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Monday, June 30, 2014


A few weeks ago, Brittany Crippen said she tried to enlist in the Army, only to learn that a tattoo of a fish on the back of her neck disqualified her. Determined to join, the 19-year-old college student visited a second recruiting center in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and was rejected again.  -  Recruits' Ineligibility Tests the Military - Wall Street Journal

I don't really understand why people get tattoos, and ear gauges are totally alien. Of course, I don't understand why people wear jewelry either. I mean, I guess people have reasons for doing these things, I've just never had the slightest interest.

There was some discussion on an internet forum, and then I come across a post from LineDoggie that had a couple of interesting observations:

... when the 1940 Draft was started very large numbers of potential soldiers were turned away as physically unfit, in most cases having suffered from years of malnutrition during the depression.

 ... if Audie Murphy were an 18 year old today he could not enlist due to only a 4th grade education.

New Math

A friend of mine went to a seminar today where they were presented with the above math problem. I look at this problem and I suspect it's some kind of trick question, that I am missing something, but I can't find anything anything devious in it, so I give my friend my first answer and she tells me I am correct.
     At the seminar people had all kinds of answers: $200, $67.95, $132.05, $100. People had to explain how they arrived at those answers, and some people got a bit rude in asserting that their answer was correct.
     The correct answer is  $100.00  (highlight to read). All the men (at least the ones who were willing to say what their answer was) were correct. All the incorrect answers came from women. I imagine that some women also got the correct answer.
    What does this say about people in general? What kind of response did you have to this story? What does that say about you?

Insane Clown Posse V. the FBI

Insane Clown Posse - Miracles

Not my kind of music and a little too much fowl (heh, heh) language, but the message and the video are fine. Hard to imagine that these guys are inciting their fans to violence, but hey, they're insane, right? I mean it says so right in the name of their band, and you never know what crazy people are gonna do, do you? So the FBI is like totally justified in persecuting this band and their fans, right?

FBI: Insane Clown Posse Has No Standing to Sue Over Juggalo Gang Classification


Quote of the Day

"Heart-rending stories are not a sound basis for laws but you'd have to have a heart of stone to read that and feel nothing. " - Roberta X

World War Z


I watched part of World War Z this weekend. I gave up about half way through because it was it was getting dumb. Hyperactive zombies are able to sneak up and successfully attack heavily armed men standing on a wide open airfield? If we were talking about two different strains of zombies it might have made sense, but this is just another one of those stupid scenes were the villains sneaks up behind our hapless victim who can't see their stalker because they are not in view of the camera! Bah, double bah, and humbug to boot.
    There was one scene that struck me as especially effective and that was the zombies piling on top of each other to scale the wall surrounding Israel, or maybe it was just Jerusalem (a word I know well but never learned to spell). I saw that and it made me think of nothing so much as the rabid Muslim jihadists who are overrunning the Middle East. It also made me think of lemmings on their quadrennial rush to the sea
    Meanwhile, back in the real world, we've got the Sunnis and Shiites and Shais (two of these might be the same, but I really don't care which ones they are) stirring up shit. Iran is sending weapons to Baghdad and the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) is sending weapons to ISIS. (excerpt here).
    Didn't we just spend a trillion dollars to free the oppressed majority in Iraq? And didn't KSA aid and abet this venture? And now they are trying to undo it? Doesn't make much sense, unless they wanted the USA to
  1. topple Saddam, which would have been too much work for the Saudi's slave army,
  2. invest heavily in Iraq's oil producing infrastructure,
  3. put a feeble 'democratic' government in charge, and then
  4. leave.
Now Iraq looks like a real plum, and all Saudi Arabia has to do is reach out and pluck it. Of course Iran sees the same thing, and it's their brothers-in-faith who are nominally in charge in Iraq, or were last time I checked, which was a couple of days ago, so it's on, dude.

KSA ranks right down there with Kissinger, that is, near the bottom. Came across a video that purports to show that there might be a little turmoil brewing in the KSA. I only watched the first few minutes of it, it wasn't that entertaining. I have already formed my opinion of Saudi Arabia, I don't really need any more evidence.

Why is Saudi Arabia still counted as our 'friend'? For that matter, how did that slimeball Henry the K. get to be Secretary of State? Could it be that freedom has a price, but being the cheapskates we are, cheap gasoline is more important? Besides,  we don't really care about any of those people on the other side of the ocean.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Cool bus from Guatemala. Current American buses have all the pizzazz of a washing machine.

"But while looking that up, I found something else: El Metro Transit, the bus system in Laredo, serves 3.2 million passengers a year, in a metropolitan area of a quarter million, more than either Oklahoma City or Tulsa, who have four to five times the population. Each. The only reason I can think of, other than mere ethnicity, is that the Laredo system is privately owned." - Dustbury

That would be Laredo, Texas. I think I was there once. Then again, maybe not.

Streets of Laredo | Girlfriend

I don't know about the tune, I guess it's okay, but the video is moderately amusing, especially just before the two and a half minute mark.

Friday, June 27, 2014


Irba reports on Information Technology, or the lack of ability to change the way things are done at his workplace:
I got a request for some programming help, to automate a calculation for a report that management requires on a weekly basis.
Apparently, a manager has been opening a series of emails daily, each containing a pdf report that had 4 pertinent fields, these were re-typed into a spreadsheet.
At first I wondered if these were selected reports. No, they said, this was a complete batch of reports on set of files within a single directory tree.
I suggested that they go back to the source originating the reports and ask for a summary report. They said no we cannot do that.
I then asked if this was a confirmation audit report on what was actually processed, and if so, should they not be getting the numbers from a post-processing count of produced pieces. They said no we cannot do that.
So I wrote a program that counts up the files and contents, and puts it into a csv file, which they can open and copy into the spreadsheet,
I basically duplicated the counts from the original reports, using the original data and the same method of counting.
It is saving 1.5 hours a day.
A manager was spending an hour and a half copying data by hand every day? Where are your minions when you need them?

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)

By David Cain

Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months of traveling.
Because I had been living quite a different lifestyle while I was away, this sudden transition to 9-to-5 existence has exposed something about it that I overlooked before.
Since the moment I was offered the job, I’ve been markedly more careless with my money. Not stupid, just a little quick to pull out my wallet. As a small example, I’m buying expensive coffees again, even though they aren’t nearly as good as New Zealand’s exceptional flat whites, and I don’t get to savor the experience of drinking them on a sunny café patio. When I was away these purchases were less off-handed, and I enjoyed them more.
I’m not talking about big, extravagant purchases. I’m talking about small-scale, casual, promiscuous spending on stuff that doesn’t really add a whole lot to my life. And I won’t actually get paid for another two weeks.
In hindsight I think I’ve always done this when I’ve been well-employed — spending happily during the “flush times.” Having spent nine months living a no-income backpacking lifestyle, I can’t help but be a little more aware of this phenomenon as it happens.
I suppose I do it because I feel I’ve regained a certain stature, now that I am again an amply-paid professional, which seems to entitle me to a certain level of wastefulness. There is a curious feeling of power you get when you drop a couple of twenties without a trace of critical thinking. It feels good to exercise that power of the dollar when you know it will “grow back” pretty quickly anyway.
What I’m doing isn’t unusual at all. Everyone else seems to do this. In fact, I think I’ve only returned to the normal consumer mentality after having spent some time away from it.
One of the most surprising discoveries I made during my trip was that I spent much less per month traveling foreign counties (including countries more expensive than Canada) than I did as a regular working joe back home. I had much more free time, I was visiting some of the most beautiful places in the world, I was meeting new people left and right, I was calm and peaceful and otherwise having an unforgettable time, and somehow it cost me much less than my humble 9-5 lifestyle here in one of Canada’s least expensive cities.
It seems I got much more for my dollar when I was traveling. Why?

A Culture of Unnecessaries

Here in the West, a lifestyle of unnecessary spending has been deliberately cultivated and nurtured in the public by big business. Companies in all kinds of industries have a huge stake in the public’s penchant to be careless with their money. They will seek to encourage the public’s habit of casual or non-essential spending whenever they can.
In the documentary The Corporation, a marketing psychologist discussed one of the methods she used to increase sales. Her staff carried out a study on what effect the nagging of children had on their parents’ likelihood of buying a toy for them. They found out that 20% to 40% of the purchases of their toys would not have occurred if the child didn’t nag its parents. One in four visits to theme parks would not have taken place. They used these studies to market their products directly to children, encouraging them to nag their parents to buy.
This marketing campaign alone represents many millions of dollars that were spent because of demand that was completely manufactured.
“You can manipulate consumers into wanting, and therefore buying, your products. It’s a game.” ~ Lucy Hughes, co-creator of “The Nag Factor”
This is only one small example of something that has been going on for a very long time. Big companies didn’t make their millions by earnestly promoting the virtues of their products, they made it by creating a culture of hundreds of millions of people that buy way more than they need and try to chase away dissatisfaction with money.
We buy stuff to cheer ourselves up, to keep up with the Joneses, to fulfill our childhood vision of what our adulthood would be like, to broadcast our status to the world, and for a lot of other psychological reasons that have very little to do with how useful the product really is. How much stuff is in your basement or garage that you haven’t used in the past year?

The real reason for the forty-hour workweek

The ultimate tool for corporations to sustain a culture of this sort is to develop the 40-hour workweek as the normal lifestyle. Under these working conditions people have to build a life in the evenings and on weekends. This arrangement makes us naturally more inclined to spend heavily on entertainment and conveniences because our free time is so scarce.
I’ve only been back at work for a few days, but already I’m noticing that the more wholesome activities are quickly dropping out of my life: walking, exercising, reading, meditating, and extra writing.
The one conspicuous similarity between these activities is that they cost little or no money, but they take time.
Suddenly I have a lot more money and a lot less time, which means I have a lot more in common with the typical working North American than I did a few months ago. While I was abroad I wouldn’t have thought twice about spending the day wandering through a national park or reading my book on the beach for a few hours. Now that kind of stuff feels like it’s out of the question. Doing either one would take most of one of my precious weekend days!
The last thing I want to do when I get home from work is exercise. It’s also the last thing I want to do after dinner or before bed or as soon as I wake, and that’s really all the time I have on a weekday.
This seems like a problem with a simple answer: work less so I’d have more free time. I’ve already proven to myself that I can live a fulfilling lifestyle with less than I make right now. Unfortunately, this is close to impossible in my industry, and most others. You work 40-plus hours or you work zero. My clients and contractors are all firmly entrenched in the standard-workday culture, so it isn’t practical to ask them not to ask anything of me after 1pm, even if I could convince my employer not to.
The eight-hour workday developed during the industrial revolution in Britain in the 19th century, as a respite for factory workers who were being exploited with 14- or 16-hour workdays.
As technologies and methods advanced, workers in all industries became able to produce much more value in a shorter amount of time. You’d think this would lead to shorter workdays.
But the 8-hour workday is too profitable for big business, not because of the amount of work people get done in eight hours (the average office worker gets less than three hours of actual work done in 8 hours) but because it makes for such a purchase-happy public. Keeping free time scarce means people pay a lot more for convenience, gratification, and any other relief they can buy. It keeps them watching television, and its commercials. It keeps them unambitious outside of work.
We’ve been led into a culture that has been engineered to leave us tired, hungry for indulgence, willing to pay a lot for convenience and entertainment, and most importantly, vaguely dissatisfied with our lives so that we continue wanting things we don’t have. We buy so much because it always seems like something is still missing.
Western economies, particularly that of the United States, have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. We spend to cheer ourselves up, to reward ourselves, to celebrate, to fix problems, to elevate our status, and to alleviate boredom.
Can you imagine what would happen if all of America stopped buying so much unnecessary fluff that doesn’t add a lot of lasting value to our lives?
The economy would collapse and never recover.
All of America’s well-publicized problems, including obesity, depression, pollution and corruption are what it costs to create and sustain a trillion-dollar economy. For the economy to be “healthy”, America has to remain unhealthy. Healthy, happy people don’t feel like they need much they don’t already have, and that means they don’t buy a lot of junk, don’t need to be entertained as much, and they don’t end up watching a lot of commercials.
The culture of the eight-hour workday is big business’ most powerful tool for keeping people in this same dissatisfied state where the answer to every problem is to buy something.
You may have heard of Parkinson’s Law. It is often used in reference to time usage: the more time you’ve been given to do something, the more time it will take you to do it. It’s amazing how much you can get done in twenty minutes if twenty minutes is all you have. But if you have all afternoon, it would probably take way longer.
Most of us treat our money this way. The more we make, the more we spend. It’s not that we suddenly need to buy more just because we make more, only that we can, so we do. In fact, it’s quite difficult for us to avoid increasing our standard of living (or at least our rate of spending) every time we get a raise.
I don’t think it’s necessary to shun the whole ugly system and go live in the woods, pretending to be a deaf-mute, as Holden Caulfield often fantasized. But we could certainly do well to understand what big commerce really wants us to be. They’ve been working for decades to create millions of ideal consumers, and they have succeeded. Unless you’re a real anomaly, your lifestyle has already been designed.
The perfect customer is dissatisfied but hopeful, uninterested in serious personal development, highly habituated to the television, working full-time, earning a fair amount, indulging during their free time, and somehow just getting by.
Is this you?
Two weeks ago I would have said hell no, that’s not me, but if all my weeks were like this one has been, that might be wishful thinking.

Stolen entire from Films for Action, who stole it from Raptitude. Via diligent daughter. The only thing I would quibble about is that he makes it sound a bit like a conspiracy, and that the corporation's goal is to ruin your life. I think that it's not that they hate you, it's that they just don't care. (From the movie Firewall, where one of the kidnappers says 'I don't hate you, Sarah. I just don't care about you.') 

And then there's this bit: 
"Can you imagine what would happen if all of America stopped buying so much unnecessary fluff that doesn’t add a lot of lasting value to our lives?
The economy would collapse and never recover."
Could that be true? Is that what caused the great depression? I mean no one really knows how capitalism works, do they? Better get out there and buy something or we're all gonna die!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Lunch

    Byron just got back from a week's vacation in Hawaii with his family. Stayed on the big island. All the islands are tropical on the west side and desert on the east side. They drove up the mountain toward the big telescope installation on the peak. The road has a 17% grade and went up right through the cloud layer. They stopped at the 9,000 foot level because kids lungs cannot handle the thinner air at higher elevations. The 9,000 foot site is named after Ellison Onizuka, the Japanese-American scientist who died in the Challenger space shuttle disaster.
    Irba was late because he had been at a meeting and it ran long. The meeting was a hearing regarding his security clearance. Seems the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) wants to keep him but the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) wants to kick him out. This is happening because he applied for membership in the Arapaho Indian Nation and was accepted based on his fractional blood descendency. Seems that becoming a member of an Indian tribe raised a red flag in somebody's database.
    Byron was telling us about the book Flash Boys written by Michael Lewis who also wrote the book on which the movie Moneyball was based. Seems some Russians have taken to setting up computers near the trading floor in order to take advantage of millisecond long advance notice of impending trades, and use this advance knowledge to place their own orders and so make out like bandits. Not sure whether the Russians were first or not, but now everyone is doing it. Somebody has installed his own fiber optic cable from Chicago to New York in order to get information passed from one place to the other more quickly than by commercial service. If the business of routing the cable along a straight line is to be believed, then he is saving nano-seconds. Sounds nuts to me.
    Older son corroborates this story and adds that there is a guy working in a clearing house (New Jersey, maybe?) whose sole job is to make sure that all the fiberoptic links from all the computers on the premises are the same length so that no one has any speed advantage.

Quote of the Day

Your most common method of communication is a vow of silence. - Older son speaking of me and me brothers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

London Mail Rail

Some urban explorers managed to get access to London's underground railroad system used for transporting mail. They took a bunch of really cool photos and posted them on the web. This one struck me because it gives you some idea of just how far underground this miniature railroad is. From Sharon.

Earl had to die - Dixie Chicks

Via Snigs, You might wanna read her story. It's a hoot.

ACLU Steps Up

I ran into a pollster outside of Powell's Bookstore last fall. He was canvasing for the ACLU. Boy, oh, boy, I've been wanting to talk to someone from the ACLU for a long time. Seems to me that they have been shirking their duty, pursuing namby-pamby issues like voter rights that appeal to the coffee-klatch hostesses in the Bos-Wash suburbs. What they should have been doing is tackling things like the Patriot Act and the incarceration of the mentally ill.
    When I asked the pollster about this, his response was that the ACLU deals with Civil Rights, which confused me. Does that mean they don't deal with criminal issues? Aren't most criminal cases predicated on civil rights?
    Anyway, seems I was wrong. Headline in today's Oregonian:

Seems the ACLU has been working this case for the last four years. Case was heard in Federal Court in Portland, Oregon, a famously blue state.

P.S. If Democrats are liberals, and liberals are socialists, and socialists are blood-brothers of communists, how did the Democrats become associated with the color blue? I mean communists have been called Reds for forever, but in the modern USA, it is the Republicans, the staunch opponents of anything that even smells of cooperation, who are the Reds. Why is that?

Girls with Guns

PACIFIC OCEAN Seaman Emiline L. M. Senn fires an M-240B machine gun on the fantail of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, en route to Hawaii for the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Optical Video Transmission From OPAL

Via Dialogos of Eide.
Update: Took me a couple of days to realize that they are using light to transmit light. Video camera captures light from the world and turns it into electronic signals which are used to modulate the laser beam, which is nothing more than concentrated light. Seems like a hard way to get things done. 
    On the other hand, this is the "tight beam" communications that is often used in science fiction stories. You need to be in the path of the laser beam in order to intercept the message, and if you do that, whoever the message is directed to will not get anything, and if they are paying attention, they will realize something is wrong. Like somebody is stealing their mail.

Carrying a Gun

I don't carry a gun. I don't know anyone (at least in real life) who does either, or at least no one has confessed to such. I don't carry one because I don't feel the need. Maybe it's because I live in white bread suburbia, or maybe it's because I live in the Wild West, and people are just more civilized out here because they know everyone has guns.
    I like guns. Many of my friends have guns. We go shooting occasionally.
    Just read a post on the Firearms Blog about carrying a gun and training. I am not sure his advice to get all the training you can is realistic or practical. There's nothing wrong with getting lots of practice or training, if you have the time and money. Some people thrive on it, and that's fine.
    I'm thinking though, that for most people, the odds of encountering a life or death situation situation are pretty slim. In that case investing a great deal of time and money in training and practice begins to look like a pretty poor investment.
    In any kind of high stress situation, staying calm and being able to keep thinking are the most important things you can do. Freaking out or freezing up are generally unhelpful. If you are carrying a gun and you are faced with a life threatening situation, staying calm and remembering the basic rules of operating your gun (Align the sights on your chosen target. Squeeze the trigger.) is your best bet.
    Problem is that it's a little hard to predict how anyone will act in a dangerous situation. And it might not be just the person and the situation, don't forget your frame of mind. Catch James Bond on a bad day and he might very well freak out. Push Goldie Hawn into a corner and she might just be cool as a cucumber and not have a bit of trouble popping a cap in your ass.
    Mental discipline is your friend. Training can help, but it is no guarantee of future success.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Art for the Ages

My niece and world famous abstract expressionist Elsa unveils her latest creation.

Pic of the Day-

Marc goes to Hong Kong and all I get is this steenking picture.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Oyez, Oyez, Oyez

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on board submarine No. 748 of Korean People's Army. Has nothing to do with this post except for portraying irrational people.

Tam put up a post about a nit-picky legalism that made it to the Supreme Court. As I followed along I quickly came to the conclusion that the whole thing was a box of wet feathers on account of the violation seems to depend on intent and nowhere in all the verbiage about this case did I find any discussion of what Bruce Abramski's actual intent was. Intent is a state of mind, and who knows what is in somebody else's mind? Shoot, half the time I don't even know what's in my mind.
    Now you can find 'evidence' of intent. You might find that someone has written a detailed plan about what they intend to do, and you might find that they had collected all of the material / equipment they would need to carry out this plan, and you could call that "evidence of intent", but you still don't know what the guy was thinking. He may have been planning to go on a camp-out, or fishing, or rob a bank, or it might just have been a fantasy that he was dreaming about.
    Bruce might have been able to avoid the whole court thing by saying that he didn't decide to sell the gun to his uncle until after he got home. Then again the prosecutor was gunning for him, so maybe that wouldn't have worked. I mean, what happened to the bit about the search warrant being invalid?

P.S. Internet search results on this court case are almost universally in favor of the majority ruling and more gun control. I thought the gun rights movement was making some progress, but maybe what I'm seeing is the results of the 'sell-more-newspapers' syndrome. Never mind if you sound like an idiot, you might get someone mad enough to yell at you, and that's what's important.

Keeping the green in the greenhouse

A TTAC commenter, only slightly more caustic than average, on an inconvenient future:
The controversy will die instead, and people with a certain world view and agenda will invent another crisis, and deny they ever believed in catastrophic man-made global warming. Nothing effective is being done about carbon emissions, and, realistically, nothing can be done.
People do not want to be poor, so hydrocarbons are burned as fast as they can be pulled out of the ground. The more you burn, the wealthier you are. Al Gore burns a sh*t-ton. This will continue until hydrocarbons become scarce, which is not happening any time soon. Fracking is spreading across the world, and after fracking may come something else to get at even more hydrocarbons.
The apocalypse illusion is costly, because of the economic cost of farcical pinprick “carbon reduction” schemes, but ultimately moot. People will always burn as much hydrocarbon as they can get their hands on because they do not want to be cold and hungry. For the vast majority of applications, nothing else makes economic sense. The proof is in the numbers. Even the US partial conversion from coal to natural gas is meaningless. We just export the coal somewhere else, and they burn it. Debate all you want, climate religionists, you are p*ssing into the wind.
We will, of course, run out eventually. For the last hundred years or so, we’ve had maybe 10-15 years of the stuff left; I won’t be around for all of the next hundred, but I suspect the situation will be similarly dire. The supply of farcical pricks, however, will never, ever come close to being exhausted.

Stolen entire from Dustbury. Except for the picture. I added the picture. Yes, that really is a real alien spaceship fueling up from an oil rig in the Northsea. Told you there were aliens.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pressure Wave

What we have here are (three) two-second clips from a Lockheed-Martin video of a ground attack rocket test. These clips show the missile just before it impacts the target, in this case a tank. Blutarsky noticed a small white flash just ahead of the missile near it's projected point of impact. nougabol tells us that it is the "Pressure wave from the missile hitting the tank." Since the pressure wave hits the target before the missile, you have advance notice that the missile is coming. Since the missile is supersonic, that time is very short.

Lockheed-Martin put out a press release about this test that is a veritable masterpiece of crap. I read the whole thing twice and I still have no idea what the hell they are talking about.

The Art of Shopping

Gift card at Lowes. It looks perfectly logical. Having a closed loop at the end of box end wrenches makes them easy to hang up or to hook onto open end wrenches. But hooking two together like this woud be extremely difficult and really pointless. Caught my eye though.

I like chocolate covered cherries, and I've run into liquor filled chocolates before, but I don't think I've ever seen chocolates filled with whiskey. Costco.

Quantum Household Mechanics, Part 2

Subatomic particles.

The stopper in the bathroom sink broke (right). Specifically the plastic rod that supports it broke (bottom center). As with all home repairs it's go to the store now or go later. You know it will have to happen before you get this thing fixed. To appease the god of quantum household mechanics we went to the store right off the bat and purchased a replacement (left).The replacement was just slightly too large to fit in the drain. If I wanted to grind down all three of the edges, it probably would have worked, but how are you going to hold this triangular jobbie? And how are you going to grind down the edges? It's plastic, it shouldn't be that difficult, but plastics have gotten a lot tougher lately. A sander or a grinder would be the tool to use, and that means rooting around for the tool and the abrasive and setting it all up for a job that is going to take a minute at most. Hardly seems like a fair exchange. Fifteen minutes of fuss for one minute of actual work? Bah and humbug.
    I found a piece of threaded rod with a hook on one end (top center) that looked like it could be made to work. All I had to do was:
  • squeeze the loop in the vise until it was small enough,
  • cut threaded portion to the correct length with a hacksaw,
  • file the burrs off the cut end,
  • retap the stopper because the two rods use different threads,
  • bend the loop over so it was more or less on center with the shaft.
I threaded the four nuts (top left) onto the metal rod and clamped them into the vise to hold the rod while I hit the loop with a small sledge hammer to center it. The nuts prevented the vise from damaging the threads, which would have made screwing it into the stopper difficult. Having a largish vise on a solid workbench made this job relatively easy. Having the tools handy also helped. Shoot, just locating the tools is the bigger part of most household repairs.

The Steve Trautman Co. 3-step Knowledge Transfer Solution with Knowledge Silo Matrix Demo

The title make it sound like this video is going to be really boring, and the speaker's awkwardness doesn't alleviate that concern, but I watched the whole thing anyway, and I enjoyed it. Could it be that content triumphs over style? Or perhaps now that I am retired I now have time to consider such esoteric issues as people and what they think. Via Iowa Andy, who isn't in Iowa anymore.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Good Morning

Broke 1,000 on the Jumble this morning. Got more than 1x scores on all words. Don't know as I've ever done that before. I was surprised because I was a little fuzzy headed at 7AM when I was working on this.

Darling daughter is fixing breakfast these days, something about how I should be eating 'healthier' or some such nonsense. (I mean what's wrong with jelly donuts? I like jelly donuts.)  What all have we got here? Eggs I understand. Rice is okay. Turkey bacon is at least a form of meat, although how it can be 'all natural' and 'taste like bacon' is beyond me. Er, maybe it doesn't taste all that much like bacon. But then we have salad with radishes and avocado. Salad? For breakfast? Right. Healthier. Fine.
    The salad is left over from last night and after I had served myself older son tells me that all the radishes are on the bottom, which I thought was a really good place for them. I've run into a couple of radishes that were like red hot, which makes them all suspect and something to be avoided. These were very mild, almost as flavorless as water chestnuts, which is kind of how I feel about the whole salad thing. The stuff that goes into salads either tastes bad, or has virtually no taste at all, so why are my kids so ga-ga over salads? I don't get it. Maybe that's why I weigh 250 pounds.


Loretta Lynn (née Webb; born on April 14, 1932) is an American country-music singer-songwriter and author. Born in Butcher Hollow, near Paintsville, Kentucky, USA, to a coal-miner father.

Came across Coal Miner's Daughter yesterday afternoon while I was flipping channels. I'm not a big fan of country music, but I did have some idea that Loretta Lynn was kind of a big deal. I didn't realize just how big a deal she was. Which leads me to Nashville Cats by The Lovin' Spoonful, where in John Sebastian sings "there's thirteen hundred and fifty-two guitar cases in Nashville and any one that unpacks his guitar could play twice as better than I will". Which reminds me of Robert A. Heinlein's line about how 'a man should be able to program a computer, write a sonnet and conduct a war. Specialization is for insects'. Which reminds me of a line in True Detective uttered by Matthew McConaughey (Rust) about how "Life's barely long enough to get good at one thing." Which leads to my recalling someone once telling me that 'to be a good soccer player a person needs to touch the ball ten thousand times'.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Russian Missile Launch

Launching of Topol-M from Kapustin Yar in Astrakhan region.

Foreign Policy, Part 2

At the US State Department's website I came across the Foreign Service Officers Test. Cool, maybe my kids can use this to gain access to the gateways of power and so assist me in my quest for Total Global Domination [tm]. As if. I took part of the practice test (until I got interrupted by the dinner bell). It's kind of cool. It asks some fairly obvious stuff, along with some not so obvious stuff. Along the way I encountered this question, which I thought was interesting, since I seldom hear it phrased this way.

Mideast upheavals overrule the map

F-16 Fighting Falcons from the U.S. and Royal Jordanian air forces, as well as an F-18 Hornet from the U.S. Marine Corps, fly over the Wadi Rum desert, Jordan May 13, 2014, during Exercise Eager Tiger. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Roidan Carlson/Released). Note the irrigated fields.

Good overview of the Mideast mess, along with some historical perspective, from yesterday's paper. By Lee Keath and Ryan Lucas, Associated Press.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Foreign Policy

Ukraine, Snizhne: The Russian T-64 tanks entered the city | June 12, 2014.

Iraq seems to be flaring up again, and it's beginning to look like there might be war in the Ukraine, which got me to wondering just what the foreign policy of the United States of America is. I found this on the Department of State's website:
Department Mission Statement
Shape and sustain a peaceful, prosperous, just, and democratic world and foster conditions for stability and progress for the benefit of the American people and people everywhere.
          --From the FY 2013 Agency Financial Report,
         released December 2013
That's very nice, but it's awfully vague. It's not giving me any indication of how we might react to any actual situation. So I pull up the next item on the menu. It's the  
The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR): Leading Through Civilian Power

The QDDR provides a blueprint for elevating American "civilian power" to better advance our national interests and to be a better partner to the U.S. military. Leading through civilian power means directing and coordinating the resources of all America's civilian agencies to prevent and resolve conflicts; help countries lift themselves out of poverty into prosperous, stable, and democratic states; and build global coalitions to address global problems.
I don't quite know how I feel about this. The goals in the second sentence sound fine, but once again it is extremely vague. The part about being a "better partner to the U.S. military" is just flat out confusing.
    After that it's all about organization and issues. Did not find any kind of overview that might explain just what in the hell we are trying to accomplish, but maybe that is too much to ask for.

Video via Posthip Scott. That tank is awfully noisy, and if it's really a T-64 like the caption says, it's really old. Russia's current tank is the T-90.

Update September 2017 replaced missing video.

Happy Farter's Day

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Supercharged Corvette

C7 Z06 COTA 2:17s PDR Laps
Adam Tobolowsky

I am a little bit impressed that big stodgy old GM produced this (or will. It might not be until next year.).  I hate to admit it but it was a spam comment that turned me on to this, and this:

600 horsepower!?! That's insane! I wonder how long the transmissions will last. They must be making them out of titanium.
    You will notice that there are two serpentine belts on this engine. One goes around the front of the crankshaft pulley, over to the left side of the engine (right side of the picture) , around two idler pulleys, back to the center, around two more idler pulleys and then up to a single small pulley by the throttle body (the brass colored round opening in the center) that drives the supercharger. Note the difference in size of the crankshaft pulley and the supercharger pulley. The engine redlines at 6,500 RPM. The supercharger turns at 20,000 RPM, much faster than any I have encountered before.
    The other serpentine belt goes off to the right side of the engine (left side of the picture) and drives all your conventional accessories (from top to bottom: alternator, power steering pump (I presume) and the A/C compressor).

P.S. The only reason I can think of that would explain why they used four idler pulleys on the drive belt for the supercharger instead of just one is that they must of had some kind of resonant vibration problem. The other belt that drives the accessories is traveling just as fast, being as it is driven by the same diameter pulley on the crank, and it spans longer gaps between pulleys, so maybe that isn't the problem. I'm baffled.
    Then there's the question of why they didn't use just one belt instead of two, but that could be explained by (1) the power requirements of the supercharger (it needs one belt all to itself), or (2) most engines are built without a supercharger, and this makes it a bolt-on installation instead of a built-in one. Never mind that the internals of the supercharged engine are almost certainly different than the standard engine.

Update October 2016 replaced missing video (Chevrolet Corvette PDR (Performance Data Recorder) playback.) with something similar.
Update February 2021 replaced missing video with something similar.

Glue Versus Glue

My wife has a pair of earrings that she likes a great deal. Unfortunately one of them came apart. I was able to repair it with a dab of silicon glue, which was all I had on hand at the time. Eventually the silicon failed and the earring fell apart. Since silicon had worked pretty well the last time, I went ahead and applied the same fix, and once again it lasted for a while.
    Last week it came apart again and I decided I needed something other than silicon glue. I have some epoxy, but this is a very small part and there was a good chance I would get some epoxy on the outside, the visible side, of the earring and then I would have to clean it off, which would be a real pain.
     So I decided to use Superglue, which entailed a trip to the store, but that's okay. We're going to fix it good this time. I sit down and scrape all the old silicon off with my thumbnail, apply a drop of Superglue and press down for a bit. It doesn't hold. It doesn't even pretend to hold. There's nothing wrong with the glue, it sticks to my fingers just fine. 
    Maybe it's grease from my fingers interfering with the glue. I get a bottle of rubbing alcohol and clean both surfaces with a Q-tip. Try gluing again. Still no stick. This is getting stinky. I consider taking my problem to the local Hobby Shop and asking for their assistance and./or advice, but then I remember I have a bottle of something called quik-set (or something similar) and I decide to try using it as a cleaning fluid. I give both pieces a little squirt, wipe them off with a Q-tip and give the Superglue another try. This time it works. Geez.

After going through all this rigamarole, I'm thinking a couple of scanning electron micrographs might go a long way towards explaining why I had such a hard time getting these parts to stick together, so I go looking for pictures. Lots of micrographs, but I couldn't find any of glue. The picture above isn't glue, but it is a micrograph of some sort of silicon. And it's colorized, which is kind of cool.

The Revolting Truth

    I would like to believe in Global Warming. Is it really possible that puny little man can change the climate of an entire planet? Our planet Earth is a really big place, it's like a zillion, zillion times bigger than the people who live here. It would be like a virus killing an elephant. Maybe that's not a good analogy.
    Like I said, I would like to believe in Global Warming, but I have yet to see a clear explanation. Everything I have encountered is hysterical, as in people screaming in panic, not laughing uproariously.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, a new company has come out with a new kind of light bulb, or at least they are promising to do so. It is supposed to produce light of similar quality to that produced by our beloved incandescent light bulbs, but it uses only half the electricity. It employs 'induction' technology, similar to what is used in street lights, so it's not really new, it's just that they have managed to shrink the mechanism to the point that it will fit in an ordinary sized light bulb. That would be very cool if they can make it work AND mass produce it.

I've been thinking the incandescent bulb ban was a bad idea because none of the new low power bulbs that were being promoted worked as well, and they cost a lot more. But it seems unlikely that anyone would have bothered to develop this consumer version of the 'induction' light bulb if the law banning incandescent light bulbs had not been passed. Could it be that the Federal Government actually did something right?

Qingdao Train Station

I'm reading An American Spy by Olen Steinhauer, a follow on to his previous novel The Nearest Exit. The first three pages of the prologue introduce, or re-introduce, 16 characters. Now some people might be able to absorb those names and have them at ready recall right away, but I am not one of them, so I write them down. I move on to Part I and now we're following Xin Zhu on an excursion from his home base in Beijing to a variety of cities and towns in northeast Red China. I don't know any of these places, so I decide to look them up on Google Maps. I start with Qingdao, possibly because I recognize the name, but more likely because I want to see if Google has a street view that will show the McDonald's and the Kentucky Fried Chicken stores that the novel says are near the Qingdao train station.
    I still haven't completely adjusted to the new Google Maps. They replaced the big bar along the left hand edge with a discrete little search box in the upper left corner, but now everytime you search for anything it blows up and shows you a big list of crap that I don't want. For some reason I find it very annoying. It takes up less space than the old sidebar, but it is infringing on the map, which is what I want to see. But that's kind of beside the point.
    I've located the train station on the map view, and now I switch to the satellite view and the entire map jumps two or three inches to the right. It's isn't obvious right off, we're looking at the downtown area of a big city which is full of roads and buildings, but go back and forth a couple of times and it becomes obvious.
    This strikes me as kind of a big screw up, so I post a note on the help forum and today I got a response from treebles:
This is a known issue that has been going on for years, Google never gave an explanation why they do not fix it.
You should use Ditu, the Chinese version that does not have this misalignment, or check one of the competitors, Bing Maps, Mapquest, to see if they have better satellite image alignments.
A Chinese version of Google Maps? Cool! But no. Following the link just takes me to the regular Google Maps. Now I'm wondering if Google has deliberately misaligned their China maps to suit their Chinese Overlords.

P.S. What is with the spelling of Chinese names? I would pronounce 'Xin Zhu' 'Zin Zoo' if I needed to say it. Maybe that doesn't look 'Chinese' enough. Likewise I would pronounce 'Qingdao' 'Kingdow', where dow is pronounced like it is in Dow Jones Industrial Average, not 'doe' like it is in 'window'.

Day Off

Mike didn't send me a picture of his mower, so I went looking for one. Found lot's of pictures of Toro mowers, but they are ubiquitous, something this orange '49 Jacobsen two stroke reel mower is not.

Michigan Mike reports:
55 today. Life lessons continue. Major lessons are of little consequence, decisions made long ago determined those outcomes, more or less a payload at this point, like a turtle in a rocketship.

I have the leisure to examine a technical memory and maybe understand better what memory actually is.

The simple case is this: I pull started my old lawnmower, then the wheel fell off, fixed the wheel (the stud snapped off, it was an age thing more than neglect), then the lawnmower would not start. Always reliable machine, odd. 2-stroke Toro. Found it in an alley 20 years ago gummed up as all consumer 2-strokes are from too much oil in the mix.

With the additional wisdom available in the new age, I immediately went by habit to my browser and searched "no spark", forgoing my own knowledge to prefer an easy answer, but it was not forthcoming. Mopingly disassembled the top covers and removed the coil to replace it, to match pictures and number on the net. Decided to check continuity, and finding instruction that warned severely against trusting an "auto-ranging" an ohm meter over an induction coil, I doubted the validity of my test but discovered an intemittant break by twisting the spark plug cap.

I pulled the cap off the wire and only then recognized the fix I had put in 15+ years ago. I felt quite stupid that it had not occurred to me. It could have been fixed without any disassembly.

So much I do now requires sitting down, thinking, drawing, napping, waking, drinking tea, drawing again, puttting it aside for a couple of days, and if I'm lucky enough to remember what it was needing to be done, re-examining it and still counting on doing it wrong.

As I work up to reassembly of the mower, I found this article, and the most salient quote from it:
"Results from the experiment. Some teachers refused to continue with the shocks early on, despite urging from the experimenter. This is the type of response Milgram expected as the norm. But Milgram was shocked to find those who questioned authority were in the minority. Sixty-five percent (65%) of the teachers were willing to progress to the maximum voltage level."
Shockers shockingly shocked. Heh,


A slate statue of Alan Turing at Bletchley Park museum.Bletchley Park Trust 
Popular Science has a good story about the recent Turing test "victory". It also talks about the "uncanny valley", another point on the man-machine interface.

The statue shown above is kind of cute, using slate instead of cardboard, it reminds me of 3-D sculpture puzzles. It's a crude example of a digital representation of something from the analog world. It's crude enough that you know it's only a representation, not the real thing. That is not always the case with today's digital technology. CNC milling machines can now create round objects that are indistinguishable from lathe turned objects, at least to the touch.

Via Stu and his far-flung correspondents.

Internet Traffic

At peak viewing hours, Netflix accounts for about one-third of the Internet traffic in the U.S., according to the research firm Sandvine. - From a story in The Augusta Chronicle
Another third is spam and the third third is porn, which leaves no room for anything useful.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Hysterical Reenactment

Rumor has it things are heating up in Iraq. Tam put up a post which refers to an older post, which has a bunch of good comments about these kind of dust-ups.

1961 Goldsboro B-52 crash

CNN reports:
Declassified report: Two nuclear bombs nearly detonated in North Carolina
(CNN) -- On a January night in 1961, a U.S. Air Force bomber broke in half while flying over eastern North Carolina. From the belly of the B-52 fell two bombs -- two nuclear bombs that hit the ground near the city of Goldsboro.

The rest of the report goes on (and on) about what might have happened if the bombs had detonated. Well, yes, that would have been bad, but they didn't.
    What got me though was the first sentence: "... a U.S. Air Force bomber broke in half while flying over eastern North Carolina." How did that happen? As far as I know Air Force bombers are not in the habit of simply breaking in half in mid-air for no reason. A little point and click and I arrive at Wikipedia's article about the incident where I found this:
The aircraft, a B-52G based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, was on a 24-hour Operation Coverall airborne alert mission on the Atlantic seaboard of the United States. The operation was part of a larger Cold War program called the first Single Integrated Operational Plan (SIOP). This early plan called for one third of the Strategic Air Command's fleet of nuclear bombers to be airborne at any point in time, so that in the event of war, the fleet would not be caught on the ground, and be able to fly directly to targets in the Soviet Union,[4] China and Soviet-aligned states.
I'm not sure what to make of this. Is this showing a correct level of concern with the security of the United States? Or is this paranoid cold-warrior thinking run amuck?

The Wikipedia article does go on to explain the breakup and the fate of the bombs, and as you might expect, it is more illuminating than the story from CNN.

P.S. I think the name of the operation is Coverall, not Coveral with a funny little character tacked on the end.