Icons Receeding

As many of you know, I’ve worked all my life in the electrical/electronic industries, especially where they intersect. But my hobbies are also mostly in that area, especially radio communication. But much of that field is one of those that has been outsourced. One doesn’t really think of full-on engineers being amongst those who lose their jobs to immigrants, and in fact, they do, although somewhat rarely. What mostly happens is that their wages are suppressed unreasonably. The professional organization of those engineers is the Institute of if electrical and electronic engineers or IEEE. They say this,

IEEE USA says H-1B visas are a tool used to avoid paying U.S. wages. “For every visa used by Google to hire a talented non-American for $126,000, ten Americans are replaced by outsourcing companies paying their H-1B workers $65,000,” says the current IEEE USA president, writing with the past president and president-elect. The outsourcing companies, Infosys, Cognizant, Wipro, and Tata Consultancy in 2014 “used 21,695 visas, or more than 25 percent of all private-sector H-1B visas used that year. Microsoft, Google, Facebook, and Uber, for comparison, used only 1,763 visas, or 2 percent,” they say.

There is a bit more at Slashdot, and some further links. This matters both because of the people, and the impact they have on the future, and because it is indicative of the damage that immigration can cause.


Speaking of the end of an era, International Crystal Manufacturing (ICM), a company that any of us who dealt with radio since 1950 has probably dealt with, have announced that they will go out of business around the end of May. The American Radio Relay League (ARRL, the association of American amateur radio operators) has the story. Sad, but I know from my experience that we have other (perhaps) better, and certainly cheaper ways of doing the things we used to do with crystals. Kind of the ‘buggy whip syndrome’, I’m afraid.


Our friend, the Unit, the other day in comments called this to our attention. It’s quite a story.

It was originally called “mistake out”, the invention of Bette Nesmith Graham, a Dallas secretary and a single mother raising a son* on her own. Graham used her own kitchen blender to mix up her first batch of liquid paper or white out, a substance used to cover up mistakes made on paper.

Background – Bette Nesmith Graham

Bette Nesmith Graham never intended to be an inventor; she wanted to be an artist. However, shortly after World War II ended, she found herself divorced with a small child to support. She learned shorthand and typing and found employment as an executive secretary. An efficient employee who took pride in her work, Graham sought a better way to correct typing errors. She remembered that artists painted over their mistakes on canvas, so why couldn’t typists paint over their mistakes?

Invention of Liquid Paper

Bette Nesmith Graham put some tempera waterbased paint, colored to match the stationery she used, in a bottle and took her watercolor brush to the office. She used this to correct her typing mistakes… her boss never noticed. Soon another secretary saw the new invention and asked for some of the correcting fluid. Graham found a green bottle at home, wrote “Mistake Out” on a label, and gave it to her friend. Soon all the secretaries in the building were asking for some, too.

Bette Nesmith Graham – The Mistake Out Company

In 1956, Bette Nesmith Graham started the Mistake Out Company (later renamed Liquid Paper) from her North Dallas home. She turned her kitchen into a laboratory, mixing up an improved product with her electric mixer. Graham’s son, Michael Nesmith (later of The Monkees fame), and his friends filled bottles for her customers. …

Keep reading at Thought Co. And as you do, if you’re like me, you’ll also wonder if people do things like that these days or simply go on welfare. Well, I’d bet Bette would do it all again. But, I suspect that Liquid Paper is another company that unless it diversified (I haven’t a clue) has suffered from progress, as well.


I like melons. I bet you do too!

Cardboard boxes did this sort of labeling in. Too bad.


And my vote for best video of the season.

And some companies just seem suicidal.

Paraplegic British Cop Walks

nicki-rewalk-at-cstWhat a remarkable story! But in a way, it’s not. It’s what happens in societies that are free to develop new ideas and revolutionary concepts. Remember, there was a day when the steam engine was just as remarkable. From Jewish News via Weaponsman

Nicki Donnelly was confined to a wheelchair after being seriously injured in the line of duty in 2009, but thanks to Israeli technology, she can independently move again.

Addressing an audience at the Community Security Trust (CST) on Tuesday night, the former West Midlands policewoman was presented with her personal ReWalk exoskeleton by sponsors, the Gerald Ronson Family Foundation and CST.

Speaking to Jewish News, Nicki, who started using the suit in April 2016, and who was moving independently in just seven weeks, paid tribute to the Israeli inventor, before thanking the Jewish community.

She said: “I’ve received a great awareness of the Jewish community. The more I tell the story about the Israeli inventor, who’s quadriplegic, the more it’s created an awareness that good technology comes from Israel.”

Nicki added: “It’s a number one goal to meet the Israeli inventor, Amit Goffer. I am truly grateful for his role in this.”

Hognose adds,

It made us curious, first, about medically-retired British police officer Nicki Donnelly. Turns out, she is also a photographic model and has a bio page at an agency for models with disabilities, in which she describes the cataclysmic career change imposed on her in a few violent seconds.

Do follow that link, this is one seriously impressive lady. To continue with the story

Just when my career progressed in the police force, specialized Firearms training, I was hit in a Road Traffic Collision, leaving me paralyzed waist down, complete paraplegia, t4 including limited fingers & hands function due to degenerative bone and joint disease.

My independence was gone and I was no longer in control. Now, after 5 years, I accepted myself and new opportunities came my way. I have also accepted I do require care needs and have helped when needed, but I am no longer afraid. I am so proud to use wheelchairs; they are my legs, an extension of me. My wheelchairs represent me.

The battery-powered system features a light, wearable exoskeleton with motors at the hip and knee joints. The ReWalker controls movement using subtle changes in his/her center of gravity. A forward tilt of the upper body is sensed by the system, which initiates the first step. Repeated body shifting generates a sequence of steps which mimics a functional natural gait of the legs.

via Paraplegic British Cop Walks, Thanks Israeli Inventor | WeaponsMan

Best story I’ve read all year!

50 Years Ago

apollo_1_patch-768x773last Friday, Apollo 1 burned on the pad at Cape Kennedy, lost with it were  Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom as Command Pilot, Edward H. White II as Senior Pilot, and Donn F. Eisele as Pilot. I was a disaster that all Americans, and in fact, the world shared with us. And as the details became known, it only became worse. From NASA

“Something about it just doesn’t ring right”:

One week prior to CM-012’s arrival at KSC, the crew and Apollo Spacecraft Program Office manager, Joseph F. Shea, participated in a meeting at which the crew expressed their concerns about the amount of flammable material in the CM.

Shea ultimately passed CM-012, over the crew’s specific concerns, through inspection.  In response, the crew sent him a photo of themselves in prayer over the CM, inscribed with the words: “It isn’t that we don’t trust you, Joe, but this time we’ve decided to go over your head.”

Shea subsequently ordered the manufacturer to remove all flammables from the CM, and CM-012 was moved to Kennedy with a “conditional Certificate of Flight Worthiness” – with 113 “significant, incomplete, planned engineering changes” needing to be addressed at KSC.

Subsequent to delivery, a further 623 engineering changes were ordered to CM-012 – significantly compromising simulator engineers’ ability to provide an accurate representation of the craft to the crew during training.

Nonetheless, the CM and SM were mated together in September, and the CSM underwent a series of altitude chamber tests, first unmanned, and then with both the prime and first (then second) backup crews between September and December 1966.

But technical issues with the CSM persisted.

An Environmental Control Unit in the CM had to be sent back to its manufacturer twice for design changes and operational leaks.

Moreover, the mated CSM had to be de-mated for inspection of the SM’s propellant tank after a tank on another SM ruptured during testing at its manufacturer.

In the latter part of 1966, Apollo 204’s backup crew was changed to Walter M. Schirra, Donn F. Eisele, and R. Walter Cunningham.

There’s lot’s of technical information in the article, and it’s fascinating. So is how it affected NASA, and provides a clue as to why it was so long until the next, the Challenger disaster.

Moreover, with all of these changes came new practices and manufacturing standards for Apollo and NASA.

But the culture change began far earlier.

On 30 January, just three days after the fire, Gene Kranz held a meeting with his staff in Mission Control.  Addressing his team, he said, “From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: Tough and Competent.

“Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do.  We will never again compromise our responsibilities.

“Competent means we will never take anything for granted.

“Mission Control will be perfect.  When you leave this meeting today, you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write “Tough” and “Competent” on your blackboards.  It will never be erased.

“Each day when you enter the room, these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee.  These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control.”

With this message, Kranz guided his team through numerous test flights, shakedowns of the lunar equipment, and successfully – and as safely as possible – landed the first two men on the moon on 20 July 1969, fulfilling President Kennedy’s goal.

Resonance with today:

Launches are exciting.  For many, they are the main event in spaceflight – the most visible aspect to missions that are otherwise unnoticed.

But a desire to launch – as Apollo 1 showed – should never be driven by schedule pressure from a company/agency or from the general public.

Nor should such a desire suppress a need to speak toward things that don’t seem, look, or feel right.

As SpaceX now prepares to return east coast launch capabilities via historic LC-39A at the Kennedy Space Center, it’s easy to clamor for a launch – to be excited for it – and become verbal as the launch slips due to pad readiness.

But a desire to launch should never override a calm, measured return to launch capability – whether that launch is a crewed or uncrewed mission.

For as much as NASA learned the lesson of what can happen when schedule pressures override safety with Apollo 1, they learned that lesson again 19 years and one day later when schedule and mounting delays overcame judgement and the advice of engineers – for which the Challenger seven paid.

So too was this lesson painfully re-learned again 17 years and four days after Challenger, when an unspoken but building schedule desire to launch Node-2 Harmony to the ISS led – perhaps subconsciously – to a “dispensation” of the External Tank foam debris problem, to which the crew of Columbia was lost.

(Images: NASA)

via 50 years on, reminders of Apollo 1 beckon a safer future | NASASpaceFlight.com

While our failures are not as spectacular as Appolo 1, this catastrophe is a reminder to us all that we need to do it right, no matter the time it takes. Brave men’s (and women’s) lives may well depend on our decisions. I’ve had a long career in technical fields, and you know, one of my proudest boasts is this: Nobody ever died because of what I have done wrong or wrongly left undone. Part of that I learned from Apollo 1. So did many others, at NASA, and many other places as well. It crossed my mind often as I walked into Grissom Hall at Purdue. There are many lessons to take from the American space program. This may have been the hardest, losing brave men always is.

199548main_rs_image_feature_747_946x710-467x350

von Richtofen Day

hev43nen_originalWell, we missed this one yesterday, but GreatSatan’sGirlfriend reminded us.

Gott Mit Uns!
100 years ago today, Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen was awarded Imperial Deutschland’s highest military award – Pour le Mérite – often informally referred to as the “Blue Max.”  Pour le Mérite was awarded strictly as a recognition of extraordinary personal achievement, von Richthofen earned his for shooting down 16 confirmed French and British fighters and observation planes (not counting two unconfirmed kills).
With Red Baron as his nom de guerre, von Richthofen in his all red fighter wrecked havoc on Allied Air Forces for the next 15 months, shooting down 80 aircraft in very close combat.

For comparison, the highest-scoring Allied ace, the Frenchman René Fonck, achieved 75 confirmed victories. The highest-scoring British Imperial fighter pilots were Canadian Billy Bishop, who was officially credited with 72 victories, Mick Mannock, with 61 confirmed victories, Canadian Raymond Collishaw, with 60, and James McCudden, with 57 confirmed victories.

via GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: von Richthofen Day Fair amount more at the link, and well, you know.

 

But who killed him, really? Well, that argument has gone on for a solid 100 years now. This sheds some light on it.

Is there any real importance in the event, or in who shot him down? Probably not. But it is well for us to remember that once upon a time, our enemies were honorable men, who lived and died by the same code as did ours. Knights of the Air seems simplistic, in a way, but like knights, they were warriors who did their duty for their cause. That will have to do.

Freiherr von Richthofen was above all an able tactician and leader of men, as well as a superb marksman, and his heritage is still celebrated. Last I knew there is still Jägdgeswader Richtofen in the German Air Force. That too is as it should be.

 

Reality is Real

sometimes-people-talk-about-conflict-between-humans-and-machines-and-you-can-se-403x403-nk3qtqSomething a bit different today, but it still follows our long running themes. Both you never had it so good as well as reality is real. The world we live in was built by men who understood reality and found ways to harness it for our benefit.

That harnessing has led to the world we live in, from the guy that noticed that fire is hot, and started looking for a way to harness it to his purposes, to the guy who watched a rounded rock roll downhill and went on to make the first wheel. This goes right to the people who learned to split (and then combine) the atom, first as a weapon of war, but then as an appliance of peace and plenty.

The same in all fields, we started as little more than apes with imagination, and we built it all, and it’s all about reality. If 2+2 ≠ 4 our world is over, no matter how many wish otherwise. That is why so many in flyover states detest the liberal coastal elites, we can see that they have never learned this fundamental lesson – They cling to their unsupported theories (wishes really) about how things ought to be. We know better, what is, is. It has never, is not now, and never will be, different. Reality is real.

We have built on the shoulders of giants, from Prometheus on down, and the world of today is the result. If we follow those fools, the result will be the end of civilization, not western civilization, or eastern civilization, or any other subset, but civilization itself, a return to the primordial mud.

Well, you know, I’ve never been all that fond of “Nasty brutish, and short”. I think for me, I’ll stick with civilization, like you, it hasn’t given me everything I want, but then it was long ago when I was a child writing letters to Santa Claus, and I have earned everything I need – and then some.

Kipling touches on some of this in one of his poems The Secret of the Machines, and here it is.

 

Happy Saturday

Common Sense Tuesday

binsite1Most of you know that I really like the liberal arts, especially history and English. Kind of shows in the blog, doesn’t it? Taught properly they teach one critical thinking skills that one needs to get through life properly.

But they are my avocation, I spent many years as an electrician and a lineman, and that’s what I identify as. The guy with the most common sense that I know of is Mike Rowe, and he’s been on Tucker Carlson’s show a couple of times. Let’s see what he has to say.

 

Tucker makes a good point here, there is a real satisfaction in doing good. I’ve never seen a lineman that was real unhappy when we come in from storm work, bone tired, grumpy, and cold, yes, but also very happy that we got the lights back on. Yeah, we all like the money, but the job satisfaction is priceless. Besides, basic liberal arts should be taught at the secondary level, it was when I was a kid, that’s the basis of what I know, sure I’ve read a lot since then, but the basic structure of it all comes from high school, and to be honest, so did my vocational choice. Here’s another from Mike and Tucker.

 

He’s right, of course, if you can stand the lifestyle, Dakota is write your-own-ticket-land for a skilled man or woman. It’s rough, it’s lonely, and part of the year it’s cold as the dickens and summer is hot as hell. I’d be there twenty years ago, cause it’s also fun, and a lot of guys work from March or April till about Thanksgiving, and go south for the winter. Especially for a young guy without a family, booming, as we call it, is great fun. But if you want a settled life, in any of the technical trades, it’s pretty good there too, you won’t make as much, but you’ll be home at night, and you’ll do fine.

Another thing Mike doesn’t talk about here is that I know exactly one electrician on my level younger than forty. No doubt there are others, I like the rural lifestyle, and you’ll probably find more in the cities. My level is to be able to take a block diagram of a system and make it work safely and efficiently. Like one I did twenty-five years ago, before we computer controlled everything, where Joe Farmer drives up to his bin site and dumps wet corn in the pit and the system puts 14% moisture corn in the bin, automatically. Yes, it’s easier now, with computer controls instead of relays and discrete sensor systems, but it’s still not easy. It looked a lot like the one that leads this article

And it’s the same in all the trades, one generation behind me, it’s going to end if somebody, like Mike, doesn’t get people excited about it. It takes some brains, a willingness to learn, and an ability to do the work, and the combination is exceedingly rare. It’s also a big part of how we got here, the ability to solve problems in the field, without calling in every time we hit a snag.

But yeah, I’m one of the guys that will argue with engineers trained in the classroom. I’ll win too, not always, but often. I know because I’ve spent a lifetime doing this stuff, and I’ve pretty much kept up with technology, even if I write crap code. It’s at least as challenging as anything you can learn to do, and the job satisfaction, when it all works, is simply incredible, and the money isn’t bad.

And way back up in the first video, Tucker was right, people who deal with the real world, don’t burn the flag, mostly because we’re too busy earning a damned good living at 25 without student debt to have time to be silly like that. And besides, even if we are liberal (and some are) we know damned well that without America much of this wouldn’t exist. And it’s a lot more fun than sitting in an office playing with a computer, especially if you don’t get much feedback on how you’re doing.

And hey, Kipling even wrote a poem about us, don’t think he did that for junior accountants with a quarter million in student debt, It’s called the Sons of Martha

THE Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !

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