Monday, October 17, 2016


The Accountant

I saw The Accountant on Sunday afternoon with all the other old people. It was OK. Only a little actual accounting and a lot of shooting and killing by other means.

Have to say that Ben Affleck playing a high functioning autistic guy was really not that difficult for him as an actor. In fact, his character seemed a lot like Ben Affleck in all his roles recently.


Thursday, October 13, 2016


Instantly Recognizable Sounds

Here is a partial list of sources of sounds that, once you hear them, you don't or can't forget them and you recognize them right away when you hear them again. Some are good sounds and some are not.

A baseball hit for a home run.

A human cranium hit by a police baton with force.

Large ocean waves crashing onto a beach.

A dental drill encountering tooth enamel.

A bullet striking flesh.

A woman really enjoying sex.

The blades of a helicopter in flight.

A pump shotgun cycling the fired round out and the live round in.

The needle of a record player skating over the tops of the grooves in the record.

Shoveled dirt hitting the top of a casket at the bottom of a standard grave.

There certainly are others.



White Privilege

 I believe there indeed is a thing called "White Privilege" here in America and in Europe. I just use a different word for it than privilege.

I call it achievement.


Saturday, October 08, 2016


Ed Harris' Gun In Westworld on HBO

Although not every watcher is in love with the new HBO series Westworld, based on a bad 70s movie and a fair book by Michael Crichton, I like it a lot. Anything about the scope of artificial intelligence is good for me. It also has guns. I like that too.

So, let's talk about Ed Harris' gun. I have to use the actor's name because his character has none; and Man in Black sounds stupid to me.

He carries a LeMat revolver, a modern remake of the 1850s design. His gun takes .44 centerfire cartridges and has 9 in the cylinder. It also has a 20 gauge shotgun round (or maybe a sweet 16) in a central smoothbore barrel around which the cylinder revolves. Originally, these all were loaded from the front with gunpowder and shot or bullets with a primer cap at each of the closed ends. That probably took some time. The modern Italian made LeMats still have the nipples on the cylinder for the percussion caps. Why not make the one Harris uses?

Harris takes his gun apart to reload it, which is a little weird. I know it has a port for loading the .44 rounds and a flip away 'hatch' to reload the shotgun round, so maybe taking it apart is the best way after all.

It was a formidable weapon at the time, with 3 more rounds than usual and the shotgun center surprise. Confederate generals Braxton Bragg, P.G.T. Beauregard (who helped his cousin develop it), J.E.B. Stuart and Richard Anderson used one. The Confederacy Museum in Richmond has the guns used by Stuart and Beauregard. LeMats have become more popular in books and movies lately.

It is a good choice for the super-predator Harris character. Of course, if no one can effectively shoot back, shooting the robots one by one is certainly no heroic stand against odds and probably not that much fun. I'm waiting for a guest to take the guy on. It would be difficult to cross draw* this big, heavy weapon quickly.

Could guests even shoot other guests? Is Harris a guest or a robot that effectively mimics guest status? I bet we find out.

* Harris is right handed but he wears his holster back to front on his left hip and thus he has to cross over his body to draw the weapon. Most the other gunfighters in the show draw straight up and out from their holster worn on their right hip. They would generally be faster than anyone using the cross-draw rig.

UPDATE: I watched the episode again and the cylinder on the LeMat Harris uses is smooth. It does not have any percussion cap nipples like the gun in the photo above. So it is up to date by 20th Century standards. Make that gun for $800 or so and a lot of people would line up to buy it, I bet.


Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Seeing the Bright Side, Again

If the country disintegrates and the federal government goes belly up at least the NSA would have a way to make money after the disintegration. I even have a name for the new endeavor:

NSA Computer Back-Up Systems

and a tag line:

We Have Everything

So, there's that.


Tuesday, October 04, 2016


Blessings in Disguise

Here is the latest track/estimate of the path of Hurricane Matthew. It looks most probable that it will graze the East Coast. That's bad, right?

Here is the latest Palmer Drought Index for the US. Look at the East Coast drought pattern. So, a lot of rain right up the coast (and a couple of hundred miles inland) might not be the worst thing for the drought areas, after all.


Thursday, September 29, 2016


Dazzle Camo

For most of the four millennia surrounding the birth of Christ, fighting men around the World wore bright colored uniforms, but that ended about the time of the Boer War. The Brits took off the red tunics with crossed white equipment straps and put on khaki. The Germans had earlier put some elite troops in green. The real change came during WWII and it was spearheaded, like most innovations in war, by the Germans. They put on camouflage uniforms designed not to be seen -- as long as one stayed perfectly still. And the German innovators in camouflage looked at nature for inspiration in what to color their uniforms and equipment. Now all the World follows that lead. That's natural camo. But there are other kinds.

We won't talk about clown camo because it's not worthy of discussion.

But there is a thing called dazzle camouflage. It's not designed to hide what is "wearing" the camouflage but to make it difficult to focus on. Dazzle camo is also inspired by nature as you can see in the photo of zebras above. Here are some marine dazzle camo from WWI, the heyday of this form of camouflage, although some ships in WWII received similar paint jobs.

Nobody is sure if it worked or not and no one paints ships in dazzle camo anymore. The zebras have kept with it though.


Wednesday, September 28, 2016


In Fact It's Cold As Hell

Elon Musk, the visionary, apparently is tired of building sparky cars and wants to send lots of humans to Mars where their early demise is almost certain. He wants to start doing it in 6 years. Talk about trying to run before you can crawl.

Here are some reasons not to send a lot of people to Mars anytime soon.

  1. Mars is about 48 million miles farther away from the Sun than Earth. You do the calculation based on the inverse square law.
  2. Mars has no appreciable oxygen or nitrogen; in fact, it doesn't really have much of an atmosphere at all.
  3. Mars has no soil in which to grow things.
  4. Mars has no usable water except near the poles where it's even colder than hell. It's so cold there that dry ice, frozen CO2, forms nearly year round.
  5. Mars has so weak a magnetic field that it is constantly bombarded by harmful radiation.
  6. Anyone on Mars would have to live in a very small, closed environment for thousands of generations and such a colony would necessarily suffer the inevitable loss of size, smarts, vigor and ability that plagues all small island populations here on Earth.
  7. The lesser gravity on Mars will be deleterious to human health.
  8. The smallest diameter of crushed rock on Mars would be so fine that it would get into everything, including human lungs, despite the colonists' best efforts.
  9. There is no life on Mars because life such as that which exists on Earth is not possible there.
  10. It's hugely expensive even to send a few on a one way trip there.

So by all means, let's get behind Musk's idea to colonize Mars.

How about we go get some asteroids and bring them back to high orbit around Earth first? See how life inside a rotating asteroid goes before we start shipping humans off to slow dreary death on Mars.


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