Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Shaper Origin

Shaper Origin - How It Works

This could be very cool. Routers are used freehand to do things like carve script letters into a wood plank, but for any kind of accurate work you need guide or a template. This thing allows you to do precise work with nothing but a paper pattern. I don't know how precise it can be, but it seems like it could be accurate enough for most wood working projects.
    It is not available yet, and it's quite a bit more expensive that a regular router, but if you are actually making stuff that requires making patterns first, this might be just the ticket.

Rain, rain, go away

Greenhouse constructed of PVC pipe and plastic film
We have an 'event' coming up and now it looks like rain. I'm thinking that we should have a backup plan, you know, just in case our luck should turn sour and it does rain. It's not going to rain, but you know, just in case.
    So I'm thinking a giant tent made out of cheap plastic materials would be just the ticket. Looking around I found this picture on Simplifed Building, who seem to have some good ideas.
    As to whether I actually build such a structure or not is still up in the air.  It would run about $500 for materials and cover an area about 700 square feet. But when do you set it up? It would take at least a day to set it up, so it would have to be set up the day before. If I am seriously considering this I should go buy the materials tomorrow, just I have them on hand. Urk. $500. If I don't use them, I should be able to return them. Still, kind of a big commitment. And if it does rain, would something like this suffice? Fret, worry and concern seem to be mine.

Frickin' Lasers!

Laser Cleaning: HIGH POWER 1000W!

I was watching some random YouTube videos yesterday and in a couple of them, in an adjunct to the main action, over in the background, someone was cleaning rust off of steel by pointing a Star Trek phaser at it. (Wait, what? Shhh, never mind how cool that is, I tell myself to stick with the main story). Today this video shows up in my inbox via R&T. They are expensive now, but I hear Apple is coming out with one next year and after that I fully expect the Russians to jump in with both of their great big booted feet. In ten years they'll be selling them out of Harbor Freight for $10.
    Lasers can be 30% efficient, so to get 1KW of output, you are going to need 3KW of power, which works out to about 30 Amperes of 110VAC household current. So you should be able to run it if you combined a couple of your big appliance circuits.
P-Laser website.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sammy's Linto

In response to my post about the Harley Davidson Sprint, Stu sent me this picture.
Sammy's Linto
Via Stu
Sammy is Sammy Miller, champion motorcycle racer. The Linto is a 500 cc Grand Prix racer from 1969. It used the top end from two single cylinder engines and grafted them onto a custom crankcase. It was a competitor. 

Linto Engine
Lots of pictures of this bike out on the net. I collected a few of them into one page. Only a handful of these bikes were made. At what point do all the bits from all the images outweigh the original machine?

Fiber Fix

Redneck Drives a Duct Tape Car off a Cliff!

I think this is a real ad, but it's just so far out there I had to share. It's so manly it almost makes me want to go out and buy some.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Big Eid ul Adha Animals
Got a comment on an old post. Comment didn't say much, but given the topic (hex arithmetic in Google spreadsheets), I wondered who it was. Silly me. It was spam for a Pakistani website. I think their text blurb says it best:
Buy Bakra, Dumba, Goat, Cow, bull, Camel for sacrifice at Eid ul Azha for qurbani in Pakistan from online bakra mandi. This time Eid-ul-Adha will be on 12th Septermber, 2016 on Friday. Muslims will sacrifice animals on 1st, 2nd or 3rd day of Eid Qurbani in the remembrance of great sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim Alaihis Salam. On this day, muslims sacrifice their animals and devide in poor people around them. This website provide you easy way to do qurbani even for Pakistani's living outside Pakistan in foreign countires like USA, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Europe, India, Japan, China, France, Italy, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, Hong Kong etc. Overseas Pakistan can book their animal online and we can deliver animal to their provided address or nominated charities in Pakistan. We have VIP animals for sale from special bakra farm house at this speciall occassion of Eid. You can select animals after viewing pics or on the basis of weight. We congratulate all people of Pakistan from Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Multan, Gujranwala, Bahawalpur, Faisalabad, Sargodha, Sahiwal, Dera Ghazi Khan, Peshawar, DI Khan, Swat, Kohat, Malakand, Abbottabad, Mardan, Bannu, Sukkur, Hyderabad, Aga Khan, Larkana, AJK, Mirpur Khas, Quetta and other cities on this special day of Eid Qurbani 2016.
I always wondered what became of the bodies of those sacrificed to the gods. In ancient times I suspect they were left for the gods or their minions to do with as they saw fit, which was probably for the best, being as you don't wanna be messin' with gods, being as they are all godlike and shit.
    But once you have cities and some level of civilization, you probably don't want to leave dead bodies lying around. Maybe burn them or donate them to the poor. Perhaps that was what the novices did. While the upper echelon of the priests were making nice with the rich, their underlings were supplementing their meager earnings by shoveling the bodies out the back door onto meat wagons.
    Anyway, it looks the bodies of these sacrificial animals are going to the poor.

One Ad Leads to Another

Burberry Ad
Looking for the Gucci ad, this one caught my eye. That is all.


Gucci Street Sounds Ad
Standing in the checkout line at the grocery store and this picture catches my eye. I wonder what it is because there is no title other than the [street sounds] caption at the bottom. Could it be some kind of new music package? So I reach out and pick it up. It's a magazine, but by the size of it, it is more like a book. This is the back cover of the latest issue of Vogue magazine, someone put it in the rack backwards. It is at least an inch thick, must weigh a couple of pounds and it costs $10. I didn't buy it.

I snapped a photo while I was there but it came out a little distorted. Unless I am dead center, taking a somewhat accurate picture of a flat image seldom works out.

One OK Leads to Another

OK Go - Upside Down & Inside Out

Ever wonder how much time you get in zero-G from one of those parabolic plane rides? Well, now you know. Update: No, the weightless period is only twenty odd seconds long. The video was spliced together out of several weightless arcs.


Today seems to be a day for treadmills.

Linus Torvalds at his treadmill desk
Via Detroit Steve

OK Go - Here It Goes Again
Via LeeAnn

Harley Sprint Aermacchi

Harley Sprint Aermacchi 250
I was in love with this bike when I was a teenager. The 250 cc engine produced 30 hp, which was unheard of. It was a real Italian screamer. Unfortunately they cost real money, something teenagers have traditionally been very short of.

Sunday, August 28, 2016


Steam Train on the Devil's Nose Switchback, Ecuador

Reading about the railroad over Stevens Pass in Washington, I discovered that the term switchback originally referred to a railway that used a switch to reverse direction when going up a hill. "Well, strictly speaking, railways do not consider something a switchback unless they have to "stop, switch, and back". The original railway over Stevens Pass incorporated eight or nine switchbacks.

Update December 2016 replaced dead link with one that leads to a 'local' copy.


TekTronix Model 1502 TDR
Roberta X hacks together a power supply for an old Tektronix TDR. TDR stands for Time Domain Reflectometer. Reflectometer can be broken into reflect-o-meter, which is how all meters used to be named (speedometer, tachometer). A TDR measures the condition of a cable by sending electrical signals down the wire and then looking at what gets reflected back from the far end, or any defects along the way.
    Electricity travels at roughly the speed of light, so for any cable you look at on the surface of the Earth, the time it takes for electricity to travel from your end to the far end and back is going to be so tiny as to be invisible, but this kind of information can be very useful for people who are concerned with making cables carry signals properly, so we have the TDR.
    Seconds can be broken into tenths, which you can measure with a stop watch, or hundreths of a second with the electronic timers used for sporting events. You can even measure sporting events to the nearest millisecond, but you would need to be travelling 60 MPH before the it would be worthwhile (at 60 MPH you will travel one inch in one millisecond).
    Below that (times less than one millisecond), we are talking imaginary numbers. There is nothing to compare with in normal, everyday events. But some people insist on poking around into even smaller divisions of time. Beyond (or below) milliseconds we have microseconds, and beyond that we have nanoseconds. Nanoseconds are kind of cool because light can travel one foot in one nanosecond.
    This is the realm of modern day computers. There are a billion nanoseconds in one second. Likewise there are a billion cycles in one gigahertz. So a computer that operates with a clock speed of one gigahertz, bits of data flowing down the data bus are going to be about twelve inches apart. In a computer that operates at 3 gigahertz (which is the last speed I remember hearing about), bits are going to be about four inches part, traveling at the speed of light. How is that these machines can operate at all?
    But that's nanoseconds. Beyond nanoseconds we have picoseconds, which are one trillionth of second, which is a TDR's stock in trade. Reading a description of the TDR Roberta was using is like reading the script to an episode of Star Trek.
. . . fire the tunnel diode pulser. The later models (1502B/C) used an LCD display and a microprocessor. The other major difference is the line charging method. The 1502 uses a fast (36 ps) tunnel diode pulser, the later models used a half sine wave to charge the line. The TD pulser, with its Dirac delta edge gives much better short range sensitivity although it is much easier to destroy. - TekWiki
P.S. Looking for pictures of picoseconds, the hot topic seems to be Picosure lasers for tattoo removal.

French 75

French 75 Cocktail
My mother-in-law introduced me to this drink several years ago. We had made a longish car trip to attend a wedding and by the time we got home we were beat. I was feeling especially worn as I had done the all the driving. Her formula for the drink is a shot of good quality cognac in a glass of cheap champagne, and man, did it hit the spot!
    If I am not doing physical work, it doesn't taste that great, but these days I've been making small repairs around the house and doing a little work in the yard, which really wears me down and come beer-thirty, one of these is just what the doctor ordered. I wonder if my erratic heartbeat might have something to do with why it tastes so good.
    It's not a popular drink. I ordered one a couple of times during our road trip to the Midwest this summer and no one knew what it was, so I passed along my mother-in-law's recipe. The official recipe calls for lemon juice and sugar, but that's just gilding the lily. Booze one and booze two are all you really need.
    Looking for a picture, this is only one I found with the right color. The others showed something very pale, which is what you might get if you made this drink with a clear liquor like gin, but that would be sacrilege, wouldn't it? I mean gin is an English drink, not French. I could have taken a picture of my own drink, but I would have to dig out a fancy glass. Besides I like the beer glass I use.
The drink dates to World War I, and an early form was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris—later Harry's New York Bar—by barman Harry MacElhone. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. - Wikipedia
Canon de 75 modèle 1897, aka the "French 75"
The French 75 is widely regarded as the first modern artillery piece. It was the first field gun to include a hydro-pneumatic recoil mechanism, which kept the gun's trail and wheels perfectly still during the firing sequence. Since it did not need to be re-aimed after each shot, the crew could fire as soon as the barrel returned to its resting position. In typical use, the French 75 could deliver fifteen rounds per minute on its target . . . [up to 5 miles away]. - Wikipedia
A split of Cook's Champagne (6.3 ounces, one fourth of a big bottle) costs a tiny bit less per ounce at the local grocery store than a full bottle, which pleases my inner cheapskate, but the really savings comes from the bottle holding less. I open a split (a tiny bottle) and I have no qualms about drinking the whole thing. I open a big bottle (750 ml) and I think I am only going to drink a glass or maybe two, but one glass leads to another and before the night is gone the bottle is empty and I am out $8 instead of 2. The splits come with twist off caps while the big bottles come with the traditional wire ties and corks. Tradition is all very well, but the screw tops are certainly handier.

The split of Champagne holds 120 calories. The shot of Cognac is about 100, so a drink made using these is going to have roughly the same impact as two beers.


 Nice to hear someone echo my own thoughts on the subject:
Why use FreeBSD? Maybe I’m just getting old, but it’s nice to use an operating system that didn’t spawn a billion-dollar anti-malware industry through frequent security failings, where you can choose the interface you like and reasonably expect it to stay that way instead of being forced into the design fad du jour, where you don’t have to argue about the init system being replaced two times in the same decade, and whose key organizations don’t collectively kowtow to Microsoft when convenient. - Cool Trainer dot org
The rest of the page goes into glorious (horrible) technical detail on I don't want to know what, but the intro is great.

BSD in FreeBSD is Berkeley Software Distribution
Via Detroit Steve

Moonshine Rock

1999 NASCAR Pontiac, driven by Tony Stewart
2000 NASCAR Ford Taurus, driven by Bill Elliott
Ever wonder what happens to old top-of-the-food-chain race cars? A car, meaning the chassis, might be run for three or four years, if it's lucky. For the most competitive races, like Formula 1 and NASCAR, cars are built new for each year. Being as there might be a couple of dozen teams in any class, that means there are liable to be a couple of hundred high performance machines becoming obsolete every year. When they become obsolete, their value plummets, which means ordinary people can afford to buy them.

Sam Smith has a fine story about taking a couple of old NASCAR racecars to a racetrack for a track day. The pictures above are the cars they ran.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Fatty McFat-Tire

Mongoose Fat Tire Bicycles at Costco
The tires on the original fat-tired mountain bikes weren't any fatter than the tires that came on your old Schwinn. The tires on these bikes are at least twice as wide. Seems people like them for sand and snow, including the Iditarod Impossible.


Everything I needed
Replaced some damaged weatherstripping on the doors of my house today. The weatherstripping that seals the sides and top of the door is specially shaped vinyl that slides into a groove cut in the door jamb. Replacing it is easy, just pry one end loose and then pull and the whole thing comes out easily. Cut the new one to length with a pair of scissors and push it into the slot. Last time I did this, I thought each strip cost about 50 cents, now they cost 5 dollars. Only reason I have to replace these is that the cat shreds them with his scratching. You don't have to replace the whole thing, you can just replace the damaged portion.

The weatherstripping along the bottom of the door is another matter. This required taking the enormously heavy door off its hinges and tipping it over on edge. That's the bottom edge of the front door in the top center of the picture. It's resting on my handy dandy SuperBar pry bar so that it is up off the floor so I can tell when the new weatherstrip is flush with the edge of the door. The old weatherstripping had been attached with staples. I pried the old weatherstripping loose with my pocketknife and the wrecker bar. Prying the weatherstripping loose pulled only some of the staples out, most of them just ripped through the vinyl and stayed stuck in the door. I used a six inch pair of Channellocks to pull them out.

Staples would be just the thing for attaching the new one, and I have an electric staple gun I could use, but I only have 1/2" staples for it. From previous experience I know that this gun doesn't have the oomph to drive 1/2" staples into solid wood, so let's see what else we have. Oh, how about these little bitty half inch long nails I found squirreled away in my small parts cabinet? Looks like I ought to have enough, but they are really tiny, how am I going to hold them in place, hit them with a hammer and not smash my fingers? How about a pair of pliers? My first choice was a pair of needlenose (with the blue handles in the picture above), because they were handy. I could not maintain a solid enough grip with them so I trekked to the basement and got my needlenose Vise-Grips. They worked fine for holding the nail while I gave it a whack to get it started. Then I'd release the Vise-Grips and drive the nail home using the punch.

Out of the ten or so nails I used, one managed to find one of the old staple holes. What are the odds?

Craftsman punches are not chrome plated anymore.

Are Victorinox Swiss Army knives being made in China now?

Bootleg Pic

Orchestra in the orchestra pit
Went to see the Broadway production of The Lion King Tuesday evening. Walking around the theater before the show starts as we got there extra early because you never know how traffic going into downtown is going to be, and I notice that there are people in the orchestra pit. There were maybe 15 or 20 all told and they had a surprising amount of electrical/electronic gear with with them, so much so that I thought it was worth taking a picture. Even though I was semi-stealthy, an usher still caught me and warned me against further transgressions. Since the show hadn't started, I don't think I was technically in violation of their rules.

The net that appears so prominently in the photo was nearly invisible to me, probably because I was focusing on what was in the pit. I suspect the camera was focusing on the net which is why it shows so prominently and why you can't make out any detail of the subject of the photo.


Click to embiggenate
He's dead Jim. I spotted him sitting on the top output tray of our old laser printer last night. He's still there. Never saw a dragonfly in the house before.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016


It's because in the late 1900s, Americans gradually adopted the Australian system of secret ballots, much to the chagrin of the party bosses and political machines that used to be able to bribe or threaten their way to victory. - The Week
    I presume that by "the late 1900s", Peter means before 1910 and not before 2000. I mean, as far as I know, we have always been using secret ballots and I go back to the 1950s.
    So all through the last part of the 1700s and all through the 1800s, we weren't using secret ballots? I'm shocked. Who'd a thunk it?

Via Comrade Misfit


Reading about some highlights from the games.

Kristin Armstrong, who won gold in cycling, "is often confused with the ex-wife of fellow cyclist Lance Armstrong, whose name is also Kristin. Kristin Armstrong the cyclist and Lance Armstrong are not related."

Carmelo Anthony, the basketball player. I've seen him in enough games on TV to recognize the name. I'm not sure whether he is a hero or villain. Anyway, ". . . on an off-day, he visited one of Rio's favelas." "What most people call creepy, scary and spooky, I call comfy, cozy and home." - WSJ

As for Ryan Lochte . . . At first I thought some Rio bureaucrat saw an opportunity to make a name for himself by harassing these guys. Then we got some reports that maybe the athletes were telling tales, and I got to wondering 'can these guys really be that stupid?' And now that the media has trampled all over the story, I doubt we will ever know what really happened, which pisses me off, because I invested minutes, minutes of my time, I tell you, reading and thinking about this fiasco, and I shouldn't have bothered, because all of the data related to this story is tainted.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Westland Wasp

SA Navy Westland Wasps
Looking over yesterday's post about Bouvet Island, I realized that since the Oryx helicopter hadn't been invented yet, it couldn't have made the landing. A little more reading reveals that they probably were using Westland Wasps, and that's when I found this very cool picture. South Africa bought a few, but then the anti-apartheid embargo kicked in and that was the end of that.

Westland's Scout and Wasp helicopters differ only in their landing gear. The Scout is intended for land based operations and has skids, the Wasp has 4 wheel landing gear for use aboard ships. Via Flugzeug.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Bouvet Eiland

One wheel landing of a SA Air force Oryx
Photo by Tom van der Meulen, taken while "Lying on my stomach, hanging upside down out the door".
This photo showed up in the Flight Aware newsletter. At first I thought someone had overshot the runway and ended up hanging over the creek. Then I read the caption and realized this was a helicopter, and it's not really a landing, he's just touching down on this rock.

Oryx Helicopter off Cape Town, South Africa
I found this picture of the Oryx Helicopter on the South African Air Force 22 Squadron's website, where I also found this bit:
  • First helicopter landing on Bouvet Eiland in 1966.
What is a 'Bouvet Eiland'? Is this some kind of ship? No, it's an island, way off in the middle of the south, south Atlantic.

Bouvet Island
As you might expect, it's not much of a place, small and covered with ice.

Bouvet Island, southeast side, as seen at sunrise, eight miles distant. Black and white photograph coloured by hand. Photo taken on the German Valdivia expedition. 1898.
It's really remote:
  • 54.43 degrees South, 3.38 degrees West
  • 1,100 miles from the coast of Antarctica
  • 1,700 miles from Cape Town, South Africa
  • 2,600 miles from the southern tip of South America
  • 3,200 miles from Buenos Aires
Since most helicopters have only a short range, I think the helicopter that made the landing probably made most of the journey from South Africa carried on board a ship. The helicopter landing on Bouvet Eiland wasn't made with an Oryx. The landing occurred in 1966, the Oryx didn't fly until 20 years later.

Update December 2021 found a related video on YouTubeWhy is Bouvet Island a Part of Norway?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Houses and Money

It occurred to me the other day that it doesn't take any more money to live in a big house than it does to rent a small apartment, providing that the house is paid for. Take someone who has lived in the same house for 30 years and diligently paid their mortgage every month, or someone who inherited a house, or won the lottery and bought it outright. Doesn't matter how they got it, once the mortgage is paid off, the expenses don't go away, but they are considerably reduced. Going by my own experience, annual property taxes on a house are going to about 1% of the market value. Utilities and insurance are about the same. A mortgage or rent for a house or apartment is about 1% of the market value per month.
    Twenty years ago when I built my house, construction costs were about $100 per square foot of interior floor space. These days I think it is more like $200. A small apartment with 500 square feet is going to cost $100,000 to build and is going to rent for $1,000 a month. A 2500 square foot house will cost about a half million dollars to buy and about a $1,000 a month to maintain (taxes and utilities).
    $200 for a square foot of floor space sounds like a lot money for a little bit of plywood, drywall, shingles, tarpaper,  carpet, pad, insulation, paint, wires, pipes, nails and glue, but that's the problem with houses: there is just an endless list of stuff that goes into them. And then you start looking at upgrades like thicker insulation and double glazed windows and upgraded appliances and fancier trim levels and you can easily spend all the money in the world on your shelter/cave.
    If you own a house, moving is expensive. With realtor's fees and title insurance fees and miscellaneous fees it can easily be 10% of the price of the house, and that doesn't include moving expenses. Some people don't like paying realtors, but I find them well worth while for the amount of headache they save. They might also get you more money. If you price your house 10% under its market value you are losing more than a realtor would cost. Pricing your house is a black art, something realtors understand.

John LeFevre

What we have here is some tales of high class people behaving badly. Some of it is very entertaining.

I started with Good riddance, Gawker! by John LeFevre because Gawker has been in the news. But who is this John LeFevre? He wrote The Roadshow (aka The Worst Private Plane Trip Of All-Time), which led to this book Straight to Hell by John LeFevre (Amazon link).
Elevator to the Bottom by Philip Delves Broughton is a review of the book,

Heroin, or a Businessman's Perspective on the Drug Trade

Excerpt from EL CHAPO AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE HEROIN CRISIS by Don Winslow, writing in Esquire, quoted in The Wall Street Journal

Okay, I'm going to say it: The heroin epidemic was caused by the legalization of marijuana.

We wanted legal weed, and for the most part, we got it. Four states have legalized it outright, others have decriminalized it, and in many jurisdictions police refuse to enforce the laws that are on the books, creating a de facto street legalization.

Good news, right?

Not for the Sinaloa Cartel, which by the time Colorado passed Amendment 64 in 2012 had become the dominant cartel in Mexico. Weed was a major profit center for them, but suddenly they couldn't compete against a superior American product that also had drastically lower transportation and security costs.

In a single year, the cartel suffered a 40 percent drop in marijuana sales, representing billions of dollars. Mexican marijuana became an almost worthless product. They've basically stopped growing the shit: Once-vast fields in Durango now lie fallow.

More good news, right?

Yeah, no. Guzmán and his boys are businessmen. They're not going to take a forty-point hit and not do something about it. They had to make up those profits somewhere.

Looking at the American drug market as it existed, Guzmán and his partners saw an opportunity. An increasing number of Americans were addicted to prescription opioids such as Oxycontin.

And their addiction was expensive. One capsule of Oxy might sell on the street for thirty dollars, and an addict might need ten hits a day.

Well, shit, they thought. We have some of the best poppy fields in the world. Opium, morphine, Oxy, heroin—they're basically the same drug, so …

The Sinaloa Cartel decided to undercut the pharmaceutical companies. They increased the production of Mexican heroin by almost 70 percent, and also raised the purity level, bringing in Colombian cooks to create "cinnamon" heroin as strong as the East Asian product. They had been selling a product that was about 46 percent pure, now they improved it to 90 percent.

Their third move was classic market economics—they dropped the price. A kilo of heroin went for as much as $200,000 in New York City a few years ago, cost $80,000 in 2013, and now has dropped to around $50,000. More of a better product for less money: You can't beat it.

At the same time, American drug and law-enforcement officials, concerned about the dramatic surge in overdose deaths from pharmaceutical opioids (165,000 from 1999 to 2014), cracked down on both legal and illegal distribution, opening the door for Mexican heroin, which sold for five to ten bucks a dose.

But pill users were not accustomed to the potency of this new heroin. Even heroin addicts were taken by surprise.

As a result, overdose deaths have skyrocketed, more than doubling from 2000 to 2014. More people—47,055—died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any other year in American history. (Perhaps the most famous of these, Philip Seymour Hoffman, died on February 2, 2014, right at the height of the epidemic.) That's 125 people a day, more than five lives every hour, a fatality level that matched the AIDS epidemic's peak in 1995.


Don has a great deal to say about the Mexican drug cartels, but he doesn't have much to say about the American Drug Distribution Cartels, where according to my back-of-the-envelope calculations 90% of the profits are made.


Today's Wondermark

Pun of the Day

Today's Shoe

Trump wants to be President - Not

Is Trump Purposely Sabotaging His Campaign?
Medium dot com has a story by Michael Moore. I don't know if he is serious or not, but it's entirely speculative, entirely believable, and pretty funny.

This is the same Michael Moore who stirred up some minor shitstorms with his films, like Bowling for Columbine, which is the only one I've seen.

Word of the Day

Gold Star Family - The term Gold Star family is a modern reference that comes from the Service Flag. These flags/banners were first flown by families during World War I. The flag included a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces of the United States, during any period of war or hostilities in which the armed forces of the United States were engaged. If that loved one died, the blue star was replaced by a gold star. This allowed members of the community to know the price that the family had paid in the cause of freedom.
 Peter doesn't much care for Hillary, to put it mildly. Can't say as I blame him. She is the very model of a limousine Bolshevik, and I don't much care for them. Now, in case you haven't been paying attention, Khizr Khan (a Hillary supporter) and the Donald have been throwing verbal bombs at each other. Doing a little point and click on this controversy takes me to Snopes dot com where I find this new-to-me term.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Live from Trona

Toro y Moi - Live from Trona Trailer

Live from Trona? Where the heck is Trona? Looks like Mars, except no space suits. It's in San Bernardino County California, which sounds like Los Angeles, but if you look at the map, San Bernardino County is huge.

San Bernardino County covers the entire area between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Trona is in northwest corner of the county.
Trona is next to Searles Lake and smack in-between the North and South ranges of the China Lake Naval Weapons Testing  Center (the big gray blocks). Google won't tell you what the gray blocks are but Wikimapia will. We've been to Mars (lower right corner) before.
Trona Pinnacles. Kind of looks like the pinnacles are underwater.
They probably were, some infinitely long time ago.
The video (top) was recorded at the Trona Pinnacles: "The Pinnacles are recognizable in more than a dozen hit movies. Over thirty film projects a year are shot among the tufa pinnacles, including backdrops for car commercials and sci-fi movies and television series . . ."

As for Tory Y Moi's music, well, I'll leave that for someone else to talk about.

Update June 2019 replaced missing Vimeo video with trailer from YouTube.

Light Bulbs

Many, happy, 60 watt incandescent light bulbs. Burn, baby, burn!
My house runs on 60 watt incandescent light bulbs. Half the ceiling fixtures use them, and most of them are fully enclosed. I'm looking on Amazon because I need some and I don't want to have to remember to get them and I can't put them on the list because I may not be the one going to the store, and I'm not going to put the burden of finding the right light bulb on my wife. I mean, I have a hard time finding the bulb I need when I go to the store. (Am I being sexist? Maybe. Maybe I'm just picky, or cheap. Or maybe my wife and I have divided the household chores and I got the light bulb straw.)
       So I'm looking on Amazon and there's a 12-pack of old fashioned incandescents right at the top for $14 which makes them only a little over a dollar a piece. There are a zillion other varieties and being a glutton for punishment I take a look at a couple. I need bulbs that will work outside in the dead of winter, so no CFL's (Compact Flourescent Lights), they take forever to come up to full brightness. They might be getting better in this regard, but I don't think cold weather will help and I don't want to spend the time to find out. Then there's LED's which have come way down in price so they might almost be worth trying EXCEPT you can't use them in enclosed fixtures.
Question: can i use this bulb indoor on an enclosed ceiling fixture?
Answer: Philips recommends against it. The base of the bulb has this printed on it: "not for use in totally enclosed luminaires". The box says nothing about this restriction, which I feel is quite misleading. I have yet to see a Philips LED bulb that is rated for use in totally enclosed fixtures. 

By rrr on June 21, 2016
That's just weird. I would think that if a fixture can handle the tremendous amount of heat generated by an incandescent bulb, it should be able to handle the minimal amount of heat coming from an LED. I mean 100 watts versus 8 watts, you shouldn't even be able to detect the heat from an LED bulb. But that's Philips for you. Corporate new doublespeak at its finest.


10 Minute Countdown Radial Timer with Beeps

We cleaned out the brush in my tiny piece of swamp land and now we're trying to grow some grass there. It's doesn't have to be grass, just anything green that isn't Himalayan blackberries, or the trashy trees that shoot up out of the ground and spread dead branches everywhere. Nice soft, civilized greenery is what we want, and grass seed is cheap, so grass.
    Well grass seed needs water, but as we are on the verge of a swamp, we don't need much, so I need a timer. I've got one, I've had it for years, and it's been great, but this morning I cannot find it. Hey! I remember seeing a timer on the internet once, so I look and this is what I found. I like it because it has pretty colors. You can adjust the time to anything less then ten minutes by simply sliding the position indicator.
    This particular timer beeps once a minute. The last beep is louder, but it is still only one beep. This one might be good if you are not going anywhere, but I really need one that will not stop until somebody tells it to. It also needs to gradually increase in volume so that I will eventually hear it wherever I am. I do suppose we need some kind of limit. A beep that could be heard miles away might qualify as a weapon mass of destruction, and trying to get back to turn the timer off before the next beep goes would likely have fatal consequences. So maybe I should just sit here while the timer is running.

P.S. I can't find my downstairs reading glasses either. And yesterday I searched high and low for a piece of rope I knew I had, but it wasn't until I went to Lowes and bought a new piece that I found it. The curse of stuff has descended on me and if I don't get a handle on it I am liable to be crushed.

P.P.S. The link about Himalayan blackberries goes to King County, which is where Seattle is. All the Oregon links go to PDF files, which have some advantages on a real computer where you can have non-invasive PDF reader programs. I've got some PDF forms to fill out and Chromebooks PDF reader doesn't support the filling-in of PDF files. Well, actually I don't know that. The files I need to fill out may not support it, in which case it wouldn't matter if the reader did or not, but I use it so rarely I can't tell you whether it does or not. So I tried a couple of other PDF readers, but they produce these notices that want you to grant access to all of your files. What the hell is this? No, I don't want you messing with my files, I want to be the only one messing with my files. These programs may (are probably) only doing things at your direction, like any text editor or word processor, but that's not the way these access control dialogs are presenting it. It sounds like you are giving some unknown agency (aliens for Centauri Prime, maybe?) free reign to trample all over your file system.  No, just no.

Driving to the Airport?

Seems like I drive to PDX at least once a month. Somebody is leaving or arriving or departing or returning. It takes about 45 minutes each way and from zero to infinity minutes at the terminal. For most arrivals and some departures I will pay the $3 required to park in the world's best parking garage and walk on in, so this story about doing the airport shuffle at LAX is near to my heart.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Quote of the Day

Mombasa, Kenya, maybe?
I think this is potentially a side-effect of African culture, you spend your whole life being punished and reprimanded when you fail and all of a sudden someone is telling you that failure is good. What do you mean?Wiza Jalakasi
 Most all of the stories I hear about Africa are horrible, sad, depressing and miserable. Wiza's story is the first one I've heard in a while that gives any indication that there might be some civilization there. Actually, there must be a great deal of civilization. We just never hear about any of the good stuff.

This might be the website he was involved with.

This story came to me via Medium's newsletter. The picture that was included with the teaser (four young Africans at some kind of contest) put me off. It looked suspiciously like one of these meaningless feel-good contests that are often featured in the news. They might be good for building self-esteem, and it might be a good learning experience, but there is no substance to it, or is there? Read the story anyway and got a very different perspective.

Word of the Day

  1. a person entitled to heraldic arms.

Out and about, I saw this decal on a car. The driver tells me he is an 'armature', and this is the 'badge' of his house. Okay, the word is armiger, not armature, and there is a website devoted to heraldry, coats of arms and all the associated do-dads, cumberbunds, etc., etc. and so on.

Good Intentions

Autonomous Haulage System trucks at the West Angelas mine, Western Australia.
Rio Tinto is automating their iron ore mines in Australia. It's saving the company some money which is always good from a business perspective, but on the other hand it is putting a lot of people out of work, which is really bad because, well, unemployment. Well, unemployment is big problem in the USA, I don't know how it is in Australia, although it doesn't sound good.
More than 38,000 mining jobs were lost in Australia between May 2012 and December 2014 due to cutbacks and the introduction of more efficient work practices and new technologies. . . .
“You will tend to lose the boring, repetitive jobs performed in the 50 degrees [centigrade] heat in the Pilbara but you can also create new innovative roles in analysing data and developing technology,” [Dr Boehl] said. - Financial Times
50 degrees C is 122 degrees American, which is pretty dang hot. Not as hot as some of the places in the Mideast and Africa where temperatures can get up to 140, but still pretty dang hot.

When I was a kid I was willing to work but I wanted a job that paid money. I think a lot of young people are like that. If I had managed to luck into a job that paid real money I might have stuck with it and even now I might be doing the same thing over and over again in some union shop somewhere. But I didn't. So I'd work a job for six months or a year until 1) I had mastered the job, and 2) I was sick to death of making $2 an hour, and then I would go look for something else. I did that for eight years until I finally wised up and realized my old man was right and I should go back to school and get a degree, which happened to be in Computer Science. And here I am unemployed. Or retired. Hard to tell.

Via the other Chuck.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Intellectual Phase Locking (12:00)

Rupert Sheldrake - The Science Delusion BANNED TED TALK

Rupert has some interesting ideas. If the data he sites are real, then there is some real funny business going on. On the other hand, no one seems to have any explanation for any of these things, and even if they do there doesn't seem to be anything to be done about, or with, it. Maybe his comments will provoke someone to look a little deeper into these things, and perhaps someone will gain some insight and we will make a great leap forward in our understanding of how the universe works. Or maybe not. Meanwhile we can continue to slog along with our mechanistic view of the universe.
    Reminds me of Plato's view that our perception of reality is akin to watching shadows on the cave wall, or the philosophy of Ibn Sina who had a similar view.

Via Dennis.

Dove Satellite & The Protestant Work Ethic

Dove Photo Reconnaissance Satellite. The lens is about the size of a coffee cup. The main body is about one foot long.
The Planet company built these tiny satellites and handed them over to NASA to get them into orbit. NASA carries them to the ISS (International Space Station) and then they get booted out the door (launch the probe, Mr. Data). There are a handful if LEO (Low Earth Orbit) now, but they expect to launch around 100 more. They claim a resolution of 3 to 5 meters, so they probably tell you how many cars are in the Walmart parking lot, but they won't be able to tell you the license numbers or even the make and model. Via a story in the real paper version of the WSJ.
     The data is freely available, though you would need a small server farm to record it all, and then you would need some sophisticated image processing software in order to extract any useful information from it, which is Planet's stock in trade.
     Making the data freely available follows the open data model. I followed that link because in these days of euphemistic naming practices, who knows what 'open data' really means? Therein I found this little tidbit:
Merton Thesis
The Merton Thesis is an argument about the nature of early experimental science proposed by Robert K. Merton. Similar to Max Weber's famous claim on the link between Protestant ethic and the capitalist economy, Merton argued for a similar positive correlation between the rise of Protestant Pietism and early experimental science. The Merton Thesis has resulted in continuous debates. Although scholars are still debating it, Merton's 1936 doctoral dissertation (and two years later his first monograph by the same title) Science, Technology and Society in 17th-Century England raised important issues on the connections between religion and the rise of modern science, became a significant work in the realm of the sociology of science and continues to be cited in new scholarship.
I've heard this bit about the Protestant work ethic before. Not sure if I agree with it, but if you have been immersed in such a culture since day one, could you even tell? Fictional Russian billionaires have a different view.

Max Weber's book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism book is available on Amazon.