Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, May 30, 2018


I'm working on a little program to play with some numbers and I need an array of the appropriate size. It's easy to do, you decide on some array size and then you ask the O.S. for a chunk of memory that big. If you are a well behaved program, and the O.S. likes the cut of your jib, he might let you have it.

You don't want to ask for anymore than you need because if you ask for a great deal, that might interfere with whatever else you are trying to do, like trying to watch YouTube videos. Also, large amounts of memory can involve lots of processor time, and you might not want to run the program for that long, so you run on it a smaller set of data.

In the C programming language there are a couple of ways to do this. The traditional way is call malloc, the O.S.'s memory allocation procedure with number of bytes you want. It will return a pointer which you will base your data structure on.

    fraction_s* a = malloc(q * sizeof(fraction_s));

Another way is to declare your array in the main procedure (which is where the program starts), and use another variable as the size of the array. You need to assign a value to the size variable before you try and make use of it in the declaration of the array. Get all that? Sounds kind of convoluted. Maybe it's just my explanation is convoluted. Let's see if a bit of code helps.

int main(int argc, char** argv)

    int q = 1000;    // default value
    if (argc>1)
        q = atoi(argv[1]);    // pick up value from command line

    fraction_s    a[q];       // declare an array of data blocks

    memset(a, 0, sizeof(a));  // zero out the array

Last thing is to fill the array with zeros. Saves having to do it explicitly whenever we are loading data, we can just skip all those locations for which we don't have data. That way, come run time, we can be sure we won't misinterpret them for data. We might want to set a flag in each block that does have valid data.

Took a while to get here, but we have finally got to the crux of the matter. I'm working on a program to check out Farey Addition of fractions. I need an array to hold of all the possible fractions that can be generated using any pair of integers, up to some limit. For instance if my limit was 1,000, I would need an array to hold a million numbers. If I confine my self to proper fractions (the numerator is smaller than the denominator), then I only need half as much. Roughly.

You don't want to get a size calculation like this wrong, because while it might be a nuisance when the program is only going to run for a few seconds, it would be the shitz if your program got a memory fault after it had been running for a week and it lost all your work, all because you got the memory request size calculation wrong.

You screw up once or twice and you start taking pains to get it right. Getting it right also insures that your program doesn't get kicked off for asking for too much memory, when a properly sized request would allow you to run. It also tells you how much memory you need for the kinds of problems you are working with.

There's probably a name for the series that tells you how many fractions you are going to generate. Fibonacci or Bernoulli, or maybe, I dunno, Flatulence? I think I'm getting burned out on the math section of Quora. Seems like half the questions over there are talking about some obscure thing named after an even more obscure, old, dead, white guy (usually). Numberphile does that some too, but usually it's just kind of a decoration, like ribbons and bows, on their presentation. On Quora, these names are in these questions and understanding what the term means is crucial to understanding the question. Sometimes it's really simple, like this fraction thing I am working around to explaining, which is great, it means I can understand the question. But sometimes it's such an esoteric term that only the half dozen people who are writing theses on it have any idea what it means. I'm not going into those ratholes, I have plenty of my own, thank you.

Back to our array. For a denominator of 1 you can have two values in the numerator: 0 or 1. We're only going to count the zero. One over one is one, which really isn't a fraction. We aren't going to count the one, so for one, we have one value. For a denominator of 2 you can have two real values: 0 or 1. Plus 1 for zero gives you three. Like so:

Denominator /
Number of Proper Fractions    Total
            1              1
            2              3
            3              6
            4             10
            5             15
            6             21
            7             28
            8             36
            9             45
           10             55

It kind of looks (n+1) * n/2. It looks an exact calculation to me. No issue with rounding due to division by 2 (of n and (n+1) ), one is going to be even and the other will be odd, so the product will always be even and divisible by two.

We could eliminate the zeros, and maybe I will, all zeros are alike, am I right? But right now it's handy becuase I've been using zero based arrays for so long it's like second nature. Taking out the zeros, oh boy, I dunno if that's ever been done before Mr. Halliday (figment of my imagination, my inner Jimmy Stewart talking to big fat boss man with the straw hat, bifocals and a cigar).

Smart Phones

Looks like the Smartphone market is saturated. From a report by Mary Perkins. Via Detroit Steve.

Is it 'Smart Phone'  or 'Smartphone'? I'm a little perturbed by this mashing together of two perfectly cromulent words to make a new word. Sometimes it just doesn't work. I ran into one earlier that really confused me. It took me several seconds to decode it. Can't remember what it was now. Wasn't that important, just another example of our world going to hell in a handbasket, and we've already got plenty of those.

Mixer Repair

Bypass Thermal Protector
Our electric hand mixer quit the other day. We suspected that it had gotten overheated but that when it cooled down it would come back to life. It didn't, so I opened it up to see what I could see. I didn't see anything wrong, and it didn't smell burnt. I did notice a little lump under the yellow tape covering the windings on the stator. I cut the tape and checked the continuity on the little white part and, as I suspected, there was none. Twisting the leads together circumvented that problem. If this was a real repair, I would have soldered the wires together. Scratch that, if this was a real repair, I would have replaced the part. I sort of made an attempt in that direction. In order to secure a replacement, I need to identify it. Being as it is so tiny that even with my glasses the numbers were hard to read I decided to take a picture. As you can see from the photo that didn't really help. The macro function on my camera wasn't up to the task so all I got was some indecipherable squiggles.

I secured the yellow tape back in place with a piece of duck tape. I had electrical tape, but the adhesive on electrical tape doesn't seem to adhere as well, or as long, as duct tape. For some situations, electrical tape works fine, but I've had too many places where the sticky gave up the ghost. So duck tape.

The mixer runs, though it sounds a little growly on the slow speed settings. I looked for a replacement, but I couldn't find one that had a bigger than 250 Watt motor. That seems to be the upper limit for hand mixers. Yes, I could have gotten a big stand mounted mixer, but it would have just sat in the cupboard because no one wants to go to the effort to pull it out, and after it's set in there for a couple of years we would have forgotten that we even have it. We already have a good selection of kitchen appliances we don't use. We don't need another one.

Maybe we just need more counter space in the kitchen. I suspect that wouldn't really help because it would just be consumed by a bunch of new appliances that we bought because we had room for them. I still cut pizza with a chef's knife, I don't need to steenking pizza cutter.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Conspiracies Я Us

I think there is a conspiracy operating in downtown Portland that is trying to destroy real estate values. Walking around a small area near Nordstrom I noticed numerous storefronts that are either empty or for lease. The city government seems bent on destroying the automobile. Mass transit and conversion of parking spaces to anything but parking seems to be the order of the day. The result of this, along with their increasing taxes, is that running a small business in Portland is becoming a losing proposition, hence the numerous empty storefronts. They are empty because nobody’s renting them because they don’t believe they could operate their business successfully in such a hostile atmosphere. Businesses operating on the upper floors are kind of immune to all this. Virtually none of them depend on walk-in traffic. But office space is a commodity. The only time you can charge a premium is if there is a view or office space market is tight.

Meanwhile rent for ground floor places is plummeting, which has to be driving the value of the property down. Eventually some real estate investors are going to get tired of the bullshit and sell off their holdings. At that point the conspirators will swoop in and snatch it all up at bargain prices.

Once they have consolidated their hold on downtown they will replace the City Council with one that has the proper attitude and all these bullshit regulations and restrictions will be blown away, people will start driving cars again, storefront businesses boom and the conspirators will reap their criminal rewards.

I’m pretty sure this theory is nonsensical and could easily be destroyed by any kind of elementary analysis but the fact remains that I am troubled by the numerous empty storefronts. Maybe we don’t need so many retail establishments anymore. So what do you do with them? What could these places be used for that would generate kind of rent that a retail store would? Maybe it doesn’t make any difference since nobody seems to be opening any new retail stores.
You might be able convert them to parking, but many buildings are not going to be suitable for that. Or maybe they will become squats for the homeless. There are certainly enough of them. I saw maybe a dozen while I was out walking, so I'm estimating that somewhere between one out of a thousand and one out of a hundred people are homeless.

I originally wrote this using pen and paper while I was waiting for my wife. She got herself a new iPhone 8+ today because her old iPhone 6 was getting flakey, so I thought I would try using the 'talk-to-text' feature instead of typing it in by hand. She set up her phone to compose an email, pressed the go button and I read what I had written. It took three emails to get it all, but I don't know whether that was due to the operator or the phone. That got the bulk of it entered, but then I had to go through and replace the incorrect words and insert the necessary punctuation. It was kind of a fun experiment, but not very efficient.

The actual conversion of voice to text is done on a server somewhere in the cloud, so theoretically you should be able to do this from any computer with a microphone and an Internet connection.

Friday, May 25, 2018

More Thinkin'

Thinking about how get things done, things like WW2 where results are what count. And things like city council subcommittee meetings where 'process' (whatever that is) is all important. Sometimes you need to do something, right or wrong, but something needs to be done. Sometimes nothing needs to be done, we can postpone it till next week, or next month, or next never. The difference is in the risk and the reward. When you are out on the fringes of civilization, standing on the edge of plaza facing down the barbarians who would love nothing more that to overrun your plaza and smash everything and everyone on it, a forceful and decisive attitude is what you need. When you are in operating within the confines of the plaza, you can dilly dally all you like, that's why we built the plaza, so we could recline on soft couchs and eat delicacies and argue about the most inconsequential of things.

God protect me from subcommittee meetings. I would die of boredom. Listening to people that I don't know talk is my least favorite inactivity. Maybe if I was drunk I could do it, but they generally don't let beer into those sessions. Just as well, waste of good beer.


I sat down and played with the parenthesization problem this afternoon, and I think I have a pretty good handle on it. I wrote a few lines of pseudo-code and I think this scheme will work. Problem I have now is how to translate it into real code. What I am working with (so far) is an array of small structures. Each element (structure) in the array has some fields for things like the:
  • number
  • operator
  • number of open parentheses
  • number of close parentheses
  • pointer to the next element in the array
If you are paying attention, you will realize you don't really need a pointer to the next element, you're working with an array, for-Pete's-sake (that's an old expression in case you're a whipper-snapper and don't recognize it. In case you wondering, if you don't recognize it, it means you're a whipper-snapper). If you have an array, you don't need pointers, you have an index and you can adjust it to access any element in the array. If you've got pointers in here it means you've gone in and mucked with array and now just using a straight index isn't going to work anymore. And in fact, that is just what happened. I had this nice array and it worked well. Each pointer was initialized to the next element in the array. Because this array describes an expression, when you start evaluating the expression, some of these elements get consumed and so that element is no longer needed. To eliminate these from future consideration, I simply adjusted the pointer of the previous element to point the next element, skipping this one and effectively deleting it from the record.

Now if you interrupt this process, like run the concatenation operation before you run the parenthesizing operation, you are dealing with this semi-corrupt array. With an intact array, I could use a start index and take care of business, but with a corrupt array, I need besides the start index and count, I also need a pointer and a way to tell if the pointer is any good. 

There are several ways to handle this. I could use real pointers instead of my hybrid index-pointers. I could belly up to the bar and do the work necessary to keep track of all these pieces. Or I could compress the array and eliminate the dead elements. I kind of like that one. It promises to be the clearest to write and therefor read. And make working. I hope.

Morse Code

Telegraph Key

Talking to the gang at lunch yesterday about radios. Morse Code is great for use in remote locations because you can get more range with less power. But Morse Code is kind of a pain, all those dots and dashes, but mostly because of the amount of time you have to spend to get good enough so that it becomes second nature.

It would not be too difficult to write a computer program that could turn text into Morse Code, and many programs have been written to do just that. But typing for some people is as alien as Morse Code. Well, we have pretty good speech recognition software now, my wife uses it to send text messages on her smart phone. We might have a solution. Or maybe not. Rumor has it that speech recognition is not done right in the phone. The rumor I heard is that your voice message is transmitted to a server, the server translates your message and then sends the text back to you, and then your phone sends the text message out. A cumbersome and horribly inefficient way of getting a message out, but hey, this is America, and if more power will solve the problem, then more power it is. If this is indeed the case, it is not going to work in a remote location, i.e. a location without cell phone service.

The other end (translating Morse Code to text) is another issue. Stephen C. Phillips has written a web based version. I don't know how many other people have attempted it.


I've been spending time on Quora recently. Many of the questions posted there are inane, but every once in a while I find something interesting, and I can usually find a simple math or algebra problem that is challenging enough to keep me entertained for a few minutes but not so difficult that it will strain my brain. Today I ran into this one:
How many ways are there to create a six digit number using digits from 0 to 9 without repetition such that the number has the digit 7 and exactly 3 even numbers?
 Usually these kinds of problems can be solved by simply multiplying some numbers together. For instance, the number of 6 digit numbers is 900,000, which is just 9 times 10 to the fifth power. You start with 9 because anything that starts with zero is not going to be a six digit number, so the first 100,000 numbers get lopped off immediately.

After that it gets a little tricky. I thought about it for a minute and then decided that it would be easier to write a simple computer program to count all the possibilities. There might be a way to calculate the answer, but there might not. A computer program can do it for sure and it shouldn't take that long to write. Besides, the program will use recursion and I have another program that uses recursion that has had my stymied for a couple of weeks, so writing this one will be like a tune up for my brain.

The program was easy enough to write, but it didn't work. Took me a couple of hours of mucking about to sort out what all the problems were. Muddy thinking was the big one.

The answer I got was 38,880, which agrees with the only other answer that was posted, and that person got it the same way I did: by writing a computer program. He wrote his using Python, I used C. You can see mine on github.

I am still not totally sold on github, they still insist on displaying everything with tabs set to 8 spaces. I use 4 spaces. I like 4 spaces. Why does github have to be so contrary? To their credit, they do allow you to set the tab spacing in their editor to 4 spaces, though they call it indent, which technically should only apply to the beginning of the line. Whatever. But when you leave edit mode, it goes back to 8 spaces and all your pretty formatting goes to shit.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Quotes of the Day

“Five percent of the people think;
ten percent of the people think they think;
and the other eighty-five percent would rather die than think.”
– Thomas Edison

“Any formal attack on ignorance is bound to fail because the masses are always ready to defend their most precious possession – their ignorance.” Hendrik Willem van Loon

“During my eighty-seven years, I have witnessed a whole succession of technological revolutions. But none of them has done away with the need for character in the individual or the ability to think.” – Bernard M. Baruch

“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”Isaac Asimov

The author's names link to books on Amazon.

Stolen from Culture of Ignorance via Anonymous on Quora


Box, closed
Dennis ordered a new screen for his phone. It came in this very cool box. The box is very light and very rigid. It feels like it is made of wood, but since the panels are only about 1/16th of an inch thick, it's not. Model makers use wood that thin, but I have never seen any mass produced item use wood that thin.

Box, open
So what is it? Uniberp tells us it is likely Bagasse MDF. MDF is really cheap, flexible, particle board used for interior trim on houses. It is used wherever you need a nice finish but no strength. The apparent rigidity of this box is probably due to its small size.

Bagasse is what's left over after the sugar has been extracted from sugar cane.

Bagasse board production line with annual output 30,000 cubic meters

The video shows a Chinese factory producing large MDF panels. They are much thicker than the panels used to make this box, but it's the best I could find. The ChinaSanMin company seems to be totally involved in this business.

Monday, May 21, 2018


Murray Head - One Night In Bangkok "From CHESS" (Official Video)

This song popped up on YouTube recently. I remember the tune from when it was a hit on the radio 30 (!?!) odd years ago. I didn't paid much attention to it at the time, it was a cool tune, it was on the radio and that was enough. Plus it's got some poetry, and don't forget they say "Bangkok" which tittilated my inner reptile (bang, cock, tee hee hee). But now I'm reading up on it and it seems it is from a musical that ran for three years in London. That was enough of recommendation that it was adapted for the American stage but it only ran here for a couple of months, which makes me wonder what the difference was between the two versions and why it was success in London but not in New York. Weird, man. It's back on the stage again. We shall see if makes an impression on America this time.

The lyrics make a couple of interesting references.
"One Night In Bangkok"

The American
Bangkok, Oriental Setting
But the city don't know what the city is getting
The crème de la crème of the chess world
In a show with everything but Yul Brynner

Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr perform "Shall We Dance" from The King and I
Time flies – doesn't seem a minute
Since the Tyrolean spa had the chess boards in it
All changed, don't you know that when you
Play at this level there's no ordinary venue

It's Iceland, or the Philippines, or Hastings
Or this place!

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but their pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you're lucky, then the god's a she
I can feel an angel slidin' up to me

The American
One town's very like another
When your head's down over your pieces, brother

It's a drag, it's a bore, it's really such a pity
To be looking at the board not looking at the city

The American
Whattaya mean?!
You've seen one crowded, polluted, stinking town
Somerset Maugham suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
T-girls1, warm and sweet (sweet)
Some are set up
In the Somerset Maugham suite

The American
Get Thai'd, you're talking to a tourist
Whose every move's among the purest:
"I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine"

One night in Bangkok makes the hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me

The American
Siam's gonna be the witness
To the ultimate test of cerebral fitness
This grips me more than would a muddy old river
Or reclining Buddha

But thank God I'm only watching the game
Controlling it

I don't see you guys rating
The kind of mate I'm contemplating
I'd let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

So, you better go back to your bars
Your temples, your massage parlors

One night in Bangkok and the world's your oyster
The bars are temples but their pearls ain't free
You'll find a god in every golden cloister
A little flesh, a little history
I can feel an angel slidin' up to me

One night in Bangkok makes the hard man humble
Not much between despair and ecstasy
One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can't be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me
Update June 2021 replace missing video.

Pic of the Day

Airliner graveyard in Victorville California
Google Maps provides almost the same view.

Airliner graveyard in Victorville California
More boneyard posts.
Via Posthip Scott

The Flowers of War

Flowers Of War | trailer US (2012) Christian Bale

We watched The Flowers of War on Amazon Prime last night. I wasn't impressed. There were too many people being stupid, but I suppose that is probably more realistic than the action-adventure movies were the hero always knows exactly what to do and then does it without any hesitation. My wife thoroughly enjoyed it.

The story revolves around a Westerner protecting some Chinese who have taken refuge in a western church compound during the Rape of Nanking. We saw another movie with a very similar storyline a while back. I suppose I can't blame the movie people for fixating on this one story. Outside of this one enclave it was pretty much just murder and mayhem and it wouldn't take long to get your fill of that. Unless you're demented. We'll get back to that.

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (Nanjing)
There is a Roman Catholic cathedral in Nanking (see above photo), but there is no Winchester Cathedral, which is where the movie is set.

Saving Private Ryan Private Jackson Sniper Scene
There were a couple of bits that stood out for me. One was the view through the Chinese sharpshooter's rifle scope. Usually these views in movies just have the bare visual cues to indicate that you are looking through the shooters scope, that is, the view is restricted in a circle in the center of an otherwise black screen, and there will be reticle overlay (see above photo).  In this movie they showed the image going from a blur and then into focus along with some distortion. This is more what it's like with rifle scopes. You need to have your head in the proper position, not just in line with scope, but also at the proper distance. It takes some getting used to.

This happened during the one action-adventure scene. The Chinese sharpshooter strews some grenades around an area, lures the bad guys in and then proceeds to decimate them by detonating the grenades with well placed rifle bullets. He dies a heroes death because there is only one of him and there is an endless supply of bad guys.

Another part that was (unpleasantly) well done was the portrayal of the Japanese troops as crazed with blood lust, bent on raping the women and killing everyone. Real horror show stuff. Don't see that on the screen very often, at least not in shows involving recent history.

Christian Bale portrays a mortician who has come to Nanking to prepare a recently deceased priest for burial. Makes you wonder what kind of idiot he is. Who would come to a city that has been turned into a war zone? But churches have their own agenda. There may be a war going on, but we have our rituals and we are going to observe them. And our mortician is not the brightest guy. His only interests money, booze and, when the harlots show up, women.

Harlots performing an ancient song

Oh yes, the harlots. A band of whores seeks refuge in the church and in spite of the whole world going to shit all around them spend their time as if everything was normal, i.e. squabbling about clothes and jewelry and who is being bitchy. A couple of them even sneak out to fetch some earrings and guitar strings from their old home which gets them, unsurprisingly, killed. I suspect logical thinking
might be difficult when you under stress, but gee-willickers, that was really stupid.

China still holds a grudge against the Japanese for WW2 while the Japanese would pretty much like to forget it ever happened.

WW2 eliminated most of the culture of mass-murder from Japan and Germany, but it is still going on in other parts of the world, notably Southeast Asia and Africa, though it is not quite as organized or on the same scale. But it still pops up on a semi-regular basis all over the world. Some demented jerk gets hold of a powerful device (gun, car or bomb) and proceeds to lay to waste all those around him. The news media has a field day with every instance of aberrant behavior. Mass murder gives them a chance to spout off about something different than who's-fucking-who. Sex, drugs and / or violence, it's all the same to them.

The more people you have, the more normal people you have, but you also get more people on the fringe and the more people you get on the fringe, the weirder and wider that fringe gets. I don't think we will ever get a handle on it. Even if we get the 'thought police', they will never be able to catch everybody, and that might be a good thing. If everyone is the same and we know how everybody thinks, would we every get any new ideas? Many new ideas are bad, but every once is a while a good one pops up. Stamping out the abnormal could very well lead to stagnation, and then, when the spiders from Mars invade, what are you going to do, Bucky? Well, punk, are you feeling lucky?

Roger Ebert wrote a decent review, though he complains about there being a white guy in the film. Problem is that if there hadn't been a white guy, there wouldn't have been a story. Well, not this story anyway.

Update February 2019 replaced missing video.
Update October 2021 replaced missing video.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Begali Telegraphy Keys

KTXL Fox 40 new Interviews the W6SFM Samuel F Morse Amateur Radio Club

Roberta mentions the Bengali sideswiper telegraph key in her report on her trip to the Dayton Hamvention. I found this video on the Bengali website. It's notable because they compare an old technology (Morse code) with a new one (texting), and also because we have female talking heads delivering a report without all the gush and blather so common in TV news reporting. I'm impressed.

Or maybe it's just that Fox news has designed their reporting for people like me, that is people who are old and white (and therefore wrong). I am beginning to think that people who denigrate Fox news are idiots, but I'm wrong, so that's okay.

I am a little concerned that precision mechanical devices are going the way of the dodo bird. It used to be that we were surrounded by these things (key locks, pushbutton radios for automobiles, typewriters, wrist watches, rotary dials on telephones) but they have all been replaced by electronical gizmos. Maybe it's okay. There are more people that ever before which means there are more subjects that are being explored, so maybe the precision mechanical gizmo niche will always have proponents who will ensure its survival.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


CHARITÉ - TRAILER (Miniserie, 2017) // UFA FICTION

This is a pretty great show. It takes it's name from Charité Medical Institute in Berlin. Founded in 1709, it is Europe's largest University clinic.

The show has your usual human drama, people being brave or foolish, falling in love, all that kind of thing, but it also chronicles a brief period in transformation of medicine from quackery to science.

The show is kind of amazing in that every scene touches on an element of human society that is very different from the way things are now. Women's rights is front and center, but there are so many things we take for granted now that were alien concepts back then. It makes for a weird experience. Indians (as in people from India) on display in the zoo as cannibals was a bit of a shock.

Several of the primary male characters in the show are historical figures that can be found in Wikipedia. The female lead, Ida Lenz, didn't make it into the history books.
The bacillus causing tuberculosis, M. tuberculosis, was identified and described on 24 March 1882 by Robert Koch. He received the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1905 for this discovery. - Tuberculosis
In 1890, Shibasaburo Kitasato and Emil von Behring immunized guinea pigs with heat-treated diphtheria toxin. The first cure of a person with diphtheria is dated to the 1891 Christmas holiday in Berlin. Von Behring won the first Nobel Prize in medicine in 1901 for his work on diphtheria. - Diphtheria
Rudolf Ludwig Carl Virchow . . . helped to discredit humourism, bringing more science to medicine.  . . .  he coined a well known aphorism: "Medicine is a social science, and politics is nothing else but medicine on a large scale".  . . . [The Charité campus is named for him.]
Ernst von Bergmann was a pioneer of aseptic surgery.
Bernhard Spinola was the director of the Charité hospital in Berlin. Emil von Behring married his daughter.

The lovely Hedwig Frieberg autographed this photo to her admirer Dr. Robert Koch in 1889 as a scandal was about to unravel.

Hedwig Freiberg was an actress who became Robert Koch's second wife.

Heinrich von Minckwitz is listed in the German Wikipedia. He might be the same guy as the one in the show. He was a lawyer, not a medical man.

Paul Ehrlich was a German Jewish physician who invented the precursor technique to Gram staining bacteria.

Kaiser Wilhelm II was the last German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia. "Bombastic and impetuous, he sometimes made tactless pronouncements on sensitive topics without consulting his ministers, culminating in a disastrous [interview] that cost him most of his influence." Sounds a lot like our current fearless leader.

Arthur Conan Doyle even makes a brief appearance. "Doyle was a staunch supporter of compulsory vaccination and wrote several articles advocating for the practice and denouncing the views of anti-vaccinators." He spent some time as a doctor, but it seems he was more successful as a writer of fiction.

Update February 2019 replaced missing video. This one doesn't have the English subtitles.


A parachute mine after being defused and partially dismantled by the Royal Navy Bomb Disposal Team
Posthip Scott sends us an entertaining story about a WW2 bomb squad in southern England. One paragraph talks about how they got inside a bomb:
A hole was then cut in the mine’s casing using a trepanner. This cutting tool was made of non-magnetic materials so that it could be used on magnetic mines and was driven by compressed air. After some time a four-inch circular hole had nearly been cut through the casing.
Okay, that sounds like how they cut the holes in the mine casing in the picture up top, but a treppaner? The only time I have heard that technique being used is when Stephen Maturin (the surgeon in the Patrick O'Brian sea stories) opened up the top of a guy's head to replace the damaged portion of his skull with a silver plate.

Brace and bit cranial trephine, Germany, 1701-1800
Stephen had a new "Lavoisier's trephine" and Google turned up the above image.

The bit at the center serves as a pivot to keep the cutting bit at the end of the arm on track.
This is probably more like the tool that the bomb squad guys used. A tool like this would normally be used in something like a milling machine, that is, a machine that could hold the tool and the target rigidly in place so that the depth of the cut made by the bit at the end of the rotating arm could be accurately controlled. It seems unlikely that they would have used an actual milling machine for this project, what with milling machines being in high demand for war production and the high probability of it being destroyed should the mine explode. I am sure the bomb squad guys cobbled up something.

The part that bugs me is the claim that is "was made of non-magnetic materials". I don't know that there are any non-magentic materials that could be used to cut through the mine's thick steel shell. I supposed you could use a grindstone of some sort, but that doesn't produce a sharp, well defined cut. And would it really need to be made of non-magnetic material? After all, the mine's casing is made of steel, and a magnetic fuse is going to be designed to react to the presence of the massive amount of steel that is a ship. So maybe the small amount of steel found in this tool wouldn't be enough to trigger a magnetic fuse, but any support and / or driving mechanism would, so those parts would need to be made of brass or wood or something similar.

WW2 UK Mine Disposal Locations

WW2Talk has some more pictures of bomb disposal activity at the stone frigate HMS Mirtle.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Reivers

The Reivers, a novel by William Faulkner, 1962. I picked this book up at the Goodwill in Beaverton last week when I arrived a few minutes early for Thursday Lunch with my gang at Thai Bloom. The cashier was an old-ish woman and she was dreadfully slow. I waited as patiently as I could, but when I finally got to the check-out counter there were half a dozen people behind me and instead of paying attention to me, she gets on the phone to call for assistance. If it had just been a quick, efficient, "Jasmine to the front counter" call, I would have waited, but she was still trying to figure out what number to dial, so I left two dollar bills on the counter (price tag stuck on the front cover said $1.99) and walked out.

Anyway, it's a tale about life in rural Mississippi in the first half of the 20th Century. I'm only a couple of dozen pages into it, and it seems like half of the words are people's names. Manfred de Spain has acquired a red E.M.F. racer (a car). Well, now we need a picture, and here we have one.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Love Never Dies

Extended Montage - Australia | Love Never Dies

My wife and I attended a performance of Love Never Dies at Keller Auditorium last night. It was a very impressive performance, full of singing, drama and elaborate stage sets. As is typical of these kind of shows there were also some dancing girls and a bit of comic relief.

It was an impressive production, but I am not sure how much it affected me. I didn't fall in love with it and I am not going to go out and buy the soundtrack, but then I am a bit of a barbarian. Beer and Rock & Roll are more my speed. However, I suspect there is a subtle effect of being immersed in an event that is the very pinnacle of what our civilization can produce. I am not quite sure what that effect might be, but it has to be better than what you get from being bombarded by commercial messages all frigging day long.

One of the props was an elaborate, ten-foot-tall horseless carriage. I had never seen anything like it, so when I got home I Googled Hammerstein steam carriage and the real thing popped right up. A similar prop makes a brief appearance in the above video around the 2:20 mark.

Trevithick Steam Carriage Replica
Supposedly the original was running around London back around 1802-1803. That was when Napoleon was still running around loose! That was a long time ago! This thing was probably the Bugatti Veyron of its time.

That got me thinking about the timeline of this whole production.

1802 - Trevithick Steam Carriage
1846–1919 - Oscar Hammerstein I (not II)
1850–1930 - Golden age of steamship travel
1881 - setting of Phantom of the Opera
1907 - setting of Love Never Dies
1909 - Phantom of the Opera novel published
1948 - Andrew Lloyd Weber born
1986 - Phantom of the Opera broadway show premier
2010 - Love Never Dies broadway show premier 

What has Hammerstein got to with any of this? I suspect an homage to a great musician. Supposedly he hires Christine to come to New York to sing, which is how this show gets started.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Fan Repair

Power tools at the ready. Didn't use the torch on this project.
We have a floor fan, i.e. a fan mounted on a pedestal that we got as a wedding present umpteen years ago. My wife drug it out the other day, probably something to do with the weather getting a little warmer, turned it on and it wouldn't go. Seems the bearings are gummed up. The fan will turn, but it takes more effort than the motor can deliver. This should be easy enough to fix. It's a simple electro-mechanical device put together with screws. I should be able to disassemble it, clean and oil and bearings and we should be as good as new. Hah. Foolish man. Three days later I finally completed this supposedly trivial task.

Front motor housing with stator

Disassembly goes well until I go to pull the knob that engages the oscillating mechanism. It looks like there is a Phillips head screw holding the knob on but no amount of force will convince it to turn. Fine, I'll drill out the screw head. That'll get the knob off and we'll worry about how to reattach it later. If I have a left-hand twist drill bit that would be better, as at some point the screw may give up and the drill, instead of cutting into the screw head will snag it and it will unscrew. Surprisingly I do have such a bit (where did that come from?), but it doesn't help. The bit cuts almost all the way through the screw head before it goes off center and destroys the knob. Well, we got the knob off, we can now proceed with the disassembly. But look: there was no screw. The screw head was simply a flare on the end of the shaft. We've seen things like this before on things made in China. They have made a copy of an American design, but they found a short cut that enabled them to use fewer pieces, but because they are making a copy, they make the copy look just like the original, including screw heads for screws that are no longer there.

Small parts. Left hand screw in jaws of Vise-Grips

The next hiccup is the screw holding the link to the oscillating crank. The screw head looks just like most of the other screws holding the motor together, but it won't come out. I end up using the left-hand twist drill bit on this one as well, but I still need to get the screw out of the hole. There is enough of the screw sticking out of the other end that I can grip it with Vise-Grips, but even with the head gone, it won't turn. Then I get the idea that maybe if I try tightening it a bit it will break free and then it will unscrew. Tightening it does break it free because it is a left hand thread!

Rear motor housing with oscillator, crank and the wrong screw

The rest of the motor comes apart easily. I clean and oil the bearings and start reassembly. Now I need to reattach the link to the oscillating crank. You might know where to find a left-hand thread screw of the correct size, but I sure don't, so I pick a likely looking sheet metal screw and use it. The arm is diecast so it goes in easily. But now I think that maybe I should do something to ensure that it won't unscrew, after all the people who originally built it went to the trouble to use a left hand screw here for that reason, and if this fan is going to run for another umpteen months, we don't want this screw backing out.

Gluing broken crank arm back together

So I pick up a center punch. I figure I could punch the side of the arm and it would distort the metal enough to solidly grip the screw and prevent it from ever turning. But when I hit the punch with a hammer, it cracks the arm in two right across the screw hole. Bah! Double bah. Triple humbug.

Oh well, time to break out the epoxy. Glue the end of the arm back on, along with the screw. Wrap some picture hanging wire around the arm to hold it together. As long as it doesn't get in any fights it should be fine.

The green wire has broken free

Green wire soldered back in place

One wire popped off of the switch and I soldered it back on. One of the feet has been coming off for years, a little silicon sealer secured that. I filed down the jagged end of the oscillator control. If I ever want to disengage it I can grip it with Vise-Grips.

This whole exercise makes me wonder which way is up. I don't imagine this fan cost more that $20 when it was new. Of course that was long ago enough that $20 was still real money. You can buy a similar item from Amazon or Ebay for about $30 now. I spent a couple hours working on this, triple that if you count all the time I spent looking for bits and pieces, so economically it doesn't make any sense, unless my time is worth nothing, which it apparently is. I mean who would hire someone who would spend hours trying to fix a cheap fan? But I am rather pleased that I got it running again, even though the oscillator control is not quite so easy to operate.

Update: Peter Grant has a related post.


Borderliner - Grenseland - Trailer

Started another European murder-mystery series this weekend. This one is a little different in that every episode adds a new twist to the story. We've watched about half and now we're starting to suspect even the most upright characters of being conniving, murderous scumbags. The lead character is gay but the actor is nominally straight. I cannot imagine playing that roll. For me that would be well nigh impossible.

Set in Norway, on Netflix.

Update February 2019 replaced missing video.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Why does a motorcycle turn when leaned over?

ISLE of MAN TT ( 2160p 4K) ✔️ THE GREATEST ✔️ Show On Earth ⚡️ ✅ Street Race .
Because I couldn't find a good counter-steer video, and we really can't have a post about motorcycles without a video, can we?

This question popped up on Quora this morning and it made me think, so I've copied my response for your amusement. Some of the other answers mentioned counter-steer, so I included my take on that subject as well.

Q: Why does a motorcycle turn when leaned over?

A: Good question. It doesn’t actually. You can lean a bike over and keep going in a straight line, but you need to shift your weight in the opposite direction to keep it balanced. But you are asking about turning, so this doesn’t matter.
I suspect that leaning and turning go together because of the profile of the tire. The outer edges of the tires are smaller in diameter than the center. When you are riding straight up the tires act like a cylinder and so roll straight ahead, like a can rolling across a table. When you lean the bike over, the tire becomes more like a cone and so it starts rolling in a circle, kind of like a funnel rolling across a table top.
I road for several years before I discovered the trick of opposite steer. Not sure how I managed to get around corners before that. In any case, you don’t actually move the bars, all you need to do to turn right is to push on the right hand handlebar. If you are traveling at any speed, like 30 MPH or better, the bar won’t actually move, but the effect of pushing on the handlebar is instantaneous and you will go zooming off to the right.
What is happening is the gyroscopic action of the front wheel is reacting to the pressure of your hand and pushing the bike over, which makes the wheels turn into cones which makes your bike follow the curve of the road.

Update January 2022 replaced missing video.
Update May 2023 replaced missing video. Previous video was taken down with this message:
This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Isle of Man Government Department for Enterprise

The title of the new video is near identical to the last one including all the stupid icons, and it seems to be the same video, so WTF?


Monday, May 7, 2018

Jeremy "More Power" Clarkson

Jeremy "More Power" Clarkson
The post isn't about Jeremy Clarkson. It's just that I needed a title, "More Power" seemed appropriate, but I can't say "More Power" without thinking of Jeremy Clarkson, so there we have it.

Piper Twin Commanche

I'm sitting here in the backyard, taking it easy after a hard day of being retired. I'm sitting here and every few minutes a small airplane flies over. Not too surprising, we live about a mile from the Hillsboro Airport, the second busiest airport in Oregon, not that that's saying much since there is only one real-international-fly-anywhere-in-the-world airport in Oregon: PDX.

Anyway, these small planes are flying over and they are making noise, as small planes are want (wont?) to do. And I'm thinking these guys are really struggling. They have the biggest engine they can afford / that the plane can carry, the engine is working as hard as it can, and they can't afford the loss of power and lift that carrying a decent muffler would cost them.

3.0-Liter V6 Twin-Turbo 400-HP Engine | INFINITI Q60 Coupe | INFINITI USA

What we need is a better engine. Maybe we should be using automobile engines. Automobile engines are getting crazy powerful these days. 300 horsepower out of small displacement V-6 is common. But we don't need 300 horsepower, we have that in existing Continental and Lycoming engines. What we need is 1,000 horsepower. No, make that 2,000. You can never have too much power.

Why should you need that much power in an airplane? Cars can go just as fast as small planes, and they generally have more power (200 vs. 100 HP). Because we are taking a big step up. 500 MPH is not just 5 times as fast as 100 MPH, it's 100 times as fierce. It's like the difference between chucking rocks at beer cans in your backyard and hitting a watermelon at a thousand yards with high-powered rifle.

Now I'm wondering why piston engines for airplanes have stagnated. Jet engines certainly haven't. And then I realized that the decision to pursue jet engines was made by the military and the military wanted speed and power, hang the cost. They didn't want to be distracted by two different engine development programs. They went with the one that promised the most power the soonest.

Spitfire Merlin engine replacement*

So what's the difference between a Merlin V-12 that was used in a Spitfire and a modern 1,000 HP conventional reciprocating engine? I suspect there isn't any one thing you could put your finger on, rather it's anything you touch. Everything is different, subtly, you wouldn't notice anything if you weren't intimately involved with the design. Oil, materials, machine techniques, just everything, but the end result is that a new 1,000 HP engine would weigh a fourth of what a Merlin weighs. (Okay, that might be pushing it. If anyone knows different, let me know.)

African Homebuilt Airplane

There are some people in home-built, experimental airplane circles who have been putting automobile engines in airplanes with mostly positive results, but commercially the small airplane industry is stuck in 1950. If it wasn't for the FAA, there would be more progress in aviation. So maybe the answer is to go someplace where the FAA isn't. Africa, I'm looking at you. Here's your chance to build your own FAA, one that isn't bogged down in bureaucratic bullshit. You could be a force in the airplane world. Yeah, right. Fat chance of Africa ever managing to get their shit together.

But maybe that's the way of future, total government incompetence, who you trust based entirely on rumor because nothing you hear from the media can be trusted. So you buy your car / house / airplane based on what the guy at the gas station said, and the only products that succeed are the ones from giant corporations that can afford a massive guerrilla marketing campaign.

Okay, I got a little distracted. The point I was trying to get to is why are propellers so large? A 100 hp engine swings a propeller that is as large in diameter as a good size jet engine. The one thing I hear when I ask this question is 'efficiency'. Well, screw efficiency, what we want is more power. The speeds modern car engines are like the speeds that jet engines turn than the prop speed of a 1000 HP Merlin. Maybe what we need is a small, high speed fan connected directly to a high speed engine. You are going to need some duct work since the blast from the small diameter will be directed directly at the engine. You might be able to generate enough thrust just from the suction, but it would be nice if you got a kick from the blast as well. Directing it at the engine will ensure that it is wasted. It might not be as efficient as a propeller, and it would require some fancy ductwork, but you wouldn't need the speed reducer, a heavy thing that might break.
Pratt & Whitney Speed Reducer
Looks remarkably like the ones used in WW2 radial aircraft engines

On the other hand, Pratt & Whitney is stuffing their old WWII speed reducers in a jet engine in order to lower the speed on the fan. Or maybe we go electric: engine drives generator, generator drives motor. No gears. No mechanical connection except for a couple of fat cables. Works like magic.

Of course if we really knew what we were doing, we would be using electric power to push the air past airplane directly through some kind of magically, subatomic, quantum mumbo-jumbo.

*this picture only exists inside of a search engine. I got it from Google, who claims it comes from Pinterest, but Pinterest claims it came from Google.