Sunday, December 30, 2012
  End of 'glasnost'

For several years NPR seemed to be on the verge of opening the door to reality, on the verge of becoming a neutral news organization. They were occasionally able to give all sides of important issues, able to respect religious people, and once in a while even allowed an actual fact to leak through.

Something happened about six months ago that closed the door firmly. Since then NPR has returned to pure Stalinist-Satanist propaganda, on the same crude harsh brutal level as cable TV. Fags are good, banksters are wonderful, commies are angelic, civilization is bad, religion is evil, "Global Warming" causes everything.

One piece this morning seals the door shut with a resounding clang. A heartfelt overmodulated celebration of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as unjustly accused "victims", with no quarter given to facts. Radio Moscow circa 1965 would be proud.

Too bad. I was supporting NPR for a couple years, but now I can hardly bear to listen.

= = = = =

... And this evening they're doubling down on genocide, letting Comrade Bill McKibben destroy what little remains of science.

= = = = =

Couple weeks later: I halfway retract the harshness. The change isn't permanent; it's solely dependent on who's in charge. More precisely, it depends on Scott Simon. When Simon is in charge of the weekends, we get rationality, good hard questions, and neutral coverage. He was absent for a few weeks and the commie bullbitches took over. Now that he's back, rationality is back on the weekend broadcasts.
Saturday, December 29, 2012
  Puzzling Gove

Gove, the Brit minister for education, is a puzzle. He has taken some purely miraculous steps in the cultural realm, restoring the authority teachers had in earlier times before the "human rights" satans smashed western civilization. If lower-level educrats don't obstruct these disciplinary reforms, Brit schools can be the centerpiece of a resurrected civilization.

But in the realm of learning, Gove appears to have some bad ideas.
Gove argues that "memorisation is a necessary precondition of understanding". He says: "Only when facts and concepts are committed securely to the working memory, so that it is no effort to recall them and no effort is required to work things out from first principles, do we really have a secure hold on knowledge.

"Memorising scales, or times tables, or verse, so that we can play, recall or recite automatically gives us this mental equipment to perform more advanced functions and display greater creativity.

"And the best way to build memory, as Willingham explains, is by the investment of thought and effort – such as the thought and effort we require for exam preparation and testing."
The first part is wrong. Memorizing is NOT the necessary platform for clear thinking. Clear observation is the prerequisite for clear thinking. Facts are things you can acquire later in life, after you are able to think clearly enough to distinguish sense from nonsense.

Observe the world first, learn to make conclusions and prove conclusions from your observations. After you master those skills, you'll be prepared to examine facts with a trained bullshit detector. You won't simply absorb what your television throws at you.

Facts are unquestionably needed for some disciplines, but primary school is not the proper time to acquire them. By the time you start work, the facts you picked up in primary school will be obsolete, disproved or forgotten.

The second part is uncontroversial. Just good standard teaching practice. If you need to master rote facts, time on task is the key. Use the facts in various contexts, run them through your voice and hands repeatedly. Muscle memory.

= = = = =

Utterly irrelevant sidenote: I probably have an odd reaction to Gove because he looks EXACTLY like the actor in local commercials for Northern Quest Casino. Those commercials pop up every time I try to watch local news videos online, so the actor's face is thoroughly familiar. When I see a picture of Gove, I can't help thinking "Hey! He just finished getting drunk and blowing all his savings at the Casino! What's he doing in England?"

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Friday, December 28, 2012
  From TB to TV

I've been hearing promos for the movie celebrating the evil life of mass-murdering psychopath Lincoln. Leaving aside the whole question of why we celebrate a sadistic devil who burned down half the country to maximize the profits of his railroad-trust masters, the most irritating thing about the promo itself is the voice that Daniel Day-Lewis uses.

DDL claims to have done lots of research on voices. Nope. If he did, he reached a completely invalid conclusion.

We don't have phonograph records of Lincoln, but we have numerous recordings of politicians near his generation. None of them talk in glottal fry. All of them speak publicly in a high tense nasal voice with plenty of 'music' and vibrato. It sounds strange, even Hindoo, to modern ears; but it was developed through long experience as the only way to penetrate a crowd before the invention of microphones and amplifiers.

Listen to Jennings Bryan, born in Illinois in 1860. Or Alben Barkley, born in Kentucky in 1877. Both close to Lincoln in generation and dialect.

NO PRESIDENT BEFORE BILL CLINTON SPOKE IN GLOTTAL FRY. In fact, no American male outside a TB sanitarium spoke in that register until roughly 1960. Glottal fry is a product of radio and TV. It's an intimate register, developed by pot-smokers and advanced by radio announcers who were able to 'kiss the microphone' while speaking. You cannot penetrate a crowd or even a room with glottal fry.

= = = = =

Sidenote: Hindoo males speak in an annoying singsong alto voice for the same reason that old politicians did. In India this high voice is the mark of the upper castes, and they use it to penetrate the supposedly dull ears of the slave castes. Since they always use the squeal of command when talking to us Americans, we know what they think of us. We are the untouchables, they are the Brahmins.
  Don't they read their own shit?

Jesus H. Fucking Christ. Don't these fucking motherfuckers even read their own fucking shit?

News: Fucking ships rerouted to protect fucking whales.

One fucking sentence from the fucking article:

"It's a common-sense proposal based on good science.".

Then two fucking paragraphs down:

"Scientists know that ship strikes happen regularly but remain uncertain whether they are hampering the recovery of blue whales, which were hunted to near extinction."

In other fucking words, the fucking Japs are responsible for this, but we can't punish the fucking Japs because they are Holy and Angelic. So we punish every fucking one else.

The whole fucking idiocy forgets that whales are hugely intelligent animals who can detect ships by sonar, and who can swim faster than ships. If whales are actually found in ship channels (which seems to be more assumption than fact!) there must be a reason why they like to be there. Perhaps they eat plankton that leaks from the ballast, perhaps they simply find the ships interesting. If you reroute the ships, how do you know the whales won't follow?
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
  Why the west is doomed

Headline from Australia:

Spies want immunity for terror training
AUSTRALIAN spies are demanding legal immunity to infiltrate and train with terrorist groups such as al-Qaeda. The Attorney-General's Department wants to authorise ASIO agents and informants to provide training to, or be trained by, terrorists in covert missions. Agents now risk criminal prosecution for "associating covertly with targets" even if they are collecting intelligence.
Would be a good change, if it happens. Doesn't sound like Satan's Boss Gillard will go along with it.

Absolutely disgusting that spies have to beg for the authority to be spies. It's like carpenters begging for the authority to use hammers and saws.

One of the few areas where America has preserved a slight bit of sanity. We got past the "Gentlemen don't read other gentlemen's mail" syndrome a long time ago.

Polistra likes the new technique of naming significant winter storms. More distinct than "The Blizzard of 1988", and much less annoying than calling every big storm Snowpocalypse.

This year's pattern is clear: classical Roman and Greek stuff.

The first four names were excellent. Athena, Brutus, Caesar, Draco. Fearsome-sounding gods and emperors. Storms that will stab you in the back! Or invade you! Or cover you with molten lava! Or pop out of your head full-grown!


For heavens sake, who's afraid of Euclid? Well, maybe Lobachevsky.

A much scarier E-god would be Enceladus, the bugler of the Titans, with serpent-like legs. Perfect for a storm that produces tornados in the South.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The nesting drive grows strong in winter. As I walked this morning through gray air with a few snowflakes, I noted woodsmoke from chimneys and lights in windows. Though the technology changes over the years, those two markers of specifically human homes remain constant. The hearth and the lamp.

More from Richard Elwood Dodge's 1903 Home Geography:
Every child who goes to school spends his days partly in school, partly in playing or working, and partly at home. At home he eats, sleeps, perhaps plays with his brothers and sisters, and gets the clothes that keep him warm and dry. ...

People are not the only dwellers in homes, however, for the small birds and the wild animals have homes, but they do not always live in the same home all year.

Every country boy knows the homes of certain birds. He has probably watched them build the homes and seen the way they live and the way the old birds feed the young birds and teach them to fly. ...

No matter where we go, we shall find people living in homes. So, if we can find out why we live in homes, and what we do there, we will be better able to understand other people who do many things that seem strange to us now, but who are busy earning a living in different ways.

An old deserted farmhouse, such as one often sees in the country, is not a home. Neither is an empty city house or a vacant apartment a home. But they would become homes if somebody moved into them.

People are, therefore, a necessary part of every home, and a house is only a place for a family to live in and to make into a home.
Note the emphasis on human presence, and the calibration to human scale. The rest of the book has the same focus. All is defined by the connections and relations between you and the rest of the universe. All verbs, no nouns. All about how you respond to the world and influence the world, nothing about raw facts.

We need to teach everything this way.

= = = = =

Wonder if bees feel the same longing, the same inward pull toward the nest, when they sense the bee equivalent of hearth and lamp? [Would those equivalents be Hexagon shapes and Larva smell?]

Artistic sidenote: I was going to use the iconic dome-shaped beehive in this picture, but a little googling convinced me that American and Euro bees don't build their hives in that form. Their hives are generally built into and around a hole in a tree. Using a realistic nest in the same image with toonish bees and toonish trees probably violates art rules... but I respect bees and want to give them a proper home in my picture.

= = = = =

[Posted this a few weeks ago; decided it deserved to be a year-end or Xmas item, so moved it to this date.]


  The interview question

And now the interview question, where the brainpower and education of each contestant is revealed and tested.

Miss South Carolina?

"I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because salmas people out there in our nation don't have that, and I believe that our education link, such as South Africa and Diraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should, our education over here in the US, should help South Africa, it should help Diraq and the Asian countries."

Miss Vatican City?

"The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman. The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe. I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world."

Judges, cast your votes.

Well, we have a unanimous vote of -99999 for both contestants. Neither one makes a lick of fucking sense. So we pick Miss South Carolina by default, because at least she seems to be alive.

  Unoriginal cheese

Tillamook Cheese of Oregon sponsored two cooking shows in very different eras and styles. We have only one representative of each era online.

The first is a solitary leftover of a radio series in the late '40s. Following a pattern set by national food companies like Pet Milk, this was a sort of soap opera [milk opera?] with built-in recipes. Judging by this one episode, it was a good soap opera. Good writing, good acting, good mix of emotions.

The second is a straightforward TV show produced this year, featuring a chef who is an appealing character and a good entertainer and teacher. Also seems to be the single online representative of a series, though I can't tell for sure.

What do these two isolated Tillamook shows have in common?

Potato salad. The 1946 radio show is hot potato salad, the 2012 TV show is cold potato salad.
Saturday, December 22, 2012
  Hooray for Egypt! (yet again...)

Polistra and friends salute Egypt again as the new constitution is decisively approved in a second round of voting. Something like 70%. There's no doubt now that the new government HAS THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE OF EGYPT. And that's exactly what any government needs. Not the consent of SOME OTHER FUCKING COUNTRY, but the consent of THE COUNTRY GOVERNED BY THE GOVERNMENT.

Of course the new Egyptian setup doesn't have the consent of Israel, or Israeli collaborators in the West. Even an honest 100% result wouldn't satisfy them. Egypt is no longer subservient to Israel, and that's intolerable and unacceptable to Israel's little fagass sissybitches in DC. It's going to be All Options On The Table and it's going to be Reliable Intelligence Sources Find WMD In Egypt and it's going to be Invade! Invade! Invade! Occupy for a hundred years! A thousand years! A quadrillion years! Until the sun fades to a Red Dwarf! Pardon me, I mean a Progressive Little Person! Whatever it takes! Whatever it takes! Whatever it takes! Onward to total ... um.... something or other!!!!!

Fuck. I am fucking ashamed of this fucking country. And I am especially fucking ashamed that I went along with this neocon ratshit for so many years. Shame on me.
  Language oddity: Nonims

Professor Polistra, short on modern words, has come across a highly peculiar old word in some 1860's texts about electricity and telegraphy. In a discussion of using a bridge setup for measurement, this little word is used casually.

The author uses it twice, so it's not a typo. It's clearly treated as a singular like lens, but what could it mean? Etymology doesn't offer any obvious clues. Shortened from anonymous? Unlikely. Not an acronym; writers back then didn't do acronyms. Almost sounds like a nickname or endearing name for some little trifling thing. Snookums, sweetums, nonims. Google doesn't give any references at all outside this one book.

In other words, a total puzzle!

In the accompanying diagram, this pointer might be the nonims, but it's not labeled as such.

Sidenote: The diagram shows clearly why Wheatstone's differential measurement apparatus was called a bridge! You can almost see trains and horses rumbling across the scale. I'd always wondered about the terminology, because there's no bridgey-ness in the schematic, or in the more modern box-type bridge circuits.

= = = = =

Update Mar 2013: Found the answer. The book above contained a typo or misunderstanding. It should have been NONIUS, not NONIMS. Here's a passage from the 1816 Encyclopedia Perthensis that makes it all clear:

Transcribed: "NONIUS, the name which was not many years ago given to the common device for subdividing the arcs of quadrants and other astronomical instruments, from the persuasion that it was invented by Nonius or Nunez. But the generality of astronomers of the present age, transferring the honour of the invention from Nunez to Peter Vernier ... have called this method of division by his name."

Vernier is a perfectly familiar term, though I suspect it's nearly obsolete now. Old electronic measuring instruments, or the cylinder of a micrometer, use a vernier scale to add more precision without adding an extra geared-down dial. In later use on electronic equipment, the term came to mean a dial with an extra geared-down knob, especially a nice smooth one .... thus inverting the original purpose! The word itself probably contributed to this inversion. Say verniiiiieeeerrrr and you can just feel that flywheel spinning you smoothly across the bands to reach Havana or Lisbon.


Friday, December 21, 2012
  Heat and volts

Polistra demonstrates an invention from Morse's era. Seems like an idea that could be brought back. Moses Farmer's thermo-electric battery dates from the 1860's. It was basically a layer-cake of copper-nickel alloy ("german silver") and zinc-antimony alloy, with insulating layers of mica. The layers were hollow in the center, allowing a chimney to heat every layer evenly. When heated by coal or methane, it generated a significant amount of power: enough to run a small silver-plating plant, according to contemporary writeups.

Doesn't seem to be the usual millivolt-making thermocouple. It's more like a wet cell in its chemistry.

Could be useful in situations where heat is already present, as co-generation. With propane, it could be an emergency source of both heat and electricity. Might work with a solar boiler to provide steady power?

= = = = =

Artistic note for Poser types: The digital model (and the bulb and lots of other stuff) are on my ShareCG page.
  Sleeping through Maya

It's 3:30 AM PST, or 11:30 AM GMT. Supposedly the Mayan End-Of-All-Things was going to happen 15 minutes ago, and we're still here. Still bad weather in some places and good weather in others. Still bad people in some places and good people in others. Still good old Earth, held together by an unimaginably complex web of living things.... and we're just beginning to look at those living things. Biological understanding was interrupted for two centuries by the idiot Laplace assumption: We don't need to hypothesize a god or an overall intelligence. Finally the actual fucking evidence is starting to overcome this species of idiocy.

Understanding is still squashed by other massively powerful idiot anti-life assumptions, such as the Gaian Carbon Cult, economics and 'social sciences'.

Polistra hopes and prays that the new-found intelligence assumption from biology will spread to other areas of human endeavor, starting a new cycle of understanding... which is what the Mayans actually predicted.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012
  Can't be funny, McGee

Still wandering through old telegraph material and Wheatstone's wonderful experiments, and my mind is thoroughly involved in those subjects.

When I cooked my usual tomato-ey stuff this afternoon, I absent-mindedly started with too much water, so I had to leave a few spoonfuls in the bowl to avoid getting overfull. For some reason this led to a Fibber and Molly pun, and then to another thought. The pun wasn't worth writing here, but the next thought may be worth writing.

Next thought: In all the centuries we've been writing and printing and typing, we've never developed a way to represent real dialog on paper or screen. Far as I can tell, nobody has even tried! For instance, there's no visual way to show the interrupts and overlaps that make Fibber and Molly funny.

Interrupts and overlaps are easy for our ears to handle. We do it all the time. And we do it equally well with music or Morse code; an experienced operator can distinguish two simultaneous senders if they have distinct styles or if their carriers have different BFO notes. But we can't do it visually.

Technically speaking, interrupts and overlaps could be shown in hand writing or in photo-processed printing, but not in hot lead type or in conventional computer displays. An illuminated manuscript could do it, and an offset-style printing press could do it, and PhotoShop can do it:

Does it work? I doubt it.
  Puzzling... no, not so much

Time mag has named Obama as Man of the Year again. Seems odd, considering all the dramatic choices available this year.

I tried to look at Obama's 2012 performance from various leftist perspectives, and didn't find much to cheer.

Envirowacko? Nope, he's allowed huge development in oil and gas drilling.

Peacenik? Nope, he hasn't closed Guantanamo, hasn't stopped rendition, and has continued the "illegal" drone strikes and wiretaps.

Occupy? Nope, Obama is still paying the banksters to commit crimes. No penalties, no regulations. [I'm with the leftists on this issue, so I don't have to stretch my imagination here.]

Fags? Aha. There it is. Within this year, Obama has "evolved" on the question of Journalist Marriage. He's now firmly in favor of journalists getting a marriage license.
  How crazy can you get?

Couple of events this week illustrate how thoroughly the old Constitution has turned into a quaint museum piece.

(1) Soviet Agent Inouye finally died. He played a major part in the 1974 Soviet coup d'etat against Nixon, but otherwise accomplished nothing. After his death we found out that he had been 'President pro tem' of the Senate, a double-meaningless office. The old museum-piece Constitution makes the VP head of the Senate, with specific duties, but allows the Senate to pick a substitute for those rare times when the bucket of spit has something else to do. The Senate, a Satanic crime syndicate with vastly less honor and morality than Italian or Russian mafias, gets sadistic pleasure from creating multi-layered hypersuperultraviolations of every possible written and unwritten law in the known Universe and beyond. It wasn't enough to have a substitute; they had to substitute for the substitute. So the PPT never actually supervises the Senate, and the VP only appears once a year for a cocktail party. Despite that, the PPT is still allegedly in the line of succession. Soviet Agent Inouye could in theory have become President, though I'm sure the Senate would find a 500-layered 500-times-illegal workaround for that as well.

Well, at any rate one more Soviet is dead. The only good red is a dead red.

(2) The actual Electors, whose names we don't even know, "voted" this week in order to complete the "election" of the president. The Electoral College system is still highly active because it helps the Satanic oligarchs to guarantee a preplanned succession without the uncertainty of a real election. But the Electors in person are just as superfluous as the PPT.

Universal rule: Any part of the Constitution that would help the country succeed is routinely violated and replaced by its opposite. Any part of the Constitution that helps to destroy America is carefully and diligently enforced.

= = = = =

Meanwhile in Egypt, Morsi holds an ACTUAL REFERENDUM on a new Constitution. The PEOPLE OF EGYPT actually had the privilege of voting DIRECTLY on the new document, and so far it appears that they approve.

The PEOPLE OF AMERICA have NEVER been able to vote on a referendum on any subject at all. NEVER. NEVER. NEVER. NOT FUCKING ONCE.

Our grotesque pea-brained wacko rulers and our Satanic media call Soviet Agent Inouye a hero, and call Morsi a tyrannical dictator, and call the referendum a "power grab".

Nuff said.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
  Ground wind

Yesterday's windstorm was especially strong down at ground level. Flattened every political yard sign, and all those six-inch 'stake' signs advertising lawn services. I don't remember seeing that before, though it's possible that I wasn't looking very closely in previous years. Wind also carved out a turbulent-looking pattern in snow cover on grass.

All yards look like this:

On the positive side, the wind cleared freezing fog from the air and streets after a week of slippery smelly smog. Good walking weather today.


  Avoid new Piltdowns?

Listening to a BBC feature on Piltdown Man and how he fooled the "scientists" for so long.

Obvious analogy: Piltdown Climate. The warming hoax, perpetrated by Soviet agents in 1974, now infecting ALL the powers of the world. From 1990 to 2009, ALL governments and churches and schools and "scientists" and corporations firmly believed the hoax, and enthusiastically wasted trillions of dollars and killed thousands of people to advance the hoax. Since 2009 a few governments have slowed the waste and killing, but they still haven't squashed the hoax. All the other powers are still roaring ahead madly toward total genocide.

If anyone is left after the slaughter, how should we prevent this from happening in the future?

Obvious answer: Run all science like engineering. There are no hoaxes in engineering. Nobody ever spreads an intentionally wrong theory about beam fracture or the compressional strength of brick.

How do we make that happen? Instead of the utterly corrupt Pal Review system, we must require every bit of paid science to have concrete results. If your idea leads DIRECTLY to BUILDING OR IMPROVING** A PHYSICAL SYSTEM, we'll think about supporting it. If you have nothing but numbers and COMPUTER MODELS, no pay. And I do mean PHYSICAL, not VIRTUAL.

If your idea cannot be turned into a PHYSICAL SYSTEM, or cannot 'cure' or 'repair' a PHYSICAL SYSTEM, you're just writing a novel. You're not doing science. Novels are fine, but governments don't pay for novels, and decent governments don't kill people in the name of novels. (Unfortunately, indecent governments have killed or ruined plenty in the name of 'Das Kapital' and 'Atlas Shrugged'.)

= = = = =

**Footnote on IMPROVING: I'm making analogy with medicine for "sciences" that claim to work with humans, like psychiatry and economics. Nearly all of the theories and methods in social "sciences" are wacked-out crazy and ferociously murderously destructive. This doesn't happen in real medical research. A drug or surgery that doesn't improve lives doesn't last long. We must use the same test on therapies, drugs, theories and systems in the social "sciences". Double-blind clinical trial first, then we think about paying for the work.


Monday, December 17, 2012
  Sometimes superstition works, Horatio

We're in a spell of serious weather lately. Snow, freezing rain, and today a big windstorm. Power went out at 8:30 AM. I heard a transformer pop, so I suspected it would take a while to restore. Got out the battery radio and candles, laid down and bundled up to avoid chills. When nap was over, power was still out and I was getting hungry. Pulled out the propane stove, hooked up the gas bottle,

and got ready to strike the flint.... Just then the power came back.

Sometimes superstition works, if you don't count on it and don't expect it to work.

I've always been prone to overlogication and overexplication. When I got into one of those theoretical moods, my father would quote Shakespeare: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

As always, he was right. Over the years I've learned to respect intuition and superstition far more than theory... provided the intuition and superstition are based on experience, not just hearsay like the "official" black cat, ladder and 13 stuff.
  Before Morse 2

Following on this account of the Wheatstone five-needle telegraph.

After the first generation of simple compass-based telegraphs, the next wave was dial systems. Probably the most successful of this species was made by Breguet in France.

These devices look and act a lot like fine clocks, perhaps because Breguet was [and still is!] a fine clockmaker. In this setup, the frontmost gadget with the handle is the sender; the upper middle thing with the clock dial is the receiver; and the two things on the sides are bells and annunciators. Apparently each operator would leave a main switch connected to the bells most of the time. When a sender wanted to catch the attention of all other stations, he would turn the crank in a full circle, thus applying 26 dings to the appropriate bell at each station. The receiver would have one bell box for each station in the network; he'd see the annunciator in the appropriate box and connect his sender and receiver to that party.

Unlike Wheatstone's bilateral polarity and five-wire parallel data transfer, the Breguet uses nothing but a stream of pulses on a single wire.

There is no code as such, no distinction between dots and dashes, no unique count for each letter.

You simply rotate the dial clockwise until you reach the desired letter; then stop long enough for the recipient to notice the letter; then rotate clockwise until you reach the next desired letter.

The cross symbol at the top would presumably represent a space. (However, it might have been a sort of 'shift' indicator to change from letters to numbers and back. In that case a space might have been simply a longer pause...?)

The receiver rotates along with the sender, turn for turn and pause for pause. It has a matching dial, powered by a mainspring and ticked by the pulses from the sender. The hole in front is for winding; the button on top resets the dial to the 'cross' or space position at end of one session so the next message can begin from a consistent position.

Happystar sends a vaguely Christmassy message to show how the pulses are formed. A wiggly cam on the crank causes a switch to make and break contact, once for each letter on the way around. Each pulse goes down the wire to the receiver, where an electromagnet pulls an escapement, letting the receiving dial move one letter forward.

Clear advantage of Breguet: First, it only needs one wire and one polarity. Second, you don't need any skill. Just turn the crank clockwise, pausing at each letter or space you want to send. No need to learn any code, no need to trace the lines on the diamond. This would have been beautifully suited for a household telegraph system.

Clear disadvantage: Slower than the instant-action needle systems, but probably not much slower than a careful Morse sender.

= = = = =

Artistic note for Poser types: I've released this set on my ShareCG page, along with the Wheatstone and Gray Telautograph sets.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
  Before Morse 1

The basic idea of mechanical signaling was well-known in Europe before electricity arrived. Mirror-based semaphore systems had been used for a century in France and England. So in 1820, when Oersted figured out that an electric current passing through a coil of wire could move an iron bar, the next step was obvious to many inventors and investors.

Charles Wheatstone, a 'shy sensitive boy' from a musical family, was one of many who picked up the notion. He had already made some mechanical gadgets to amplify and carry sound, working from his musical genes.

Given his acoustic nature, it's sort of surprising that his telegraphs were so thoroughly visual.... but maybe not. All the early telegraphs were visual, using keyboards for sending and dials, pens or printers for receiving. These were intended for personal use by untrained people. After Morse's pen-based system was established, the operators realized they could understand the patterns better by ear. (And that's not surprising, since our hearing mechanism is built for language.) This realization quickly led to a switch from personal use by untrained people to centralized use by professionals who mastered the Code. Keyboards, dials and printers quickly disappeared, and simple keys and sounders became universal. Visual telegraphy might have developed directly into something like today's computer networks, but the auditory Code took it in a different direction, more of a public service utility.

Wheatstone connected up with the more practical and business-oriented William Cooke in 1835, and a series of commercially usable telegraphs followed. The first type used electromagnetism directly and simply, with five compass needles responding in opposite directions to opposite currents. Two wet cells powered the sender. A center 'ground' made it possible to energize each of the 5 magnets in opposite directions.

The keyboard continued the two-sided logic. The front row of keys ran through a bar connected to the positive side of the batteries, and the back row ran through a negative-powered bar. When you pushed on one key, it connected either negative or positive voltage to a spring that fed one of the magnets. [Note: the unit I copied for this model had 6 buttons in each row; it appears that the 6th button is a dummy or perhaps drove an alarm of some sort.]

Each letter is indicated by two needles leading along the diamond patterns to a letter, requiring a two-key 'chord' on the keyboard.

Here we have E indicated by positive current to the 3rd magnet and negative current to the 1st magnet.

This is a wildly inefficient way of using the available parts. Five needles with three positions should create 243 patterns [from 3 * 3 * 3 * 3 * 3]. That would accommodate upper and lower case letters, numbers, and punctuation easily. But the diamond uses only 20 of the possible patterns, not even 26. Users must have developed a set of altered spellings to work around the missing letters. Apparently Wheatstone thought an easily read 'map' was critically important.

Note the six wires leading out the right side. Five active wires capable of carrying negative or positive voltage, and one ground. The receiving unit, identical to the sender, would pick up the combinations and show them on its needles.

This meant you'd need five wires for EACH individual pair of sender and receiver.

In modern terms this system used 'parallel data transfer'. Each letter could be formed and sent almost instantly, which seemed like an advantage in theory. But 'serial transfer' telegraphs won the game despite their comparative slowness. A serial system takes a finite time to form the pulse pattern for each letter, but it requires only one wire. In real life the materials and labor involved with running wires and selecting circuits made five-wire systems wildly expensive. (Five times the copper, five times as many insulators, five times as much space on each pole, five times as much overhead congestion in cities.... )

Polistra is unhappy with the keyboard for obvious reasons....

So she trained a pair of bees [who know something about magnetic signaling!] to perform an example phrase. The red-eyed bee takes care of the positive (front) keys, while the blue-eyed bee takes care of the negatives.

The five-needle telegraph was clearly meant to be home furniture rather than an industrial mechanism. Reminds me of the first generation of personal computers, with keyboard and screen in one unit.

Bilateral symmetry seems to have been a strong theme for Wheatstone. Later on, he was responsible for one HUGELY IMPORTANT idea that resonates through all electronic circuitry. He developed the idea of differential measurement, using symmetry to balance out imperfections in the tools and conditions.

It's an old idea in measuring weight. By putting a known weight in one pan of a balance scale and the unknown in the other pan, you eliminate everything but mass. Local gravity is the same for both, friction affects the single pivot point for both; wind and humidity affect both sides the same way. Though difference measurement is intuitive in that one case, it took some highly non-intuitive tricks to make it work with electricity. The 'Wheatstone bridge' isn't used much in its original form, but the notion of differential measurement spawned the Operational Amplifier, which now forms the core of most analog circuitry.

More broadly, any time you have a 'processing element' of any type, a balanced circuit eliminates non-linear effects. Push-pull amplifiers, the long-tailed pair, CMOS digital devices.

Finally, Nature had the idea first. Most of our neurons are built as comparators or balances, with excitatory inputs and inhibitory inputs.

Wheatstone's telegraph faded after a while, but his balanced-circuit idea is one of the grandest and deepest of all inventions, right up there with fire and the wheel.

= = = = =

Later artistic note for Poser types: I've released this model on my ShareCG page, along with the Breguet system and the Gray telautograph.
Friday, December 14, 2012
  No, it doesn't make sense either.

Public Radio's Marketplace program started today quite properly by not joining the media blitz on the latest school shooting. Media blitzes tend to create more dramatic events. But the way they did it.....

"There's no way to make sense out of this massacre, so we won't try. Instead, we'll go on to Ben Bernanke's latest announcement." They looked at Bugsy's latest Zero-Interest massacre, and all agreed it makes perfect sense.

No, it doesn't. It's the same sort of thing as a mass shooting. Both are types of magic, aimed at "solving" a problem that exists mainly in the mind of the magician. If a shooter could just wait a few days or weeks, he'd find that the problem in his mind would fade. But he feels the need to ACT NOW! Same with Bugsy. He feels (or at least claims) that his zero-interest massacre will create more jobs, though it's impossible for rational people to see the connection.

In fact Bugsy's ZIRP will cause vastly more deaths than any one shooter. Bugsy is ruining the savings and pensions of everyone in the world, leading to shorter lives for people who counted on their savings. He's causing pension plans to go bankrupt, bringing down cities and states with them. He's causing insurance companies to seek new ways of overcharging and underpaying (compared to what they could do with NORMAL interest policies). This in turn causes most people and companies in America to lose money that they would otherwise have available.

One shooter can injure and kill dozens. One ZIRP gangster can bring down the world.
  Big news in science

A small bit of actual research, done at OU, should have a huge effect if it gets proper attention.
Cecil M. Lewis Jr., professor of anthropology... and Raul Tito, OU Research Associate, led the research study that analyzed microbiome data from ancient human fecal samples collected from three different archaeological sites in the Americas, each dating to over 1000 years ago. In addition, the team provided a new analysis of published data from two samples that reflect rare and extraordinary preservation: Otzi the Iceman and a soldier frozen for 93 years on a glacier.

“The results support the hypothesis that ancient human gut microbiomes are more similar to those of non-human primates and rural non-western communities than to those of people living a modern lifestyle in the United States,” says Lewis. “From these data, the team concluded that the last 100 years has been a time of major change to the human gut microbiome in cosmopolitan areas.”

“Dietary changes, as well as the widespread adoption of various aseptic and antibiotic practices have largely benefited modern humans, but many studies suggest there has been a cost, such as a recent increase in autoimmune related risks and other health states,” states Lewis.
Antibiotics unquestionably saved millions of lives. Probably worth the cost in gut bacteria. But it's not at all clear that modern diets are beneficial in any way.

= = = = =

An even bigger news item: IPCC finally admits that Svensmark is right! This probably won't slow down the Gaians directly. But governments do read the IPCC reports and have used IPCC as the "gold standard". Now that the "gold standard" is backing away from the One True Faith of Gaia, governments may gradually feel more confident to commit small heresies. Most governments are flat broke and ready to quit feeding this vicious priesthood. Now they have some cover from "authorities".
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
  Coalition government

Interesting development in Wash state govt. A large group of legislators from both "parties" have formed a non-partisan coalition to GET SHIT DONE.
Democratic Senators Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch stood with five Senate Republican leaders at a press conference Monday to explain how the new caucus will govern. Tom would serve as the new Senate majority leader, and Sheldon would be president pro tempore.

The caucus has proposed splitting power by allowing Democrats and Republicans to each chair six committees, and co-chair three committees. The powerful budget-writing Ways and Means committee would be chaired by Republican Sen. Andy Hill of Redmond under the proposal. The K-12 education committee would be led by Republican Sen. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island.

“The public is not looking for one-party domination,” Tom said. “They are looking for us to get away from politics and start governing.”
Remains to be seen how this will work, but it's promising!

= = = = =

Followup 12/12: On national news, some Stalinist bulldykes in the DC senate are saying that we need more wyyyyyymmmmyyyyyyns in politics, because weeemoooons are more coalition-minded. According to the Stalinist bulldykes, we wouldn't have fiscal cliffs or gridlock with woepersonindividuals in charge.

Well, let's check that theory. The Wash state senate has 48 members, of which 19 are female. That's 40% F. This new coalition has 25 members, of which 5 are female. That's 20% F. Thus the bipartisan types are half as likely to be female as the overall Senate. Most of the Fs in the state Senate are happy with team-based gridlock.

Or from another angle, 1/4 of all female Senators joined the coalition, while 2/3 of all male Senators joined the coalition.

I love these 30-second disproofs!
  Multi-culti end point

Where's Orwell when you need him?
Football's governing bodies are considering the introduction of cultural lessons for foreign players as part of a series of measures to tackle the recent increase in racially related offences in the English game.

The move is a direct reaction to the controversial racism case last year involving Liverpool's Luis Suarez, who was banned for eight games by the Football Association for racially abusing Manchester United player Patrice Evra.

Suarez admitted calling Evra a "negrito" but claimed in his disciplinary hearing that this was not racist as it was a term widely used in his home country of Uruguay.

We are England! We are the nobel heirs to the noble traditions of the Magna Carta: Freedom! Cultural tolerance! Individual Liberty!

What do these words mean?

Freedom means "We tell you what to say."

Cultural tolerance means "We refuse to acknowledge that your culture is different. We forbid you to follow your own culture."

Individual Liberty means

Over to you, George. Oops, you're dead. So are we.
Sunday, December 09, 2012
  Why was the phonograph so late?

While waiting for the next paid project to start, I've been 'building' models of early pre-Morse telegraphs.

Animation of a Breguet dial system coming up tomorrow, then a Cooke-Wheatstone needle setup a few days later.

As I perused old patent drawings, trying to figure out how each system was really used, I began to sense that another invention was entirely out of place.

Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. Unlike most of his 'inventions' which were perfected commercial versions of existing ideas, this was an absolutely fresh concept. The only halfway similar predecessor was in 1857, and it was a 'visualizer' or oscillograph for sound, not a recorder and player.

We tend to think of the phonograph as part of the Electric Age, perhaps because of the Edison connection. But it was completely mechanical, and stayed that way until about 1920 when it inherited amplification from radio technology. In fact, mechanical phonos were still being made in the 1950s.

What strikes me as surpassingly odd: Every aspect of the phonograph could have been built by the Romans in 200 BC. Clockwork, wax cylinder, delicate diaphragm, needle. A non-clockwork version could have been made thousands of years earlier by any culture with stringed instruments and drums.

Medieval clockmakers and music-box makers were just one hour away from a phonograph. Take out the escapement so the cylinder moves fast, coat the cylinder with wax, glue a thorn to a drum, hold the drum so the thorn touches the wax, and talk into the drum.

Why didn't any of that happen? Why did it have to wait 300 years? It's a mystery.


Saturday, December 08, 2012
  Mayan apocalypse vs Gaian apocalypse

NASA has provided a slightly tongue-in-cheek but remarkably sensible defense against Mayan 12/12/12 worriers.

Question (Q): Are there any threats to the Earth in 2012? Many Internet websites say the world will end in December 2012.

Answer (A):The world will not end in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.

Unfortunately, NASA is not giving a secular objective answer. It's defending NASA's own apocalyptic beliefs:
Doug Morton with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland presented these findings about the future of wildfires in America. The analysis of future wildfire trends had been based on greenhouse gas emissions, as well as current wildfire trends.

“Climate models project an increase in fire risk across the US by 2050, based on a trend toward drier conditions that favor fire activity and an increase in the frequency of extreme events,” said Morton ... “With the climate change forecast for the region, this trend likely will continue as the western US gets warmer and drier on average.”
So it's not really 2012 vs sanity. It's 2012 vs 2050, Maya vs Gaia.

= = = = =

Along the same lines: The Doha conference has decided to run a continuing resolution, just like Congress. So the Kyoto suicide pact stays in place, while sane countries continue to drop out. At this point it's basically an agreement among wacko US, superhyperultrawacko EU, and superwacko AU, comprising 15% of the world's economies. Sane China and Sane India were always excluded by design, because Sane China and Sane India wrote the original agreement for their own benefit. Sane Canada, Sane Russia and [semi]Sane Japan sanely pulled out of the suicide pact last year.

At some point a suicide pact is no longer a pact. "I'll commit suicide if you'll do it at the same time" has a sexual appeal to the blood-fetish psychopaths who infest Western governments, but "I'll commit suicide by myself" doesn't have the same ring. When the pact is reduced to one member, everyone else says "Well? Go ahead. Who's stopping you?"


Friday, December 07, 2012
  India hardest hit?

Satan alias "Bloomberg News" is pushing the idea that Asia needs to help more with the Satanic task of killing all humans. From Satan's viewpoint this makes sense, and it's overdue. Until now, the Kyoto treaty specifically exempted China and India from the prohibition of breathing. This obviously needs to be fixed.

Well, let's see if Asia is especially suffering from "climate change". I tried to find official records from India, but they're surprisingly hard to locate online. India's official weather agency has a website that's totally useless, and NOAA has a few scattered single-year records. Finally located a good data source in something called 'Tu Tiempo'. Not sure what the website is meant for, but I'm glad they have these records in usable form! I used Bombay for a coastal climate and Delhi for a continental climate. Both are huge cities, so you'd expect UHI in both.

= = = = =

After my usual clumsy Excelling, we get these graphs for Bombay:

Bombay's record (Excel here) starts in 1958, then single records for 1962 and 1974, then gets going properly in 1977.

= = = = =

And we have these graphs for Delhi:

Delhi's record (Excel here) starts in 1943, then has a long gap around the era of independence and partition, then single records for 1958 and 1962, then restarts solidly in 1973.

= = = = =

Both temp graphs have Tmax on top, Tmean in middle, Tmin on bottom. I don't see anything at all happening in temperature. No Evil KKKarbon warming, not even UHI raising Tmin.

Delhi's precip record is too spotty to read well, but it doesn't seem to show a trend. Bombay's rain seemed to be getting less variable until 2006, then we have two really big years in 2006 and 2010.

Well then, our enemy Evil KKKarbon seems to have slacked off on his Evil worKKK in India. He struck twice with two rainy years for Bombay, but didn't pay any attention to temperature at all. Come on, Evil KKKarbon! You'd better get cracKKKing if you want to satisfy the demands of Satan alias Bloomberg!


Thursday, December 06, 2012

I wonder if any animal behaviorist has tried to decode Elephant Trunk Sign Language? Look at the complex patterns exchanged between the two adults at the end of this clip as they discuss the baby:

  Tout moot

Wash state has two new laws today, but neither makes any practical difference yet.

(1) Fairies and bulldykes can continue living together, but now they can get a certificate that says they're living together. They can also use the word marriage freely. Since fairies and bulldykes are the only people who are allowed to use any words without fear of punishment, this is a null point.

(2) Pot smokers can continue smoking, but now they have one less thing to worry about. (State authorities will stop enforcing a law that they weren't enforcing anyway.) Since pot smokers don't worry about anything already, having one less thing to not worry about is a null point.

The pot law will make a real difference later on, after the system for selling and taxing grass is fully developed.
  Supernerd caught

Been sort of following the McAfee story, mostly because it reminds me of earlier supernerds like Herbert Yardley or J.J. Angleton or Bill Clinton. Always playing 10-dimensional chess with the world, staying 20 moves ahead of all possible adversaries, blowing 30 layers of deceptive smoke until nothing can be .... Oops! One of his accomplices forgot to remove the meta-data from a digital photo, and lesser nerds picked up the data.

Supernerds are always brought down by ego, not by intelligence. They're so accustomed to looking WAY DOWN on the rest of humanity that they forget other people have SOME limited brainpower.

According to UK Guardian, the whole problem started with ego:

"McAfee says he has been persecuted by Belize's ruling party because he wouldn't pay out some $2 million to it."

Randian thinking laid bare. I am supersmart. I am superman. I am Maker. I am Above All Mere Humans. How dare you charge me for protection! Taxation is Theft. You shall protect me without being paid, because you are mere Parasite, mere Taker. The privilege of My Holy Radiant Presence in your parasitical midst is all the payment you deserve.

Doesn't work that way, John. It might work in good old USA because your fellow Randians/Rosenbaumians are in control here. But in a sane country, you pay for protection one way or another. Where formal taxes are low, informal taxes are high.
  Six worlds of weather! has a pretty good radar map, though I prefer Only shows the exact location of rain. Where it's green, you have rain. Where it's not green, no rain.

Wunderground is switching to a new format, and they don't have it quite tuned up yet. When you pull the scale slider out far enough to see the whole world, it still has two clicks left:

When you pull it all the way out, which is easy to do by accident:

Presto! It's a MercatorMercatorMercatorMercatorMercatorMercator projection.
Tuesday, December 04, 2012
  Come on, US manufacturers. You can do better!

I keep trying to buy American, but the results are disappointingly mixed.

Couple years ago I tried a Kuulaire evaporative cooler, which didn't work at all. (However, I can't really complain about that one; the online reviews warned clearly that it didn't work!)

Last summer I bought a new manual lawn mower, which is a magnificent machine. Just about perfect!

This year I bought a cast-iron skillet from Lodge. It's solid, but Lodge mysteriously skipped an important part of the manufacturing process. They didn't polish the surface.

Comparison: Back in 1970 I inherited a Wagner Ware skillet from grandparents. They had used it from (approx) 1950 to 1970, then I used it for another 10 years. It was easy to use and easy to clean, because the surfaces are smooth.

Since I resumed real cooking I've been using Chinese aluminum pans because the old 5" Wagner is too small for my usual 3-egg omelet. When the latest Chinese pan wore out, I decided to try American again. Bought a Lodge pan.

Failure. You can't use a spatula on the rough sand-cast surface, and you can't get the egg to slide on the butter. The egg merges completely with the surface.

= = = = =

Artistic note: I tried to get a photo of the two pans, to show that the cartoon above wasn't just my imagination. But the sand-cast interior of the Lodge pan absorbs light the same way it absorbs everything else. Black hole. Couldn't even make it visible with the scanner. I did manage to scan the bottom side, which shows the difference fairly well:


  Still re-running 1938

Today's headline: Third Strong Storm in Week Drenches West

Just as Superstorm Snooki reprised the east-coast hurricane of '38, this California storm reprises a west-coast storm of '38. Same pattern. This year's storm isn't nearly as deadly, because sane people took sane steps AFTER the '38 storm. They built better dams and levees and bridges. We're still living on their noble legacy, running on the last vapors of their good sense. Amazingly, the genocidal psychopaths who have been SMASHING California for the last 20 years haven't yet exploded the dams and levees.

Found this three-minute segment of radio coverage, hidden inside an NBC 'Recollections at 30' commemorative series done in 1956.

NBC's intrepid reporter chartered an airplane and flew over the destruction, giving listeners the full effect.


Needless to say, none of the journalists in 1938 imputed bizarre religious causes to the destruction. In 1938 our entire ruling class was sane if not always competent. Now they're hopelessly wacked out.

Which brings us to the 1938 WPA Kansas guide, for the 534,876,380,217,985,553,367th time:
Recent years of almost unprecedented drought have led to the often expressed belief that the climate of Kansas is changing. Geologists and meteorologists, however, point out that weather runs in cycles, the most pronounced being about a third of a century in length. Conditions during a cycle are easily mistaken by laymen for permanent changes. Despite year by year fluctuations in temperature and precipitation, recorded evidence shows that general climatic conditions remain unchanged.

Please, Jehovah or Allah or whoever's still active up there. Send us a revolution. Send us a Megasnooki to finish off the entire Satanic east coast. Send us something, dammit.


Saturday, December 01, 2012
  That's elegant.

I'd heard of Strike Debt, but it seemed to be just another fruitless effort by the disorganized and co-opted Occupy folks. After hearing Max Keiser interviewing the founder, I get a more complete picture of what they're doing.

They're using leverage to fight leverage. Banksters create "value" out of pure abstract numbers, and Strike Debt uses the same system to de-create the non-existent "value." In other words, they're taking counterfeit out of circulation, clearing more room for honest labor-created value. Elegant!

So I tossed them a nice chunk of non-borrowed money, and will probably keep tossing if they continue along this straight and simple path. If they get sidetracked into suicidal religious crap like eliminating Evil KKKarbon, I'll cease tossing.

Labels: ,

  A bit of sanity

NPR contrasts two NJ towns that got similar destruction from Superstorm Snooki. Summit was "served" by a for-profit electric company, and Madison is one of the few remaining cities that maintain a municipal electric utility. Madison recovered quickly because....
Madison Mayor Robert Conley says the operation is tiny, but it does have some advantages over crews from bigger utilities who may never have worked in the area before. "[Our crews] work on our four square miles on the sunny days," Conley says. "So when the storms come, they know our territory inside and out. They know where the trouble spots are. They know exactly where to go to."
This is one of Polistra's favorite points. Separate municipal utilities not only work better, they used to bring in significant revenue for cities. Many Midwest cities didn't have to charge any taxes because their electric utilities were profitable.

Share-based electric companies only care about maximizing share value. Toward that end, they minimize trivial stuff like employees and wires and poles in order to put all their effort into buying subsidies from CongressMart.

Localize! Decentralize! Close the loop!

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Polistra was named after the original townsite of Manhattan (the one in Kansas). When I was growing up in Manhattan, I spent a lot of time exploring by foot, bike, and car. I discovered the ruins of an old mill along Wildcat Creek, and decided (inaccurately) that it was the remains of the original site of Polistra. Accurate or not, I've always liked the name, with its echoes of Poland (an under-appreciated friend of freedom) and stars. ==== The title icon is explained here. ==== Switchover: This 2007 entry marks a sharp change in worldview from neocon to pure populist. ===== The long illustrated story of Polistra's Dream is a time-travel fable, attempting to answer the dangerous revision of New Deal history propagated by Amity Shlaes. The Dream has 8 episodes, linked in a chain from the first. This entry explains the Shlaes connection.

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