More Boeing 737 Max Musings

Quoting (Reuters) Ethiopian plane smoked and shuddered before deadly plunge, a witness said,

“It was a loud rattling sound. Like straining and shaking metal…”

This draws attention to one of  the engine fans. While the original jet engine produces all the forward thrust from a hot exhaust, modern high-bypass jet engines contain something resembling an airplane propeller, called the fan. Like a room fan, it moves cool air, both through the combustion chamber, and around it. You don’t see the resemblance to an airplane propeller, because the fan is hidden by a shroud.

Because the fan moves cool air, it can be made from a variety of materials. The traditional choice has been titanium. In the past 5 years, carbon fiber, with titanium facings, has been taking over, because it is lighter, and more resistant to bird strikes.

Bird strikes are simulated by firing a dead chicken into the fan at high speed. Most of the time, an engine withstands a bird strike with minor damage. Sometimes, it causes major damage. Over 60 years, thousands of bird strikes have provided a huge amount of experimental data, mostly with titanium fans.

Both titanium and carbon fiber are quirky materials. But carbon fiber is a composite of multiple substances. Without titanium facings, early carbon fiber fans disintegrated on bird strikes.

The combination of fiber and titanium is an even more complicated mix. While apparently stronger, the ways it can  fail may not have been completely anticipated. After all, it hasn’t been around for 60 years of bird strikes.

Now we add a complication. The engine in question is controlled by BAE’s FADEC-2 “Full Authority Digital Engine Control-2.”  If FADEC-2 realized an engine fan had a problem it should have shut it down. But FADEC may have had no programming for the particular case of a facing strip that was torn away from the fan, raking the shroud at high RPM (the noise.)

The mix becomes more lethal when the pilots, distracted by the pitch control problem, leave FADEC-2 to handle the engine by itself. They can’t be expected to kill the engine manually when they are fighting for control. When the  titanium facing is ingested further into the engine, the turbine blades are cut apart, causing an uncontained “explosion.”

Here two systems intended to enhance the safety margin over human control combine in an unanticipated way to create a lethal event.

With the enthusiasm about A.I., much more of this lurks in our future.

 

 

Boeing 737 Max Crashes

(CNN) Ethiopian Airlines crash is second disaster involving Boeing 737 MAX 8 in months.

This is a short explainer for readers who aren’t familiar with engineering culture. Besides all the equations, there actually is a culture. This is speculative, intended to help the reader better follow the accident investigation.

Edit: (Reuters) Ethiopian plane smoked and shuddered before deadly plunge. The sounds, smoke, fire, and small articles that trailed from the airplane before it crashed suggest an engine explosion, with containment failure, penetration of the fuselage, and damage to the hydraulics. The damage may have been too severe to save the plane, even without the pitch control problem.

Original post:

An airplane is a   a complex of “systems”. What happens when a system breaks is of great concern to the responsible engineer. The highest degree of design safety is called “fail safe.” There might be argument about what that is. When Sony designed the original 18650 lithium cell, they tried all sorts of things to make it catch fire. They hammered a nail through it. They crushed it. Nothing bad happened. Later, with the 18650 in wide use,  a pallet of such cells brought down UPS Airlines Flight 6.

The UPS crash is a story of the failure of fail-safe. But an airplane can never be fail safe. Like nuclear reactors and fast cars,  they contain too much energy to be made inherently safe. Instead, airplanes rely on redundancy, and what engineers call stability. Commercial jetliners, when operating normally, are described by pilots as easy to fly. The job of flying an airliner has been described as hours of boredom punctuated by occasional terror.

Airliners, by design, are “stable”, which means that the airplane can be trimmed to fly almost straight and level by itself. Here “stable” is actually a lie. The correct word is “controllable”. An airplane can also be designed to be unstable, which has many advantages. The only disadvantage is that it cannot be controlled directly by a human. Instead, the pilot manipulates the stick and rudder, or side-stick, telling a set of computers what he wants the airplane to do. This is called fly-by-wire.

Computer control of airplanes has so many advantages that even airliners, which are “stable”, use such systems. Airbus was the first to adopt fly-by-wire that would block a pilot from executing a command unsafe to the airplane. Boeing’s fly-by-wire is more permissive. Because airliners are “stable”, both brands can and do come with complete manual-control backups, should the computers lose their minds.

Key point: The computers in a fly-by-wire system are at least triple-redundant. Because the system has to work 100% all the time, with grave consequences of failure (even with manual backup!) an extraordinary engineering effort goes into reliability of the hardware and the software.

The 737-Max has one feature that is a slight step in the direction of unstable aircraft, almost all of which are jet fighters. To clear the wings, the larger engines were moved forwards. Moving the engines forward causes a tendency for the plane to pitch up, which risks a stall. But an airplane with a “tendency” is not a new problem. Lots of airplanes have a rough edge here or there.

Boeing decided to smooth around this with a system that would prevent the nose from pitching up. Key point: Because the 737-Max can fly just fine without the system, it was not made triple-redundant. It has been suggested it is  vulnerable to single point failure, the failure of a single part. The optional nature of this feature resulted in a lack of anticipation of what would happen not with the system turned on or off, but at the moment of failure.

Rubio, Johnson; Saudi crown prince has gone ‘full gangster’; Punishing the Tiger

(CNN) Saudi prince has gone ‘full gangster,’ says Rubio, as lawmakers decry kingdom’s abuses, and

(Reuters) U.S. senators say Saudi crown prince has gone ‘full gangster’. Quoting,

As the hearing continued, Republican Senator Marco Rubio said bin Salman had gone “full gangster,” an assertion repeated by another Republican, Senator Ron Johnson.

We need to talk about morality, man and animal. When a tiger escapes its cage and kills somebody, if it can be captured safely, it is usually returned to the cage.  A tiger can experience pain, but it cannot experience remorse. A dog may be euthanized, even though it may be capable of remorse.

We have standards for people, but they are similarly elastic. The sins of Prince Salman, if entirely true, are microscopic compared to Kim Jong-un, who  makes human rights concerns in Iran seem like a parking ticket. For the better part of the 20th century, the U.S. did business with corrupt and brutal dictators.

Refer to Saudi Arabia’s executions, 2014-2017, published prior to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. Capitol punishment for drug smuggling is not unique, but execution of 47 for  offenses deemed “terrorism”, which includes protest and other nonviolent acts, and is said to include juveniles, is  analogous to Khashoggi’s murder. Besides the almost-explicit conversations monitored by the CIA, this pattern probably figured in the conclusion of the CIA that MBS ordered the murder.

It’s important to bare the ugliness, to argue to work with it. The moral taint of Latin American puppets does not apply here. We did not create Saudi; Ibn Saud did. There is a tendency in the West to view places like Saudi as distorted versions of the West. It is not; Saudi is its own thing, in many ways a living fossil, because there never was an Arab Renaissance. In the entire Arab World, Saudi is the least changed, the least penetrated, because it was never colonized, and infrequently visited by empires. It is not a Western hybrid.

Before oil was discovered in 1938, there was nothing in the empty desert to interest conquerors. The western coast of the peninsula,  Hejaz, was part of the Ottoman Empire, but control never extended inland. This map, the Ottoman Empire in 1683, shows the empty gray that became Saudi Arabia, a place without a political history before 1902, when Ibn Saud began to conquer the tribes that roamed the sands. It took 30 years.

Saudi Arabia is a living fossil. To hold a fossil to our enlightened standards is like punishing the tiger. The cultural basis for remorse is relative. And in the West, we punish the guilty, but we absolve the insane. We do not punish collectively, so we look for the guilty. But in Saudi, the “guilty” ruler isn’t separate from  society. He is embedded in it.

The senators might want to punish Saudi on the moral level — akin to the punishing the tiger, or they might want to encourage change. Other faces have been mooted, which supposes a nonexistent level of influence, and the idea that they would be more humane. Perhaps we should respect the choice of King Salman, who pushed the elder brothers of MBS aside in favor of his youngest. In a country of old men, why this choice?

Remarkably, King Salman envisioned a modern future, and found only his youngest free of obligation to the old ways, and who could live long enough to see change through. The brutality results from fear of failure, which could result from a coup, assassination, or the activation of opposing alliances which are pretty active as it is.

Why would the ulema go along with a transformation that would destroy much of their power, replacing it with a civil society? Why would the royals, numbering in the thousands, go along with the redistribution of their oil-based subsidies for wider benefit? Why would terror sympathizers tolerate the dilution of Wahhabi culture that gives them refuge, inspiration, and money?

The above would prefer the facade of reform, prefer the petty tyrant to the effective one. Humanity is not a choice;  Saudi has no liberal wing.

Allegations of (Wikipedia) Saudi support for the 9/11 attack have some basis. The typical method is via foreign investments that launder money donated to radical Islamic charities. Some involved officials have been dismissed by MBS. That this occurs should not surprise; extremism is a natural extension of  Wahhabism. Dismissal is a bold, risky move for MBS, since extremists cannot be reliably excluded from the security apparatus.

So how does MBS stay alive?

  • The Arab answer to the above is to be a dictator, and compel cooperation with harsh punishment.
  • The primer for every dictator states that control begins with the illusion of it, and ends with the details.
  • In most cases, the transition to modernity is marked by rulers who leave questionable legacies, or leave in mild disgrace, but were stepping stones to liberalization.

This is the dreadful  pattern of the Middle East. Egypt ratified a constitution that disposed of political liberty. Turkey’s move was similar.  Yet remarkably, Ethiopia elected (NPR) Sahle-Work Zewde as the first woman president. In 40 years, from Marxism to democracy. This was the result of natural evolution, not sanctions.

Senators Rubio and Johnson should think about whether they are punishing the tiger, which cannot experience remorse, or attempting influence for the good. The U.S. has no ability to influence the secession, and if it did, the result would be more petty than good.

MBS has an alternative. In morals-speak, If you’re bad, you can always turn to Russia or China. These choice no longer comes with political subversion as a side dish, only generic corruption Saudi is well equipped to deal with.

 

 

India’s Failed Pakistan Air Raid; the Siliguri Corridor

(Reuters) Satellite images show madrasa buildings still standing at scene of Indian bombing.

It sounds like India had faulty intelligence, targeting, and execution. The bombs missed their target, which might have been a good thing. Although the madrassa is run by  (Aljazeera) terror group Jaish-e-Mohammad, childhood is still an age of innocence.

The buildings are still standing. This is the result of  a “hollow military”, one which appears to have all the elements, both material and organizational, but can’t actually fight effectively. On close inspection, a hollow military has faulty procurement, training, and execution.

The state of mind that allows this, a world of reduced belligerence, is a good thing. Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Europe’s military had hollowed out, posing negligible threat to Russia. European weapons were job programs. The Eurofighter, sports car of the sky, can’t carry the JDAM, the essential smart bomb, because sex sells, and JDAMs aren’t sexy.

Then Russia gave Europe a kick, causing panic in NATO, which responded  by filling the military holes. Russia’s appreciation of the peace dividend had been lacking. They aren’t enjoying it anymore. Now Russia is an impoverished “great power”, with plenty of room for “real men” to charge up the Syrian version of San Juan Hill. Russians should pay more attention to Norman Schwarzkopf, who said (Wikipedia, boldface mine),

… War is a profanity, it really is. It’s terrifying. Nobody is more anti-war than an intelligent person who’s been to war. Probably the most anti-war people I know are Army officers—but if we do have a war, I think it’s going to be limited in nature like Vietnam and Korea. Limited in scope. And when they get ready to send me again, I’m going to have to stop and ask myself, “is it worth it?” That’s a very dangerous place for the nation to be when your own army is going to stop and question.[55]

The tragedy of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, and China’s claim to  parts of the various China seas, is the loss of  hollow militaries. While continuing to trade raw materials and smartphone parts, trading partners are actually preparing for conflict, in the sense of creating militaries that can actually fight.

In the West, fear rules. With the hunger of Russia and China for new territory, might they try to grab  more? That they will ultimately lose much more, in the quality of their lives, than the value of their acquisitions is unappreciated.  Skipping the rationalizations of geopolitics, it could be  a mind-virus, something in the old reptilian brain, screaming “More, more….more!”

But what does this have to do with India?

One of the next “mores” for China is Doka La, located at the  junction of Bhutan, China, and India, claimed by both Bhutan and China, defended by India. The dispute acquires strategic importance with proximity to the 13 mile-wide Siliguri Corridor, a.k.a. the “Chicken’s Neck”, the sole connection of India with its northeastern territories. The Indian account (economictimes.indiatimes.com), Behind China’s Sikkim aggression, a plan to isolate Northeast from rest of India, acknowledges the boundary dispute and gives plausible motive. (Wikipedia) 2017 China–India border standoff differs in unresolved detail. China attempted to extend an existing road into  disputed territory, and India resisted.

The current threat has surgical precision, compared to the 1962 Sino-Indian War, when China overran large and widely separated areas in the northwest and northeast of India. Mysteriously, China withdrew almost entirely, back to their claimed line of control. There was wide agreement that Mao’s China was not expansionist; it had the inward focus of the Middle Kingdom. Perhaps Mao reasonably worried about 600 million Indians with a grudge.

Under Xi Jinping, China’s outward focus and expansionist drive is measured by the  the Nine-Dash Line. Is Xi Jinping’s China as respectful of the wrath of a billion Indians as Mao was? Or does he intend strategic pressure on the “Chicken’s Neck”, the only connection to India’s northeastern territories?

It’s hard to fight at 15,000 feet. The terrain is not tactically favorable to China, though China has a road, while India does not. But the incompetence of the nighttime JeM raid could tempt. That India’s force structure, which begins with reconnaissance and ends with release of a programmed smart munition , was incapable of the mission, is only half the shame. The other is that they didn’t know the limitation.

India used an Israeli precision guided bomb, the SPICE, which uses computer vision (EO) in the bomb itself to identify and lock onto the target. If it can’t see the target, it switches to  GPS as a backup. EO makes these bombs much more expensive than the JDAM. So you really want good images, or very good GPS coordinates. Since the SPICE has two guidance options, the Indian force lacked both:

  • Target locations, accurate to the yard, not the neighborhood.
  • Pictures of the targets usable by the SPICE EO vision tracker.

To cap it off, India lost no time  announcing a  bomb damage assessment of total success. When you do a rotten job, it’s handy to have someone as rotten to cover you. The rot might not be restricted to the team that executed.

The temptation increases if India and Pakistan fight. Somebody in China might be thinking  the main danger of fighting India at Doka La is to die laughing.

A recommended instructional video for the Indian Air Force, by noted strategist Jimmy Breslin, can be viewed here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

China Plans Space Power Station; Baloney!

(CNN) Space power plant and a mission to Mars: China’s new plans to conquer the final frontier. Quoting,

The completed solar farm would be placed in a geostationary orbit over a receiving station on Earth. It would transmit the energy — either in the form of a laser or as microwaves — to the Earth base, where it could be reconverted to electricity and distributed via the grid.

Power-in-space, this way, is nonsense. It has two possible purposes:

  • Motivate creation of spin-off technology. The 60’s “space race”, to “put a man on the moon” gave us nothing directly, yet it laid much of the foundation of the modern world.
  • Weaponization of space, with the ultimate satellite destroyer. The geosynchronous location, 22,300 miles above the surface of the earth, is not a good place for a power station, for reasons to be described.

Let’s do a napkin calculation.  The current cost per pound of payload, to reach that high orbit, is about $12000 per pound. It is that low because of the huge number of communication satellite launches, with similar form factors and weights. This is not so with an orbiting power station, where the payload is accompanied by complex robotic machinery. But costs will decrease, so, projecting a decrease of 100X, our WAG is $120/lb, or, roughly $260/kg.

The CNN article offers a size of two square kilometers. For our purpose, it is more useful to start with a raw solar array power. Let’s make it 4 billion watts, 4GW, about the size of a large nuclear power station with several  reactors. To convert this into mass, our benchmark is the newest, lightest solar array in space, the (TechBriefs) Flexible Array Concentrator Technology, developed by NASA. Furled on a carpet-like substrate, it unfurls to  produce (at most) 400 watts/kilogram.

4 gigawatts of this weighs  10 million kilograms, about 22 million pounds. The “boost cost”, to get it into orbit, is $2.6BN. To keep things simple, we set the cost of building all the parts to be boosted at $2.6BN as well.

Now comes power conversion, the equivalent of an electrical substation in space, to combine all the power generated by the array into a form usable by the lasers. Anything that handles as much energy as a nuke plant (and, as we shall see, wastes most of it) is going to be large and massive. It also requires cooling. This space-plant requires dissipating heat similar to the cooling tower of a nuke.

The latest thing in lasers, the fiber laser, is touted for efficiency. But while the fiber and the diode pumps are themselves efficient, the “wall-plug” efficiency is only about 30%. The rest goes up in heat, so the lasers also have to be massively cooled.

All that A/C  in space, 22,300 miles up. How do you do a service call? With a robot, which might not know what parts to bring.  Sears won’t write a contract.

So for the  plant required to get these watts back to earth, let’s put down $1.6BN to build, and $1.6BN to boost. With 30% efficiency, you have only 1.2GW of the original 4 headed towards earth, in the form of a laser beam.

Summing the costs:

  • $2.6B for the solar array.
  • $2.6B to boost it into orbit.
  • $1.6B to build the power converters and lasers.
  • $1.6B to boost the above.

Total: $8.4B, not including upkeep. (As John von Neumann said, there’s no point in being precise if we don’t know what we are talking about.)  How much electric do we get for that price, and for how long?

It doesn’t all get back to earth. How much is absorbed by the atmosphere depends upon the location of the earth plant, and the color of the lasers. See (Humboldt State University) Atmospheric Absorption & Transmission.

If China has the good sense to put their ground receiving station on the Tibetan plateau, 3 miles above sea level, (see insolation chart), 75% of the laser beam could make it through. Visible light works the best,  blue-green, but it’s also necessary to consider what color the solar cells on the ground prefer. Anyone who looks up would be instantly and permanently blinded. Alternatives to solar cells that can use safer near-infrared, such as a “heat engine” boiling-water-mechanical converter require that the laser beam be so concentrated it would fry eggs. That’s dangerous!

Let’s generously give the solar cells on the ground efficiency of 50%.  Then 37.5% makes it out of the ground plant. Or the original 4 billion watts, only 450 megawatts is left, which has to be converted to grid power, with another loss, and more transmission losses to get it from the sunny Tibetan Plateau to consumer regions. This takes it down to about 300 megawatts. You can get that out of a single gas turbine. But wait!, you say. Gas turbines are not green. Well, neither is boosting 35 million pounds into geosynchronous orbit.

How durable would this accomplishment be?  ( NASA) On-Orbit Performance Degradation of the International Space Station P6 Photovoltaic Arrays quotes give-or-take 0.3%/year. But the ISS is in low orbit, below the inner Van Allen radiation Belt.  China’s power station is a much higher geosynchronous orbit, beyond the protection of earth’s magnetic field, exposed to a much harsher  radiation environment. The radiation hazard is severe.

(ScienceDirect) Study of degradation of photovoltaic cells based on … suggests 10% over ten years. But  another Carrington Event would destroy the station. We almost had one in 2012.

Microwaves are not an alternative for this distance. They will not focus. In near earth orbit, a few hundred miles up, microwaves become feasible. In low orbit, he radiation hazard to the solar cells is much less. Boost and servicing costs are reasonable. China would probably say the geosynchronous orbit is chosen so that the orbiting station can have fixed aim at the ground station.

It’s preposterous. The whole thing is, except as cover for an industrial activity too vast to conceal. In smaller scale, it is a feasible development for war in space, capable of frying satellites very efficiently and quickly.

Things being what they are, how would you shoot it down?  Standard launch profiles reach geosynchronous orbit in about 5 1/4 hour,  but with low speed relative to the target.  Here time and speed are of the essence. But can we rely on automatic guidance?

That’s where the new Space Force comes in.

Where in Hell is Major Kong?

 

 

 

 

 

Otto Warmbier; When is it OK to Lie?

India Pakistan crisis

Pakistan has been unable to interdict prior terror attacks from bases inside Pakistan, of which the most notable was the Mumbai  massacre. Since  Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization, Pakistan has been hostage to the Kashmir issue not simply in a national sense, but from the control of an Islamic “infra-state”, continually reinforced by the human output of the madrassas.

On two occasions, Pakistan’s military has been able to reclaim areas from this infra-state, in the Swat Valley, and in the canyon suburbs of Karachi. But even though the ISI is said to favor better relations with India, the Kashmir attack could not be interdicted. Part of this is due to geography; the further out from the political center of the country (even 60 miles!), the lower the ratio of civil to Islamist influence. Pakistan is a very inconvenient country.

The  current prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan has been described as lacking political conviction. His political coalition is broad but not deep. The ability of Pakistan’s civil government to confront the Islamist infra-state has always been weak. But Khan’s stated goal, to revive the Pakistan of founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, implicitly reversing Zia-ul-Haq’s Islamization, makes him especially vulnerable.

The details of why the ISI could or would not close the terror bases, inspite of professed desire for better relations with India, are elusive to open source. This is, after all, the country that sheltered Osama Bin-Laden. Those responsible have never been identified.

The mysteries may be related.

 

No Deal Summit; Sometimes You Have to Walk

CNN has an interesting piece, What the pundits are getting wrong about the Trump-Kim summit. Since I think the writers also got some things wrong,  I thought of responding. But, too subtle. Now the news has handed me the kicker.  While  authors

The authors are professional diplomats. As well as credentials, the profession encompasses a system of thought, which is to say, they think like diplomats. Diplomacy in particular is vulnerable to systemic thought. A nation-state is the largest entity ruled by law. Attempting to bridge the lawless void that divides nations, diplomacy is a set of procedures without law. It tries to compensate for this lack with a very elaborate system. This is why diplomacy has often been a target of ridicule, and why, in the 20th century, foreign policy authority devolved away from the State Department, and to the inner counsels of the presidency.

Yes, sometimes you have to walk. This outcome was not anticipated by article authors because they are diplomats, and diplomacy is an aspirational profession. You aspire to make an agreement. The formal tools of diplomacy are used to facilitate, but the formalities do not characterize the personalities.

Diplomacy is aspirational; intelligence work is predictive. The two communities are as intellectually isolated as one could expect from this divergence. The direct  implication of the intelligence community’ for the Trump-Kim meeting could have been taken as “Don’t even try. Don’t waste your time.”

Though the intelligence community has been vindicated, the diplomats won’t recognize it as humiliation, because they did what their system requires,.  And Trump made no mistake.

Even though the result was highly predictable, does this mean that diplomacy should never be tried? Have a look at the triumphs of Henry Kissinger, which may have no equal in the 20th century. In both SALT and Middle East shuttle diplomacy, both sides wanted an agreement. Kissinger’s agency isolated the participants from personal friction, engendering thoughtful responses. We live with these benefits of diplomacy today.

There was a lot to argue with in the CNN article by . But I held my tongue, because the points of our disagreement were too subtle for impact. Now I can say it with a zinger:

They got too fancy too fast.

 

 

 

Turkey says Russian S-400 defense system purchase done deal

(Reuters) Turkey says Russian S-400 defense system purchase done deal. There is a purely technical reason why Turkey’s purchase should hard-block even limited acquisition of the F-35.

Stealth is both a system and a game. By operating both the F-35 and the S-400, the S-400 operator radar operators obtain unlimited test data on the stealth characteristics of the plane. The mass of data so acquired would exceed by a great margin normal exposure of the F-35 to adversary systems.

With this massive, artificial exposure, it could be possible to game the F-35, compromising its stealth defenses, destroying, for all the operators, billions of dollars of cumulative investment. Most of the stealth characteristics of the plane are in the geometry of the airframe. But the plane has other tricks as well, far too valuable to expose to Russian equipment.

The Turks could argue that they are trustworthy. But since the S-400 computers are Russian, they could  come with preinstalled, undetectable “malware” that eases transmission of F-35 data back to the Russians. It doesn’t have to be something as sneaky as a burst transmitter, although it’s interesting to consider how a data burst could be disguised in a radar pulse. It could be  as simple as  prepackaged data in a background process, preserved in unallocated memory for quick dump to a USB memory stick.

Rigorously considered, this is not a  foreign policy issue. It is a technical one, which mandates denial of the F-35 to Turkey.  Relations with Turkey cannot be allowed to intervene.

Let’s not spill these hard-won F-35 beans.

 

North Korea warns U.S. skeptics as Kim heads for Vietnam for summit with Trump

(Reuters) North Korea warns U.S. skeptics as Kim heads for Vietnam for summit with Trump. Quoting,

“If the present U.S. administration reads others’ faces, lending an ear to others, it may face the shattered dream of the improvement of the relations with the DPRK and world peace and miss the rare historic opportunity,”

Lend an ear? That’s from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the speech of  Marc Antony:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;

Golly, I didn’t know they read Shakespeare in North Korea. But it’s good advice! Pass it on:

Mr. President, DO NOT READ THIS BLOG.

Another way of putting it is  Groucho Marx’s letter of resignation to the Friars’ Club:

“I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.”

Put me down with Groucho. Now I must be going.

 

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