Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Don't Blink

Awesome Christopher Walken Impressions

Last week, or maybe the week before, we're watching the Olympics on TV, in particular we're watching men's figure skating. Some of these guys are what Arnold would call girly-men, and that's fine, we want to see what they can do on skates. Adam Rippon finishes his performance and he's walking away and he blinks his eyes and the way he does it, I think it was the speed, it was slower than normal maybe. Whatever. In any case, I see that and my brain immediately registers him as a woman. I mean, there was no thinking involved. I saw that and my brain immediately concluded 'woman'.

I've asked several people about this and none of them have recognized this phenomena.

Anyway, I'm looking for any kind of supporting evidence and I'm not finding any, but I found the above, which kind of gives you an idea of what makes Christopher Walken so unique. Blinking has got nothing to do with it.

Monday, February 26, 2018

If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy

The National Data Bank
The Atlantic has a fine story by Walter Kirn about the whole privacy, government snooping, and data collection. He makes some insightful observations about what all this is doing to us. For instance:
These wild speculations seemed less wild the next morning, when we woke to discover that our car had a flat tire. . . . A mischievous prank, no doubt. And yet there was doubt—not a whole lot of it, but some. prism. XKeyscore. Stingrays. They sow doubt, and not only in self-styled gonzo journalists out on a lark. One might be forgiven for thinking that sowing doubt is one of their main functions.
Makes me glad I don't carry a cell phone. Of course, I don't go anywhere, so if they wanted me, I would be easy enough to find.

Via Detroit Steve

Pic of the Day

Waiting for the Uber Driver

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Addicts R Us

Addiction (Kurzgesagt Archived video)

This video is pretty good. It gets a little hippy-dippy at the end, but what you gonna do? How do you fight the great capitalist ocean liner from a row boat? I would blame Rupert Murdoch for much of our troubles except he is just exploiting our weaknesses. If he wasn't doing it I am sure there are plenty of other equally unscrupulous people who would be glad to step into his shoes.

Found this in a comment on a Reddit post about NY suing the drug manufacturers. What a stupid waste of time that is.

Update July 2019 replaced missing video. I think it's the same video but I can't be sure. It does have an ocean liner, so that's one point in it's favor of being the right one.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Bar to Grocery Store Ratio

Bar to Grocery Store Ratio
What's up with Wisconsin? What do they know that the rest of us don't?

Turning an Internal Taper

SNNC 156 P1 Internal Taper Turning

Jack is making a right angle adaptor for his milling machine. It's quite a project involving turning pieces on a lathe, doing some milling on his vertical milling machine and a bit of welding. One of the last bits is to cut a tapered hole in the output shaft of the adaptor to accommodate a collet to hold the bit or tool. Looking for advice, he turns up this YouTube video about turning an Internal Taper.

When you get to the part where he is actually turning the taper (around about the 7 minute mark), Jack noticed that the cutting tool is upside down and wonders why. This is one of those situations where you have multiple binary choices. Inside or outside? Clockwise or counter-clockwise? Taper front-to-back or back-to-front? Now, which side do you cut on, and which way should the cutter face? It is like a computer programming problem, where you have multiple overlapping choices and you end up constructing a five line 'if' statement to cover all the conditions. I started writing a description of why and wherefore and decided if I was going to help, a picture would be better, so I sketched one.
Lathe arrangement for cutting a taper.
The language in the video might be English, but if it is, it is so heavily accented that I find it almost unintelligible. Jack claims to have no problem understanding him. I can pick out one word out of ten.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Pic of the Day

McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle with full afterburner during Vigilant Shield in 2016 - Shane Heard
Another picture of a jet fighter blasting off into the air. What makes this one special is that it was taken in Goose Bay, one of those really obscure airports in the land of ice and snow, where nobody goes unless they have to.

Global Warming

World Map of Sea Level Change
This map comes from NASA. It shows how much sea level has changed over the last 22 years. The color applied to the ocean shows how much level has changed. Yellow and orange indicates the level has gone up, which is what the global warming enthusiasts have been warning us would happen. Blue indicates it has gone down. Wait, what? The ocean level has gone down in some places? How could this be? Why isn't it all uniform? I mean, sea level is sea level the world around, isn't it?

Okay, there's a few caveats. First up, it's the ocean. You ever seen the ocean? It isn't flat, it's a heaving, sloshing beast. Measuring the 'average' sea level is a bit of trick. Basically it means taking a whole bunch of measurements and averaging them out. And don't forget the tides which force big changes twice a day.

I suspect that the reason this history only goes back 22 years is that is how long we have had a satellite that could make these measurements. Still, I'm wondering what could be causing the water level to be lower anywhere at all, and the only thing I can think of is air pressure. 14 centimeters (the distance from 7 cm below to 7cm above) is about 6 inches. Atmospheric pressure at sea level is roughly 15 PSI, which equates to roughly 30 feet of water, or one-half pound per foot. So at a depth of 6 inches, water pressure will be about one-quarter of a pound, or four ounces.

Atmospheric pressure goes up and down, that's what the weatherman is always babbling about, but I've never bothered to figure out how much the change was in any kind of real terms. Now I go looking for the normal variation in air pressure and I am getting everything but, until I come across Amanda's explanation:
The normal range of the Earth's air pressure is from 980 millibars (mb) to 1050 mb.
OK a millibar is one one-thousandth of a bar, and one bar might be a measure of the standard air pressure. The important part is that the numbers tell us that air pressure varies between being 2% low and 5% high. Normal air pressure will support a column of water approximately 30 feet high. 7% of 30 feet is roughly two feet, which is four times as much as what we are seeing in the above map. So the depressions (lower sea levels) we are seeing in the above map could be due to a persistent area of very slightly higher pressure.

We might conclude that global warming is causing these low pressure areas in the Eastern Pacific as well as some high pressure areas in the Western Pacific, but don't get too attached to that notion. There is liable to be some new Star Trek grade revelation next week that will upset the whole apple cart and we'll be inundated with a whole new batch of fancy graphics.

On a related note, NASA has an article on Global Warming that was not written for preschoolers AND seems to be relatively free of politcal pontificating, so it's doubly exceptional.

Via Detroit Steve

Update 2 days later - revised the paragraph relating air pressure to sea levels.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wien Alaska Airlines

Fairchild F27-A Propjet over The University of Alaska near Fairbanks
Wien Alaska Airlines operated in Alaska for 60 years, from 1924 to 1984. The Fairchild F-27 was a 1950's era twin-turboprop passenger aircraft. Posthip Scott sent me the above photo. Rooting around for more info I uncovered a cache of old photos on Alaska's Digital Archives. Some of them are pretty cool.

First airplane operation in Nome - Seward peninsula area

Noel Wien in his Hisso Standard (likely a Standard-J powered by a Hispano-Suiza engine) in 1927 on first commercial flight to Nome

Wien first commercial flight

Noel Wien with a Ford Trimotor on skis

Ford Trimotor at Harding Lake

Howard Hughes stops in Fairbanks

F27A turboprop
Notice the long engine nacelles and the long legs on the main landing gear

Baby Walrus being fed



Strange Cargo - A couple hundred pounds of jade and moose antlers

Wolf Carcass

Small plane fully loaded

Loading Wien tour bus abourd a C82 Flying Boxcar at Fairbanks

Old and new transport methods meet up

Dogs fly too


F-27A, Juneau Airport, Mountains, Glacier

Loading Wien Norseman Floatplane at Kotzebue Alaska
Yes, floatplanes can land on water, but do you want to do that when there are chunks of ice there as well?

Signs of Spring
Changing from skis to floats

Sigurd Wien by Cessna aircraft on sea ice at Nome
That's the ocean just past the dogs on the left hand side. 'Sea ice' means he landed on an ice berg.

Christine Steve post mistress and agent
Stebbins Alaska

Eskimo lady pegging out large seal skins to dry at Point Hope

Wien Alaska Airlines Route Map
P.S. It took some time to download all the photos from the Alaskan archive (could they still be using dial up modems?) and I don't really have any place else on the net where I can display them, and then find them reliably. Nothing else has really panned out. Picasa is dead. Well, it's there, but it's a mausoleum. Nothing lives there. Flickr is for you own photos, not stuff you stole. Tumblr gives you a channel and lets you post pictures, but it's much the same as Blogger. Pinterest has lots of pictures, but no information about said pictures, like where they came from, or what's in the picture, or why it's there or really anything at all.

P.P.S. Most of the location names link to the same Google Map which has all the named locations plotted, but we don't have anything on the North Coast. That will have to wait for oil exploration.

Polarize Me

Amazing Secret Monitor! (How To)

Christopher Webb explains what's going on.
A standard laptop display is nothing more than a common LCD panel. It consists of a grid of subpixels with a back-light behind them and an overlayed colour filter with red, green and blue “windows” for the light to shine through. Three subpixels therefore make up one pixel.

LCD Computer Display Construction
Those subpixels are made using Liquid Crystals. These crystals sit in a state where they aren’t quite solid but aren’t quite liquid either. Whereas solids stay together by themselves and liquids flow easily, these crystals can be in a number of possible substates or “phases”. The important one here is the nematic phase.
In the nematic phase the crystals act like a liquid. Their molecules can move around but they all more-or-less point in the same direction, so they’re more organised than a normal liquid like water.
The interesting thing about the nematic phase is that the crystals can react when a voltage is applied. LCD panels use this trick to turn individual pixels on and off, but that on its own is not enough - there is another layer in front of the colour filter and this is the polarizing filter.
The polarizing filter is needed to filter out the light passing through the liquid crystal pixel. This means that only the light vibrating on a particular plane will pass through the filter and reach your eyes. If the filter were to be removed then the screen would be white and it would be impossible to distinguish what was meant to be displayed.
With this new-found knowledge you could dismantle the LCD panel, remove the polarizing filter and reassemble it. Now no one will be able to see what’s on your screen. So how do you see? Simple; you cut the polarizing filter to shape and fit it into the frames of a pair of glasses. Assuming you’ve done it correctly you’ll be able to see the image on your screen perfectly, while everyone else will see nothing but white.
BUT, there is still a risk: Someone else may have a pair of glasses that allow them to see the screen as well. Some sunglasses have a polarizing filter and could be used to view your display.

Quote of the Day

USB plugs are technically four dimensional objects. That is why you have to flip it over twice before it fitssnowfox222

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Quote of the Day

"Trump just posted a tweet saying that Kim Jong Un is too much of a pussy to nuke the US and he double dog dares him to do it" - Elizabeth Ryder
I howled.

Guns & Mental Health

Came across this on Quora:
There are more teen suicides in a given year in America than people killed in every school shooting in American history combined.
Are you kidding me? So I checked with Wikipedia. 5,000 teenagers commit suicide every year. School shootings since the American Revolution have killed fewer than 600.

 Part of what makes people who they are, and what makes them so interesting is that they are inherently unstable. Most people manage to maintain a semblance of sanity most of the time, but you catch anyone at the wrong time with the wrong stimulus and you are liable to have a violent explosion.

We have a very bipolar view of violence. People pay zillions of dollars to watch violent movies and play violent video games, but if anyone engages in real world violence they are treated as a criminal.

Capitalism, not Oxfam, is defeating poverty

Stolen entire from The Telegraph
Telegraph View 19 Jan 2016: The charity appears to have forgotten that its job is to help the poor, not attack wealth 
Every year it is the same story: in early January, Oxfam releases a report stating that a handful of people are, collectively, as wealthy as the planet’s poorest 50 per cent. Only the number of this gilded elite changes. In 2010 it was the richest 388 who possessed the same as all those benighted billions at the bottom. By last year that had fallen to 80. Now, Oxfam informs us with appalled incredulity, the figure is 62. 
One may ask why the charity, which is committed to reducing poverty, is so interested in billionaires. Surely it is the fate of those living on next to nothing that it should be concerned with, not playboys with fleets of superyachts and private jets. Unfortunately, that would present a problem: for when Oxfam concentrates on statistics not politics, it concedes that “extreme poverty has halved in just 15 years”. 
The reality is that Oxfam is not campaigning against poverty any more. It is campaigning against wealth, as if the global economy were a zero sum game, with a finite amount of cash to be divided among the citizens of the Earth. Yet that is patently not true. 
Capitalism generates wealth. Currently its fruits are lifting people out of extreme poverty at unprecedented rates. To everybody but Oxfam, this represents extremely good news. The charity, however, gives the impression that it would be happier if everyone were poorer, as long as we were all equally poor. 
Oxfam’s annual report is designed to make us all blush. We are supposed to feel ashamed that we can live in a world of such manifest, astonishing inequality. But it is outcomes that matter, not equality. To pretend otherwise really is shameless.
Oxfam is a big, fat English charity outfit.

Via Marcel

Pic of the Day

Pride of France, the Bibliotheque Nationale, photo by Franck Bohbot.
This is the reading room in the Richelieu Library.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Map of Stable Isotopes

Cool graph of the day.
Map of stable isotopes
The number of protons in an atom's nucleus determine what element it is, i.e. hydrogen, iron, oxygen, etc. The Z axis along the bottom on the graph indicates the number of protons.

The number of neutrons in an atom's nucleus determine what isotope you have of any particular element. The N axis along the left side of the graph indicates the number of neutrons.

Each colored dot plotted in the above graph represents a particular isotope of a particular element. 
Isotopes have different degrees of stability as measured by their half-life. This is indicated by the color of the dot. The key for the colors is listed in the vertical bar to the right of the graph. Black indicates that isotope is stable, white indicates it is unstable. Near the top we have 10 to the 14th power years, which is one hundred trillion years. Near the bottom we have 10 to the -8 power seconds, which is ten nanoseconds.

I suspect that half-lives are measured by the amount of radiation a given mass of an isotope produces. Even a relatively small chunk of matter is going to have trillions of atoms. If your chunk of matter is composed of an isotope with a very long half-life, then in any specific length of time very few atoms will break up, but those break ups will produce radiation which can be measured and so from that data we can estimate the half-life.

Via Detroit Steve

Saturday, February 17, 2018


Posthip Scott sent me a webpage about a UFO encounter. It mentions that some F-15's were scrambled out of PDX last October. Hey, wait a minute, didn't I see some F-15's taking off from PDX? I did, and when was it? It was the same date!
While we were waiting at the traffic light at the corner of 82nd and Air Cargo Road, four F-15's took off, one after another in quick succession. That was pretty cool. I've seen them parked at the airport before, but I've never seen them in motion. While we are marveling at seeing these aircraft take off, four F-16's take off in quick succession. That's the most jet fighters I have seen flying all at one time.
So that's what was happening. Cool. A visit to YouTube turns up video of the fighters taking off:

Four "US Air National Guard" F-15's takeoff from Portland International Airport PDX

Four F-16A Fighting Falcons Take Off From KPDX On Runway 10R

I am not a big fan of UFO's. They make for some good entertainment, but nothing you can really hang your hat on. But sometimes I wonder if there isn't some kind of quantum neurological mass hypnosis phenomena going on. Like everyone is projecting very faint brainwaves, but occasionally enough of them sync up and reinforce each other and then they start causing observable effects, like inducing hallucinations or possibly even physical manifestations, like changing the refractive index of a ball of air so it looks like something.

This is one of the things some of the old time philosophers were going on about, how the world is an illusion and what we see and experience is only a shadow of the real world. The philosophers were talking about it ancient Greece, and Ibn Sina was talking about it more recently (about a thousand years ago). I don't buy it, mostly on account of the Arab world falling down into a rathole of philisophical debate which ignored much of what was going on in the 'real' world.

But we really don't know how the universe works. We have a much better idea now than we did in Ibn Cenna's time, but mostly what we've learned is that the world is infinitely more complicated that we ever imagined. So I am willing to allow that quantum neurological mass hypnosis phenomena might actually be a real thing. I am not going to try and hang my hat on it though.

Update February 25, 2018. My current theory is that is was a business jet being flown by a drunk pilot who just didn't give a shit about rules and regulations. Or it could have been a smuggler who was counting on being just one of the flock, or a Russian, seeing how far they could stick their nose in without getting caught. Australian news site has the story. So does Popular Mechanics.

Update July 2019 replaced 2nd video with similar one from 2013. Why was the one from 2017 taken down? Enquiring Minds want to know.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Lets Go Hypersonic

Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation

I've been hearing 'hypersonic' for a few years now. I put up a post about it not too long ago. This is the first time I have heard it mentioned in the context of weapons. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. That's what the military does, try to come up with new weapons. Just because all the jabber was about hypersonic airliners and spaceship boosters doesn't mean the military wasn't planning all along to use this new technology to make a new weapon. Silly me for not realizing this.

The video is kind of interesting, the way they cut from one speaker to another. Makes me wonder if there is some kind of subconscious marketing technique at work here. I mean it all sounds very reasonable, or as reasonable as a discussion about crazy shit can be.

The video is from The Rand Corporation. They used to be a big, important think tank, but I haven't heard anything from them in a long time. Maybe because they were a little slow to adapt to the internet. Or maybe I just haven't been paying attention.

Operations Research is one of things The Rand Corporation does. I had a boss an Intel who had a degree in Operations Research. I never really understood what it was all about. It sounds like a mixture of math and common sense, which I never thought was very difficult and certainly nothing to write home about, but maybe the trick is being able to communicate your mathematical, common sensical ideas, and somebody saw some value in that.

Via World Affairs


Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
I'm poking around on GoodReads and I notice that I have Seveneves listed, but the status is wrong. I finished it months (years?) ago. So here's my chance to make an update to my bookshelf, and since we are here maybe I should post something from my blog. One thing led to another and now we have a story.

We start with something from a couple of years ago:
I like Daniel Silva's books, well, I liked both of the ones I've read. I finished this one in two days. It's not a great book, but it's pretty good. It is not totally smooth, the ride is a little rough, but there weren't any of those giant potholes that cause me to curse in disgust. For instance, I started reading Seveneves by Neal Stephenson a few months back and things were going along swimmingly until I got about half way through the book and the President of the United States shows up and we (by which I mean the characters in the story) start having some kind of bullshit discussion. I had to put the book aside it was so repulsive. Given Neal's skill as a writer, I presume that is the effect he was trying to achieve. It's just that in my case it worked too well. I still want to finish that book, but it is going to take some determination to wade through this section, which I am hoping is short. If it goes on for too much longer I will be forced to toss it on the reject pile.
I eventually finished Seveneves, but it took me several months to get over that hiccup. All in all it's a pretty great book. The one thing that bothered me was there was no discussion of where the projectile originated or how it came to be. I suspect a stellar event was the most likely source, you know, something like a star going nova or collapsing into a neutron star. Anything that extreme is going release a large quantity of energy, and given the right configuration of mass and timing, I can see a rock getting ejected at a high velocity. But nobody ever looked, and nobody said boo about how the projectile came to be going so fast.

The Star Destroyer Avenger chases the Millennium Falcon out of the asteroid field.
There might have been a Imperial Star Destroyer making pass through the solar system and thought they'd have a little target practice with our moon. Fuckers. Okay, unlikely, but we ought to be looking around. I mean just last week Rama came flying by.

And then there's the whole business of the moon breaking up. No explanation for that either. But then maybe it's obvious that even really a fast rock isn't going to crack the moon into pieces and Neal is just making this up to have something to base his story on. I certainly don't think it could happen. We might get some moon quakes, and maybe a little volcanic action, but I think gravity would eventually win out, things would settle down and people would mention it occasionally because it was kind of a big deal like a magnitude 27 earthquake. Devastating, but not the end of the world.

But is it obvious that even a fast, small rock couldn't really destroy the moon? I mean Neal bases his story on this premise, and Neal's stories are usually built on solid ground, so maybe such a thing is possible, theoretically speaking. Even if such a thing were possible, the odds of it happening to our moon are infinitesimal. Even so, it's a good reason to get some people off of this rock.

Let's look at this mathimagically. We can estimate the energy carried by the rock because we have estimate of its speed (a large fraction of the speed of light, is how I remember it) and it's size (there was a puff of dust when the rock impacted the moon, and this puff of dust was visible to an amateur astronomer on Earth). Okay, so very rough estimates, but still enough to draw some boundaries on the problem.

But how much energy would it take to break the moon into gravel? A heck of a lot. The Death Star and the planet Alderran might be a good place to start. I posted Scott Manley's exposition right around one year ago. Listening to Manley, I'm gonna stick with my original assessment that a rock, no matter how fast it was traveling, would not be able to destroy the moon.

And then there was the matter or all the men dying and the woman having to use lab work to get pregnant. I was kind of hoping for some sexual escapades. Okay, so I guess there were a couple of things that bothered me, but they were pretty small, except for that section about the president. That was almost a deal breaker.

Elk takes down chopper

Elk brings down helicopter in Utah. (Wasatch County Search and Rescue)
Not something that happens everyday.
The Australian flight crew was in the process of netting a cow elk, which jumped and hit the tail rotor of the helicopter. - KUTV

Bows and Arrows, Cross My Heart and Hope to Die

I found this on Quora and I thought it was so great I decided to steal it.

Question: Why were crossbows not used in the 19th century, even though they could be reloaded way faster than the infantry guns of that period?

Answer by Roger H Werner

At the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, an English army of 6000 soldiers led by Henry V, defeated a French army of 36,000. A crucial element in Henry’s victory was the longbow: He deployed C. 5000 longbowmen, WHILE the French used Italian crossbowman and their weapons have a shorter range. Largely because of this, the French lost by some accounts as many as 10,000 men to about 100 English. Yet, in spite of the clear deadliness of the longbow in war, it quickly became obsolete as firearms evolved. Within 200 years of Agincourt, it had fallen out of military use almost entirely.

In China, weaponry evolved in an entirely different way. Here, firearms were used much earlier. In 1232, the Mongol army used firearms as armor piercing weapons during the siege of modern Khai-Fun Fu, China. Firearms may also have been used much earlier: A picture dating from the 10th century CE depicts a demon wielding a form of gun. Nevertheless, Chinese armies used bows for another 800 years.

Timo Nieminen, a physicist at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, described the evolution of the Asian composite war bow, a device he describes as “the best bow available before the advent of modern materials and the modern compound bow”. The compound bow helps explain why the bow remained an effective weapon in China for centuries after it was abandoned in Europe.

When a bow is drawn, the surface closest to the archer compresses, while the opposite surface is placed in tension, placing extreme demand on whatever material is used for the limb. Nieminen noted that it’s very difficult to find a single material that provides sufficient strength under both tension and compression, whilw permitting a high degree of deformation.

The solution that Asian bow makers settled upon was the composite bow in which the compression surface is made of horn and the tension surface from resin-sinew composite, both joined to a central portion of wood. These bows were extremely difficult to make; some report the resin-drying process required more than a year. When finished however, the sinew-backed bow vastly outperformed other bows and it was a military mainstay for 2,000 years. It was adopted by the Mongols who effectively used it to decimate the mounted knights of Europe.

One key factor in the performance of any bow is size to draw length ratio. The draw length is about as long as an archer’s arm. Because wood cannot be greatly deformed before it breaks, a wooden bow must be at least 2.3 times its draw length. English longbows were as long as the archer was tall and Japanese longbows were 200 cm long. By comparison, the composite bow was only 110 cm long, while achieving a similar performance as the long bow. The composite bow was lighter and easier to carry than its European cousins but it required a long time to create.

The Asian composite bow had a weakness that prevented it from spreading to Europe. Its composite materials did not survive humid conditions. For that reason, the weapons never spread south to India nor would they have survived land or sea crossings back to Europe. Nevertheless, both East and Western bow designs were much more accurate than early firearms, particularly over longer distances. They had a much higher rate of fire, and, they required fewer materials and logistics to manufacture and supply. Yet the bow had one big disadvantage over firearms: Bows require a high degree of skill to use proficiently.The typical Chinese army had a large pool of skilled archers, while European armies did not. Europeans armies therefore trained their soldiers to use firearms because that could be done relatively quickly. For this reason, firearms quickly eclipsed the bow in Europe. Therefore, military effectiveness was not the primary cause for the bows demise as a military weapon: Economic (cost/time) and social factors, especially training of musketeers as opposed to archers, were far more important influences in the replacement of the bow by the gun.

Thursday, February 15, 2018


Babycham Promotional Poster
I'm reading Faithful Place by Tana French. The Mackey kids are having a drink at the pub and one of them asks for Babycham. Okay, I'll bite, what is it? Sparkling pear cider is what, or perry, depending on which side of the perry versus pear cider debate you stand. The animal mascot is a Chamois.

Pic of the Day

Megaphonic Motorcycle
The world is full of strange and wonderful things and India has more than its share.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Alannah Myles - Black Velvet

Alannah Myles - Black Velvet - Remastered - 1080p

I've been listening to this and I like it, even though I think it may have been used in an ad for Black Velvet Canadian Whiskey, which is kind of a wimpy version of Bourbon.

Update July 2022 replaced missing video.

Portland Trail Blazers CRUSH the Golden State Warriors

My wife and I have been married for over 30 years. This is kind of surprising because until I met her, which was when I was in my early 30's, I was never going to get married. Evidently something changed when I hit my 30's. My wife was looking at her 30th birthday and she wasn't married yet, so I suspect we both decided that if we were going to do this thing, now is the time. So we did.

On occasion people ask us the secret of out success, i.e. how have we managed to stay together for so long? I used to tell them that it was like we were on a teeter-toter, we balanced each other. Later on I embellished that by saying it was a very long teeter-toter, but that didn't really help. Eventually I came to realize that we had complimentary skills, i.e. I realized that my formidable technical skills weren't the be-all and end-all of skillification. My wife had skills as well. Not hard skills, not skills that you could employ to actually do something, but skills that enabled you to maintain your position in society, which is actually more important than any mathematical or machinical talent you might have.

We went to see a counselor a few years ago and  I attempted to commuicatie this idea to him, and he says "oh yes, it's very common for people with complimentary skill sets to hook up", or words to that effect, and I thought "well fuck you, why the fuck didn't anyone ever tell me that?" But then I realized that even if anyone had told me that I probably would have discounted it because all that kind of talk didn't impact the hard-skill-set-universe.

TL';DR, my wife and I are different. Things you might think only apply to one sex, in our case don't. Specifically, my wife likes sports. In particular she likes watching the Ducks (because our kids went there) and the Hawkeyes (because she went there) college football, and the Portland Trailblazers professional basketball team.

I never used to watch sports. Oh I would watch it on occasion if I was visiting a friend and they were watching a game, but I never followed it or kept track of who was leading or winning or whatever. If just didn't interest me. But now I am. I started a few years ago, I would sit in with my wife while she was watching a game and I would watch a quarter or so, but that was all, so I guess I kind of learned how to watch. I mean there is a lot of complicated action going on down there. Even with the slow motion replays it is sometimes hard to tell exactly just what happened. Nurkic got hit in the face with Kevin Durrant's upper arm tonight, or did he? I mean, from the video,  you just can't tell how hard he got hit. He sold it pretty well, and given the limited information we got from the video, I am willing to give him the credit. But Stott's expression on the screen tells me that Nurkic was selling the foul, and Jusuf would be fine.

Whatever. In any case, this year I have been watching the Trialblazers pretty religiously and tonight's game was a highwater mark. The Trialblazers last game was against the Utah Jazz and they got trounced. But more importantly, in that game I just didn't see any energy from the Blazers. It was like they knew they were going to get beat and they would do their job but they just didn't care. And this is all from watching the game. I don't listen to the players or coaches jabbering, to me it's just jabber. Maybe next year I will be listening for inflections in their voices in how they talk about upcoming games, but I hope not. That way lies madness, at least for people like me.

Tonight, however, was a different kettle of fish. The Warriors are the golden boys of the Western Division, or maybe of the whole nation. Three (or maybe four) of their players have been picked for the All-Star Game which is some kind of big deal. They have beat every team in the league. They are formidable. We are going to get our asses kicked.

But then the game stared and the Blazers attacked! They ran up something like a 20 point lead during the first half. Before the game started some blatherer was blathering that the third quarter is when the Warriors kicked butt, and that kind of correlated with what I have been seeing, the third quarter is critical. So okay, we're ahead at the half, but are we going to be able to hang on? When the game started I was totally prepared to concede defeat. After all, even though we had won most of our games so far (I think), the UItah Jazz still kicked our butt. Efffing Jazz. But now I'm watching the game, and this is not like the Jazz game. Our guys are showing some serious energy. How can you even tell? It's just images of people moving around on the screen. We're talking highly evolved image processing techniques, stuff that the computer geeks won't ever be able to emulate. Well, at least not till later next week.

The game was fierce. You could tell, just by watching it. Or could you? I could, because I've been watching the Blazers all season. If you just tuned in and had never seen the Blazers play before, could you have told? I suppose it you had watched a lot of basketball on TV, you probably could have picked up on it. So there's two conditions here. One, you have to spend some time watching the game, and two, you have to be able to 'see' what's going on.

In any case, we defeated the Warriors by the skin of our teeth, and that's good enough for me.

Weile Weile Waila

The Dubliners - Weile Weile Waila-HQ

I'm reading Faithful Place by Tana French. Two brothers are sitting on the porch when the forensics team shows up across the street and one of them starts singing this tune softly, to himself, and me being me I gotta go look it up. Wikipedia has a page.

If there is a River Saile, Google Maps hasn't heard of it.


Inflation is a problem. People look at soaring property values and think how much more valuable their land has become when actually the only thing that has changed is that the dollar is worth that much less. I have no proof, but I am pretty sure that the rate of inflation reflects that amount of money the government has borrowed. The bigger the deficit, the higher the rate of inflation. The government is stealing from anyone who has big pile of cash. A big pile of cash, or money sitting in a savings account at a bank, is losing around 10% of its value per year. If you don't want that pile of money to disappear, you need to put it to work, hopefully doing something that will bring you some profit. This is the big reason the stock market has been booming lately.

The US government's deficit is so large some people are afraid the whole thing is going to collapse. That will happen when the US government can no longer sell bonds. When that happens the whole house of cards is going to collapse. However, this is not going to happen as long as we keep buying oil from Saudi Arabia because what else can they do with their money? You could buy all the Lamborghinis in the world and it's not going make even the slightest dent in the zillions of dollars that are flowing into the Kingdom's coffers.

British Airways Flight 5390

FS2004 - Blowout (British Airways Flight 5390)

This happened back in 1990. It's quite a story.

How did this happen? The air pressure at sea level is about 15 PSI. Airliners are pressurized to 11 PSI* which is equivalent to being at about 7,000 feet of altitude. Air pressure at 17,000 feet is about 7 PSI, which means there is a difference of 4 PSI. I don't know the dimensions of the windshield, but let's say it was two feet wide and a foot and a half tall. That means it has an area or 3 square feet or 432 square inches. Multiply that by 4 and you have 1700 pounds of pressure pushing on that windshield. No wonder airliner windows are so small.

I have heard about this before. Several sites have the story, including Wikipedia.

Via Posthip Scott.

*PSI stands for Pounds per Square Inch

Social Parking

Parking Lot Parking Meter
Similar to the one I had to deal with - note the large keypad with letters and numbers.
I parked at a lot on SW 5th Avenue last night. I've parked there before so I should have been prepared and I was, sort of. I remembered that the machine wants my license number, but I forgot that there is no light by the machine which means everything except for the illuminated display is nearly invisible. Fortunately there were several other people standing around trying to figure out how to buy a coupon. When I attempted it one woman spoke up with some helpful tips, like ignore the credit card rejection notice, give it a second and it will say OK, so I did and it did. She also helped out with the matter of locating the Go button and probably a one or two more things that you had to know because the front panel may as well have been painted black for all the detail I could make out.

If you had smart-phone with a flashlight app, or a flashlight, you would have been okay, but if you need to have smart-phone to buy a coupon, why don't we just dispense with the machine? Could it be that I am not the only curmudgeon who refuses to buy a smart phone?

Several years ago, my friend Jack clued me in to a parking lot that was seldom crowded and an easy walk to Keller, but it fell victim to development. So we tried a parking garage around the corner, but you need your coupon to open the door when you want to retrieve your car, and while that door lock may be more reliable than an airliner, you don't want it to fail when it is below freezing and everyone else has gone home to bed. My next pick was a ground floor parking lot under an office building. It was pretty great except that when leaving the show, you get dumped out into the middle of the crowd exiting the auditorium. So, 5th Avenue.

SW 5th Avenue Parking Lot
The only problem here is you cannot get on Highway 26 Westbound without going through some ridiculous contortions, unless it's late at night and there aren't any coppers or trains around.

Poor Portland

Something that will never happen in Portland
I am afraid Portland is on it's way to becoming another San Francisco, a city of old women: everything and everyone coddled and cocooned so no one ever gets hurt or even offended, but there is no vision, no progress, and nothing is done about all the real problems which will continue to grow until they smother us all.

The latest bit is the Portland City Council decided to lower the speed limits in residential areas from 25 MPH to 20 MPH, which means the entire city is now a school zone. I expect someone will eventually realize there is no point in having separate school zones since the speed limit is no different, but then someone else will decide they need to set apart so they will propose lowering the speed limit in school zones to 15 MPH. Why don't we all just stay home?

What we really need is a project to cover the entire downtown area on both sides of both rivers (the Willamette and the Columbia) with a ten story infra-structure to support a pleasant place to live. You would have levels for:
  • trains and big trucks
  • warehousing
  • North-South traffic
  • East-West traffic
  • turning lanes
  • parking
  • automotive services like repair and fueling
  • utilities like water, electrical power and gas
  • bicycles
The top surface would be reserved for houses, parks and walking.

I doubt anything like this will happen. The powers that be are too entrenched, and it might be that technology will change the way we operate. Amazon is decimating brick and mortar retail businesses. Video phones are almost like being there, not that anyone wants to talk anymore, they just text. When autonomous cars finally arrive, you won't need to have a house because you will spend all your time in your car while it creeps slowly along in the gigantic cluster fuck that our traffic will have become. When you leave work, you will push Home button in your car and it will set out to take you home, but since the streets will be so congested it creep along at a walking pace, so it will be one in the morning before you get there, which means it will be time to turn around and head back to work. I hope you like sleeping in your car.

Previous posts about a multi-level city here and here.

A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder


A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder opened at Keller Auditorium last night. The above video accurately portrays the look and feel of the show. It was pretty funny. They used projected backgrounds for some scenes, combined with the live action in the foreground, they were remarkably effective. 

There was one scene where some pompous windbag is pontificating to a bunch of portraits hung on the wall when about half-way through the scene the portraits come alive and start talking back, kind of like the magical pictures that showed up in the Harry Potter movies. Up until that moment I thought they were just pictures. 

The singing was a little hard to understand. I'd pick up words here and there, enough to get the general idea. Maybe I'm too used to listening to tunes on the radio where diction is, if not everything, pretty much near the top. Or reading subtitles on even English language films because I want to get every word. Maybe I need to be a little more stoned to properly appreciate the tunes. 

A spokesman for US Bank gave a two minute spiel before the start of the show, telling us how the bank supports the community. Live theater is very expensive, so I guess I don't begrudge the bank their two minutes since they are no doubt paying dearly for it.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Price of gas in France

A thief in Paris planned to steal some paintings from the Louvre.

After careful planning, he got past security, stole the paintings, and made it safely to his van.

However, he was captured only two blocks away when his van ran out of gas.

When asked how he could mastermind such a crime and then make such an obvious error, he replied, 'Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings.

The Cliff Walk Pourville - Claude Monet
I had no Monet.

The Green Dancers - Edgar Degas 1879
to buy Degas,

The Bedroom - Vincent Van Gogh 1899
to make the Van Gogh.

Charles De Gaulle - Donald Sheridan 2013
See if you have De Gaulle to send this to someone else.

The Dance At the Moulin Rouge - Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec 1890
I'm posting this because I figure I have nothing Toulouse.

I think I may have got this from Stu.

Firefly Aerospace

Firefly Engine Test
Iaman tells me that there is rocket company in Cedar Park, Texas. Cedar Park used to be a podunk town somewhere northwest of Austin. Now it's part of the greater Austin metropolis. Firefly Aerospace builds rockets for putting small satellites into orbit. Frigging rocket engines are horribly inefficient. I mean look at that exhaust. 90% of the energy that is released in the burning of the fuel just gets wasted.

Fast Forward

My computer display screen has been acting a little weird, so I consult with the cloud:

I've been hearing about 4K video for a while now. I ignored it when it first came out because, like any new technology,  it was expensive. (Just for a baseline, anything that costs more than a dollar and a half is expensive.) But now you can buy a 4K computer display at Costco for $300. That might be worthwhile, especially if this display is flaking out.

P.S. I tried copying the discussion from the forum, but Blogger has it's own rules about how to handle things and the copy-and-paste didn't work so well. So for my next trick I took a screen shot of the forum discussion, cropped it with Pix and inserted it here. I tried resizing it a couple of times by changing the height and width parameters in html, but I ended up with the original dimensions of the image. As the best compromise between being a readable size and fitting on the page. It looks like shit right now. It's all fuzzy like it was compressed and then expanded. Stupid Blogger, why can't you just render the image as it is? Maybe it will look better on the finished page, but I doubt it.