Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

Peppermint

Peppermint Angel of Death Mural

Originally written almost four months ago but not posted for some reason.

If you look at the basic elements of tonight's movie (Peppermint), it is nearly identical to the one we watched last night (AVA): tough girl knocking down swaths of bad guys. But AVA (trailer here) was just action, if there was a story there I don't remember what it was. Peppermint (trailer here) on the other hand sucked me in and kept me glued to the screen for the entire show. Okay I had to stop a couple of times for personal reasons, but hey, I'm old. Gimme a break.

The first part of the movie was about the wonderful home life a young family has. It goes on for quite a while, much longer than I am used to seeing in these bad-things-happen-to-good-people movies. I was a little anxious because I knew something bad was going to happen. I sort of wanted to get the happy family episode over with so we could get to the mayhem and carnage, but I waited and eventually we got there. And boy, howdy, did we get there. Made me think of Tamara Keel going through a shoot house.

There were some parts of the action section of the movie that were over the top, or just too perfect, or a little surprising that they provided some comic relief. It was great.

The story is basically the same one that's been told about the War On Drugs for the last umpteen years, and that is the drug cartels are force of their own, fueled by profits made from selling drugs to Americans who can't seem to get enough of them.

I can understand why a drug cartel needs to be brutal. It's how those in power maintain their power. We have a government of the people. Our ancestors got together and decided we needed a justice system to punish people who injured our community. That justice system works because it has power to punish miscreants. 

Jennifer Garner is not related to James Garner, even though they have the same last name, the same first initial and they are both play tough guys on TV.

Star Trek Science

HMS Vanguard

A few years ago a couple of big military submarines bumped into each. They were from different countries. Each received some damage, and nobody died, but neither was aware of what they had run into. An errant shipping container was the initial suspect. It wasn't until much later when they compared notes that they realized they had run into each other.

Submarines are like monsters sleeping in the deep. Unseen, hidden in the depths of the ocean, it's easy to forget they even exist. Should they awaken in bad mood they could wreak devastation that would make Godzilla look tame.

A fair portion of the world's economy is being siphoned off to support this insanity, but that's to be expected from a world filled with crazy people. While most people don't waste a minute of time thinking about them, there is a tight cadre of people who devote their lives to thinking about these machines, and a good deal of that thought revolves around detection and escaping detection. Detection is mostly done with sound waves, either with active SONAR (the ping you hear in the movies) or passive, which basically means just listening. Well, listening with a microphone, and then feeding the signal to some sophisticated DSP (Digital Signal Processing) systems to try and make sense of it.

Escaping detection basically means making the submarine quieter, which ranges from all kinds of sound deadening materials to sophisticated propeller designs. I remember there was some kind of brouhaha a few years ago over some fancy machine tools getting shipped to a communist country, tools that would enable them to carve super fancy, super quiet propellers for their submarines.

Some people are looking for ways to detect submarines from the air or even space. I found this paper from Australia that looks at several of the techniques being explored. Most of them seem to be right on the edge of being practical. They sound as esoteric as the scanner sweeps being done by Geordi or Will on Star Trek


Thursday, April 29, 2021

You Suck

Quote of the day from RobertaX:

The only instinct human beings are born with is sucking.  A good many never get much past that. 

 

Life Imitates Art

Rédoine Faïd Wanted Poster

GQ has the story. Rédoine Faïd, a real life master criminal and jailbreak artist got his schemes from the movies. Great stuff. Rédoine has appeared here before. Now that I know he is from Algeria, he reminds me of the movie A Prophet, likewise about an Algerian immigrant in France who becomes a master criminal.

Via Schneier on Security


Mecano - Hijo de la luna


Mecano - Hijo de la luna
CANAL MECANO

The title of the song in English is Son of the Moon and tells the tragic story of an albino child born to dark skinned parents. This the second (or third) Spanish language song I have posted and both are tragic. Is this because the Latin music industry is riddled with tragedy? Or maybe Spanish songs only make it in the English world if they are tragic. Something funny going on there. Spain and Latin America celebrate the Day of the Dead, but northerners do not.

The name of the band is apparently taken from the English version of Erector construction toys.

Bodyguard


Bodyguard | Official Trailer [HD] | Netflix
Netflix 6 one-hour episodes

All spoilers.

Tough guy David Budd leads a fantastically charmed life. He spots a brown person behaving suspiciously at the a railroad station and subsequently foils a suicide bomber. Then he gets assigned to the Home Secretary in the UK's government as her PPO (Personal Protection Officer). One evening he's drinking with a badly scarred veteran. Not too much later that same veteran attempts to take out the Home Secretary with a high powered rifle. David foils this assassination attempt and his drinking buddy ends up dead. Then the Home Secretary decides to make a speech at St. Matthews and she gets blowed up. In spite of rushing toward the threat, David escapes getting hisself blowed up. Like I said, he lives a charmed life. Anyway, there's something fishy going on. Someone tampers with his hidden gun. Someone erases 17 minutes of security footage from the hotel's security cameras. There are any number of suspicious characters, but whodunnit? 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. On the good side, technical matters were pretty accurately depicted. On the bad side, the amount of brutality and the convoluted plot beggar belief. Yes, it could have happened like that as long as that was the single incidence within 10,000 years on this planet.

We've got a tough guy bodyguard. We've got him looking prim and proper, ready and willing to take on any bad guy who is dares to step out of line. On the other side, he's got a bad case of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, but he's a tough guy, he won't go to counseling, he can handle it. He can apparently handle it at work but it's wrecking his home life.

He's assigned to the Home Secretary (some sort of high level government official in the UK (England)), a middle aged woman. They have a routine for transporting her from home to work and wherever else she goes. They have a two car convoy and are in constant radio communication with a central control station. They are walking out of the building and it's "2-79 dogbutt road Lavender leaving" or "2-79 dogbutt road Lavender en route" or some such. None of this 'good day, hi, how are ye' nonsense, Lavender being the Home Secretary's code name, dogbutt being my code name for whatever street they were on. And note this was radio communication, not cell phones. 

Whenever she goes home or someplace unknown, he always makes her wait by the door while he makes a quick survey of the place. All a quick survey like that is going to do is verify that no one else is in the house and someone hasn't busted a window. Something like this only works if you have a house that can be surveyed in couple of minutes. I imagine if you went to someplace that was much bigger, you would have to establish limits, mark all the points of egress and ingress into 'your space'. The more you can limit them the better.

The show has all the high ranking police officials as women. Our tough guy's boss is a woman, as is her boss. There are several other women. The men are just like background in this story. I remember one male, Indian policeman, the rest are just noise.

Lavender is trying to get a bill passed in Parliament that would give the government broader powers of surveillance. She wants it because it will help in her fight against terrorism. Little does she know, the local crime lord is opposed to it because it will also expose his crimes to the light of day, and we certainly can't have that, so he devises a plot to assassinate the Home Secretary and frame the Bodyguard for the crime. You know this was dreamed up in some opium smoker's lair.

First, he gets a brown skinned couple to play jihadist. We don't see much of the man, but because he obviously forced his wife to where the suicide vest, we know he must be an evil misogynistic Muslim, and his fifteen year old wife is totally under his control. They stage a suicide bomber attack on a train, the very train that our tough guy bodyguard is riding home with his kids. David talks the woman into surrendering, the bomb is disarmed and she and her husband are arrested.

Next we have a fellow vet from Afghanistan with a badly scarred face. He's ranting about Julia's bill and how something should be done to stop her. He takes a high-powered rifle to the top of six story building and puts a couple dozen rounds into Julia's armored lux-mobile. The first one kills the driver (yes, the driver, separate from the bodyguard), the remainder break out the glass in the windows and punch holes in the sides, but because the sides are armored, they don't go through, so our hapless couple manage to escape relatively unscathed. The armored coppers take their time getting there, so our hero ends up driving the car out of the scene. Were the armored coppers somehow delayed? I mean, how soon can you expect them to get there from X miles away? I think they would take at least a couple of minutes and maybe a lot longer. And you're in a high stress situation so every second feels like an eternity. Any delay when you are getting shot at is going to seem unreasonable. The shooter ends up shooting himself with a handgun. Two guns, in the UK. It's a friggin' miracle. But wait! There's more - the big gun can't be traced, but our guy, who knows what's what, knows where to go to find out, which entrains a whole 'nother series of events. The lady is understandable shook up and seeks comfort and reassurance in the embrace of her bodyguard which, naturally enough, leads to frolicing. 

The attack with the high powered rifle failed, but our hero has been involved in two high profile incidents. Could he somehow be involved? People start looking sideways.

There are several more incidents, I'm not quite sure what order they happened in, but I don't think it matters much. One has a counter-terrorism squad following a known bunch of jihadi-wanna-be's who pick up a truck and head for the school David's kids attend. The attack fails. The wanna-be's truck crashes a hundred yards from the school and blows up, killing the jihadi's and a couple of coppers. Once again, another high-profile incident involving our hero. Shit's getting deep, man.

David falls in a mental hole and attempts suicide by shooting himself in the head with his handgun. The attempt fails because someone replaced the bullets with blanks. He survived, presumably because his handgun was some kind of weak sister, not a 45 like a real man [tm] would carry. I remember that umpteen years ago, some B-level Hollywood actor was playing Russian Roulette with his friends using a 44 Magnum or some such, loaded with blanks. It went off and even though there were no bullets, the blast from the charge was enough to kill him. So now David is walking around with the side of his face covered with blood and what looks a bullet sized dent in the side of his head.

Then there is another attack on the Home Secretary. This one happens while she is giving a speech at St. Mathews church. There is bomb planted under the stage. It's a pretty fancy bomb. The bomb squad thinks it must have been sealed in an airtight container. How else could it have escaped detection by the bomb sniffing canines when the place was swept, twice, before the speech. From the bits and pieces they recovered they surmise that is was set off by a pressure sensor. They logically deduce that it must also have had a remote control to arm it so that it would not be set off prematurely by some errant janitor or other person we don't care about. But the lady gets up on the stage without setting off the bomb, so they send a hapless underling to deliver a briefcase to the Secretary. David and another security person, a woman, both rush the stage when they see the underling walking toward the secretary, though we don't know why. Possibly because the woman wasn't informed about this and David because the woman was running. The bomb goes off as he is walking across the stage. Anyway, the Secretary, the underling and the security woman are all killed in the blast, presumably along with several other people. And David was there. Again. By this time, any agency with a brain would have suspended this guy, and maybe they do, but that ain't stopping him.

Now we get to the climax. Chanel, a pert young woman, formerly employed by the Secretary and escorted out the building when she blew up at the secretary when she got fired / quit. She evidently has independent means because a driver picks her up and carries her around in big black Range Rover. Turns out she has ties to the big time crime boss. She meets the unsuspecting David for drinks at a nice public restaurant, but it's a set up. The crime boss and a couple of his thugs corral David and hustle him out the front door, apologizing to the other patrons that he has a had a bit too much to drink. I'm not quit sure how they disabled him, a hypodermic or maybe chloroform. Whatever it was it was pretty quick acting and didn't attract much attention from the public. David probably gets beat up, but he's been beat so many times it's gotten to be a bit of a blur. 

Whatever, he wakes up dumped in some rat hole, strapped into a suicide vest with a dead man switch taped to his thumb. If he releases pressure on the switch, the bomb goes off, so don't take the tape off. Anyway, he stumbles out into the street, his suicide vest concealed under a poncho he has improvised from some some kind tarp he found, manages to get a passerby to call the police. Meanwhile the police have decided that he is totally wrapped up with the bad guys and now they descend on him in force. We have a Mexican stand-off. If they shoot him, his thumb relaxes, the bomb goes off and ilya beaucoup de destruction hits the neighborhood, so they march him to a nearby park where the only damage will be to sum bushes and trees. Now the bomb squad shows up but they don't want to tackle defusing this bomb. Wimpy bomb squad. This stand off goes of for what feels like hours. The producers really milked it for every little bit of pseudo pathos they could. Pretty stinking ridiculous. The wife manages to save her husband by walking right up to him. If they shoot him and the bomb goes off, she dies, and while the po-po don't mind if the miscreant blows himself up, they can't have any civilians getting killed, so they wait.

David and his wife walk to their house surrounded by a battalion of police maintaining a safe blast distance. David sends his wife into the house for a rope and shovel. She takes the rope and climbs down the wall on the other side of parapet that is on the other side of the road from their house. She digs up a computer tablet that contains all the secret information that everyone is supposedly trying to keep hidden, carries it back up and turns it over to the police.

David disarms his bomb. While he is doing this he is hollering for everyone to get back like they aren't already half a mile away, but evidently his hollering causes enough panic that they start moving even farther back and in the confusion David finishes defusing the bomb and leaps over the parapet, discards his suicide vest and vanishes into the bushes. In central London. Sure, why not?

David sets up Chanel the same way she set him up and gets her to get the crime boss to show up whereupon he gets arrested. And everyone lives happily ever after. Except his boss's boss, who was dirty.

Now we go visit the poor, exploited, 15 year-old, jihadist wife and find out that she is a fanatic in her own right and was in on the scheme from the get-go. She exults in all the carnage she managed to create. Did not see that coming.


Fatma


Fatma | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

A great little Turkish series about a mousy little woman who gets pushed over the edge by life. Her autistic son is hit by a car and dies. Her husband abandons her. He gets our of jail but instead of coming home he disappears. Later she finds out that everyone knew where her husband was but nobody would tell her. Seems he collected the blood money for their son and ran off. Her landlord is harassing her with weird phone calls. She reacts like everyone wants to, but most of us don't. Her rampage goes undetected for a long time because she is so withdrawn she is almost invisible. Nobody expects the cleaning lady to be a violent homicidal maniac.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Colonel Robert G. Emmens


Col. Robert G. Emmens 2013
Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum

I was cleaning out my email today when I discovered a message that Posthip Scott sent me a year ago. It's a photocopy of an article about Mr. Emmens. The copy was of rather poor quality, I could read it if I put my mind to it, but it is not something I want to inflict on either of my followers. I uploaded it to Google Drive if you want to give it a try.

OCR

My first thought was to run it through an OCR program and see if it would generate something I could work with. I tried an online OCR service and I also tried Google Docs. The online service did better than Google. The online service recognized that the text was laid out in columns and if you selected DOCX format for the output, it did a creditable job of copying the layout. If you select text output, you get the same result as you get from Google, which is that it's all run together. The first line of the second column is appended to the first line of the first column, which means it's a lot of work to take it apart and reconstitute it as plain text. The DOCX format was superior, but it still wasn't all that great. I worked through half a dozen paragraphs before I decided to see if maybe somebody else had already done this. 

Other Resources

I found several mentions, but they all pointed back to Wikipedia, which has a pretty good article about him. Then I remembered YouTube. I found several videos about the Dolittle Raid, and this one (above) about Colonel Emmens.

30 Seconds Over Tokyo

I remember reading 30 Seconds over Tokyo, a story about the raid, when I was a lad. It was a great story. It's about one crew and their airplane that went on that raid. They crash landed in China like most of the other bombers and the author lost his leg. I don't remember how the story of how he lost his leg was related in the book, but I remember my father telling me about a guy who had dug a hole and burned his gangrenous leg off in the hole. I don't know how that worked, I'm just trying to include all the relevant words I remember.

Map

Dolittle Raid. Launch point in red.
Vladisotok, Russia, upper left. Chuchow, China, lower left.
 

I got the destination of Chuchow from one of the YouTube videos. I wondered why they didn't go north, because China is right across the border from Vladivostok and Vladivostok is a heck of lot closer than Chuchow and then I remembered that all that area was probably occupied by the Japanese. Likewise the coastal areas of China around Shanghai were probably under Japanese control. So, Chuchow is farther but hopefully you won't get a hostile reception.

Back to Colonel Emmens

I suspect the reason Posthip sent me this article is because Colonel Emmens is from Medford, Oregon. Medford is what passes for a big town in southern Oregon. It is not far from the border with California. Colonel Emmens returned to Medford when he retired from the Air Force. He took up piano and became a real estate broker.

Osprey


USAF Boeing/Bell CV-22B Osprey 10-0053 blowing up Addenbrooke's Hospital Helipad
Trailspotter

I've seen numerous videos of the Osprey in action, but I never heard the rotors so clearly as in this video.


Magic Comedy


HUGUES PROTAT - LA MULTIPLICATION DES BOUTEILLES - LE PLUS GRAND CABARET DU MONDE
Patrick Sébastien

I've watched this routine several times. It's still very funny and I still haven't figured out where all those bottles are coming from. Yes, it's in French, but you don't need to understand any of what he says to appreciate his act. I certainly don't understand him.


Point in Space


New spherical flexure joint designs (compliant mechanisms)
Jelle Rommers

When I first watched this, I didn't understand what was going on. He's got some flexible stuff and it flexs. So what? And then I noticed that the point on the rod wasn't moving. That's a pretty neat trick. Not sure what you could use it for, but then I've been conditioned to think of ball joints as using an actual ball. I'm sure we will soon see applications for this idea.

The video maker will also have a paper published in the Precision Engineering journal in September of 2021. We know this because through the magic of time travel we have access to a copy now.

Via Dennis, who has a penchant for squirrely stuff like this.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Ilyushin Il-76

Ilyushin Il-76 at Eindhoven

Gee, that looks familiar. Eindhoven is in the Netherlands. The IL-76 has been here before.

Russia

Police officers stand guard during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition activist Alexey Navalny in the centre of Moscow, Russia. © Sputnik; (inset) Alexei Navalny © AFP / KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV

From a story on RT by Glenn Diesen, Professor at the University of South-Eastern Norway:

Russia’s turbulent history has largely been defined by revolutionary change. The past millennium has been siloed into fragmented periods – from the Kievan Rus, the Mongol state, Muscovite Russia, Peter the Great’s Cultural Revolution, the Great Reforms following the Crimean War, the democratic change of 1905, the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, and the liberal success in 1991. The fragmented history has been disruptive and destructive as each period made a break with the former. The enduring legacy has been competing visions of Russia’s future and the reliance on authoritarian governance for stability.

This reminds me that I don't know much about the history of Russia. I knew that the Bolshevik revolution happened in the early 20th century, the Tsar and his family were executed, and there was some kind of civil war between the Red army and the White army. I saw Dr. Zhivago so I know it's cold and it's good to have furs when it's cold. There was some dude named Rasputin who exerted an evil influence over the Tsar. I read about Peter the Great in Neal Stephenson's Baroque Trilogy. There was the Charge of the Light Brigade where a British cavalry charge in Crimea was destroyed. I put up a post about a naval battle fought in the Black Sea between Russia and Turkey sometime in the 19th century. I saw One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich so I know about harsh conditions in Gulags. I've seen nearly all of the James Bonds movies so I know that KGB agents are vicious and ruthless. I watched several episodes of The Americans which portrayed Soviet spies as even more ruthless, so ruthless I had to stop watching it.

Ok, so I know a little more than I thought, but these are just highlights (or low lights). But I don't have a big picture view.


RIP Linda Heller

Linda Corder

Kerrville-Linda Phyllis Corder died peacefully at home in Kerrville, Texas, surrounded by her loving family on Saturday, June 5th, 2010. She was born September 4th, 1954 in Paris, France to Joseph Heller and Hannelore (Abee) Heller. - from an internet obituary

Linda was my wife's roommate back when we lived in Austin. We kept in touch after we moved to Phoenix, but those contacts became more and more infrequent. We just found out that she passed away eleven years ago. 

She was a good looking woman, but hard. She had standards, no slackers allowed. I was only allowed in their apartment because I had a decent job and could pay my own bills. As I recall she managed a district for a large chain of small, retail clothing stores. That may have contributed to her hardness, or maybe it was her personality that allowed her to succeed in that business.


Monday, April 26, 2021

Analog Paradise

Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter cockpit

I've got nothing to say, the title says it all. The Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter first flew in 1947. This one is in a museum in Spain.


Shadow and Bone


Shadow and Bone | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

Pretty good mix of steam punk and magical forces. The setting is like 1900 Russia. We've got soldiers dressed in cold weather gear and carrying long bolt action rifles. No motor vehicles, but we do have one secret, steam-powered train. We have the Grisha who are people with magical powers, each one has a particular talent. We have healers, fireball throwers, big pushers, heartrenders, tailors, etc. Kids are tested when they are young to see if they have any secret talents and those that do are carted off to be trained at the 'little palace'. We've got a chaste young couple in the army who managed to evade the testing when they were kids because they didn't want to be separated, but now the girl is found to have the greatest superpower of them all. The guy is still an unknown quantity, but I suspect his hidden talent is going to be unmasked very soon.

We have battles between the Grisha with their magical forces and the bad guys with their guns and they are pretty brutal, neither side has an overwhelming advantage. Production values are pretty great, though the sailing ship in the storm and some of outdoor winter scenes are a little weak. As with many of the dramas we've seen recently, the heroes often suffer wounds and injuries that appear to be fatal but somehow they manage to recover with a bit of stitching and a little mud plaster.

8 episodes about 50 minutes each. Thoroughly entertaining.

P.S. I use the word 'pretty' entirely too often. I need to find a better way of expressing myself. Nah, pretty is good enough.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

Stinson Junior

Stinson Junior SM-8A

This aircraft apparently belongs Yellowbird Aviation. They offer rides in a couple of vintage aircraft. They're based in Deer Park, Arizona, a northern suburb of Phoenix. I used to work at the Intel facility there.

The Stinson Junior dates to the late 1920's. This one carries four people.

I don't know anything about Portland Airways (the name painted on the side of the airplane), but there used to be an airport on Swan Island in Portland. It's all industry and railroads now.

That protrusion on the leading edge of the right wing might be a landing light, which makes me wonder when landing lights were introduced, but I'm not going down that rathole right now.

My gawd! Restraint! What was he thinking?

Czech Ammo Depot Blast

Back in 2014 there was a ammo depot blast in the village of Vrbetice, Czech Republic. It might have been an accident, but recently someone has floated the theory that Russian agents were behind it. Which leads to this incredible statement:

Czech President Milos Zeman delivered an extraordinary televised address on Sunday, breaking his silence on the scandal that has been raging for over a week. Zeman said he paused before speaking on the row to have a “cool head,” and had some “analysis” done before making his opinion public. - RT

Vrbetice is about 100 miles northeast of Vienna, Austria.

More Good News from NASA and SpaceX

SpaceX Falcon rocket and Dragon Crew capsule on their way
 to the ISS (International Space Station) - Trevor Mahlmann

The Silicon Greybeard has a report on the latest launch of a SpaceX rocket. Good news all around.

The above photo is just nuts. It must have taken some planning, and Trevor would have had to be quick on his feet to capture the entire arc of the launch AND the palm trees.


Saturday, April 24, 2021

Barbarella

Barbarella


Vanilla Drone


Vanilla land-launched unmanned aerial vehicle participates in UxS IBP
Defence Blog
"As noted by the company, Vanilla UAS has demonstrated world-record endurance, and is capable of multi-mission beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations providing days of time-on-target or thousands of miles of search capacity on a single flight." - Defence Blog

Small drones can be carried and launched by a single man, but their endurance is not that great. Using a truck for launching could be done most anywhere you have a road.


Brave New World, Motherfuckers

Former post office workers celebrate outside the Royal Courts of Justice, London, after having their convictions overturned by the Court of Appeal - PA Media

Ever since COVID-19 hit, I've been seeing stories coming out of the UK about their draconian enforcement measures, and every time I heard one of those stories I said 'I'm glad I don't live there'. Of course the stories you hear on the internet are often extreme examples of bad behavior and may not be giving you an accurate portrayal of the situation.

But this one! Good Lord almighty, the Queen needs to bring the smack down on the Postmaster General (or whatever they call him over there). Hanging would be too good.

The gist of it is that the UK post office was using some bullshit accounting software, and the jackasses in charge concluded postal workers were stealing, so they prosecuted, convicted  and jailed them.

Many of the crime shows we watch these days start with simple crimes and work their way to corruption in high places. Once upon a time I used to think these plots were pure fiction, concocted for our entertainment. Now I am thinking they are more like documentaries except that in the TV shows the heroes prevail and the villains get punished.

This story came to me from RT, but on the chance it was pure Putin propaganda, I Googled it and got a bunch of results. The BBC is not completely trustworthy, but they haven't been completely discredited, so I used their photo. RT's story has more teeth.



Friday, April 23, 2021

Chia Cryptocurrency

Hard Drives

Tom's Hardware has a story about how Chia Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are causing a shortage of high capacity hard drives. Near as I can make out, it works something like Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in that you get paid when you deliver a magic number that somehow certifies a block of transactions. Remember, all these blocks of transactions are simply anonymous financial ledgers. You can see all the transactions, but the 'who' is just a number, numbers that are only know to their owners.

Anyway, whenever one of these blocks of transactions gets filled up, it needs a magic number to certify it. Blockchain uses a mathematical formula, but it's a one way formula. The result needs to meet certain criteria. To meet those criteria, you need to feed it a fudge factor. You give the formula a fudge factor, compute the answer and if it meets the requirements you're done. More likely it won't, so you need to run it again with a different fudge factor. It might take you a zillion tries before you get a satisfactory result and by that time someone else has probably already got the answer and collected the reward. This scheme is called proof of work and resulted in the shortage of high end GPU's (Graphics Processing Units, i.e. video cards) and the consumption of zillions of kilowatts of electricity.

This new scheme, Chia, uses proof of space (as opposed to proof of work). Near as I can tell, Chia miners fill up the unused space on their hard drives with magic numbers and whenever a new block of transactions needs a magic number, they look on their hard drive for a matching one. Whoever gets closest wins. If the  numbers are as large as I imagine, there isn't enough space in the universe to hold them all. There is certainly some arcane computing involved as well. Anyway, the guy with the most storage space is most likely to win.

Idiotic schemes seem to be proliferating. Ponzi schemes, cryptocurrency and MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) are all garbage in my book. 

I do wonder how many people are actually working on cryptocurrency mining. I think what we have is a more computer savvy people than we have legitimate work and the surplus are finding their way into various illegitimate schemes, like crypto, ransomware, credit card fraud and straight up hacking.

Via Indy Tom.

De Havilland Canada Twin Otter on Skis

De Havilland Canada Twin Otter taking off from Fossil Bluff Skiway



Aluminum Extrusion

5000 ton Horizontal Extrusion Press circa WW2 - Gloucestershire Archives

A comment on daily timewaster got me to wondering when aluminum extrusion was first realized. The answer is 1904. No pictures of that one, but I found this curious illustration. It appears to have been taken from a photograph and then all the parts of the picture that were not the machine were faded.


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Pentium Pin

Intel P5 Pentium Processor Chip Lapel Pin (1994)

My wife was clearing out some obscure corner and came across an Intel Penitum Processor that had been made into a tie-tac, or lapel pin. I presume I must have got it when I worked there, but I sure don't remember it. I took a picture of it but it was too fuzzy to show much detail, so I Googled it and turned up this image.


Pic of the Day

Bride's Attire / Ivan Semenovich Kulikov (1875-1941)

Surprise! No Wikipedia page about Ivan. Art places seem to know about him.

Beriev A-50

Beriev A-50

The Beriev A-50 is the Russian AWACS (Airborne Warning And Control System). The Soviets built 40 of them since 1984. We say 'Russian' and 'Soviet' but that was just who was claiming to be in charge. Beriev, the company that built them, is based in Taganrog, a city on the north shore of the Sea of Azov, which is like a sub-sea of the Black Sea.

Those engines don't look big enough to push this ungainly monster into the sky.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Two Bastille Days?

Storming of The Bastille, Jean-Pierre Houël, 1789

"The aristocracy may have been slightly out of touch in 18th-century France but they were giants of insight in comparison to American "progressives" and race baiters." - read it all

Stolen entire from Hatless in Hattiesburg

 

Missile Perspective

New Lunar Starship design

Biggish money:

A maintainer looks over a Minuteman III in a silo about 60 miles from Grand Forks AFB, N.D., in 1989. - U.S. Air Force

There are about 400 Minuteman missiles remaining in our arsenal. They stand about 60 feet tall and are five and half feet in diameter, so they are relatively tiny compared to SpaceX's Starship which is like 400 feet tall and 30 feet in diameter. The volume of a Starship is about 200 times the volume of a Minuteman. Still big enough to enough to deliver nuclear bombs to Russia. The current version dates back to the Apollo Moon landing project. Wikipedia knows all.

Update a couple of hours later: reformatted first paragraph so that the three links could be seen as separate and not just one giant link.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Javascript Graphics

Trying my hand at graphics using javascript.

// Oh no! Your browser doesn't support canvas!

I Knew It Was Aliens!

ITSY BITSY ALIENS - 3000AD/SHUTTERSTOCK

Comment from Fenrir on The Gibraltar Massacre:

Covid-19 is the avian flu (mycobacterium avium + its passenger viruses such as sars-cov-x; the real pathogenic agent is M. avium). The avian flu comes from the atmosphere, raining down on the surface of the Earth, that is why the masks and lockdowns are useless. This cometary dust was observed by astrobiologists back in November 2019:

“On October 11 2019 a meteoritic bolide (probably fragment of a comet) explodes in a brief flash in Nth East China. We think it probable that this bolide contained embedded within it a monoculture of infective nCoV-2019 virus particles that survived in the interior of the incandescent meteor.”

https://cosmictusk.com/wickramasinghe-predicted-coronavirus-pandemic-in-november-2019/

On November 25th, 2019, Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe made the following stark warning, weeks before the coronavirus emerged.

On the basis of this data, there appears to be a prima facie case for expecting new viral strains to emerge over the coming months and so it would be prudent for Public Health Authorities the world over to be vigilant and prepared for any necessary action. We need hardly to be reminded that the spectre of the 1918 devastating influenza pandemic stares us in the face from across a century.

Chandra Wickramasinghe, Current Science, November 25, 2019

How does the avian flu spread? Through HeLa cells. The fact that bacteria communicate instantly through radio waves was discovered back in the 1930s by K. Blome, and the experimental evidence came from L. Montagnier and J. Benveniste. That is, bacteria can send electromagnetic imprints of its cells instantly over a distance of thousands of kilometers. All vaccines contain HeLa cell lines (directly or indirectly). A leaky vaccine will allow the HeLa cells to communicate with the M. avium in the atmosphere, that is how the new powerful strains (B.1.1.7, B.1.351, P.1) appeared out of nowhere, at it seems, throughout the world. That is how the first powerful strain, D614G, also appeared back in January 2020, and spread all over the place in March 2020.

Astrobiologists know that the Covid-19 was caused by the solar transit of Mercury in 2016 (it takes some two years for the dust from comet Encke to reach the surface of the Earth; comet Encke encounters with Mercury). However, now we expect a second wave of even more powerful pathogenic agents to come down, the cause being the solar transit of Mercury in 2019.

Via I Want a New Left 

 

Monday, April 19, 2021

Mars Helicopter


First Video of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter in Flight, Includes Takeoff and Landing (High-Res)
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

We've been getting hints about this thing for months but they finally got it to fly. Shipped all the way from Earth, it survived the landing, got unpacked, and managed to take off, hover (and rotate if my eyes don't deceive me) and land. It's flying autonomously, the time time-lag for any signals coming from Earth is too long to be able to exert any kind of flight control. If things continue to go well, they should start doing some aerial surveys of the surrounding area. Very cool, NASA.

I don't know, but I suspect the connection between the current crawler and Earth is too thin to support video. It was probably stored on board and then piped to Earth at a reduced data rate.


A Pinprick in the Scheme of Things


B-52 Busters - Vietnam War Communist Commando Raids
Mark Felton Productions

I've kind of been avoiding the Vietnam War. Emotions are still pretty raw from that disaster, so it's a little difficult to get any perspective on the subject. It's been fifty years, so maybe we can start to get a clearer view, if only because we aren't constantly having to wipe the mud off the windscreen.

World War Two is great. It almost qualifies as ancient history and I have heard enough about it to  satisfy my curiosity, so let's move on to more recent history.

I knew we were using B-52's to bomb Vietnam, but I wasn't quite sure whether we were bombing North Vietnam or just portions of South Vietnam where we suspected the Viet Cong were hiding. I didn't know they were based in Guam or in Thailand. And why was that? Didn't we have multiple, big fat, air bases in South Vietnam? Something doesn't add up here. I smell bean counter economics, or bullshit political wrangling.

I suspect Genghis Khan is the root cause of Asia being the way it is. We've been fighting the Communists all around the border of Asia. First there was Taiwan (I'm not sure just what happened there, but it must have been a pretty big deal). Then there was Korea, Vietnam and now there is Afghanistan. It's like the Forever War. And all we've got to show for it are South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. I suspect there might be something in Asian DNA that makes them more susceptible to authoritarian rule. Or maybe not. Maybe it's just the luck of the draw. Some Jackass manages to become the leader, boosts his security service and clamps down on the opposition. Or maybe that's the only way to keep a lid on things so it doesn't just boil over into perpetual civil war. Whatever.

B-52's are almost 70 years old. That's crazy. I wonder how much fuel the combined fleet has burned over their lifetime. A couple of zillion gallons at least. All this reminds me of the stories in Command and Control about the mishaps that occurred with B-52's carry atomic bombs.

You need to be real careful when you ask the military to do something because they will find the most effective way to get the job done. It might not be efficient and it might result in a great deal of collateral damage, but that's not really a concern when your objective is to kill the other guys and not get kilt yourself.

B-52's in the Vietnam War
Hanoi is the top placemark, Guam is at the far right.


Hotel California

Scannable QR code advertisement in the sky, made by drones in Shanghai

Video here. Comment on the Reddit page referenced urbanhell, which has a different take on our glorious urban life, which made me think that some people (like me) will think this is really cool, and some people (also like me) will wonder what hath god wrought? Which brings to mind the line 'this could be heaven or this could be hell', hence the name of the song becomes the title.

Friday, April 16, 2021

Down Time

0h h1

When I am done trying to get things done, or I just need a break, I'll fire up YouTube, unleash it on My Mix, and open a game of solitaire on a new tab. I have three games I play regularly, sometimes a fourth if the situation warrants. I play these games in order. It usually eats up about 30 minutes. It may go to an hour. First I'll play Netwalk at the Expert level. It takes about a minute. I don't have a strategy that I know of, I just start rotating pieces until everything is connected. It usually takes me about twice as many steps as the posted goal value. On occasion I have solved it in the same number of steps as the goal. If I am feeling fuzzy headed, it might take me four or five times as many steps as the goal.

Next I'll move on to 0h h1 (shown above).  It usually takes about three or four minutes. There are like three levels of play here. The object of the game is to fill in all of the squares, but you may not have more than two blocks of the same color next to each other. The first level is to fill in the obvious places. In places where you have two pieces of the same color next to each other, you know that on either end you must have pieces of the opposite color. Any place where you have two pieces of the same color separated by an empty space, that space needs to filled with a piece of the opposite color. Now if you are lucky, you may have some rows (or columns) that are almost entirely filled. Each row and column needs to be half of one color and half of the other. A count of the current pieces may reveal the color required in the the remaining places.

Now we need to think a bit. Look at a row and where all the current pieces are placed. Mentally try placing pieces in that row (or columns). It may be that there is pair of spaces that require one piece of each color, but then one space is left over, and a count of place pieces should reveal the color required for that last place. You may have several places like that, or you might have a situation where you need to place blue pieces in several places, but you end up with one extra spot, so that spot must be red.

Every once in a while, these basic techniques will be enough to solve the puzzle. More often, you will end up with several pairs of spaces that each require one piece of each color and the only way to determine which one is which is to compare the lines with the other completed lines in the puzzle and find one that matches all of the pieces placed so far. Then the solution is to reverse the colors of the two pieces that correspond to the empty slots. This is most annoying part of the game, and depending on my attitude I may not attempt it, but just use the game's 'eyeball' to identify the matching line. In those cases I count it a 'win' if I haven't overlooked any thing that I should have found using the basic techniques.

The third game is Spider Solitaire with two suits. This game usually takes about five to seven minutes and successful solutions are sporadic. So playing the first two games and then three hands of solitaire will take about half an hour.

I am writing this because I just got done shuffling some pdf files over to the City of Portland Building Department. It wasn't difficult or complicated, but good lord how I hated it. It's an obligation and man oh man, I did not want to do it and I don't really understand why I am so resistant. There are multiple reasons why I should resent this, but none of them have any real standing in this situation. Come on dude, suck it up and get it done. Jeez.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Good Morning


What They Don't Want You To See. Boston Dynamics and AI.
Digital Engine

Our new robot overlords are coming. We can hope they will be benevolent, but as long as they are controlled by people, some will not be. 

Meanwhile 'there is a shortage of workers' but we've got zillions of people out of work. This does not compute. There is something very wrong here. I have all kinds of ideas about what could be the problem, but if I think about it, none of them make much sense. I see homeless encampments short distances away from places offering employment. Could it be that once people become adults their trajectory becomes very hard to change, and if the job they had disappears they just can't adapt to a new one?




Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Nord Stream 2

Nord Stream 2 pipelay vessel near the German island of Rügen. Photo: Axel Schmidt/NordStream2

Nord Stream 2 is a pipeline for transporting natural gas from Russia to Germany. It's been under construction for a while. The US is opposed to it for some reason. I read a story the other day that said this pipeline was the reason the US was pushing Ukraine to confront Russia. Note US warships in the Black Sea. RT has a story that explains what is going on. Yes, I know, RT used to be Russia Today and is almost certainly Putin's mouthpiece, but they seem to be fairly balanced unlike the stories that come from US press, which seem to be stuffed with inflammatory hyperbole.


Does Not Compute


The REAL Answer To The Viral Chinese Math Problem "How Old Is The Captain?"
MindYourDecisions

Presh Talwalkar emphasizes clarity in his speaking voice over smoothness which means listening to him is not as pleasant as it could be, but then there shouldn't be any confusion over what he is saying, which is kind of important when you are dealing with something as persnickety as math.

He must have a zillion videos up on YouTube. Most of them are straight up math problems. This is the first one I have encountered that veers off into psychology. The math problems that he posts range from trivial to esoteric. I like the mid-range ones, though I am sometimes mistaken in my initial impression and find after working on it for a few minutes that I am not going to be able to solve it without digging up some obscure mathematical knowledge.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Head Banging Aliens


Eiffel 65 - Blue (Da Ba Dee) [Gabry Ponte Ice Pop Mix] (Original Video with subtitles)
Bliss Corporation

Just because everybody needs a little head banging. From 1999.


Gun Rights Cake

Handwaving Freakoutery has posted the Gun Rights Cake cartoon. I tried to steal it and post it here, but Blogger can't handle long images and I am too lazy to cut it up an post it in pieces. You can see the cartoon all by its lonesome here. It's pretty great. You can read his post as well, but it doesn't really contain anything new. And it doesn't matter anyway, because the battle is not being fought over ideas, but with emotions. The other side doesn't really care if they win or not as long as they can get their faces on the news along with stupid little sound bites about how they are for gun control and abhor violence. It's a stupid fight and it is going to continue as long as emotional people are easily manipulated, which means forever. Great. Another Forever War. I for one will welcome our new robot overlords, if they ever bother to show up.

A little digging reveals that LawDog authored Gun Rights Cake:

I hear a lot about "compromise" from your camp ... except, it's not compromise.

Let's say I have this cake. It is a very nice cake, with "GUN RIGHTS" written across the top in lovely floral icing. Along you come and say, "Give me that cake."

I say, "No, it's my cake."

You say, "Let's compromise. Give me half." I respond by asking what I get out of this compromise, and you reply that I get to keep half of my cake.

Okay, we compromise. Let us call this compromise The National Firearms Act of 1934.

There I am with my half of the cake, and you walk back up and say, "Give me that cake."

I say, "No, it's my cake."

You say, "Let's compromise." What do I get out of this compromise? Why, I get to keep half of what's left of the cake I already own.

So, we have your compromise -- let us call this one the Gun Control Act of 1968 -- and I'm left holding what is now just a quarter of my cake.

And I'm sitting in the corner with my quarter piece of cake, and here you come again. You want my cake. Again.

This time you take several bites -- we'll call this compromise the Clinton Executive Orders -- and I'm left with about a tenth of what has always been MY DAMN CAKE and you've got nine-tenths of it.

Then we compromised with the Lautenberg Act (nibble, nibble), the HUD/Smith and Wesson agreement (nibble, nibble), the Brady Law (NOM NOM NOM), the School Safety and Law Enforcement Improvement Act (sweet tap-dancing Freyja, my finger!)

I'm left holding crumbs of what was once a large and satisfying cake, and you're standing there with most of MY CAKE, making anime eyes and whining about being "reasonable", and wondering "why we won't compromise".

I'm done with being reasonable, and I'm done with compromise. Nothing about gun control in this country has ever been "reasonable" nor a genuine "compromise".

LawDog

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Young adult, near future, science fiction. I picked it up at my son's house because I wanted something to read, this one was lying right there in front of me and I had previously read The Windup Girl by the same author and I remembered that one being pretty good.

The world has changed, the seas have risen, New Orleans is underwater, but a city of a sort has grown up on what's still sticking above the water. Plus it's still a port, all the scrap metal from the shipbreaking business gets sent there on a train.

Shipbreaking (the business of taking apart old, worn out cargo ships and turning them into scrap metal) is now being done on the Gulf Coast by a savage crew of desperately poor people. Nailer, our hero, is a boy working on a light crew. These are the guys who go in and strip out all the light weight stuff, like wiring, before the heavy crew gets to work taking apart the hull.

It's a young adult novel so it's fairly simple-minded. A quick, easy and enjoyable read. There are a few science fiction-y bits. We have half-men walking around which are some kind of genetic hybrid of man and animal predators, used by those in charge for enforcement and protection.

Then there are the sailing yachts that the rich and powerful use to get around the world. These boats are overgrown versions of the racing sailboats we have today: carbon fiber hulls, hydrofoils and special sails. The sails are a bit of a trick. They use cannons to launch parasails into the stratosphere where they pick up the jet stream and drag the boats at impossible speeds. Being as the jet stream is several miles above the surface, you would need a pretty big gun to get to that height. But maybe they shoot rockets. We have guns that do that now. And you would need some super-strong lines to be able to reliably reach that far without having to carry reels that would sink your boat. That seems like it might be doable in the not too distant future.