Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Velocifire VM01 Keyboard

Velocifire VM01 Mechanical Keyboard

On a whim I finally decided to buy an illuminated keyboard. It cost about $40. There are other ones out there for about half that amount. The question I had, and which only this one answered satisfactorily is whether the symbols on the keys were illuminated or not. I mean that is what I would expect, but you could just put lights under regular opaque keys and you could have a cool visual effect, but you wouldn't be able to actually identify the keys. On the one the symbols on the keys are illuminated so you can walk up to it in a dark room and see the H key.

A good touch typist shouldn't need any illumination, but I am not. I mostly touch type, but there's sometimes, like with punctuation, where my fingers don't know where the key is. This keyboard is a little weak in that area, especially with the number keys. The symbols on those keys are about half the size of the letter keys, and yes there are two symbols on every key, but those two symbols take up about one-third of the space on the key top. They could have made them much larger. I can make out the symbols if I squint.

As for the feel, it's different than the $10 keyboards I am used to ($3 used).

I picked this one because it was recommended in the one review I read and it didn't cost a zillion dollars. I didn't spend a lot of time looking around. I wish I knew whether the cheaper ones illuminated the symbols or not. They would probably feel more like the Dell keyboards I am used to.


Cowin E7 Pro Headphones

I asked for headphones for Christmas and Santa delivered. I wanted them for when I am watching sports with my wife. She's the enthusiast, not me, and she likes to listen to the announcers. Some of the announcers are okay, but some of them just grate on me, so headphones. I hadn't broken them out till today because, well, not that many games, but today I am filling my pill minders for the week (Eleven different pills. Geez.) and I decided I wanted to listen to some tunes while working on this bit of tediousness, but dutiful daughter is asleep as she's working the nightshift these days, so headphones. They work well. Connects to my smart phone using Bluetooth which only took a small amount of fiddling to get working. Batteries are supposed to be good for 30 hours, 20 if the noise canceling feature is turned on. Haven't had to use that yet. Testing the Bluetooth connection, I left the phone in the basement and went upstairs and it continued to play just fine.


Airliners parked at Grant County International Airport

What makes this photo special is Grant County International Airport is a former SAC airbase in Moses Lake Washington. We've been there before.


Did We Just Discover More 'Oumuamua Type Objects?

Rocketing off to explore strange new rocks is like the basis for half the science fiction stories out there. We are making progress, but we still have a long way to go. A rocket to catch an Oumuamua-like object (the next time one comes by) and carrying a human crew would need to be the size of the Titanic and use nuclear propulsion. Rocket that big would best be built in orbit around the moon.

On a sort of related note, Joseph Moore has a post up about writing science fiction. I didn't know that he wrote science fiction. I've just been reading his blog posts.

Update a couple hours later, I just came across another post about writing fiction. I sometimes toy with the idea of writing a book, but all I have is a setting, which is like the least important part.

Thursday, January 28, 2021


New Inventions That Will Take Your Bike To Another Level
Quantum Tech HD

This video is full of clever designs. They are, according to your view, either cool, crazy, wacky, useful or foolish. They are pretty much all designed and targeted at bicycle maniacs, people for whom the bicycle is the be all and end all, or people with a passing interest in bicycles and money to burn. We don't know whether any of them will be successful enough to support a business, but it shows that there are a bunch of people out there trying new stuff. And bicycles are just one the facet of this phenomena. All kinds of people are trying all kinds of new designs for all kinds of tasks.

There seem to be a zillion people busy inventing new things, but I suspect they make up less than 1% of the worldwide population. People's talents seem to fall into several distinct areas. They may be good at:
  • speaking
  • writing
  • drawing
  • working with things
  • athletics
To really make an impact, you need all of these which usually means working with other people. And then there is thinking. But thinking by itself isn't much good. Only if you can apply it to the real world will it make any difference to anyone else. You can certainly spend a good deal of time in your head making yourself happy or miserable.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Nowhere Man

The Man from Nowhere, trailer USA (HD)
Cinema ad hoc

A grisly Korean crime thriller from 2010. Not only do we have your usual drug smugglers but we also have organ harvesters. Our hero was a special forces kind of guy until his wife got killed in a hit that was supposed to take him out as well. He survived and has become a bit of a recluse. His only 'friend' is a little girl, daughter of a single mother who works as a dancer in a nightclub. Mom sees an opportunity to make some quick money and we know how drug dealers hate getting ripped off so things go to hell pretty quickly.

The are Chinatowns in Korea (who'd a thunk it?). The drug dealers need translators. The Chinese mafia use little kids to transport drugs around town.

We saw this movie once before a long time ago. I sort of remembered bits and pieces, but most of it was all new.

AVclub has a synopsis.

Amazon  2 hours, in Korean with subtitles in English.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Radium Girls

Radium Girls Trailer #1 (2020) | Movieclips Indie
Movieclips Indie

Radium was used to make luminous paint for watch and clock dials from around 1920 until the 1960's. There is such a small amount of radium on a watch dial that the danger from radiation is negligible, but if you ingest it, that's a whole nother matter, and that's what this girls were doing by pointing their tiny paint brushes with their lips. A microgram a hundred times a day, 300 days a year adds up, and that's what got the radium girls.

It's not a bad little film, we get a variety of characters and viewpoints. We have a little bit of medicine, business and law. We also have some protestors and some communists, though to be fair I don't think anyone back then knew how communism would turn out.

I am almost certain I saw another film about this same event maybe 10 years ago but I cannot remember the name of it.

Atomic Bomb Inventory

Atomic Bomb Inventory
Plot is cumulative, the number along the left hand edge is the worldwide total.
The blue area is the US stockpile, the red area is the Russian stockpile.
The thick line along the top is everyone else.

I'm slowly making my way through Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. Back in the 1950's the US Military was actually afraid Russia / Stalin might start another war. Since we didn't want to support an army big enough to counter an attack by a Russian army (on account of big armies are expensive), we opted to build up our stockpile of atom bombs so we could have a big stick to threaten them with, i.e. if you attack Europe we will obliterate your country. And since Russia had developed their own atom bomb, they weren't going to the let the US have a bigger stick, so they built up their arsenal and that's how we ended up with a zillion atom bombs.

Monday, January 25, 2021

The V-2 Missile Heist

The V-2 Missile Heist
Mark Felton Productions

Another obscure story about WW2. The Nazis test fired a V-2 missile in Poland and the Polish Home Army found it, concealed it, took it apart and smuggled it out via a C-47 Dakota (the military version of the DC-3).

I didn't realize that the Germans had built and launched so many V-2's, the total was over 3,000. There is a good clip of a C-47 coming in for a landing on a grass field.
I plotted the locations on a Google Map just to see how far it was: 680 miles. The plane took off from San Pancrazio Airfield in Brindisi Italy.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Indian Head Bobble

Indian Headshakes | What do they mean?
Meen Fried Chicken Curry

I have noticed the Indian head bobble in couple of movies*. It's a little disconcerting. I suppose it depends on context, but in the movie scenes where I've seen it seems like the speaker (who is doing the wobbling) is not being completely truthful. The motion also seems to a bit snake like, somewhat akin to an underling attempting to worm his way into the boss's good graces, doesn't really know what his boss wants but is attempting to convey that whatever the boss wants is fine with the wobbler.

Update May 2024. Here's another video about the 4 Types of Indian Head Nod

Doom & Gloom

The Rolling Stones - Doom And Gloom
The Rolling Stones

Our two leading political parties are two sides of the same coin. Heads they win, tails you lose. 

The Democrats have traditionally been portrayed as being for the common man. Republicans are known for supporting business.

The Democrats are a big amorphous blob that spouts vague 'feel good' blather. The Republicans try to think logically but they are fractured on any number of hot-button issues.

I was going somewhere with this, something along the lines of politicians say all kinds of things on the campaign trail, but all that they actually do in Congress is what their benefactors want, and those benefactors are only pushing their issues, which may not be in the best interests of the country. 

But we all know all that, so I am not going any further down that dead end road. What I want to know is why Trump didn't fire Dr. Fauci a year ago?

Dr. Fauci's pronouncements were what ruined this year and possibly this country. And who gave him a platform to speak from? Trump. Why did he do that? Was he blinded by 'science'? Dr. Fauci led to lockdowns, lockdowns led to mass unemployment, mass unemployment led to riots (never mind the supposed political motivations), all of which led to Trump's defeat at the polls. You may say the election was rigged, but who got Dr. Fauci up on stage? Sometimes I wonder if he was a plant sent in by the evil Democrats to ruin Trump.

It was obvious from the get-go that Fauci was making trouble. Why didn't Trump fire him? Not that it matters at this point.

Moon Base

SpaceX Starship Moon Landing

I've been thinking about our plans to go to the moon. SpaceX is making great progress on their Starship, and if things go well, their Super Heavy booster should be flying in a year or two (or three or four). So, barring major calamities we should have established a base on the moon before the end of the decade. 

The big reason for building a moon base is to set up a factory for making rocket fuel. Yes, there is science to be done, but if we can refuel our rockets on the moon then we don't have to carry that fuel up from Earth which means we can carry other, more useful stuff.

Making rocket fuel on the moon is going to be a bit of a trick. Some people are talking about collecting water, but water on the surface is pretty scarce. Some geological exploration might uncover some buried mineral deposits that would work better, but that is going to take some exploring. It might take ten years to find a deposit that could be exploited and it could take like amount of time to develop a technique that could convert that deposit into rocket fuel. 

Now we might be able to do all that exploration using robotic rovers, but I think we would want people there even if it's just for the publicity. Yes, some people are ga-ga over robots, but people in general are more interested in people. And you know there's nothing like the man-on-the-spot to give you a better idea of just exactly what is going on. [Rover Communications Lost] doesn't really tell you much. [Moon Monster Eats Rover] tells you a whole lot more, especially if there are pictures.

What I am getting at is that we are going to need a Moon base for a long time, and that Moon base is going to require regular shipments of supplies and personal. Plus, you aren't going to want to keep people up there for very long. They could certainly survive for a long time, but coming back to Earth is going to be painful. We may not want people to stay there for more than a couple of weeks, so we are going to need a regular shuttle service to rotate personnel.

I'm thinking we are going to need a rocketship to the Moon every week. Ten years would mean 500 launches. If you could get a dozen flights out of a Starship, then you would need to build 40 or 50 them. The logistics of all this would be a bit of a challenge, especially since it would very dependent on which way the political winds were blowing.

Willow Calamity

Calamity Ware Tentacle Plate

Sarah A. Hoyt bought 'two very large cups from Calamity Ware'. Okay, that name is odd enough that I follow the link and am pleasantly surprised with what I find: dishes that at first glance look like Blue Willow pattern designs, which are basically a Western interpretation of Chinese art. However, look closer and you find all kinds of (what else?) calamities!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

The White Tiger

The White Tiger | Official Trailer | Netflix

An Indian peasant exerts himself and manages to score a job as the driver for the local rich man. It gives you an up close view of the Indian caste system which is just too weird for words. I've seen a couple other movies from that part of the world. The caste system shows up there, but they skirt around the subject. The White Tiger really walks right into it.

Netflix 2 hours

Post about Slumdog Millionaire, another Indian movie.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Brother Ivanovich

The Raunch Hands - The Bomb Song

Unknown asked about this song today. I posted the lyrics 12 years ago because that was all I could find, but now we have Brendan O'Malley writing about The Raunch Hands and lo and behold, we have the original tune that my folks (my dad really) played.

Printer Problems

HUGO - 99 Problems
book of BEE

My printer became uncooperative earlier today, so I posted my problem on the Linux Mint Forum

The printer (HP C4385 Inkjet) has been working fine for years. It ran out of paper on the last job and now I can't get it to print anything.

I tried rebooting, no help. Then I cleared the print queue and shut down the computer and the printer and then restarted. No help. When I try to print something the job shows up in the print queue as 'pending'.

After the movie this evening I thought I would give it another shot:

Well, it's sort of solved. The printer finally decided to try and print something and then it promptly chewed up the paper, so it looks like some kind of mechanical malfunction. That's what I get for bragging on it. And letting it run out of paper. Don't let your printer run out of paper. It's liable to go on strike, or even worse, go over to the dark side. Don't be like me and let your printer run out of paper.

Update next day. Printer is working again. I banged it around inadvertently while trying to get a look at the feed mechanism. There is a part behind the feed wheels that comes off for cleaning, and it comes off easily. So I cleaned the wheels and then I fed it one sheet of paper and it printed just fine. Put the full stack in again and it balked. Put a short stack of paper in (maybe an eighth of inch high) and it worked fine. So some, but not too much.

The Next Three Days

The Next Three Days | trailer #1 US (2010) Russell Crowe

We start watching this movie and pretty soon I recognize the plot: wife is convicted of a crime and locked up, husband exhausts legal methods of getting her out and plots to break her out. But I don't recognize any of the characters, scenes or settings, so it's like watching a new movie. But then the scenes inside the jail with it's stone castle-like construction don't show up, and I was pretty sure there was something about a hidden wall, or something concealed in a wall, but none of that shows up.

A bit of Googling turned up a bunch of prison break movies, none of which were anything like either one (the one we watched and the one I thought I saw). I think I've seen most of them. So now I'm thinking the castle scenes must have been from some other movie and I got them crossed up.

If you want to get philosophical, the movie is about what you believe and what is real. The professor even quotes Don Quixote. But you don't need that, you can go straight to the action. I don't think there was a wasted finger twitch in the whole two and a quarter hours.


The Hits Keep On Coming

I wouldn't mention these except for irony.

Nobody Lives Here

Parts of Brazil with no people living within one square kilometre (80% of Brazil's total area)

Another coincidence. This one popped up the day after we started watching a The Mechanism, a Brazilian crime show. Curiously, Brazil does not show up in the video about immigrants to the US.


Foreign Born Population in the U.S. (1850-2019)

I came across this the day after we watched Black '47 which was set in Ireland in 1847, just three years before this animated graph starts. I think a static graph would do a better job of portraying this information, but maybe that's just me. It's interesting how there seem to be waves of immigrants from one country and then another. Italy, Germany and Ireland are well represented in the early years. Mexico has been the biggest lately.


If only our self-appointed betters would embrace Yanomami fashion sense as well. That would be an improvement.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

The Mechanism

The Mechanism | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix

We started watching this Brazilian crime show this evening. I don't know if we'll stay with it. It's kind of frustrating. We have cops trying to nail a money launderer, but he's well connected to the elite and they're all corrupt, kind of like here, so you know nothing is going to happen. They may as well be beating their heads against the wall.

Netflix in some kind of furrin' gibberish, presumably Portuguese with subtitles in English. 16 episodes, 45 minutes each.

Airplane of the Day - Northrop F-89 Scorpion

Northrop F-89D-45-NO Scorpion interceptors, Goose Bay AB, Labrador (Canada), in the 1950s

I'm reading Command and Control by Eric Schlosser and on page 151 he mentions the F-89 Scorpion. I don't recall ever hearing of the Scorpion. I'm familiar with the F-86 that we used in Korea and the F-100 Super Sabre (it was really cool), but the F-89? Nada. But then I pull up a picture on the net and boom! It hit me, I remember that airplane. I think I may even have had a toy model of it when I was a kid.

It wasn't supersonic, not with those straight wings, but it packed a serious punch. Six machine guns in the nose, rocket pods or bombs under the wings, and for a topper it could also carry an air-to-air missile armed with nuclear warhead for destroying Soviet bombers that were coming to destroy America with their H-bombs. Boy oh boy, Stalin versus Curtis LeMay.

AIR-2 Genie | air-to-air Nuclear missile
The Atomic Cafe

The 50's were a very strange time. If atomic weapons flying through air wasn't enough, we also had UFO's. The US Air Force in northern Michigan sent a Scorpion to investigate a UFO that had appeared on their radar. They were able to track the target and the interceptor until they met and then the Scorpion disappeared. No trace of it was ever found and the target continued on its merry way apparently unaffected. I'm not saying it was aliens, but you know what? It was aliens.


Planet Eating Aliens

There is a discussion going on over at The Unwanted Blog about planet eating aliens. Surprising amount of science fiction written on this topic.

The Prodigy - Need Some1

The Prodigy - Need Some1 (Official Video)
The Prodigy

Here it is two o'clock in the morning and I am drinking some kind of champagne because I'm out of beer and for some reason these bottles of ersatz champagne have been piling up in the basement fridge, so why not? I had some kind of bug over the weekend, cold and tired, thought I got over it but today it's back. Went to bed at a decent hour and lay there for a couple of hours but didn't fall asleep, so I finally got up, went down to my cave in the basement and resume my usual sleepless routine of listening to tunes on YouTube and playing solitaire, but none of my regular tunes appealed so I went looking for something else. I don't know whether I really like this or not, the video may as well be from another world, a world that doesn't count for shit to the powers that be but it's where I'm guesstimating half the people in this world live.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Black '47

Black 47 Official Trailer
Irish Film Institute

"A compelling revenge thriller" describes it very well.. Potato famine in Ireland 1847. Soldier comes back from Afghanistan, finds his mother and brother dead and sets about executing all those he deems responsible. You get an up close view of just how ghastly conditions were then. Revenge is sweet, but you know how this ends.

Netflix 100 minutes

The Slants

From a story in a Forbes newsletter:

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a prominent Trump ally, says major retailers have dropped his products amid his continued spread of baseless voter fraud conspiracies and claims that the election was rigged against Trump, which have prompted backlash online and an “imminent” defamation lawsuit from Dominion Voting Systems.

I like they way they just throw 'baseless' in there. Some people might think claims on conspiracy and fraud are baseless, but many other people do not. Screw you, Forbes.

She Runs!

First Run of My Webster Engine

The Silicon Graybeard has finally got his scratch built internal combustion engine running. He's been working on it for a long while. He also does some good reporting on what's going on in the big rocket business. I've mentioned him here before.

Airplane of the Day - Chengdu F-7A

Albanian Air Force Chengdu F-7A

Albania during the Cold War was nuts. Enver Hoxha was the leader (I thought it was Tito, but that was Yugoslavia). During the 1970's they acquired a bunch of MiG copies from China (Russia wasn't Communist enough for them). view from the porch has the story.

The Chengdu J-7 is a Chinese copy of the Soviet MiG-21

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Lalo Schifrin

Bullitt Soundtrack - Lalo Schifrin - "Shifting Gears" HD

Lalo started showing up on YouTube a couple of weeks ago and I've listened to some of his tunes and they're not bad. I think you'd call them jazz. Then this one popped up the other day and I said whoa! Here we've got the ominous lead up to the big chase scene and it's the music that gives it that ominous feel.

So just who is this Lalo guy? Wikipedia knows all:
Boris Claudio "Lalo" Schifrin (born June 21, 1932) is an Argentine-American pianist, composer, arranger and conductor. He is best known for his large body of film and TV scores since the 1950s, including the theme from Mission: Impossible, Bullitt and Enter the Dragon. He has received five Grammy Awards and six Academy Awards nominations. Associated with the jazz music genre, Schifrin is also noted for his collaborations with Clint Eastwood from the late 1960s to the 1980s, particularly the Dirty Harry series of films.

Golly gee, if Clint likes him he must be okay.


Monday, January 18, 2021

Airplane of the Day - Lockheed F-104 Starfighter

Lockheed F-104 Starfighter | The worlds first Mach 2 fighter
The Atomic Cafe

I am starting to develop a feel for the development of aircraft over the course of the 20th century, but I think my feelings could do with some structure. People invested enormous amounts of time and money developing these machines and it seems like every one exceeded the capabilities of previous aircraft in some manner: bigger, heavier, faster, flying higher or father, carrying more people or cargo. I might have to put together a spreadsheet. The early Cold War era is particularly intriguing because it seems like great advances were made and they all kind of pointed to the Apollo mission to the moon. After that, it all seemed to be polish and refinement and computers.

Curtis LeMay

General Curtis LeMay - A. Y. Owen

I'm reading Command and Control by Eric Schlosser. Around page 90 he starts talking about Curtis LeMay. Here's a couple of quotes:

  • "I'll tell you what war is about. You've got to kill people and when you kill enough of them, they stop fighting."
  • "We scorched and boiled and baked more people in Tokyo than went up in vapor in Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined."
I knew the our firebombing raid on Tokyo near the end of WW2 killed a large number of people, but I had not heard it compared to the death toll in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 

LeMay organized the attack on Tokyo, ran the Berlin airlift and became the head of the Strategic Air Command. My mother called him 'Bomber LeMay'. I don't think she liked him. He probably took the nickname as a complement. 

LeMay suffered from Bell's palsy, "a condition that causes a temporary weakness or paralysis of the muscles in the face. It can occur when the nerve that controls your facial muscles becomes inflamed, swollen, or compressed. The condition causes one side of your face to droop or become stiff."

Going Down The Drain

California Bear - Gone To Texas - Melissa Reese

This here post mirrors my thinking almost exactly. It's great because it saves me having to write it.

Blue State Economies Will Soon Crumble – But Will They Take Red States With Them? by Brandon Smith

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Nouvelle Vague - Guns Of Brixton

Nouvelle Vague - Guns Of Brixton (Full Track)

I've been listening to this band lately and this tune came on and I thought this doesn't sound like a love song. It's  a Clash tune.

Airplane of the Day - Boeing E-6B Mercury

US Navy E-6B Mercury leaving Des Moines International

The Boeing E-6 Mercury is an airborne command post and communications relay based on the Boeing 707. The E-6B provides command and control of U.S. nuclear forces should ground-based control become inoperable. - paraphrased from Wikipedia

Based on a 707? This thing must be ancient.

Land based nuclear weapons systems can be contacted by radio, but contacting submarines can be problematic. The way it is normally done is through a specialized VLF transmitters. There is one in Australia and one in my backyard.

But how is the E-6B going to contact the boomers? Hoo boy, are you ready for this? They go to an altitude of 20,000 feet, unreel a five mile long antennae out of the rear of the airplane, and then fly in tight circles at the slowest speed they can manage. For hours on end. The antennae works best when it is near vertical. Flying in tight circles allows the antennae to droop until it is pretty much vertical.

This History Channel video has a simplistic animation of this operation at the three minute mark.

TACAMO History Channel

TACAMO is an acronym for Take Charge And Move Out which makes no sense to me, but then this is the military. They can call it whatever they want.

This business with the antennae reminds me of a movie I saw a while back about some missionaries trying to make contact with some natives living in the Amazon rain forest. They would fly over the jungle at a low altitude and when they spot a village they would take a plastic bucket, load it with goodies, and then lower it on a rope. The pilot would fly the airplane in a circle and it worked out that the bucket would hang in one spot in the air and the natives could come and take whatever they wanted out of the bucket and put things into it, if they felt so inclined. I don't know how long the rope was but I imagine it must have been several hundred feet long at least. I mean, how tight a circle can a Piper Cub turn?

Update 2 weeks later. TACAMO shows up in Command and Control on page 273.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Lego Man on the Moon

Apollo 11 - a Lego Story

Cleverly done, scene changes just like a real movie, close ups and distance shots. The landing sequence made me realize that disaster was just a hair's breadth away. That first trip to the moon could have easily ended in disaster at any point along the way. 



I just came across two posts about prohibition, one on  Mad Jack's Shack  and another on Yard Sale of the Mind . They approach the subject from two different angles, but both are instructive, especially in light of the current political climate.

Bonus words from  Yard Sale of the Mind :

Scofflaw Was Created for a Contest

In 1924, a wealthy Massachusetts Prohibitionist named Delcevare King sponsored a contest in which he asked participants to coin an appropriate word to mean “a lawless drinker.” King sought a word that would cast violators of Prohibition laws in a light of shame. Two respondents came up independently with the winning word: scofflaw, formed by combining the verb scoff and the noun law. Henry Dale and Kate Butler, also of Massachusetts, split King’s $200 prize. Improbably, despite some early scoffing from language critics, scofflaw managed to pick up steam in English and expand to a meaning that went beyond its Prohibition roots, referring to one who violates any law, not just laws related to drinking.


Incitatus  was the favourite horse of Roman emperor Caligula (reigned 37–41 AD). According to legend, Caligula planned to make him a consul.

Children's Stories

The Lion and the Puppy by Leo Tolstoy

A couple of day's ago IAman left a comment with this cryptic phrase: 
Как поговорить с кошкой, не обидев ее Толстой
which Google translates to:
How to talk to a cat without offending her Tolstoy
Google that and I find that the Los Angeles Review of Books has something to say:
THE RUSSIAN NOVELIST Leo Tolstoy, also a gentleman farmer, operated an ancestral estate called Yasnaya Polyana that included a small school for the children of the peasants who labored there. Tolstoy was known to drop by from time to time and share stories that he wrote himself, which, in his typical modesty, he predicted would be read by “thousands, even millions.”

In 1988, the children’s novelist and Russia expert James Riordan translated several of these for a collection called The Lion and the Puppy: And Other Stories for Children, published first by Henry Holt and Company. The cover has a nice picture of a lion and a puppy; the illustrations by Claus Sievert are lovely throughout. My children fell in love with that picture, and they wanted me to read them the book. My first thought was: Children’s stories by the author of the inspirational The Death of Ivan Ilyich? But pestilence has closed the schools and home reading was important. Tolstoy wrote them; they couldn’t be that bad. Now I sincerely wish I had never touched them.

The first story turned out to be the only one we endured together. It’s about a hungry lion in the zoo, whose keepers comb the streets for stray cats and dogs to feed him. Tolstoy recounts the lion coming for a puppy that got lost by its master: “Poor little dog. Tail between its legs, it squeezed itself into the corner of the cage as the lion came closer and closer.”

The lion decides not to eat this puppy, and they become friends. Until we get to page two, when the puppy, now a year old, suddenly sickens and dies. So what does the lion do? “[H]e put his paws about his cold little friend and lay grieving for a full five days. And on the sixth day the lion died.” The end.
Today Borepatch is suffering from a gloomy outlook and quotes Hilaire Belloc. Who the heck is Hilaire Belloc, you might ask? I know I did. Once again Wikipedia provides:
Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (1870 – 1953) was a British-French writer and historian and one of the most prolific writers in England during the early twentieth century. . . .
His writings encompassed religious poetry and comic verse for children. His widely sold Cautionary Tales for Children included "Jim, who ran away from his nurse, and was eaten by a lion" and "Matilda, who told lies and was burned to death". . . .
He also collaborated with G. K. Chesterton on a number of works.
Hoo boy. What a cheerful bunch.

Clam Man

When You Come To San Felipe, Visit Clam Man
I know you liked the Porkchop Man.
Not sure if they are related but here is Clam Man.
He too would call out loudly...something about Clams. - IAman

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Going Down in Flames

Fire - Credit: Shutterstock

California Is Worse Than You Think by William L. Anderson

I look around and I see disaster looming. California is sliding toward the abyss. I don't understand how Illinois has not imploded. The Federal government owes pert near 30 trillion dollars, which is like $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) per person. Telsa stock is, by any conventional measure, extremely overvalued. Bitcoin continues to exist even though it's basis is simply an enormous installation of computing machinery that spins arcane symbols and burns electricity. 

Some people believe in Bitcoin. I imagine it's value comes from shielding people from the tax man. I mean can you tax a figment of someone's imagination? Tesla might, in ten years or so, grow big enough to realize it's current value. The Federal government can continue to borrow money as long as someone will lend it to them. Or they can just decide to print more money like they did last year to fund the stimulus checks. People have been warning us about the foolish fiscal policies in places like California and Illinois for years, yet they are still operating.

I really wonder what's going to happen. I like to think that when the crash happens, fiscal conservatives will use the opportunity to beat people over the head about financial prudence, but I what I fear is that some snake oil salesman will sell them a new bottle of snake oil and people will gobble it up.

Via ZeroHedge

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Books by the Foot

Chuck Roberts, owner of Books by the Foot, in his warehouse. | Scott Suchman for Politico Magazine

Want an erudite backdrop for your zoom calls? Books by the Foot has you covered.

Airplane of the Day - Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star

P-80 Shooting Star - America's WW2 Combat Jet
Mark Felton Productions

The P-80 first flew near the end of WW2. The USAF used them up until 1997. Some other countries are still using them. Some military aircraft are like houses. If they don't get burnt down or blowed up, they'll last darn near forever.


In which Hot Takes are Served Fresh
Click to embiggenate

I hope everyone is enjoying the clown show that is going on in Washington D.C. these days. I mean, what do they expect to achieve with this impeachment? They must really hate the Orange Man. I guess that goes without saying. It's like children who have gotten loose with some paint and they are splashing it on everything within reach.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

LNG - Liquified Natural Gas

LNG Abalamabie

Prices to hire an LNG carrier ship have reached new heights. It now costs $350,000 a day to hire one of these ships. Evidently, it's worthwhile proposition because even after paying the shipping costs, the gas can still be sold at a profit in Asia.


LNG carriers remind me of the Nostromo, the cargo ship from the first Alien movie. Giant, high-tech ship with just a handful of people on board. If they weren't such mundane, everyday things, it would make a great setting for a science fiction thriller. Of course, I doubt anyone in their right mind would allow a crew of film makers on board one of these ships. That just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Anyway, I'm reading along and I come across this phrase: "modern two-stroke LNG carriers" and I wonder what the heck is that? They have some new technique for compressing gas? No, it's just engine basics. Some engines (automobiles for instance) are four stroke and some engines (chainsaws, go karts) are two stroke. Likewise some diesel engines are four stroke, like Caterpillar, and some are two stroke, like Detroit Diesel.

This might be the Suehiro Maru No. 8*

I got this from a pdf from MAN Diesel and Turbo. I'm reading along and I come across this bit:

The first LNG carrier was the 150 m3 forerunner Suehiro Maru No. 8 from 1962 (scrapped 1983) with a four-stroke diesel engine as prime mover.

The capacity of the LNG Abalamabie (shown at the top) at 170,000 cubic meters is over one thousand times greater than the Suehiro Maru's capacity of 150 cubic meters.

*Turns out there is more than one Suehiro Maru No. 8. I couldn't find any pictures from the correct era. This picture supposedly came from a YouTube video, but it's not actually in there. It looks old, and it only exists as search result, so it's like a ghost picture, which is kind of appropriate for a ghost ship.

P.S. Just out of curiousity, I checked my browser's history. Putting this post together took about an hour and generated 150 entries in the history log visiting maybe 75 different pages.



The video combines two short films. The first one is assembly and installation and runs about 16 minutes. I found it totally engrossing. The second one is about testing. Not so interesting, though a few bits were a little confusing. Evidently when the engine is running it provides the oil to operate the hub, but when it is not there is an electric pump that supplies the oil to turn the blades into their feathered position.

Pitch Control Cam

At the end of the first film (at the 15 minute mark) there is a brief shot of the some of the parts that go into this device and you can see the cylindrical cam that is used to control the pitch of the propeller blades.

Monday, January 11, 2021

We Need a New Media System

Hostile Forces

We Need a New Media System by Matt Taibbi

That's what I've been saying! Matt, I could kiss you! No, wait, would that be considered gay? A hug? Eh, maybe not. I handshake and warm congratulations (on agreeing with me, the king of my world). That would be the ticket.

Here's a couple of quotes from his post that I really liked:

Drifting apart into two separate tribes, with a separate set of facts and separate realities, with nothing in common except our hostility towards each other and mistrust for the few national institutions that we all still share. - Mitch McConnell

Instead, outlets like CNN and MSNBC took a Fox-like approach, downplaying issues in favor of shoving Trump’s agitating personality in the faces of audiences over and over, to the point where many people could no longer think about anything else. - Matt Taibbi

P.S. I was sure I had written about YouText, the next great website / service, but Blogger's search function couldn't find it. Weird. Is Blogger crushing my dreams? Here's another post where it gets mentioned: Text R Us

Update Tuesday. Commenter Bruce points out that there is a YouText website, but it's more like a sexting service, which is not what I am looking for. I am going to have to come up with a new name, well, somebody is, if it's ever going to be implemented.

Institutionalized Obedience

Another essay from the Imaginative Conservative. This one is by Habi Zhang, a smart Chinese-American cookie.

Institutionalized Obedience: Americans & the Lockdowns

Hannah Arendt

The name 'Hannah Arendt' sounded vaguely familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. That's okay, Wikipedia, my modern miracle memory aid is just few key clicks away.

Hannah Arendt (/ˈɛərənt, ˈɑːr-/,[11][12][13] also US: /əˈrɛnt/,[14] German: [ˈaːʁənt];[15] 14 October 1906 – 4 December 1975) was a German-born American political theorist. Her many books and articles have had a lasting influence on political theory and philosophy. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political thinkers of the 20th century.

. . .

In 1933, the year Adolf Hitler came to power, Arendt was arrested and briefly imprisoned by the Gestapo for performing illegal research into antisemitism in Nazi Germany. On release, she fled Germany, living in Czechoslovakia and Switzerland before settling in Paris. There she worked for Youth Aliyah, assisting young Jews to emigrate to the British Mandate of Palestine (now Israel). Divorcing Stern in 1937, she married Heinrich Blücher in 1940, but when Germany invaded France in 1940 she was detained by the French as an alien, despite having been stripped of her German citizenship in 1937. She escaped and made her way to the United States in 1941 via Portugal.

Bonus word of the day: conglutination

Noun. conglutination (countable and uncountable, plural conglutinations) An adhesion, or gluing together. The agglutination of an antigen, antibody and complement by the addition of a serum agent.

This one's meaning is fairly easy to discern just from its spelling. The prefix con- is used in many words like complex and compound. The next three letters look an awful lot like 'glue' and the parts of the compound suffix (which is all the rest of this moderately long word) are familiar enough to suggest that the word means 'a bunch of stuff stuck together'. Well, I guess my phrase is a few letters longer. Sheesh.

Logic Has No Place In Politics

Representative Mary Miller (R-Illinois)

Joseph Mussomeli has a few cogent words to say about the Mary Miller's unfortunate choice of words.

Joseph Adamo Mussomeli (born May 26, 1952) was an employee of the United States Department of State and is the former U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Slovenia and the Kingdom of Cambodia.


Race Cars on the Moon

Race Cars on the Moon

This popped up on a smallstars video about proposed near-term missions to the moon (at the 19:30 mark). On one hand it's a completely ridiculous waste of time and money, it's silly and frivolous. On the other hand, it is probably going to generate a ridiculous amount of excitement among the ten-year-old boy* crowd, and that crowd includes a fair percentage of grown men, so hoorah! Let's go racing!

Moon Mark is running this show. 

There are a couple of YouTube videos about it, but none that I could watch. One wasn't bad, but I suspect the voice was computer generated and for some reason that shit bothers me. If it's obviously an artificial voice giving me some information, I don't mind, but when it's trying to imitate a person talking it just grates on me. Maybe I will get used to it eventually, like I've gotten used to seeing obviously gay couples walking around downtown.

As a side note, I've noticed there are some folks that are making not-very-high-quality videos and using rudimentary text-to-speech generators for the audio track. I don't watch them, but then I don't watch the most popular YouTube channels either, which seem to be done by children talking about I don't know what.

* Thanks to Richard Hammond of Top Gear for that insight.

Airplane of the Day - Cessna Skylane

Cessna Skylane - From Hemmings Motor News, an Oldsmobile advertisement for the 1964 Oldsmobile with the Jetfire Rocket V-8 engine which was installed in this Cessna. - Kent Vandenberg

The whole story can be found here. The link goes to a PDF of an article by Roger Huntington that was published in Car Life. It's a fascinating account of what went into this engine installation. Learned things I didn't know, like hydraulically controlled propellers need 275 PSI of oil to operate, a V-8 engine gives off 6,000 BTU of heat per minute, and some people know how to make gears.


Boss Tweed

I follow a bunch of blogs on Feedly, most of them are conservative and some of those can be fairly classified as wingnuts. A lot of what I see is rubbish. I try to avoid stuff that is just bellowing outrage, but now and again I come across something that makes sense.

We've all been hearing very vocal accusations about how large sections of the government has been conspiring to undermine the President, but you know, anyone can accuse anyone of anything, and there is always a great deal of accusing going on. But determining if there is any basis for those accusations is very difficult, especially if you have anything else to do, so I tend to disregard these accusations. I mean they might be true, or they might not, but until someone proves criminal wrong doing in a court of law, nothing is going to happen. So rage against the machine if you want but don't expect me to jump onto your bandwagon.

Today I have finally came across a piece that makes a pretty good case for why the established bureaucrats might actually have been working to undermine President Trump.

Why Trump Voters Don't Trust the People Who Count the Votes by Ryan McMakin

Of course, I don't trust anyone except my family.

Via ZeroHedge

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Google, My Evil Friend

Nigerian Movies Plus - New Movies

Got a $5.46 charge from Google on my credit card last month. I have no idea what it was for, so I filed a dispute on-line and just got a robo reply:
After reviewing your claim, we were unable to confirm fraudulent activity in this case, so no refund will be provided by Google at this time. If you would like to pursue the matter further, you can reach out to your financial institution.

Well, if you were committing fraud, you would deny it too. So I go to the Chase website and point and click until I get to this:

Keep in mind:  If you didn't authorize this transaction, call us right away at the number on the back of your card.

So I call, slog through the robo-cop menu system until I finally get to a real person where we go through the usual sign / counter sign / secret handshake rigamarole. We finally get to the heart of the matter and he tells me that the dispute resolution department is closed on weekends, I'll have to call back on Monday. Of course.

The $5.46 is inconsequential, but if they do it once, they might do it again, so it's best to squash it right now. It's a probably a result of all my passwords being compromised when the Vimeo extension to the Chrome browser got hacked. Right now I just want to know what the heck these hackers bought that cost $5.46. I mean, that's a weird price, right? Seems like every price in the world these days ends with .99. What costs $5.46? Oh! I just had a thought. If it was done in foreign country, the price might have ended with .99 in the local currency, but when it went through the currency convertor it turned it into this weird price.

I could go on about the pros and cons of the technological morass that is Google / Amazon and the credit card companies, but that could take me forever and I think it's time for lunch, so I'm going to stop here.

*The movie is here because this was the first thing that popped up when I Googled the title, and since Nigeria is famous for scams it seems like it might appropriate header for this post. Also, a movie from Nigeria? I mean it makes sense, Nigeria is a prosperous country, well, some parts of it are, so why wouldn't they be making movies? I don't think I've seen any real African movies. I mean I've seen a few Hollywood movies filmed in Africa, but's not exactly the same thing, is it? Anyway, I only watched the first minute or so, so I have no idea it is any good. I'll try and watch a little more later.

Update November 2021 replaced missing video with something from the same outfit with a similar title. The original title included the phrase 'pushed me from the roof' while this one says 'pushed me into the well'.

Update April 2022 noticed the video is missing. Went to the poster's page and they have over 150 similar movies. Take your pick.