Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Les Stone / Corbis
Some people believe global warming is real and is caused by burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil. So what's to be done? Stop burning coal and oil? You might want to have another think about that. From an IHS newsletter about the world's use of coal: 
Ironically, in what is known as the “pollution paradox,” growing an economy to the level where it can afford to deal with such things as coal-derived pollution typically requires that that economy grow via coal-fired generation. 
Note about the photo: I was looking for a picture that would show the air pollution caused by burning coal, which is a serious problem in China, but what do you see? Gray, like fog, obscuring things. Well, is it fog or smog? Hard to tell, and not very dramatic. Ask Google for pictures of coal burning pollution and you get lots of pictures of big smoke stacks pumping out huge white clouds. But those are not pollution, they are steam and carbon dioxide, which is what you get when you burn hydrocarbons. This picture is kind of cool because it looks like evil clouds of black smoke billowing from the smoke stack. I suspect it is just a trick of the light and the clouds are actually white. It's just that is was shot at sunset and so most of the cloud is in shadow and appears black, while upper portions are hit by the red light from the setting sun.

Hair of the Dog by Barbara A. Oakley

An American catcher boat approaches a Soviet processing vessel (1979).
I picked this book up on a whim. Something prompted me to order a copy of Evil Genes and buying one book wasn't enough, so I bought two. It's a heck of a story. Barb got a job as a translator on a Soviet fish processing ship 30 odd years ago when a couple of guys ginned up a Soviet-American joint venture to harvest fish from American territorial waters, which had just been expanded from the old 3 mile limit to 200 miles.
    Curiously, the only mention I found of this joint venture in Wikipedia is in an article about Polar Star, a murder mystery by Martin Cruz Smith. Martin is one of my favorite writers. He wrote Three Stations and Stalin's Ghost, which I have read, and Gorky Park, which I have heard of (it's famous), but never read.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Monica at Mozilla: Tracking Protection for Firefox at Web 2.0 Securit...

Search for 'Tracking' turned up this video on Vimeo, which is much more interesting than a bunch of power point slides, which is all I got for 'Tracking Protection'.

From the Monica-At-Mozilla blog, via Detroit Steve:
My paper with Georgios Kontaxis got best paper award at the Web 2.0 Security and Privacy workshop today! Georgios re-ran the performance evaluations on top news sites and the decrease in page load time with tracking protection enabled is even higher (44%!) than in our Air Mozilla talk last August, due to prevalence of embedded third party content on news sites. You can read the paper here.
This paper is the last artifact of my work at Mozilla, since I left employment there at the beginning of April. I believe that Mozilla can make progress in privacy, but leadership needs to recognize that current advertising practices that enable "free" content are in direct conflict with security, privacy, stability, and performance concerns -- and that Firefox is first and foremost a user-agent, not an industry-agent.
Advertising does not make content free. It merely externalizes the costs in a way that incentivizes malicious or incompetent players to build things like Superfish, infect 1 in 20 machines with ad injection malware, and create sites that require unsafe plugins and take twice as many resources to load, quite expensive in terms of bandwidth, power, and stability.
It will take a major force to disrupt this ecosystem and motivate alternative revenue models. I hope that Mozilla can be that force.
I use the Chrome browser on a Chromebook and a Linux Mint system. I have managed to dispense with Windows entirely. Okay, I still have a Windows machine, but I haven't turned it on for a month.

The Chrome browser runs a noticeably slower on the Linux system. I use it because I think Google carries some stuff around with their browser, stuff that means things work pretty much the same on either the Chromebook or the Linux box. I'm not even sure what it is, I just know that I tried Firefox a couple of times and something didn't work as expected, so fine, I can wait the extra two seconds for Chrome to load.

There is one class of websites that is absolutely horrible in terms of load time, sometimes they never finish. It's just one autostart video after another pageload of crap. I kill them, I don't care what their content is. Usually the content is pretty worthless, celebrity gossip and that kind of thing, so no big loss.

I still don't have a good way of dealing with pictures. I was using Picasa, which was pretty good, but Google changed the way it works when they started Google+. I tried Google+ once a few years ago, didn't like the way Picasa worked, so I switched back and Blogger lost a few hundred of my images, images that I had gone to a lot of trouble to steal all fair and square off of the internet.

I recently decided to go all in with Google, I was just going to have to find a different way of dealing with pictures. But then Military Photos dot net died, and I lost my biggest source of pictures and my biggest time sucker. It was fun while it lasted.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hand Dancing

Глухой танцор Андрей Драгунов
(A deaf dancer Andrei Dragunov)
Via Southwest Jacob

Credit Cards

V for Vendetta
Marcel has a post up about credit card hacking. My kids use all cards all the time. I try to use cash for incidentals, I don't want to see a long list of transactions at the end of the month that I am supposed to reconcile.
     The worst part is that the credit card companies are like the mafia. They offer you 'protection', but then they charge you for it, sometimes as much as 5%. Now I can see how using credit card transactions can benefit a business. You don't have to spend any time actually handling cash, counting it, transporting it, or losing it. You may not be dealing with a large sum of money, maybe only a couple of hundred dollars, but still, having to take the day's receipts to the bank and picking up change for the next day's business takes time. Plus you don't have to worry about losing your money, like you do with cash.
    So I can see how a business would like to use credit cards. But what the credit card companies are charging is extortion. Credit card companies are all trying to recruit customers with their promises of cash back, but who do you think is paying for those kick-backs? You are. And I'll bet the credit card companies are using every trick in the book to maximize their return and minimize those kick-backs. It might not be something any one person would notice, but one-tenth of one percent of a billion dollars is still a million bucks.
    I'll bet there is well documented phenomena that a certain percentage of those kick-back checks are never cashed, and I'll bet that goes into the executive bonus slush fund as well.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Russian Locos in Portland

Russian gauge track at Oregon Rail Heritage Center
Now I remember how I got started on my last post: Jack and I stopped at the Oregon train museum Monday on account of we were in the neighborhood. They were closed but we hung on the fence and drooled over the thoughts of massive iron machines. Then we noticed a slab of concrete that was sitting next to the path. It looked like an old section of roadway, but why does it have 3 rails embedded in it?

American built locomotives loaded on Russian ships for Vladivostok in Portland harbor Nov. 6, 1944. Larry Barber.
Willamette Iron and Steel Works:
During WWII Willamette assembled over 800 Russian gauge Baldwin steam locomotives and shipped them to Vladivostok. NW Front Ave. in Portland had a short distance of Russian gauge track for the engines to move from the engine house on the west side of Front to the loading dock on the east side of street. These were shipped across the Pacific on USSR flagged ships, since the USSR and the Empire of Japan were not at war. A Porter 0-6-0 was bought from the US Government in Panama to switch the broad gauge track.

UT 1580 Russian Freighter "Felix Dzerzhinsky" 47-46 N 129-53 W 288 7. 1 June 44. 
1851 B.M.T. OR 14321420 . 150 PT. "U.S.C.H". Carrying locomotives.

Casey Jones Goes to War

Veresk Bridge

Mazandaran Savadkooh: View from the Veresk Bridge.
I don't remember what exactly got me started on this, possibly one of Comrade Misfit's posts about steam locomotives. Anyway, I got started rummaging around and discovered this little bit on Schenectady History dot org. Alco is the compact version of "American Locomotive Company".
Alco was also on time in the kind of war story most satisfying to railroad men. The story was told in "Casey Jones Goes to War," by Amy Porter, in Collier's magazine, May 20, 1944:
The Trans-Iranian railroad gave America's soldier railroaders one of the hottest, coldest, toughest jobs they ever had to do. In the critical days of late 1942, Russia called for more supplies. Nazi submarines were crippling the Murmansk convoy route. The Mediterranean was closed to Allied shipping, and although generous supplies were being brought around the tip of Africa and landed at Persian Gulf ports, only a feeble trickle got through to Russia. The inadequately powered Trans-Iranian Railway was the bottleneck.This 650-mile road bisects a 150-mile stretch of desert before it struggles to heights of more than 7,000 feet in the Elburz Mountains. Temperatures range from 170 degrees Fahrenheit in the desert to 40 below in the mountains... There are 225 tunnels, thousands of bridges.
British steam locomotives and even America's 2-8-0's were not powerful enough to negotiate this tortuous road and haul much freight. It took most of their power to carry the coal and water on which they ran. Something had to be done.
At this point American Locomotive Company representatives were called to Washington... Could P. T. Egbert of Alco, Washington wanted to know, get some diesel-electrics over to Iran quick? Mr. Egbert could. And could Alco, by the way, convert the diesel axle arrangement somehow so the Iran road could bear their 120-ton weight? They could.
In the first week of December, twenty-nine diesels with six axles instead of the standard four were delivered at the Persian Gulf-along with a newly recruited American Locomotive shop battalion, eight hundred strong, to play nursemaid to the thousand-horsepower giants. The M.R.S. (Military Railway Service) took over operation of the road, and shipments increased until in May, 1943, Russian requirements in munitions and supplies were exceeded by 18 per cent...
Now a great fleet of diesels and a grand division of M.R.S. troops have the Iran situation well in hand.
Wikipedia has a story article about the Trans-Iranian Railway.
Odd old film, in French, no subtitles: Reza Shah of Iran inaugurates the Trans Iranian Railroad

Costain built 11 miles of the Trans-Iranian Railway, seven tunnels and two viaducts in isolated mountainous terrain - for £1 million.

The Veresk Bridge is right in the center of this map. You will notice how the rail line doubles back, loops around and even crosses itself here. This explains how we can see the viaduct in the second picture from the bridge in the first picture.
    The map is about 9 miles top to bottom. Iran has a green fringe along the shore of the Caspian Sea. This area is right at the southern edge of this green fringe which makes it about 50 miles from the coast.
    I made this map by tracing the railway line in the map version and then changing the base map to the satellite view. The little white blobs are tunnel entrances. There are more tunnels but Google Maps ran out of ink, or memory, or something.

Insurance Snoop

MoneySuperMarket Advert Featuring Snoop Dogg

Got a letter from State Farm Insurance yesterday offering me a discount. All I have to do is give up any thought of ever having any privacy. Like I have any privacy in my current digital lifestyle. They call it in-drive, it plugs into the diagnostic port on your car, the same port that DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) uses to see if your car is still spewing the recommended daily allowance of carcinogens. I think I'll pass. I have enough entangling alliances as it is, I don't need any more. If I really need to save on insurance I could sell one of my cars, but with daring daughter threatening to come back to the USA maybe I need to keep that extra car for a bit.

Update October 2017 replaced missing video. I don't remember anything about this, so it might not be the same, but it's got all the key words.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


The first time I watched this I was blown away by incredible bike handling. Then I found out it was a video game, so I watched it again. It's hard to tell whether it's real or memorex. The wheely going through ess turn was a bit much, the bike is a little too clean, and the background is a little plain. But dang, it's still hard to tell.

Update June 2015: The original video got pulled, so I looked around and finally found this one. Not quite the same thing, but very similar.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


John Whitney - Permutations (1968)
There is only a tenuous link between this video and this post.

coding game dot com has a number of programming puzzles. One program I attempted required generating permutations of a small number of digits. This is a common enough requirement that I figured someone had already sorted it, and a quick Google search delivered up an example.
    The example was just what I needed, but being a bit thick at the time I failed to grok just why it worked, so I set out to write my own version based on how I would generate permutations of, say, four digits. I made a couple of attempts, but no success. I put it aside.
    I've been playing a game called 0h h1. It's a relatively simple logic game that involves filling a small checkerboard with red and blue squares according to some rules. After I had been playing it for a while, I started noticing that a line containing some combinations of just a few squares had only one possible solution, while others with more spots taken still had a number of possible solutions.
    This leads to my writing a program to calculate the number of possible arrangements for a single line. It took me a day or so to figure out how to do it. It was mostly a matter of the way I framed the question. I was thinking there should be a magic formula for calculating the number of possible combinations you could use to fill out a line, and there might be but I haven't figured out just what it would be. Yet. My program counts the possible solutions and I am reasonably confident that the number is correct.

Length    Permutations
   4           6
   6          14
   8          34
  10          84
  12         208

The constraints are that you cannot have more than two of the same symbols in a row and each row contains an equal number of each symbol.

    Coding this program opened my eyes to a way to solve the original permutation problem, which I did and it worked. I was kind of hoping that my method would be faster than the standard method, but no such luck.
    I now have three different programs that all do variations of the same thing. Half of each program has the same basic elements, so I combined them into one program and added a switch to select which version to run. I uploaded it to Github. You can find it here.
    The possible number of permutations of a number (N) of unique digits (or any other symbols) is N factorial, or N! in math speak. Factorials grow very fast. 12! is the biggest factorial you can fit in a 32-bit integer. (A 32-bit integer on a computer can contain a value of four billion and change.)  64-bit integers are now pretty standard. They will hold 20!. My program should handle up to 20 digits, though no one will ever know as it would take a zillion years to generate all the possible values.
    Anyway, now that I've got the permutation thing sorted out I can go back to working on the original problem.

P.S. A bit from the Wikipedia article about John Whitney:
The analogue computer Whitney used to create his most famous animations was built in the late 1950s by converting the mechanism of a World War II M-5 antiaircraft gun director.
I'm thinking WW2 anti-aircraft guns and the 'computers' used to aim them were the very peak of mechanical technology. The machinery was 16 kinds of complicated, the range was the very limit of what can be done with a gun, the whole operation had to be performed in seconds and there were hundreds, if not thousands of operating guns. There may have been some cold war stuff that was more complicated, but much of it was done with electronics, and none of it was ever used as much as AA guns were used during WW2.

Update December 2018 replaced missing 1966 video with a similar one from 1968.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Tabs Versus Spaces

Facit typewriter tab stop rack
I've been writing more C language computer code recently, so I'm looking for a place to post it on the net. It would be nice to be getting paid for writing code, but like Mick says, we can't always get what we want. Since I'm only doing this for fun, I thought I should post it somewhere for people to see. Might prove useful, or possibly entertaining, which is probably more valuable these days.
     Wherever I post it needs to display it in a readable format, which means a fixed pitch font (no Times-Roman). Color coding would be nice, too. And we need to be able to do this without having to go through a bunch of contortions.
     Google Drive now seems to support C source files, and it seems to presume tabs are set to every 4 spaces. But it doesn't do color coding, at least not on Firefox and Linux (does it do color coding on my Chromebook? Maybe. The thumbnails appear to have color coding, but when I look at the file itself, no. Weird, man).
     Github does color coding, but it presumes tabs are set every 8 spaces, which every true believer knows is wrong (if you don't believe tabs should be set to every 4 spaces you are obviously a heretic and should probably be burned at the stake. Or maybe we'll just burn your coffee).
    Anyway, I'm experimenting using my Nicomedes program to start with. I used the Linux program expand to replace the tab characters with the appropriate number of spaces and pasted the resulting copy into Github. You should be able to see the file here.

Does anyone else remember when tabs used to be arbitrary? Back in the good old days, back when we had typewriters, tabs were set individually. There was no automatic every-so-many-spaces tab setting. If you wanted a tab at the 4th position, you spaced over 4 spaces and pressed the tab set key. If you wanted a tab at the 47 position, you spaced over 43 more spaces and pressed the tab set key. Now the first time you press the tab key you go to column 4, and the second time you press it you go all the way to column 47, which means the carriage picks up some speed on the way and arrives with a typewriter shaking thump. Which is how God intended for you to arrive at column 47.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Terms of Enlistment by Marko Kloos

After listening to Tam and/or Roberta talking about this book I finally broke down and bought a copy. It's not a great story, but it doesn't shoot itself in the foot either. It's well crafted, the story moves right along and there aren't any jagged holes or awkward corners that don't make any sense, but it's not compelling. It only took me a couple of days to read it, so it's not difficult.
    The first half of the story is basically a retelling of Black Hawk Down, except it's set 100 years in the future and in Detroit instead of Somalia. It's entirely believable that things could get this bad if something doesn't change about the way this country is being run. But maybe that's okay with some people. Hateful people who want to kill other people, which seems to becoming more and more popular.
    The second half of the story our hero is assigned to an interstellar Navy war ship. They are resupplying a colony on a terraformed planet some number of light years away. They get there by going through a wormhole of sorts. Now we've got another kind of combat and this situation is more iffy. Although the first combat situation was probably just as bad, it was in the first half of the book, so you know our hero is going to survive.
    The more I think about interstellar travel, the less likely I think we will be able to accomplish it using spaceships and machinery. I think we can probably explore our solar system, and we may even be able to terraform Venus, which would be a real trick, but really cool if we could pull it off. But going to the stars, that's a different kettle of fish. I can see two ways of getting there. One, we build robots and send them in our stead. Cylons, by your command, conquering the universe.
    The other would involve some kind of alternate view of the universe. All this quantum stuff is really weird. It might be that there is another universe that coexists with our own, it's just that all our atoms are in a different quantum state and form different things. They are constantly switching back and forth between one state and the other, so sometimes they are giving our universe the illusion of reality, and sometimes they are in the other place, giving that universe the illusion of reality. The two universes would have nothing in common except for being made of the same kinds of atoms. The other universe may have all its matter distributed equally throughout space instead of being clumped together into planets and stars.

Star Trek STNG Moments 06 Where No One Has Gone Before

    Star Trek had a couple of episodes where they had a visitor from another dimension, the Traveler I think they called him. Pretty far out there, but some of this quantum stuff is even weirder. So maybe, some how, we learn how to shift our state to the other universe, go a couple of feet and then shift back and be light years away from where we started. Probably lose a few probes the first time we try it.

Restaurant Dream

We're remodelling a restaurant. There is a big banquet room. It is kind of dim and predominant color seems to be dusky rose. There is a large painted tin chandelier / sculpture hanging from the ceiling, maybe ten feet square and eight feet high. It's painted black and red and is vaguely reminiscent in shape of an upside down pagoda. It needs to be taken down, cleaned and refurbished.
    There is another dining room, not as large as the first. It is lighter in here and color is pale yellow. There is a large wood dining table with shaped legs. Not curved exactly,  but not straight either. It's a common pattern, there is probably a name for it. I just don't know what it is.
    We go back to the first room and the crew has gotten the chandelier down. It is supported by a dining table frame. It's a table with the top surface removed so there are only rails along the outside edge connecting the legs. It is the perfect tool for the job. It is holding the chandelier upright and off the ground so they can work on it. I wonder if they have cannibalized the big table from the other room so I go back and check, but no, it's still there. I ask the forewoman where she got this table frame and she tells me where and that it cost $100 which seems like a bargain given the situation. I am so pleased that she had the initiative to go out and get this thing that I kiss the tips of my fingers and reach out to touch her. I have to stretch because she is working on the chandelier and there is someone between us, but I manage and touch her on the side of the throat. She seems pleased by this.

The photo is only vaguely similar to the chandelier from my dream, but the scale and color are right, and it's in China, so close enough.

The Racial Dot Map

Kind of a cool map. This is just a screen shot of the zoomed out map. I suspect that the business about "1 Dot = 1 Person" only applies at the highest level of zoom. Via Detroit Steve.

Monday, May 11, 2015

War That Can't Be Won

[W]hile the empirical evidence on the relationship between gun control and homicide is (at this time at least)  utterly inconclusive, there certainly are policies out there that we have very solid evidence to believe would reduce gun-related homicides very substantially.
The one at the top of the list, in my view, is to legalize recreational drugs such as marijuana and cocaine.
The theory behind this policy prescription is that illegal markets breed competition-driven violence among suppliers by offering the prospect of monopoly profits and by denying them lawful means for enforcing commercial obligations.
The evidence is ample. In addition to empirical studies of drug-law enforcement and crime rates, it includes the marked increase in homicide rates that attended alcohol prohibition and the subsequent, dramatic deline of it after repeal of the 18th Amendment. - Dan Kahan writing on the Cultural Cognition Project.
Found this quote on The Volokh Conspiracy. "The evidence is ample." link goes to The Drug War Heresies on Amazon dot com, where you can buy a good, used copy of the book for a penny (plus shipping, of course) which tells me that it isn't a thriller that will keep you turning the pages long past your bedtime. I found this review on Amazon as well, and I think it is inciteful:
"In Drug War Heresies, Robert J. MacCoun and Peter Reuter ask whether drug prohibition makes sense and whether legalization might achieve a better balancing of the costs and benefits associated with drugs and drug policy. They draw on a broad range of social science literature, and they emphasize the lessons provided both by drug prohibition in other places and by prohibitions of other goods, such as alcohol and prostitution. In discussing this evidence, they raise most of the key issues that should be considered in evaluating drug policy. Their book is an excellent starting point for anyone who wishes to understand the debates about prohibition versus legalization.MacCoun and Reuter make a compelling case that many evils typically attributed to drugs result instead from drug prohibition and its enforcement. According to their analysis, prohibition causes increases in property crime because users face elevated prices; increases in violent crime because traffickers cannot resolve disputes using the courts; diminishments of civil liberties owing to the difficulty of detecting crimes without natural complainants; increases in corruption of police and politicians; disruption of countries that produce coca and opium; diminishments of users' health because of poor quality control; increases in the spread of HIV because of prohibition-induced restrictions on clean needles; excessive restrictions on medical uses of drugs; and reductions in respect for the law bred by widespread violation of prohibition-among other consequences.And yet the authors do not endorse legalization. They find great fault with the heavy emphasis on criminal sanctions in current U.S. prohibition, and they believe substantial deescalation to, say, the level of enforcement in western Europe, Canada, or Australia would diminish many of the harms of prohibition while causing only small increases in drug use. Still, they do not endorse legalization. Why not?Their position rests on four arguments: that moving from weak, European-style prohibition to legalization would produce a substantial increase in drug use; that this increase would be a bad thing; that most of the benefits from legalization are achieved simply by deescalating prohibition; and that the effects of legalization are uncertain.""The authors' basic points move in the right direction. They have done a great service in carefully, honestly, and scientifically considering both theory and evidence on the effects of alternative drug policies. Room remains for reasonable persons to disagree about certain pieces of evidence, but if more persons were to analyze drug policy as dispassionately as MacCoun and Reuter, both drug policy and the country would be in far better shape."From The Independent Review


Early 20th Century Postcard

We started watching a murder mystery on Netflix the other night. Witnesses, also known as Les Témoins, is a French mini-series, in French, with subtitles. It's a pretty good show. It takes place in Le Tréport, France, which is on the North coast about halfway between Calais and La Havre, straight across the English Channel from Hastings, site of the Inspector Foyle murder mysteries. There is one scene of a police inspector riding the funicular (see photo above). I'm thinking that it has got to be unique. I mean how many inclined railways are there with twin tunnels going up through a cliff face? Unfortunately, I got the name of the town wrong, so all my Googling was for naught. liljaskaft on the IMDB message board got me straightened out.
    They started thinking about building the funicular way back in 1881. It didn't get built until 1908 and then it operated until the Germans showed up during WW2. It was put to work again in 2006 with new, smaller, modern cars.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

GMC Samson Sieve-Grip Tractor Running In Apache Junction

1918 GMC Samson Sieve-Grip In Action

Samson Tractor was a General Motors brand from 1917 to 1923. So, for a few years starting just before the end of WW1. We've got an internal combustion engine instead of steam and everything is made of cast iron including the wheels. The layout looks almost modern. No reason to change it if it works. The auxiliary shaft that runs alongside the engine is different. Looks like it drives the water pump and maybe something else as well. The PTO drum on the back looks like a pants grabber. Via Posthip Scott.

Update October 2021 replaced the video with a similar one because the first guy disabled embedding. Twit.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Tcho Chocolate

California Bob gave us tub of Tcho chocolates when we were in San Francisco for Spring Break. The chocolates come in individually wrapped squares. They are wrapped with different colors and patterns of paper. I think they are supposed to be slightly different flavors, like chocolate with a hint of orange, or chocolate with a hint of lemon, and they do taste slightly different, but they are not distinct enough that I can say for certain just what the hint comes from. In any case, they are really good and I have been enjoying the heck out of them. Two seems to be just the right amount to satisfy my daily chocolate craving.

Video is from a story in the San Francisco Business Times.

Iran's Aircraft Carrier

Satellite image of Bandar Abbas, Iran

It's not a real aircraft carrier, it's a mock up of an American carrier that they built to use for target practice and propaganda. You can see where the "flight deck" has been damaged during February's practice. Real American carriers are a thousand feet long. This one is only about 700 feet. Via IHS Jane's 360.
    The Middle East is so weird. Both the USA and Iran are posturing about how evil the other is, yet we are allied with Iran in fighting against ISIS, but we are also allied with Saudi Arabia, who is fighting against the Iran supplied Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The Sinking of the Lusitania

The Sinking of The Lusitania: Winsor McCay (4K) 1918
Deviant Studios of 97

The sinking happened 100 years ago yesterday. This is the oldest known non-fiction, animated film. From the Wikipedia article about this short animated film:
In 1915, a German submarine torpedoed and sank the RMS Lusitania; 128 Americans were among the 1,198 dead. The event outraged McCay, but the newspapers of his employer William Randolph Hearst downplayed the tragedy, as Hearst was opposed to the US joining World War I. McCay was required to illustrate anti-war and anti-British editorial cartoons for Hearst's papers. In 1916, McCay rebelled against his employer's stance and began to make the self-financed, patriotic Sinking of the Lusitania on his own time.
761 people survived. The film mentions four prominent people who died here:
Via Posthip Scott.

Update October 2023 replaced missing video.


35 mph Razor scooter crash

I am in a big building, three or four stories tall, the size of a large high school. It's laid out in similar fashion with hallways and large rooms. It's some kind of research center and I work there. One of my co-workers has to go to another facility a short distance away and wants to know if I can give him a ride. Sure, we can take my bike, and I look around for my Shoei motorcycle helmet. "We're going on your motorcycle?" he asks. When I reply in the affirmative he tells me we need to tell Bill Abernathy. This is a name of a guy I knew in high school in real life, and sure enough when we catch up to him, it is the same, extremely neat, crew cut individual. He's packing up his gear. He has a big, soft sided bag full of compartments for all his stuff which he is dutifully stowing away. It looks like he is packing for a camping trip. We aren't going camping, at least I don't think so, but he is being organized and efficient, so he should be done soon.  There are several other people there and while we are waiting for Bill to finish packing we fall into conversation with them. I make some crack and one of them responds that that is just the kind of thing you hear in California, where upon he launches into an examination of the foibles of the clothes conscious Californian, how "cargoes" can't abide "Dockers" or some such. "Cargoes" being men who wear cargo shorts. The argument seems to depend on the color or the existence of extra pockets, I start to ask for a magic marker or some blue paint so I can fix the color. But then I realize Bill should be done packing, and we need to get a move on. I turn around and find that Bill is eating his brown paper bag lunch. Whatever, we need to go, but now there is another problem. How are we going to bring Bill's four dogs with us? If they were toy dogs we could put them in our pockets, but they aren't, they are good, doggy sized dogs. This is made slightly more difficult by the fact that Bill is going to be accompanying us on his Razor scooter. Well, two dogs can ride on the saddlebags, and one might be able to ride perched on the engine, which is inexplicably mounted out in front of the front wheel of my otherwise normal Triumph Bonneville. Or we can clip a lead between the harnesses of two dogs and I can put the lead over my shoulders and carry two dogs dangling that way. The dogs may not like it, and it would be a bit of a strain on me, trying to steer the bike with this load on my shoulders. But we never get to that point, because how are we going to accommodate Bill on his scooter? I suppose we could tie a rope between the scooter and my bike and pull him along that way, but how fast can one of those scooters go? It all becomes just too much, visions of the front wheel of the Razor getting caught in a rut and throwing the whole thing on its side and Bill along with it are not encouraging. That is all.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


I'm watching a video about the history of the Mediterranean. At the end a URL appears: 
I'm looking for more information, the video is pretty skeletal, so I type it in, but I'm clumsy and I get it wrong:
No problem, there is a website there as well. That's weird. I wonder if they have done the same with my blog title, and they have. Since they probably only had to pay for registering, it isn't costing them much.

Update: I thought about this and then I got to wondering how many different ways are there to misspell blogspot? And how many of them have they registered? And how many other misspelled domain names have they registered? There could be thousands, and registering all of them would run into serious money. Somebody should check it out, find out just what's going on here. Somebody besides me, I'm busy. I have important stuff to take care of. Now where is that donut?

Germany & Jews

Fox News has a two-year old story by Tuvia Tenenbom about Jews, Germany and a book he wrote. He apparently considers most of German society to be thoroughly anti-semitic, though I am not sure that all of the examples he gives qualify as such. Just what qualifies as anti-semitic anyway? If you think someone is odd, weird, or just don't like them, and they happen to be Jewish, does that make you anti-semitic? I don't think so.
    The most interesting part is his conclusion:
If today Germany doesn't wake up to its inner hate, a more sophisticated Adolf will appear and nobody will be powerful enough to stop him.
I was going to post a comment, but you need to sign in, and then create a user name, and then they want to know your birthdate and at that point I said bullshit and resolved to post my comment on me blog, so here it is:
It is our nature to be hateful. I think it must be a survival trait, Darwin, evolution and all that. Near as I can tell, the biggest problem with the Jews is that they set themselves apart: "we are Jews and you aren't". How can you be friends with someone who excludes you from their social circle?

Thach Weave

How to perform a Thach Weave.wmv - Posted by EntropyUnlimited
I come across the Thach Weave in a story on the Daily Kos about some overlooked aircraft from WW2. It is an aerial combat maneuver from WW2. I found the video a little hard to follow, but it does give you an idea of how different the theory and practice are. Via Stu.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hana Orthopedic Surgical Table

hana® state of the art fracture table
Iaman is contemplating having one of his hip joints replaced. To that end he's been investigating, and his research turned up this item. ¨The OR table is the single most expensive item in a OR with a life of 20 years.  Cost $125,000.¨ OR, that would be the Operating Room. When I first read the price I was appalled. I knew medical equipment was ungodly expensive, but $125,000 for a friggin' table? But then I saw the picture and realized that 'table' was misnomer. And since hip replacements are one of the most popular surgical procedures at something like 250,000 per year, that 'table' is going to get a lot of use. If we're doing 5 operations a week, then that works out to $25 per operation. A small part of an operation that will cost around fifteen thousand.

Update September 2015. Changed operation cost estimate to more realistic value.