Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Investigation

The Investigation: Official Trailer | HBO

We started watching this mini-series last night. At first we thought it was just another European crime drama, but then it got a little extreme and my wife says 'I remember this'. Turns out it is a true story, a little bizarre, but a true story. A woman journalist boards a private submarine to interview the owner. The submarine sinks and the woman disappears. The next day the authorities haul the 60 odd ton submarine to the surface. Nobody there, but there is blood. Now we've got a story from the owner that makes no sense and the investigation picks up steam. Wild rumors don't help.

UC3 Nautilus

The UC3 was the submarine in this tragic event. The authorities eventually destroyed it.

Divers spent weeks searching the bottom of the bay looking for the body. Denmark must have spent a zillion Euros on this investigation.

Stupid LED's

CIE Standard Illuminant D65
Spectral power distribution

The future is stupid. Used to be, back in the bad old days, you could go to any grocery store and pick up a light bulb. They had a complete selection from a low of 40 watts to a high of 100 watts. The selection was complete because that was all there was. Now light bulbs have gone the way of nuts and bolts: there is a different bulb for every application. 

Chromaticity diagram by David MacAdam
also known as the CIE 1960 Color Space

D65 appears near the 8000K line
Note sure what this means, but it makes a pretty picture.

They don't just come in a different power (watts) ratings, there are different sizes, mountings, technologies, and CRI-s (Color Rendering Indexes). Remember the Wall of Diapers at Toys R Us? That's what the light bulb display at Home Depot looks like now. I spent ten minutes there the other day looking for a Halogen bulb for a work light and I could not find it. I finally had to ask someone. Took him a minute but there it was, right in the area I had been looking. Confused by the packaging I was. Must be getting old, starting to talk like Yoda I am.

Old fixture: Broan 9427P 500 Watt, 4.0 Sones, 70 CFM

We just replaced the light fixture / exhaust fan in the master bath with a new one. Nothing wrong with old one other than it was noisy. Didn't bother us when we built the house 25 years ago, but now my wife is at war with the mold growing on the ceiling (see those itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny black spots on the ceiling?) and she wants a new exhaust fan. Normally this would be a simple fix, there are a wide variety of exhaust fans available as long as you want the standard size, which is about a foot square. Ours is not, it is a fancy-schmantzy one with two flood lights so it's about a foot by fifteen inches. We could have replaced it with a standard one, but that would have meant patching the drywall which would have turned a day long project into a week long one. Effing drywall.

New Fixture: Utilitech 7123-02-L 1300W, 1.5 Sones, 80 CFM

Looked around and found one the right size that should be quieter, but it only has room for one 60 watt light bulb and it is like turning on the dark. So I got a 100 watt equivalent LED and plugged that in. Doesn't really help, it is like turning on the dim and it's still that ugly 'cool white color'. Next step might be to replace the light fixture with a pair of LED fixtures designed for mounting in the ceiling. That's going to require some chopping and hacking to make them fit and considerable finesse so it doesn't look like a hack job.

LED 100 Watt Equivalent

After we got the fixture installed we discovered that the fan wouldn't run. Seems that the old fan had an old timey motor and it worked fine with the electronic timer, but new the fan has a fancy new motor and it required a different kind of timer. The essential difference is that the old timer did not require a neutral wire connection and the new one did.

TORK In-Wall Countdown Lighting Timer

P.S. On every other exhaust fan in the world, the bezel / grill is attached with springs so all you need to do to remove it is pull it down a bit and then reach in and disconnect the springs. The bezel on the new Utilitech exhaust fan is attached with a screw, a screw that is hidden behind the light bulb. So in order to remove the grill, you must first remove the lens, the light bulb and the screw. Now that the grill is loose, you can reach up and unplug the wire to the bulb. Now it is finally free. Bah, double bah and humbug.

P.P.S. Does the heater in the new unit work? I can't tell. I could definitely tell when the heat lamp in the old fixture was on.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Cattle Dogs

Loading Bucking Bulls in the Big Bend Trailer with Satus Jet, Brodey, Bear and Brick

I've seen dogs herding sheep, but I've never seen them herding cattle. Not a lot of cattle in the suburbs. I'm watching this and I'm thinking dogs like this must be a pretty rare commodity. I mean I've never seen them in action. So I go looking for info and all I can find about the dogs is that there are dozens of breeds. Then I realize maybe I should look at the number of cattle. There are nearly 100 million cattle in the US, which may as well be a zillion, so the number of working cattle dogs is also likely to be some astronomical number. Only reason I didn't realize that is because I seldom leave my cave anymore.

Movie Flintlocks

Movie Conversions: The Flintlock Trapdoor Springfield
Forgotten Weapons

A problem I had never considered.
"The movie industry has always had special requirements for firearms. Flintlocks, for example, can be rather finicky guns for folks to use without practice and care, and that does not work well in a filming environment where a whole scene's setup would be wasted if a flintlock fails to fire properly on demand. Today, courtesy of Mike Carrick from Arms Heritage magazine, we have an example of an old solution to this problem: use a thoroughly reliable cartridge-firing Trapdoor Springfield and just make it look more or less like a flintlock. Guns like this one were used in a variety of movies, including specifically the 1953 picture "The Man From the Alamo" and John Wayne's 1960 film "Alamo" (in Wayne's film, the same system was also used to make mock Kentucky rifles)."


American foreign policy and China

St Augustine Sacrificing to a Manichaean Idol

Biden's Two-Front War by Richard Fernandez is mostly about American foreign policy and China. I mostly like what Richard writes. Occasionally he will strike a false note, but he's usually very good.

There were a couple of new-to-me terms in his story.

  • Curleyism - from James Michael Curley (1874 – 1958), four-time mayor of Boston, who "used wasteful redistribution to his poor Irish constituents and incendiary rhetoric to encourage richer citizens to emigrate from Boston, thereby shaping the electorate in his favor." Quote is from the introduction to a lengthy academic PDF. I didn't read the whole thing.
  • Manichaeism was a major religion founded in the 3rd century AD by the Persian or Parthian prophet Mani in the Sasanian Empire. Manichaeism taught an elaborate dualistic cosmology describing the struggle between a good, spiritual world of light, and an evil, material world of darkness.

Sunday, March 28, 2021


Smithereens - Only A Memory

These guys had several hits in the 1980's and 1990's. I don't know if I recognize the tunes or I just like them. I don't actually remember any of the tunes, though I think I would have heard them on the radio. They're still in business. You might need to turn the volume up. The sound level is very low on some of their tunes.


I had a dream this morning that included a longish, jumbled preamble that I don't remember very clearly, but now I'm riding shotgun in my wife's Mitsubishi Endeavor. My dad, who has been dead for ten years or so, is driving. We're on our way to the automobile dealer's service department. We aren't going to the same place that I went to in the jumbled preamble, this time we are going to the actual service department. We pull into a large white prefab metal building. The interior is laid out like a parking lot with spaces for fifty to a hundred cars or so. Nobody is working on cars here, this is just the holding area, the actual work is being done in an adjacent area. My dad talks to the service writer and parks the car. I get out and see the service writer heading towards the door. I intercept him and start telling him about the car's problems, which include a screwed up window regulator in the front passenger side door and a seriously malfunctioning right front brake. In my mind these were real problems that happened about a year ago. They were caused by a damaged body control module located somewhere under the front passenger seat. But now I'm telling the service writer that these problems have gone away and he's asking me why I am telling him about them now if they aren't problems anymore. I don't have an answer for that, and now I am wondering where I got the idea that these problems were real. I'm awake now and I still have the feeling that those were real problems, but I know they aren't problems now, and I have no recollection of how they got fixed, which means they were imaginary problems, but man, the memory sure felt real. Never mind that there is no computer module where my memory was telling me it was.

Tire Wear Bars
Yes, that's about what my tires looked like.

Back to real life. It's spring and that means it's time to change the oil in the cars. I took the car to Clays a couple of weeks ago and because it's time to renew the license plates, I had them run the DEQ (Department of Environmental Quality) emissions test as well. They changed oil and ran the test no problem, but they noticed a few things that could stand to be replaced, like the tires, rear brakes and battery. Hmm. They told me the same thing six months ago. At that time the brakes were down to 4mm (millimeters) but now they are down to 2mm so maybe it is time to replace them. The wear bars in the tires are definitely showing and the battery is over four years old, so maybe it's time to take it to Les Schwab

Low Tire Pressure Indicator

The low-tire-pressure indicator has been on almost constantly for years, and the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) indicator (which is just the four letter acronym) has been lighting up the last year or two or five, I don't recall. Clays wants $150 to diagnose the TPMS system. $150 to plug in your diagnostic computer and tell me that the system is broken? I don't think so. I do a little checking and it turns out that the tire pressure sensors on this Mitsubishi have batteries that are supposed to last ten years. The car is 15 years old. Think maybe the batteries have died? So I go looking for batteries. 

Tire Pressure Sensor

Turns out the batteries are not replaceable, you simply replace the entire sensor which is an assembly that includes the valve stem. Since it is time for tires, probably ought to get those sensors replaced as well. Funny no one has recommended replacing those sensors before, or maybe I just don't remember. Tires last for years now. Sensors can be had for around $20 a piece, but Les only installs parts they supply and they want $70 each. Still, if this turns off the warning lights and without having to pay a diagnostic fee it will be worth it. (This a pretty sad state of affairs, paying $300 to turn off a couple indicator lights. Gawd I hate his safety shit.)

I take the car to Les, they keep it for a day and a half, and they care of all the problems except the battery, which is fine because I think the battery has at least another six months of life left. I base this on the fact that batteries seem to last about five years now. Used to be, back in good old days, batteries would fail slowly. They'd lose their charge, you could get a boost and now and again and maybe get a few more days,(weeks, months?) out of them. Now they die and that's it. One minute they are fine and the next minute, boom, they're dead. If you can predict their failure and replace the battery before it dies, you can avoid having a pissed off spouse, so I'm living dangerously.

The prices at Les Schwab were kind of interesting. The tires and brake pads were surprisingly low. The price for the rear shocks and installation struck me as excessively high. I suppose if they are giving away brake pads they need to make up for it somewhere else. Anyway, it was a one stop shop and I didn't have to lift a finger other to pull out my credit card, which was declined because the credit card company had sent me a new one even though this one wasn't expired. It still works everywhere else, but apparently only for penny-ante transactions.

P.S. I mailed in the license renewal form two weeks ago. I just called to check on it and the robo-cop tells me 'don't even think about calling back for four months'.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Jizan, Jazan

Houthi forces launch a ballistic missile aimed at Saudi Arabia on March 25, 2018
[Houthi Military Media Unit via Reuters]

Video Shows Saudi Red Sea Oil Terminal Ablaze After Fresh Drone Attack by Tyler Durden

The oil terminal is in Jizan (or Jazan, depending on who's spelling it). An oil terminal in Saudi Arabia, on the Red Sea, near the border with Yemen? That sounds familiar, and sure enough I put up a post about another attack a few months ago. All the videos in the ZeroHedge post are from Twitter, which don't lend themselves to clean embedding, so I went to YouTube to see if they had one. YouTube has bunch of videos of rocket attacks on Jizan. I didn't see any of the latest attack. I don't know if that matters though. The conflict has been going on for a while and will probably continue indefinitely. Another Forever War for your entertainment.

Thursday, March 25, 2021


Salvage Catamaran VB-10,000 cutting up the MV Golden Ray - Tamara Keel

You may have heard that big, fat container ship has contrived to get itself sideways in the Suez Canal completely blocking the channel and causing a huge pileup of cargo vessels at both ends. View From The Porch and daily timewaster both have posts up about it. This picture is not that ship, this is another disaster that happened off the coast of Georgia a couple of years ago.

I cropped the above image from a high-res photo that Tam posted. In Tam's post the ships are just a red and yellow blob. If your camera has enough pixels it can compensate for not having a zoom lens. The downside is that a few images can really eat into your storage space. Of course storage space is cheap these days.

1 Terabyte USB memory stick from Amazon < $40

Unless you are renting space on the cloud. It's still cheap, but it incurs a monthly charge. $2 a month buys 100GB from Google. My cropped image uses one-tenth as much space as the original. The original is only about 1/4 of a megabyte, which is negligible on this scale. However, I scanned a batch of old 4 x 6 photos at 600 dpi and each one of those required about 50 megabytes. That amount of space on this thumb drive would be a fifth of a cent. On Google it would be a tenth of a cent a month. Take a thousand photos and you're talking about a cup of coffee.

Measuring Dream

10 foot tape measure

My wife and I are preparing to build something underneath a wing of our house that projects over a slope. The dream goes on for a while (in dream time), but most of it is lost now. I do remember the last bit. There is a supporting wall about eight feet from the basement wall and about another ten feet or so farther down the slope there are a couple concrete pillars maybe ten or twelve inches square. I want to know how far the pillars are from the basement wall. We already made this measurement earlier and I think my wife wrote it down somewhere, but she is not right here, so I decide I will just make a new measurement, it's not that hard. I walk out there with my small tape measure, but when I get there I see that the corners of the pillars are beveled, not square, so the small hook on the end of my tape is not going to able to hook on. I come back into the house looking for my wife. There is a scrap of paper on the floor that might have notes written by my wife, and so it might have the measurements I need, but I doubt I will be able to pick them out, people's note taking techniques being kind of personal. So I holler for my wife who is downstairs. Shoot, this place must have a sub-basement.

Knowledge is Ephemeral

Linear A tablet from the palace of Zakros, Archeological Museum of Sitia
We have plenty of examples, but we can't read any of it.

“Always”: Unspoken & Clueless Assumptions by Joseph Moore. Joseph is one of my favorite thinking writers. He links this video:

Why Can't we Remake the Rocketdyne F1 Engine?
Curious Droid

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Technique, Schmekteek, Part 2

第7R 異種混走レース・RACE2 オーバルスーパーバトル in 川口 2016
[7th R Heterogeneous Mixed Race ・ RACE2 Oval Super Battle in Kawaguchi 2016]

This popped up on YouTube and it almost a complete replay of the video I posted a few weeks ago. This time our guy is wearing a green jacket, but the way he sits up straight, doesn't lean into the corners and wipes the track with his competitors, it must be the same. Who is this guy?

Haruchika Aoki, Nobuatsu Aoki, Takuma Aoki

If Google Translate can be believed, it is Haruchika Aoki, one of three brothers who all raced Gran Prix motorcycles. He's getting old now, at least for a motorcycle racer, so I suspect he is running in these races purely for enjoyment.

After Lunch Dream

We're in a normal, residential neighborhood. Two young, white men are engaged in the illicit drug trade. How do we know? We just do, this is a dream. One guy is in the house, we only see him for a second, just long enough to know he is a little agitated. The other guy is in the back of his pickup truck that is parked by the curb. He is crouched down behind a German Shepard who is growling fiercely like he wants to kill someone. He is growling, but he isn't moving. We don't see how he is restrained, he might just be well trained and simply waiting for a command. The two guys are talking on the phone, the guy in the truck implying that the guy in the house has screwed up and he is going to send his dog to correct the situation. Evidently house guy offers an acceptable explanation and everyone calms down.

Now truck guy is crouched down in the street next to the curb. He is holding a black, die cast replica of a Chevrolet Camaro. The grill is perforated like a sprinkler and he is spraying water, like you would from a watering  can, on some kind of iron plate set into the ground, like the cover over a city water meter or something. I suspect he is getting rid of some drugs. He dumped them in the Camaro, filled it with water, and is now spraying the water on this patch of ground.

A policeman suddenly looms over him like they do in crime dramas on TV. We can't tell what he looks like because his face is shadowed by his Smokey the Bear hat. We can't even tell what race he is. He's a copper and that's all we need to know. Anyway, he asks our guy to open the garage door. Our guy tells him that he can't do that. 'Why not?' asks the cop. 'It's not my house.' says our guy. Then our guy brings up the constitution and the cop tells him he's not going to worry about the constitution over an issue of  'disturbing the peace', and our guy relaxes because it seems that he is not going to be going to jail today.

Then I woke up.

On Big Lies

Phrenological Chart of the Faculties

On Big Lies by JMSMITH. A good, short essay.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Fight Club Notes

Cleaning out some old files, I came across some notes I made from The First Rule of Making 'Fight Club': Talk About 'Fight Club'. I made these notes because there were just so many names in the story (30 movies, 50 people). Anyway, I just transferred those notes to a spreadsheet. Now they are on Google and anyone can read them.

Previous mention of the story here.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Ural Motorcycles

Ural Motorcycle Review - Our Best Sidecar

Sidecars are . . . what? Weird? Wonderful? Sidecars have been around forever, but I'm not sure they were ever a very good idea. The certainly capture the imagination, and whenever one makes an appearance they cause a stir, but a good idea? Maybe an expedient solution to a shortage or four wheel vehicles, but I don't think they were ever a good idea. They make good movie though.

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (4/10) Movie CLIP - Motorcycle Chase (1989) HD

The motorcycles used in the movie were not the original Beemers, but other brands dressed up to look like German army motorcycles, which were what the Ural was copied from.

I remember seeing Sean Connery hopping about on the giant boulders in the underground temple in the movie Never Say Never Again and thought he was not as spry as he used to be. He was 53. I was still shocked to see him in this Indiana Jones movie playing an old man. He was 59.

Ural motorcycles have appeared here a couple of times.


Ultraviolet Netflix HD Trailer

A cops worst nightmare: a bunch of amateur sleuths investigating crimes and crossing up the police investigation. The lead girl keeps running into one of the local cops and you can tell right from the start that there is going to be a romance between these two, but it's going to take a while because we're busy solving crimes.

Ultraviolet is a network of people who use their internet skills and social media to track down information about people, crowd sourced crime investigation if you will. The shows brings in all kind kinds of technology, much like Unit 42, like tracking people using the their cell phones. The people involved in this all have jobs, after a fashion, but nothing that enlivens them like ferreting out clues to a crime.

Pretty lightweight, very entertaining. 

On Netflix in Polish with English subtitles, even though the preview above doesn't.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

How Harley-Davidson Killed Itself

How Harley-Davidson Killed Itself

Comments on an old motorcycle post reminded me of this video, so here it is. I like FortNine. And while we are talking about V-twins, here's a couple of other posts on the subject:


Finalists For TROPICS Mission

The Silicon Greybeard has a fine post up about rockets and spaceflight. This picture (above) caught my eye, or rather the numbers that go with it. NASA solicited bids for a satellite launch for next year. Three companies bid. Their proposed launch vehicles are shown in the picture above. The Astra Rocket 3 was the winning bid at $8 million dollars. How much did the other guys want? Rocketlab's Electron bid was higher, but SpaceX's bid was also $8 million dollars. How about them potatoes?

Saturday, March 20, 2021

War On Drugs

Philadelphia Street Scene

America’s Worst Drug Crisis Ever Is Causing The Streets Of Many U.S. Cities To Look Like A “Zombie Apocalypse” Has Arrived by Michael Snyder

Michael paints a gloomy picture of life in the big city. Yeah, well, big cities have big problems. But what are you going to do about it? Michael wants to stop the flow of illicit drugs into the US. Good luck with that. The government has been ruining countless people's lives since forever. I don't see anything changing anytime soon. Anyway, it prompted me to comment, and since I don't know whether it will ever see the light of day, I copy-pasted it here:

Securing the southern border, even if you could do it, is not going to do anything to reduce the drug problem. At best everything the DEA does simply insures that drug prices remain high enough that the drug dealers are making a good profit.

If you want to stop overdose deaths, end the COVID-19 lockdowns and put people back to work.

If you want to stop the production of fentanyl, you might want to think about making heroin legal. I mean, making it illegal hasn’t done anything to stop people using it. Of course, making it legal might very well cut into the American drug cartels’ profits, and we can’t have that.

Friday, March 19, 2021

You Say You Want a Revolution

The Beatles - Revolution
The Beatles

The introduction to this essay has some good advice for all wanna-be revolutionaries:
One of the flaws in the revolutionary mindset is a tendency towards overconfidence. Combine absolute belief in a new idea with a couple of early wins and you get an absurd level of cockiness. This leads the would-be revolutionary to underestimate the challenges involved in getting from there to ultimate victory.

Why? Because those early successes happened when hardly anyone was paying attention. Once the threat is recognized, the Empire usually strikes back with intent, and the revolution turns out to be a lot harder, and a lot less certain, than it seemed.

History is littered with examples of this principle, from 20th-century geopolitics (where the Nazis and Communists, at various times, each thought they had world domination in the bag) to investing, where the 1990s dot-coms were going to grow forever – until they collapsed under the weight of their own hubris — and 2006 home flippers thought they could build real estate empires without bothering to learn the business.

Which brings us to bitcoin. Its early success has been spectacular …

Then he continues talking about how this applies to bitcoin. Bitcoin is too flakey for my taste, besides which it's built on bullshit. I mean, we've got zillions of computers grinding away night and day to calculate the magic check sums that the block chain requires. How much power and money is being consumed simply to maintain what is basically an accounting ledger? It's ridiculous, and I won't even mention the Mt. Gox fiasco, or the zillions of dollars worth of bitcoin locked up in cryptocurrency wallets that will never be recovered because the owners forgot the password. Can you spell idiocy in boldface, capital letters?

I sent $100 to a crypto mining firm in Iceland a couple of years ago. I should check on it, see if there is anything there. Probably should pull my money out before the giant volcano hiding under the cryptofactory erupts and destroys the whole island.

P.S. The Beatles song Revolution came out in 1968. Hoo boy. I was in high school and the Vietnam war was looming in everyone's future.

Via ZeroHedge


All π


Looking over my program for computing the value of pi, I realized that the method I had labeled as 'classic' was actually a copy of the BBP method, so I set about correcting this mistake. Turns out the classic method (the infinite sum of alternating positive and negative fractions of ever decreasing magnitude) is poorly suited for implementation on a modern computer. Where all the other methods can calculate pi to the limit of the machine's precision in 25 steps or so, the classic method takes something like two trillion steps to get anywhere close. After a bit of futzing about, I find it gets pretty close after about two million steps. Up until then the difference between the computed value of pi and our reference value keeps getting smaller, but at that point it inexplicably gets larger. It starts getting smaller again, but nobody wants to wait for hours for a demo to run, so we call it quits.

Then I got to wondering just how do we know just what the digits of π are? A physical measurement is only going to get us a handful of digits. How do we know what the rest of the digits are? Well, you need to have a little faith. You come up idea of how it can be calculated, and then you implement that idea in a computer program, turn the machine on and let the program run. If it's a well behaved program it will run forever or until it runs into it's limitations (like my demo program) or it runs out of space to store the result. Asking for a zillion digits of π is like asking how far your car can drive. It's a machine and it will keep running until it breaks down. It's kind of pointless actually.

Still, it's a good exercise for the computationally inclined, kind of like target practice in archery.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

An Explanation for Everything

The Ridiculous Way We Used To Calculate Pi

I'm thinking about how calculating a zillion digits of π is like the intellectual equivalent of peacock feathers (I am sure I am quoting someone here), or as the bald guy (Professor Alex Kontorovich from Rutgers) says:

So this goes way beyond precision for any practical purpose, this is now a matter of flexing your muscles, this is showing off just how much mathematical power you have that you can work out a constant like π to very high precision.

Then it comes to me that what we all want is to be entertained, something that absorbs all of our attention, because when our attention is totally occupied, we don't concern ourselves with boring stuff. We are occupied and we are entertained. And nothing captures our attention better than competition. Trying to beat the other guy is what everyone is striving for. Sometimes it's just a matter of slipping in the right word to stab an opponent with a nasty insult, sometimes it's just an embellishment to your clothing to catch someone's eye, often it's a matter of making more money. Competitions can become heated and result in pushing, escalate into fighting and eventually boil over into war. And when we go to war, there is no end to the complexity of the weapons we build, and when you are building complex weapons you need math, and so you might want the guys who display the intellectual equivalent of peacock feathers helping out on designing weapons.

I'm watching this video and I realize that I wrote a program to compute π using several different techniques, one of which was very similar to the method used in the beginning of the video of cutting up a circle into triangles. I thought I had posted it earlier, but I could not find it on my blog. I rooted around on my computer and found it (it's from 2012). I posted it on github.

My program uses floating point numbers to perform the calculations, so it is going to be limited to only a few digits of pi. I should modify it to use the GMP math package so I can get as many digits as Ludolph did.

Be Alert for STEVE

Steve - Mark Duffy, March 13, 2021 @ Moose jaw Saskatchewan

STEVE--short for "Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement"--was long thought to be a type of aurora borealis. But it's not. Auroras appear when particles rain down from space. STEVE, on the other hand, does not require "rain." Instead, satellite measurements show that it is a ribbon of hot (3000°C) gas speeding through the upper reaches of Earth's magnetic field faster than 10,000 mph. The ribbon's purple hue is still a mystery; some research suggests the color comes from heated nitrogen, but the jury's still out.

Studies show that, while STEVE may be seen at any time of year, he appears most often in weeks around equinoxes--that is, now. If you live at high latitudes, be alert for purple ribbons in the sky. - SpaceWeather

Via Indy Tom


Monday, March 15, 2021

Uptown Funk You Up

A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School - Uptown Funk Dance

I don't think there was a single thing / moment I liked about high school, but that was a long time ago so maybe I've forgotten, or maybe I was just thoroughly sour back then. In any case, this video brought tears to my eyes.

I thought for sure I had previously posted the original, but all I can find is this Jewish parody.

Ohio Dream

Historic Marcy Store & Diner 
Yeah, kinda like this.

My brother Andy and I are sitting in a small restaurant somewhere in northwestern Ohio. We are there because we are in engaged in moving some family member's  furniture. The walls are knotty pine and the place is busy. A man with two small boys comes and sits down at our table as there is nowhere else to sit. The man has squeezed into the spot between Andy and the wall. Andy and I belatedly realize this and shift our chairs over to give him some more room. The boys are sitting at the opposite side of the table on a wooden booth seat. I am sitting at the end of the table on a chair.

We get to talking and Xenia, Ohio comes up as a point of reference. (There is a Xenia in western Ohio, though it is closer to Dayton than Toledo, which is where I imagined it in my dream.) 

Then the man starts telling us about a recent hunting experience where he shot an impressively large buck (deer). He tells us about the perfect site he found to watch for a deer, how he waits for hours for a deer to show up, how when he zooms in with his telescopic sight the deer's hoof fills his field of view, and when he zooms out, the deer's rack is enormous. Now he's so excited he can hardly stand it. There's another guy with him. He refers to him with a specific word like 'associate' or 'instructor' or something, but it has vanished from my mind. Now the conversation devolves into a mish-mash of impressions, but the general idea is pretty funny. And then I woke up.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Dr. Seuss

Today's Jumble

Today's Jumble features Dr. Seuss. Don't suppose their choice of topic has anything to do with the kerfuffle going on in the idiot sphere, do you?

Yes, I was able to unscramble the six words, but the phrase at the end has me stumped. The letters that need to be unscrambled are:


I put the vowels first and then the consonants, both in alphabetical order. Sometimes it helps.

The Death of Common Sense

Mental Lightning

The death of Common Sense begins with the words initiated by the morass of Bureaucracy couched in safety and security. Indeed, and according to past President Ronald Reagan, the most frightening words to hear in the English language are para ‘We’re here from the government and we’re here to help you!’ The underpinnings of such beginnings appear benign and with benign neglect the malignancy storms through, metastasizing arboreally through the veins of the entire system. The world is seeing such a death these days. -  CDC vs. Common Sense

The authors go on at length about the government's ham handed, foolish, clumsy, inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just in case you have any doubts about where I stand on this subject, let me just summarize: I firmly believe this COVID-19 pandemic is unadulterated, pure bullshit and government's actions have been directed by fools and idiots. Do not bother trying to change my mind, I will simply classify you as another idiot.


Rhymes with Orange

Another comic that got a laugh out of me this morning. Mothers never stop helping their children. Reminds me of Ma Barker. I'm not going to say anything about my family because whatever I say, I will get slammed for it.

Take It From The Tinkersons

Take It From The Tinkersons

Reminds me of me and my wife. We watch a lot of crime dramas and in many of them you don't know who-dun-it, so we speculate. It's curious the way they can make everyone look guilty, it might just be a shifty eyed expression or an inappropriate response. Sometimes we catch them in an outright lie though the coppers don't know it because we saw what really happened, i.e. we get to see only what the producers want us to see. The shows set in small towns seem to be worst on that score. Everyone in town is lying, but they are lying because of some kind of chickenshit beef they have with another person, totally unrelated to the crime. Slimeballs, the lot of them.

You know the people making these shows know exactly what they are doing. They probably have a catalog of suggestive clues they can use to muddy the trail. Sometimes the clues they drop point to everyone but the guilty party. La Mante (The Mantis) did just that. The good looking, friendly young woman in the red sweater turns out to be the killer. Her secret? She was a transsexual and all the victims were men who rejected her once they found out what she was. The actress is not, which might be how she fooled us.

Another Black Mark for The New York Times

Criticizing Public Figures, Including Influential Journalists, is Not Harassment or Abuse by Glenn Greenwald

Glenn takes on New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz and grinds her into dust, or would if he could. But she's on the inside and he's on the outside so it's doubtful anything will happen. Which reminds me of this song by The Outsiders:

The Outsiders - Time Won´t Let Me (1966)

P.S. I really didn't need to hear about Glenn's personal life, but I suppose the bit he reveals is pertinent to his argument.

Via ZeroHedge

Saturday, March 13, 2021

Three Swedish Jets

Saab 37 Viggen, Saab 35 Draken, Saab JAS 39 Gripen

The Saab 37 Viggen was built from 1970 to 1990. It was the first canard design produced in quantity. The Viggen was also the most advanced fighter jet in Europe until the introduction of the Panavia Tornado into operational service in 1981.

Viggen has two major meanings in Swedish. The first meaning translates as "thunderbolt". Traditionally the word refers to prehistoric stone axes found in the ground during the viking age. The scandinavian people of this period thought that these axes had been sent down to earth by the lightning strikes of the god Thor when he hunted giants with his war hammer Mjölnir. The second meaning refers to "vigg", the Swedish word for the tufted duck. This is in reference to its canard configuration as "canard" is French for duck.

The Saab 35 Draken (Dragon) was manufactured between 1955 and 1974. It was the first fully supersonic aircraft to be deployed in Western Europe and the first aircraft to do the Cobra maneuver.

Production of the Saab JAS 39 Gripen (Griffin) started in 1987 and is ongoing. The aircraft has a top speed of Mach 2.0.

Text paraphrased from Wikipedia articles.

Did you see what I heard?

McGurk effect - Auditory Illusion - BBC Horizon Clip

Scott Alexander has a good story about how your prior experiences can color what you perceive, so much so that you might not recognize what is right in front of you. It's a phenomena with wide ranging applications, from everyday conversation to phobias to extreme political positions. Forewarned is forearmed.

Via Detroit Steve

Pardo's Push

Pardo's Push: McDonnell F4 Phantom

Pretty good trick, and pretty nuts, but it worked. But then you've got to bail out, and things got a little rough then.

Ejection seats are nasty. They get you out of the airplane, but acceleration from the rockets that get you out is ferocious and pilots often suffer back injuries. I guess that's better than being dead, but geez, you'd think all our science and technology we could do a better job.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Unit 42

Unité 42 - Trailer - Netflix

Produced by Casa Kafka, so you know it's going to have some odd bits, like they start off mentioning that 42 is Douglas Adams' answer to everything. It's a pretty standard European crime show. We've got Sam, the middle aged white guy, whose in charge of the murder squad. His wife recently died. Then there is the crew:
  • Billie, an attractive young woman, recent graduate of the police academy and computer whiz. Her boyfriend also recently died under mysterious circumstances, so mysterious there was no body. I smell a resurrection in the offing. Billie rides a high power motorcycle. My kind of gal.
  • Bob, another middle aged white guy. Seems to be a solid cop, but he's the coffee and donut guy. Sometimes he decides it's your birthday and bakes a cake. I like cake. Bob also does sign language interpreting for 
  • the coroner, an attractive, deaf mute, young woman.
  • Nassim, a young, gay Arab, technically astute. I'm not sure what his role is. This last episode he was busy being an Arab, talking to other Arabs.
  • Helen, Sam's boss, a middle aged white woman. She makes a couple of brief appearances each episode.
  • Louis Vermeer, the head of counter terrorism group, or some such. Another middle-aged white guy. I think we've seen this guy exactly once, and we just finished episode 2.
Seems like there should be more people on the squad, but that's all that I can bring to mind.

The first episode was pure tittleation. It starts with Billie jumping up and down trying to get into her jeans. That was funny, but this is a crime show, so on with the crime. The bad guy hacks into young women's computers and spies on them, and then he sneaks up behind them while they are watching themselves on the computer and screen and too late they realize the killer has snuck up behind them and dropped a cord around their throat. Billie figures out who the killer is and Sam gets in his car and races to the victims apartment just in time to clonk the bad guy in the head with his gun and rescue the girl. Good job, Sam.

Never say Never Again, 1983, James Bond /Free Radicals 720p

Episode 2 takes on the issue of Muslim radicals. There is a disagreement among the radicals and the knives come out leaving three guys dead and two teenage girls arrested. Radicalism is a problem. Even a solitary free radical can wreak havoc in a peaceful society. That's why people keep cats, to get rid of the vermin. At least it used be. Maybe not so much in the new housing developments. I think we did have a mouse here once. As I recall, Gus (our cat) was not effective. I'm not sure how we got rid of him. Or maybe that was an escaped hamster. It's been a while. I should ask my wife.

Google Unit 42 and the Unit 42 website turns up. Seems to be all about computer security threats. What a coincidence since computer hacking seems to be the our squad's method of choice.

Netflix 18(!) Episodes, about 50 minutes each.

City of God

City of God (2002) Official Trailer - Crime Drama HD
Movieclips Classic Trailers

City of God is evidently some kind of government housing project for the homeless. Not much in the way of opportunity, but plenty of crime. The story follows several of the boys and men from this neighborhood. They are all pretty rotten, some more than others. The worst of them takes over the drug business for the whole neighborhood. He does this by killing all of the other drug dealers. But now that he is in charge, crimes of robbery and rape are stopped, which makes the residents happy. Sounds kind of like the Mexican drug cartels taking over the functions of government in the territories they hold.

I keep hoping for a character I care about, but only character who isn't a complete scumbag is the narrator and he does nothing. Well, he eventually becomes a photographer.

Blu-Ray DVD. In Brazilian slum-speak with English subtitles.

Arabic isn't just for Arabs



Victor Mair posts a story on Language Log about the numerous scripts used in writing in Indonesia. Seems not everyone uses the same writing for the same language. Some people in China use Arabic script to write Chinese. I think my whole language applecart has been upset. 

When I first learned about Chinese writing way back in elementary school, the idea I got was that each pictograph was a symbol for something, like there could be a symbol for a horse and a symbol for running and if you put the two together they meant 'running horse'.

Sometime recently (like since I retired), I got the idea that pictographs also represented sounds, which was unrelated to the name of symbol. So if you took the sounds from the horse and running symbols you might get a completely unrelated word, like 'dog butt'. 

Now I'm really confused. When someone says 'dog butt', are they talking about a dog butt, or are they talking about a running horse? And how they heck would you know? Well, if you grew up speaking Chinese it would be obvious, well, I hope it would be.

But through all this, I thought Chinese pictographs were used for the Chinese language and Arabic script was used for the Arabic language. But evidently that is not always the case. Could you write an English sentence using Arabic script, and if you could, could anybody understand it? We have English spellings of some Arabic words / names in the news, but they are pretty meaningless as they seem to be full of apostrophes and the apostrophes are all in places that would never show up in an English word.

Me, I think we should call the Northern Capital of China Peking like Hollywood intended.

Thursday, March 11, 2021


Clackamas DEQ station inspector Doug Hatfield uses a mirror to look under a vehicle. - Boyd/The Oregonian

If you live the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, your car has to pass an emissions test before you can renew your vehicle registration (license plates). The DEQ (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality) handles the testing. They are not the same as the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), who handle the registration.

It used to be that you had to drive to a DEQ test facility and they would inspect and test your car. Back in the bad old days (25 years ago?) it was quite an ordeal. They had rollers embedded in the floor of the test station, kind of like a dynamometer. You drive in until the drive wheels are on the rollers. They would look under the hood and look under the car using a mirror, stick a probe up the tail pipe, then you put the car in drive and step on the gas until the big meter hanging on the wall says 1500 and hold it there for a minute. Then, if your car passed, which most modern cars did, they collected your money, stamped your paperwork, handed over the precious stickers and sent you on your way.

ODB-II Connector and Pinout

Later, when automakers had gotten the computer controls sorted out, they dispensed with the visual inspections and physical testing and simply plugged their computer into the diagnostic port in your car. The computers did their little robotic handshake / dance and then you went through the paper and payment process as before.

This year we have a new deal: DEQ Too. Now you don't have to go to the actual DEQ test facility, you can take your car to your local shop, and if they are connected, they can do the DEQ test right there.

My wife's car needed an oil change, so I took it Clays Auto Service and they ran the test for which they charged me $25. Now all I need to do is go online and I can complete the registration, and here's where things went south.

I go to the website and I pay the DEQ fee (what? Didn't I just pay that? No, silly, that was the other DEQ fee.), then I have to go through this annoying identification procedure with the DMV only to find out that I cannot renew the registration because it is not my car. It's my wife's car. WTF. Fine, get my wife and all her magic numbers, and try again, and now my credit card is declined. Double WTF. Double fine, double trouble, double, bubble, toil and trouble, I'll just write a check and mail in the form. Ha, silly boy, not that simple. To do that you need a DEQ certificate. Great, there is no such animal. Only the great DEQ computer in the sky knows that the car has passed the test, and it isn't telling nobody nothin'.

Stay tuned for part two, wherein this situation is resolved or I am hauled off to the loonie bin.


Me in 3D

Friend on mine emailed me this morning to let me know that someone has apparently hacked my Facebook account and is using my name in vain. I don't really care, I haven't used Facebook in years, but I suppose I ought to secure my account. I mean, taking my name in vain! How dare they! Where the heck did I stash my lightning bolts?

Ezekiel 25:17 - Pulp Fiction (3/12) Movie CLIP (1994) HD

So I try to logon on to Facebook and I fail because I have no idea what my password is, so we go through the usual forgot-your-password routine where they send a secret code to my email. That only gets us through the first barrier, now Facebook wants to confirm my identity, so they put up the names and photos of five friends who I am supposed to call and ask them for secret codes. Yeah, that ain't gonna happen, even if I knew these five people, which I don't. I sort of recognized one of the names, but the rest of them are complete strangers.

There is another method, you can upload a photo ID like a copy of your driver's license or passport, which sounds worse than handing over your Social Security number, but Facebook is a good corporate citizen, they wouldn't use my driver's license for any nefarious purposes, would they? It happens I already have a scanned copy of my driver's license so I upload it but it's not good enough. They want an image that is at least 1500 pixels wide. I could take a photo with my phone, but I still haven't figured out how to take close ups of small objects that are well focused. (I get them sometimes, but it's mostly a matter of luck and a lot of messing about.) I also have a scanner that claims to have a high resolution mode that will scan at 600 dots per inch. Let's try that.

Load my driver's license into the scanner and point and click and I have a high res image on the screen. The scanning software won't crop anything that small so I use Pix to cut it down to size. I was a little worried that the image would not be large enough for facebook, I mean the driver's license is only a couple of inches wide. Times that by 600 and you are only up to 1200 pixels. I check the dimensions and it's fine.

Now I upload it and Facebook ignores it. It's like it doesn't even see it. Might be the wrong format, though that seems unlikely being as everyone and their mother seems to be able to handle most any kind of image format you have. Whatever, I'll try again later, if I remember.

Poking around I come across their requirements for the photo and I realize that the smaller image probably would have worked if it just a big fat border around it. Curse my compulsive image cropping.

While we are on the subject of ID's, Home Depot has some new tech. I returned a bunch of doo-dads and gee-gaws the other day and while most of it went back on my credit card (which they remembered, which was nice because the receipts had long since dried up and blown away), some of the refund went on the store-credit card, which is fine because a week doesn't go by that I'm spending a zillion dollars for materials for the next phase of my new house remodeling project. The clerk wants to see my driver's license for the store-credit, doesn't need it for the stuff that is going back on the credit card, but for store-credit she does. Now when I want to buy something using store-credit, I use the scanner to scan the store-credit card, but then I also have to scan the barcode on the back of my driver's license.

Barcodes on back of Oregon driver's license

No, not that one, not the one that looks like a normal barcode, scan the one that looks like a scrambled mess of black and white dots. That's the one they want. After some digging I turned up this video that goes into all the gory details.

How to Decode PDF417 Barcodes | Dynamsoft Tutorials

The scrambled mess is a PDF417 barcode . It encodes all of the information on the front of the card. The AAMVA  (American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators) adopted it for driver's licenses. Huh, another organization that I've never heard of. Probably in cahoots with the cabal of evil motherfuckers that are trying to ruin our lives by making everything easier.