Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Saturday, October 31, 2020



De Havilland DH 83 Fox Moth

The DH.83 Fox Moth was a successful small biplane passenger aircraft from the 1930s . . . Many components including the engine, tailplane, fin, rudder and wings were identical to those being used for the de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth then being built in large quantities as a military trainer. These were fitted to the purpose-built wooden, plywood-covered fuselage . . . - Wikipedia

An airplane made of plywood, haven't run across one of those lately. When was plywood invented? Wikipedia knows, or at least has an opinion:

The ancient Egyptians and Greeks cut wood thinly and glued it together in layers with the grain in perpendicular directions, making a versatile building material. In 1797 Samuel Bentham applied for patents covering several machines to produce veneers. In his patent applications, he described the concept of laminating several layers of veneer with glue to form a thicker piece – the first description of what we now call plywood. Bentham was a British naval engineer with many shipbuilding inventions to his credit. Veneers at the time of Bentham were flat sawn, rift sawn or quarter sawn; i.e. cut along or across the log manually in different angles to the grain and thus limited in width and length.

About fifty years later Immanuel Nobel, father of Alfred Nobel, realized that several thinner layers of wood bonded together would be stronger than a single thick layer of wood. Understanding the industrial potential of laminated wood, he invented the rotary lathe.

There is little record of the early implementation of the rotary lathe and the subsequent commercialization of plywood as we know it today, but in its 1870 edition, the French dictionary Robert describes the process of rotary lathe veneer manufacturing in its entry Déroulage. One can thus presume that rotary lathe plywood manufacturer was an established process in France in the 1860s. Plywood was introduced into the United States in 1865 and industrial production started shortly after. In 1928, the first standard-sized 4 ft by 8 ft plywood sheets were introduced in the United States for use as a general building material.

Artists use plywood as a support for easel paintings to replace traditional canvas or cardboard. Ready-made artist boards for oil painting in three-layered plywood (3-ply) were produced and sold in New York as early as 1880.

 The idea has been around for a very long time, but it took the invention of the rotary lathe to make it commonplace.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Garden Party

Garden Party | Oscar Nominated CG Animation | Short of the Week
Short of the Week

Shades of Tony Montana. The animation is very realistic, almost perfect, but there are a couple of  instances where the frogs exhibit some human behavior. It's not much, it's just a subtle motion of the head or body, but it rings false, which is all I needed to convince me that it was an animation, not some the work of a crazed naturalist camped out in a former drug lord's oasis of death.

Okay, that's one take on it, but you say 'Garden Party' and I remember Ricky Nelson's song:

Garden Party by Ricky Nelson 1972 Official | Stone Canyon Band | Original Lyrics in Description
Our Nostalgic Memories

It wasn't a big hit, and it didn't really connect with me, you know, not like a Beatles or a Led Zeppelin hit did, but the lyrics were kind of interesting and eventually, like a thousand years later, I looked it up and found out about what happened. When this song came out (1972) the culture war between the straights and the hippies was going strong. The Vietnam war and the associated protests were in full song. And I was kind of on the side of the hippies.

You go to school and you study all this stuff and you learn all these things, and what's your reward? You get to go to more school and learn more things. Or you can go to war and get yourself kilt dead, or worse. What the fuck kind of deal is that? Where's the new Chevy convertible? Where's the job that pays $5 an hour? (If you were making $5 an hour back then you could certainly afford a car, maybe not a new one, but a decent car could be had for a few hundred dollars. Yeah, Madison Avenue was painting a rosy picture, but you're eighteen and you step out of the house and you find it's a long way to the ground. No wonder people were pissed off and protesting.

There was something wrong with the straight world. I didn't know just what was wrong, but I knew it was stupid. They had all these rules and bullshit, and a lot of stupid, useless classes (anything that involved reading and writing). Math, the only subject that counted, was super easy. Entertaining even. (I think it might be genetic. None of my kids seems to have it, at least not to the extent that I do.)

But given that most people seem to have difficulty with math, I don't think we can say that freakish genetic mathematical ability was pervasive enough to lead to zillions of people protesting. I think there were other things wrong with the straight world, and other people, ordinary people, saw there was something wrong as well.

Fifty years later, I am thoroughly embedded in the straight world. And there are still things wrong. I think my biggest problem was I thought everyone else in the world was stupid. That's probably a common affliction amongst 19 year olds. I would have benefited from some real life lessons that I suspect I was protected from simply by my place in society. No soldiers in the streets, no bombs going off down the block, no bums on the sidewalk.

There's still something I am not connecting here. Or maybe it's because it's all so far away that it's all a little jumbled.

Update July 2022 replaced missing Ricky Nelson video.

Evolution of Elon's Starship

Starship 101: All You NEED To Know About SpaceX's Vessel

This video gives us a brief history of the evolution of SpaceX's Starship. I had kind of forgotten how long they have been working on this, and how far they have come. I suppose that comes from being nearly overwhelmed by what's going on right now.

When will SpaceX's Starship SN8 fly?
What about it!?

This one has some aerial shots of the SpaceX operation Boca Chica. It's a much bigger layout than I thought. The spy videos of activity there don't really show how extensive it is. It's kind of weird that we aren't getting much in the way of reports from inside the fence. I suppose there is enough enthusiasm for this project on the outside that SpaceX doesn't really need a video production team running around on the inside. Besides, producing videos could interfere with actually getting things done, and we can't have that. I mean that's one of the reasons everything NASA does costs so much - they have to show everything they do as a Walt Disney show for the kiddies.

These videos aren't quite perfect, but they are pretty darn good, and the information content certainly outweighs the minor stumbles.

Halifax Explosion

Halifax Explosion: Minute by Minute
Terra Incognita

I'm reading The Surgeon's Mate, volume 7 in Patrick O'Brian's epic saga of the British Royal Navy in the time of Napoleon. The story opens in Halifax, Nova Scotia (far eastern Canada). I've heard of Halifax, have I mentioned it before? Yes, I have. Halifax is where there was a big explosion a hundred years ago. I remember reading about this, and I thought I saw a video about it. Well, maybe I did, but it's not in my blog. Looking around I found this one, and it's pretty good, so here we are.


Lux mobiles queued up at the drive-thru food bank in San Francisco

This problem I am having with my back and legs is giving me a new perspective on things. A couple of weeks ago (a month?) I borrowed a torch from Jack so we could solder some copper water pipes. Naturally enough things didn't go as expected and we didn't get the soldering done before Jack needed his torch back. So yesterday I went to Lowe's and spent $300 on a portable oxy-acetylene rig. It's overkill for what we need, but a professional air-acetylene rig runs about $500. So $300 was less painful than having to call Jack, arrange to pick up the torch, drive over there and then return it. Shoot the $500 torch would have been less painful than a bunch of screwing around. 

Basically anything that requires me to get out of my chair is getting re-evaluated in terms of how much pain it is going to give me. Admittedly, the level of pain is not that high, over-the-counter pain meds suffice to keep it under control, but I still don't like it, so I find myself avoiding things.

We salvaged a bunch of lumber from when we demolished the kitchen in the new house. It might come in handy when we get to building the new walls and ceiling, but right now it's kind of in the way. I have a big fat dumpster sitting out in front of the house that's mostly empty and I am tempted to toss all this lumber in there just to get rid of it. Yes, I could put it on Craigslist, but that's another hassle, and I don't really care. I could probably replace all this surplus lumber for a couple hundred bucks, and in terms of the overall cost of this project, that's a nit. On the other hand, my inner depression-era miser says 'look at all that valuable lumber! Save it! It's valuable!' Sometimes I hate myself.

Meanwhile, California Bob is scarfing up on premium goodies at the drive-thru food bank in San Francisco.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Just call me foamy

Does any of this say anything important?

As in foaming at the mouth. I stopped by Lowe's this afternoon to pick up some cement for plastic pipes. They had a couple of dozen different kinds. I was tired and my back hurt, but I was able to pick out a couple that are for ABS (as opposed to PVC), but trying to read the fine print on the back of the can was impossible without my reading glasses, which I left in the car, and I ain't walking a half mile back out to the car to get my reading glasses just so I can read a bunch of legalese. There are probably a couple of words in there that are important, but you'll never find them, buried as they are in all the legal bullshit. Curses upon the morons that foisted this shit on us. Screw it, I bought both of them. We'll sort it out tomorrow.

Enemy Country

Diana (Sackville), Viscountess Crosbie
I imagine this is very similar to what Stephen was having to deal with.

I'm reading The Surgeon's Mate, volume 7 in Patrick O'Brian's epic saga of the British Royal Navy in the time of Napoleon.

Stephen Maturin is in London with the holy grail of his heart's desire: Diana Villiers. He has offered to marry her but she will not as she is pregnant with another man's child. Stephen is going to a scientific conference in Paris, never mind that a war is going on. Diana want's to go with him. Her staying in England means either hiding out or facing down all the gossip she would engender. Anyway, we have a couple of lines on page 136 that I thought worth sharing.
Stephen: 'Would not the same objections apply in France? And could you live easy in an enemy country?'
Diana: 'Oh, nobody has ever thought of Paris as enemy country. We are at war with Napoleon, not with Paris.'

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


SpaceX Starship Airlock Concept

This isn't the best video, he doesn't really spend much time on what SpaceX is likely to do with their Starship, but there is a load of good background information.

Emergency Training Averts Airlock Disaster on MIR
Science Channel

There isn't much to this video, but it gives you a sample of how, when small things go wrong they can leave you in the lurch. You should probably be brushing up on your Russian. Even if you don't go to space, it can help you with negotiating bribes and/or defending yourself against criminal charges in Congress.

Making it in Manila

Refined CNC Machine Design

Some dude in the Philippines is running a shop making things (flower pots maybe?) It's a constant battle against gremlins, technical and bureaucratic. It's always nice to hear about far away places that aren't a complete disaster.

Via BustedKnuckles

Monday, October 26, 2020

Gold Dredge #9

My nephew Nick at the top of the boom on
Gold Dredge #9 in Fairbanks Alaska

Looking around for more info about the dredge I came across this video. Not great, but a good tune, a cute girl, and we get a tour of a dredge. Might be the same one, it's a little hard to tell. 

Gold Dredge #9
Christine H

It seems there are a few of these big old monster dredges around Fairbanks. Nick's dredge looks a whole lot like the Chatanika Gold Dredge No. 3. This one I was able to find on Google Maps.

New Land Speed Record

WORLD'S FASTEST ONBOARD: SSC Tuatara hits crazy 331mph top speed! | Top Gear
Top Gear

Seems like it was only last week that the Bugatti Veyron broke the 200 mph mark for a street legal road car, and now an American outfit has broken the 300 mph mark. No way, Jose.

I've driven cars at 100 mph for brief stretches. On a public highway in the remote of areas of the American west, it's not too difficult. Too me, it's scary fast. 200 mph is something for prepared surface, like a race track or an airstrip, but 300 mph on a public road? That must be some really pristine asphalt. I imagine hitting any kind of imperfection on the road surface at that speed could easily be catastrophic. I wonder if they sent a street sweeper down the road first.

Nevada State Route 160 looking North
7 mile stretch of dead straight road
runs from lower right corner across to the middle of the left edge

Here is the road they used. It is Nevada State Route 160. It heads northwest from Las Vegas to Pahrump.


Animated Starship Plumbing Diagram
C-bass Productions

Here's my contribution to the celebration of SpaceX getting the nose cone mounted on Starship SN8. This is another animated video about SpaceX's Starship prototype. The last one was made by C-bass Productions as well. This one shows how fuel is distributed and consumed during a flight. 

The dedicated tanks for landing is new to me, but it makes good sense. Watching it for the second time though, that LOX tank in the nose is making me nervous. I don't suppose it makes much difference where it is, if anything goes wrong anywhere in the ship, it will all be over in a flash.

Here are a couple of my posts with Scott Manley videos:
Looking around, I found a couple of comments about these dedicated fuel tanks, also called header tanks:
Those are the header tanks that contain the landing propellant. They are separate in order to have greater insulation and minimize boil-off, avoid sloshing on entry and not have to press up the whole main tank. - Elon Musk
Now, the new reason for the Starship header tank is that by putting it in the very tip of the nose of the Starship you move the center of mass higher on the rocket - especially during reentry. If the fuel was in the main tank, the weight and balance would be too far aft for the 'skydiver' horizontal return method. So putting a separate tank in the nose of the Starship solves a whole lot of problems at once. - StackExchange

Lastly, we need to consider ullage:

In the weightless condition in space without engine thrust, empty space occurs in partially filled tanks, and the liquid floats away from the engine intake, which is undesirable for stable engine operation. Small rocket engines are sometimes used to provide enough acceleration to settle the propellant to the bottom of the tanks prior to ignition of the main engine(s). Engines devoted to this purpose are called ullage motors; sometimes reaction control system thrusters are used. - Wikipedia

Ullage motors do not need to be very powerful, pressurized nitrogen gas could be used. No need for a full fledged rocket motor burning fuel and oxygen, a simple nozzle with a valve is all that is needed.

Sunday, October 25, 2020


REBOOTED | Short Film

This is a cute little film about an out-of-work actor, and generally about modern life. 

It reminded me that I've been meaning to say something about Behzat Ç. We're about halfway through the 96 episodes and I've noticed a few things. For one, the bit players are a bit stiff. Brought up on fancy Hollywood police dramas, you expect all roles to be well played by the actors. Not so much in Ankara, Turkey, population 6 million. The bit players recite their lines, but that's about it. We're starting to see a bit more emotion from these guys now that we are in the second or third (or fourth) season. It's hard to tell, Netflix lumps them all in one. The introduction changed a few episodes ago, so it's got to be at least the second season.

Most of the lead characters are unpleasant, at least on the surface, but after watching for so long you begin to detect some better inner qualities, and they are pretty consistent. So the lead actors are doing a pretty good job, and I think that's what keeps bringing us back. Plus we have multiple plot threads running in parallel. There is always the murder de jour that needs to be solved, but there are also long term investigations that pop up at irregular intervals. And then there are the characters personal lives, and some of those are pretty entertaining.

And then there are the hot women. We started with Gonul, a middle aged nightclub singer and longtime friend of Behzat. Then there was Bahar, Behzat's ex-girlfriend, a mainstay until recently. She has moved to Istanbul and is out of the picture, for the moment anyway. She's been supplanted by Ersa, the prosecutor who has moved up from handling Behzat's murder cases to handling Behzat on a more personal basis. Now we have another hottie moving in. I think her name is Ona. She's the head of the narcotics squad and is a pretty tough cookie. Unlikely to find such a good looking women in that role in real life, but that's TV for you.

Then there is the long suffering Eda. She is a young women who has gotten a job with the murder squad. She keeps hoping to get some field work, but the couple of instances when she did go out in the field did not work out too well. Turkey is still male dominated society. Many men still think a women's place is in the home and if there are out wandering around they must be whores. Progress is being made, but it's still pretty sketchy. So Eda is stuck in the office searching for evidence on the internet and fielding phone calls. She has become somewhat indispensable in that role.

The long term investigations keep running into stone walls in the upper levels of government. Back in 1980 there was some political unrest and brutal repression. 
The country's tumultuous transition to multiparty democracy was interrupted by military coups d'état in 1960 and 1980, as well as by military memorandums in 1971 and 1997. - Wikipedia
It sounds kind of like Argentina with the right wing death squads and the left wing commies battling it out. Erdoğan may not be a great leader by western standards, but maybe that part of the world can only be ruled by a strongman. I blame Genghis Khan for being a successful role model (not a good one, but a successful one) and destroying the idea of compromise in Asia.

Faraday Building


Faraday Building (green roof, center)
St. Paul's Cathedral (upper right)
Some modern abominstion (lower left)
Thames River (bottom)

Brian Micklethwait put up some pictures of St. Paul's Cathedral and noted that the Faraday building partially blocks the view of St. Paul's from across the river. The Faraday Building? That sounds kind of cool in a 19th Century kind of steampunkish / electrical engineering kind of way. I mean, Faraday was one of the founding fathers of our electrified world. Alas, only the name has survived, all remnants of the telephone exchange that it was originally built to house are gone leaving just more pedestrian businesses. Google Maps doesn't even recognize it as the Faraday Building. Google puts it three miles south, across the river in Camberwell.

I couldn't find a decent picture of the building so once again I resorted to using Google's 3D Viewer.

Telephone Keystone on the Faraday Building

There is still a stone telephone on the outside of the building, so not all of it's history has been erased.

Cube Puzzle Solver Port-Mortem

Number of times search was blocked by level.

I modified my cube solver program to keep track of the number of times a search at each level failed. There are ten pieces to the puzzle, so we search at ten different levels, one level for each piece. The graph shows the number of times the search of all possible positions at that level did not find a single one that could hold the selected piece.

Levels 0 thru 4 don't even register above the X axis at this scale. Including them made the key confusing, there wasn't enough differentiation in the colors, so I didn't include them. Level 5 shows a flat line even though it has counts consistently above 10 billion (10^10). I included it just to give you an idea of the scale we are working with.

The program printed this data to stderr, which by default goes to the terminal screen. Copy and paste that into the text editor and then replace all instances of multiple spaces with a single tab. (Start with the longest sequence of spaces you can find and then work backwards.) The formatting is lost, but now you can copy and paste that into a spreadsheet and our formatting is restored.

I did some calculations in the spreadsheet to see how many comparison tests we avoided and came up with about 4.5 quadrillion, which is a very large number, but still nowhere near the value of 

12 * (3*96)^4 * (4*96)^5 = 6.8929848e+23

which is what I expected. So there is something wrong with my calculations somewhere.

P.S. Something weird happened when I pasted the text into the spreadsheet. I got a bunch of lines consisting of the single word #ERROR! I looked in my source code, but couldn't find it, and I just looked in the text file and it's not there either, so I think Google Sheets must have found something it didn't like (like a line of 300 periods) and complained. No problem, simple sort the file and all the ugly stuff you aren't interested in gets lumped together and can easily to erased.

P.P.S. One trick I use when dealing with large quantities of data is to insert a column along the left hand edge, a new column A if you will, and then number all of the lines with sequential numbers. You can easily do this by typing 1 in box A1, and then =A1+1 in box A2. Copy box A2, select all the rest of column A from A3 to the end paste. Now all the lines are numbered sequentially. However, you are not quite done. If you sort the sheet now, all the values in column A will be recomputed and your original order will be lost. So what you do is copy column A and the Paste Special -> Values Only back over it. Now you have an indelible original order. Sort however you like, but you can restore the original order by sorting on Column A.

Another Science Fiction Story I Remember

Reviving the Dead

Thinking about old science fiction stories, I remembered another one, perhaps slightly related to the others I mentioned earlier.

This one involves a guy who was convicted or murdering his wife. I'm not sure about the circumstances, but I think there was something in there that if he would repent, his sentence would be commuted. In any case he was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, but as soon as he was pronounced dead they would revive him and rehabilitate him (physically), and then one year later they would execute him again. His biggest regret was that the execution was always held on her birthday.

Sunday Funnies

Call Center of the Wild - Carpe Diem

Remember the Elmo - Bizarro

And a followup to Demokratia:

Mob Rule - Prince Valiant

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Crush the Bums


No camping in the alcove

Sometime in the last month, security gates were installed across the alcove in front of the entrance doors of this apartment building in downtown Portland.

Sometime in the last year or so, a couple of doors down from this place, a chain link fence was installed across an empty storefront's covered inset.

I don't understand why apparently no progress has been made with the homeless. Maybe it's just class warfare, or rather class neglect. The people who are in power just don't care about the problem. Any discussion of the homeless is simply an opportunity to score political points, never mind if it does anything useful. But right now everyone is thoroughly entrenched in their positions and are waiting for the election. 

Some of our elected government officials are intelligent, dedicated folks who can be trusted to base their decisions on the facts. 

Some of them are big huggy bears who are blown whichever way the winds blow. They wouldn't know a fact if some one hit them upside the face with it. For them , logical thought is a foreign country.

Some of them intelligent, cunning, psychopaths who don't give a rats ass for anyone or anything except power, money and glory.

There is some overlap between these three categories, but I think that about covers it. Let us say our elected government officials are evenly divided into each of the three types. That would certainly explain why it is so hard to get any decent legislation passed.

I just searched my archive for 'homeless'. There are a number of posts. The oldest is dated 2009.

Building a TRUE 4k home cinema projector

Building a TRUE 4k home cinema projector (it’s awesome)
DIY Perks

This is pretty cool. He combines a handful of cheap, off-the-shelf components with some simple mechanical pieces and creates a neat machine. 

How dark the room would need to be in order to have a bright image could be an issue, and I don't know how you could determine that without actually trying it. If the room has to be absolutely pitch black, that could be a problem. You could bump up the LED to 200 Watts, but then you are going to need more cooling and if you want it to be quiet you might need to resort to water cooling, which adds another complication.

Some technical skill is needed. You need to understand simple electrical wiring, be able solder hookup wire, and take apart a smart phone. You also need to understand the specifications well enough to order the correct components.

The biggest problem is cutting the holes in some 1/8" aluminum plates. It could be done with a drill, a saber saw or an angle grinder and a file, but it would be messy, noisy, tedious and if you weren't very careful the holes would be ugly. However, since they are all on the inside of the machine and invisible on the outside, no one but you would know.

Or you could have SendCutSend cut all the aluminum parts for you. Takes a few days, and you would have to produce electronic drawings of the parts you want. There are probably other places that can do this as well, but SendCutSend is the only one I know of.

I was surprised that he used vinyl instead of paint. I like painting, but I don't do much of it. Preparation and cleanup are more work than the actual painting and not nearly as much fun. Plus there's the drying time. Vinyl with a pebbled surface is not going to show surface imperfections as readily as paint. Anodizing would be best, but that's another process that is best sent out and is going to take at least a couple of days if not weeks.

If I were to tackle this project, I estimate it would take me about a week of time and $500 to complete. I'm slow and $500 might be low.

Via Ross

Steroid Injections

Lumbar Epidural Steroid Injection
Mayfield Brain & Spine

I went to the doctor yesterday morning to have steroids injected into my lower spine. Didn't even have to get undressed. Unfastened my trousers and lay face down on the table. Started with a couple of lidocaine injections that got my attention, but didn't notice much after that. There were three people there: the doctor, her assistant and an X-ray technician. They had an X-ray machine in there so Dr. Linda could see what she was doing. The whole thing took about half an hour: 15 minutes to go over the paperwork and 15 minutes on the table. Walked out. It may be two weeks before the full benefit is felt. Right now the only difference I feel is some pressure in my lower back. That and I'm not sleeping. I went to bed at midnight but I couldn't get to sleep. I'm still awake and blogging like a madman.

Science Fiction Stories I Remember

The video I posted earlier reminded me of several science fiction stories I've read. Let me describe them. I don't recall most of the names.

One was a guy who became very wealthy and started enjoying himself a little too much. He became fat and slovenly, so much so that he began to disgust himself. But hey, they have this new super technique that allows them to copy your mind to a new body, a body identical to the one you had before you started down the road of dissipation, a body grown especially for you. So his mind is transferred to the new body and new body immediately starts going down the same road he went down before, the road to slovenly dissipation. Fine. But what happens to the old body? Well, it still has the same mind, but he's no longer a legal person, so he is put to work pulling weeds by hand on a farm. The overseer is a sunbaked, wiry guy, and fatty is basically his slave. By the time the new body has become obese, dissipated and is ready for a new younger, healthy body, the old fatty has become sunbaked and wiry. He becomes the new overseer and the new fatty becomes his slave. I don't recall what happened to the overseer.

Another was a story about some kind of secret agent man. At one point in the story he is flying a spherical space ship through the center of galaxy. The ship is roughly a mile in diameter. The control room is attached to the under side of the ship. He guides the ship by waving his hands around some kind of sphere. He guides it around and past stars as an airplane pilot would fly around mountains and buildings. He must be traveling at a rate of light years per minute.

Then there was the story about robots protecting us from ourselves. It started innocuously enough, but soon progressed to the point where you couldn't do anything at all. I remember foam blocks being involved. The story was basically about a guy going about his life, but his activities are constantly being proscribed by the robots as being too dangerous. He keeps pushing the boundaries, but I don't remember how it turned out.

We also have 

Star Trek with their warp drive


Star Wars with their hyperdrive

At first I thought Way Station by Clifford D. Simak might be applicable, but after thinking about it I realize it isn't. I am including it here anyway because I thought I had posted a synopsis but I could not find it. The story had some aliens contract with a Earth man living in the backwoods to operate a way station for aliens teleporting from one distant point to another. The aliens provided him with a perfect house to house the teleportation machine. The house required no maintenance.

USS Chesapeake versus HMS Shannon

Duel off Cape Anne - USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon exchange broadsides during their 15-minute battle in June 1813 - Robin Brooks

Fortune of War, a novel by Patrick O'Brian, finishes up with the battle between the USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon outside of Boston. Lucky Jack Aubrey was here. Unlike the last time, the Brit's won, which cheered them immensely being as they had lost their previous three encounters with the Americans. Wikipedia has a long article about the encounter.

There seem to be no end of web pages talking about the naval engagements of between the Brits and the Americans during the war of 1812. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that people are so interested in old wars. Mortal combat has been our primary occupation for the last zillion years. The primary, and proper, occupation of soldiers is studying how old wars were fought, so naturally old soldiers are going to put up web pages about what they've learned.

A large portion of the world's economy is devoted to designing and building ever newer and more lethal weapons. So even if you aren't a soldier, if you are paying taxes you are supporting this effort. I guess it's worthwhile, we haven't had any full scale wars in North America since when, the Civil War?

Friday, October 23, 2020


3D Animated Sci-Fi Short Film | Avarya by Gökalp Gönen
Turn on Closed Captions for English subtitles
Short of the Week

I've been thinking about how people would cope with a long duration space voyage and this video pops up on YouTube. Can Google read my mind now?

There is nothing new in this story that I haven't read in science fiction before, though this is likely a new combination.

The best part is the visualization of interstellar travel. I still have hope that a particle accelerator would be able to provide enough thrust to make interstellar travel possible, though the efficiency required may be impossible to attain. If that proves to be the case, we still have our old fallback of distorting space, i.e. worm holes and/or warp drives. That is what I presume is being done here, and it's great.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

SpaceX Starship Test Hop

Starship SN8 20km Hop w/ corrected landing burn.
C-bass Productions

It looks real, it fooled me the first time I watched it, but then I read the blurb and realized it's only a comptuer generated simulation.

This video is of a planned test hop to 50,000 feet. It's a little unnerving when they shut the engine off at the top. They aren't in orbit, there's nothing holding it up anymore, it's going to start falling and if they can't restart the engines, it will smash into the ground.

Seems odd that 3 engines would be enough to lift such a large vessel, but it's mostly empty, much like a beer can with a couple of ounces of beer left in the bottom, so 3 engines is plenty.

Via Silicon Greybeard, my go to guy for SpaceX related news.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Hamlet & the CIA

Kean Collection - Staff/Archive Photos/Getty Images

“Treason doth never prosper; what is the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason.” – Sir John Harrington.

As Shakespeare would state in his play Hamlet, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” like a fish that rots from head to tail, so do corrupt government systems rot from top to bottom.

This is a reference to the ruling system of Denmark and not just the foul murder that King Claudius has committed against his brother, Hamlet’s father. This is showcased in the play by reference to the economy of Denmark being in a state of shambles and that the Danish people are ready to revolt since they are on the verge of starving. King Claudius has only been king for a couple of months, and thus this state of affairs, though he inflames, did not originate with him.

Thus, during our time of great upheaval we should ask ourselves; what constitutes the persisting “ruling system,” of the United States, and where do the injustices in its state of affairs truly originate from?

The tragedy of Hamlet does not just lie in the action (or lack of action) of one man, but rather, it is contained in the choices and actions of all its main characters. Each character fails to see the longer term consequences of their own actions, which leads not only to their ruin but towards the ultimate collapse of Denmark. The characters are so caught up in their antagonism against one another that they fail to foresee that their very own destruction is intertwined with the other.
I've never read Hamlet, though I've probably seen the movie, and I've never looked into it, so Ms. Chung's assertions clarify a murky area in my mind. Of course, not having anything to compare it with, I can't know how accurate her assessment is.

But all that is just setting the scene. Mostly she is excoriating the US government's handling of the CIA.

I haven't read the whole thing, but so far it's pretty good. But now I have to head over to the new house and figure out how we're going to handle an HVAC problem.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Demokratia Part 2

The USS Constitution vs the HMS Java - Patrick O'Brian

I'm re-reading The Fortune of War by Patrick O'Brian and the War of 1812 is going on. Stephen and Jack are aboard the HMS Java when they meet the USS Constitution off the coast of Brazil in mortal combat. Java is destroyed, the surviving Brits are captured and Jack and Stephen are interned in Boston.

Then I came across this bit that seems apropos of our current political contest. Stephen and the senior Mr. Herapath, a well-to-do Boston businessman, walk by one of Mr. Herapath's ships tied up in the harbor and Mr. Herapath hails his man keeping watch:

'Joe!' he shouted.

'What now?' called Joe from out of the fog.

"Mind your fenders.'

'I am a-minding them, ain't I?'

'God's my life,' said Herapath to Stephen, 'to speak to the owner so, and a black man at that! It could never have happened in the old days. With his democractical notions, that wicked fellow Jefferson has rotted the moral fibre of the whole country.'

Demokratia Part 1 here.



Breaking Cat News - Dish Soap
Click to embiggenate

How could you confuse dish soap with dishwasher soap? I have to admit I did try using liquid dish soap in a dishwasher once upon a time and the results were just like those depicted in the comic. I knew what I was doing though. I was just hoping that it would work because I was out of dishwasher soap and didn't want to run to the store to get more.

There is a woman singing a song on the radio these days wherein she says something to the effect that she 'isn't careful with things'. (I don't know who sings it.) This just reminds me that the ability to deal with things varies greatly among people and not everyone is good at it. Strikes me as weird, but then I'm a thing kind of guy. Likewise I can't understand why some people are so fascinated with every nuance of people's behavior.


Aleta Demokratia

From Prince Valiant in this morning's Oregonian. Given that the whole world seems to be pumped up about the coming US Presidential election, I thought I would chip in my two cents, or rather Aleta's.

I've been reading Prince Valiant for as long as I can remember and I am still not sure where the Misty Isles are. Sometimes I think the British Isles, and sometimes I think the eastern Mediterranean.

I've been kind of dragging the last week, but I seem to be doing better. I finished today's Jumble in only a couple of minutes. The solution to every word popped into my mind almost immediately, and deciphering the final phrase was almost as quick. This was unexpected because I have several Sunday Jumble's I have saved to work on later because I haven't been able to solve them yet.

Cube Puzzle Part 2


I modified the program so it now finds all 335 solutions. It runs quite a bit longer now, almost 15 hours. I also uploaded a text file that illustrates all how all the transformations are done to place a piece in the cube.

The program made 41 billion comparisons, which is a bunch, but a far cry from the umpteen zillion I expected. Since the 10th root of 41 billion is only about 11, I'm thinking most searches must have reached the end of their list early on.

The program starts with the first piece placed in one of it's twelve possible positions. The first piece has only 12 possible positions as all of the other positions (276) are simply rotations of one kind or another.

We are going to test each of these against all 288 possible positions for the 2nd piece. Some of these tests will fail, indicating the pieces would collide, but most will pass. Of those that pass, we will test all 288 positions for the 3rd piece. More tests will fail at this level and fewer will pass. There will be 335 searches that will go through all of possible positions at all levels, but that only amounts to 

(12 + (3*96)*4 + (4*96)*5) = 3084

I suppose I could track how deep each search goes and perhaps a graph of the averages might give some insight, but I expect it's some kind of exponential curve. Besides, I got my solution, put the puzzle together and shipped it off to my niece. We shall see what she does with it.

Part 1 here.

Toaster Repair


Toaster Innards

Our toaster suffered a malfunction a couple of weeks (months?) ago. One of the arms that lift the bread up after it's done toasting became uneven which made retrieving your toast a little tricky. I was ready to order a new one, but I thought I would see if I could fix it. I mean, I can't break it if it's already broken. I sat down to fix it on Friday, and, surprise, surprise, I was successful. The mechanical lift parts are the flimsiest bits of gimcrack you can imagine, but being as their job is to lift two pieces of bread I don't suppose you need anything stronger. And we have had it for a long time, ten years at least. So, good enough. 

The toaster has all the working bits at one end. The lift arms are cantilevered from a vertical carriage. The problem was that the lift arms are attached to the carriage by little metal tabs less than an eighth of an inch square. These are inserted in slots in the carriage and then twisted to hold them in place. One of the upper tabs had not been twisted enough and had worked loose allowing the arm to droop. So the actual repair was easy enough, it consisted of inserting the wayward tab back into the slot and giving it a twist with a pair of pliers.

Toaster Bits

Getting there, by which I mean getting the cover off, was a bit of a chore. There were six screws in the bottom. Two of them were concealed by little rubber feet that were about a half inch long and shoved into half inch deep holes. The awl on my Swiss Army Knife got them out. Spit got them back in.

There were also two screws securing the power cord. I took them out because I have the machine upside down and I'm taking out screws. They look almost identical to the screws holding the case together, but they are not. Found that out when I am putting them back in and the power code screw won't tighten up. Stupid, over engineered gimcrack.

KitchenAid Toaster

It's a KitchenAid. I don't particularly like it. It's one of these modern safety toasters that won't burn you but takes forever and a day to deliver your toast. Someday I'm going to get one of those oxy-acetylene powered toasters that will serve up your toast in milliseconds.



Changed out the windshield wipers on the cars yesterday and once again I discovered that the generic windshield wiper bought by-the-numbers from the holy book of windshield wiper fitments for the rear glass on the Mitsubishi doesn't. But while I was there remembering that - oh yeah, I've been here before - I spotted this little guy. He has some orange flecks on his legs. I like spiders, generally speaking. They are very capable and not the least annoying, other than causing an occasional freak out by the women-folk.

Diamond Dream

Pink Brown Diamond

Ross & I are watching some PBS drama about merry olde. An upper class victorian dude is at a jeweler's buying a dark brown colored diamond for his beloved. He's picked out the gem (we never actually get a good look at it, it's just a small dot on the screen) and agreed to a price of around $5K (though units are not mentioned either. Could be pounds.) He and the clerk then go through some rigamarole negotiating when it can be delivered (it can't possibly be ready today) and where it is to be delivered (some specific address, presumably his house). All terms satisfactorily completed, dude goes out the door, and as he does he is suddenly struck by the idea that $5K is entirely too much money to pay for a bauble, so he turns and goes back in. He starts to talk to the clerk but is interrupted by a call on his mobile phone. He's talking about stock market trades to someone in his office, a partner or maybe his broker. The transactions they are talking about are like a hundred thousand dollars. I turn to Ross and say something to the effect that he's being kind of a cheapskate and Ross replies 'what do you expect from some upper class twit'? Then I woke up.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Desolation Island by Patrick O'Brian

I finished re-reading Desolation Island by Patrick O'Brian. During an ill-fated cruise to Australia, Jack runs afoul of a Dutch man-of-war, much larger than he is, who sets after him. Discretion being the better part of valor, Jack flees south into an Antarctic storm. Think The Perfect Storm and you have a pretty good idea of the conditions. When a lucky shot of Jack's takes out the Dutchman's foremast, the Dutch ship slews sideways, is capsized by a giant wave and is lost. Boom. Just like that.

I'm thinking that is a hell of an event. Something like that would be a capital subject for a painting, so I go looking for one. 

Loss of HMS Blenheim and HMS Java in a hurricane - Thomas Buttersworth

I didn't find much. Two large British warships, the HMS Blenheim and the HMS Java were lost in a hurricane in the Southern Indian Ocean in 1807. This is closest event I could find to the fictional one in the book. It takes place in the same part of the world, the two ships are of similar size to the ones in the story, and a hurricane sounds similar to the conditions our heroes encounter.

We have one painting of the event (above), but I don't think it portrays the situation very well. I suspect that not many first class painters experienced a hurricane on board a ship.

This scene from Black Sails does a better job.

into the storm | Black Sails 3.01-3.02 storm tribute

After surviving the storm and an encounter with an iceberg, our heroes wind up on Desolation Island where they rest, recover and repair their ship.

Dutch whalers near Spitsbergen - Abraham_Storck, 1690

An American whaler stops by and lends them some assistance. Though this painting is of a place on the other side of the world, I think it gives us a good picture of the situation. Except for the whale. There is no whale in the harbor at Desolation Island.