Shuttersparks

Welcome to my musings on whatever topic catches my eye, plus stories, recipes, handyman tips, welding, photography, and what have you. Oh, and analog/digital hardware design, and software. Please comment on the blog post so everyone who visits can see your comments.

Category: Educational (page 1 of 12)

Patents

Announcing a new page. In recent weeks, my patent “legacy” has come into the conversation. Looking them up is clumsy and time consuming, so I gathered the most interesting ones and published them on a WordPress page here, along with PDFs of the full patents. Now, I can send just one link.

https://shuttersparks.net/patents/

Some Realities About Laws and Contraband

This could also be titled “Human Nature Strikes Again”.

Every time a physical thing is outlawed, two things happen.

The first thing that happens is a new class of criminals is created, many of whom were not criminals before. Those who were not criminals before will lose respect for government.

The second thing that happens is that government inadvertently creates a business opportunity for entrepreneurs to supply the thing that was outlawed. Often, the outlawed thing becomes more popular than before it was outlawed. The result is that criminals end up making a lot of money.

If people want something, they will find a way to get it. If people want something, someone will jump in and provide it.

This reality drove the Soviets nuts — especially those who truly believed in communism. On the streets of Moscow, you could buy all the stuff that was outlawed — rock and roll music albums, genuine Levi blue jeans, makeup from Europe, western books and magazines, you name it. How was this possible in the most tightly controlled police state in the world? And remember that Moscow is in the middle of a large country, not a seaport or border city where smuggling is easy. Yet, there it was on the streets of Moscow.

Some of these things are hard concepts for many United Statesians to accept. Most believe in the idea of “the rule of law” and that people behave because of the threat of legal consequences. Most Americans believe, and I used to believe, that if laws and police disappeared overnight, there would be total chaos and mayhem. That’s not true. I’ve witnessed this exact thing happen in a much “rougher” country than the USA: Guatemala. The entire national police force was disbanded and for several months there were no police at all. We’re all gonna die, right? Well, exactly nothing happened. In fact, the crime rate dropped slightly.

How is this possible? The reason is that people obey laws because they want to, not because of the threat of punishment. People do what they want, regardless of laws. The majority of people in a society are nice people, who want to peacefully get on with their lives. Civil order continues with or without police. Leading a society to believe the myth that their safety, from moment to moment, depends on police is advantageous to government and the police. But, it’s a myth.

Conversely, if people don’t want to obey a law, they won’t. This means that government should not make poorly designed laws or too many laws. The Chinese wrote about this a thousand years ago. Governments should not create laws that people will not obey. If you do, it gradually weakens the force of all laws, including good ones. Each time a person disobeys or circumvents a law, their overall respect for government and all law diminishes.

If government wishes to retain the support of the people, it must also adapt to changing behaviors. One example of this is marijuana laws. For the past 40 years, just about everyone I know smokes pot. (Unfortunately, I’m strongly allergic to it.) This means that every one of those people knows they’re breaking the law constantly. They’re constantly aware that the government makes stupid laws that nobody obeys. They’re constantly aware that, under the law, they’re criminals — unprosecuted felons, and the government would love to throw them in prison. This has strong negative effects. It has the subconscious effect of weakening respect for all laws and government in general. It also turns police into adversaries.

Advice from the ancient Chinese to all governments:

1. Don’t make stupid laws.
2. Don’t make lots of laws or complicated laws so that people are confused.
3. If times change or you discover a stupid law, fix it immediately, lest you lose the respect of the people.

A Walk Down Memory Lane

For Google Plussers Only

Once in a great while, I have a good idea at the right time. (Happens about once every ten years.) Thank goodness I had this one on April 1st, before Google+ started shutting down. I thought, hmm, I should take some screenshots so I can remember what G+ looked like — what it looked like, exactly.  Several times already, I have patted myself on the back for thinking of this and realized how angry I’d be if it had occurred to me after it was too late.

I did this with myself in mind, so in the future I can look at them and remember what was. Then I realized, if these are so important to me, I should publish them.

The work of the Archive Team rescued 98 percent of G+ profiles, which is fantastic. All this will be on the Wayback Machine in a few months. However, my experience is that material on the Wayback Machine doesn’t look exactly like the original. Everything is there, but for various reasons, the appearance is slightly “off”. I don’t mean this as a criticism. It is what it is and it’s wonderful. These screen captures below are not slightly off. They are exact.

For each thumbnail that you wish to view, click the thumbnail. It should open the image. Then click again on the image to increase it to original size.

Trigger warning: Google Plussers may find these images disturbing. They may make you cry and collapse in a quivering heap. Proceed at your own risk.

My Profile Page

Profile Page 2

Profile Page 3

Notifications 1

Notifications 2

Contacts 1

Contacts 2

Contacts 3

Circles

Collections 1

Collections 2

Collections 3

Collections 4

Browser Icon

#SignalFlare 1 on Android Mobile

#SignalFlare 2 on Android Mobile

Android Mobile Notifications

Android Mobile Contacts

And then…
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.”
— Obi-Wan Kenobi

The End

Does Salt Raise the Boiling Point of Water?

I love cooking, I love eating, I hang around with foodies, and I work as a sous chef at a local restaurant. As a result, I’m tired of hearing that salt raises the boiling point of water.

Technically, yes. If you’re in a chemistry lab with precision instruments for measuring temperature, there is a small measurable effect. Any liquid’s boiling point will be affected by molecules dissolved in that liquid. In the case of salt and water in the kitchen, the effect is microscopic — smaller than the effect from changing your elevation above sea level by a couple hundred feet.

If you add a half pound of salt to a quart of water, you’ll raise its boiling point by 2 degrees C. If you add one tablespoon of salt to one quart of water, you raise the boiling point by 0.16 degrees.

Will that have any effect on cooking? No. So, please, just stop. Thanks.  😉

Some Favorite TV Channels Will Stop Working

But don’t be alarmed.

The title sounds like click-bait but it’s true. All around the USA, during 2019, some TV channels will stop working. This is because the FCC has ordered them to change to a different frequency. In my area, there are four channels, including PBS that will be changing frequency. This may happen several times during the year in your area since different TV stations have different dates for implementing the change.

Fortunately, it’s no big deal nowadays. When your favorite channel “disappears”, just tell your TV to rescan for channels. It will find the new frequency and everything will be fine.

The change is something of a hassle for the transmitters themselves. It requires changes and adjustments to their equipment and modification or replacement of their antenna(s). But this doesn’t affect you.

The NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) has a web site here http://www.tvanswers.org/ to help with your questions. You can enter your zip code and get a list of coming changes in your area by station and date.

This Has Poisoned Everything

I’ve long wondered when/if some really serious and widespread contamination/pollution problem would be uncovered — something in what we’ve been consuming for years and years.

My fear is based on human nature. If something sufficiently horrible is discovered, it will be buried, hidden. “We can’t talk about this. We can’t let this information get out. People would freak out.”

There was an element of this going on in climate research done 30 years ago. The scientists fudged the climate change numbers down. “People will never believe this, and if they did, they’d freak out. We have to fudge it down.” This minimization of the problem doesn’t actually change reality, of course. What it does is it makes it worse when the effects physically hit.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/feb/20/new-mexico-contamination-dairy-industry-pollution

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