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How to Build a Computer 25: The Magnetoresistive Effect

 

Our story starts with Lord Kelvin, one of the great old school physicists. You can read about his career from John Walker’s old Saturday Night Science. Actually, at the point he enters this story I don’t think Kelvin had made lord yet; he was just some bloke named Thompson. This Thompson fellow was playing around with magnets and electricity and that sort of thing. What he discovered is that you can change the resistance of a wire with a magnetic field. And furthermore that that change in resistance depends on the angle between the wire and the magnetic field.

Let’s take that a little more slowly. Change in resistance when you’re in a magnetic field? Okay, I can buy that; there’s all this nonsense about wires and magnets and whatnot that I’ve been blathering about up until this point. Angle? The resistance in your wire will vary a great deal whether it’s parallel or antiparallel to the magnetic field on your disk. (Antiparallel means parallel, but facing the other direction. The northbound lane on a highway is antiparallel to the southbound lane.) If your wire is running current right-to-left and your magnetic field is pointed left-to-right then your wire’s resistance is at it’s highest because of your antiparallel configuration.

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When Renovation Goes Wrong … and Then Goes Right

 

An old church in a small town in rural Spain featured a lovely little fresco honoring Jesus. Elías García Martínez painted “Ecce Homo” (Latin for “Behold the Man”), which depicted the Messiah crowned with thorns, back in 1930. Eighty years takes a toll on a painting, especially considering how damp and porous the walls were; by 2012 it was looking pretty rough. That’s when an 83-year-old widow decided to help.

Devout parishioner Cecilia Giménez painted as a hobby, so she brought her brushes to the Santuario de Misericordia and got to work. Her past paintings were limited to canvas and the church stone took a bit of getting used to. The rough surface absorbed the paint and the dampness spread it further than Giménez had intended. The more paint she added, the worse it got. So, she set down her brushes. After vacation, she would correct the work.

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Is America Worrying Too Much About China’s Rise?

 

Recall the 2010 “Chinese Professor” television commercial from Citizens Against Government Waste. It depicted a futuristic Beijing classroom where students hear a triumphalist lecture on American decline. Despite (or maybe because of) its questionable economic substance, the ad really struck a nerve. (It currently has some 3 million YouTube views).

At the time, writer James Fallows called it the “first spot from this campaign season you can imagine people actually remembering a decade from now.” And I think he was right about that, probably because “Chinese Professor” tapped into both pre-Trumpian concerns America was no longer great and that fast-growing China was ready to surpass the United States as global hegemon just at the US surpassed Great Britain. Indeed, that angst probably gave added resonance to President Trump’s MAGA message, one that when he delivered it in the 1980s focused on Japan as the rising Asian threat.

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Dear President Trump, Senate Leader McConnell, and Speaker Pelosi

 

There is a silent epidemic impacting our bravest and finest citizens, their families and friends; Those who served in the United States Military are more likely to die from suicide than on the battlefield.

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, each day there are around 20 veterans who commit suicide. What’s more, they report that veterans’ suicides account for 18 percent of the suicide deaths in the country, while they only make up 8.5 percent of the adult population. Even more disturbing is how many US soldiers who attempt suicide often have no history of mental health issues.

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Quote of the Day: “The Difference Between a Click and a Bang…

 

… is Logistics!” — Anonymous, found on an Army coffee mug; see also Major General (Retired) Vincent Boles

“Leaders win through logistics. Vision, sure. Strategy, yes. But when you go to war, you need to have both toilet paper and bullets at the right place at the right time. In other words, you must win through superior logistics.” Tom Peters, Rule #3: “Leadership Is Confusing As Hell,” Fast Company, March 2001

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Sights and Sounds of 2019 March for Life

 

Just wanted to share some pictures and movie clips I took at the 2019 March for Life. It was a real long day; I left my house at six AM to meet at a local church. After a quick early morning Mass at 6:30 and we were on the bus and off by 7:15 am, and the bus pulled into RFK stadium parking lot around 12:30. After a bathroom break, a walk to the Metro station, a subway ride to the Mall, and we joined the March by 1:30 pm. We were not there for the speeches. We would have had to leave the night before to make that.

Here’s a small part of my group trying to gather together before we enter the March; you want to try to keep the group together so it’s easier to regroup to get back, but really that’s a near-impossible effort. Just casually walking I found myself split away. As you can see, there was a dusting of snow from overnight.

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Nancy’s Note

 

View original artwork here.

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I Don’t Want No Satisfaction

 

We always want what we can’t have. Aristotle, Shakespeare, and Mick Jagger understood that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. Most literature is based on this concept, and religions are designed to deal with it. This longing for things you don’t have could also be described as an endless effort to improve your life, which is not such a bad thing. Which is fortunate, because this is simply human nature. It can be temporarily suppressed, but not extinguished. Even temporarily suppressing it often requires powerful drugs. Accepting the way things are is simply not the way we’re wired. Humans are restless.

On the other hand, humans also crave security. You would think that this would tend to balance our dangerous restlessness with the safety which comes with the desire for stability. You would be wrong. Our desire for security often leads us into the protective arms of strongmen, tyrants, and/or powerful centralized governments which offer to protect us from the big bad world, in exchange for some of our money and freedom. This secure protective cocoon is where the conflict starts.

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MLK’s “I Have a Dream” Speech

 

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What A Weekend for Media Accuracy

 

On Friday, the news exploded with the news of what would have been the end of the Trump presidency, a BuzzFeed story about how Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen was instructed to lie to Congress. For the individuals giddy at the prospect, the news spread like wildfire. For the rest of us, alarm bells went off immediately.

And then, came this equally large bomb:

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Church Lady, Traffic Cop, Spark Epic Prooftexting Battle After Blizzard

 

Sunday, Jan. 20, Grover Heights — The parishioners of St. John’s faced mass impoundment of their cars Sunday morning for parking them after the village snowplow had cleared the surrounding streets, but before the snow-clearing parking ban had officially expired. Feisty church lady, Cheryl Knapp, began a heated argument with Marl Burlon, the traffic cop on duty, once she realized his intention was to ticket, then tow, parishioners’ cars for “obstructing a snowplow” that had already been through.

Knapp cited 1 Corinthians 10:23, “‘I have the right to do anything,’ you say — but not everything is beneficial. ‘I have the right to do anything’ — but not everything is constructive,” conceding that the village was within its rights to tow the alleged offending cars. But, she added, “Where is the benefit in ticketing cars for obstructing a plow they are not, in fact, obstructing, since the plow has already cleared the streets where St. John’s parishioners park?” Burlon countered that the village of Grover Heights benefits from ticket revenue, and that it’s not constructive for supposedly law-abiding citizens like churchgoers to be seen flouting even the letter of the law. “When a scoffer is punished, the simple become wise,” he quoted, adding, “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s — including lawfully-impounded cars.”

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Quote of the Day: “Lucent Syrops, Tinct with Cinnamon”

 

Dateline: Rome, January 21, 304 AD
The young virgin known as Agnes was martyred for her faith today. Beautiful in looks and spirit, she had captured the attention of Phocus, son of the Prefect Sempronius, and when she rejected his advances, saying that she was already betrothed to one even more powerful, Phocus revealed her to the authorities as a Christian. She was arrested and led to the temple of the Vestal Virgins, where she refused to comply with pagan practice and was threatened with rape. She was then led, naked through the streets to a house of ill-repute where all those who attempted to assault her were struck blind by protective and avenging angels.

Next, still professing her love for Christ, she was tried as a witch, was found guilty, and was taken to the stake so that she could be burned; however the bundles of sticks could not be set alight, and so her executioner took out his sword and struck off her head.

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Gather ‘Round the Stove

 
A Chicago newspaper illustration prior to the 1913 American League Meetings

If you want to keep the peace then you don’t step on the third rail of American conversation. No, it’s not Donald Trump. It’s not even politics. Or religion.

“So, what do you think (fill in the blank with local baseball team) should do this offseason?”

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Renovating The Inner Underdog

 

Part One
Hi. My given name is “Bella,” but for a long while, I was an underdog.

About four years ago, I lived in a warm, supportive family. They taught me valuable life skills, like not barking over every little thing, how to be housebroken, and sitting and shaking hands and paws on command.

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Now We Know Why Carter Page Has Never Been Charged with Anything

 

Powerline has been running a series called What We Have Learned So Far, in which developments in the Russia collusion story are updated as new reporting or pronouncements are made. The latest update nails down the knowing falsity in the FISA application: The people who asked the FISA court for surveillance authorization on Carter Page knew (and did not disclose to the court) the source of the allegations and the likelihood that they were politically driven fabrications. They also knew if they revealed this to the court no authorization would be forthcoming and the investigation would be deprived of a key opportunity to develop adverse information on Trump.

While certainly violations of DOJ guidelines and potential crimes were committed by one or more of the people involved in the investigation, does this mean that the FBI was corrupt, and the loss of public confidence is justified? For purposes of my comment let me define how I use the term “corrupt”: Corrupt means the unjustified use of government power for personal benefit (financial or ideological) that was knowingly and intentionally in conflict with the public trust. This is a pretty high bar. It allows for bad things to happen simply because someone was deluded or mistaken and bent rules in an honest (if crazed) belief that an individual was a danger to the public in some fashion. This doesn’t mean that the person is excused and cannot be held accountable, but it does go to the question of whether to lose confidence in an institution when persons within that institution do bad things.

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How a Dam Bursts

 

The stream was dammed for the old mill well before 1976. That’s the only certain date I can give, but by that time the old mill was gone and you had to be a digger to find its foundations (I was.) There were a couple of mature hickories growing in the ruins. Let’s say the dam had stood for a century, give or take a human generation.

It was a small earthen dam on a lowland stream, holding back a hundred acres of pond water that drained from a few thousand acres of forests and fields. It rose perhaps 15 feet from its base to the outlet, perhaps a bit less. It was simply but well constructed with a hard clay interior and plenty of earth above high water, for weight. Twin four-foot pipes at one end drained away beneath the adjacent road.

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Toward a Deeper Civility

 

From a President who often seems mean-spirited and petty, to angry mobs threatening their opponents with bodily harm, to smugly superior journalists and entertainers preaching their bottomless contempt to a Pavlovian audience of unthinking conformists, the observation that much of our national conversation is mired in incivility and vulgarity seems undeniable.

Whether or not this is new is debatable. Heated political exchanges are nothing new; yellow journalism and intemperate pundits are not a 21st-century phenomenon, nor even a 20th. What seems likely is that the scope of incivility has increased, upward to the President and Congress, downward to every citizen with a microphone or Twitter account. Partly this is the product of greater participation: when everyone has a voice, a lot of people with nothing useful to say will nonetheless say it loudly.

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It’s Scold Season

 

“In a sort of ghastly simplicity we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” — C.S. Lewis, The Abolition of Man

The recent ad by the Gillette razor company telling us men to be more like what the people at Gillette think we should be has certainly sparked debate. However, what’s missing from that advertisement (and most of the conversation it has created) is any information or guidance as to how men can learn to act like the honorable, forthright, compassionate, and brave leaders we should be (and occasionally are).

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My Letter to Procter & Gamble, Parent Company of Gillette

 

I couldn’t find the address for Gillette, so I wrote to its owner, Procter & Gamble:

I have been a faithful customer of Gillette for years. Its ad that attacks men and boys is unacceptable. Boys will be boys. To argue to the contrary is stupid. Male mammals are different from female mammals. Period.

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Democrat Caravan

 

View original artwork here.

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Writer’s Block or Making Excuses

 

I don’t have writer’s block—at least not in the conventional sense. Once I pick a topic, the words seem to flow —with some careful editing. And I love to write on Ricochet. But I just feel like I don’t have much to say anymore. We have so many skilled writers on Ricochet, and they often seem to know precisely what to write on.

There are those who write on the politics of the day: what comment by Trump has enraged the media; where is the latest issue where the Republicans have stepped in it; are we hopeless to have any effect against the Progressive movement?

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