More on Braiding Machines

When I was in high school I got an old singer sewing machine at the goodwill, managed to adjust it until it worked correctly again, and used it for light leather-work. Sewing machines and rope-making machines have a similar problem: you want to get the thread around the bobbin without moving it – which is a really complicated trick since (for the bobbin to be stable) there has to be some kind of supporting thing that holds the bobbin.

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A Knife Mounting

I’ve always loved knives and swords – since as long as I can remember. When I was a kid I wanted to forge samurai swords. It wasn’t until much, much later that I learned that some things are outside of your scope, unless you grow up in the right time and place (in which case, being a sword-smith is probably “meh” to you…)

The availability of modern tools and a better understanding of metallurgy has made it much easier to do laminated blades – though contrary to the legend of Bill Moran figuring out how to do “damascus” all over again – the process was never lost. (And there are multiple processes that go under the same name.) Anyhow, nowadays there are some really great, affordable, pieces made using powdered steels and CNC cutters – it’s possible to get what would be a legendary blade for under $100.

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Mecha Kumihimo

The other day I mentioned a steam-powered rope-braiding machine. And I got a lovely email from one of The Commentariat, with a link to a very cool Japanese rope-braiding artist who does amazing work. I immediately shared that link with all my rope-kinky friends, who are now all variously happy and envious.

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Because We Love Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech is not some magical thing: like all freedoms in politics, there’s got to be a justification for it. In the case of the US – on paper, at least – individual liberties are defined in terms of, “other than the things the state says you cannot do, you’re free.”  So, because the state has not legislated that I cannot dye my hair blue, I can dye my hair blue. Freedom of speech is specifically called out, though, as a positive freedom. It’s not that “because the state has not told you what you can’t talk about, you can talk about anything else” – it’s specifically stated:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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A Matter of Light

What is going on here? These two pictures were taken the same day, at more or less the same time. The only difference is that the second one was shot with a single light, and the first was shot with all the room lights on.

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Tactical Retroscoping

“If you take out the biggest mouth, everybody just withers away, so you concentrate on the ones you believe are your organizers,” he said. “Once you identify that person, you can run computer checks on them to see if they have a warrant out or any summons failures, then you can drag them in before they go out to speak or rile up the crowd, as long as you have reasonable cause to do so.” [guardian]

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