02 July 2014

State of events

I've been pretty swamped getting a miter saw stand/cart designed and putting it together, plus a large number of items are happening otherwise.  This is the year the deck has to be replaced, along with getting the yard put into shape, and getting all of that figured out, planned out and looking to put a shed in for doing my woodworking finishing.

If I'm not working myself to exhaustion in the shop, then I'm recovering from doing that the prior day.

Basically while the world appears Stuck On Stupid, I'm just doing the basics of learning skills and applying them as I go, with all the fun that entails. 

With that said I do have a couple of new firearms that will be heading in for a check-out, and I will hope to post on those later this summer.  With ammo a bit less scarce I will try to get to the range a few times, and work out some things with my existing equipment. 

As I have warned over the years when my health gets incrementally better my posting rate will plummet and that is the case as of now.  And that is not just here but everywhere.  Such is life.

A bit more fiction to put up this month, completing one story that I left partially up and putting another finished one up, plus one that is in work. 

Research for any other work falls by the wayside, but my past work serves as the basis for what I see currently.  Systemic overload is not an unusual venue for an elite class to take via politics, and that is where we are at now.  No good will come of it unless we, as individuals, improve ourselves.  Prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and make sure that you are prepared.  That is what I am doing now.

03 May 2014

Shop changes

This last winter I struggled through the end of my router table build and then started in on building up some of my manual hand planing skills while deciding what to do next.  In the way of in-shop builds I decided that a miter saw table/cabinet was on the agenda so as to get it off the ersatz secondary workbench and onto a mobile platform.  To me that also meant that the cabinet it was on would also have to contain the thing, so that I could put a secondary surface on it and use it for other things, like supporting long work pieces that I hand plane.

But that really couldn't get started in earnest until I had a place to roll it to, and the shop was in desperate need of freeing up some workspace.  A dead upright freezer was taking up valuable space and since it was no longer in service that meant it could go.  Yet in that tree of decision making came the concept that a roll around miter cabinet really wouldn't be all that useful sitting in the same place and what I really needed was some shelving there.  As I was working on getting stamina back by planing down 5/4 and 6/4 stock lumber, mostly Sassafras but also some Mahogany and 8/4 Acacia to make the frame for the roll around cabinet, I really couldn't devote much time to simple storage shelving.

Before that, however, I also talked to an electrician for doing some of the around the house stuff (front and rear porch lights, mostly) and talked about the can lights in the basement.  He said those were probably made for attic use and as they have insulation around them, have a heat sensitive switch that makes them cut out.  Thus the blinking light effect which is killer on lights of any sort, and even CFLs did this in a few of the cans, so they were not a solution.  I could get up there, take down each light and remove that cut-off or have him do that, which would mean a major tear-down of the ersatz secondary workbench... or I could re-examine the issue.

If the problem is heat generation from 60 watt incandescent bulbs (or equivalent in CFL which run at a lower power consumption) then the problem was too much energy wasted in making the actual light.  Too much heat per watt consumed, in other words a ratio.  I took a look at some of the standard charts for light output (you know, the visible and not IR stuff) and saw that LEDs used up about 10 watts of which 1 was wasted in heat and the rest went to equivalent light output.  LEDs have come down drastically in price over the last 5 years and are now cost competitive with CFLs.  So now the idea began to percolate that instead of new fixtures or re-wiring the old ones, what I really needed were just better bulbs (or point source LEDs with diffusers).  I purchased one to try in the one can that blinked on everything, almost immediately and put that in the can receptacle.  After 10 hours, the light was not blinking and that is longer than I usually spend in the shop.  Five more of those and my problem was solved.

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Plus I get a Color Rendition Index above 75% for these daylight LEDs.  An old CFL with titanium dioxide coating on the outside is still used in its workshop clamp on receptacle as it helps to get rid of some of the stuff that lingers in the shop from the chemistry there.  It is minor but over time it does do some good and I can notice changes in the shop air over time with it.

The router table is on the left and becomes, as I knew it would, a flat surface catch-all while not in active use.  Still things are looking up and I'm hoping to get it into active use later this year as the roll around miter saw cabinet gets up and running.  Since it is a cabinet and not really a chest, I'm making a frame for it and then will slat in sassafras on the outside.  The frame base will be acacia at the base, walnut for uprights and long cross-pieces, and mahogany for short cross pieces.  Major dimensions are determined, but interior arrangement is TBD.

With better lights I can see what I'm doing, a big, big plus.  And I will say this about daylight equivalent lights: they actually do have a positive effect on my mental attitude the moment they get turned on.

Over the workbench is a Dazor two tube fluorescent task light I got off of someone at Ebay.  They still make those things, too!  And with the buzzing magnetic ballast, to boot.  I do want to hit them up for an electronic one if they have a retrofit kit: the buzzing isn't that bad at first, but as it warms up you hear it more.  With that said they packed a lot into the base including counter-weights and such, and if they don't have a retro-fit kit then finding something to fit in that space may be impossible.  The reason for the task light is that when I'm at the drill press or doing other work nearby the workbench, even with better overhead lighting I could use something a bit more directional, and that does the job perfectly.

So, where was I?

Oh, shelving!  Yes had to move the freezer out (hand truck necessary for that) and then once it was out of the way I got the measurements, realized I wanted some space behind the shelves for stuff like saw horses and out-feed supports, and ordered it from Global Industrial.  Archive boltless shelving but good for workshop use.

The one thing that boltless shelving lacks are components to upgrade them with.  I learned, to my disbelief, that the makers of the stuff utilize slightly differing spans (the cross pieces) so that one manufacturer's boltless shelving doesn't necessarily fit another's system.  You get a bit of lock-in that way and stuck with an original supplier.  Unless you aren't doing a systemic approach and going piecemeal, like me.  With that all said I would really have liked panels in prior projects or at least stuff that easily adapts to boltless shelving in general but is manufacturer agnostic.  In this case the panels I wanted to put up on the end was pegboard to start getting all my smaller stuff organized.  I ended up buying some Alligator Board (meant to be put up on studs or drywall in front of studs at 16" intervals) in 36" wide by 16" high, and then drilled mounting holes for the half-inch difference between the distance for boltless uprights and the board (with a bit of overhang on the rear side).

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Here is as you turn to your left as you walk in.  Note the shelf over the sink that I just put in, to get rid of some of the stuff sitting on there that is getting crowded out by the old Sharp microwave.  The microwave still works, heats up water just fine and that makes it available to reheat my coffee, tea or mix up some oxalic acid for bleaching wood. 

In the foreground is an outdoor halogen task light serving as the vacuum hose rest.  It is really hand for that... but I don't have any place else to put it at the moment... so necessity and all that.  The bench grinder with Oneway Wolverine system is obscured just behind it.   A bit better organization should get those stowed away and out of the way in the future.

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This is the heart of the affair and the light canister above it is the problematic one with anything but an LED.  Pegboard on the end with the shop hand tools that fit.

The contractor table was sits on the bottom part of the shelving, and the rest of that level is used up for a few things that don't really fit anywhere else at the moment.  At the top of all of this is a Jet fine particulate air system which should really be suspended from the ceiling, but as I had nothing scheduled for that high up and fine particulates are a concern, that is the best I could do.  I does not suck nor blow from the vent from the utility room and does set up a general circulation pattern in the room when its on.  Also it is made for 16" rafter spacing and the basement has 24" spacing... but the floorboards of the main floor are at 16"! Not perfect but it works.

All the cased tools (electric hand planer, circular saw, drill/driver, etc.) plus some anonymous jigs, fixtures and miscellaneous tools now sit on the upper shelves.  The long searches to find them and get them out from behind other stuff is now over.

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Let me just say that getting all the Japanese hand saws out and available is a huge plus on its own.  Getting the heavier hammers away from the workbench but nearby it frees up valuable space they were taking up.  Of the two jigsaws I have, the one on the outside is the cheap knockabout one, used for rough work, and the other remains in its case on the shelving.  The belt sander is a freebie with a Triton router, and I'll have to make more use of it and possibly see if I can rig up some sort of jig for it as well.  The random orbital sander is just a cheap workhorse that does the job, nothing fancy.

The blue shelf on the upper left is cleaning and lubrication supplies and the stuff I tend to use the most when maintaining power tools.  By the waterfall rack is the camellia oil with a microfiber rag, and it is used for the light coating on most of the hand tools.

 

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The lower half is hammer, mallet, wrench and other saw land, plus the Swedish axe picked up as milsurp.  I finally broke down and got a hammer set suitable for more than driving nails as I've already had to do some bashing of sheet metal and wanted something a bit more appropriate to that on an as-needed basis.  The wrench and socket sets are Harbor Freight and the racks and holders are after-market.

Along the side are my measuring stuff like yardstick and center finding rule, plus architect's square.  The central portion of the racks are where the screwdrivers, pliers, power drill and baskets for other stuff are.  Craftsman for the screwdriver set as they are both reliable and cheap.  Plus they all fit on that 24" magnetic strip which I bolted on to the pegboard.  Getting my drill bit sets (jobber and brad point) means I don't have to go on the Quest for the Missing Drill Bit Set any more.  Two DeWalt sets and one cheap store deal with driver bits that I don't mind if they die for a good cause.

Getting all this done took awhile because it is just me doing the work.  I hate eating up time with this stuff, but if it saves me time later, then it is well worth it.  The amount of ingenuity that has been put into making the various parts of this are a testament to the engineers involved and the workforce that made them.  My hat is off to you folks!

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Look, its clutter!

More organized, though, and the top shelf for the ESW is now just down to some of the better cleaning supplies and lubricants, plus gun cleaning case on the side.  The miter saw is nearly alone on its level, now.  Under that some storage space has been opened up with re-arranging things and more of that needs to go on.  By the side, leaning up against stuff on the left, are the Sassafras boards I've been planing smooth.  When I'm doing that work the place smells like a rootbeer factory and is rather pleasant. 

That shelving system in back may appear very cluttered, and that is because it is.  Yet it is organized clutter of the bulky stuff that needs to be somewhere and I can find it easily.  Foam sheets and stuff like foam rolls go up top.  Rarely used but no other good place to put them.  When I need them they need to be at hand.  When I don't they need to be out of the way.  Long piece jig storage is under that along with raw stock stuff like t-track and miter track.  Below that is excess and back-up storage, stuff used rarely or kept on hand just in case, plus broken down equipment that won't be used in the near future.  Then comes bulk storage for wood and finishes where the sun can't get to them.  Drill press roll around cabinet in front of all that stuff, plus smaller air circulator with HEPA filter: it gets air up out of the dead space and into circulation.

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From the drill press, reverse angle looking back at the workbench.  The lower shelves behind it are for wood storage, up and off the ground, a pain to get to so that means I have to have a good reason to drag it out.  Some scrap storage at the end of the shelving behind the fastener drawers, then some more wood and bulky clamps, plus Grippers.  Upper shelf starts with some air handling stuff for future use, then migrates through jigs then sharpening supplies, then back to air handling stuff.  Top shelf holds my surface vise and then all the board scrap storage.

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At the very end, on the far wall and tucked out of the way, is my clamp storage on normal pegboard.  That includes all the clamp using straightedges, as well.  My aluminum bar clamps aren't easy to see and that is for the good since I only use those when I have a large piece to assemble.  I used them a lot on the router table, that's for sure.  Some lighter stuff is on one of the two shelves on it, like the ersatz panavise and magnifying fine work holder.  Seen on the shelving to the left are some hand planes in their sacks which are out to remind me to give them a good sharpening before I start in on the major part of the cabinet, then my various takedown guides from the NRA and Browning, and above that miscellaneous plastic stripping and papers to put down for messy work.

Work does go on, albeit slowly.  I have an Incra I-box jig to start using with the table saw, and that looks to be fun.  Some general moving of other stuff in the house means an old set of metal shelving is out with the freezer and I need to get a round table out from a room where it is just taking up space.  Once those are out and removed, then comes looking for a deck contractor who also does some fencing and possibly something like a storage shed. 

The deck is the prime concern for this year, but the fencing for the yard is falling apart and held on with a few nails and strong ties.  I would like all of that done in something like Ipe or Port Orford Cedar (aka Lawson's Cypress), but only if it fits in with the awful looking pressure treated wood that is the norm for the development.  Basically anything that can be put up and ignored for a few decades is what I'm after, along with finding the contractor that can deal with the slope the place is built on which has a sudden rise nearby, which means frost heave shifts all the fencing and warps the stuff until you can't open the gate.  Then it falls apart.  Perhaps some concrete supports for the uprights, buried under the surface will do the trick.  That slope is not the friend of our yard of the postage stamp sizing.

So there is where the shop is at right now.  Spring takes its toll, doing all this takes time and effort.  I don't mind the organizing part that much, but would prefer to be on the learning and building part... but one step at a time.

Still doing some writing and has a story that has to play through, and that will be posted soon as well as finishing up Earthfall.  Starting in on the next M-5 alt story history, and it's a tough one as it's a character study more than a story.

06 April 2014

Two cases

There are two interesting corporate issues currently under discussion.

First is the Hobby Lobby case, in which the owners of a corporation hold religious views that prevent them from supporting parts of what are required under Obamacare:  abortion and contraceptives.

The other is at Mozilla and the leaving of Brendan Eich due to pressure for his political donation to Proposition 8, which would define marriage as between a man and a woman.

In both cases the corporation refers to standards: The Holy Bible in the case of Hobby Lobby, and a standard of conduct at Mozilla.

I would say, up front that corporations, when held by private individuals or families, or even those held by stockholders numbering in the millions, are free to have a corporate code of standards, morals and ethics for their company.  These are voluntary associations and represent a freedom of association amongst the people: no one forces an individual to work for a company.  I would say that it would help employees, greatly, if the actual codes are published with specificity, not with generic terminology referring to 'community' or some such, but to the details of what the corporation will actually hold you to.  That can include things for the corporation, itself, that it will not do as a corporation so as to uphold the standards set down for the company by those who own it.  I don't care if it is a sole proprietorship or a huge corporation: majority rights to set standards would function scale-free.

In the case of Hobby Lobby, they made it perfectly clear that the company would be more than willing to purchase health insurance that did not contain those items that they morally cannot support.  Supporting those elements are an anathema to them and they would prefer to close the company or not provide health insurance due to it.  Thus as this involves the federal government, it is a freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of conscience from religion that is being cited, and all of those are specifically protected in the 1st Amendment.

With Mozilla there is a case of punishing Brendan Eich for his 2008 contribution to Proposition 8 in CA, where his views were no different than Barack Obama's, Hillary Clinton's or a large number of other Democratic politicians.  Eich's speech is public speech, as much as a monetary contribution is 'speech', and there are specific laws prohibiting the use of political speech to punish employees, at least at the State level in CA there are.  Thus there is an extended 1st Amendment protection to political speech.

In both cases the founders of the company have set standards that the company is to live by, and in the case of Mozilla, Brendan Eich is a co-founder of Mozilla, so he should know what it was he constructed.  The job qualifications for Eich match up closely with what nearly any high tech company would want for a CEO, and he has never discriminated against gays, lesbians or tried to prevent couples from getting health insurance.  Thus he has held in his public job, to his commitment to the company.  When not on the job he is a private citizens who is entitled to public speech as a citizen, not as a member of a company.  Thus there is a distinction between public speech as member of a corporation, and public speech as a private citizen.

Hobby Lobby does not face the same sort of public speech problem, but is facing penalty of law for holding religious views as part of how they intend to run a company.  For the owners there is a requirement that in their lives that there be continuity between their publicly expressed morality in private and the company they formed to serve the public.  I have not heard of Hobby Lobby discriminating against its employees, and the employees perfectly understand the formulation of corporation they are joining when they request to be hired by it.  As a company, Hobby Lobby does not require its employees to profess their religious beliefs, nor does it perform any coercive acts to make them conform in their private lives to the standards made by the company.

Thus in Hobby Lobby they would be fine if people still did the things they did not pay for directly: there is no coercion of its employees to toe the company line in their life outside of work.  Its employees are free individuals away from work.

Mozilla feels free to intrude on the non-company life and speech of its members, at least it does for Brendan Eich, and use protected political speech as a reason to coerce individuals under its employment.  Its employees are not free individuals away from work and may have perfectly legal and constitutionally protected activities used against them in employment.

It is strange that the one corporation, not requiring people to adhere to company standards away from work is vilified, while the other, which punishes individuals for their private expression of protected speech, is lauded.

Often the same individuals deploring Hobby Lobby for maintaining its standards and lauding Mozilla for violating its work contract based on an individual's protected speech are the same people.

And yet the issues are just the same. 

Even worse is that the 'openness' is in the case of Hobby Lobby which does not discriminate based on religion or your private activities when they employ individuals.  The one claiming to have 'openness' is the one that discriminates against mere private opinion and represents a closing of mind to opinions or even a toleration of a separate life outside of work.

28 March 2014

Methodology applied to strange case

Malaysian Flight 370 has given rise to a lot of speculation and, with the sighting of debris off the cost of Perth Australia,  hopefully the final hours of the flight will become known.  Sadly, yes, but known.  The recovery of the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder will bring the case to rest.

Over the days since its disappearance the speculation of what happened to it has had to cope will large amounts of new material, like Boeing revealing that the flight last hours longer after the disappearance of the aircraft from radar.  That was not directional data, however, and left a wide radius from the last known position of the aircraft to the point its fuel runs out (Source: WSJ).  That last point, over the South China Sea, was after one course change that was not scheduled that happened during the hand-off of Air Traffic Control zones, and Flight 370 did not properly communicate with the new ATC zone.  At that point all verbal communication was lost with the flight, as well as its transponder information, but information from the engines continued to be sent.

That was the jumping off point for speculation which immediately went to terrorism.  If it was terrorism, no group is claiming it, so that leaves an empty hole in the situation.  That was filled by the report of Lithium Ion batteries being transported on the flight, and even when stowed properly, they can cause problems in very rare instances, which includes bringing flights down with on-board fires in the cargo hold.  That defaults to the situation for Flight 370 by Occam's razor which is that the simplest explanation with the fewest assumptions is the best.

Pilots get trained in a set of skills that start from the beginning, and they are summed up by the process of actually flying an aircraft: Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

Thus flying the aircraft and keeping it aloft takes precedence, not just during normal flight but during emergency situations.  The terse 'All right, good night' response from the pilot at the last communication point for the ATC zone he was leaving may be an indicator of something going wrong on-board that had not been properly identified.  Just after that the first course change to the South China Sea took place, deviating from the prior flight path heading into China.  The protocol of Aviate, which is fly the aircraft, comes first.  And the loss of verbal and transponder information may be an indication of either a system manual reset or the power supply to those systems going out for other causes.  The engine transmission system has its own power supply separate from those systems, and could remain intact and functional.  It would keep on doing so until the aircraft shut down or the engines ran out of fuel.

If a pilot has a bad situation and is keeping the plane flying as a priority, then that pilot is determining if the plane can continue flying.  With an in-flight emergency being handled a pilot can then change the course, again.  That follows Occam's razor.  What does not follow is the pilot then succumbing to the situation right after that.  The question of it being reasonable that a pilot could misjudge his own capability to the point of not realizing how bad the situation had become after, perhaps, 5 to 10 minutes of dealing with it, is startling.  Human error does occur, yes, and cannot be discounted and may even be the case for Flight 370.  If so that is unfortunate.  That last flight change, to wind up in the Indian Ocean means that there was some capacity to not only Aviate but Navigate.

The South China Sea is a region of shipping that is heavily trafficked, what with Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia nearby, and destinations of Japan and China to the east and India and the Middle East to the west.  A pilot having any doubt about his viability as a pilot has a perfectly satisfactory option of ditching in the South China Sea.  It may seem heroic to try and not to succumb to fumes from a smoldering fire, but to Navigate and think you can do that and not know for a certainty means you have had time to address the situation.  While ditching may be a bad option, it is less worse than calculating your ability to Navigate while having a heavily trafficked area to ditch in.  It is not just the pilot's life, but that of everyone on board that is at stake.

There are circumstance where, perhaps, the ability to control engine speed has been taken out by a fire, leaving the jets to continue on without changes.  A crash into the sea is not a good way to ditch an aircraft, true, and if you cannot have that under your control then you have few options left as a pilot as you no longer control the airspeed of the plane.  That is a serious problem when it comes to Aviate.  There are options of what to do next, but they start to fall in the realm of changing angle of attack, changing elevation and trying to stall the engines out.  A bad situation but better than crashing into terrain or water at speed.

Thus, by Occam's razor, we get in-flight emergency and then gross misjudgment of the situation.

Is there another way to explain this scenario?

Of course: The Joker scenario.

Someone on-board planned to use the aircraft to give a wild suicide ride, and then crash the aircraft.  Some people do just want to see the world burn.  This is a viable option and requires little else beyond madness, which is just as likely as an emergency, a veteran pilot making gross misjudgments  and then succumbing to a situation he thought he could handle.  Even though a viable option, it is one that requires the intent of a man or woman gone mad to do it.  Thus it is less likely than the one by Occam's razor.

At this point it is possible to say that Occam's razor has resulted in a non-simple explanation that requires some types of problems coming together in a single instance that is unlikely.  If this razor is not cutting to a solution, is there another?

Yes, there is, and anyone examining military history will know it pretty well.  A main attribute for this goes to Napoleon, but it has shown up in various forms from various individuals over time. It is Hanlon's razor:  Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

For this instance is stupidity indicated?

Piloting an aircraft and making navigational changes indicates some level of gross competence and skill in these tasks.  These are not stupid acts, but ones with intent behind them.  Their results may be stupid and dumbfounding, yes, but they are done with competence, reason and foresight: they are not acts of a stupid individual.  Deranged, maybe, but not stupid.

When you cross of stupidity with Hanlon's razor you are left with: malice.

With malice you now have a crime of intent.  There is a methodology to examining criminal cases, and while the well known Method, Motive and Opportunity tend to come to mind first, they assume you know who is doing it.  Without who you do not get to MMO.  From that you step back to the 5 W's and 1 H:

Who

What

Where

Why

When

How

For Flight 370 we can definitively say What, Where and When up to the point of the second course change.  In fact that goes all the way back to the first course change, as they are the same thing: the aircraft losing contact and changing course between ATCs.

That leaves us with Who, Why and How.

A smoldering fire from cargo may not be by malice, but fills in each of those: the shipper, the cargo and a rare instance of fire.  Mind you the shipping container was rated for fire containment, but that could have failed.  The flight crew is just trying to deal with the situation in this instance, and are not active participants in the problem save for being unable to deal with it.

Going Joker answers these, also: an experienced or even novice pilot with some ability to fly the aircraft, they were deranged and took it over by some means.  Not pleasant to think about, but can't be discounted.

Terrorism?  This is two pronged as it may or may not involve active flight crew participation.  This broadly includes large scale criminal organizations, terror organizations or hostile governments doing something covertly.

Without participation you get a hostile take-over of the aircraft.  This would mean the debris in the Indian Ocean is from something else if the take-over was successful and the plane went on to a destination unknown.  Now isn't that a frightening prospect?  A large cargo vessel goes down and no one notices it.

Still remaining on the hostile takeover fork, it is possible that the take-over went seriously awry.  That can get the flight to the Indian Ocean.  It can also get it crashing into a mountainside or under triple canopy jungle or in some other waterway.  That could leave the debris from Flight 370 in the Indian Ocean or, again with the horror of finding a ship went down without notice.

On this fork the How is a terror take-over.  The Who would be unknown as would the Why.

With the crew or even just a single member of it, taking the aircraft over, you get the same bifurcation as with the hostile take-over and with the same results, save that How is the member of the crew, Who is the organization behind him/her, and Why is unknown.

There are, perhaps, only a couple of organizations and maybe one government that might try this.  None of them are China since they are the destination of the flight and it would be most easy to redirect a flight to a secure airfield and seize it, and it might be days or even weeks until someone noticed as this is China, after all, a big place with a tight lipped government.  With that said, with so many passengers being Chinese Nationals, any organization attempting to seize the flight would also know that they would get the wrath of China.  Possibly a nuclear tipped wrath, at that.

Who would tempt that?

Criminal organizations can get what they need much more cheaply, and there is little indication of individuals worth kidnapping for any reason.  It is cheaper and easier to kidnap the poor, those remotely located or the unwary for nefarious reasons than it is to take a plane full of people and do... well... what, anyway?  No good reason comes to mind, so while Method and Opportunity can be filled in, Motive or Why gets these types of organizations scratched off the list.

Of the Nations that might try this, possibly only the Magic Kingdom of Mr. Kim might be insane enough to do something like this.  However power hungry and egotistical the ruler is, however, he isn't crazy and not a Joker type.  At least so far as we can puzzle out.  Besides the Motive or Why leaves a gaping hole in the idea of NoKo being behind this.

Terrorists usually don't take an aircraft and do nothing with it, claim no responsibility and generally remain silent about it.  They might buy an aircraft, as bin Laden did in the early '90s in Africa, but hijack one and claim nothing and do nothing with it?  Unless there was something like new bioweapons in with the people or cargo, the rationale even behind the most fantasy based of organizations remains out of the realm of possibility.  The Why part remains unanswered.

Anything left?

A death cult.  AUM once operated in the USSR/Russia and was able to brainwash some KGB/FSB agents before the group dispersed.  Note most went back to Japan, but not all of them did.  AUM had this wonderful idea of liberating people's souls to a better life by killing them now.  In fact that was such a good act in their line of reasoning at the time, that mass-murder was a really great idea.  After being brainwashed with drug, sex and rock'n'roll, the followers had to be convinced that as enlightened individuals they had to save themselves to continue on with the good work.  They might not leave any notes, any causation and generally not want to attract attention to themselves carrying on the good works.  Tends to get people put in jail and deprogrammed, and then put on trial.  So a death cult could fill in Who, Why and How is via the terrorism paths.  Do note that AUM had many competent individuals within its organization and the entire operation ran a chain of computer repair stores in Japan which was their main money-maker for the founder of the cult.  The founder has reformed, of course, but the individuals who were once with it and disappeared when it dispersed, are probably not reformed.

In general the simplest explanation remains the best, and I'm expecting that the debris is from Flight 370.

If it isn't, and its not just something dropped off by a dead circulation spot in the Indian Ocean like the large debris field in the northern Pacific, then things turn nasty.  Perhaps incompetent and nasty.  Or competent and nasty.  And do note that debris is yielded from multiple possible paths, as well.  Only the in-flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder can finally dispel the speculative paths and leave us with what is left.

Evidence is needed to sort this out and remove the suppositional and to fill in the blanks. 

26 February 2014

Disruptive technology

What is disruptive technology?  It is technology that brings in a change to our understanding of what is fundamental to a system.  Computers changed how businesses processed information which meant that whole categories of workers were put out of jobs.  Rooms that used to be filled with accountants were downsized.  Similarly rooms full of draftsmen and architects got pared down, as did rooms of engineers to design everything from squeeze bottles to jet aircraft.  Computers disrupted business in ways large and small, and that intruded on our lives and our lives slowly began to change, as well.  Connecting computers to a network and having them internetworked was meant, way back when, to be a way to have computers split processes amongst them as they were few and expensive and idle time was money lost.  Instead the internetworked systems allowed people to contact each other across all the networks in a way that enabled human intelligence to be shared and increased.  E-mail was the first real disruptive technology of networks, and then, later, would come the ability to browse from site to site with information put up in a flat network system with agreed-upon means to display information.  The Internet with World Wide Web came into being and the compelling way it changed lives was through interaction of people to do many things that they could have never done before.  People who would never dream of publishing anything soon had blogs and realized that there was readership available with people desperate for something interesting to read.  Videos also were shared when bandwidth increased, and that also changed our view of each other and the world.  And commerce moved onto a global stage accessible by anyone with a computer connected to a network, and competition became global at a retail level.

Our world changed.

Yet the seasons still come and go, the Earth orbits the sun and the Moon orbits the Earth.  That world did not change as it is Nature and beyond our reach to change, as its laws are required to allow us to be here.

Today we see the last gasp of governments trying to regain control of people in ways large and small, from the Transnational Left and Right we see the disruption of societies as governments and companies try to liquidate what it means to be a citizen of a Nation.  Across much of Europe the attempt to socialize health care has resulted in the horrors of the British system and people left to die of thirst, to the lax attitude of physicians all taking their holiday on the hottest days of the year so that hospitals cannot treat those with heat stroke, to the much admired German system that can't seem to ask its own people if they actually like having to wander from doctor to doctor to get seen on a timely basis and never have continuity of care from a physician that knows them.  These systems have tremendous overhead and lacks big, small and always at the cost of actual health provisioning in a way people prefer.  Bureaucrats run these systems and they are run for the interest of the governments involved, not the people.  Control over personal health is one of the fastest ways a tyrannical system can find and eliminate opposition as it finds out just who has what, and then figure out how to deny opponents actual health services.  With such a whip the political class finds ways to dole out a bit here and there to get re-elected, all in the knowledge that the people are afraid of government as it has taken over the health care system.

This is an antiquated way of doing things, with large lab systems taking lots of time running costly tests at high overhead with may companies and levels of bureaucracy which now must be sustained by the individuals actually using the system.  Put in a few levels of bureaucracy and the actual cost of provisioning health care goes up, timeliness and quality of care goes down.  Computers have not made inroads to anything but forms processing so that forms get ignored on a more timely basis by bureaucrats playing solitaire on their systems instead of just hanging out at the water cooler instead of doing their jobs.  They do that, too.  Computers increase inefficiency as well as efficiency and provide many ways to goof off that could not have been conceived of just 30 years ago.  Health care has resisted disruption from the inside as the insiders have a vested interest in keeping a high overhead, high cost system going: it provides control and makes money for them, and grants those running it much power over others.

Yet automation and miniaturization are coming to the health care system, but this isn't coming from the decaying inside-out.  No this is coming from the outside, from people who don't much care for the inefficient, high overhead and centralized control realms that are the tyrannical features of government controlled health care.  Disruptive technology threatens the apple cart by putting power back in the hands of individuals who are able to walk away from aspects of the system to save money and empower those doing the liberation.  The place to start isn't with the 3D printing of organs... well, that is a pretty good place, actually, but to disrupt the entire system requires hitting at its underpinnings and that is with blood tests.  The things you have to get done to yield some information about what is going on with your body.  I've had so many of them it isn't funny, and if you have ever seen a nurse walk into a room with a full rack of vials to test your blood then you have some understanding of just how important the tests are.  Due to my health I've had up to 35 taken at a single draw, and there are people who have many more than that taken just to try and identify what is going on in their bodies.

From Instapundit I read, today, about a woman who, at age 19, started a company after dropping out of Stanford University and used her tuition money to put into the company (Article at Wired).  She is afraid of needles and thought that there must be a better way to do blood testing.  Now at 30, Elizabeth Holmes' company, Theranos, is featuring a 30 test service at Walgreens in Palo Alto, CA.  The blood sample is a miniscule amount that fits into a half inch collection vial.  Results for their tests are in 4 hours.  The company posts the costs of its tests on its website and they are a fraction of the cost of going to a traditional lab.  Their goal is to run thousands of tests via a single sample, and to have that sample available so that if a doctor wants secondary tests done on it they can be performed without the need for a re-draw.

Do they test for bacteria and viruses? Yes.  Instead of culturing blood, and risking contamination, they do a DNA screening to see if known viruses or bacteria are present and at what levels.  That is days of specialized culturing thrown out the door and the most definitive way to find a pathogen, via its DNA, put in its place. At some point my guess is that they will be able to give you your entire genome so that physicians can quickly see what medical conditions you might be susceptible to via your genetic profile.  The cost of a full genomic work up has been dropping drastically, and making it an everyday test done in hours, not days, would begin to change the course of medicine as diseases can be cross-referenced with genetic background and statistical results derived from it.

Even with Moore's Law slowing due to the fact that physics at the atomic level limits the size of processors, the ability to multiply what a processor does increases computing power per die for production.  Once some of this technology goes off patent, or once competition with alternative and faster ways gets into play, the cost of the tests will go down, the rate to get results will speed up and the size of the sample will decrease.  Give it two cycles of Moore's Law and the microengineering to get a 'lab on a chip' and you will begin to see the first generation of full spectrum blood sampling devices as something that becomes available in nearly every store.  Put in a few more cycles of Moore's Law and that then becomes a device you buy to add to your cellphone.  Cross that with the X-Prize for a non-invasive tricorder and you have Dr. McCoy's minimal test tricorder.

Time for something like this to get off the drawing board?  Less than a decade.

What is the basis for Larry Niven's device in the Known Space stories called an Autodoc (a capsule you rest in that does full medical procedures from a simple blood test and manicure to setting bones and treating cancer, or replacing organs or limbs)?  A full spectrum blood test.  As results are processed faster and cross-indexed with diseases, pathogens, and genetic background plus having a 360 degree body scan to see what is wrong with you, then the basis for the Autodoc appears.  The blood test is key as it is the basis of so much of modern medicine that it isn't funny.  As of today the first piece of the Autodoc is being worked on, although not as an Autodoc but as a way to get small blood samples to yield up information that used to take racks of vials to get.

This sort of technology is no longer a question of 'if' but of 'when' and 'how soon will it get here'.

Our health care system is on the verge of disappearing as we know it, with its high overhead bureaucracy, within 20 years.  Possibly within 10.

What will you do when you are given the freedom of having all of that medical knowledge on the cheap about yourself and then able to have a doctor step you through the beginning of understanding just what is in your body and how you can deal with it effectively?  Why would you want 'insurance' when you are in control of your medical life in an absolute way that is at once low cost and easy to do?  The power to control you begins to evaporate with low cost, effective blood testing that breaks the old system at its foundations.  How long will it take to do simple genomic cross-indexing of inherited conditions?  I'm guessing less than a decade, but certainly in that 20 year time horizon.

And what happens when governments try to take this away from stores, doctors and you?

That is an obvious power grab directly against you, the individual, to put a bureaucrat in control of your life and death.  Yet it will be cheap and easy to snub these control monsters.  Will you dare to be free of them?

This is just one disruptive technology.  Others are here and just being perfected.  Still more are coming from the horizon at a high rate of speed.  If you want to know why those wishing to dissolve your personality, your bonds to your country and your fellow citizens, are so desperate it is this: the future is arriving far faster than it can ever be controlled.  Governments are ill suited to coping and understanding what this means.  Individuals, however, are very able to do so as they do not have the burdens of collective stupidity and bureaucracy to hamper them.  And those who will benefit most are the poor, who do not need this controlled for them to get a good price as it already comes with a low price tag.  What happens when the poor are set free of the clutches of those wishing to control them?  Will they quake in fear of freedom or just shake their head at those who seek control and let them know that their day is over?

Change is here, but it isn't the one that the controllers hoped for.  Quite the opposite as this kind of change is their deadly enemy.

Welcome to the future.

I embrace it with open arms while those who seek control yell in fear of it.

Oh, happy day.