a race this week from Riverside California to Tacoma Washington. They'll be in Vancouver (across the river from Portland) on Friday. Some of the cars are very old, some are a more recent vintage. The cutoff is 1974.

2nd automobile registered in Orange county, 1909
Bottom photo via Posthip Scott.


Flux Bomb

Cutaway view of a flux compression generator.
I'm reading Effendi by Jon Courtnay Grimwood. I started reading it a while back, got about half way through and put it down, but then I picked it up a couple of days ago and I started reading it again. It has some problems, it's a little confusing and some of the technical details are wrong, but overall it's a pretty good story about skulduggery and power politics in the near-future Mideast.

Somewhere in the last half of the book somebody sets off half a dozen E-bombs in the city which destroys all of the electronic devices and basically brings the city to a halt. People (mostly US and Soviet researchers) have been mucking about with these things since the 1950's. I don't know if anyone has ever used one as a weapon, though there was a rumor that a staged demonstration failed to stop a tank, but when the observers tried to leave, none of their cars would start. Of course, an EMP wouldn't stop a diesel powered tank as diesel engines don't rely on computers.

The big problem is we don't know what the range of such a weapon might be. Well, I'm sure somebody knows, but it's probably classified. The range of a magnetic pulse that would be strong enough to damage an electronic device might not be any greater than the size of the physical explosion. Of course, it would depend on the electronic devices. Smart phones, with their nano-scale transistors would likely be very susceptible. Anything inside of a metal box, like automobile controllers, should be immune. Lightning creates an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse), but you don't hear about everyones cell-phone dying every time there's a thunderstorm.

The only time I have seen it used effectively was in Small Soldiers . . .



Monday, June 24, 2019

The Outside by Ada Hoffman

Space Monsters
We have a brilliant, mildly autistic young woman who is in charge of a new power-generating reactor project. We have a state religion whose hierarchy is staffed with cyberneticly enhanced humans known as angels.  We have a galaxy spanning civilization supported by highly advanced technology like faster-than-light-speed spaceships, 'portals' that allow people to teleport instantaneously across vast distances (but only to other already established portals, hence the need for space ships) and ansibles that allow instantaneous communication anywhere within their reach, which might only be hundreds of light years.

The angels provide the advanced technology. Ordinary humans (mortals) can make use of it, but are not allowed to build their own. That would be heresy, and the angels have their own contingent devoted to rooting out and destroying any and all forms of heresy. Humans are not allowed to have 'real' computers. The computer our heroine is using at least partly depends on vacuum tubes. But she carries a pocket calculator with her, so there is some kind of line between what is allowed and what is not. I think the gating factor is that humans are not allowed any computers that would be powerful enough to run an ansible or a portal as those evidently take an enormous amount of processing power.

The classic wheel-shaped space station concept of the 1950s. (NASA)
So our girl has designed this reactor and all the equations check out. The reactor is going to be the power source for a human built space station. The space station is a conventional spinning wheel design. It's a big project with a staff of engineers and scientists, and they have all checked over the design of this new reactor as well. However, this reactor is a new design, possibly even using new principles, and something about it doesn't feel right to our girl. When they power it up, things get interesting.

There is one theory of reality that's been kicking around for a while that says everything is a construct of our minds. Everything in our lives, our world, our reality, is there only because we collectively agree on what we imagine. For instance, back in the stone age, the universe was only a few million miles in diameter. Stars were just dots of light. When people started messing about with telescopes and started measuring things they found they needed a bigger universe to explain what they saw, so they imagined it and the universe reacted by expanding to accommodate their imaginings.

"Digital Rain" from The Matrix - ANIMAL LOGIC/WARNER BROS
We sometimes get distorted views of reality, sometimes it's due to drugs or alcohol, or maybe it's just a dream our subconscious has cooked up, or maybe we're looking in a fun house mirror. But what would you think if something impossible happened when you were wide awake, sober and your vision was working properly? For instance, a rock the size of a house appears in your front yard, or the street starts rippling, or a hole appears in front of you that apparently leads to outer space? You might look for plausible explanations like earthquakes or volcanoes and think that you just missed normal sounds and vibrations that accompany such events. I have no plausible explanation for a hole that leads to outer space, especially if it goes through a bunch of buildings. You will probably write it off as your brain playing tricks on you. But if these things keep happening, you might be a little perturbed. Some people might go crazy. Some people might start to think we are living in The Matrix.

Or maybe the very fabric of reality has somehow collapsed, and The Outside has wandered in.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Mar de Plástico


'Mar de Plástico' nueva serie de Antena 3

Started watching this European murder mystery series last night. It's got all the standard elements (good guys, bad guys, tough girls, lunatics, poor people, rich people) and it promises to be very entertaining. In Spanish, with subtitles, on Netflix.

It is set in southern Spain near Almeria. The place is home to the largest collection of greenhouses in the world.

Spain Greenhouses Can Be Seen From Space!!Area shown is about 25 miles across.
Update September 2019 replace missing preview video. Replace missing video of view from space with Google Maps image.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Outside the Box


Carpentry 'Magic': Draw a Circle... with a SQUARE?!

I'm reading The Outside by Ada Hoffman, a very spacey science fiction novel and it's pretty great. One of the first things that comes up is knowledge versus understanding. Geometry and algebra might be a good example. It is possible to learn the rules for manipulating algebraic equations and by applying these rules you can 'solve' an equation, but just because you solved it does not necessarily mean you understand what the equation means. If you took algebra in school you probably solved a couple zillion equations. I know I did, but it wasn't until I got into geometry that these equations started to make any kind of sense.




Thursday, June 20, 2019

Politics & Power

The Emperor, James Carroll Beckwith (c. 1890)
The first step in political understanding is to see that every society has a ruling class, and that the myth of popular government is an opiate of the masses.  If you need help taking this step, I suggest you consult Main’s Popular Government (1886) or Burnham’s Machiavellians (1943).  - JMSmith
I like what JMSmith writes, I've quoted him a couple of times in this blog (though not all posts tagged with Orthosphere quote JMSmith). This post draws gut level picture of our current power structure, historical power structures and power structures in general. It's good to step back from the day to day bullshit and get a good overview of what's really going on.

To properly represent the struggle for power we need a game that combines chess and Chinese checkers so we can have three opponents instead of just two. But a game like that might never end, and while it might mirror the real world, it wouldn't be much fun.

New words, or new meanings for old words, for me:

  • quondam - adjective, that once was; former.
  • regnant - adjective, reigning; ruling.
  • sacerdotal - adjective, relating to priests or the priesthood; priestly.
  • Brahmans, Kshatriyas, Vaisyas and Sudras - plural nouns, Indian classes and possibly Hindu castes. OK, Brahmans isn't new to me.
  • primate - noun (CHRISTIAN CHURCH), the chief bishop or archbishop of a province.

Holy Houses, Batman!

Artwork from Led Zepplin's Houses of the Holy album
Rumor has it that Facebook has banned, or censored this image. I can't verify this because I don't go on Facebook anymore. I think I made 'friends' with too many people that I knew nothing about and so whenever I went there I found all sorts of stuff, but nothing of any interest. Now to make it at least usable I would have to cull all these unknowns and I am not sure it is worth the effort.

I remember seeing this album back when it was in the stores (about a zillion years ago). I thought it was a little odd, but not very interesting. Little kids are just as likely to be a nuisance as to be enjoyable company. I imagined they were put on this cover to symbolize innocence or something other high-falutin concept.

But Facebook has banned it, so in your face Facebook. Maybe this tempest-in-a-teapot will expand into a real storm that will consume Facebook and possibly the whole Social Justice Warrior crap festival.

I'm Rednecker Than You


HARDY - REDNECKER

Another fine, goofball song.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Songshan Monument

The soldiers of the new Songshan monument are lined up and face the double summit of Songshan Mountain.
There were a couple of big battles over the Huitong Bridge, one early in WW2 when the Japanese were trying to get into China via the Burma Road, and one late in the war, when the Allies were pushing the Japanese back. A monument was erected after the war, but then 20-odd years later it was torn down during the "Cultural Revolution". Recently a new one has been erected.

I'm still trying to sort out exactly what happened and where, but I thought this monument was pretty cool.

An apparent dilemma

If some things trump freedom of religion, then whatever the state wants to suppress will be cast as one of those things.
If nothing trumps freedom of religion, then anything any depraved freak wants to do will be cast as a sacrament of his religion.
So it looks like we get either a depraved freak show, or repressive state-enforced orthodoxy.
But this is America; it turns out we can have both. - Marcel
Stolen entire from Monday Evening

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Aerial Photography

Grumman J2F “Duck" festooned with camera jockeys
This doctored photo was created by Utility Squadron VJ-1 for a Christmas card. Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum has the story.

Fairchild K-17 Camera
The Fairchild K-17 was quite the camera:
"The cameras in Figure 1 are Fairchild K-17s—the most widely used American aerial cameras in the war. These cameras used enormous 9-inch square negatives on a roll of 200 to 300 feet. This film magazine gave 250 to 390 exposures." - Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
Camera-wiki has a short article about it.

Via Knuckle Draggin My Life Away

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Douglas World Cruisers

Daring young men with their flying machine
I'm reading The Flying Tigers by Sam Kleiner and I come across this line:
"Gibbons grew up in Seattle, and he was only thirteen when four Douglas World Cruisers took off from a nearby lake in the successful attempt to circumnavigate the globe by air." [last page of chapter 3].
Douglas World Cruisers? Never heard of them before. Seems the Army was eager to make it big in the flying game so they contracted the Douglas Aircraft Company to build them four airplanes specifically to fly around the world. They made it all the way around, or at least some of them did, though it took them six months.

Seattle II Reproduction Douglas World Cruiser
Now some guys in Seattle are trying to duplicate this adventure with a reproduction Douglas World Cruiser. They were going to try going this year, the 95th anniversary, but they've decided to wait one more year.

Flight Plan of the Douglas World Cruiser
A couple other round-the-world flight have made been mentioned in this blog. Howard Hughes made a round-the-world flight in 1938, there was the flying boat that made the round-the-world flight at the opening of WW2, and then there were the Russians who flew over the North Pole.


Marco Polo Bridge Incident

I picked up a copy of the book The Flying Tigers by Sam Kleiner at Costco yesterday. It is very readable, very smooth (like good whiskey).  It starts with some background on Claire Chennault who eventually becomes the head of The Flying Tigers. We follow him to China where he goes to work for the Chinese Air Force.

Chiang Kai-Shek and his wife Soong Mei-ling
His first job is assessing the current state of that Air Force, which is very bad. He delivers this report to Chiang Kai-shek. Now there's a name I haven't heard in a while. There's a brief overview of the internal politics of China. Chiang's wife, Soong Mei-ling, is force of her own.

Sun Yat-sen
Sun Yat-sen gets mentioned. That's another name I haven't heard in a coon's age.

Anyway, the Japanese have been raising hell in China for years, but now we have the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, and the war begins in earnest.

Original Marco Polo Bridge, built in 1190
 The name "Marco Polo Bridge" derives from its appearance in Marco Polo's book of travels, where he praised it highly. - Wikipedia


Current Marco Polo Bridge, built in 1698
So the current bridge isn't the one that Marco Polo saw, but it's in the same place, and it's the one where the Chinese and Japanese clashed.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Otto Aviation Celera 500L

Otto Aviation Celera 500L
This cool looking airplane has been in development for 10 years and it might be flying soon. For me, the most interesting part is that is powered by a conventional reciprocating engine instead of a turbine. Of course since it's a German engine and it's certified (in Europe), it's probably not going to be much cheaper than a turbine to buy, but fuel consumption should be much lower, as if anyone who will be able to afford this aircraft will care about mileage.

RED A03 V12 Turbo-diesel Engine
Wikipedia has a page about the engine.

Via Flight Aware

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Oil, Sand & Water

Damaged Oil Tanker Andrea Victory in the Gulf of Oman
Someone has attacked four oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman recently. The United States accuses Iran and Iran denies it. The Public's Radio has the story. It seems the Houthis from Yemen claimed the earlier attacks (about a month ago). There is some kind of civil war going on Yemen, which looks like a proxy for war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, and that conflict is kind of a proxy for competition between Russia and the US. So if we (the US) want to accuse anybody, we should be accusing Russia of supporting Iran, but then Russia might turn around and accuse us of supporting Saudi Arabia's attacks on the rebels in Yemen.

I'm surprised to see a ship registered in Norway operating here. I suppose if you are in the oil business you go where the money sends you.

The Good Old Days Part 2

1888 Bertha Benz with two sons on the Patent Motorwagen
I posted a Mercedes Benz ad featuring Bertha a few weeks ago, and now she pops up in an old photograph.

Via Just A Car Guy

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Whiskey

I bought a bottle of bourbon at the shopping mall a couple of months ago. I didn't think too much about the price ($36) when I bought it, but I was exploring not shopping. When I thought about it later, I thought 'that's a heck of a lot of money for a 5th of bourbon'. It was very smooth, though, so maybe it was worth it.
Four Roses Bourbon
Went to the liquor store a couple of weeks ago and picked up a bottle of Four Roses ($25)and a bottle of Jack Daniels ($20). I used to drink Jim Beam because it was cheaper, but it had a bit of a bite to it. When I thought I could afford it (after the kids were all through with school), I decided I could splurge a little and moved up to Jack Daniels. Much smoother. I drank the bottle of Four Roses first and it was very good. And then I turned to the Jack Daniels and it wasn't quite as smooth. It has just a hint of a bite to it. So I'm thinking there is a pretty definite relationship between price and smoothness, or lack of bite if you prefer. So generally, you're going to drink the cheapest whiskey you can tolerate.

But alcohol is a chemical and if you are buying your alcohol from Archer Daniels Midland, I'm thinking it wouldn't have any bite at all. So could it be that distillers who are selling cheap whiskey are making it themselves because it's cheaper than buying it from ADM? Or maybe stills come with performance / quality controls, where you can turn up the speed but you get more fusel oils in your product. which means more bite, or you can turn down the speed and turn up the quality and get smoother whiskey.

It Ain't My Fault


Brothers Osborne - It Ain't My Fault (Official Video)

Fun little song, with a fancy video.

Arizona Olds & News

Lucid Air electric car
Iaman reports:
I'm making motions to move to AZ for a bit to get my biters fixed (teeth) fixed in Mexico,  today I  talked to a guy, Randy,  my age who built a big house in the mountains, got divorced and now has a wing of the house for rent, sound's good.
I've been looking at the news of the area.  Lucid motors is building plants on both sides of the border for production of their 1000hp electric 235mph car,  I'd never heard of such a company or car.
Apparently there is glut of late season grapes pouring over the border,  trying to beat tariffs. Cool spring means rush of Mexican grapes before threatened tariffs. Almost all grapes imported from Mexico passed through Nogales ports last year, data show.
And 100's of  tunnels under the border walls in Nogales.
He might be exaggerating about the number of tunnels under the border. The story just tells us they found 3 tunnels back in January. 3 tunnels a month times 12 months is 36 tunnels. At that rate, three years would put you over a 100, and this has been going for how long? There's probably thousand's of tunnels. I wouldn't be surprised that to hear that whole sections of the town collapsed due to the number of tunnels.

I got nuthin' on grapes. They make wine and raisins out of grapes. I add raisins to my oatmeal, makes it much more palatable.

The Lucid car factory is going to built in Casa Grande, former home of the Penthouse printing press. Also, from way back in the cold war, it was home to the Corona spy satellite calibration program. And just to tie this up, I used to drive a Toyota Corona.

Elon Musk (the Tesla electric car billionaire) was going to build his big battery factory in Casa Grande. He's also got a big tunnel boring machine project going on. Drugs smugglers are digging tunnels under the border. There might be big money in big, car-size tunnels, but smaller tunnels, like tubes big enough to transport a small package of, I dunno, maybe cocaine or heroin, could be a real money maker. Since the drugs the smugglers are smuggling are probably hard drugs, which take up much less space than evil marijuana, I am surprised they haven't started using pneumatic tubes to get their drugs across the border. A ditch witch should be able to send a four inch pipe a couple hundred yards under the border in  matter of hours. Or maybe they are already doing that, but they just dig a man-sized tunnel every so often so the DEA can claim a victory.

Can't say as I am impressed with the Lucid. I am sure it will be very wonderful, but I ain't got that kind of dough. I mean look at the picture at top. Their target demographic is people who have their own jetliners. And even if I did have the money, I am not sure I would want one. Driving is getting to be more of a pain every day. I like my back yard, my computer, and my big screen TV.

Lucid back seat - gratuitous space car porn
(link goes to YouTube video)
Younger son borrowed my car to drive to Bend over the weekend. He didn't leave me stranded, he left me his 30-year-old Ford pickup truck. Good lord, what a beast. Anyway, I take Cornelius Pass Road over the hill on the way to his house in North Portland and they are working on the wires, so there is a 10 minute delay because traffic is down to one lane and we have to take turns. I don't make it through with the first pack, so I have to wait another ten minutes or so. After that it was smooth sailing. On the way back I took I-5 and as soon as I got pn the interstate the traffic got all creepy-crawly. 20 MPH all the way to highway 26. Can't win for losing.

It came to me that while cruising down the highway, where you aren't crowded and traffic is flowing freely, is pleasant, enjoyable, even relaxing, driving in downtown or creeping along in a traffic jam is a whole lot like work, and it isn't enjoyable work either. I think I'm moving to Montana soon.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Quote of the Day

Renshobo on Horseback by Hakuin Ekaku

“What is the sound of one finger clicking?” - BJ Campbell

Link goes to good story about how modern journalism works, or fails to. Previous post of mine on the same subject.

I am beginning to suspect that war is a necessary component of human society. If we don't have one often enough or close enough, we'll manufacture one. If there is nothing to fight about, we'll make up a reason.

Dr. Hunter & Mr. Hyde

28 Leicester Square 19 Charing Cross Road
I'm reading The Knife Man by Wendy Moore, a book about John Hunter, the father of modern surgery. Along about 1783 he had become wealthy enough to acquire a house large enough to house his family, students, laboratory and his ever growing collection of natural curiosities.

To this end he buys two houses that are situated on opposite sides of the block, 28 Leicester Square and 19 Charing Cross Road, their backs face each other. He then has a structure built that bridges the space between the two houses. It looks like it is still there. This is all in London, England.

John Hunter's House
The conjoined house is still there. The 'front' faces Leicester Square and is marked by the orange spot labeled "The Moon Under Water". The back fronts on Charing Cross Road and is marked by the orange spot labeled "Maharaja of India".

Floor Plan for Hunter's House
Some people think this house was the basis for Dr. Jekyll's house in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. There are certainly enough similarities.

The house looks to be about 200 feet from front to back and maybe 50 feet wide, which means each floor would be about 10,000 square feet. Wendy tells us that the house was four stories tall which would give him 40,000 square feet of floor space, not counting the stables in the basement(!). Currently, it appears to be seven stories tall. I suppose in the intervening 200 years the top three stories could have been added.

Word of the Day

Alabama State Capital
Kakistocracy
A kakistocracy is a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was coined as early as the seventeenth century. It also was used by English author Thomas Love Peacock in 1829, but gained significant use in the first decades of the twenty-first century to criticize populist governments emerging in different democracies around the world. - Wikipedia
What a fine word. Not to be confused with kleptocracy, which is a government of thieves who are stealing everything they can get their mitts on.

From a post by Sarah A. Hoyt, who mentions The Gods of the Copybook Headings.

Monday, June 10, 2019

The Return of the Polikarpov Po-2 Biplane

A partisan airplane, the Polikarpov Po-2, during World War II.
(Photo by: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)
During WW2, the Russians, always at the forefront of women's rights (wait, what?), trained up a bunch of women to fly these antiquated biplanes and sent them on bombing missions over Germany.
History.com has the story.

Women pilots of the “Night Witches” receiving orders for an up-coming raid.
(Credit: Sovfoto/UIG via Getty Images)
How effective they were is open to debate, but they did drop several kilotons of bombs on the Germans and they didn't lose too many people, so I guess you could call that a success.

I'm posting this because the Po-2 has appeared here before. That time was during the Korean War.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

Sunday, June 9, 2019

USS Independence & SeaRAM

USS Independence LCS-2
It's Fleet Week at the Portland Rose Festival.

SeaRAM Close In Weapons System
Ross paid a visit to the USS Independence and came away with this photo of the SeaRAM Close-In-Weapons-System. It looks like they took a Phalanx system and replaced the gun with a big box of rockets.


SeaRAM Anti-Ship Missile Defense System
[beware annoying upbeat music]

The SeaRAM is supposed to be able to shoot down incoming anti-ship missiles before they hit the ship, the same thing the Phalanx system was supposed to do. I would think using missiles instead of bullets should give you better range. You might be able to reach out a couple of miles with bullets, but missiles might give you ten times that. You are limited by the number of missiles you have, but the Phalanx has a limited supply of ammunition. It's large, but it's still limited, and it uses it at a prodigious rate.

Pic of the Day

Glacier water vending machine survived the inferno of the Camp Fire.
Picture taken at the remnants of the Paradise Safeway.
How did the vending machine survive the fire? The propane cylinders in the foreground we can assume are either empty, or they have pressure relief valves that allowed the propane to escape. Or it was aliens.

Via Posthip Scott

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Conspiracy Rant of the Day

SpotX satellite messenger
Adaptive Curmugeon tackles privacy head-on, with beaucoup de snark. SpotX is a 2-way satellite messenger (radio, above). SAR is Search & Rescue.

Pic of the Day - Boeing

Boeing Stearman PT-17
The Stearman (Boeing) Model 75 is a biplane formerly used as a military trainer aircraft, of which at least 10,626 were built in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. Stearman Aircraft became a subsidiary of Boeing in 1934. Widely known as the StearmanBoeing Stearman or Kaydet, it served as a primary trainer for the United States Army Air Forces, the United States Navy (as the NS and N2S), and with the Royal Canadian Air Force as the Kaydet throughout World War II. After the conflict was over, thousands of surplus aircraft were sold on the civilian market. In the immediate postwar years they became popular as crop dusters, sports planes, and for aerobatic and wing walking use in air shows. - Wikipedia
The engine is a "Continental R-670-5 7-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 220 hp". Radial engines have an odd number of cylinders, it makes for evenly spaced power strokes. 9 cylinders is most common and is also easier to layout as 360 degrees is evenly divisible by 9. Seven cylinders is not as popular and one reason for that might be that nothing is evenly divisible by 7.

Race To Alaska

Perseverance: Dagger board snapped in half due to the sheer force of Stage 1’s confused and violent seas.
Some sailors with small sailboats are racing up the west coast of Canada. Then ran into some rough seas on the first day out. Scuttlebutt Sailing News has the story, and quite a story it is.

Via Iaman

Veterans and Dangerous Women

Iaman (who spent a couple of years in the Air Force) has a couple of things to say about the Veteran's Administration:
Hi, got an email about MISSION Act and several robocalls inviting me to attend a conference call announcing this improvement to my VA benefits.
The always-delusional Drumpf has taken steps to increase the privatization of the VA health system.  This will cost the 140 million tax payers each about $1,300 a year each.
My experience at the  existing VA has been a  wonderful extravagance,  now it gets better by pumping more-deficit money into these urgent care palaces we see sprouting on the street corners.  I was wondering what they saw that I did not, now I know.
By the way,  the number of vets having actually seen combat, at least as close as a safe FBO, is a hard figure to nail down.  The military doesn't want people to know how fat it is.  Some say 10%, my experience says, for those that actually hear high velocity whizzing by,  is closer to 1%.
A interesting picture of disciplined future combat veterans graduating from West Point, getting a piece of the pie is increasingly equal opportunity. Go Girl!
Black female cadets with the Class of 2019 pose at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y. on May 7, 2019. Hallie H. Pound—U.S. Army/AP
I'm always glad to see women doing more than might be expected of them. I am not sure why this might be, other than it might be that women are generally smarter than men and I am always happier to be talking with someone who has a brain than some dunderhead who doesn't.

Yes, the military might be fat, and they are probably preparing for the wrong war, but they have a big organization and they know how to get things done and one of these days we might need them to do something and then we will be very glad to have them. Right now there might be a lot of button polishing going on, but what else have they got to do? We don't have any real threats. Maybe that's why we are in Afghanistan. By continuing to fight against the Taliban, our guys are getting some combat experience which could prove to be invaluable. Yes, it's a shame that our people are getting killed over there, but that's part of combat, isn't it? These constant low level reminders that war causes death might be enough to keep us from getting involved in a more extensive conflict.


Canonbury Tower

Canonbury Tower
Brian Micklethwait posted a picture of Canonbury Tower and notes that the building dates from the 1500's. It doesn't look that old. It looks like it could have been built anytime in the last century. I mean, did they even have bricks back in the 1500's? Turns out that, yes, they did. Seems bricks have been a standard building material for over 6,000 years. We're talking about fired bricks here, not sun dried mud bricks (adobe) that have been used ever since there have been people.

The other surprising thing is how much detail Google Maps can show. The above image is a screen shot of a 3-D view. Follow the link to Google Maps, press the control key, and click & drag any point on the screen with your mouse, and the whole image comes alive in three dimensions. I am astounded at how they are able to capture the three dimensional shape of the building, especially since (I surmise) that they are doing it all from satellite images and not from architects plans.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wages

Busy Commercial Kitchen
For a long time I was super annoyed at the fancy buildings fast-food franchises erected to house their businesses. I thought it was an extravagant waste of money: if they didn't spend so much money on the building, they could afford to pay their employees a decent wage. Eventually I did some rough calculations and realized the cost of the fancy building was a small fraction of their monthly expenses. Wages are the big factor. Walk into a McDonald's most any time and you are liable to see a dozen people working. Figuring
  • $10 an hour
  • times 10 people
  • times 16 hours a day
  • times 30 days a month
  • comes to $48,000 a month for wages
Rent / lease / mortgage on a prime location might be as much as half of that. Figure another $25,000 for food and supplies and you are looking at $100,000 a month. That's a heck of a lot of hamburgers.

Opinions differ on minimum wage laws. If our economy was booming, and booming so much that there was a shortage of workers, we wouldn't need such laws. But American industry has become so productive that we don't need very many workers to to keep us supplied with all we need. So we need minimum wage laws to keep people from getting trapped in working poverty. But that also means we have more people unemployed, which is another problem.

What we need is more people willing to step up and start a business. Not everyone has what it takes to start a business, and that might be what the problem is. Starting a business requires an idea, which isn't too hard to come by, but it also takes drive, commitment and a thick enough skin to deal with all the petty bullshit you are going to run into. So the next time you are offended by an obnoxious bull headed person charging through the public plaza, remember, that is exactly the kind of person we need because they are the ones who get things going. (You might ask why they can't be nice about it, but that might just be the straw that breaks that camel's back. Step back, give them some room. You don't want to get any on you.)

P.S. $15 is the hourly rate showing up on help wanted signs around here.

Refugee Camps for the Homeless?

Refugee Camp in Myanmar - APP
One problem in big cities in the USA is the large number of homeless people. Many of the proposed solutions to this problem suffer from their own problem, to wit,they presume is that all a homeless person needs a chance, a leg up, a helping hand, and they could get back on straight and narrow and become contributing members of society. I bought into that idea for a long time. Now I realize that while there may be some people like that, they are a distinct minority. There are a fair number of people whose mental problems make them incapable of holding down a job. But the biggest problem might be those people who are not interested in working and are perfectly happy eking out an existence on the fringes of society.

I'm thinking what we need is a campground for the homeless. I suspect the only reason the homeless congregate in downtown areas is because that's where the soup kitchens are. If we could find an area outside of town that would make a suitable campground and persuade one of these soup kitchens to set up shop there, we might find that the homeless would migrate there of their own accord. Basically we would be setting up a refugee camp for our own citizens who can't, or won't, hack it in our dog-eat-dog capitalist society.

Sorting out who would pay for it and who would govern it would give all concerned plenty to argue about in the coming months (years), but it would alleviate the immediate problem for all concerned. I can't imagine camping on city sidewalks or on the shoulder of Interstate freeways is something people aspire to. Okay, there's one in every crowd, but aside from the occasional nut-case, I think everyone would prefer camping where you aren't getting told to 'move on' by the police, or worrying about whether a stray motor vehicle is going to flatten you.

P.S. About the picture. I looked for a picture of a nice small refugee camp, one you would be happy to send your lay-about friends to, but all I found were pictures of ginormous tent cities. They seem to be becoming permanent fixtures in many parts of the world. Maybe it's time we got on board the express train to purgatory.