Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Dundee, Part II: The Accelerated Dragon

When we arrived in Dundee, the vehicle we were interested in was in the shop for an electrical glitch. The owner of the business said it would be ready for a test drive in about a half-hour, if I cared to wait.

Heck, we had already spent two hours in our vehicle driving to Dundee. Mrs ERJ said she would relish the opportunity to stretch her legs.

So we set about exploring downtown Dundee.

We didn't get far.

There is a "game" store in Dundee that is called The Accelerated Dragon. Pushing the door open revealed a large, brightly lit, open room populated by uncluttered tables. The first table had several chess games on it.


The gentleman was sitting toward the back of the room welcomed us as entered. Matthew is the owner of The Accelerated Dragon.

He is also an unabashed science junkie.

He sees the role of The Accelerated Dragon as being similar to the coffee houses of the 17th and 18th centuries. That is, to provide a venue where people can find other, like-minded folks and establish a sense of community in a face-to-face environment.

Mrs ERJ asked him "What kinds of games do you have?"

Matthew replied "I have a little bit of everything...everything but Magic games."

Mrs ERJ asked, "Why no Magic games?"

Matthew said "Because the 'battles' become an arms-race and they escalate to where it is not skill-based. Folks become obsessed and can buy 'heroes' so the winner is not the most skilled but the one with the deepest pockets."

"That is not what I want this space to be about" he concluded.

The weekly schedule. The photo is tilted because of the glare from the natural lighting.

Winners from the previous week's tournaments are recognized. Matthew cautioned me to never bet money against Istanbul in Scrabble.
The shelves are color-coded. Some games are multi-day affairs which appeal to a certain client. Other games typically last for a few hours.

Obligatory pictures of some of the games on his shelves.

A high-end chess set
Matthew was genuinely saddened that I am not a "game" guy. He said I simply had not run across the right game. I felt for him. I bought a set of gaming dice. Every stats weenie ought to have sets of dies.

A trip to Dundee, Part I: Pulmunary Function

I will be the first to admit I don't get out much.

Shopping for a new vehicle has been good for me. It has taken me further afield than normal.

Yesterday's safari took us to the town of Dundee, Michigan which is close to Toledo.

Pulmonary function
While driving there, Mrs ERJ kept me entertained with a running commentary. Who needs a radio?

One of the more interesting topics involved pulmonary (lung) function.

The topic is timely because the Covid-19 virus kills primarily by pneumonia and corona virus seems to hit folks over fifty particularly hard. (This is when I raise my hand. I am over fifty)

The first bit of advice was to take all steps necessary to improve the quality of the air you breath. If you smoke: STOP. Dip. Switch to cigars. Eat brownies. Do what you have to do but stop sucking that sh!t into your lungs.

Improve indoors air quality. Vacuum frequently. Change air filters religiously (Christmas and Easter, anyway).

The second bit of advice was surprising: Breathing exercises.

From what I deduce based on Mrs ERJ's commentary, our breathing habits are a bit like our walking stride. We have a natural proclivity based on our body-type but we can change it through conscious effort.

Mrs ERJ sometimes tells a story about her mother. M-i-L ERJ was raised in the Deep South and was raised to be a lady. Ladies do NOT pant like dogs. Their bellies never distend while in public. Nor do they perspire. The conditioning was so deep that she was the despair of the respiratory therapists who worked with her after an operation. By that time, M-i-L couldn't breath deeply and that may have contributed to her premature demise.

There are Breathing Exercises that make breathing deeply and getting air to the lower parts of your lung feel more natural. The exercises do increase lung capacity as tissues stretch.

The cardio-vascular system is joined at the hip, so to speak, to the pulmonary system.

Nearly anything you do to increase cardio-vascular fitness will automatically help lung function.

"Cardio" exercise automatically provides breathing exercise. It is almost impossible to do cardio without being forced to breath deeply as our VO2 demand goes up.

Lose weight, especially if you have a beer-belly.

When you are breathing you are lifting the mass of the tissue that is padding your ribs.

When you are fat, that beer belly doesn't just extend upward, it intrudes upward and can vastly diminish the physical ability of your diaphragm to move downward and pull air into your lungs.

Nearly everything you do to improve your cardio-vascular function will help you lose weight.

Eat foods rich in anti-oxidants, rich in vitamins A and D or are vividly colored.  Mrs ERJ said Skittles do not qualify.

I know, it sucks. Broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, berries, chicken. Think positively: If you cover half the plate with those kinds of foods you will probably lose weight.

The good news for me is that red wine is on the "good" list and elderberries are near the top. Elderberry bushes qualify as a "weed" in these parts. You can't kill the darned things. I may have to start harvesting them.

The reason Covid-19 monkey-hammers folks over fifty* may be related to the fact that we gain weight and lose fitness as we age. We hurt more, and longer after exercising. We heal more slowly.

It is a case of move-or-die. The thing is, we have to move now because building fitness is like planting a garden. We till the soil, plant the seeds and pull the weeds so we can have a harvest six months from now.

*the other main reason is that we are more likely to accumulate other health issues as we age. Issues like diabetes, hepatitis, renal impairment and so on.  Many of the Covid-19 deaths had these kinds of secondary factors.

A dry run (fiction)

Borders are fluid
The forces from Livingston County had bad intelligence. Their entire model anticipated the greatest threat from the north and east. That is, from Benicio.

Chernovsky, Gimp and Tomanica took several hours to “glass” the back-side of the Livingston County lines.

The readings of military history that Wilder had been feeding Chernovsky gave him an appreciation of the advantages of assymetry.

His natural inclination was to attack-in-force but that would have caused the Livingston County forces to adapt. In the long run, it would result in high Capiche losses and ultimately made victory less certain.

The Livingston County forces had a fire-base about every two-tenths of a mile. That meant that forces trying to penetrate the line were never more than 200 yards from a fire-base.

Every fifth fire-base had two supply trucks and clearly functioned as the base-camp for the half-mile to either side. Every tenth camp had a quick-reaction force. There were also three quick-reaction forces that were not attached to any point on the line and they roved.

Each fire-bases had about twenty-five fighters with the remaining fighters being shared by base-camps and quick-reaction forces.

Counting noses and looking at the supply trucks, Chernovsky asked Tomanica and Gimp “If we cut them off, how long do you think they can hold out using the supplies on those trucks?”

Chernovsky had already made his own calculations and wanted a reality check.

Both Gimp and Tomanica guess “About three days.”
275 gallon water cube

Chernovsky nodded. “I see two water-cubes on each supply truck.” referring to the 275 gallon IBC cubes riding immediately behind the truck cabs.

“Doing some quick math, at three hundred fighters to the mile, that is about four gallons of potable water per person. Depending on the weather and discipline….how long will that last?”

Looking at the fighters with critical eyes, Tomanica answered first. “If they were careful, maybe four days. Otherwise, two days at best.”

Gimp nodded his agreement.

“Ok, here is my plan. See if you can poke any holes in it…” Chernovsky said. He had recent experience with thirst and wanted to make use of it.

Shortly before sunset, flurries of shots rang out from the Capiche side of the Livingston County line.

It caught them off-guard. Other than a few half-hearted probes from Benicio, there had been almost no resistance. Richards expected that to change tomorrow when he sent his three roving quick-reaction teams into Capiche to rampage.

Most of the shot seemed to miss. It made fighters dive for cover. The shooting went on for about fifteen minutes. It seemed to ebb-and-flow up and down the line.

A moderately competent rifleman, firing a off-the-rack rifle can hit an eight inch paper plate 9-out-of-10 times. There are a couple of qualifiers. The shots must not be hurried and the odds improve when the shooter is firing from the prone position or with the aid of a steady rest.

Chernovsky's chosen shooters were significantly better than "moderately competent" and the rifles were the best available. Sleeping bags were unrolled on the ground to provide comfortable positions from which to fire prone.

A few minutes into the desultory firing from the Capiche side of the line, shots hit the window glass of some of the vehicles. Even before the boom of the shot that shattered the glass died out, a second shot followed that hit one of the water cubes close to the bottom.

Compared to hitting a paper plate at two hundred yards, hitting the bottom half of a 40" cube at distances that varied from 200 yards to 440 yards was a walk in the park.

A few more minutes of firing and a second bullet punched a hole near the top of each cube.

The Livingston County response to the firing was hampered by the fact that they were shooting into the setting sun. The draconian restrictions on ammo expenditure did not help them, either.

By the time the sun had finally set, every water cube had two holes in them, one high and one low and were slowly weeping away their precious contents.

A hole that is 0.3” in diameter isn’t very big, but night is almost fourteen hours long in late October. There was very little water left in the cubes in the morning when the troops first noticed the puddles next to the supply trucks.

Monday, February 17, 2020

A letter of appreciation to Mr Mark Zuckerberg

It was reported in the news that Mr Zuckerberg threw up his hands and said something to the effect "All you guys want to do is criticize. I cannot decide what speech is hateful and should be forbidden and which is protected under the Bill of Rights. If you want me to censor my corner of the internet you have to legislate what is, and isn't permissible."

The conservative slice of the internet went nuts. "OMG, it is all over now."

I think the conservatives are looking at it all wrong.

Me and Zuck
First, I want everybody to know that me and Zuck are not best-buds. We don't socialize. We move in different circles.

I am not fond of his products nor do I think the market valuation of his companys' products are sustainable.

But I commend him on his business acumen and his focus.

Optimistically, there is a 1e-4 -to- 1e-05 chance that Mr Zuckerburg will be informed of this letter.

Mortality and Morbidity of Hate Speech
One must conclude that Hate Speech sports a M&M rate much higher than suicide based on the number of minutes devoted to it on the major news networks.

Such a high degree of virulence demands the highest level of scrutiny and our very best "best science".

That would be the Food and Drug Administration.

In 2018, the 19,000 paid employees of the FDA approved 59 new drugs for various uses. That equates to 322 man-years per drug.

We could expect similar levels of productivity for the banning of words.

Given that there are at least 200 slang words for the tallywhacker, anaconda, pocket rocket, it will take almost four years to eradicate the irresponsible use of those euphemisms.

There are at least as many slang words in common usage for the female counterpart of the chicken, ol' blue, sparky.

The insidious thing about the PC pressure for Facebook and others to censor free speech is the lack of transparency. My buddy Zuck cannot win. Somebody will always swoon.

By handing the responsibility to Congress to legislate and thence to the Executive branch to execute, transparency will be served and decisions can be challenged in court.

The censoring of a given word, "Slinky" for instance, can be challenged by those who would be economically damaged by the carte blanch striking of all posts, essays, articles and ads that mention "Slinky", for instance.

Mr Zuckerberg, recognizing that he had been given a no-win task dumped the mess back into the laps of the grandstanding camera hogs. He made them "own" it.

Zuck, you done good.

A good plan executed quickly (fiction)

Mark Richards, for all of his character deficiencies, was a meticulous and focused planner.

The tanks, trucks and personnel transports exited from the depots at precise times, +/- twenty seconds. They proceeded at exactly twenty-five miles per hour to the integration points and they “zippered” together with a minimum of drama.

From there, the sixty battle-groups proceeded west on I-96 at the same twenty-five miles per hour.

It took two weeks to convince Torvaldsen that the provacations were lone-wolf attacks. While the diplomatic corps were working the issues with Milford/Highland, Richards was putting together a case to strip Rife and Patrick of nearly all of their forces for his invasion.

His plan was simple. Cut Benicio off from his food base by building a fortified line south and west of Delta Township. Then, send raiders out into the agricultural areas to force Benicio’s hand. He would be forced to cross the fortified line to save his farmers.

I-96 very tidily defined the southern and western edges of Delta Township. As a divided highway with service roads, it provided an near-ideal environment for razor wire and fire-teams spaced every three-hundred yards.

Richards did not trust the fire-teams to repel a serious attack. They were under-equipt, under-trained and unmotivated. But the fire-teams would simultaneously slow down the attack and announce it.

Richards had roving reinforcements, armor, positioned on the service roads to reinforce the fire-teams.

The attack force left at eight in the morning. Richards did not know what tore up Derious’s force, but Richards wanted to encounter it in the daylight. That, and he was bringing almost three-thousand soldiers to Derious’s two-hundred.

Part of Richards’ plan, the one he presented to Torvaldsen, was that he would break Benicio’s back and then send the “extra” troops back. Doctrine stated that the offense needed a three-to-one numerical advantage to succeed. Benicio had a thousand fighters. To send less than three thousand was to plan to fail.

Richards’ plan stripped the cupboard bare. Of course he would send the extra troops back after he no longer needed them.

Yeah, right. (sarcasm font)

The fire-teams were sequenced. The ones with the farthest to go were in front. The ones who were penciled in to secure the line closest to Livingston County were at the rear.

As they approached Benicio’s territory, the majority of the vehicles moved over to the east-bound lanes. The only trucks that stayed in the west-bound lanes were the concertina wire laying trucks. Again, the ones in front were tasked with driving up to specific mile-markers before starting their wire drop.

It has often been observed that God has extra guardian angels assigned to drunks, fools and young children. On this day in late October, he also smiled benevolently on the Livingston County force.

Every man-jack and nearly every able-bodied person over the age of ten in Capiche were harvesting potatoes, apples and ear corn. By 2010 standards, the corn was too moist to harvest but many cribs had been built where ear-corn would be under a roof and drying breezes could infiltrate and complete the drying. Unlike the previous year when much of the corn had been harvested when snow lay thigh-deep in the fields and much had been rendered unfit for human consumption by mold, Capiche vowed to get every ear, every kernel into the barn in good condition.

Benicio’s forces were twarted by other factors. Richards anticiopated resistance from that direction and was prepared to suppress it. Initial efforts were scattered and disorganized.

Two hours after Benicio had been informed of the invasion, Richards was dug-in from mile-marker 92-to-104 with a fire-team every two-tenths of a mile. Preliminary reports indicated that Richards had scouts positioned out ten miles from the ends of the mainline to forestall flanking maneuvers. Livingston County drones filled the air.


Discussion around the Capiche planning sand-table was acrimonious.

Predictably, the people who had been the most certain that Livingston County was not a threat remembered events differently. Many of their sentences started with “I told you….”

Rick Salazar had advised Chernovsky to let the loud-mouths spout...for about forty minutes. Everybody was stressed. Nearly everybody had to vent before they could buckle down and get to work.

The total idiots would thoroughly discredit themselves. At that point, Chernovsky could take control of the table.

Taking their lead from Chernovsky, nobody wasted any energy arguing with those who claimed to have 20/20 eyesight.

“I have a few questions.” Chernovsky gained everybody’s attention.

“What will it take to accelerate our original plan to cut transportation between here and Livingston County?” Chernovsky asked.

One of the braver gad-flies, emboldened by the liquid lunch he braced himself with before the meeting challenged Chernovsky. “This invasion throws those plans into the toilet. You guys fucked up and the old plan isn’t going to save you.”

Chernovsky looked at the man whose face was flushed and who was breathing heavily.

“It was a good plan a month ago. It is a good plan now” Chernovsky said mildly. “The only thing that changed was the timing. But I think we all know that regardless of when they attacked, we would not have been ready. That is why I am asking what it will take to speed up the plan, to get the timing back into alignment with the reality of today's battlefield.”

The delivery was so matter-of-fact and practical that everybody else around the table accepted it as a done-deal.

Tomanica spoke up first. “We need a crew to pre-assemble demolitions. I need Milo and his truck. I also need about fifty gallons of gasoline for fuel and an ass-load of black coffee.”

Chernovsky looked at Milo.

“The hole drilling process is still the bottleneck. I can speed that up if I make trombones with three different lengths. I can hook them up on their own run of hose and turn them on-and-off with quarter-turn ball valves.”

Milo put a piece of lined paper on the table. “This is what I need to make the three trombones. My biggest problem is getting fire-hose.”

Chernovsky looked over at Rick Salazar. “Do you have anybody who can go to Paul Seraph. I bet they have fire-hose in some of the old school houses.”

Rick said “I am on it.”

“This is like magic.” Chernovsky said. “The key to making magic work is to have the audience looking someplace else.”

“Our jobs, tonight, is to have the dickheads from Livingston County looking everywhere but at Doan Creek and the West Branch of the Red Cedar river.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Where is Indonesia?

Number of Covid-19 cases, by country, as reported in Wikipedia Feb 16, 2020.

As expected from the virus' origin in China, distribution is roughly related to proximity to China, economic ties to China and percent of population that is ethnic Chinese.

Population that claims to be ethnic Chinese
Comparing the two lists, the one country that stands out as having many citizens of Chinese ethnicity and is in close proximity to China but has yet to report any Covid-19 cases is Indonesia.

Why is that an issue?
There are two scenarios.

One has authorities on the existing cases like hobos on ham sandwiches. They are all over it. And they are not reporting for political reasons. That is the more desirable of the two scenarios.

The other scenario, the less savory one, is that the authorities are oblivious to the eight or more people infected with Covid-19, wandering around Jakarta infecting hundreds or thousands of other people.

Why did I pick eight out of my rectal region? Because there are 22 reported cases in Malaysia and Malaysia is equidistant from China and has three times the number of ethnic Chinese. At this point, one would expect the number of cases in Indonesia to be approximately 1/3 the number in Malaysia. Reported numbers lags actual cases, particularly when an epidemic is in the growth stages.

Another anomaly is Venezuela. They have many ethnic Chinese even though they are far from mainland China. Given the state of that country, consider what a goat festival that would create. The resulting diaspora of potentially infected Venezuelans could bring Central and South America to its knees.

The fickle finger of fate in epidemiology
Those streaks of apathy, or poor or ignorant or oppositional populations are what make epidemics "interesting". They are the Wedgie Stewarts of the Seven Cows story.

The one patient who deliberately infects as many others as possible.

The people who have substance abuse issues or work in "the sex industry" or are marginalized (sometimes by their own choice)...they are the joker in the deck.

Why do I characterize them as streaks rather than pockets of apathy? Because pockets are contained while streaks can reach out and touch any one of us.

Adventures in buying a new truck

To cut to the chase, no, I do not have a new truck.

The truck we looked at Saturday is a good example in the frustration.

I found a vehicle that fell within the basket of age, miles and price.

We drove to Grand Rapids, an eighty minute drive.

The woman selling the truck was waiting for us in a running vehicle. Clearly, she did not live where the truck was parked.

She admitted that she did not own the truck. It was her husband's. I didn't think any more about it. Her voice had slight traces of eastern European around the edges.

The truck was super clean. Very little rust.

It also had six inches of snow on it and it did not want to start.

Oil was newly changed and over filled.

I took it for a drive. The steering was heavy and the steering wheel was positioned 90 degrees from factory setting.

I was not able to verify the mileage because the DIC (get your mind out of the gutter, it means Driver Information Center) would not stop scrolling error messages.

The price was about $1400 less than Kelly Blue Book.

I told the woman I was interested.

I got back home AND....various VIN checkers told me the VIN was invalid.

I asked the woman to take a picture of the VIN. An hour later she sent me a crappy, almost unreadable picture. Fortunately, I have several sets of young, confident eyes.

That VIN checked out. The vehicle had been totaled out in 2019.

So...maybe there was a reason for all of the air-bag codes.

I called the lady back and said "Thanks, but no thanks."

She suggested that maybe I could have it for a lower price.

Again, "Thanks but no thanks."

I felt a huge sense of relief. The "unavailability" of her husband bothered me.

Was he in prison? Deported? On Deployment? Had they split up? Was she a cleaning lady who worked for a senile, old woman and selling a vehicle that REALLY was not hers?

The hunt continues.

A few pictures of the NSAID shelves at Walmart

Photos of the shelves that hold NSAID like ibuprofen, aspirin, acetaminaphen and naproxin.

Picture taken at 8:00 AM Sunday, Feb 16 in Lansing, Michigan.

I don't know what the stocking rotation is but I did not expect to see the shelves this picked-over.

Acetaminophen (Tylenol) was one of the high-runners.
Naproxen was the other high-runner. Ibuprofen and aspirin still available in large amounts.
This kind of post is more of a curiosity than hard data. It could be the start of hoarding. It could be hiccups in Just-in-Time inventory. It could be a sign of a brutal flu season or of a third-shift shelf stocker calling in sick.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Working people for Bernie

A brief discussion of wealth and wealth inequality

The left uses the politics of envy and hate to drive a wedge between Americans.

The Number One hammer for driving that wedge are the statistics regarding "massive, obscene wealth inequality". A frequently quoted statistic is that the 400 wealthiest people own more than the bottom 50%,

According to the ever-helpful Wikipedia "The combined net worth of the 2019 class of the 400 richest Americans was $2.9 trillion"

What is wealth and how is a value established for it?
Wealth is different from income. Wealth are assets that you bought or money you put in the bank.

Ultimately, assets are what the market will pay for them, but a common way of valuing assets, short of selling them, is to perform a Net Present Value analysis. That is, estimate the future cash flow from the asset and then discount it using the prevailing interest rate.

Basically, how many millions, billions or trillions of dollars of bonds would you have to buy to spin off that kind of cash flow.

Define ownership
I "own" something if I have a contract or a law that says I own something. It might not be on my property. It might not be in my bank account...yet.

Here is the part you can quibble about
I submit that the "entitlements" portion of the annual, United States budget is "owned" by the bottom 50%, wealth wise, of the United States population.

That stream of moneys, assets and services funnels through that bottom 50%.

In round numbers, that is $0.9 Trillion in current Social Security spending, $0.9 Trillion in Medicaid/care spending and $0.2 Trillion in Food Stamps and other transfers.

Suppose the average Social Security recipient gets benefits for 20 years, the average Medicaid/care recipient gets benefits for 30 years (the average inflated by the inclusion of younger people in the Medicaid program) and Food Stamp recipients get benefits for fifty years.

Also suppose that Social Security costs rise by 6% a year, Medicaid/care by 10% a year and Food Stamps by 6% a year.

Finally, assume a 3% discount rate. That is the "rate" on the bond you will buy to mimic that cash flow. That bond is the "wealth" the bottom 50% has title to (hence the term Entitlements to describe this part of the budget).

Throwing them into an Excel spreadsheet and using =NPV(discount rate, array of values)

Note that I am giving enough details so readers can replicate the calculations or substitute their own numbers rather than depending on my guesses.

And the answer is $1.6e+14 or $158 Trillion dollars.

That is 55 times larger than the $2.9 Trillion in net assets owned by the 400 wealthiest people in the United States.

And that is JUST the Federal entitlements and does not include wealth hidden in insurance policies and pension programs. For instance, the Illinois State Pension programs has liabilities north of $200 Billion. That "liability" on Illinois' books is an "asset" on the books of the workers who will receive those pensions.

The irony of the Sanders/Warren/Buttigieg plans is that they will tank financial assets and the struggling pension plans will implode, absolutely destroying the wealth that contract represents.

That tips the "massive, obscene wealth inequality" argument more than a little bit.

Working People for Smilin' Joe Biden

Don't worry. You are his WEDNESDAY side-chick...

Working People for Buttigieg

Friday, February 14, 2020

Working People for Bernie

Working people for Bloomberg

Working People for Buttigieg


Scroll to about the two minute mark to get to the science stuff.

When we sneeze, we don't release naked virus. We release droplets of many different sizes and embedded in those droplets are sloughed off cells with virus embedded in them.

You don't have to filter out virus sized particles. You have to filter out droplets and/or dehydrated droplets.

When it is good to be boring (fiction)

Thermite is a mixture of finely powered aluminum and iron oxide.

Aluminum has a much greater chemical affinity for oxygen than iron. After being heated to the critical temperature, the aluminum ‘steals’ the oxygen from the iron oxide and the process releases a huge amount of heat.

Bereft of its oxygen and pumped up with heat, the iron oxide becomes molten iron with a density that is seven times the density of liquid water.

Larry Tomanica didn’t have enough thermite to take down an entire bridge. The production process was encountering difficulties. The aluminum had to be finely powered. More importantly, iron oxide is not red rust.

Rust is hydrated iron oxide. Making iron oxide suitable for thermite involved finely dividing iron and then oxidizing under hot, dry air.

The industrial infrastructure in Capiche was hitting multiple bottlenecks in manufacturing thermite.

Tomanica had enough thermite, in his estimation, to cut two, 15” I beams similar to the ones in Miguel’s sketches. Pertinent to Tomanica’s calculations was the fact that Miguel’s bridges were held up by seven I beams. However long it took to cut two of the I beams, it would take three times as long to cut seven of them.

Bridges are some of the toughest structures on the planet. They suffer abuse, gross overloading, the elements, thermal expansion and contraction and are expected to stand for fifty years.

Modern bridges are also designed with sacrificial beams. If an errant truck or tractor, barge or alien spaceship hits the bridge and takes out the outermost beam, the bridge remains standing and capable of carrying the specified load.

The bottom line of the thermite experiment is that it did not work. The bottom, horizontal flanges of the I beam were efficiently cut by the thermite. The fifteen inch tall, vertical flanges were a different story.

Based on the best information Tomanica could find, he started the column of termite at the top and let it burn downward. Larry had the fighters pack dry sand/clay around the column of thermite to hold the super-heated puddle of molten iron against the half-inch thick vertical web.

It was an exercise in futility. Less than half of the web was cut through due to the sand/clay rupturing and allowing the molten iron to spill out, away from the steel beam.

Time spent: seven hours. Beams completely cut: zero

Conclusion: Thermite good for welding and cutting horizontal steel but not useful for cutting I beams.

The test for disassembling bridges was even more conclusive. Apparently, bridge designers take into account that certain elements of society might be tempted to remove steel members and turn them into salvage yards for scrap prices. All fasteners had buried nuts and disassembly by wrench first required the removal of the entire deck. That just wasn’t going to happen.

Cutting with a plasma arc cutter had some promise, but it was slow going and generated large amounts of light and required a generator. The working assumption was that the crew would have to disable twenty-four bridges in one night. The plasma arc cutter wasn’t going to get it.


Having settled on explosives to demolish the bridge, Tomanica created a drilling crew and had them practicing to build speed and proficiency.

Chernovsky gave Tomanica a list of roadbeds that were internal to Capiche to mine. Chernovsky wanted them mined.

Tomanica didn’t ask questions. His crew needed practice. Chernovsky told them where to practice. The first place they practiced was a mile north of Kate’s Store.

That brought them to Milo Talon’s attention.

He was hauling a load and stopped while Tomanica’s crew struggled to bore a four inch diameter hole into the compacted gravel roadbed.

One of the nice things about the new economy is that most men were their own bosses. If they wanted to take a break, they could stop. If they wanted to talk to a neighbor, they could. If they wanted to work long one day and start late the next so they could go fishing...well they could.

Milo stopped and watched the crew. It was similar to the work he had done before moving to Eaton Rapids and marrying Nyssa. It seem like eons ago but in fact had been slightly more than a year.

Milo installed seawalls. You could say that Milo was the resident expert in punching holes in the ground under difficult conditions.

After five minutes, Tomanica waved Milo through. Milo shook his head “no”. He was still watching.

Tomanica wandered on over. “See something funny?” he asked.

“Nope.” Milo said.

“Then why are you smiling.” Tomanica demanded.

Larry was frustrated. He had hoped that the crew would speed up with experience while they were slowing down as exhaustion and blisters made themselves felt.

“Because that is not the way I would do it.” Milo said, honestly.

“Do you think you could do any better?” Tomanica challenged.

“Depends. How important is it?” Milo asked, mildly.

Milo had more than a full-time job. He didn’t need any distractions...unless it was super important.

That is when Tomanica caught himself. Something about how Milo presented himself. He didn’t come across as the typical bullshitter.

“You would have to ask my boss, Chernovsky” Tomanica said as Chernvovsky himself showed up to review the, so far, dismal progress.

For all practical purposes, Chernovsky and Milo were brothers-in-law. Chernovsky was married to Janelle and Milo was married to Nyssa, both foster children of Rick and Kate.

“Hows they hangin’?” Chernovsky asked Milo.

“Better than they seem to be doing.” Milo said indicating the exhausted men with a jerk of his thumb.

“How important is it that they get those holes bored out?” Milo asked.

“Pretty damned important.” Chernovsky said. “Mom is at her wit’s end. She is damned tired of invaders entering Capiche and having their way with her store.”

“And when mama ain’t happy...” Chernovsky continued

“...ain’t nobody happy” both men finished.

Milo frowned. He would have to make some calls to renegotiate some delivery schedules but family takes precedence.

“How many more holes you guys gotta dig?” Milo asked.

“Three more, here. Then an ass-load more in a couple of other places.” Tomanica said.

“Why don’t you guys knock off for the day. Meet back here at eight in the morning” Milo suggested.


The next morning, Milo showed up. He had two IBC cubes on the bed of his truck. They were full of water. He had a 9hp fire pump and hose and a "trombone" made of 1-1/2” black iron pipe.

Milo started the pump and let it warm up. Then he picked up the short “trombones” and walked up to the stake that marked the location of the next bore-hole.

Milo angled the barrel away from his legs, leaned into the short handles and depressed the trigger. A blast of 100 psi water exploded from the tip and quickly gouged a hole in the ground.

After drilling two feet in about thirty seconds, Milo stopped the water and screwed a two-foot long extension on the end of the  trombone. Another minute and another two feet then another extension. The top of the bore-hole grew in size as the hole deepened. Mud, sand, gravel, even fist-sized rocks disgorged from the hole with equal ease.

Five minutes, eight feet.

“How deep do you need it?” Milo asked.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Working people for Bloomberg

Working People for Bernie

A little something for those who like Southern Gospel music

DeQuincy, Louisiana's New Vision Trio

Looks like they are enjoying themselves.

Working People for Buttigieg

There are no civilians (fiction)

“Why don’t you grow a set of balls for a change!” Kate spat at Rick Salazar, her husband.

Rick jumped back as if a rattlesnake had popped him in the kneecap.

Kate lost her temper with Rick about once every five years. She was overdue.

Rick was always completely oblivious to Kate’s distress when she blew up. She sent signals. He missed them. She sucked it up.

Until she couldn’t.

“Why don’t you fight for what is ours?” Kate asked. “Why do you passively stand by and let us, let ME, be violated?”

“Instead of fighting, you roll over like a female collie” Kate said. And then she spat into the bushes outside the pavillion that served as Kate’s Store. She could spit like a stevedore when she set her mind to it.

Rick rewound the conversation in his mind to see what had set her off. He came up dry.

“Look, all I said was that Chernovsky expects us to be invaded in a week to two months. I suggested that we strip as much stock out of the store and that you have a plan to skeedaddle” Rick said. “It is the prudent and logical thing to do.”

“And a MAN would say, ‘Not one inch without blood.’” Kate said back.

“This will be the fourth time invaders will have destroyed my store. Do you need to be swatted up-side the head with a clue-bat? You know where they are coming from. You know where they are going” Kate said.

“Rather than shrugging like a helpless eunuch and GIVING them MY store...you should be digging trenches and spiking the roads. Make THEM fight for every inch.” Kate said.

Then Kate crossed her arm, turned around and walked away before she said things she would really regret.

Rick was a thoughtful man who saw connections. He rarely did things in haste nor was it often that he moved in a straight line. He stood still for a full minute, his mind turning at a furious rate.

He did not chase after Kate. She had thrown down the gauntlet. Winning her approval did not involve hugging or pretty words.

When something you considered a variable becomes an immutable constant, then the universe of possible solutions changes. Some potential solutions will fall outside the “permissible” region. Other solutions that had been dismissed out of hand float to the top, and if accepted as necessary, open up an entire new universe of optimum solutions.

Rick walked over to the CB and whistled up Chernovsky. “We need to talk, face-to-face. Tonight.”

Rick went to Chernovsky’s house. Chernovsky was Rick and Kate’s honorary son-in-law. Chernovsky was married to Janelle who had been brought into the Salazar house in her early teens as a foster child. Janelle aged-out while still with the Salazar and everybody thought of her as Rick and Kate’s child.

Rick had never traded on that relationship until today when he demanded an audience with Chernovsky.

“What’s up, buddy?” Chernovsky asked Rick as Chernovsky handed him a tall glass of lemonade.

“Kate pointed something out to me that deserves your attention.” Rick said.

“Yeah, what's that?” Chernovsky asked. He knew something was up. Rick was one of the elders of the community and he had virtually BEGGED to come over.

“Livingston County needs agricultural land to feed themselves. It is far easier to steal than it is to develop for themselves. The last time they invaded us they made bee-lines to the stores.” Rick said.

Chernovsky nodded. Rick was not telling him anything he didn’t know.

“They took over the stores for two reasons. One: That is where the food was so it was the fastest way to load up their trucks and Two: The easiest way to starve a vassal state into submission is to hijack their distribution system” Rick said.

Chernovsky wouldn’t have said it quite that way, but what Rick said certainly fit.

“So what did Kate say that got your attention?” Chernovsky asked.

Rick wasn’t going to tell Chernovsky THAT.

“Kate said, if we know where they are coming from and we know exactly where they are going...then we should make them bleed for every inch of the way.” Rick said.

Rick leaned back and took a long, slow sip of his lemonade. He was giving Chernovsky time to chew on the idea.

It took Chernovsky about twenty seconds to wrap his mind around what Rick was saying.

Wilder had turned Chernovsky into a reader of history. Chernovsky’s mental model of what Livingston County would do to Capiche was formed by Sherman’s ride through Georgia and South Carolina. Sherman's men created a fifty mile wide swath of destruction. It was not focused or aimed. It was intended to destroy the South's ability to feed itself and to destroy its ability to continue to fight.

But Rick made a lot of sense. Livingston County’s last raid had been very successful...for a while. Chernovsky did not know how much additional information Livingston County had, but it seemed likely that field reports of the easy penetration and initial successes would have made their way back to headquarters.

“Obviously, you have had more time to think about this than I have” Chernovsky temporized. “Give me the skeleton of a plan.”

“Put up decoys where Pete and Steve’s stores used to be to draw in the raiders.” Rick said. “Salt the road with IED so they cannot retreat. Put spike strips in the roads where we have maximum elevation advantage and then mortar and shoot them to pieces.” Rick said.

Chernovsky liked simple.

“What about Luke and Kate’s stores?” Chernovsky asked.

“They are deeper in Capiche” Rick said. “I think there might be time to flood the muck-fields the way Hawk is doing over by Webberville.”

“Get the raiders stacked up on a stretch of road going across a muck field, blow the roadbed in front of them and behind them. Then kick the snot out of them. It is not like they have anyplace the can run or hide.” Rick said. “With any luck they will never get within a mile of Kate or Luke’s stores.

“You know there is risk to civilians when we start putting out IEDs” Chernovsky said.

Rick looked him in the eye. “Since Ebola, there are no ‘civilians’. And there are work-arounds. I think we should ‘push’ four weeks of food to every household in Capiche. It is not their choice. They have to take it because the roads might be impassible for that long.”

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Is the .308 Winchester enough gun for North American hunting?

I was dinking around on the internet to kill a little bit of time.

I did a search on ".308 Winchester in Alaska" just to see what people were saying.
.308 Winchester on the left, .30-06 on the right.

Before I go farther I want to share that with advances in propellant technology, the .308 Winchester of today matches or exceeds the velocities of the .30-06 Springfield of 1950. And with modern bullet designs, the .308 Winchester easily out penetrates the 30-06 of 1950.

In 1950 the .30-06 was the go-to round for hunting brown bear and was even considered a fine round for hunting cape buffalo.

Today, the armchair hunters, internet experts and well-healed hunter will tell you that the .308 Winchester bounces off deer, moose, bears and is best suited for shooting coyotes and feral cats.

To take a bear, for instance, requires a magnum (defined as a cannon capable of flinging a small-block V8 at 3000fps) and depleted uranium projectiles.

What changed?

A hint
I sold a LOT of the MilSurp Israeli .308 Mausers up here in Northern Ontario....a lot of moose got killed with them by LOCALS!
The problem isn't with "How Big is the Gun", it's "How WELL you can Place the shot". My Native friend up here hunted forever with a 30-30 both in lever and bolt actions.
They know how to get to a moose and kill it at a 20 to 50 yard range.
The "modern" hunter need the big magnums to shoot across the lake or a clearing, since they have usually no clue how to get close!! Rightfully so, since the noise of the ATV or Bike will drive the game away
ANY .30 Cal will kill a moose as long as it is in the RIGHT range and the shot is placed right!
There are more moose killed with a 30-30 over the years then with any of the other kind of calibres.    Source

I have to agree that a ridiculous number of hunters, even young ones, ride ATVs to their deer stand even if it is a humble two-hundred yards off the road.

Another couple of shortcomings of the modern hunter are lack of patience and inability to track. They come charging after the wounded animal like they are going to run it down. The animal, which often laid down fifty yards from where it was hit, jumps up and runs for the county line.

One other attribute of the native hunter is that he isn't punching a time clock. If he sees an animal but it is too far away, he is likely to pass it up knowing that he might get another crack at it tomorrow. The "dude" is ever mindful of the fact that he only has a few days to bag that moose or elk.

That is not to say that there are NO natives who take crappy shots. Optimists abound everywhere. What I am saying is that there is less time pressure on the native.

.30-30 Winchester on the left, .308 Winchester on the right
In the 1970s Michigan slaughtered 30,000 dairy cows that had been contaminated with PBB that had mistakenly been mixed with their feed. Many of those animals were shot with .30-30s. Box-after-box of ammo were loaded into guns and, according to the people I talked to, the ones who shot their lever-guns until the barrels were smoking hot, every bullet was a pass-through and not a single, 1500 pound Holstein took more than one shot.

A moose is a lot more aerobic than a dairy cow, but it isn't much bigger. If a 30-30 can kill a Holstein then a .308 can kill a moose.

The only asterisk is that a .308 Winchester is plenty if you are hunting bear but you might be more comfortable with a bigger gun when the bear is hunting you.

Working People for Bernie