Intel's Ronler Acres Plant


Silicon Forest

Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Girl, The Gun, and The Motorcycle

The Girl, The Gun, and The Motorcycle - Premiere Trick Shot - Kirsten Joy Weiss

This is just a little nuts. At least she isn't trying to drive and shoot at the same time. Still, being able to hit anything from a moving vehicle is a bit of a trick.

Friday, October 9, 2015

What are the odds?

When I lived in Ohio I used to watch cop shows on TV. These shows invariably included a high-speed cross town car chase. They were great fun to watch, but because we didn't hear about such things on the news I kind of figured they didn't happen very often. Okay, maybe there was one a few years ago, and all the TV shows have used that one event as an excuse to include a chase in their show. Then I moved to Phoenix where the cops had a high-speed cross town car chase every week, if not every day.

Joselyn Alejandra NiƱo holding an M4 assault rifle. She was known as "La Flaca", or "Skinny Girl", and was an assassin working for the Ciclones, a Mexican drug cartel. She was killed in 2015 by a rival gang.
     Many action movies feature a cold blooded assassin. Once again I used to think that all these stories were based on one event. Then I started paying attention to the news, and while there may not be very many assassins killing people with precision using high-powered, take apart rifles, killing for business or political reasons is going on every day.

     Defibrillators have become somewhat common. They are being deployed like fire extinguishers. I wondered about the value of doing this. I mean, these things are kind of expensive, and is anyone's life ever saved by these things? I had never heard of it happening until my cousin told me about it happening at a group campout a couple of weeks ago. They were sitting around the fire after dinner and one guy just keeled over. Another fellow who worked for the U.S. Forest Service got the defibrillator out of his Forest Service truck, applied it, and save Mr. Keeled-over's life.
    So given my previous experience with extreme events, I am now willing to concede that deploying defibrillators like fire extinguishers might be a good idea.

Hip Joint

Iaman had surgery a couple of weeks ago to replace one of his hip joints with an artificial one. The surgery went well and he went home the next day.
    Hip joint surgery is a big deal. It's major surgery. Any time you go in for surgery there is a risk that you are not going to come out of it. Doctors have a pretty good idea of what they are doing, but people are complicated and it's entirely possible that something weird will happen and they won't be able to cope with it. The odds of something bad happening are pretty low, but they are not zero.
    My father had trouble with his artificial hip. He went in the hospital and spent the next six months in there or in rehab before he passed away. He was old.
    My father-in-law went in for surgery to replace one of his hip joints a couple of years ago. He survived the surgery fine, but then he lapsed into a coma for a week or so. They suspect he had a small stroke. He woke up and seems to be mostly there, but he has trouble walking, so he's in rehab. He's about the same age as my father was.
    All this is to show that Iaman's going in for surgery was fraught with terror, kind of like taking your first flight in a plane. Everyone tells you it's safe but there was that news report last week about the plane that fell out of the sky and everyone on board died. What if the same thing happens to your flight? I mean it might.

    Iaman survived and went home and he's flying high until the anesthetic wears off a couple of days later. By now he's started taking morphine so he's feeling no pain. A few days later he steps down to Oxycodone. He lives in a retirement community and he knows several people there who have had the same operation and they tell him things like the recovery was no big deal. They quit the Oxy after a couple of days and were just taking Tylenol. They're big fat liars. That might be the way the remember it, but that's because they were high on Oxy.
    After a few days of Oxy, Iaman tries cutting back. It doesn't work so well. He's supposed to take a pill every six hours. If he skips one, 30 mintues later everyone knows he's skpped his pill. Grimacing, he relents and takes his medicine.
    This surgery has about the same impact on your body as if somebody broke your leg with an ax. It's gonna hurt, and it's gonna hurt bad for a while. That's why the doc gave him a case of narcotics the week before. He's gonna need them.

Alexander Graham Bell


one of his students at his school for the deaf. Mabel was the daughter of 

Gardiner was a bigshot who supported Graham in his experiments with voice transmission. 
Gardiner made an enemy of 

President of Western Union, the telegraph company.  Gardiner and Orton got crosswise when Gardiner filed an anti-trust suit aimed at Western Union. So you can see that Orton would not want to have anything to do with Graham and his telephone. Instead he bought into 

Gray also had a telephone patent. He was one of the founders of Western Electric, the telephone equipment manufacturer.
The two sides fought it out in the courts and Graham eventually prevailed.

All this was inspired by a post on Wondermark. David Malki's focus is more on how ideas are kicked around, but the relationships between the various parties is what got my attention.

Quote of the Day

The moral of this story is that smart people must keep a strict watch on who runs for president because human nature cannot be trusted. Before Hitler, Germany was a semi-civilized nation in which Jews flourished and no one imagined any need for Jewish self defense. Then came an election with a madman running for chancellor and the true German human nature's blood thirst achieved success. Thus followed: war, mass death, mass incarcerations of the civilized citizens, and roundup of gays, Jews, gypsies, and others. It was only in the Warsaw ghetto that Jews finally realized what the German state was all about and began to arm themselves. Naturally, it was too late. In 2000, the United States elected a "compassionate conservative" liar who pushed this nation into near ruin, having pulled the wool over our eyes, just exactly like Hitler did with Germans. The current crop of Republican candidates for president all attempt to organize or stimulate discontent among the great unwashed, just exactly like Hitler did in 1933. Guns have nothing to do with it. - Lee Coleman
I found this on Facebook in reply to someone else's post. I wouldn't say it is exactly true, but there is a thread here that bears watching.

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Destruction, from Thomas Cole's The Course of Empire (1833-36)
Talking to Dennis at lunch yesterday and he's telling me about a Science Fiction story he read where there are a handful of competent people who are holding society together. The President is an incompetent buffoon, but the people love him, so he goes on TV and talks to the people. Whenever there is a real problem, one of the competent people is tapped to deal with it. It's like this everywhere. Most people can handle their regular day-to-day chores, but anytime there is a problem, they need a competent person to come and put their finger in the dike. Actually, it sounds more like a documentary about modern life.
       Somehow this put me in mind of a giant heap of stuff that is on the verge of collapse, and it would if their weren't a bunch of worker bees in there shoring things up. The system is so unstable that even with the dedicated efforts of the acolytes it could still collapse. It wouldn't take much to set it off. If some of the competent people decide it's not worth it and walk off the job our whole society could slide into chaos.
       Reminds me of the Walk Home Drunk game. You try to keep your balance. If you are especially attentive and really quick, you can get quite a ways, but eventually you are going to miss and you will fall.
     Perhaps all this balancing and propping up is only suppressing a bubble of chaos that is constantly growing, and regardless of how hard you try to keep things stable, eventually the chaos bubble gets too big and just bursts out and the whole thing collapses into a pile of rubble.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015



Excerpted from Anathem by Neal Stephenson, Pages 513-515.
. . . “In any case, he [Sark] recognized us in the street. He told us that a lone avout was being pursued by a mob. We saw it as an emergence.”
For a moment I thought he was slipping into broken Fluccish, trying to pronounce emergency. Then I remembered some of the Vale-lore that Lio had drummed into me over the years.
During the time of the Reconstitution, literally in the Year 0, when the sites of the first new maths were being surveyed so that the cornerstones of their Clocks and Mynsters could be laid down, a team of freshly sworn-in avout had journeyed to a remote place in the desert to begin such a project, only to find themselves under siege by mistrustful locals. For the place they’d been sent was covered with jumpweed plantations and they had stumbled upon a shack where the weed was being boiled down to make a concentrated, illegal drug. The avout were unarmed. They had been pulled together from all over the world and so had little in common with one another; most of them didn't even speak Orth. But it so happened that several of them were students of an ancient school of martial arts, which back in those days had no connection with the mathic world, even if it had been developed in monastic settings. Anyway, they had never used their skills outside of a gym, but they now found themselves thrust into a position where they had to take action. Some of their number were killed. Some of the martial artists performed well, others froze up and did no better than those who'd had no training at all. That sort of situation became known as an emergence. A few of the survivors went on to found the Ringing Vale math. According to Lio, they spent almost as much time thinking about the concept of emergence as they did in physical training—the idea being that all the training in the world was of no use, maybe even worse than useless, if you did not know when to use it, and knowing when to use it was a lot harder than it sounded, because sometimes, if you waited too long to go into action, it was too late, and other times, if you did it too early, you only made matters worse.
“The most salient feature of the enemy was its thoughtless aggression,” Fraa Osa said. He reached into air and closed his hand as though grasping the wrist of an attacker who'd tried to punch him. It was an eloquent gesture, which was convenient for me, since Fraa Osa did not seem inclined to say more than that about the strategy they had used. “You reckoned, as long as they are in such a mood, let's really give them something to be aggressive about,” I said, trying to draw him out a little more.
. . . “Well, anyway, it worked,” I said. “The mob turned against you—you staged a false retreat and drew them into a trap—then you made them panic.” More smiling and nodding. Fraa Osa simply was in no mood to wax eloquent about any of this. “And how long did you have in which to devise this plan?” I asked him.
“Not long enough.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“There is no time in an emergence to think up plans. Much less to communicate them. Instead I told the others that we would emulate Lord Frode's cavalry at Second Rushy Flats, when they drew out Prince Terazyn's squadron. Except that the canal edge would substitute for the Tall Canes and that little square would take the place of Bloody Breaks. As you can see it does not take very much time to say these words.”
I nodded as if I had some idea what he was talking about—which I didn't. I couldn't even guess which war he was alluding to, in what millennium.

Because I read this section the same day that Tam put up this post. It just took a few days to munge stuff around to make a post out of it.