Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Who's in charge?

Blowing up the Nord Stream pipeline was an act of war. As long as we can plausibly deny having blown it up, we may forestall a reprisal. Besides not knowing who did it, I also wonder who this blast was aimed at. You might say it was aimed at the Russians and was designed to cut off the supply of money that Germany was paying for the natural gas being pumped through this pipeline. But the Russia shut off the supply of gas to these pipelines some time ago, so there's no gas flowing west and likewise no money going east. Now it will make a difference in the future if Russia and Germany ever normalize relations again, but without the pipeline Germany has less reason to do this. Right now it's a hammer blow against Germany and the European Union.

We may not have any proof of who blew it up, but the most belligerent and capable actor is the USA. The standard method of criminal investigation is to identify who had the means, the motive and the opportunity, and all three of those point to the USA. 

All of which makes me wonder who is in charge here. There's been a lot of blather in the blog-o-sphere that President Joe Biden mental faculties are in serious decline. Some of the stories are rather persuasive. If those stories are true, then someone else must be running the show. Who would that be? The White House chief of staff, Ron Klain? He's leaving after the elections next month. The Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin? He denies that we blew up the Nord Stream pipeline. Or do we have a rogue faction operating under cover? The same rogue faction that panicked Pelosi into calling out the National Guard back in early 2021 (and I don't mean Trump and the 'insurrectionists')?

Or maybe Biden hasn't lost his marbles, he just doesn't care what the press or the public thinks anymore. After all he's the Imperial President of the Empire of America, nobody can touch him.

RC Mower

RC Mower

Spotted this machine on the way back from lunch yesterday. It isn't a robot, it's simply radio controlled, like a toy car or airplane. Their big claim to fame is the ability to climb and mow steep slopes which makes it perfect for all those freeway embankments.

RC Mowers TK-52XP Tracked Rotary Mower (52")

RC Mowers TK-52XP Tracked Slope Mower on Steep Highway Overpass
RC Mowers USA

Tuesday, October 4, 2022


I'm reading Andy Weir's Project Hail Mary and he's messing about with light and spectroscopy and I was just reading about that for my post about the Keanu Reeves movie Siberia and all this got me to thinking about electrons.

I think the problem I have is that there are two forms of heat and I don't understand how they are connected. There is the gross form of heat where atoms vibrate. As I recall, all atoms are vibrating all the time. The higher the temperature, the stronger the vibration. The only time they stop vibrating is when they are cooled all the way down to absolute zero. No vibration, no motion, no temperature. 

Atoms at peace don't vibrate much, they are content with their lot, locked into fixed relationships with their neighbors. Everybody minds their own business, but they all talk to each other, neighborly like. No hot-rodders tearing through our town, least not since that Packer kid's girl dumped him.

Heat things up and the vibrations get stronger and all those friendly, neighborly bonds aren't quite so strong, or maybe they've just move out of reach. It's like our fence has been doubled and our lots are drifting apart.

But then there's the other kind of heat where the electrons get excited. A photon comes blasting in from out of town, hits one of our happy little atoms and one of the electrons gets boosted to a higher orbit. Okay, it's not an orbit, it's a higher state, you know, closer to nirvana. But then, after a while, the electron returns to its previous, normal state and in the process emits a photon. 

Now we come to the crux of the matter - what is 'after a while'? What determines when that electron decides to return to its previous, lower state? Does it take a while to figure our that nirvana isn't all it's cracked up to be? Yeah, somethin's goin' on that I do not understand.

P.S. Andy Weir also wrote The Martian, which got made into a movie, and Artemis, about a moon base. The movie was pretty great. Artemis was entertaining.

Joe Declares War

President Joe Biden called me this afternoon like he always does, to chat, you understand. It let's us catch up on what's going on in the world and in each other's lives. Anyway, this afternoon he tells me that he has struck a huge blow for America, he has struck Germany! Farm out Joe!

Angry Birds

B-25J Mitchell

The Shekel visits the Kalamazoo Air Zoo and discovers the original Angry Birds.

Eight machine guns mounted in the nose of a B-25J

The J version of the B-25 was the gunship version with (14) 50 caliber machine guns pointed forward.

Monday, October 3, 2022

State Terror

I still don't understand why we blew up the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea. Tom Luongo took a stab at it now Adam Piagott is giving us his take.

The attack on the Nord Stream pipelines is comparable to blowing up Bonneville dam or destroying an electrical power plant. So far no terrorist organization has stepped forward to claim responsibility, but then this isn't a typical terrorist attack. There were no immediate casualties, no bloody bodies being shown on the nightly news, nothing visceral that would project fear into the general population. 

But it was a terrorist act none-the-less. We aren't going to see the impact of this immediately, but fossil fuel and electrical power prices in Europe are already skyrocketing. Politicians are making mealy mouthed proclamations about how they are going to get more fuel from other places, but all that blather is just so much noise. It's like somebody blew up the only gas station in the town where you live and friendly Joe Biden has offered to send you a gallon of gas by bicycle courier from the next county over. Thanks a lot Joe, that's really going to help.

I expect Europe is going to suffer mightily and I fully expect more war. Can't say where, but there's going to be more of it.

Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Curse of Stuff

Broke down old office chair

One of the problems faced by our materialistic culture is how to get of what we don't want. I have an old office chair that is broken in couple of places. I could have throw it away and gotten a new chair, but getting rid of the old one would be a problem. I could cut it up and stuff it into my trash can, but it's going to consume most of the space in my trash can, which means it could take several weeks to dispose of it, depending on how much other trash there was. Thank god I don't live in Portland where they only collect trash once every two weeks.

The pneumatic cylinder supporting the chair has collapsed so I propped it up with a 2 x 4 block. The foam in one of the arms collapsed and edge of the underlying plastic arm was digging into my arm so I wrapped with an old terry cloth towel. 

I could get a bigger trash can, but then garbage hauler is going to want a hundred bucks a month instead of fifty, and I don't need to throw away an office chair every week. I needed to rid of a couch a while back so I loaded it into the truck and took it to the dump. Cost me like $60 to leave it there.

We spent a couple, maybe three grand getting debris hauled away from the new house remodeling project over the last couple of years. I really hated to throw some of that stuff away, it could have been really useful! But I know I am not going to do actually do anything with it. I did post a couple of ads on Craig's List to see if I could give some of it away. I did manage to get rid of the entire set of kitchen cabinets along with the granite countertops. We also sold a fancy electric range and I gave away a couple of solid core doors, but they didn't really amount to a hill of beans compared to the stuff we sent to the landfill, which was at least 3 big dumpsters worth.

We were scrambling last week to get the new house cleared out to make it ready for sale which means our recycling bin is stuffed to the gills with cardboard. Even without outside input it is still over half way full each time. All those Amazon boxes, I expect.

We got that all under control but we still have a bunch of styrofoam which is like a monster from your under your bed. It has no weight, it can't hurt you, but it won't go away and you can't get rid of it. Nobody wants it. Until now.

Now we have Agilyx, a 24 hour facility in Tigard that takes styrofoam. It's a 30 minute drive but we got rid of a big pile of styrofoam with no fuss and no bother.

Agilyx reactor where post-use plastic is broken down through the pyrolysis process

I hope they can collect enough styrofoam to make it pay off. Gah, styrofoam. It can be really useful, but it's so cheap that people just use it willy-nilly and discard it and you're stuck with a bunch of styrofoam eating into your life.

P.S. The folding arms on the chair are a big plus. I only use the left one. I leave the right one folded out of the way. That allows me to roll us closer to my desk since the arm is blocking me. Makes life easier all around.

Saturday, October 1, 2022



This one is powered by a radial engine unlike the last one which was turbine poweredMont-Saint-Michel in the background. An2 has been here before.

Seattle House

Some dude standing in front of my childhood home in Seattle, Washington.

The stone wall wasn't there when we lived there 60 years ago. There was a gentle slope, a slope that was a real struggle for ten year old me to push the mower up. It was steep enough that to go cross wise, the mower would be crab-walking, which leads to a ragged cut, which means you get it cut it again anyway. 

Via IAman

Geopolitics is like a Multi-player Version of Go

The Biden Doctrine: New World Order or Nuclear Armageddon?
Link goes to the video. I like this splash screen.

In the video linked above, Tom Luongo of Gold Goats 'n Guns, talks about board games like chess, Monopoly, Risk and most importantly Go. He feels that Go most closely resembles how geopolitics plays out in the real world. People plot out their attack and if all goes well, with the turn of one piece whole swaths of territory change hands. The board game is played between two people, but real geopolitics is played between several players, maybe as many as a dozen, or a hundred, depending on who's counting. That sounds like a fairly accurate depiction.

Another point is that these players are not necessarily countries. They are factions. Factions may cross territorial boundaries and multiple factions may exist within one country. Factions are can bound together by ideology, a charismatic leader, blood oaths, or most likely, by mutual financial interests.

Turbo An2

Turbo AN2M

A turbine powered biplane! What won't they think of next?

During 2013, Antonov announced that it had successfully flown for the first time a new version of the An-2, dubbed the An-2-100, which was fitted with a three-blade reversible propeller and a 1,100-kilowatt (1,500 shp) Motor Sich MS-14 turboprop running on kerosene rather than Avgas, which is no longer produced in CIS countries. That same year, the company stated that it had received orders for upgrading "hundreds" of the An-2 planes still in operation in Azerbaijan, Cuba and Russia to the An-2-100 upgrade version. - Wikipedia

There are still a bunch of An2's out there flying around. 
Antonov sees a considerable potential market for the An-2-100, as there are over 54 An-2s flying in Ukraine alone, with around 330 more still flying in Russia and up to another 1,200 grounded there. Antonov says another 290 An-2s are flying in Kazakhstan, 143 in Uzbekistan, 89 in Turkmenistan, 82 in Belarus, 63 in Azerbaijan, 30 in Kyrgyzstan, 13 in Moldova and 4 in Armenia. - FlightGlobal

Avgas is no longer being produced in CIS countries? Well, there's Avgas and there's Avgas. At least one Russian outfit is still producing 100LL.


Siberia - Movie 2018

Siberia Official Trailer (2018) - Keanu Reeves
Saban Films

We watched this odd little film last night. Today I am musing about it and it pops into my head that it's a Greek tragedy! I couldn't tell you which one, but there are just so many elements that are, um, iconic? Is that the word I want? I dunno. I'll just tell you about it and you can decide for your own dang self.

Kean-o (that's what I call him because no matter how many times my oldest tells me, I can never remember how to pronounce his name. Besides, who cares? It's not like I going to be talking to anyone in his universe. Though now that we're on the subject, we should probably all just call him Neo. I mean that's when he first crossed my event horizon. 

Blue Diamonds

Anyway, as I was saying before I got distracted, Kean-o is trying to facilitate a transaction involving a dozen, giant blue diamond gemstones. I mean giant like one carat, not like 20 or something ridiculous, he just has a handful of healthy sized gems. Well, he would if his partner would show up, but he doesn't. Matter of fact he never shows. We never see him. Kean-o calls him every five minutes from a new cell-phone and leaves him a voicemail, a message that is never returned. Grrr (that's Russian for Hmmm), me thinks there's skullduggery afoot.

The meeting is in St. Petersburg and the sale is supposed to be for $50 million dollars. $50 million for a dozen gems works out to around four million each. That sounds a little steep, until you realize the dollar isn't worth what it used to be, and there are a heck of lot more people now with big piles of money (10 times as many billionaires now as they were in 2000) just itching for something to spend it on, so of course luxury items have skyrocketed. And then these stones are special, and to the right knucklehead that alone can make them worth a zillion times more than their nominal value.

The customer is not happy and Kean-o is in the hot seat, so he asks for two days to track down the diamonds. Any normal transaction, you would expect Kean-o to apologize and they would just say good bye. Somehow I suspect his thinking was influenced by the prospect of a multi-million dollar commission. How much? Gems are only worth about a quarter of their retail price. You can buy them wholesale for half of what the retailers charge, and the distributors probably get them from the miners for half of that. So depending on where they are getting them, how much skin they have in the game, and how many people there are between them and the source, it could be anywhere from one to seventy five percent. I'm going to say 25% because you are going to need that much money to support yourself in the rarefied atmosphere that your clientele inhabits. Probably split it with his partner. Might even be working for a retailer who has offered to split the profit on this very exquisite set of highly desirable blue diamonds that have been sitting in his vault for the last dozen years or so.

Rigid Cell Phone Faraday Cage**
(At 1:36:17 from the end on Netflix)

Naturally, Kean-o calls his partner and leaves a voicemail. Actually, the first thing he does is change phones. He's got a bunch of cell phones and a bunch of brand new pre-paid SIM cards (you can tell they are new because they are still in the credit-card sized cards they come in and Kean-o has to break them out of the card). Anyway, he breaks out a new phone and calls Pyotr and leaves a voicemail and then he puts his phone inside a container. From the way it is built and the careful way he stows the phone I surmise it's a Faraday cage. Okay, now we're being double paranoid. But he's waiting for a call from his partner, and inside that box that phone isn't going to be receiving any phone calls. Bit of a dilemma there. He calls Pyotr repeatedly throughout the movie. Pyotr never answers. Matter of fact, we never see him. Kean-o believes he exists, so we do to.

Now he gets a message that Pyotr is in Mirny which is in the middle of Siberia. Kean-o hires a private jet to take him there. Pyotr's brother works in a mine there. Kean-o waits by the gate for him to get off work. We see a scene of a large industrial complex, looks like an oil refinery. Well cool, another big industrial establishment I didn't know existed. That used to bother me, finding out about giant stuff I had never heard of, but I've gotten used to it. There's a new one popping up every day. 

Mirny Open Pit Diamond Mine and Adjacent Airport

Mirny Open Pit Diamond Mine

So I go look up Mirny on Google Maps to see if I can find any sign of this giant industrial complex in the middle of Siberia, and it's not there. There is, however, a giant frigging hole in the ground. Looks like asteroid strike except there's no damage, no upheaval, just a big whole in the ground. Looks suspiciously like some kind of evil Cold War era defense project, but it's not. It's a diamond mine. I'll be durned.

Back to our story, Andrei, Pyotr's brother, doesn't know where Pyotr is either, but assures us that he will be back in couple of days. So our rich American gets acquainted with the locals - a gang of rowdy's who take him bear hunting. They all have big fancy bolt-action rifles. They give Kean-o a single shot rifle , one like you might give a kid who is learning to shoot. After making an series of jokes about how they have the big guns they eventually give him a bullet for his gun. Bullet, cartridge, don't quibble, I'm trying to tell a story here. 

He also gets acquainted, biblically, with the waitress at the local diner. Can't say as I blame her. Fancy foreigner shows up in their podunk little town, of course people are going to be interested. She's of marrying age, too, so probably more susceptible to sexual urges.

Now it transpires that there are several other players in this game and another near identical set of blue diamonds, but this other set is fake. However they aren't fake like the ones you buy at the five and dime, these are also genuine diamonds, but they are manufactured diamonds. Presumably the original set are natural diamonds. These diamonds are so good the only way they can be told apart is via a spectroscopic examination.

Pyotr sold the fake diamonds to one of these other players, some dude called Samasov and he has discovered the deception and isn't too happy about it. You know, that might explain why we haven't heard from Pyotr.

Kean-o goes back to St. Petersburg and goes through Pyotr's old hotel room, again. This time he finds a pistol hidden under the false bottom of a suitcase. And then he notices a fat blue candle on the counter. Wait a minute, that candle looks just like the one in the Gorynch Guest House* in Mirny where he  was supposed to meet Pyotr. I mean, what are the odds? Apply boot heel to candle, it crumples, and looky there, a little red velvet parcel that contains one real blue diamond. Well, it there's something in this candle, might there be something in the other one? So he calls the waitress who brings him the other candle. Sure, enough, there is another velvet wrapped parcel inside, but this one doesn't contain any gemstones. If I recall correctly, it holds a map to a farm outside Mirny. So back to Mirny we go. Well, not quite yet.

First we have to deliver the gemstone to the customer. He tells his girl he will be back in couple of hours, but she can't sit still. She notices that he has written the address on a notepad, so she goes there as well. To consummate the deal, the customer wants to become like blood brothers with Kean-o, so he asks? suggests? demands? that the two girls give them blowjobs. His girl with give Kean-o a blowjob and the waitress will blow the customer. And the two guys must look into each other's eyes. Kean-o is reluctant, but the waitress has no qualms. Maybe she realizes what's at stake, or maybe just hanging out in this rarefied atmosphere has made her horny. In any case, the girls perform, heads bobbing dutifully, but the scene is not in the least erotic. I'm not quite sure why that is. Is it the hostility, the reluctance, or the small group of onlookers? And what would bring a person participate in such a scene? Well, Kean-o has two reasons: the potential enormous payoff and, hey, blowjob. But why is the customer instigating it? Probably because he has the urge and he has enough money to indulge his whims. Who knows what kind of whims you might want to indulge if you suddenly got a billion dollars.

There was another movie with Viggo Mortensen that had similar scene. Viggo was undercover cop who had wormed his way into the Russian Mafia so far that they are going to make him a 'made man', or the Russian equivalent. But before the boss will proceed, he has to know that Viggo isn't queer, so he takes him to a whorehouse where he has to fuck one of the girls while the boss is watching. So now I'm wondering if this a real thing, or they just wanted to put some sex in the movie but by populating the scene with Russians we can pretend that only foreigners are weirdos and nobody we know would actually do anything like that. Yeah, right.

There's some emotional fallout from this, but our happy couple deal with it and head back to their hotel. Where they run into the FSB (successor to the KGB). There's a couple of brutes standing in the lobby . He asks the clerk if there are any messages for room 701 and the clerk warns Kean-o that 'they' are waiting for him upstairs. It would have helped if I knew if his room was actually 701, but it doesn't matter because he walks right in. They separate them and tell Kean-o that they have the fake diamonds and they want him to sell them to his customer - or else. I'm not sure what the 'or else' was. In any case it's enough to persuade Kean-o to agree.

When he shows up to make the sale, the customer has brought a jeweler with a spectroscope. The jeweler has some trouble with some cables, Kean-o makes a remark, the operator gets flustered and customer dismisses him. Now he is trusting Kean-o that the diamonds are real, and Kean-o doesn't flinch, even though he knows he is probably signing his own death warrant. Those fake diamonds are still diamonds, but once you get into this oxygen deprived atmosphere logic and reason have no effect. They might be worth 90% of the real ones, but that 10% is still five million bucks. In this case though money probably has no bearing. They are 'blood brothers' and Kean-o lied. If Kean-o wants to save his skin, he better get on a plane back to America and do it pronto.

But we can't do that. We have to have the final shootout. He travels back to Mirny where he enlists the band of bear hunters to go with him to this farm (the farm on the map that he found in the candle that his girl brought him from Mirny). When they get there they find the brother, Andrei, dead, sitting in the outhouse. He has several injuries. I'm not sure whether he died of a drug overdose and he's just been sitting there for while and the critters have got to him, or whether he was tortured. Don't matter, he's dead. The house is old and worn, but somebody has been living there. The prop department botched the front door though. It's a simple door made out of planks, but there are gaps between the planks, gaps that you can see  light through. That door isn't going to keep out the cold, and,  in case you forgot, Siberia is cold in the winter. So, bad door, but otherwise the house was just what you might expect of a farmhouse that's been there for a hundred years.

So the house is lived in, but no Pyotr, so we sit down to wait. It doesn't take long for the bad guys to show up. The bear hunters have left Kean-o a rifle and a box of shells and once the bad guys show up he starts making effective use of it. He's shooting and knocking them down, one after another and you think maybe he will get out of this. I mean, the odds are low, there's only one of him and there's good half dozen bad guys. On the other hand it's a movie, and he's Kean-o, the savior of the world, he might pull it off. No such luck. The customer's head thug walks up behind him and shoots him in the back and that's it for Kean-o.

* There's a real Gorynych Guest House but it's not in Mirny. 
** I looked for a rigid cell phone faraday cage, but all I could find were bags. I wonder if cases ever were a thing, or whether I'm just not looking under the right rocks.

Inheritance - Movie

INHERITANCE Trailer (2020) Lily Collins, Simon Pegg Thriller Movie
Movie Coverage

Contrived, crazy, not very believable, but people do crazy shit so it's remotely possible. Man dies of a heart attack and leaves the key to a bunker to his daughter. She locates and opens the bunker and finds a man down there. He's wearing an iron collar with a length of chain attached. Now, what do you do with a case like this? Any normal person would call the police, but she is from a wealthy family with a position in society. Word of this gets out and the scandal could destroy them. So she's in a bit of a dilemma.

How did we get here? The prisoner tells her a fine story. Your father got drunk, gets in his car and hits a person on deserted rural road and kills him. Loads the body in the trunk of the car and drives down a dirt road into the woods and buries him. The prisoner, his friend, is with him during all this. Guy knocks his friend in the head and locks him in a bunker on the family estate. Keeps him there for 30 years until he dies. 

The father was a big wheel. How did he manage to keep his visits to the bunker secret? He must have been a devil to get away with this for so long. I've heard other stories* about people who have been secretly imprisoned for years, but they were either loners or their families were in on it. 

* Also Korean movie Oldboy from 2003.

Friday, September 30, 2022

Raman Spectroscopy

In the Keanu Reeves movie Siberia, Keen-o uses a magic box to tell real diamonds from fake ones. The fake diamonds aren't really fake, they are just as real as the real diamonds. The difference is the fake ones were manufactured while the real ones were dug out of the ground. I think the difference the machine is looking for is the presence of nitrogen - real diamonds have it but artificial ones don't. After rooting around for a bit I found that Raman Scattering is what the magic box uses to detect the presence or absence of nitrogen.
Raman spectroscopy has been around for awhile:
The Raman effect was named after one of its discoverers, the Indian scientist C. V. Raman, who observed the effect in organic liquids in 1928 . . . Raman won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1930 for this discovery. 
In the beginning it was very difficult to observe the phenomena. Lasers have made it much more practical. Let's let YouTube show us how.

Intro to DIY Raman Spectroscopy
Applied Science

Not the smoothest exposition, but he covers all the major points.

Homemade Raman Spectrometer: Diamond

This one is so short that you won't have time to read the text. Remember the space bar is your friend. It's here because he has some good graphs of the results.

Basics and principle of Raman Spectroscopy | Learn under 5 min | Stokes and Anti-Stokes | AI 09
Practical Ninjas

Mr. Ninja is not a native English speaker. In this case subtitles are your friend.

Lastly, if you want one of these magic boxes, you can buy one from Stellar Net though it will cost you a pretty penny.

StellarCASE-Raman - Portable Raman System for Material Identification | StellarNet, Inc.

Recurrence - Movie

Pipa | Tráiler oficial | Netflix
Netflix Latinoamérica

You can get English subtitles in the trailer with judicious pointing and clicking.

Pipa is the leading ladies nickname, on Netflix it is known as Recurrence. It fairly complex murder mystery, maybe a little too complex. I'm not even sure how many dead bodies we've got. We start with just one, but towards the end they start falling like ten-pins. It's got all the pieces required for a decent movie, but it feels just a little rough, like everyone's timing is just a tad off. It manages to get the story told, though there are some incidents that leave you wondering 'where did that come from?'

It's set in the boondocks of northwestern Argentina. I couldn't figure it out from watching it, I had to look it up. Everyone is speaking Spanish, but they're all driving big American cars, so it's not Spain. It's dry and mountainous so it could be Mexico or southern South America. But now that I know it's Argentina I realize that the mountains are the Andes, not those po-dunk little mountains they have in Mexico.

We have a single mom who left the big city police force ten years ago due to some violent event that is never explained. Her ten year old kid is hanging around with his buddies, playing with real guns. I fully expect one of them to screw up and shoot another, but that never happens. The kid is disobedient and that does cause problems. Stupid, ill-disciplined kids. They're part of the story, but annoying.

There is the wealthy landowner who owns at least some of the police. Her dissolute adult children are what start the murder ball rolling, though we don't find that out till near the end. 

There are the indians who want their land back that the anglos stole from them. One of them gets arrested and gets taken to jail. His wife Lula comes to visit him but they won't let her in. Later on we see him on TV, beaten to a pulp, complaining about police brutality. Then we find out the Lula did it. Somehow she got in to see, a soft hearted cop probably let her in, and she beat him up so they could get their charge of police brutality on TV. Never seen the like, at least not from sane people.

There is one big guy, the hunter, who has an amazingly deep voice. He appears in the trailer at the 1:09 mark, though his voice is not that deep there. When I first heard it I didn't think it was real. Could anyone really have a voice that deep?

There is one scene where the rich kids are playing a game like polo, on horseback, but they are using a ball with handles that has to be picked up by hand and thrown through the goal. It could be Pato or Horseball.

1972 Ford F-100 Doble Cabina

Pipa drives an odd looking Ford F-100 crew cab. It doesn't look like any crew cab I've ever seen. I suppose it could be a custom. I did find one other, for sale, in Buenos Aires.

Ford F-100 Doble Cabina Unibody

Unibody!?! Of course they might only mean that the truck bed and the cab are of unit construction. I suspect it is still body-on-frame construction. There was also a full size Ford F-150 in Siberia, which makes two Ford pickups in furrin countries this week.

Funiculi, Funicula

Rodney Dangerfield - Funiculi, Funicula
Justin Plowman

I haven't heard this tune in a long time. Liz Hinds posted a version of this tune, but it doesn't have any video, just a static image of the Italian flag. Come on, YouTube, you can do better than that, so I go looking. There's a bunch of similar videos, just a recording with a static image. There are also several concert performances with big orchestras, but this is only one I found that really gets into the spirit of the tune.

Where did this tune come from? My first suspect is a show tune from a post-WW2 movie, but no, it's much older than that.

Funiculì, Funiculà is a Neapolitan song composed in 1880. It was written to commemorate the opening of the first funicular railway on Mount Vesuvius. The sheet music sold over a million copies within a year. Since its publication, it has been widely adapted and recorded. - paraphrased from Wikipedia

Italy & Politics

Brothers of Italy's leader Giorgia Meloni shows a placard thanking Italian voters after winning last Sunday's election [Gregorio Borgia/AP Photo]

There was an election in Italy recently and a woman won. I just read two articles about her and I still can't remember her name. Forgive me, I haven't had my coffee yet. But the two articles aren't really about her. The one from Al-Jazeera is just a smear. I read about half of it waiting for any kind of evidence but none appeared, so I left it. The other is from Professor Ornery Dragon and it talks about the totalitarian tactics used to demonize anyone who deviates from the party line. He could have use the story from Al Jazeera as prime example. The Professor's story is pretty great.

The Professor's story comes here via Foxifier

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Who are these guys?

"Who Are Those Guys?" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Aaron B

These / those, whatever. I came up with the title which reminded me of this scene. The outlaws have the advantage of being able to see their enemy, so 'those' is appropriate. You can point to 'those' guys. These guys are a little more nebulous. I doubt you ever see them on the news. All we've got is some speculation that kind of narrows it down to some very large number.

In case you haven't heard somebody blew up the Nord Stream pipelines that transport Natural Gas from Russia to Germany thereby ensuring that Europe is not going to be getting any Natural Gas from Russia even if Russia turned on the taps. I think Europe can still get Russian gas from the pipeline across the Ukraine, but with the war going on I wouldn't count on it.

What I can't figure out is why anyone would do that. I suppose a couple of deranged fanatics in a fishing boat and a couple of boxes of dynamite could have done it, but it looks more like a state actor to me. CIA, I'm lookin' at you. Why do you want to destroy Europe? Was a Parisian waiter rude to you the last time you were there? Are you afraid the European Union is going to start throwing their weight around? Or maybe you despise everything about EU Socialism. Well, whatever your reason this is probably going to do it.

I suspect an American cartel is behind this. They look at the world and try to figure out ways they can gain more control of it. Why? Probably because they think they can run it better than anyone else. I mean, they already have more money than god. I think we have to move beyond that. Destroying Europe is going to destroy a great deal of wealth. Are our cartel members jealous of their position of power and anyone who threatens it must be destroyed?

Biden is probably part of it. He may have even originated the plan back before his brain turned to mush. The plan was probably begun around ten years ago when they started subverting Ukraine. Was destroying Europe part of that plan? Who knows, but they certainly took advantage of it when the opportunity presented itself.

Or maybe I'm all wet and it's all Russians all the time. The advantage of blaming the Russians is everyone knows the Russians are inscrutable, so they probably had double secret Russian reasons for blowing up the pipeline, reasons we could not comprehend even if we knew what they were.

Citadel de Dinant. Belgien

Citadel de Dinant. Belgien
Jigsaw puzzle

Built in 1815.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022


Read some good stuff on the web I read this morning.

The last days of Jeremy Corbyn is about left wing of politics in the UK. The link goes to Unherd which places a limit on free articles.

‘Amsterdam’ Review: Three Amigos Try to Save America in David O. Russell’s Ungainly Period Dramedy. The movie is about social unrest in America in the 1930's and the Business Plot.

14 Things We Know About The Mysterious “Explosions” That Severely Damaged The Nord Stream 1 And Nord Stream 2 Pipelines - I suspect the we (the USA) did it, though I can't comprehend why. I mean we have a knucklehead running the country, but surely there are people with brains in the White House. They can't all be incompetent psychopaths, can they?

Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Lou - Movie

Lou | Official Trailer | Netflix

Single mother living on Orcas Island with a taciturn older woman for a landlord and neighbor. The landlord goes by the name of Lou. Why is mom single? Her husband done got blowed up somewhere in the Middle East, or did he? Silly audience member, or course he didn't, and now this psycho is back to collect his daughter and reunite his family, which happens to include his mother. Of course, he wants to put his own special twist on it - they are all going to reunited in a glorious fireball. And in case you haven't figured it out yet, Lou, the landlord and neighbor is also the psycho's mother.

The two women leads, Hannah, the mother, and Lou are a couple of tough cookies. Lou does an excellent job of taking out a couple of psycho's henchmen with nothing more that the kinds of things you find lying around in an old fishing shack. It's especially impressive given that Lou is over 60 years old. The fight scenes were just on the edge of believable. I suppose it depends on whether you believe that old age and and treachery can beat youth and skill.

This movie is set in the 80's - Ronald Reagan appears on TV briefly, which makes it plausible that Lou was in Iran when the Shah was overthrown. My Aunt Milly was there around that time. Could this movie be about my Aunt? Somehow I doubt it. She never struck me as the knife wielding assassin type. Then again, it's always the quiet ones you need to look out for.


 I dunno, maybe I missed the part of my education where I was supposed to learn how plants grow. Leaves do all the work, or 99% of the work, of using sunshine to build new molecules, so all the growing should be at the ends of the branches where the leaves are, right?  But the big impressive part of the tree is the trunk, not the little branches and leaves. Now the tree gets water from its roots. The water gets piped up to the leaves because of capillary action and magic plant action (oxymoron, eh?), but how do our new molecules of plant get back down the branches to the trunk? Answer me that, Elmo.

Monday, September 26, 2022


 It's really weird how much money we laud on some musicians. There are probably a zillion musicians who are just as musically talented as the guy who scores the hit, but their song, for some unfathomable reason, did not resonate with the upper class  kids, the ones who are crazy enough and and have enough play dough that they can just buy a copy of a tune whenever it suits them.

But the rest of us seem to accept these hits as valid. I mean, I bought maybe a dozen records (back when records were a thing). When I got old I did break down and bought a few CD's. Now I get my music off of YouTube for which I pay something like $16 a month. I suppose YouTube watches what I play, keeps track and doles out some of that subscription proportionally. Well, I hope they do that, but who knows what the great god Google has decided.

Anyway, it's weird how much money we laud on musicians when they don't produce any material goods like food, shelter or clothing. Or maybe it's weird that we aren't starving, dressed in rags and living in cardboard shantys so we can spend more money on music.

P.S. Back when I lived in Ohio, Matt and I went to visit a friend of his, a black kid I think, who had a room full of records. As I recall he had two shelves of records, 12" LP's, that ran the length of his room, eight feet long at least, maybe more. They shelves had vertical dividers every foot or so they weren't all leaning on each other. Figure 6 LP's to the inch times 12 inches to the foot times 8 feet and times two times $5 per LP we're talking  (6*12*8*2*5) almost $6,000 dollars, and this is back in 1970 when gasoline was a quarter. Multiply that by 20 to get where we are now and that's over $100,000. Heck of a lot of money for a high school kid. But at the time the value never occured to me. As best I can recall my initial reaction (unspoken of course) was 'why do you have so many records'? I mean I had been getting by on half a dozen records of my parents at home and the FM radio in the car. Why would anyone want all those records? Just weird, man.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Return of the Bardahl Special

Bardahl Special

I recognize the name from my time as a kid in Seattle. Miss Bardahl was the boat to beat in the unlimited hydroplane races held on Lake Washington each summer.  Seems the Bardahl company has been supporting racing since the early days. They sponsored this airplane back in 1965, but let it go. Now they have picked it up again. It's the very same airplane, built in 1944.

Steve Coutches flew it to first place in one of the qualifying heats at Reno a week ago. It didn't show up in the listing for the finals.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Yahoo, he says dispiritedly

JMSmith continues to tear along. Today he gives us this quote from H. L. Mencken, critic of just about everything:

“Out of the muck of their swinishness the typical American law-maker emerges.  He is a man who has lied and dissembled, and a man who has crawled.  He knows the taste of boot polish.  He has suffered kicks in the tonneau of his pantaloons.  He has taken orders from his superiors in knavery and has wooed and flattered his inferiors in sense.  His public life is an endless series of evasions and false pretenses.  He is willing to embrace any issue, however idiotic, that will get him votes, and he is willing to sacrifice any principle, however sound, that will lose them for him.  I do not describe the democratic politician at his inordinate worst; I describe him as he is encountered in the full sunshine of normalcy . . . . It is almost an axion that no man may make a career in politics in the Republic without stooping to such ignobility: it is as necessary as a loud voice . . . . They are men who, at some time or other, have compromised with their honor, either by swallowing their convictions or by whooping for what they believe to be untrue.  They are in the position of the chorus girl who, in order to get her humble job, has had to admit the manager to her person.” - H.L. Mencken, Notes on Democracy

Then YouTube pops up this live music performance, which may be good or bad, it didn't capture my ear right off so I went back to listening to classic rock, but the blurb that accompanied it is just ghastly:

Tune in to see Metallica, Charlie Puth, Jonas Brothers, MÅNESKIN, Mariah Carey, Mickey Guyton, and Rosalía perform live from NYC's Central Park and Usher, SZA, Stormzy, Gyakie, Sarkodie, Stonebwoy, Uncle Waffles, and TEMS, perform live from Accra's Black Star Square as part of this year's Global Citizen Festival. With Priyanka Chopra Jonas hosting in NYC + Danai Gurira hosting in Accra, this show combines the power for activism with music to make a huge impact.

(I've only heard of a couple of the performers and they have no attraction for me.) 

This year, with a new mission that’s more urgent than ever, Global Citizen is embarking on an ambitious campaign that spans the world. With a focus on empowering adolescent girls and women so that we can End Extreme Poverty NOW, Global Citizen is calling on world leaders, corporations, and philanthropists to do more than they’ve ever done before.

With stages in two iconic locations, we will unite leaders, artists, activists, and Global Citizen to achieve an ambitious policy agenda focused on empowering girls and women, taking climate action, breaking systemic barriers, and lifting up activists and advocates.

Along with celebrating 10 years of Global Citizen Festivals, this year marks the 65th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, together with the 20th anniversary of the African Union, a powerful group of nations who will help set the trajectory of the continent for the coming decades.

I mean, there is nothing wrong with it. Some producers staged a concert, some musicians performed and a bunch of people went to listen them. That's all fine and well, but End Extreme Poverty NOW? Yeah, that aint' gonna happen. The concert will gather a bunch of money into a pile and then it will be doled out. Some money may trickle down to a soup kitchen, but most of it is going to end up in someone's pocket where it will either be invested in real estate or blown on hookers and blow.


Biden goes to England

Air Force 1 carrying President Biden to England to attend Queen Elizabeth’s funeral

Friday, September 23, 2022

News and Rumors

A good story about the neighbors after a nearby shooting.

Time and Place by Cynthia Bagley


Van's RV-14 (N214RV)

Van's RV-14 (N214RV)

Van's Aircraft seems to be going great guns. This two place sport plane is interesting because of the way they combined sheet metal and plastic. They used sheet metal for parts that only have a simple curve, but for parts that need compound curves like the wing tips and the root of the vertical stabilizer, they used plastic.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Henrietta Maria

National Institute for Coordinated Experiments
Fictional institute from That Hideous Strength

JMSmith is on a tear. I'm reading along and I come across the “Henrietta Marie Window”. I have no idea what he is talking about, so a-Googling I go.

C. S. Lewis's novel That Hideous Strength contains the following passage:
“Look out! Look out!” said a dozen voices at once as a splintering of glass became audible and a shower of stones fell onto the Common Room floor. A moment later several of the Fellows had made a rush for the windows and put up the shutters: and then they were all standing staring at one another, and silent but for the noise of their heavy breathing. Glossop had a cut on the forehead, and on the floor lay the fragments of that famous east window on which Henrietta Maria had once cut her name with a diamond.

Is there is any historical basis for this? The short answer:

The reference to "that famous east window on which Henrietta Maria had once cut her name with a diamond" seems most likely to be a conflation of two or more of various events and artefacts connected to Henrietta Maria and / or her husband, Charles I. These events / artefacts involve Henrietta Maria breaking a window, Charles I purportedly inscribing messages to her on glass with a diamond, a window with an anti-Henrietta Maria inscription made with a diamond, and a marble tablet with her name inscribed on it above a window.

So who is this Henrietta? Well, if you screw up and ask for Henrietta Marie instead of Henrietta Maria you get a 17th Century slave ship.

English merchant slave ship Henrietta Marie - Peter Copeland

Wikipedia lets you know that there is also a queen with a similar name. That article finishes with this line:

During his 1631 Northwest Passage expedition in the ship Henrietta Maria, Captain Thomas James named the northwest headland of James Bay where it opens into Hudson Bay for her.

So is the Henritta Maria the same ship as the Henrietta Marie, or are they completely different ships? We're not getting any concrete answers here. The ship and the Queen are both from the 17th Century, so feel free to suppose that ship was named after the queen either as an honor or as an insult.

Henrietta Maria of France 1609 - 1699

Henrietta Maria was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland from her marriage to King Charles I. Her Roman Catholicism made her unpopular in England, and also prohibited her from being crowned. King Charles fought Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army in the English Civil War. Charles eventually lost and was beheaded in 1649.
The North American Province of Maryland, a major haven for Roman Catholic settlers, was named in honour of Queen Henrietta Maria. The name was carried over into the current U.S. state of Maryland.

And that business about etching messages in the glass with a diamond? Well, there seems to be some truth to that.

The central panel reads, 'I am yours and only yours till death separates'.
Inscribed Glass quarries with diamond-engraved inscriptions possibly 1646
Reputed to have been inscribed by Charles I (1600-1649)
while imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle, Isle of Wight, in 1646

So maybe all those scratched up bathroom mirrors are just the genetic royal prerogative asserting itself.

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Europe - vassal or sovereign?

Military strength ranking for European countries in 2021

Excellent post about the political situation in Europe. It's a real breath of fresh air compared to the usual mealy-mouthed crap we hear.

Can Europe survive the age of strongmen? by Aris Roussinos

Whether anyone in power takes heed, well, we shall see.

The above link goes to Unherd, which has a limit on how many free pages you can read. I read it on Feedly and you might be able to use this link to read it there also.

Panic - Or Not

The Endless Ocean - Shepard Tone (⚠️Video and audio can have psychological effects⚠️)
BEWARE: This is the song that doesn't end.

I've been skimming the news for a while now (days, months, decades?) and it seems there is an unending stream of gloom and doom from everyday reports and people predicting the end of civilization. But it occurred to me that maybe this endless collapse goes hand in hand with our endless war. That's just the way things are now and the way they are going to be for the foreseeable future. Some people are going to run into the ground, but many are going to be clawing their way forward. It's kind of like these guys rolling logs:

Log Rollers

Once that log gets to spinning it takes everything you've got just to keep up. Miss a step and kersploosh! into the drink you go.

I am sure that the people who are running this country have an agenda. I don't know what it is, but it doesn't include putting a speed limit on the log. I doubt they could even if they wanted to. I kind of suspect that everything is changing so fast that everyone is struggling to keep up. The internet has tossed the world on it's ear. Kids are making zillions from idiotic entertainment videos for other kids. Some adults are making fortunes from making videos, many more are making a decent living, and I think we can safely presume that zillions of folks are making a little extra cash from social media. Shoot, I got $12 from Amazon the other day. Not sure why, could it be from one of the links on this blog? I suppose it's possible.

I keep thinking we should establish campgrounds for the homeless, but going any farther than suggesting the idea means I would have to talk to people who are involved. I mean it seems like kind of an obvious solution to the problem. Since it hasn't been done I suspect there is some kind of political bullshit going on, and that usually means money. More suspicion: somebody comes up with practical solution to the problem, but some aggressive, abrasive 'advocates' see an opportunity to extract some moola from the government, which will give them the opportunity to siphon off a healthy portion into their own pockets. Nobody wants to get into a screaming match with these assholes, so they relent and give them what they want.

We need a new sheriff to clean up this town, but who would want the job?