Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Monday, November 30, 2020

Playing with Numbers

Why do prime numbers make these spirals?

This video is pretty entertaining, at least if you like numbers. The first half is pretty straightforward. The second half where he starts talking about Dirichlet's Theorem (14:48) is a little more esoteric. I know some people are fascinated by infinity, but I am not one of them. It comes in handy for imagining how things will go, but for any kind of concrete answer, it's pretty worthless.

Text R Us

Google Popup Ad

Google, as least I think it's Google, has started posting little popup ads in the upper right corner of the screen. They don't last long, less that second, barely long enough to register and definitely not long enough to do anything about it. I did manage to hit the Print Screen button, which is how we have the image above.

Extortion Spam

Looking for a message, I opened my spam folder and found a demand for a $1,000 in return for a Toobin-esque video purportedly recorded from my computer's camera. Since the only on-line camera I have is in my laptop which seldom sees the light of day, the possibility of someone using it to record any kind of video is doubtful in the extreme. However, the troglodyte who attempted this extortion did have a password I commonly use on such inconsequential sites like Facebook. I've read about hacking passwords to social media accounts and it does seem at least possible, and now faced with my most popular password showing up in this email I am convinced that it can be done.

But the part that I wonder about is why did it get sent to the spam folder? How is an extortionist going to extort any money if the victims don't even know they are being extorted? And how many times have people been embarrassed when these clandestinely recorded videos were shared with their family and friends, which is the threat behind the demand? Perhaps no one cares about pornography anymore? Seems I heard that while prostitution is still illegal, making pornography is not. So all you need is a camera in the corner and you can claim to be a legitimate business. Brave New World, ain't it?

Today's Jumble

As my Chrome browser constantly reminds me, Google will stop supporting Flash at the end of this year. Being as Jumble requires Flash, I am wondering what I am going to do. Will I have to use another browser to play it? Or has Jumble been seduced by the dark side and no longer cares about the desktop world? Jumble is one bright spot I can count on every day, and twice on Sundays. I suppose I could look around for another game, and given my bouts wakefulness every morning at 2am, maybe I should.

feedly is my primary source for news

I am still not paying for subscriptions to any news sites. We are paying the cable company (Ziply) $200 a month, but that is mostly so we can watch NBA basketball and college football. I subscribe to Netflix and YouTube which are a bargain given how much I use them. Yes, YouTube can be free, but the number of ads became irritating.

The problem with news sites, like The New York Times or The Atlantic or The Wall Street Journal, is that while there is occasionally an article I like or enjoy, I am not willing to fork out the bucks each one requires. What we need is a YouTube like website where everyone can post their writing and they will be paid based on the number of people who read it. There seem to be at least a few people making a living by making videos for YouTube.

Yes, getting someone to subscribe to your website is like a guarantee of income in perpetuity, and the more subscribers you have the more clout you have, but I don't like it. Google may not be the most ethical company in the world, but they have opened the playing field to a huge number of people, something these pay-wall protected sites have not done.

Majoxin Portable Computer Notebook USB 2.0/1.1 Mouse Retractable Slim USB Optical Scroll Mouse for Laptop PC Optical Sensor 800dpi - No longer available

My desktop monitor failed the other day and a few days later the mouse gave up the ghost. I replaced both with older ones that hadn't been sent to the scrap heap yet. The monitor is not as big, but it is adequate. The mouse however is wretched. First I tried the travel mouse I use with the laptop, then I tried the new, super compact travel mouse I recently bought because it has an automatic cord winder. Both proved unusable, fine control, essential for playing games, was gone. I finally stole the one from my wife's accounting computer and while it is usable, it is still horrible. I drug one home from my brother's scrap pile but I haven't brought it into the house yet. We shall see if it is any better.

[No picture because I don't want to spend the rest of my life trying to get blogger
 to display some html code. Besides, I've spent enough time on this post.]

Blogger (Google's blog posting system) has a new editor and it seems to have developed by amateurs. I spend more time in html mode fixing stuff than I used to and now it inserts a bunch more html tags that don't seem necessary of even useful, like p and div, and its choice of which to use seems random. I guess if you are inserting useless garbage, it doesn't really matter which flavor you use.

Bella Twin

Bella Twin with the skin of the Grizzly Bear she killed, 1953

She is holding the 22 rifle she used. Ammoland has the story.

Via daily timewaster

Sunday, November 29, 2020

The Queen's Gambit, Part 2, Miscellaneous Notes

The Queen's Gambit

It's a fantasy, much like movies about action heroes, but it's for brainy girls. Since it is fiction, I was more inclined to analyze what the movie makers were doing. Movies 'inspired by actual events' are also mostly fiction, but they at least have the stated purpose of telling you about something that actually happened. Here, we're taking bits and pieces and sticking them together into a very wonderful story, but it made me wonder just what narrative they are trying to sell. Having a lovely young women in the leading role makes it very easy to watch. The nice clothes, the fancy hotels are enjoyable.

The soundtrack is awesome. OK, there are two soundtracks. One was composed specifically for this show and sounds like classical music. The other is a selection of pop hits from the 1960's. That got my attention. Boy, howdy, did they get my attention.

Chess teaches logical thinking. That's wrong, it doesn't teach you, it requires it. Those who can master logical thought can play the game, those who can't, can't.

Logical thought and the threat of annihilation (through modern warfare) led to the development of modern digital computing machinery.

Programming computers requires a great deal of logical thought. Chess is relatively simple, an 8 by 8 checkerboard with 32 pieces of 6 different types. There are a limited number of opening moves, but after that it quickly becomes horribly complicated. Thinking about computer programming, I realized the closest comparison I could make would be with machine code or assembly language. In a simple 8-bit machine like the Intel 8051 microcontroller, you could have 256 different opcodes, operating on a couple of hundred bytes of memory. You could do horribly complicated things with only a few bytes of code.

The bit about drugs and alcohol were a little confusing. I've run into stories about functioning alcoholics before, how they can apparently function perfectly well on a diet consisting of mostly whiskey, and how they can stop drinking without any ill effects any time they choose. Our girl goes through periods of drinking and abstaining. Of course this is just another story. I haven't come across any information that supports such ability.

Tranquilizers seem like exactly the wrong kind of drug to support complex logical analysis, but who knows. Maybe for the right person with right mind, it would help.

Part 1 here.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Arecibo Damage


Arecibo Damage, SkySat image August 10, 2020
Click to embiggenate. That should make the damage apparent.

I've heard that the Arecibo Radio Telescope was being shut down, but now we've got a picture and an explanation.

The Arecibo Observatory has been shut down after a structural cable failed, punching a 100-foot-long gash in the dish. - PlanetLabs

Via The Unwanted Blog

Boys & Girls Skating

Warpaint - Disco//Very - Keep It Healthy (Official Video)

I don't how to describe the tune, it's not rock and roll, perhaps a little reminiscent of plain chant. In any case I like it. The boys start skating at the 4 minute mark.

Chet Faker - Gold (Official Music Video)

Boys and girls have very different styles. I remember when my daughter was on the high school dance team and they would go to competitions. Each team consisted of two or three dozen girls and when they came onto the floor they would all be holding hands in a long chain.

Oregon Football Civil War Game

Oregon Ducks vs. Oregon State Beavers | 2020 College Football Highlights
ESPN College Football

The Civil War is an annual football game played between The University of Oregon Ducks from Eugene and the Oregon State Beavers from Corvallis. 

I caught the last few minutes of this game. It was a bit of a nail biter. Oregon State was inches away from the goal line. We had flags, timeouts and clock adjustments. The clock was under one minute. I don't think I've ever seen this much action over such a small area that consumed so little of the game clock. The Beavers make one attempt to score. They fail and their quarterback is injured. They bring in their backup quarterback, a sophomore, and this time (8:53) they manage to score which puts them ahead. Now the Ducks have something like 30 seconds left to answer. They make a valiant attempt, but it fails and they run out of time.

Friday, November 27, 2020


SpaceX Starship: Launch Confirmed!
What about it?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. SpaceX might actually launch SN8 (Startship prototype Number 8) this week.

Acronym of the day: RUD - Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly, in other words a catastrophic explosion.

We pray that such event does not happen when SN8 finally launches, but if it does, the launch will still be something to celebrate. Nobody else has gotten so far in the space exploration game. And we won't even mention how little it cost to get here, relatively speaking. It only took a few months to build one prototype, it will certainly not take any longer to build another one and I think we can be confident that regardless of what happens with this flight, there will be another one.

The video opens with some excellent aerial footage of SpaceX's facility in Boca Chica. There is water nearby which makes me think stuff could be shipped in by boat. Brownsville is a deep water port and there is a ship channel that leads from the coast right into the city. The channel is about two miles from the launch site. I don't imagine they will need to bring big ships right up to their site. Barges could bring everything they need and barges don't need deep water like ocean going ships do.

Around the 5:30 minute mark he's talking about the fins and I realize that this is very big test. SpaceX has launched dozens of rockets and they seem to have the hover-slam-landing down to a science. It's pretty obvious that they know what they are doing. But. This whole business of using flaps to control the attitude of the ship is something no one has tried before, and certainly not with such a large test vehicle.  I imagine that the designers ran a bunch of simulations on their computer systems that convinced them that this would work, and when they were convinced they told Elon, and Elon looked at them and saw that they were convinced, and that combined with his knowledge of the character and abilities of these people persuaded him to okay the project. If this flight succeeds, computer simulations will deserve a big gold star.

I'm watching this video and our host Felix Schlang is going over "the 4 essential elements that make the SpaceX Starship program possible". The 2nd point is whether rocket fuel can be produced at the destination. I'm watching this video and (around the 6:50 mark) he's comparing rocket fuels and he tells us Kerosene can't be produced on Mars because it has no oil. Well, there are no proven oil reserves on Mars which isn't surprising since no one has been there, much less looking for oil. We start going to Mars on a regular basis and you can bet oil companies are going to there, looking for oil. Yeah, yeah, I know, no life, no dinosaurs so there should be no oil. But! Maybe you don't need dinosaurs to make oil. Aren't the scientists telling us that once upon a time Mars had an atmosphere and water? Okay, it was a zillion years ago, but life could have evolved, dinosaurs could have lived and died and piled up to enormous depths that were then covered over by shifting sands. Or maybe oil is just a natural result of large deposits of carbon, maybe you don't need dinosaurs or any form of life.

Actually it doesn't matter. If there is carbon in Earth's crust, it stands to reason that there is carbon in Mar's crust, and if there's carbon any half-decent chemist, equipped with a multi-million dollar hydrocarbon synthesizer should be able to pump out kerosene by the barrel. Okay, that's all foolish, wishful thinking, but it's the kind of thing that keeps me amused. Methane is a much more realistic choice.

I'm watching this video and I'm thinking that these guys, whoever they are, have put a lot of work into making that video. It's nice that Felix thanks them (around the 13 minute mark).

Silver Spaceships


Moon Landing - Chesley Bonestell

I can't tell you how happy I am that SpaceX is confirming the status of those old spaceship artists as prophets.

Via view from the porch

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The Red Sea

Agrari oil tanker

There was some kind of incident involving an oil tanker on the Red Sea recently. It sounds like there was a small explosion. Some people are accusing Yemeni rebels of planting a bomb.

I'm looking at this and I'm wondering what an oil tanker is doing tied to the shore in the Red Sea. Sure, oil tankers pass up and down the Red Sea all the time going between the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, but I haven't heard of a great deal of oil production in the area. (I did some checking and while there are a few oil rigs in the Red Sea, there are ten times as many in the Persian Gulf, which is on the other side of the Arabian peninsula.)

Shuqaiq 2 IWPP

It seems that the tanker, rather than taking on a load of oil was delivering a load to a facility that generates electrical power and desalinates water for a couple of other cities in Saudi Arabia - Abha and Jizan.

I just finished reading Treason's Harbor by Patrick O'Brian. The story describes a mission to attack a French fort located along the Red Sea. The description of the conditions they encounter makes it sound like one of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Soaring temperatures with humidity being either very high or very low. When it is very high, it is stifling, but when a desert wind blows in and the humidity suddenly drops, now the wind is sucking the water right out of your body.

Shuqaiq, Abha & Jizan Saudi Arabia
Looking due North

Shuqaiq and Jizan are at sea level on the coast and get the full brunt of the harsh weather. Abha is up in the mountains at an elevation of 7,500 feet, which is a half mile farther up than Denver and the climate is much more pleasant. Not suprisingly, Abha has seven times as many people as Jizan.

Looming Disaster, or Same Shit, Different Day?

The Grateful Dead - Casey Jones (Studio Version)

I don't understand what is going on. Is there a cabal of evil motherfuckers conspiring to ruin the economy and our country, or is the government run by idiots? As I've said before, the COVID-19 inspired lockdowns are bullshit. I thought about digging into the numbers, but I can't compete against the tsunami of bullshit emanating from the main stream media. The innumerate masses are thoroughly convinced that they should be well and truly terrified and nothing I say is going to sway them. I will give you one word if you are harboring doubts: Sweden.

Political leaders are the most amorphous of creatures. They really do get pushed around by the prevailing winds, and sometimes those winds blow them away. You can't really fault them for whatever happens, it's all the huffing and puffing of the masses of people who like to argue about politics. (I suspect it is less than 10% of the population. The rest of us have better things to do.)

Business leaders are no better, profit is their standard. If they are making money they must be doing something right, if they are not making money they are doing something wrong.

The extremely stupid lockdowns are having a bad effect on some portions of the economy. Oh, the stock market is booming, but that is just the natural reaction to the inflation caused by dumping trillions of dollars into the economy. Compare the S&P 500 to the price of gold and I suspect you will find it hasn't changed one whit. A pound of steel is still a pound of steel and a pound of bread is still a pound of bread.

But retail and restaurants in particular are getting hit extremely hard by the lockdowns. Not only have umpteen zillion people been put of out work, but many of these businesses aren't paying the rent on their place of business. Landlords who are not collecting rent and don't already own the buildings outright are not going to be able to pay their mortgage. Lenders who aren't getting their due are liable to evict the tenants, but then who are they going to sell the building to? The homeless? This smells like the housing bubble that burst when, 12 years ago? Oh yeah, don't forget all the people who are out of work and are not going to be able to pay the rent on their homes. The same thing is going to happen there.

You can't really blame the media either. They are first and foremost a business. Yes, they like to dress themselves up as providing us with information, but unless they make money they aren't going to do diddly squat. Their business is providing eyeballs for the advertising that other businesses pay for, and nothing gets more eyeballs than terror and disaster. It doesn't really matter what happened today, reporters will spin it as the gawd-awfullest event of the century, and if you aren't terrified you are a fool.

Of course most of the media is now in the hands of few gazillionaires like Rupert Murdoch and Jeff Bezos, and whatever media they control is going to be spewing whatever the boss man tells them to spew. Now you might think that people with that much power might exercise some restraint, after all, with great power comes great responsibility, but they are not gods, they are just businessmen and businessmen are guided by profit. And in these days of increasing inflation, your profit needs to be even greater. If inflation is running at 10% and you are only making 5% profit you are losing money and in short order your entire empire will collapse.

There is one stinker that I am very suspicious of and that is the vaccines that are being developed to fight this virus. If this virus is like the flu, then by the time we have a vaccine, the virus will have mutated and vaccine will be useless. Useless at preventing infection that is, perfectly useful for making money for the vaccine makers. If they can get the government to make a vaccination mandatory and they can get the government to pay for it, they will have an unending fire hose of money coming their way.

The only thing I am sure of is that people are angry and angry people like to fight. Witness the riots we had all summer long. Cooler weather seems to have damped that but violent crime seems to be on the rise.

I'm not sure where we are heading, but it doesn't look good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Rebecca | Official Trailer | Netflix

Terrible movie. Full of nasty, stupid people keeping nasty, stupid secrets. It was kind of cool seeing how the rich got on in Monte Carlo in 1935, and seeing how big a large English estate could be, but that is about all you could say for it. The lead actress was tolerable, she wasn't bringing any baggage with her like the rest of the lunatics in the cast.

You would think they could come up with a better murder / suicide conundrum. The one here was very weak and depended almost entirely on the inspector's speech at the inquest. Feeble.


Lifeboats being ejected from the Fhloston Paradise cruise ship

Stu left a comment on my post about the Kobayashi Maru which got me thinking about lifeboats on spaceships. The idea of lifeboats on spaceships has been around as long as people have been imagining giant spaceships. The Fhloston Paradise from The Fifth Element is a 'recent' example.

Small boat in rough water - A. Morton

Lifeboats on spaceships in deep space are only useful if there is any hope of another ship being able to reach them in time before their life support gives out. In the days of sailing ships, any boat carried on a ship would be equipped with a mast and sails and would be able to sail on to a distant shore.

The Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria

I'm imagining any ship capable of a deep space voyage would have a massive propulsion system. Any lifeboats it could carry could not. If a lifeboat had a propulsion system big enough to enable it to reach a safe haven, it would be as big as the original ship. Perhaps when we start sending manned ships into deep space, we should send them in groups, kind of like the Nina, Pinta and the Santa Maria. That way if disaster befalls one, the other ships in the convoy could be a safe haven for the survivors. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Kobayashi Maru


Kobayashi Maru

Star Trek fans will recognize the name Kobayashi Maru as the name of a Starfleet training exercise. Just goes to show that Star Trek fans come in all flavors including shipping tycoons.

Via dad's deadpool blog

Saturday, November 21, 2020

The Queen's Gambit

The Queen's Gambit Limited Series Trailer | Rotten Tomatoes TV
Rotten Tomatoes TV

We started watching this mini-series this evening. It's pretty great. 
The Queen's Gambit is a fictional story that follows the life of an orphan chess prodigy, Beth Harmon, during her quest to become the world's greatest chess player while struggling with emotional problems and drug and alcohol dependency. - Wikipedia
There have been a few female chess champions, but not many. I don't know what makes this show so great, might just be because it is well told tale. There is always an undercurrent of tension, you get the feeling that something very bad could happen at any time. Nothing ever does (or least not yet, other than the opening incident, which is bad enough), but the potential is always there, or maybe I'm just paranoid. Or maybe I've watched too many thrillers that have same undercurrent of tension and then bad things do happen.

The film uses an imaginary chess board projected on the ceiling with the chess pieces hanging upside down to represent what is going on in the girl's mind. I have built models in my mind of some of the data structures I needed for computer programs I've written. Most data structures can be easily drawn on paper, they aren't too complicated, but you start shifting things around and it can quickly get very complicated. Individual actions can be easily drawn out on paper, but after a certain point you become familiar enough with what needs to be done that it's quicker and easier to do it in your head than to draw out all of the various actions on paper.

I've played a few games of chess but I never got the bug to pursue it. It's a lot of work for not much reward. If you're good, you can claim to be good, but that and a dollar will get you a cup of coffee at McDonald's. There is good money if you are really good, but that's kind of like being a professional athlete. There are a few people who make a bundle of money, but there are legions of people who were almost good enough. You have to be obsessed to pursue success fighting those kind of odds. I'm not that obsessed. That might be why I went into computer programming.

Update January 2022 replaced missing video. The missing video was from Netflix. Why would they pull a trailer?

Adventures in Mechanista, Siberian Edition


Ladzilla by Garage 54
Yes, that's a turbocharger growing out of the top of the engine.

These guys have a bunch of videos up on YouTube where they record their very silly mechanical experiments. If you have ever wondered what would happen if, for instance, you added a second engine to your car, this is where you need to go.

Ladzilla is a project they've been working on for a while. In most every episode the guys will do something so ridiculous that it makes me laugh out loud.

Garage 54 is in Novosibirsk in southwestern Siberia. It is the third-most populous city in Russia (after Moscow and St. Petersburg). It was founded in 1893 on the Ob River crossing point of the future Trans-Siberian Railway.

Previous Garage 54 post.

Via Bustednuckles

Friday, November 20, 2020

Gas Piping

Since we are replacing the kitchen in the new house, I decided to replace the all electric range with a gas cooktop and I also decided to replace one of the wood burning fireplaces with a gas fireplace. To do this I need to run some new pipes to supply these devices with gas. I was originally going to hire a contractor, but that would require making phone calls, talking to people, scheduling the work and forking out a large sum of money. I've worked with iron pipe before, and I have a talented second, so we just decided to do it ourselves.

The big problem with iron pipe is if you need a piece of a specific length. Building supply houses like Lowe's and Home Depot carry pipe in a variety of lengths ranging from one inch to ten feet. You can use couplings to piece together a combination of these pieces to make any length you desire. The downside is you end up with more joints, joints that have to sealed, tightened and inspected. Plus a bunch of joints in a short length of pipe looks 'unprofessional', not that anyone is every going to see it.

Ridgid Exposed Ratchet Threader Set

My first thought was that this was an opportunity to invest in a set of Ridgid pipe threading tools. They are kind of expensive, something around a thousand dollars, but if you want to get the job done without a lot of screwing around, good tools are essential. The downside is that this is probably the only project I will need them for, and then I would have to fool around with getting rid of them. They are too expensive to just throw away, so that means selling them: placing an ad, answering calls, more dealing with people.

Rothenberger Pipe Threading Machine

Then it occurred to me that there is probably a service that will cut and thread pipe for you, and what do you know, both Lowe's and Home Depot offer free pipe cutting and threading. It means a couple of hours of my time driving across town, tracking down the big box store's pipe guy and waiting while he cuts the pipe, but with my back problems I'm not good for much else. I can still drive and I can hobble the quarter mile from the car to the depths of the big box store where the pipe threading machine resides.

I stopped by Lowe's in Hillsboro the other day and found that their pipe threading machine is out of order. Now what? I am not going to Home Depot, the last time I was there, there was a long line of people waiting to get in because of the stupid COVID-19 restrictions. Haven't run into that at Lowe's, which makes me happy. Okay, maybe not happy, I still have to wear a stupid mask, so let's say just not too disgruntled.

I could call one of the other Lowe's (there are three of them, all about 20 miles away), but calls to any kind of big operation is kind of crap shoot as to whether you will get any kind of useful response. Yesterday for instance I called NW Natural (the gas company) three times. The first time I slogged through their robo-cop menu and after about a five minute wait I got connected to a woman who dealt with my issue quickly and competently. The second time I was on hold for 20 minutes and got disconnected. The third time I knew the codes and so was able to bypass robo-cop and got connected almost immediately. Like I said, a crap shoot.

Anyway, I decided to try a professional pipe supply company. Got connected to someone almost immediately and explained what I wanted. Told me he would get a quote made and email it to me. Haven't heard back yet and that was two days ago.

Free Pipe Cutting and Threading Video

So I drove to Tigard, hobbled into Lowe's, found an employee and sent them off to find the pipe cutting guy. It only took about five minutes for him to show up, just long enough that I was starting to wish for a chair. Now we look at my list of pipes I want cut. Turns out most of them are below their minimum length of two feet, so I only got two pipes cut. With their fancy pipe cutting machine it only took a couple of minutes and there was no charge. Hard to beat that.

Old Gas Meter

The gas company came out and changed out the gas meter for a larger one. We need it to supply all the new doo-dads. We needed to hook up the furnace so they could verify that the meter was working properly, so we did. It's nice that the furnace is working now, it's been a bit chilly here the last couple of days.

Of course, when we hooked up the furnace it didn't kick on immediately. It had power and now it has gas again, what could be the problem? Near as I can tell, when we turned off the gas the house cooled down, the thermostat said 'more heat', the furnace began it's start up procedure, but because there was no gas, it didn't fire up, which caused it to shut down and set a fault code (the little blinking LED on the control board).  Cycling the power was enough to clear the fault and get it going. The start up procedure is kind of interesting.

Mercury Pipe Threader

When I lived in Houston I had a job fixing machinery and one of the machines I was often called on to repair was a Mercury pipe threading machine. This was about 50 years ago. Iron pipe had been a mainstay for water lines but was being replaced by copper pipe. Mercury had been a going business but was now fading fast. Our biggest customer was a plumbing company that specialized in automatic fire extinguisher systems, which still use iron pipe. They are tiny portion of the plumbing business.

Pic of the Day


DEHAVILLAND DH115 VAMPIRE N23105 flying by the USCGC Shearwater during a hazy 2019 Atlantic City Air ShowKen Licwinko

The de Havilland Vampire first flew in 1946. The USCGC Shearwater is a Marine Protector-class patrol boat. The Vampire is tiny compared to modern jet fighters - it is only 30 feet long. The Shearwater is nearly 90 feet long.

Via FlightAware

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Iran's Ballistic Missile Magazine

Exclusive | A barrage ballistic missile launcher platform unveils
IMA Media • ایما مدیا

I just love Iranian propaganda, which is exactly what this video is. Iran has managed to hold onto a cadre of engineers and rocket scientists and if they were left to do their job, they could no doubt produce some formidable weapons. But Iran is an authoritarian regime, and as we all should know, that kind of environment promotes stupidity. So while they can produce an impressive stage setting for their fearsome weapons, it is extremely unlikely they would be able to launch more that one without some sort of catastrophe, and even more unlikely they would be able to hit their target.

And I'm not sure just what having a trainload of ballistic missiles buys them. Yes, they are all standing straight up in the launch position, but anything nearby, shoot anything in the same tunnel complex, would be roasted if they launched one. Rockets don't like being roasted, so all the other rockets in that train would explode. As presented it just doesn't make any sense. You would either need a separate cavern sealed off with blast proof doors and provided with Allah's own ventilation tunnels, or you would need to lift the rocket to the surface, which kind of defeats this whole 'magazine train' idea. But maybe I shouldn't mention it. You don't want to interrupt your opponent when he is in middle of making a big mistake.

Iran is like the hothead who is constant hollering about how he is going to kick your ass, but if you ever confront him he runs off and hides. All their bluster is just to impress the peasants in their own country. No one else should pay them any mind.

But you know, if an idiot is waving a gun around and threatening to shoot you, I am pretty sure you are justified in punching him in the nose, so I wouldn't blame Israel if they dropped a bomb right down a silo into the bunker.

Previous posts about Iranian missiles here and here.

Saturday, November 14, 2020


Here we have a few words of wisdom extracted from A Century of Prices (1919) by Theodore Burton and George Selden:

“At low prices, stocks are mostly in the hands of courageous, outright investors, who cannot easily be frightened into selling. As prices rise, more and more stocks pass into the hands of buyers for profit only. The higher quotations go, the more the public comes into the market…

Buyers at higher prices are necessarily of a weaker class – weaker in judgement and therefore weaker in resources – than buyers at lower prices…

Eventually these weak speculative holders have bought all they want, or some of them become discouraged, or some unfavorable event dampens their ardor. They then begin to sell out on each other – since prices are too high to attract genuine investors for income.

For such a situation there is no cure except a decline to a level which will attract the stronger class of buyer…"

Via Tyler Durden at ZeroHedge and Nicholas Colas of DataTrek Research (registration required).

Friday, November 13, 2020

On My Mind

Several things have been ticking over in my mind, but between my lower energy level, and my everyday obligations (which includes an hour of reading and 2 or 3 hours of Behzat Ç.), I haven't put up any posts, so I thought I'd just go over them briefly.

Radiation in deep space is a real problem. Spaceships in science fiction always seem to have big windows that offer a spectacular view of the stars. I'm thinking spaceships destined for long term voyages, like years, would need to be like a ball made of concrete or steel and would certainly have no windows. There would cameras on the outside and video screens on the inside, but no windows. Criminently you say, what's the point of going way out there if you can't actually look at anything? If we wanted to see digital reproductions of the universe, we could just have stayed home and sent robots to take pictures for us.

Well, we could, except for the time delay. If you want to actually do anything out there, like, say, pick up a rock, it's better to be Johnny-on-the-spot. You should be able to exert adequate control over anything within a thousand miles. Hmm, a thousand miles is going to take about five milliseconds, round trip will take 10. Turn that into Hertz and we get a low pitched hum. Electrical equipment hums at 60 Hz. Seems like there are some doctors who are performing surgery remotely. I wonder what the delay time is on live internet video.

Okay, you could probably teach a robot to pick up a rock, but it's going to be a while before a robot can do everything a person can do, and even when that happens, there are still going to be people who want to go out there and do it for themselves, even if they are only doing it through digitally controlled Waldos.

Most of what we know we acquired by instinct. Walking, talking, listening are all things we all learn how to do before we can even begin any formal education. Somewhere in those first dozen years we pick on social behavior, how much pushing, shoving and yelling is required (stand up for your rights) and how much is too much (or you might be arrested by the police). We learn to identify emotions in other people. We learn to identify people, but that might be hard wired into the brain, maybe no learning is required. Yes, you need to see someone at least once to be able to recognize them again, but I don't think any learning is needed. It's just something you are born with.

All this readin', writin' & rithmetic are just icing on the cake. On some cakes the icing adheres well and can be piled to prodigious depths. On others it just slides right off and none of it ever sticks.

Why are pastors known as shepherds and their parishioners known as sheep? Because most of his flock are as dumb as sheep. Readin', writin' & rightmetic may as well be a foreign tongue. Silicon Greybeard was talking about people not being numerate, which is like literate except with numbers.

In their day, pastor's were essential to keeping society well ordered and on an even keel. Religious gatherings have been going on for so long I wouldn't be surprised if it was in our DNA.

Is the time of pastor's over? Despite all the mayhem loose in the world, I think pastor's are still a force for good in our society.

I'm trying to stop thinking about the election. It's not going to make any real difference who wins. All politics is just a big circus designed to keep us distracted while the king monkeys steal all the monkey biscuits.

Some people are hollering about fraud. Given that everything is being done by people, I am sure there was some fraud somewhere. Whether there was enough to sway the election doesn't matter. What matter's is whether the various state justice departments decide to investigate, what they find, and how vigorously they prosecute any cases that come to light. All this vague, national agonizing doesn't matter a whit.

Money for nothin' is great (unemployment checks, welfare checks, stimulus checks), but what we really need is something to do. People with no resources and nothing to do are going to find something to do and it will probably be destructive. Yes, there are some people who are just going to be ornery and contrary no matter what you do, but there are a good number of people who just need someone to follow. Maybe he'll lead us to greener pastures. Or maybe he'll lead us to hell. 

The COVID-19 lockdown is bullshit. The longer it goes on, the more destruction you are going to see.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Inconsequential Coincidences


The other night, daring daughter decided we should start playing some games so we did and we started with Rummikub. Later that evening, my wife and were watching episode nine zillion of Behzat Ç., and what happens? The murder squad, who have never shown any interest in playing any games, are playing Rummikub.

When we first started watching Behzat Ç., bloody wounds were pixelated. Now the censorship has been extended to alcohol and drugs. It's kind of weird to have beer bottles getting pixelated. Of course, it's kind of weird that there is so much drinking going on in a predominately Muslim country.

Behzat's brother, Sevket, is an annoying chatterbox. Whenever he shows up, his standard schtick is talk about talking. He can go on endlessly. Behzat usually cuts the conversation short by telling him to fuck off, not that it does any good, he just keeps babbling.

But tonight Behzat is watching a soccer game. Sevket appears, wanting another long winded conversation about having a conversation and Behzat tells him to shut up, and miracle of miracles, he does. Well, at least till the game is over.

I'm reading Treason's Harbor by Patrick O'Brian and round about page 67 Stephen is telling Jack about his new diving bell:

People take their sports very seriously, almost as seriously as warfare. I should not be surprised since sports is basically our civilized stand-in for warfare.

Quote of the Day

Clever banter can only be called “repartee” if it’s from the Repartée region of France. Otherwise it’s just sparkling wit. - Dan Hannan
Via Brian Micklethwait's New Blog

The Fighting Temeraire

The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838 - J. M. W. Turner

Tam mentions the The Fighting Temeraire, I'd never heard of it so I follow the link and find this little bit:

The Fighting Temeraire, tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838 is an oil painting by the English artist Joseph Mallord William Turner, painted in 1838 and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1839.

The painting depicts the 98-gun HMS Temeraire, one of the last second-rate ships of the line to have played a role in the Battle of Trafalgar, being towed up the Thames by a paddle-wheel steam tug in 1838, towards its final berth in Rotherhithe to be broken up for scrap.

The painting hangs in the National Gallery, London, having been bequeathed to the nation by the artist in 1851. In a poll organised by BBC Radio 4's Today programme in 2005, it was voted the nation's favourite painting. In 2020 it was included on the new £20 note.

The Battle of Trafalgar is one of the high points of the British Royal Navy's war with Napoleon and as such, it is a touchstone for all the Royal Navy officers appearing in Patrick O'Brian's epic saga. I have just started volume 9, Treason's Harbor.

I was surprised to see a steamship in operation that early, perhaps because I don't have a landmark date for when steamships became common. Maybe there isn't any specific date, maybe the best we can say is that all through the 19th Century, steam was slowly supplanting sail and it wasn't until maybe WW1 that it was the dominant method of propelling ships.

I am surprised that this painting is held in such high regard. It doesn't do much for me. Maybe it looks better in person.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Tweet Me


Left to Right: Rudolph Giuliani, Donald Trump, Michael Bloomberg, Bill Clinton, former Yankees Manager Joe Torre and Billy Crystal, 2008

I had a vision of Donald and his buddies playing golf, and Donald is Tweeting on his smart phone. His buddies are impressed by his technical acumen and tell him he should run for President. And that's how it happened. I mean, nobody really wants the job. It's pretty thankless. 

First Penguin into the Water

How the big shots determine who is going to run is like penguins on the edge of an ice floe, they all creep up to the edge, pushing and jostling and eventually someone falls in.

Armenia - Azerbaijan Conflict

Azerbaijan and Armenia, arch-enemies in the Caucasus, have been locked for decades in a territorial dispute over Armenia-occupied Karabakh. (TRTWorld)
Area shown is approximately 500 miles across

I've been hearing about this conflict for a while now. What we have is neighbors setting up camp in each other's back yards, and nobody is happy about it. Part of Azerbaijan is cut off from the rest of the country by Armenia. The conflict is still in the news, so I went looking for map that illustrated this problem. This one that shows it is even more twisted than originally described.

Notice that this region is pinned between three relatively powerful countries: Russia, Turkey and Iran. Baku was the original oil boom town. It's still a big player in the oil business.

The Nobel Brothers' oil wells in Balakhani, a suburb of Baku, circa 1890.

The Nobel Brothers are Nobel Prize Alfred's brothers.

Inflation Versus Stock Market

S & P 500 versus Federal Debt

It's been my contention that the rate of inflation reflects the amount of debt the US Federal Government is carrying. Recently it occurred to me that the continuing rise in the stock market is tied to the rate of inflation and so also to the federal debt. The stock market in general represents things of real value, which generally means useful things, things which can be used to produce other stuff, stuff that people are willing to pay for. Money is ephemeral, it is only useful if it can be used to purchase useful stuff. When money becomes worth less, it takes more to buy stuff.

The great rise in the stock market (as represented by Standard & Poor's 500 in the above chart) is not because American industry is becoming more productive, or more profitable, it is simply the reaction of people to the inflation caused by the federal government's borrowing. Housing prices are doing the same thing, for the same reason.

If you can't afford to buy a house and you don't trust the stock market, gold in the form of one ounce coins is not a bad place to put your savings. However, beware, gold's value is also subject to irrational price swings, so don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Saturday, November 7, 2020

High Fashion

Tesla Is Now Selling $250 Bottles Of Tequila

Seems Elon has found another way to separate rich folks from their money. Some things I will never understand.


Wire-wrap Tool

Sorting through piles of old junk, dutiful daughter pulls out this wire-wrap tool. Wire-wrap is a technique to construct electrical circuits. It was fairly common in 1980's. It was quick and easy and didn't require soldering. I didn't use it much, but there was one instance that stood out.

Back around 1980, Intel Corporation started building RAM disks for IBM mainframe computers. They set up their production facility in Deer Valley, a suburb on the north edge of Phoenix, Arizona. I got a job there in 1985 supporting Intel's real-time operating system for their 8086 microprocessor.

1984 VAX Assembly

By 1985, the RAM disk business was dying and the RAM disk crew was casting around for something new and they hit on the idea of making an IBM channel to Ethernet adapter. One of their first installations was at a bank in San Francisco where it was going to bridge the gap between their mainframe and a DEC VAX machine. Connecting to the VAX meant installing an Ethernet card and that required installing a wire-wrap jumper between two pins (out of several hundred) on the card cage backplane.

I was elected to install that jumper, so I went out and bought a suit. This was my first trip out into the field. I wasn't in the habit of wearing suits, and since there seemed be a great deal resting on this installation, I thought it might be a good idea to show up looking like I was a professional, or serious, or something. I'd read an article about suits in Playboy, and so I thought I knew what I was doing. Probably bought it at J.C. Penny.

Flew out to San Francisco, spent some time in the computer room with a couple of other technical guys. The IBM mainframe was the size of a locomotive, or so it seemed. The bank's computer guy stopped the mainframe while we hooked up the channel adapter. Stopped it in it's tracks. After we had made the connections, he flipped the switch and the IBM system resumed execution on the next instruction. No shutting down and rebooting, just stop and then resume.

We're out in the hall and a bigwig comes by to say hello. He was a big guy, but what made him big was the suit. I had never seen such a suit. My own suit paled in comparison. I cannot tell you why I felt that way. I mean an impartial observer would have said you have some guys wearing suits. I think there must have been some subconscious social conditioning at work. It was just the weirdest experience.

The Nation Continues To Creep Left

Introduction from The Election Was a Tie. Now What? on Mises Institute by Ryan McMaken

Election Day 2020 finally arrived, and it looks like it’s going to be a long process before the official winner is finally determined. There will be lawsuits over which ballots will be counted. Both sides will be accused of fraud and of other misdeeds. In the real world, there is always a gray area as to which votes are legit, and which are not. Determining the winners in elections is not a simple matter of just counting every vote. Very close votes are effectively tie votes. 

And when it comes down to it, the final outcome will depend on thin margins in several states, and there will be doubts about the honesty of the count in each case.

But no matter what happens, Congress will have to certify and make a final determination as to who received the win in the electoral college. It is quite possible that only then will there be a known and settled winner.

Via Tyler Durden on ZeroHedge

Gladitorial Combat

Pollice Verso, an 1872 painting by Jean-Léon Gérôme

If we avert our eyes from the electoral battle on the blood-soaked sand of the Coliseum and look behind the screen, we find the powers that matter are not elected: our [owned by a few big banks] Federal Reserve, run by a handful of technocrats, and the immense National Security State, a.k.a. the Permanent Government. These entities operate the Empire which hosts the electoral games for the entertainment and distraction of the public. - Charles Hugh Smith

Via ZeroHedge by Tyler Durden