Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Bank

A really nice article on the banked turn in an airplane. If you have nothing better to do this fine Sunday evening.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

An Education In Tolerance

I have been doing a series of posts about the Drug War at Classical Values. Here is one. If you follow the links back you can read them all.

In what appears to be an ongoing series commenter Thomas was spouting some popular misconceptions about drugs. I wanted to make more public my reply. With a few additions.


There is no such thing as addiction. If you are in pain you will take pain meds. When the pain goes away so does the desire for the meds.

Tolerance arises from two things: when you fill the receptors taking more drugs does no good. If you keep the receptors filled the body grows more. Thus the need for ever increasing doses. It is also why most people can't get addicted. Their receptors are sufficiently filled by the body's natural heroin - endorphins. Or in the case of pot annamides.

For habituation (the body’s need for continuous replacement of used drugs) we know how to fix that. It is called detox. For heroin it can be done in a few days to a few weeks. For barbiturates the treatment can run six months. But if you don’t fix the underlying pain you get what are euphemistically called “relapses”.

Seriously. Where did you learn your science? On a street corner?


Sadly the street corner is where most people get their knowledge about addiction. And surprisingly it seems DEA propaganda predominates. That and refer madness movies from the '30s.

So let me make this prediction: the drug war will end once people's superstitions about drugs are educated away. I think it will take about 4 or 5 more years.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, July 29, 2011

How The Government Works

The Congress (the House actually) authorizes spending. The President (effectively) signs the checks. The Social Security checks. And yes the money is there. It is in all those certificates in the Social Security Lock Box. He could start cashing those. If you don't get a Social Security check next month it is because the President decided you weren't worth the money. Or he wants you screaming at him.

I propose you start the screaming early.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Powered Up

Last night around 9:30 PM (local time) we had a heck of a windstorm in Rockford. A large branch of a tree is sitting on our front lawn. Since the tree is on city property I get to haul it out to the street and wait for the city to pick it up. The best part was that the power went out at my place at about ten minutes into the storm while we were in the basement waiting the storm out. There was a mad scramble to get flashlights and candles. Luckily we have lived here long enough to find our way about in the dark. The power didn't come on until 2 PM (local time) this afternoon. As usual, in every dark cloud there is a silver lining. Let me just repeat what my first mate told me, "The power was off and my husband was on." Yes. Indeed. Let me add that the first mate was powered up as well. A very lovely young lady.

This is not the first power outage we have had recently. There was a two hour long outage on July 11th. For no reason I could figure.

Which brings me to my main point. Getting through a power outage. Flashlights, batteries and candles for sure. But what else? A battery backup for your computer is essential. I say this as someone who has run computers for decades without such backup. You can't believe how nice it is to do an orderly shut down when the power goes off. So what do I use? This:

Cyberpower CP600LCD UPS - 600VA/340W LCD Display 8-Outlet RJ11/ Compact Design EMI/RFI

It gets good ratings and reviews. The price is right (currently about $62, I paid $65) and it works well. It has excellent surge protection ( I already had lots of that on the line) and a really neat gadget for your desktop that shows available battery run time and the power your computer is drawing in real time. I love watching the meter go up and down with CPU and disk drive usage. It is totally geeky cool. My computer (a Gateway DX4831-01e), my monitor (A Samsung SyncMaster 710n - donated by a reader), the cable modem and my Cisco router (Linksys WRT54GS V5.0), all together use about 91 watts minimum and about 132 watts maximum. The backup system is rated for 340 watts. So I'm not stressing it much. Which is a good thing for emergency gear.

One thing I changed after the first outage was the items plugged in to the backup supply. I added the cable modem and the wireless router to the backup system. It was so cool having the mate's and the third son's laptops working with all the power out. There is only enough battery to keep the router and modem running for about an hour or two (if you shut the computer and monitor down as soon as you lose power). But that is enough time to find out what is going on.

Which brings me to another item. A second source of information. Radio. I have a Sony ICF-SW7600GR AM/FM Shortwave World Band Receiver with Single Side Band Reception which is a little pricey ($140 with shipping) but is good for TEOTWAWKI because it can get amatueur radio (SSB) and regular short wave (it actually goes from 150 KHz - to 29.999 MHz and also covers an extended FM range). But if you are going to run it without power you are going to need batteries. So why not some good rechageables? The radio takes four AA cells so I went looking. What I found was the Sony Cycle Energy Power Charger with 4 2500 mAh AA Batteries. When I bought them the price was $13. I wanted a second set of batteries so I could be using one set while charging the other set. I found out a second set of batteries was $12. No brainer. I bought a second set of batteries plus a charger for $1 more.

Any way. Think about what you might do to protect yourself and your stuff from power disturbances. Besides regular backups of your hard drive.

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Federal Revenue

Talking about how the Federal Government doesn't take in enough money seem to be all the rage this morning (well the New York Times did take the lead).

"We as a society will either have to pay more for our government, accept less in government services and benefits, or both," says Douglas Elmendorf, director of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. "For many people, none of those choices is appealing — but they cannot be avoided for very long."

This year's federal tax revenues are forecast to equal 14.4 percent of gross domestic product, a broad measure of economic output, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

That's the lowest share since 1950, long before Congress approved expensive programs such as Medicare.
Ah. So taxes need to be raised. And why are collections so low? Rather simple. The rich (who pay most of the income tax) are not making so much money these days.

But are we really undertaxed? Historically taxes raise an amount equal to about 20% of GDP in America. So what are they raising now? The data is from the Wiki so some salt might be handy. But it is at least instructive. Taxation at all levels of the US economy is at 26.9% of GDP according to the Heritage Foundation. According to the EU it is 24%. So you get the ball park.

Taxation has been at a record level of GDP for a while now. Let us look at a little history thoughtfully provided by the federal government.

It looks like we are just returning to "normal" levels of taxation to me. In any case tax rates don't matter. If rates get too high people start working off the books. The people rule.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Social Movement

Jim Hoft has a nice article up about why the Norway shooter was not a Christian. And of course a load of commenters chimed in about Christian compassion.

I will believe in Christian compassion when I see a call for an end to the pogrom on heroin users.

Did you know that about 70% of female heroin users were sexually abused children? (See Dr. Lonnie Shavelson’s book “Heroin”) And of course sexually abused children provide a cohort ready for prostitution.

So where is the compassion? Instead of punishing these people we should be helping them. We should be focusing on child abuse. I don’t see it. Oh. There are individual cases. But where is the social movement? I don’t see it.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, July 25, 2011

Higher Math

Republicans added to the debt. Democrats multiplied it. Obviously Democrats are smarter. They can do higher math.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Project Update 24 July 2011

I have been going hot and heavy and getting a lot of things done. Board layouts and such. I had figured out how to get around $15 or $20 worth of parts to get the job done. Quite elegant too. And then I started thinking. And looking at a $1.40 (singles) microprocessor (with some special circuitry inside) that could replace my $20 in parts. Of course the software is a little more complicated but the circuit is much simpler.

Needless to say a redesign is in order. I'm starting with a prototype set up using a commercial board (with some special add ons) and will migrate to the single chip design if interest warrants. The commercial board has extensive debugging features which will make getting things working easier. I hope.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It Can't Happen Here

Arnie Gunderson and friend explain why It Can Happen Here. From the blurb about the video at Arnie's site:

The well-known safety flaws of Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors have gained significant attention in the wake of the four reactor accidents at Fukushima, but a more insidious danger lurks. In this video nuclear engineers Arnie Gundersen and David Lochbaum discuss how the US regulators and regulatory process have left Americans unprotected. They walk, step-by-step, through the events of the Japanese meltdowns and consider how the knowledge gained from Fukushima applies to the nuclear industry worldwide. They discuss "points of vulnerability" in American plants, some of which have been unaddressed by the NRC for three decades. Finally, they concluded that an accident with the consequences of Fukushima could happen in the US.

With more radioactive Cesium in the Pilgrim Nuclear Plant's spent fuel pool than was released by Fukushima, Chernobyl, and all nuclear bomb testing combined. Gundersen and Lockbaum ask why there is not a single procedure in place to deal with a crisis in the fuel pool?
Some very good questions. Watch the video.

I just finished watching the video and noted that it was sponsored by a number of groups with axes to grind. Which ought to make one suspicious. However, as a former Naval Nuke I found nothing in the presentation I could disagree with. Their concerns are my concerns. Every once in a while interest groups are reasonable and rational. I can't explain it. It happens. Occasionally.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, July 22, 2011

No News

By now you have heard about the bombing and shooting in Norway. What struck me as funny (it usually does) is the usual call to avoid speculation.

..."we don't want to speculate" on whether a terror group is responsible...
What I think he means is "don't jump to the conclusion that Islam had anything to do with it." Which of course makes people jump to the conclusion that it was Islam Inc. as usual. Why even bother?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

It Amazes Me

I have been an Internet fiend for over 16 years. And yet when I have something interesting to do (my current project) I lose all interest in keeping up with the latest news. I got the news bug when I first worked in radio. I was a little over 18 (the minimum age for engineers) and used to love reading the AP wire off the teletype. Especially the stories that never made the media.

In any case, the project is going well and I'm finishing the board layouts. Maybe another few days, maybe a week or more. Depending.

And another note. The Internet makes it very easy and very quick to get part information. This is very important when not every integrated circuit comes in a DIP package.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Want To Know?

Want to know something about digital quadrature phase detectors? Just ask me.

Which is to say the project is coming along very nicely. Plus I have learned a few things which might be useful elsewhere.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How Hot Is It?

It got up to 95 degrees today in Rockford. I think the heat index was above 106 F. That is half way to boiling. Be very careful. I don't use air conditioning. It costs too much. But I do shower a LOT. Just sitting at the computer during the hottest part of the day I started to feel dizzy. Uh. Oh. I headed for the shower at once since that can be a sign of incipient heat stroke. That was it. As soon as I got out of the shower and in front of a fan the dizziness went away.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Common Sense

I came across something on why high IQ people (at least the one's we notice) seem so lacking in common sense. has often been observed that high IQ types are lacking in ‘common sense’ – and especially when it comes to dealing with other human beings. General intelligence is not just a cognitive ability; it is also a cognitive disposition. So, the greater cognitive abilities of higher IQ tend also to be accompanied by a distinctive high IQ personality type...
One must also keep in mind that "common sense" is why we have to teach people to fly airplanes. The word in that realm is: Trust your instruments Luke. Of course the instruments can give you a false picture. Just as your common sense can. The most useful rule is:

"Test all things. Hold fast to that which is true."

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Bearing The Burdens - Or - What Will They Do?

Dave has an outstanding post up dealing with the drug legalization question. I'm always interested in the comments as a very rough gauge of popular sentiment.

A legalization fear I see a lot these days is based on “if we leave those people alone what will they do?”

Of course the question started gaining a lot of ground when the communists started asking questions about the capitalists. Such as: “What are they going to do? It is unpredictable and could be bad. They must be controlled.”

And worst of all they like what they are doing. What more proof do you need for the need for control?

BTW it has been my experience that once a person gets to the above point mentally (what will we do with zombies run wild?) it is not long before they throw in the towel on prohibition.


And Dave. Look up Nixon's methadone program. Reports back in the day said that 50% to 60% of the troops were on heroin in 'Nam. Nixon was worried about the "drug epidemic" this would cause in the US. So he did methodone. The program was a roaring success. "Free" government drugs and supervision vs the chaos of the street. But after a year or so it seems that something like 80% or 90% of the enrollees dropped out. To become street drug users? No. The environment was better in the US vs wartime 'Nam and they no longer needed drugs to cope. That left only the genetically susceptible.

Addiction Is A Genetic Disease

Everyone gets PTSD if the trauma is severe enough. The deal is: because of genetics 80% of us get over it in about 3 to 6 months. For the other 20% it can take significantly longer.

Always keep in mind that being in that 20% group is not enough. Genes don't make you automatically an addict of anything but food, air, and water (No - I'm not going to nit pick the left out details). For you to get long term PTSD you must be not only be genetically susceptible but also traumatized.

I don't know about you but Lets Make War On The Traumatized does not sound like marching orders. It sounds more like "I'm going to sit this one out". I will not volunteer. But change that to "lets put extreme hurts to users of unapproved drugs who use them for unapproved reasons" and the support is just phenomenal. About $75 billion from Federal, State, and Local Governments alone. Not to mention your lovely local neighborhood war zone (Interzone?) delivered to almost every city of any size in America.

So we come down to "who will bear the burdens of legalization" because we already know who is bearing the burdens of prohibition. The 10,000 or so murdered in the crossfire (2,000 just bystanders or sleeping quietly in a bedroom). The neighborhoods destroyed (only "those people" live there - in my town the shorthand is "West side" - when I lived in Chicago quite a few people actually called it "The Zone"), and the $75 billion a year taxpayers squander to keep the whole deadly farce running. And the folks who are generally anti-statist are those who most support the state on this question. Go figure.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, July 15, 2011

Kenneth, What Is The Frequency?

And that is all I'm going to say for now about the project I'm working on.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The project I am working on is going well. Blogging is not.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Fake Astroturf Sites

No. Really.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Economist On Jury Nullification

The Economist is looking at jury nullification. The best stuff is in the comments. Notions of right and wrong. What is conscience? The really big questions. For which each of us has to find his own answer. What? You wanted some one else's? It does save the pain of thinking I suppose. Responding according to a program is faster and easier. Possibly better. If you have the right program. And then the environment changes. And the program starts slipping in some details. Then larger chunks diverge as the program remains static while the environment continues to change. And then the program falls. To be replaced by a better one more suited to current circumstances.

The best defense in a changing environment? As few restrictions as possible. But that model fails too in its own special way. "Restrict them, I don't do that."

Thinking. Painful as it is, it is the only way out.

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Pelosi Power

Nancy Pelosi who currently has no effective power in the House of Representatives is planning on exercising her power to prevent a balanced budget.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has so far played a minor, background role in the negotiations between President Obama and congressional Republicans over raising the debt ceiling. But she sought to change all that Friday, in a private meeting with Obama to drive home her earlier pledge to oppose any deal that cuts the nation's entitlement programs.
I doubt she has the power to sustain her desires. Looming even bigger is the fact that the nation lacks the resources to sustain her desires. So far Congress has been unable to repeal the law of Supply and Demand. I predict they will do no better with gravity. Congress does have a bit of expertise in this area that is unsurpassed though. The Critters involved know how to increase friction. Very handy if you want to slow things down.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Blue D Hell (say it fast)

The title was inspired by the picture at this posting: [Fill In Blank] Industry Furious At Obama by my friend Ed Driscoll.

Bad Numbers

Commenters at Vodka Pundits's "The Economy By The Numbers" are discussing whether Euclidean geometry is bigoted for only considering straight lines. Maybe. But I have a different view.

What is really wrong with the economy is that the Reimann manifolds need porting and polishing to improve economic flows.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Why Going Nuclear Is A Bad Idea

Instapundit has a bit up by a nuclear "expert" who says that Going Nuclear Is Safe and Right: Michigan Professor. If you follow the link to the original article, you will find video and text.

In the video the "expert" says that shutting down the nuclear industry in Germany, Italy and Switzerland is a very bad idea. On this point he is probably correct. I think closing the plants after their useful life is a good way to go. But he says one other thing that really got my goat. Something to the effect of "if people really knew what was going on they would feel better about nukes." I don't think so. So it is time for a Fukushima update. Let us see how things are going and how they have gone.

At the link are excerpts from an Arnie Gundersen Interview. I'm going to excerpt a few choice bits myself.

"I have said it's worse than Chernobyl and I’ll stand by that. There was an enormous amount of radiation given out in the first two to three weeks of the event. And add the wind and blowing in-land. It could very well have brought the nation of Japan to its knees. I mean, there is so much contamination that luckily wound up in the Pacific Ocean as compared to across the nation of Japan - it could have cut Japan in half. But now the winds have turned, so they are heading to the south toward Tokyo and now my concern and my advice to friends that if there is a severe aftershock and the Unit 4 building collapses, leave. We are well beyond where any science has ever gone at that point and nuclear fuel lying on the ground and getting hot is not a condition that anyone has ever analyzed."
Got that? Fukushima was a "lucky" accident. What happens if we have an "unlucky" accident. And it wouldn't be hard. A reactor inland close to a populated area would do just fine. Know any? I live in an area that has a population of around 300,000 or maybe a half million within 30 km of the Byron nuke plant. Not to mention the agriculture. Or all the plants at the edge of the Great Lakes. A great heat sink there but not enough dilution in case of an accident. Which the industry assures us is unlikely (Chernobyl and Three Mile Island were just aberrations). And I used to believe them. Events have overtaken faith. And I assure you it is a bitch.

A few little tasties from a while back:

70,000 more people need to get out of Dodge.

TEPCO management…just keeps looking worse and worse.

Radioactive material detected in grass in Miyagi

France detects cesium in Japanese tea imports

And then there are the baseless rumors.
A group of fishing boats left the Onahama Port for katsuo fishing last month, but they've given up on hauling to the Onahama Port due to the "baseless rumor" of radiation contamination, according to Tokyo Shinbun.

The authorities seem to want to keep it "baseless rumor" by not testing. At this point, even if they start to test, no consumer will readily believe the official numbers.
One way to avoid unpleasantness is to "don't look". I thought we were supposed to outgrow that at least by age 18 if not sooner. Of course under stress people regress.

And how about the people of Japan? Losing their faith in the nuclear industry? That will be a blow.

The shills are out. i.e. why the Japanese are losing their faith in nuclear. As are The Germans and The Italians and even the quite sober and calculating Swiss.

It is stories like this that give nuclear power a bad name. 17,020 Becquerels/Kg Cesium in Dirt Cleaned Out from Elementary School Swimming Pool in Ibaraki Prefecture
And who did the cleaning? Children.

And for those of you into water sports. Just great - High levels of radioactivity found in Fukushima resident's pee. Be careful out there. I think a few licks might be OK. But if not there will be some serious fall out from the accident. "Nuclear power screwed up my sex life" is not a phrase we would care to hear very often.

Until we get nukes designed to weather total loss of power accidents for a week or more we don't have the nukes we need. And until the industry gets serious I'm not going to be a supporter.

Enough gloom and doom for today. No doubt we will have more tomorrow. In the mean time things will be getting better. Mostly.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

A Technical Solution To A Political Problem

My blogging output has been pitiful lately. That is because I am working on a technical solution to a political problem. It may take me some weeks to work this out which includes designing boards and writing software. I will make an announcement when the design phase is done. Then on to testing and hopefully production.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Drug War Einsatzgruppen

The bounty on dopers has reached such incredible heights that the Drug Warriors are now killing old men for operating funds.

The invaders who murdered Hampton, Virginia resident William Cooper swiped about $900 in cash. They seized his gun collection. They took the Lexus from his driveway. By some oversight they neglected to extract the gold fillings from his teeth.

While they made off with a decent haul, the robbers were doubtless disappointed that they couldn't locate the large stash of illicit prescription drugs they had expected to find. They had the luxury of tossing the home at leisure without worrying about being interrupted by the police -- on account of the fact that they were the police.

William Cooper, a 69-year-old retiree who suffered from the familiar variety of afflictions attendant to age, was startled awake on the morning of June 18 by two men who had barged into his home with their guns drawn and ready. Since he lived in a neighborhood in which home invasions (of the non-State-sanctioned variety) were commonplace, Cooper slept with a loaded handgun on his nightstand. He made an entirely proper but regrettably ineffective use of that weapon in an effort to repel the intruders, and was gunned down in his bedroom.

The police raid was triggered by an unsubstantiated tip from a still-anonymous informant that the NASA retiree -- who walked with a cane and, according to his neighbors, never seemed to have any visitors -- was illegally selling prescription drugs from his home.
And here is the kicker:
The "Asset Forfeiture Addendum" to the PNETF's most recent "Memorandum of Understanding" specifies that "TASK FORCE investigations should result in the seizure of forfeitable assets." It is also expected that the plunder will be distributed "in a fair and equitable manner," with a little more than one-third going to the city governments of Hampton and Newport News, a little less than a fifth going to the State Police, and the rest being lavished on the "Peninsula Association of Commonwealth Attorney's Association" (redundancy in the original). At least some of the boodle would be used to cultivate other informants, as well.
Was there some kind of due process for confiscating this man's stuff? Of course not. This is the Drug War and they don't need any goddamned due process. The citizen needs due process to get his stuff back. Fortunately for the robbers Mr. Cooper will not be contesting the seizure.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Scandal Hit

I don't keep up with British tabloids the way I used to (except for Page 3 I never kept up the way I used to when I used to). Still, I was highly amused by this bit of verbiage about Brit tabloids.

Glenn Mulcaire says Tuesday he was under "constant demand for results" when he worked at the scandal-hit News of the World tabloid.
But News of the World is also a scandal hit. It is how they sell papers.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Bikini Edition 4 July 2011

I have been doing a bikini edition for the last three or four years. It has been fun. But every year most of the swim suit ladies are the same. And last year some other blogs picked up on the idea. So if you need a babes in patriotic bikinis fix there are plenty out there. Or you can click on my sidebar link to visit previous editions. So this is probably my last edition. It is not as much fun as it used to be. In honor of my prediction that Sara Palin will announce on July 4th I'm presenting NOT Sarah Palin in a bikini.

This is NOT Sarah Palin in a bikini.

Neither is this

This IS Sarah Palin in a swimsuit.

Happy 4th of July. On this day in history Americans officially got a new government. Now if we could only get a smaller one. I'm working on it. Care to join?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Confirmation With A Leftist Bias

I have written a few articles about the real estate debacle and how it came to be. Basically the government took over the mortgage LOAN business. Banks and other financial institutions still ORIGINATED mortgages but they no longer put up the money for the loans. That was the job of a couple of Government Sponsored Enterprises(GSEs). Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as they are colloquially known.

It is all explained by some New York Times authors in Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon. The leftist bias? They are New Your Times authors. Thus they are at least nominally arguing against interest.

This customer review nails it (and repeats what I have been saying - it was a government job).

Morgenson and Rosner have done their homework and written an in depth and hard-hitting book that reveals with perfect clarity how this mess began. It's refreshing to read a book that doesn't rehash the Wall Street stories we've all heard over and over. I'm much more interested at this point in the characters in Washington who were championing home ownership and enriching themselves as they set the stage for disaster, and who really have remained blameless up to now. The sense of outrage the authors feel comes through on every page and the book is actually a page-turner in addition to being a real narrative, unlike some of the other books on the crisis, with a beginning and an end. Great storytelling and great reporting as well. Read it!!!
I'm looking forward to a time when Chris Dodd and Barney Frank become standard American villians with a reputation similar to what Joe McCarthy and his "witch hunts" once had. McCarthyism!!! Frankism? Doddism? We are going to need a snappier name.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Misunderstanding Libertarians

Reason Magazine takes a look at a Salon article that interviewed some Reason editors.
Well, you guys wrote your book in the shadow of the Great Recession, but the book never actually addresses how the recession happened in the first place. And critics of libertarianism often cite the different actors in the subprime mortgage crisis, arguing that they took advantage of an unregulated system to consolidate power, and took advantage of a lack of understanding amongst consumers to sell them products that they didn't fully understand.

MW: It's a big question, so I'll just take on little bits of it. One is the notion that the financial crisis was caused by deregulation... The central libertarian argument about what to do in the wake of a financial crisis is let the people who made these terrible decisions go bankrupt. And when appropriate -- and do it early and often -- send the motherfuckers to jail, you know?
How about we start with Franklin Raines and Daniel Mudd? A couple of the motherfuckers involved who really could use some jail time.

Friday, July 01, 2011

I Have Nothing To Say

So I'm not saying it. Maybe tomorrow.