Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

A Proper Government

I've been hearing about the clown show in Washington D. C. since forever and I'm thinking maybe we need a different arrangement. Instead of having Congress decide everything, maybe we should hire a manager to actually run the country, the way some city councils hire a manager to run their city. That way the clowns in Congress could concentrate on what's important to them (which is performing on stage for the public) and the manager could worry about actually running the country. The important part is that Congress would no longer have the power to levy taxes, award contracts or borrow money.

Okay, that's a fantasy. It's not going to happen, but I suspect the way things work is actually very similar. On one hand we have the clown show where the clowns get up and spout off on all the subjects that are guaranteed to generate an emotional response. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the bureaucrats try and make sure that the country has enough food, fuel and housing. Mostly they just try to see that everyone plays by the rules.

Congress is the problem. It used to be that there were two houses whose members were chosen in very different ways. The lower house, Congress, has always been chosen by the people. The upper house, the Senate, used be chosen by the people in charge of the state. But sometime in the early 20th Century we passed an amendment that Senators would be chosen by the people, and it's been downhill ever since.

We need to repeal the 17th amendment. Or maybe not.

Monday, May 30, 2022

Our Shit’s Fucked Up

Warren Zevon - My Shits Fucked Up

JMSmith has a few words about the Uvalde massacre. He seems to think school shootings are a systemic problem, i.e. America's shit is fucked up. I have no doubt our shit is fucked up, and massacres are a pretty good indicator that somethings is seriously wrong. I mean, that's exactly what I think when I hear about another suicide bomber blowing up a bunch of people - there is something very fucking wrong with that society.

I wonder if this somehow related to the high level of alcoholism in Scandinavia. Scratch that, Eastern Europe has got the most drunks. Could it be the pointless futility of living a socialist paradise? Or is it that they are so impoverished that drinking is the only form of entertainment they can afford?

Map of Central Texas

JMSmith hales from somewhere around College Station, home of Texas A & M. It is in the upper right corner of the map, about 200 miles from Uvalde, which is in the lower left corner. Not close, but a heck of lot closer than I am. I'm pretty sure I have heard of Uvalde before, not surprising since I lived in Texas for a dozen years. Checking my blog I was surprised to find I mentioned it six months ago. Lancair moved there.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Tetiana Gaidar

Tetiana Gaidar Next Level 👸🏻💖❤️‍🔥 🤩
Taran Tactical

We watched the last two episodes of Bosch: Legacy last night, and Tetiana showed up playing an assassin. She sounded Russian and she was pretty good at her job, so I look her up. She was born in Ukraine and speaks Russian. She now lives in the USA and has become a citizen. She also apparently loves guns given the number of YouTube videos of her running through shooting trials.

She even has one where she is shooting a gun while en pointe.
TTI Sand Viper

The gun she uses in the en pointe video.

The War in Ukraine

Ukrainian servicemen take cover behind a military armored vehicle as they walk towards the battlefield in Lukâyanivka, eastern of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 28th, 2022. © Narciso Contreras / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Finally got a report on the situation that seems to reflect reality instead of unicorn farts:
Sergey Poletaev: What sort of losses can Ukraine tolerate before it’s forced to seek a peace deal with Russia?
Sergey is a co-founder and editor of the Vatfor project. Well, that's great, but I haven't been able to figure out what the Vatfor project is.

And yes, the story is on RT.

1956 Suez Crisis

Sunk ships Blocking the Suez Canal

Distinguished daughter wanted to take a look at a Foreign Service Officer practice test, so we did. Part of the test was to correct a piece of text. The piece they chose was a short summary of the 1956 Suez Crisis. We really didn't know anything about it, but we kind of expected the typical kind of diplomatic bullshit we read about in the news today. But that's not what we got. This bit of text contained a big surprise. Seems the Brits and the French really put their foot in it. It starts on page 32 of the PDF file, page 29 if you looking at the printed page numbers.

In July 1956, Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser seized control of the Suez Canal and nationalized the British- and French-owned company that managed it, threatening both British and French stock holdings and Europe's access to Middle Eastern oil. The ensuing crisis had important consequences for U.S. relations with its European allies and the Middle East. Not surprisingly, a crisis transpired. Previously, the United States and Britain had agreed to finance Egypt’s Aswan Dam, which was to be both a symbol of modernization and a source of electricity. However, after Nasser made several moves that appeared friendly to the Communist bloc, the United States and Britain reneged on the agreement and withdrew financing. Belatedly, Nasser realized that the building of the Aswan Dam was important to Egypt’s future. 

The United States regarded Nasser's nationalization of the Canal as a problem and pursued a diplomatic solution. Britain and France, however, viewed it as a threat to their national interests. They secretly contacted the Israeli government and proposed that Israel invade the Sinai Peninsula and march toward the Suez Canal zone. Then Britain and France would warn both Egypt and Israel to stay away from the Suez Canal and land paratroopers in the zone on the pretext of protecting it. In October 1956, Israeli forces crossed the border to defeat the Egyptian army in the Sinai. Britain and France then issued their warning and landed troops as planned. 

Both the United States and the USSR responded by demanding a cease-fire to these events. In addition, the United States also called for the evacuation of Israeli, French, and British troops under the supervision of a special UN force. This force arrived in mid November and by the end of the year the last British and French troops had withdrawn. 

The Suez conflict was a military defeat for Egypt, but Nasser’s status as the defender of Arab nationalism grew in the Arab world. The United States had improved its relations with Egypt, but fundamental disputes between Israel and its neighbors remained unresolved. Israel withdrew from Egyptian territory gained in the fighting but regained access to the Straits of Tiran.

Before the Egyptian forces were defeated, they had blocked the canal to all shipping by sinking 40 ships in the canalIt took the Brits five months to clear them out.


Incompetent Fascist Cowards

 "I read the news today, oh boy." Here are some links to stories that make me wonder how these people came to be trusted with anything more dangerous than a mop. Probably because they couldn't be trusted with a mop.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Microwaves on Jupiter

Aurorae on the north pole of Jupiter generate cyclotron masers (Hubble)

You start reading science fiction, and you start looking things up and look what you get - aurora on Jupiter showing up in the ultraviolet and in the microwave portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Ethical Ivory

Is ethical ivory trade possible?

Aljazerra has the story along with a video.  Previous posts on the subject from several years ago.

World War II Victory Monument in Riga, Latvia

World War II Victory Monument in Riga, Latvia

The city council in Riga has voted to demolish a WW2 Soviet Monument, abrogating a portion of a treaty they signed with Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed. RT has the story. I'm posting this because I didn't find any 'good' pictures of the monument. I had to go to Google Maps.

The Two Sculptures at the Base of the Monument

As you might expect, not all Latvians were happy about being part of the USSR:

Since its unveiling in 1985, the “Victory Monument” in Riga has been viewed as an ambiguous symbol. The divisive interpretations of the symbolism of this monument are focused on two decidedly different historical memories in Latvian society about the Soviet occupation from 1944 to 1991. Today, the monument has become the catalyst for nostalgia for the Soviet era among those members of Latvian society influenced by Russian media. But, the other segment of society views it as a symbol of Soviet occupation. As a result, this monument has become part of history politics used by Russia in an attempt to strengthen Russian influence in the post-Soviet sphere by using rhetoric that extolls the victory over Nazi Germany by the USSR in World War II as an instrument to construct the identity of the Russian-speaking inhabitants of Latvia. - The History of the Occupation of Latvia

Bonus word: monumentum - "The purpose of a monument can be found in the linguistic origin of the Latin word monumentum: a reminder of the significance of an historic event or personality."


Mig-21 facts that might surprise you
Fly with Magnar

I'm always surprised when I hear about old jet aircraft, and even more so when I hear about old Soviet aircraft. From the YouTube blurb:
First flown in 1955, the MiG-21 is the most produced supersonic airplane in the world.

Flying Tigers

Vans RV-6A at Catalina Island

Here's a modern sport plane dressed up like a WW2 fighter. Next we have the real thing.

Curtiss P-40N Kittyhawk

Kittyhawk? I thought it was a Tomhawk. Depends on where you were standing:

P-40 Warhawk was the name the United States Army Air Corps gave the plane, and after June 1941, the USAAF adopted the name for all models, making it the official name in the U.S. for all P-40s. The British Commonwealth and Soviet air forces used the name Tomahawk for models equivalent to the original P-40, P-40B, and P-40C, and the name Kittyhawk for models equivalent to the P-40D and all later variants. - Wikipedia


Friday, May 27, 2022

1909 Brush Model B

1909 Brush Model B
96 piece jigsaw puzzle

The engine was a water cooled single cylinder giving it a top speed of maybe 35 MPH. In 1910 the Abernathy boys drove a Brush automobile on their return to Oklahoma City from New York.

Red Bull Airplane Swap

Red Bull Airplane Swap

Last month a couple of guys attempted a James Bond style stunt with diving airplanes. They took off together, put their airplanes into dives, jumped out and attempted to 'fly' to the other's airplane. One pilot was successful, the other plane did not cooperate, so the other pilot pulled his ripcord and parachuted to the ground.

I'm posting about it now because we have this photo.

The airplanes were modified for this stunt. One of the modifications was the installation of an oversize speed brake, shown in the photo above. It's that big perforated panel hanging from the bottom of the airplane. Jet fighters are usually equipped with speed brakes, but they are tiny relative to the size of the airplane. I've never seen one this big before.

This stunt was inspired by a similar stunt in the 1995 James Bond film Goldeneye:

Golden Eye plane jump

2 Wingsuit Flyers BASE Jump Into a Plane In Mid-Air | A Door In The Sky
Red Bull

P.S. The airplane swap stunt was done over Eloy, Arizona. It's not much of a place.

Alia Electric VTOL Aircraft

Alia Electric VTOL Aircraft

The above image is a prototype aircraft (sans vertical lift rotors) in flight. It's being developed by Beta Technologies, a small startup company in Vermont. They have acquired nearly $800 million in funding for development. That might be enough to get them through FAA certification, which might be the most expensive part of bringing any new airplane to market.

UPS plans to buy 150 of these aircraft when they are ready, which isn't going to be for at least a couple more years. With a price tag of $4 million each, that would be $600 million, which makes it seem like that $800 million investment could possibly pay off. There are a number of hurdles to overcome before they get there though, and it wouldn't take too many stumbles to scuttle the whole thing.

The thing that bothers me about electric vehicles is the stupid lithium-ion batteries and their propensity to catch fire. Actually, that's not fair. There was a spate of Tesla automobile fires a while back, but somebody checked and concluded that the rate of Teslas catching fire was lower than the rate that conventional gasoline automobiles catch fire. The bigger problem is how difficult it is to put out an automobile battery fire. It might take 2,000 gallons to put out the fire in a burning gasoline powered car, but it will take ten times as much water to put out an electric vehicle fire. I suppose someone will develop a protocol for dealing with lithium-ion battery fires and then, eventually, fire departments around the country will adopt new practices and equipment to deal with them.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Empire of Lies

Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies - George Orwell

I am disgusted with the US Government and the constant stream of bullshit they produce. Oh, I don't blame them, most people don't have the time or inclination to think about world affairs, they are perfectly happy with listening to whatever the government tells them. 

If that information generates an emotional response, so much the better, that's what those yahoos in charge want, people who are fired up enough to follow them into the breach. Or over the cliff. 

In the forlorn hope of slowing our descent in madness, I give you a couple of items. The first is from our friends at RT, formerly known as Russia Today which is no doubt Putin's mouthpiece, much like The New York Times and the Washington Post are Biden's. The second is an hour long video about Izzy Stone, independent gadfly reporter. I haven't watched the whole thing, come on, it's an hour long, but it seems to be pretty well done.

Moscow warns of new ‘Iron Curtain’ - RT

The West tries to bar its own people from accessing alternative information on the conflict in Ukraine, Russia’s deputy UN envoy says

Washington and its allies have turned into a new “collective ministry of truth,” rigorously preserving their narrative on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, Deputy Permanent Representative of Russia to the UN Dmitry Polyansky told RT on Thursday. The West has launched a massive smear campaign against Russia in the media and on the internet, the diplomat believes.

Western governments seek to spread views that are “beneficial to them but do not always correspond to the reality,” Polyansky said, adding that they ultimately seek to put their own population into a “bubble of lies” that makes it hard for an ordinary person to distinguish between factual information and a distorted picture of what is happening on the ground in Ukraine.

“That is behavior of a Ministry of Truth,” Polyansky said. The diplomat also said that Western governments try to dismiss any alternative information as fake or simply block access to it. He particularly pointed to the Western nations banning Russian outlets like RT and branding any information coming from Moscow or the Russian media as “propaganda.”

Here's the video: 

I.F. Stone's Weekly (1973) | A Film by Jerry Bruck, Jr.

I wonder if the USA has any propaganda outlets operating in Moscow. I know there are Voice of America radio broadcasts, or at least there used to be. Don't hear much about them any more.

FH70 Field Howitzer

Fh-70榴弾砲の射撃!! [Howitzer shooting]

Italy has donated some FH70 Cannons to Ukraine. The FH70 is a European creation. The US built their own comparable 155mm gun, the M198 and now we have replaced it with the M777, a super-light, super-expensive, titanium framed wondergun complete with bells and whistles.
The FH70 is a little odd in that incorporates an APU (Auxilary Power Unit) to run the hyrdraulics. It can also be used to drive the wheels, so it can be driven short distances. Rumor has it that it can travel 20km. It is probably limited by its fuel supply.

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Holt Collier

Statue of an African-American cowboy being is installed in Indian Spring Park in Waco, Tx.
(AP Photo/Waco Tribune Herald, Rod Aydelotte)

[Sculptor] Summers modeled the African-American cowboy after Holt Collier, an actual cowboy and bear hunter most known for accompanying President Theodore Roosevelt on a 1902 bear hunt. - Washington Times

Borepatch put up a post yesterday about Gummi Bears, which leads to Teddy Bears, which leads to Teddy Roosevelt hunting for black bears in Mississippi, which leads to Holt Collier, Teddy's guide for that hunt.

Holt Collier was born a slave in 1846. While he was a boy he took up hunting and killed his first bear at the age of 10. With a gun. A slave with a gun! Who'd a thunk it?

Near the end of the civil war, the Confederacy decided to let negros join the army. A few did join and Holt was one of them. After the war he spent time in Texas and became a Texas Ranger.

Holt Collier Historical Marker

Heritage Post has a page about The Forgotten Legend Of Holt Collier.

Wikipedia has a page, but it's pretty weak. Not enough documentation I suspect.

Paul Delvaux "The Viaduct"

Paul Delvaux "The Viaduct"
143 piece jigsaw puzzle

Jigsaw Planet lets you choose the number of pieces you want to deal with. Small puzzles may have as few as six pieces, large ones may have as many as 300. I find 100 to 150 pieces suits me pretty well. I can usually complete those in about 20 minutes. This one was a little more difficult, it took me 40 minutes to finish. JP offers several different puzzle shapes. Some are common, some are more elaborate and some are just simple quadrilaterals (distorted rectangles). This one used the last. I'm not sure whether that made it more difficult or not. The dark colors certainly didn't help. I tried using Pix to see if I could make the image more visible, but I didn't have any luck. I finally resorted to inverting it and creating a negative image. I don't think the image is well suited to a computer display, maybe a newer fancier display would do a better job, but on this old display it's hard to make out differences in the dark areas. The negative shows why. Everything that was black is now displayed as white.

Negative of "The Viaduct"

Paul Delvaux (1897 – 1994) was a Belgian painter noted for his dream-like scenes of women, classical architecture, trains and train stations, and skeletons, often in combination


The problem with having a reliable device that is connected to the internet is that some day you are going to have to shut it down and when you restart it you are going to need to enter your password slash validate your existence. If the machine has been reliable, it might have been months since the last time you did this, so are you going to remember your password? When I was using a Windows computer, lo, these many years ago, I used to shut it down at the end of the day and fire it up again in the morning, so I used that password every day, so it kind of got engraved on my brain which was great until I had to change it. 

Computers need to ask you if you remember your password before they shut down, especially if it's been over a week since the last time it was restarted. Some people keep their passwords in a file on their computer. That doesn't do you any good if you can't logon. I do that, but then I print it out and put in a folder in my desk, a special folder, just for that one sheet of paper. I need to make up a new one, the old one has been scribbled over so much it looks like a kindergartner's homework. Well, it would if kindergartners had homework.

When I was using a Windows computer for writing computer programs, I used to shut down the computer every day because it would frequently crash and I would have to restart the machine. It might do this one or two or several times a day depending on what I was working on, but shutting it down at night eliminated at least one of those restarts, so some days everything ran smoothly all day long. Yes, I know, hard to believe with a Windows system.

Anyway, the cheap Windows computer I had at the new house was being kind of stinky. Besides all the usual Windows bullshit of having to do updates and security checks, it would lose its connection with the internet. I'm using a cell phone modem. Now there might be a way to hack into the modem and toggle a switch that says 'don't forget me', but to find out what needs to be done, not to mention if it even can be done, I need to talk to tech support at Verizon, and to do that I need a password. Which is in my special file at home, ten miles away.

Since I don't know what the secret is to getting this cell phone modem to reconnect, the only solution I had was to restart the computer, and being that it's a Windows computer it takes forever and a day to  go through its stupid shutdown and startup procedures. 

Acer Chromebox

After a couple years of putting up with this Windows bullshit, I decided a new Chromebox might be the best solution, so I ordered one from Amazon

Sceptre 24" Professional Thin 75Hz 1080p LED Monitor

The Chromebox only has an HDMI video output and my current display only has a VGA input jack, so I bought a big, new, cheap display. The Chromebox came with a slightly smaller keyboard. I used it for a few days but then I decided I liked my old Dell keyboard better, probably because I am used to it.

Now Posthip Scott sends me this video and I'm thinking that this computer is very cute, very small, and very capable, and then it hits me that it is very similar to what is inside the Chromebox.

Khadas VIM 4: Powerful ARM SBC with HDMI Input

Khadas VIM 4 product page here.

Pocket Computer Comparison

The VIM 4 is the more capable device. The Chromebox is entirely adequate for what I'm using it for.  At this rate of technological improvement it won't be long before Asimov's positronic brain shows up. Shoot, some research lab is probably testing one right now.

Your Vote Doesn't Matter

Republic Services
Hauling your ass to the dump

What matters is the votes in aggregate, and that is pretty much determined by who has the most expensive advertising campaign. Yes, there are exceptions, like Bloomberg spending $400 million and getting nowhere, though I don't know how that compares to other campaigns. And there was Zuckerberg's campaign to 'get out the vote' that put Biden in the driver's seat.

I've been thinking that we really need a new political party, a party dedicated to the principles of the our republic. The 20th Century was spectacular. It brought us a huge increase in population, a couple of horrific wars that have now morphed into the forever war, and absolutely astounding technical accomplishments. All this has contributed to our slide from a republic populated by brave, true and honest citizens into an empire where it's every man for himself, money talks and virtues are a bug, not a feature.

The regime that is currently running the country, which includes everyone working for the government, the defense industry and the two major political parties, is not interested in the welfare of people. The entire edifice is constructed to pump as much wealth into pockets of their members and to hell with everyone else. Some of that wealth is newly created, but a large portion of it comes from squeezing everyone who is not a member of this wolf pack. The frigging government has become the Mafia, much like the government in the old Soviet republic.

I think there are people who would agree with me on the need for a new political party, but they are a tiny minority, maybe 3%, and three percent are not going to win any elections. If this new party is going to have any chance of success, it is going to need a massive bankroll. There might any number of billionaires out there who would be willing to fund such an endeavor (somewhere between none and a few), but the problem is how do you keep that large a bankroll from corrupting the people who are managing it? I mean, we've got a zillion dollars here, who's going to miss a million or two?

What we need is a new religion. Great. The world has a zillion religions and while they can often bind a group of people together in a common cause, they also often require beliefs that many people just cannot abide. Rational thought is not something that inspires religious fervor. Rational thought is what we need to administer a just and proper republic, but it's religious fervor that gets people moving. I think that's what you call a conundrum.

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Application of Force

We have two links that are just barely related. One is about military force and the other about financial force. I have lumped them together because those seem to be the only forces the world understands.

Citizen Kane
(an image from the movie)

First off we have Yard Sale of the Mind talking about billionaires and how their influence can be much larger than one might suppose.

May 9 Celebration in Mariupol, Ukraine

The other is from Pepe Escobar about Russia's incursion into the Ukraine and how the story being promoted by the Biden regime might not be accurate.

A couple other things I heard about Ukraine that make a certain amount of sense are -

  • The US military is using the conflict in the Ukraine to get rid of a bunch of weapons that are either obsolete or will soon be. Get rid of the old stuff and when you replace it you can get new and better stuff.
  • The purpose of the USA led attack on Russia is to maintain the US dollar as the world standard.  Being the world standard is what has allowed us to spend trillions of newly minted dollars to buy stuff from other countries, even though there is no substance behind our money. It's like, we're the USA, trust us, all hale the almighty dollar. However, by freezing Russia's currency reserves we may have shot our selves in the foot as many other countries will take that as evidence that we can't be trusted.

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Smoking and Food, Part 2

Yami Nu looking yummy
Sports Illustrated 2022

Handwaving Freakoutery echoes my sentiments about weight and smoking, but does it with numbers and pictures.

Dick Allen smoking a cigarette
Sports Illustrated 1972

You can still see people smoking in European TV shows, but seldom, if ever, in American ones. You can see what it used to be like here.

Drug Cartel Delivery Trucking

Monster Semi-Truck

Being in the trucking business has got to be very exciting these days, well, exciting if you like turmoil and unexpected problems. Kind of like the ancient Chinese curse 'may you live in interesting times'. You wouldn't expect that given that the trucking business is like the foundation of modern commerce. Every single cotton pickin' thing gets delivered by truck. Okay, except for air, water, natural gas and electricity. Those just appear by magic, everything else comes by truck.

If you ever try to ship anything you will find out how expensive it is, and it can be steep. I mailed a couple of  packages of drill bits that only weighed a couple of ounces and it cost me four bucks each. No wonder free shipping is so popular. We've got Amazon Prime and we use the heck out of it. If I need something, I dial it up on my computer and in a short while it shows up on my doorstep, often the next day, sometimes later the same day. It's almost freaky how well it works. Okay, it's freaky when it works, but it doesn't always work. Sometimes I order something and a week later I wake up and say, hey, where's the whatsit I ordered last week? And I find that next day delivery wasn't offered on that particular item and it's not going to be here for another week. So you need to keep your eyes peeled, your eye on the ball and your nose to the grindstone when flying your desk through cyber-space, Chucky.

Amazon may be destroying the American retail industry, but Walgreens and Costco have already got us well down that road. I dunno, maybe we do need a guaranteed basic income. Give a tax break to employers based on the number of employees they have. But that's a whole 'nuther can of worms. We'll leave that for another post.

Amazon Prime isn't free. I think it's like a hundred bucks a year now, but that's a pretty good deal considering it costs a hundred bucks to fill the gas tank these days. Driving used to cost about 50 cents a mile, but with the recent gas price increases, it's more like 75 cents per mile. If Amazon Prime saves me from making a trip to the store just once a month, it pays for itself.

And then there's Walgreens. They also offer free shipping on mail-order prescription drugs. I am on a permanent regimen of half a dozen drugs, so I need a constant supply of them. Walgreens reliably ships them out on a regular basis, except when they don't. A month ago I noticed I was low on Losartan, a pill that is supposed to help control high blood pressure, so I dialed up Walgreens website and placed an order.

Now the modern world sticks it's pointy little beak into my affairs. Losartan is no longer available, as least not from any of Walgreens suppliers. Call the doctor's office, talk to the nurse, she talks to the doc, the doc talks to me and a couple of days later, we've got a new script crawling its way to Phoenix over our mostly stable communications network.

Drug Delivery Tracking
In Reverse Order - Most Recent Event at Top

Eventually Walgreens  gets the new script, packages it up and hands it off to DHL (the German version of UPS (United Parcel Service)) who takes a week to get it to Seattle where it is going to be handed off to the USPS (United States Post Office). So maybe it will get here this week.

Obviously things are not going as smoothly as you or I or Walgreens or DHL could want. Seems I've been hearing conflicting news about the trucking industry this year. Seems like earlier some people were complaining that there was a terrible shortage of trucks or drivers or something, and now some people are complaining that high fuel prices are impacting the shipping business and we have a bunch of trucks and drivers sitting idle. So there you have it, exciting times in the trucking industry.

P.S. Walgreens used to offer automatic reordering for permanent prescriptions, but that stopped recently, possibly because I turned 70 years old or possibly because of a rule-change with Medicare. No point in shipping drugs to a dead man. If you are still alive and still need these drugs, you need to tell us.

P.P.S. Could it be that the War On Drugs is being fought between the North American and South American drug cartels? Which one should be given a bigger tax break based on the number of employees? Which one sells more drugs? Which one has more customers?

Drone Ship of Drones

China's Zhu Hai Yun drone carrier vessel. © Southern Ocean Laboratory

Reportedly the Zhu Hai Yun has an artificial intelligence computer that makes it capable of autonomous operation. It can also be operated by remote control. I expect it won't be too long before they start equipping cargo ships with the same kind of control systems. Load a ship, program the destination and press the GO button. 

This ship is not a cargo ship. It is designed for research and 'security', and as we all should know, security is just a euphemism for war. What makes this ship potentially dangerous is that it can carry 'dozens of drones'. Any ship can carry 'dozens of drones', shoot, you could load up a rowboat with dozens of small hobby drones. But drones come in all sizes. The larger ones can carry larger payloads and / or more fuel, which means a longer range. Hobby drones have a range of a few miles. Larger drones can travel over 1,000 miles, so this ship can sit way out in the middle of the ocean and launch an attack with dozens of drones on any place within range. So now everyone needs a method to defend against these drones.

A pet eagle or a shotgun might work for taking out hobby size drones, or anything traveling at a relatively slow speed, like under 50 miles per hour, but bigger, faster drones are going to require a more sophisticated weapon to be able to cope with them. The 20mm gatling gun seems more than capable, but it is gawd awful expensive to operate. But hey, we can just print more money, right?

I would like to say 'why can't we all just get along', but our history seems to indicate that we can only get along for a while before the irritations start to mount and the situation escalates to violence. Maybe we were lucky to have some violent, destructive riots, maybe it will keep us from getting involved in another war. Ha. Very funny. Is to laugh.

Mi-17 Helicopter

Soldiers boarding an Mi-17 Helicopter
144 piece jigsaw puzzle

Mi-17 Helicopter - Veronica Aguila

The USA is providing Soviet Mi-17 helicopters to Ukraine. This strikes me as just a trifle absurd. I am not sure how we got them, probably something to do with Afghanistan. 

I'm still waiting for an explanation of why our exit from Afghanistan appeared to be such debacle. I mean, the news reports I read about that event made it sound like our exit was done with little to no planning and even worse execution. But that's just what the media reports, and we know we can't trust anything that comes from the internet. Maybe for the people in charge it went exactly according to plan. Or maybe it was just done out of budgetary considerations. 'We've spent too much money on this project, it's time to cut our losses.'  That seems unlikely since we had already spent a trillion dollars on that misadventure. What happened? Did we suddenly hit some magic number like a trillion and one dollars? 

In any case, from where I sit, relatively safe and secure in my basement hidey-hole, it certainly made the US military look like a bunch of incompetent fools. Of course, that's been pretty much the way it's been ever since Eisenhower left office. Oh, for the glorious fifties when our news was sanitized for our protection and all our elected officials were paragons of virtue and competence.

Friday, May 20, 2022

China's J-10C Jet Fighter

Chengdu J-10C Jet Fighters
112 piece jigsaw puzzle

Wikipedia  has a page about the aircraft and the engine. They are a little thick, but it seems the Chinese may have finally figured out how to make a reliable jet engine.

Art Bridge

Art Bridge
130  piece jigsaw puzzle

The Art Bridge is a very fancy piece of work in downtown Skopje, Macedonia. I thought is was an ancient artifact but it turns out it is fairly recent. It was built in 2014 for surprisingly modest cost of 2.5 million Euros. There is an road improvement project near my house that is embellishing a mile and a half long section of road at a cost of $20 million, and there ain't no sculpture. There are fancy streetlights, but no gold filigree. Somehow I think Skopje got the better deal.

North Macedonia

North Macedonia is surrounded by Albania, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Greece.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Sarin Nerve Gas -> Gulf War Illness

I don't remember hearing anything about GI's getting sick from the Gulf War, but even if I had, it's not like I was going to do anything about it. Veterans seem to be at least somewhat organized, I'm sure they can bring pressure to bear where it's needed. Maybe they did, maybe not, but in any case some whiz kids got to the root cause of the problem and it's kind of stinky.

Genetic study confirms sarin nerve gas as cause of Gulf War illness - Science Daily

For three decades, scientists have debated the underlying cause of Gulf War illness (GWI), a collection of unexplained and chronic symptoms affecting veterans of the Persian Gulf War. Now researchers have solved the mystery, showing through a detailed genetic study that the nerve gas sarin was largely responsible for the syndrome.

While the whiz kids were digging into this problem they found a gene that affects how fast the body can breakdown nerve agents like Sarin. Whether you get sick or die also depends on your level of exposure. Even good genes can't protect you against an unhealthy dose.

I found this line in the Science Daily story intriguing:

In particular, satellite imagery documented a large debris cloud rising from an Iraqi chemical weapons storage site bombed by U.S. and coalition aircraft and transiting over U.S. ground troop positions where it set off thousands of nerve gas alarms and was confirmed to contain sarin.

"set off thousands of nerve gas alarms"? Nerve gas alarms? Are there such things? Must be. Thousands of them? Well, this is the Army, if your going to make one, may as well make a zillion.

Digging around I found some videos. The first one is from 2012 from the University of Michigan:

Associate professor Jinsang Kim, inspired by his own land mine detector, developed a nerve agent detection sensor that only requires bare eye to observe the presence of the dangerous nerve gas.

Nerve Agent Detection Sensor
University of Michigan Engineering

Then we've got the Army's time consuming protocol for figuring out whether you were going to live or die. From 1963.

Air Testing for Nerve Agents 1963

From 2013 we have an actual, portable, nerve case detector.

The Smiths Detection LCD 3.3
Smiths Detection

Lastly, we've got a promotional video for a detector with built in GPS. I can see where that could be handy if you are trying to determine just how big an area has been affected. Nice thing about mechanical devices is that they can keep reporting even if the person carrying it has been incapacitated.  Geez, this is being to sound like one of those science fiction horror stories.

ChemProX - New Generation Handheld Chemical Detector
Environics Oy

What do nerve gas alarms sound like? Do I even want to know? I wonder if the detector manufacturers created a new alarm sound, or did they just a standard warning beeper? If it was a special sound, you wouldn't want to broadcast it because sure as shootin' some gumball would be creating fake nerve gas alarms. On the other hand, if no one recognizes the sound, it might make people curious, but it shouldn't cause a panic. Panic, no matter what the situation is almost always a very bad thing. An ordinary warning beeper should be fine. I mean how many people are going to be caring nerve gas detectors? If you are someplace where people are carrying them, you might want to find another place to be.

Lastly, there was this article from 2013  that sounds like something totally made-up, like unobtanitum, but is apparently a real thing:

This Detector Finds Tiny Amounts Of Nerve Gases By Their Sound by Jennifer Welsh on Insider

Via My Daily Kona

Aches and Pains

Since my back flaked out on me, I am not as effective at getting things done. Shoot, hiking to the back of beyond (the far corner of Home Depot) is enough to justify taking a nap. But I can drive, and since there are always errands that need to be run, I do. I drive my pickup truck and it seems to be comfortable enough but I suspect all the bouncing and jouncing over the Portland potholes puts some strain on me. A couple of days of driving around town and I am flipping exhausted. I got a massage for the first time last week and it was an experience. I suppose intense is the best description. I felt a whole lot better afterwards.

I wonder if a car with a more car like (softer) suspension might make driving less draining. I do hate it though when a wheel drops into a pothole and whole car suffers a big jolt. I never used to care about potholes, they were a nuisance, but what are you going to do about it? If you're driving a truck you don't care, you just drive right over them.  A friend of mine, J. R. Montgomery, used to drive trucks for a living. He told me about the time he drove a Cadillac from Ohio to New York City, a distance of about 400 miles. He said it was the most comfortable ride he had ever taken. It was like sitting on your living room couch. Bet there weren't any potholes back then.

Previous posts on the subject.


T-34 | official trailer (2018)

This was a fun movie about Russian tank crews during WW2. One crew gets captured and due to Nazi hubris gets a chance to escape and they make the most of it. The slow motion views of tank shells flying through the air are pretty spectacular, especially when they strike glancing blows, which happens more often than you or I or reality might expect, but hey, it makes a great scene. And then we have the body of the tank ringing like a bell, which perturbs the occupants just a bit.

The video above is just a trailer, but you can watch the whole movie on YouTube, presumably for free. If you don't have a subscription, I imagine there will be ads.

P.S. Reading about the Soviet T-34 and WW2 is depressing. How do madmen like Stalin get to be in power? Don't tell me, I know, it's when men of goodwill do nothing. But that doesn't really cover it, does it? Because there can be a zillion men of goodwill who aren't in a position to stop him. There were people who were in a position to stop him, but I suspect that Stalin used animal cunning to insure that the only people who were near to him were either too weak to do anything about it, or not of goodwill and wouldn't be inclined to act against him.

Fairlady Z

The Nissan 240Z changed the reputation of a whole country | Revelations with Jason Cammisa | Ep. 24

I enjoy Jason's stories. He paints a clear picture of the recent history of the automobile industry without getting bogged down in minutiae. It might not be entirely accurate, history, after all, is written by the victors, but it's good enough for me. He also explains a lot of stuff that was fairly obscure, like why the Skyline developed such a cult following.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls
300 piece jigsaw puzzle

'Discovered' by Dr. Livingston in 1855. I didn't realize it was so recent. I guess I kind of thought all that British empire building was done in 1700's.

This was a very difficult puzzle, not much in the way of visual clues like you might get with a car or an airplane. Start to finish was 60 hours. I guess I probably spent about four hours on it.