Wednesday, July 31, 2013
  Rule of egg

This seems to be a pretty good rule of thumb, literally. It applies specifically to Safeway's eggs, but I'll bet it generalizes to other types using cardboard cartons.

You can spot a broken egg somewhat reliably without actually opening the carton... or at least you can get a pretty good sense of what you're going to find when you do open the carton.

Wiggle the front part of the lid.

If the carton is firm and tightly latched, the eggs are good.

If the carton is overly flexible and loosely latched, at least one egg is broken.

I can't guess the causation. Obviously one major bump will break an egg, but one major bump doesn't soften the carton. Perhaps a carton that has been softened by too many recyclings can't protect the eggs from minor bumps?
  Language update for summer

Professor Polistra did a special update for Asiana earlier this month, and now returns with the usual load of linguistic shit. Some widespread misuses, some one-off malapropisms.

= = = = =


"The hunger strike at Guantanamo continues. Activists say the government is UNDERSCORING the number of prisoners involved."

Sort of logical. Scoring means enumerating or evaluating, so underscoring could mean undervaluing. Except it doesn't.

= = = = =

Nuevo riche:

"The exploding ranks of the Chinese nuevo riche sip tea and speak in hushed tones as they play at baccarat,"

Interesting transfer of the same word from French to Spanish.

= = = = =


"People in the area immediately coordinate off the area, and started yelling to people to get back."

Rather odd malaprop, with wrong tense. Might be a product of bad voice-recognition.

= = = = =


Common but inexplicable. The second i should obviously be /i/, not /ʌ/.

= = = = =


Also common but inexplicable. The spelling is straightforward. Despite that, most people omit the second N and say either Bernekke, Bernakke, or Bernokke. (Second syllable rhymes with neck, knack, or knock.)

= = = = =


Originally meant an heir to a title or fortune. The heir aspect has disappeared, and now it simply means a rich or powerful man. Semantic shift probably assisted by the Toyota brand.

"Unemployment was at record levels and some of the former scions of Wall Street, their fortunes laid waste, deprived the country of their presence by jumping from tall buildings."

Consummation devoutly etc.



An article on a fungus threatening the world chocolate crop starts with some horrible pictures of ants and other bugs and fungi all clustering on the stalk of a cocoa tree.... but down deep in the article is a hugely important truth that transcends fungus and ants.
‘The same bloody plant is in Brazil at the moment!’ said Evans, who cannot get funding to control it. ‘If you’re too successful, no one listens to you.’ It doesn’t help that the story is an obscure one. A different scientist might have milked a stream of high-profile publications from that kind of success, but Evans restricted himself to a few papers in backwater journals. He had more important things to do. ‘If I’d been cleverer, I’d have modelled the spread of the vine and got some papers in Nature and Science,’ he said. ‘But that wasn’t my brief. The brief was to control the spread of the invasive.’

Hughes toasted this do-first-publish-later approach, wishing more scientists shared it. ‘People are just interested in their CVs and keeping their labs running,’ he said. ‘We should assess people on whether they controlled problems, not where they publish. Did you control it or not? You did? Oh, well done.’

No more theories. Just action. Fix something. Build something. Cure something. Solve something.

Engineering profs are judged this way, which is why engineering hasn't gone off the track into bizarre brain-destroying genocide. Most branches of science run solely on tenure and publishing and theories, which is why they have gone off the track into bizarre brain-destroying genocide.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
  What's the problem?

News item:
The Agriculture Department might be sending millions of dollars in subsidies to dead farmers, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) said Monday.
Where's the scandal? Makes perfect sense. Can't count on a live farmer to not grow crops. He might forget and plant something. For a reliable not-grower, count on a dead farmer every time.

Decision seems appropriate. You have to punish a soldier who breaks the basic rules so drastically, but it's clear that Manning wasn't intentionally "helping the enemy". He's not smart or strategic enough to form that decision. He's obviously an immature and somewhat confused fellow who ended up being a tool for two conflicting forces.

First he was a tool for the milifairy, eager to prove its Die-Versity creds. Manning was nominally homosexual, so he needed to be placed in an important position where the People Who Count (ie ACLU, GLAAD, etc) could see him working.

After he was in the important position, he was eager to prove his own creds to someone who would respect him, so he became a tool for Assange.

The real crime here was committed by the milifairy. They violated a very old rule that still holds true. Don't put people who can be blackmailed or 'turned' in critical positions, even if you need to satisfy your bosses at ACLU and GLAAD.
  Buy American = Buy 1970s

I've concluded that the best way to 'buy American' is to 'buy old'. American products made before 1980 were almost always good; American products made in the last decade are almost always bad. Of course Chinese crap is worse, but only marginally.

I've tried three new US household products, and two of them were awful. (Lodge frying pan and Kuulaire swamp cooler.) One is good: Great States manual lawn mower.

In contrast, I've bought many older American-made items through Ebay, and all have been wonderful. I'm slowly bringing my household back to 1970 American stuff, and it's just as good as I remember from the 'live' 1970s. I didn't appreciate it then, because I didn't know that free trade treaties and share-value focus would soon remove all manufacturing from America.

Admittedly '70s stuff wasn't necessarily the best American stuff, but it was the last of the good. Some earlier products may have been better, but they're usually fragile and unrepairable by now. Also, '70s products haven't yet jumped the fence from used to antique, so they're still perfectly affordable.

The latest demonstration of 1970 American quality was dramatic and maybe a little scary. I'd been using this heavy red Chinese crap pan for 10 years, and its non-stick coating was just about gone. Figured it was time to go American, found this beautiful RevereWare pan on Ebay. Tried it out this morning with my usual breakfast ramen, and realized two things immediately: (1) I'd always blamed the electric stove for frustratingly slow cooking compared with my old memories of gas stoves. Nope. Electric does take longer to heat up and cool down, but the Chinese crap pan was the main culprit. Ramen took 10 minutes in the Chinese crap pan, and takes 4 minutes in the RevereWare, with a lower setting of the burner. Where the hell was all that heat (and all that electricity) going???? (2) The ramen unquestionably tastes better. Tastes the same as I remember it from many years ago. I'd thought the odd taste was a change in the ramen or my fading elderly senses, but it was clearly coming from the Chinese crap pan. And that's the scary part. Was the pan leaching aluminum or Teflon or something? Or was it just the overlong cooking?

The RevereWare also fits better in my drainer. This brings up a broader pet peeve about design. Most new household stuff is TOO DAMN BIG and TOO DAMN BULGY. Whether it's a computer or a refrigerator or a toilet or a book or a bottle, the smallest available size is often too big for my rooms, shelves, drainer, cabinet, etc. And the new stuff makes it worse by having bulgy sides or rounded tops or long heavy handles or protruding parts, so you can't put anything on it or near it. I guess it's designed for McMansions with 2000000000000 square feet and 100000 rooms. Moral of the story: If you really want to live efficiently and greenly and eco-ly and all that shit, you can do it better with pre-1980 American products.

Later note: Another big advantage of '70s stuff: It's NOT HACKABLE. This wasn't the reason for my initial bias, but it's becoming more important as the 'internet of things' proves to be the 'internet for criminals' and the 'internet for Googlesatan'. Except for the computer and its peripherals, nothing in my house is hackable. I've made sure that everything is pre-digital. Whether old or new, it's all '70s-era technology. Mechanical switches, electromagnetic relays and timers, analog circuitry in radio and audio stuff. No digital, no remote control, no CPUs.


Monday, July 29, 2013
  The Gheel colony

While looking for something else, bumped into this remarkable 1840 account of the Gheel city-based insane asylum in Belgium.

It obviously worked, for obvious reasons. Normal life, exercise, sunlight, and above all USEFULNESS, all totally lost in modern asylums. Note especially the last sentence about the whole community acquiring a natural skill in caring for the insane.

The cost is given as 200 florins annually paid to each household. Since this was written in England, I assume they were referring to the English florin, which seems to have been a 2-shilling coin or 1/10 of a pound. 200 florins would thus be 20 pounds. At 5 1840dollars per 1840pound this was 100 1840dollars. Finally, an 1840dollar is 30 Bernanke Bucks, so the payment would be 3000 Bernanke Bucks per inmate. Seems fair, considering that the inmates were doing useful work for the families.
  Rome is gone.

Miss Francine, who was formerly "Pope" of something formerly called the "Roman" "Church", has just abdicated, dissolved the former "Church" and replaced it with a fag bathhouse.

That's it for organized Christianity, at least the parts that were based in Europe. Fold the tents and go home.

Christianity closed, mofo.

This is probably a good thing in the long run. It removes tangled confused corrupted institutions from their former fraudulent pose as "religions", and clears the field for real religions to expand. Namely Islam, or maybe something completely new that isn't publicly visible yet. Something starting in Africa or China or Russia?
  The times they are....

I never thought I'd see this day. Satan's media is starting to break loose from Gaia. The Economist broke cleanly and explicitly a few months ago. Reuters has also broken loose. NYTimes hasn't changed its focus but has removed resources from the subject and de-emphasized.

This pair of headlines gathered by RCS shows the break nicely. Economist is now sounding like Anthony Watts(!!!!) while New Stalinist holds firmly to the old overmodulated genocidal zealotry. Don't lose faith, dear little Satans! Fill your ears with beeswax! Don't listen to those siren songs of evil facts! Stick to mass murder forever! Goldman needs you!

Вставай, проклятьем заклеймённый,
Весь мир голодных и рабов!
Кипит наш разум возмущённый
И в смертный бой вести готов!
Sunday, July 28, 2013
  A simple thought

Thinking about actionable intelligence in the context of NSA and its Euro counterparts.

Actionable intel means questions like "Where are the Jap submarines now and where will they be next week?" With this data, the American navy will know where to go and what to look for. Or "Where will the D-Day invasion hit the coast?" With this data, the Krauts could have killed the invasion completely.

By definition NONE of NSA's output is actionable. Why? Simple. When everyone is monitoring all electronic communication, real enemies avoid using all electronic communication.

Monitor everything = Hear nothing.

Some parts of our intel apparatus are still working in the actionable realm, as shown unquestionably by catching Osama in Pakistan. Because Osama knew (like everyone else who isn't a total fucking fool!) that NSA monitors everything, he used old-fashioned methods. And our operatives did the same. They got into Pakistan, cultivated contacts, and observed actual reality. Clearly required real guts and real wisdom.

Those old-fashioned operatives deserve to be funded and supported. NSA does not deserve support or funding. It's completely useless.

= = = = =

[I tried a complicated hall-of-mirrors thought, but it didn't work. Let's say NSA and GCHQ and the other Euro agencies conspired to monitor everything deliberately, in order to close off one option and guarantee that all enemy communications would use old-fashioned paths. Doesn't make bureaucratic sense. Real spy work is risky. Real spies die, and real spies make mistakes that cause defeats. Why would a bureaucrat want to force all activity into channels that could embarrass him? I can't see it. Maybe I need to add one or two more mirrors, but I'm already at my limit here.]

  Happy 150, Henry!

Mr Ford, you were right about everything, except possibly the decision to abandon your planetary transmission in 1928.
  Essex lions, Piaget, Goodnow

Cleaning up the junk pile led me to an interesting memory. Before 1970 the distinction between trash barrel and junk pile wasn't clear. Many farms and houses had accumulating trash/garbage piles that were occasionally burned but never emptied.

In the late '50s our family lived in a new subdivision built on the former Goodnow property. The Goodnow house itself was directly north of our house, about one block away. As I explored the world, I found that the Goodnow house was still occupied by a cranky old lady who didn't like kids exploring her yard. (The cranky old lady was not exactly a Goodnow, but was the last remnant of the Goodnow household.) So I kept my exploration somewhat away from the house, south of the stone wall that marked the inner yard. Just outside the wall was a trash pile that contained all sorts of interesting stuff: old radio parts, car parts from the 1920's, and new tin cans. I spent many happy hours digging through the radio and car stuff.

Modern 'industrial archeologists' would undoubtedly stop all development within a mile of such a historical site: the town founder's own midden, with 100 years of trash!

= = = = =

And the neighborhood Essex Lion also had an interesting memory of my former junk pile. Yesterday as I was watering the lawn at first light, he showed up to supervise. He took a close look at the place where the pile had been, and instantly turned around and spotted the hidden corner where I've neatly stacked the blocks. He recognized the stack as being the same blocks, even though the blocks were mostly invisible under furniture and weeds in their original location. He spent some time sniffing around the new location. I'm guessing the blocks were reliable mouse containers.

Sort of a Piaget test for Essex Lions: they can detect visually, from a considerable distance, that a completely different setup is made of the same elements.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
  How would you test it?

Following on previous entry. Far as I can tell, the theory at the base of the Carbon Cult has never been properly tested. The Cultists insist that CO2 is a "greenhouse gas" without any experimental evidence.

How would you properly test it? A proper experiment should approximate a scaled-down chunk of the real world with (ahem) nothing arbitrary, nothing artificial. And it should be able to control exactly one variable without affecting any other variables. You wouldn't want an enclosed top, because we know that actual glass greenhouses do in fact retain heat by an obvious mechanism. You wouldn't want artificial air or artificial light; you'd want real sun and real atmosphere, with all its gaseous and particulate components. Nothing added, but one thing subtracted under control.

This rig illustrates the idea. Lots of open-top cells, naturally filled with the local atmosphere. (Polistra is using 9 cells, but you'd want hundreds.) Each cell has a perforated 'sucker' running down its center. Half of these suckers include a catalyst or absorber (red rods here) that constantly removes a little bit of CO2, and the other half (blue rods) just suck the same volume of all air. Suckers are controlled to keep a constant difference in Percent CO2 between the catalyst cells and the sucker cells. The two types should be interspersed so neither has an advantage in sunlight, and the whole shebang should be rotated slowly for the same purpose.

Result: the catalyst cells will consistently contain less CO2 than the non-catalyst cells. Measure the temperature and see what happens.

Labels: ,

  Okay, fine. Now.......

Savile Broadcasting has a good feature this morning about the difficulties in forecasting earthquakes. Shows proper and productive disagreement among paid scientists. They are working with a basically good theory, but tend to get carried away with dubious sub-theories... AND THEY KNOW IT. They make some accurate predictions, and they are trying hard to learn from their bad predictions. This is exactly how healthy science works.

Okay. That's good. Now! How about a similar feature on the "climate" criminals? They started with a BAD FALSE FRAUDULENT CRIMINAL MURDEROUS theory, designed in 1975 by government-sponsored psychopaths, SOLELY as a way to gain more control for international socialist government. This is not paranoia. This is a FUCKING FACT. Their bad theory has never given one useful prediction. It is always wrong in the broadest possible way, and they continue to use it, and NOBODY IS ALLOWED TO QUESTION IT.

Not holding my breath.


Friday, July 26, 2013
  Can I borrow a cup of conjugations?

Since I'm being all randomy today, here's another random bit.

Commies constantly and falsely believe that vocabulary controls culture. Nope. It's the other way around, and it's not a very strong influence. You can't turn people into feminist wackos by forcing them to say waitperson and ushperson and busperson. Feminist wackos use those words because they're wackos, and they force everyone else to use those words because they're uncivilized brutal savages taking advantage of the suicidal courtesy of civilized males.

Culture controls vocabulary in obvious but minor ways. For instance, when the Normans took over England, they brought new methods of cooking and farming, and we've inherited their words along with native ones. (Beef/cow, pork/pig, mutton/sheep, etc.)

Culture seems to determine grammar as well, which is not obvious and not well explored. The Normans brought caseless nouns, which the Anglo-Saxons picked up along with the beef and pork.

Something similar happened in the Balkans. The normal tendency among Slavic languages was to simplify verb forms and retain complicated noun cases. But there's one exception to this tendency. Bulgarian somehow picked up the Romance tendency toward simple nouns and complicated verbs from neighboring Romanian, without picking up any actual forms from Romanian. Bulgarian retained the original complications of Slavic verbs (and added more!) but dropped all cases from its nouns. Bulgarian also picked up the Romanian habit of suffixing the definite article to a noun, while all other Slavic languages lost the definite article entirely.

Culture also seems to carry intonation. Hungarian and Czech, completely unrelated languages, have remarkably similar prosody, with very little music and distinct variations in vowel length. Czech is the only Slavic language with this pattern; Slovak, which is otherwise highly similar to Czech, has a more ordinary pitch and rhythm pattern.

How did those 'pattern borrowings' happen? It's a genuine mystery, and I suspect it could tell us something about how language works in the brain.



News item:
The Army says it's responsible for the low-flying military helicopters with spotlights that buzzed around the small town of Port Angeles, Wash., late Thursday. An Army official is apologizing for the unannounced training mission. Dozens of residents called police to ask what was going on. Mayor Cherie Kidd said Friday the choppers, in her words, "terrorized my city."

The Peninsula Daily News reports Army Col. H. Charles "Chuck" Hodges Jr. termed the episode "totally unacceptable" and added his apology.
The event is irrelevant. The name of the Colonel is what bothers me.

Col. H. Charles "Chuck" Hodges Jr.

First, way too many ch and j sounds all crammed together. You have to stop between syllables to clean out your spit valve.

Second, you shouldn't be including a nickname in an official-style name. The Col makes it official, and the FBI-style first initial makes it official, and the Jr makes it official, so it's triply official. Leave out the nickname.

Third, Chuck is the automatic nickname for Charles, so it's redundant. If you have to put it in for some reason, leave out Charles. Write something like H.C. "Chuck" Hodges. That's the standard Southern format for nicknames.
  Idealism is fine......

Interesting interview with Snowden's father. Shows himself to be a strongly idealistic and impractical guy. Sort of admirable, I guess. Clearly the son was motivated by the same unworldly idealism.
"I think my son, when he takes his final breath, whether it's today or 100 years from now, (will) be comfortable with what he did," Lon Snowden said. "He did what he knew was right. He shared the truth with the American people. What we choose to do with it is up to us as a people."
Well no, it's not "up to us as a people." I don't know where he acquired such a bizarre alien notion. Nothing in the federal gov't is "up to us as a people." Popular sentiment sometimes influences city governments, and rarely state gov'ts, but never the feds. Only Goldman moves the feds.
There is a need for a strong intelligence community, Lon Snowden said, but many who voted for continued funding for the program are really looking out for the special interests that will benefit.

"It's all about the money," he said.
Now you've got it.

It's too bad the son doesn't lose his idealism for a while. If he could bring himself to be "all about the money", he could sell his info to the highest bidder. He'd have enough cash to live in one of those places where money buys official protection. Think McAfee in Belize. As long as he relies solely on political considerations, he's never going to be safe.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
  More lessons

All right, boys and girls. Time for a pop quiz.

What is this called?

Federal agents are raiding a number of medical marijuana dispensaries in the Puget Sound region. Drug Enforcement Administration spokeswoman Jodie Underwood said Wednesday afternoon the operation was under way. She declined to immediately provide details about how many dispensaries were being targeted or how many search warrants were being executed. Washington state legalized adult possession of up to an ounce of marijuana last fall, but marijuana remains illegal under federal law.
Yes, that's right. This is called Your Constitution In Action. This is called Liberty And Justice For All Amen.

= = = = =

Now. What is this called?
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

You are learning well, boys and girls.
  Well, that's nice to know.

The People's House, the Most August Deliberative Body In The World, the Delegates Who Represent The Will Of The People, have voted overwhelmingly to continue NSA's total surveillance on the People. The vote was not automatically split by label; a few legitimate representatives of both labels attempted to vote against it, but most of the illegitimate tyrants openly declared their need for absolute tyranny.

Of course the "law" to limit NSA's activities would have been nothing more than cute little squiggles on paper, since NSA don't need no steenkin laws.

This is called Democracy, or a Parliamentary System, or Rule By Consent Of The Ruled.

Understand? No, I don't either.
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
  All a matter of branding

News item:
The Bonneville Power Administration has adopted a 9 percent average wholesale power rate increase, as well as an 11 percent spike to transmission rates. ....... BPA says the transmission rate increases are necessary for improvements to infrastructure and for mandatory compliance and security requirements. The power rates increase stems from higher costs to operate and maintain the federal hydroelectric system, higher costs to fund existing long-term agreements for the fish and wildlife mitigation program and because revenue from selling surplus power has shrunk.
Putting it more concretely: Dams are faced with two different types of terrorist threat.

Economic terrorists (ie Goldman) insist on maximizing grid flow so power can be securitized to maximize Goldman profit. Bonneville must fully surrender to economic terrorists. This is called infrastructure.

Bomb-throwing terrorists want to blow up dams. These terrorists operate under several different labels.

Bomb-throwing terrorists who wear 'EPA' on their uniforms must be assisted, and we must pay billions to help them blow up a dam any time they want. This is called compliance.

Bomb-throwing terrorists who do not wear 'EPA' on their uniforms must be resisted, and we must pay billions to protect our dams against these off-label bomb-throwing terrorists. This is called security.

Goldman terrorists and EPA terrorists must have an absolute monopoly on death, destruction and mass poverty.

This is called Liberty and Democracy and The Free Market.

Understand? No, I don't either.

We're fucked. We're light years beyond any hope of salvation.

= = = = =

Parallel item also in this part of the country:
Federal wildlife officials plan to dispatch hunters into forests of the Pacific Northwest starting this fall to shoot one species of owl to protect another that is threatened with extinction.
Branding again. For totally arbitrary and false and antiscientific "reasons", the Gaian mass murderers have decided that spotted owls are the cool brand and barred owls are the off-brand. We must shoot all the off-brand owls to give a complete monopoly to the cool brand owls.

This is called Biodiversity.

Understand? No, I don't either.
  Front-loading thermos

Odd observation.... The back wing of this house (about 6 feet by 20 feet) was built as a screened porch, and turned into rooms in 1956. It has a simple leanto roof with no attic, and very little insulation. I close it off from the air-conditioned and heated part of the house, so it gets hot when the outside is hot and cool when the outside is cool.

This morning I went in the laundry room to load up the washer. Outside temp was 62, and the laundry room felt like 70. Normal. I opened up the front-loading washer, and it was HOT in there, probably 85.

Far as I could tell there wasn't any hot water leaking in; no indication of wetness, no overflow. So it must have been acting as a thermos. Picking up heat during the previous 18 hours, and holding it when the room dropped from 85 to 70. Might have been some solar effect as well, because the sun comes in and hits the front of the washer in the late afternoon.

[This was really just an excuse to make a picture with Polistra and friends. I hadn't included them in a while and they were starting to get restless.]
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
  Essex Lions and old white coots

Reprinting a brief note from a week ago:

A few days ago I jibbered about 'improving the universe' and 'adding order and beauty'. After focusing on that wonderful hidden formal garden, I looked at the back of my own tiny lot and saw disorder. A stack of old wood, cement blocks and furniture that had been gradually accumulating since 2008 when I had the foundation repaired. Well, I'm not going to build a formal garden, but I can at least decrease entropy. So I finally called a local hauler and had him take it away, along with some furniture that had been sitting in the storage room for ten years. Decided to keep the cement blocks because they can be arranged decently and may be useful. Doesn't look neat yet, but after some weed-cutting and rearranging, it will look neat.

= = = = = End reprint.

Continuing from there.....
I tried moving the blocks by hand, but realized after the first one that my old joints aren't what they used to be. If I moved the rest, I might risk permanent damage. Left them in place for several days, then decided I'd better get on with the task regardless of damage, because the lawn needs mowing, and I really want to mow the newly cleared.... PING! Mower! Mower has two wheels! Mower looks like a dolly!

And sure enough, mower works like a dolly!

I made a crappy photographic record of the whole thing.

Here's what the situation looked like just before the hauler came last week. I had added some stuff from the storage room. [Picture is somewhat confusing because the neighbor has her own junk pile on the other side of the fence, but this is about my junk pile and my need to create order!]

Here's how it looked after the hauler was done: Eight blocks plus a few pavers.

Dolly-mower in action. Block rests on the rollers, leaning back against the blades. I pushed the handles down to balance the object, then pushed the mower in the ratchet direction, as shown, to move the blocks about 50 feet into a hidden corner of the yard. Very little lifting involved; pretty much tipped the block onto the rollers, then tipped it off at the end.

The neighborhood Essex Lion wanted to supervise** but walked away as soon as I pulled out the camera. Birds and squirrels and Essex Lions seem to know that the camera represents a special level of attention, and they don't like it.

Finally, here's how the area looked after all the blocks were moved, and after some weed-chopping.

Wasn't easy, but it didn't ruin any knees or hips. I'm rather proud of the improvisation. Not bad for an old white coot. (Improvising is, of course, one of those things that Africans do best!)

= = = = =

**Footnote on supervising: I think it was Annie Dillard who noted that the line between higher and lower intelligences is marked by watching. Humans and most of our familiar big mammals and birds will spend time watching an activity just because it looks interesting. Some fish and cephalopods will do the same. Other critters, including smaller mammals, don't seem to have the concept of 'interesting'. Watchers tend to be capable of innovating and creating, while non-watchers are strictly automatic.


  Diskagma buttonii

This newly discovered fossil is probably the biggest find in biology for many decades. It seems to be a sort of generic base or beta-test for the form of most big plants and animals.

The authors sound overly restrictive, which is probably good science...
"They certainly were not plants or animals, but something rather more simple," said Retallack, professor of geological sciences and co-director of paleontological collections at the UO's Museum of Natural and Cultural History. The fossils, he added, most resemble modern soil organisms called Geosiphon, a fungus with a central cavity filled with symbiotic cyanobacteria.
But the inference they draw from this restricted idea is not good science:
"This gains added significance because fossil soils hosting the fossils have long been taken as evidence for a marked rise in the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere at about 2.4 billion to 2.2 billion years ago, widely called the Great Oxidation Event."
I don't see why it's "certainly not plants or animals." Assuming the image represents the organism and not just an enclosure or shell, the shape looks like several different simple animals. Sponges, hydras, bryozoa, rotifers, and those obscure tube-worm phyla. It also looks like part of a flowering plant or a 'flowering' fungus such as Indian Pipe. Could be any of those, or could be a common ancestor of all.

Without DNA you can't pin it down precisely, and you can't assume it contained cyanobacteria that oxygenated the earth. Maybe the authors have more info besides the X-ray image?

= = = = =

Artistic note for Poser types: I've made a digital model of the critter. ZIP is here. Includes the OBJ form for other 3d apps. The Poser figure is bendable, and I've given it an openable 'mouth' just for fun. (I can be just as arbitrary and restrictive as you can!) Here's a fanciful animation with four of them attached to a stolon:


Monday, July 22, 2013
  Dance marathon

It's fun to watch Satan's media and commentators discussing Detroit's bankruptcy. Dancing, dancing, dancing, dancing, dancing, around the real problem. It's Socialist leadership! It's Democrat leadership! It's unions! It's rampant capitalism!

Well, yes, all of those were in the mix, specifically the bad marriage of big unions and big corporations, preventing both from fulfilling their proper roles. But lots of other cities had those problems and didn't completely fail. Detroit's special ingredient was black leadership.

It's just an observed fact. Black politicians are incompetent and corrupt. True in Africa, true here. There are a few exceptions both here and in Africa, but the general rule is unavoidable.

Africans do many things better than anyone else. Not politics.

Stop the music, tell the truth.
  Mars complex

Scientists have a Mars complex. Some of them assume that all life came from Mars. More often they will assume that a newly found and unfamiliar life form came from Mars.

Why, for fuck's sake?

We don't know a lot about Mars. We're not sure that any life ever started there, though it seems possible. We do know a lot about Earth. We are absolutely sure that lots of life started here, because we're here and we're a life form.

Therefore, if you're going to assume a location for general or specific origin of a life form, you should assume Earth, not Mars.

The only possible conclusion is that scientists HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE Earth because it spawned Christians and White People and Rednecks and worst of all George W. Bush.

But in that case, why do they want us to spend trillions of dollars and kill millions of poor people to change the CO2 of the atmosphere by a tiny fraction, in order to preserve The Planet?

Earth is HORRIBLE and must be destroyed, but The Planet is Godlike and must be saved.

Doesn't make a fucking lick of fucking sense.


  Good analysis

A nicely written AP piece by Oskar Garcia, covering the fallout of Snowden's "revelations."
In Louisiana, the wife of a former soldier is scaling back on Facebook posts and considering unfriending old acquaintances, worried an innocuous joke or long-lost associate might one day land her in a government probe. In California, a college student encrypts chats and emails, saying he's not planning anything sinister but shouldn't have to sweat snoopers. And in Canada, a lawyer is rethinking the data products he uses to ensure his clients' privacy.
Well, good. Finally. Trouble is, you should have been aware of this from the start. It was never a fucking secret. NSA was part of the Net from the very start in 1968. Anyone who thinks NSA is limited in the tiniest way by dust specks or laws or coffee stains or regulations or mosquito bites or morality has NOT BEEN PAYING ATTENTION.

Garcia correctly emphasizes the truly important problem:
Gabriel Weinberg, chief executive of DuckDuckGo, said the NSA programs reminded people to consider privacy but that government snooping may the least of an everyday computer user's concerns. DuckDuckGo's website warns of the pitfalls of Internet search engines, including third-party advertisements built around a user's searches or the potential for a hacker or rogue employee to gain access to personal information.
Just right. NSA violates all principles and laws, but in practice won't bother you. Plain old criminals will take all your money and ruin your reputation. NSA knows everything and does nothing; doesn't even act on its knowledge when it's supposed to act. Tamerlin Tsarnaev. Nuff said.

Reminds me of the old line about the French royal family: Remembers everything, learns nothing.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
  Another random automotive thought

Would Detroit have fared better in the '70s if it had treated its US customers better in the '60s? The executives didn't even need to look outside their own damn corporations to find better products! Canadian, South American and Australian divisions of all four major companies had their own versions of Detroit products which were more varied, more luxurious and more sporty.

Top of the pile was AMC of Argentina, which made a perfectly beautiful variant on the Rambler American called the Torino. Four on the floor, real wood and leather interior. You couldn't get real wood in any US car in those years, not even a Caddy.

If AMC had built the Torino here, it might have fended off Toyota better.

Chrysler's southern hemisphere divisions made Dodge Darts with equally luxurious interiors and snazzed-up exteriors.

Willys of Brazil (owned by Ford in the '60s) offered the Itamaraty luxury compact.

Canada didn't go for luxury, but offered a wider choice because of the peculiar Dodge/Plymouth and Chevy/Pontiac and Ford/Mercury mixes. In 1950, for instance, American Dodge dealers carried three sizes of Dodge in 11 different models, not counting Deluxe trim. Canadian Dodge dealers offered five sizes of Dodge in 18 different body types. Some of them were Plymouths underneath, but they all had Dodge front ends. Canadian Pontiac dealers continued to offer sixes after the US Pontiac was restricted to eights, and continued to offer Pontiac sedan delivery models after US Pontiac stopped them.

Reminds me of the way US political parties treat their own voters. They go whoring after the other party's groups while doing nothing for their own loyal votebots. With parties it doesn't matter, since both are identical and evil. With auto makers it did matter, since millions of good jobs were lost.

[Pretty sure I've written this stuff before, in a slightly different form.]
  Form fakes function 2

Listening to Savile Broadcasting interviewing an idiot "architect" named Rogers who is famous for grotesquely ugly "functional" buildings with all the pipes and ducts on the outside.

Polistra has already exposed the fakery of the "functional", but not yet in this specific case.

Let's just ask a few questions.

What happens to a water pipe on the outside of a building? It freezes and breaks.
What happens to a sewer pipe on the outside of a building? It freezes and breaks.
What happens to a heating duct on the outside of a building? It loses heat.
What happens to a cooling duct on the outside of a building? It gains heat.
What happens to a steel beam on the outside of a building? It rusts.

There is a GOOD MOTHERFUCKING REASON why all those elements are normally inside a building.

It's because they are FUNCTIONAL when inside, and they are NON-FUNCTIONAL when outside.

Idiot Rogers, you are Satan.

You are creating intentional destruction and falsely representing it as "art", and you are making millions of dollars from fools who think your intentional chaos is Cool and Fashionable. You are Satan.

Still listening.... Aaarrggghhh. Now he's claiming that his destruction is necessary because it prevents "climate change". Boringly predictable for a commie, but completely wrong even FROM A GAIAN VIEWPOINT. A heating duct that loses heat is wasting energy. A cooling duct that gains heat is wasting energy. A water pipe that freezes then sprays water all over the street is wasting energy. His buildings are intrinsic energy-wasters by design, and he has the chutzpah to claim the opposite. Satan.

= = = = =

Aside from the "climate change" crap, Satan claims his buildings are more flexible because they don't have an inner core to hold plumbing and heating stuff. We've already shown why the inner core is better, but let's examine the flexibility claim just for completeness.

Here's a highly schematic cross-section of a primitive old-fashioned non-Satanic office building with an inner core. Yup, sure enough the core occupies space, and you can't slide your bathrooms around at will. The plumbing pretty much has to stay where it is, and the heating outlets limit your ability to enclose any space you want. Have to heat and cool each space properly. Highly restrictive!

Now here's the Satan-style building. No inner core! Yes! Perfect flexibility ... Ooops. Still can't move the bathroom around, can you? And still have to account for those heating outlets. But now that the plumbing and heating can be frozen up or torn off by wind or punctured by a rock, you won't have to use the building very often anyway. It will be closed for repairs much of the time. Advantage Satan!
Saturday, July 20, 2013
  Sharknado thought

I assume somebody has already thought of this, but just in case they haven't......

A tornado filled with live sharks is impossible, of course. It would puree the sharks as it picked them up, and they would then be plain old debris, doing the same damage as all the other stuff moving 150 MPH.

But! Not quite plain old. Bricks and boards and nails are hard uniform objects. When you get them spinning, they stay spinning. A viscous object like a liver or a cartilaginous skeleton doesn't behave that way. Viscous stuff is very hard to spin.

So here's an experiment that might be worth trying. Drop a huge pile of "simulated shark livers" in the path of a tornado and see what happens. Does the twister pick them up at all? And does it then Dynaslush to a halt? Maybe try a pile of silicone breast implants? If it works, you could build permanent liver-levees or bazoom-booms guarding the west side of doom-prone places like Moore.

.... Hmm. "Bazooms Versus Doom" would be a movie worth watching. Pam Anderson leads a gang of lady bikers who are terrorizing a small Okie town. Tornado approaches, and the title writes the rest.
  Neighborhood note

I've been doing the morning walk thing for about 1.5 years now, and I always make a point of passing by the decaying apartment building. My route varies, but I always slide by the apt one way or another. Call it superstition, or an architectural mantra... the intention is somehow prayerful. She's a pretty building, and I want to see her treated better. Houses want to be lived in.

I've shown a digital version of the building several times:

This week I've been noticing evidence of someone with a non-prayerful intention. Probably kids. Several newly broken windowpanes and some small graffiti.

So it's time to be more specific than usual, hoping that the owner will spot this and do a little window-fixing before the kids feel like they're in control. The building is at 4001 W. Crown in Spokane, and the LLC listed as owner has something in common with the flowers in the above cartoon.

= = = = =

Followup Feb 12, 2014: Someone finally noticed, probably with the help of good old Detective Snow. The building has finally been boarded up and officially "DO NOT ENTER"ed.


  True for one year

Poor sleep tonight. Though the air conditioner tries hard, it doesn't get the job done after several days of heat. Everything is warmed up, everything radiates. The AC can't keep up.

Woke after four hours, tried to bring back sleep by focusing ears on OTR programs. Sometimes it works, but not tonight. Ended up listening to several Calling All Cars episodes, including this one from March 1937. CAC laid the foundation for both Gangbusters and Dragnet, but didn't have the trademark style of either one. Each CAC show had a slightly different flavor and some good semi-classical theme music. In this 1937 episode the narrator, Chief Davis of Loz Anglis, closed with a typical hardass lecture:
So it was that this strange man who chose to lie under oath rather than testify against his paramour, found out too late the fact that the law cannot be trifled with. By perjuring himself Jim Walters played a losing game. And though it is too late for him to learn a lesson from it, perhaps you who are listening will realize the fact that the laws of the country were made to protect you. When you violate them, you are asking for just one thing. Trouble.

Suddenly struck me: He said the laws of the country were made to protect you.

Law enforcement types are always saying similar stuff, but 1937 was the single solitary year when this statement was LITERALLY TRUE.

Before 1908 the feds were insignificant compared to state and local authorities. The feds weren't protecting you and they weren't harassing you, unless you were in the Occupied South.

TR's progressives began both the protection and the harassment. Pure food and drug laws and labor laws protected ordinary people from some predatory capitalists, and Prohibition created the evil BATF that collaborated with gangsters to make life miserable for normal Americans.

Prohibition ended in 1934, removing the harassment. But the stock crash had proved we were still totally vulnerable to marauding capitalists. The securities laws of 1936 clamped down on the Wall Street Mafia.

So 1937 was the first year when the laws of this country were purely protecting us.

Didn't last. In 1938 Harry Anslinger used the "threat" of marijuana to rejuvenate the evil BATF and resume its usual collaboration and corruption and harassment. WW2 created vast new military and civilian bureaucracies, and after it ended those bureaucracies had to keep generating new wars and pseudowars to expand their turf and budget. Parkinson. Ratcheting, ratcheting, ratcheting. Tightening the screws a little more every year. Finally in 1999 the Securities Laws were repealed, removing all pretense of protection. Now we're besieged on all sides. By tyrannical bureaucracies, by drug gangs, by BATF, and most of all by the Wall Street gang.

= = = = =

Later: Noticed a "what's wrong with this picture?" I didn't mention WW1 as an expansionary factor because it didn't leave any permanent traces behind. But why didn't it? Along with the military expansion the feds created several huge bureaucracies like the Emergency Shipping Board and the US Food Administration. Both had massive infrastructure; the Shipping Board even built 'model cities' for its workers just as WPA did later. And both vanished without a trace after 1920. Why were they immune from Parkinson? Did Congress have an actual spine back then?
Friday, July 19, 2013
  Out of character items

Several strangely out-of-character things in the news today.

(1) Obama speaking on Trayvon/Zimmerman. Abysmally stupid for a generally smart and wise man. He's made it all the way down to Sharpton's level, which is exactly as low as you can go.

(2) In contrast, Charles Barkley has written a magnificently sensible and highly moral piece on the same subject. Barkley's previous public utterances on all subjects were shallow and dim, pretty much what you expect from a star athlete who has never needed to think beyond winning the next game.

(3) Berkeley hippieshits are protesting the appointment of the Napolitano as UC President. Why, for fuck's sake? The Napolitano is perfect for you. It is a cigar-chomping hyperbulldyke with the purest and hardest Pol Pot politics. It's everything you normally love. Why do you dislike it now? Because it was involved with NSA and Drones? It had a job to do, and by all indications it carried out the job well. Tyranny is hard work! ... But wait! Are you hippieshits starting to realize that the Goldman D-team and the Goldman R-team are indistinguishable? If so, welcome to the real world!
  Why pound?

The # sign, at least in tech circles, is quickly changing its name from Pound Sign to Hash Sign. (In musical circles, of course, it will always be Sharp Sign.)

As Pound goes away, I find myself wondering why Bell called # the Pound Sign anyway. I haven't been able to find a good answer.

In the late '60s when Bell introduced pushbutton phones, # in a printed document or in office work always meant Number as in a #2 pencil or Serial #12345. It was never widely used as a symbol for Pounds. I worked as a typesetter and later as an office manager in those years. I often set up forms with references to weight, and often typed up invoices or estimates referring to pounds of steel or pounds of grain. It was always lb, never #.

Using # for pounds would cause confusion with # for number. Also, there wasn't** a parallel symbol for ounces. If you needed to type pounds and ounces, as on a birth certificate, you'd start typing 7# and ... then what? Using lb and oz, you don't run into any confusion or inconsistency.

= = = = =

** Well, pharmacists used a weird double-headed Z thing for ounces, but nobody else used it and it was never on a typewriter.

= = = = =

Wildly irrelevant personal sidenote: I love typing lb. For some reason I have a pleasant synesthetic response to the abbreviation, which doesn't happen with the full word pounds. When I say or type lb, I can feel a just-right handful of something. The something is indefinite and variable: could be rice or barley or pipe tobacco. Whatever it is, it's tasty and substantial!
Thursday, July 18, 2013
  Unfallen Toad

I was looking through Google's old books, circa 1835, for a piece of info about Leyden jars, and bumped into this fascinating little story instead.

Many similar stories force the conclusion that Toads can survive a long time in suspended animation... but I seriously doubt that this Toad had been "incased in its stone mansion before the Fall." Maybe a hundred years.

You don't see Christian references in modern science periodicals. Instead you see Gaian zealotry and "multiple universe" wackery.

Got me thinking along a well-trodden road. There was a real Fall in the history of life, a point where simple splitting and budding was replaced by sexual reproduction. Not all creatures are Fallen; many continue with asexual budding and splitting. In fact, splitters still dominate the world in sheer quantity and mass. We sexy critters (petunias, poplars, peacocks, people) are big and flashy but insignificant... and we pay for the long-term advantages of sex by dying, often immediately after reproducing.

Most cultures and races have a creation story with a metaphorical representation of the Fall. Some stories are clearly copies, some seem to be independently written. How did the first tellers of these tales get their ideas? They didn't have microscopes or diving bells, so they were unacquainted with the splitting and budding side of life. They did understand breeding techniques of plants and mammals. Thus their experience was solely with the sexual side, which gives no clues that it arose from an earlier world without sex or mortality.

It's obvious that a few people have broadband connections to the universe, while most of us are stuck with 110 baud dialup on a party line. Perhaps those few broadbanders or prophets are able to read their own genomes, in a form that shows up as a story in their minds?

In any case, Pollock's beautiful last paragraph was prophetic. After 150 years of destructive distraction by Marx, Darwin, Hilbert, Heisenberg et al, modern science as it advances is finally leading back to harmony with the revelation by Nature's God. Not harmony with one highly modified version of the statement as Pollock hoped, but harmony with the original untranslated unmetaphored statement, written in a four-letter alphabet.


  Unexpectedly smart

A couple of surprisingly smart things are happening here in Spokane. Surprisingly because the local gov't tends to be benignly semi-competent. They get the basics done pretty well and they don't try anything new or fancy.

This attitude is a lasting legacy of a citizen revolt in 1993. For many years the city council had been wholly owned by the Cowles Family, which also owns the newspaper and much of downtown. The Cowles Council neglected potholes and snowplows, but spent millions on grandiose projects that purely served Cowles interests. The public (led by KXLY, the only major non-Cowles media) finally replaced the old council and demanded a reformed system. Since then, no large projects. Just fairly competent performance of the basic stuff.

First smart item:
The Spokane Police Department said that downtown crime dropped nearly 15% since the start of 2013 after opening a downtown precinct. ... Officials said that police bike patrols are stopped every 20 feet by people with questions or concerns. They added that it helped deal with petty crime immediately and sent a message to everyone downtown that the police are patrolling aggressively.
Precinct offices are an old idea in big cities, but until now we didn't have them. We had a few 'COPS' offices occasionally staffed by volunteers, which didn't work well.

Second smart item:

The school district is working fast to develop a charter school. This will be the first one in Wash. The state passed a pro-charter referendum last year, but Seattle HATES the idea for obvious reasons, and other cities aren't bothering with it. Spokane's superintendent Rediger was hired partly because of her previous experience in setting up a successful charter school, and she's proceeding to do it again. Yay!
  I take it back

As of yesterday, 7/17/13, England no longer has a monarchy, and Mr Elizabeth is no longer the monarch. I hereby abjure, renounce, recant, and generally erase all the prayers I offered up for the long life of the former monarch Mr Elizabeth. When Chuckie the Microwit takes over, it won't be any worse, because the worst has already happened.

The monarch was supposed to be Defender of the Faith, not Destroyer of the Faith. Of course this doesn't matter either, because the Faith has already destroyed itself in Britain.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
  Genuinely puzzled.

Each day thousands of "social science" studies get published in various journals. Maybe a half dozen of these studies make it into the pop-sci media or the general news each day. EVERY ONE of these studies is invalid. Zero exceptions. Some are purely counterfactual, operating on the nonsensical assumption that humans are identical. Most start with a good and unbiased observation of facts but violate the basic rules of causation.

Today's classic example: "Retiring early increases your chance of Alzheimers."

I don't have any reason to question their data gathering; probably careful and solid. But you simply CAN'T draw the causative inference unless you've done a randomized experiment. It's possible that some people keep their minds lively by working longer. It's also possible that some people sense their cognition is slowing down ... or their employer senses loss of performance ... so they retire early, voluntarily or forcibly. Most likely the situation is half and half. You can't pick either possibility without a randomized experiment, so the whole result is utterly meaningless as personal or policy guidance. It's just a tautology.

Here's what puzzles me: Bad causation is easy to spot, and lots of people can spot it. Even local TV newscasters, who are generally uninformed and shallow, often point out the problem.

If local TV newscasters can see the failure, why can't the researchers see the failure? Or their journal editors?
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
  Practicing what I preach

A few days ago I jibbered about 'improving the universe' and 'adding order and beauty'. After focusing on that wonderful hidden formal garden, I looked at the back of my own tiny lot and saw disorder. A stack of old wood, cement blocks and furniture that had been gradually accumulating since 2008 when I had the foundation repaired. Well, I'm not going to build a formal garden, but I can at least decrease entropy. So I finally called a local hauler and had him take it away, along with some furniture that had been sitting in the storage room for ten years. Decided to keep the cement blocks because they can be arranged decently and may be useful. Doesn't look neat yet, but after some weed-cutting and rearranging, it will look neat.

= = = = =

Followup here.
  Please, George, find asylum!

Is Zimmerman trying to get himself killed? Come on, dude. Get the fuck out of Sharptonia. You're free to go, and presumably your mother could legally take you along on a one-way "vacation" to Peru.

Can't you see the storm clouds gathering? Obama conferred with Bush The Father on methods to pervert justice. Remember what happened to those LA cops in 1992?

Are you foolish enough to think that "laws" will keep you safe now? The whole mess started because you previously understood, with perfect accuracy, that "laws" were NOT keeping you safe.

Meanwhile, Sharpton's minions are rioting in LA, thus proving your point beautifully. Please, man, go to a sane country, for your sake and for the rest of us.

Out of sight, out of mind. With an actual Zimmerman still in Florida, Satan's media will be showing you on TV every minute. Without a physical camera target, the media and Sharpton and Jackson and the Satanic media and the entire illegitimate so-called alleged quote "government" unquote of Sharptonia will gradually calm down.
Monday, July 15, 2013
  At last a sensible economist!

Well! At last an economic writer who understands the current situation, and doesn't adhere mindlessly to Friedman or Krugman.
The present state of this country cannot possibly be regarded by an impartial and attentive observer without much grief and apprehension. The continued drains of men and treasure produced by repeated wars through the last century have weakened the most prosperous and wealthy nation that ever existed.

There are, however, some people so fully persuaded of its inexhaustible resources that the accumulation of its debts is considered only as a proof of its growing wealth, and the present poverty as arising mainly from increased population.

Hence we see our legislators gravely proposing new national parks and wilderness reserves as the best means of preventing future scarcity. These legislators never stop to reflect that the multiplied debt produced by every new war constantly makes it harder for the poor man to maintain his family by his labor. Consequently, under these circumstances the poor man must be starved long before the resources available for his use can afford any subsistence to his family.
Whoops! I lied. That wasn't a current writer. It was an editorial in a British literary journal in 1796, and the recent war was the failed attempt to bring America back into the Empire. (I changed "enclosing the commons" to parks and reserves.) Both of our modern economic fallacies were active back then: The right-wing** fallacy that infinite debt is OK because it produces a "wealth effect"; and the left-wing fallacy that eliminating resources solves resource problems. Result of both is to push all wealth and activity into the financial sector.

This 1796 writer concluded accurately that being a superpower was purely destructive, and you're better off being an ordinary humble country. Good advice for us in 2013 Sharptonia. (Of course 1796 Britain didn't take his advice, and ran another failed war against America in 1812. We can be certain that 2013 Sharptonia won't take the advice either.)

= = = = =

**Footnote: The infinite-debt fallacy is mainly Friedmanite, but left-wingers like Krugman agree with it. The difference between the wings is not the effect of infinite debt, but how you produce it. Friedman wants to create it by zero taxes; Krugman by infinite spending. Total destruction either way.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
  Amazing justice!

Especially considering that it's Florida. Of course the cops had it right to begin with, as cops generally do. They understood the concept of self-defense. The case made it to court only because some chickenshit sissy-ass bitch-ass fag-ass Satan-loving God-hating persecuting attorney was more afraid of Al Sharpton than concerned with his own duty.

Now we have seven people who need to find asylum. Zimmerman and the six jurors. None of them will be able to live safely in any part of Sharptonia, formerly known as "America". Satan's media and the Satanic Feds will be watching them and chasing them forever.

Asylum is a growth industry.

= = = = =

Later: JessaJackson has predictably chimed in, claiming that the jury wasn't Die-Verse enough in some undefinable way. JessaJackson says Zimmerman should have had "a jurah of his peels." I think he means "peers", which is still nonsense. The Constitution says NOTHING about peels or peers, BECAUSE the whole point of 1776 was to get rid of the peelage or peerage system. The old common-law phrase referred to rank in the hierarchy of royals and nobles. If you're a Baron, the jury should be Barons or adjacent rank. If you're a commoner, the jury is commoners. JessaJackson, needless to say, is using the phrase in strictly racist form because JessaJackson is a racist and can't think any other way. Well then, by JessaJackson's racist standards, the jury should have been six males with Anglo fathers and Peruvian mothers. Good fucking luck finding that combination, even in Florida.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
  Amazingly wasteful

Statistic in the news today: Americans pay $12 billion for bottled water.

How does that compare with tap water? Those stats are harder to find. The closest I could get was a total revenue of $40 billion for all municipal water systems, of which 60% is household. So households spend $24 billion for water, of which 16% is listed as "faucet". Presumably that includes drinking, cooking, washing hands, and dishwashing for those of us** who don't have dishwashing machines. 16% of 24 = $3.8 billion spent for "faucet". Generously assume $3 bn of that is drinking. (In my own usage, I'd guess drinking is only 1/8 of "faucet".)

Result: We're spending 4 times as much for bottled water as for tap water. What do you get for 4 times as much? Damned if I know. A label?

How big are those bottles in landfills if uncrushed? Crudely estimating, each bottle costs a dollar, 4 bottles make a cubic foot, so 3 billion cuft per year = about 100 cubic miles per year.

= = = = =

**While I'm thinking of it: Pretty sure I've never used a dishwasher. My parents never had one, and I've never had one in the apartments and houses I rented or owned. I might have used a DW once when I was house-sitting for an aunt, but I don't recall the feeling of actually running the machine. More likely I just washed manually to avoid making expensive mistakes with an unfamiliar gadget.
  Mixed feelings

Texas tried again, overcame Satan's mobs, and passed a firm law against killing babies. If it were allowed to become law, the results would be excellent. Most babykilling shops in Texas would have to close. Of course it won't be allowed. Black-robed federal Satans will stop it long before it has a chance to take effect.

Aside from the fine results, I have mixed feelings about the justification written into this particular law. Justifying a babykilling ban on the basis of feeling pain is a bad precedent. First, it's subjective and uncertain, not based on firm knowledge. Second and more important, it's UNNECESSARY.

Human life has a perfectly objective and secular and scientific definition. At the moment when the zygote divides, it's on the way to becoming a full-grown human. At any point after that first division, intentionally destroying it must count as some form of illegal act. Not necessarily murder. We make clear distinctions between types of adult death, from natural to self-defense to premeditated. The same distinctions can be applied before birth. Miscarriage is natural death, avoiding maternal danger (but NOT "emotional distress") is self-defense, and paying a hitman to suck out the baby's brain is premeditated murder.

We don't need to bring pain into the equation. Even worse, this opens the gate to Peter Singer's evil definition of life as "being really really smart like Peter Singer". If feeling no pain is non-living, then we can be legally killed when we sleep or when we're under anesthetic or when we're snockered.
  Looks about right

Some Australian "scientists" have run up an alternate measure of national strength that works better than GDP. They used a bunch of Gaian ratshit (Cost of water pollution, Cost of air pollution, Cost of noise pollution, Loss of wetlands, Loss of farmland, Loss of forest area and damage from logging roads, Depletion of nonrenewable energy resources, Carbon dioxide emissions damage, Cost of ozone depletion) along with some highly valid measures. Despite the seeming overbalance toward Gaia, the result comes out about right. National happiness peaked in the mid-1970s.

Significantly, their graph for US agrees closely with graphs of real per capita income for productive people, or graphs of income inequality. Mid-70s was the peak of real income for productive people and the trough of income inequality. After 1978 the financiers started to take over, snatching more and more and more and more and more trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions and trillions into their own Satanic destructive pockets.

I suspect the researchers must have put a low weight on most of the Gaian shit. In fact real pollution also peaked around 1970, and has gone down steadily since then. If real pollution counted heavily in the mix, 1975 should have been a low point of 'goodness' instead of a high point.
Friday, July 12, 2013
  RIP telegraphy ||| No, NOT RIP!

I didn't realize commercial telegrams were still in use. Turns out India still has an active telegraph system, because some parts of the country are still too rough and poor for newer communication. The system will shut down this Sunday.

Polistra is conducting an old-fashioned telegrapher's funeral for all of commercial telegraphy.

Morse '30' signifies end of transmission; the cut wire signifies a circuit no longer grounded.

= = = = =

Broadly speaking, of course, telegraphy is more alive than ever before. Bear in mind that the original telegraph of the 1830's used keyboards and printers and visual displays, and was meant to be a system that anyone could use without special skills. The iconic combination of key and sounder and code was a somewhat accidental development, a diversion from the original idea. Commercial telegraphy returned to keyboards and printers (Baudot-code teletypes) in the 1930's, except for a few military and railroad outposts. And today's txting and tweeting (keyboards, visual displays, printers) is exactly what Wheatstone and Cooke had in mind. The underlying circuitry is infinitely more complex, but the end-user experience is identical.

= = = = =

Later: After a bit of looking around, it's clear that commercial telegraphy is NOT dead after all. Several countries have symbolic telegram services, more or less decorative overlays on e-mail. Similar to the way you can generate a snail-mail greeting card by email. But Mexico and (OF COURSE!) Russia still have genuine and active telegraph services.

Polistra is happily sending QTX in honor of Russia's constant regard for old technology. (QTX = "Yes, I can send telegrams.")

  Vo Elizabeth!!

That's half a BRAVO for Elizabeth Warren. ("Bra Elizabeth" would be confusing.)

Why half? Because she's pushing hard for ONE crucial restoration of FDR's laws. Bringing back Glass-Steagall is critically necessary, and a competent president would have done it by executive order on January 20, 2009. Unfortunately we didn't have any competent choices, so it didn't happen.

But Elizabeth isn't pushing (yet?) to restore the OTHER HALF of FDR's solution, which is EQUALLY CRUCIAL. Namely, the rest of the 1936 securities laws, prohibiting abstract options and derivatives. Real hedging of commodities was permitted, because real hedging helps to keep commodity prices leveled out. All other options and derivatives are EVIL and must be CAPITAL CRIMES in both senses of the word.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
  Random thought on Arbitrary and Artificial

"Nothing arbitrary, nothing artificial can endure." Schwellenbach quoting Emerson. It's one of the quotes that I rotate in Polistra's top icon. Applies nicely to the American auto industry. As of two years ago, all the 'arbitrary' brands have disappeared, and only 'natural' brands endure.

= = = = =

By 'arbitrary' I mean a brand that was purely created by a corporation, usually as a variant on an existing product.

Since the peak of arbitrariness in 1930, these arbitrary brands have disappeared from the existing corporations:

GM: Viking, Marquette, LaSalle, Pontiac, Saturn.

Ford: Edsel, Mercury.

Chrysler: DeSoto, Imperial, Eagle, Plymouth.

= = = = =

'Natural' means a brand that had an independent existence as a company before it became a giant corporation or before it was merged into a giant corporation. Plenty of natural brands have disappeared. Oldsmobile was the most recent.

The remaining eight 'natural' brands can be traced back to seven founders. (I've included a minimum amount of biography to show the tangled traces.)

Brands: Ford, Lincoln, Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep.

Founders: Henry Ford, Walter P. Chrysler, Billy Durant, David Buick, Henry Leland, John & Horace Dodge, and John North Willys.

= = = = =

Ford and Chrysler are direct and obvious, from founder to existing company. Unsurprisingly, Ford is the healthiest of the Big Three. Ford was a private family company until 1956, and Henry's direct descendants are still on the board of directors.

Billy Durant started GM by buying out David Buick, then picked up Olds, Oakland and Cadillac in 1909.

Cadillac had been (more or less) created by Henry Leland. He soon got tired of Durant's management and founded his own company called Lincoln, which was then bought by Ford in 1922. So Leland is responsible for two of the surviving brands.

Chevrolet was started by Billy Durant after he was kicked out of GM by the stockholders, using French racing driver Louis Chevrolet as a frontman. Durant then used the new company as a springboard to recapture GM. (So Louis doesn't count as a founding father, but Chevrolet does count as an original company.)

The Dodge brothers began as a supplier for Ford and quickly became (more or less) partners with Ford. They got tired of Ford's management and started their own company in 1914, directly competing with the T. After the brothers died of influenza in 1920, the company drifted until Walter Chrysler bought it in 1927.

John North Willys started his company in 1912, making mostly big cars with sleeve-valve engines. Like Durant, he was a high-roller who enjoyed dealing more than building things, and his company ended up in bankruptcy in 1933. Bankruptcy was its salvation, leading to specialization in small cars. In 1941 the company became synonymous with the military Jeep, but the current line of Jeep models descends more directly and continuously from the Willys Station Wagon of 1947.
  Smart Russkis

News: KGB is buying up lots of old manual typewriters to avoid electronic surveillance by NSA. Mostly a publicity stunt, since KGB certainly knew what NSA was doing. (I've known about it for 25 years, and I have no connections at all! Can't believe that KGB was less aware than I was.)

Aside from the stuntness, this is Russia's real Secret Weapon. Stick with older technology despite apparent disadvantages, because older technology is more durable, more repairable and harder to fuck with.

Leads to an interesting thought.... How about fluidic computers or compressed-air computers? Capable of more speed and complexity than 'gears and levers' mechanisms, but still lacking an electromagnetic output for NSA to detect.

In the early days of telegraphy before electricity dominated everything, pneumatic telegraphs were used commercially for a while. Less practical but maybe inspiring other ideas, this 1827 gaslight telegraph that I modelled a while ago:

Later: Further news stories indicate that KGB is trying to buy German Adler TWEN180 typewriters. Far as I can see from other online info, these are electronic "word processing typewriters" with some computer capabilities like memory and editing. If this is accurate, it's a bad solution. These machines will still send out a readable series of electromagnetic blips. Tends to reinforce the idea that KGB already has a solution to the NSA problem and is only buying these to make a point. (Pre-1970 electric typewriters, basically manuals with an electric motor giving a power assist to each keystroke, would be just as safe as non-electric manuals. In theory you could monitor them acoustically, but that would require the kind of individual analysis and intrusiveness that only an on-site personal spy could provide. And an on-site agent could just look at the documents anyway!)

= = = = =

Artistic sidenote: Happystar's Soviet cap has a star on it. Does this mean that Happystar is just a five-pointed symbol, or does it mean that the star on his cap is a stylized portrait of Happystar's leader Josef Starlin? It's a Pluto/Goofy conundrum.
  Proved it, didn't they?

Reading about the New York woman who was barely saved from organ harvesting. Apparently the event happened in 2009 but is just now hitting the news because some NY state board has finally completed its "investigation".
Patient Colleen S. Burns was reportedly admitted into St. Joseph’s emergency department in 2009 after overdosing.... doctors thought she had underwent “cardiac death.” After doctors consulted with the family, they agreed to withdraw life support and donate her organs.

What actually happened was that Burns was in a deep coma from her overdose, and did not have irreversible brain damage. ... Doctors did not pay attention to a nurse’s notes which stated that Burns was not brain dead and in fact was getting better. A nurse performing a routine reflex test had discovered that Burns’ toes had curled downward after the bottom of her foot was touched.

Even when she was being prepped outside the operating room for organ harvesting, her nostrils flared, and she could breathe independently from the respirator. She was also moving her lips and tongue. But, it was only when Burns was actually in the operating room and had opened her eyes that doctors called off the procedure.

There was no review at all until the Health Department made a surprise visit. That resulted in a one-page document that said the mistake was made because of “perception differences.”

Perception differences. Jesus. Is that a new disability? "Differently perceptioned" means you aren't paying any fucking attention?

Here's what made me pay fucking attention:
Kuss added that her daughter was so depressed that the incident did not “make any difference to her.” She [successfully] committed suicide in January 2011.

Well, you can be sure it did make a difference. Depressed people understand ACCURATELY that nobody cares if they are alive or dead, but very few depressed people get such a complete and definitive proof of the fact.

The way out of depression is not suicide. The way out is, first of all, basic physical stuff like unplugging the TV and getting exercise. TV is explicitly designed to make you feel helpless and low-status, so you'll seek salvation in Our Product or Our Politician. And it's very hard to think bad thoughts when you're walking.

Second, cultivate gratitude. Good sleep? Yay! Good dump? Yay! Good walk? Yay! Warm sun? Yay! Cold morning gives relief from warm sun? Yay! Saw a pretty girl and she didn't run desperately through traffic to avoid you? Yay! She did run through traffic to avoid you and got squashed by an SUV? Yay, bitch! (If that sounds nasty, consult Old King Dave's Guide To Gratitude. Example and Example. Or the Magnificat.)

Third, you have to grab onto the FACT that nobody cares. No point in maintaining illusions. If you are not impressive or attractive, nobody wants you alive. It's a fact. After grabbing the fact, you have to adjust your life so the fact doesn't confront you at every turn. Transform the humiliation into productive rage. Create something positive that will prove your existence to the universe, even if it still doesn't impress any fucking idiot humans.

Or! You could channel humiliation into destruction. Let's see how that works. Consider the 9/11 Saudi boys. Their goal was to impress the US and Saudi governments so dramatically that US and Saudi would mend their evil ways, stop consorting with Israel, and turn toward God. Well, what happened? TSA. Homeland Security. Total surveillance. More pointless wars defending Israel's interests. Kim Kardashian. "Gay" "marriage". Family Guy. Michael Mann. The 2008 Goldman Coup. ....... Hmm. Not quite the desired result, eh? And now the 'mastermind' KSM is stuck in prison where his life finally matters to someone. His life matters to ACLU, i.e. Satan Senior, and to CIA, i.e. Satan Junior. But there's a consolation prize: KSM finally got a chance to use his engineering skills for something positive. He designed a new vacuum cleaner, but the plans are classified by CIA. Neither confirm nor deny.

See why it's better to create something positive in the first place? When you increase order and beauty, you've improved the universe in a tiny way. You haven't motivated evil people to create TSA and Homeland Security and Goldman Coups and Family Guy.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
  Quake premonition note

5 AM Wed: Suddenly felt the dark sensation that has sometimes presaged a nearby earthquake by 18 hours. Recording this publicly in the name of science... if quake happens around 11 PM tonight, give or take a couple hours, I'm validated. If no quake, I'm wrong!

Later: Well, there was a moderate quake in Indonesia at the right time (18 hours and 8 minutes) but I'm not impressed by that. Not strong enough or close enough. No significant quakes on this side of the Pacific Rim. So I was wrong. The dark sensation was just a random squirt of hormones.
Tuesday, July 09, 2013
  Language update for Asiana

Professor Polistra hasn't gathered the usual pile of language oddities, but decided to run a Breaking Update to take immediate note of an unusual phenomenon.

= = = = =

Asiana: the airline responsible for the seawall 777 crash.

Amazing example of phonetic permutation. Almost every possible combination of the first four symbols has been heard.

The first A could be /æ/ or /eɪ/ or /ɑ/
The S could be /s/ or /z/ or /ʃ/ or /ʒ/
The I is either silent or /i/
The second A could be /æ/ or /ɑ/

Total permutations: 3 * 4 * 2 * 2 = 48, and nearly all have been used.

What is the correct or intended pronunciation? It's written in Korean news articles in a way that feels like a 'foreign word', even though the name was probably invented by the airline:


which would be ah-see-ah-nah or equally ah-shee-ah-nah.

(In Korean and Japanese, /s/ before /i/ tends to palatalize into /ʃ/.)

= = = = =

Few days later: CBS reporter Carter Evans gets it exactly right. Everyone else is still all over the phonemic map.


  Hidden beauty

Sort of following on these thoughts about order and beauty.

When I was writing about the fantastic Hypotenuse Tree [RIP], I tried to find it on Bing's birds-eye map. It wasn't obvious from that angle, and Google Street didn't do it justice either, so my own photo was probably the best view of it. However, just across the street from Hypotenuse an even more fantastic vision appeared on Bing:

A classic formal garden!

This is not your formal-garden-type neighborhood. Respectable and safe, but a long way from fancy.

Since then I've walked around that block trying to catch a glimpse of the garden from the street. No luck. It's absolutely hidden from all sides. Bing is the only public way to see it.

Wonder how long it's been there? The city's online property map includes a 1958 aerial photo aligned with the streets. [LATER NOTE: NO LONGER AVAILABLE.] It doesn't have the resolution of modern satmaps, but it seems to show a dark rectangle in the same spot behind the same house. (Overall, very little has changed around here since 1958. About 80% of the houses are unchanged in shape. The clearest difference is lots of casual paths running through the middle of blocks without regard to lot lines. Though fences wouldn't be visible, the paths imply that very few houses had fences in 1958, and kids had free range.)


  Good screens make good neighbors?

A local columnist raised a random question, triggered by his observation that lots of windows are open at night in this weather: Have you ever been awakened by snoring from a neighboring house? I thought about it for a moment and realized it was fairly interesting after all. I've never heard any sounds from inside a neighboring house! I hear plenty of sounds from neighboring yards, but never from inside. (Apartments are a different matter. Walls and floors act as diaphragms to transfer ALL sounds directly from one apartment to another!)

What's going on? I wonder if there's a sort of Helmholtz resonator effect that prevents sound from escaping easily through a small hole like a window? In order to get out, the waves have to bend and diffract through the hole, which uses up some of their energy. Sound inside House A loses energy on exiting through a window, then spreads out through the air, then loses more energy on entering House B through a window. And screens would cause extra diffraction of higher frequency components.

While I was thinking, I noticed this work in Materials Science that agrees with the idea:
An important factor in this is how efficiently the sound can get into the chamber and here Kima and Lee have another trick. To maximise this efficiency, they drill a 50 millimetre hole through each piece of acrylic. This acts as a diffraction element causing any sound that hits the chamber to diffract strongly into it. The result is a double-glazed window with a negative bulk modulus that strongly attenuates the sound hitting it.
They were using diffraction the other way around, trying to guide sound into a chamber where it can dissipate, but the basic point is the same.
Monday, July 08, 2013
  Well, that's interesting

Over the last year or two I had the feeling that my publisher was getting into some kind of financial trouble. They seemed disorganized and distracted, sort of grasping at straws, unable to get things going. Today I got a form letter from an unknown legal firm announcing that they've gone into bankruptcy. The letter says they will try to keep running as before, but judging from their overall performance I'm not so sure.

Oh well. This is what I've been planning for. I went through lots of hard work and lean times to reach the point where I don't need to worry about this income source. I knew that sooner or later the income would fade out; either the company would go down or the stuff would stop selling. Publishing has become a tricky business to put it mildly!

This explains a couple of mysteries. (1) The item they needed to have via UPS on Friday was a revised contract on an old product. I didn't see why it was needed, now I do. The revision puts the payments from that product into a category that they can escape paying next year, if I read the bankruptcy stuff correctly. (2) Back in March when I deposited this year's annual check (which was much smaller than usual), the bank immediately saw the check as suspicious and put the deposit on hold, requiring me to show more documents before putting it through. ("We're trying to protect you.") I was highly pissed because similar annual checks from the same source had been accepted without problems for at least 10 years. The bank wouldn't give a straight answer for the sudden blacklisting, but now it becomes clear. Makes me feel a bit better about the bank ... they were in fact trying to protect my account, not trying to hassle me.

= = = = =

Update 9/16/13: Now the publisher has sent a letter indicating that the very small check in March was only a partial, and they might be sending another check later to finish the year's royalties. Though the secrecy and dribbling of information is annoying, I'm still happy to be in aquifer mode. The potential extra now feels like a bonus.
  I know who he's talking to

Pope Francis is telling nuns and priests to be more austere in their choice of automobiles.

Reminds me of something I noticed two years ago. Think I'll just reprint:

= = = = =Start reprint:

Saw a gaggle of real nuns this morning. All starched up and habited up, sharp black and white.

But the rest of the picture was wrong. They were driving a brand-new shiny gold Chrysler SUV with non-standard gold decorations. A pure Pimpmobile.

Used to be, nuns drove the cheapest and plainest 'serious' car. They drove Rambler Americans or Ford Mainlines.

Not this bunch.

They've traded up from a stripper car to a stripper's car!

= = = = =

After some thought: Can't really blame the nuns. There isn't a 'stripper' category in the auto world now. Some cars (eg Kia Rio) are especially low-priced, but they don't give off the same smell as the strippers of the '50s and '60s. When you drove a Chevy II or a Studebaker Scotsman, you were unquestionably signalling frugality.

Most were bought in quantity by businesses, churches or other organizations; their intended message was "We aren't going to waste your money on frills and chrome. You can trust us."

When bought by individuals, the message was "I don't need a status symbol." This was actually divided into two subsets of owners: (1) Cranky old misers like me, who learned through painful experience that there's no point in trying to impress anyone when you're not naturally impressive; and (2) The old rich, who genuinely didn't need any status symbols to increase their already infinite status.

In today's world of mandatory bling and flash, I don't think there's an automotive way to send a frugality signal.

= = = = = End reprint.

Okay, Sacred Heart penguins in the solid gold SUV. Papa Frank is talking to you! This means YOU!

Hmm. Wasn't that a '50s rock song? "Well, the Sacred Heart penguins in the solid gold Ess You Vee-heeee ... And we'll have nuns, nuns, nuns till their Daddy takes the Chrysler away-haaay!"

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Location: Spokane

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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