Cheat, Steal, Collude… Trump Did It All

“Facebook said late Friday that it had suspended Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), along with its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica, for violating its policies around data collection and retention. The companies, which ran data operations for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign, are widely credited with helping Trump more effectively target voters on Facebook than his rival, Hillary Clinton.”
See Facebook suspended Donald Trump’s data operations team for misusing people’s personal information
Clearly, Trump has no hesitation in hiring the worst human beings on the planet when it comes to human things like having a conscience and listening to it or being loyal to one’s country/government/oath. He’s cheated on his wives. He’s bullied all kinds of people. He catered to Russia to help his schemes for greatness and greed. He has not the guts to tell someone to their face that they are fired, despite “The Apprentice”, and clearly he feels contracts are for other people to follow. His campaign stole data from FaceBook despite terms of service and used it to target voters.

If the GOP won’t do it, the Ds should immediately after they return to power in Congress impeach the bastard.

Posted in politics, technology | Tagged , , , | 36 Comments

Another Bridge To Nowhere

I live a few miles from a bridge to nowhere. It was built a few miles from a centre of population. There was a bridge already at that place and another a few miles south. It cost $millions and is of questionable value. I’ve been over it a few times and it’s a lonely place. Usually there is not a single vehicle on it for long periods of time.

The bridge to nowhere in the news recently is a little different. There was a need for it but it had to be an engineering marvel to avoid disrupting a massive stream of traffic. It was designed to be moved suddenly into place with only a brief disruption late one night… It was a fine plan. It made the news. People loved it.

There was one dreadful weakness in the plan however. It was made of reinforced concrete. The marvellous structure was intended to be supported by a column bearing suspension cables and the reinforcements at each end were to be tied into concrete and steel at both ends. Wonderful. Marvellous. It wasn’t installed properly. Recently, a span was put into place and it was left to bake in the sun and shake with traffic moving underneath with no suspension and no tension in the reinforcing steel. That’s a crime. The engineers who planned the installation should be locked up forever for the lives they’ve taken.

Let me be more clear. Concrete is marvellous. It can be shaped smoothly, coloured brightly, made graceful in appearance, and has high compressive strength. Compression happens in the upper member of an “S” beam, which this bridge resembles, as the span sags slightly under its own weight. The crime, however, is that the lower member upon which pedestrians were to walk, is under tension as the bridge sags, not compression. To counter that, the normal procedure is to use steel rods, cables or beams in the lower member to hold everything up. The concrete keeps the steel parts in line. The steel keeps the concrete parts from coming apart. The steel still sags however and must be anchored at both ends and supported from above in this elegant long span. It wasn’t.

So, the span is resting there, shining in the sun, a thing of beauty. Heating, cooling and the rumbling of the traffic causes a crack anywhere in that span and the crack grows, just like in your windshield… Finally, a piece of concrete falls away anywhere along the span. The whole apple-cart is now upset. Steel moves out of position. More concrete crumbles under tension. The thing fails like cloth ripping. Stresses build at the weakest point until the span falls down like it did this afternoon crushing people moving underneath.

Look at the pictures of the scene. Notice the fractured concrete, not at the lower edges but at the upper edges. Under compression when the cracks grew there as the span bent further the concrete disintegrated and the last measure of rigidity exploded in fragments. Hundreds of tons falling several metres is like a horrible mouse-trap, only there were humans underneath. The only thing that saved any was that the lower parts of the bridge fell in chunks around the bending/failing points.

This is a catastrophe. It was totally unnecessary. It was preventable. Multiple people had to make multiple unsound judgments to make it happen. They need to rot in jail if not to be killed. The bridge would have worked as planned if it were made of steel only, not concrete. The bridge would have worked as planned if the reinforcements had been suspended and anchored properly. Instead, lives have been lost, useful technology will be forever linked to disaster, and the life-saving passage across a busy road will be delayed a year or more. How many more will have to die because of this crime?

UPDATEHere’s a video of the collapse. Early on in the process, the bridge bent/broke at the first reinforcement position on the top side. It needed that suspension. It wasn’t there.

Posted in technology | Tagged | 20 Comments

.45-70 and Unique

“I think a very safe general-purpose Unique load is to find the volume that will just overflow the case, and half that for a Unique load (with no heavier than middle-weight bullets). This is about 15gr with a .308, probably 16-17gr with a .30-06, and right about 20gr with a .45-70 case.”
See .45-70 and Unique, how hot can I load it?
I’m new to reloading and shooting .45-70. Observations right off the top?

  • Retail jacketed bullets are outrageously expensive.
  • Plated swaged lead bullets are better.
  • I might have to cast bullets.
  • A variety of powders work well and they are all expensive these days.

So, what’s a cheapskate like me to do? One thing I can do is use the fastest burning powder that works for plinking and deer. So far, I’ve tried Unique, IMR4227, and H4198. H4198 seems very popular for lighter bullets and full power loads. Unique gives much less recoil and may be good enough for deer at close range.

I tried loads from 15 to 18 grains of Unique behind 350 grain FN bullets with LOA 2.462 inches. I’ve made a new batch with 19-21 grains Unique with LOA 2.514. That should be near maximum, reaching ~1700 ft/s) and still save me a ton of money for powder. We shall see. Unique was not widely available here but IMR (Division of Hodgdon) now offers “Unequal“. At least, temporarily, my favourite supplier is offering 14 oz at a lower price per pound than in 8 pound jugs. I might take him up on the offer if this test works. Saving half the price of powder and switching to cast bullets might make .45-70 even more fun to shoot.

Posted in firearms, hunting, technology | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Night Of The Undead – GOP Teeters

“Democrat Conor Lamb and Republican Rick Saccone are locked in a neck and neck battle to decide who will represent Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District.
After a long night of drama, the race is still too close to call. Lamb holds a slight lead over Saccone with 100% of the Election Day vote tallied, but absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted. It would be an significant uphill climb for Saccone to overtake Lamb.”
See‘It’s not over yet:’ Nail-biter Pennsylvania special election heads into 2nd day
I can do the maths. The Democrats have won the 18th congressional district back from the GOP after decades. They did this despite:

  • Trump’s inspiration,
  • Trump having won there in 2016 by 20%,
  • tariffs on steel negatively affecting the US economy and a fraction of the steel-importing world,
  • the GOP cheating by gerrymandering, and
  • the GOP having dumped in $millions, about $10/vote to try to win.

All in all it was quite a night. Just like the first battles that showed the Nazis were not invincible in WWII, we see clearly that the House of Representatives is available to the Democrats.
One word describes the eventual result, IMPEACHMENT! The abuse hurled at Democrats by the GOP in the House and by Trump, the repeated demonstration of corruption in the White House, and the low job approval amongst voters will inspire a long list of impeachable offences in the House. The Senate also teeters. If they try hard, Congress could do the impeachment in a day. Then they’ll have to deal with Pence. I reckon he could not be worse than Trump. The icing on this cake would be the GOP deciding to impeach before the election. The division within the GOP would then ensure the Democrats win in 2018 but the GOP would certainly not be burdened by Trump in 2020. With Trump gone, the GOP will have a chance then.

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

The Trumpian Wall

I laughed to hear how Trump is choosing his design of wall, with a roll on top to make it harder to climb over.

I am not a great climber. I used to climb ladders and the occasional tree in my youth, but even I could get over his wall multiple ways:

  1. From one side find or make an anchor for a climbing rope. Using a mortar or some other kind of launcher, send a pointed and barbed missile over the wall dragging a rope. Pull the rope tight and tie it to the anchoring point. Climb the rope to reach the top of the wall. Rappel or slide down the other side of the rope. With a bit of practice (Yes, bad guys can build a wall and practise climbing it…), this would take five minutes, tops. Once your guy is on the other end he can send over a conveyor rope and pull people and lower them down the other side. It’s slow but at a few $thousand per person profitable.
  2. Bad guys can afford explosives. Design a breaching charge that works and blast through the wall at 50 points at 2am some night and flood the zone. The wall might as well not be there.
  3. Some of the walls have a crevice between two sections. Climbers can drive pitons into those crevices and install rope ladders/elevators/conveyors just like Macy’s.
  4. Oh, then there’s the old-fashioned ladder. Make one with a hook on top to fit the wall. Send your guy up to install the ladder and hoist another over the wall to work on the far side. Able-bodied folks can climb up one ladder and down the other. Take the ladders down when done or abandon them. They cost ~$100.
  5. Fly over either with a visa or illegally. That’s how most border-crossings that result in illegal immigration are done now without the wall. It’s easier than hiking in the desert.

So, Trump’s wall is irrelevant and expensive, serving only to make the process of smuggling people/drugs/money/weapons more profitable. But, hay! If it creates one job, eh?

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

First Impressions Of The Marlin 1895

I’ve never liked lever action rifles. The most common types have a rear locking lug on the bolt which is lifted up by the lever. There are way more moving parts and more room for slop than my favourite action, the bolt action. I chose a H&R Buffalo Classic as my .45-70 rifle, a decent single-shot rifle. Unfortunately, Remington really messed up when they acquired H&R and they stopped making the Buffalo Classic. Mine would not even lock up properly and Remington stated they could not repair it. Thus, I was given a Marlin 1895 as a substitute. Remington had acquired Marlin and similarly messed up but apparently fixed the problems.

In appearance my Marlin is just about perfect. I saw no flaws at all in the fit and finish. Yesterday we gave it a further test, firing a variety of rounds that I created behind the Berry’s Bullets 350 RSFP. The Marlin would not seat these bullets out very far so I used a Length Over All of just 2.514 inches, much less than the SAAMI spec of 2.550 inches. That’s of no account for this bullet which is recommended for use at 1700 ft/s or less. I picked several loads from various reloading manuals and interpolated somewhat where necessary. These are the loads we tested:

Powder Charge (grains) Notes
Unique 15-18 All were pleasant to shoot and grouped well at 25 yards
IMR4227 37 Also decent with a bit more recoil than the Unique
H4198 39.5 The most recoil by far

For all combinations, the bullets held together and were stable in flight with no keyholing. We crimped none of them and observed no movement of the bullets in the magazine. Charges burned cleanly with very little smoke and no visible residue left in the barrel. We also did penetration testing. Even though these bullets are not recommended for hunting we found they will penetrate 4 inches of green poplar with some expansion. We had to put the rear sight up to its maximum height to zero at 25 yards and impact was a foot low at 100 yards even with the H4198 load. My eyes didn’t work well at all with the iron sights so I will be putting a scope on this rifle. Our rounds fed singly and from the magazine and ejected easily from the rifle.

Despite firing ~20 rounds some with stout recoil very little pain was suffered and no bruising. The recoil pad is thin and firm, not squishy at all. The trigger was very crisp and not too heavy. The lever worked smoothly. We did find that loading the last round into the magazine through the slot was difficult. Fingers or gloves like to get caught pushing the last round far enough up for the gate to close. I suppose we can get used to it but for hunting, I may just use this rifle as a single-shot. If one of these rocks won’t stop a deer nothing will.

This rifle has multiple safeties:

  1. half-cock on the hammer,
  2. cross-bolt safety blocking the hammer,
  3. two piece firing pin not lined up until the lug engages the bolt, and
  4. a trigger disconnect on the lever.

The sights and the feeding gate were the only difficulties we encountered. I think this rifle will be a great deer/bear rifle in the bush. Even though I will miss the 32 inch barrel of the Buffalo Classic this rifle will have enough range and power for the shooting I will do. We will develop a stiffer load using a strong jacketed bullet for shooting to about 250 yards.

Posted in firearms, technology | Tagged , , , | 18 Comments

Trump’s UnClean Energy Policies

“Where the previous administration aimed to double funding for clean energy research, this administration is pushing to cut it in half, threatening to leave the United States lagging behind its overseas competitors, like China, which aims to spend more than $7 billion on clean energy research by the end of 2020. By some measures, the United States has already taken a back seat to several European countries — including Norway, Denmark and Estonia — which spend more on wind and solar research relative to the size of their economies.”
See Trump Wants To Cut Clean Energy Research Funding In Half
I’ve never liked Trump. He is a childish pompous ass. He has simplistic solutions to everything and is ignorant of anything not in front of him, like clean energy.

Ignorance is forgivable but this is wilful ignorance. If it was a cheaper way to get petroleum out of the ground or a bigger bomb, Trump would be all for government investing heavily in the technology but with promise to slow/stop the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere, explore new horizons and gain independence from suppliers of dirty energy with renewable energy, Trump is wilfully ignorant. He’s hired people who believe conspiracy theories and deny science. He’s investing in new bombs, something totally perverse to growing the economy and making lives better.

Here’s to impeachment in 2018/2019. It’s obvious to just about everyone but Trumpists that Trump has no endurance politically. He’s offended or hurt just about every clear-thinking human being on the planet. Fortunately, that’s a majority of voters in the coming mid-term elections. If Congress goes to the Ds this year, impeachment will happen if the Rs don’t see the writing on the wall and get it done sooner. I doubt the Rs will do what’s right and will ride the sinking ship claiming it was all Trump’s fault instead of offending Trumpists. My worst case projection is that Congress becomes hopelessly deadlocked, doing nothing on any front for the next three years. That will allow Trump’s current policies to kill the economic growth for years to come and even trigger a huge downturn. A correction is due and with government running record deficits and no balanced budget in the good times, there’s no smooth recovery in the offing. That would also further delay adoption of clean energy and undo a lot of good work by people all over the world.

Posted in investing, politics, technology | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

Electra Meccanica Vehicles – Miracle In The Dragons’ Den

Jerry Kroll from Vancouver, B.C., pitches his solo electric vehicle to the Dragons.You could have knocked me over with a feather when CEO Jerry Kroll received the offer he wanted from one of the Dragons, $25million for 40% share! Thus falls the last obstacle except one, certification, which has been in the works for many months now. I’m thinking certification is a lot more likely than getting $25million more to invest in factory.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , | 49 Comments

Oh No! Not Peanuts!

“Peanuts and peanut butter are popular in Canada. According to a 2016 survey of Canadian consumers, 95% eat peanuts and 97% eat peanut butter; 79% eat peanut butter at least once per week. The average Canadian eats nearly 3 kg of peanuts per year!
Canada is the largest single country importer of U.S. peanuts. More than 85 per cent of the peanuts consumed in Canada are obtained from a choice of 25,000 growers from the United States.”
See Peanuts in Canada
I read an article about the EU putting up tariffs on peanuts from USA in an early salvo in the USA v World trade war. I love peanuts. I eat them roasted, in cookies and muffins and cakes and peanut butter. Canada grows only a fraction of the peanuts consumed here so if Canada put up such a tariff, I would suffer. I could try growing soy beans which resemble peanuts in flavour.

Damn Trump! Impeachment is overdue!

Posted in politics | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Waiting for Spring

Well, we got a glancing blow from a “Colorado low” today and it dumped about a foot of wet snow on us. Today, the temperature was around melting when the storm was gone except for some wind and I fired up the old snowblower. Promptly the snow chute fell off… That’s the second time a plastic collar that holds the chute onto the machine cracked in the cold and vibration. I could replace it for less than $50 but then it occurred to me that the snowblower is about 25 years old and owes me nothing. It has done a decent job except in very deep or hard-packed or wet snow. If I fix the chute again, what will fail next? I might be investing in scrap iron. I know the engine is still worth keeping but the rest could be scrapped without shedding a tear.

Since it’s end of season, I might be able to find a new one at a good price. Something more to buy. Now, I was able to clear the driveway by letting the blower throw snow skyward and the wind took it away and this may be the last snowstorm of the season. Dare I wait until next year to buy a new snowblower? As Trump would say, “We’ll see…”.

Posted in technology, weather | Tagged , , | 19 Comments

The Meltdown Continues

“Over the weekend, the world’s northernmost weather station, located just 440 miles from the North Pole, warmed to 43 degrees Fahrenheit during what’s normally the coldest time of the year. That’s about 60 degrees above average for February. The rising temperatures, caused by a “warm air intrusion,” have left scientists in shock. Sea ice in the region is also at its lowest level on record.”
See Arctic temperatures are so high they’re shocking scientists
The Arctic has exported its severe winter weather over much of the northern hemisphere leaving warm air in its place. So, we’re getting winter after winter that are very mild and the polar bears have less ice for feeding.

Temporarily, this is not a bad thing for me. I hate winter but it’s a necessary part of life in Canada. Trees get to sleep on stored energy for a burst of new growth in the summer. Wolves and coyotes get to catch deer in deep snow. Drier prairies accumulate snow for starting the next crop. All of that is in jeopardy if the weather warms much more. Temporarily, my most tender trees get to survive winter and more deer will survive but are droughts on the way? What other bad news will global warming give us?

It’s time to arrest the criminal dumping of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. It’s time to use renewable energy so the biosphere can have some stability. It’s time to drive electric and invest in solar, wind, geothermal and tidal/wave energy, stuff that will last millenia with fewer side-effects.

Posted in horticulture, technology | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Crime And Self-Inflicted Punishment

“To create the false 2016 P&L, on or about October 21, 2016, Manafort emailed Gates a .pdf version of the real 2016 DMI P&L, which showed a loss of more than $600,000. Gates converted that .pdf into a “Word” document so that it could be edited, which Gates sent back to Manafort. Manafort altered that “Word” document by adding more than $3.5 million in income. He then sent this falsified P&L to Gates and asked that the “Word” document be converted back to a .pdf, which Gates did and returned to Manafort. Manafort then sent the falsified 2016 DMI P&L .pdf to Lender D.”
See Paul Manafort couldn’t convert PDFs to Word documents.
Sheesh! It has been stated that smart people use GNU/Linux and stupid people are locked in to That Other OS. This could be another example of that phenomenon. Trump shouted to the world that the folks in power were “stupid” and he would hire the smartest people to run things… He lied…

Trump actually hired as manager of his election campaign a guy who could not convert formats of documents. Instead, these criminals shared files by e-mail creating a trail for Mueller to follow, oh, and yes, one of them flipped and will testify against the other…

One has to wonder why Trump hired all these guys with connections to Russia who were up to their necks in illegal practices… Could it be that Trump was doing much the same? Further, why did Manafort join Trump’s campaign? Was it because his Russian masters wanted that to happen? Perhaps Trump’s Russian managers suggested the hiring. 2018 should be a very good year for those who want to know.

Posted in technology | Tagged , , , , , , , | 56 Comments