Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Monday, April 30, 2012

WWII Allied Fighter Aircraft - The Far Side of the World

This video comes to us courtesy of Roger Dodger Aviation. It can give you a pretty good idea of the complexity of these machines. Fighter aircraft in the Pacific theater were a little different than the ones used in Europe, mostly because they belonged to the Navy, and the Navy was going to do things their way, which meant using radial engines, instead of the V style engines used in Europe. The Corsair was a standout. It was about the same size as the Army's fighters, but it was considerably heavier (4.5 tons as opposed to 3 tons). It also had a more powerful engine: 2,000 horsepower compared to 1,500.

The Corsair so impressed Young Park that he built not one, but two models of it (in 1/16th scale). This page has the full story and a bunch of pictures. I think this picture is especially good.

Via Scott, the Post-Hip guy.

The Blues Elements

The word of the day at Scott's Post-Hip is "Joliotium", which sounds like it ought to be a name of an element, but I've never heard of it before. Naturally we start speculating on the origin of the name and the only thing we can think of is Joliet Jake, and if an element has been named for him, can Elwoodium be far behind?

Turns out the name Joliotium comes from Frédéric Joliot-Curie, who was an assistant to Marie Curie and married her daughter, Irene. He and Irene won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1935 for their work in trying to figure out the structure of an atom. Joliot also won the Stalin Peace Prize. The Stalin Peace Prize? Isn't that like an oxymoron?

But the name Joliotium didn't get picked as the name of element 105. Seems to have been a bit of an issue. The Russians wanted to name element 105 for a Danish physicist, while the Americans wanted to name it for a German chemist. Neither of those guys got picked either. Element 105 was eventually dubbed Dubnium (what? They named it namium? You know, like "I dub thee Sir Dub") after the town of Dubna, Russia, (about 50 miles North of Moscow) where the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research  is located.

The picture is supposedly of Seaborgium, which was discovered around the same time. I don't know how you could tell, I think it's just an artist's concept anyway. It certainly doesn't have enough balls to represent all the hadrons in a nucleus of Dubnium, and if those are supposed to be atoms, well, they are all different sizes, which does not make sense. Could be actual macroscopic balls of the material, but I don't think they ever made enough that you could make a picture of it.

While I was looking for a picture for this post I came across an interactive chart of the electron structure of atoms. It's kind of cool. I also found a page of mysterious French charts about a bunch of the heaviest atoms. They don't mean anything to me, but if you need to baffle someone with bullshit, they might come in handy.

WWII Allied Fighter Aircraft

The P-40 Warhawk that was found in Egypt last month got me to wondering about WWII fighter aircraft in general. The P-40 Warhawk was supplanted by the P-51 Mustang, likewise the Hurricane was supplanted by the Spitfire, so I put together a little spreadsheet comparing the specifications of these four aircraft. I just used the specs I found in Wikipedia. They were all similar size and style: single seat, low wing monoplanes with big V-12, liquid cooled engines. They were about 30 feet long, had a wingspan of about 40 feet, and weighed about 3 tons. We built about 15,000 copies of each one, and each aircraft cost about a million dollars (in today's money).

The big difference between the older and newer aircraft was the addition of a supercharger. The supercharger gave the newer planes more power and more altitude. You have to take the performance specifications with a grain of salt. On one other page I looked at about the Hurricane, the performance specifications were all different. The Mustang versus Spitfire performance specs are especially suspect as the Mustang apparently weighed considerably more than the Spitfire, had approximately the same amount of power, yet according to the specs, the Mustang performed as well or better than the Spitfire.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Quote of the Day

Just read a story about the rise of the Nour Islamic Party in Egypt by Wendell Steavenson in The New Yorker. The link just goes to an abstract, you have to be a subscriber to read the whole thing, though I don't how long that will last. Maybe it will become available for free in a week, when next week's issue comes out, or maybe this is some new policy. I dunno. At first I thought Wendell, the author, was a man. I used to know a man in Ohio by that name, but evidently this Wendell is a woman. It figures. Of course a liberal rag like The New Yorker would want a woman's point of view on Islam. Anyway, it's a pretty good story about what's going on in Egyptian politics these days. Some people in Egypt are trying to implement a democracy, and some people are trying to implement Islam's Sharia Law, and that's a bit of a problem. Wendell explains:

Keyboard Skin

K bought a Spanish language keyboard "skin" for a Sony laptop. It lies right on top of the keyboard. No fuss, no muss, and does not seem to interfere with the operation of the keys.

It came packed in a box:

You could have fit a pack of pachyderms in there.

Bumper Sticker of the Day

Wait a minute, who's ripped on acid? Your friends? Or the bulldozers?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

WWII Will Never Die

Shades of TinTin!

This WWII vintage fighter was discovered in Egypt last month. It's been sitting there for nigh on 70 years. It's a P-40 Kittyhawk. Pictures and story here. More pictures here. From Scott.

The Wire

A long time ago I read a Science Fiction story that started with the hero sitting cross legged on the floor of his apartment with a wire plugged into the top of his head. There was some form of electricity in this wire and however it was connected to him it was keeping him entertained, or hypnotized, or maybe stoned. He had been a secret agent or an assassin, but now he was idle, maybe between missions or possibly retired. There was not much going on in the outside world that interested him, so he spent his time plugged into the wire. He may even have been addicted to it. Things were calm, peaceful even, and then a couple of dumb clucks materialize in the entry-way, Star Trek transporter like. He quickly becomes alert and kills them both, as they were obviously assassins sent to kill him. I mean, who else would materialize in his entry like that? Especially since in this universe you couldn't beam someone to a remote location unless you had a a transmitter AND a receiver, and since to his knowledge, there was no receiver installed in his entry-way, someone must have done it surreptitiously so these two alien hoodlums would have access to his apartment. That's how the story started. I vaguely remember that our hero went on to have a whole boatload of adventures in the rest of the book, but this beginning is the only part that I remember clearly.

I have spent the week at Optimize Me! with a bunch of wires plugged into my head, so to speak, getting my brain "optimized". Hopefully it is going to alleviate my chronic insomnia. The wires connect electrodes placed on your scalp to a computer which takes the signals (brain waves) it gets from the electrodes and turns them into sound that are played back through ear buds. The sound I hear is like random musical notes: high, low, medium, long, short, all together, spaced out. Does not seem to be any pattern. They run for 15 minutes, and then the technician comes and rearranges the electrodes on my scalp, and we start another session. The notes for the first session sounded like a string bass, except some of them were too high pitched and some were too low, but they had that tone. Each 15 minute sessions sounds different. All the notes in each sessions are similar, but still random. Another session sounded like a xylophone, another sounded like music being played backwards. Some were melodious.

I was expecting to hear continuous tones, maybe going up and down in pitch and volume, but that's not what happened.

It makes me very tired. Monday was understandable as I had to get up a oh dark thirty to ferry Kathryn to the airport. But last night I slept well and I still drowsed through most of today's sessions. Sessions run from 11AM to 1PM and then again from 3PM to 5PM.

It could be that the musical notes are really random, and the computer and the electrodes are just a smokescreen, but they go to a lot of trouble to make it convincing, so maybe it's for real. It might be that it is just a form of enforced meditation. In any case, something is going on, as it is extremely wearing.

We shall see how I turn out.

Family Matters

My kids have returned to the three corners of North America (West of the Rockies, East of the Rockies, and South of the Border). Uncle Lee in Pennsylvania is getting ready to check out. His daughter is caring for him. My cousin Linda in Boston got hit by a car on New Years Eve. She was seriously injured and nobody said boo. I just found out. She is recovering. It's been four months (!). She expects to go back to work in another month or two. A niece and a cousin have been having a good time in Europe. My other niece is learning to walk. My cousin's kids are running wild. One just got a nose job down in Texas.

Asteroid Mining for Real?

I think the narrator might be the same guy who did the honey badger video. There was another video on WIMP.COM, but it was full of corporate drones droning corporate glop. It was pretty disgusting. On the other hand, I am glad to see people trying to do this. They don't mention Rhenium. I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

ZeFrank Hits the Big Time!

Well, sort of. One of his videos made it to WIMP.COM. Because this was like a blast from the past, I pulled up his web site and found this:

I thought I made a post or two about him a while back, but I can't find them now. He's great.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Post-Hip Obscurity

From Scott.

Letter to Umpqua Dairy


I stopped by Hank's Thriftway in Hillsboro, Oregon this evening and picked up a half gallon of Umpqua ice cream. I intended to get chocolate, but when I got home I discovered that I had mistakenly picked up a carton of Rocky Road. My wife claims she hate's Rocky Road. No big loss, more for me.

 The real reason I am writing is because there has been no Umpqua Lite Chocolate ice cream in the store for years. There are 47 other flavors, from maple-peppermint-blackberry swirl to fuzzy-peaches-and-raspberry delight, none of which interest me. Chocolate is only flavor I really want. Occasionally I will pick up carton of vanilla, and once in a blue moon I will pick up some strawberry. This is not a religious issue. I don't mind if you make and sell other flavors. I have even tried some of them, but they don't really do anything for me. Chocolate is what I want, and you have failed to keep me supplied.


Charles Pergiel
Silicon Forest

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Gloom of Night

Read Gloom of Night, a story about the Post Office in an old copy of Time magazine today. Seems the Post Office has been losing money, badly and for a long time. They want to close a bunch of Post Offices, but that won't really help. What would help would be laying off 100,000 postmen and cutting services.

Or they could charge more for junk mail. Mail volume is declining. It peaked in 2006 with 213 billion pieces. It's dropped since then. Email might have something to do with that. But junk mail continues to be a mainstay of advertising. From my experience, I would say it's 90% of the mail. But say it's only 100 billion pieces a year, which is a little more than half. If they raised the rates on it by 10 cents a piece, that 10 billion dollar deficit would disappear. Of course, the mass mailers will howl about how we are destroying America. It might put a crimp in the amount of junk mail that gets sent out, which wouldn't bother me in the least. I am pretty sure junk mailers get a discount. I think they should be paying a premium.

Reliable, economical mail service seems to be something that only exists in the first world: the US, Western Europe, old members of the British Empire (I wonder how the mail is in India?). Daring daughter reports that South of the Border, from El Paso to the tip of South America, mail is iffy at best. If you want to send a package to anyplace with iffy mail service, a commercial outfit like FedEx, UPS or DHL is your best bet, but it's expensive. Sending a letter that way to Buenos Aires will cost you $40.

Sweet Brown - Ain't Nobody Got Time for That (Autotune Remix)

Seems like everybody and their dog is making fun of, or making disparaging remarks about this woman, but come on guys, she deserves her 15 minutes of fame at least as much as 99% of the fools on TV. Besides, I really like the tune. Besides two, could you sing even a few words if some TV guy shoved a camera in your face? I think she done real good. From California Bob.

Update April 29, 2014. Original video (YouTube ID GAe9Sd4M9JI) has vanished. I think this one is the same, though the bass beat sounds a little strong.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Battleground America

Just read a story about guns in The New Yorker: Battleground America by . As you might expect it was pretty slanted towards gun control. No mention of the Nazis disarming the populace before they started rounding up the Jews, no mention of the illicit drug trade and the violence it engenders, no mention of the countless times a gun has been used to prevent a crime, or defend against an attack. Lots of tear-jerking stories about young people shot down in schools. There were some informative bits about the history of the NRA and gun laws. There were also a couple of good statements on the last page. First this:
Gun-control advocates say the answer to gun violence is fewer guns. Gun-rights advocates say that the answer is more guns: things would have gone better, they suggest, if the faculty at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Chardon High School had been armed. That is the logic of the concealed-carry movement; that is how armed citizens have come to be patrolling the streets. That is not how civilians live. When carrying a concealed weapon for self-defense is understood not as a failure of civil society, to be mourned, but as an act of citizenship, to be vaunted, there is little civilian life left.
And then this, which I think hits at the crux of the matter:
I asked him how he would answer critics who charge that no single organization has done more to weaken Americans’ faith in government, or in one another, than the N.R.A.
“We live in a society now that’s Balkanized,” Keene (David Keene, the N.R.A.’s new president) said. “But that has nothing to do with guns.”
Update: My first impression of this story was that it wasn't too bad. Yes, it has a definite pro-gun control slant to it, but it gave some context for this slant, and the two sections I quoted above, on balance, made the whole thing worthwhile.

But then I got to thinking about the question in the second quote:

I asked him how he would answer critics who charge that no single organization has done more to weaken Americans’ faith in government, or in one another, than the N.R.A.
When I first read it, I just read right over it, it does not really contain anything of substance. But then I got to thinking about what it said, and I thought WTF? Who are these so called critics? It seems to be a common journalistic trick anytime they want to stir up trouble, they quote some unnamed critics making outlandish charges. As for the substance of the charge, the N.R.A. had nothing to do with it. The news media reporting on all the stupid and/or corrupt behavior of our government did a fine job of weakening my faith in our government and the American people. We didn't need any help from the N.R.A.

Issues involving guns are not going to be solved anytime soon. I stand with the NRA: the government should have no say about firearms.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Quote of the Day

Stephen Donaldson in Forbidden Knowledge, page 83 in my paperback copy.

Just a Wonderful Day

Two of my kids came home for the weekend. We celebrated by going out this morning and single-handedly attempted to rescue our country from the current recession. First stop was the Apple store where we picked up dutiful daughter's laptop which she had dropped off for repair a couple of days ago. They replaced the main logic board, no charge. I was impressed. This thing is like four years old. It cost like it was made of gold. Still, it was nice that there was no charge for the repair.

Glass Slipper Shoe Display - Taken with a cell phone & mailed
Next stop was The Glass Slipper (music starts playing automatically) where daring daughter needed a pair of shoes for Salsa dancing. Seems she wore out one pair of shoes, so she used her boots, which she has also worn out, plus she was having to dance on her toes. The new shoes have heels, so they will alleviate one problem at least. She had her eye on a pair by Capezio that cost $70, but we could not find them, so we had to settle for a pair made by Supadance that cost like they were made by Apple. We will see how long they last. If they last till her next trip home I will be very surprised.

John had taken the train from Eugene, so now we swung by Union Station to pick him up, and then headed over to the Bread & Ink Cafe on East Hawthorne. It's funny how a town can be chock full of restaurants, but when you are hungry, or in a hurry, you can't find anything. We saw a dozen interesting places on the way to Union Station, but on the way back we saw nothing but low-life dives. So we went back to where we had been several years ago, and they were still there and still in business. Being as it was Saturday and the sun was shining the crowds were out, so we had to wait a bit for a table. Our waitress had some fabulous ink and eyebrows. I would have asked for a picture and embarrassed my family, but the battery had died in my camera on the way into town when I saw a Vespa with a yellow and black jaggy paint job. The food was good, the service was excellent, and the conversation was scintillating. OK, maybe I exaggerate, but we had a good time. And we lucked into a free parking space half a block away.

Our next stop was Powell's City of Books, just because you can't go to Portland without stopping at Powell's. Now I paid for my previous good luck with parking. The area around Powell's is just a madhouse anytime you are there. I saw a parking lot with lots of space right on the corner and I used "it's a family outing" as an excuse to not look any further and just park. Cost me $7, and they don't take American Express.
Here I thought I was being clever by arranging the books so the titles would be right way up for this picture, but I missed one. Bad blogger.
We spent an hour in Powell's and picked up pile of books. Kathryn picked up some Spanish language children's books for the daughter of a friend. John picked up some fiction and some non-fiction, just because he has developed a hunger for knowledge. I got some Science Fiction, because I really like it, and Scott at Post-Hip doesn't carry any, his one serious failing.

We saw several other sights that would have merited a picture, like the string quartet playing on a corner on MLK boulevard, the dinosaur car over by Hawthorne, and the juggler outside of Powell's. But as my daughter says, it was just an oridinary day in Portland.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Joke of the Day

I couldn't help myself. From cousin Kathy on Facebook.

The name's Gunn, Peter Gunn

Gunn is the name of the movie made in 1967. Peter Gunn the name of the TV series that ran from 1958 to 1961. Same actor, Craig Stevens, played Peter in both. Both were the creation of Blake Edwards, who wrote, directed and/or produced a whole boatload of movies. Laura Devon co-starred as Peter's jazz singing girlfriend. She starred with her real-life husband in the play Toys In The Attic (shades of Aerosmith!), written by Lillian Hellman, "which evolved from a plot suggested by her lover Dashiel Hammett", who wrote The Maltese Falcon. Close knit little community, eh?

The movie is a fine murder mystery with a tough guy PI, a bevy of beauties, your usual assortment of mob guys, and a brand new T-bird. The credits at the beginning of the movie were all in French, which was kind of weird, because there was nothing French about the rest of it, other than the general film noir kind of atmosphere.

At the end of the movie there's a party being held to benefit Mother's bar, which got blown up in the course of the movie, and I snapped this pic.

Quote of the Day

From The River of Doubt by Candice Millard, page 17.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Song of the Day

Some troglodyte dared to imply that Jennifer was a liberal, which raised her song-writing hackles:
I am the very model of a far-left ideology
with multitudes of flaws in my political psychology
I hate the war on terror and I quote its sins historical
From Abu Ghraib to TSA, in order categorical
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters scientifical,
I understand Chas. Darwin and I think he's quite terrifical
On constitutional damage I'm seething with a lot o'news,
With many gloomy facts about our government's constant abuse.
Just in case you don't snap to the tune, here's an example of the original, with lyrics.

Not all versions are the same, some seem to have additional bits of nonsense stuffed into them.


They (them again!) are putting in some kind of pipeline alongside the Sunset Highway, and this crawler based dump truck has been sitting at the site for a while. I went by the other day and noticed that the whole body, cab and dump bed were pivoted sideways on top of the base. They must use the same kind of turntable base as is used for a crane. I had no idea it could do that. So when I saw it today I thought I would take a picture of this weirdness. Unfortunately, it had been swung back to straight. Managed to snap this picture out the side window of my truck as I drove by at 60 MPH. A real fluke that I caught it.

Here's another picture I found that shows its' pivot ability.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Elliot's Been Busy

From his Silicon Mirror and Kaleidoscope page.

Quote of the Day

"I'm undoubtedly a liberal, which means that I'm in almost total agreement with the Eisenhower-era Republican party platform." - Rachel Maddow quoted in Wikipedia.
I was looking at The Maddow Blog yesterday and I noticed an ad for a book. Didn't know who Rachel was, didn't know what the book was about, but there was an excerpt available, so I read it. Boy oh boy, I knew we were shoveling money into the furnace, but I didn't realize just how fast we were doing it. Criminently, and all in the name of "National Security". What a crock.

Rossi vs. Lorenzo: Incredible Final Lap

Catalunya 2009 Motogp from Tim Fowden. Found on WIMP.COM

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Motorcycle of the Day

As I was driving around today I got to thinking that I might like to get a motorcycle to go exploring in the woods. We have a lot of woods in Oregon. So I'm thinking a dirt bike, nothing too big, but it would need to have a enough oomph to haul my fat self up the side of a hill. 350cc wouldn't be too big, and shoot, 500cc would give me a little extra grunt, should I need it. And really, it should be street legal, because sometimes you need to ride on the road. So these are just idle thoughts in my mind. My next stop is Costco, and while I am on the way out I see this:

I am not sure how big it is, engine wise, but it seems to be just what I was dreaming about. Oh wait, they want $6,000 for it. Ouch.

Quote of the Day

"Chess, Ms. Spiegel said, recognizes many kinds of intelligence. Some top academic students excel, while others never take to it, she said. And some chess geniuses might have little interest in learning the map of Europe. She said the school viewed chess not as a competitive pressure-cooker but as a way to learn how one’s mind works."
ANNE BARNARD and DYLAN LOEB McCLAIN quoting Elizabeth Spiegel in The New York Times

Via The Maddow Blog

Update June 2021 removed formatting.

Shuttle Fly-Bye

Space shuttle Discovery, carried atop a 747, as it flies near the U.S. Capitol today. The scaffold those guys are standing on is on top of the capital dome. From NASA: "Discovery, the first orbiter retired from NASA’s shuttle fleet, completed 39 missions, spent 365 days in space, orbited the Earth 5,830 times, and traveled 148,221,675 miles." 148 million miles, that would get you to the sun and half way back, or maybe even Mars.

Via Dustbury and The Maddow Blog.

Google is Glorious

Windows is wonderful, Linux is lovely, and now Google is glorious. Imported an Excel spreadsheet into Google Docs. I wanted to sort this spreadsheet according to the numbers in one particular column. Google sorted the sheet, but it did it alphabetically rather than numerically, i.e. all the numbers that started with 1, like 1, 10, 100, 1000, came first, and then all the numbers that started with 2, and so on. Not what I wanted. Fine.

Clear the formatting (using the Clear Formatting command under the Edit menu). Try again. No help. Muck around with this that and the other and get nowhere. Finally post a question on the help forum. Shortly I got an answer back: the problem is Google thinks the column contains text. Never mind that it actually contains numbers. Google is convinced it contains text and nothing is going to change it's little mind.

The solution is to add a column and then multiply the values in first column by one and store them in the second column. Shazam! It works! What a crock. If you want to multiply, it will treat the value like a number, but if you want to sort, Google will insist it is text, even if you tell it is not?!? Stupid Google. Oh, wait. I forgot, Google is glorious.

Inconvenient and Annoying

The basic information in this video is pretty good. The conclusions, well, you should form your own. As for the destruction of the Aral Sea and the Colorado River, I blame the arms race. Both bodies of water were sacrificed to grow cotton which the governments used to make gun powder (nitrocellulose).

I am not sure that growing more food is the answer. I tend to believe Malthus. Growing more food will just encourage us to grow more people. The only way to stop the population explosion is to stop growing more food. Actually, I'm not even sure that would work. Might just lead to more wars, which would mean killing more people, which means we would have to grow more people to replace the ones who had been killed.

Monday, April 16, 2012


So there's a new campaign in the press to stampede the public into doing something about the evil menace of pain killers (OxyContin, et al.). Last year it was the horror of meth, or maybe that was five years ago. Anyway, they (the ever ubiquitous "they") got cold remedies locked up, but that is old hat, so now "they" need a new campaign. Who the fuck are these people anyway? Somebody ought to lock them up.

Drug addiction is not a good thing. No right thinking person would voluntarily sign up to be a drug addict. But not everyone can think rightly all the time. Pain, be it physical or mental, can skew your thinking. If you think mental pain is not real, please explain the vast the quantity of alcohol consumed in this country and the large number of suicides. If you can stand a bit of anti-Muslim humor, you might consider that most suicide bombers come from countries where alcohol is prohibited. Coincidence? I think not. Too much pain and no alcohol to alleviate it drives them insane.

Most of the horror stories attributed to drug addicted people are due to the high cost of the drugs. The cost is high because they are restricted. If the drugs were not restricted, they would be cheap, and most of these horror stories would go away.

There is another side to this story. Drugs can be insidious, and some people are more susceptible to their effects than others. Someone who is taking pain killers on an ongoing basis simply to cope with chronic pain could become addicted without even being aware of it, at least not until they run short of pills.

Yes, I know suffering is noble. Go ahead and suffer all you want. I want my codeine, and I'll shoot anybody who gets in my way.

Where the hell is the ACLU?

Salon, April 9 2012
Salon, April 11, 2012
The Oregonian, April 14, 2012
The New York Times, April 8, 2012
WALB, April 4, 2012
ABC News, April 5, 2012

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird

Just over at Bobbi's, which leads me to an SR-71 video that is talking about something that happened in 1964. 1964! That was the year after Kennedy was shot! I was still a little kid! The Gary Powers U2 incident was still fresh. The SR-71 was still secret, well for a couple of months anyway.

This video gives a pretty good overview of the SR-71. It talks about buying titanium from the Russians, the pervasive problem of temperature, choreography, fuel, power, speed and altitude.

The SR-71 doesn't look that impressive today, after all, it's old hat. But it was built in 1964, out of titanium. Now that I know more about what's involved, it's very impressive.

Update: A one hundred mile turn radius sounded a bit excessive, even if you are traveling faster than a speeding bullet, so I did some calculations. The resulting force on the plane and pilot would be 1.64 G's, meaning if you weighed 180 pounds on the ground, going through a corner you would feel like you weighed 300 pounds. And if you had to pull a U-turn, you would feel like that for almost six minutes!

You know, the Blackbird could be mistaken for Superman: faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.

Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale

Best movie of the year! Or maybe just the wackiest. Eight year old boy Pietari lives with his father in the boonies of Northern Finland where snowmobiles are standard transportation and everyone carries a rifle everywhere they go. Even Pietari, who carries drags his Teddy Bear around with him carries a double barrel shotgun slung across his back. Mom is gone, no explanation give. There are no women in the movie at all.

All those tales about Santa Claus you heard when you were growning up? They're all lies! The real Santa was more concerned with bad little boys and girls, for they became his Christmas dinner. Fortunately for us, the Laplanders trapped him in a block of ice where he has been frozen for a thousand years. But now some wise-ass Americans are determined to dig him up. It's just the best.

IMDB page
Movie page 1
Movie page 2
In Finish with subtitles.

Bonus: Cool movie company logo.

Quote of the Day

Bad India! No cookie for you!! - The Unwanted Blog
Via The Adventures of Roberta X

Old World Craftsmen

Ever wonder how they make files? This is how one company in France does it, and I imagine it's the same way they've been doing it for a couple of hundred years. From a modern manufacturing standpoint, it's insane: all that hand labor. You can bet Nicolson doesn't do it this way. Of course, the prices reflect the amount of labor. Auriou files go for a hundred bucks. A Nicholson file will set you back 3, maybe 4 dollars.

Glenn sent me the link. He's got the furnace, now he needs a trip hammer, which is what you see in the first half of the video.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Sound of Silence

I found this video on WIMP.COM. I figured out pretty quickly that the loudspeaker must be vibrating in sync with the camera. Digital camera's are much faster than film cameras, which is why you can see the individual drops of water, rather than just a blur (same reason that in digital pictures of prop driven aircraft 
the propellers appear to be stopped, whereas in pictures taken with film cameras, the propellers appear as a blur).

But if the speaker is vibrating (it must be, he even turns up the volume!) why can't we see that, and more importantly, why can't we hear it? We can hear the water running, why can't we hear the loudspeaker? So I poked around a bit until I found this explanation:
. . . the camera is shooting at 25 frames per second, which is exactly the same rate that the tube carrying the water is being vibrated by the speaker. 
25 cycles per second is the rate for the camera AND the loudspeaker. 20 cycles per second is the lower limit of hearing for most people. I'm not sure YouTube will even transmit a frequency that low, and even if it did, I am not sure my speakers could produce it. If it was turned down low, you might not even notice it if you were in the same room.

We can't see the speaker vibrating for the same reason that the water droplets appear to be standing still: the camera is shooting frames at the same rate as the speaker is vibrating, so each time the camera takes a pic, the speaker is in exactly the same position as it was the last time.

If you changed the frequency of the sound (or the camera) just slightly, the speaker would appear to move slowly in and out, and the water droplets would appear to be falling, or even rising back up.

Electronic Gizmos in Cars

I saw a picture of this car, an Audi A6, in the paper this morning, and I thought "that's a pretty good looking car". Silly boy. Well, yes, sometimes I am. The blurb accompanying the photo is babbling about all the electronical gimcracks that this thing has, and I'm thinking that's exactly what I would NOT want in a nice car. I like big, I like powerful, I like cushy, but I don't like an endless array of chickenshit gee-gaws that would require spending time to figure out how to use, and then, about the time I've mastered them, they will start falling apart and falling off and generally failing to operate as promised. Or is this just a case of sour grapes? I don't have the money to spend on such things, so I find reasons to denigrate them.

A friend of mine has a car that came with a CD player that eventually failed. Replacing it cost $1000. This is when CD drives can be had from Newegg for, what, $20? Electronic entertainment devices in cars seem to come from a different department than the outfit that builds engine and transmission controllers, and that department is more concerned with flash and marketing than reliability. Or maybe a CD player is just the wrong kind of device to install in a car.

I really like my truck because it does NOT have a brake pedal-transmission selector interlock,  and it does NOT turn on the headlights automatically. It did come with power windows and power locks and a remote entry key-fob. OK, so I'm a hypocrite. The electronical devices on my car are good, but the ones in your fancy-schmantzy luxo-mobile are bad. In any case. I didn't use the key-fob because, well, I didn't need it, and because it took up valuable space in my pocket. It was just another lump to be carried around. That was up until a couple of weeks ago, when the mechanical key lock in the drivers door started acting up: sometimes the key would turn, sometimes it wouldn't. Does the remote entry work? It does! Well, glory and be loved! Guess I can avoid having to get the lock fixed. Amazing thing is that this truck is 13 years old, and the key fob, which has been sitting on the shelf all this time, still has the original battery.

Update July 2015. Corrected typo.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I'm looking through the paper while I eat dinner this evening and I notice this full page, full color ad by Bonhams, a London auction house. They sold this Chinese vase last November for $14 million (£9 million). While I am looking for this picture I found that another Chinese vase had been sold a year earlier by Bainbridges, another London auction house, for $68 million (£43 million). That one set a world record.

The prices are extraordinary, but they don't bother me. If rich people want to spend their money that way, well, that's what rich people are for. Personally I wouldn't want to be in the same building as this thing. I would be afraid that something bad might happen, like it might spontaneously explode when it contacts my aura, and I would get blamed for it. No thank you. I'll be safe at home in my cave.

It does make a pretty picture though, doesn't it? We already have three sets of China that we don't use and a display case full of pretty objects that I never look at. As long as we have electronic displays, a digital picture is good enough for me.

Work A Day World

Michigan Mike has been working for living:
I just finished my 6 weeks training at the T-shirt warehouse as a part-time puller. I've made it almost all the way to "Puller Express". I enjoy it, but $120 a week only goes so far.

Well, it's 6 weeks of qualification, to be exact. They track precise numbers on accuracy and productivity. People are let go if they only rise to 99.6% accuracy or something like that. $9 an hour. Incentive for accuracy is +.65/hour. $2 cash bonus if you find a mill error. (Wrong size/color/item in factory sealed box) It could be worse. I could be sewing the shirts.

Yes, I can get you a job, but if you shamed me it would be forever. ;)

Wholesale sports and athletic wear, selling to screen printers and embroiderers.

Deliveries arrive in 2-3 days via UPS.

They state that the handling costs for correction of an order costs $85, which I think is not too exaggerated, considering 2 additional UPS charges, warehouse handling and CSR time.

Plus customer satisfaction. I interviewed with one of these screen printers. They keep no stock. They order 3 or 30 shirts or whatever in per order. They receive pre-separated artwork and work orders from promotions companies, and the churn gets started.

Nope, these are real production numbers or pretty close. I get a personalized spreadsheet printout everyday with production lines per hour and accuracy from the previous day. Each order is scanned out by each puller and checker. Some 200-300 orders per day, the bulk handled between close of business and 7 pm for the first UPS semi-truck. 2nd truck at 11.

Quite tidy, yet has a strong human team quality. "15 minutes to first truck." announcements. Some chitchat among the kids, but with 3 specs per order line qty/size/color-description, it requires some attention. Each garment tag is verified. That's once you find the location. About 20-30 workers starting at 4 pm - close. There is a small amount but really little room for gaming the system. Multiple-line orders with small quantities each improve your productivity, which is basically lines/hour. "Fast" product is located close to the dock.

Once training is complete and your accuracy is above the 99.79% (1 error a week), you become responsible for packing, closing and labelling boxes as well.

Some orders are one's and two's, Some are 5 cases.
The warehouse is really big:
64 aisles by 45 cross-aisles x 4-5 shelves per location x 5-6 boxes per shelf.
~71280 items
I would say it is about 10 acres.

I don't much like the website myself. Descriptions are catalog, not specific enough to screen printing industry. Should be more technical, that's who they are selling to.
Now please say something like "any dope can do screen printing".
Personally, I think the industry should develop a surface beta factor on smoothness and absorbency. but there are mill variations in product, uncontrollable at the minimal price I'm sure they are paying, enforceable only by the availability of alternative suppliers
He's applied for a new job, one more in line with his talents:
They did extensive digging on my background, employment, credit, criminal, drug testing. I got my reports today, and I feel dirty how clean I am.
Iowa Andy replies:
They do that here too! Yet there is someone who is pissing in all the conference rooms, literally. With all the security & cameras they can't catch 'em. No it isn't me.

Breaking News! Titanic Sinks! Again!

Found on ComputerWorld. Via View From The Porch. Again.

Quote of the Day

"FTC Disclaimer – My rump is not as tough as 1,050-denier nylon (I don’t even know what 1,050-denier nylon means) but it can easily withstand your kissing."
Rob "Sharp As A Marble" Allen's postscript to his review of a rifle case. Via View From The Porch.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Elite Squad: The Enemy Within

From Brazil, which I suppose means it's in Portuguese, with subtitles. Paramilitary police group in Rio runs the drug dealers out of town, so things should improve, right? Well, the drug trade goes away, but the extra income the regular police were getting in the form of payoffs from the drug dealers also goes away, so they need to find a new way to supplement their income. They do so by muscling their way into every business that is operating in the slums: bottled gas for cooking, satellite TV, jitney buses, etc. Where before they were making 30K a month, now they are making 300K. That would be reals, which are worth about 55 cents today. Our hero finally figures out what is going on and blows the whistle. The coppers don't take kindly to that, so they pull out their guns and we get a real live shooting war. A bunch of corrupt cops end up going to jail, but the governor, who was in cahoots with these guys continues on his merry way. Probably got reelected on a "root out the corruption" campaign.

IMDB page.
Wikipedia has an interesting story about the security of this film.

Duck Tape Rides Again!

Dennis likes to make things like wallets out of Duck Tape. This is his latest creation. The black part holds a stack of credit cards, the camo pattern holds his cash, and the whole thing is held closed by magnets. The two sections slide apart, if you only need to carry one.

I didn't know they even made camo pattern Duck Tape, but I guess it was inevitable. And yes, I prefer Duck to Duct. You don't have to add that little T sound at the end.

Boo Boo

On the way to the airport this morning we look down from this overpass and see the semi-tractor and trailer lying on their side. As the Hulk was nowhere to be seen, the only explanation I can think of is that the driver was in too much of a hurry going around the corner. The view from the overpass was much better, but I didn't even have my camera out when we first noticed it, so I came by afterwards at ground level and got this picture. Getting back up on the overpass would probably have meant about five miles of driving and 15 minutes of my time, so this is all you get.

Porcelli's Grocery

Jack & I tried out a new restaurant for lunch on Monday. It used to be a neighborhood grocery store, now it's an Italian restaurant. Good food, cheerful waitress, reasonable prices, about the same as what we pay at O'Connors. On my way out I noticed this display of beers. Only now did I realize I had never heard of an Italian beer, and wondered if they had any. The have two: Birra Moretti & Peroni Nastro Azzurro. I'll have to try them out next time I'm there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

In the Electric Mist (with the Confederate Dead)

It's a murder mystery, with a side story about making a movie about the civil war. IMDB sums it up pretty well:
"A detective in post Katrina New Orleans area has a series of surreal encounters with a troop of friendly Confederate soldiers while investigating serial killings of local prostitutes, a 1965 lynching and corrupt local businessmen."
General John Bell Hood at Gaines's Mill

Levon Helm as the Confederate General John Bell Hood is outstanding. He is a figment of Tommy Lee Jones imagination, of course, as the General has been dead for well over 100 years, but his antiquated way of talking and his pithy comments make a good counter-point to our modern day lawman. I had never heard of him before, which might be the reason the author included him in his book.

Peter Sarsgaard plays the obnoxious drunken actor, and plays him well, I guess, as he certainly is obnoxious. He does have one good line in the movie when our lawman's daughter asks him if he likes being an actor. He replies that "it's just a job". A good point I think.

Update September 2023 YouTube trailer here.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The Dam Busters

I've heard the story for years and I knew about the giant spinning bomb, but I had never seen the movie until this week. As a movie it was so-so. The special effects were not exactly cheesy, but they were nothing to write home about either. Of course, it is an old movie, 1955 to be exact, and there were no computers, much less any CGI (Computer Generated Imagery), but the clips of the bomb being dropped on the test runs were really something! No special effects there, that was the real deal. It is surprising to see this big, heavy bomb bounce off the water, not just once, but several times. Like Art Arfons says: at 60 MPH water is as hard as concrete. When Wallis (the bomb's inventor) is asked where he got the idea he responds with "Nelson", and something about how he liked to bounce the cannonballs off the water (a "Yorker") on their way to the enemy as a method of insuring maximum damage, or some such (just after the 1:01:15 mark on Netflix). Lucky Jack Aubrey (the hero of Patrick O'Brian's sea stories) was always talking about Nelson, and forever reminiscing about the time Nelson asked him to "pass the butter" at a dinner they both attended. Here it is, 150 years later, and they are still talking about him. As long as there is an England they will no doubt continue to talk about him.

For those of you who don't know the story: During WWII the British sent a squadron of 19 Lancaster bombers, each equipped with one 10 ton bomb, to attack three German dams. The whole mission was done at tree-top level. They were so low that two planes were lost when they collided with electrical power lines. A total of eight planes were lost. Two of the dams were breached which caused extensive flooding and damage. Failure to follow up on these raids meant that Germany suffered only a temporary setback. The raid's biggest success was its' moral boost for the British.

When I watch Science Fiction movies that include space ships I am often bothered by the obviously bogus equipment employed in these ships. Come back to the present. This movie had enough alien equipment in it to qualify it as Science Fiction, and it is only 50 years and a few thousand miles removed from my present location. The English really do have a peculiar way of making things.

One highlight of the movie was the squadron commander's dog, a black dog by the name of Nigger. I couldn't believe it when I first heard it, after all, you just can't say that word anymore. Evidently it was a fairly common name for a black dog back then, in England at any rate, much like Blacky would be for a dog now, or can you even call a dog Blacky anymore?

Quote of the Day

"Soylent Green is Made Out of Peeple!" - Caption on Peeps Contest entry # 7
Via View From The Porch

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Resistance Is Futile

Picked up a plastic doo-dad from the pharmacy yesterday. It's just a plastic tube that goes with an inhaler, makes it easier to get a full dose of medicine or something. Whatever. It's just a piece of plastic, no drugs on any kind. Still, the pharmacy would not sell it to me without a prescription, probably because it's a "medical device", and insurance won't pay for it unless a doctor specifically orders it, and because of all this administrative overhead what should cost a dollar ends up costing the insurance company a zillion bucks.

Came with a roadmap size sheet of instructions printed in 14 languages. I think that has to be a new record. I don't even recognize half of them. It was made by Philips, the Dutch conglomerate that I really dislike because sometimes their "corporate group think" seems to overshadow common sense. Now here they are, trying to make sure they are not discriminating against anyone, or are they just trying to assimilate everyone, like the Borg?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Inspector Bellamy

Oh, goodie! A French murder mystery! This ought to be fun. Well, I don't know about fun, but it was entertaining, but now that's over I am not sure why. I mean nothing happens. We go through a bunch of motions, and some weird stuff happens, but we know exactly as much about the "murder" at the end as we did at the beginning. I think what saved this movie was the editing. It could easily have had lots of drawn out scenes with lots of dialog and long lingering shots of this, that and the other, but they didn't. They cut the scenes short, sometimes almost too short. You think the scene is going to run on for a bit so they can tell you something, but they don't. They have already told you the important stuff, no need to repeat it or embroider it.

The basic plot is one we've seen before: married guy falls in love with his girlfriend and then stages his death to collect on his life insurance. He even goes to the trouble to get plastic surgery and a fake ID. Except the insurance money is for the wife he is leaving. The plot unravels before we are even on the scene. The cops have figured out that the guy who died in the fiery car crash wasn't the owner of the car. Modern forensics, you know. Actually it was fairly primitive forensics. The guy's jaw bone didn't match his dental X-rays.

The plastic surgery was pointless, the guy was obviously the same guy, he just shaved his beard off, and the fake ID must have been really cheap because the Inspector spotted it right away. I got to thinking about this later. Fake documents are a staple of crime stories, but they are usually very expensive and "impossible to tell from the real thing", but it occurred to me that for run of the mill kind of security checks, cheap ID's might work just fine, you know, kind of like the press passes you show to the security guards. If you are dealing with someone who doesn't look at too many ID's, or someone who has already seen a thousand of them this morning, your cheap fake may just work.

Inspector Bellamy (Gérard Depardieu, again!), on vacation at his wife's family home in Nimes, get's pulled in by the mastermind behind this plot. He (the mastermind) is confused, upset, distraught? Hard to tell, in any case he's basically incoherent. Inspector Bellamy is intrigued and proceeds to tease the story out of this guy, and the various women involved: the wife, the girlfriend, and the dead guy's ex-girlfriend (picture).

Funny thing about movies. We'll accept fat guys on the screen, but not fat women. All four of the women in this movie are thin as rails. Gérard is fat. He's always been a big guy, but from 2001 (Vidocq) to 2009 (this movie) he has ballooned to the size of a whale. One scene with his wife lying on top of him on the bed (clothed) emphasizes his whale-like quality. Another thing about Gérard that I don't get is women being attracted to him, but then maybe women see something different. I noticed this in another movie of his: Vatel.

There are all kinds of little stories going on inside this movie. Gérard's user half-brother is one of the bigger ones. The guy is just a disaster, but what are you going to do? He's family. Then there's the dead guy's story, and how he ended up dead, which is curious because we only have the mastermind's word for what happened. The defense mounted by the kid lawyer at the end is amusing. All in all, very entertaining.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq

In French with subtitles, stars Gérard Depardieu as the famous detective Vidocq pursuing the evil Alchemist in 1830 Paris. From The Vidocq Society:
Vidocq's life story is amazing. As a fugitive from French justice, he first offered his services as a police spy and informer. Later, he became so successful at catching criminals that he was named the first chief of the Sûreté, in 1811. Vidocq eventually directed a force of 28 detectives, all of whom were also former criminals.

The story is curious and a bit of a fantasy, but it is totally overshadowed by the visuals, which are stunning. The colors are amazing. Reminds me a bit of Moulin Rouge.

Bit of trivia from IMDBFirst feature film shot with the new Sony digital 1080p 24 fps cameras to reach the screen. This was in 2001.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

4 Books that didn't make the cut

I picked up four books from the bargain bin the other day, and they all turned out to be turkeys. I only got a couple of chapters into each one before I gave up on them.

  • A Spot Of Bother by Mark Haddon. Slow moving story of family life told from the point of view of an old man suffering from anxiety, among other problems. National Bestseller. Did I say slow moving? Make that glacial.
  • A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth. The blurb on the back makes it sound like it might be an interesting story, and it might be, eventually, but it takes way too long to start going somewhere. The background is just endless.
  • Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban. It might be a pretty good story, but I'll never know. It's written in some kind of phonetically spelled slang/dialect. It was an effort to figure out what each sentence meant. Some of them were easy enough, but some of the "words" were totally opaque. Too much work to translate.
  • Tour de Force by Philip Cleife, A Harper Novel of Suspense. It could have been a good story, except for the implausible behavior of the lead characters. Most of it is pretty good, but then something happens, or someone says something, and I just throw up my hands in disgust. Once or twice would be okay, but it kept happening over and over again. 


Japanese gangster (Yakuza) film, with subtitles, not be confused with Outrage, the film about closeted politicians. At the beginning I think, okay, we have some double dealing going on, but as things progress I realize that every time any of these guys make some kind of agreement, the very next thing they do is make some kind of double-cross arrangement with somebody else. After a while I got tired of trying to keep track of who is on who's side. Not that it makes any difference. Eventually the situation reaches the boiling point and then the bullets start flying and the bodies start falling, and any alliances that you thought were stable, turns out they aren't. What a crummy way to live your life. And what a waste of several acres of tattooing.

2nd Grade Claim to Fame

I was talking over Optimize Me!'s bio-feedback scheme with my wife today, and she implies that they would remember me from my earlier visit. I expressed doubt, and she disagreed. She was sure they would remember me because they had run out of math problems for me to do.

During the evaluation at Optimize Me! they had me alternately relaxing and then performing simple mental exercises. One of these exercises is to perform a series of simple mental arithmetic problems: two times three, four plus five, that sort of thing. Afterwards they told me that they have a script they follow, and I did all the math problems so quickly that they ran out of problems and had to start making them up on the fly.

When I was in second grade (at Lafayette Elementary School in West Seattle back in 1958), our teacher used to play records of simple math problems for us. I was so good at it that one day she turned the record player up to top speed just to see if I could do the problems that fast. I think she told the rest of the class not to bother trying, they were just going to see whether I could do it or not. Not only was I able to answer all the problems, I got them all right. Yay! I was a second grade math prodigy, high point of my career in math..


A blast from the past that could have been written today, except nobody writes that well anymore, and there are a few slang terms that I wasn't familiar with. All in all a pretty good explanation of what's ever been wrong with America.

Via View From The Porch.