Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pic of the Day

Ukrainian Air Force IL-76 at Refuelling Station Nord during Operation Northern Falcon 2014 in Greenland.

When I first saw this picture, I wondered what such a big airplane was doing on the beach because that big, shiny expanse behind it looked like water, and then I realized that's it all ice, and we aren't on the beach. Shoot, there is no beach in Nord. Because of the ice you can only get a ship there once every five or ten years. 

Coding Fun

I found a website with some coding problems to play with. When I finished and submitted the first one, it replied with this wonderful message

This image is a cropped screen shot.The full text reads:
This assessment is composed of 1 questions. The estimated time to answer is around 788400 minutes, but it may last up to 1576800 minutes. Please set aside up to 1576800 consecutive minutes to answer.
1,576,800 is three years. I think there is an error in their program somewhere.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Pic of the Day

DIEGO GARCIA, British Indian Ocean Territory, April 16, 2014. Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia. U.S. Navy photo by Hank Gettys.

Something about the color in this picture does not look quite right. I don't know whether someone has mucked with it or whether that's just the way things look in Diego Garcia. Maybe being down on the equator, a thousand miles away from any other land, does something to the light.

Puffington Host

Every once in a while I find a well written article on the The Huffington Post, usually because of a link someone else provided. On the other hand, the Huff-Po gets a lot of flack from some sectors, we won't say who.
   The other day I was at loose ends, so I thought would take a look at the Huff-Po and see if there was anything interesting going on. Good lord, what a lot of drivel, it's like one step above Facebook. It might be on the same level as the Parade magazine that comes with your Sunday paper. Every once in a while Parade has something that interests me, but if I miss an issue I am not particularly concerned. Huff-Po is at least a couple of steps to the left of Parade. From what I saw the other day I am surprised I have ever found anything worth reading over there.


MRAP on the left, non-MRAP on the right. 
Kabul, Afghanistan, February 2014. (AP Photos/Rahmat Gul)

Last Summer there was a news report that said the DoD (Department of Defense) was grinding up old MRAPs into scrap, which seemed like kind of a boneheaded idea. Now it seems like there are lots of people who would like to have them, but I think they are pretty much a bunch of fools, much like wanna-be gang-bangers hanging out in their Cadillac Escalades that are parked by the curb because they can't afford the gas to drive them anywhere.

MRAPs epitomize our boneheaded approach to this war-on-terror debacle: whatever the threat is, or whatever its form, we respond with more firepower, more armor, more guns. I dunno, but I suspect that Afghanistan isn't any better off now than it was ten years ago when we first sent troops over there. I'm not going to try and speculate whether the USA is any better off or not. Perhaps the Taliban were content to have somebody to fight in their own neck of the woods. Why bother going all the way to North America? We can kill all the infidels we want, right here on our doorstep. Allah Akbar!

It only takes few people and a few pounds of material to create a vast amount of destruction that will kill hundreds of people, as we have seen time and again in other parts of the world (is it okay to call them third world hell-holes?). That we haven't seen widespread terrorist attacks all across the USA tells me we are doing something right. I don't know what that right thing might be, it's pretty hard to tell when the news is so full of things are so obviously NOT the right thing.

Whatever. The people in power, that is, the people with money, have an agenda, or a plan, or, I dunno, maybe all they have is the direction they are facing, and they are charging on regardless. The rest of us are just along for the ride, so you may as well get comfortable.

MRAPs are nuts. They weigh 15 tons and can carry a payload of maybe two tons. For comparison, an normal, freight carrying semi-truck, like one you see on the roads of America everyday weigh 20 tons (empty) and can carry a 20 ton payload. From what I've read it seems that we have built around 10,000 MRAPs at a cost of around one million dollars each, give or take a few hundred thousand. That's like 1% of the total cost of our Afghanistan Adventure [tm]. First there's:
  • your basic trucky-ness in the drivetrain,
  • the custom body work,
  • the umpteen thousands of pounds of armor and don't forget
  • the whole government contracting paperwork headache.
That get's you a vehicle, but then you have to equip it with the military grade communications system and weapons, which probably cost as much as the rest of the truck put together.

According to Wikipedia, there are only two steel companies that are qualified to supply the steel armor for these vehicles, and one of them is Oregon Steel Mills, which is presumably in Oregon, which should make me happy, except this is the first I have heard of them making armor. It's also very weird that we have a steel mill at all. As far as I know we don't have any coal mines or even any iron ore mines, which are the usual prerequisites to having a steel industry. Oregon is also home to Precision Cast Parts, who specializes in making metal bits for the military, and they have been going great guns lately, which is good. It means the rich are getting richer, er, they provide lots of people with good paying jobs.

Anyway, we've spent all this money and all this time and now our big adventure is coming to a close and the guys in charge of all the MRAPs are wondering what to do with them. Since we seem to be on the outs with Pakistan (which is not necessarily a bad thing), we can't drive them to a port to be loaded on boats and shipped home. We can load them on jet cargo aircraft and fly them home, but that costs $150,000 a unit, and do you really want to spend that much money on something that will be completely useless in North America? We could "give" them to our "friends", if we could figure out who are friends were, and which friends would accept a gift from the USA, gifts that always entail obligations. Even if we figure that out, would the machines actually be of any use to them? Would they even want to keep them fed with fuel? Or would they just keep them parked by out front to impress the natives?

I imagine an enterprising man could cut the armor off on an MRAP and turn it into a useful truck, something I am sure they could use over there. You might get ten cents on the dollar, which would be pretty good for military surplus.

Quote of the Day

"... in the distance, a toad farted ominously."  - Spider Robinson.

Stolen from Roberta X, who is coping.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Today's Bible Lesson - Figs

Mark 11

12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.

Jeremiah 29

15 You may say, “The Lord has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the Lord says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your fellow citizens who did not go with you into exile— 17 yes, this is what the Lord Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten.

Matthew 21

18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.

20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.

21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.