Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Ivan Groove

Отава Ё - Про Ивана Groove (русское готическое R'N'B) - Otava Yo
[Otava Yo - About Ivan Groove (Russian Gothic R'N'B) - Otava Yo]

Russian hillbillies? Pleasant tune, happy summer video.

IMAX Projector

30 Year Old IMAX Film Projector Is Still Running/POV

I thoroughly enjoyed watching this video of obsolete precision machinery operating smoothly. I suppose it comes from a combination of my natural gearhead tendencies and growing up in the machine age.

Suffering Fools

Extended Trailer: Locked Up Season 1 (Vis A Vis) | Channel 4

We started watching this Spanish crime series on Netflix a couple of days ago, but last night I bailed out. The story is about a nominally middle class, law abiding family that gets sucked into the criminal justice vortex. Given the pressure they are operating under and their naivete, their stupidity might be expected, but gee willikers, there is some really stupid shit going on. In any case, I couldn't take it anymore and bailed out. Also, the casual viciousness of the ringleaders in the woman's prison is a little hard to stomach. That might have something to do with why I quit watching it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, this comic showed up in this morning's paper:

Pearls Before Swine - Thinkyman
which hits kind of close to home. There are no end of troubles in this world, or at least no end of people complaining about troubles, but what can be done? Fixing societies ills requires working with people, or more to the point, getting a critical mass of people to agree on what should be done, and I've never been very good at that, or maybe I just don't have the energy or patience. Instead, I try to avoid problem areas. Avoiding problems is not too difficult as long as you have the freedom of movement to get away from them. Not everyone has that luxury. Of course, there are some people who seem to thrive on conflict.

So I hide out in my cave and think deep thoughts and some of them even make it into this blog and out into the world. Some people might read them, and it might affect their opinion on some issue and maybe that will alleviate some problem, somewhere. One can hope. Or not.

Lately I've been wondering why some big cities seem to have so many troubles, problems with homelessness, gangs, crime, poverty, etc. Much of the property in urban areas is owned by a relatively small portion of the population. I would think that property owners would be concerned about property values, and further that the social problems that inner cities are experiencing would have a negative effect on those property values. Vast areas of Detroit were abandoned. Yes, people lost their homes, but the mortgage companies that financed those home also lost a boatload of money.  Why aren't the property owners doing something to combat these social ills? Could if be that the will of the mob is too strong? People would just rather abandon millions of dollars worth of property than try to fight an army of people whose only interest is conflict?

Likewise, I suspect the War On Drugs [tm] has become such a large part of our society that legalizing drugs would have a huge negative effect. We don't have enough for people to do now. At least the War On Drugs [tm] is keeping huge number of people employed. Yes, a lot of them are shit jobs. Being an inmate in a prison has got to be the worst, but at least you are helping to keep prison guards employed, so that ought to count for something when you meet St. Peter.

Computerization has been a double edged sword. It has made material goods cheap and plentiful, but it has also put zillions of people out of work. What used to cost $100 to be done by a person now costs a $1 to be done by a machine. When you have cut the cost of production by that much, your profit margins become huge. You can cut your prices and still make more money than god, which is why we have a proliferation of billionaires. What we don't have is something for the great mass of impoverished people to do, other than pick fights. I'm thinking we need to start a big building program, building things out of stone blocks the way the ancients did. It takes a lot of manpower to build things out of stone. All we need is a god emperor to command everyone to build a ginormous temple.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Half Bound World

The Baroque Cycle
Looking for anything about the computing machine I encountered in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, I came across this wonderful essay by John Derbyshire.

Exchange Building, Seattle

Exchange Building, Seattle
I'm reading Fall by Neal Stephenson. On page 87 I encounter this:
". . . a great big old [bank] building . . . During the 1930s, this building had probably been considered tall and futuristic. Now it was medium-sized and retro-quaint. . . . It was on a steep downtown slope. On the downhill side you walked into the first floor, but on the uphill side the pedestrian entrance was on the fourth story."
That sounds specific enough that he might be referencing a real building. An inquiry on reddit receives several responses. Downtown Seattle has numerous steep hills, so there are several buildings that might fit the description, but the Exchange Building seems to be the best.

The 2nd Avenue entrance to the Exchange Building - Hunter Kerhart

The entrance and the lobby are period fancy.

Exchange Building Elevator Lobby

Deloitte Digital Creative Studio - Keith Nielsen
Some tenants have gone for more modern decor.

The picture of the building at the top is a Google Maps 3D view. None of the pictures I found gave a good view of the four story difference between the front door and the back, or if they did, they didn't show the whole building. This one is isn't perfect, but it's the best I could come up with.

Something Worthwhile in the Local Newspaper

It doesn't happen very often, but every once in a while I find something agreeable.

By Billy J. Williams, United States Attorney for the District of Oregon.
    Portlanders have a rich history of demonstrating peacefully for many different causes. Over the past year, there have been nearly 200 free speech events in the city and the vast majority were peaceful.
    But once again, Portland has made national headlines because otherwise peaceful First Amendment protests on June 29 turned violent.
    Civic discourse should be civil; people should feel free to express their views without fearing injury. Political violence cannot be tolerated. It is unacceptable for individuals and groups to use violence and exploit peaceful protests to promote their ideology. It must stop.
    Political extremists using the First Amendment as a cloak have infiltrated these peaceful protests.
    Following each episode of politically-motivated violence, the police get blamed: for not doing enough; for doing too much; for pandering to the right; or for being agents of the left. Large demonstrations are either under-policed or over-policed depending on your perspective.
    Blaming law enforcement is not the answer.
    We cannot simply decry violence while failing to adequately equip and support law enforcement. Police officers are expected to quickly mobilize and protect thousands of peaceful demonstrators from individual acts of violence. Yet, as I write this, the Portland Police Bureau faces a shortage of 128 officers or more than 10% of its budgeted personnel.
    And to further complicate matters, because of unique liability issues, the city recently lost mutual support commitments from multiple law enforcement agencies in surrounding jurisdictions. Without these mutual support agreements, Portland cannot call in additional officers from other metro law enforcement agencies in a time of need.
This is an untenable position for the Portland Police Bureau and may discourage law-abiding Oregonians from exercising their First Amendment rights for fear the police cannot guarantee their safety.
    Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw has raised several proposals that would better equip officers to protect the safety of demonstrators and prevent violence and property damage.
    These commonsense measures include banning masks at demonstrations and filming protests to document criminal acts and aid prosecution. An earlier proposal backed by Mayor Ted Wheeler to divide opposing groups into separate free speech zones was rejected by the city council. The council should re-evaluate their decision and consider Chief Outlaw’s new proposals.
    These are reasonable and proven tactics employed by many other cities to preserve freedom of speech, not hamper it. Civic and community leaders need to recognize that violent interference with peaceful protest activity will not go away without taking real action.
    As a community, we need to call out violent perpetrators on the left and the right and stand up for civility. We are a nation and community made stronger by our many diverse beliefs and our ability to engage in a civil, peaceful manner.
    This begins with reclaiming something these protestors are trying to take from us: a respect for each other’s views and an ability to disagree without resorting to violence.
Step up, Portland. It’s time to reclaim civility, support law enforcement and restore order in the streets of the Rose City.
The only thing I object to is his use of the word 'commonsense'. Sense seems to be in short supply these days, and I certainly wouldn't call it common, but perhaps it's just that the troglodytes are making so much noise that detecting any sense in the general uproar requires super-human fortitude.

P.S. I recently have acquired a new found respect for lawyers. The firm we engaged to do some remodeling sent me a contract to review and sign. It took me a week to gather the gumption to tackle reading it and even then it was horribly painful. It wasn't even very long or very complicated. Short and straight forward, but it was just agony to have to wade through it. Lawyers have to deal with this shit every day. Yes, I know, it's all their own doing, but this is world we live in, and you know that every one of those awkward phrases has been hammered out through some bitterly contested lawsuit and / or criminal trial. Thank god I don't have to deal with this kind of shit very often.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Nordstrom Cafe

Washington Square Mall
We had a late lunch / early dinner at the Nordstrom Cafe at Washington Square Mall yesterday afternoon. There is a row of windows that face out into the mall (above). We've eaten there several times over the last few months and I'm always impressed by this view. It's like the interior of a palace from someone's fantasy, clean, well lit, polished marble floors, well finished storefronts, and no vagrants or bums. I must admit there wasn't anyone dressed like royalty either.

A place like this must cost a pretty penny, but as long as everyone is well behaved it could last forever, or at least until fashion dictates that it's time for a change. It's privately owned, so anyone who misbehaves can be ejected, so you need to have people charged with security on hand. They do a pretty good job, I think I saw one car patrolling the parking lot. Not like the train stations in Paris where they have soldiers with machine guns scattered about.

The food is decent. They have, as you might expect, all kinds of foo-foo (salads and such), but they also have real meat, like beef, though nothing as American as a cheeseburger. The prices are a little warm, about $15 for a sandwich, but that seems to be about the going rate for lunch at any kind of sit-down restaurant these days. The business is streamlined, you order and pay at the entrance, but after that the service is just like a regular restaurant. They bring the food to your table and if you need anything else like drink refills or a take-away box, they handle that as well. Since the server (I was going to say waitress, but I think at least once the role was filled by a guy) doesn't have to deal with taking your order, which can take forever if you have a foodie who wants to discuss every little detail of the meal, I think you might be justified in leaving a smaller than usual tip, say 10% instead of 15.

Stupid Effing Wordpress

Dilbert Biometric Scanner
Sarah A. Hoyt has a fine rant about accursed petty bureaucrats. I tried to leave a comment telling her what I thought, but Wordpress wants a password. My browser remembers the password to every other website I have ever visited, but not Wordpress. Fine, make up a new password. Sorry, you've used that one before. Try a different one, same response. Finally write a sentence full of cursing and it accepts that one. Doesn't matter, because whoever is in charge of remembering passwords will surely forget this one as well.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

We've Been Played

I am really tired of hearing about the congressional investigations, Robert Mueller, Trump, etc, so I was very pleased to come across this:
Here's how the Russians "influenced" U.S. politics.
They had a couple of teams, one feeding information to the Democrats and one feeding information to the Republicans. Ditto for salting information on social media.
They did not care who won the election. But whatever side won, they then provided data on their activities to the other side. Trump won, the Democrats got the information they needed to start an investigation that lead to the Mueller Report. But if Clinton had won, the Republicans would have gotten a similar data dump that would have led them to investigate the Russian influence that had led to Clinton's victory.
The actual purpose was not to ensure anyone's victory. It was to sow further infighting between the parties, tie up the U.S. government and the President, and limit that President's effectiveness and legitimacy. It's a long con based on their understanding of how we run election campaigns and the desperation of political operatives to gain any advantage. - Borepatch
Totally fits with my conspiracy theory world view.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Incendiary Cossack song - Oh, you oyisya

Зажигательная казачья песня - Ойся, ты ойся
[Incendiary Cossack song - Oysya, you oysya]

Horses and sabres. I think this might be the Russian version of Yee Haw! Pretty great in any case.

Water Heater Problems

Talking to people at a neighborhood barbeque a couple of weeks ago and the subject of rent control comes up, not too surprising since some of the folks are landlords of one sort or another. They might own a couple of houses or a duplex or some such. I've known several people who have gotten into this and they all claim it is good way to make money. I never thought it was worth the hassle. Just tending to my own house is a real pain in the tukas.

Right now I am trying to figure out what to do about the my stupid water heater. The water heater that came with house lasted for like 25 years before it sprung a leak and had to be replaced. I did it my self, it's not terribly difficult. Once you drain the water out they are like an empty beer can. There are three pipes (hot water, cold water and the gas line) and the exhaust flue to connect and you are ready to go. Problems started showing up shortly thereafter and intermittently ever since. The old water heater was totally mechanical. The new one has a thin film of electronics applied over the mechanics and this is where the problem arises. Every once in a while, the tiny electronic brain would decide that one of the sensors was not operating properly and it would shut off the gas, the water would go cold and I when I discovered this betrayal I would fly into a rage. Turn the dial on the control box to Off and then wait a few minutes for the thermocouple to cool down and stop producing energetic electrons. When everything has died down, you can relight the pilot and you are back in business. So what's wrong with the sensor? Who knows? The thing will run for another year or so before it flames out again.

If there really was a problem with the sensor, the water heater should not have continued to run after being restarted. I suspect there is some electrical connection, somewhere in this black box, that is weak and whenever the temperature makes a big change, the contraction of the metal bits means it loses contact and the heater loses its mind. But why does it start up again when I relight the pilot? Was my body radiating enough warmth to cause the metal to expand and reconnect? Or was it just my aura having a psychic effect on the electrons in the immediate area?

Now it's developed a new problem: the controller just shuts down, no flashing trouble codes, the status LED just goes black. Restarting it has gotten to be more difficult and has to be done several times a week. I thought about calling Whirlpool, but I've never gotten any satisfaction from them before, and I would liable to start screaming at whatever unfortunate happens to answer the phone, and that's not going to do anyone any good. I could order a new controller and sensors and replace the ones I have, but how do I know these are going to be any better? I think I'm going to go talk to George Morlan, the Water Heater King, see if he has any advice on the subject. He'll probably want to sell me a new water heater. As long as it's not a Whirlpool, I'll probably buy it.

Fancy Houses

8316 SW Mapleridge Dr. Portland, OR 97225
Went looking at houses yesterday. Wife thinks she wants to live closer in to downtown Portland, but we both like our backyard, so she's looking for a place that might have something similar, which constrains our options. We're thinking we want something smaller, but all the places that meet our other criteria are just as big as our McMansion or bigger. All these places are expensive, somewhere north of half a million bucks.

The first place we looked at (above) has a tremendous view. You can see all the way to the beach. Well, you could if the coast range wasn't there. One thing I noticed about these houses is that access is a little difficult. It's not that difficult, it's just difficult compared to where we are now. We live in relatively flat suburban neighborhood. It's a short quarter-mile jaunt to a thoroughfare that will take you to downtown Hillsboro or the freeway. The houses we looked at are in some out-of-the-way locations. The roads that lead to some of them snake around for a ways, which makes going anywhere kind of a pain.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Area 51

United States Government Weapons Test Sites, Nevada.
Area 51 is the orange rectangle. Las Vegas is in the lower right corner.

Map is from OpenStreetMap. Google doesn't show these areas, probably because there aren't any fast food joints nearby.
I was amused to hear that there was a movement afoot to storm Area 51. I doubt whether a dozen people will go to the trouble to actually travel there. I mean it's way out in the middle of fricking nowhere. Meanwhile, the meme makers have been having some fun.


2019 Raikoke volcano - NASA / ISS
There is a string of islands that heads northeast from Japan until it reaches the Kamchatka Penninsula that hangs off the east coast of Russia. Raikoke is one of those islands. Blew up last month and NASA snapped this photo.What I noticed is the cloud of smoke and dust from the eruption has a relatively flat top. Why would that be? Could it be there is a limit to how high a cloud can go, even if it's an explosive cloud? I suppose it could be that smoke particles need a certain density of air to support them, and eventually you get so high and the air gets so thin that it won't support even microscopic smoke particles.

Thinking about microscopic smoke particles reminded me of a weird thing that happened a couple of years ago. Every summer, the forest fires spring up all over the western USA. One summer it had been particularly bad (this year maybe?). The air had been hazy and you could smell the smoke, even though the nearest fire was hundreds of miles away. But then the next day the sky was blue and the smell of smoke was gone, but the sky sure was bright. On normal, sun shiny day, I don't need my sunglasses. It's only when it's overcast that I wear them. But on that day the sky was so bright I needed my sunglasses, even though it was clear and not overcast. The sky seemed to sparkle. It wasn't something you could put your finger on, no bright spots appeared in my vision, but there was definitely something going on. Very weird.

Via Starts with a Bang!

Friday, July 19, 2019

Yankee, Part 2

Wolf getting a tattoo
In Episode 6 of Yankee, Wolf gets a tattoo with just these two numbers, so I thought I would see if there was anything there. 

29.3333300, -110.6666700

There isn't, it's just some random piece of desert. You will notice that in the tattoo the numbers are in reverse order and the minus sign is missing. 110 has to be longitude, otherwise you would be over the pole, and it has to be negative, otherwise you are going to be in China. Changing the sign on the 29 would put you in the ocean, regardless of whether the 110 was positive or negative.

Pic of the Day

Aviation Week & Space Technology cover, October 25, 1965
Looks like a jet engine on a test stand running with full afterburner. Via daily timewaster.


Yankee Season 1 Official Netflix HD Trailer

We've been watching Yankee, a series on Netflix about a gringo involved with Mexican drug cartels. It's not a great show, but fairly realistic, given that it's a TV series. My biggest complaint is the stupidity of some characters, especially Yankee, but then, it's probably realistic stupidity. These guys try to use their brain but, like all people, they run on emotion, which leads to all kinds of cock-ups, which usually ends with wholesale slaughter. So we get our action packed entertainment combined with a realistic view of the inter-gang warfare going on in Mexico.

In an episode we watched last night, some thugs doused a casino with gasoline and set it on fire, killing a bunch of people. This morning I see that someone in Japan has set a theater on fire and killed a bunch of people. Because Japan society is tightly wound, I suspect that incident was due to someone's inner animal escaping their constraints and not a deliberate act of war ordered by the leader of a gang.

P.S. While the trailer is all Spanish, on our screen, the Spanish comes with subtitles in English.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hydraulic Throwout Bearing

1974 MGB GT
MG's are a little small and cramped for my taste, but this one is pretty and since someone has replaced the original L4 engine with a V8, it is probably a real tiger.

Howe Racing hydraulic throw-out bearing
The story mentions that they employed a "Howe Racing hydraulic throw-out bearing", which got me to wondering why you would bother with such a contraption. I mean the standard mechanical fork was good enough for the umpteen zillion clutches installed in cars with manual transmissions, why do we need to change? But then I thought about it and realized that the mechanical fork requires either:
  • a complicated mechanical linkage,
  • a stout flexible cable (like bicycle handbrake cables, but stouter), or
  • hydraulic master and slave cylinders and their associated lines.
Hooking up these mechanisms is complicated by the location. The floor pan, the firewall and the bell housing all come together in one spot. The bell housing (which houses the clutch, called a bell because of it's shape) is generally right next to your right foot. I am sure there have been some very slick designs that managed to fit all the required pieces into the available space. I am also sure there have been some truly horrible designs that required a mechanic to have the skills of Houdini to work on them.

The hydraulic throw-out bearing is conceptually simple. It replaces the slave cylinder and the clutch release fork so it gets rid of some parts and frees up some space. But if it ever fails, you have to pull the transmission to replace it. On the other hand, a well made version of this part should last forever, so it should never need to be replaced.

I went looking for a picture that would illustrate the clutch release mechanism, but after poking around for a good long while, I failed to find one that was clear and simple enough for my purposes. It's a relatively simple mechanism, but all the illustrations I found assume a certain level of familiarity with automotive machinery.

Via Engine Swap Depot

Fray Bentos

The Real 'Fury' Tank - The Last Stand of 'Fray Bentos'

This video popped up on YouTube. It tells a crazy story about a WW1 tank crew, but it doesn't tell us how the tank got it's name. Fortunately we have Google, who knows everything even if it isn't willing to tell us exactly what we want to know right off the bat. Sometimes we have to dig a little.

Fray Bentos (upper left), Beunos Aires (lower left), & Montevideo (lower right)
Fray Bentos is a town in Uraguay, about 100 miles upstream of Beunos Aires, Argentina.

Fray Bentos 'Classic' Steak and Kidney
Fray Bentos is famous for the meat packing plant that produced tinned (canned) beef. In the 100-odd years they were in business they slaughtered zillions of cattle and produced bazillions of cans of tinned beef that were shipped world-wide.

Fray Bentos Abandoned Meat Packing Plant
This plant is so significant that it has become a world heritage site. The site is not all that impressive, a bunch of old, decaying industrial buildings. I suspect the reason it was made a world heritage site is  because of the impact it had on feeding Europe.

Okay, so we know where the name 'Fray Bentos' comes from, but how did it get applied to the tank?  You may have already figured this out. Because being inside the tank when things were heating up outside, the crew felt like tinned meat.

UPM's Fray Bentos Pulp Mill (foreground) and the 
Libertador General San Martín Bridge to Argentina (background)
The bridge is like 3 miles long but only 2 lanes.

P.S. I always thought 'frontispiece' was spelled 'frontspiece'. Don't think it needs the first i, but that's spelling for you, always sticking in extra letters where they aren't needed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Cargo Scanning

Scan of excavator showing contraband
The above image of the excavator comes to us from a news report in Australia. I remember there was some noise some years ago about scanning incoming cargo, but I hadn't heard much more about it. Now it seems that it has become an industry in itself and they are scanning something like 80% of all incoming containers (in the USA).

X-ray scan of an automobile
Cargo scanning is done mostly to detect nuclear materials (stuff that could be used to make a bomb) and contraband (typically drugs).
Backscatter technology produces an image that resembles a chalk etching
Then there is security screening at airports. Some people make a big fuss about it.

Migrants are seen in a tractor trailer after being detected by police X-ray equipment in Concepcion del Oro, Zacatecas state, Mexico July 7, 2019 in this still image from video footage. Secretary of Public Security/Handout via Reuters
Sometimes people show up in cargo scans.

Via Just A Car Guy

Monday, July 15, 2019

Making an AR15 from soda cans

Making an AR15 from beer cans, MAIN VIDEO. GunCraft101

Thoroughly entertaining.

Via The Silicon Graybeard

Update September 2019 replaced missing video with a copy from FULL30.
Update March 2023 replaced missing video with a copy from Juxxi.

Flying Rabbit

Flying Rabbit in Polonia

Just for grins, I thought I would see if I could find this bunny on Google Maps, and I did.

Thursday, July 11, 2019


U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Munro crew interdicts suspected drug smuggling vessel

Action on the high seas! But who are the criminals here? We have drug smugglers in a high speed, semi-submersible boat being pursued by US Coast Guard boats on the high seas. Yes, the USA has laws against importing some things, and the smugglers may be attempting to bring their illicit cargo ashore somewhere in the USA (okay, everyone knows that's what they intend to do), but they aren't in USA territorial waters, so do we have any legal right to stop them? Oh, that's right, we have guns and we are God's gift to the world, so we are right and they are wrong and if you disagree you are a heretic of the first water.

The reason we continue to have laws against recreational drugs is that a sizable fraction of our economy depends on maintaining high prices for those drugs. You can argue about the morality of the law and of the use of drugs, but none of that matters. The only thing that matters is the money. Confiscating drug shipments restricts the quantity available and so helps maintain the prices and profit margins. At least I think that's what's going on.

Via daily timewaster who apparently disagrees with everything I have said.

Update next day, replaced missing video with one from Popular Mechanics. Key question is where this happened.
The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Munro will offload more than 39,000 pounds of cocaine and 933 pounds of marijuana worth a combined estimated $569 million, which was seized in international waters in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. - United States Coast Guard Media Advisory
It was in international waters, but who's going to complain about the US Coast Guard playing at being pirates?

Arrecifes Autodrome

Arrecifes Autodrome, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina

The guys building reproductions of old sports cars test them at the Arrecifes Autodrome, which is just down the road about five miles. Didn't find out much more about it, other than a couple of drivers were killed there back in the 1930's.

Lightning Rod

Obelisco de Buenos Aires
I'm reading about a crew of young guys building reproductions of old sports cars. They've set up shop in Todd, Argentina, "located 170 kilometers from the Obelisk". Hey, I've been to Argentina but I don't remember anything about an obelisk, so I go checking. Okay, it's in Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires is a big city, so it's possible that I missed it. Reading up on it in Wikipedia I was struck by how it seems to be a political lightning rod:
1936 - The obelisk was built by a German company, which completed its work in a record time of 31 days, with 157 workers.
1939 - the City Council sanctioned the demolition of the Obelisco, however, the ordinance was vetoed by the municipal executive power.
1973 - decorated as a Christmas tree.
1975 - during the Peronist government of Isabel Martínez de Perón, a ring-shaped rotating sign was hung around the obelisk, with the motto El silencio es salud (Silence is health). Although it was allegedly geared against motorists creating excessive noise, it was widely interpreted as a statement calling Argentines to refrain from expressing their political views.
1976 September - La Noche de los Lápices (The Night of the Pencils), was a series of kidnappings and forced disappearances, followed by the torture, rape, and murder of a number of young students, during the last Argentine dictatorship, also known as the National Reorganization Process.
2005 - the obelisk was covered by a giant pink condom to commemorate the World AIDS Day.
2006 - To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the La Noche de los Lápices, the monument was converted into a giant pencil.
The Obelisk is about one-half the height of the Washington Monument.

P.S. Looking through my old posts about Argentina, I found I had posted a photo of the obelisk once before.

Via Just A Car Guy

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Old Soldier

Grenadier Burg, 24th Regiment of the Guard, 1815
From page 92 of the THIRD NOTE-BOOK of Captain Coignet:
We set out for Tours following the appointed halting- places, and on arriving there we were received by General Beauchou, who presented to us an old soldier who had served eighty-four years as a private in our half-brigade. The Consul had given him, on retiring, the privilege of eating at the general's table; he was one hundred and two years old, and his son was in command of a battalion. A chair was brought for him; he wore the uniform of an officer, but without epaulets. There was still in the corps a sergeant of his time, who had served thirty-three years. 
Photo of this veteran of Napoleon's army was taken around 1857, which would make him old, not 102, but old. Like me. Original black & white images can be found here.

Pic of the Day

FV (Fishing Vessel) Lady Samantha
Looks like my nephew is following in his sister's footsteps and has signed on to a fishing boat in Alaska.

Via Iaman

Monday, July 8, 2019


Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats - S.O.B. (Official Music Video)

I am generally opposed to using foul language and especially in public, but sometimes you just gotta let it fly. (Where have I heard that before?) Alcohol is a curious drug. I remember missing a question on the drivers license exam (when I moved to Oregon, not when I first took the test 50 years ago). The question was about alcohol and it asked 'what is the first thing alcohol affects?' There were several choices like speed or distance or color or something but the correct answer was judgement. Could be, but then I came across this video, wherein Jordan B Peterson claims that alcohol doesn't affect your ability to judge things accurately, it's just that you don't care about the consequences so much.

Then YouTube served up this video. Man, I swear I've seen every one of these scenes. Or maybe I've just seen numerous similar scenes. I mean drinking is like a required element in every drama.

If You Don't Start Drinkin' (I'm Gonna Leave) - George Thorogood

I'm not as enamored of this tune as the first one, but the video is terrific.

Sun Dogs

Iaman reports from somewhere in Arizona:
Had a couple of road runners ouside my window yesterday negotiating a catch of a lizard.
Went on a hike with Randy last evening, there are old mines here, one is filled with crystalline water.  The dogs Brill (old cow dog) & Pup run amok in the cactus and rocks seemingly oblivious to rattlers which this is prime habitat for. Both have been bitten.
One neighbor who has no dogs suffers with Coati running on his roof at night, and mice chewing his trucks wiring.  He miss- identified them as ring tailed cats which are  native here too.  A new neighbor who doesn't like dogs, has trail-cams of mountain lions padding around his house.  Randy's dog Pup, big german shepherd, has been ambushed and mixed with up with coyote packs a couple times. 
Weather perfect in morning till 10, then heat is relentless till 7PM.  Randy, a desert rat, goes out shirtless hatless in midday UV walking the dogs on the near vertical hills, I'm attempting to acclimate to the Chihuahua desert life.  Houses relatively cheap here,  may have something to do with no water and relentless solar assault.  Pools scarce, neighbor has one but is always on guard against monsoon winds and debris.

Pic of the Day

Jaguar XKE engine at Chico

Via Posthip Scott


Nambé Bowl
California Bob scored this bowl at a flea market over the weekend. Boy, I haven't seen one of those in years. I think my folks had a couple, probably sent to them by my Aunt Margaret, who lived in New Mexico. They are kind of cool, being all shiny and swoopy, kind of like a UFO. Must be something about New Mexico, Roswell is there after all.

The bowls are not good for much except maybe holding jelly beans or your keys. They are kind of expensive and you don't want them getting all scuffed up. The company originated in Nambé, New Mexico, but their stuff is made in Asia now.

Sunday, July 7, 2019


Storks nesting on a rooftop in Puente La Reina
I'm reading The Note-Books of Captain Coignet. Chapter 3 finds him traveling. He crosses the border from France into Spain near the west coast:
We started for Bayonne; the distance was great; we suffered from the heat, but at last we reached the bridge of Irun, Our comrades found a stork's nest and took the two young ones. The authorities came to the colonel to reclaim them; the alcalde requested him to restore them, because these birds were necessary in that climate for the destruction of serpents and lizards; he said that the galleys was the penalty for those who killed storks in that country. Consequently they are seen there everywhere; the plains are covered with them, and they walk about in the streets of the towns. Old wheels are put up for them on the top of high posts, and they make their nests in the gable-ends of the buildings.
Reminds me of a story I read when I was a kid. I can almost see the pictures in my mind's eye. I thought it was set in Holland though, not in Spain. Rooting around I find that Hans Christian Anderson wrote a story about storks. I wonder if that could have been it. Problem is the story doesn't mention wagon wheels and I remember that bit very distinctly.

Puente La Reina (site of photo above) is about 50 miles south of Irun.

WW1, the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving . . .

WWI Bombs Are Still Being Found Over 100 Years Later

I've done posts on this before. It's gotten to be like a staple, but it's still pretty weird.

Via Posthip Scott.


AIRBUS A380 F-HPJ Greenland Fan Hub Recovery by GEUS / BEA (June 2019)

A couple of years ago an airliner engine disintegrated while it was flying over the North Atlantic Ocean. The airliner landed with all passengers and crew safe in Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada. The airline people, pagans that they are, were unwilling to accept that an act of God caused the engine to fail. They wanted to examine the pieces of engine and apply their godless scientific acumen to try and figure out what happened. In order to do that though they needed to locate the pieces that fell off.

Map of flight path with altitudes
Being as the aircraft was over Greenland and they knew exactly where it was when this happened, if should be easy enough to find them. And they did find some of the pieces right off. But then it started snowing, winter came and they were stymied. Come the following spring they resumed their search, but now everything is covered with snow. And while they knew where some parts had fallen, other parts might be miles away. The airliner was flying along at 500 knots at an altitude of 35,000 feet when the engine exploded. Predicting where anything jettisoned from that altitude at that speed, not to mention rotating at several thousand RPM, will land is going to be guess work at best.

The Falcon 20 F-GPAA with SETHI. The two containers that it carries under the wings are part of the system - BEA via Austin Lines (Polar Research Equipment) and Thue Bording (Aarhus HGG)
But the science guys persisted. They got out their ground penetrating radar, attached it an airplane, flew a search pattern over the suspect area and got some hits.

Ground Penetrating Radar Set on Sled
Then the put their radar on a sled and dragged it back and forth over the snow until they had a pretty good idea where they might find something, and then they started digging.

The Bureau d'Enquetes et a'Analyses has a full report available (pdf).

Saturday, July 6, 2019


Dinosaurs on the Moon!
Daily Timewaster (so you know how valuable this post will be) posts a picture, which leads to the above scene from Moon Zero Two.

Moon Zero Two Inception

One of the stars of this Hammer Film is Catherine Schell:
Born in Budapest, Hungary, Catherine is the scion of a once wealthy German family. Her father, the Baron Paul Schell von Bauschlott, was a well-respected diplomat until the Nazis confiscated their estates during WWII. Her family was living in poverty until 1948 when they sought asylum in Vienna and Salzburg as the communist regime began to take hold in Hungary. In 1950, her family emigrated to the States and the Baron renounced his title in order for his family to gain citizenship. In 1957, her father joined Radio Free Europe, taking the family to Munich where she developed an interest for acting and trained at the prestigious Falconberg School. - paraphrased from IMDB
Sounds an awful lot like Veruschka.

Catherine Schell as Maya, the shapeshifting alien in Space: 1999
Catherine was in a few other science fiction films and also had a part in the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (2/9) Movie CLIP - Just a Slight Stiffness (1969) HD

Catherine is the woman with the long blond hair who ask's James 'please, what is a bezant' (at the 1:25 mark). James' answer sounds like 'female boar' which sounds totally bogus. Who is going to put four sows on their coat of arms? Well, I'm sure someone did, once, but it wasn't any of James ancestors, I can tell you that. I suppose the writers were looking for some kind of double entendre, but if that's the case I totally missed it.

James Bond's family Coat of Arms
Turns out Bezants are the gold circles in the center and there are only three of them, not four, but's that kind of like quibbling over whether James was called Jimmy or James when he was a kid.

Gold solidus of Theodosius II (r. 408-450), minted in Constantinople, 430–439, Athens, Numismatic Museum
Bezants were originally gold coins from Byzantium.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Big Cannons

Big Guns. Sophia Loren with the giant cannon from The Pride and the Passion.
Reading The Note-Books of Gaptain Coignet leads me to reading about the Siege of Fort Bard where I find this line:
The siege until May 29, where a 12-inch cannon named "cannone di Andreossi" (Andreossi's cannon in Italian) is positioned in the church behind the fort, where it can't be seen by the enemy.
A "12-inch cannon" is friggin' huge. I can't imagine them being able to bring such a large cannon up the trail and over the pass to get here. I do remember an old movie where a bunch of people were trying to move a huge cannon over a hill so they could attack the enemy. I think that was in Spain. Root around for a bit and I uncover The Pride and the Passion from 1957. The movie is based on the book The Gun by C. S. Forester, which I read a long time ago. So I've got two pieces of fiction reinforcing this idea. The only problem is there seems to be no evidence that Napoleon ever had a 12 inch cannon. 12 pound cannons he had in abundance, that is, guns that shot a 12 pound cannonball.

The cannon in the movie was a fiberglass fake, and the one in the book was an 18 pounder which is big for a portable cannon, but the bore is only three inches, not twelve. There were some big cannons around at the time, but they were mostly older and far away.

The Mighty Jaivana Cannon
The Mighty Jaivana Cannon is the closest one to the fictional movie cannon. It's from India, weighs more than a fully loaded semi-truck, and was only fired once.