July 2009 Archives

That being said...

I just had to link to this. Anthony Watts runs an excellent blog on climate and the science behind it. Needless to say, with an emphasis on numbers and science, Global Warming is not even considered a reality and it is called as being the political power-grab that it is. Well, a Mr. Peter Sinclair did a YouTube denunciation of Anthony's work and Anthony proceeds to take him apart piece by piece. A most excellent fisking... As I am reading this, Anthony posted links to elements of Mr. Sinclair's work which are now offline. Hmmmm... Hit a nerve? 180+ comments -- lots of fun reading and a few moonbats.

No blogging tonight

What with the hot weather and the roofers pounding early today trying to avoid the heat I am tired. Heading off to the DaveCave(tm) and check email and then up to bed... The weather is finally starting to moderate but it is now so dry that no private burning is allowed except charcoal in barbecues. No wood fires anywhere. The local State Park is allowing wood and charcoal fires at their campsites but you have to have two 5-gallon buckets of water or a hose nearby and there has to be a camp officer on duty. Crews are out fighting a lot of smaller forest fires -- one side effect of the hot weather is convection cells and the resultant thunderstorms.

Can't get no respect

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It is the last Friday in July and therefore, National System Administrator Appreciation Day. From Network World:
Have you hugged your SysAdmin today?
10th annual System Administrator Appreciation Day honors IT pros for their daily contributions

When your e-mail works today or the application you depend upon responds quickly, don't forget to thank your company's system administrator � who probably played some part in ensuring you could remain productive and get your job done.

The last Friday in every July marks System Administrator Appreciation Day. In its 10th year, the annual day of recognition was created in 2000 by Systems Administrator Ted Kekatos, who was working as an IT manager for a small start-up at the time and thought it might be nice for him and his colleagues to get a bit of recognition. According to the holiday's Web site, sysadmins have been work hard in a mostly thankless job most days.

"Let's face it, System Administrators get no respect 364 days a year. This is the day that all fellow System Administrators across the globe, will be showered with expensive sports cars and large piles of cash in appreciation of their diligent work," the Web site reads. "But seriously, we are asking for a nice token gift and some public acknowledgement. It's the least you could do."

IT professionals say acknowledgements could be small, maybe just a treat after a busy day. Dwayne Whitmore, senior systems engineer in the technology services group for Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C., says he got into technology because he likes helping people. Just working in technology and healthcare fulfills two goals he set for himself, but it's always nice to hear from others at his organization when his efforts make others' work easier, he says.
Next time the server goes down, do you want us surfing around on YouTube for another hour or jumping up and fixing the problem (plugging it back in).

It is fscking hot outside

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10PM and it is still 82F and over 50% humidity. A breeze is blowing but not enough to break the heat. Heading out to the Sweat Lodge Dave Cave(tm) to do a quick email check and then to bed. The roofers are doing some awesome work -- they have a cool machine that takes rolls of the roofing, forms it into shape and cuts it to length automatically. Kynar coating (I know the guy whose Dad developed the method used to apply Kynar to wire for insulation -- I have done a lot of electronics and Kynar Wire is great stuff...) and a guaranteed 50 year life span. The lead on the project was talking to me this morning and said that the house was built like a Brick S... (he caught himself) er... House. We are lucky to have a great crew and Roger (company owner and lead) is awesome. I have been through this building throughly and I agree. There were a couple electrical 'issues' when we first moved in but I have these fixed and the place is solid.

XKCD and the Current Events

Fun thought from XKCD:
Click to embiggen...
I had made two trips up to Canada before and had an 'interesting' time coming back into the USA. I wrote about them here and here. Today I went up to pick up two more items I had won at the auction -- a little air sample to accompany my weather station and a nice Welch-Sargent rotary vane vacuum pump with a possibly fried motor. The annotation on the description said that the on/off switch was burned out and that is often a bad starting capacitor ($12) or bad motor (I have a couple half-horse motors kicking around anyway). I arrived at Customs and waited about 45 minutes in the line. The air conditioning in the truck is dead and there was no breeze to be had. I finally get to the Kiosk and they ask the usual questions. The guy hands me a pink slip and tells me to pull over... Unfortunately, the people before me were a Canadian family (husband, wife and two kids around 6yo.). As I was waiting in the office, the husband was placed in handcuffs and lead away. I overheard the Customs Officer telling the wife that the guy had lied to them about being arrested and they were being sent back to Canada. Needless to say, I was not the focus of their attention so I hung out in their nice air-conditioned office for two hours waiting for them to process me. The last time through, they went into the truck and looked but this time they tossed it completely -- even sealed boxes from Ikea were opened and gone through. My center console wasn't given a quick slap and tickle, it was dumped out onto a table and pawed through. The last time I went through, they asked for the first time if I had any sharp or pointed objects or knives. I always carry and I replied yes. Later, I found out what that question was in reference to and posted about it here. Left the knife at home today. Good as they asked the same question and fortunately, through an email I received today, the Customs people are backing down on this little power grab. I guess they received a lot of letters from people. They certainly received one from me... I am planning next time (month or two) to detail the truck -- get it completely empty -- and then go up with Jen, have lunch at Ikea, buy a thing or two for the house and drive back through the same station. See what happens...

I had posted about outbreaks of Late Blight here back on July 11th. Late Blight is what caused the Irish Potato Famine and it also affects other crops like tomatoes. Well, it is more serious than initially reported. From the New York Times:

Outbreak of Fungus Threatens Tomato Crop
A highly contagious fungus that destroys tomato plants has quickly spread to nearly every state in the Northeast and the mid-Atlantic, and the weather over the next week may determine whether the outbreak abates or whether tomato crops are ruined, according to federal and state agriculture officials.

The spores of the fungus, called late blight, are often present in the soil, and small outbreaks are not uncommon in August and September. But the cool, wet weather in June and the aggressively infectious nature of the pathogen have combined to produce what Martin A. Draper, a senior plant pathologist at the United States Department of Agriculture, described as an "explosive" rate of infection.

William Fry, a professor of plant pathology at Cornell, said, "I've never seen this on such a wide scale."

A strain of the fungus was responsible for the Irish potato famine of the mid-19th century. The current outbreak is believed to have spread from plants in garden stores to backyard gardens and commercial fields. If it continues, there could be widespread destruction of tomato crops, especially organic ones, and higher prices at the market.

"Locally grown tomatoes normally get $15 to $20 a box" at wholesale, said John Mishanec, a pest management specialist at Cornell who has been visiting farms and organizing emergency growers� meetings across upstate New York. "Some growers are talking about $40 boxes already." Tomatoes on almost every farm in New York's fertile "Black Dirt" region in the lower Hudson Valley, he said, have been affected.

Professor Fry, who is genetically tracking the blight, said the outbreak spread in part from the hundreds of thousands of tomato plants bought by home gardeners at Wal-Mart, Lowe's, Home Depot and Kmart stores starting in April. The wholesale gardening company Bonnie Plants, based in Alabama, had supplied most of the seedlings and recalled all remaining plants starting on June 26. Dennis Thomas, Bonnie Plants� general manager, said five of the recalled plants showed signs of late blight.

Ouch -- the weather (except for here) has been unseasonably cool and wet -- perfect conditions for a fungal infection. In my first post I noted that the box store nursery people were not trained to recognize an infected plant and that the Blight was able to spread because of gardeners who weren't expecting anything with that serious a repercussion...

Mineta's Morons strike again

From NBC/Miami:
TSA Plunders Boy's Disney Toys
Pirates of the Caribbean "weapons" taken at Ft. Lauderdale airport

An eight-year-old boy who lost his dad to cancer traveled to Disney World to get his mind off the tragedy, but his family says he suffered yet another blow after his Disney toys were taken by TSA workers in Ft. Lauderdale.

The family of Jeremiah Ramirez brought the youngster from North Carolina to Disney to raise his spirits, a dream vacation after such a terrible loss.

"It was devastating," said Jeremiah's cousin, Joe Chao, who lives in South Florida. "I just wanted to bring some sunshine into my cousin's life."

While at Disney, little Jeremiah picked up a Pirates of the Caribbean toy gun and sword, and was hoping to bring them back to North Carolina.

But his mom says that when she and Jeremiah tried to go through security at Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport earlier this week, the toys were taken away.

"It's very upsetting because at one point I had told one of the employees, 'You know this is not a real weapon,' and he said 'Yes, I understand that, it doesn't matter,'" said mom Maria Edge.

Edge said she became even angrier when she claims that not long after the TSA officers had confiscated the items, she saw the officers playing with the toy sword and gun.
Silver lining:
The story does have a happy ending. Disney officials sent Jeremiah replacement toys after they heard about the incident.
From CNN -- 43 things that were said during a job interview. Here are three of them:
We asked hiring managers to share the craziest things they've heard from applicants in an interview. Some are laugh-out-loud hysterical, others are jaw dropping -- the majority are both. To be sure, they will relieve anyone who has ever said something unfortunate at a job interview -- and simply amuse the rest of you.

What kind of computer software have you used?
"Computers? Are those the black boxes that sit on the floor next to the desks? My boss has one of those. He uses it. I don't have one. He just gives me my schedule and I follow it."

What are your hobbies and interests?
"[He said] 'Well, as you can see, I'm a young, virile man and I'm single -- if you ladies know what I'm saying.' Then he looked at one of the fair-haired board members and said, 'I particularly like blondes.'"

Why are you leaving your current job?
"I was fired from my last job because they were forcing me to attend anger management classes."
Swiped from the ever wonderful Miss Celania
We are in the middle of an unusual heat wave. Today was the hottest forecast day for this week but the weather situation is static and there is no way of telling what next week will bring. The local Chamber of Commerce office is in the same building as our store and they are roasting -- I was heading into town anyway so I volunteered to look for an Air Conditioner. None were to be had. I checked at our locally owned major hardware store and they had received a delivery that morning and there were people lined up for one block. Nothing at Target (no fans), nor Walmart. I checked Costco and they do get them in each morning but sell out in 30 minutes. Home Depot and Lowes are not expecting to get any more in as this is a 'seasonal' item and it is past their season. I would like to rent a You-Haul truck in Idaho (where it is unseasonably cool) and drive the load over to Bellingham, set up in a local supermarket parking lot and sell the conditioners for $$$. Call me a mercenary but I bet I could make a killing...

Low levels of spam recently?

Do you wonder why the number of people offering to transfer large sums of money into your bank account has declined in the last couple of days? From OpenNet:
Damaged cable causes Internet blackout in four West African countries
Five days ago, the Appfrica tech blog reported an Internet blackout in Benin, a West African country roughly the size of Ohio. The outage, which also affected neighboring Togo, Niger and Nigeria, was caused by damage to the SAT-3 submarine communications cable, which links Portugal and Spain to South Africa via the West African coastline.

The Internet blackout left Benin, Togo and Niger without an optical fiber link to the outside world, meaning Internet users in these countries have been forced to rely on rare, expensive satellite connections to get online.
That will put a dent in the 419 business...

Obamacare lite - Medicare fraud

If we cannot keep the corruption out of Medicare, how can we keep the corruption out of the socialized medicine that Obama and the Dems want to ram down our throats. From Yahoo News/Associated Press:
Dozens arrested in Medicare fraud busts across US
Federal authorities arrested more than 30 suspects, including doctors, and were seeking others in a major Medicare fraud bust Wednesday in New York, Louisiana, Boston and Houston, targeting scams such as "arthritis kits" � expensive braces that many patients never used.

More than 200 agents worked on the $16 million bust that included 12 search warrants at health care businesses and homes across the Houston area, where the bulk of the arrests were made.

Federal authorities say those businesses were giving patients "arthritis kits," which were nothing more than expensive orthotics that included knee and shoulder braces and heating pads. Patients told authorities they were unnecessary and many never even received them. But health care clinic owners billed between $3,000 to $4,000 for each kit.

Houston's other scam involved billing Medicare for thousands of dollars worth of liquid food like Ensure for patients who can't eat solid food. Authorities said clinic owners never distributed the food to patients. In some cases, clinic owners billed patients who were dead when they allegedly received the items.

It's the third major sweep since Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced in May they were adding millions of dollars and dozens of agents to combat a problem that costs the U.S. billions each year.
our tax dollars at work -- the shame is the patients who never received the stuff...

Spent the day setting up some computers and hanging out in the store.

We are caught between two low pressure zones and the high-pressure zone over us cannot move so it is incredibly clear and the temperatures are in the 90's.

We usually get a week or so of this each summer but this is scheduled to go on for at least two and tomorrow is supposed to be even worse with temps in the low 100's, cooling off a bit with temps to rise again by the weekends.

Fire danger is extremely high as there is a lot of wooded areas with dead underbrush. Burn ban in effect... I just did a large update to the Blogroll to the right -- check out the new stuff.

Off to the DaveCave(tm) -- it should have cooled off to the 80's by now...

Large Photo-voltaic generating arrays require large synchronous inverters if you are planning to intertie with an existing power grid. A synchronous inverter syncs up with the 60 Cycle current of the grid and allows the two to flow together without any phase lead or lag and it gives an efficient flow of power. Needless to say, given the large power capacity of the switching circuits, these are nosebleed expensive. Enphase Energy looked at the problem from a different angle and came up with a wonderful idea... The circuitry used to determine the phase of the power and give the inverter the ability to sync with the power line used to be very expensive. Now it can be done with a simple $5 microprocessor and another $5 of "chip glue" (ancillary components). The power transistors are still very expensive -- disproportionately so as fewer of these are called for and made than the lower power transistors. What Enphase Energy is doing is very cool -- from C/NET News Green Tech:
An inverter in every solar panel?
Enphase Energy said on Tuesday that it has raised $15 million to ramp up production of its microinverters, a design that it claims significantly boosts the power output and reliability of solar panels.

Rockport Capital Partners led the series C financing, which was joined by existing investors Third Point Ventures and Applied Ventures, the venture capital arm of solar equipment manufacturer Applied Materials.

Enphase Energy's CEO Paul Nahi said the company raised money earlier than anticipated because it's seeing strong demand for its microinverters, which can improve the energy capture of solar panels by 5 to 25 percent.

Solar photo voltaic panels generate direct current from sunlight. An inverter, often placed on the side of a building, is needed to convert that direct current to the alternating current that comes out of electrical outlets.

Typically, one single inverter is dedicated to a rooftop array of panels for a homeowner.

Enphase Energy, by contrast, has built a DC-to-AC inverter that is placed on each single panel.

That design is more reliable than a centralized inverter and more efficient, so panels can generate more electricity, Nahi said. The company started shipping its microinverters earlier this year and has signed on with a number of panel distributors and installers, he said.
Obviously for now, these will be high-ticket items but once the technology matures (five years) they should be very very cheap. Fun time to be alive!

Potty Pork

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Out tax dollars at work - from the New York Post:
The feds are spending tens of millions of stimulus dollars to repair and build toilets across the nation, in an outflow of taxpayer funds that critics have branded "potty pork."

From humble sylvan outhouses to "historic" restrooms, cash from the $787 billion stimulus is going to spruce up or completely replace aging toilets, government releases show.

In New Mexico alone, the feds are spending $2.8 million for toilets in national forests.

The bathroom bonanza runs across myriad federal agencies, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to the Veterans Affairs Administration and the Army.

"You could definitely say this is potty pork," said Leslie Paige of Citizens Against Government Waste. "This puts a whole different swirl on money going down the drain."

Many proposals cite the need to improve accessibility under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
ADA Compliance is a good thing but this is money that should be coming out of the budgets of the people who own the toilets and not some federal slush fund...
Had to head into town -- the weather has been nice and hot and the tourists are demanding beer and more beer. Picked up a bunch as well as a couple other things I needed. Came home in time for the Water Board meeting -- we meet once/month to administer the local water co-op. Had a cold dinner (it is still hot at 9:30) and then heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to read email on my new (for email) computer. This was my old music system and I stripped it down and installed a couple of apps and outlook. 1.6GHz with 4GB RAM should be fine... Wednesday is supposed to be around 100F

Brain Drain in the USA

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Interesting (and not unexpected but still not all that good) demographic. From MS/NBC / Business Week:
Skilled immigrants fleeing the U.S.
The �brain drain� is reversing as the recession slashes jobs, opportunities

Lured by the prospect of climbing to the top of his field, New Delhi native Swaroop Ganguly came to the U.S. 10 years ago and earned a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 2005.

He became an expert in an emerging technology called spintronics, used to power semiconductors, and worked at several chip companies, including Freescale Semiconductor. But Ganguly, now 32, is moving back to India this summer.

Although he has been doing postdoctoral work at the University of Texas, he figures his prospects for research and professional development are probably better in his home country. "I feel quite excited about going back," he says.

Ganguly has already accepted a job as a professor of electrical engineering at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. The position will pay a fraction of the salary he had been earning in the private sector�about $15,000 compared with $100,000�but it will offer considerably more job security and the freedom to do the exploratory research he wants to do.

"The real lure of being in the U.S. is to do really innovative work, but the space for that seems to be shrinking," he says. "The Indian government is putting a huge amount of funding into science and technology, so even if they can't pay high salaries, it's an attractive prospect."
Not mentioned but obvious is that it is a lot cheaper to live over there. Get in on the ground floor and these people will be golden. It is a shame that the US companies have outsourced so much of our basic manufacture as this is the engine that really drives R&D and the tech market. Sure, you can manufacture a television set for cheaper in China but you are also training all of those Chinese technicians to compete with us and when they reach parity and when we no longer have the ability to tool up a manufacturing line, our days will be if not over, greatly diminished. If the US was a star, we would become a red giant...
From the Congressional Quarterly:
Pelosi's Door Revolves for Top Lobbyist
The revolving door is wide open in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office just two years after she promised to crack down on the practice of congressional aides moving into lobbying shops and then back into government.

Pelosi announced Monday that she is hiring one of Washington's top lobbyists, Richard Meltzer, to be her policy director. It is a position in which Meltzer, a longtime Pelosi friend, is certain to have tremendous input into the shape of legislation affecting the more than 200 clients he represented according to federal lobbying disclosure records.

It is Meltzer's second tour of duty with Pelosi since Democrats won control of the House.
What a fscking harpy...
It just gets more and more interesting. Bread and circuses to divert our attention from the impending Socialized Obamacare they are trying to ram through. From CNN:
911 caller in Gates arrest never referred to 'black suspects'
The woman who made the 911 call that led to the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. never referred to black suspects when she called authorities for what she thought was a potential break-in.

Police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, released the 911 phone call Monday. In the call, Lucia Whalen reports seeing "two larger men, one looked kind of Hispanic, but I'm not really sure, and the other one entered, and I didn't see what he looked like at all."

"I just saw it from a distance, and this older woman was worried, thinking somebody's breaking in someone's house and they've been barging in," Whalen says. "She interrupted me, and that's when I noticed. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all, to be honest with you. So I was just calling because she was a concerned neighbor, I guess."
CNN has a link to the audio of the tape...
I really do not like Malthusians. They run around, stirring up people by saying that OMFG, we are going to be out of ______ in ten years and there is nothing we can do about it unless we radically scale back our economy, etc. etc. etc. Club of Rome, Peak Oil, that kind of bullshit. The thing that I do like about Malthusians is that they are 100% always dead wrong. They are very easy to debate in this manner. Hey Peak Oil people -- what if it turns out the Earth manufactures petroleum on a continuous basis. Blow your little minds... This 'abiogenic' process was first considered as early as the 16th Century and has been rattling around the geologic thought process ever since then. We know that there is a lot of petroleum derived from organic materials that have been formed under heat and pressure -- there are coal deposits that still have leaf patterns. What is puzzling is that of late, there have been record petroleum finds several miles under ground, several miles under the sea. We have to dig down seven or eight miles through water and rock to get them but they are there -- in places that were never above sea level, never had vegetation... A new paper, published today (July 26th) in Nature Geoscience might have some explanation. From EurekAlert:
Hydrocarbons in the deep Earth?
The oil and gas that fuels our homes and cars started out as living organisms that died, were compressed, and heated under heavy layers of sediments in the Earth's crust. Scientists have debated for years whether some of these hydrocarbons could also have been created deeper in the Earth and formed without organic matter. Now for the first time, scientists have found that ethane and heavier hydrocarbons can be synthesized under the pressure-temperature conditions of the upper mantle �the layer of Earth under the crust and on top of the core. The research was conducted by scientists at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, with colleagues from Russia and Sweden, and is published in the July 26, advanced on-line issue of Nature Geoscience.

Methane (CH4) is the main constituent of natural gas, while ethane (C2H6) is used as a petrochemical feedstock. Both of these hydrocarbons, and others associated with fuel, are called saturated hydrocarbons because they have simple, single bonds and are saturated with hydrogen. Using a diamond anvil cell and a laser heat source, the scientists first subjected methane to pressures exceeding 20 thousand times the atmospheric pressure at sea level and temperatures ranging from 1,300 F� to over 2,240 F�. These conditions mimic those found 40 to 95 miles deep inside the Earth. The methane reacted and formed ethane, propane, butane, molecular hydrogen, and graphite. The scientists then subjected ethane to the same conditions and it produced methane. The transformations suggest heavier hydrocarbons could exist deep down. The reversibility implies that the synthesis of saturated hydrocarbons is thermodynamically controlled and does not require organic matter.

The scientists ruled out the possibility that catalysts used as part of the experimental apparatus were at work, but they acknowledge that catalysts could be involved in the deep Earth with its mix of compounds.

"We were intrigued by previous experiments and theoretical predictions," remarked Carnegie's Alexander Goncharov a coauthor. "Experiments reported some years ago subjected methane to high pressures and temperatures and found that heavier hydrocarbons formed from methane under very similar pressure and temperature conditions. However, the molecules could not be identified and a distribution was likely. We overcame this problem with our improved laser-heating technique where we could cook larger volumes more uniformly. And we found that methane can be produced from ethane."
It will be a lot more expensive to extract this oil but it is there and in continuous production.
Just wow! From the London Daily Mail:

Pictured: The record-breaking kayaker who risked life and limb in a 186ft waterfall drop
Perched on the brink of a 186ft drop, this was the moment when Tyler Bradt probably felt the urge to start frantically paddling backwards.

Less than four seconds later, he was celebrating a world record for kayak descents.

The 22-year-old American touched 100mph as he plummeted over Palouse Falls in eastern Washington.
Quite the story to tell...
Ten days ago, Governor Palin twittered the following:
Yesterday it was this:
Heh -- bring a bag of chips and a couple beers. Politics just got interesting again...
I went to school in Boston back in the 1970's and at that time, traffic roundabouts were a big and upcoming thing. There were roundabouts put in all over. Considering that greater Boston had grown from a collection of villages and connecting horse trails, this was supposed to even out a lot of the chaotic traffic flow and make things safer. I hated these things. Everyone I talked to at the time hated them. They were forced on us by the "city planners" for whom this was a shiny new toy to solve a problem that did not really exist. Two years ago, Jen, my Dad and I went back for a family friend's memorial service and we spent a week going through some of my old stomping grounds. With the exception of the two monster roundabouts at the entrance to Cape Cod (we are talking a mile or two in diameter), every single one of these pestiferous wastes of taxpayer money had been taken out. Every last one of them. Fast-forward to today. The fair city of Bellingham seems to be quite taken with the idea. They installed a two test ones at smaller intersections out of major traffic flow but intersections that still see a lot of traffic (these are feeding the campus of a community college). The planners swore up and down that the roundabouts would reduce accidents. Today, I took a look at our local newspaper (Bellingham Herald) and saw the following front-page headlines:
Kellogg Road-Cordata Parkway roundabout had highest crash rate in city in 2008
Makes me wonder just what kind of scholarship is needed to get a job as a city planner. History is obviously not needed. And, due to the success of these two pilot roundabouts, they are putting a bunch of them on a major artery which connects to Canada.
The things that slip out of people's mouths at times... From Maggie's Farm (via Gateway Pundit):
Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously?
Via Gateway, re WH medical care advisor Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel (Rahm's brother)
Savings, he writes, will require changing how doctors think about their patients: Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously, "as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others" (Journal of the American Medical Association, June 18, 2008).

Yes, that's what patients want their doctors to do. But Emanuel wants doctors to look beyond the needs of their patients and consider social justice, such as whether the money could be better spent on somebody else.
That's why they want Docs to be government employees instead of your privately-hired professional.
A bit more from John Goodman:
If health care is to be rationed, what's the right way to do it? Zeke Emanuel (who is also the brother of White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel) wrote an entire article on this subject in the Lancet on January 31, 2009. Emanuel advocated allocating health resources in order to maximize collective life years. Suppose a 25-year-old and a 65-year-old have a life threatening disease. Since the 25-year-old has many more potential years of life ahead of him, he should receive preferential treatment, says Emanuel. He justifies denying care to elderly patients in the following way:
The complete lives system discriminates against older people�. Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years.
There's more. In a different article written more than 10 years ago for the Hastings Center Report, Emanuel said health services should not be guaranteed to "individuals who are irreversibly prevented from being or becoming participating citizens." He continues, "An obvious example is not guaranteeing health services to patients with dementia."
And we are sitting on our butts and letting them do this to us? I am 58 years old and relatively healthy. I love life. If I had an aggressive cancer, I sure as hell would want every available option for treating it. My Mom feared Doctors and died from a preventable disease but she went at 85. My Dad is 93 and frail but physically fine. A touch of dementia but it hasn't affected his long-term memories so he is having a great time living in his own little world. He lives by himself with a caretaker coming in for a few hours each day. I plan to be right up there in thirty years...

Library collections online

Very high geekdom - from the Online Education Database:

250+ Killer Digital Libraries and Archives
Hundreds of libraries and archives exist online, from university-supported sites to individual efforts. Each one has something to offer to researchers, students, and teachers. This list contains over 250 libraries and archives that focus mainly on localized, regional, and U.S. history, but it also includes larger collections, eText and eBook repositories, and a short list of directories to help you continue your research efforts.
Excellent resource and an incredibly bad time-sink -- I could spend weeks here...

Cluelessness in the schools

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You are a high-school student in Chemistry class. You fail to follow proper lab procedure and get a burn. What is the thing that you need to do next? Five points if you said lawyer up. From the Redding, CA Record Searchlight:
Central Valley student sues over chemical burns
A Central Valley High School student and her guardian are suing the Gateway Unified School District and chemistry teacher Gary "Roy" Bergstrom after a chemistry lesson allegedly left the student with chemical burns.

The suit alleges personal injury caused by negligence and seeks more than $25,000.

In a cause of action document filed in Shasta County Superior Court on June 17, Bethany Pearson and her guardian ad litem, Robyn Ellis, allege that on May 21, 2008, Pearson suffered chemical burns to her face, arms and legs in Bergstrom's class.
There are over 40 comments and one theme that runs through them is this:
Anyone who knows Mr. Bergstrom, knows he is an excellent teacher. My kids have had him as a teacher. He can teach them any day.

Wow. I had Bergstrom as a teacher in high school three years ago and he was one of my favorite teachers.

Aww. Bergstrom is definatly one of the better teachers there @ CVHS. He loves teaching and he loves those kids.
I hope the judge tosses this one into orbit and fines the family court costs...
When looking at the push to get Government run health care in the US, people are overlooking the fact that some states have implemented this as well and it simply has not worked out. Here is Tennessee's story from the Nashville Business Journal:
TennCare's troubling history
If good intentions were dollars, TennCare would be turning a profit instead of failing in its financial and moral responsibilities to the people of Tennessee.

After all, TennCare provides access to health care for the weakest and most vulnerable Tennesseans. It insures 850,000 people who are classified by the federal government as poor and therefore unable to provide health care for themselves and their families. Another 500,000 recipients of TennCare benefits are supposedly unable to buy insurance in the open market, so they buy it through TennCare.

TennCare replaced Tennessee's Medicaid program in 1994 with the promise of bringing free-market, managed care discipline to that runaway government program. Tennessee's business community, nervous about higher taxes to feed Medicaid, was happy. Advocates for the poor were happy, particularly since TennCare opened the door to universal health insurance. Members of the Legislature were happy because TennCare shifted millions of dollars of expenses to the federal government.

The only people not happy were doctors and hospital administrators, since they believed, correctly, that they were being grossly underpaid. Since they were accused of enriching themselves on the misery of the sick and at the expense of taxpayers, no one cared.

With one-quarter of Tennessee's population on its rolls, and with that kind of broad support, it seemed TennCare could not fail.

But it did.
This was written in 1999. Now, ten years later, Googling TennCare brings up stories of fraud, terminally ill patients being dropped, disabled patients needed care being dropped, serious accidents in hospitals and custodial care being refused, thousands of disabled loosing benefits, more patient cuts, and yet another case of care being dropped -- this time a quadriplegic. The system lurches along, taking vast quantities of tax dollars from the State of Tennessee but it provides inferior health care. And people seriously think that doing this on a National scale is a good thing?
A well written and sobering article on the damage that is being done to America's ability to farm because of a few environmentalists and an insignificant little fish. From the Toronto, Ontario Globe and Mail:
How green was my valley: California's drought
For a perfect view of California's economic ruin, Todd Allen's front porch is a pretty good place to stand.

At first, you would never guess it. Mr. Allen, 46, is a blond, bright-eyed farmer, just like his father and grandfather before him.

When a stranger drives to his homestead, nestled neatly in Fresno County, Mr. Allen doesn't dictate directions by distance. He punctuates them with references to things like American flags, the sweet smell of oleander and the point at which a gravel road disintegrates into dirt.

Ask Mr. Allen what he noticed when he drove along the back roads this sunny Friday morning, and his answer comes in a collage of images attesting to America's new hard times.

The lineup at the makeshift food bank by the old rodeo grounds is almost a kilometre long.

Tent cities for the homeless have sprung up on H Street in Fresno.

The last bank, Westamerica, in the nearby town of Mendota has a new sign in the window saying it will close for good.

In California, authorities have begun to issue IOUs instead of cash.

Unemployment stands at 11.6 per cent and 180 cities are set to sue the state over a budget that proposes to close a $26.3-billion shortfall by taking $4.7-billion from their coffers.

In all of this, Fresno County, where Mr. Allen was born and raised, has the unenviable distinction of being the hardest-hit county in the state.

Its jobless rate reaches 40 per cent in some towns. America's housing crisis was its most pronounced here, with prices almost triple a home's value. Nearly half of all sales these days involve foreclosure.

On paper, the numbers are staggering. For the rest of California, Fresno County stands as a cautionary tale of consequences to come.
It is that bad -- the officials in Sacramento are operating in a vacuum and think that they can spend their way out of the hole they have dug for themselves with all the entitlement programs and not saving money back when the California Economy was booming. The real cause of this story is here:
However, his particular scene of devastation, Mr. Allen argues, has nothing to do with the credit crisis, the housing crash or the downturn that has California in a vice grip.

It has to do with a seven-centimetre-long, semi-translucent, steel blue fish known as the Delta smelt.

This is not a story about fish. Rather, it is a story about how efforts to save the fish through a court-ordered water shortage have pushed a region already brought to the brink by recession over the edge.
And of course, the local businesses that depend on farmers for their livelihood are having real problems too (economist Richard Howitt of the University of California at Davis):
Without water, farmers have left an estimated 200,000 hectares of once-productive farmland fallow. Thousands of farm workers, mainly Spanish-speaking migrants, have been laid off.

Mr. Howitt estimates lost farm revenue in the San Joaquin Valley could top $2-billion this year and will suck as many as 80,000 jobs out of its already-battered economy.

�This is one of the classic, really difficult trade-offs we are faced with in hard times: environmental values versus human suffering,� he says.

�The rest of California should care about this because what's happening in Fresno is a forerunner of the essential environmental and economic debate that we're going to have because our environmental rules were set up before people were confronted with the real effects of an economic downturn.�

The bottom line, Mr. Howitt says, is that �we are going to have to make fundamental choices. ... It's fish versus jobs and communities.�
And of course, people are trying to work around this:
There is also talk of short-term solutions, such as diverting water from other areas to the San Joaquin Valley or rebuilding the pumps so they don't kill the fish.

Environmental groups still maintain that's not enough, and that any form of diversion is ultimately damaging and unsustainable.
Considering the incredible impact this is having on people's lives and the welfare of the state, I wonder how these environmental groups can collectively sleep at night. There are several tens of thousands of new species discovered each year from bacteria to bat and for one fish to be the rallying cry of a group of self-justified asshats beggars belief. These people should be relocated out of the cushy environs of Berkeley and San Francisco and be made to live on a farm for a couple of years. If the farms are forced into bankruptcy, we will loose the infrastructure and if we loose that, restarting will be that much more difficult and we will be forced to import our food. And if you think that this whole state of affairs is just wonderful, now you have an inkling of what is in store when Cap and Trade swings into effect...

Obamacare - a cartoon

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Reader Man Mountain Molehill came up with this and volunteered it for posting here:


That about sums it up...

A few words from Ayn Rand

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An observation

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This came in from an email -- edited slightly:
Does anybody out there have any memory of the reason given for the establishment of the DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY during the Carter Administration?


Bottom line -- we have spent several hundred billion dollars in support of an agency the reason for which not one person who reads this can remember.


It was very simple -- and at the time everybody thought it very appropriate...

The 'Department of Energy' was instituted on 8-04-1977 TO LESSEN OUR DEPENDENCE ON FOREIGN OIL.

Hey, pretty efficient, huh???

And now it is 2009, 32 years later and the budget for this necessary department is $24.2 BILLION EACH YEAR.

It has 16,000 Federal Employees and approximately 100,000 Contract Employees and look at the excellent job it has done.

And NOW we are going to turn the Banking System, Health Care & the Auto Industry over to them?

A new set of eyes

From Physorg:

Huge telescope opens in Spain's Canary Islands
One of the world's most powerful telescopes opened its shutters for the first time Friday to begin exploring faint light from distant parts of the universe. The Gran Telescopio Canarias, a euro130 million ($185 million) telescope featuring a 34-foot (10.4-meter) reflecting mirror, sits atop an extinct volcano. Its location above cloud cover takes advantage of the pristine skies in the Atlantic Ocean.

Planning for the telescope began in 1987 and has involved more than 1,000 people from 100 companies. It was inaugurated Friday by King Juan Carlos.

The observatory is located at 2,400 meters (7,870 feet) above sea-level where prevailing winds keep the atmosphere stable and transparent, the Canary Islands Astrophysics Institute said.

The institute, which runs the telescope, said it will capture the birth of stars, study characteristics of black holes and decipher some of the chemical components of the Big Bang.

One of the researchers may be known through his other career:

Among those who have done research at La Palma is Brian May, lead guitarist of rock group Queen, who studied there for part of his doctorate in astrophysics at the institute.

May, who published "BANG! The Complete History of the Universe" with astronomers Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott, composed a musical score for the telescope's inauguration.
Communism and Socialism are such efficient forms of government. Look at the major advances Chavez has done in Venezuela. From Mark Perry at Carpe Diem:
Venezuela to Import Coffee For 1st Time Ever!!
Caracas, July 22 - Venezuela, a traditional coffee exporter that boasts one of the best cups of java in South America, may have to import coffee for the first time ever this year or face shortages, industry experts said. Producers say rising costs and prices fixed by the government have caused production to fall and illegal exports to rise. The government says poor climate and speculation by growers and roasters is to blame.

Venezuela is known to produce some of the best quality Arabica coffee anywhere and, unlike many countries in the region, traditionally consumed most of it itself. But more recently large quantities of coffee have been smuggled across the border to Colombia, where prices have been more than double the fixed 470 Bolivares ($218) per bag that producers are paid in Venezuela.
MP: This story provides yet another example of how central planning and price controls always fail. The laws of supply and demand are not optional. Artificially fix a price below (above) the market-clearing price and you create a guaranteed shortage (surplus). Period.

Update: P.J. O'Rourke summarizes it pretty well: "You can't get good Chinese takeout in China and Cuban cigars are rationed in Cuba. That's all you need to know about communism." (HT: Tim Worstall)
We flirted with that crap during the Carter years with gasoline price controls, etc... Now we are failing to learn from our mistakes and doing it all again with medicine.
Our fair city of Bellingham is about to be graced with a visit by the media whore herself -- Cindy Sheehan. The press is trotting out that old trope of her being a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee conveniently forgetting this 1974 change to Statutes of the Committee
In 1974, the Statutes were changed in two respects. The confidential archive material that formed the basis for the evaluation and selection of candidates for the prizes, which was previously closed to all outsiders, could now be made available for purposes of historical research if at least 50 years had elapsed since the decision in question.
Emphasis mine. To put this in words of one syllable or less: The list of nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize (for all Nobel Prizes for that matter) is sealed for 50 years. OK -- so I lied about words of one syllable or less. Sheehan is lying about her Nobel Nomination. As for being a media whore, I can only offer this:
��I don�t care about them talking about me being a crackpot or a media whore, or a tool of the left, you know. I�m like if I truly was a media whore do you think I would like maybe get myself fixed up a little bit before I went on?"
From the local fishwrap - The Bellingham Herald:
Cindy Sheehan to speak in Bellingham
Anti-war activist and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize nominee Cindy Sheehan will speak in Bellingham Wednesday, July 29.

Bellingham's Veteran's for Peace Chapter 111 and Whatcom Peace and Justice Center are hosting an evening with Sheehan at 7 p.m. at Christ the Servant Lutheran Church, 2600 Lakeway Drive.

It will be the last stop on Sheehan's Myth America tour, in which she has discussed the peace movement and the division caused by social and class inequities. Admission is by donation.
Bleagh -- I'll have to remember to stay upwind for the following couple of days.
Went out for a nice diner and heading out to the DaveCave(tm) to work some more on the computers. The QuadCore Intel procs have been out for a while and the price-point is very sweet right now. These are good machines, just not bleeding edge. They will be fine for five solid years of work on the latest and greatest applications. I do a major "technology refresh" every five years or so. The Decrapifier program is a godsend when setting up a new system.
All marker based and these have been completely nailed for over two years with a simple line of regex. This is not a case of Darwinian selection going on here -- rather, I remember Einstein's wonderful quote:
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
--Albert Einstein
Six of them used a proxy IP address (which gets put into moderation immediately), ten of them used IP addresses that are known spam sites and are blocked against a public black-hole database and one lone attempt was blocked by the line of regex. All 17 IP addresses are now put into the kill file and will not darken my servers door again...
There is a wonderful little gem of a town called Stehekin on the shore of Lake Chelan. The only options for reaching it are the ferry boat or a hike. From WSB-TV:
Remote Wash. Community To Get Phone Service
One of the most remote communities in the lower 48 states is finally set to get phone service.

The National Park Service is allowing a small telephone company to use public land to bring service to Stehekin, about 100 miles northeast of Seattle in the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.

Stehekin has about 80 year-round residents and is reachable only by boat, float plane or a several-day hike through the wilderness.

The phone company, WeavTel, has been pursuing a chance to install telephone service there for years, despite opposition from some residents who don't want it. A few residents own satellite phones.
When someone makes the conscious decision to move that far out of touch, bringing them closer to civilization is not something that appeals to them. As the article said, there are some satellite phones so in the event of a medical emergency, a float plane can come out. Stehekin is a gem and it is a shame that they are trying to 'modernize' it...

Now that's the way to handle it

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As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to the fact that Barrack Obama is our President and that our taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way.

To compensate for these increases, our prices would have to increase by about 10%.. But since we cannot increase our prices right now due to the dismal state of the economy, we will have to lay off sixty of our employees instead.

This has really been bothering me, since I believe we are family here and I didn�t know how to choose who would have to go.

So, this is what I did. I walked through our parking lots and found sixty �Obama� bumper stickers on our employees� cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go. I can�t think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted for change, I gave it to them.

I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic...
Swiped from Theo.

Honey - we are moving to Ogden, Utah

This house is for sale for $374,900 -- it has 6,912 sq. ft. and the insides are original:





The house was built in 1900 by John Moses Browning.

Browning? To quote a little bit from the commemorative page over at The M1911 Pistols Organization (M1911.ORG):

John Moses Browning was the most famous and competent gunmaker the world has ever known. He was the son of Jonathan Browning, himself a highly competent gunsmith, and Elizabeth Clark.

John Moses was born January 23, 1855 in Ogden, Utah, U.S.A., where his father settled after the Mormon Exodus of 1847. It was in his father's shop that John Moses first learned the art and secrets of gunsmithing.

John Moses, however, was much more than a gunsmith in the sense that he was much more interested in designing and building new, innovative, firearms than repairing broken ones. His first creation was a single shot rifle he built at the age of 14 for his brother, Matt.

Browning went on to receive 128 Patents for his inventions. A number of the firearms and cartridges he developed are in production today.

He was one of those forces like Tesla who set the standards so high that there has been no reason to change them. Imagine living in that house -- the history...

Still working on some stuff in the DaveCave(tm) Probably have more time to surf the intarwebs tomorrow and the weekend...

More on Gates

The Smoking Gun has the Cambridge Police Department report. The media spin on this story by the Washington Post is interesting as it said about his house:
Gates was arrested outside his house in Cambridge, Mass., after a neighbor reported seeing two black men in the middle-class, predominantly white area pushing against the front door.
Gates lives on Ware Street. I went to school in Boston and spent a lot of time hanging around Cambridge and I know Ware Street. Here is Ware Street:
I am sorry but when you have houses that directly border the Harvard Campus, houses that probably sell in the $5M on up range, this is not a middle-class neighborhood. This is a neighborhood of very wealthy people. Harvard also owns a lot of properties around Cambridge so I am guessing that they are cutting Gates a sweetheart deal on the rent. This is furthered by the note in the Police Report that Harvard dispatched a locksmith to repair the door - just being a good landlord. Finally, in the Department of Irony Department, this from Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review:
He Teaches Racial Profiling
The white police sergeant criticized by President Barack Obama for arresting black scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. in his Massachusetts home is a police academy expert on racial profiling.

Cambridge Sgt. James Crowley has taught a class on racial profiling for five years at the Lowell Police Academy after being hand-picked for the job by former police Commissioner Ronny Watson, who is black, said Academy Director Thomas Fleming.

"I have nothing but the highest respect for him as a police officer. He is very professional and he is a good role model for the young recruits in the police academy," Fleming told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The course, called "Racial Profiling," teaches about different cultures that officers could encounter in their community "and how you don't want to single people out because of their ethnic background or the culture they come from," Fleming said.

Long day today

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Went to a memorial service of a man who had lived out here for 91 years. His Dad homesteaded and built the family home and Jake was born there and lived there all his life until he had to go into a nursing home last year. There were about 500 people there -- a lot of familiar faces. Good feed after. Here is the online obituary for Jake Steiner and an online Guest Book. They do not make people like this any more -- much to the detriment of this nation...
I keep coming back to the story of Henry Louis Gates Jr. (here and here) Could it be that his funding was being cut? From Nina Munk at Vanity Fair:
Rich Harvard, Poor Harvard
Only a year ago, Harvard had a $36.9 billion endowment, the largest in academia. Now that endowment has imploded, and the university faces the worst financial crisis in its 373-year history. Could the same lethal mix of uncurbed expansion, colossal debt, arrogance, and mismanagement that ravaged Wall Street bring down America�s most famous university? And how much of the turmoil is the fault of former Harvard president Larry Summers, now a top economic adviser to President Obama? As students demonstrate, administrators impose Draconian cuts, and construction is halted on an over-ambitious $1.2 billion science complex, the author follows the finger-pointing.
A bit more:
"There are going to be a hell of a lot of layoffs. Courses will be cut. Class sizes will get bigger,� conceded a Harvard insider, who, like every other administrator on campus, was not permitted to speak openly to me on the classified subject of alignments and resizements and belt-tightenings.

Radical change is coming to Harvard. Fewer professors, for one thing. Fewer teaching assistants, janitors, and support staff. Shuttered libraries. Less money for research and travel and books. Caf�s replaced by vending machines. Junior-varsity sports teams downgraded to clubs. No raises. No bonuses. No fresh coats of paint or new carpets. Overflowing trash cans.

The recession has been hard on most Americans. We know that. At Harvard, however, adjusting to the end of the gilded age, the champagne age, is proving especially wrenching: the university�s endowment has collapsed, donations are down, budgets are overstretched. With so many enormous fixed costs�and with much of its endowment restricted by the narrowly defined wishes of donors�there�s almost no room left to maneuver.
So I guess that Gates sees the writing on the wall and is setting about to increase his exposure in hopes of following his buddy Cornel West to some other cushy spot in academia. West was the guy who was ushered out of Harvard by President Larry Summers when Summers suggested that he cut back on his extra curricular activities and get back to teaching and writing. West's reaction was to say: Harvard Picked on 'Wrong Negro' and resign.
Just got back into town after driving back up from Seattle. The Cowboy Junkies were amazing -- I was very familiar with their music but had never seen them live before. Seeing them on a cloudless warm summer day at a nice outdoor venue was great. What was strange is that the show was a double billing with them and Son Volt. I had heard about them -- an outgrowth of Uncle Tupelo but had never heard their music. I was expecting to check out an interesting opening act and then enjoy a full set of Cowboy Junkies. The Junkies opened! They did a very short set of about six or seven songs and walked offstage -- immediately after, the roadies came and started taking the drum set down and pulling guitars off so there was no encore. Since we had driven down, we decided to stay to see what they were about. We left after the third or fourth song. The lead singer had really bad pitch problems -- whenever he went to emphasize something, he went flat. The band had no fire, no passion. I do not know if this was just an off night for both bands but it was a bit of a bummer... The show was sold out. I asked the person at the gate how many tickets that meant. I was told 3,500. 3,500 is an good number for visualizing one aspect of the Anthropogenic Global Warming debate. Take a look at tonight's crowd -- this is 3,500 people:
We can discount the kids as children under 12 got in for free. If you take each person and have them represent one atom of our atmosphere, you will find that 2,730 of these people pictured above are Nitrogen. About 700 of them are Oxygen, 32 of them are Argon and one, just one person represents Carbon Dioxide. The amount of this gas in our atmosphere is minuscule. Again, in that crowd of 3,500 people above, if every adult is an atom of our atmosphere, just one person is an atom of CO2.

Out of town today

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Jen and I are heading down to Seattle for another one of the Zoo Tunes concerts today. Tonight's show? Son Volt and Cowboy Junkies Perfect weather, wonderful small venue. A miserable time will be had by all -- pray for us...
When the Henry Louis Gates Jr. story first broke, I was interested. Here is a man who is a highly respected and lettered professor at Harvard University. He was returning from a trip in the afternoon, the door on his house was stuck, he broke in and was subsequently arrested by the Cambridge police even after showing his drivers license and Harvard employee card. Then, it turns out that he was inside when the cops showed up; the cops were leaving the house and he followed them outside haranguing them until, finally, one of them placed Dr. Gates under arrest and took him down to the pokey to cool off for a couple hours. Now, Dr. Gates' feathers are ruffled, his panties are in a bunch and he is Outraged I tell you, OUTRAGED. After all, as he was quoted (repeatedly): "This is what happens to black men in America." The story at the Washington Post:
Gates Says He Is Outraged by Arrest at Cambridge Home
Prominent Black Professor Says He Will Use Experience to Further Academic Work

Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. cast his recent arrest in his home in Cambridge, Mass., as part of a "racial narrative" playing out in a biased criminal justice system. The professor who has spent much of his life studying race in America said he has come to feel like a case study.

"There are one million black men in jail in this country and last Thursday I was one of them," he said in an exclusive interview with The Washington Post Tuesday morning. "This is outrageous and that this is how poor black men across the country are treated everyday in the criminal justice system. It's one thing to write about it, but altogether another to experience it."

He was still outraged but he said he has had time to take a step back and will now apply the scholarship that has been his life's work to the issue of race in the criminal justice system.
Hey Henry -- nice job setting race relations back another 100 years. The Cambridge police officer at the front right (yes, the black one) seems to be thinking: "Why do I always get the assholes." He has fifty times more content of character in his little pinkey than Gates has in his whole inflated ego. And if by some fluke of the internet this should happen to be noticed by one of Dr. Gates' 'people': Henry -- it is not about you. It is not about Black. It is about everyone. Maintaining the divide, studying it, analyzing it and talking about it only serves to perpetuate it. Drop it and move on. You have a very valuable position in which you can do incredible good for all of the people of this great nation. Do not fuck up. Do not become another laughingstock like Ward Churchill or Cornell West. Do good...

In local news - DUI and Raspberry Harvester

From radio station KGMI:
Alleged Drunk Driver Crashes Into Raspberry Harvester
A crash involving a car and a raspberry harvester Monday night sent five people to Saint Joseph Hospital in Bellingham.

The Washington State Patrol reports 18-year-old Sumas resident xxxx xxxxx was under the influence when her car rear-ended the Littau harvester at the intersection of Loomis Trail and Glendale Roads west of Lynden.

The raspberry harvester's driver was injured and taken to Saint Joseph Hospital, as well as xxxx and her three passengers.

Two passengers on the harvester were not injured.
This boggles -- the harvesters are narrow in order to fit through the rows of berries but they are about 12 feet tall and brightly illuminated. That none of the three passengers tried to stop the car makes you wonder where their attention was...
Turns out to be a great idea -- sign here to invest in this wonderful snake oil gasoline alternative... From Edmunds Green Car Advisor:
EPA Put Faith in Fraud, Now Cellulosic Goals Falling Short - Very Short
Here's one for the "every cloud..." file, or perhaps the "caveat emptor" file. Take your pick.

When the EPA recently issued a report anticipating 100 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol production in the U.S. by 2010, it was including 70 million gallons from an Alabama company called Cello Energy.

That's 70 percent of the total U.S. production from one relatively small company, per the EPA.

Bad Move

The government didn't factor in ethanol fraud.

Turns out the Cello was just found guilty in a federal court in Alabama of civil fraud for lying to a major investor about the state of its ability to make ethanol from grass and other woody, non-food materials.

The jury ordered Cello principals to pay $10.4 million in damages after witnesses testified that the "cellulosic" fuel the company was showing to investors was actually fuel derived entirely from petroleum.

Cello apparently has one plant capable of annual production of 20 million gallons of biofuel - if its system really works - and three that it was planning to build and that the EPA credited with 50 million gallons of cellulosic fuel by 2010.
Emphasis mine -- when you are talking about this kind of quantity and this kind of money, wouldn't it make sense to have an independent and bonded laboratory run some tests? I sure would require this if it was my money being invested but, it was just taxpayer money funding that subsidy and if we blow it, there is always more. Idiots...

An inspection gone wrong - H1N1

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From the Canadian Broadcasting Company:
Swine-flu inspectors in improper gear got virus
Some staff wore ill-fitting respirators borrowed from firehall

Federal government inspectors did not take proper precautions when investigating a swine-flu outbreak on a central Alberta pig farm, says a report obtained by CBC News.

Two workers for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) subsequently got sick with the H1N1 virus, according to a report by Alberta Health Services.

The pair took nasal and blood samples from pigs on a farm near Rocky Mountain House for two hours on the night of April 28. The workers wore protective gear, but the report said they did not have the right equipment and were not shown proper procedures.

The full-face respirators available to them had not been fitted properly, and also fogged up their masks, making work difficult inside the hot barn.
The employers need to be taken to task here -- H1N1 is not something to kid around with. The article goes on to say that these people were using fire fighting masks, not Biological Iso masks. There is a big difference... Even if the people didn't take the masks off to clear the fog, the filters are not designed for virus sized particles, they are designed for smoke (activated carbon). Way to go...

Talk about an Adrenaline rush!

Very high geekdom. Strap on a special pair of roller skates, climb to the top of a roller coaster and go go go!!!
The Daily Mail has more:
What a scream! Adrenaline junkie skates down 860 metre roller coaster... in just 60 seconds
An adrenaline junkie has taken in-line skating to new heights and set a new world record after racing down a roller coaster at speeds of 56mph.

Dirk Auer decided to go where no sane man or woman had gone before and skated down an 860 metre track in just over a minute.

Wearing specially designed in-line skates, the German made the attempt on the Mammoth roller coaster at the Trips Drill theme park in Stuttgart.
A bit more about Mr. Auer:
Mr Auer, from Gross-Gerau near Frankfurt, is considered to be the most extreme in-line skater in the world.

He already holds the world record for reaching speeds of 190mph as he was dragged along behind a Porsche GT2.
More power to him! It would be interesting if they did a blood chemistry after one of these events to see how high his adrenaline level really was...
Kevin Baker writes at The Smallest Minority:
Refuting the "Irrefutable"
About a week ago, Robb over at Sharp as a Marble pointed to an op-ed by one Marc Rubin at the Examiner.com website that included this jaw-dropping quote:
In an earlier article about the 2nd amendment I proved beyond a shadow of any doubt that the 2nd amendment has nothing to do with an individual right to own a gun. And the facts are irrefutable.
Well, me being me, I saw that as a challenge and threw down the gauntlet.

And waited.

And waited.

And finally Sunday afternoon Marc Rubin responded via email:
Dear Kevin
Im(sic) sorry to have to tell you that you are simply wrong.The Constitution is not about what you or I or anyone believes. It is about what is says(sic) and what was intended by the people who wrote it especially when you know exactly what they intended. Nothing more.

The reality of this is that any state can pass any gun law they wish, banning, restricting, taxing, guns ammo, anything, and they do. That is irrefutable. Its(sic) there for all to see. The 2nd amendment does not prevent any state from passing any gun laws they wish. That is irrefutable because these laws are on the books. Plaxico Burress a former NY Giant wide receiver is going to jail because of a mandatory 3 year sentence for carrying a concealed weapon in New York City. The 2nd amendent(sic) is not saving him and his lawyers are not claiming his constitutional rights were violated. And the NRA isnt(sic) coming to his rescue either.

Yes my points are irrefutable because they are based on reality not belief or wish. The reality is the 2nd amendment has not stopped any local governemnt(sic), state, city, town or village from passing any gun law they wish. That doesnt(sic) sound like they think "shall not be infringed" applies to them. And thats(sic) because it doesnt(sic).

Marc Rubin
Apparently Mr. Rubin's keyboard doesn't have a functioning apostrophe. And his reality apparently shares very little in common with the one I live in.

Now, for those of you who have been long-standing readers of this blog much of what I will say here will be repetitious, but that's necessary. For those of you who are new or relatively recent, I hope you will bear with my "�berpost" style - this stuff takes more than 1500 words to hammer home, but I provide links to the source materials to allow you to fact-check me and not just take my "authoritative word" on what I assert.

Let us begin:
What follows is a long read, an amazing fisking and a very thorough analysis of Constitutional Law focusing on the 2nd Amendment. About 10K words but it sets out in Plain English what the 2nd really means and how it affects us...

Object of Desire - M3A1 Stuart Light Tank

Talk about getting your way in rush hour traffic. This site sells military vehicles: armyjeeps.net including such gems as this puppy:
M3A1 Stuart Light Tank
To let you know how rarely an M3A1 comes available this is the first one I have been able to offer in over 37 years of doing business though I have probably sold between 30 and 40 M5A1's. This is an extremely nice Tank, it is complete, original, nicely restored and runs and drives great. Click on the attached Link for additional information, photos and Video's
Yours for only $185K which is actually quite good. If this is to rich for your blood, they have a really nice Saracen 6 X 6 Armored Personnel Carrier Model FV603 for only $29K. And be sure to check out the International Repo Depo for other great deals on tanks and armor. If 2010 doesn't turn out well and Pelosi, Frank et. al. are still clinging to power...
An interesting development -- from the LA Times:
LAX parking lot is home away from home for airline workers
For about 15 days a month, Alaska Airlines pilot Jim Lancaster lives in a motor home in Parking Lot B near the southernmost runway at Los Angeles International Airport.

Every four minutes, a jetliner or turboprop roars in -- 500 feet above his front door -- for a landing. The noise is so loud it forces Lancaster to pause during conversations. But he doesn't mind. Lancaster puts up with the smell of jet fuel and screaming engines to save time and money.

The 60-year-old aviator's primary residence is a cottage he shares with his wife overlooking a quiet bay off Puget Sound in Washington state. Living in Lot B while he's on duty means he doesn't have to rent a Los Angeles apartment with other pilots or spend 12 hours a day commuting to and from the Seattle area.

"As kids we used to ask our parents to take us to the airport to see the planes," Lancaster quipped. "Now I get to live at the airport."

He isn't the only one. Lancaster's 2001 Tradewinds sits among 100 trailers and motor homes that form a colony of pilots, mechanics and other airline workers at LAX, the third-busiest airport in the nation. They are citizens of one of the most unusual communities in the United States.
A bit more:
For several years, clusters of RVs were scattered around the airport's parking lots until LAX officials decided to consolidate them in Lot B. Now operating as an organized camp overseen by the airport, it has an unofficial mayor, a code of conduct and residency requirements, including background checks, regular vehicle inspections and proof of employment at an air carrier.

"There might be a few other places like this nationally, but I think this is rather unique," said Michael Biagi, who heads the land-use division at Los Angeles World Airports.

Today, the colony has more than 100 residents -- mostly men -- from around the country, including captains, first officers, mechanics, flight attendants, support staff and employees of air cargo companies. There are at least two married couples, who work as flight attendants. About 10 people are on a waiting list.
Humans are really good at adapting. The rent there is $60/month for a parking spot and as the airline industry goes through economic times, Pilots are being forced to First Lieutenant positions with a 30% cut in pay -- they cannot afford apartments in LA. The article also has a great story (on page two) about when Lot B was not so well policed and some non-airline people decided to move in...

Heh - another one bites the dust

From the LA Times:
St. Regis Monarch Beach seized by Citigroup
The seizure of the St. Regis Monarch Beach, where American International Group Inc. sponsored a luxury retreat just days after accepting a federal bailout, is the most dramatic sign yet of the deep troubles in the market for high-end hotels.

Citigroup Inc. took over the Dana Point hotel and golf course Monday after months of negotiations over a $70-million loan that was in default. A foreclosure auction slated for today was canceled after the lender realized there would be no serious bids for the property, according to a knowledgeable person who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Emphasis mine... They are all going down the tubes and good for them. Reorganize, re-learn your core competencies and come back stronger and leaner. Bailouts only postpone this.
Great short video of Richard Feynman:

So true

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XKCD is so spot on today:
Spending some time setting up some computers (shuffling things around the household) so looking at a lot of progress bars...

Our booming economy - Bailouts

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From Politico:
Bailouts could cost U.S. $23 trillion
A series of bailouts, bank rescues and other economic lifelines could end up costing the federal government as much as $23 trillion, the U.S. government�s watchdog over the effort says � a staggering amount that is nearly double the nation�s entire economic output for a year.

If the feds end up spending that amount, it could be more than the federal government has spent on any single effort in American history.
Rope, tree, some assembly required...

Our booming economy - The Budget

Telling news - from My Way/Associated Press:
White House putting off release of budget update
The White House is being forced to acknowledge the wide gap between its once-upbeat predictions about the economy and today's bleak landscape.

The administration's annual midsummer budget update is sure to show higher deficits and unemployment and slower growth than projected in President Barack Obama's budget in February and update in May, and that could complicate his efforts to get his signature health care and global-warming proposals through Congress.

The release of the update - usually scheduled for mid-July - has been put off until the middle of next month, giving rise to speculation the White House is delaying the bad news at least until Congress leaves town on its August 7 summer recess.

The administration is pressing for votes before then on its $1 trillion health care initiative, which lawmakers are arguing over how to finance.
Counting down the days until 2010 -- time to throw the bums out...
From the UK Guardian:
Carbon emissions trading system 'seriously flawed'
The system of trading carbon emissions at the heart of the ambitious low-carbon plan announced by the government last week is seriously flawed and close to becoming irrelevant, according to researchers behind a new analysis.

So-called "hot air" carbon credits � those which do not result in any actual emissions cuts � could be so numerous that companies covered by the EU Emissions Trading Scheme would not have to make any cuts to their own emissions until 2015, says the report from climate campaign group, Sandbag. The hot air permits result from the over-allocation of emissions allowances and from those going unused as the recession cuts economic activity.
It was never about the climate and regulating carbon. It is all about making a few people and corporations very very rich.
Major fuck-up in Cambridge Mass -- from the Boston Globe:
Harvard professor Gates arrested at Cambridge home
Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.

Police arrived at Gates�s Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.

He was booked for disorderly conduct after �exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior,� according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had "no idea who he was messing with,'' the report said.
A bit more -- it seems he was being a bit provocative:
Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his driver�s license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.

The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. "It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest," the officer wrote in the report.
Provocation or not, this is absurd. The idea that someone who breaks into their own house and is able to provide identification is liable to arrest is insane. I feel sorry for that poor arresting officer after Gates and the Harvard Legal team get through with him...

Color me surprised - TARP troubles

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Once corrupt, always corrupt... From the Washington Post:
Bailout Overseer Says Banks Misused TARP Funds
Many of the banks that got federal aid to support increased lending have instead used some of the money to make investments, repay debts or buy other banks, according to a new report from the special inspector general overseeing the government's financial rescue program.

The report, which will be published Monday, surveyed 360 banks that got money through the end of January and found that 110 had invested at least some of it, that 52 had repaid debts and that 15 had used funds to buy other banks.

Roughly 80 percent of respondents, or 300 banks, also said at least some of the money had supported new lending.

The report by special inspector general Neil Barofsky calls on the Treasury Department to require regular, more detailed information from banks about their use of federal aid provided under the Troubled Asset Relief Program. The Treasury has refused to collect such information.

Doing so is "essential to meet Treasury's stated goal of bringing transparency to the TARP program and informing the American people and their representatives in Congress about what is being done with their money," the report said.

In a written response, the Treasury again rejected that call. Officials have taken the view that the exact use of the federal aid cannot be tracked because money given to a bank is like water poured into an ocean.
Emphasis mine -- BULLSHIT! Banks are commercial businesses whose product is money. They know to the last penny where each and every dollar is going. We used to have a bunch of accounts at Bank of America and we moved them to a local Credit Union because of crap like this. Until they clean house, they will not get any of my business. And shame on Treasury for not following through on this -- what kind of stranglehold do the banks have on these people that they get such a clear passage. And why is Keynesian economics still being taken seriously and not derided for the onanistic circle-jerk that it is. Austria rules!

That's it for the night

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Working on some computer stuff out in the DaveCave(tm)
David St. Lawrence writes at Making Ripples. He retired from SUN and now runs a framing shop in rural Virgina. His writings are peppered with anecdotes about the Corporate lifestyle and rural life in Floyd, VA. Always a good read. Today, he writes about the Cargo Cult Science that is Anthropogenic Global Warming:
Activists take advantage of sincere environmentalists
It certainly appears that concerned environmentalists are being misled by activists using cargo cult science.

We have personally been supporting conservation efforts for many years and most of our friends support efforts to preserve wetlands and stop pollution of our waterways. Lately, however, there are too many attempts to hijack sincere environmental efforts and divert money and energy to support political scams.

If a political action group tried to raise taxes for a government program "Save the Jackalopes", most environmentalists would spot the scam immediately.

On the other hand, if politicians create a monstrous program to reduce Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere by calling it a "pollutant", some environmentalists are taken in. This is a scam that is as devious as any Nigerian email.

The "Carbon Dioxide as Pollutant" scam by the Global Warming Climate Change folks is being rebranded as Project 350 which is a stellar example of reliance on cargo cult science.

Publicity-seeking figures criss-cross the country spreading the word that the planet has reached a "tipping point" and a massive joining of hands is needed. Expert PR firms have crafted a campaign that will ease the adoption of legislation that will steer your tax money into eager government hands and private pockets.
David quotes a bit from the Project 350 website and cites a few inconvenient truths which show that the earth has been in a cooling phase for the last eight years (coincidentally, the suns output has been lower than normal for the last couple years) and that far from being a dangerous gas, CO2 is necessary for life on this planet and CO2 is driven by temperature and levels of CO2 track many years after a temperature change. Good to see that a lot of people are not falling for this sub-prime science. It is not really science, it is political power grabbing...

Oh Crap - Literally

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From Associated Press:
Astronauts deal with flooded toilet in orbit
The bathroom lines at the already crowded space shuttle and space station complex got a lot longer Sunday because of a flooded toilet.

One of two commodes aboard the international space station broke down, right in the middle of complicated robotic work being conducted by the two crews. The pump separator apparently flooded.

Mission Control advised the astronauts to hang an "out of service" sign on the toilet until it could be fixed. In the meantime, the six space station residents had to get in line to use their one good toilet. And Endeavour's seven astronauts were restricted to the shuttle bathroom.

There have never been so many people � 13 � together in space.
And it's not like you can just run down to Home Depot for a couple of parts... Hat tip to the Puppy Blender for the link.
A story about stunningly bad parenting from the London Times:
My alcoholic boy, facing death at 22
A mother has made public the plight of her son who became a teenage alcoholic and is now dying because he is not allowed a liver transplant.

Gary Reinbach started drinking alcohol with friends when he was 13. Now 22, his is one of the worst cases of cirrhosis of the liver among young people that his doctors have seen.

His predicament may serve as a wake-up call to a generation of young drinkers who are downing large volumes of cheap alcohol.

Doctors at University College hospital (UCH), in London, have given Reinbach the most advanced therapies, including a one-off treatment with an artificial liver from San Diego, California. But all have failed and they believe only a transplant will save him.

Reinbach, from Dagenham, Essex, does not qualify for an organ because official guidelines state that heavy drinkers must prove that they can be abstinent outside hospital before they are considered. His condition is so severe that he cannot be discharged to prove he can remain sober.
His Mom should have noticed that her little boy was drunk all the time and done something. The photo in the article is not that of a healthy man:

Tools on my desktop

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I am in the process of configuring a system and there are a collection of tools that I always use -- thought they might be of interest to someone else... For a new system out of the box, run don't walk and get PC Decrapifier Version 2.0 has just been released and it greatly speeds the process of getting all the @#$ 'trialware' off a new box. For basic system maintenance, check out Piriform Software I use their CCleaner (formerly Crap Cleaner) to clear out browser caches, history, temp files, etc... It also has a handy registry tool -- when you delete an application, most of the time the undelete function doesn't bother cleaning the registry and there is usually quite a bit of useless cruft sitting there. For disk fragmentation, their Defraggler software works a lot better than the native Windows application. For file recovery, their Recuva does an excellent job of restoring files on disk drives and memory cards. For spell-checking anything written through a web interface (think forms, blog posts, etc...), ieSpell does the trick. It is a plug-in for Internet Explorer that brings up spell check with a right click 'o the mouse. Finally, when Notepad is not enough (99% of the time), Note Tab Light works great. All of these applications are available for free although they do solicit contributions -- toss them a tenner and they are very happy. Excellent programs all...

Heh - unemployment in Brazil

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I love the spirit in Brazil -- its President worked himself up from poverty and is refusing to do the usual corrupt South American Socialist bullshit that too many other nations are doing. This story caught my eye -- from the San Francisco Chronicle who of course, adds their own lefty slant:
Jobless benefits Web site adds insult to injury
It's a shameless thing to do in an economic crisis. Jobless people seeking information about their benefits on the Brazilian Labor Ministry's Web were forced to type in passwords such as "bum" and "shameless."

Labor Minister Carlos Lupi is apologizing for the situation � and he blames a private company that created the site's security system.
I know that there are people who are genuinely unable to find work and there are also a lot of untreated cases of mental illness on the street but I can't stop chuckling about this -- PC or not PC.
How dumb can you be to try to pull this off. From United Press International:
Suspect arrested at own wedding
A man described by Utah authorities as Salt Lake County's Public Enemy No. 1 was arrested when he came into a courthouse to get married.

Uintah County Sheriff's Lt. John Laursen said someone recognized Frank Paul Reyos, 27, when he arrived Tuesday at Ute Tribal Court in Fort Duchesne with the intent to marry a young woman, the Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday.

Reyos, who is wanted on a no-bail fugitive warrant for aggravated robbery by the Salt Lake County Metro Gang Unit, was arrested without incident and taken to a jail in Vernal, Utah.

The suspect, who police say is linked to violent street gangs in the Salt Lake City area, has previous arrests for aggravated assault, vehicle theft, robbery and multiple theft charges.

Police said he was recognized due to his many facial tattoos, including a spiderweb on his forehead.
I hope that woman realizes just how lucky she is... Odd to hear that Salt Lake City has gang problems.

A new spamming technique

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A new kind of spam just dropped in for a visit. Instead of just listing a bunch of URLs to PPC sites, this tried to embed the URLs in the punctuation of the comment. A taste (I am inserting a bunch of underscore characters to block string searches):

Got to love the chutzpa of asking if there was any spam here... And of course, the mouthbreather that thought this up didn't check their system -- it is a known zombie and was chucked into moderation because of that. So now I have something new to look for...

OK for us, not OK for them

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From Riehl World View:
Democrats: No Thanks On Public Option
As precious, as it is telling. When faced with an amendment requiring Senate members to join any passed public option, the Democrats declined. But the amendment passed nonetheless. Here's one that will never make it through reconciliation. What's good enough for you is not good enough for them.
On Tuesday, the Senate health committee voted 12-11 in favor of a two-page amendment courtesy of Republican Tom Coburn that would require all Members and their staffs to enroll in any new government-run health plan. Yet all Democrats -- with the exceptions of acting chairman Chris Dodd, Barbara Mikulski and Ted Kennedy via proxy -- voted nay.
These people are out of touch with their employers. Hat tip to Maggie's Farm for the link.
Air Conditioning is 107 years old today. From Wired Magazine:
July 17, 1902: An Invention to Beat the Heat, Humidity
1902: With human comfort the last thing on his mind, a young mechanical engineer completes the schematic drawings for what will be the first successful air-conditioning system.

Willis Haviland Carrier, recently graduated from Cornell University and pulling down 10 bucks a week (about $260 in cold cash today) working for the Buffalo Forge heating company in upstate New York. He was tasked with finding a solution for a printing company in Brooklyn that was having problems: Its paper was expanding or contracting in the variable East Coast humidity. That played havoc with the color register for four-color printing, since the ink, applied one color at a time, required pinpoint calibration to avoid badly aligned, muddy illustrations.

The system that Carrier devised still forms the basis of the air conditioner (or, more accurately, humidity controller) today: Air was forced through a filter of a piston-driven compressor, where it was pumped over coils that were chilled using coolant. The cold air was then expelled into a closed space using a fan, cooling the room and stabilizing the humidity.

Carrier later switched from piston power to the centrifugal chiller, which allowed much larger spaces to be cooled. He also replaced the toxic ammonia that had been the original cooling agent.

The air conditioner was just what the Brooklyn printer needed. The humidity problem vanished, and � as the word got out � other companies began clamoring for Carrier�s machine.
Cool technology (ar ar ar...) A bit more:
Among Carrier�s early big-ticket customers were the U.S. Congress
Should have turned that one down -- making them comfortable means that they will just hang out and do more damage. The article mentions that they phased out the use of Ammonia because of it's hazards. Curious in that ammonia is now the gas of choice in large installations -- people have learned how to handle it a lot better. For a look at the Ammonia Refrigeration Cycle at its most simple, take a look at the Crosley Icy Ball And you can build your own.

Climate bullshit - reef edition

Seems like Dr. J. E. N. 'Charlie' Veron needs to get on some meds...

The guy has an awesome C.V. but is dead wrong about the effects of CO2 on the environment (IMNSHO). From the London Times:

Great Barrier Reef will be gone in 20 years, says Charlie Veron
The Great Barrier Reef will be so degraded by warming waters that it will be unrecognisable within 20 years, an eminent marine scientist has said.

Charlie Veron, former chief scientist of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, told The Times: "There is no way out, no loopholes. The Great Barrier Reef will be over within 20 years or so."

Once carbon dioxide had hit the levels predicted for between 2030 and 2060, all coral reefs were doomed to extinction, he said. "They would be the world's first global ecosystem to collapse. I have the backing of every coral reef scientist, every research organisation. I've spoken to them all. This is critical. This is reality."

I said this once and I Will say it again, Coral Reefs benefit from an increased level of CO2. Putting more CO2 into the atmosphere will cause them to grow faster and larger. I covered this back on June 1st of this year with this post: Environmental bullshit in the media There are people out there whose business is to grow pieces of coral for use in salt-water aquaria. There are companies that supply the hardware used by these people. Here is an excerpt from the online catalog page of Marine and Reef Aquarium Supply:


In the June post I went on to say:

There is a whole section on hardware for the specific purpose of adding gaseous CO2 to freshwater and saltwater aquaria. The CO2 in freshwater tanks is plant food - if we did not have CO2, we would not have plants. When it comes to Reef tanks, things get interesting.

I go on to explain that the dissolved CO2 lowers the pH of the salt water and causes the dead corals to dissolve. The resultant trace minerals are taken up by the live corals. Sure, CO2 will cause coral to break down but it is the dead coral that is vulnerable. The result of this is that the live coral feed off of the nutrients that are released. It is not death, it is recycling. Once the coral is dissolved, the pH rises which is why CO2 needs to be continuously applied.

A rant from the geek in high-school

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I really hear this poor guy -- from Good Math, Bad Math:

Very off topic: Why I won't be at my high school reunion
I graduated from high school in 1984. Which means that this year is my graduating class's 25th year reunion. As a result, a bunch of people from my high school class have been trying to friend me on facebook, sending me email, and trying to convince me to come to the reunion.

I don't feel like replying to them individually, which is why I'm writing here.

As pretty much any reader of this blog who isn't a total idiot must have figured out by now, I'm a geek. I have been since I was a kid. My dad taught me about bell curves and standard deviations when I was in third grade, and I thought it was pretty much the coolest damn thing I'd ever seen. That's the kind of kid I was. I was also very small - 5 foot 1 when I started high school, 5 foot three my junior year. Even when I shot up in height, to nearly 5 foot eleven between junior and senior year, I weighed under 120 pounds. So think small, skinny, hyperactive, geek.

Like most geek kids, I had a rough time in school. I don't think that my experience was particularly unusual. I know a lot of people who had it worse. But I think that it was slightly worse than average, because the administration in the school system that I went to tolerated an extraordinary amount of violent bullying. Almost every geeky kid gets socially ostracized. Almost all get mocked. In fact, almost all face some physical abuse. The main determinant of just how much physical abuse they get subjected to is the school administration. And the administration at my school really didn't care: "Bruises? He must just be uncoordinated and bumps into things. Broken fingers? Hey, it happens. We're sure it must have been an accident. What do you want, an armed guard to follow your kid around?"

Mark writes a bit more and then concludes:

Now it's twenty five years since I got out of that miserable fucking hell-hole. And people from my high school class are suddenly getting in touch, sending me email, trying to friend me on Facebook, and trying to convince me to bring my family to the reunion. (It's a picnic reunion, full family invited.) Even some of the people who used to beat the crap out of me on a regular basis are getting in touch as if we're old friends.

My reaction to them... What the fuck is wrong with you people? Why would you think that I would want to have anything to do with you? How do you have the chutzpah to act as if we're old friends? How dare you? I see the RSVP list that one of you sent me, and I literally feel nauseous just remembering your names.

The only positive thing that ever came out of my time with you people is that my children are studying karate. My son will, most likely, have his black belt by the time he finishes fourth grade. He's a hyperactive little geek, just like me. He'll probably go through some social grief, just like I did. But when some fucker like one of you tries to lay a hand on him or one of his friends, he'll beat the living crap out of them. One of the mantras that his karate school follows is: Never start a fight, but if a fight starts, always be the one to finish it. And that's what he'll be able to do. To definitively finish any fight that anyone starts with him in a way that will teach his abusers and their cohorts to stay the fuck away.

And that's all that I want from you. Stay the fuck away from me. I don't want to hear about your lives. I don't want to know how you've changed since high school. I don't want to hear about your jobs, your spouses, your children. I've got a good life now, and I cannot imagine a reason in the world why I would pollute that world with contact with any of you.

I got that tee shirt hanging in my closet!

eBook Irony - Amazon Kindle

From David Pogue's column at the NY Times:
Some E-Books Are More Equal Than Others
This morning, hundreds of Amazon Kindle owners awoke to discover that books by a certain famous author had mysteriously disappeared from their e-book readers. These were books that they had bought and paid for - thought they owned.

But no, apparently the publisher changed its mind about offering an electronic edition, and apparently Amazon, whose business lives and dies by publisher happiness, caved. It electronically deleted all books by this author from people's Kindles and credited their accounts for the price.

This is ugly for all kinds of reasons. Amazon says that this sort of thing is 'rare,' but that it can happen at all is unsettling; we've been taught to believe that e-books are, you know, just like books, only better. Already, we've learned that they're not really like books, in that once we're finished reading them, we can't resell or even donate them. But now we learn that all sales may not even be final.

As one of my readers noted, it's like Barnes & Noble sneaking into our homes in the middle of the night, taking some books that we've been reading off our nightstands, and leaving us a check on the coffee table.

You want to know the best part? The juicy, plump, dripping irony?

The author who was the victim of this Big Brotherish plot was none other than George Orwell. And the books were 1984 and Animal Farm.

You would think that once negotiations are complete for a distribution of this sort, there would be no way to renege. Shame on Amazon for not having more backbone...

What he said

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Found this gem over at The Loud Talker:
I defy you to find anything wrong with this...
Sarah Palin has a Twitter Account and normally, it is basic day-to-day Governor stuff. This evening's tweet was not in that category. In words:
elected is replaceable;Ak WILL progress! + side benefit=10 dys til less politically correct twitters fly frm my fingertps outside State site
Worth 1,000 words:
Buy a bag of chips and a couple beers -- this is going to get really interesting really soon!

A fun day

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I am a member of the Water Board for our small town - there are about 300 hookups ranging from people's vacation mobile homes to a large Gas Station and Laundromat. The water is pumped from a well up to two storage tanks on a hill in back of the town. Every year, one of those tanks is drained, pressure washed, filled with a dilute Chlorine solution for 24 hours, drained, refilled and put back into service. We have an engineer on the payroll but all the other labor is volunteer. As the water board does not own a pressure washer (they used to rent one), I offered to let them use mine. Went up today to deliver it to the tanks. When you talk about a 30,000 gallon water tank, you can visualize that this is a @#$% of a lot of water but to actually be standing in an empty 30,000 gallon tank is a humbling experience. It is about 20 feet in diameter, 15 feet tall. It takes a different speech technique to be understood as the reverberation builds up so quickly that you can only speak for five seconds before it is impossible to hear. You have to wait twenty seconds for it to die back down again. I am planning next year when we do the big tank (50,000 gallons) to spend the day there with a recorder and some musical toys gathering fun sounds. The reverberation is quite unlike that you get electronically. Who would think that the rural hamlet of Maple Falls would have its own Silophone...

Boy lives in England.
Girl lives in England.
Boy meets Girl.
Boy and Girl fall in love.
Girl has hormone problems, epilepsy, OMFG brain tumor
English doctors refuse to operate.
Girl flies to America, has successful operation and marries sweetheart.

From the London Daily Mail:

At 19, Meg was told her brain tumour was inoperable. Nonsense, said her mother, I won't let my daughter die
For a bridegroom to feel blessed on his wedding day is not unexpected. But as Josh Hill rose to toast his new bride's family and friends, he found himself choked with emotion.

Not surprising. It is almost impossible to put into words how much he and his bride Meg owe not just to her family but to one man in particular: an American-based surgeon.

Cheering on the happy couple that day in May this year, everyone was acutely aware of Josh's feelings. Quite simply Meg owes her life to the tenacity of her mother and the skill of her surgeon. Without them she would almost certainly be dead by now.

The timeline:

Her vision blurred intermittently and she had bouts of early morning nausea. Her mother Helen, 47, an education adviser, who separated from Meg's father David when Meg was 12, initially put it down to teenage hormones.

Even when Meg crashed her car, while driving home alone one evening in November 2003, no one guessed the real reason.

The article mentioned that her sysmptems had been going on for five years so it started when she was 14.

However, in July 2004, a week before her 19th birthday, Meg collapsed while working on her Saturday job. 'The next thing I knew, I was in A&E at Winchester's Royal Hampshire County Hospital.'

No treatment until she was 19 years old.

As Meg's mother, stepfather and elder brother sped to her bedside, Meg was given blood tests. They proved inconclusive, so an MRI scan was arranged at Southampton General Hospital for the following month.

Meanwhile, suspecting the seizures were caused by epilepsy, Meg was prescribed twice-daily medication.

Over the next few months, Meg carried on as normal. She started preparing for her history of art degree course at Warwick University, and although she suffered a few small fits, put this down to problems with her medication.

But in October came the bombshell. Meg returned to hospital for the results of her scan to be told she had a malignant brain tumour.

Once in the hospital, she was scheduled for an MRI but the scan was not done for another month (August). The diagnosis was not done for another two months.

Brain tumours are graded from one to four. Meg's tumour was a grade two - although grade one and some grade two tumours can be cured by surgery, with many other grade two and higher-grade tumours it is not a case of curing, but prolonging life, says Paul Grundy, consultant neurosurgeon at Southampton General Hospital.

Could have caught it earlier.

Watching Meg suffer was too much for her mother. Helen decided to find out as much as she could about brain tumours on the internet.

When she read about Professor Black and his work at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital, it offered the first ray of hope.

They flew out to Boston, met with the Doctor, went back home to do some fund-raising, saw another surgeon in London:

'Opting for surgery in America was expensive - £50,000,' says Meg. 'I needed to be sure no British surgeon could offer me the same hope.'

Unlike in Southampton, the London consultant recommended surgery. But he admitted that Meg stood a far better chance in the U.S. as the equipment was so superior.

Flew back to Boston, eight hours on the table and she was successfully cured.

The reason I am posting stories like this is that England's National Health Care simply does not work for anything more complex than an aspirin. Medicines are deemed too expensive for elderly people (who are just going to die sometime anyway), the amount of major equipment per capita is a lot lower so the wait times are a lot higher.

When I had my hip problems, I saw my family doctor. He offered either an X-Ray or an MRI and he said that the MRI would be better. I opted at that time for the MRI and went in for the scan three days later. I got my diagnosis a few days after that and had my first visit with the Orthopedic Surgeon 20 days later.

Do we really want to give that all up? Other nations send their critical care patients here because our system is so much better. Do we really want to give that all up?

Obamacare - Page 16

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Now that people are starting to read the 1,018 Obamacare bill things are crawling out of the woodwork like this stinker on Page 16. From Investor's Business Daily:
It's Not An Option
Congress: It didn't take long to run into an "uh-oh" moment when reading the House's "health care for all Americans" bill. Right there on Page 16 is a provision making individual private medical insurance illegal.

When we first saw the paragraph Tuesday, just after the 1,018-page document was released, we thought we surely must be misreading it. So we sought help from the House Ways and Means Committee.

It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:
"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.
So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised � with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.
Just wunnerful... Can't move to Canada, their system is worse.

Political manouverings

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An interesting idea from Rivrdog:
Let's quit playing their game
Imagine you are playing football on the side of a hill, and your opponents get to run downhill at your team.

That how Congress works today with all the wannabe-socialist legislation they are cramming down our throats. We have to fight uphill to stay in the game.

I say, let's quit fighting them.

Let's just leave the field.

When we leave the field, they will accomplish all their goals to turn the country Socialist, but there has been nothing that could have been done about that since Bush & Co lost the '06 Congressional election. The rest was a foregone conclusion.

When all opposition to the (D)onk's program ceases, and I would do it with a walk-out in both Houses of Congress, the (D)onks will be left to constantly wonder what the Right will be coming up with next.

Instead of us playing the (D)onks' game, let's have THEM guessing at ours.

Here's what I want them to guess about:

Will our game be browsers or bullets?

Idiocy in a Nanny State

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One of the things crucial to a child's education is fostering an interest in reading, both for pleasure and for learning (not that the two are that different). Being able to meet the author of your favorite book would be a royal treat. It seems the ability to do that just got hammered in England. But don't worry, it's to keep the children safe. From the UK Independent:
Authors boycott schools over sex-offence register
A group of respected British children's authors and illustrators will stop visiting schools from the start of the next academic year, in protest at a new government scheme that requires them to register on a database in case they pose a danger to children.

Philip Pullman, Anne Fine, Anthony Horowitz, Michael Morpurgo and Quentin Blake all told The Independent that they object to having their names on the database � which is intended to protect children from paedophiles � and would not be visiting any schools as a consequence.

Pullman, author of the fantasy trilogy His Dark Materials, described the Home Office policy as "corrosive and poisonous to every kind of healthy social interaction". He said: "I've been going into schools as an author for 20 years, and on no occasion have I ever been alone with a child. The idea that I have become more of a threat and I need to be vetted is both ludicrous and insulting. Children have never been in any danger from visiting authors or illustrators, and the idea that they should be is preposterous.

"This reinforces the culture of suspicion, fear and mistrust that underlies a great deal of present-day society. It teaches children that they should regard every adult as a potential murderer or rapist."
And of course, being a government program, this registration is free to the authors -- err -- not so much:
All individuals who work with children from 12 October will be required to register with a national database for a fee of �64.
Government at work -- and the people of the USA seem to want that here.

Speaking of Guitars

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I had posted about Dave Carroll's run-in with United Airlines back on July 7th, 2009 Here is the story from his website:
United Airlines Song Background (short version)
In the spring of 2008, Sons of Maxwell were traveling to Nebraska for a one-week tour and my Taylor guitar was witnessed being thrown by United Airlines baggage handlers in Chicago. I discovered later that the $3500 guitar was severely damaged. They didn�t deny the experience occurred but for nine months the various people I communicated with put the responsibility for dealing with the damage on everyone other than themselves and finally said they would do nothing to compensate me for my loss. So I promised the last person to finally say �no� to compensation (Ms. Irlweg) that I would write and produce three songs about my experience with United Airlines and make videos for each to be viewed online by anyone in the world. United: Song 1 is the first of those songs. United: Song 2 has been written and video production is underway. United: Song 3 is coming. I promise.
United recanted and offered Carroll money to repair his guitar. Seeing as how he had already fixed the guitar (the damage happened a year ago), Carroll has offered the following statement:
It is fun as Taylor Guitars is now riffing on the airline damage theme on their website:
Heh. Customer service and unintended consequences...

Counterfeit Gibson Guitars

It seems that the Chinese are making knock-offs of Gibson Guitars and people in the USA are buying these and selling them online.

Gibson has a page showing the differences and what to do if you get stung:

Gibson Leads Industry Fight Against Counterfeit Gibsons
Last year, 15-year-old Jonathan Jakubowski of Cary, North Carolina emptied out his savings account to purchase a Les Paul he found advertised in the local newspaper.

Of his decision to buy a Gibson, Jakubowski explains, "Eric Clapton is my main influence, and he played Les Pauls for a long time."

Intending to purchase the advertised Les Paul Standard, Jonathan and his father visited the seller at his house, where they were persuaded instead to purchase a Wine Red Les Paul Custom, which the man said he'd bought off a traveling musician. Jonathan paid the man $1,000 for the guitar, but once he got it home, he could tell that something wasn't right.

"I'd only played Les Pauls in the guitar shops, but something tipped me off, and I ended up going on the Internet to see what some typical signs are for a fake guitar," Jakubowski says. "The first thing that struck me was that there were three screws in the truss rod cover instead of two."

The staff at a local guitar shop confirmed Jakubowski's suspicions -- the guitar was a counterfeit. The high school sophomore alerted police, and following an investigation, the North Carolina man who'd acquired the guitar from a Chinese website and resold it to Jakubowski was arrested on two felony counts of criminal use of a counterfeit trademark.

The photos on the website make it pretty obvious which is which.

From the Huffington Post:
Obama Administration Approves First Roadless Logging Contract In Alaska's Tongass National Forest
This week, the Obama administration approved the sale of timber in a roadless national forest in Alaska. The Tongass National Forest is a 17 million acre temperate rain forest in southeast Alaska, which is home to both endangered species and native Alaskan tribes. It is the largest temperate rain forest in the United States.

From The Juneau Empire:
Orion North timber sale is the first such awarded since Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced in May he would personally review all timber sales in roadless areas of national forests in the next year.
Tongass environmental activists had been hoping Vilsack's announcement would translate to a temporary moratorium on timber road-building in roadless areas, including Orion North and three other timber sales on the Tongass. President Obama supported the roadless rule in his campaign.
I love the soft popping sound of hippies heads. How's that Hope and Change working out for you...

Tux at the Post Office

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Very cool! From Government Computing News:
Agencies open up to open-source software
The U.S. Postal Service is the latest government agency to embrace open-source software in an attempt to lower its information technology operating costs by standardizing its mainframe-based tracking system on the open-source � and less expensive � Linux operating system.

The Postal Service is moving 1,300 Sun Solaris midrange servers to a Hewlett-Packard Linux environment, using Novell�s SUSE Linux on the mainframe and distributed computing platforms to forge greater interoperability between the two environments.
The article mentions that other agencies are also using FOSS including Homeland Security, Defense Information Systems Agency, DoD and Goddard Space Flight Center. Very cool -- these agencies have the $$$ and manpower to develop some good applications -- it will be fun to see what trickles down to us Citizens. Here is the DoD website: FORGE.MIL
Fun story out of Florida -- from FindLaw:
Attorney's Million Dollar Dare Comes Back to Haunt Him
On this blog, I try to pass along tips for running a small law firm. Essentially, ways to plan and operate your firm so that you will meet your goals (the blog is called the "Strategist," after all).

Well, here's one Florida attorney whose story offers an example of a strategy not to pursue.

Cheney Mason went on Dateline and offered a million dollars to anyone who could prove that his client, Nelson Ivan Serrano, was actually able to travel across two states and kill four people in the time that prosecutors had alleged.

A South Texas College of Law graduate, Dustin Kolodziej, saw the segment and decided to take Mason up on his dare. He retraced the route the prosecutors claim Serrano took, and came in under the time limit, videotaping his progress along the way.

He asked Mason for the money, but Mason has so far refused to pay up, alleging that the challenge was a joke or hyperbole.

Kolodziej doesn't think it's very funny, though, and he's asked the federal district court in Houston to order Mason to make with the cash.

If you think back to your 1L contracts course, Kolodziej might actually have something along the lines of an argument here. The dare sounds suspiciously like a unilateral contract. A unilateral contract, you'll remember, is one that is offered to the population generally. The offeror can't force anyone to perform, but obligates herself to meet the terms of the agreement if anyone actually does. An offer for a reward is the best example of a unilateral contract, although dares and wagers might also qualify.

On the other hand, it's not very likely that Mason intended for anyone to take him seriously, so a judge might not really consider his statement a unilateral contract. Without knowing more about Texas contract law, I'd wager that the judge will toss the case, save Mason a million clams and give Kolodziej a lesson in real world contracts.

Mason just better hope that the judge in the murder trial doesn't allow the prosecution to admit Kolodziej's video into evidence.
Heh... Hat tip to Slashdot for the link.

Eating Local in Canada

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Excellent short video on food production in Canada and the need to eat local. From Eat Real, Eat Local

Hellmann�s - It�s Time for Real from CRUSH on Vimeo.

Signing off -- out to the DaveCave(tm) for email and then to sleep. Busy day tomorrow.

Donald E. Iiams, Jr. posts some more

I am redacting this thread.

Donald and I have had a wonderful communication through email and he explained what he is going through these days.

Jen and I have a friend who suffered the same kind of injury and the recovery time is a very long haul.

He offered an apology and I accepted.

I offered an apology and he accepted.

This thread is done.

Donald, you and your family are in my prayers and I wish you the best of the world!


Interesting set of articles from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer regarding the Boy Scouts of America selling off vast tracts of forest lands that were given to them by people expecting them to be maintained. The money goes to sustain a lavish lifestyle for the executives with salaries up to $350K to $500K all the while the grunt work is being done by unpaid volunteers... A non-profit?
Michael Scarpitti, commonly known as Tre Arrow, is now back in Portland Oregon having been released by the Canadians. From Portland station KGW:
Eco-arsonist Tre Arrow settles into Portland halfway house
Fresh from a medium-security prison in California, radical environmentalist and arsonist Tre Arrow flew into Portland and then bicycled to a halfway house where he's assigned to finish the last six months of a prison sentence.

Arrow calls himself a political prisoner and says setting fire to cement and logging trucks was in protest of government policies.
Political prisoner my Sainted Aunt Charlotte -- he got his rocks off burning trucks and destroying equipment. He was a member of the Earth Liberation Front. There are ways to practice environmentalism. ELF isn't one of them. They are bullies, cowards and glory seekers each and every one of them. He should do his part to reduce his carbon dioxide output and stop breathing...
English Philosopher AC Grayling was interviewed for the UK Guardian and had some interesting thoughts and observations. Here are the first four:
This much I know
AC Grayling, philosopher, 60, London

A human lifespan is less than a thousand months long. You need to make some time to think how to live it.

The democracy of blogging and tweeting is absolutely terrific in one way. It is also the most effective producer of rubbish and insult and falsehood we have yet invented.

I am putting together a secular bible. My Genesis is when the apple falls on Newton's head.

I spent the first 13 years of my life in Zambia. In Africa you can't walk in the countryside and think. You might be eaten by a lion. You have to read instead.
And he concludes with this gem:
Every professor of philosophy needs a nine-year-old daughter. Mine has a habit of saying, "Daddy, that is a very silly idea." She is always right.

Socialised Health 'Care' - Canada

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A good look at the options for Health Care available to our neighbors to the North:
Sign me right up!

Obama handshake four-fer

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Looks like the Russians know who is a leader and who is not:
Heh... From Gotta Get Drunk First
Check out this entry at the excellent Discover The Networks:
  • Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government
  • Has repeatedly warned that some form of eco-catastrophe is likely to occur
  • Views capitalism as an economic system that is inherently harmful to the natural environment
  • Opposed the Reagan administration�s military buildup, warning that it would likely �increase the belligerency of the Soviet government�
  • Longtime anti-nuclear activist
  • Was named (in December 2008) by President-elect Barack Obama to be Assistant to the President for Science and Technology
John P. Holdren is the Teresa and John Heinz Professor of Environmental Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. He also serves as Director of the Science, Technology, and Public Policy program at Harvard�s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
A bit more:
In 1977 Holdren and Ehrlich quantified their anti-capitalist philosophy in a mathematical equation, I=PAT, where a negative environmental impact (I) was the product of such undesirable factors as population growth (P), increasing affluence (A), and improving technology (T). In an effort to minimize environmental damage, they prescribed �organized evasive action: population control, limitation of material consumption, redistribution of wealth, transitions to technologies that are environmentally and socially less disruptive than today�s, and movement toward some kind of world government.�
A bogus equation working with bogus data... Some more of his Scientification:
In 2006 Holdren suggested that as a result of global warming, sea levels worldwide could rise by 13 feet by the end of the 21st century. A subsequent estimate by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change placed the figure at 13 inches.
Too long ago? How about last year:
In the October 2008 issue of Scientific American, Holdren wrote: �The ongoing disruption of the Earth's climate by man-made greenhouse gases is already well beyond dangerous and is careening toward completely unmanageable.� �Carbon dioxide (CO2),� he added, �is the most important of civilization's emissions and the most difficult to reduce. About 80 percent comes from burning coal, oil and natural gas; most of the rest comes from deforestation in the tropics.�
The idea that a mouth-breathing idiot like this could have the President's ear is beyond reproach. Holdren would not recognize good science if it bit him on his ass...
In a book he co-authored, he espoused such things as:
  • Women could be forced to abort their pregnancies, whether they wanted to or not;
  • The population at large could be sterilized by infertility drugs intentionally put into the nation's drinking water or in food;
  • Single mothers and teen mothers should have their babies seized from them against their will and given away to other couples to raise;
  • People who "contribute to social deterioration" (i.e. undesirables) "can be required by law to exercise reproductive responsibility" -- in other words, be compelled to have abortions or be sterilized.
  • A transnational "Planetary Regime" should assume control of the global economy and also dictate the most intimate details of Americans' lives -- using an armed international police force.
Do I have your interest? Good. Check out this post from Zombietime:
John Holdren, Obama's Science Czar, says: Forced abortions and mass sterilization needed to save the planet
Book he authored in 1977 advocates for extreme totalitarian measures to control the population

Forced abortions. Mass sterilization. A "Planetary Regime" with the power of life and death over American citizens.

The tyrannical fantasies of a madman? Or merely the opinions of the person now in control of science policy in the United States? Or both?

These ideas (among many other equally horrifying recommendations) were put forth by John Holdren, whom Barack Obama has recently appointed Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and Co-Chair of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology -- informally known as the United States' Science Czar.
What follows is a long post including photos of scans from the book. I know that this material is from 22 years ago but for someone to consider such radical ideas means that they have the capacity to think that way and can do so again once they get into a position of power. In a way, it is good that this book is receiving such widespread publicity at this point in time -- it means that there will be a lot of Mark 1 eyeballs looking at what he does -- mine included...
Say what you will about the Catholic Church, they have a long long history and you do not rise far in the Catholic hierarchy if you are stupid. From the Catholic News Service:
Economist: UN could create economic body with teeth, as pope suggested
Pope Benedict XVI's call for an international authority with "real teeth" to guide the global economy could be realized with the creation of a U.N. "socio-economic security council" to stand alongside the current Security Council dedicated to peacekeeping, said an economist who advises the Vatican.

Stefano Zamagni, a professor of economic policies at the University of Bologna, Italy, and a consultant to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, spoke July 7 at the Vatican press conference held to present Pope Benedict's encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" ("Charity in Truth.")

Pope Benedict wrote that the current financial crisis demonstrated just how little control national governments have over the process of globalization and the interdependence of the world's economy.

The pope called for the reform of the United Nations, as well as of international bodies involved in economics and finance. The reform, he said, should help ensure that the world's poorer countries have a voice in economic decisions impacting everyone. The reform should aim to revive ailing economies, protect the environment, provide food security and promote peace more effectively, he said.
Benedict16 doesn't come out and call the United Nation a bunch of weasels and incompetent kleptocrats but he says as much in Latin with a nicer turn of phrase. Readers may remember that I was raised as a Church of England Episcopal but I am leaning more to the Catholic Church as the COE veers off the rails with its all-inclusiveness. If I wanted to be a member of an all-inclusive Church, I would join UCC. I do not.

Another look at Socialized Medicine

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Some people in the USA are clamoring for a Socialized health system much like that of Canada or England despite the fact that many of these patients are traveling to other countries to get health care as they cannot spend the months and years to wait for diagnosis and treatment. Talk about unintended consequences. Here is one metric that really drives home the disparity:
Here is a story of how an MRI correctly diagnosed an ailment that had been incorrectly diagnosed, treated with major surgery and the problem was never fixed. After two years, the English patient finally had an MRI done... In Japan... From the UK Telegraph:
Man who suffered hiccups for two years diagnosed with cancer
Christopher Sands, who has suffered from a constant bout of the hiccups for more than two years, has been diagnosed with a brain tumour, it has been disclosed.

Mr Sands, of Timberland near Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, hiccups persistently every two seconds when his condition is at its worst.

The musician, who is 25, has tried every cure possible, including hypnotherapy, Reiki and yoga.

A backing singer in a band, he has even had an operation to try to cure his hiccups, which at times have prevented him from sleeping and eating properly.

Experts at the Queen's Medical Centre in Nottingham have previously said his condition was down to a damaged valve which had caused an acid reflux condition.

Doctors have managed to create a new valve linking his oesophagus and stomach to try to alleviate the problem.

But Mr Sands now thinks a Japanese doctor has found the cause of the problem - a 12mm tumour at the back of his brain.

The discovery came to light during an MRI scan in Tokyo after Mr Sands was flown out to Japan by a television station to see a hiccup specialist.
Baby Jebus -- I am not a Doctor but I have had a bunch of biology in college and even I can tell you that there can be multiple causes for a given symptom. If there is something reflexive like a hiccup, it can be neurological or it can be a physical irritation. If I were attending this person, I would stuff him to the gills with Prilosec for a week or two to eliminate any chance of GERD and then take a look at the brain. I found another article dated from March of this year; same poor soul, same Fscking Hiccups (which started in February 2007), same brain tumor. He was being admitted into surgery soon after the article's publication. Talk about incompetent diagnosis. There is no mention of what television station sponsored Mr. Sand's trip. Take the soul of the Department of Motor Vehicles with the efficiency of Amtrak and the speed of the Post Office and you tell me that you want the same people handling your Medical care?

Late start on posting tonight

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Was in town doing some banking and came home to find the latest Cabela's catalog in the mail. Having some dinner and drooling...
Working on some other stuff and also fighting off some low-grade thing that has been nosing around my immune system for the last week or two. Early evening. We went in to see a matin�e showing of the latest Transformers movie. That was a lot of fun and worth seeing on the big-screen to fully appreciate the CGI that went into it. A lot of throw-away sight gags that were only on the screen for a few seconds -- references to other movies, etc... Go and see it. One thing that surprised me was the level of sophistication of the models used for the Transformers. You can build a good human model from about 1,000 to 3,000 polygons (not counting bump, hair and surface maps). I would like to know the number of polygons used on even the smaller Transformers. Optimus Prime must be in the tens of thousands -- the Decepticons even higher. And I hope that Hasbro is licensing the car hood ornaments used -- I would love to get a nice subtle Autocon ornament to replace the plain vanilla Dodge on my truck... Off to the DaveCave(tm) to check email and then to an early bed...

Cool illusion

Check this out:


There are no bent lines -- prove it to yourself with the edge of a piece of paper.

From TYWKIWDBI. Hat tip Miss Celania at Neatorama

Makes me want to tile the guest bathroom for when we have our next party...

A bit of a typo - Pittsburgh

I grew up in Pittsburgh, PA and one of the landmarks there was the Grant building that had a very distinctive light on its top -- it was a red neon display that flashed the word" Pittsburgh" in Morse Code over and over again. Although I never got a ham license, I did learn Morse and it was fun to be able to read the sign while driving by. From the Dan Majors at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
A Morse Code typo lights city skyline
An evening view of the city's Downtown skyline offers more than just a beautiful blend of old and new architecture towering over glistening moonlit rivers.

If you look high atop the 33-story Grant Building, you see the red neon lights flashing, in International Morse Code, a one-word message:

Wait, that's not right, said Tom Stepleton, as he decoded the message while waiting to see the city's Fourth of July fireworks show with friends at the Brew House on the South Side.

"I was looking at it, and I saw the letter 'K,' which is [dash-dot-dash]," Mr. Stepleton said. "I remembered 'K' because my sister's name starts with 'K.' And I knew that wasn't supposed to be there."

Mr. Stepleton, 29, of Squirrel Hill, a graduate student pursuing a degree in computer sciences at Carnegie Mellon University, knew from past viewing that the code should spell "Pittsburgh." He learned Morse code as a teenager, when he became a ham radio operator.

Of course, it's not like it's a secret. The flashing beacon atop the Grant Building has been famous for spelling out "Pittsburgh" since they flipped the switch during a dedication in March 1929.

The Grant Building, located on Grant Street between Third and Fourth avenues, was designed by architect Henry Hornbostel and stood as the tallest building between New York and Cleveland when it was built in 1928. Pittsburgh's first skyscraper, it cost $8.5 million to build.

The radio tower erected atop the 500-foot structure served KDKA Radio, which then was housed in the Grant Building.

But skyscrapers weren't the only thing new at the time. Commercial air travel was still a novelty and regular air mail service was just a year-old experiment. Newspapers at the time said it was decided that the tower should have an aerial beacon flashing on it "to comply with the recent request of Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, so that aviators might recognize the city."

Red neon was chosen because it was the color best visible through fog.

It was reported that W.J. Strassburger, president of the Grant Building Inc. and its principal backer, suggested that since the tower beacon had to flash, it might as well flash something worthwhile.

The word "Pittsburgh," transmitted via 3.25 million candlepower, could be seen by pilots from 75 to 125 miles away, depending upon conditions, and was registered with the Bureau of Lighthouses in the Division of Aeronautics.

Through the decades, the tower was replaced by a smaller version, but the word "Pittsburgh" has been flashing pretty steadily from dusk to dawn.

The letters, as any sailor could tell you, are "dot-dash-dash-dot, dot-dot, dash, dash, dot-dot-dot, dash-dot-dot-dot, dot-dot-dash, dot-dash-dot, dash-dash-dot, and dot-dot-dot-dot." Following the four flashing dots for the letter "H," there is a short pause, and then the series repeats.

Until recently, that is.

Representatives of McKnight Property Management, the building's current owners, could not say how long the code has been off or how and when the lights might be reset. But the company is aware of the flawed flashes.

Mr. Stepleton, a recreational pilot, spelled out where the errors are. First, there is a stray flash -- which could be construed as a dot representing the letter "E" -- between the two dashes that represent the two "Ts" in Pittsburgh.

Then there is a dash that should be a dot at the start of the seventh letter, turning what ought to be a "U" into a "K."

Finally, there is a dot that should be a dash at the start of the ninth letter, changing the "G" into another "R."

Mr. Stepleton thought the brilliant typo interesting enough to record and upload onto Youtube.com. Then, believing that someone might want to correct it, he contacted the Post-Gazette.

Apparently, he knows how seriously the newspaper takes misspelled words.
The YouTube link is here: Pitetsbkrrh preview video

The mask slips a little bit

Al Gore says a little bit more than he probably intended to. From Climate Depot:
Gore: U.S. Climate Bill Will Help Bring About 'Global Governance'
Former Vice President Al Gore declared that the Congressional climate bill will help bring about �global governance.�

�I bring you good news from the U.S., �Gore said on July 7, 2009 in Oxford at the Smith School World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment, sponsored by UK Times.

�Just two weeks ago, the House of Representatives passed the Waxman-Markey climate bill,� Gore said, noting it was �very much a step in the right direction.� President Obama has pushed for the passage of the bill in the Senate and attended a G8 summit this week where he agreed to attempt to keep the Earth's temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees C.

Gore touted the Congressional climate bill, claiming it �will dramatically increase the prospects for success� in combating what he sees as the �crisis� of man-made global warming.

�But it is the awareness itself that will drive the change and one of the ways it will drive the change is through global governance and global agreements.� (Editor's Note: Gore makes the �global governance� comment at the 1min. 10 sec. mark in this UK Times video.)

Gore's call for �global governance� echoes former French President Jacques Chirac's call in 2000.

On November 20, 2000, then French President Chirac said during a speech at The Hague that the UN's Kyoto Protocol represented "the first component of an authentic global governance."

�For the first time, humanity is instituting a genuine instrument of global governance,� Chirac explained. �From the very earliest age, we should make environmental awareness a major theme of education and a major theme of political debate, until respect for the environment comes to be as fundamental as safeguarding our rights and freedoms. By acting together, by building this unprecedented instrument, the first component of an authentic global governance, we are working for dialogue and peace,� Chirac added.

Former EU Environment Minister Margot Wallstrom said, "Kyoto is about the economy, about leveling the playing field for big businesses worldwide." Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper once dismissed UN's Kyoto Protocol as a �socialist scheme.�
A pox on all of their houses. The United States is a sovereign nation and we bow down to no external rulemaking body. The United Nations has well proven just how effective it is -- and there are mouth-breathers who think that a bigger version of the U.N. is a good idea?
This weekend is the local The Hills to Mills Woodworking and Craft Show. It is held every year at the Deming Logging Show fairgrounds and features all sorts of woodworking and crafts. There were chainsaw carvers, several lathe operators. It was said that there would be a blacksmith but nobody was there and the forge was cold. Here are six photos -- some gorgeous work was being done if you like bears...





From Yahoo News/Reuters:
Potato famine disease striking home gardens in U.S.
Late blight, which caused the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s and 1850s, is killing potato and tomato plants in home gardens from Maine to Ohio and threatening commercial and organic farms, U.S. plant scientists said on Friday.

"Late blight has never occurred this early and this widespread in the United States," said Meg McGrath, a plant pathologist at Cornell University's extension center in Riverhead, New York.

She said the fungal disease, spread by spores carried in the air, has made its way into the garden centers of large retail chains in the Northeastern United States.

"Wal-mart, Home Depot, Sears, Kmart and Lowe's are some of the stores the plants have been seen in," McGrath said in a telephone interview.

The disease, known officially as Phytophthora infestans, causes large mold-ringed olive-green or brown spots on plant leaves, blackened stems, and can quickly wipe out weeks of tender care in a home garden.

McGrath said in her 21 years of research, she has only seen five outbreaks in the United States. The destructive disease can spread rapidly in cooler, moist weather, infecting an entire field within days.
A bit more:
According to its website, the University Maryland's Plant Diagnostic Lab got a suspect tomato sample as early as June 12, very early in the tomato growing season, which runs from April-September.

McGrath said the risk is that many gardeners will not recognize it, putting commercial farms and especially organic growers at risk.

"My concern is for growers. They are going to have to put a lot more time and effort in trying to control the disease. It's going to be a very tough year," she said.

"This pathogen can move great distances in the air. It often does little jumps, but it can make some big leaps."

McGrath said the impact on the farmer will depend on how much the pathogen is spread. "Eastern New York is seeing a lot of disease," she said.
How's that Global Warming doing there buddy? I am surprised that the local extension offices aren't putting out the word. The Pacific Northwest is a potato growing area too. Hat tip to Anthony over at Watts Up With That for the link.

Financial recovery timetable

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Doesn't look good according to Robert Reich at Talking Points Memo:
When Will The Recovery Begin? Never.
The so-called "green shoots" of recovery are turning brown in the scorching summer sun. In fact, the whole debate about when and how a recovery will begin is wrongly framed. On one side are the V-shapers who look back at prior recessions and conclude that the faster an economy drops, the faster it gets back on track. And because this economy fell off a cliff late last fall, they expect it to roar to life early next year. Hence the V shape.

Unfortunately, V-shapers are looking back at the wrong recessions. Focus on those that started with the bursting of a giant speculative bubble and you see slow recoveries. The reason is asset values at bottom are so low that investor confidence returns only gradually.

That's where the more sober U-shapers come in. They predict a more gradual recovery, as investors slowly tiptoe back into the market.

Personally, I don't buy into either camp. In a recession this deep, recovery doesn't depend on investors. It depends on consumers who, after all, are 70 percent of the U.S. economy. And this time consumers got really whacked. Until consumers start spending again, you can forget any recovery, V or U shaped.

Problem is, consumers won't start spending until they have money in their pockets and feel reasonably secure. But they don't have the money, and it's hard to see where it will come from. They can't borrow. Their homes are worth a fraction of what they were before, so say goodbye to home equity loans and refinancings. One out of ten home owners is under water -- owing more on their homes than their homes are worth. Unemployment continues to rise, and number of hours at work continues to drop. Those who can are saving. Those who can't are hunkering down, as they must.

Eventually consumers will replace cars and appliances and other stuff that wears out, but a recovery can't be built on replacements. Don't expect businesses to invest much more without lots of consumers hankering after lots of new stuff. And don't rely on exports. The global economy is contracting.
And those replacements will come used from eBay and Craigslist. I have a truck that I love but it is approaching the 200K mile marker and it is time to think about a replacement while it is still running well enough to sell for a couple $K. No way will I be buying a new vehicle, I'll look for something about two years old with 40K to 80K miles on it for about $10K -- maybe splurge a couple extra K-bucks for a Diesel if something sweet is available. A lot of local people are downsizing their lifestyles to try to get through this mess. I wonder how the bozos in Washington can have such a bad read on what the problems are and how to truly stimulate a recovery -- Keynesian Economics has shown time and time again to simply not work. It did not work in Japan in the 1990's and it did not work in the USA in the 1930's and it is not working now...
From The Sunday Express:
The Nazi King
In December 1940, as war raged in Europe and Britain battled Hitler in lonely isolation, �American journalist Fulton Oursler received an unexpected summons to the Bahamas. He had been invited to conduct a rare interview with the islands� governor, the former King Edward VIII, �officially known since his abdication four years earlier as His Royal Highness the Duke of Windsor.

As an officer in the British Army as well as a dignitary of the British Empire and brother of King George VI, the Duke might have been expected to fly the flag for his embattled �country. Instead he gave Oursler a eulogy to Hitler. The former British monarch told the journalist it would be tragic for the world if the Nazi �dictator were overthrown. Hitler was not just the right and logical leader of the German people, the Duke insisted, he was also a great man.

As Oursler tried to grasp the �enormity of what he was hearing the Duke asked him: �Do you suppose that your President would consider intervening as a mediator when and if the proper time arrives?�

The American understood that he was being asked to carry a message to President Roosevelt, with whom he was on good terms, but he was not certain what it was. As he was leaving the Duke�s aide-de-camp spelt it out. He instructed Oursler: �Tell Mr �Roosevelt that if he will make an offer of intervention for peace, that before anyone in England can oppose it, the Duke of Windsor will instantly issue a statement supporting it and that will start a revolution in England and force peace.�

Fortunately Roosevelt would have no truck with the Duke�s treacherous scheme. He had already placed Edward and his American-born wife, the former Wallis Simpson, under FBI surveillance when they paid a visit to Miami. Newly declassified FBI papers revealed in a documentary this week on Channel Five show the Americans� scathing assessment of the royal figure who had once been the glam�orous darling of the British Empire.

�The British government were anxious to get rid of the Duke of Windsor, first and foremost because of his fondness for Nazi ideology,� the 227-page report concludes. �The Duchess�s political views are deemed so obnoxious to the British government that they refused to permit Edward to marry her and maintain the throne.�
The guy just did not have a clue:
In that context the abdication at the end of 1936 came as a godsend to the government. But even off the throne the Duke of Windsor posed an ongoing problem.

The FBI files show that at a party in Vienna in June 1937 � the month he married Mrs Simpson � the loose-tongued Duke told an Italian �diplomat that the Americans had cracked Italy�s intelligence codes.Four months later the Duke and Duchess paid a high-profile visit to Germany where the Nazi regime fawned on him. They met Hitler, who saw the value of �cultivating an ally once so intimately involved with British affairs. Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels wrote of the Duke: �It�s a shame he is no longer king. With him we would have entered into an alliance.�

Even the declaration of war was not enough to make the Duke sever his Nazi connections. He was made a major-general and stationed in France but he continued to �communicate with the enemy. In January 1940 the German minister in The Hague wrote that he had established a direct line of contact to the Duke.

This line of contact proved crucial to the tragic fate of France. From the Duke the Germans learned that their plans for the invasion of France had fallen into Allied hands. This intelligence allowed Hitler to change his plans and catch the Allies by surprise. France fell.
It is amazing to realize just how much rot is at the core of British politics from the founding of the Fabian Society in 1884 through the Communist groups of the 1960's through the radical environmental groups today. The insanity and delusion never ends, it just shifts its form and rebirths as a new polemic.

Fun and games today - Llama shearing

Our four Llamas were getting pretty shaggy so it was time to have a shearer come out and do them. Jen and I helped rounding them up and keeping them steady in the pen but the shearers did all of the work -- first time for us so we learned a lot. Here are a few photos:

This is the classical: "I am not happy" expression. Notice the green goo on the fence to the right -- this is partially digested grass and is what Llamas spit when they are angry. Smelly and sticky stuff -- you do not want to get it on you and when you do, you need to rinse it off immediately as if it dries, it is next to impossible to get off...


We also had them show us how to trim toes -- this needs to be done about every three months. Llamas evolved in mountainous regions and our soil is not rocky enough to wear down the nails.


Naked Llama -- Llama porn (and I bet I get search engine hits for that!)


Outstanding in their field...


Work was done here today. Jen will spin and weave with the fiber. We will put the bags into our deep freezer first to kill off any bugs.
Wonderful in-depth article by Matt Taibbi writing at Rolling Stone:
The Great American Bubble Machine
The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it's everywhere. The world's most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money.

Any attempt to construct a narrative around all the former Goldmanites in influential positions quickly becomes an absurd and pointless exercise, like trying to make a list of everything. What you need to know is the big picture: If America is circling the drain, Goldman Sachs has found a way to be that drain � an extremely unfortunate loophole in the system of Western democratic capitalism, which never foresaw that in a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy.

They achieve this using the same playbook over and over again. The formula is relatively simple: Goldman positions itself in the middle of a speculative bubble, selling investments they know are crap. Then they hoover up vast sums from the middle and lower floors of society with the aid of a crippled and corrupt state that allows it to rewrite the rules in exchange for the relative pennies the bank throws at political patronage. Finally, when it all goes bust, leaving millions of ordinary citizens broke and starving, they begin the entire process over again, riding in to rescue us all by lending us back our own money at interest, selling themselves as men above greed, just a bunch of really smart guys keeping the wheels greased. They've been pulling this same stunt over and over since the 1920s � and now they're preparing to do it again, creating what may be the biggest and most audacious bubble yet.
Matt talks about the Internet Bubble:
The basic scam in the Internet Age is pretty easy even for the financially illiterate to grasp. Companies that weren't much more than pot-fueled ideas scrawled on napkins by up-too-late bong-smokers were taken public via IPOs, hyped in the media and sold to the public for megamillions. It was as if banks like Goldman were wrapping ribbons around watermelons, tossing them out 50-story windows and opening the phones for bids. In this game you were a winner only if you took your money out before the melon hit the pavement.

It sounds obvious now, but what the average investor didn't know at the time was that the banks had changed the rules of the game, making the deals look better than they actually were. They did this by setting up what was, in reality, a two-tiered investment system � one for the insiders who knew the real numbers, and another for the lay investor who was invited to chase soaring prices the banks themselves knew were irrational. While Goldman's later pattern would be to capitalize on changes in the regulatory environment, its key innovation in the Internet years was to abandon its own industry's standards of quality control.
And what are they doing today?
Fast-forward to today. It's early June in Washington, D.C. Barack Obama, a popular young politician whose leading private campaign donor was an investment bank called Goldman Sachs � its employees paid some $981,000 to his campaign � sits in the White House. Having seamlessly navigated the political minefield of the bailout era, Goldman is once again back to its old business, scouting out loopholes in a new government-created market with the aid of a new set of alumni occupying key government jobs.

Gone are Hank Paulson and Neel Kashkari; in their place are Treasury chief of staff Mark Patterson and CFTC chief Gary Gensler, both former Goldmanites. (Gensler was the firm's co-head of finance.) And instead of credit derivatives or oil futures or mortgage-backed CDOs, the new game in town, the next bubble, is in carbon credits � a booming trillion- dollar market that barely even exists yet, but will if the Democratic Party that it gave $4,452,585 to in the last election manages to push into existence a groundbreaking new commodities bubble, disguised as an "environmental plan," called cap-and-trade. The new carbon-credit market is a virtual repeat of the commodities-market casino that's been kind to Goldman, except it has one delicious new wrinkle: If the plan goes forward as expected, the rise in prices will be government-mandated. Goldman won't even have to rig the game. It will be rigged in advance.
Lots more -- it's a long article (five pages) and makes for fascinating (if uncomfortable) reading. The idea that people have this much power over our money is unreal -- Matt talked about the speculation in the oil market and said:
By 2008, a barrel of oil was traded 27 times, on average, before it was actually delivered and consumed.
Of course, there ought to be a law and there was -- the Glass-Steagall Act passed in 1933 after the worst of the depression. It prevented companies like Goldman Sachs from doing what Goldman Sachs is now doing. And it was gutted and hamstrung in 1999 by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act otherwise known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. This was done on Clinton's watch although it was driven by Congressional Republicans.

Happy 153rd Birthday Nicola Tesla

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Born on this date back in 1856 - one of my personal Heroes and one of the more misunderstood geniuses in the world. Because of his flashy Tesla Coils, people associated him with the mad scientist genre when in fact, he was a brilliant engineer and inventor with over 300 patents to his name. Basic patents for things like Radio, Fluorescent Lighting, machinery for producing and working with Xrays and the system of electrical power generation, transmission and use that we continue to use to this very day. 110/220 volts, three phase, 60Hz -- all Tesla's decisions. Happy Birthday!
From the (in this case) very appropriately named The Daily WTF:
The Ace in the Hole
After spending his first three years out of college in an entry-level position with Ask.com, Erhen was ready to move on to something with more responsibility. One day, he received a phone call from a company that wanted him to come in for an immediate interview.

The following day, Erhen arrived at the company�s place of business. It was a sports equipment supplier, operating out of a building that might have been built entirely out of asbestos. On the inside, there wasn�t a piece of furniture or decoration that had been built post-cold war.

�It�s great to have you here, Ehren!� a nice older gentlemen in his sixties said. He was the hiring manager. �We�ve been looking for a project manager for this huge job we have, and it looks like you�ve got the experience we want. Now you say that you�ve worked with the internet before?�

�Well, yes.� Erhen replied, a little put off by how vague the phrase �worked with the internet� was. Technically, one could classify downloading porn as �working with the internet.� Erhen elaborated, �I currently work for Ask.com.�

�I see�� he said. �And what do they do?�

Erhen wasn�t quite prepared for that question. While Ask is hardly a search engine juggernaut, they�re still fairly well known. And he had just assumed that the Ask.com name was the main reason they had interest in hiring him.

�They�re a search engine like Google.�

�Well, you�re going to enjoy the security of working for us,� the manager said. �We�re a �real� company and probably bigger than anything you�ve got experience with. We�ve got almost 60 employees here. How many people work at Ask, 15? 20?�

�Ummm� Erhen paused, �they have a few thousand people working for them.�

�Really?� the sexagenarian questioned, �that doesn�t sound right. I thought most internet companies were run by college students in garages?�

�Well I think that�s how they started,� Erhen replied gently, �maybe, like, fifteen years ago. But they�re pretty big now. They have real offices and everything.�

�That�s great!� he said. �I�m looking for someone who understands the internet, because after voting down my suggestion that our company launch a website each of the past eight years, they�ve finally agreed to let me put one up!�

Erhen let that sink in for a moment. �Your business is supplying sports equipment to companies, schools, and individuals, right? How are you having customers fill out orders now?�

�Oh, we do everything by catalogue and mail,� he responded, �the board has let me try out having a website as a way of supplementing our current ordering system. But I have this hunch that we�ll be able to save money on printing and postage if we use the internet. The idea is to have people check our catalogue through the web, print out order forms, and then mail them in.�

Erhen checked his watch. Yes, it was still 2007 and there hadn�t been a time-warp.
And the offer to do the website was $2,000 When I had my computer business in Seattle, I had one client that I dearly loved but he would have his secretary print out all his emails, hand him a stack of paper which he would scribble out replies and then the secretary would type them back in. This guy ran a financial consulting business and was a genuinely nice person and brilliant in his field but everyone around him learned quickly to adapt to his computer foibles. He always enjoyed getting emails -- he would call and say: "Dave, ****** (secretary's name) printed out another one of your emails for me, these are great!"

Variations on comment spam

It has been a very quiet week or two over the July Fourth holiday but spammers are starting to ramp back up again. This time, it's a new variant on an old theme -- the spammer posts a banal comment about how good the blog is and how they will be returning again. Usually, these are followed with anywhere from two or three to over 100 URLs pointing to the same old PPCs (Pills Pr0n, Casinos). Tonights was just the banal message but the posters website was the link. Needless to say, their IP address was clicked into the 'ole bit bucket and that particular URL was clicked onto the block list. What makes this such a ridiculous turkey shoot is that this booger eating moron used a system whose IP address had already been flagged as a spam originator or zombie system. It was a type of spam that I was not filtering for but because it used a known bad IP address, it got flagged. It would have been successfully posted if the idiots running this had bothered to check their bot net for bad addresses. I am dealing with children here -- as I said before, I am a hardware guy but I have had to program and am fairly literate in a few languages. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a good programmer. These people are mouth-breathers -- idiots.

They Have No Geek Fu

And I am now looking for this technique as well -- there was a definite signature that I am now filtering for. What I am running is about 80 lines of PERL and about ten lines of regex. I am stomping out 99% of all incoming spam while letting through most legitimate comments. If a comment triggers something that puts it into moderation, I will review it and click to approve if it's OK but a good solid 90% of all legit comments go to direct posting. Heh...


An online database of keyboard shortcuts for various applications.

Very handy -- check out KeyXL

KeyXL online keyboard shortcuts database
A keyboard short cut is a key (or combination of keys) that performs a function within a software program.

Usually this same function can be performed using the mouse but the advantage of keyboard shortcuts is that the hand does not need to leave the keyboard.

Other names for a keyboard shortcut are shortcut key, accelerator key, hotkey, key binding, key combo, etc.

Many shortcut keys consist of two or more keys pressed together. For these, the short cut would usually consist of an alphabetic or numeric key combined with a "modifier" key (shift, ctrl or alt,cmd, option or apple depending on your operating system). Some applications have the ability to create your own custom key short cuts to give you even more flexibility.

An example of the kind of function a shortcut key might perform could be to minimize a window in Internet Explorer or to copy a selected item in Photoshop.

Many people aren't aware of the large number of keyboard shortcuts that can be used to perform actions within their favorite software program.

Conversely, there are also a lot of people who are aware of how useful keyboard shortcuts are, but they find it difficult to remember which keyboard shortcut or hotkey does what function. (Thats where the KeyXL keyboard shortcut database comes in!)

Very handy resource -- not only the basic MS Office applications but versions of Photoshop, iTunes, etc. etc. etc. Even Linux apps.

From Reuters:
I would not want to Michelle O pissed off at me:
From USA Today:
Billions in aid go to areas that backed Obama in '08
Billions of dollars in federal aid delivered directly to the local level to help revive the economy have gone overwhelmingly to places that supported President Obama in last year's presidential election.

That aid � about $17 billion � is the first piece of the administration's massive stimulus package that can be tracked locally. Much of it has followed a well-worn path to places that regularly collect a bigger share of federal grants and contracts, guided by formulas that have been in place for decades and leave little room for manipulation.

"There's no politics at work when it comes to spending for the recovery," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says.
But wait -- let's take a look at the numbers:
Counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, a USA TODAY analysis of government disclosure and accounting records shows. That money includes aid to repair military bases, improve public housing and help students pay for college.

The reports show the 872 counties that supported Obama received about $69 per person, on average. The 2,234 that supported McCain received about $34.
Why am I not surprised...
Heh... From Are We Lumberjacks:
Matryoshka Dolls


They're called Matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls. See, inside Medvedev is a smaller Medvedev, which contains a smaller Medvedev, and on and on. And inside Obama... Oh nooooo!

Fallout 2009

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A bunch of Russians playing an RPG in a disused air-defense base near Leningrad. Some amazing photos. The text is being run through Google Translate so there are some glitches but not many. Check out Fallout 2009:
Fallout 2009
Gamers certainly well known series of computer games, Fallout., Fallout Tactics, Fallout 3. The first two parts of the game, Fallout Tactics, and the newly released Fallout 3 with numerous additions. New World of California, bombed the enemy missiles and the dangerous charm of radioactive deserts excite the minds of many people. Based on the data of games almost every year are held Polygon role play, where everyone can feel like a resident of wasteland. Civilians, garrison towns, raider, the scientists, the Brotherhood of Steel and Rangers NKR - no limit for imagination. Role play - this world that you create yourself, and for a few days, forget his name, to become a different person in a new world role-playing game of polygons, with all its dangers and hardships.

Fallout II. 19 - June 21, 2009 at a disused air-defense bases in the Leningrad region, cosoyalyas game after the universe Fallout II. Organizers of the game - a workshop group Albion. Participation in the game has about 300 people. This workshop group, a group of technical support, rescue and medical services. And, of course, the players, who for many months preparing for the game. Much has been done masters: tightly closed military bases, including the memorable players of the Sierra from the second Fallout, coordination, and thought the plot, fast response to changes in the workshop of the team in the game space. Players also tried - authentic costumes designed, straykbolnoe weapons, modified to such an extent that it could not find the original machine, specially prepared for the game, theater and worked in real-time station, a few bars, a hospital, a casino and many other institutions. Common efforts of masters and players for the short two days made this world alive.

According to legend, the game, the action unfolds in New California, in 2257 from the birth of Christ, through the 180 years following a nuclear war and 15 years after the explosion at the oil rig "Poseidon." 15 Fallout. That is, the events unfolding 15 years after the end of the second Fallout. Venue - New Reno and surrounding area, including the Sierra and inglorious Maripoza.

The city lives its life. Radio Station "Galaxy News Radio" about minor incidents and the latest news of city, including mentions "strange earthquake" which happened a few days ago. In fact, this was not an earthquake, and many years worked the system "deferred retaliation", automatic enemy submarines, the survivors during the war in 2077, fired rockets into the territory of New California.

Not all residents are aware of the wasteland that awaits them. Some people just live their lives in the light of the coming apocalypse, someone of something aware, and someone knows exactly about what happened, and what is coming. It starts with the struggle for survival, and it will affect all those who dared to short 36-hour feel like a resident of the radioactive desert.
The work done on the sets and the costumes is downright amazing -- here are a few photos with lots more at the site:





Almost makes me want to start learning Russian so I can fly over there for next years games. Looks like a lot of fun was had!

California's IOUs

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California is issuing IOUs instead of paying cash for its bills. The idea is that you can take this instrument (technically, an "individual registered warrant") to a bank and exchange it for cash and the bank will be able to redeem it for fact value plus 3.75% interest. Turns out that the banks have other plans -- from the Wall Street Journal:
Big Banks Don't Want California's IOUs
A group of the biggest U.S. banks said they would stop accepting California's IOUs on Friday, adding pressure on the state to close its $26.3 billion annual budget gap.

The development is the latest twist in California's struggle to deal with the effects of the recession. After state leaders failed to agree on budget solutions last week, California began issuing IOUs -- or "individual registered warrants" -- to hundreds of thousands of creditors. State Controller John Chiang said that without IOUs, California would run out of cash by July's end.

But now, if California continues to issue the IOUs, creditors will be forced to hold on to them until they mature on Oct. 2, or find other banks to honor them. When the IOUs mature, holders will be paid back directly by the state at an annual 3.75% interest rate.
The group of banks included Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co., among others. The banks had previously committed to accepting state IOUs as payment. California plans to issue more than $3 billion of IOUs in July.
Hell -- If I maxed out my credit card and tried to pay them with an IOU, I would be laughed into collection proceedings by the card company. What makes a state any different. The idiots in Sacramento have spent the state into the poorhouse and now, they are trying any way they can to keep spending spending and spending some more. 2010 is going to be very interesting -- San Francisco has a lot of people and a lot of the liberal votes but there is a whole other state out there that is sick and tired of being sent to the poorhouse for head-in-the-clouds social programs...
I have been in contact with Mr. Iiams and there is a lot going on behind the scenes. I am choosing to redact my post as well as his comments. I do not do this often (this is the second time in close to six years of blogging) but in this case, it is the best thing...
From an email list:
SCHOOL -- 1958 vs. 2008

Scenario : Jack goes quail hunting before school, pulls into school parking lot with shotgun in gun rack.
1958 - Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack's shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.
2008 - School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario : Johnny and Mark get into a fistfight after school.
1958 - Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.
2008 - Police called, SWAT team arrives, arrests Johnny and Mark. Charge them with assault, both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario : Jeffrey won't be still in class, disrupts other students.
1958 - Jeffrey sent to office and given a good paddling by the Principal. Returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.
2008 - Jeffrey given huge doses of Ritalin. Becomes a zombie. Tested for ADD. School gets extra money from state because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario : Billy breaks a window in his neighbor's car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.
1958 - Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college, and becomes a successful businessman.
2008 - Billy's dad is arrested for child abuse. Billy removed to foster care and joins a gang. State psychologist tells Billy's sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy's mom has affair with psychologist.

Scenario : Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.
1958 - Mark shares aspirin with Principal out on the smoking dock.
2008 - Police called, Mark expelled from school for drug violations. Car searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario : Pedro fails high school English.
1958 - Pedro goes to summer school, passes English, goes to college.
2008 - Pedro's cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against state school system and Pedro's English teacher. English banned from core curriculum. Pedro given diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario : Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from 4th of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle, blows up a red ant bed.
1958 - Ants die.
2008 - BATF, Homeland Security, FBI called. Johnny charged with domestic terrorism, FBI investigates parents, siblings removed from home, computers confiscated, Johnny's Dad goes on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario : Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.
1958 - In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.
2008 - Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy ...
That is so true. We really have lost something vital by becoming politically correct.
From Yahoo/Associated Press:
Pickens calls off massive wind farm in Texas
Plans for the world's largest wind farm in the Texas Panhandle have been scrapped, energy baron T. Boone Pickens said Tuesday, and he's looking for a home for 687 giant wind turbines.

Pickens has already ordered the turbines, which can stand 400 feet tall � taller than most 30-story buildings.

"When I start receiving those turbines, I've got to ... like I said, my garage won't hold them," the legendary Texas oilman said. "They've got to go someplace."

Pickens' company Mesa Power ordered the turbines from General Electric Co. � a $2 billion investment � a little more than a year ago. Pickens said he has leases on about 200,000 acres in Texas that were planned for the project, and he might place some of the turbines there, but he's also looking for smaller wind projects to participate in. He said he's looking at potential sites in the Midwest and Canada.
He did not have a connection to the grid. He would be generating all of this power but not have any way to get it to the consumer. Alternative Energy will always be a bit player when it comes to baseload power generation. The idea that we are putting so much time effort and money into developing it instead of focusing on Nuclear is, in my mind, a tragic waste of resources. France is doing the right thing with over 80% of their electricity coming from Nuclear Power to the extent that their fourth largest export financially is electricity...

Murphy's Law

We all know (and have experienced) Murphy's Law. There is a canon of corollaries and addenda that are not as well known. Ran into a new one this morning -- it seems to be very popular in Washington these days:
Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will."

Whitling's Addendum: "If nothing goes wrong, someone will try to adjust it."
A very cool story and set of photos of the Russian Nuke plant at Obninsk. From English Russia:
The World�s First Nuclear Power Plant
We all got used to the nuclear power plants, even if having some precautions of the phenomena itself they look like have been here for quite a while. But when did this nuclear energy extraction thing has started?

The first nuclear power plant has been built in Russia or Soviet Union as it was called at that times. It has been built in high hush-hush mode, even the construction workers on site didn�t know what exactly they were doing there.

Then on June 27th, 1954 Russian radio stations knocked over their listeners across the vast country and worldwide when they broadcasted the news like �In Soviet Union, thanks to the joint effort of scientists and engineers the construction of the world�s first nuclear power plant with an output power of 5000 kW. The power plant construction has been completed and already produced electricity for the local Soviet agricultural objects�.

Today let�s see how this shrine of nuclear power looks in our days.
Here are three of the images -- lots more at the website:


About the last shot:
The fuel capsules with Uriniaum were transported in place with this special crane. Because of excessive radiation levels while on this job the crane has extra thick walls and the 50 cm (20 inch) thick quarz glass so that the operator could visually control the process of transportation. They didn�t have the video cams at that times.
Although this was the first nuke built specifically for generating electrical power, it is not the first plant to do so -- here is the Experimental Breeder EBR-1 at the Idaho National Laboratory generating a couple hundred watts in 1951:
I originally posted about this here: Unique Nuclear Reactors
Not an Indian by his own admission, a plagiarist of both words and images, a lier. He was summarily canned by the University of Colorado after a lengthy process. He turned around and sued for his job and his back wages. The judge made his decision today -- from the Denver Post:
No job, no money for Churchill
A judge has ruled that the University of Colorado doesn't have to give controversial former professor Ward Churchill his job back, even though a jury found he was improperly fired.

Churchill, who taught ethnic studies at CU's Boulder campus, lost his teaching position after an investigation found he had plagiarized and falsified scholarly work for years.

The university launched the investigation on the heels of controversy that erupted when an essay surfaced in which Churchill called some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks at New York's World Trade Center "little Eichmanns."
And the judges decision:
In a 42-page decision issued today, Naves agreed with the university that Churchill's presence on the Boulder campus would suggest that the university tolerated academic misconduct.

"The evidence was credible that professor Churchill will not only be the most visible member of the department of ethnic studies if reinstated, but that reinstatement will create the perception in the broader academic community that the department of ethnic studies tolerates research misconduct," Naves wrote.

"In addition, this negative perception has great potential to hinder students graduating from the department of ethnic studies in their efforts to obtain placement in graduate programs," he wrote.

Naves also refused to order CU to provide front pay, saying there were no actual damages that the money would remedy. And he said that Churchill didn't seek to mitigate his losses by getting another job.

"Professor Churchill's own statements during the trial established that he has not seriously pursued any efforts to gain comparable employment but has, instead, chosen to give lectures and other presentations as a means of supplementing his income. Reportedly, he even 'received a few job offers' that he declined to pursue. Under these circumstances, I do not believe an award of front pay is appropriate," Naves wrote.

Churchill couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
couldn't be reached for comment -- no shit... Glad to see this bozo get his day in court. Of course, he will have his coterie of true believers who will proclaim his innocence to any and all. I lump these mouth-breathers in with the 9/11 troofers and the global warming 'activists'...
Al Gore just invoked Godwin's Law. From Watts Up With That:
Gore and Nazis
Gore / Nazis � two words I thought I�d never see together, and never wanted to. Yet here it is in a story in the Times Online. Surprisingly, Hollywood has been exploiting this linkage for years. I suppose the appearance of a proof of Godwins Law was inevitable, given how long the global warming discussion and Gore have gone on.

Does anyone else besides me get the impression that Al Gore is really reaching now? At the end of this post, Mr. Gore listed only two possible future questions, I�m sure our readers can fill in some of the missing ones. � Anthony
And it seems that Anthony was not the only person to notice -- the Times slipstreamed a new headline in but not before some screen-caps were taken. Here are before and after:

The text of the article was completely rewritten too. Running scared?

Busy day today

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Was in town to meet up with some people who are doing Mesh WiFi in Bellingham. Mesh WiFi is what I want to do here when we roll out broadband so getting connected with these people was important. Learned a lot about some of the wireless tools that are available. Had a quick snack and then headed home to our local Chamber of Commerce monthly board meeting. People who think that rural life is slow paced have not lived out here. It is not as hectic as the city but neither are we sitting on the sofa eating bon-bons all the time...

Fly United but...

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...do not bring your Guitar
From Dave Carroll and the Sons of Maxwell
From Next Big Future:
China's Nuclear Energy Target for 2020 is 86 Gigawatts and Wind Energy Target of 150 GW
China Daily reports: China is planning for an installed nuclear power capacity of 86 gigawatts (gW) by 2020, up nearly 10-fold from the 9 gW capacity it had by the end of last year, two people familiar with the matter said. the new target is higher than targets earlier this year of 70-75 GW and higher than two-three years ago when the target was 40 GW.

The goal, which is part of an alternative energy development roadmap covering 2009-20, seeks to have at least 12 gW of installed nuclear power capacity by 2011.

The plan "will call for the government to accelerate nuclear power development in coastal provinces and autonomous regions, namely Liaoning, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangxi, Jiangsu, Shandong and Hainan," the sources said.

In order to achieve the goal, the government will also set up a "reasonable number of nuclear power plants in inland provinces in Jiangxi, Anhui, Hunan and Hubei", they said.

The government is also planning to have 150 gW of installed wind power capacity by 2020, of which 30 gW will come from offshore wind farms. Installed wind power capacity should reach 35 gW by the end of 2011, of which 5 gW will come from offshore wind farms.

The [Energy] industry would attract investment worth 2.97 trillion yuan by 2011, creating 5 million jobs. And, total investment in the sector would touch 13.5 trillion yuan and create 20 million jobs by 2020.
That is how you do it... None of this NIMBY shite when it comes to off-shore wind farms (Paging Senator Kennedy, Senator Kennedy to the white courtesy phone please). As a point of reference, the electrical generation capacity of the United States (2007) is 1,087 GigaWatts. China is talking about adding 25% of this power in about ten years. Considering that China's energy production per capita is one of the lowest for major nations, this shows that they see cheap energy as being crucial to economic growth and prosperity for its citizens. Instead, we are dinking around with feel-good alt.energy bullshit that only addresses a fraction of a percent and has serious unintended consequences. Bleagh...

Driven to distraction

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Amazing video of Ken Block -- world class rally driver.
Hat tip to Theo for the link.

A Feminist on Sarah Palin

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A wonderful long rant from "Dr. Violet Socks" over at Reclusive Leftist:
Feminists and the mystery of Sarah Palin
I don�t usually comment on other blogs; I have little enough time to keep my own gig in working order. But the other day I was over at I Blame The Patriarchy, where I was dismayed to find in the comment threads some of the same Palin-bashing that has become drearily familiar from the rest of the inner tubes. Now, IBTP is just about the best feminist blog going, with a genius proprietor and a thoughtful commentariat. Hence my dismay. Even here? I thought. Fortunately, some of the commenters there did try to set the record straight, though they got significant guff from others.
She warms up for a few minutes and then lets fly:
Sarah Palin is only the second woman in the history of this country to run on a major party�s presidential ticket. That alone makes her, to me, a fascinating figure worthy of serious investigation. When McCain announced Palin as his choice for VP, I immediately tried to find out as much about her as I could. I wanted to know who she was, what she believed, what her politics were. It never occurred to me that this interest would make me in any way unusual among feminists, but apparently it did. Apparently most feminists � at least the ones online � are content to just take the word of the frat boys at DailyKos or the psycho-sexists at Huffington Post. That amazes me. Aren�t you even interested in who she really is? I want to ask. She�s only the second woman on a presidential ticket in our whole fricking history!

But even weirder is what happens when you try to replace the myths with the truth. If you explain, �no, she did�t charge rape victims,� your feminist interlocutor will come back with something else: �she�s abstinence-only!� No, you say, she�s not; and then the person comes back with, �she�s a creationist!� and so on. �She�s an uneducated moron!� Actually, Sarah Palin is not dumb at all, and based on her interviews and comments, I�d say she has a greater knowledge of evolution, global warming, and the Wisconsin glaciation in Alaska than the average citizen.
This is just a taste -- the whole thing is brilliant and Violet absolutely nails it. The 260+ comments are a fascinating cross-section of human thought...

Self Help programs

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I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me! Turns out that does not work. From the BBC:
Self-help 'makes you feel worse'
Bridget Jones is not alone in turning to self-help mantras to boost her spirits, but a study warns they may have the opposite effect.

Canadian researchers found those with low self-esteem actually felt worse after repeating positive statements about themselves.

They said phrases such as "I am a lovable person" only helped people with high self-esteem.

The study appears in the journal Psychological Science.

A UK psychologist said people based their feelings about themselves on real evidence from their lives.

The suggestion people should "help themselves" to feel better was first mooted by Victorian Samuel Smiles 150 years ago.

His book, called simply "Self Help", sold a quarter of a million copies and included guidance such as: "Heaven helps those who help themselves".

Self-help is now a multi-billion pound global industry.
And the money quote:
They found that, paradoxically, those with low self-esteem were in a better mood when they were allowed to have negative thoughts than when they were asked to focus exclusively on affirmative thoughts.
Always had my suspicions about this sort of pop psychology...
From Rush Limbaugh's smarter brother - David Limbaugh
None Dare Call It Marxism
All right already. I won't call Obama a Marxist in this column. Instead, I'll point to some signs that indicate that Barack and Karl might well be soul mates. At least, they have similar attitudes about capital, labor and profits, er, surplus value.

Liberals, even those of the Marxist variety, take umbrage when you point out their ideological kinship with Marxism.

I suppose this dates back to the days when being a communist was tantamount to being an enemy of the United States, in that there was a global communist movement intent on -- and coming darn close to -- world domination. Though global communism has been defeated, there remains a strong contingent among us, whose nerve center is the Democratic Party leadership under President Obama, committed to obliterating America's free market.

Without getting into the intricacies of Marxist theory, suffice it to say that at the core of this political and economic philosophy is a belief in the historical class struggle. The capitalist (bourgeois) exploits the industrial worker (proletarian) by underpaying him and adding on unnecessary charges to the prices of goods and services, driving up costs to the consumer, and pocketing the profits.

In "Basic Economics," Thomas Sowell puts it this way: "Profits may be the most misconceived subject in economics. Socialists have long regarded profits as simply 'overcharge,' as Fabian socialist George Bernard Shaw called it, or a 'surplus value' as Karl Marx called it." The theory is that under socialism or Marxism, these surplus charges would be eliminated and goods and services would become more affordable.
And getting to the meat of the matter:
You get the point. Capitalists don't view profits as evil or the product of greed. Their opponents -- call them Marxists, fascists, socialists, radical liberals or whatever -- do. Which brings us back to Barack Obama.

Both his father, Barack Obama Sr., and his mentor, Frank Marshall Davis, were communists. His church of choice was one of black liberation theology, whose Marxist roots are inarguable. He associated with far leftists on the "organizing" streets of Chicago, including Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

Mentorship and associations are one thing, but what have Obama's words and actions revealed about his attitudes toward labor, capital, profits and government control of business and industry?

Well, he said that he would raise capital gains tax rates, even if it reduced revenues, as a matter of fairness. It's only fair to make everyone poorer if you believe profits are inherently evil.

He told Joe the Plumber he wants to spread the wealth around. He talked about confiscating Exxon Mobil's profits and giving them to consumers, saying "they are not going to give up those profits easily." He called Chrysler creditors "speculators" and castigated them for refusing to accept his extortionist reorganization plan. He berated Wall Street for making profits, saying "now is not (the) time" for them to "rake in profits." He and his wife even railed against the pursuit of profit in their respective commencement addresses.

He abused the power of his office to steal money from GM and Chrysler shareholders and transfer it to the proletariat, I mean, the United Auto Workers. He redistributed taxpayer money from those who have paid their mortgages to those who have not.

He is desperately trying to spread the misery and impoverish businesses and individuals through his cap and tax plan, which no proponent of economic growth and prosperity would consider supporting. And in addition to gobbling up other businesses and industries, he is trying to nationalize medicine -- to siphon off the evil surplus value charged by doctors and insurance companies -- on the flawed Marxist theory that he can reduce costs overall, when the reason health care costs have already skyrocketed is that market forces have been suppressed in the industry.

You don't have to call him a Marxist, but at least understand where his heart is.
Walks like a duck. Sounds like a duck. Looks like a duck. But it is not a duck. Riiiggghhhttt...
Prison is too good for these people -- they need to be marooned somewhere in the distant arctic with a supply ship visiting them once/year to bring canned food. Bad canned food. From The Huffington Post:
National Archives Gone Missing: Lincoln Civil War Telegraphs, Photos Of The Moon, And More
National Archives visitors know they'll find the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights in the main building's magnificent rotunda in Washington. But they won't find the patent file for the Wright Brothers' Flying Machine or the maps for the first atomic bomb missions anywhere in the Archives inventory.

Many historical items the Archives once possessed are missing, including:
  • Civil War telegrams from Abraham Lincoln.
  • Original signatures of Andrew Jackson.
  • Presidential portraits of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
  • NASA photographs from space and on the moon.
  • Presidential pardons
Some were stolen by researchers or Archives employees. Others simply disappeared without a trace.

And there's more gone from the nation's record keeper.

The Archives' inspector general, Paul Brachfeld, is conducting a criminal investigation into a missing external hard drive with copies of sensitive records from the Clinton administration. On the hard drive were Social Security numbers, including one for one of former Vice President Al Gore's daughters.

Because the equipment also may include classified information, Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, calls it a a major national security breach.

Brachfeld has documented thousands of electronic storage devices, including computers and servers, that have gone missing over the past decade from the National Archives and Records Administration.

Grassley, who has demanded an accounting of all missing items, said the loss of historical documents "robs our nation of its history and is completely unacceptable."

The Archives' stewardship of the nation's records has been questioned before. In a well-publicized incident, former President Bill Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, took documents from the Archives in the fall of 2003 while preparing, along with other ex-Clinton administration officials, for testimony to the Sept. 11 commission.

In September 2005, Berger was sentenced to two years of probation, 100 hours of community service, a $50,000 fine and loss of his security clearance for three years.
They have a list of other 'tards who were caught and the punishment is a fscking slap on the wrist. The worst punishment was two years in jail. There may be a low "cash value" to some of these items but they represent our nations DNA and are, in that sense, invaluable. The National Archives is holding these items in trust for the Citizens of the United States and the safeguard is their responsibility. If they are failing, they need to be audited deeply. Here is the list. Here is one of the pieces -- a one out of five Museum proof of a Frederic Remington statue cast in Silver given to Bush41. It weighs 70 pounds. This is not something you casually slip into a jacket pocket.
I realize that the National Archives take care of a huge amount of materials and that this loss represents only a fraction of a percent but still, any loss is tragic and the idea that people are specifically targeting valuable items means that there is rot in the ranks and a thorough housecleaning needs to be done...
UPDATE at the end... And this time, it's the state of Iowa. From the Quad-City Times:
Bettendorf woman says state wants late veteran�s assets
Two tours in Vietnam.

A Purple Heart.

A welding accident.

A wheelchair.

Death at 61.

A bill for $277,186.96.

Two months after Roger Lennon died, the woman who took care of him for more than a dozen years got a bill in the mail. The state of Iowa said the Bettendorf veteran owes almost $300,000 for the medical care he received in the state-run veterans home.

"I called them and said, 'Is this a joke?'" Sarah Miller said. "Who has that kind of money? And I was with Roger every time he was signed into the Iowa Veterans Home in Marshalltown. They never said anything about billing him after he passed."

The spokesman for the Iowa Department of Human Services, which runs Medicaid for the state, said Lennon should have known the state would pursue any remaining assets after his death.
In 1990, he was badly injured in a welding explosion in Bettendorf. After brain surgery, his ability to move changed dramatically. Most of the time, he was in a wheelchair.

"He could walk some with a quad cane, but he needed care," said Miller, his companion of 20 years. "He went through hell."

When he was awarded a modest settlement from the explosion, Lennon invested part of it. He and Miller put their money together to buy two rental properties, using the income as a retirement investment.

When Lennon lived - off and on - at the Veterans Home in Marshalltown, whatever money he made went to the state. He turned over his half of the rental income, $350, along with his veteran's benefits to the home in Marshalltown.

Meanwhile, Miller took care of the two properties they owned together. Now, she said, the state is demanding half of their value after Lennon's death on March 31.

"For the seven years Roger was in and out of Marshalltown, the houses were my expense," she said. "I paid the property taxes, put in the septic system the county required a few years ago, and I put in a new furnace in one.

"None of those expenses, including the taxes, are necessary expenses, according to the state. The only so-called legitimate expense was the funeral. They want half the value of the houses. It doesn't matter how much I saved the state for the 13 years I took care of him."

One of the homes is valued at $42,920, she said, and the other is worth about $35,000. Both are in Bettendorf.

The letter from DHS, indicating a debt of $277,186.96 begins, "We have been informed of the death of the above person, and we wish to express our sincere condolences."

The third paragraph, highlighted in bold, states, "This debt must be, and can only be, paid from anything that the individual owned or had an interest in at the time of death."
And these are the people who are currently giving aid and comfort to our Veterans. Just imagine what it will be like when they are the people controlling everybody's medical care. When you pencil out the numbers, there are only about 5% of the US population who are genuinely without any kind of recourse for medical aid. Why don't we address them directly instead of trying to fit everyone into the same Procrustean Bed. Since Medicare actually works pretty well, how about lowering the age limit to 21 -- that would solve the problem without introducing any new agencies and would not impact the people who are satisfied with their healthcare... UPDATE: One commenter mentioned that the bill was coming from the State Medicaid program and if you are indigent, it is an assist but if you obtain property -- even after the time of care -- the assistance becomes a loan and they can and will collect on it. This mitigates my anger a little bit but not by much. For the agency to be so harsh to Ms. Miller speaks volumes on the bureaucratic mindset.
Here is a picture dump from the Bellingham Tea Party (TEA=Taxed Enough Already)
This is just one of them. For the remaining 28, click on the red "Continue reading" link just below...

Going Vegan - part two

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I had posted earlier about some research that was done on Vegan Restaurants in the Los Angeles area. Here is a follow-up from Quarry Girl:
Operation Pancake: The plot thickens�
From the moment that we got our first POSITIVE result when sampling a �vegan� menu item from one of our favorite LA-area vegan restaurants, we knew that we were on to something with Operation Pancake. When POSITIVE readings gave way to HIGH and OVERLOAD results we were quite shocked. For us, though, the most memorable moment was when we unpacked the �vegan cheese (no casein) quesadilla� from Green Leaves Vegan and the acidic smell of �real� cheese came right at us out of the box as our sample crept toward OVERLOAD. We stepped back. We retested. We then warmed the quesadilla, played with the stretchy, greasy cheese and realized that the multitude of tip-offs we�d been getting about the sketchy ingredients and evasive staff members at Green Leaves Vegan might just be true.

We wrote this post as a follow-up to address some questions from the 250+ comments on this blog as well as the thousands of comments around the web.
What follows is an interesting cross section of restaurants that were mortified and wanted very much for the folks at Quarry Girl to come in and help them with further testing to one restaurant that:
A lady who picked up when I asked to speak with a manager screamed at me �DON�T COME HERE AGAIN� and hung up the �phone.
A fascinating story and I am glad to see that they are following through.
What an idiot -- from the London Daily Mail:
MI6 chief blows his cover as wife's Facebook account reveals family holidays, showbiz friends and links to David Irving
The new head of MI6 has been left exposed by a major personal security breach after his wife published intimate photographs and family details on the Facebook website.

Sir John Sawers is due to take over as chief of the Secret Intelligence Service in November, putting him in charge of all Britain's spying operations abroad.

But his wife's entries on the social networking site have exposed potentially compromising details about where they live and work, who their friends are and where they spend their holidays.

Amazingly, she had put virtually no privacy protection on her account, making it visible to any of the site's 200 million users who chose to be in the open-access 'London' network - regardless of where in the world they actually were.

There are fears that the hugely embarrassing blunder may have compromised the safety of Sir John's family and friends.

Lady Shelley Sawers' extraordinary lapse exposed the couple's friendships with senior diplomats and well-known actors, including Moir Leslie, who plays a leading character in The Archers. And it revealed that the intelligence chief's brother-in-law - who holidayed with him last month - is an associate of the controversial Right-wing historian David Irving.

Immediately after The Mail on Sunday alerted the Foreign Office to the astonishing misjudgment, all trace of the material � which could potentially be useful to hostile foreign powers or terrorists - was removed from the internet.
Gaaa -- of course the offending information was removed from the facebook site but what about Google Cache or The Internet Wayback Machine. Talk about not taking a job seriously...
Bad news from the antipodes -- from the Australian branch of news.com:
Wine prices driven lower than water
A Wine glut has driven prices lower than bottled water as the industry faces an unprecedented meltdown and a fire-sale of unprofitable vineyards.

The price collapse and overplanting has forced Australia's biggest winemaker, Foster's, owner of prestigious labels such as Lindemans and Penfolds, to sell 31 vineyards across the country, including 16 in South Australia and nine in New South Wales.

Major wine retailer Dan Murphy's is currently selling cleanskins for $1.99 a bottle - cheaper than some bottled water - due to the oversupply crisis that has led to some vineyard owners leaving grapes to wither on the vine.

"We've seen growers who didn't bother picking their grapes this year," said wine industry critic and judge Stuart Gregor.

"There is a huge oversupply and we have more grapes than we are selling, and prices are being pushed down."

A Dan Murphy's spokeswoman said the company had offered $1.99 bottles for short periods several times due to the supply glut.

A crisis meeting by winemakers concluded that 20 per cent of vines needed to be phased out in the next three years to re-address the imbalance, said Winemakers Federation of Australia director Mitchell Taylor.
And one of the ancillary problems (the quote is from wine commentator Jeremy Oliver):
"Some vineyards are just being left. People are walking away, which is leading to concern that disease could take over and spread into other properties," he said.
Another bubble -- the wine business was doing so well that they over-expanded. Now, seeing as how they are not asking for federal bailouts, the wine business will go through a couple of crappy years, reorganize and come back stronger than ever with the correct number of vineyards and volume of production. Those vineyards that have a great product will survive, those that were not as well known probably will not. This correction will only take five years at most. If the AU government bailed them out, the correction would be postponed, crappy producers would have no financial incentive to improve and the bursting of the bubble will be that much more painful down the road. Roosevelt prolonged the Great Depression for decades and never ended it, it was our entering the European War that finally brought us out. And now we have a President who is using Roosevelt's actions as a model. The sooner the foul stench of Keynesian economics is wiped off the face of this Earth, the better. The Austrians were right.
From the London Times:
Saudis give nod to Israeli raid on Iran
The head of Mossad, Israel�s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran�s nuclear sites.

Earlier this year Meir Dagan, Mossad�s director since 2002, held secret talks with Saudi officials to discuss the possibility.

The Israeli press has already carried unconfirmed reports that high-ranking officials, including Ehud Olmert, the former prime minister, held meetings with Saudi colleagues. The reports were denied by Saudi officials.

�The Saudis have tacitly agreed to the Israeli air force flying through their airspace on a mission which is supposed to be in the common interests of both Israel and Saudi Arabia,� a diplomatic source said last week.

Although the countries have no formal diplomatic relations, an Israeli defence source confirmed that Mossad maintained �working relations� with the Saudis.

John Bolton, the former US ambassador to the United Nations who recently visited the Gulf, said it was �entirely logical� for the Israelis to use Saudi airspace.

Bolton, who has talked to several Arab leaders, added: �None of them would say anything about it publicly but they would certainly acquiesce in an overflight if the Israelis didn�t trumpet it as a big success.�

Arab states would condemn a raid when they spoke at the UN but would be privately relieved to see the threat of an Iranian bomb removed, he said.
Bolton summed it up perfectly: "but would be privately relieved to see the threat of an Iranian bomb removed" Iran is sitting on 40% of the known Middle Eastern oil reserves. The idea that they need nuclear power for electricity is absurd.

Holy fustercluck. Talk about bad timing for a major software update release and piss poor testing. From The Register:

McAfee false-positive glitch fells PCs worldwide
IT admins across the globe are letting out a collective groan after servers and PCs running McAfee VirusScan were brought down when the anti-virus program attacked their core system files. In some cases, this caused the machines to display the dreaded blue screen of death.

Details are still coming in, but forums here and here show that it's affecting McAfee customers in Germany, Italy, and elsewhere. A UK-based Reg reader, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized by his employer to speak to the press, said the glitch simultaneously leveled half of a customer's 140 machines after they updated to the latest virus signature file.

"Literally half of the machines were down with this McAfee anti-virus message IDing valid programs as having this trojan," the IT consultant said. "Literally half the office switched off their PCs and were just twiddling their thumbs."

When the consultant returned to his office he was relieved that his own laptop, which also uses VirusScan, was working normally. Then, suddenly, when it installed the latest McAfee DAT file, his computer was also smitten. The anti-virus program identified winvnc.exe and several other legitimate files as malware and attempted to quarantine them. With several core system files out of commission, the machine was rendered an expensive paperweight.

A McAfee representative in the US didn't immediately respond to phone calls seeking comment. Friday is a holiday for many US employees in observance of Saturday's Independence Day.

Based on anecdotes, the glitch appears to be caused when older VirusScan engines install DAT 5664, which McAfee seems to have pushed out in the past 24 hours. Affected systems then begin identifying a wide variety of legitimate - and frequently crucial - system files as malware. Files belonging to Microsoft Internet Explorer, drivers for Compaq computers, and even the McAfee-associated McScript.exe were being identified as a trojan called PWS!hv.aq, according to the posts and interviews.

We're still trying to determine how widespread this false-positive glitch is being felt and whether people have found any reliable fixes.

When you push out any critical systems update, you first run a battery of tests to make sure that it has no adverse impact on host systems. This would include testing against all of the versions of the host systems that were ever let loose into the wild (and ones that were not -- someone may be running a beta from five years ago and forgot that they needed to upgrade because it still runs just fine). The idiot that pushed that out the door on the day of a long weekend will have a new phrase to use when working at his next job: "Would you like fries with that?"

Fremont is a curious little district of Seattle. It is nestled between the port area of Ballard and the residential area of Wallingford. It lies along the Ship Canal and was for a long time, an industrial area. Up until about 20 years ago, rents for commercial building space were incredibly cheap so it became the de-facto artists community. Now, it is showing yuppification and gentrification (Adobe's headquarters is there) but there is still a lot of the old spirit showing. From the Seattle Post Intelligencer:

Video: Zombies perform "Thriller" in Fremont
The streets of Fremont were crawling with the "undead" on Friday night. The frightful beings gathered in the Seattle neighborhood with the intention of breaking the Guiness Book of Records standing record for the largest zombie walk. It was announced near the end of the limping and groaning event that they might have been short of the record of 3,370.

However the zombies did a fine rendition of that zombie classic "Thriller."

Here is one image from the slide show:


And... it seems that the number of people was high enough. 3,848 and they had to beat 3,370 Mmmmm -- time for some dinner. Fresh Braaaiiinnnssss....

Back from the Tea Party

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Took a lot of pictures, got to have a fun five minutes talking to a pair of 9/11 troofers and a good time was had by all. I would guess that it was about 2,500 to 3,000 people -- a slow start but around 1:30, the sidewalks were jammed with people. Probably about 50% more than the April 15th Tea Party. I'll have some photos up later this evening.

For your Independence Day viewing

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The Stars and Stipes Forever
I was at the last Tea party on April 15th where about 2,500 people showed up. Heading into town in a few hours for this one: Bellingham Tea
About Us
The Bellingham Tea Party is a non-partisan group made up of local citizens who are alarmed by the excesses of the US Federal Government, and want it to return to the founding principles as specified in the US Constitution.

Our mission is to motivate and educate our fellow citizens about the founding principles. To this end, we organized the highly successful Bellingham Tea Party of April 15, 2009. We plan to organize and sponsor other motivational and educational activities in the future.

The US Constitution, including the Bill of Rights and all the other amendments is a mere 19 pages, with lots of white space, and yet it defines the the entire US Federal Government and all of its roles and responsibilities. You can read and understand the US Constitution in one evening. It doesn't require a Harvard law degree. By contrast, the "stimulus" package was over a thousand pages, and we know that most members of congress didn't read it or understand it. We believe that everyone should know what is in the Constitution, and they should insist that the US Federal Government abide by it. Any regime that distorts or disregards the Constitution is untrustworthy and dangerous.

Obama's shift

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Victor Davis Hanson takes a short but interesting look at Barack Obama's campaign promises and what is happening today. From the National Review Online:
Obama II vs. Obama I
I don't think it has occurred to the divine ones that the administration now is at odds with the sort of ideology and attitudes Obama himself espoused on the campaign trail.

They call for patience and for confidence in Iraq � and not, in prior Obama-like fashion, dismiss our chances while demanding a strict and rather rapid timetable to get out.

They ask for understanding about renditions, tribunals, Guantanamo, intercepts, wiretaps, and Predator missile attacks as complex issues � and not, in prior Obama-like fashion, dismiss these necessary tools as Constitution-shredding authoritarianism.

They ask for patience on jobs � and not, in prior Obama-like fashion, pontificate about a "jobless recovery" when jobs and growth were far better.

They reassure us that missile defense is insurance against North Korean lunacy � and not, in prior Obama-like fashion, dismiss such investment as needless militaristic provocation.

They ask for latitude about the definition of what is a tax, what defines unemployment, and how we calibrate deficits � and not, in prior Obama-like fashion, blast obfuscation while promising "transparency."

They reassure that their planted questions, the favoritism shown some journalists, the refusal to release White House visit logs, and the arbitrary firing of inconvenient auditors are nothing new � and not, in prior Obama-like fashion, charge government intimidation and suppression of thought.

They ignore corruption in the Democratic-controlled Congress, cater to lobbyists, are not bothered by the tax improprieties of their major cabinet appointments � and do not, in prior Obama-like fashion, demand an end to executive malfeasance.

I know this is old-story politics, but two things are different. One, never has the gap between pre-presidential and in-office behavior been so wide (heaven and earth really are quite distant), and, two, the past promises of utopia have so conditioned a mesmerized media that they don't realize their own complacency in allowing an administration to use whatever means they chose for professedly exalted ends.

This is a strange time, when we are borrowing into oblivion, redefining 60 years of bilateral foreign policy, embarking on unproven � but costly � environmentalism, nationalizing industry and health care, and gleefully establishing a veritable state-sanctioned, pro-government media on the lines Americans used to be terrified about.

In response, as I read between the lines, conservatives are told by the Obamans something to the effect, "Forget our prior demagoguery, aren't you at least happy we backtracked and are now adopting some of your war-on-terror positions we used to trash?", while liberals are supposed to be happy with something like, "Just forget all that stuff about ethics, transparency, and anti-lobbying/influence; we're in power now and will do anything necessary to fulfill your agenda."

There will be a backlash to all this, and one of unprecedented fury.
Hansen brilliantly articulates what I have been feeling over the last three months -- times are going to be interesting and 2010 will be a fun election year. 2012 even better!

On the road again - Ms. Rachel Veitch

Meet Ms. Rachel Veitch of Orlando, Florida. She knows how to take care of an automobile. From the Detroit News:

557,000 miles on her Chariot
Sweet old Rachel Veitch of Orlando, Fla., could be the ruination of the automobile industry. But at least she's cute.

When GrowingBolder.com first interviewed her, she was 89 years old and had 540,000 miles on her 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente. Now she's 90, still packing a sharp tongue and a stubby pistol, and the odometer has clicked past 557,000.

Unlike her three husbands, Veitch says, the Mercury has "never lied to me, never cheated on me, and I can always depend on her."

Veitch is on her seventh Midas muffler, and thank you, gentlemen, for the lifetime warranty. She's had three sets of Sears shock absorbers, also through a lifetime warranty. And though the number seems high, she claims to have had 16 free batteries, courtesy of J.C. Penney and Firestone.

"She's demonstrating the perfect way to take care of a car," says Mike Hardie, director of global quality and productivity for Ford Motor Co., and that's what makes her a menace.

"If everyone did that," he says, "we'd never sell another one, so don't spread it around too far."

Hat tip to Miss Celania writing at Neatorama for the link to this great story.

Our representatives sure love spending our money don't they. The latest from The Wall Street Journal:
Congress's Travel Tab Swells
Spending on Taxpayer-Funded Trips Rises Tenfold; From Italy to the Gal�pagos

Spending by lawmakers on taxpayer-financed trips abroad has risen sharply in recent years, a Wall Street Journal analysis of travel records shows, involving everything from war-zone visits to trips to exotic spots such as the Gal�pagos Islands.

The spending on overseas travel is up almost tenfold since 1995, and has nearly tripled since 2001, according to the Journal analysis of 60,000 travel records. Hundreds of lawmakers traveled overseas in 2008 at a cost of about $13 million. That's a 50% jump since Democrats took control of Congress two years ago.
A reason why:
Lawmakers say that the trips are a good use of government funds because they allow members of Congress and their staff members to learn more about the world, inspect U.S. assets abroad and forge better working relationships with each other. The travel, for example, includes official visits to American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
How about just picking up the phone for a change instead of landing under sniper fire in Bosnia. And some of the costs incurred:
Congressional Fleet
The congressional trips are possible thanks in part to an unlimited fund created by a three-decade old law. Nearly two dozen government officials work full-time organizing the trips. Much of the costs are not made public, including the cost of flying on government jets. The Air Force maintains a fleet of 16 passenger planes for use by lawmakers.

Documents obtained by the Journal show that the cost of flying a small group of lawmakers to the Middle East is about $150,000. Larger trips on the Air Force's version of the Boeing 757 cost about $12,000 an hour. Two federal agencies pay for most of the travel -- the Defense Department and the State Department.
I am reminded of this great quote:
"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."
--Benjamin Franklin
Remember, it is our tax dollars that these people are spending...

Nice job if you can get it

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Wow! Talk about supreme Geek Fu! From The Salt Lake Tribune:
Spies like us: NSA to build huge facility in Utah
Hoping to protect its top-secret operations by decentralizing its massive computer hubs, the National Security Agency will build a 1-million-square-foot data center at Utah's Camp Williams.

The years-in-the-making project, which may cost billions over time, got a $181 million start last week when President Obama signed a war spending bill in which Congress agreed to pay for primary construction, power access and security infrastructure. The enormous building, which will have a footprint about three times the size of the Utah State Capitol building, will be constructed on a 200-acre site near the Utah National Guard facility's runway.

Congressional records show that initial construction -- which may begin this year -- will include tens of millions in electrical work and utility construction, a $9.3 million vehicle inspection facility, and $6.8 million in perimeter security fencing. The budget also allots $6.5 million for the relocation of an existing access road, communications building and training area.

Officials familiar with the project say it may bring as many as 1,200 high-tech jobs to Camp Williams, which borders Salt Lake, Utah and Tooele counties.

It will also require at least 65 megawatts of power -- about the same amount used by every home in Salt Lake City combined. A separate power substation will have to be built at Camp Williams to sustain that demand, said Col. Scott Olson, the Utah National Guard's legislative liaison.
Emphasis mine. Talk about serious computer power! A bit more:
The NSA's heavily automated computerized operations have for years been based at Fort Meade, Maryland, but the agency began looking to decentralize its efforts following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Propelling that desire was the insatiable energy appetite of the agency's computers. In 2006, the Baltimore Sun reported that the NSA -- Baltimore Gas & Electric's biggest customer -- had maxed out the local grid and could not bring online several supercomputers it needed to expand its operations.
I would love to spend six months there just wandering around finding what people were doing. This is an amazing collection of computer power.
Highly toxic assets that is. From Bloomberg:
GM Plans �Garage Sale� for Toxic Plants, Golf Course
As General Motors Corp. prepares to sell its best assets to a streamlined new entity, the worst of what it owns will be auctioned off in bankruptcy court, including contaminated factory sites, parking lots in Flint, Michigan, and a nine-hole golf course in New Jersey.

One property the carmaker is ditching is a foundry in Massena, New York, bordered on the east by the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reservation and on the north by the St. Lawrence River. Built to make aluminum cylinder heads for the Chevrolet Corvair in the 1950s, it generated PCB sludge and waste from hydraulic fluids.

�It was created by GM dumping hazardous waste on the banks of the river, such that the waste oozed into the water and the land,� said John Privitera, a lawyer for the tribe at McNamee Lochner Titus & Williams PC in Albany, New York. �It was picked up by animals and moved up the food chain through fish and into Mohawk women -- into their breast milk, into their babies.�

The largest U.S. automaker, following its smaller rival Chrysler LLC, is using the bankruptcy process to spin off a new entity with reduced costs and debt while leaving the old GM with unwanted property and obligations to creditors, dealers, retirees, accident victims and environmental agencies.

The discarded assets will be all that creditors have to satisfy their claims as GM starts to unwind liabilities of $172.8 billion -- more than twice its reported assets.
So rather than clean up these sites, they just let them sit fallow. I am wondering if they had asked for and received any money to clean them up at an earlier time and if so, where did it go. More on the Massena area from the EPA and General Motors specifically from Silo Breaker. Sick fucks...
Saw this over at the Instadude's site and had to share:
I wish...
From CBS News:
Sarah Palin To Resign As Alaska Governor
At Hastily Convened Press Conference Says She Will Not Run for 2nd Term, Mum On Future Plans

Sarah Palin has announced that she will resign as governor of Alaska and will not seek a second term.

CBS Affiliate KTVA reports that at a press conference this morning Palin said she will resign the governorship within a few weeks.

CBSNews.com producer Scott Conroy, who covered Palin's vice presidential campaign last year, confirmed through a source close to the governor said she is leaving office.

Earlier today, a holiday, Palin sent out an early morning press release indicating that she would be making an announcement from her home in Wasilla.

Joining Palin were her parents, family and state commissioners.

Palin said that power will be transferred to Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, who will be sworn in during the upcoming governor's picnic in Fairbanks.

She did not field questions, and would not give any indications about her future plans.
I hope that she and her family are all right. It is a bit early to start campaigning for 2012.

How Germany sees us

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Hat tip to Rachel Lucas for this link to Der Spiegel and to Chancellor Angela Merkel's view of the Obama Presidency:
Chancellor Merkel Visits the Debt President
The occupant of the White House may have changed recently. But the amount of ill-advised ideology coming from Washington has remained constant. Obama's list of economic errors is long -- and continues to grow.

The president may have changed, but the excesses of American politics have remained. Barack Obama and George W. Bush, it has become clear, are more similar than they might seem at first glance.

Ex-President Bush was nothing if not zealous in his worldwide campaign against terror, transgressing human rights and breaking international law along the way. Now, Obama is displaying the same zeal in his own war against the financial crisis -- and his weapon of choice is the money-printing machine. The rules the new American president is breaking are those which govern the economy. Nobody is being killed. But the strategy comes at a price -- and that price might be America's position as a global power.
A bit more:
Obama's Cheney
Obama's Cheney is named Larry Summers. He is Obama's senior-most economic advisor, and like the former vice president, he is a man of conviction. The financial crisis may be large, but Summers' self-confidence is even larger. More importantly, President Barack Obama follows him like a dog does its master.

The crisis, Summers intoned last week at a conference of Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Society in Washington, was caused by too much confidence, too much credit and too many debts. It was hard not to nod along in agreement.

But then Summers added that the way to bring about an end to the crisis was -- more confidence, more credit and more debt. And the nodding stopped. Experts and non-experts alike were perplexed. Even in an interview following the presentation, Summers was unable to supply an adequate explanation for how a crisis caused by frivolous lending was going to be solved through yet more frivolity.
Rachel also linked to this article:
Merkel Faces Difficult Talks in Washington
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is traveling to Washington this week to discuss the financial crisis and climate change with US President Barack Obama -- two issues where Germany and the US are deeply divided. In the new world order, Europe is looking increasingly irrelevant for the US.
And a bit more:
As it is, the US president in person is by no means the charming and smiling character many have come to expect from his television appearances. He cultivates a cool style or, as one of the members of the delegation describes it, "an almost unfeeling style."
Our supreme leader indeed... The question now is how many years will it take to undo the harm he has caused when he gets booted out of office in 2012.

Barney Frank - always classy

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The sooner this odious little turd is out of power, the better. The man is a craven idiot. From John Hinderaker at Powerline:
Quick, Spend the Money Before the Taxpayers Find Out!
Byron York catches Barney Frank with his hand in the till. The issue is TARP: recall that the banks that received TARP money are supposed to repay it to the Treasury, along with dividend payments. President Obama has held out hope that the taxpayers may, in the end, make money on the TARP program. Recall, too, that TARP was billed as an extraordinary response to an unacceptable risk--that the nation's financial system might come crashing down. So the federal government bailed out the banks, but the banks were supposed to repay the money and the TARP statute provides that when the money is repaid, it "shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt." Which, of course, benefits the taxpayers who put up the money.

The greedy Congressman Frank apparently can't bear the idea of taxpayers getting their money back, so he has proposed to divert the money to a more politically appealing purpose. York explains:
Now Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has come up with a proposal to spend any TARP profits before they can be returned to the taxpayers. Last Friday, Frank introduced the "TARP for Main Street Act of 2009," a bill that would take profits from the program and immediately redirect them toward housing proposals favored by Frank and some fellow Democrats. ...

The original TARP legislation required that money made from the program "shall be paid into the general fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt."

But now Frank wants to spend the money before it can be used to pay down anything. First, the "TARP for Main Street" proposal would take $1 billion "from dividends paid by financial institutions that have received financial assistance provided under...the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act" and apply it to a trust fund that Frank has long wanted to create for low-income rental housing. (The measure, unfunded, was part of last year's bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.) Next, Frank would take $1.5 billion from TARP dividends for a so-called "neighborhood stabilization" fund. Republican critics have charged that both measures might allow federal dollars to be distributed to activist groups like the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now, or ACORN.

The "TARP for Main Street" bill would also spend $2 billion, apparently from remaining TARP funds, to subsidize people who are delinquent on their mortgages, and another $2 billion to "stabilize multifamily properties that are in default or foreclosure."
So TARP would be transmuted into another slush fund for pet Democratic Party projects and constituencies. Phone or email your Congressman and Senators.
These people are supposed to be representing us. Instead, they spend their time playing with our money in their own private sandbox, isolated from their constituants. This kind of naked power grab is obscene and makes the United States look bad to other Nations.

A serious WTF moment - END22

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This is an egregious power grab -- no wonder Obama is so supportive of the Honduran president who tried (and failed so far) to end the restriction on term limits. President for life Barack Hussein Obama? Not if I have anything to say about it... From the END22 website:
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected President of the United States four times. FDR died early in his fourth term after serving three full, successful terms. It was his leadership that brought our great country out of Economic Crisis and War.

Congress passed the 22nd Amendment on March 21, 1947 to limit future Presidents to two terms and took the choice out of the hands of the American People, where it belongs.

History has no way of determining what would have happened to the United States if Roosevelt had been limited to two terms and had been unable to lead us out of the Great Depression and through World War II. With our current crisis, the American People need to take back their right to elect the leader of their choice. The task is too large and the risk is too great - we must act now!
The hyperbolic emphases are all theirs. What a steaming pile of crap: "lead us out of the Great Depression" Roosevelt prolonged the depression with the same kind of spending on make-work projects idiocy that Obama is trying today. I must note that the WPA did some wonderful work on the National Parks and the dam and hydro systems are still running fine. Do we see Obama doing anything there? No. It was only the entry of the United States into World War II that the factories started getting real jobs and the Federal monies started to pay for those salaries that the economy started to turn around. As a War leader, Roosevelt was basically ineffectual; fortunately, he knew this and he became the go-between between the Military and the general public -- fireside chats and all that. People like Patton, Eisenhower, Groves -- they are the ones who won the War. There is no information as to who is behind this -- the about page has the following:
Launched on January 20, 2009, the day of Barack Obama's first inauguration, END22.com was founded by a group of ordinary Americans: Democrats, Republicans and Independents, who found common ground in their belief that the Twenty-Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is unnecessarily restrictive and takes away the basic right that we may select the person of our choice to lead us.
It will be interesting to do a little digging...

A walk down memory lane

I have done photography for forty years at least -- still have both of my Nikon F2 bodies and all the lenses.

They work great on my D1X and my D90 (love that camera!).

For six years, I owned a copy and print shop in Seattle. I had been interested in Graphic Arts and typesetting most of my life so this seemed like a good idea and it was -- made some decent money. I still have a lot of the smaller pieces of equipment (dearly regret selling my stat camera though).

If you are into Graphic Arts, check out this wonderful Museum of Forgotten Art Supplies.

Click on each thumbnail for a larger image and an explanation.

Here is their photo for the Agfa Repromaster (the one I had was made by the same company, just a few models lower down -- I didn't need the auto exposure stuff...)


Helen Thomas at the White House

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I was going to comment about how she put Robert Gibbs in his place but Vanderleun does so in his usual superlative style. A wonderful read.
Mr. Pecksniff Meets the Press
Peck�sniff�i�an adj. Hypocritically benevolent; sanctimonious.

Is it my imagination or is Robert Gibbs now so out-front arrogant and condescending that even the whores of the White House Press Corps are beginning to feel insulted every time he opens his mouth?

More and more Gibbs, as can certainly be seen here, is proving to be the very model of that modern Obama apparatchik; a model updated for our era into the very glass and form of a Little Hitler reigning secure in the White House Dwarf Cavern.

We all know the contemporary type of "Little Hitlers." We meet them whenever we have to interact with people whose positions do not rest upon doing a good job but upon pleasing some master above them. Most often we see them in Government bureaucracies where rules are not announced to you until you break them. At which point you are instructed, in the patient smarmy tones reserved for pre-schoolers, to "fill out the proper form" or "obtain the proper documents," and then come back to wait in the longer line in the next building.
Wonderful stuff -- this is only the briefest of excerpts. Go and Read.

It's down, it's up - what is happening?

From the Mackinac Center for Public Policy comes this exploration of the water level of the Great Lakes:
Great Lakes Water Levels Are Up: Must be Global Cooling
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reports that Great Lakes water levels are up from this time a year ago. Lakes Michigan and Huron are up 12 inches, Lake Superior 2 inches and Lake Erie 5 inches while Lake Ontario is unchanged. Even Lake St. Clair is up 9 inches. Erie and Ontario (and St. Clair) are between 2 and 6 inches above long-term monthly averages for June. Superior, Michigan and Huron are only 6 to 7 inches below long-term averages for June. While this change in the water levels is pronounced, it is not unusual. The Great Lakes have a history of considerable fluctuation in water levels.

During the last 10 years, water levels in the Great Lakes have been below long-term averages. For 30 years prior to that the levels were above average. In fact, historical water level data indicates there is no normal water level for the Great Lakes. A normal water level and an average water level are not the same thing.

The press has been quick to report on lower-than-average Great Lakes levels over the last decade. Many of the articles quote environmental and other groups predicting the dire consequences of global warming's influence. "Warming saps Great Lakes: Water levels could take big drop as Earth gets hotter" is the headline of an article that appeared April 7, 2007, in The Detroit News. In the article, Scudder Mackey of Canada's University of Windsor predicts that in a worst case scenario, Lake St. Clair's shoreline could recede by as much as 3.5 miles. In the same article George Kling, a University of Michigan ecologist, suggests that within 30 years summers in Michigan are likely to feel more like those in Kentucky today and that by the end of the century, summer weather will resemble Arkansas and northern Mississippi.
Take note of the line: "The press has been quick to report on lower-than-average Great Lakes levels over the last decade" Ten years ago was 1999. In 1998, the sun's output started declining. There had been a 30 year upward trend of global temperatures but this stopped in 1998. We had about five years of no increase and then, the last five-six years, the overall temperature has been going down. All the while, the sun is being very very quiet. Temperatures on Mars are down as well as evidenced by the increased extent of the polar ice caps. Who do you believe -- a politician with an agenda to promote or a scientist or professional actively working their field?
From George Will writing at the Charlotte Observer:

Green jobs carry high price
The Spanish professor is puzzled. Why, Gabriel Calzada wonders, is the U.S. president recommending that America emulate the Spanish model for creating 'green jobs' in 'alternative energy' even though Spain's unemployment rate is 18.1 percent -- more than double the European Union average -- partly because of spending on such jobs?

Calzada, 36, an economics professor at Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, has produced a report which, if true, is inconvenient for the Obama administration's green agenda, and for some budget assumptions that are dependent upon it.

Calzada says Spain's torrential spending -- no other nation has so aggressively supported production of electricity from renewable sources -- on wind farms and other forms of alternative energy has indeed created jobs. But Calzada's report concludes that they often are temporary and have received $752,000 to $800,000 each in subsidies. Wind industry jobs cost even more, $1.4 million each. And each new job entails the loss of 2.2 other jobs that are either lost or not created in other industries because of the political allocation -- sub-optimum in terms of economic efficiency -- of capital.
The idea is noble. The rhetoric is mellifluent. The models say great things. The only problem is that it flat does not work. The model is bogus and the numbers simply do not pencil out. It happened in Spain, it will happen here too. Nuclear power now.

Talk about trying to sue your way out of being an idiot. From Lowering the Bar:

Court: Man Burned at Burning Man Assumed Risk of Being Burned by Burning Man
On June 30, the California Court of Appeal held that a man who was burned by the huge bonfire that ends the Burning Man festival each year could not sue the festival organizers. Anthony Beninati admitted he had intentionally walked into the fire, and that he had previously known fire was hot. But he argued, basically, that the organizers were negligent because they should not have let him approach the fire so closely.

He did not win.

The defendants argued the lawsuit was barred by the doctrine of "primary assumption of the risk." This doctrine bars negligence claims by someone who was hurt while participating in an activity "involving an inherent risk of injury to voluntary participants . . ., where the risk cannot be eliminated without altering the fundamental nature of the activity." To date, California courts have applied this only if the activity is a sport of some kind, although a couple of cases have stretched that definition a bit (unless you think "recreational dancing" and being pulled behind a boat on an inner tube are "sports").

Generally, walking into a bonfire is not considered a "sport," so this case squarely presented the question whether the doctrine should apply to anything else. The court held that, at least on these facts, it did.

But... but... the fire huuurrrt me! Deserves what he got. No mention if recreational drugs were involved.

Just Wow!

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The show was just wonderful -- I was a fan of Shawn Colvin when she first started recording and her voice has gotten a lot more powerful with more depth behind it. The three-part harmony was ethereal. They played a solid two hours and came back for a couple of encores. There were a few tickets available at the gate but these quickly sold out. The Zoo now has a new and much larger stage so the lighting and PA is now up to commercial venue standards.

No posting today - down to Seattle

Heading down to Seattle for one of these concerts: Zoo Tunes Specifically:
With the �Three Girls and Their Buddy� tour, seminal singer-songwriters Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, and Buddy Miller share the stage to trade music and stories spanning decades of performing experience and musical history. With dozens of albums and Grammy awards between them, these rock and folk fixtures join together to explore the intimate relationships among their musical genres and styles.
Sigh -- I know, life can be rough at times...

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