Intel's Ronler Acres Plant

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

Sunday, December 31, 2023


『VIVANT』キャスト最新ビジュアル公開!遂に、本当の冒険物語が幕を開ける―第3話 7/30(日)よる9時【TBS】
TBS公式 YouTuboo

VIVANT is a goofball action comedy. A Japanese corporation makes an error in transferring funds to the fictional country of Balka. Nogi, the salaryman who pressed the Enter key that activated the transfer, gets blamed for the error and is sent to Balka to retrieve the missing $90 million. Balka is somewhere in central Asia, between China, Russia, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. The scenery is spectacular. Nogi bumbles along and survives only because other people look out for him. Nogi's facial expressions are very entertaining. Nobody knows what VIVANT means, the best they have been to work out so far is that it might be a mispronunciation of the Japanese word for annex. 10 episodes, an hour and a half each. We've only watched the first one.

Two days later and we've watched 8 of the 10 episodes and they're mostly like 45 minutes long. I think only the first episode was extra long. Anyway, this show is a real smorgasbord. We've got heart warming scenes, that go on for so long I was beginning to think this was a soap opera. We have scenes of brutal violence, and deliberate cruelty. We have cynical conspiracy mongering or stunning expose of what is actually going on in the world, depending if you are wearing a tin foil hat or not. And then there's the day-to-day activities going on in civilian spaces where everyone is pretending to be nice people. My gawd, it's just like real life. Scary if you think about it.

Maybe the Redneckest prank call ever

Little Bubby Child

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Marathi Oxen Race

बकासुर आणि बलमा गट पास पलशी मैदान फाइनल bailgada sharyat #बकासुर #bailgadasharyat #recommended #live
Pat Pratiyogita Dk

Feed the tags to Google Translate and it tells me the language is Marathi.

India State Maharashtra where the Marathi language is spoken

Maharashtra has a population of 112 million people , which is only one third of the population of the USA. How is it that they have ox racing but we don't?

Update May 2024 replaced missing video with another about Marathi Oxen racing.



I dunno about the mag wheels. I think the grill is custom and it looks to be lowered. Cool looking ride.

Cars and People

Tesla Automobile
Because I'm a sucker for a pretty face and I used to subscribe to Car & Driver

I suspect that my dislike of electric cars stems from the $70K price tag that comes on a moderately fancy new one. That goes along with my resentment of people who drive expensive cars in general. And it's not that I can't afford one. If I wanted one I could buy one, but you weigh my desire for a fancy car against my resistance to spending more than a dollar and half on anything, and my desire will fall way short. I suppose it would be nice to have a fancy car, but my interest would only last a few days, a month tops, and then it's just another car. Maybe if I had ten million in the bank it would not be such a big deal, but I don't, so it is.

And then there's all the problems that are showing up on electric cars. The whole thing about the batteries is kind of a bug-a-boo. I suspect they will get the issues sorted out eventually but right now it's a big issue. However, too many people have sunk too much money into the whole electric car thing for it to disappear. And who knows? Some wise guy may come up with a new battery technology that will solve a bunch of the problems.

Electric cars have another problem, a problem they share with gasoline engine powered cars, and that is the proliferation of super-reliable electronic gadgets. All kinds of cars are loaded with these things and they are great as long as they work, but every once in a while something will flake out. Sometimes it's obvious which component failed, and sometimes it takes a master technician with a zillion dollar analyzer to figure out what's wrong and then you get to pay for the part and it costs a zillion dollars as well. Over all, if you look at average cost of operating an automobile, I suspect it has gone down substantially over the years, but if you happen to get hit with the rare occasion of some gizmo flaking out, it can hit you pretty hard. Might be why people like warranties.

I dunno, but I suspect guys who work on electric cars have an easier time of it than guys who work on gasoline powered cars. With electric cars you are operating in one environment - it's all electric all the time, well, except for the brakes and suspension, but the power train and all the controls are all electric. Gasoline engine mechanics need to have a good understanding of electronics, but they also need to be familiar with the ins and outs of internal combustion engines, and that is a whole 'nother universe.

Then there's the issue of the difficulty of repairs. Things have getting more complicated, and more stuff is getting stuffed into the engine bay which in itself has gotten smaller. These days it's often a toss-up as to whether taking engine out would be easier than trying to fix whatever is broken while it sits in the car. Car manufacturers primary goal is to make assembly as quick and easy as possible. Repair-ability comes second. Besides, cars are so reliable, they shouldn't need any repairs, and the way people drive and the way insurance companies operate, there is a good chance the car will be totaled before it needs any repairs.

The big issue that divides the automotive world is between the people who are good at working with their hands and people who are good at working with people. People who have no innate mechanically ability are attracted to electric cars because of the simplicity of how they operate - an electric motor goes around and it turns the wheels. What makes the motor go around? Electricity from a battery, like a flashlight., but bigger. Easy-peasy. You start talking about how an internal combustion engine works to people-people and their eyes will glaze over in about five seconds. They have no interest in it, but they will be interested in how interested you are in it.

People who are good with their hands will do fine if society has a place for them. In order to accomplish anything big, you are going to need to work with people. People who are good at working with people are going to have an easier time of that than people who are good at working with their hands. Not all people-people are good at organizing others, many of them just spend their energy talking with friends about celebrities.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023


Suzuki TL1000 Flat Tracker

IAman is thinking about buying a motorcycle, so after lunch yesterday we stopped by Bob Lanphere's Beaverton Motorcycles. The place is crazy, they must have over a thousand units, bike and quads. The variety is mind boggling, cruisers, motocross bikes and everything in between. I have never heard of some of the brands, and some, like KTM, I have no idea where they came from. I mean, back in the day they didn't exist. 

On top of all the bikes they have for sale, they also have a collection of older motorcycles, some of them going back to the 1940s. There must 200 of them on display, all ten feet off of the floor to keep them out of the reach of gear-poking tourists. More photos here.

The Suzuki Flat Tracker caught my eye, perhaps the lack of gloss made it more real. 

Nine Arches Bridge

Nine Arches Bridge

The Nine Arch Bridge . . . is a viaduct bridge in Sri Lanka and is one of the best examples of colonial-era railway construction in the nation. - Wikipedia

This puzzle was pretty tough. The bridge and the train were easy enough, but the trees were almost impossible, probably because there are 300 pieces. Setting the number of pieces to a smaller number would likely have made it easier, but where's the fun in that?

Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc.

Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc. (Official Video)

This tune came out in 2005. I suspect that originally the video was only available on MTV. I remember looking for this tune a while back and not finding much.

RT’s holiday video

RT’s holiday video

Great stuff. Could Biden be a Russian puppet? Seems unlikely, but truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

A Brief History of the Evolution of Atomic Theory

The Most Dangerous Rock in the World
Welch Labs

I was going to try and put together a spreadsheet with the numbers, but I'm falling behind on all the stuff I want to do, so I suspect that would never get done, so here's the video and you'll just have to do your own math.

Monday, December 25, 2023

Best Thing I've Read In A While

And So Ends an Era by James Howard Kunstler

The best part:

You may have noticed that our country, formerly a republic of sovereign individuals, has become one great big racketeering operation run by a mafia-like cabal with Marxist characteristics — or, at least, Marxist pretenses. That is, it seeks to profit by every avenue of dishonesty and coercion, under the guise of rescuing the “oppressed and marginalized” from their alleged tormenters. Apparently, half the country likes it that way.

Much of the on-the-ground action in this degenerate enterprise is produced by various hustles. A hustle is a particularly low-grade, insultingly obvious racket, such as Black Lives Matter, DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion), and “trans women” (i.e., men) in women’s sports. Some of the profit in any hustle is plain moneygrubbing, of course. But there’s also an emotional payoff.  Hustlers and racketeers are often sadists, so the gratification derived from snookering the credulous (feelings of power) gets amplified by the extra thrill of seeing the credulous suffer pain, humiliation, and personal ruin. (That’s what actual “oppressors” actually do.)

Categorically, anyone who operates a racket or a hustle is some sort of psychopath, a person with no moral or ethical guard-rails. Hustles are based on the belief that it is possible to get something for nothing, a notion at odds with everything known about the unforgiving laws of physics and also the principles of human relations in this universe. Even the unconditional love of a mother for her child is based on something: the amazing, generative act of creating new life, achieved through the travail of birth. Have you noticed, by the way, that the birth of human children is lately among the most denigrated acts on the American social landscape?

The flap over Harvard’s president, Claudine Gay, is an instructive case in the governing psychopathies of the day. I wish I’d been a roach on the tray of petit fours and biscotti brought into the Harvard Overseers’ board-room when they met to consider the blowback from Ms. Gay’s unfortunate remarks in Congress, followed by revelations of her career-long plagiarisms. The acrid odor of self-conscious corruption in the room must have overwhelmed even the bouquet of Tanzanian Peaberry coffee a’brew, and not a few of the board members must have reached for the sherry decanter as their shame mounted, and the ancient radiators hissed, and their lame rationalizations started bouncing off the wainscoted walls.

He goes to hypothesize the ruin of Harvard, which I kind of doubt will happen, but even if it does, Harvard is just one tentacle of Cthulhu.

Update next day fixed formatting.


Solovetsky Monastery

This place is a hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle. In brief:

The Solovetsky Monastery is a fortified monastery located on the Solovetsky Islands in the White Sea in northern Russia. It was one of the largest Christian citadels in northern Russia before it was converted into a Soviet prison and labor camp in 1926 to 1939, and served as a prototype for the camps of the Gulag system. The monastery has experienced several major changes and military sieges. Its most important structures date from the 16th century, when Filip Kolychev was its hegumen (comparable to an abbot). - Wikipedia

P. S. Just figured this out, so I thought I would 'share'. Gawd, I hates that word 'share'. What's wrong with tell? Whatever, I'm a gonna tell y'all 'bout it. Google Maps won't display grid lines, but Google Earth will. You just have to enable them on the layers menu. 

Solovetsky Monastery

That's Murmansk up near the top.

Merry Christmas

Trinity Church and the John Hancock Tower in Boston, Massachusetts

My wife and I went to a Christmas service last night at St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon. Haven't been to church in a while but we went last night.

The sermon was mostly about Phillips Brooks (1835-1893), pastor extraordinaire of Trinity Church in Boston. He is also the author of O Little Town of Bethlehem. He was inspired to write this tune when he visited Bethlehem in 1865, which is when the American Civil War came to an end.  

While the pastor is talking about Phillips Brooks and peace, he throws in that Pax Romana (Peace of Rome), the ruling order in Bethlehem back in the day, wasn't really about peace, it was about order, which is one of fundamental precepts of any kind of civilization. Well, now he's got my attention, which means I'm going to need to write a blog post, and here we are.

Trinity Church, Boston, Massachusetts

From Wikipedia:
[Trinity Church] is the birthplace and archetype of the Richardsonian Romanesque style, characterized by a clay roof, polychromy, rough stone, heavy arches, and a massive tower. This style was soon adopted for a number of public buildings across the United States.

Man, that is one ugly building. Reminds me of the Licking County Jail in Newark, Ohio.

Licking County Jail, Newark, Ohio

Sunday, December 24, 2023

Garden Apartment

Girl, cat & garden

Drawing by Ionomycin.


Keurig Coffee Machine

I have taken to making my morning coffee with a Keurig machine. One of our kids found it when they moved into an apartment some years ago. They didn't want it because the K-cups you need to feed this machine were expensive - like a dollar a piece. That's cheaper than Starbucks, but more than McDonalds. To my mind McDonalds is the gold standard. Fresh, hot coffee, for a buck. So it sat in our basement, unused and unloved.

I've been drinking Taster's Choice instant coffee for years. It may not be as good as fresh brewed coffee, but it is noticeably better than regular instant, but it's not always available. Sometimes you go to the store and they just don't have any. The last time my wife bought some regular instant and after years of drinking the high-tone stuff, the regular stuff just doesn't cut it.

Then I discovered you can buy K-cups from Amazon for like 50 cents a piece. Given the declining value of the dollar, that's practically free. At Costco last week they had big jars of Taster's Choice for $11. One jar can make 210 cups of coffee, which makes each cup cost a nickel. So the K-cups cost ten times as much, but it is noticeably better.

Comma, Clever Use Of

Fish, for compliments

Left Hand Thread

Intrinsic Bicycle Pedal

IAman bought some new Intrinsic pedals for his electric bicycle. He had some fancy rat-trap pedals but when taking the bike on the train they kept banging into his shins. The new pedals are rubber all around with a sandpaper like surface top and bottom. Probably weigh a couple ounces more than the old ones, but no one's going to notice on this machine.

He tried to replace them himself but broke his Allen wrench, so he drug it over to my house to see if I would have any better luck. First problem is that the pedal on the left side of the bike has a left hand thread. That's okay, you just tighten it to loosen it, right? But then I find that Allen socket is on the end that is stuck through the crank, so now which way do you turn it? Well from the far side of the bike, you want the screw to go away from you, like it's screwing in, so if it was a right hand thread you would turn it clockwise, but it's a left hand thread, so you turn it counter-clock wise. It didn't help that Igor the invincible had tightened these pedals so even with an eighteen inch breaker bar I couldn't budge them in either direction. I had to put my fifty year old cheater pipe over the end of a ratchet wrench to break it loose. You really want to be sure of which direction you should be going when using a big wrench like this.

The motor was loose. It has a ring that goes around the crank bearing so it's not going anywhere, but it should not be moving around. There were four washers between the motor and its mounting bracket. Taking out one allowed the big ring nut to properly clamp down on the bracket.

Saturday, December 23, 2023

Underwater Sand Castle

Sand Patterns made by Pufferfish

The BBC has a story.

Glass Harp

Morning Mood and Anitra's Dance by E.Grieg - Glass Harp LIVE
GlassDuo - Glass Harp

Very pleasant tune and a wonderful performance, but me being me I'm wondering about the glasses. It doesn't look like there is any water in them, which means somebody went to a lot of work to put this collection of glasses together. Looking around I found these guys:

Glass Harp

G2 Glass Instrument Makers explains how this harp is made:

This glass harp is excellent both for learning to play and for concert performance. It consists of 30 stemmed glasses arranged in three rows, and its scale is 2 and a half octaves. The glasses themselves were handblown in a glassworks according to our individual design. We also paid careful attention to achieving the best shape of goblet for musical purposes and an appropriate composition of the glass itself. All the glasses are the same shape, they only differ in size and thickness of the glass.
From thousands of ordered glasses, we first select those which are pleasant to the ear. From this selection, we then choose glasses of particular sound frequencies. The last stage is to match the glasses to the harmony of one particular instrument. All the glass goblets are precisely tuned thanks to careful selection, and in some cases as a result of precision grinding of the glass. The polishing which finishes the tuning is exceptionally time-consuming but, as a result, evidence of the glass production process becomes almost invisible.
We construct each individually designed instrument in our workshop in Poland. They are modelled on the instrument we have been using for many years for concert performances, perfect quality of the biggest glass harp in the world.
There is no need to fill the glasses with water, which dampens the sound, giving rise to a non-uniform vibration and changes in frequency as the water evaporates.

So, yeah, a lot of work goes into making a glass harp. The harp in the video has almost twice as many glasses as the one in the picture.

I came across this video on someone else's blog, but I simply added it to my 'Watch Later' list and neglected to note where I found it.

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Arcane Knowledge

1957 Telefunken Opus 7 Repair & Bluetooth Mod
Mend It Mark

This video is almost an hour long, but he doesn't waste any time, it's all action. The radio is dang near as old as I am. It predates PCBs (printed circuit boards). And where did he find a schematic? Well, it's a German radio, and the Germans are known for being organized so I guess that's not too surprising.

He plays fast and loose with that soldering iron, but being as this thing is going to be sitting on a table in somebody's house and not being vibrated to death in an airplane I suppose it's good enough.

Inserting that Bluetooth module into the radio's circuit was real wizardry.

I do wonder that he didn't replace the speakers. Speakers that old have got to be junk, but maybe the Germans used better material for the speaker cones than the flimsy paper we used in our consumer radios.

I wonder how many people have the knowledge and skills to perform this kind of repair. Not many I suspect. Maybe one in a million? That would still amount to 7,000 people worldwide, and most of them would be concentrated in the northern hemisphere. I was going to say the West, but Russia probably has an outsize grasp of arcane knowledge.

Via Posthip Scott

Old radios have appeared here and here and here.

Old Lady Syndrome

It can be applied to both old men and old women, but 'old lady' has a more specific connotation, at least in my mind.

The way it works is the old woman's husband dies and leaves her a fortune, big or small, it doesn't matter. She gets to thinking that maybe she could do some good with this money, so she starts looking around for a charity or a project to support.

On the other side of town, we have a youngster, fresh out of college, looking to make their mark on the world. They latch onto some social justice cause and start promoting it

Then the two meet. The old woman is impressed by the youngster's energy and determination, and the cause she is supporting matches the old woman's goals, at least partially, so she gives the youngster some money.

Now the youngster has a benefactor and she goes out and tells the world about her cause. She gains adherents and donations, so her media campaign expands and soon she is on the news telling the world about her cause.

Nowhere in this chain of events has anyone taken the time or expending the energy to examine the issues involved to see whether any of these proposals are going to do any good. That's because thinking is hard work and people tend to shy away from hard work. They would rather let their emotions control their actions. 

Emotions are easily manipulated. I have to keep mine pretty much locked down. If I told you how I felt about any of the issues being talked about in the news today, you would rightly dismiss me as a raving lunatic. Yelling 'Kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out' is not really helpful.


Email Subscriptions

I got a notice back in August from telling me that feedburner was not going to continue providing that service, so I might want to try Today I finally got around to changing the widget. You can find it in the side bar.

Online Tools and Old Web Links

I took a bunch of stuff from the sidebar and moved it to an Old Stuff page. I checked all the links and deleted all the dead ones.


I deleted the stat counter. The one that was on here quit working a long time ago. I thought about adding a new one, but then I realized whenever I wanted to know my stats, I went to the Blogger stat page. My current all time count is 3,244,108. 

My first post was on February 20, 2002 which was 7,974 days ago, which averages out to 400 visits a day. I typically get around 200 visits a day, but a couple of weeks ago I wrote a bit about a couple of shows we watched on Netflix. I took the URL of those posts and put them in comments on the YouTube trailer. The next day I got 25,000 hits. No comments though.


My list of labels has gotten ridiculously long. I should do something about that and maybe I will one of these days.




Bergen, Norway

Monday, December 18, 2023

The New, Improved, Expanded BRICS


From a story on RT:

The rapid rise of the BRICS is transforming the global economy, with the group’s share of world GDP in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) set to rise well beyond of that of the Group of Seven (G7) major advanced economies, Bloomberg reported this week.

BRICS currently comprises Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, but the group will be joined in January by Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE.

The G7 club of industrialized and developed countries consists of the US, Canada, the UK, France, Italy, Germany, and Japan.

The thing that caught my eye is number of countries that are slated to join BRICS next month. I then I notice that arch-enemies Iran and Saudi Arabia are both on that list. All I can say is that politics makes for strange bedfellows.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

Fuller's Coffee Shop

Fuller's Coffee Shop

We had breakfast af Fuller's Coffee Shop last weekend. Nothing spectacular, just a small joint with a counter with 28 seats (they're numbered). They serve a good solid breakfast, but this duct work over the kitchen caught my eye:

Duct work over Fuller's kitchen

Look at that thing! It's a work of art.

I didn't post this last week because I thought my one photo came out blurry and wasn't good enough to post. Then I look at it today it looks pretty sharp. Do pictures magically get sharper as they age? I don't know, maybe it wasn't getting rendered fast enough for me. I mean computers do that sometimes, they'll put up a heavily pixelated version of an image and then they'll go back over it once or twice filling in the details. Could have been a hiccup in the cloud, which is where this image is stored, so it gave a blurry preview and I wasn't patient enough to wait for it to finish loading. I mistakenly thought it was just a bad photo.

I don't know what it is with the camera in my smartphone. Sometimes the pictures are perfectly clear and other times they are terribly blurry. For instance, today I took a couple of pictures of the dresser I repaired. I took like four shots of two views, took them one after another, not changing the way I was holding it or how I was 'clicking-the-shutter' and in both cases only one of the four came out. The others were just garbage. I don't get it.


La-Z-Boy Manager's Chair

My wife wanted a new chair for home office since I stole her last one, so went to Costco and picked up this luxo model. $200, but it's a La-Z-Boy

My old office chair

The last office chair I had I bought from Amazon for a like a hunnerd bucks and it lasted a year before it started falling apart. The support piston lost its gas and then the foam in the armrest collapsed, hence the towel and bungee cord. When the remodeling project started this summer, her home office disappeared so I replaced my chair with her old one.

Death of a Chair

We'd been home for a couple of hours and I was sitting in my chair happily sorting old screws when the leg on my old office chair gave out and dumped me on the floor. Can't really complain though, the chair is like 25 years old. I think we got it at Office Depot.  Looks like we need another chair.

DPS Centurion Gaming Chair

So back to Costco we go and we pick up a gaming chair for me. The La-Z-Boy chair has folding armrests which is nice if you need to be close to your desk, but they don't fold all the way back, though I don't know if that is a real issue or if it just looks funny. The DPS Chair doesn't have folding armrests, but when I sit in it, the armrests are low enough that they will go under my work table.


Ikea Dresser Back in Business

One corner of an old Ikea dresser broke during a move. Remodeling project is 99.99% done so there is room to move around in the garage, so I set to work fixing it.

Ikea Dresser Repair

It wasn't too tough, one of the little studs that Ikea likes to use got pulled out of a side panel and a brace across the back got broken. The dresser is made out of particle board, so it's just strong enough to do its job as long as no one asks it to do anything more. You don't want to use it to store engine parts and you don't want it to be in the same room as a rowdy drunk. Anyway, there wasn't any damage to the outside surfaces. I made the repair with a couple of pieces of scrap wood, some drywall screws, some wood glue and one big screw to fasten the back brace to the scrap piece I sistered onto the side panel.

I have been saving screws that show up on my doorstep, but most of them are too short to be useful for anything I want to do. I find drywall screws are very handy for most of my scrap wood projects. I know they aren't the best, but for where I use them they are perfectly adequate.

Gingerbread City

Gingerbread City, Bergen, Norway

There is also one in London, England and another in New York City.


Rubes by Leigh Rubin

Surat Diamond Bourse

Surat Diamond Bourse

World's largest office building opened today. It is located just south of Surat, India, which is 150 miles north of Bombay on the west coast of India.

Asia is kind of like a bigger version of the United States. There is Russia, China and India, corresponding to the West Coast, the East Coast and the South, which includes Texas. There is a big desert separating Russia and China, much like the West Coast is separated from Texas. We have the Rocky Mountains that separate the West Coast from the rest of the country, much like the Himalayas separate India from the rest of Asia.

Combined they also have a much larger population, three billion people which is nine times larger than the USA.

Via RT

Friday, December 15, 2023

The Bard Song

Blind Guardian - The Bard Song Wacken 2011

I don't know what they are singing about, all nine zillion of them seem to know the words. Would have been cool to be there and be singing like that. Wacken is kind of a big deal.

I think I must have picked this up off of someone else's blog, but I didn't make a note of it at the time and now that connection is gone.


Everyday there is a tsunami of news about Ukraine, most of it is drivel - one side or the other claiming some kind of success in combat, big shots calling for peace, or more war. Nothing really substantial, mostly it just goes on, day after day, money flows from the US into Ukraine and more bodies go into the ground. It does seem that we (the US) are getting tired of this disaster, but with Biden in charge, who knows when things will actually change.


Meanwhile, we have this disturbing report from RT. Seem some dude walked into a town council meeting in western Ukraine, that would be the part of the country that isn't overrun with tanks and artillery. He walks into this meeting and drops a couple of grenades that blow up and cause massive injuries. Seems he wasn't happy about council members stuffing their pockets with cash when the rest of the people suffering.

What makes this unusual is that the dude isn't just some terrorist shouting Allah Akbar, he's an MP (Minister of Parliament?) and a member of the same party as Zelenskyy. Of course, given that normal people don't normally try to kill themselves, maybe he's just nuts. But I remember hearing about monks who set themselves on fire during the Vietnam war. I think the rationale then was that the country was so corrupt they just couldn't stand living there anymore.

P. S. I just came across a story where Russia claimed that 400,000 Ukrainians have died in this war. Zelenskyy claims more like 40,000 casualties. That's the fog of war for you - number of deaths? Somewhere between one and a zillion. Ukraine has just over 40 million people, if we take the 400,000 figure, that's one percent of the population, and since most of the war dead are going to be men, which are only half of the population, and they are adults, which means roughly half of that, it means that 4% of the men have been killed. Maybe that's enough for people to start thinking that's enough. Maybe that was the goal of this war in the first place, just smack the shit out of Ukraine.

Blood Coast

Blood Coast - Trailer (Official) | Netflix

While this show is a basic cops-versus-drug-dealers kind of action movie, it's done with some subtlety so it's definitely a cut above the average shoot-em-up. We're with the police narcotics squad in Marseille, France. They are engaged in constant low-level squabbling with the ruling drug dealers, as is normal, but then a couple of new characters come to town and the bodies start hitting the floor. 

One is Franck Murillo, a bank robber. He escaped from prison when he was allowed to attend the funeral of his young son who was killed in a shooting. The funeral is attacked by a squad of armed men who snatch him and spirit him away. At least one policeman is killed here, the father of Alice Vidal, the attractive young police-woman. Off-screen, Franck escapes to Venezuela where he stages his death. 

Alice comes across some guns that were being smuggled and finds Franck's fingerprints on them, so he's not dead. She expects him to turn up in Marseille, his hometown, so she finagles a transfer there. 

Lastly we have Tarak Hamadi, known as The Indian. He is particular violent, he is aiming to replace narcotics with meth and he's using brutal methods to bend the street people to his will. Murillo and the Indian are working together, though they have different goals. Murillo wants revenge on the man who killed his son. We don't know who that is, though we still have one more episode to go.

There are also high level politics at play here. Clueless politicians want to preserve the status quo and they don't like all these dead bodies turning up and they are blaming the police, so they have brought in a super obnoxious Internal Affairs investigator to dig up dirt on the narcotics squad. You get the feeling that the politicians are trying to protect the current drug lord's operation. They don't realize the coppers are the only ones keeping the The Indian from taking over and killing their golden goose.

Marseille has appeared here before, also here. One show we watched prompted me to look up Notre-Dame de la Garde, an old church built on top of a hill near the center of town. It shows up now and again in this show in panoramic scenes of the town, so here's a picture:

Notre-Dame de la Garde

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Song of the Bandits

Song of the Bandits | Official Trailer | Netflix
Netflix K-Content

It looks like a Western, but it's set in Korea, so does that make it an Eastern? The show has a bit of comic-book flavor, but that's okay, we don't really want to look too closely at what's going on here. In reality it's pretty awful, so we'll pull back a bit and let our focus be a bit fuzzy. We're in early 20th century Korea and we've got people wearing Western clothes, riding horses and carrying great big six guns. The landscape looks like the American west - wide open plains with mountains off in the distance. I suppose there could be places like that in Korea, but I haven't found any. Kind of reminds me of Clint Eastwood's old Spaghetti Westerns.

Japan invaded Korea in 1910 and occupied it until the end of WW2. The Joseon Empire that ruled the country collapsed at the end of the 19th century. Now we have Japanese soldiers roaming around the country shooting anyone they choose, and we have gangs of bandits roaming around the country shooting anyone they choose, and we have the resistance army roaming around the country shooting anyone they choose, and then we've got the peasants, who mostly just get shot. Very violent.

The story has more bad situations than any show I have seen since I don't know when. The story revolves around a half dozen Koreans. Two guys, a master and his slave, joined the Japanese army. The story starts with the slave heading north to make amends for previous misdeeds. He feels his just punishment would be his death, and he is fine with that. The man who he has wronged (by killing his family) no longer wants revenge, he is simply trying to preserve the lives of local villagers. The master is fully in thrall with the Japanese, even though he is still second class, his being Korean and all. He is disappointed in his slave, who had become his friend, but now that he has gone north, he is just one more rebel to be destroyed.

Then there is the black market arms dealer. A mature woman, dressing in the latest Western fashions, operating out of a brick, four story hotel in what looks like Topeka, Kansas in 1880. She keeps her inventory well stocked by sending her minions out to scavenge arms from the dead whenever there is a battle.

Another woman is a hitman, killing people for a price. She gets to display her talents in, I think, episode 2 where she goes all John Wick on an entire company of soldiers in a hotel.

Lastly we have a femme fatale, a real Mati Hari, who is in love with the slave, but pretends to be in love with the master to the point of marrying him, in order to get military information that can help the rebels. She has also wormed her way into the railway company's administration, so she is privy to all kinds of top secret info.

Korea Railroad Map
From a screenshot taken just after the eleven minute mark of episode one

The Japanese want to extend their rail line farther north. They want to use it to transport troops north to fight the rebels. To this end they ship 200,000 won (worth about $10 million in today's money) north via an armored car. Rumor gets out about this shipment and the colonel in charge wants to cancel the operation, but his subordinate (the master) wants to let it go ahead because it is sure to attract the bandits and when they attack he will be there to crush them.

Our girl assassin gets wind of this shipment and manages to locate the manager of the bank that will be shipping the money. She pays him a visit and tells him that the bandits are going to rob the armored car and since they will undoubtedly be successful, they should fill the strongbox with dirt and keep the money. The bandits will get blamed and the manager and the assassin will get off scott free. Clever, if all goes according to plan, but something tells me that's not going to happen.

Until I saw this show I had no idea what happened in Korea prior to the Korean war. My history education kind of missed that. As far as I knew, prior to the Korean War, Korea didn't exist. That they have managed to come so far since then is flat-out amazing.

One of the things that bugs me about Korean shows are the times someone laughs at something that is not funny. I don't know whether this is a common screen writer's trick to ensure that the audience knows that this character is an idiot, or whether it reflects actual behaviors. Pretty weird in any case.


Unbelievable | Official Trailer | Netflix

This show is a dramatization of a serial rape case. We start with a rape of a teenager in Washington State. The police can find no evidence of this rape, all they have is the teenager's word. They badger her until she recants. Now we move to Colorado where the police are investigating other rapes with similar circumstances. Eventually the cops in Colorado connect the two crimes, but not until the very end of the series.

Rape, in this show, seems to be more about the psychological trauma inflicted on these women rather than the sex or anything physical. It's the terror of being in someone else's power, someone who might choose to kill or seriously injure them at any time and not being able to do anything about it. The guy is basically a terrorist, your own personal terrorist. Women who are mentally stronger might not be affected as much, but someone who doesn't have a lot of self confidence, someone who has already been dealt a shitty hand by life, you can see how such a mental pummeling could collapse them into a whimpering puddle. For instance, one woman does manage to escape her attacker by jumping off of her balcony at the cost of breaking her leg. She might be mentally tougher than some of the others.

Much of the show involves the machinations of the police and the legal system. The police are not going to do anything until you file a charge, and then once you have filed a charge you are setting the wheels of justice in motion. The wheels of justice are big, heavy, cumbersome, and they have no consideration for the people who are involved. It's all about rules and regulations and procedures, and most of them are obnoxious if not downright odious.

This is because criminal charges are serious business, the government is going to be expending resources on your behalf. There is also the problem of obtaining a conviction - the prosecutor must prove his case beyond a reasonable doubt, and any flaws in the investigation will provide the defense with an opportunity to torpedo your attack. Therefore all your T's must be crossed and your I's dotted. Being a cop has got to be one of the most tedious, mind numbing jobs on the planet. I don't know how they do it. Faith in our criminal justice system, I suppose. Sure, our criminal justice has its faults, but making it better is going to mean spending more money, and we can't spend any more money on our local problems when we are busy fomenting war in half a dozen other countries. All hail Pax Americana.

Enough about the police. Here's a couple of mechanical tidbits for your amusement.

Amazon Basics Steel Home Security Electronic Safe

One of the Colorado detectives (played by Merritt Wever) has a gun safe right inside the door of her home. She comes home from work and the first thing she does is drop her gun and badge in the safe. It's a largish safe, too, not one of those that are only big enough for a single handgun. Seems like an eminently practical solution. This one from Amazon looks nearly identical.

1974 Ford Ranchero

Another one of the Colorado detectives (played by Toni Collette) drives an old Ford Ranchero. Kind of sticks out like a sore thumb, which is why we have it here.


Crossing a stream on muleback

Aconcagua is a tall mountain in Argentina. It is the highest mountain outside of Asia. Tam writes about tough equipment and links to a New York Times story about a 1973 attempt to climb it.

The above picture comes from that story. I am amazed that the mules are able to keep their footing in that torrent of water. I don't think a person would be able to do it. Mules have relatively skinny legs compared to their body mass, and their hooves are probably better adapted to  stepping on jagged rocks and they must have an impressive circulation system to keep those legs from freezing in that freezing water.

Why do horses or dogs ever even obey people? Trust and food, I suppose.

Swan Island Water Slide

Carnival Panorama arriving at the Portland drydock
KetAwesomeness / Ketner Mizée

Older son noticed there was a cruise ship docked at Swan Island. He noticed it because he could see a water slide poking up above the warehouses. Swan Island is an industrial district, full of warehouses, train tracks and shipyards, so a water slide was definitely out of place. 

Carnival Panorama Water Slide

The water slide is perched on top of a cruise ship that has come to Portland for repairs. We were driving around down there Saturday morning and every so often you could catch a glimpse of it, but nowhere could you get a good view of it.

Near as I can make out, this ship operates out of Long Beach, California. They had some engine trouble and decided to send it to the Vigor Shipyard in Portland for repair. Vigor has only drydock on the west coast that is big enough to accommodate this ship. 

Carnival Panorama funnel
Notice scaffolding around the funnel

Before they could come here they first had to stop at Victoria in British Columbia, Canada, to have the top part of the funnel removed so the ship could sail under the bridges on the way up the Columbia River to Portland.

Bridges between Swan Island and the Pacific Ocean

Bridges between Swan Island and the Pacific Ocean

P. S. Most every web site about cruise ships is so loaded with ad-ware that it drug my computer back into the dark ages. Very annoying.

Quote of the Day

A good discussion in Zac's last night and I only had to stuff my scarf in my mouth twice to stop me saying something I would later regret. Probably. Must start wearing a scarf every week. - Liz Hinds

Sunday, December 10, 2023

Machinist Puzzle

Free the Nut! (Not What You Think)
Inheritance Machining

Guy using a lathe and a milling machine to make a captive nut puzzle. Unlike some machining videos, this one moves along at a steady pace, no long shots of turning or milling a part, just short clips that are just long enough for you to get the gist of what he's doing. Plus it's a puzzle for the viewer. He shows you all the pieces, so you might be able to figure out how it works.

Merry Christmas

Wes' Last Minute Gift Ideas for Hopeless Nerds - Ft. Watch Wife Work
Watch Wes Work

Don't know if I need any tools, but I enjoy listening to Wes and I like tools so it's double good. 

I'm pretty much fully recovered from the hip surgery I had this summer though I am still learning how to walk. My hip joint deteriorated slowly over a couple of years, so the part of my mind that controls walking was slowly able to adapt to the problem. But then I had the surgery and now everything is suddenly better, but my mind is still adjusting. One thing I noticed is that I don't seem to be able to walk a straight line, I kind of weave a little. Of course now I'm wondering if I ever did walk in a straight line, and now I'm wondering about people in general. Somebody should investigate.

Anyway, since I am now mobile I can pick some tools and start fixing things around the house. But while my hip was deteriorating, I gave a bunch of tools over to Osmany's care. I talked to him about this and he brought (four) five-gallon buckets full of tools over and dropped them off. It's like 200 pounds of stuff. I have not even begun to sort it out.

Beside tools, Wes also mentions some books, which prompts me to wonder how many books I read this year. It seems to me I only read one book this year, A Deepness in the Sky by Vernor Vinge. Checking over this blog, it appears that I read about half a dozen books. I suspect the Vinge story seems like the only one because it  took me about four months. I finally finished it a couple of weeks ago. I mostly read it when I was waiting for someone, but that was okay because it's a complicated story. Each little bit that I read contained enough ideas and concepts to mull over that it would keep me occupied for a while. I did read maybe half a dozen other books this year. On my daughter's recommendation I have started reading Babel by R. F. Kuang. It looks promising.