Sledgehammer's Cycles

Sledgehammer's Cycles
Sledgehammer's Performance and Custom Cycles

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Final thoughts on Halbig and Obamacare

Now that they passed the bill, Nancy Pelosi is finding out what's in it.

I crack myself up sometimes.  If I ever tweeted, I'd tweet this.  For a longer, in-depth (dare we call it "Borepatchian"?) analysis, this is outstanding.  Borepatchian, in fact.

At the doctor

Just for my annual checkup.

Doc: "You need to eat less, drink less, and exercise more. "

Me: "I want a second opinion."

Doc: "OK, you're ugly, too."

I'm here all week. Try the veal.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

UPDATE: Damn, I like this doctor. That's a new experience for me.

Halbig v. Burwell, en banc hearing, and the future of Obamacare

Buddy 2cents (an actual bona fide lawyer, but don't hold it against him) emails to point out this:
President Obama’s old Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe, said that he “wouldn’t bet the family farm” on Obamacare’s surviving the legal challenges to an IRS rule about who is eligible for subsidies that are currently working their way through the federal courts.
“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Tribe told the Fiscal Times. “But I wouldn’t bet the family farm on this coming out in a way that preserves Obamacare.”
Tribe, of course, is famously progressive in his views, and he's not exactly all sunshine and kittens about Obamacare's chances.  My thought was that the DC Court of Appeals is one of the most left leaning in the land, and an en banc hearing (where all the judges sit on the case, not just three) might give a different result.  I asked his opinion, and here is his opinion as a lawyer:
Moot point.  And if anything, I would put more money on the 4th Circuit taking THAT case en banc.  The 4th Circuit is more conservative than the DC Circuit is liberal.  Either way, there will be a split of the Circuits before too long.  The Supremes will end up deciding this one.  And I cannot see how this Court could do anything other than decide the same way as the DC Circuit did.  The statue is clear on its face.  Harry Reid’s office kept submitting the same language.  No one ever questioned it.  On top of that, as you may recall, SCOTUS only upheld HCA as an exercise of Congress’s power to tax.  The IRS has no power to interpretively impose new taxes.  They have NO power to tax.  Finally, revisionist history aside, the language of the statue very much fits Congress’s intent.  Let us not forget that, when the passed Obamacare, it was assumed by one and all that the States would jump right in and set up exchanges.  The Federal exchange was only envisioned as a stop gap back up plan.  Of course, politics, the economy and everything else intervened.  As a result, the obvious rush to participate has ended up with only 16 states setting up their own exchanges.  And Lord knows that this is not the first time that Congress wrote a law screwed up because they drew an erroneous conclusion resulting in a failed prediction.
So there you have it.  Things are not looking good for Obamacare at all.  It's not dead, but it looks like it's coughing up blood.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Casting Ingots II

When I'm casting I dress up like my life depends on it. Heavy cotton shirt, heavy cotton pants, leather calf high boots, a firehose canvas apron, gloves, a hat and a face shield. I assume that there will be a spill. I assume that water will get in the pot. I assume the worst.

 Set up your work space. No children, no pets. Dress out. If you're melting scrap lead, wheel weights, etc., the first pot will be warming up from room temperature. That one will be fine, the heating process will evaporate off any water. It's lead you add later that might have some moisture on it that will cause a problem. Preheat any lead you plan to add. Get it hot enough you can not handle it without gloves before you add it to your melted pot.

It is known as getting a visit from the tinsel fairy. Moisture, even a small amount in a bucket of wheel weights, is a serious risk when casting. A damp ladle, perhaps carelessly set on a wet towel and then dipped into the pot will do it, too. The liquid lead is 650 degrees (F) or hotter. Added water is transformed instantly to steam. That expanded steam will leave the lead pot with authority.

Lead on the ceiling of the garage or the hood of her car may not be pleasing to the spousal unit. Lead on your arms, face, head, or hands will instantly result in severe burns. Here's one more link from the Cast Boolits forum on the topic.

 Here's a video of a guy melting lead pipe sections with a very small explosion at the end. I think he had just a little moisture in that piece he adds to the pot.

Be safe and cast for a long time.

About all that carbon dioxide in the air ...

It's said (by Science™) that we've gone from 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in pre-industrial times to 400 ppm today.  The implication is that industrialization is the cause of the increase.  But is it?

New paper: only 15 ppm (i.e. 15% of the increase) is from fossil fuels.  Hey, you don't want to be a Science Denier, do you?

Quote of the day: open carry edition

Call me crazy, but I feel one of my responsibilities as a gun rights advocate is to show people that gun owners are reasonable, responsible people who aren’t a threat to the innocent. If I were to, say, walk into Chipotle carrying an AK at the combat ready, I’m pretty sure I’d accomplish the exact opposite. And I really couldn’t blame regular Joe for being afraid of me. Think about it, guys. If a cop walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If a soldier walks into Chipotle with a rifle, people will get scared. If some unknown guy walks into Chipotle with a rifle, especially if he’s carrying it at the combat ready, people are going to get scared. In America, carrying a rifle into a restaurant isn’t a normal act. Right or wrong, it scares people. And you won’t make people less scared of guns by intentionally scaring them with guns.


Peaceful open carry rallies where gun owners safely carry long guns slung across their backs on public land? I’m down with that. Blatantly ridiculous, orchestrated confrontations where open carriers walk into private businesses with rifles at the combat ready, just to piss people off, knowing that all they’ll do is create more enemies? No thanks.
So please, open carriers, stop “defending my rights”.
Hat tip: Elusive Wapati, who has some comments of his own.

105 year old throws out first pitch

Her Oceanside retirement community, Fairwinds, had planned an outing a few months ago to Sunday's Padres game. One of the staff members at Fairwinds asked if McKee, their oldest resident, could toss the first pitch since it would be just a few days after her 105th birthday, which was Wednesday.
It worked out perfectly. The Padres honor the military at Sunday home games, and McKee's husband, Harry, was a veteran and a baseball lover. He died six years ago. So now, it will be an honor for both of them. From the U-T San Diego:
“He would be so proud,” she said about her upcoming pitch. “He would not be surprised at all. He always knew I was up for an adventure.”
Hat tip: 2cents, via email

Monday, July 21, 2014

My attitude about the airliner over Ukraine and the border mess

It's the path on the left, for the reason stated.

But hey, that's just me.  I'm a lousy news consumer, and this is also pretty much why I avoid Twitter like the plague.


In which I agree with Thomas Frank

Frank, of course, is the dim bulb who penned the idiotic What's The Matter With Kansas.  But he diagnoses the Obama legacy pretty well:
In approaching this subject, let us first address the historical situation of the Obama administration. The task of museums, like that of history generally, is to document periods of great change. The task facing the makers of the Obama museum, however, will be pretty much exactly the opposite: how to document a time when America should have changed but didn’t. Its project will be to explain an age when every aspect of societal breakdown was out in the open and the old platitudes could no longer paper it over—when the meritocracy was clearly corrupt, when the financial system had devolved into organized thievery, when everyone knew that the politicians were bought and the worst criminals went unprosecuted and the middle class was in a state of collapse and the newspaper pundits were like street performers miming “seriousness” for an audience that had lost its taste for mime and seriousness both. It was a time when every thinking person could see that the reigning ideology had failed, that an epoch had ended, that the shitty consensus ideas of the 1980s had finally caved in—and when an unlikely champion arose from the mean streets of Chicago to keep the whole thing propped up nevertheless.
The rest of the article, of course, is Frank pushing the same tired old leftie nostrums.  But this moment of clarity on the current situation - propping up the whole rotten system - is entirely on target.  Although Thomas would do better if he read Borepatch - especially this.


Movie Review: Dawn of Planet of the Apes

First, to say something nice. Great special effects on the apes.

The special effects must have taken the entire budget, though, because they could not afford to hire anyone to help with veracity when it came to weapons.

First, no one aims, especially the apes. They just throw the rifles up one handed and shoot spray.

Second, no one on either side reloads and they are all firing M-16s on full auto. Seriously, the whole flippin' movie. NO. ONE. RELOADS. The apes spray unaimed rounds on full auto for twenty minutes and overwhelm the humans. The cyclic firing rate for an M-16 is 600 rounds a minute. Hold the trigger down and 30 rounds last 3 seconds.They would have needed to be strong as gorillas to carry the loaded magazines they would have used and they would have been reloading every 3 seconds. Watch how long each magazine lasts:

Third, the humans are supposedly "test firing" all the weapons in the arsenal. Are they zeroing the weapons for accuracy? Are they cleaning and servicing the weapons, then testing firing any that have had problems? No, they're doing mag dumps. Seriously, in a world where all the ammo you will ever have in what you have right now, they pouring it out the barrels for no reason.

And finally, the hero points his rifle at some other humans. After some posturing, they move toward him, and he pulls the charging handle to work the bolt. If it was already loaded, all he did was dump a round. If it wasn't already loaded, what was he doing pointing it at anyone with intent?

I usually give movies a pass on gun handling, shooting while running, etc. This one worked hard to get fully into teh stupid.

International Cat Diplomacy

Nixon famously used "Ping Pong Diplomacy" to normalize relations with Red China* in the 1970s, sending a ping pong team to the PRC and using the good will from the resulting television reports to thaw international relations.

Well, I've been busy on this, too.  I've been having a lot of videoconference calls with the team in Beijing.  Since I work from home (and they mostly do too - at least when the call is late in the evening their time) Crash the Wondercat has been making a habbit of hopping up on my lap and so appearing in the call.

Well, on the last call a cat there in Beijing jumped up on a lap there, and Crash and he engaged in a bit of International Cat Diplomacy.  It's a strange and wonderful world we live in, sometimes.

Happy birthday, air conditioning!

Living as I happily do in the heart of Dixie, this is a big deal:
In Buffalo, New York, on July 17 [conflicting dates, July 21 is given also - Borepatch] , 1902, in response to a quality problem experienced at the Sackett-Wilhelms Lithographing & Publishing Company of Brooklyn, Willis Carrier submitted drawings for what became recognized as the world's first modern air conditioning system. The 1902 installation marked the birth of air conditioning because of the addition of humidity control, which led to the recognition by authorities in the field that air conditioning must perform four basic functions:

1.) control temperature; 2.) control humidity; 3.) control air circulation and ventilation; 4.) cleanse the air.
I can't imagine what things would be like without AC.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Casting Ingots I

Before you can cast bullets, you need clean lead in a usable size, at a known hardness.

Lead is often gathered by working a berm at a range, gathering the bullets that collect there over time. Those bullets are dirty, mixed lead, some with copper jackets.

Another source is tire weights. The alloy that tire weights are made from makes pretty good pistol bullets. They are also dirty, with metal clips. When you get a bucket of weights, it has cigarette butts, air valves, and unfortunately, some newer weights not made from lead.

Sometimes large blocks of pure lead can be found. Medical lead blocks for shielding radiation, old sailboat keels, old plumber's lead are all possibilities.

Pure lead is very soft. People add various tin or antimony blends to make the lead harder. Sometimes casters use linotype, a lead alloy that was used in newspaper printing until the 1980s, to make a hard alloy. If you can find some linotype, it is a known hardness. It can be used by itself or mixed with pure lead in known quantities to make consistent alloys.

You have to melt the lead, clean the melted lead of the debris, flux it and remove the dross, then pour the ingots. Safety is a huge issue. Lead melts around 620 degrees. any contact with the lead results in a burn. Lead is a heavy metal, ingesting the lead in any way is serious health risk.

And the end product is only an intermediate step in casting bullets.

Getting older is a bitch

The Geek in Heels finds sequels describing mid-life crises for literary characters.

Heh.  Lots more.

Johann Christoph Pepusch - Concerto for Violin, Strings & Basso Continuo in A minor

Sometimes it seems that all the English composers of the early 18th century were actually German, come to the court of the new Hannoverian monarchs.  John Christopher Pepusch was one such, born Johann Christoph in Berlin.

Perhaps best known for his arrangement of The Beggar's Opera, he represented the best of the late baroque.  He also founded the Academy of Ancient Music, dedicated to performing pieces that were at least 100 years old.  That organization petered out, but has been revived and is active today.

Honest Wear

Honest wear, you see it on a lot of older guns. They weren't safe queens. They were working guns. Carried in all kinds of weather, rubbing against a holster, exposed to sweat.  It's not abuse, it's the accumulated results of a lifetime of use.

In a previous post, I commented on the difference in the wear on the grip panels on my grandfather's Colt Woodsman. The wear is a result of having being carried in a right side hip holster for years. Whenever my grandfather went hunting, the Woodsman was with him. The outside panel tells the tale.

In the comments, New Jovian Thunderbolt asked for pictures.

Here's the right side.
And here's the left.
Just to show you what they can look like, here's one of the best sites I found for information and pictures: Bob Rayburn's Colt Woodsman Page. Here's a link to his photos, the first one is a beautifully factory engraved and lovingly kept 1917 pre-Woodsman. It goes from there. If you want to look at some wonderful and interesting pistols, scroll through some of these.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My NSA mix tape

Claire asks:
Via jed: Artist sends the National Spy Agency a super-encrypted “mixtape.”


So what would be on your freedomista mixtape?
Well, Okay then.

Johnny Rivers knows their secret pain - that they'll never look as good as he does:

Wynonna knows that you're up to something.  So does Ft. Meade.  They know the truth when they look into your eyes read your metadata ...

Hell hath no fury as a woman scorned, or the NSA looking at a Linux geek running a TOR exist node.  They know what you did last night:

And no school like the Old School.  You got me in a tizzy, little busy body:

Self-driving car failure modes

There's quite an interesting discussions in the comments section to yesterday's post about self-driving cars.  A number of people are clearly doing more thinking than the technologists and bureaucrats pushing this concept on a (mostly) unwilling public.  It's worth your time to see what a good security brainstorming session looks like.

I want to expand on this here, because it seems that the biggest obstacles are not technical, but rather social.  Here are some, in no particular order:

1. Self-driving cars will never be cool.  The lure of the open road has left Americans spellbound for generations.  The nerd playing X-Box 2025 will never be as cool as this, ever:

The Rebel lacks a cause, but meekly complies with all traffic ordinances.  I think it's quite a serious mistake to bet against cool.

2. You can't get rid of non-self driving cars.  Look at this car:

This car is not cheap, and more importantly is only driven infrequently as a hobby.  So think about who owns a car like this - it's not some backwoods redneck, it's someone with serious wealth.  If there's one thing that is abundantly clear it's that rich people don't take well to the Government taking away their hobbies.  So the self-driving car systems will be forced to deal with non-self driving cars.

3. Government Agencies exist to collect power for the Government Agency.  We can expect that they will be the biggest backers of mileage limits.  Make people fly more, so you will need more TSA screeners.  The proof?  TSA is already trying to get into the train travel and roadblock business. 

None of these are technology objections, they are societal limitations on deploying a system that will live up to the billing.  The system simply cannot improve road use, or mileage, or safety, because society won't let this happen.

Tastes like chicken

No, really.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Johnny Winter - Live From Montreux

Thanks for all the great music, Johnny.  Rest in peace.

A cloudy outlook for self-driving cars

Over at Gormogons, GorT muses on the prospects for self-driving (autonomous) cars, and thinks that it's more or less inevitable that these will come to dominate the market.

The Antiplanner looks at President Obama's recent call for mandatory use of this technology and delves into the downsides:
First, V2V [Vehicle-To-Vehicle communications - Borepatch] and V2I [Vehicle-To-Infrastructure - Borepatch] communications pose serious security risks for travelers and cities. With V2V communications, an automobile that suffers a fender-bender would communicate to all nearby vehicles that they ought to take a different route to avoid congestion.

That sounds good, but what happens when someone hacks the system and puts out radio signals in a hundred or a thousand critical urban intersections that effectively shut down traffic in an entire city? As one expert at the driverless vehicle symposium observed, “just think of the opportunities for chaos!”

Second, V2I communications will allow the nanny state to monitor and control when and where you travel. For example, PC Magazine observes that V2I is “so accurate a revenue-hungry town could write tickets for doing 57 in a 55 zone.”

Worse, suppose your state decides to cut per capita driving in half, which isn’t far fetched considering that in 2008 the Washington legislature passed a law mandating such a reduction by 2050. With V2I communications, the government could decide you have driven enough and simply shut off your car.

Third, what happens when all cars are dependent on V2I systems that the government can’t afford to maintain? The federal government is notorious for funding capital projects and then providing inadequate money to maintain them, and state and local governments are little better.

Finally, V2V and V2I communications will be unnecessary added expense to auto ownership.
Speaking professionally, the security risks are way, way worse than even this (pretty good) overview gives.  The idea of targeted attacks is very plausible, particularly if (as is likely) the comms systems are Internet-enabled (say, via OnStar).  Even if they are not directly Internet-enabled, they look to almost certainly be on the same comms bus with systems that are Internet-enabled.

This will be a very high value system to compromise, which tells you everything that you need to know to understand the nature of the attackers it will attract.  It ain't going to be Bobby Scriptkiddie.

And mandatory government tinkerable systems seem to be a stretch until issues like NSA metadata collection and use are resolved, which looks to be just a little before the heat death of the Universe.  Given that people's faith in the Government to be (a) competent and (b) non-malicious is asymptotically approaching zero, just how would Congress pass a law like this and survive the next election?

But it gets even worse - there will have to be controls over who can tinker with these systems, or Charlie Carowner will just disconnect the damn thing some Saturday.  So only licensed mechanics will be lawfully able to do this.  OK, how many mechanics are there in the good old US of A?
There are approximately 763700 people employed as an Automotive Service Technicians and Mechanics.
How many of these would be able to be bribed or intimidated to get access to the systems (i.e. facilitate compromise of the system)?  Consider a threat scenario when a large organization (Government Agency, Union, Special Interest Group, etc) really wanted to gather information on a particular individual.  Could you bribe a mechanic to add some code for, say, $25,000?  That's rounding error for these organization's budgets.

But GorT brings an even stronger reason why this is almost certainly not going to become widespread anytime soon:
There really is a bottom line as to why Google and other companies are looking into it: data.  The data that could be collected from the cars, passenger ids (for anti-theft / authorized usage) and travel patterns would be huge.  Toss in there the ability to market those passengers and it becomes even more enticing.
Google and Facebook are burning down any level of trust that they may once have had, because GorT is exactly right - the your data is worthless to them if they can't monetize it.  It's one thing to see pictures of your BFF's baby niece, it's another kettle of fish entirely for Google to know exactly where your car is (and if you are in it) every second of every day.

Why on earth would anyone ever want one of these cars under those circumstances?  So that you don't have to drive home after a couple too many beers at the pub?  Get a cab.

Right now you get free Internet search (and maybe email) - you get something of value from Google.  What of value do you get for letting them follow you around everywhere you go?

The potential downsides are so, well, creepy - and so hard to explain to your Mom without it sounding creepy - that these products will almost certainly be toxic in the marketplace.  And that's without adding in the Government-revenue-grabbing/busybody-in-your-bidness/NSA-stalker overlay of added creepy from the Fed.Gov.

Until the Government and Silicon Valley do a much better job of showing that they can be trusted with this sort of data, or showing that there is a much better ("killer app") benefit to the car owner, this isn't going anywhere other than the drawing board.

The Halt and Catch Fire birthday cake

All of that win has to be a little fattening, don't you think?

Honest Political Ad

If only all politicians were this honest...

It's OK, tires give it positive buoyancy

One way or another.  Err, ether sprayed into the cylinders will dry that out, right?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

My Grandpa's Gun

It was a Colt Woodsman made in November of 1934. My Grandfather probably bought it shortly thereafter. I know he bought it new. It was his field gun. If he went walking in the woods, it was on his hip. The right side grip panel is worn down from the brush, the bluing is worn away in places. The holster, too, shows it's age.

My mother remembers it as the first gun she ever shot. It was always around, I shot it as a boy. When my grandfather died, it went to my uncle along with all the other guns. Years later, it was given to my mother. She gave it to me at Christmas about ten years ago.

I found the instructions, ordered new springs, and completely disassembled it, cleaning the internals and replacing all the springs. I suspect it had never been done.

 I shoot it. I let my friends shoot it. When I have a new shooter to take to the range, it always goes. And it carries the memories of three generations with it.

So with all this Global Warming, how many of the world's weather stations saw cooling over the 20th century?

A third:
As far as I remember, this is the first time when I could quantitatively calculate the actual local variability of the global warming rate. Just like I expected, it is huge - and comparable to some of my rougher estimates. Even though the global average yields an overall positive temperature trend - a warming - it is far from true that this warming trend appears everywhere.

In this sense, the warming recorded by the HadCRUT3 data is not global. Despite the fact that the average station records 77 years of the temperature history, 30% of the stations still manage to end up with a cooling trend. The warming at a given place is 0.75 plus minus 2.35 °C per century.
Emphasis mine.  And notice that the uncertainty in the warming rate is three times what the warming rate is.
Even if you imagine that the warming rate in the future will be 2 times faster than it was in the last 77 years (in average), it would still be true that in the next 40 years or so, i.e. by 2050, almost one third of the places on the globe will experience a cooling relatively to 2010 or 2011! So forget about the Age of Stupid doomsday scenario around 2055: it's more likely than not that more than 25% of places will actually be cooler in 2055 than in 2010.
We're always sneered at for missing the distinction between weather and climate.  Cooling experienced over 1500 weather stations over the course of 77 years seems to fall into the bucket of "climate".

You know, if the theory of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming were as solid as we're told, evidence supporting it would be falling off of the roof eaves and littering your driveway in the morning.

Aw, now you're making me blush

Lovely spammer emails:
I came across your site while looking through business and trade related blogs.
Wow.  Just imagine if you'd have been looking for firearms and Internet security!  You'd have found me there, too!
We think that our products would be a perfect fit for you and your readers since we share the same advocacy of helping people get to realize their full potentials and help them to do greatly do what they do best.
Do be do be do.  I sure am glad I help all of you go greatly.
And I like the fact that your commentaries are beyond amazing.
Sure are.  And the bloggers here are exceptionally good looking, too.  Thanks so much for cluttering up my inbox.

Halt and catch fire

There's a long tradition of geek humor - most of it incredibly cynical of technology's failures.  The Jargon File is perhaps the greatest compendium of this oral tradition, and includes gems like this on Magic Smoke:

magic smoke: n.

A substance trapped inside IC packages that enables them to function (also called blue smoke; this is similar to the archaic phlogiston hypothesis about combustion). Its existence is demonstrated by what happens when a chip burns up — the magic smoke gets let out, so it doesn't work any more. See smoke test, let the smoke out.

Usenetter Jay Maynard tells the following story: “Once, while hacking on a dedicated Z80 system, I was testing code by blowing EPROMs and plugging them in the system, then seeing what happened. One time, I plugged one in backwards. I only discovered that after I realized that Intel didn't put power-on lights under the quartz windows on the tops of their EPROMs — the die was glowing white-hot. Amazingly, the EPROM worked fine after I erased it, filled it full of zeros, then erased it again. For all I know, it's still in service. Of course, this is because the magic smoke didn't get let out.

Compare the original phrasing of Murphy's Law.
One of the jokes that I remember from back in the '80s* was the Assembly Code instruction HCF: Halt and Catch Fire.  You would program this when you really, really wanted the system to stop - and maybe even let the Magic Smoke out.

Well the AMC Television network has created a show "Halt And Catch Fire".  I don't watch much TV, but may need to Tivo this.  From IMDB:
Set in the early 1980s, series dramatizes the personal computing boom through the eyes of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy whose innovations directly confront the corporate behemoths of the time. Their personal and professional partnership will be challenged by greed and ego while charting the changing culture in Texas' Silicon Prairie.

* You damn kids, get offa my lawn!