Tips – December 2015

Since WordPress has decided that comments on Pages, like the Tips pages, don’t show up in recent comments, it kind of breaks the value of it for me. In response, I’m shifting from a set of “pages” to a set of “postings”. As any given Tips Posting disappears or gets full, I’ll add a new one. That will restore the broken function.

I will be keeping the same general format, with the T page still pointing to both the archive of Tips Pages as well as the series of new Postings. With that, back to the Tips boiler plate:

This is an “overflow” posting from prior Tips pages as they had gotten so large it was taking a long time to load. Same idea, just a new set of space to put pointers to things of interest. The most immediately preceding Tips posting is:

The generic “T” parent page remains up top, where older copies of the various “Tips” pages can be found archived. I have also added a “Tips” category (see list at right) and will be marking Tips postings with that for easy location.

While I’m mostly interested in things having to do with:

Making money, usually via trading
Weather and climate
Quakes, Volcanoes, and other Earth Sciences
Current economic and political events
(often as those last three have impact on the first one…)
And just about any ‘way cool’ interesting science or technology

If something else is interesting you put a “tip” here.

You can also look at the list of “Categories” on the right hand side and get an idea of any other broad area of interest.

This ought not to be seen as a “limit” on what is “interesting”, more as a “focus list” with other things that are interesting being fair game as well.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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189 Responses to Tips – December 2015

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    An excellent beginning for the year of new beginnings…pg

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    Little item that has a hidden message.Note in the body of the story the fact that this reservoir is now empty for work on the dam. Without the moderating influence of the reservoir a new record low on a not particularly cold storm. Records have only been kept since the 1960’s wonder what the real all time low is back to the 1880’s prior to the filling of the reservoir. Built in 1909 and last dry in 2002-2007.

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    And now to cover all bets, burning fossil fuels causes cooling due to aerosols.
    Probably right given how the brown cloud here in Denver suppressed ground level heating. But it gets tiresome that they just keep broadcasting this crap over and over and only mention it when it supports the meme du Jour.

    Volcanoes cool the weather — no they don’t — yes they do — only if they emit high levels of sulphur, — except . . . Pick a meme any meme what fits today’s agenda.

  4. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting item, note specifically that the document authors assume that global warming is proven and a given (“ie beyond debate”). Also note that no one mentions that the reason big oil supported carbon taxes is that it was a way to destroy coal and take over their fuel energy market for natural gas which fracking would make super abundant, and they had total control of a “cleaner” alternative to a 100 year old slice of the energy economy, which for the first time they could wipe the slate clean and along with the demands for fast spin up natural gas generation for back up to wind and solar systems take over total control of the commercial energy market as primary fuel suppliers.
    But is all sounds so noble when you tell people you are saving the planet rather than destroying an industry which feeds thousands of people, and is the only viable economic driver in certain regions of the country.

  5. Larry Ledwick says:

    And now we have an example in the wild of security backdoors getting used by others.

  6. Sera says:

    Now I can cook black bean soup AND charge the laptop at the same time.

  7. mct says:

    You probably have an excellent link collector already. But if not, give a try.

    Disclaimer… I knew the developer some many years ago, and recently did some pro bono beta testing for him. As a collector of links and so forth, I think it pretty much rocks.

  8. Steve C says:

    A little lightheartedness for the season:

    You may already have seen recently that “Vladimir Putin is a mythical creature who is immortal and can time travel”.

    But you may well have missed the one about the ex-politician who stopped the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) opening a portal to another dimension that would have destroyed mankind. We should be grateful to these bravehearts for protecting us against terrors we hadn’t even imagined …

    After which, I’m keeping me head down ’til next year!

  9. E.M.Smith says:


    That’s exactly the reason I’m doing a roll your own computer with generic boot and Linux and diy router fwall…

    Juniper folks are smart. I’ve met some of them / worked with them.

    A hole that big, followed with a halfassed patch is not accidental, IMHO.

    Juniper gear is high end and widely used, so this is exactly the kind of place a TLA would do an insertion…

  10. Larry Ledwick says:

    Some interesting data on world currencies using methods based on real prices rather than official statistics to calculate actual inflation rates etc.
    Includes data on inflation and currency volatility. Bit coin volatility is interesting as are the real inflation rates in some countries. If this data is accurate many world economies are already in the process of imploding they just have not noticed yet.
    – – – – –
    – – – – –

    Pegs US inflation rate (real) at 5.2% vs official numbers near 2%

    Click to access inflation_brochure_2000_update_august_2014.pdf

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    For most folks, learning is slow and painful.

    Many folks are learning a lot now. Often, against their will…


    Official inflation is a joke. Just take the price of a stamp and bread and you get better numbers. The present stats take out what matters to folks the most (food, fuel, some housing) but keeps in wages. So your costs rocket up, but since your wages stay down, ” no problem!”

    I’d agree real inflation about 5%, and The Fed full on the inflation gas pedal… but since regulatory and fiscal (tax etc) policy are killing companies and jobs, hey, wages stay down… so more money pumping… repeat until economic collapse.

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    I also tend to watch certain high demand products to gauge real inflation, things like the cost of a loaf of sandwich bread, a gallon of milk, price of a set of new tires. The sort of expenses which people tend not to defer in tight times but buy regardless of circumstances because like tires you just can’t do without them.

    Found these items which mention an interesting way of looking at likelihood of a major financial down turn using the equity Q ratio. Points out exact timing is pretty much unknowable but the trend of how likely a down turn can be predicted with some success, and right now those numbers are not confidence inspiring.

    All the below links are related and just give slightly different discussions of the same concept.

  13. Larry Ledwick says:

    Words to remember – Fraclog and DUC = long term oil glut and low oil prices.

    Does Saudi Arabia have enough cash in the bank to ride this out and drive other high cost producers out of the market or will they just deplete their own reserves and end up broke with exhausted wells?

    Which raises the next question, which oil producing country is most likely to do something to take large amounts of oil off the market to force prices back up. (presumably someone other than their own oil production) High stakes poker game going on in oil right now.

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Larry; I have heard that the Saudi are claiming more oil production abilities then exist and that they have been spending everything that comes in to fund their push to win control of the Muslim world while maintaining their own control in Arabia. Right now the worlds largest oil producer is the only one that can easily survive depressed prices as it is also one of the largest users of oil. America wins on both sides of this ledger. Right now refiners are doing very well due to the price spread. Many of these are American as well and they have enjoyed the position of being the only outlet for American oil production due to export bans. It will be interesting to see the direction of the Saudi lobbying to repair their

  15. Larry Ledwick says:

    This makes my head spin — maybe I am not in the mood to plow through all this, and will try digesting it later but what a tangled web we weave!

    EM you might find this interesting analysis.

  16. Larry Ledwick says:

    and another item on the secondary impacts of low oil revenues for Sovereign funds and the ripple effects that will have on other investments.

  17. Another Ian says:


    and poke the survey! The “we need to better communicate ” crew will have their knickers in a knot.

  18. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Larry; interesting back story to the financial results of the extended low prices paid to oil exporting countries. Money center banks on Wall st and Fleet st will have to make adjustments…pg

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    Little item about high CO2 and gardening with tomatoes.

  20. Larry Ledwick says:

    By the way to those into sky watching, a CME should arrive at earth this evening and give good polar light show to those north of Oregon and Illinois latitudes.

  21. Another Ian says:

    “Elsewhere on the tech front, Microsoft releases Windows 10, which, in a widely hailed breakthrough, turns Windows 8 back into Windows 7.”

    Read more here:

  22. Graeme No.3 says:

    A Happy New Year to all readers and particularly the Chief and his family.

  23. omanuel says:

    There is confirmation today of strong magnetic fields in CORES of intermediate-mass stars:

    Stello et al., Nature, “A prevalence of dynamo-generated magnetic fields in the cores of intermediate-mass stars,” published on-line 4 January 2016

    The authors do not mention the mechanisms proposed in 1963 [1] and 2002 [2] to explain magnetic fields that might arise from iron-rich supernova debris and/or a pulsar at the core of the Sun:

    1. B. W. Ninham (1963) “Charged Bose gas in astrophysics,” Physics Letters 4, 278-279.
    2. Oliver K. Manuel, Barry W. Ninham, Stig E. Friberg (2002) “Super-fluidity in the solar interior: Implications for solar eruptions and climate,” Journal of Fusion Energy 21, 193-198.

  24. Larry Ledwick says:

    Related to some of my previous observations on unstable governments who have or are seeking nuclear capability, we have the recent announcement that N. Korea conducted a successful submerged submarine missile launch. There has been much debate about how significant this is since in earlier “ejection” tests they nearly sunk a submarine. (it limped back into port after the test listing severely – presumably due to flooding caused by the missile ejection.

    NK just recently released video of this recent test launch (assuming this is real and not doctored video), this confirms my worst fears.

    They not only successfully ejected the missile from the submerged submarine clear of the water surface and accomplished missile motor ignition but it appears they also achieved sustained controlled flight after the main booster ignition. This means that they have passed the most difficult parts of getting an SLBM to be a viable weapon system.

    Food for thought as we consider how dangerous NK is becoming if it did in fact achieve thermonuclear yield (or at least thermonuclear boosted fission in their latest nuclear test)
    Also ponder the likelihood that Iran is a key player in their nuclear program and both Iran and NK are almost certainly trading technological information and test results.
    Love the announcer audio, you don’t need to understand Korean to get the gist of the sound track.

  25. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Larry; my conclusion from information that I have seen is that the Pakistani and North Korean devices are dirty bombs that achieve some atomic ignition with huge amounts of HE. A signature of some atomic activity and a few kiloton shock. Mainly for propaganda and the threat of status as an atomic power. This claim of fusion bomb seems to be more of the same with heavy water added.
    North Koreans have always felt that they were entitled to rule all others, Remember they once conquered China and colonized Japan, positions that they lost long ago. They are just the local bullies that are dangerous to their more peaceful neighbors. Tribal Packs and Afganies have much the same attitude toward others. They are the wolves and we are the sheep that they feed on. The World would be better served if the Warlords were eradicated and their people debased to the point of losing their seniority complex…pg

  26. J Martin says:

    Russia Today thinks that the US dollar is dependant on Saudi Arabia and that the Saudi’s could cause the collapse of the dollar.

  27. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like Obama let Iran capture US Navy vessels and crew…

    wonder if it will make The State Of The One Address tonight…

  28. Larry Ledwick says:

    This makes absolutely no sense to me, — why didn’t working boat take the broken boat under tow?

  29. p.g.sharrow says:

    Under, tow the pair would be a real dog. If they ran it would result in a real fire fight. Likely ordered to stand down and claim need of help. We must hope for a good outcome, at this time it looks to be a good call. Not sure why they were where they were, must have been a navigation error……………or not…pg

  30. Larry Ledwick says:

    I was thinking before the drifted into territorial waters

  31. Larry Ledwick says:

    Looks like we have finally achieved perfect replication of Jimmy Carter’s Iran failures now.

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    @J Martin:

    I’ve never really bought into the idea that oil in $ was all that important.

    Oil trades about 97 million bbl per day. Call it 100. Price ranges about $100 to $30 each. That’s about $30 Billion to $100 Billion per day. Big, but not compared to all the other stuff trading in any one day. Frankly, if it were critical, I’d expect that 3:1 range based on price changes to show up as an issue… yet it doesn’t.


    Remember these folks used a GPS fake signal to land / crash a drone and capture it. I’d not be surprised at all to find out they tried steering a boat via GPS buggery into their waters.

    IFF the boats had a pattern of close approaches, it wouldn’t take much to make it happen.

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    Yup. Carter Lite has a nice ring to it…

  34. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; you could be correct. Everything points to at least one of the boats being damaged, likely ran over a shallow reef and damaged the props and rudder on something or entangled in something. I have operated vessels of that size in coastal waters and stuff happens. Rope adrift, nets, you name it. Strange that radio communications were out. Navigation is always a problem, never depend on only 1 form. GPS is way too easy! The Iranian Guard that operate on that island do not work for the government and have their own agenda. They do not like any deal that the government have worked out with the west that might slow acquisition of atomic weapons. A rerun of the Carter days would be a great score for them…pg

  35. Larry Ledwick says:

    Quotes to remember from tonight’s SOTU address:

    “Anyone claiming that America’s economy is in decline is peddling fiction.”

    “The United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.”
    “For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that also works better for everybody.”

    “How do we make technology work for us … especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?”

    “Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You will be pretty lonely, because you’ll be debating our military, most of American’s businesses leaders, the majority of the American people …”

    “Solar energy “employs more Americans than coal.” In fact, solar energy jobs have doubled.”
    (yes that is what happens with you destroy an industry.)

    “We’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”
    (in spite of your efforts to strangle the oil industry and fracking, and the natural gas boom)

    “As we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.”

    Sorry BS filter is full

  36. p.g.sharrow says:

    The Great Deceiver has spoken!…pg

  37. Larry Ledwick says:

    Ref your comment about GPS spoofing earlier EM:

    Not the real question is “did we really get back ALL of the boats, or only the non-sensitive and non-crypto stuff. If they taped into sensitive electronics gear this could be a mini Pueblo affair compromising all our crypto in the region. They in any case had unrestricted access to the boats for some 24 hours so it would be incredibly naive to assume that they did not poke and probe all the gear. If nothing else they have complete documentation of the boats now, and likely have given access to them by Russian and Chinese technical experts.

    All the chatter is that these boats were designed to operate in cold northern waters (Swedish design) and frequently over heat and break down in the gulf. Given we have been in those waters for combat operations for 16 years you would think someone would have developed at tropical waters retrofit for high temperature operating environments to improve reliability.

  38. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Another Ian:
    We must remember, Obama is doing the task that GOD ordained for him.
    “the philosophy of more will be thoroughly discredited”.
    The father of progressive thought, taken to extreme by Lenin and Mao and now the UN and the Democratic party wish to follow.
    This is one of several prophesies for this era. Social Progressives must create enough stink that everyone will avoid them for all future time. There must be much economic pain to drive the point home to prove beyond all attempts by Intellectuals to rewrite their history again.
    @Larry; it has been reported that the Iranian Guards removed all the GPS connected equipment from the boats to “preserve the evidence” of their passage…pg

  39. Larry Ledwick says:

    Iranian Guards removed all the GPS connected equipment from the boats to “preserve the evidence” of their passage…pg

    …… and to reverse engineer our military precision GPS algorithms

  40. p.g.sharrow says:

    This thing about the design and manufacture of these boats inadequate ability to operate in warm waters is nothing new to me. When we were operating in the Gulf of Tonking we were using North Atlantic design equipment. As the man said “You fight wars with what you have, not what you wished you have”…pg

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    P.G. What was the problem cooling water intake too small or not enough flow to keep the engines cool?

  42. p.g.sharrow says:

    Not so much cooling the engines internally but cooling the engine spaces. Everything inside the spaces would way overheat. Not good for people that had to service things as well as heat causes rapid aging and failure of associated equipment… pg

  43. Larry Ledwick says:

    Understand my ship was stationed in tropical waters (Guam) and I know how unbearable it got when the AC failed in the living spaces. Things rust so fast you can watch it happen in tropical heat and high humidy, and stuff gets too hot touch if you expose it to the sun. The snipes working in the engine room only worked about 20 minutes before they rotated because temps in engineering were at the limits of human endurance. Except in typhoon season we had canvas awnings rigged top side to keep the decks and hatches cool enough you could touch them without gloves.

  44. Another Ian says:


    Wasn’t the Nastys then?

  45. E.M.Smith says:

    It’s hard to retrofit a larger hull around the just right sized cramped engine… and hard to retrofit all stainless steel for all those many parts… and hard to retrofit an engine with larger water passages into a fixed sized space… and…

    Engineering a boat is a very balanced thing…

    I would expect any “sensitive” equipment to have ‘squibs’ built into it to fry the guts on capture. “Antihandling” fuses and all…

    Then again, The One may have given orders not to destroy equipment… and / or “squibs are soooo 1970…” may have taken over the world of sensitive electronics.

  46. Larry Ledwick says:

    There used to be standing orders to destroy certain crypto and electronics gear on board ship, but it was much more basic. They had sledge hammers and fire axes conveniently placed near the equipment.

  47. Larry Ledwick says:

    Long narrative of the capture of the Pueblo gives a look at the challenges involved in that sort of situation.
    Proper way to do it with powerful explosive charges, shot gun blasts etc. obviously would be quicker but mean certainty of casualties of the crew attempting it. The other option would be open port holes of exposed compartments and a few gallons of fuel and intentionally fire the compartment as a last resort.

  48. p.g.sharrow says:

    The inside of a warship is far to confined and dangerous to deliberately plant explosives or inflamables in or around equipment. Under normal conditions you are always just one accident away from disaster. The use of sledge hammers or fire axes is about the only readily available solution.
    Since the end of WWI American personnel have been considered our most valuable war making asset.

    WE can create more stuff faster and more advanced then we can replace trained personnel.
    (This should be in BOLD and LARGE print! It is the key to winning modern wars.)
    If we lose some stuff, no big deal. We will replace it with newer better stuff. At least we got our people back, hopefully with some intel. on the opposition…pg

  49. Larry Ledwick says:

    Although I agree with regard to general military gear, and also the general concept or avoiding explosives pre-placed in gear, I can imagine some other options.

    First of all, when it comes to crypto and other advanced electronics (radar, radio, sonar etc) it is not the gear you are trying to protect, you are trying to protect the technology and concept of operation. Once that is compromised, you have instantly made all similar gear obsolete or worse yet compromised so that the other guy can spoof it or avoid it.

    In that sense the key components are the critical chips like the firmware which holds the operational code and special proprietary custom chips and perhaps sensors whose very architecture is the key to their function. In the case of electronics there are several options. One would be a high voltage charged capacitor wired to key components with manual interlock switches. Like the 2 key system in missile silos, flip a shielded switch to arm the electronic destruct system, then have two different people turn the keys at the same time to feed 300V at KA currents into your super fancy low voltage chip. Poof, it is now a splatter of silicon fragments and vaporized copper, silver and gold all over the inside of the equipment.

    The mechanical option would be to have propositioned receptacles which would accept a 12 Ga shot gun shell, or a .22 caliber device like a power load which would drive a projectile through the key component smashing to small dust size particles. Take the destruction cartridges out of a locked cabinet, place in the breech device, pull a physical safety pin like a hand grenade and pull a lanyard from a safe distance.

    Third option would be a small chamber just large enough to drop a frag grenade into it right over the key structures, pull the pin, and run. (this actually might be less effective than the projectile method as explosives sometimes leave large pieces of detonator systems sufficiently intact to reconstruct the device and pull chip ID numbers off of components)

    Forth option, a port to pour a pouch of thermite powder into the device (if it is scuttle ship time) and a high temperature igniter to set it off to melt the entire guts of the device in a 2500 °C puddle of molten iron and aluminum oxide. Thermite powder is available commercially for use in thermite welding of rail road rails. All you need is a bottomless high temperature crucible to pour it into with an open bottom over the component which needs absolute destruction.

    In the case of those fast patrol boats they probably already have 12Ga weapons on board for boarding, so all it would take is to provide the breech devices to place them in, or in an even lower tech approach markings, “place muzzle here” with a splatter shield to protect the guy pulling the trigger. You could also use standard underwater magnesium flares with the appropriate provisions to position them in the right place.

  50. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Larry; Very creative imagination you have.
    While I was working on a 200hp 660vac controller someone at the other end of the ship decided they just HAD to activate that pump. The screw driver shank exploded. I was left with the plastic handle in my hand, molten metal in my face and a case of the shakes that lasted over a week. Things are dangerous enough without explosives added to the stuff we need to work on. Murphy’s’ law prevails, Just ask John McCain and the sailors of the Forestall…pg

  51. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes Murphy is always around, which is why I like protocols which require several steps to make bad things happen.
    I know of several other similar “red tag violations” where out of service equipment was energized when it should not have been.
    Our Data Systems tech told a story of how he nearly got fried by the main radar on the USS Chicago CG 11 when someone (cough junior officer) ignored the red tag and powered it up. While he was on the mast servicing some gear. That main radar would cook sea gulls in flight when in operation.

  52. p.g.sharrow says:

    Protocols are wonderful if EVERYONE follows them. It is a Court Martial offense to ignore a red tag. Only the guy that hung the tag or the commanding officer can remove it and energize the equipment.
    Yet I’m sure for some reason it still happens. Only if a death occurs would a write up and prosecution take place. In my case a senior noncom paper pusher was the offender, so it never happened…pg

  53. Another Ian says:


    “WE can create more stuff faster and more advanced then we can replace trained personnel.
    (This should be in BOLD and LARGE print! It is the key to winning modern wars.)”

    That is what nearly lost the Battle for Britain – they could replace the aeroplanes but were running out of pilots

  54. Another Ian says:



    And this comment seems to stand out like dogs balls

    Incunabulum • 9 hours ago

    Something else about the Keynes bit – nobody will ever know if Keynes is correct (I don’t think he is) because no government in the history of mankind is willing to do the other half of his prescription. Which is *build up a surplus during economic booms* to cover the ‘stimulus’ that is going to be done during the busts.”

  55. Another Ian says:


    and link

    Don’t I remember a song refrain to the tune of “when will they ever learn”?

  56. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    They DID learn… politicians learned they get great “donations” from banks, banks learned the smaller competion gets ruined while they get a government handout / bailout and big bonuses prior to that, voters learned they get nice houses and can walk away clean if needed… what’s not to like? It’s only tax money and nobody cares about that anyway…

  57. E.M.Smith says:

    Per explosives in gear: a squib isn’t a hand granade… about like a very small firecracker. A friend worked at Watkins johnson on very special radars during the cold war. some of the special chips had squibs in them for easy self destruct. Outside the case it ought to sound a bit like popcorn, but zero hazard. Only the chip guts get fried. Don’t know if it was HE or HV or High Amps, but it fried.

    Alternatively, one could just put the codes in volitile RAM and have a switch to short out the battery….

    It is not hard to build in protections on tech. It is very hard to destroy silicon chips by banging on the outside box with a hammer…

    @Another Ian:


  58. E.M.Smith says:

    I’d have commented on that Coyote blog article, but they require a ‘ social Media ‘ account to comment and thats a security / privacy violation in my book.

    Odd mix of folks who DO get it about Keynes, and loads of misconceptions in the comments.

    For me, the China situation won’t be a test of Keynes simply because it is not a market economy. It is a Centrally Planned economy with limited market glue ons. Then the folks knocking Keynes don’t seem to know that he himself said it was only a short term strategy for stimulus that would only work for a year or two then would convert to inflationary pressures.

    I do wish folks talking about Keynes would actually read what he said, not what others say he said…

  59. Larry Ledwick says:

    New tech tidbit you might like! New stronger form of aerogel

  60. David A says:

    My view on Keyens is that he falls into the same trap that leads to people falling into statist do good philosophy; a failure to understand human nature.

    No goverments follow his entire ideas, because saving a surplus during
    ” good times” is contrary to political expediency and the need to promise solutions to a demon, real or created.

    To some degree I understand Norway with their oil revenue funds, has actually done this however. My understanding is that only about 4 percent is spent, the rest is invested. Not certain who owns their oil, but understand that on top of usuall tax, their is a fifty percent socialistic take?

  61. Larry Ledwick says:

    Another little item on changes in the economic climate and indicators that businesses and average people are starting to get that tingly feeling that the economy is about to have a bad day.

    The oil markets are not happy about Iran now being free to sell oil into an already glutted market.

  62. p.g.sharrow says:

    @David A; I would have to agree with you. Keynes philosophy of economics appears to me to be a prime example of modern Liberal thinking, That could only come from Ivory Tower thinking. It appears to be wonderful on the surface but fails to take into consideration Human Nature. Human Economics is not the same thing as academic economics. The human factor is the thing that any study on managing economics must work with. Academics work work with assumption and projection of their clean and ordered world. The real world is one of chaos being manipulated by individuals attempting to gain advantage midst the chaos. Manipulators work to Gain government sanctioned tollgates to force commerce in their favor. Keynes philosophy requires government control. Something that always fails in the long run…pg

  63. Another Ian says:


    “What is the difference between theory and practice?

    In theory there is no difference”

    Stolen from a blogger on another site that I haven’t found again as yet to attribute

  64. E.M.Smith says:

    @Anothrr Ian:

    I think the original includes one more line:

    “In practice, there is”.

  65. Another Ian says:


    Re Another line above.

    I would have said that was implied – as in the English language expression “understood” – which probably doesn’t get a mention in class these days.

    For an idea of how far we’ve “progressed” on that front I showed a your side of pond the English papers from my 1959 Senior Exam (end of secondary school pre University). The comment was

    “Interesting. I’ll see some of that in third year”..

    Another way of putting the four line sentiment is

    “Theoretically sound but practically imperfect means you ought to have another look at the theory”.. Gets a philosophical backing by J.S. Mill IIRC.

  66. Another Ian says:

    Oops above. Your side of the pond English major.

  67. E.M.Smith says:

    @Anothrr Ian:

    Were I limited to what I was taught in school and when it was taught, I would be making mud bricks by hand for a living…

    I have often said that my time in school seriously slowed down my rate of education.

    By several years, and I mean it… My favorite place was the city library, since it was there that I learned most. For example, reading Scientific American (when it was a real science journal) while in grammar school getting nearly nothing new…

  68. Another Ian says:


    Not a good post-lunch read!

    “THE world is facing an avalanche of catastrophic bankruptcies and defaults that could lead to political and social upheaval, according to one leading global economist.”

  69. Another Ian says:


    Re leaving school above.

    I have horrified youngsters who were busting to get to “leaving school” by pointing out that years after matriculation (57 years) that I have never left school.

    Includes Bachelors, Masters and Piled Higher

    And includes a hell of a lot from what is referred to here as UHK* graduate courses

    *(University of Hard Knocks)

  70. Another Ian says:


    And maybe some ideas for the Merc?


    “Under full throttle, a dragster engine consumes 1.5 gallons of nitro methane per second. Which is the same rate of consumption as a fully loaded 747, but with 4 times the energy density.

    The supercharger takes more power to drive than a stock HEMI makes.

    With nearly 3000 CFM of air being rammed in by the supercharger on overdrive, the fuel mixture is compressed into a nearly solid form before ignition.

    Cylinders run on the verge of hydraulic lock.

    Dual magnetos apply 44 amps to each spark plug. This is the output of an arc welder in each cylinder.

    At stoichiometric (exact) 1.7:1 air/fuel mixture (for nitro methane), the flame front measures 7050 deg F.

    Nitro methane burns yellow. The spectacular white flame seen above the exhaust stacks at night is raw burning hydrogen, dissociated from the atmospheric water vapor by the searing exhaust gasses.

    Spark plug electrodes are totally consumed during a pass. After 1/2 track the engine is dieseling from the compression plus the glow of the exhause valves at 1400 deg F. The engine can only be shut down by cutting off it’s fuel supply.

    If spark momentarily fails early in the run, unburned nitro builds up in those cylinders and then explodes with a force that can blow the cylinder heads off the block in pieces or blow the block in half.

    Dragsters twist the crank (torsionally) so far (20 degrees in the big end of the crank) that sometimes cam lobes are ground offset from front to rear to re-phase the valve timing somewhere closer to syn-chronization with the pistions.

    To exceed 300mph in 4.5 seconds, dragsters must accelerate at an average of over 4G’s. But in reaching 200mph well before 1/2 track, the launch acceleration is closer to 8G’s.

    If all the equipment is paid off, the crew worked for free, and for once NOTHING BLOWS UP, each run costs $1000 per second.

    Dragsters reach over 300mph before you have read this sentence.

    Top fuel/Funny Car engines ONLY turn 540 revolutions from light to light.

    The redline is actually quite high at 9500rpm.

    To give you an idea of the acceleration, the current Top Fuel dragster ET record is 4.477 seconds for the 1/4 mile. This means that you could be comming across the starting line in your average Lingenfelter powered twin turbo Vette at 200mph (on a FLYING START) and the dragster would beat you to the finish line from a dead stop in the 1/4 mile distance”

    From a comment at

  71. Another Ian says:


    Remember the Queensland Health payroll cock-up a while back – and you telling me that it wasn’t too bad by business standards?

    I’ll have to be closer to believing that now

    And link

  72. Another Ian says:


    Memory jog on the Qld Health one

    Click to access 338.pdf

  73. Larry Ledwick says:

    Russia counters sanctions in a novel way – Is this what you call free enterprise?

  74. E.M.Smith says:

    Just FYI, I’m on the road again with sporadic internet connection and limited sleep… news in a day or two. Helping a friend move.

    Presently in North Carolina enjoying the dregs of the blizzard…

    I’ll have an interesting story about T-mobile wifi hotspots… Seems if you buy one for $90 or so, but don’t activate it inside 6 months or so, the SIM card is disabled and you need to physically go to the store to buy a new one for $15 to $35 before it can be turned on to let you spend money on their “service”….

    So no mobile hot spot on this trip…

    I suggest avoiding T-Mobile… especially for emergency or occasional use gear…

  75. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting look at oil prices and permanent changes in the oil industry.
    Shale is not as fragile as many assumed and is permanently changing the oil industry price calculus.

  76. Jon K says:

    The Venezuelian monetary situation is getting interesting… and sending this stuff really pisses off my college age kid who’s blinded by utopian socialism :)

  77. Another Ian says:


    ” Neil Jordan
    February 5, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Your observation reminded me of a clipping I had saved from a 1993 Tau Beta Pi “Bent” letter to the editor: “Economics is a difficult subject because it is not about the control of a passive system. Rather, it is about the design of policies in pursuit of complex objectives in a system comprised of people who are at least as intelligent as the government that is attempting to influence their behavior.”

    From comments at

  78. Another Ian says:



    KevinB replied to comment from Glacierman | February 8, 2016 2:58 PM | Reply

    I wonder just how much of Lord Keynes’ work you have actually read? He was a brilliant man, and the fact that numerous gov’ts have misapplied his methods and prescriptions are as irrelevant to Keynes’ soundness as a businessman’s who constantly sells his products for less than it costs him to produce complaints about Adam Smith.

    Keynes in a nutshell:
    1 – run surpluses in good times, spend the savings during bad times
    2 – A little inflation is a good thing; a large inflation is ruinous
    3 – when interest rates get too low, a ‘liquidity trap’ can appear

    From wiki: “A liquidity trap is a situation, described in Keynesian economics, in which injections of cash into the private banking system by a central bank fail to decrease interest rates and hence make monetary policy ineffective. A liquidity trap is caused when people hoard cash because they expect an adverse event such as deflation, insufficient aggregate demand, or war. Common characteristics of a liquidity trap are interest rates that are close to zero”. (my emphasis added)

    – and this, of course, is exactly what we are seeing today. All three of the bolded conditions above are being met. The US, Western Europe and Japan have all lowered interest rates to essentially zero (or even below zero in some cases), and yet have not been able to induce people to invest. “Pushing on a string” was the old saw. Ben Bernanke once whimsically proposed dropping money from helicopters (cooler heads prevailed, and the money instead was dropped at JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, etc.) to stimulate the ‘insufficient aggregate demand’ Keynes foresaw. At the same time, the new technologies are pushing deflation upon us. Stuff, in general, gets cheaper and better, in real terms. I bought a Honda Civic in ’75 – it was underpowered, rusted out in a few years, etc. – for $3,500. Barrel of oil was $3.50. New Honda Civic today, a much better car, is about $17,000, while oil is ten times what it was. 15 years ago, a 40″ inch 720p flat screen was $10,000; today, they are advertising 40″ 4K TV’s in Toronto for under $1,000. Finally, every rational person realizes we ARE already at war with Islam; most politicians just don’t have the guts to say so.

    Keynes’ actually has a pretty good track record IF YOU LOOK AT WHAT HE WROTE, and not the distortions claimed by the neo-Keynsians. Unfortunately, his work is not accessible to the lay reader (too many big words – cf this paragraph from Chap 1 of his General Theory:

    “I have called this book the General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, placing the emphasis on the prefix general. The object of such a title is to contrast the character of my arguments and conclusions with those of the classical theory of the subject, upon which I was brought up and which dominates the economic thought, both practical and theoretical, of the governing and academic classes of this generation, as it has for a hundred years past. I shall argue that the postulates of the classical theory are applicable to a special case only and not to the general case, the situation which it assumes being a limiting point of the possible positions of equilibrium. Moreover, the characteristics of the special case assumed by the classical theory happen not to be those of the economic society in which we actually live, with the result that its teaching is misleading and disastrous if we attempt to apply it to the facts of experience.”) ”

    From comments at

  79. sabretoothed says:

  80. Another Ian says:


    A couple of comments from economist friends (in real world businesses) re above

    “A good review of economic theory
    But does it help to explain the GFC ?
    He should have included Ann Pettifor’s “Just Money” – get it on amazon
    I also think “Up the Organisation” is one of the best practical management
    books ever – but he did say to get rid of your PR consultants and take your
    best and brightest away for a weekend”


    “Just a quick thought that might need some filling in!

    I think a lot of things are ’caused’ by ignoring the external account. The
    Americans totally ignore it. I have seen almost no reference to it in any
    writings coming out of US academia or mainstream economics since Christ
    played fullback for Jerusalem. This means they ignore one of the balancing
    factors in their own economy and, in the US case, this destroys a balancing
    factor in the world economy.
    Now whether a CAD is a cause or a symptom of something is open to debate and
    it depends really what we are discussing. But that does not alter this
    topic really.
    By ignoring the CAD the US Fed (and Aus, UK et al – all a bit different but
    the same outcome) just goes on printing money to pay for the CAD. It
    doesn’t occur to others but if you add up the US CAD’s of the past 33 years
    (thereabouts) you get the Fed Balance Sheet!
    Because the US is the Reserve currency this then means there is liquidity
    (equivalent to the Fed Balance sheet) sloshing around the world exaggerating
    everything everywhere. This liquidity does the rounds and ends up back as
    Treasuries. The end result of all this is the US economy, and the world
    economy, receives no negative feedback from the things that are going wrong.
    The US dollar stays over-valued relative to US productive performance which
    just goes on to stop all the necessary adjustment in the economy (and NOTE
    the environment). (the same applies to the Aus economy in spades as we sell
    off mines businesses farms etc top foreigners to maintain a high value
    dollar in the face of CAD’s. It is well documented that it is London
    property sales rescuing the GBP)

    On one of my computers somewhere I have a graph (I think originally
    compiled by the BIS) that Bernanke presented in one of his reports to
    congress where he was justifying the Fed by saying the house price bubble
    was not its fault!!!!!! Now this graph showed, across the world, a high
    correlation between house prices and a CAD. R-squared was something like
    0.78 0r 0.88 from memory 0.78 I think! – pretty high anyway!) So Bernanke
    reckoned the Fed was not guilty for the house price bubble and it was all
    caused by the CAD!!!!!!!!! (Grrrrrrrr as if he didn’t know the difference
    between cause and correlation but maybe the morons he was addressing in
    Congress either didn’t know or, more likely, didn’t WANT to know)

    Well yes and no!!! Really B……t! Low interest rates are a CAUSE of both
    particularly where you are preventing your currency from falling.

    So the SEED of the GST lies in ignoring basic simple economic fundamentals.
    This in turn results from giving out degress for supposedly (original)
    counter-intuitive results from research – which results from only looking at
    very short term results. So long term in economics now is looking forward
    to the next Fed (or RBA)meeting”

  81. E.M.Smith says:

    GST? Goods and Service Tax? (aka VAT? aka Sales Tax?)

    CAD? Current Account Deficit?

    BIS? Bank of International Settlements?

    RBA? Royal Bank of Australia?

    GBP – Great Britain Pound

    At least, those are how I read it (in case others might need a bit of clue…)

  82. Another Ian says:


    He is a bit cryptic.

    Reserve Bank of Australia

  83. Another Ian says:

    For pg sharrow

    Remember that poem with the lines

    “Rain is always welcome here but seldom is convenient”?

    Here is the rest

  84. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Another Ian; thank you for the entertaining link. Been there many times when I was blessed with rain. ;-)….pg

  85. Another Ian says:


    Computer security

    “No matter how hard you lock down a network or a computer the single largest point of failure is always between the keyboard and the seat.”

  86. Another Ian says:


    If it looks like I’m putting up a lot of links it is because I’ve noticed that you have a lot of interests

  87. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    That’s what “tips” is for. For me to have tickles and for you to have a place to put interesting links ;-)

  88. Larry Ledwick says:

    Looks like wikileaks is exposing some new info on surveillance technology vendors. Given that many people think wikileaks is closely associated with Russian intelligence (since they never seem to have any leaks about Russian shenanigans ) you have to ask what the intent is here, is it to embarrass western intelligence again? Some sort of misdirection (don’t look behind the curtain, oh over there a shiny thing)? Perhaps just saturating the system with problems so productivity goes way down.

    Yes anyone with a brain has known for a long time that some vendors were building the hardware that various overt and covert intelligence agencies used, so this really should not be news in any significant sense.

  89. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting tech bit about computer learning and practical application to geo locating images based only on the image itself.

  90. E.M.Smith says:

    @Larry Ledwick:

    I doubt that Wikileaks is a Russian op. More likely just an anti-Government guy from the UK bristling at the constant surveillance (London being a leader in data suckage and wall to wall cameras). Add in that getting information out of Russia has always been hard, and you get what we have. Yes, it could be more, but Occam says this is enough…

    Gee, hardware vendors responding to government RFPs… news at 11 …

    Anyone with 1/2 a brain knows that the defense industry builds machines for the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community.

    Heck, most of the really hot supercomputer cycles are used by The Community and if you work on Crays (and their competitors) it is one of the big job markets. IFF, for example, The NSA asked me to run one of their data centers, I’d do it. Pay is good and benefits too. I’d feel a bit guilty about it, but a once a month bottle of 20 year old single malt would tend to take care of that ;-) Something about slow sipping a single malt on the rocks after work that tends to make such concerns fade away… Hypocritical? Nope, not at all. Just know myself. I’m interested in personal privacy and security, but know I could be bought for a 6 figure salary and that once hired, loyalty goes to the employer. They hire me, I agree to the Contract, and that includes holding their secrets secret. Part of the Sys Admin turf…

    Perhaps it is a case of “situational ethics”. You see a lot of that in law enforcement. Similar skills and attitudes about things like application of violence shared by cops and robbers. Sometimes crossover happens. ( The case of Frank Abagnale is illustrative. Started on the dark side, then shifted to the protective side and did much to catch counterfeiters and protect paper money.)

    Knowing that “it’s the game” more than the side you are on that is attractive is a helpful point to remember and keeps you aware of the situational risks. Personally, I’d rather be on the side with the bigger guns and law enforcement behind it (pay is better and risks are lower), but if pushed into it, I could walk on the other side. Right now the government pressure is all toward erasing any hope of personal privacy (and I’m not being paid by anyone to do work inside that system) so my present “situation” is to make privacy better for “we the little guys” and as a way of keeping skilz up. But that would not prevent me from taking a contract tomorrow to manage a group trying to break those same tools. The interesting thing is that some people are surprised at that… FORD makes cars for police, and for criminals too. NASCAR started as a way for bootleggers to see who had the fastest car. So it goes. Spy vs Spy is alive and well.

    I really like the way Joubert put it:

    Joubert: Well, the fact is, what I do is not a bad occupation. Someone is always willing to pay.

    Joe Turner: I would find it… tiring.

    Joubert: Oh, no – it’s quite restful. It’s almost peaceful. No need to believe in either side, or any side. There is no cause. There’s only yourself. The belief is in your own precision.

    Or in Grosse Pointe Blank when Martin Blank explains how he ended up in the business (The Government was looking for people with a certain ‘flexibility’ of morals…)

    “When I left, I joined the army, and when I took the service exam my psych profile fit a certain… moral flexibility would be the only way to describe it… and I was loaned out to a CIA-sponsored program, and we sort of found each other. That’s how it works.”
    Martin Blank

    Probably part of why I really like those films. It touches on the whole situational ethics thing faced by Sys Admins (in a much less intense way than in the films…).

    In every company there are folks doing good and evil, folks hiding things that ought to be outed. It’s not my job to look into their email or files, nor be the morality cop. Just make sure things work and are secure. That requires a certain moral ambiguity… If you can’t handle that, don’t go into the field…

  91. David A says:

    “In every company there are folks doing good and evil, folks hiding things that ought to be outed”
    Indeed, and many things which are done by the NSA, I want protected. However I must confess, who is in charge of the NSA at the time s pertinent. I would far rather work for an honorable man then the current yahoos in charge. If you never had the chance to watch the TV show, “Person of Interest”, I suggest that you may enjoy it.

  92. Larry Ledwick says:

    Regarding wikileaks, I think it far more likely that it is a Russian Op or an independent effort which has been thoroughly compromised, than it is an independent operation that just has trouble getting info out of Russia. They have videos on line of Russian Missile warhead re-entries from tests in deep interior of Russia with clearly identifiable individuals in the group observing the re-entry. So getting info out of Russia does not seem to be a big hurdle for them.

  93. Larry Ledwick says:

    Oh goody a malicious actor who wants to bring down the western democracies, and has billions in the bank is playing the stock market. What could possibly go wrong.

  94. Richard Bellew says:

    Chiefio — I’m sure that in the past I’ve been able to dig into older posts of yours via the ‘Categories’ list in the right sidebar. I was looking for something today (in the ‘food’ category) and found that I could only get the seven newest posts — there was no link at the bottom of the page to ‘older posts’ or ‘more’ (I’ve forgotten what it used to be called). So I looked at a few other categories and found they were all limited to seven posts (or the actual number in the category, if less than seven). Results, FYI: Food (88) 7; Political Current Events (295) 7; Favorites (73) 7; Tech Bits (153) 7; Nukes (6) 6. FYI. Looks like you might have been WordPressed. RGB.

  95. tom0mason says:

    E.M. you may be interested in this report of a Celtic hill fort in Spain given your Hispanic/Celtic heritage —

  96. E.M.Smith says:

    @Richard Bellew:

    Hmmm… For me, scrolling down causes more choices to automagically appear on the bottom. I think it may be a ‘pager’ setting in WordPress such that it doesn’t present “pages” any more, but a continuous scroll with additions on the bottom. Perhaps doesn’t work in some browsers?

    What browser are you using (and release level / date)?

    You can likely get to older postings via a ‘directed search’ in the search box, or by date via the date selector under the month calendar on the right.

    FWIW, I’ll often just use a web search engine via “chiefio.wordpress Thing I’m Looking For”… at least as a first try since it’s fast… and I’m pretty good at picking key words.


    I’ll take a look. Yes, prior to the Moorish Invasion of Europe Spain was substantially blond and redheaded Celts and a seasoning of Germans (Goths, Vandals, etc.) but then got darkened up a bit with the invasion from Africa (and Latin got changed to the clipped more harsh sound of Spanish in the process of Arabic exposure). The founding of Ireland traces back to that point with Mil de Espania (soldier of Spain) heading out to the Islands… There’s still a Gaelic slice along the coast from Portugal through Spain to Brittany (though Brittany was from folks crossing back to the mainland from Britain long long ago). The Gauls long ago stopped being Celts and became quasi-Romans… i.e. French.

    At one time I wondered why Latin so erased the Celtic languages on the mainland, then found that the root of both was “italo-celtic”… i.e. they were cousins anyway, so swapping over would be easy and somewhat familiar. Island Celtic has a substratum influence from elsewhere and is not nearly as close, so harder to convince them to just swap. (Took the British / English to slaughter them enough to end the common use…) At one time I was trying to trace Irish back to the oldest form of Celtic I could find to see what it was like. Then realized that ancient Latin is likely “close”. At that point learning Latin seemed not so traitorous ;-)

    Now we Celts have “moved on” in the great potato famine flood of emigration to ‘the new world’ and all the Hispanics, Irish, and Italians are remixing all over the continents here. Canada, USA, Mexico, heck even down in Argentina and Chile. A large influx of all three (plus many others). Plus the admixture of modern-Goths (Germans, Swedes, Dutch, etc. etc.) much as in Central Europe. First spreading and differentiating in Europe 10,000 years ago, now remixing and de-differentiating in the New World. So it goes.

    With my kid’s generation the “bookkeeping” is going to be lost. At the point where you are measuring in 1/8 slices it just evaporates. ( I have about 1/8 French, but even at my level, it was only mentioned after a lot of nagging and only as an afterthought. IIRC my folks were only a little aware of it and not sure exactly how much, perhaps just a 1/16). At the grandkid’s level, that’s now a 1/32 to 1/64 and evaporates. Likely along with his 1/8 Amish. He’ll know of his English and Irish roughly 1/2 (me and spouse are both of both), his Dutch 1/4 and his Puerto Rican 1/4 (but even there, they are not sure what’s in that 1/4… the other Granddad is dark enough I suspect a touch of Africa, but maybe it’s just Spanish Moorish…) Most likely he will just self identify as an American / Hispanic mix and “move on”. My blond sister married a red head Scandinavian ancestry, but her daughter married an Italian / Hispanic and her kids have black hair and dark eyes. My brunette sister has a son with something like 1/4 American Indian… but he’s blond with blue eyes. We’re quite a collection of odd genetics now ;-)

  97. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting item about recent move by millennials to let computers do their investing.

    So if those Apps have any bugs or panic when certain situations occur does this trigger massive sell offs of all those accounts or other unhelpful market activity?

    Can those apps be manipulated (hacked) to milk certain stocks for profits?

  98. E.M.Smith says:


    Somewhere over 70% of all stock trades are already machine driven. This just extends it to ordinary folks. Doubt much will change.

  99. Another Ian says:



    A comment at

    March 4, 2016 at 1:10 pm · Reply

    Here is a good energy yarn for you, Tony:

    Inside the Cunning, Unprecedented Hack of Ukraine’s Power Grid

  100. E.M.Smith says:

    That power hack is creepy well done.

    Why I would never have Microsoft in a power system nor connect it to the internet, even indirectly. Two factor authentication like SecureID too. Looks like “have firmware in ROMS” goes on the list too…

  101. Larry Ledwick says:

    Wow impressive hack and also scary. Makes you wonder what hacks are pre-positioned in other infrastructures just waiting for someone to pull the trigger.

    On a slightly different note this just showed up on AP, wonder if this is how the Chinese intend to keep their industry sufficiently busy to avoid an economic collapse?

    One way to sell steel is to build ships and tanks etc.

  102. E.M.Smith says:

    To a central bank, gold is just a large PITA. Expensive and risky to store, hard to move to pay a debt, volatile value, and far far bulkier for gold bars than for bits in computer memory.

    Importance in a world of fiat currencies is near zero.

    Until your paper is worthless and you need exchange goods…

  103. Jon K says:

    I never really considered all the implications that banks have to face with the NIRP on the horizon.

  104. E.M.Smith says:

    @Jon K:

    The posting on Global Liquidity Trap is about just that. In a Liquidity Trap banks are trapped into excess liquidity. That is, they hold a lot of cash.

    One bit of finesse, due to fractional reserve banking, you only need about 5% of money supply (deposits) as cash in the vault. So you still have a cash shortage, just not as horrid. Also note that any “reserve currency” will do, and that includes Pounds $ Yen and increasingly Yuan. Oh, and Swiss Francs. So look for a global cash drain to develop as the EU goes to banking la-la land. IFF the ECB restricts cash available, boats full of $ will head over from select Latin American areas with a need to “convert” cash to deposits…

  105. Larry Ledwick says:

    Looks like another move on the chess board

  106. E.M.Smith says:

    Yes, that’s pretty much “spot on”.

    I find it amazing that both “helicopter money” and cries of “RACIST!!!” continue to have any backers. Hell, we’ve got Hispanic and Black Republicans in the race this year, yet it is somehow anti-hispanic and anti-black? Sheesh.

    It’s (as noted in the article) a pissed attitude toward those who style themselves “in charge”; from both sides. Bernie and Trump only differ in the solution, not the problem they see…

    The Public are ready to burn down all of it, and oil up the pitchforks, and the best that TPTB can muster is lame recycle of the Same Old Same Old. They have not effing clue. Light the torches…

    So we’re out voting our torches for Bernie and Trump. So be it.

  107. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting item here new species of bacteria that eats plastic. The more interesting question is this “really” a new species or an old species which has just acquired the ability to eat PET plastic?

    If it is demonstrably truly a new species it could answer the question about evolution and science never witnessing the formation of a new species.

    This is one of those restricted access WSJ articles that want you to subscribe to read the whole article, but generally if you google search for the titles and follow the google link you can see it without the subscription.
    ( google “New Species of Bacteria Eats Plastic” )

  108. E.M.Smith says:

    I would wager it is an ancient crude eating bacteria that found some free food. But why feed it to bacteria? The stuff burns like oil… call it fuel and move on… PET spun into fibres is Dacron. Melt the bottles and make clothes…

    The Article (vuew blocking is just soooo wrong…)

    New Species of Bacteria Eats Plastic
    Japanese researchers find Ideonella sakaiensis microbe can decompose PET
    On the left, Ideonella sakaiensis uses two enzymes to break down PET film. On the right, the bacteria has degraded the PET plastic. ENLARGE
    On the left, Ideonella sakaiensis uses two enzymes to break down PET film. On the right, the bacteria has degraded the PET plastic.
    Kat Long
    Updated March 10, 2016 3:29 p.m. ET

    Bacteria can gobble up oil spills, radioactive waste and, now, plastic. Researchers in Japan said they have discovered a species of microbe that eats PET, the polymer widely used in food containers, bottles and synthetic fibers.

    Some scientists have said the bacteria could help break down otherwise non-biodegradable debris in landfills or recycling plants.

    “We now have a chance to biologically degrade the widespread plastic PET,” said Uwe Bornscheuer, a biochemist at Greifswald University in Germany. “That is, of course, a major achievement.”

    But the digestive process is slow, he said, and further research is needed to determine how useful the bug might be against growing piles of plastic waste.

    Dr. Bornscheuer wrote a commentary on the Japanese study but wasn’t involved in the research. The study and the commentary appeared this week in the journal Science.
    More in Science

    Singing Duets May Keep Fairy-Wrens From Cheating on Their Partners March 2, 2016
    Gravitational Waves Detected, Verifying Part of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity Feb. 18, 2016
    Neanderthal DNA Linked to Modern Human Diseases Feb. 11, 2016

    Previous research has found only a few species of fungi with the ability to break down PET biologically. Shosuke Yoshida, a microbiologist at the Kyoto Institute of Technology, theorized that bacteria could also digest PET, and potentially help “solve the problem of the huge amount of plastic waste.”

    At a recycling plant, Dr. Yoshida and his team collected 250 samples of PET debris and discovered a host of different microbes living among the trash.

    The researchers screened the microbes to identify those that appeared to dine on PET, and subsequent biochemical testing showed that a single, new species, Ideonella sakaiensis, was responsible for decomposing the polymer.
    Plastic trash is dumped at the Mbeubeuss landfill in Dakar, Senegal. Scientists have identified a new strain of bacteria that can eat plastic. ENLARGE
    Plastic trash is dumped at the Mbeubeuss landfill in Dakar, Senegal. Scientists have identified a new strain of bacteria that can eat plastic. Photo: seyllou/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

    Adhered to a low-grade PET film, the bacteria used two enzymes to break down the plastic into two environmentally benign substances, which served as their main source of food.

    Dr. Yoshida said a colony of I. sakaiensis could completely degrade a low-grade plastic water bottle in six weeks. But, because most bottles are made of higher-grade PET, Yoshida said the plastic would need to be heated and cooled—cooking the bacteria’s dinner, in effect—to weaken it before bacteria could start eating.

    Dr. Bornscheuer suggested that the microbes could, in principle, be added to landfills to speed up decomposition. “The rate of degradation is rather slow, but it works,” he said. “This should be improved by further studies on this strain.”

    Rolf Halden, a professor and director of the Center for Environmental Security at Arizona State University, said a more likely application for the bacteria would be in reducing industrial waste during plastics manufacturing. He also suggested it would be difficult to apply the microbes to the large percentage of plastics now scattered throughout the environment.

    “The discovery of PET-devouring bacteria is encouraging scientific progress that should be flanked by replacing present-day plastics with greener, more sustainable alternative materials,” Dr. Halden said.

  109. Larry Ledwick says:

    Totally unrealted to recent topics but a fun example of a new look at an old problem.

  110. Another Ian says:


    U.S. Subprime Auto ABS Delinquencies Hit Highest Level Since 1996

  111. Larry Ledwick says:

    The best summary I have seen explaining what is going on it U.S. politics today. The pressure has been building for 40+ years, and the working class, the guys who believe in rule of law and fair play, The folks that just want to be left alone to live their life in peace, and who expect their government to think of them and America first in foreign relations have had their fill. One way or another the current political oligarchy is going to be flushed down the drain. If they are smart they will pick up their chips and quietly walk away from the table, but I fear that they are too self righteous to do that, and too self important to realize they have pushed too far for too long. PWP are coming if they double down — they should read this article and think long and hard about the closing comment.

  112. E.M.Smith says:


    While a lot of the ZeroHedge stuff is, IMHO, over the top and prone to collapse ideation… beyond any likelihood of an event; that particular article is pretty much accurate.

    He does leave out the organized attempt to destroy the US culture and economy (never forget that Soros makes money off of collapsing currencies and governments… and that Socialism needs Marx predicted workers revolt / revolution so hates a happy stable working class with money). But then again, his goal was not to write a 200 page text on comparative social / political systems and their demise…

    I’ve talked with several “ordinary folks” lately, many with college degrees and who you would think of as “nice old lady” or “soccer mom” or “polite left leaning college kid” and the general theme is that they have given up on The Elite actually ever fixing any of it; and they would be happier if the whole thing blows up and takes a restart as maybe then there would be some hope for change.

    Frankly, It is a bit scary to me. I’d rather have a quiet retirement in a stable retirement community clipping coupons and cashing Social Security checks… But it isn’t going to be my choice to decide what happens next. I find I don’t really care if Trump wins, and we make a good go at “Fixing It” (perhaps leavened with some graft and boots), or if Ted wins and we make a good go at “Fixing it” via a broken congress, or if Bernie wins and we take that long slow swan dive into Socialist Collapse (at least then it will be fully broken in under 8 years and the reset will be guaranteed). And on some dark days I don’t even care if Rubio / Kasich wins and TPTB-R get stuck with the collapse in under 8 years as the economy augers in; or if sHrillary wins and the end comes in 4 or less… with a TPTB-D label on it. There’s that point where it’s the end of the game between two teams you don’t care about and the clock is running down and it’s one goal to either side to win, or tie, and it just isn’t going to be playing in another hour, one way or the other… But the beer service has been shut off for an hour and you really just want it to be over.

    I suspect there are a lot of folks feeling that way. Looking for an end to the stupidity of it all.

    Oh Well…

    Oh, and I’d also expect a “passive resistance” phase before actual PWP start doing active things. I’m expecting to just hop on any “support” program I can find and stick a straw into the punch if things go pear shaped. Join the blood suckers instead of being drained.

  113. David A says:

    E.M, I will be in the SF bay area, San Mateo, on Thursday, and have time to drive down into the Valley if you might happen to be there. I would enjoy buying you a late lunch (2 pm ish) and meeting you in person if possible. I think that through your web you may have my email, so please reply if possible and you are still in the area.

  114. E.M.Smith says:

    @David A:

    I’ll send contact in email. I will likely be up near Shoreline Amphitheatre about then. Need to check with the spouse and what she has planned for me (to do…) that day.

  115. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes Zero Hedge, David Stockman and a couple others tend toward the extreme, but I find them useful alternative voices use them as down side bounding cases. The major media makes no effort to cover any of those possibilities and even actively talk down any such issues, so they in my mind serve a useful purpose to define the alternate of the happy talk. Reality is somewhere in between the happy talk and the voice of doom but once you know the possibilities it is for me easier to recognize some of the more subtle manifestations of economic down turn.

    For example over the last few decades I have developed a personal index of economic health I call the strip mall index (the small neighborhood strip malls). They are almost exclusively populated by start up small businesses, and seem to give a good indicator of where the economy is growing or retracting. When the economy is retracting you see an awful lot of empty strip malls for lease and going out of business sales. I just noticed a local strip mall a couple miles away, it only has two anchor businesses left all the other little shops are empty. Remaining businesses? A liquor store and a bar.

    When the economy is booming and turning around those little shops will quickly fill up with new start up businesses as people take a shot at their dream business. You see lots of grand openings and full parking lots in those small malls. They are sort of the canary in the coal mine for small business conditions for me.

    Like you I am of an age I just want to understand things well enough not to get blind sided at the end of my earning years and be able to anticipate economic problems well enough to avoid big mistakes and be relatively safe and secure. I am pretty much done jousting and windmills at this point and will leave the lost cause battles to those younger and more idealistic. I’ll just pull up a lawn chair over here under a tree and watch from the side lines.

  116. E.M.Smith says:


    Don’t forget to pop the cork on the “perspective adjuster” when in the lawn chair ;-)

    (A neighbor and I actually do that. Lawn chairs on his front yard. Bottle. Sunset. World in chaos. Rather relaxing and the conversation is good ;-)

    Yes, I use things like Russia Today and Al Jazeera in the same way. Listen to all voices, reality is somewhere inside those bounds. FWIW, I like ZeroHedge and read their articles sometimes. But treat it like the perma-bears. It will be right every so often, and wrong a lot (but you can see right from there…) Like Marc Faber ( ) who is always predicting a terrible crash Real Soon Now. There may well be, but in the 9 years until you get to it you can make a lot of money on the long side by not “fighting the Fed”…

    The trick is knowing when they are right, and ignoring their worst ranting when an overwhelming force is opposed to them.

    Frankly, right now is one of those moments for me. Is it the case that Negative Interest Rates from global Central Banks spells Doom In Our Time!!!! or is the Modern Economic Theory correct that a sovereign can print all they want and never go bust? Nobody knows. It is unexplored territory financially. So I listen to the perma-bears and try to weigh what they say against the rest.

    For my money, it’s about 60-40 odds that the Central Banks have embraced an idiot fantasy and we’re all headed off the cliff in a catastrophe of debt. Time will tell. I give it about 6 to 8 more years to explode, or not. If I’m “lucky” I’ll live long enough to see the answer but not so long as to experience any negative consequences ;-) Oddly, I suspect many of the Political Class and the global Central Bankers are having the very same thoughts…

  117. Larry Ledwick says:

    People who predict doom forget we are immersed in an adaptive system. Lots of people paddling like crazy under water to try to avoid the negative consequences. The result of that is pretty significant tide flow that fights the predictions of doom. That results in things like Japan which by rights should have imploded years ago but they keep hanging on by their fingernails and struggling to stay afloat.

    In 1929 we had the same sort of corporate buy back activity going on as major businesses bought back their own stock to hold up prices. It worked for a while right up until they ran out of money and pissed away their fortune trying to bail out a leaky boat with a tea cup.

    Like you I suspect the final bill will come due a lot later than folks expect and may be in the form of a long term stagnation like in Japan, but I also expect that sooner or later somebody like Venezuela will lose their grip on things and there will be a lot of broken china as things go south. (hmm maybe that is a double entendre – broken china — china goes broke? )

  118. David A says:

    E.M.; thanks, let me know, I have some flexibility.

  119. Larry Ledwick says:

    Related observations on Trump, Love the closing comments about apple pie, eagles, flags etc.

    It will be interesting to see if this checks out over time, and also if his ability to befuddle the opposition and the media is actually intentional or instinctual communications style.

  120. David A says:

    Mr. Smith, FYI my schedule has opened a bit for Thursday. I am taking my wife to SFSU dental (graduate student does the work with surgical professor for far less then my current dental charges, even with insurance, and so far better work) She has to work with three billing departments so I need to drop her off by 11:30 am, and can be in your area with 45minutes if you are available. happy to take your wife to lunch as well.

    Cheers. David A

  121. E.M.Smith says:

    Spouse is working tomorrow, so I’m headed up to Mountain View with car about then. I’ll send phone number and we can find a place. If nothing else, Castro Street is full of places.

  122. Larry Ledwick says:

    Rolls-Royce proposing assembly line manufactured SMR (small modular reactors) as a cost effective solution to big power plants, using spin off technology from Nuclear Submarine designs.

  123. Larry Ledwick says:

    File this one under — “it wasn’t supposed to do that” financial advice.

  124. Another Ian says:


    Black hat file material?

    “David Maddison
    March 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm · Reply

    UK smart meters saved from mass hack attack.

    From comments at

  125. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    I made a comment on some site about that meter hack risk. Pointed out that “black hats” was only one of the worries and that knowing your hour by hour power usage tells a LOT about how many people, who is at home when, what you do, etc.

    Also noted that NO appliance of mine will EVER have an internet connection to allow external control and that I’m ready to install a signal isolation / battery charger / battery box / inverter between my machines and the power plug should I feel the need to a) block power line based communications systems or b) mask Time Of Day power consumption or c) cope with black / brown out schedules.

    “Smart Meters” are only for the purposes of remote controlling your life or spying on you. I have no need for either. Just Say No. (Or build a box to do it for you ;-)

    Per the Hedge Fund losses:

    There’s a reason I’m sitting in cash right now. It’s a long term top, with a short term rebound, to a fast term slow down, into a Fed Jitters with Global Crap. All driven by political news and global Central Bank Chicken Littles.

    It just isn’t possible to “have clue” at the moment and trading is high risk, so I’m sitting out. I did think about a ‘counter trend long’ at the “dip” we were in, and stated at the time that was a high risk strategy. Now, with price back at the SMA stack, it’s suicidal to go long. Yet “short” runs dead into The Fed and Friends.

    So a nice cool beer, dig in the garden, watch some old B&W Movies. Life is good. Zero risk.

    I’ll come back to the markets later when they make more sense, some of the Central Bank and Geopolitical Risk is off the table, and I’m bored with sunshine and beer ;-)

  126. Another Ian says:


    Another Bill on economics emailed.

  127. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting little item on intelligence, happiness, population density and number of friends.

  128. Larry Ledwick says:

    Latest news in the Apple phone crack case.

    Now the debate turns to who offered the crack? Was it McAffee? or NSA?
    Or is this misdirection to plant the seed in the public domain that they have access to these phones to force the bad guys to look some where else for encryption?

    It could be that they decided the down sides of stirring the pot for encryption back doors were worse than the actual loss of some data, or that they decided to go to the real experts rather than in house FBI resources and went to CIA, NSA or some top white hat hackers. They might have realized that once the case gets into court they might have to divulge info that they would rather not about what they can and cannot crack or possibly that they have never gotten any absolutely critical info from the phones that they could not replace from signal intelligence data already captured by other agencies. Once they know the sim ID and phone number of the phone, they should be able to pull up data on every call made from their data archive.

    The plot thickens.

  129. E.M.Smith says:

    One news source had the NSA canvassing congress asking the membrrs to support Apple if possible, or stay quiet. I’d suspect the NSA has a fancy trick. Perhaps a big tape recorder with all traffic on it, as is their charter…

  130. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    That was a Trumpish hoot :-)


    Perhaps it is just that smart folks get tired of being called idiots, strange, defective, or evil for stating the truth others can not see… and being constantly asked to explain obvious things and asked to do things for folks they ought to learn themselves… or being either treated to hostility or ostracism for not blindly accepting stupid things (just say “global warming is bunk” in the average social circle…) or being given a dirty look and remarks for being a “smarty pants”, or being disinvited to parties or events during a round up of most of the folks arround you, or being tired of explaining your jokes and THEN needing to explain the words used in the joke explanation and THEN getting The Offended Look and being accused of talking down to folks for trying to help them understand. Or…

    After a while you learn that most people are painful… and cherish the few who are not…

    It isn’t the quantity of interactions that make us happy, it is the quality…

  131. Larry Ledwick says:

    Agreed pretty much my experience. Only a handful of people that I can sit down with and carry on a free ranging discussion that starts out with the cost of getting a package in orbit, takes a brief detour into the impact of steam engines on technology and end up talking about high tech coatings on engines and all parties are comfortable with the journey. They could be listed on my fingers until I found your blog. Now I can get a free range brain trip any time I want to and not deal with the obtuse or the just plain stupid of most people. It is so refreshing to find people who are not afraid to say “Gee I don’t know” or “I wonder if”

    Thanks for creating a portal to that sort of mental work out gym!

  132. E.M.Smith says:

    My pleasure, really!

    One of the experiences I like the most is running into a fellow traveler where we share maybe 3 topics, then on 4 & 5 do a mutual understanding dump and both walk away with all 5… I love those times when I get to say something like “I don’t know what that is, please explain.” Most of the time I have to do it by myself, like the “data dive” on Laves phase metals. A “what is that?” moment, then dive in instead of running away from knowing so as not to get The Look from the uninsterested.

  133. E.M.Smith says:

    Brussels bombed at airport and subway. News on all tv news channels.

  134. p.g.sharrow says:

    Scientists at the University of Southampton are working on a form of digital data storage that can survive for billions of years. The team used nanostructured glass to develop the recording and retrieval processes of five dimensional (5D) digital data by femtosecond laser writing.
    The team is now looking for industry partners to help further develop and commercialize the new technology…pg

  135. Larry Ledwick says:

    Just posting this here for future reference:
    Muslim friendly news crew attacked by Muslim mob while trying to do a pro-muslim feature.

  136. Larry Ledwick says:

    What happens to a species which has spent 2.5 million years adapting to daily physical labor and the use of a big brain to plot how best to accomplish that labor when it has very little need for physical labor and almost all wage earning jobs are mental jobs like programing, engineering, dispatching, management etc. and the jobs which do still require manual labor are reduced to rent a slave jobs like stacking bags of dog food?

    Our entire culture and concept of how to earn a living will undergo a complete over haul in the next 50 – 100 years, as ever smarter machines take over much of our work.

    Will we drop back to a craftsman economy where people are willing to pay handsomely for a hand made rocking chair or a hand forged knife or will we become a culture obsessed with recreation to get our physical activity, or devolve in to self transportable brains with no physical strength beyond what is needed to feed ourselves and transport our body to the bathroom.

    This will be an interesting shift in how our entire culture functions, not sure I want to go to a total automation economy.

  137. Larry Ledwick says:

    Related to the above:

    What happens when you have a fully automated helicopter in combat?
    Will the software be smart enough to adapt on the fly (pun intended) or will each successive flight follow the exact same flight path right up to the point it runs into the manpad missile.
    Shades of the B-52 missions in Vietnam where successive bombing runs followed identical approach patterns and made life easy for the NVA gunners and sam operators. Great for non-hostile resupply operations, but going to be a problem in combat.

  138. Larry Ledwick says:

    Related to above:
    Don’t get me wrong I don’t advocate freezing the world in place or going back to manually loading trucks with a line of ants of workers loading boxes. What I am commenting on is that the rate of change is rapidly overtaking the ability of culture to adapt. It take years or decades for a fundamental change in operations style to echo through the culture and all the little tweaks and fudge factors to be rearranged to get things settled in so the work force is comfortable with the changes.

    For example the sudden rush of women into the work force starting in the 1970’s and 1980’s is only now becoming the norm in all layers of the working society, and even here we still have segments which are still adapting.

    These changes as automation takes over low skill tasks will have unintended consequences. We are already seeing this in things like fast food, car washes, self serve terminals for vending, online ordering of products etc. Many of the jobs being replaces were entry level jobs where kids just out of school first learned about the work place culture. Things like taking responsibility for actions, the impact or calling in sick on your coworkers, planning ahead, seeing a larger picture than the isolated task at hand etc.

    Where will young workers get those skills, lessons and experience?

  139. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting little item on money laundering scams using China as the washing machine.

  140. David A says:

    Larry say, “What I am commenting on is that the rate of change is rapidly overtaking the ability of culture to adapt.”
    That, IMV, is the legitimate question regarding automation. In principle in a free capitalistic society jobs and work are as numerous as the desires of humans, or practically limitless. Therefore when all necessities are manufactured more efficiently and cheaply, then there is more time for “other” pursuits, and no reason it cannot work very effectively, much better then now, just as now is much better then before the industrial revolution.

    However I am open to discussion of the dual problem of technological change happening to fast, and government exasperating this greatly by limiting the ability of culture to adapt though inhibiting enterprise.

  141. Pingback: Tips – March 2016 | Musings from the Chiefio

  142. E.M.Smith says:

    As this thread has gotten long in the last 3 months, the new tips thread is at:

    where the discussions will “carry on” ;-)

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