Sunday, May 31, 2020

Fun Story in That Sci-Fi Collection That I Am Reading

"An Elephant for Prinkip": practical problems involved with interstellar transport of large mammals

New Technologies Have Learning Curves

Still Wondering How People This Stupid End Up in Charge

Minneapolis is burning and the city says:
Gov. Tim Walz has also activated the Minnesota National Guard to help protect Minnesotans’ safety and maintain peace in the wake of Floyd’s death. Frey has also issued a new declaration of local emergency.
“We need to offer radical love and compassion that we all have in us,” Frey said. “I believe in this city and I know that you do to.”
Jenkins called for peace and calm in our streets. “As we stand here grieving, yet another loss of black life, I am asking my colleagues, the mayor, and anyone else who is concerned about the state of affairs in our community, to declare a state of emergency declaring racism as a public health issue.” 
The City encourages everyone to exercise caution to stay safe while participating in demonstrations, including wearing masks and physical distancing as much as possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The City has made hundreds of masks available to protesters this week. 
Can't have anyone getting sick while committing arson, can we?

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Arson is a Felony

Minneapolis police could have opened fire lawfully, but the police there have clearly lost any willingness to enforce law.

Is There Anything More Stupid Than Blocking A Freeway?

Do you really to risk a driver responding to his windows being broken with full throttle?  Do these protesters really think anyone finds Floyd's death acceptable?

Machining Learning (Not Machine Learning)

A year and half ago, I bought a Telrad finder for the big scope.  This is a 0 power device that projects several red circles in the field of view.  For visible magnitude objects, it simplifies aiming the scope enough to use my 9x60mm finder for more precise aiming or sometimes the eyepiece itself.  The Telrad is pretty large for the electronics it contains, and needs the exterior packaging redesigned, but it is a very nice addition to the scope.  It has a mounting bracket intended to stick to a traditional telescope tube, which is not very useful on a Serrurier half truss tube (as is common on most big reflectors these days).  So I built a mounting bracket that attaches in a very easy spot for attachment, but not so good for use.

The problem with this is that you have to get behind the scope to use it.  Especially when aimed high in the sky, this involves getting nearly flat on the ground to look through it.  How about putting it where the finder is located?

The finder is located as a stalk from a metal tube:

The holder clamps on the metal tube.  The scope maker's original finder assembly was for a different finder.  I machined from acetal a different bracket a couple years ago.  So I figured that I would do the same thing for the Telrad.

I decided to use Baltic birch to better match the scope.  (In retrospect, I may redo it in black acetal to match the finder bracket.)  This required two parts: the clamping assembly to lock on the 1.25" OD metal tube, and the piece that the Telrad base screws on to.

First step, cut the needed two pieces on the chop saw.  Then square the pieces on the mill.  This goes very quickly--it is wood, not aluminum.  But the rough end mill did horrible things to the edges so I switched to a finish end mill.

Then I cut the 1.25" ID hole in the first piece, drilled a .28" hole through the side for the clamping bolt, and used a hacksaw to slice down to the hole so the clamping bolt can squeeze the wood onto the metal tube.

The second piece required a slot the width of the first piece that the first piece can slide into.  (It will be bolted in that slot.)  But my mill only has about three inches of Y travel, and the very nice milling vise that I bought recently takes away an inch or so of travel. 

I have never mounted a workpiece directly on the table, so this was a learning experience.

There still did not seem to be enough Y-axis travel, so I moved the workpiece a bit forward, using a parallel to get a consistent distance from the back of the table.
Then I used a 1/4"-20 bolt from the base holding the Telrad mount to the piece that clamps on the pole.

Nixon's 1968 "Law and Order" Speech

Are you old enough to remember it?  Two summers of race riots helped Nixon win the 1968 election (barely).  I rather doubt these riots and the increasingly bizarre claims the Democrats are making (Russians, white nationalists,  drug cartels) is going to play to Trump's disadvantage.  Time to declare insurrection and send in the Army.

Entering Escrow on the Sunburst House

Not as much as we has initially hoped to get, but within a couple thousand of what we need to pay off the loan on the new house.  I am going to miss the view, but utility bills and gasoline alone make the new house cheaper.   Being closer to our kids, darker sky, and less road noise make it a win.  No more flying coach!

Auto Accidents Reported as COVID-19 Deaths

The CDC currently puts the number of confirmed deaths at about 100,000. But even the “best estimate” 0.26% fatality rate is a significant overestimate because of how the CDC is counting deaths. The actual rate is fairly close to a recent bad year for the seasonal flu. And though public health officials have been transparent about how they are counting coronavirus deaths, the implications for calculating the infection fatality rate are not appreciated.

“The case definition is very simplistic,” Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of Illinois Department of Public Health, explains. “It means, at the time of death, it was a COVID positive diagnosis. That means, that if you were in hospice and had already been given a few weeks to live, and then you also were found to have COVID, that would be counted as a COVID death. It means, technically even if you died of [a] clear alternative cause, but you had COVID at the same time, it’s still listed as a COVID death.”

Medical examiners from Colorado to Michigan use the same definition. In Macomb and Oakland counties in Michigan, where most of the deaths in that state occurred, medical examiners classify any death as a coronavirus death when the postmortem test is positive. Even people who died in suicides and automobile accidents meet that definition.

How bad is it really?  I have no idea.  But news media have an economic interest inn exaggerating, and CDC may have a similar economic interest, not for ad revenue, but justifying its budget.

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Big Losers From These Riots

Usually black people.   Rioters destroy businesses that are often black owned.  A very sad documentary that I watched about the aftermath of the Rodney King riots interviewed a black businessman whose business was destroyed in the 1965 Watts riots (no compensation from insurer) and was wiped out again.  He said he was too old to start again.

Grocery stores and other low profit margin businesses do not want to reopen in risky places, leaving liquor stores as the only food stores at high prices to the detriment of the non-rioters of the community. 

Racial prejudice will certainly increase as images of black rioters create or reinforce stereotypes.  Even the most vigorous SJW teaching will not fix that.

We Have An Offer on the Old House!

Not what we we wanted, but close enough to run the numbers.

The Science Fiction Collection

I bought it on Amazon.  It is a collection of science fiction from many decades, much of it now dated by advancing science (even fungus does not live on the Moon) but often quite enthralling.   Only one story was so uninteresting that I skipped to the next story.  One I just read was titled "Syndrome Johnny" about a series of intentional plagues to improve the human species in a way that is implausible but fascinating.

Of course these stories are awash in assumptions that many social structures of the 1950s would persist into the future: e.g. the role of women as primarily homekeepers to men who di nearly all the interesting things.  Not recommended for your SJW friends.  I rather doubt many of my readers have such friends.  Relatives, yes.

How Chinese Flu Spread?

Sky News reports a monkey overpowered a research assistant and stole COVID19 samples. 

Police Station on Fire in Background Reporter calls it "mostly a protest....  not generally speaking unruly."  

Let me emphasize that the unjustified killing by a police officer that has sparked riots across the U.S. is a shameful crime in desperate need of prosecution.   Why am I not surprised it happened in a progressive-run city?

This is Not a Good Sign

MSNBC guest calls for pitchforks and torches outside a Trump fundraiser. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

COVID-19 Deaths vs. Suicides

Bay Area channel 7 quotes a trauma surgeon who says that he is seeing more lockdown-related suicides than COVID-19 deaths and believes isolation needs to end.

I confess this surprises me, but I am a pretty optimistic person, and my income does require me to go to work except at the far side of the house.  People whose identity is tied to their work, or being cynical, to pub crawling are doubtless having a rough time 


Blogging from my phone because we extended the small backyard the previous owner had, by 64 rolls of sod.  Our daughter, son-in-law, and son came over to do the heavy lifting; the last time my wife and I sodded was 1987.  We were much younger than as you probably were also.  Even with them doing the hard part, we are stil in pain in every muscle we can identify.

 If you are reluctant to have kids, rethink that decision.   Raise them well and they will be a blessing in your old age.  Not the only reason, of course. 

Unfortunately, both of the springer spaniels love to dig.  They seemed to have learned to only dig in the dirt, but yesterday I caught the puppy rolling up the sod.  (Trying to dig makes it roll, which made it easier to put back down.)  I am on the back porch watching them.  The puppy has a shock collar.  The older one has learned that if I hold up the shock controller, it is time to do what she should.  

The puppy is running circuits of the yard and digging in the dirt.  I still need to watch them, so I am out on the porch enjoying a lovely afternoon instead of reading mass murder news stories from 1906.

After Reopening Idaho

Idaho Public Health reports five confirmed cases on 5/16 and 2 probables.  On May 22, no confirmed and 2 probables.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Lone Wolves Not As Smart As Often Assumed

The FBI said Thursday that a shooting at a Texas naval air station earlier in the morning that left the gunman dead is being investigated as “terrorism-related.”

The shooting began around 6:15 a.m. Thursday at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi. The shooter tried to speed through a gate at the base in a vehicle, but security personnel put up a barrier in time to stop the shooting, U.S. officials said.

The man got out of the car and opened fire, wounding a Navy sailor who is a member of the security force at the base. Security personnel killed the shooter during the exchange of gunfire, according to officials.

“We have determined that the incident this morning at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is terrorism-related,” FBI Special Agent Leah Greeves said at an afternoon press conference.

A U.S. official told Fox News that the attacker was “an Arab male.” Federal investigators did not provide information about a possible second person of interest.

The facility was on lockdown for about five hours Thursday morning, but that was lifted shortly before noon.

U.S. officials told Fox News it took around five hours to access the body in the shooter's car because a bomb squad had to be brought in with robots to make sure the suspect was not wearing an explosive vest. Another official said the shooter had "lots of ammo."

Believe Every Woman

A University of Minnesota Law School professor, Francesco Parisi, has won a nearly $1.2 million defamation case against a woman who had falsely accused him of rape.

In his blistering ruling on Tuesday, Hennepin County Judge Daniel Moreno wrote that Parisi’s former lover, Morgan Wright, had pursued an “untruthful narrative crusade,” and her “accusations were false, and made with malice.”

Voter Fraud Guilty Plea

A former Judge of Elections has been convicted for his role in accepting bribes to cast fraudulent ballots and certifying false voting results during the 2014, 2015, and 2016 primary elections in Philadelphia. 

Domenick J. Demuro, 73, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty during a sealed proceeding on March 16, 2020, before U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond to conspiring to deprive persons of civil rights, and using interstate facilities in aid of bribery. The court unsealed the matter today.  Sentencing is scheduled for June 30, 2020.

During his guilty plea hearing, Demuro admitted that while serving as an elected municipal Judge of Elections, he accepted bribes in the form of money and other things of value in exchange for adding ballots to increase the vote totals for certain candidates on the voting machines in his jurisdiction and for certifying tallies of all the ballots, including the fraudulent ballots.  Demuro further admitted that a local political consultant gave him directions and paid him money to add votes for candidates supported by the consultant, including candidates for judicial office whose campaigns actually hired the consultant, and other candidates for various federal, state and local elective offices preferred by that consultant for a variety of reasons.  Demuro also admitted that the votes he added in exchange for payments by the political consultant increased the number of votes fraudulently recorded and tallied for the consultant’s clients and preferred candidates, thereby diluting the ballots cast by actual voters.

Is There A Comprehensive Collection of All Nigerian Prince Letters?

D.C. 20535-0001

Our Ref: CBN /0N8/CONTRACT NO.856.
To. Beneficiary:

This is Agent Charlene B.Thornton and we are here in Nigeria as an
FBI/UNITED NATION delegate that have been delegated to investigate these
fraudsters who are in the business of swindling Foreigners that came for
transaction in Nigeria .

Please be informed that during our investigation,we found out that there 
is a total sum amount of money $12.5 million that has been assigned in your
name as the beneficiary and these fraudsters are busy swindling
you without any hope of receiving your fund.

These are the works of the fraud stars who needed to extort money from 
you in the name of this transfer.We have to inform you that we have made some
arrested in respect of this delayed over due fund. I have a very 
limited time to stay in Nigeria here so I advise you urgently respond to this 
message .

These criminals will be caught unaware and we don't want them to know this
new development to avoid jeopardizing our investigation,you need 
to conceal anything that has to do with this exercise to enable us get all
the necessary information we required.

I shall be expecting your swift response as soon as you receive this email.

Best Regard,
Agent Charlene B.Thornton

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Mass Murder of a Wagon Train in Wyoming

Want to guess the year? 1850? 1870?  No, 1906.  Flabbergasted.

Article in America's First Freedom


The Necessity of Automation

A few days ago, I discussed robotic busboys.  Improving the pay of service workers should be a high priority; we must take away one of the Democratic party's aggrieved victim classes and render the nationalized health care question moot.

There are experiments in robotic food prep underway (burgers for example), but busboys in restaurants are easy to automate, especially in an era where sanitizing tables is so important.  Most waitstaff are replaceable with on-table ordering, and some restaurants, even nice ones, are beginning to experiment with such technologies. Dishwashing is similarly well-suited to robotic replacement. 

Higher pay for the remaining restaurant employees: cooks, the waitstaff still required to answer questions (is this gluten free?) or deal with substitutions should be easier when fifteen employees are replaced by five. 

The restaurant might even be more profitable, even after the capital investment in robots.  Think of the time wasted in restaurants waiting for waitstaff to get around to your table, or for a table to be cleared.  This is time that tables are not available for other customers at peak demand times.  Higher pay for remaining employees makes better benefits, such as health insurance, possible. 

It is important that such solutions work within existing built infrastructure and capital; using existing tables, instead of requiring tables that flip up to empty.  If I had a few million dollars sitting around, I would be starting a company for the easy robots: busboys.

There are doubtless other service industries that can be automated.  Suggestions?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Shelter in Place Is Over Celebration

Best Buy Upgraded My Wife's PC to 8GB

$42 total.  At least as the number of running applications increases, performance has improved.

Truly Harebrained Robbery Weapon

Bellwood, Ill. (1906)

7/13/1906: Someone dynamited a workers’ dormitory, killing three men and injuring several others.  Owners of the mine believe the goal was robbery of the miners; some of the miners carried substantial cash on their persons.  Because some of the dismembered bodies were found in trees, this seems to have been pretty harebrained.

Category: residential

Suicide: no

Cause: robbery

Weapon: explosives[1]

[1] "3 Men Blown To Pieces," [Washington, D.C.] Evening Star, Jul. 13, 1906, 1.

The Effectiveness of Gun Control

Salem, Ore. (1902)

6/9/1902: Three inmates at the prison, using rifle and pistol, killing three guards as they escaped.  An inmate with a life sentence was wounding trying to save their lives.

Category: private

Suicide: no

Cause: resisting arrest

Weapon: rifle, pistol[1]

[1] “Escaping Prisoners Murder Three Guards," Washington [D.C.] Times, Jun. 10, 1902, 1.

Jefferson City, Mo. (1905)

11/24/1905: Four convicts attempted to escape the prison using pistols and a bottle of nitroglycerin.  Two prison employees and one prisoner died in the ensuing gunfight.  The gunfight also wounded two more prisoners and another prison guard.

Category: workplace

Suicide: no

Cause: resisting arrest

Weapon: pistols[1]

[1] "Desperate Jail Break," Adams County [Wash.] News, Nov. 29, 1905, 1.

Angola, La. (1906)

6/20/1906: Three life sentence inmates attempted to escape the Angola state prison.  One inmate had a firearm, and another inmate took one from a guard; guards shot to death the three inmates.  One guard was “perhaps fatally wounded in the exchange.”

Category: workplace

Suicide: no

Cause: resisting arrest

Weapon: firearm[1]

[1] "Guards and Convicts in Desperate Battle," Morning Astorian [Ore.], Jun. 21, 1906, 1.