Sunday, September 21, 2014

What Caliber for Ebola?

I may be a bit late to this party, but in my view the President's sending boots on the ground to fight Ebola while vowing to never put boots on the ground to fight the Islamic State is almost perfectly wrong.  Completely backwards from what should be done.

A friend asked me if I'm worried about Ebola.  I think the answer is not so much worry as alertness.  Not worrying, just watching for developments.  I keep hearing the official line that it's difficult to spread and contact with body fluids is required, but I see a doctor who came down with it was treating maternity patients and supposedly not in contact with Ebola patients.  Maybe it's all stock photos, but the medical people all seem to be wearing gowns and gloves with the seams taped.  All good precautions.  A little Clorox sprayed on the outside of that gown and it should be keeping them safe - if it's spread by contact with fluids.  

I've heard that the health systems in those countries are in bad shape due to the impact on medical practitioners.  Sending supplies is a great thing but it seems like the best people to send would be civil engineers and companies that can boot up infrastructure. 

As for the Islamic State (btw, calling them ISIL - L is the Levant - expands their territory beyond what they have, basically giving them Cyprus, Israel, parts of Turkey and more), I don't see how you shut them down without people on the ground.  Of course I don't claim expertise in the military, but to my knowledge, to truly control territory you need ground troops.  I recently heard Jay Sekulow, author of the just-released "The Rise of ISIS" while on the new book tour describing a conference he attended about ISIS at Oxford last spring.  He said the Oxford professors, doctrinaire liberals who believe negotiation can solve virtually anything, viewed ISIS differently.  When asked how to handle them, the professor leading the conference said, "Crush them.  There is no alternative". 

Tam linked to a Buzz Feed article "Inside the Chilling Online World of the Women of ISIS" yesterday, calling it "almost hypnotically appalling."  Reading it was like watching slow motion explosions, knowing that people were dying while you watched.  The casual way they approve of taking non-muslim women as sex slaves; the way they refer to "hand cuttings" as if someone were injected with Novocaine to have a mole removed - not having their hand cutoff with a scimitar; the disregard for killing the kuffar (non-Muslim) as if we're non-human; and their celebrating 9/11 ("Happy Boom Boom Day") all combined to make a horrific read.  One of these precious princesses posted a picture of the beheading of one of the American hostages and tweeted "If this doesn't bring a bit of comfort and ease to your heart then # Go Check Yourself "  (Hashtag deliberately scrambled - SiG)

While I'll be the first to admit that I don't think you end this problem with military means alone, "boots on the ground" seem to be a much more essential part of the solution for ISIS than Ebola.  I think if our Commander in Chief had followed the recommendations of the professionals who work for him, ISIS either wouldn't be a problem at all, or it would be a much smaller problem. 

So now we're joining with the "Moderate rebels in Syria", whoever they are, to overthrow the Syrian government.  Some of those rebels just signed a non-aggression pact with ISIS.  And just who do you think takes over that government after that happens? 
(Source - Air Force Times)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

To CNC or Not To CNC

The topic of CNC control of the mill I wrote about yesterday came up in the comments.  Am I going to CNC?  Buy it that way or do it myself? I thought I'd pass along my thoughts in a post because it will likely be more useful for other readers.  Actually, I think the best answer to "CNC or Manual Mill" is "Yes!".  I'd like both options.

A brief detour to a story of how I got where I am in my machine tool obsession hobby.  I was one of those guys who kept saying "one of these days" I wanted to get a lathe and into metal working.  Mrs. Graybeard took me up on that about 10 years ago and gifted me my Sherline 4400 micro lathe for Christmas.  I had never actually touched any machine tools at all at that point, so to say I didn't know jack is an understatement.  After playing with that lathe for 6 months, learning how to make some chips, and reading the Yahoo Sherline group regularly, an ad appeared for a CNC Sherline mill surplussed from a school system across the state in Tampa.  After a 350 mile round trip drive, I pulled a CNC Sherline mill into my garage.  The only problem was that nothing about it worked, except that the spindle motor turned.  Like my lathe on its first day, this was the first time I had ever touched a milling machine.

The next several months were spent learning how CNC worked.  I found a program that I could control the mill with (TurboCNC), a junky laptop to run that SW on, and quickly found that my CNC controller didn't work at all on one of three axes.  It only worked poorly on another one.  After some research, I bought a new controller very similar to one of these from Xylotex.  It was running. 

As the years went by, I expanded its capability.  I added a fourth axis (rotary) and then upgraded the basic machine with the A2ZCNC extended X/Y axes and a longer Sherline Z axis.  Motors were upgraded in torque substantially, from 75 in-oz to almost 400.  The current mill looks like this:
Several years ago, I decided to build a CNC lathe.  I bought the Sherline CNC-ready lathe, added motors, controllers, made cables; all that stuff.  I had gotten used to using the manual lathe by just walking up to it, chucking up a piece of work and doing what I needed to do.  I told Mrs. Graybeard I'd leave both lathes on the bench for a while and whichever got used more would be the one we keep.  I ended up hardly using the CNC lathe once I got it to thread.  The rifle part I did a little post on was done completely on the manual lathe.  (I've got to admit, though, power feed is a pretty nice thing to have.)  

It's possible to run the CNC mill in an "immediate mode", like a BASIC language program.  Instead of loading a file of hundreds of moves for a part, a user can walk up to the machine controller (I use Mach3 now) and use a command line interface.  Just enter a command like "G01 X 2.000 3.000 F12" and hit return (translation: controlled speed "GoTo" for the X axis, 2.000 inches to 3.000 inches at 12 inches per minute).  I cut out my AR-15 lower fire control pocket with repetitive commands like that, over and over again.  But it's still not as immediate as walking up the mill, clamping or holding the part, indicating it, and turning a wheel.  Plus, while you might hear chatter and react to it in the CNC controller, with hand wheels to control the mill you can feel these things better.  

My mill has always been CNC.  I've never used it in a fully manual mode like I have the lathe.  CNC is fantastic for never losing count of where it is, although it sure can get lost if the motor drops steps.  It never loses concentration and goes too far.  CNC has two main uses:  first, running many copies of the same part, rather than one part made one time, and second,  it's absolutely indispensable for really complex shapes.  CNC mills have become the standard way the jewelry industry carves waxes to cast in the lost wax casting process.   Can you imagine carving something like this wax freehand on the mill? 
In summary of all this is, I'll probably get the mill as a manual mill and add CNC.  I'd strongly prefer CNC I could disengage.  I can't do this on my Sherline because the motors are directly connected to the shafts' axes.  I think a belt drive would be the answer to that.  If I find a setup like that, it will be a strong contender. 

Friday, September 19, 2014

Milling Around

A couple of months ago, when I posted about my new shop, I said I'd keep everyone up to date as tool selection proceeded.  I think I've converged a little, so let me start with the mill.

In a broad sense, mills can be classified by size.  The smallest classes are usually rather precise and are used for things like cutting small parts, model making and carving wax for jewelry casting. 
The model numbers across the top, X1 across to RF45, are common machine models.  The X1 to X3 are made by Sieg, the Shanghai Industrial Company, while the RF45 is from Rong Fu, a Taiwanese company said to make a higher quality machine.  Note the weights in pounds along the bottom.  The micro mills (like I have) are very easy to live with.  You can lift them to vacuum under, if you want.  An X2 class machine, at around 200 pounds is something you don't want to move very often, while the X3, RF45 and larger machines are something you want to move once, with serious planning.  Maybe build your house around them.  As an anonymous commenter said in that linked previous post:
A 700 pound mill not on wheels cannot be moved with body English. If you put it on wheels on a sloping concrete driveway you want a pulley to pull it up the slope. You can keep it from tipping over with your hand, but if it starts to go you can't even slow it down, jump away or have your safety buddy call for the jaws of life.
As Make Zine said, Sieg machines like X2s are one manufacturer with many brands. Not only that, the same machine is tweaked by some of the American sellers for different features: changing the table size is very common.  As always it's a bit more complicated.  There are other lines of machines, like Grizzly G0704 which is a little bigger and little more powerful than the X2 clones.  The G0704 is a representative of yet another maker's product, a BF20, sold by several suppliers. 
(Little Machine Shop's fixed column X2, their model 3990)

By now, I can hear lots of people saying "but what do I need?"  Again, it depends on what you're going to do.  If you want to carve out 80% lowers, you can do that on a good drill press.  I've done it on my Sherline.  Any of the X2 mills will do.  I'm simply not sure what tooling is needed to do a blank forging, a "0% Lower", or to make a receiver from a block of metal.  The 3990 has 10.6 inches of Z-axis travel and remember that any cutting tools or holders (collet or drill chuck) will eat up some of that.  That sort of work may need more Z-axis but it might be that those cuts can be done on a large lathe.   

Right now, I'm leaning toward this LMS 3990.  The Griz G0704 is a strong contender, though, and I'm still going back and forth between them.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Cartoonists Get the Truth

Sorry, y'all.  The night got away from me.  Too much going on to generate content.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Techy Tuesday - Paramagnetic Paint

About a week ago, I was looking up paramagnetism.  That probably sounds strange enough that I don't need to say more.  In contrast to ferromagnetism, which is the most familiar kind of magnetism, paramagnetism is a weak property of almost all elements.  If you've never been exposed to this concept before: since electromagnetism says that moving electric charges create magnetic fields, and all atoms have electrons moving around in them, you might think that everything is magnetic and you'd be right.  The differences are in how those properties manifest themselves at the macroscopic level depending on the atomic structure of the material.  Some materials are weakly repelled by a magnetic field; these are diamagnetic materials.  The materials with many free electrons that move in a sea from atom to atom, like iron and its alloys, show the highest magnetic attraction - ferromagnetism.  

All of which is a detour from the real story.  While looking up paramagnetism, I stumbled across the term Paramagnetic Paint as an autocomplete term in Bing, and started down the Inter-tubes.  I immediately found a couple of videos on the Tube, but was also drowned in claims that it was all fake, done in computers.  My confusion was that mixed in among the links to Snopes proclaiming it fake, or the videos, were occasional links to other sites claiming to be objective, Science!-y sites who said it's possible.  Car enthusiast sites gushing over not having to choose your car's color when you buy it.  Farther down the list is a company who claims to make and sell paramagnetic paint.  Hmm. 
We received many question about paramagnetic paint and basically the questions where about if I could explain how the procedure it and how to paint 6 colors on a panel and then make it change colors.

Mind you, paramagnetic paint is within constantly R&D as there are many new improved emerging materials available such as Poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene)-poly(styrenesulfonate) (PEDOT:PSS), Graphene, new nano materials or combinations thereof.

You could do it with using 2 or 3 sets of the sandwiched layers as they are opaque and shine true [ed. note: through?] each-other. So first is conductive layer – dielectric layer – EL layer (green) – conductive layer – protection layer – and you repeat the structure. Conductive layer – dielectric layer – EL layer (red) – conductive layer – protection layer – conductive layer – dielectric layer – EL layer (blue) – conductive layer – protection layer.

Mind you you have to spray as conformal coating just very thin – 2 or 3 mills

From here you can energize the layers 1 – 2 – 3 or simultaneously 2 -3 or simultaneously 1 -2 or 1 -3 as multilayer will provide together a new color.
The way they describe it, it's a modification of electroluminescent paint, which is a real product.  Darkside Scientific, makers of the Lumilor EL paints, did a Tesla Model S up as a demo - this video was released on 9/11, since I started looking into this:

These paints are already starting to show up in real products, although they're just getting to production with them.  As for the paramagnetic paints, my guess is that the videos we're seeing of finished cars probably are fake, but the technology is for real in development labs and will probably be showing up on cars and more things soon. 

The future is sure looking like a pretty interesting place.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Equality - It's the New Discrimination

H/T to American Mercenary who writes on the Army's move to get women into the Rangers.  As I comment there, I'm in complete agreement with AM when he says:
If they compromise the standard to let women through then shame on them.
If the standards for the job are correct, and they should be by now, then everyone who applies for that position should need to meet the same standards.

The problem is the "victim-obsessed hustlers who are currently running the Federal Government" are suing the Pennsylvania State Police for having the temerity to insist women who apply to be officers must meet the same standards as the men.  That establishes the precedent that they can force the Army to change the standards so that women who want to be Rangers will be tested to lower levels than the men.  That's very likely going to get those women, or some unfortunate people under their command, killed. 

It used to be that discrimination was requiring one class to pass tougher standards than another; in this case, the men are being discriminated against by having to meet tougher standards than women.  Changing the definition of discrimination from tougher standards to everyone meeting the same standards is a whole new ballgame.  Frankly, it warps my mind.  If having everyone meet the same standards equally isn't equality, then the world has fundamentally changed.
Despite the fact that over 70 percent of female applicants pass the test, Holder and Company have decided to sue. And why?

Well… Because those evil cops in Pennsylvania had the audacity to treat female candidates the same as their male counterparts. Don’t those out of touch, sexist, creeps who run the police department know by now that, in Holder’s America, “equality” means treating everyone differently? See, women are equal. Well, unless they’re not. In which case, we should treat them unequal in order to make them equal. But not too unequal. After all, they are equal… Unless they’re not. Are they? (Please don’t sue me.)

Welcome to our progressive Utopia: Where people get sued for not lowering their expectations.
H/T Sense of Events who posted this link on 9/1.  It has been simmering in mind since.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Things I've Been Meaning to Get To

I missed the whole kerfuffle with Tam's blog, and being driven silent by some cretin.  By the time I got back from Israel, on 9/5, she had started posting again, albeit with comments shut down.  I also ran across some comments elsewhere that anyone trying to mess with Tam would score really poorly on the victim selection scale and very likely find themselves in an unanticipated dirt nap.  While that's good for a joke, I wouldn't wish a use of deadly force situation on anyone. 

I'm pretty sure the first thing of Tam's I ever read was her piece on Kathy Jackson's "Cornered Cat", "The Day I Discovered That HCI Wants Me Dead" in which she recounts being in one of those situations.  Not fun.  Not a joking matter.  (As a side note, cops and Emergency Room workers have a notoriously rough sense of humor and make light of the most awful situations imaginable - like fighting to the death).

Anyway, I know you've dropped by on occasion, Tam.  If you see this, sorry you're having cretin troubles.  I appreciate the gun content you're posting and hope life gets back to "normal" ASAP.


Long time readers will know that my "Library Thing" bar on the lower right has several books in it from the low-carb viewpoint, and I have a pretty dim view of the current fad of "Wellness Programs".  I really think Gary Taubes' two books ("Why We Get Fat" and "Good Calories, Bad Calories") are two of the most important health and wellness books put together in the last century.  

I think I've found another.  Death by Food Pyramid is a very impressive book by Denise Minger., hostess of the Raw Food SOS blog.  Denise is a young health writer who is known for a very thorough deconstruction of some very famous studies that get lots of press coverage: the China Study and "Forks, Not Knives".   One of the highest compliments I can pay someone is that they're a good, clear, thinker.  Denise is definitely one; she has good thought processes and they're very evident through the book.  She's also an engaging writer with a knack for providing the right amount of levity for this serious subject matter. 

Denise's story starts with being a teenager who gets convinced she needs to be a vegetarian, which progresses to being only raw foods (or some other fad).  At 17, she goes to the dentist and after way too many disconcerting "hmm" sounds, heavy sighs, and pokes with pointy metal objects, finds she needs to have at least 17 teeth worked on - coming from never having had dental problems before she became a vegetarian.  In the space of one year. 
I was seventeen. It’d been a full year since I’d become a strict, low-fat, fruit-noshing raw vegan — led there by a cocktail of food allergies and dewy-eyed trust in people from the internet (bad idea is bad). Perhaps too distracted by my constant brain fog, perpetual shivering, and the clumps of hair making a mass exodus from my scalp, I’d failed to notice the prime victim of my lopsided diet: my teeth.
The book is divided into sections on the shady politics behind dietary recommendations, the slippery science, and concludes with some ideas for going forward.  The final section includes a fair amount of information on the role of ancestral diets and how, one by one, indigenous peoples were made sicker and sicker by switching to the abundant western staples of flour and sugar.  Gary Taubes spent quite a bit of time on this in "Good Calories, Bad Calories".

She asks a very reasonable question:  there are people who claim tremendous improvements in health from eating totally vegetarian and others who claim tremendous improvements in health by being meat-eating omnivores.  How can such opposites provide the same results?  Aside from the should-be-obvious conclusion that "one size never fits all", we have a tendency to focus on what people eat, or what they do, not on what they don't eat or don't do (those are admittedly infinite sets) and rarely on the environment they live in.  Perhaps what vegans and meat-eating "paleo" diet folks have in common is they both avoid heavily processed modern foods?  For another example, in those studies that gave rise to the "Mediterranean Diet" fad (as if there is one diet over the thousands of square miles of the region) they focus on the pasta and little amounts of meat; have they investigated minerals in the water or the soil?  What about the structures of their societies?  What if it has nothing to do with the baguettes, and everything to do with the amount of magnesium or some other mineral in their water?  

It's not too much of a spoiler to say that the FDA food pyramid (currently called "My Plate") has the drawbacks of every other thing the does that's crawling with crony politics.  The famous "eat 30% of your calories from fat", and "limit your intake of red meat" have more to do with the grain and sugar lobbies than they do with hard science.

If you care about this subject, or are forced to care about it, read this. People without the intellectual flexibility to face their favorite ideas being threatened will have a hard time with it (you'll note the vitriol used against Denise in vegetarian forums). 

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Distinctively American Printer

Perhaps working from all the jokes about how Americans are all, um, plus-sized and lazy, Fuji Xerox has introduced an office printer that brings your prints to you.
So if the fat office worker needs to print something, but finds the walk down the hall to get their printer output too much, they can just have the little robot "fetch" for them, like an oversized (and slightly retarded) puppy.  It's a natural for the American market.  As a Lardo-American I'm both offended and secretly happy.

Just kidding.  This has nothing to do with appealing to oversized Americans.  The intent is to ensure secure prints for business travelers and others who might want to keep their printouts from prying eyes, but don't have their own dedicated printer at the airport or hotel.
Fuji Xerox - a joint venture between the two firms - has been testing the printer this month at a business lounge in Tokyo.

Each desk in the lounge is given a unique web address from which to print. Users access the address and upload documents to be printed.

Once the printer receives the job, it moves to the intended recipient who then has to display a smart card to activate printing.
The Roomba-like robot not only hand-delivers documents, it also features sensors that allow it to maneuver through the objects in a room and a tracker to find the person who requested the print. For example, in the trial, the robot was programmed with a map of an office layout and the directions to each employee. When John requests a print, Xerox will use its laser-powered navigation system to get to John, while successfully avoiding all obstacles in its path.
I'm not sure I can see this taking off.  I'm sure some travelers need to print more often than I have (very rarely), and the hotels I've been staying in tended to have a dedicated office area for travelers to use for a few minutes.  Need to check in and print out a boarding pass for your next flight?  I've seen some single-purpose terminals you can use to do that without touching the dedicated office area.

Maybe it's technology for its own sake, but it is kinda neat.  What do you think?

Thursday, September 11, 2014

At The Peak of Hurricane Season

It's a regular feature around here to mock the annual hurricane forecasts (for example), and especially the Global Warming Alarmists when they predict an active hurricane season.  The guys who do this officially for NOAA, though, predicted this would be "normal or below" season, and they're looking pretty good.  The official numbers were 8-13 named storms, 3-6 of which would become hurricanes and 1-2 which would become major (Cat 3 or above) 'canes. 

This is the statistical peak of the Atlantic hurricane season and there are no named storms out there.  There is a depression around the Azores and a tropical wave that's passing overhead this evening which the hurricane center says has a 40% chance of developing into a tropical system within five days.  They say that depression will be a hurricane by Monday and what we call a fish storm.  It looks like it will have no effect on any land. 
So far, we've had named storms through the letter "D", Dolly, which was a tropical storm for a few hours between forming in the western Gulf of Mexico, and then going ashore around the Texas/Mexico border.  Four storms, no storm lasted more than a week, but three of them made hurricane status.    Ryan Maue's Accumulated Cyclone Energy metric shows that ACE in the Atlantic basin is 39% of a normal year.  The entire planet is at 89% of normal this year, with only the Eastern North Pacific being well above average.

The season tends to slow down faster than it starts, with the peak being short-lived.  Within another couple of weeks, we'll be saying good-bye to hurricane season 2014.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Seeing Through Walls with WiFi

Design News reports on an interesting development from the University of California Santa Barbara.  The project uses a pair of robots who can scan through walls by pointing WiFi antennas at each other and using simple algorithms to make decisions about what's inside the building.  Headed by Dr. Yasamin Mostofi, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, the University of California, Santa Barbara research team has spent a few years developing the imaging technology.
Imagine unmanned vehicles arriving behind thick concrete walls. They have no prior knowledge of the area behind these walls. But they are able to see every square inch of the invisible area through the walls, fully discovering what is on the other side with high accuracy. The objects on the other side do not even have to move to be detected. Now, imagine robots doing all these with only WiFi signals and no other sensors. In this project, we have shown how to do this.
The approach is simple; much simpler than Synthetic Aperture Radar, which provides nearly photographic quality images by signal processing radar returns.   Instead of manipulating the reflected returns from the radar transmitter, they measure signal strength of transmitted signals going through the space and apply simple mathematical functions to the strength before plotting the strength vs. position.  It's not intended for imaging behind walls, like a military or police operation looking for people hiding, and doesn't seem like it's fast enough to do that.  It's intended for search and rescue operations. 
Here's a demo video from the project web page:

I find it somewhat unusual that Dr. Mostofi's UCSB page shows she has MS and Ph.D. from Stanford in '04 with her BS from Iran's Sharif University of Technology in '97.  I didn't think it was feasible to emigrate from Iran these days, but her MS was '99 which pretty much means she started on it almost immediately after completing her BS.

The image quality isn't as good as SAR but I'll bet the hardware is tons cheaper than a SAR or bistatic imaging radar.  Cheap, low tech approaches to problems definitely have their place. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Summer Vacation - A Little More

This is my last day off from work.  Back to the grind tomorrow.  The comments to my previous post about our trip pointed me in the direction of adding a little more detail.

When you see a photo of Jerusalem, there's an obvious structure that seems to draw your attention: the large golden dome near the center of this picture, the Dome of the Rock, a Muslim shrine. 
This is a holy site to Muslims; we were close to the building, but didn't go inside.  There are a few stories about why it's there, but most seem agree there is a rock inside that is supposed to be the "far place" where Mohammed ascended into heaven.  It was built around 690 AD, almost 60 years after Mohammed's death. 

The last Jewish Temple that was on top of that built up structure was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD when they put down a Jewish rebellion and attempted to eradicate the Jews.  Our tour guide said the Romans changed the name of the area to reflect the tribe that the Jews were at war with the most often, the Philistines.  Sort of "adding insult to injury".  The Romans called the area Palestine, and that appears to be the first use of that name.  Most people who know of this area will tell you that the Dome of the Rock was built where the second Temple used to be, indeed these folks say the rock it contains is the Jewish Holy of Holies from the Temple but that claim is in dispute.  There's a group of serious scholars who say that the Dome was built too far to the south.  This has led to speculation that a third temple could be built on the old location, over Mt. Moriah, next to the Dome of the Rock and still be in the right place.  Nobody believes the Muslims would ever accept that.  As commenter Reg T suggested, the  Muslims are busy destroying as much Jewish history and as many archaeological artifacts as they can, just as the Taliban destroyed the Buddhist statues in Afghanistan. 

It has become a common negotiation of the Palestinians to deny there were ever Jewish temples on the Temple Mount; a movement called temple denialAmbassador Dore Gold tells of Yassar Arafat declaring there was never any temple there during the peace talks led by Bill Clinton.  Bubba, to my surprise, told Arafat that he was imposing on his (Clinton's) Christian theology and dismissed Arafat. 

There is a serious movement to be prepared to build a third temple up on Mt. Moriah at a moment's notice.  The  Temple Institute is the driving force behind this. 

During our visit to the area around the Dome of the Rock, we had the chance to observe daily life.  While the Muslims left us Americans alone, when a small group of Israeli Jews tried to access the top of the building, they were shouted down by vocal "Allah Akbar" chants and then physically blocked by standing in their way.  It was ugly.  A similar thing happened inside the old city of Jerusalem, in the Muslim quarter. 

As we walked past the side of the Dome, our guides pointed out this pattern in the marble on the walls near the south-facing door (I think!).
It doesn't take much imagination to see an unpleasant image in the marble. I brought up the contrast a little; my intent was to make the picture "snap" a bit more.  Aside from that, it's just what the marble looked like. 

Finally, I mentioned the superior stone work of the Roman builders.  This is the seam between two blocks of limestone that must weigh a ton or two each.  I don't think you could put a business card in that seam.  No grout or mortar or anything in there.  

Saturday, September 6, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Didn't you hate having to write those essays all through K-12 school?  Me, too.

Summer vacation was a trip with our church group to Israel.  We spent 10 days on the ground there wandering sites rich in history - Biblical and regional.  I spent the entire time in a perpetual state of Mind.Blown and came away with different perspectives on so much.  For an example of mind blowing, here's a gateway into a Canaanite city near the Israeli city of Dan.  This was taken at the Tel Dan National Park historical site - northern Israel, near the Golan Heights.  During our walk into the area we heard distant thunder that was undoubtedly either shelling or bombing from the Syrian war. 
This gate is approximately 4200 years old, and is made of sun baked bricks which were covered in white plaster.  The scale is impossible to guess in the picture, but the gate is seven meters high.  Anything in your town 4200 years old?  It entirely likely that Abraham, the father of both Judaism and Islam, walked through this gate. 

We saw and walked around an ancient Roman city, Tel Bet She'An, or Scythopolis, as the Romans called it.  (Tel is a Hebrew word which indicates the place is an ancient mound or site). The city was largely destroyed by a massive earthquake in 749AD and has recently been extensively dug out. It's referred to as one of the oldest cities in this ancient land; first settled five to six thousand years ago.  (Relics from the "Crusader Era" don't even raise an eyebrow here, and those are many times older than anything you'll find in Florida - or much of the United States.) 

We visited the city of Capernaum, where Jesus' ministry was centered, and spent three days in the area of the Sea of Galilee.  We spent six days in the vicinity of Jerusalem, including side trips to Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered.  We walked under the currently occupied portions of Jerusalem, along the base of the western wall, now famous as the "Wailing Wall" that's a revered place for modern Jews.  Why this place?  Its proximity to the far western point of the old (destroyed, second) Temple - the "Holy of Holies" in Jewish Tradition.  (In a time of "Temple Denial" even saying there was once a temple there is somehow controversial to Muslims).  This is part of an ongoing archaeological exploration in as much of Jerusalem and the nearby City of David as can be accessed.  Outside of the "Old City" of Jerusalem, a current dig is exposing much of the City of David, and we crossed underground from the City of David to Jerusalem, using ancient water ducts - a few hundred yard walk that required me to stay stooped over to avoid hitting my head on a pipe and walk almost sideways, shoulders brushing along plastic sheets that covered the limestone walls.  I guess I'm a bit taller and wider than the workers who cut these tunnels 2000 years ago! 

We walked along roads and paths that were main roads and paths in the time of Jesus; we walked through places King David and Solomon or Boaz and Jeroboam would have walked.  In the Garden at Gethsemane (literally olive oil press) we saw a living olive tree said to be two thousand years old.  At the base of the western wall, underground, we saw stones the Romans put in place that were 30 to 50 feet long and eight feet high - stones that weighed hundreds of tons, yet were cut and placed against each other so precisely that mortar wasn't used.  One of the things that started to really stand out to me was how precise and well constructed the Roman buildings were, but they were often capped with walls built by later inhabitants (Byzantines or Muslims) who invariably did a much crappier job of construction.  Even the stones the Romans knew would be underground were finished better than the more modern construction. 

As an aside, I was always one of those people who said, "how can an educated person be a Christian?", strongly influenced by the press depiction of Christians as cousin-humping rednecks draped in rattlesnakes (our media, after all, still insists the Westboro Baptist Church is a real Christian organization).  One of the things that made me drop that view was a magazine Mrs. Graybeard used to get called Biblical Archaeology Review.  The articles regularly seemed to conclude stories about a major finding that included words to the effect of "we always thought this was just Jewish folklore, but we dug where we figured, and sumbitch - there it was!" (disclaimer: they didn't say "sumbitch"). The archaeology aspects of this tour really made it come to life.  Our guide had an encyclopedic knowledge of the places we visited, and especially deep knowledge of the Jewish and Christian areas.  His translation of Latin and Hebrew place names along with their traditions really made the tour the mind-blowing experience it was.  He made a point of describing spots with a 1-3 scale of how confident archaeologists are that a location is the one described in the Bible.  A "1" was described as certain - "X marks the spot" - down to a "3" being that the authenticity is a consistent legend in the area.  He would point out where one denomination would claim a certain location while other scholars would claim another location. 

The tour was a lot of day hikes in hot weather.  The main difference between Israel and here in Florida is that when the air temperature there was 95, as it often was, the "feels like" (heat index) would be close to 95.  When it's 95 here, the "feels like" temperature is usually 105.  The time of year affects that - summer has hot days but no chance of rain; November or December offer cooler temps but with more chance of rain and snow up in Jerusalem.  Water was $1 a bottle (half liter); the old cyclist's saying "drink before you're thirsty" echoed in my consciousness all the time.  Everything else was $4, or so it seems.  Long walk in the desert?  Ice cream bar is $4.  Diet coke is $4.  Most places take dollars, with an exchange rate of about 3.25 Shekels to the dollar.   

It would take more than just some idle curiosity about this place - where the great cultures of the world collide - to justify a trip from the US.  In many ways, it was the trip of our lifetimes.  Still, I'd have to recommend a trip like this to anyone who really wants to see and understand the region.  If you're Christian, it will change your world.  Our trip was arranged through Inspired Travel and on the Israel end, it was Sar-El Tours but be advised both of them cater to groups.  Our group was 50, one bus, but at one of our overnight hotels, a group of five buses from a mega-church showed up.  Neither of these companies seem likely to help a small family or individual. 

EDIT 1200 EDT 9/7 - A couple of typo and grammar fixes that only the truly Anal Retentive will notice.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Going Offline

For the first time in the 4 1/2 year history of this blog, I'm going on vacation.  I've had some biz trips that have kept me offline and one trip that kept me away, but those were never more than a week or so.  I'm taking off for 12 days tomorrow morning.  If all goes according to plan, I'll be back the first weekend of September, 9/6-7. 

We're going off to places we've never been, do some day hiking, and see some things we've never seen.  Away from the same old places and same old sights.  Pretty much every place has WiFi these days, and we won't be tent camping, but I really doubt I'll have the time to do much of anything here.

Y'all enjoy the next two weeks and we'll see you on the Far Side!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why So Many?

According to New York Times/CBS News poll, 10% of Americans think Obama has improved race relations.  10%?  Why so many?
The poll found 17 percent of blacks and 8 percent of whites believe race relations have improved under Obama.
The poll was specifically about the Ferguson, MO situation and Michael Brown shooting, but did ask this generic question as well as the general view of police relations.  The times reports 1,025 people were polled by telephone and subclassified in all sorts of ways.  Average margin of error was 4 points.

I can understand that only the most virulently racist would think things are better than before, but I think 17% is quite a bit more of the black population than the New Black Panther Party and their ilk represent.  It's hard to figure the 8% of whites; they must be the most intensely self-hating liberals. 

Personally, I think Chris Muir nails it here in DBD:
Get rid of those guys and things will definitely get better.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Opie? Opie??

Put down the stick, Opie.  (Eric Allie at Townhall). 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Techy Tuesday - Plastic Screws and Bolts As Strong as Steel

I'm always keep an eye out for the really cool or "how about that?" things in the stream which crosses my desk everyday.  I have gone through some periods where not much came across, but usually there's a few every week.  Tonight, thanks to Technical Editor in Materials Ann Thryft at Design News, we learn of new fasteners from Piper Plastics.  Plastics which approach - and can exceed - the strength of metal fasteners.
Kyron MAX is a new line of injection-moldable composites, with both glass and carbon fiber versions, from Piper Plastics. The material comes in three performance levels. Depending on the combination of polymer type and fillers, tensile strength can reach from up to 50,000 psi (345 MPa) to as high as 120,000 psi (827 MPa). That last figure puts it above steel, Dave Wilkinson, materials engineering manager for Piper Plastics, told Design News. Tensile modulus ranges from up to 5 million psi (35 GPa) to as high as 12 million psi (83 GPa).

The composites are almost 75% lighter than steel and about 60% lighter than titanium. Polymers include PEEK, PPS, PEI, PPA, and PA. "The strength of any fiber-filled polymer is the strength of that fiber combined with the strength of the fiber's adhesion to the polymer," Wilkinson told us. "So we've developed a stronger fiber and a new sizing technology to adhere the fiber to the polymer. Depending on the application's mechanical strength needs, we use either short or long fibers."
Pictured here, Piper Plastics used one of the highest-performing XS series Kyron MAX polymer grades to mold a standard #10-32 bolt for replacing titanium aerospace bolts. The part exceeds target minimum tensile load at 741 lb and double shear strength at 1,890 lb while reducing the weight of the titanium bolt by about 60%.   They also say it beat the cost targets but don't say if it's supposed to be cheaper than the titanium bolt; with that kind of weight reduction, it might well cost more.  (Source: Piper Plastics)

Piper presents this table of the capabilities of this plastic:
As Ann points out, Piper Plastics is a machining/injection molding company.  I think that means that these threads can't be cut by conventional means like taps or dies or single point threading on a lathe.  It would be interesting to try.  It's not uncommon to booger up the threads on a bolt while assembling things (who? me?) and the ability to clean the threads up with a tap or die would be nice.  On the other hand, if it's cheaper than metal, too, why not just pitch it and use a fresh piece of hardware?

There are still obvious questions here.  For example plastics are known for cold flow and creep, and a bolt stretching out under its intended load and getting looser isn't much of a bolt.  Still, that should have shown up by now in early development, and there's nothing else that won't be resolved by some standard tests.  An interesting, cool development.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Gosh, This Surprised Me

I went looking at my Stats page on Blogger and hadn't noticed that sometime in the last two weeks, I went over 1,000,000 page views in the life of this blog.
Thanks, folks.  I know I've made some friends who have commented, maybe made contact via email and have been reading here almost since the start - certainly since the first year.

I always find funny things in the search terms that lead people here.  This week included "JJ Cale" (three times), "cardio when can't run" (twice) and "civil air patrol dating memes" (twice).  I have no idea why that last one led a couple of disappointed people here.  My most viewed page ever, as it has been for some time, is my page on building my AR-15 from an 80% lower.  Blogger allows me to list my 10 most popular posts ever, which is down at the bottom of the right column.  

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Behold... The Salmon Cannon

If you're not in the Pacific Northwest salmon country, and I'm about as far from there as you can get and still be on the North American Continent, you might not realize that transporting salmon around hydroelectric dams is a big problem - and a small industry.  According to one source I read, the spent over $500 million transporting about 2 million salmon around dams on the Columbia river - or $250 per fish.  I would imagine you could buy them airfare and fly them inland for not much less.  (Imagine if you will an airport waiting area populated by ticket-holding salmon who are reading newspapers, fiddling with their smartphones and semi-patiently waiting for their plane to leave).  From The Verge, a story about a possible way to do it cheaper, better for the fish, and, well, funnier: 
Salmon are amazing fish. They’ll swim hundreds of miles against the current, hurl themselves up waterfalls, and risk being eaten by bears as they return to their birthplace to spawn. But some obstacles are too much, and that’s where Whooshh Innovations comes in. Behold, the salmon cannon. Seriously, watch this video of fish getting launched out of pneumatic tubes:

Whooshh Innovations ("Whoosh" was already taken) first designed its tubes to transport fruit, but as Washington state debated what do about hydroelectric dams and the salmon whose migrations they blocked, the company saw its technology might have another purpose. If Whooshh tubes could send apples flying over long distances without damaging them, maybe, an employee thought, they could suck fish up and over the dams blocking the Columbia river.
So they put a tilapia into the fruit tube and let it fly, proving both fish and fruit are subject to Bernoulli's laws.  Whooshh is aware of the giggle factor here.  To quote Todd Deligan, Whooshh's vice president:
"At a talk at the National Hydropower Association, I hit play on the video and the first fish goes flying out, and the audience is dying. I had to say, 'It's okay to laugh, this is utterly ridiculous.' Then people start talking and they say, 'Holy cow, why hadn't we thought of something like this before?'"
The salmon cannon isn't fully operational, but they have tested it by destroying Alderan, a small planet on the edges of the empire ... no, sorry ... they've tested it a couple of times in the Columbia River system.
The test in June showed that fish will voluntarily enter the tube. When they swim into the entrance, the vacuum sucks them in and gives them initial boost; after that, elevated pressure behind the fish keeps them moving at about 15 to 22 miles per hour till they go flying out the other end. The speed, Deligan says, can be adjusted. Mist is applied to keep the fish wet as they zoom along. Currently the tubes are being hand-loaded, but Deligan says the test at the Roza site showed that "the fish just swim right in."
More tests are planned, but unless something bad shows up, it looks like someday you might see salmon flying to get around dams.  Without chartering airplanes.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Economatrix Chart Updates

Almost as long as I've been running this blog, I've posted the Calculated Risk Blog's chart of Percent Job Losses in Post WWII Recessions.  It occurred to me today that I haven't posted it in a while so I went looking for it today:
According to this chart, which is again only the news sound bite number that gets released every month, the 2008 recession is over.  The last time I posted this I wrote "... recovery will be complete in late 2014 to early 2015.  But I don't think I believe that".  I based not believing it on a couple of reasons, the biggest being it has no reflection of labor participation rate, which I continue to hear is at levels last seen in the late 1970s. Assuming those people try to start working again, that's going to affect the measured unemployment numbers.
For example, in the May unemployment report, the unemployment rate dropped from 6.7 to 6.3%, but the size of the workforce dropped by 800,000, yet I keep hearing about people having to postpone retirement and working longer.  It would seem to imply that people staying working who would rather be retired are occupying jobs that some of those people out of the work force would like to have. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Privacy, Ambient Intelligence and ... Printers?

A few things I've come across worth sharing. 

We've spoken a lot in this space about 3D printing.  It has been speculated that the future is in printing agencies that take your design file and ship you the printed object.  I hadn't heard that Amazon opened a 3D printing service.  I'm a Prime member and while they contact me regularly to remind me I can look stream videos or listen to music, they have never said a word about this.  I thought their marketing was better than that.  The chances I'd be interested in a 3D print are many times more than the chance I'd be interested in a video. 

Back in my series on Privacy in Radio Communications, I did a unit that introduced the concepts of spread spectrum, information theory, and a lot of other important ideas.  If you're really interested in learning more hands on spread spectrum stuff, the complete text of an amateur radio introduction has been posted in pdf format.  Link courtesy of Sparks31 and an emailer whom I will leave anonymous.  (BTW, I re-read that series recently and still thought it was pretty decent).

I did a post on the Internet of Things recently.  In a recent email from a computer geek group called MakeUseOf, they posted a good article on "Ambient Intelligence".  AmI, as it's called, is either the end state of the IoT or just past that.  Picture the scene in Minority Report where Tom Cruise's character is walking into a store and sees ads personalized for, and aimed at, only him, and multiply the privacy violation. 
This new paradigm is obviously powerful, but it also comes with its own risks and challenges.  As the devices in your world come to know your life in more detail, they also  come to know your life in more detail.  You might appreciate it if your technology automatically responds to an intimate moment by lowering the lights and changing the music, but you may be uncomfortable with the idea of a large corporation like Google knowing the when and where of your love life.
Do people really want privacy?  Or are they willing to sell it for "cool" and convenience.  As the author of that article commented:
If people really want privacy, market pressures will force someone to offer it, but my suspicion is that people won’t actually care as much about privacy as much as they say they do.

Guess we'll find out.  It's a brave, new world out there.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Techy Tuesday - Steam from Sunlight

Power Electronics reports on a development at MIT of a way to capture sunlight and create steam at high levels of efficiency.
A new material structure developed at MIT generates steam by soaking up the sun. The structure — a layer of graphite flakes and an underlying carbon foam — is a porous, insulating material structure that floats on water. When sunlight hits the structure’s surface, it creates a hotspot in the graphite, drawing water up through the material’s pores, where it evaporates as steam. The brighter the light, the more steam is generated.

The new material is able to convert 85 percent of incoming solar energy into steam — a significant improvement over recent approaches to solar-powered steam generation. What’s more, the setup loses very little heat in the process, and can produce steam at relatively low solar intensity.
Steam, of course, is useful for sterilization, desalinization, and cleaning.  Most current systems for solar steam generation are huge, with lots of mirrors or lenses collecting the energy concentrating the solar input up to 1000 times.  This system requires much less of that. 
By contrast, the MIT approach generates steam at a solar intensity about 10 times that of a sunny day — the lowest optical concentration reported thus far. The implication, the researchers say, is that steam-generating applications can function with lower sunlight concentration and less-expensive tracking systems. 
This is preliminary and hasn't been scaled up to full production, but it's something to keep an eye out for.  The obvious advantages for sterilizing water in places with too much wildlife in their water supply are just one use.  Don't neglect sterilizing surgical instruments for field or bush hospitals.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Oh, No

Oh, dear Lord, no.  Robin Williams dead of an apparent suicide.

One of the funniest men who ever lived; his frantic, "full-tilt Bozo" antics of the 70s and early 80s made me laugh until I hurt.  His acting had less impact, but I saw most of his movies.  I still regularly remember bits from his HBO live comedy show in about 1980 and they always make me smile. 

His last post on Instagram, a Happy Birthday message of love to his daughter:
I can't adequately describe the feeling of loss. 

I hope you found your peace, Robin.  In a world in desperate need of humor, the rest of us will miss you.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What's All That Noise? Chickens Coming Home to Roost?

I think that if I can say one positive thing about this blog is that I've been all over the story that the administration has apparently changed sides in the "War on Terror", supporting Muslim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda rebels in Syria,  and covering the story that Russians couldn't believe we were being so stupid in the Mideast, so it must be we're destroying the world on purpose.  And more;  I've been covering what I can find about the Muslim Brotherhood influence at the highest levels of government.

The attacks of ISIS (as they're commonly called) are turning into full out genocide of Christians and anyone else they think isn't the right strain of Islamic.  According to this story on
"Christianity in Mosul is dead, and a Christian holocaust is in our midst," said Mark Arabo, a Californian businessman and Chaldean-American leader. In an interview with CNN's Jonathan Mann, he called what's happening in Iraq a "Christian genocide" and said "children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed, and fathers are being hung."

"Right now, three thousand Christians are in Iraq fleeing to neighboring cities," he told Mann. Arabo is calling on the international community to follow France's lead and offer the Christians of Iraq asylum.
"They are systematically beheading children," Arabo repeated slowly. "And mothers and fathers. The world hasn't seen an evil like this for generations."

"There's actually a park in Mosul where they actually beheaded children and put their heads on a stick... this is crimes against humanity. They are doing the most horrendous, the most heart-breaking crimes that you can think of."
 The article concludes with:
A quick scan of Youtube shows the truth of what Arabo is saying - there are gruesome videos of heads on spikes, and many of live beheadings (one poor Christian is forced to say the Shahada 'there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet' and then beheaded anyway.)

Warning: don't google these things unless you have a strong stomach.
It's melodramatic to blame this on Obama: no one is responsible for these crimes against humanity except for the Islamists, but this outcome is completely predictable given the things Obama has done already.  Completely predictable in light of all the stories I've covered before.  You might recall that the leader of ISIS said he's coming to America, and the media was full of stories this weekend reporting how they are threatening to do so immediately, and "raise the flag of Allah in the white house".
“I say to America that the Islamic Caliphate has been established,” spokesman Abu Mosa told VICE Media in a video interview. “Don’t be cowards and attack us with drones. Instead send your soldiers, the ones we humiliated in Iraq.”

Mosa, however, wasn't finished: "We will humiliate them everywhere, God willing, and we will raise the flag of Allah in the White House,” he added.
The soldiers they humiliated in Iraq?  What definition of humiliation would that be?  Regardless, these horrific savages (and there are no other descriptors for people who would behead children in front of their parents) are on the march.  The flag of ISIS was flying in London and elsewhere in Europe this weekend, and only a 77 year old nun had the guts to tear it down.
There is a phrase used of, and by, jihadists: ‘First the Saturday people, then the Sunday people.’ Well there’s a fine example of this on display at the moment in East London. Even the Guardian has picked up on it.

At the entrance to a council estate near Canary Wharf, amid the banners of the hilariously misnamed ‘Stop the War coalition’ (‘End the Siege on Gaza’) the Black flag of Jihad is flying. Yes, that’s right, at a major council estate in the East End of London the black flag of ISIS is flying.
I don't know what the right thing to do about ISIS is, but I suspect the answer comes awfully close to what they'd say: "kill them all and let God sort them out".  I do know that if you don't think you have a dog in this fight, you'd better get your head out of your butt.  They may come for the Jews first (the Saturday people) and then come for the Christians, but they're coming for everyone, unless someone stops them.  If the neighborhood lunatic came up to you and vowed he was going to kill you would you take it seriously?  I personally always say that when someone swears they are going to kill you, you'd best take them at their word.  It doesn't matter if you don't want to get into a "religious war" if they do.  If you're completely atheistic and think it doesn't matter when they tell you convert or die, good luck with that.  You might want to look up the terms "dhimmitude", "jizya", and how the Muslims think if you're not one of them, you're essentially not human, and they can kill you any time they feel like it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Amazing Photo Spread

A friend emailed me this link last night.  It's a slide show of comparisons of a group of shots from both D-Day and recent photographs.  The thing is, the photos were carefully lined up to be the same perspective and scale for the two scenes some 70 years apart. 

Click on the link and at the top you'll get a picture of a port used to stage landing craft for the invasion.
Click your mouse on the picture and slide it side to side and it turns into the modern view.
If you look at the buildings on the far shore, you'll see many appear to be the same.  Throughout the photo set, that's the pattern; some are repaired, some are painted and some are upgraded, but they're all recognizable.  Remarkably consistent over the 70 years. 

There's ten of them, full of amazing similarities and differences.  Go check it out.

Friday, August 8, 2014

A Little More About .308 vs 7.62x51

Thanks to comments from McThag and a post by American Mercenary for reminding me of the differences in how the pressures are measured between the two cartridges: .308 in PSI and 7.62x51 in CUP (Copper Units of Pressure, an older way of specifying chamber pressures).  I've looked into this subject before and came to the conclusion the BulkAmmo poster mentioned

My story is probably newer than most everyone's since I'm still a relatively new shooter, getting more involved in the sport in '09 than earlier in my life.  The story starts when I bought a DPMS LR-308 in 2010.  To shorten the story, the first box of .308 ammo I got from a gun show seller was marked both .308 Win and 7.62x51.  Even then I knew they weren't exactly the same so I bought some commercial .308 ammo and spent some time trying to figure out if I could use the NATO spec ammo in my gun.  DPMS marks the gun as .308 Win, and warns against using anything else.  Quoth DPMS:
While you can physically fire either 308 or 7.62 NATO from a 308, you will see reduced accuracy from increased wear in the throat of the rifling and a higher chance of erratic cycling, including a higher chance of failures to extract. It is for this reason we recommend using only commercial 308 in a 308 barrel.

DPMS does not recommend or warranty the use of 7.62x51 ammo in a .308 chamber.
Pretty serious, huh?  If you use Mil ammo in your DPMS .308 rifle, you void the warranty.  After cruising forums and various experts, I saved this bit of wisdom.
OK, lets clear up this .308/7.62 business once and for all.  Both rounds can be used in either chamber, however there are a few things you need to be aware of if using .308 in a 7.62 chamber.

First, realize that .308 and 7.62 have identical external dimensions. Because of this they can both be used interchangeably.

That said, it's important to note that a .308 case has a larger internal dimension than a 7.62 case. The walls on a 7.62 case are thicker than that on the .308. The result is that the 7.62 case is stronger, but the .308 case can have a higher potential load.

This is important to note because for the .308 the combination of a thinner wall, with a higher charge, means the case can be more easily deformed when fired. This is why the .308 chamber is a tighter spec, in order to restrict expansion of the case.

The 7.62 chamber is a slightly higher tolerance (which can aid in reliability, as it is not incredibly picky about round dimensions) which is fine for the thicker walled 7.62 case (thicker case = less likely to deform), but may present an issue when using .308 with a high charge (easier to deform).

Also of note is that while .308 is CAPABLE of a higher charge, it is often not loaded to max spec by manufacturers. 7.62 on the other hand often is loaded closer to it's max spec, and as such they tend to be "hotter" than commercial .308 rounds.

Lets break it down:

7.62 = Thicker case, lower possible max load, but is often loaded to near it's max.
.308= Thinner case, higher possible max load, but is almost always loaded lower than it's max.

7.62 chamber = higher dimensional tolerance (loose)
.308 chamber = lower dimensional tolerance (tight)

You can use 7.62 rounds in a .308 chamber with no problem (cheap surp might be a little tight though), and you can use .308 rounds in a 7.62 chamber as long as you don't reload using too high a charge. If you DO use an overly high charge for a .308 round in a 7.62 chamber, you are likely to deform the case, or tear the head off the case.

If you don't reload at all, you don't need to worry about it (unless you bought handloads).

So sure, ideally it would be good to use the round your chamber was made for, but by no means do you have too. For most, they can use either chamber, either round, and will never have any issue.

And remember people, this is the internet. Do not simply believe everything you read just because it may sound good... even from me (and even though the above is accurate). Please go out and research for yourself in order to confirm what I'm telling you.
Although I've had that in text file on my computer for a few years, I didn't keep track of where it came from.  If it's yours, I'd be happy to credit it to you.  For everyone else, heed the last paragraph. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

This is Handy

Don't know about you guys, but I've personally asked "is it OK to shoot 7.61 NATO in my .308 Win rifle".  I've read on it before, but this graphic from is a handy reference.  And while this is supposed to be a gun blog (I've even got the Tee-shirt), I sure haven't been very good at keeping up the gunny content lately. 

.308 vs. 7.62x51
380 vs. 7.62x51

I printed this out for the reloading area.

So the rule is you can shoot 7.61 NATO in a .308Win gun, but not the other way around.  If you have an AR-15 like everyone else, it's the opposite of 5.56 NATO and .223 Rem where you can shoot both in the 5.56x45 NATO gun and not the .223 gun.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Techy Tuesday - The Intersection of Art and Engineering

Before the invention of the camera, artists were concerned with capturing images out of reality.  They could make a living doing portraits of the well-off, and could sell well done pictures of other things, but "art" as it's commonly spoken about today: impressionistic, abstract, cubist, and things like elephant dung on paintings of The Madonna, just weren't done.  Artists were too busy capturing reality to paint how they felt about reality; too busy capturing the sublime to submerge crucifixes in urine.  There was, of course, the constant development of technique from perspective in the 14th Century to Rembrandt's famous developments in shading and shadows, and more; but by the 17th century, capturing reality in a painting was pretty well developed.  Consider, for example, this well known painting by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer, "Girl With a Pearl Earring":
This is a painting of an almost striking reality, very much like a photograph.  In fact, that might not be a coincidence. 

In a recent short blog entry, Design Engineering blogger Elisabeth Eitel goes over the evidence that Vermeer obtained his hauntingly lifelike results through technology, in particular by use of a camera obscura.  The story is contained in a movie called Tim's Vermeer that can occasionally be found in small theaters and probably through the streaming services (that link will open the movie trailer). 
The movie is by inventor Tim Jenison and his friend Penn Jillette (the Vegas magician) who directs. It shows how Jenison works more than eight years to accurately recreate the art of 17th-Century Dutch Johannes Vermeer, the painter of such highly realistic Masters as Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Concert.

Not only that, but Jenison uses all the tech-based techniques Vermeer used — with heavy reliance on a camera obscura.
Cameras obscura are totally enclosed thin-walled boxes with holes on opposing walls. Light travels in straight lines from the scene being painted through a small hole, cross, and project through the opposing hole as an upside-down image on any surface put in front of it.

 With this device, Vermeer captured scenes with the shimmer and accuracy of a snapshot ... 150 years before photography.

What I find fascinating about this is that Vermeer presaged the use of photography for capturing reality by substituting his meticulous work for film.  He essentially became the film.  In an age when artists meticulously painted individuals, Vermeer was (to be crass) tracing pictures in the camera obscura.  It's not as easy as that; people do move and an optical system based on a pinhole doesn't present a great image.  Still, it wasn't painting everything freehand.

I've often thought that if the majority of the great painters had a modern camera to speed their work, they'd use it.  This lends to support to that idea. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Golden Age of Narcissism

Our selfie president may not do anything else well, but he absolutely embodies the narcissism that permeates our society. 

From the notion of taking selfies everywhere comes the ubiquitous GoPro video cameras that have allowed thousands of people to take HD videos of how cool they are.  Not enough of you in your videos, because you have the camera mounted facing forward?  Fear not; a whole line of products like this allow you to hold the camera remotely so it can capture your glorious self. 

The notion of taking videos of yourself may have just hit its ultimate point:  AirDog (auto-start of video warning).  AirDog is quadcopter drone with a twist: it has a wrist worn radio transmitter called AirLeash that the drone follows - from a respectful distance.  Mounted to the front of AirDog is your video camera, gyro stabilized and always pointed at you. 

Afraid you'd do something really awesome without producing a video to send to friends or put on the Tube?  Afraid your awesomeness will lost to posterity?  Fear no more!  For a mere $1300 you can purchase a drone dedicated to recording your awesomeness.  Check out their video describing the project. 
I have to admit, from a pure technical standpoint, it's really cool and my initial reaction was to be filled with want.  On a few minutes thought, though, I dropped that desire.  I'm just not that awesome.  This blog is all the selfie-ness that I need.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Zombies Must Starve to Death At the UN - There Are No Brains

Is being legally brain dead a requirement to work for the UN?  Are all employees required to not provide a single gram of Zombie Chow?  For sure it's a requirement to work in the administration, from everything I can see. 

I ask because the UN Human Rights Council is publicly saying that Israel's use of their Iron Dome missile defense system may be a war crime because they're not giving it to the very group that they're defending themselves against!  Only in a brain dead moron's mind (or a socialist's - but I repeat myself) would spending billions to develop a system to protect yourself and your citizens require you to give that advantage to a group sworn to destroy you and every other person of your kind (Hamas Charter). 
Among the UN’s long bill of particulars against the beleaguered Jewish state comes the almost unbelievable accusation that Israel’s refusal to share its Iron Dome ballistic missile defense shield with the "governing authority" of Gaza – i.e. Hamas, the terror group created to pursue the extermination of the Jewish state and now waging a terrorist war against it – constitutes a war crime against the civilians of Gaza.

The UN chairwoman criticized the U.S. for helping fund Israel's Iron Dome system which has saved countless Israeli and Palestinian lives. "No such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling," she said.
But, Madam Brain Dead, isn't it the fault of the attackers when the people they're attacking eventually strike back? 
Just because Hamas fires rockets indiscriminately aimed at Israeli civilian population centers without provocation and fires them from within its own population centers does not “absolve” Israel from its own legal violations, Pillay told reporters Thursday.
Tell me that there are higher mental functions going on in that so-called "brain".  I think anyone with half a functioning brain - I've even heard it from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon - knows that Hamas is surrounding all of their military hardware with civilians.  With their own babies.  It's the ultimate hostage situation; they're holding their own people hostage, hoping the Israelis kill them.  It's like strapping each Hamas soldier with a dozen babies.  Hamas is doing their absolute level best to guarantee civilian casualties.  They want them.  They count on them.  They know that civilian casualties are the only way they can "win" this war.  In the press.  With the "low information voters", the useful idiots, and the rest of the media. 
Marking the end of her contentious, six-year term as chairman of the notoriously anti-Israel UNHRC, Pillay saved her harshest condemnations for what she termed Israeli "targeting" of UN-run schools and hospitals in Gaza. She did not mention, nor was she reminded by any of the reporters present, that as of this writing, at least three UN-run schools in Gaza have been used as rocket warehouses, a gross violation of international law that clearly falls within the category of war crimes. Neither did she mention, nor was she reminded, that in at least two of the three cases cited above, the terror rockets found on UN property in Gaza were returned to Hamas by the UN.
Regrettably, she's not alone in not supplying a gram of Zombie Chow.  The Blaze reports today that a reporter for the Finnish "Helsingin Sanomat" filed a report on a missile being fired at Israel from a hospital, the same hospital hit by a Hamas missile earlier this week, a missile that Israel's IDF recorded the launch and impact of.  But instead of thanking Israeli news reports for using her story and byline, the brain dead reporter was offended that her report was being used by Israel.  Gosh, we sure wouldn't want any truth getting out now, would we?

(Back story: I had written all of this piece except for a conclusion, and then saw Mrs. Graybeard's computer with this cartoon on Sense of Events)

In the classic mindset of the left all of human interaction comes down to one principle: there are oppressors and there are victims.  Israel is a civilized, advanced culture, which places a social premium on knowledge and accomplishment.  The Palestinians are not - it's no small coincidence that the Nigerian Muslim terrorist group with similar beliefs as Hamas calls themselves Boko Haram: Western Education is a sin.  Therefore, in leftist view, Israel must be the oppressor and the Palestinians the oppressed victims.  It's the only way the doctrinaire leftists and most media (again, I repeat myself) are going to structure this story.