Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Five Days - BBC

five days

Murder mystery on HBO. A short series, only five episodes. Mixed race family. The black husband seems to be a magnet for cute, white actresses. Oh, maybe that was in the script. Not much of a thriller, more of an exploration of people and their problems, and we seem to have an abnormal number of those concentrated in the dozen or so characters we have. It's pretty good for not having any car chases or gunfights.

The Homesman

Homesman Tommy Lee Jones final dance scene

Comrade Misfit put up a post about this film today. She didn't like it much. I didn't like it much either, but I sure do remember it. It wasn't a bad movie, you know, with bad writing, bad acting and a bad story. I didn't like it because it was unrelentingly grim and depressing. And sad. The death of Hillary Swank's character was particularly disturbing.
    The movie is set in the 1850's in Nebraska and Iowa. On the plus side, it gives a realistic view of some of the trials people suffered, stuff that is given short shrift in most Westerns. Also, there is the hotel in the middle of nowhere, the burning of said hotel, the importance of shoes, the suddenly worthless money, and Tommy dancing a jig. Twice. That alone was worth the price of admission.

Sheila O'Malley has good review on Roger Ebert dot com.

What Causes the Smell of New & Old Books?

The Aroma of Books
Click the image to embiggenate
Compound Interest has the story. Very light reading for a story about chemistry. Via Indiana Thomas.

The Rolling Stones - Doom And Gloom

The Rolling Stones - Doom And Gloom

I'm not quite sure just what to make of this. Most of the images are an unpleasant reflection of modern life. The guys in the band are really old.  The girl is cute and seems to have some energy, though she gets hardly any screen time. Can't be upstaging Mick, I guess. Via Dustbury.

Dustbury had another post today about The Beatles in which he mentioned the song Something by George Harrison. I kind of like George and I couldn't remember a song called Something, so I looked it up and find 'something in the way she moves', which I remember with crystal clarity. I remember liking the song, but for some reason I have no desire to listen to it now. Weird, hey?

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Shooting in Nederland, Colorado

There was a shooting at a ski resort in Colorado today. An employee shot the manager at an early morning meeting. A Sheriff's Deputy tracked the shooter down and killed him. The Denver Post has the story
    So another nut-case goes off the deep end and people end up dead. Why am I writing about it? Because a friend of mine in Ohio has friends that live in Nederland. There were a bunch of people at that early morning meeting. It is only by the grace of god (or pure dumb luck, your choice) that more of them didn't end up dead. 
    I really wish there was a way to identify people who are ready to go over the edge. I suspect the problem might be that the people we should worry about are the ones who are on the fringe of society. Maybe they've been pushed there because of their poor social skills, or maybe they've gone there for their own reasons. People who are on the fringe don't talk to a lot of people, so there aren't going to be a lot chances for someone to notice that they might be getting a little close to the edge.
    Anyway, I had never heard of Nederland before, so I looked it up. It's just west of Boulder, got it's start in mining and now it has a ski resort. I've excerpted a bit from Wikipedia below.

Nederland, Colorado
with Tungsten (lower right), Caribou (upper left) and Eldora ski resort (lower left).
Nederland was established in 1874. The town started as a trading post between Ute Indians and European settlers during the 1850s. The town's first economic boom came when minerals such as tungsten, silver, and gold were discovered near Tungsten (east of Nederland), Caribou (northwest of Nederland, 1859), and Eldora (west of Nederland, 1875). . . .
In 1873 the Caribou Mine, at an elevation of roughly 10,000 feet and 6 miles northwest of the town, was sold to the Mining Company Nederland from the Netherlands. The high elevation meant fierce winds and deep winter snow, so the new owners of the mine decided that it was beneficial to bring ore from Caribou down to Middle Boulder for milling. In the Dutch language, Nederland ("Netherlands" in English) means low land, and based on casual usage by the Dutch miners, Middle Boulder came to be known as Nederland. (This is ironic, considering that the town's elevation is higher than 8,000 feet and most locations in the Netherlands are near or even below sea level.) In 1874 the town was incorporated and adopted Nederland as the official name. - Wikipedia

We Take It Because We Want It

Found this story in this morning's paper:
Tigard police seize 470 iPhones related to gift card fraud
Tigard police seized 470 iPhones as part of their investigation into organized retail fraud. (Tigard Police Dept.)
Tigard police detectives seized 470 iPhones worth $292,000 as part of an investigation into organized retail theft at Washington Square Mall and Bridgeport Village.Earlier this month investigators watched as a man used a large stack of gift cards to purchase iPhones at the Washington Square Apple Store. They followed the man to a rental car full of Apple shopping bags, Tigard police spokesman Jim Wolf said.
The man, along with another suspect, were stopped by police after leaving the mall parking lot. In addition to hundreds of iPhones, detectives seized hundreds of apparently fraudulent gift cards and receipts totaling $585,000.
Investigators also found that numerous iPhones had been dropped off at a nearby FedEx store where they were set to be shipped to Hong Kong.
Wolf said no arrests have been made in the case, which is ongoing, but investigators think the the gift cards are linked to counterfeit credit cards from Southern California.
-- Stuart Tomlinson, reporter for The Oregonian
Police seized a bunch of stuff, but didn't arrest anybody? WTF? This sounds a whole lot like what happens more and more these days. Police seize stuff just because they think it's suspicious. This nonsense got started with the War-On-Drugs [tm], but seems to be creeping out into anything that might net the cops some money.
    Okay, I have to admit it does sound suspicious that these guys had a whole pile of gift cards to go with their whole pile of iPhones, it really does look like major credit card fraud. But then I read the bit about the phones being shipped to China, and several gears clicked into place. This isn't fraud, or simple theft, this a turf war being waged by Apple, and the cops are being drafted to act as thugs-for-hire.
    What's going on is that there is a small market for hi-end items in Red China, but being as China is so huge, even a small slice of that market it big. Luxury goods manufacturers are exporting their goods to China, and because demand is high, they are able to charge a premium price for their products. The premium they are charging is so high that when other people got wind of it, they realized that they could buy these same products at retail stores in the USA, ship these products to China, pay all the necessary fees and taxes and still make bundle of money.
    The manufacturers don't want anybody cutting into their turf, so they are trying to squash these little guys. And these two guys buying phones are definitely little guys. That's why they had 'gift cards', not cash or credit cards. Someone gave them those gift cards for the express purpose of buying iPhones.
    So it probably wasn't the FBI that tipped the local Tigard cops off to this 'criminal' operation, if was more likely some agency in charge of regulating trade, like the Department of Agriculture.

Previous post on the subject here. Sometime in the last year (decade?) there was a deal going on downtown where you could make $100 by standing in line to buy an iPhone. At the time there was a huge local demand for these stupid plastic boxes, so I don't know whether this was just someone catering to local people who didn't want to stand in line or whether they were shipping them off to China.

Funny how Taiwan hardly ever makes the news anymore. 20 years ago Taiwan was in the paper weekly, if not daily. Now all we talk about is China, by which we mean Red China and nobody even mentions Taiwan. Don't want to piss off our Communist Overlords, I suppose.

Update two days later: I should have mentioned that Tigard is a suburb of Portland, Oregon.


Frozen out of my truck this morning. Couldn't get the key in the driver's door. Fortunately, it's an American Car so there is a key lock on the passenger door as well. This one the key went in, but it took forceful wiggling to get it to operate. It eventually unlocked, but the door would not open. Frozen shut. It's been raining for the last 3 months, and the truck is parked outside, so it was pretty well saturated. Last night it got cold enough to put frost on the ground so all the water on the door gaskets froze as well.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Wonder War

#1187; It was A Long Time Ago
I haven't seen the new Star Wars movie yet, but I thought this explanation was rather clever. I didn't notice the 'soap-opera lighting' in the prequels. Did you ever notice how soap operas on TV look different than movies? I always thought it was because soap operas were recorded directly to video, but movies are shot on film first and then transferred to video. Film can record a much greater range of light levels, or at least that used to be the case.

Escape by David Baldacci

US Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Picked this book up at Costco yesterday. Always on the lookout for something interesting and cheap, and this looked promising. The author's name looked familiar, and I could have sworn I read one of his books before, but I cannot find it. The story of that book was about a detective in small coal mining town in eastern Pennsylvania. At least that's the way I remember it. It was kind of gnarly (as in a twisted plot) with some interesting characters. We'll see how this one goes.
    This one starts out at the US Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas (satellite image above). There are four prisons here, two at the north side of the Fort, and two along the south side. Looking at the map I'm wondering wasn't I just here recently? Yes, I was. virtually. The wreck of the Steamboat Arabia is just downstream about 20 miles as the crow flies, a little more by the river.

Update later in the day: The book I was thinking of wasn't by David Baldacci, it was Grievance, a Rugs Carlucci novel by K.C. Constantine. Carlucci, Baldacci, who wouldn't get confused? I've gotten a couple of chapters into Escape and it's beginning to look like it isn't anything special. But it's easy enough to read, and since I seem to be having a hard time getting enough sleep it's just my speed.

Monday, December 28, 2015

ODOT Mud Slide

OR 42 slide in southwest Oregon
New video of the massive slide that's closed OR 42 between #Roseburg and #CoosBay. 
Geologists are on scene surveying a fix. No estimated time to reopen.
Posted by Oregon Department of Transportation on Monday, December 28, 2015

It's been raining.

2 days later: Changed the video source from Facebook to YouTube. Note the undisturbed areas of crushed rock. Looks like this place has caused problems before and some of the fixes held. This wasn't just a mudslide where the ground turned to liquid and slid down the hill. Here the whole shoulder of the hill broke loose and slid down basically intact.
    Looks like drones might be good for something besides tracking down terrorists in the Mid-East. For the price of getting a helicopter into the air, never mind spending any time there, you can buy a drone, drive to the site, record this video, and if you don't crash, you've still got the drone. Getting an overview of this disaster from a helicopter would likely cost $1,000, and you wouldn't get the closeups of the road surface.
    Dirt comes from rocks that have broken down. Topsoil has organic matter mixed in with it, but 100 feet underground there isn't much organic material. It's just dirt. Dirt comes from rocks. How long does it take to break down rock into dirt? How long does it take to generate that much dirt? That hill has been there for a long, long, time.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

The Foreign Secretary

George Canning
British Foreign Secretary
March 25, 1807 to October 11, 1809
The picture is of the actual British Foreign Secretary from the time in question, which happens to be during Britain's war with Napoleon. The following quote is from a fictional story which also has a war going on with Napoleon at this same time. Imagine that.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, first page of Chapter 6.
Change a few terms: substitute the 'voting public' for 'country gentlemen', pick some other bogeyman to replace Napoleon, and this could apply to our current state of affairs.
     Suspicion of cleverness puts me in mind of the phrase 'too clever by half', which is an English expression which I take as a slight against anything most people cannot easily comprehend, which is why most good ideas are never implemented.
    There are situations where a clever person comes up with a solution to a problem, but the solution either is so complex that it cannot be successfully implemented, or it fails because of some unforeseen side effect. Hence, the preference for simple, understandable solutions, even if they are crude, inefficient and expensive. Some people have other, incorrect ideas of the meaning of this phrase.

P.S. Previous post on this book.

P.P.S. Notice how Napoleon is spelled with two O's, not two A's which was my tendency. I'm not the only one to get it wrong.

P.S. #3 Wiki pertaining to this book.

Saturday, December 26, 2015


Devil codex Gigas.jpg
"Devil codex Gigas" by Kungl. biblioteket. Licensed under Attribution via Commons.

A codex is a book with hand-written content. Some people also use the term for books with machine printed content. Some codices are continuously folded like a concertina. Some people don't call these folded documents codices. Everywhere you go you find contrary people. What else is new?
The alternative to paged codex format (i.e. a 'book') for a long document is the continuous scroll.
. . .
The Romans developed the form from wooden writing tablets. The codex's gradual replacement of the scroll—the dominant book form in the ancient world—has been called the most important advance in book making before the invention of printing. The codex transformed the shape of the book itself, and offered a form that lasted for centuries. The spread of the codex is often associated with the rise of Christianity, which adopted the format for use with the Bible early on. First described by the 1st-century AD Roman poet Martial, who praised its convenient use, the codex achieved numerical parity with the scroll around AD 300, and had completely replaced it throughout the now Christianised Greco-Roman world by the 6th century. - Wikipedia (emphasis mine)
In the USA you are free to practice whatever religion your little heart desires, but the majority of our population comes from a Christian background, a background that goes back 2,000 years. Much of the fabric of our civilization comes from the civilizing influence of the church. There are certain precepts in our Judeo-Christian culture that are fundamental to our society and our civilization. People from a Christian background take many of these concepts for granted and assume that people from other cultures also consider these same ideas as valid and important. This is not necessarily the case and unless you take the time to understand someone from another culture, you may not discover just where your beliefs differ.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norell

Johnathan Strange & Mr. Norell

Picked this book up at Powell's at the airport the other day. It's really quite wonderful. I've been thinking about belief and culture and how some cultures appear to be suffering from a bad case of mental illness, and then I came across this passage which I thought was remarkably telling.

Cathedrals were like the cell phones and rocket ships of their day. It's unbelievable that a bunch of peasants armed with pitchforks and shovels could have built such things, yet there they are.

I like going to the big Powell's store in downtown Portland, but going downtown is a colossal pain, mostly because of the parking. Meanwhile, I go to the airport perhaps a dozen times a year, so I may as well make the most of it. This month alone I will make five trips. This book cost me $9, dinner for two at Stanford's cost me $45 and I think parking ran about $9. We went early because my wife likes to shop, and because we were early, younger son's flight was an hour late.
     The short-term parking garage at PDX might be the best parking garage in Portland. There are spiral entrance and exit ramps so you don't have to drive up and down aisles of parked cars to get to a floor with open spaces. The floors are marked as being full or not at the entrance, so you don't need to cruise looking for a spot. Each row is marked with the number of available slots, and each open space is marked with a green light. Occupied spaces are marked with a red light. Very festivus (for the rest-ov-us). The charge is $3 an hour which is exorbitant given that parking used to be free and would still be if the cowards in government had imposed a dollar-a-gallon tax on gas fifty years ago like they should have.

Merry Christmas

"Sec. 538. None of the funds made available in this Act to the Department of Justice may be used, with respect to the States of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin, to prevent such States from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana. Sec. 539. None of the funds made available by this Act may be used in contravention of section 7606 (``Legitimacy of Industrial Hemp Research'') of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (Public Law 113-79) by the Department of Justice or the Drug Enforcement Administration."

Congress Effectively Ends The Federal Ban On Medical Marijuana

Via the Trauminator.

Sound Waves

Strings against the Sky, Paulie Boii Branc PV: from inside his guitar

This video has gotten 68,378,503 Views on Facebook, 25,712 on YouTube. In the time it has taken me to write this line the number of Views on Facebook has gone up by a little more than 6,500.

Via G. I. Simpson

Friday, December 18, 2015

How do I hate the Tesla? Let me count the ways.

400hp! Turbo VW Beetle at the Strip│Simpson Racing Engines "Killa Bee"
Dustbury quotes Aaron Robinson from Car & Driver:
Tesla is an American venture building American cars in America, so I can’t understand some of the virulent hatred toward it.
Can't understand? Let me explain it to you:
The idiotic greenies sent the stock price through the stratosphere. It’s a playtoy for rich people only. It has no connection with the rest of the world. I don’t like Posches, but they are at least related to the lowly VW bug: both are made in Germany, have two doors and horizontally opposed, air-cooled, alloy engines. What has Tesla got in common with American cars? It’s made in an obsolete Toyota factory that happens to be in Californa, the land of flakes and dilettantes. If you want to be accepted as an American car manufacturer, you need to make your cars in Detroit.
I posted in the Dustman's comments, but it was so wonderful, I thought I better share it with y'all.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Loop de Loop

Osmany & I had lunch with Jack at Clancy's Pub & Restaurant in Sherwood today. Clancy's is a fine place except for the last mile. Getting there is a bit of a drive from Hillsboro, but most of it is through open country so it's pleasant enough, but the last mile is all school zones, so while it takes 30 minutes to get to Sherwood and then another five minutes to get to Clancy's, it feels like the complete opposite. So when we left I decided to see if I could find another way out of this place. I had a vague idea of which way I should head, but shortly after we left Clancy's my brain dropped a neuron and I turned right instead of left and we ended up making a big loop through Wilsonville before we got straightened out.
    When I got home I traced out my route on Google Maps and realized I made a loop de loop. Whoa! I haven't heard that phrase in a long time. It used to mean making a vertical loop in an airplane. Now it mostly seems to refer to roller coasters. There was also a song with those words. This one is the closest to what I remember.  There's no video, only a single still image.


    While I am poking around I come across this video of five guys playing Grand Theft Auto with Hercules military air freighters. It's pretty amusing how much trouble these guys have just getting their aircraft lined up on the runway. They are trying for some formation flying but they don't get very far. One guy does manage to complete a loop

Notice how one engine on each wing turns clockwise and one turns counter-clockwise. I don't know if this reflects reality or not, we're talking GTA here, not Flight Simulator. I would have thought both engines on one wing would turn the same direction.

San Bernardino Part 2

Shooting in San Bernardino, California (upper center) and Redlands (blue place mark).
A week ago Slate put up an interactive map of gun deaths in the USA. (The site is very slow to load due to all the adware. Slate is definitely in need of subscribers.) Mass shootings get the news, but individual shootings make up the lion's share.

Today Zocala Public Square has a story from Michael Tesauro that gives us another view of San Bernardino. It starts like this:
There was no hashtag or meme or Facebook artwork on August 1, 2012, when San Bernardino, California, filed for bankruptcy after a long fiscal breakdown. Massive budget cuts followed. The police force was reduced by a quarter and murders predictably went up. City Attorney James Penman later told residents at a public meeting to “lock your doors and load your guns.”
I recommend it to your attention.

P.S. Reading about the shooting in San Bernardino last week I suddenly realized that it was spelled like St. Bernard, not Be-nard, which is how everyone pronounces it. My name, Charles, is Carlos in Spanish, and Chuck might be Carlito, so Bernardino obviously means Little Bernie, therefor San Bernardino is named after the great St. Bernard. Either the dog or his namesake, Bernard of Menthon. Actually, no. San Bernardino is named after this guy:

Bernardino of Siena.
Part 1 here.


Unless it’s destined to be a sculpture, a model without color will always be just a flat, lifeless collection of polygons and vertices.
Newsletter from Sketchup, Google's 3D drawing program, this morning notes that it has "a great set of UV mapping tools". UV Mapping? What's that? UV normally means Ultra-Violet light, which was what the cutting edge of microchip fabrication was using last week. Are we using Sketchup to design masks for wafer fabs now? Not quite.
UV mapping is the 3D modeling process of projecting a 2D image to a 3D model's surface. The letters "U" and "V" denote the axes of the 2D texture because "X", "Y" and "Z" are already used to denote the axes of the 3D object in model space. - Wikipedia

You mean Steely Dan?

STEELY DAN - Two Against Nature - JOSIE

Marcel posted a video of Steeleye Span this morning. Steeleye Span? That sounds awfully like Steely Dan. Is someone getting confused here? Well, probably. Someone, somewhere, is always getting confused. The names of these two bands are very similar, and I'm not the first one to notice it. Both bands have been around for roughly 45 years. What do you do for an encore? has a cogent post on the matter. Wondering Sound compares these two as well as several other pairs of bands with similar names.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Somewhere in China

Photo by Marc from the Thursday Lunch Bunch
Marc's job takes him to China on a regular basis. This photo is a study in contrasts. I don't know, but it looks like the complicated looking gadget in the center might be a very fancy motion picture camera. Notice the guy wearing the white gloves holding a pair of tongs, probably used for dragging iron rails across the floor or, alternatively, dragging someone's chestnuts out of the fire. Then there's the chalkboard with the schedule or maybe the ingredient mix for the next batch of whatever it is, and the automatic bubble-drubber thing-a-ma-jig in the background on the left. And where are we? Looks like an unheated, concrete warehouse with an overhead traveling crane (the orange bar in the upper right, supported by a fat iron rail attached to the wall). Doesn't look like the kind of place that makes computer electronics, but maybe this doesn't have anything to do with computers. Maybe they are making a movie.

Tail Continues to Wag Dog

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir holds a news conference Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015 in Paris. Saudi Arabia said that 34 nations have agreed to form an Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism, but the coalition does not include Shiite-majority Iran or Iraq, and it's not clear how exactly it would function. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)(The Associated Press)
Saudi Arabia creates Islamic military alliance to fight terrorism reads the headline of a story in the Oregonian this morning. I got about halfway through the first paragraph and broke out laughing. Saudi Arabia, who gave the dirty dishes (Daesh, aka ISIL, aka ISIS) their start in murder and mayhem, is now joining forces with their neighbors to fight terrorism. Right. Tell me another one. 
     Many moons ago (506) Saudi Arabia attempted to destroy Israel. Since their army was made of poorly educated and ill-trained peasants and Israel's army is composed of well educated and highly trained professional soldiers, they got their butt handed to them. They sued for peace and decided that Israel is now their ally.
    Since there is a large and politically influential Jewish lobby in the USA, and since this lobby is all for supporting Israel, the USA supports Israel.
    Since Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest sources of oil on the planet, and since oil is very important to the USA, and since Saudi Arabia and Israel are now 'allies', we support Saudi Arabia in their efforts to crush their opponents and destroy their enemies.
    All this is eerily reminiscent of our experience in Afghanistan. We supported the Taliban with arms and money to fight against the evil Russian Communist empire. When Russia finally called it quits, the Taliban revealed itself as an evil bunch of sadistic barbarians from the 12th Century, much like the dirty dishes that are now operating in Syria and Iraq.
    I am glad I am not in John Kerry's shoes (the US Secretary of State). I think my head would explode.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Screenshot of playGIS's interactive map of The Hobbit
Found this while I was looking for a Streetview of the cartoon Springfield from The Simpsons. I didn't find one, but I did find a Google Earth-like 3-D view of the place on playGIS

Water, Water Everywhere

A new desalination plant in Carlsbad, California, is bordered by Interstate 5 on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.
After 14 years of construction the Poseidon water desalination plant in Carlsbad, California, is starting operation. It is the largest reverse osmosis plant in the USA. It makes drinking water from sea water. I seem to recall hearing about a zillion years ago how 'we' (Americans? Scientists?) were working on reverse osmosis techniques. Seems it has finally reached the point where it is practical, or maybe we have finally gotten desperate enough to pay for it. The price Poseidon is getting for their water is about twice what San Diego pays the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California for water. I ran some numbers to see how it pencils out.

Poseidon should make money on this project, but it's a pretty thin deal. The 9.6% return they should be getting on their investment doesn't include operating costs. Those cost should be minimal, but they are not going to be zero. They have to produce the water to get paid, so breakdowns could impact their revenue stream. Their capacity is about 15% greater than what they are contracted to produce, so they have a little margin for error. Reverse osmosis depends on special filters to work. I don't know how long those filters / membranes last, but it's not forever, and replacing them is going to cost money. I wish them luck.

From a story by  Bradley J. Fikes in The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Black as Night

What is it with people that causes them to dress all in black before they set out to cross a busy, poorly illuminated, four lane city street when it is pitch black outside? Do they think they are Ninjas? Or maybe Charles Bronson?

1946 - Caterpillar Diesel D7 tractor with loading attachment loading debris for a project pulling up street car rails on Market Street in San Francisco, California. The 660 volt trolley wires overhead mean extra care must be taken in handling rails. This tractor is obviously a hazard to navigation, but at least it is being dangerous in full daylight, where you can see what is going on.
     Driving to the train station early one morning a couple of months ago I noticed a big black blob in the middle of the road. Early morning, poor visibility, I couldn't tell what it was. There was something up ahead in the middle of the road. I slowed way down and eventually I could see that it was a medium-small track hoe crawling across the street. It had one work light shining and it may have been painted orange, but the only clue I had to its being there was that it was blocking the light from the businesses father down the street.
   Since then it seems that most every day on my early morning, five mile urban jaunt, I see at least one person  that is walking along the street, or crossing in the middle of the block, dressed all in dark clothes. I want a paint ball gun that shoots balls of fluorescent dye so I can tag these morons.
   This morning (7:30AM) I am on the return leg of my trip, sitting at a stop light, and I notice the sky is gray, not black. That's weird. It's been totally black for the last two months. How could it be gray? Winter solstice hasn't gotten here yet, the days are not getting longer. Could it be that we have been blanketed with clouds for the last two months, clouds so thick no sunlight could get through them?

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Appropriate Audience"

Every wonder just what "Appropriate Audience" is supposed to mean? Quora has an answer. Evidently there are two flavors of trailers: Red and Green. Trailers with Green introductory messages are not going to have anything stronger than PG, while Red trailers can cross the line into PG-13 territory. Note that we are talking about the content of the trailers, not the content of the advertised movie.

A Tale of Two Porn Stars

The Girlfriend Experience - Trailer

The Girlfriend Experience stars Sasha Grey. It is rated R, not X. Sasha, star of 321 pornographic movies, has reinvented herself as a legitimate entertainer. Hustle (not to be confused with with skin rag Hustler) has the story.

Yesterday I came across a list of egghead celebrities. I'm going down the list checking birthdays (just because) and occupations (some of the names belong to new kids, people I've never heard of), and what's this? Asia Carrera (#28 on the list, not to be confused with Tia Carrere) is a porn star, just like Sasha Grey. Unlike Sasha she seems to be happy with her reputation (NSFW).

Looking for info on Asia I found that IMDB now includes pornographic movies, a.k.a. 'adult films'. I didn't think they did that. I don't know if this is something new, or I just never noticed before. Google Asia Carrera and you should find her IMDB page listed, but search on IMDB for her and . . . nada, nothing. It's like she doesn't exist.

Via Detroit Steve.

High Obedience

Excerpt from the ABOUT page:
Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation. The PARANOID OR CONSERVATIVE VIEWER however may be confused by the sticker’s persistent presence and condemn it as an underground cult with subversive intentions. Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily. - Shepard Fairey, 1990
Who is Shepard Fairey? Wikipedia tells us: Frank Shepard Fairey is an American contemporary street artist, graphic designer, activist, illustrator and founder of OBEY who emerged from the skateboarding scene.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

2008 Hyundai Sonata

Difference in paint is almost undetectable

Difference in paint is obvious. Yes, it's the same car.

I didn't notice the difference in the paint until I started comparing this picture with the other two.
Bought this car so my daughter would have a way to get back and forth to work. She started making payments, but then she ran off to Argentina. That meant I had two too many cars. If you are driving old cars, a spare is a good thing to have, but one spare is fine, I don't need two. So I unloaded Chrysler Sebring, the infamous. It had developed several minor but annoying problems, plus I could sit up straight in the Hyundai.
    The Hyundai was rebuilt from a wreck. I bought it from my mechanic. He tells me it was rebuilt from a parking lot crunch. Hard to believe that a parking lot crunch would result in a car being declared a total loss by the insurance company, but then insurance companies have their own skewed way of looking at the world.
    The car looks fine except if you look at it at the right angle, you can see that the paint on the front of the car is slightly different than the paint on the rear. It's really kind of weird, but it only shows up at the right angle, and even then the difference is slight. But it makes me wonder. If this was just a parking lot crunch, how come they had to paint the whole front half of the car?
    The dashboard makes little creaking noises every now and again which makes me wonder if something got screwed up in the wreck and now the bits don't fit together quite right or something. But it might just be the nature of plastic dashboards in Hyundais. Hasn't gotten any worse and it still rides very smoothly, so I'm not worried about it.
    The car has been pretty reliable, except for that episode with alternator. When I picked the car up from the repair shop in Seattle they mentioned that one of the valve covers had a slight leak, oil from this leak was dripping on the alternator and this might have contributed to the alternator failing. I wondered why they hadn't fixed the leak since they were working on the car anyway, but they don't seem too concerned about it and I had a long drive ahead of me, so I took off.
    When I got home I took it to my mechanic. His verdict was that the leak was too small to worry about right now, but when the car gets to 100,000 miles, it is going to be time to replace the spark plugs, and since you have to pull the intake manifold (!?!?) to do that, then would be a good time to fix the leaking valve cover. So replacing the plugs, which I used to be able to do myself for $10 in parts and an hour of my time, is probably going to run $500.  Fortunately, it only needs to be done once every ten years or so.
    It has a Kenwood stereo with a removable faceplate. The audio is okay, I guess, but the controls suck big time. The power button is just underneath the faceplate-release-button. You have to be careful turning it off or on or you are liable to have the faceplate in your hand. The other controls on the faceplate are useless for me. There is one big knob that also works like a joystick and half a dozen buttons. I tried to figure them out once or twice, but then I found that there are controls for the radio on the steering wheel. The controls on the steering wheel allow you to control the volume and the tuning. That's all I really need. They are very simple to use. There are six buttons and they each have their own function. They are easy to tell apart because they all have little features that allow you to identify them by touch. There is no night light on the radio, or it's not hooked up, so at night you can't see where the power button is, which can be problematic, as mentioned.
    I don't know what is with the front door, but it seems to be the wrong size or the wrong shape or something. You want to swing the door out of the way when you are getting out, but if you push it open as far as you can easily reach, it isn't open enough, and if you give it a push so it opens all the way, it's too far. Maybe the doom-a-flatcher that regulates the door is too long, or the detents are in the wrong place or something. Or maybe I'm just old and fat.
    The car has a sunroof. I doubt I will ever use it. After my experience with the Endeavor I am seriously considering disabling it. Actually, the car manufacturers should put in a switch that automatically closes the sunroof if you close the sunshade. What happens is that you're driving along on a nice sunny day and you want to enjoy the sunshine, so you open the sunroof. After a while you start to get hot, so you close the sunshade, but you forget about the sunroof. Then you decide to go to the carwash and when water starts pouring into the passenger compartment you try and close the sunroof. Due to Murphy's law, this usually happens just when the big overhead rotary brush is scrubbing the roof. The little wheels and levers that allow the sunroof to slide back and forth are relatively delicate and not up to repelling the big, strong brush, so they break and now the sunroof won't properly close. The problem is worse with the Endeavor because it is tall enough that you can't see the sunroof when you are standing next to the car.
    The neatest thing about the Hyundai is that the speedometer goes to 160 MPH. I doubt whether I will ever see the North side of 100, but it's kind of neat that Hyundai would put a speedometer with numbers that big in this car.
    I picked up daring daughter, O-man and their six suitcases (2 small, 4 big fat ones) from the airport Tuesday, and we all fit in the car, though one of suitcases had to sit in the back seat. Now that diligent daughter is home from her sojourn in Argentina, it looks like I will be back to driving my gas guzzling truck again.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Channel 1

RCA 630-TS, the first mass-produced television set, 1946–1947
Detroit Steve sent me a link to a story by J. W. Reiser on Tech-Notes dot tv about why our television sets start with channel 2 instead of channel 1. Television got started back in 30's. A lot of people were very excited about it, but the manufacturers needed a standard for the signals so TV sets could receive signals being transmitted by commercial broadcasters. As you might expect there was a bunch of pushing and shoving involved, and then WW2 came along and disrupted things six ways from Sunday. Anyway it's good story. Here's an excerpt about the early history:
During the first few months of 1933, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) demonstrated the first successful all-electronic television system.  Broadcasts were made from the RCA experimental television transmitter, W2XBS, located at the top of the Empire State Building in New York City.  The characteristics of that early all-electronic television system were modest:
Video carrier:
Audio carrier:
24 per second
Sequential (no interlacing)
2 MHz
AM modulated, full sideband
AM modulated, full sideband
Yet, the results were far better than any mechanical television system had ever accomplished.  For those experiments, the video carrier was approximately 45 MHz.

It may be hard for us to appreciate fully what RCA had accomplished in 1933.  But to give you an idea: Many of the experimental television broadcasts were still using frequencies in the 2 to 3 MHz range, and bandwidths of 100 kHz.  In addition, the earlier systems were mechanical using gears, motors, mirrors, etc.  As television advanced, each step pointed towards non-mechanical systems, and higher bandwidths and carrier frequencies.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was established by an act of Congress on June 22, 1934.  It was about that time that a portion of the VHF radio spectrum was allocated to television for the first time (see Table 1).
Table 1
The colors are just so you can see how various frequencies got moved around. 

You can see from the table that there used to be a Channel 1, but since was a 'community' channel, it got squoze out by the big boys.

NYC Wiki Wander

A newsletter from FEI got me started.

Katayun Barmak, Philips Electronics Professor in Applied Mathematics and Applied Physics at Columbia University, stands in the newly constructed Electron Microscopy (EM) Laboratory located on the first floor of Havemeyer Hall. (Photo by Jeffrey Schifman)
Presumably that is an FEI scanning electron microscope behind her.

Havemeyer Hall, Columbia University, Morningside Heights, New York City
The part of the building to the left (that is just one story taller) is Chandler Hall, a different building. The building to the right (the corner of which is just visible) is the Department of Mathematics. The front of Havelock Hall faces the 'alley' between the two. The modern building sticking up in the background is the imaginatively named 'Northwest Corner Building'.
Morningside Heights is a neighborhood on the upper west side of Manhattan. The area's bigger occupants include Columbia University, a number of parks and churches, and The General Grant Houses.
    Looking at a satellite view I'm wondering just what the 'General Grant Houses' are. Is this another park with a bunch of old houses that used to be owned by General Grant, kind of like one of those historical reenactment places? Sorry, no. It's a public housing project built in the 50's. It's one of those places that is referred to on cop shows as 'the projects'.

New York City Subway map, late night service only
    The Wikipedia entry is a little thin, so I go looking for more and I come across The Rough Night Wiki. It's basically the story of one person's search for a room, but it's done in a 25 page Wiki. I've never run into this format before, but it kind of makes sense.

The problem with Islamic Culture is Islamic Culture

I just read an interview of Nicholai Sennels on Europe News. His observations shed some light on why Western and Muslim cultures are so violently opposed to each other. Some excerpts:
My own experience is that Muslims don’t understand our Western way of trying to handle conflicts through dialogue. They are raised in a culture with very clear outer authorities and consequences. Western tradition using compromise and inner reflection as primary means of handling outer and inner conflicts is seen as weak in the Muslim culture. To a great extent they simply don’t understand this softer and more humanistic way of handling social affairs.
. . . we see that especially anger is much more accepted in the Muslim culture. One example: in Western culture and also in other non-Muslim cultures, like in Asia, you see aggression and a sudden explosion of anger as something you’ll regret afterwards, something you are ashamed of. It is completely opposite in the Muslim culture. If somebody steps on your honor – what I as a psychologist would call self confidence – you are simply expected to show aggression and often also verbal or physical revenge. So, aggression gives you a low status in our cultures, but a high status in the Muslim culture.
There is however another and much deeper reason for the wide spread anti-social behavior in Muslim communities and their strong aversion against integration – namely, the very strong identification that Muslims have with belonging to the Muslim culture.
. . . A strong and proud culture unfortunately also makes the culture’s members almost unable to adapt to other values.
. . . but especially disturbing is the fact that there are no differences of opinion on this topic among Muslims who are born and raised in Muslim countries and the opinion of their children who are born and raised in Danish society. When it comes to identity among Muslims, nationality does not count at all in comparison with culture and religion. The consequence is a powerful and growing opposition to Western culture and values in Muslim ghettoes throughout Copenhagen and other major European cities.
. . .  My experience is that the very low focus on supporting one’s children in school and on one’s own education and the lack of motivation for creating a professional career is a crucial factor for the poverty, which many Muslims experience in both our societies and in Muslim countries. 
Supposedly Nicholai has a best seller out: Among criminal Muslims. A psychologist’s experience from Copenhagen. Couldn't find it on the net.

Via Sharon.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Wrong Band

Mötley Crüe - Smokin In The Boys Room

Just came across an announcement that Mötley Crüe will be playing at the Moda Center (home of the Portland Trailblazers), which reminded me that back in the day I thought Mötley Crüe was a really cool band. I think I must have got that attitude just from their name, because I just went through their discography and the only song I recognized was Smokin' In The Boys Room, and it is not really a great song. It is more of a gimmick, kind of like Dead Skunk In The Middle Of The RoadI'm not even going to talk about their appearance.
Update March 2016 replaced missing video. Cover image from video #5oVBvxA0mm0 still showed up, but then we get this message: 'This video is not available'

Car Dream

Commonaro. This is not the car in my dream, it's just the most outlandish one I found in my search for a pic.
Dreamt that my cousin had acquired a cool 6 wheel sports car. It looked something like an Aston Martin DB-5, just a little longer with six wheels. The three axles were evenly spaced. The engine sat between the first and second axle, and the passenger cabin sat between the second and third.
    It was painted gray. It looked kind of like wrinkle finish paint, but it was smooth, not wrinkled. It was like a whole mess of small random patches of paint that all fit together seamlessly. Some of the patches were a little lighter, some were a little darker. They all had a sort of grain that you see in crystals, and the orientation was random, just like the shapes and sizes.
    There were about 50 of these things made and he had gotten a deal on it. We had to replace the alternator (where have I heard that before? Many places, but most recently here.) and it was a piece of cake because there was like a separate finished compartment for the alternator inside the engine bay.

I, for one, welcome our new spacebar overlords.

Detroit Steve tells us that Levelator is a great tool for podcasting. Keeps the voice level during a show and between editions. Phil concurs. He's used it several times for problematic voice files. ChuckE used it to clean up church service recordings because the audio varied so much. However, Levelator still only supports WAV and AIFF audio files.  The vast majority of the audio files in the world are MP3, so using it required converting to WAV then back to MP3, which was a pain.

I suggested using batch files to automate the process, but I was wrong in assuming that would alleviate the pain. The pain came not from performing the steps, but from working under deadline and having to wait for the process. All of which caused this to pop into my head:

Just realized that batch files suck. Used to use them all the time on DOS, in DOS boxes and under Linux.

One of my 'things to do' is collect all my code and upload it to github. But github doesn't like tab characters, they want everything done with spaces, which is heresy according to all true believers of the tabist faith. So all I have to do is write a stupid batch file to take a source file, detabinate it and upload it. It's only been #1 on list for the last month. Or maybe two.

My problem might be that I know it can be done, but I don't know exactly what commands it would take, so I would have to look up a bunch of stupid crap that will only be useful for this particular problem. I have already accumulated an encyclopedia of that kind of crap and discarded it and I don't want to do it any more. Well, not unless I'm getting paid.


It's been raining a bit here. Drove to PDX (the airport) yesterday afternoon. With no traffic, round trip takes a little over an hour. Yesterday it took four. The Interstates were reduced to a walking pace.

Last week Dennis drove down to Los Angeles, about one thousand miles. Last time he went he drove his own car, a VW station wagon which gets about 21 MPG and gas cost him $500. This time he rented a Mazda 3. Gas cost in the neighborhood of $150 and the rental fee was $120 for a week. So he saved $200. Lower gas prices might have something to do with it.

Name Dropping

Detroit Steve sent me a copy of a stupid little book called Iterating Grace by Koons Crooks, a pseudonym. It's written in an entertaining style, and it's short, it probably won't take more than five minutes to read it. It drops a bunch of names, some of which pertain to stuff that might actually be interesting. Herewith are those names in the order I came across them.

Luca Albanese. There is a person with that name on IMDB.

Uturuncu, a volcano in Bolivia

Pixelon, a dot-con. Famous for their extravagant launch party. Not to be confused with the Spanish digital animation company.
Silicon valley startups in the late 1990's:

Smoot, a Bernese mountain dog

Waffle House, Inc., is a restaurant chain with more than 2,100 locations in 25 states in the United States. Most of the locations are in the South, where the chain remains as a regional cultural icon.
There do not appear to be any on the West Coast or in New England.
Waffle House Interactive Map
These states do not have any:
  1. Alaska 
  2. Hawaii 
  3. Washington 
  4. Oregon 
  5. California 
  6. Idaho 
  7. Nevada 
  8. Montana 
  9. Wyoming 
  10. Utah 
  11. North Dakota 
  12. South Dakota 
  13. Nebraska 
  14. Minnesota 
  15. Wisconsin 
  16. Iowa 
  17. Michigan 
  18. Maine 
  19. Vermont 
  20. New Hampshire 
  21. Connecticut 
  22. Rhode Island 
  23. New York 
Kansas & Illinois only have a few. The ones in Kansas are all near Kansas City. The ones in Illinois are all near St. Louis.

Truckee & Denver
Nellie Bowles - Re/code reporter

Chris Sacca, Silicon Valley venture capitalist.

Pearl Jam - Even Flow - 1991

Vannevar Bush
Head of US military R & D during WW2.
Deep by James Nestor

Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters
Steve Jobs is mentioned. He get's no picture here. He is already too famous.

Twice the Llama (Llama Song by Burton Earny)

Vicunas are not Llamas, but I thought this stupid exercise needed a little leavening.

The book includes a bunch of (images of) idiotic, handwritten quotes, purported to come from these people. They are all either venture capitalists or they live in that world:
Update February 2018 replaced missing Llama video.