How to Build a Computer 31: Sputtering


Today we answer an important question: “How do I coat things in metal; even things that don’t want to be coated in metal?” You want to plate gold onto you Sacajawea dollar, that’s easy enough. You can use electricity to get one metal to stick to another. You want to cover Jill Masterson you use gold paint. But let’s say you’ve got a little plastic doohickey you want to look at under an SEM. Plastic famously refuses to conduct electricity. So how do you defeat the charging problems? (The charging problems that we mentioned last time. You were paying attention, weren’t you?) The answer is you sputter coat it. And this week I’ll be explaining what that means.

Also in the SEM lab; you can tell by the example images they’ve stuck into the window.

Start with an Argon plasma. Hmm… maybe let’s start a little earlier than that. A plasma is a gas where the atoms have an electron stripped off. Also, the stripped off electrons. You’ve got to keep your plasma at a pretty high energy, otherwise your atoms recapture their electrons and you end up with a boring ol’ gas. If you’re the Sun then you can make a plasma by heating up these gases to an enormous temperature. On Earth that’s less convenient, so we use electricity.


The Beautiful Gardens of Kyoto


Asian culture, religions and countries have intrigued me for many years. In fact, I practiced Zen Buddhism for over 20 years and my husband grew bonsai plants. So as part of a trip abroad, primarily to visit our friends in Thailand, we decided to add a week for a trip to Kyoto, Japan.


April Jobs Report: Is American Capitalism Still Broken? Asking for a Friend.


If you want to find bad news in the April jobs report, it’s there to find. I mean, something is always there. And this report is no different. The labor force shrank, and the participation rate declined. Hours worked declined. Manufacturing job growth was just meh. The increase in average hourly earnings rate was less than expected. And while the 3.6% unemployment rate is the lowest since 1969, the broader U-7 rate of 7.3% is only the lowest since 2001.

But, gang, that 3.6% jobless rate is the lowest in 50 years, since humans first stepped foot on the Moon. And as the expansion nears its tenth anniversary, the economy is still generating gobs of jobs — 263,000 last month and a monthly average of 205,000 through the first four months of this year.


Desert Blooms


The Desert Southwest is not colorless. Nor are the colors in the landscape just from different hues of sand and stone. There is a great deal of life, a fascinating variety of plants.

When I moved to Arizona, I carried a bit of the family tradition with me, trying to grow the sorts of flowers, herbs, and vegetables I had grown up around. I acclimatized and discovered that even short absences resulted in returning home to find sun-blasted plants. So, I switched to regional plants in my large container garden.


‘I’m Melting! I’m Melting!’


This must be the cry the Senate Judiciary Committee Democrats are trying to stifle, following the hearing with Attorney General William Barr. While they can’t miss the fact that their whole case for taking down Donald Trump is crumbling, they are desperate to try to maintain their image of righteousness behind the curtain. But the curtain is slowly being drawn back, and I think they are realizing that they are all in deep trouble. In their collusion to destroy Donald Trump, they have ensured their own destruction, in part because they have underestimated AG Barr.


A Tale of Two Obstructions


Every Republican remembers with disgust the video of Bill Clinton glowering into the camera and declaring “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie. Never. These allegations are false.”

It’s worth revisiting why that statement was so infuriating. It wasn’t because we — well, let me speak for myself, I — was outraged at the idea of a president having an affair with a young intern (though that was part of it). No, it was the lying. Bill Clinton lied and lied and lied. He even lied under oath. Lying is cheating. Lying displays contempt for other people.


The Emperor Has Retired, Long Live the Emperor son has risen in Japan, as Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko bowed out gracefully in favor of their son and daughter-in-law, now the Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako. What, you missed this on May Day? You are not alone. The Japanese head of state, like the British monarch, has an important public role, but no real political power.

President Trump thanked the outgoing Emperor and Empress on 29 April, then sent greetings and congratulations to the incoming emperor and empress on 30 April. This abdication was a new thing for Japanese emperors since the Meiji Restoration, when the emperors reassumed real power:


Mind The Gap


In The Atlantic, I react to Attorney General Barr’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee today:

“Criticism of Barr’s summary makes much ado about nothing. Barr released the Mueller report just a few weeks later, with the crucial second volume on obstruction of justice virtually unredacted. Members of Congress and the public can reach their own judgments now on the Mueller report’s findings on obstruction. How Barr characterized Mueller’s findings makes no difference.


Environmentalism: A Long View


“Sustainable.” People seem awfully fond of that word, using it more and more to the point where the XKCD guy figured out when the English language becomes only the word “sustainable” over and over and over again.

The problem with sustainability is that it assumes that, well, things can be sustained. That there exists a possible steady-state future where the environment isn’t harmed by mankind. We assume that, left to it’s own devices, the environment stays the same. The environment will change, and it will change in spite of our attempts to sustain it.


Mohammed Noor Guilty of Murder, Manslaughter in Death of Justine Damond


To the surprise of no one who followed the case, former Minneapolis police officer Mohammed Noor was found guilty yesterday in the killing of Justine Damond. Recall that in July 2017, Noor was one of two police officers to respond to Damond’s 911 call regarding a possible sexual assault in progress near her home. After the police car passed down the alley behind her home, Damond approached the officers as they sat in their car. Noor, startled by Damond’s sudden appearance, shot her.

As I wrote at the time on PJ Media, I could not imagine any jury entertaining the suggestion that Noor had a reasonable fear for his safety, the standard governing police use of deadly force established by the U.S. Supreme Court in Graham v. Connor. As I anticipated, Noor’s defense relied on the testimony of a police use-of-force “expert” who tried to persuade the jury that Noor’s fatal response to Damond’s surprise approach was reasonable. A quote from my PJ Media piece:


The FTC Unfriends Facebook


While Facebook thrives in the marketplace, the company is under siege by angry critics both inside and outside of government over privacy issues. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) claims that Facebook violated its 2011 privacy consent decree and may impose a fine on the company of up to $5 billion. The FTC alleges that Facebook did not do enough to protect user data from being improperly exploited by Cambridge Analytica, which used that data to supply strategy advice to the Trump campaign.

In one sense, the fine is the least of Facebook’s worries; other initiatives are in development to alter the way the company does business. With her usual lack of caution, Senator Elizabeth Warren has called for the breakup of Facebook, Amazon, and Google on the ground that their allegedly monopolistic practices tend to squash smaller upstarts, leading to what she laments as a rapid decline in competition and innovation across an industry that has been defined by fierce competition and high levels of innovation. Warren doubled down on her position by recently unveiling a new bill imposing criminal liability—including jail time—on corporate executives for simple negligence in carrying out their manifold duties.


Biden and Bernie


View original artwork here.


What’s Wrong With This Picture?


This screenshot is from The New York Times website on April 25, 2019. It was nestled among other stories. So, how do you think this lede got by the brain of the person who posted it alongside this photograph? Really?

You are looking at the school principal. Look at her. Now read the last sentence of the summary, intended to induce you to click and read more. “The dress code has been criticized as racist and elitist.” Roll that around your tongue. Swish to get all the flavor notes.


Caught in a Woke Romance


“May I hold your hand?”

He’d been going with her for a couple of months now, but familiarity doesn’t imply consent, and so he was as usual careful to ask her permission before initiating any sort of intimate contact. For a brief moment, he felt the old relief that she chose to go with the conventional pronouns, but he manfully shoved aside such a transphobic thought.


Marie and Pierre Curie: A Love Story


When I think of the name Curie, I automatically think of Marie Curie, the incredibly bright and industrious woman who discovered the nature and uses of uranium. She is especially recognized for being the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize. (The Nobel Committee first wanted to give the prizes only to her husband, Pierre, and Henri Becquerel, but Pierre insisted the Marie also be recognized.) Her husband’s insistence that she be included was typical of the kind of love, partnership and respect this couple shared:

By the summer of 1898, Marie’s husband Pierre had become as excited about her discoveries as Marie herself. He asked Marie if he could cooperate with her scientifically, and she welcomed him. By this time, they had a one-year old daughter Irene. Amazingly, 37 years later, Irene Curie herself would win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


Will Conservatives Give Russia a Pass?


The conservative media world, along with all but a few Republican members of Congress, are in the process of handing Vladimir Putin his greatest victory yet. They are ignoring the copious evidence in the Mueller report that Russia interfered in our election and continues to do so. Pace Jared Kushner, it was a whole lot more sinister than a “couple of Facebook ads.”

The narrative has now taken hold that the Mueller investigation originated with the Steele dossier. On Fox News, Ed Henry said that the FBI relied on the dossier to “get this whole thing going.” Breitbart referred to the “debunked Russia hoax,” and a Wall Street Journal editorial demanded to know how “the partisan propaganda known as the Steele dossier become the basis for an unprecedented FBI probe of a presidential campaign . . . “


What Genocide? The First State-Directed Mass Murder in a Bloody Century


France24 has topics for both Sri Lanka and the Armenian Genocide. No stories on the Armenian Genocide 104th anniversary appear on CNN’s website. Then again, CNN is in good company with Fox News, also silent on the anniversary. As a brief refresher, the Ottoman Empire, almost on its death bed—before a group of younger officers dragged the Turkish nation into secular modernity—launched a campaign against Armenian communities. This ethnic cleansing and mass murder campaign was not only ethnic but also religious.

The Ottoman sultan would no longer tolerate the existence of some of the most ancient Christian communities in the world. There was much unrest in the larger region over borders and nations. The rationale offered by the Turks’ German allies, at the time, was that there was only room for one people on the land. Americans launched large humanitarian relief efforts, but no nation stepped in to stop the atrocities. Indeed, who could, as war raged in Europe, then gave way to the task of rebuilding and redrawing maps.


New School Dress Code – for Parents!


I loved hearing this news. Imagine telling the parents of school children to dress like responsible adults! The principal of James Madison High School in Houston, Carlotta Outley Brown, expects parents to meet the standards to dress appropriately when they appear at the school:

A letter from Ms. Brown to parents and guests on the school’s website forbids them from being at school in such attire as hair rollers, pajamas, sagging pants, leggings that show the wearer’s bottom, low rider shorts and torn jeans showing lots of skin.


Passover, Houses of Worship, and Intimacy


On Passover/Pesach I spent a sweet and deeply moving (and fun) time at the @iwe family seders. It’s not unusual for them to last until 1:30 to 2 a.m., and I’ve been told those are short ones! As always, they were inspiring and educational, and I’ve so enjoyed being with the iwe family for Pesach over the last four years.

During the seder, we spend a lot of time asking questions and discussing many aspects of the exodus from Egypt and the purpose of the rituals we practice. At one point (although I don’t remember the specific context), the topic came up of the Beis HaMikdash, the Second Temple built by Herod, expanding on the ruins of the first. Consider that Herod’s purpose was not just to bring people together and to honor G-d, but to build a magnificent monument to Herod’s power and glory. In fact, the Second Temple was a huge facility but might have lacked spiritual warmth. That might not have been the kind of building that G-d had commanded to be built.


Texas Shows What Real Prosecution of “Hate” Crime Looks Like: Death Penalty


This is what real “hate crimes” legislation and prosecution looks like: “A second man convicted in the 1998 dragging death of James Byrd Jr. is set to be executed this week.” A second man convicted of dragging a black man to death is set to be executed by Texas this week. This monster would be spending the rest of his life, maybe, as a ward of the state in California, or Washington State, or New York, or fill in your Democrat-controlled state here.

But see what CNN and the left prioritizes:


Are “Easter Worshipers” the New “Deli Customers?”


It was remarkably unremarkable that Democrats all sang off the same sheet, effacing the Christian identity of the latest Islamist terror attack. Naturally, the propaganda arm of the left furiously buried the truth of both the carefully targeted victims and their victimizers. The red-green coalition carefully obscured Who Attacked Whom in Sri Lanka? This followed naturally after a President of the United States got away with effacing the identity of victims, openly gunned down in France, when those carrying out the Vernichtung of Jews could not be cast as right wing. To aid the red-green coalition’s advancement, both Jews and Christians are to be cast as “white,” “colonialist,” “imperialist,” and “privileged.”

Think back only a few years. An Islamist attack on a satirical newspaper in France was followed by smaller attacks that terminated in a Jewish deli. Journalists and security services, therefore the President of the United States, knew the terrorist’s motive for picking his target.


Barr Trumps Mueller


The recent release of the Mueller Report has brought with it neither peace nor finality. Rather, it marks the end of only the latest skirmish in the ongoing war between an embattled president and his determined Democratic foes. To be sure, the charges of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians have been safely put to bed.

But the battle over whether the President engaged in obstruction of justice in the aftermath of his electoral victory has flared anew, in large measure because Mueller issued a Scotch verdict of not-proven when he wrote: “Accordingly, while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.” That passage offers an open invitation to Congress to continue an investigation of whether the president obstructed justice. Progressive Democrats are now pressuring Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to begin impeachment proceedings against the president on just that charge.


ACF American Masters #6: Ride the High Country


This week, Prof. John Marini joins me on the podcast for a conversation about Sam Peckinpah’s first great Western, Ride The High Country, a movie about the collapse of nobility. Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea play veteran marshals of the Old West, whose time has passed, and who take one last job to make something of themselves–or for themselves. This is our sixth Western conversation and next week, for our seventh, we’ll talk about Peckinpah’s last great Western, The Ballad Of Cable Hogue.