Category Archives: Uncategorized

Japanese whale hunting, seaweed, salmon and next year’s Toyotas

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.  Toward the bottom of this post you’ll find my favorite quote for 2013:  Salmon News:  “We think something happened in the ocean.”

The good news is the Japanese are still eating whales, even though you could light up Tokyo with the radiation in a whale liver.  Seaweed, too, they’re still eating. 

[This sushi thing's something I'm going to miss.  Used to always look forward to going to Tao Lyn Oriental Market in Albuquerque and buying packets of seaweed and sushi ingredients.  That's probably something I won't be doing again.]

The bad news is that the Japanese will likely pass up the rest of the human species in the race to the next evolutionary step.  Possible good news is they’ll devote that extra intelligence in the second head to actually improving Toyotas into the next evolutionary level.

http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=879

[Nice pic of a half-butchered red whale]

http://factsanddetails.com/media/2/20090819-Ray%20Kinnane%2030257371_redwhale.jpg

 

Love of Whale Meat in Japan

Home > Japan > 05Animals…

WHALES, WHALE MEAT, SCIENTIFIC WHALING, WHALE HUNTS AND JAPAN

Many Japanese, especially older and middle-ages ones enjoy eating whale meat. It is sauteed, roasted and eaten raw. Japanese say it tastes more like beef than fish. Whale bacon sells for as much as $180 a pound at gourmet food shops and dishes made with whale go for as much as $100 a plate at restaurants.

[Nice pic of a Japanese Whale Hamburger - tastes just like pork or chicken]

http://factsanddetails.com/media/2/20090819-minke%20whale%20bruger%20at%20hakodate%20restuarants%20BBC%20_40657000_ap_burger203.jpg
 Whale meat is dark red and doesn’t look at like fish meat. Japanese consider blue, fin and sei whales to be the most delicious. Sperm whales aren’t regarded as very tasty. Humpback meat isn’t considered that good but the organs are palatable. Japanese generally like minke whales less than other species because they are small and don’t contain much fat, which is what the Japanese love. Meat from minke whales is the easiest to get today. Before the 1987 ban on whaling the Japanese didn’t even hunt them.
 Whale meat in Japan has traditionally made into stews with soy sauce and spinach. These stews are now made with beef or pork. In the whaling town of Wadamachi in Chiba you can get whale steaks, whale jerky, carved whale-tooth jewelry and even a one-meter-long decorated whale penis. Some towns sell whale nose cartilage pickled in sake in cans with a spouting whale. Those who have tried it said the cartilage has a crispy texture and a pungent taste.
 Taruichi, a Tokyo restaurant that specializes in whale meat, offers 36 choices: fried whale, whale bacon, whale heart, whale testicles, whale kidney and even ice cream made with whale fat. Boiled tongue is said to be particularly delicious. At whale restaurants in Shimonoseki you can get fried whale tail, grilled whale tongue wafers, boiled blubber and whale sashimi. In some places you can get sliced whale skin and whale burgers made with fried minke whale.
 Whale meat distributors claim that whale meat is high in protein and low in calories and have alleviated the problem of toughness associated with whale meat through improved freezing techniques. The tail meat sells for as much $70 a pound and is prized for whale sashimi. which is eaten with grated garlic or ginger to mask the odor. The health benefits of whale meat is a matter of some debate. On study found that Japanese in Wakayama Prefecture that eat pilot whale have high levels of mercury in their hair.

Meanwhile, this for you sushi lovers:

Southern California seaweed tests over 500 percent higher for radioactive iodine-131 than anywhere else in US
Thursday, July 12, 2012 by: Jonathan Benson, staff writer
Tags: seaweed, California, radiation

http://www.naturalnews.com/036449_seaweed_California_radiation.html
 

And this for you salmon lovers:

Salmon News:  “We think something happened in the ocean.”
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2013/08/424670.shtml

Sockeye salmon at dire historic low on Canada’s Pacific coast — “We think something happened in the ocean” — “The elders have never seen anything like this at all” — Alaska and Russia also affected

Aboriginal people in British Columbia who rely on Skeena River sockeye are facing some extremely difficult decisions as sockeye salmon returns plunge to historic lows. Lake Babine Chief Wilf Adam was on his way to Smithers, B.C., on Monday for a discussion about whether to entirely shut down the food fishery on Lake Babine, something he said would be drastic and unprecedented.

Mel Kotyk, North Coast area director for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans said department scientists don’t know why the return numbers are so low. “[...] we think something happened in the ocean.”

“We’ve never seen anything like this in all these years I’ve done this. I’ve asked the elders and they have never seen anything like this at all.” said Chief Wilf Adam
These stories were posted up on enenews. This suggests a possible explanation is radiation from Fukushima. That is speculation at this point. It could also be climate change related.

In 2011, Arnie Gundersen, nuclear expert from Fairewinds said this: “So eventually though we are going to see top of the food chain animals like tuna and salmon and things like that that have this process bio accumulates. The bigger fish gradually get higher and higher concentrations. And I am concerned that the FDA is not monitoring fish entering the United States because sooner or later a tuna is going to set off a radiation alarm at some part and people are going to think it’s a dirty bomb or something like that. So that’s not here yet because the tuna haven’t migrated across the Pacific. But I am thinking by 2013 we might see contamination of the water and of the top of the food chain fishes on the West Coast.”

!n July 2012 Gundersen said this: “The federal and even state agencies are not measuring this… I’ve been working on the West Coast and I’ve been trying to get the people of Oregon to demand of their state, the people of Alaska to demand of their state: Check the salmon, it is not difficult, it’s on the order of $500 a fish. Of course you don’t have to test every fish, but let’s test a couple and see. Either alleviate the fear or announce that yes indeed they are radioactive.”

For now I’m thinking the seafood flavored cat food’s still safe provided it comes in half-inch thick lead cans.

Old Jules

Surveillance Weirdness

Saturday October 28, 2006  

 

This brave new century offers a lot of interesting twists and turns for the observant.  I was reading a blog this morning, someone ruminating over a friend request he’d gotten from someone, maybe in India.

I’d gotten a similar request yesterday, so it caused me to consider whether blogs aren’t being used by intelligence and law-enforcement agencies, both here and abroad, to find folks with particular sets of viewpoints.

For instance, I came across a blog the other day posted by a person who called himself something like ‘dope-smuggler’.  Hmmm, thinks I, is this for real?  The blog entries and photos all involved various aspects of the use of controlled substances.

Suppose I worked for DEA, I went on thinking.  Would I throw out a trot-line or two searching for folks who’d like to admit on blogs that they were felons?  I think I might.

Or suppose I worked for Mossad  (I think that’s the right spelling), the Israeli intelligence agency.  Would I like to know as many names and locations of people who held Nazi-like viewpoints?  Would I be equally interested in folks who rabidly approve of anything Israel might do?  Probably.

And so on.  But that’s not what this blog is about.

This blog is about what’s happened with surveillance technology and general nosiness, both of government and individuals.

The technology and availability of spying equipment with amazing capabilities and invisibility at a shockingly low price is out there for anyone.

At least it was shocking and amazing to me when I found myself moved to investigate the matter.

One day I’d been sitting at a blackjack table for about twelve hours, and when I got to my car in the parking lot my cell-phone rang.  I answered and was treated to hearing a long playback of my conversations at the game-table several hours earlier.  I thought back and recalled a guy who sat next to me for a while wearing an unusual fanny-pack he kept messing with, so I figured it was him.

But his motive for doing such a thing was a mystery, and how he happened to know my cell-phone number was one, as well.

That happened several times, the casino playback thing, but I only saw that particular person once, and when he took the chair next to me I asked him if he had his equipment with him.  “Oh yeah,” he answered with a laugh.  “I always carry everything with me.”  And left the table.

During the same time-period Jeanne was in New Mexico.  We were in the living room, me standing, her sitting across the room, having a conversation.  The land-line phone rang and I answered.  Similarly to the casino experience, I had a conversation played back to me, but this time it was the conversation Jeanne and I’d just had within the past five minutes.

Someone obviously had the capability to listen to what was said in my home.  But what’s intriguing to me is that they wanted me to KNOW they had that capability.

That happened a couple more times and I could never see any signs around the house of any microphone/camera, but it was obviously here.  From then until now I’ve gotten spam emails I don’t open, but with subject lines referring to something or other that’s happened in my life, said or done, recently.

Which confirms for me that I am one helluva interesting guy.  I cannot for the life of me imagine why anyone would put that kind of effort, energy and expense into my life, but I do try to provide with them with some amusement in various ways.

Sometimes I figure it’s the rich neighbor kid, sometimes I think it’s the neighbor across the street next-door to my buddy, Wes, who’s generally known to be a negative busybody.  But that doesn’t quite fit the casino incidents.

I haven’t a clue. 

But after the first phone-at-home incident Jeanne and I went to a surveillance store and looked over what was out there on the open market.  After seeing it, I decided we live in a time when it’s useless to think there are any secrets, any privacy, if anyone’s determined enough to want to know, sick enough to be willing to put out a few bucks and plant a device.

Flattering, though, knowing that despite the fact I don’t talk to anyone but the cats these days unless I’m on the phone, I’m still one hell of an interesting feller.

Golly.

Old Jules

Mel King

The hoopla about the dead cop in Tijeras got me thinking about my old friend, Mel King, and another dead cop just down the road from this one in Mountainair, New Mexico, in 1987. 

That one changed Mel’s life in a multitude of ways, for all the remainder of it.  I posted this on another blog December 21, 2005, the anniversary of his death:

If I ever write another book, Mel King will have to occupy a few chapters of it.  I’ve mentioned him a few times on this blog, but mostly, I’ve not been able to write much about him at all.  I’m still digesting what happened to him.

On one of the threads recently the discussion drifted to the War on Drugs.  I suppose if I’d never met Mel I probably wouldn’t have thought much about that issue, would never have bothered to form an opinion about it.

But in many ways, Mel was a product of that war, from the time it began during the Reagan Administration, he was one of the adversaries.  It changed him from a small-time marijuana growing woods-vet to a wealthy man.  When the ‘war’ drove the price of jade sky-high he was approached by a number of ranchers in the area, asked to teach them how to grow weed in quantity.  He became their broker, as well as a grower.

The War on Drugs involved Mel in a major felony arrest, confiscation of much of his property, caused the mysterious death of a police officer, got Mel targeted repeatedly on America’s Most Wanted television series, and constant harassment by the FBI, State Police and local police for the remainder of his life.

They wanted to believe he killed a Mountainair, NM, police officer because it was the only construction of the facts that didn’t expose the rotten core of the War on Drugs.  If Mel didn’t kill that cop, another cop, or cops, almost certainly did.

Unacceptable.

Shortly before he was murdered in December, 2004, he showed me an anonymous, hand-written letter accusing him of killing the policeman and threatening to come balance it all.  The undertone and nuances of the letter suggested it was written by another member of the ‘policeman brotherhood’ who wanted to even things out, not because he knew the dead cop, but because a person doesn’t get suspected of killing a cop and get by with it.

It’s time I began writing down a few things about Mel King anyway.

Mel King was a major, financially successful marijuana grower and large-scale broker in New Mexico for many years.  During that time he was also a long-term heroin addict.  (He first became addicted to morphine while in the hospital recovering from wounds he got in the Marine Corps in Vietnam).

The only way Mel got away with what he was doing for so many years was by being considered a complete maniac, and by making certain the authorities got their fair share of the proceeds.  He drove around in a VW van with bullet-holes in the windshield from the inside.

When he got busted in 1987, with 150 pounds in his house it was because he made himself too big a nuisance to be allowed to go on.  He was attracting too much attention.

But even so, he never came to trial.  That 150 pounds of high-grade vanished from the evidence lockers.  The empty bags with his evidence numbers on them were found in the home of the policeman who made the initial stop during his arrest.  But someone murdered that policeman, probably for the marijuana, which is how they happened to find the empty evidence bags.

While he was in jail awaiting bail, Mel resolved to turn his life around.  He freed himself from heroin and when he was released he started a successful furniture business, did his best to stay clean for the remainder of his life.  Succeeded in being a trustworthy, successful man and one of the best friends I’ve ever had.

During the years I knew him, Mel was a deeply spiritual man.  He was honest, guileless, hard-working, sincere, courageous, and in many ways, wise.  We prospected a lot of canyons together, talked of many things over campfires listening to the wind in the pines.  He was also my partner during Y2K.

Mel and I disagreed on many things, but he believed, as I do, that he knew what happens to a man when he dies.  He never feared death and he never believed he’d done anything in this life to give him any reason to fear it.

I believe he was right.

Old Jules

Mexico Trip Complete

Previously written Sept. 9, 2005

Mexico trip complete.  Home to the felines, with a gift bag to myself.  Another year of life.

Another time around the sun contained in these dozen plastic bottles rattling with medications.  Normal blood pressure. Pain and internal bleeding from acid reflux avoided 12 more months at the cost a few uninsured cents on the insured pharmaceutical US dollar.

Traitorous, cowardly purchases in these times when our nation needs our blind, unquestioning support.

Border guard:  “What country were you born in?”

Old man:  “This one.”

Border guard:  “What are these?”

Old man:  “Drugs”

Border guard:  “Who are they for?”

Old Man:  “Me.”

Border guard:  “Do you have a prescription?”

Old man:  “No.”

Border guard: (Shrugs).  “Go on through.”

Turnstile clockticks planetwise around a steel post.

Foreign enemy homeland fades  (No. No. That was a different century.  They’re friends now.  If not friends, at least neutral.  They’ve mostly forgiven us for taking this spot of land from them by force of arms), pulsebeat slows.

A dozen Hail Marys and a flagwaving parade in penance, I promise.  I pop a cap and sink a Prinivil dry into mouth cavern, feel the rush of sinking blood pressure.

Old Jules

About Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms

From a previous post April 3, 2005

Okay.  What’s been on your mind this morning, the readership asks, me adroitly putting the words into the communal mouth.

In between working on other internet projects, I’ve been thinking about Discussion Boards and Chat Rooms.  What is it about those things?  What’s the appeal to us?  Why do they so frequently erode into acid exchanges between the users?  How do complete strangers come to have such a rancor for one another?  And how to otherwise, probably nice enough people (they have to be… someone would have taught them manners if they behaved that way offline) come to have such nasty streaks when they wear a mask of anonymity?

I’ve seen discussion boards and participated in a few previously.  In those days, a few people were still doing non-spectator things outdoors.  Enough were, at least, to keep sites of that sort in business selling metal detectors, gold pans, books, sluiceboxes, dry-washers and whatnot.  That’s when I first noticed this discussion board spinoff phenomenon I eventually came to think of as the snake pit.

People would come to the boards to learn about prospecting, about a particular lost mine, about some piece of equipment or other. But on any site there’d come a time when a specific group of individuals would just sort of hang out there.  They weren’t there to learn, and they obviously weren’t there to share information.  Mostly, they were just wasting time, disparaging people who asked questions, disparaging the attempts others made to answer.  The snake pit.

These weren’t just trolls.  They were men who knew the subjects the board was created to discuss.  But treasure hunters and prospectors have never been long on the information-sharing business.  So instead, these guys hung around blustering at one another, arguing which had the most skill with a metal detector, which detector brand was best.  Online acquaintances who frequently hated one another and everyone else, but still hung around.

Mid-1998, I became convinced Y2K was an actual threat.  That belief led me to another type of chat room.  A place where people who believed similarly hung around to talk about  TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it) and exchange information about Y2K preparedness.  At least, that’s how it began.

Before too long we all discovered that, while we each believed Y2K was going to happen, to one degree or another, we had some serious rifts in the other aspects of our lives.  Some were born again Christians who wanted to ask one another and answer one another whether this was going to be the Rapture, and if so, when it would begin, and what it would be like, both for themselves, and for the non-believers who’d be left behind to suffer it out on the ground.

That sort of thing.  That, and just how bad would things get, post-Y2K.  And how much a person should bet that it would happen at all. Attempts at risk analysis, though most of us didn’t know a lot about computers.

From mid-’98 until I departed for my woods-retreat mid-’99, I watched the Y2K chat room with a measure of awe, disgust, concern and wonderment.  I watched those people who came to the chat room to learn become experts after a few visits (the fundamentals of preparedness were, after all, relatively simple).  I watched the competition among the new survival experts when `newbies’ came to the chat room. People who’d just heard about Y2K and wanted to know more.  The poor old newbies found themselves swarmed by all the old-timers who were, themselves, newbies a couple of weeks earlier.  Everyone wanted to demonstrate his knowledge by telling some newbie about it all.

Meanwhile, the rancor, the snapping and snarling, the pro-gun/anti-gun, born-again/non-religious wars raged among those folks who came there first to just learn, who all had the same reason for their original visits.  And, of course, the romances.

The snake pit.

So.  How do strangers who have no reason to give a hoot in hell what one another think come to such a pass?  What is it about discussion boards and chat rooms that draws people so closely into one another that they wish to apply pain, sarcasm, poison?  That they actually allow the poison being spewed by the malignant random stranger to pierce their feelings?

It’s a study.  I’ll swear it is.

Old Jules

A Brain Teaser

Re-blogged from Understanding Uncertainty http://understandinguncertainty.org/probability-paradox

I’ve been mulling over this puzzle on David’s blog.  Thought perhaps that microscopic few of you readers who are here because of discussions elsewhere about simultaneity and the ‘randomness’ concept might enjoy it too:

A probability paradox?

 
david's picture

Submitted by david on Mon, 10/31/2011 – 08:49

I recently tweeted a link to this problem drawn on a blackboard, which got a lot of retweets.

Multiple Choice: If you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the chance you will be correct? A) 25% B) 50% C) 60% D) 25%

This is a fun question whose paradoxical, self-referential nature quickly reveals itself – A) seems to be fine until one realizes the D) option is also 25%.

A quick search reveals hundreds of discussion contributions of this problem, for example here and here and from a year ago. People often appear very confident that their answer is the only possible solution.

I am no logician and so unqualified to place this within the grand structures of mathematical paradoxes. I have not waded through all the discussions and so there may be something I have missed, but in among all the arguments there seem to be four conclusions that could be considered as ‘correct’. These are my personal comments:

1) There can be no solution, since the ambiguity of ‘correct’ makes the question ill-posed.

It’s true the question is ambiguous, but this still seems a bit of a cop-out.

2) There is no solution.

This seems to take this interpretation of the question.

Which answer (or set of answers) of “p%”, is such that the statement ‘the probability of picking such an answer is p%’ is true?

Then this appears to be a well-posed question, but there is no solution.

3) 0%.

Consider a different interpretation of the question.

Is there a p%, such that the statement ‘the probability of picking an answer “p%” is p%’ is true?

Then this appears a well-posed question and has the solution p = 0, even though this is not one of the answers. Of course if answer C) were changed to “0%” (as it is in this 2007 version of the question ), then this would also have no solution.

4) We can produce any answer we want by changing the probability distribution for the choice.

Why should ‘random’ mean an equally likely chance of picking the 4 answers? If we, say, assume the probabilities of choosing (A) (B) (C) (D) to be (10%, 20%, 60%, 10%) then the answer to either formulation (2) and (3) is now “60%”. But if we make the distribution (12.5%, 15%, 60%, 12.5%) then we seem to back to square one again, since there is now both a 25% chance of picking “25%”, and a 60% chance of picking “60%”.

I like conclusion 3) best, ie 0%.

Maybe the main lesson is: ambiguity and paradox are often the basis for a good joke.

It won’t lead you where you’re trying to go, but it might offer a hint as to whether you can get there from here.

But you might also want to have a look at BRAIN TIME [6.24.09]
By David M. Eagleman
http://tinyurl.com/m6zkx4Likely that won’t help, either, but it’s bound to introduce some new doubts if you needed any.

Old Jules

A Salute to the Un-Sung Veterans

But not these:

I don’t expect anyone to like this post. 

Veteran’s Day is one of those days to indulge the self-elevating act of patting ourselves on the back by  public expressions of thanks to military veterans for protecting our freedoms.  A day we mutually endorse a falsehood:  that the endless series of military adventures US presidents have indulged in since the end of WWII contributed to freedoms we enjoy today. 

Any sincere effort to thank those who actually sacrificed serving this country would involve visits to VA Hospitals where those doing the sacrificing are found.  But nobody will see you and praise you for doing it because nobody else will be there, either.  Aside from a few politicians looking for news bites the place will be as empty of thankers as any other day.

We veterans who served in the US services from the end of WWII until now did so for a lot of reasons.  Conscription was one of those reasons until the end of the Vietnam War.  Many of us volunteered, but to suggest we’d have done so if we hadn’t been threatened by conscription is ludicrous.   The Vietnam War would have ended by 1967 or sooner if they’d had to rely on volunteers.

To go further and pretend the vast majority of men and women who’ve served in the all-volunteer military following Vietnam did so for patriotic reasons is equally ludicrous.  Many, many did so because it provided a high paying career, excellent benefits, early retirement on a scale they could never have achieved outside the military. 

True, some tiny percentage risked their lives in the pursuit of the careers they chose which involved being sent into harms way to further political interests of US presidents without Constitutional declarations of war by the US Congress.

I pondered all this in an earlier post, Abdicating Personal Responsibility to Politicians.

So today, this old vet says to you, “Thanks, but no thanks for your thanks.”

Instead, I’m offering thanks to a group of people who have actually done something positive, but who’ve not been thanked in living memory.

You won’t see any parades for these heroes today.  Nobody will be patting them on the back, giving them hugs with self-aggrandizing acknowledgement of the sacrifices they make daily for this country.

You won’t catch them waving flags and posturing, strutting over their health risks constantly encountered for the service they’ve chosen.  It’s their jobs.  They volunteered for it, same as military volunteers chose the jobs they do.  Even though on average their jobs are a lot greater threat to their health and the duration of their lives than those of cops and military servicemen.

The difference is, they can’t retire after 20 years with generous pensions.  They don’t get free health care for life.   And fawning patriots don’t ask them to pretend they’re John Wayne, gulp staring into the distance to voice-moving news bites.  Nobody asks them for orations to give the gathered admirers something to pat themselves on the back about.

They can’t even get anyone to listen when they do say anything that might make their lives easier.

“We literally have tens of thousands of these beach whistles lying in the rip-rap around the lagoons. And tens of thousands more get screened out of the composted biosolids when we dredge the lagoons. Ladies, these aren’t biodegradable and belong in the trashcan, not the toilet. The basics of what should get flushed distills down to this: if you haven’t eaten it, or used it to wipe off something you’ve eaten, it goes in the trash. That also applies to the device that these applicators are designed to insert. Wrap ‘em with a wad of Charmin if you are embarrassed by them, but please, please, please don’t flush ‘em.”

http://www.poopreport.com/Consumer/poop_plant.html

But what I respect most about them is they don’t posture or swagger to call attention to themselves, they don’t whine, they don’t beg for acknowledgement or thanks.  And they don’t believe they should be showered with benefits and high salaries for the service they voluntarily perform daily without complaint or thanks.

They’ve done more for this country every day of my life than any military service member I’ve ever heard of.

This old military vet’s hat goes off in salute to the men and women who work in the sewage treatment plants and pump the septic systems of this great nation this Veteran’s Day.

Thank you for your service.

Old Jules

 

Opalized Petrified Wood

I mentioned a couple of days ago that Gale recently acquired some material of a sort I’d never seen previously.  One he was working on when I went up there was opalized petrified wood.

He’d never seen any before, either, so he polished up this piece just to get an idea what he was working with.

He’d just finished cutting this piece and it was a bit oily from the saw.  It’s going to be a beautiful chunk of rock when it’s polished.  Beneath it’s another recent acquisition, zebra agate, formed from river delta bottom mud.  The paisley’s caused by the shells of marine life.  He hasn’t slabbed and polished any of it yet.

This gives you an idea of the size of the chunk he got.  He doesn’t expect to ever see any again, so he’s trying to plan ahead carefully insofar as what he’ll make from it.

Meanwhile he’s keeping three saws working up there slabbing the jewelry quality stone he picked up at the San Antonio Rock and Mineral Show, hmm or maybe it was Austin, a few days back.

I’ve been friends with Gale since 1970.  At the time our circle of friends used to joke Gale was the busiest person any of us had ever met.  Most of them are dead, or faded into history, so I’m the only one left to testify.  He’s still the busiest man I’ve ever known.

Here’s one of the last several remaining of those Siberian Wolf Fang pendants he was working on a while back.

Here’s another of those recent acquisitions just off the saw.

Watching Gale work used to be a hair-raising experience back 30-35 years ago before he lost that finger.  He became a legend for a while by making a fairly detailed chess set out of exotic woods using a radial arm saw, holding each piece between two fingers while he made his cuts with the saw.

I occasionally remind him of this piece of history and he always replies, “That wasn’t what I cut the finger off doing.”

Miracles do happen.

Old Jules

 

Rotting the bone marrow – Dependence on China for tool steel

I noticed several years ago a person can’t get good drill bits in the US anymore.  When you buy them they’ll barely cut into aluminum, afterward they’ll cut nothing and can’t be sharpened to hold an edge capable of cutting.

Today I walked up to Gale’s to look at some spectacular rocks he’s acquired [opalized petrified wood], and this drill bit thing was on my mind because I’d just attempted to drill through some aluminum.  I mentioned the Chinese steel drill bits and how we need to watch the thrift stores for US bits from a time when they’d hold an edge.

“I’m seeing the same thing in saw blades,” he mused.  Damned band saw blades won’t cut with any duration.

As we discussed it the light dawned.  Even Chinese screwdrivers bend instead of breaking.

“Do you suppose it’s the alloys they’re using, or the temper?”  Neither seemed to me to satisfy the symptoms.

“Might be a bit of both, but it doesn’t make sense.”  Gale’s done considerable tempering of steel, as I have.  “Tempering just isn’t that big a deal.”

But whether it’s intended or not, whether it’s the alloy, which it probably is [There's a good possibility they're sending us something nearer IRON than carbon steel] the fact is it creates a still greater dependence.  Nobody in the US is going to be able to operate any of a hundred metalworking businesses if they can’t get good tool steel bits, blades, tools.

I’ve got a pair of wire pincers out on the porch I thought about when I got back to the cabin.  I’d noticed just the gripping them enough to cut woven wire bends the handles to the center.  This was a more-or-less expensive pair of pliers.

If I believed in conspiracies, I’d be tempted by this.  But I’m at loss why we’re not getting high quality tool steel inadvertently.

How, I wonder, would it appear differently if it were a conspiracy?

Old Jules

Black Plague and Plague Crosses

About the time the light you see when you look for Orion and see Rigel was beginning its 800 year journey to rendezvous with your eye, these small lead crosses were being poured and carried as a protection against Black Plague:

These are found all over Europe, probably many from mass grave sites.  But during modern times they’ve become available to collectors.  Gale’s accumulated these over several years.

He uses them to make molds in his silversmithing work, casts modern, Sterling Silver plague crosses from them:

I planned to say a lot more on the subject of Black Plague, plague crosses and Gale’s silversmithing but my eyesight’s been giving me fits for the last few days and this screen’s mostly a blur this morning.

Maybe some future post.

Old Jules