Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Jason Goodwin - Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey

E-mail advertising "A guided pilgrimage along the Royal Route, through some of London's sacred places, churches, gardens, temples, hills, standing stones and holy wells" showed up in my inbox yesterday. Another one shows up this morning. Okay, what is this? I'm not going to London, and something like this is bound to be pricey, so no, I'm not interested. But then I notice it's from Jason Goodwin, and I remember now that he wrote a couple of books I really enjoyed. I enjoyed them so much I signed up on his mailing list to keep up with what he was doing. That was years ago, but I heard nothing till now.

I suspected the above picture was of Westminster Abbey, but it wasn't labeled, so I did a little checking. As you might expect, the internet is full of pictures of this place, but they were all different. Like almost none of them had the same window at the end. Here's one:

Interior of Westminster Abbey in London UK, F.G.O. Stuart, 1878 - 1890

Here's another:

Interior view of Westminster Abbey from the 13th-century triforium. Set more than 52 feet above the abbey floor, it houses the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries. (Frank Augstein/Associated Press)

Monday, May 16, 2022

High Stakes Gambling

Statistical Map of Napoleon's Russian Campaign of 1812
The size of Napoleon's army during the Russian campaign of 1812 is shown by the dwindling width of the lines of advance and retreat. The retreat information is correlated with a temperature scale shown along the lower portion of the statistical map. Adapted from a map published by Charles Joseph Minard in 1869. - Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

I have been trying to figure out why our regime (the President and Congress) have been pushing this forty billion dollar aid package for Ukraine. These guys are smart, or if they aren't smart they are at least in tune with the political pulse of their environment. They must have a reason for doing this, right? They haven't all just gone insane, have they? I mean, 'cause that sure-as-shootin' is what it looks like. I was thinking they were all just doing it for the short term gains and to hell with the future because of an impending disaster that they are powerless to stop. What might that impending disaster be? Do they know something we don't know? Yeah, maybe, but that shouldn't affect our own wind detectors. Now it might be that the impending disaster is the upcoming elections this fall and the regime expects to be booted out on their heinies, so they're getting theirs while the gettin' is good. As a side benefit they are dropping a bomb in the economy that the new regime is going to have to contend with when they take power.

On the other hand, forty billion dollars is a lot of money. Maybe they see something even worse than losing the mid-term elections. Maybe they see Russia as a real threat. Seems a little far fetched, Russia seemed like a relatively benign country. Yes, they got involved in bunch of countries in Central Asia, but who hasn't? Oh, wait. Venezuela. Maduro has a friend in Moscow! Of course. Russia may not be benefiting from Venezuelan oil, but at least nobody else is either, and most especially those Western Imperialist running dogs. Oh wait, that's a Red Chinese curse. Whatever. Why don't I know any good Russian curses? Possibly because the Russians have suppressed the Communist Party, so we don't hear any more of the old Soviet curses?

I don't know what's going on over in the Ukraine. We get lots of reports of successful Ukrainian attacks and Russian failures, but those all come from the West. From Russia we get basically nothing. That's fine, I wouldn't expect an enemy to tell me anything about what they are doing. But whatever is happening it is still going on, and I'm wondering if our regime sees this as a threat to their hegemony over the world.

This is geo-politics at its finest.

I wonder how many people in Russia remember Napoleon and Hitler. Well, OK, nobody actually remembers Napoleon and hardly anybody remembers Hitler. But how about the stories about the invasions? I suspect most people eventually learn about them.

We keeping pushing back on the bear, and bear might react violently.

Sunday, May 15, 2022


West Pediment of the U.S. Supreme Court. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

I want to shoot all of the participants in this argument, all of them, on both sides. I am sick to death of hearing about it. Don't we have anything more significant to talk about? Of course we do, but that's kind of beside the point, this is evidently an argument some people can really sink their teeth into, not like an argument over some government policy in Lower Elbonia.

Meanwhile The Verge is giving me pause. I'm reading the chapter about Martin Luther and how he triggered a schism in the church. The smaller the difference, the greater the hatred. That schism resulted, in among other things, 100,000 dead in the Peasant's War of 1525.

In a previous chapter The Verge talks about the Spanish Inquisition. I had always heard that it was unjust and awful and how they tortured zillions of people to death. But The Verge gave me another viewpoint - why the Spanish rulers did it. It wasn't just to be mean and rotten, the purpose was ensure obedience from the population. If being mean and rotten helped get the job done, then it's a totally valid tool. 

The purpose of the inquisition was to make sure everyone followed the same set of rules. People whose belief in a different set of rules was so strong that they could not recant, were killed. It was a horrible process, though not much different in effect than a war. Probably fewer casualties as well.

So it doesn't really matter whether we are arguing about abortion or not. If we somehow all magically came to believe the same thing about this issue, it wouldn't help. We would find another issue to argue about because that's who we are. Athletes compete in games to see who's the best. As a side effect it improves their status in society. Soldiers go war. Traders trade. There are a multitude of occupations and in ever field there are going to be people pushing and shoving to get to the top. Mind you, I don't mean literal pushing and shoving, though that can be of use in some sports, there are plenty of ways to use to your talents to get what you want and that's what many people do.

At the top of the heap, or maybe it's a small clump off to the side, are the chatterboxes, people who have something to say about whatever it is. They are all competing for attention and they are playing by chatterbox rules, and those rules have nothing to do with seriousness of the subject matter, it's only whether you can say something about it that will get you more attention.

I don't mean that people are consciously choosing what they say. Oh, some of them might, but I suspect for the majority they are simply operating on instinct.

P.S. Yes, I know I am a slow reader. I only pick up the book and read when I am waiting for someone and I'm not too tired, which means five or ten minutes at a time, two or three times a week. Sometimes I get stuck somewhere for a couple of hours and I get through a chapter or two, but mostly we're talking two or three pages at a time.

P.P.S. From the article where I found the picture of the pediment at the top of this post:

The central focus is of Liberty seated on a throne and guarded by figures who represent Order and Authority. Although these sculptures are metaphorical figures, they were carved in the likeness of real people. From left to right, they are

  • Chief Justice William Howard Taft as a youth, representing "Research Present." Taft was U.S. President from 1909 to 1913 and on the Supreme Court from 1921 to 1930
  • Senator Elihu Root, who introduced legislation to establish the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts
  • the architect of the Supreme Court building, Cass Gilbert
  • the three central figures (Order, Liberty Enthroned, and Authority)
  • Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, who was Chairman of the Supreme Court Building Commission
  • the artist Robert Aitken, sculptor of the figures in this pediment
  • Chief Justice John Marshall as a young man, on the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835, representing "Research Past"

Anti-Drone Weapons

Vulcan Cannon Smashes Drones in Iraq
Dark Footage

I don't particularly care for the narrator's breathless delivery, although I do wonder how he manages to keep it up, video after video. However, he does give us some good footage of CRAM's (Counter-Rockets, Artillery and Mortars) in operation. It's hard to get a sense of how big these things are from the video. This picture fixes that.

Centurian C-RAM

Problem is the Centurian is shooting zillions of 20 mm bullets and those bullets aren't cheap. According to John Hoh on Quora, each 20 mm shell costs $27. Since this gun fires 75 rounds per second, a full second of firing costs like two grand. You can buy a drone with enough carrying capacity to carry a small bomb for about one thousand dollars. The cost of the fuel oil and fertilizer necessary to make the bomb is negligible, and jihadists work for free, so turning a drone into a bomb costs almost nothing.

C-RAM is pretty effective, I don't think any of those bursts of fire in the video lasted a full second, so the cost of shooting down a bomb laden drone is about the same as the cost of the drone. However, that doesn't include the cost of the weapon system, or the cost of operating it on the other side of the world where everything, including the ammunition has to be shipped in. 

High Speed Intaglio Printing Press

US soldiers are paid something like $40K a year. However, it costs about one million dollars a year to have a soldier in the combat zone. Using the same multiple of 25 (one million divided by 40 thousand), I'm guessing it is costing us in the neighborhood of $25,000 to shoot down a drone. I would say that at that rate with a zillion cheap drones the ragheads could force us into bankruptcy. Well, they could if we were spending real money, but ever since the mint got that tune-up on their printing presses, we can print another zillion dollars in the time it takes you to sneeze.

Car Dream

1966 Pontiac Bonneville

I'm driving a big old Pontiac Bonneville and my wife is asleep in the back seat. I'm driving on a thoroughfare in the city and I come to a freeway overpass. I miss the on ramp for some reason, but then I see another on ramp. There is no gentle bend to get on this one, it just runs right into the road I am on. You obviously are not intended to turn here, it's like it's intended for cross traffic or busses or something, but there's no traffic, so I slow down and negotiate the corner and head up the ramp.

It's late in the day and after I've been driving for awhile it gets dark and the freeway has turned into a dirt track covered with dry, yellow grass. I realize this is probably not the right road, but let's see where it goes. I mean we're heading in the right general direction, maybe it will come out someplace useful.

It doesn't. The road gets narrower and now we are heading down a hill into what looks like a scrapyard for old mining equipment. The road continues down the side of the hill and then makes a U-turn at the bottom and heads back parallel to the road I'm on now, but at the bottom of the hill. Down there is looks clear. If we can make it past these piles of scrapped machines we should be okay. 

We can't make it through, path gets narrower and narrower. I keep going but now a piece of iron scrapes along the side of the car, probably scratched it, but if that's all the damage we get I can tolerate it. But that's not the worst just a bit farther on the scrap has encroached on the path to the point that there will be no getting through without moving a bunch of this scrap iron, and most of it is too big to move by hand, so I start backing out.

About this time a man walks by and says something about this being a mine and I'm not supposed to be in here. He doesn't stop and he's not chatty, just a quick mumble and then he's gone.

Eventually I find myself at the entrance to the mine. I don't remember going through here on the way in, but now I have to go through the gate to get out and there is a vehicle blocking the way. There is no one around. There is a single story wood framed building next to the gate so I go inside to see I can find out something. It's a largish room, like a mining company cafeteria from 100 years ago. I might have talked to some people in there, but it's hazy. Now I head back outside and for some reason I can't see the door. It's made of wood, very similar in construction to the walls, so there aren't a lot of visual clues as to where it is. My perspective changes and now I see it, just a couple of feet to the left of where I thought it was.

Back outside, the vehicle that was blocking the gate has been replaced by another smaller one. A guy gets in and drives it away. Yahoo! I am home free. But then a box truck backs across the gate opening, the driver has done this deliberately because he wants to talk to me. We exchange a few words, he was just curious what I was doing there, and then he moves his truck. I drive out through the gate, but a few dozen yards later I pull over to talk to my wife. She isn't in the back seat anymore. There are a bunch of tables set up outside, like the contents of the cafeteria have been moved out here, and she is talking to a group of women. I tell her I am taking off. I think she is staying there and I'm going on ahead, but it's very hazy.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Excelsior Board Track Racer, Part 2

How I made a motorcycle from an old Black and White photo // Paul Brodie's Shop
paul brodie

I put up a post about this guy and his project a while back. Ten years later he tells us how he did it.

Frank Zappa

Frank Zappa with his Parents
1971 by John Olson for LIFE magazine

Who paints their living room purple?

Diligent daughter and I were doing some trivia quizzes from the book 399 Games by Nancy Linde yesterday evening and one of the questions prompted me to recall Frank Zappa. Dutiful daughter had never heard of him. I thought for sure I had posted this picture of him earlier, but no, but I certainly remembered it, so here it is. 

But now I'm trying to remember what made him famous enough for me to notice and the only thing I can recall is a song about about "moving to Montana soon, gonna be a dental floss tycoon", which is a line I still use whenever I get fed up with the sea of bullshit in which we find ourselves immersed. He was a very talented musician.

6 Amazing Frank Zappa Guitar Solos (1973 - 1991)
Frank Zappa Interview Collection

When I was in high school he was an icon, an icon of what I am not sure. He and The Mothers of Invention produced some odd music, nothing that ever made the top 40, nothing that had any kind of conventional melody. The only memorable thing I can point out is that he gave his children the very odd names of Dweezil and Moon Unit.

Then there was the Captain Beefheart band. Most of their stuff just sounded like noise to me. Captain and Frank were like brothers under the skin.

The reason Frank appealed to me might be because he said, in a subtle way, all kinds of rude and crude things, things that in my white bread cocoon I never heard. It was like somebody telling me about pizza when all I had ever eaten was bologna sandwiches.

Friday, May 13, 2022

Grumman Gosling on Lake Hood

Grumman G-44 Widgeon on Lake Hood

WW2 era Grumman G-44 Widgeon, otherwise know as the Gosling, baby brother to the Grumman Goose. The Gosling could carry five people, the Goose could carry ten. Only about 300 were made of each, not like the tens of thousands of fighter aircraft that were produced during the war.

But where's Lake Hood? Seems like I ought to know, we've got Hood River (river and town) and Mt. Hood an hour east of Portland, but no Lake Hood. Seattle maybe? Nope - Anchorage Alaska. It's a tiny little lake right in the middle of town and totally taken up with seaplanes.

Welcome to Lake Hood (LHD)
Federal Aviation Administration

They mention two IFR (Instrument Flight Rating) airports nearby, that would be Ted Stevens International, the commercial airport, and Elmendorf Air Force Base. Looking around I find there are also a whole bunch of smaller airstrips in Anchorage. Place might be the airport capital of the world.

Anchorage Airports

Thursday, May 12, 2022

Not Hagia Sophia

New Mosque
180 piece jigsaw puzzle

Just 200 miles south of Constanța Casino. None of the news about Europe's natural gas supplies makes any sense, so I'm avoiding the news. I can't figure out what they hope to accomplish other than to get their name in paper and if that's it, well count me out. Last thing I need is more noise from another blathering jackass. So today we have a picture of a mosque built in the 17th Century.

Flying Unicycle?

"One-Man Amphibious 'Copter"
Vertical Flight Society

The YouTube blurb:
De Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle, also known as the YHO-2 and by the manufacturer's designation DH-4 Heli-Vector

I gotta run. 

Clearing the Forest

Clearing the Forest - Wright Barker - 1893
130 piece jigsaw puzzle

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Psychotic Girl

Psychotic Girl
The Black Keys

This tune came through the air while I was out running errands this morning. I like the spooky sounds. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2022


SOFIA Infrared Telescope

SOFIA  started life flying for Pan Am back in 1977. It came to NASA in 1996 and started flying observing missions in 2014. Now it has come to the end of its life and will cease operation this fall.

Monday, May 9, 2022

Constanța Casino

Constanța Casino
170 piece jigsaw puzzle

Constanța Casino was built in Constanța, Romania, in 1910. Constanța is on the Black Sea about half way between Istanbul, Turkey and Odessa, Ukraine. Very cool looking old building. It's abandoned now, so I can imagine some old professor dude holed up in some obscure corner, puttering along, doing whatever old professor dudes do. Probably not. It's likely the only people hanging around here are hobos or tourists. Bored Panda has a bunch of photos of this place.


NANCHANG (Hongdu Aircraft) CJ-6A over Texas

This airplane's history is very similar to the Xian X6 I posted a couple of days ago. Design came from the Soviet YAK-18 in 1958 and it is still being built today. They have made over 2,000 of them.

Forest Fires in Siberia

Vehicles drive along a road covered with smoke from wildfires in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia, May 7, 2022 [Alexander Manzyuk/Reuters]

90 MPH winds brought down electrical lines and the sparks started the fires. Sounds like California.

“But there hasn’t been rain for a long time, there were fires, and then strong wind”.

Forest-rich Siberia has suffered from unprecedented fires for several years. - Aljazeera

Krasnoyarsk is 2,000 miles east of Moscow and 1,500 miles northwest of Beijing.


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Olive Ann Beech: The First Lady of Aviation

Olive Ann Beech: The First Lady of Aviation
The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered

I've put up several posts about Beech airplanes over the years, two in the last month, so I was intrigued when this video shows up on YouTube. The video is as much about the history of the company as about the woman, perhaps even more so.

The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall | Official Trailer | Netflix

A real Saturday matinee kind of Western except for the all black cast. Several rival gangs fighting for dominance with lots of people getting shot, kind of like Saturday night in Chicago.  Clumsy negotiating, it's like the screenwriters were just looking for drama, not trying to make it real. There was some sly humor. One bunch sets out to rob a bank. When one of the robbers hears just what bank they are going to hit, he says "that's a white bank". The next scene they are riding into the town where this bank is, and the whole town is white. It's made all the more obvious by the fact that the all the buildings in the town they just came from, which is populated entirely by black people, are painted in dark colors.

The soundtrack was kind of an odd mix. That's all I've got.

Bosch: Legacy

Bosch: Legacy - Official Trailer | Prime Video
Prime Video AU & NZ

Bosch has had enough to Los Angeles Police Department Bureaucracy, or maybe they've had enough of him. In any case he's out on his own. Right off the bat he picks up a super wealthy client, which is what you need if you are going to make a dramatic TV show. In a parallel thread, the good guys are still pursuing the bad guy from last season, but it's a race to see whether they can make him pay in court or whether the Russian mob removes him from the planet. I'm kind of rooting for the Russians. This business of going through the courts is annoying and tedious in the extreme. Crate and Barrel show up in episode 4, which is the last one that is currently available.

On Amazon FreeVee. If we have Amazon Prime, why do we have to sit through the ads? To be fair, there weren't that many of them.

Afghanistan, Balochistan, Bananastan

Balochistan, Pakistan

That gadfly Pepe Escobar has a story up on The Cradle:

Terror from Balochistan: a menacing tool to disrupt Sino-Pakistani economics

Did you think we were done meddling in southwest Asia? Ha! Think again.

I'm so bad, I'm so glad

Netwalk Perfect Solution

I play Netwalk several times a day. I can usually solve it in under two minutes and it usually takes me about one and one half times the target number of moves to solve it. But every once in blue moon I stumble into a perfect play. Today was one of those days.

In other news, I poured out exactly 14 potassium tablets, all in a bunch, without counting, and I did it twice, once for my morning dose and once for my evening dose.

cream - i'm so glad

Skip James recorded I'm So Glad back in 1931. The recording on YouTube is pretty poor. Cream's version is the one I'm familiar with. It came out 1968 when I was still in high school.



This 3 passenger airplane originated in the 1930'sA Michigan outfit is still building them.

Saturday, May 7, 2022

PGE's New Integrated Operations Center

PGE's new Integrated Operations Center

In Portland Oregon PGE stands for Portland General Electric. In California it stands for Pacific Gas & Electric. Very annoying, you never know who they are talking about.

That's an impressive looking display. Looks like they ought to be able to control their world. Let's just hope the software wasn't written by the low bidder.

The place is surrounded by a six foot steel fence, the kind that are commonly seen around server farms. I guess it makes sense given the number of bad actors running around loose these days.

The Wolf Pack is Going to Get Us All Killed

Zorg Being Iconic for 10 Minutes | The Fifth Element | Creature Features
Creature Features

Near as I can tell, there are two reasons we are supporting the regime in Ukraine. The first is that by sending them armaments, we are boosting the American Military Industrial Complex by giving them zillions of dollars of business. The other is so the Biden's can continue to collect their commission on the natural gas transits fees, fees being paid Western Europe for Russian natural gas. The commission looks pretty paltry compared to the amount of money being spent on armament, but it's cash in the pocket. All that money going to military industrial complex is going to giant corporations where it gets divvied up into a multitude of pots. The big shots get a commission that is a small fraction of the total, so it probably amounts to about the same. Never underestimate the power of naked avarice.

Like some wag said, we're willing to fight Russia to the last Ukrainian. That stand off at the Azov steel plant in Mariupol is a little puzzling. The only explanation that's made sense is that the Ukranians are afraid that if they surrender they will be executed or sent to a Gulag, never to return. Given how nasty that part of the world seems to be, remember the Balkans from, what - 20 years ago? I guess I can't blame them. Better to starve to death in a concrete bunker.

Meanwhile we keep poking the bear. We've been doing it for like ten years, and now we act all surprised when the bear takes a swipe at us ('us' being the US and our pet puppet Zelensky). And now, instead of trying to resolve the situation, we continue to poke the bear. It's almost like you want him to take big swing at you so you can - what? Get on TV and say - look at what the big bad Russian is doing? Swing back with big effing hammer? I wouldn't be surprised if the idiots in charge weren't war gaming a nuclear war right now, trying to figure out how they can come out on top of whatever is left.

But maybe they are content just to milk the situation for as long as they can without pushing it over the brink. As long as the war goes on they have a built in excuse for spending boatloads of money on missiles, bombs and guns. They are paying for this with money from their infinite printing press. What this is doing is impoverishing everyone who isn't part of the wolf pack. All members of the pack are getting a share of the moola being spent on guns. Everyone else is just seeing the value of their money shrinking.

It's like you have two groups. Each group has one zillion dollars, put together that's a total of two zillion dollars. The first group prints themselves another zillion so now they have two zillion dollars and we have a total of three zillion dollars. However, we don't have any more land or any more stuff because we sent all the armaments to Ukraine. So the first group now holds 2/3 of the wealth of the country and the second group only holds 1/3 of the wealth. That is how the military industrial complex and deficit spending are screwing over everyone who isn't a member of the pack.

What is the pack? The pack is all the people who work for the government, those who work for a  defense contractors and all those who have substantial investment holdings in those defense contractors. The first rule of being a person is look out for number one. Once you have taken care of number one, you can think about taking care of other people. All those people who aren't part of the pack, they can look out for themselves.

Pic of the Day

Popular Wallpaper
300 piece jigsaw puzzle

Took me took me two hours if you don't count the nap I took in the middle of it. I quite enjoyed it.

Xian H6

Xian H6

This plane is landing at Ryazan, Russia, which is a stone's throw from Moscow but 3,500 miles from Peking.

Extracted from Wikipedia:

The Xian H-6 is a licence-built version of the Soviet Tupolev Tu-16 twin-engine jet bomber, built for China's People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). Delivery of the Tu-16 to China began in 1958, [the first Chinese built one] flew in 1959. By November 2020, the PLAAF had as many as 231.

The design for this airplane is over 60 years old, and they are still building them.

The Tyranny of Economics

Giant Hydrogen Fueled Dump Truck

Some people with their hands on the purse strings have promised South Africa a zillion dollars to develop a giant hydrogen fueled dump truck. This has got to be one of dumbest ideas ever. Hydrogen is like the absolutely worst fuel in the world. Nothing can contain it, it will leak right through the walls of a steel tank and on the way it will make the steel brittle. And if you want to carry enough to get anything done, you need to liquify it, which means cooling it down to like minus a zillion degrees. So you need fancy, vacuum bottle fuel tanks and you need a fancy rig to cool it and compress it. I'm not even going to talk about how you go about getting hydrogen. Like I said, it's the absolutely worst fuel ever.

But some people think they can make it work, so this dump truck is like an experiment. I doubt it will ever be economically viable, but maybe the guys working on it will learn something. And perhaps the guys holding the purse strings will learn something, but I doubt that. They will continue to spout fantasies, collect admirers and gain funding from whoever has money and believes in their fantasies.

Meanwhile, South Africa is serious mess. Yes, most of Africa is a disaster, but South Africa has, or had, a viable economy. Right now unemployment is running at 35%. The place is a disaster.

I'm thinking what might help is if they could put all those unemployed people to work. How about we forgo the dump truck and we put people to work hauling rocks out of the mine? How would this work out? To the spreadsheet we go.

We need some numbers to describe the situation. I pulled these out of the air. Say we have an open pit mine 100 feet deep and we have a road that leads up the side of the pit that is one mile long. A man should be able to carry 50 pounds up that hill. It will probably take him an hour to make the round trip. Yes, a man can walk a mile in 20 minutes, but going up hill carrying a 50 pound weight is going to slow him down, plus you've got turn around time. I think you'd be hard pressed to get eight loads per man in eight hours, especially if you are going to do this every day. 

If a giant dump truck can carry 100 tons, you are going to need 20,000 men to carry that same amount of rock in one eight-hour shift. If these guys are getting paid $5 an hour, it's going to cost $4 million a week or $200 million for a year. No wonder mining companies prefer big trucks.

There's also the problem of how you are going to put all 20,000 men to work. Walking single file, you could have 500 men climbing the hill and another file of 500 men walking back down, so you would need room for 40 lines of men. Giving each man five feet of space means you would need a road 200 feet wide.

P.S. later the same day.

Well, if you've 20,000 men, I think you have the manpower to build a road 200 feet wide. Of course it doesn't have to be just one road 200 feet wide, you could have 10 roads 20 feet wide. Depends on the situation. In some bizarre circumstance one 200 foot wide road might be just the thing.

But what are we trying to do here? Are we trying to get the ore out of the ground, or are we trying to put 20,000 men to work? Ideally we would do both, but businesses don't run on what we want, businesses run on cold hard cash.

Hope much is it costing to have 20,000 unemployed men? Are they getting handouts from the government? And you know what they say about idle hands - they're the devil's workshop. How much trouble are these idlers causing?

And $5 an hour is the current minimum wage in South Africa. What if we only pay one dollar per hour? Get a fat tax break from the government for keeping all these blokes busy and you might actually make it work.

Or not. Even if these guys were only getting paid one dollar per hour, labor for a year would still be 50 million dollars. You could probably buy a giant dump truck that would carry 100 tons for under two million dollars. Hard to argue with those kind of numbers. Well, I suppose you could start a war, that would certainly keep a large number of people occupied.

P.P.S. I'm am using color codes in my spreadsheets these days. I'm trying to develop some rules. My only rule so far is that cells that contain formulas are colored light blue. I used a couple other colors here just to point out that they are different. I used tan for a constant and the bright blue and yellow cells get used farther along, so the colors indicate they are the same. White squares are for whatever numbers you want to put in there.

Spreadsheets are handy for almost anything involving numbers. And for anything tougher, there's always Desmos.

Heavy Lift Drone

Downed trees blocking the road at NW 22nd & Flanders Credit: Peter P

We has a snowstorm last month and because the trees had leaves, they collected a large amount of snow, more snow than they could handle, so we got a bunch of broken trees. There were so many downed trees that it impacted traffic over the west hills for a couple of days.

I was at the new house the other day and looking out the back door, down the hill, I can see a bunch of broken trees. Not giants, but still substantial with four to six inch diameter trunks. If should be cleaned up and I imagine it will, eventually. But cutting down the damaged trees and cutting them up pales in comparison to the work involved in hauling that wood to the top of the hill. I mean, you wouldn't have to haul it up, you could just leave it down there, pile it up neatly (or not) and let it rot. But if you could get it to the top of the hill, it could be worth cash money as firewood. Seems a shame to leave it to rot.

You know what would be perfect for this job? A great big drone, a drone that could lift 100 pounds. So I looked around and I didn't find much. Most big, fancy drones are aimed at the camera business and they are ridiculously expensive, like tens of thousands of dollars.

Incredible HLQ bench test

But then I found the Incredible HLQ (Heavy Lift Quadcopter). It looks like just the ticket. Except this project was started back in 2013 and disappeared shortly thereafter. I don't know whether they ran into technical problems or the FAA. I suspect it was the later, but I didn't find any explanation for its demise.

Friday, May 6, 2022

RUTAN 339 Space Ship Two (N33955)

RUTAN 339 Space Ship Two (N33955)

I remember hearing about this thing, what, ten years ago? I didn't like the pivoting tail assembly. Don't have a good reason for my dislike, it just looks like trouble, big flappy things stuck way out on the end of long, skinny sticks. If it had been a success I'm sure they would have eventually won me over. They made some test flights, one of the two crashed, and that seems to have been it. I could find no record of any of the planned commercial flights.

The carrier plane carries SpaceShip Two to somewhere around 12 miles high before it releases it. If this photo was taken from the ground, it would have required a really big lens, and careful planning of the drop. I'm thinking this was taken from a chase plane. That would have entailed its own set of problems, but it wouldn't constrain the carrier plane's flight plan.

SR-71 Blackbird

SR-71B Blackbird trainer over the Sierra Nevada Mountains in 1994
180 rotated piece jigsaw puzzle

The SR-71 has appeared here before.

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Berlin File

The Berlin File Official Trailer 1 (2013) - Werner Daehn Action Movie HD
Movieclips Indie

This movie was a little hard to follow so it didn't make much sense. We have North Koreans, South Koreans, the CIA, Mossad and some unidentified Arabs in Berlin to make an illicit arms deal. Well, some of them are there to make an arms deal and the rest of them are there to either watch what happens or to stop it. In any case there is some skullduggery going on and every few minutes a violent fight erupts. Some involve hare brained chases, some are just action packed karate battles and some are full-fledged machine gun shoot outs. There were a couple of unexpected bits, like the voice recorder that self-destructs after playing the message. Haven't seen that trick since Mission Impossible. Also, first movie featuring a North Korean agent as the protagonist that I've seen, or at least that I remember.

There was a spectacular stunt where our hero falls through a glass roof, bounces off of several beams, gets caught in some electrical wiring that proceeds to get ripped loose from the lights, which leads to him swinging like a pendulum into the wall, and if that's not enough, more wire comes loose and he swings away and into another wall where he finally comes to rest. For two seconds and then he's off again.

Netflix, subtitled, 2 hours.


I play Wordle most every day, it's just my speed. Some days the answer appears as if by magic, other days I am wrought with anguish. Today's puzzle was super-annoying. On my second guess I got three of the letters in the right place. Do you know how many words there are with the letters placed like this:

_ O _ E R (highlight to read)

I thought of nine right off the bat, and I've only got four places left to use. Well, what I need is a word made entirely of letters that haven't been used yet, but that doesn't help much. I've still got 16 letters to choose from, I may as well be starting blind. If I am lucky, sticking in some random word would help, but would it be enough help to be worth one of the four places I have left? I decided it wasn't and instead tried to eliminate as many words as I could from my list. Two words had a B and two words had an N, so with two guesses I was able to eliminate four words from my list. It wasn't enough. The answer was the name of a fictional TV persona. 

(H O M E R) (highlight to read) 

It was on my list, but I had discounted just because of the name association. Too late I realized it also referred to a baseball play, and it's spring, and all right thinking people's thoughts turn to baseball. If you're not thinking about baseball, that makes you some kind of commie. Wasn't that the standard test of suspicious persons during WW2 and the Cold War? Guess I flubbed that test.

Pic of the Day

Man Fall From Tree - Geert de Taeye
204 piece jigsaw puzzle

The fashion world is a strange and wondrous place.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Industrial Green Energy

Aerial view of Enviva Biomass facility in Northampton County [Courtesy of Dogwood Alliance]

On one hand it seems like a good idea, on the other it just seems a little shady.

People are trying to be 'green', so they are burning wood pellets instead of coal, the idea being that growing trees suck as much CO2 out of the air as is produced when they are burned, so burning wood is considered carbon neutral. If you are one of Greta's acolytes, you might think that's a good thing.

Problem is the world burns about 8 billion tons of coal a year. I don't know if there are enough forests on the planet to compete with those kind of numbers. Whatever, demand has been growing and now there are a bunch of wood pellet factories operating in the southeast United States, cutting down forests, grinding the logs into wood pellets, and shipping them all over, including Europe.

Here's the shady part:

Biomass is contentious not just locally for the adverse impacts on those who live near wood pellet plants, but also globally for the unusual way its carbon emissions are tallied.

Under global accounting rules, emissions from burning wood are calculated where the trees are harvested, not where the material is burned.

That means countries can avoid counting emissions from their wood-fired plants while reporting the coal displaced as a greenhouse gas reduction. - Aljazerra

Wood pellets also cost more than coal:

Anthracite coal costs a lot less than wood pellets per unit of heat (BTU). A pound of Anthracite coal has almost twice the heat as a pound of wood pellets, therefore pellets have to be almost 1/2 the cost of Anthracite coal to be at the same cost per unit of heat. The cost of pellets would have to drop to $140/ton to be equal to the cost per unit of heat (BTU) of Anthracite coal that cost $250/ton. - Heet

Coal, if you buy it by the trainload, is much cheaper, like $40 per ton.

Jaguar XJ

Jaguar XJ
291 piece jigsaw puzzle

Oooo, a Jag. Not a bad looking car, but it doesn't really look like a Jag. That might be due to my only seeing old style Jags for most of my life. This version of the Jaguar XJ was produced from 2010 to 2019. Used, they cost about as much as a pickup truck, so I could have bought one instead of the used truck I did buy, but how would I have hauled the sheets of drywall?


I've been trying to lose some weight this year. I am having some success, but it's slow going. Something I've noticed is that if I restrict my diet enough to lose weight, I am always right on the verge of being hungry. What is supposed to be a full meal is not really satisfying. Being a little hungry is not bad, but combine that with being tired, I am liable to become apparently angry. Internally, some little thing will irritate me and I will start making rude remarks, remarks that people around me interpret as anger.

So now I'm wondering, if this is a common phenomena, and I think it is, how is this different than for us that it was 50 or 100 years ago? Was life not so irritating back then that we were able to absorb a little irritation without lashing out? Or were we all not such pansies back then, and a little rude behavior was not something that bothered us? Or is it that modern life has become so much more irritating?

Teacher don't you fill me up with your rules, don't you know that smokin' ain't allowed in school.

Keith McDonald

Now that I think about, smoking was ubiquitous 50 and 100 years ago, and one of the common complaints we hear from people who quit smoking is that they gain a bunch of weight. Could it be that nicotine is an appetite suppressant? I hear kids these days are wearing nicotine patches, not because they are trying to quit smoking - they never started, but because they appreciate the calming effect of the drug. (Seems to be a real thing.) The few times I tried smoking, I never noticed any such effect, but that might just be me. Or maybe I enjoyed being cranked up all the time and wasn't interested in any calming effect.

Smokin' in the Boy's Room is like a high school anthem. Turns out there are at least three versions of this tune. 

There's this one by Brownsville Station from 1973 (don't remember them, though I should), 
the one by Mötley Crüe from 1985 and 
a recent one from LeAnn Rimes from 2014.

Monday, May 2, 2022

Stanisław Lem

Five Lems: Jonathan Lethem on Stanisław Lem
London Review of Books (LRB)

Every time I run into Stanislaw Lem it makes a big impact on me. The movie Solaris was nothing like I thought a science fiction movie should be, but it was totally engrossing. I've read at least one of his books. I am not sure whether that is because his books were hard to find, or they just didn't grab me when I tried them.

Via Detroit Steve

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Disinformation Governance Board

Nina Jankowicz, Executive Director of Disinformation Governance Board

I don't know if this poster is serious or a parody. It's scary either way. There really is a Disinformation Governance Board, it was created last week, and Nina was chosen to head it.

Just what we need, another government bureau spewing more bullshit. That should help clear things up.


The Matrix's "digital rain" - ANIMAL LOGIC/WARNER BROS.

A $70 charge showed up on my credit card bill this month from Roku / Fubo. Let me back up. Last month we got a letter from Ziply, the fiber optic, broadband internet company, telling us that rates for the TV packages were going up. No surprise there, but then the letter goes on to point out that almost everything you could want from the TV services is available on the internet, and it's probably a lot cheaper.  Kind of weird that the cable company would be suggesting that we cancel anything, but maybe they got tired of people complaining about the ever increasing rates and the new taxes that keep getting tacked on. Complaints have to be dealt with, and that consumes customer service hours, so maybe they are just taking a proactive approach to deflecting complaints.

Okay, so we signed up for Fubo which seems to provide most of what we want in the sports arena. It's like $90 a month, but that's half of what TV package cost, so bueno. But now we get the credit card bill and there's this extra charge. There's a phone number attached to the charge, so I call but all I get is a recording telling me to logon to I do that and find there are no charges and since there are no charges there is nothing to dispute. So I call Chase, wade through the robo-cop nonsense, hang on hold for some indefinite amount of time and eventually get to a person. I tell him about the charge and all he can say is fraud. I don't think it's fraud, it's probably just a glitch in the matrix, but there doesn't seem to be any way forward unless I say it's fraud. Seems kind of extreme, but we are in the matrix now so we have to play by matrix rules.

Okay fine, but since it's fraud, my card must be compromised and since it's compromised they are going to turn it off and send me a new one. Welcome to the matrix, where I have been reduced to paying for my gasoline with cash.

I've been carrying an AMEX card in my wallet as a back up, just in case something happened to my Amazon / Chase card, but when I pulled it out I found it expired two years ago.

Harlem River

KEVIN MORBY - Harlem River (Official Music Video)

Great tune, weak video, though there are a couple of clips of dancing girls.

A versus An

Christianity, once again, at the heart of a civilizational battle - this time among Christians themselves. - The Cradle

Clash of Christianities: Why Europe cannot understand Russia by Pepe Escobar opens with this:

Under an ubiquitous, toxic atmosphere of cognitive dissonance drenched in Russophobia, it’s absolutely impossible to have a meaningful discussion on finer points of Russian history and culture across the NATO space – a phenomenon I’m experiencing back in Paris right now, fresh from a long stint in Istanbul.

And I am immediately derailed by the "an" in front of "ubiquitous". Shouldn't that be an "a" instead of an "an"? I did some checking and it kind of depends on how you pronounce ubiquitous.  If you pronounce it oo-bik-wit-us, then the "an" is correct, but if you pronounce it like right thinking stalwarts of Western Civilization, you pronounce it you-bik-wit-us, and you should use "a".

Pepe has appeared here before.


Today's Peanuts Comic

In today's comic, Chuck tells Patti a long story, long for a comic anyway, but Patti's punchline put me over the edge.

Cerro Rico

Potosi: The Silver Mine that Changed the World
The History Guy: History Deserves to Be Remembered

The Silver Mountain was mentioned in another video I posted last week, Why Is Latin America still Poor, and it got me curious, so this morning I did a little digging. This video covers it pretty well. 

He doesn't mention the elevation of this place. The town of Potosi, Bolivia, is at 13,400 feet and the top of the mountain Cerro Rico is 15,689 feet, though it is steadily falling due to internal collapses of old mining galleries. As far as I am concerned air stops at 10,000 feet, so anyone living in this town must be a real life spaceman, a person who can survive where there isn't any air.