Saturday Night Science: Apparent Diurnal Variation in Background Radiation

Aware Electronics RM-80 sensorSince October 16th, 1998, I’ve run an Aware Electronics RM-80 radiation monitor pretty much continuously, connected to a serial port on a 1992 vintage 486/50 machine. The RM-80 uses a 7313 pancake Geiger-Müller tube. The tube is halogen quenched and has a minimum dead time of 30 µS, with a mica window which allows alpha particles to pass. The computer interface generates high voltage for the tube from the Data Terminal Ready and Request to Send pins of the serial port and toggles the state of the Ring Indicator line whenever a count is detected. The serial port can be programmed to interrupt on changes in the state of this signal, making it straightforward to implement radiation monitoring in software. Tube sensitivity, calibrated with Cesium-137 (137Cs), is 3.54 µR/hour per count per minute.

The second generation HotBits generator uses an RM-80 detector illuminated by a 5 microcurie 137Cs check source. I decided to attach the HotBits spare detector to a PC and let it run as a background radiation monitor, as much as anything to let the detector run for a while to guard against “infant mortality” in any of its components, should it have to take over for the in-service detector. Aware Electronics supplies the detector with a DOS driver program called AW-SRAD, which I used to log the number of counts per minute, logging the collected data to files in CSV format.... [Read More]


Che Done Me Wrong by the Blue Bellies

I know many of you know this song but I wish it would not be sung too often here. I know it was stuck at Number 503 on the charts seemingly forever but I don’t think it will get much higher. Yet i hopes it will.

I like the sound of a new group,The Rat-a-tats. They really Roxie. That producer Kelvin really knows how to get that Cowbell to Fear the Reaper. Top 10 all the way.... [Read More]


Another Basket of Deplorables, Persian style

Iran may be passing the point of no return, that tipping point where the totalitarian cabal loses critical mass. Even if the current impulse is pushed back, I have a sense that the invincibility is gone, the way the tea in Boston harbor removed it from George III.

Versailles lost it, the soviets lost it.... [Read More]


Molly’s Game: Especially Interesting if You are a Poker Player.

Molly’s Game (2017) is based on the memoir by Molly Bloom (2014). It is the true story, from her point of view. Principally photographed in Toronto, Canada, it is written and directed by Aaron Sorkin (56). He is an award-winning writer, of such things as A Few Good Men and The West Wing, and this is his directorial debut. It would appear that working with good directors has taught him a lot, as his direction of this film is competent and professional. I found his fast conversations as people were moving around, a little hard to follow at times. Perhaps if I knew more about Poker and the running of a Game, I would have found it easier.

Jessica Chastain (40) plays Molly Bloom with conviction. I wonder if the real Molly is always as serious as she is depicted. This is the story of a driven woman, highly intelligent and beautiful, but with no apparent sense of humour. She is an excellent business woman, in what could probably be called more of a man’s world. She even gets lightly beaten up by the Russian Mob, and survives. The FBI were almost too much for her, but she managed to get out of their clutches with much less damage than might have been expected. There doesn’t seem to be a lighter side to her character. This means that there is not a lighter side to the film.... [Read More]


Curmudgeon before Coffee

It seems the deep state is snarling and gnashing teeth as the traps get sprung. It looks like a number of key folks in DOJ and the FBI and I expect some in CIA and NSA are to be exposed and removed.

The Clinton machine rejected the olive branch Trump held out early on and kept the Trump probes going using the politicized agencies. Now they get the return fire. It seems Bill was the smart one.... [Read More]


Trump vs. Bannon

This has been a very interesting topic and I am curious where it goes. I don’t see it as “Anything New” but also as something distracting and not helpful in the grand scheme of things. But it does fit with what has worked for our President before and I have no reason to think it will alter his path or vision.

I saw this article at American Thinker and I do believe that this author (C. Edmund Wright) gets it. He finds a way to “thread the needle” on President Trump between the Nevers and the Always. I believe that most of us are in this same “middle”, with certainly a position as far away from the Nevers as possible. I like this …... [Read More]


TOTD 2018/1/5: Favorites Games & Toys from Your Childhood

I was thinking about this topic because my kids were home over Christmas, and even though they are in their mid-20s now, they broke out board games to play on our dining room table, late into the night.  They were none of the games I remember though! They played Settlers of Cataan, Phase 10 and King Domino.  Some that I remember from growing up in the 1960s are:

Fascination Pool – a plastic maze board that looked like a pool table – the picture above. You held it in your hands, released little balls from the center and tried to tip the board to get all the balls one by one into the color-corresponding pockets – but not let them roll into the wrong-color pocket.... [Read More]


Let’s get this party started

So we’re a sort of refugee camp – a happy one, to be sure. Full of grown ups.

I’d like to thank John Walker and the infamous Dime for gathering us all together. I am Irish and therefore not an optimist by nature, but I’ve never felt such hope and promise. And I am enjoying seeing so many people I’ve been missing.... [Read More]


I Know, You’d Never Even Think: Ratburger’s Got the Podcast Links

Here at Ratburger, the foremost site for civil discussion on the Internet, unencumbered by  adverts, pop-ups, glacial page loading times, and censors, we don’t (yet) have our own podcasts.  But we listen to them, from time to time.  And now, you can find all of your favourite podcasts right here, without frequenting legacy sites.

There’s a new drop-down on the Activity item on the main menu, “Podcasts”.  It displays a page (or pages, depending upon how many are shown), with links to the most recent two episodes of podcasts followed by Ratburger members.  When you click on the link, you’ll be taken to the site which hosts the podcast; each site may have its own interface to play, download, or otherwise consume its content.  Once you click, it’s on them, not on the rat on a bun.... [Read More]