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the Beast's Lair

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BAD SCIENCE

One of Scientific America's stories this month is: New Data: Hurricanes Will Get Worse   New data from hurricane Harvey last year gives the author the ideas that hurricanes will be bigger, more frequent and cause tooth decay.   OK. I added tooth decay. He might as well add tooth decay because that is as easily inferred from ONE SINGLE DATA SET.   If I had turned in this paper, my advisor would have ripped me a new one. HOW are you supposed to make general observations about a phenomenon like hurricanes from one data set???   The ONLY REASON you would do that is because the data set is saying what you want it to say.    Down South here we are very familiar with the big, honking hurricane that blow through occasionally and rewrite the map.  We have learned something very interesting about them.   The killer storms come in years corresponding with the Solar Minimum. It's a cycle the sun goes through every eleven years.      Last year when the big storms hit: Harvey, Maria and Irma, do a little math. What was almost ~11 years before? Remember Katrina(? ~Eleven years before that? Hurricane John. 11 years before that? Alice in 1983. Agnes in 1972. Ester and Carla in 1961. In 1950 there were 6. 1939 there were 6. 1928 there were 4 including the Okeechobe Hurricane that killed 4,000. In 1917 there were 7 hurricanes including Nueva Gerona Hurricane- the strongest hurricane to hit Florida until Andrew in 1992 (a year off the tick).    What we are being told- climate change is driving bigger storms. Based on Harvey.  ONE STORM.   What is the data REALLY saying??? Based on 100 years of storm data???  Solar minimums drive bigger storms and clusters of storms.    Solar minimum years and their cusps (the year ahead or behind the minimum) have had some of the most devastating storms in history.   Remember THAT when you read someone's work when they talk about data gathered from ONE storm.

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

The change

A couple of years ago I was fat. Not pleasantly plump. Not healthy. Fat.   It happens when you get older and don't change diet and exercise more. I got into the work, home, work cycle. I let things go and HOLY CRAP, HOW DID I GET TO BE ALMOST 300 pounds!?   No one was more surprised than me. I didn't see myself as fat. Other people saw me as fat and it shows in a lot of ways. People aren't as welcoming. They size you up in a few milliseconds and, what they decide isn't good for you.    If its dealing with a bureaucracy, you'll get every possible form and sit in every possible line. At the doctors office, you'll get called last.  In line at fast food, they won't really listen to your order. All of these consequences come from that millisecond evaluation.   It's different when you aren't fat. In a bureaucracy like the DMV, they'll tell you how to get done quicker. At the doctors office, you get seen quicker. In a fast food joint, they are more attentive.    You can really tell the difference when other peoples millisecond evaluation process doesn't pop up, FAT ASS.   Oh sure, you can still be an ass but, if you have a nice ass, people don't care nearly as much.   Given a choice, it's much preferable to walk around and interact with a world with a nice ass than a fat ass.   IT REALLY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE.   People are more polite. Some people are even differential. People that you saw everyday FAT, treat you differently NOT FAT.   It's odd. It shouldn't really matter but, apparently it does.   Someone should do a scientific study. The results are really eye opening.   I'm not fat shaming anyone.   I am just glad I'm not fat anymore because it makes a world of difference.  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

The Plan

A number of years ago, I was in a bad place. After a number of set backs, I was beginning to feel like a loser. Note the word FEEL.    I was overweight, getting older and feeling like the sun had set on me.   I began to look and see what could make me feel like a winner again. To get back to where I wanted to be, FEELING like a winner, I had to get back in the habit of winning.   Not just a few wins. Important wins. Life goal wins.    So I set some goals. A few rather lofty ones.   There are were two fairly big ones that I wanted to accomplish. The first  because it was important to me because it was about how I saw myself and the other is about how others see me.   First- the one about me was to put anther notch in my education resume. CHECK! I get a second degree in May.   Second- the other one is about how others see me. That one is also going well. I'm down to 245 and will eventually go a little lower. 220 is my eventual target but, coming down from nearly 300 pounds, you can forgive me for saying mission accomplished.   There have been other goals but these are key: I did what most people can not do or are just not motivated to do.   I proved myself to myself after doubting myself for a very long time.   I've won something back that I lost a long time  ago- self confidence.    Now that I'm facing new adversity, that's damn good to have in the bank.   I can find a way to win.

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Where I'm at

Is a truly terrible place.   The last Friday in February my 90 year old mother fell and broke her hip. Luckily she broke the femur and not close into the joint so the repair surgery was not complicated and didn't need a replacement. Unluckily, she is 90 and opiate sensitive. Anything they give her for pain is a nightmare of nausea and delirium.  She spent a week in the hospital for the surgery, a week in a rehab hospital and six weeks in a rehab care facility and came home Friday the 13th. They sent her home too soon and I must take  care of her 24-7. I've got some help but it seems far away during a 4am crisis.    The very day that my mother fell, my older brother went into a hospital across country with what has been diagnosed as bone marrow cancer.   I am alone with the care of my mother and, I can't get away to see my brother.    I'm alone. I am afraid. I must hold the line.   Every man is tested and this is my hour.   I will stand come what may because to cower and shy away from this is simply not who I am.   My worst hour will be my finest hour.

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Saying ****

As literate, creative people we should be able to say **** in all sorts of interesting ways.   Romance and drama would be pretty boring if there was only one word for ****.   Granted, **** is a multi-function, multipurpose Swiss Army Knife of words. It can, depending on usage, be a noun, verb, adjective and even an adverb. The problem with **** is that it gets overused and loses its  potency. There is definitely a time and a place for ****. We shouldn't dilute it or wear it out with overuse.   Words like **** are supposed to have sharp edges. It's supposed to make you blink, raise and eyebrow or wrinkle your nose. The reason it doesn't anymore is that it has been overused to the point where it's shape edges are dulled. It is a word that is actually improved by its rarity. Seeing **** in a sentence should elicit a reaction other than -meh- or you are using it wrong.   If you are really good at it, you can say **** and no one will even notice at all.   The craft of writing isn't about the power of ****, it's about the power of the other words and ideas in that sentence.    

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

I for one welcome our alien overlords...

Let's face it: humans are petty, vindictive and just plain mean.   As we trundle towards extinction with enormous problems that we don't have the economy, science, technology or will to face, the best thing for us would be a beneficent alien takeover.   No- not the nuke your planet to radioactive slag and drive on alien encounter. Cool aliens that show up, take over, get the trains running on time and then teach us some of that alien voodoo.   Fat chance of course but we can wish for it.   We are a remarkably stupid race. We know that fossil fuels are bad for the planet yet we drill baby drill. We're scared shitless of nuclear energy, the only technology that has a zero carbon footprint and actually has the wattage to power our grids.   Our political processes are so mired in incompetence and blatant corruption that many people don't vote simply because it's often just a choice between a criminal and a religious nut.   It would sure be nice if some benevolent aliens showed up to lend us a hand. Maybe show us how to make fusion work and not blow up a few countries. Help us transition from the arms race which everyone but the billionaires lose to a science and technology race that the species wins.   Instead of politically appointed bureaucrats running important things like the Dept of Energy or the Bureau of Land Management we have artificial intelligence oversight that won't put up with corruption.    Can you imagine getting a galactic level education? Could you imagine what we could do with it?   I can and it would never be allowed. No sane alien would ever trust a bunch of dumb ass primates like us with any technology more sophisticated with a zippo.   I think that we as a species have reached a point to where we simply must grow the fuck up or go extinct.   It's really that simple folks.   We face our problems and handle them or they will end us.   There is coming a point when we will kick the can down the road one more time and it will explode.

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

A Win in the Gym

Lot's of people go to the gym and... fail hard.   It's complicated. There's all sorts of machines, techniques, theories, philosophies, and just plain wrong. Even if you spend the bucks on a personal trainer, does he have the smarts to craft a program that's right for you?   It took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do. At my age, it would be pretty stupid to try to make myself into Conan the Barbarian.        We've all seen this guy at the gym. I wonder what he does for fun. I mean, besides steroids.   I have discovered something that's working pretty good for me.   While I absolutely detest classical aerobics, it's one of the best methods to strengthen your heart, burn fat and improve your endurance. With my knees, it would be a short dance to reconstructive surgery which is probably in my future but, I'm not looking to rush it.   I started thinking how can I get the best out of a blend of aerobic and resistance training?   This is what I've come up with.   I start with twenty minutes on the exercise bike. Not a leisurely 20 minutes, a hard twenty minutes. This serves to get my heart rate up and warm me up.   Every session I decide where I'm going to focus and its: core, legs, arms, chest. Sometimes I do specific stuff for my back but usually I focus on one of the four.   Next I decide which machines or routines I'm going to do. Crunches, leg presses, bench, curls, pull ups, rowing- pick a few of them and do three sets.   When you do your sets, go with lower resistance and many, many reps. This combines the action of the aerobic and resistance training.    When you finish your three sets, do 20 more minutes on the bike and repeat. Go as long as you can stand it or for as much times as you have.   This has worked for me. I lost forty pounds and I'm shaping up nicely. I also like what it has done for my stamina. My doc was shocked at the change the last time he saw me. I feel and look much younger than my calendar age.   There are a LOT of people thinking about how to do this. This is just how I've implemented it.    Yes- I do work out with heavier weights at times. This is what I've been focused on for some months and I can see fast progress.    

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Memeing in the 1st Republic

Some people might think that the 1st memes invented were Keyboard cat, Philosoraptor and the numa-numa guy.   That would be very, very wrong.   Imagine you lived in a Kingdom that was one of the most powerful and influential in the world but, it had fallen on hard times. The king was, by all accounts, a corrupt incompetent dolt. The people were hungry and the spoiled, foolish Queen, when told there was no bread for the peasants said let them eat cake.   While this might sound uncomfortably familiar to modern Americans, this was the climate that gave rise to the French Revolution. It was also the fertile ground for the French satirists who I submit were early generation memers. What people fail to understand about memes is they are much more about ideas than humor but the combination of the two makes them that much more powerful.   What we call memes is an evolution of a very old idea called satire more succinctly defined as the illustration of the absurd with absurdity.   Every middle schooler naturally knows about satire because that is when they inevitable meet an incompetent and bungling bureaucracy. One must take care with satire as to be a proper smart ass, you must first be smart. Otherwise you are just an ass.   There were many French satirists. I would like to focus on a gentleman named Voltaire.     Voltaire and the French satirists used their wit to point out the myriad hypocrisies and inequities of their political and social situations. Like Charlie Hebdo, many of the French Revolutionary era satirists faced rather deadly blow-back from those that failed to see the humor in their work.   This was an amazing era and one that the modern democracies owe much to because many of the things we see as foundations of democracy were first discussed by the thinkers during this era. They were seeing the end of the monarchy as a practical form of government and looked forward to imagine what the next step would look like.   See if you recognize any of Voltaire's ideas:   I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Judge a person by their questions, rather than their answers. To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize. It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. Common sense is not so common. It is hard to free fools from the chains they revere. Prejudices are what fools use for reason. As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities. When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion. Superstition sets the whole world in flames; reason quenches them.   Voltaire would have been hell on wheels if he had internet access.   Be suspicious when you hear people in power discount the ideas of others. Those silly memers that poke them right in the hypocrisies have quite the history. So when you see memers banned from facebook or twitter, what you are really seeing is da man swatting the Socratic gad-fly that stung him in a sore spot.   Only a fearful tyrant censors speech. He is afraid that you will tell the people just what a putz he really is.  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

14 years & stuff

Friday night I picked up my 14 year clean & sober medallion.   The official date is Oct. 1 but that was the first Friday after.   Shit happens. I feel like disappearing with a bottle sometimes but once you get in the habit of choosing something different, it gets a little easier with time.   That doesn't make it easy. Just easier.    Like that shit in Las Vegas this week. That seriously pissed me off. OK- I'm angry but, fuck it. Getting hammered won't help. So I focus my white hot anger elsewhere.    What I would do to anyone I caught shooting at kids (at my age that's anybody under 30) doesn't bear close consideration but it would hurt real bad, last a long time and a chainsaw would figure prominently in it.   In other matters there is something I've been asked- why didn't you join the new Pit club?   No mas. Talking politics is just too toxic.  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Proclamation of Extreme Wretchedness

Proclamation of Extreme Wretchedness     When in the course of human events, you come across a day like Monday Oct. 2nd, 2017, drinking heavily is authorized and encouraged by this office. Las Vegas Violence Death of Tom Petty Plumbing problems The only thing that could make it better would be a root canal. All that adds up to holy shit, nuke me now!   Shutup Little Kim. Quit playing with your tiny missile or you'll go blind.  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Deep Concern

Hurricane Harvey, a cat 4 storm, makes a direct hit on the sixth largest city in the country.   In addition to storm surge and wind damage, there is historic levels of flooding damage that add to the misery.   It is expected that Harvey might be the most expensive natural disaster in American history.   Here we go again. We've been here before with Katrina and New Orleans. Almost right on the tick of the solar cycle(1,2).   Only this time we've got another hurricane from the Cape Verde Islands bearing down on Florida.   Here's my worry. The US Insurance industry is structured to deal with one of these huge mega-disasters. How is it going to handle two within weeks of each other?   Right now Irma is poised to strike some of the most expensive real estate in the country and she's loaded to pack a wallop.   Irma has the potential to be even more destructive and costly when it strikes Florida-man's abode.   What happens when the huge institutional funds that the insurance industry uses to back their policies have to dump billions of dollars in securities to raise the cash for these disasters?   If you are sitting on stock, you might want to ditch it before the institutionals flood the markets with the blue chips.    I'm worried that we are about to see a market correction that will make Black Friday look like a Sunday picnic.   If we get hit again for another multi-billion dollar disaster, it'll be a giant shit sandwich and everyone will get more than their share.             __________________ 1) Nature: Sunspot-hurricane Link Proposed 2) International Journal of Climatology: Evidence Linking Solar Variability and US Hurricanes  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

North Korea's Game

This little problem didn't just crop up. It's been going on for a long time.    Trump got famous for a book he wrote years ago called The Art of The Deal.   The game the Kim dynasty has been playing is quite different. If they wrote a book it would best be titled The Art of The Shakedown.   Now after decades of work on their part its a thousand times worse because they have nukes.   The warnings about this go back as far as George Bush, the elder.   Clinton told us he had made a deal, read that paid them off, to stop it. Only it didn't and the North Koreans popped their first test nuke in 2006.   North Korea wants a pallet of cash and goods and the pressure will be to give them what they want.    Like I said, it's a very old game.          Dane-Geld -Kipling   It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation To call upon a neighbour and to say: -- "We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight, Unless you pay us cash to go away." And that is called asking for Dane-geld, And the people who ask it explain That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld And then you'll get rid of the Dane! It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation, To puff and look important and to say: -- "Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you. We will therefore pay you cash to go away." And that is called paying the Dane-geld; But we've proved it again and again, That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld You never get rid of the Dane. It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation, For fear they should succumb and go astray; So when you are requested to pay up or be molested, You will find it better policy to say: -- "We never pay any-one Dane-geld, No matter how trifling the cost; For the end of that game is oppression and shame, And the nation that pays it is lost!"    

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Just say no to Extremism

A few days ago President Trump made a statement condemning violence on both sides of the Charlottesville Charlie-Foxtrot.   A lot of people were indignant that he might call out anyone on the left. So... let's compare and contrast:   These sweethearts are Antifa.  they wear masks they throw riots set things on fire carry weapons attack people accomplish nothing positive only create resentment they deny the rights of others     For comparison purposes I give you the KKK- the evil, racist boogeymen that live in trailer parks. Guess what they do? they wear masks they throw riots set things on fire carry weapons attack people accomplish nothing positive only create resentment they deny the rights of others     No one acting under a mask is up to any good.   On the extreme ends of both the left and right exist a bunch of dangerous nut cases. All we need are some candied fruit and we can make a fruitcake.   It is up to the sane people in the middle to JUST SAY NO TO EXTREMISTS OF EITHER STRIPE.   Take care that in your zeal for a cause that you don't become what you despise.   Those war memorials that so enrage some are not political statements. They are a warning from the past about the pain and loss of war.   If we forget the lessons of the past, we are doomed to repeat them.

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Jalapeno Corn Bread

Jalapeno Corn Bread
__________
preheat oven to 425
1 cup corn meal
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/2 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar best)
1 onion (shred in food processor)
1 jalapeno (shred in food processor)
Mix all that up in a bowl

heat skillet with cooking oil

Pour mixture into hot skillet

Cook in oven for 22-26 minutes.

How it turns out depends on how hot the peppers are and how many peppercorns you keep in the mix. It's MUCH better than ordinary cornbread.
I like to use colby/jack cheese. More cheese can be added.    Yum.   Experiment by adding red onion another pepper or by leaving in more peppercorns to spice it up.   Serve with vegetables like butter beans, peas, corn, tomato. Good with salsa.   You'll need a black iron skillet. Don't put in dishwasher. Instead clean by hand and keep it oiled (with cooking oil silly).

 

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Trump: Another Look

I've been fascinated by this guy for some time.   You see I was around in 1992 when the evil midget H Ross Perot showed up, acted crazy and took the margin of victory away from Papa Bush. I was expecting the daffy billionaire with a bee in his bonnet to make a statement and then fadeaway.    When he won the republican primaries, I was surprised.   Trump out-republicaned republicans. Mainstream republicans like Cruz, Rubio and Paul were bulldozed.   When he won the nomination, I was shocked.   No. Not like amusing shocked. More like holy shit, how did that happen shocked.   How he beat Hillary Clinton's machine in the general elections is something darned few people saw coming.   EVERYBODY has misunderestimated Trump.from day 1.   Notice the word I used? Misunderestimated is a Bushism and I used it on purpose. The left made the same mistake with George W. Bush.   I had an Uncle who was with the Air Force the very day it stopped being the Army Air Corp and became a stand alone service. Uncle Richard was a brilliant man who served all over the world and retired with 30 years service. I used to love to talk to him because he had been there and done that for all practical purposes everywhere. Many people who listened to his southern accent and not what he actually said would have thought he was just another bumpkin. Bumpkins don’t get to wear Oak Leaves or fly B-52s.   I see this quality in Trump. I know you’re laughing but stick with me. The proof is in the pudding. Trump may have had his business ups and downs but he was successful enough to be a billionaire. Billionaires that are morons are quite rare.   Trump ran a sophisticated campaign that unseated one of the most powerful top-down political organizations with multi-national reach ever. Trump manipulated the media during the primaries and the general election and had a hostile press eating out of his hands.   Have you ever heard of a republican running as a populist? I thought democrats held the patent for that. He did it and, he won with it. Populism is a very sophisticated campaign strategy. It has to be consistent. If he spoke like most politicians- like a lawyer- it simply would not have worked. That’s why his speeches were very simple using ordinary language, unambiguous, declarative and repeated central themes several times. If you saw him as a simpleton, you were dead wrong. He spoke to the people in a way that they would respond. Populists have been using this methods for centuries and it works. Consider the following:     Watch any Trump stump speech. It's there.   For my final exhibit, consider this famous tweet:   Everybody made fun of this. No one knew what it meant. Trump is obviously senile or an idiot, right?   The media and the usual celbutards made complete an utter jackasses of themselves, the truth emerges.   Covfefe is an Arabic word meaning I will stand.   The media, not willing to be made a fool of, says no, it's not so.   Native Arabic speakers say different and, he just returned from Saudi Arabia.    Whose lying? I'd say it was the people so wrapped up in their own political bullshit and hate that they can't possibly see their adversary in terms other than stupid or evil. It is that sort of blindness that gets you beaten. It jut takes watching a few election cycles to see this very clearly. Both sides have made this mistake and both sides have paid dearly for it.   There's more than meets the eyes to Trump. He may look dumb but he ain't. Misunderestimate him at your peril.

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Good News Everybody

James Savik @ Quora   First a million, then a hundred million, then a billion and then I take over.   You see Donald Trump is just a distraction.   Perhaps I've said too much.    

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Microbes Never Quit SO VACCINATE!

Infectious diseases have changed the course of whole civilizations.   There is archaeological evidence suggesting that plagues may have wiped out or caused huge changes in several prehistoric civilizations.(1)   The Antonine Plague (2) of 165–180 AD was a major factor in weakening the Roman Empire to the point that it could be defeated. Most people think it was smallpox but we can’t be sure.   Black Death(3) was the most devastating pandemic in human history killing 75–200 million people in Eurasia. It came in waves starting in the 14th century with periodic recurrences until the 16th century.   European diseases that arrived with explorers and colonists like smallpox and measles decimated Native American populations. European diseases so depopulated Native Americans that they could only be a minor nuisance to European interlopers. Smallpox allowed the Aztec and Incan civilizations with thousands of warriors to be sacked by a few hundred Spanish Conquistadores.(4)   The 1918 Flu Pandemic(5) killed 50–100 million people worldwide and pushed the war weary and flu ravaged combatants of World War I to the peace table in Versailles.   These were just the big outbreaks that changed the courses of whole civilizations. Other diseases were a constant menace like cholera, typhoid, typhus, measles, consumption (tuberculosis and pneumonia) and other treatable diseases today that were fatal without antibiotics and mass immunizations.   Humanity survived for thousands of years without vaccination but, infectious diseases have definitely left their mark.   It is a great fear of doctors and government officals that a virus might mutate or be created by a mad man that no one has any immunity to. With world populations so high, dense and mobile, there would be nothing to stop it from killing billions.   Worse still- over use of antibiotics and disinfectants is creating drug resistant strains of old diseases that are now emerging threats. (6)    We only THINK that we are done with infectious diseases. They are not done with us. We can only vaccinate against the worst of them and use good public health practices to contain outbreaks when they do occur.   Least we forget: the HIV/AIDS pandemic emerged in the early eighties and has killed millions world wide. Modern medicine and our modern world are not immune to emerging infectious diseases or new strains of the old diseases that have dogged humanity since prehistoric times.   _________________________________________________________ Footnotes:   1-  DNA Evidence that Plague Started Much Earlier Than Thought  https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/23/science/in-ancient-dna-evidence-of-plague-much-earlier-than-previously-known.html 2- Antoine Plague https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonine_Plague 3- Black Death https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Death 4- Native American Diseases & Epidemics  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_disease_and_epidemics 5- 1918 Flu Pandemic  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1918_flu_pandemic 6- Dangerous Drug Resistant Infections on the Rise Among Children    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/02/25/dangerous-antibiotic-resistant-infections-on-the-rise-for-children-in-the-u-s-study-finds/?utm_term=.15672308e593   Further Reading: Garrett, Laura The Coming Plague   Quammen, David Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

70s Culture

You young barbarians with no culture need enlightenment.    You are ignorant of the good old days.    I shall attempt to enlighten you about our ancient culture.   Wacky Packages Our generation giving the finger to consumer culture.   Over the Edge (1978) This movie is 100% authentic seventies. If you want to know what the 70s were really like, look it up. It's on YouTube.  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Why the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings are classics

When I was a little nipper, I didn’t care much for reading. I was more about climbing trees, playing sports and fishing. Sitting still and reading wasn’t really on my agenda. In fact school and reading were way, way down on my list of priorities. My grades showed it. I wasn’t an idiot. I just wasn’t interested or connected.   My grandmother noticed and she used her grandmotherly skills on me. She started reading the Hobbit to me aloud on rainy winter days. I’m not sure why exactly but it clicked in my head. I did get interested and engaged. She could only read for just so long. If I wanted more, I had to read it on my own. Sneaky Grandmothers.   That was the very first book I ever picked up- just for the fun of reading. In fact, I remember being depressed when it was over.   That Christmas she gave me the 3 volume set of the Lord of the Rings. I was delighted and my parents were astonished. All of the usual Christmas stuff to play with and I was well into the Fellowship of the Ring By the time school started, I was starting the Two Towers. Teachers didn’t believe I was reading it. I wasn’t getting in trouble anymore for not paying attention. I was getting in trouble for reading the wrong thing in class.   By the time I had finished The Return of the King, several very good things had happened: I was no longer reading below grade level. I was reading two grade levels higher. My vocabulary was much improved. My reading comprehension went from average to exceptional. My English grades went from crap to excellent. I went from avoiding reading to frequenting bookstores looking for more!   In 4th grade my life changed for the better. It’s because I picked up Tolkien and would not put it down.   Why it’s a classic is because it can capture the imagination of a restless boy that never wanted to sit still (probably had ADD) and completely turned him around academically.   The movies are great but they just aren't the same as the books. If you've never read them, they are recommended for kids eight to eighty.

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

Dreadnoughts and B-1 Bombers

1897 was Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and the Royal Navy gathered at Spithead to pass in review.   Note the boat chugging along doggedly front and center. It has an experimental engine that will soon rock the world- steam turbines. Faster and more reliable- when mated with fuel oil instead of coal, it will become the powerplant of choice in the next 10--20 years.   This was just before the dawn of the age of the Dreadnought..
Technological breakthroughs were being made every day that enabled battleships to become the biggest and most lethal war ships in history. Electricity, hydraulics, turbines, radio, steel, welding-: with every new innovation the ships became bigger, faster and more powerful.   HMS Dreadnought, 1906. The ship that included the newest technologies of the new century and set the pace for all the rest.
Dreadnoughts became the ticket that had to be punched to be acknowledged as a Great Power. To build and maintain a fleet of Dreadnoughts required the economic wherewithal, industrial capability and technological base that only a Great Power could afford.  
Dreadnoughts were to the 20th century what advanced jet aircraft and nuclear weapons are to the 21st century. They define a Great Power, insure its security and add to its prestige. 
In a very few short years Dreadnoughts advanced from naval units to political status symbols.      

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

We Should go to Uranus

___________________________________________ Only three planets are left that have not come under the eye of a long term survey missions: Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (planet, minor planet, cartoon dog- who cares).   Scientifically- these planets are very interesting because they have been in a multi billion year deep freeze from the formation of the solar system. Materials on their surfaces (or their moon surfaces) have undergone very little “processing” since the formation of the solar system. On the earth, everything is constantly recycled . They represent the best available “snap shots” of the primordial solar system.   The moons of all three outer planets are also a good example of what we might find even further out in the Oort Cloud as they are all probably captured.   People may giggle but the science is exciting. Even building these probes is a challenge involving some of the longest communications loops and complicated programmed maneuvers in history.   The technology possibilities are very exciting. Artificial Intelligence to make decisions independently- outside the communications loop for time dependent actions. Phased array antennas, special frequency modulations, plutonium power source- all the sorts things that make hard core tech geeks quiver in geeky antici... pation.   We should do it soon.   Prepare for Uranus!  

jamessavik

jamessavik

 

The Garden is In

For the last few weeks I've been preparing for this summers garden. Today I planted.   I have been growing a Azalea cutting in a pot and today I moved it around to plant. I annoyed a toad who was living in the pot. He glared at me with his little toad eyes and I told him- hey bro, you're moving up. The garden is a better neighborhood.    I'm trying something new this year. The last few years the picking from the garden have been slim. June, critical to the growing season, has been unusually hot and dry. To combat this problem, this year I'm using landscape cloth over the dirt and mulch over the landscape cloth to keep the soil from drying out too quickly.    Today I planted 3 dozen tomato plants, 18 various pepper, corn, watermelon and some garlic. I grow some herbs too but I grow those in containers.    The tomatoes are a mix of the Better Boy and Goliath varieties. They have to be heat tolerant because... the next zip code from here is heck.   The corn- any of it grows here. If I'm diligent, I can get two crops of it.   As for the peppers- I have a mix of green bell peppers, Jalapeno and cayenne.   The rest of the garden is ornamental but that has to be dealt with too. I divided some of my favorite daylilies and spread them out. Planted some wild gladiolus and I  added a Confederate lily. I got the good kind that's red and whit and blooms till frost. I planted the little Azalea is a spot I made for it.   After having to move I think the toad is finding his new neighborhood much to his liking.    

jamessavik

jamessavik

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