Sorry Felix

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Felix Baumgartner’s World Record was busted today. Felix had two years as record holder but Alan now holds the crown.

From the New York Times:

Parachutist’s Record Fall: Over 25 Miles in 15 Minutes
A well-known computer scientist parachuted from a balloon near the top of the stratosphere on Friday, falling faster than the speed of sound and breaking the world altitude record set just two years ago.

The jump was made by Alan Eustace, 57, a senior vice president of Google. At dawn he was lifted from an abandoned runway at the airport here by a balloon filled with 35,000 cubic feet of helium.

For a little over two hours, the balloon ascended at speeds up to 1,600 feet per minute to an altitude of more than 25 miles. Mr. Eustace dangled underneath in a specially designed spacesuit with an elaborate life-support system. He returned to earth just 15 minutes after starting his fall.

“It was amazing,” he said. “It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”

Mr. Eustace cut himself loose from the balloon with the aid of a small explosive device and plummeted toward the earth at speeds that peaked at 822 miles per hour, setting off a small sonic boom heard by people on the ground.

And Mr. Eustace is a class act:

Mr. Eustace was carried aloft without the aid of the sophisticated capsule used by Mr. Baumgartner or millions of dollars in sponsorship money. Instead, Mr. Eustace planned his jump in secrecy, working for almost three years with a small group of technologists skilled in spacesuit design, life-support systems, and parachute and balloon technology.

He carried modest GoPro cameras aloft, connected to his ground-control center by an off-the-shelf radio.

Very cool - looking forward to the videos - there is just this little teaser online for now:

Ambition

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Just wow!

Hillary on trickle-down economics:

Trickle-down economics is the basis for small business growth. Without it, we are in the economic doldrums.

An excerpt from Bryan Preston at PJ Media:

Politico plays this quote as a Hillary vs. Elizabeth Warren thing, which it undoubtedly is. Hillary spends a lot of time in the story driving a knife in Warren’s back while smiling that smile of hers the whole time.

But it tells us so much about Hillary Clinton.

“Don’t let anybody tell you that raising the minimum wage will kill jobs,” Clinton said. “They always say that.”

“They” being the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, which predicts that raising the minimum wage could destroy half a million jobs. Aren’t “they” horrible?

“I’ve been through that. My husband gave working families a raise in the 1990s,” Clinton said, saying she herself voted for raising the minimum wage when she served as a senator from New York. “Don’t let anybody tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs.”

Utterly clueless...

AR12192 sends some lovin' our way

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I had written about sunspot AR12192 yesterday.

From Watts Up With That:

Massive X class flare erupts from the sunspot 2192
As we previously mentioned on WUWT, the Sunspot 2192 which is as large as Jupiter had the potential of hurling large solar flares toward Earth. According to NASA’s spaceweather.com “Giant sunspot AR2192 has a ‘beta-gamma-delta’ magnetic field that harbors energy for strong explosions. NOAA forecasters estimate an 85% chance of M-class flares and a 45% chance of X-flares on Oct. 24th. If an explosion does occur, it will be geoeffective because the sunspot is directly facing Earth.”

It has just released what appears to be an x-class flare, possibly an X3.

I'll keep posting on this as data comes in. We could have some spectacular aurora as well as a host of electrical problems.

Here is the X-Ray flux as measured by the GOES 15 satellite:

20141024-Xray_1m.gif

Solidly in the X class - X3 or so. If there is an earthbound CME, this will rattle things a bit...

Rot at the top - Valerie Jarrett

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Valerie Jarrett? A longtime friend of the Obama's from Chicago and his senior adviser. i.e. - the person who is really running this nation.

From the ever excellent Judicial Watch:

Valerie Jarrett Key Player in Fast and Furious Cover-Up After Holder Lied to Congress
President Obama’s trusted senior advisor, Valerie Jarrett, was a key player in the effort to cover up that Attorney General Eric Holder lied to Congress about the Fast and Furious scandal, according to public records obtained by Judicial Watch.

The information is part of a Department of Justice (DOJ) “Vaughn index” detailing records about the gun-running operation known as Fast and Furious. JW had to sue the agency for the records after the Obama administration failed to provide them under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). A federal court ordered the DOJ to provide the records over the agency’s objections. Yesterday JW reported on the broad information in the records, including that Obama asserted executive privilege for Holder’s wife as part of the administration’s efforts to cover up the scandal.

Practically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco Firearms and Explosives (ATF) ran the once-secret program that allowed guns from the U.S. to be smuggled into Mexico so they could eventually be traced to drug cartels. Instead, federal law enforcement officers lost track of hundreds of weapons which have been used in an unknown number of crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent in Arizona.

The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sheryl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documents showing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010. The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.

This directly contradicted Holder’s May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of “senior forensics advisor” at DOJ.

The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, “re: personnel issues.” Another, also from Jarrett, reads, “outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.” Unfortunately, the index is vague and that’s all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.

Business as usual in the Obama White House 

A little too close to home

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Another sick kid looking for fame - from the Everett Herald:

Gunfire erupts at Marysville Pilchuck High School
Gunfire erupted in the cafeteria at Marysville Pilchuck High School on Friday morning, and police say the suspected shooter, a student, is dead.

At least five people were rushed to area hospitals. Providence Regional Medical Center Everett had received four patients, a spokeswoman said. There was no immediate confirmed information on their ages, but hospital officials said three patients were in very critical condition, with two undergoing surgery.

In addition, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle was expecting to receive a patient from the incident, officials said. That patient was sent initially to Providence but has less-severe injuries.

I hope that they do not release the a**holes name. It has been seen again and again that these sickos are looking for some kind of twisted infamy. Let him rot in obscurity.

Back to the cold war again - a two-fer

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First - from The Washington Times:

U.S., allies scramble jets almost daily to repel Russian incursions
Russian military provocations have increased so much over the seven months since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine that Washington and its allies are scrambling defense assets on a nearly daily basis in response to air, sea and land incursions by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

Not only is Moscow continuing to foment unrest in Eastern Ukraine, U.S. officials and regional security experts say Russian fighter jets are testing U.S. reaction times over Alaska and Japan’s ability to scramble planes over its northern islands — all while haunting Sweden’s navy and antagonizing Estonia’s tiny national security force.

The White House months ago leveled economic sanctions on several Russian businesses and political players, and recent weeks have seen President Obama intensify his rhetoric toward Moscow. But many in Washington’s national security community say the response is simply not firm enough and that, as a result, Mr. Putin actually feels emboldened to push the envelope — Cold War-style.

If Obama had any balls, Putin would not be doing this.

Second - from Yahoo/Reuters:

Putin accuses United States of damaging world order
Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Friday of endangering global security by imposing a "unilateral diktat" on the rest of the world and shifted blame for the Ukraine crisis onto the West.

In a 40-minute diatribe against the West that was reminiscent of the Cold War and underlined the depth of the rift between Moscow and the West, Putin also denied trying to rebuild the Soviet empire at the expense of Russia's neighbors.

"We did not start this," Putin told an informal group of experts on Russia that includes many Western specialists critical of him, warning that Washington was trying to "remake the whole world" based on its own interests.

"Statements that Russia is trying to reinstate some sort of empire, that it is encroaching on the sovereignty of its neighbors, are groundless," the former KGB spy declared in a speech delivered standing at a podium, without a smile, in a ski resort in mountains above the Black Sea city of Sochi.

We need to get some adults in the room sooner not later...

Knifemaking

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Gorgeous ten minute video of Argentinian knife maker Guillermo Mendoza forging a Damascus steel blade from meteorite iron

Guillermo is represented by Artisanal Knives

Voting in the upcoming mid-terms

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Bill Whittle hits it out of the park:

Great collection of PDF pages outlining basic music theory

All 50 combined into one file available here

Various merch available here

New in medical technology

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Very cool - from nanowerk:

New blood test works in real-time, simply by shining a light through the skin
Blood tests convey vital medical information, but the sight of a needle often causes anxiety and results take time. A new device developed by a team of researchers in Israel, however, can reveal much the same information as a traditional blood test in real-time, simply by shining a light through the skin. This optical instrument, no bigger than a breadbox, is able to provide high-resolution images of blood coursing through our veins without the need for harsh and short-lived fluorescent dyes.

"We have invented a new optical microscope that can see individual blood cells as they flow inside our body," says Lior Golan, a graduate student in the biomedical engineering department at the Israel Institute of Technology, or Technion, and one of the authors on a paper describing the device that is published today in the Optical Society's (OSA) open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express ("Noninvasive imaging of flowing blood cells using label-free spectrally encoded flow cytometry").

By eliminating a long wait-time for blood test results, the new microscope might help spotlight warning signs, like high white blood cell count, before a patient develops severe medical problems. The portability of the device could also enable doctors in rural areas without easy access to medical labs to screen large populations for common blood disorders, Golan notes.

More faster please!

 

From her website:

3D printed record
In order to explore the current limits of 3D printing technology, I've created a technique for converting digital audio files into 3D-printable, 33rpm records and printed a few prototypes that play on ordinary turntables. Though the audio quality is low the audio output is still easily recognizable, the records have a sampling rate of 11kHz (a quarter of typical mp3 audio) and 5-6 bit resolution (less than one thousandth of typical 16 bit resolution). These records were printed on an Objet Connex500 resin printer to a precision of 600dpi with 16 micron z axis resolution. The 3D modeling in this project was far too complex to do by hand, so I wrote a program to do this conversion automatically. It works by importing raw audio data, performing some calculations to generate the geometry of a 12" record, and eventually exporting this geometry straight to a 3D printable file format. Most of the heavy lifting is done by Processing

I can see a real use for this once the technology improves a bit.

First - from Reuters:

GM posts higher-than-expected profit on strong North American demand
General Motors Co. on Thursday reported a higher-than-expected profit in the third quarter on strong demand for its redesigned full-size pickup trucks in North America.

"Clearly, high transaction prices - the new trucks and SUVs are more profitable than the ones they replace - that certainly helps," GM Chief Financial Officer Chuck Stevens said at the company's Detroit headquarters.

Second - from CNN

GM's $1.3 billion recall cost wipes out profit
General Motors' recall crisis virtually wiped out its profit for the first three months of the year, as it said Thursday that the cost of repairing millions of vehicles would come to $1.3 billion.

The cost of the recall and some other accounting charges left the company with a profit of only $108 million in the quarter.

Depends on how you cook the books. Really happy with my Ford - glad I made the change...

Earlier today, I had posted about a possible Ebola case in New York City.

The patient just tested positive - from FOX News:

Patient at New York City hospital tests positive for Ebola, reports say
A doctor who treated Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus in New York City, according to multiple reports.

A health care worker who recently returned to the United States from West Africa is being tested at a New York City hospital for possible Ebola, health officials said Thursday.

The unidentified doctor was working with Doctors Without Borders and returned from one of the three West African countries afflicted with the disease within the past 21 days. Officials were contacted after he reported a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, according to a statement from the commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

And it starts... What is Obama's Ebola Czar going to do now?

This is a bit esoteric but worth spreading around. There is a part used for linking USB ports to some pieces of electronics. I have a bunch of these for my ham radios, a scanner, a piece of music equipment and some single-board computer kits.

The company is Future Technology Devices International and the device number is FT232 (PDF). Because it is widely used, it is widely counterfeited. FTDI found a way to 'brick' the counterfeit units and persuaded Microsoft to roll this updated driver into their usual Windows Update. Needless to say, this renders the counterfeit device useless.

FTDI is doing nothing to harm the counterfeiters and doing everything to hurt the end user. There is a way to un-brick the device but it is no longer operable under Windows.

From the Ars Technica:

Windows Update drivers bricking USB serial chips beloved of hardware hackers
Hardware hackers building interactive gadgets based on the Arduino microcontrollers are finding that a recent driver update that Microsoft deployed over Windows Update has bricked some of their hardware, leaving it inaccessible to most software both on Windows and Linux. This came to us via hardware hacking site Hack A Day.

The driver in question is for a line of USB-to-serial chips designed by Scottish firm FTDI. FTDI's chips are incredibly popular in this space, as just about every microcontroller and embedded device out there can communicate over a serial port. But this popularity has a downside; there's a vast number of knock-off chips in the wild that appear to be made by FTDI, but in fact aren't.

FTDI develops drivers for its chips. The drivers can be obtained directly from FTDI, or they can be downloaded by Windows automatically, through Windows Update. This latter feature is a great convenience for most people, as it enables plug-and-play operation. The latest version of FTDI's driver, released in August, contains some new language in its EULA and a feature that has caught people off-guard: it reprograms counterfeit chips rendering them largely unusable, and its license notes that:

Use of the Software as a driver for, or installation of the Software onto, a component that is not a Genuine FTDI Component, including without limitation counterfeit components, MAY IRRETRIEVABLY DAMAGE THAT COMPONENT

The license is tucked away inside the driver files; normally nobody would ever see this unless they were explicitly looking for it.

The result of this is that well-meaning hardware developers updated their systems through Windows Update and then found that the serial controllers they used stopped working. Worse, it's not simply that the drivers refuse to work with the chips; the chips also stopped working with Linux systems. This has happened even to developers who thought that they had bought legitimate FTDI parts. It can be difficult to tell, and stories of OEMs and ODMs quietly ignoring design specs and using knock-offs instead of official parts are not uncommon. As such, even hardware that was designed and specified as using proper FTDI chips could be affected.

There is an in-depth tear-down of the real and the counterfeit chip at Zepto Blog

 An analysis of the software can be found at the EEVblog Electronics Community Forum

Today's rainstorm

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Flooding in the streets of Bellingham

20141023-bhamrain.jpg

Image from this instagram video.

Air New Zealand flight safety video

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They had done some cute ones before (here and here) but this one tops them all:

The Canadian shooting

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The man who shot the terrorist in the Canadian Parliament building is their Sergeant of Arms Kevin Vickers. He reported to work today and was given quite the ovation. From FOX News:

 

Job well done! One more islamist moron meeting their 72 white raisins of exceptional purity.

Meet AR12192

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And he's a big-un - from The Sun Today:

AR12192: Biggest Sunspot of Two Solar Cycles!
As of October 23, 2014, AR12192 is now the Biggest sunspot in 2 solar cycles. Just yesterday it reached the rank of largest sunspot in cycle 24.

The sunspot measures a whopping 2700 microhemispheres (MH or millionths of a visible solar hemisphere). Now it has surpassed AR10486 (2610 MH) of the famous 2003 Halloween storms. It is the largest sunspot since AR6368, which measured 3080 MH on November 18, 1990.

A reminder for scale, the surface area of Earth is 169 MH.

Of course, it's dark and dumping rain here. No joy in mudville today...

Summer officially ends

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From the Washington State Department of Transportation:

Artist Point Status: CLOSED FOR THE WINTER!
The road to Artist Point closed Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, after the longest season on record. This year the road was opened on July 1, and remained open for 115 days. The previous mark was 111 days, set in 2004. The latest closing date on record was Oct. 26, 2011.

And that is it for the summer... The snowfall was light last year enabling the highway to be opened sooner than usual.

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