Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

Silicon Forest
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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Fat Freddy's Drop

Fat Freddy's Drop LOCK-IN Concert Film
Fat Freddy's Drop

I'm posting this long video because of the first song which has some very clever lyrics. While the band might sound black, they are a bunch of mostly white guys from New Zealand.

Bluetooth to FM Transmitter

Arsvita Bluetooth FM Transmitter

Since I have been using YouTube to listen to music, listening to the radio in my car has become frustrating. My new truck has a mini-phone jack, so I can connect my smartphone, pull up the YouTube app and listen to what I want without having to listen to any ads. It does take a minute to get everything set up and working before I drive off, but I am willing to put up with this minor inconvenience to not have to listen to yammering jackasses.

That's great for me, who's got a newish truck with a phono jack, but what if you're driving a 1974 Volvo and you don't want to spend a chunk of cash for a fancy-schmantcy new radio? You buy one of these Bluetooth to FM transmitters, Amazon has got a zillion of them. (I don't know if the one shown above is any good, I haven't tried it, I just like the way it looks.) You plug it into your cigarette lighter, it makes a Bluetooth connection to your phone, and then broadcasts the received audio on the FM band where your car radio can pick it up. Slicker than snot.

I just heard about this at lunch today. I might have to get one for my wife whose car is just old enough to have missed the great electronics revolution.

Chaos Rules

Title unknown - Xuanyu Han

Less and less stuff makes sense. I keep coming up with ideas on things could be organized better, but then I realize I'm never going to be able to sell the world on these ideas, everyone is too wrapped up with their fellows, cheering themselves hoarse in their own bubble / echo chamber. For example, Biden got elected because Zuckerberg took exception to Trump and financed a grass roots campaign to defeat him. Trump may be an asshole, but at least he wasn't destroying the economy.

Here's a couple of links that kind of explain where we are and where we're going.

Neal Stephenson's book The Diamond Age is starting to look like a remarkably accurate prophecy.

Castle in Schwerin

Castle in Schwerin

Sunday, November 28, 2021


Temperature in degrees Celsius (horizontal scale) versus Altitude if thousands of feet (vertical scale)

Tam talks about airliner stowaways and links to a gummint PDF wherein they mention a rule of thumb for calculating the temperature at a given altitude, so I thought I would plot it to see if it checked out.

The rule is given in this paragraph:

'double the first two numbers of altitude' is the same as dividing by 1,000 and the multiplying by 2, which is the same as dividing by 500. In order to make the graph readable, we are going to scale the altitude by a factor of 1,000, so we can leave off with the dividing by 1,000. Munging it around we end up with an equation that looks like this:

The section at the end tells Desmos that we don't care about altitudes (y) below ground level or above 40,000 feet.

I should compare this equation with another source, but duty calls, so no.


We started watching Glória, a Netflix series about a Radio Free Europe broadcasting station  in Portugal during the Cold War, so I thought I would see if there was any truth behind it. One thing I found was this story on The World News. The original is in Portuguese, Google translated it. The label on the first picture is completely wrong, but I think there was a school at the complex, so it might be from there.


▲ "There were around 20 to 30 translators from Eastern countries in Portugal, the Portuguese officials did not know those languages. Therefore, these people could be infiltrated", says researcher Vítor Madaíl

Vítor Madaíl is investigating the impact of RARET in Portugal, the center for relaying anti-communist propaganda. How do you see the Portuguese series from Netflix? It could have happened.

When, in 2017, Vítor Madaíl was looking for a topic for his master's thesis in the Contemporary Modern History course at ISCTE, he ran into a problem. He needed a story from the second half of the 20th century that would illustrate the relationship between the United States of America and Portugal. The Marshall Plan? It was already studied. The Portuguese introduction into NATO? The same thing. It was at that time that he turned to broadcasting in the middle of the Cold War, a vital weapon in the struggle for soft powerbetween the Soviet Union and the USA. That's where it ended up at RARET, a mega relay center created on July 4, 1951, with 196 hectares and 1.5 kilometers of antenna field, planted in the Herdade de Nossa Senhora da Glória do Ribatejo, connected to Radio Free Europe and financed by the CIA. Little or no information existed. From the side of North American literature, RARET was treated as a mere automatism. On the Portuguese side, an article here, a report there, little more. The question remained: how come no one had picked up on a history with more than 40 years in which Portugal emerged as one of the points of combat in the middle of the Cold War?

It took two years to complete the investigation. He interviewed former employees (Portuguese and North Americans, some of whom have died), consulted various archives, such as the Hoover Institute (where there are historical records such as maps or recordings of meetings of the two countries or even RARET retransmissions) or the National Defense Archive (where he discovered the blueprints of that huge American-Portuguese broadcasting complex). But you want more. He is doing a PhD on the same topic, to follow the entire period after the Estado Novo. He wants to understand how RARET has maintained its democracy with Portugal.

Now, as the premiere of Netflix's first Portuguese production approaches, the series “Glória” (on November 5), based precisely on RARET, the Observer spoke with Vítor Madaíl to understand how it was possible to implement an operation of that level in middle of a rural region, far from the Eastern bloc and the US. And how is it that António de Oliveira Salazar's regime, which restricted freedoms, agreed to join this crusade. And of course, we also tried to find out if one of the premises of the series created by screenwriter Pedro Lopes and director Tiago Guedes was even possible: the existence of a KGB spy in RARET. “It was entirely possible that what was fictionalized could have happened. About 30 translators from Eastern countries who could be infiltrated were here. This happened in Munich, at the Radio Free Europe headquarters where all the American propaganda came from. Here, as far as I know, it didn't happen, but it was possible”, he says.

▲ Vítor Madaíl recalls that RARET followed "the idea that the BBC developed during World War II: the free French speaking to the French in the interior" - Association for the Defense of the Ethnographic and Cultural Heritage of Glória do Ribatejo

From what he told me before, the story of the series “Glória” might not even have happened, because the 40 years of a relay center in Ribatejo were not in the plans.
Exactly. Radio Free Europe [REL] was to come for ten years. The men of the National Committee for Free Europe, which overseen the REL, had an innocent idea, because they thought they could raise the countries of Eastern Europe by using radio broadcasts to replace the local governments in those regions. Ten years of intense propaganda through broadcasting would be enough to change the internal order. This even before the existence of RARET. Americans, having the Voice of America, which is the equivalent of the BBC or National Broadcasting radio, could not use it for the same purpose. That is, for anti-communist propaganda. So, this Committee was founded, which was a joint partnership between the CIA and the State Department. All early men come from the former OSS, which is the predecessor of the CIA. When in 1949 this committee was founded, it is not founded with Radio Free Europe, it is done with other organizations, very dedicated to supporting refugees from Eastern Europe. When, however, it is realized that this support would be useful if refugees were to speak for their own country, they instituted the concept of “substitute radio”. It's the idea that the BBC developed during World War II: the free French speaking to the French countryside. Then came the idea of ​​making a radio, we were in the golden age of this technology. But where could they put it? In the part of Germany occupied by the North Americans, taking into account the Potsdam and Yalta Agreements. First in Munich and then broadcasters in other regions. Emissions began on June 4, 1950 to Czechoslovakia. But they quickly realized that, emitting there in a medium wave,

Because the Soviets could more easily interfere.
Precisely. It is necessary to relocate. That's where an initial study of a North American company comes in, with maps, where they will see the areas to reach the preferred targets. Here Portugal is identified, as well as southwestern Spain and northern Morocco. Except that, in addition to the technical issues of where to place the issuer to get the best coverage, there were a number of political issues. Spain was an international pariah, Morocco was not, so which regime gave guarantees? The Portuguese.

Why was it neutral?
No. Don't forget that we already had Base das Lajes here. When the British left, the Americans entered. We joined the Marshal Plan, with which, in a second phase, we got funds. And then, Portugal's entry into NATO, as a founding member in 1949. The relationship was, therefore, privileged. On the other hand, the regime was anti-communist, so Salazar saw this almost as a crusade. Not only did he pursue the communists locally, he also had the chance to do so through this radio.

"Gregory Thomas installs himself at the Hotel Avis, where Calouste Gulbenkian was staying, and tells him that he has to talk to Salazar and then go to São Bento. It is Ricardo Espírito Santo who makes these contacts. In the background, all the plans are made , antenna projects, which land to buy... And it is Salazar who contacts the National Broadcasting directly."

On the obelisk at the entrance of RARET is Salazar's sentence about the liberation of peoples from the Soviet regime, which is an enormous contradiction.
Yes Yes. And that brings us to another question: why was RARET never well known? It was very difficult for Salazar to publicly link himself with the Americans. They then realize that only with an agreement with Portugal. But the genesis of Radio Free Europe had also been cloaked in the US. It was an entity created by individuals. Therefore, they wanted to hide any connection to the US government. If there was a problem, the government could say it had nothing to do with it. That's why there was originally no public agreement between the two countries. What there is is a concession at the request of an entity to the Portuguese government, as it had already done with Radio Marconi.

Did anti-communist contents first travel from the US to Munich and only then did they reach Portugal?
Yes. Initially they departed from New York and were transmitted to Munich. Afterwards, they continued on to Biblis and Horzelrichen, which they relayed to target countries in the eastern bloc. This operation was short-lived and on precarious bases. It was at this stage that they used the mobile transmitter “Bárbara”, which belonged to the OCSS, the predecessor of the CIA. That vehicle would come to Gloria. With the inauguration of the Munich facilities, Radio Free Europe now has facilities where journalists, editors, editors and all the necessary staff to produce the broadcast's contents have been placed. They went to Maxoqueira, the receiving centre, on various frequencies from different channels in order to be able to reproduce themselves in the best quality retransmission. The circuit was: Maxoqueira, Auto-Monumental Building in Lisbon (RARET headquarters), Glória, target countries.

As for the negotiations between the US and Portugal, did they take a long time?
A little. The negotiator, Gregory Thomas, arrived in January 1950. He only got a positive response in April of that year. However, when the Anonymous Society of Radio Retransmission was formed, it was published in Diário da República. And you look at that and you see a banal company. Looks like a radio repair company, for example. Nobody cared what it really was. In Portugal, being the beginning of the Cold War, with the Korean War raging, and when the Soviets said they already had missiles, it was thought that this operation could turn the country into a target. There is then a discussion if it is worth having a radio with those characteristics here. It turned out to be Salazar's personal wish. There was a conversation with Ambassador Scott Nash, to which I had access, where an audience is requested to expose all the American interest. It happened in December of that year. But always with the idea that the US government had nothing to do with it. Salazar quickly understands what this is about, but it is not clear that he knew the CIA was involved. But I knew it was led by someone connected to the US government. Going back to Gregory Thomas, who had been commercial attache during World War II, being an OCSS agent, he was based in Lisbon. Establishes contacts with the Portuguese elite, one of them is Ricardo Espírito Santo, uncle of Ricardo Salgado. who had been a commercial attache during World War II, as an OCSS agent, was based in Lisbon. Establishes contacts with the Portuguese elite, one of them is Ricardo Espírito Santo, uncle of Ricardo Salgado. who had been a commercial attache during World War II, as an OCSS agent, was based in Lisbon. Establishes contacts with the Portuguese elite, one of them is Ricardo Espírito Santo, uncle of Ricardo Salgado.

▲ The exterior and interior of RARET's main building, in Glória do Ribatejo, when the relay center was still in operation - Association for the Defense of the Ethnographic and Cultural Heritage of Glória do Ribatejo

That is, the country as a bubble.
Yes, more conspiracy in this story. This is the person Gregory Thomas turns to to talk to Salazar. I heard the recording. He installed himself at the Hotel Avis, where Calouste Gulbenkian was staying, and told him that he had to go talk to Salazar and then go to São Bento. It is Ricardo Espírito Santo who makes these contacts. Thereafter, the negotiation takes place with the Chairman of the Board. In the background, all the plans, antenna projects, which land to buy are made… And it is Salazar who contacts the National Broadcasting directly to inform about this operation, asking for their help. The director of the Issuer, Mário Novais, who has never been with him, remains with this “mission”. And it is there that, through Tomás Pinto Basto [a family of reference in navigation logistics in the Iberian Peninsula], the terrain of RARET is discovered.

Was it the first bet?
No, there were others. That whole area was appetizing. It was necessary to have a flat spot, without major interferences for the waves to come out freely, a remote place, close to Lisbon, with little population. Gloria obeyed almost all conditions. 70 kilometers from Lisbon, the material was going by boat. There were no roads. It is the North Americans who pay for the electricity, the roads, because the region had nothing. But it had the ideal technical conditions.

Going back to the story of the ten-year concession, when do you realize that the operation will take longer?
The Soviets fought back. In Poland, East Berlin and Hungary, for example. We are beginning to realize that RARET will have to be prolonged. There is an internal debate in 1955, midway through the concession, between the Minister of Communications, the Minister of the Navy, the Minister of the Air Force, among others, to understand what to do with that infrastructure after the concession ends. What was planned was that he returned to the State. But due to international events, the men at Radio Europa Livre understand that this is something to go on. In 61, during the renewal of the contract, diplomatic relations between the US and Portugal began to have problems because of the Colonial War. The Americans had not helped much at certain times, Portugal joins the UN in 1955 and is exposed to international criticism, the pressure from the Indian Union was quite great. Relationships, which had started in the 1950s, will become more strained. This culminates in the year of all dangers, which is 1961, with different episodes such as the invasion of Angola or the taking of Goa. When it comes to the negotiation phase, the Americans, who think that RARET is not a base for Lajes, are convinced that the concession will last. And behold, Salazar drops the bomb: there is no possibility of granting a new concession, a maximum of six months.

"In 74, the 25th of April occurs and it is the officials themselves who make an effort to stop RARET from leaving. The revolution stopped at the gates of RARET. communist cell there, where there is talk of an imperialist radio, but the truth is that the communist ideology stopped at the door where the other ideology was."

And this is Salazar's personal decision?
Yes. Americans are left to die. In August 61 the construction of the Berlin Wall begins, the Cuban crisis begins to escalate, and there is a transition from the Eisenhower administration to that of Kennedy. In other words, Americans need this means of soft power more than ever. It was an extremely important vehicle for revealing reality to the Soviets, according to the Americans. And that's when Salazar takes off the rug. But like the base of Lajes, it never completely removes the rug. It's just that, according to the internal reports I consulted, the Americans felt that this decision meant keeping silent for a year. It was necessary to move, representing more costs, and it was probably not even possible to make a RARET in the rest of Western Europe.

And the Soviet Union knew this. He felt at an advantage.
Clear. A lot of money was spent on their part trying to impede communications. A budget bigger than that of the Americans. It was astronomical.

So how is the imbroglio resolved?
It was delayed every six months. In April 1963 all this calms down, with a new contract being signed for another ten years. In 1973, Radio Free Europe was being campaigned at the congress where it was said to be a “relic of the Cold War”. That was the term. It even started before, with the publication of a magazine, Ramparts, where the link between the RFE and the CIA is exposed. Until then, that connection had been denied. A fundraising campaign, “Crusade for Freedom” was even created. But when you look at the money raised, you realize that they have nothing to do with it. The RFE was held by the CIA, no doubt about it. And this happens at a time when there was an intention to do away with radio stations, where advertising was carried out. Because there was an attempt to get closer to the Soviet countries. It was part of a time that had already passed. This was the campaign. There is even a secret study, carried out by the CIA, in 1969, which analyzes the consequences of the closure of the radio in West Germany, Portugal and Spain. However, the concession here ends. There is a period of calm in the USA, but in 1974 the military coup in Portugal, the 25th of April, took place. RARET is without a contract at the time. Americans are worried again.

Was this frictional environment present at RARET?

No. The employees continued to work quietly. In 1974, the 25th of April takes place and it is the employees themselves who are pushing for RARET not to leave. The revolution stopped at the gates of RARET. There is a small article in Avante from 1973 in which one realizes that there is a communist cell there, where there is talk of an imperialist radio, but the truth is that the communist ideology stopped at the door where the other ideology was. This one spoke louder. Because it had to do with people's survival. There is even a story where it is said that a man rebelled against this entire American context and whoever was in charge of RARET replied that he could leave, but the salary would continue to be paid. They didn't want waves.

It was another kind of waves…
Yes, positive waves. It's a Hertzian war that happens, that you don't see. As Vaclav Havel [the last president of Chescoslovakia and the first of the Czech Republic] says, the important thing for collapsing the Berlin Wall was not the shots or the bombs, but the weight and importance that Radio Free Europe had on the conscience of people.

▲ Vítor Madaíl is undertaking a PhD on the same topic, to follow the entire period after the Estado Novo. Wants to understand how RARET has maintained its democracy with Portugal - TOMAS SILVA/OBSERVER

After the 25th of April, and until the dismantling of RARET, were there any other fundamental episodes in your investigation?
A bomb attack in 1975.

The author was never known. There was talk of the FP25…
There is no evidence of that.

Couldn't figure it out?
No. The document was in the Benavente court, but it has already been thrown away.

But wasn't it a massive attack?
No. Two firecrackers blew off the antennas. They didn't fall. It was claimed by an anti-communist and anti-imperialist group. Ronald Reagan was coming here at that time, it was to get attention.

"At the time, we were at a stage where, in the North American perspective, the level of the conflict in Germany could be reached. And radio would be one of the places the Soviets would want to occupy. Having this backup in the extreme of the Iberian Peninsula was guaranteed. "

He told me in one of the first conversations we had that what can be seen in the series “Glória”, about a Portuguese spy, may even have happened…
There may have been. It is perfectly possible that what was fictionalized by Pedro Lopes could have happened. There were about 20 to 30 translators from Eastern countries in Portugal, the Portuguese officials did not know those languages. There had to be someone who edited, who chose the broadcasts, who translated at Maxuqueira [receiving center] what came from Munich. There could be a risk of rebroadcasting Radio Moscow broadcasts and that would be a shot in the foot. Therefore, these people could be infiltrated. And that happened in Munich, where there was even an attack on the premises of Radio Free Europe, which were destroyed. There are even stories of insiders who got to know each other thanks to news coverage. They were from the Romanian and Bulgarian secret services, for example. Not here.

But is it a possibility?
Yes. The PIDE, for example, had important control over the people who entered RARET.

This is visible in the series.
There is a report from the PIDE describing the safety of the Monumental garage. When Portugal joined NATO, the army was restructured. And one of the structures that were flagged as critical is RARET. As a concession, a private thing, it is immediately included in this defense plan for the interior as a critical point, like hospitals or refineries. For the Santarém military zone, since there were not enough forces, the responsibility, in case of an uprising, is assigned to the National Legion. RARET, right from the start, has a GNR post. It wasn't in Gloria, it was there. When we arrived on the 25th of April, the following week, a platoon of troops went there, which did not leave until August 1974. It was, therefore, of great importance. If there was no risk, they wouldn't go.

Didn't anyone in the Armed Forces Movement want to take over RARET?
No, no. They wanted to defend her.

With few documents and records from Portugal, what did you discover on the North American side in your research?
At first, Salazar only authorized the retransmission. It may look smaller, but no. He had the chance to say, on an international level, that nothing was transmitted from there. In the 1961 contract, it was already possible to transmit. At the headquarters, in Lisbon, there was a group of studios, in which everything was set up to change, at the last minute, certain events. The translators were even there to give voice to new recordings. But there was no newsroom. The content was produced in the USA. Here there was only one backup .

TThen, another of the reasons for RARET to be based here is that at the time we were at a stage where, in the North American perspective, it could reach the level of the conflict in Germany. And radio would be one of the places the Soviets would want to occupy. Having this backup at the far end of the Iberian Peninsula provided guarantees. As for the figures that made up RARET, there are many Portuguese linked to the regime. António Ferro's son, Tomás Pinto Basto, António de Cértima, who will remain until 1974. In fact, Pinto Basto will stay until the 80s.

▲ "The creation of a maternity hospital or a school (in the images) is also to ingratiate themselves with that population. So that not too many waves could arise" - Association for the Defense of the Ethnographic and Cultural Heritage of Glória do Ribatejo

Were everyone comfortable with this connection to the US?
It was more relevant to be working for anti-communism. People were imbued with a spirit. At the RARET meetings, they are convinced that they are doing a work for freedom, which in Portugal there was not. They were doing something for the west. Just as they are convinced that they are doing a great work in Africa. Gregory Thomas goes to Africa in the 60s and the newspaper O Séculogives this news. And here there is a double use, the two countries are used. “If the Portuguese are helping the North Americans against Soviet totalitarianism, you are helping us on the African continent against the same ideology, perpetuated by the liberation movements”, something like that. It's an exchange for an exchange. On the American side, it is also understood, at some level, that they are all fighting a common enemy. And in Africa too. They are almost matched fights. The final position of States at the level of presidents is one thing, but at the intermediate levels there was an understanding.

Did RARET's operation reach the level of the US president?
No, but that of the president of RFE yes. In Kennedy's presidency there is a big lunch to expose the work of the RFE that underwrites the role of the radio. I knew there were broadcasts in Portugal, but the conversation didn't end there.

What was, in fact, the power of RARET?
It was a platform comparable to the Lajes base, but within the scope of soft powerWithout RARET, the Americans could not speak as they spoke to the Eastern bloc. Whenever any tension happened here, Americans were deeply shaken by the possibility of the broadcasters being shut down. In the 1980s, it tried to replicate the operation in Israel, but it never went ahead. In 1991, when there is no longer the Berlin wall and the democratization process begins to take place in the Eastern bloc, with the USSR already fallen, there is a new agreement for a 15-year concession, under the presidency of Bill Clinton. And here the agreements are already public, of course. The concession rose, however, through the ranks. Before RARET ended, there was, therefore, the will to continue, even with the end of the Cold War.

What is the fundamental reason for your order?
The costs. Under Bill Clinton's presidency, there is a relocation of US strategy, where the focus is on the ex-Soviet republics. And this had already started to happen in the 1980s. From 1977 onwards, they began to emit even further east. RARET also starts broadcasting to Portuguese communities around the world, during a certain time. In 91 there is a large investment in equipment. Meanwhile, Vaclav Havel makes a dollar offer to establish the headquarters of the RFE in the former communist parliament in Prague, out of Munich, where they still stand today. In other words, having the operation in Portugal no longer makes sense. This story ends with the 500 watt transmitters, which had recently been placed in RARET, where transmission begins to be made by satellite. In the 90's, this equipment is dismantled by former employees to be installed in the Mariana Islands. And this is where Radio Free Asia is created. They are there to work for a year. The operation moves to China, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc. RFE, on the other hand, goes to countries like Georgia or Azerbaijan. And that's it, the memory is waiting for someone to tell it.

"Who defended RARET? You have to think that the extreme left was critical, for example. How did the government withstand the pressure? What was the intervention of the US embassy? Why did RARET continue after the fall of the Berlin Wall ? That's all I want to address and investigate in my doctoral thesis."

How much has the Portuguese State collected in this period of more than 40 years?
I can't tell you concretely. Gregory Thomas told Salazar that in 1963, without the jobs, the net contribution was about 12 million dollars to the Portuguese state. Not to mention jobs, of course. Funds were important. As well as for the population of Gloria. They were the ones who asked RARET not to leave there.

Why did the Americans also want to invest in that region?
RARET was a Portuguese company. At the administrative level, 60% were Portuguese. The rest were American. On their part, there was an attempt at public relations. They realized that this social responsibility was important because it created bonds. Until the 60s there was medicine for work, but, apart from the benefit of working there, there was little else. The creation of maternity hospitals or schools is also to ingratiate themselves with that population. So that not too many waves would rise. That is, since we are here, we give something back. Tomorrow you can speak for us.

It was the American dream there.
Yes. And it had an effect.

Why did you get involved in this story? Do you have any connection to RARET or the region?
None. I had to present innovative work that no one else had done. I wanted a job in the second half of the 20th century and that involved the relations between Portugal and the USA, during the Cold War. When I started to read the bibliography, I realized that NATO was covered, as well as Lajes Base or the Marshall Plan. Several areas were covered. I had to find RARET after looking at broadcasting. I started to read the North American authors, and I realized that, in between, nobody spoke about this reality. Just a lot of passing. They treat RARET as if it were an automatism. We have to think that the relationship begins in the Estado Novo, but that, internally, there are many changes. So it doesn't affect anything? Was it the Americans who came here or the other way around? I started to realize that there was a pretty big story to tell.Exame , SIC also did a report there. But all very lightly. Who defended RARET? You have to think that the extreme left was critical, for example. How did the government handle the pressure? What is the intervention of the American embassy? Why did RARET continue after the fall of the Berlin wall? This is all that I want to address and investigate in my doctoral thesis.

Friday, November 26, 2021

MiG-25 Foxbat

This Jet Terrified the West: The MiG-25 Foxbat

I ran a search on my blog and I found numerous posts about various MiGs, but the only post that mentioned the MiG-25 was one about the number of Iraqi aircraft the Iranians shot down. So. While I still don't have all the various MiGs straight in my head, I'm getting a better idea.

This plane, or its successor sounds like it might have the basis for the Clint Eastwood movie Firefox.

P.S. Jet aircraft - The highest current world absolute general aviation altitude record propelled aircraft is 123,520 ft set by Aleksandr Vasilyevich Fedotov in a MiG-25M on August 31, 1977.

Big Ideas

I have a number of Big Ideas [tm] that have been rattling around in my head for a while now. Mostly they are just idle thoughts, but now I'm thinking I might actually like to pursue one, well, as soon as the new house remodeling project is done and I can divest myself of one of these houses. It's going to take a while to finish. Some people think we might be able to finish up by spring. I'm afraid it may be another year. Whatever. Real estate prices keep climbing and with the way inflation is going I doubt they are going to collapse. They might not continue to increase at the same rapid rate we have seen recently. To coin a really bad phrase - inflation lifts all boats. Unfortunately most people don't have a boat. That's enough economics for today.


Steam Engine

Convert an automobile engine to run on steam. Start with an engine that has one of those variable valve timing set ups. You only need the intake to be open for a short time, maybe 10 or 20 degrees of the crank rotation. Change the cam timing to run at the same speed as the crankshaft. Probably going to need a custom camshaft. Might be a bit of a trick for a custom camshaft house (like Iskendarian) to grind a weird cam, but I am confident they could do it.

I've seen some conversions that other people have done and they typically are using the spark plug holes for the steam inlet. That requires a whole new valve system.

Big problem with letting steam in through the inlet valves is that high pressure steam is going to be trying to push the valves open. However, valves are small, steam pressure is not that high (2 or 300 PSI), and valve springs are strong. You might have to go to stronger racing springs. Automotive speed shops could help you there.

And no boiler. Use a steam generator - hot flame heating a short length of pipe. You have to balance the amount of water being pumped in to the amount you can turn to steam in that short length of pipe. Mount it where the carburetor used to go.

Use the steam engine to turn a generator to provide power for the house. Build a garden shed / shack at the bottom of the hill to house it. Then I'd have a place to hide out when modern life gets to be too much.

Magnetohydrodynamic Generator

It's possible to generate electricity without any moving parts using a magnet, some wire and a flame. To make it practical would take bit of futzing, or maybe a whole lot of futzing, but it's been done before so it should be possible to do it again. I'm thinking if you could make one the size of a Coleman lantern you could use it to supply power when you go camping. It should be quieter than an engine powered generator, should be nearly silent making no more noise than gas lantern or stove, but who knows? Maybe these kind of devices make some unearthly howling which is why no one uses them. Could also be used for sensors in remote locations that need to make intermittent readings and report them via radio. 

Industrial Strength Litter Box

I've been sifting cat turds out of the kitty litter in the litter box since forever. I know the new thing is to train your cat to use the toilet, but I'm not going to try that with our cat. Like me, he is old and set in his ways. I don't know if he could be trained. We bought one of those robotic things when they first came out ten years ago. It did not work out. I would be willing to pay good money for one that worked reliably and didn't need to be cleaned itself, ever. Well, ten years would be good enough, then you can throw it away and buy a new one.

Dirigible Spaceship

If we are going to send people to visit other planets, I think our spaceship needs be built like one of those rotating ring space stations we used to see pictures of in science fiction magazines. If you are going to be gone for years the one thing you do not want to run out of is air, so we make a big balloon, big enough to contain our rotating space station, and fill it with air. Yes, you could compress the air and store it in tanks that would take up much less room, but tanks are heavy and if one gets punctured it will lose all of it's air in hurry. You puncture a balloon and it will leak, but it will leak very slowly. People often shoot a blimps, the bullets make holes and the blimps leak, but the volume is so large and the leak is so slow they never notice. Mind you, they check for holes and patch them when they find them, but it's not a big deal.

Also, we are in space, so making storage compartments smaller doesn't really buy you anything. It's not like there is any wind resistance.

I was thinking about making the balloon out of metal, something strong to resist space debris, but that's pointless. Any debris you encounter is going to be traveling at several miles per second and at that velocity it will punch through anything that gets in its way, and if it's a metal plate, there going to fragments of metal blasting away from the site of the impact causing who knows what kind of mayhem. Better to put up something that will give way without causing massive secondary damage.

Of course, we are likely to encounter numerous bits of debris during our voyage and if we have one big balloon we will end up leaking like a sieve, so we fill our big balloon with a whole bunch of little balloons, balloons the size of a blimp maybe. (I'm imagining our big balloon would be maybe 600 feet in diameter. Our big balloon would be filled with 600 blimps.) Now a routine maintenance task is crawling around in this giant balloon pit, finding holes and patching them. You could use ropes like mountain climbers to force your way through. Need to be careful. Lose contact with your rope are you could easily become lost and / or stuck, then we'd need to send out a rescue party to find you.

And then there are the computer programming projects, but those are going to have to wait.

Air-to-Air Photography

Mummies photographing a DHL Boeing 757-200

Mostly I don't concern myself with how a photographer gets a picture of an airplane, but sometimes I do. A closeup photo taken when the plane is in flight, at high altitude, those kind of get my attention. Photos like that take certain amount of work. This is the first photo I have seen of that work in progress.

That's what Dietmar Schreiber does. His web site ( is full of airplane photos. This photo looks like it was taken from a helicopter, and since he has so many photos of this plane, it had to have been specially arranged. I suspect the jetliner was flying slowly, like 200 MPH, that would allow it to turn around and make several passes so the 100 MPH helicopter could stay within photo distance.

Bogus Word History

In which Beats are Sweet

Some people just like to make things up as they go.

Thursday, November 25, 2021


How Morocco Secretly Controls China, India, The United States, And the World
Jack Chapple

Jack's presentation is a little breathless, a little OMG what are we going to do? But he lays out the facts pretty well. I kind of thought that the population explosion was due to our conquering many of the nasty diseases that killed so many people. I never consider the impact of food production.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Moscow Rules

Startup of a Russian "type 458" gyro block of a MiG-21 fighter after almost 40 years of storage

YouTube Description:
The "type 458" gyro block (Russian: 458МКС-15-32) in combination with the AGD-1 1122A/B (Russian: АГД-1) type attitude indicator/artificial horizon is a part of the inertial navigation system used in the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 supersonic jet fighter aircraft. The same gyro block is also used on a big variety of other Russian aircraft still flying today. The shown gyro block was kept in storage for almost 40years after being rejected, this is the third startup after the storage. The current setup yet lacks the matching AGD-1 1122A/B type HSI instrument, instead the pitch indicator block (syncro resolver and AC servomotor with servo amp) of a AGB-3K type attitude indicator is wired up for operation. Power requirement of the system is 27V DC and 3x36V 400Hz AC. Steady state total power consumption of the system is around 60W off the 27V bus (with a solid state 3phase 400Hz sine-wave inverter with 80% efficiency). Video quality is rather poor as usual :)

Just the coolest thing I've seen today. The way it jerks into position and the way it takes forever to get to full speed are just very cool. Evidently they are still in use, though I think new designs all use MEMS and can fit inside your smartphone. Previous inertial navigation post here.


Isaac Aismov's Foundation


Spotted Toad has a post up about Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. I enjoyed the first half, made me think maybe I should read it again. It's been at least 50 years since I read them. The second half is a review of some kind of TV series being made that is based on the books. That part didn't interest me, so I didn't finish reading the post. The first half is good though.