Automated recipe fraud – but why?

Every now and then, I do a search to see if someone has come up with a home method to make wafer sheets, which are tricky even for commercial bakeries, where heavy steel plates, high pressure, and steam are integral to the process. Because their manufacture is so specialised, I don’t hold my breath for a home method to appear, but hey, people are inventive, so I still check.

This time, I found a site that claims you can do it, and easily at that. Have a gander at this link:

Unbelievably Easy and Fresh Wafer Sheets in a 5 Step Model

“Huh”, I thought. However, right from the start, it all went wrong. At the top, “Health Benefit & Recipes”? Then “a 5 Step Model”, followed by a picture of waffles? What gives? Then there are completely unnecessary and obviously cut-and-paste boxes with large photos and lengthy descriptions explaining what butter and sugar are, for what must produce eight or nine feet of paper if you were to print this ‘recipe’. All the photos in that article are lifted from other sites, and the ingredients are bizarre. There’s no sugar or butter or wet eggs in wafers. To quote myself in 2012, “A basic wafer manufacturer recipe would be along the lines of 200g flour, 280g water, 1g bicarb (baking soda), 1g salt, and 1g vegetable oil, though some add things like dried milk, dried egg yolk, and/or corn starch.” My left eyebrow was a good foot above my forehead by this point, but little did I suspect the hilarity to follow.

For the coup de grace, go down the bottom of that page, where it explains how to roll out the dough and bake the sheets – along with a very large photo of an oven display showing 400F just to make sure you don’t get that part wrong. Now just look at that result at the bottom – why, it’s just like a commercially available wafer sheet. Precisely so, in fact. Bloody genius!

Ridiculous and transparently fraudulent and almost certainly spit out by a not-terribly-bright algorithm under not-so-close human supervision, sure, but what on Earth is the point of cobbling together this fake recipe? I’m still scratching my head.

Really, BBC News? Really?

The pair have a storied bromance, which began when Mr Trudeau visited the White House for a state dinner last year.

To quote Mad magazine: Blech. Ptui. Maybe that sentence above is only in the Americas variant of this BBC News story, maybe not. In any case, I remember fondly when the phrase ‘BBC News article’ meant a certain no-nonsense standard could be expected, that you’d never wince or grimace or roll your eyes at awful writing. That phrase means less than squat now that they so frequently exude the same sort of pandering drivel as just about every other news organisation. “C’mon, let’s get a little SEO boost with ‘bromance’!” What a shame.

New digs

We moved our offices into a new building a couple towns away this week, and I ended up with a substantially larger office – “All the more to decorate” thought I, rubbing my hands. A gallery of my new digs is below. I haven’t decided yet how to fill out one wall, but the other walls are pretty much as I want them. I still see trees and greenery out my window (two windows, actually), thank goodness, and there are wild turkeys at the new place, too.

In the process, I finally got around to having my William Phillips “Clipper at the Gate” limited print framed at this little shop, and it came out pretty spiffy, with the frame and matting matched to the bluish silver of the aircraft, the deep blue of the water, and the red of the Golden Gate Bridge (actually called International orange) and the wing stripes. The aircraft is the Boeing B-314 flying boat, in this case the Pan American Airways California Clipper, NC-18602, which made regular runs between San Francisco and Hawaii – a nineteen-hour leg – before continuing to farther destinations.

Only twelve B-314s were produced by Boeing, all for Pan Am, but it was – and still is – considered the acme of flying boat technology. The initial six had a range of 3,500 miles with fuel capacity of 4,200 gallons and the second group of six could travel 5,200 miles with 5,400 gallons, both variants far exceeding the range of other aircraft of the day. Travel on the clippers was strictly deluxe, with ticket prices comparable to Concorde’s and meals catered by top-notch hotels.

The B-314 model on my desk, in the same 1:200 scale as the B-17 and B-747, is also of NC-18602. The “Fly to South Sea Isles” poster is a high quality limited edition reproduction of a 1930s Pan Am poster that was made about twenty years ago. An original copy of the 1938 George Lawler poster – not the original painting, just a poster – recently sold for US$20,000 at auction, where the listing read:

One of the most iconic and desirable of all the early Pan Am flying boat posters, this image of the Boeing 314 Flying Clipper landing in a tropical lagoon captured, and continues to capture, the imagination of travelers. The location shown on the poster is an imaginary composite of several renowned bays throughout the South Pacific. It has been speculated that the view is Tahiti, Pago Pago and/or Diamond Head, however, the physical characteristics depicted do not coincide with the actual geography of any of these islands. Lawler most likely worked from photographs to derive a fantasy collage of a location infused with realistic details from various islands. It is rare to find this poster with text. We have found only two other examples at auction.

The tail end of the gallery shows in detail some of the photos and items on display. I had 16×20 prints made of the three high resolution Apollo photographs – done beautifully by Shutterfly and Snapfish, I’ll add. Of the three drawings of mine on the wall, just one, the woman holding a newborn Bengal kitten, is my original pencil drawing – the other two are from high resolution scans I made before presenting the original drawings to their subjects.

Click on any image to enter the gallery, and from there you can view a 1920-wide version of any photo by clicking this at the lower right (you may need to scroll down to see it):


NASA decides not to murder astronauts

I missed this good news a couple weeks ago: After three months of study, NASA has rejected the utterly idiotic idea of attempting to put astronauts around the moon on the very first test flight of the Space Launch System. The New York Times story on their decision is here.

Now who’s going to put their foot down and say “No” to Mr. Musk’s plan to off a couple of billionaire tourists?

When I was eight, I saw 2001: A Space Odyssey during its Boston premiere on a huge, bowed Cinerama screen. It was April 1968, eight months before Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders flew Apollo 8 around the moon at Christmas and fourteen months before we landed. What dreams I had! I took this photo just now of the 2001 insert style poster – the paintings by Robert McCall – that’s on the wall just behind me. Sometimes I look at it and sigh a little.

“Monitor altitude and distance? Surely you jest.”

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has released its final report on the Air Canada, um, pre-runway excursion in Halifax two years ago. The fifteen findings are not surprising. They start with the three below and get only a bit more depressing from there. It’s disconcerting to read phrases such as “the flight crew did not monitor the aircraft’s altitude and distance…”, but only because that’s a flight crew’s actual job.

3.0 Findings
3.1 Findings as to causes and contributing factors

1. Air Canada’s standard operating procedure (SOP) and practice when flying in flight path angle guidance mode was that, once the aircraft was past the final approach fix, the flight crews were not required to monitor the aircraft’s altitude and distance from the threshold or to make any adjustments to the flight path angle. This practice was not in accordance with the flight crew operating manuals of Air Canada or Airbus.
2. As per Air Canada’s practice, once the flight path angle was selected and the aircraft began to descend, the flight crew did not monitor the altitude and distance from the threshold, nor did they make any adjustments to the flight path angle.
3. The flight crew did not notice that the aircraft had drifted below and diverged from the planned vertical descent angle flight profile, nor were they aware that the aircraft had crossed the minimum descent altitude further back from the threshold.

It is at least good to see “Collision with terrain” right there on the cover of the report and the “Damage to aircraft” section’s perfectly succinct “The aircraft was destroyed.” Honesty is the best policy…even if it is only at the investigating agency.

Did not buff out

“Now let ‘er go, you got a good aim.”

I followed W.C. Fields’s advice to his niece in the clip above just now before sending the email quoted below to customer service at a site. There’s a new trend of harassing people via email to buy items they’ve looked at in the last twenty-four hours, no doubt the product of some fevered MBA’s gin-soaked nightmares. To date, I’ve had three sites start doing this over the last several months. One of them is eBay, but I believe I found their account setting to shut these off. The site I wrote to has no such setting; in fact, I opted out of all emails from them many moons ago and verified that’s still set.

Can you tell me how to opt out of the emails haranguing me to buy items that I viewed on your site within the last 24 hours? These automated emails started just a few months ago and occur even when I’m not logged in, thanks to cookies I allow you to create on my system because I’m a registered user.

I do not wish to receive emails simply because I looked at an item, because they’re intrusive and, frankly, annoying to such a high degree that I can only compare them to a car salesman following me out of his lot and knocking on my door several hours later to ask why I didn’t buy anything. If they’re not curtailed I’ll be compelled to visit any competitor’s site rather than yours when I want to look at something.

I see no account setting that allows me to stop these emails from being auto-generated. Can you help? Thank you for your assistance in resolving this matter.

Had I not counted to ten before writing the above, I feel certain I would have included the phrase chuckleheaded Goddamned emails. A cooler head has prevailed, but I retain the satisfaction of having typed that anyway.

GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper

Thirty-six hours of lightning in the severe storms over the Eastern US a week ago, captured by the new GOES-16 NOAA satellite, which launched last November. It was known as GOES-R before launch.

Summarizing the satellite’s capabilities:

GOES-R will scan the skies five times faster than today’s GOES spacecraft, with four times greater image resolution and three times the spectral channels. It will provide high-resolution, rapid-refresh satellite imagery as often as every 30 seconds, allowing for a more detailed look at a storm to determine whether it is growing or decaying.

This image demonstrates the vast increase in resolution from GOES-13 (r) to GOES-16 (l). It’s 4572 x 2252 and 7.3MB:

Click for a much larger version

Hey, I can nearly see my house from here in this medium resolution image of the Northeast US taken in January:

Click for a larger version

“Adam and Eve off the raft, sweep the kitchen!”

I was thinking this morning of stepping out to try a diner that’s down the road and quickly questioned that idea as possibly a bit rash: “But why?” They seem to have mixed reviews, so there’s a good possibility that I make better versions of their breakfast fare, and I’ll wager their eggs weren’t laid approximately Wednesday like mine. Plus, a month ago, I finally got around to buying a few of the true diner plates I was eyeing some years back – and I’m talking about real diner plates, 13″ ovals weighing 2½ pounds each – so now I even have the proper ambience. To wit:

Click for a larger version – but maybe you should eat something first

The title – or something like that, anyway – is diner lingo for corned beef hash (sweep the kitchen) with poached eggs (Adam and Eve) on the hash, not the toast (raft).