Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Taliban kicked Jews out of prison for arguing too much

The last Jews in Afghanistan argued so much the Taliban kicked them out of prison and stole their Torah. - Israel National News
Best thing I've read all day.

Via  parliament613


Results from evaporating three drops of Bourbon whiskey with different concentrations of alcohol
Three guys from the University of Kentucky started playing around with bourbon whiskey and made some curious observations. Scotch whiskey doesn't do this.

Diluted samples from (a) Four Roses (b) Heaven Hill (c) Maker’s Mark (d) Jack Daniel’s (e) Pappy Van Winkle’s (f) Woodford Reserve
The mechanism by which these patterns are generated is so far unknown. It might be useful for identifying counterfits, if that ever becomes a problem.

Poster with more images here.

Via Detroit Steve.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Stupid Walgreens

Pill Minder
I take a handful of pills every day to combat being old. I have a couple of pill minders I fill up once a week to make it easy to take the right pills the other six days. Yesterday I ran out of one drug, so I ordered a refill from Walgreens. It should show up in the mail in a week or two. It showed up yesterday afternoon. If the package had been from Amazon, I wouldn't have been too surprised, but Walgreens has never been this fast. Their website, which normally does a good job of keeping track of which drugs I am likely to need and can be ordered, must have slipped a cog. Oh, look, it's not Walgreens anymore, they've farmed out their web services to something called AllicanceRx.

You would think a big company like Walgreens would do a better job of ensuring their web service was working properly before they turned it loose on the world. Not only does it not keep track of orders properly, it can't even remember my logon and password. Even my bank does that. It might be incompetence on the part of the programmers, or if I put on my mud tinted glasses, it might be someone's stupid idea to keep people from stealing opioids using grandma's prescription.

And what's the deal with requiring the pharmacist to 'release' drugs? I go to the drive through to pick up drugs for my wife and the pharmacist wants to tell me things about these drugs. I don't want to know, I'm just the courier. Presumably the patient discussed this with their doctor. All this information is written out in the papers that accompany these drugs. There is no reason to waste the pharmacist's time with this kind of nonsense. Except, some people are (1) unable to read and (2) can't remember what happened two hours ago, but they are still allowed out in public.

I suspect the real reason for having the pharmacist 'release' the drugs is public relations. Some people want to talk to the pharmacist, not just some clerk. I admit talking to the clerks is a little annoying, they operate from a script that requires both of us to recite the correct phrases in order for them to hand over my gift from the gods. The pharmacists are a little more free, and some of them are interesting characters. Immigrants, mostly, from obscure places.

I will admit that the papers that come with the drugs are like just about every pamphlet included with every other product on the planet. They do include two or three lines of useful information, but those few lines are buried in twenty pages of useless bullshit. Yes, I know, we need lawyers to mediate disputes, otherwise this country would be like Syria, but do we really need to have all this legal crap intruding on our otherwise peaceful existence? Can't they keep it confined to the courtroom?

P.S. Blogger's spellcheck doesn't recognize opioids.

Monday, October 28, 2019


Why almost all coal was made at the same time

I ran across the story of coal a while back and I meant to do something with it, but it didn't happen. Now we've got this big tree planting project and everybody and their brother are making videos about trees and this one pops up and it's got some science. So here we have the story of coal and I didn't have to do any work other than embed this video.

Given that there a zillion trees in the world already, I don't think another 20 million is going to make a big impact, but hey, it's not going to hurt. I mean, trees are good. Let them grow for a while and you can cut them down and use the wood for all kinds of useful things, like building houses or making fires to heat your house or cook your chicken dinner. I have a fir tree in my back yard that is 40 or 50 feet tall. It was maybe 8 feet tall when we planted it ten years ago. They grow fast. Problem is when we cut them down faster than they grow. But now I wonder, how many trees are lost to natural fires compared to the number cut down by people? We hear about these fires in California and the Pacific Northwest that consume zillions of acres of forest. And then we hear about how the Amazon rain forest is losing a zillion acres to people clearing land for crops. Talk about an army of ants. Which one wreaks more destruction?

Trees are made of hydrogen and carbon (hydrocarbons), but being as carbon outweighs hydrogen by a factor of 12 to one, you can say that trees are mostly carbon.

Joywave - Obsession

Joywave - Obsession

I like the tune. The video doesn't seem to have much to do with the tune. It is entertaining though. It is a succession of title clips from fake movies. A couple of people's names that show up in these clips are names of people in the band.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Joe's Talking Trees

Nugbeard, King of the Ents
Found this on reddit/r/jokes this evening.
Joe's Talking Trees
You might enjoy it. It helps if you know that one of the standard jokes on reddit/r/jokes is that "the real jokes are in the comments".

Friday, October 25, 2019

One night in Bangkok....I mean Vancouver

Iaman reports from Vancouver:

Interesting night.

J the landlady slips her skinny jeans on, flashy wig and sunglasses invites the houseguests to Jazz club 70th birthday tribute to 'William'  ex NFL player turned jazz Bass player ....who is riddled with oldester maladies.
Her buddy Salve accompanies us,  bespectacled, quiet Filipinia.

Driving in Vancouver
J asks me to drive,  the Tundra being short a couple seats,  we take J's Ford minivan.  No drinking for me tonight (I dont drink anyhow) and responsible all  of a sudden for 6 world travelers, driving a strange van in a dark crowded unfamiliar city.
Fortunately the old van is a pleasure to drive, though a bunch of warning lights are on ("dont worry about those,  oh and dont trust the mirrors, they move")
Arriving safely with expert directions from J ( shes live in VBC all her life)We meet William at the door,  big strong older  jazzman wearing a worn grey silk suit.
We  snag a table front center,  our Chinese contingent  a bit out of  their comfort zone, but game.
Music starts slow, the musicians are skilled,  turns out locally famous, a handsome Trumpet player joins them midset,  J and he were talking earlier about tour logistics,  turns out he too is famous with CDs and concert tour.  William the birthday boy is the quintessential jazz bassman and soulful singer.

Dancing in the Jazz club
All is going swimmingly, grooving to the beat.  Then J gets up and invites me to dance  with her and the other 6 women dancers. Ok!?!  I do my best jazz skatt steps,  J is a fabulous smooth expressive dance ( " Did I tell you I taught ballet and modern dance?" J quips)

Sitting with Salve, I learn she has been married 40 years to her piano player husband,  has grandkids.  The couple had a popular jazz club for 15 years.  received numerous awards and still play in concerts, shows me her videos, yep a pro, and wow glamorous dressed up  and dazzling coifs.  A real show woman, not shy on stage.  She also mention she used to swim 50 laps a day,  which I do,  but that interfered with her hair now she does 1.5 hours of calisthenics per day....Than explains her physical condition.

Turns out J arranged the concert/party  calling in many local musicians  many who performed expertly,  J is a self proclaimed connector.  What a great hostess to have in a strange city.

Life in Alaska

My Nephew, a friend and their take for the day
They use snowmobiles for going places, not just for playing

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Aircraft Carriers

USS Gerald R Ford Vs HMS Queen Elizabeth - Nuclear vs Non-nuclear

This popped up on YouTube, probably because Google knew I was looking for info about the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Nuclear power seems like a really great idea until you start looking into all the baggage that comes with it, then it looks like good old internal combustion engines are your friends.

One thing Mr. Droid mentions that I hadn't heard of before is 'dynamic armor'. Right now it sounds like pie-in-the-sky, but who knows? Time will tell.

PragerU v. YouTube

PragerU v. YouTube

I don't think I've ever heard of Prager University before and I don't remember watching any of their videos. This one popped up as an ad and I was intrigued. It does a pretty good job of laying out their case against YouTube.

Most of PragerU's videos are about five minutes long, which is my usual limit for watching videos. That's kind of curious because videos from Mark Felton Productions (warning: autostart video) and The History Guy are also about that long. Pop music is almost always less than five minutes long. I suspect there must be some psychological factor involved here. I've also noticed that the voice on videos has a lot to do with whether I will watch them or not. Some speakers just grate on me and I will turn them off immediately.

PragerU has their own website and a page with all the videos YouTube has banned. This video can also be found on their website. They don't offer any embed code.

The only trouble I have with YouTube is that videos I post on this blog often disappear. It used to be because of copyright claims, but lately it seems to be because the account was closed (mmm, is my spider sense tingling?). I could download the videos and then reupload them to my account, but that takes time, time when my brain is functioning, which is in short supply. I seem to have an endless supply of time when my brain is only marginally functional. Then it is only good for playing solitaire, not doing anything requiring thinking.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Space Bearings

Scientists May Have Figured Out Why So Many Spacecraft Were Failing

I knew that you could use flywheels driven by electric motors to control the attitude of a spacecraft, and I sort of knew that it was being done. It didn't seem like a really great idea because if you don't want the spacecraft's attitude to change, you need to make sure you aren't exerting any torque on the flywheels, except that won't work unless you have frictionless bearings and I'm pretty sure those don't exist. I suspect that even super low friction bearings like magnetic, or air, or fluid exert some drag, so you are going to need a motor that can supply the very low amount of torque needed to counteract that drag. So as long as you want the spacecraft to point in a specific direction (maintain the correct attitude: stand up straight, chin up, suck in that gut), you are going to need to supply the motor with power. It won't need much, but it will be a constant drain on your supply. Won't matter so much if you have solar panels, but for voyages out to Jupiter and beyond, solar panels won't cut it. Those guys use nuclear power mostly, so maybe it isn't an issue.

Anyway, Scott does a good job of explaining the issue and what may have caused it. The thing I don't get is just what impact a big solar flare would have if you were to encounter it. For people it can be very bad, but for mechanical devices? I wouldn't think it would have much effect. But maybe I'm wrong.

I remember reading an science fiction story once upon a time where big spaceships used reaction wheels to control their attitude. One spaceship set down on a planet, but one of its three landing legs did not deploy, but it had these powerful reaction wheels, so it was able to continue standing up straight even though it only had two legs. The pilot should have noticed this, but he was riled up over some disagreement and went charging off to resolve it. The reaction wheels kept the spacecraft standing for a while, but the strain was more than they were designed for so in short order the bearings froze and the spacecraft went cartwheeling across the landscape. Oops.

Iaman Reports from Vacouver BC

Burnaby, Vancouver BC
Vancouver BC Monday 10/21/2019

Hi from Canada,

I’ve been in rain for the past week, but the temperature is cool not cold, not hot.  Pleasant if you are dressed well.

I have a basement Airbnb room,  quiet, warm.  The décor, paint and finishes were familiar, then I learned the owner is an Indian meditator family.  Yellow, gold and whites.  J who is the tenant rents out the 6 bedrooms to people like me.  J is cute Asian gal ~40? Disheveled sunglassed smiley solicitous spacey upon first meeting her, happy upbeat but looks like she stumbled out of bed at 4 in the afternoon.  J has had many careers including lead singer with a a number of small jazz bands.  J  is deep into the older VBC music culture.  Yesterday she had a invite to MC at a memorial to a Jazzman,  30 minutes later she shows up glamourous in black evening gown and  a wig. Modern, svelte and cool.  J  has pictures on the walls of her well attended house parties complete with live jazz bands.  I wondering if the sunglasses are to cover pinpoint pupil of an addict?

J wants me to stay and unilaterally without telling me first,  blocked the rooms off Airbnb for the rest of the month.  Waiting for her to get up at 4PM to discuss a reduction in rent or maybe trade work to stay (1 hour a day?) lots of simple maintenance to be done here.

Plan B is head back south, maybe into the rain shadow of the Salish sea. Or Portland area...or farther south to the 72 degree weather of Redding CA.

Fellow roomers; M & Irene. M is a 76 singer & P&P (pension & a paper route).  Has TV music videos of himself singing professionally in the early 1970s,  very professional and good.  Then went on to MC at dinner & strip clubs.  Strippers never excited him, being as they are  "paper and paste", he volunteered the only time he was aroused by a performer was on a amateur night a regular normal unadorned woman stripped to her natural self, he liked that. M still sings & strums guitar at church and small events. He is embarrassed about his bad and missing teeth, but is on a government waiting list to remedy that.

M’s wife Irene is a simple dumpy gal who was once beautiful.  Her mind wanders and tends to bore others with astrology theories. M is tolerant, mostly. I wonder how they will get on, especially if Irene is in early dementia?

M & Irene are financially strapped, hence the paper route when they are 75 & 69 YO.  They had lived in the same apartment for 40 years then after a long eviction fight, settled for $10k to move out, now they are here in a room for $1200 a month and sharing the house with travelers that pass through.  They like me, they are not happy with their situation.

Another roomer-tenant is Tony who everyone seems wary of.  I finally met him big black strong young guy with a scowl.  I introduced myself and shook hands, and he opened up with a smile and a hello.  The other residents seeing this later expressed their amazement,  in the 3 years Tony has been here that is the first smile and most words they have heard him speak.  His accent is Dominican.  They say he works construction,  but I suspect more of a underground profession.

Unitarian Church

Clarence had a card table set up in the Unitarian Church hallway during the after-service-coffee-klatch.  76 and wheelchair bound he expressed a happy demeanor, was neatly dressed with spiffy cap and manly necklace and rings.  He was offering to sharpen peoples knifes for free, my chisel and screwdrivers would take more than a honing. Asking about his conditions he related he was a mine mechanic (like me) deep in the Canadian Rockies,  had a nice lake house with a 3’ diameter fir tree that had fallen across a ravine.  Cutting it into sections, the trunk shifted and fell breaking his back.  “It is what it is, I’m happy to be alive and functioning.”

I’m going to call him today about a Shark Tank episode I saw today about Knife Aid (mail-order knife sharpening $10 a blade)…. Well…. I called Clarence,  he has no PC nor smartphone, not interested in my story, he was written up in the newspaper as a interest story and the police called him to enquire about his Biz, then the landlord in his subsidized housing reminded him he couldn’t have a Biz in his apartment. So he doesn’t charge people, does it for free, "it was never about the money".    He invited me over to see his themed subsidized housing décor, complete with a camouflaged out door machine shop on his patio porch.


Big 50 meter pools here in VBC,  and many swimmers, mostly Chinese.

Differences; unisex locker rooms- similar to Amsterdam,  wanting clarity I asked a attendant about the etiquette of coed sharing the locker room,  they said there are privacy changing booths but sometimes people strip in front of everyone…unusual but there is not a rule against it. I'll need to try that. ;)

Showers, one is labeled “cold shower” with warm side spray. Strange,  high entry walls below the dive blocks,  kids can scamper up, but I need to swim to ladder.  Signs in shower say "no spitting or other personal hygiene allowed in shower."  Apparently Chinese like to spit,  a lot.

Chinese.  Burnaby was a sprawling suburb now has a high rise city center like I imagine Hong Kong, mostly Chinese signs, all pedestrians Chinese.  Not racist,  but what happens when you are suddenly surrounded in your home town by people who don’t look like you speaking a language you don’t understand.  Just so many of them. ..  I had a preview of this in Croatia, when Chinese cruise ships loaded in Dubrovnik and I was suddenly transported from a Dalmatian mindset to the land of China.

And  coincidentally the housing market became unaffordable for the average Canadian, many like M & Irene.

Burnaby’s 20 year old houses are being raised for incoming high rises.  Mostly Chinese I am told.

Ship Ahoy

Cool picture of the airplane, but what's that ship in the background? It kind of looks like an aircraft carrier, but it has two towers, and I've never seen an aircraft carrier with two towers before, so I ask Google and here's what I get.

Algerian amphibious transport dock Kalaat Béni Abbès
What? Methinks Google got it wrong. For one thing this ship has only one tower. The interesting part about the Kalaat Béni Abbès is that it's from Algeria, which I haven't heard anything about lately. Does that mean we aren't at war with them?

Mystery Ship
I cropped the mystery ship out of the giant original photo and now I can see that it appears to have ski jump at the fore end of the flight deck. The Russian's use ski jumps, but they only have a couple of carriers, and they only have one tower. So I posted a question on NavWeaps Forums (because Reddit's search function was on the fritz).

HMS Queen Elizabeth leaving Portsmouth*
The answer is the HMS Queen Elizabeth, a new British aircraft carrier, one of a pair purchased by the government for three billion pounds each. Curious, the Wikipedia article quotes the price in pounds, not Euros.

*I thought I found this picture on Reddit, but now I can't find it, though a search turns up scads of similar pictures.

Why Do They Hate Him So?

Concert in the Egg - 1561
Much of what I read on the Internet is from conservatives. Much of what they write about are instances of liberal stupidity. You know, social justice warriors making a stink about the color of somebody's socks or something equally stupid. And irrelevant to anything of any importance.

Apparently, many people despise Trump. Me, I don't particularly care. I don't know him, I've never met him, I've never talked to him. His life is so far away from mine that he may as well be an alien from another planet. And it's not just Trump, I could say the same about all politicians and celebrities.

Some people think Trump is wonderful. I attribute this intense political feeling (both for and against) to sports fan syndrome. People want a cause to believe in. Some people latch onto sports teams, some latch onto political parties. I try to stay out of it, I suspect it is mostly because I am more interested in things than in people. Things, no matter how complicated, are much simpler than people. If you study things you will eventually learn all there is to know about them. With people, there is no bottom, there is only an infinite sea of chaos and while navigating those storm tossed waters may be exhilarating for a while, for me it is exhausting, so I try and stay out of it.

Anyway, I'm reading a post by Sarah A. Hoyt, and she references a post by Victor Davis Hanson on why Trump generates so much antipathy. It's pretty good.

P.S. I found the picture at top while looking for a picture of 'Trump the Devil'. It's from a post by Tom Hodgkinson that offers an intriguing explanation of how Trump got elected.

Dream of Italy

Pontiac Solstice
My girl and I are touring Italy in a Pontiac Solstice. The car is two tone: cream and orange. We are headed out to a clearly artificial island. It is a rectangular outline maybe a mile long, or maybe a mile in circumference.  It appears to made of a giant blocks of marble shaped like books. Some are standing up, like on a bookshelf, some are leaning, some are lying flat. This island is only an outline, kind of a like a coral reef. We have a row of these giant marble books forming the outline, but the inside of the rectangle is all water, just like a South Pacific atoll. I briefly entertain the idea of driving to the island. If we can hit the water with enough speed and the right angle we might be able to skim across the water, but the prospect of not being able to find a landing place dissuades me.We were only going to spend one night there, but it turns out, naturally, that the ferry service is irregular, so we will need to stay over a day.

Disclaimer: I've never been to Italy. My wife had a Mazda Miata for a while, but I've never had a Pontiac. I can't recall that I've ever even driven one.

P.S. A great many pictures of cars can be found on the Internet, but all the ones of cars with people driving them are provided by outfits that are selling those images. And pictures of cars in certain areas are nearly non-existent. And there don't seem to be any cream colored Pontiac Solstices anywhere, never mind part of a two tone color scheme. Hard to believe.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


FURIE (2019) Official Trailer | Action Thriller

Girl Kung Fu fighting in the rural village market, on the river, on motorbikes,in seedy joints in the big city and on the train. In Vietnam. I think that about covers it. It's pretty great. Our girl takes out a bunch of thugs, all male except for the leader of the pack, and she get's her's eventually. Very cool scenery.

Downtown Saigon
Saigon has skyscrapers. Who knew? Also, the movie calls it Saigon, not Ho Chi Minh City.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Pic of the Day

Young woman and old woman with guns in Rojava, Syria
Things are heating up along the border between Turkey and Syria. Rojava is a tiny village about two miles from the border with Turkey and about 30 miles from Aleppo. I am not even going to try and figure out who the bad guys are.

Map showing location of Rojava, Syria
Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

How exactly do screws work?

This was a question on Quora. For some reason it caused me to go into full auto blather mode. Here is my answer:

Since I have been working on a house recently, when you ask about screws I think of wood screws. Wood screws are not made of wood, not to say that you couldn’t make a screw out of wood (and it has been done), but the ones I have been using are made of steel and are used to hold two pieces of wood together. Wood screws are all about friction and relative strength. Wood screws have a single sharp edge that spirals around the shaft of the screw from the tip to somewhere short of the head. The hard, sharp edge of the steel spiral cuts into the softer wood and creates a groove that the rest of the spiral follows as you turn the screw. Following this self cutting groove draws the screw into the wood.  You need a bit of a hole in the wood to get the screw started.
Traditionally you would drill two holes, one into each of the two pieces of wood you are trying to join. The outer piece, the one you are trying to attach to the inner piece, or ‘base’, gets a clearance hole, that is, a hole large enough for the screw to slip inside, but small enough to prevent the head from entering. The base piece gets a pilot hole that is roughly the same diameter of the portion of the screw that holds the spiral, measured without the spiral. In hardwoods, like you would use for making furniture the pilot hole needs to be a little larger. For soft woods, the hole would be a little smaller.
Modern wood screws used in construction with softwood only need a bit of a dent in the wood to get started. That can be provided by simple pushing the tip of the screw into the wood. Once the spiral catches hold of the wood, it forces its way into the wood as it is turned.
That’s how you get the screw into the hole. What holds it there? Friction. A screw with a well made thread that fits the hole with just a bit of clearance can be screwed in with little or no force. You can demonstrate this with new machine screws easily. Put a nut on a long bolt and give it a spin and it will screw on or off the bolt due to inertia. You can also see this with the lug nuts used to hold a wheel on a car. Examples with wood are less common.
When a screw is tightened, the head is forced against the piece being held, and the spiral ridge is forced against the upper side of the groove, squeezing the wood between them and stretching the screw. This longitudinal force increases the friction between the piece the screw making it difficult to unscrew. Screws still come undone, mostly in metal machines that vibrate. This is why critical bolts in airplanes are safety wired to prevent them from unscrewing while the plane is in flight.


Sully Sullenberger, the famous airline pilot who captained the Miracle on the Hudson, has a few words to say about Boeing the 737-Max and the FAA. More posts about the 737 here.

JMSmith has a short piece about the nature of women and their effect on politicsJMSmith has appeared here before.

Shangri La Museum of Islamic Art, Culture & Design

Shangri-La Museum, Honolulu Hawaii via Google 3D Satellite view
This place gets a brief mention in a story about tobacco heiress Doris Duke, which got me curious, so I went a-surfing, looking for more information.
When tobacco and energy magnate J.B. Duke died in 1925, he left $50 million to his 12-year-old daughter, Doris, making her the “world’s richest girl.” She received the first major installment of the inheritance at age 21, then married James H.R. Cromwell at 22 and went on a 10-month honeymoon with him to Europe, Egypt, India (where they met with Gandhi), Indonesia, China and, finally, Hawaii. This trip led to Shangri La’s creation in two ways: Duke became captivated by the art of the Islamic world on her travels (she was particularly inspired by the Taj Mahal); and she also fell in love with Hawaii. The couple had planned to spend only a few weeks there but ended up staying for four months. - DUJOUR
Shangri La Museum with Google Streetview paths
The museum is now surrounded by houses, so much so that there doesn't appear to be any access for motor vehicles. Google's Streetview can give you a walking tour of almost the whole place. All this art is very nice, I suppose. I mean, it isn't ugly, but it all seems a bit overwrought, like something out of a hashish dream. I might like to have a bit of it, like a vase or a tapestry, but no more than that. I guess it's good that Doris gathered it all here. It seems to be confined to the premises and in no danger of spreading through the neighborhood.

Duke University and Duke Energy both got their name from J. B. Duke (Doris' father). He made his fortune with the American Tobacco Company.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


Tara Westover at Cambridge - Photo: Hill & Aubrey
I finished reading Educated by Tara Westover. As I said before, it is phenomenal.  A review on Financial Times gives us an quick overview:
"Tara Westover was raised by strictly Mormon anti-government survivalists on a remote mountain in Idaho. Her birth was unregistered and her birth date remains unclear, she never saw a doctor or received any conventional medical treatment, and as a child she was given no formal education at all, growing up almost entirely unaware of the world beyond her immediate community. Yet she went on to earn an MPhil and then a PhD from Cambridge, and became a visiting fellow at Harvard. Educated is the story of a transformation so courageous, so entire, as to beggar belief." - Melissa Harrison
The biggest thing I got from this story is that there are two kinds of crazy. There is the kind where there is something wrong with a person's brain, due either to genetics, accident of disease, that causes it to not function properly. Hearing voices, auditory or visual hallucinations, uncontrollable compulsions are all indicators for this kind of problem.

The other kind happens when a person is embedded in a situation that doesn't make any sense. People do things because of what they are told or what they believe and logical thinking only brings you up against the barriers holding you in. Beat your head against the bars of your cell long enough and you may give up on logical thinking and submit to the tyranny that blankets your life.

Another thing I got out of this is how lucky I was to have parents who weren't insane. If they had a religion, it was logical thought. I got along pretty well with my parents. We had numerous disagreements, but nothing that serious. We were all on the same page, philosophically speaking. I don't recall that we spent a lot of time together, at least not after I got to be a teenager. I was ornery and independent. Ornery was probably genetic, but independent was probably due to my upbringing.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Educated by Tara Westover

Judith Beheading Holofernes  by Caravaggio ca. 1600
I'm reading Educated by Tara Westover. It is phenomenal.

This painting (Judith Beheading Holofernes, above) gets mentioned twice. The first time is in Chapter 18 on page 162 during an exam in Western Civ at BYU:

The second time is in chapter 31, bottom of page 268, when she is in Rome:
"At the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, I stood before Caravaggio's Judith Beheading Holofernes  and did not once think about chickens."
 Caravaggio has appeared here before.

twenty one pilots: Heathens

twenty one pilots: Heathens (from Suicide Squad: The Album) [OFFICIAL VIDEO]

Feels like a movie which shouldn't surprise me since apparently it is from a movie.

Pic of the Day

I hope you know that like 30 people get shot every weekend in Chicago. It may not be most violent city in America, but it certainly gets noticed. People do all kinds of weird shit, but somehow I suspect this was put together in Photoshop. Still very funny.

The gun looks like an FN-20 4-gun tail turret from a WW2 Avro-Lancaster.

Via Knuckledraggin My Life Away

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Pic of the Day

Milky Way Magnetic Field
I don't often read Ethan Siegel's posts Starts With A Bang! They are kind of long and complicated, but I will glance at them, and this image showed up today. I think it's kind of cool.

Monday, October 14, 2019


I've been a little preoccupied lately, but I have been watching YouTube. Here's some videos I enjoyed:

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Turkish Castles

Christian Castle
In season 5 Ertuğrul's tribe is encamped near Söğüt. One set of villains are operating out of a nearby castle (shown above). I haven't quite figured out just what castle it is.

Overhead view of Kizil Kule
In a dream sequence (somewhere around episode 65 maybe), he pays a visit to Kizil Kule, a fortified tower that is near Alanya Castle.

Kizil Kule with Alanya Castle on the hill in the background
Kizil Kule was designed by a guy from Aleppo.

There seems to be a large number of castle ruins in Turkey. Castles.NL has information on some of them.

Prairie Dogs

Stolen entire from Nobody Asked Me…
Out in the wilds of Colorado…
And in the me vs. Prairie dogs, the score is me zero… Couldn’t figure out the wind yesterday afternoon… 30 rounds zero hits, one scare. .22s at 225 yards is not easy in a gusting wind… Dammit…
A long stinking time ago I was flying somewhere and I got to talking to the guy sitting next to me. He had been out west somewhere and he and a friend of his had spent some time shooting prairie dogs. By the hundreds, if I remember correctly. I was shocked. Didn't know there were that many prairie dogs, didn't know you could shoot them with impunity. Different world. I suspect coyotes used to keep the prairie dog population in check, but ever since we ran off the wolves and coyotes, prairie dog populations have exploded.

I remember from watching Westerns on TV that prairie dog towns could be a problem for running horses. (The Ballad of Buster Scruggs has an example.) Would walking horses be able to navigate a prairie dog town, or would they just walk around it?

And the gun. A 22 is perfectly adequate for dispatching small animals like prairie dogs, but trying to hit them at 225 yards . . . I can't even imagine. A prairie dog head at 225 yards is like a 64th of an inch at arm's length.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Suicide Burn

How To Do A Hoverslam - Things Kerbal Space Program Doesn't Teach.

Scott Manley talking about how SpaceX lands their boosters. He does a good job, plus lots of clips of landings, good and bad.

Denise Ho

Denise Ho at the Adam Smith Institute in London, UK
Denise, aka HOCC, is a Hong Kong pop music start turned political activist. Brian has a few words to say about her and the situation in Hong Kong.
Very impressive.
Short summary. The protests continue, and the way for her side to win is to universalise the struggle, turning it from a merely local battle, which China is bound to win, into a global argument, which China is a lot less likely to win. Hence her presence in London (and many other spots around the world) to tell people about what’s happening in Hong Kong.
I heard another talk about Hong Kong on Monday that covered a lot of the same ground. My question then (which I thought rather than actually asked) was: What can we do to help? Answer, from Denise Ho this evening: a lot. Because “we” means everyone else in the world who wants to help.
Okay, if Brian and Denise agree, then I guess I need to step up, so here's my contribution.

Via Brian Micklethwaite's New Blog

Girls with Guns

IDF practicing hostage rescue?
Couldn't find any real information about this photo, but it looks pretty real.

Via daily timewaster

PE-2 Soviet dive bomber

PE-2 Soviet dive bomber
Wikipedia has a few things to say about this aircraft and how it came to be:
The Petlyakov Pe-2 was a Soviet twin-engined dive bomber used during World War II. It was one of the best front-line medium bombers of the war. In many respects it resembled the wooden British de Havilland Mosquito. The Soviets built 11,430 Pe-2s during the war. The Pe-2 was designed in a prison design bureau (sharashka); Vladimir Petlyakov had been arrested and imprisoned in 1937 for allegedly delaying design work on the Tupolev ANT-42 bomber. 
Sharashka was an informal name for secret research and development laboratories operating from 1930 to the 1950s within the Soviet Gulag labor-camp system. Etymologically, the word sharashka derives from a Russian slang expression sharashkina kontora ("Sharashka's office", which in its turn comes from the criminal argot term sharaga for a band of thieves, hoodlums, etc.), an ironic, derogatory term to denote a poorly-organized, impromptu, or bluffing organization.
Some people are good with things, some are good with people. The former create some amazing stuff, the later organize society so the former have the freedom to create things, even if they are locked up. (Wait, what?)

10,000 seems to be a common number for WW2 aircraft, at least the ones that were successful. The world built a total of 780,000 aircraft for this conflict.

Via daily timewaster

Quote of the Day

King Louis XVI of France is led to the guillotine, Jan. 21, 1793
 “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” - Voltaire
Adaptive Curmudgeon changed his tagline and explains why. It's worth reading. I do wonder if we have a real problem though. There is lots of noise on the internet, but how many people subscribe to that noise? I like to think that most people have real lives and don't have time for the nonsense that is flowing over the optic fibers. On the other hand, people who listen to the noise are more likely to vote, so we they might be driving us to hell.

Glenn Arbery has a related post about the relations between politics, education and culture.

P.S. Voltaire died in 1778, a few years before the French Revolution got started in 1789.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Hunger & Anger

Angry Cat
John was house sitting last month for a couple. They have a cat, and the cat had a bad attitude. He was willing to pick a fight with anybody, anytime, for any reason, or even no reason at all. His people had him on a restricted diet to 'keep him from getting fat'. Faced with this hostile animal, John decided to try feeding him more food. Surprise, surprise, the hostility evaporated. Which got me to thinking. Scenes from war torn areas in Africa and Asia often seem to feature skinny people. Could there be a correlation between hunger and anger? Would feeding all these people be enough to quell the violence that seems to blanket these areas?

Would they end up obese and suffering from diabetes like Americans? Me, I am mostly calm, but it doesn't take much for me to start wishing wholesale death and destruction on every driver I encounter on the road. It's really pretty amazing that we don't have more psycho killers running around loose. I guess it's hard to concentrate on killing when you are stuffed full of pizza and french fries.

Quote of the Day

Costco in Seoul South Korea
 "There’s a reason that the Costco in Seoul, South Korea sells more American beef every day than anywhere else on earth." - Kacy Atkinson
Okay, it's not a profound bit of wisdom or a clever insight into the human psych, but it is a bolt out of the blue. There are Costco stores in South Korea? They sell American beef? Who knew?

Pic of the Day

Long Exposure of an Airliner Lifting Off
It looks like the airliner took off almost straight up. However, the width of the path (airplane) at the top of the climb is roughly twice what it is at the bottom, which means it's twice as far away from the camera. If the camera is a thousand feet away, then that means the climb covered a thousand feet of ground. If the camera is a mile away, then that means the airplane covered a mile of ground.

Assuming the wingspan of the aircraft is 150 feet, and using a ruler to scale the image, I'm guesstimating the airliner leveled off around a thousand feet of altitude.

This got me to wondering just how steep an airliner could climb. I saw an F-4 Phantom do a vertical climb right after take off at an airshow in Phoenix umpteen years ago (sometime in the late 1980's). That was impressive, lots of smoke and thunder. Also a lot jet fuel dripping out of the aircraft sitting on the ground. Did not seem to concern anyone, got the feeling that that was just the nature of the beast.

These days it seems that even some airliners can take off straight up.

Boeing Vietnam Airlines 787-9 Dreamliner Vertical Takeoff & Steep Turns 2015 Paris Air Show Prep

How in the heck did they make that video? Some of those shots are downright scary. Here's how:

Making of - Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner flying display

Your average airliner takes off at an angle of 15 to 20 degrees.

Via daily timewaster