Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Friday, January 31, 2014

Pic of the Day

The Ameya by Robert Frederick Blum, 1893. Via Spoon & Tamago.

The American - George Clooney

I remember seeing the trailers for this movie when it came out and thinking that it might be pretty cool/fun, and it was, but not in the action-thriller kind of way that you might expect from the previews. George is holed up in a little Italian town, keeping a low profile. We follow him around town for a bit, and gol durn it, I think I read the book: A Very Private Gentleman by Martin Booth. Turns out I started it, but I wasn't able to finish it. George, being the manly man he is, cannot help but attract a series of beautiful women: as his ill-fated Swedish girlfriend, as a fellow criminal-in-arms, and as the hooker with a heart of gold. They make it very easy to watch. 
    George has a job putting together a rifle with a silencer, and we get to watch him at work, including making the silencer (sorry, "suppressor") out of some metal scraps he picks up at a garage. When he demos the gun he tells us that the muzzle velocity is 360 miles per hour. Never heard it done that way. It is usually given in feet per second, at least over here in the USA. In Europe I expect they use meters per second. Anyway 360 MPH works out to 528 feet per second, which is pert near dead slow for a bullet, especially one coming out of a rifle. Rifles are usually upwards of 2,000 feet per second. The suppressor would slow it down some, but not that much. That's Hollywood for you.
    He also sabotages the gun at the last minute when his suspicions about his employer bloom. There is never any real clear indicator that he is himself a target, but we just have little incidents happening that let you know something it now quite right. Anyway, it turns out he is right and the sabotage has fatal consequences for his would be assassin. Kind of interesting since I was just reading about some lethal problems with guns.

Three of the towns mentioned in the film are just outside of  Rome. Another one that gets mentioned is another part of the country entirely. View 2014 January in a larger map

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Some Kind of Door

Turkish Police try to break down a door. I'd like to meet the door maker.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


Syrian army soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

For a while I was convinced that Assad was a bad guy, a corrupt tyrant in the same mold as every other dictator we have ever decried. Then I started trying to understand just what the hell was going on with the Jihadists and I started paying a little more attention. My opinion of him is now more neutral because the people he is fighting are not any better, and could very well be much worse. Assad, bad as he is, might be the best option for Syria. And now we are sending guns and money to the rebels. I wonder what we are trying to accomplish. Are we trying to prop up Saudi Arabia's bid to gain an edge over Iran? Or perhaps we are just caught up in the enthusiasm of the moment and are "helping" by throwing more fuel on the fire. Burn, baby, burn!

Cultural Hegemony

Pete Seeger is dead and Tam had a few cryptic words to say, cryptic in that they are not machine related and so are therefor unfamiliar to this gear-head. So I had to go look it up, and when I did I found this, the intro to Wikipedia's article on Cultural Hegemony:
In Marxist philosophy, the term Cultural Hegemony describes the domination of a culturally diverse society by the ruling class, who manipulate the culture of the society — the beliefs, explanations, perceptions, values, and mores — so that their ruling-class worldview becomes the worldview that is imposed and accepted as the cultural norm; as the universally valid dominant ideology that justifies the social, political, and economic status quo as natural, inevitable, perpetual and beneficial for everyone, rather than as artificial social constructs that benefit only the ruling class.
The initial phrase "In Marxist philosophy" is superfluous. I think this definition applies equally well in any culture, East or West, Communist or Capitalist, Democracy or Dictatorship.

Monday, January 27, 2014

daily minutia trivia house hold item:

Iowa Andy reports:
    Our downstairs toilet seat broke, it caught my notice because it was unusually old and of sturdy construction. Looks like it may be almost as old as I. Removing it, I ran into springs, why springs???  looking on the internet the manufacturer, Sperzel in Minneapolis, was one of five toilet seat makers,  but is now out of business.
    I did find patent information.  As detailed as the patent is,  it doesn't say why there are springs, rusted necessitating a Sawzal cutting of the thick bolt while not cracking the bowl.
    This led to researching Recip blades,  Lenox being the best,  my craftsman blades were crap. While searching for blades,  I was reminded to use the 4.5" angle grinder,  which I did,  taking a about a minute on the 2nd bolt,  much quicker than my hour of hack/recip sawing on the first.
    Additionally curious is that the seat designed to have a limited swing is mounted on a standard tank toilet whose tank abrogates the need of a swing limit. My latest theory is this industrial seat  was taken from the hospital by one of the previous Doctor owners.
    Sperzel is also the name of a Cleveland company that makes guitar machine heads.
US Patent 2,814,048

Update September 2018 replaced missing picture.

Ay Caramba!

From a comment on Burro Hall. The picture was just too good to pass up. The caption is Google's translation.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

2007 Su-30 MKI performance at MAKS

Pilot V. Averyanov does things with this 20 ton airplane that you just shouldn't do.

Update October 2015, replaced missing video.

Friday, January 24, 2014

New Year

You might have noticed that I did not post anything for the last couple of days. I've been thinking I need to change my ways, but I am somewhat at a loss as to just what I should be paying attention to. I could be looking for a job, but despite some recent positive indicators I suspect such an endeavor would probably be futile. There are any number of projects I could be doing around the house, but past experience tells me that I make very slow progress on that kind of thing. If it really needs to be done I will delay as long as possible and then hire a professional to take care of it. I could try and make the world a better place, and I hope maybe this blog is having some kind of positive effect in that direction, but could I be doing any more? Oh, I could, but do I really know what kinds of things would help?
    As near as I can tell, we are our own worst enemy. WHO (the World Health Organization) tries to eradicate disease and improve people's health, which should be a good thing, but the secondary effect is that we have large increases in population, which leads to more competition for resources, which leads to conflicts which turn into wars which kill zillions of people.
     I like the idea of a reverse income tax, but would that also promote an increased birthrate among non-producers, which would lead to more competition for resources, etc?
    I like the idea of legalizing drugs, but if drugs were legal would we see a large increase in the number of addicts? Supposedly addicts, if they are not in need of their drug, are perfectly rational people. But I do wonder if there might be some kind of effect on their personality / judgement that could prove to be troublesome. I mean the Zombie Apocalypse is an entertaining fantasy, but I really do not want to go there.
    I have been thinking I should spend some time programming, though I am not sure if I can do anything to prevent our headlong plunge into the computer apocalypse, which is where I think all our current trends in computing are taking us. Also, computer programming is hard work, and if I'm gonna be working I should be getting paid. Well, yes, but that is not likely, and I do enjoy it, so I probably should see what I can do. Now all I have to do is scrounge up some cables and plug some things in and I will have a couple of computers I can mess with. Probably should move the safe out of my office though if I don't want to trip over it every time I turn around.

Riots in Ukraine

This one is for Tam.  Many more photos here. 

Gold in Mali

From what I have seen and heard of Mali, it doesn't seem like there is much of anything there, but at lunch yesterday Don tells me that they have gold mines. Turns out he's right, and there are a bunch, including several big ones like the

Open Pit Syama Gold Mine
 and who knows how many little ones.
The open pit mines are digging up tons of earth to recover grams of gold. Does not seem like it should pay, but evidently if you can dig enough dirt it does. The amount of gold seems to vary between 1 and 5 grams per ton. The cost to recover one once of gold seems to be around $500, and they can sell those ounces for $1500. Each mine produces on the order of 100,000 ounces of gold a year, so the mine generates a profit of around a hundred million dollars a year. 
    In order to produce 100,000 ounces of gold, you need to dig up something like a million tons of dirt, which is why you need really big shovels and really big dump trucks.
    Of course there was a big upfront investment in time and money and politicking to get the whole thing set up and running, and all the money you are spending has an interest penalty attached to it. And then there is the whole "operating in Africa" thing, which means your whole operation could get wiped out by one of a vicious wars that Africa is famous for.
I came across several companies that are involved in gold mining in Mali:

Royal Norwegian Air Force - Lofoten


Flying around the North Coast of Norway, just down the road from the Andøya Rocket Range and the largest Medium Frequency Radar Installation in Europe.

Lofoten Norway

along with other places mentioned in the video.

Update July 2021 replaced missing map with image from Google Earth image link.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Another One Bites The Dust

We used to have four of these wine glasses. This was the last one. I don't think I have ever seen a wine glass break the stem out of the bowl like this one did without the bowl breaking. These glasses were basically too delicate to survive. The last one broke when I knocked it over on the table.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Stu is talking about how happy German Chancellor - Dr. Angela Merkel is with the USA and the NSA's behavior. John (UK) leaves a comment with a link to Blackphone. Ooooo! Cool! A black phone! It will go great with my Black AMEX Card and my black Ninja Assassin outfit! I gotta get one! So I pull up the link and this is what I see.

Can you read that? I can't. Well, I suppose I could if I worked at it. I don't know if it's my antique display device or their poor font choice or some combination thereof, but it's really bad. It's even worse than Google's anti-machine font. 
    I copied and pasted it here so you and I can read it.

The Vision

Giving power back to the user

Blackphone is the world's first smartphone which prioritizes the user's privacy and control, without any hooks to carriers or vendors. It comes preinstalled with all the tools you need to move throughout the world, conduct business, and stay in touch, while shielding you from prying eyes.
It's the trustworthy precaution any connected worker should take, whether you're talking to your family or exchanging notes on your latest merger & acquisition.
I will venture no opinion on whether their phone will work as advertised or not, but I will say that if you don't want the feds listening to your conversations, the simplest solution is to not make any phone calls. 

P.S. the .ch extension on Blackphone's URL tells me they are in Switzerland, or at least they want us to think they have some connection with Switzerland, like maybe they like chocolate, or cows, or old Clint Eastwood movies.

Dear General Zapata: This Happens.

This Burro Hall post is just, just,... I don't know what.


Stolen entire from Ambiance. Via Dustbury.

Parental Observation #1

January 14, 2014 at 2:54 pm (Icepick) ()
The “Terrible Twos” are merely a marketing ploy by three year-olds, designed to throw parents off the track of how bad three year-olds behave. You see, by the time a child hits three they become very capable, in an absolute sense. By this I mean they know how things work: doors, locks, caps on spice bottles, plumbing fixtures, ladders, chain saws, lathes, Machiavellian interpersonal machinations, etc. They can do a lot with those skills, in an absolute sense. And they all have the same kind of outlook on law and order that one would expect of devotees of the Anarchist Cookbook. Do you have any idea of the harm an anarchist can do with spice bottle caps and a lathe? If you answer yes, you have probably been a parent of a three year-old at some point in your life.

Parental Observation #2

January 14, 2014 at 6:46 pm (Icepick) ()
It’s always funnier when it happens to someone else. (This is more widely applicable to the human condition, of course.)
Example: My wife sent me an email earlier this afternoon, which read:
I saw your post on Ambiance. ([Amba] shared it on FB.) I laughed and laughed. Then I realized you wrote it.
We’ve all been there.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Pic of the Day


This is weird. I cropped the above image from a screenshot of my blog. See the arrow in the image above? See the little circle that the arrow is pointing toward? It's just above the 't' in "the". At first I thought that I entered some foreign language character by mistake, but scroll up or down and the circle stays. Aha! Dirt on the screen! But no, wiping it away has no effect. Open a new tab in my browser (Firefox at the moment) and it disappears. Open my blog in another tab and there it is again! I suspect fancy mouse related nonsense from Chrome, which I have quit using again because it has recently become very sluggish.

You know what else is weird? The background in the screenshot is a different color than the background here, even though they should be identical. I mean, it's a screenshot, right? So what happens if we take a screenshot of a screenshot? Does it continue to get darker?

Look at that. Keep going and we might be able to reduce it to an all black square.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

James May's Toy Stories - The Motorcycle Diary

James May rides his Meccano motorbike - James May's Toy Stories: The Motorcycle Diary - BBC Two

James May (of 'Top Gear' fame) did a lap of the Isle of Man Mountain Course on a motorcycle made entirely out of Meccano.
 Stolen entire from Eunoia. Meccano is the Brit's version of an Erector Set.

Update September 2020 replaced missing video.
Update January 2022 replaced missing video.

Lawrence Wright goes clear on Scientology and religious fervor

By Steve Duin |
Lawrence Wright grew up in Dallas, and while he realized early on that one can't be "a Methodist extremist," he also experienced the fiercely seductive nature of religious conviction.
In his subsequent tours of journalistic duty in the Middle East -- Wright won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9-11" -- and the American back roads, he saw lives rearranged and unhinged by faith and zealotry.

"Again and again, I began seeing the influence of religion, driving people toward good and bad ends," the staff writer for The New Yorker said Tuesday at the Heathman Hotel.

And Wright saw far too little reflective coverage of what he calls "the effects of religious beliefs on people's lives -- historically, a far more profound influence on society and individuals than politics, which is the substance of so much journalism."

That's what eventually brought him to confront the Church of Scientology in "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief."  

"The thing you have to keep in mind about Scientology is that people go into it for the best of reasons," Wright said.  "They want to change the world.  They're idealistic.  They're willing to sacrifice."

Then they sign billion-year contracts, willingly accept sadistic levels of isolation and humiliation, vanish behind the delusional wall.  "The belief system, like with all religious beliefs, acts as a barrier to the rest of the community," Wright said.

"Sometimes, the crazier the beliefs, the higher the barrier, and the more solidified the community inside it."

In journeying to Oregon this week for the Portland Arts & Lectures series, Wright returned to the scene of L. Ron Hubbard's great World War II heroics -- in 1943, Scientology's founder claimed to have destroyed not one, but two mythical submarines while commanding a harbor patrol ship off Cape Lookout -- and the infamous "Battle of Portland."

That's the 1985 spring gala in which John Travolta and another 12,000 Scientologists descended on the Multnomah County Courthouse, claiming they were being persecuted for their religious faith in a suit brought by a young woman, Julie Christofferson Titchbourne, who argued she had wasted $3,200 in college savings on counseling.

After the jury awarded Titchbourne $39 million in damages, Judge Donald Londer declared a mistrial, ruling -- Wright notes -- that her lawyers "presented prejudicial arguments to the jury by saying that Hubbard was a sociopath and that Scientology was not a religion but a terrorist organization.
"Church members who had been in Portland would always feel an ecstatic sense of kinship."

Wright is clearly intrigued by that kinship.  "Religion is always an irrational exercise, no matter how ennobling it may be to the human spirit," he writes in "Going Clear," but Hubbard -- who got his start writing science fiction and died in 1986 -- had "an incorrigible ability to float above the evidence."

Hubbard argued Earth "was part of a confederation of planets under the leadership of a despot ruler named Xenu." He wrote in "Dianetics," first published in 1950, "However many billions America spends yearly on institutions for the insane and jails for the criminals are spent primarily because of attempted abortions done by some sex-blocked mother to whom children are a curse, not a blessing of God."

Give the guy credit, though: From the very beginning, Hubbard insists, "If it's not true for you, it isn't true," brilliantly anticipating the mantra of climate-change denial. 

Wright calmly lays out the byzantine history and manners of Scientology in "Going Clear." "My work is grounded in reality," he told a group of Oregon writers at the Heathman.

"'Truth is stranger than fiction' has always resonated with me."

So has religious conviction.  "There is no point in questioning Scientology's standing as a religion; in the United States, the only opinion that really counts is that of the IRS," Wright notes, and after stripping Scientology of its religions tax exemption in 1967, the agency reversed itself in 1993
What he questions, instead, is why so many souls lock themselves inside such a prison of belief.  Is it Hubbard's arresting voice?  Tom Cruise envy?

Or is it the genius of "finding the ruin" in every potential recruit, as Scientologists have long been trained to do, then offering that lost soul the refuge of belonging, even if that community is a padded cell?

"We can hold strong political views, and it may not affect your behavior at all," Wright said Tuesday.  "Strong religious views are different.  People often rearrange their whole lives around those beliefs, and it may go unnoticed by journalists.

"Maybe I thought I served a purpose in calling attention to that."

-- Steve Duin

Stolen entire from The Oregonian.

Update August 2021 fixed garbled header.

Highway Dream

I am driving a compact hatchback car down a busy four lane highway somewhere out in the backwoods. My wife is with me. There might be some other people in the backseat. I am towing a long, red, enclosed trailer. It not very tall or wide, but it is much longer than the car.
    I am in the left hand lane and I am passing a blue and white truck that is also towing a longish trailer. It's not a semi, it's one of those big utility repair trucks, the ones with the built in toolboxes on the sides. The truck is actually white with blue markings, not really blue and white, but people don't say "white and blue", do they? In any case the trailer is painted with the same color scheme.
    So I am passing this truck-trailer combo and his trailer comes loose and starts drifting into my lane. It actually contacts our car and starts pushing us across the center line into oncoming traffic. We' re still going 50 odd miles per hour. I look at the trailer and then I look where I am going just in time to see a big dump truck heading right for us. Somehow he manages to swerve out of the way. It startles me, but it doesn't last long enough for me to become really scared. Now we are slowing a bit and I am able to push the trailer back over to our side of the road and eventually off the side onto a wide spot where the white and blue truck that was pulling it has stopped.
    I have just gotten out of the car and I'm thinking this is going to be a big mess for the insurance companies to sort out when I spot a guy dressed in pinstriped dark blue business suit, complete with vest and clipboard coming toward me. He reminds me of Ron Burgundy. Seems he is an insurance adjuster and he was riding in the white and blue truck. He had just been out to adjudicate another claim, so it is mere coincidence that he is here now.

Monday, January 13, 2014


I clicked on a link in a Burro Hall post about Bimbo Negrito and fell down the rabbit hole, where I discovered this comment on Mi blog es tu blog:
In Mexico they see it from a different perspective. Kind of how children do things that may seem wrong to others but, because of their inocence, its done without malice. The african slave trafficking was virtually unexistant in Mexico back in the days of the Spanish colony so none of this “Black revolution” movement occured like it did in the US with Martin Luther King. We all enjoy Negrito bimbo here in Mexico, its not politically incorrect.
This was all I found on the subject of slavery in Mexico:
In 1829 president Guerrero abolished slavery.

which kind of surprised me. I kind of thought the conquistadors would be big on that kind of thing.

Moving on. Introduction from the Wikipedia article on slavery:
    Slavery is a system under which people are treated as property to be bought and sold, and are forced to work. Slaves can be held against their will from the time of their capture, purchase or birth, and deprived of the right to leave, to refuse to work, or to demand compensation. Historically, slavery was institutionally recognized by most societies; in more recent times, slavery has been outlawed in all countries, but it continues through the practices of debt bondage, indentured servitude, serfdom, domestic servants kept in captivity, certain adoptions in which children are forced to work as slaves, child soldiers, and forced marriage. Slavery is officially illegal in all countries, but there are still an estimated 20 million to 30 million slaves worldwide. Mauritania was the last jurisdiction to officially outlaw slavery (in 1981/2007), but about 10% to 20% of its population is estimated to live in slavery.
    Slavery predates written records and has existed in many cultures. Most slaves today are debt slaves, largely in South Asia, who are under debt bondage incurred by lenders, sometimes even for generations. Human trafficking is primarily used for forcing women and children into sex industries.
    In pre-industrial societies, slaves and their labour were economically extremely important to those who benefitted from them. Slaves and serfs made up around three-quarters of the world's population at the beginning of the 19th century.
Mauritania? I've heard of that place, haven't I? It's one of those island nations in the Indian Ocean, right? No, actually not. It's on the West Coast of Africa and it has got to be one of the most desolate places on earth. This should not be a surprise because it is the Westernmost part of the Sahara desert.

What's weird is that the desert goes right down to ocean's edge. Most everywhere else you look in the world, wherever land meets ocean there is green stuff growing. Not here. No wonder no one talks about it, everyone is too parched to be able to speak.
    Mali borders Mauritania on the South and East. Mali is where the Jihadists have been causing trouble recently and the French sent troops to "pacify" them. Not surprisingly Mauritania is an Islamic country. Islam and desolation often seem to go hand in hand.
    There are only three million odd souls in Mauritania, so even if a quarter of the population is being held in slavery, that is less than a million people. Shoot, that's fewer people than the number inconvenienced by New Jersey Governor Christie's recent shenanigans [/sarcasm].

Update March 2021 replaced missing map.

It's Not Complicated

Why would it not? Indeed. Why would you even feel the need to ask such a question? Of course it has a dinosaur that can turn into a robot and chop the water like a karate ninja.

Update October 2015: replaced the missing video.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pic of the Day

Today's lesson is in geology. What we have here is a very nice picture of a South African Oryx helicopter flying in front of a rocky cliff that has a large cleft right in the middle. The part I thought was interesting is the way the sedimentary layers in the upper left quadrant of the picture make an esse curve. Think maybe those rocks got a little warm at some point? Like when they were a few tens of miles underground, or maybe it was a crash of continents. Hard to imagine how they got back up to the surface where we could see them.

The White Ghetto

An excellent story about Appalachia in National Review Online. I would have stolen the whole thing but it's a little long. My wife and I started watching Justified recently, which is set mostly in Kentucky, so we have a little overlap here. Via View From The Porch.

Jack Reacher

I know I said I didn't like the book, but the movie was fine, even if Tom Cruise isn't six foot five and two hundred and twenty pounds (I could have sworn it was Tam who complained about casting Tom Cruise as Reacher, but Google denies it ever happened.). He was driving a 40 year old AMERICAN muscle car going up against bad guys driving their effete, expensive Euro-sedans. One review I saw accused the gray car of being an Audi R-8, but I seriously doubt that. An A-6, maybe. And never mind that the Chevy was a 2nd generation Chevelle and 250 pounds overweight. Maybe that's why they were so willing to smash it up. Robert Duvall is getting old. Wernor Herzog plays the hard-ass Russian without any fingers. His character is a very nasty piece of work. Rosamund Pike plays the blond, while she is not beauty incarnate, she is very appealing. Perhaps it's her wide-eyed expression. The scene of her walking down the hall on her way to being kidnapped really made me think that women, in general,  have really poor situational awareness. But the whole movie was like that, expertly crafted, giving just the right emotional cues at just the right times.

Friday, January 10, 2014

SS Badger

SS Badger cruises past the Ludington Light on its way out of port.

The SS Badger is the last coal fired steamship operating on the Great Lakes. It was originally built to carry railroad cars, but that came to an end in 1990. A couple years later it was refitted to carry passengers and cars and has been doing it ever since.

The Arthur E. Atkinson, out of Frankfort, Michigan, a similar vessel loading rail cars back in the day. 

All vehicles, whether railcars or automobiles, are loaded from the back, which means the ship needs to back into port. It also means long vehicles, like semi-trucks, also have to back on. I don't know about cars. Having a hundred people trying to back cars down the length of this ship sounds like a bad idea. 
Semis seem to be a regular part of their business, but I don't think it's enough to pay for the ship all by itself.

From the manufacturers brochure.
The Badger has two 8,000 horsepower engines. The crankshaft of each engine has four throws, each one holding one connecting rod that supports two pistons (picture at left): a small diameter, high pressure piston at the top and a large, low pressure piston in the middle.

I think they must have automatic machines to feed the coal to the boilers. The Badger burns 50 tons of coal a day in its four boilers, and while a black gang of four could do it by hand (remember 16 tons?), I don't think that's how it's done.

One ton of coal contains the energy equivalent to 12,000 horsepower for one hour. Steam engines are only about 30% efficient, so each 8,000 horsepower engine would consume 2 tons of coal an hour. It is about 60 miles across the lake from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The Badger cruises at about 15 knots, so the trip across the lake one way takes about four hours.

2 tons x 2 engines x 4 hours x 2 trips across the lake =  32 tons per day.

The engines are overkill for the light loads the Badger is carrying these days (compared to railcars), so they probably are not running at full steam. During the summer she makes two round trips a day, so three-quarter duty times 32 tons times twice a day, that's right around 50 tons.

Inspired by an email from California Bob and Comrade Misfit's weekly steam locomotive posts.

Value of Life

Picture from Breakfast @ Tiffany's

I started reading  Soldiers of God yesterday and I was struck by a thought. The same thought has struck me before when reading other stories, and that thought is that there is a big cultural difference between modern, Western civilization and the rest of humanity in the value we place on an individuals life.
    It struck me when I was reading a story in The New Yorker about how some subsistence fisherman living on the West Coast of Mexico were adrift for a couple of weeks when the engine on their boat quit. They had no plan for what to do in that situation, they had no emergency provisions, no water, nothing. They were just putting their fate in God's hands. My thought at the time was they weren't too concerned with losing their lives because their lives were so marginal anyway. If nothing bad happens they will make it back to shore with enough fish to keep them going for another day or two. If they die, then their suffering is over.
    It was explained very clearly to me by Neal Stephenson in Reamde when he's talking about a Jihadist during a firefight, taking big risks, but killing several people and getting away with it.
    I saw it in the movie Avatar when the braves are running for their mounts for some kind of big flying party. They are running on the verge of the abyss, one false step and down they go, but they are totally confident in their running and totally heedless of the risk.
     I don't know when or where it happened, but the idea arose that maybe an individual's life was worth something and you should take steps to insure that it isn't thrown away uselessly. We are still building on this premise. Seatbelts were only introduced in the last half century. Never mind that the Consumer Safety business has become a foolish political exercise. Where did this idea come from anyway?
     Anyway, it kind of explains how terrorists can blow up themselves along with a bunch of other people. Their own lives mean nothing to them, so why should anyone else's? It goes against most everything in our Western culture, but evidently their culture embraces the idea.

War Fighting

If you wonder why the Confederacy put 75% of their manpower and their best generals to protect Richmond, VA, it was because the Tredegar Works in Richmond were the only place in the entire American South that was capable of building a steam locomotive. And then that idiot Jefferson Davis, who had no understanding of the importance of logistics despite his West Point training, wasted their capabilities casting cannon instead when there were dozens of places elsewhere in the South capable of casting cannon. The South didn't fall due to lack of cannon or gunpowder, the South fell because once their railroads collapsed, they were no longer capable of feeding or transporting their armies. Tactics win battles. Logistics wins wars. 
Still trying to decide whether Jefferson Davis's stupidity was a good thing or a bad thing for the USA... - BadTux commenting on one of Comrade Misfits posts.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Secret Life of the Sewing Machine

More from Tim Hunkin. This video is much longer than my usual YouTube fair, but I found it compelling. Sewing machines are one of the miracles of the modern age. Even for a gear head like me they are almost magical. They perform darn near invisible operations endlessly. They run virtually forever, require no maintenance, and it wasn't until I saw this video that I understood how they work. Oh, I sort of had an inkling, but I had never taken the trouble to sort it out because who needs to? They never break. The bit about Singer's personal life are entertaining. And that business about destroying old machines in order to boost sales of new machines tells me that the sewing machine may have been the invention that started our labor surplus. Wikipedia article about Isaac Singer.


I dunno, maybe this is a one percent thing (3 million people contributed, which is like 1% of the US population), but they seem to be doing some pretty cool stuff, especially in the way of movies.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


Some strange and interesting sites that will provide you with hours of entertainment, or consume all of your valuable time. It all depends on how you want to spin it.
Cabaret Mechanical Theater All about mechanical automata
tim hunkin SIMULATOR RIDES A Brit who makes some unusual amusements. One part Banksy, one part P.T. Barnum mixed with something unique.
RENT-A-DOG one of Tim's amusements.
The Arcane Auto Society. A San Francisco based club that deals with small weird cars, things like Citroen Deux-Chevaux or an Isetta.

Via Posthip Scott and Sharon

Seafire Restoration in Missouri

by Scott Schaefer

While Sarah Hill and I were taping the first Central Missouri Honor Flight special in the Ozark Hangar at Columbia Regional Airport in January 2009, I noticed Jim Cooper working on a plane in the corner of the hangar. I love airplanes and this sight piqued my interest.

The corner was enclosed by plastic from floor to ceiling and inside sat a plane, wings folded toward the ceiling and a paint job that left more to be desired. It was the Seafire XV - one of only a handful still in existence. As soon as I saw the plane and learned a few facts about it, I knew I wanted to do a story on it and follow Cooper through the rest of the restoration process.

Cooper had already been working on the Seafire for nearly a year and half by the time we met, but there was still plenty of work that had to be done. I started shooting that night and throughout the next year and half, whenever Cooper would move to a different stage in the restoration, he'd call and I would head to the hangar to shoot video. I didn't shoot every part of the process, but tried to capture the big ones ?cleaning the plane, painting, revealing the paint job, testing the landing gear, testing the engine and of course the first flight.

After 10 trips to the airport, 130 miles and nearly 6 hours of video, it was time to start the editing process. Once all the video was in the system, I spent 14 hours typing the details from of every sound and interview captured in the video. That log was essential in writing the story. I needed to know exactly what was said in order to organize everything into a story that would hopefully hold people's interest. After I had a rough script written, I began to edit the video. After about 15 hours in the edit bay tweaking every little audio and video cut?then re-tweaking them?I was finally finished. Nineteen months later. It was a tough job picking the best four minutes from six hours of video, but in the end, I think I accomplished what I set out to do.

Via Posthip Scott. Previous Seafire Post.

I like this video as much for the bits about the Blitz as the parts about this airplane. The story about how the video came to be isn't bad either.

The fine line between homelessness and the rest of us

By Wendy Alexander
Vagrant. Transient. Derelict. Vagabond. Street person. Displaced. There is not just one definition of "homeless." When people think of the homeless, images of troubled kids and drunks on the street come to mind, along with beggars of spare change, blocked sidewalks at City Hall, and police rousing those sleeping under bridges.
Media images present faces of the grimy and booze-addled. We notice those on the side of the road with a sign "œWill work for food" or "œDreams of a Cheeseburger."  But what about those you work with? Kids your kids go to school with? The person in the car next to you during rush hour trying to get to work? A college student?
I have written about the indignities of poverty and how it is to have to degrade oneself to have to ask for help to get by (Nov. 18, 2007, The Oregonian). In the last couple years, I have found myself in even more dire straits when I could not afford to pay my rent, utilities, and buy food or clothing for my kids.
I was officially homeless for a year. I prettied it up and called it "œdisplaced" because "œhomeless" sounded like those people walking around downtown Portland talking to themselves and asking for change, but it was homeless.
WENDYALEXANDER_11781895.JPGView full sizeWendy Alexander
My children and I were living in someone else's home, sleeping in living rooms and on couches and I was sharing a room with my teenage daughter while my son was sleeping in the family room. All the while, I had a job. I went from full time work, to part-time work and back to full time work, while going to school online, all in that year.
My oldest daughter, Samantha, attending college in Washington state, also had no place to call home. She was sleeping on friends' couches from night to night and several times even slept in her car. It was her last year and we were selling anything we could to pay for her to eat and get to the schools where she was student teaching.
According to a survey by the American Payroll Association in September 2012, more than two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Essentially, that means that any financial emergency could put someone on the street.
In 2011, the Hillsboro School District had more than 450 homeless childrenattending school. Kristin Ludwig, a homeless liaison for the Hillsboro School District and Community Action Family Shelter, helped me and my kids when we were homeless; she helped keep my kids in school and works with kids from all types of homelessness. These are not vagrants and beggars; they are kids, with working parents who want to keep them in school and give them a better life.
While teaching in Washington, my daughter's school had a "œDress Like a Hobo Day." Obviously, this is meant to be a fun dress-up day for the staff and kids. But what was supposed to be a spirited entertainment turned into a public mockery of abject poverty. The interpretation of "œhobo"  was kids dressing filthy and straggly. My daughter Samantha overheard some kids poking fun at others and making jokes about how one girl was not dressed up for hobo day because she dressed like that all the? time.
One student asked my daughter, her teacher, why she did not dress up like a homeless person. My daughter replied that she just didn'™t want to participate that day, as another staff member looked on quizzically. After the student left, Samantha confided to the other staff member, "œThis IS how I dressed when I was homeless."
Recently, I had a medical emergency that took me from work in an ambulance. I missed several days of work, and incurred some substantial costs on top of already-high medical bills (mind you, I have insurance through my employer). Because of this one incident, I am in danger of ending up back where I was a year ago, not being able to pay my rent, keep on my lights, and again, struggling to keep food in the house.
This week alone, I had to choose between a few days worth of food or new shoes for my son. His shoes are still passable, so food it is. I am lucky in that my insurance pays for all my diabetes medicine and testing supplies, but too many others must choose between food and medicine.
None of this is meant to be a political soapbox speech. This is not a woe-is-me story either. I have a good job and if I had a two-income household right now, I might be just fine. I freely admit, I am better off than many. But people need to realize that while media images of the filth and homeless camps are off-putting, the fact is, you may be working next to, eating lunch next to, or even commuting next to someone who is currently without a home but still a contributing and valuable person in society.
I recently considered making a sign to hold on the side of the road. I have little to nothing of value to sell to try to get by and just could not think of another option to keep the lights on.
I couldn't decide what my sign should say. "œHard working Mom and student needs to keep the electricity on"? "œSingle working parent needs help with utilities, but makes too much to get public assistance"? "I'™m already working and can't buy food"?
It can happen so fast. Lose a job, have a medical emergency, maybe come up with a deductible for a car accident. Can you take a thousand-dollar hit in a month and still be fine? What about a couple thousand? Fall one month behind and it can spiral out of control. What would your sign say?
Wendy Alexander and her family live in Hillsboro. Wendy works in Hillsboro for a Portland-based construction company and she is also a full time student with a double major of Journalism and Mass Communication and Social and Criminal Justice.

Stolen entire from The Oregonian.

Army Takes On Its Own Toxic Leaders

Top commanders in the U.S. Army have announced publicly that they have a problem: They have too many "toxic leaders" — the kind of bosses who make their employees miserable. Many corporations share a similar problem, but in the Army's case, destructive leadership can potentially have life or death consequences. So, some Army researchers are wondering if toxic officers have contributed to soldiers' mental health problems.
One of those researchers is Dave Matsuda. In 2010, then-Brig. Gen. Pete Bayer, who was supervising the Army's drawdown in Iraq, asked Matsuda to study why almost 30 soldiers in Iraq had committed or attempted suicides in the past year.
"We got to a point where we were exceptionally frustrated by the suicides that were occurring," Bayer says. "And quite honestly feeling — at least I was — helpless to some degree that otherwise good young men and women were taking their lives."
Matsuda might seem like an unconventional choice to study Army suicides. He's an anthropologist; the Army hired him to advise U.S. commanders on how to understand what was really going on below the surface in Iraq. But Bayer says those skills are what prompted him to ask Matsuda to look below the surface of the suicide problem in the Army.
"What we valued about [Matsuda], as well as a few others who worked for us, was he didn't wear a uniform. He wasn't one of us, so to speak," Bayer says.
Whenever a soldier committed suicide, Bayer says, a team of Army investigators would essentially ask the same questions: What was wrong with the individual soldier? Did he or she have a troubled childhood or mental health problems? Did the soldier just break up with a partner or spouse? Was he or she in debt? The answer was often "yes." But Bayer says he felt part of the puzzle was missing.

"We decided we were going to take a look at it from a different angle," he says.
So Matsuda looked at the cases of eight soldiers who had recently killed themselves and interviewed friends of the victims.
"I crisscrossed Iraq and interviewed 50 soldiers," Matusda recalls.
A more complicated story began to emerge, he says. In addition to major problems in their personal lives, the victims also had a leader who made their lives hell — sometimes a couple of leaders — Matsuda says. The officers would "smoke" them, as soldiers call it.
"Oftentimes platoon leaders will take turns seeing who can smoke this guy the worst. Seeing who can dream up the worst torture, seeing who can dream up the worst duties, seeing who can make this guy's life the most miserable," says Matusda.
He says the evidence did not show that the soldiers' leaders caused them to commit suicide. But the soldiers' friends said leaders had helped push them over the brink.
"When you're ridden mercilessly, there's just no letup, a lot of folks begin to fold," Matsuda says. He submitted a report stating: "[S]uicidal behavior can be triggered by ... toxic command climate."


Lt. Gen. David Perkins, who commands the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, says he knows how toxic leadership can hurt soldiers — and the Army.

"If we don't do something about toxic leadership, I mean in the end, not to be too dramatic, but it does have life or death consequences. And quite honestly, we owe it to the American public," Perkins says.
He continues: "I can just tell you from experience ... that if you have toxic leadership, people will get sort of what we call the 'fox hole mentality.' They'll just hunker down and no one is taking what we call prudent risk." Perkins led the first U.S. Army troops into downtown Baghdad after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003. "They're not being innovative, they're not being creative. And some people who are toxic leaders, they might be able to get some short-term results and get an immediate mission at hand done. But in the process, they are destroying the organization and destroying their people."
Perkins says the first step to figuring out what to do about toxic leaders was to define the problem. So in 2012, the Army revised its leadership bible, Army Doctrine Publication 6-22, to detail what toxic leadership means for the first time.

The manual now states:
"Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects. The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest. Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves. The negative leader completes short-term requirements by operating at the bottom of the continuum of commitment, where followers respond to the positional power of their leader to fulfill requests. This may achieve results in the short term, but ignores the other leader competency categories of leads and develops. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers' will, initiative, and potential and destroys unit morale."

Rest of story here.
 Stolen entire from Military Photos dot net who got it from NPR.

Nerds Versus Geeks

NERDS = Nuclear Engineering Research & Development Scientists, 
a GEEK has General Engineering Education Knowhow. - from Stu @ Eunoia

South Korea Versus North Korea At Night

Telling, isn't it? Via View From The Porch.

i give it two out of five ches.

by Marko Kloos has a nice little bit of snark on Rolling Stone Magazine’s insipid “Five Economic Reforms Millennials Should Be Fighting For” article. For those of you who don’t want to drive up the click counter at Rolling Stone: one Jesse A. Myerson basically repackages the main pillars of the Communist Manifesto to appeal to modern-day ultra-progressive hipster sensibilities and advocates guaranteed public-sector jobs, a basic living stipend, and, oh yeah, abolishing private property. It reads like something a bunch of 19-year-old sociology students cooked up at Starbucks in an hour and a half over MacBooks and $5 lattes.

Look, I grew up in a divided country. Half of us had to live under the tyrannical yoke of capitalism, with private property and landlords and greedy bankers and stuff. The other half got to live in a place where every single item on Jesse A. Myerson’s economic reform wish list was in place. Guaranteed employment and basic living stipend from the state? Check. Communal ownership of everything (“take back the land”)?Check. Social security for all? Check. Public banking system? Check. On top of that, free education, free child care, free healthcare, and the strictest gun control imaginable.
Guess which half of the country had to put up barbed wire and minefields after a few years to keep its population from fleeing to the other half? Guess which half of the country ran its economy and environment into the ground?
Holy balls, that article is so chock-full of starry-eyed, self-righteous coffeehouse Trotzkyism, it practically vibrates with revolutionary fervor. Did you know that landlords, for example, don’t really do anything for their rent money? That they just “claim ownership” of some property and then sit there and collect cash from the working class? It’s true. This is amazing news to this landlord and his wife, who have been diligently paying off two mortgages all these years, and hired a property management company to maintain the place and make sure our tenants’ needs are met. Why, just last month we oppressed our poor working-class tenants by buying a new range and dishwasher to replace the old appliances that were starting to go all wonky on them. But yeah, other than paying the mortgage on the place every month, paying the management company, and making sure anything that breaks is fixed promptly, we do pretty much nothing but collect rent checks and sit on our asses.
Anyway, that’s what you get when you run articles on economics written by professional Occupy Reality folks who have never had to make a payroll. Bet you that article is getting lots of clicks and views, though, which was probably the entire point. It sure as shit has nothing to do with progressivism or upsetting the current order, because Rolling Stone is about as hip and counter-culture as Citibank these days.