Friday, October 15, 2021

Are we really being alloyed?














If you don’t bother to carefully research the definition for a term that is outside your area of expertise, then you can look like a mixed-up fool. That’s what Dr. John Livingston did in an article (blog post) at the Gem State Patriot News on October 7, 2021 titled We’re being “alloyed.” His first paragraph says:


“I see the word ‘alloyed’ being used in print and the electronic and social media with increasing frequency. I have always known what the word meant in the metallurgical sense, but when referring to a privilege or a ‘right’ I had to look it up. It means according to Merriam’s ‘something added that lowers value.’ Synonyms include the words—'adulterate, befouled and corrupted’. I saw the word used both by Jason Riley and on Fox in the context of the welfare state providing ‘an unalloyed good’. I like the usage in this context. Welfare benefits are in fact an example of an ‘alloyed good’. The value of the lives that such programs are applied to in the long term are devalued and marginalized. The short-term gains—and we were always told that these programs were to provide a bridge to being self-sufficient, have been more than offset by the unintended economic consequences that are the result of incentivizing behaviors that in the end fail to benefit individuals, families, and societies at large.”


He didn’t really know what alloyed meant in a metallurgical sense. (I definitely know since I am a retired metallurgist). Perhaps he looked it up in an older Merriam Webster dictionary, like the 2004 new edition, that only has the following two brief following definitions for alloy:


“[1] a substance composed of metals melted together; [2] an admixture that lessens value.”


If he had looked for the noun at the Merriam-Webster web site he would instead have found THREE definitions - where the first metallurgical one inspired the third other he liked:


“[1] the degree of mixture with base metals: Fineness.


 [2] a substance composed of two or more metals or of a metal and a nonmetal intimately united usually by being fused together and dissolving in each other when molten.


 [3] an admixture that lessens value or an impairing alien element.”


My copy of Webster’s New World Dictionary of the American Language (College Edition 1962) has more detailed descriptions. They include two different metallurgical senses, beginning with a negative one for precious metals (which is the basis for lowering value), and a neutral, general one for mixtures of any metals:


“Noun: 1] the relative purity of gold or silver. 2] a metal that is a mixture of two or more metals or of a metal and something else. 3] a less valuable metal mixed with a more valuable one, often to give hardness, hence 4] something that lowers the value or goodness of another thing when mixed with it. Verb: 1] to make (a metal) less valuable by mixing it with a cheaper metal. 2] to mix (metals). 3] to debase by adding something inferior.”


How about the web site for the Oxford English Dictionary? It has the following definitions for alloyed (as an adjective) and again begins with one for precious metals:


“{1} Senses relating to metals:

[1] Of a precious metal: mixed with a less valuable metal in order to lower its standard or quality without this being apparent, or to improve its durability; (specifically) debased in this way.


[2] Of a metal: combined with another metal or (less commonly) a non-metallic element so as to form an alloy.


{2} Figurative uses.

[3] Of a quality, feeling, experience, etc.: containing a base or undesirable element; mixed, adulterated.”   


Wikipedia has a good article on Fineness, which explains it as follows:


“The fineness of a precious metal object (coin, bar, jewelry, etc.) represents the weight of fine metal therein, in proportion to the total weight which includes alloying base metals and any impurities. Alloy metals are added to increase hardness and durability of coins and jewelry, alter colors, decrease the cost per weight, or avoid the cost of high-purity refinement. For example, copper is added to the precious metal silver to make a more durable alloy for use in coins, housewares and jewelry. Coin silver, which was used for making silver coins in the past, contains 90% silver and 10% copper, by mass….”


Fineness for gold is described by karats (aka carats), where pure gold is 24 karat. 18 karat is 75% gold. 14 karat gold, used for jewelry, is harder and more durable, nominally 58–1/3% gold.   


Dr. Livingston’s third paragraph begins with another mixed-up claim that:


“Since twenty years after its’ founding the modern day Democratic Party has been the party of racism, Jim Crow, grinding segregation—and not just in the Southern states but places like Shaker Heights, Upper Arlington, Bethesda, Beacon Hill Back Bay, Swarthmore, and Bryn Mayr.”


Republicans had switched racist places with the Democrats after the civil rights bill passed in the 1960s, which is described in the Wikipedia page on the modern Southern strategy by the Republican party.


His fourth paragraph misspells RINO as the animal RHINO, as I have described previously in another blog post on August 9, 2021 titled Is that a RHINO or a RINO?


The image of pouring aluminum came from the Library of Congress.





Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Trump inflated the cost for military equipment that was left in Afghanistan



















On September 28, 2021 Donald Trump claimed:


“The horrible ‘withdrawal’ was caused, in particular, because the Military was taken out before American citizens and $85 Billion worth of the highest-grade Military equipment anywhere in the world.”


But fact checking articles found he was exaggerating as usual – by perhaps a factor of three or more. Our total spending for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund (ASFF) was about $85 million. On August 31, 2021 there is an article by Ali Swenson at AP titled FACT FOCUS: Trump, others wrong on US gear left with Taliban. Another on September 3, 2021 by Robert Farley at is titled Republicans inflate cost of Taliban-seized U.S. military equipment. On October 12, 2021 there is still another article by Jacob Jarvis at Newsweek titled Fact Check: Donald Trump’s claim U.S. left $85 billion of equipment with Taliban. Jarvis reported:

“The SIGAR report says that between 2005 and the third quarter of 2021, $18.56 billion from the ASFF was spent on ‘equipment and transportation.’….A Government Accountability Office report from 2017 said around 29 percent of the funds allocated to the ASFF, since it was set up in 2005, were spent on equipment and transportation between 2005 and 2016.”

On September 1, 2020 I blogged about how Donald J. Trump lies almost once each hour of every day.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Most commonly searched fears in U.S. states and DC for 2021


















October is here, and leading up to Halloween it is customary to discuss people’s fears. At the Your Local Security blog on October 6, 2021 there is a post by Alice titled Each state’s most Googled phobia (really fear). She looked at the same list of fears used previously in 2020 in an earlier post on October 12, 2020 titled Your State’s Most-Searched Phobia|2020 which I had blogged about on October 17, 2020 in my post titled Most commonly searched fears in U.S. states and DC for 2020.























I organized those fears into a bar chart listing the number of states with each fear, as shown above including the state abbreviations. For comparison the results for 2020 are shown via a second bar chart. How many states have the same most common fear? Only three: Massachusetts (failure), New York (intimacy), and Tennessee (blood). That’s a paltry six percent.  






























On October 15, 2019 I had blogged about the Most commonly searched fears for 2019 in U.S. states (and DC), and on April 13, 2019 I had blogged about the Most commonly searched fears in U.S. states for both 2017 and 2018. A table shown above lists the number of states where each fear was most common for all five years from 2017 to 2021. Results vary wildly!


The cartoon of a woman at her computer was adapted from this one at Wikimedia Commons.


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Can you trust a blog post where two books it discusses have their authors incorrectly named?














Of course not! It only would take a few minutes to proofread, and check those references at Wikipedia, WorldCat or Amazon. Not doing so indicates a troubling lack of attention to detail (a willingness to instead trust your fallible memory).


At the Gem State Patriot News on October 1, 2021 there is an article (blog post) by Dr. John Livingston titled Why We Are Divided and who is To Blame? He claims that:


“Almost 20 years ago Hans Rosling and his wife Olga wrote and published the book FACTFULNESS. In the book they describe 10 reasons that people are either misled by others, or how they mislead themselves.”


The late Dr. Rosling’s wife was Agneta. His two co-authors for that 2018 book were his son Ola Rosling, and daughter-in law Anna Rosling Ronnlund (see article at Wikipedia). John confused his son with his wife, and left out his daughter-in law. I commented on that mistake and, of course, he said I was right.  


Dr. Livingston also claims:


“A very famous book written by Dr. Marshall McQuillan entitled THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE implanted in the minds of several generations of journalists and media practitioners the idea that an impression or a narrative was far more important than the actual reality.”


The Wikipedia article about that 1967 book instead lists the title as The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects, and the authors as Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore.  


On September 11, 2020 I blogged about Editing tips for speechwriters and other writers. In that post I mentioned two previous articles by Dr. Livingston with spelling errors. He is also the medical policy adviser for the Idaho Freedom Foundation, whose advice cannot be trusted.   


The image was adapted from a 1949 Make Friends with Books poster at the Library of Congress.


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Jackpots of weed sales across the border from Idaho


















I just saw an AP article from yesterday titled First Nevada pot dispensary on Idaho line cleared to open, about how the little casino town of Jackpot (population 1,244) will begin selling marijuana - which is not legal in Idaho. It is 45 miles south from Twin Falls, Idaho (population 45,951). 















Another article by Natalie Fertig at Politico on April 18, 2021 titled Border Weed: how the hometown of Tater Tots became a cannabis capital has a bar chart showing the absurdly high per resident sales in Malheur County, Oregon (whose largest city is Ontario). I’ve added the county population and (name of the largest city) in my version, which is shown above. Malheur County has over 7.5 times the sales that Multnomah County (with Portland) has!


Those articles reminded me how adjoining states have very different laws. For example, Oregon has no sales tax, while Idaho charges 6%. Conversely, Oregon has a beverage container deposit law, while Idaho does not. Nevada has gambling everywhere, so border towns like Jackpot and West Wendover (next to Utah) get out-of-state visitors.


And while Idaho and 47 other states allow self-serve sales of gasoline, Oregon (with some exceptions) and New Jersey do not. The situation in Oregon was discussed in yet another article by Andrew Damitio at Medium on November 13, 2019 titled The Insanity of Oregon’s Self-Serve Gas Ban.


Thursday, October 7, 2021

Heritage interpretation at the Evergreen Air & Space Museum










On Monday, October 4, 2021 I visited the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum over in McMinnville, Oregon. Its centerpiece is the one and only wooden Hughes Flying Boat, popularly known as the Spruce Goose. That eight-engine monster has a wingspan of 320 feet, a length of 219 feet, and a height of 79 feet. The nose faces the end of the museum shown above.


In a blog post on July 16, 2021titled Heritage Interpretation – telling historical stories to people, I quoted Freeman Tilden’s definition for interpretation, which is:


“An educational activity which aims to reveal meaning and relationships through the use of original objects, by first-hand experience, and by illustrative media, rather than simply to communicate factual information.”


Telling those historical stories in a museum involves letting people see the objects and explanatory placards (which should not have more detail than can be read in three minutes). They also can ask guides for even more details. 



















For example, a Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat and its placard are shown above. 






















Another example is the 2,000 hp. Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp radial engine. The placard provides context reminding us it had powered two famous WWII fighter planes, the Vought F4U Corsair and the Republic P47 Thunderbolt.























Another aircraft on display is a Piper L-4H Grasshopper (the military version of the Piper J-3  Cub). To further add interest, it is displayed along with an anti-tank bazooka rocket launching tube. The placard mentions Major Charles Carpenter, who was known as ‘Bazooka Charlie’ for his tank busting feats. His WWII exploits were described briefly on page 84 of the February 1945 issue of Popular Science magazine:




Maj. Charlie Carpenter of the Armored Command got tired of seeing enemy tanks scurrying around below while he spotted artillery hits from his ‘grasshopper’ plane. So, with the assistance of the Ninth Air force Service Command and an associate in Ordnance, he equipped the Cub with bazookas, and went to work on the Germans. Under each wing he mounted a battery of three of the weapons, loaded and ready for firing by means of a cord pulled by the pilot. The prey was sized up from high altitude, and, since the enemy believed that the pilot was concerned only with artillery spotting, they did not notice the bazookas inconspicuously located under his wings. When he had picked his target, he spiraled down and swooped in just above the treetops for the kill.


The first day Carpenter knocked out one Tiger tank with each battery, and the latest available report shows his total to be 14. The photograph at the left is a muzzle-end view showing how three of the rocket hurlers are mounted on the struts of a Piper Cub. All three bazookas on one side are fired by a jerk on a lanyard, shaking the little ship like a fever chill.”     


In the April 2020 issue of Air & Space Smithsonian there is another article by Jim Busha titled Bazooka Charlie and the Grasshopper: A tale of World War II.



































For variety some of the aircraft are displayed hanging from wires rather than just sitting on their landing gear. As shown above, an aerobatic Russian YAK-50 is almost sideways, and a Pitts Special aerobatic biplane is upside down.





































Some high-speed aircraft also are displayed in the Space Museum building. A North American X-15 rocket plane is displayed with its nose pointed skyward. The placard says:



In 1963, the X-15 took pilot Joe Walker to the edge of space twice! (An altitude greater than 100 km or 328,000 feet – approximately 62 miles – is considered space. Walker flew to 354,200 feet, more than 67 miles high). Walker was formally designated an astronaut for his achievement, preceding Gus Grissom by more than a year and a half as the first man to enter space twice. [X-a5 pilot Neil Armstrong, later becoming the first man to walk on the moon, and X-15 pilot Joe Engle went on to fly the space shuttle.] The X-15 flew 199 flights. The last was in October 1968. This is an engineering model of the X-15. IT was used for wind tunnel testing.”  

























There also is a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird (shown with the outboard end of its left wing raised to reveal the engine). To its left is the accompanying D-21 drone it sometimes would carry.


Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Best historical story about an inflatable prop























On Monday, October 4, 2021 I visited the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum over in McMinnville, Oregon. Its centerpiece is the one and only wooden Hughes Flying Boat, popularly known as the Spruce Goose. That eight-engine monster (shown above in a vintage photo and on display) has a wingspan of 320 feet, a length of 219 feet, and a height of 79 feet.


















When you walk inside the fuselage and look towards the rear, you can see some beach balls. Why are they there?

















A display on the balcony provides the following explanation (which could be the basis for a Toastmasters speech):


“This beach ball is a genuine historic artifact from the one-and-only flight of the Hughes Fyling Boat Spruce Goose.


In preparing for taxi tests, Hughes was concerned about the floatability of the aircraft if the hull was breached. His solution was to pack the hull with a readily available flotation device…beach balls.


The story goes that prior to and shortly after the Nov. 2, 1947 taxi test and single flight of the Hughes Flying Boat, a beach ball could not be found in the Los Angeles area and possibly, all of Southern California. Hughes had instructed his people to purchase every beach ball they could find.


For the test, Hughes had the balls stuffed in the hull but it has yet to be determined exactly where they were placed. In 1992, a portion of those balls arrived in McMinnville still in the hull of the Flying Boat. This ball is one of about 25 of the original LA Beach Balls.”