W.O.O.D. – 1 March 2018


This is another of the W.O.O.D. series of semi-regular
Weekly Occasional Open Discussions.
(i.e. if I forget and skip one, no big)

Immediate prior one here:
and remains open for threads running there
(at least until the ‘several month’ auto-close of comments on stale threads).

Canonical list of old ones here:

So use “Tips” for “Oooh, look at the interesting ponder thing!”
and “W.O.O.D” for “Did you see what just happened?! What did you think about it?”

What’s Going On?


It’s cold all over the world. LOTS of snow in unlikely places (like, oh, the UK).

Last USA hazards map I saw had a lot of snow and blizzard warnings. The snow coverage map from here:

Looks to me like about 1/3 of the USA under snow. I’m not sure it is showing all the snow either. Feb 9 my son said they got dumped on with a foot of snow in Chicago. Yeah, it can all melt in a couple of weeks of warm, but it also means that map is a point in time NOT showing other snow affected areas.

1 Mar 2018 USA Snow Cover Map

1 Mar 2018 USA Snow Cover Map

In California, Squaw Valley has shut down the Siberia chair due to wind gusts up around 80 MPH. The Sierra Nevada mountains are collecting a few more feet of “Sierra Cement” as “Spring” snow is coming hard and cold. Chain “Controls” (meaning the highway patrol stops you if you don’t have chains or 4 x 4 with snow tires and won’t let you into the mountains until you put them on…) are in effect on I-80 and Highway 50 (the two main roads to Nevada unless you go down to Los Angeles). Shipping things East / West is going to be slow / delayed as for a little while, something going from Reno to Sacramento either goes by air (with those winds?…) or via a long drive to L.A. and back. The San Francisco Bay Area is having cold wind, rain, and generally winter weather.


On RT, Putin was discussing his new weapons. The claim is that at lest 2 of them are “nuclear powered” and with unlimited range. One claims a Mach 20 speed. The second is a nuclear powered cruise missile. Another is an Underwater Unmanned Vehicle. Claim is they can launch it at great depth where it can’t be observed easily, then have it cruise around in the ocean for {days / weeks / months} and then decide to snuggle up to a carrier group or shipping port and set off 50 to 100 MT of nuke. Supposedly one in New York Harbor would take out pretty much all of New York City.

My guess is we’ll make “Oh Dear!” noises until all the lobbyists have new military hardware deals signed, then we’ll show the “new” defense systems based on rail guns and laser beams (that have been talked about as existing and demonstrated for a decade or two now, but never really stated as fully operational). I’d also expect every carrier group to now have a “sink on detection” radius of several miles now, with “something” underwater doing constant observation.


Putin claimed that, late last year, Russia successfully tested a cruise missile that was propelled by a nuclear-powered engine. This engine gave the cruise missile an effective unlimited range, he said, distinguishing it from existing cruise missiles that typically have a range of about 600 miles.

The missile would be able to fly close to the ground and follow an unpredictable flight path, rendering existing missile defenses “useless,” Putin said.

The hypersonic missile looks to be regular scramjet with rocket initial speed launch.


Andrei AKULOV | 16.12.2016 | WORLD / Russia & CIS
Zircon Missile to Be Produced in 2018: Russia Leading in Hypersonic Arms Race

Admiral Nakhimov, the nuclear-powered Kirov class Project 1144 (NATO reporting name Orlan) battlecruiser, undergoing a refit, will be the first warship of the Russian Navy to be armed with hypersonic missile when it returns to service in 2018. It will be followed by Pyotr Veliky, a sister ship, expected to complete its overhaul in 2022.
The Russia 3M22 Zircon missile can cover a distance of 250km (155.3mi) in 2.5 minutes – much faster than a bullet fired from a sniper rifle. The enemy will not have enough time to get scared, let alone react. The weapon is currently in testing. It is expected to enter into production in 2018. Russia will be the only nation in the world to launch serial production of hypersonic weapons, leaving the US far behind.

The missile weights 5 tons. It is equipped with a scramjet engine type, which compresses air before it enters the combustion chamber. Only dynamic compression obtained via the intake device is used. The acceleration is carried out via a reactive solid booster, with a scramjet used as the main engine.

With the speed of Mach 6.2 (6,500 km/h) at a cruising altitude of 30,000 m (98,425 feet), the kinetic energy of impact is 50 times higher than an air-ship missile. For comparison, modern Russian anti-ship missiles, like Onyx, can reach up to Mach 2.6 (750 meters per second). The sea-based Kalibr cruise missile travels at a Mach 0.9 speed, but while approaching the target, its warhead speeds up to Mach 2.9.


So, of course, the Democrats are INSISTING that we be in a pissing match with Russia instead of being friendly and talking nice to them. The stupid, it burns…

I would 100% prefer that our government was talking, daily, with Russians and making them friends rather than enemies. We’re up to our eyeballs in bed with the Chinese government, a hard core communist model. But Russia, who have moved to a more western model after the USSR collapsed, them we want to toss mud at? Why? I just don’t get it. I’d rather we were making Russia feel at home with “The West” and we were helping them “join the club”. Instead of this stupid warmed over cold war mentality. Yeah, Putin is a tough dude. Think the Communist Central Committee in China is a bunch of warm fuzzy guys? (Or the EU Central Committee for that matter…)

Bypassing Gang Green

Just a quick note on DIY “manufacturing” of 100W incandescent bulbs. I’ve got a nice little wall mounted “3-way” lamp in the bedroom. In it I put a 50-100-150 “3 Way” bulb (as they are still available under current Gang Green Prohibitions on nice lighting). This is almost always run on the 50 setting, so only using the 50 Watt filament that is on the “middle ring” of the base. We use the 100 W filament, or both for 150 W, when cleaning and such. This means the 50 W filament burns out after a year or so. Then I’ve got a nice regular (center pin to screw-in shell) 100 W bulb left.

I’ve now used one of these in the bathroom and another in one of the bedrooms. As they are on dimmers, the incandecent bulbs last much much much longer ( I stay at 95% or less most of the time, so little bulb burnout). At the present rate, I’m meeting about 1/2 my lightbulb needs via this path. (I still have a big inventory so don’t mind working it down a little).

My estimate is that with 2 or 3 “3 Way” lamps in use, all my other needs for “100 W” bulbs would be met. Also note other sizes of “3 Way” bulbs exist so you can “manufacture” several sizes this way. When I’ve worked off about 1/2 of my present bulb inventory, I’m going to add a “3 Way” lamp to my office. At that point, I think I’m covered.

FWIW, I have “Curly Bulb” CFL lights wherever practical and esthetic. Living room lamps. Garage. Yard. Office. I refuse to put one in the kitchen or bath as they make eggs green and skin sick looking (poor CRI Color Rendering Index). We tried LED bulbs and got insomnia as a result of their “blue spike” resetting the body clock to morning ever night… Especially in winter when we want the heat, I’m happy to have good quality light AND some added warmth in the house. NO power being wasted then. In the past, I had a seasonal change of bulbs, from Incandescent to Curly CFL and back. I stopped that after a CFL broke (dumping a bit of mercury) in the dining area. After an intense clean-up, I prohibited changing curly bulbs (unless one died) in any occupied space. They now get replaced with halogen bulbs or other bulbs from inventory.

As my “bulb factory” is working well, I’m no longer feeling as much need to keep a lifetime supply of incandescent bulbs in the closet. I just have to hope they don’t go screwing around with the “3-Way” bulbs too…

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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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123 Responses to W.O.O.D. – 1 March 2018

  1. philjourdan says:

    I did not make it out west this year, but my wife did. She said it was colder than back here – but that was not hard as it was in the 70s during the time she was out there.

    We are back to normal now. But I am glad the vortex has moved west and east!

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    It has been a quite cold start to spring and it isn’t warm yet. We’ve got more snow on the hills than I can remember seeing before (probably like it was in the ’70s before I lived here).

    The heater has been running a lot more and PG&E is nagging me that I’m using more power than prior years. (Go Suck Eggs PG&E!! I’m BUYING a PRODUCT because I want to USE IT.)

    We were warm and dry during part of winter, now the vortex moved and we’re cold and wet.
    Come home, vortex, puleeeeaze!!!

  3. Graeme No.3 says:

    If you think you might spill mercury have some powdered sulphur (sorry sulfur) handy. Sprinking lots over the mercury and it will react to mercuric sulphide (sulfide) which is solid and doesn’t roll around. Much easier (and safer) to clean up.

  4. jim2 says:

    “Much easier (and safer) to clean up.” But not nearly as much fun!

  5. E.M.Smith says:

    There really isn’t much mercury in a bulb (far far less than in my old tooth fillings). When the glass tube breaks, most of it stays as fine micro drops stuck to the phosphor lining or down in the end electrodes. The contamination is mostly a bit of vapor and any fine particles aerosolized. Those tend to settle on surfaces.

    So first thing I did was throw open the door 2 feet from the breakage and turned on a window fan in the other end of the house for positive air pressure. I guess the majority went out the door onto the rear deck where it can soak into the slate and I won’t care.

    Then I very carefully picked up all bits and sealed them in a ziplock bag.

    Now air & big bits done.

    A damp paper towel was used to very gently sweep any thing too small to grab, and that all went in a sealed bag. Water surface tension tends to grab dust bits…

    Finally, a series of wet washes with paper towels was done to clean the surface. Soapy water, then alcohol, then IIRC a vinegar wash. Wiped dry. All wipes disposed. It’s been a few years now, and I can’t remember if I did a dilute bleach wash too, or just thought about it. I think I did after everything dried and the fan was turned off. Then I showered well…

    I figure my exposure was pretty minimal. No drops were big enough to play with. (I used to have about 1 cc in a vial for playing, but that was 50 years ago ;-)

    Metallic mercury isn’t very toxic anyway. It’s the organo-mercury compounds that gum up the metabolism.. Remember folks used to wear beaver hats coated with the stuff (and only the hatters were called mad from it.)

  6. Larry Ledwick says:

    Expectation confirmed:


    If you are a government and you wanted to keep track of the dark web what would you do?
    Set up a dark web portal where you could sniff all the traffic going in and out. I strongly suspect that a majority of those IP anonymizers are the same thing – high end servers setup by people with a strong interest in funneling all the traffic they want to watch right through their server room.


    No need to “break in to” or “hack” ISP and cable back bones if you own one your self.

  7. Larry Ledwick says:

    Well another anti-gunner talking point just went down in flames. The Parkland school shooter did not use high capacity mags, He had 15 10 round mags and only stopped shooting when his gun jammed (and he was too incompetent to clear the jam) so he tossed the rifle and blended in with evacuating students.


  8. E.M.Smith says:

    Um, Larry:

    Tor was openly stated as being developed with government money (often with specific citation of the Navy). It has not been a secret.

    It clearly states that exit nodes can see the traffic so you must use care with what you send (no visible identity info in it) and preferably encrypted end to end.

    I’m not seeing much at all in that article that isn’t “old news” Maybe a tiny bit more specific information was found by the guy, but nothing radical.

    The Wiki AND the Tor web site both detail the history as being military / Navy originated. A Navy R&D guy, IIRC, doing a project to see if he could make secure communications.

    So Tor was never a perfect secrecy platform, only an IP of origin hiding method. Paired with end to end encryption, you can get both anonymity and security. (Like a Tails browser and NOT putting identifying information in the clear in your stream…)

    Per VPN sites:

    Some most likely are government fronts, but others are just businesses; and some are just the technical toys of interested parties. Some folks with a bit of spare change have been known to set up VPN servers for free just to help hide their own traffic in the flood. Heck, I’ve thought of doing it. Set up a VPN server for me to use while “on the road” via a connection to a computer room somewhere (rent-a-rack with VM on it) and then when I’m not using it (since I’m paying for unused bandwidth anyway…) leave it open for others. Then any claim that “I” visited any particular site is met with “It is an open server and I don’t keep logs.” Now my traffic is indistinguishable and I can’t be fingered. I haven’t done it just because my life is so boring it would never be needed. But I did think about it.

    Yes, security demands a particularly suspicious starting attitude, but it’s also important not to let it run away with you. Lots of folks work to make things that improve privacy and anonymity, and some of them even work in government. Just like there are some undercovers and bad-guy-spy types in private companies and working in a TLA basement. All types are present. IMHO much good security work was done by government types up until about 1982. That’s roughly when the NSA started trying to get into everything. By about 1992, we had the beginnings of PRISM and corruption of companies for more data leakage. IMHO, TOR was one of the last “make things more secure” projects to come out of Government. It has a pretty good track record of working, IF you read there warnings and follow their advice. Which includes admonitions about exit nodes having message visibility… and to not put personal identifying information into non-encrypted messages…

    I can’t fault them for saying “Here are the limits” when some Stupid Users ignore that guidance.

  9. Seth Roentgen says:

    Experiment. Here (if it shows) is a photo taken in my town (average of 9 metres of snow per winter). It was taken in 1931. For most people the only place to dump snow was in the street. My wife remembers this. You had to cut steps to get up from the ground floor to the 1st floor level. The alternative was a gangway from your 1st floor window to the street.

    This must have been spring as the lady is sunning herself on the ground floor roof, and someone’s hung out washing to dry.

  10. Seth Roentgen says:

    Didn’t show. Rats.

  11. E.M.Smith says:


    My guess is you put the link in some kind of angle bracket text. WordPress didn’t like it so just removed whole thing. Try just posting the URL without wrapping it in anything. If that doesn’t work, I’ll at least have the URL and can try to fix it…

  12. Zeke says:

    to LarryLedwick from wikileaks ps nice maps

    “The Tor Project, a private non-profit that underpins the dark web and enjoys cult status among privacy activists, is almost 100% funded by the US government. In the process of writing my book Surveillance Valley, I was able to obtain via FOIA roughly 2,500 pages of correspondence — including strategy and contracts and budgets and status updates — between the Tor Project and its main funder, a CIA spinoff now known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). These files show incredible cooperation between Tor and the regime change wing of the US government. The files are released to the public here. —Yasha Levine”


  13. Steve C says:

    Re mercury spillages, here’s a word from an ex-labtech who has dealt with one or two. Graeme No.3 is on the right track, but we used to use the following method.

    First use a dropper or similar to transfer as much of the spill to somewhere it’s under control, say a plastic tray or small bottle. Then you take a mixture of equal parts flowers of sulphur and slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), add enough water to make it into a sludge, and generously cover the area of the spill with the sludge. The slight alkalinity of the lime helps the mercury-sulphur reaction along. If you leave it for a day or two, any remaining mercury will have reacted and the mess can be brushed up (carefully! – it still contains mercury!) and disposed of.

  14. Steve C says:

    Re Tor, and specifically the Tor Browser, I happened across a not wholly desirable “feature” of its anonymous browsing recently. (Fortunately, the site involved, though not the sort you’d want to be seen hanging around, was not too embarrassing …)

    In Tor Browser, went to the page, read it. Interesting. Highlighted the core of the text and copied it (thinking: from browser cache to clipboard). Opened the word processor and pasted … or thought that’s what I was doing … the text into it.

    At once, the WP (LibreOffice) connected to the internet in the clear and downloaded the selected text not from the clipboard, but direct from the original site instead. As I said, it wasn’t the sort of site that’s going to attract TLA flies but, had it been, I would have been dead meat. Evidently, “copy” and “paste” do not always mean what you think they mean.

    So when browsing “discreetly”, never trust anything. I shan’t make that mistake again – at least, not until I have a dedicated box ‘twixt me and t’web, forcing every such attempted connection through Tor.

  15. jim2 says:

    Steve C says: “direct from the original site instead.”

    Yep, might be a good idea to copy first to a less-than-dynamic text editor.

  16. Larry Ledwick says:

    There are times I like the fact that notepad is not very smart.

    It would be interesting to re-do that test and try the cut and paste into note pad, or word pad or similar limited capability word processing document.

    On that note the safest way to capture text if you don’t want to leave tracks on the computer would be to take a picture of the screen display on a digital camera. If all you were interested in was the content you would have it in image format. If you needed it in text you would have to manually transcribe it or use OCR on the image on a different system. Doing that would also block any tool that crawls files on your system looking for key words as the image would be a low end form of Steganography encryption.

  17. Steve C says:

    @Larry – Yep, that’s the best way, as just checked by copying & pasting your comment ;-)

    This not into Notepad, but ‘pluma’, the text editor that came with my Mint and happily also suitably “stupid”. It’s my own fault for having got into the habit of keeping copies of interesting pages as pdfs, after removing the “Read More …”, “See Also …” sections, “Stock images” and the like, but it came as a bit of a shock when it happened. Lesson learned!

  18. Larry Ledwick says:

    You can still keep them as pdf if you like – do a screen grab, then use an application that can convert an image to pdf.

    Foxit Reader allows you to convert images to pdf, I just did it with a screen grab of a paragaph above.

    print screen > save as png, open that file in Foxit Reader using the “create” tab. It also apparently lets you go directly from the clip board but I prefer opening the screen grab in irfanview image viewing app (freeware) and using cntl G to get to the edit box where you can adjust contrast etc. then cntl S to sharpen the image, and then select just what you want with the cursor and hit cntl Y to crop to just that content.

  19. Larry Ledwick says:

    Correction in Irfanview cntl G changes the image to a pure gray scale image with no color cast, then shift G to get to the image adjustment tool. For text on white background I slide the “gamma” slider to the left to get a true black text and then bump up the contrast a bit, followed by sharpening. Gives a good clean black and white text for most images. (newspaper clipping images can be difficult to clean up due to the yellowing of the news print)

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    Interesting… I’ve got a big download of “alternate Ubuntu” (hopefully the one for the Mac) in progress. So I click on this web page in Opera and I’m back at the way primitive presentation from years gone by. I.e. all one long page, not separate blocks inset for things like “recent posts” and “recent comments” (they come at the end after the article and this comment box).

    I’m guessing what with the TV sucking some bandwidth, the download causing some clog, and that I”m running MacOS form an SD card so when it swaps it takes a few second pause; somewhere in that mix WordPress decided I was a cell phone or something slow and limited… so reverted to the simpler format.

    FWIW I managed to install Debian (and boot it!) on another mini-SD card. Unfortunately, the MacBook Air has a broadcom WiFi chip that is not supported, so you just need to download the driver for Windows, strip out the driver code, and add it to your kernel… which you can’t do as their is no hardwire network…Sigh.

    Looked at MacPuppy – it is not being maintained and didn’t want to boot the iso image from USB anyway. Sigh again.

    The Ubuntu image is big, so it will be an hour or two at present speed to download it. We’ll see.

    IF anyone has a Linux running on a MacBook, pointers to how or what release welcome. (I’m presently in the wandering in the desert stage).

    Why do it? Because the MacOS expects to do a lot of swapping to a fat SSD, not a slow micro-SD Card, and those “few second pauses” get old after a while. Linux can happily fit in 2 GB and never swap… (some assembly required…)

  21. Larry Ledwick says:

    Maybe this is why the Left wants gun control?


    Seems the cops need to brush up on their gun control a bit in San Francisco. This sounds like a snip out of Clint Eastwood’s movie The Gauntlet

  22. jim2 says:

    So, the UK is against tariff? But …

    “EU sets steel import duties to counter Chinese subsidies”


  23. jim2 says:

    “LONDON – MARCH 1, 2018 – 36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centers and universities – including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Stockholm University and The University of Sydney – will oppose, in an upcoming journal paper, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) plan to create a new gaming disorder classification.”


  24. jim2 says:

    I’ve been looking into the world steel situation. Countries produce, export, and import steel. So, for example, South Korea imports are 2/3 from China. It makes more steel than it imports. But it could be that SK buys steel from China and sells it to the US at a higher price for a profit. Canada could also be doing that. Chinese steel could pass through multiple hands before arrival in the US. The public data probably isn’t detailed enough to determine the origin(s) of all the steel imported by the US.

  25. Larry Ledwick says:

    Steel also has standard shapes and plates of common alloy that are produced in most countries that have steel production, but many specialty products are only produced in a limited number of plants so those specialty products get shipped all over the world.

    Some special alloys like the super alloys Hastelloy® (milled by Haynes) a nickel-molybdenum alloy, Incoloy® (milled by Special Metals) is a nickel-iron-chromium alloy, Or corrosion resistant high strength steels like COR-TEN steel which is trademarked by US Steel, or products which use proprietary processed steel like StressProof® made by Lasall Steel, get shipped all over the world to meet engineering design requirements. If that type of steel is not manufactured locally steel trade goes in both directions even in countries which produce lots of steel in the common ASTM grades.

    A quick look here at ASTM shows the huge number of specialty steel grades manufactured for specific application requirements.


  26. Larry Ledwick says:

    We used to machine loader pins (the pivot pins for back hoe and loader buckets) out of stress proof bar, it was wonderful stuff! Strong tough and it machined like a dream. Only the free machining leaded steels were nicer to machine. Unlike the tough sticky stainless steels, it broke chips into nice small chips which were easy to clean up and unlike stainless did not produce long continuous “slinky” chips that tried to reach out and grab you if you weren’t paying attention.

    People who do not work with steel think of it as one commodity, it is not it is a huge family of specialty alloys each suited for specific performance, cost and characteristics. When you need a specific alloy nothing much else will do if you are on the cutting edge of performance. Cheap crap steel like re-bar not so much unless the application requires a stainless or high tensile strength bar.

  27. jim2 says:

    If the YSM were worth anything they would be trying to figure out where US steel imports, of whatever type, originate. That would be a value add, and might actually shed some knowledge on the situation. But no, they are too busy bashing Trump to do anything that adds value.

  28. E.M.Smith says:


    When I was about 8, my Dad introduced me to annealing and tempering / hardening.

    By 10 I was learning about different metal alloys. Mostly lead and copper based alloys as we didn’t have a forge hot enough to do any iron or steel based.

    The subtleties of both minor chemical changes and processing history are fascinating and can have major effects on metals.

    Traditional smiths, like my GrandDad kept a tub of horse piss. Quenching hot steel in it nitrides the surface and makes it very hard. Sink the same hot iron in hot sand instead, it becomes soft and pliable. Fat or oils give strong tough but not hard. A native 3rd world smith would sink the edge of a machete into a melon half of the same curvature quenching it, making the edge hard and strong if a bit brittle, but leaving the spine more flexible to absorb shocks and not break as it slowly annealed by conduction.

    The difference between iron and steel is just a few percent carbon. Small percent of lead in bronze or brass makes it much more workable in machining and better sealing valves. Bits of chrome and nickle make dozens of different steels and stainless steels as the ratios change. Metallurgy was an art for generations, only recently becoming a science. Now we know that at some critical amounts, the crystal structure switches to a different one and properties can dramatically change. Before it was just accident, experiment, and observation.

  29. Another Ian says:



    “The largest public pension fund in the United States is the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) for civil servants. California is in a state of very serious insolvency. We strongly advise our clients to get out before it is too late…”

    More at


  30. pouncer says:

    “Metallurgy was an art for generations, only recently becoming a science. ”

    During Business Analysis classes I was taught of a case study from a guy who knew a fellow who read about … so, here follows a folk tale or perhaps an urban legend:

    The steel the day shift produced was slightly weaker than that produced by night shift workers. The process appeared to be identical. Indeed, the process engineers had gone to great lengths to ensure that variables had been identified and driven out of the task sequences. And yet the difference was measurable and consistent. So each step was monitored very closely, all over again, for both shifts. The finding? On day shift, a worker would draw a burlap bag containing nuggets of the lead and charcoal and manganese and molybdenum and what all that had been “kitted” up by the chemists in the lab, all carefully weighed and mixed. He’d carry the bag to the vat of molten metal and carefully dump in the constantly churning contents. And carry the bag away. On NIGHT shift the worker would draw an identical bag, carefully empty identical contents into the churning vat — and toss the empty burlap bag in after. Where molten metal instantly burned it to unidentifiable ash, which ASH (the smidgen extra carbon?) was making the steel better.

    Or so the story goes. Maybe the whole tale is half-ashed.

    So much of modern steel originates from re-cycled metals it seems to me that traces of alloys from prior, original, cycles would at least as prevalent as newly added elements. When the foundry is mixing food-contaminated tin cans with crushed automobiles, leaky galvanized buckets, old laundry equipment, and every kind of junk INCLUDING some kitchen sinks — well, it seems difficult to me to carefully meter a contributor like, say, boron.

  31. Larry Ledwick says:

    It is probably an apocryphal story, but parables are a very good way to teach a specific lesson, and such unintended consequences are a good thing for engineers to know about.

    In the late 1960’s or early 1970’s there was a short lived TV series based on the story of Walter Chrysler the name sake of the car company. In one episode they brought in a bunch of young engineers to try to find out why one of the product lines was not producing at the rate that they expected.

    There were about 6 young kids, and 5 of them sat in their office and did calculations and made design drawings of how they would improve the production line. One of the young engineers was never around, so Mr. Chrysler called him into his office and asked him to explain why he was not analyzing the problem.

    His response was that he had been down on the factory floor watching the workers on the assembly line and had discovered the reason the line was not moving as fast as it should. At several of the work stations the workers had to turn the part around when it arrived at their station to do the work they were assigned to do. His solution was to move those workers to the other side of the assembly line so they did not need to pause the line to turn the piece they were working on.

    Mr. Chrysler being a self made man hired the kid on the spot (at least that is how I remember that episode).

    Such simple stories which embody a lesson are much easier to remember than some random rules.

    I have seen such unexplained differences in real life. Right after I got out of the Navy I got a job at Coors Porcelain plant in Golden Colorado machining green porcelain. The process of making industrial ceramics is interesting in itself. The take refined clay and press it very strongly into a mold under high pressure. This forms a piece of green porcelain that is about as hard as soft plaster of paris. Hard enough to handle but easy to break if you bump it. It also is still soft enough to machine it to a precise shape or dimension at this stage. Then once machined to the final core shape it is sent to the kilns to be fired, and it comes out of the kiln almost as hard as a sapphire impossible to machine except with diamond grinders.

    One of the products that the produced were ceramic nozzles used in paper plants for the paper pulp. Wood fiber pulp slurry is surprisingly abrasive (lots of silica in wood fibers) and would quickly wear out any nozzle made of metal. These nozzles looked a lot like a giant magnum champagne bottle with no bottom. They were machined on a vertical lath, The chuck was like a large record turn table and the nozzle stood vertically on the chuck and an automated tool traced out the shape as it moved down the green nozzle. We were paid piece work and had a minimum rate of production we had to meet or you would get fired. I noticed that one of the vertical lathes was slower than the others. It was impossible to make your minimum rate of production if you got stuck on that machine every day in the week. It seemed to me that they tended to put people that they wanted to get rid of on that machine every day just before they let them go. It was not so slow you easily noticed the difference but if you timed the tool cycle from top to bottom of the ceramic nozzle it was just slow enough that you could not make rate on that machine. Intentional or coincidence? Who knows but the stop watch showed it was not possible to keep your job if you were on that machine all the time.

  32. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    No worries… The State will simply impose ever more taxes to assure their prior employees get all the benefits due… 1/2 ;sarc/ at most…


    I’d give it some merit. (Sorry Larry…)


    Old College roomie with whom I’ve kept up. His Dad worked at a major California seed producing company. Every packet gets a “germination percent” printed on it. Turns out his packets always scored just a bit higher than everyone else, even from the same run of seeds from the same farms.

    Investigation followed. The “white hats” (what we named management as when they toured the cannery I worked in, then wore white hard hats or baseball caps) nattered and wondered. Seems the Official Procedure was to go to the seed drum (a large drum on an incline) and to to the top, open a hatch and remove a sample, climbing some contraption in the process. Friends Dad had some arthritis, so would just take his sample from the bottom hatch. Heavier larger seeds tended to sink to the bottom and bigger seeds have a larger % viable… So the procedure was changed and “overall germination rate” improved (and I’m sure some “white hat” got a bonus…)

    Per “Mystery Metal”:

    There are several processes that prevent metal being “out of spec”. First of them is to “have a specification”. EVERY batch of metal is tested to spec. If it doesn’t match, it is either adjusted or becomes a different kind of metal. So, for example, if you must have 3% carbon and 60,000 psi tensile strength, but only rate 2% carbon and 55,000 psi, an added 1% of carbon gets you to spec. on carbon. If, for some reason, it’s still only 55,000 psi, then either you do more to get it right, or you declare it a different spec of iron and try again. (With modern methods and chemical labs, a “do over” rarely happens anymore.)

    Now, it’s well known that some alloys are very picky, so those will get made from clean new ingredients and only known adjuncts. Even specific ores will be specified. (Remember the reputation of Swedish Steel in the ’50s and before? Swedish ore and handling were different and specific.) Even those will be tested to assure compliance to spec. (My high school chemistry teacher was retired from U.S. Steel as a chemist. Guess what he did all day…) IF any recycle material is used in those, it WILL be chemically analyzed and be a known material in the formula.

    Steels and alloys that are less “picky” will get more scrap and scrap with less requirements (like, oh, kitchen sinks…) At the bottom of the heap will be a rough crude low specification that can take highly variable quantities of just about anything. Stuff for pig iron, or wrought iron use or for cheap rebar – though note that rebar is made in many grades. Also, there are processes that mitigate particular “contaminants”. So an oxygen blast (i.e. ‘blast furnace’) can reduce the carbon in a melt, and even remove some other elements / metals by preferential oxidation to slag.

    So there will be various piles of scrap and each will be characterized and sampled if needed to determine chemical makeup. You might even make a melt of the scrap so that the ‘pigs’ made from it are uniform chemistry for uniform addition to a steel melt. Then the ore will be assessed (or known makeup). A chemist (or Chem E.) will decide how much of what to mix for a given batch. The melt will be done and a sample assessed. If it meets spec, it is off to the forming and packaging. If it doesn’t meet spec. it will either be made into other “stuff” if that spec. is needed anyway, or will be fixed if possible. Usually operations are experienced enough to have few surprises. (i.e. if you are regularly buying crushed cars you have a pretty good idea what the average composition is and what you can make from them).

    FWIW, that’s why we have the term “pot metal”. It was literally made from all the scraps left over tossed into a pot. “Mystery metal” as it were. So the foundry would make things of brass and bronze, tin, lead and zinc. Etc. At the end of the day (or week) you’d sweep up and clean up and all the stuff that wasn’t clearly a good known metal (i.e. big chunk of clearly copper goes to the copper pile, strange white lump to the mystery pile) would be tossed into a pot to make “pot metal” for casting cheap crap.

    For iron, you start with ore and make ‘pig iron’. Then things are done to upgrade that to better spec metals. Carbon is adjusted. Various other metals added if needed for specialty steels. But most of the product is a simple basic steel. Now since most of the steel “out the door” is a mild steel, most of the scrap in the door is too. Not a lot of chrome-molly steel coming in the tin can recycle feed… and pretty much the general run of recycled steel can go into the mild steel run and not hurt it. But your chemist tests each batch of everything so you know before you dump it in…


    I would expect the “story” to not be true today as things are much more controlled now. I’d not be surprised if it were true at some point in the early 1900s when batches were small and things less driven by chem labs. A bit of silica and carbon from the ash could easily shift a small batch of steel (one small enough for a human carried gunny sack of additions to matter…) just enough to be measured. Now, with most things huge and automated, not so much ;-)

    In my operations research class we were told a story (probably true) of a factory where the bottleneck was found at a station where things arrived such that it was an awkward reach over for a right hand. The “fix” was to assign left handed people to that station…

    Interesting story about the lathe. I’d not be surprised to find that the “white hats” or at lest the foreman knew it ran slow and called it a feature…

  33. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes I am sure they did know it ran slower, one of the older employees told me about their time study team which had come out before I worked there and timed all the key operations to evaluate production bottle necks and all that, so they could set the proper work rate for each job (how many pieces you should be producing if you were working efficiently).

    My issue with the burning bag story is a gunny sack is going to burn down to only a couple ounces of carbon, most of which goes out the stack as CO2. Out of a 100 ton melt that won’t be even detectable. Electric arc furnaces range in melt size from one ton up to 400 ton melts. The small ones uses in places like small foundries. Oxygen lance furnaces are up in the 150 – 300 ton melt range. To change 1018 mild steel to 1020 mild steel you would have to add 0.2% carbon. On a 100 ton melt that is 200 pounds of carbon. (last 2 digits in the steel designation is the points of carbon 0.1%) 1018 steel would have between 0.14% carbon and 0.20 % carbon.


    Steel production and metallurgy is really a fascinating process, (also the history of the development of the Bessemer process and the early blast furnace designs and how they work) and you could easily spend a lifetime getting a grasp on it.


    There are some companies that specialize in highly control specialty alloys which as you say make very careful control of inputs and processing part of their market niche and service users who need very carefully controlled properties in their metals.

  34. E.M.Smith says:


    I’d expect that if a single gunnysack holds all the additives AND it is light enough for one person to move it (i.e. it isn’t really full with metal…) so then the gunnysack is also of an order of magnitude of trace materials in the adjunct (i.e. the melt is a very very small one…).

    Basically if you are adding a 50 lbs sack with a mix including 20 lbs of, say, manganese, then 2 lbs of silicon & carbon from the sack might make a detectable change. Being 10% of the manganese. (I’m assuming from the way the story was presented that it was NOT a major change obvious to sensory evaluation but only showed up in lab tests / QA tests). So call it a 1/10 % but consistent higher stiffness or tensile strength. That would show up in the lab, but not to casual observation (and likely not enough to really matter – the story did not present it as a violation of acceptable spec.)

    Also, if this is in fact a story from an old time of small hand made batches, it likely didn’t have things like oxygen lance and air blowing so the carbon has a better chance of ending up in the melt, especially if the bag were tossed in while filled with heavy metal additives. It would be at least partly submerged in the melt before combusting. If an oxygen reduced atmosphere it could even just char and not burn.

    That said, I’d also not be surprised at all if it was just an urban legend…

  35. Larry Ledwick says:

    This is scary.

    Technology is rapidly maturing to allow fake and realistic videos to be made of people doing things that they never did. Hollywood will love this, politicians and anyone who has angered someone who is into this technology not so much.


  36. E.M.Smith says:

    My general statement to ANY video evidence since about Star Trek TNG has been:

    How can you know it is true? I’ve seen Klingons, Vulcans and space battles that were at the full resolution of the medium…

    Then Avatar came along and upped it even more. As of Avatar, you could put anyone in their gear, have them voice and act out, fill in the background, then composite over them the particular voice and appearance you wanted. There would be very little digital artifact to give it away since the motions would in fact be natural and human…

    What has amazed me is that so many people still believe something if they have seen it in a video. It is just no longer a medium that can be trusted (and has not been for quite a few years, IMHO).

  37. Larry Ledwick says:

    It has been that way for some time for people with deep pockets, (big advertising agencies etc.) but what I find scary, is now any geek in his basement can do essentially the same at sufficient resolution to pass as man on the street phone video, so now literally anything is not trustworthy.

    It would be interesting if there was some method to validate real man on the street video vs, manufactured propaganda video. Not sure if video has the same sort of metadata in the data stream as photoshop images have.

  38. E.M.Smith says:

    All meta-data can be manipulated with the right software and permissions… why chain of custody and sworn testimony matter… and why sometimes you require two witnesses to operations.

    OK, yeah, I guess “only” having Paramount, MGM, Fox, and the CIA / NSA able to make perfect fake videos was better…

  39. Another Ian says:

    Stealing Russia’s thunder!

    “Australia turning out to be the biggest meddler in the US election”


  40. jim2 says:

    IIRC, Infranview can manipulate metadata. I know I can get rid of it :)

  41. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    From your link:

    The Hill reports that Downer had earlier dispensed some $25 million in contributions to the Clinton Foundation back in 2006, leaving Australia in a position to ask for some fancy favors from the Democrats. It’s far from the only instance. Clarice Feldman notes in an email: “The only documented meddling in the election was by Australians.” She sent links to stories showing that illegal campaign donations went to Bernie Sanders from Australian sources, which resulted in a fine for Sanders, and the Australian Labor Party sent operatives to work against President Trump. Meddling, indeed.

    Well, that’s interesting….

    So when it’s done to the benefit of the Democrats, it’s OK?

    Maybe we need a “Special Council” for that one too ….

  42. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes Infranview can add and edit some image metadata
    jpg images have EXIF data (usually generated by the original camera or device that created the image – things like time date, lens and camera body used, shutter speed etc.)
    They can also have attached IPTC data, which is things like (author, caption, copyright info)
    TIFF files can also imbed comments, photoshop allows you to annotate photoshop PSD images with things you want to attach to the image.

    In Irfanview if you open a jpg info and go to the “image” tab it opens a drop down menu at the top of which is an “Information” option which shows you the basic image info like image size, date and if it exists you see buttons to go view the IPTC or EXIF embedded data. If you hit Cntl I on a thumbnail view it opens a menu that allows you to edit the IPTC info. There are also image tools that extract all the image data from online images etc.

    http://www.extractmetadata.com/ (this one supports some common video formats)

    The question I was asking, is I don’t even know how to get to what ever Embedded data is in video formats, or what data is contained – more specifically what sort of “tracks” you would leave in the data if you did one of these manipulations.

    To do fully manipulated video like was done in Avatar takes time, (lots of it) manpower and lots of computing horsepower. To do the Titanic they used a room full of DEC ALPHA machines to do the digital rendering, special studio setups to do the motion capture of people walking etc. Even with modern advanced systems you do not sit down and slap together a complete digital fake video image in 15 minutes or even in an afternoon.

    In that sense, hot breaking news shots off the street are fairly safe from faking if you can verify that they actually came from the event (cross checking background details from multiple sources etc.with images that you have high confidence are really from that location such as google street views). Bellingcat does a lot of that sort of forensic crowd sourcing correlating street images with other images but it takes time for complex situations. Using world wide crowd sourcing though they can track down where a picture was taken in a matter of an hour or two if it is taken in a major metropolitan area which has lots of visitor traffic and distinctive architecture like a unique fountain or building in the back ground.

    Where it gets dicy is days weeks later when folks have time to put together all the elements necessary to fake something like a fake presidential news conference or a compromising video clip.

    The question is, if you pull down a video on twitter or a news cast, how do you get to the embedded digital metadata in that video stream and what can it tell you?

    I tried one of the image extractors above (extractmetadata.com) on this image from twitter:

    It returns this info:

    Mimetype: image/jpeg
    Mimetype: image/jpeg
    Image dimensions: 1200×675
    Image dimensions: 1200×675
    Thumbnail: (binary, 13757 bytes)
    Mimetype: image/jpeg
    Unknown: sof-marker=2
    Video dimensions: 1200×675
    Video depth: 24
    Pixel aspect ratio: 1/1

  43. jim2 says:

    Using the library, OpenCV, you can copy only the image pixels to a new image. There should be no metadata concerning location, time, camera type, that sort of thing in the copy. You need the metadata related to image dimensions, etc.

    OpenCV is open source, so you can look at and modify the code if needed.

  44. Larry Ledwick says:

    This site has some video demonstrations you can run through to get info on a video and its contents. It shows use of machine learning to make rough guesses about the video contents of a clip.


  45. jim2 says:

    Just between us guys, you may have seen nude women painted up to look they they are wearing a bikini or other clothes, or to resemble other things or art. I would like to see if the ‘nudity’ algo could detect nudity in a scene with one of those walking down the street, say.

  46. jim2 says:

    I installed the Privacy Badger extension on my browsers. Great, informative app.

  47. jim2 says:

    I’m seeing PB blocking graph.facebook.com. This seems to be an explanation of what it is:


  48. jim2 says:

    OMG the graph.facebook.com appears to be on this page!

  49. Pouncer says:

    Never eat at a place called “Mom’s”; never gamble against a guy called ” Doc”; but dare I argue metallurgy with a man named “Smith”? Oh why not?

    I had the impression that the lead, pewter, tin solder, and related alloys associated with and used by white-smiths, tin-smiths, and tinkers to patch metal cookware (pots) were called, generically, ” pot metals”. And if the patched pot got too hot the patch plugging up the cracks would melt. So the repair would have been worthless. Not worth the metal involved. Not worth the tinker’s plug. Or dam.

    Urban legends, again?

  50. p.g.sharrow says:

    @ Pouncer; your story is closer to the correct one, but modern “Pot Metal” is a zinc/lead/tin alloy. Could be most any mix so really tricky to repair, but the pot refers to the melting pot and not the stew pot which was generally copper or bronze and pot metal could be used to repair/solder the stew pot!…pg

  51. p.g.sharrow says:

    I once watched a documentary of a real old time “Blacksmith” in Ethiopia making Iron from selected black rocks and wood charcoal just as had been done for thousands of years. Quite a project to smith stone into wrought iron lacking melting heat. The metal was wrought/forged into existence. Real magic! to turn stone into metal…pg

  52. E.M.Smith says:


    I doubt nudity apps would find the body paint. Frankly, I’ve had a couple pushed under my nose and I didn’t realize they were nude at first, or for some at the second look…

    Besides, many of them are made with a latex material and one could make the case that it is just really tight really flexible “clothing” as the person IS covered…

    Per Facebook:

    Facebook sticks beacons in various things. I don’t know all of them, but one I did hear of was if you just visited facbook and looked at something (i.e. not a user with a FB account) it stuck some spyware/beacon on your computer… So expect that any FB posting, comment, whatevr is likely going to put some sticky in your grill until proven otherwise…

    IMHO, anyone who uses or views facebook things needs to periodically purge & preen the dedicated machine used with it…

    For me, I just have a “movable feast” and move from system to system periodically and in that way at most they get multiple small “snips” of anything and never a full picture. (I’ll look like 10 different people not doing much in any one year).


    Likely just multiple meanings to the same word. One by the makers, another by the consumers…


    Pot metal—also known as monkey metal, white metal, or die-cast zinc—is a colloquial term that refers to alloys of low-melting point metals that manufacturers use to make fast, inexpensive castings. The term “pot metal” came about due to the practice at automobile factories in the early 20th century of gathering up non-ferrous metal scraps from the manufacturing processes and melting them in one pot to form into cast products. A small amount of iron usually made it into the castings, but too much iron raised the melting point, so it was minimized.


    There is no metallurgical standard for pot metal.
    Common metals in pot metal include zinc, lead, copper, tin, magnesium, aluminium, iron, and cadmium. The primary advantage of pot metal is that it is quick and easy to cast. Because of its low melting temperature, it requires no sophisticated foundry equipment or specialized molds. Manufacturers sometimes use it to experiment with molds and ideas (e.g., prototypes) before casting final products in a higher quality alloy.

    Depending on the exact metals “thrown into the pot,” pot metal can become unstable over time, as it has a tendency to bend, distort, crack, shatter, and pit with age. The low boiling point of zinc and fast cooling of newly cast parts often trap air bubbles within the cast part, weakening it. Many components common in pot metal are susceptible to corrosion from airborne acids and other contaminants, and internal corrosion of the metal often causes decorative plating to flake off. Pot metal is not easily glued, soldered, or welded.

    In the late nineteenth century, pot metal referred specifically to a copper alloy that was primarily alloyed with lead. Mixtures of 67% copper with 29% lead and 4% antimony and another one of 80% copper with 20% lead were common formulations.

    I’ve bolded a bit where it says in the 19th century it had a different meaning to {someone}. Note that is the 1800’s so prior to their claim that the definition came from car makers…

    I can’t prove it, it’ s just family lore, but I was told it had been a practice for a long time among metals-smiths. I’d not be surprised if the definition had several variations in different eras and peoples.

    Solders are very low melting point alloys that generally have lead, tin, a bit of antimony, and silver as the major components with the exact mix depending on intended use. From 100% tin (or with a bit of antimony) for water pipes to silver solders for fine items. 60/40 lead / tin was common in electronics at one point, then folks got paranoid about lead so I don’t know what they use now. Note the absence of zinc, iron, aluminum, and some of the other “pot metal” metals. (Especially zinc that was often used in casting so often the most common component of pot metal).

    Pewter has a similar composition to pot metal, but usually more precise and not prone to the failure modes of pot metal (from lousy random alloy properties in pot metal):


    Pewter is a malleable metal alloy. It is traditionally composed of 85–99% tin, mixed with copper, antimony, bismuth, and sometimes lead, although the use of lead is less common today. Silver is also sometimes used. Copper and antimony act as hardeners while lead is more common in the lower grades of pewter, which have a bluish tint. Pewter has a low melting point, around 170–230 °C (338–446 °F), depending on the exact mixture of metals. The word pewter is probably a variation of the word spelter, a term for zinc alloys (originally a colloquial name for zinc).

    Pewter was first used around the beginning of the Bronze Age in the Near East. The earliest piece of pewter found is from an Egyptian tomb from 1450 BC


    The constituents of pewter were first controlled in the 12th century by town guilds in France. By the 15th century, the Worshipful Company of Pewterers controlled pewter constituents in England. This company originally had two grades of pewter, but in the 16th century a third grade was added. The first type, known as “fine metal”, was used for tableware. It consisted of tin with as much copper as it could absorb, which is about 1%. The second type, known as “trifling metal” or “trifle”, was used for holloware and is made up of fine metal with approximately 4% lead. The last type of pewter, known as “lay” or “ley” metal, was used for items that were not in contact with food or drink. It consisted of tin with 15% lead. These three alloys were used with little variation until the 20th century.

    Older pewters with higher lead content are heavier, tarnish faster, and oxidation gives them a darker silver-gray color. Pewters containing lead are no longer used in items (such as cups, plates, or jewelry) that will come in contact with the human body due to health concerns stemming from the lead content. Modern pewters are available that are completely free of lead, although many pewters containing lead are still being produced for other purposes.

    A typical European casting alloy contains 94% tin, 1% copper, and 5% antimony. A European pewter sheet would contain 92% tin, 2% copper, and 6% antimony. Asian pewter, produced mostly in Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, contains a higher percentage of tin, usually 97.5% tin, 1% copper, and 1.5% antimony. This makes the alloy slightly softer.

    So-called “Mexican Pewter” is an alloy of aluminum, copper, and silica

    So you can see that Pewter is mostly tin with some hardening by copper (or antimony) and in the past loaded with some cheap lead for cheap heavy stuff. Then there's an aluminum allow that's trying to poach the name but is very light in weight and cheap… and not really pewter at all.

    Now think about that recipe a minute. Tin, lead, some copper or antimony. Sounds a lot like a lot of solders. Major difference is most solders are not hardened with copper (though some have a bit of antimony). So you ought to be able to find some alloys that would qualify as both a solder and pewter (and since pot metal is ill defined in terms of specific metals) some overlap with some pot metal alloys as well.

    Oh, and "type metal" will have overlap too. It has more antimony so it swells slightly on setting and presses itself into the type molds making very crisp cast type.

    So given all that overlap and variation, I'd not at all argue with the use of "pot metal" to describe a cheap solder used on pots… it might well be almost the same allow but mixed so as to have a lower melting point (so you could solder the pot without risk of melting the pot itself…)


    Yup. THE key to the iron age was the discovery that high iron content rocks could be reduces with charcoal to "sponge" of iron with some crap mixed in, then you could hammer that sponge into a single chunk of metal with the application of enough hammer, anvil, and arm… Essentially hammer welding it into a solid piece. Then working those pieces into something usable. IIRC, it was a clay furnace with air blown in from the bottom via billows (at least in Europe) as ore and char were put in the top. Then the whole thing allowed to cool down and the sponge broken out.

    Probably some guy working a billows on a fire with rock surround making some other metal (like copper) discovered some sponge left on a few of the rocks and started thinking….

  53. Larry Ledwick says:

    Metal working started out with the easy to melt and cast metals like lead, zinc copper and brass/bronze slowly working up to achieving the ability to work with higher melting temperature metals.

    The major problem with early iron production was the difficulty of achieving high enough temperatures to truly melt the iron to a full liquid melt. A common open forge type system really struggles to get to high enough temps, so they settled for a compromise of heating the iron containing ore to a high enough temperature to be forgable (plastic enough to hammer weld). At that point repeated heating and hammering slowly hammer welded (heat almost high enough plus pressure from the impact accomplished fusion of the adjacent bits of iron). This also slowly worked the silica slag impurities out of the metal. In the Japanese samurai sword they used repeated hammering to a flat bar then folding over and hammer welding into a new solid bar to effectively mix and fully bond the base iron. Pretty much the same technique used in Damascus steel swords.

    How much of that was technology transfer or independent discovery of things that worked is hard to say. It was not until the development of the Bessemer process and then the blast furnace that they developed methods to recycle heat and use chemical energy derived from burning excess carbon out of the steel that they could achieve truly liquid melts of high quality steel.

    Metal working and its development over time is a fascinating study of history and human ingenuity.

  54. jim2 says:

    Local news on CBS actually did a report on rapes of teenage girls in Sweden and tied them to immigrants. I was surprised. Maybe this particular PC dam is breaking?

  55. Larry Ledwick says:

    Probably because they realize that next summer there is a high likelihood that Paris will be burning from riots, and they won’t be able to hide it any more.

    On a different note, we can add this to the “Nature will find a way” file:


    On a similar note I got to thinking the other day, that a sail boat which had the ability to strain plastic bits ouf of the ocean would have an unlimited fuel supply for an external combustion engine for secondary propulsion. Small steam engine powered by burning kelp and plastic floating in the ocean.

    Just sail up to any island that has a waste plastic filled tidal pool somewhere on the lee side of the island and “filler her up”, or in the case of large open ocean eddies like the central pacific or the sargaso sea, a mid ocean refueling stop. Pound for pound plastic is as good a fuel as diesel or gasoline, you would just need to find an efficient way to burn it.

  56. jim2 says:

    Gassification of the plastic might work, kind of like the old wood burning cars.

  57. E.M.Smith says:

    Most of the plastic in the ocean is in tiny fragments. UV causes it to disintegrate. Leave a polyethylene tub or bottle in the sun for a year or two. When you next touch it, it will crumble.

    For use as fuel, I would use a fine sieve then chopper / crusher for big chunks. Air blow the stuff into a boiler. The most common consumer goods plastics burn very much like gasoline once ignited. Useful for getting logs started…

    So I’d basically make it a powdered coal engine then feed the plastic into the coal processor front end along with a bit of coal to stabilize the burn (i.e. a chunk of wet kelp, or stray seal carcass may cause a power drop, but not a flame out)

    Biggest problems would be a smokey sometimes toxic exhaust (wet anything burns poorly and some random crap will be mixed in with mystery chemicals in it… think Chinese toys with lead paint…). One would need to work out a cleaning system for the boiler.

    I’d not do the gasifier. Big heavy things full of high temperature stuff would not mix well with high seas… Gasifiers for wood are are about 20 gallons in size for a small engine car. And hot enogh to set things on fire. Also yields a poor power density gas (lots of CO and some CO2 with modest hydrogen). Unless you are running a cat cracker, that’s likely the closest analog.

    Might be easier to have a processing ship (or section) that collects the plastics, cleans them, then dries / melts and makes uniform pellets that could then be fed into a “pellet stove” like boiler… Would make for more reliable power, and you could likely use wood or straw based pellets if needed. Heck, you could even make a pellet press (they exist) part of the process and make your own fuel pellets from part plastic, part sawdust…

    That would let you use driftwood too ;-)

  58. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, looks like there’s a 3G phone Pi Hat. For $80 (plus other bits like battery, screen,…) you can plug a phone module onto your Pi and make it a smart phone…

    DIYmall Raspberry PI 3G GPRS GSM Expansion Board – American Version

    Price: $78.99 & FREE Shipping. Details

    Only 2 left in stock – order soon.
    Sold by DIYmall and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

    NOTE: This board can only work for USA 3G network,as AT&T phased out all 2G service January 1 in USA, 2017, this board is a good choice for RPI.
    Onboard TVS tube, SIM card protection IC, two 220UF tantalum capacitors and other ways to make the development board stable performance
    Onboard 3G antenna SMA interface.Support for updating the SIM5320A firmware and AT commands via the onboard MICRO USB
    Document Link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8DSGdAr8_31emxEYmtuVlJMRjQ
    What You Get: 1 X 3G SIM5320A Board, 1 X RF antenna, 1 X GPS antenna. Our 1 Year Worry-Free-Warranty and Friendly Customer Service.

    Kinda makes that whole DIY phone thing pretty easy…

  59. E.M.Smith says:

    Oh golly. They have a bunch for Arduino too along with this $40 one for the Pi Zero:


    Raspberry Pi GSM/GPRS/GNSS Bluetooth HAT Expansion Board GPS Module SIM868 Compatible With Raspberry Pi 2B 3B Zero Zero W Support Make a Call,Send Messagess,DataTransfer

    Price: $39.99 & FREE Shipping. Details

    Only 5 left in stock – order soon.
    Sold by Coolwell Technology and Fulfilled by Amazon. Gift-wrap available.

    Raspberry Pi connectivity, compatible with Raspberry Pi 2B/3B/Zero/Zero W
    Supports SMS, phone call, GPRS, DTMF, HTTP, FTP, MMS, email, etc.
    Support GPS, COMPASS, Glonass, LBS base station positioning, omni-positioning
    Bluetooth 3.0, supports data transferring through Bluetooth
    Onboard USB TO UART converter CP2102 for UART debugging

    Also a GSM module (so not for Qualcom based services like CDMA) GPRS is General Packet Radio Service used for data transfers.

    Mated with a Pi Zero would be quite small.

  60. Larry Ledwick says:

    Yes to do it efficiently you would need some means to pulverize and dry the goop. Ball mill activated by the sea motion?
    It might not be usable on a small sail boat but it would basically be adapting the idea of the filter feeding wales who strain krill out of the ocean as they swim, only instead of straining out krill have the system strain out plastic.

    Might be easier to use a centrifuge system, for separation since plastics that float are by definition lighter than water, centrifugal separation might be useful (would also get the micro fine plastic bits and micro beads and extract most of the water. One down side to an ocean environment is the salt content would produce some hydrochloric acid during combustion I strongly suspect.

    Then as you mentioned, either processing to pellets or flakes and then a burner designed to burn slurry fuels.

    Might be more useful as a fuel / range extender rather than the sole source fuel system. Turn a 500 gallon diesel tank in to a 1000 gallon equivalent tank by burning 50% plastic trash.

    Might also be an income producer for a third world country with trash covered beaches, use a tractor towed rake to pickup the trash and then process it into a fuel log as a binder for local biomass to make pressed fiber logs in tree starved locations like Haiti. Or to fuel a stationary simple generator on free fuel.

    The stuff has the same energy density as common fuels if you can created a burner system that will burn it efficiently.

    There has already been extensive research on burners to handle water powder slurry fuels.


    Click to access a263044.pdf

  61. E.M.Smith says:


    A $500 “sleeve” that goes around your iPhone or Android and makes it a Satellite phone…

    Has an annoying pop up solicitation to get their news letter (or something), so be warned….


  62. E.M.Smith says:


    Yes, gassified is cleaner and “modern” ones work well on coal, having lots of heat capture and reuse built in; but the basic tech is the same:

    the feedstock to be gasified is combined with steam and limited oxygen in a heated, pressurized vessel. The atmosphere inside the vessel is starved of oxygen, and the result is complex series of reactions of the feedstocks to produce syngas.

    Still making low fuel value syngas by partial oxidation of the carbon. This one adds a steam generator for heating the mix instead of direct partial combusting. To be efficient it will need to be big (more Volume per Surface area) and have lots of heat exchangers to reduce heat loss.

    Being steam driven it could be easier to keep happy in a pitching rolling boat (not a big hopper of essentially char at temperature) with more pressurized fluid based functions.

    THE major advantage of these things is cleaning the fuel gas is easier than cleaning boiler exhaust and ash. My guess is that it would “win” above some large size (maybe a 100 ft+ long boat with wide beam) but a smaller pelletized system would work better in the personal boat size (30 ft-?) due to heat loss at small scale and overall complexity of the gassifier system. At the scale of large ships, pellets would be a pain and there’s plenty of room for large systems, insulation, and engineers…

  63. Larry Ledwick says:

    I have been debating with myself about posting this now for about 24 hours. It first showed up in a twitter posting from Julian Assange

    22 hours ago
    CIA officers flood into Democratic party for 2018 mid terms

    The sources of this item bother me. First is of course the fact that the source link is billed as a “world socialist web site”. In that sense we can assume this is propaganda that serves the interests of socialists (ie Sanders? or a broader socialist agenda ??) or somebody who wants this news item to be attached to the socialist agenda. The question is first who benefits and to serve what agenda?


    It is apparently trying to tie together an implied conspiracy between the Democratic party and never Trump CIA types to pack the Congress with candidates with close ties to the CIA in the upcoming mid term elections.

    In a time when even so called respectable media like CNN & MSNBC etc. are clearly wholly owned propaganda outlets for the Progressives, there is no doubt at all, that something titled “World Socialist Web Site” is somebodies targeted propaganda source, and the fact it is being pushed to prominence on twitter by Julian Assange adds in an entire second layer of misdirection.

    Is he the white knight of free and open sourcing some think, or is he a Russian puppet news organ pretending to be serving the freedom of information demographic? Is the web site so blatantly named a clumsy false flag source to attach the implied conspiratorial action to world socialists or is it really representative of the broader socialist movement?

    Quite frankly I have no clue – – – this wilderness of mirrors crap gets really old after a while, but it is an interesting tidbit to file away for future reference as the move toward the mid terms develops and all the political games going on in DC and the private agenda brokers like Soros continue with their jockeying for power, position and momentum.

  64. E.M.Smith says:


    Why I rarely get excited about all such “exciting news”. Once you are in the political / espionage mirror house it is nearly impossible to know the actual actors, motivations, what ‘is’ vs fabrication. Truth entirely unattainable and at best you can get to strong suspicions.

    So I usually note it with interest, then watch the ‘show’…

    That said, CIA folks are not supposed to ‘out’ themselves, even secretaries and janitors become targets. I have trouble thinking they would self identify much. There are some who are visible figures but it ought to only be a few.

    BUT, they are government employees and we’ve had many years of Democrats ‘packing the roles’ with fellow travelers and some purging of opponents. I’d not be at all surprised if it was something like 60/40-% Dem biased, and that ought to show up in attendance at party events.

    FWIW, on college graduation I had the CIA application all filled out (they use a lot of economists to study economic destabilization and predict economic drivers of political actions), but decided not to sign it. Why? The idea of spending the rest of my life double and triple guessing everyone I met didn’t sit well. Post 9/11 I did send them a resume, but then they were flooded with folks volunteering. I’d likely be willing to work for then since most of my life is behind me so not much new duplicitous stuff to deal with, but they don’t seem to prefer hiring young folks out of college (so they can mold them?) or military folks.

    But that time of application did cause me to look a bit at the ‘life style’ issues. Being publicly outed was considered a generally bad idea. Perhaps this has changed in the era of facial recognition and Langley having a visible driveway / checkpoint for the daily commute. I suspect a well equipped camera heavy vehicle capturing faces and license plates could make a decent roster in a few weeks of ‘commuting’ to nearby.

    My guess would be that the WWSocialists are really just trying to stir up sentiment against Trump, as he is very much non-socialist-friendly. Especially given that many junior agents are field types deployed to battle zones with the military and that tends to mold them to a more conservative POV as their careers advance. But nobody will know but them…

  65. jim2 says:

    RE media, I like the old Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes movies. Even in one of those, as he and Watson are driving off into the sunset, Holmes remarks that one day we will live in a world without poverty. Right.

  66. Larry Ledwick says:

    This news broke on twitter a little while ago, good to see a news organization has picked it up.
    Short take Brittany Pettibone a US citizen who actively promote traditional conservative values, and her boyfriend Martin Sellner, have been detained for more than 24 hours without charges in the UK and will likely be deported and banned from the UK. Apparently Brittany was planning to interview Tommy Robinson who has been going into no go zones and trying to document that citizens are being forcibly ejected from those areas by immigrants.

    On twitter they are pushing the following hash tags to get wider circulation of the info.
    #FreePettibone #FreeSellner


  67. jim2 says:

    LL – infowars has a piece on it and lists some of the people running.


  68. Zeke says:

    inre: LL, Cia agency running for office

    The Mainstream Meedja is full of CIA agents. The entertainment industry works with the CIA. Many 60s icons had previously worked with the Cia. If you continue to study Julian Assange’s tweets, you will know that pop culture, from Gloria Steinam to that creepy Anderson guy are CIA operatives. Mkultra program participants were deeply involved in 60s culture. The agency also supported
    ugly trends in modern art. Again, abuses by that agency is something Assange has documented, including its involvement in pop culture.

    From page 9 of the Senate inquiry into the CIA involvement in the press
    at the time of the Jfk ass’n:

    They found 40 cia agents in the press covering JFK. They also like to rent-a-pastor, and I have come to realize that the right has its mockingbird media as well.


    Click to access docid-32403785.pdf

    Click to access ciasuseofjournal00unit.pdf


  69. Zeke says:

    I now believe that most famous people are sons and daughters and grand children of Dulles’ Paperclip maneuver.

    Has any one ever watched Mika Brzezinski on tv?

  70. Larry Ledwick says:

    Interesting study of studies showing how much genetic influence there is for intelligence. Lists the 10 study findings which consistently are replicated in following studies.

    Cliff’s notes – intelligence is strongly influenced by genetics in the range of 30% -50% which is far larger than most other characteristics which have demonstrated genetic influence.


  71. Larry Ledwick says:

    As sort of confirmation of Pointman’s analysis, President Trump is getting ready to cut the mainstream media completely out of the campaign picture. It will be interesting to see the frenzy as they realize they are simply no longer relevant, thanks to streaming media they can be completely bypassed.

    This should be fun to watch.
    From twitter
    Jennifer Jacobs
    2 hours ago
    “MAGA direct” — Trump campaign says it’s going to livestream rallies from now on.

    “This will include crowd shots that the mainstream media have intentionally neglected to show,” campaign manager Brad Parscale says in a statement.

  72. E.M.Smith says:

    Every person, a publisher… and broadcaster… if they want.

    I’ve gone from news junky watching almost constantly for hours as background; to about 1/2 hour per day of selected stations only AND skipping over any story as soon as it demonstrates Trump Bashing. That Trump bashing was what drove me to learn how each video source lets me skip particular stories.

    I also now almost exclusively watch foreign news sources. Franc24, Sky, RT, Al Jazeera. IF any time is left over, I’ll launch Reuters in the 30 minute version, but usually skip over about 1/2 the stories they present as either Trump Bashing or re-runs.

    One of the great joys now is just hitting “next” on the remote (really a right arrow) and dumping a story at the first brain fart emitted in the direction of Trump. I DO hope they are gathering minute by minute statistics and seeing those stories get the big flush…

    Only on rare occasions (when the others say something interesting is happening) will I even bother to launch ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, Bloomberg, etc. etc. Since they don’t really DO news any more, what’s the point? I don’t want their propaganda pieces and their always doing “Get Trump” so I don’t even need to watch them for opposition research any more. I know what it will be already. Take whatever Trump has done in the last week and call it bad, call him bad, assert he’s in trouble and / or stupid, and claim Russia has him in their pocket but Mueller is close to hanging him. Well, sorry, no. And don’t need to waste time deciding that.

    It’s pretty bad when you have driven away your most addicted customers.

    On those news channels with each story as a stream, I can rapidly scan the description / title of each story and know up front I can skip 90% of them. The others I can dip into ,and as soon as the “Get Trump” bashing starts, exit. In the end, once you notice you are skipping 95% of their content, you decide there’s really no reason to launch it at all.

    Oh Well. I’m just glad I’m not in the newspaper or TV news business as they are rapidly going out of business due to their own stupidity and biases.

    Whenever POTUS has the Potus Channel up, I’m subscribing. He has more information density in one tweet than MSNBC has in an hour long “show” (where they spend 3/4 of the time bitching about Trump and the other quarter preening and congratulating each other on being superior and virtue signalling; despite being overpaid idiots.) So IMHO it will be an easy walkover for Trump to out rate them. IIRC the MSM shows get some low single digit millions of viewers. Trump could easily get mid 30 millions.

  73. jim2 says:

    The Demoncrats are now criticizing Trump because the prereqs of the meeting aren’t laid out. They are so stupid. Trump has a history of not telegraphing his intent and a list of prereqs would do just that. They “worry” that a meeting with Trump will give Rocket Man credibility with his people. Do they not understand what a bloodthirsty dictator is? He doesn’t need the good will of his people to continue to rule, only the good will of the military.

    Now Pocahontas is on Fox News. I’m about to gag …

  74. E.M.Smith says:


    The best fit I have found to The Left & Democrats method is simple:

    What did Trump (or any opponent) do?

    1) Call it, and them, stupid and a risk (in all variation of terms possible).

    2) Create fictitious reasons why it is harmful ( don’t worry about accuracy or truth).

    3) Lie for effect as often and as loudly as possible. Morality need not apply.

    4) Create or drum up a movement to do street theatre promoting the trash talk as a social movement. (vis BLM, Antifa and “metoo” et. al.). Try to hook these to unconnected but real issues where possible. Blame it on Trump.

    Those are the big lumps. Basically classical propaganda techniques. So you get stuff like the exploitation of school shootings and beating up Trump supporters, then shouting about violence at Trump meetings (after they caused it… their policies cause the school shootings, as to direct instigation that is still unclear). It’s a mix of classical Goebbles with Alinsky, IMHO.

    Do not ever expect logical consistency, adherence to truth or facts, politeness, nor even reason from them. Do expect emotionally charged fabrications. It is both easier and more effective.

  75. Another Ian says:


    Re above – you could win a free book here


    “From Ayers to Eternity” might be the pick so far

  76. Zeke says:

    Does any one have any more they want to add to the list, ho ho ho.

    Resignations from Sept to Dec in chronological order:

    Equifax CEO Richard Smith Sep. 26, 2017

    Dentsply Sirona Inc CEO Jeffrey T. Slovin Oct. 2, 2017
    Greater Naples CEO Paul Thein Oct. 4, 2017
    Pepsico CEO D Shivakumar Oct. 9, 2017
    Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun Oct. 12, 2017
    Oman Air CEO Paul Gregorowitsch Oct. 16, 2017
    ASCENDAS Funds Management CEO Chia Nam Toon Oct. 20, 2017
    Hudson’s Bay CEO Gerald Storch Oct. 20, 2017
    Red Cross Texas Gulf Coast Region CEO David Brady Oct. 28, 2017
    BuildDirect CEO Jeff Booth Oct. 29, 2017
    Podesta Group founder Tony Podesta Oct. 30, 2017
    Menninger Clinic CEO Dr. C. Edward Coffey Oct. 31, 2017

    Renaissance Technologies CEO Robert Mercer Nov. 2, 2017
    Ardent Leisure CEO Simon Kelly Nov. 7, 2017
    El Al CEO David Maimon Nov. 8, 2017
    Altice CEO Michel Combes Nov. 9, 2017
    Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane CEO Themba Dlamini Nov. 14, 2017
    James Cancer Hospital CEO Michael Caligiuri Nov. 16, 2017
    PR Electric Power Authority CEO Ricardo L. Ramos Nov. 17, 2017
    Ellies CEO Wayne Samson Nov. 21, 2017
    Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman Nov. 22, 2017
    Oi SA CEO Marco Schroeder Nov. 24, 2017
    Tumblr CEO David Karp Nov. 27, 2017
    London Stock Exchange CEO Xavier Rolet Nov. 28, 2017
    Bruce Telecom CEO Bart Cameron Nov. 29, 2017
    TravelCenters of America LLC CEO Thomas O’Brien Nov. 30, 2017
    Tricentennial Commission CEO Edward Benavides Nov. 30, 2017

    City Light CEO Larry Weis Dec. 4, 2017
    Steinhoff’s R100bn CEO Markus Jooste Dec. 5, 2017
    Uchumi Supermarkets CEO Julius Kipng’etich Dec. 6, 2017
    Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool Dec. 8, 2017
    Deutsche Boerse CEO Carsten Kengeter Dec. 8, 2017
    Nation Media Group CEO Joe Muganda Dec. 11, 2017
    Cheil Worldwide CEO Daiki Lim Dec. 11, 2017
    Fenway Health CEO Dr. Stephen L. Boswell Dec. 11, 2017
    Diebold/Nixdorf CEO Andy Mattes Dec. 14, 2017
    Diebold/Nixdorf CEO Andy Mattes Dec. 14, 2017
    AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson Dec. 15, 2017
    Vast Resources CEO Roy Pitchford Dec. 18, 2017
    Spackman Entertainment Group CEO Charles Spackman Dec. 18, 2017
    ESPN President John Skipper Dec. 18, 2017
    Innogy CEO Peter Terium Dec. 20, 2017
    Papa John CEO John Schnatter Dec. 22, 2017
    NYPD Police Chief Carlos Gomez retires Dec. 22, 2017
    Alphabet Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt Dec. 22, 2017

  77. E.M.Smith says:

    @Another Ian:

    I just put up:

    The Agony And The Ennui

    Suggested theme song:

    How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away?


  78. E.M.Smith says:


    I heard a bit about “The Trump Effect” I think on the radio. They listed folks who attacked Trump then either got fired, quit, or in some way got their career damaged (and / or got arrested).

    It was a remarkable list.

    Can’t find it now.

  79. Zeke says:

    I personally think a lot of very serious evidence has become available, and possibly indictments have been made. Time will tell.

    Executive Order Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption
    read: human trafficking, some for organs.

    I do remember a bunch of CEOs of charities stepped down.

  80. Zeke says:

    We could search “CEO resigns”, but too relaxed on this beautiful March evening! Cheers and enjoy

  81. Larry Ledwick says:

    UK government has gone over the edge, they have detained free lance journalist Lauren Southern just a hour or so ago, taken her passport and taken her in for questioning. After the fuss they created just yesterday pulling the same bone headed stunt with Martin Sellner and Brittany Pettibone.

    @Martin_Sellner and @BrittPettibone

  82. Larry Ledwick says:

    House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence announces it is wrapping up its investigation of possible Russian interference in US elections and related topics.

    Click to access hpsci_russia_investigation_one_page_summary.pdf

  83. Larry Ledwick says:

    Oh I am so glad that all our energy worries are solved, in only 15 years we will see unicorns in every – – – – Oh sorry wrong script

    In only 15 years we will see nearly free unlimited energy.


  84. E.M.Smith says:

    Don’t we already have unlimited nearly free energy from U fission? (Once you factor out the unnecessary astounding cost over-runs from excessive regulation and protests).

  85. Larry Ledwick says:

    Happy news AI is not an existential threat to humans, there are simple counter measures which can defeat it.

    Boston Dynamics meets its match

  86. Another Ian says:

    Do-It-Yourself: The solar variability effect on climate.
    Andy May / 10 hours ago March 13, 2018

    By Javier”


  87. Another Ian says:

    On diesel cars


    and subsequent. Some different views on VW in there!

    “EPA designed a test. VW worked out how to pass it. Why is EPA calling foul?”

  88. Steve C says:

    @Another Ian – That’s exactly my take on VW … hooray! I’m not alone! :-D

  89. E.M.Smith says:

    I was given rude looks by some friends when I asserted “VW looked at the requirement to pass the test, and designed a car that did it. I don’t see where they did anything wrong.”

    IF the government didn’t like how they passed the test, they ought to have specified a different test.

    It’s like if I’m required to be under 200 lbs to get some particular job so I diet for 3 months and then fast for 2 days prior to the weigh-in. Is that “cheating”? If, 6 months after hiring, I’m back up at 220 lbs is that a crime? If they don’t have any rule about weight after being hired?

    Basically, the government said “Your car must do THIS” and VW did exactly “THIS”. Seems reasonable to me.


    I’m not worried about AI taking over the world. It can do some neat tricks (like play chess and drive trucks on a freeway) but stumbles on things like being able to tell a real person from a poster of a person or knowing that scrambled eggs on a plate came from those round white things in the fridge…

    I have no doubt that someday AI will get to the point of having decent performance on general human problem sets, but that’s a long ways off.

    I’m reminded of the AI that was very successfully trained to identify Army Tanks in photos. It could, with 100% accuracy, identify Russian vs NATO tanks. Then they tested how small a part of a tank it took to identify. Eventually they put in a part of the photo with NO bit of tank in it. 100% accurate. Well, seems all the Russian photos were from spy cameras with fast grainy film and it had learned to tell fine grain photos from coarse grain…

    It’s that kind of thing that will cause AI to be of limited problem domains (i.e. specialized cases like kicking spotted fruit off packing belts) for some time to come.

    Then there’s the problem of vision. It already takes a huge processing box to give cars vision at about the level of a rat. Maybe only the level of a big bug. There was that Tesla that followed the paint line on a freeway right into the cement barrier (they put those cement lane barriers in to close a lane by slowly moving traffic to the right one lane, but left the paint…) and the one that decapitated the diver by not being able to tell a light colored semi-trailer from sky so went under it (well, 1/2 the car went under it…)

    So a few bugs left to work out…

    As we’re approaching the end of Moore’s Law, we can’t just wait for the boxes to get a lot smaller and faster either. There’s still some room there, but not enough to make a 100 IQ general purpose robot. I think we’ll be lucky to get to about the IQ of a house cat. IBM’s “Watson” is a room size, just so it can handle spoken questions and look up answers. That’s not going to fit inside a football sized space without a LOT of added Moore’s Law doublings that just don’t seem to be on the horizon.

    So unless there’s some big breakthrough in alternatives to silicon or some kind of quantum computing (or whatever hand-wave) I’m not seeing much to worry about.

    I’ll re-evaluate that position when, maybe in 20 years, we have a domestic robot that knows not to vacuum the cat and can wash my socks without losing any of them… bonus points if it can make coffee and put ham and eggs on the table while I’m getting dressed…

    ( I wonder in a world with autonomous robots, how long before “robots rights” groups form to demand they not be forced to do menial labor?… and would those groups have people in them, or robots?… and would tripping a robot be a “hate crime”?…)

  90. Larry Ledwick says:

    Then there is the problem of personality clashes between your house hold robots. What happens if your Rumba just really dislikes your kitchen helper robot?

    I was just kind of amused at the reaction of the robot dog,it just sort of froze like a goat that had freaked out. It had no idea what had happened and no idea what to do to right itself (at least at the point the video cut off). More a comment on the fact that special purpose robots don’t have any ability to solve novel problems that they have never seen before, or been pre-programmed to deal with, where a human can recognize that the novel problem is something it has no canned answer for and then can pause and devise a work around strategy that it thinks might be successful.

    In the case of war robots everyone is worried about, the trick for dealing with them is to come up with a banana peel solution that is completely out side their programed behavior.

  91. E.M.Smith says:


    Just crop dust the attacking robot fleet with superglue and dust… Every sensor will be offine in no time… and a lot of joints and wheels will stop working so well too.

  92. E.M.Smith says:

    Yet Another Batch Of Security Holes:

    AMD Chips with a “secure processor” (that is supposed to keep things like encryption keys and passwords safe by hiding what is being done) get an exploit set that uses that as a place to hide too. I’ve never liked any of the “hidden processor” things that both AMD and Intel have added lately (often for digital rights management – i.e. locking out your ability to do what you want with your computer).

    Well, the good news is you must already have been compromised in some other way for these exploits to be usable. That bad news is they let the systems cracker install persistent code to keep your machine compromised in a place you can’t get to to see it or fix it…

  93. Zeke says:

    inre: VW and emissions.

    Try to imagine VW being fined outrageous amounts of money for emissions. First of all, this has a chilling effect on all business, because it is such a massive fine over such a tiny molecular measurement.

    Then imagine that VW is allowed to pay the fine by “investing” in EV infrastructure in the US — esp. California.

    It comes out rather well for the German car company, and the European Union, which is banning real cars and planning on selling EVs to both Europeans and Americans in their place.

    California is trying to follow EU policy on many things, including banning plastics (like straws) and outlawing real cars.


  94. Zeke says:

    Here are some refs:

    Volkswagen Settlement – California ZEV Investments
    Dec 11, 2017 – Appendix C requires VW to invest $800 million in ZEV projects in California over a 10-year period. Eligible projects include installing zero-emission vehicle fueling infrastructure (for both electric- and hydrogen-powered cars), funding brand-neutral consumer awareness campaigns that will help grow the …

    California’s EV charging network gets $800 million spark from VW
    Jul 27, 2017 – SACRAMENTO — In a decision with lasting implications for the growth of electric vehicles, state regulators on Thursday approved Volkswagen’s plan to invest nearly $1 billion in California’s EV network as penalty for its diesel-emission cheating scandal. The plan approved by the state Air Resources Board …

    VW tells California plans for electric car charging in poorer areas
    Jun 29, 2017 – DE) on Thursday told California it was expanding efforts to build electric car infrastructure in poorer communities, responding to regulators who … In a supplemental plan released on Thursday, the VW unit said it aimed to spend 35 percent of investment funds in such areas during the first $200 million, …

    Volkswagen chooses Sacramento for electric car program | The …
    Jun 29, 2017 – The company’s choice of Sacramento is subject to approval by the California Air Resources Board, which helped uncover the diesel scandal and is overseeing Volkswagen’s electric car investments. The air-pollution agency told Volkswagen last month to retool its original investment proposal,saying the …

    Volkswagen Dieselgate Settlement Includes $2 Billion Investment …
    Volkswagen Dieselgate Settlement Includes $2 Billion Investment Towards Electric Cars … are subject to the approval of Judge Charles R. Breyer of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, who presides over the federal Multi-District Litigation (MDL) proceedings related to the diesel matter.

    California $200M VW Clean-Car Investment | Maryland EV
    Dec 18, 2017 – California approved a $200 million investment plan projects supporting emission-free cars and EV infrastructure, with plans for 400 additional EV charging stations. The investment was 30 months in the making, and draws on the $800 million Volkswagen settlement funds designated for California. About 35 …

    I would like to congratulate California on its abundant, low cost electricity supply, which will welcome the German investments into the existing grids.

  95. Zeke says:

    llanfar says:
    12 March 2018 at 4:11 pm
    @Zeke et.al.

    The full list of resignations maintained here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1B-95giwldeKgsd0nYiw_sEaSf4kGNLZgEIvEhL2mVAw/htmlview?sle=true#gid=0

    Thank you for the AMAZING link Ilanfar

  96. Larry Ledwick says:

    Another human evolution puzzle piece, although I strongly disagree with their assertion that early humans could not have traveled 30 miles to gather selected rocks.

    American Indian tribes moved far greater distances on foot just as seasonal migrations between hunting grounds and wintering locations.

    A human can easily walk 10 miles a day and if motivated can cover 25-50 miles in a single effort.
    (modern marathon distances, and the JFK 50 mile walk challenge for relatively sedentary modern kids in the 1960’s)

    Some of the early western pioneers in America walked 1200 + miles over a summer (their wagons and live stock actually slowed them down, although it allowed them to mover more cargo)


  97. E.M.Smith says:


    And don’t forget Rome marched soldiers over Roman Roads all the way to Israel and Spain… Before that, Persia walked to Greece, then home again.

    Oh, and IMHO people have been using boats for many thousands of years longer than “historians” allow. Sticks and hides will not be preserved. Yet what do we see at the earliest point in “history”? Fully formed sailing vessels with complex construction. 50,000 years ago the Aborigines got to Tasmania. I doubt they walked… /sarc;

    Oh, and on a negative bent: Remember the Trail Of Tears where the Cherokee Nation was walked from the Carolina’s to Oklahoma in one go. All sizes, shapes, and ages of them.

    IIRC the Inca didn’t use carts, but had roads over most of South America. Runners and walkers the whole way. A good runner can hold about 5 miles / hour easy. A 25 mile distance being 5 hours. Run one rest one you are done in a 10 hour shift. IIRC#2 there were some “primitive” armies that were expected to run 20 to 40 miles and THEN fight all day. Just because modern humans are lazy out of shape fat lumps doesn’t mean our ancestors were.

    Oh, and Neanderthals were believed to hunt larger game by “walking it down”. We’d walk at a pace that made them inefficient. So after about 10 hours of no stop for more hay and water we could just walk up and poke it with a spear. BUT that means we spent 10 hours constantly walking. Even at only 3 mph that’s 30 miles. (I’m pretty sure I’ve spent 10 hours at Disneyland walking with only occasional sit downs on rides… and I know I’ve walked 5 miles in one train ride that had a 2.5 mile walk on each end to the stations… pulling a suitcase no less.)

    Perhaps eventually those anthropologists will go talk to the folks who study other primates and learn that Apes and Chimps already form social groups, plan hunting parties and raids, and do similar “social” things. It’s the idea that people are oh so special that’s broken. Heck, even my dog will bring me toys to share in play. Packs cooperatively hunt. Etc. etc.

  98. Larry Ledwick says:

    Here in Colorado I have personally seen evidence of exactly that sort of journey. A friend of mine introduced me to a guy that lives in Salida Colorado. He took us arrow head hunting, and he showed us where the local Indians (probably Arapaho) walked up the north side of the Arkansas river just upstream from the Royal gorge, and you could see the rocks that they sat on to knapp flint that they had picked up near the top of Monarch pass just west of Salida.

    As the crow flies it is 50 miles from Canyon City Colorado to near the summit on Monarch pass. They clearly made the trip to harvest flint from the deposits up on Monarch pass, and they knapped flint tools as they journeyed back down the valley out to the plains near Pueblo Colorado.

  99. Another Ian says:

    Well said that man IMO

    “(I can only echo what Nigel Farage said once on being asked what he thought about Gay Marriage:

    “I don’t”. he said. “I have far far more important things on my mind”.

    Amen to that).”


  100. E.M.Smith says:

    The 5 Mile Report:

    Nothing like empirical data to give clue…

    So today I dropped my car off at The Mechanic to have some work done. He’s 5.2 miles from my home. Instead of the usual “arrange a ride” or have him lose 20 minutes given me a lift, I walked home.

    It was lightly raining about 1/2 the time. I was wearing dress black leather shoes (i.e. not the best for hiking). I stopped at one Starbucks for a “pick me up” and about mile 4 at the grocers where I picked up dinner. (So the last mile was carrying a bag of about 5 lbs.)

    I’m in horrid condition having done nearly nothing for at least 6 months AND I’m on Medicare (i.e. old, not a young guy…)

    At 3 miles I decided I needed to sit long enough for a coffee. Starbucks was calling my name.

    At 4 miles I was starting to feel a bit tired. The balls of my feet were informing me that they had not dealt with percussive to pavement in some years. My quads were reminding me that my Karate days were some decades in the past. Nothing horrible, but I’d have be happy with another Starbucks. Oddly, there was one Right There, but I decided that was not a good test, so hit the grocery for dinner instead.

    At the 5.2 mile point:

    I’m home. I could do this again in a few hours, BUT, I’d want different shoes. My right foot is on the verge of a blister like feeling near the ball of the foot. Seems the sock / shoe slide a lot on that foot there. Other than that, no problem.

    To do 10 miles / day, I’d need proper shoes. Doing it regularly carrying a 10 to 20 lbs pack would require a proper pack, not a grocery bag clutched tightly.

    To do 20 miles / day, I’d need to do 5 to 10 miles a day for a couple of weeks first to get in condition, and take time out whenever I needed to stop to prevent a blister and let it make callus instead. Inside a month, I could easily do 25 miles a day, any day, every day; with proper fitting shoes and pack. I’d not be really happy, but “oh well”.

    That’s my best guess.

    It is absolutely clear I can do 5 miles a day, and likely every day with proper shoes or every other day with what I wore today (at least until the callus built up in a week or two).

    There ix zero problem with “primitive people” going 25 miles for a bit of special stone that they would need to collect maybe 2 or 4 times a year.

  101. Another Ian says:


    Australian army marching pace was 4 mph. IIRC A veteran of our 6th Division in North Africa told me that on the first push west against the Italians they were marching 40 miles a day. And the water ration (including shaving) wasn’t much.

  102. Larry Ledwick says:

    Some interesting observations on walking speeds. I know from when I was closely monitoring such things that in my 30’s I could maintain a walking speed just short of 4 mph for many miles if motivated (ie walking to work), my personal preferred walking paces is between 3.0 and 3.5 mph if on smooth terrain and not motivated to “see the sights”. When walking for exercise I walk not for distance but for a time interval, (usually 30 min to 1 hour) and in my 60’s I normally cover a 1.4 mile loop in around 40 – 45 minutes if I am just out to get some sun or about 2.3 – 2.5 mph. If intent on walking briskly for exercise my pace is very close to 3.0 -3.2 mph.


    From military references:
    The US military uses a 30-inch step. Normal marching cadence is 120 steps per minute. That equals 3.4 miles per hour or a 17.64-minute mile.

    PDF study of walking speeds – see table 4 page 3 of 6 in the ref linked below
    Speeds given in cm/s (one MPH = 44.704 cm/sec)
    For Men the comfortable walking speeds age 20 – 70 range from about 3.0 to 3.25 mph
    For women from approx 2.8 – 3.15 mph

    Walking speed study pdf

  103. Larry Ledwick says:

    They are doing something goofy with the link above, try this url.

    Click to access 26-1-15.pdf

  104. Another Ian says:

    E.M. FYI

    “A website that chronicles the climate insanity:
    climatechangepredictions.org/ ”


  105. Larry Ledwick says:

    I did a timed walk today just to verify, and my walking speed for 2.8 miles was almost exactly 3.0 mph. My pace is what you would call a business like walk , not pushing, and not just sight seeing, not trying to work up a sweat, just a “get where you are going” pace with no urgent deadline you had to meet.

    Given that they have found that walking pace and leg strength are two of the best predictors of health, it is nice to see I can still maintain a good walking pace without being a creaking old man a few hours later.

    I generally stop active exercise around the time of Thanksgiving and restart intentional exercise in the spring when the weather improves (this is a legacy of my marathon training schedule I did when I was actively running) I found that a 8-12 weeks of light duty in the winter helped avoid over training issues and slip on ice running injuries. As I get older I just am not as motivated to walk or run in cold weather any more either.

    Unfortunately we are supposed to have a few days of cool rainy weather over the next week or so or I would make an effort to measure my “brisk in a hurry” walking pace and see how close to 4 mph I can still maintain over a few miles.




  106. Another Ian says:

    Looks like some “features” around that Florida bridge


  107. Another Ian says:

    “Mystery solved: Rain means satellite and surface temps are different. Climate models didn’t predict this…”


  108. Larry Ledwick says:

    This WOOD thread has kind of fallen off the front page as it were, but here is an interesting article on the differences in how conservatives and progressives cope with ideas from the other side and how they evaluate new ideas or concepts. I must say it captures my own experience very well.

    I used to hang out on a couple web forums which were populated by mostly progressive leftist thinkers which also happened to be into cars and some other interests I have. I found over time that try as I might it was simply impossible to have a discussion about ideas as their absolutist view of the world blocked out all debate, and quickly turned into angry posting and name calling rather than exploring the nuances of the discussion. In fact they did not ever “debate” it was either agreement or anger there was never any agree to disagree middle ground, or thoughtful chin stroking and acknowledgement that they had never looked at the issue that way and would have to thing about it. In fact they “never had to think about it”. It was as if all their opinions were fully formed and had become declared immutable and beyond debate.


  109. Jon K says:

    Thanks for posting that Larry. I’ve been so frustrated with the lack of thoughtful dialogue from the progressive side of things. I really enjoy debate and I’ve been deprived by the lack of civil response from the other side.

  110. E.M.Smith says:

    FWIW, yes, I know it’s past time for a new bit of W.O.O.D….

    Yes, in general, my assessment of strong progressives is simple:

    1) IF it makes you feel good, it must be right.
    2) IF you have to think, it makes you feel bad, so avoid thinking.
    3) IF forced to think against your will by someone making you question things, they are bad.
    4) IF it (they) make you feel bad, they must be wrong.
    5) Is there a Starbucks near here? All this good vs bad “debate” has made me want a soy latte…

    IMHO, there are people who say “What I want does not matter. Search for what IS.” They tend to end up in the “conservative” camp as that’s where the realities of the world put you. There are people who say “What would make me feel good and how can I be empowered to change the world in a way that pleases me?” They tend to end up in the “progressive” camp as they are ignoring realities and love the fantasy, strokes, virtue signalling, and general party don’t be negative attitude. At least until reality crashes their house of cards projects.

    I know, it’s a gross generalization. But it’s what I’ve observed. (I don’t have to like it for it to be the data…) Regardless of knowledge or skill, the Progressives want to be “actualized” and feel important and good. Regardless of feeling important or good, conservatives want to have knowledge of reality and skill to work with it; ability first “actualized” later…

  111. Larry Ledwick says:

    One minor addition here, is the tendency of Progressives to immediately assign sinister motives to any decision that they do not agree with.

    If you want to prevent forest fires, you must be in the pocket of the fire fighters unions or some other nonsense evil agenda, not the painfully obvious you don’t like fires that burn down people’s homes.

    Insert the sinister motive of your choice :
    You are on the pay roll of some sinister lobby group

    You hate some group of people (it could not possibly be because you don’t like their actions and could care less what group they belong to)

    You are insensitive, have no empathy, are hateful, racist, controlled by the Rothschilds, evil or a killer etc.

    They seem to live in a black and white world where there are no such things as:
    1. It’s complex
    2. There are two sides to that issue and both sides have legitimate issues

  112. Larry Ledwick says:

    Second note here – this if adopted might cause issues with your local DNS grounding method for urls you don’t want accessing your system.


  113. E.M.Smith says:


    Well, that’s why there’s variety and open source browsers. Seamonkey is / was a more privacy oriented fork of Mozilla – they would never go along with that DNS tunneling.

    FWIW, I’m also pretty sure they will have scale problems and latency issues. Part of the whole idea in how DNS is built is to have layers and locality. Start making that all central and remote, it’s going to be slow.

    So I figure worst case is just putting in place a different browser. Well, really worst case would be needing to maintain my own browser, but we know a “community” will evolve to do that. Then theirs also the potential to just locally hijack the DNS over HTTPS process as a MITM attack. Since you have the source code… just point it’s HTTPS at your own local DNS and Cert…

  114. jim2 says:

    Obama, Facebook and the power of friendship: the 2012 data election
    A unified computer database that gathers and refines information on millions of potential voters is at the forefront of campaign technology – and could be the key to an Obama win


  115. Pingback: W.O.O.D. – 20 March 2018 | Musings from the Chiefio

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