Saturday, April 30, 2022

I Know We Need the Water...

This nearly continuous rain and accompanying gray skies is a bit of downer.

Friday, April 29, 2022

At Least She Has A Sense of Humor

 4/29/22 Fox News has this tweet from Biden's director of the Ministry of Truth. 

Twitter users erupted after an unearthed TikTok video showed the Biden administration's new Disinformation Governance Board executive director singing a revised version of Mary Poppins’ "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" tailored around "information laundering."

"You can just call me the Mary Poppins of disinformation," Nina Jankowicz tweeted in February 2021, attaching a link to her musical reprisal. 

Go watch it.  It is very funny, but about what I would expect from a Biden appointee. 

Disinformation is anything that your side finds offensive or irritating.  Yes, sometimes stuff gets passed around that is false (especially on antisocial media and often in mainstream media), but the ACLU used to believe the solution to bad speech was more speech.

Most Interesting News Story of the Day

4/18/22 Associated Press:
"A federal judge has ordered the FBI to speed up the release of records about the agency’s search for buried Civil War-era gold in Pennsylvania....
The FBI might not have found any Civil War-era gold at a remote woodland site in Pennsylvania — but it's definitely got records of the agency's 2018 dig, and will soon have to turn them over to a father-son pair of treasure hunters."

There are discrepancies in the records about how many video files exist of the dig.  These treasure hunters apparently did the right thing and told the FBI where they it was.  The FBI's geophysical consultants said there was nine tons of a metal that might be gold buried there.  Not surprisingly, they want probably a finder's fee on what would be $576 million dollars worth of gold.  Why do I wonder if the gold disappeared into wherever Epstein's DVDs went?

Newspapers? What Are Those?

I am reading Cresson H. Kearney's Nuclear War Survival Skills which I found on one of my too many bookshelves.   He makes repeated references to using newspaper as an insulating material.  Newspapers on dead tree pulp still exist (although I have no idea why).  How many years before this book will cause confusion among its readers?

Roots of Wokeness

1/4/22 Human Events has a very long article making a persuasive case that the largely teen and young adults fans of the television show Glee became the woke SJWs because they identified so heavily with the characters and even the actors who played them.

Hat tip Instapundit

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

They Do Not Have Enough Problems?

 4/27/22 Washington Examiner:

A pending ban on menthol cigarettes could add to President Joe Biden's woes as the midterm elections come into view.

On top of a struggling economy, immigration issues, and inflation, the Biden administration could hurt Democratic hopefuls with its ban on menthol cigarettes, according to a new poll of voters in three swing states....

The Food and Drug Administration announced on April 29, 2021, that it was working toward banning menthol cigarettes and all flavored cigars "within the next year." Officials are now finalizing the plan to ban menthols, which were exempted from a ban on flavored cigarettes enacted in 2009.

The FDA says the ban could save hundreds of thousands of lives and will "address health disparities experienced by communities of color, low-income populations, and LGBTQ+ individuals." An estimated 85% of black smokers use menthol cigarettes.

Black leaders have come out both for and against the ban. The NAACP wrote a letter to Biden administration officials outlining its support for the ban, while Al Sharpton's National Action Network issued its own letter making the opposite case.

"This would expose consumers to dangerous contraband cigarettes, increase youth access to cigarettes and promote criminal activity," reads Sharpton's letter. "Further, a menthol ban would exacerbate existing, simmering issues around racial profiling, discrimination, and policing."

Critics point out that Sharpton's group has accepted money from Reynolds American, maker of Newport cigarettes. But his concerns are shared by Richard Marianos, a Georgetown University professor and former Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives officer.

Anyone who still smokes with all the information and general disgusting nature of it likely will not be saved.  Flavoring cigarettes is like flavoring cow droppings to make them tastier. 

The Russians Have the Worst Luck!

 4/27/22 Washington Examiner:

An ammunition depot in Russia near the Ukrainian border reportedly caught fire on Wednesday after explosions were heard in the town.

The weapons warehouse was located in the village of Staraya Nelidovka, in Russia's Belgorod region, about 15 miles from the Ukrainian border. No one was injured in the incident, according to the governor of the region.

I Do Not Believe FSB Is This Stupid

 Trying to sabotage Putin, yes.  They gathered evidence of a Ukrainian assassination plot.  Hitler poster, weapons, and SIM cards.

Oh yes, FSB was apparently told to find some neo-Nazi literature inscribed with an unclear signature.  And what they showed was a book that said in Russian "signature unclear."

Weird English Rule Exception

 A student gave me a sentence that included the phrase, "the Rich did it to the poor."

Clearly “the Rich” is a proper noun, yet I almost never see it written this way.  Any guesses why?

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Can Russia Lose?

4/25/22 MSN:
"Storage tanks at a major oil depot in the Russian city of Bryansk exploded early on Monday. Was Ukraine responsible?

Before you answer, consider first that this is only the latest disaster to afflict Russian critical infrastructure near the Ukrainian border. Another oil depot on Belgorod was targeted by a Ukrainian helicopter strike in early April. Prior to that, Russian railway lines near the border were sabotaged. A Russian missile research center and a chemical plant also recently suffered explosions."

Russian nukes are all that is left of the Soviet Union's actual military capabilities.   I would not be at surprised if that has been as well-maintained as their truck tires.

The Soviet Union was evil but somewhat competent at evil.  Russia is beginning to look like a national version of Putin, evil but stupid. 

USB to HDMI Adapter

The Lenovo USB 3.0 to HDMI adapter arrived.  Contrary to what I had been told by sales, it only goes to 1920x1050.  This is good enough.   If it is slow, my PC does not know it.

Dirty Politics

 I had no opinion about the race for lieutenant governor but an attack mailer from Priscilla Giddings has me planning to vote against her:

Look, I know many Republicans here are closeted Democrats but this seemed implausible.  So I looked in the Journal of the Idaho House for 2021 on Mar. 18, 2001 and found that Bedke voted for SB 1162.  Which did what?  It funded Idaho libraries.  Enrolled as Chapter 133.

If Giddings' claim is that funding Idaho libraries means the raving leftists who run many libraries have funding to introduce trash into our libraries, that is far different from voting "to provide explicit sexual material for kindergarten-aged children."  Giddings has just guaranteed that she will not get my vote.  Giddings in endorsed by Action for Life.  It also appears that she is endorsed by Liars Seeking Office.

UPDATE: I was told that this was a battle over whether to increase finding of libraries.  3/24/22 Idaho Capital Sun reports the House passed HB 666 which "which removed an exemption that protected libraries, schools, colleges and universities from prosecution for distributing material that is 'harmful to minors.'"  The American Library Association in its effort to win the "wokest professional association ever" opposed it.

Some legislators apparently saw not increasing funding to Idaho libraries as a way to express disapproval of the ALA.

Another problem with Giddings.  11/22/21 Task and Purpose:

The Air Force promoted a major in the Air Force Reserves who posted the personal information of an alleged sexual assault survivor to social media and to her official newsletter, then denied posting that information before an ethics committee, and was recently censured by the Idaho House of Representatives.

A member of the Idaho House of Representatives, Lt. Col. Priscilla Giddings was still a major this spring when she shared an article from a far-right news outlet listing the name and photo of a 19-year-old legislative intern who had accused former Idaho representative Aaron von Ehlinger of raping her, according to the Idaho Statesman.

 During an ethics hearing in April, Giddings initially denied sharing the photo and information, then later said she had not “thoroughly examined” what she had posted. The intern’s photo was in the thumbnail of the article and her name was repeated several times throughout the article, according to Idaho news station KTVB-7

4/29/22 Associated Press:

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A former Idaho lawmaker was convicted Friday of raping a 19-year-old legislative intern after a dramatic trial in which the young woman fled the witness stand during testimony, saying “I can’t do this.”

The intern told a Statehouse supervisor that Aaron von Ehlinger raped her at his apartment after the two had dinner at a Boise restaurant in March 2021. Von Ehlinger said the sex was consensual.

At the time, the Lewiston Republican was serving as a state representative, but he later resigned.

Von Ehlinger, 39, was found guilty Friday of rape. He was found not guilty of sexual penetration with a foreign object.

Von Ehlinger sat calmly as the verdict was read, as he has throughout the trial.

Afterward, 4th District Judge Michael Reardon told the jury: “This has been an unusual case attended by many unexpected circumstances, but I appreciate your attention ... and hard work.”

A felony rape conviction carries a minimum sentence of one year in prison in Idaho. The maximum penalty can be as high as life in prison, at the judge’s discretion. Sentencing has been scheduled for July 28.

As von Ehlinger was remanded into custody and handcuffed, he talked quietly with his attorney who removed items from von Ehlinger’s pockets.

The prosecution remained stoic as they left the courtroom, but once they reached a lower floor they stopped to briefly to congratulate each other on the verdict.

Von Ehlinger’s attorney, Jon Cox, could not be immediately reached for comment after the trial.

The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted, and has referred to the woman in this case as “Jane Doe” at her request.

Nuclear Threat: Real or Just Trying to Avoid Defeat?

 4/26/22 Washington Examiner:

Russia's foreign minister warned on Monday that the risk of nuclear war is "considerable" and should not be underestimated while accusing NATO of engaging in a proxy war against Russia by arming Ukraine.

In an interview with state television, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that Russia has been striving to avoid a nuclear conflict since its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, but he said communication with the United States has "practically ceased" and that the Ukrainian side is not negotiating for peace in good faith.

It is hard to negotiate for peace when Russia is burying civilians in mass graves.  The good news:

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is reportedly receiving several briefings per week about the possibility of Russia using its nuclear arsenal, but Pentagon officials are skeptical that Russia will follow through with its threats to use nuclear weapons.

"We took note of what Mr. Putin said in the early days of this invasion,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said. “I think it's also important to add that there hasn't been more of that rhetoric following that initial salvo in the early days.” 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted on Monday that Lavrov’s talk of nuclear war is a "last hope to scare the world off supporting Ukraine.”

"Thus the talk of a ‘real’ danger of WWIII. This only means Moscow senses defeat in Ukraine," Kuleba tweeted. 

That sounds like the truth,  Putin (and his military) are s not going to risk the reduction of Russia to radioactive hunter-gatherers to protect Putin's ego from the consequences of the biggest strategic error in decades.

Monday, April 25, 2022

Today's Remarkable Admission From a Spammer

I was about to reply with scorn and then I noticed the reply-to address:
khalid Ayad <>

Why I Assign Term Papers

Mostly., I am trying to teach them to write clearly and logically in the hope that it will affect their thinking when not writing.   But I often learn stuff that I did not know.

One very well-written paper (not a native speaker which is often an advantage) about the Lower Middle Ages (often inaccurately called the Dark Ages) traced the development of the horseshoe. The Romans had an iron and leather device called a hipposandal (from hippo, Greek for horse) that protected the hooves.  But now I cannot get out of my mind a hippopotamus wearing sandals, love beads, and tie-dyes!

Backup Power Again

Yes I have backup power on my PC and wifi router.  But this time the outage is big enough that even Rise Broadband's tower is down.

This is also why I do not rely on cloud storage.   I am grading research papers without interruption.

Even worse the BC350 (350 watts) should only power two monitors for about ten minutes.   Two hours without power and one of them is still power the wifi router.  For any serious backup these will not do.

Idaho Power is now promising service restored by 5:30 (so four hours without power).  I was disappointed by these guys in the mountains but at least there I had a backup generator.

I Had to Make Sure This Was Not the Babylon Bee

4/22/22 KIRO:
"Legislators recently passed a law that changes every Revised Code of Washington with the word “marijuana.” The change gets rid of the term, swapping it out for the word “cannabis.”

Supporters say the word “marijuana” has a long history of racism."

Those Jets the Ukrainians Received

Well apparently not assembled.   They were badly needed spare parts to keep their existing jets operational.  In a sense, this is the same thing.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Telescope Mount Heaven

This smarter than me Losmandy G811G mount has at times befuddled me good and proper but tonight is looking better than last time.  I told it to go to Sirius which I could not yet see naked eye.  After a few minutes it was still naked eye invisible but I could see it in the eyepiece.  I centered it and pressed align.  Now I am aimed at where it thinks Betelguese will appear.

And it appeared.  I centered and hit align.  Next GOTO M42 which is part of Orion's sword.  It was not dark enough yet to see the wispy cloud that is the nebula but there were three objects centered: one of which is M42's bright stars and the other two stars of the sword.

This is working exactly as advertised.   A bargain of American engineering and manufacturing. 

And the battery pack I built from almost entirely American and Taiwanese parts went from 13.3 to 13.2 volts after perhaps 90 minutes of use which is pretty good for all the moving and computation. 

UPDATE: One interesting consequence.  I have made reference to efforts to write a program for the mill intended to excavate an inverted cylinder for a part to mount on the telescope tube.  The reason was to mount both a 0x finder and a more conventional 9x60mm finder.  The 0x finder is fast and easy to locate bright objects but it has no light gathering capacity, so once you get in the neighborhood, you use the 9x60mm finder to find the faint object that is below naked eye visibility.  But the Losmandy mount's goto makes the 9x60mm finder not necessary.  

The 0x finder lets you find bright stars for telling the mount the coordinate system.   The goto makes the 9x60mm finder irrelevant.  I no longer need the mounting bracket.  Upgrading the other Losmandy mount (which is a relative bargain at $1600 is attractive.)

Fighting a 20th Century War in the 21st Century

4/23/22 National Post:
"Ukrainian millionaire Andrey Stavnitser asked Kyiv forces to bomb his home after seeing the Russian military using it as a base of operation on his webcam."

When you pick a luxury home for command headquarters, make sure you find all the webcams.

Science As a Discriminatory Field

4/23/22 The College Fix reports on a position at the University of Waterloo advertised as "A job vacancy at Canada’s University of Waterloo is advertised as only open to 'qualified individuals who self-identify as women, transgender, non-binary, or two-spirit.'"

And here is the actual job listing so you can see that this is not an out of context quote.

What does it tell you about the university that they feel the need to explicitly exclude 95% of otherwise qualified applicants?  Look, I know this doubtless reflects the values of the very woke faculty there, but do you really need to be explicit about it? Are they afraid qualified straight applicants might make them realize that the preferred victim is less qualified?  But hey, it is science so feelingz matter most.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Putin May Be in Big Trouble

4/22/22 Moscow Times reports that Russian media are telling of arson attacks on draft offices.  I have followed several of the links and used the translate feature; it has been a long time since Russian class and I was not exactly proficient even then.

4/22/22 Newsweek reports "mysterious fires" at both a research institute responsible for missile development and a chemical solvents plant.  A friend with contacts in Russia says that in conformity with Soviet practice, the solvents plant is big and apparently the only source in Russia.

Are they just have bad luck?  Ukrainian Special Forces might be better than seems possible or perhaps Putin's opponents are sabotaging the war effort.

Regular Backups Even on Virtual Machines

I spent a big chunk of the morning writing some C to produce a rather specialized shape.  (It was of course done.)  Along the way, I created all the emacs bindings and additions to .bashrc that I prefer and somehow VMWare Workstations 16.2 lost all of that.  Weirdly, installing linuxCNC no longer asks to me create a user.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Tiny Precision Saw

As should be obvious when you are making some on a CNC mill, you really do not want to cut a 2.5" piece of acetal to 1.75" by milling.  It is slow.  My chop saw does a pretty good job of cutting items that are at least 2" or more long.  Clamping stuff to the fence is difficult and holding stuff in place by hand only makes sense if you want the nickname Stubby.  

I started looking for precision cutting tools that have a small footprint and MicroMark looks like it might be the right place to start looking.   This little chop saw might be a little too small but I suspect that if I keep searching I will find one a bit bigger. 

Remember: the Obsession With Racism is a White Privilege Person's Thing

 4/20/22 Newsweek:

Of course, it would be foolish to deny that racism still exists, or that people are sometimes treated unfairly due to their race; racism is unfortunately part of the human condition. But the rhetoric coming out of the elite sectors of the liberal establishment about the inescapability of racism for Black Americans is in reality an elitist projection. It's not how the vast majority of Black Americans experience our lives.

This is something people living in the Black community know. But for all the liberals seeking to project their ideology about the inescapable nature of systemic racism onto us, a new study out of the Pew Research Center has some data to disabuse them.

Among the studies interesting findings was one about priorities. Pew posed Black American respondents with an open-ended question: What is the most important issue is that your community is facing? And when it came to their answers, racism didn't crack the top five.

Chief among Black Americans' concerns were violence and crime, the economy, and housing. More Black Americans said they had no issues than listed racism as their top issue. And when asked who they believe should address these issues, respondents overwhelmingly said that these are matters that local leaders within their communities should address....

This study helps highlight what people like myself have been complaining about for years, namely, that the actual concerns of Black Americans are ignored and even erased because progressives have fallen in love with the Black victim narrative. And because progressives are in love with that narrative, there is a perverse need to sustain the fiction of the prevalence of racism.

Systemic racism is a way for con-men to raise money to buy houses and get big checks to tell privileged white people how bad their race is. 

How (Or Who) Did This Happen?

 4/21/22 Reuters:

April 21 (Reuters) - Six people were killed on Thursday after a blaze broke out at a defence research institute in the Russian city of Tver about 160 km (100 miles) northwest of Moscow, Russian news agencies quoted local authorities as saying.

The authorities said 27 people had been injured. TASS news agency reported, citing emergency services, that at least 10 people were missing.

Footage from the scene circulating on Russian social media showed thick smoke and flames billowing from the institute's windows. There was no official word on what caused the fire.

The institute is engaged in aerospace research, including on a unified air defence system for the CIS bloc of former Soviet republics, according to the Russian defence ministry's website.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Thanks for Help on Bash/BC

Hard to imagine but much of my time at HP was spent maintaining a 6000 line csh script.  Eventually I refactoring it into three sorta maintainable almost comprehensible scripts.  It was an elaborate system for doing smoke test of firmware before loading it into a printer.  Like it sounds, I am sure it made sense at 200 lines but someone just could not stop before the csh dragon carried them away.

Power! I Want Power!

Today my external monitor went black and then lots of stuff stopped working.   When I lived up on the hill, Idaho Power service was so unreliable that I felt like a prophet having put in a backup generator.   But still better than the Third World nation north of San Francisco where we frequently had no power.  One weekend for 16 hours.  As a friend put it, "I want to move somewhere with infrastructure."

Yesterday is I think only the second time in two years with an unscheduled outage.  My laptop continued running of course but the wireless router was off so no visits to the Library of Congress website. 

Today I received a shipment of two 350W UPSs.  One for the laptop, two external monitors, and the sea of USB devices operating off a USB hub: headphones, backup hard drives, wireless mouse, keyboard, and I cannot immediately remember what else.  From asking Philips and Samsung support I concluded that the two monitors gobble about 70 watts and the laptop has a 65W power brick. This should hold me through at least short outages.

The other one now feeds the router.  I have no idea of its wattage but I suspect 350W should last a long time. 

An Optics Company About Which I Know Nothing

 But they make all their products in an allied nation: the Czech Republic: Meopta.

Nice to See

I generally assume anything sold on Amazon is Chinese unless I see otherwise.   I was looking for a long endmill and along with Kodiak and Star brands made in the USA, I was pleased to see Speed Tiger made in Taiwan. 



y=`echo 'y +0.5'|bc -l`

should set y to 1.5.  Right?  $y is not recognized by bc.  y seems to stay 0

Their Inner Fascist is Revealed

 Rhode Island SB 2552 requires immunization:

(e) Any person who violates this chapter shall be required to pay a monthly civil penalty of fifty dollars ($50.00) and shall owe twice the amount of personal income taxes as would otherwise be assessed pursuant to chapter 30 of title 44. All employers must require proof of compliance with this chapter for any employee employed in in-person work within the State of Rhode Island. Employers may choose to waive proof of compliance with this chapter for purely remote work. Any employer found to be knowingly in violation of this section for more than seven (7) days shall be required to pay a monthly civil penalty of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for every 28 violation.[emphasis added]

If this was 2020 or 2021, this extraordinary measure might have some plausible public health rationale.  But in April 2022?  This last week 70% of all ICU beds were occupied; 3.61% were COVID-19.  Inpatient beds were 73% occupied; 3% were COVID-19.  There are still a lot of sick people out there, but this continuing panic and this response are completely irrational.  Rhode Island's numbers are similarly tiny.

I guess gun owners should consider themselves lucky that the fascists have grabbed onto some other crisis for demonstrating moral superiority over the deplorables.  This is just punishment for failure to run around, scream and shout.

Demilitarized Russian Helicopter

 Supposed to be impossible to shoot down.

Invaders meet upset Ukrainians; results for invaders are suboptimal.  Even if the Russians win, they will be binding up wounds to their soldiers and arsenal for years.

Long Term Healthcare

This is one of those areas that turns out to be more complex than it should be.

This website is a gov domain and therefore less likely to be promoting a particular insurer.

Many people never need longterm nursing care.  They go in for surgery or a stroke and do not survive long enough to get to that situation.   My father is a good example.  

If you have family who can provide assistance with normal daily activities (Activities of Daily Life, to use their phrasing), this may not be needed.  A house with a granny flat may be enough.

The costs can approach $100K a year.  If I had limited assets that would be very scary.  But I can afford to spend that for years if need be.

I am not convinced that this makes sense for me.  I may just go out with little time convalescent or like my mother, remain independent until she died at 99 while playing card games with my sisters in a hospital bed.  One moment she was playing; the next flatlining.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

I Would Recommend Against Ordering Online From Home Depot Until They Finish Their Disastrous Order System Upgrade

Sunday morning I ordered a gift card for my son's birthday from HomeDepot.  I charged it to my Discover card.  Later in the day, I was unable to find the order.  Did I forget to hit a Submit button?  So I ordered it again, charging to my PayPal account.  My son received no email notification and curiously I received no email confirmation.

This evening I verified that my PayPal account had been charged.  Did I put the wrong email address for the recipient.   I have done that before.

So I looked in my HomeDepot account.  No orders in a couple of years.  I contacted HomeDepot customer service.  She said it might take 3-7 minutes to look up my order.  I asked why this took so long.  (I have written nasty PL-1/IMS code for a tuxedo management system when I was young.  (Do not laugh.)

She then explained that she was having to go through back doors because they are in the process of updating their order processing software.  Eventually she informed that neither of the gift cards appeared anywhere in their system and to have PayPal and Discover reject the charges.

This site is pretending to be an impartial source of fact checking.  The whois for shows interesting date of registration and mailing address.

Interested in domain names? Click here to stay up to date with domain name news and promotions at is already registered. Interested in buying it? Make an Offer


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There are a lot of people looking for reasons to believe that Ukraine is some sort of global conspiracy to cause mass starvation, police state, pollution of our bodily fluids, etc.  If they take this obvious Russian propaganda site seriously they are looking for an excuse to trust Putin.

Notice they only registered it for a year.  Also they did not register until several days after the invasion.   They clearly did not expect it to take very long to win.

I Wish My Eyes Were Three Feet in Diameter

 Because then my irises (iriii?) would be 12" light gatherers.  (Getting dates might have been difficult, except in Area 51.)  All of this lead-up to these 2x54 ultrawide angle binoculars.  If you know much about optics, you know that light gathering increases with the square of the increase in diameter.  A young person under a very dark sky has irises that dilate to about 7mm.  These binoculars will increase the gathered light about 8x, so you will see stars down to about magnitude 8.5.  Old eyes like mine will get at least a 2 1/2 magnitude gain.  I am going to buy these once I have paid off the new tires the Jaguar needs.  (Tax time was not as bad as usual, but still four figures.)  There is also no hurry.  It will be a couple months before we get clear skies.

There are also 2x40 and 2.1x42 versions.  The SVBONY 2.1X42 version is threaded to use various filters (such as the kind that filter out mercury street light frequencies).

Thanks for the corrections.  The smaller and cheap versions might give most of the brightness advantage.

Vixen SG 2.1x42mm are similar but made in Japan. 

Remember Internet Newsgroups?

 Is there an archive of them, at least in part?  I need an example to share.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Even a Cloudy Day Can Be Beautiful Here

This Could Be a Game Changer


There has been discussion of providing obsolete German Leopard 1 tanks to Ukraine.  While inferior to every Russian tank in use; the video points out they can engage and destroy Russian positions far more effectively than the various APCs that the Ukrainian Army now uses.  In urban settings, its deficiencies in armor and range of its main gun might not be so bad, especially because the Ukrainians have demonstrated great skill against demoralized Russians operating poorly maintained and supplied collection of armor and trucks.

When You Think of the Ukrainian Victims

Think also of the Russian victims of Putin's ego trip to hell. A friend of my son was a tanker in Afghanistan.   He suffered at least two TBIs from IEDs, and lost much of a hip supposedly from sitting on depleted uranium shells.  (I am a little unclear how.  Depleted uranium is barely radioactive, with a 4.5 billion year half life.)  Stem cells successfully rebuilt the hip.  A recruiter promised and delivered $40,000 signing bonuses to him and many others, which the Army later decided were improperly offered and paid.  For several years, he was refused VA treatment for his service-related health problems unless he repaid the $40,000 signing bonus. (I believe this Charley Foxtrot has since been fixed.)

A Russian tanker has several possible actions:

1. Surrender and risk court-martial and execution.

2. Surrender and never go home to family and loved ones. I doubt they would be allowed to leave.

3. Wait for an antitank weapon to squirt molten copper on him followed by the shells exploding, sending his body in pieces out with the turret.

4. Do his best to avoid combat and face trial for insubordination or cowardice.

5. Hope that sleeping outside the tank does not cause frostbite or death.

These are all horrible choices.  Putin has created absurd suffering, not just for Ukrainians, but also for Russians, having to fight what is likely an unwinnable war.

An Unexpected Side Effect of COVID-19

 4/19/22 Inside Higher Education:

At the start of the spring semester, the State University of New York at Geneseo purchased 17 ultraviolet lamps to stop the spread of COVID-19. But the lamps damaged the eyes of eight professors and an unknown number of students, WXXI News reported.

Kathy Mapes, associate professor of history at SUNY Geneseo, said she thought the lamp was a space heater. She woke up at 1 a.m. with burning eyes the first night after she was in a classroom with the lamp.

Mapes said she was diagnosed with UV keratitis. The condition is caused by unprotected exposure to ultraviolet rays. She was told that the tissue covering her cornea was damaged.

Monday, April 18, 2022

When Symmetry Is Not Your Friend

When replacing the Z axis motor on the mill, two weird things seemed to break.

1. Z+ used to move the carriage up and Z- used to move the carriage down; now the opposite. 
2. The 8-32x3/8" SHCSs that used to lock the motor to the coupler mount no longer held the motor firmly in place.  It would rotate a few degrees.   Not enough to interfere with operation but still disconcerting. 

It turns out that the motor is almost symmetrical.   I had installed it upside down.  - and + were reversed.  The flanges on the motor that the SHCSs held down were not there so the screws were holding nothing down.  The shaft for the lead screw coupler and the handwheel are identical.  The setscrew in the coupler locks onto the flat where the handwheel is supposed to lock.

This Means War!

One of the daily Ukraine War update channels showed some Russian news footage with the defense minister indignantly asserting that a Ukrainian Special Forces attack inside Russia and sinking of the Moskva is a cause for war.  

Weirdly enough, he clearly does not think Ukraine has a similar moral claim.  I wonder how stupid he thinks Russians are not able to not see the moral equivalence for Ukraine. 

That he pointed to the Moskva as a reason shows that they know damn well that Ukraine sank it.  Yes, I am sure they had a fire in the ammunition.   That happens when you blow a hole in the side with explosives.  

This escalation to war from "special military operation" is apparently needed to justify conscription.  They would have to be idiots to attack an Article V member.  They cannot even beat Ukraine.   NATO would clean their clock so thoroughly that Putin might well issue an order that would be countermanded at pistol point.  At least I hope so.

Have You Ever Wondered What A "Naked T-Bill Straddle" Is?

This is one of expressions often used to make fun of complex financial instruments.   Since I recently had to complete a tax form involving straddles, for no reason that I could understand (that is why I use TurboTax to complete my 116 page tax return), my curiosity about this very suggestive term caused me to go look it up.

And no, it is not the X-rated version of Slim Pickens' ride  in Dr. Strangelove.  (I am sorry that you will never be able to unthink that image.)

If the asset price is pretty much unchanged at expiration date, you make a modest amount of money.  Big changes will lose you an immodest amount of money.

What are call and put options?  Options are derivatives: in the words of Warren Buffett "derivatives [are] weapons of mass destruction."  Anyone who remembers the 2008 crisis should remember that Collateralized Mortgage Obligations (CMOs) were the immediate cause of this global disaster.   (The idiot whose theories underlaid CMOs eventually went to work for the Bank of China, where it looks like his wondrous skills with understanding real estate markets have once again caused a fortunately localized disaster.)

Anyway, an option is a contract that allows you to either buy or sell an asset before a particular date at a particular price.  You pay a premium for this contract.  

A call option guarantees you the right to buy an asset at the strike price on or before the expiration date.

A put option guarantees you have the right to sell an asset at the strike price on or before the expiration date.

If you buy either type of option, the worst you can lose is the premium you paid for that option.  The best is that you guess correctly about the future value of that asset.  You bought a call option with a strike price 20% above the current price.  Before expiration date, you exercise that option to buy the asset at the strike price, sell the asset, and make 20% (which hopefully is more than the premium you paid for the option).

A put option is the reverse.  You are betting the asset price will be lower than the strike price.  If so, the person who sold you the put option must purchase the asset and sell it to you at the strike price.  If the asset is now worth 20% below the strike price, the firm that sold you the put option contract must deliver that asset at the strike price and likely lose piles of money.  This is called shorting the asset.

You may have heard about the GameSpot shorts squeeze.  The hedge fund that sold put options on GameSpot stock had the problem that they sold put options requiring purchase and delivery of more GameSpot stock than was up for sale. (After all, GameSpot was a clearly declining company so the stock price just had to fall.)  So buying existing GameSpot stock required paying an exorbitant price for the stock to get enough to meet those put options.  

Certain troublemakers bought GameSpot stock in time to drive the price way up because they recognized that the seller of the put options would never be able to buy enough stock at the current price to fulfill those contracts. Wealthy hedge fund (with strong Democrat connections) played with fire, got burned by a bunch of small investors, and went crying to Congress for protection from the smart little guys.

Anyway, if all of this sounds incredibly complex and risky you are correct.  The same aphorism that applies to commodities trading (another form of options) applies here as well: "How to make a small fortune in commodities: start with a large fortune."  Options trading is best left to rich people with excellent forecasting skills.  What they lose in a shorts squeeze on one contract, they hopefully make up on another contract.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Amazing What the Internet Has

 Student Guide: Shelter andEvacuation Strategies prepared for FEMA.

A one story wood structure has a PF of 2-3.  In the basement PF 10.  A 5 story building has a PF of 100 in the basement and 200 in the level below.  St. Al's Hospital in Nampa is 5 stories.  I suspect few people in event of nuclear war will even think of trying to get a way into the basement of a hospital.  Offer to make yourself useful and I suspect the kind-hearted sorts will be reluctant to say no.  Here is a list of Nampa's tallest buildings.

From that guide:

Tin Can Shielding

This indicates that 10 inches of steel and 4 inches of lead are effectively identical in gamma ray reduction.  2 inches is the usual standard for fallout shelters.  How many inches of steel are there in a case of food cans?  I cannot seem to find the thickness of cans and I am in bed so going to the garage to get a micrometer waking up the dogs to go measure cans in the kitchen is silly.  I doubt they more than  .050" thick.  A gamma ray going straight through six cans will therefore cross at least .6" of steel plus the food contents which can ignore for this exercise.  That would be a 1.5% reduction in radiation.  So 26 cases stacked high enough to shield you from the outside ground would likely be sufficient protection from the external radiation and on the tables above you 13 cases single stacked of canned food. 

Just make sure it is something you can eat over the next five years once we can stop worrying about thus.  While most canned foods have "best by" dates, I understand this is primarily texture, color, and vitamin degradation, not spoilage.

Someone asked if irradiated canned food is safe.  Civil Defense says it is.  An exploration of why follows.  Most of this I remember from junior high, but I looked it up to be sure.

Alpha particles will not penetrate the steel (or your skin, for that matter).

Beta particle capture causes a a proton to transform to a neutron: atomic mass is unchanged; atomic number number drops by one.  C12 turns into B12, which decays by beta particle emission to stable C13 or C12.  C13 goes to B13 again decaying to either C12 or C13 (both stable).

N14 turns to C14, which is slightly radioactive (half life long enough that it is not going to do anything but make your bones carbon datable).

O16 turns to N16 which decays rapidly to C12 or O16.

H1 turns into a neutron which decays to H1 (short half-life).

The rest of the elements common to food are in small quantities and need not concern us here.

Neutrons are also low risk for food.  H1 + neutron gives H2 stable.  

Neutron + H2 (quite rare) gives tritium which is radioactive.

Neutron + C12 gives C13, stable.

Neutron + c13 gives C14; relatively long half-life.  Our distant descendants can use it it to radiocarbon date your bones.

Similarly, the common isotopes of nitrogen and oxygen do neutron capture to stable isotopes.  

Neutron capture is also dependent on nuclear cross section, which is measured in barns (10^24 sq. cm.).  I am not worried about my food capturing neutrons.

Gamma rays excite electrons to higher energy levels ("You come here often?") which decay back to a lower energy level producing X-rays.  As I recall this is a pretty fast process so your beef stew should be safe.

Of course, you do not get full absorption of beta particles or gamma rays by any shielding, nor full absorption by your body.  In civil defense matters you are only trying to get the amount getting through to you down to tolerable levels.  There is enough background radiation that your freeze-dried banana chips (K40) might be your biggest hazard in a proper fallout shelter.

UPDATE: One of you asked about aluminum (for ammo boxes, I think).  This Radiation Halving Chart (what thickness of material will halve your dose) matches what I said in the comments, aluminum is about 1/3 of steel: 2.7 inches of aluminum and 1" of steel both halve your radiation exposure by half.  Ideally, you want 14.3" of aluminum to get a PF40 (1/40th of the outside exposure).

Why the Market Has Not Completely Collapsed Because of the Ukraine War and Putin's Nuclear Threats

 Consider the possibilities.

1. Ukraine War ends with Putin humiliated or given 9mm termination notice.  Stocks continue upward.

2. Idiot presses the button and his generals are stupid enough to follow his orders.  Who cares what stock prices are the day after?

Odd Size End Mill Needed

 I need to cut a very thin slot in acetal: .079" and I need to cut at least 1" deep.  (I actually need a 2" deep slot, but I can do it from both sides.)  A 1/16" cutting diameter end mill will generally use a very small shank.  Fortunately Sherline makes endmill holders for 1/8" shanks.  I just need an unusually long small endmill.  I could use a 1/8" cutter also.  It just would not be as elegant for this application.

Found a 1/8" shank, 1/8" diameter 1" cutting length endmill.  Even better 1/8" shank and diameter.  While the cutting length is is only 0.275", the overall length is almost 2", so I should be able to plunge from both sides and do an adequate job.

UPATE: .079"

Free Riders

I am sure most of you are aware of what economists call the "free rider" problem: if a service has no user cost, there will be people who will get the benefits of the service while contributing nothing to defray the costs.  In some cases, the overall benefit to a society is so large that a few "free riders" are not a problem. 

4/12/22 New York Post reports on a literal free rider problem: Seattle's light rail system which has no turnstiles or other methods of collecting revenue from riders.  They used to verify the riders had paid for the ride (although the article does not explain how) but at its core it became an honor system.  Why?
"By one measurement, as many as a staggering 70% of all passengers are free riders. But even that is only an estimate as there is almost no fare enforcement. Sound Transit did away with fare enforcement officers after a study revealed people of color were disproportionately getting fined."
Systemic racism!  White people honored the system.  Others just stuck residents of the area with higher property, sales, and auto registration fees and contributed nothing.

The core problem, as explained by a weirdo (Republican member of King County council):
"“What we’re seeing here in Seattle is the systemic decriminalization of everything, all the way from farebox recovery to failure to register as a sex offender, and using the guise of equity and social justice so that there isn’t any enforcement of laws,” said Dunn, “And what you get is higher crime and more evasion.”"

I am sure progressives will respond that people of color are poor because of racism and should not feel obligated to pay for the ride.  But not every person of color is poor and there are poor white people.  (Privileged whites can now withdraw in horror at this insult to their core dogma.)

Somehow, our society has either persuaded people of color that they have a right to take advantage of whites, or their culture has persuaded them that a honor system does not apply to them.

Systemic racism exists?  Yes, I guess it does but not in the direction privileged whites want to believe.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Leader of the Free World

4/14/22 New York Post has video of Biden trying to shake hands with someone not there.  But no mean tweets!

Needed: Picture of Asian Men With Similar Although Not Identical Faces

 You may be aware of a California criminal case from the 20th century where a witness identified a Chinese-American as the criminal.  The defense attorney suddenly had the courtroom filled with Chinese men of similar height, weight, and hair style wearing identical clothes; the witness could not distinguish the defendant from the other Chinese men in the courtroom.  This phenomenon is because we notice how the common characteristics of different races tend to overwhelm the less dramatic differences, if we are of a different race.  I need a photograph showing a group of similarly dressed and age Asian men to demonstrate this phenomenon.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Stucco Houses As Radiation Shielding

If you in the Southwest this is quite applicable.   We live in an oddball stucco house which is profoundly weird looking in our subdivision.

From "Experimental Evaluation of the Fallout-Radiation Protection Afforded by a Southwestern Residence" (1962):

"An experimental study was conducted to determine the fallout-radiation protection afforded by a residence representative of a type of construction much in favor in the Southwest a single-story stucco and frame house with a heavy shake roof and no basement....

"The protection factors within the house ratio of exposure dose rate in the open field to exposure dose rate in the structure ranged from 2.8 to 4.4, depending on the location. The results compare favorably with those found in previous exercises under similar conditions."

This report from 1975 for a single story rambler shows a reduction that seems to be 2.0.  (This report shows a radiation reduction of 0.5 which would be 2.0 on the above report.)  They also distinguish between a small structure 20'x30' and a large structure 40'x90' which is a more typical house size today.  The larger structure has a much better radiation reduction because the smaller structure gets 3x more radiation from the outside than from the roof.  I think this means the 40'x90' rambler will have a radiation reduction more like 4.  

Both are encouraging.  I was surprised to find that the U.S. actually has an operational ballistic and cruise missile defense system although primarily of value against SLBMs, IRBMs, and cruise missiles.   ICBMs remain a problem because of reentry speeds being so high 

When I lived in San Jose in the early1980s, a guy from church whose NQ (Nerd Quotient) was very high was writing ballistic missile defense software.  He was writing software that solved six equations, six unknowns for real-time intercepts.  These are hard problems, probably easier as processing power has improved.

I get the impression that even if some Russian or Chinese missiles were better maintained than Russian Army vehicles, a fair number might not get through although likely spreading a fair amount of plutonium dust on destruction.  I hate to see the BMD systems combat-tested but the actual fallout hazard might be less than the apocalyptic fictional versions.  We can thank Reagan for that.

Preparing for improvised shelter in place is looking more and more plausible.   

The next question to study is how much radiation shielding case lots of chili and corned beef provide.  The steel itself provides some direct shielding and refraction off the cans will direct some to the sides of your edible shelter walls.

A Form I Never Expected to File

At least they are not the suggestively named Naked T-Bill Straddles. 

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Maidan Snipers

BBC Newsnight documentary suggests that some of the snipers were shooting both protesters and police to maximize chaos.  Different explanations are possible: the resulting chaos benefited the Russians looking for an excuse to invade and also the pro-Western forces.  I rather doubt we will ever know who. Of course, nothing precludes multiple groups with cross-purposes in play.  

Moskva Sank

SkyNews is reporting that official Russian news are reporting the Moskva sank.  Ammo fire or Ukrainian missile?  I think that I know.

4/14/22 Daily Mail reports that it sank in about a half hour with only 54 survivors.  The Russian Navy seems about as adept as their Army.  

Conventional war with NATO: Finnish flag over Moscow in two weeks.  I just hope their ICBMs are maintained as well as their trucks.

How many more disasters before Putin is quietly led aside?

Flushing Is Not Just a City in New York State

In a post-apocalyptic world in an improvised shelter in your home, some large office building, or big box store, keeping the toilet running matters.  If you are on city water your city water tank gives 0.433 psi per foot of elevation.  I suspect most cities have pressure regulators to keep this pressure within reasonable bounds.  

Where I grew up in Santa Monica the water tanks were at the top of a 300 foot hill on the northeastern border.  The story of Santa Monica water is the story of Los Angeles using access to the Owens Valley water to lure cities into consolidation.  I was told that Santa Monica went so far as using 220V, 50 Hz power until WW2 to make Los Angeles' blandishments unattractive to residents.

Anyway, what if you are not on city water?  You may be relying on a booster pump as is the case for many of us on wells.  You can fill the toilet tank with urine.  You are supposed to drink 2.6 liters (for men) and 2.1 liters (for women) per day.  Some of that will be in your canned food.  Some will be lost in perspiration and transpiration, but most will go through your bladder.  Use it to fill the toilet tank as best you can.  For men this should be easy; for women, a bit clumsy.  I doubt this will give you many flushes per day, but you will probably be eating little and moving around less, so the number of required flushes will likely be small.

I Understand the Skepticism of Ukraine

Some Americans perceive everything from Maidan Square revolution forward as Deep State foreign policy, and therefore immediately suspect.  The Deep Staters genuinely support the liberal democratic ideal.  (Liberal in the 19th century meaning.)  They just do not understand democracy and its limits.  

Muslim democracy will never be liberal; Islam just does not have a secular concept within its framework.  Hence, the Arab Spring failed.  Liberal democracy also requires a shared sense of national identity, which is one reason Afghanistan failed.

Deep Staters do not support American democracy: Roe v. Wade and all the rest of the "we cannot trust voters" baggage.  But they regard this as a temporary problem until every generation thinks Modern Family is an aspirational goal; Christianity ceases to influence behavior; and every high school has marijuana vaping liquid vending machines.

Democracy in Eastern Europe seems a bit short of Deep State goals about immigration and sexual confusion (Poland, Hungary, and Ukraine).  But grudgingly, Deep State supports it in hopes that the pollution of Hollywood will eventually change them.  This is not an argument against democracy; it is an argument for understanding where they are attempting to plant an idea that requires rather particular soil.

Ways to Not Be Shot by an Officer (Regardless of Your Race)

 4/13/22 Detroit Free Press (combination dash cam, body cam, house camera):

1. Do not drive a car with the wrong license plates on it.  Were the plates or car stolen?  How does that happen otherwise?

2. Do not wear your pants below your trousers.  (A Congolese immigrant; why was he trying to look gangsta?)

3. Do not refuse to show driver's license.

4. Do not run.

5. Do not fight an arrest.

6. Do not try to take Taser from officer.

7. Drop Taser when ordered.

If Russia Attacks Finland, They May Not Have a Military

 4/13/22 Yahoo News:

KYIV/LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) - Russia said the crew of its Black Sea fleet flagship were evacuated on Thursday and measures were being taken to tow the stricken ship back to port, after an explosion of ammunition on board that Ukraine said was caused by a missile strike.

Russia's defence ministry said the fire on the Soviet-era missile cruiser Moskva had been contained, but left the ship badly damaged. It did not acknowledge the ship, which had more than 500 sailors on board, had been attacked and said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

Ukraine's southern military command said that it hit the warship with a Ukrainian-made Neptune anti-ship missile and that it had started to sink.

Reuters was unable to verify either side's statements.

A Pentagon spokesperson said U.S. military did not have enough information.

"It is certainly possible that it got hit by a missile, but it's also completely possible that something internal to the workings of the ship itself," John Kirby told CNN.

A fire broke out in the ammunition.  A missile hit.  Both may well be true.  Any guesses how long and how expensive repairs will take. 

The real hazard here is that if Russia Putin is stupid enough to attack a NATO member, they will probably lose air superiority over the adjacent region in the first day, and most of their tanks to Warthogs shortly thereafter.  At that point, Putin will be so humiliated that risking taking Russia back to the Stone Age might make sense.

As you can see Russia's population is heavily concentrated in a triangle of Omsk, St. Petersburg, and Volgograd.

Destruction of the existing military and industrial centers will likely kill most Russians by blast, fallout, or starvation.  (We might not do much better.)  

Russian destiny may turn out to be some remaining radioactive signs in Cyrillic.