Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Sunday, May 31, 2020


Primavera - Sandro Botticelli ~1480
We just finished watching season 2 of Medici - The Magnificent this evening. Sandro Botticelli was an intimate of the Medici brothers Lorenzo and Giuliano. The season ends with Sandro starting on this painting.

Everybody's Right, Everybody's Wrong

Largest Cities in the World

I finally finished The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston. It's all about the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the WHO (World Health Organization), and the campaign to eradicate smallpox. Along the way he visits the military, bio-weapons and virus engineering. Pretty grim stuff.

At the end of book he mentions the largest cities in the world and what would happen if a nasty bug got loose in one of those places. Which led me to look up the largest cities (spreadsheet above, taken from Wikipedia).

If COVID-19 was as contagious and deadly as some people claim, I would expect that we would be hearing about zillions of deaths from some of these places. It might be that I have my filters set too high and that is keeping such reports from reaching me, or maybe America is just so self centered that we don't have time to worry about the zillion COVID-19 deaths all over the rest of world. Or maybe the disease is just getting started and later on this year we will start seeing those reports. I don't think that will happen, and in any case I certainly hope it doesn't happen.

Which got me to thinking that this whole lock down, mask wearing paranoia thing is just people showing that they are part of the in-crowd, kind of like standing in line at Starbucks to pay $5 for a fancy cup of coffee, or waiting in line for 20 minutes to get an ice cream cone at Salt & Straw. Dang, I came across a story about this phenomena not too long ago and I thought for sure I linked to it, but now when I need it, I cannot find it.

And now we've got riots going on all over the place. Some people say it's because of the black man killed by the police in Minneapolis. That might have been the trigger, but I think it's because there are a bunch of people who are not happy about the way things are going. Yes, there are some people who are just attracted to social activity, the more active the better. But most people, if things are going well, have better things to do than protest. You put the screws to a large segment of the population, like our fearless leaders did to about half of the people who work for a living, and you're going to get some push back and this is what it looks like.

Problem is we have this fantasy that everyone deserves the same respect and treatment whereas in reality people range from savages to saints. You send a bunch of saints into the jungle to deal with a bunch of savages and you are very likely to end up with a bunch of dead saints.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

City Armor

2020 INKAS Armored Ford Transit Van
"A reliable and highly discreet cannabis transport vehicle."

Via California Bob

low-rent fun

The Swish Machine: 70 Step Basketball Trickshot (Rube Goldberg Machine)

It took Creezy "a month to build and another month to successfully work". I'm impressed.

Via Posthip Scott

Twin Murders: The Silence of the White City

The Silence of the White City (2019) | Official Trailer #I | Belén Rueda | Javier Rey | Aura Garrido

Meticulous serial killer terrorizes Vitoria, Spain. Pretty standard murder mystery with a couple of novel bits: horrific way of killing people with bees, and the killer is closer than anyone expects. There is also lots of running. The lead detective and his boss both run for exercise, which is good, because everytime, everytime, they try to collar someone they take off and we have to chase them down. There was one chase scene across the roof of the cathedral that was pretty cool.

Google Maps 3D Image of Cathedral of Santa María de Vitoria
Digging into the past, our detectives discover an old tragedy where an entire family was killed in a house fire. Through movie magic we discover that the family was killed by poison from the leaves of a Yew tree, the fire was set to conceal the crime. Yew trees are kind of weird. They are almost entirely poisonous, they live dang near forever, they are popular with churches, and they make good bows for archery.

Fresco on wall of old monastery (~45:00 mark)
Chasing down obscure leads, our hero visits an old monastery, just after the 45 minute mark. Could not locate the actual building, if there was one. I supposed it could all be faked, but being as Europe is riddled with old buildings, I imagine it could easily be a real one.

Statue that inspired the killer 

Inside the monastery

Julianne Nicholson as 
Detective Megan Wheeler
Aura Garrido as 
Detective Estíbaliz Ruiz de Gauna
The woman detective reminds me of Detective Megan Wheeler from Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Probably just the hair.

Did not really care for the movie. It didn't really grab me, not sure why. Okay, there were two scenes where the bad guy sneaks up behind a person and jabs them with a hypodermic needle, except! you can hear his footsteps and the intended victim just stands there and waits to be jabbed. Could these two incidents have spoiled the entire movie? I dunno, but it didn't help.

On Netflix, in Spanish with subtitles.

Update August 2020 replaced missing video trailer with a slightly different one.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Bluebird CN7 - Donald Campbell's Turbine Record Car

Bluebird CN7 - Donald Campbell's Turbine Record Car
Scarf And Goggles

I don't remember hearing about this car. It was running around the same time as when President Kennedy was shot (1963) and I remember that. I remember hearing about Craig Breedlove's Spirit of America.

The video has some interesting bits, like the 300 MPH crash, rain in Australia and the cost of building the car. Building a car to attempt the land speed record requires a massive fund raising campaign, something similar to running national political campaign. The technical aspect of building the car is only half the job, campaigning is the other half. I could do the technical half, but I don't have the energy to do the campaigning half.

When I was younger I didn't really appreciate the nerve it would take to drive a car like this. You get in, step on the gas and head for the finish line. What's the big deal? Now I think these guys must have had a screw loose. I suppose it's kind of like Marty Byrde from Ozark. They have gotten themselves lined out, they have a goal, and that's where they are headed, come hell or high water. Choice doesn't enter into the matter.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Mathematical Mystery Unraveled

Integer Repetition Table
When I first came across this table I was hoping that it had some kind of mystical purpose that would allow you to decode some fancy numbers, like trigonometric functions or logarithms or square roots or something. I mean those Finns are inscrutable, who knows what's running through their heads. Alas, that is not the case. It is simply a way for teachers to assign a whole batch of simple arithmetic exercises to their students.

The answer comes to us from jpgordon on the Wikipedia Reference Desk:
"Mr. Reinhard now tells us a very simple procedure to demonstrate as many and different exercises in arithmetic with pure numbers to all the students through all basic operations up to the unlimited number range. His method is based on a scheme consisting of 81 squares, in which the basic numbers 1 to 9 are set in nine vertical and just as many horizontal rows so that the first two are never repeated in two successive numbers. Various combinations and result in many thousands of exercise examples..."


Freud | Official Trailer | Netflix

Freud's comparison of the mind to a house (read the subtitles, or below) resonated with me, especially the part about how consciousness is like a candle in a dark house illuminating only the immediate area. All the other rooms are dark, but that doesn't mean they are not occupied or that nothing is going on there. There are all kinds of agents engaged in all kinds of activity in those dark rooms. Only occasionally are those activities revealed to the warm light of your conscious mind.
I'm a house. It's dark in me. My consciousness is a lonely light. A candle in the wind. Everything else is in shadows.  But they are there - the other rooms, niches, hallways, staircases, doors. And anything that lives within, and wanders within. It is there. It lives. Within the house that is me. Forbidden thoughts. Memories we don't want to see in the light. They dance around us in the darkness. They haunt . . .  and whisper. They scare us. They make us sick. They make us hysterical.
We started watching this series last night, but it was too creepy for SWMBO, so we bailed. I might have to go back and try watching it on my own.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Father's Day?

Buffalo herd wows South Dakota crowd

According to Stu and Hermann, today is Father's Day in Germany, which is celebrated with mass consumption of beer. Stu put up a barrage of beer quotes. This is my favorite:
Well, you see, Norm, it’s like this. A herd of buffalo can only move as fast as the slowest buffalo. And when the herd is hunted, it’s the slowest and weakest ones at the back that are killed first. This natural selection is good for the herd as a whole, because the general speed and health of the whole group keeps improving by the regular killing of the weakest members. In much the same way, the human brain can only operate as fast as the slowest brain cells. Now, as we know, excessive intake of alcohol kills brain cells. But naturally, it attacks the slowest and weakest brain cells first. In this way, regular consumption of beer eliminates the weaker brain cells, making the brain a faster and more efficient machine.
And that, Norm, is why you always feel smarter after a few beers. - Cliff Clavin

Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Siege of Fort Bismarck

Pusher Biplane on floats from The Siege of Fort Bismarck
What a great picture. People, Japanese or Chinese or possibly Germans, transporting a float plane across dry land using oxcarts. Vunderbar!

The Siege of Fort Bismarck is a movie set during WW1 in Asia. Short description of the movie, translated by Google:
Japanese pilots in white gloves against the Kaiser infantry in pickelhaub. This was to be painted by Miyazaki.
Very funny movie, given some elements of form and weapons :). It seems that the Japanese read "Guns of the Navaron Island", and then turned off the pages of self-roll and tightened well.
At the same time, there are a lot of well-shot various battle scenes - from air combat (in 1914, hmm) to squadron shooting. There are a lot of special effects.
Separately impressive is the dropping of bombs by hitting a rope with a knife on which the bomb is suspended.
The theme of the fraternal Chinese people is also revealed.
Trying to figure out just what airplane this is, I found there were a bunch of similar configuration. Aside from being on wheels instead of floats, this one has several of the main features in common with the one above. The nose is different, but I'm not sure that is significant.

Voisin Type 1
Via Just a Car Guy

Iron Man

Navy Assault Trials!

It appears that the Royal Navy is experimenting with jet suits. I didn't even know they were a thing. I've seen:

so I suppose I should have expected this. Anyway, it seems to be here now.

How Gravity Built the World's Fastest Jet Suit | WIRED

The Unwanted Blog got me started.


Knightfall: Season Two Official Trailer | Drama Series Returns March 25 | History

Knightfall is a historical fiction drama television series . . . a second season, which premiered on March 25, 2019.
Knightfall recounts the success, fall, persecution, and suppression of the Knights Templar, as orchestrated by King Philip IV of France on October 13, 1307. The series focuses on the fictional Templar leader Landry du Lauzon, a brave warrior discouraged by the Templars' failures in the Holy Land who is reinvigorated by news that the Holy Grail has resurfaced. -Wikipedia
My wife watched the first season. I couldn't, I got turned off watching the first episode. But tonight we watched the first 4 episodes of season 2 and while it's not great, if has some good points. The dialog is stilted, the characters are crudely portrayed, but the grimness, or which there is plenty, seems pretty realistic. I mean this was 1300's. And there is plenty of action with horses and sword fighting. They are also trying to tell us the history of this period (of which there is plenty) and fit it into the drama. There just isn't enough time in the world to fit all of it in and take a deeper look into the characters as well.

Many moons ago we took a trip to Limoux France to ride bicycles. Limoux is just a few miles south of Carcassonne in the Languedoc region of southern France. While we were there, I remember hearing about the Cathars and how they were persecuted by the Catholic Church a long time ago. So it's kind of cool to have the story about a place I had been recounted on the TV.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Ilyushin Il-96

Ilyushin Il-96
This is one of those things that creep up on you unawares. My first glance at the picture tells me I'm looking at another modern airliner made by Boeing or Airbus, but then I notice the Cyrillic writing and I check the caption and find that it is not what I expected, but rather it is a Russian airliner. I knew Russia made airliners, but somehow that knowledge was confined to aircraft made 60 years ago. There is also the IL-76, but it is a dual purpose airplane made to carry people or soldiers.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Welcome to the Murderdrome

Welcome to the Murderdrome | A Brief History of Board Track Racing

Board Track Racing was a big deal 100 years ago. It came up suddenly, flourished for a few years and then quickly disappeared. The bikes were models of simplicity: an engine, frame, wheels, a seat, and go as fast as you can. You still see people trying to make simple motorcycles with everything extraneous stripped away. About the closest you can come now is flat track racers.

Not too long ago a guy went to a great deal of trouble to recreate one of the pre-eminent board track racing machines. It's pretty amazing.

Big Fish

Bayou St. John submarine
Joseph Moore has posted a fish story for your entertainment. Go read it, it's short, it's great. It'll make you happy.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020


She Official Trailer | A Netflix Original Series | Aditi Pohankar, Vijay Varma | March 20

This show is just nuts. It's framed as a basic police show set in Mumbai, India. Very ordinary frame, but the picture is inside is a whole other world. It has some elements of Nikita, but the lead actress has got some moves I've never seen before.

Amos Moses

Jerry Reed Amos Moses Lyrics

At lunch today, Osmany was telling us about life in Cuba. When he was about eight years old his daddy would take him alligator hunting. Which reminded me of this tune.

P.S. How do you distinguish a crocodile from an alligator? It's very easy. A crocodile will see you in a while, an alligator will see you later.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Ancient Mathematical Mystery

Integer Repetition Table
Click to embiggenate
The numbers in the last two rows of the Minus chart (left) have decimal points
We're watching Hooked and this odd poster shows up in one scene and I've been trying to figure out just what it's for. I got one clue from reddit:
It seem to be a educational poster used in elementary school in early 20th century. There is a book published in 1904 explaining how to use the board called "Kokonaislukujen kertaustaulun selitys ja tulokset" by Hultin, Hj and Reinhard, Ph.
Google translates the title to "Explanation and results of the integer repetition table". That's all I've been able to find. If anyone out there has a clue as to how to use this table, please let me know.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Oregon State Flag

Oregon State Flag

Oregon State Flag (reverse)
Iaman came across some old flags and we discovered that Oregon is the only state that has different designs on the front and back. Several other states used to have different designs but all have changed to a single design.

Mount St. Helens - 40 years ago today

Eruption of Mount St. Helens volcano, Washington, May 18, 1980. (AP Photo/U.S. Geological Survey)AP
40 years ago, the day after I graduated from the University of Texas in Austin.

When I moved to Oregon ten years later, my cousin told me that Portland had been covered with inches of volcanic debris. We dug up a rain drain at my house in Beaverton because it wasn't doing its job and discovered that it was filled with black volcanic ash.

House of Cards

A miner using a hydraulic jet to mine for gold in California, from The Century Magazine January 1883
I'm a little concerned about the value of money. Congress just borrowed another two or three trillion dollars to help us get out of the hole that the panic-inducing media have dumped us in, and that's on top of the twenty odd trillion we have already borrowed. Then we have smaller stories like venture capitalists trying to create industries out of nothing by pouring money down the drain. Maybe they are hoping the whirlpool effect will somehow uncover a hidden gem. Kind of like gold miners. People used to pan for gold using a pan and a handful of paydirt. Then someone came up with the idea of hydraulic mining where they would use fire hoses to wash away mountains to uncover the mother lode.

And then there is the airliner business. Used to be that companies built airplanes and sold them to people who ran airlines, but then the business got big and weird. A few years ago Rolls-Royce had a billion dollar backlog of orders for their giant fan-jet engines. A year later they were in trouble because their customers found they could get the required maintenance done elsewhere at a much lower cost. If you thought Rolls-Royce was in the business of making and selling engines, you'd be wrong. That whole business was a just a marketing ploy to sell overpriced maintenance contracts. People are so stupid.

Then we have the Boeing 737-Max disaster. Some people blame the cut-throat business people from McDonnell-Douglas who apparently infected Boeing. I blame the cut-throat nature of the airliner business. And it really is cut-throat, as this story about the pirate ship Airbus shows.

Lastly, let me mention my suspicions about the automobile insurance industry. I thought the insurance companies might have a valid reason for declaring a car to be a total loss even though the apparent damage could be repaired relatively cheaply. Then Iaman made a comment and I realized that these decisions might be made to support some kind of accounting sleight of hand. You see, insurance companies have huge amounts of assets, I would not be surprised if the value of their combined assets was larger than the national debt. Now insurance companies do need to have large piles of assets (they're called reserves) in case a disaster strikes and they have to pay out large sums  on a huge number of claims. There are probably a bunch of laws governing this. Meanwhile cars are getting safer and the number and size of claims are going down (pure conjecture on my part) and so using some sort of magical, mathematical formula, the insurance companies can no longer justify holding such large reserves, so they start looking for ways they can start paying out more money. Yes, weird, and contrary to everything you've ever heard about insurance companies, but I suspect most people won't argue about the insurance company totalling their car, so this is a technique that doesn't draw a lot of attention that they can use to increase their payouts and so continue to justify their enormous reserves, which often earn them more money than they collect in premiums from their customers. Yes, that last sentence was a little long, but it's early and I need to get going, so that's what we have.

Monday Evening got me started.

P.S. Link to the transcript of a speech by Boeing's general counsel at a Boeing "leadership meeting" in 2006.

Sunday, May 17, 2020


Acorn TV | Hooked clip

Mother of his child shows up 16 years after running off after giving birth, so we've got some emotional turmoil going on. The actress is Matleena Kuusniemi. She was in Bordertown where she played Paulina, the wife of the lead detective. I think she looks a lot like Mariska Hargitay of Law & Order SVU fame.

Mariska Hargitay
On her advice a cocaine peddler buries his stash in the woods and uses his phone to record the GPS coordinates. Could your phone record the coordinates accurately enough that you would be able to locate the stash again? Sounds kind of like geocaching.

The coordinates are given to 6 decimal places: 60.252425, 25.140787 which is in the woods outside Helsinki, Finland. Google Maps only goes to five. If your phone can actually give you GPS coordinates to 6 decimal places, you should be able to find your stash.

Bruce Lee : Ping pong with Nunchucks

When the lead detective's girlfriend asks him about his Nunchucks, he mentions that there is a film of Bruce Lee playing ping pong using Nunchucks, so I had to see if I could find it, and here it is.

10 Episodes on Amazon Prime


Artist's Conception of a Virion
There are scientists studying the microbes and virions that cause disease. This research is essential if we want to learn more about these disease causing agents, and there is much more to learn because they are very complex and we really don't know very much about them now.

But there are also people / scientists studying these disease causing agents to see if they can find ways to make them more deadly. This is bio-weapons research and is essentially a criminal activity.

However, what can be learned in one area can be applied in the other, mostly because we don't know very much so any knowledge gained is a step towards our ultimate goal of understanding how everything in the universe works.

I say we don't know very much, but that's not really true. We know a great deal, but compared to how much we still need to learn in order to completely understand these things, it is not very much.

A post by David Warren got me started. Pages on the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology didn't make me feel any better.

It probably didn't help my state of mind that I have been reading The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston, which is all about recent smallpox and anthrax research / disasters.

BMW History

1923 BMW R32 Motorcycle
BMWBlog has a short history of the company. It covers the last 100 years.

Drag Racing

MURDER NOVA Throwsdown in TULSA - Clocks On! - 2020 Midwest Pro Mod Series Season Opener

When I was a kid I was pretty much car crazy but somewhere along the way my world view expanded and cars became just tools for going places. However, my inner child won't die and cars still occupy a sizable portion of my brain.

Drag Racing is kind of nuts. I remember that 50 years ago the holy grail was running the quarter mile in seven seconds and clocking 200 MPH. Sometime between now and then, they reduced the strip length to one-eighth of a mile. Now they reach the same top speed of 200 MPH, but it only takes them 4 seconds.

Drag Racing is a spectacle. I suspect one of the big attractions is the visceral sound effects. Not just what you hear, but the impact on your body. It's kind of like shooting guns that way.

Via BangShift

Monarch Butterflies

Watch a Breathtaking Monarch Butterfly Swarm

Via MetaFilter, which has a couple more links.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Motorcycle Chariot Race

Motorcycle Chariot Race 1920s -1940s

I suspect the date range is overly broad. reddit  has a still image of this event dated 1936.

Via Posthip Scott

Walking Arm Trebuchet

3-D Printed Miniature Walking Arm Trebuchet

Came across an article about making a Walking Arm Trebuchet. It had lots of pictures but no video of how it worked, so I went looking for one. This one shows how it works pretty clearly.

Pic of the Day

Tanker Esso Scotia under construction in 1969 - Heinrich Heidersberger
"At the time of launching on 31st March, 1969, the Esso Scotia was the largest vessel in the world to be launched from a slipway, as opposed to being floated out from a drydock." - Auke Visser´s Esso UK Tanker's site
She was built in Bremen German, served for 12 years and was broken up in Kaohsiung, Taiwan.

Via MetaFilter

Friday, May 15, 2020

SpaceX Dragon simulator

How To Dock With ISS in SpaceX's Free Dragon Docking Simulator

Very cool.

SpaceX Dragon simulator Via The Unwanted Blog

Bordertown Part 3

Bordertown - Sorjonen Season 3 trailer

Watching this was kind of like old home week, seeing all the characters we became familiar with in seasons 1 & 2 a couple of years ago. This one was set in the winter, all snow, all the time. Don't think I've seen many shows like that. We've been watching a lot of historical dramas and in those, nothing much happens in the winter. All the big military campaigns have to wait for spring. So another benefit of petroleum powered technology is that we get murder mystery TV shows set in the winter.

There's been a couple of things (stunts? techniques?) that I've noticed here. One is we have the lead detective talking to someone who died sometime earlier in show. We saw it here and in The Break. The other is having a series of gruesome murders arranged to expose a corporate environmental poisoning disaster. That happened here and in The K2.

Update March 2021 replaced missing video.


Battle of Gideon Against the Midianites - Nicolas Poussin - 1626

JMSmith put up a fine post about passwords yesterday: Shibboleths and Sacred Cows

The picture may not be of the precise incident that gave the word Shibboleth its fame, but it was a long time ago and killing people was very much in vogue.


Potato Planters - Jean-François Millet - 1861
Peasant Cultures Abide
Many years ago I read Tim Blanning’s The Pursuit of Glory: The Five Revolutions that Made Modern Europe: 1648-1815. Some portion of it was dedicated was the attempt of scientifically oriented rulers to encourage the cultivation of potatoes amongst their subjects. Today Russia is huge on potatoes, but during the reign of Catherine the Great, this was not the case. Blanning outlines the resistance of the superstitious and backward Russian peasant in particular to the new wisdom of the agronomists. Truth be told, these illiterate peasants really didn’t give reasons for potato aversion. They simply pointed out that planting potatoes was not “how it was done.”
This Russian skepticism was common among European peasant cultures. But there was a major exception: Ireland. The Irish cultivation of the potato allowed for prosperity and population growth. By 1800 one third of the population of the United Kingdom were Irish.
This changed. The potato famine led to mass starvation and emigration.
We all know the reason: the famine. The reality here is that Russian stubbornness may not have been easy to rationalize, but the rejection of “expertise” in this case was socially meritorious.
Stolen Entire from Gene Expression

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Fun with Art

Nicole Duennebier, “Set table with fishes,” “Hiding in a Mignon Grotto,” “Waiting for the Day to be Over”, and “Pheasant burst with Peony” (2020), acrylic on panel
First up we have shot of an art gallery with several pictures on the wall.

The empty gallery
But as you can see, it is not a real gallery, it is a miniature model of a gallery with miniature paintings on the wall. I like models.

Los Angeles

Academy Museum under construction (center), with LACMA in foreground, and Petersen Automotive Museum at left (© Academy Museum Foundation)
Cool, a spherical building.

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Just to see how well Google 3D Maps does with this location. I suspect the flat top to the cylindrical building in the Google version is because it was taken before the dome was erected and is not due to some image processing artifact, but I could be wrong.

Via Metafilter

Tuesday, May 12, 2020


One wheel motorcycle, invented by Italian M. Goventosa de Udine, 1931
Mr. M. Goventosa of Udine, Italy, built this monowheel in 1931, and that it was capable of 150 KPH, or about 93 MPH. - Hemmings
 I've seen other old monocycles, but the rider was centered sideways within the wheel. This version would give you unobstructed vision directly forward, but with both versions your forward vision would be obstructed. Whether it was better to have the obstruction directly ahead or a few degrees to one side is debatable.

I suspect the big problem with these things is that you could not brake very strongly. Too much force on the brake would send you on a loop-de-loop, which would reduce your braking ability, not to mention dumping you on your head. A cute idea, but not really practical.

There is a modern, computerized version running around where the rider rides on top of the wheel, but once again, I suspect braking is compromised. Whenever you touch the brakes, the wheel needs to speed up just a fraction to get in front of you so that when the brake is applied, 'down' points through the tire's contact patch.

Via daily timewaster, who has a different colorized image of an earler version.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Space News

Starship Performs First Engine Test Fires & Tom Cruise's Movie In Space - Deep Space Updates

Scott Manley reports: SpaceX's Starship testing proceeds apace, Hollywood is going to the ISS and China tests another people carrying capsule.

Not sure where I stumbled across this. Posts from Feedly show up in browser history, but they are not identified.

Quote of the Day

 "Of course, most people adapt to our brave new world, in which no one can afford to be honest, and therefore no one can be trusted." - David Warren


Here's Everything that's Broken on My 1966 Imperial Crown Convertible and Why it's INDESTRUCTIBLE!

I'm watching this video and I'm listening to Hoovie and the Wizard talk about crumple zones and how Chrysler Imperials have been banned from demolition derbies and i got a clue about why cars might sometimes be declared a total loss by insurance companies even though the damage appears to be minor.

Newer cars have crumple zones that are supposed to absorb the impact of a crash and so protect the cabin and the occupants.

A while back my wife's SUV got rear ended. From the outside, the damage to the rear bumper appeared to be minimal, just a couple of scratches. However, underneath the plastic bumper there was steel bumper that had gotten crushed and needed to be replaced.

So I'm thinking that if a wreck has caused any deformation to the crumple zone, the insurance company is liable to declare the car a total loss even if the damage could be repaired. Crumple zones are disposable. If it gets crumpled once, that's it. Even if it is straightened out so that it looks like new, it will not have the same strength as it did before.

Put all this in my mental blender and I came up with this theory. The insurance company does not want to be on the hook if the car is in another wreck and someone gets hurt because someone is liable to claim that the repairs that the insurance company authorized weren't adequate to restore the car to like-new condition. And since personal injury claims are easily ten times as large as claims for damage to the car, the insurance company totals the car and so frees themselves from any future obligation.

Which means two of our cars could be more dangerous if they are ever involved in a wreck. Since the odds of being in a serious wreck are low, I am willing to take that chance.

Save us, Plexiglas!

People solo dining at a hotpot restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand.
No, the shields in the picture look more like polyethylene film than Plexiglas, but Plexiglas sales have doubled since this disaster showed up.

Summer's Coming

Me & Gus
It was 80 degrees yesterday, so I broke out a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. That's me & Gus on the couch settling in for an evening with Netflix. The mark on my arm is where I burned myself with the blade from the sawzall a month ago when we were breaking down the old kitchen in the new house. I was using the sawzall to cut through the silicon sealer that had been used to fasten the granite counter tops to the kitchen cabinets and it was slow going, the blade got really hot and I was careless.

That was then. Today it's supposed to be in the 60's and rainy.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Earth and Blood

Earth and Blood | Official Trailer | Netflix

Not a bad little thriller. Not great, mind you, but not bad.

Summary, with spoilers:
The movie opens with four bad guys with guns going into a police station to steal eight kilos of cocaine from the evidence lockup. It doesn't go well and several people of both sides end up dead. The leader gets away with the coke, but his plan to unload it apparently goes sideways, so he leaves his minivan (with the coke) with his half brother who is working at a sawmill.

Now thread of the story moves to the sawmill, where the old guy in charge is diagnosed with cancer. This news along with the fact that the business is struggling, prompts him to agree to sell the mill to a long time competitor. His daughter is a deaf-mute, though she does have a hearing aid. It's an old mill, dark and full of dangerous machinery, which makes the whole setting ominous.

Meanwhile a local drug king pin has found out about the robbery (it was on the news, which also mentioned the eight kilos of coke). He wants to get his hands on it and he has no qualms about torturing and killing anyone who gets in his way. Eight kilos of coke is worth about $250,000 wholesale, so if he can get his hands on it, he stands to make some money. After all, he didn't have to pay the wholesaler. On the other hand, maybe it was his coke that the police grabbed and he just wants it back.

Back at the sawmill, the old guy discovers the coke, sends everyone home, and just about then the bad guys show up. Mayhem ensues. The old guys does a good impression of Clint Eastwood. Both sides make some smart moves and some stupid ones. There is one scene where the bad guys are shooting up one of the buildings using AK's. The young guys are letter loose streams of bullets. The king pin is deliberately shooting one bullet at a time. Makes me think he may have been a soldier and was conserving his ammo. Or maybe his gun wasn't a fully automatic, which makes me wonder if a semi-automatic AK-47 is something you would only find in the USA. I mean, guns are basically illegal in most of the rest of world. The semi-auto distinction is something that came to be in the USA with advent of the National Firearms Act of 1934.

On Netflix, in French with English subtitles.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Seven Kinds of Devils

St. Anthony beset by demons by Martin Schongauer
Seven kinds of people who are trying to fuck you over:
Elitists frequently identify with a peer group based on wealth, power, rank, social status, occupation, education, ethnic group, etc. and perceive themselves and their peers as inherently superior to and more responsible than the "common people", thus more deserving of certain rights. 
Authoritarian personalities are characterized by their belief in unquestioning obedience to an authority figure or group and a disdain for individual freedom of action, expression, and judgement. Those with authoritarian personalities function well in symbiosis with elitists occupying positions of power. Because authoritarians repress their desires for autonomy they harbor a deep resentment toward free and independent thinkers.  
[Nothing to add here. I mean, fucking you over is what they do.]
Cowards by definition are easily or excessively frightened by things and situations that are recognized as dangerous, difficult, or painful. In reality, many of these individuals harbor an envy induced resentment toward anyone with the means, skill, and will to successfully stand up to criminal aggression.
The desire to assert oneself exists in nearly everyone, wimps included, so cowards seek out tame enemies against whom they can ply their pitiful brand of machismo. After all, real criminals are dangerous, so cowards prefer doing battle with inanimate objects that do not have a will of their own and decent law-abiding people whose high level of integrity and self discipline prevent them from physically lashing out against mere verbal assailants, however obnoxious they may be. 
Ideological chameleons follow the simple social strategy of avoiding controversy and confrontation by espousing the beliefs of the people in their immediate vicinity or advocating the philosophy of those who scream the loudest in a debate. Like their reptilian namesake, people who merely blend in with the ambient philosophical foliage seem to have little insight into the moral and social ramifications of their actions. Political and/or economic gain along with avoidance of confrontation are their only goals. 
Security monopolists are those members and representatives of public and private security-providing-concerns who want the means of self protection out of private hands so that they can command high fees for protecting the citizenry against the rising tide of crime. These profiteers stand to loose a great deal of capital if citizens can efficiently defend themselves. To the security monopolist, each criminal who enters and exits the revolving door of justice is a renewable source of revenue providing jobs for police, social workers, victim counsellors, judges, prison employees, security guards, burglar alarm installers, locksmiths, and others employed by the security monopolies or their satellite organizations.  
Just as a limb will weaken and atrophy if not used, so will aspects of the mind fail to develop if nothing in one’s environment exists to challenge them. People who have led excessively sheltered lives tend to have a difficult time understanding certain cause and effect relationships and an even harder time appreciating just how cruel the world can be. To them, tyranny and crime are things that happen in other places far removed from their "civilized" universe. Also, they do not understand the value of private property and why some people would fight for theirs since they never had to work hard to acquire what they possess. While those suffering from dysfunctional unworldliness are most often people who have been born into considerable wealth, this condition is also common in members of the clergy, academicians, practitioners of the arts, and others who have spent much of their lives cloistered in a safe and pampering environment. While many of these people may be quite talented and intelligent in some ways, their extreme naivety makes them easy prey for the tyrants who use them for the financial support and favorable advertisement of their regimes.  
Acquiring knowledge of one’s foes is the first step toward defeating them.
Stolen from JPFO. The original talks about these seven devils in relation to the right of citizens to possess firearms. I thought it was so well done that firearms don't even need to be mentioned, so I edited it to remove all such mentions. I think it stands up well. These seven devils are the scourge of modern life. No matter what they are promoting, the should be opposed.

Via My Daily Kona

Hoovies Garage

Can this $200 Jaguar XJ8 Be Saved? Hooptie Rescue Mission

I've been watching Hoovie's videos lately and I enjoy them. Generally, he is talking about old, fancy, expensive cars that he has purchased for cheap and how much of a disaster they are and what an idiot he is for buying them. He's often right, but not always. Sometimes what looks like a complete disaster turns out to be something that can be fixed for a couple of hundred dollars.

The whole scene is very different from when I was working on cars 40 years ago. Then I was dealing with $200 cars which were complete junk and I was just trying to make them run for another week. There were no computers. Tune ups, which included changing the points, condensor and spark plugs needed to be done once a year. A timing light (strobe light) was the epitome of high-technology.

Anyway, he gives a very good view into the current used automobile business. I do not understand new car dealers. Years ago we purchased two new cars and neither dealer was any fun to deal with. The last two cars I bought were rebuilt from 'wrecks' and they have proven to be great cars. I say 'wrecks' but that just means there was enough damage that it was cheaper for the insurance company to write it off than to fix it. There is something funny about this business. I do not understand how a $20K car with $5K of damage becomes 'totaled'.

If you are buying a car, remember that even an economy car costs around $500 a month to own and operate. Doesn't really matter if it is new or used. Used cars cost less to buy but are going to have higher repair bills. If you are careful you might be able to get by on slightly less money, but you should put any money left over in the cookie jar because inevitably you are going to need it. If you can't afford the $500 every month, don't buy a car.

Gdańsk, Poland

Gdansk, Poland via Google 3D Maps
Gdańsk, Poland via daily timewaster
I don't know whether it was instinct or pure dumb luck, but I managed to locate the neighborhood in just a few clicks. Total elapsed time: 15 minutes.

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Mire

NETFLIX: The Mire (Rojst) | Trailer (English dub)

An odd little crime drama, set in a small town in Poland in the 1980's, so before the fall of the USSR and the Soviet apparatus is still in charge. We've got a grizzled old reporter who is planning his escape to Berlin and we have a new kid who has come to this small town from Krakow to get out from under his father who is some kind of party honcho. Like I said, it's a small town and like any small town, nothing ever happens but all of sudden we have two separate incidents resulting in four deaths. The police have both cases sewn up immediately, but there are a few loose threads and our reporters start pulling on them. The younger one right away, but the veteran gets dragged in as well. The veteran knows better, the police have 'solved' the case and nothing is going to change the official version of the crime, but there are too many connections to people he knows.

The forest where everybody dies has a bad reputation that it acquired back in the bad old days (during the tail end of WW2 maybe) when everyone in town was locked up in a camp in the forest. Details are vague, I suppose it's meant to give kind of a creepy feel to the show, but the present day bullshit of the police state kind of pushes it into the background.

The setting feels authentic, everyone smokes, the only nice buildings are the official ones, cars are ratty junkers. The veteran reporter wears an old army field jacket, which seems like a useful thing to wear while out tramping around in the woods, but provides a sharp contrast when he goes to visit the judge in the courthouse.

The Polish names gave us some trouble. It made keeping all of the characters straight a bit of a chore. Mostly we just used their job titles to indicate who we were talking about. 

5 episodes about 45 minutes each. We watched it in original language (Polish, presumably) with English subtitles.

Thursday, May 7, 2020


Testing anything electrical with a multimeter is an awkward proposition. You need both hands to hold the test leads and then another pair of hands to hold the wires you want to test and if you don't have a bench handy, you need another hand to hold the meter. You need five hands to make the most basic electrical test. Why hasn't someone come up with a better solution? I haven't done it because I've been busy playing solitaire. At the very least we need a pair of pliers that has one lead in one jaw and the other test lead in the other jaw. The jaws need to be long and curved, like fingers, the tips need to be spring loaded so you can push on one forcefully and so bring the second tip into contact with its test point. And the meter needs to be built into the pliers so you can hold the meter and two leads in one hand. You still need another pair of hands to hold the test points. Yes, sometimes the test point is on something that is large and heavy enough that it will sit there while you probe it. I ran into one of those back in '83, or was it '73? What usually happens is you have a bunch of wires dangling in the air, the ends haven't been stripped, so the only available contact point is the bare end of the wire, barely visible at the very tip.

What I really want is a smart probe that can grab hold of the end of a wire, locate the tip of the wire within the surrounding insulation and stab it with the pointy tip of the test lead. You have to stab it because metal, even copper and gold, will tarnish enough in the open air that a low voltage (like you get from a double A battery) will not be able to bridge a casual contact made by just touching the probe tip to the test point.