OPEN THREAD 20191218

Basically, all legal free speech is allowed. We will assist the authorities in dealing with illegal speech. You are each other’s moderators. Have fun. And don’t forget to MAGA at nuclear levels.

Citizen U


18 thoughts on “OPEN THREAD 20191218

  1. OK, then. Molybdenum.

    We can start with the basics: Chrome Molly was a British metal band from Leicester. They were originally active from 1982 to their breakup in 1991, producing four albums. The band reformed in 2009, releasing a new album in 2013 called, “We’re Only In It for the Babes” — oh, sorry, that should be “Gunpowder Diplomacy”.

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  2. Chrome-moly is a nickname for a variety of steels alloyed with chrome and molybdenum.

    As an aside, when you start working with metal and hanging around with machinists, there’s a bunch of things they conveniently never get around to telling you that you’re supposed to pick up through osmosis. One such thing is that hobbyists make metal things out of whatever scraps they have on hand — but pros specify the alloy. And there’s a big book of alloy specifications you can just reference by using the alloy number — sort of like the “joke club” joke. Here’s a nice overview: .

    So, a couple of popular chrome-moly alloys are 4130 and 4340 — which look like . Note that the strength figures for 4340 are almost exactly double the corresponding figures for 4130. Also note that, where moly is concerned, “a little dab’ll do ya” — both alloys contain less than 0.3% molybdenum — and, yet, that’s so important that it’s part of the name.

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      1. Some of the effects of metals in steel alloys come from permeating the entire chunk of steel, while other effects come from altering the preferred behavior of the underlying iron. When you have an alloy with 5-6% of X, X is getting mixed in; when you have an alloy with <1% of Y, Y isn't doing the work, the Iron is.

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    1. Okay…..the “joke club” joke…..

      A guy’s out socializing at a bar, when everyone says that they’re going across the street to the 7:00 meeting of the Joke Club and the bar starts clearing out. He’d been talking football with some guy and asked him, “what the heck?” and the guy explained that there was a club, open to all, where people stood up and told jokes. “You should come, it’s great fun to have a laugh.”

      So he goes across with his acquaintance and enters a large hall with a stage at the end. It’s a jovial crowd, and when 7:00 rolls around, an MC welcomes everyone and starts the official club meeting. He looks around and asks if any members have any jokes, then selects one of the raised hands, then another, then another. The selected members line up on the stairs to the stage.

      The first member selected walks to the microphone, and in a very affected pseudo-English pinched-nose whiny accent says, “One Thousand, Six Hundred, and Thirty…….”, before squeaking out an excited “Three!” The crowd goes nuts as he walks to the other side of the stage and takes the stairs down to the floor. People are laughing so hard that they’re losing track of their glasses and tears are rolling down their faces.

      Our protagonist is just blinking.

      The second member selected shuffles up to the microphone and says — in a way that seems like he’s not particularly paying attention to what he’s saying — “Twenty-two, Fourteen”. This gets a mellower response, with some slow smiles and quite a few “heh”‘s, but is still very well received. Our guy’s football buddy explains in a whisper, “look, this club has been meeting for years and years, and some people have been coming here for decades — and, frankly, there are only so many jokes in the English language. So a while back, the club created a giant compendium of all the jokes…..and, now, members just refer to them by number.”

      By this time, the stage was occupied by the tenth member, and there was still quite a line, so our hero naturally goes to get a beer. When he gets back to his football friend to drink it, maybe 30 members have done their bit — sometimes spitting the numbers out intensely, sometimes musing the numbers, sometimes chanting the numbers with rhythm, sometimes wrenching the numbers from the heart in their chests…..and all are well received with great applause. He watches the last twelve members go onstage as he drinks his beer. “Now what?” he wonders.

      And the MC comes back to the front of the stage and says, “……and, now, we invite all of our guests to come forward and tell us a joke as payment for admission to our august company. Can all of our guests be identified?” When his buddy is clearly pointing at him, he gulps the rest of his beer and strides toward the Stairs of Doom. He is number six in a total of nine sacrifices.

      The first guest up and perkily says, “One thousand, eighteen!” and does a little flourish like, “Ta-da!” He gets about one half the laughs and two-thirds the applause of an average member, but takes it as a victory as he leaves the stage. The next guest goes, “Twenty-Two, Twenty-Two……amirite?!?!?” and gets major applause and some whistles. Third guest gets in front of the microphone, looks cross-eyed like he’s trying to remember times tables, and recites, “sixteen minus four is twelve; sixteen plus four is twenty” and gets polite applause. Fourth guest looks lost and twitchy, and says, “one thousand, no — two thousand, four hundred — no, one thousand again, and it’s THREE hundred…..fifty-eight” — and gets a roar from the audience and a standing ovation. Fifth guest strides up to the microphone and growls, “four-hundred-thirty-eight” into it, and gets good crowd reaction.

      And then it’s our guy’s turn. With a given roster of jokes, he figures that his safest bet is the Bob Newhart delivery — this is just how it is. So he walks up to the microphone, mentally envisioning himself in a grey flannel suit, and says, “eight hundred thirty four”.

      Which is received with DEAD. SILENCE. After a few heartbeats, he moves away from the mike and goes down the stairs and makes his way back to his spot on the floor. His face is flushed and his ears are ringing as the last guests are applauded and cheered. When he gets back to his football buddy he asks, “what, is joke 834 a dud?” And the reply is, “no, 834 is perfectly funny — I’ve told it a time or two myself……it’s just you didn’t tell it right.”

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      1. That punch line is WEIRDLY profound and WEIRDLY unfunny, too, in a weirdly meta way.

        Which is to say, one of the most highly appreciated jokes I’ve ever heard, and yet it’s not even a GROANER!!! 😀


  3. Current annual world production of molybdenum is about 250,000 tonnes. The two biggest suppliers are China (94,000 t) and the US (64,000 t). Molybdenum is traded on the London Metals Exchange (LME), and is currently running about $9.25/pound. There were physical settlement contracts up until March of this year (“get your semi out to such-and-such warehouse and pick up the molybdenum you just bought….”). About 86% of worldwide supply is used in metallurgy — with most of the rest in chemicals.

    And, then, some is used in fertilizer for cauliflower — possibly contributing to its mutant appearance.

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  4. Chrome Molly’s most recent album is 2017’s “Hoodoo Voodoo”. During the band’s 18-year hiatus, they occasionally played as “Von Halen” — a Van Halen tribute band.

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  5. Molybdenum is a very important part of many important organic processes. It is, for instance, in most of the enzymes that bacteria can use to crack nitrogen gas apart [nitrogen gas is N2, and is quite happy to remain N2. In order to use it for other purposes, however, it needs to be NH3 (ammonia). Enzymes called nitrogenases do this — and most have molybdenum at their heart (although vanadium is used a couple of times and so is iron).]

    It is an essential micronutrient in people and helps to purge sulfites and move xanthine to uric acid (which can then be removed by the kidneys).

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  6. Another one of those machinist things that comes up is they’ll say, “you take a rod of HSS….” Notice that all that spec’d stuff just went right out the window. Well, that’s because HSS, or High Speed Steel, is used to make tools with — and it isn’t the tool that’s important, it’s what you’re producing. So, there are HSS drill bits, and HSS lathe bits, and HSS boring bars and HSS end mills…..

    The original HSS was “Mushet Steel” in 1868. It was 2% carbon, 2.5% manganese, and 7% tungsten. People banged around with various flavors until AISI M1, the first HSS containing molybdenum, came around in the 1930s. With materials shortages during WWII, people had to get really creative with tooling — and today, M2 is the most common material for HSS. That’s 0.85% C; 4% Cr; 5% of the mighty Mo; 6% of W; and 2% V.

    And, seriously, that stuff is everywhere. Part of being even a hobby machinist is taking a chunk of HSS and making a lathe bit out of it Typically the thing is shaped on a grinder, then sometimes heat-treated. One fun method of heat-treating that I’m looking forward to when I have my shop in NC is taking a metal bucket with a lid and lining the bottom and sides with bricks. You then collect enough used motor oil to cover the bricks and store it with the lid. When you want to heat-treat a small metal object, use a regular propane blowtorch to heat it to a low glow (if the object is magnetic at room temperature, you can check to see if it’s ready by seeing if a magnet still sticks). Then drop the object in the bucket (if you lower it slowly, it can catch fire). Fish it out in a while. It’ll have a nice black finish…..sort of like commercial drill bits.

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  7. I really wish that industrial usage of Molybdenum Trioxide (MoO3) had something to do with cows…..but, instead, it serves as an adhesive between metals and enamels.

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    1. I’ll be perfectly frank — I start with the wikipedia entry for the element, then riff off of that. The thing is, the more you know the more you see.

      I usually leave out a good portion of what’s in the wikipedia entry because it’s boring. But I can drill-down into things where I have some personal experience in the real world. And, of course, there’s some snarky bits and purely economic factors. I’m looking to be something different than a word-for-word restatement of wikipedia.

      Which, BTW, is why I punted niobium. Wikipedia had a fine article and I had nuffin’.

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  8. Moly-be-damned, as some miners call it.

    Remember the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he bites into the aluminum carrot and then pronounces “aluminum” without about six extra syllables? It should have been a molybdenum carrot; he could have really butchered that one.

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