November 2005 Archives


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aka TheCameraMall, aka C&A Marketing, aka HotBuysElectronics are definitely NOT people you want to do business with despite a relatively high positive feedback at Yahoo Stores. Thomas Hawk has the story:
PriceRitePhoto: Abusive Bait and Switch Camera Store
"I will make sure you will never be able to place an order on the internet again." "I'm an attorney, I will sue you." "I will call the CEO of your company and play him the tape of this phone call." "I'm going to call your local police and have two officers come over and arrest you." "You'd better get this through your thick skull." "You have no idea who you are dealing with."

These are all direct threats that I received today from an individual who identified himself as Steve Phillips, the manager of PriceRitePhoto in Brooklyn, New York when I called to inquire about my order with them. My crime? Telling him that I planned to write an article about my unfortunate experience with his company regarding the camera order I had placed with him yesterday.

How are these people able to stay in business?
Thomas tells the entire gruesome story complete with screen captures. If you are looking to buy a camera or electronics and find a deal that is too good to be true, it probably is a scam like this.

Back Home today

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We are flying back home this evening, getting into our place around 10:00pm. It has been a lot of fun down here but it will be really good to get back... Usual blogging spew will resume tomorrow, December 1st.

R.I.P. John Simonton

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2005 has not a good year for Electronic Music Instrument Designers -- first Bob Moog passes away and now John Simonton, head of PAiA sucumbs after a long bout with cancer. John's niche was building amazing complex designs at very low cost using surplus parts but excellent designs. The synthesizers were only really compatible with other modules from PAiA but they were full featured and were an excellent value for the money. I still use several of his effects boxes and filters. When I put the kits together, I added sockets to all of the ICs and replaced critical ones with special low-noise versions but the circuits as they came were fine for a small studio. He will be missed...

Oh Really?

YAIM (Yet Another Internet Meme)

Take Owls and funny spelling and you come up with ORLYOWLS.COM




Cute! See the webpage for the full-size images...


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Yikes! I received an email from a friend of ours asking how our place faired during our recent earthquake. Earthquake?!?!? We are still on the road and didn't hear anything about it so a quick trip to Google and it turns out that we had a 4.1 magnitude surface quake about ten miles from our house! Lots of people felt it but no damage sustained (as reported). Here is the The Pacific Northwest Seismograph Network report. Seattle TV Station KOMO has this story:
4.1 Quake Rattles Bellingham Area
A small earthquake shook the area around Deming in Whatcom County Wednesday. There were no initial reports of any injuries or property damage.

The Pacific Northwest Seismographic Network at the University of Washington said the magnitude 4.1 quake occurred at 12:53 p.m. and was centered about five miles east-northeast of Deming, which is west of Mount Baker. It was about a third of a mile below the surface, which is considered shallow.

In the first half hour after the quake, 25 people reported feeling it, describing the shaking as moderate. Some people who called the media reported hearing a loud boom before the quake.
It has been a fun trip but will be good to get back!


Is there something at the State Department that poisons people's minds? First Colin Powell and now Madeleine Albright. From Reuters:
Arabs should not exclude Islamist parties: Albright
DUBAI (Reuters) - The United States should not back "sham" reforms in the Arab world which continue to isolate powerful Islamist opposition, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said on Monday.

"It would be a mistake to exclude Islamist parties on the assumption they are inherently undemocratic or prone to violence," she said in a statement released shortly before her appearance at a conference in the United Arab Emirates.

"The best way to marginalize violent extremists is to make room for as broad a range of non-violent perspectives as possible."

Her comments appeared to be directed at Arab countries including Egypt, where the banned Muslim Brotherhood has made stunning gains by winning 76 seats in ongoing parliamentary elections.

The Bush administration has made little comment on violence that marred the polling. Police have arrested nearly 200 Muslim Brotherhood activists in a crackdown on the group.

Washington backs Egypt's refusal to license the Brotherhood -- a vocal critic of U.S. policy in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- over its religious platform.

Albright, who played a key role in Arab-Israeli diplomacy in the 1990s, attacked a recent constitutional reform which allowed for Egypt's first ever multi-party presidential elections.

"The system he (President Hosni Mubarak) is recommending would make it virtually impossible for truly independent parties to participate. Sham democracy should be exposed for what it truly is," Albright said.

Mubarak, whose ruling National Democratic Party has the majority in parliament, has been in power for over two decades.

The constitutional amendment approved by referendum in May set tough conditions for rival presidential candidates. Under the old system, parliament chose Mubarak as sole candidate and Egyptians then voted for or against in a referendum.
Who is running the State Department anyway? They seem to be contradicting the wishes of the President. That ain't the way it works in the USA.

Canada in for some 'interesting' times

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It seems that the ruling Liberal party has been tossed out on its ear after a no-confidence vote. BBC News has the story:
Canada's government is thrown out
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's government has been ousted in a no-confidence vote.

Canada's three opposition parties united against his Liberal Party, which has been mired in a corruption scandal.

Mr Martin will seek the dissolution of parliament on Tuesday, and a date for a general election - thought likely to be 16 or 23 January.
They had a bit of a scandal a few years ago regarding some $85 USD spent to advertising agencies with nothing to show for it. There are also some issues with kickbacks. Jen's and my two favorite radio stations are Canadian and some of the political news out of there is fascinating. makes the whole King County Monorail and the last Governors election look positively tame by comparison... UPDATE: Did some digging and here are a few "talking points" Before being prime Minister, Mr. Martin was Finance Minister. Under his tenure: He took $30 billion CDN surplus from government union pensions and paid down the deficit. Approximately $100 million CDN went from federal accounts to Liberal party coffers via middlemen. And as P.M.: Various Native American education funds have been used at American casinos and Sea World along with purchases of jewelry and supporting bush league hockey teams. Some lawsuits are ramping up so this is not the time to have this jerk in office. At least, Canada is better than France. Chirac has been convicted and sentenced to jail for corruption and bribery and only a French Law prevents him from being in the slammer right now. Whenever he stops being an elected official in France, that jail term is coming home to roost...

Free To Air

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Commercial Satellite Television's dirty little secret... There are lots of satellite signals up there that are not encrypted and can be received with modest equipment. And, there is no charge for the private use of these transmissions. This state of un-encryption is called Free-To-Air. Here is a nice Slashdot discussion of this from April 2005. This covers the several ways to implement the receiver (stand-alone box, computer with TV card, etc...) as well as software applications and links to vendors. Here are a few vendors that came highly recommended by several people: Skyvision, Eye in the Sky and ROXSAT. For ex-pats living in the USA, there are a lot of other languages than English available. Basic cost to buy in is under $300 for a stand-alone Ku band system. You can buy a rotator so one dish can look at any number of satellites. Fascinating stuff -- I knew that there was a lot of activity on the C band (large 6' diameter older dishes) but I didn't know that there was so much on the Ku frequencies...

A new Media

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Forget the hype over Blu-Ray and other formats, Maxell comes in with a goodie. From the Maxell website:
Maxell Introduces the Future of Optical Storage Media With Holographic Recording Technology
Optical Disc Features 1.6 TeraBytes of Storage Capacity and 120 MBPs Transfer Rate

Maxell Corporation of America, the technological leader in advanced recordable media, and InPhase Technologies are bringing a revolutionary technology to market - holographic media. With uncompressed storage capacities achieving 1.6 TeraBytes per disk and data rates as high as 120 MBPs, holographic technology is a true breakthrough in optical media. These features, along with a long archival life, make holographic media a compelling choice for storage and archival requirements.

Holographic data storage is superior to existing disc and hard drive technologies, and is also competitive against tape technologies in capacities and transfer rate. In addition, it offers a 50+ year media archive life and random data access. Finally, the media is expected to have the lowest cost per gigabyte of any commercial quality removable storage.
A bit more:
The first generation of holographic media with 300 GB of storage capacity and a 20 MBPs Transfer Rate is scheduled for release in late 2006.
And it will probably cost and arm and a leg but the first DVD recorders were $10K when they came out and look how quickly that price fell... Hey, the first CD readers were over $400 -- it was a .very. .big. .deal. when Radio Shack (back when they were good) first came out with a consumer version under $500. The 50-year life expectancy is not too shabby either.

A new Musical

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Subject: Rasputin Author: Ozzy Osbourne From the Guardian:
Osbourne writes musical about Russia's greatest love machine
They call him the Godfather of Metal, the Prince of Darkness and the Blizzard of Oz. Until recently, though, few considered Ozzy Osbourne the next Andrew Lloyd Webber. That may be about to change: for the past few years Osbourne, the former frontman of Black Sabbath and reality TV hero, has been writing a musical. It is based on the life of a historical figure who could be considered Osbourne's spiritual ancestor: Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin, the Russian mystic and favourite of Tsar Nicholas II's court.

"It's a major achievement for me, because I've always wanted to do it," said Osbourne. "He's like the original rock star, you know? I said to myself, 'What better thing to write about?'" Osbourne and his co-writer Mark Hudson have amassed a double album's worth of songs, in styles that vary from rock to cossack folk music.

"I always wanted to do a musical for the West End or Broadway," Osbourne said. "If it gets picked up it gets picked up, but it was a lot of fun to do anyway ... being Ozzy Osbourne is great, but if I don't sing about the fucking devil or bats or whatever, people don't really want to know."
Say what you will, Osbourne is a decent musician and this will probably be a lot of fun!

Cox and Forkum on Iran's Nuclear Program

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Cox and Forkum get to the heart of the matter regarding Iran's protestations that their Nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes:
Visit their site for the full-size cartoon as well as a lot of facts and links about what is happening.

The Pong Clock

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These people's Geek-Fu is greater than mine :-( Hat tip to Gizmodo for this link to the Pong Clock:
It plays a random game for 59 Seconds and then the right side looses. The score increments. Each Hour, the left side looses and its score is incremented. Designed by these people but it doesn't seem to be on the market quite yet...

A great big rolling trainwreck

It has been said that there are two things that you never want to watch being made -- Law and Sausages.

Add Movies to this list. Here is a very long post outlining the history of the upcoming Superman V movie. It starts in 1987, was scheduled for release in 1989 and is still in production. Here is the first little bit of the story:

...The stange and evil tale of the production of Superman V.
It spans decades, $50,000,000 is spent before they even have even settled on a writer or director. It's so horrible. It's out of date as it stops in the middle of 2004, but it's so horrible, you have to read it.

The whole thing started in 1987. The Israeli producing team of Menahem Golan and Yoram Globus (who were cousins, by the way) had bought the film rights to Superman from Alexander and Ilya Salkind, the obnoxious father-son duo who made the first three films. WB gave Golan and Globus' production company Cannon Films $40 million bucks to make Superman IV, and Golan-Globus took the money and spent it all on their other pictures.
They only spent $17 million on Superman IV, chopping out key plot sequences (a grand total of 45 minutes' worth of critical story material was excised) and gutting the FX in order to keep the costs down. Anyway, Superman IV bombed because of the hack job Golan-Globus did on it. But since they still had the rights to Superman, they decided to make a fifth film for release in 1989, with Captain America (the one with Matt Salinger and Ronny Cox) director Albert Pyun at the helm.
They also planned to reuse all the edited material from Superman IV and to recast Superman with another actor (their antics on IV left Reeve outraged with them). However, Cannon fell on hard times and Golan left to make his own company, 21st Century Films (which went under in the early '90s - he's since re-founded Cannon), and the rights to Superman reverted back to the Salkinds. This was when Superboy was in full swing on TV, and the Salkinds decided to restart the Superman film series using Superboy as the prequel. Hence, Superman comic scribe Cary Bates and his Superboy writing partner Mark Jones were drafted to write a script pitting Superman against Brainiac in a story set in the bottled city of Kandor. Under the working title Superman: The New Movie, this film was to have been released in 1994, with Superboy star Gerard Christopher taking over for Reeve as Superman. (To this day, the deleted footage from Superman IV remains unaccounted for.)

Well, 1993 rolled around, and WB bought all the non-comics rights to Superman lock, stock, and barrel. WB forced the Salkinds to pull Superboy from the airwaves completely so as not to interfere with the planned Lois & Clark series (which Gerard Christopher auditioned for, and was turned down because he'd played Superboy - that's how Dean Cain got the part), and scrapped the Bates/Jones script. Deciding to base the movie on the "death and return" story from the comic books (they figured that the big sales figures the story racked up would translate into box office success), WB turned the project over to their pet producer Jon Peters - an illiterate, violence-prone wild man (I wish I was making this up, but I'm not - this is all true, every word of it) who got his start as Barbra Streisand's hairdresser/lover and produced the Tim Burton Batman films. Peters, who hates the classic Superman in every way imaginable, set out to reinvent Superman in the "sex, killing, rock & roll, and whatever movie was a hit last weekend" style that all of his movies are based in. So he hired Jonathan Lemkin to write the script.

And a little bit more about Jon Peters:

And this is where things got REALLY ugly. First off, Smith was taken aback when Peters asked him, in all sincerity, "Kal-El? Who's this Kal-El guy you keep mentioning in the script?" Then the insanity really started to take over. Peters demanded that Superman be stripped of his red and blue suit, arguing that the suit was "too pink, too f@ggy."

It is a long read that involves Tim Burton, Russell Crowe, Jim Carrey (cast as Brainiac) and David Duchovny (cast as Superman), Ashton Kutcher, Justin Timberlake, Lara Flynn Boyle and many many more... Amazing -- if this was a legitimate business, these managers would have been sacked a long long time ago. It is a long read but if you are interested in the innner workings of commercial film-making, it is well worth the 20 minutes or so of your time...

Neat Web Application

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Ran into Cool Text this morning. You pick an option for either a logo or a button, select your font (some nice ones there - also available for download!), choose the colors and the output format and your work is rendered and put up for download. Here's a Synthstuff Button:

Cindy Sheehan's Book Signing

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Jumped the Shark I tell you... Yahoo has some photos of Cindy Sheehan's Book Signing:


Ouch! Hat tip to Sweetness and Light for the link!

The information that the concentration of CO2 Gas in the atmosphere has risen over the last 650,000 years has been in the news recently; generally talked about as another 'Chicken Little' hysterical case of the vapours.

Some excerpts from BBC News/Science:

Current levels of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are higher now than at any time in the past 650,000 years.

No news there, Volcanoes and Plant, Animal and Marine Life account for the majority of this.

The scientists say their research shows present day warming to be exceptional.

Compared to what. Compared to the similar warming around 900 AD when wine grapes were growing in Greenland?

Other research, also published in the journal Science, suggests that sea levels may be rising twice as fast now as in previous centuries.

I wrote about the Sea Level Change here -- this is an excerpt from that post:

For a wonderful examination of Sea Level change from 1841 to 2004, this picture is worth a thousand words:


Here is another view -- this time, the mark has been traced over with line to emphasize it.


These photos are from this website— here is the text that accompanies them:
The 1841 sea level benchmark (centre) on the ‘Isle of the Dead’, Tasmania. According to Antarctic explorer, Capt. Sir James Clark Ross, it marked mean sea level in 1841. Photo taken at low tide 20 Jan 2004. Mark is 50 cm across; tidal range is less than a metre.
Let’s read that again and consider four things:

#1) - the mark was placed at mean sea level. The word “mean” in this use denotes the “mathematical average”. The sea rose above it and set below it by an equal amount during the tidal cycle.
#2) - The mark was made in the middle of the tidal range in 1841 and it was photographed 163 years later at the bottom of the tidal cycle.
#3) - the tidal cycle is one meter and the mark is 50 centimeters or one-half meter long.
#4) - the mark is sitting about 30 or 40 centimeters above the water in the photograph. Given that there is some wave surge, it looks like the level of the ocean has not changed one bit in 163 years.

Granted, this will not show a change of a centimeter or so but to have such a good record over 163 years and to not have any visible change surely pricks the credibility of the climate change people...

Now, let's go over to the New Scientist where we get a more sober reporting and some actual numbers:

Record ice core reveals Earth's ancient atmosphere
The longest ice-core record of climate history ever obtained has hugely extended the detailed history of Earth's atmosphere, and shows that levels of greenhouse gases really do march in lockstep with changes in temperature.

The frozen record of the Earth's atmosphere is 3270 metres long and covers the last 650,000 years � 50% longer than before. It was obtained from the tiny air bubbles trapped in a deep ice core from Antarctica.

The tight coupling between temperatures and the greenhouse gas levels revealed by the core matches the predictions from climate models used to forecast future global warming. It also bears some good news: the warm interglacial periods between ice ages can last a long time, contrary to the view that we may already be due for the onset of the next ice age.

And the numbers:

Today's level of 380 parts per million of carbon dioxide is 27% above its previous peaks of about 300 ppm, according to the team led by Thomas Stocker of the University of Bern in Switzerland.

Dear Readers, 380 ppm represents a concentration of 0.038 Percent.
The other greenhouse gas we need to worry about is good old water vapor which is anywhere from zero to four percent.

The researchers are noting changes in CO2 levels that track periods of warming and cooling but these can also be attributed to a healthy, normal biosphere...

Granted, we need to keep an eye out but programs like Kyoto are so deeply flawed that they are less than useless -- they are actually harmful. We enjoy a separation of Church and State -- we need to enjoy a similar separation of Science and Political Agenda.

You may remember Michael Brown -- ex-head of FEMA until FEMA's fumbling brought his management and accomplishments to the foreground and he was asked to leave. I had written about Michael Brown in particular here, here and here and FEMA in general here, here, here, here and here. Anyway, it seems that Mr. Michael Brown has now hung up his shingle and is operating a business: Michael D. Brown LLC. He specializes in... well, I'll let this Yahoo/AP story tell you:
Ex-FEMA Head Starts Disaster Planning Firm
Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, heavily criticized for his agency's slow response to Hurricane Katrina, is starting a disaster preparedness consulting firm to help clients avoid the sort of errors that cost him his job.

"If I can help people focus on preparedness, how to be better prepared in their homes and better prepared in their businesses � because that goes straight to the bottom line � then I hope I can help the country in some way," Brown told the Rocky Mountain News for its Thursday editions.

Brown said officials need to "take inventory" of what's going on in a disaster to be able to answer questions to avoid appearing unaware of how serious a situation is.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, critics complained about Brown's lack of formal emergency management experience and e-mails that later surfaced showed him as out of touch with the extent of the devastation.

The lawyer admits that while he was head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency mistakes were made in the response to Katrina. He also said he had been planning to quit before the hurricane hit.

"Hurricane Katrina showed how bad disasters can be, and there's an incredible need for individuals and businesses to understand how important preparedness is," he said.

Brown said companies already have expressed interested in his consulting business, Michael D. Brown LLC. He plans to run it from the Boulder area, where he lived before joining the Bush administration in 2001.

"I'm doing a lot of good work with some great clients," Brown said. "My wife, children and my grandchild still love me. My parents are still proud of me."
This goes so far beyond Chutzpah that it is staggering... He was never qualified, fudged his resume, in his last "big" job he was asked to leave, he had no clue as to what was happening on the ground. The situation in New Orleans was NOT FEMA's fault, it was the fault of the Local Municipal and State Governments. In fact, the Federal Government could not step in without a direct request from Governor Blanco -- a request that took President Bush flying down to ask for and even then, she asked him to wait for 24 hours. Still FEMA had a clearly defined post-disaster role and they screwed up royally. The idea that the architect of this disaster should be working in the same field is beyond belief...
Oink Flap Oink Flap Oink Flap Oink Flap... From Reuters:
Iran offered N. Korea oil for weapons help - magazine
Iran has offered North Korea oil and natural gas as payment for help in developing nuclear missiles, German weekly magazine Der Spiegel reported on Saturday, citing unidentified Western intelligence sources.

A senior Iranian official traveled to the North Korean capital Pyongyang during the second week of October to make the offer, the magazine quoted the sources as saying. It was unclear what North Korea's response was, it added.

Diplomats and intelligence sources say Iran is pushing ahead with plans to enrich uranium in defiance of international pressure to stop developing sensitive nuclear technology to calm fears it is seeking nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.

Iran's Shahab-3 missiles are based on North Korea's Nodong rockets and Pyongyang is Tehran's most important partner in developing missile technology, Der Spiegel said.
And people sit back and let this shit happen?

Update to Good luck!

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I had written here about the upcoming launch of the first privately Funded Orbital flight scheduled for today. It had to be scrubbed and they will try again sometime in December. From Spaceflight Now:
A frustrating scrub Saturday ended the first shot at launching the privately-developed Falcon 1 rocket, delaying until sometime in December the debut mission of this new low-cost booster fleet that could revolutionize the space marketplace.

Space Exploration Technologies was hoping to get its initial rocket into orbit from Omelek Island, a tiny dot of land among the Kwajalein Atoll located in the Central Pacific Ocean. Technical snags with ground fueling equipment at the launch pad, however, thwarted efforts to ready the 70-foot tall vehicle for its planned liftoff.

"As I warned, the likelihood of an all new rocket launching from an all new launch pad on its first attempt is low," SpaceX founder Elon Musk said follow the scrub.

Launch has been scheduled for 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT). That time was pushed back an hour, then even more as the 25-person launch team wrestled with a glitch in the helium pressurization system.

As countdown clocks finally moved closer to liftoff, it was determined that a valve on an auxiliary liquid oxygen supply tank at the pad was incorrectly set to vent. The valve must be adjusted manually, forcing a crew to take a boat from their safe fallback position to Omelek Island for the hands-on fix.

The team was racing to get the valve closed to prevent too much super cold liquid oxygen from escaping, which would cause a lengthy resupply of the pad commodities. But the valve was closed, and reserve liquid oxygen was transferred from low-pressure tanks to the high-pressure tanks used for refueling the rocket.

The cryogenic oxidizer naturally boils away aboard the rocket, requiring replenishment through the countdown. The liquid oxygen and a highly refined kerosene propellant are consumed by the rocket's Merlin first stage and Kestrel second stage engines during the flight.

Clocks were reset for liftoff at 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT). However, the rocket servicing by the ground systems was too affected from the earlier problem to continue with the launch attempt.

"The time it took to correct the problem resulted in significant LOX boil off and loss of helium, and it was the latter that caused the launch abort. LOX is used to chill the helium bottles, so we lose helium if there is no LOX to cool the bottles," Musk explained.

"Although we were eventually able to refill the vehicle LOX tanks, the rate at which we could add helium was slower than the rate at which LOX was boiling away. There was no way to close the gap, so the launch had to be called off."
Working with Cryogenic Materials (especially Hydrogen and Helium) is a black art -- they do not behave like fluids and Hydrogen especially causes problems with the metals used for construction (it makes them incredibly brittle). Bummer about today but they seem to be very careful and not rushing ahead for publicities sake.

Vegetarianism and Pacifism

Dr. Helen (the InstaWife) writes about her experiences with Vegetarianism.
Many people have written to ask me to talk about my vegetarianism when I was younger and why I went back to being a carnivore. Well--here is the story. When I was younger, I thought it wrong to hurt another living thing. I had compassion for flies, ants and anything else that moved. At twelve, I bought myself the book, Diet for a Small Planet. I figured if I was going to be a vegetarian, I might as well be a good one. I made salads, ate fruits and vegetables and tried to eat meals that were comprised of complete proteins.
And some more:
I had a tremendous amount of free-floating hostility within me as well as downright aggression--I thought being a pacifist (which included being a vegetarian) could control my inner feelings of rage. But it only sublimated those feelings for a while. I sat quietly while peers at school made fun of me. But I learned the truth about what worked when one of my siblings brought down a boy who taunted me about my wild kinky hair on the school bus with threats of violence. My pacifism did not work. It only served to make me angrier. As the years went by, I learned to explore my anger and aggressive feelings and to allow them to come to the surface and not to be afraid of them. By the time I was 24 and walking through the isles of Key Foods in Manhattan looking at rows of tuna fish, I realized that I no longer needed to hang onto my role as a vegetarian to prove that I was a "good" person. I was a decent person all ready. I will never forget the day I tried a can of tuna--it was magnificent.
Read the whole thing -- she is very articulate...

Politically Correct in New Zealand

John Ray writing at A Western Heart points to a situation in New Zealand:

"Disabled" correctness runs amok in New Zealand
Plans for a walkway high in the forest of Westland National Park have stalled over a requirement to provide access for wheelchair users. South Island tribe Ngai Tahu is behind the $2 million treetop venture, a more than 300m-long looped walk, 14m high and against a backdrop of the Southern Alps' Franz Josef village.

Ngai Tahu Tourism acting general manager Rick Tau said providing electric or mechanical lifts to get disabled people up and over sets of steps built into the walkway would add more than $100,000 to the cost of the project. "It could put the kibosh it," he said.

More than $50,000 had already been spent on design and planning. Electric lifts would require a power supply, and self-operated mechanical lifts could be a problem if people were severely disabled, Mr Tau said. The tribe had asked the Department of Building and Housing for an exemption under the Building Act, but was turned down.

It's not the first time Ngai Tahu's tourism ventures had come up against disability laws, Mr Tau said. "Some of it is idiotic. We have lodges that take two days' walking to get to, yet we have to provide wheelchair access to toilets."

Emphasis mine -- most disabled people I know are more than happy to consider themselves disabled and to get on with their life and to realize that there are some places that they cannot get into. The ADA (American Disabilities Act) was designed to ensure that public buildings were accessible - there is an understanding that some facilities cannot be made accessible. (Been to an amusement park recently?) The idea that a catwalk forty feet up in the trees has to be accessible to people in wheelchairs is ludicrous. Ditto for the bathrooms in the lodges that take a two-day hike to get to...

Good luck!

The Falcon 1 is scheduled to launch today. From Spaceflight Now Mission Status Center

After three years of development, SpaceX's privately-made Falcon 1 rocket is set for its debut launch Saturday from a seven-acre isle in the Central Pacific. Liftoff remains targeted for 4 p.m. EST (2100 GMT).

"This is a brand new rocket from a brand new launch site, so I would characterize that time as the first launch attempt. Miracles can happen and it may actually happen on that exact time, but it is not a certainty," he told reporters at a news conference last week.

The day's launch opportunity extends four hours to 8 p.m. EST (0100 GMT). Very cool -- the first public orbital launch.


Hoist by one's own petard

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A thought provoking article in The Economist regarding "Arab Street"
Unfamiliar questions in the Arab air
As al-Qaeda scores own-goals in its backyard, many Arabs, including some Iraqis, are beginning to rethink their position on violence in the name of resistance

Of all the films to extol the fight for freedom from imperialism, one of the most cheering to Arab hearts is the rousing 1981 epic, �Lion of the Desert�. A richly bearded Anthony Quinn plays the role of Omar Mukhtar, the simple Koran teacher who became a guerrilla hero, and for 20 years, from 1911-31, harassed the Italian forces bent on subduing Libya. In one memorable scene his Bedouin warriors, armed only with old rifles, hobble their own feet to ensure martyrdom as Mussolini's tanks roll inexorably towards them.

Such imagery, mixed with big doses of schoolbook nationalism and more recent real-life pictures of stone-throwing children facing Israeli guns, has bolstered a common Arab perception of �resistance� as an act that is just and noble. The romanticism is understandable, and not much different from how, say, the French view their own underground in the second world war. Yet the morphing in recent years of resistance into terrorism, and the confusion in Iraq, where a humiliating foreign occupation also brought liberation from Baathist tyranny, has increasingly called this iconography into question.

The undermining of entrenched myths is a slow and halting process. But it is subject to sudden, shattering jolts, such as the November 9th suicide bombing of three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman. In the minds of the killers, American-allied Jordan had become a rear base for the �crusader� invaders of Iraq, and so its hotels, the sort of places where crusaders and their minions congregate, were legitimate targets for the resistance.

Yet it is perhaps more than incidentally ironic that among the 60 people they killed was Mustapha Akkad, the Syrian-born director who created �Lion of the Desert�. His film, glorifying the bravery of Muslim resistance fighters, happened to be one of the few productions explicitly endorsed on jihadist websites, albeit in a version that replaced the musical soundtrack with religious chants, and cut out all scenes showing women.
Say goodnight and enjoy your white raisins -- perhaps the beginning of the end to an evil that has stalked this earth for way to long. What evil you might ask? Pick one (or several -- this is one-stop shopping after all...) Intolerance. Misogyny. Ethnic Cleansing. Murder. Willful Ignorance. Fomenting Terror. Corruption.

Cool technology - Linksys WRT54G Router

Available for under $60 from places like NewEgg and Amazon.


We use one as our firewall and router. Great little box! Well, it turns out that it is a lot deeper than it seems from the surface. Aaron Weiss writing at Wi-Fi Planet has the story:

The Open Source WRT54G Story
The story of the Linksys Wireless-G Router (model WRT54G) and how you can turn a $60 router into a $600 router is a little bit CSI and a little bit Freaks & Geeks. It's also the story of how the open source movement can produce a win-win scenario for both consumers and commercial vendors. What's especially exciting is that tricking out this router doesn't require any eBay sleuthing or other hunt for some off-the-wall piece of hardware. Instead, grab it off-the-shelf. The WRT54G is stacked high in every Best Buy and Circuit City across the country and, of course, most online retailers -- sells it for $55. It's ubiquitous and, some would say, a diamond in the rough. Or a wolf in sheep's clothing.

While routers used to be the domain of networking specialists, they've gone mainstream along with residential broadband. Commodity routers can be had for as little as -- well, "free after rebate" in some cases, and often not much more. To keep them cheap, consumer-grade vendors like Linksys repackage designs from OEM vendors rather than design the hardware and software in-house.

The tradeoff for these sub-$100 routers can be reliability, particularly in the coding of the firmware -- the software 'brain' that controls the router's functions. Consumer-grade firmware may be buggy, and may be limited in functionality compared to commercial-grade routers designed for business such as those made by Cisco and SonicWall.

The WRT54G was released in 2003 in anticipation of the 802.11g standard, with its theoretical maximum bandwidth of 54Mbps compared to 802.11b's 11Mbps. In many respects the WRT54G is a typical wireless router - it accepts an incoming broadband link such as cable or DSL and shares it between its built-in four-port Ethernet switch and antennae for broadcasting the signal to wireless clients.

In June 2003 some folks on the Linux Kernel Mailing List sniffed around the WRT54G and found that its firmware was based on Linux components. Because Linux is released under the GNU General Public License, or GPL, the terms of the license obliged Linksys to make available the source code to the WRT54G firmware. As most router firmware is proprietary code, vendors have no such obligation. It remains unclear whether Linksys was aware of the WRT54G's Linux lineage, and its associated source requirements, at the time they released the router. But ultimately, under outside pressure to deliver on their legal obligation under the GPL, Linksys open sourced the WRT54G firmware in July 2003.

With the code in hand, developers learned exactly how to talk to the hardware inside and how to code any features the hardware could support. It has spawning a handful of open source firmware projects for the WRT54G that extend its capabilities, and reliability, far beyond what is expected from a cheap consumer-grade router.

Heh... Very cool -- the article goes on to cover the various options available including:

You could use the WRT54G as a repeater or a bridge. Create a wireless distribution system (WDS) or a mesh network. Run a VPN server. Or a VoIP server. Or a managed hotspot with a RADIUS server. Manage bandwidth use per protocol. Control traffic shaping. Support IPv6. Boost antenna power. Remotely access router logs. Operate the router as a miniature low-power PC, running a variety of Linux applications.

and also lists several sites to find either pre-compiled files to upload or resources to create your own. Was noticing that there is a $15 rebate at both Amazon and NewEgg -- might be fun to get an extra unit for "backup" (Yeahhh... Rigghhhttt...)

Flip Book Printer

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Very cool little application. Give it an AVI file and some pre-perfed Business Card stock and it will spit out a flipbook movie. Get it from Free for non-commercial use only but they do seem to offer licensing if you want to sell the books. The parent site looks interesting -- lots of handy free utilities and the promise of more if you donate. Sort of an update to ShareWare.

Sex Sells -- even in Saudi Arabia

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Interesting recruitment method and the unintended consequences of a rigid society. The American Thinker has the story:
Sex and the Single Saudi
Pssst! You there! Yeah, you, kid! Wanna see 72 virgins?

It�s the Jihadist answer to dirty French postcards, according to a reformist Muslim critic named Al-Sowayan, writing in the Saudi Gazette. The medium in this case isn�t sexy postcards but cassette tapes:
�So ubiquitous are the religious cassette shops that they are outnumbered only by groceries � The Jihad cassette describes the path that must be followed in order to win martyrdom and deserve the Hoor Al-Een fair females with wide, lovely eyes. It reduces the lofty objective of spiritual martyrdom to mere lust and a selfish search for sexual pleasure, regardless of what martyrdom can achieve for the public interest or for upholding Allah�s word. ...

�The sweetest thing for a teenager, especially in a conservative society like ours, is sex, and the discourse of the religious cassettes is directed toward these very youngsters in their sexual peak of life. They access these youth through the Hoor Al-Een, just as how the youth of our time were drawn to slide pictures of actresses and female singers. So should we not consider sexual suppression in conservative societies as one of the factors leading to such deviation?�
Al-Sowayan sounds like a brave and honest man, raising questions that are absolutely essential -- but extremely difficult to face. Wahhabi society brings up teenage boys isolated from girls their own age. It punishes sexual pleasure while at the same time glorifying it, and encouraging sexual fantasies. That puts both sexes in the most painful bind: Either reject your own feelings, or blow yourself up to achieve them.
The post goes on a bit more and closes with this very good observation:
In criticizing Saudi sexual norms, Al-Sowayan may be pushing the limits. But for civilized values to win, it is essential for more and more Muslim voices to speak out, until finally they know they are the majority.

Back from T-Day

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Spent Thanksgiving with Jennifer, her Mom and Dad and some of her Mom's family. (about 15 people!) We were at a cottage that Jen's parents just bought on the Monterrey Peninsula. No internet there though... Back at their farm -- I am heading off to Fresno to get some dinner and poke around. Blogging will happen later this evening.

Site Traffic

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I was looking through my referrer logs and I seem to be getting a lot of hits from people searching for the Charlie Wenzel thread. (here and here) Other hits include: cnn, ugly dog sam, wenzeled, causes of global warming, cdubzon40s, sam the ugly dog, muffler bearings, sam the worlds ugliest dog, genpets, cisco wine, the worlds ugliest dog, urban dictionary, biden for president, krump music, brian zembic, flash clock, dennis avner Sheesh -- you would think I was writing about Naked Lesbian Cheerleaders or something... or naked lesbian cheerleaders for those with no sHIFT kEY.

Joe Lieberman - a real Democrat...

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...and not a simpering media whore suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome (Paging Messieurs Kennedy and Kerry) Charles at Little Green Footballs has this story about Joe Lieberman:
Lieberman: The Cost of Failure Would Be Catastrophic
Joe Lieberman shows that he�s one of the only Democrats left with an ounce of guts: Lieberman: U.S. to Finish Iraq Mission.
BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 23, 2005 (AP On line delivered by Nestles) � U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman told Iraq�s prime minister Wednesday that U.S. forces will remain in Iraq until their mission is complete, despite growing unease in Congress about the progress of the conflict here.

�We cannot let extremists and terrorists, a small number, here in Iraq deprive the 27 million Iraqis of what they want which is a better freer life, safer life for themselves and their children� Lieberman said after his meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari.

The Connecticut Democrat, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the cost of success in Iraq would be high �but the cost for America of failure in Iraq would be catastrophic � for America, for the Iraqi people and I believe for the world.�
My vote for President Bush was not so much a vote for Bush but a strong vote against John Kerry whom I feel is minimally suitable to be a Senator and definitely NOT Presidential material. Had the Democrats not fallen into such a cess-pit of navel-gazing partisan games and put forth a candidate who was matched to the troubles that we are facing, I would have strongly considered voting for them. Lieberman would have been a shoe-in for me.

Walk the Line

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Jen and I went to see this tonight. Walk the Line Incredibly well-cast, directed and played biography of Johnny Cash - his rise to fame, troubles and eventual redemption and marriage to June Carter. If you have any liking for Cash's music, see this one on the big screen. The two leads (Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon) did their own singing and playing and although Phoenix didn't have Cash's voice, he did a very nice job and was able to solidly hit the hard notes. Witherspoon is no slouch in the singing department either... Wonderful movie and well worth the price of admission...

A voice of sanity

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It seems that the Anglican Church has a new Archbishop and he is a man with some stones... The Times Online has the story:
Multiculturalism has betrayed the English, Archbishop says
St George's Day should be celebrated and the English should reclaim their national identity and culture, Dr John Sentamu says, a week before his enthronement in YorkBritain�s first black Archbishop has made a powerful attack on multiculturalism, urging English people to reclaim their national identity.

The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, said that too many people were embarrassed about being English. "Multiculturalism has seemed to imply, wrongly for me, let other cultures be allowed to express themselves but do not let the majority culture at all tell us its glories, its struggles, its joys, its pains," he said.

He said that the failure of England to rediscover its culture afresh would lead only to greater political extremism.

The new Archbishop also strongly criticised the Terrorism Bill, showing that he is likely to be even more robust in his criticism of the Government than the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams.
Very cool -- not only does he have a clear head on his shoulders, he is not afraid to criticize the government. A bit more:
He called for the English to rediscover their cultural identity by properly marking celebrations such as St George�s Day on April 23. "I speak as a foreigner really. The English are somehow embarrassed about some of the good things they have done. They have done some terrible things but not all the Empire was a bad idea. Because the Empire has gone there is almost the sense in which there is not a big idea that drives this nation."

The Ugandan-born Archbishop, who fled Idi Amin�s regime in 1974, said he would not be where he was today were it not for the British Empire and the English teachers and missionaries who worked in Africa.
And one last quote from the article:
He disliked the word �tolerance� when used in reference, for example, to people of different cultures. �It seems to be the word tolerance is bad because it just means putting up with it,� he said. �I was raised in the spirit of magnanimity. That is a better word than tolerance. If you are magnanimous in your judgments on other people, there is a chance that I will recognise that you will help me in my struggle.�

He described English culture as rooted in Christianity and, in spite of attempts by secularists to marginalise it, the Church still had a central role to play. �I think the Church in many ways has to be like a midwife, bringing to birth possibilities of what is authentically very good in the English mind.�
And compare this to this little bit of moral bankruptcy: Hat tip to Charles at LGF for this link.
The misguided church
The Church of England's latest opinion on Middle Eastern affairs ranks among its most bankrupt.

A recent report commissioned by the church's bishops endorsed apologizing to Muslim leaders for the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq.

That invasion removed a sadistic tyrant who bragged publicly about paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers - who intimidated his people by tossing them into shredders, allowing his sons to rape their choice of women and gassing entire villages.

Yet to the authors of the report, "Countering Terrorism: Power, Violence and Democracy Post 9/11," none of that matters.

"We do believe that the church has a visionary role for reconciliation beyond that of any government," one of the authors, Bishop Richard Harries of Oxford, told BBC Radio.

That role involves what the report called "truth and reconciliation" meetings with Muslim leaders that would give Christian counterparts the opportunity to perform a "public act of institutional penance" for the West's "long litany of errors" in dealing with Iraq, including the 2003 war.

Beyond the obvious betrayal of British troops in the field, the report symbolizes two more substantial, disturbing tendencies among liberal Christian intellectuals: profound ignorance of Islam and a virulent pacifism that embraces appeasement.
Disgusting in its lack of historical perspective...


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I had written about Sam -- the World's Ugliest Dog here and here. It seems that Sam passed away at age 14 after severe kidney problems. Open Source media Pajamas Media has the story:
World's ugliest blogger dies
Shortly after being crowned the ugliest dog in the world, and getting his own blog, Sam has died at age 14. Already a much discussed topic across the blogosphere, Sam's death is being blogged to a faretheewell. The SFist speaks for "admirers of non-traditionally attractive animals" in mourning his passing. Right Wing Conspirator has some visual fun at Sandra Bernhardt's expense. Moonage Webdream writes: "I have often criticized the media for continuing labels that are used for purely self-promotional reasons. 'The most beautiful woman in the world' being the most often abused. However, in this case, ugly just doesn't quite do it."

Two worlds

Baron Bodissey writing at Gates of Vienna has a wonderful comparison between two worlds -- one present and one fantasy:

One Ring to Rule Them All
Thanks to the timeliness and popularity of the movie version of The Lord of the Rings, comparisons between the hobbits' quest and our own struggle against the Great Jihad have become commonplace. It's hard to avoid goosebumps of uncanny recognition when Aragorn says, "This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you, stand, men of the West!"

Sauron is clearly a composite of Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Mullah Omar, Saddam Hussein, with all of al Qaeda and the other mujahideen for his legions of orcs. And Saruman? I would vote for Hugo Chavez, Robert Mugabe, Fidel Castro, and Kim Jong-il, all rolled into one. And the Fellowship of the Ring represents? well, it represents all of the rest of us, doesn't it? "The Men of the West," indeed.

The analogy really struck home the other day, when I was thinking about how invisible George W. Bush had become as his political enemies did everything they could to bring him down.

"I know what is," I thought. "He found himself in danger, and has put on the Ring!"

It was Boromir, in the person of Senator John McCain, who induced this behavior in President Frodo: "Just let me have the Ring, Mr. President! I could do great things with it!"

Then he looked around in surprise as the wily hobbit vanished and slipped from his grasp.

So how far can one extend the metaphor? Bilbo is obviously Bush 41, who had the Ring in his possession for a little while, but relinquished it to his younger kinsman. George Galloway does well in the part of Grima Wormtongue, sneaking around the back corridors of power with his all his lying and scheming. And Gollum is a certain Massachusetts Senator and former presidential candidate: "It's ours, precious, yes it is! The nasty hobbitses stole it from us!"

There is more at the site -- wonderful analogies!

In California

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Landed in California yesterday. I'll be blogging a bit later. Checking in to see how the anti-SPAM bots are working. Pretty good! 96 attempts stopped, two sucessful and now they are gone. Heh...

Old profession, new technology

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It seems that the time-old professsion of Safe Cracking is getting some new technology behind it. From the Coredump website comes this clever idea:
Cracking safes with thermal imaging
This inexplicably brief "research" paper presents an interesting physical world attack that may be easily deployed by a determined attacker to compromise many high-security access control systems in use today. Although this paper's findings are hardly groundbreaking (and in some ways, are downright obvious), it includes some cool pictures, and should be most certainly taken into account in risk management, secure zone planning, and when drafting operating procedures for high-risk areas. But most of all, I just wanted to share ;-)

In short, virtually all keypad entry systems - as used in various applications, including building access control, electronic lock safes, ATM input, etc - are susceptible to a trivial low-profile passphrase snooping scheme. This attack enables the attacker to quickly and unobtrusively recover previously entered passphrases with a high degree of success. This is in contrast to previously documented methods of keypad snooping; these methods were in general either highly intrusive - required close presence or installation of specialized hardware - or difficult to carry out and not very reliable (e.g., examining deposited fingerprints).

The attacker can perform the aforementioned attack by deploying an uncooled microbolometer thermal imaging (far infrared) camera within up to approximately five to ten minutes after valid keycode entry. Although this may sound outlandish, the heat transferred during split-second contact of individual keys with human body (even through, for example, gloves) is significant enough and dissipates slowly enough to make this possible after the area has been cleared of all personnel.

Furthermore, since the image can be acquired from a considerable distance (1-10 meters is easy to achieve), the attacker can afford to maintain a remarkably low profile through the process.
Here are two photos:
Kevin Aylward at Wizbang has more on the Z-Man's possible demise and has a few very interesting ideas and two very relevant links:
This isn't the first time that al-Zarqawi has reportedly been killed, so these initial reports should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. If al-Zarqawi is still alive one this is for cetain... his Jordanian family has, just this weekend, disowned him.

One fact in support of the theory that al-Zarqawi's luck may have finally run out is the vow from Jordan's King Abdullah II to "take the fight" to to the Jordanian born al-Zarqawi, who the Jordanian authorities have identified as the mastermind behind the deadly hotel bombings in Jordan November 9th. With active engagement from Jordan's security and intelligence forces it's not hard to believe that al-Zarqawi's location could have been pinpointed.
So methinks the Jordanian Hotel Bombing was not well received. It seems that the Washington Times is reporting a protest:
200,000 protest Amman attacks
At least 200,000 persons demonstrated yesterday against the recent bombings of three luxury hotels, while a new online statement attributed to terrorist leader Abu Musab Zarqawi defended the attacks and threatened to cut off the head of Jordan's King Abdullah II.

An anti-terrorist demonstration of such size is unprecedented in the Arab world, where Zarqawi, his mentor, Osama bin Laden, and their al Qaeda organization have attained folk-hero status among Muslim masses.

"Zarqawi, from Amman, we say to you: 'You are a coward,'" protesters chanted while brandishing banners with the names of their tribes from every part of Jordan.
The tide may well be turning. One thing that has always confounded me is the passivity and acceptance of terrorists by the moderate Islamists. Maybe they are finally growing some stones and standing up to the playground bullies.

Seattle Monorail Director Interview

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This is downright unreal. The Stranger's Erica C. Barnett interviewed Kristina Hill, the acting-chairwoman of the Monorail Board which is trying to keep the Monorail proposal alive after burning through The language Hill uses in print is political suicide and represents all that was wrong with the Monorail proposal. From The Stranger Transcript:
A Chilling Effect
A Q&A with Kristina Hill--Full Transcript

[The Stranger] What do you think the death of the monorail means for future infrastructure projects in Seattle?
[Hill] Seattle has just screwed itself in terms of getting big business to help with things.

[The Stranger] Last week, the city council sent the Seattle Monorail Project (SMP) a letter asking the agency not to sell off the property it bought for stations until the council can determine whether the city could use those properties for a future transit line. How did you feel when you got that letter?
[Hill] When you read the letter the tone�it is so fucked. Blow us off for three months and them write us that letter? They refused to meet with us!
The interview goes on and on like that. Here is one more excerpt:
[The Stranger] Do you think defending the $11 billion plan, rather than denouncing it, was a mistake?
[Hill] It was a total mistake because Seattle is basically an anti-intellectual town. I said to Joel, "What is the incremental cost of us borrowing in this way?" He hadn�t seen the $11 billion number. I think he said it was $1.7 billion in net present value and I said, "Oh, OK. Do you think it�s worth it?" And he said, "Yeah, I think it�s worth it." ...He genuinely believed that it was OK, and it�s not my field. So I believed it was OK. � But you can�t tell people about net present value on the radio in Seattle.
"Seattle is basically an anti-intellectual town" ?!?!?!?! 'Scuuuuuse me but this is just wrong. Seattle is a great bastion of academia and intellectualism. One only has to remember the ratio of Kerry signs to Bush signs (those not slashed or vandalized) a year ago to see this. Sure, Seattle doesn't have the culture of NYC but it only has one tenth the population. I found this link through the excellent Sound Politics Blog where Andy MacDonald had this to say:
Amateur on Parade
If there is anyone unconvinced the death of the monorail is a good thing, The Stranger's interview, A Chilling Effect, with acting-chairwoman Kristina Hill should change their minds. Hill's statements are the very opposite of professional. Her answer to the very first question is that "Seattle has just screwed itself." She then proceeds to give a profanity-laced interview, using the s-word three times and variations on the f-word no less than six. This is the behavior of the person the monorail board has chosen as their leader.

I can understand that Hill is angry after losing a battle she has fought for several years. But an employee of a public agency should not be cursing in interviews to the press, especially not the head of an agency. Civil servants -- in which I include elected and appointed officials -- should always strive to be exactly that: civil. A lowered standard of civility in public discourse has a corrosive effect on democracy. Eventually people feel they cannot talk to each other and only talk past each other. Then there is no way to reach the compromises that keep society whole.

But beyond the profanity, what really comes across is the monorail board's incredible naivete in the face of objections by elected officials. In answer to just about every question, Hill shows herself to be totally reliant on the goodwill of the mayor, and she still seems surprised that he acted in his own interests rather than in hers. People who make decisions based on wishful thinking you don't want in charge of multi-billion dollar public works projects.
I for one am glad to be out of there. Bellingham has a nice level of industry so with the exception of Pottery Supplies (forge materials for the metal work) and Plastics, I can find anything I need for any projects. Much lower taxes too...

Happy Birthday to Windows

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Twenty Years ago, Windows 1.0 was released. Marc Perton at downloadsquad celebrates by listing twenty facts about Microsoft Windows 1.0:
Windows at 20: 20 things you didn't know about Windows 1.0
Believe it or not, it's exactly 20 years since Microsoft released Windows 1.0. And, although the company is being fairly low-key in its celebrations of the event (except in Japan), I think it's worth commemorating. To celebrate the 20th, here are 20 facts about Windows 1.0:
  • Bill Gates wanted to call Windows 1.0 "Interface Manager." Marketing exec Rowland Hanson persuaded him that Windows was a better name.
  • Microsoft began work on Interface Manager in 1981, though at that point, it lacked a GUI and many of the other features that would later come to be associated with Windows.
  • Early prototypes of Interface Manager used menus at the bottom of the screen, which was consistent with the UI of Word for DOS and some other popular DOS programs.
  • Microsoft sent out a press kit featuring a squeegee and washcloth to announce the launch of Windows 1.0. The press kit was sent out in November 1983, a full two years before the program was eventually released.
  • In 1983, Microsoft pitched Windows as a potential GUI for Atari's ST computer. Atari, however, didn't want to wait for the program, and settled on Digital Research's GEM instead.
Been a long strange trip... Windows 2000 is nice and stable. XP is getting there.

The leadership of Bobby Mugabe

Charles at LGF points to this article regarding Zimbabwe's "President" Robert Mugabe. You might remember him as being the one who in five years, turned this nation from Africa's leading producer of food to a nation that cannot grow enough to feed its people... From The Guardian article:

Zimbabwe to Process Newly Found Uranium
President Robert Mugabe has said Zimbabwe will process recently discovered uranium deposits in order to resolve its chronic electrical power shortage, state radio said Sunday.

Mugabe, who has close ties with two countries with controversial nuclear programs, Iran and North Korea, made the announcement Saturday, the radio station reported.

It was not clear how Mugabe intended to use any uranium deposits since the country does not have a nuclear power plant.

Emphasis mine -- sheesh! Does he know how expensive that would be to set up? The Guardian article touches on Zimbabwe's economic plight:

Zimbabwe has been plagued by a chronic shortage of foreign exchange since Mugabe's seizure of 5,000 white owned farms and the collapse of an export-oriented agricultural industry. It currently has a daily 400 to 450 megawatt generation shortfall on requirements of 2,100 megawatts.

Zimbabwe has had great difficulty meeting bills from Mozambique, South Africa and Congo for imports from the regional electric power grid.

The CIA World Factbook has some stats on this Paradise-on-Earth: Life expectancy at birth: 39.13 years (2005 est.) GDP - real growth rate: -8.2% (2004 est.) Inflation rate: 133% (2004 est.) Electricity - production: 8.839 billion kWh (2002) Electricity - consumption: 11.22 billion kWh (2002) Take a look at these numbers averaged out for the entire planet: Life expectancy at birth: 64.33 years GDP - real growth rate: 4.9% (2004 est.) Inflation rate: Developed countries 1% to 4% typically; developing countries 5% to 60% typically...

And Carter and Clinton think he is just great. Bunch of maroons!

A response to the R.F.S.P. post

I had written earlier about Sir Banagor's epic rant and his followup. It seems that one of his readers complained... Here is Sir Banagor:
Idiotic Comment
Somebody (whose name I shall not mention, but apparently begins with Elaine) just commented today on my Really Fucking Stupid People piece with the following comment:
1. You are so hateful you must be very religious.
2. You might have an education, but it was wasted on you.
Just to note, as I�ve stated many times before, I am not religious. I am a complete atheist. Cultural heritage notwithstanding, I do not believe in God, Heaven, Hell, or anything supernatural. My �religion� is science, and my moral guidance is my love and respect for humanity and all of its great achievements. But do I believe in any sort of �Bible� with a higher being looking over me?


Do I respect some of those who do? Yes. That�s the difference. I respect religious people, perhaps not for their shared beliefs (which I do not entirely share), but for their outlook and, most importantly, how they act upon those beliefs. I don�t care which Bible or system somebody believes in, as long as it is a decent one and they do decent things for others.
Here is the money quote:
And yes, I do have an education. In fact, I used to be pretty far left on certain issues (though never, I might add, on Israel or the United States). But you see, Elaine (I can call you Elaine, can�t I?), I�m the product of your worst nightmares. I�m a traitor to the �leftist cause�. I woke the hell up. I went from Utopian idealist to Really Fucking Disillusioned Individual, mostly because the assholes blowing everyone up were being supported by the rest of my Utopian wide-eyed idealists who thought that putting silly little wilted flowers in the barrel of a gun was akin to some sort of profound philosophical statement about the world.
Read the whole thing...

Possible good news from Iraq

The Z-Man may be cooling down to room temperature.

From Powerline:

Speaking of Zarqawi
There's another report that he may be dead:
The Elaph Arab media website reported on Sunday that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq terror group, may have been killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred while coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding. American and Iraqi forces are looking into the report.
Fox News reported just minutes ago that the report has not been confirmed. Given how many times Zarqawi has already been rumored to be dead, and how many narrow escapes he's survived, I'm inclined to doubt it. The larger point, however, is that this is one more in a long series of successes against the terrorists: eight more of them have bitten the dust, probably based on intelligence received from the local population. If Zarqawi was among them, great; either way, it's good news.

This would be a good place for the 48-hour rule. We will be going in there to recover the bodies and the intelligence. Considering that he has been the "mastermind" behind the terrorist attacks, it would be good if he has gone to meet his 72 white raisins...

Light posting next few days

Jen and I are traveling to California tomorrow and will be there for the Thanksgiving Holidays. I have access to a computer down there but we will be doing family stuff so posting will be somewhat lighter than usual. Enjoy the holidays! Mmmm... Turkey!

The Glass Trick

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This is a Japanese film clip so the sound track is pretty much irrelevant (for me) but the magician puts David Blane to shame. This guy does three sets of closeup magic with glass tabletops that are very well done. I think I have the first and the last figured out but the salt shaker is a good one... View here

Cool design

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From Ars Technica comes this story about a laptop developed at MIT for use in the Third World. Cost to manufacture -- about $100. Power source -- a hand crank. Toy? -- definitely NOT! From the MIT Press Release:
Annan presents prototype $100 laptop at World Summit on Information Society
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan unveiled the first working prototype of the $100 laptop Nov. 16 at the World Summit on the Information Society in Tunis, Tunisia. Annan was joined by Nicholas Negroponte, chairman and co-founder of the Media Lab at MIT, in presenting the laptop to the gathering.

The $100 laptop, first announced by Negroponte at the World Economic Forum in January 2005, is an ultra-low-cost, full-featured computer designed to dramatically enhance children's primary and secondary education worldwide. It is the central project of the nonprofit One Laptop per Child (OLPC) association, which aims to equip the world's schoolchildren and their teachers with a personal, portable, connected computer.

"The $100 laptop is inspiring in many respects," said Annan. "It is an impressive technical achievement, able to do almost everything that larger, more expensive computers can do. It holds the promise of major advances in economic and social development. But perhaps most important is the true meaning of 'one laptop per child.' This is not just a matter of giving a laptop to each child, as if bestowing on them some magical charm. The magic lies within -- within each child, within each scientist-, scholar-, or just plain citizen-in-the-making. This initiative is meant to bring it forth into the light of day."
Awesome -- the tech specs look really good too. A small machine and slow but enough to really work -- not a toy.

Intelligent design

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Hat tip to Roger L. Simon for this link to Charles Krauthammer's excellent dismantling of Intelligent Design:
Phony Theory, False Conflict
'Intelligent Design' Foolishly Pits Evolution Against Faith

Because every few years this country, in its infinite tolerance, insists on hearing yet another appeal of the Scopes monkey trial, I feel obliged to point out what would otherwise be superfluous: that the two greatest scientists in the history of our species were Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein, and they were both religious.

Newton's religion was traditional. He was a staunch believer in Christianity and a member of the Church of England. Einstein's was a more diffuse belief in a deity who set the rules for everything that occurs in the universe.

Neither saw science as an enemy of religion. On the contrary. "He believed he was doing God's work," James Gleick wrote in his recent biography of Newton. Einstein saw his entire vocation -- understanding the workings of the universe -- as an attempt to understand the mind of God.
And down the page a bit -- the money quote:
Let's be clear. Intelligent design may be interesting as theology, but as science it is a fraud. It is a self-enclosed, tautological "theory" whose only holding is that when there are gaps in some area of scientific knowledge -- in this case, evolution -- they are to be filled by God. It is a "theory" that admits that evolution and natural selection explain such things as the development of drug resistance in bacteria and other such evolutionary changes within species but also says that every once in a while God steps into this world of constant and accumulating change and says, "I think I'll make me a lemur today." A "theory" that violates the most basic requirement of anything pretending to be science -- that it be empirically disprovable. How does one empirically disprove the proposition that God was behind the lemur, or evolution -- or behind the motion of the tides or the "strong force" that holds the atom together?

Link Wray R.I.P.

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He was living in Copenhagen for the last 20 years so there is no mention of his passing in the US Media yet but he is gone. Wikipedia has a nice writeup of his career and notes his passing. One of the more influential guitarists out there... via a private email list...

Workplace accidents

Some things you should not drop:

You will be Politically Correct

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The South African Independent Online has an article about this phenomenon which has gotten way too much traction in the last fifteen years or so:
Most politically correct words of 2005
In 2005, some people wanted the word "brainstorming" replaced by "thought shower" so as not to offend people with brain disorders, and they also wanted "deferred success" to replace "failure" so as not to embarrass those who don't succeed.

Both phrases appear on a tongue-in-cheek list released on Thursday of the year's most politically correct words and phrases issued by Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit group that monitors language use.

The phrase that topped this year's list was "misguided criminals," one of several terms the BBC used so as not to use the word "terrorist" in describing those who carried out train and bus bombings in London that killed 52 people in July, according to Paul JJ Payack, the head of Global Language Monitor.

He added, "The BBC attempts to strip away all emotion by using what it considers 'neutral' descriptions when describing those who carried out the bombings in the London Tubes."

Second on the list was "Intrinsic Aptitude," a phrase used by Harvard University President Lawrence Summers to explain why women might be underrepresented in engineering and science.

The phrase met with "deferred success" and Summers had to fight to keep to his job.

"Thought shower" was third and a French word for riff-raff or scum, "la racaille," was fourth thanks to being used by French Interior Minister Nicholas Sarkozy to describe rioters of Muslim and North African descent in suburbs outside of Paris.

"Out of the mainstream," which Payack said was used to describe the ideology of any political opponent, was fifth and in sixth place was "deferred success" the euphemism for "fail" that the Professional Association of Teachers considered using to bolster students' "self-esteem."

The move met with "deferred success."

The Republican Party

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Great comment from The Gun Guy about the Republican Party:
Quote Of The Day
In reporting conservative unhappiness with the Stupid Party, an offhand comment by Insty has stuck with me for the past few days:
"It�s almost as if the Republicans want to go back to being the minority party."
You know, on a very few occasions, in academia veritas�and this is one of those times.

I have a feeling that Republicans are not comfortable being the government (although I except a few from the generalization). This is unsurprising, because a party which has a foundation principle of limiting government may have cognitive dissonance in the practice thereof. This would explain a lot of things about the Stupid Party: their passivity towards rabid Democrat political attacks; their ham-handed use of the levers of power, and their clumsy formulation of domestic policy. (Foreign policy, of course, is another matter�that�s not so much governance as self-defense�and in this arena, it�s the Evil Party who are the clowns.)

The Democrats, of course, are all about power, and and they are quite comfortable in governing, especially when the form of that government is ever-increasing control of the population�s behavior and even thought.

But I would suggest that it�s well past time for the Stupid Party to start getting comfortable with the exercise of power, at least on the domestic front. Their opposition is neither loyal nor sporting, and the sooner Republicans realize that, the better off we�ll all be.
What he said...

Light posting tonight

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Working on a local non-profit website so posting will be a bit thin.

Sir Richard Branson pushing the envelope again

Sir Richard Branson was one of the people who funded Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites successful claim of the X-Prize with Space Ship One.

Now he is looking at developing an eco-friendly jet fuel.

The Independent Online/Reuters has the story:

Branson's Virgin to go green with jet fuel
Tired of skyrocketing jet fuel prices, Virgin Atlantic Airways boss Richard Branson has said he plans to turn his back on hydrocarbons and use plant waste to power his fleet.

"We are looking for alternative fuel sources. We are going to start building cellulosic ethanol plants (to make) fuel that is derived from the waste product of the plant," he told Reuters in an interview in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates (UAE).

"It is 100 percent environmentally friendly and I believe it's the future of fuel, and over the next 20 or 30 years I think it actually will replace the conventional fuel that you get out of the ground."

I love his choice of venue for that announcement!

Jen was saying earlier that this is a perfect example of the benefits of a privately-held corporation. They can afford to bet a good chunk of the company on a new technology. Publicly-held corporations need to kowtow to their stockholders so they tend to be very cautious.

Baby steps.

Tesla's 150th Birthday coming up!

Nikola Tesla was born on July 10th, 1856 in Croatia. The Croatian government is honoring this by turning his house into a museum. The Seattle Post Intelligencer has the story:
Croatia to mark Tesla's 150th birthday
Croatia in 2006 will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nikola Tesla, an ethnic Serb who did pioneering work in electricity in the United States in late 19th and early 20th century, the country's parliament decided Thursday.

The government will finance the finishing of restoration of Tesla's home in a village in central Croatia and turn it into a museum. Conferences and lectures on Tesla's work are also planned.

Tesla, born in 1856 to Serbian parents, studied and worked across Europe, eventually settling in New York in 1885, where he lived until his death in 1943. He was awarded patents on every aspect of the modern system for generating and distributing electricity - including in radio and the modern concept of radar - and experts see his work as being as important as that of Alexander Graham Bell.
Cool -- That would be a fun conference to go to but there is a major blacksmithing conference in Seattle then and I will be there. Tesla is an interesting character. Not that many people know about him and a lot of people are tying his name in with a lot of pseudo-science bunko. Tesla invented a few things you may be familiar with. The system of electrical power distribution that we use still to this day. (60Hz, polyphase), the synchronous electric motor, the fluorescent light, radio (the US Patent for Radio was taken away from Marconi and given to Tesla by the US Supreme Court.) -- several years before Marconi sent the "S" across the Atlantic Ocean, Tesla demonstrated at the Chicago exposition a radio controlled boat that would turn left and right, stop and start, flash lights and submerge and surface, all by radio control. He was producing shadowgraphs before Roentgen discovered X-Rays and there is the possibility that in his Colorado Springs lab, he was bouncing radio waves off the moon (he got the times right for the echo return anyway.) Just another crank...

Peak Oil

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Kuwait's ride might be coming to a slow end. From Middle East News Online comes this story:
Kuwait's Largest Field Disappoints
Kuwait's largest oil field has exhausted its potential.

The Kuwait Oil Co. said production at its Burgan field has peaked at 1.7 million barrels per day. Company chairman Farouk Al Zanki said Burgan, termed the second largest oil field in the world, failed to meet expectations to produce two million barrels of oil per day.

The well has been pumping oil for nearly 60 years and accounts for more than half of Kuwait's proven oil reserves. Burgan had been expected to produce two million barrels per day until 2045.

Officials said Kuwait intends to invest $3 million in 2006 to bolster output from other fields. One area targeted for development was fields in the northern sheikdom near the Iraqi border.
That has to suck. The Kuwaiti's are our friends. I wonder what the status of the Saudi fields is -- they are not open about that for some strange reason...

A bull in a China Shop.

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'Ya gotta love President Bush's recent trip to China. China does not exactly have a stellar record regarding child labor, human rights, women's rights, minorities rights, etc. etc. etc. I had written earlier that Bush had met with the Dali Lama prior to Bush's meeting with Hu Jintao and that the Chinese had officially groused about this. Now, when he was in Busan, South Korea, he had a few words about Taiwan. MyWay/AP has the story:
Bush Hails Taiwan As Model of Freedom
Piquing China just days before meetings with its leaders, U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday held up the self-governing island of Taiwan that Beijing claims as its own as a model of freedom "at all levels" that the communist giant should emulate.

Bush's speech opening a four-country tour of Asia amounted to a road map of the coming discussions he was to have on a potential bird flu outbreak, global trade, North Korea's nuclear ambitions and other issues at a gathering of Pacific Rim economies in South Korea.

Bush arrived in Busan, South Korea, on Wednesday night for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit and a one-on-one meeting with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun. The president met with his closest Asian ally, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, in Kyoto, Japan, earlier Wednesday and was traveling to China and Mongolia over the weekend.

In remarks sure to irritate his Chinese hosts, Bush prodded the communist nation to grant basic freedoms to its 1.3 billion people and further open its economy.
President Bush meets with Hu Jintao in a few days -- I would love to be a fly on that wall. Heh...

Treasure Ship Found

Awesome but very sad too.

From the Halifax Nova Scotia Daily News:

Ship's secrets up for grabs
Filmmaker wants to record historic Fantome before she's raked for treasure

A documentary filmmaker says he should be allowed to film an historic shipwreck before treasure hunters damage the site.

John Wesley Chisholm, president of Halifax-based Arcadia Entertainment, said the province is permitting treasure hunters to visit the resting place of HMS Fantome.

"What we're asking for is that the province shut down the treasure-trove licence and the Treasure Trove Act altogether, because it's an anachronism and just doesn't make sense in a modern age," said Chisholm.

Chisholm wants his application for a heritage research permit fast-tracked. He applied Monday under the Special Places Act.

Treasure hunters can take what they like from shipwrecks. After getting a permit under the Treasure Trove Act, they pay 10 per cent in royalties to the government and then sell the artifacts as they wish.

"So it's not beyond reason to have this kind of stuff end up on EBay in partnership with the government of Nova Scotia," Chisholm said.

And the treasure in question:

He said the Fantome was loaded with loot from the White House, which British troops burned in August 1814. The ship was heading home to Halifax with a convoy when it lost its way in a vicious storm.

Emphasis mine -- WOW! An awesome find but I worry that the treasure-hunters will destroy through ignorance artifacts that are "less valuable" to them but have significant historical value. I am surprised that the USA has not asked Canada to hold off for a bit...

Animated Knots

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Awesome website for learning about various Knots and their uses. The author -- Grog -- has animations of various common knots grouped by utility (Boating, Climbing, Fishing) as well as a page on Rope Care. Check out Animated Knots

Another rant from Sir Banagor

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Two weeks ago, Sir Banagor delivered an excellent rant -- blogged about it here.

Now he focuses his attention on Islam and lets fly with another epic rant:

You Want to Kill a Muslim Really Fast?
That caught your attention, didn't it? I mean the title. Well, it's obviously true: they're fucking pigs and scumbags. In fact, anyone who defends Saudi Arabia in any way is a complete fucking asshole in my book.

He then cites this little news entry:

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (Reuters) - A court sentenced a teacher to 40 months in prison and 750 lashes for "mocking religion" after he discussed the Bible and praised Jews, a Saudi newspaper reported yesterday.

Al-Madina newspaper said secondary-school teacher Mohammad al-Harbi, who will be flogged in public, was taken to court by his colleagues and students.

Banagor continues:

You have to wonder: what good has Saudi Arabia ever produced? Hell, with trash like this, no wonder people like me are becoming anti-Islamic. I know, I know, people go on about how Islam was once an enlightened religion et al (*cough*Bullshit), but I have to ask: what the fuck have they done for the world lately?

Even taking into account the wild theories that they invented algebra and powered flight, not to mention discovering America, what the fuck are they doing now? Are they of any actual human value?

I'm sorry if this comes off a little rough, but I'm pissed off. I'm sick to death of people telling me that we have to understand them and listen to their grievances. How about they try to understand us for a while? Have they ever? Or are the people telling me that I have to be more sensitive to their values simply saying this because they, deep inside where the sunlight never shines, believe as I do: the Muslim world is made up of a bunch of fucking savages who have never evolved beyond the stone age?

I mean really.

You see millions of fucking asshole devout Muslims marching in the streets and killing Christians and Jews at every opportunity at whatever slight against Islam that they perceive, and yet it's absolutely perfectly fucking fine to whip a guy nearly to death in their country for even suggesting that Jews are an A.O.K. group of people.

And the title of the rant:

You want to kill a Muslim really fast? Put him in an empty room and tell him that there is a Jew hiding behind him. Watch him blow the fuck up.

Heh -- so so true. Their culture is ruled by shame and fear. They project one thing but practice another, say one thing to the western media but say entirely different things from the pulpits of their Mosques. Time to grow up kiddies and start assimilating with the rest of the planet.

Charles Krauthammer on France

Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for this link to an essay by Charles Krauthammer on the present 'troubles' in France. The essay appears on Time's website:

What the Uprising Generation Wants
France's underclass is tired of being shut out. And time is on their side

The gendarmes have weapons. The kids they face in the street have mostly stones and Molotov cocktails. It is a mismatch. But it's the cops who are the heavy underdogs--the cops and the France that the cops alone represent in those burning godforsaken ghettos where most Frenchmen dare not go.

On the one side are the protester-arsonists, many if not most of them Muslim, whom the Interior Minister called racaille (rabble)--young, restless, violent, vibrant, angry, jobless, envious and fecund. And on the other side is an aged and exhausted civilization, the hollowed-out core of European Christendom, static, aging, contented, coddled, passive and literally without faith. Who would you think will win in the end?

If you needed a snapshot of the balance of forces in this civilizational struggle taking place in France, consider only the incomprehension and inertness of the official French response. The President didn't say a word for 10 days. The state of emergency wasn't declared until Day 13. Meanwhile, the Interior Minister and Prime Minister offered dueling slogans and empty promises, with an eye more on their upcoming presidential contest than on the fire this time.

And the money quote:

As the French seem to learn every 70 years, appeasement does not work. It merely whets the appetite. And the angry alien young were already hungry.

The whole essay is quite good -- go and read it if you have a few minutes to spare.

John Bolton - the UN's future

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I have written about John Bolton several times (here are two). Here is his latest on the United Nations from the Washington Times:
Can the U.S. find a substitute for the U.N.?

America's representative at the United Nations said yesterday that the organization must become better at solving problems and more responsive to U.S. concerns or Washington will seek other venues for international action.

During a luncheon with reporters and editors at The Washington Times, U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton said repeatedly that the Bush administration requires nothing less than "a revolution of reform" at the world body, encompassing everything from U.N. Security Council engagement to management changes to a focus on administrative skills in choosing the next secretary-general.

The United Nations, he said, "has got to be a place to solve problems that need solving, rather than a place where problems go, never to emerge."
And a bit more:
"The U.N. is one of many competitors in a marketplace of global problem solving," Mr. Bolton said. That realization "should be an incentive for the organization to reform."

One alternative, he said, is for regional organizations to play a larger role. He praised the Organization of American States for its work in Haiti and said he would like the African Union to take on greater responsibilities in Africa.

Mr. Bolton, who has been directly or indirectly involved in U.N. affairs since the Reagan administration, said he has found little surprising in his 3� months in Turtle Bay.

"It's exactly what I expected," he said. "It does move in many ways that lead you to think it's caught in a time warp, with discussions they could have had in the '60s, '70s, '80s."

Referring to obsolete mandates and bodies, he said: "Even though the Cold War is over and many of these issues are over, frankly, the mind-set in the U.N. complex hasn't changed much. I don't think that it's a philosophical point of view. ... There is a culture of inaction."
Classic -- one begins to understand why so many liberals and democrats heads exploded when Bush handed him the ambassadorship.

Large Lathe

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Been surfing for articles on CNC while planning the conversion of my new Mill over to computer control. Ran into this one about a company that built a large metal lathe -- I mean LARGE! From Manufacturing Center:
'Monster' Lathe Built From WWII Machines
To accomplish some jobs, more creativity than normal is needed. In this case, a Rochester, NY shop created a new lathe with a 100' bed from 60-year old parts.

Machine Tool Research, Inc. (MTR), a special machinery builder and rebuilder, has taken TV�s "Monster Garage" theme to a new, larger scale. It created a monster lathe to assist a supplier of long, ship shafts for the U.S. Navy.

A supplier of ship shafts to the U.S. government turned to MTR to work with them to prepare a lathe to meet both a tight timetable and budget.

MTR developed the concept of a "Monster Garage" approach to lathes by combining the good elements of several machines to create a machine capable of better performance than any of the original lathes.

"Our customer presented a difficult challenge that meant all disciplines from engineering to assembly had to work concurrently to meet the tight schedule with a low budget," says John Blawski, executive vice president of MTR.

Niles Lathes

MTR took two World War II vintage Niles lathes and creatively combined bed sections to create a nearly 100' bed to support the ship shafts. While two beds had decent hard ways, the third bed had badly worn ways, which MTR matched and replaced. All three beds were machined to match on all guide surfaces for tailstock and carriage, including rack and feedback mountings, on MTR�s CNC planer mill.

The headstock and tailstock came from a scrapped Farrel lathe. These elements were old and had been abused in a steel plant, but MTR was able to rebuild and make them fit the new bed. The spindle runout is very important on ship shafts, and MTR was able to adjust the head to 0.0002" TIR, while the tailstock needed new bearings to achieve this runout.
They have a picture of this puppy. Note the guy on the platform and the rails along the floor under the platform -- that entire structure is the cross-slide and toolpost. The guy rides along as the toolpost travels down the stock. That is big!


Open Source Media

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I wrote yesterday about how Pajamas Media was launching today. Meet Open Source Media. The "Pajamas" reference comes from the President of CNN saying:
"These bloggers have no checks and balances... You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances [at 60 Minutes] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing."
The initial flap at CNN was over Rather's insistence that the Texas Air National Guard memo about Bush was authentic. Someone (I don't have the name to hand) alerted Charles Johnson, one of the founders of Pajamas Media to some typographic discrepancies. Charles typed the text of the Memo into Microsoft Word on MAC OS X using the out-of-the-box default settings for Word. He then overlaid this with the image of the memo that CNN published on their website. Here is the animation:
Hey MSM! Wake up and smell the cappuccino! This will be fun to see...

Big Doings!

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Pajamas Media From National Review Online:
Pajama-Clad Revolutionaries
Bloggers get organized.

A year ago, Jonathan Klein, current president of CNN, airily dismissed the bloggers who dethroned Dan Rather. "These bloggers have no checks and balances... You couldn't have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances [at 60 Minutes] and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing."
Well, some Bloggers took umbrage and formed Pajamas Media. They managed to sign up some amazing talent, raise $3.5 Million of Venture Capital and they are launching Wednesday, November 19th. From Yahoo News/AP:
Web Site to Blend Journalism With Blogs
A media Web site scheduled to debut Wednesday will seek to blend traditional journalism with the freeform commentary developed through the emerging Web format known as blogs.

Some 70 Web journalists, including Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds and David Corn, Washington editor of the Nation magazine, have agreed to participate in OSM � short for Open Source Media.

OSM will link to individual blog postings and highlight the best contributions, chosen by OSM editors, in a special section. Bloggers will be paid undisclosed sums based on traffic they generate.

The ad-supported OSM site will also carry news feeds from Newstex, which in turn receives stories from The Associated Press, Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service and other traditional media organizations.

"We're deliberately trying to do something new by affiliating blog and mainstream people," said Roger L. Simon, a blogger and the venture's co-founder.
Hey MSM! Wake up and smell the cappuccino! This will be fun to see...

Light blogging tonight

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Working on a website for a local non-profit. I'll post some cool stuff in an hour or so.

Earthquake in Japan

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Came home from Welding Class to see that there has been a major quake (7.1 Richter) in Japan; off the East Coast of Honshu. Fortunately, the tsunami was a small one -- surfable. MyWay/AP has the story:
Strong Earthquake Rattles Northern Japan
A powerful earthquake shook northern Japan early Tuesday, and small tsunami waves struck coastal towns about 200 miles from the epicenter. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 7.1, hit at 6:39 a.m. (4:39 p.m. Monday EST) and was centered just below the ocean bottom off the east coast of Japan's main island of Honshu, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

Small tsunami waves measuring 12 and 20 inches hit the coastal city of Ofunato and smaller waves hit at least four other towns. Tsunami waves - generated by earthquakes - are often barely noticeable in the ocean but can rise to great heights once they arrive at shore.

Ross Stein, a geophysicist with the USGS in Menlo Park, Calif., said the swell amounted to "a surfable tsunami."

The quake hit at a depth of about 18 miles and was centered off the coast of Sanriku in northern Japan, 330 miles east of Tokyo, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It shook buildings across a wide area across northern and eastern Honshu, including Tokyo, and Hokkaido.

Australian terrorists

More information is starting to trickle out about the Islamofascist pig-dogs who were recently arrested in Australia. From MyWay/Reuters:

Sydney nuclear reactor terror plot target-police
Eight Sydney men arrested on terrorism charges may have been planning a bomb attack against the city's nuclear reactor, police said on Monday.

Their Islamic spiritual leader, also charged with terrorism offences, told the men if they wanted to die for jihad they should inflict "maximum damage," according to a 21-page police court document.

The document outlines how the men, arrested last week in the nation's biggest security swoop, bought chemicals used in the London July 7 bombs, had bomb-making instructions in Arabic and videos entitled "Sheikh Osama's Training Course" and "Are you ready to die?"

Under the heading "Targets," police said three of the men were stopped near Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor in December 2004. A security gate lock had recently been cut.

And more:

Police said the Sydney men had bought chemicals to produce "peroxide-based explosives" and had a computer memory stick containing instructions in Arabic to make explosives.

Between August and November 2005 the Sydney men had bought or ordered hundreds of liters of chemicals, steel drums, batteries, plastic piping, circuit kits, stopwatches and ammunition.

Police said during raids on the men's homes they seized chemicals, boxes of ammunition and firearms, machetes, samurai swords and books, cassettes and videos on terrorism and jihad.

During Benbrika's Melbourne court appearance last week, police said the cleric called bin Laden a "great man" that defends Muslims fighting U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Police told the court that one man had expressed a desire to become a "martyr" in Australia.

The peroxide-based explosive is probably TATP -- much loved by suicide bombers everywhere. Richard Ried, the guy who tried to blow up an airplane with his shoes was using it. Nasty stuff...

Price Fixing

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An interesting article in the News Telegraph about price fixing among top-level British Prep Schools. (Over there, "Public Schools" are what we call Private Schools -- they are funded by the student's families or scholarships.)
Revealed: how two boys blew whistle on the public school fees 'cartel'
It started after prep one evening. Two mischievous 15-year-olds had managed to hack into the school computer and, bored by humdrum e-mails, were reaching for the "off" button when a file marked "confidential" stopped them in their tracks.

It ended last week with 50 of the country's most prestigious private schools, including Eton, Harrow and Westminster, facing multi-million pound fines after a two-year investigation by the Office of Fair Trading found them guilty of fee collusion and running a price-fixing "cartel".
A bit more:
Correspondence dated November 2001 revealed that Sevenoaks School, Kent, was regularly sending e-mails to bursars around the country providing information on intended fee hikes in an exercise know as the "Sevenoaks Survey".

Reading a line in one e-mail from Bill Organ, Winchester's then bursar, "Confidential, please, so we aren't accused of being a cartel", brought a sudden rush of realisation to the boys, soon to become whistle-blowers.

"I saw fellow classmates having to leave the school because their parents couldn't afford the fees," said Danny.

"At one point my parents, who struggled to keep me at public school, faced an increase in my fees from �10,000 to nearly �15,000 because Winchester, and other schools, thought they could get away with it."

The boys stored the explosive information on a secret laptop. It included an e-mail, dated January 2003, from Stephen Taylor, the bursar of Uppingham, showing bursars' fee predictions. The suggested rises of between six and eight per cent were well above inflation. This was followed by a more comprehensive survey by Julian Patrick, the Sevenoaks bursar, covering fee expectations from 51 schools including Ampleforth, Charterhouse, Cheltenham Ladies' College, Eton, Gordonstoun, Marlborough, Millfield and Wycombe Abbey.

In an e-mail Mr Patrick said: "I believe some bursars may have revised their estimates or have fixed their fees for 2003/04. In my own case I have revised the estimate of day fee increases from nine per cent to 11 per cent."
Hmmm - no mention of Hogwarts in there...

Michael Jackson - now Dubai's problem.

Charles at LGF points to this article in the U.A.E. Khaleej Times:

Michael Jackson's toilet faux pas in Dubai
When she went to the ladies washroom in the Egyptian Court of Ibn Battuta Mall at 9.30 last night, 37-year old Latifa M. never imagined that she would come face to face with pop icon Michael Jackson, who walked in dressed in a T-shirt and trousers, with his head covered with the Emirati women's traditional head scarf Sheila.

The Tunisian, who is a teacher in a private school in Dubai, screamed in shock and ran out of the ladies room when she realised that the woman-like person was a man. She went back in to photograph the pop singer with her mobile phone, while he was busy fixing his make up.

This time it was the turn of Michael Jackson who ran after the Ajman-based teacher, to retrieve the pictures. The scene attracted the security of the mall, who tried to take the phone from Latifa, but she refused and asked for compensation, while the two women accompanying Jackson tried to convince her to sit in private and settle the issue.

And the upshot:

While Latifa insisted on compensation, Jackson flatly refused to pay up. The police informed Latifa that the UAE laws do not entitle her to any financial gain from the situation and they convinced her to hand over the mobile, which she did after erasing the photos for the fear of being penalised.

Nice misogynist society there -- the woman has no rights to gain from this situation and she was persuaded to hand over her phone. Those would have been some fun pictures to spread around the internet.

Yeah riiight...

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Meet the Gasifier -- Washington Post has the story:

'Gasifier' Promoted As Energy Answer
Machine Designed To Run on Sewage And Garbage

D.C. Council member Marion Barry and comedian-activist Dick Gregory stood in a Southeast Washington parking lot yesterday to unveil a giant machine that they said has the power to transform the world.

The contraption looked like something that would incite a call to 911. Metal pipes and wires led to a two-story-tall black metal chimney, which led to more metal pipes that were connected to electric motors and high-tech doodads and dials. The inventor, Simon Romana, called the machine a "gasifier" and said it can use garbage or sewage to create pollution-free electricity and drinking water.

"As a native, I'm not a polluter," said Romana, a member of an indigenous tribe in New Zealand.

Romana said he and his investors, which include members of native American and Canadian tribes, built the demonstration machine for $1 million and trucked it from Canada to the District so diplomats, federal officials and sewage experts could see for themselves. But because of objections from the Rev. Willie F. Wilson, pastor of the church near the demonstration site, the machine was not turned on yesterday.

A bit more:

Gregory, who introduced the inventor to Barry, agreed. "You're looking at something that is going to revolutionize the whole world," Gregory said.

However, neither Barry nor Gregory has seen the machine operate.

And a bit about Gasification:

Gasification uses heat, steam and pressure to convert biodegradable matter into a gas, which is then cooled and scrubbed of impurities. Romana said his machine burns waste at 3,200 degrees Fahrenheit, creating the gas as well as distilled water as a byproduct and nontoxic ash -- all in a plant that is within federal air-quality standards.

Some sewage gasification plants use coal and wood as fuel to produce energy, and some large incinerators produce energy as well. Romana said the advantage of his machine is that it burns hotter and cleaner. How? He declined to say, calling it his "magic" secret.

I think the only "hot air" here is what's coming from Mr. Romana's cake hole. In April 2003, Discovery magazine touted a similar thing which took turkey guts from a nearby processing plant and could turn them into a hydrocarbon soup from which oil could be extracted. Unfortunately, the process is a net energy sink and it doesn't scale -- after all, who produces 600 Million Tons of turkey guts each year -- the USA sure doesn't but that was the number they were flashing around. Gregory Hlatky at Dogs Life writes:

Everyone has been oohing and ahhing over this article which describes a process for turning "anything into oil." While I can't say I'm an expert on the subject, at least I've read the patents on the process (U.S. 5,269,947, U.S. 5,360,553 and U.S. 5,543,061) and have at least a nodding acquaintance with petrochemical processes. Permit me to say that I'm skeptical that this can produce "4 billion barrels of light Texas crude each year."

Let's start by saying that it won't convert "anything into oil." Certainly, the process assumes a carbonaceous feedstock. The first step of the process mixes the feedstock with water, which serves as a process medium to heat the feedstock evenly. Under air-free conditions the slurry is forced through an auger to subject it to high pressure and shear. Entering a heated (about 900 degrees Fahrenheit) low pressure environment, the water is evaporated along with any volatile hydrocarbons and the solids fall out and are collected or go onto further refinement. This kind of "heating and beating" is not much different than that practiced in refineries on crude oil. The novelty of the process is what appears to be an efficient method of driving the water from sodden reactants (life byproducts or liquid municipal waste).

I'm extremely skeptical when the article says that halogenated materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are converted to "relatively benign" hydrochloric acid. Well, in a perfect world the gasoline in your tank is converted only to "relatively benign" carbon dioxide and water. Engines are less than perfectly efficient as we know and produce carbon monoxide, NOx, and other pollutants in the exhaust. So unless the process converts PVC efficiently, it's going to produce volatile halogenated hydrocarbons, which no one wants in the air.

And a bit more:

There's also a question of scale. The capacity of the Carthage, Missouri plant is stated to be 200 tons of turkey waste per day, and that's for a huge ConAgra turkey processing center. Compare that to the capacity of a typical refinery, which processes some 320,000 barrels of crude per day or some 45,000 tons (42 gallons per barrel and assuming a density of 6.5 pounds per gallon). For our themal depolymerization process, how can you get enough waste feedstock for a world-scale plant and the efficiencies attendant thereto? As Cap'n Steve suggests, you can't.

And really, you just don't get a lot of energy out of a ton of turkey waste compared to a ton of carbon-based feedstock. A ton of coal produces 20.48 million BTU of energy. A ton of turkey waste (using the man in the story as a benchmark) would produce about 450 pounds of oil, or about 70 gallons, or around 10 million BTU, a figure that agrees well with the DOE figure of 12 million BTU per ton from poultry litter. Why buy a cow when you can get milk at the store? For sheer bang per pound (and dollar), oil, natural gas and coal are hard to beat.

So -- energy sink, not enough feedstock, doesn't scale. SO what do you do? You talk big, impress the backer and hope to walk away with enough money. Of course, taking this to a bonded testing lab (which would have pay a huge fee if someone let the secret out) and have them check the process out is not gonna happen. Nor does Romana seem to have any background in energy systems (Google is strangely quiet). Could not happen to a nicer city than WA DC...

Kerry v/s Bush? Nope. Guess then. At The Chaser comes this report:
French claim Paris riots �more cultured� than American riots
French authorities have hit back at international claims they are not doing enough to stem worsening violence in the Parisian suburbs, claiming that French rioting is �richer� than recent problems in the UK and US.

�Unrest after the New Orleans hurricane showed America to be deeply divided country � on the one hand the wealthiest nation on earth, but still blighted with an underclass unable to escape a cycle of poverty and desperation,� said President Jacques Chirac. �It�s a rather clich�d motif. The variety of tensions leading to cars being set on fire here is much more nuanced, and ultimately more morally profound.�
And yes, "The Chaser" is an Australian satire site but this is sooo close to the truth that it's funny.

Denis Prager's Five Questions

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Dennis is writing in the LA Times:
Five questions non-Muslims would like answered
The rioting in France by primarily Muslim youths and the hotel bombings in Jordan are the latest events to prompt sincere questions that law-abiding Muslims need to answer for Islam's sake, as well as for the sake of worried non-Muslims.

Here are five of them:

(1) Why are you so quiet?
Since the first Israelis were targeted for death by Muslim terrorists blowing themselves up in the name of your religion and Palestinian nationalism, I have been praying to see Muslim demonstrations against these atrocities. Last week's protests in Jordan against the bombings, while welcome, were a rarity. What I have seen more often is mainstream Muslim spokesmen implicitly defending this terror on the grounds that Israel occupies Palestinian lands. We see torture and murder in the name of Allah, but we see no anti-torture and anti-murder demonstrations in the name of Allah.

There are a billion Muslims in the world. How is it possible that essentially none have demonstrated against evils perpetrated by Muslims in the name of Islam? This is true even of the millions of Muslims living in free Western societies. What are non-Muslims of goodwill supposed to conclude? When the Israeli government did not stop a Lebanese massacre of Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatilla refugee camps in Lebanon in 1982, great crowds of Israeli Jews gathered to protest their country's moral failing. Why has there been no comparable public demonstration by Palestinians or other Muslims to morally condemn Palestinian or other Muslim-committed terror?

(2) Why are none of the Palestinian terrorists Christian?
If Israeli occupation is the reason for Muslim terror in Israel, why do no Christian Palestinians engage in terror? They are just as nationalistic and just as occupied as Muslim Palestinians.
The other three are just as good. The website also has a little bit about who Dennis Prager is:
As a member of the media for nearly 25 years, I have a long record of reaching out to Muslims. Muslim leaders have invited me to speak at major mosques. In addition, I have studied Arabic and Islam, have visited most Arab and many other Muslim countries and conducted interfaith dialogues with Muslims in the United Arab Emirates as well as in the U.S. Politically, I have supported creation of a Palestinian state and supported (mistakenly, I now believe) the Oslo accords.
His website is here: Dennis Prager

Mumar Gathafi speaks...

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Libyan leader Mumar Gathafi has a website and it is not that bad! Gathafi (or al-Qaddafi) did a wonderful thing a few years ago in 2003 when he stopped Libya's WMD program and allowed an international team to come in and mop up. He not only had conventional chemical weapons but he had a well-advanced nuclear program too. We reciprocated by dropping the embargo and allowing US Citizens to travel there. Libya has been flourishing ever since. Here is what Gathafi has to say about United Nations Reform:
Much in internationally said these days about the reform of UN and democracy �. Such slogans are popular ones that nobody refuses, except a dictator or a reactionary. the dictator rejects democracy and the reactionary rejects reforms, but the whole issue would be unacceptable to all if it is just an issue of propaganda or eclecticism, i.e a rightful word steered for false hood.

In other words, to achieve other objectives and not reform and democracy. If we are serious in tackling with reform an democracy on the international level, we have to start with reform of the head of the world and to achieve democracy therein. The head of the world is UN organization . the UN General Assembly is the haven of the world parliament. Unless we reform the world parliament and make it a democratic one, it is unacceptable to respond to nay demand for reform and democratization of a demostic parliament or government anywhere in the world. But who to reform the General Assembly ( the World Parliament ) and make it a democratic one.
And a bit more:
The proposal submitted by UN Secretary General is not worthy to look into, it is just a loss of time that was dedicated for, because it is absolutely insignificant and it is dull to the extent that is should not be considered.
And here he nails it on the head:
The General Assembly , which actually represent all the UN members who united for the sake of peace, has become as nothing . the General Assembly is severely humiliated by the charter. Every article of that charter reflects the extent of depreciation of nations representatives in the General Assembly. It can do nothing without the orders of the Security Council. No decision of the General Assembly is implemented before approval of the security council and it can do nothing without recommendation of the security council. It is known that the security council represents dictatorship and the General Assembly represents democracy. The security council is the fewer in states representation, it is similar to a military dictatorial council, a council for emergencies. It is too far from representing any form of democracy or equality. Accordingly, the world embodies in its summit, which is the UN, the most obvious dictatorship . it is illogical to speak about any kind of democracy or reform or nay level , unless we recognize the fact of the world head, which is UN.
A very interesting and complex person. For those interested in current Libya, Portland writer Michael J. Totten is now living there and blogging regularly.

Conditions in France

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Insightful essay in Canada's National Post:
Intifada a la francaise
The French government is faltering as the flames of urban warfare spread from Paris to over 300 towns. Schools, warehouses, gymnasiums, bus depots, restaurants and shopping malls are being sacked and burned. Journalists, ambulance personnel and firemen are being attacked. Even armour-clad riot police now fear for their lives, as some of the protesters have equipped themselves with guns.

President Jacques Chirac, supposedly recovered from a stroke suffered in August, is out of commission. His dauphin, Dominique de Villepin, makes pompous proclamations while trying to roast his arch-rival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, in the flames of immigrant rage. But the plain-spoken Mr. Sarkozy did not summon this rage on his own. It has been simmering for years in the form of a steady increase in lawless, anti-social behaviour.

Until now, the angry Muslim men who constitute the bulk of the rioters have been allowed to masquerade as victims. It is a common refrain that these second- and third-generation North African immigrants have been marginalized by a racist French society. But much of what goes under the name of harassment is simply the half-hearted intrusion of the forces of order into territories that have been conquered by another system of values. In Muslim ghettoes, pimping, drug dealing, theft, terrorism and Islamic law mix and match. The block of working-class suburbs, or banlieues, in the Seine St-Denis region outside Paris, is especially lawless.

These areas are hardly dismal, dilapidated hellholes. Most of the housing and infrastructure is decent. Those who wish to pursue clean, honest lives have plenty of opportunities to do so. The insurrection spreading through France cannot be understood through the traditional Marxist prism of poverty, unemployment and discrimination. These problems exist in all nations. What is different in France's Muslim ghettoes is a tradition of hate and xenophobia, one which the state has until now either ignored or encouraged.
Read the rest; the author - Nidra Poller is an American novelist and translator living in Paris. Googling her name turns up some fascinating reading...

Nice toy for the office

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From this place: "Personal Computing Environments"


Actually doesn't look that hard to build although it would take up some real-estate and there is no provision for a desk. The chair is made by Humanscale and retails for about $1K but the rest of the design is fairly easy to make.

Mt. Baker Ski Area

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Now has more base than any other ski area in the world!

Here are two photos from their Snow Blog:



The people in our community are very very happy.

Good things from FEMA

Mostly Cajun has had a rather rough month or so -- his house was badly damaged by Rita and it burned to the ground a few days later. Today, FEMA just delivered his new trailer and it's a beauty:

FEMA still isn't a perfect organization. For example, this morning at about 10 AM (yes, it IS Saturday in Louisiana, too!) I get a cellphone call.

"Is this Mr. D?" they asked, using my first name.

"Yes, it is. What can I do for you?"

"I just wanted to let you know that we got your FEMA trailer and we're bringin' it out there right now."

Great! I said. I'll be out there in twenty minutes. And I headed out the door, having finished my nourishing breakfast of Eggo waffles cooked in the office toaster.

I got on the road, and they called back to refine their directions a bit. The street I live on is a bit confusing to locate. I got them redirected, and when I got to my old homestead, I was talking with my neighbor when the truck towing my new home bulled around the corner.

There were two pickup trucks, a big one pulling the trailer, and the other carrying an additional two workers, five in total. They unloaded out of the truck, spotted the trailer in the location I designated, and proceeded to "git after it" as the colloquialism goes. There was no wasted motion. These guys hit the ground working, and didn't slow down, connecting the electrical, the water and the sewage lines. They jacked the trailer up on cinder-block piers, and tied it down to several earth anchors so the next wind that comes along won't roll it over. I loaned them a couple of tools from my own stash to expedite progress, and I went to the local convenience store and bought a dozen soft drinks and a bag of ice for them because they looked thirsty.

Two hours, maybe, and they were done. The only downside to the day was that the local utility company has not yet reconnected electrical service to my pole. And that's not FEMA's fault.

The trailer in question was fully equipped down to the details:

My new home is literally NEW. It's an 8X30 foot trailer. It LOOKS like a travel trailer from the outside, but there are some major differences. Travel trailers have holding tanks for waste water and sewage. This one doesn't. It's made to be piped into an existing sewage system. Travel trailers have reservoirs for fresh water. This one doesn't. It's made to be connected to an external water source. Travel trailers have strange little toilets for use with holding tanks. This one has a full-sized, normal toilet (hooray!) and an almost full-sized shower. It has a decent sized refrigerator-freezer, air conditioning, heating and a microwave oven, and to my surprise, it comes supplied with a set of linens for the beds, a set of dinnerware, and a little set of pots and pans. You could move into one of these things with just a few clothes and be set up. So it is really a "temporary housing unit," not a travel trailer.

This is what FEMA is supposed to be doing -- people who were expecting it to come in rescue people from New Orleans must have been dozing during their Civics classes -- this is not the purpose of FEMA, the immediate evacuation is supposed to be handled on a personal and municipal level and both of those failed miserably with Katrina and New Orleans and were handled wonderfully with Rita and Louisiana.


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I had posted earlier about a Mr. Charlie Wenzel and how he defrauded someone through an internet transaction. Unfortunately, the transaction was with a member of a close-knit community so Wenzel got his ass handed to him in over 54 pages in this forum. One of the fora members registered and is setting up a forum for people who were ripped off in similar deals, sort of a bad-dealer clearinghouse. Mr. Wenzel just got a remedial course in basic humanity that will follow him for a long long time.

Bruce Willis visits Iraq

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From Shining Full Plate and a Good Broadsword comes this link to an interview by MSNBC's Rita Cosby of Bruce Willis who has just returned from Iraq and who saw quite a different country than the Main Stream Media. Sir Banagor:
Bruce Willis: Action Hero
A lot of people think that Hollywood stars are pampered idiots with no perspective of reality, and they�re right.

But along comes yet another exception to the rule: Bruce Willis:
COSBY: Getting stories out of Iraq is not easy. Bruce Willis found that out firsthand when he went over to visit U.S. troops serving in Armed Forces.

Tonight, we are rejoined by an independent blogger who is bringing back some amazing pictures and stories from Iraq, Michael Yon. And also again with us is actor Bruce Willis, who is back with us on the phone.

It�s great to have both of you here. You know, Bruce, I want to start with you. Last night, we talked a little bit about what�s happening over in Iraq. You said the media isn�t covering the full story. What are we missing?

BRUCE WILLIS, ACTOR: I am baffled to understand why the things that I saw happening in Iraq, really good things happening in Iraq, are not being reported on.

Michael has been over there, was embedded with the members of the Deuce Four, you know, the battalion that actually won the battle for Mosul, that � Michael, correct me if I�m wrong � these are the guys who allowed the election to take place, the election that happened just, you know, a couple months ago, to take place, which is, you know, just a monumental thing. And it�s not being reported on.

COSBY: You know, Bruce, you know, let�s face it. A lot of celebrities have not been over there. A lot of folks in Hollywood have been very critical of what�s happening in the war. Do you think, if a lot of your colleagues in Hollywood went over there, saw it for themselves, they�d have a different opinion?

WILLIS: I absolutely think that. I think we live in a global world. And I think that � I think America is just too isolationist.

And a lot of big choices are being made. You know, to say this is not our fight, when this is the same fight that this country fought 60 years ago and the entire world fought 60 years ago, for the same kind of terrorism, the same kind of thing.

This is not a new war. This is not a new kind of fighting. This is the same fight. And it�s back. And it�s time for it to stop.
Was pointed to this thread on a 4X4 off-road forum via an email list I'm on. On November 1st, Charlie Wenzel who goes by the screen name of "cdubzon40s" offered a set of new differential gears for sale for $100. Reader "MochaMike" had the same vehicle, wanted the gears and sent off a check for $100 plus the quoted $15 for the shipping charges. Charlie receives the check, cashes it! and then goes back to his original post and re-edits the price to $125. He then claims that that was the original price and although holding MochaMike's money, refuses to send the gears. What Charlie had not counted on was the perseverance of other members of this forum. They found his name, tracked down his high-school yearbook pictures, found out where he worked. Found some of his eBay auctions (under a different name) and the fact that many eBay customers were very dissatisfied with Mr. Wenzel. The result on this forum is a 53-page slow motion trainwreck as Charlie finally ships the gears, fesses up to the fact that they are not new but came from his truck, claims that he is a poor college student but brags about owning a good number of fancy vehicles. The other readers of this forum found a number of other fora where Charlie posts and sent posts linking to this thread and warning them about doing business with young master Wenzel. A fun hour -- many of the posts are very articulate, some of them are raving spittle, all of them are fun to read. Some great photoshops of his high-school yearbook photo. I would hate to be in Charlie Wenzel's position right now...

Taking rust off iron or steel

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Ran into this and thought that it deserved a wider distribution. If you have something that is rusted, you can remove the rust by using a battery charger, a plastic tub, some scrap steel and some Washing Soda or Baking Soda. There are some other techniques -- Phosphoric Acid (Naval Jelly) and Coca Cola work but they can eat into the good metal and they leave a "pickled" surface. Using this technique transforms the rust back into granular metallic iron which can be scrubbed off after treatment; it will not attack the good metal. I am building a coal forge using a very rusted brake drum as the body and will be trying this technique tomorrow. UPDATE 11-12-2005: Do not have the brake drum set up quite yet -- I will start this tomorrow. Also this site has a good graphical explanation of the setup and the process including some before and after pictures.

Busy day today

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Met with some clients about doing a new web page plus the load of straw hay that we were expecting next week came in today. Also ran into Bellingham for some more steel (me) and a stop to a wonderful soap-making store for some fun stuff (Jen) Bucking 100 bales of hay in the rain is not fun -- Jen and I hurt! The good news is that our critters will have a lot of nice warm bedding to see them through the winter and we will have a huge pile of compost for the garden next fall.

U.S. Patent 6,960,975

Slight problem here... As the National Geographic puts it:
Antigravity Machine Patent Draws Physicists' Ire
A perpetual-motion machine may defy the laws of physics, but an Indiana inventor recently succeeded in having one patented.

On November 1 Boris Volfson of Huntington, Indiana, received U.S. Patent 6,960,975 for his design of an antigravity space vehicle.

Volfson's craft is theoretically powered by a superconductor shield that changes the space-time continuum in such a way that it defies gravity. The design effectively creates a perpetual-motion machine, which physicists consider an impossible device.

Journalist Philip Ball reported on the newly patented craft in the current issue of the science journal Nature.
We need to get some Patent Inspectors who actually have a frickin' clue about basic Science and Physics. This is so wrong on so many levels. A bit more from the Geographic:
Perpetual Quest
Perpetual-motion machines have long held special appeal for inventors�particularly during the concept's heyday around the turn of the 20th century.

Patent applications on such devices became so numerous that by 1911 the patent office instituted a rule that perpetual-motion machine concepts had to be accompanied by a model that could run in the office for a period of one year.
Heh -- great way to winnow out the frauds. You can look at the original Patent here This is one of the worst pieces of technobabble that I have seen in a long long time. All of his priors have been proven again and again to be junk science -- his priors list is a Who's Who of what not to do: Evgeny Podkletnov, H. B. G. Casimir, Henry Wm. Wallace -- a real rogues gallery...

Turnabout is fair play

From Charles at LGF we find that Islamofascists are not always suicide bombing Jews and Christians. This story at Yahoo/AP recounts the horrific bombing of the three hotels in Amman, Jordan which resulted in the deaths of 27 "Palestinians" including 17 members of the Akhras clan who were attending a wedding:

Jordan Attacks Claim 17 From One Family
In this Palestinian village, the Akhras clan mourned 17 relatives killed by a suicide bomber in Jordan - the first time Palestinians have been a target in a suicide attack.

"Oh my God, oh my God. Is it possible that Arabs are killing Arabs, Muslims killing Muslims?" asked a weeping Najah Akhras, 35, who lost two nieces.

Similar thoughts were heard over and over in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Thursday, as Palestinians expressed outrage over suicide attacks aimed at civilians.

The bombings at three hotels in Amman on Wednesday night killed at least 56 people, including 27 Palestinians with roots in the West Bank. Among the victims were members of the Akhras clan who were attending a family wedding, the West Bank's intelligence chief, Maj. Gen. Bashir Nafeh, a diplomat and a prominent banker.

For more than five years, Palestinian militants have carried out dozens of suicide bombings in Israel, killing hundreds of people, often with wide support from a public that believed the attacks were a justified response to Israeli military rule.

Visit this site and see the list of Islamofascist terrorist attacks since 9/11 (3,237 and counting) and please note that these are not against Western targets -- they are hitting everyone out there; Hindus, Buddhists, everyone... Here is ten days of their work -- November first through November tenth:

11/10/05 Iraq Baghdad 33 24 Two suicide bombers target a packed restaurant, slaughtering over thirty people. The vast majority of the casualties are civilian.
11/10/05 Iraq Kirkuk 7 13 Seven Iraqis standing outside a recruiting center are killed in a Sunni car bombing. Thirteen others are injured.
11/9/05 India Tral 1 0 A civilian is gunned down by the Mujahideen in his village.
11/9/05 Afghanistan Shah Wali Kot 7 2 Seven policemen are killed in an ambush by religious extremists along a remote road. Two others are abducted.
11/9/05 Iraq Baghdad 6 31 Two Sunni car bombs detonate outside a Shiite mosque, killing six people and injuring thirty-one. Woman and children are among the casualties.
11/9/05 Jordan Amman 56 115 Three coordinated and horrific suicide bombings target hotels, including Days Inn and the Grand Hyatt. The worst damage was at the Radisson, where an al-Qaeda bomber walked into a wedding party and killed dozens, including several children.
11/9/05 Iraq Baqubah 7 9 Suicidal Sunni straps explosives to his body and kills three civilians and four policemen on patrol. Nine other people are injured.
11/8/05 Iraq Kirkuk 7 3 Six bound and executed corpses are discovered on the same day that Sunni insurgents kill a policeman with a car bomb.
11/8/05 Iraq Mustansiriyah 1 1 A car bomb explodes at a university, killing one civilian.
11/8/05 Iraq Basra 3 0 In two attacks, a journalist is shot to death by Islamic militants and a member of the Iraqi security forces is killed in a bombing along with his brother.
11/8/05 India Larkuti 2 0 Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists invade the home of a council member's brother and sister-in-law to shoot both people to death.
11/8/05 India Lawaypora 1 19 The Mujahideen bomb a security patrol, injuring twenty people, one of whom later succumbs to his injuries.
11/8/05 Indonesia Poso 0 2 Two Christian 17-year-old girls are shot in the back of the head, execution syle, a few days after three others were beheaded.
11/7/05 India Indergam 1 0 The Mujahideen gun down a civilian in an apple orchard.
11/7/05 India Quil Muqam 2 0 Two civlians are killed in a Mujahideen bombing.
11/7/05 Iraq Baghdad 5 0 A Fedayeen suicide bomber kills four U.S. soldiers on security patrol along with their civilian translator.
11/7/05 Afghanistan Uruzgan 2 0 The Taliban abduct and behead two villagers.
11/7/05 Iraq Baghdad 9 10 A suicide car bomber kills nine Iraqis and injures ten.
11/7/05 Thailand Yala 2 0 Muslim militants kill a villager and a Buddhist policeman in coordinated attacks.
11/6/05 Iraq Kut 21 0 Eleven bodies are found in Kut, five of which were beheaded. Ten others are found outside Baghdad to days later, bound and showing signs of torture.
11/6/05 Iraq Baghdad 3 7 Car bomb on a city street kills three civilians and injures seven.
11/6/05 India Kashmir 3 1 Terrorists shoot three villagers to death in separate attacks (Chakras, Batapora Sopore, Kulgam)
11/5/05 India Rajwar 1 0 A villager is gunned down by the Mujahideen.
11/5/05 Pakistan Mir Ali 3 0 Three children are killed by an al-Qaeda bomb that explodes prematurely.
11/5/05 Iraq Balad Ruz 13 3 Sunni insurgents machine-gun an infant to death along with twelve other Shia family members as they are returning from a minibus trip to a family cemetery.
11/4/05 Iraq Baghdad 4 2 Two Jihad attacks kill four, including a 10-year-old girl. Her mother and another child were seriously injured. Five policemen are killed in a separate bombing south of Kirkuk.
11/4/05 Iraq Bores 9 11 A brutal ambush on a police checkpoint by Islamic insurgents dressed as women leaves nine officers and eleven injured.
11/2/05 Israel Kafr Mirka 1 0 An Israeli soldier is shot in the head by Palestinian gunmen while making an arrest. Soliders noticed suspicious movement nearby, but hesitated for fear of hitting civilians.
11/2/05 Thailand Yala 1 0 A 32-year-old man is shot to death by Muslim militants as he is riding a motorcycle.
11/2/05 Chechnya Grozny 1 1 Jihadis use a landmine to kill a member of an engineering squad.
11/2/05 India Srinigar 10 18 Jaish-e-Mohammed kill a 10-year-old boy, a woman, and at least eight others with a suicide bombing in a residential neighborhood.
11/2/05 Afghanistan Bahramshah 5 0 A drug-fighting police unit is surprised by the Taliban, who take five officers prisoner, then cut off their heads.
11/2/05 Iraq Jurf al Naddaf 5 6 Five Iraqis in a private minibus are killed in a Jihadi roadside bombing attack.
11/2/05 Iraq Musayyib 23 46 Twenty-three Shiites are killed when a minibus packed with explosives is detonated next to a mosque and a busy market.
11/1/05 India Lamad-Bernai 1 1 Two civlians are abducted by the Mujahideen. One is strangled. The other is still missing.

256 People Killed and many many more Injured. Just because they were Dhimmi and not Islam. I am reminded of the F.M. Busby series: "The Demu Trilogy" And you read the entire article and it closes with these sentiments:

Palestinian legislator Hanan Ashrawi said the attacks would generate widespread animosity toward the terrorist group. While Palestinians and Jordanians have generally supported Iraqi resistance against American troops in Iraq, they are appalled by daily insurgent attacks against Iraqi civilians.

"I don't think al-Qaida or any of these violent extremists have had support among mainstream Arab opinion at all. Now they are making sure they are turning everyone against them," Ashrawi said.

Such condemnations were widespread Thursday, but many Palestinians seemed most upset that the victims in Amman were Muslim. Some hinted that attacks against Israeli or American targets could still be acceptable.

At a small mosque in Gaza City, worshippers asked God to send the souls of the Amman victims to heaven and to prevent the attackers from harming the image of Islam.

"I oppose killing Jewish civilians," said Radwan Abu Ali, a 22-year-old university student in Gaza City. "They could go and fight American soldiers. They could come to Palestine to fight Israeli soldiers in the West Bank. But to kill innocents, there is nothing to describe them but criminals and the enemy of God."

So when you start to have Media problems, you start back-peddling and start talking about: "harming the image of Islam" Let me give you a little clue: "Islam Delenda Est" if you don't get your fucking moderation into gear, recognize the Kurds, the Sufis and start down the path of the Religion of Peace.

Want to see the Face of the Enemy of God?
Three little steps:

#1) - Get a mirror
#2) - Look into it
#3) - Repeat

Polish your Heart so that it may reflect the peace and joy within. Hate is not an option.

LCD Display repair

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A dirty little secret: If you have an LCD display that suddenly goes pitch black, chances are that the repair is a simple one and will cost about $15 or so. This is accurate for about 70% of defective LCD's. Liquid Crystal Displays have no inherent light emitting properties and require a closely coupled light source to be visible. The choice for these is a Cold Cathode Fluorescent Light which has a finite life much shorter than the electronics in the rest of the LCD. These cost from $6 to $20 depending on the size of the display. Sometimes it is not the CCFL itself but the electronic "inverter" that provides the operating voltage. Apple Cinema Displays have a particularly nasty issue with this. These can cost $100-$150 or so. Go here: LCD Part and follow their instructions for opening up your display and measuring the bulb. If you have a voltmeter, you might see if there is a voltage on the terminals of your CCFL (this means that your inverter is working fine). Buy a replacement bulb and solder it in (you will definitely need a low-power soldering iron -- borrow one from a geek). Close it up and enjoy another couple years of use. Don't tell them that you heard it from me...

Whoops -- bad choice for a combination...

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I had heard of this before but here it is on the web so it must be accurate! From DamnInteresting:
I�ve Got the Same Combination on My Luggage!
America�s gaggle of "Minuteman" long-range nuclear missiles went on line for the first time during the Cuban missile crisis in 1960. But the world was supposedly protected from mutual assured destruction by the "Permissive Action Links" (PALs) which required an 8-digit combination in order to launch. Robert McNamara, then the U.S. Secretary of Defense, personally oversaw the installation of these special locks to prevent any unauthorized nuclear missile launches. He considered the safeguards to be essential for strict central control and for preventing nuclear disaster.

But what Secretary McNamara didn�t know is that from the very beginning, the Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha had decided that these locks might interfere with any wartime launch orders; so in order to circumvent this safeguard, they pre-set the launch code on all Minuteman silos to the same eight digits: 00000000.

For seventeen years, during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War, the code remained all zeros, and was even printed in each silo�s launch checklist for all to see. The codes remained this way up until 1977, when the service was pressed into activating the McNamara locks with real launch codes in place. Before that time, the the lack of safeguards would have made it relatively easy for a small group of rogue silo officers or visitors to implement an unauthorized nuclear missile launch.
They provide links to the source material. Granted, there were also the two keys that had to be turned and access to the silos were not handed out like candy but still. Sheesh! As one of the commenters at the site says: "I�m having a Dr. Strangelove moment."

MIT studies AFDB's

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Some people at MIT have done a definitive study of AFDB's and it seems that they might actually enhance the effectiveness of some government mind control rays. Go here for more information on Aluminum Foil Deflector Beanies From the MIT website:
On the Effectiveness of Aluminum Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study
Ali Rahimi, Ben Recht, Jason Taylor, Noah Vawter

Among a fringe community of paranoids, aluminum helmets serve as the protective measure of choice against invasive radio signals. We investigate the efficacy of three aluminum helmet designs on a sample group of four individuals. Using a $250,000 network analyser, we find that although on average all helmets attenuate invasive radio frequencies in either directions (either emanating from an outside source, or emanating from the cranium of the subject), certain frequencies are in fact greatly amplified. These amplified frequencies coincide with radio bands reserved for government use according to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC). Statistical evidence suggests the use of helmets may in fact enhance the government's invasive abilities. We theorize that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason.

It has long been suspected that the government has been using satellites to read and control the minds of certain citizens. The use of aluminum helmets has been a common guerrilla tactic against the government's invasive tactics. Surprisingly, these helmets can in fact help the government spy on citizens by amplifying certain key frequency ranges reserved for government use. In addition, none of the three helmets we analyzed provided significant attenuation to most frequency bands. We describe our experimental setup, report our results, and conclude with a few design guidelines for constructing more effective helmets.
The paper then talks about the three varieties of AFDB's they tested, the testing procedure and the results and conclusion:
The helmets amplify frequency bands that coincide with those allocated to the US government between 1.2 Ghz and 1.4 Ghz. According to the FCC, These bands are supposedly reserved for ''radio location'' (ie, GPS), and other communications with satellites (see, for example,). The 2.6 Ghz band coincides with mobile phone technology. Though not affiliated by government, these bands are at the hands of multinational corporations. It requires no stretch of the imagination to conclude that the current helmet craze is likely to have been propagated by the Government, possibly with the involvement of the FCC. We hope this report will encourage the paranoid community to develop improved helmet designs to avoid falling prey to these shortcomings.
Here is a photo of their testing setup -- you are looking at over $250,000 worth of techie goodness! (wipes drool off face)
Good to know. Dave (who is contemplating a very very large Faraday Cage). Wandering out to the barn to see how much chicken wire we have...

Our friends the Chinese

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President Bush met with His Holiness the Dali Lama and China objected. MyWay/Reuters has the story:
Bush meets Dalai Lama, ignoring China's objections
President George W. Bush met at the White House on Wednesday with the Dalai Lama, exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists, ignoring objections from China 10 days before he makes an official visit to Beijing.

The private meeting with the president and the first lady came one day after the Bush administration named China a serious violator of religious freedom in a report to Congress.

"We've made our views very clear when it comes to our support for religious freedom... And we will continue to speak out on those issues," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

The Chinese government opposed Bush's meeting with the Dalai Lama.

"The Dalai Lama is not a mere religious figure. He is a political refugee who has conducted activities splitting China and undermining national unity," said Chu Maoming, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington.

"We are opposed to any invitation by any country extended to him. We are also opposed to any meetings with him."

Wednesday's meeting was Bush's third with the Dalai Lama. Next week Bush is due to visit Beijing and hold talks with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
Good on President Bush -- the meeting with Hu Jintao should be interesting considering China's military build-up and focus on Taiwan.

A rant of epic proportions

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Sir Banagor at Shining Full Plate and a Good Broadsword has produced a wonderful rant. What makes it so powerful is that it is spot on accurate in describing a large percentage of the current population.
Really Fucking Stupid People
I haven�t said anything much at all about the riots in Paris and the rest of France. However, after a certain amount of contemplation, I do have something to say:

It appears that my biggest problems in life stem from the fact that my parents saw fit to give me an education, and that I have a brain. If I was dumb and uneducated I might just have called enough attention to myself to make something of a tidy fortune, or perhaps even land my face in the news. An inordinate amount of do-gooders would actually care about me and my feelings, and they apparently would do anything possible at the risk of their own lives to see fit that I would be given what I want - gratis.

That�s what it really comes down to, isn�t it? We currently see it most prominently at play in France, but the stage is always set in another part of the world where this truth comes to the fore. Hurricane Katrina, for instance, or the LA Riots. Iraq is another example, and the �Palestinian Territories�.

Confused? Then perhaps you too are an idiot, or maybe a do-gooder by nature, because you haven�t quite worked it out yet.

Do a quick backtrack in your mind of all the protest marches you�ve lately seen, or perhaps heard about in the news. Whom are all these �beautiful people� marching for?

Really Fucking Stupid People.

Let�s take stock of the situation, shall we? Leftists care about stupid people. They care about the downtrodden, the weak, the oppressed - that�s all true. But there are lots of downtrodden, weak, and oppressed people you never see them marching for. For instance, how many thousands of people have you seen gathered in Washington DC to call for the end of the genocide in the Sudan? How many riots do you remember erupting anytime there is a busload of Israelis blown up on purpose? How many angry marches have you seen in response even to the suffering of the Kurds under Saddam�s regime?

Obviously the answer is zero; zilch; zip; nada; none. Why?

Because as much as Leftists - no, let�s call them for what they are: Marxists - care about the downtrodden, weak, and oppressed, what they really care about the most is Really Fucking Stupid People. It even makes a great Marxist acronym, don�t you think? RFSP. It even has something�French�about it. You can just imagine it: La RFSP. It�s just that good.

Anyone who has no brains and a penchant for brutality needs to be negotiated with, and understood. It�s never their fault because they�re akin to some holy object from the divine purity of the division of the classes. They�re like the endangered Dodo which we must cater to before it�s too late and they disappear forever off of the face of the earth. It sort of fits with their ideology of protecting anything in the wild, so therein lies another piece of the puzzle.

Take the LA Riots from so many years ago: Really Fucking Stupid People went nuts rampaging through their own neighborhoods, smashing up their own stores and cars, and burning, looting, and killing anything which stood in their way.

Take the Katrina disaster: Really Fucking Stupid People went nuts rampaging through their own city, smashing up their own stores and cars, and burning, looting, and killing nearly anything which stood in their way. Of course, they really took the cake because they were bringing us stories of piles of bodies lying in the streets from murder and mayhem which, upon reflection and investigation, never actually occurred.

Take the Palestinian Intifada: Really Fucking Stupid People went nuts rampaging through their own cities, smashing up stores and cars, shooting Israelis and blowing them up via infiltration, the image of the pride and the glory of the Marxist �indigenous� revolution; masked and hooded, molotov cocktail in one hand and liberation flag in the other. Oppressed, weak, downtrodden, and really fucking stupid.

Take the Terrorists in Iraq: blowing up their own people, beheading visitors and even other Iraqis who are trying to fix the situation - people who even express sympathy for their own idiotic ideals; blowing up cars and busses, schoolyards full of children, blowing up the pipelines which send out that oil which goes directly to the bank accounts of their own country and not that of some despotic ruthless ruler. The glorious revolutionaries and minutemen of Michael Moore whose apparent sole purpose is to create not a new state out of rubble, but more rubble out of a new state. Really Fucking Stupid People.
This is only the first part -- visit Shining Plate and read the rest. Some of his later posts relate to this --just start scrolling...

Happy birthday to you!


It is the WWW's fifteenth birthday this month. Jeremy Reimer at Ars Technica passes out the cake:

On the 15th birthday of the World Wide Web, a look back
In November of 1990, Tim Berners-Lee, a researcher at Europe's CERN Particle Physics Laboratory, invented the very first web server and web browser. The server, entitled simply httpd, and the browser, called WorldWideWeb, ran on Tim's NeXT cube and worked exclusively on the NeXTstep operating system. Archive copies of Tim's first web page and some early web sites show a web that is simultaneously very different from the modern one and yet still very familiar.

In an article published to coincide with the Web's 15th anniversary, James Boyle, law professor and co-founder of the Center for the Study of the Public Domain, points out that the web developed in a unique fashion, due to conditions unlikely to be repeated today. The idea of hypertext was not invented by Berners-Lee. Vannevar Bush proposed a hypertext-like linking system as early as 1945. A working model was built by the team led by Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the mouse, in 1968. Computer activist Ted Nelson proposed a much more advanced form of the World Wide Web, called Xanadu, in his seminal work Computer Lib. Even Apple created a non-networked version of hypertext called Hypercard in 1987.

The main difference with Berners-Lee's creation was that it was based on open standards, such as the TCP/IP networking protocol, and that anyone could create content for the World Wide Web with tools no more complex than a text editor. While most people remember the Web taking off with the initial release of a browser from the commercial company Netscape, the original WWW grew mainly out of academia, where source code was traded freely in the interest of promoting learning. The "View Source" feature, available in all browsers today, grew out of this environment.

I remember sitting in my favorite coffeehouse in Seattle reading when a friend came in, sat at my table, handed me a short printout and said: "This is really cool!" It was the specs for HTTP

Cool Music Technology

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Yamaha and Steinberg (both music companies -- Steinberg is a music software company, Yamaha has a large Musical Instrument division) have teamed up to create Studio Connections From their website:
Studio Connections is a joint project lead by Steinberg and Yamaha. There is now a situation which demands a closer integration between software and hardware in a music production system. The aim of Studio Connections is quite simply to offer a more convenient environment that will make using hardware and software easier.

There has always the need for users to endure setting up parameters between the hardware and software separately. But now at last with Studio Connections there is the ability for Total Recall, a seamless solution where setup and recall issues are now a thing of the past, and where users can operate the hardware as if it were a plug-in within their software.

In order to encourage further developments and to expand the possibilities of Studio Connections, there is now available the (SDK) development tools. Developed solutions a re also offered to the industry, in order to further support an easy to use computer music system.
In plain english, when you turn on a synth, it usually wakes up in a default state or the last state it was in when it was turned off. If you want to play a specific song, you will need to change this state to one specific for the song. There are software tools that do this but they are separate from the composition and sequencing applications. What Studio Connections is doing is giving you a way to set up your synthesizers from within the composing and sequencing application -- the data is stored right along with the music. Cuts out a lot of fiddling and makes the overall workflow a lot faster. They are releasing the core specifications and SDK to the general public so other companies can implement this. Very cool idea and kudos to them for making it available to everyone...

Forest Management and Clear Cutting

Bird Dog writing at Maggie's Farm points out the differences between deforestation and clear cutting and explains why clear cutting is a good thing.
Clear-Cutting and Forests
Controversy: Deforestation and Clear-Cutting in the US

Before I dig into this hot topic, a little perspective and a few definitions.

Deforestation is the more-or-less permanent removal of natural growth, preventing forest succession. It�s a common event in the US: every housing development and every farm field, ski area, park, every lawn and essentially every sunny green meadow (with some natural exceptions), represents deforestation. By the 1860s, the forests of the Eastern US were essentially completely deforested for agriculture, pasture, firewood, lumber, urbanization, or for charcoal-making: New England and the Eastern US now has far more woodlands than it did then.

Every gardener knows well how much nature wants to turn your garden into a grassy weed-patch, then into a woodland. Humans force nature to obey with great difficulty.

And everyone who sanctimoniously bemoans deforestation in South America should first look out their window to see one�s local deforestation. Our Great Plains, it is believed, were at least partly the result of Indian burning practices and wildfire. And the Scottish moors? Largely the result of deforestation too, but they are beginning to re-plant. Deforestation is definitely a bad thing, from a conservation standpoint, but often not from a human economic standpoint. Manhattan Island is pretty good without the forest, thanks to Guiliani and Bloomberg.

Clear-cutting, as opposed to selective logging, involves cutting almost every tree down in an area, with the intention that things will grow back. It is an efficient form of silviculture because, when the woods grow back � whether re-planted or just re-seeded via Nature � most of the new trees will be ready for harvest at the same time.

Unlike deforestation and selective harvesting, clear-cutting restarts the clock of natural forest succession, just as does forest fire or severe wind damage. Fire is a key to woodland health and diversity: we see the unhappy consequences of fire suppression in the West, with apocalyptic fires due to fallen dead trees rather than routine smaller fires which efficiently recycle forest litter. In an era of unnatural and probably foolish fire suppression by government (essentially a subsidization of the lumber industry and the vacation-home real estate business), only clear-cutting can imitate the normal cycle of forest succession and renewal, habitat diversity, and thus the species diversity, that conservationists seek.
This is only the first part -- go and read for the rest. Good stuff. Jen and I live between two mountains that are managed by the Department of Natural Resources for WA State. In WA State, all logging proceeds go directly to fund various school districts. We look out our window and see some clear-cut patches, some mature patches, some old growth* and some 10-year-old forest patches. Trees are a renewable resource, the only problem is that some people's timeline cannot accept the 30-year cycle of renewability. * (The old growth happens in areas where logging equipment cannot reach.)

John Bolton shows the right stuff

George Bush picked the right person when he chose John Bolton to be the Ambassador to the United Nations.

From Bloomberg:

Bolton Rebukes UN Vote Against Cuba Embargo for 'Irrelevancy'
The United Nations General Assembly voted for the 14th consecutive year to call for an end to the 43- year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba, drawing a rebuke from John Bolton, the new U.S. envoy to the world body.

"This is a complete exercise in irrelevancy," Ambassador Bolton told reporters in New York. "For a General Assembly that has not yet seriously attempted to reform the UN Human Rights Commission to adopt this exercise in Cuban propaganda really tells you something."

Israel, the Marshall Islands and Palau joined the U.S. in voting against the non-binding resolution, which urges the U.S. to "repeal and invalidate" the embargo that has been in effect since 1962, three years after Fidel Castro seized control of the Caribbean island and transformed it into a bastion of communism. Micronesia abstained. The resolution was adopted today by a vote of 182 to 4.

The Bush administration said the resolution was an attempt to shift blame for Castro's shortcomings and that the General Assembly should not deal with the question.

"The United States trade embargo is a bilateral issue and should not come before the General Assembly," U.S. envoy Ronald Godard said. "If the people of Cuba are jobless, hungry or lack medical care, as Castro admits, it is because of his economic mismanagement, not the embargo."

Godard said the U.S. would ease restrictions on trade and travel after Cuba allows "free and fair" elections and the formation of independent trade unions.

Bolton is not afraid to see the UN as the irrelevant corrupt organization that it is. World Government indeed...

Jesus Juice

Filed under the "Department of Bad Taste" department.

While chortling...

Non-convicted Child Pornographer (who by the way is now living in Bahrain) Michael Jackson (who also owns the rights to the Beatles song library) liked to get his under-age "friends" a little bit tipsy by giving them some wine. Jackson called it Jesus Juice. The people at The Smoking Gun introduce us to Dawn Westlake and Bruce Rheins:

Blasphemy In A Bottle
L.A. entrepreneurs seek to market wine with "Jesus Juice" label

In a full-bodied blend of blasphemy and ingenuity, a Los Angeles couple is seeking to market a wine called "Jesus Juice" that bears a label showing a Michael Jackson-like figure appearing to be crucified. "Jesus Juice" merlot, the label for which you'll find below, is the brainchild of actress Dawn Westlake and Bruce Rheins, a veteran CBS Evening News producer who headed the network's coverage of the Jackson child molestation case. Westlake and Rheins filed to trademark the "Jesus Juice" name in January 2004, two months after the entertainer was arrested and days after news outlets first reported that Jackson used the term "Jesus Juice" when referring to wine he allegedly gave minors. On October 1, Westlake and Rheins provided USPTO officials--who are still reviewing the trademark application--with a copy of the proposed "Jesus Juice" logo, which features a photo of a barely clad man with a sequined glove, shiny loafers, stringy hair, and a black fedora that obscures his face. While carrying the name "Rheins-Westlake Winery," it appears that the wannabe winemakers's merlot production has, so far, been rather limited. In fact, two Westlake web sites seek a partner (preferably "a vintner with a sense of humor, but a seriously good line of wines") or someone to purchase the "Jesus Juice" trademark rights.


The fun part is how seriously some people are taking this. Michael Jackson jumped the shark a long long time ago.

10 things to hate about Unix

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A fun-to-read rant at From the website:
Article Description
UNIX was a terrific workhorse for its time, but eventually the old nag needs to be put out to pasture. David Chisnall argues that it's time to retire UNIX in favor of modern systems with a lot more horsepower.
Some of this is just plain snarkyness but some of the complaints are valid, especially the case of system calls eating up resources but sheesh -- 'puters are soo fast these days that this is almost a non-issue... Still, I would class this as geek mental popcorn -- the author doesn't even suggest a successor to UNIX although he tears it down. LINUX is awesome on a decent machine. We run a mix here, Windows 2000 on personal desktops and LINUX on servers.

TweakHeadz Lab

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Excellent site for electronic music of all types. Reviews of equipment, tutorials, a very active forum. To be added to the Blogroll when I next do updates...


Have an IPod? Run Windows? Check out EphPod -- free software that does a much better job than iTunes. From the website:

Welcome to EphPod
what it is: EphPod is a full-featured, easy-to-use Windows application that connects with Apple's iPod. With a FireWire card and EphPod on a PC, it takes under 30 minutes to transfer 1,000 songs to an iPod. In addition, EphPod supports standard WinAmp (.M3U) playlists, includes powerful playlist creation features, and will synchronize an entire music collection with one click. It imports Microsoft Outlook contacts, in addition to allowing users to create and edit their own contacts. EphPod can also download the latest news, weather, e-books, and movie listings to an iPod.

Just under 4MB -- small and lean code. Looks very cool -- I do not have an iPod -- spend most of my time either at home or in my truck, both of which have sound systems but they are a wonderful idea. One of Apple's good ones.

Light posting tonight

Welding class tonight. We have been doing stick welding in various incarnations all along but each week, the teacher has us try out new stuff too. Tonight was TIG and it is awesome. I bought a TIG welder after watching the people on Orange County Choppers weld so easily and cleanly. Needless to say, I am at the start of a very very steep learning curve but tonight's lesson cleared up a lot of bad habits I was forming and I was able to get good results on my test piece. I'll try it at home tomorrow and see if the lessons "stuck".

The Paris Riots

One of the email lists I subscribe to has members all over this planet. One of them is in the areas surrounding Paris where the riots are happening. His comments:

It's worse in some place, but it's very local, in fact the police has found a way to deal effectively with he guys, more than 800 arrests since 10 days in all France. What's very very disturbing is it's the first time those things are coordinated, it spreads and stay. Also beside the cars, it's against things which help people which is mad: associative premises, social aid, sports centers, schools, buses, immigrant workers housings - SONACOTRA not housing council - some entertainment places... in my city, beside others, they burned in a street next to mine only the cars or the red cross volunteers which use some premises in the building next to mine, it doesn't make sense.

Not it's not the revolution, even less riots like UK or LA have had. It's more insidious.

I'm regularly on the phone with a friend in the 93 (I'm in the 92), way nearer of the worst zone, he's disturbed but not a lot of things happened in fact in his area. He's more concerned by the fact some guys attacked public transportation, mainly buses.

What is really making me laugh is the State Department telling US citizen not to go in the 93... I wonder what the hell they would be doing there anyway save visiting the Basilique St Denis which must be closely looked at anyway.

Tonight it seems quieter, only a 30 minutes "rodeo" we have heard and reports are of calmer night elsewhere.

Although the guns have come out and several policemen were injured. The co-ordination behind these "riots" is more than good and that fact makes me want to take a much closer look at this... The rioters are all Islamic males; the media is alerted and show up, rioters converge and burn a few cars and generally hassle people and then the whole thing fades away only to be repeated a few miles away. This is the face of the enemy and they are testing us, playing with us and seeing how far they can go -- what are the limits of the French, how strong is their will?

Norm Stamper's new book

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Former Seattle Police Chief Norm Stamper has had an interesting career. In 1999, he was Chief during the WTO riots and was criticized for his handling of the events. He subsequently retired and moved to a cabin in the San Juan Islands and started writing a book. In These Times magazine's Silja J.A. Talvi interviewed him and the candor is refreshing:
Breaking Rank
Former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper takes on the drug war, domestic violence, community policing, and the WTO

In 1999 Norm Stamper made international news in a most inglorious way, as the police chief of the Seattle Police Department during the WTO-related demonstrations. For this 34-year veteran police officer with a Ph.D. in behavioral psychology, it was not his proudest moment. Stamper now says that he made serious mistakes.

Stamper�s resignation and retirement from the force followed shortly thereafter. He moved to a cabin in Washington�s San Juan Islands and began to write a book that would put him in a different kind of spotlight altogether, as an advocate for the legalization of drugs and prostitution, as well as a critic of racism, sexually predatory behavior and the prevalence of domestic violence within police departments.
A brief excerpt from the interview:
When did you first start thinking about decriminalizing or legalizing illicit substances? And what got you thinking about this in the first place?
These are concepts I�ve had in mind since the �60s and �70s. Especially in the case of drugs, I�ve always believed that these kinds of "crimes" have to be challenged, and that we have to be willing to look at the high price that we are paying�psychically and physically�as officers, in continuing to enforce these laws against individuals.

If I choose to inject, inhale, sniff, snort, or for that matter, put a bullet in my brain, that�s a choice I should have as an adult. Where the line is drawn for society is if I choose to be irresponsible in committing those acts. Then I need to be held accountable for my behavior. For instance, if I furnish a kid with drugs, or if I abuse a spouse, then I need to be held accountable for my criminal actions.

The hypocrisy of keeping the prohibition on these substances going, yet making no moves to ban alcohol as a choice for adults, is staggering. We know there are far greater problems associated with alcohol abuse. Just as with alcohol, though, I think it should be viewed as a basic civil liberty for people to be able to use whatever drugs they want, and second, to treat the abuse of drugs as a medical problem, which is what it is. It is a public health issue, not an issue for the law to deal with.

But you can�t deny the fact that some drugs, such as crystal meth, really are more dangerous than others.
Yes, that�s true. Some drugs are more dangerous than others. We know people are doing meth, and that can be a very damaging and addicting drug. But if we start looking at the potential damage caused by any drug�and on that basis say "Outlaw it and all other drugs like it"�then we get this sort of twisted logic that says you have a right as an adult to do whatever you want to and put whatever you want in your body, except this substance or that substance. It doesn�t make sense for us to dictate those exceptions. It makes sense for us to provide education, information and treatment, but not to tell people, by law, what not to put in their bodies. That approach has clearly proven not to be effective.

How have other members of law enforcement�including other police chiefs�reacted to your call for the legalization of drugs?
I�m not well-liked by many people in the field for saying these things.

It doesn�t seem like that bothers you.
I want people to be provoked and to have them react to the book, and to talk about subjects that are very important to us at the levels of society and community. These issues have a great relevance. But there seems to be a lack of political sophistication and even an intolerance for reasoned debate. Instead, we line up fast on one side or another and proceed to scream at each other. For me, that gets real old, real fast. I have very strong views and I do express them forcefully, but this book was designed to encourage people who care about law and justice to really think about the issues.

I have had police say to me, in person, "Norm, I couldn�t find anything I disagreed with on that chapter on drugs." But when I ask if they�d be willing to speak about that openly, the suggestion is met with laughter. No, absolutely not, they can�t risk their careers to do that, is what they tell me. If they do, they�ll get labeled a "Stamper."

That�s actually a term being used to describe people who speak out about these kinds of things in law enforcement?
(Laughs) Yes. We�re very good in this society at labeling people and, in the process, cutting off meaningful conversation.
A rather long but wonderful interview -- sounds like someone I would like to meet.

Former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey

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An interesting post at Gateway Pundit:
Cindy Sheehan's Anti-War Marine is a Fraud!
Here is the story of former Marine Sgt. Jimmy Massey as printed in the St. Louis Post Dispatch today. He has been out traveling with Cindy Sheehan on her bus tour across the country. Jimmy is a member of Veterans Against the Iraq War. Jimmy traveled to France where they reprinted his anti-war story. Florida Democrat Frank Gonzalez protested with Jimmy in August.

But, Jimmy Massey really needs to be behind bars! Once you read the gory, hateful details you will agree.
From the St. Louis Post article:
Is Jimmy Massey telling the truth about Iraq? For more than a year, former Marine Staff Sgt. Jimmy Massey has been telling anybody who will listen about the atrocities that he and other Marines committed in Iraq.

In scores of newspaper, magazine and broadcast stories, at a Canadian immigration hearing and in numerous speeches across the country, Massey has told how he and other Marines recklessly, sometimes intentionally, killed dozens of innocent Iraqi civilians.

Among his claims:

Marines fired on and killed peaceful Iraqi protesters.

Americans shot a 4-year-old Iraqi girl in the head.

A tractor-trailer was filled with the bodies of civilian men, women and children killed by American artillery.

Massey's claims have gained him celebrity. Last month, Massey's book, "Kill, Kill, Kill," was released in France. His allegations have been reported in nationwide publications such as Vanity Fair and USA Today, as well as numerous broadcast reports. Earlier this year, he joined the anti-war bus tour of Cindy Sheehan, and he's spoken at Cornell and Syracuse universities, among others.

News organizations worldwide published or broadcast Massey's claims without any corroboration and in most cases without investigation. Outside of the Marines, almost no one has seriously questioned whether Massey, a 12-year veteran who was honorably discharged, was telling the truth.

He wasn't.

Each of his claims is either demonstrably false or exaggerated - according to his fellow Marines, Massey's own admissions, and the five journalists who were embedded with Massey's unit, including a reporter and photographer from the Post-Dispatch and reporters from The Associated Press and The Wall Street Journal.
The Post article goes into some detail. The concept of "Fact Checking" just doesn't seem to sink in for some people...

WW-II ties between Germany and the Middle East

A collection of excerpts from Joan Peter's 1984 book: "From Time Immemorial: The Origins of the Arab-Jewish Conflict over Palestine":

Muftism and Nazism: World War II Collaboration Documents

At the eve of the "final solution" to the "Jewish Problem", the Mufti (Yasser Arafat's father's brother) and Adolf Hitler confer in Berlin, November 21, 1941
Haj Amin al Husseini, recording in his own handwriting his meeting with Hitler in his diary, says:

The words of the Fuehrer on the 6th of Zul Qaada 1360 of the Hejira (which falls on the 21st of November 1941) Berlin, Friday, from 4:30 P.M. till a few minutes after 6. The objectives of my fight are clear. Primarily, I am fighting the Jews without respite, and this fight includes the fight against the so-called Jewish National Home in Palestine because the Jews want to establish there a central government for their own pernicious purposes, and to undertake a devastating and ruinous expansion at the expense of the govemments of the world and of other peoples.

It is clear that the Jews have accomplished nothing in Palestine and their claims are lies. All the accomplishments in Palestine are due to the Arabs and not to the Jews. I am resolved to find a solution for the Jewish problem, progressing step by step without cessation. With regard to this I am making the necessary and right appeal, first to all the European countries and then to countries outside of Europe.

It is true that our common enemies are Great Britain and the Soviets whose principles are opposed to ours. But behind them stands hidden Jewry which drives them both. Jewry has but one aim in both these countries. We are now in the midst of a life and death struggle against both these nations. This fight will not only determine the outcome of the struggle between National Socialism and Jewry, but the whole conduct of this successful war will be of great and positive help to the Arabs who are engaged in the same struggle.

Not much has changed in 60 years... I was reading through the bok reviews and several people rated it with one star and mentioned that a Norman Finkelstein had effectivly discredited it when it was first published 20 years ago. When looking for references to Mr. Finkelstein, I find this entry at Wikipedia where we see the following:

He has also challenged the characterization of the Holocaust as a uniquely evil historical event, and likened Israeli security to the Gestapo.


The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) called Finkelstein a "Holocaust denier" and accused him of pursuing an anti-Semitic agenda. Finkelstein has called the ADL's accusations against him empty and undeserved. "I am Jewish and my parents are Holocaust survivors. With others you could say, 'you're an anti-Semite' or 'you're a Holocaust denier,' [but] you can't do that with me," he once responded, "you have to argue the facts." Finkelstein was also called a "self-hating Jew" on numerous occasions.

I'll top it off with this wonderful quote:

Noam Chomsky: "I'm delighted to hear that I'll be followed shortly by Norman Finkelstein and would very strongly advise you to come listen to him. Not only [is he] an old personal friend but a person who can speak with more authority and insight on these topics than anyone I can think of. So that should be a memorable occasion and I urge that you not miss the opportunity."

I'm siding with the book...

Michael Moore

The World Net Daily has a review of a new book: "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy"

The real Michael Moore
Working-class hero image is carefully scripted

Michael Moore's success as a filmmaker and "working-class hero" is part of a carefully crafted image that bears little connection with reality, finds author Peter Schweizer in his new book "Do As I Say (Not As I Do): Profiles in Liberal Hypocrisy."

Don't be fooled by the scraggly beard, the baggy jeans, the plaid shirts and the baseball caps, explains Schweizer.

Don't be fooled by his claim to be from the working-class town of Flint, Mich., he writes.

Don't be fooled by his various claims to have made no more than $19,000 a year, $15,000 a year or $12,000 a year before his first hit, "Roger & Me," the author says.

In fact, Moore didn't even grow up in Flint, but rather nearby Davison. His father was not the working stiff struggling to make ends meet that he portrays, but a General Motors employee who worked from 6 a.m. until 2 p.m. and played golf every afternoon at a private country club and who had four weeks of paid vacation and retired comfortably at the age of 53.

Before "Roger & Me" hit it big in 1989, Moore had already received an advance from a New York publisher for $50,000, another $50,000 from Mother Jones magazine upon termination as an editor and a $20,000 grant from Ralph Nader. After "Roger & Me," he became fabulously wealthy by nearly any standard.

When Moore flew to London to be interviewed by the BBC or to promote a film, he flew the Concorde and stayed at the Ritz. But, according to the book, he would also keep a room at a cheap hotel down the street where he would meet with journalists to maintain his image as a "man of humble circumstances."

His 10-acre, waterfront home today is on Michigan's Torch Lake, one of the three most beautiful lakes in the world, according to National Geographic. He was accused by authorities of despoiling a wetland - just like many of the greedy, robber-baron land-grabbers he criticizes - when he tried to expand his private beach.

And this is just scratching the surface. The book also looks at other social luminaries such as Noam Chomsky, Barbra Streisand, Nancy Pelosi...

Do Space Aliens have Souls?

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A really interesting (but short) news entry at the Catholic News Service:
Do space aliens have souls? Inquiring minds can check Jesuit's book
Galaxy-gazing scientists surely wonder about what kind of impact finding life or intelligent beings on another planet would have on the world.

But what sort of effect would it have on Catholic beliefs? Would Christian theology be rocked to the core if science someday found a distant orb teeming with little green men, women or other intelligent forms of alien life? Would the church send missionaries to spread the Gospel to aliens? Could aliens even be baptized? Or would they have had their own version of Jesus and have already experienced his universal or galactic plan of salvation?

Curious Catholics need not be space buffs to want answers to these questions and others when they pick up a 48-page booklet by a Vatican astronomer.

Through the British-based Catholic Truth Society, U.S. Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno has penned his response to what he says are questions he gets from the public "all the time" when he gives talks on his work with the Vatican Observatory.
Two wonderful breaths of fresh air:
"The Bible is divine science, a work about God. It does not intend to be physical science" and explain the making of planets and solar systems, the Jesuit astronomer wrote.
"There is nothing in Holy Scripture that could confirm or contradict the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe," he wrote.

Brother Consolmagno said that, like scientists, people of faith should not be afraid of saying "I just don't know."

Human understanding "is always incomplete. It is crazy to underestimate God's ability to create in depths of ways that we will never completely understand. It is equally dangerous to think that we understand God completely," he said in his booklet.
I would love to have a glass of wine with Br. Consolmagno and ask him what he thinks about "Intelligent Design"; if only to add some depth to my Latin vocabulary. (grin)


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An important concept. Should be practiced more often. Wretchard at The Belmont Club writes about the French Muslim riots (now in their ninth day and extending into Paris itself). One of the hopes for France as a Nation is their Minister of the Interior - Nicolas Sarkozy. He is abrasive, speaks his mind, sharp as a tack and is generally right. He had a handle on the riots when they first broke out but his efforts were stymied by Dominique De Villepin (who is a man) and Chirac and the result was chaos. Here is Wretchard with some thoughts and a link to a post that offers a real insight into the dynamics of the situation (the "millet" system):
Once in France
One of the frustrations about covering events in France is the lack of metrics. There are a few which can be used. The numbers of cars burned on a given night. The number of towns affected by disturbances. The numbers of persons arrested. But there is a lot of critical information that can't be captured in these figures. Here are two reports, one from a site in Brussels and another from a Dutchman which have been cool and collected in the past. Here is what they have to say. The titles are the authors and not mine. I have edited only to shorten the excerpts where necessary

The Brussels Journal
The Fall of France
From the desk of Paul Belien on Sat, 2005-11-05 13:41

If Nicolas Sarkozy had been allowed to have his way, he could have saved France. Last Summer the outspoken minister of the Interior was France�s most popular politician with his promise to restore the law of the Republic in the various virtually self-ruling immigrant areas surrounding the major French cities.

These areas, which some compare to the "millet" system of the former Ottoman Empire, where each religious community (millet) conducted its own social and cultural life in its own neighbourhoods, exist not only in France, but also in Muslim neighbourhoods in Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and other countries. ...

The experience of his youth has made Sarkozy ... virtually the only one who understands what second generation immigrants really need if they want to build a future. More important than the so-called "social benefits" � the government alms provided by welfare politicians like Chirac, Villepin and their predecessors � is the provision of law and order. This guarantees that those who create wealth do not lose it to thugs who extort and rob and burn down their properties.

Sarkozy�s decision to send the police back to the suburbs which had been abandoned by previous governments ... would lead to riots was inevitable. Sarkozy knew it, and so did Chirac, Villepin and the others. ...

What happened instead was that Sarkozy's "colleagues" in government used the riots as an excuse .... Bringing down ... Sarkozy ... was told to shut up ... Villepin began a "dialogue" with the rioters. As a result the riots have spilled over from Paris to other French cities. Do not be surprised if this French epidemic soon crosses France�s borders ...

As for Sarkozy, the best thing this immigrant son can do is to resign and make a bid for the 2007 presidential elections ... But this could soon change if he remains a member of a Villepin government which is clearly unwilling to abolish the current "millet" system.
France's Intifada
It�s hard to find some good reporting on the Paris riots, one of the newspapers here this morning claimed that the violence had abated somewhat. Well, that�s hardly the case. Below I�ve translated an excerpt from the Dutch public broadcasting organization�s report on night number nine, Friday night ... The term "Paris Riots" has become a complete misnomer. There's war going on in France and that is coming from someone who is not given to hyperbole, but the facts have made that conclusion inescapable. ...
Wretchard then explains the bona-fides of these sources, offers some additional material and closes with this paragraph:
What de Villepin's planning probably missed was that the millet system plus the Internet formed a combination that would go through the 21st century "impassable Ardennes" like s..t through a goose. The millet system meant that potentially hostile foci were were already pre-deployed outside the cordon, often in cities outside Paris. And the Internet of course ensured that command and control could be exercised at a distance by command cells despite any number of deployed riot police. My guess is that by day 6 or 7 the French leadership began to doubt whether their impenetrable defenses would hold. By 9th day, I think, a real panic had begun to set in and they are now scrambling for a Plan B.

Odd patents

Some very strange things have been patented.

Here is one of them:


From the US Patent Office:

United States Patent 4,022,227
Smith , et al. May 10, 1977

Method of concealing partial baldness

A method of styling hair to cover partial baldness using only the hair on a person's head. The hair styling requires dividing a person's hair into three sections and carefully folding one section over another.

Inventors: Smith; Frank J. (233 Cosmos Drive,
Orlando, FL 32807); Smith; Donald J. (517 Brockway Ave., Orlando, FL 32807)
Appl. No.: 643681
Filed: December 23, 1975

This is just so wrong on so many levels... I fully respect people's decisions but the comb-over looks tacky. If I had hair loss, I would just shave it off and be bald. People out here are generally more concerned with who you are and what you do rather than what you look like.

Nice Bob Moog memorial


Polymath Ray Kurzwiel has written a very nice memorial for Robert Moog who passed away last August 21st:

Robert Moog (1934-2005)
I first heard a Moog synthesizer in the mid-1960s when I happened across a TV news segment about the newfangled instrument and its "sci-fi sounds," as the reporter put it. I had just finished a high school computer project on algorithmic music composition, but this was the first time I had heard synthesized sounds. It left me with an inspired feeling that a threshold had been crossed.

Robert Moog, (the name rhymes with vogue) died August 21 at age 71, but his impact on music was permanent and profound. Through the end of the 19th century, music had been made entirely from found and crafted implements - vibrating strings, resonant boxes and tubes - and of course the human voice. In the 20th century, musical devices went beyond such natural ones (which were sometimes electrically amplified) to fully embrace high technology in the form of electronic music synthesis. The first synthesizers appeared in the early 1900s, but they were obscure experiments until Moog brought them into the mainstream.

The Bob Moog I knew, however, wasn't focused on his pivotal role in music history. He was motivated by his love for invention, for applying electronics to music, and for interacting with the musicians who used his technology. He had a rare combination of talents: an intuition for signal processing and an equally clear sense of the language of music.

That last paragraph captures Bob's spirit very well. I had the great pleasure of meeting him a few times and talking to him on the phone once (I had called his company with a technical question and he picked up the phone). Ray is no slouch either. I have several of his digital synthesizers and how these came about is very interesting... Ray's first major business was building reading systems for the Blind. You would lay your printed material down on a flatbed scanner and a synthesized voice would tell you to rotate it to the right or left. When it was positioned correctly, it would start to scan and read out loud to you. The quality of the synthesized voice was very good -- it had a slight "head cold" quality to it but otherwise was very human sounding. These machines were fairly expensive (scanners were not sold at Wal-Mart then and the CPU requirements specified a mini-mainframe) so it was mostly Libraries and Universities that had them. A few well-off blind people bought them and one of these people was Stevie Wonder. (His first customer actually.) Stevie was impressed with the quality of the speech synthesis and asked Ray if the machine could synthesize musical instruments as well. Proverbial A-Ha! moment...

Happy Birthday Tylenol

Tylenol turns 50 this week. Medgaget has the birthday celebration and a retrospective:
Tylenol at 50

Acetaminophen. Paracetemol. APAP. Tylenol. Any way you say it, this drug has become synonymous with pain and fever relief. And this week, Tylenol turns 50. What began as a children's elixir has now hit middle age.

The story of its discovery is steeped in the organic chemistry of urine metabolites of the analgesics in use during the 1890's. It was not until decades later that scientists realized acetaminophen was far less toxic than other alternatives:
In 1946, the Institute for the Study of Analgesic and Sedative Drugs awarded a grant to the New York City Department of Health to study the problems associated with analgesic agents. Bernard Brodie and Julius Axelrod were assigned to investigate why non-aspirin agents were associated with the development of methemoglobinemia, a non-lethal blood condition. In 1948, Brodie and Axelrod linked the use of acetanilide with methemoglobinemia and determined that the analgesic effect of acetanilide was due to its active metabolite paracetamol. They advocated the use of paracetamol (acetaminophen), since it did not have the toxic effects of acetanilide.

The product went on sale in the United States in 1955 under the brand name Tylenol.
It's been ingested by billions, and prescribed by some of us just yesterday. But how it works is still not clearly understood.
Medgaget explores some of the ideas of how it works and touches on the 1982 Cyanide tampering that killed seven people in Chicago. One of those "little miracles" that we all to often take for granted.

Air Traffic

Very cool website -- features real-time tracking of flights in North America by Flight number, type of Airplane, Airport. It also has historical data and analysis of traffic.

I present FlightAware

Here is a real-time chart of all the airplanes leaving or coming into Bellingham International Airport at 8:30PM today:

Click for full-size Image

It aggregates data available from FAA online sources and compiles it into this wonderful resource. They are supporting themselves with Google advertising and offering customized commercial services.

China and Blogging

The Chinese government is not one noted for human rights. The current regime follows closely the path of Mao's disastrous "reformations" that resulted in 40 million deaths and a giant leap backwards for Chinese education, medical care and scientific progress. One of the small voices raised against the government has been stilled.

From Tech News World:

China Shuts Down Pro-Democracy Blog
Chinese authorities have blocked a pro-democracy Web log after it was nominated for a freedom of expression award by a German radio station, a press freedom group said yesterday.

The blog, titled Wang Yi's Microphone, dealt with "sensitive subjects" and was maintained by a teacher from Sichuan province, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

Dissidents Arrested

China's communist government encourages Internet use for education and business, but blocks material deemed subversive or pornographic.

Dissidents have been arrested under vaguely worded national security laws for posting items critical of the government.

Reporters Without Borders said Wang's blog was ordered closed by the authorities in Hainan province, where the site's host company, Tianya, is located.

The site was nominated for a "Best of the Blogs" award in the freedom of expression category by the German public radio station Deutsche Welle.

Sensitive Subject

On its Web site, the radio station described Wang as an "anti-government Chinese intellectual" who used the blog to fight for justice. It did not give details.

The Reporters Without Borders statement said one of Wang's most recent posts dealt with a campaign by peasants in the southeastern province of Guangdong to remove a village chief accused of corruption.

When people like Wang Yi are stifled and useful idiots like Carter get the Peace Prize, the world is not a fair place.

The Bottle Buddy

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From Canada eh. From their website: Bottle Buddy:
Bottle Buddy: The ring bottle opener you wear!
Not just bling for beer drinkers, the Bottle Buddy is a must have for all people against thirst! This high quality stainless steel ring is a wonder of design and function comes in sizes 8-14. Worn on the middle finger the Bottle Buddy is distinctive and effortless to use. The Bottle Buddy will work with both regular and twist-off bottle caps.

Mt. Baker snow conditions

The Mt. Baker Snow Blog posted a couple photos yesterday of conditions at the Mt. Baker Ski Area and the work getting it ready for their Tuesday (Nov. 8th) opening. Here is one:
A local restaurant held a party last evening to "Pray for Snow". It was jammed and things got so rowdy that the County Sheriff was there. A good time was had by all...

If Bush really was Hitler

Og at Neanderpundit has compiled a wonderful list of what would happen if the Lefties rhetoric was actually true and Bush really was an evil dictator:

Bush=Hitler!!! Really!
I never cease to be amazed by the people that buy into the whole concept that Bush is evil. I have to tell you, I wish he were.

Top Ten Changes that would be made if Bush WERE an evil dictator:

1: Mikey Moore is run through a meat shredder, and the rotting fat from his corpse would be fertilizing a Nebraska cornfield. A BIG nebraska cornfield.
2: Cindy Sheehan, poster child for greed and child abuse, would be handcuffed to a lawnmower and forced to mow the lawn at Dubya's ranch.
3:Ronnie Earle would mysteriosly disapear, and his picture would appear on milk cartons all over - barcelona.
4:Hollywood would be melted down and turned into a giant truck driver's belt buckle.
5:Actors who openly spoke out against the president would be tortured in public and forced to kiss Dick Cheney's pimply white ass.

He lists five more and then pointedly compares the Bush administration with the Clinton administration and notes some of the suspicious deaths during President Bill's tenure. Especially Suzanne Coleman who died of a gunshot wound to the back of the head, which was ruled a suicide...

Things that make you go Hmmm Hummer

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Ran into this blog and this post with a wonderful bit of sleuthing:
Hummer Overfloweth
The word around town was that the Hummers weren't moving. It looked like high gas prices and a White House reversal on fuel conservation meant that fewer "W" bumper stickers would find their exposed sticky sides mating gloriously with the smooth rear bumper of an H2, somewhere between the tow loop and the access hole for a Class 3 hitch.

We were skeptical at first. Sources can be unreliable, but the scuttlebutt was that inventory had been building for months now and the local Hummer dealer had panicked. He had begun storing his Hummer inventory at an undisclosed location, far from the dealer showroom so as not to spook jittery, prospective buyers with the mounting number of unsold H2s and H3s.

When an anonymous caller phoned in with the location, we were off. "The rear parking lot of the Hyatt Westlake Plaza Hotel", he said, just before the line went dead.
Here is what they found:
About 150 H3's and eight or ten original H1's But there were no H2's -- from the post:
Someone from the dealership pulled in with another H3, so we wandered over and asked how business was these days. He said something about hurricanes and gas prices, then we asked where the H2s were. He said, "They're at the other lot".


Thrilled and amused as we were, we'd only learned part of the story. After getting directions we proceeded to lot #2, while placing a few quick bets with an over/under quickly set at 60. The thinking here was that the despite looking like a Jeep Cherokee on steroids, the H3s were about $20K less expensive than the H2s and had respectable fuel economy (16 city / 19 highway is what the sticker said) - maybe the dealer had just placed a very large, poorly timed order, a few months back.

Surely the H2 inventory was under control.

Pulling into lot #2, the "under" looked liked it would be the clear winner - forty, fifty tops, from the first looks of it.
They found about 150 H2's in the other lot. Of course, General Motors is responding intelligently to this development. From Yahoo/Reuters:
GM to boost Hummer 3, truck output
General Motors Corp. on Thursday said it will invest about $20 million in its Shreveport, Louisiana, truck assembly plant to increase production of the Hummer H3 sport utility vehicle and Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon mid-size pickups.

The plant will add a third production shift to its paint shop in the first quarter of 2006 to prepare for increased production, the world's largest automaker said.

Our Mountain

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We live in the foothills of Mt. Baker. Last years ski season was disastrous as we had a continuous high-pressure area camped out over this area for the entire winter and snowfalls were minimal. Several annual events had to be canceled for want of snow. With any luck, this will not happen this year. From Mt. Baker Ski Area Homepage here is their Snow Report page Today's entry:
Base at Heather Meadows: 60 in
Base at Pan Dome: 75 in

Ohhh boy is it coming down! It has been a blizzard all day. Duncan just called down with the afternoon update and said it is so deep that if you step off the track where the snowcats have been you sink in chest deep!

So with 60 inches at the base and over 75 inches up on top, according to's data base, we now have the highest snowbase of any ski area in the world!

We are also advising you that due to this tremendous snowfall, in simple terms: stay out of the backcountry. It is extremely unstable and extremely dangerous.

We will be doing extensive snow control work inside the ski area the next few days to prepare for opening day, so please be advised of that as well.

Stay tuned, because it is looking like this coming Tuesday, will be the deepest powder day opening we have had in more than 25 years!

We will be posting photos from today sometime this evening once the photographer makes it in from out on the mountain!
Also, they just started a Snow Blog

Katrina Levee failure post-mortem

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The post-mortem on the failed Levee's in New Orleans is starting and some suspicions are starting to pan out. From NOLA.COM:
Levee materials, techniques questioned
Possible malfeasance on project, reports to engineers indicate

Engineers looking into failures in the New Orleans levee system say they have received reports of possible malfeasance in construction of canal floodwalls that failed during Hurricane Katrina and believe more investigation is needed.

Ray Seed, a professor of engineering at the University of California at Berkeley who is heading a National Science Foundation probe, told a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday that people involved in building the levees had approached investigators with stories of contractors using substandard practices and building materials -- some in breached areas, some elsewhere.

Seed cautioned that it's too early to tell whether the reports will pan out, or whether they will ultimately be linked to the breaches in the 17th Street and London Avenue canal floodwalls that allowed water to pour into much of the city after Katrina. "We don't want to alarm people because some of those stories probably won't hold up," he said.

After the hearing Seed said the engineers are "hearing from people who were involved and now feel very badly and want to try and make it right, because now they understand that it was dangerous. We're hearing from widows of people like that. We're hearing it from a variety of sources right now, and what makes us nervous is we're hearing some stories repeated from different sources."

Investigators have concluded that Katrina's storm surge in Lake Pontchartrain did not top floodwalls in the 17th Street and London Avenue canals, which were breached in three places. That suggests human error may be to blame.

Allegations of flaws

The walls may have had design flaws, particularly in their sheet pile foundations, which engineers say were too short to anchor the walls and prevent storm surge from seeping underneath. After Katrina's surge rose to 10 or 11 feet in the canals, soft soil beneath walls in two areas moved and the walls failed, according to a preliminary report released Wednesday by engineering teams for the National Science Foundation and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

Seed said some of the reports of construction irregularities correlate with what investigating engineers have observed on the ground and should be thoroughly investigated.

"Examples of allegations would be sheet piling being less perhaps than was called for, or embankment materials that were supposed to be imported as a relatively dry and compactable fill being instead brought in wet from a swamp and not being compactable," Seed said. "Things that would save significant time and money and certainly be expedient, but things that would not necessarily foment improved safety."

The breached 17th Street Canal floodwall was built in 1993 by Pittman Construction, a firm that no longer exists. It is not clear which company built the London Avenue canal walls.
Emphasis mine -- got to love that quote: "things that would not necessarily foment improved safety" The article goes into some more detail about things that have been found already. Add to this the fact that multiple agencies were in charge of different levee's and you have a recipe for failure.

Relativity meets its match...

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It may be counter-intuitive to people but one of the basic tenets of relativity is that you cannot send information faster than the speed of light. However, if you are able to s..l..o..w.. the light down: ZDnet reports on some very cool stuff coming from the IBM R&D labs:
IBM slows light, readies it for networking
IBM has created a chip that can slow down light, the latest advance in an industrywide effort to develop computers that will use only a fraction of the energy of today's machines.

The chip, called a photonic silicon waveguide, is a piece of silicon dotted with arrays of tiny holes. Scattered systematically by the holes, light shown on the chip slows down to 1/300th of its ordinary speed of 186,000 miles per second. In a computer system, slower light pulses could carry data rapidly, but in an orderly fashion. The light can be further slowed by applying an electric field to the waveguide.

Researchers at Harvard University and the University of California, Berkeley, have slowed light in laboratories. IBM, though, claims that its light-slowing device is the first to be fashioned out of fairly standard materials, potentially paving the way toward commercial adoption.
Very awesome. They are not just shining a flashlight and using some variant of Morse Code to send data, the data is riding in the light itself and because the light has been slowed down, the relativistic effects that damp out the transmission of information do not seem to come into play. This sure is a fun time to be alive!

Cool new products

Devolo is marketing a MicroLink dLAN series of adapters which caught my eye.

They don't seem to be available in the States quite yet but when they are, it will solve a lot of people's issues.

UPDATE: Expansys carries just the LAN starter kit for $209.95 sells a wider range and they do ship to the USA with no problems. Meet:


MicroLink dLAN Highspeed Starter Kit
The MicroLink dLAN Highspeed Ethernet is the first product to offer data transfers at up to 85 Mbps over the household power circuit. This new high-speed generation of devolo dLAN adapters now opens up a whole new range of possibilities. The new high-speed standard ensures that PCs can even exchange large files via the electricity supply without long waits. Even videos in DVD quality can be sent through the household electricity circuit. In combination with IP-TV, video on demand is an impressive experience anywhere in the home - wherever there's a power socket.

And for Audio, check out:


MicroLink dLAN Audio
MicroLink dLAN Audio combines the technologies of HomePlug and MP3 to offer you many advantages for convenient music and speech transmission on every floor, in every room. This product lets you enjoy music in stereo quality from any power socket - quickly and flexibly - with audio data rates of 44.1 kHz. You don't even need a PC to transfer audio data - just plug and play. Your hi-fi can send music to active loudspeakers in another room, or play MP3 files received from your computer or Internet radio stations.

The dLAN Audio comes with 2x line in, 2x line out, 1x SPDIF in and 1x SPDIF out (digital). Very cool -- saves running wires all over the house and doesn't poop out when you use the microwave or a 2.4GHz phone...

The Great Society

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Interesting look at the aftermath of Katrina at WorldNetDaily:
Failure of an idea
... and a people

In his 1935 State of the Union Address, FDR spoke to a nation mired in the Depression, but still marinated in conservative values:
"Continued dependence" upon welfare, said FDR, "induces a spiritual disintegration fundamentally destructive to the national fiber. To dole our relief in this way is to administer a narcotic, a subtle destroyer of the human spirit."
Behind FDR's statement was the conviction that, while the government must step in in an emergency, in normal times, men provide the food, clothing and shelter for their families.
Fast forward to post-Katrina with a brief pause in the 1960's:
But with the 1964 landslide of LBJ, liberalism triumphed and began its great experiment.

Behind the Great Society was a great idea: to lift America's poor out of poverty, government should now take care of all their basic needs. By giving the poor welfare, subsidized food, public housing and free medical care, government will end poverty in America.

At the Superdome and New Orleans Convention Center, we saw the failure of 40 years of the Great Society. No sooner had Katrina passed by and the 17th Street levee broke than hundreds of young men who should have taken charge in helping the aged, the sick and the women with babies to safety took to the streets to shoot, loot and rape. The New Orleans police, their numbers cut by deserters who left their posts to look after their families, engaged in running gun battles all day long to stay alive and protect people.
Emphasis mine. As I have said before, the four levels of protection are simple: 1st - Personal 2nd - Municipal 3rd - State 4th - Federal If a CAT-5 hurricane is bearing down on you, you grab as much food from your pantry as possible and leave the area several days in advance. If a power line or water main breaks, it is your Municipality's responsibility to make repairs. If there is an earthquake or hurricane, the State should be the first line of aid. The Federal government is invited in by the State (something which Gov. Blanco failed to do for several key days prompting Bush to fly down to persuade her) and their specialty is mop-up and large scale rebuilding. Those people who complain about how slow FEMA was have no clue as to how the various governmental levels work and interact. What were they doing in Civics Class?

X-Rays and Sparks

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Interesting... From Science Daily:
Lightning research sparks new discovery
A Florida Institute of Technology study has discovered laboratory-generated sparks can make X-rays.

Joseph Dwyer, an associate professor of physics and space sciences, is noted for previous discoveries related to X-ray emission from natural and triggered lightning.

"We know that X-rays are made in outer space -- in exotic places like the center of the sun and supernovae -- but we didn't think they could be made so easily in the air," said Dwyer.

Dwyer and his team set up their equipment next to a Marx spark generator just to see what would happen. Half the team guessed they would see X-rays, half thought not.

What they found was 14 tests of 1.5- 2.0 million-volt sparks in the air produced X-ray bursts similar to X-ray bursts previously observed from lightning.

"This amazed us," said Florida Tech Professor Hamid Rassoul, a co-author of the study. "It opens the door to answering really big questions about lightning by generating it in the lab. It also tells us that we have a lot to learn about how even small sparks work."

Cool do-it-yourself Microscope

I love Microscopes -- have a decent Russian one myself.

Here is a website that walks you through building your own compound microscope using lenses from disposable cameras (ask the one-hour photo places for their dead bodies) as well as several improvements: A ONE-DOLLAR COMPOUND MICROSCOPE


Damage Control

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I would hate to have this guy's job... I had posted earlier about a food and supply distribution site run by Pastors from the Southern Baptist Convention who denied water to clients because it came from Beer manufacturer Anheuser-Busch who had used one of their canning lines to can nine million cans of fresh drinking water. This post received a comment today from Mr. Keith Hinson, public relations associate from the Alabama Baptist Convention State Board of Missions in Montgomery, Alabama. Keith's comment was:
Volunteers working with the Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief Unit honored the request of the host pastor to set aside canned water with an Anheuser-Busch logo. At no time was anyone deprived of water. In fact, there was a huge surplus of bottled and canned water available at the Clewiston relief site. There was never any disruption in the supply of water being given out to members of the public who continued to receive food, water and other types of assistance from Alabama Baptist Disaster Relief workers.
It is an absolute falsehood to suggest -- as many irresponsible bloggers have -- that the Baptist volunteers withheld the basic needs of life from Floridians impacted by the hurricane. Contrary to misinterpretations of news reports, no one was denied access to water.
One may disagree with the strong stand that many Southern Baptists take against the consumption of alcohol. One may even regard such opposition to alcohol as offensive.
But it's impossible to say truthfully that this conviction caused any inconvenience or shortage for victims of Hurricane Wilma. The facts are exactly the opposite. The fact is that virtually all of the Southern Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers serve selflessly -- taking time away from employment and family to minister in the name of Jesus Christ. Churches such as First Baptist Church, Clewiston, graciously serve as host sites -- providing a place where food, water and other necessities of life may be obtained by anyone in need -- without regard to religion or any other demographic consideration.
Get some bad press and then have to spend the next couple days Googling and posting to try to correct this. Two sides to every story...

Light posting

Finishing off a website for a client. I'll post the link when it's done because it is a great holiday gift -- the guy is a photographer who had several months in Alaska this last summer to shoot Grizzly Bears at close range. He is selling a 2006 calender

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