There’s a Ph.D. in this

A link sent to me by a friend served as a reminder that there is a culture war raging in this country.

Over a particular breed of dog called the “pit bull.”

Supporters of the breed are called “apologists” or “pit nutters.” Not quite the same rhetoric is directed against anti-pit-nutters like this crackpot, but that’s the nature of culture wars.

This “war” has all the elements. Lower classes create the problem. Middle classes worry that it might “spread” to their neighborhoods and kill their children. Upper class hipsters own the same dogs that are seen as causing the problem and howl in protest. Libertarians inveigh against government heavy-handedness while communitarians fret about “the children.” Liberals and conservatives tend to want government solutions for different (but often disturbingly compatible) reasons. And of course, gruesome images live on forever on the Internet.

Reminds me of gun control and the drug war.

As to my own view, it’s admittedly quite personal. Anyone who wants to kill my dog is my enemy.

(That’s how wars start, doh!)


Faster, Please

As they say.

Finally: lab on a chip, coming to Walgreens. A few dollars for lipid panel, a few dozen for fertility test, one-day turnaround. Wow. Hope we get one here soon.

P.S. Bill Ardolino still owes me some respiroctyes (seriously, why are we all living three minutes from brain death? it’s insanity)

UPDATE: Apparently I’m behind the curve on this one. But I have confirmed my email address and will be notified when the Singularity arrives locally.


“Workplace violence”

As Simon reminded me, the Oklahoma beheading is being spun by our media overlords as anything bit terrorism.

So forget about this headline:

Oklahoma Beheader Linked to Al Qaeda Leader Awlaki, Boston Bomber’s Mosque

And NEVER MIND this picture of the “disgruntled employee.”

Of course, it could be argued that Osama bin Laden was a disgruntled employee, but never mind that! We’re just supposed to accept the risks of being beheaded. Naturally we are also supposed to be disarmed, too. That way, a guy carrying nothing more than a knife can just have his way with our collective necks.


Stretch out your necks!

Be sure to make it as easy as possible for the beheaders, lest you be seen as guilty of discrimination.

(This country has gotten so lame it’s no wonder things like this are happening.)


Beheading In Oklahoma

I just found out about it from Ulsterman. The “gentleman” doing the carving was a recent convert to Islam. And of course the usual suspects have chimed in.

No evidence Oklahoma beheading linked to terrorism – MSNBC. Well of course it is not linked to terrorism. It is terrorism. What they mean I think is that there is no link to Islam. Other than the guy doing the chopping was a recent convert to the Religion of Peace™.

Just remember – that except for Syria and the Islamic State and Al Qaeda and a few other groups too numerous to mention, we are not at war with Islam. They are at war with us. And your chances of getting your head chopped off are small if you don’t frequent the Middle East. Or Oklahoma.


Crimes against water

Earlier I learned that the new mandatory flow restrictors that are now in all sink faucets make certain faucets leak. Like the American Standard faucet in my bathroom, which I thought I would have to replace because it leaked inside the assembly.

When the faucet is off, all is well. Turn the faucet on at low rate and I get small, sporadic amounts of water coming down through the center hole (following along the pop-up pull and dropping to form a puddle). Turn it on at a higher rate and the same sporadic leak is present but the puddle forms quicker.

Almost like the faucet can’t handle the flow rate and is leaking extra water inside the faucet which has no where to go but down through that center hole? I don’t know enough about how faucets operate to know if that’s a plausible explanation.

Thought I had a bad faucet so bought a 2nd one (different brand) with same results.

While the plumbers knew that the aerator was creating water pressure that the cheap-ass faucets can’t handle, the real problem turned out to be the flow restrictor:

I read the comment that it might be a defective faucet, but I did not believe that.

I finally found the problem: The aerator is poorly designed (if designed at all). It lets the water flow in through a very small hole (about a tenth of an inch in diameter). If you have any sedements or scale enter the hole, it makes the problem even worse. The effect of this tiny hole is that water pressure inside the faucet, even when the water is turned on, is high and about the same as in the water line; it should be much less. This high pressure inside is what caused the small leak. This is simple hydraulics which the designer of the aerator ignored.

I threw away the lousy aerator, and voila! The problem was solved!

I am a retired civil engineer and I still remember basic hydraulics.

Leave it to a retired engineer to figure out a problem caused by government bureaucrats in cahoots with greedy MBAs.

I pried the silly flow restrictor out with a sharp point, and now everything works fine and doesn’t leak. I was ready to replace the whole faucet (which is a piece of shit anyway)  but now I don’t.

American Standard. A once fine American company ruined by environmentalists, MBAs, and outsourcing.Bastards all! They are ruining the building industry, the trades, and the country.

They’ve even got plumbers arguing over whether their duty is to help customers, or make them save water!

Plumbers are the protectors of the water supply.

Gag. What a sanctimonious horse’s ass. Bet he belongs to a government union.

If people are using too much water, why not simply charge them more? If water is a scarce resource and it is being “wasted,” then it is certainly fair to make heavier users pay more. But this silly one-size-fits-all thinking is what has led to flow restrictors, which only decrease efficiency and make people use more water or leave it on longer. Or (as the WSJ documented) simply remove the damned things so they can take a normal shower.

Those who take baths have no such problem. They simply wait till the tub is full. I’m surprised there isn’t a movement to criminalize bathtubs.


‘Tis treason to disagree!

To R.F.K, Jr, “treason” means disagreeing with him on Anthropogenic Global Warming:

Blissfully unaware of how hot the irony burned, Robert Kennedy Jr. yesterday took to a public protest to rail avidly in favor of censorship. The United States government, Kennedy lamented in an interview with Climate Depot, is not permitted by law to “punish” or to imprison those who disagree with him — and this, he proposed, is a problem of existential proportions. Were he to have his way, Kennedy admitted, he would cheer the prosecution of a host of “treasonous” figures — among them a number of unspecified “politicians”; those bêtes noires of the global Left, Kansas’s own Koch Brothers; “the oil industry and the Republican echo chamber”; and, for good measure, anybody else whose estimation of the threat posed by fossil fuels has provoked them into “selling out the public trust.” Those who contend that global warming “does not exist,” Kennedy claimed, are guilty of “a criminal offense — and they ought to be serving time for it.”

Fascinating. I would have thought the man was at least educated enough to know that the Constitution of the United States defines treason, but maybe he thinks that since the Constitution doesn’t mean anything, “treason” is anything he wants it to be.

To be fair, though, his thinking is in line with a well known medieval concept which died out in the West, but is still quite in the Middle East:

Those who contend that God does not exist are guilty of a criminal offense.

You’d think Global Warming was the new God.


First, they came for the drug dealers…

The owner of a Chinese restaurant in San Francisco is having a tough time with sanctimonious customers:

The owner of a San Francisco Chinese restaurant has temporarily closed his doors with an abrupt notice due to what he calls ‘hard to please’ customers.

Owner and chef James Chu put a sign on his door stating: ‘We’re closed because of you customers. Yes, we use MSG! We don’t believe in organic food. And we don’t give a f*** about gluten-free.’

The owner of So Restaurant said he was becoming increasingly annoyed with customers who were unsatisfied with his food. 

Apparently, the customers think that they have a right to go into a restaurant, eat the food, and then not pay for it once they find out it contained MSG. Or wasn’t “organic”:

Chu says the final straw, which led him to temporarily close last week, happened when a patron refused to pay because he did not enjoy the meal.

He told ABC 7: ‘The second guy came up to me and said, ‘The rule is, if we don’t like it we don’t have to pay.’

‘And as he walked out he started cursing at me and that’s when I went poof,’ said Chu.

Another patron would not pay their bill because their food turned out to be ‘too spicy.’

I like the owner’s spirit of defiance. And I like his sign!


Elsewhere on the food war front, a high school student has been suspended for — get this — selling illicit Pepsi:

…his drug of choice is full-sugar Pepsi. Commerce in the sweet, sweet drink is banned at his school, which allows only diet sodas to be sold on premises.

This case of capitalism gone awry started small in Grade 9:

The Grade 12 student, who realized only diet pop was being sold in the cafeteria, made the short trek to a local grocery store to pick up a case of Pepsi.

“I decided if I wanted a pop, maybe others do, too,” he said.

Shaw brought it back to Churchill, and within 20 minutes, sold every can of pop.

“From an entrepreneurial perspective, he said, ‘Wait a second, I just paid $5 for a case of pop and got $12 back,’” said his mother, Alyssa Shaw-Letourneau, whose son sold the pop for $1 a can. “From a business perspective, it’s smart.”

Shaw says he’ll abandon his soda sales rather than risk expulsion.

If more people acted defiantly, the busybodies would have a tougher time.


How gladiatorial can a garden be?

I don’t know whether there are any botanists who read this blog, but I have a question.

Does anyone know what happens in a war between Salpichroa organifolia and Carpobrotus chilensis? Both are said to be invasive in the sense that they take over and crowd out other species. But here the invaders are pitted against each other.


Any idea who will win? Salpichroa (long established and all but impossible to eradicate) is characterized by a massive, hellish underground rhizome root system that strangles other plants, while Carpobrotus (aka ice plant) eventually forms dense surface mats. (Which makes the latter far easier to eradicate.)

I’m hoping that Carpobrotus will eventually win out (because I love ice plants, and I am not alone), but there’s really no way to know for sure until the “war” is over.

I especially love the plant because of an utterly amazing recent discovery. I had read about Carpobrotus being a traditional African remedy for things like burns and sore throat, and I know it is safe to eat. (The Latin name means “edible fruit.”) A longtime canker sore sufferer, I recently had an outbreak, with THREE of them in my upper and lower lips. Plus, I had never eaten the stuff.

So, the other night, I grabbed a two inch spike and started chewing on it. Instantly, my mouth felt as it it was being dried out, and filled with a very strange, bitter astringent taste. I chewed it for a while and spat it out because it wasn’t exactly yummy, but my mouth was completely dry, and took a few minutes to return to normal. The next morning all three canker sores were completely gone! Never had anything worked so well or so fast. Googling ice plants+canker+sores turned up nothing, the same with Carpobotus+canker+sores. But Carprobrotus+aphthous (the medical term) did turn up one link — to a Traditional African Medicine site. It is a treatment for:

aphthous ulcer; cheilosis; glossitis; mucocoele; parotitis; salivary calculus; stomatitis; thrush

Wow. I have no knowledge about its efficacy for the rest of the conditions, but never in my life have I experienced such rapid and effective relief from something that typically drags on for over a week.

I can’t believe that more people don’t know about this. Seriously! I am in a state of total amazement.

And if it weren’t for my recent research into (even love affair with) the plant, I would never have thought to try it.

The dental community direly needs to know about this.


Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory?

For a little while, it was beginning to seem that the Republicans had a chance of retaking the Senate. Not now.

Nick Gillespie has an interesting analysis of what has happened, and offers the GOP some advice:

Memo to Republicans: If you are perceived as very similar to the Democrats, just more awful when it comes to gender and race, you’re not going to flourish. Your odds of pulling in independents and libertarians who are tired of massive government intrusion on all aspects of our lives would skyrocket if you laid out a governing strategy that accords with what you say you’re all about.

I don’t expect them to listen.


Communist Crony Capitalists

China has made the leap from N Korean-style basket case communism to banana republic crony-kleptocracy, and we should all applaud the fact that liberation has lifted several hundred million people out of grinding poverty and into middle incomes.

But is the Party over?

If you think we saw bad things out of China this week, brace yourselves. It’s going to get worse.
So expect defaults, expect credit events, expect strong companies to survive in this environment and weak companies to get wiped out.
In fact, as you can see in the Morgan Stanley table below, it’s already started.

China optimists like Scott Sumner (I have a bet with Scott on whether Mexican PPP GDP per capita will still exceed China’s by 2038) will point to figures showing state investment is declining, but I suspect a graph of “technically not state-owned, but substantially owned by officials of the armed forces or Party” would paint a less rosy picture.

China is still very poor and has enormous opportunities for economic growth, but this is what happens when capital is expended without enough market guidance — the incentives for the Communist Party are to keep their oligarchic power whatever the cost to growth. China is not developing a free press or inclusive democratic institutions, and without them, at some point they must inevitably run into a zero-growth wall. Is that time now?


“Kids will not eat what doesn’t taste good”

It may come as a shock to those who hold Masters degrees in Public Health and want to micromanage our lives, but it is turning out that Michelle Obama’s federal food guidelines are backfiring:

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – New federal school food regulations promoted by First Lady Michelle Obama are becoming a massive headache for many schools that participate in the National School Lunch Program.

And many, like Missouri’s Notre Dame Regional and Saxony Lutheran high schools, are taking matters into their own hands.

Those schools and numerous others across the country are ditching the federal regulations and the funding that comes with them to save their cafeteria programs, which have experienced a nose-dive in sales and skyrocketing waste since the new rules were implemented in 2012.

At Notre Dame, school officials turned to the professionals at My Daddy’s Cheesecake, Papa John’s, Tractors Classic American Grill and Chick-fil-A to bring in nutritious and tasty meals students enjoy for “restaurant Wednesdays,” reports.

Notre Dame’s lunch participation had dropped to about half of its 565 students and 65 faculty members under the federal guidelines, but jumped drastically to about 75 percent once officials did away with the tight restrictions on calories, fat, sodium,  whole grains, and numerous other aspects of school meals.

This is all so predictable. It has led parents to opt out any way they can, like sending the kids to school with microwavable meals, or (gasp!) taking the kids to McDonalds:

“We want to make sure we’re serving a well-rounded, healthy, balanced meal,” Saxony principal Mark Ruark told “We don’t think the current federal guidelines give kids enough calories to sustain (them), especially those in extracurricular activities.”

“Kids will not eat what doesn’t taste good,” he said.

That’s the same conclusion parents and school officials in Alabama are coming to.

At Cleburne County Schools, where lunch participation dropped by 29 percent under Michelle O’s rules, Maria Gilbert said her children will no longer eat school food. Her 11th grader says it’s “nasty” and has opted to bring microwave food from home, at least until the school removed the appliance from the cafeteria. Gilbert said she’s often forced to find a quick meal for her famished kids after school, reports.

“The drive-through at McDonald’s is always full after school as Gilbert and other parents stop to feed their hungry children on the way home, she said,” according to the news site.

I’m surprised the school bureaucrats don’t sic CPS on the parents for taking the kids to McDonalds. That’s certainly the way they think. If you have kids, they have authority over them, not you.

And to think that certain conservatives wonder why young men don’t want to “man up” and become fathers. (Too many men have realized that if you have a kid, you are screwed.)



What Have I Been Up To?

I2C Stepper Motor L6474 16Sept2014 - Layout Picture
As you may have noted my postings have been a bit sporadic of late. It is because I have been designing a Stepper Motor Controller. Good for table top machining and 3D printers. I wrote the main elements of the software about 10 years ago to run a Bridgeport Milling machine. To work with modern computers the design needed a hardware update. So I have been updating the hardware. What is interesting about the design is that each motor has its own microprocessor so if you design a tool that needs 5 axis control or even 8 axis control – no problem. With very minor tweaks to the software all the motors will step along in perfect (as near perfect as you can get digitally) synchronism. As long as your longest step is under 2 billion. That is about 1/2 a mile at our finest step resolution and with steps of .00025 inches (what table top CNC machines typically can do). Just to give you an idea – our smallest step size is about 1 wavelength of yellow light. Now the step accuracy of such table top machines is only good to about 2 wavelengths of yellow light at those step rates so your table top machines will not be carving out mirrors for your amateur telescope needs. But they will make very smooth cuts at those machining rates. And if you want to run a Bridgeport? Well I have a design in mind for higher power stepper motors. Let me know.


Windmills Are Killing Europe

It turns out that Miguel de Cervantes, writing about Don Quixote was prescient. The Don was titling at windmills out of what was then thought to be imaginary fears. It turns out the fears are all too real.

European Union leaders announced they will be consolidating energy and environmental goals under a new commissioner, effectively axing the intergovernmental groups’ climate arm as green policies are making it harder for citizens to pay their power bills. “The EU is signalling a historical shift away from its green priority towards a new focus on economic recovery, competitiveness and energy cost,” Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “This policy shift has been in the making for the last two years, but only now has Europe new leaders who are no longer obsessed with climate change,” said Peiser, who is based in the UK.

Well OK. But it gets even more ironic.

The nomination of Miguel Arias Cañete for the position of Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy has been roundly criticised. The Greens and environmental NGOs see Cañete as an illogical choice and have reacted furiously to his nomination. In France, The Greens have suggested that Cañete might be the worst possible choice for the climate. The fact that Alenka Bratusek, Vice-President of the Commission, in charge of the Energy Union as well as the Climate Action and Energy position, clearly demonstrates that energy will be a higher priority than climate over the next five years.

Take that you evil windmills. Now if only we had a government willing to take a go at them here in the US. It will take a while. The cronies need the capital.


Bacon is a religious issue!


Apparently so.

I always thought bacon was a food implicating little more than what a person might like (or not like) to eat, but what do I know?

I also thought sexual tastes were that, too.


Can You Believe It?

The home of the religion of peace, Saudi Arabia, is rounding up unbelievers.

Islamist police in Saudi Arabia have stormed a Christian prayer meeting and arrested its entire congregation, including women and children, and confiscated their bibles, it has been reported.

The raid was the latest incident of a swingeing crackdown on religious minorities in Saudi Arabia by the country’s hard-line Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice.

The 28 Christians were said to be worshipping at the home of an Indian national in the eastern city of Khafji, when the police entered the building and took them into custody. They have not been seen or heard from since, raising concerns among human rights groups as to their whereabouts

Now lets see. Are the Saudis Wahhabists or Salafists? In any case this all lends credence to the anti-ISIS call by the Saudi government. According to the New York Times.

Saudi Arabia has agreed to an American request to provide a base to train moderate Syrian opposition fighters, American officials said on Wednesday.

“We now have the commitment from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be a full partner in this effort — the train-and-equip program — to host that program,” said a senior Obama administration official, who added that discussions were underway to determine the specific site and other details.

Well that is just outstanding. I wonder what the Saudi motives really are. And these so called moderates in Syria. Just how moderate can they be if the Saudis are backing them?

I get the distinct feeling on some days that our government is lying to us. Most other days I believe they are not telling the truth.


It Has Nothing To Do With Islam

The Islamic State that is. According to our misesteemed Secretary of State, John fn Kerry. The Voice of America (which America?) has it.

Kerry said Islamic State jihadists claim to be fighting on behalf of Islam, but said the group’s activities have nothing to do with Islam. He said, “Its message of hate is rejected” by the majority of Muslims around the world.

Shouldn’t some one inform Mr. Kerry that Hamas hasn’t gotten the message?

Hamas published a “Covenant” of 36 articles on August 18, 1988, that details its aims and ideology precisely. Its philosophy is rooted in the totalitarianism and radical anti-Semitism that has undergirded Islamism since its rise in the 1930s and 1940s. Far from moderating its core ideology, Hamas’ seizure of power in 2007 gave it the opportunity to make policy based on its guiding goal—namely, the destruction the state of Israel.1 But even though the Covenant is the declaration of intent of a group now governing millions of people, it goes unnoticed by reporters, editors, and pundits who race to comment on Hamas’ war with Israel.

And how about the Wahhabis (rulers of Saudi Arabia) vs the Salafists (the Islamic State people). According to the wiki they are the same people.

For more discussion head over to Samizdata which got me started on the topic of our idiot leaders. The title of the discussion? Are these people stupid or do they think other people are?


Two groups I admire

Few things horrify me more than people who do as they are told. (Well, maybe the people who tell people what to do, but they wouldn’t have any power if they were ignored.)

So, there are two groups of stubborn humans whom I especially admire.

1) Smokers; and

2) Dog owners who refuse to castrate their male dogs.

Regardless of what anyone thinks about these behaviors, the fact that there are people who do them despite overwhelming pressure not to kind of renews my faith.





Some things must never be forgotten.


Hey, at least I tried

This is really hard.

I spent much of the day trying, but I’m just not coordinated enough to really make it work well. By the time I get the thing hovering, it runs out of juice to keep it up.

(I guess the same could be said about many of us, haha.)

MORE: Fortunately for me, Runty the dog does not attack my “drone.” For whatever reason, he sees it as a sort of friend.

I envy today’s youth. It took me hours of repeated crashing before I started to get the hang of flying that thing. The hardest part was making the damned video, because it takes two hands to operate the controller sticks on the transmitter, and another to operate the camera! I still don’t know how I managed to do it.


Police Militarization

We militarized the police to fight a war on those people.

The hearing, convened to probe “police militarization” in the wake of the police response to protests in Ferguson, Mo., focused on three federal programs designed to help local police departments respond to drug crime and terrorist attacks. Lawmakers and witnesses suggested that programs have run amok, haphazardly doling out military equipment that has transformed some local police into paramilitary forces.

Is the government going to ask for its equipment back?