Sunday, July 22, 2018

The President, the Federal Reserve, and Raising Interest Rates

For the entire life of this blog, which goes back to the second year of the Obamanation, I've been hammering on the Fed and their monetary policies.  The Federal Reserve Bank and all central banks are the worst bit of central planning that the entire world has fallen for and I believe they're not just unnecessary they're damaging.  The only things they add to the financial world are all the things wrong with the financial world: destructive levels of debt, countries engaged in constant currency manipulations to try to get an advantage over each other, the creation of money out of nothing, money as debt rather than asset, the destruction of the information channel in monetary transactions.   Everything that's wrong with the world's economies goes back to central banks.  

If you don't see what I'm saying, I can't summarize much more here.  Just use the search bar in the upper left and search on terms like Ben Bernanke, or "Bernank" as I often called him, Janet Yellen, quantitative easing (QE), interest rates, the Fed, or any other related term.  Or just go to the bottom of the right column where the list of labels appears, click on Economics and get all 458 posts so far.  Be prepared to spend days.

So where am I going tonight?  You might have heard that president Trump criticized the Fed for raising interest rates.  He says the Fed is working at cross purposes to his economic program.
In an interview published on CNBC, Trump said he wasn’t thrilled with the Fed’s rate hikes — despite calling Jerome Powell, whom he picked to replace Janet Yellen, a “good man” — and said he didn’t care that he was breaking a precedent under which presidents do not comment on the Fed so as to safeguard its independence.

“So somebody would say, ‘Oh, maybe you shouldn’t say that as president. I couldn’t care less what they say, because my views haven’t changed,” Trump said.
The media, predictably, is getting the story completely wrong, focusing on Trump's statement being political pressure on the Fed.  Fed head Powell has said he’s not concerned about political pressure from the administration. Instead, Powell responded with this knee-slapper:
In an interview with the public-radio program “Marketplace,” Powell said “the Fed has a long tradition of conducting policy independent of all political concerns.”
The Fed is “independent of all political concerns”?  Don't make me laugh.  Central banking is inherently a centrally controlled economy (by controlling what's arguably the most important information in the economy: the cost of money) and that's essentially leftist.  Everything they do is big government control.  They may think they're independent, but they inevitably help any president who's in office when the economy goes into downturn with their interventions to end the downturn, and hurt any president who's in office when the economy is booming with their interventions to slow down the growth.  Their enabling of deficit spending helps all elected officials over the unelected.  Just as now their fear of Trump's tax cuts "overheating the economy" is inherently biased against his free market-based solutions and toward central control of money. 

After the '08 crash, the Fed created trillions of dollars in an attempt to stimulate spending.  Other central banks around the world did the same, with smaller totals in dollars.  The fact that it took the economy almost eight years to recover leaves us to speculate if they really helped or hurt.  Perhaps they just lined the pockets of a few well-connected bankers.  The problem with all those trillions out in the world is that they don't have to be stuck in bank vaults; they can be spent and that will tend to devalue those dollars; that is, cause inflation.   I've been advocating for the Fed raising interest rates back closer to normal, historical means for years.  That will impact government spending as the amount spent on interest returns to historical averages, percentage-wise.  It leaves less to spend on other programs.

Yes, Mr. President, the Fed is at cross purposes to your programs.  Quite frankly, they think they know better than you.  For some reason, probably the inflation of the 70s which followed the final elimination of the gold standard, the Fed seems to fear middle class wages going up more than any other indication they look at.  You ran for office saying that middle class working families haven't had an increase in standard of living in decades; the Federal reserve is the reason behind that.  Whenever wages go up, they raise interest rates to slow down spending.  With less spending, some jobs go away and there's less wage pressure.   

It would take enormously bold leadership, but hobbling the Fed's powers would help the nation.  During the transition, Trump advisor Dr. Judy Shelton was advocating we provide something like the Treasury Inflation Protected Security (TIPS) bonds which would be redeemable in either dollars or gold, effectively tying the two together without a formal gold standard.  That would be a good start.  This idea was actually first floated by Alan Greenspan in 1981!

It's also true as you say, Mr. President that other countries manipulate their currencies to try to get advantage over us (and others).  As Dr. Shelton also pointed out,  the proper monetary foundation for genuinely free trade has to be stable exchange rates. That way nobody can manipulate currency to get an advantage.  That means that we couldn't manipulate our exchange rates, and I believe the Fed's machinations are manipulating our currency.

There's a saying that "if you're going to dream, dream big" and that would be "End the Fed".  That would take a far more work, and if you think the intelligence services know how to screw over anyone that messes with them, imagine the Fed trying to demonstrate how important they are.  

Overview of the Federal funds target rate, through this March.  NY Times graphic.  What stands out to me is the over 30 year downward trend in the interest rate, and the prolonged period at essentially 0% (the notorious ZIRP - Zero Interest Rate Policy).

Saturday, July 21, 2018

A Little Shop Update

I haven't posted on the shop project for a while, because things have been a bit ... scattered. 

I had to do a maintenance/repair task.  One of my sheet rubber Y-axis covers had split along a place where it gets compressed - folded - when the table is all the way toward the Z column.  I bought a new sheet of rubber, this time 3/32 instead of 1/16, and then had to make a new sheet metal bar to fasten the rubber to the table because the OEM plastic piece was breaking.  Falling apart, actually.  You can't see it, but it's on the right, under the fold where the rubber goes downward at the table.

This took longer than it should have because of just one silly goof up after another. 

The main effort was to make the next part for the Duclos engine, the valve.  Duclos does a kind of funky arrangement where the valve just slides on the flat side of the cylinder I milled.  (Visible here)  The valve gets clamped to the side with a bent-up sheet metal spring.  He cuts a slot in the valve with slitting saw, but due to the small size of the part, uses a 1" diameter saw blade.  I don't have anything that small and it's so much smaller than the saw blade holder I have for the big mill, the teeth would be inside the holder.  Time to switch to the Sherline CNC mill.  That slitting saw holder is 1" diameter, but could be turned down 1/16 or so. 

My attempts to find a saw blade didn't go well.  The supplier he recommended doesn't exist anymore, and the company that bought them out had one blade that was $95.  For a single use?  I'll keep looking.  I eventually had to settle for a 1-1/4" blade a little thicker than he recommended from Travers Tool.  That took until Wednesday to get here. 

I cut the slot out yesterday, using my Rumblepad hand controller to advance the blade .001" at a time into the work.  110 button pushes, if you're interested.  I didn't count, I watched the Digital Readout of position in Mach3. 

After that all that was left was to turn a 1/2 x 15/16 x 1/4" thick piece of steel with a slot cut into it into a piece 1/32 thick with a section 1/16 wide and 1/8" tall that has the slot in it.  That was today. 

Some of you might not think of the Sherline for making things out of steel, but it's very good at fine work like this and steel isn't a problem.  I've cut titanium on it, it's just a matter of getting the "speeds and feeds" right - the depth of cut, speed of the spindle and inches per minute the cutter moves.  Unlike the bigger mill with its 1HP spindle, where I might have cut it in a couple of passes, the Sherline has about a 1/10HP spindle, so I cut it in .010" thick passes.  Which is why we have CNC, that doesn't get bored and lose count of where it is.  It just follows the code you write. 

There's a couple parts coming that are almost absurdly detailed.  Remember my flywheel?  There's a cam roller to be made that looks like that 3-3/8" diameter flywheel but will be 1/2" diameter.  Instead of 3/4" holes, it gets 3/32" holes.  A Sherline job for sure.  In fact, the rest of the engine until I get to the mounting plate may all be Sherline jobs.   It's all small, fiddly bits.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Peak of Civilization Day

H/T to Aesop at Raconteur Report for the name.  Unfortunately, it really was.  Today, men from the earth first set foot upon the moon.  And it was 49 years ago.  Borepatch called Apollo 11 the high water mark of the United States.  I think it was more than that; it was the high water mark of human civilization.  

I found this on Pinterest; it plainly says via 

One of my favorite rants I've ever done on the subject was "We Are the Counter Culture" back in July, 2015, which ends with a video that I never fail to laugh at.   

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Straw Jihad

Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, the Green Jihad of the Day is against plastic straws.

As always, it's hard to track down the history of something like this, but there have been arguments about plastic use, especially single use plastic items, for years.  If you're old enough, you'll remember when plastic grocery store bags were thought to be a wonderful answer to paper bags, and the only Proper answer to "paper or plastic?"  Now neither paper nor plastic is good enough, and you're required to reuse fabric bags that need to be washed and disinfected after each use so what you carried last time doesn't make you sick.  How much pollution does that cause?

In the last few months, several cities have announced bans on plastic straws: Seattle did, San Francisco is getting ready to Oakland, Malibu, and Miami Beach have already banned them, Santa Barbara just upped the ante by allowing jail time for violators.  Of course, it's not just the US, it's a global push.

Plastic straws exist because they fill a need and do it very well.  If you're old enough to remember when plastic grocery bags were wonderful, you might be old enough to remember paper straws that collapsed after you used them for a while.  If plastic straws didn't work well for their purpose, they wouldn't have become the virtually exclusive solution to the problem:  paper straws are more expensive than plastics and don't work as well.  Do we go over to stainless straws?  Not for hot beverages; they'll get heated and burn your lips.  Tempered glass straws? 

Just as you don't reduce total pollution by going to a hybrid or battery car, the Law of Unintended Consequences applies to plastic straws, too.  Perpetually aggrieved coffee store, Starbucks, was one of the first big companies to swear off plastic straws, saying they'll be gone by 2020.  Instead, they'll be selling coffee in what everyone calls a Sippy Cup.  There's just one problem: according to some work done by Reason, they'll be generating more plastic waste, not less.
Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.
This means customers are at best breaking even under Starbucks' strawless scheme, or they are adding between .32 and .88 grams to their plastic consumption per drink. Given that customers are going to use a mix of the larger and smaller nitro lids, Starbucks' plastic consumption is bound to increase, although it's anybody's guess as to how much.
The mythology of the plastic straw swirls around the myth of the floating garbage patch in the Pacific that's twice the size of Texas and the myth that plastic is eternal and doesn't biodegrade.  It has been reported that if one takes a boat there to look for the garbage patch, there's nothing - or very little - to be seen.  The same goes for a similar garbage patch said to be in the Atlantic,  There's something there, it's just that people expect to see floating debris looking like a landfill.  Instead, there's an increased concentration of partially degraded plastics particles that can be dredged up in a very fine (.013") mesh net.  The problem is that if you call it, "the extended patch with a higher density of partially biodegraded micro plastics", that just doesn't sound as important as calling it the Pacific Garbage Patch. 

The anti-plastic straw people came up with a photo that has gone viral of a sea turtle with a straw up its nose.  I mean, it's a turtle with a straw in it's nose!!  How much more important does that sound!?!  

If we're to reduce the plastics pollution in the ocean, it's not about straws and it most certainly is not about reducing plastic pollution out of the US.  According to Reason,
At most, straws account for about 2,000 tons of the 9 million tons of plastic that are estimated to enter the ocean each year, according to the Associated Press—.02 percent of all plastic waste. The pollution problem posed by straws looks even smaller when considering that the United States is responsible for about one percent of plastic waste entering the oceans, with straws being a smaller percentage still.
The vast majority of the plastic waste in the oceans comes from Asia: China (as the giant of the region) and other countries with waste disposal systems that are rudimentary compared to ours.  Truly addressing the problem of marine plastic pollution will require going after those sources: all the uncollected litter from poorer countries that don't have developed waste management systems.

The most surprising fact out of this whole mess is that virtually every source you can find will quote the number of "The US Uses 500 Millions Straws per Year".  Nobody knows if it's accurate or not.  And the source?  A 10 year old boy doing a science project seven years ago.
But what about that scary “500 million” figure that celebrities, politicians and news anchors constantly cite? It turns out that number came from a 10-year-old who, for a school project, telephoned some straw makers.

Because the boy is cute, the media put him on TV. Now the media, environmental activists and politicians (Is there a difference?) repeat “500 million straws used daily … many end up in oceans,” as if it were just fact. The real number is much lower.
I'd argue that someone could come up with a more accurate number, but as always when arguing with the greenies, facts don't matter.  If facts mattered, nobody would give a rat's patootie about plastic straws. 

The Starbucks sippy cup.  (Business Insider)

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Mid-Atlantic and NE Readers, Pay Attention This Hurricane Season

That's the message from meteorologist Joe Bastardi at WeatherBELL Analytics, relayed by Watts Up With That.  For the next few days, you can go to WeatherBELL's site, click on Premium and then the ‘Saturday Summary’ video to watch his complete forecast.  

We're not quite two months into the Atlantic hurricane season and it has been a bit of an odd one.  In May, before the formal start of the season, the first named storm of the year formed off the Yucatan on May 25.  Formally Subtropical Storm Alberto, it made landfall in the west Florida panhandle-Alabama border area as a moderate tropical storm and dissipated slightly thereafter but before the June 1st start of the season. 

Since then, we had a Hurricane Chris which formed off the coast of South Carolina and lingered for most of a week before heading NE out to sea, slightly after Beryl, which formed just east of the Antilles. Beryl was briefly a tropical storm, even more briefly a hurricane, then dissipated into an unorganized mess south of Puerto Rico.  The mess was then pushed into the same general vicinity where Chris formed, re-formed and was re-named Beryl, and then headed NE and dissipated yet again.  (Confused?)

Joe's main point is that sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic have dropped dramatically in the North Atlantic basin, as seen in this plot comparing 2015 to 2018 (both plots on the same date in the year).

The color code is simple: red, orange and yellow are warmer colors, green and blue are cooler colors.  White is neutral.  Like virtually all of these sorts of maps, these are plots of temperature anomalies; departures from some long term average so the red "above average" indication in Hudson Bay in 2015 is much colder than the blue "below average" near the Yucatan. 

The most vivid difference is the enormous absence of red and orange in the North Pacific and the El Nino in process in 2015 stretching across 3/4 of Pacific to the coast of South America (mostly Peru).  If you look at the arctic, you'll notice yellow and orange up there in 2015, while this year shows colder temperatures.  Another point Joe makes is that according to the Danish Meteorological Institute, the arctic temperatures have been below normal all summer.  But this piece is supposed to be about the Atlantic.

Returning to the Atlantic, then, there's a little orange in the Gulf of Mexico, more than in 2015, but much less orange off the SE than 2015.  You'll notice the Cape Verde waters off the west coast of Africa show orange in 2015 and blue this year - this doesn't seem to be a likely spot for hurricane formation if this stays.  The warmest places appear to be from the Delmarva Peninsula up through New England.  What Bastardi is concerned about is the area just east of North America, where cold and warm waters are close to each other.  From his comment to the article about his report on WUWT
I am pointing out the cold/warm configuration in the northwest Atlantic like that promotes higher than normal surface pressures as per the Euro seasonal idea over Southeast Canada into the north Atlantic, which is something I look for [to predict] landfalling, higher impact storms. What is vastly different is the Main development region from last, so not near as much production there.  But I think you will see and I point this out in the video ( please watch so I am not taken out of context) is what storms there are [become] more intense relative to averages further north than south. The current rotation of the MJO ( into strong 5 and 6) is not unlike 1981,1984,1989,1996.  Dennis, Diana, Hugo, Fran and Eduoard all had later season impact on the east coast. I showed on the video this morning how close the current pattern is with July 1960 (so much so I am concerned about a hybrid on the east coast this weekend ala Brenda July 27-30 1960) [Note:  some minor editing and formatting cleanup; most in square brackets - SiG]
If you've never watched Bastardi's hurricane forecasts, he's a big advocate of looking for certain big picture items, such as sea surface temperatures, the state of major oscillations in weather patterns (like ENSO, or the MJO), and the location of big semi-permanent pressure systems, then basing predictions on the kinds of weather that happened the last time the major features were the same.  It's the same philosophy as the observation that "history doesn't repeat, but it does rhyme". 

In his video, he specifically mentions appropriate historically horrific storms, calmly showing memorial plaques that can be found in northeast cities now talking about these storms.  He actually almost sounded like what I said about NY Governor Andrew Cuomo after Hurricane Sandy: the people who act like these storms are new things there are either stupid - they don't know the history of where they live - or they're evil; trying to extort money because somehow they'll fix climate change.  There's a handful of storms that he names that are models for the kind of storm he's concerned about. 

The problem with these storms, if I understand him, is that since the conditions for development are close to shore there will be little time for preparations.  They will spring up and be upon a city quickly or approach as a weak storm and explosively intensify.  A complicating factor is the geography: Chesapeake Bay, Long Island Sound, Raritan Bay and the mouth of the Hudson River; all these are places where wind driven water - the storm surge - piles up and gets worse.  The Great Gale of 1821 went up the same area that Sandy in 2012 did and was an astonishingly worse storm than Sandy.  The difference between them is that Sandy hit at peak high tide, on a full moon, the worst conditions possible for storm surge.  The "Great Gale of 1821" hit at low tide under a very different moon.  It can be calculated that the 11.2 feet of surge from the 1821 storm, if moved to the same tide and moon phase as Sandy, would have been 19.2 feet.  Sandy was 13.82 feet.   Or consider the 1938 "Long Island Express Hurricane".  If instead of sparing that area, it went over the mouth of the Hudson, you can imagine a storm surge of well over twenty feet surging up the Hudson River. That is practically a tsunami, and likely would reach Albany.

Of course, that's picking on New York.  The same sorts of things could happen in the Chesapeake Bay and wash out Baltimore or Delaware Bay and take out Philadelphia.  This is the kind of thing Joe Bastardi is concerned about and talks about in his video.    

Got preps?

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

A Radical Improvement in Electric Motors

Chances are, if you're like me, you've taken apart a motor at some point in your life.  I've thought every kid who had a slot car took apart a motor at least once.  At the least, you've probably seen inside a motor.  Either AC or DC as a broad brush idea doesn't matter, the coils of wire were likely wound something like this view of the stator (non-moving) portion of a motor.

Because of the way current and magnetic fields are always at right angles to each other, these are called radial flux motors.  The magnetic flux is perpendicular to the axis of the motor, pointing in or out radially to the motor.  Unless you work on the leading edge of motors, this is probably all you've ever seen. 

As is often the case, there's another approach to building motors that hasn't worked out as well in a practical sense in the past.  This alternative is called axial flux motors, and it's being advanced by a Belgian company called Magnax as covered in Machine Design news this week.  As the name implies, the magnetic flux is parallel to the axis of the motor.  Again, the concept isn't new, but there have been manufacturing cost and product design issues that have kept the approach in marginal roles in the market.  Magnax is saying they've improved on some of the known drawbacks to the method.  The axial flux approach, literally thinking at right angles to conventional motors, is leading to massive improvements in power density by reducing the size (and therefore weight) of the motors.
Magnax says the key to the high power density is its motors’ yokeless AF design with two rotors at each side of the machine. The yokeless AF motors have a shorter flux path, and permanent magnets are farther away from the axis, resulting in greater efficiency and leverage around the central axis.

Furthermore, thanks to the axial flux design, very little copper is wasted on overhanging loops on the windings. The motors have zero overhang; that is, 100% of the windings are active.
The motors are being targeted where the higher power density is the most sought after: electric vehicles; not just cars, but including motorized scooters and other mobility devices.  The same approach can be used in generators where they can reduce the weight of the generator in critical uses.  They're targeting wind turbines.  
According to the company, a 100-kW axial-flux permanent-magnet (AFPM) generator for a mid-size wind turbine offers the following benefits:
  • Increased efficiency (+96% efficiency, up to 97% for larger generators).
  • Reduced length (5X to 8X shorter than traditional wind-turbine drive trains).
  • Reduced mass (2X to 5X lighter than geared or traditional geared direct-drive generators).
  • Reduced resources requirement (½ to ⅓ of materials required vs. traditional RF direct-drive geneators, which also results in lower costs). [RF = radial flux.  SiG]
I think the head to head comparison to an electric car motor is rather dramatic.  Magnax compares one of their motors to the motor BMW puts in their I3 electric car.

Note the 4x advantage in power vs. weight, which comes directly from the weight reduction.  The smaller motor weighs less, offers more peak power and the same torque as the motor BMW is using. The motor isn't a big contributor to vehicle weight, but every pound taken off the vehicle weight helps the range.

One of the things that strikes me as cool is that their design is easily scalable, and easy to parallel for more power output.  Look at this comparison to another generator technology.   That's three of their identical generator "slices" paralleled to increase output. 

The MD article goes into lots of details on the comparison of radial flux (RF) to axial flux (AF) motors.  I've just barely excerpted highlights to whet your interest.

Monday, July 16, 2018

About That Young, New York City, Socialist Twit

About that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the celebrated socialist running in New York City.  The press makes it sound like she's somehow important; like the Democrat primary voters electing her over a better known candidate are some sort of vanguard of what's to come, and not the reaction of a group that's already lock step in line with Chairman Mao.

To begin with, her win wasn't the tiniest bit noteworthy.  I find the best summary I've read is from Divemedic at Confessions of a Street Pharmacist soon after the election:
A closer look at exactly how she won the Primary indicates that her win is less about a sea of change and more about voter apathy. She won just shy of 16,000 votes out of 27,000 cast, in a district with over 236,000 registered Democrats. That equates to a voter turnout of under 12 percent.
She won by about 11,000 votes out of 236,000 registered voters; that means not even 5% of the voters in the district voted for her.  Her margin of victory could have been wiped out if something like 30% of the district turned out to vote instead of the 11-1/2% that did.

Need I remind you this is New York City, a deep, sapphire blue city that elected communist Bill DeBlasio as mayor ?  Generally, the population voting in primaries will be different from the population voting in general elections; in general, primary voters are more toward the edges of their parties, not toward the center.   In this case, it seems Ms. Ocasio-Cortez actually showed up and campaigned while her opponent took his victory as given and lost because of his overconfidence. 

So what?  She hustled, showed some good, capitalistic, you-work-for-it-you-get-it spirit, right?  The problem is she's selling socialism; she's selling other people's work.  You don't have to go far to find she's an uniformed twit who lied about her humble history.  Her platform is free stuff for everyone: free college, free trade school, free socialized medicine, criminal justice reform, a "green new deal", the ever popular "commonsense gun reform", "equal rights for all" (whatever that means today), forgive all existing Federal Student Loans, guaranteed Federal jobs labor camps for all, and ... wait for it... Abolish ICE!  (I thought Miguel at Gun Free Zone had a good summary on what we'll get when we abolish ICE - don't go there if you have a delicate stomach).  She mouths the socialist mantra that "we're the richest country in the world".  Actually, we're not.  We're the most indebted country in the world in total debt: over $21 Trillion at the moment.  The only "wealth" we have is by maxing out our credit cards and paying them off with other credit cards.  We're the most indebted country in the history of the world.  And that's just what has already been borrowed. It says nothing about looming pension problems, medicare, or anything else.

You know the story: how much does this cost?  Where does the money come from?  In a time when we should be cutting spending and trying to reduce deficits, she wants to increase costs everywhere.  Don't bother asking her; you'll get no answers.  Well, you'll get people defending her saying "tax the wealthy", just as Venezuela, Cuba, Zimbabwe and so many other places have done before.

(excerpted as live tweets on The Blaze)

She followed this wisdom with the equally brilliant bumper sticker quote, "If we’re not courageous enough to push the needle forward, we will get taken backward."  Years ago, I worked with a guy who had saying for times when someone said something phenomenally illogical.  He'd say, "you just can't argue with logic like that".  It was good because the person didn't realize how stupid they sounded and would leave.  I came to prefer and use, "you can't out think someone who isn't thinking".   Either one goes well here.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Warning: Extreme Ham Radio Geekery Post

In my 42 years as a licensed ham, one of my constant interests has been the subject of propagation: how the signal gets from point to point.  Most of that interest has centered on the ionosphere and the HF through VHF spectrum.   I can't say I study it at any sort of academic level, just the practicalities of the topic.

The ionosphere is the part of the Earth’s atmosphere that has been ionised by radiation from the sun.  It stretches from about 27 to over 540 nautical miles above the Earth’s surface (commercial aircraft typically fly under a fifth of the lowest limit - 5-1/2 nautical miles) and is generally divided into layers which differ in their behavior.  At the altitude it exists, the density of the air has dropped so much that atmospheric molecules are far apart, and when hit by solar (mostly UV) radiation the gas molecules can lose one or more electrons, turning air into plasma.  Most importantly, it refracts radio waves, affecting radio communication around the world.  Ionospheric propagation varies day by day and season by season, but the High Frequency radio spectrum, from 3 to 30 MHz, is the only place in the entire electromagnetic spectrum where worldwide communication is routine without man-made infrastructure such as towers or radio relays.

I subscribe to the ARRL Propagation Bulletin, which is mailed out at the end of the work week by the American Radio Relay League and available on their website for non-members.  This week's bulletin had a link to a really interesting paper about a new discovery out of Sydney, Australia.  The research comes from a new Australian radio telescope,the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA).   The article, by senior research and lecturer Tara Murphy, describes how an undergraduate researcher, Cleo Loi, has confirmed the existence of something previously theorized: there are tubes of plasma drifting above the earth in the ionosphere. 

The story is worth reading.  In these days of rampant junk science and papers that can't be independently verified, it starts with a "that's funny" type of observation; a postdoctoral researcher from Curtin University, Natasha Hurley-Walker, was examining data from the MWA and came across a night that looked "funny".  Celestial objects were dancing around wildly, distorting strongly in shape and flickering in brightness. She flagged this night as one that the ionosphere had rendered unusable for our astronomy research.  Turning to Dr. Murphy:
Cleo then developed a way of visualising the distortions caused by the ionosphere on the images of distant background galaxies. She took the data Natasha had identified and applied her analysis to it.

When she showed me and other researchers the distortion maps she was generating, we were surprised to see huge waves of correlated motion rippling through the image. They looked like spokes radiating from a point outside the image.
Here we find a key contribution from the undergrad, Cleo Loi.  She transformed the reference frame of the coordinates of everything the MWA recorded from a celestial to an earth-based frame.  This immediately showed that the bands were hanging almost stationary in the Earth’s sky.

Some time later, after working through hundreds of emails of suggestions, Loi had another moment of great insight:
As she was preparing her honours thesis, Cleo had a geometrical insight into explaining the radial spoke-like pattern. She realised that a set of parallel lines viewed at an angle would appear to converge due to perspective distortion, like train tracks going into the distance.

However, without much knowledge of geophysics, it was several weeks until she made a second critical link: the layout of the spokes matched the Earth’s magnetic field. These strange tubular structures were tracing the magnetic field lines, which are parallel to one another but at an angle to the ground. The agreement was perfect.

(A visualization of the plasma tubes - very worthwhile video here).

Consultations with other, more experienced scientists ensued.
Finally, Fred Menk from the University of Newcastle suggested they might be “whistler ducts”. These are cylindrical structures aligned to a magnetic field, where the electron content is higher inside than outside. They are thought to guide the propagation of electromagnetic waves called “whistlers” in the same way that optic fibres guide light.

Whistler ducts had never been seen before, but all their properties deduced by scientists over the years matched what we were seeing with the MWA. Except for one thing: we didn’t know how high they were.
Again, a major contribution by Cleo Loi.
She realised that the MWA could be used stereoscopically to achieve 3D vision, like a giant pair of eyes. By splitting the data from the eastern and western receivers of the MWA, she revealed a slight parallax shift in the distortion pattern that let us triangulate the altitude: around 600km above the ground.

We were all astounded that this idea had worked, confirming that these were likely to be whistler ducts.
The only phenomenon that I'm familiar with which uses the term whistler is a type of VLF signal, (Very Low Frequency - 1 to 30 kHz) explained as lightning strike pulses being ducted to a different hemisphere. 

The visualization image (above) led me to think of transequatorial propagation at VHF.  It has been known among hams since the end of WWII that 10 and 6 meters (primarily) are more likely to open (allow contacts) on north/south transequatorial paths than paths oriented more east/west.  Is this how the transequatorial signals propagate, ducted by the plasma tubes, or is it totally unrelated?  I don't know, but it bears watching.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Very Odds and Ends

The other day after the NATO talks in Brussels, President Trump said something that I thought was remarkable.  In response to a question about Vladimir Putin, Trump said in essence that Putin isn't an enemy or a friend: he's a competitor.  Putin is trying to make Russia great and Trump is trying to make America great.

As a guy who has envisioned Putin in a "Make Russia Great Again" hat for years, this naturally resonated with me.  Maybe it takes a business leader to look at people as competitors instead of enemies; someone simply after the same goals of wealth and power, but looking out for themselves.  Putin may be a corrupt ex-KGB officer and he may be worse thug than any Mafia Don to deal with, but he unapologetically says the worst event in the 20th century was the collapse of the Soviet Empire.  He's trying to restore the Russian empire, which goes back centuries. 

I don't think I've heard such a rational statement from any American representative before.  Ever.  To get the details right - at least the details as reported by Time magazine:
Trump, who was in Belgium for a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit, cast his much-discussed relationship with Putin in a competitive light after a reporter asked Trump why he thinks the two leaders will get along ahead of their meeting in Finland next week.

“He’s a competitor. He’s been very nice to me the times I’ve met him; I’ve been nice to him,” Trump said, echoing comments he made earlier in the week. “Somebody was saying, ‘Is he an enemy?’ He’s not my enemy. Is he a friend? No, I don’t know him well enough. But the couple of times that I’ve gotten to meet him, we got along very well … but ultimately, he’s a competitor. He’s representing Russia. I’m representing the United States. It’s not a question of friend or enemy.”

You've probably heard the story about South Carolina State House member Katie Arrington's nearly fatal car crash back on June 22.  Well, nearly fatal for Katie, it was fatal for the drunk driver that hit the car she was a passenger in.  She was released from the hospital Friday, but is clearly not done recovering.  While she's expected to be able to walk again, she's still in a wheelchair for now.
Speaking from her home, the candidate said she broke both her feet in the crash, “demolished” her second vertebrae in her back, lost most of her small intestine, lost her right colon and ruptured her aorta.

“I was bleeding to death from my aorta. I have no neurological damage, and not a scratch on my face,” Arrington said.
That last one stands out.  As described, I'm surprised she's alive.

Chances are you're like me in not having heard of the very decent act of her opponent in that Congressional race, Joe Cunningham.
In the Congressional race Arrington is facing Democratic challenger Joe Cunningham of Charleston, who put his campaign on hold immediately after news of the crash. He has since returned to preparing for the Nov. 6 general election.

Cunningham even expressed he and his wife’s happiness for his opponent’s hospital release Friday.

“Amanda and I are thrilled to hear that Katie is leaving the hospital, and we continue to pray for a full recovery,” he said on Twitter.
Apparently, he returned to campaigning within five days.  Campaigning resumed with surrogates for Arrington, so (much like show business) the show must go on and it's understandable to me that Cunningham would resume campaigning.  Still, can you imagine any of the vocal "resistance" candidates acting with such decency?  Can you imagine a Maxine Waters, or any of the more well-known Democrats putting their campaign on hold, and not attacking while their opponent was down? I can't.  Unimaginable. 

Hat tip to you, Mr. Cunningham. 

My general attitude about pride in life is to be proud of your accomplishments; the things you've done that perhaps other people couldn't or wouldn't.  Things you have no control over, like your race or ancestry are just things that "are"; they're not worthy of pride, just acknowledgement.  Growing up in the south was my parent's idea, I had no part in it.  Staying in the small-town south was an active decision.  The way that Katie Arrington has been treated is yet another reason to be proud to be a southerner from flyover country.

Years ago, the New Yorker ran this cover (I hope as self-deprecating humor), depicting a view of the world as seen from the city.   All detail stops at the Hudson River.  They're aware of a place called Jersey, and a few others, but it's basically nothing until you get to Pacific.  As good a metaphor for flyover country as you'll find.   

Friday, July 13, 2018

107 Year Old Einstein Prediction Proven

According to this week's Machine Design newsletters, a 107 year old prediction by Albert Einstein was verified recently at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“We saw evidence for what Einstein first proposed in 1911—that heat energy hops randomly from atom to atom in thermal insulators,” said Lucas Lindsay, materials theorist at ORNL. “The hopping is in addition to the normal heat flow through the collective vibration of atoms.”

The random energy hopping is not noticeable in materials that conduct heat well, like copper on the bottom of saucepans during cooking, but may be detectable in solids that are less able to transmit heat.
The researchers needed to study the heat flow in a material that's really poor at conducting heat, and chose a compound based on the element thallium, a rather uncommon metal, wedged between mercury and lead in the periodic table.  Researchers said the crystal they used, “has one of the lowest thermal conductivities of any crystal.”  It sounds as if they weren't deliberately trying to prove or disprove this prediction, but that they were trying to make sure they could predict the heat flow with a computer model.   
Lindsay and his colleagues used sophisticated vibration-sensing tools to detect the motion of atoms and supercomputers to simulate the journey of heat through a simple thallium-based crystal. Their analysis revealed that the atomic vibrations in the crystal lattice were too sluggish to transmit much heat.
The predicted heat flow from the computer simulations was about half of the heat flow observed in the experiments.  This is what led them to conclude another, additional heat transfer mechanism was at work. 
“Much of the vibrating energy is confined to single atoms, and the energy then hops randomly through the crystal.”
Many useful materials, such as silicon, have a chemically bonded latticework of atoms. Heat is usually carried through this lattice by atomic vibrations, or sound waves. These heat-bearing waves bump into each other, which slows the transfer of heat.
This is the dawn of trying to use this phenomenon in the engineering toolbox, like all other known heat transfer mechanisms.
“Both the sound waves and the heat-hopping mechanism first theorized by Einstein characterize a two-channel model, and not only in this material, but in several other materials that also demonstrate ultralow conductivity,” said ORNL materials scientist David Parker.

For now, heat-hopping may only be detectable in excellent thermal insulators. “However, this heat-hopping channel may well be present in other crystalline solids, creating a new lever for managing heat,” he said.
First comes detecting it, then comes trying to benefit from it, and finally attempts at controlling it.  Without control, it's just a phenomenon. 

(New research about the transfer of heat—fundamental to all materials—suggests that in thermal insulators, heat is conveyed by atomic vibrations and by random hopping of energy from atom to atom.  Here the vibrational coupling is shown as the light blue springs and thermal hopping as the yellow arcs. - ORNL)

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Possibly the Farthest Reaching News This Week

Something getting coverage around my blog list, but not much elsewhere, is the US Department of Justice essentially surrendering on its five-year-old case against Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed.   From the SAF press release:
BELLEVUE, WA – The Department of Justice and Second Amendment Foundation have reached a settlement in SAF’s lawsuit on behalf of Cody Wilson and Defense Distributed over free speech issues related to 3-D files and other information that may be used to manufacture lawful firearms.

SAF and Defense Distributed had filed suit against the State Department under the Obama administration, challenging a May 2013 attempt to control public speech as an export under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a Cold War-era law intended to control exports of military articles.

Under terms of the settlement, the government has agreed to waive its prior restraint against the plaintiffs, allowing them to freely publish the 3-D files and other information at issue. The government has also agreed to pay a significant portion of the plaintiffs’ attorney’s fees, and to return $10,000 in State Department registration dues paid by Defense Distributed as a result of the prior restraint.
The case against DD was that they violated ITAR (International Trade in Arms Regulations).  DD argued they weren't exporting guns, they were publishing software describing something and publishing software has been recognized as free speech.  As part of the settlement, the DOJ has promised to eliminate ITAR control over the technical information DD had put online and transfer regulatory control to the Department of Commerce. 

This is an outcome I never would have guessed at, but perhaps with a Trump DOJ instead of the Obama version and the very likely addition of a more pro-2A Supreme Court Justice, they felt they wouldn't win in the long run.

The biggest item might be this little gem:
Significantly, the government expressly acknowledges that non-automatic firearms up to .50-caliber – including modern semi-auto sporting rifles such as the popular AR-15 and similar firearms – are not inherently military. 
This is the Department of Justice saying AR-15s, AR-10s and similar semi-autos are not "weapons of war", as has been the anti-gun talking point/sound bite since, oh, forever.  In particular, it has been the war cry of the Hogg and the Parkland kids since day 1, as well as the reliably pro gun confiscation groups like the Mommies and Space Cadet.  I can't see how the DOJ could enforce a ban on ARs now, since they just established the precedent that they aren't military arms.

Defense Distributed is promising a new beginning to downloadable guns on August 1st, putting all of their files on a site they're opening called defcad.  Cody Wilson describes defcad as, "a GitHub for guns".  (Github is a software developers hangout and code repository - tons of open source projects are there).

While metal printers are on the market, they're too expensive for the home market.  Plastic printers are available at a wide range of price points.  DD's Ghostgunner is apparently not available at the moment, but this dedicated CNC milling machine is supposed to be able to automatically find the critical points on an 80% AR lower (15 or 10) or an 80% 1911 and produce a finished receiver with minimal user input.  "At the click of a mouse" - which implies it comes with all the software needed. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Your Small Parts Specialist

I think that was somebody's tag line in their commercials because I mentally hear some sort of jingle that I can't really recall when I read those words, but a web search doesn't reveal anything.   Being a small part specialist is probably claiming more credit than I should, but as I mentioned the other day, small parts are what I've been working on for the flame eater engine.  The threading problem was for one of these parts, on the left in this picture.

On the left is the wrist pin yoke with the wrist pin in one side.  The wrist pin is a 1/8" diameter steel pin, 0.91" long with a 3/32 hole along its long axis.  To its right is a little bushing 3/16" long and 3/16" diameter, then a custom washer.  Custom washers are something you only do when your other choices in the design force you; that one is made from the head of a big nail.  On the right are the three practice threading pieces that emulated the yoke until I was sure I could thread them.  In the back is the shaft that goes through the flywheel and holds the crank that drives the piston and all.  After this picture, I put a couple of small flats on the shaft where the three setscrews grab it.

The project for the last couple of days was to make the piston.  The book calls out "bronze, cast iron or cold rolled steel" - those aren't just three very different materials, they're three very different classes of materials.  If you go to buy bronze or CRS, at least, you'll need to specify the alloy. 

The talk on modeling forums is that graphite is really a good material for the piston in this kind of engine.  In one of my oddest coincidences in years, while I bought a CRS rod for this task, I had a piece of graphite.  10 years ago, Mrs. Graybeard and I went to our first home machinists show, NAMES.  This is where I first saw a few engines like this one running, and after the show, I ordered plans from one of the people I talked with, Jerry Howell, along with a kit containing a 2" long piece of graphite just over 1.00" diameter. (Jerry has now passed away, but his little company lives on). 

I had never machined graphite before and found conflicting advice on whether it could be made to same dimensions as the drawings, which called out a wall just under 1/32" thick.  One guy said he made the walls 1/16" thick, another said he left the piston solid except for slots to hold the push rod and pin, while a third said he thought he cut it to walls 1/32 thick.  I decided to leave the piston walls 1/8" thick.  Because reasons.  No particular reasons.  The only portion of the piston made exactly to the plans for a metal piston say is the middle cap where making it too thick would keep the three threads on the yoke from sticking through. 

That's the piston after I turned it to match the cylinder.    

And this is the piston in its more or less final position.

I'm really not sure what percentage done this makes me, but there's a handful of very intricate little parts that have to be done.  I'll say somewhere around half done. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Everything is Proceeding as I Have Foreseen

To quote Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. 

No knowledge of or ability with The Force required to make the predictions that the last 24 hours would unfold as they did regardless of who Trump picked for the Supreme Court.  It was obvious to anyone who observes the political kabuki theater that happens for virtually everything.  Gun Free Zone had this winner from before the announcement was made:

So Trump chose Kavanaugh.  Count me as a lukewarm supporter.  Yeah, he appears to have a good record on the 2A issues, big name pro-gun groups are supporting him, and on the other side the Demanding Mommies and others are all butt hurt about his nomination.  Not to disparage that; I really do care about his 2A stance.  The part that's sticking in my throat is that he's not as good on the 4th amendment, siding with NSA data collection on every-freakin'-body.  As a general rule, he seems to side with big government more than I'm comfortable with.  It would be wonderful, for example, if he was demonstrably against civil asset forfeiture, but I find no evidence.  He could be worse than Jeff Sessions for all I can find. 

He appears to be a "safe pick" in the sense that while the outrage machine is doing their predictable "millions will die" act there's really nothing to base that on other than just general hate for anyone to the right of Che Guevara - or Bernie Sanders.  The common wisdom is that outrage machine will go to 11 for a while and Kavanaugh will be appointed to the court. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

On the Lighter Side

As we wait with live shrimp in our mouths (baited breath) for the supreme court news ... 

Mrs. Graybeard and I went to see Ant Man and the Wasp today - retiree's privilege means going at noon on a weekday.  This is the second movie in the Marvel Universe since Avengers: Infinity War back at the end of April.  The first was Deadpool 2, which I didn't see so can't comment on. 

Infinity War is "heavy" movie.  Yeah, we saw it on the opening Monday, but I never commented on it.  The bad guy, Thanos, wants to kill off about half the population of the universe.  Sorta like the radical environmentalists, only not that psychotic; they want to kill off 95% to 98% of the people on Earth, not half.  At the end, you see major characters, one after the other, either being killed by Thanos or turning into a cloud of dusty flakes blowing away in the wind.  The movie starts out that way, too, with Thanos killing fangirl favorite Loki and then the entire population of Asgard that didn't abandon the planet in last fall's Thor: Ragnarok. 

Ant Man and the Wasp is a lighthearted movie and just a lot of fun.  It might be as much fun as Ragnarok was, and that's saying volumes.  We also really enjoyed the first Ant Man movie a couple of years ago, and when trailers for this one started leaking out months ago we knew we'd go see it. 

In that first movie, Ant Man, Scott Lang (played by Paul Rudd) is a prisoner who just got out of prison and is trying to go straight.  He's given the technology in a self-contained suit to shrink himself to ant size by an old scientist, Dr. Hank Pym (played by Michael Douglas).  In movies like this there's always a "never do this" type warning that the heroes eventually do when things get desperate; you know, like in the original Ghostbusters where it was "never cross the streams".  In this movie it was never do a double shrink and shrink between the atoms.  Once you cross into the quantum realm you'll get lost and never get out.  Ant Man crosses into the quantum realm and gets out. 

This movie starts with Scott in the final days of two year's house arrest for his part in yet another movie (Captain America: Civil War) and Dr. Pym pining over having lost his wife when she went into the quantum realm years before the first movie.  Suddenly, Scott has a dream while napping at home in which he sees a scene through Dr. Pym's wife's eyes.  He contacts Dr. Pym and the race is on.  The Wasp is Dr. Pym's daughter, Hope van Dyne, played by Evangeline Lilly.  She has a suit similar to Ant Man's but with wings and wrist mounted blasters.  Pretty much the entire cast from the first movie is back with a couple of additions: notably Janet, Dr. Pym's wife, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.  A new enemy who complicates things is Ava or Ghost, played by Hannah John-Kamen,.  As a little girl, she's exposed to some sort of radiation that leaves her with the ability to "phase shift" and walk through walls, but still get solid enough in time to pound someone, and lives in constant pain from it. She wants to take over the quantum laboratory Dr. Pym builds to rescue his wife and use it to heal (fix) herself. 

The movie is simply lots of fun.  I guess I find anthropomorphic ants to be inherently funny.  Yes, be prepared to leave one or two laws of physics at the entrance to the theater: when you see them reduce a 10 story building to something small enough to roll around like carry on luggage you're not to think "conservation of mass".  Try not to think about conservation of mass or momentum while watching Pez dispensers grow to 10 feet tall and knock riders off motorcycles. 

(Evangeline Lilly and Paul Rudd - studio photo, of course)

Y'all know I'm a fan of these light, comic book fantasy movies, but I give this a full five stars, right up with Thor: Ragnarok last November.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

One Thing We Can Be Sure About that Supreme Court Nominee

The news says that the nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy will be announced tomorrow night at 9PM.  Expect all sorts of breathless predictions.  Unless Trump has thrown a real fake, I can guarantee you one thing, and that's what's going on now. 

The same forces that had a complete action plan ready to drop the moment the Parkland shooting happened has had teams researching every single person on Trump's list.  No matter who gets the nod, there will have been hundreds of man hours of research into their past to slam the nominee.  

If one of us bloggers - No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money - can run a complete five part series with data on every person on the list, you know the professional smear merchants can. 

You know that no matter who it is a storm is going to break. 

That's all I know with any confidence. 

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Interesting Page on the M1 Garand

I know a bit about the history of the M1 Garand, and have a pair of "service grade" rifles (which are safe queens that ought to be hanging on the wall) but I would never claim to be anywhere beyond basic familiarity.  Most of what I know I read in The American Rifle by Alexander Rose several years ago.  It might not be surprising that the part of the story where the Springfield Armory figures out how to deliver millions of the rifles is of special interest.

While going through some of my old collection of metalworking links, I found a link I don't think I ever saw before: an encyclopedic page on the M1 Garand including lots of details on the manufacture.   They had things like this four headed milling machine that milled four receivers at a time.  It's all about getting more parts cut for every movement of the hand wheels on the mill.

One of the most interesting innovations they had was a Blanchard lathe, named after inventor Thomas Blanchard, who worked at Springfield Armory for five years in the early 1800s.
He also invented machines used for building guns, a barrel lathe and a machine often called a "Blanchard Lathe" used to copy arbitrary 3-D shapes. His initial design, patented in 1819, could quickly and accurately cut new gun stocks based on a 3-D model. It did not require a skilled woodworking operator. That's a 1930s Blanchard Lathe operating in the second picture below. Over 110 years since its invention, and still an excellent tool! 
I interpret the 3D model in "quickly and accurately cut new gun stocks based on a 3-D model" as using an existing carved stock as the master and cutting copies of it.  I believe this is the referenced picture.

This machine is holding six stocks in various stages of machining, which included vacuuming up the chips.  The stock could be inlet on this machine.

That top level page links to a wealth of information on the guns, along with various kinds of ammunition, sources for making your own Garand, and information on other guns from the WWII era.  I'm not a military collector per se, but I admire the innovations here.  Before computers were driving manufacturing machines, geniuses were figuring out how to speed production and improve quality with what they had.

Friday, July 6, 2018

A Safety Cover for the Threading Gears on the LMS3540

In my post about threading problems on Tuesday, I showed the way I was able to get the gears to thread 32 TPI and finer - putting the gears into a position that I can't close the cover over.  I concluded with the statement that
I need some sort of field expedient cover for that.
Yesterday, Mrs. Graybeard provided the answer:

Yes, that's a Mark I, Plain Ole Cardboard Box.  One of the top flats is folded over into the box, and that side gets wedged behind the lever that holds the B/C gears, so the box stays put while everything is turning.  It stops my fingers if they drift over that way.  It'll do for now. 

After that post on Tuesday, I started making some practice pieces preformed to the general shape/length of the real part and threaded 6-32.  Ruined the first two I made (I don't remember why), then got one right.  On the second preform for the piece I need to make, I think I lost count of where I was and moved the cutter too far into the thread and it sheared the stud off.  Then the third and fourth worked the way they should.  3 out of 4 isn't too bad, so time to move onto the real part. 

It threaded just fine.  There are still two operations to do it: cut the slot in the back for the push rod and then drill across the slot for the pin. 

I'm going to do this on the Sherline, but today has been a day of no progress.  The shop computer forgot how to boot and the fan suddenly sounded loud and obnoxious.  It has been behaving like the motherboard battery was on the verge of dying, and it apparently lost its mind.  For weeks or months, it would forget the date & time if I turned off the power strip.  If the power was on, it held up the clock.  So I pulled the covers, replaced the battery and it remembered its setup information.  Including the time.  Then it was time to put the air compressor to use blowing out dust.  Messy, but necessary.  Everything looks like it will be back to normal tomorrow. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

A Little More on Florida's New Anti-Opioid Law

If you haven't followed it, there has been an active discussion about what might be reasons behind the the post I put up mentioning Florida's new opioid law on Monday.

To sum it up, I don't see any disagreement that the root cause of the so-called opioid crisis is the government at all levels attacking prescription pain pills when the actual problem is people using heroin, which is often cut with fentanyl that the cartels buy because it's cheap, powerful and available by the pound from China.  It also happens to have a very small gap between doses that will get buyers high and those that will kill them.

There has been some talk pondering exactly who is behind this and who's benefiting the most.  This afternoon, I remembered a story from 2012 that leads me to a group I hadn't thought of: the

In 2012, the story showed up and then quickly vanished that a high-ranking official from the Sinaloa Cartel, alleged that "Operation Fast and Furious" was not about specifically about running guns to Mexico to get gun control legislation, but that it was to supply the Sinaloa cartel specifically.  Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla, known as the cartel’s “logistics coordinator”, was in US federal prison in awaiting trial and made the claim.
Zambada-Niebla claims that under a “divide and conquer” strategy, the U.S. helped finance and arm the Sinaloa Cartel through Operation Fast and Furious in exchange for information that allowed the DEA, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other federal agencies to take down rival drug cartels. The Sinaloa Cartel was allegedly permitted to traffic massive amounts of drugs across the U.S. border from 2004 to 2009 — during both Fast and Furious and Bush-era gunrunning operations — as long as the intel kept coming.
A perfectly reasonable question might be why would the US get in bed with the Sinaloa cartel.  At the time, a spokesman for the Chihuahua state government in northern Mexico appeared to imply it was well known that what Zambada-Niebla alleged was true.  He said U.S. agencies “don’t fight drug traffickers,” instead “they try to manage the drug trade.”

Back in 2012, I speculated on this a bit.  Perhaps it was part of a plan to shut down the cartels.  The US would provide guns to Sinaloa; for information, then use that info to kill off the competing cartels, so the cartel gets both guns and the US anti-drug forces to kill off their competitors.  That sounds like Sinaloa gets all the benefits, and gives up nothing of value to them.  In fact, it seems worse than that.  It seems that what the US DOJ/DEA offered Sinaloa was unrestricted access to the US drug markets - apparently in trade for nothing.

If the US had wiped out the competition and then figuratively nuked the Sinaloa cartel, all the cartels would be gone and the border problems might conceivably drop to a small fraction of what we have now.  Solving problems, of course, is bad for the federal government and all entrenched bureaucracies.  They're going to be there in perpetuity, so there's no incentive to "work themselves out of a job". 

As a comment to that 2012 blog post pointed out, and as we all know, this is nothing new.
In 1970 SHOCK! The CIA uses the Vietnam war as cover to smuggle heroin out of the golden triangle. SHOCK! 1982 the US uses the war in El Salvador to smuggle heroin AND cocaine IN and GUNS out of the US. SHOCK guns to IRAN(1983). This has gone on with every president from AT least WW2 [Note - edited to add some spelling corrections - SiG]
Typically, I think this "black money" is used to fund things without getting budget money from congress, as it did with Iran-Contra mentioned in that comment.  It's not that congress is reluctant to borrow money (or get it created out of thin air); it's that money the deep black agencies get entirely off the books never entails an investigation or sitting in a chair in front of a board saying, "I'm sorry, senator, but I have no recollection of that".

Since my knowledge of this story was essentially frozen in 2012, I looked up Jesus Vicente Zambada-Niebla (there are other family members in the cartel, so you have search the whole name) to find he did a plea deal with the feds to "cooperate with authorities" and potentially stay out of long term lockup.  I found a Forbes article from 2014 saying the same things as the Blaze article my post was based on in 2012.  I've not found anything conclusive saying it was admitted to in court, but there is evidence that the US deal with the Sinaloa cartel was real, and there's a trail of bodies to back it up.

If we're really still allowing the Sinaloa cartel to traffic drugs into the states (the articles said they had a big center of operations in Chicago), that would explain lots.  Reporters ask who benefits from the opioid crisis and immediately attack "big pharma"; maybe they should be looking at big government. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Happy Independence Day 2018

I'm pleased to see that there's a move to not just call today the 4th of July, but to use the proper name.  Let's remember what it really was - the day we declared our independence of tyranny.


The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. --Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise; the state remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies without the consent of our legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of and superior to civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule in these colonies:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare, is undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms: our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.


I would have highlighted portions that I think are particularly apt today, but the whole thing would be highlighted.

Enjoy your day.  To those who serve - and have served - to provide this gift of liberty for us:  Thank You from the bottom of my heart.