Saturday, December 10, 2016

Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says New York Times

This is a bit out of the general area of my blogging, but I just wanted to get it out there--so I can brag about my intelligence analysis skills (because there ain't nuthin' else to do with them...)
A liberal goes down in flames (Liberal-former suburban radical variation, post-middle age): (to see actual video footage of this, watch Saturday Night Live Dave Chapelle and Chris Rock at their liberal friends' apartment. My pain is that I hold both points of views--so I'm hip enough to American history to see how ridiculous I can be... )

 Election Night. Text to my son: "So is Trump actually doing well, or is the New York Times just messing around?"
B: "It's really bad. It's really bad."

Me-shocked, shocked! that the New York Times had repeatedly made a huge blunder, for months confidently predicting a Clinton victory, over and over again!--AGAIN? (See Judith Miller's brilliant work on behalf of GW and Dick that appeared on the front page of the 'Gray Lady,' prior to our invasion of Iraq.)  "So how can the pollsters get it so wrong?" Then I go on about what might be the first Trump war ('Invade Mexico?"), pleading for good news from Pennsylvania....
B: "It's probably over." [Letting the old man down easy...]
Me: "If you don't remember 2000, it was just like this. Man Bear Pig all over again." (South Park reference to that great? American Al 'I can't give up quick enough' Gore.)
B: "But this is worse"

Today, I started to type this: "The day after the U.S. Presidential election I text messaged my son saying that I thought there was a good " But then I looked at the text message stream and found the real record:
Friday, Nov 11, 8:23 pm "The more I think about the election and everything Trump is, the more it's clear, something crooked went down. I don't think Trump was in on it. IT stinks of Putin. Where are all the people who are happy about this? Beyond his mob? No one is explaining why they thought Trump was a reasonable choice."
"I suspect electronic voting was hacked. The code was inserted, did its thing and was then deleted. In most places with electronic voting there's no other record. A pattern could be detected through sampling and then comparing the results between e-voting precincts and paper voting precincts. "
Then B answered back the same way a pre-election article (August?) dismissed the possibility of hacking. B: "No, the way elections are run are too distributed to have anything happen." "The Democrats sh** the bed; it's what we do best." 

Then I made the Pauline Kael mistake: "Who do you know that wasn't a Trumpy, but in the end voted for him?" (Kael is famously reported as having said, "How could Nixon win? Nobody I know voted for him.")
B:I live in Los Angeles, which went for Hilary by like forty points. It's your relatives in Michigan who voted for him, and not the foolish ones, either. White blue-collar workers voted for him"
Me:"Putin. They started in the primaries, had so much success and fun, they went for it."
"In 1972 Nixon wrecked every viable Democrat leaving McGovern. There aren't that many Evangelicals [by themselves swing an election at this scale] Of two I know, only one admitted voting for Trump. Mormons went full Clinton." (A nod out to the members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. You stuck to your principles. I respect that. )

OK So this exchange was Friday after the Tuesday election. I was thinking all of this on Thursday. Wednesday? I can't claim. I was walking around in shock. The guy who won had said horrible things about groups of people I know, teach, respect and love. He threatened them and now he was in a position to carry out those threats. Maybe he won't...It's pretty clear, we are about to find out......

So today Saturday December 10,  Here's what I texted: "Russian Hackers Acted to Aid Trump in Election, U.S. Says" NYTimes. Now who told you this first?
"Based on, one--they were already caught, two the surprising results. This doesn't contradict the analysis of why people voted for Trump--I think it's clear, I picked up on this independently. [he offered change, to save jobs for the forgotten places and people in the country, who were largely ignored by Democrats. The 'conservative party,' is now the Democrats and has been since Clinton, he balanced the budget, signed punitive crime bills, didn't change Wall Street, didn't tax the corporations... I respect and like Bill Clinton and I think he would agree with me....but he would say that he did what was possible to do. Absolutely. Same for Barrack Obama. There is no real 'liberal' party, but there is a radical populist party, who are really just fronting for money. Corporations and billionaires got everything they want, they pay no taxes, but is there prayer in school, abortion universally illegal, jobs returned from overseas? ] 
"Also, I don't think the Russians necessarily intended to change the outcome, or, as the Time's article reports, 'intended to undermine confidence in our process.' I think that everyone, including Putin, believed the polls, so any hacking wouldn't matter. So have fun nerdskis!
"If they did intend to throw the election, and Trump was in on the fix? What would he have looked like when instead of not losing in a rout he won? What would any of us look like if we'd just cheated $200k, but somehow wound up on the cover of Time Magazine as the new unexplained billionaire? Would our face show elation that we'd just had a great success? Or shock?"

So here is my speculation.
1. In the end Trump won key states by small margins, 50,000 votes. Very low percentages, less than 5%.
3. Many of these states had electronic voting that could be hacked. But not all. So Trump wasn't a 40% candidate with the rest stolen.
 3. The argument (from August) that electronic systems were too diverse to all be hacked.... This is just an argument about scale not ability. Able to hack into one system, then all are vulnerable, it's just a matter of increased effort.
4. Was Trump in on a fix? I don't think so. I do think there's a possibility that he had knowledge that the Russians were going to hack electronic voting for his benefit--and he went along with it for two reasons 1. So he wouldn't lose as badly as everyone, including him, expected and then 2. Because what everyone expected, Clinton winning, would happen no one would bother investigating.
This is the steal a little, but wind up on the cover of Time Magazine allusion above. The mob guys in the Lufthansa heist back in the 70s had an 'uh-oh' moment even after they'd gotten away. They'd inadvertently stolen a lot more than they thought. The cops, FBI, weren't about to shrug it off as unsolved after a year or so. A happy thief steals a lot, unhappy thieves steal nothing, get caught, or steal way too much.
5. Did Putin and his spies intend to give Trump the win? Probably not. I think as I wrote above, they may have hacked the primaries derailing more main stream-GOP candidates (Which Nixon's people clearly did in 1972) leaving a seemingly universally loathed Trump on top, so why not have some fun in the Presidential Election? It can't hurt because Everybody Knows Hiliary Clinton is going to win by large margins. Basically, see how much you can get away with, don't get caught, and this will be a handy tool we can use in other countries when and if we really need it...
6. Analysis of the election. Sampling (polling) has a series of known problems, but it is also a very effective tool. The U.S. has a wide range of polling methods, paper ballots electronically counted (California), fully electronic machines (Pennsylvania, and others), mixed systems--states that have a range of voting systems. Also we have two hundred years of election data. (In 1972 after McGovern was obliterated by Nixon, Jerry Tartoni, he ran the McGovern HQ where I volunteered, sent me to the Livonia, Michigan City Hall to collect voting data on the previous 5 presidential elections. With just a couple hours of work, Jerry showed what we'd noticed on election day: There were more voting booths per voter in the Republican precincts than in the Democratic ones and that this pattern existed across all the elections. What we'd observed on election day driving people to the polls is that most polling locations were elementary schools. In Clarenceville--the Democratic corner of Livonia, the booths were right next to the door, so people waiting had to stand outside in the rain. Drive up to vote and you saw a line of people standing in the rain. In the Republican areas (most of Livonia) the booths were inside the gym, so no one had to wait in the rain. Dirty trick? Not really, just sneaky. I'm sure the Democrats have pulled this trick, but not as often. We're too busy sh**ing the bed.)
So start sampling, poll people, 'who did you vote for?' Not just president, but local candidates, bond measures etc... things that Russian hackers aren't interested in... How close does the poll fit with presidential vote count, and the other ballot items? If there's hacking then the presidential results will be off differently than any variance on the other items.

7. Do I think a full and successful investigation will reveal that this was a stolen election? How big are Putin's balls? Also what would be his downside if he got caught hacking Donald Trump into the US Presidency? It's not like we're going to invade.
So maybe it was stolen, but more likely yes it was hacked, and hacked all over the country, no Russian spies or agents were on the ground. But more likely it was just messed with. And if it was stolen, I don't think that was the intention.

8. How soon will we know what the top levels of Russian intelligence (RSA and GRU) know? Best guess 30-40 years. [One of the greatest benefits of the collapse of the Soviet Union was the few years of open KGB files and the secret police files across Eastern Europe. History was able to re-calibrate from this and I don't think it hurt Russia. Putin's doing everything he can to hobble the future of Russia, as we seem busy doing in the US.]

9. Will the U.S. government intelligence analysis sort this all out? They seem to be actively at work. Would they tell us if Trump won illegally? Before December 19, I think President Obama would announce it. December 19 is when the Electoral College votes--that's when the next U.S. President is really elected. After that date? Legally and Constitutionally no matter what happened on Election Day, Donald Trump will be the next president. Create chaos and admit vulnerability by announcing it was through 3rd party hacking? Maybe not....right away.... As a citizen in a democracy it's my duty to be informed.

10. And the Electoral College is the weak point isn't it? Hilary Clinton beats Donald Trump by 2.5 million votes, but because of the Electoral College gimmick, he wins? G.W. Bush wins?
As so many comedians have already pointed out, this is exactly the way our Founding Fathers intended, but it's wrong, and stupid and it's made our Presidential Election vulnerable.
 What I will be looking for is the analysis of just how few votes would be needed in which specific key states to switch the outcome of the past several Presidential Elections.

The real argument against the Electoral College will then be how these small changes couldn't possibly change the overall popular vote count or the results (except for 2000 and 2016).  It's a matter of scale, it's the 'Wisdom of Crowds,' I might get it wrong, but millions of us, informed millions, will  level out the mistakes.
Like Mickey Rooney said in Boys Town, "They can't get all of us Father Flanagan." With the Electoral College gimmick they don't have to get very many of us to get us all.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Tokina 12-24mm DX Zoom lens

The Tokina 12-24mm DX Zoom lens is a terrific lens, but it seems to have an annoying problem. The front ring, that the lens shade attaches to was wobbling.
I guess over time it got loose. It's easy to miss this as it's happening, it can seem like it's supposed to be like this.
Nope.  The good part is that none of the bits that are wobbling or that I'm going to tell you to mess with have any effect on the performance of the lens.
Here's the fix. It's easy
At the front there is the detachable lens shade (and lens cap of course)
Attached to the lens body are the wobbly outside part (like a tube) and the stepped black surround to the front lens element.
If you're having the problem I had, when you wiggle the lens you'll hear a rattle--that is three little screws loose inside...
First you'll have to remove the stepped lens surround. There are two notches for a lens wrench. I just poked my finest phillips head electronics/computer/camera screw driver in one of the notch and it easily rotated counter-clockwise. A few turns and it comes off.
Be careful because as soon as it comes off the wobbly part will come right off and the loose screws can fall out.
Now you can see what the problem is. These screws need to be reinserted.
There are two sets of holes in the loose piece offset by about 10 degrees. There are three issues to deal with.
First, is there any dust in there? I didn't see any.
Second, what's going to keep them falling out again? I put some Locktite on each of them. (Does this work on plastic? I hope so).
And third, which holes to use?
Not hard to figure out. Put the lens on the camera body the shade on the wobbly part; then set it on the lens. It'll be very clear which set of holes to use. For me it was the ones on the left side as you look at the front of the lens.
Take off the lens shade, dip the screw threads in a little bubble of LockTite and screw them in.
Then screw in the stepped-black-surround, I just used my fingertips.
It's all tight and good.

I included this because I found some information when I was trying to figure out this problem, but nothing specific to this lens and this exact problem.
Of course there were numerous postings of people who've had this problem, but little information (unless I missed it).
Yes,  you're absolutely correct--I should've included photos. However, I don't think any one reads this blog. If anyone actually needs photos. Let me know, I'll take the front bit off my lens ....

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Kayak: The Iqyax (Baidarka) Problem (MAE 593)

The Iqyax Problem, aka the Baidarka Problem. George Dyson framed this question in his paper on the Baidarka.  (Dyson and many others use the Russian or Ukrainian term 'baidarka.' The people who used this term were colonizing **** who banned fast kayak designs, enslaved, exploited, murdered... another nasty holocaust, so why use their term? The Unangan, Aleut people used the term iqyax for their amazing craft--I may spell it differently and make other errors, but I will argue that we should use their term. As I understand it iqyax is the same word as kayak or qajaq, etc... but is unique enough that it can be used to specifically denote the type of fast skin boats made by the Aleuts.

Reliable 18th century reports that Aleuts were paddling their iqyax at 10 sea miles, or 10 knots. The most reliable account is from Captain Cook's navigator.
Modern Olympic--world class--paddling speeds over 1000 and 2000 meters are about 12 knots. Apparently the Aleuts could keep these velocities for long distances.
Yes they were stronger. Archaeological studies of arm bone rugature, muscle attachment for Aleut male skeletons indicated that on average they had the strongest arms in history.
Dyson conjectured that to achieve these velocities the Aleuts probably were planing on the surface, like modern speedboats. If you've ever operated one, like a Bayliner, they're a bit sluggish starting out, but once they being planing on the surface less power is needed and they move a lot faster.
Dyson then calculated the energy needed to plane a kayak. Humans, strong humans, can do it, but not for very long. Even super strong humans--with history's strongest arms--can't do it for very long.
So, if the Aleuts accomplished this: How did they do it?

I've been trying to figure this out since 1992 when I George Dyson's article in Scientific American. I've been building kayaks since 2004. I was in a couple of Hobies a couple of times prior to building one that I launched in July 2005. I've been paddling and building since then. Something about Dyson's article connected.
A few years ago I came up with a few ideas. I gave myself a year to test them. If I wasn't able to test my conjectures I'd share my ideas.
Two things.
1. Kayak community blogs are an endless melange of 'hull speed', 'hull speed,' and a lot of 'gee whiz, what if...?' There's a lot of good information, but it seems to always dead end.
2. I confess that I'm in the 'gee whiz, what if...?' side of things, but not in a conspiracy theory perpetual motion tinfoil hat kind of way. (I hope)

Summer 2015 I felt compelled to finally build a skinboat. I'd previously made two wood strip kayaks, one 17' long 23" beam Great Auk Hull the other a 20' 17" beam Mystery. Both Guillemot, Nick Schade designs (but I always mess with the deck design, so I think he just shakes his head and hopes whatever I'm doing is not contagious. )
The 20' is about as fast as the 17'. I was warned, but I wanted to find out for myself.

Well I had to build a skin on frame someday and not just any SOF. I decided to build from "David Zimmerly's drawing of the Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology's (St. Petersburg, Russia) kayak MAE 593-76 (1986:16, fig.16). It measures 19'1" long, 17" wide, and 8-3/8" deep to sheer"(Harvey Golden)  

This is an iqyax from 1845 and as I understand is the closest known Aleut iqyax to the 10 knot iqyax of 50 years before. 
The Russian colonizers banned the super fast kayaks in about 1800,because they were faster than anything the Russians had--except bullets. So there are no good extent examples.

So here's my basic conjecture in a nut shell.
The four stringers of MAE 593 are not evenly spaced between the keelson and the gunwale. They seem to be bunched up close to the gunwale with a big gap between stringer #1 and the keelson. 
It is my conjecture that this gap allowed the sea lion skin to curve forming a scoop that ran the length of the craft. This scoop trapped or entrained water channeling it aft as the iqyax moved forward. Right underneath the paddler's position a subtle change in the stringer narrows this channel--this would force x amount of water into an x- (minus) cross section. It can't speed up very much so it lifts the craft right at it's center of mass (the paddler). 
The stringer/keelson channel then runs to the aft of the craft in a parallel.
Drawing not to scale. 
 Before I explain further, I would like to say that building my iqyax was a wonderful experience. I grew to loathe planing thin strips of wood and gluing them together--mostly because I wasn't any good at it. I've built many things, some beautiful furniture. A wood strip kayak, or boat, is a completely different task. I'm good with wood, with tools, but I lack patience. My assumption that I could quickly build a stripper is probably like saying, "I know how to saw wood, so I'll bet I can quickly learn to play the violin." 

There are few objects as beautiful as a well made wooden strip kayak, Giotto comes to mind-but not much else, so if you have the patience--get started--you won't regret it. (I don't regret it, I'm just more interested in the paddling it than the building.)  
The parallel frustration building a skin-on-frame craft is steam bending. I eventually bent 40 ribs and then Corey Friedman said, just heat up water in a metal rain gutter...Probably a good idea to take the class. It'll be cheaper and quicker and your iqyax will track straighter.

Everything else was fun.  Sewing the skin? I loved sewing the skin. I look for projects that might require the type of sewing a skinboat requires. I watched Corey Friedman's videos dozens of times. I wore my sinew-calluses proudly and miss them.
My ideas and conjectures changed markedly as I made my iqyax. (If you happened to have followed David Hockney's Secret Knowledge book, Vermeer's Camera, etc... you may also have noticed that it was academics and not painters who argued against the use of camera obscura, mirrors, lenses, etc... I've worked with artists. Malcolm X saying "By any means necessary," he probably got from an artist. All the worriers on TV about Y2K disaster it was pointed out to me were consultants, not one of them was a coder. The coders were saying, "Ah, this is what we spend most of our time doing, fixing code. It's a two week problem.") 
Hands on is always best. History was hands on. 

Further explanation: 
1. Extent kayaks in museum collections appear to be in rough shape. Inuit and Aleut kayaks are living forms (and male BTW). The skins are replaced every year, the thin strips of wood lashed together will move and bend over the years. Wood that was once flexible is now brittle. So MAE 593 might have been a superfast and the design trick is too subtle to be obvious in a 160 year old museum specimen. 
2. The superfast iqyax were banned by about 1800, so we might not have any physical evidence available anywhere. (Though I'm hoping Robert Ballard searches the coldest depths of the Bering Sea...)
Now on me:
3. I don't know the difference between the properties of sea lion skin and ballistic nylon.
4. Therefor I cannot claim to be able to describe what the 'channel or scoop' would be like.
5. I don't have the math skills to figure out what physically happens to X cross section of water moving at 6-10 knots down a channel of unknown dimension reaching a point where the channel narrows to X– cross section. The result is basically a lift versus drag situation. 
6. I'm 60 years old. In pretty good shape, a pretty good paddler... but I'm still old.
 There's a lot I don't know. 
The iqyax I built has a tendency to turn left, which I've trimmed with a rudder. This increases drag. My iqyax is not very fast. 3.3 knots is typical. (In my Mystery and Great Auk, 4.3 knots consistently). 
I was hoping that I might detect some of the effect I'm after, but I'm just too slow. The best way for someone like me to test my idea would be with models in a tank. I've got a 21' tank, I've figured out how to tow models, measure, etc... but I haven't done it. 

Related aspects to my conjecture:
I think the superfast iqax is basically designed to 
1. be narrow and have a small cross section (basic features of a fast kayak)
2. Many if not most of it's specific design features are to support the channeling of water down the stringer #1 keelson scoops.
3. It's hinged keelson is designed to keep the whole length in the water at design depth, so the scoop intake near the bow is in the water, and the channeled water exits near the stern. 
4. Overall the iqyax is to be extremely flexible. To support this, its deck is flat, it's depth (height) is shallow. (a thin piece of wood is more flexible than a thick one)
5. The loose rocks known to be carried inside, I think were positioned fore and aft of the hinged keelson to keep the bow and the stern in the water at 'design depth' to most effectively channel water.
(Ballast in a kayak if you've ever used it, is best very low down and near the center of gravity--where you are sitting. BTW the best and cheapest stuff to use are iron weight lifting plates. ) 

6. The split bow. The lower jaw of the split bow may have worked like a bulbous bow, it's meant to be under the surface-but there are no extent designs that do this. The upper and lower split bows as extent examples seem to indicate slide past each other--allowing more flexibility.
Evidence? I've been paddling my iqyax for months and I've never been able to 'hook' anything in the open split. I have a design using piano wire to fix the problem of picking up weeds, but I don't need it. I've even tried paddling right into weeds and kelp and I haven't hooked anything. Drawings of the Aleut iqyax often show baleen protecting the open split. If their bows were under the surface this would be necessary. 
I also feel fairly certain that one of  the purposes of the split bow is to have a lot of buoyancy at the top, and a very narrow entry at the bottom. I'm betting that sea lion skin stitched to make the concave shape would have problems, the stitches would stretch open... This may have been one path to the overall design.

So how did the Aleuts empirically come up with the superfast iqyax design?
The split bow. Narrow bows were faster, but narrow bows would sink in an oncoming wave or swell. More buoyancy was needed. They may have tried lashing floats to the top of the bow, but... that didn't work. The split bow did. 
The split bow then offers the possibility of a more vertically flexible craft. This in turn if discovered to be more effective led to the invention of the hinged keelson. 

Here I step into the history of science. We moderns tend to think that others slowly developed new designs over hundreds and thousands of years. I think the Aleut Iqyax has so many unique features, like the hinged keelson, that it indicates that observant paddlers noticed certain features of kayaks were better and then began to pursue these features and ideas in a disciplined way. 
The standard 'wonderful' kayak design is widespread across the arctic. It's the big Hudson Bay 'station wagon,' or 'soccer mom van' Nanook paddles in Nanook of the North. It's stable, seems sturdy, and there's plenty of room inside for his child, a couple of dogs, his two wives and the baby. Kayak designs only begin to have specific capabilities when you get to Greenland, the Aleutians, (others know more about this than I). Overall? A kayak just has to be stable, have room inside for family and stuff, and not be too large to be unmanageable in the wind.  So I think when you get to Greenland and the Aleutians, people started to consciously invent, test, make changes. Also it was typical to replace the skin on a kayak every year. Once you get down to the wooden frame you can change things. 
Another factor might be like my iqyax, it veers to the left. If I remove my skin and fix the problem, I will have to sew on a new skin and re-coat, about $300. If an Inuit, Eskimo or Aleut had this problem, they could take out the stitches, fix the problem and sew the same skin back on. 
Suppose you start fixing ribs. Are they likely to get longer? Not a chance, wood doesn't stretch. They are more likely to get shorter. This makes for a narrower and shallower craft, which will be faster.  So, annual re-skinning invites modifications, ease of taking it apart to make repairs, invites further modification and lowers the cost of trying out radical ideas. 

I think that trying to figure out how the superfast Aleut iqyax was invented might lead to a better understanding of pre-modern inventiveness that is probably worldwide. (Have you seen Wally Wallington's videos of him moving multi-ton blocks of concrete by himself? I suggest that the Mayans, the Egyptians, Rapanui-ans, and my ancestors at Stonehenge  had all of their schemes scaled up because an old carpenter like Wally, said, 'Hey, why don't you try it like this...' suddenly they could move stones 10 or 100 times larger and more easily than could the day before. We haven't figured this out yet because there was no YouTube. Instead we think bigger stones more guys pulling on more ropes.... Also look at the PBS Nova program about raising an Egyptian Obelisk. The brilliant engineer (and academic) missed something no framing carpenter would've missed. The timber framer figured out a practical, efficient and reasonably safe way to raise the obelisk. I think it's now considered solved that the people on Rapanui (Easter Island) 'walked' the giant heads to where they were displayed. Polynesian-Wally. )

NOTE: If you read some of my other blog entries you will notice that my iqyax has outriggers. I'm not sure anyone could paddle it as designed without them. I'm willing to let someone, like a surf ski paddler, try. I may have more hours paddling an 1845 MAE 593 than anyone (since 1845) only because of the outriggers.

OK, this is unedited, needs more images..... but for now...