Sunday, April 30, 2017

Speaking of Bizarre...

I pitched this idea to my wife and she thought it would sell to computer geeks:
Migrant Software Worker: A Technical Memoir of the Beginning of the PC Era
The primary focus would be my career as a software engineer, which was somewhat unusual.  I was writing telemetry software for the Voyager mission at Jet Propulsion Labs when I was 18, and I worked for several startups in the 1980s and 1990s.

Being a technical memoir also avoids the danger of too much self-revealing.  I am reminded of P.J. O'Rourke's remark that if you accuse a Hollywood celebrity of being a drunken, drug-addicted pervert, his response would be, "Thank you for reading my autobiography."

Of course, to make it interesting requires explaining technologies that are largely hidden from modern developers, such as a problem at one small company where we were installing one of the first of the plug-compatible memory cards for Interdata minicomputers.  With the memory card installed, the operating system would not boot.  I had an assembly language listing of a slightly older version of the operating system.  My only debugging tool was inserting a JSR * (jump relative to self) instruction through the front console into various memory addresses and seeing if I got that far.  I keep inserting this further and further back.  I finally demonstrated that the failure was when the OC (Output Command) instruction started the DMA operation that loaded data from the hard disk into RAM.  After that executed, bit 13 of every word in the first 32 KB (yes, that's KB) was turned off. The next instruction after the OC was now an illegal instruction.  The processor therefore performed an Illegal Instruction interrupt.  The first instruction of the Illegal Instruction interrupt service routine (ISR) was  DI (disable interrupts) but with bit 13 off, it was an illegal instruction, and so the the Illegal Instruction interrupt happens again, and the ISR again throws the exception.

After much analysis with an oscilloscope by our hardware engineer, it turned out the memory card was fine.  Interdata's hard disk controller was not conformant to their own specifications.  It was missing a data line on the data bus; hence the DMA turned off bit 13.

The guy that ran this company also could not figure out how to write an assembly language subroutine to unpack binary to decimal.  He had persuaded the customer to use hexadecimal part numbers; he hired me because he couldn't use this approach for prices.

Bizarre Car I Saw in Fairbanks

I saw a 1964 or 1965 Chevy Malibu station wagon with a unique customization.  (I noticed it because my first car was a 1964 Malibu wagon.) Underneath the body, there was some monstrous 4x4.  It looked about as silly as this Opel GT:
Alas, I did not have time for a picture.

If Hyundai Marketing Doesn't Turn This Into an Ad Campaign

Heads should roll.  4/28/17 Road & Track:
This Hyundai Is the First Car That Crossed Antarctica
A 3700 mile journey from Union Glacier Camp through the South Pole to McMurdo Sound in a Hyundai beefed up by Arctic Trucks.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

LED Fluorescent Replacements

This describes how to retrofit LED bulbs in fluorescent fixtures.  The last time I was up in those fixtures, I don't recall seeing a lot of wires.  Is this four wires into the ballast pretty typical?


After a week in Alaska with essentially no mammalian wildlife, I saw a red fox on my property this morning.

Our Cyberwarfare Bunch Must Be Pretty Good

4/29/17 Yonhap News:
SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Saturday, which apparently exploded seconds after liftoff, South Korea's military said.
"North Korea fired an unidentified missile from a site in the vicinity of Bukchang in Pyeongannam-do (South Pyeongan Province) in the northeastern direction at around 5:30 a.m today," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. "It is estimated to have failed."

Friday, April 28, 2017

Chena Hot Springs

Probably a better choice for aurorae than Fairbanks.  When we arrived we saw this on the runway.  You can't read it here, but yes, the company that keeps Sue on Life Below Zero fueled and fed.

The Economies of Scale and Density

Much like Boise County, Alaska is full of desperate junk piles like this part of the lot where old cars go to die:

Everywhere we went, even in Fairbanks, there were rusting piles of steel, including shipping containers.  Rhonda is really bothered by this, but I explained that recycling steel is a problem when low density means land is cheap enough to waste on piles of completely rusted steel pipe; there isn't likely enough demand in Alaska for steel to build a recycling mill; and the cost of shipping it before or after recycling anywhere in the world is enormous.

As you probably know, just about everything but reindeer is shipped to Alaska by ship, except pot and reindeer (the Denny's serves a reindeer sausage omelette).  The spicy chicken sandwich at the local Carl's Jr. is $1; in Fairbanks, $3.38.  Meals out are expensive as are grocery stores.  Behind the Safeway were semitrailers labelled Matson, which should tell you how most of their stuff arrives.

Welcome to the Land of Tomorrow

University of Alaska, Fairbanks has some....imaginative buildings.  From a distance, the radio telescopes look like golf tees from Land of the Giants.  The first picture shows the golf ball not yet ready.

Baby Reindeer

Someone at the Northernmost Denny's in the World! told us a reindeer had been born that morning at University of Alaska, Fairbanks, so my wife insisted:

Monogamy Has Not Gone Completely Out of Fashion

f/5.6, 1/4000 second, 220 & 300mm ISO 1600:

These were at Creamer's Wildlife Refuge in Fairbanks.


As I really mentioned, I need a much higher ISO than 1600 to get decent images for time lapse.  Of course, this doesn't show the shimmering movement.

Yes that's Sirius through the aurora.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Be Glad Gorsuch is There

4/24/17 Los Angeles Times reports that the Peruta lawsuit challenging California's   discretionary carry permit law may go the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is good news;  the Sacramento idiots screwed up any "open carry of unloaded guns is just barely legal"argument by banning even the useless form while Peruta was working its way through the courts.

Where Are the Wildlife?

The only wild mammals we have seen in this state are a caribou in Denali and stuffed critters in museums.  We have driven hundreds of miles outside of cities and seen less wildlife than we see in a week in Idaho.  Are they all hiding in the national parks?

What I Love About My Wife

I love her wit.  We were driving north on Interstate A-1 from Fairbanks. If an Interstate in Alaska seems counterintuitive,  drive on Interstate H-1 in Hawaii.  At least that is a limited access, divided highway.   I-A-1 is 2 lanes,  unlimited access.

Anyway, the frost heaves are so horrible,  and the local drivers  so insane,  that most frost heaves have skid marks a couple car lengths beyond them from getting airborne,  then skidding on landing.  We were driving the speed limit,  and as much as I kid her about being the Duchess of Hazzard, we never became fully airborne. What speed are the locals driving?  We call them whoop-de-whoops instead of frost heaves, and she embarked on a hilarious monolog in her Elmer Fudd voice about the locals complaining to the road department that their whoop-de-whoops were not getting them enough air.   Then we hit a country station where the DJ was speaking in some sort of Texas/Alabama/Tennessee fusion accent, followed by another country station.  "Are we not in the northernmost State in the Union?  Did you mess up our flight plans? "

Alaska 's state motto: "Wash me."

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Fairbanks: Reno With Snow

A lot of very depressed people  who look like they have substance abuse problems.  Like Reno, gas pumps demand your billing zipcode for credit card payments, I presume because of widespread card theft.  A lot of worndown buildings and people.  If you watch Alaska State Troopers, this should not be a surprise.

Blogging Through a Cell Phone

Clumsy and hard to copy and paste links through.  Next time, I'll bring my laptop or a tablet, although I fear an Android tablet will have the same problem.

Tripod & Bear Spray

I am using a Targus tripod for both aurorae and trumpeter swans, pretty much necessary for the 500 mm lens and the 30 second exposures.  It isn't a great tripod, but it compacts down small enough to fit in  large suitcase so I did not need view to rent one here. 

To avoid becoming bear chow at night when you can neither see them, nor aim accurately, I put the tripod in the back seat, with camera pointing out the open window.

The bear spray was a cheap solution.  Looking at the stuffed grizzly in the Museum of the North, I can see why bear spray is more effective than a firearm.  One of these charging head down at 35 mph would be spectacularly hard to hit, and to hit effectively.


Sunday night was high solar storm, but also cloudy.  Monday night was clear but more subdued.  Mostly gray or silver; very little of the other colors.  Plenty of  shimmering and moving curtains.  Some okay pictures.  One 8 second exposure was okay, but 30 second exposures did much better.  One picture even has some pink!

Time lapse to make videos is clearly impractical.  For every second of exposure, there is a second of dark frame exposure.  To do this properly means either a large aperture lens or multiple cameras in parallel.

The K10D only goes to ISO 1600.  The K30D goes to 51200.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Merrie Dancers

What the Scots used to call the Northern Lights.  Yes, shimmering, dancing, green, pink and moving with astonishing speed.  I have no idea how anyone gets decent video; they are moving so quickly that a 20-second exposure would be awful.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


From the parking lot of our Airbnb in Fairbanks: an aurora.  Not very spectacular, but the green made it clearly not city lights reflecting off a cloud.  Brighter than I was expecting in town.   This isn't a predicted high activity night.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Taxpayer Funded Bird Condos in SF

What happens when birdbrains run a state.

Why I Ignore InfoWars

While mentioning a FEMA exercise for how to respond to a nuclear detonation over New York City (a unlikely, but not impossible event), InfoWars goes on:
The potential for a more explosive false flag to spin out of control, by hijacking and ‘converting’ the simulated actions, is all too real.

This is closely related to the mechanism that many researchers believe was at work on the day of 9/11, nesting a false flag attack inside of a series of large-scale training operations which invoked emergency powers and simulated attacks in locations that were actually hit.
Can someone tell me what that means?  It seems to say that 9/11 was a training exercise that was actually a false flag operation.  This is the sort of "9/11 didn't happen" stuff that the Left insisted on for some time.

One of the comments captures well the lunacy of their followers:
all nuclear tests are fake because the weapons dont and cant exist.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Alaska Tomorrow Evening

for Northern Lights.  My fish eye attachment arrived today.

Tapping Steel

I do not think that I have ever tapped steel before, but I am pleased to report that with oil on the tap, cold rolled isn't much worse than aluminum.  Even with the Tapmatic I wasn't terribly concerned about breaking a tap.  I really need a bottoming tap, which arrived today.

And the bottoming tap was spiral flute.  It did a lovely job tapping a 1/2"  hole (which is 10 revolutions).

What Is Short Fat Smoking?

North Korean state media threatened to launch a "super-mighty pre-emptive strike" that would reduce South Korea and the United states "to ashes." 
The Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper for North Korea's ruling Worker's Party, wrote, "In the case of our super-mighty pre-emptive strike being launched, it will completely and immediately wipe out not only U.S. imperialists' invasion forces in South Korea and its surrounding areas but the U.S. mainland and reduce them to ashes," according to Reuters. The rogue nation also claimed the U.S. and its allies "should not mess with us."

The Gospel As "Fighting Words"

“Plaintiff exclaimed a divisive message directly to a group of ‘many’ individuals while standing on top of a stool, and, in doing so, actually caused a disturbance,” the motion contends, adding that the “Plaintiff used contentious religious language that, when directed to a crowd, has a tendency to incite hostility.”
In support of its reasoning, the school cites two previous cases in which street preachers were found to have engaged in fighting words by referring to people as “sinners.”
As Tom Knighton at PJMedia points out:
The Supreme Court has affirmed the right of even the Westboro Baptist Church to speak freely. Uzuegbunam's speech would have to be pretty repulsive to extend beyond what the troglodytes at Westboro do on a regular basis.
The difference is that Westboro makes Christianity look stupid.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Interesting Films on Netflix

"Die Suche Nach Hitlers Bombe": The Search for Hitler's Atom Bomb collects evidence from French and Russian intelligence files that suggests Hitler was either very close to having a nuclear weapon, or may have actually tested a small, Kim Jong Un sized one in Thuringia.  Interesting interviews with children of people who investigated it at the end of the war.

Hence the pressure to get our bomb ready in early 1945.

Bill O'Reilly Quits Fox News

The settlement of the sexual harassment suits apparently was too much for Fox.  I was not a big fan of his the last few years as he became increasingly self-important.  I wonder if his stupid and disgraceful actions might be a consequence of that.  Fortunately, O'Reilly never made much of a pretense of Christianity.  At most a cultural Catholic.

Such a Commitment to California

The leader of California separatist group Yes California announced in a 1,600-word statement on Monday that he "intends to make Russia" his "new home" and is therefore withdrawing his petition for a "Calexit" referendum.
Louis Marinelli, who has spearheaded the Calexit campaign since 2015, set up a makeshift embassy in Moscow in December in partnership with far-right Russian nationalists who enjoy Kremlin support while promoting secessionist movements in Europe. 
"I have found in Russia a new happiness, a life without the albatross of frustration and resentment towards ones’ homeland, and a future detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life," Marinelli wrote on Monday. "Consequently, if the people of Russia would be so kind as to welcome me here on a permanent basis, I intend to make Russia my new home."
Talk about Russian intervention into U.S. politics; this guy was a Sanders backer.

Sign You Are in Idaho

Bumper sticker: "Black Cattle Matter."

Labrador's Town Hall Meeting This Evening

It's at Meridian High School tonight at 6:30 PM.  Other town halls around the country have had rent-a-mob's showing up to disrupt these events, so it's important that our side show up to show opposition to Soros' goons and so outnumber the hecklers that they can't fill the room.  Remember this is a school, so don't come armed.  If the rent-a-mob were to go full Brown Shirt, it would be an enormous black eye for their side, so I think this is most unlikely.

I would come myself, but my wife volunteered me for algebra tutoring a neighbor kid this evening.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Duterte's War on Drug Dealers

Even before Philippines' President Duterte's pivot to China, I found his support for vigilante murders of drug dealers worrisome.  This 4/18/17 Daily Mail article is very disturbing.
The Philippine police have received cash payments for executing drug suspects, planted evidence at crime scenes and carried out most of the killings they have long blamed on vigilantes, said two senior officers who are critical of President Rodrigo Duterte's 'war on drugs.'
In the most detailed insider accounts yet of the drug war's secret mechanics, the two senior officials challenged the government's explanations of the killings in interviews with Reuters.
Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about a third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate anti-drug operations. Human rights monitors believe many of the remaining two thirds were killed by paid assassins operating with police backing or by police disguised as vigilantes - a charge the police deny.

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I am going to need one or two people to read through my new book, Lock, Stock, and Barrel:
How American Gun Culture & Manufacturing Created the Modern World,  looking for typos, and sentences that need to be taken behind the barn and shot.  My wife is going to be working it over on our vacation in Alaska, so probably early May, I will want to send a PDF.

Thanks, I now have enough.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Aluminum Bolts in Aluminum Threads

Looks like galling is taking place.  (Probably two different alloys.)  If there was some way to use through holes in the aluminum, the threading wouldn't be a problem,  Two bolts can indeed be done with through holes and nuts.  But I need to apply clamping force, and nutserts seem to require a tool for installation.  There must be some simple way to do this.  I considered making the threaded part from steel, but you can'get interior right angle steel channel.  At least no one shows such; only radiused internal corners.

There seems to be some agreement that to do steel into aluminum requires a hole depth 2x diameter (which one of told me).  So perhaps 1/16" bolt?  But it won't take the clamping force,  Or perhaps go to 1/2" wall that I am threading?  Not sure if I can find 2.5" 1/2" wall channel.

3x1x14 ga. steel rectangle tube would work if I could slice off one edge.  Don't see any practical way to do that with tools that I have or can afford for a prototype.

As usual, my wife solved the problem while snuggling with me: make my own arbitrary leg width channels.  2" wide steel plate on top, 3" wide plate on bottom probably thinner than the 1/8" aluminum I have been trying to use.  A 1/2" thick, 1" wide steel plate between the edges of the other two plates; through holes on edge of top and bottom plates; tapped holes in side plate.  Bolt it together.  Bottom plate is now wide enough for the caster to bokt directly on; tap holes in bottom plate for clamping bolts which can now be steel pressing against an aluminum compression plate against the wood to be clamped.  Less holes to drill; fewer matching holes required.  Downside: drilling through holes and tapping steel; a bit more weight, but stiff.

Scenic Idaho

Spent Easter afternoon with my daughter, son-in-law, wife, and grandkids.  The destination was Shoshone Falls, but we stopped at Malad Gorge on the way.

Part of what gives us these gorgeous gorges is the Columbia Plateau basalts producing these hard to erode flat tops:
Shoshone Falls:

 The powerhouse:

Some video:

Not Niagara Falls, but a couple thousand miles closer if you live in the Western U.S.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Criminal Gun Transactions

Federal and California gun control laws being broken by...cops.

Buying and reselling "off roster" guns, only available to police.  I suspect that while the article refers only to federal violations, rhere are violations of state law involved as well because private sales require transfer through an FFL.  A lieutenant is reported to have bought 100 "off roster" guns.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Temporary Neighbors

Shot with my Pentax K10D and a 500mm lens that cost me $50 on Craig's List.
 1/90th of a second, ISO 200.

1/90th second, ISO 100.


Detective story, action adventure film, period piece.  A splendid piece of filmmaking following a Roman officer (played by Ralph Fiennes) tasked with finding Jesus' missing body after the Resurrection.  Really enjoyed it!

Neo-Nazi Furries?

Some stories are so weird that I have to verify they aren't on The Onion.  4.14/17 Daily Beast:

Neo-Nazis Are Tearing the Furry World Apart

A putsch, death threats, sex offenders—just because people dress up like animals doesn’t mean their fights aren’t human.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Took the Snow Tires Off Too Soon

Snow storm this morning.  On the way to the gym, I saw some no longer recognizable 2WD small sedan upside down and crushed at the pass from Avimor to Eagle.  This being Idaho, a dozen people were out of their cars: one guy directing traffic, the rest trying to see what they could do for the trapped occupants while waiting for the rapidly arriving emergency vehicles.

Two states are sitting in a bar, arguing which has more influence.  California says, "Bet you can't make the weather change in five minutes."  Idaho says, "Hold my beer."


Want to know how I spend my time?  Here's a spreadsheet of every American gunsmith or gun maker before 1840.

Harriet Tubman With Rifle Picture

I am looking for a public domain copy for my book, and not having much luck finding one that is clearly in the public domain.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Parting or Cutoff Tool

I am thinking this might be a good choice for making these clamping pads instead of cutting them on the chop saw.  I would guess that they produce a pretty decent finish where they make the cut.  I can also get a pretty precise length of cut.  The chop saw, unavoidably, produces at least .05" variation in length.  The lathe should do much better.

I am busier than a one-handed paper hanger, editing my gunsmithing book, and working on this new product.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Probably Around for Awhile

Annual cardiologist visit; also, he is retiring.  He tells me my EKG is unchanged since 2015, which is good.  I asked about how long before next aortic valve replacement, and he indicated no signs of degradation so something else will probably get me before I need a replacement.  Also, he says the transarterial valve replacement (TAVR) procedure's mortality rate is falling faster than expected.  This is done through the femoral artery, so no cutting you open.  This sounds a lot more tolerable.

Swivel Head Attachment

Swivel heads are what goes on end of the screw in a C-clamp.  I need something like that which screws on to 1/4"-20 bolt once it is through the threaded hole.  Swivel is not required.  I could also make it myself from a small cylinder with a tapped hole.  Suggestions.

Called toggle pads, about $6 each.  May have to make my non-swivelling version.  Probably use a parting tool on the lathe to make 1" cylinders, then drill and tap 1/2" deep 1/4"-20 threads.
Made one pretty quickly.
Some of you reminded me that on a screw, the length should be twice the diameter.  Is this for tension, or compression?  This won't ever be in tension  Good news is that I estimate there is 15 seconds of labor making these if I do it in quantity.  Material cost is near zero, so at $20/hour, about eights apiece. 

Aurora Forecasts

April 23 (two nights after we arrive) has a strong aurora forecast.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Dial Indicator Holder Question

I have a dial indicator holder that looks like this Rube Goldberg cdevice.

Can someone tell me how you attach this to the mill's spindle for checking accuracy of the table?  Does the white plastic piece at the bottom bolt on to the spindle?

Life Below Zero

Amazing show about people living in remote parts of the Alaska bush.  To call them eccentric doesn't even begin to capture it.  One woman lives nine months of the year two hours plane flight east of Point Barrow.  She has heard a grizzly bear chewing on her skull.

One family is a white father and Native.  At the 12 year old's birthday party, it was her first without a firearm as a gift.

This is a BBC production.  I wonder how this AR15 AR10 and handgun soaked show goes over with their audience.

This is Why You Make Prototypes Before Starting Production Line

It only took a few turns under load for steel bolts to strip the threads in 1/8" aluminum.  I guess that C-channel is going to be steel.  I'm not thrilled at the idea of tapping 1/4"-20 holes in steel but the Tapmatic should make it tolerable.  Steel also improves stiffness of the structure.

Hmmm.  Steel channel doesn't seem available except with radiused interiors.  Right angle interiors?  Nope.  Perhaps use aluminum bolts?

Or would using 1/4" or 1/2" thick aluminum solve the problem?

Another Fake Hate Crime

This time, the crime actually happened.  But it wasn't white-on-immigrant as claimed.  4/10/17 WFAE:
Charlotte police say a possible hate crime incident in which a threatening letter was left outside a Nepali-Indian grocery store last week signed "White America" has led to the arrest of a black man.
Police have arrested and charged 32-year-old Curtis Flournoy in connection to last week's incident, during which video surveillance shows an African-American man throwing a rock through a window of the Central Market, and setting its door on fire.
A note found at the scene and signed "White America" tells the owner to go back to where they came from or face torture. Police say Flournoy has been charged with multiple counts, including ethnic intimidation and burning a commercial building.
We know that a lot of "hate crimes" are actually made up by the victims.  I wonder how many of the real ones are done by progressives pretending to be someone other than whom they pretend to be?

Carbon Dioxide Consumption By Plants

New article in Nature about changes in how much carbon dioxide is being taken from the atmosphere by plants.  Essentially it says that the amount being pulled out of the atmosphere has increased substantially in the 20th century.  How this affects the global warming models is uncertain, but a reminder of how uncertain the models for global warming really are.

Now, plant consumption doesn't much affect how consumption fossil fuels change CO2 balance.  However, increased use may reflect increasing CO2 levels in the atmosphere.  How much of this increase in CO2 in the atmosphere will just make us a "greenhouse" not just in heat, but also luxuriant plant growth, pulling more CO2 out.

Another Remarkable Coincidence

Across the Southwest border, the number of immigrants caught crossing illegally into the United States has dropped dramatically. Fewer than 12,200 people were apprehended in March, a 64% decrease from the same time last year, and the lowest monthly number in at least 17 years....

“We don’t really have a normal anymore,” said Castro, who has worked for Customs and Border Protection for nearly 20 years. She insists agents are not doing anything differently; the Trump administration’s executive orders are simply enforcing laws already on the books.
“Are you going to risk a 1,000-mile journey and pay $8,000 to be smuggled if you’re not sure you’ll get to stay?” Castro said, offering a reason she thinks fewer asylum seekers are crossing over. “I wouldn’t.
That "1,000-mile journey" refers to illegals crossing from Central America through Mexico.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Morse Tapers

Morse tapers rely on friction and a close fit to hold them in place.  The one that holds the chuck in the drill press almost stays after thorough acetone treatment abd freezing.  While not recommended, I put a bit of superglue on the Morse taper, and now it holds.  The Tapmatic puts a lot of rotational stress on the tapers; last night it pulled the Morse taper from the Tapmatic that goes into the drill press chuck.  Again, a bit of Superglue solved the problem.  I may never be able to remove these Morse tapers, but it doesn't matter.

The Other Lesson from Destroying That Syrian Air Base

Putin obviously controls Trump, right?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Frankenstein Vehicle

I should have photographed the For Sale sign.  A 62 Rambler with a small block Chevy V8 and S10 rear end.If it had a neck, there would have been bolts.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Old Enough to Remember Marvin the Martian?

Astonishingly Thoughtful Article About American Gun Violence

1/9/17 Guardian.  While a Labour Party paper, they often do great journalism.  This article shows how gun murder in the U.S. is highly concentrated by city, by race, and even more importantly by poor education and poverty (hence the racial concentration.
Half of America's gun homicides in 2015 were clustered in just 127 cities and towns, according to a new geographic analysis by the Guardian, even though they contain less than a quarter of the nation’s population....

Even within those cities, violence is further concentrated in the tiny neighborhood areas that saw two or more gun homicide incidents in a single year.
Four and a half million Americans live in areas of these cities with the highest numbers of gun homicide, which are marked by intense poverty, low levels of education, and racial segregation. Geographically, these neighborhood areas are small: a total of about 1,200 neighborhood census tracts, which, laid side by side, would fit into an area just 42 miles wide by 42 miles long.
The problem they face is devastating. Though these neighborhood areas contain just 1.5% of the country’s population, they saw 26% of America’s total gun homicides.

Obama's Red Line & Syria

Obama made threats if Syria crossed a "red line" and used chemical weapons, but did nothing.  Trump acts.  4/6/17 Daily Mail reports widespread international support for Trump's actions:
Today world leaders praised the US strikes and urged Putin to hold urgent talks with Trump to prevent the Syria crisis escalating into a wider world conflict. 
French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, speaking alongside German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel, said: 'We do not want an escalation. We have to stop the hypocrisy. If Russia is acting in good faith it should stop and negotiate'.
'We do not wish to raise the stakes, but to find a solution. You can not deal with reality (use of chemical weapons) by resorting to propaganda.'
The strikes have won broad international support with officials saying that Canada and other allies were behind the move.
Britain backed the US missile strike, describing it as an 'appropriate response', as the government offered its full support to Trump's targeted assault. 
A No 10 spokeswoman said: 'The UK Government fully supports the US action, which we believe was an appropriate response to the barbaric chemical weapons attack launched by the Syrian regime, and is intended to deter further attacks.'  
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said Syrian president Assad bore 'sole responsibility' for the US strike on a regime airbase.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Early Telescopic Sight

I saw this once before, and fortunately found it again:
Mr. Owen Biddle is desired to procure a Rifle that will carry a half pound Ball, with a Telescope sight…. [Pennsylvania State, Colonial Records of Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Penn.: 1852), 10:332]
Telescopic sight in 1775?  1/2 pound ball is 227 grams.  I'm told this is about a 1 1/4" bullet.  No, it's .66 caliber. V=4/3*pi*r^3 and lead is 11.3 g/cc.  r=0.66, so 1.32 caliber.

Time Lapse Photgraphy

Bought one of these for doing time lapse photography with my Pentax K10D
$19.99 Amazon Proime and it works with many cameras besides the Pentax.  The instruction manual is awful, partly because a user interface done with a Set button and four arrows is horrible.  Someone, somewhere, has probably done a dissertation "proving" this all you need.

A 300mm time lapse (15 second intervals) of ID-55 from my dining room.  The blurry ble thing is some piece of external decor that I didn't notice.  Yes, this is for aurora photography.

This Shouldn't Be this Hard to Find

My wife's new Jeep, like most new cars has no CD player.  It has both a 3.5mm input jack and a USB port.  An ordinary CD player doesn't have the skip memory and likely the Jeep doesn't have drivers for such a CD player.  There must be an automobile CD player with either a 3.5mm or USB output rhat either runs off the USB port or 12VDC plug, but I can't seem to find one. 

The New Religion

3/31/17 City Journal:
But in Regina, Saskatchewan he would feel right at home. That’s the location of the University of Regina, one of Canada’s many institutions of higher learning. Yet Regina is no ordinary academic redoubt. It is about to host what it describes as a “Man Up Against Violence Initiative.” This will include a “Masculinity Confession Booth” as well as other workshops designed to portray the male homo sapiens as predator of women and destroyer of society.
With a surfeit of exclamation points and a dearth of biological or common sense, the university invites undergraduates to participate: “We have all reinforced hypermasculinity one way or another regardless of our gender!!. . . . Come and share your sins so we can begin to discuss how to identify and change our ways!!” The Masculinity Confession Booth will be supplemented by workshops dedicated to “Healthy Relationships and Healthy Masculinity” and a redefinition of the phrase “man up.”
Sins?  Confession Booth?  Inquisition comes next.

I Blame Trump

New applications for U.S. unemployment benefits recorded their biggest drop in nearly two years last week, pointing to a further tightening in the labor market.
Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 25,000 to a seasonally adjusted 234,000 for the week ended April 1, the Labor Department said on Thursday. The drop was the largest since the week ending April 25, 2015.
Tightening job market inevitably leads to higher wages.   I expect to see the lamestream media emphasize how bad this will be for the economy.  News for Democrats: jobs matter more than transgender bathrooms.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Europa Report

Just watched this.  Entertaining, well done sci-fi film involving a doomed expedition to Europa.  Excellent CGI, good acting.  I don't like flashbacks much and this is an example.  Overall, very good science.  One error.  Just landed on Europa; reporting absolute zero as the temperature.  Nope.  Europa is close enough to Sun to be well above that temperature, even if Europa wasn't being heated by tidal friction from Jupiter.  Tidal friction is likely the cause of Europa having a liquid ocean, a big part of the plot.

If Only It Worked

Word has a citations and bibliography tool which is supposed to simplify putting citations in, and automatically create a bibliography in MLA, APA, and Chicago Manual of Style formats.  Unfortunately Insert Citation inserts something that looks like an MLA parenthesized citation--definitely not Chicago.  Yes, I picked the right style type.  How did Microsoft screw this up so thoroughly?

Curiously, Turabian, Chicago, and APA all produce the same citation which is utterly wrong.

Another Reminder Trump Is Smarter Than the Left

Don Surber shows how Trump did a tweet to lure the MSM into calling him paranoid for saying Obama tapped his phones, just in time to have Susan Rice splatter all over herself on this.

What a Creative Application

Ziad Ahmed was filling out his application for Stanford University when he came across a question which he was told to answer in 100 words or less: “What matters to you, and why?”
The possibilities are endless. But to Ahmed, the answer was simple: “#BlackLivesMatter.”
The senior at Princeton Day School in Princeton, New Jersey, believed his answer spoke for itself, and so he decided to write that and only that —#BlackLivesMatter — 100 times.
He could have just repeated #StanfordIsTooStupid and have it mean the same thing.

When You've Lost Rolling Stone...

Rolling Stone  points out the insanity of the media and much of the Democratic Party about the "Russians own Trump" trash:
The aforementioned Mensch, a noted loon who thinks Putin murdered Andrew Breitbart but has somehow been put front and center by The Times and HBO's Real Time, has denounced an extraordinary list of Kremlin plants.
She's tabbed everyone from Jeff Sessions ("a Russian partisan") to Rudy Giuliani and former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom ("agents of influence") to Glenn Greenwald ("Russian shill") to ProPublica and Democracy Now! (also "Russian shills"), to the 15-year-old girl with whom Anthony Weiner sexted (really, she says, a Russian hacker group called "Crackas With Attitudes") to an unnamed number of FBI agents in the New York field office ("moles"). And that's just for starters.
Others are doing the same. Eric Boehlert of Media Matters, upon seeing the strange behavior of Republican Intel Committee chair Devin Nunes, asked "what kind of dossier" the Kremlin has on Nunes.
Dem-friendly pollster Matt McDermott wondered why reporters Michael Tracey and Zaid Jilani aren't on board with the conspiracy stories (they might be "unwitting" agents!) and noted, without irony, that Russian bots mysteriously appear every time he tweets negatively about them. ...
Some 13.2 million people voted for Sanders during the primary season last year. What percentage does any rational person really believe voted that way because of "fake news"?
I would guess the number is infinitesimal at best. The Sanders campaign was driven by a lot of factors, but mainly by long-developing discontent within the Democratic Party and enthusiasm for Sanders himself.
To describe Sanders followers as unwitting dupes who departed the true DNC faith because of evil Russian propaganda is both insulting and ridiculous. It's also a testimony to the remarkable capacity for self-deception within the leadership of the Democratic Party. ...
But when it comes to Trump-Putin collusion, we're still waiting for the confirmation. As Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters put it, the proof is increasingly understood to be the thing we find later, as in, "If we do the investigations, we will find the connections." 
Go read it in full.  When a progressive publication like  Rolling Stone calls this madness, and points out that the establishment just doesn't want to face up to why they lost, it's a bad sign.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Bear Spray

I can't fly it to Alaska, but may just buy some in Fairbanks and leave it there.  Is there a bear spray lending library in Fairbanks?  If not, why not?  The prospect of reliably hitting an 18" x 18"  target moving 35 mph sounds unattractive.  Bear spray is apparently at least as effective as .44 Magnum and less precision is required to use it.

Bring the 9mm for two-legged threats.

There is a bit of research that seems to indicate bear sprays are more reliable defenses than guns.  While many traditional sorts in bear country prefer carrying a gun, it may be tradition more than actual efficacy.  I found a skeptical article about these studies here, but also a comment from a hunter heavily armed, carrying bear spray:
So, after resting for a while, I had a thought occur to me. I had never heard of this approach before so, I got out my Bear Away and with a slight breeze coming in over my shoulders and moving in the direction of Smokey, I fired off a good steady stream in the air. After a few seconds, he began sneezing and snotting and started to bob his head up and down. After a few seconds of this, (maybe 20) he lumbered off back in the direction that he had just come from. 
I can get the bear spray out and sprayed as fast as my S&W 629, and precision matters less.  A criminal attack by a 2 legged predator will doubtless be solved by bear spray as well.  But I'll bring a handgun as well.

Even if Trump isn't Technically Correct About Wiretapping...

It is apparently indirectly true.  4/3/17 Bloomberg News:
White House lawyers last month learned that the former national security adviser Susan Rice requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign, according to U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
The pattern of Rice's requests was discovered in a National Security Council review of the government's policy on "unmasking" the identities of individuals in the U.S. who are not targets of electronic eavesdropping, but whose communications are collected incidentally. Normally those names are redacted from summaries of monitored conversations and appear in reports as something like "U.S. Person One."...
The news about Rice also sheds light on the strange behavior of Nunes in the last two weeks. It emerged last week that he traveled to the White House last month, the night before he made an explosive allegation about Trump transition officials caught up in incidental surveillance. At the time he said he needed to go to the White House because the reports were only on a database for the executive branch. It now appears that he needed to view computer systems within the National Security Council that would include the logs of Rice's requests to unmask U.S. persons. 

Sorry for the Grandfather, But Someone Who Does a Home Invasion With Brass Knuckles is Not Asking for Lemonade

3/30/17 ABC channel 8:
COOKSON, Okla., (KTUL) -- A family member of one of the three teen suspects killed after breaking into a Wagoner County home Monday is speaking out for the first time.
The grandfather of Jacob Redfearn believes shooting and killing the 17-year-old and his friends was not needed....
Schumacher says his grandson didn't have a chance. The 17-year old, he says, never got into trouble.
“Brass knuckles against an AR-15, come on, who was afraid for their life," said Schumacher.

Bringing Classic Cars Back from the Grave

My wife has sometimes wished that someone would start making the 1964 Mustang.  I explained that meeting current emissions and safety standards would make that impossible or at least a rather different car.  (yes, she's a big Mustang fan.)  Jaguar is bringing back the 1960s E-type, apparently by restoring originals.

I wonder about someone bringing back the Chevy Mona 2+2 with a modern Corvette V8 and transmission instead of the tragically castrated small block that was in the Monza.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Grizzly Questions

When charging a human, what is the maximum speed?  What are the dimensions of the head down grizzly?  Going to Fairbanks April 21.  Going to build a grizzly simulator for friends to pull towards me to work on my marksmanshp.  No substitute for the real thing, of course, but having some practice firiing at a target the right height and size coming my way seems prudent.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Wonderful Doctoral Dissertation in Popular Culture Will Be (or Already Has Been) Written

If you've heard the song and didn't understand some of the slang, watch the video.  I fear the first draft of that dissertation will be trying to understand the environmental concerns about bears and ducks.  The final title: "Populist and Libertarian Responses to New Electronic Media."  Former CB owner.

Someone at Netflix Has a Droll Sense of Humor

"Netflix Live has been cancelled.  We miscalculated the number of people who like to binge-watch microwaves.  Dave from analytics is in trouble."

Things to Check When a Monitor Stops Working

I have a 23" ASUS display I bought a year or so ago, which is monitor #3.  It suddenly stopped working.  In preparation for a warranty claim, I turned it around to find the serial number.  The power plug looked loose (I had recently moved it).  Works again.

Many years ago, I worked very a small America branch odf a German electronics company.  A friend was tech support.  About an hour into figuring out why the customer's product had stopped working, ewith no lights visible, he asked, "Is it plugged in?"  A few seconds later, "Thanks.  Works."

Today's Fastener Question

I have some 1/4"-20 bolts that need to stick out 1.5" above the surface and pass through a 1/4" thick surface.  I want to make sure that the bolt does not go any deeper than 1.5".  I put a nut on the bolt, then a washer and lock washer andwhen I reached correct depth, I screwed the nut to the surface.  My guess is that enough turning force will screw the bolt through the nut.  Is there some form of fastener that I do not know about to do this?

Entertaining Films

USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage.   I started  watching it, this thinking it was a documentary.  No, it's a powerful drama about the ship that delivered atomic bombs to Tinian in preparation for ending the War in the Pacific, saving millions of American lives and perhaps tens of millions of Japanese lives.  (Fierce fighting and mass suicide on Okinawa suggest a far greater reaction on the home islands.)  Like all dramas, there's some romance, and some intrasailor conflict.  One of the production companies is Patriot Films, and it shows.  If you are familiar with Indianapolis's story, you know it was torpedoed on the way back from Tinian, with enormous loss of life, much to sharks. A moving story of sacrifice and courage.

Life Below Zero is a BBC/National Geographic reality series designed to make me whine less about this last winter.  These are [crazy] people who live in places that make central Nevada along US 50 seem overpopulated, metropolitan, and easily accessible.  One gal lives by herself running a summer hunting camp two flying hours east of Point Barrow.  She has survived one grizzly gnawing on her head.  Another subject broke his leg in three places and drove himself several hundred miles to the nearest paved road.  These are tough, [crazy] people.  Many never buy meat; they live entirely off the land, usually close to the Arctic Circle, but north of it.  There are more guns per hour in this show than two episodes of Cops (maybe a whole season), or one episode of The A-Team.  I would love to know what Brits and Kiwis (both places this has shown)  think of Americans from watching this show.  I should mention many of these people would only know about TEOTWAWKI because their Internet would go down.  (Yes many have laptops and the Internet.)