Sunday, July 19, 2015

Maps of the world...

Maps of the world ... made by the Soviets.  Fascinating story, and some of the maps...

Progress in Paradise, compressed air edition...

Progress in Paradise, compressed air edition...  On Friday the folks that made my new workbench called me and said it was ready for delivery – a month early!  We arranged for them to bring it on Monday (tomorrow) morning – which means that today I had to rearrange things in my wood shop to make a place for it. 

With all the construction I've been doing in there, the place was a half inch deep in wood shavings, sawdust, dirt, and all sorts of jetsam and flotsam.  So this is a good time for a little cleaning.  When I considered that, it of course occurred to me that using a compressed air gun would be mighty handy to blow all the accumulated dust off my tools, shelve, etc., onto the floor where I can vacuum it up easily.  And that made me think of that beautiful new air compressor I have sitting there, waiting to be plumbed up.  I couldn't stand it.  So I ran to Home Depot and got enough plumbing parts to put a couple of female 1/4" quick-connect couplers on the back of the compressor.  Once I got all that put together, I had a great way to use that air compressor between now and the time I get all the copper pipe installed.  Hooray!

After that, 15 minutes of work with the air gun (very impressive, with 150 pounds of air pressure behind it!) got every bit of surface dust onto the floor.  I vacuumed half the shop and rearranged everything mo' bettah.  Then it started to get hot, so I put off the last half until early tomorrow morning, when it should be about 50° in there. 

One of the things I did while rearranging things was to take a bunch of stuff up to the second floor for storage.  Mostly this is stuff leftover from our move up here, and I just never took it upstairs.  That's too much like hard work!  Except that it's not actually so hard, since I have the electric hoist and hatch, which happens to be directly over my workshop.  The photo at right shows one load of stuff being lifted through the hatch.  The pallet is tied by four ropes to the hoist, which is just out of sight above the photo.  That particular pallet load had about 150 pounds of stuff on it (mostly in that green bin).  Hoisting it up this way is ever so much easier than hauling up the stairs manually!

Morning in Paradise...

Morning in Paradise...  Miki, Race, and I took yet another route this morning, totaling about 2.5 miles round trip.  When we left, the mountains to the west had just their peaks in sunlight.  When we returned, the entire valley was sunlit.  It was just 48° outside, and wall-to-wall blue sky.  Beautiful, it was.

I love all the lighting effects in the early morning, as the mountains' shadows recede across the valley sides and floor.  In the last photo below, there's a pronounced “halo effect” around the shadow of my head (where the camera was).  This was just five minutes or so after the sun first hit that alfalfa, so the effect has to be entirely due to dewdrops and hairs – the plants couldn't have oriented their leaves so quickly!

So, I've finished reading...

So, I've finished reading ... the text of the Iran deal (formally the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action”, or JCPOA).  It's available as a PDF file here.  My conclusion?  While there is some hyperbole, as you'd expect, from the critics of the deal ... in general they are completely correct.

The deal is incredibly lopsided in favor of the Iranians.  It appears to have been designed to facilitate cheating at the margins.  There really is no provision other than re-imposition of sanctions in the event of non-compliance.  No fines, no threat of military intervention, no punitive action of any kind.  Any rational actor would of course immediately start pushing at the edges to see what they could get away with.  As quite a few reviewers have pointed out, because Iran has already put us on notice (with language baked into the deal) that if any sanctions are re-imposed, they consider the deal null and void ... then the chances of our side re-imposing sanctions for “small” infractions are near zero.  In other words, this deal is unenforceable.  Worse, for so long as the deal is in force, the signatories are obligated not to take military action against Iran.  The only way the deal could possibly be “enforced” is if some third party (Israel, Saudi Arabia, or a Middle Eastern consortium) does the enforcing militarily, or if a signatory unilaterally decides to abrogate the deal.

Designed for failure, it is.

If I were in the Iranian's shoes, I'd be taking a big chunk of that $100B or so that's being freed up, and using it to buy defensive weapons (once those sanctions are lifted) to raise the price for an attack by Middle Eastern rivals.  If I were in the shoes of the Israelis or the Saudis, I'd be polishing up my attack plans, and preparing to execute them before the sanctions are lifted just to avoid the preceding.  A joint attack would make the most sense, though I'm not sure that's palatable politically, for the Saudis.

I think this deal just raised the chances of a regional conflict, involving millions of people, very substantially.

Even the text of the JCPOA is lopsided.  I didn't measure them, but by eyeball between 80% and 90% of the text is all about the benefits to Iran.

No wonder they're dancing in the streets in Tehran!