Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

This & That

Men's communication is like semaphores in the navy - direct and to the point. Women's communication is like interpretive dance. No wonder communication between the two sexes is so difficult.

We might need some land reform in US, too. Are there any small farmers in the US who are making a living? And what's a small farmer anyway? If good crop land costs $10,000 an acre, a 40 acre plot would cost $400K, as much as a small house in a big city. On a vaguely related note, McDonalds stopped buying pork from confinement operations. Those were pretty inhumane. Most large operations that raise food animals are pretty disgusting. 

Since our homeless population continues to grow, maybe what we need is a new peasant class. That should be a step up for the homeless because even peasants have someplace to live. Maybe take some largish tracts of farm land and carve it up into homesteads. Maybe do this around small, rural farming communities that are slowing fading away.

In season 7 of Bosch, which we just finished watching, Lieutenant Billets, a not particularly attractive woman, is revealed to be a lesbian. A couple of patrolmen take to harassing her, she fights back and the twerps are punished. The key point I wanted to make was that the people harassing her were twerps. These are a couple of grown men acting like kids. Maybe that's typical, but it was certainly juvenile. And maybe that's the problem, people are trying to make a federal case out of people being bad babies. Punishing babies with the law is just going to be a waste of time. Babies are taught by people saying 'no' in a firm voice and maybe spanking if they do something egregious or dangerous, and that's usually enough. As they grow up they should become more aware of the rules and become amenable to following them. Unfortunately, some people never seem to grow up. Perhaps baby crimes should be punished with baby punishments, like spanking, or a right cross to the chin.



The Teddy Bear's Picnic


Henry Hall & His Orchestra - The Teddy Bear's Picnic (1932)
retrotor

I started reading Complacent Goldilocks Got Eaten by Bear and I come across this line:
“If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise..”
and that's as far as I got. I have to run, so adios.


Cult of Personality


Living Colour - Cult Of Personality (Official Video)
Living Colour (1988)

I was surprised to see that RT (formerly Russia Today) has story today denouncing Stalin. I've known for a long time that he was a vicious, cruel, authoritarian maniac. Idi Amin is my best comparison. They both rank right up there with Hitler in my personal Pantheon of Evil. Some people like to credit Stalin for defeating the Nazis in WW2 when what really happened is that Russia defeated Hitler in spite of Stalin.

Seems Khrushchev denounced Stalin way back in 1956 in his speech On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences also known as the Secret Speech, as it was originally given only to the Politburo. Printed copies got passed around, some even made it to the West. It wasn't published in the Soviet Union until 1989, two years before the glorious revolution came crashing down around their pointed little communist heads.


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Neutron Star-Black Hole Merger


Neutron star-black hole merger
OzGrav ARC Centre of Excellence
LIGO continues to astound. In my lifetime gravitational astronomy has gone from “it’s maybe kinda scientifically plausible but so far beyond our technology as to be effectively impossible” to “oh, look here’s another collision of black holes a bagrillion light years away.” - The Unwanted Blog

We're coming for you, Captain Kirk.

LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) has appeared here before.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Asian Tigers

Banaue rice terraces Philippines
Low yield, but very pretty.

Astral Codex Ten has posted a book review of How Asia Works. I think they have some good points, especially land reform. The post goes on at some length, but this introduction covers it pretty well:

What was the best thing that ever happened? From a very zoomed-out, by-the-numbers perspective, it has to be China's sudden lurch from Third World basketcase to dynamic modern economy. A billion people went from starving peasants to the middle class. In the 1960s, sixty million people died of famine in the Chinese countryside; by the 2010s, that same countryside was criss-crossed with the world's most advanced high-speed rail network, and dotted with high-tech factories.

And the best thing that ever happened kept happening, again and again. First it was Japan during the Meiji Restoration. Then it was Korea and Taiwan in the 1960s. Then China in the 90s. Now Vietnam and others seem poised to follow.

(fun trivia question: ignoring sudden oil windfalls, what country has had the highest percent GDP growth over the past 30 years? Answer, as far as I can tell: the People's Democratic Republic of Laos.)

There was nothing predetermined about this. These countries started with nothing. In 1950, South Korea and Taiwan were poorer than Honduras or the Congo. But they managed to break into the ranks of the First World even while dozens of similar countries stayed poor. Why?

Joe Studwell claims this isn't mysterious at all. You don't have to bring in culture, genetics, or anything complicated like that. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, etc, just practiced good economic policy. Any country that tries the same economic policy will get equally rich, as China and Vietnam are discovering. Unfortunately, most countries practice bad economic policy, partly because the IMF / World Bank / rich country economic advisors got things really wrong. They recommended free markets and open borders, which are good for rich countries, but bad for developing ones. Developing countries need to start with planned economies, then phase in free market policies gradually and in the right order. Since rich country economists kept leading everyone astray, the only countries that developed properly were weird nationalist dictatorships and communist states that ignored the Western establishment out of spite. But now the economic establishment is starting to admit its mistakes, giving other countries a chance to catch up.

How Asia Works is Studwell's guide to good economic policy. He gives a three-part plan for national development. First, land reform. Second, industrial subsidies plus export discipline. Third, financial policy in service of the first two goals.


Monster Ice Cubes

Ganymede versus Eiffel Tower

Colorized composite of high resolution image of Jupiter's moon Ganymede vs Eiffel Tower, to scale. Original image recorded by NASA Galileo spacecraft in 1996. Resolution is 11meters per pixel. 
Scene width: 3.96 kilometers. 
Eiffel Tower: 325 meters. 
Ganymede's surface is a wild jumble of blocks of H2O ice & dirt. 



Sunday, June 27, 2021

APFSDS


Tracker 2 - APFSDS Failure - Specialised Imaging
SpecialisedImagingUK

High speed photography fascinates me. The camera used here is from Phantom
APFSDS stands for armour-piercing fin-stabilized discarding sabot.

Unintelligible


Why You Can't Hear The Dialogue in Tenet
Thomas Flight

In the comments on a post on Riders of Skaith, someone pointed out that Christopher Nolan directed Tenet, a pretty bizarre, action movie. I poke around a bit, and then I'm back on YouTube and this video pops up. Google is obviously watching my every move. Didn't realize Nolan was behind all those movies, but I don't keep very good track of directors. I barely remember actor's names. Anyway, this video covers the whole audible bit pretty well.


Paladin


BOSCH Season 7 - Official Trailer | Prime Video
Amazon Prime Video

We're watching season 7 of Bosch. Somewhere past the middle (episode 6 maybe?) they are talking about a hitman and Jimmy Robertson (played by Paul Calderon), the aging Latino detective, mentions Paladin, Have Gun Will Travel, and Richard Boone and draws blank looks from everyone else, including my wife. How could they not know about this fixture of American culture? Don't they teach nobody nuttin' in school no more? I guess not, and not too many people delve into history. It's really not surprising none of the characters recognized the phrase since all these whippersnappers were born after the show ended in 1963, but I bet all of the actors did.


TV Intro | Pilot | Have Gun – Will Travel
John Daniels

Wikipedia gives us a little background:
The Paladins (or Twelve Peers) are twelve fictional knights of legend, the foremost members of Charlemagne's court in the 8th century. 
Statue of Roland in the town hall square of Riga, Latvia.
Image courtesy Patrick Mayon

Roland was the leader of the pack.

Bosch, 8 episodes, 50 minutes each, on Amazon Prime
Have Gun - Will Travel, 225 episodes, 25 minutes each, at least some of which are on YouTube


Spies Like Us


That Scene in a Christopher Nolan Film When You Give Up Trying to Follow the Story
Michael Spicer

It starts off sounding like a scene from a spy thriller where our agent is being given some background information on his mission, but the explanation soon becomes so convoluted that it becomes . .  . well, I'll leave it to you to decide what it becomes.

Airplanes North and South

Alaskan Float Plane

My nephew Nick, up in Alaska, had an accident with a jetski a couple of weeks ago and busted his foot pretty good. He's recovering but will be hobbling for a couple of months. And we get a photo of a neighbor's float plane.

Ultralight Aircraft on the beach in La Paz Mexico back in March

Via IAman


Damaged People

COVID-19 Prickle Ball

What happens when a population of introverts, hypochondriacs, and obsessive-compulsives is continuously bombarded with messages to seclude and disinfect themselves, for fear that COVID-19 prickle-balls lurk everywhere, waiting to attack?

What happens is that emotionally damaged people start driving bad politics and bad policy. - Dan Rabil on AmericanThinker

There are all kinds of people out there in the world. Most are fairly sane and rational, but some of them, typically arising from the circumstances they were raised in, are emotionally damaged. Might be as high as 10%, but I really have no idea. Big problem is that damaged people become very good at masquerading as being sane, but sooner or later the plug pops out and the crazy starts spewing forth. Sometimes it's harmless vitriol, sometimes it's a weapons-grade personal attack designed to make you doubt your own sanity. I suspect that if you look at people who are in the spotlight (celebrities, politicians) you might find a higher percentage of damaged individuals.

Damaged people are often children of alcoholics and drug addicts. Damage comes in varying degrees, but near as I can tell, the damage is permanent. They might be able cover it up or compensate for it enough to live a normal life, but it's always going to be there, waiting to trip them up and unleash their demons.

Update a week later: I wonder if maybe we aren't all a little emotionally damaged. I masquerade as a peaceful guy, but let me get tired and then have anything not go as it should, then take cover as death rays will start emanating from my skin.

Via ZeroHedge


Saturday, June 26, 2021

@#$%^&*

Aurora AU1210MA Paper Shredder
This is what we ordered to replace the dead one. $120.

For every benefit of the modern world, there is a price that must be paid, a price of annoying bullshit. Our paper shredder died this week. We got it a few years ago, back when worrying about criminals stealing account information from the 'important' papers you threw in the trash was the big fear of anyone who had a couple of dollars. I think that was the same year that it became illegal to burn anything in your backyard. You can still have a fire to cook food which lets your barbeque grill off the hook, but burning a bale of office paper to get rid of it would likely get you in trouble with the Karen Fire Department. I think this was our third (paper shredder). We had a beginner's model that lasted about a year, and a compact desktop unit. . .  Hey! Where did that thing go? It was small and as you would expect, feeble, but it was handy. And satisfying. Done with that piece of paper. Does it need to be shredded? Yes? Well, here's a cute little baby shredder that would just love a little snack to gnaw on. Like I said, it was kind of feeble. If you were feeding it a hundred sheets a day it would only last a week before it's innards disintegrated and it ground to a half. But feed it a three or four sheets week and it would probably last forever. Well, a couple of years anyway.

Anyway, this one is bigger and more powerful, and was able to shred a dozen sheets of paper in a single pass. It could shred a dozen sheets, but it was really straining to get the job done. You could do that a couple of times, but then you had to let it cool down for 15 minutes. However, if you fed it one sheet at a time it would chop away merrily for quite a while before it overheated, tripped the thermal override switch and took a nap.

Phillips Head Screw Torx Head Screw

Anyway, this week it bit the dust, and because I am who I am, I wanted to open it up and see if there was something that could be fixed, like maybe a wire that had broken off of a switch. I am certain I was not going to be able to do anything about a burned out motor or a busted gearbox, but maybe it's just something little that CAN be fixed. So I tried open it up. Pull out the dust bin, turn it on its head, and lo, three screws buried in their screwy little worm holes. Well, this should be easy, a Phillips screwdriver ought to do the trick. Um, no, not so fast bucky, they aren't Phillips head screws. Pull up the Magnifier app on my smartphone (okay, one more app that I have added) and turn on the flashlight. Didn't really need the magnifier, and sometimes it is more trouble than it is worth, but there is a flashlight control front and center, so that's what I do. There are probably a dozen different ways to turn on the flashlight on a smartphone, but I don't care, I don't want to learn about any other ways, I have one way that works reliably, so that's the one I use.

My motley assortment of Torx drivers

Anyway, (What? Again with the 'anyway'? Can't you write no better dan dat? Hey you, shut up, this is my blog and I'll write it any damn way I please.) they aren't Phillips head screws, they might be Torx, so I pull out a couple of my medium size Torx screwdrivers, but they aren't doing the trick either. 

Common Screw Heads

Take another look down the screw worm holes, and you know, those look like they might be security Torx head screws. Fortunately, I have a set of just such weird screwdriver bits. It was a present from IAman for Christmas a zillion years ago. Also have a cute little screwdriver for driving these bits. It has a magnet in the tip that will hold the bit and the screw. The best part is the magnet is mounted on a telescopic radio antenna, so you can extend it to use for retrieving small metal parts from inaccessible locations, or accessible locations, if you've a mind to.

Set of special screwdriver bits and screwdriver with telescoping magnet

Load up my cute little screwdriver with my pick hit from the box of specialness. It goes into the wormhole and it feels solid, like it magically slid right into the screw. Well, maybe it did. It turns like it's engaged with screw, just the right amount of resistance, but after a dozen turns I realize it's not going anywhere. Try it on the other two screws anyway, even though you know that we are going to get the same result, but you know, maybe not, and even if it doesn't work, we may gain a bit of information that will allow us to say Open Sesame. No luck. Conclude that the wormholes are very slightly tapered and just the right diameter that the shaft of the cute little screwdriver just slides right into place and stops with the bit just millimeters away from engaging the screw.


Makita Cordless Driver-Drill

Don't you know resistance is futile, paper shredder? I pull out the big gun, my super duper powerful Makita cordless driver drill. The biggest bit I have here is 3/8" and it might be as large as the shank on the cute little screwdriver. I give it a shot. It serves up a few scraps of black plastic, but it doesn't help. I have large drill bits over at the new house, and I have a countersink bit that might do the trick, or they might eat all the way through the wall of the screw worm holes, and then we wouldn't need the screwdriver at all. Plus it would make a big mess of plastic and you wouldn't be able to reassemble it if you did manage to fix it. Oh, I suppose you could epoxy it back together, but then I wouldn't be good American. A good American doesn't waste time trying to fix cheap junk, you throw it away and go buy a new one. Keep the economy rolling, keep the minions busy minioning.

Anyway, a bigger drill bit is a possibility, but if I am going to an make unrepairable mess, I could use my chainsaw and have a bit of fun in the process. Well, fun's great, but then you have to pay the piper. Sweeping up isn't the odious chore it used to be, but we still have problem of how to get rid of it. It's not that big, and the dust bin can be filled with garbage, but it still takes up space and our garbage is already over capacity. And no, I'm not going to belly up the bar and order a larger can. Those things cost money, and the money they cost is the absolutely worst kind of money, the money you have to pay every friggin' month.

So I got a couple of ways to go, but now, since I dealt with my big headache this week, I can ruminate on my options.

LG Refrigerator Model Number LFXS24623S

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the fancy refrigerator that came with the new house bit the big one. I didn't know how old it was, but I figured whatever warranty it might have had had long since expired, and even if it hadn't, it would probably be more effort that it was worth to try and collect on it. Still, it's like a $1500 fridge and other than not doing its job, it seems to be in fine working order. So let's see what we can do. Maybe it's just some kind of electronic do-dad and it will only cost a couple hundred bucks to get it fixed.

I find an appliance repair website they can send someone tomorrow morning. $60 to come take a look. This seems reasonable. Yannick from Cameroon shows up, runs his tests. Osmany (the Cuban) interrogates him. The upshot is that the compressor is shot and fixing it is going to run $1,000. Well, no, I ain't doin' that. Buy another one at used appliance store and get the old one hauled off in the bargain. You will notice that getting rid of shit is a continuing problem. Used to be you could put old appliances on the curb and before the day was out, the scrap man would haul them away. It's still like that up in ne'er-do-well St. John's. Not so much in fancy-pants land. You pull shit like that in that neighborhood and you would be hearing from the neighbors in two days, max. And the scrap man knows that, so he don't cruise the byways of fancy pants land. Probably got the cops called on him once-et, and that was more than he wanted.

I was mulling my options when demanding daughter demanded to know just what was going on and after listening to the discussion for a while she decided she was going to handle it. Seems that while the fridge had a one year parts-and-labor warranty (which has long since expired), it also has a ten year warranty on the compressor, and that has not expired as the refrigerator is only seven years old. I spent some time on the phone with LG yesterday but I didn't get anywhere. I was talking to a non-native speaker who was working from a script. It was painful in the extreme. I expect you know what I am talking about. The non-native speaker is not a problem, it can be a bit of challenge to communicate sometimes, but at least you are talking to a person, but the corporate bullshit you have to endure is just horrible.

We shall see if she has any success.

Which brings us to my headache of the week. I've been trying to get a building permit for a remodeling project from the City of Portland Building Department. I've been working on this for months. It doesn't take a lot of actual time, but is as annoying as f**k. It's as bad as doing your taxes. Half of the problem is that they seem to be swamped, partly due to a building boom and partly due to staffing problems because of COVID-19. The other half is that they are the nit-pickiest mothball fellows who ever picked a nit. I send stuff in, they send it back, it's not good enough they tell me, fix it. So I fix it and send in again. Wash, dry, repeat. And every cycle takes a minimum of two weeks. If I had known it was going to be so friggin' awful I would have gladly paid someone to handle this for me. Of course I knew. I just chose to ignore my inner monitor screaming his head off that this is the road to hell. Shush, little worry wart, it's going to be fine. And you know what? He was right.  Meatloaf flavor.

I've been trying all week to get my stuff in order and I finally did it this morning. Will it be good enough for the gods of the copybook headings? The work I did to prepare the 'package' for submission was trivial. It was the wading through the marlin fooling instructions that was bad. I swear it is worse than the IRS instructions for the 1040. I maybe an old coot.

P. S. The plural of antenna is antennae. I don't think that's very helpful, it might make some word nerds happy, but it's just going to confuse everyone who says 'antennaes', which is pronounced the same way as 'antennas'. We just add the extra 'e' when we spell it because it's French, you know.


Friday, June 25, 2021

Milton Berle era TV

1949 Motorola Golden View TV
 
Milton Berle (1908 – 2002) was an American comedian and actor.

Milton Berle and Marilyn Monroe at Ringling Brothers Circus

As the host of NBC's Texaco Star Theatre (1948–1955), he was the first major American television star and was known to millions of viewers as "Uncle Miltie" and "Mr. Television" during the first Golden Age of Television. - Wikipedia

Via Posthip Scott

Thursday, June 24, 2021

Vtext

I posted the following on reddit:

I am having problems sending text messages from gmail to Apple phones. I surfed the net but all I've found is either basic cycle-the-power level of 'helpful hints', and stuff that is old. I've had occasional problems with it in the past, but now it's all the time. Hoping someone has an explanation for just how this messaging stuff works. I suspect Verizon is futzing around with some kind of program dealing with high volume spam broadcasters, either to curtail them or enhance them. They might get it cleared up sometime, but they might not. Google has Workplace that supposedly allows you to send text messages, but it involves signing up and then your recipients have to sign up as well. So maybe it's not Verizon, but Google. Making life better, one paper cut after another.

Meanwhile, when I logon to reddit using Google, my ID shows up as Massive_Trip_1900. How the heck did that happen? I still have my old, hand crafted logon, so now I have two accounts. I don't suppose it matters, but I do wonder why someone would change my ID. I imagine that one of the data breaches that we hear about daily exposed a password and someone used it change my ID. Why would they do that? Who knows, doesn't matter. What's the worst that can happen, they'll get me banned from reddit?


Arminius


Barbarians | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix

The Barbarians is a short series (six 45 minute episodes) about the Germanic people's revolt against the Roman Empire in 9AD. (9AD! Haven't seen much about that period.) It's not a bad show. One of the advantages of telling a story from long ago and far away is that we don't have a lot of details on people's customs, so storytellers have a lot of leeway in how it's presented. Did they really dress like that? Were weddings really like that? Who knows? Bits of it have undoubtedly been tweaked for modern audiences, but the basis is real, to wit, one Arminius, leader of the pack:

Arminius (18/17 BC – 21 AD) was a Roman officer and later chieftain of the Germanic Cherusci tribe who is best known for commanding an alliance of Germanic tribes at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, in which three Roman legions under the command of general Publius Quinctilius Varus were destroyed. His victory at Teutoburg Forest would precipitate the Roman Empire's permanent strategic withdrawal from Magna Germania.[1] Modern historians have regarded Arminius' victory as one of Rome's greatest defeats. As it prevented the Romanization of Germanic peoples east of the Rhine, it has also been considered one of the most decisive battles in history, and a turning point in world history.

Born a prince of the Cherusci tribe, Arminius was part of the Roman friendly faction of the tribe. He learned Latin and served in the Roman military, which gained him Roman citizenship and the rank of a Roman knight. After serving with distinction in the Great Illyrian Revolt, he was sent to Germania to aid the local governor Publius Quinctilius Varus in completing the Roman conquest of the Germanic tribes. While in this capacity, Arminius secretly plotted a Germanic revolt against Roman rule, which culminated in the ambush and destruction of three Roman legions in the Teutoburg Forest.

In the aftermath of the battle, Arminius fought retaliatory invasions by the Roman general Germanicus in the battles of Pontes Longi, Idistaviso, and the Angrivarian Wall, and deposed a rival, the Marcomanni king Maroboduus. Germanic nobles, afraid of Arminius' growing power, assassinated him in 21 AD. He was remembered in Germanic legends for generations afterwards. The Roman historian Tacitus designated Arminius as the liberator of the Germanic tribes and commended him for having fought the Roman Empire to a standstill at the peak of its power.

During the unification of Germany in the 19th century, Arminius was hailed by German nationalists as a symbol of German unity and freedom. Following World War II, however, Arminius was omitted from West German textbooks due to his association with militaristic nationalism; the 2,000th anniversary of his victory at the Teutoburg Forest was only lightly commemorated in Germany. - Wikipedia

Magna Germania in the early 2nd century AD, by Alexander George Findlay

We've only watched 5 of the six episodes and while they are leading up to the big battle, I don't think they are going to squeeze it into episode 6. I think we will probably have to wait for season 2 for that.

Thusnelda at the Triumph of Germanicus, by Karl von Piloty, 1873

Several of the main characters like Thusnelda and Segestes are historical figures, if you go by WikipediaSegimer is a bit dubious.

Modern statue representing Tacitus outside the Austrian Parliament Building

Most of our information about this era seems to come from Tacticus (c. AD 56 – c. 120). I wonder if this where we got our word 'tactical'. 

P. S. Apparently the word Triumph comes from the Roman Empire's victory celebrations.

P. P. S. They did squeeze the battle into episode 6. It's appropriately barbaric.


Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Mitrailleuse


Shooting a Reffye Mitrailleuse (Reproduction)
Forgotten Weapons
The mitrailleuse was one of the early types of mechanical machine gun, along with the Gatling, Gardner, Nordenfelt, and others. "Mitrailleuse" was originally a general name for a volley gun - one with many barrels in a cluster, which are fired sequentially (it now means heavy machine gun). The two most common types were the Montigny (a Belgian design fired by a lever) and the Reffye (a French design fired by crank).

The Reffye was a top-secret weapon used by the French in the Franco-Prussian War, which was expected to be a huge game-changer. However, there was little experience worldwide in how best to use a weapon like this, and the French commanders chose to use them like artillery, firing at long range where they were inaccurate and underpowered. In this role, they were utterly outclassed by the Prussian Krupp artillery, leading to a general European disdain for the effectiveness of machine guns that would last until the First World War.

This Reffye is a reproduction, here shown firing blanks. The footage comes to us courtesy of Julien Lucot, a writer for the French arms magazine Cibles. Thanks, Julien! - YouTube blurb
Presumably the blurb was written by Ian, the guy who does every other Forgotten Weapons video I've seen.

Via Jack, because the term came up at lunch yesterday.


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Phone

I have a smartphone I got from TracFone. It's a Samsung Android phone, probably refurbished. It was really cheap, like less than $50. I buy more time when I run out. You run out in the middle of a call and they will direct you to a person who will happily take your money and credit your account some number of minutes. This usually works fine, except the one time when I really didn't want to be interrupted. I went to the doctor and thought I would let my wife listen in on my visit, but we only got about a minute into and it shunted me off to customer service. I bailed. I was probably able to give my wife a sufficiently detailed account of my visit which is why the whole incident has become remote in my memory.

Anyway, I got this smartphone. It does it's job adequately, I can make and receive phone calls. It has voice transcription, so I can dictate text messages to people. It has a stupid little onscreen keyboard where I can peck out bits of text, one character at a time. I don't like it and I don't use it unless I have to, but that's pretty seldom, thanks to the voice transcription business.

I use Google Maps occasionally, and it can be a real lifesaver. We made good use of it when my wife and I were looking for a house to buy, and I used it to locate building suppliers when we were working on the house.

I use text messaging to send reminders to my e-mail account. I sometimes use it for longer text, but I haven't quite mastered the art of dictating a blog posting. Words don't flow from my mouth the way they do from my fingers, not that they flow that well from my fingers. Even the simplest postings often have to be re-written a couple of times to make them coherent.

Lately I have been having trouble with sending text messages from my computer. It's easier for me, I've got a full size keyboard to use. It used to be a bit of a trick, but now apparently all you need to do is tack @vtext.com on to the phone number and poof, magic, it gets delivered. Except when it doesn't. A couple of messages I sent this way in the last couple of weeks fell into some kind of computer limbo. The great message handler in the cloud evidently got the messages, but wasn't able to deliver them because, shut up, that's why.

A few minutes ago I got the idea to send a group message from my phone. Evidently I still don't know how to walk like an Egyptian because I could not figure it out. Ask Google and it gives me directions for Apple phones. When I get more specific, the directions become more vague (yeah, ya jus poin here and poin there and put in your addresses, but none of the places he's pointing to exist on my phone).

So I composed and sent a group text message from my computer, so I should be able to reply to all using my phone now. Let's try it. Nope, doesn't work like I hoped. My wife (Apple phone) and I both got the test message, but it does not show up as a group message, it's just single message with no evidence that it was broadcast to multiple people.

That's okay, I don't remember what I was going to say to them anyway.

There is one other nice feature, and that is that transferred all my contact information so I didn't have to add each one individually. The downside is the dark side of the net probably now has all this information. But maybe they already have everything, so maybe it doesn't matter.

I added one app when I bought a Depstech snake camera so I could trace wires in the new house. It works. It's kind of persnickety about setting up a connection and you have to remember to charge it, but it works. I guess I'm disappointed because I don't think we really learned anything about the wiring by using it. There are just a bunch of low voltage wires that just disappear into the walls and never come out again. Probably should just forget about them.

So the phone basically works, you can do things with it. But it is such a piece of junk. Here I have this amazingly powerful computer in the palm of my hand and it's just loaded up with all kinds of crap I don't want or need. Hell, I don't even know what most of it is. It's like being on a giant space station in the future and you need a bar of soap but the only place you can get any is at the Dollar Store on the main concourse so you go there and every shelf on every aisle is jam packed full of stuff, stuff that you don't need, stuff that isn't soap. But you wander around for what feels like an eternity and you eventually find the soap so you head to the checkout counter, the checkout counter that was empty when you got there, but now the other six shoppers who were in the store when you got there have all decided that it is time to go so now you are stuck at the end of the checkout line, waiting to buy your stupid bar of soap. No wonder Jeff Bezos can afford to go to outer space.

Tip of the hat to View From The Porch, or maybe The Adventures of RobertaX. One (or both) of them came up with the idea of space-faring alien civilization that was like a Walmart version of Star Trek.

Suicide Kills

Combat deaths versus Suicides

No shit, Sherlock. Problem is that more military people are committing suicide than are being killed by the enemy, many more, like four times as many. Brown University in Rhode Island came up with these numbers. It sheds a little light on the subject:

The report finds that these high suicide rates are caused by multiple factors, including risks inherent to fighting in any war such as high exposure to trauma, stress, military culture and training, continued access to guns, and the difficulty of reintegrating into civilian life. But the study finds that there are factors unique to the post-9/11 era, including a huge increase in exposure to improvised explosive devices (IEDs), an attendant rise in traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), and modern medical advances that have allowed service members to survive these and other physical traumas and return to the frontlines in multiple deployments. The combination of multiple traumatic exposures, chronic pain, and lasting physical wounds is linked to suicidal behaviors. - Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

The bit about 'continued access to guns' is pretty much a sop to the east coast liberal morons and should be ignored. Anyone who really wants to end their life will find a way to do it, gun or no gun.

I've posted about traumatic brain injuries before. Maybe we should outlaw fertilizer.

Via RT


Monday, June 21, 2021

Alexander Vraciu

Lockheed S-3B Viking

Came across this photo or the Lockheed S-3B Viking  and thought that's kind of a cool airplane, something different anyway. Then I read the blurb and find the photo was taken at Vraciu Field, which took me aback. I thought I knew the names of all the US air bases, or at least I was familiar with them, but I've never heard of this one.

On board the aircraft carrier Lexington, Lt. j.g. Alexander Vraciu holds up six fingers to signify his "kills" during the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" on 19 June 1944. (National Archives)

Turns out El Centro was recently renamed Vraciu Field in honor of Alexander Vraciu, a WW2 fighter ace. 80 of his relatives showed up at the ceremony. The Navy Times has the story about his wartime exploits, Wikipedia fills in the blanks.


Xi

In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, Chinese President Xi Jinping, front right, meets representatives attending the award ceremony on ethical role models and pioneers in Beijing, China on Nov. 17, 2017. -AP

This picture caught my eye because pictures of Xi usually show him facing forward, alone or with one other person, not standing in front of a crowd of smiling admirers.

The picture comes from CBS NEWS. I don't like to use photos from major news sites (which entails linking to them) because they all seem to be crammed full of popups, ads, and just all kinds of garbage. Extracting the story when it is buried in all this crap is like pulling teeth.  I used their picture this time because the colors were brighter and because the filename wasn't 200 characters long.


Good Morning, Pig


PIG Official Trailer (2021)
Movie Trailers Source

IAman tells us that "Sometimes the universe will wake you at 3AM to look at a YouTube trailer."

Truffles, if you've never heard of them.

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Reminiscence

War Surplus Bolt Action Rifles

We're sitting around the table after dinner reminiscing and my brother Andy tells us about the time our father took him along to visit a friend of his. It was duplex or something similar. They went down into the basement and the guy had a bunch of olive drab crates full of weapons packed in cosmoline. I hear this and it reminds me a something similar. It was a guy in duplex type housing and we went into the basement. There was a small opening high up in the wall that gave onto a crawl space. The guy picked up a rifle, aimed through this opening and fired a single round. The same guy, no doubt. This was in Seattle before Kennedy was shot, so early 60s. I was probably only about ten years old which means Andy must have only been about six.


DC-7

Aerolineas Peruanas DC-7 July 1966

Aerolíneas Peruanas flag carrier of Peru from 1956 to 1971. The tug in the foreground belongs to Braniff International, obviously. Who else would paint an airline tug in such garish colors? 

The DC-7 was the last gasp of piston engined airliners. The design went through several iterations, all designed for longer range and more capacity. At its peak, the DC-7C was flying non-stop between New York and London and from Copenhagen to Tokyo. This didn't last long. The Boeing 707 appeared in 1958 and the Douglas DC-8 (another jet airliner) in 1959. Flying to the Far East was kind of problem back then because you had to fly around the USSR.

The engines they used in the DC-7 were hybrid monsters:

Wright Turbo-Cyclone 18R-3350-TC Radial Engine
This engine powered the last generation of piston engine transports, including the Douglas DC-7 and Lockheed Super Constellation. It represents the end of engine-development that began with the famous Wright Whirlwind, and included an entire family of military and commercial piston power plants. The somewhat unique feature of this engine was a turbo compound device, consisting of an exhaust-driven turbine geared to the crankshaft, generating 20 percent additional take-off power without increasing fuel consumption. - Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
Wright R-3350 Turbo-Compound Duplex Cyclone
The Turbo is visible in the lower left. Compare with the P-38.

I've heard of turbo-compound engines before. I remember Mack Trucks was experimenting with them an eon ago, and now Mack and Volvo are trying again. They are kind of problematic. You are basically trying to join two forms of incompatible technology that just do not want to cooperate. The first problem is that turbos spin about ten times faster than conventional gas engines, so need gears that can handle the speed and load. A bigger problem might be matching the power output curves. Theoretically, you should get more power and higher efficiency, but as been well established, theory and practice are not the same.

P.S. My dad made a little money off of Braniff stock. I remember mom telling me the "stock split and split and split". Sounds kind of like what Intel stock was doing in the 1980s & 90s.


Saturday, June 19, 2021

Memphis Bridge Crack


What Really Happened at the Hernando de Soto Bridge?
Practical Engineering

This guy is a little too white bread for my taste, but his presentation is clear and he covers the subject pretty well. His explanation of bridge structures was illuminating, and here I thought I already knew all that. Maybe I did, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone explain it as clearly as this.

I have a bit of an aversion to bridges and tunnels, but it's not very strong. I look at the odds of a catastrophe befalling one of these route enhancers, and while they are not zero, they are pretty dang low. On the other hand, the odds of getting eaten by a bear have fallen tremendously in the last couple of hundred years, so we have a trade-off and it looks like a pretty good deal. So I push my fears back into the hole in the ground they are trying to crawl out of and go on with my life and drive through the tunnels and over the bridges.

Google Maps delivers a pretty impressive 3-D rendering of this bridge:

Hernando de Soto Bridge, Memphis Tennessee

Until I saw this video I didn't realize that Arkansas was across the river from Memphis. I mean I sort of knew that both states in were in same general area, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone mention that fact before. Which makes me wonder, what's on the other side of the river anyway? Well, West Memphis is on the other side of the river, West Memphis, the crossroads of the American trucking industry. Population 26,000, which makes it about 2% of the Memphis Metropolitan Area.

Update two weeks later: I just realized that Practical Engineering pasted their name on the beam, right next to the giant crack. If I was a real engineering firm, I don't think I would want my name within ten miles of this bridge. But maybe it's different for YouTube channels.

Firefighting with a Bell 205A

Bell 205A works Cottonwood Valley Fire on BLM land June 14, 2021

Looks like wildfire season is getting an early start this year. The Cottonwood Valley Fire is in the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (map), which is just west of Las Vegas, Nevada.


Possum Kingdom


The Toadies - Possum Kingdom (Official Music Video)
TheToadiesVEVO

I don't quite understand how my mind works. I'l find a tune on YouTube and I'll play the shit out it for days or weeks and then I'll be tired of it and can't stand to listen to it one more time, so I go looking for something different. This is this week's hot pick.

When I fire it up, I see bits of the video and it looks like maybe they stole a clip from some movie, so I go looking and I find this story in the Texas Monthly. Seems the lead guy, who wrote the song, is something of a story teller. He concocted a story about a murder at Possum Kingdom Lake and it was such a good story that it has taken on a life of its own. Never mind that it's entirely fiction, it now has a bit of a cult following.

Possum Kingdom Lake (map) is in north central Texas, roughly midway between Dallas, Abilene and Witchita Falls. Looking at some pictures, it reminds me of Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, setting for the TV series Ozark.

Possum Kingdom Lake was the site of the 2018 Red Bull Cliff Diving Championship:

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2018 - Possum Kingdom Lake, Texas (USA) - Trailer from World of Freesports on Vimeo.

It took some time to find just where in the lake the cliff diving competition was held. Hell's Gate is the place.

Red Bull is kind of nuts. They have made a fortune selling soda pop for $5 a can and then they are using that fortune to promote all kinds of sports that don't fit in the mainstream, like mountain biking, air racing, high altitude balloon jumping and cliff diving. Makes me happy.



Booster

This rocket booster from the Shenzhou-12 launch landed on a civilian road in China.

Parachute for booster, from above

China's launch sites are far inland so the boosters don't fall into the ocean.

Friday, June 18, 2021

1942 Boeing A75N1 Stearman

1942 Boeing A75N1 Stearman

Over 10,000 of these airplanes were built during the 1930s & 1940s. They were the mainstay of flight training for the US Military through WW2. The Stearman has appeared here a couple of times.

The Death Penalty & Politics

Scene of the Boston Marathon Bombing

Crime & Consequences has a good post up about the upcoming Boston Marathon Bomber case at the Supreme Court.

I am ambivalent about the death penalty. On one hand I think it is a suitable punishment for violent crimes. On the other, the trial system is not always a reliable arbiter of justice, as we have seen from the numerous stories of people unjustly convicted. My other objection to the death penalty is how appeals to death sentences go on seemingly interminably, consuming the court's time and resources while more run of the mill cases get short-shrift.

Our prisons are another disaster. I would like to see prisoners put to work on farms or road building. The current system seems to be hamstrung by the prison guard unions, prison building contractors, state budgets, and angry people who just want all the criminals locked up.

Then there is the whole problem of what is the purpose of incarceration. Is it to punish the criminal? Reform him? Educate him? If he can be reformed, reforming would be good. Some of those are too far gone and cannot be reformed, but how do you tell?


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Indoctrination

Handwaving Freakoutery has a post up about how the methods society uses to indoctrinate itself are changing. The biggest prediction in there is that the higher education universe is about to collapse. That might not be a bad thing.

Jordan B. Peterson - Rene Johnston / Toronto Star / Getty

That post links a couple of other stories. One story at The Atlantic dissects an interviewer's technique for  distorting the guests views. 

Hammurabi

The other talks about the age old war between the red ants and the black ants.

P.S. The last linked story mentions the Nash Equilibrium, which rings a bell, so I check. It is named for John Forbes Nash Jr., a famous mathematician. He was portrayed by Russell Crowe in the movie A Beautiful Mind a few years ago.


Mighty Servant 1

Drone ship OCISLY (Of course I still love you) being loaded onto transport ship MS1 (Mighty Servant 1) in the Bahamas

OCISLY (Of course I still love you) is a barge that SpaceX uses as a landing platform to recover boosters from their Falcon 9 rockets. 

The drone ship (essentially a barge) is floating in the center of the picture. The bow section of MS1 (Mighty Servant 1) is on the left and the stern portion is on the right. The body of the ship that joins these two sections has been submerged to allow the OCISLY to float right over it. When it is in position, the MS1 will pump the water out of the ballast tanks and the whole ship will rise until the deck is above the surface, lifting the barge with it. Then they will drive to Vandenberg AFB in California via the Panama Canal.



Monday, June 14, 2021

Small Town Crime


Small Town Crime Trailer #1 (2017) | Movieclips Indie
Movieclips Indie

A pretty great crime thriller set in small town (quelle surprise!) somewhere in the northern Rocky Mountain region. I would have guessed Montana or Wyoming, but Wikipedia says it was shot in Utah. They drop a couple of names, but I'm pretty sure they are all red herrings. It is definitely not Orange County. Lots of wide open spaces and nearby big mountains. 

John Hawkes is an alcoholic ex-cop who is just a disaster. He's not far from hitting bottom. It must be set in back in the 80's because bartenders are still letting guys get drunk and drive home. I mean back when we had the big campaign against drunk driving courts ruled they were responsible, right? Anyway, he is so bad we almost quit watching it, but then he finds a badly injured young woman by the side of road and he starts picking himself up. From there it's pure noir, lots of shady characters telling all kinds of bullshit stories. The body count starts rising and the show culminates with a couple of well done gun fights. Best show I've seen in a while.

Variety has a decent review, but they seem surprised that the old rich dude (Robert Forster) living in a Rocky Mountain state has a high powered rifle and knows how to use it. I think that is more the norm in those areas. I would be surprised if he didn't have one.

Jeremy Ratchford as Orthopedic and James Lafferty as Tony Lama, hired killers in Small Town Crime 

There is a pair of hired killers, and while they aren't given a lot of dialog, Jeremy's character is memorable, and not just for his name. We only learned that through the subtitles. I mean what kind of name is 'Orthopedic'? I don't think it is ever mentioned. Reminds of previous duo's of hired killers I've seen in the movies.

Netflix, hour and a half long.

Dominoes


The Reverse Domino Effect
Action Lab Shorts

Cleaning out my email and I found this clip. You would have to be fairly precise in locating those bricks I would think. Just kind of cool.


Sunday, June 13, 2021

Rummikub

Rummikub

We play two or three hands of Rummikub most evenings these days. Sometimes just the wife and I, sometimes with the kids. It's a fairly simple minded game, much like gin or rummy or gin rummy (if you tell the difference between them you're a better man than I). The trick is that after someone has played some tiles, you can rearrange them into new combinations as long as when you are done all the combinations on the board are valid.

When the game starts it goes pretty quickly, people are just drawing one tile after another. Eventually people start laying down tiles and when you reach a critical mass of played tiles is when it gets interesting. People have fewer tiles in their hands and are looking to go out. Rearranging may involve multiple steps, taking tiles from one sequence, building new sequences and using the left over tiles to build another sequence. There might be dozen of these steps involved in a single play. Osmany is a master of it. Anyway, when we are in this stage of the game, when a player's turn comes, they may sit staring at the board for a long time, long enough for you to fall asleep, take a nap, catch a ball game, go to the beach. I exaggerate, but it might be several minutes. It doesn't really help to plan ahead because a single tile played can alter the entire situation.

It keeps us amused.

P.S. Rummikub showed up in an episode of Behzat Ç.