Pissing into the Wind, or A Mid-Afternoon Ramble 24Dec15 | 0


Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. If something can’t be done in a fair, safe, and just fashion, it simply shouldn’t be done.

Currently, quasi-governmental surveillance of the global population is such an issue. A government by and for the people wouldn’t have such concerns, but of course the internal power structures that have set up within our government have other concerns, and various agencies and self-organizing groups have extensive resources deployed upon the general population.

Freedom, and by extension privacy, are under their final assault. We’re at a tipping point.  On which side of history will we fall, which direction are we intentionally choosing for our fate?

True encryption is necessary. Privacy and freedom are basic human rights. Without privacy, what is life? With every bodily function and flawed human decision exposed and available for exploitation and extortion? Power is exploited, that’s a simple fact of human nature. Power corrupts. It’s inevitable given the sheer number of sociopaths that make up the general population, and without any research and effort into that topic it’s a problem we need to knowingly deal with and handle in an intentional fashion. However, that’s a conversation for a different day…

Without encryption, the last bastion of privacy falls and freedom vanishes from Western Civilization. Knowledge is power. And all of the power resides within the hands of a very few. All decisions are made within the minds of the very few with their own privacy, freedom ,and control; those who are free to manipulate and control everything within their purview, all of modern existence that flows through electronic communication methods.

For all I know, this has already happened. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?  That said, assuming this is not all simply an exercise of pissing into the wind…we’ve made the same mistakes over, and over, and over throughout history. The slow erosion of freedom and the consolidation of power and control. We’ve seen what the worst of humanity can do when given power and control.

Let us put behind us our base nature, our flawed characteristics, embrace our fear of the unknown, and choose to move forward into the dark with our heads held high and a love of what is good and noble in our hearts. It’s time to take a step in the right direction, and enshroud true encryption within it’s rightful place as a fundamental human right, without which it is flatly impossible to ensure privacy and freedom.

Adding an Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX rack to a Trek 7.2 FX… 28Apr15 | 0

…everything’s on the internet right?  Well, how come I couldn’t find instructions on how to match up these two bits of kit?  After struggling for an hour, I realized that I could potentially save someone a lot of time…

Here’s my mini-howto on getting some panniers into your life!

To start, this is specifically for the Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX mated to a Trek 7.2 FX.  If you’re looking for more general information, this is a great overview.  Why the “disc” version on a bike without disc brakes?  Room to breath, of course.

My Trek is the first “real” bike I’ve ever owned, and certainly the first I’ve done anything to other than irregularly lubricating the chain.  Also, my Trek is a couple years old (2012 I think?) so Your Mileage May Vary if it’s much older or much newer.  I hear the 2015 is a slight downgrade in build quality…anyway, enough rambling…

First: the Axiom came with entirely too much mounting hardware.  I suppose out of necessity, both the hardware kit and the hilariously vague instructions (I had to download them off the internet) are generic.  Don’t bother downloading them, they’ll just make the job take three times as long as you screw around with the center bracket before eventually being forced to abandon it: for the Trek, I didn’t need the middle bracket (or perhaps I do, but it’s a good 4″ too short to reach anything useful).  I’m sure it’s necessary to reach the rated ~100 pound capacity.

Next, I had to pop some rubber bungs out of the threaded fittings welded onto the frame below the seat (in the bicycling world, these are called “internally threaded eyelets on the seat stays” I think?  I may very well be wrong!)  This is the location on the Trek:

seat stay threaded eyelets

The smooth silver bolt head in the middle bottom of the image (I think it’s called a rear brake frame mount) is where the center bracket would fit if it had been appreciably longer :/

Next, loosen the four hex head bolts that hold the “Versalock arms”. They’re the bits that are hooked to the frame in the above picture.  Don’t loosen the bolts too far, just enough so you can easily slide the arms in and out, and rotate them a bit.

Time to start mounting!  Lightly place the rack into approximate place.  There are more threaded nipples down near the rear axle.  If you want maximum load capacity, you probably want to use the axle (I think the technical term is “quick release skewer”) itself as the mount point (as well as fabricating a longer middle bracket and fiddling with Versalock arms so they don’t block the middle bracket).  Easy enough to move at any time with a couple hex keys.  If you’re like me and just wanted to get the rack mounted before needing to ride home in the dark, line the bottom of the rack up with the rearmost eyelets:

Rear rack bottom mount point

You can see I experimented with various mount locations ;)  I used the longer bolts, as the backside of the eyelet has plenty of clearance.  Also, I am very underwhelmed by how secure the bolt is in the eyelet.  Some thread-lock or a locknut on the backside is definitely in order!  A locknut may be challenging, as the backside of the eyelet is angled for what I’m sure is some really great reason.  Don’t bother going nuts on tightening the bolt, just have it holding the bracket in place until all of the mount points are in place and the rack is level.

With the bracket lightly in place, align the Versalock arms so they reach the seat stay eyelets.  If you get things loose enough, you can do just about anything you want with the arms (I managed to get them backwards at one point, so two of the bolts were facing each other under the rack…I’m special like that).  I found that the arms interfered with the rear brakes if they weren’t in this specific configuration shown in my images.  You may be able to “adjust” things differently with a little elbow grease.  Also, I saved the shortest of the included bolts for this, as I figured the longer bolts may have bottomed out before tightening down.

Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX mounted on a Trek FX 7.2

Now that everything is roughly in place and you’re pretty sure the rack is level, tighten down the bottom bolts near the axle, then tighten down the bolts on the seat stays.  Again, this is aluminum:  don’t go nuts with the torque, I erred on the side of caution knowing I have thread-lock that is going to be slathered in here once I’m positive of the exact alignment.  Finally, make sure the Versalock arms look tidy under the rack, and slowly tighten down the four bolts holding them in place.  It’ll slowly pull itself into place, and right before it gets firm is your last chance to make minor adjustments to the angle of the rack.  For these Versalaock arm bolts, I did give a little bit of torque, as I figure if this rack has a lifetime warranty these bits must be sturdy.

Three of these bolts are visible here.  The shiny holes are from my misguided (thanks, instructions!) attempt at using the middle bracket:

Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX Versalock arm bolts

If you made it this far, you now have a rack on your bike in a fraction of the time it took me.  Enjoy!

Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX mounted on a Trek FX 7.2
Axiom Streamliner Disc DLX rack on a Trek FX 7.2

Reminder: for maximum load carrying capacity, you’ll want the bottom bracket on the axle, and probably want to figure out some way to rig a new middle top bracket.  The manufacturer claims it’ll carry 50kg (110 pounds!), and I don’t see that happening on those little eyelets over bumps for thousands of miles without something unfortunate happening to the welds…also, acquire high strenght threadlock / red loctite (and a bunch of spare bolts).

Feel free to comment if you have any feedback or input: you don’t need to register or login.

Why is Ting so damn cheap? 22Jan15 | 1

Via reddit, courtesy of Hyperion1144:

The reason MVNOs are allowed to exist is to supplement the pricing strategies of the Big 4. MVNOs, by virtue of their lower visibility (less marketing, often no physical stores) attract only the truly “price conscious” consumer, while other types of consumers just walk into the nearest red, orange, pink, or yellow store and pay whatever they are told to pay.

Lots of people think they are price conscious, most are often not. They are brand conscious, and then compare prices among the brands they are willing to look at. Most consumers haven’t yet clued into just how much of a commodity cell service can be.

Cell carriers want to charge the price unconscious as much as they will bear, without diluting their brand by also selling value services to the price conscious consumer. The MVNOs are a filter, an alternative branding system, that allows the Big 4 to do this.

tl;dr: because if you’re a cheapskate, things simply cost less.  if you are too lazy to put any effort into life, things cost more.

Obligatory Ting referral link…

TIL about the origins of Vermont, the corporate yoke on government starting early, and a local business-raised militia… 12Mar14 | 0


  “By early 1785 many influential merchants and political leaders were already agreed that a stronger central government was needed.”

Quantum tomfoolery… 19Dec13 | Comments Off on Quantum tomfoolery…

Macroscopic examples of quantum behavior

I was thinking today that you could probably get away with one main east-west pipeline to connect the United States’ power grid together with a superconductive mega-transmission line. You’d have to cool it, as we can’t yet have nice things like room temperature superconductors, but assuming we’re using massive permanent mega-renewable generation projects to exploit natural resources in the regions where they occur, I’m sure you could farm a bit of that off in each region for use chilling coolant…and it turns out like most things I wonder about, someone else is on top of it already, it’s called a “SuperGrid”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_power_transmission#Superconducting_cables


Speaking of quantum physics: ELI5 quantum black holes and our universe as a holographic projection

This got me thinking to how those little strings (for the lack of a better term) interact with each other, in an imaginary world where I could generate the necessary graphics to approximately visualize such things in realtime. The unintuitive bits inside atoms squishing together, the internal short-range mixing establishing how the combined boundaries and forces project and interact…akin yet very different from the day-to-day forces and distances we intuit from our senses and other evolutionary tools…

The universe does strange things with massive amounts of energy, especially when condensed into matter.  It pops increasing amounts of energy into new ranges of interactive forces past various critical masses.  Whether that mass is a black hole, a pair of butterfly wings, or even a single photon.  Energy loosely interacting due to the complex rules between these infinitesimal strings of energy along the humdrum effects of electromagnetic forces: ‘higher’, more distant rules of interaction.

The range of any given force expressed by a specific combination of quarks depends upon the total number of these quarks interacting, and how they’re interacting.   The quarks within our atoms within our bodies do not interact with the quarks in atoms across the living room in a strong enough fashion for us to consciously detect unless there is a source of energy that our evolutionary tools can detect: usually sound/vibration and electromagnetic radiation.  The quarks in the surface of the skin of our fingers and the surface of a keyboard’s keys, on the other hand, combine to create exceptional detectable interactions.  My very profound lack of strength to simply press through the atoms comprising each key seems surprising, given how very tiny and ridiculously small these quarks are, and the relatively vast distances between each individual component.  Oh my, and the interesting and useful way in which electromagnetic waves bounce of each surface…

Above a certain threshold of constituents (quarks, effectively a piece of math without any intuitive way to experience them) a black hole is formed. For our purposes, everything that falls within (over the event horizon) is lost forever: likely the ability to exchange information between either edge of the event horizon is lost as well, regardless of how well you are perched on either side. To think of photons themselves overcome by the forces involved.  Light that bounces so widely and thoroughly through our day to day lives, overcome by gravity.  Significant, and a very profound change from the state of matter we normally interact with!  Common sense says that gravity is only something that happens to apples, not to the beam of your flashlight…

Two questions quickly arise when I spend a little time considering such things…

What happens when a black hole reaches a critical mass? That is, are there additional states (ranges / forces) of matter beyond a black hold.  Do they collapse further inward, or do the forces buoying out overwhelm gravity (something vaguely analogous to a supernova).? Do strings pull closer yet and interact on an entirely new set of rules beyond those necessary to understand all currently observed universal activity?

If forces / states of matter such as this could be explored using math, could it be possible to map out the past and the future of the universe?  Gathering the required observational data could be a bit tricky, which is why most theoretical physics stays theoretical.

If a black hole explodes like a quasar, spewing quarks (or matter and energy) in every direction, while other black holes are doing similar things in other areas, some of the outspewn matter would begin to coalesce around existing black holes that weren’t large enough to be pushed over the edge into genesis, such interactions perhaps could seed the current interlocking knots of matter we observe today?  So much speculation…I should watch less Nova and more Family Guy, huh?

The net effect on the local matter ejected in a situation like this must appear very odd indeed from the perspective of those within the situation, riding the explosions outward into the vast expanse of the universe, due to everything around you expanding away in every direction as the spewed material pushes in every directly away from everything else, somehow…now apparently in every direction, 14 billion years ago. Very strange things, the universe does with energy and time…

From a far distant observation point, you could watch the entire thing unfold in extreme slow motion…if you have the patience and time of chaos, the sky, dark, and light itself.  Observed from an encircling, insulating nebula?  Sure, why not…

The strings, these tiny spheres of influence, that bring about the universe as we know it, apparently have a tremendously smaller actual / internal volume than their field of interaction exists outside.  Imagine two magnets, where strong ones will attract or repel at significant distances.   Take range of interaction between the constituents of a proton compared to the constituents of an atom, or of an atom compared to a molecule. In each situation, a larger sphere of influence (as we can measure) is exerted upon a specific volume of spacetime as more constituents join into the interaction. Varying distances between the underlying string spheres of interaction determines which set of rules is primarily going to govern the interaction. We see this as gravity pulling a glass of milk to the floor: those are the distances and the number / arrangement of constituent quarks sets that we experience in day to day life.  The math we intuit, rather than needing to hash out on paper.

Reducing the dimensions simplifies the interaction from a math standpoint, and oddly enough can apparently within some prescribed conditions predict the same net outcome as a more complex interaction including what we consider more distant set of rules, such as gravity. Basically, you can fudge the math and come up with the same result.  Gravity, being such a loose and unusual rule from a quantum standpoint, yet being the one we exist and normally interact within, gravity gives us a very odd viewpoint on both the nature of reality and makes quantum physics outside of the range of our instinctual common sense.  Gravity and inertia are relatively odd things for quarks to do from a math standpoint, yet we interact with this mathematically holographic universe in a way we can instinctively calculate to incredibly accuracy (imagine sucessfully batting against a MLB pitcher).

Reducing also simplifies our understanding of these universal little strings: the ones we’re most familiar with (photons), they oddly enough can appear to be waves and particles at the same time. Because of the way they encode and transmit data on the surface of their area of influence, as far as the math is concerned they’re both simultaneously.  To be both a particle and a wave (I general consider myself a collection of particles) I’d  have to do strange things to my underlying strings, huh?  I’ve never managed to slip through a metal fence the way a wave effortlessly could, but I suppose you could fudge the math and come up with almost anything fantastically improbable given the right set of starting circumstances.  Technically possible, but not likely: a profound distinction.  And to think that, in this huge, macro, epic-distance world that our instinctive common sense works best with, we’re only really used to seeing the electrostatic force that prevents our fingers from reaching right through that glass of milk as it slips to the floor: mass, and the ability to usefully manipulate this condensed energy we call matter.  Very very strange…

Or, this, to cut my longwindedness short and boil it down to a very concise summary as omgpro has done here.   Note that I’ve added italics…

“It’s not like there’s some magical thing that happens to quantum particles that doesn’t apply to bigger things. It’s just that things at different scales behave differently. At the scale of stars, gravity influences things billions and billions of miles away. If you scaled the distances and sizes down, there would be almost no gravitational effect. If you take a bridge and scale it up 10 times the size it will collapse.”

/pointless ramble