Metrology day 2022, AI version

Today is Metrology Day, but I’m trying to go for Entertainment and Enjoyment this year, so here’s a gathering of AI-generated nonsense from

Is A Meter Long?

A meter is a unit of length that is used to measure the distance between two points. The meter is also used as a unit of weight.

Is A Meter Longer Than A Yard?

A meter is about the length of a yard. A yard is about the size of a hand.

What Is Exactly A Meter Long?

A meter long is 1/1,000,000 of a meter.

How Long Is A Meter Visually?

A meter is a unit of measurement used to measure the size of a surface or body. Meters can be in any shape or size, but they are typically about the size of a human hand.

How Long Is A Meter How Long Is A Yard?

A meter is the distance between two points. A yard is the distance between two lines of equal length.

Is A Meter Shorter Than A Foot?

Are meters shorter than feet? It seems like they might be. Many meters are shorter than a foot, making it easier to move around. Plus, meters are often used in place of feet in measurements, like altitude or width.

What’s The Difference Between A Yard And A Meter?

A yard is a unit of measurement of linear distance, typically one hundred meters. A meter is a unit of measurement of time, typically one second.

What Percent Of A Yard Is A Meter?

A yard is a unit of measure in land use. It is equal to 1/12 of a kilometer.

How Do You Convert Yard Times To Meters?

There are many different ways to convert yard times to meters, but one common way is to use a metering device like a meter reader or a garden hose.

How Many Cm Are In A Meter Stick?

A meter stick is about 8.4 inches long and 1.1 inches wide.

Why Is A Second A Second?

A second is a unit of time equal to 1/6 of a day. It is used in English to represent the difference between a day and a week. For example, if someone says, “I’ll be in town for two days,” this means they will be in town for six days. [Precisely true.]

Did The Romans Have Hours And Minutes?

The Roman Empire was a huge and powerful empire that lasted for over two centuries. The empire was divided into two parts, the Western Roman Empire and the Eastern Roman Empire. The Western Roman Empire was more powerful than the Eastern Roman Empire. The Eastern Roman Empire was more powerful than the Western Roman Empire. [AI does Orwell.]

The Roman hours and minutes were created to help people stay on schedule. The hours were divided into ten days, and the minutes were divided into thirty minutes.

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I can’t figure out the PURPOSE. The format closely resembles Quora, especially the Indian questioners. But the answers on Quora were generally meant to be useful, not totally screwed up. If a student uses these answers on a test, he’s guaranteed to flunk. Maybe that’s the point? A bait trap for cheaters?

Some of this crap, not necessarily from CookingFlavr, shows up in Google searches along with real answers, not marked as AI-generated.

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For reference, here’s the first Metrology Day item in 2010, and here’s the deadly serious 2020 item. Nothing has changed or improved since then, I’m just trying to stay in Science As Entertainment mode.

Did you know?

Janelle at pointed to this endless cup of computerized silliness. is a set of human questions answered by AI. Judging by the language and focus of the questions, it’s probably made in India. The top menu is food-oriented, but if you click on any of the questions you’ll see more categories, which are just as jumbled up as the answers.

Try Cheddar Cheese. Did you know that John F. Kennedy, the president first elected in 1821, was responsible for bringing cheddar cheese to America?

Did you know that George Washington invented the police radar gun in 1876?

Most of the subjects start with a literal and correct answer, then ramble on into a dream world where functions and meanings smoosh together to make a peculiar sort of sense.

Should You Prune Dogwoods?

Dogs have a deep understanding of communication and they can be quite helpful when it comes to yard work. However, they can also be a nuisance if they’re not kept trimmed. In order to keep your dog free of thorns and other dangerous vegetation, it’s important to keep them trimmed regularly.

Can you exercise with DOMS? This one gets deliciously tangled up with the obvious meaning of Doms, plus a dozen wildly different acronyms that happen to share the same four letters.

Related to Cheddar Kennedy: What does Cataumet mean?

Hyannis, MA, got its name from the town of Haverhill, MA. The town was named after Samuel Adams, the founder of the American Revolution. The Wampanoags called Cape Cod “Cape Cod.” The name is derived from the Massachuset word “cape” meaning “to point out.” The Wampanoags used this name to refer to the cape that is located on the eastern end of Cape Cod. Mashpee is an English word meaning “to mix or mingle.” The name was created in the early 1700s by the Mashpee people, who were living in present-day Massachusetts. The word is derived from the MAH-shpee word, which means “to scatter.” The Mashpee people were known for their annual gathering, which was called the “Mashpee Festival.”

AI is like an autist on acid.

Harmless hooey

According to the date guide, today is Skeptics Day. Hmm. Is that right?

I looked it up and first found sources saying that the real Skeptics Day is Jan 13. Hmm. Is that right?

Other sources say the real Skeptics Day is Oct 13. Hmm. Is that right?

The fact turns out to be more interesting. (Maybe.) Adrienne Koopersmith considers herself to the Official Day Dayer. She has named several Days for every Day, and some multiple-Day Days. She intended Skeptics Day to be a movable and multiple feast, every Friday the 13th. Her attitude in the above clip is light-hearted, treating life as Entertainment, but other indications show her as the exact opposite of a skeptic. It’s hard to tell without more context, and her own personality doesn’t matter here.

What does matter is the limitations of sources and searching. Each of those sources had automatically picked up one of the Friday the 13th dates and considered it to be the official day.

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Reprint from 2017:

The Enlightenment’s big crime was binary truth tables.

Law of Excluded middle, fact or not fact, true or false, prove or disprove, null hypothesis, guilty or not guilty, honest or fake.

Digital technology and digital training have elevated binariness to a lethal level.

For some reason thinking about Volney’s beneficial hooey pushed me over the line on this question.

Nature doesn’t do honesty. Every smart and surviving critter uses deception, looking or smelling or sounding or moving like something else. Honesty is death.

The dividing line CANNOT BE deception vs honesty because honesty DOES NOT EXIST.

The only meaningful measure is the PURPOSE of the deception. Aggressive or defensive? Helpful or harmful?

When a deception is aggressive or harmful, you need to break it down and observe** the underlying reality so you can defend yourself against the aggression, or at least stop HELPING the aggressor. Stings and false flags by Sorosian governments are lethal and aggressive. We need to observe basic facts. 9/11 was a Saudi + CIA operation. Both “fascists” and “anti-fascists” are organized by the government as traps. Knowing these FACTS can slow down the aggression by depriving it of active support.

When a deception is neutral or helpful, we should quietly realize it’s a deception while still allowing it to function. Good medical practice, good selling, and good religion, all involve a lot of magic and placebo. When we criminalize “alternative” medicine we’re not giving the magic a chance to work. Over the centuries our criminalizing of various therapies has switched back and forth wildly, often depriving entire generations of a therapy that we later “rediscover” as useful. We’d save thousands of lives if we just LOOSENED UP.

[2022: I couldn’t have imagined in 2017 that we would criminalize natural immunity, eating, sleeping, working, talking, thinking, breathing, and living. But we did.]

Smart and surviving cultures were never fooled by the Enlightenment nonsense. Persians and Russians and Chinese understand reality more clearly. Teutons and Anglos and French fell into the binary trap around 1790 and never climbed out. Now it’s killing us.

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** Observe the underlying reality: I’m bumping into language limitations here. Our internal representation of reality, also known as observed reality, is also disconnected from instrumental measurements. If you take the instrumental measurements as the sole standard, you’ll never be able to function in the world. That’s why our decisions and actions need to be based on purpose rather than “finding absolute truth”. Our internal fiction has been experimentally shaped to match our survival needs, so it’s the best available standard. When you see media toxin that clashes with your experiential template, you have to prefer your internal version of reality because you ALSO know from experience that the media toxin is aggressive and lethal. Media toxin, like wasp toxin, is designed to paralyze you for easier enslavement and slaughter.

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Continued here.

If we assume (part 2)

I’ve been imagining that the ‘standard’ UFOs were living things and their equipment. An ancient tribe of small winged humans developed a technology based on waves and electric fields. They weren’t limited by theories of atomism and particles, so they figured out how to materialize and dematerialize. They continued existing in and around the Earth, only visible when they wanted to be seen, only massive when mass was needed.

This fits the available facts better than the usual interplanetary assumption.

What about their motivation or PURPOSE?

The usual assumption followed the postwar Klaatu theme. The atom bomb is the worst thing in history, so the aliens are trying to stop the atom bomb.

This is stupid nonsense. The atom bomb was nothing special, and did far less damage than our Thermite firebombs in Japan and Germany. And our Thermite bombs did VASTLY less damage than a prolonged campaign of torture and mass murder. The Japs and Krauts killed and ruined millions of lives before they were stopped.

Right now the modern Nazis are repeating the Kraut campaign everywhere in the world, killing millions and ruining BILLIONS in the name of “environment” and “virus” and “healthy conversations”, while simultaneously shutting down atomic power to emphasize the variable!

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The disc-type UFOs were dancing around, appearing and disappearing. Most witnesses got the sense that the discs were investigating or checking the situation while moving around, like a curious puppy. Sniff here, sniff there, stop to roll on the grass, sniff there, pause to pee**, sniff more, play-fight with siblings…

The bigger vehicle-like UFOs seemed to be more serious, but nobody could figure out which side they were representing. At various times they appeared in most of the economically advanced countries. During the war the Krauts thought the discs were ours, and we thought the discs were theirs. Russians saw just as many discs as we did, and the Soviet government handled the situation the same way ours did.

Here’s a possibility that hasn’t been imagined:

The ancient charge critters were charging for their services.

They were selling disc detective work to any country or corporation that wanted it. They were selling Venus tours and abductions to cult leaders who needed to impress the yokels.

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Footnote for clarity: This imagining disagrees with my previous imagining of the UFO’s purposes, and halfway disagrees with previous item about the government’s motivations. I’m not trying to be consistent, I’m just trying to have fun. Science is supposed to be entertaining.

Halfway: Government often hires services or steals weapons before understanding them. It then tries to reverse-engineer the product so it can manufacture in-house. The Air Force’s attempts to sample the outputs and residues from the discs would fit this acqui-hire practice. NSA developed the web so it could steal early-stage science and tech ideas from academia and reverse-engineer them for in-house production.

** Pee: The discs did sometimes pause to pee. They leaked a metallic-looking liquid, presumably the residue that the Air Force was trying to sample.

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And finally: I think I’ll fade away from the UFO theme. I’ve used up the sources of old knowledge, and it feels like my speculation is getting too close to Deepstate-owned territory. My gut says ENOUGH, and I trust my gut.

Already answered, but missed a point

Okay, we know that “journalists” have stopped serving any function. That’s tired territory. Batya is covering it thoroughly and usefully.

Purpose-based question: If reporters DO have a real function, the function should be definable in a basic biological way. It should be the same for a beehive or a tribe or a city or a nation.

I answered this question in 2018.

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Every living thing, and every organized colony of living things, has ‘media’.

Why does an individual organism need senses? To answer seven important questions. The first six are universal from bacteria to humans. The seventh is not quite universal.

1. What time is it? Day or night? Winter or summer? Full moon or new? Time to fuck? Time to swarm? Time to die?

2. Where am I? Which way am I going? Up or down? Toward the light? Toward food? Toward enemies? With the magnetic field or against?

3. Where is food?

4. Where is poison?

5. Where are my friends, and what are they doing?

6. Where are my enemies, and what are they doing?

7. The non-universal non-question: Entertainment. This applies for sure to all the ‘intelligent’ critters from octopuses to mammals. When we’re not in immediate survival mode, we love to watch stuff happening. Entertainment merges smoothly into education. Watching somebody else catch a caterpillar or hammer a nail isn’t especially interesting; but when the catch misses or the hammer hits a thumb, it becomes entertainment AND education. Smart design, connecting pleasure to learning.

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Communities or colonies have mechanisms or workers to accomplish the last five purposes on behalf of the whole community. Bees have honey scouts and enemy scouts. Mammals generally send out disposable males to locate food and enemies. Plants and bacteria and modern humans use electrical networks to observe the activities of friends and enemies.

Professional reporters have been around for 5000 years. Most of the sagas and testaments of religions are newspaper archives with the original bylines replaced by God, who is the biggest copyright troll in history. Greece and Rome elevated the role of scout to high literature. Troubadours and town criers continued the mix of art and observation until 1500 AD, when Gutenberg made it possible to shout on paper.

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Circling back to the original question: How do modern paid reporters fulfill the basic purposes of community sensing? (Again the first two purposes are only for individuals.)

3. Where is food? Newspapers and TV carry useful ads for grocery stores, but the reporters aren’t involved.

4. Where is poison? Reporters have specifically inverted this purpose. They warn us LOUDLY of fake poisons [2020: AND FAKE DISEASES] to stir up a war, or to squash one industry and boost another. They never warn us of real toxins, because the reporters are the real toxins.

5. Where are my friends, and what are they doing? TV offers us a complex and addictive array of fictional friends, ruining our expectations for real friends.

6. Where are my enemies? Reporters have specifically inverted this purpose. They warn us LOUDLY of fake enemies to stir up a war, or to squash one tribe and enrich another. They never warn us of real enemies, because the reporters are the real enemies.

7. Entertainment: We get to see plenty of failures, but we’re NOT ALLOWED to learn from them. Any attempt to draw ACCURATE conclusions from stories about crime is forbidden. Sports give us plenty of crashes and failures and injuries, but the whole process is carefully scripted to avoid any useful lessons. When we see a Tesla crash, we’re not allowed to conclude that Teslas are bad. Instead we are required to BUY THE DIP.

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Concluding: In earlier eras the press occasionally performed the DUTY of community senses, but not now. There is no excuse and no defense for the “right” of “press freedom”.

= = = = = END REPRINT.

There is another traditional role for ‘media’ or community sensing mechanisms, which I didn’t think about in 2018. This role has become the ONLY purpose, replacing all others.

8. Carrying COMMANDS from the queen.

In a beehive the commands are carried by pheromones. In traditional cultures, soldiers are often sent to read out dictates from the government. In modern cultures, newspapers and electronic media carry commands. Hitler and Stalin established closed-circuit radio systems which were REQUIRED LISTENING. The web now serves the same purpose. Everyone is carrying a closed-circuit speaker that carries nothing but commands. Some of the commands are disguised as news or science or entertainment.


Fifth in a vaguely defined series on obscure secret electronics, after SCR-268 and Tenzor and Peilempfänger and Kleinstpeilempfänger.

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American Radio Library has uploaded new issues of the British Post Office Engineering Journal. Why did the GPO have an engineering research facility? Because the GPO managed ALL communication in Britain. It was like Post Office plus Western Union plus Bell Tel plus FCC.

This is the first in a long line of BBC television detector vans, enforcing the British policy of financing BBC with receiver license fees. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the Kraut Peilempfänger truck. [So I was able to modify the Kraut truck easily.]

According to the article (which is short on electronic detail) the receiver was not picking up the superhet IF oscillator. It was picking up the audio-frequency radiation from the horizontal sync coils.

This freq was certainly radiated from antennas. When TV antennas were common, and when my ears were younger and sharper, I could hear the 15750 cycles turned into acoustic form by electrostriction.

Here’s another view:

Our pet alien feels perfectly safe here despite the allegedly intense magnetic activity in the truck. Why?

According to a recent Daily Mail article, the Detector Vans have always been fake.

First, it’s nearly impossible to sort out the signals in a crowded city environment where each building may have a hundred residents.

Second, all the horizontal sync coils are on the same frequency, so it’s a much harder task than locating a spy transmitter or locating one superhet radio tuned to the WRONG freq.

Third, BBC never had more than a dozen vans for all of Britain, yet BBC has prosecuted thousands of unlicensed sets every year. The vans just cruise around to scare the yobs. The real license cops find scofflaws the lo-tech way by comparing a residence list against a license list, and then double check by knocking on the door and listening for BBC programs with their Mark I Eardrums. Sometimes the license cops pose as salesmen to get into the house and look around.

So our charge-based life form can rest over this van. No electronic activity inside it, and the residents have heard that the van will be working their neighborhood, so they have turned off all their electronics. The van is a Mobile Quiet Zone.

If we assume….

UFOlogists have tried to explain the timeline in various ways. The larger type has been documented for thousands of years. The smaller discs were first publicly described in WW2, with both sides seeing flocks of discs and each side blaming the other. There was a postwar ‘pulse’ of the bigger type in ’47, then another big pulse around ’52 to ’54, then ’65 to ’67. Then the sightings pretty much stopped.

My first try at explaining the timeline was uninformed. I assumed they were our experimental spy tech, which became unnecessary after ’67 because surveillance satellites with digital cameras took over the job.

After reading more of the ancient history I had to abandon that notion, and now I’m imagining the devices as charge-based life forms. The smaller discs are the pets (birds or dogs) of the winged humanoids. The larger aircraft are horses carrying the winged humanoids.

Some of my first assumption was unquestionably true. The government was taking advantage of the public attention, playing both sides as always. The Ground Observer Corps was definitely meant to check the stealthiness of our new tech; and there’s some evidence that our new tech was trying to imitate the old mysterious tech. But our tech wasn’t the ONLY story.

Thinking about the charge vortex….. What development by the large wingless humanoids would be MOST THREATENING to a creature made of circling charge?

The magnetron.

The magnetron creates an internal charge vortex, which would specifically mess up the living charge vortices. The most common use of the magnetron is diathermy (microwave ovens) which directly competes with the main defense weapon of the charge critters.

The history of the magnetron fits the crucial dates neatly:

Invented in the ’30s for radar but not used much because its oscillations weren’t steady enough. Radar needs precise freq and phase, so radar soon adopted the klystron instead.

In 1947, Raytheon built the “Radarange”, the first commercially available microwave oven. An early Radarange was installed (and remains) in the galley of the nuclear-powered passenger/cargo ship NS Savannah. An early commercial model introduced in 1954 consumed 1.6 kilowatts and sold for US$2,000 to US$3,000. Raytheon licensed its technology to Tappan in 1952. Under contract to Whirlpool, Westinghouse, and other major appliance manufacturers looking to add matching microwave ovens to their conventional oven line, Tappan produced several variations of their built-in model from roughly 1955 to 1960. Due to maintenance and cost, sales were limited.

Japan’s Sharp Corporation began manufacturing microwave ovens in 1961. Between 1964 and 1966, Sharp introduced the first microwave oven with a turntable, an alternative means to promote more even heating of food. In 1965, Raytheon, looking to expand their Radarange technology into the home market, acquired Amana to provide more manufacturing capability. In 1967, they introduced the first popular home model, the countertop Radarange. Unlike the Sharp models, a motor driven mode stirrer in the top of the oven cavity rotated allowing the food to remain stationary.

Development of magnetrons for diathermy (heating food) started in ’47, so the charge critters started investigating the threat. Major milestones in ’52, ’54, and ’64, inspiring more investigation and perhaps attempts to halt the deadly peril. Widespread adoption in ’67. Time to retire from the field. The large wingless humanoids are purely toxic.

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The discs were also allergic to smaller charge circulators like alternators and generators. If we can believe the stories, the discs had a non-destructive way of shutting down generators. (Applying a counter-rotating field???) Cars stalled in the presence of the discs, then started up again later. Battery-powered flashlights didn’t shut off. I can’t try to match a timeline for dynamos, since they were pretty much everywhere after 1890.

Explicit tag

I’ve been using the Entertainment tag on the UFO and Fortean items lately. I should make the connection more explicit.

The Forteans were trying to pull science back into the realm of entertainment and mystification and fascination. Their constant theme, starting with Charles Fort himself, was that Big Science is no longer observing Nature with fascination. Big Science is just being Big, serving government, serving the military, ignoring and censoring scientific facts, and killing millions of people.

The Forteans, from Hix to MacHarrie to Nesbitt to Edwards, were brilliant story tellers. They told about fascinating or peculiar incidents which were fairly well attested, and asked the listener to think about the incident scientifically. Unlike science teachers, the Forteans were not selecting and grooming the next generation of tenure-seekers.

Nesbitt called Fort the man who hated Science. Poor description. Fort loved science and hated scientists BECAUSE SCIENTISTS ARE RUINING SCIENCE.

The description wasn’t quite so obviously wrong in 1940 when Nesbitt was writing and narrating. FDR had ruthlessly constrained government-paid experts to STICK TO FACTS, just as he constrained government-licensed broadcasters to STICK TO FACTS, and constrained government-licensed bankers to STICK TO REAL FINANCE.

Now the constraint is gone in all of those spheres. All of the government-paid and government-licensed monsters have departed totally from Nature and facts and service and reality. All the demons are unleashed.

Barking UFO

Yesterday I proposed or imagined that the larger UFOs might belong to an ancient tribe that figured out how to LITERALLY harness electricity, a tribe that wasn’t spoiled by atom theories. They know how to organize charge patterns for massless or massed appearances.

The sightings of small discs flying in groups have a different flavor. Witnesses often describe them as dancing and playing, flying along with a car or aircraft for a while then veering off or jumping to the other side.

Perhaps these are the pets of the larger charge-creatures. A flock of carrier pigeons sent out to investigate the war vehicles of the big humanoids, and having some fun in the process. Or a pack of Field Spaniels running down the prey.

One oft-cited story from northeast Ohio in March 1966: Deputy Staur and Deputy Neff were patrolling late at night and stopped to check out an abandoned car. While they were looking through it, a disc rose from the nearby trees and started flying eastward along the highway. Being good cops, they decided this was more important than an abandoned car so they pursued. It stayed ahead of them at speeds from 80 to 100. When they fell behind, it stopped and waited for them, then started up again. They finally ran out of gas in Pennsylvania, and the disc disappeared after seeing that they weren’t going to continue the game.

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Is it possible to create a persistent vortex and send it out to accomplish a mission?

Yes. Hail cannons create air vortices and direct them into a cloud, where they break up the organized circulation of a thunderstorm. These air vortices look and sound a LOT like the ‘playful’ small discs, and their mission may also be similar.

Are they simply the same thing? Are the visible discs just air vortices created by the car or plane? Some might be. But the reported UFO-style discs are often illuminated at night and often interfere with power systems. So they seem to be primarily made of circling charge, which moves air molecules to create the sound. (The discs seen by some astronauts were certainly not made of air!)

More Tur(k)ing test

A few weeks ago Eric Holloway set up a fiendishly clever machine vs human test, essentially proving that one of the major AI engines is partly or mostly human.

Now he’s done it again. Here’s the sequence leading up to the crucial moment.

153 EMH: what is a belief?

154 GPT-3: A belief is a conviction that something is true, even without proof.

155 EMH: is a conviction that something is true count as a belief if there is proof?

156 GPT-3: No, a conviction that something is true does not count as a belief if there is proof.

157 EMH: what is a conviction with proof called?

158 GPT-3: A conviction with proof is called a fact.

159 EMH: so if i know my name is eric since i can read it on my birth certificate, is in grammatically correct to say i fact my name is eric?

160 GPT-3: Yes, it is grammatically correct to say “I fact my name is Eric.”

161 EMH: what sort of other things do you fact, chatbot?

162 GPT-3: I fact that I am a chatbot.

Holloway was making some strategic errors to see if the machine would correct them by regularity or turn the mistakes into something new. Modern AI is extremely good at catching violations of regular grammar and fixing them. AI is an excellent proofreader but not a writer.

At 155 Holloway makes an error that would be fairly hard to correct, and the AI corrects it. Not a decisive test yet.

At 159 Holloway makes one definite error and one semantic ambiguity. The AI corrects the first definite error, and turns the ambiguity into a highly creative pun. A statistical pattern-recognizer would have corrected the second part of the sentence into the normal phrase “In fact my name is Eric.”

Holloway then tests the new coinage, and the AI immediately continues the game. A machine wouldn’t know what to do with 161, even after its own creative coinage.

Classy Spokane

Bank robbers in the meth era just don’t measure up to the old Dillinger standard:

Uhaul trucks have governed engines. You can’t achieve a “high rate” in a Uhaul, unless they mean a “high rate” of absurdity.

Placing a small bet

The flurry of “news” about Elon’s “battle” with Twitter reminded me of my Follies theme. Sometimes a rich man’s toy advances science.

Elon superficially resembles Ned Green, who inherited his evil mother’s criminally acquired fortune and tried to turn it toward enjoyment of science.

The spaceflight competition among Elon and Bezos and Branson also has a similar flavor.

There’s one big difference. The spaceflight competition is NOT advancing science or technology in any way. These three toy-loving rich fuckheads are simply recreating an achievement from 50 years ago. It’s more like an expensive road race of classic cars.

Does Elon intend to turn Twitter into a more open and less censorious platform? Or is he just pumping and dumping to make more money?

Since today is Take A Wild Guess Day, I’ll bet on pumping and dumping. Not a strong bet. Remains to be seen.

Later: A Substack commenter reminded me that Elon’s SpaceX launches communications satellites for NSA. So he’s a fully licensed and registered part of Deepstate, not an “independent” by any definition.


Continuing a vaguely defined theme of obscure and peculiarly clumsy secret equipment.

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Soviet spies were working in Oklahoma and Kansas in the ’50s, as evident in the correct local pronunciations on their maps. Every city and province has its secret shibboleths, its own tests for You’re Not From Here. A spy who wants to survive needs to be From Here immediately.

Let’s imagine Резидентка Полистра ensconced in an unspecified Okla location:

She’s loyally receiving and sending data to the nearest Center with her Тензор spy rig. (The nearest Center is remarkably near!)

Тензор was designed and built by the Russian division of Sylvania. [Sources disagree on this.] Russia, of course, continued making radios and using tubes long after we stopped using tubes and stopped making anything at all.

Interior view:

The excellent writeup at CryptoMuseum mentions the unexpected English labels. They cite two reasons: Russian labels would give away the game immediately, and spies were usually locals who knew English as first or second language.

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Two aspects of this setup are unusually primitive for the ’50s, and seem wrong for a spy rig. But I can’t possibly outthink KGB, so I know they had excellent reasons for each choice. (It’s possible that the seeming wrong itself was part of their brilliance.)

(1) Big metal octal tubes were outdated in portable equipment. Transistors weren’t ready for serious use yet, but Russia made lots of mini and submini tubes. (I own some). Subminis were also available in most target countries. I’m guessing that big COMMON tubes avoided conspicuous consumption. 6J7 and 6L6 were ‘default tubes’, found in most house and car radios. You could buy them in a hardware store or drug store in every town. Subminis were only available through electronics stores in big cities, or through mail-order houses like Allied, which would leave a paper trail.

Good advice for dissidents of all sorts: Try to be a small fish in a big pond. Avoid specialized stores and specialized channels. Even if they’re not provided for you as false flags, small groups are easier to watch than big ‘default’ groups.

(2) Modularity. Radio developed like cars and houses and business machines. All started as a collection of separable modules, then merged inside a streamlined envelope in the ’30s. Exposed tubes were the norm before streamlining, and still a ‘classic symbol’ for tube-loving audiophiles just as free-standing headlights are a ‘classic symbol’ for cars.

A single self-contained transceiver would seem obligatory for a spy who needs to pack up his equipment quickly. These modules fitted into a custom-made travel pack with pouches for each device and antenna and tool, but removing the tubes and taking down the antenna and fitting the modules into the pouches would take a long time.

One possibility: An operating schedule linked at CryptoMuseum instructed the spy to operate in ‘duplex’, transmitting and receiving on separate frequencies. Most transceivers are designed to transmit and receive on the same frequency, with one dial controlling both. Perhaps the separate modules and separate antennas made duplex easier to manage?

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Now let’s look at the modules, assisted by HappyRedStar.

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The filter box is just a box, no knobs or lights or moving parts. It goes between the power plug and the rig’s own power supply. No fun for me to model and animate, but it shows plenty of design savvy. It contains a series of hefty RC filters to block transients in both directions.

Line filters are normal on ham equipment to spare your hearing from the buzz of the neighbor’s washing machine and to spare the neighbor’s TV from your keying.

In this case there’s a more important purpose for the backwash filter. Mains power systems are communication systems. Smart meters are NOT NEW. Power companies have been modulating the AC with their own Morse and data signals for 100 years. If they heard Morse in a neighborhood with no known and licensed hams, they might start investigating.

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The power supply is uniquely flexible. It contains a multi-tap transformer. A rotary switch on the front selects taps for a wide range of input voltages. Presumably the blank tap is the OFF choice, though not labeled. The output provides filament and plate voltages for both receiver and transmitter. The transmit/receive switch, a standard and necessary part of every station, is on the power supply. It trades only the plate voltages, leaving the filaments on all the time. The power supply also has a high/low voltage switch for the transmitter, so you can send at high or low power when needed. The available schematic is for an earlier version with only two tubes. Each is connected as a halfwave, and the second looks like a voltage doubler for the transmitter.

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The receiver has three identical 6J7 pentodes, inside the case unlike the other modules. The first is an RF amp with untuned input. The second is a regenerative detector, and the third is the audio amp. Regen seems an odd choice for a spy receiver, since a regen transmits on its tuned frequency. Regens were famous for interfering with neighbors. You can turn down the regen control so it’s effectively a TRF, but then you would lose sensitivity and lose the BFO. There’s no separate volume control on the audio stage.

The tuning dial is unique. It moves through a full circle and has two separate bands, which are automatically switched when the dial passes the halfway point. (The full circle might imply a butterfly capacitor? Not visible in the pictures.) A fine-tuning knob is on the left, but it’s not a separate capacitor, just a reduction gear for the main dial. Earphones are connected through separate pins for each wire, another ancient feature. Tip-ring phone plugs were standard by 1930.

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The transmitter is straightforward and simple, with one odd exception. A crystal oscillator drives a single stage of amplification, with LC tuning on both stages. The key interrupts the cathode of the amplifier stage. Instead of meters, each stage has a neon lamp to tune for maximum brightness. The oddity is a switch on the front that puts the second lamp in the primary or secondary of the plate tank. In the secondary the lamp would be viewing antenna resonance. Why the switch? Three lamps would be cheaper and less scratchy than two lamps and a switch.

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The antenna matcher / reel is another ancient leftover. It’s a wooden frame with a slide inductor inside. Slide inductors were typical of early crystal radios. The spy would wrap the transmitting antenna around the wooden frame for storage or travel, and would use the slide inductor to tune when the lamp switch was set to Antenna.

The rig covers the usual SW ham and broadcast range, 80 to 20 meters. The linked operating schedule used all the bands at appropriate times and seasons. Max power was about 25 watts, which could span the world on the right band with the right skip conditions. More reliably, 25 watts would travel about 100 miles. So the Centers would need to be fairly dense. If Резидентка Полистра was in Enid, her Center might have been in OKC or Wichita. This dense distribution strikes me as implausible. I’m inclined to think that the rig was meant for more urban areas like Europe or NYC… but again I shouldn’t underestimate KGB.

The receiving antenna came on another wooden frame without an inductor.

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The key is the only ordinary part of the rig. It’s a common Soviet key, and thoroughly familiar to me. I own one and use it daily for a few minutes of code practice along with my kit-built regen receiver. Because it’s instantly recognizable as a Soviet model, it would spoil the ‘native effect’ of the English labels.

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** Footnote: The available power supply schematic is for the Mark I version with only two tubes. This version would handle AC but not DC input. Many parts of the world, including most farms and even one section of NYC, were still on DC power in the 1950s. Many home radios were built to handle both AC and DC. Possibly the third tube in the Mark II version served as a vibrator or inverter for DC locations? I can’t find any better schematics or descriptions, so this is an open question.

Huge exception to an old rule

This is a completely trivial criticism of an old obscure TV show, but it seems to be what I need to write today. Maybe there’s a reason, maybe not.

The show was ‘Man of the World’, one of many British James Bond imitators. Other shows in this genre gave us remarkably accurate dramatizations of facts that can’t be shown now, like this absolutely perfect picture of a psychopath.

‘Man of the World’ went the opposite way, with a remarkably stupid depiction of basic scientific method. Every radio and TV detective and cop show, from the ’30s onward, managed an accurate and USEFUL dramatization of scam-spotting methods. Not this one.

This episode was about an attention-seeking father who exploited his daughter’s talents, trying to make her famous as a mindreader. The protagonist was a reporter who was supposedly trying to spot the scam. He consulted a psychiatrist who was supposedly an expert.

Starting here, we see a “controlled” experiment with the daughter inside an isolation booth to avoid sound cues. The father was doing most of the writing and card-picking. Obvious error #1. When you suspect a partner act, you want to exclude one of the partners. Then the psych threw some dice while the father was watching the dice AND FACING THE DAUGHTER. Obvious error #2. Any card-player would recognize this form of cheating. Then the psych wrote some numbers on paper, while hiding the paper itself behind a barrier. But the numbers were huge, involving elbow and shoulder motions that were easy to see. He invited the reporter to write some numbers, and again he wrote huge numbers instead of miniature fingers-only numbers. Obvious error #3.

I’m inclined to assume that old entertainment got the facts of life right, but this is one huge exception to the rule.

Pithy point, pithy counterpoint

Kirn’s latest pithy point:

If history is any guide, the books that the ideological arsonists disappear first are likely to be the very books needed to spark a renaissance later.

Most of the commenters are thinking of fairly modern dystopias, but that’s clearly not where Kirn is going. 1984 wouldn’t spark a renaissance.

Purpose-based thinkers from Aristotle to Kepler were wiped out by the chaos-generators from Robespierre to Darwin to Bohr to Fauci. [I realize that I’m being unfair to Darwin himself, who didn’t want to aid chaos; but his name is the icon of the chaotizers.]

Science as fascination and entertainment was another common factor of the purpose era, wiped out by the Robespierre/Fauci revolution of science as murderous tyrannical command.

Aristotle and Kepler are starting to renaisse now, even inside academia. The chaotizers have run to the end of their rusty barbed-wire chain, and it’s starting to fray.

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Unconventional advice: If you think your artwork or sciencework or literary product deserves a renaissance, DON’T COPYRIGHT IT.

Copyright won’t protect you from the censors, and in fact copyright makes a work easier to destroy. Copyright will protect your work from preservation. Aristotle and Kepler and Bach were preserved BECAUSE they didn’t have copyrights.

Public domain obviously won’t turn your work into Aristotle or Bach, but it will give your work a better chance of being revalued and reappraised after the tyrannical storm is over, or after cultural fashion changes.