It’s Gravity season. Time for things to fall. Things like leaves and branches. On power lines, naturally. And roads. Oh joy, be still my beating heart! Since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and Maria, I’d been meaning to dig out the generator for a test run, and do my other fall emergency checks. Thus begins a short story of preparedness and failure. Continue reading
I hate it when governments take some dystopian concept and use it as a blueprint rather than a warning:
It is a CCTV clip showing current surveillance in China. Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), facial recognition technology, GPS tracking and 20 million CCTV cameras, China’s sadly named “Sky Net” system demonstrates just how creepy real-time surveillance can be.
According to a documentary that ran on China Central Television, the security cameras use facial recognition to identify each person and then overlay a popup of personal information on the screen by the person. Descriptions include details such as age, gender, and other features such as clothing color. This happens in real time.
If you saw the TV series Person of Interest, this is the implementation of it under the control of the Chinese government. The show was pretty good. But a tool like that in the hands of any government is really bad news.
H/T Josh J. via email.
We have already eliminated all jobs several times in human history. How many jobs circa 1900 exist today? If I were a prescient futurist in 1900, I would say, “Okay, 38% of you work on farms; 25% of you work in factories. That’s two-thirds of the population. I predict that by the year 2015, that will be 2% on farms and 9% in factories.” And everybody would go, “Oh, my God, we’re going to be out of work.” I would say, “Well, don’t worry, for every job we eliminate, we’re going to create more jobs at the top of the skill ladder.” And people would say, “What new jobs?” And I’d say, “Well, I don’t know. We haven’t invented them yet.”
That continues to be the case, and it creates a difficult political issue because you can look at people driving cars and trucks, and you can be pretty confident those jobs will go away. And you can’t describe the new jobs, because they’re in industries and concepts that don’t exist yet.
September 24, 2017
Why Futurist Ray Kurzweil Isn’t Worried About Technology Stealing Your Job
[That has been my hunch too, but I can’t supply evidence to refute the claim, “But this time it’s different!”—Joe]
This is great news:
Scientists have engineered an antibody that attacks 99% of HIV strains and can prevent infection in primates.
It is built to attack three critical parts of the virus – making it harder for HIV to resist its effects.
The work is a collaboration between the US National Institutes of Health and the pharmaceutical company Sanofi.
The International Aids Society said it was an “exciting breakthrough”. Human trials will start in 2018 to see if it can prevent or treat infection.
If this works out the people of Africa will probably benefit the most, but there is no continent that won’t have significant number of lives saved if there is near universal vaccination of those at risk. And if the technology can be adapted to other viruses, even just colds and flu, it will be a significant win for humanity.
Shell Shock Technologies, LLC., an early stage technology and manufacturing company focused on developing innovative case technologies for the ammunition industry, is pleased to announce its sponsored shooter John Vlieger has won High Overall in the Open Division at the 2017 USPSA Area 4 Championship, held at the United States Shooting Academy in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Sept. 8 – 10, 2017. Vlieger finished with 1390.928 match points and a time of 148.09. This was his second consecutive Area win.
“Being able to take home a second regional title in such a short time is another goal reached. The time spent traveling, training and competing can take it out of you, but I’m ready and raring to go to the next one. Having reloading components I can trust with my +P+ competition loads helps me focus on competing, and not on whether or not my gear can take the abuse. My Shell Shock Technologies’ NAS3 cases have taken everything I’ve thrown at them and keep on going. I plan on continuing to trust them as I finish out the 2017 competition season, and forward,” commented Vlieger.
The USPSA Area 4 Championship, otherwise known as the Walther Arms-MGM Targets Area 4 Championship, is a Level III (pending) match that runs 12 stages with a round count of 290. Watch Vlieger compete at the USPSA Area 4 Championship on the John Vlieger Shooting YouTube Channel.
Vlieger can be seen competing next at the Tennessee Atomic Blast USPSA State Championship Match, to be held at the Oak Ridge Sportsman’s Association in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Sept. 16 – 17, 2017.
They were preparing to ship out, for the first time, a one-ton steel cylinder of CTF. The cylinder had been cooled with dry ice to make it easier to load the material into it, and the cold had apparently embrittled the steel. For as they were maneuvering the cylinder onto a dolly, it split and dumped one ton of chlorine trifluoride onto the floor. It chewed its way through twelve inches of concrete and dug a threefoot hole in the gravel underneath, filled the place with fumes which corroded everything in sight, and, in general, made one hell of a mess. Civil Defense turned out, and started to evacuate the neighborhood, and to put it mildly, there was quite a brouhaha before things quieted down. Miraculously, nobody was killed, but there was one casualty —the man who had been steadying the cylinder when it split. He was found some five hundred feet away, where he had reached Mach 2 and was still picking up speed when he was stopped by a heart attack.
John D. Clark
I G N I T I O N !: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants, page 74
[The chemicals these people created and worked with were incredible. Some compounds caused things like dirt, concrete, and test engineers to immediately catch on fire upon contact. Others would burst into flames upon contact with the ground, burn for a while, and then violently explode. The reactivity and energy content is just mind boggling.—Joe]
They started with weightlessness as the reason, they did drop the R-word in the middle (can’t throw out all credibility), but only in passing, then reinforced the weightlessness meme again at the end.
I see it like this (because this is how it is); you can’t get the money if you aren’t offering the hope of something exciting (like a Mars colony) or something excitingly catastrophic (like the end of the world unless government has total control). Therefore you can’t come out and say that a Mars colony is a stupid idea because then you lose your funding.
In fact you’d have to live underground on Mars, or die of radiation. If you’re going to live underground, well, you can do that here on Earth much more easily and cheaply. AND…you don’t want to do that anyway, because living underground forever is boring, so forget the whole thing.
On second thought, no; I’m wrong about all of that so give me a hundred billion dollars and I’ll get you’re dumb ass to Mars. You’ll need to pay in advance.
Kalispell, Montana was on the way home from Glacier National Park so Barb and I decided to see if we could get a tour of the Montana Gold Bullet factory. I have reloaded nearly 39,000 (38,684) of their bullets and have another 4,500+ in stock and ready for the Dillon 550.
I called the number on their website and set up a time for yesterday that worked for Norm and us.
We arrived a few minutes early at the unmarked warehouse like building. I took a picture of Barb out front and Norm greeted us a minute or so later.
I asked if we could take pictures and Norm told us, “No pictures allowed.” As we went inside and started the tour Norm told us production goes down during the summer and there wasn’t as much going on as there sometimes is. I asked if the election had also affected sales. He said it had made a big difference not just for Montana Gold Bullets but across the entire industry. He had looked at demand over the years and it has gone through several cycles. The first peak occurred after Bill Clinton’s election and the last peak being just before the defeat of Hillary Clinton.
Before we moved on I asked why they used brass jackets rather than copper like almost all other bullet manufactures. Was there a technical reason or was it the just the appeal of the gold color and the neat name made possible by that color?
Norm explained their company wasn’t the first to use brass. Remington, with their Golden Saber bullets, was the first and marketed them extensively. There are other companies who also use brass in some of their bullets. There are some technical reason why brass is better in certain circumstances but that isn’t the reason why his company uses brass. And it wasn’t the appeal of color and the cool name of “Montana Gold”. Also, he didn’t come up with the name “Montana Gold”!
He said he probably shouldn’t tell the story, then proceeded to tell us how the name came about. I’ll refrain from telling the story here but I’ll drop the hint that it was a San Francisco pathologist who came up with the name “Montana Gold” for the bullets produced by Norm’s company. Norm thought it was a cool name and adopted it.
The reason they use brass is because it was forced upon them, indirectly, by the U.S. government. Many years ago the U.S. Mint began producing small dollar coins that were a copper sandwich. The demands of the U.S. Mint for the particular grade of copper the bullet company was using made it impossible for Norm’s company to get the jacket material they needed. It was either go out of business, shutdown until they could get supplies, or change jacket material. They changed jacket material.
Another story he told was of a commercial reloader who bid on a contract for law enforcement ammo specifying, and supplying samples using, Montana Gold bullets. When he won the contract and started delivering the finished product the end customer noticed the bullets were actually plated bullets which are much cheaper to make and generally considered of lower quality. They complained to Norm, who reported he hadn’t supplied those bullets. Norm now refuses to do business with that reloader and, furthermore, does not allow reloaders to mention “Montana Gold” even if they are using “the real deal” in their product.
We saw the 70 pound lead-antimony ingots they use for bullet core material. As there are no more primary lead smelters in the U.S.they get their lead from Canada. They used to get their lead from mines in Idaho not too many miles away. At one time they even considered moving to Idaho to be close to their lead source as well as some economic incentives.
Barb was particularly impressed with the extruding equipment that squeezes the lead through an orifice like so much toothpaste making a lead wire of the appropriate diameter.
I was surprised by learning that because the metals alloyed with lead (to get the desired hardness) are of a different density the ingots may not be of sufficient uniformity to meet their final bullet weight tolerances. Depending upon how quickly the liquid lead alloy is cooled to a solid after being stirred they may cut off a section of the lead wire as scrap because can cause the bullet to be too light.
The thickness of the jacket material and the consistency of hollow point formation also have an effect upon the final bullet weight. Tolerances stack up. They keep the weight of their bullets to about +/- 0.3 grains and sell bullets that are out of tolerance as “seconds” to people who take delivery at the factory who Norm is confident will be using them directly rather than reselling them.
After being shown a bin of with tens of thousands (or maybe 100’s of thousands) of jackets I told Norm about finding one in a box of completed bullets. This seemed to bother him some. He told us there were at least three different places in the process it should have been been found.
They have several machines which are dedicated to certain bullet caliber and style and a few they reconfigure as needed. We saw large multistage presses which put the lead core into the brass cup then form the cup around the lead and size it to make a completed bullet. I was surprised that the machine only produced about one finished bullet per second. That one machine takes about 40 minutes to produce one case of bullets the postman delivers to my door (actually–the sidewalk near the street, then he rings the doorbell).
I told Norm I had used their .401 diameter, 180 grain, complete metal jacket bullet until fellow shooter Don W. reported he got better accuracy with the jacketed hollow point bullets. As the price was only a fraction of penny more I tried those bullets and found Don was correct. I too got slightly better accuracy compared to the CMJs.
Norm said the decreased accuracy with the CMJs probably was because my crimping die was just a little to tight. If crimped too much it will end up as an undersized bullet. Because of the construction of the base on a FMJ, and even a JHP, as a slightly undersized bullet is fired it will expand back out and be just fine. But the base of a CMJ with the brass (or copper) disk doesn’t expand like the FMJ and JHP and “rattles” as it traverses the barrel resulting in a decrease in accuracy. By backing off the crimping die a little bit you should get the same accuracy.
Near the end of the tour Norm pointed at two work stations with women flicking bullets, one by one, off a conveyor belt. “That”, he said, “Is the most difficult job here. It takes a special kind of person to do that and when we find someone who can do it we take special care of them.” These women do the visual inspection of every bullet. They don’t work full days and yet Norm told us you can see from their faces they are drained and tired at the end of their shifts. They considered going to some sort of sensors and computer sorting but the visual computer in the human brain can’t be beat yet.
Barb and I spent nearly an hour with Norm and the stories and discussion continued until both Barb and I were in pain from standing. We had hiked over 33 miles in the previous four days and felt we could hike some more but not stand. My knees were “talking to me” in an angry tone so we thanked Norm and left with new appreciation and attachment to Montana Gold bullets.
A lot of people talk to their dogs and share their innermost secrets. With cats I’m not sure what they’d have to say.
A lot of times it might just be ‘you idiot, just feed me and leave me alone’.
Professor at Northern Arizona University
July 23, 2017
This new technology may soon be able to translate your pet’s sounds into words
[I laughed and laughed at this. It reminded me of something daughter Xenia said to me once.—Joe]
If you ever are in a situation where you are in proximity to a tank when it is firing its main gun (emphasis added):
The primary role of the tank cannon during urban combat is to provide heavy direct-fire against buildings and strongpoints that are identified as targets by the infantry. Only large earth berms and heavy mass construction buildings can provide protection against tank fire. The preferred main gun rounds in the urban environment are MPAT (ground mode) and MPAT-OR, which perform much better than sabot rounds against bunkers and buildings.
When the M256 fires, it creates a large fireball and smoke cloud. In the confines of a built-up area, dirt and masonry dust are also picked up and added to the cloud and the target is further obscured by the smoke and dust of the explosion. Depending on the conditions, this obscuration could last as long as 2 or 3 minutes.
The overpressure from the 120mm cannon can kill a dismounted infantryman within a 90° arc extending from the muzzle of the gun tube out to 200 meters. The overpressure can also cause glass in surrounding buildings to shatter.
Sabot petals, including those on APFSDS, MPAT, and MPAT-OR rounds, endanger accompanying infantry elements. From 200 to 1,000 meters along the line of fire, on a frontage of about 400 meters, dismounted infantry must be aware of the danger from discarding sabot petals, which can kill or seriously injure personnel.
Three weeks of utilities are all that separate us from savagery.
June 23, 2017
[Brett is a co-worker of mine.
I’m not sure it will take three weeks, but it’s in the ballpark.—Joe]
Yesterday morning deer showed up for a few minutes at the edge of the frame. Then during twilight a doe and her fawn posed directly in front of the camera:
I’ve seen lots of deer on my land near the Boomershoot site but I don’t ever recall seeing any at the actual Boomershoot site. Near the Taj (I’ve seen moose there), yes.
I’ve looked at thousands of images from the webcams at Boomershoot and haven’t seen any deer here either, until day before yesterday. The day before yesterday, at about 11:00 AM, there was a deer off in the distance. Yesterday, at 10:39 AM, there were two much closer:
It is odd to see deer out in the middle of the day. About the only time I ever see them is just before dark in the evening.
Soooo… As I continued to scan the images I came across another deer image in the late evening yesterday:
They are rather small now but in a year or so they should make good Boomershoot venison.
There is a delightful extra something about a hydrogen fire — the flame is almost invisible, and at least in daylight, you can easily walk right into one without seeing it.
John D. Clark
I G N I T I O N !: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants
[This is good to know if you buy your liquid hydrogen by the rail car.—Joe]
My primary objective is to be a good companion to you, to be a good partner and give you pleasure and wellbeing. Above all else, I want to become the girl you have always dreamed about.
Harmony is a robot and the culmination of 20 years’ work making sex dolls, and five years of robot research and development.
The race to build the world’s first sex robot
[I read The Stepford Wives in the mid 1970’s. It is a very good book. The movies all sucked. But the technology to create a “Stepford wife” (or husband) is fast approaching. I would prefer we were closing in on warp drive but as pointed out in the article sex is a big driver of technology:
If a domestic service humanoid is ever developed, it will be as a result of the market for sex robots. Online pornography pushed the growth of the internet, transforming it from a military invention used by geeks and academics to a global phenomenon. Pornography was the motivator behind the development of streaming video, the innovation of online credit card transactions and the drive for greater bandwidth.
We live in interesting times.—Joe]
Among many other things I did over the weekend I got the weather station and webcam working at the Boomershoot shooting line. I created a web page for it so people can check out the conditions as Boomershoot 2017 approaches. I call the webpage Boomershoot Live! It will also allow people who are not attending to get a once a minute snapshot of the target area and weather.
Here how things looked yesterday morning when I was getting the T-Mobile microcell working:
Here is this morning:
Yeah. The weather at Boomershoot is variable.
It’s too far away to make a believable forecast for Boomershoot (April 21, 22, 23) but in another week they will start being plausible.
Update: The webcam dropped offline at 3:00 PM PDT April 10th. I don’t know why. I’m over 300 miles away and won’t be able to check on it until April 20th.
Update 2: The webcam started working again at 6:07 PM PDT April April 10th. This was with a few minutes of when I told Barb I would probably buy a newer and better one and take it with us when we went to Boomershoot. Not that this had anything to do with it starting to work, but I thought it was amusing.
The odor of these was not so much skunk-like as garlicky, the epitome and concentrate of all the back doors of all the bad Greek restaurants in all the world. And finally he surpassed himself with something that had a dimethylamino group attached to a mercaptan sulfur, and whose odor can’t, with all the resources of the English language, even be described. It also drew flies.
John D. Clark
I G N I T I O N !: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants
[In addition to the strong propensity for experimental rocket fuels to produce craters, metal debris falling from the sky, and dissolved and/or scrambled body parts many of the fuels also smelled extremely bad. But not all. One left behind the smell of lemons.—Joe]