Tips – September 2017

About “Tips”:

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

Making money, usually via trading
Weather and climate (“Global Warming” & “Climate Change”)
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 to you, put a “tip” here as you like.

If there is a current Hot Topic for active discussion, try one of the Weekly Occasional Open Discussion pages 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.

The History:

Note that “pages” are the things reached from links on the top bar just under the pretty picture. “Postings” are reached from the listing along the right side of any given article (posting).

Since WordPress has decided that comments on Pages, like the Old Tips Pages, won’t show up in recent comments, it kind of breaks the value of it for me. In response, I shifted from a set of “pages” to a set of “postings”. As any given Tips Posting gets full, I’ll add a new one.

I have kept the same general format, with the T page (top bar) still pointing to both the archive of Tips Pages as well as the series of new Postings via a link to the TIPS category.

This is the next posting from prior Tips postings 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. The Tips category (see list at right) marks Tips postings for easy location.

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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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87 Responses to Tips – September 2017

  1. jim2 says:

    Some Realtek I/O chips have I/O pins that are programatically configurable. This means a hacker can remotely reconfigure your tablet or laptop speakers as microphones. I took out my tablet mic, but not sure if I want to remove the speakers or disconnect them.

    See section “4.1 Input/Output unit” in

  2. E.M.Smith says:


    Oh God. I had no idea they had made the audio so “flexible”. Looks like retasking isn’t exactly kid stuff, but not that hard either:

    so the only question is does your particular Realtek chip have what it takes to use a speaker as a microphone. (i.e. low impedance as input device, necessary power levels, ability to sense a low impedance coil as a microphone) and are your speakers suited to the job (i.e. how to do it with coil speakers I know, but if these are piezoelectric speakers? I’m not sure how to do that… but can see that it ought to work – sound wiggles crystal creating signal, just amp it up…)

    Or just enroll in an Israeli University…

    Feel “Safe”, Your Headphones Can Be Used As A Microphone To Spy On You

    The malware uses “3.5mm audio jack” to spy on you.
    November 24, 2016

    Short Bytes: Researchers at the Ben Gurion University, Israel, have created a malware, called Speake(a)r, to exploit a feature on Realtek codec chips. They can use a pair of headphones to record sound and send it to the laptop using the audio output jack.

    For a while, you can convince yourself that your earphones don’t have a mic at the first place, so, there is no scope for such things. But you’ll be happy to know that a new proof-of-concept malware Speake(a)r, developed by Isreali researchers at the Ben Gurion University, uses the speakers of your earphones as microphones to record the voice around them.


    A number of DIY hacks show how to convert an earphone into speakers. But, in this research, the researcher actually use the audio output jack on your laptop as an input jack.

    In order to throw out music, the membrane in the earphones vibrates according to the signals it receives from your device. The reverse can be done in which the membrane takes vibrations from its surroundings which are converted into signals. The malware Speake(a)r uses a lesser-known feature (or vulnerability) called jack retasking on Realtek codec chips – these are found on most of the laptops and desktops running Windows, MacOS, and other operating systems.

    The researchers are trying to exploit the same vulnerability on other chips as well. For testing, they used a pair of Sennheiser headphones and found that the sound could be captured from as far as 20 feets. Now, that’s frightening.

    For them, it looks like “Been there, done that, got the T shirt”…

    And folks wonder why I have a computer with NO attached speakers or microphones for my Daily Driver… (As the tablet is generally only used “on the road” and folks would pick up Starbucks background chatter and coffee slurp sounds; or when I’m all alone watching TV on it so nothing to hear BUT the TV channel in question, I’m willing to ‘risk it’…) BUT, I think I’ll be a bit more circumspect about leaving it on the coffee table, even IF powered off, while talking to friends at Starbucks…

    Like I’ve said a few times: I’ll most likely make my next tablet myself. WITH hardware switches on any I/O device… and battery. No “soft switches” need apply.

    Good catch, though. H/T Jim2!

  3. tom0mason says:

    I’m sure few here will be easily taken in by the scammers but could you pass the message on to those you feel may be taken in —
    Even worse than the disaster that was hurricane Harvey is the number of scammers trying to make money from the awful events. As Krebs on security has it in Beware of Hurricane Harvey Relief Scams (at ) if you wish to donate —

    The FTC also warns consumers not to assume that a charity message posted on social media is a legitimate, and urges folks to research the organization before donating by visiting charity evaluation sites such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, GuideStar, or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. The agency also reminds people who wish to donate via text message to confirm the number with the source before you donate.

    krebsonsecurity site includes links to these charity evaluation sites.
    No doubt the scammers are readying themselves for the generous but misinformed to donate to them with the latest disasters.
    Is there no depths to which soulless scammers will sink?

  4. philjourdan says:

    Speaking of scammers, have you heard that the Equifax hackers are trying to sell the information back?

    They do not sound very smart. No one in their right mind would pay.

  5. Steve C says:

    That sound chip hack is a bit of an eye opener. I note too that the Realtek data sheet referenced dates all the way back to 2006, which makes me wonder for how long this “feature” has been quietly used by TLAs and other “usual suspects”. Fortunately, anyone trying it on me would only find thenselves listening to an op-amp input, as I don’t “re-purpose” my connections.

    I was looking recently at a pair of quite decent active loudspeakers (KEF X300A), which can accept input from 3.5mm line input jack, USB or wireless network (in order of increasing priority). All very technological and impressive, but I can’t help feeling that having something identified as a decent pair of speakers attached to your home network leaves you just the tiniest bit a hostage to fortune, should “someone out there” find a way in …

    Between this sound chip hack and EM’s post about six months ago on the secret parallel system in your modern PC, I don’t think I really trust *any* digital tat any more. EM, if you can find the time sometime to put up an article on setting up something trustworthy (like Devuan) on generic ancient PCs from the pre-creepy era, it would be very much appreciated!

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Steve C:

    That’s what the R. Pi m3 and Odroid postings are about. They have more power than the ancient PCs have anyway, and are minus the worst of the TLA intrusion Management Engine crap.

    For an old PC, it will be hard to get decent performance out of Devuan. Possible, but not easy. The problem is drivers. As the kernel moves forward, old “useless” drivers are dropped and newer ones for new hardware added. (Why I have a near canonical archive of crappy old releases ;-) Since Devuan is a new fork, it will not have been developed against the old libraries, kernel, etc. of the old releases just like the old drivers will not be ported to the newest libraries and kernel. Might be easy, maybe not. But it will change with your particular hardware…

    Now I do have a couple of old PCs laying around and “someday” I’ll give it a try just to see, but really, that Pi M3 will beat them, and the Odroid C2 by a long shot. Remember I did a speed comparison of an old Asus Antek 64 bit box and the Pi M3 Pi M2 and they were a match? That from a 64 bit machine with a modestly new chip set. Going back to the old Pentiums will be much worse…

    Update: I went looking for the article and it was a comparison of a Pi M2 vs the 64 bit “ANTEK box using an ASUS motherboard with an AMD Sempron 3200 @1.8 GHZ CPU ( 64 bit) in it and with a SATA disk drive” and the result was: “So on an actual wall time basis, the RPiM2 is 4/3 the speed of that AMD 64 bit CPU. Golly.”

    Now the Pi M3 is 1200/700 faster than the M2 (and you might get more in 64 bit mode) and the Odroids are a few times faster than that…

    So my recommendation would be to find an Odroid you like (given my list of what makes them go, or not, on my trials – like the C1 doesn’t like DVI / HDMI adapters) and just use it. The XU4 seems to still be using the main CPU for video compositing (or something else is slowing down window drags) but is working OK with my DIV / HDMI adapter and did take a Devuan “upgrade” just fine. The C2 seems to be handling things the best, now that I’ve found a hybrid OS to put on it, but it’s not done the Devuan swap yet. IF you have a real HDMI display, the C1 seems to be fine. In any case, the $35 Pi M3 is faster than the 1.8 GHz single core 64 bit box that cost me $75 discounted used at the “junk store”… so I’m not really seeing the value in “going there”…

    I’m going to put Devuan on my old boxes mostly just to play with them. For them, the Red Hat 7.2 is so ancient I can’t install newer browsers and the browser tech has moved to where without it you can’t see any web pages… So they are OK for compute nodes, but not much interactive with the internet… unless I move to a newer, far far fatter, OS. (The old versions run in 64 MB, the newer ones want a GB… so that’s going to be a problem unless you compile your own with low mem settings…)

    Let’s just say it’s a Developer Experiment more than a Desktop Solution… and buy the Odroid…

  7. jim2 says:

    If your device uses a POA (Plain Ole Amplifier) between the sound source and speaker, you are OK. These are sometimes called “active” amplifiers. Like a good ole triode amplifier or a sole-purposed discrete transistor or IC amplifier – one that has no provision to make the output terminal an input. You can only look at the speaker schematic to find out.

    A laptop user might be OK with hauling around a small amplifier and external speaker, after having removed the mic and on-board speakers, but I’m betting most tablet/smart phone users wouldn’t. I’m probably going to do a speaker-ectomy on my tablet at some point. I don’t use audio except at home (as opposed to the doctors office, say), so I would be good with that I think.

  8. Steve C says:

    @EM – Hmm, thanks for that quick answer, although it wasn’t quite what I’d hoped for. I’ll have to re-visit your referenced post of a couple of years ago (and since). Per speed, I’m not too bothered (most of my 1GHz+ boxes are salvage, therefore “The Right Price”, which is why I want to recycle them. Hell, I’m a tech, and I hate throwing away any stuff that still works perfectly well).

    Driver and browser problems hadn’t really occurred to me, even though my favourite browser Pale Moon gave up on XP ages ago. Drivers less unexpected – I put CrunchBang++ onto a new drive in a laptop a while back, only to find that the new OS was asking me to install new firmware in the wireless chip – which would probably bugger it up for the manufacturer’s original OS. Pro tem, I left it as was, with its XP, and it can stay that way until something kills the Windows – same for the un-networked Media Machine, where the old OS talks to the old h/w quite happily.

    The main snag I’d face with going Odroid/Pi would be having to replace (£££) most of my monitors with HDMI ones, as all are VGA at present and HDMA>VGA adaptors seem to be relatively few and limited. (plus, Maplin Electronics sell VGA extension leads 30m long, which seems a heck of a length for a video cable!) I’d quite like to replace the whirring fan of the media machine with the eerie silence of a fanless board, mind, for obvious reasons – I have a nice “domestic style” teak sleeve which would hold that plus a DVD drive etc. and make a very “domesticated” looking item, plus I’m thinking in terms of going 12V anyhow because of the UK’s imminent power failures. I’ll continue to keep an eye on the “little boards” posts.

    @jim2 – Your points re the inconvenience aspect all agreed – check out the weight of those KEFs! My thought on them was, imagine: It’s 2am in your bedroom when suddenly your networked speakers burst into life with a fanfare and a declaration from someone with a heavy foreign accent that “all your files are belong to him”. I know if I were one of the beggars who do that sort of thing I’d find it irresistable … Oh, I’m sure we’ll have such fun when the Internet of Things turns into the Insurrection of Things …

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Per audio reversal hacks:

    If your computer has an earphone jack, you can make a simple dummy load plug. 8 ohm resistor soldered between leads. As traditional jacks have a physical disable of the speaker circuit, you have removed it from use. The resistor being non-responsive to sound is immune.

    Even my Samsung tablet has an earphone jack….

    @Steve C.:

    OK, got it, you are a tech sort. In that case, I suggest trying a FreeBSD installation. Runs well on PCs. Very secure. Much less bloat ridden. NO SystemD. Efficient. The only real negative is that it expects you to be technical and know your stuff well, so a small PITA on things like X config and GUI set up options The build system is great and near as I can tell they don’t toss out old drivers much. (The are slower about adopting new fads and tech though). Does no handholding.

    BSD is my “Go To” OS for industrial servers or fully secured systems. Just expect first install to take twice as long and configuration to take a few days to get it right. Once you have it set up as you like it, copies and updates are way easy.

    Works best for server stuff. Does GUI Desktop and media if you fool around with the configuration enough. (I.e. line command installation and DIY GUI parameter fiddling common). There are some preconfigged GUI flavors out there, but you need to check they are configured for your hardware (mostly big box PCs, so laptops and ARM boards a challenge).

    FWIW, last computer I threw away was a 100 MHz Pentium white box PC and a Hitachi laptop with 16 MB memory where the hardware died. (I had it set up as a router with monitor screen…) I generally dispose hardware when it fails…. not before. Thus my intense interest in small OS sizes and efficient systems.

    I’m supposed to clean up the office this week, and that involves touching the old PCs, so we’ll see if I can toss a newer Linux at one of them. I’ve treated them as deep backups (just do not scrub the disk and stuff it in the closet…) but as I now have TB disks with the image on them, keeping a whole PC for the 10 GB disk of old crap seems inefficient ;-) it is time for them to move on, so maybe installing a new OS is a nice scrub. Biggest issue is that several of the CD drives have failed, so some of these have no way to load a new OS. That’s part of why I was playing with PXE Boot. They are pre-USB too… mostly.

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    Hmmmm Amazon seem to have a lot of VGA HDMI adapters cheap… (no idea on function or issues. Just a quick check as I have some VGA only monitors too)

    BTW, 30 m monitor cables are good for racks of machines in the computer room and monitors in the operations room… I’ve used ’em… (Why not just remote terminal? Reboots, OS install, crash recovery, forensics, etc…)

  11. Larry Ledwick says:

    New wind map site I just found that has lots of neat additional features.
    For example you can select what pressure altitude you want to view the wind vectors at (lower right side of display).

  12. Larry Ledwick says:

    Another major problem for internet of things. A self spreading bluetooth attack.

    Question do the wireless mice and keyboards with the little wifi usb plugin dongle, are they using bluetooth protocol?

  13. Larry Ledwick says:

    According to a couple search results bluetooth mice are uncommon on the windows side but bluetooth is used a lot by mac.

  14. Larry Ledwick says:

    Year round snow field in the Sierras (not a glacier until it gets deep enough to compact into ice and begin to flow due to its mass).

    Looks like the heavy snows this winter were sufficient to pass the threshold in favorable locations for snow fall to persist into the next snow season. Now all we need is a good snowfall to cover it and begin the build up process.

  15. David A says:

    Larry, bit early I think for Squaw, or any it the Sierras. Squaw is only 9,000′ elevation. Mammoth may be a better location at 11,059′. Of course there are many other areas

  16. David A says:

    …in the Sierra higher and more sheltered. Sometime in October will give us a better idea. BTY, Mammoth, with 50′ plus on the ground and melt freeze undoubtedly had or has thick ice at the base from one season. You can often see the blue layer forming on the edge of sheer out croppings.

  17. Larry Ledwick says:

    Those look to be heat shimmer to me, due to sporadic outputs of very hot vapor that happens to be transparent. Much like the heat shimmer you observe looking across the roof of a car in parked in the sun. Keep in mind the satellite is looking downward through a rising plume of hot air which spreads as it rises giving that ripple in a pond appearance.

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting summary of recent events and changes in the world.
    U.S. National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster
    Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster speech on current events

  19. llanfar says: – covers outcomes on the PURE study, and details how little we know about salt intake…

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m on a Macbook right now. It has a trackpad. Friend has a desktop Apple and it has a wireless mouse, I think. Pretty much user choice IIRC wired or not. I used a wireless mouse with Windows on a contract a while back. Don’t know the percentages, but I think it’s more user than vendor driven. Macs will have more folks wanting the ‘way cool wireless’…

    Bigger question for me is wireless headsets. We already know speakers can be microphones…

    I already leave Bluetooth off when not needed just to save battery.

    I think the dedicated Dongles for KB & Mouse are not Bluetooth. At least I’ve not seen them show up in my bluetooth listings when looking to activate a device, so the OS isn’t seeing them. Might be the same basic low power radio tech, but with the identifier scrambled to not show to bluetooth.

    Per Glaciers:

    Weather reports were for snow in the north west in the next few days…. Just sayin’…. Melt may not run into October this year. I was rained on here 2 days ago. VERY early.

  21. Larry Ledwick says:

    This is going to be interesting to see if this pans out or becomes just a giant money pit.

    I am not sure the Denver metropolis along the Front range from Cheyenne to Pueblo has enough population density to justify this project. The one saving grace to a hyperloop is that being an enclosed system it will be immune to bad weather so snow storms and such will not hamper travel on the system (great for skiers going to vail from DIA). Same for during blizzard conditions in the winter time, but those are really so rare here that the only selling point most of the time will be the short travel time.

    I suspect however that the energy costs required to keep the transit tubes pumped down to a low enough pressure will be higher than expected and what happens if a tube shuttle derails inside the tube and suddenly decompresses? All problems that need to be dealt with in an operational system which is basically a very large scale subway that must have near vacuum pressures in the tubes during transit.

  22. Larry Ledwick says:

    From twitter
    Ryan Maue‏Verified account @RyanMaue 23h23 hours ago

    Now almost 50-years of global hurricane data. No trends in frequency in number of named storms or those that reach hurricane-force

  23. tom0mason says:


    The earth is venting freely but none too violently currently.

  24. Larry Ledwick says:

    This is getting ugly quickly

    Apparently Imran downloaded huge amounts of data to drop box from the DNC. This may be a much bigger story than everyone thinks it is.

  25. Larry Ledwick says:

    In the distant past we we have talked about ancient technology that is forgotten or unknown in modern society. We also discussed using radiative cooling to make ice in the desert by allowing a shallow pan of water to have a clear view of the night sky so that the water in the pan freezes by morning.

    I just stumbled across this item, and did not know this technology used in ancient desert civilizations to preserve ice from the cold months into the summer months.

    Seems harvesting ice and covering it with sawdust in underground storage rooms is not unique to northern Europe.

    It would be interesting to find more info on the actual methods used to insulate the ice they made during the winter months.

  26. jim2 says:

    “The building allows cold air to pour in from entries at the base of the structure and descend to the lowest part of the yakhchāl, large underground spaces up to 5,000 m3 (180,000 cu ft) in volume. ”

    So where did this cold are come from in the Summer?

  27. p.g.sharrow says:

    Hot,energetic molecules rise because they take up more space,become less dense. Colder less energetic ones sink, as they become more dense, take up less space. The “window” of deep space IIRC is minus 268defrees F, so any still air that is cool and exposed can lose energy enough to freeze water at night.

    Up on the border of California and Oregon there is a area of old volcanic tubes that are full of ice. They in an area of high desert, about 4000 feet ground elevation called the Devils Garden. Air temperatures exceed 100F in the summer, below 0F in the winter. Ground frost can happen most any night because of the very dry air and clear night skies…pg.

  28. cdquarles says:

    Well, strictly speaking, per the kinetic theory of gases, gases don’t sink such that gravitational fractionation occurs. What they do is move on the order of 1km/sec at standard temperatures and pressures. Gas moving straight up against gravity loses KE (cools, since the definition of a thermodynamic temperature is that T is the geometric mean of the KE of a defined sample of matter and *only* its KE), which becomes PE. The greater mass of a particle for a given KE simply means that it moves slower. Given a fixed volume, the faster a gas is moving, the less mass will be found within that volume. Conversely, given that same fixed volume, the slower a gas is moving, the more mass will be found within that volume. Gas moving straight down gains KE (heating it, since the definition of a thermodynamic temperature is the geometric mean of a defined sample’s internal KE) and loses PE. Remember, a gas atom or molecule is in free flight within the Earth’s gravitational field. While in flight, it is ‘weightless’, until it hits something.

    Also, given that the thermodynamic temperature is a statistical statement about a sample of matter’s KE, outer space is ‘hot’, for the very tiny amount of matter per cubic unit is moving very rapidly. Still, since the amount of matter is so small, it does not contain much ‘heat’ (total KE) because that matter fills a very large volume.

    So, keep it in mind that gases do not behave exactly like condensed forms (liquids and solids).

  29. jim2 says:

    But the Yakhchāls aren’t deep and open to space at the top – they are enclosed with some holes at various places, depending on the specific design. “Cold” would have to be cold enough to maintain ice, not just that the bottom air is cold relative to the top air. If these things worked that well, shelter in the desert wouldn’t be a problem.

  30. p.g.sharrow says:

    Strictly speaking, the kinetic theory of gases does not match the real behavior of gases under conditions of gravity. I will put my 50plus years of refrigeration and air handling experience against any theorist.
    Gravity warps the atomic dielectric of everything within it’s influence. This causes acceleration towards the center of gravitation and sorting by density in all fluids, gases or liquids.
    I am well aware of theories of KE & PE. This is caused by changes in packing density of energy. We are back to measuring “temperature” in a volume of fluid, gas or liquid. As you increase the density of energy in a given volume it’s measurable “temperature” increases, even if the energy levels or “temperature” of the molecules in it do not change…pg

  31. p.g.sharrow says:

    I once created a cold locker for fruit storage. Part of the specializations was that it would hold apples and oranges for 6 months undamaged. In operation water in a bucket on the floor froze, while on the shelves it would not, and the cooling coils remained clear of frost.
    The Yakhchals actually have some venting in their tops to allow warmth to escape, while creating “ponding” of cold in their below ground base. Quality of insulation and cold mass is the key here. “venting” energy on cold nights and preventing heating on hot days. Once they are filled with cold Ice in the winter, they tend to preserve it through the summer….pg

  32. jim2 says:

    Yes, I think the primary mode of functionality was basically insulation. Venting off hot air would help, but that alone wouldn’t maintain ice.

  33. E.M.Smith says:


    Given their pay rate, I suspect they had been working some kind of subtile blackmail … and got very non-subtile once things got rocky.

    The “blame the Russians” also leans that way, as folks would want a cover story to avoid being exposed as blackmail victims and having their email in court… showing their bad deeds.

    It could just be what it seems. Disgruntled employees take revenge on firing and Democrats trying to dirty up the Trump / Putin relationship… but I think there’s a lot more there…

  34. Larry Ledwick says:

    This is a link to a VOA interview with the former head of the CIA, I take it as “off the record” confirmation that the CIA believes North Korea has an orbital nuclear weapon on their satellite (or at least thinks it is technically possible).

    It will be interesting to see if the Media pick this up, or it just is a quiet voice from the dark that gets ignored by the majority of outlets.

  35. jim2 says:

    Don’t know if this is a tip, WOOD, or neither but …

    The links to the animated SST maps are broken and I can’t find them. I wanted to see the latest hurricane tracks in the Gulf and Atlantic. It appears the site may be under reorganization. But if anyone know of any other animated SST products of those regions, I would appreciate it.

  36. E.M.Smith says:


    It is big enough, and continental EMP would be attractive to the nutjob…

    “He did not give a figure for the weight of the latest satellite, but South Korean officials have put it at 200-kg (440-lb).”

  37. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yep I have already done that math, the payload weight of that satellite is well within the acceptable range for a working device, I just thought it mighty interesting that an official Government news source and someone with the experience/connections to know, would be confirming that possibility.

    Of course you have to ask is this misdirection to justify future actions or legitimate info being intentionally passed to those who have the smarts to recognize the significance of the disclosure.

    Since we are talking about Nuclear stuff also saw this item this morning which discusses recent US warhead fuse upgrades. They of course are saying it is a destabilizing development rather than a breakthrough in efficient utilization of existing warheads. I also find it interesting that the anti-nuclear folks have such detailed info on our systems. Maybe it is just that they know where to look to find the public releases of this sort of information.

  38. Larry Ledwick says:

    Related to the NK satellite issue


    As you can see below the US W80 warhead is remarkably similar to the North Korean design (at least in terms of total yield energy and similar in package size and appearance as well (see image)

    The W80 is a small thermonuclear warhead (fusion or, more descriptively, two-stage weapon) in the U.S. enduring stockpile with a variable yield of between 5 and 200 kt of TNT.
    The W80 is physically quite small: the “physics package” itself is about the size of a conventional Mk.81 250-pound (110 kg) bomb, 11.8 inches (30 cm) in diameter and 31.4 inches (80 cm) long, and only slightly heavier at about 290 pounds (130 kg).

    Armorers have the ability to select the yield of the resulting explosion in-flight, a capability referred to as variable yield. The minimum yield, perhaps using just the boosted fission primary, is around 5 kilotons of TNT; the highest yield is equivalent to around 150 kt.

    The North Korean device is a very similar external shape but obviously physically larger which is entirely reasonable given they have not had time to optimize the design yet. Given weight goes up at the cube of the physical dimension it likely weighs about 4x what the W80 did or about 1000 –
    2400 pounds in this version pictured which apparently had an explosive yield of 160 – 250 kt which is substantially larger than necessary for a super EMP device since one of its design characteristics would be a light weight construction to minimize internal absorption of prompt neutrons and gamma.

  39. jim2 says:

    @David A says:
    17 September 2017 at 11:57 pm

    Maybe I missed something, but I didn’t see an animated SST map. If you look at the animation I linked, to the far right you can see a couple of typhoons – yellow against red. The animated version is cool as you can see the path as the storm moves across the surface of the ocean.

  40. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting article on the nuke fuse, but in an era where we can put a cruse missile through a window, having variable altitude of detonation seems a bit lame as a huge feature.

    Then they have a deceptive graph of the effect. The left hand side in the first image has impact well to the left outside the dome. These get moved to intercept inside the dome despite no altitude change… i.e. they move all the impacts laterally to the right. I suppose you could deliberately bias all your shots to miss “long” but that is supposed to be showing random miss error effects. Random miss ought to still have some fall short.

  41. Larry Ledwick says:

    They specifically mention that in the article. Range errors are much larger and more common than lateral errors (the impact area is actually an ellipse about 2x longer than it is wide so with the new fuse they bias the intended point of impact just a little bit long so the majority of the time the fuse can detonate within that kill volume. Steering a reentry body moving at 17,000+ mph is much more problematic than a cruise missile as one of its reasons for missing is uneven ablation of the nose cone during reentry. They try to minimize that by stabilizing the reentry vehicle by spinning it just before it enters the atmosphere which in theory would not only make it more stable due to gyroscopic effects but would cancel out the random motion by the uneven nose shape.

    With CEP of less than 100 yards after 4000 miles the majority of the warheads will land within a hundred feet or so of the intended target. That is pretty much “through the window” all things considered. The point of fall is precise enough you can see videos of test warheads arriving on Kwajalein test range where a fixed camera is pointed at the intended impact point and the warhead splashes mid-frame right where the camera is looking.

  42. David A says:

    @jim, correct, not animated, yet good images of the cooled waters from the two gulf Hurricanes plus Irma.

  43. David A says:

    A good site to go to any storm system and play with doppler radar, satellite, etc, run past animation ( limited time) and future. I was watching this site as Irma crossed the Keys and hit the mainland while the eye disentigrated.

  44. David A says:

    …also in the link layers are storm tracks, wind speeds, etc.

    Run the last 6 hours of the tropical storm in the Atlantic and watch the eye form. Likely a hurricane now.

  45. J Martin says:

    Chiefio, you did a post on how Earth’s temperature comes from below with the sun just holding things steady.

    This post on Notrickszone agrees with you, they have a graph with a good match between temps and crustal activity.

  46. Larry Ledwick says:

    Internet censor ship is beginning to pick up steam as more and more providers decide to drop domains that they do not like on short notice.

    Sounds to me like a good place to use your bit torrent type solution where the web site is hosted on thousands of computers.

  47. Larry Ledwick says:

    So when you turn off wifi and blue tooth in iOs11 with the control center it does not really turn it off but fails to display a banner “just kidding wifi and blue tooth still on”

    Seems you need to shut them off in settings if you really! want them to be off (we think)

  48. tom0mason says:

    With a bit of an up-tick in solar flares recently (The sun’s strongest flare in 11 years might help explain a solar paradox ) talk is turning to a Carrington event and its consequences to this modern world.

    That active area is just coming back around to us now …

  49. Larry Ledwick says:

    An item on computer security, encryption and trust of NSA.
    Push back from multiple nations over standardization of a new US promoted encryption standard.
    It seems for some reason they don’t trust the NSA.

  50. Jon K says:

    I know this is zerohedge, but there does seem to be something to it. Definitely some trouble brewing over in Spain.

  51. Larry Ledwick says:

    It appears that the Catalan problems are another effort to destabilize western governments by the likes of Venezuela and Iran who have been funding Podemos.

    From twitter:
    Saul Montes-Bradley‏ @Debradelai 21h21 hours ago

    (10) They were well financed and presented a shiny image. By the time I returned to Spain in early 2015, they had become a national force.

    (12) When a newspaper (OK Diario) published the origin of the funding, Pablo Iglesias sued for his honor. As if he had any.
    Saul Montes-Bradley‏ @Debradelai 21h21 hours ago

    (14) …And ordered Iglesias to pay the legal expenses of the defendant!
    Saul Montes-Bradley‏ @Debradelai 21h21 hours ago

    (15) To date, it’s estimated that Bolivarians in Venezuela and the Ayatollahs have conributed over 6MM to Podemos.

    Saul Montes-Bradley‏ @Debradelai 21h21 hours ago

    (16) This Fascist vermin originate in the “Anti-Capitalist Party” a Trostkite organization (and Spanish section of the 4th International,)

    Saul Montes-Bradley‏ @Debradelai 21h21 hours ago

    (17) Don’t take my word for it. This is what they say on THEIR website.
    This are the founders:
    Juan Carlos Monedero, the guy who wants Jihad
    [ he made comments that he hopes Islamic Jihad spreads to Europe and America like a trail of burning gun powder]

    If you use twitter you can follow the full set of comments here:

  52. Larry Ledwick says:

    Well crap I did not expect wordpress to expand that just wanted to place a link for those who can follow him on twitter. []

  53. E.M.Smith says:

    I’m of two minds on Catalonia. On the one hand, I think everyone ought to have self determination (and the Central Authority of Spain has not been particularly nice about imposed Authority and suppression of language and cultural minorities…) On the other hand, Spain is a sovereign nation and ought to be free to sort out their internal structure on their own.

    I realize that those two ideas are self-inconsistent. Oh Well…

    I do think the oppression by force of a referendum is wrong. The people ought to be allowed to speak, even if The State then decides not to act on it.

  54. Lionell Griffith says:

    Sovereign: has the moral right to choose ends, select the means, and the unilateral power act to achieve them. There is no “mother may I” permission involved. There are two limits to the power of the sovereign: reality and the boundary between sovereigns. The sovereign must act consistent with the nature of reality or he will pay the price of failure. Also, the sovereign must not invade another sovereign without it being considered material and moral violation of the rights and powers of the invaded sovereign – the logical equivalent of an act of war. Thereby granting the invaded sovereign the moral right to reply with sufficient force to stop the invasion and to obtain redress of grievances and damages.

    From this perspective, it becomes important who is sovereign over the lives of the individual citizen, the government or the individual citizen. Having the government being sovereign has not worked out very well for the individual citizen whenever it has been tried – almost indistinguishably different from 100% of governments since the first government. Nor has it worked out very well in the long run, for the governments nor the civilizations sustaining them.

    Assigning sovereignty to the government by majority vote simply means rule by the mob with the minority having neither standing nor choice about what happens to them unless they became a mob too. In other words it becomes a war of all against all. A circumstance indifferent from a state of anarchy. That has not and is not working out so well either.

    The so called good for the sovereign is hardly ever good for the individual unless it is the individual himself. Otherwise, it is expressed as some presuming the power to force others to be enslaved their whims. Yet, only individuals exist, live, think, choose, produce, trade, and have the possibility of an objectively good pertaining to them. The industrial revolution and our current technological civilization was built upon an inconsistent and imperfect implementation of the individual being sovereign. What could have happened if individual sovereignty were more consistently implemented?

    What would happen if we consistently implemented the promise of The Deceleration of Independence? Imagine, each individual as sovereign over his own life and only assigns guard duty to a government.

  55. Larry Ledwick says:

    All blue eyed people share a common ancestor 6k -10k years ago.

  56. catweazle666 says:

    Jon K “Definitely some trouble brewing over in Spain.”

    This is precisely the sort of situation that the Gendamerie Europeenne – basically German officers commanding Eastern European grunts – was designed to handle, the kind of unrest where the state’s own police and military couldn’t be trusted to open fire on their own citizens.

    Shades of 1936…

    And we all know what came three years later.

  57. Larry Ledwick says:

    Indonesia Bali alert level increased for volcano as thousands evacuate after seismic activity increases.

  58. Larry Ledwick says:

    Dam appears to be failing in Puerto Rico due to heavy rains from the Hurricane finally overwhelming the structure.
    From twitter:
    Al Boe BREAKING NEWS‏ @AlBoeNEWS 11 minutes ago

    VIDEO: The dam failure coming out of Lake Guajataca, PR

  59. philjourdan says:

    All blue eyed people share a common ancestor 6k -10k years ago.

    I use to be blue eyed. But after Lasik, my eyes are now brown. So did they remove that gene when they fixed my eyes? :-)

  60. philjourdan says:

    Free? What about the cost of seed? Water? Fertilizer? Their LABOR!

    Don’t tell that it is work.

  61. Larry Ledwick says:

    My first thought was :

    Psssssst that is called Farming!

  62. philjourdan says:

    Sshhh! They might hear! :-)

    I have known some family farmers. And all are pretty well off. However, the hours they work, the schedule they keep, I would not do it. They are welcome to their rewards.

    If these snowflakes think they are going to do it – encourage them!

    Just one question. How many carrots for a bunch of Asparagus?

  63. E.M.Smith says:

    Per the Blue Eye Gene:

    There’s a fundamental logic flaw in basically ALL of the “So Many Years To First” gene stories.

    A couple of simple examples to illustrate it:

    1) Assume Neanderthals had a blue eye gene. One that came in 40 varieties. BUT, it only crossed over into modern people in ONE place (though perhaps from several individuals). Now it LOOKS like a single mutation happened at one point in time, but it didn’t. It might have happened 100,000 years before, radiated into several hundred variant forms over all of Europe. But all those variations didn’t make the cross, so are not in the record.

    2) Minority populations of genetic types tend to wash out of the gene pool. This is most evident in sex linked genes where any time there is a single sex of children in a family, the other sex has all their sex linked traits lost. For very thin populations of a gene that ends the gene line. For dominant gene types, there are many other carriers of the gene so it isn’t lost. Take the red-head gene. It is presently down to 3% of the population and dropping.

  64. LG says:

    Winter cold extremes linked to high-altitude polar vortex

    When the strong winds that circle the Arctic slacken, cold polar air can escape and cause extreme winter chills in parts of the Northern hemisphere. A new study finds that these weak states have become more persistent over the past four decades and can be linked to cold winters in Russia and Europe. It is the first to show that changes in winds high up in the stratosphere substantially contributed to the observed winter cooling trend in northern Eurasia.

    The paper: More-Persistent Weak Stratospheric Polar Vortex States Linked to Cold Extremes


    Over the last decades, the stratospheric polar vortex has shifted towards more frequent weak states which can explain Eurasian cooling trends in boreal winter in the era of Arctic amplification.

    The extra-tropical stratosphere in boreal winter is characterized by a strong circumpolar westerly jet, confining the coldest temperatures at high latitudes. The jet, referred to as the stratospheric polar vortex, is predominantly zonal and centered around the pole; however, it does exhibit large variability in wind speed and location. Previous studies showed that a weak stratospheric polar vortex can lead to cold-air outbreaks in the mid-latitudes but the exact relationships and mechanisms are unclear. Particularly, it is unclear whether stratospheric variability has contributed to the observed anomalous cooling trends in mid-latitude Eurasia. Using hierarchical clustering, we show that over the last 37 years, the frequency of weak vortex states in mid to late winter (January and February) has increased which were accompanied by subsequent cold extremes in mid-latitude Eurasia. For this region 60% of the observed cooling in the era of Arctic amplification, i.e. since 1990, can be explained by the increased frequency of weak stratospheric polar vortex states, a number which increases to almost 80% when El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) variability is included as well.

  65. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting stuff, but I think it leaves out an important bit.

    What drives the Polar Vortex?

    That tells you something about causality vs correlation.

    The article is written as though the Polar Vortex just changes and that’s that, then it causes cooling. So the cooling is just sort of an accidental consequence of the Polar Vortex having a bad day (and so we’re left with the cold not being a longer term trend from fundamental causes so the CO2 myth can survive).

    But look back upstream a bit. Literally upstream in the air flow. Where is the driver of the heat engine that makes it all “go”?

    The vortex is the descending air at the cold pole (Night Jet) that was moved up there by air headed from the warm pole. That warm pole is the equatorial regions (and a bit of temperate). It is rising hot air in the tropopause that then turns into a Cat 2 hurricane force wind at the Stratosphere boundary and heads off toward the cold pole. As it approaches, it ends up circling tighter and forming a vortex. All those thunderstorms with 50,000 ft thunderheads, hurricanes with massive air flow up the eyewall into the stratosphere, etc. etc. More air up gives more air down in the polar vortex and a stronger polar vortex.

    So what makes more go up?… More solar output and more surface heating, fewer clouds blocking surface heating. All those various bits of “Pacific Ocean Iris” and Svensmark and UV vs IR and Willis’s Thunderstorm Thermostat et. al. theories describe parts of it. But the bottom line is more water evaporation from more heating and more hot air drives more convection and more mass flow toward the poles. Now that the heating has dropped off, the mass flow reduces and the polar vortex weakening “since 1990” has a clearer causality. It isn’t a random thing nor an internal oscillations thing. It is a long lag time high mass response to input changes thing. CO2 doing nearly nothing.

  66. Larry Ledwick says:

    So – – – the secondary implication of your observation EM is, that by watching the hot side of that heat engine, (ie upflow from the Hadley cells tropical convection) when that upwelling flow slackens, after some typical lag time, you should see the polar vortex weaken.

    I wonder if there is an obvious change in equatorial cloudiness just prior to a cold outbreak? It would be interesting to go back through satellite images of equatorial cloud bands in the days/weeks prior to historical major cold surges.

    A time lapse video of satellite images run in reverse from the time of the cold out break should allow you to watch that change in flow move back upstream toward the source in the tropics and temperate zones.

    My mental image is like a pan of boiling water after you shut off the heat, at first the rolling boil slows smoothly then transitions to localized boiling then there is a phase where the individual boiling points pause momentarily where each hot spot transitions to intermittent boiling (like a coffee percolator) as the heat input is not quite high enough to support continuous boiling.

    Those pauses in boiling would be the analogy to the slow down in tropical input that would allow the polar vortex to slacken. Same goes for the jet stream as those out flows are usually associated with strong longitudinal looping in the jet stream rather than zonal flow.

    Hmmm I will have to see if I can see that in weather charts (or Jet stream flow) now that I have a mental picture of what might be happening.

    Ice age conditions might simply be due to changes in the size of the hadley cells due to lower heat inputs at the tropics. Perhaps the Hadley circulation is bi-stable with two different cell configurations one that supports inter-glacial warming and one that supports and maintains ice age global glaciation.

    What would the Hadley cell convection look like when you had large ice sheets covering most of a hemisphere?

  67. LG says:

    Given that, in general, the last generation of “climate scientists” are more focused on mass production of papers to perpetuate grants and further their careers, and given the lack of technical and scientific rigor in their training , [(looking at the course work for some of those PhD candidates, one is left scratching one’s head about the whereabouts of the hard science requirements)] it is highly unlikely they are accustomed to performing complex root cause analysis, especially when feedback loop processes might fluster their comfortable mode of linear thinking.
    (Simple models, simple equations claiming to portray a complex non-linear open system [ with no provisions made for the water cycle in the atmosphere and the ocean, if I’m not mistaken] ).
    Those who would just might decide to spread their findings over a series of papers instead of publishing them in a couple of thought out concise paragraphs as you just demonstrate.

  68. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, it seems turning off auto update in Android only stops auto update of the Android itself.

    To stop auto update of the Applications is another step. This I learned after a few dozen apps auto updated at Starbucks… (seems one of my security layers was preventing the update at home…)

    So one launches the Play Store app and in settings in it, turn off auto update of applications…

    Gee, set up a man in the middle wifi spot, offer bogus updates, wait for a connection… sure hope the app store key signing is secure…

  69. E.M.Smith says:


    There is some water cycle in the clouds and oceans, but it is done wrongly. Largely as flat layers in grid cells. The reality is all circular structures on a sphere. So no hurricanes, rotating lows or highs and I’ve not seen things like trade winds and the Night Jet coded. I think they expect those to be emergent phenomenon of their flat layer linear model approach. No idea if they actually manifest, but doubt it. Certainly grid cells are too big for things like hurricanes to show up.

  70. E.M.Smith says:


    Interesting ideas and visuals.

    Things must be very different during glacials as the surface is miles higher and ice…

    IMHO it is helpful to think in terms of Mobile Arctic Highs. I think it was Laroux? who did that work. Big dense cold blobs that slide down the Denver side of the mountains toward Texas…

  71. Larry Ledwick says:

    IMHO it is helpful to think in terms of Mobile Arctic Highs. I think it was Laroux? who did that work. Big dense cold blobs that slide down the Denver side of the mountains toward Texas…

    Yep we call those “Alberta Clippers” or “Siberian Express” out breaks. The cold air rolls down the east side of the Rockies sometimes as far as Texas when a deep loop in the jet stream developes and zonal flow transitions to a very loopy and intermittent jet stream. That sort of uncorks the cold air pool up near the Yukon and it slides south.
    Then over the next few days slides off to the lower elevations to the east.

    Thinking about that, to set up that strong looping jetstream you would likely need a deep low to form off southern California which would pump warm moist air northward into California and east side of the Sierra range, pushing the jet northward there. A compensating loop and cold high pressure would develop farther east allowing that surge or intensely cold air to plunge south into the great plains.

    With that in mind playing around with the “” map we see that right now at flight level 300 we have this windflow pattern,gh,49.497,-76.509,4

    at flight level 240 we have this pattern.,gh,49.497,-76.509,4

    In both cases a low near salt lake it creating generally south westerly flow at high altitude keeping cold air pushed up into the arctic.

    The north northeasterly flow on the west side of that Uinta range low is short circuiting warm moist air out of the pacific across south western Canada and Washington state rather than pulling air down from the arctic.

    If that low were to slide north east into the Dakotas instead or south east into Oklahoma and Kansas there would be switch in the flow due to the Rockies where the warm moist air in the pacific north west would be blocked by the Rockies and like a fluidic switch the flow would jump to the east side of the Rockies pulling intensely cold air down from northern Canada.

    Hmm this site might be fun to play with this winter as those weather patterns develop to help visualize how the flow switches from drawing realtively moderate air out of the pacific north west and flops over to pulling cold air down from the arctic.

    The location of that Rocky Mountain/ Uintah low over Utah would of course be driven by the location of up stream high pressure areas in the pacific off California.

    Perhaps ice age is simply a persistent change in average location of those circulation areas due to changes in sea surface temperatures in the Pacific?

  72. E.M.Smith says:


    The Mobile Polar High: a new concept explaining present mechanisms of meridional air-mass and energy exchanges and global propagation of palaeoclimatic changes

    Air-mass and energy transportation is chiefly made by large lenses of cold air, the Mobile Polar Highs, the key factor of meridional air exchanges, which organize migratory units of circulation in troposphere low levels. Mobile Polar Highs (MPHs) originate in the downwards airmotion in high latitudes. The cold air injection organizes a dipolar vortex of very large size (2000/3000 km), the anticyclonic side of this vortex (precisely the MPH) is thin, about 1.5 km thick, by reason of cold air density. Mobile Polar Highs migrate roughly eastwards, with a meridional component towards the tropical zone, through the middle latitudes where they are responsible for weather variability and for rain-making conditions. Their own thermo-dynamic evolution and relief divide them into fragments, and they supply the low-layer of the trade circulation, and eventually the monsoon (previously trade) circulation of a cross-equatorial drift. Eastwards movement and disposition of relief govern the MPHs paths and determine distinct aerological domains; in one of these domains, China is precisely located at the eastern Asian exit of MPHs, stopped by the Himalaya/Tibet range, on their southern side during their eastwards migration. Power of the MPH, connected with its density, as observed in winter in the present conditions, is a function of the initial temperature, namely of the polar radiative conditions. It is precisely in the high latitudes that radiation balance and temperature changes are the most important, at all scales of time, from the seasonal to the palaeoclimatic scale, while in tropical latitudes the changes are comparatively always weak. Two modes of troposphere general circulatin are a result of this mechanism: (1) A rapid mode of circulation, connected with acold situation in polar latitudes, is characterized by strong and extended MPHs and strong wind at all latitudes and all levels. (2) A slow mode of circulation, connected with a warm situation in polar latitudes, is characterized by weak and less extended MPHs, and weak winds at all latitudes and all levels. Insolation and surface boundary conditions of high latitudes are the key control of MPHs dynamics, and therefore the key control of palaeoclimatic changes.

  73. Larry Ledwick says:

    Windy maps are interesting this morning,32.990,-91.318,4,32.990,-91.318,4

    I really like this site to visualize upper level wind flows, since you can use the elevation slider on the lower right to step through the various flight levels and see how the winds change with altitude. The motion shown in the animation makes it much easier too get a feel for the flow patterns.

  74. LG says:

    Thanks for unearthing that MPH publication.
    One can only hope that climate scientists are doing due diligence in reviewing the published literature.

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