Mail 762 Thursday, February 14, 2013
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Walking map of Boston from google maps, and knapping
I typed your starting destination, CVS, and USS Constitution into Google Maps and got your probable route, with the beta walking directions selection set. If it is accurate, you would have doubled your travel distance. While regrettable, skipping it may have been the better part of valor on your part. I could probably do this on my iPhone, but I find the controls difficult to use with uncorrected vision — and usually therefore impossible while actually walking.
I have not a similar relationship with a flint knapper to that you have described, but in my very limited study of knapping, it seems as if one might often try new hammer stones from the local environment. Perhaps the likelihood of accidentally finding pyrite, ferrous ore, or the odd chunk of meteorite is increased? Iron bearing stone is really common in the Eastern U.S. and Canada, and around the Great Lakes. Early English settlers set up smelting from ore, and I know of one Adirondak swordsmith that gets his raw materials from local stone.
Somewhat connected to some of your other recent threads, I hereby pledge my personal political support to any neo-Neanderthal that in future you care to nominate for federal office, provided he or she is smart enough to bang two rocks together. In the meantime, I suppose I’ll have to settle for the level of talent offered by the candidates of the two major parties. The current crop of Cro-Magnon somehow often fail to meet the standard.
The Westin Waterfront is in the Waterfront area of South Boston. "Southie" has a checkered history. It has traditionally been an area where successive waves of immigrants settled, most notably Irish. For most of the nearly 40 years that I have been in the Boston area, the waterfront was pretty run down (with the exception of a couple of excellent restaurants including Anthony’s Pier 4 and the "No Name" seafood restaurant).
When elevated highways were all the rage in the 1950′s, the major north-south interstate (I-93) cut the community (and several others) in half. That was remedied by the "Big Dig" project of the 1980′s and 1990′s which depressed the interstate into a tunnel and created the Rose Kennedy Greenway at ground level where the highway substructure had been. Boston politics being what they are, development of the area has been slow and full of contention. At one point the area was considered as a new home for the Boston Red Sox, until the Sox decided to renovate 100-year-old Fenway Park instead. A casino was also considered at one point.
In the last few years redevelopment of the area has stated in earnest, with the new convention center and a few new hotels. I think that retail districts (including pharmacies) are bound to follow.
The ship you saw was indeed the Constitution, across the mouth of the Charles River in Charlestown.
The remnants of the Blue Laws in Massachusetts dictate no wine, beer, or liquor for sale in pharmacies or food stores, only in liquor stores and "package stores" (convenience stores).
New Hampshire has state-run liquor stores (and private liquor stores as well), but not Massachusetts.
If you have any free time, you could walk some of the Freedom Trail, or visit the new Institute of Contemporary Art (a short walk from your hotel) or Fort Independence, a Civil War fort that can be walked around (and climbed through) about 2 miles from you. There are also "Duck Boat" tours using restored WWII era DUKW’s. I think that one terminal for the Duck Tours is at the New England Aquarium, which is also very near you in South Boston.
A few links:
I hope the rest of your stay in "The Hub of the Universe" goes well, although I hear we might get more snow this weekend.
I have done the Freedom Walk and actually driven the course of Paul Revere’s ride, years ago in a car full of MIT and Harvard students. Very pleasant journey. I will have no real free time this weekend but thank you for the information and good wishes.
Ammunition for Education
Regarding the mountains of small arms and ammunition recently acquired by the Departments of Education, Agriculture and heaven only knows who else, I had a thought. It is a disturbing thought.
It is generally known that those serving in the regular armed forces cannot be relied upon to bear arms against American citizens. Someone will surely remind me of Kent State, but that was the Ohio National Guard and I believe we have learned the lessons of that sad event. It is very possible that there are some in uniform who will simply obey orders – however reluctantly – even if the orders are unlawful. However, I believe that they will be restrained by those who cannot be persuaded to do so, and many of those will be officers. Anyone attempting to use the Army or Marine Corps against Americans will be in for a rude surprise.
That said, the weapons and ammunition in reference here did not go to the regulars; they went to other departments that, as mentioned, have never before felt the need to be armed at all, let alone to this astonishing extent. I am not given to alarmism or conspiracy theories, but are there dots here that could be connected?
Perhaps, as many, if not all, the sources from which these departments purchased their ammunition came into existence immediately before the orders were placed (OK, I haven’t fact-checked this), it was simply a convenient way to funnel public dollars to pay off political debts and the goods will simply remain in warehouses.
Don’t you hate it when you hope something is just a common crook scam and not a conspiracy? Fortunately that’s the usual explanation. No data on this one.
Vietnam stuff –
I am a Vietnam veteran. My own experience of the war is unremarkable; I was a radar technician on an aircraft carrier. As such, I did not experience much in the way of stress of any kind. However, I have known those who did and who received less than civil treatment when they returned, though perhaps not a dramatic as Mr. Hamit’s or that of his Marine colonel.
For those who seek enlightenment in this regard, the book Zero Dark Thirty, by Samuel Brantley, is the place to start. This book is the personal account of a Marine aviator in Vietnam and thus has no relationship to the recent book/movie of the same name.
Examples of the "Crazy Years"
Inadvertently funny lines from the SotU, selected by IBD:
"It is not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government."
"As long as countries like China keep going all in on clean energy, so must we."
"Already, the Affordable Care Act is helping to slow the growth of health care costs."
"We can’t cut our way to prosperity."
Mayor Bloomberg strike’s again!
"It is the most humble of vessels for New York City foodstuffs, ubiquitous at Chinese takeout joints and halal street carts. In pre-Starbucks days, coffee came packaged in its puffy embrace.
But the plastic-foam container may soon be going the way of trans fats, 32-ounce Pepsis, and cigarettes in Central Park.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose regulatory lance has slain fatty foods, supersize sodas, and smoking in parks, is now targeting plastic foam, the much-derided polymer that environmentalists have long tried to restrict."
While living in Robert Heinlein’s "Crazy Years" I have decided that I shall:
1) laugh rather than cry; and
2) continue to eagerly wait to be taxed for not eating my peas!
President Obama, Press Conference at White House, July 11, 2011, <http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/07/11/press-conference-president> and
National Federation of Independent Business et al. v. Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh No. 11-393. Argued March 26, 27, 28, 2012- decided June 28, 2012 <http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-393c3a2.pdf>
Regards, Charles Adams, Bellevue, NE
These things shall pass away. Free people will remain.
fire by banging rocks together
You mentioned wondering when starting fires by banging flint and steel together became common, but it does not require pure flint or pure steel. Some rocks have a high enough metallic content in them that they spark quite nicely when banged together, requiring zero metallurgical knowledge or tech to utilize. My high school science teacher had two rocks, shaped into near-perfect spheres but not polished. The round shape was to minimize the contact patch between them when banged together, and firmly whacking them together caused a very satisfying shower of sparks. These were natural stones, shaped into spheres with modern stone carving techniques to make the spark generation easier and more consistent. Supposedly they were popular with survivalists, but I haven’t seen similar sets in a long time.
During training as a USAF survival instructor, I was required to demonstrate proficiency starting fires using varying levels of assistance. The “graduate level” was starting a fire using nothing but rain soaked deadwood and a standard USAF issue survival knife, without using the knife as a spark generator. The trick is to split open the deadwood to the dry inner wood and shred it a bit, then use the age-old friction techniques to heat some wood powder to the point of combustion in the middle of the dry section of the split log. I wasn’t that good but I did manage to start a fire with dry materials, without any petrochemicals or metallic spark generators. Finding the right kind of rocks to bang together probably isn’t something that happens quickly but a tribe might need to find only one source for such rocks to be set up for generations.
Nowadays, a bag of cotton balls smeared with some Vaseline, a boy scout standard swiss army knife, and boy scout fire starter flint ought to be located in every emergency kit you ever make. With a little care in preparation, that was all I ever needed to quickly start a fire even in fairly heavy rain or snow.
: more fire
Here is one guy’s story about learning how to make fire consistently by banging 2 rocks together.
I thought I knew something about this sort of thing. Now I know more. Thanks. I used to tell survivalists to collect fire starting materials they knew how to use, but be sure to have matches and working lighters at hand. And as Mark Csescu observes in Hammer, you can start a fire in a blizzard with a railroad flare…
Dorner Papal Conspiracy (I confess)
I honestly made up the stuff about the Swiss guard & GMO wheat. I am sometimes tempted to write my own conspiracy theories, and loosely connect them to existing ones. The morning the papal story broke, I was wondering what sort of things the conspirasphere would come up with and at that particular moment lacking an intartube connection, I decided to make up my own theory. I don’t think there are any existing consp. theories connecting Dorner to the Illuminati plan to take over the papacy. I believe if one were to make the case, even a tenuous (sp) case, for it that the community would rapidly fill in the gaps and flesh it out with ‘relevant’ data points.
There are theories/predictions surrounding the papacy. St. Malachy dates back to the Dark Ages, I believe, and lists all the popes somewhat cryptically from his time to now, the next pope to be the last on St. Malachy’s list. Nostradomus said something in regard to the papacy about "the black rising to the red" or something like that in one of his quatrains, some believe that means we will have a black pope. They interpret this to mean that a black man will become a cardinal (the red) and from there go on to become the Pope. And apparently there is a conspiracy theory dating from the 1800s about the Illuminati’s plan to take over the Papacy for their own nefarious ends.
My initial idea for my conspiracy was to name it "Illuminati’s Revenge," a play on Montezuma’s revenge, hence the GMO wheat in the eucharist which induces Irritable Bowel Syndrome (or gluten allergy/ celiac disease as I understand bowel issues are associated with those maladies), and if that wasn’t sensational enough, the addition of the corruption of the legendary Swiss guard was to be the ‘gotcha’ for it.
The Dorner case, perhaps was over-reaching it a bit on my part, to tie that in would require aliens or something equally outlandish. Since the authorities seemed to be having difficulty locating the guy, Sasquatch definitely lept to mind. It now appears that he is dead (there is a whole conspiracy theory on why the LAPD wanted him dead and not alive). My last ‘tounge-in-cheek" observation on the whole affair is this; apparently there was a report that Dorner was seen getting into a horse stable somewhere in the mountains; I propose that he was last seen riding off into the sunset on a unicorn from Obama’s private herd. (Recall that Elvis never died, Hitler lived on in Argentina until the 70s, and other notororious figures have a life from beyond the grave…)
I suppose I have a slightly warped sense of humor, and perhaps too much time on my hands. But there it is, my confession!
Well, I don’t necessarily believe all the stories that amuse me enough that I retell them. If I do I generally make that plain.
A reflection made more than a year ago:
Read this. It turns out that Osama’s trusted courier had contacts with Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen (a militant group closely associated with ISI), and seems to have used it as part of his support network inside the country. A more significant quote, buried on the second page: "the spy agency routinely handled militant leaders it considered assets — placing them under protective custody in cities, often close to military installations. " Speaking of ISI. OK, so ISI was caching Bin Laden, probably using him when convenient, for example when Musharraf wanted to knock off Benazir Bhutto. It already looked like that, now it seems almost certain.
Remember when that asshole Safire was suggesting a conversation of unknown content between someone at the Iraqi Embassy in the Czech Republic and Mohammed Atta was a casus belli? A conversation that never even happened? Remember when the Warren Commission was shared shitless that the Soviets had ordered JFK murdered? Like, what were they supposed to do if they found that to be the case and it got out? Push the button?
This is the real deal: hiding Bin Laden for years IS a casus belli. Even the Israelis couldn’t get away with _that_.
Pakistan is more of an enemy than Iraq ever was, more than Iran. Of course neither of them ever did much to us . More even than Libya (I’m counting Lockerbie).
Pakistan is more of an enemy than anyone we’re whacking in Afghanistan.
But we’d have to admit that we were PAYING the people sheltering Bin Laden for the past six years: the Fools at the Top would have to admit that were wrong. That won’t happen. We may continue to pretend to get along with Pakistan for years more, so that they will allow our logistics for Afghanistan, a pointless and expensive war. And, of course, to avoid admitting what utter, poisonous damn fools our leaders are.
And I wonder if this goes deeper yet. A real fair chance that Musharraf was in on it. And might they have been involved with Bin Laden earlier?
Involved in 9-11 itself? You have to wonder. With friends like these….
And what has changed?
Dishwashers harbour ‘killer bugs’
Dishwashers have nasty fungi in them:
“The scientists studied 189 dishwashers in 101 different homes around the world. They found 62 per cent of dishwashers contained fungi on the rubber band in the door. More than half of these included the black yeasts Exophiala dermatitidis and E. phaeomuriformis which are known to be dangerous to human health. Writing in the journal Fungal Biology, Dr Polona Zalar of the University of Ljubljana, said that "the potential hazard they represent should not be overlooked." . . . "One thing that is not in the report is that we tested the dishes after they had been cleaned in these dishwashers and they were full of this black yeast, so too the cutlery that you put in your mouth. We just don’t know how serious this could be."
“Black yeasts are particularly dangerous for people with cystic fibrosis, as they are able to attack the lungs. They have also been found to occasionally cause fatal infections in healthy humans. Both Exophiala species displayed remarkable tolerance to heat, high salt concentrations, aggressive detergents and to both acid and alkaline water. This explains why the fungi survived even in high temperatures between 60 º to 80 º C, and despite the use of detergents and salt in the dishwasher.”
So, now what?
This was some time ago. I have seen little about it since.
A recent correspondent mentioned that we have not heard from Petronius in a long time. I realized that was true. Here is an older unpublished note from him. Email to his last address fails. I hope to hear from him again. He had much to say.
Correspondent "J" pointed to an article about DARPA ponying up half a megabuck for a Paper Study on how to get humans to another star.
Aside from my idle thought of buying a paperback copy of Heinlein’s CHILDREN OF THE SKY and submitting that as my proposal, I found it interesting that the funding is intended to "kick start" a Hundred-Year Plan for Star Travel.
Did these DARPA guys read TIME FOR THE STARS (Heinlein again), with its Long Range Foundation doing exactly that? I suppose, now that Bell Labs is just another TelComm R and D center tasked with finding better ways to distribute amateur porn, DARPA is the closest thing we’ve got to a LONG RANGE FOUNDATION.
However, there is a Fundamental Misapprehension in both the Call For Proposals as well as in the Hundred-Year-Plan concept.
It’s evident here (from the article)-
The grant would be "seed money" to help someone start thinking about the idea and then get it off the ground in the private sector, David Neyland, director of DARPA’s tactical technology office, said in a Thursday teleconference.
This is not about going to a nearby planet, like Mars. And it is not about using robotic probes, which does not interest the Defense Department, Neyland said. (Emphasis Affed)
Cart, Meet Horse.
End of quote-
Earth is a planetary civilization. Planetary civilization’s do not do Interstellar Travel. Civilization’s don’t have sustainable aspirations greater than their current resources can sustain.
Case in point- When Europe was an Intracontinental civilization, still concerned with getting the European woods cut down, swamps drained, barbarians tamed and wolves doggifed, until some very basic infrastructure for a Continental Civilization was in place, no one put much effort into traveling to other continents. It was fun to talk about, "Traveler’s Tales" were a popular form of what was, for them, Science Fction. Nothing serious.
Once Europe became a continental civilization, suddenly it was Steam Engine Time for seeing what was on the other side of the Ocean Sea.
So the Hundred Year Plan for Interstellar Go Buggies ought, -ought-, OUGHT include, indeed should primarily be about, all the myriad ways of getting humans to Luna, Mars, the asteroids, comets, space stations and every other conceivable manner of building the Basic Infrastructure of an Interplanetary Civilization.
Because an -INTER-Planetary Civilization will see a Need For Interstellar Travel. No one had to pay Da Gama, Columbus and Frbisher to dream of crossing the sea. This will hold true for their spiritual heirs in an interplantary socety, contemplating interstellar voyages.
As it is, the DARPA plan is as if Caesar Augustus one day called in Agrippa and ordered him to get his shipwrights together and "Build me a Clipper Ship!"
I often stack up mail that ought to be published then neglect it. Tonight it’s late after pleasant dinner with Vernor Vinge and other friends, and on a whim I have randomly entered a mail archive. Astonishing how much good stuff I find in mail I wasn’t able to use immediately. I’ll keep mining it.
The NYT article
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/education/16homework.html is a fine example of what drives me crazy about the media. It takes an important subject and turns it into an intellectual food fight.
It starts out with a simple question, which presumably is supposed to illustrate the intractable nature of the homework issue, “How many times do you have to add seven plus two?” In the real world, the answer is simple and obvious : Until you don’t have to think about it.
The statement quoted by Joel Salomon, “There is simply no proof that most homework as we know it improves school performance.” appears carefully crafted, and is not necessarily as radical as it seems. It does not claim outright that homework does not help children learn. One might reasonably assume that the homework process could be improved. But sober research into making time spent on homework more effective would be boring. It is much more sensational to argue about abolishing homework entirely, and a much easier story to write if you just quote proponents from both sides and throw in a few anecdotes. Then you don’t have to waste time with the really dull research into boring studies with quantifiable results. Things get so complicated with populations and methodologies and statistical significance. Food fight!
This is one of several articles I have read recently about school being too demanding on kids. I suppose it may be true, but if so, shouldn’t today’s kids be better educated than previous generations? Is anyone really making that case?
Subject: Admitting to the Obvious about Burning Food
A couple of government studies finally admit to the obvious. Burning food causes food prices to rise.
And we have known it for years but still we mandate ethanol from corn to be auto fuel. Burn, baby, burn.
The Iron Law Supplement
I am not yet sure how this fits in with the Iron Law, but it fits together in a large pattern that I am sorting through. Procedures vs.
Expertise Law seem to be part of this.
The Procedures vs. Expertise Law — which I plan to update to another man’s last name followed by mine once I perfect it — basically states that in a bureaucracy we have two types of people: experts (Es) and proceedurists (Ps). This statement does not conflict with the Iron Law and may correlate with it. Just a personal would be more individualist or collectivist and high-context or low-context — on two different dichotomies related to measuring cultural tendencies — one could be a type 1 or type 2 Iron Law person and also an E or a P.
Experts have the knowledge, but expertise demands responsibility. So, the expert knows the deal but he must micromanage and that takes time and puts the expert at risk. If the expert makes a bad decision, the expert can recieve negative sanction. Ps do not have expert knowledge; they follow procedures. You can see this in McDonalds — if you can get them to let you into the kitchen — and I recommend trying it. I read about it and couldn’t believe it and I had to see it for myself. It’s all lights and buzzers and, basically, procedure.
The forms must be filled our properly, but why? Because most bureaucrats are not experts, and they are little more than fast food workers making the lights and buzzers stop. If they get five black squares and the standard is five black squares, they push the green button. Else, they push the red button.
I have a suspicion the type that serves the organization is the P.
Why? The P is useless because anyone can do the Ps job. We need the P, but we do not need the individual who serves as a P. Really, when we get decent scanning technology we won’t need people to see that forms are filled out correctly and the Iron Law may need revision because we won’t have those people in the bureaucracy anymore and I think that will be great. Automation may save us from bureaucratic bloat, frustration, etc. But, what are we going to do with these people?
Now, I want to end this email on a positive, and related note. I originally emailed you to send this, but I went off on a tangent in my head and realized that it applied to the Iron Law and might interest you or the readership. So here was the original point, to put a smile on some faces:
MAY LEAVE THE FLOOR
OR GO TO THE DOOR
WITHOUT THE AUTHORIZATION
OF A SUPERIOR.
"He came back several times in the next few weeks, and the sign remained. It was as he suspected: in a rigid hierarchy, nobody questions orders that seem to come from above, and those at the very top are so isolated from the actual work situation that they never see what is going on below. It was the chains of communication, not the means of production, that determined a social process.. Nothing signed "THE MGT." would ever be challenged; the Midget could always pass himself off as the Management." –Robert Anton Wilson, The Illumiantus! Trilogy
[Readers could use Jerry's little Amazon icon and click that to order so that Jerry can get some extra walking around money.]
Joshua Jordan, KSC
I set this aside for another day over a year ago. Things flow here so. There is a classic SF story about how a chap in an over organized society finds that the orders come from ‘suggestions’ from the only sane man left in the city. A janitor…
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