Friday, May 17, 2013
'Nother Friday Timewaster
My best score so far: 9,067 points. Post yours in comments.
Labels: wasting away...
53,211. Not including the garage. Anybody got a good recipe for Tribble Fritters?
CAD/CAM files (the computer files that 3D printers transform into physical objects one layer at a time) for the .45 caliber M1911 or the 1911A-1 single-action, semi-automatic pistol have been online for years. In fact, you can find all kinds of CAD/CAMs for all kinds of gun parts, bomb parts, bazooka parts, rocket launcher parts and other deadly weapons online. These are computer files, like songs or movies or documents or images, they cannot be protected or digitally rights managed (DRM) any better than the entertainment industry has done with its intellectual property. A file is a file is a file, if someone wants to copy it – it will be copied. You can’t tell what the file contains unless you open it and, most importantly, there is no way to ban or prohibit the transfer of files. In this case, the genie is out of the bottle, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, the ship has sailed – the files are out there.
Plastic guns? Seriously. How about guns printed in steel, guns printed in carbon fiber, guns printed in, you name it – there’s a 3D printer that can print in the medium. In a world of 3D printers, there is no such thing as gun control – people who are so inclined will print all the guns and ammo they need – untraceable, no serial numbers, no markings about point of origin, no trade marks, nothing!
That’s the dark side of this technology. However, the benefits of 3D printing are overwhelmingly positive.
This is a picture of a 3D printed replacement part for a baby stroller. It was printed at a 3D printing bureau called Shapeways. You can think of Shapeways as a Kinkos for 3D printing. Shapeways prints in all kinds of materials, including stainless steel.
One of the employees of Shapeways needed a replacement part for his kid’s stroller, so he emailed the manufacturer and they emailed him a CAD/CAM file for the part. He printed two of them in stainless steel...
This stainless steel part was annealed, deburred in a tub of ceramic balls and looks exactly like the spare part the manufacturer would have sent him. The difference is profound. The replacement part was printed on demand. The spare part would have to have been manufactured in advance, stored on a shelf, picked, packed and shipped. Rent would have been paid on the real estate the physical spare part occupied and it would have to be kept in stock during the entire useful life of the particular stroller design.
In the twentieth century, several technologies profoundly changed human existence. Electrical transmission, the internal combustion engine, the aircraft, the electronic computer. Obviously I have no way of knowing what that list will look like for the twenty-first century, but I can tell you one that will definitely be on it: replicators. Get used to it.
Peeling the Onion
Rival sci-fi clubs had to be separated by ‘the force’ when police were called to break up feuding fans at a Star Wars convention.The family event threatened to turn to the dark side and escalate into a fight between costumed characters when visiting Doctor Who fans clashed with Star Wars enthusiasts.
Soniclightscrewsaberdriver, activated! There's a good reason it's called the TARD-is...
Hat-tip to Shark
Labels: wasting away...
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Aiiighhh!!! We're all gonna DIIIIIIIE!!!11
American eaters, let's talk about the birds and the bees: The U.S. food supply—from chickens injected with arsenic to dying bee colonies—is under unprecedented siege from a blitz of man-made hazards, meaning some of your favorite treats someday may vanish from your plate, experts say.
"We are in the midst of dramatic assault on the security of the food supply," said Dr. Robert S. Lawrence, director of the Center for a Livable Future, part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The group promotes ecological research into the nexus of diet, food production, environment and human health.
Heavier than normal spring rains have put the corn crop far behind schedule: Only 28 percent of corn fields have been planted this year compared with 85 percent at this time in 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile, drought in the Southeastern plains and a poor hay yield have culled the U.S. cattle and calf herd to its lowest level since 1952, propelling the wholesale price of a USDA cut of choice beef to a new high on May 3—$201.68 per 100 pounds, eclipsing the old mark of $201.18 from October 2003, the USDA reports.
The primary culprit of all this menu mayhem is climate change...
That's right, it's
Doomed, I say to you! So take that cupcake outta your mouth and think about the planet, you selfish pig. If you don't, we'll send out the Bloomberg/Hopkins brown shirts to pour Evian down your throat and strap you to a (non-powered) treadmill. And there will you languish in misery, until you slim up and see the wonderful qualities of moderate amounts of unflavored tofu -- organically grown in underprivileged countries, of course.
The Liberator Effect
Downloading the gun’s blueprints has become a kind of “Streisand effect” says Michael Guslick, a hobbyist gunsmith and one of the first engineers to write about his experiments in printing and testing 3D-printable firearm components. Guslick printed his own Liberator using a printer similar to Defense Distributed’s (shown above) and has been searching for others who have printed the gun over the last week.
He says he’s found that only a small fraction of those who download the gun’s blueprints are actually putting them to use. But he compares the weapon’s CAD file to the encryption program PGP, the first strong cryptographic software available to non-government users, which like the Liberator became the target of a State Department investigation for export control violations after it was released online in 1993. “ A lot of people downloaded [PGP's] source code, but very few compiled it,” says Guslick. “It became an act of passive rebellion.”
By the time the State Department decided not to indict PGP’s creator Philip Zimmermann, three years later, his tool had already spread around the world and helped to inspire a cypherpunk movement that created everything from WikiLeaks to Bitcoin. If the backlash against the Liberator’s takedown follows a similar path, the evolution of the 3D-printed gun may be just beginning.
It is interesting that when the issue is something like WikiLeaks, the lefties get all lubed around the labia about freedom of information and the Fourth Amendment, but when it's about something they don't like -- e.g., guns -- suddenly they're all in favor of strict government controls. Yet again their elitist attitude rears its ugly, wart-covered head.
Pimpin' old skool
Some of the activities taking place at Englewood’s senior citizen housing complex were a long way from canasta... A man, 75, and a woman, 66, suspected of using cocaine and running a prostitution ring out of their apartments at the Vincente K. Tibbs Senior Citizen Building have been arrested after residents complained about vagrants, drunks and addicts invading their building, authorities said.
Well, they do say you should engage in a hobby or two when you retire.
A Kings Mountain woman was arrested Saturday and charged with assault inflicting serious injury after beating another woman with a Bible, according to arrest warrants. The attack caused numerous abrasions on the other woman's head, face and arms, according to the court document.
Moore was charged with a second assault charge inflicting serious injury after striking a man with her fist causing numerous abrasions on his head, face and arms and a knot near his right eye, according to the warrant.
Maybe they were money changers.
Labels: tuned in
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Ban the Banning!
Since actually reading the article will raise your blood pressure to unhealthy levels and make you want to throw things (or people), I'll give you a little synopsis:
Step 1: Mouthy Punk is constantly mouthing off, defying teachers, disrupting classes, and generally being a Mouthy Punk.
Step 2: Mouthy Punk is suspended.
Step 3: Mouthy Punk and Mother Punk get the red ass, complain to school board that Mouthy isn't learning anything. Because, you know, he's suspended. For being Mouthy Punk.
Step 4: School board, most distraught over Mouthy Punk's lack of educational opportunity, introduces resolution to ban suspensions for "willful defiance."
**fast forward 10 years**
Headline: "L.A. Public School System Shuts Down, Gangs Rule Streets"
This is the largest (and brokest) state in the union. What do you think is going to happen when it inevitably spirals down into complete economic and social collapse? You think it'll be good for those of us in places like Texas, Florida, et al, where we still use our brains for something besides separating our ears?
Secede now. Beat the rush.
As a side note, I absolutely adore this style of commercial art from the 50s and 60s. The limited color palette and faux-realism rendering lend it a unique charm that instantly places the viewer in period. I can stare at these kinds of images for hours, imagining a perfect world that never was.
The Wrong Side of History
Hat-tip to Vizigoth
A suspected poacher has reportedly been trampled to death by an elephant as he tried to shoot the beast in Zimbabwe. The bloodied remains of Solomon Manjoro were found by rangers...
Reminds me of that old grade school joke about the black goo between an elephant's toes.
Police: Family attacked for being in "wrong neighborhood"Wrong neighbor hood? Well this must be a case of racism... lets read.
At the corner of Plank Road and Scenic Highway in Baton Rouge sits a Chevron gas station. It's off I-110 near Memorial Stadium. A family stopped there to get gas Sunday around 10 p.m.
Stubbs said a man wearing a pink shirt was in line trying to pay for gas when Donald Dickerson, 41, started making fun of him, leading to an argument. "The defendant (Dickerson) approached the white male victim," the police report stated. It went on to read, "the defendant told him he was in the wrong neighborhood and he was not going to make it out." The victim said that's when he "was punched and knocked to the ground."Threatened and then assaulted, sounds pretty good so far.To speed things up the wife and daughter were also punched by two other subjects and the mother and father were knocked unconscious. Dad had his eye socket broken and a broken nose. One person was arrested and the other two were cited on scene. In other words given a ticket for assault. Sounds pretty good for hate crime right. One problem for the Baton Rouge police, the victim was white and the offenders were black, soooooo,
As to whether this falls under a hate crime, police said early reports show it does not meet the statute but remains under investigation.Now personally, I think hate crime laws are very bad. They are Thought crimes, and banning thought even this abhorrent one is not what we are about. The reason behind the assault only matters for if it was in defense. In other words guy takes a swing at someone and receives a beat down for his troubles, thats on him. No harm no foul. However, you just whip someone's ass for a verbal argument? That's on you and you go to Jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.00. I believe in the law, but if you are going to create some idiot law such as this, it needs to be administered equally. To everyone, not just white on minority. Oh, and as to the headline. If this had been the other way around it would have been the lead story on all the morning shows. Since it wasn't, nary a peep.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Big Boy Toys
Honda CB1100 Review
The original Honda CB series motorcycles from the 1970s were billed as "commuter bikes." They were inexpensive, easy to ride, quick (for the time) and low-maintenance. Unlike American motorcycles of the period, they were built for people who just wanted a motorcycle, rather than so-called enthusiasts who enjoyed tinkering in the garage as much as riding. In a real sense, the CBs started the "motorcycle revolution" that led to the proliferation of motorcycle types and brands which we enjoy today.
Honda has a well-earned reputation for reliability, fit-and-finish, and quality engineering. The CB1100 does not disappoint that legacy. Everything about the bike is tight, well thought-out, and precisely designed. For example, the riding position is a perfect compromise between a cruiser and a sportbike. The pegs are high enough that you can lean far over into a corner, long past the point that a typical cruiser is digging them into the pavement. But they're not "torture rack" high like the typical sportbike. The tank is prominent and comfortable, just right for laying over under hard acceleration, but lacking the "camel's hump" on sportbikes, which tends to limit those motorcycles to young flat-bellies. My days of being a flat-belly are long behind me.
Likewise, the center of gravity is high enough to create a feeling of agility that cruisers lack, while still maintaining a seat position that allows you to get heels-down at a stop light. The handlebars are high enough to keep your weight off your hands, but low enough to push the bike down into a fast corner smoothly and confidently. While sportbikes sacrifice comfort for performance, and cruisers sacrifice performance for comfort, the CB1100 finds the exact middle ground between those two design principles. The engine is an 1100 inline four, but it is not tuned purely for acceleration. It's got a wide torque range that creates plenty of power across the entire tach. You can roll it from a dead stop in fourth gear with a little judicious clutch feathering, but get it in the power band (about 4,000 to 7,000 rpm) and a quick twist of the throttle will get the front wheel twitching for some air at 60 mph. A little tug, and you're doing something no middle-aged married man has any business doing... Not that it will stop you from doing so, or lessen the huge grin it puts on your face when the ensuing endorphin/adrenalin cocktail temporarily lifts a few decades of age from your shoulders.
That's not to say you're going to stomp a sportbike off the line. While it will still grab a three-and-half second zero-to-sixty, a modern liter bike will shave nearly a second off that time. And you're not going to be taking any long touring excursions on it, either; an hour in the rather firm saddle is about the limit, especially for the 40-something target market, (of which I am precisely in the middle).
It's not perfect, of course. A couple of little niggles that stand out are the single trumpet exhaust and the chain drive. The old CBs had four-deuce and four-into-four exhausts. I do understand why they went with a four-into-one on this bike: it's mainly for maintenance, since the trumpet is off-side from the chain. Which brings me to the other point: chain drive. Chains have some real advantages: they produce instant power response from engine to the rear wheel, they can't slip like belts, and they don't cause torque-induced jumps during power-on shifting as shaft drives are prone to do. But there's a downside, and it's not minor: chain drives are finicky creatures. You have to keep the proper amount of lube on them at all times and they tend to stretch over time, requiring periodic adjustment.
Those minor quibbles aside, the CB1100 is a fun motorcycle. It just begs you to ride it when you see it sitting in the garage: "Psst! Over here! Just a short hop, man. Come on... fifteen minutes. We need some speed!" I suspect that Honda was aiming for an ideal blend of rideability and performance, and I think they hit that goal precisely. It's comfortable, but not too comfortable. It's fast, but not too fast. It's attractive, but not gaudy.
That last, in fact, is where the designers have really hit a home run. I have had several occasions for people to question me about the bike: taking a break at a gas station on a popular riding route, at business meetings, even in traffic at stop lights. The one comment that keeps coming up over and over is "that's a great-looking old Honda!" That's a compliment, of course, because nearly everyone who says it is a middle-aged male. After I explain that it's actually a 2013 model, a brief conversation usually ensues: they rode their CB750 from Newark to Houston in 1979 to start a new career, or their dad hounded them for buying a Jap bike, but then bought one himself after surreptitiously taking it for a spin one night. The stories are as varied as the admirers. But they all admire it, because more than anything else, the CB1100 is about nostalgia and style. Its design hearkens back to a time when superbikes had yet to be invented and Harley-Davidson was owned by AMF, who were busily churning out crap on wheels.
I can sense a central undercurrent in all of those stories, though. You can see it in the eyes of a fifty-something man when he looks at the bike. In their mind's eye, they are seeing the world when they were young and the Honda CB was an obtainable dream, one which represented freedom and individuality. Honda has succeeded in recapturing at least a little of that feeling with the CB1100.
+ Perfect balance between performance and comfort
+ Style, baby
+ Honda reliability
- Single trumpet exhaust eats into the styling a little
- Seat could use a bit more padding
- Chain drive
Until just a few minutes ago, I would have unhesitatingly pronounced the answer to be "the nineteenth century." I would have been wrong.
This is the city of Shibam in Yemen. It was built on one of the old spice trading routes, and features high-rise (eight story) buildings which are made of mud. Many of them date back to the 16th century.
Now you've learned something for the day. Piclick for more.
While Bill Clinton's version looks like the waiting room of a two dollar cathouse...
Notice the table in Bill's version. Can't have table dances without a table, now can you? And see those things that look like sideboards? Yeah, beer coolers. There's a Chevy big block (partially disassembled) in the next room.
Never thought I'd miss Bill Clinton, but Dumbo has accomplished the feat for me.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The magnitude of this feat is difficult to comprehend. Imagine you wanted to acquire an original Model T, but none were available. "No problem," you say. "I'll just go buy a bunch of sand and iron ore, grow some rubber trees from saplings and get to work! I can copy this photo I found in the basement..."
Give it a spin. OpenXcom.
Labels: wasting away...
Thursday, May 09, 2013
Bat-Moth Arms Race
Members of my laboratory discovered that Ecuadorian tiger moths...produce a cacophony of clicks when they are targeted by an echolocating bat. The moths intercept the sonar signals of an approaching predator using “bat detectors”—ears tuned to high frequencies—and answer them. The anti-bat sounds are produced by blisters of cuticle called tymbal organs located on either side of the thorax. Each tymbal has 30 or so ridges on it, arranged in a striated band. During activation, underlying muscles deform each ridge in succession, producing a train of clicks. The tymbal produces a second train as it returns elastically to its original shape. The anti-bat clicks are produced at a rate of up to 4,500 clicks per second, meaning that over half of the time that the bat is trying to process echoes, it is also receiving spurious moth-created clicks. This behavior is the hallmark of a sonar jammer. The tymbal organs are a characteristic of Bertholdia and its relatives, and their taxonomic distribution suggests that the organ is an ancient weapon against sonar-wielding bats.
My graduate student Aaron Corcoran determined that Bertholdia’s broadband clicks cause hunting bats to miss their targeted prey both in the laboratory and in the field... Corcoran also showed that jamming moths produce their signals only when the bat has “locked on” to them and they are in great danger. The moth determines this threat by sensing a combination of increasing bat cry intensity and a decrease in the interval between bat cries. The threshold for sound production in Bertholdia is closely matched to these parameters and allows the moth to unambiguously determine whether it has been targeted.
The latest known escalation of the bat–moth arms race is the discovery of a stealth bat by Holger Goerlitz, Marc Holderied and their colleages at the University of Bristol. The aerially hawking bat Barbastella barbastellus has lowered the intensity of its echolocation calls by 10 to 100 times. This shift allows them to remain undetected by eared moths until they are very close and the outcome is a fait accompli.
Clever monkeys though we sometimes are, we can't hold a candle to millions of years of experimentation and field tests conducted by Mother Nature. That's why I'm convinced things like faster-than-light travel and time travel are possible: we don't have to figure out how to do it, because Nature has already done so. All we have to discover is how Nature accomplished it.
Labels: tuned in
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
I'm leaning toward the latter one at this point, but I'm not yet committed.
My bike has the silver side covers, by the way, not the red ones. Only the tank is red on my bike. Click each pic for more images.