Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sun City & Pilanesberg National Park

Sun City & Pilanesberg National Park
Pilanesberg National Park is a wildlife reserve in South Africa, a couple of hours northwest of Pretoria. It's kind of cool because it's like somebody dropped this circle of hills in the middle of an otherwise featureless plain. You might think it is the site of an old meteor impact, but the rockhounds tell us it's the remains of a billion year old volcano. The Ngorongoro Conservation Area in Tanzania is another old volcano that has become a wildlife preserve. Daring daughter was there a few years ago. I mentioned this at lunch the other day and Jack mentions the Richat Structure, which is neither an old volcano nor an impact crater. Then I recall something about a big crater in the Congo. Did I post something about it? I did.

Africa Craters
Impact Craters in Blue. Other structures in Burnt Ochre.
All this prompted me to plot all these various features on a map of Africa.

Update March 2019 embellished map caption and added link.

Theory of Fat

Mmmm, Cheeseburger
Getty Images/iStockphoto / Vladimir Vladimirov
I am on a diet, sort of. I'm trying to lose some weight. I was up to 265 pounds a couple of years ago and got down to 225 last summer, but now I'm up to about 240. Then today I saw a story by Carrie Dennett. It's the first story about this whole business of eating that made any sense. I recommend it to your attention. I suspect my biggest problem is that I am not sleeping well. Lately I've been resorting to Benadryl, which knocks me out for about four hours which is great if I am still awake at three in the morning, but it's not like getting a real good night's sleep.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Project Binky Q & A

Project Binky - Unplugged. Q&A Session Volume 2

I don't know what's going on with me today. Usually I don't have the patience to watch a video that's longer than a couple-three minutes, but this is the third long one today. Maybe they are more interesting than most, or maybe I am just calmer. Hard to say.

This video, along with being entertaining, has a couple of interesting bits. My friend Jack was been working on making a right angle adapter for his milling machine. This project involves a fair bit of machining, cutting and welding. Along the way he has found that several of his tools that he thought were properly aligned were in fact not, which meant hours spent making them right. The bit about hole saw at the five minute mark in the above video provides a good illustration. Welding is tricky. Our two characters have something to say about it just after the 17 minute mark.


The Disappearing Spoon, The Rooster and the Bearded Russian

This video showed up in inbox and being as I was in receptive state, I watched it. I liked hearing about the history of the periodic table.

[593] Gallium vs. Titalium - Abus Padlock Meets a Gruesome End

Then this video pops up. I've seen other lock picking videos before, possibly even by this same lock-picking lawyer, but they've never involved chemistry. Gallium is a very strange metal.

Gallium Vs Glass

So what else does YouTube have about Gallium? A whole bunch of stuff, but I thought this one was worth including.

Gallium Metal
Okay, the second video was made by a lawyer, and since all lawyers are rich, if he want's to spend a zillion dollars destroying a lock, he can. Turns out you can buy a small quantity (20 grams) from Amazon for not much money ($20), which works out to be a dollar a gram, so a pound of the stuff would set you back $454.

I've heard about these properties of Gallium, but watching the videos makes these strange properties much more real.

Gallium spoons are sold out on Amazon, but they do have a do-it-yourself kit.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Quote of the Day

Surveillance video released of shootout at gas station on Indianapolis' northeast side
"Hey, Tam, I'm in Indianapolis for a week and I'd like to get into a gunfight. Where should I go?"  - View From The Porch


Honda Civic DX hatchback with Chattering Skull Brake Lights, one of the most annoying customization features imaginable. PHOTO BY MURILEE MARTIN
A Hooptie is any car that meets the following:
a) driver must enter car through passenger side
b) three different brand and size tires - 3 of them missing hubcaps
c) exhaust is held up by half a clothes hanger - other half replaces the antenna
d) backfires every three blocks - loudest backfire being when car is turned off
e) must open door at drive-threws as windows don't roll down
f) you only get one AM station and the tape deck eats all tapes inserted
g) can't open the glove box as the whole thing will fall out
h) if you let go of steering wheel while driving you'll make a u-turn
i) must manually move blinker lever up and down as it no longer blinks on it's own
j) must keep one foot on brake and one on accelerator when at a complete stop
k) has had the same temporary registration sticker in the window for the last 18 months
l) has all the above issues but still has a $200 professional tint job
Reformatted from Urban Dictionary because that's who I am / what I do. Via Dustbury

Sunday, January 28, 2018


Coast Range
Younger son and drove out to the Coast Range this afternoon to send some soda cans to their maker. Stopped at Bi-Mart in Forest Grove to buy ammunition.
  • a box of 300 22's, 
  • a handful of 20 gauge slugs for the shotgun along with 
  • a box of target shells.
  • 4 boxes of 9mm
They didn't have any ammo for the AK (7.62 x 39) or for the SVT (7.62 x 54). The bill was just shy of $100.

We drove around for a while looking for a place to shoot. We went up Jones Creek Road but there were lots of people around, maybe a couple of dozen, on motorcycles mostly but also some people with Kayaks. We also tried Hoskins Road. It was a little rough. There were numerous small rocks on the road. They looked to be about 4" tall, but they were big enough to bang into the underside of the car. The road just kept going up and up and eventually our way was blocked by a small slide. The pickup truck could have made it, but we were in the low slung Hyundai, so we turned around.

We ended up on Cedar Butte Road about 2 miles from the Wilson River Highway. We were pretty much in the clouds. We could see the area right around us, but the hills half a mile away were invisible. Since we were in the clouds it was misting pretty heavily.

No problems from the MAK-90, though we only had a dozen rounds for it. We brought two semi-automatic handguns, one 9mm and one 22 caliber. Both of them had occasional trouble feeding. Might be because they haven't been cleaned, oiled or even used lately.

I might be getting old, or maybe I am just more relaxed, but shooting the 22 was actually enjoyable. It didn't used to be that way. A 22 used to make such a small bang that it didn't feel like it was even worth shooting. 22's have the advantage of being cheap to shoot, but they don't give you same visceral thrill as shooting larger calibers.

Assassin's Creed

On HBO. Not a great movie, but it had some good stuff. The whole sci-fi genetic memory thing was kind of bogus especially since they started with an executed convict. La Nikita Femme might have started the revive-the-executed-criminal trope, The giant robotic arm was pretty cool though.

Okay, half of the movie is set in the present and half is set back in 1492 in Spain back when the Templars were trying to kick the last of the Moors out of Spain. Naturally the Templars are the bad guys. The Assassins are with the Moors. Whether they actually were ever in Spain is something for people to argue about.

There is a good scene where The Inquistion is putting on a big public show of burning some heretics. The have a huge audience. People can accept anything if they are properly introduced to it. Executions used to be public. Not so anymore. Not quite sure why that is. There is also a good scene of a cathedral under construction, and another of the inside of the cathedral where Christopher Columbus was interred.

The Highest Free Falls in YEARS - ASSASSIN'S CREED Movie [Making-Of]

I came across this video while looking for stuff about the movie. They filmed a guy jumping from 125 feet because they wanted the realism of a real person jumping as opposed to a computer generated character, BUT they didn't do it on the set, which means they had to fill in the background, and they certainly used the computer for that. I supposed they could have taken a picture of the set and then merged the two, but if you have the set why not do the jump there? Which makes me think the background is computer generated. There was a lot of CGI in this movie, but it was very good CGI. Some of stunts in the fight scenes were a little over the top.

Cold Welcome

I finished the book this evening. I just picked it up Thursday afternoon at Powell's and I'm already done. I think that's something of a recent record. Not too many books are easy enough to read and keep me interested. Easy as in smooth, well written, the words slow smoothly by.

Grace Darling Lifeboat Rescue
Space travel doesn't figure much in the tale. It's mostly a tale of surviving in a lifeboat in the North Atlantic during a winter storm and then washing up on the shore of Greenland. Well, the first half of the book is, and it's not the North Atlantic and Greenland, it's some other ocean on some other human-habitable planet.  Slotter Key, that's the name of it.

The second half of the book involves exploring a giant underground military base, empty at the moment, but well stocked and equipped, so maybe they only use this place during the summer.  There is something odd about this place though. Most everything is normal, but they run into something they don't understand, like the lights or the remote controls, things that are just odd enough they must be alien or very old. Nothing like what anyone uses now. But I don't remember aliens in any of Ms. Moon's early sci-fi adventures, so this a new twist. Then again, they might not be aliens, they just might be really old.

Space Mercenaries
The main thrust of the story is how do you protect two dozen people when a couple hundred heavily armed, blood-thirsty men are coming to kill you in four days? Ky's strategy is to abandon their safe underground redoubt and run away. You have mystery vehicles you can ride in, but they only go 15 MPH and we don't know what kind of range they have. You could travel on the surface. Traveling for 24 hours a day, you ought to be able to cover 300 miles, baring impassible abysses which are common enough in places where there are no maps. (What do you think happened to all the map makers who ventured into these uncharted areas?)

Or you could follow the mystery tunnel. It's mostly a tunnel, there are doors off to the side occasionally, but we ignore them, press on! is the order of the day. This is Ky's choice. They drive for 12 hours a day and then they stop to rest and recuperate. They travel for 3 days and cover hundreds of miles. This is one really long tunnel. This has got to be aliens.

But wait, this is a space faring civilization, the have some kind of Warp drive that lets them travel to nearby stars in a matter of days. I'm pretty sure if you can do FTL, digging a tunnel completely around the planet is not out of your reach. Why anyone would do that is, well, crazy people who want to build gravity trains, they would.

Gravity Defying Spaceship
Some of the details about the technology this civilization builds and uses were a little thought provoking. They have interstellar flight, but they don't land their spaceships, they stay in orbit. They have shuttles to carry people and cargo to and from orbit. Of course the military do have star-ships that can land, but they cost extra.

An FTL spaceship is happiest in space. Once you have gotten out of the gravity well, you really don't want to go back in there if you can help it. FTL ships would be happiest navigating between stars, that is about as far out of the gravity well you can get, at least within our galaxy. Coming in toward a star (to visit your parents or pick up some fresh fruit) you are going to have to loose a lot of speed. Not just the speed you accelerated to get here in time for grandma's birthday party, but also the speed you acquired falling down the gravity well to this sun. It would really be nice if we could get a handle on gravity. I'm not really counting on it. We just now managed to detect a gravity wave using very large and expensive machines, and it was a wave from a granddaddy of an explosion, at least in our quadrant of the universe. I'm more in favor of whatever comes after the fusion rocket, say, 500 years down the road.
Space Elevator
Anyway, shuttles are a really terrible way to get up to orbit and back. Surely if they can build FTL spaceships they could build a space elevator, but then I realized that you would need a serious amount of interstellar traffic in order to justify the construction of one. That's how we build bridges, you need to have the demand first in order make building a bridge, or a space elevator, a viable proposition.  Building a space elevator would be an enormous undertaking, not to mention that we don't know how to do it yet. This is a world that was only colonized a few hundred years ago, so while interstellar trade exists, it isn't swamping their ability to handle it.

Everyone has a smart phone implanted in their head, well, everyone except those weirdos in that one weird sect. Mizzy-something. They don't. Ky also has an ansible, science-fiction's solution for instantaneous interstellar communication, implanted in her head as well. Now I can't remember any reference to the power for the skullphones, but Ky has to connect her head to a power outlet with a wire in order to run the ansible. This to me just sounds like a really bad idea. Anything using that much power is sure to be giving a noticeable amount of heat unless it's turning that energy into instantaneous quantum fluctuations. And why carry it around in your head if you need to plug it in anyway?

Terry Farrell as Jadzia Dax on Star Trek Deep Space 9
There could be reasons, like it's some kind living organic mesh that lies on top of your brain and communicates directly with your synapses. So it's not just a bad idea, now it's creepy too. But then there was that really good looking babe on Star Trek that was hosting a living symbiot. That was a little creepy. Good looking woman, but the creep factor was a little disturbing. What if that thing in her decided to colonize your brain and it was able to do that because the girl favored you (biblically, so to speak)?

Or it could be a function of the times, like somebody figured out how to a do a brain to computer interface, and the first computers they used were so small and such low power that a power cable wasn't needed. Maybe they used a radioactive battery like a pacemaker does, or maybe they had a flexible device that generated power when it got bent. Or maybe they had some kind of organic-chemical battery that sucked oxygen from your blood, or electrons from your neurons. Whatever, it wasn't an issue, but the brain-computer interface was such a hit, people started using it for all kind of things, and when the ansible came along, implanting it seemed like the logical solution, because it uses this same brain-computer interface as the skullphones all use. So it uses a little extra power, we'll just give her a cable and she can plug it into the wall. It is a prototype after all, not our fault if she fries herself.

Bear Claw
There is one scene at the end where our heroes are being closely pursued by the bad guys. They can hear the bad guys climbing the stairs a dozen flights behind them. But now the passageway ends in a mountain cave home to a hibernating bear. Our heroes manage to sneak by, but you just know the bad guys aren't going to be the least sneaky and they are going to wake up bear and there is going to be hell to pay for all concerned. On one hand I want our intrepid band to block the stairway. It's basically a small passage in a mountain, a cave if you will. Of course a blast big enough to block the stairs is liable to upset the bear as well.  Kind of a tough choice, especially since you didn't bring any dynamite with you. Or rock-drills, which you kind of need if you are blasting in rock.

Then there is the business of anti-gravity aboard the spaceships and the existence of tractor beams. If you have these, then what do you need with aircraft and space shuttles? Okay, they are technology heavy and you can't justify using them if ordinary methods will get the job done. Space ships get anti-gravity because it's just a side benefit of being able to warp space. Kind of like an automobile heater is a side benefit of having an internal combustion engine*. Great Aunt Grace has tractor beams holding up the driveway to her corporate headquarters. Don't want anybody driving up to your front door? Just turn off the tractor beams and suddenly big holes appear in your driveway. At least that's how I interpreted what I read.

So it's a rough and tumble sort of story with plenty of action and people dealing with daily problems. But there is also another thread about the stability of society. There was a civil war within living memory here and apparently not everyone is satisfied with the way it turned out. On the surface all is calm, but treachery lurks in the shadows, and there are lots of shadows here. The corruption is well entrenched and runs deep. I look at what's going on in the world and it's not that much different than what's in the story.

Look at our world. For instance, Russia has always gotten bad press. First when they were Communist and now with Putin in charge and they are resurgent once again. I suspect that at the higher levels things aren't much different than they are here. Oh, maybe Putin will have you killed if he finds something about you that he doesn't like, but over here they just ruin your life to the point where maybe you wish you were dead.

I'm all in favor of rooting out corruption, but there doesn't seem to be any end to it. Maybe it's just the nature of our society. Maybe that would change if we just changed a couple of the rules. But what rules could those be? I was thinking it would have to be small change, but with the right propaganda we could implement almost anything. So basically anything is on the table, but I really don't know what the rule would be.

* Internal combustion engines that throw off a whole bunch of waste heat. Two thirds of the energy from the fuel they burn is wasted. The amount of heat produced by the heater is a small fraction of the energy available.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Fire Control

Fire Control

It's kind of an insane idea, I mean who wants a multi-ton machine balancing precariously on two wheels, splitting lanes in downtown traffic? There are just too many ways for this to go wrong, but using a giant octopter to haul a fire hose umpteen stories into the air might have some merit.

Posthip Scott sent me the video. It is obviously the work of one Semenov Dahir Kurmanbievich, a crazy Russian inventor, though this particular video isn't on his YouTube channel.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Pic of the Day

Airbus KC-30A refueling two jet fighters
over Avalon Australia


3-D Printed Object with supports
Marc made a thing using a 3-D printer. It looked kind of like a cross between a glass cathedral and a radio transmitting tower. It was roughly triangular, about 4" x 4" x 6". Most of it was composed of whisker thin struts about a centimeter long. I'm looking at this thing and I'm wonder what kind of drugs he was taking that enabled him to design such a complex and elaborate structure, whereupon he points out that all of the spindly stuff is just an artifact of the printing process that will be trimmed off. The part he was intent on was a roughly rectangular piece about a quarter of an inch thick. It was set at an angle because that was the only way it would fit within the printer's working area.

This morning someone on Quora asked if you make an electric motor using a 3-D printer. As far as I know you can't, at least not yet. We have printers that print plastic and we have printers that print metal, but none that will do both. Also printing plastic can achieve much better results than printing metal. I surface of the part Marc printed was perfectly smooth to the touch and it was printed on an angle. If it was printed flat I could see that any printer could make a smooth surface, but for it to be this smooth at an angle, the resolution must be pretty dang high, better than one-thousandth of an inch. The resolution of one metal printer I've heard of is probably somewhere on the order of a tenth of an inch.

All of which reminds me of a science fiction story I read a long time ago about Joe's Garage where they repaired spaceships. It was a going concern. Customers brought in their broken rockets and space tugs and Joe's gang would fit new rocket motors or replace the fuel tanks or clean the air filters, and everything went as smoothly as any kind of repair operation ever does. Until some aliens showed up with a broken spaceship they wanted fixed. This would not normally be a problem, aliens showed up with their weird alien ships ever once in a while and Joe's gang would hammer out some kind of fix.

This ship however was a different kettle of fish. The started looking at it and quickly realized that it a couple of orders of magnitude more sophisticated than anything they are worked on before. In fact, the ship wasn't built in the conventional sense, the whole thing was printed on the molecular level. Any repairs they did would have to done using the same technique, but nobody at Joe's, and nobody they knew, knew how to do this. So they chloroformed the aliens and scanned their brains to find out how to do this. Once they had the information they built their own molecular printer and fixed the ship. The aliens weren't too happy about being chloroformed and having their brains scanned, but they were happy that their ship was fixed.

So now I'm thinking about space travel and how if you have a ship suitable for long distance travel, you really don't want to be bringing down to the ground. That just complicates the situation. It's better to use a craft specifically designed for the purpose to get off a planet and up into orbit, or from orbit to the ground. But what we really want is a space elevator. Haven't heard much lately, but I expect that eventually some whiz kid will come up a material that is strong enough to take the load.

The problem with having a tether out in space is that it is going to subject to strikes by micrometeorites, which means the tether is liable to break. I can see two ways of dealing with this problem. One is to run repair crew up and down the tether on a regular basis, patching all the holes made by micrometeorites, and the other would be to replace the tether on a regular basis. It kind of depends on the available technology.  Patching something on the molecular level would be a bit of a trick, kind of like what Joe's crew did with the alien spaceship. Replacing the tether on a regular basis might be a better solution, especially if you could recycle the old tether for use as material for the new.

Thursday, January 25, 2018


Beaverton Police & Court
Delinquent daughter got a letter from the Department of Motor Vehicles last week telling her that her driving license was about to be suspended unless she took care of an unresolved court case. What unresolved court case? Some digging reveals that a speeding ticket was issued last fall. Since she doesn't remember getting stopped by the police, and you would remember something like that, we concluded that she was caught by an automatic speed camera, and since the ticket claims she was going 35 MPH in 20 MPH zone it was probably a school zone. The bill, if we are willing to simply pay it, is $525.

Well, no, we're not willing to pay it. Yes, she is liable for her own bills, but she is a student and I am financing her education, therefor we are not going to pay it if there is any way we can squirm out of it. So today we went down to the Municipal Court and looked at their evidence which were two grainy laser printed copies of photographs. One supposedly shows the driver. I couldn't even tell if there was a person behind the wheel but the delinquent claims she recognized her husband. The other photo shows the car's Florida license plate which explains why she hadn't heard about this ticket - they sent the notice to Florida.

Our only hope of getting out of paying the fine is to go to night court. We have a couple of hours to kill so we go over to the local Powell's Bookstore at Cedar Hills Crossing, the number 2 mall in the immediate area. I picked up a copy of Cold Welcome by Elizabeth Moon, one of my favorite authors. She started with science fiction and then wandered off into some other genres for a bit. I read most of her science fiction and some of her other stuff and she's great. For this one, she has returned to science fiction and it promises to be another swashbuckling space opera just like her others. I had a Powell's gift card so it didn't cost me any cash.

On our way out I took a stroll through the mall and was disappointed to see half a dozen empty store fronts. Not many people there either, but it was Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile the parking lot is being colonized by restaurants. The mall is still in good shape but these empty shops are making the future look gloomy. I'm kind of surprised since Beaverton has the worst traffic in the world. I avoid it if all possible.

Court was pretty straight forward. The delinquent told her tale and the judge forgave her the $200 surcharge for not dealing with it in time, and since she wasn't driving the car she could file a 'certificate of innocence' (pdf) that would relieve her of the obligation to pay the fine. Now if the police decide that it really does look like her in the photo, they can press the case, but given the image they have to work with I think that is unlikely. She did have to pay a $15 fee for the suspension letter from the DMV. So spending the afternoon in Beaverton saved us $500.

The judge was very young looking. I thought maybe 25, the delinquent thought he was in his late 30's. I suppose that's okay, I mean judges gotta start somewhere right? But then we do a little more checking and find out the he used to be a she. Shocked I am. I mean I hear all the noise made by the rainbow folks, but I pretty much ignore it. I've only run into a few gay people and they generally behave much like straight folks, but I think this was my first run in with a trans-gender person. Well first that I know of anyway. And I couldn't have told that from seeing them in court. It was only from Google that we learned this.

P.S. The speed trap was in front of Jesuit High School on Beaverton-Hilsdale Highway. Who puts a school next to a highway? Beaverton, that's who.

P.P.S. The book link goes to Amazon. Powell's only has the audio-book listed.

Optimization Problem, Part 2

Cargo Load Planning & Optimization
I finally got my simple minded scheme to work, as in 'complete the task', only to find that it didn't work at all, meaning the distribution of boxes earned me a Delta score in the thousands as opposed to a value less than one. (You write your program and then run it on the web page and Codingame calculates your score / pulls a number out of a hat).

Reading over the description of the problem, and taking my first impression of the data, it appeared that while the volume that each truck could contain was limited, it wasn't really a deciding factor. After all, what we are really concerned with is weight. It turns out that volume IS a big factor because if you don't pack each truck as full as possible, you won't have enough room for all the boxes. So I chucked out all the bits of code related to weight and now the program is only half as long and much simpler. It runs more reliably (it runs to completion on all of the test cases) but it still gets an abysmal score.

Getting my initial version of the program running was a bit of a chore. The idea was simple enough, but the mechanics of dealing with 4 cases and keeping track of four sets of indices was more than my sleep deprived brain could handle. Eventually though I got some sleep and got it sorted out. And then I discovered that, while my scheme might have worked very well if you were actually loading boxes on trucks, it wasn't going to cut it in this modern age of squeezing every penny until it screams.

This was depressing. Since my quick are dirty scheme doesn't cut the mustard, writing a program to actually solve the problem is going to take quite a bit more work, and do I really want to invest that much effort into something that is just going to get thrown away?

This problem is a 'sponsored challenge', which means some company is behind it and the ultimate prize is you might get offered a job. I'm reasonably certain that 1) no one is ever going to hire me and 2) there are probably a zillion bright young programmers out there who are willing to invest the time and energy to solve this problem. So while it's an interesting problem, and I'm reasonable certain that I could write a program that could do a decent job of allocating loads, I'm not sure that I could make it competitive without a great deal of study and work.

If a problem is fun, that's one thing, but when it becomes work, well,that's when I want to get paid, and I don't see that happening. And for all I know, the company may just steal all the code from the contestants and use it to solve their problem and not actually hire anyone. Which is why there is a growing cadre of disgruntled programs hacking into whatever computer system appeals to them. Not that I would do that, it's too much like work.

Monday, January 22, 2018


Kathy & her underwater camera
Iaman reports: Kathy the scuba photographer cleans underwater camera equipment in kitchen. $ & heavy, it has unshown flotation modules.


It’s important, however, to put this in perspective. Modern humans first show up in the fossil record about 300,000 years ago. For most of the time since then, up until the start of what economist Deirdre McCloskey calls “The Great Enrichment” a few hundred years ago, the average human lived on the equivalent of about $3 per person per day, and the infant mortality rate was as much as fifty times worse that the current U.S. rate. The poorest countries of the world today, including Haiti and Africa, have a quality of life that is still better on average than what most humans have experienced throughout almost our entire existence as a species. In other words, until quite recently, the entire fucking planet was a shithole. - WindyPundit
More about Deirdre McCloskey and The Great Enrichment.

Bayou Renaissance Man has a couple of posts on the subject of shitholes. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Bristol 405

Bristol 405
In Phantom Thread, Reynolds Woodcock, dressmaker to the gilded ones, drives this fancy car. It's not an essential part of the story, but being a gear head I wondered what it was. Now we know and we can go onto more esoteric topics. The movie tells a strange story. Maybe I'll have something to say later on.

Un-Green Clothes

Already, the textile industry accounts for more greenhouse-gas emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined; as recycling markets break down, its contribution could soar. - Bloomberg, via Bayou Renaissance Man
Airlines burn a large quantity of fuel, but I suspect it is less than 10% of what we burn in our automobiles. Big ships consume huge quantities of oil, but they do it slowly, and there are only a few of them operating, at least compared to airliners. So we aren't talking about the end of the world, but textiles? How does textile manufacturing produce so much green-house gas?


Languages of the European Union
The first time I saw this fable it was attributed to Mark Twain. Somehow I doubt he is the original author. I've seen it once or twice since then and I really like it because it makes such good sense. Given how dominate English has become I doubt whether this idea will ever be implemented. The reason I am posting this here today is because of the cute twist that got tacked onto the end.
The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the European Union rather than German, which was the other possibility.
As part of the negotiations, the British Government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a 5- year phase-in plan that would become known as "Euro-English".
In the first year, "s" will replace the soft "c". Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy. The hard "c" will be dropped in favour of "k". This should klear up konfusion, and keyboards kan have one less letter.
There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year when the troublesome "ph" will be replaced with "f". This will make words like fotograf 20% shorter.
In the 3rd year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.
Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling.
Also, al wil agre that the horibl mes of the silent "e" in the languag is disgrasful and it should go away.
By the 4th yer peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing "th" with "z" and "w" with "v".
During ze fifz yer, ze unesesary "o" kan be dropd from vords kontaining "ou" and after ziz fifz yer, ve vil hav a reil sensi bl riten styl.
Zer vil be no mor trubl or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi TU understand ech oza. Ze drem of a united urop vil finali kum tru.
Und efter ze fifz yer, ve vil al be speking German like zey vunted in ze forst plas.
Via Reddit

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Why you shouldn't drive boats while sitting in your electric wheelchair and texting without being able to see over the dashboard.


Title derived from news report. Funny the way we communicate in our modern world. This happened here in Portland Oregon, but I heard about from Iaman who is halfway across the country.

Let's Go Surfin'

Sebastian Steudtner at Nazaré - 2018 Ride of the Year Award Entry - WSL Big Wave Awards

YouTube has a zillion similar videos.

Nazare Canyon
The underwater Nazare Canyon is the reason the waves get so big here.

Via Posthip Scott.

Violet Ray

Violet Ray Machine instruction book cover.

Once upon a time, like the early 20th Century, before WW2, Violet Ray referred to a form of electrotherapy.

Spooky picture of Violet Ray electrotherapy wand

Joseph P. Murphy’s polygon-shaped filling station in LA 
 selling “Violet Ray” anti-knock gasoline.
Or gasoline.

Gas stations gave away roadmaps
Now it's a brand of women's handbags. I suppose it could even be a woman's name. I mean Violet is, all she'd need would be the last name of Ray.

Posthip Scott got me started with the roadmap.

In a Valley of Violence

In a Valley of Violence Movie CLIP - Get Away From My Dog (2016) - Ethan Hawke Movie

Another movie about a mining town that has gone bust. Not too great but not too bad. Quite the variety of characters, quickly sketched. Our hero is likely a deserter from the Indian wars. The local villain is an idiot. John Travolta is the very perceptive sheriff.

The move opens with a scene, and then we get the title and a bunch of credits with simple images in orange and black. The credits drag on for far too long. Very annoying. Put the title up at the beginning and be done with it.

Our hero eventually is forced, naturally, into cleaning out this nest of vipers, but every time he has one of them in his clutches, he waffles. If you subscribe to the Clint Eastwood school of revenge, you don't wait, when it's time to shoot, you shoot, don't talk. But maybe if your head is a little confused you might hesitate. Fortunately, someone else's 16 year old abandoned wife (!?!) knows when to shoot.


Started working on a coding problem over at yesterday. It seemed straight-forward enough until I got down to the real nitty gritty. We have a bunch of boxes that need to be loaded on a bunch of trucks. The boxes are all different sizes and weights and each truck needs to be loaded with about the same weight, so how do we go about figuring out which boxes get loaded on which trucks? My first thought was to use the same scheme you might use to add up all the numbers from one to one hundred: add the largest to the smallest. That worked fine until I found that some of the boxes are bigger than the average load for each truck, so that's going to tilt the scales a bit.

So we load each of the largest boxes onto their own truck, and adjust our average for distributing the rest of them to the remaining trucks. Continuing with my scheme, we pick off the heaviest boxes for our next truck until it would tip us over the average. Now we have four relatively simple cases, we just need to pick the one that will bring us closest to the average. We could:

  1. Leave it as it, so we'll be under.
  2. Add the next largest box, then we'd be over.
  3. Add small boxes while we remain under the limit, or
  4. Add one more small box and go over.
We could sort through all of the boxes and try and find the best combination that would bring us closest to the average, but that could take a lot of fussing, and there is no guarantee that you wouldn't end up with some combination of boxes that would be way off of our target. Besides, this is supposed to be gone quickly. If we had a quantum computer, solving this problem would be a piece of cake, but we don't, so I'm just gonna code this scheme up and see what happens.

Quote of the Day

Talking about airlines:
Please think, indeed, what this says about the sheer agony of Economy Class.
The seats are closer together than the eyes of a movie villain.
The seats are smaller than the mind of your average congressperson.
As for the legroom, well, it wouldn't even fit an average human head, would it? - Chris Matyszczyk
Via FlightAware

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword - Official Comic-Con Trailer [HD]

On HBO, directed by Guy Ritchie of Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels fame. It's a little over-the-top. A little? Are you kidding me? It's way over-the-top. We've got the giant war elephants and the Black Tower from Mordor , dragons, a very good rendition of Cthulhu, sixteen different kinds of magic, and ancient Rome resurrected in Londinium. Plus we've got a hero who just wants to be left alone in the place he has carved out for himself in a society that it totally dominated by the world's worst tyrant. Very entertaining.

Friday, January 19, 2018


HVAC (Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning) stories from the North & South.

Uniberp reports on his latest home improvement project in Michigan:

Goodman  GMH80803BN Forced Air Furnace
I did pretty well last weekend replacing a central forced air 80k BTU 80% efficiency rated furnace.
About a year ago I purchased one online for about $500. Goodman  GMH80803BN.
It sat in the basement until Friday when the blower motor on the old one refused to start blowing.
I got my last dime outta that one.
The output flanges matched the sheet metal, so that fitted well. The furnace case is 5.5" shorter, so the whole thing is sitting on concrete blocks, off the floor, which is standard installation technique. I had to shorten the return plunum by 5.5" also, but that cut off nicely with a throatless electric shear.
Masterforce™ 12-Volt Cordless Metal Shear
...which is a tool I should have had 2 years ago when working on my steel roof.
Had one piece of 1/2 black pipe cut to length and threaded by the clerk at Home Depot, hooked up the gas line, color matched the wiring and humidifier transformer and it ran correctly.
The whole job took about 6 hours, once I got started in earnest Sunday about noon, plus a whole day off recovering from the effort, The house got down to 48 degrees, but I kept the basement/bed/bath warm with the pellet stove.
Now going to Muskegon with renewed confidence in re-building a downdraft crawlspace forced ari heating system. Hope to get out there this weekend.
Iaman relates a couple of stories from Texas:

Milwaukee Hole Hawg
Story 1:
My landlord Sam, an electrician, and I were talking about Dish network techs coming to the house tomorrow to install wiring.  I volunteered to let them in.  He was nervous that the salesman couldn't tell him how the cabling would be routed.  I offered that Dish would probably send a DACA kid with a Milwaukee Hole hog. to perforate his house.

Mobile Home
Story 2:
Sam then related of how he as a 16 YO kid working for his electrician father at $3.35 an hour.  By his lonesome, in his old pickup with a AC A-coil bouncing in the back,  would follow new mobile home trailers down dusty Texas roads to a clearing in the cedar break.  While the truck driver set the home on concrete blocks,  Sam would be in the 140 degree trailer, all of 90 lbs dripping with sweat, pounding the hell out of recalcitrant knock out panels,  No cordless hole hogs in that day.  The new proud owners outside worriedly yelling" Kid, what the hell are you doing to my beautiful new trailer?!?".
Once the panels were popped, the coil installed,  he'd route the lines, charge with Freon, connect the house to the pole power box.
The irate seating customers were invariably soothed when the felt the cool air blowing.  Ah home sweet trailer!
Sam then went on to the next trailer install. 

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Official Trailer [HD] | Prime Video

On Amazon Prime. One season, eight episodes. Daring daughter turned us on to this. It's very funny. The husband is a prime example of why men shouldn't get married until they are all grown up, which means like 35 years old.

Quote of the Day

Too Like The Lightning by Ada Palmer
[Child:] "The Major and the soldiers and Mycroft told me what war is like. They say it's the second worst thing in the world."
Man: "That's an interesting definition. What did they say is the worst thing?"
Child: "Not having anything worth fighting for in the first place."
P. 123

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Friday, January 12, 2018

All God's Children are Sinners

Question on Quora:
I was caught driving with a suspended license in Massachusetts, officer said the judge probably won't charge me if I get my license back in 5 weeks. I'm a college student with a few tickets and no crimes, do I need a lawyer to settle it?
I had to think about how to answer this for a bit. I started to answer several times, trying various versions of 'what kind of an idiot are you?', but given that there is a small possibility that there is a reasonable explanation for this situation, I decided I needed to try again. I finally ended up with this.
Do you need a lawyer? That kind of implies you either have the money to hire a lawyer, or you think you can get the money. What’s the problem? Oh, you were driving with a suspended licence. Huh. And they thought you were smart enough to go to college. Is this what we have been reduced to? Answer questions that shouldn’t have to be asked? Or is it that the world is so complex that younger people can no longer distinguish between a venial sin and a cardinal sin? I mean there are so many sins these days, and if you listen to what’s being talked about, they are ALL cardinal sins, which is a lie, but everyone does it so it must be okay, right?


Number of bookstores in the United States from 2004 to 2018
The number at the top is 37,500. The number at the bottom is 22,500.
Reading about the huge growth in bookstores right after WW2, I wondered just how many there were, but all I found was this graph that just shows things going downhill fast.

So I posted a question on Quora and Jack Noel referred me to a story about Ann Arbor based Borders bookstores. Borders grew from nothing to be something of an empire, and then, in a veritable blink of an eye, it was gone. What follows is condensed from The Ann Arbor News story.
Borders' rise and fall: a timeline of the bookstore chain's 40-year history
By Nathan Bomey
July 18, 2011

This timeline provides a historical perspective of the rise and fall of Ann Arbor-based Borders Group Inc. from its inception in 1971 to its liquidation announcement this afternoon. [40 years]

1971: Brothers Tom and Louis Borders open an 800-square-foot used bookstore called Borders Book Shop at 211 S. South State St. in Ann Arbor.

1970s: Louis Borders develops a software system that allows the store to manage inventory and accurately project sales, giving Borders a competitive advantage that lasted at least two decades.

1991: Borders starts integrating music and movies into some of its stores.

1992: Kmart Corp. acquires Borders. At the time, Borders had 21 large stores and was valued at about $190 million.

1994: The bookseller is the largest retailer in downtown Ann Arbor.

1995: Borders spins off from Kmart and goes public on the New York Stock Exchange.

Feb. 4, 1997: Shares close at an all-time high of $44.88.

March 11, 1997: Borders executes a 2-for-1 split on its stock.

January 1998 to January 1999: Borders expands its store footprint by 25.5 percent, adding 52 superstores in the biggest one-year expansion in its history. By January 1999, the company has 256 superstores averaging $256 in sales per square foot.

May 1998: Borders launches an online retail presence for the first time at

August 2001: Borders contracts with online retailer Amazon to sell products online.

August 2004: Borders signs deal with Starbucks Corp. to run Seattle’s Best Coffee cafe operations in its stores.

2005: Borders posts its most recent annual profit: $101.0 million.

July 2006: Borders has nearly 36,000 employees worldwide.

September 2007: Stock hits then-six-year-low $12.28 a share.

March 28, 2008: Stock closes down 28.5 percent to $5.07 after Borders says it lost $157.4 million in 2007.

May 2008: Severing ties with Amazon, the company launches a new

2009: Borders posts a $187 million loss in 2008.

Dec. 9, 2010: Borders posts $74.4 million loss for third quarter, acknowledges possible cash crunch in early 2011.

Dec. 31, 2010: Stock plunges 22 percent to $0.90 a share.

Feb. 11, 2011: Ackman acknowledges $125 million loss on Borders investment.

July 18, 2011: Borders announces plans to liquidate. Some 10,700 people will lose their jobs, including 400 in Ann Arbor.
Judging by the graph and this timeline I'd say the number of bookstores in the USA probably peeked at 35,000 right around the turn of the century. That's like one store for every 10,000 people.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Constructive Termination

I suspected companies did this, but I didn't know there was a term for it.
On the other hand, this smells a lot like constructive termination. That’s when an employer doesn’t technically terminate an employee, but it makes the employee’s situation so bad — taking away responsibilities, badmouthing them to the public, assigning them all the worst tasks — that they quit on their own. Constructive terminations are common when dealing with employees who are protected from at will termination by law or contract — civil service employees, union employees, and tenured faculty.  - Windy Pundit

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

More Cold War Crazy

C-5 Galaxy Minuteman ICBM Drop Test

Compared to some of the stuff the US Military did during the cold war, this one isn't too bad, it probably didn't cost more than a few million dollars. The Aviationist has the story:
In 1974, the U.S. thought that the best way to preserve its ICBMs (Inter Continental Ballistic Missiles) from Soviet nuclear strikes was to load them in C-5 Galaxy airlifters and keep them on the move.
A three-stage Minuteman, 56 feet in length and 86,000 pounds in weight, was attached to some parachutes that could drag it out of the cargo hold and then point it upward, then it was loaded into a Galaxy and air launched over the Pacific from the aircraft: a timer ignited the rocket motor and the missile flew for about 25 seconds before it cascaded into the Pacific Ocean.
Via Quora

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


Dynamic Memory Allocation
I'm working on my program to solve Sudoku puzzles again, and this time I'm using pointers. I just encountered a question about pointers on Quora that turned on my fingers and all this came out:

No, you cannot delete something that was statically declared in your source code. If you dynamically allocate a block of memory, you can assign the address of that block to a pointer variable. If you change the value of that pointer variable, it will no longer point to that block. If you haven’t saved that address somewhere, the block is effectively deleted because you won’t be able to access it because you don’t know where it is. If you delete the block of memory (using free or something similar), you shouldn’t be able to access that memory using your pointer. Depending on circumstances, if you haven’t mucked with the address stored in your pointer, you might still be able to access something, but it might not be yours anymore, or you might trigger a fault and the OS will kick you off.

Variables declared inside of functions are usually found on the stack, so the memory they use to store their values is dynamically allocated, so to speak. When the function is invoked, the space for your local variables is reserved, and when the function exits that space is reclaimed and merged with the unused space on the stack. It’s not really a problem because you can’t access those variables from outside the function.

You could dynamically allocate a variable, sort of. You could typedef (define) a structure, and then allocate space for a copy and assign that address to a pointer. You can now store stuff in this structure. If one of the fields in your structure is a pointer, you could allocate another block of memory and store the address in this pointer. Then if you free the first block, the one containing the structure, you will have lost both blocks because you will no longer have the address of the second block.