About WaltTheMan

I'm the old fart at the Zoo.

Sad news

Hello,

I am Walter Hedeman’s son. He passed away Friday morning in his sleep. I know that this blog meant a lot to him and he would want you to know. Thank you for being there for my Dad over the years.

Walter Hedeman jr.

The Watering Hole: March 31 – Don Quixote

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

Alonso Quijano was a retired country gentleman nearing fifty years of age, who lived in La Mancha with a niece and housekeeper. His reading of books of chivalry to an excess has caused an effect on him, leading to a distortion of his mental state. He accepted every word of the facets of chivalry to be true while chivalry was clearly fiction. Otherwise his wits were intact. He went out as a knight in search of adventure. He donned an old suit of armour, renamed himself “Don Quixote de la Mancha,” and named his skinny horse “Rocinante”. A neighboring farm girl became his lady love and he renamed her, the Dulcinea del Toboso, of which she knew nothing.

He set out ended up at an inn, which he believed to be a castle. He asked the innkeeper, whom he assumed to be the lord, to dub him a knight. He spent the night holding vigil over his armor and became involved in a fight with muleteers who tried to remove his armor from a horse trough so that they could water their mules. The innkeeper then dubbed him a knight just to be rid of him, and he went on his way. Don Quixote, next, “freed” a young boy who was tied to a tree and beaten by his master by making his master swear on the chivalric code to treat the boy fairly. The boy’s beating continued. and Don Quixote had a to-do with traders from Toledo, who denounced Dulcinea as a falsehood and severely beat him only to leave him on the road. He was later found and returned to his home by a peasant.

After recovering, Don Quixote approached a neighbor, Sancho Panza, and enlisted him as his squire, bestowing him governorship of an island. The uneducated Sancho agreed, and the pair sneaked off in the early dawn. It is here that their series of famous adventures begin, starting with Don Quixote’s attack on windmills that he believed to be giants. The two next encountered a group of friars accompanying a lady in a carriage. They were cloaked, as was the lady, as protection from the hot climate and dust. Don Quixote thought the friars to be enchanters who held the lady captive. He knocked a friar from his horse, and was subsequently challenged by an armed Basque travelling with the company. As he had no shield, the Basque used a pillow to protect himself.

In the course of their travels, the two protagonists met innkeepers, prostitutes, goatherds, soldiers, priests, escaped convicts, and scorned lovers. These encounters were intensified by Don Quixote’s imagination into chivalrous quests. fgoes.Don Quixote’s tendency to intervene violently in matters which did not concern him, and his habit of not paying his debts, resulted in many privations, injuries, and humiliations with Sancho always getting the short straw. At the end Don Quixote was persuaded to return to his home village.

Now this tale popped into my mind whilefollowing the campaign of Mitt Romney. Only falsehoods are used to fortify this modern errant knight in his drift to the Republican nomination. For the nation’s well-being, I can only hope that ‘Don’ Romney returns to his village. Otherwise, this nation is destined to enter the fray against imagined enemies!

This is our daily open thread — speak up!

The Watering Hole: March 24 – Science vs. Myth

This is the start of a discussion that I started to put together on the physics of splitting a log.

This is how an engineer would start to describe the process of wood splitting:

The illustration below shows the effects of a wedge being driven into a log. This is merely meant as an illustration for the mathematics.

A Log-Splitting Wedge being Applied

First, the illustration will be simplified so it and the math will seem less complex.

Wedge Reduced to Basic Elements

We will use μ to represent the coefficient of friction along the vector lines XB and XA between the wood being split and the soft iron of the wedge itself. This works because that is the symbol used to represent that effect in science and engineering.

The mechanical advantage in this system is XF/AB, when friction is ignored which is how vector logic allows one to do since the other factors came be treated as separate vectors and the sum of all forces along a common direction can be used. We will use the line XY to define the vector of the sum of all forces since that is the common line along which the wedge is driven.

To find the effects of friction, we need to transpose the direction of frictional forces to vector XY. This actually poses a mechanical disadvantage as it takes away from the energy delivered by the sledge or hammer…

Now to the meat of the matter:

An ordinary fellow would merely say that the mechanical advantage would be equivalent to the the length of the wedge divided by its width at the top.

I had intended to present the exact solution to this problem, but I think I have said enough to describe the complexities that can be inserted into any problem.

These complexities have entered the political arena and it is the sheer complexity can be used to describe any problem with the public unable to see what is real.

Global warming is a case in point. One party can say it is not real because it still snows in the winter. The other party can merely ask John Q. voter to go out in March (In the northern hemisphere) and see whether he needs a parka. Still one side can use its observation to refute the other side’s. Evolution, Intelligent Design and Genesis can be used to explain why human beings exist in their present state.

Enough people believe that the Bible holds all truths and can never be refuted and science takes the other case, which, in turn, makes either argument unacceptable to the other group. Science occupies the back burner more often than not because it is difficult for the average savage to grasp.

To put everything into perspective, physicists are helping to design modern combustion engines. Up to about 1965, engineers were king. Now knowledge of physical principles have entered the process. As new fuel injection and chamber design have entered the design process, engineers are needed less than scientists. In the next graduation, engineers trained in the physical design of efficient combustion engines and carbonation will enter the fray. This is like what has happened in the design of integrated circuits.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to present your thoughts on any topic that comes to mind.

The Watering Hole: March 17 – Saint Patrick

On this day in 461 A.D., Saint Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, died at Saul, Downpatrick, Ireland.

Much of what is known about Patrick’s legendary life comes from the Confessio, which he authored. Born in Great Britain to a well-to-do Christian family, Patrick was captured and enslaved at age 16 by Irish raiders. He worked as a herder For the next six years in Ireland. Following a voice he heard in a dream he escaped, sailed to Britain and was reunited with his family.

Patrick seemed to hear the voices of Irishmen pleading with him to return to their country and walk among them once more. He studied for the priesthood and ultimately Patrick was ordained as a bishop. Arriving in Ireland in 433, he began preaching the Gospel and converted thousands of Irish and built churches around the country. After 40 years in Ireland Patrick died on March 17, 461 in Saul the site of his first church. As time passed, the Irish began to observe the day of Saint Patrick’s death as a religious holiday

Since then countless legends have grown up around Saint Patrick. For one, he is credited with driving the snakes out of Ireland.

This brings me to the point of why I started this post. If Saint Patrick drove the snakes from Ireland, why can’t he be resurrected and do the same with the GOP in America? Aren’t they equivalent to the snakes of Ireland?

Of course, Saint Patrick had a slight advantage – reptiles never entered the evolutionary record on the Irish land mass and had not crossed the water barrier from England.

We can always hope.

Oh,and lest I forget, Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

This is our Open Thread. It is your time to rant!

The Watering Hole: March 10 – Jean Calas

Jean Calas was a French merchant living in Toulouse, France, famous for having been the victim of a biased trial due to his being a Protestant. In France, he is a symbol of Christian religious intolerance. His sole sin was trying to mask the suicide of his son, Marc-Antoine, as a murder. He was charged with the murder and died on March 10, 1762 on the wheel. Voltaire was successful in exonerating Jean Calas (posthumously ) of all charges. His family was paid 36,000 Francs by the king in compensation.

Jean Calas tortured for nothing more than his religious beliefs

Religion was specifically excluded from government in the Constitution. What disturbs me is that the Republican Party is trying to foist religious values into American law. This can not be condoned for any reason.

Could religious dogma endanger the rights of Americans? The “War on Women” offers one step towards this slippery slope! I often wonder if any Republican actually has a mother.

This is our Open Thread. Please feel free to offer a counter argument. You can also spill your guts.

Food for thought:

To Kill an American
You probably missed this in the rush of news, but there was actually a report that someone in Pakistan had published in a newspaper, an offer of a reward to anyone who killed an American, any American.

So an Australian dentist wrote an editorial the following day to let everyone know what an American is . So they would know when they found one. (Good one, mate!!!!)

‘An American is English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish , Polish, Russian or Greek. An American may also be Canadian, Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, or Arab, or Pakistani or Afghan.

An American may also be a Comanche, Cherokee, Osage, Blackfoot, Navaho, Apache, Seminole or one of the many other tribes known as native Americans.

An American is Christian , or he could be Jewish, or Buddhist, or Muslim. In fact, there are more Muslims in America than in Afghanistan . The only difference is that in America they are free to worship as each of them chooses.

An American is also free to believe in no religion.. For that he will answer only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.

An American lives in the most prosperous land in the history of the world.
The root of that prosperity can be found in the Declaration of Independence , which recognizes the God given right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.

An American is generous.. Americans have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return.

When Afghanistan was over-run by the Soviet army 20 years ago, Americans came with arms and supplies to enable the people to win back their country!

As of the morning of September 11, Americans had given more than any other nation to the poor in Afghanistan …
The national symbol of America , The Statue of Liberty , welcomes your tired and your poor, the wretched refuse of your teeming shores, the homeless, tempest tossed. These in fact are the people who built America

Some of them were working in the Twin Towers the morning of September 11 , 2001 earning a better life for their families. It’s been told that the World Trade Center victims were from at least 30 different countries, cultures, and first languages, including those that aided and abetted the terrorists.
So you can try to kill an American if you must. Hitler did. So did General Tojo , and Stalin , and Mao Tse-Tung, and other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world.. But, in doing so you would just be killing yourself . Because Americans are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, is an American.

Tornadoes – 2011 and 2012

Has anyone noticed that the tornado season has started a bit early and more violently this year? Fundies, of course, will attribute this to an upswing in Solar activity. Somehow, there seems to be a message, here!. Someone is missing the point.

As a Floridian, I can’t wait for June and the start of the hurricane season, or will it be May?

Technology, greed and politics are getting at the point where the Earth is beginning to complain:


  • Weather Patterns have changed – More and earlier disasters have occurred with each passing year.
  • Winter and Summer temps are on the rise.
  • Tornadoes are hitting earlier than usual and 2012 seems to be headed for a banner year
  • Hurricane patterns are moving north.
  • Drought regions are becoming more prevalent in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
  • Levels of CO2 are increasing.
  • The amount of methane (CH4) from ‘fracking’ is equal to or greater than that recovered as fuel. CH4 is upscale from CO2 both of which are greenhouse gasses – That,s a double whammy!
  • Plant and animal extinctions, based on regional temperature increases are on the uptick.

The last item (Driven by its predecessors) is a primary marker when species divergences have a check point at either 6000 or a million years ago – the extinctions over the near industrial era have occurred in the past 600 years (woolly mammoth excluded) and there is an increase on extinctions as we get further into the industrial age. When will grain crops cease to exist? Could Canada and Canada become the bread basket of the World?

It’s almost at the point where the Koch clan need not be concerned about passing on their wealth. There will be no heirs. I’d rather that my granddaughter not have to suffer for the pleasures of the rich.

Think about it.